Archive for the ‘Cool Net Tricks’ Category

Mint.com for your finances. Hmmm…

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Just a quick note. If you haven’t heard about this new software named Mint I’ll give you a brief summary. Mint is supposed to be a Quicken replacement that is a Web 2.0 looking flashy interface. It shows you how much money you can save by downloading all your financial info and doing some financial voodoo that shows you what it saved you. Sounds great huh?

NOT! I’m sure you know how I feel about strictly online services but if you’re thinking about putting all your bank data online you must be out of your mind crazy. I read security statement and even with 128 bit encryption it still makes me very nervous. Granted, your computer is probably less secure than their servers but who are they? Are they a well known bank? A well known brokerage? No. That just screams stay away. Let other people that don’t read my blog be the crash test dummies.

Look mom. No applications.

Friday, September 7th, 2007

This is a subject that’s boggled my mind for quite some time now. I was reading about someone using Google Calendar and it brought me back to an old belief that I just can’t shake.

Why do we trust Internet applications so much?

The old train of thought was security, security, security. You can’t trust people on the Internet. Why do so many people trust keeping their information somewhere in the world on a server. Do you know who’s watching that server? Do you trust them that much? I’m not saying Google doesn’t have tons of security in place and policies about what people see of your data but I’m nervous using the same password on multiple websites because I’m trusting that it’s being encrypted on their end.

There are so many products now that are online. You don’t even have to have any programs on your PC at all. I LOVE this concept in theory. Zoho offers a full office suite online. It’s a nice solution. Then you have Google’s online applications and Zimbra for email. It’s great but at what cost to you or your company? As rare as it is the Internet has gone down for some crazy reason your Internet provider gives. Your whole company is totally offline now and can’t work because all their applications are on line.

Here’s your handy computer guys’ prescription but please tell me your thoughts on this issue. I say if you want the mobility to go to any computer and do work anywhere, fine. Get a USB memory stick and go to www.portableapps.com and get the products you want and put them on the stick and save to the stick. If you just want to have applications like the big boys but don’t want to spend the big boys money there are open source applications like OpenOffice and Thunderbird that do more than some of the expensive Microsoft applications… or just check www.sourceforge.net for more programs. I love the OpenOffice route because it works on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

In short, I love these online programs but I’m just too paranoid about using them. It’s like living in room with mirrors and you don’t know what’s on the other side of the walls. All the mirrors could be double sided and you’re just being watched like a police station interrogation room. If you’re the person who believes he has nothing to hide or steal I can find some identity fraud criminal that would love to talk to you.

Help fight spam with Project Honeypot

Monday, July 30th, 2007

In a random web search I came across this website and found myself blessed in finding it. It’s called Project Honeypot it’s a simple idea that could really help. It’s an attempt to stop spammers by giving them what’s called “honey pots.” Basically, what a honey pot is is a way to weed out hackers by giving them a server that looks good for the taking once they get in but they don’t realize that it’s there on purpose to stall them and gather information about them while they’re looking for bad things to do.

Spammers go about collecting addresses off web pages for the most part. Say for instance your company has a website and they mention you and your email address. Spammers have “bots” that just search the web looking for email addresses to grab and then they send out emails. This project makes honey pots of websites with email addresses. The second a spammer sends an email to that address it updates a list that reports him as a spammer.

It still has a couple rough edges but you might want to give this a try.

RealPlayer 11 – Best new application of the year? Maybe.

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

realplayer11-main.jpg

An email request was sent to me by a friend of mine named Belinda about what she thought would be really groundbreaking news. This marketing exec extraordinaire need the scoop so I had to check this out. Your friendly neighborhood computer guy was hot on the case.
The application was the old school media favorite RealPlayer with a new facelift and a couple of new features. I’ve been well versed in the Real product line for quite some time. It’s been a great program to me but for some reason I have found it’s support of some codecs and the download of compatible ones to have many needs to be desired when great programs like VLC have less glitz but get the job done.

RealPlayer has put in a little glitz but it has one great super fantastic thing. It will save videos from the web to your hard disk. Yes, that is what it sounds like. You can go on youtube.com and see a video you like and save it to your hard drive. Watch it over and over again or give it to a friend (let’s get back to that friend part in a moment). Once installed it will make Firefox and Internet Explorer have a little box on the cursor whenever you move the mouse over a web video using Flash, Mpeg4, and a lot more. Seeing as how the beta will be available to the general public in a matter of days I expect more codecs will be added before the final release. This is as groundbreaking as Belinda thought it would be. I got kind of excited of using this oldie but goodie. However, I found a couple chinks in it’s armor that the future may hold.

The Rhapsody music system was easy to get up and running and is a good iTunes on some levels but seriously NOTrealplayer_.jpg iTunes (even though I’ve said why I really don’t like iTunes article:”iTunes sucks”) but still not shabby.

The most serious problem is Digital Rights Management (DRM) compliance. Real has stated for the record that they will comply with whatever DRM a website has in place. This hurts the internet in a couple ways. DRM is a tricky subject that I won’t throw in my two cents right now. However, Apple has in the last couple weeks that it is now against DRM and is trying to figure out it’s exit strategy for using it but may not totally come for at least a year or more if ever. This move by Real will fuel it. What will happen is sites like youtube.com will lose the exposure that they enjoy if people start copying their videos off and sharing them without using a youtube link. Thus their next logical option will be to DRM all of their content to stop RealPlayer from taking the content and spreading it through more nefarious means.

Will DRM become rampant on the internet to stop RealPlayer’s cool new features? Is the demise of DRM still imminent?

My take is, RealPlayer is real big and really nice. Definitely worth trying out the second it becomes available. Save a couple of videos for your personal collection. The file naming convention still has a couple tweaks needed to smoothly put your saved files where you want in a nice way but that also may be tweaked soon. Hopefully, Real puts all these features in the open source version Helix. This way programmers all over the internet will take out the icky problem that they may great.

I LOVE KIDS!!!

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

What’s new today is the refreshing attitude of a child.  That can actually be new everyday.

I have 4 children ranging from a teenager graduating from High School to a 5 year old girl that wants to play with Barbies.  What I must highly recommend is letting your children get their feet wet starting early on in their lives.  I must admit that my house is more teched out than most however, even when my older children were young and we didn’t have all the toys we play with now I used the same philosophy.  Get them to using your computer starting at age 3.

Now, now.  Don’t be scared.  All the spreadsheets won’t get erased during a game of Hannah Montana on Disney Channel. I would warn you though to make sure to move most if not all of your links or programs that are on your desktop into folders elsewhere on you computer before letting them run wild.  Browsers crash or get minimized by accident sometimes and there are all those great pictures that they can move or delete.

Here’s some good ideas:

For young children:  www.pbskids.org , www.noggin.com, www.disneychannel.com, and of course www.barbie.com .

Preteens:  www.cartoonnetwork.com, www.math.comkids.yahoo.com and www.discoverychannel.com

Trust me.  HOURS of wholesome entertainment and learning that can keep them occupied and mentally stimulated.

Two caveats though.  Your kids do need to get out and play and not sit at the computer all day.  Secondly, PLEASE make sure to run anti-virus and spyware/adware scans often.  You don’t want pop-ups coming up while your child is focused on the right thing only to see half naked girls or a casino.

Apple’s Safari on your Windows PC?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

I know. All you Mac lovers stuck on a PC are telling me SHUT UP! Yes it is true. Apple’s web browser Safari is now available on the PC. Apple wants to join the ranks of Firefox and Internet Explorer in running on every platform. Check it out at: www.apple.com/safari .

Safari screenshot

True cross platform would involve Linux though, people at Apple. Let’s get on the ball since Apple is running a Unix OS under the hood so it seems like it would be so much easier but I digress.

Check it out and tell me if it’s faster than the other web browsers like it says. Honestly, I still think that the Opera browser is the fastest but I haven’t given this one a good try yet. Come on though. Firefox and it’s plugins are digital manna from heaven so I’m not switching.

Emotional support rather than tech support

Monday, June 11th, 2007

With Father’s day on the way it may seem a little inappropriate but I’d like to give homage to my wife.  I think that a great source for your career motivation can be the person that is right there all the time and hopefully helping motivate you to keep living.

That’s the excitement in life.  Finding new vigor in what you do from someone that doesn’t know anything about it.  My wife had become inspired by blogging (specialedandme.wordpress.com) and has put a lot of time and effort into it.  She’s been reaping the rewards of her work lately with successful links and reviews lately and pushing me to further my own blogging.  Who would have thought that you’d find insight into what you do from someone that’s new to it.

That’s the joy of teaching.  I love to push the bike until the training wheels fall of and the child peddles away into the sunset. She’s now officially the Blogmeister.

Are we too connected? Now there’s Jaiku

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Do you… Jaiku?
I’m an addict of the internet. I do it so that I’ll have great things to bring you. I’m on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, Frappr, Digg, etc, etc, etc. Now, I just joined a site called Jaiku. Jaiku is like Twitter in that you can get constant information on where your friends are and what they are doing if they type it on the computer or on their cell phone.

Let’s start by saying, I’m not a very secretive guy. However, the thought of putting so much about me out there to everyone seemed silly to me just a little while ago. How does the internet end up stripping this ideal of protected information from our minds? Do we all just need one more “friend” on Myspace to be comfortable? Maybe if you tell me you’re having fun at a party on Twitter I will be validated because you thought to write.
I liken it to riot mentality. Normal people that are usually civil are found to be in the middle of riots. They will burn down buildings and trash cars like all the others. Why? Like a river all the molecules of water start working together and form a perfect object. What will this riot mentality body of Internet users become?

I don’t know but I want you to be my friend. Instant Message me on AIM, be my friend on Myspace, link me to what sites your looking at on Del.icio.us or tell me what you’re doing on Jaiku. After this site I’m truly done. I will truly feel complete!!!

On second thought let me check Plaxo and see if I’m in this all alone. Jaiku me soon (I love weird names like that).