Tech – for Everyone

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

A Bargain For Some Games (and Music)

And A Word About “Flame”..

Folks, a helpful reader left a comment telling me about an “indie bundle” deal on (12) games and music you may want to be aware of. These types of deals let you set the price, and your contribution can help charity. [note: Steam is required for most of these..] I quote:

“Here is a Game sale and you give to charity. 5.99 for 12 games plus music…

Indie Gala V is LIVE ! – YouTube

“Gives fans of indie games and indie music a chance to save money on awesome games and albums and contribute to a good cause at the same time!

We believe that there is a close link between music, video games and comics.They are all forms of art that often complement each other. With our initiative we want to give many talented developers and artists the opportunity to have a wider audience.

IndieGala lets customers set their own price for high-quality indie games and music, then donate some or all of the proceeds to Able Gamers and Italian Red Cross for helping Emilia hit by earthquake.”

Web site: The Indie Gala

  • Making History: The Calm & the Storm (Steam key)
  • Beat Hazard (DRM free)
  • Razor 2: Hidden Skies (Steam)
  • Ironclads Collection includes all five games (Steam Key)
  • Space Empires 4 Deluxe (Steam)
  • Battle Mages (DRM free)
  • World Rally Championship Racing (DRM free)
  • Bad Rats: Rats Revenge (Steam)
  • Disciples II: Rise of the Elves (Steam)
  • Puzzle Kingdoms (Steam)
  • Ninja Blade (DRM free)
  • SBK: Superbike World Championship (DRM free)
  • With music tracks to be added later.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for sharing this with us!

Today’s reading reco: (I have been telling you,  for some years now, that {some of} the malware I encounter is military grade..)  Flame Malware: Cybergeddon or Old News?

Over the holiday weekend the online news networks were abuzz with news of a “massive cyber threat” variously called Flame, Flamer, or sKyWIper.” Read more..

(Irresponsible journalism creating hype [for ratings]??? Never happens. Learn the skinny. Click the link.)

(.. but, no. I have not seen Flame/Flamer/sKyWIper.. yet.)

Of possible interest: First time I have seen that.. $1 per Gigabyte.. on a solid-state (hard) drive. (Click here if you don’t believe me..)

Today’s Quotable Quote:Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.” ~ Humphry Davy

Copyright 2007-2012 © “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.

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Gaming, News, software, tech | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Make Your Music Play In iTunes (or other media player)

By default, when you click on a folder containing music, you will be prompted to use Windows Media Player — which perhaps you do not use, preferring iTunes, or Winamp, or some other. You can easily change this ‘default behavior’ to use your preferred media player by following these simple steps.

Click Start button > Control Panel, then Programs

Under Default Programs, click  Set Default Programs (or “Set your default programs”).


On the left-hand pane, scroll until you find the desired program (in my example “Media Player Classic”, but yours could/will be different.. say, iTunes.) Click on it to turn it blue (aka “select” it.)


Then click the big Set this program as default button. Then OK.

That’s it. iTunes (or, in my case Media Player Classic) will now be the player your computer thinks of when it sees music (media) files. Should you change your mind, or decide on another media player at some future date, you can simply repeat this process and choose Windows Media Player (or.. whatever one) again.

Note: This method is how you change other “Opens with” defaults as well — such as changing back to Internet Explorer as your default web browser after you’ve tried some other “alternative” browser.

Today’s quote:Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 20, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, digital music, how to, tech, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Changes Privacy Controls | More (Free) Streaming Music

Happy “hump day” to you, everyone. Not much time for writing today, but I wanted to share two items with you.

1) Facebook is a topic once again, as they are revamping how the Privacy (security) controls work. I think those of you who use Facebook should be aware of these changes — which hopefully will be improvements: please see, Facebook Rolling Out Security Update, Taking Page From Google+?

“Facebook on Tuesday introduced a number of new security features, some of which take a few pages from the Google+ playbook. Facebook said the changes will start rolling out in the next few days. When they do, Facebook will display a prompt that will walk you through the various updates.

Taken together, we hope these new tools make it easier to share with exactly who you want, and that the resulting experience is a lot clearer and a lot more fun,“. For more, see this slideshow, as well as PCMag’s  slideshow look at When Facebook Gets Creepy.”

2) A loyal reader wrote me privately after yesterday’s article on Spotify online streaming music service, and told me about a service they use (and I had not ever visited [aka “tried”].).

I’ve been going to Grooveshark to listen to songs of my choice free for a few years now. No download necessary, and it probably has as many or more songs as Spotify.

In my very quick look-see, I found that it has real AC/DC, and the Offspring songs I mentioned, and yes, they are right, it plays right in your web browser. I will be checking this out more thoroughly when time allows, but thank you, Dear Reader! (You know who you are.)

Today’s quotable:A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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


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August 24, 2011 Posted by | computers, digital music, Internet, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

A Quick Word About Torrents & DRM-free Music

I received a note from a reader that got me a bit hot under the collar for a moment. It was in regards to a comment I made in yesterday’s Internet radio article (see, Music Radio For Your Phone (or Blackberry)(or PC)) .. specifically, “no, I do not purchase tunes“.

The writer presumed that indicated that I am like everyone else in the free world (apparently) and used a “file sharing” program (commonly called “Torrents”) and they inquired as to which one I liked best and recommend… uTorrent? eDonkey? LimeWire?

My first thought was, clearly they are new to the site. My second was a realization that I have not mentioned this in some time now. Perhaps the time is right to say it again.

  • I cannot tell you the exact number of times, but I can tell you the percentage is quite high, that when I am called in to remove a “virus”, I will find a “file sharing program” installed on that machine. Cyber criminals like to plant trojans in files, and then “seed” the torrent sites with them. And they lose no sleep.. as you are trying to get something for nothing yourself.
  • “File sharing” is (in my mind, anyway) synonymous with “stealing”. I don’t steal.

So there you have it: it’s risky and “quasi-legal” (at best). I don’t do it. And anyone who asks me about torrents will get a copy of this article. (Can you guess? I do not recommend it?)

So where do I get my songs? (aka “today’s free download:”) Well, I “digitized” my records and tapes using a “Y” cable (to my stereo)($3) and the editing program Audacity (free).

“Audacity is an open source audio editor that is available for several platforms (including Windows, Mac, and Linux/Unix). It is one of the most popular free audio editors in use today mainly due to its excellent set of tools. As well being compatible with MP3, WAV, AIFF, and OGG file formats you can use Audacity to record live audio, and convert analog audio such as tapes.”

But if I had it to do over again, I would get a USB turntable.

Alternatively, I would use a legal music service. And, I would buy the DRM-free versions of the songs. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will point you to an article, titled: Buy Music Unfettered by Digital Rights Management

Competition is now wide open for these interoperable music files. Besides iTunes, millions of DRM-free files are available from Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, Zune, eMusic, and others. But each store has its own benefits and limitations: price, file quality, selection, and other quirks. Here’s how they all stack up in the DRM-free download world.”  Read more..

I know. 99% of you are LMAO-ing. What?! Buy music???!!!

Yes.

Pay for it if you want it. The fact that “everyone is doing it” (torrents/file “sharing”) does not make it right.

Related: How To Digitize Your Old (Analog) Movies, Music, and Photos

Today’s quote:Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~ J.C. Watts

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


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July 27, 2011 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, digital music, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Music Radio For Your Phone (or Blackberry)(or PC)

Loyal readers know that some time ago now, I acquired one of those new-fangled Android “smart” phones. And (they) probably saw my recent mention that I was giving the new (to the USA) Spotify online music service a tryout as well.

image source = engadget.com

By definition, smart phones are more than just phones – they are cameras (movie cameras, even) and, with Internet access, web surfers and music players and GPS navigators and more. They can be mini televisions, and we can watch Netflix.. etc., etc., etc..

I was hoping that Spotify would give my ‘droid added music “streaming” ability – and it would, if I sign up for a premium service level (otherwise, it is PC only). Currently, though, I am not enough of a ‘music person’ (too busy) to justify a monthly fee for music access for my phone, though I can say that my early perusals of Spotify’s “library” lead me to think music lovers will find it a true bargain..

Currently, I plug in my headphones, and use the ‘droid’s FM Radio feature and tune in my fave local stations; or play some songs that I have loaded onto my memory chip (no, I do not purchase tunes). I have the Pandora app, but have found I never use it.. but here are some free music alternatives for you smart phone/Blackberry/iPhone owners:
[note: these can be used on your PC as well.]

Pandora Radio
Pandora radio is the personalized internet radio service that helps you find new music based on your old and current favorites.

FlyCast
FlyCast is the mobile broadcast network that gives you what you really want – choice. Choose what you want from the best music in all genres, talk radio,

Slacker Personal Radio
Slacker Personal Radio is the easiest way to create free radio stations. Listen anywhere to free personalized Internet radio stations playing your favorite music.”

Spotify (currently “invite only”)(Go there and sign up to receive an invite..)

Also, I have heard raves about XM Radio (Sirius), which requires a subscription.

I am sure there are other music services out there in Internet Land, and I hope music lovers will write in with their faves/reco’s. What music apps do you use?

Today’s reading:
Netflix betting on subscriber fallout in Q3, everyone over it in Q4

Netflix posted solid Q2 earnings on Monday, but naturally, all of the attention was focused on the recent price hikes. Nevertheless, Netflix execs feel confident that all the complaining is just hype.Read more..

Great Instructional Videos to Learn the Basics of Windows 7

I am always on the hunt for instructional material for people that use their computers in their homes..Read more..

Today’s quote:Jumping for joy is good exercise.”  ~ Unknown

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


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July 26, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, Apple, digital music, gadgets, how to, Internet, iPhone, mobile, Portable Computing, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Shocking Free New Music Download (Friday Fun)*

I understand that many of you are looking at today’s title – Shocking Free New Music Download – and wondering if old techpaul hasn’t gone ’round the bend, jumped the rails, and lost all his marbles. Fear not. I am no crazier today than I was last week; and no, I did not bump my head.

The facts are these:
1) I have a website
2) Because of that, I want viewers (aka “eyeballs”, aka “hits”, aka “pageloads”, aka “clicks”)
3) Shocking free music downloads – NEW!

graphOkay. We have the facts, and they’re not unusual. Website owners want clicks and eyeballs — lots of them. There’s nothing shocking or particularly new in this. In the online world, your “success” (aka “ranking”) is based solely on these numbers (which anyone can view for free). Quality of content is irrelevant.

Oops! I omitted a fact:
4) Search engines send you the viewers (if you have “ranking”: catch-22.)
5) NEW! free shocking downloads music

In the online world, much like in RL, your website’s numbers reflect how popular you are and if you’re a website owner, you want MORE.

So site owners need to get the search engines (namely Google, though I have heard that there are indeed others) to notice you, and like you, and be your friend.

If you own a website and are serious about this, you will spend mucho dineros and hire an SEO (search engine optimization) expert — who will analyze your website looking for an elusive and very rare creature called “keywords“, which of course, will need “optimizing”.

Some words are “hot” and some are not.

It turns out that “tech”, “tips”, and “advice” — as search engine keywords — are not very.. well, they simply don’t get lots of clicks. (Yes. I have been aware of this for a long time…) Free, music, downloads, new and shocking are supposed to be HOT! HOT! HOT!
And the more I use them.. the more eyeballs/views/clicks I will get. Yay!

So now you understand today’s title. I am revamping this site with a new strategy, which should propel me to the top with shocking speed.

If this doesn’t work.. I’m told that “sex” and “video” are good keywords too… but the best is “porn”.

Today’s free link: If Your Bank Doesn’t Know Your Name – Maybe That’s A Clue The Email Is Fraud – Huh?

Today’s free download: tinySpell is a small utility that allows you to easily and quickly check and correct the spelling in any Windows application. tinySpell can watch your typing on the fly and alert you whenever it detects a misspelled word. It can also check the spelling of text that you copy to the clipboard.

* Orig post: 6/19/09

Free recommended reading: Stay safe online: 5 secrets every PC (and Mac) owner should know by Ed Bott

My #1 help question of 2011? It’s no contest: “How do I protect myself online?” In this post, I share the five steps I teach to friends, family members, and clients who want to avoid malware, scareware, phishing sites, and other online scams.

Quote for today – free!If you don’t run your own life, somebody else will.” ~ John Atkinson

Thank you for reading. Now .. go outside and play. I am going to sit here and watch all the new eyeballs come in. Can’t wait! I’m going to be popular!

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


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MRS.MIRI JONADA: Check your Inbox.

Shocking Free New Music Download

July 8, 2011 Posted by | blogging, Internet | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment