Thursday, September 30, 2010

MSFT Money alert

If you're a MSFT Money user tommorrow is a big day. Here's the information:

Online Banking Services Changing in October
Beginning October 1, 2010, Microsoft Money will disable online banking services for all accounts that use a third party provider. Microsoft Money will continue supporting services with direct connections to a financial institution until online services are discontinued on January 31, 2011. Please see the following KB article for more information on how to identify accounts that may be disabled and instructions on how to proceed:

Wired and wireless

Last night I was trying to fall asleep and was just tossing and turning. I had taken some non-drowsey allergy pills and I was wired. Normally I sleep soundly since I got my CPAP machine a few years ago. But not last night.

Lying in bed and thinking about being "wired" I started writing a review in my head for the "wireless" Logitech trackball I'm currently evaluating. If I only had a brainwave transcriber I'd have the whole review written by now!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RIM tablet

This week Research In Motion showed their new tablet device that is scheduled for delivery in early 2011. The OS will be a new version of their Blackberry OS specifically designed for the tablet.

The device is small and light weight with a 7" LCD. Resolution is 1024x600 WSVGA and it has a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. Hmmmmm, those specs sound familiar. I know, it's a Netbook with a touch screen instead of a keyboard!

RIM was very careful to avoid mentioning price or battery life. To me that means the current battery life sucks and they want to price it a high as the market will bear.

Will it be too little too late? We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I have always been an anti-texting person. I know it's the way young people communicate today but I'm stiil against it. Learn to look people in the eye and actually talk to them people!! It's called "talking" and it's far more powerful than typing cryptic notes.

A study just came out that shows anti-texting while driving laws are increasing accidents, Why you ask? Because idiots are texting with their phones held so low they can't be seen from outside! Of course they can't see out of the windshield of the car they're driving either but sending a stupid text is more important than watching the road!

Let's hope they all kill themselves (without endangering any innocent bystanders) and improve the gene pool in the country.

Friday, September 24, 2010


We received this information from IOLO Labs and thought it would be on interest to our readers:

iolo Labs Discovers Two New Root Causes of PC Slowdown
In addition to hardware limitations and malicious infections, iolo Labs identifies Nine Root Causes of PC Slowdown which lead to performance loss over time

LOS ANGELES, CA – September 24, 2010 – Following nearly a year of research, iolo Labs, iolo technologies’ independent research arm, has discovered two new key factors that result in the symptomatic loss of computer performance over time.

While it is commonly known that hardware limitations such as inadequate memory levels, low storage capacity, processor bottlenecks, or even malicious software infections can hinder computer speed, the universal – and more entropic – phenomenon of gradual and ongoing degradation of PC performance with continued use remains unexplained by these hardware-based factors and has confounded computer users for decades. Since 1998, iolo Labs has analyzed millions of PCs in an effort to quantify the seemingly inevitable performance entropy that occurs during everyday computing use, and to create software and tools that can effectively reverse and prevent it. With the addition of two newly identified factors - program misalignment caused by file system entropy, and resource deadlock caused by incremental software redundancy - iolo Labs now counts a total of nine root causes of PC slowdown.

Nine Root Causes of PC Slowdown
1. Program misalignment
Slow start-up, sluggish program behavior
2. Available RAM decline
Universal system slowdown
3. Windows start-up bottlenecks
Slow Windows start-up
4. Redundant programs
Lock-ups, general system slowdown
5. Mismatched internet settings
Lost connections, slow internet browsing
6. Registry errors
Unpredictable hesitations and freezes
7. Registry bloat
Universal system slowdown
8. Fragmented system files
Excessive hard drive churn, freezes
9. Accumulated clutter
Sluggish behavior, premature drive failure

Program Misalignment and Data Entropy
In the 1980s, when programs consisted of single large files, disk defragmenters were invented to ensure those files were stored contiguously on the hard drive, thus reducing drive head movement needed to read them. In today’s world, complex software programs consist of a small main program and potentially hundreds of dependent files. Yet disk defragmenters fail to understand and accommodate the critical interdependencies and relationships between each program and its supporting set of dependent files. While the vast arrays of files enabling programs to run may initially be perfectly aligned for maximum performance on a new PC’s hard drive, they tend to become misaligned and scattered across the hard drive as a result of Windows and program updates, and even the act of disk defragmentation itself. iolo Labs refers to the resulting phenomenon as File System Entropy. As the level of entropy increases, it causes severe amounts of unnecessary hard drive head movements and overall processing fatigue, which translates into programs that take increasingly longer to load and are progressively less responsive over time.

