30 August, 2006

XP Keyboard Shortcuts

I have documented all the keyboard shortcuts for Windows XP that I could come up with. Most of them I use on a regular basis -- it is so much quicker than using the mouse. Let me know if I have missed any of your favorites. (Click on the image to get the full-size view.)

CNET Is Full of Tech Content

I recently started listening to Buzz Out Loud, a podcast from CNET. It is a daily podcast that reviews tech news -- I am going to replace Slashdot Review with this, as I am tired of the errors from Slashdot Review, and there are now too many commercials. Anyway, back to my original point... Buzz Out Loud, hoasted by Molly Wood, Tom Merritt, and Veronica Belmont is just one of many offerings from CNET.

I discovered today that they introduced CNET TV a several months back, and there appears to be some good content to help beginner and intermediate Internet users. These are small in length too, 3 - 5 minutes in most cases. Here are some programs to view:
And if that is not enough, CNET also offer free online course in subjects such as Home PC, Home Entertainment, and Digital Camera & Design. Now I have not taken any of these courses yet, but they do appear to be worth the time investment. For example, the Plan Your Home Network course is led by Andrew Kantor. Andrew writes about technology for USA Today, The Roanoke Times and is a former editor for PC Magazine and Internet World. With experts like this, I can only imagine the content will be good. I will add that CNET does recommend textbooks that are not free; but they are not the same as you would pay for in a college course. the same Plan Your Home Network course recommends Home Networking Demystified for $17.

So if that is not enough, CNET is also the owner of Download.com too. If you have not checked them out lately, give them a visit.

28 August, 2006

Mixed News For Sony

Sony furthers its losses, this time with a battery recall 1.8 million Apple laptops, for a total of 4.8 million batteries. At a cost from $170 to $250 million for their battery problems, I do not think a 2% loss in shares is that much. Interestingly enough, if you look at Sony's stock over the last 12 months in comparison to the NYSE, they are not doing so bad. I plotted closing stock price and trade volume for some of more notable Sony announcements over since the Rootkit problem reported on October 31, 2005. I looked at the day before, the day of, and the day after each announcement.

With all the bad things going for Sony, perhaps their recent $65 million purchase of Grouper is good news. Robert Cringely thinks so. Mr. Cringely, in his "i, cringely" column talks about how Sony can use this purchase to learn how to play in the new video era. At number 8 in volume, 1% of video traffic, I think this could be another loss for Sony. How many people have even heard of Grouper? With the popularity of YouTube and Google Video, and other players such as AOL, Yahoo! and Microsoft, Grouper could move up two notches and still fall off the map.

27 August, 2006

Jiffy Lube Gets Busted

I think next time I take my car into the shop, I will watch much closer. See what can happen if you are not watching.

Do PDF Better Than Adobe

If you are like me, you get very irritated by the time it takes to open a PDF file. And once open, Adobe is asking you to update to a new version. Worse, if you do not have the original CD (e.g. your IT department installed it), then once all the files are downloaded, the update fails. Oh, and did I mention that Adobe thinks it is okay to run all the time and consume some of your processing power while sending information about you back to them?

FoxIt Reader is a great replacement. It's fast, it does not nag me, and I do not have to worry about someone stealing my processing power or my privacy.

Do you still need to create PDFs? There is a better solution for that too... Try CutePDF Writer or PDF Creator. Both work like a printer driver, but instead of printing out your document, it prompts you for a file name.

23 August, 2006

Location Videos

I ran into a new site, TurnHere, that gets local talent to make short films about their city or town. Places include New York to Los Angles to Tokyo. TurnHere is pushing its services as a way to visit and learn about a place before you make travel plans.

It was fun to view the films on Portland (my town), though there were a few errors in the interface. For example, the Chinese Garden in Portland was listed three times with slightly different names -- TurnHere needs a local to review before posting. Another error that was quite surprising is that there were videos for LaConner and Seattle Washington within the Portland listing. I like Seattle and all, but it is not close enough to bundle together. That is like putting Philadelphia and New York together.

All that aside, it looks like a promising new site.

D-Link Router Vulnerability and UPnP

eEye Digital Research notified D-Link in February of a flaw in their firmware in several of their routers. After six months of not correcting, eEye has notified the rest of us. If you have one of these routers, you may want to put some pressure on D-Link to correct this bug. In the mean time, if you turn of Universal Plug-n-Play (UPnP), it will prevent the problem. For that matter, you may want to turn off UPnP whether you have this router or not.

UPnP was designed to make it easy for non-technical types to get their router properly configured by software. The problem is that when enabled, any malware running on your PC could change your router settings without you knowing. Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte first discussed the dangers of UPnP in Episode 3 of Security Now in September 2005.

Why then do we have UPnP? Microsoft has an article that talks about all the benefits to UPnP here. Regardless of the benefits, turn it off -- Learn to make the manual changes required, so you fully understand the implications, or do not compromise your security.

20 August, 2006

Firefox: Crop Circle


John Carey, Matt Shichtman, and Beth Gordon pull of a "Crazy Awesome" thing -- a Firefox crop circle. I like this because when you see the video, you see a lot of folks dedicating their time to something they like so much; they are happy; and they are having fun. It's also neat to see that it was done so close to home.

I found thes pictures on the Oregon State Linux User Group site: OSLUG Gallery.

This is not the first Firefox promo done by this group. In viewing the OSLUG pages, I found two other references: Take Back the Sidewalk and Take Back the Sky. They appropriately named the crop circles project: Taking Back the Field.

