Tech – for Everyone

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

IE, Firefox, or Chrome – Which is best?* | Consumer as beta tester

I am frequently asked my opinion about web browsers: mainly, “which is best – Firefox or Chrome?” Yes, sometimes I am asked about IE or Opera too. Well.. what do you mean by “best”? And is your definition of “best” the same as mine? Fortunately, I don’t have to think too hard when I am asked, as web browsers all basically do the same thing –> show you websites.

I use Firefox as my “alternative” browser. And I have chosen it simply because of the many Add-ons available. If these “Add ons” were not available, I would not use Firefox. It’s that simple.

So, what Firefox Add-ons do I use? I’ll show you:


[addenda: I have recently added OptimizeGoogle (specifically to strip out the ads in Gmail) to my suite of defenses.]

With the exception of the Vimeo video capture-to-blog plug in, I would recommend this configuration. Why? Well, what do these things do? Look at them, and you’ll see that they are defenses – typically, blocking elements I do not want. And yes folks, your machine needs defenses on the Internet. (OK. The Java is not a defense. It’s a vulnerability.. see, Java, the new Adobe (+How To Protect Yourself).)

Adding Add-ons to Firefox is easy: click on the Tools menu, and then Add-ons. A window like the one pictured will open. In the upper left is the Get Add-ons button. Click it.
(If that seems like too many to you, I would say at a minimum you want NoScript, WOT, and Flashblock.)

*     *     *

Do you have a favorite TV show? Do you ever record movies?

I thought so. So I have a reading reco for you, a tutorial: How To Burn A Recorded TV Show in Windows Media Center

“Many people out there that have Windows Vista and Windows 7 based computers have never tapped into the Windows Media Center component that is right under their noses.”

* Orig post: 11/12/2010

Today’s reco’d read: Should we now expect to pay $500+ to be tablet beta-testers?

Tablet makers continue to fall short of the Apple iPad and roll out buggy and incomplete tablet devices, at prices of $500 or more, and I am getting tired of it. Aren’t you?Read More…

Today’s quote:Success is simply a matter of luck.  Ask any failure.”  ~ Earl Wilson

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

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July 6, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, Firefox, Google, how to, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Commercial Free TV*

Using Your PC to Record and Watch TV is “Good”. No Commercials Is Better!

I used the switch to digital TV broadcasting as my excuse to stop watching TV.

Why have I stopped? Because I reached a certain Maximum Threshold of Tolerance. And, I don’t want to risk a RSI, (repetitive-stress injury) ala “carpal tunnel”, from constantly reaching for the remote so I can hit the Mute, Skip, Pause, Die You Stinking Commercial, Die !!! buttons. Also, I despise “reality TV”. I don’t think I’m alone.

The usual method for defeating commercials is to record your desired program on a Betamax, VHS, TiVo, DVR, or Media Center PC, and then “fast forwarding” (skipping) over the commercial advertisements; which long ago failed to meet the most modest standards of taste and decorum. Or we purchase movies and watch those… a few trailers at the beginning we can tolerate.

There should be a better way, and there is.

Today’s free download: If you use Windows Media Center to record programs, there is a pure genius program, for which I would like to throw the author(s?) a parade, which will automatically strip the commercials out of your recordings. That’s right – remove. That results in smaller files, and more enjoyable entertainment.

Lifextender is a dead-simple commercial-removal application designed exclusively for Windows Vista Media Center users. There is ZERO configuration required, however, there are plenty of options if that’s your thing.

[note: Lifeextender is “donationware”, meaning you can “tip” the author any amount, if you so desire. I “tip” my geek hat, and that’s for sure!]

* Orig post: 6/17/09

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

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June 12, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, software | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Parental Monitoring And Cellular Phones

If you are a parent concerned about what your child is doing with their mobile phone– whether or not they’re talking to strangers, for example– you may want to keep reading. This topic was spawned by a question from such a parent.

And if you’re the kind of person who’s easily agitated about technology and the erosion of privacy, a Luddite, a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist, or anyone else who hasn’t quite come to terms with the modern age we’re living in– you might want to stop reading here.
You’ve been warned. I will not respond to your e-mail.

Regular readers (and tech-savvy people in general) know that your computer use at work is monitored. And you’ve probably heard of “spyware” and “keyloggers” that record what you type (my readers have, and that’s fer sher). And you know that GPS devices can pinpoint your location.shhh

And you know that cameras (usually hidden) are being installed everywhere– as a crime and terrorism preventative, and to stop red-light runners. Cities compete to have the highest percentage of camera coverage.

And you know that modern phones allow text messaging, the sending of photos and movies, and surfing the Internet. (They are becoming more like little laptops everyday.)

And you know that the Internet can be a dangerous place. Especially for kids.
(read Monitoring Your Teenager’s Internet Usage – Should You?)

And thus the parent’s dilemma. If you have a child, the day will come when they want a phone. I think that happens around the ages of 7-9, these days.
And being kids, they won’t want just any old phone, but they will want a “kewl” phone; one with all the bell’s and whistles. (Your hands are kind of tied on this.. nobody makes a “plain old cellphone” anymore. Haven’t for years.)

“But Mom, everybody’s got one!”

The answer, for you, may be to give your child a phone that allows you to see what they text and IM, control who their “contacts” are, and, maybe, even record their calls. It’s called “parental monitoring”, and the extent to which you use it is up to you.
[note: if reading that made your blood pressure go up a notch, refer now to the second paragraph.]

You don’t need to buy a special phone.. or even a new phone, to monitor your child’s activity.
* There is commercial software that can be installed on every type of phone– such as RADAR and MobileSpy. These can notify you in “real time” if a parameter you set is being broken. iPhone users can look at safe eyes.
[note: did your employer give you your cellphone? Think, people. Think. Let’s add two and two here.]

* There are USB dongles that read a phone’s SIM chip –even if your child’s erased their messages– for $50.

So, if you’re a concerned parent, you have several options that will allow you to find some middle ground. And if you’re a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist.. well, friend, it’s twice as bad as you dare to realize and it’s only going to get worse.

Today’s free link(s): Concerned parents who have a child reaching the driving age (and Big Brother Conspiracy Theorists) might read my article “What Your Car Is Saying About You.
Or you can give them a Guardian Angel cell phone which reports their location and speed..

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

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October 21, 2008 Posted by | advice, cellular, gadgets, hardware, how to, IM, Internet, iPhone, kids and the Internet, privacy, security, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Video + e-mail = v-mail*

Loyal Friends and True know that Tech–for Everyone is always on the cutting edge of technical innovation, and that I am a World Renown Tech Journalist whose fame springs from bringing you the latest in breaking IT news. (Ignore the man behind the curtain.)

It is my skill and extensive research (ahem) that allows me to be the first to inform you, Dear Reader, that e-mail, as we know it today, is utterly passe — completely old hat– and, like, so yesterday that it ‘gags me with a spoon’.

Yes my friends, e-mail is dead.
(And you heard it here first.)

Some of you are surely saying, “Why, Tech Paul! E-mail is the single greatest contribution to society that the IT Geek’s ever made! It enables commerce, and has facilitated ‘Globalization’! A couple billion e-mail messages are sent everyday! Dead? Surely you are mistaken!”
Right? You did say that?

It is true… it is very hard to picture a world without e-mail (I can envision a world without spam e-mail just fine, thank you very much) and it is impossible to deny that the ability to send electronic messages has radically altered the way we communicate with friends and family, conduct business, and.. share jokes. Yes, e-mail has had an incalculable impact on our lives.
Keywords: “has had”.

My extensive (ahem) research, and whetted-finger-held-aloft-to-the-Winds-of-Change , tells me (and now I’m telling you) that a New Thing has come along which is going to replace e-mail entirely.. and that is a little thing I have named “v-mail”. (With a little “v”. To those of you old enough to remember Victory Mail, I salute you.) The little “v” stands for “video”.

My Award-Winning* Nose for News has led me to uncover a service (which I am revealing as Today’s free link:) that allows us to send 30-second video clips of ourselves instead of boring -old letters and words and punctuations and stuff. No longer will we need emoticons and “smileys”. Avatars are doomed too. Video, my friends, trumps them all!

Why type “wink”, when you can just.. well.. wink?!

Bonus: Typos and outright misspellings will no longer embarrass us, and ruin careers! (Bad hair days are another story..)

As I mentioned in my recent article , at this stage in the game you really should (IMHO) have a webcam, and the odds are pretty good that, by now, you have added a microphone and used Skype or SightSpeed to make calls or video conference (aka “video chat”).
* With v-mail, you don’t have to worry about if your “buddies” are available at the moment.. you just create your message and send it.
* With v-mail, you don’t have to download any special software, or manage a “Contacts” list.. it is entirely browser-based (it uses Flash).
* With v-mail, you don’t have to pay any subscription fee.
* It is one-click simple. (And you don’t have to learn that “texting” lingo used in Instant Messaging/Chat.)
* It is not some new “beta” thing. It has actually been around for a while now, and it works like it should.

Now.. when you add all that up, doesn’t it spell the end of e-mail to you too?
Today’s free link: Get your v-mail at EyeJot (or, go there and take a look at their “how it works” examples). All you need to do is provide your first name and a valid e-mail account (doesn’t have to be one of your real accounts). This creates your eyejot account. Your microphone and webcam are automatically detected, and you can start recording your v-mail right away.
Folks.. don’t you want to be an early-adopter, nay, trendsetter, for once? Blow your kids away and be the first to send a v-mail.

* The prestigious Annie Award. (An award that I just made up, and named after a beloved family pet.)

Original post: 5/5/08

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

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July 11, 2008 Posted by | computers, e-mail, how to, Internet, PC, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments