Tech – for Everyone

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

Consumer Electronics Show 2013

Unfortunately, nobody sponsored a free ride to ole’ Tech Paul to the CES 2013.. so to find out what the future of tech is going to look like, I turn to CNet.

CNET brings you complete CES 2013 coverage ~
Join us at the world’s largest tech show where CNET editors will scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech around!
With 90 people on the ground in Vegas, if it happens at CES, it’s happening on CNET. Our comprehensive CES special coverage brings you every moment of the show.CES 2013 features more than 3,000 tech companies from around the world unveiling the latest devices and services. From impressive-looking TVs to strange, bone-conducting headphones to giant robotic spiders, we’ve got it all here.
Visit CNET's CES coverage
CNET’s Next Big Thing: The Connected Revolution
CNET’s Next Big Thing SuperSession is one of the most popular events at CES, and in 2013, hear what big names in tech and business are saying about the post-mobile revolution.

Read more
Qualcomm’s keynote at 2013 CES
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs takes the stage to talk up the mobile revolution.

View video
Always On’s live torture test at CES
Want to see if the iPad can survive liquid nitrogen? Or how about dropping the Surface tablet from a ladder? Molly Wood and Brian Tong torture a slew of gadgets at CES 2013.

View video
Adriana Huffington showcases her new app
CNET’s Dan Farber interviews Huffington Post’s Ariana Huffington about her new app called GPS for the Soul, a heath app to combat stress and promote a healthy lifestyle.

View video
CNET’s Sharon Vaknin slays the Mondo Robot Spider
Check out EatArt’s 50-foot mechanical snake and watch Sharon take the reins on the Mondo robotic spider.

View video
Go from sweeps to swipes!
Don’t miss your chance to win* a Samsung Galaxy Tablet
Enter the CNET #Hashtag contest!
Find the “#” for a chance to win* a tablet!
*No purchase necessary. See official rules for details.Get started now!
LL Cool J drops in on the CNET stage at CES 2013
CNET’s Brian Tong interviews LL Cool J on his new Liquid MyConnect Studio App, a real-time music collaboration tool for a mobile device.

View video
The LG Smart Refrigerator know what you have, knows what you need
Donald Bell plays around with the LG Smart Refrigerator that will remind you that you need more beer.

View video
50 Cent comes back to CES 2013 with SMS Audio
Brian Tong talks to 50 Cent about the growth of SMS Audio and his favorite headphones.

View video

I hope there’s an item there (or two) that interests. (Maybe the Galaxy Tab Sweepstakes?)

Today’s quote:The obvious and fair solution to the housework problem is to let men do the housework for, say, the next six thousand years, to even things up. The trouble is that men, over the years, have developed an inflated notion of the importance of everything they do, so that before long they would turn housework into just as much of a charade as business is now. They would hire secretaries and buy computers and fly off to housework conferences in Bermuda, but they’d never clean anything.” ~ Dave Barry

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.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | computers, consumer electronics, gadgets, hardware, Internet, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Protecting Your Electronics*

TOPIC: The most overlooked ways of protecting your electronic devices. (I am a ‘computer guy’, so my emphasis is on ‘puters, but the advice here is applicable to all your electronic gear.. that new LCD TV, for instance.)

First Line Of Defense – The Powerstrip

hardhat areaYesterday, the hard drive on one of my testbed machines gave up the ghost and died: one machine down. Then last night we had a storm and some funny things happen to our electricity — all of my lights got really bright and then ‘poof’ darkness; then, quickly, about three times in a row, the power tried to come back on, but failed. A couple of minutes later, it was on and stayed on.. long enough to develop a false sense of relief. Then it was out for an hour. Basically, a “surge”, followed by “line recycling”…

Another of my machines was plugged into a cheap, old, powerstrip pstrip.jpgwhich did not react to the surge. So, that machine experienced the full roller-coaster ride of a surge in power, sudden outage, rebooting, outage, full reboot+full outage.. which, apparently, it didn’t like very much. Second machine down. 

Due to these things, and the fact that I simply cannot live without a computer, a trip to my local electronics store was my first act of the day– and because there is a moral to this story (actually, a couple of them) I will share with you my purchases:
Moral #1: the devices I had plugged into modern, rated, and “not cheap” powerstrips suffered no ill effects. (I had used the old powerstrip because it had happened to be handy.) There is a difference in the quality of powerstrips, and their protective abilities. I made a conscientious inventory and have replaced all my old powerstrips with ones specifically designed belkin.jpgand rated for sensitive electronics. (If you are in an area that has lightning [and who isn’t?] it is a good idea to protect your phone line and coaxial cable lines too.) Such as with this “media center” surge-protecting powerstrip from Belkin.

Moral #2: My machines attached to a UPS (aka “battery backup”) also were unaffected by the surge and recyclings. However, I never got around to attaching my DSL modem and router to a UPS, as they are somewhat distant from my work area. And so, while I was able to have a computer running, the network, and the Internet was unavailable. I remedied that as well.
[note: I wrote an article on Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), which you can read by clicking here.]

Moral #3: Hard drives do fail. Fortunately, replacing them is not a very difficult task. And restoring the first machine I mentioned was not all that difficult or time-consuming either.. in fact, I had a side-benefit as the new drive is quite a bit larger than the now-dead drive was.

But I must point out, I can make the statement I made (immediately above) because I had a full system backup stored on another drive. If I did not have that full backup, I would still be reinstalling programs and reconfiguring settings and updating my software and… well, anyone who’s done it can tell you, it’s a royal pain. So I remind you, again, that it is very important to make backups of your computer.. and to store those backups on two different storage media types.

If you do not have an automatic backup plan in place…


*** A Chance To Win A Valuable Prize! ***


The folks at Novosoft have generously donated 7 licenses for Handy Backup Standard to me, to award to my readers.

“Handy Backup is an easy-to-use backup software designed to perform automated backup of your computer. User-friendly interface and a rich set of backup features make it one of the best PC backup software for home and small office use.

To enter the drawing, please see: Software Giveaway: Handy Backup

Enter my current giveaway and (possibly) win!

* condensed from an article posted a couple years ago. The upgrades to my powerstrips and UPS devices has proved a wise investment over time.

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


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October 4, 2011 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, how to | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

More Tips on E-waste

If you have an Office Depot near you, they have a program I think you should know about.

If you are like most, you have drawers and/or closet shelves piled with old electronic gadgets, doodads, and whatnots, that you know should go to the recyclers. And you’re aware that electronics contain toxic chemicals and stuff, so you know it’ll probably cost you good money to get rid of it.
So that old gear sits and takes up space.

“Electronic waste, commonly known as “E-waste” is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s waste stream. Millions of tons of E-waste was dumped in landfills in the U.S., according to the EPA. How can you help? Office Depot launched a Tech Recycling Service in over 1,000 store locations in 2007, which gives customers the opportunity to recycle their old technology right at their local Office Depot store. Simply purchase a Tech Recycling box at your local store for a nominal fee, take it to your home or office and fill it with unlimited pieces of technology. Office Depot then works with a recycling partner to turn E-waste into reusable materials, such as glass, copper, plastic and aluminum.”


3 SIZES AVAILABLE
Small ($5):       8″H x 15″D x 18″W (Max Weight 20lbs.)
Medium ($10): 20″H x 16″D x 16″W (Max Weight 40lbs.)
Large ($15):    24″H x 18″D x 18″W (Max Weight 60lbs.)

ACCEPTABLE
* Monitors (CRTs + LCD)
* Fax Machines
* Desktop PCs
* Laptop PCs
* Printers/All-In-Ones
* Scanners
* Peripherals (e.g. Keyboards, mice, drives, etc.)
* Telephones
* Digital Cameras
* Video Cameras
* VCRs
* DVD Players
* MP3 Players
* Small Televisions
* Cords & Cables
NOT ACCEPTABLE
*  Cracked monitors
*  Electronics covered in
liquids / leaking
*  Refrigerators or other items
containing Freon
*  Appliances such as
toasters or kettles
*  Items containing
radioactive materials
*  Items that have, or may
have been contaminated
with chemicals
*  Liquids

I applaud Office  Depot for providing this service; and, naturally, I encourage folks to dispose of electronics safely and properly. (To take advantage full advantage, I reco buying a big box. $15 will get rid of a lot of that old junk. Sixty pounds worth!)

