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!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Windows 7 Bandwagon or Lynch Mob


Microsoft has consistently produced operating systems we love to hate. Microsoft has brought ambivalence to a new height. The move from 95 to 98 seemed like a good move. The advent of ME seemed to reflect the dying throes of Atlantis. 2000 was good and after the initial bugs were bottled, XP has stood the test of use. I have no issues with Vista but apparently I am not main stream in that arena. Even Intel didn’t adopt Vista for internal use.

Now we have Windows 7 or Vista rev.2 depending on your point of view. Is it the harbinger of the future or the death knell of Microsoft’s dominance? W7 claims to have solved all of Vista’s problems and added features. They will have a wealth of confusing versions which is always a down side. On the plus side, MS claims that the specifications for your hardware will be no more rigorous than for Vista. The device driver debacle may not occur since W7 claims to work with Vista drivers and even XP drivers. Note I will be using “claims” frequently since I am basing this blog on what I have read. I haven’t seen a copy of Windows 7.

W7 claims to be faster than Vista but it would have to go some distance to be slower. It is reputed to be more stable than Vista and I have found Vista more stable than XP. Supposedly ease of use has improved. My biggest annoyance with Vista has always been the files search. In short, from what I have read, W7 is not a leap into the great beyond but more of a elegant bandaid for the problems that should have been corrected in Vista. Why, pray tell, would those problems not be corrected in Vista? How could you charge for a new OS if you just released the necessary service packs for your existing software? Cynicism is not becoming but sometimes it seems so appropriate when dealing with MS. Let's just hope it is done right this time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Phone or the Service

I have an LG Dare phone. I like the phone, the touch screen, the camera, the size, just about everything but the service. Verizon claims to have the best network, get service anywhere, except where I live, oh and except where my buddy Gerry lives too, about 5 miles away. I have actually yelled at the TV when the ubiquitous Verizon commercials appear. I’m not in the wilds of the Dakotas, I’m in suburban Bucks County, PA. I had an external antenna for my phone, two phones ago that worked fairly well. At least with the external antenna I could use my phone at home. It was not portable.

I just finished reading two posts at ZDNet about someone returning an iPhone (gasp) because they loved the toy but hated the service. A contractor standing in my driveway last week pulled out his iPhone, bitched at it, about it and moaned over the service. He said his sister had returned hers within the 30 days and canceled the AT&T service. Obviously this isn’t a statistically sound study but it appears that many folks like the iPhone and hate the AT&T service.

I think I see a pattern. Amazon has started pushing phones. They are pushing the hardware with little or no mention of the service. When I had my computer business, I pushed the service not the hardware. I felt that what my staff did was far more important that the hardware it ran on. This doesn’t mean that I would sell hardware that was inferior, just that I felt the service was far more important.

My recommendation is that you explore cell service in the area in which you will use the phone most frequently. Pick out a phone when you find a service that works well in your geographic area. You’ll be happier than I am if you can use your phone where and when you want to use it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

WIMAX, Wireless On ‘Roids


Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WIMAX) is the IEEE 802.16 standard. WIMAX when rolled out will supposedly offer 100megabits per second data transfer while mobile and 1gigabit data transfer while stationary. Wimax technology is 30 times faster than the third generation and 100 times faster than the wireless data rate. WIMAX claims to be able to offer broadband access at 31 miles instead of the 300 feet of Wi Fi. Grossly faster speed and wider range, what’s not to like.

The most likely early enablers of WIMAX will be the 4G cell phone giants. WIMAX will truly enable the cell phone to replace the computer or the computer to replace the cell phone. WIMAX claims it will be priced competitively to current broadband providers. WIMAX will add a level of convenience to developed nations but for third world countries it will be nothing short of revolutionary. If the WIMAX forum can truly set interoperability standards and insure open architecture, a radically better communications future may be near. One only has to look at how current cellular and wireless tech has played a part in the Iranian situation to extrapolate how difficult it will be in a WIMAX world to subvert the truth and stifle communications. Let’s hope WIMAX is deployed sooner than later.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Microsoft—The Never Ending Story of Frustration, Microsoft—The Never Ending Story of Frustration, wait, wait am I caught in a loop here?

Microsoft—The Never Ending Story of Frustration, Microsoft—The Never Ending Story of Frustration, wait, wait am I caught in a loop here?

As far as why MS is frustrating, well every time I have to do a reinstall of something I bought and paid for and it is so laborious, I want to scream. This is referring to the crashed XP hard drive of a recent blog. If an end user falls in the Microsoft forest does anyone hear him?

Also after an automatic MS update I had an older MS XP Multimedia system boot into a this must be verified before continuing screen. I say fine, verify, and it goes out to the Internet and says this system has been verified and it restarts and says this system must be verified and infinity loops. When the verify you’re legit thing came out, this system passed. (as it should have) Wonder what was in the automatic update that made a system that was running just fine go into loop de loops?

I went to Microsoft’s site on an adjoining system and it told me to boot in safe mode on the loopy system and come back to their site and I could run an automated correction of my registry. Yeah, right, I go into safe mode and the same loop, just keeps on running. Now the MS site did give laborious instructions for manually changing whatever screw up in the registry their automatic update did but I have to wonder how important the loopy system really is. I only boot it to do the updates because I can’t bear to trash it. It is a P3 that served me well and I thought it was a good back up machine. It was a beefy P3 since I used it with the XP Multimedia and it ran a pretty spiffy demo on a big screen back demo of our HTPC. (home theater personal computer) So keeping it running is far more sentimental than practical. By now only true geeks and serious want to be’s are feeling any empathy for someone is maintaining a computer out of sentiment, but hey, once a geek always a geek.

Bottom line is if at some point I am totally bored, have all my blogs up to date, it is raining and I can’t play golf, all my books are read and my grandkids can’t come over an play with me, I may blow off the XP multimedia and install a copy of XP home on it. The XP multimedia CD and key are in the same limbo my one copy of XP Pro is that I mentioned in a previous blog. Once I install that XP Home though, I am out of my last remaining stock of XP. Too bad, as much as the OS bothers me, I do have a long term love hate relationship with it that I really haven’t developed with Vista. Of course I only have one Vista system and I have 6 5 XP systems still working.

So Microsoft, your automatic updates have claimed another victim, destroyed a long term, emotional relationship with an OS that you have abandoned and annoyed me once again. Of course one of the nice things about being retired is I don’t get annoyed with MS as often. When I was running my computer business, I was constantly, consistently and sometimes volcanically annoyed with Microsoft.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bounced By BounceBack

I recently had a system with XP Pro on it have the hard drive go south on me. I thought no sweat I had a Bounceback cloned hard drive I could just pop in and be up and going in no time. I have used Bounceback for a couple of years and I have easily restored lost files. This was the first time I tried using it for the claimed clone feature. Supposedly on your first backup of your c: drive you can identify that you want that backup to be a bootable copy of the c: drive. Well, I had done that and guess what didn’t work. Shame on me, all these years using Bounceback and I assumed(you know what that makes me) it worked without testing the main feature I purchased it for. Peeved would be the kindest thing I could say.

Now I have moved that specific computer from office to home, three years ago and have no clue where the XP cd and key for that system is. I know, I should practice what I preach but I hadn’t planned on selling the business (got a good offer) and it was a fast transition. Luckily when I discovered that my CD and key were in limbo land I used Magic Jelly Bean key finder to pull my key code off of the hard drive. So I am not totally stupid just annoyed that my proactive use of BounceBack software turned out to be not so proactive. I was able to get the defective hard drive up and running, deleted a bunch of stuff and did two new BounceBack backups and neither of them booted either.

So I have just tracked down Acronis which my brother, who moved to consultant land when I sold my business, uses. He prefers version 11 over the more recent version and he has tested it thoroughly for creating a bootable clone replacement drive. I will post here if it actually works for me.

As far as BounceBack is concerned, I’m disappointed. I have liked it’s file restore and thought it was my fail safe. I was wrong. BTW I am cognizant that I may be doing something wrong with the software, I am fallible (gasp) but I am telling you what I experience and I am at least reasonably competent. Since I first wrote this I have tried another Bounce Back clone drive, it did boot up but since I no longer have the system, I got MS errors and I don’t know if I could work them out or not. So in all fairness, it is possible that BB does work. I’m still going to try Acronis and will let you know how that fares.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ad-Aware Free Is Smart Protection

Once again, I feel obligated to strongly suggest that you protect your computer with not just anti-virus software but crapola protection as well. The often overwhelming deluge of crap that hits your computer daily needs to be addressed. Ad-Aware by Lava Soft seems to do very well catching the crap and asking if you would like to flush it. They update often and it plays nicely with others. I have had no software or systems conflicts with it. Check it out, there is a Free edition. Beware of sound alike and look alike competitors that are not Free.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Make That Computer More Secure

Brother John, not a monk, my actual brother recommended this site for doing a scan of your system vulnerabilities. Since he is in the business to keep peoples systems secure I suspect he knows what he is talking about. Click on Brother John to go to his site and click on Secunia to go to their site. This was not a paid blog, not even a beer from my brother.

Secunia

The Secunia Online Software Inspector, or short OSI, is a fast way to scan your PC for the most common programs and vulnerabilities, thus checking if your PC has a minimum security baseline against known patched vulnerabilities.

Use the Secunia OSI to get a feel for the Secunia Software Inspector technology, then upgrade to the Secunia PSI or CSI, which covers practically all programs on your PC, whereas the OSI checks less than 100 programs.

Feature Overview:

* Detects insecure versions of common/popular programs installed on your PC
* Verifies that all Microsoft patches are applied
* Assists you in updating, patching, and protecting your PC
* Activates additional security features in Sun Java
* Runs through your browser. No installation or download is required
* If you run the Secunia PSI or CSI - then you're already covered

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And Airlines Wonder Why People Hate Them



Last January I flew to Florida and back on U.S. Air. It was a dismal trip, shafted on seating, luggage and customer service. I vowed never to fly again. Well, I want to visit family in California. I am in Pennsylvania. Do the math, I don’t want to spend the summer driving there so I was going to try and fly. I found a flight at a time and price I was satisfied with on Orbitz. I called to verify availability of my grandson for the times and was assured he was cool. I clicked on the fare at Orbitz and got a message saying due to high travel demands that flight was no longer available. Of course, they presented a variety of alternatives, oddly enough none cheaper, all more expensive and most far more expensive. It is probably just a touch of cynicism to think that bait and switch is alive and well.

It seems like anything to do with air travel is fraught with peril. I am so disgusted I will probably just forget it. If travel sites and airlines would just make even a modicum of effort to be honest and forthright perhaps more people would travel. Of course the likelihood of that occurring is somewhat akin to my actually getting the flight at the times and price that I was originally quoted at Orbitz. Realistically between the cost of luggage and water let alone the pay toilets on the plane, I probably couldn’t afford it anyway.

Monday, July 6, 2009

ASUS 160GB Notebook XP Home $249.00, No Contract!


No contract, you see a lot of NETbooks advertised by cellular carries that will give you the same price if you promise your first born and sign up for the life span of 52 fruit flies. (2 years) Most of the NETbooks only come with flash drives for storage. This puppy has a full fledged 160gb hard drive and is priced less than what I paid for just a160gh hard drives when they first came out. I have not tried this unit but if I was in the market, I sure would be looking at it.

Make sure you shop around, the $249.00 is at Target but who knows where else and what price you can get it for today. This pricing is just CRAZY, but I love it.
Features
10" Notebook Computer with WSVGA LCD Display and 1024x600 Pixel Resolution
Loaded with Windows XP Home, 160GB Hard Drive Capacity, Serial ATA Hard Drive Interface and 1GB DDR2, SO DIMM Memory
900 MHz Intel Celeron 353 Processor
Built-In SD High Capacity Card Slot, Secure Digital Card Slot, MultiMediaCard (MMC)
Line-In Jack, Memory Card Slot, USB 2.0, Headphone Jack, Microphone Jack, Ethernet Port, RJ-45 Port, Audio Jack, 3 USB Ports
802.11b/g Wireless Connectivity , 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN Network Card
Intel UMA Graphics Card
Internet Browser, Built-In Microphone, Instant Messaging, E-Mail Capabilities
Software Included: Microsoft Works 9.0, Microsoft Live, Sun StarOffice, Free-Trial Anti-Virus Software, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Internet Explorer
Also Includes Power Adapter, Battery, Operating Instructions
Features Up To 5 Hours of Battery Life
Also Features 1.3 Mega-Pixel Webcam
10.47 x 7.53 x 1.12 "; 3.09 Lb.
6-Month Warranty on Battery, 1-yr. Warranty


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Solar Power Is Alive and Well With Infinia

I recently was regaled with a tale that smacked of science fiction, a 16 foot dish style solar concentrator hooked up to a Stirling Engine that generates 3000 watts. I was fascinated with the tale and had to do some research to check it out. Wickipedia defines a Stirling engine is a device that converts heat energy into mechanical power by alternately compressing and expanding a fixed quantity of air or other gas (the working fluid) at different temperatures. The Stirling engine has been around since 1816. Since I am a computer geek and not an engineer, this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Infinia has combined a solar concentrator to generate the heat to run their Stirling engine which then runs a generator. The solar concentrator is so effective it is rumored to generate over 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t need transmission lines, water, boilers or any of the paraphernalia that is usually needed when generating electricity. It is quiet and substantially more efficient than competitive technologies. Another unsubstantiated rumor is that the 3KW generator can be had for under $20,000.00. At this point, you can’t run out and buy one for your home but with all the “green initiatives”, we can hope that a home unit will be coming in the not too distant future. Wow, to get off the grid, would that be cool and saving money at the same time. Watch the Infinia video here or on YouTube.
 Money Saving Tech Tips