Friday, April 29, 2011

Inexpensive Computer Accessories, Printer Ink and Toner Cartridges

Are you looking for the most inexpensive computer accessories, printer supplies, and more, check out two of my favorite sites.

They have several types of products available, but the quality can vary on the items. Although its hard to beat the prices. Most of the stuff I buy from these sites I am pretty happy with.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keeping Your Drivers Up-To-Date

WindowsUpdate keeps your Microsoft OS and applications up-to-date, but what about all your hardware drivers. A free program called SlimDrivers alerts you to the latest version of a driver.

There are two versions of the software. SlimDrivers is the free version only allows you update one driver at a time before you reboot. The premium version called DriverUpdate allows for multiple driver updates before you reboot and offers advanced automation features.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CrashPlan - Internet Backup Solutions

Backing up data on your computer has always been critical. A long time ago floppies were used to backup your data, later it was CDs and then DVDs. Today there is no affordable external removable media capable of keeping up with modern multi-terabyte drives.
Note: For those that can afford it, tape backup is still an option but it's expensive and slow when compared to an external hard drive.
Even if you have an external drive or NAS (network attached storage), it can be damaged, lost, stolen or suffer data corruption. If you don't have an off-site backup, and your local backups are in-tact they can be damaged by fire, earthquake, or other natural disasters.

If you're looking for a backup solution, there are a few choices:
  • Use an external drive and keep your backup locally and hope that nothing happens to them.
  • Use multiple external drives and keep one of the backup drives offsite, and rotate it out on a regular basis.
  • Use a cloud based backup service provider.
Below is a list of some advantages to using a cloud based backup service provider vs. using an external hard drive:

  • All your backups are stored off-site automatically.
  • Some backup solutions offer services that run in the background on your computer that automatically compresses your unbacked up files, encrypts them, then forward them on to the service provider you selected.
  • You almost never have to worry about running out of capacity as long as you have a budget for the storage that you're using.
There are several service providers available that offer cloud based backup services.  Some are free, while others cost money.  The hard part will be finding one that you like, and that has the features that you want.  

There are also some disadvantages to using these services, such as: 
  • Depending on how much data you have, these services can initially use a lot of bandwidth.  Depending on your ISP there may be a cap on the amount of data that you can utilize each month.
  • If you have to recover your whole hard drive from your service provider it can be challenging and expensive depending on the solutions that they offer.

Below is a list of features and other considerations when looking for a company to host your backups:

  • Has a good reputation for providing a reliable backup solution.
  • Offers easy to use software that automatically backs up your files and uses strong encryption.
  • Offers affordable pricing for storage and recovery services.
  • Offers storage capacity options that meets your needs and budget

Check out a site called CrashPlan, they provide free and low cost Internet backup solutions for personal and small businesses.  Check out the site to see a current list of features and prices.

One feature I like about this service, is that it allows you backup your computer to another remote computer (e.g. a friend or family member) for free.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Google Talk Guru

The Google Talk Guru is an experimental service intended for IM users, including users using chat clients on low-end phones, allowing them to answer simple web queries from the context of their chat application.

To use the service, in your Google Talk client invite to chat, and then send queries via your chat client. Categories supported include weather, translation, unit and currency conversions, and sports scores. Send "help" for more information.

Sport scores:score giants
Weather:weather San Francisco
Calculate:123 * 456
Currency:120 EUR to USD
Definition:define love
Translation:translate earth to German
Web result:web St Helens
Help:help translate

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Extension: Chrome Toolbox (by Google)

In the Google Chrome extension gallery, you can find the Chrome Toolbox by Google which gives you quick access to tools that allows you to put your favorite browser commands in one drop down menu, save unsubmitted form data, magnify images, view videos in standalone windows, and define shortcuts to open all links in any bookmark folder. (For more information)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Windows Live Mesh

Back in 2008 Microsoft debut Live Mesh (which has recently been discontinued). It has since merged that product into the Windows Live tools, its now called Windows Live Mesh.

Windows Live Mesh is now available, for download.  Below is a list of features it supports:
  • Syncing files between your computers, works on both Windows and Macs. Also supports offline viewing of your sync files even if your machine is turned off.  
    • Sync up to 5GB of data with the your SkyDrive.
    • Sync program settings across all your systems, such as Internet Explorer favorites and Microsoft Office configuration.
  • Remotely connect to your computers (similar to Remote Desktop Connection in Windows), and run programs or browse files on your remote PCs from other locations.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Installing CD/DVD Applications on a Netbook or Windows based Tablet

Note: This procedure is general enough so it can be used for installing any version of software that doesn't incorporate some type of anti-piracy mechanism that comes on an optical disk (e.g. CD or DVD) to a netbook computer or Windows based tablet.

Recently I had to install a legally licensed copy of Microsoft Office that was on a DVD to a netbook computer.  My netbook had no optical drive, so I assumed that I could copy the files to a flash drive and perform the install from there.  Well thats the problem with assuming, it doesn't work most of the time.

If I had bought Office from the Microsoft store I could have downloaded it from there, entered my product key and been fine.  Unfortunately all I had was a store bought DVD version of the software.

Here is what I did, on my desktop computer which has an optical drive.  I right-clicked on the optical drive with the Microsoft Office DVD in it, and shared the drive on my network.  Make sure to note the name of the share (it could like \\computer_name\drive_letter, e.g. \\fred-pc\d).  Grant EVERYONE read access under the Permission button.  Make sure the network profile on the computer sharing the drive was set to Home under the Network and Sharing Center control panel.

On the netbook computer connect to the desktop via its IP address (e.g. \\\d) because the machine name (e.g. \\fred-pc\d) didn't resolve.  It might ask you to authenticate, so enter the username (e.g.\fred or fred-pc\fred) and password.

Friday, April 15, 2011

3TB Hard Drives (and Larger)

The Jason Chronicles reports: "If you try to mount that 3TB (or Larger) hard drives (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) on a computer, you will soon notice that Windows can only address 2.19TB of storage. This is a limitation of the current standard method of storing data on a drive partition that utilizes 32-bit LBA (Logical Block Addressing)."

(Read the rest of the article)

Types of Internet Access

There are several different types of Internet access available. Each of them have various different advantages and disadvantages. Not all of them are available in all areas, so their availability will vary between locations.

This article was created to be a reference for the different types of Internet access. It provides a brief summary of each technology, along with its PROs and CONs.

(Read the article on the site "The Jason Chronicles")

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Commodore 64 Is Making a Comeback

The long-dead Commodore 64 is back—with a vengeance. With a Dual Core 525 Atom processor, the latest Nvidia Ion2 graphics chipset, and the original 1982 clunky beige look, the computer is the company's latest hope as capitalizing on our appetite for new tech and our obsession with retro style. The system is set to take on the beefiest new PC titles and, of course, the classic games that made it a legend. With optional Blu-ray, high-def-TV compatibility, and a wide price range of $250 to $695, the Commodore 64 could be a surprise contender in the gaming-console industry this holiday season.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Windows 7: 3TB Hard Drives (and Larger)

If you try to mount that 3TB (or Larger) hard drives (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) on a computer, you will soon notice that Windows can only address 2.19TB of storage. This is a limitation of the current standard method of storing data on a drive partition that utilizes 32-bit LBA (Logical Block Addressing).
For those who like technical information. LBAs are stored linearly, starting at LBA 0 up to the last address on the device. The amount of LBAs that can be accessed are a function of the type of partition applied to the drive when it was formated.

LBAs under most MBR (Master Boot Record) partitions use 32-bit address values, with the maximum value being 2^32 or 4,294,967,296. Each LBA on the drive corresponds to a 512-byte sector value (this also applies to 4K formated drives, they still appear as 512-byte sector drives to the OS). The largest available 32-bit MBR partitioned drive can be 4,294,967,296 * 512-bytes or 2,199,023,255,552 bytes (or 2.199TB).
To overcome the 2.19TB limition of the 32-bit LBAs, a new partition type was created called GPT (GUID Partition Table) supports 64-bit LBAs. Using 64-bit LBAs, the largest 512-byte sector drive that can be addressed is 9.4ZB (Zettabytes - or 2^70 bytes).

Depending on the age of the computer and the functionality contained in the version of the BIOS that is installed, it may are may not support booting from a partition that is larger then 2.19TB in size. Although, that doesn't mean that you can't create secondary partition that are larger then 2.19TB as long as the hardware (e.g. drive controller and software drivers) and version of OS support it.
  • Intel’s Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) the successor to the PC's BIOS supports GPT boot partitions. 
  • All x64 versions of Windows (Windows XP, and higher), Mac OSx, and Linux should support GPT partitions.
If your current x64 OS and hardware doesn't support GPT partitions, you can buy a drive controller that supports the larger GPT drives as long as you have a computer that supports its system requirements.

Amazon Cloud Drive/Player (from 5GB -> 20GB of storage)

If you purchase an MP3 album from the Amazon MP3 Store by December 31, 2011, you can upgrade your Amazon Cloud Drive storage from 5GB (included in the free plan) to 20 GB for 1 year from the date of the album purchase.

To learn more about the:

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Photography: Easy to use and Free Panoramic Image Stitcher

Are you looking for an easy to use and free panoramic image stitching application? Check out Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor), its one of the easiest to use and free panoramic image stitching programs I have found for Windows.

For those that don't know what a panoramic image stitching application does, it takes a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, and creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images. For more information on Microsoft ICE, check out the product page for the application.

System Requirements:
Operating system: XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64-bit)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

New 7″ Tablet PC Up For Pre-Order; Dedicated Mouse Buttons and Touchpad

Tablets Planet reports: "A new Windows 7 tablet PC option is on its way and today you can pre-order a model. The new option comes from a new face to tablets Netbook Navigator, there first entrant in the 7-inch tablet market is the Nav7 Slate PC.
The Nav7, as the title for this post and the numerical figure attached to its name vocalize, is a 7-inch tablet. The screen on the Nav7 features a native resolution of WSVGA (1024x600) and the LCD does have capacitive multi-touch support."

Microsoft releases Windows Home Server 2011

CNET News reports: "The official version of Windows Home Server 2011, codenamed Vail, comes almost a year after the beta was released and close to two months since the release candidate made its debut.
Using the same core operating system as Windows Server 2008 R2, the new version is designed for people who need to juggle multiple PCs, home networks, and an ever growing amount of photos, music, videos, and other hefty content. Running Windows Home Server on a dedicated PC, users can set up network shares to access all their data, back up their networked PCs, remotely access their files, and stream their music and videos. The software offers a central dashboard for people to run the various administrative tasks."

Remove Comcast's Bandwidth Cap (Legally)

Did you know that your Comcast's bandwidth is capped at 250GB per month?  In the old days, most Internet packages were "all you can eat" (unlimited) bandwidth.

Now because of technologies like Netflix streaming and Bittorrent, ISP's (Internet Service Providers) feel that they have to cap the bandwidth to prevent a small segment of their user population (generally around 2%) from using excessive amounts of data.

I have to admit the answer to this question of removing Comcast's bandwidth cap is under whelming, but if you use a lot bandwidth and you need another option. Then for a few dollars more then Comcast's regular Internet package (which is currently starting about $45 per month, not including taxes and equipment rental) you can order the Comcast's Starter Business Class package (which is currently starting about $60 per month, not including taxes and equipment rental).

Comcast's Starter Business Class package offers unlimited bandwidth with no caps, plus it includes a few extra perks that may or may not be useful to you.