You no longer have to be an involuntary beta tester. Dr Dave guides you through the technology maze, separating the hype from technology that actually adds to the quality of your life.

The Best of Dr Dave's Weekly Radio Show

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Practical pain free case mod.

Why do computer manufacturers still put most of the connections on the back of the computer? With Sunbeamtech's 20-in-1 superior panel I don't care. It moves many of the connections to the more convenient front panel of your computer.

It's relatively easy to install. (Those of you who need help with lightbulb replacement, toothbrush battery replacement and such, may need help.) Works well, looks good and is very affordable.

It's available at NewEgg , ComputerGeeks and other on-line retailers for around 25.00. Great Christmas gift idea!

Dr Dave

Outrageous political posturing to protect the children.

House Bill Requires Even Personal Hotspots to Report Certain Activities or Face Massive Fine

As usual the politicos who haven't a clue how technology works have passed a bill to require ANYONE with a wi-fi system to report a VERY wide range of images that may be viewed or transmitted on that connection, or face huge fines. This may encourage many community and public wi-fi providers to shut them down rather than face the legal liability. All in the name of protecting the children.

Rather than research the full potential effects of the bill prior to passing it, the legislators have rushed it through on a technicality and made significant changes to the bill prior to public scrutiny. I am not against protecting the children. I have a couple myself that need protecting. But a bill like this allows for much subjective judgement by prosecutors as to what images should be reported, and what is required in the way of reporting to be in compliance with the law. We could end up with many wi-fi "Duke Lacrosse" cases as the result.

When will we learn?!

Lenovo - Notebook computers - ThinkPad

25% discount on selected Lenovo ThinkPads + XP!

I have been a big fan of IBM's Thinkpad line of notebook computers. I own some myself. But I have become much less enthusiastic about them since the Communist Chinese takeover of IBM's Notebook and Desktop business.

I still think these are among the best built and performing notebooks available. The availability of the XP Pro upgrade and a 25% discount is very compelling indeed.

Most americans have false sense of online security

Verizon study reveals huge gap in Americans sense of online security and reality

We continue to battle user ignorance about on-line safety and what that requires. Most of us find the whole topic daunting, troublesome and irritating.

Fortunately we have many free tools that work quite well, and I talk about the techniques required every week on ComputerTalk with Dave Mason. But I'll revisit this now, because the majority of 'Netters obviously still don't get it.

Software you MUST have installed AND updated:
Firewall sucha as ZoneAlarm, Comodo, or Kerio
Anti-virus like AVG or Avast
Ad and spyware scanners and removers. I recommend Ad Aware and Spybot.
Rootkit tool such as Panda Security's Pavark.
All of these tools are FREE!

  • Update your operating system consistently.
  • Keep all anti-virus and ad/spyware remover software updated as well.
  • Run manual scans for viruses and ad/spyware periodically.
  • Know what protection software is on your computer.
  • Use multiple tools and layers of protection
  • Utilize IDVault to protect your secure Internet access for things like Online banking and shopping.
  • Protect yourself with an umbrella service called Lifelock. If somehow you are compromised, it almost won't matter.

All of the best tools or protections can be compromised with careless behavior, so...
  • click on links included in emails. Manually type the correct URL in your browser yourself.
  • visit high risk sites like porn or warez (pirated software) sites.
  • ignore potential threats. If you think there might be a problem, check it out.
  • count on your children to do it.
  • count on your ISPs products or services to protect you.
  • assume the hardware or software vendors will accept any responsibility for any problem.

ISP services and software and built in Windows XP SP2 features are better than nothing, but I prefer the modular 3rd party software and services for the most robust efficient and nimble protection. You may also opt for comprehensive products like Windows OneCare or Norton 360, but these are often bulky, cranky and in the case of Microsofts product, just poor protection. If you insist on using one of these "all-in-one"products, select Kapersky's or ZoneAlarm's. Of course these are not free.

If you are unwilling or unable to stay on top of the details of your updates and protection, pay someone you trust to do it. Perhaps you could sign up for my new personal service, Dr Dave's Housecall, and you'll have the peace of mind knowing I'm doing it for you...

Dr Dave

Monday, November 19, 2007

Domodomain - Look who's clicking now!

New Tool Ensures That Online-Marketing Campaigns Actually Deliver

Domodomain has a new web stats tool that provides info on the domain that visitors originate from. Also included are a comprehensive suite of ad program management features that allow you to get a better grip on the effectiveness of your on-line ad efforts. Here's what Domodomain says:

"Domodomain 4 Ads is a new service specifically developed to help you get the most out of your online advertising. A new ad-centric user interface and specific ad related functionalities allow you to identify the companies clicking on your online ads, what “adwords” they are using to find you, etc. for better prospecting, lead generation and ad optimization. Soon also available as a plug-in to Salesforce."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Microsoft exec calls XP hack 'frightening' | CNET

6 year old vulnerability awareness is not news

British researcher discover Windows XP without any 3rd party protection software is vulnerable? Give me a break! EVERYBODY knows this, don't they?

I continue to be surprised on a weekly basis, no matter how often I talk about it, by the number of people who do not implement the basic protection required on XP PC's.

SO... here's the scoop, one more time:

MUST be installed:
Firewall - ZoneAlarm or Kerio among others (free)
Anti-virus AVG or AVAST (good and free) or Eset's Nod32 (best but not free)

Should be installed:
Anti-Malware (spy or adware) - Spybot, Ad Aware, HijackThis (all free)

Nice to have installed:
Anti-Rootkit - Panda Security's Anti-rootkit (free)

Must do:
Ongoing Windows OS updates
Ongoing protection software updates
Periodic manual virus and malware scans

These relatively cheap and simple things can protect you from the bad guys with a minimum of expense and heartache. Failure to do this will result in great heartache and probably great expense. It's very simple, not always easy, especially for newbies, but the alternative is untenable.

If you wait until you are compromised the number of potential tools and knowledge it takes to fix it goes off the scale.

Like the Fram guy used to say, pay me now or pay me later. You will eventually do these things. Hopefully you'll do it voluntarily before you get whacked!
Dr Dave

Monday, November 05, 2007

Official Google Blog: Where's my Gphone?

Google has announced new software and Alliance to support it that will power mobile devices from major manufacturers as soon as late 2008. Read on: The ridiculous hype and anticipation are over.

PC World - Fraudsters Spoof Chinese Government Site

It ain't ALL about the lead!

Chinese counterfeiters are learning to go to great lengths to LOOK like the real thing. Not just logos and style, but offices, business cards, government certification and even Government websites. Read it and understand this is not just one big wonderful world. They are killing innocent people.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Download details: Windows Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP SP2

Microsoft lossens up IE7 download requirements

In an unexpected move Microsoft is now allowing users to download Internet Explorer 7 without the irritation of Windows Genuine Advantage license checking.

Speculation is that Microsoft is concerned about IE7's adoption rate and the continuing adoption of alternative browsers like Firefox and Opera.

Says a lot about the users who are refusing to download IE7 because they either have pirated versions of XP or just don't like the hassle. I think it says more about Firefox and Opera than IE7. As good as it is, it's still a t least a year behind, especially when it comes to addins.

So all you evil software pirates out there, hurry up and download IE7 before Microsoft changes it's mind.
Dr Dave

Products - Antenna Products - In-Building Overview

Amazing solutions for VERY difficult "in building" wireless installs

Laird has a very good set of absolutely tiny "in building" wireless antennas, that can turn a nightmare install into another success story. Perhaps most importantly, a good looking success story. Their antennas are amazingly small and are even available hidden in Armstrong ceiling tile!

Concrete and steel are common construction materials in todays commercial buildings. These materials often play havoc with wireless signals and can greatly increase the cost of an otherwise simple wireless install. Lairds line of antennas makes even the most challenging architectural issues a piece of cake.

Dr Dave

iPhone and iPod touch v1.1.1 full jailbreak tested, confirmed! - Engadget

Customizers (hackers) get the best of Apple's 1.1.1 iPhone breaker

First, we need to stop calling customizers, hackers. The term is no longer accurate. "Hackers" has come to mean a destructive, even criminal technical modifier.Most hackers are just looking to improve the functionality of their hardware and software. Some hack just to see if it can be done. Its' more of an educational procedure for them. Most hackers are noncriminal modifiers that do us all a favor by finding out where improvements can be made and security holes exist in products that in many cases are not ready for prime time.

Second, Apple should apply a little of their non traditional "anti corporate" culture and embrace the non criminal hacking of their products. Turn a negative into a positive. Enlist the good guys that do it for the joy, to make your products better for everyone. Could it be any better? Maybe offer a reward for doing so.

Of course for some that would take the joy out of it. There's something about doing the forbidden that amps up the thrill factor. That used to be part of Apple's secret recipe.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

iPod Sets Man's Pants On Fire - News Story - WSB Atlanta

Now we have to deal with Palestinian iPods!

We're used to battery and a/c adapter problems, now it's seemed to ahve spread to iPod 's
Ridiculous. I think we're going to find out this was a hoax, or somehting is VERY strange about his Ipod. Perhaps it got wet...

Hulk PC mod smashes expectations, makes us green with envy - Engadget

Just the thing for male kids all ages

This is an incredible case mod. Looks easy to make, but these things always do.
Check it out...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

AT&T's rational Wimax plan

AT&T has what I believe is a more rational implementation plan than many of the WiMax evangelists. Instead of considering it a "3rd pipe" competitor to DSL and Cable, they are implementing it in a more practical way. Wimax will be an adjunct to DSL where DSL and fiber are to expensive or difficult to implement.

AT&T is gearing up for their WiMAX service launch in the second quarter of 2008, in just such a fashion. AT&T's Alascom subsidiary is offering WiMAX service in Juneau, Ak for $19.95 a month.

Of course their will be compelling proprietary services for businesses like long distance inter-facility communications, but these will likely be implemented by corporate personnel or 3rd party technical companies, not telecoms.

Dr Dave

Sprint Sets an Ambitious WiMax Agenda for Itself - Caller IP

It's Dejavu all over again

I was involved in a 3rd party fashion with the original rollout of Sprints Hybrid wireless Internet services in the late '90's. It was a bloody mess. At that time Sprint was still thinking purely as a voice telecom company and just didn't get ISP services and what it took to be a professional provider. It was a great idea in concept absolutely horribly executed. They stopped taking new subscribers, cleaned up the mess as best they could, and have been treading water ever since.

Now we have WiMax technology being adopted by Sprint with much hullabaloo. There's no question Sprint has grown into a much more intelligent provider, and WiMax certainly promises significantly better performance than the old Hybrid system. Unfortunately I think Sprint is still overselling what for many of us will be just one more wireless option. For many of us it will provide no benefit. Having said that, for those outside Cable or Telecom DSL service areas, it will be a lifesaver. But Sprint isn't concentrating it's rollout in those areas. It wants to reach the high population areas first, which makes sense, but isn't where the bulk of the customers reside. Understandable from a PR standpoint, but not good business in the long run. You must to where your customers are. Not just population.

We'll have to see how this works for Sprint. I think it's being over hyped big time. Reminds me of Bluetooth in 1998. How many years after that did you have a Bluetooth device that mattered to you? And how long after that before it worked?
Dr Dave

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

EBay admits to bad call on how much it paid to take over Skype - Times Online

EBay admits to bad call on how much it paid to take over Skype

Ebay had an "Internet Bubble" flashback when thay paid 2.6 billion for Skype in 2005. While there's no question Skype is a very promising company. But 2.6 Billion? Crazy!

Skype will be worth that one day. But not 2 years ago and not now. Maybe 1 to 1.5 Billion.

Fortunately Ebay has plenty of cash and can absorb the 900 million charge without much of a bump.
This reminds me of when Mark Cuban sold for 2.5 billion in 1999 or so. It wasn't worth a fraction of that, although very valuable. Try to find now. It's aliased to

Skype and Ebay is a good partnership, just some growing pains now.

Dr Dave

eBayyer » German court overturns eBay buyer conviction

German court overturns Ebay pricing ruling

Thank goodness, the German Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that a man should have known he was buying stolen goods on Ebay, based simply on the low price. I just stole, er, bought another great antique fountain pen from a free market Ebay'er.
Dr Dave

Techdirt: Stories Of iBricks Scaring Users Away From Apple Security Patches

Apples iPhone Policies and Mishandled Updates

Apple does such a tremendous job at designing and producing incredible products, but continues to make decisions that alienate it's most enthusiastic customers and proponents.

I understand Apples' concern for reliability of the iPhone and it's services. This is one of the fundamental historic benefits of Apple products. They control everything, so their products generally work better than those who allow for more customization and creativity by vendors and end users.

It's difficult to understand though, why iPhone customizers are upset with Apple now that their "customized" phones are dead. They knew how Apple operates, and that the recent 1.1.1 update would "brick" their phones. They are upset, but the responsibility is theirs.

I do beleive Apple should have a more reasonable and flexible policy for 3rd party software and services. It could enhance the iPhone greatly. But they don't. I think it's partially because Jobs is just a control freak. He happens to have a couple of good practical reasons to justify it, no matter how extreme.
In the words of former Redskins All Pro, John Riggins, "Come on Stevie boy, loosin' up baby". You can go to middle ground, have a VERY stringent testing requirement. Put the onus on developers and still control the quality of your product. You guys don't have the resources to develop all the features, software and services that your brilliant products produce demand for. You guys create markets. Don't kill 'em!
Dr Dave

Microsoft Says Excel 2007 Produces Math Errors -- Excel Error -- InformationWeek

Microsoft Excel 2007 Math Errors Multiply Microsoft's Troubles

Microsoft has been struggling with incredibly poor product releases for the last 12 months or so. At one time we were all in a hurry to get the Zune, XBox 360, Office 2007 and Vista. Seems silly now doesn't it? Microsoft continues to strike out on all phases of it's business. As I look back it seems to roughly correspond with Bill Gates' announcement to step down and out of the daily MS grind. Coincidence? I think not.

Microsoft has enough cash and market share to perform like this for years, but not forever. I hope that it's competitors can step up and do what MS has been unable to do for some time now. Apple has. Anyone else out there ready to step up? For years Microsoft took advantage of similar performance of their competitors and built themselves into a technology behemoth. Now the tables have turned, but I'm not sure anyone other than Apple is ready to jump on the opportunity.
Dr Dave

Microsoft To Extend Windows XP Sales As Vista Concerns Mount -- Microsoft Windows

Power to the People - Microsoft get the message!

Good to know that the consumer still has some power. It's easy to believe that a company like Microsoft just force feeds product to us, and to certain degree it's true. They can develop only a relatively few products that we either buy or not.

Many of us have chosen not to buy and that's got Microsoft attention. Vista is the worst version of Windows I can remember (and I remember them all). So many consumers have made the choice against Vista that Microsoft has been forced to continue sales of XP until summer 2008. Believe me, that was not Microsoft's original plan. Hooray for the free market! Our voices have been heard! And without government intervention!
Dr Dave

Now Qualcomm Is Under EC's Microscope

Slaying the Dragons of Market Inequity

We talked with Morgan Reed of the ACT about this very phenomenon on last weeks show. The DOJ and European Union are going after big companies that have innovated in the marketplace, and are forcing them to give their competitors that didn't innovate, their advantage. The slide down the slippery slope to multinational governmental control of markets continues.

The EC is angry because Qualcomm isn't giving competitors the same product for the same price as their customers. Da? This is called competition, guys! It's not Qualcomm's job to give their advantage away. What kind of Utopian lunacy is that.

The biggest challenge for the EC (European Commission) is going to be defining fair and quantifying the advantage. No matter, they will make an arbitrary decision and hammer Qualcomm to the unending joy of Nokia, Sony/Ericcson, Panasonic and the other tiny, defenseless innocent victims.

As a result, Qualcomm will have to raise it's prices to consumers, to make up for the competitors discount, and we'll all be better for it! Riiight!
Dr Dave

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Breaking in to large corporate and government network not as difficult as you might think.

Interview With A Convicted Hacker: Robert Moore Tells How He Broke Into Routers And Stole VoIP Services

It's amazing to me that really sophisticated technology companies and system administrators make the same old lazy errors the newbies do. I get irritated when my clients and listeners don't do what is necessary to secure themselves, their families and businesses, but many of the most high powered, high paid tech people don't do it either.

Have passwords. Make them long and difficult to crack. No dictionary words or pet names. Take the time and trouble to learn what you need to do, or hire someone you can trust to do it. Even when it seems like too much trouble. Or else!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Official Palm Blog: A Message to Palm Customers, Partners and Developers

The Official Palm Blog: A Message to Palm Customers, Partners and Developers

Palm CEO makes the tough decision on Foleo.

I'm not surprised by the decision made by Palms CEO. I am surprised that they went so far with the Foleo. It never was clear what the Foleo did besides make more for customers to buy and carry. I'm glad they will be able to concentrate on what makes Palm superior: practical usability performance and value.

Just as Apple hit a home run with the iPhone, Palm needs to promote it's interface superiority. They do not need to create a new market segment (Smartphone Mobile Companion? Come on!)

When was the last time you saw a Palm ad? Anywhere? For many potential customers the first time they hear about Palm, is at the phone store at the time of purchase. Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, Sony, these are companies that have name recognition and consumer market presence. Palm better build some for themselves, or no one will care about the Foleo or Foleo II or anything else that Palm creates. They could have gotten some real benefit out of that 10 million dollar write off on the Folio, by spending it on promoting their existing product line.

I'm a huge Palm fan, I hope they can do what's necessary to provide real excitement in th market and real productivity gains for the users of their next generation products.
Dr Dave

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why Windows Vista is not Ready for Prime Time

Windows Vista is one of Microsoft's biggest flops. Bob was silly, ME was unreliable, but Windows Vista may be irreparable. Here are a few of the lowlights:

1. The security improvements in Vista are not what they were hyped to be. User Access Control (UAC) is so intrusive that users simply deactivate it. So much for benefits of that feature. Jim Allchin (before he left Microsoft) actually said Vista is so secure that he didn't even have anti-virus software installed on his seven year old sons computer. He is either a fool or a liar. He couldn't possibly have believed that. Most of the additional security features in Vista are available as free downloads for XP. Nearly all are superior to their Vista built in equivalents.

2. There are about 10 or 12 or 15 different versions of Vista. All are overpriced and the low end versions don't offer as many features as XP Home. It's nearly impossible to figure out exactly which Vista version would be right for you. Microsoft went from a plan to integrate all Windows into one version, to breaking out Windows into too many confusing versions with no practical reason for the breakout other than profit maximization.

3. Vista is a resource hog on even high end computers. The fun GUI stuff that makes Vista neat looking, is being disabled by many users to speed things up. If you like the neat GUI look, just use XP and Stardock's Object Desktop Suite. Save time, money, computer resources and avoid all the bizarre baggage of Vista.

4. Vista is still having trouble with VPN's, network drag and drop copies, and even Microsoft's own product: IE7. Give me a break! You may be able to blame some of the hardware issues to poor drivers on the part of third party developers, but IE7 is Microsoft's own product, and they havn't been able to get that right.

More computer manufacturers are allowing buyers to "upgrade" Windows Vista to XP. If you can - do it. Off the shelf computers generally have Vista pre-installed and don't allow the no charge upgrade. In that case it is worth it to budget the purchase of Windows XP Pro and replace it as soon as you setup and install the computer.

I don't know if Vista is even fixable. So many of the problems seem to be fundamental to the design of the OS. I hope I am wrong. XP won't be around a whole lot longer, so users will eventually have no choice in the matter. It may take several Service Packs at best so lets hope Microsoft is taking some staff off the development of the new Windows to get this taken care of. On second thought, perhaps they need to allocate more staff to the new Windows to get it out sooner, rather than wasting time on service packs.

Whatever the solution, Microsoft needs to get it right soon. For the sake of the users, computer manufacturers, the software industry AND Microsoft.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Important webmaster security tool...

Until recently hijacked web sites have been relatively rare. Now bad guys are using web sites to spread malware to browsers without the webmaster or browser knowing it. This little tool makes it easier to check the links in your site for mal-"ability", if you know what I mean. Makes being a responsible webmaster much easier and less stressful. Price is right, too!
Dr Dave

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Free Powerpoint training video...

This is one of the finest Powerpoint training videos ever produced. So good in fact,that people who never use Powerpoint are just as likely to benefit from viewing it. Incredibly brief and effective. About 3 minutes...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Slinging Success to Streaming Sports

Traditional media companies are scared to death about Sling Media's agreement with the NHL to allow video clips to be shared on Sling's web site. New uses and distribution of media continue to complicate the traditional copyright and legal use landscape. I think the Slingbox is one o the more exciting pieces of hardware in the last few years. In a rare coup, the NHL is ahead of the game instead of behind or completely OUT of the game.