Yearly Archives: 2010

This is the last post of 2010, and as such I hope you have experienced a blessed Christmas season and are looking towards a bright New Year! Many could have received the tech gadgets they have been waiting for – and now could be scratching their heads in wonder at how to get the software they need loaded on their new gear. Perhaps this post could help.

Let’s say you are moving from an older computer to your shiny new Windows 7 computer. You have some of the disks needed for installation of software you use to use, but took them out of the case and now you can’t find them (and the serial number was on the case, oops). How do you go about retrieving the magic numbers you need?

This is where License Crawler comes in. This is a free program that looks through your registry to retrieve those magic numbers for the software you have installed on your machine. It is small in file size, easy to install and run, and provides a list of all the serial numbers – just what the doctor ordered!

Of course, getting these numbers is part of the battle. On the old machine you may need to un-authorize some software (for those using iTunes, keep in mind that you need to authorize accounts for the machine you are on, and you only get 5 to use, so it may be wise to un-authorize, see this knowledge base article). If you don’t have a disk and purchased the software with download only media, you will need to make sure you can still get the software to install it. Also, you will need to know if the software will install and run (in other words, is it compatible with) on your new computer (and don’t forget to install the right version – 32-bit or 64-bit).

No matter how ‘hard’ this all sounds, License Crawler makes the retrieving of the ‘magic’ numbers easy. If you have issues or questions on how to use it, visit the author’s site. Oh, and enjoy your new gear! Have a great New Year…


 

I probably should start out by letting everyone know that I am biased – I’ve been using FireFox for a number of years now and am pretty certain that I will be using it for many years to come.  And for those that know me, you may not be surprised at all that I’m currently using the latest beta version (as of this writing, Firefox 4.0 Beta 7, you can visit their beta site here) of the browser to enter this post.  To see a review by Matthew (on behalf of Lockernome), check out the video here.

I’m a huge fan because Firefox is extremely configurable.  I’m thinking the new features will win over many folks, and they are looking at what other browsers use (like Synch) as well as what users have developed or really want and are updating as appropriate!  I love it that FireFox is still standards-based and will support HTML 5.

But this post is not all about FireFox, I mentioned in an earlier post that Microsoft is currently in beta testing for Internet Explorer 9.  As of this writing they are also in beta release 7 (you can see their beta site here).  While (in this writer’s opinion) IE has not been accused of being standards based for many versions, they have made an effort to move more towards standards compliance, and that is a welcome move.

From the various tests and information on the site, IE will also have a decent overhaul.  Quicker, supporting more graphic options, and looking towards HTML 5 are also in their offerings, along with security enhancements.  It looks to be a nice update!

Google’s Chrome browser is in version 9 beta testing (you can find their beta site here).  While this may seem strange (since version 8 was just released in stable version to the public), it is important to keep in mind that browsers are applications.  As such, they are always in a state of development and refinement based on changes to standards, user needs and updating technology (think smart phones, pad / tablet technologies as well as updating web development / presentation applications, etc.).  Chrome has been another strong browser that you may want to install and give a try – it is a very capable application.

Opera … believe it or not, is also in beta for version 11 (you can see their beta site here).  I love the play off of Spinal Tap in their site (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you either haven’t seen This Is Spinal Tap or you don’t remember it … and shame on you if you fit in the latter category, go watch it again).  Again, loads of promising features!

All the browsers are promising better performance (touted as speed).  They also look to have better features for us, the user community.  So the question becomes – when will you update?  Some people adopt quick, others – not so much.  If your computer can handle the software, I would encourage you to update to take advantage of the new features as well as increased performance.

If you don’t adopt and upgrade, at some point you will not be as pleased as you can be with your surfing experience.  And for developers of web sites out there – you need to test in multiple browsers to ensure your content is showing up as you intended across these different applications.

Thanks for reading, I’m looking forward to FireFox having a stable release of version 4 early in 2011.  What are you looking to update to?  Feel free to leave a comment or thought – unless you’re going to comment on why I didn’t include Safari (hey, they are at version 5, and let me know where their beta URL is and I’d be happy to – why does Steve J. make it hard?).


 

It’s after Thanksgiving, and I believe we have a heap of things to be thankful for.  Those that serve our Country (in our armed forces and in government).  Those that serve us (retail, online, service industries).  Our families and loved ones.  Our loving Heavenly Father.  So much to take in after this season – but we look forward to Christmas, a time of giving and receiving.

Perhaps you still have some time to pick out the ‘tech’ items for those on your list.  I’d like to get you thinking of some things in this area if you resemble that remark!

Let me start by telling you of my recent visit to my optometrist.  Yes, I get an annual eye checkup, and I already knew what I wanted before I went – prescription sunglasses.  As the years have gone on, I have made sure to find some frames I really like – and have purchased 2 of the same frame so that I can change out lenses as needed and still have a ‘spare’ set of eyes in the event something happens to the newest pair.  So getting the sunglasses this year, when my vision has not had any drastic changes is a good fit.

Once I finished the exam, it’s out to pick out my new frames and settle on the right lenses for me.  And, one of the first questions I needed to answer was if I wanted tinted or polarized lenses.  Well, I’ve done a little bit of photography, so I knew what tinting and polarization lenses were in that arena.  But, for my sunglasses?  I hadn’t planned for the question – so I had no good way to gauge my answer.

Quick – think of an intelligent question to help with the decision…’What is the cost difference?’  Good question, I do have boundaries (based on what insurance will cover and what I need to pay for in addition to what insurance covers)!  The cost difference was impressive – over 2 times the cost for polarization over the tinted lenses.

Next question – what is the difference in a practical sense, what will my eyes see?  That is where the folks handed me 2 sets of lenses.  I look through the tinted lenses, not bad.  Then the polarized lenses.  What a difference!  (And for those interested, here’s some info on tinting and polarization in sunglasses from HowStuffWorks, written by Jeff Tyson).

Now I had information on cost and benefit, now I had a decision to make based on – NEED / USE.  And that is where we go back to the intent of this article.  You have probably done some research on what gifts others on your list are interested in.  You may have even looked at pricing and availability.  However, let’s focus on the last set of information you want to add to your arsenal – NEED / USE.

It’s not like I have not addressed this before, but it bears repeating – what is this going to be used for? Sticking with computers, many sales are for machines that very little profit margin has been built into, so the pricing is enticing.  And you may jump at that low priced model but find out it won’t run that hardware hungry video game that you really wanted for being such a good boy or girl!

The last question may be the most important – the machine must be capable of running the latest awesome video game (or accounting software, home design and landscaping application, video/music creation and editing suite of tools, etc.).  If that is the ‘right answer’, then you need to look for hardware that meets those specifications!

I ended up going with the polarization lenses for my prescription sunglasses.  Based on what I will be seeing and how I will be using them, I knew that my eyes would be better off spending the extra cash to get them, and I understood that I would not be unhappy with my choice (and would be more likely to use them) as time moves on.

As for you – what are you looking to purchase?  Have you really examined the need / use question to understand the level of purchase you need to make?  I would encourage you to drill down and get what will meet or exceed the needs you anticipate for your purchase!


 

I’ve heard more than one person in the IT world state, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’  What they are saying is once you have something working, leave it as it is so it stays working.  Now I don’t want to be one to argue with these folks (and I have written about this before).  But I do want to ask a legitimate question concerning you and your computer – how long will you wait until you look to upgrade your machine?

Why do I ask this question (you may think) – it is because the end of life for some popular software is right around the corner (see the article XP Deadline Haunts IT found in ComputerWorld).  While this is geared towards IT professionals, many need to understand that support for Windows XP, Office 2003 and IE6 come to an end pretty soon – in April 2014.  Do you remember when XP was first released (see information on that here)?  Let’s put it this way, when the April 2014 date comes around XP will have been available to consumers for … over 13 years.  Windows Vista came out at the end of 2006, and Windows 7 came out at the end of 2009.  In fact, retail sales of Windows XP ceased on June 30, 2008!

No matter how long you wait, you need to start to plan.  Many still view their web pages through IE6 (and may not be aware that Internet Explorer 9 was just released as a beta).  Office 2003 is very popular and still in wide use, and Windows XP is still being released as a downgrade option with many Windows 7 purchases.  But the reality is – you need to start to plan for the switch.

Some areas you need to consider are:

  • What software am I currently using that I must continue to use – and is it compatible with the version of Windows you will be upgrading to?
  • What software will I need to upgrade – and how much will that cost me?
  • Will my current computer hardware support an upgrade to the Windows version I select (the newer the version of Windows, the more robust hardware needs to be)?
  • What peripherals that I use do I need to use on an upgraded machine (some may not have drivers, or may have hardware mismatches such as a parallel printer not having a parallel port to plug into on a desktop or laptop computer – leading to the purchase of adapters or new hardware)?

Many of you reading this are doing just fine with your computers.  You may even be running XP and other software mentioned in this post.  I applaud you – keep it up!  However, while it seems like 2014 is a long time in the future, it’s really not that far away.  Start to plan now on what moves you need to make to be successful in your upgrade path for computing hardware and software!


 

Since this post is the last of October, it may be beneficial to remind everyone that many of the software programs you are using may need to be revisited.  While this post may be very useful for those that have brought me their computers and are working on keeping things running smooth (no tricks), it is probably also good for others to look at what they are using on their computers and update their software (or no treats).

Anti-Virus

Many are using some sort of anti-virus – take a moment to see if you are running the latest version (if there is a software upgrade or newer version you could be using).  Since many folks get various packages, I’ll only note the very popular free programs that should meet home user needs (always read the EULA [End User License Agreement] to make sure you don’t violate use).  The only free one I recommend is AVG.  I use the paid version and have for 3 years running.  The latest offering is AVG 2011 Free Edition – upgrade now.

Adware

While some software packages tout all-in-one capabilities, the reality is no single package of software meets all threats or responds as well as others that focus on a specific area of threats.  Ad-Aware Free Internet security is at version 8.3.4 as of this posting.  If you are running an older version, make sure you visit their site and get the latest version (then keep it updated).

Spyware

One of the popular programs is an oldie but a goodie – Spybot.  Believe it or not, they are still at version 1.6.2, however be sure that is the version you are running.  Then take the time to download the most current definitions, then immunize your computer.

Malware

A heavy hitter in this area is Malwarebytes.  Currently the version is a 1.46 – and they update their database many times a day.  Today is a good day to open this program, update your definitions and scan your computer for any issues.

While these are far from the only programs out there, many people use these programs to fix badware issues that happen to their machines.  Whatever software package(s) you are using, why not take some time today to make sure you are using the latest version of the software, then update the definitions and scan your computer to keep it running at peak performance – and problem free!


 

One of those areas that we sometimes neglect to discuss (or ponder) when we are looking at various software we need to install on our computers is what is correct for my operating system.  In the Windows family, this becomes a bit more complex with the Vista / Windows 7 family of machines due to the chips that are being made and used in our computers.  We now need to think – am I on a 32-bit or 64-bit Operating System?

This comes into play when downloading software to use (think iTunes, various games and productivity software, etc.) and even what printer drivers / software do I need to install.  So – it’s a fair question that you need to know the answer to so that your system functions to the best of its ability.

Here is a very brief and somewhat non-technical look at the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit system architecture.  This is a large shift in capability – and software needs to deliver optimum performance.  The citation is taken from Wikipedia’s article explaining 64-bit:

A change from a 32-bit to a 64-bit architecture is a fundamental alteration, as most operating systems must be extensively modified to take advantage of the new architecture. Other software must also be ported to use the new capabilities; older software is usually supported through either a hardware compatibility mode (in which the new processors support the older 32-bit version of the instruction set as well as the 64-bit version), through software emulation, or by the actual implementation of a 32-bit processor core within the 64-bit processor (as with the Itanium processors from Intel, which include an x86 processor core to run 32-bit x86 applications). The operating systems for those 64-bit architectures generally support both 32-bit and 64-bit applications. (cite)

That is good information, but the question remains.  How would you tell which system you are using?

  1. Click Start, type system in the Start Search box, and then click system in the Programs list.
    The search results return system, click on it - click here for a larger image...
  2. The operating system is displayed as follows:
    • For a 64-bit version operating system: 64-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System.
    • For a 32-bit version operating system: 32-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System.

So, the information you were looking for is shown by looking at number 1.  In fact, if you look at the top area (number 2), you could see the Operating System you are on and the service pack level you are up to.

Hopefully this will assist someone with finding out the information you need to ensure you download and install the correct software or drivers for your computer.  If you have other tips or tricks, feel free to leave a comment.  Take care!


 

It has been quite some time since I have talked about this at any length.  Well, it’s not like I haven’t discussed aspects of this earlier [see Pass This On (hoax e-mails and how to know what is real) from 12/20/2008; or view With great needs come great scams… from 1/15/2010; or perhaps Phishing Scams from 8/15/2010].  But some things just never seem to sink in – and we remain vulnerable to scams and flim flams.

You may have heard this advice given at various times in your existence – ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ And while Ben Franklin may have said that well before the rise of the Internet, perhaps we need to live by this proverb as we look at information on the information super-highway.

What triggered me to type on this was an article on Fox News 9/13/2010 titled, ‘Scammers Target U.S. Military: 6 Scams You Must Know‘ (if the link is broken click here for a PDF of the article).  Now I realize not everyone reading this will like Fox News, but it my hope everyone can agree that we can take an ounce of prevention by learning what some of the scams are!

Since I have not been on the dating / romance scene for quite some time (thanks to 25 years of marriage and counting – of which I am one of the most blessed men on the planet), it was interesting to note that scams are no longer financial ploys alone – now identity theft is thrown in to gain confidence and access to a person’s finances.  And we soon forget that people can pose as almost anyone standing for anything on the web – it is still pretty anonymous as a medium of communication.  And, it probably doesn’t help us to be vigilant as we watch the commercials for many dating sites who throw out statistics that 1 in 5 relationships are now started or cemented by online meetings or beginnings.

Another area I hadn’t thought much about was the area of discounts or offers extended to our members of the various armed forces.  I haven’t thought much about it because I did not serve and have only visited a Commissary one time in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bit concerned about these ‘perks’ (and I’m hesitant to label them as ‘perks’ with my limited knowledge of the blood, sweat and tears given in all aspects of our military men and women’s time of service – they are well deserved and earned), it is just that they would have no appeal to me knowing I am not eligible to take advantage of them.

Of course, that is just the point for the scammer – they find something that is plausible and work it to their advantage.  So Fox News was pointing out 6 of the currently active heavy hitting scams that are targeting the military.  I think that is fantastic, however you may need to be aware of many other scams that are out there that could be targeting you next!

Below are just a few links that can give you good information on scams and even one that will let you know how to report scams.  If you choose to search Google, Bing, Yahoo or some other search engine for scam information, just be aware that scammers have also been known to set up bum scam information sites just to – gain your trust and confidence!  So go in with caution (you could even use some tools like WOT and AVG LinkScanner as written about earlier) to get the information you need.

  • ScamBusters.org – Internet Scams, Identity Theft, and Urban Legends: Are You at Risk?
  • QuackWatch – Your Guide to Quackery, Health Fraud, and Intelligent Decisions
  • Internet Fraud Tips – Tips for Avoiding Internet Fraud, from the Internet Fraud Watch
  • Consumer Fraud Reporting – Reporting on the Latest Frauds, Scams, Fake Lotteries, Spams and Hoaxes

If you have more insight or information, feel free to join in by leaving your comments.  Thanks again for reading!