Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

GIGO

Garbage In, Garbage Out

One cannot venture far into the mysterious land of computers and “digital assistants” before one realizes that they have entered a land of acronyms; and that computer geeks speak these weird things like they are actual words. Let’s call this place “Techland”.

Spend any time in Techland, and you will find yourself surrounded by these acronyms, and hounded by them… and that you are expected to know all of them.

Frankly, I’m FUWA* (Fed Up With Acronyms) and I instinctively dislike them. I don’t trust them, and sometimes I think they’re there just to make me feel stupid. I’m sorry, Jack, but gooey¹ is what salt-water taffy is, and bye-ose² is not a real word. Yes, I don’t like geek acronyms one bit.
And they breed like cockroaches.

I am thinking of writing my Congressperson asking that they sponsor a Bill that would ban all acronyms (the BAA Bill). That’s how FUWA’ed I am. But I have been kind of too busy to actually do so yet. (At the moment, I’m trying to learn all the intricacies of HTML³ and CSS4 for a website ‘makeover’.)

But there’s one I like — “Gih-go” (or, “gee-go”, if said fast enough).
GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out.

In Techland, GIGO refers to “the fact that computers will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data and produce nonsensical output. It was most popular in the early days of computing, but applies even more today, when powerful computers can spew out mountains of erroneous information in a short time.”

But.. I don’t much care how the computer geeks mean it. To me, that’s just a “well, duh.” I use it as an explanation of some of the human behavior I see. The “garbage in” is the messages we expose ourselves too.


Tip of the day: Reduce your garbage in.

1) There is very little on TV that will make you smarter, wiser, or better looking. Nor will it pay your bills for you. In fact, it is an idiot (making) box.

2) Some studies have suggested that classical music raises IQ points. I don’t think anyone has done a study on what Metal or Gansta Rap does.. But.
For sure, learning to read music and play an (new?) instrument will expand your mind.

3) You are not too old to go back to school. Take a course in painting, pottery, photography, landscaping, sculpting, creative writing, whatever. I bet you have a talent (a “gift”) you haven’t discovered yet !!!

4) You are important whether or not you drive a BMW or wear lots of bling bling. Why fall sucker to advertisements.. just because you’re bombarded with them?

5) Is there someone in your life constantly pointing out all your faults for you? Telling you you’re worthless and a big fat zero? That sounds like ‘garbage in’ to me..

“The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
~John Milton, Paradise Lost

Today’s free link(s):
Free Lifetime License for SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – 20 to Give Away

Download FREE Music – New Artists – New Music

* A Tech Paul original.
¹ GUI (Graphical User Interface), such as your desktop.
² BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), the BIOS is boot firmware, designed to be the first code run by a PC when powered on.
³ HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), is the predominant formatting language for web pages
4 CSS (Cascading Style Sheet), is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content (written in HTML) from document presentation, like font, and background color.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 31, 2009 Posted by | advice | 12 Comments

Revitalize Your PC With Windows’ Utilities*

my last day of ‘vacation mode’…(sigh).

Computers get slower with age. And as we add programs and updates, sometimes little ‘quirks’ develop. The older our machines get and the more we use them, the worse these things become.

Largely, this is simply due to how our machines read and write the 1’s and 0’s to our hard drives, and various “clutter” that builds up. (But some of it is our fault. We humans are curious creatures and we like to install new programs and try them out, and then we just leave them there, unused…)

Windows gives us four tools – called “utilities” – to help us keep our hard drives clean, happy, and running smoothly (sometimes called “optimized”) which you might be unaware of, (or use often enough) as you have to right-click to find them. (Out of sight, out of mind, right?)

These are:
● Disk Cleanup Tool
● Error Checker
● Tool Defragmenter
● Backup

To get started, click on Start >Computer (or, “My Computer” in XP/older).
Comptr
Now right-click on the drive you want to “optimize” (usually, that will be “Local Disk (C:)”, but each drive [“volume”] will have this. C: is your main one), and a context menu will open — click on “Properties”.

gen tab

A new window will open to display the drive properties, and by default it will open to the “General” tab.

On this tab, we’re interested in the Disk Cleanup button. Disk Cleanup is a safe way to “take out the trash” and remove clutter from your disk.

My super-ultra-deluxe article on the in’s-and-out’s of this tool is here, More than you wanted to know about the Disk Cleanup Tool, but the short version is: click the buttons, answer “yes” and let it do its job. I recommend doing this once a week.

Now we dig down one layer, and this is hard work, so you might want to put on your gardening gloves, click on the next tab over.. the “Tools” tab.

———————————————————————

disk propts

Here you find the other three utilities buttons.

The top button is the Error Checking tool. Running this tool is a good way to eliminate those odd ‘glitches’. What it does is, it examines the physical surface of your hard drive looking for “potholes” and marks those areas as “bad” so that the computer won’t try to put your files there.

It also examines your file allocation table (FAT) and makes sure that all your internal roadsigns are pointing at the right streets. Um.. maybe a card-catalog-at-the-library analogy might work better — it makes sure all the index cards are in the proper order and all the Dewey Decimals are correct.
This tool is for use as a repair, and not a maintenance, so use it as needed and not on a schedule.

