Tech – for Everyone

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

Stream All Your Media – Free!

Turn Your PC Into An Internet Media Server

I came across an program that you can download and install on your PC which allows you to “serve” (aka “stream”) your stored media (recorded shows and movies, music, jpegs, etc.) over the Internet. Thus, when you are out-and-about (“mobile”) you can ‘log in’ to your “server” (your PC) and access your stuff; and/or you can share it with others.

It is called Orb, and it is feature packed and very simple to use.

“Orb MyCasting is a free service from Orb Networks that makes it easy for consumers to remotely view and share their live and recorded home and Internet TV, music, videos, photos, podcasts, and other digital media stored on their PC, from any Internet-connected device, be it a mobile phone, PDA or laptop.  MyCasting is the opposite of broadcasting, allowing you to stream your digital media when (time), where (place), and how (device) you want it.

Orb Networks is the first company to offer a single solution for enjoying virtually all of your digital media remotely, using the devices you already own.  There is no need to choose which technology path to go down to access your media remotely; other options are cumbersome and require an additional investment in yet another “cool” technology.  Orb is free and begins with one easy download: there is no hardware or software required, and no additional time needed to catalog and categorize your digital media.  You get instant access to the digital media that’s already on your PC.  Just download Orb and start MyCasting.”

I can see lots of uses for this technology whether or not you are a “road warrior” and often away from your PC. And it’s free. The folks there at Orb Networks get a big tip of my geek hat, and I encourage you to click here and visit their website. There is a short animation which demonstrates how it works, and screenshots of the many features.
(Also, you can view their Orb FAQ.)

All you need is a XP or Vista computer (to be the “server”) and a broadband Internet connection.

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

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September 22, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, Simple File Sharing, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Way To Sync Outlook, Google Calendar

Two-way Synchronize Your Contacts and Appointments

Many of my clients are sticking with Microsoft Outlook as their e-mail client, but have migrated to the online Google Calendar for their day planning needs. When I am asked for help with this transition, I recommend that they download and install Google’s syncing tool, called (appropriately enough) Google Calendar Sync, as it allows you to automatically sync events between Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar.

Currently, Google Calendar Sync is only compatible with Microsoft Outlook versions 2003 and 2007, and operating systems Windows XP and Windows Vista.  Windows XP 64-bit Edition is not compatible with Google Calendar Sync at this time.

To expand this capability onto your mobile devices, smart phones, and PDA’s, download and install Google’s sync-ing app for that, called (appropriately enough) Google Mobile Sync.

Using these free tools makes managing your busy life much smoother by keeping your information updated regardless of when, how, or where you need it.

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

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September 21, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, Google, how to, Internet, Microsoft, mobile, Portable Computing, Simple File Sharing, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

General Advice For Purchasing A Digital Camera*

I understand perfectly why people want some advice when it comes to buying a digital camera. There is a whole gaggle of them to choose from – an overwhelming variety – and when you start shopping, it’s easy to become confused by the jargon.

A “mega” pixel is better than an ordinary, everyday “pixel”.. right? (You bet it is. It contains more vitamins and minerals.)

A long, long, time ago I wrote a three-part advice series on buying a new computer, and today I am going to reiterate a bit of advice from there – when buying a digital camera, you have to hold it in your hands. The “right” camera for you will just, well, “feel right”. If you keep accidentally pushing a button, or put your thumb right on the viewer screen.. that’s not good.

Tip of the day: General advice for purchasing a new digital camera.

* Optical zoom is better than digital zoom. Make sure that the “zoom” feature of your camera is handled by a moving lens. Digital zooming is okay in very small amounts, but the way it works will cause funny-looking “pixilation” when really put to work.

* You want image stabilization. Image stabilization is in my opinion simply a “must have”; fortunately, almost every manufacturer provides it. I won’t spend time, here, describing the different types. If you’re curious, click the link.

* The Megapixel. Folks, there is a lot of confusion regarding the camera jargon word “megapixel”. A higher megapixel number does not necessarily equate with “sharper image” or “clearer picture“.. in fact, they usually have nothing to do with each other.

Megapixels refers to the image (data) size and determines how big an enlargement you can make before you start to experience distortions (think of it as being a bit like film sizes). If the largest prints you ever make are 5 x 7, a three-to-four Megapixel camera is all you need. A 10 Megapixel camera is overkill for the vast majority of uses, and it will simply fill your memory card faster, with fewer shots. (But, you could make poster-size prints.)

* LCD “viewfinder”. I think it is important to have a manual viewfinder, as well as the LCD screen.. but that is personal opinion. In terms of LCD, the factors to consider are brightness, placement, and size. It should be big enough that you can see what it is showing when you hold the camera away from your body, and, it should be positioned on the camera in such a way as to not cause you to hold your hand in a funny/odd way so that you can see it. The image should be bright enough to be seen when you are out in the sunlight.
(And I’d like to repeat, your camera should just feel right in your hand.)

* Don’t buy features you won’t use. If you are not a photography buff, and don’t want to memorize a 200-page owners manual, then you don’t want to buy a D-SLR; you want a “point-and-shoot”, and you don’t need 24 “settings” if you’re only going to use one. Right? Right.

Today’s free link: SUPERAntiSpyware Online Safe Scan, a powerful new tool in the fight against the latest and particularly difficult malware infections.

Today’s free download: NetSetMan is a network settings manager which can easily switch between 6 different profiles including IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, DNS server, Win server, computer name, printer, DNS domain, workgroup, and scripts. Great for mobile devices.

Orig Post: 5/12/08

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

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September 19, 2009 Posted by | advice, Digital camera, how to, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Do I Fix Messy Printing?

Reader’s Laser Printer Leaves Extra Toner On Pages

Q: Paul, my HP laser printer has started to leave ink along the border of the page and on other unwanted places. I ran the “cleaning tool” which helped but not much and I don’t want to use it each time I print. Any suggestions?

printer_clip A: Dear Reader,
You do not tell me the model number so I cannot guess how old your printer is, or how you use it, but there are usually two areas to look to for repairing the issue (I believe) you are describing.

* First, Run the cartridge cleaning feature (which you have done). This can be found in your printer’s software, or the Properties window for your printer.
* Then, look to the toner cartridge: it may be very low, or it may be defective. Try inserting a new one and see if you problem goes away. If not..
* It may be the printer’s “fuser unit” has worn out or become dirty. This is a more serious (and expensive) issue that usually calls for part replacement. Look to the HP website to find the part number and cost of a replacement for your specific printer. (You may need to use the part# to look for parts elsewhere on the Web, if your printer is really old.)

With the drop in pricing on laser printers, you may find that simply replacing the whole printer is a reasonable option… particularly if your current one has seen a lot of use already.

Related: The print job won’t stop printing

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

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September 18, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to, PC, printers, tech, troubleshooting | 8 Comments

A New Way Of Learning – Video Games In School

New York Launches Public School Curriculum Based on Playing Games

The first American school with a curriculum built around gaming principles, Quest to Learn (aka “Q2L”) may be at the forefront of a learning revolution—and some think the timing is right. New York City education officials hope that the new school can represent the tip of a “transformative” revolution, according to Metropolis.

Games have long played a role in classrooms, but next month marks the launch of the first U.S. public school curriculum based entirely on game-inspired learning. Select sixth graders can look forward to playing video games such as “Little Big Planet” and “Civilization,” as well as non-digital games ranging from role-playing scenarios to board games and card games.

Each of the 20 to 25 children per class will have access to a laptop and, rather than studying individual subjects, will attend four 90-minute periods a day devoted to curriculum “domains” like Codeworlds (a combination of math and English) and the Way Things Work (math and science). Each domain concludes with a two-week test that is called—borrowing from video parlance—a “Boss Level.”

Now folks, when I first read about this (it was brought to my attention by an alert reader) I have to say I had an immediate knee-jerk negative reaction. For one thing, I was jealous — we did not receive grades for playing games when I was in the 6th Grade. (Unless you count dodgeball in P.E.)

And for another thing, I thought about all the hand-wringing and media-generated fear over “video game addiction“, as well as a certain campaign that’s been telling us violent video games are turning our kids into killers. And I laughed at the irony.
(We humans are so full of contradictions, no?)

But as I thought more about it, I could start to see the possibilities of using our new technologies in a way that engages our kids and encourages learning. I have never been a 6th Grade teacher in New York City and I readily admit I have absolutely zero clue (none, zip, nada) as to the challenges they face.

I have absolutely no idea if this “teach-by-play” idea could be just what the doctor ordered, or turn out to be some “dumbing down” farce. At this point it’s an untried experiment. I am reluctant anytime we use kids in experiments – naturally – but on the other side of that coin, I am disgusted by our apparent modern trend of graduating kids who can’t read, or think critically, and who lack basic skills like making change.

Something has to be done, it seems to me: could this be it?

For more on Q2L, click on the “Metropolis” link.
And, here’s Popular Science’s write up: New York Launches Public School Curriculum Based on Playing Games

Related: College Courses on Twitter, ’Guitar Hero’ — Dumb or Smart Trend?

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

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September 17, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wednesday and A Quick "Must Read"

As life sometimes does, I have had more things to tackle than I have had hours, and so I did not get an article posted yesterday. And I will not have time to craft one for today.

But fear not, as Bill Mullins (2009 winner of the Friend Of The Internet Surfer Award) has posted a timely article that I consider a “must read” if you surf the Internet (and.. you’re looking at this, so…)

“Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze, as most people are now aware, passed away several days ago, and it hasn’t taken long for cyber crooks to use this to advantage. Cybercriminals have jumped on this information, and are already exploiting this sad event.”

Please see, Patrick Swayze’s Death – An Opportunity For Hackers, and please, also watch the short video tutorial. And then show it to your friends and family. (After all, ID Theft is up 200% from a year ago…)

While you’re there, you may want to take a look at his Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 16, 2009. There is an eye-opening piece on a criminal and an ATM “skimmer” device…

September 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, Internet | Leave a comment

Uninstalled Program Still Appears

Reader Asks How To Repair the Add/Remove Programs List

Q: I have listing of programs which show up in my add/remove programs that do not exist on my computer. I would like to remove them from the add/remove programs. Is there a program or do you know an easy way to remove non-existent programs which still show up here?

AddRemoveA: When a program remains in the list of installed programs in your Control Panel’s Add/Remove Programs, after you have uninstalled it, it really doesn’t hurt anything to leave the entry there– but it is annoying and .. well, wrong. All it is is a key in the Registry didn’t get deleted by the uninstaller (which is why I use Revo to uninstall programs and not Add/Remove Programs or the Uninstaller)

The simplest way to remedy this ‘glitch’ is to click on the entry and launch the Remove process (as if it was still there) — Windows should “discover” that the program no longer exists, and ask if you want to remove it from the listing – answer yes, and it will remove the name.
(Vista and Win 7 are pretty good at this, but in XP [and older] it is more of a 50/50 proposition.)

If Windows doesn’t fix itself, then you can run the Registry repair/cleaner in CCleaner, which should find and delete the Registry key. When CCleaner asks if you want to make a backup, answer yes.

The direct approach is to manually edit the Registry. The Microsoft instructions for that are here, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314481. As always, I remind you that editing the Registry is risky and to make a new Restore Point (System Restore) and a Registry backup before editing the Registry.

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

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September 14, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments