Wednesday, January 30, 2008

MacBook Air Ad

I found a few humorous MacBook Air ads. I think they speak for themselves. The first is the original for comparison. I do have to admit I like the song they use.

The original

The parodies:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Microsoft Bob

I found this one on a list of worst software ever. I'd have to admit it was before my time and I have no recollection of even hearing about. I guess it was that forgettable. I like the name though.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pull over R2D2

I'm a big Star Wars fan myself. My wife still doesn't understand why I have three different copies of the original trilogy in both VHS and DVD. I'm always intrigued by those who take this fandom to the next level . I found this one through one of my favorite blogs Geeks are Sexy.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

PC Cleaning

Not feeling loved.

Today I had some free time so I decided to clean out our family PC. I personally can't remember the last time I even opened the case so I figured it wasn't going to be pretty. It wasn't. So I disconnected everything and brought it down to my workshop. The patient is a trusty Gateway Essential that's about eight years old. It may not look like much but it gets the job done.

Anyway the outside of the case was in rough shape . I took some Clorox disinfecting wipes and wiped down the outside of the case. After a nice rub down she looked a lot better. That wasn't the worst of it.

Back of case.

Wow is all I can say.

I look in rear and discover that the vent holes for the power supply covered with dust. It's an overheating problem waiting to happen. I opened the case and wasn't as bad as I thought would be. So I took my can of compressed air and commenced blowing out the dust.

Inside view.

Inside view again.

I happened to notice that I was a little lacking in the ventilation department. Luckily I had an extra fan lying around. You should have heard the noise it made. At first it didn't move but with a little coxing I got it to go. Thats when the noise came. Don't think I ever heard one that bad. I immediately shut it down. I remember seeing this trick somewhere. I can't remember exactly or I'd give them credit for it.

Peal back sticker.

First you peal back the sticker on the fan. Then I removed the rubber cover over the bearing. You should see the housing inside. I squirted some WD-40 in it. I closed it back up and reconnected everything. I fired it up and it was much quieter.

Remove cover.

After putting back together I started it up again to make sure everything worked ok. It looked much better and I'm sure it was much happier now. Don't you after a shower? Anyway I was lucky that I wasn't having any overheating problems due to a clogged power supply fan. Well thats all for now. Have a great day!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Gateway

This is an article I wrote for about my Gateway computer. I thought I'd share it here also. To see at click here.


I loved the boxes that came with the cow spots.Thats how our Gateway computer came to our apartment about eight years ago. The back story on how I came to purchase it in the first place is kind of humorous too. My wife had taken a weekend a way from home. Myself left to my devices went to visit a Gateway store(remember those?). I surprisingly was approved with credit enough to purchase a new computer. I was like a kid in a candy store! At the time I knew relatively little about computers and pretty much went along with what the salesperson recommended. I bought a relatively low end model with the usual bundled software. I had to wait two weeks for delivery. At first I didn't tell my wife about it but she did find the receipt eventually and I had some explaining to do. For a long time it was a running joke between us if she left for weekend or something she'd tell me not to go buy anymore computers.

Anyway it arrived about two weeks later. I even took the day out of work to greet the UPS guy.In a matter of hours I was up and running. It was a Gateway Essential 433 with Windows 98 Second Edition, a 17" CRT monitor, scanner and printer. Over the years I have spent so many hours on this computer that my wife has gotten jealous of it and has threatened to throw it out.
Over the years I've done various upgrades to it to try and keep it somewhat current.It's been used for home office stuff, pictures,surfing the internet and even games too. The only problem I had that I had to contact Gateway about was the mouse stopped working which they sent me a new one free of charge. I've pretty much upgraded everything but the case, motherboard,network card and modem. Everything else has been replaced or upgraded.The monitor finally died away last year. It has run Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows ME, and currently runs Windows 2000 Pro.
Over the years it's been used and abused but has rarely let me down. I've learned a lot about personal computers using this Gateway. Also it served as my guinea pig as learning how to fix and repair computers. I was so impressed I bought a second used Gateway which I'm using now which has been just as dependable.

Am I done with this Gateway just yet being eight years old? Not at all.Despite it's age it's still used everyday. I still have plans to upgrade the hard drive, video card and move up to Windows XP. I suppose if the motherboard died I'd just put a new one in its place. I liken the Gateway the way some guys feel about there first car or the first girl they kissed. It's very much part of our family and I'd be saddened to see it go!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Help save Windows XP

I ran across this at Geeks are Sexy blog. Apparently Microsoft is planning on stopping sales of Windows XP come June 30 of this year despite consumer and business reluctance to upgrade to somewhat buggy and undependable Vista.
Since I finally upgraded to XP early last year(Hey, better late than never!) I've been very happy with it and would be sad to see fall away from grace. If you'd hate to see it go you can go over to InfoWorld .com to sign a petition of protest. Help save XP!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

PC Basics: Working with Windows

This may be a major duh moment. With Windows being the dominant operating system there virtually is no getting around working with Windows in the computer world. I'm sure I'll get some hate mail from Apple and Linux users for that comment. What I'd like to cover here are the actual windows in Windows. I'll go over the basic parts of a window and what they do.

We'll start from top to bottom:

Title Bar: This gives you title of the window you are working on. It makes easier to identify when you have multiple windows open. The title will also appear on a button on the task bar.

Minimize: Click on this button and it will minimize the window and you should see a button on task bar.

Maximize: This will bring back the window to full screen view.

Close: Also known as the "X" button. Clicking on this button will close the window.

Main Menu: This bar gives you the basic functions you can choose from. Here is where you can save your work, change your view and etc.

Tool Bar: Here are usually your most used icons and functions. Most often an address bar is also included here too.

Elevator Bar: By using this you can scroll up and down your window by clicking and holding the elevator bar and moving up and down.

Quick tip: If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse you can click with the mouse anywhere in the window and move the wheel up and down to do the same.

That about covers the basics of using windows.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Product Review: Bytecc 3.5" HD Enclosure

Front view.

Top view.

Rear view.

I finally received my hard drive enclosure from NewEgg. It's a Bytecc 3.5" Aluminum External Enclosure Model No. BT-380U2. It comes with CD, instructions and some screws. It seems to have a pretty solid casing and was heavier than I expected. It appears to be solidly constructed. I had read some reviewers mention the chrome trim being a bit cheesy with plastic but I didn't have any issues with that. It has 3 blue penguins that light up during operation that some people complained that it was too bright .I think they were being a bit too sensitive though they are bright but unless your eyes are six inches in front of it I doubt they'll be a bother. My one complaint though is the vague instructions. It told you how to install to computer but nothing on installing the drive itself. I would think that was an essential procedure.

Before installation.

Hard drive installed.

Installation is pretty much a snap.
1. You open the case.
2. Plug the hard drive cables onto the drive.
3. Mount the hard drive using the screws provided.
4. Insert drive 3/4 the way in and plug LED plug onto control board. Be careful I pinched the cables a bit when I pushed the drive in so just be aware of that.
5. Push drive rest of the way in. Be careful you may have manipulate the cables a bit to get it in.
6. Install screws to close it up.

Pretty blue penguins.

To install drive the instructions tell you to install while PC on I did it while it was off and it booted just fine. My Windows XP recognized it right away and it was working in minutes. I did install the CD software that came with just in case there is something I need on it. The whole operation took less than fifteen minutes. It has been working great ever since. Overall was a positive experience and I'd have no problem getting another of these.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Open Source Guide

I've used open source software from time to time with great success. Though sometimes it's tough to sort through sites looking for the stuff. I came across this site called Open Source Alternative through this article from PC Mechanic. It contains a guide which will help you choose a piece of software for your particular application. It's a great help.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

PC Basics: Right-click

This is what comes up on my desktop. I'm sure yours will be different.

I'm sure were all familiar with clicking on the left button but some people I've helped out were unfamiliar with the use of the right button of the mouse. What I'd thought I'd cover here today was the uses of the right button.
Right-click anywhere on your desktop and you'll get another menu to pop up. This is usually called the right-click menu(no brainer right?).It can also be referred to as the context menu or shortcut menu. What you click on will determine what type of choices you get. If you click on your desktop you'll get different choices than if you say click on your hard drive. You can usually create new folders, create shortcuts, and look at properties etc.
This was a quick look at the wonders of right-clicking on your mouse. I'm sure you'll sleep better tonight. Now you'll know at least what it's called and give you an idea of the uses of it. I believe it's an essential tool in using Windows. I don't think Apple user's got the second button until a relatively recently. Hey it took them awhile to catch up but they did. They were probably working on something that begins with i or something. Well have great day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The waiting is the hardest part

Well today I found that UPS rescheduled delivery of my hard drive enclosure which means I have to wait an extra day for it. Maybe next time I'll pick Fedex. The last delivery was delayed a day too. I never had much problem before with NewEgg shipments when Fedex was the default shipper. I picked UPS because they were the cheapest. I guess the old saying "You get what you pay for" holds true here.
Well while I was waiting today I did my daily 30 minutes of SpongeBob Squarepants Typing to hone my typing skills. It's starting to get a little tougher now as I get more advanced. I have to admit I'm even look forward to typing more to get more practice. I'm between seven to eight words per minute now. Using the shift button is where I'm at now.
I also started work on my next article regarding Mozilla's Thunderbird and Gmail. A friend asked me too look into it for him so I thought it would make a good how-to piece. I should have that out by tomorrow.
In the meantime I came across this video through one of favorite blog sites Geeks are Sexy and found it to be a hilarious bit about Star Wars. Warning it does have some adult language so you may have to turn down the volume if your around kids or at work. Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Re:Re:Re: NewEgg

Well I ended up purchasing a hard drive enclosure from NewEgg yesterday. It should be here in the next couple of days. I hate having my drive exposed to the elements but it'll have to wait. In the mean time I'm working on my typing skills using SpongeBob Squarepants Typing software. It was originally meant for my son but he's a little young for it. I decided to give it a try and it's been fun. In fact I'm typing this out as practice using more than two fingers as my wife would tease me about.
Another thing I've been looking into is VOip which is short for Voice Over Internet Protocal . I took a look at the Skype website. I thought would work out when I use Crossloop with someone to free up my hands rather than having one hand holding a phone. Of course I'd have to get a headset too.
Well that's all for now. How's my typing so far? Any difference? It's actually a bit slower than my hunt and peck method I've been use to for all these years but I suppose speed will come with more practice. Thanks for coming by.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Quick Tip: Windows XP Calculator

I'm sure many of us know of the built-in calculator Windows has. Need something a little more powerful? Need to do more than balance your checkbook? Windows also has a built-in Scientific Calculator too. Hears how to find it.

1. Go to your Start button->All Programs->Accessories->Calculator

2. On your calculator go to View.
3. Click on Scientific.

Now you have a nifty scientific calculator. This could be handy for the student on a budget. I have to admit I had no idea that was even included until just recently or I had just over looked it. Thanks for coming by!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Free laptop ?

While waiting outside in the car for my wife come out of a store I heard over the radio an ad for It reminded me of the ordeal I went through this past summer for one of those "free" laptops. I did cover this in a previous post several months back but I thought it was worth another look. I believe it's even the same website. I remember hearing it on the radio thinking well maybe because I heard this on the radio it has some legitimacy to the claim. Being an experienced internet surfer and computer user for several years I thought I was going in at least with some smarts. Boy was I wrong on both parts.

It began innocent enough going into the website. On the first level are some free or almost free trials or subscriptions you must sign up for. I remember trying to pick ones that would be easy to cancel or the least expensive. Then your on to the next level. Again I try to do the same thing and it gradually gets harder to do. You have to sign up for so many for each level. When you finish one there is no hint that another level is coming so when you click done they give you another level to go through which gradually gets more expensive and harder to find good deals. Many of them have you signing up for memberships or trials for things you really don't need. To be honest I got kind of wrapped up in what I was doing and didn't keep track of everything I signed up for. They even name levels like the "Gold" or "Platinum" to almost tease you into thinking your almost done. I think I spent at least two hours filling out forms and signing up for stuff and I think I got to about the third or fourth level before calling it quits. I finally said to myself what the heck is free about this? Along with a few other choice words my mother wouldn't be proud of. I wish that was the end of the story. I tried to cancel what I could remember I signed up for before I got charged for them. Unfortunately I missed a few and almost a month later I noticed some extra charges being drafted from my bank account. It happened at least two or three times. I usually called them up and tried to sound ticked off and asked as civilly but firmly that I cancel whatever service or membership I signed up for. It wasn't really there fault after all. In all cases charges were reversed and I did eventually get my money back.

Are these laptops really free? Not in my opinion. Though I didn't add up all expenses I'm sure it wasn't a super deal and if your paying for other items or memberships to get the laptop how is that free. I could save my money not buying into those things and buy a laptop for less hassle. Also I believe if you go in thinking you'll just cancel everything after signing up for stuff you might get burned . Many of the items require you to at least complete the free trial period or at least one pay period. So if you cancel something before meeting the requirement you get no laptop.

My suggestion is to avoid these if at all possible. They are not free. Should you try it write down every offer you sign up for and make note of the terms and requirements needed. Don't make my mistake and forget about them a month later when they start bouncing checks in your account. Though I don't think they are a total scam they do tend to leave some details out or at least make them hard to find. I just wanted to share my experience and perhaps help others avoid the same mistakes I did. There is a lot of truth to the saying "Let the buyer beware".

Quick Tip: My Recent Documents - Windows XP

After a late night of adventurous web surfing have you ever had your significant other ask where did this picture come from. She then shows you a picture from that would make your mother be very disappointed in you. How the heck did she find that? She was smart enough to check out My Recent Documents and you weren't smart enough to erase them. Not that it ever happened to me of course. Honestly I swear! Well anyway. How do you turn this sometimes annoying and embarrassing Windows feature off? Here are the easy steps:

1. Right click on your Start button and then click on Properties.

2. You then click on the Customize button.

3. Then you click on the Advanced tab.

4. You then click the Clear List.

5. You can uncheck the List my most recently opened documents box to stop this sometimes embarrassing feature.

This might save you from some quick explaining and some headaches in the future. Well good luck and be more careful next time.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Re:Re: NewEgg

Well I was unable to get the new hard drive to boot on it's own. I decided though to use as extra storage on my PC as I able to use it that way. I think it'll work out fine now. Now I have to find a hard drive enclosure for it. I've been busy organizing my files all morning.

Friday, January 4, 2008

RE: NewEgg

Well my stuff came in from NewEgg on Wednesday. I was very excited. I didn't actually get to work on it until Thursday morning. First thing that went in was the video card that went in relatively easy and it works great. The hard drive has been another matter. At first I try and clone it over using XXClone. I ran into an error the first time . Tried doing it a different way over still no luck. I was getting very frustrated and ticked off. To top it off Windows had a hard time recognizing the drive through a usb cable. I realized I tried to rush things too much. I was able to re-format the drive again and now I'm in the process of cloning it. We'll see how this turns out. have a great day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Remote Access : Crossloop Tutorial

For quite awhile I've been looking for a remote access program that was simple and easy to use. In my circle of family and friends I'm known as the "computer guy". From time to time I get requests for assistance over the phone. Now I'm sure anyone who's done any type of PC assistance over the phone know how frustrating that you can't see what's in front of you. At times it's like trying to explain the sound of Pink Floyd to a deaf person. On top of that many who I help are the less than tech savvy newcomers to computers they don't know (or mix up) terms and jargon that more experience users take for granted.

My mother-in-law was prime example of this. She bought a newer computer last year. She does have some idea how to use but she craves to learn more and take full advantage of what a home computer has to offer. She in the past has asked me for technical assistance and though I managed to help her most times it was a bit frustrating at times trying to describe over the phone what she needed to do. A remote access program was what I needed. Trying to do it with Windows remote access required too many steps and would have been difficult to setup. I tried a few free and not free but they too lacked simplicity. I needed something so easy a cavegeek could figure it out.Then a friend made me aware of Crossloop through a magazine article. It was advertised as being simple to use and operate. Just recently they were even mentioned among the Top 10 downloads of the year by CNET's So I downloaded and tried it on my own PC's and with my friend(who had told me about it) and it was fairly simple. So tried the next step and set it up with my mother-in-law. We had it setup and I was helping her in less than ten minutes.

In this tutorial I hope to show how simple it is to setup this program and begin using it in no time.

1. First step is to go to . You can setup one of two ways. First you download the program and install. Then as an option you can create an account (free) which allows you to keeps stats, leave comments promote your service etc. It's a nice feature for those wishing to use this as a service.

2. To install you go to the folder where you downloaded to and click on the icon to install the program.

3. To receive or give help you open going to your Start button, then go to your All Program menu menu and open Crossloop.

4.A small box will appear on your screen. It will show two tabs. One with "Access" the saying "Share".

5. On the "Share" tab it will give you a twelve digit number. This number is randomly generated each time you use it. This will be the number you give to the person you wish to help you.

