26 April, 2008

Tracking changes and versions in Word

I originally started out this post with the idea of making a simple movie on how to track changes and delete those changes in Word. Realizing that I have Word 2000 and many others have moved on to Word 2003 and Word 2007, I decided to begin with some research to see what the differences were. In that research I found a great site to help with Word, so I'll point you there instead, Shauna Kelly's Making the Most of WORD in Your Business.

If you are still reading, you might have been asking yourself, "Why making a movie on something trivial like this?" Well, Shauna has captured some specific examples for that too. In fact, she's listed 10 real examples where not minding those tracked changes has led to embarrassment (or more).

Finally, if you just want to know more about tracking changes and versions in Word, here's the link to the article on Shauna's site.

Back to school with iTunes U

Did you know that many colleges and other educational institutes have made audio and video content free through the iTunes store?
iTunes U was created in collaboration with colleges and universities that were looking for ways to expand and enrich their curricula with digital content.
Standford University lists 13 different categories of materials from Science and Technology to Health and Medicine to Personal and Professional Development. There is also commencement addresses from 2005 - 2007.
MIT has used iTunes U as one of the delivery channels for their OpenCourseWare initiative. This is a big investment; take for example the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science category, where MIT offers 161 tracks.

If you move outside the classroom, there are offerings from the New York Public Library, PBS, and others. You can find over 20 Jazz oral history video interviews and 13 audio presentations in the Small Business category at New York Public Library.

I have just scratched the surface of a deep, rich set of free educational content available to any iTunes user. I'm currently listening to a lecture of The World is Flat from Thomas L. Friedman as part of the MIT OpenCourseWare offerings, where Mr. Friedman talks about his book of the same title during the week it reached #1.

18 April, 2008

Want to rip a DVD to save as a backup or to play on your PSP or iPod?

LifeHacker, one of my favorite sites for little tech hacks has posted a top 5 list of DVD rippers. This list is based on their reader's input, so you know these programs really work. If you're looking to rip your DVD collection, then checkout LifeHacker's article. I will say that I have successfully used 1 of the 5.

Comcast and Net Neutrality

Are you still unsure of how Comcast is playing unfair with your Internet access? Remember they paid people to fill seats in an open forum with the FCC where they would scrutinized. Comcast also released a "Bill of Rights," [which] is really about informing the consumer that their Internet traffic could suffer delays. Read all about it in a recent article, Will the feds get it in gear on Web traffic?, from Therese Poletti in MarketWatch.

Don't just sit back and let your geek friends try to fight this... if you or your company depends on the Internet for doing business, then you need to get involved too.

Want to get another perspective? Larry Hardesty of MIT's Technology Review has also released an article on this subject. Specifically , he has information on a middle-ground proposal that will be coming from Mung Chiang, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Princeton University.

Higher speed RAM doesn't yield the bang for the buck

Patrick Schmid posted Is Fast Memory Really Worth It? on Tom's Hardware recent research that concludes what I have suspect all along. Unless you are a hardcore gamer building a computer to get out every last ounce of power, there's no reason to buy the more expensive, faster memory. Many of us know that to extend the life of your computer, investing in more RAM is often a very good way to improve performance (instead of buying a new). What Mr. Schmid has shown us is save your money and don't invest in the faster, more expensive RAM.
...only significantly faster (and significantly more expensive) memory can deliver a tiny performance advantage.
...
Quicker timings (low CL values) are favorable, but you shouldn’t fork out considerably more money, as the differences are small.
So if you're looking to extend the life of you sluggish PC, try some additional RAM -- but don't waste your money on the more expensive stuff.

On a related note, if you are looking for ways to increase your productivity, consider a 2nd monitor. You will likely need a second video card or one that supports 2 monitors, but the cost-benefit is well worth it. If you are lucky enough to have a laptop docking station that supports digital and analog video, you already have what it takes to have 2 monitors.

17 April, 2008

Still using Comcast?

Dave Winer, who pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software posted yesterday a terrible experience he had with Comcast. It makes me ask again, "Given the choice, why are you still paying Comcast any money?"
Then this morning around 9AM the service went down. ...The recording said I was talking to their legal services department, Press 1 if you are stealing content, 2 if you are using too much bandwidth, 3 if Comcast hates your guts, 4 if you're a criminal. (I don't remember the exact wording, this wasn't it, but the implication was that I was guilty of abuse, me, a paying customer, in good standing. By pressing a button I was admitting to doing something wrong.)
...
It would be easy to cut back. Not sure I will though, cause I hate to be lectured and threatened by companies I pay $180 per month to.
Let's recap for a moment. (1) Comcast decides that P2P traffic is using too much bandwidth in general, and it must be illegal traffic; therefore shuts down the protocol and doesn't notify any users, when they could just narrow the amount of bandwidth allocated. (2) When a customer uses more than their allotted "unlimited" bandwidth, again instead of managing the bandwidth, they threaten the user and accuse them of doing something illegal.

Are you still paying Comcast?

14 April, 2008

Pay extra to deliver your content

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett wants to make more money for his company by charging content providers to deliver their content faster to Virgin customers. So if you are a small company that cannot afford the blackmail fees or a Virgin Media customer who accesses content from smaller companies, be prepared for slower connection times. This is why net neutrality is important.

For Virgin Media customers, this will be like watching the big 4 networks on TV and picking up your favorite content on your AM radio. If you are an existing customer, its time to let Virgin Media know how you feel about this; if your not a Virgin Media customer, it's a good time to tell them why your not.

Learn more about Net Neutrality at SaveTheInternet.com.

Show your support to save Windows XP

Microsoft plans to finally stop selling Windows XP after June 2008 (with a few exceptions). For many of us, this means switching to Mac or Linux is better than going to Vista. The people at InfoWorld decided that they didn't like those options, so they have started a petition drive to encourage Microsoft to continue selling XP.

With just 76 days plus change as of this post, you too can be part of this petition (signed by more than 100,000 people) by visiting SaveXP.com. Read more at MSNBC.

05 April, 2008

Firefox 3, Beta 5 -- WAIT

If you are a regular reader, you know I am a big Firefox fan. I just wanted to let folks who didn't know that Firefox is soon to release their next version, Firefox 3. Further, they are on their 5th beta right now, so I know they are close. With that though, a simple reminder: wait for others before you install any new or beta release on your primary or main computer. As much as we might want to new features and functions, it's rarely worth the risk of causing a real headache by happening to have the one machine that the software runs into trouble with.

If you want to learn about what new features are waiting for you in Firefox 3, there are several sites that have posted reviews of the beta releases. Laptop Magazine posted an article on Friday and they talk about the following features:
  • Star button
  • One-click site info
  • Improved OS integration
  • Tags
  • Resumable downloads
Matt Asay of CNet also posted a brief statement on beta 5, and despite the typical bugs of a beta, he's claims in the post title that its already better than Internet Explorer.

Finally, ZNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says it's the fastest browser yet.

So read these posts or search Google to hear the latest about Firefox 3, but remember to wait for others to use it before you install it on your primary machine.