Friday, December 24, 2010

Geeks guide to Surviving Christmas

 

 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Up on the housetop

 

If you’ve been watching TV lately you’ve probably come across catchy tune on a Hyundai commercial. To the non-tech savvy people out there they probably have no idea who this quirky couple is and where did they come from. If your a fan of YouTube and music you probably have a better chance of knowing who they are.

They are Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn who are better known as Pomplamoose on YouTube. This duo has been producing their own brand of music and videos since 2008. They have done covers such as Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”, Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” and many others. The majority is music that they write and produce themselves. This is all without a traditional record label or contract.

This was the video I first discovered them back in the spring of this year. They call their style “VideoSongs” which I’ve found to be unique and refreshing. Jack is multi-instrumentalist and a bit of a spaz and Nataly has a wonderful voice with mesmerizing eyes(yes I have a crush, don’t tell my wife).

I certainly find it fascinating how they’ve done this without a tradition record deal or contract. I wish them the best of luck and will continue to be a big fan of theirs.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Riverside Repair

cam 033

  My latest project is building a website for my brother’s small engine repair business called Riverside Repair Co. (yes this is a shameless plug for it). I’ve done this amateur webmaster stuff for a few years now  to help him out. In the beginning I used Microsoft’s Frontpage 2000. I’m sure website builders are cringing that I used something as horrible as that one. I used it because it had an easy learning curve and was within my budget at the time.

Over the last year or so I tried several other options at a budget web builder but had no luck finding one that I felt comfortable with. Meanwhile my brothers site languished away looking like a bad website example from the Clinton administration. I finally came across a trial of Microsoft’s web builder Expression Web 4 .  Though a bit intimidated at first I was able to plug away at the trial copy and found lot’s of web support in learning how to use it.  Then I found out that because I was a college student I could download a free legit copy the program.  I’m still learning to use it but I’m very happy with it.  If your a college student it’s worth checking out.

Be sure and check out the website and tell me what you think. Thanks for coming by!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pop-ups are not your friends

Whatever you do don’t click on any pop-ups on your PC while your surfing around. It’s best to just close them out by hitting “X” in the top right corner. This article from PCMECH by David Risley highlights what can happen if you do click on these fake ads. I also had a similar experience with “XP Internet Security 2010” back in March of this year.  Which looked like this:

Screenshot - 2_24_2010 , 8_34_06 PM[5]

What usually happens is that your machine will become infested with malware that will eventually slow down and make your computer a real pain to use. You should have it cleaned out as quickly as possible. The longer you wait the worse it will get. Worst case scenario is that you’ll have to reinstall your operating system. This is the extreme case and should be avoided if possible.

Here are some recommended software that will aid you in your battle:

Good luck and happy surfing!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Toshiba Satellite L355 keyboard replacement

Today I got my replacement keyboard for my wife’s Toshiba laptop that my son took a fist to(has been banned indefinitely from computer). I was able to find an inexpensive keyboard on Ebay from Screenaid whose service was very good considering that I had bought two by accident and they simply voided the other purchase.

Replacing a laptop keyboard is not as bad as it might seem. A simple Google search and I found these simple directions to replace the board at Irisvista.com. The directions are easy to follow and the whole procedure took about 15 minutes.

Now on to the other stuff on my tech to do list.

PC Blues

It would seem as if it’s either feast or famine regarding my PC hobby. Here’s a list of what’s been going on here:

  • My sister get’s upgraded to Verizon Fios and needs help getting connected. That was a simple fix and has been taken care of.
  • My son takes a fit of anger (because of slow PC) and punches my wife’s keyboard on her laptop(not the slow one just an innocent bystander). This knocks a few keys off and they won’t stay on. Had to order new keyboard from Ebay.
  • A friend has a dead Dell desktop that needs a new motherboard. Ordered identical board from Ebay and I’m awaiting shipment.
  • For the climax my “work” PC a HP Pavilion desktop blows a board also. I’ve priced replacements and I’m awaiting approval from the purchasing department(my lovely wife) to order it. This has really got me down. I don’t mind using my wife’s laptop(which I’m using to post this) but I miss my PC.
This is on top of my normal job and usual family duties. Just thought I’d share what’s going on. Thanks for coming by.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Build your own PC from TechTV

