Monday, February 28, 2011
(this post was done as a sarcastic response to my wife saying I should just post hi and come back and sit on the couch with her. )
Saturday, February 26, 2011
But for personal taxes, you can just go to Turbo Tax's website and they'll have it done for you in no time.
So lets recap. I'm complaining here because a business, which really will only be paying money in, has to take the long route and file by paper and pay the extra money to have it processed by someone else or spend the hours figuring it out, but the individual, who will probably be part of the fifty percent of Americans that will not pay any taxes at all this year, gets to use the easy filing system. I think theres something wrong with this.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I’m writing this one tonight because I didn’t realize it needed to be written. I guess I thought this was just one of those things that people knew how to do if they were on the internet. But apparently there are a lot of people out there that don’t know how to embed a video from something like YouTube or Vimeo on their blog or Facebook page.
This is actually a simple task once you get the basics down, and can be made even easier if you have a nice service for hosting your blog that makes embedding a two-click process.
First thing you need to do is find a video you want to insert on you page. Once you have the desired video, look around the video player, either on its screen or just below it. There should be a button titled “embed” usually including a </> somewhere near it.
When you click on this button, a bunch of text usually pops up on screen, hopefully already highlighted.
Once you have the text highlighted, then either hit the provided copy button, or use Ctrl + C to copy the text. Now head on over to your blog or social network. If its cool like Blogger, their will be a button that you just press and it will walk you through a dialog of how to insert it. But if your blogging platform is older or just doesn’t provide the functionality, just enter the html editing mode. Their, just find where in the post you want to add the video, put the cursor there, and press Ctrl + V for the paste function. When you go to publish you post, it will now display a video from a video service.
A simpler method can usually be used to upload your own files, too. So try it out and let me know how you’re doing.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
IBM Lotus Symphony: Okay, so my first pick on this list is a weak one because no one really cares about office software anymore. Or do they? I have found IBM's Lotus Symphony one of the nicest free office software suites I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Heck, its the best Office software I've ever dealt with, period. Nothing else is easier. (And if you haven't gleamed it from any of my previous posts, I'm all about ease of use.)
The Gimp: This image manipulation program is the best no money can buy. Whereas there are still some things Photoshop can manage in the digital art realm that the Gimp hasn't quite mastered, (which I am working to remedy), for photographic manipulation, I've seen it do anything I've seen Photoshop do.
XBMC: This media browsing application got its start on the XBox, a system I hate, so I am glad that it found a way to migrate onto other platforms. If you plan on building a media PC, this program is a live saver, and its pretty simple to use. Definitely check it out if you are a media enthusiast.
Picasa: This Google program is an amazingly useful photo viewer, and it extends into more as you can edit photos, upload them to web, make instant collages, and even make posters.
Vuze: If you're into downloading things through bit-torrent, I can't think of a better program to use. With integration into your media system, and a quick and friendly interface, I've used this one for years to download images of Linux, MMORPG installers, and plenty of other things as well. Give it a shot and find out for yourself.
Audacity: If you are into podcasting, or just audio editing in general, this is a program you should add to your library. I've even seen it packaged with home sound hardware as the default audio editor. It works wonders for the home enthusiast. Plus, like all of the rest of these its free.So, click the links and check out all of these free software programs. As an added bonus, all of them are available on both Windows and Linux systems, and most have Mac versions as well. I'm sure once you've taken the time to get to know these programs as I have, you'll love them, too.
Monday, February 21, 2011
But just because Hamster has a cute and cuddly mascot(actually, this depends on personal taste), doesn't automatically make it an awesome media converter. Its awesome because of its ease of use. With Hamster all you do is pick out your video from whatever folder its in on your computer, decide what device or video type you need it in, then press the convert button. Each section has their own tab, so you use the add file tab to add your videos, the edit tab to select your device, and the convert tab to convert. Quick, simple, easy, done.
And that is the whole of this post, because there is nothing more to really say, it really is that quick and simple.
(Psst! Go to http://videoconverter.hamstersoft.com/ to download.)
Saturday, February 19, 2011
But, on a positive note, I have heard from a local employee that the working conditions at Qwest should improve. Apparently they were not that best, and the employees are glad of the change.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
First things first, this installment of the popular Kaspersky internet security suite, Kaspersky 2011, is chock full of features, not all of which might seem immediately useful. But trust me, they are features selected with a lot of forethought.
Now, it comes with the standard disk scan and active protection it always has, which are work amazingly well, but there are some other features that I enjoy that will help keep you safe.
There is the link scanner, which lets you know if Kaspersky labs knows if a server is infected or not. This is your first step in preventing problems before they start. This has become almost a universal feature for all anti-virus, and I use it all the time. Kaspersky's is top notch.
On top of this, I've found some new features that I think will go a long way towards helping people keep from getting infected with crud. Kaspersky 2011 offers three different safe-runs, one for applications, one for web-browsing, and one for your keyboard. Now these three modes are based on a technology I've been pushing for people to use for the last year now, a sandbox. The concept of a sandbox is simple, yet it can be amazingly effective in stopping viruses. The concept; nothing can play outside the sandbox.
So what does that have to do with safe-runs? Safe Run for applications will let you try out installing an application before really installing it to see if the application contains a virus, or if it will try and download a virus once installed. The Safe Run for web prevents malicious code on websites from actually running on your computer. It isn't allowed outside its little box.
The third run mode is a little different though, you use this one to keep on-line peeping toms and applications from seeing your keyboard strokes. This keeps them from obtaining sensitive information with applications like key loggers.
Over all, these three elements make this the ultimate in security protection. The only problem now is the user. If you are serious about computer security, and you use Kaspersky, make these three Safe-Runs a part of your regular computing routine.
Also available are the rescue disk, vulnerability scan, browser configuration, privacy cleaner, and system restore tools. All of these can be useful, but they're more icing on the cake than really necessary functions. You can also set parental controls, which work as an internet filter to keep kids and guests off of unwanted web domains and applications. But unlike most filters, you can go overboard with this one. Almost any computer function you could ever really want can be blocked. Be careful with this one, too much restriction can almost be as bad as not enough.
Over all, Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 is the pinnacle of personal internet and computer security. This one definitely gets five out five fruit, plus my personal mark for being top notch.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Can you imagine? You purchase the highest end combination processing unit, and couple it with the highest end matching graphics chipset, and you could have graphics processing of the highest order. You could potentially double your graphics output. Plus, if the software was designed properly, double task the graphics processing. All around, I see this combination as a great leap forward in computing. I look forward to seeing what will come from these new developments in technology.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
My personal favorite, and the primary reason I use VirtualBox, is being able to use software in one operating system that doesn't work in another. I have become mainly an Ubuntu user, but there are some programs that I miss from Windows. My favorite text editor, for example. So rather than continually running two computers and having to constantly flip between the two, I can just install a copy of Windows in VirtualBox, then run it on a different workspace on my Ubuntu machine. Because VirtualBox has really good integration for most desktop OSes, when I installed Vista(save the hissing, its all I had), it ran just like an application for my Linux install. Plus, when using this method of Linux to Windows, you don't run into any of the problems of associated with trying to find things in WINE.
The other major benefit of using a virtual machine on your personal computer is that you can test drive another major operating system without have to risk losing everything you have on your current one. You can try out all of the features, set up everything you need, find out if it will work with all of your hardware, all without risking your current OS. I can't tell you just how useful this is.
So, for personal computing, a virtual machine like VirtualBox can be amazingly useful. But there are other uses for them, too. Digital Fruit is working to combine several computers each running several virtual machines as safety nets so we can do some serious virus analysis for our customers. The principle is this, we create several virtual machines on one Ubuntu system(Linux has better memory management), with a large mix of operating systems and degrees of updates. We then go to all sorts of different malefic and unsavory holes of the internet, get the virtual systems horribly infected, then figure out the best ways to fix the damage. Through each step of the process we will be tracking and analyzing information about what's happening, and use this to better our security and restoration efforts.
I hope this short article has led you to more questions about virtual machines, and if you would like to check one out, head on over to www.virtualbox.org and download a free one.
Monday, February 14, 2011
So, today's post is kind of split in two, mainly because I don't have the ability to type out two post, as I have burned the tips of my fingers, which makes typing a bother.
On that note, lets get too it. My first section is on how I wish they would get on with things like augmented reality already. I'm sick and tired of looking over at things sitting on a hot stove, wondering if they are an acceptable temperature to grab, then finding out far too late they are not. It would be awesome to just have a pair of glasses that when I was going to grab something that was hot it would throw up a warning and a visual representation of just how hot the item in question is. This would make my life less painful, so come on hardware engineers, get to it.
The second part of this post is how inconvenient the computer world seems to be getting. We have all of this in-fighting over petty differences in the computing world. We have companies like Apple and Microsoft at each other's throats, and patent trolls around every corner trying to get a piece of the pie. Every where you turn a new idea is being fizzled out because someone else thought of it, and just didn't think anything more of it than to get the trademark. Some many ideas we have in the world today could be combined together to make truly remarkable inventions, but they can't, because we can't get along.
One invention that I have thought up would combine the robotics of the Honda Asimo robot, and the prosthetic arm technology being developed by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Both of these devices were designed to help people who lack mobility or who cannot help themselves. Both are robotics. So imagine this, combine the two elements, the prosthetic arm that can feel and move, and the smart legs of a robot that balance itself and even run. Combine the two and you could come up with a prosthetic leg that felt pressure, and intelligently adjust and re-align itself. Can you imagine that? Foot and leg amputees could have the opportunity to walk again with something close to normalcy.
The technology to do it is right here, years old in fact, but I doubt we'll see it in our lifetimes. And why? Because of the greed that keeps people fighting. We need to get over this, and quit insisting on who gets the money and who gets the fame. We need to just invent for the betterment of mankind. (I do realize this rant is a pipe dream, but I've always been a dreamer.)
Sunday, February 13, 2011
I was working on a new blog, Gamer's Top Hat, and I'm trying to get a couple of my friends access so they can co-blog with me. Sounds simple right? But I need to block access to this blog, for security reasons, so I can't let them just log into my account. I've seen plenty of blogs do this, and when I was looking the other day, I couldn't really figure out how to do this with Blogger. But, as Blogger is one of the two major blogging platforms for blogs, I knew there had to be a way.
After digging through the help files in Google's Help section, I found an article on how to do it. Even that seemed rather long winded though, so here is a visual guide.
First, log in to your blogger account, then, click Settings:
Next, you press the Add Authors button:
You add the desired person's e-mail to the list, separating them with commas:
Click the Invite button,
Then just go ahead and wait for the author to respond. That's about all it takes. Hopefully this will be helpful to any of you bloggers out there.
Friday, February 11, 2011
First off, the reason this review took so long after my product pick of the MGS PW PSP bundle is the game has that much. With so many added aspects that don't come into play until later in the game, you really have to devote your time to this game to get everything out of it.
Being a direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, this installment in the series sets up how Snake really became Big Boss, developed outer heaven, and built his first Metal Gear. As with anything in this series, if I were to state specifics about the plot, it would give away important parts, so I'm leaving it at that. If you are a fan of other Metal Gear games, this one is a must play, as the story and game play are of the highest quality.
As a third person shooter, the game is good. There are three different ways that you can set up your controls on the PSP, which one you chose really depends on your taste. Once you have that established, you can get into the game.
This game, as I stated before, revolves around the point of the Metal Gear story when Big Boss develops the military state of Outer Heaven, so this game doesn't just focus on the third person shooter aspect of the series. There are heavy elements of skill-based leveling and technological advancement, so there are things to focus on besides just getting through the next mission. And I guess that I should say its a mission based game, too, where you can play as the main character, or go back and deploy another one of your units and play through a mission again.
The units you get are obtained through many different methods. You start out with a few, and are able to put them in several different teams, depending on what part of the Mother Base you want to develop further. You have a Combat team, an R&D team, the Mess Hall team, your Medical team, and an intelligence team. You gain more "volunteers" by either spontaneous arrival, the Fulton recovery system, special missions, or by saving a unique character.
By far the most fun method by which to expand your crew of mercenaries is to use the Fulton recovery system. This is a helium expanded balloon system that you attach to a unit you have knocked out or is near death. They can either be your enemies, or sometimes you may come across POW's your enemies are holding capture. A sort of the enemy of my enemy is my friend scenario. They make a lot of jokes about this one in the cut scenes.
Over all, game play is fantastic, and the visuals are stunning for a portable system. Also, the music fits the theme. And along with all of the extra things you can do, this game is sure to fill your time for days and days. Don't get discouraged if you can't seem to finish a mission immediately either, go back and do some of the others, gain some more R&D time, and come back with stronger weapons, it really helps, trust me.
So the verdict is: Five fruit. This game is top notch, and I'm sure I'll be playing it for years to come.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Till then, I'll catch you on the flip side.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The issue of cleaning up your computer is one that most users find daunting, but like most jobs, just really needs the right tools. In this case the right tools for the job are a CCleaner, Defraggler, Revo Unistaller, and Soluto anti-frustration software. We will also talk about using WinDirStat, an open source windows program for visualizing the size of files. WinDirStat is something of a last resort, and I'll explain why.
The best thing to start with is running a clean up is CCleaner from Piriform. This little program cleans up problems with your registry and deletes temporary files from system folders. Run this program from time to time for good maintenance.
To use it is simple, when you open up CCleaner, it should start in the Cleaner tab, hit the analyze button to see if you really need to run the cleaner, or just hit the button that says Run Cleaner to start clearing out the crap. Next you'll want to go over to the left side and hit the Registry button, there you'll want to Scan for Issues, and once the computer has scanned, you'll want to fix them. Just to be cautious, you can save a backup of your registry so that if you somehow end up the one-out-of-a-thousand computer and you screw up your registry, a computer tech can repair your computer in a matter of minutes, not days.
The next step to cleaning up your computer is de-fragmenting your hard-drive. (One disclaimer note, skip this step if you own a solid state drive, as it will destroy the file structure on your computer.) De-fragmentation is an important part to maintaining drive speed on traditional hard drives because of how they function. The more you save on a hardrive, the more of it fills up, of course, but when you delete things, this leaves spaces. These spaces make the read time of the drive go up because it has to spend more time searching over the drive. If you de-fragment it, the computer will condense the files and information down so there are no more spaces.
Now, for de-fragmenting you can use any program you want, and the built in de-fragment program in windows is fine, but for this article, I'm pointing people to another free program from Piriform software, Defraggler. I'm using Defraggler because I'm a very visual person, and I like to see whats going on with my computer. Defraggler shows a pie graph of how much space is being taken up on your computer, and once you've analyzed a drive for de-fragmenting, it tells you what percent of the total drive you have fragmented, and how many files are fragmented, letting you make a more informed decision about how to proceed. When using Defraggler, you can also choose between a quick de-frag or a full de-frag, which is nice if you do your cleaning often.
To use Defraggler, just hit the analyze button down on the bottom left, then, when the analyzes is complete, if your drive needs de-fragmentation (usually if there is more than 30% fragmentation), hit the de-fragment button right next to the analyze one.
So, we have gotten half way through our spring cleaning. Next you'll need to install Revo Un-Installer, for removing all of that nasty crap ware off of you computer. I'm not going to be able to explain all of the ins and outs of running Revo, but it is a simple enough program if all you're doing is un-installing crap ware. Just run the application, and it fills a list of programs registered as installed on the computer, just like windows traditional Remove Programs setup. just find the programs you know you don't use, and all of those annoying toolbars that are installed in your browser, and begin un-installing. When you click on one and pick the un-install button up at the top, a new window appears. This window is part of the reason we're using Revo. It gives you the option of doing just the built-in un-install, a light, a moderate, or an advanced un-install. This is the real benefit to Revo. If you pick anything other than built-in, Revo will track down other registry entries and files the program has left behind, making sure that it is totally removed.
All that's left with Revo is to follow the prompts. If it does find additional files or registry entries, just click the box that says select all and remove them.
And all that is really left to our clean up is the program Soluto. As Soluto claims, it is anti-frustration software. All it does is so, once again in a very visual format, all of the programs that automatically boot on your computer. Using it, you can decrease the boot time of your computer greatly. I've even been able to knock a whole minute and a half off of one on my machines.
The first time Soluto runs after installation, it will ask you to restart your computer. When you do, Soluto scans every process that loads when your computer boots up. When you finally get back into the operating system, Soluto brings up a menu that allows you flip through the process, which it has in three different groups. These groups are very self-explanatory, titled No-brainers, Potentially Removable, and Not Removable with Soluto (yet...). The ones in the No-brainers sections are really what you are concerned with, and unless you really use those applications a lot and like them auto-loading, then just set them to remove from boot, or pause. You can cherry pick through the ones listed in the section Potentially Removable, and remove any you are confident are not needed in your boot. Soluto also gathers data from other users and suggests which actions you might follow based on the actions of other users that have the same applications installed. In the Potentially Removable I suggest following those suggestions, at least if you are unsure about turning one off. Looking up at the top of the Soluto program window, you can see how much time you've cut off of your boot, and how many programs you've removed or paused.
Soluto - Anti Frustration Software from Soluto on Vimeo.
That does it for our spring cleaning, and now for the bonus. If you find that you still are having problems with a slow hard drive, (not a solid state drive), and you need to cut out more files, you can use WinDirStat to find out where the big ones are. Just install it and run it, and in the program screen is a visualization of the size of your files set up as squares and rectangles. The largest ones are the largest size files on your computer, and I'm sure I don't have to describe this part any further, you get the point. But a word of caution, WinDirStat shows you literally all of the files on your computer, essential system files or otherwise, so delete a large file only if you really know what it is. With out fail, the system pagefile is one of the biggest, and you definitely don't want to delete that one.
So there you have it. Good luck and happy cleaning. And as always, catch you on the flip side.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
If you are one of those people that has shelled out the extra cash and paid for a router other than the one you're internet provider is renting to you, this is usually an easy process. Most home routers these days come with the built in ability to use DynDNS.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
If anyone reading this post would like to help, take our poll for the national carriers survey. Just leave your vote in the upper right hand corner.
Friday, February 4, 2011
What is the topic is spammers. As I read through the comments, I found the usual spam that had been flagged for deletion, but I've been noticing lately a new type of spam, and this article was filled with it. I'm talking about the people commenting on tech blogs and forums that are obviously hired by the company the article is about. They are hired to argue or make the point that whatever the business is, they are absolutely right.
I'm sure you've seen them. The trolls who get on and post about how Microsoft, or Mac, are the omnipotent, omnipresent being we should all worship. The worst one I saw today was a guy posting about how Bing doesn't copy search results, its just superior data collecting that lets Google and Bing have the same top search result. His login name is IE9, a Microsoft beta project that hasn't even been released yet. Can anyone say shameless promotional plug?
And on the game informer forums, only two hours after the midnight release of the Kinect, there were four posts, all dated minutes after each other, that all talked about how the Kinect was the end all of gaming, how they had been using if for weeks, and how they were getting rid of all of their other game systems because they now owned a Kinect. They honestly didn't even have time to fully try out the device, let alone sit down and type out such length blog comments stuffed with praise.
I'm offended by this practice, and unless it is in response to a question posted by one our employees to genuinely answer a question about something, Digital Fruit will never sanction shameless promotional blog comment crap.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Sorry for the wordiness, I've been watching a little too much Shakespeare today, on media I purchased through a retailer. The quality was good enough to really suck me in. Which is my first point. Who really wants to pirate material when the quality is almost always diminished? Any one who goes through the trouble of ripping the content for pirating usually doesn't care what the other person gets, so the quality usually sucks for pirated downloads.
Unless your are part of a new and emerging group of pirates. The rent-it-once-and-watch-it-forever pirates. This group of pirates usually has a decent home computer, with a DVD, or even sometimes a Blu-Ray burner, and rips the disc straight off onto their computer. These pirates have brought high-quality content into the mix.
But this creates a terrible paradox. Because good content is so easy to get for free, yet good content is so expensive to produce, we are beginning to see a world where the quality of our media is deteriorating as our ability to view it is becoming more high tech, with higher quality, and faster speeds. So, now the real question is, do you support these efforts that undermine the quality of your own media experience? The original title of this post was going to be simply 'DRM', as that was what brought this up in my discussion with friends. But isn't it terrible that things have come to that? Where companies are so paranoid about people stealing content that they've gone off the deep end and locked everything down tighter than Fort Knox.
You know, there was a time when there was no DRM, and you could buy something on electronic media with out worrying about it. Now I'm not saying I fully support the big corporations in their endless zeal to take your money, sometimes even more than once for the same product, but I do understand how they want to get paid. A lot of people have worked hard to produce the things you watch and read and hear, and honestly, isn't that what pay people for, hard work? So, in this seemingly failing entertainment industry, maybe all we need is a little honesty, on the part of both parties. Unfortunately the only thing we can fix is ourselves, and hope that everyone else follows.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
But, as when anyone denies human rights, there are those that fight back. Reading an article on another website, I found that there is a group that is fighting back. There efforts haven't restored the full capabilities of the internet Egypt had before, but it is an effort just the same. An example of this revolt is here, on this blog post.
So, here's to the people of Egypt fighting to restore human rights!