Tech – for Everyone

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

Review – Streaming Music With Spotify

I was lucky enough to get an “invitation”, and have been using the music service Spotify for a few weeks now.

Spotify is a new way to listen to music. Millions of tracks, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it.

Spotify has three levels of service:
Free (waiting list for invite): Millions of tracks available instantly.
Unlimited: ($4.99/mo) No advertisements, Unlimited streaming of music.
Premium: ($9.99) same as Unlimited but adds, Spotify on your mobile, Offline mode for playlists.

Once I got it installed, the first thing I wanted to know was, did they have my artists and bands? (aka, Would they provide the music I wanted to hear?) Well, so far, the answer to that is 95% (or, higher) → yes. Considering the convoluted mess that is DRM, that is impressive.

Back in my day, THE band was Van Halen (unless you were into the Bee Gees). Did Spotify have that?

Yes, they do. And they also have Van Halen songs performed by other artists. (see the “Artist” column.) Great! But what about the band that popularized “hard” rock, AC/DC?

Oops. They only have “cover bands”. I found the same goes for The Beatles (which makes sense, as iTunes and Apple bought the rights to the Fab Four). But the weird part is, I only knew I was listening to a cover band because I read the list — my ears thought I was listening to John, Paul, Ringo, and George.

I found other instances of DRM/artist restrictions.. for instance, the band Offspring has two songs I really like – “Come Out And Play (Got To Keep Em Separated)” and “Self Esteem”. Though Spotify has plenty of Offspring songs, the first is not listed (too popular?) and the second is sort of listed, but is not the song at all (it’s some Bluegrass weird thingy) .. But their top song, “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, is there.

But by and large, if I can think of the song, Spotify has it. I did not explore other music genres, but I have no reason to suspect the same would not be true there. (I did look up Johnny Cash, and he’s there. “I fell in to a burnin’ ring of fire..”) I do not think “millions of titles” is an exaggeration.

Spotify works much like the iTunes program, in that you can create “playlists”, play existing libraries, pause, replay, sort and search, etc.. It blows the doors off of Pandora if hearing your band play your song is what you prefer. I cropped my screenshots in a way that the banner ads in the free version are not as evident as they are when you have the Spotify ‘player’ open. I found no lags or skips or anything other than good quality when playing music with Spotify.

I can tell you that the “hype” over Spotify you have probably seen, seems justified to me , and I certainly understand why CNET calls it is a Top Pick. As I am not really a “music guy” these days (too many other distractions), I am fine with the free version, (and the ads don’t bother me as I create a playlist and then minimize the window) but were I still like I was when I was younger, and more “into the tunes”, I would seriously considering “upgrading” to the version that would allow me to access Spotify with my Android smart phone.. so I could better use it like an iPod when I am out walking. $10 a month for that, and “offline” playlists, seems quite reasonable to me.

You can check out Spotify, here. “All the music. All the time. On your computer, mobile phone, and more.” If you like listening to music, I highly recommend you do. Put your name on the waiting list for the free service, at least. Spotify earns two Tech Paul “thumbs up”.

(I might like to see an “equalizer” function.. you know, so I could crank up the bass.. ha! I guess I still have some music fan left in me..)

Today’s quote:I like long walks, especially when they’re taken by people who annoy me.” ~ Fred Allen

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 23, 2011 Posted by | Android, cloud computing, computers, digital music, Internet, iPhone, software | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Restore Shutdown Button To Logon Screen

Allow system to be shut down without having to log on

I have a Vista computer that was set to show the login screen (require a username+password) when it woke up from Sleep mode. Which is a good thing, security-wise.

That same computer is set to wake from Sleep mode anytime I moved the mouse or pressed a key. Which is a good thing, convenience-wise.

And I would generally keep this computer in Sleep mode. Which is a good thing, energy conservation-wise.

However, after I installed a laser mouse (quite sensitive to motion) this machine was waking from sleep (and showing the login screen) every time I set down my coffee mug with a thud, nudged the mouse with my elbow, or .. sneezed. It started to feel like it was going to wake up if I looked at it sideways..

This got rather annoying as for some reason, my logon screen (aka “welcome screen”) did not show the red shutdown options button. And I would have to enter my password and sign in, just so I could tell the machine to go back to sleep. This got quite tiresome quite quickly. I should be able to just click on (go back to) Sleep. What I wanted was this:

Which for some reason was not showing.

I went into Regedit, and found that my computer was – indeed – set to show the “shutdown options” button, but was ignoring it. Computers!

So what I did was disable it (set the 1 to a 0) and then enabled it again, and this time the “enable” setting ‘took’ (was recognized) and my “go back to sleep button” was restored — no more typing in my password every 3 minutes..!
This is quite often true with machines: disable, then re-enable (a kind of ‘reboot’) clears up the problem.

Should your power options button be missing from your log in screen, and you want it back, this web page has the How To — I recommend you use the second method. Advanced users (comfortable with editing the Registry) can easily do the 3rd method. The first method only works if you have Ultimate Editions. The tutorial is here.

(Conversely, you might want to ‘disable’, and “hide” the red power button.. say, if you had kids..)

Today’s reco’s:
Big News This Past Week That Will Impact the World of Computing As We Know It

HP single-handedly destroys non-iPad tablet market

After getting a taste for $99 tablets, will consumers continue to stomach $500 price tags? Read more..

Today’s quote:The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” ~ Charles de Gaulle

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 22, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Beauty #56

Here is another pretty picture for your Sunday..

Click on image to see more by this artist

“My shield” by Ed Bierman, courtesy of Flickr Commons.

… Okay. I know you noticed this is different than my usual, and that you’re wondering: what’s so “pretty” or “beautiful” about this image?

A: It’s not a recent picture of me (or, you). And that’s a beautiful thing..

Life may or may not be treating you too well at the moment, but.. that ain’t you. This was the image’s “blurb”:

“Foxy got fixed so has to wear this for a few more days”

Looking at that brightened my whole day!

(And, yes, I have had days where I felt like that was me…)

Enjoy your Sunday everybody!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 21, 2011 Posted by | Digital Images | , , | 4 Comments

Bikini-clad Women & Facebook

Oh, ho. Caught your attention? Yes it’s true; for the third time in the last week or so, Facebook (which I do not use, and never signed up for) is the topic for your consideration.

Click here to read more..

Surprise, surprise – this is a scam.

“If you’re a Facebook user, please repeat after me:

Facebook does not* let you track who is viewing your profile.

Third-party Facebook apps aren’t allowed to do it either, and if they claim to offer the ability they are banned from Facebook.

A comment on the photograph claims to point to a way for Facebook users to see who has been viewing their profile. The girl in the bikini was being used as tempting bait, just to bring traffic towards that link.”

I assure you, from mail I have received, the idea of seeing who is viewing your (Facebook) “profile” has a very strong appeal to many people. So I say again: Facebook does not let you track who is viewing your profile.

If you use Facebook, and/or to learn more about this scam tactic, please see Security Blogger Of The Year (2009, 2010) Graham Cluley’s, Bikini-clad women and photo tags aid Facebook scammers.

Also, you could check out Sophos’ best practices for better privacy and security on Facebook guide.

I hope I don’t ruin your day by telling you this, but there are some not-so-nice people out there, ruining the Internet. Please, let’s use some paranoid common sense when online? Don’t be a victim.

Today’s quote:Oftentimes, when people are miserable, they will want to make other people miserable, too. But it never helps.” ~ Lemony Snicket

Cold (um.. “cool”) winds and we’re not up to 65° (at noon) yet today.. yuk. Feels like Fall. Hope you have a great weekend!

* emphasis, mine.

(One more reason not to use Facebook… )

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 20, 2011 Posted by | advice, Internet, Internet scam, security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winners, Top Downloads, and Friday Fun

Here it is, Friday again. My, how time flies, doesn’t it?

Today I will do something a wee bit different. Yes, there is a video… it is “a very basic introduction”, and I hope you will enjoy (and maybe learn something you didn’t know). Also, a second video you downloaders and lovers of freebies will wanna see.

This week I again had the privilege and pleasure of handing out $500 worth of software licenses – ten licenses for a 5-star data backup program. Even better news, it seems every Tech – for Everyone reader already has a backup solution in place, protecting their important documents and images from disappearing forever in some digital disaster. Yay!
(This is quite different then my experience as a technician.. where, in all my years, I have only encountered 4 clients who had a recent backup of their files…)

Well.. every reader except for the 8 who entered the drawing, I guess…

Winners announced: If you entered my Backup4all License Giveaway Drawing, look for an email with the subject Backup4all License Winner in your Inbox (and/or, maybe, check your Junk folder).

… it is probable that this utter lack of interest and participation spells the end of license giveaways. (Though I have never received so many requests for reviews from vendors as I have this week.. Weird, ironic, dichotomy.) And, I’m glad to give up the job. These product testing+review/contests are time consuming work, so, yay for me!

Congratulations to the winners, and my sincere thanks to the folks at Softland for making the Giveaway possible!


Today’s quotable quote:
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Top 5 back to school downloads

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The weekend is almost here.. yay!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 19, 2011 Posted by | computers, free software, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Who’s Tamara Moon? | Software Giveaway

Who is Tamara Moon? I never heard of her, have you? Neither had I heard of FINRA. But I had heard of Citigroup. What caught my eye was a half-million dollar fine.

FINRA recently announced that it was fining Citigroup $500,000 for failing to keep track of an employee who managed to steal almost $750,000 from 22 customers during the course of eight years.

I ask you, who is the worst villain here? (This is from Dark Reading, an Information Security website).

A sales assistant at a branch office, Tamara Moon, stole money from the elderly, people with Parkinson’s disease, and even her own dad. And she managed to keep up her thieving ways despite exception reports that popped up for her superiors detailing conflicts in new account application information. Similarly, her supervisors did not spot red flags from suspicious transfers between unrelated accounts.

While FINRA is penalizing (punishing) the supervisors, the article sort of suggests the ‘bad guy’ is those working the technology, and I found it an interesting read: Insiders Still Thwart Database Controls Without Supervisory Support.
(Also interesting [to me]: “still thwart“.. like, insider theft should be stopped by now. I ask, has their ever been a defense created that an attacker didn’t eventually out-maneuver? At the moment, I can only think of one.. the Cold War policy of MAD.)

Today’s “Don’t miss out“: on the chance to enter my latest software license giveaway drawing!


***Last Chance: Win A Valuable Prize! ***


The folks at Softland have generously donated ten licenses for Backup4all Professional to me, to award to my readers – a $50 program!

“Backup4all is an award-winning data backup software for Windows. This backup utility was designed to protect your valuable data from partial or total loss by automating backup tasks, password protecting and compressing it to save storage space. This backup application is feature rich and offers an intuitive interface making all features easily accessible for both beginners and professionals.“ Entry closes at midnight (Pacific) tonight. Act now!

To enter the drawing, please see: Backup4all License Giveaway Drawing

~     ~     ~

Today’s quote:Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.” ~ Gil Stern

(And just in case you’re wondering.. people like Tamara.. well, I cannot print my thoughts.)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 18, 2011 Posted by | computers, Internet, News, security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using The Computer At Your Job

• The computer at your place of employment is not yours, it is the company’s. You are using it as a guest would.

• Everything you do it on it can be (and probably is being) watched (aka “monitored”).

This week (Monday and Tuesday) I have already had to explain this fact to three callers to my Tech Support biz.

They wanted to make changes, and install programs, and were puzzled by the fact the machines were not letting them, or failing to show menus, that their machines at home would let them make.

One wanted to install Hulu’s desktop app.

At work.

I was polite to these people, and explained to them that business machines are often ‘locked down’ by the IT department: that I could not/would not help them. And though it pained me (biting one’s tongue can hurt) I did not say anything other than they needed to ask their boss or IT department. (Which I knew they were not going to do: that’s why they had called me.)

• Every word you type can be read – even the log in to your webmail

Please think about that.

Every chat. Every email. Everything.

If you have checked your personal email while at work, your employers now know how to read your mail. Facebook. Whatever. I suggest that when you get home, you change your passwords, and stop doing personal stuff, and/or “recreational” stuff, when you are at work, getting paid to do the company’s business activities (aka “work”).

If they bother to look, yes, they can tell exactly (to the millisecond) how many minutes a week you play solitaire and Angry Birds. That might be a factor in their thinking when it’s time for the next round of layoffs. (I know it would be if I were boss and had to cut employees..)

Once again, I can’t believe I have to write this stuff…

Hulu? At work?

Today’s “Don’t miss out“: on the chance to enter my latest software license giveaway drawing!


*** Win A Valuable Prize! ***


The folks at Softland have generously donated ten licenses for Backup4all Professional to me, to award to my readers.

“Backup4all is an award-winning data backup software for Windows. This backup utility was designed to protect your valuable data from partial or total loss by automating backup tasks, password protecting and compressing it to save storage space. This backup application is feature rich and offers an intuitive interface making all features easily accessible for both beginners and professionals.“

To enter the drawing, please see: Backup4all License Giveaway Drawing

Today’s quote: “You will never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” ~ P.T. Barnum

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 17, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments