Wednesday, March 30, 2011


We were working on a camera review for our next newsletter issue today and ran into something very interesting. We took the packaging off of a Vivitar ViviCam 8400 Underwater Camera and got ready to review it. We opened the battery cover and looked inside to see how many batteries we needed. How many did we need? None!!!

The inside of the plastic case was empty! It was a dummy case with no functioning parts! Our guess is that it was a trade show dummy that got sent to us by mistake. At least we hope that's the case. What if Sakar/Vivitar's quality assurance program is so bad that this could slip by?

Who knows? Not us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pentax reviews

Over the weekend we finished up our Pentax camera reviews that will be in our next newsletter issue and they turned out great. The new Pentax dSLR and lenses are wonderful and we highly recommend them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Diskeeper 2011

We saw this today and want to pass it on:

Diskeeper Corporation today announced the release of Diskeeper® 2011 data performance software which includes new technology to give optimum system performance always. Diskeeper Corporation has long been the leader in performance and reliability technologies and this new version marks another milestone in bringing together technology to take any Windows® system up to optimum performance.

Efficient Mode new in Diskeeper 2011 minimizes the time and resources used by Diskeeper to restore and maintain peak performance and reliability. New Efficient Mode is smart enough to detect fragmentation that is a problem and targets it for priority handling. The software further contains two unique technologies closely married together to achieve the ultimate in system performance: IntelliWrite® technology to prevent up to 85% of fragmentation before it ever happens—an industry first—and New Instant Defrag™ which understands how files are used and immediately defrags the ones that will be used right now.
Brandon Butler of Professional Medical Services stated,” The instant defrag is a huge thing for us in this IT department.” And further said, “Having this instant defrag is shortening the time it takes to place the machines back in use. I have always been impressed with Diskeeper, but this version shows the dedication your company has with making each PC run at optimal speed.”

“I've used Diskeeper since the early 90's and with each version, the improvements have made my job much easier and have saved the county many thousands of dollars as our systems have lasted longer than the counties old and new rotation mandate for systems. The new feature, efficient mode, helps to keep the system in constant maintenance, which keeps it from being fragmented with sluggish responses. Benefits are savings in both personal time and cost of replacing a system that now can operate for even more years,” said Gary McDonald, San Joaquin County Public Health Services.
The need for more data and faster processing is growing enormously for everybody which is evident in new storage technologies. System resource wastes; such as disk space, I/O, resources, and unnecessary hardware expenditures also magnifies throughout networks, driving up operating costs. As the IT environment becomes more complex, performance bottlenecks in the underlying infrastructure magnify throughout a site and seriously impact productivity. With Diskeeper 2011, major improvement in system efficiency and a significant reduction in the entire site’s operating costs are achieved.

Foe more information go to

Monday, March 21, 2011

April newsletter

Our April newsletter issue went out today. It has some great articles and just let me know if you didn't get the issue.

Friday, March 18, 2011

VIA ARTiGO deal for teachers and students

 We just found out that VIA is offering a 20% discount for teachers and students who want to build an ARTiGO 1100 system. Fnd the details here:

Free Defrag software

We received this information yesterday:

IObit, one of the biggest software vendors for system utilities and security software, today announced a new version of their free disk defragment software - Smart Defrag 2. With a brand new user interface, this version is equipped with the unique "boot-time defrag" feature and improved defrag engine. The exiting features in previous versions are also greatly improved.

Smart Defrag 2 is one of the only few disk defragment tools that has a "boot-time defrag" or "startup defrag" feature. Using the "Boot Time Defrag" technology Smart Defrag 2 can defrag files during the system boot process, while these files cannot be defragged or are not safe to move after the system is already boot-up. These files include pagefile, hibernation file, MFT, and system files.

Using IObit's latest defrag engine, Smart Defrag 2 has not only the world's fastest defragmenting speed but also the most advanced defragmenting ability. It works automatically and quietly in the background, so it continually and constantly keeps your computer fragment-free. It's been specially designed for modern, large hard drives.