Redundant Programs and Resource Deadlock
Regularly uninstalling computer programs that aren’t being used has long been a key act of digital housekeeping aimed at freeing up extra storage space and increasing speed by releasing the memory and CPU resources demanded by these programs. However, iolo Labs research has discovered that redundant software – programs that duplicate or overlap in their functions – represent a much greater threat to performance and stability. As multiple programs that attempt to provide the same functionality are run simultaneously, they often end up attempting to “lock” the same vital system resources for their exclusive use. The ensuing phenomenon of resource deadlock nearly always produces acute performance loss and unpredictable freezes, in some cases rendering a machine completely inoperable. iolo Labs research confirms that proactively identifying and removing unused redundant software can be a significant factor in restoring a PC’s speed and stability.

iolo Labs has been working directly with the iolo technologies engineering team to aid in the development of tools that effectively pinpoint and address these newly discovered root causes of PC slowdown.  These new tools are planned for general public availability later this month as part of the company’s anticipated System Mechanic 10 product release.

Free AntiVirus software

I recently was introduced to a free anti-virus software product. The maker of Comodo AntiVirus has challenged Symantec to a head-to-head competition to see who makes the better product and that intrigued me. I went to their web and downloaded the free version to give it a try.

I've been running it for a few days now and I have been very pleased with nthe results. I'll write a full review after I've had a chance to wring it out a bit more.

If you want to try it yourself go to

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Problem resolved

Yesterday's frustrating efforts to remove FailSafe from a Netbook computer I'm testing finally has reached a happy ending. After my first call to tech support I tried the online chat support and got nowhere fast. The tech I chatted with recommending calling again because that was the only way I could get the help I needed.

The second call went better, the person I talked to actually spoke English! After almost an hour of trying everything under the sun he left the case file open and promised he'd call me with a solution when he found one. At 8AM this morning I received a call from him and he had good news. He finally found someone at Phoenix who gave him a link to a removal app. I tried it and it worked!! Yeah!! No more FailSafe!!

 If you have a computer with FailSafe on it and you want to remove it go to and download the file. Run the app and you'll be as happy as I am.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A day of frustration

This has been a frustrating day. It started out with a wasted trip to the AT&T store to correct some cell phone problems. The local store ended up being useless and I had to use their phone support to clear up what should have been a simple fix.

Then came the ultra-frustrating phone call. I have been working on a Netbook review and have encountered an unsolvable problem. The Netbook came pre-loaded with Phoenix FailSafe software and it nags to be installed (and have a paid subscription started). It can't be uninstalled and all of my research indicates that the only solution is to register the software and then end the service. The FailSafe company will then email you an uninstaller.

All well and good except for one thing... the freakin company has gone out of business and the system doesn't work any more!

I finally called Samsung support and spoke to a man who spoke an interesting variation on English. After explaining the problem several times he finally said he knew a solution, do a complete system restore, wiping out everything on the computer. Since there was nothing of value on the Netbook I went ahead and did it.

As I'm sure you can guess all I accomplisehed was to reload all of the crapware that comes on the PC including FailSafe!!! Thanks for nothing Samsung!

Monday, September 20, 2010

October newsletter

The October issue of our newsletter was sent out this morning to all of our subscribers. It has some excellent reviews and how-to articles and should be a "must read" for everyone.

If you're not a subscriber just email me and I'll add you to the subscriber list.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A long weekend

I had a long weekend of technological hardship trying to set up a system in a smallish church. They had limited resources and grandiose desires. By Sunday morning I had resolved all of the problems in my power and all went well at the first service in the church. Thank God.

Friday, September 17, 2010


We've all heard many of the terms that companies use for limited capability software like: time-bomb, crap-ware and nag-ware. MSFT has created a new class, Cripple-ware.  Win7 Starter was the first version we encountered, then we saw the last (probably) version of Works (RIP) and now we've run into the next version of Cripple-ware, Office Starter 2010.

MSFT has decided that rather than provide useful versions of their products for a reasonable price they will tease and tempt buyers into spending money for their far more expensive products. The MSFT Starter products are all garbage, and were designed that way. Reduced work area and forced MSFT ads are irritating beyond belief. The purpose of the starter version is to force the user to BUY a more expensive product.

This is yet another example of why we seldom recommend MSFT products,


I've been testing a Samsung N220 netbook for the past few days. It has far too much pre-installed crapware and time-bomb software for me and my full review in the newsletter will provide details.

The biggest pain in the "bleep" to me is the Phoenix Fail Safe app. An install dialog box keeps popping up and I have to tell it to not continue with the installation. The software isn't listed in the Programs and Features of Win7 so how do you uninstall it? I went to the company's web site and found out the software has been acquired and they are sending out refunds to subscribers.

Let's see.... the software can't be uninstalled and the company that created the nagware is gone. What a bunch of crap!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good Synch review

This is the first part of a review that will be in our next issue. If you're not already a subscriber just email me and you'll be added to our subscriber lise! - Chuck

Siber Systems GoodSynchfor Mac v. 1.4.4

By Bayle Emlien

- a utility that enables users to backup/sync files between any two devices, locally or via web; new version makes file transfers between macs and PCs a breeze
- System requirements: OS 10.4 or better
- download GoodSync for Mac at
- Professional version with unlimited jobs and file synchronization; free Web and toll-free support available for $29.95

You remember Siber Systems, the folks that brought us Roboform password manager and introduced the idea that a jump drive could be more than dumb memory? They’re back with a Mac version of their backup and file synchronization application. The home version is the right price, free. I might want to look at the PC version next, and even the Enterprise version for work. $29 is hardly worth mentioning in comparison to the stress of recreating the contents of one of the office machines.

Why do I need a backup utility for a Mac? Macs never crash, do they? Well, how about making it easier to sync various devices. My iPod has been minimally cooperative about synching with the computer, so–just maybe–I do see that I have a use for GoodSync. And transferring files between the PCs and Macs without a convoluted work-around would be really useful.

Convinced, I spend 2 days getting the Internet to cooperate. Actually, my very tech-savvy friend does that. Sometimes the Internet is that way, especially when you have a project you want to get done now, or sooner.

I check out the short tutorial on the website under How It Works. Looks like all I need is are the half dozen screen shots that walk the user through setting up a job. My kind of housekeeping.

The download process was truly easy. Click on the Download Now button at just like it says. A quick download, maybe a minute. Barely enough time for a sip of coffee. Follow the instructions to drag GoodSync into the Applications folder. I don’t understand why I have to do this manually, but maybe there’s a chance that I’d want it somewhere else and they don’t want to confuse me? (I’m really working hard to not review Macs in general here.) Click on GoodSync in the Applications folder where I’ve been told to put it, figuring I’ll make a short-cut later, when I’ve got things going.

For the rest of the review catch our October issue!!

New Samsung camera family

Samsung has announced a new family of compact digital cameras, the NX100 series. The new line is similar in concept to the Olympus PEN series of interchangeable lens, very compact cameras. I have become a big fan of the Olympus cameras and I can't wait to try the new Samsung cameras.

In the pics Samsung has released an external viewfinder is shown and that's a big plus. I always use one on my E-PL1 and wouldn't give the NX100 a second thought without it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Free eBook

MSFT has made an eBook on online security that is aimed at teens available for free download. I've downloaded the PDF version and will take a look at it today. If hyou're interested the book is available at:

Friday, September 10, 2010

New PENTAX cameras

Pentax just announced their new digital cameras, both compacts and a new dSLR.

The compacts are the Optio RS1000 and the RZ10. The RS1000 will appeal to people who like to customize their personal electronic. You'll be able to change the skin on the camera to have it look the way you want it to. It will ship with 11 skins and a gift card to for ones you can design yourself. They even have downloadable software, Pentax Personal Skin Designer, that you can use. It will ship inj October for $149.95.

The dSLR is the K-r and it has all of the features you would expect from a high quality Pentax camera. It is also available in a number of colors to appeal to people who want a camera to reflect their personal style. I'm a basic black kind of guy but I know a lot of people who will want other colors. It will be available in October also.

For a lot more information go to www,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apple relents

The all-powerful Wizard of Apple has graciously allowed mere mortals to once again develop apps for his devices!! I guess we should all fall down on our knees and sing his praise. The official word is:

We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.
In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What a day!

As a minor project today I decided to do a quick upgrade to our office LAN. As a result, I'm approaching suicidal. All I was doing was changing wireless routers to give some of our users a bit faster connection. Oh boy, was I wrong about the quick part!!

Most of the network is functioning fine again but our wireless printers are driving me nuts! I remember talking to a tech at a Showstopper event in Vegas many years ago when they first provided us with WiFi for our stories. When he was confounded by problems he looked at me and said: "it's radio and it's more magic than technology". Amen brother!!

Catching up

I'm finally getting caught up with my to-do list. I finished up my emails yesterday and will start some serious writing this afternoon. In between articles I still need to do some long term planning for upcoming issues. It looks like I'll be busy for a while!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer vacations

Summer vacations are finally over, Labor Day has passed and it's back to work for everyone. You can expect many more posts now that we're all back in the office and can keep up with the news in the tech world.