I also remind you that devices that may have data stored on them (aka “memory”), such as floppies, hard drives, cell phones, should have those memories “shredded” (aka “destroyed”). Please read, Delete does NOT erase your data*– preventing recovery and/or Reader Question Answered: Disposing of Floppies before you recycle (or otherwise dispose of old gear).

For more advice with tips for selling, or disposal, you can read my earlier articles. Just click here.

Bonus: These came in overnight.. what is wrong with people, man?! Is it contagious?

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


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April 11, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to, tech | , , , , | 2 Comments

Monday, Monday, Monday

I suppose I should start today’s by telling you that I will not be holding a software license giveaway this week.

Okay. Okay, okay – settle down (and please put down that rotten tomato). I understand your disappointment.

But the fact remains: both of the products I had lined up proved to be in need of some refinement before I will recommend them here. I do try to look out for you guys. So..

I know that many of my readers like my giveaways, so, instead, let me mention that my friend, and fellow tech blogger, Rick Robinette has found a “limited time” giveaway of a fine PC tune up (optimization) program that retails for $50. Not a contest or drawing, but a straight-up giveaway! Don’t delay. I checked just now and it was still up, but I don’t know how long this offer will last. To get yours see, Get WinUtilities Pro for FREE (while it lasts).


Mondays are great, aren’t they? Great things happen on Mondays. So, I can’t offer a contest today. I will “get over it”. Yesterday was my kind of day. It was 100° in the shade. Occasional light breezes. Almost no humidity. The kind of day that makes one think of swimming pools.

And when I think of swimming pools, I am reminded of a story.. which I posted here. It goes…

How To Rescue A Drowned Devicecellphone2

From time to time I do something stupid — like  stub my toe or knock over my coffee mug or blurt out a blaspheme in the general vicinity of women and small children.
On my better days, I sometimes do all three at once.

This Saturday I went swimming, and I had my cell phone in the pocket of my shorts. Like I said, stupid. To my credit, I noticed that sad fact quite quickly. But the damage had been done. The phone had suffered not just a spill, but total immersion–submersion–and it was wet. In my defense, it was over a hundred degrees. In the shade.

It is a simple and a natural fact that electronic devices and water don’t ‘play well together’. It would not in the least be unreasonable to assume that total immersion of an electronic device (such as my phone) would render it – to use a technical term – kaput.

Quick action on my part, good fortune, and the fact that I wasn’t using the phone underwater (it was “off”) combined, in this particular case, for a much happier result, and my phone seems to be no worse for its adventure. (The fact that my make and model phone is very low end probably, to my way of thinking, helped a bit too. It has always struck me that the more costly to replace something is, the more delicate and fragile it is. A cosmic law, perhaps?)

Tip of the day: Rescue your drowned device with quick action.
Should you be suddenly struck with a case of bad luck and/or fumble-fingers, and you spill your drink right onto your keyboard, or you find some other creative way to get liquid onto your digital device, all may not be lost. The quicker, and more effectively you do the following, the better your chances of saving your device from the recycler’s heap.

1) The first and most important thing is to turn it off and remove any power source. Shut it down, yank the cord, remove the battery, isolate the dilithium crystals! And do it fast. Some devices, such as those connected to your PC by USB cables, and keyboards, get some voltage through their connecting cable, so also remove any attached cords or cables. Turning it off is not enough. You need to open the cover and remove any batteries. Remember, it is not the moisture which will ruin your device, it’s “short circuits”, and those are an electrical phenomenon.

2) Get as much of the moisture out as quickly as possible. Pick it up and let gravity drain it as much as possible. You should have the battery cover off already, now open up the device as much as possible. If we’re talking about a laptop, remove any PCMCIA cards (PC cards), release and remove the optical drive, and turn it upside down and with a screwdriver remove any access panels — such as the one covering your RAM chips. If your model allows, release the spring-latches and remove the keypad.

If we’re talking about a cell phone or PDA or MP3 player, try “popping” its case with a flat-head screwdriver or large coin. If the Web is available on another nearby machine, go online and look at the manufacturer’s instructions for opening the device’s case. Now that it is opened as much as possible, gently blot with a paper towel, or whatever absorbent material is handy.

[Note: If the liquid you spilled is the kind that dries sticky, such as a soda, you have more work to do. If it’s available, use rubbing alcohol (the “purer” the better) and cotton swabs to clean it up as much as you can. If rubbing alcohol is not handy, use water. Yes, water. Distilled if possible.]

Removing the moisture is key: drain and blot what liquid you can see. When that’s done, rest assured that there is still more liquid lurking in your device. Now is when absorption and evaporation become our friend. Since it was a hundred degrees outside, I simply left my phone in the sun for several hours. If sunshine is not an option, you can try using a hairdryer set to low (this will take a while), or if you’re brave (and ready to stand by, and keep a close eye), place it in a conventional oven set no higher than 150 degrees (°C), for an hour. In the case of a PDA or phone, you can also carry it, wrapped in tissue or a hanky, close to your body in a pocket. Another trick is to place the device in a sealed plastic bag with a handful of uncooked rice. Replace the rice every couple of hours or so.

3) Regardless of the method used, I strongly advise you to not reassemble and power up your device until the following day. Give evaporation and/or absorption every chance.

If you are lucky, your device will power up and function just fine — good luck and how quickly you removed the power being the key contributors to your success. If, however, you power up and your device functions strangely, or not at all, you may be able to isolate and replace the malfunctioning component (if you’re an experienced troubleshooter type). Or you may want to take it in to your friendly neighborhood repair shop and have them do it.  Sometimes it is more cost-effective to simply replace the device — your particular situation will vary.

jaws movie poster[note: I re-post this article each year, and someone will inevitably write in a comment about the ocean and salt-water; informing me that salt-water is very conductive and this practically guarantees a ruined device. To them I say, “Ocean? Didn’t you see Jaws ?”]

Today’s free download: Super Mario Bros 3 : Mario Forever 4.4
Hearkening back to the heyday of Nintendo, this game faithfully reproduces the classic Super Mario Bros. Although Mario Forever’s graphics and sound aren’t identical to those of the original, they’re so close most users familiar with the game won’t be able to differentiate.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 28, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What to do when your device gets wet

AKA “When your cellphone goes for a swim”

Folks, talking with a friend the other day, I was reminded of the fact that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we spill our drinks … and sometimes we do that right onto our expensive electronic gadgets. So I am reposting one of my very first Tech–for Everyone articles which tells the steps you should take to (maybe) rescue it in case of a spill.

From time to time I do something stupid — like  stub my toe or knock my coffee mug over or blurt out a blaspheme in the general vicinity of women and small children. On my better days, I sometimes do all three at once. This Saturday I went swimming, and I had my cell phone in the pocket of my shorts. Like I said, stupid. To my credit, I noticed that sad fact quite quickly. But the damage had been done. The phone had suffered not just a spill, but total immersion–submersion–and it was wet. In my defense…it was over a hundred degrees. In the shade.

It is a simple and a natural fact that electronic devices and water (or coffee) don’t ‘play well together’. It would not in the least be unreasonable to assume that Total Immersion of an electronic device (such as my phone) would render it, to use a technical term, kaput. Quick action on my part, good fortune, and the fact that I wasn’t using the phone underwater (it was “off”) combined, in this particular case, for a much happier result, and my phone seems to be no worse for its adventure. [The fact that my make and model phone is very low end probably, to my way of thinking, helped a bit too. It has always struck me that the more costly to replace something is, the more delicate and fragile it is. A cosmic law, perhaps?]

Tip of the day: Rescue your drowned device with quick action.
Should you be suddenly struck with a case of bad luck and/or fumble-fingers, and you spill your drink right onto your keyboard, or you find some other creative way to get liquid onto your digital device, all may not be lost. The quicker, and more effectively you do the following, the better your chances of saving your device from the recycler’s heap.

1) The first and most important thing is to turn it off and remove any power source. Shut it down, yank the cord, remove the battery, isolate the dilithium crystals! And do it fast. Some devices, such as those connected to your PC by USB cables, and keyboards, get some voltage through their connecting cable, so also remove any attached cords or cables. Turning it off is not enough. You need to open the cover and remove any batteries. Remember, it is not the moisture which will ruin your device, it’s “short circuits”, and those are an electrical phenomenon.

2) Get as much of the moisture out as quickly as possible. Pick it up and let gravity drain it as much as possible. You should have the battery cover off already, now open up the device as much as possible. If we’re talking about a laptop, remove any PCMCIA cards (PC cards), release and remove the optical drive, and turn it upside down and with a screwdriver remove any access panels — such as the one covering your RAM chips. If your model allows, release the spring-latches and remove the keypad.
If we’re talking about a cellphone or PDA or MP3 player, try “popping” its case with a flat-head screwdriver. If the Web is available on another nearby machine, go online and look at the manufacturer’s instructions for opening the device’s case. Now that it is opened as much as possible, gently blot with a paper towel, or whatever absorbent material is handy.

[Note: If the liquid you spilled is the kind that dries sticky, you have more work to do. If it’s available, use rubbing alcohol (the “purer” the better) and cotton swabs to clean it up as much as you can. If rubbing alcohol is not handy, use water. Yes, water. Distilled if possible.]

Removing the moisture is key: drain and blot what liquid you can see. When that’s done, rest assured that there is still more liquid lurking in your device. Now is when absorption and evaporation become our friend. Since it was a hundred degrees outside, I simply left my phone in the sun for several hours. If sunshine is not an option, you can try using a hairdryer set to low (this will take a while), or if you’re brave (and ready to stand and keep a close eye), place it in a conventional oven set no higher than 150 degrees (65°C), for an hour. In the case of a PDA or phone, you can also carry it, wrapped in tissue or a hanky, close to your body in a pocket. Another trick is to place the device in a sealed plastic bag with a handful of uncooked rice. Replace the rice every couple of hours or so.

3) Regardless of the method used, I strongly advise you to not reassemble and power up your device until the following day. Give evaporation/absorption every chance.

If you are lucky, and have lived a “clean life”, your device will power up and function just fine — good luck and how quickly you removed the power being the key contributors to your success. If, however, you power up and your device functions strangely, or not at all, you may be able to isolate and replace the malfunctioning component (if you’re an experienced troubleshooter type). Or you may want to take it in to your friendly neighborhood repair shop and have them do it. Sometimes it is more cost-effective to simply replace the device; your particular sitbetterSimpsonuation will vary.

Today’s free link: Friday Fun! Burger King has put up a flash-based website that let’s  you upload a picture, and it will convert it to what it would look like if drawn byThe Simpsons animators. I uploaded my portrait, and here’s how Tech Paul would look…
The site is simpsonizeme.com

Today’s free download: As my faithful readers know, I am a big proponent of combating the modern plague of adware, spyware, and all sorts of malware. I have posted links for the better free versions of anti-spyware applications in the past. Sometimes though, it pays to invest in a “professional strength” application. The subscription-based anti-spyware application I use is the consistantly top-rated Webroot Spy Sweeper. I suggest you try-before-you-buy whenever possible, and to do that with Spy Sweeper, click here.

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

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April 10, 2009 Posted by | advice, gadgets, tech | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Wow…

Circuit City files for bankruptcy protection

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Circuit City Stores Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday heading into the busy holiday season as analysts question whether the nation’s second-biggest electronics retailer will be able to survive.

The company said it decided to file for bankruptcy protection because it was facing pressure from vendors who threatened to withhold products during the holiday period. The company also said it cut 700 more jobs at its headquarters, after announcing a week ago that it would close 20 percent of its stores and lay off thousands of workers…

November 10, 2008 Posted by | News, tech | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment