Tech – for Everyone

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

Image Advertising – version 1.0

Web ads’ final frontier

I have been sitting on today’s topic for almost ten days now, because I have been giving myself time to “cool off”. (Because I cannot post an article here using the language I want to use, and say the things I want to say.) It all started with an article I came across in the business section of our ‘big city’ newspaper. It starts out,

“For years, advertisers have complained about “banner blindness,” Internet surfers’ tendency to browse sites without noticing the rectangular ads on the periphery of most Web pages. And most browsers excel at blocking the pop-up and “pop-under” ads that advertisers have relied on for more than a decade.”

And, like much of what you read in the rags, that’s partly true — advertisers have been complaining about p-ing away their dollars on Internet ads. But it is us, the “consumers”, who go to great lengths to block the [expletive deleted] *crud* from our screens (and buy a TiVo so we can ‘skip over’ broadcast ads). The reason I do not use Internet Explorer 9 is because there is no really effective way for me to block ads with it. (If some folks get their way, ad blocking software will become illegal.)

Banner ads don’t work, annoy (anger, even) the viewer, but, Man, being the freakin’ genius that he is — “For all the difficulties that companies face in reaching consumers on the Web, online advertising keeps growing. U.S. companies spent $26 billion on digital ads in 2010, 15 percent more than they did in 2009, according to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Yeah. It doesn’t work, so pour more money on it.
That’ll fix it.

Okay, so, there’s going to be a new kind of ad, ads placed in Web photos, and the hope is, this new type will work, and we’ll buy more stuff (Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!).

“Now some of the nation’s largest publishers are starting to sell ad space in what may be the final frontier of digital advertising: the trillions of images displayed across the Internet. If startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have their way, it will soon be commonplace to mouse over an image and find advertising, e-commerce or other information contained within them.”

Early versions of this exist.

“Mouse over an image of a denim shirt-clad Sean Penn on MSNBC.com and a pop-up image will suggest a similar, less expensive shirt. Click the image and you can buy the shirt.”

I simply cannot print my reaction to that sentence; but I will say, I do NOT want that “feature” on my Internet. And I will say that it gives hackers another way to attack your machine. I will further say that if I find a website doing this, I will take pains never to visit it again (MSNBC is now blacklisted). And companies that elect to advertise this way, I will take great pains to ensure I never purchase their product/service. (My rebellion.)

The entire article is here. I do suggest you put on your thinking cap and read it.

Related: Good-bye YouTube. Enjoy Your Ads.

Today’s free download: I don’t actually see all that many ads when I surf the Internet because I use ad-blocking software/tools. (Don’t worry all you businesses running ads, I never buy stuff because you ran an ad anyway. Usually I boycott you because I detest ads so much).
Firefox: I use the plug-ins (“Add ons”) AdBlock Plus, NoScript, OptimizeGoogle, and FlashBlock
Internet Explorer: I download and install SelectView

There are other products available for you to choose from, both free and for-pay.

I hope people wake up soon.. or this vile and ugly scene is our future..

hong-kong-advertising
Because some *people* think it works…

Think I’m ‘off base’?

For those of you who actually read down this far.. I will say that “tar and feather and run out of town” was the mildest phrase I chose not to print.
I guess this is a “pet peeve”..

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


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June 22, 2011 Posted by | Internet, News | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

How To Restore The Menu Bar In Vista And Windows 7

In older versions of Windows, the menu bar was always visible in Explorer. In Vista and Windows 7 the menu bar is now hidden by default, and you must press the ALT key to see it. These simple steps will cause it to always be visible.
(The “menu bar” gives you the familiar File | Edit | View |Tools | Help ‘drop down’ menus)

1) Launch Explorer by opening Computer (or Documents, or Pictures..), then press ALT to access the menu bar.

2) Click on Tools and then on Folder options.

3) In the Folder Options window, click on the View tab, and click to place a check in Always show menus.

menus

4) Click on Apply and then OK.

That’s it. You’re done. (Should you decide you prefer the “more screen real estate” no menu bar look, simply repeat the steps and un-check the box.)

Today’s quotable quote:Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile.” ~ Mary Beard

Today’s free download: (an “oldie but a goodie”) It has been a while since I have mentioned one of my fave little computer protection apps – WinPatrol.

Clean up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software. This program puts you back in control of your computer with no need for constant updates.
Download WinPatrol 20.5.2011 (Window XP, Vista, Windows 7 including x64 support)

Have a great weekend everybody!

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


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June 18, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Tips for Prevent Laptop-Related Injuries and Eye Strain*

Folks, a reader sent me an e-mail suggesting an article idea. I found that they had pretty well written out a whole article, so I asked permission to share it with you “as is”. Aplus Computer Aid has me jumping lately, so, here it is… (I particularly like #3..)

5 Tools to Prevent Laptop-Related Injuries and Eye Strain

The increased use of laptops has resulted in greater computer-related injuries. Ergonomics experts warn about laptop related injuries. Laptops are inherently non-ergonomic because keyboard and monitor are fixed together – if the keyboard is in a suitable position for the user, the screen is not and if the screen is optimal the keyboard isn’t. In addition, the portability of laptops makes it worse by allowing the user to use it anywhere in bed and on the floor in all kinds of incorrect postures under a poor lighting condition.

Users are more vulnerable to computer related injuries and health problems such as Repetitive Strain Injury, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, eye strain, blurred vision and back pain when they are using a laptop than a desktop computer. You may want to take additional safety precautions and tools when you’re using a laptop. The five following tools help you prevent injuries and enhance productivity while using a laptop.

1. Text-to-mp3 conversion tool. You can use text-to-mp3 software to convert long documents, emails and blog articles to mp3 files, which you can listen while resting eyes, commuting or doing chores. Here are some free online text to mp3 file converters. www.vozme.com (choose Female voice option for better sound quality). SpokenText offers both free online conversion and a Firefox plug-in at www.spokentext.net (requires a registration). Another alternative is Next2Go www.text2go.com (US$25)

2. Speech recognition. You can control the computer and browse the web or have your computer compose email or write a document with your voice instruction while resting your hands and even eyes. Windows Vista and 7 have built-in speech recognition function. www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuAH1WzVkEI&NR=1 (demo), and www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLj4k3x0E0E (demo)

3. Break reminder. Taking breaks are essential in computer-related injury prevention. You can try break reminder software for laptop, which is uniquely optimized for laptop users. www.lalarm.com/en/health_alarm.htm (free for personal use)

4. OLED (organic light emitting diode). OLED is an eye-friendly and paper-like display technology. OLED doesn’t have eye-annoying backlight like LCD does. Laptops equipped with OLED are coming soon- finally next year. Meantime, anti-glare filter can be used to reduce glare from the glossy laptop screen.

5. External keyboard and mouse. An external keyboard can fix the laptop inherent ergonomic problem. It would be even better if the keyboard is ergonomically designed.

References:

· “Is your laptop damaging your health?” ~ CNET

· “When Your Laptop Is a Big Pain in the Neck” ~ The Wall Street Journal

· “Computer-related injuries” ~ Victoria State government (Australia)

* Orig post: 11/30/09

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


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August 4, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How to Stay Anonymous Online

If you want to stay inconspicuous while online, here are some products, services, and best practices to put to use.

Some might say that the Internet was built on anonymity. Without it, the Internet might not have become what it is today—a place where free speech reigns supreme (maybe to a fault). However, as social networks prevail—and über-companies like Google do all they can to market to you more effectively—your privacy on the Web comes into question. The good news is that you can take back control of what others see and know of you online. Here’s how.

Folks, sometimes it is best to not “reinvent the wheel”, so today I am going to refer you to this very good article by Eric Griffith and published in PC Magazine. I personally think everyone who surfs the web should read it, but the truth is that many (most?) think privacy is a quaint, old-fashioned notion…
The article has 4 sections:

How to Stay Anonymous Online
Safe Surfing
Anonymous E-mail
Social (Network) Security

The article contains links to programs and tools you may be interested in.. if your privacy is a concern to you.

Related reading: How To Remove Your Name From Search Engines and Social Networking Sites


*** A Chance To Win A Powerful Prize! ***


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A: Yes.

Today’s free download: Software License Giveaway Drawing
Enter my current drawing, and (possibly) win a lifetime license!

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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May 12, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, privacy | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

I Answer A Common Question

Is antivirus “X” better than antivirus “Y”?

Both in my “real job” as a Support & Repair Tech, and as a World Renown Tech Blogger (Ahem), I am frequently asked about various programs folks can use to prevent computer infections, or clean up an infection up after “my teenage son/grandson downloaded something.” ¹

If I had a nickel for each of the times I have been asked “is antivirus “X” better than antivirus “Y”? ” and/or “which anti-spyware do you use, Paul?” it would have added up to a pretty nice pile of nickels.
Like.. maybe.. oh.. twenty gazillion dollars worth.

Identity Theft Yes. I get asked a lot. But I don’t mind and I don’t charge a nickel. Because there’s an organized, criminal enterprise bent on using the Internet to turn our PC’s into spam “bots” in a “botnet”, steal our personal information (“identities”), and are always hoping to hit the jackpot by recording a bank login and/or credit card number.

[Fact: Online crime is bigger than the global drugs trade. The Internet shadow economy is worth over $105 billion/year.  No country, no person, no business and no government is immune from Cybercrime.]

I hate repeating myself, so I refer the askers to Top 10 things you should do to your computer and Basic Steps For Protecting Your PC. But they come back with, “yeah, yeah, yeah, but I want your private and personal recommendations.”

So.. always give the same baseline answer — if you connect a Windows computer to the Internet you should have:
1) a firewall turned on (just one).
2) an up-to-date antivirus (just one).
3) One up-to-date anti-spyware with “active shielding” (heuristics)
4) One “passive”, up-to-date, anti-spyware that you run once a week to catch what the other one misses.
5) A healthy stock of “paranoid common sense”. (No. You did not just win the Irish E-mail Lottery.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I want your private and personal recommendations.

Well, folks, Okay. I will tell you about a tool I use that I haven’t mentioned here before. It is an anti-malware scanner that I use on the job, and on several of my own machines. And I install it on the PC’s of my friends and family. And, I’ll tell you why — it’s simple and it’s effective.

Typically, I install the free version to use as a “passive” scanner. On the job, I use it as one of my “go to” detect-and-remove tools. And to my clients and friends, and since prevention is better, I reco’ that they purchase the Professional version so they can have the real-time (“active”) protection and auto-scheduling — set it and forget it. (Another reason I do this is because this tool “plays very nicely with others”.)
This has been true for years.

The program I’m about to name will be (um.. should be) familiar to my geekier readers, but many folks have never heard of it — it’s called SUPERAntiSpyware (aka “SAS”). I  am not going to run through it’s details here (this post is already lengthy) but instead refer you to this Bill Mullins article, SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – The Name Says It All!

I also want to say that I admire the people behind SAS, and they get a big tip of my geek hat. They are hard working and generous and they know their stuff. Their motto is “Remove ALL the Spyware, NOT just the easy ones” and I like that attitude!SAS_shrtcut_icon

Tip of the day: The good folks there at SAS have generously donated five Professional licenses to me, “lifetime” licenses no less, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am going to do a random drawing from folks who “enter” by posting a comment (below). The drawing will be held early next week, so act now.
Simply click on “comment”, and enter a name and valid e-mail in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but multiple entries will result in disqualification.

Today’s free download: Why not get a jump on the game and download a trial version of SUPERAntiSpyware Professional today.. you just might get an “activation” as a winner. And if not, you can either purchase (if you do, I advise getting the lifetime upgrade) or it will revert to the free version. Check it out here.

¹ I use quotes, because, well, that sounds a bit like “the dog ate my homework” to a tech.

[update: The contest ends today (Sept. 10th) at 12 noon, Pacific. Winners will be posted at 5pm.]

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

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September 4, 2009 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, firewall, how to, Internet, PC, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Revitalize Your PC With Windows’ Utilities*

my last day of ‘vacation mode’…(sigh).

Computers get slower with age. And as we add programs and updates, sometimes little ‘quirks’ develop. The older our machines get and the more we use them, the worse these things become.

Largely, this is simply due to how our machines read and write the 1’s and 0’s to our hard drives, and various “clutter” that builds up. (But some of it is our fault. We humans are curious creatures and we like to install new programs and try them out, and then we just leave them there, unused…)

Windows gives us four tools – called “utilities” – to help us keep our hard drives clean, happy, and running smoothly (sometimes called “optimized”) which you might be unaware of, (or use often enough) as you have to right-click to find them. (Out of sight, out of mind, right?)

These are:
● Disk Cleanup Tool
● Error Checker
● Tool Defragmenter
● Backup

To get started, click on Start >Computer (or, “My Computer” in XP/older).
Comptr
Now right-click on the drive you want to “optimize” (usually, that will be “Local Disk (C:)”, but each drive [“volume”] will have this. C: is your main one), and a context menu will open — click on “Properties”.

gen tab

A new window will open to display the drive properties, and by default it will open to the “General” tab.

On this tab, we’re interested in the Disk Cleanup button. Disk Cleanup is a safe way to “take out the trash” and remove clutter from your disk.

My super-ultra-deluxe article on the in’s-and-out’s of this tool is here, More than you wanted to know about the Disk Cleanup Tool, but the short version is: click the buttons, answer “yes” and let it do its job. I recommend doing this once a week.

Now we dig down one layer, and this is hard work, so you might want to put on your gardening gloves, click on the next tab over.. the “Tools” tab.

———————————————————————

disk propts

Here you find the other three utilities buttons.

The top button is the Error Checking tool. Running this tool is a good way to eliminate those odd ‘glitches’. What it does is, it examines the physical surface of your hard drive looking for “potholes” and marks those areas as “bad” so that the computer won’t try to put your files there.

It also examines your file allocation table (FAT) and makes sure that all your internal roadsigns are pointing at the right streets. Um.. maybe a card-catalog-at-the-library analogy might work better — it makes sure all the index cards are in the proper order and all the Dewey Decimals are correct.
This tool is for use as a repair, and not a maintenance, so use it as needed and not on a schedule.

Next up is the defragmenter. I remind my readers to run this once a month, and to set an automation schedule for it (Vista and Win 7 already have that) in articles like, When was the last time you “defragged”?
Keeping your disk “defragged” is the best way to keep it running like when it was new. (Be sure to run Disk Cleanup tool before the defrag.)

The last — Backup — isn’t an optimizer or age-fighter, but it is probably the most important feature in Windows. I have written probably 30 different articles on just how important making backup copies of your files, photos, records, etc., is, and why you really, really, really want to do it. See How To Use Windows Backup Tool.

I don’t really know why — for all these years — Microsoft has not put these utilities right under our noses and in plain sight as separate entries under Start >Programs… But now that you know where they are, you can use them and get that PC of yours into a more “like new” performance state. Aka, “optimized”!

Today’s free link: Free Lifetime License for SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – 20 to Give Away

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

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July 30, 2009 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reader Questions Deleting

I have posted a few articles on “shredding” the files on your hard drive to truly delete them, (and making it safe to donate/dispose of your computer) as well as articles on how to recover accidentally deleted files.

Just last week I posted How to REALLY delete – or recover – a file. And How to recover your lost files has proven rather popular over time too. (Just to name a couple.)

Last night I received a question posted as a comment on last week’s article from a reader that basically asked, “is it REALLY possible for people to see files that I’ve deleted?
skeptical-face

A: Yes. It’s true. I didn’t make it up. Download Recuva and try it for yourself. Also, I commend you for using your intelligence to question what you see on the Internet. Just because someone has posted something does not make it true. Even if they have included a graph. Or a picture (see, Photoshopping).

I have a leprechaun in my pocket.

See?

Folks, Going to cut it short as I’m still in “vacation mode”. Hope you all are getting the chance to enjoy some of the nice summer weather. Please click the links for the prior article if you need a file shredder.

Today’s free link: Windows 7, Server 2008, Released to Manufacturers

Today’s free download: Recuva file recovery program (install it before you need it).

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

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July 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment