Tech – for Everyone

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

Music streaming, the FCC, and other stuff too

Yay. The weekend is here. Here are a few items for your consideration.

* Comparison: The 8 best music streaming services to use at work

In case you left your portable radio in 1998, here are some more modern options for picking the music to pass your workday.Read more..

* I’ve often said that the best predictor of future technology was to look at Star Trek. While we don’t yet have hand phasers, or “transporters”, other “sci fi” items are now a routine part of our lives. One of the ‘quantum leaps’ in man’s evolution is going to be “replicators”; and guess what? They’re here. 3D ‘bioprinting’: 10 things you should know about how it works

Using living cells to 3D print organs may sound far-fetched, but it’s happening. Bioprinting is quickly gaining traction. Here’s how it works.Read more..

[related: How 3D bioprinting is changing the world: Photos of 10 great projects ]

Beam me up, Scotty.

* About the FCC proposal: Net Neutrality: What’s Really Happening?

Is net neutrality really dead? Here are some of the top questions about the FCC’s plan, and what we know so far.Read more..

* Sunday Beauty #155 Here’s another interesting image for your weekend.

image beach sunset

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

“end of the day” by paul bica, courtesy of Flickr Commons

Today’s quote:In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~  John Muir

Copyright 2007-2014 © “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.
And please, never forget – one person can make a difference.
Find a way to make someone’s day today.
(Best advice I ever heard? Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

April 26, 2014 Posted by | advice, computers, consumer electronics, Digital Images, free software, Internet, News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing Your Photos (On The Web)

Reader asks for recommendations on photo sharing websites

Q: Can you tell me where is the best place for me to post my photography? I want the images to be available in high quality, and I want to be able to choose who can see them and who can’t. Thank you. ~ R.M.

A: R.M.,
Online photo sharing is a great way to keep far-off family and friends up-to-date with your latest adventures. (And it avoids the headaches of trying to send images by email!)

I am going to have to say that, in all likelihood, the answer to which of the dozens and dozens (and dozens) of photo-sharing websites (services, really) will be “best” for you will be subjective — my “best” may not be your “best” and visa versa — and you may have to experiment with several before settling on your final choice.

You say you want to post “high-quality” images: generally, that means large file sizes; and so, you may probably want to consider the amount of storage the service offers.. and/or consider (at some point) paying for a “premium membership” (which gives you more space).

As far as I know (photo sharing with friends and family is not something I personally do) all the sites allow you to qualify who has permissions to see the image (or “album” or “gallery” of images).

If you already have a Yahoo! account, you’re already halfway to accessing the Internet’s most popular photo sharing site — Flickr (where folks who have made their images viewable and usable by everyone have been the source of many of my Sunday Beauty images).
Flickr claims to be the best site (but.. they all do). It is free, (for a certain number of uploads per month) as well as offering “premium”.

If you already have a Google account, you might first try Picasa.

Those are the two “big players”. But also worth looking at are:

Since I haven’t really narrowed things down for you (sorry), I am going to give you a link to a reputable “comparison & review”, which may help:

The last couple of years have seen an explosion in the number of these photo-sharing and photo-printing sites, which means that print prices have dropped, and the range of services offered has expanded. Whether you have a handful of vacation shots or you’re a serious photographer with a big image archive, there are plenty of sites that can make printing and sharing a pleasure. We tried out more than 40 of them to give you a snapshot of your options.

Online photo sharing for snapshot photographers 
Online photo sharing for enthusiasts and pros  

Perhaps readers who use such services will chime in with their experiences/recommendation (please?), and so you may want to check back here in a little while…

Copyright 2007-2011 © “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. <<

June 15, 2011 Posted by | advice, cloud computing, computers, Digital Images, how to, Internet, Simple File Sharing, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Home Networking: Wires vs Wireless

This networking question was submitted by a reader recently, and I think it may be of interest to “everyone” and provides a good opportunity to discuss some computing fundamentals.

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 (Mbps)
1) Wire “speed” is typically either 10/100, or 1,000(Gigabit).
2) Wireless “speed” is either 54 (g) or 270 (n).
… and your Internet is coming into your home at.. 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 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 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: 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 [aka “powerline networking”]). This uses the electrical wires already in your home to send your 1’s and 0’s from device to device. It is often rated at 200 Mbps.
Better Together: Wi-Fi and Powerline Networking – PC World

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

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October 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, networking, PC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do The Dolby Numbers Mean?

Dolby 7.1 Must Be Newer Than 5.1, But Is It Better?

A reader wrote and asked me for some advice regarding a sound card.

Q: Paul — My son has been pestering me to buy “Audigy sound” for his computer. He is very much involved in some kind of online gaming world  and he says he needs this for better results. I have asked Capturehim to explain to me how this Audigy will make things better, but all I have been able to really grasp is that the item he wants is “Dolby 7.1”.

I am reluctant to purchase this additional item as only two Christmases ago Santa took special pains to make sure that my son’s computer could play all the latest games. I have checked, and his PC has Dolby 5.1.

Can you tell me why my son thinks he needs Dolby 7.1 to play today’s games?

A: First of all, a disclaimer: I am by no means an audiophile. I will do my best to provide a solid, computer geek answer (but I will also ask my more knowledgeable readers to assist and/or correct me) but I won’t dare get involved in parenting advice. I’ll try to be brief.

SBAudigy is a model name (a family of products) of Creative Labs—  a company practically synonymous with computer sound cards .. and it’s the company responsible for me becoming a tech, as they forced me to learn about IRQ’s and memory address spaces back in the early days.

Dolby is a audio format known for “noise” reduction, compression, and the ability to separate out discrete “channels” — which gives us the ability to create “surround sound” environments. It is this latter where the Dolby numbers come in.

The numbers represent the number of “channels” available. A “5.1” is a six channel ability and a 7.1 is an eight channel. The first number is ‘normal’ channels and the 1 is for a special, bass-heavy “sub-woofer” (designed to add psychological effect to thunder, and .. explosions).

The “channels” are assigned to an area — center, left front, right front, left rear, and right rear, and are intended to go to corresponding speakers. A “5.1” configuration is shown here.

In gaming, this can aid the player when audible clues are provided by the game designers.. for instance, stealthy footsteps may be sent to the left rear speaker, but not to any of the other speakers, and this could alert the player that an enemy is behind him (and to the left)… and it will probably be his only clue, before the enemy strikes.

A “7.1 configuration” allows the addition of two more speakers, as shown below.

What should be obvious now is that you need speakers (6, or 8) physically placed to take advantage of these “channels”. If all you have is two rinky-dink little PC speakers that came free with your system, or built into your monitor.. well, you really aren’t going to notice any difference between plain-old stereo, 5.1, or 7.1 .. so you need..

.. as I have written and explained to Santa a few times now.

Okay, maybe you won’t need an ultra-deluxe get-up like the GigaWorks, but you will need a really high-quality set of headphones, or a multi-speaker + sub-woofer speaker set.. and you’ll need 7 normal + 1 sub-woofer to make an upgrade from 5.1 to 7.1 really pay off.

Perhaps, instead of a new sound card, you might consider, instead, a “gaming speaker” setup to take full advantage of the 5.1 you already have, like the Logitech G51 Surround set.

Today’s free link: for those who found my explanation of Dolby inadequate or confusing, click here for the Wikipedia page which describes “Hertz” and “bit rate” and “lossy” and junk like that much better than I did.

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

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March 11, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Real Life Review of Google’s New Browser

Google recently made news with its entry into the Web browser “war” — a direct challenge to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox.

Google’s browser is called “Chrome” (no, I don’t know why). It is still in Beta, but was released to the public early this month.


Needless to say, the “tech community” was a-buzz. Why would Google build a browser? Aren’t there enough of those? (Read Google’s answer here.)
It was fun to watch.. especially the conspiracy theorists.

But seriously, are you still searching for the perfect Web browser? Or, do you have your favorite ‘tweaked’ just right.. and it would take some kind of revolutionary quantum leap forward to get you to change? (I am one of the latter.)

I recently exchanged e-mails with a frequent reader of Tech–for Everyone, and the subject of Chrome came up. Since she is an excellent writer (check out her poker-oriented blog and computer savvy, I asked her for her opinion of, and experiences with, Chrome.

She has kindly agreed to allow me to share with you what she wrote.. a non-techie review: 
Chrome is definitely nicer than Firefox is some respects.  I certainly don’t have the Flash issues with it that I sometimes have with Firefox…

The interface is clean, but I prefer that my actual window space be maximized and the menus and toolbars to be as small as possible…

I realize this is still a Beta release so I hold out hope that the issues I had with it will be addressed prior to release. (Issues = nit picky quirks.)
Every time Chrome opens it opens in the same place and size: WHICH IS NOT THE PLACE AND SIZE I WANT IT TO BE. Even after I maneuver it into the spot I want and the size I want, it continues to open where it darn well pleases. A nuisance for sure but not necessarily a deal breaker.
Chrome must have and/or allow Add-ons: I LOVE my Delicious Toolbar, Woot Watcher, Abduction!, Adblock Plus, Colorful Tabs, Forecastfox, ScribeFire… you get the picture.  I assume Chrome won’t have any need for IE Tab.  Honestly, I could live without all of those BUT Delicious.  I have to have my Delicious.  I assume the Chrome will take Add-ons once it’s released.  I can’t see anyway they can compete with Firefox without add-ons.
• For something that is supposed to be so streamlined I find the title area to be pretty large compared to my compact theme for FF.  I think they could do a better job minimizing the browser and maximizing the viewable area. Since Chrome has no footer bar, it appears they have pretty comparable viewing areas..

Other than those quirks I found Chrome to be delightful (my emphasis). I would be inclined to give it a serious go as my default browser when it’s released.. provided I will have access to my Delicious bookmarks toolbar!

There’s a good chance I will use it before IE when I run into a Webpage that just won’t load right for me in FF.  I recently pulled up a page with video feeds from all over the areas being hit by the hurricane.  Firefox just didn’t want to load that page correctly while Chrome loaded it just fine. 
I will be giving Chrome another tryout once they release the full version, that’s for sure.  It definitely needs some work before it will replace Firefox as my default browser.

So there you have it– an average person’s (by that I mean, not a tech blogger’s) experience with Google’s new browser.

I don’t have anything to add. I welcome competition in the browser market. I am looking for serious improvements in security (and speed is nice too).
Who will win the “browser war”? You got me, but I’ve no doubt Chrome will prove a very serious contender.

Today’s free download(s): The new generation of Web browsers are here, and if you’re still using IE 6, well, please stop. Try a more secure and capable browser– such as:
* Microsoft’s (currently in Beta2).
* from Mozilla (first update released).
* Google’s (Beta).
* Apple’s .
* | | | | etc.

Bonus link(s): for an excellent advisory on general browser security, please read Drive-by Downlods–Update Your Browser Right Now! by Bill Mullins.
And for TWiT’s (Leo Laporte, Steve Gibson) podcast on Chrome’s security, click here.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 15, 2008 Posted by | Apple, browsers, computers, Firefox, IE 7, Internet, News, PC, software, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments