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Sunday, March 22, 2009

SyncToy v2.0

Download details: SyncToy v2.0

Great sync and back up tool from Microsoft. Flexible fast and reliable. Sometimes overlooked because of it's simplicity and the fact that it's been a round for years. If you don't have it, give it a try you'll find it invaluable.

MoTwit for Palm OS (en) » MoTwit for Palm OS (en)

Download this mobile Palm Twitter app so you can continue to Twitter your life away, even while driving, or in meetings.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Worm Author Escalates Attacks

Computer Experts Unite to Hunt Worm -

The conficker worm is one of the most effective botnet worms ever written. Aggressive attack algorithm combined with the ability to disable conventional protections, is a grave concern for security experts, law enforcement and users.

Microsoft has put up a $250,000 bounty for the writer, they believe is in Eastern Europe. It won't be a single author. They are making use of organized production programmers for this stuff. As security companies write software to deal with the threats, the bad guys can stay one step ahead.

Behave yourself on the Internet and keep your self protected.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Comparative Chart of Top Smartphone Features

Convenient chart of smartphone features. iPhone 3.0 makes gains, but still appears to be behind the others for business use. Palms Pre has promise, but we still don't have enough details to accurately compare...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Be Careful When Doing a Recovery - or Else!

I happen to be doing 2 data recoveries right now that were either created or complicated by users inadvertently running the vendor recovery program either to the wrong drive, or in the wrong way. In both cases the recovery process is greatly complicated by that mistake.

I am surprised how many users make arbitrary judgments on how things work without having a clue. It's no sin to be inexperienced or ignorant. Not everyone can be an expert at everything. It is a problem to pretend you are an expert just because you think you know how things "ought" to work.

Like a lot of things in life, most bad things that could happen don't; and the bad stuff that does happen is often of our own making. Technology is no different.

One of the real secrets of success with technology is to learn what not to do. Things that ruin disks and permanently overwrite data falls in that category. Downloading software that you are not completely sure who it's from and what it does, is another one. I have a great personal example of that.

When I was new to computers there was a utility available for downloads at the BBS's of the time, called diskwipe. It cleaned hard drives. Having just paid a couple of grand for a new 10MB external harddrive, I wanted it to be clean, so I downloaded and ran it. Yep, all data was permanently erased and it took me a week to get stuff back. That was in the early '80's. I've learned a little since then:

If in doubt, don't! If you think you know, but you're not sure, don't!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Regulators to NY Doc, "Your Fees are Too Low!"

NY regulators frown on doctor's flat-fee system - Crain's New York Business

Hooray for this Doctor in NY. I learned long ago, as I studied economics, that the more direct the relationship between the customer and provider, the more efficient, cheaper and satisfied everyone involved in the transaction will be.

Of course government regulators aren't familiar with that concept. They have injected themselves in the Doctors practice to require that he raise his "direct pay" prices because they are too low. Are they concerned about his price, his patients, the insurance companies or their power? What do you think?

The uninsured patient pays $79.00/month plus $10.00 per visit and the doctor provides whatever in-office care the patient requires. Sounds more than fair to me. I bet the care is better, profit is higher, and paperwork and other costs are less. It an obvious win-win. Not for the Government regulators. Remember when you hear, "We're from the Government and we're hear to help you.", guard your money and your freedom, 'cause they don't believe you have any of either that isn't theirs.

Lets' stop looking to the Government to protect and provide. Every dollar they take looses a third of it's value before it ever goes to providing the services it's supposed to buy. We loose every time the Government does something that could or should be done by the private sector.

I like open free market competition because it's a natural service and product improver and cost reducer. If you were the health czar and you forced me to choose who the single payer/provider should be, I'd say Walmart. Name a more efficient, logistically sound company. Maybe Amazon or Fedex? Does the Gov't even show up on your list?

Oooh, what about ebay? The ultimate in efficient transactional relationships...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Forgot How Much Memory...

There's a lot of confusion about what how much memory different versions of Windows can address. Some of you have paid for and installed memory that does you absolutely no good whatsoever. Here's a list of the most current Windows versions and how much memory can be used:

Windows Vista (32 bit)

Ultimate, Enterprise, Business, Home Premium, Home Basic: 4 GB
Starter: 1 GB

Windows XP (32 bit)
Professional, Home: 4GB
Starter Edition: 512 MB

Windows Server 2003 (32 bit)
Datacenter SP2: 128 GB
Enterprise SP2: 64 GB
Standard SP1: 4 GB*
Datacenter R2: 128 GB
Enterprise R2: 64 GB
Standard R2: 4 GB*
Web Edition: 4 GB*
Small Business Edition: 4 GB

* Certain Microsoft server operating systems can support over 4GB of memory via Physical Address Extension (PAE). Please refer to Microsoft knowledgebase article located here for more information.

Windows Server 2008 (32 bit)
Datacenter, Enterprise: 64 GB
Standard, Web Server: 4 GB

Windows Vista (64 bit)
Ultimate, Enterprise, Business: 128 GB
Home Basic: 8 GB

Windows XP (64 bit)
Professional: 128 GB

Windows Server 2003 (64 bit)
Datacenter SP2, Enterprise SP2: 2 TB
Standard SP1: 32 GB
Datacenter R2, Enterprise R2: 1 TB
Standard R2: 32 GB
Small Business Edition: 128 GB

Windows Server 2008 (64 bit)
Datacenter, Enterprise: 2 TB
Standard, Web Server: 32 GB

Benefit from more Chaos

Free Chaos Training Videos

I am a big fan of Chaos Software products. They have a bit of an old school attitude about software design and development, customer support and pricing.

To help their customers use their products most effectively, they produced a set of training videos known as Chaos University. Anyone can view them, and it's a great way to get a feel for what Time and Chaos and !ntellect can do and how they do it. For those of us already Chaos users, they are convenient resource for improving our Chaosity.

It's a great way to benefit from more Chaos.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vista's Networking Tweaks

Speed Up Vista's Networking Big Time - Windows Central Forums

Thanks to Dave over an Windows Central Forum for this. Just cut and paste this line into your Windows Vista elevated command line to supercharge your Vista networking:

netsh interface tcp set global rss=enabled congestionprovider=ctcp ecncapability=enabled autotuninglevel=normal chimney=enabled

...then press enter.

What's an elevated command line, you ask? It's a command line run as an Administrator, from a dos box in Windows. The easy way to do this is:

- Click on Start button.
- In the Search box, type in Command Prompt. Command Prompt will show up in the search result.
- Right click on Command Prompt icon and select Run as administrator.

After you've entered that in, restart the computer and you should be off and runnin'! Please be aware that your results may vary, but generally the speed increase is noticeable. Go forth and surf in speed...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Java Cleanup - Automatically

RaProducts - JavaRa documentation

Java is a necessary evil these days. So much functionality, but so slow AND so insecure. Really crappy updating too. Java allows new versions to stack up every time you update, and they can at times cause issues. Sure you can go through the old versions manually, but they don't always uninstall properly. Javara is the answer.

If only they made something like this for my office!

SUPER Free Video Convertor and Player


The Super website makes finding the download link very difficult. You are confronted with many links to download other company's "pay for" software. But when you finally get to the download link and get it installed, the trouble is very well worth it.

Super converts darn near anything to anything. The format options are too numerous to list here. Check out the details on the site. Another great example of free software being as good or better than "for sale" software.

Super isn't the easiest to use but this is offset by great control and flexibility. It helps if you have a little knowledge about video and audio formats and their quality and size, otherwise you may stumble around a bit at first.

Super also includes a very comprehensive player. Contains built in codecs that will play just about any video format known. Plays what Real, WMP, VLC and other player can't.

A great piece of software at a great price! Download it today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Living the Recovery

D&H Adds $38M In Credit To 4,000 VARs - IT Channel - IT Channel News by CRN and VARBusiness

Many good individuals and companies are being stifled by the credit crunch. It's one thing to put restrictions on poor performers, but even good credit risks with flawless payment histories are being shut off from credit they've operated with for years.

D&H is putting their money where their mouth is. Extending $38 million right now has got be be a challenge for them. They are probably getting squeezed too.

Kudos to D&H management. I hope their faith in their customers and the American economy is rewarded handsomely.

Microsoft's Vista SP2 Release Candidate

Microsoft has released the Vista SP2 Release Candidate. I've had a chance to give it a quick go and here's what I've found.

Service Pack 2 is not a cumulative update, so you'll need to ensure that computer is already running Service Pack 1 Hotfix KB955430. The stand-alone SP2 executable for Administrators includes this update as part of the installation, but people planning to install SP2 via Windows Update Service will need to pre-install this.

Installation takes about 25 minutes on an average Vista machine, and takes up about 1GB of disk space. You can to recover about 300+MB of that space by running the compcln.exe command, but that removes your ability to un-install the service pack. So you don't want to do that right away in case you need to backtrack for some reason. Use the computer for a couple of weeks, and if all goes well, maybe you can clean it up then.

Vista SP2 has support for Via 64-bit processors, integrated Blu-Ray recording, support for Bluetooth 2.1, the integration of Windows Connect Now capabilities and improved integrated wireless LAN capabilities. This last improvement means faster Wi-Fi reconnections when returning the OS from a sleep state. Vista SP2 also automatically upgrades to Windows Search 4.0. This provides improved stability and speed, as well as faster sorting and grouping in Windows Explorer. For Administrators Vista SP2 delivers more group policy controls over power management functions, too.

Overall I'm impressed. It's almost as good as Windows 7.

Microsoft has yet to announce a specific date for the public release of this important service pack. So check back here often, I'll keep you posted.

Academic and Science Resource

Great for Homework - Israel Science and Technology Homepage

The Mason family uses this website as a homework resource all the time. Easy to navigate structure, lots o' good content and not too technical. Works for us...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Palm Revenues Fall Dramatically

Palm revenues fall dramatically as future hangs on new Pre phone | Technology |

I must admit I'm not impartial to Palms fate. As one of the standout innovators of the late '90's I am hoping they can keep it together enough to benefit from the excellence of the Pre.

Depending on the success of the launch, this could be it. Hope they have figured out PR and marketing as well as they have device design.

Google Docs Hit With Privacy Bug

You can't trust anyone completely - The Channel Wire - IT Channel News And Views by CRN and VARBusiness

I just got off the phone with a client discussing remote backup options. We've all heard the Carbonite ads on the radio, right?

What I told him was that remote backup is an important adjunct to backups done locally. The key point to understand is that you don't ever trust anyone completely with your data. The data breach at Google is a good example of why not. The paradigm at Google lends itself to data breach. It's all about sharing, so it's easier to have a problem. The paradigm at remote backup companies is all about security, not sharing, so I think a breach is much less likely. But not impossible. And no company is too big to fail. Just ask Lehman Brothers, GM, at al.

So choose your remote backup company wisely, do local backups AND archival DVD's that go in the safe deposit box for ultimate protection. Protect your protection by using multiple technologies, but keep it as simple as possible or you won't do it consistently.

No matter what your final plan is backup, backup, backup.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Utah State Free Online Family Finance Course

Family Finance — Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare

Now's a good time for a refresher on family finance. Utah State University has this free online course.

Course Description

Upon completion of this course you should be able to: 1. Identify personal/family values and establish appropriate financial goals. 2. Develop financial plans that reflect your values and goals. 3. Begin implementation of your plans to meet short and long term financial goals. 4. Evaluate options for providing financial security throughout your life. 5. Recall and apply specific fact concerning various financial topics, tools, and services.

Friday, March 06, 2009

High Performance Email

Almost all of us have issues with email. It doesn't matter what the email client is, if you get a large quantity of email, eventually your email client begins to slow to a crawl and sometimes even stop. Data file corruption is not unusual as a result.

There's no question some clients are better than others at handling large quantities of email, but almost without exception we aren't aggressive enough keeping our inbox and other mailbox folders cleaned up.

Your inbox should be cleaned out completely daily. If things are really out of control (like me), maybe weekly at worst. Put email in organized folders that make them easy to get to. Even if you have to create a "not-yet organized" folder just to get stuff out of the inbox, do it. You can get back to that folder to go through it as time allows. In the meantime your inbox doesn't drag you down. Not only is inbox and other folder navigation faster, but the loading of your email client and the downloading of emails will be speedier as well.

I have discovered a VERY helpful utility that archives email, without making it too difficult to view and search them quickly and easily. It gets old emails completely out of your email client. This is important if you have huge quantities of emails that you simply must keep over the long term. The program is Mailstore. The free version is functional enough for most people (including me), works with all the most popular email clients and file formats. They offer a paid version with additional management capabilities that can archive email for almost any size small business. Here's a feature highlight:
  • Archive and consolidate all email messages centrally, securely and permanently
  • Search all your email within fractions of a second (incl. the contents of attached documents)
  • Integrated CD/DVD burning utility to backup your archives with just one click
  • To conserve disk space, MailStore Home saves only a single instance of each attachment and applies a smart compression algorithm
  • Preview archived messages directly in MailStore and reopen them in your local mail client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook)
  • In addition to backing up the entire archive, your messages can be exported to a variety of destinations
  • Messages are stored MIME-compatible, and can be recovered at any time without information loss (e.g. to import them in other applications)
If you don't keep your email clients folders cleaned up they will eventually cause a problem, no matter what client you use. If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then Mailstore is a saint!

Bluetooth Without Compromise

The Plantronics 925 is my choice for bluetooth headset. There are several very good high end alternatives like the Aliph and Blueant, but the 925 has the best combination of appearance, price, battery life, noise cancellation and size. Does voice dial for most devices, too.

It really shines with a very cheap, easy mod. Add an Etymotic windscreen for $1.75 and it's just about as good as you can get.

Here's the best price I could find for the 925. Here's the windscreen source. Less than $80 for a real killer combo!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Repairing a broken System Restore in XP

It's not uncommon to have System Restore broken in Windows XP. You get a message that tells you it can't be completed, even though it seemed to go through the process properly.

The most common problem is interference by Norton Security products. Just Turn off Product protection in Norton, Run your system restore, then turn product protection back on in Norton.

If you don't have Norton Security or A/V, you may need to reinstall System Restore. Here's how you do that:

  1. Click Start, Run and type %Windir%\INF
  2. Locate the SR.INF file. If you have configured Windows Explorer to hide known file extensions, the file may show up as SR. To see the file extensions for all file types, then try this:
  • On the Tools menu in My Computer, click Folder Options.
  • Click the View tab.
  • Clear the Hide extensions for known file types check box.
  1. Right-click the SR.INF file, and then click Install
  2. Windows will reinstall System Restore, and may prompt you for the Windows installation source path. Point to %Windir%\ServicePackFiles folder, or insert your slipstreamed Windows XP (matching the Service Pack level of your system.)
  3. System Restore core files will be reinstalled. Restart Windows when prompted.
Or you can reinstall System Restore using the following command line:

rundll32.exe advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %Windir%\Inf\sr.inf

after running a command line.

Good luck!