Tech – for Everyone

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

A Quickie…

Folks,
Crazy busy here, and time has not allowed me my regular posting. Today, I only have a moment, and will add something in relation to Monday’s article on Firefox 6, as it seems that (once again) I am not alone:

“… In other news, Mozilla, maker of the popular Firefox browser, found itself in the unfavorable position of having to defend its rapid-release program. With the new six-week release schedule causing some corporate indigestion, Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker issued a statement on why she believes the pros outweigh the cons. You can read her argument here.”

What do you think? Are you a fan of the new release cycle?

Hope I can get back on track soon, and I thank you for your patience.

Today’s quote:It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterwards.” ~ Baltasar Gracian

August 31, 2011 Posted by | computers | , , , | 3 Comments

Firefox 6 Reviewed, iPhone Tips, Facebook, Chatter, And More

Loyal readers know that I use Mozilla’s Firefox as my web browser. And they know I have chosen it simply because of the many Add-ons available – mainly Internet Safety (privacy and security) tools. If these “Add ons” were not available, I would not use Firefox. It’s that simple. (To see my choice of Firefox security add-ons, click here.)

What they may not know is, like many people, I got really turned off by Firefox’s new policy of a rapid release cycle and constant updates and ‘upgrades’ to new versions. And, I did not like the “minimalist look” of version 4, which is a direct rip-off of Google’s Chrome browser (if I wanted Chrome, I would have installed Chrome. Duh.)

Every time I turned around, Firefox wanted to update.. and, in fact, since I wrote Firefox 3, or 4 (or 5)? + Turn Off the “Upgrade” Nag back in May, they are now up to version 6. Let you in on a secret: I am still using version 3.

Yesterday, though, I read a detailed review by FOTIS-winning Seth Rosenblatt of version 6, which most Firefox users (if they agreed to the upgrades) already have. This has me rethinking, particularly what he said about Firefox 6 on Android, and I will be putting it to the test this week. In the meantime, you can read his review and analysis of the latest release here, (Find out why it earns 5 stars..) and if you already have it, learn some new features.

5 awesome Mozilla Firefox secrets (photos)

Firefox is packed with useful, built-in features you might have missed. Customize Firefox with these five helpful tips. View images

Further Brain Food:

Salesforce abuzz over social networking software

“Metallica playing a trade show? It’s the kind of deliciously strange bit of news a person might share on Facebook – but Salesforce.com would rather see it posted on Chatter.Read more..
(Never heard of Chatter? Me neither. Read the article.)

The complete list of Windows Logo keyboard shortcuts

The Windows Logo key can be a powerful tool if you know the right shortcuts.Read more..

10 wacky IT office pranks

An office without practical jokes would be a mighty dull place to work. Luckily, legions of IT pranksters have kept things lively over the years.Read more..

• Tips and tricks to improve your iPhone experience

A few simple tricks can make a big difference in how well your iPhone serves your needs. Calvin Sun shares some basic tips he’s discovered.Read more..

Can you tell a real Facebook e-mail from a phishing attempt?

Notification e-mails from social networking sites like Facebook can be dangerous; if you’re fooled by a phisher, you can click your way into big trouble.Read more..

• Recently, Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple. I wrote about that (see my Steve Jobs Steps Down, if you missed it) the day after. Since then, many more articles have been published, and the speculation continues. Probably the best of these I saw is Without Jobs as CEO, five reasons Apple won’t be the same

Lots of people are talking about why Apple will continue its momentum even without Steve Jobs as CEO. Here’s the counterpoint.Read more..

Related: Only one minor, teensy-weensy, little problem.. 

I never joined Facebook..!

Yeah. It’s Monday again… yippee.

Today’s quotable quote:Make somebody happy today. Mind your own business.” ~ Ann Landers

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. <<


August 29, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, Apple, browsers, computers, Firefox, Internet, iPhone, mobile, privacy, security, social networking, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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.


>> 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. <<


August 23, 2011 Posted by | Android, cloud computing, computers, digital music, Internet, iPhone, software | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Backup4all License Giveaway Drawing

Folks, I am pleased to announce my latest software license giveaway drawing.

The folks at Softland have generously donated ten licenses for Backup4all Professional to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am going to do a random drawing¹ contest from those who “enter” by posting a comment (below). The drawing will close Thursday, August 18th, and the winners announced Friday.

Backup4all is a program for creating “backup copies” of the files on your computer, which regular readers know, is something I repeatedly urge people to get into the habit of doing! With a backup program like Backup4all, you don’t need a ‘habit’, you can set-it-and-forget-it. Below, I will give you my impressions and some screenshots, but first…

Backup4all Review by Softpedia
Backup4all Featured in Lockergnome

Publisher’s description:

Backup4all is an award-winning data backup software for Windows. This backup utility was designed to protect your valuable data from partial or total loss by automating backup tasks, password protecting and compressing it to save storage space. This backup application is feature rich and offers an intuitive interface making all features easily accessible for both beginners and professionals.

Here is a “slideshow” of screenshots of Backup4all Professional. For this series, I show setting it to do a basic backup to CD/DVD discs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You may remember Softland from last week’s review/giveaway, and I can (again) say that my main comment on this product is it delivers what it advertises, and (again) I can say I largely agreed with all the (consistently positive) reviews I read (such as the two above). However I found one point of disagreement: I do not think the interface is all that “intuitive”, and I suspect the “average computer user” would not get the lead-me-by-the-hand experience they often need (my guess is they would stop at slide 6 of the slide show..). I was told that Softland is working on an improved wizard..
And they do offer a video How To guide, as well as illustrated online help files, so learning is easy.

So, this is my ‘prejudice’ but, my recommendation for this valuable tool is reserved for Intermediate to Advanced computer users and/or folks willing to learn the simple steps. If you have ever used a backup program where you had to create the backup set, and set a schedule, then you will have no troubles doing the Backup4all configuration (and you will appreciate the full feature set). Nice thing is, once you get it set, you can pretty much forget it.

Literally, the list of features is too long to fit on this page. So here is the link: click here. (I like the fact files are saved as ZIP’s.) Even more are available as “plug ins”. The default plug-ins are shown in the first slide; and, in the 3rd, I have added one for MSN Messenger (chat). Again, the list of plug-ins is too long to post here.. so here is the link: click here.

I should not have to tell you how important having a backup copy of your digital stuff is. It should be self-evident and obvious. Anyone who has lost documents and images due to a hard drive dying (and yes, Virginia, hard drives die) will tell you how they wished they had gotten around to making copies. (Often.. in tears..) Don’t be sorry. Make backups. (Yeah. Yeah. I’ll get to it tomorrow.)

Backup4all is compatible with Windows 7/Vista/2008 Server/XP/2003 Server/2000 and requires approximately 50MB of free disk space.

(There are also “Lite”,  “Standard”, and “Portable” editions available. “Professional” is the top of the line, and retails for $50. A comparison of the editions is here.)

How to enter? Residents of the US and Canada only may enter the contest drawing by simply clicking on “comment” (below), and entering a name and a valid e-mail (so I can send you a license key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but multiple entries will result in disqualification. (In this contest. Entry in prior contests doesn’t count against you.)

¹ All entrants will be placed into Random.org’s “list randomizer”, and the top 10 results will be the winners. A 30-day trial of Backup4all Professional can be downloaded here, Free 30-day trial. Try it out yourself. (And then leave a comment. You may just win one of these valuable prizes!)

Again, my thanks to the folks at Softland for making this Giveaway possible!

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. <<


August 15, 2011 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, PC, software, tech | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Software Giveaway – novaPDF Professional

Folks, I Am Pleased to Announce My Latest Software License Giveaway Drawing.