Next up is the defragmenter. I remind my readers to run this once a month, and to set an automation schedule for it (Vista and Win 7 already have that) in articles like, When was the last time you “defragged”?
Keeping your disk “defragged” is the best way to keep it running like when it was new. (Be sure to run Disk Cleanup tool before the defrag.)

The last — Backup — isn’t an optimizer or age-fighter, but it is probably the most important feature in Windows. I have written probably 30 different articles on just how important making backup copies of your files, photos, records, etc., is, and why you really, really, really want to do it. See How To Use Windows Backup Tool.

I don’t really know why — for all these years — Microsoft has not put these utilities right under our noses and in plain sight as separate entries under Start >Programs… But now that you know where they are, you can use them and get that PC of yours into a more “like new” performance state. Aka, “optimized”!

Today’s free link: Free Lifetime License for SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – 20 to Give Away

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 30, 2009 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Video: To Catch An ID Thief*

When you think of the Internet underground, you probably don’t think about Burbank or Ventura, Calif.. But if you want to see what’s going on in the Web’s darkest corners, the Ventura Freeway is where you need to go…

I have been a fan of Bob Sullivan’s MSNBC Red Tape Chronicles for a while now, and recently I had the time to go through some of his older articles, and I came across one I had missed — A Portal On Credit Card Crime.

I highly recommend that you read this article.

On it, I also found links to a Dateline special undercover series titled “To Catch an ID Thief”, which I had also missed. It too, is a “must read”, er.. “must see”. So I have provided links to the videos. (You will need to enable Flash.)

Amazing stuff here. I hope you’ll watch and learn, and tell your friends.

'To Catch an ID Thief'
‘To Catch an ID Thief’

2: Underground den of thieves
2: Underground den of thieves

3: 'Hansen Discount Electronics'
3: ‘Hansen Discount Electronics’

4: CH delivery
4: CH delivery

5: Where's Wendy?
5: Where’s Wendy?

6: Harsh truth
6: Harsh truth

Today’s free link: Free Lifetime License for SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – 20 to Give Away

Today’s free download: If you are considering building your own website, or are interested in free WYSIWYG web-authoring tools, a nice tool is the free version of Web Easy Professional, by V-Comm.

*Orig post: 5/8/09

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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July 29, 2009 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Wireless Better For Home Networking?*

This networking question was submitted by a reader recently, and I think it may be of interest to “everyone”.

Q: Paul, I am hoping for some guidance. I will soon be moving, and will have to set up a new network. I have three computers, a laser jet printer and a photo printer. My old network was wired and homenetworking worked well, but I have heard that the new wireless is faster.

Which is better these days, wired or wireless?

A: I hate ambiguous answers, but in this situation I really must answer, “that depends”. And I must also say that it really isn’t a case of one being “better” than the other.
In my experience, a “blended” network (both wired and wireless) is the most common.

Consideration #1: Mega-bits-per-second:
1) Wire “speed” is typically either 10/100, or 1,000(Gigabit).
2) Wireless “speed” is either 54 (wireless-g) or 270 (wireless-n).
… and your Internet is coming into your home at, what, 1.5? 3? 6 Mbps?
(My point here is that, as far as sharing your Internet is concerned, even a very old 10 Mbps network is “fast” enough.)

Consideration #2: Stringing cable:
Most newer homes are built with Ethernet wiring, and so your network is already there (to a large degree), but for older homes a very real concern — should you choose to go Gigabit wired — is WirelessHomeNetwork where will the wires go? How will you get them upstairs?

This is not an insurmountable issue (and, you could hire a professional) but it may be that wireless is the best for you.

General advice:
* Networking gear defaults to the speed of the slowest component.
What that means is, let’s say you go and buy a brand-new Wireless -N router (technically, a “WAP”) that runs at 270 Mbps, and the adaptor on your 2 year-old laptop is a “G”, your connection will be at G’s 54 Mbps.
And if the port on your Desktop is Gigabit, and your cable is Cat 5e or better (Gigabit capable), but there’s no Gigabit port on your router.. your LAN is running at  the slower 100 Mbps.

The trick is to make sure everything ‘matches’. For instance, in the first example (laptop), buying a Wireless-N PCMCIA card, or USB dongle, will now give you the 270 you bought the fast router for. And for the Gigabit example, a new router that has Gigabit ports will make things ‘match’ and give you a Gigabit LAN.

Last bit of advice: Buy the fastest gear you can afford. You may not get full advantage of it today, but it won’t be a bottleneck tomorrow.

Today’s free link(s): In today’s article I mentioned that there are alternatives to drilling holes in your wall/floor/ceiling, and one method is EoP (Ethernet over Power lines). This uses the electrical wires already in your home to send your 1’s and 0’s from device to device. Fellow Tech Blogger Bill Mullins has an informative article on this topic here, http://billmullins.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/easy-computer-networking-use-your-electric-wiring/

For more on understanding Gigabit Ethernet, see, Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster

* Orig post: November 16, 2008

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 28, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, networking, PC | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Is That A Terabyte In Your Pocket (PC)?

hard-drive From C/Net: “The storage-capacity gap between laptop and desktop hard drives just shrank significantly. Western Digital announced Monday two laptop drives that offer “extreme” amounts of storage– the Scorpio Blue 1TB and the Scorpio Blue 750 GB.

Prior to this announcement, the largest laptop hard drive available was 500 GB.”

(To read more about this development, and see the spec’s, please click here.)

I have mentioned Moore’s Law to my readers on several occasions, and this is another example. A terabyte in a laptop? Wow. But then, the same size drive that used to hold 4.3 GB’s now holds two terabytes..

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction (always a stupid thing to do!): that we’ve reached the end-of-life-cycle for these mechanical drives — with their motors and read/write arms — and that flash memory “solid state” drives will be the future standard.

… few more days of ‘vacation mode’ left…

Today’s free link: Free Lifetime License for SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – 20 to Give Away

[addenda: For those of you how might care about such a thing, Western Digital is my preferred brand for hard-drives (HDD’s) .]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 27, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, News, PC, tech | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alert: World of Warcraft Phishing E-mail

I noticed on the SophosLabs blog that Sean McDonald has warned of a *new* phishing scam that, instead of trying to steal banking logins, is trying to steal WoW accounts.

The attack uses the same methods as a banking scam — embedded hyperlinks that take you to a realistic-looking fake login page, and a scary “verify your account or else!” message. Here is what the e-mail looks like:

wow_phish_msg2

And here is what the bogus page looks like:

wow_phish_page

I would like to tip my geek hat to the good folks at Sophos, as well as remind you, Dear Reader, the Internet’s police force is us. Use your good “paranoid common sense” when online!

You can see Sean’s entire article here.

Today’s free link: Free Lifetime License for SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – 20 to Give Away

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 26, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, Internet scam, Phishing, phraud, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

We can achieve a great positive change in the general welfare of the universe through this program.

Attn;Sir/Madam

from: THE SWISS FOUNDATION. kronos10@cheapnet.it

subject: Att;Sir/Madam.

mailed-by: cheapnet.it

The Swiss Foundation
Grafenaustrasse 11
6300 Zug
Switzerland
http://www.markrich.org/sf_index.html

GRANT AID NOTIFICATION
The Swiss Foundation, would like to notify you that you have been chosen by the
board of trustees as one of the final recipients of a cash Grant/Donation for
your own personal, educational, and business development. The Swiss Foundation,
established 1974 by the Multi-Million groups and now supported by the United Nations Organization (UNO) and the European Union (EU) was conceived with the objective of human growth, educational, and community development.

To celebrate the end of year anniversary program, The Swiss Foundation in conjunction with the United Nations Organization (UNO) and the European Union (EU) is giving out a yearly donation of £6,500,000.00 GBP (Six Million,five hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds) to 100 lucky recipients. These
specific
Donations/Grants will be awarded to 100 lucky international recipients worldwide in different categories for their personal business development and enhancement of their educational plans. At least 15% of the awarded funds should be used by you to develop a part of your environment. This is a yearly
program, which is a measure of universal development strategy.
The objective is to make a notable change in the standard of living of people all around the Universe (From America to Europe, Asia to Africa and all around). The Swiss Foundation has been assured of highest organization
standard
courtesy of the United Nations. It is our belief that we can achieve a great positive change in the general welfare of the universe through this program. That is why the foundation is doing everything possible to get all recipients notified of their donation.

Note that your country is not the only country that is benefiting from this donation. Beneficiaries have been chosen from countries from all continents. The idea of this donation is that within ten years from now, there will be notable richness among many unusual people around the world. This will give
many people the opportunity to get their lives to a stage where they
had always
wanted.

Based on the random selection exercise of internet websites and millions of supermarket cash invoices worldwide, you were selected among the lucky recipients to receive the award sum of £750,000.00 GBP (Seven Hundred And Fifty Thousand Great Britain Pounds) as charity donations/aid from the The
Swiss Foundation, EU and the UNO in accordance with the enabling act of Parliament. (Note that all beneficiaries email addresses were selected
randomly
from over 100,000 internet websites and a shop’s cash invoice around your area in which you might have purchased something from).

Your fund has been forwarded to our payment bank for immediate release to you.You are required to fill the form below and email it to our payment bank for qualification documentation and official processing of your claims. Please
endeavor to quote your Qualification numbers (N-222-6747, E-900-56) in all discussions.

FULL NAMES:
ADDRESS:
STATE:
COUNTRY:
SEX:
AGE:
OCCUPATION:
QUALIFICATION NUMBER:
TELEPHONE NUMBER:

Below is the contact details of the bank.

Bank Name: London International Bank
Account Officer:Gary Kingston
Email:londonintb@gmail.com
Tel: +44 70359 63323.

On behalf of the Board kindly, accept our warmest congratulations.

Regards.
Dr. Georg Stucky,
Foundation Officer.

Yes.. the formatting is as it appears in RL.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 25, 2009 Posted by | advice, Internet scam, spam and junk mail | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments