FTC Disclosure

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't whether I got it free or NOT!

Amazon

Monday, March 30, 2009

Old Hard Drives & Identity Theft

Old hard drives should not be just pitched in the trash. Now for those of you who consider the hard drive the entire case (don’t deny it, many of you do); the hard drive is the area where your data is stored. It looks like the picture labeled hard drive with cover on. This is mounted in your computer case and is where the data is stored. The problem is when you get rid of your old computer, many people just give it away or trash it without removing their personal data. Deleting your personal data does not get rid of it. Any knowledgeable person (practically anyone under 25) can probably retrieve your data that you thought you deleted.

If you are going to give away or throw away your computer you should make sure your data is gone. You can do that by purchasing disk cleaning software such as Evidence Eliminator or CyberCide. You can down load software for free such as SureDeleteDriveWiper or KillDiskSuite. These software products normally will overwrite your data to the point that retrieval is impossible. The irony of this is the frequency with which data you want is lost and can not be retrieved even in a data recovery facility.

You can run a ¼” drill bit through the platters of the drive, that will kill any chances of retrieving data. Platters are illustrated in the photo of a drive with the cover removed. The platters also make great coffee cup coasters and deadly Frisbees. If you are truly creative and want to save your data forever you can do a motorcycle such as illustrated or a hard drive clock.

Whatever you decide to do, in an age of identity theft, please make sure your data is removed before you give up your old computer.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Honor Our Armed Services

My wife got this email as one of those ubiquitous forwards we all receive. She usually deletes them on my advice as so many forwards have been contaminated by malware. She opened this one, read it and thought I would want to read it. She forwarded it to me, I did read it. I pulled it out of the email, cleaned up the formatting and am posting it. I don’t know who wrote it. I don’t know if it is true or not. Even as fiction, it makes a good point. I am not sure I agree with the author as to the disappearance of honor. His actions defy his assertion. Many, perhaps most people today respect the sacrifices our troops and their families are making. We may not agree with why they are in foreign locales but we HONOR their willingness and commitment.

The Sack Lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read, perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought. Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan. After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time.

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base, his friend agreed.
I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill.
'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.' Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars. Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars! Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

High Def Through the Net

Discovering I could get high def through the Internet was truly a treat. I had no idea. I added a EVGA GeForce 6200 256MB 64-bit DDR AGP-8X DVI/VGA/TV Out Video Card to my TV attached computer. (See my blog on the Toshiba 40” LCD.) I got the card at Buy.com for a whopping $39.99 including shipping. That was way cheaper than many 128mb video cards I found. The card interfaced easily, the software on the CD loaded and gave me all the options I needed.

My TV computer is an old P4-3ghz running XP. It only had 512mb of RAM so I goosed up the RAM to 1.5gb by adding a Kingston Technologies 1GB DDR SDRAM Desktop Memory (KVR400/1GR). This is a PC2700, 184pin, DDR memory stick running at 400mhz but downward compatible to 333 and lower. I popped it in and fired up the CPU and it worked as advertised.

Now my TV computer had the specifications to attach it to my new Toshiba LCD and pull down High Def from the Internet. I got a Link Depot Cable 6 Hdmi Male To Dvi-D Male for $3.57 plus shipping & handling of $2.98 for a total of $6.55 at Amazon. The cable was packaged nicely but more importantly worked as advertised.

After a few tweaks to my TV and to the NVIDA software I had ABC.com showing high definition on my TV. Frankly I was surprised that it worked as well and as problem free as it did. Normally little projects seem to blossom into nightmarish experiences. I did discover that if I didn’t turn off PC sound once I configured the video card for HDMI, I had no sound. The analog audio channel is shared between the HDMI and the PC sound so once PC sound was off, the HDMI configuration allowed the sound to come through. So for less than $100.00 I now have the ability to watch High Definition through the Internet. In the memorable words of my beloved spouse, big deal, but I know the gear heads among you will empathize with my successful accomplishment.

This was not a paid blog and I have no financial relationship with any of the above. However if you want to go to my Amazon store and order any of this stuff, feel free.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cloud Computing, Not Really a Myth


Cloud computing is synonymous with confusion. Due to the lemming nature of the computer industry, if something sounds good, attach that label to your product and hope it improves sales. Too many people are claiming a relationship to cloud computing and it is just adding to the confusion.

Simplistically cloud computing is a method that end users may get services over the Internet. Those services can range from use of software without buying it, storage of data remotely or the use of outsourced customer service.

Since outsourcing has become the magic buzz word for saving corporate dollars there is speculation that cloud computing will take over the industry. If each and every business had the same exact needs that might be possible. Since practically every business may approach the same scenario in a different manner, it is unlikely that cloud computing will be the single unique panacea for the masses.

The number of differing vendors of cloud computing offer the potential for rampant incompatibility. Exercise caution on choosing what services you want to do and whom do you want to do it with. I personally still have reservations on the security of many online services. Do I want to trust some random geek to truly care about the safety of my data.

Cloud computing may be the wave of the future. Small businesses with no IT pros on staff often let little things like secure backups remain forever in limbo. Off site data storage, if easily implemented, could be a boon for disaster recovery. Just because a term is over used doesn’t mean there isn’t a kernel of truth hidden somewhere in the hype. Investigate cloud computing, it may have some saving graces for your business.

A good article on cloud computing is on ZDnet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Iomega eGo Camo Rugged Hard Drive


The adage you get what you pay for sometimes is actually true. Iomega has a rugged hard drives that is actually rugged. We all know that a “light” description on food doesn’t necessarily indicate that it truly is low in calories or fat, often just “light” in taste. Well the same advertising gimmicks are used for “ruggedized” computer equipment. Somebody paints it with a camo pattern and calls it rugged. In this case, the drive is apparently rugged in spite of the Camo paint job. Popular Mechanics tested several drives and the Iomega eGo survived a 15 foot drop, was run over by an SUV and continued to work. So for the rest of us who don’t plan on being quite that abusive, the drive is probably going to hold up very well in everyday use. 250gb USB portable drive for $85.00 at Staples is a pretty good deal.

Tech Specs
Preformatted and hot plug-and-play
No AC adapter needed
Compatible with PC and Mac®
USB 2.0/1.1 compatible
Transfer rate: 480 Mbits/s
One-year limited warranty

What You Need:
PC Users:
300 MHz processor or higher
Available USB connection (USB 2.0 host connection or controller for USB 2.0 speeds)
Microsoft® Windows® Vista* / 2000 / 2000 Professional / XP Home / XP Professional / XP Professional x64
256MB RAM or higher as required by operating system

Mac® Users:
Mac® PowerPC G3 or Intel Core Duo processor
Mac OS X, version 10.1.5 or higher
Built-in USB connection (USB 2.0 host connection or controller for USB 2.0 speeds)
128MB RAM or higher as required by operating system

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Legend of the Seeker


Why, pray tell, am I writing about a TV series. I enjoy it but how does it fit in this venue. Partly because it is good but also because I want to reiterate the availability of video on the internet and how good it can be, not just content good but also quality good. I watched episode one of this series at high quality and was impressed. It was as good as running it off of a DVD. I sat at my desk with my wireless headphones watching my own TV show while 3 feet away my darling bride was watching American Idol. (I won't go into how wrong I think that whole TV show is.) I digress, the future is now. We can watch what we want, when we want to without the TV programming geniuses deciding on when and what we can watch. Moreover, it is free if you are already online with broadband. You don't pay one thin dime more to watch on your schedule instead of someone else's. That is why I am writing about a TV show.


This isn’t a book but it is based on the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. The series website doesn’t really point out that the series is written by Terry Goodkind but he is listed as the writer in several other places. If you have enjoyed any of the books in this series, I recommend the TV series. I just found the show and went to Hulu to watch the episodes I have missed. The TV show seems to follow the books story line far more accurately that what you normally see on TV. Of course, it helps it the books author is also writing the TV show. Incidentally if you are not familiar with Hulu, you should get familiar. It is a terrific way to watch video on your schedule. See my blog on Hulu. Again, I am enjoying the TV series and recommend you watch if you are a fantasy fan.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Clearing Temporary Internet Files

This is a task that many of you know how to do and some of you don’t have a clue as to what I am talking about. Temporary Internet Files in Microsoft Internet Explorer cache (or keep) pages you visit frequently. This enables those pages to load faster. Theoretically they enable you to browse faster. They also tend to accumulate if you do a lot of surfing.

The negative aspect is that they also show everywhere you have been. If you are in a relationship that is shaky in the trust area and don’t want your significant other to see you have been visiting findahotdate.net, you may want to clear your Temporary Internet Files periodically.

Nepotism being what it is, here is a link to a video that my brother has on his site with instructions on how to clean up those pesky Temporary files, Memory Helper. Brother John (fraternal as opposed to monkish) has been a dyed in the wool geek for well over 20 years. He has a consulting business that is noted on his site at http://www.bentrim.net/ . Quirky is an apt description for his approach to business. He can also be described as being annoyingly thorough, a paranoid conservative regarding backup and fiscally extraordinarily cautious with other peoples money. These skill certainly preclude any entrance to a political career since he hates wasting his clients (constituents) money but they certainly do position him to be an exceptional computer consultant. If you are in southeastern Pennsylvania you may want to consider using him. He also does remote support through the Internet. This is not a paid blog, in fact, said brother probably won’t be overly thrilled with the quirky description but I calls them as I sees them. BTW he is gentle in his billing and very competitively priced.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

International Woman’s Day March 8 2009


I guess everyone has their own take on stuff like this. I like to think that I look at women as friends and partners rather than objects. Admittedly I look at women different than men, mostly based on personal preference. I won’t launch into an ode of what I love but my life would be infinitely more bleak without the woman with whom I share it. Perhaps I should say women since I am lucky enough to have many women in my life. I stand in awe of some of their accomplishments and their ability to be so much to so many people. I lament over my brethren (by gender not necessarily by choice) who see women as less than themselves. Truth be told if that is their belief then they have demeaned themselves, their gender and the women around them.

Women of the world, I salute you! I hope that countries and societies where you are treated as less than equal that you will triumph over your adversity and win your freedom. In my own society I suggest that those of you, both men and women, who feel that there is gender superiority of any type to grow up and recognize without each other we have nothing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Money Making Ideas

In these tough times any ideas on how to pick up a few extra bucks are well worth the time to read them. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I got these ideas from the AARP magazine. If you want more details I suspect you can go to aarpmagazine.org.

1. Home Parties such as Avon, PartyLite, Simply Fun, Tupperware etc. can put some extra money in your pocket.

2. Pet Jobs, even in this economy some people are still traveling. Many pet lovers will not board their pets so there is an opportunity to pet sit. Dog walkers can make decent cash too.

3. Teaching your skills can be particularly lucrative. Adult evening school or even private teaching of all sorts of craft and art skills as well as cooking, archery or computers.

4. Tutoring kids can be both fun and financially rewarding particularly if you like kids.

5. Rent out your extra rooms. This can be very good if you are in a college town. Check your insurance and your renters references very carefully and get a good security deposit.

6. Personal assistants are still needed. New moms or overwhelmed business people will pay to have their errands run. There is even a web site dedicated to it. Domystuff.com

7. Take tickets at public venues. You can get to see a lot of free movies that way too.

8. Selling your stuff can put some money in your pocket. I personally made over $1,200.00 when I cleaned my basement after retiring. Ebay is not hard. The buyer pays for the shipping and the fees are truly reasonable. There is somebody out there who collects what you consider junk. Plus many people who go on Ebay don’t pay any attention to what things really cost. I think they just get caught up in the fervor of the auction and bid willy nilly. I often see things sell for more than what the local retailer charges.

9. Work and wander is the description of those people who jump in their RVs and go from seasonal job to seasonal job. Workamping is what it is called. You go where the jobs are and where you want to be. I have a friend who loves to golf and rangers at golf courses. He gets a minimal wage but gets to golf for free.

These ideas won’t support you but they may help to fill in the cracks. Thanks to AARP for the ideas.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wii Wireless Keyboard Rebate


The Wii’s Internet access has been underutilized primarily due to the fact that most owners don’t know there is a wireless keyboard available. Not only that but the Logitech Wireless keyboard is currently, for the next 4 days, getting a $20.00 rebate. I was going to go on about this but I found a guy who already blogged on it so here is a link to CrunchGear where you can get more details.
 Money Saving Tech Tips