6. To help someone you use the Access tab and ask the person(usually by phone or other means) for the twelve digit "Share" number. You then hit the connect button. When they see the prompt on the other end they hit Connect also.

7. You then will have another window open connecting to there computer which should show there desktop.

8. You then proceed to assist them or vice versa. For the first time it's a bit wierd watching someone else use your computer while you watch. Some other features you can do is to switch users and swap files.

9. When your finished you just hit Disconnect. You be asked to rate the session and or leave comments about your experience

That about raps it up. I've used it with my mother-in-law a number of times with very little problem and I've been able to help her a lot more easily and with less headaches. Even my friend has his five year old son using it between there two computers and they play games together. It can't get much easier than that. I hope you at least have an idea of the steps to install and use Crossloop. For more information you can check out the website at:

Crossloop Blog:

I highly recommend this program and feel you won't be disappointed with the results.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

PC Basics: Using your mouse

Building a better mouse trap

I'm sure the mouse is probably one of the most over looked and abused items on your PC. Kind of how I feel at my job sometimes but that's another story. It does get noticed when it doesn't work well as it's one of the primary ways to interact with your PC. I don't think many people know that you can make adjustments to them to help you out. I hope to give the mouse a little more respect and so people will understand there mouse. Maybe you'll even buy him a new mouse pad to show your appreciation.

Teaching a mouse new tricks

To change your options as far as the mouse is concerned . Here is how you can check out your mouse properties.

1. Go to your Start button. Choose Control Panel -> Click on Mouse icon (If your in category view choose Printers and other Hardware).

Picture 1

Now hopefully you have the Mouse Properties window open. It will have five tabs. They should be: Buttons, Pointers, Pointers Options, Wheel and Hardware. Let's look at the different tabs one by one.


In our Buttons tab we have Button Configuration, Double-click speed and ClickLock(see Picture 1).

1. Button Configuration: Here you can change the left and right button configuration. You check the box to switch them. I believe this was intended to help out left handed people but I believe most of them adapt to the default configuration.

2. Double-click speed: This is where you can adjust the timing between clicks on the mouse. If your having issues with this there is a slider bar and it even gives you a preview folder to practice on until your comfortable.

3. ClickLock: ClickLock is a feature that allows you click and hold onto a file,folder or icon without having to hold down the button. Click on the Settings button you can adjust the time need to hold down the button to lock it.


Picture 2

In the Pointers tab we have the option of customizing the way our pointer looks like on the screen. It also kind of brings to light what the different pointer configurations means. You can change the Scheme by clicking on the arrow which will bring up o drop down window and you can choose your scheme and it will show you a preview in right hand box.

Picture 3

In the Customize box you change individual pointers by electing a pointer and double clicking on it. You will open another window which will give you a choice of pointers to use.

Pointers Options

If you didn't have enough options before here are some more. Here we have the options of Motion, Snap to, and Visibility.

Picture 4

Motion: Here we have a slider bar to adjust the speed of the pointer while moving it with your mouse. This may be handy if your constantly looking for your pointer but is creams across your monitor or having hard time being precise with your mouse.

Snap To: This sounds like something a drill sergeant would say to you. I haven't tried this but what it apparently does is move your pointer automatically to the default button in a dialog box. Personally I wouldn't use this as this could probably cause errors.

Visibility: This covers what you can do to bring attention(or not) to you lonely pointer.Here you can add a pointer trail that follows your pointer as you move it across the screen. You can hide pointer while typing. If your losing your pointer a lot you can locate it by pressing the Ctrl key.


Picture 5

Should your mouse have the scroll wheel option(most do these days) you can adjust the settings here. You can adjust the number of lines it's scrolls and also whether you want to scroll one page at a time. That would be good one if you want to mess up a friend or coworkers PC.


Picture 6

This is where you can check to see if your hardware drivers are working. It will also tell you the manufacturer, the port your connected to and if your device is working properly. You can also trouble shoot it if you are having problems or if your drivers are up to date.

In conclusion should you make any changes be sure and click the Apply button to make your changes permanent. Now I hope you have a better understanding of the often overlooked and abused items on your PC. You can think of it as the Rodney Dangerfield of computer parts. Thanks for coming by and if you have any questions feel free to ask.

-Windows XP All-in-one Desk Reference for Dummies (2nd Edition) by Woody Leonhard