This is an interesting and informative video on building your own PC. This is featuring TechTV’s “The Screensavers” hosts Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton. Even though this program is a bit dated the information is still valid on how to build a PC on your own. Yes it can be done.  Even though Tech TV isn’t around anymore you can find Leo Laporte at TWIT.TV and Patrick Norton at Tekzilla.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Using CSS templates to create websites with Expression Web 4

Here are more tutorials using Expression Web 4. A website template is made from one free CSS template from freecsstemplates.org. This tutorial is done by ExpressionWeb.us and is easy to follow along. I was able to follow along and create a website template. Now I just have to add my own data and graphics. I’m liking Expression Web more and more each day. Here are the videos:

 

 

 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

For Students: Expression Studio 4 Ultimate – Free!

expressions4If your a student and like Expression Web by Microsoft your in luck. You can receive a copy of Expression Studio  4 for free.  This is through Microsoft’s Dreamspark program which is exclusive for qualifying high schools and colleges.  I’m currently an enrolled student and I did qualify for program. I just thought I’d pass this along as it may not be too well known. I’ve been trying this program(Expression Web 4) out through a trial basis at first and I’m growing to like it more and more each day. Microsoft also offers many other programs for free also and you can find discounts  for Windows 7 upgrade and Office 2010 so it is worth it if you are or know a student.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Microsoft Expression Web 4

Over the last few weeks I’ve been mulling over what software to use to update my brother’s business website and to possibly use for other projects. I had used Microsoft Frontpage 2000 previously but as you could imagine that it is woefully out of date. I had gotten used to the way Frontpage worked and I had wanted something similar but obviously updated.

I am not a professional web designer (nor do I play one on TV) I needed something relatively inexpensive and relatively simple to use. I also wanted to have up to date features. I had checked out some free web editors but none seemed promising enough to spend a lot of time with. I tried out Serif’s WebPlus X2 which was a few years old but had some good reviews.  I came upon a free trial of Microsoft’s Expressions Web 4. Expression’s Web is now what Frontpage used to be in the marketplace).  Even after just a short time I’ve tried it I’ve all but left WebPlus behind. I’ve found lots of tutorial’s around the Internet. Here is a series I found really useful for the beginner user(it uses Expression 3 but the interface is very similar).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This series was very helpful in getting me started. This program is looking promising and doesn’t have wallet crunch price(This version is priced around $150). I’m still working with it and I’ll be sharing more in the near future. Thanks for coming by.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Apple Apps: iBooks on iPhone 3G

The iBooks app has been available for the iPad but was recently released for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I was kind of skeptical about book reading on an iPhone sized device. I could see it on the iPad but I thought the size of the phone would be an issue. After downloading and trying it out I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it’s functionality.

Apple was nice enough to start you off with a free book which to try it out with. It’s the ever charming Winnie the Pooh. The pages turn by sliding for finger from right to left as if your actually turning pages in a real book(go in reverse to go back). You do have bookmark feature of course.

You can also dim or brighten the display, which could come in handy for late night reading next to your significant other without waking them. One wierd quirk I found is that the dimmer also affects your wallpaper on the iPhone itself.  Why I don’t know but I thought I’d pass that along. Some other features include customizing the font and also a search feature which would search your books, Google or Wikipedia.

Books are purchased through the “Store” button on the main page. I found the interface similar to the App Store. Books range from free to whatever the going price is. I filled up with some free ones to test the app out. I could see using this app to light reading but I’m not sure if it would actually replace a physical book. It’s too small and impersonal. I haven’t tried it on an iPad so it may be different with that due to it’s size.  The app is free so I think it’s worth checking out if you like to read books. It can be found through App Store.

Disclaimer: The screenshots above are from a iPhone 3G. You screens may look different on a later iPhone, iPod or iPad.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Retro PC: Windows 2000 Pro

I used Windows 2000 Pro for a few years  and thought it was a solid performer. I thought of it as a stripped down version of Windows XP. If you’ve got slightly older machine(five to ten years)with limited resources it could still used but I wouldn’t use it for a new build. Many modern software applications just doesn’t work on it anymore. The oldest I’d go is for Windows XP.

