Tech – for Everyone

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

Sunday Beauty #131 (And a fun video too)

Folks, today’s “pretty picture” has some historic interest (as well as just being good photography [IMHO]).

Glienicke bridge

Click on image to see more by this artist (reco’d)

“Bridge” by 96dpi, courtesy of Flickr Commons

[The historical interest:The Glienicke bridge (Glienicker Brücke) is a bridge in Berlin which spans the Havel River to connect the cities of Potsdam and Berlin near Klein Glienicke. It was completed in 1907. The Soviet Union and the United States used it three times to exchange captured spies during the Cold War, and the Bridge was referred to as the Bridge of Spies by reporters.]

Photographer’s tip: this image shows why early morning and late afternoon are the best times (of day) for taking pictures — the light is slanting in and making things more colorful, and creating interesting shadows.

Today’s fun (video) (because it’s summer):

(How many of those scenes did you recognize?)

Today’s reading reco (not so fun): The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership

Imagine the government passed a law requiring all citizens to carry a tracking device. Such a law would immediately be found unconstitutional. Yet we all carry mobile phones.

If the National Security Agency required us to notify it whenever we made a new friend, the nation would rebel. Yet we notify Facebook … ” Read more..

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Today’s quote:A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 18, 2013 Posted by | Digital Images | , | Leave a comment

Still on XP? Let’s talk. (And some Friday Fun)

Folks, years ago, now, I first started warning people to get off of the ancient Windows XP operating systems, and saying that Microsoft is more than echoing my sentiments. (I wrote It is time to face facts and finally dump Windows XP – “I have been saying this for a while now; but, sometimes people just want to know what other pros are saying..” wwaaaaayyy back in March, 2011.)

windows-logoBut just in case you haven’t been paying attention, be aware: Microsoft will cease issuing fixes and security patches (aka “supporting”) Windows XP in April. Here’s the latest:

* Microsoft warns Windows XP users risk ‘zero day forever’

Microsoft’s latest tack in trying to wean users off Windows XP is to warn them of a possible ‘zero day forever’ scenario in the post-April 2014 support cut-off world. Read more..

More coverage:

* Microsoft dangles Windows 8, Office 2013 carrots to get SMBs off Windows XP

* Microsoft issues partners Windows XP phase-out marching orders

And the fact is, you want a 64-bit operating system now, and certainly one that the hackers haven’t had under their microscopes for a dozen years. Fortunately, you can still get new PC’s with Windows 7 (and this time of year, prices are low).

Today’s Geekspeak Translation: A “zero-day” is a item of malware (aka “virus”), or “exploit“, for which no “signature” or “patch” has yet been issued (an attack for which there’s currently no defense).

Today’s quotable quote:Love looks forward, hate looks back, anxiety has eyes all over its head.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Today’s Friday Fun Video:

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Microsoft, News, tech, Windows, XP | Leave a comment

Learn more about who is Gmail-ing you with Rapportive

Those of you who use Gmail may be interested in this plug-in I just learned about.

Folks, there’s a browser add-on (aka “plug-in”) that replaces the ads in Gmail with some pretty cool info about the Senders of the email in your Inbox. It’s available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari 5, RockMelt, Flock, and Mailplane (a standalone Gmail application for Mac). It’s called Rapportive, and I found it due to some rave reviews.

What is Rapportive?

“Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. You can immediately see what people look like, where they’re based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests. You can grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more. And you can record thoughts for later by leaving notes. Imagine relationship management built into your email. For free.”

Check it out here.

Today’s quote:A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.” ~ John Lubbock

Today’s fun video (because it’s summer):

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, Firefox, Google, how to, software, tech | Leave a comment

Choosing the right computer for your student

This is the time of year when I am asked for advice on what computer “tech” to buy for students.

It can be daunting – shopping for a new laptop or PC – as the number of choices is immense. (And shopping for someone else isn’t as easy, either.) But the good news is that it is hard to find a laptop or PC that is not capable of (powerful enough for) ‘general use’; even the cheapest ones. And the other good news is that, because computers are just an assembly of parts, it really isn’t all that important to choose one brand over another. Better yet, almost everyone selling tech has super discounts this time of year.

parents/teachers may want to click this image

However, if your student is older, and their coursework requires taking (doing) processor-heavy stuff – such as Animation/Film, Music editing/Broadcasting, Video Game Design, Drafting/Architecture, etc. – you’ll want to look at mid-to high-end units; which have faster processors (with more “cores”), plenty of RAM (4 – 6 GB’s), bigger screens with a “graphics card” (or in the case of laptops/notebooks, what is called “discrete graphics”) of at least 1GB.

Laptop or Desktop?

For home (or the dorm) the Desktop PC is still the workhorse, and my first choice; but for students who need mobility to study in the library, take notes in the classroom, join collaborative “study sessions” at the Quad, and whatnot, it’s hard to beat a laptop. (Sorry, but no, an iPad or tablet is not really a productivity device.)

If you decide on a laptop/notebook, there are a few factors to consider – most do not come with a 10-key “numberpad”, so if your student is a math, or business major, you might want to choose a model that does. Also, you might also want to buy a (larger) monitor that can be plugged into the laptop when back in the dorm.

More essential accessories:

* I always add a wireless mouse to my laptops. If the laptop you select has Bluetooth, a Bluetooth mouse is a “must have” addition (IMHO). If it doesn’t have Bluetooth, I would recommend a small (aka “travel”) wireless mouse from Kensington.

* External backup (“storage”). Whether you opt for a 1TB “portable” USB drive, or signing your student up with a subscription to a “cloud” file storage/sync service like Dropbox or SOS, a place to store copies of their homework is essential (you wouldn’t want to have to write that essay twice, would you?) and can help prevent “the hard drive ate my homework” nightmares.

* A pair of decent speakers. Today’s world really is “multimedia”, and speakers are must-have’s. It’s just that simple. And I said “decent”, as in don’t buy the cheapest you can find. (Yes, laptops do [usually] come with some kind of ‘built-in’ speaker, but even the best of those are wimpy.) I consider headphones to be a supplement to a speaker set, but in environments with nearby roommates (such as a dorm room), headphones might be a better first choice than speakers.. (if you’re planning to use Skype to visit with your student [and/or they’re online gamers] a headset with a ‘built-in’ microphone would be a good choice.)

* Anti-theft/find-if-lost software (optional). I personally would feel better if my student’s new laptop were protected – and (possibly) recoverable – if misplaced or stolen, and software like Laptop Cop is a great addition, well-worth the added investment. (See, 6 Ways to Find Your Stolen Laptop, If your laptop is ever lost or stolen, this security software will work hard to protect your precious data and help you recover the device.)

I hope these thoughts will help you choose a unit that your student will like and get good use from. But if you were hoping for more info (such as, “what do those Giga-numbers mean to humans?” [aka “specs”]) you may also be interested in this article: What to Look for When Buying a New Computer, My Computer Shopping Guidelines (it’s older, but still pertinent and more detailed).

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Are we ready to pay attention now? $1.5 million Cyberheist Ruins Escrow Firm

A $1.5 million cyberheist against a California escrow firm earlier this year has forced the company to close and lay off its entire staff. Meanwhile, the firm’s remaining money is in the hands of a court-appointed state receiver who is preparing for a lawsuit against the victim’s bank to recover the stolen funds.Read more

Today’s quote:I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” ~ Mark Twain

Today’s fun video (because it’s summer):

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, consumer electronics, hardware, PC, Portable Computing, shopping for, tech | , , , , | 2 Comments

Find important emails faster

Working with a client the other day reminded of this simple tip for “organizing” your email, and helping make those important ones easy and quick to go back to again.

emailReady?

Change the Subject line.

Yes, that’s right. When viewing your emails in Outlook, or the other email clients (Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, etc.), simply (use the cursor to) “highlight” (turn blue) the unhelpful text the author put there, and type something helpful in its place — something that more relates to what you want to respond to, or something (aka “keywords”) to help the Search feature return the particular email you’re trying to find again.

For example, you might get an email on a Tuesday regarding a mandatory meeting scheduled for Friday, and the author had put, oh, say, “Tuesday’s reminders” as the Subject. What’s that got to do with Friday’s meeting?

Simply changing “Tuesday’s reminders” to “Friday’s meeting” might make it a bit easier to remember/see, and go back to quickly when you need to remind yourself of the meeting’s time.
Better, why not change the Subject to “Friday’s 10 am meeting“?

This is a real good habit to get into, IMHO.

Today’s quote: That the birds of worry and care fly over you head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Um….
Yeah.
Okay…

Today’s fun video (because it’s summer):

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to | , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Beauty #130 (or so)

Folks, here’s yet another interesting image for your Sunday.

6808417275_c245b43c4b_z

Click on image to see more by this artist (reco’d)

“A Tree” by grotos, courtesy of Flickr Commons

Today’s quote:Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.” ~ Glenn Turner

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 11, 2013 Posted by | Digital Images | Leave a comment

Pamela (for Skype)

When I am asked for advice inre the ability to record Skype video calls and texts, I simply refer them to Pamela, and further suggest, if they’re using it for business purposes, to go ahead and buy the “pro”.

What is Pamela for Skype?
Free, reliable and easy to use Skype audio and video recording software.

Features:

  • Free Skype Call Recording
  • Free Skype Video Recording
  • Skype Chat Recording
  • Skype Call Transfer
  • Skype Call Scheduler
  • Record calls automatically
  • Mono/Stereo recording option
  • Skype Conference Call manager
  • Create cool mood messages
  • Answering Machine
  • Play sounds during calls
  • Auto Chat Reply
  • Birthday Reminders
  • Email Forwarding
  • Contact Personalization
  • Blogging & Podcasting

and many other cool features.

Bonus Fun Video (because it’s summer):

Today’s quote:For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” ~ Lily Tomlin

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, PC, software, tech, VoIP | , , , , , , | 6 Comments