Smart Defrag 2 doesn't just provide simple defragmentation. It also streamlines your file system, places the frequently used files and directories into the fastest area of the disk, enabling your computer to run at top speed with the most stability.

"You don't need to pay a penny for keeping your disk running fast and stably", Said Kevin Zhou, Marketing Director of IObit, "just install Smart Defrag 2 and forget it, and simply your PC is running faster!"

Smart Defrag 2 is 100% freeware designed for Windows 7, Vista, XP and 2000. For more information of Smart Defrag 2, please visit

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts on the new Pentax camera

We posted the Pentax OPTIO RS1500 announcement earlier this evening and I've had some thoughts I wanted to share. The RS1500 will be a perfect fit as a company issued camera for many companies. I'm thinking of sectors like real estate and insurance where agents need to have a camera to take picture very often.

Why the RS1500 as opposed to other models? The skins! Every camera can have the company's custom logo on it. It's great advertising that will cost VERY little to implement. I can see all of our columnists carrying RS1500 cameras with the MCC logo on them when they cover any event. Every vendor we see will know instantly who we are. In addition, if you put the camera down and forget to pick it up again whoever finds it will know who it belongs to!

Maybe I should get into marketing!!

A new Pentax camera

We received information on a new Pentax digital camera today and it sounds like a perfect fit for people who want to customize their electronics. Here's the announcement:

PENTAX Imaging Company announced the infinitely customizable Optio RS1500 digital compact camera.  The new PENTAX Optio RS1500 is easy to use and easy to dress to match the personality and style of its owner.  This cosmetically customizable digital camera features a new removable PENTAX-ordinal faceplate system featuring a no-hassle screwless faceplate design and interchangable lens ring snap (choice of orange or black included) to hold custom skins of any personal choice or design.  Now, users may change the camera's appearance in three easy steps without the need for additional tools.

The design possibilities for the Optio RS1500 are infinite.  Owners may skin this newest Optio to match an event, a sports team, a milestone, a corporate identity, a season, and so much more.

There are a couple of ways to personalize the PENTAX Optio RS1500:
1)    Immediately dress the camera in a choice of 10 skins with contemporary designs that ship with the product simply by adding a skin, replacing the faceplate panel, and snapping on the lens ring.
2)    Visit the PENTAX SKINS Gallery at or download the PENTAX PERSONAL SKIN DESIGNER Adobe Air-based software from Use the digital designer to import a photo or digital image and save a skin as a PDF for printing on a color printer.

Besides a unique, completely customizable design, the Optio RS1500 features 14 megapixels, a large three inch LCD monitor, a high-performance 4X optical zoom lens covering 27.5mm wide angle to 110mm telephoto and simple, user-friendly operation.  Encased in a lightweight body about the size of a credit-card, the Optio RS1500 is compact enough to carry anywhere.  Available in pearl white or silver, this latest PENTAX Optio will ship in April 2011 at $149.95 USD.

More information is available here:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Free cloning software

We received this offer today and thought our readers might like it:

EASEUS Todo Backup, the award-winning backup and disaster recovery solution for the Windows environment, features hard drive and partition clone capabilities to simplify the process of upgrading a hard disk or transferring files to a new hard disk drive for Windows Server 2000/2003/2008 and Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7.  
EASEUS Todo Backup can clone Windows Operating System hard drives and other non-system disks exactly in order to upgrade the hard disk to a new and larger one, saving your time and troubles to reinstall Windows and all applications. It's comfortable to use with a sleek interface that guides you through the whole process of cloning a hard drive step-by-step.
With the most popular file systems, FAT and NTFS, supported, this clone software can duplicate any hard drive under Windows. Moreover, to clone a Linux Ext2 and Ext3 partition will be an easy task via sector by sector clone. EASEUS Todo Backup helps clone a hard drive to any other hard drives, even with a different interface, like from SATA to SCSI. For better disk management, it allows you to resize the hard disk partition during cloning.
Meanwhile, to clone or restore an operating system to dissimilar hardware, Universal Restore built-in to EASEUS Todo Backup is included. As for cloning Server hard drives, this Windows Server cloning software is highly recommended; it will clone the entire hard drive for disk upgrading, saving a lot of time to deploy a new hard disk on Windows Server.
EASEUS Todo Backup has been called the best drive cloning backup software by one CNET editor: "EASEUS Todo Backup is a simple, free disk clone tool for Windows and we are impressed on how well this product looks and performs."
Pricing & Availability
EASEUS Todo Backup Home, free for home users, is available at:
EASEUS Todo Backup Workstation for $39.00 is available online at:
EASEUS Todo Backup Server, at 35% off special offer, now for $129.35 (normally $199) is available at:

Another MSFT failure?

The rumor mill says that MSFT will be pulling the plug on their Zune soon. It looks like another of their iFruit catch-ups has proven to be a dud. Of course no one at MSFT will say anything about the pending demise of the hardware Zune. Perhaps they're waiting for their port to their phones to be big success.

MSFT has been chasing the iFruit company for ages and continues to fail every time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Free software

We received this offer today and thought we'd pass it on. We haven't tested it so you're on your own as to wether it's worth the price (free).

Today announces PDF To JPG, a new windows
freeware which helps users to convert the documents in
PDF format to 5 image formats like JPG, TIF, BMP, PNG,
and GIF. The utility states to be 160% faster than all
the other PDF converters. Now PDF To JPG is totally free
and available on the official site:

PDF to JPG was created to assist users to convert PDF
documents into JPG, TIF or the other image formats mentioned
above and get images which they can use when ever required.
It is also useful when Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
is to be done. OCR comes in handy when books or documents
needed to be coded into electronic files, to convert the record
keeping system in electronic or computerized form and activities
of similar type. The PDF to JPG application is a convenient tool
enabling users to perform a variety of transformations of documents.

As a practical application, PDF To JPG supports the batch
mode allowing users to turn myriads of PDF documents into
images at a single time. It is extremely user friendly;
most of all it does not require Adobe Acrobat or other
third-party software, making conversions all the more
quicker and easier in only 3 clicks. This makes it a must
have. Plus, it also enables the users to convert the DPI
(Dots per inch) setting for having a finer image result.
PDF to JPG has not even a single spyware and adware
attached to it, 100% clean and safe.

Casio TRYX launch event

We received this press release today and thought our readers may want to attend:

Casio America, Inc. today announced that consumers throughout the U.S. will now have a chance to attend the exclusive TRYX OUT: NYC 2011 launch party at the Best Buy Theater in New York City. By simply registering for a free account with Casio’s new Imaging Square network service, consumers will automatically be entered in a sweepstakes to win one of five, all expense paid trips for themselves and a guest to TRYX OUT: NYC 2011, or one of 12 TRYX cameras. To register and for the complete list of rules and regulations, please, visit the Casio Facebook page at
The official launch party for Casio’s much anticipated and groundbreaking TRYX digital camera, TRYX OUT: NYC 2011 takes place April 7th and will feature the Grammy award-winning Roots with a special guest performance by Nicki Minaj, one of hip-hop’s hottest female artists. Attendees will be able to experience these riveting performances and be one of the first in the country to get a firsthand look at the Casio TRYX before it hits store shelves. 

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for hip-hop fans,” said Toshi Iguchi, Senior General Manager, Digital Imaging Division, Casio America Inc. “Now, no matter where they may be, fans will have a chance to join Nicki Minaj and The Roots in the heart of New York City as they help Casio celebrate the launch of the TRYX with one of their electrifying performances at the Best Buy Theater.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Are any of our regular readers attending SXSW? We've thought about attending in the past and wonderif it will be worth while? Does anyone have any thoughts?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan tragedy

I lived in Japan in the late 1960s and found it to be one of the most beautiful and wonderful places on Earth. These links are thanks to our friend Steve Bass:

By now you've heard that Japan was hit by an 8.9 earthquake. The huge earthquake was incredibly destructive and there's definitely more bad news to come.
I've watched YouTube videos to get a better handle on what happened. There's some from major news sources, but also lots of amateur footage. I've listed what I found the most compelling below.
The latest news: NHK TV (English) [Go fullscreen]
Yes, that's a building going into the water!

