Tech – for Everyone

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

Gorilla Glass | Kewel Desktop Clock (with weather) | More

Several items have been brought to my attention recently, via reader comments and emails, which are worthy of your attention. First up, “gorilla glass”.

Are considering getting a new mobile device? One that might be dropped? Or kept in the same pocket/purse as your car keys (aka “where it might get scratched”)? Or perhaps, will be mostly in the care of a young person/child?
If so, you might want to make sure the gadget you’re considering has a screen made with “gorilla glass”.

Why do I want Corning® Gorilla® Glass on my devices?

“Scrapes, bumps, and drops are a fact of life, but Gorilla Glass enables your device to resist damage from the abuses that come with everyday use. Gorilla Glass also has strong aesthetic appeal. It’s thin, lightweight, and cool to the touch – enabling the sleekest designs.”

Clicking on the gorilla picture will take you to Corning’s gorilla glass FAQ page; and their list of vendors and products which use the tough screen glass is here. (I was pleased to discover my smart phone was listed..)

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Now that Winter is coming, keeping a “weather eye” on the forecast seems a bit more.. prudent. Having it displayed on your Desktop would make that easy. I am not a fan of “weatherbug” and some of the others (I view as adware and a resource hog.. but others, including CNET give it good reviews. You can see that, and download it here), and don’t really have any good alternative suggestion for a free app (or widget) except for maybe HTC Home.

I don’t think this will give you emergency warnings of impending tornadoes, but does give the basics in an attractive way.
I hope someone will leave a comment with their fave free ‘weather widget’..

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Learning By Video: Perhaps you might like to forward this to someone you know..

If so, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCSA7kKNu2Y&ob=av3e. (You’ll probably also want to send them Tip: Bcc Protects Private Email Addresses. Who know? Maybe.. you can FINALLY get through to them?)

Today’s free download: Are you a skim reader? It’s up above!

Today’s quote:The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” ~ Lily Tomlin

Have a good weekend, everybody! (And my thanks to those who wrote in.)

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


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November 5, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, cloud computing, computers, e-mail, Internet, mobile, shopping for | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Another Reader Question And Friday Fun

My McAfee About To Expire…

Q:Paul,
I want to thank you for all the good information on your website and I am hoping you can give me some advice. The McAfee on my new computer is due to expire and it is asking me to buy a subscription or I won’t be protected. Should I renew or should I get something else? I will be using this computer a lot and want the best protection. Thank you.
~ TB

A: TB,
In this day and age of Internet Insecurity, it is absolutely vital (IMHO) that any device that connects to the World Wide Web has antivirus: and, an “expired” antivirus is next to no antivirus. I have written much about Internet/PC security (and answered this question before). But the competition between the various vendors means that the answer to “who’s the best?” changes year to year… and I suspect you want my short answer. (And, currently, McAfee is not it.)

So, for Sept/Oct 2011 my General recommendations are:

[You may be interested to know, PC World magazine also has those first two as their top reco’s: see, Free vs. Fee: Free and Paid Antivirus Programs Compared

Can free antivirus software protect you? Or is it worth paying for a full-blown A/V app? We look at the benefits–and pitfalls–of free and paid antivirus products.]

Additionally: (Internet security is much more complex than bullet point answers!)

● I prefer to fine-tune my answers to the User: everybody is different, after all. To get your own “fine-tuned” recommendation, try Gizmo’s Freeware Security Wizard.

This Wizard has been designed to help you select the best free security software for your PC based on the version of Windows that you use, your technical computer skills and your general level of security risk (Read more…).”

Friday Fun:

Today’s quote:If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people?” ~ Unknown

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


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September 30, 2011 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, Internet | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Netflix For Android Phones – At Last

(And How To Add Netflix To Windows Media Center)

Good news for Android owners. Just this morning I discovered that the Netflix app was now available for my phone – yay! In fact, the description on the app’s Market blurb says it is now available for all Android 2.2 and 2.3 devices. (Available free from the Android Market.)

Bones - The Santa in the Slush

I have been waiting for that. (the iPhone has had the app for some time now, so it’s nice to ‘catch up’…)

In my very brief testing on my HTC MyTouch 4G, I had full access to my account (such as my que and history) and resumed watching an episode of Bones right where I had left off watching it on a TV.

I only had time to test it through my Wi Fi, but sound and video and ‘playback’ quality were excellent.

I have not had time to discover just how much more unproductive this will make me, or how much sleep I will lose (as I have been known to take the phone to bed with me and watch an episode of NCIS [on cbs.com..]) but I will report on that soon enough.

While Netflix can be viewed on your PC with your favorite web browser, I have found that I like using Windows Media Center for my viewing better. To get Netflix working with WMC, all you need is to install the plug-in.

1) Open Media Center, and use the down arrow to get to TV + Movies, then the left arrow to get to Netflix.

2) Clicking on that will start the plug-in’s installer (or, you can get it here). Silverlight is required.

3) Login to your Netflix account and..

you’re watching your Netflix streaming programs and movies with the easily remote-controlled WMC.

Today’s free download: Everything
Everything is a search engine for your computer that locates files and folders by name practically instantly. I hate to say, but it blows Windows Search away.. and there is a portable version, so you do not need to “install” Everything to benefit from it. Give it a try. Clean. Simple. Fast. Thorough.

Today’s reading reco: Life After Anonymous – Interview with a Former Hacker

“An interview with @SparkyBlaze, a self-identified former member of the rogue hacktivist group Anonymous, has been published by Jason Lackey. They asked what the hacker’s advice would be for companies that want to stay as secure as possible. The funny thing is that this is what any security expert worth their salt would say. Check out these 14 points and see how your own organization stacks up” Read more..

Today’s quotable quote:Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~ Francesca Reigler

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


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September 12, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, computers, digital Video, free software, how to, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Most Asked Question About My Smartphone – Typing

The question I am most frequently asked – when folks learn I have an Android smart phone – is “how is the typing?” (They ask that when tablets/iPads get mentioned, too.)

click to see how this image was made in photoshop (tutorial)

Sometimes, this question comes from Blackberry owners, or others whose phones have some kind of mini-keyboard (buttons). These folks are used to “texting” by “thumb-typing”, and some of them are .. um, leery of the “on screen” keyboard. With a “touchscreen” it is true, you do not get the tactile feedback that you do with buttons.

Other times, the person asking has managed to avoid the whole “smart phone” scene, but now that they have seen all the ads on TV for the new 4G world of Internet on your phone, and Androids and iPhones, now have a keener interest.

When I am asked, I tell them that I don’t “type” on my Android — I either talk to it (voice recognition) or “Swype” on it. People want to know if voice recognition, and touch screen typing work properly, or if it is buggy. In my experience with my HTC, running Android 2.2, I would have to say, yes, neither voice recognition nor Swype get it right all the time – 100% – no errors. But I am amazed at how infrequently I have to correct it. And I suspect each feature will only get better as they mature.

Instead of trying to explain what “swype-ing” is, I suggest watching this brief video. (It explains it better than I can.)

unrelated (fun): Been to Google yet today? Very cool mod to the homepage today.. to see it, click here.

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


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August 6, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, gadgets, Internet, iPhone, mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My First Look At Android, part 1

What?! No Netflix?!

Loyal friends of Tech – for Everyone will know that I generally write about Windows PC’s, specifically, and computers and the Internet, generally. (A ‘special theme’ here being cybercrime and Internet security.)

They will also know that I really have not talked about mobile devices: smart phones, like the iPhone; and tablets, like the Galaxy Tab and iPad. Except maybe to say that pedestrians and bicyclists who have their heads down, and are ‘texting’ instead of looking where they are going really ‘frosts my cookies’. (I won’t tell you what I think about drivers who text.. but maybe you can guess..)

click to see how this image was made in Photoshop (tutorial)

Well this past year, Apple’s iPad caused many folks to label 2010 as the “Year of the Tablet”. And this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was – surprise! – all about new tablets and smart mobile devices (the object formerly known as “cell phone”). And we are bent on moving to the “cloud computing” model. So.. my guess is these units are here to stay.

My exhausting and thorough, in-depth analysis and research (ahem) led me to believe that the main players of the operating systems for these ‘smart’ mobile devices are Apple, Android, RIM Blackberry, and Windows.. kinda in that order.

I won’t bore you with the reasons, but I am avidly not an “Apple guy”. I repair and support them at Aplus Computer Aid, sure. And I give the iPod, iPhone, and iPad due credit for being ‘revolutionary’, sure. (There are plenty of Apple-enthusiast websites out there already.) Short version: when it became time for me to go shopping, I tried really hard to avoid Apple.

I will come back to this subject, but for now, I only have time to say that I am currently putting through its paces an Android 4G smart phone that, it seems to me, has all the bells and whistles. Here are some of my initial impressions of Android. Quickly:

My first “pros”:
* Lots of free “apps” and kewel ‘widgets’.
* Intuitive. Snappy. Easy. (Haven’t had to look at the manual yet.)
* Seems to do everything, and .. if it doesn’t, quick as a blink, I can download “an app for that”.

My first “cons”:
*
For my getting-older eyes, I think I want a larger screen than the smart phones have.. perhaps a 7″ tablet. Unfortunately, my understanding is, the ‘phone tablets’ are not available in the US.
* Netflix ‘streaming’ is not available for Android
(iDevices and Windows 7 Mobile only).

That last was, you may be surprised to learn, a fairly big disappointment to yours truly. I put in a call to Netflix, and was told that I am not the only person on Earth who wants a Netflix app. I was told that because of the difference in the nature of Android, and because of DRM issues, Netflix has work to do, and cannot release a single app, but has in the pipeline – and coming “very soon” – device specific apps. The more popular your phone, the sooner you will get an app.. is the way it sounds to me.

However.. this fact does make the iPhone appear more attractive. At least to Netflix users.

To read Part 2, click here.
And also, Android Adventures – Part 3

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


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February 14, 2011 Posted by | Android, Apple, cellular, computers, gadgets, hardware, Internet, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Free Phone Calls by Google Voice: What’s Next?

Today I opened my Gmail account and was informed that I could make free phone calls to the US and Canada.

Gmail

Now.. I sometimes joke that today the two Superpowers are no longer the US and the USSR, but Google and China; but is Google really going to put an end to Ma Bell by making my phone calls free???

Naturally, I clicked on “Learn more”!

Gmail2

Okay. So this is Google Chat. And it says I can “call anywhere”. Free in 2010. So that must mean I can call landlines — which I pay for with Skype. (And since they say “2010”, I assume there will be a fee starting in 2011..)

“How does this work?
You can now place calls to landline and mobile phones from within Gmail. Just dial any phone number and you’ll be connected. Learn more.”

Yup. Install Google Voice, and you can call landlines, free (US & CA) for the remainder of 2010. And – like Skype – it has video too.

Related:
* Call phones from Gmail – Official Gmail Blog
* Google Voice is added to Gmail; Boosts exposure but still falls short in other areas

… I wonder why I am getting a little uncomfortable with Google..?


In other news: The September/October issue of Foreign Affairs is now available online and within its virtual pages is one of the most important cyberwar articles in modern history.

Our nation faces risks far greater than a rogue flash drive: Failure to properly safeguard our consumer and industry systems; unwillingness to invest in ongoing security; and ordinary computer users playing with digital weapons of mass destruction.”

For more, see: Inside look at Pentagon’s cyberdefense strategy: The battlefield beyond bad flash drives

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


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<a href=”http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/call-phones-from-gmail.html”>Call phones from Gmail – Official Gmail Blog</a>

August 26, 2010 Posted by | computers, free software, Google, IM, News, tech, VoIP | , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

What is Mobsync?

What is Mobsync and how do you disable it?

One of the most popular topics here has been how to make Vista boot up faster. And one of the ways you do that is by controlling what programs automatically load at startup. (See, Manage Startup programs in Vista.)

mobsync iconReaders of that article have been sending me questions about a program they have found running (by using Task Manager [Ctrl+Alt+Del]) which they cannot find any startup entries for.. and thus no way to ‘turn it off’. That program is called “mobsync.exe.”

Mobsync is a small program – called a “Service” – which is used for removable mass-storage devices, like thumb drives. Mobsync.exe enables applications such as Windows Media Player and Image Import Wizard to transfer and synchronize content with your removable storage devices. It is found in your Control Panel, and most people use it for “syncing” their address books and calendars on their mobile phones/PDA’s.

Tip of the day: Follow the simple steps below to stop mobsync from running at startup, and set this service to run manually. Then it will only be used when you actually sync devices on your PC or Laptop.

1. Open Run (Start > Run, or Start > Programs > Accessories > Run) and type in “services.msc” (no quotes), and hit Enter.
2. The Services window will open. Now scroll down the page until you locate a service called Portable Device Enumerator Service, then double click on it.
3. Click on the Stop button, then click on OK.
4. In the General” tab: use the drop-down arrow to change the “Startup Type” to Manual. Then click on OK.
5. If prompted by UAC, select Continue.

In conclusion: mobsync is not a real “resource hog”, and leaving it be won’t hurt anything. Switching it from “always on” to “as needed”, by itself, will not drastically reduce how long it takes to start up your computer, or make your e-mail Inbox ‘load’ faster.
On the other hand, there’s no real reason for this to be running all the time except for the fact someone at Microsoft thought it should. Much like you don’t need Adobe Reader running except for when you need to open a PDF file, but the Adobe folks think you’ll like the “instant response” having it running will give you. To really get at the items slowing down your boot up time, I refer you to the article listed above. (This is more of a “control thing”.. a minor “tweak”.)

A word of caution: Some of you may get the urge – while in the Services window – to start turning off other Services. Don’t. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you can really mess things up, and either “kill” Windows altogether, or get some really strange (and unsatisfactory) results. This article may help you understand, and I recommend reading it before clicking on any other drop-down arrows.. Holiday Edition: What programs should be in Task Manager?

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 18, 2010 Posted by | computers, PC, performance, tweaks, Vista | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment