Friday, February 29, 2008

Microsoft chops Vista retail prices

CNET reports: "For those in the U.S., Microsoft is cutting prices only on the higher-end versions of Vista, and only for the upgrade version used to move from XP or another copy of Vista. The suggested price for Vista Ultimate drops to $219 from $299, while Home Premium falls to $129, from $159."

If you have been waiting to upgrade your OS to the new Windows Vista Ultimate or Home Premium edition, now is a great time with the current price reduction.
Note: This price reduction is for the Windows Vista Ultimate or Home Premium upgrades only.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Firefox: Flash Player Won't Play (and how to fix it)

Recently I had an issue with the Flash Player stopped working within Firefox. For example, if I went to YouTube the video would start for a few seconds then stop. I tried a few things to fix the problem, but only one of them worked.

Ultimately what I had to do, was quit all the browsers and uninstall the Flash plug-in. To uninstall the Flash player, follow the instructions below:
  • First, go to Adobe's site and download the Flash Player to your desktop.
  • The quit all your browsers, both Firefox and Internet Explorer.
  • Then open the Control Panels under the Start menu, and select 'Programs and Features'. Towards the top, there is an entry for the 'Adobe Flash Player Plugin'. Just double-clicked it to remove it.
Before you restart any of your browsers, run the Flash Player on your desktop.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Software: Free PDF Creator Software

If you need to share information on the Web, one of the best document formats for doing is called PDF. PDF documents are an application neutral format. This means once a document is converted to PDF, to view its contents you don't have to have the program installed that was originally used to create it.

For example if you created a document in Microsoft Word, then published the Word file to the Web. Anyone who wanted to view the document, needed to have Word installed or another program that could read that format. By saving the document in a PDF format, anyone with a PDF reader can view it.

A long time ago the only solution that existed for creating PDF documents was Adobe Acrobat. Today there are several free solutions available. To create a PDF document, its as simple as opening the document in the application used to create it and then printing it.

Below are some free PDF document converts

Monday, February 25, 2008

Internet: Windows Live SkyDrive

Microsoft is making available 5GB of free online file storage via their Windows Live SkyDrive service. Users can upload files that they want to backup, make available to themselves online, share with a few select people or make available to the world.

Windows Live SkyDrive works on Windows or Macintosh computers with Firefox 1.5 or higher, or Internet Explorer 6 or higher. A Windows Live ID is required to use this service, so if you use any of the other Windows Live features (such as Hotmail, Spaces, etc.) you will already have an account.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Tax Man Cometh - PC Magazine

PC Magazine reports: "Chances are you still have to file your income taxes. You could fill out a paper return, if you're ambitious and not too particular about how much the government pays you back. And tax-preparation services are open practically around the clock, though that usually means sitting in some dreary office while a clerk pries into your finances—and paying big for the privilege. No, we're sure that you, the PC Magazine reader, would much rather let technology help you out, in the form of tax-preparation software."

If you don't want to fill-out paper tax forms, then check out PC Magazine's recommendations of the latest tax preparation software.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Software: Microsoft to Provide Some Software to Students for Free - News and Analysis by PC Magazine

PC Magazine reports: "Microsoft plans to allow college and high school students to receive key technical software for free, in a bid to familiarize students with Microsoft's software.

The program, called DreamSpark, aims to make several programs available to students worldwide for free; Microsoft has begun rolling the program out to college students in several countries, and will expand the program later this year. Microsoft also plans to make the program available to high school students."

This is great news if you're a student going to school to be a developer or web designer...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Browser: 10 Best Firefox Extensions for Web Development, Media, Information, and Better Browsing

ExtremeTech reports: "Though Internet Explorer is still the most common browser today, Firefox is catching up, and it's only a matter of time before it claims the top spot. While I'm sure many people get the warm fuzzies when they use Firefox because they feel it's safer and it offers tabbed browsing (though IE7 has tabs now), I found more value in Firefox through its extensions and add-ons. Why? There are hundreds of extensions out there for everybody—tailored to your specific needs. As the Web developer for ExtremeTech, I turn to quite a few add-ons to make life a lot easier. Plus, there's plenty of other ways to enhance Firefox, even if all you care about is surfing the Web."

I am always looking for new useful extensions for Firefox so I was interested to read ExtremeTech's recommendations. The problem with Firefox extensions are that what one person considers useful, might be totally useless to someone else.

If you have any favorite Firefox extension(s) please post it in the comments area, and let me know why you like it. I would enjoy reading which ones you like the best.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Security: PassPub (Strong Password Generator)

Do you ever have problems coming up with passwords for all your different online and computer accounts, or devices (such as your wireless broadband router WPA key)? PassPub will generate strong unique passwords (with letters and numbers) for these accounts.

All you do is just select the type of password (# of charactors, WEP, WPA, basic, Mnemonic, etc.) you need and wait a few seconds. If you need multiple passwords, just refresh the page.

Monday, February 18, 2008

72 Tips for Safer Computing

PC Magazine reports: "You might wonder if it's even possible to have a safe computing experience in this day and age, beyond unplugging your broadband connection and never installing any software. Of course it's possible, but it will take some work on your part. You need to install tools to protect yourself, learn good practices, and most important: Exercise common sense. Here's what you need to do, from the bare minimum on up. And for advice on buying security software, check out our Security Suites 2008 buying guide."

This article is a quick read with some helpful security tips for you to stay safe online. Some of them were worthless, while others were pretty good. If you know nothing about computer security this is a very quick introduction to what you need to know.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Software: Nine Ways to Wipe Out Spyware

PC Magazine reports: "The term spyware is actually a catch-all for a variety of nonvirus malicious software (malware, for short). Trojan horse programs masquerade as something useful—games, screen savers, utilities—but actually have their own sneaky agenda. One especially pernicious type of Trojan pretends to be an antispyware utility. These rogue antispyware programs tend to be alarmist, reporting tons of threats and offering to remove them—for a price. The term adware refers to programs that display ads on your computer (independent of the built-in banner ads on Web pages). Spyware literally spies on you, gathering personal information and sending it to the lair of its evil creator. Keyloggers specifically records all the keys you type, thereby capturing passwords and other sensitive info. Some of these may use rootkit technology to escape detection. A good antispyware program will handle all of these overlapping threat categories."

Are you looking for the latest information on the best anti-spyware software for your computer. Check out PC Magazine review of 9 different anti-spyware products.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hardware: Interface Guide

I accidentally discovered that Western Digital has a great page that covers the different type of hard drive interfaces that are available.(such as: SATA, eSATA, EIDE, USB, FireWire 400 [IEEE 1394a, FireWire 800 [IEEE 1394b]). If you need some help identifying a particular connector for a hard drive or other type of peripheral check out this page.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Refurb Madness

PC Magazine reports: "If the phrase 'refurbished PC' makes you think of sketchy parts of town, and of hardware with a shady past dealt by a guy with a funny nickname and shifty eyes, you can dispense with that notion. Refurbished systems today can be almost as new as new, and they can easily save a small business thousands of dollars."

Are you looking for ways to find a great deal on your next computer? Then check out this article on how to buy a refurbished computer. You might be able to save a few hundred dollars depending on the model you're wanting to buy. Although, make sure you understand the ins-and-outs before making your first purchase.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Windows Vista: Opening Ports in Your Firewall

Sometimes you need to manually open ports in the Windows Firewall to allow remote programs on computers to talk to your computer over the your local network. For example, for Remote Desktop to work on the host computer, you have to open TCP port 3389 in the firewall.
Warning: You have to be very careful about which ports on your firewall you open. Depending on what they're used for they can make your computer vulnerable to different types of attacks.
  • Open the Control Panel folder, and find the 'Windows Firewall' applet
  • Click the 'Change Setting' link
  • Click the Exceptions tab.
  • Press the 'Add port...' button.
  • In the Name field, type a friendly name for the port to help you remember why you opened it. For example, type "Remote Desktop: Port 3389".
  • In the 'Port number' field, enter the port number you want to open. For example, type "3389"
  • In the Protocol field, select either TCP or UDP, and press the OK button.
To open a port for a specific application, you need to research the port number (i.e.: 1..65535) and the protocol (TCP or UDP). In the example above, the RDP service needed port 3389 open using the TCP protocol.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Will Opera Mobile perform for free?

CNET reports: "Opera should be bracing for impact. Quite possibly for the first time, Opera Software will receive real pressure in the mobile-browser space from Firefox Mobile and Skyfire."

I am eager to try out these new browsers.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Keyboard Shortcuts: Remote Desktop

Below are some keyboard shortcuts that you can use in the Remote Desktop client:
  • Ctrl+Alt+End: Simulates the Ctrl+Alt+Del key
  • Alt+Page Up: Switches between programs from left to right
  • Alt+Page Down: Switches between programs from right to left
  • Alt+Insert: Cycles through the programs in most recently used order
  • Alt+Home: Displays the Start menu
  • Ctrl+Alt+Break: Switches the client computer window to full screen and back again to its original size if pressed again.
  • Alt+Del: Displays the Windows menu
  • Ctrl+Alt+Minus sign (-): Places a snapshot of the client window in the remote computer's clipboard (provides the same functionality as pressing ALT+PRINT SCREEN on a local computer).
  • Ctrl+Alt+Plus sign (+): Place a snapshot of the active window in the remote computer's clipboard (provides the same functionality as pressing PRINT SCREEN on a local computer).
  • Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow: Switches you to back to the host computer.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow: Switches you to back to the host computer.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Windows Vista: Remote Desktop

Both Windows Vista Ultimate or Business editions include a feature called Remote Desktop. This feature is also included in Windows XP Professional. The Remote Desktop service allows you to control a machine from another computer on the same network.

There are two main parts to remote desktop, there is the service which runs on the host computer that allows to you to remotely log in to it. Then there is the Remote Desktop client, which allows you to connect to the remote computer which is running that service.

The remote desktop service is disabled by default for security reasons, but its not very hard to turn it on. Follow the instructions below to find out how to enable it:
  • In the Control Panel open the System applet (or right-click the Computer icon in the Start menu and select Properties)
  • In the left pane, click the 'Remote Settings' link.
  • Select the 'Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)' radio button. This allows older versions of remote desktop to connect to this computer. Or, select the 'Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authenticate (more secure)' radio button. If you're going to connect to this computer with Windows Vista or an updated version of the Remote Desktop client.
  • Press the 'Select Users' button and add the user accounts that you want to allow to connect to the machine from a remote computer.
When enabling the Remote Desktop service, Vista will automatically open ports in your firewall to allow the Remote Desktop Protocol through it.

There are a few things that you need to know. The Remote Desktop service, doesn't work when the host computer's in sleep mode. Also, when you log into the host computer remotely, no one can use the local machine while your logged in. So this means that the host computer can't be shared.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Free Web Based Screen Cleaning Service

Bonus Tip: Here is a free web based screen cleaning service. ;-) Its cute, so enjoy...

Windows Vista: System Health Report

Windows Vista has some great diagnostic tools built-in to it. The System Health Report is one of the more useful ones. It gathers data from the Performance and Reliability Monitor, and displays in information packed report, and even highlights potential problems.

To run a System Health Report:
  • Open Control Panel folder, and open 'Performance Information and Tools'.
  • In the Tasks pane on the left, click the 'Advanced tools' link.
  • Click the 'Generate a system health report' link.
  • When the applications opens, you will have a UAC and user login prompt.
Each report can take 60 seconds or more to complete and display all the gathered information.