At about one minute into the video, you see the tsunami roll on land and crush whatever's in its path, includes houses. Chilling.

Aerial video from town closest to Japan's mega-quake epicenter

Tsunami flood waters rush over town in Japan

Stunning photos: Before and after the Japan earthquake.
Japan earthquake caught on camera live (amateur video)

Scenes from the airport

Tsunami surge (news)

Tsunami demolishes Japan's north coast CNN Video

Street in Japan 'moving like an island' (amateur forage via CNN News)

Whirlpool off the coast of Japan

Images from CNBC

Impact on California coast

Santa Cruz video

Crescent City, California amateur time lapse video (turn down the column)

These three videos show how far out the water pulled back in Crescent City, California
Video one
Video two
Video three
Santa Cruz wave surge along docking area. Another from local news station.

Surge in Brookings, Oregon
If you're concerned about someone in Japan, look at the Google Crisis Response.

Monday, March 7, 2011

LensPen SideKick

One of the coolest products we saw at CES this year was the LensPen SideKick. Today we received an update on pricing and availability. Here's the news:

iPads and tablets are great, stylish products. Music, movies, the internet – all with a simple touch of the screen. But that simple touch-screen action leaves a trail of greasy fingerprints that soon cover the whole surface and reminds us that with every use it’s time for a cleaning. A rub on your shirtsleeve isn’t effective, and you quickly find that sprays, tissues and cloths are not convenient and only make the fingerprint mess even worse.

SideKick™ by LensPen® is a new screen cleaning tool specially designed to remove fingerprints from iPads and tablet touch-screens. There are no tissues, no cloths, no sprays and no liquids. SideKick features the same carbon technology used in other LensPen products to remove fingerprints and greasy blemishes from camera lenses and other fine optics.

 “It’s not high tech, it’s old tech,” said Peter Meurrens, Vice President of Operations at Parkside Optical and inventor of SideKick. “My grandmother knew how to clean an iPad, she just didn’t know it.” SideKick’s carbon compound is similar to the one found in printer’s ink; why newspapers have been an effective way to clean windows for generations. 

“When you get a fingerprint on a lens or a computer screen, it’s a mistake,” Meurrens said. “But when you get fingerprints on an iPad, it means you’re using it! We cleaned the screens of hundreds of iPads and tablets when we introduced SideKick at CES and Macworld in January, and it removed the fingerprints every time.”
Suggested retail for SideKick is $14.95. A package of two replacement cleaning pads is $9.95. Each pad gives 150 cleanings.

For more information on SideKick, as well as other LensPen products, go to Watch a SideKick product demonstration at

Smartphone numbers

I just read an interesting article on smartphones. Google's Android phones continue their steady climb and look like a real winner. Please take note that Apple remains stagnant at below 25%, a classic Apple niche market. It also looks like MSFTs phone efforts are failing already. Their share of the smartphone market is in decline and that's not good news for them. Considering how small their share was, it could spell disater. This can't be good news for Nokia.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fruit news

This posting is for any of our readers who live under a rock and don't get their geek news from any other source.

Yesterday the Chief Fruit-monger of The Big Fruit Company (Apple) announced their latest hunk of produce. The iPad2 was announced to all of the usual hysteria.

If you want to know more just pick up any print publication or look at any of a gazillion web sites. As for me, I'm tired of the fan-boys and fan-girls already. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Pentax camera

We received information on a new Pentax digital camera today. Here's the announcement:

PENTAX Imaging Company announced the PENTAX Optio S1 digital compact camera with advanced, easy-to-use features and an eye-catching, gem-like finish. Available in striking Chrome or a glossy Black or Green, the Optio S1 is a fashionable and elegant digital camera with an ultralight body featuring:
  • ·   A high resolution 14 megapixel sensor for exceptional image detail.
  • ·   Wide angle 5X optical zoom lens (28-140mm) for flexible image framing.
  • ·   Ample2.7 inch LCD for easy capture and playback of images and video.
  • ·   Sensor-shift PENTAX Shake Reduction (SR) system for sharp low light and telephoto images.
  • ·   Widescreen 720p HD video capture.
  • ·   Powerful PENTAX Auto Picture modefor set-it-and-forget-it shooting convenience.
  • ·   Fast Face Detection, Smile Capture, and Blink Detection for perfect portraits.
  • ·   High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode for outstanding detail in wide exposure images (new to PENTAX digital compact cameras).
  • ·   PENTAX infrared remote control (remote purchased separately).
With meticulous attention given to every design detail, the ultra-compact Optio S1 is the perfect choice for digital photographers who want a very capable, yet elegant and classy, digital camera.

The PENTAX Optio S1 is available for pre-order now on the

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tax information

We received this from TaxACT today:

March 1 was the first tax filing deadline set in 1913. Fast forward to 2011 and the deadline is almost 50 days later. Though tax day has changed, the fact that tax law changes a lot hasn't. Neither has taxpayer procrastination.
Whether your readers, listeners or viewers file today or on April 18, here's what they need to know about this year's tax law changes:
  • New or increased tax breaks include the self-employed health insurance deduction, increased standard mileage rates and elimination of modified AGI limit for Roth IRA conversions.
  • While there aren't as many new credits or deductions as last year, many were extended or will expire after this year, including:
    1. Children & dependents: expanded dependent care, increased child tax, employer expenses for child care assistance, and third-child earned income tax credits
    2. Education: educator expense deduction, tuition and fees deduction, American Opportunity Credit, student loan interest deduction, increased Coverdell Education Savings Account contribution amounts, and employer-provided educational assistance
    3. Homeowners: nonbusiness energy and first-time homebuyer credits
    4. Itemizers: option to itemize State and local sales taxes
    5. Others: Making Work Pay credit and alternative motor vehicle credits
  • Taxpayers who claimed the First-time Homebuyer Credit on 2008 returns must start repaying the credit on this year's return.
Following a few simple preparation tips can save taxpayers time, money and headaches.
  1. We have 3 extra days to file this year, but why wait? Previously delayed returns with the tuition fees deduction, the educator expense deduction or Schedule A are being processed by the IRS without issue now. Procrastination can lead to stress and increased chance for error. Those who owe taxes can file now and schedule an electronic payment anytime between now and April 18. The IRS has yet to release a few forms; however, those don't apply to the majority of taxpayers.
  2. Double check spelling of names, birth dates, SSNs, bank account information, etc. The IRS rejects returns if data doesn't match their or the Social Security Administration's records.
  3. E-file unless claiming the First-time Homebuyer and Adoption Credits (the IRS requires returns with those credits to be mailed with specific documentation).
  4. Choose tax preparation software or online solutions wisely. Most free solutions, in particular, offer limited forms and features, and state prices widely vary. TaxACT Free Federal Edition is the most complete free solution, and it's NOT just for simple returns. Everyone can prepare and e-file their federal return free, whether they itemize, have business income, investments, are self-employed or have rental income. TaxACT Free Edition also includes free e-mail tax and technical help, maximum refund and accuracy guarantees, data import from a PDF of last year's return prepared by 11 software solutions, and audit assistance. Automatic 6-month filing extensions can also be filed free. Try it risk-free at
  5. Adjust 2011 federal withholding to account for the Making Work Pay credit that expires this year and the 2011 payroll tax holiday.
Visit to learn more about tax law changes and TaxACT products.