Here is another video by Rich Menga from PC Mech who shows off Windows 2000 Pro in VirtualBox. He actually gives some tips on software to use and how to set this up. He makes it at least bearable to use Windows 2000 if you want to. These are good tips if your still trying to squeak some life out of an older PC or just like experimenting with older operating systems.

Thanks for coming by.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Using Windows 95 ….today

Here is a quick video of Rich Menga of PC Mech showing how he’s running Windows 95. You may ask why would anyone do that today. Well Rich did it to play vintage DOS –games. Someone else may do it to use a specific program or just for the adventure(like I did at one time). How is he running Windows 95? He installed a program called VirtualBox which can install operating systems in a virtual environment. Rich gives us some excellent software recommendations that enable you to use(barely) Windows 95 in today's world. I imagine if you had an old PC or laptop running Windows 95 you could use a similar setup.

Here is a quick list of programs Rich is running:

Here is my version of using Windows 95 inside Microsoft’s Virtual PC that I did awhile back. It’s kind of glimpse into PC history.

 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Weather Channel App

You’d think an app about the weather would be boring. I don’t consider The Weather Channels app for the iPhone. One cool feature that got me hooked is the radar map. I’m not sure if it was there the whole time or was recently added. You can check out the real time weather radar in the palm of your hand. Here’s a screenshot of the weather over my house as I write this:

The Weather iPhone app

You click the triangle button in bottom left hand corner it will play a short loop. Click the “i” and you can get customized maps. I think this would be an awesome tool for those that chase these storms. I find it handy to know when these storms are approaching. Plus you get the normal weather forecasts and warnings. I believe this to be one of those must have iPhone Apps.  This was from the free version(Pay version is ad free) of the app and can be found here.

What’s your favorite iPhone App?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Zuckerberg on the Grill

Poor Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled about Facebook privacy issues at a recent conference. I think most people are generally concerned about privacy but probably don’t lose a lot of sleep over whether their settings on Facebook are optimized for privacy. It does seem like there is a very vocal minority that pops up every time something is changed on website. This video is just a small snippet of the whole interview. This is the whole video:

I’m one of those that doesn’t lose sleep over this subject. I do follow some common sense guidelines though. I don’t post anything on the site that I don’t expect everyone to see. If your on the edge on whether your post should be private or not I’d error on the side of caution. Send a private message through Facebook or by email and other means. Generally speaking if you post something on a friends wall their friends can see it also. The other tip is not to post anything you’ll regret or be embarrassed. There are numerous stories of people getting fired and such from embarrassing posts. Use common sense.

Mark’s relative rookie at this compared to a video of Steve Job’s being interviewed at the same venue. Steve was grilled also but he never broke a sweat. Poor Mark had to take his “Hoodie” off because he was sweating profusely. Good luck Mark, you’ll get there eventually.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Soluto : Anti frustration software

Soluto is a software application that analyzes your systems boot up. Then you can tweak your system to speed up your computer. This is an amazing tool in my opinion. One of the most frustrating problems troubleshooting a slow start up is figuring out which application is causing the hang up or which programs you can do without. I haven’t tried it out yet as you have to sign up for the beta and then get approved. Here is a video previewing the software:

Once I try it out I’ll post a review here. It certainly looks promising.

Source: Geeks are Sexy

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PCWorld: How to buy a laptop

In this video Kara Tsuboio, of PCWorld Magazine, goes over the key points to look for while shopping for a laptop. She covers them all from netbooks to large desktop replacement machines.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Recap: DownloadHelper

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I recently helped my wife’s cousin set this program up on his computer. I’m now his “best” friend. Now he’s busy downloading 80’s metal band videos. I covered this program back in 2008. I still use it to this day.

The basic steps are:

1. Firefox -  DownloadHelper is a “plug-in”  program you use in your FireFox web browser.

2. Downloader Helper – This program enables you to download your favorite videos off of YouTube and other video sites.

I’ve found it useful to download my favorite video’s, especially music videos.  I noticed some videos were taken off because of copyright issues(what party poopers). This enables you save videos quickly and then view them at your own pleasure. Keep in mind these will save videos as a .flv file and you’ll need a player like VLC Player to view them. Good luck and happy surfing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Picking the right Desktop PC

Ever wonder what type of PC is right for you? With all the different types of PC’s available it can be confusing. Here’s an excellent video from PCWorld magazine(my favorite PC magazine so I’m a bit biased) that I thought explained things pretty well. The host covers compacts, all-in-ones, and tower desktops and explains the pros and cons of each.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Slow PC Blues

j0422409 Ever have your computer just slow down to crawl?  This is a common complaint among PC owners. There are several things you can try to alleviate the problem. I believe in trying the simplest things first and then moving from there. Here’s a quick list:

  • Reboot your computer – This trick works well when you’ve been surfing on the Internet for hours or the PC’s been on for long periods of time. Like us sometimes they just need a quick restart and all is well.
  • Time to clean up – Next I would recommend using a program called CCleaner which is a personal favorite of mine. It cleans temp files and other unnecessary stuff hanging around your PC slowing it down.
  • Get organized - After this would be a good time to defrag your computer also which if not done periodically can slow it down. You can use the one built into Windows or use a third party one like Defraggler(made by same people who bring you CCleaner)
  • Get a check up – If you suspect an infection you can run MalwareBytes free program to find stuff that snuck past your antivirus program(none are 100%).
  • Run task manager – If a problem still persists you can run your task manager and when your PC starts to slow down see which program is causing you the headache. You can shut it down and decide whether uninstall or reinstall the program. Sometimes programs just get hung up and need a reboot(see first item on list).

Like I said try the simple stuff first. Thanks for coming by.

Source: Spector, Lincoln(PCWorld 2010) Why does my PC sometimes slow to a crawl? PCWorld Magazine May 2010, Page 100

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

XP dying technology?

Dilbert.com

As a daily user of Windows XP I never thought of it as “dying technology”. Yes it has been around for many years though it is now the 3rd Windows OS behind 7 and Vista (like it or not). I like XP very much. It’s dependable and easy to use. It’s not like I don’t like the newer Windows operating systems. I like using my wife’s laptop with Vista on it and we’ve had good luck with it. My employer still uses XP and I don’t see them changing over any time soon.

I suppose it’s like if you had a ten year old car that ran great with no problems. Sure there are newer models with better technology, higher miles per gallon, faster, and more cup holders and so on.  Your comfortable with the old model though. You know all the quirks about it you’ve been through a lot together. Do you just toss it aside for a sleeker set of wheels?

This is just some food for thought. Thanks for coming by and I welcome any comments that you may have.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Funny Friday: Appholes!

This whole matter of Apple’s new iPhone controversy almost takes on a surreal feel. If your not aware of what’s going on here’s a quick summary. An Apple engineer (Grey Powell still employed for now,but probably taking a ton of heat) misplaced his next generation iPhone in a bar. Brian Hogan finds it left behind on a seat.  He soon figured out he had the new iPhone prototype in his hand. He did make some attempts to call Apple which didn’t help matters. To make a longs story short he ended up selling to a tech website called Gizmodo. You can catch the rest of the story from Gizmodo.

When this came to light off course Apple wanted there phone back, which apparently Gizmodo complied. This is where it gets surreal. Shortly thereafter Gizmodo had the doors busted in for an investigation into the whole affair. The original finder, Brian Hogan,  has got a lawyer and now says he probably should have done more to return it in the first place.

I’ve never sat down and watched his show but I found The Daily Show’s Jon Stewarts commentary on this matter pretty hilarious. He likens Apple to the “Big Brother” they eluded to in there now famous “1984” advertising when the introduced the Macintosh in the 80’s. Enjoy:

 

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Appholes
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

XP Internet Security 2010

Last week I had an encounter with “XP Internet Security 2010” malware. This is considered to be a “Rogue Security Software”. It is built to deceive users into paying for fake malware removal. It looks very much like the real thing. Here are some screenshots:

Screenshot - 2_24_2010 , 8_34_06 PM

Looks real and official doesn’t it?  This just pulls up random files in your PC and warns about a malware infection. These are just listed to scare you. Well you are infected with this malware of course.

Screenshot - 2_24_2010 , 8_14_58 PMYou’ll also get pop-up warnings in the corner of your taskbar.  Of course by this time your probably already suspecting a malware attack  as these pop up almost constantly at this point.

Screenshot - 2_24_2010 , 8_33_57 PMOf course they want you to register. They want your money and information. The only course you should take here is the “X” on the top right corner.

At first I did run a scan  with my Panda antivirus which showed up nothing. I scanned with Spybot:Search and Destroy which did find some spyware. It did not solve the problem even after two scans. I realized I had to get some extra help. One that came highly recommended was MalwareBytes:Screenshot - 2_24_2010 , 9_20_25 PM

I downloaded the software and ran a full scan. The only downside was that the scan last almost 3 hours. After  it rebooted the infection was gone.  I was very relieved and happy. The version I got was free but, there is a pay version also.  I highly recommend this software if your running into this problem too. It can be found here at Malware Bytes website. For more information you can check out this helpful guide by BleepingComputer.com.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My favorite Apps so far

  I know that iPhone is sort of old news but it’s new to me. I think part of the allure of the iPhone is the sheer number of apps that you can find for this device. Even a couple of weeks later I’m still finding interesting stuff browsing through the Apple App store. I got a car charger and a silicon case for it already. I’ve got a car carrier coming too. Next I believe may be a cassette adapter to play my music. Anyway I just thought I’d share what my favorite items are so far. Most are free though a few I’ve paid for. I’ve discover many free apps are but “lite” versions(or demo) of full scale pay apps. Which is good that you can try something out for free before forking over your cash. This is essentially a way to “test drive” an app to see if you like it. Well here’s an early list of my favorite apps:

Facebook - (Free)

I’m a self admitted Facebook addict so this was a no brainer. It contains the essential features that you use on the site. You can update your status, upload photo’s, check your feed, make comment’s, chat, and so on. Games, quizzes, video’s(containing flash media) and other applications may not show up. It’s actually a very clean version of Facebook without all the added clutter.  I like it so far.

Flickr - (Free)

I’m a big fan of Flickr and so this was an early download. Flickr if you don’t know is a site that allows you to upload and share your photo’s along with many other things you can do with your photo’s. This app is handy to upload your photo’s to the web and then you can do what you want with them( like post them to a blog like I’m doing here).  It can also be a way to surf through and admire other peoples photography.

Google - (Free)

This one is handy if you’ve got a Gmail account and use there services a lot. There search feature even has a voice search which you can “tell” Google what to search for. It’s a pretty neat feature in it’s own right.

Yahoo! - (Free)

Of course we can’t leave out Yahoo! I’ve had a Yahoo! for over ten years so this was one of my first downloads. Like the Google App you can check your email and other Yahoo! features.  You can check news and on your social media and customize it to your taste.

Doodle Jump - ($o.99 USD)

I had to include this fun app to break up all the serious ones here. This one was recommended to me by my sister-in-law. It is strangely simple yet addicting. Your doodle must jump and bounce continually on floating platforms. You move him around by tilting your phone from side to side. It’s silly but fun. It’s a quick game you can play waiting in line somewhere.

These are just the first five of favorites. I do have some other’s I’ll feature in another post. Enjoy and I’ll talk to you later.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year’s Day 2010 !

j0412064 I want to wish all my friends, family and guests to this website a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. Usually New Year’s day is a day of parties and resolution’s. For me it is a time to spend with family without much fanfare.  This past year has been a challenge but we made it through which we can be thankful. We lived through the challenge of bringing up my new son Sam(in his first year) and my oldest son Josh who still wants the same amount of attention as before.  I don’t have any new “resolution’s” to reveal. I’m still continuing along with the goals I’m working on. They include to continue with my quitting smoking with Chantix, to get an “A” in every class I take at New England Tech and not to forget to love and support my family throughout the year.

I actually think New Year’s day should be the day of thanks instead of Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my wife bearing the brunt of raising  two son’s and running a household. Thankful for a job that has been steady and keeps food on the table and a roof over our heads. I’m also thankful to new and old friends and family I’ve met through Facebook. I hope you all have a……..

Happy New Year!