The folks at Softland have generously donated 10 licenses for novaPDF Professional to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am going to do a random drawing ¹ contest from those who “enter”. The contest will close at midnight (Pacific) Thursday, August 11th, and the winners announced Friday.

I am going to start this out by telling you that main thing I want to say about this software is – it delivers what it advertises (and merits the word “Pro”). At $50 retail, novaPDF will convert your document files into PDF format without making your wallet cry OUCH! (like Adobe’s product can..).

I have to also say that I agree with the reviews shown immediately below (the first is quite comprehensive). And that I am a fan of the “mail to” (email) and document security features. (A full list of features is available here. [It is too lengthy to post.]) I found the integration with Office 2010, and also Office 2003 – done during initial install – produced flawless output (on Vista and XP machines, respectively).

novaPDF Reviewed by Softpedia
Read review..
novaPDF Review by MajorGeeks
Read review..
novaPDF Featured in Lockergnome
Read review..

From the publisher:

“novaPDF is a PDF creator for Windows that allows you to easily create PDF files (searchable and optionally PDF/A compliant). With novaPDF, everyone from novice users to professionals can create high-quality documents in industry-standard PDF format, by simply selecting the “Print” command from virtually any application.

Once installed, this PDF creator lets you: add PDF bookmarks, insert active PDF links, use it as shared network PDF printer, create public/private printing profiles, add PDF watermarks, reduce PDF file size, password protect PDF files, overlay and/or merge PDF files, convert to PDF any printable document and much more.”

One of my ‘competitors’, SpyOnTech.com, posted this video demonstration of novaPDF Pro on YouTube. (Their review is here.) They are showing available features.. you do not need to do that much clicking to use novaPDF! (In fact, I set my preferences, and haven’t gone back.)

novaPDF works quickly, and produces crisp (“sharp”), small (“compact”), PDF files. NovaPDF Professional includes the features businesses expect, and is affordable enough for the average consumer. The PDF (format) was suppose to create a “paperless society”; which hasn’t quite happened yet. With novaPDF you can take big strides in that direction.
(There are also “Lite” and “Standard” editions available. “Professional” is the top of the line. A comaprison of the editions is Here.)

How to enter? Residents of the US and Canada only may enter the contest drawing by simply clicking on “comment” (below), and entering a name and a valid e-mail (so I can send you a license key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but multiple entries will result in disqualification. (In this contest. Entry in prior contests doesn’t count against you.)

¹ All entrants will be placed into Random.org’s “list randomizer”, and the top 10 results will be the winners. A 30-day trial of novaPDF Professional Desktop can be downloaded here, Free 30-day trial. Try it out yourself. (And then leave a comment. You may just win one of these valuable prizes!)

Again, my thanks to the folks at Softland for making this Giveaway possible!

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. <<


August 8, 2011 Posted by | computers, free software, performance, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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

Spyware Doctor Winners

It brings me great pleasure to be able to give away licenses for the award-winning and highly-rated Spyware Doctor with Antivirus 2011 from PC Tools. This is a product I trust to protect my own mother from trojans, viruses, and the nasty and dangerous mess that criminals have made of today’s Internet. I sincerely thank PC Tools for making this contest possible.

Editor’s Choice Antivirus and Antispyware in One
Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus combines two powerful engines to detect and remove unknown threats faster.

  • Antivirus guards against malicious PC threats.
  • Antispyware prevents information and identity theft.

It defends your computer against malware attacks with multiple layers of protection using proactive, reactive and automatic anti spyware antivirus software protection to stop threats at every entry point. Now includes memory scanning, behavior profiling, and report cards to provide up-to-date protection and status monitoring for your PC.

For those who might have missed it, my more complete write up of SDAV 2011 is here.

The 10 lucky winners are: (drumroll please..)

(Winners: PC Tools will build your license and send it to you at the email address you provided. I understand this may take a little time..)

Congratulations to the winners, and my thanks to all who participated! Have a great weekend everybody.

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 3, 2011 Posted by | advice | , , , , , | 12 Comments