18 August, 2006

25 Years of PCs

I stumbled across several sites celebrating the 25th anniversary of the PC. Of course IBM has something -- check out their archive page. PC World has a great article that covers many aspects of the days developing the PC at IBM.

There is another site, Vintage Computers, ran by Eric Klein. Here is what Eric has to say about his collection, "My vintage computer collection is small by most standards but it contains examples of what I consider to be some of the most significant machines and items from the early days of personal computer history." Mr. Klein has done a great job in providing photos and facts on so many early computers. Another good site for old computers is OLD-COMPUTERS.COM, ran by Thierry Schembri and Olivier Boisseau.

I remember my first PC, which I bought used during the summer of 1982. It was a Sanyo MBC-555 that used the 8086, so it was not completely IBM compatible. It came with two 180K floppies, which I could use to run WordStar, and a green monochrome monitor. This was the beginning of my adventures in learning to program.

Prior to this, I was lucky enough to have used the TRS-80 and Apple IIe in high school (Do you remember shape tables on the Apple?). I had a friend that was a huge Commodore 64 fan -- he was using this as a game console before we really had game consoles. I did not see him much after this, as he spent some much time alone with his computer. Hmm... sounds familiar for many of us now.

What was your first PC?
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Update 22-Sep-06: I ran across another vintage computer site: Old Computers also know as the obsolete technology site.

Dell Recall Sony Batteries Update

ZDNet is reporting that the laregest battery recall in Dell's history could cost Sony $85M to $430M. Sony also supplies batteries for Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer and Lenovo.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet says he will folllow the progress on his blog, including any problems with these other manufacturer's laptops.

InfoWorld reports that Sony and Dell have been discussing the battery problems for the last 10 months.

15 August, 2006

How fast is your connection?

You may find that your ISP is already offering tiered Internet service -- mine does (Comcast).

If that is the case, you better check and make sure you are getting the speeds you are promised. How might you do that? Try Speedtest.net. You will need Flash 8, though they promise a Flash 7 version for Linux users (this week).

Fortunately, I had pretty good results with the testing. I wonder if Comcast keeps up at the higher speeds.


14 August, 2006

Sony Batteries = Dell Recall

Dell has identified several products (4 million in all) that may contain batteries manufactured by Sony that are defective. The affected products are as follows:
  • Latitude: D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810
  • Inspiron: 500M, 510M, 600M, 700M, 710M, 6000, 6400, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 9400, E1505, E1705
  • Precision: M20, M60, M70, M90
  • XPS: XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170, XPS M1710
If you own one of these products, Dell has set up a specific website where you can check your battery serial number and learn what to do next.

Is this just one more problem for Sony? They had the rootkit problem; the delay to the PS3; Blu Ray vs. HD, with a delay and the first models not being able to play movies -- what's next? Oh yeah -- they are struggling in their launch of a music service for their PSP due to DRM issues.

13 August, 2006

Security Ignorance

Are you still using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)? If so, then you are what I call security ignorant. eWeek recently published two articles on how Firefox adoption has slowed down and that it will be more difficult for Firefox to grow further. (See "Internet Explorer Loses More Ground to Firefox" and "Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 Is No Slam-Dunk".) Their argument is based on usability, and that Microsoft will release IE 7 as part of a security update. Hmm... that should be a clue right there.

Perhaps Firefox is not familiar as Internet Explorer; perhaps Firefox does not display all of your websites the same as Internet Explorer. I say, so what -- security, which includes your privacy, are more important than having to learn a new browser. And if your favorite website looks different or does not work right -- tell the web master and/or find a new favorite site. I have been using Firefox for some time now, I other than visiting Microsoft.com for some Windows updates, I do not need Internet Explorer.

Back to the security issues. As I mentioned, Microsoft will release IE 7 as a security update. This implies that you should not be running IE6, as it has security problems. eWeek ("Internet Explorer Security Problems Multiply") reported May 1st that Microsoft has not corrected about 25% of the bugs in IE and "More than 40 percent of those advisories are serious enough to be used in system compromise attacks." So why are you still running IE? If you do not like Firefox, try Opera or Netscape -- just quit knowingly using Internet Explorer because it is more comfortable. Still not convinces? Did you know that in March a third-party actually released a patch for IE because Microsoft was too slow to respond?

Security ignorant? You should not be any more -- maybe now if you are still using IE, you are just stupid. Hey, how about you send me your credit card number, and while you are at it, let me give you a list of email addresses, so you can send them a special message for me.

08 August, 2006

Are You SIRIUS?

Monday I arrived in Denver and rented a car from Hertz. The sales clerk tried several times to upsell me, and I agreed to move up one level from a compact to a new Ford Mustang. The clerk promised to throw in SIRIUS satellite radio for free. I told her, "great, at least make the SIRIUS folks happy." How little did I know how wrong I was.

After not finding the car in the designation stall, and finally getting to the car, I found that the SIRIUS satellite radio is permanently mounted on the dash -- I was not getting it for free, and further, the radio was co-branded with Hertz.

Okay fine, whatever, back to my original point. While I was waiting for them to find my car, I had looked at the brochure, and I found that they had blues music. So, when I got in the car, I immediately tuned to 74, the blues station. Boy was I surprised (I'm not talking about the two toll booths either). In my hour plus trip to my final destination, I was never able to listen to a complete song. The radio could never keep the station acquired long enough for me to listen. Perhaps the best time was when I was moving slow or stopped. But even at a stop light, not moving, I would lose the signal.

So I take back my words, "great, at least make the SIRIUS folks happy" -- I have gone from an unlikely customer, as I really like my iPOD to "are you kidding, why would anyone put up with this?"