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News Article: Being Smart About Web Mail October 9, 2008

Posted by Mike in Learning, News, Online Service, Passwords, PC ABCs, Technology.
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Read Michael Horowitz’s article, originally posted on CNET News, for some good common sense practices to help secure your web mail account on Yahoo, GMAIL, Hotmail and others.

Being Smart About Web Mail

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Learn About a Key Difference between the New Blackberry Storm and the Apple iPhone October 9, 2008

Posted by Mike in Apple, Blackberry, News, Reviews, Technology, Worth a Look.
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Read this article from Internetnews.com to get detailed information on how the Blackberry touch screen will differ from the Apple iPhone’s:

Smartphone Success May be in the Touch

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Yahoo has high hopes for calendar makeover October 8, 2008

Posted by Mike in News, Online Service, Organize, Worth a Look, Yahoo.
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The Internet pioneer will revamp its online calendar starting Wednesday. New: subscriptions, sharing, and targeted advertisements for events.

View Original Article

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Verizon officially debuts RIM BlackBerry Storm October 8, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blackberry, News, Reviews, Technology, Worth a Look.
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Research In Motion and Verizon Wireless officially announce the first touch-screen BlackBerry, and CNET gets a hands-on look.

View Original Article

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Election 2008: Find Senate Voting Records Online October 2, 2008

Posted by Mike in Learning, News, Online Service, Worth a Look.
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Here’s a link to McCain’s Senate voting record.

Here’s a link to Obama’s Senate voting record.

Forget the hype.

Forget the spin.

Ignore the commercials, the editorials and the talking heads.

Watch the debates, but compare what is said with their past voting history.

Take a few minutes to review the Senate voting records of our 2 presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama.

The Washington Post has compiled this information on ALL members of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives:

The links have additional information on the 2 men, but the voting records should provide a good indication where the candidate’s stand on a variety issues.

The Internet has put the facts at your fingertips. Reading them is up to you.

Remember to vote in November!


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CPR – Cell Phone Repair Service in the Bay Area September 11, 2008

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, Technology, Worth a Look, Worth the Money.
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Mobile phones are more indispensable than ever. And, more expensive than ever if you’ve got a smart one that can do everything but cook dinner for you.

At any rate, the folks at CPR in San Jose, CA can help you fix that phone when you drop it or damage it. If you don’t live in the San Francisco Bay Area, then you’re still able to get a phone repaired by shipping them the damaged phone.

One of my colleagues took a few phones there and said the prices are reasonable and the service is good. Cell Phone Repair will also provide you with free estimates so that you’ll know how much money it will cost before deciding to fix it.

One of the postcards I’ve received from them states the following:

  1. Authorized repair center for Motorola, Samsung, LG, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Sanyo.
  2. Most repairs done on the spot.
  3. Repairs include: Liquid damage, cracked LCD, dropped phone, shattered, no sound.
  4. iPod repair also available.

Keep this option in mind if you’d rather pay a little to get a phone fixed instead of paying a lot to get it replaced.


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Election 2008: These Web Sites Verify the Facts September 10, 2008

Posted by Mike in Freebies, News, Online Service, Politics, Technology, Worth a Look.
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Voters in the 2008 Presidential elections deserve to know the facts. Candidates can get carried away with rhetoric at the expense of the facts. FactCheck.org is an unbiased web site dedicated to confirming, clarifying or denying the facts referenced in statements made by Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

As they said on the classic TV show Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Well, that’s all FactCheck.org cares about. They want to help voters understand the facts so that Americans are choosing a President based on substance and not style.

Another web site to visit is PolitiFact.org, which is a service of the St. Petersburg Times/CQ.

Get the facts and make an informed decision this November. Vote for the candidate that you think will help you the most, but please base your vote on substance and not style. America’s future depends on it.

Green Umbrella Offers Cheap Extended Service Plans For Electronics September 7, 2008

Posted by Mike in Hardware, Online Service, Reviews, Technology, Worth a Look.
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For $9.95 per month, Green Umbrella offers ONE extended service plan to cover all kinds of electronic products in your home or office, from alarm clocks to LCD Flat Panels.

Click here for a comprehensive list of covered products.

Here’s a link to frequently asked questions about their service: FAQs

I glanced through some of the FAQs and here are some things to know:

  1. Mobile phones are not covered.
  2. Items that cost greater than $5000 are not covered
  3. You must register your items to be covered with their service
  4. You must have your original receipts to be eligible for coverage.

I have not used them myself. I thought the concept was worth mentioning for people who may want a service plan after the basic or extended warranty runs out their equipment.

If you’ve had an experience with Green Umbrella, good or bad, please share it.

If you use an alternate service that you like, I’d appreciate a comment with that info too!


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Family Fantasy Sports – A Game for All September 6, 2008

Posted by Mike in children, family, Freebies, Fun, Learning, Online Service, Sports, Technology, Worth a Look.
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The NFL Football season begins tomorrow. Millions of men and women will devote hours of time each week playing fantasy football at the expense of family time.

Well, why not include them in the fun?

Fantasy football can easily be enjoyed by families, much like board games or card games.

Don’t overlook its educational possibilities either. Math skills are key to keeping score, so young children can play with an adult and practice their addition, subtraction and multiplication while spending time with Mom and Dad.

Well, now there’s a free fantasy sports site for family fun. Check out http://www.familyfantasysports.com and enjoy the best of both worlds on Sundays this Fall: Family time and football!

Recuva is Terrific Data Recovery Software August 23, 2008

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Reviews, Software, Technology, Worth a Look.
3 comments

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Have you ever emptied the Recycle Bin and instantly regretted it? Well, as most techies will tell you, that data can usually be recovered. With Recuva software, that task is easier than ever.

The user-friendly wizard will help guide basic users. With straightforward questions like “What sort of files are you trying to recover?” and “Where were the files?” and a list of logical answers to select, it is clear to me that the developers at Piriform know the formula for software success: Make it useful, make it easy to use and serve it for free.

Free, easy and useful? You betcha.

Once you’ve answered the questions in the wizard, the program will scan the depths of your hard drive for the lost files. Once the scan is complete, it will display the results in a sensible table with columns labeled “Filename, Path, Last Modified, Size, State, Comment.”

The “State” column contains descriptions like “excellent, very poor and unrecoverable”. This should give the user a clear idea about the data’s chances of being recovered.

The “Comment” column contains statements like, “This file has been overwritten” or “no overwritten clusters detected.”

Check out the screen shots on their web site and you’ll get the idea.

The software can also search for deleted files on media cards or in a folder or directory specified by the user.

There is also an “Advanced Mode” button for those who’d like a few additional options at their disposal.

All in all, I’m very impressed with this program. I’ll tip my hat to the folks at Piriform on a job well done. Of course, I’d expect nothing less from the folks who make the wonderful CCleaner program (also free).

Download Recuva here.

Download Ccleaner here.


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Enroll in Automobile University with an Audio book Service July 17, 2008

Posted by Mike in Freebies, iPod, Learning, Online Service, Technology, Worth a Look, Worth the Money.
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The phrase “Automobile University” will be familiar to anyone who’s read a Zig Ziglar book or heard him speak. It essentially refers to the idea that personal productivity and development can be increased by using commute timecap and gown.jpg for self-improvement and learning. Audio books and podcasts are excellent options for individuals looking to improve their productivity during their daily commute.

Of course, buying audio books isn’t cheap (podcasts are though), but you can take advantage of several online rental services. The various rental plans vary by price and many offer rentals without any late fees or due dates or shipping fees.

The web site eHow offers an article about what you need to do to listen to podcasts.

You can find a variety of inexpensive rental plans and prices from the sites listed below. Some even offer an audio download option , if you’d rather play one on an iPod or other handheld device.

Audio book Rental Services:

  1. Audible.com (celebrating its 10 year anniversary)
  2. SimplyAudiobooks.com offers CD rentals and MP3 downloads.
  3. Booksfree.com offers rentals for audiobooks and good, old fashioned paperbacks.
  4. Audiotogo.com offers a free trial of their service.

Of course, you can rent a good fiction novel to listen to in the car too. With thousands of choices, you’re bound to find a book to make your commute more educational, or at the very least, more enjoyable.

TIP: For many, money is tight these days. If that’s true for you, you may want to visit your local library to see if they carry any audio books. After all, the LIBRARY IS FREE and their selection may surprise you.

Test Driving the Blog Editor in the Flock Browser July 13, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Learning, Online Service, Reviews, Software, Technology.
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The ultra-cool new web browser, Flock, incorporates a blog editor for speedy posting.  I thought I’d try this out with this post.

Here’s how I used the blog editor in Flock:

  1. I surfed the web with Flock for an article to blog about.
  2.  Once I found one, I went to the VIEW menu, the sidebars sub-menu and then clicked on the “Web Clipboard”.
  3. With the web clipboard now a visible column on the left, I dragged/dropped a link and an image onto the sidebar.
  4. Next, I went to the TOOLS menu and chose the “Blog Editor” tool and a new window opened.
  5. On the blog editor window, I again went to the VIEW menu and chose sidebar and clicked on “web clipboard”.
  6. In the blog editor, I see the link and the image that I previously saved to the clipboard in step 3.
  7. I drag n’ drop the saved link and image into the body of the blog editor to use in the post.

All in all,  that’s an easy way to post to your blog from your web browser.  The blog editor is fairly basic, not a lot of whistles and bells, but it’ll help you post quickly.  Here are some of the features included in the blog editor:

  • Choose Font, Size, Bold/Italic/Underline, color
  • Bullets or numbers for creating lists
  • Indent buttons
  • Button to create link
  • Button to insert images (if you haven’t used the web clipboard)

Before Flock can send the post to your blog, you’ll need to configure your blog account into the Flock blog editor. It can be configured for a blog hosted on a free service like WordPress.com or a self-hosted blog. This is done from the TOOLS menu in the Blog Editor.

When you’re ready to publish your post, you can choose to create the entry as a new post or to replace an existing one.  You can also assign categories.


SAMPLE LINK:

http://www.engadget.com/ 2008/ 07/ 12/ kodak-intros-the-c913-m1073-is-and-m1063-chea…

SAMPLE IMAGE:

Kodak Cameras

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Ymail – Get the Yahoo Email Name You Always Wanted July 12, 2008

Posted by Mike in Freebies, News, Online Service, Politics, Technology, Worth a Look, Yahoo.
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yahoo-logo.JPGIt’s been said that there is no one else in the world just like you. Well, that’s true. However, the same truism doesn’t apply to your name. If you’re like me, then you discovered that your #1 choice for an email name was already taken when you signed up for the ever-popular Yahoo Mail.

Unless you were an early user on Yahoo or you have a unique name like Barack Obama, chances are you settled for a 2nd choice. The John McCain’s of the world settled for adding numbers or a middle initial, which often causes confusion. (My apologies for the appearance of politics in a tech blog, but it is an election year.)

Well, Yahoo is giving you a second chance to get the name you always wanted….sort of.

INTRODUCING……YMAIL!

(They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so Google should be blushing).

You can now get an email address that ends in @ymail.com. If you already have an @yahoo.com address, you’re not guaranteed to get the same email name with the @ymail.com. In other words, all email names are again up for grabs.

The @ymail.com account can serve as your primary Yahoo ID, if you choose. You’d need to login to Yahoo services with the full email address.

What are you waiting for? First come, first serve! Go get that email name of your dreams right now!

Microsoft Surface Technology Delights Customers at AT&T Wireless Stores July 11, 2008

Posted by Mike in Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft, News, Software, Technology, Worth a Look.
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In pursuit of a new Blackberry, I visited a local AT&T Wireless store yesterday and discovered several high tech display tables utilizing Microsoft Surface technology! How cool is that?  I know I stayed in the store twice as long just so I could play with it.

By placing one of the display models of the Blackberry onto the tabletop, the table display changed to show me information about the device along with AT&T’s wireless plans. I could also touch the screen and change the table display into a large coverage map of the area, showing me where AT&T wireless service was available in the area.

Microsoft Surface technology is kind of like the touch interface on an Apple iPhone. It responds to your touch but also allows other users to interact with it at the same time.

A quick visit to the Microsoft Surface web site explained that a select few AT&T Wireless stores in New York City, Atlanta, San Antonio, and the San Francisco Bay Area have received these revolutionary display tables.

Look at the FIND IT section of the Microsoft Surface web site to find the addresses of one of these stores near you.

Of course, you may want to wait a few days to visit since the new Apple iPhone is being released at AT&T stores today.

An Ode to the New Hands-Free Driving Law in California July 1, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Fun, Hands-free, Hardware, Humor, News, Poem, Technology.
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An Ode to Hands-Free Driving in California

California drivers, July 1st is here!

Get that cell phone out of your ear!

Hands free is the way to be

Or you’ll get fined by the CHP

If you want to drive hands free

A BLUETOOTH ear piece is the key

Driving and dialing just isn’t shrewd

(Not to mention a tiny bit rude)

But take heart, Dear Drivers

Don’t feel vexed

The law still allows you to text!

(That’s it. This agonizing poem is done. Thanks for reading. Rhyming is fun.)

Get answers to the FAQs about the law from the California DMV.

Get Fit! Technology That Moves You June 28, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, exercise, family, geocaching, Hardware, health, iPod, Reviews, Software, Technology, Worth the Money.
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What other technology products out there are designed to help you exercise or enjoy the outdoors?

The excitement surrounding the release of the Nintendo Wii Fit got me thinking about this question.

I spent a little time browsing Amazon.com and came up with a few technology gadgets — with many positive user reviews — that will help you get off your couch and get outside (or at least break a sweat inside):

Wii Fit

Exercise without leaving the comfy confines of your own living room. With Nintendo’s addictively fun Wii game system, this new software package will get you exercising in four key areas: Strength Training, Aerobics, Yoga and Balance Games. The games and activities are designed to appeal to all ages, so Mom and Dad can enjoy it just as much as the kids.

Price: $171 on Amazon.com

Apple Nike + iPod Sport Kit for iPod nano 1G, 2G, 3G

This is actually an add-on package for an iPod Nano. You’ll need to buy the Nano iPod separately.

“Consisting of a wireless sensor and receiver, the Nike + iPod Sport Kit works exclusively with your Nike+ shoes and iPod nano to give you real-time feedback during workouts.” – Amazon product description.

Price: $29.00 on Amazon.com

Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS with High Sensitivity GPS

This one intrigues me. GPS devices like this one have led to an explosion in popularity of a game called geocaching. In a nutshell, geocaching is a game of high tech treasure hunting. Players hide “caches” in various places, like parks or camp sites or even urban locations. The map coordinates of the cache are then posted online and other players can go and search for it using a handheld GPS.

For a full description of geocaching, please visit The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

Geocaching sounds like a great family activity. I fully intend to play when my sons get a little older. When the time comes, I’ll take my friend Chris up on his offer to join him on a treasure hunt one day.

While there are a great many varieties of handheld GPS devices, this one is under $100 and should fit the budget of most families.

Price: $93.16 on Amazon.com

Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer

Amazon Product Description:

“The HJ-112 accurately measures your steps, as well as aerobic steps and minutes. You can also use it to measure calorie consumption during your workout, as well as the distance you’ve traveled.”

Price: $19.82 on Amazon.com

So, now you can have your “tech” and exercise too. I’ll see you outdoors. Don’t worry about that big ball of light in the sky. That’s called the sun. It’s a good thing. Have fun!

Keeping the Customer Happy: Dell Grants Windows XP a Stay of Execution June 27, 2008

Posted by Mike in News, Software, Technology.
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Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Dell will continue to offer customers the option to “downgrade” from Windows Vista to Windows XP when purchasing a PC until 2009.

In some cases, there will be an additional charge to do so, but at least the option exists.

For more details, please read this blog post: http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/95202

Technology Provides Parenting Peace of Mind June 27, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, children, family, parenting, Reviews, Technology, Worth the Money.
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Electronic Child Guard Child Safety Alarm

How many of you have worried about your child wandering away from you in a store, park or public place? OK, all parents may put their hands down. There’s nothing more heart pounding than losing sight of your son or daughter in a store for a few moments.

How much would you pay for a little peace of mind and your child’s safety? For less than $30, this little device can provide just that.

The “Child Guard” is a wireless transmitter/receiver. The transmitter (looks like a toy) on the child sends signals to the receiver in the parent’s purse or pocket, etc. If the child starts to wander, the receiver starts beeping to alert Mom or Dad.

If you’re traveling, visiting theme parks this summer or just going to the shopping mall across town, the “Child Guard” is an item you can put to good use to help prevent lost children or, heaven forbid, a kidnapping.

The image from Amazon.com shows a pink transmitter, but I’m sure they offer them in different colors to appeal to the boys out there too.

Bad Spelling and Online News – Sloppy or Smart? June 13, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Business, News, Technology.
3 comments

Hello,

How many of you have noticed that misspelled words are becoming more common online in legitimate news articles?  Whether I am browsing CNN.com or ESPN.com or a local newspaper web site like the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate.com,  I see the same problem.

Misspelled words are an exception rather than the rule in traditional newspapers.

Why are they more abundant in online articles?  After all, word processing programs have a handy little spell checker button to eliminate the problem. (On a side note….does anyone find it humorous that the word “blog” is still identified in many spell checkers — I’m looking at you MS Word 2003— as a misspelled word?)

I have a few ideas as to why spelling errors are tolerated in online news:

  1. Need to produce more articles, more quickly
  2. Sloppy editing or none at all
  3. More “non traditional” journalists writing the news and making mistakes

OR……is it intentional?   I hadn’t considered this option until I googled “increase in spelling errors” and came upon Shaun Low’s blog where he had written this article:

Are Spelling Mistakes Good?

Shaun’s article asks the question from a blogging perspective.  Specifically,  googlers misspell words when they type in a search.  If you include a misspelled word in your blog post, it may increase traffic to your blog.  Of course, in theory the same line of thinking may apply to online new articles.

However, I’m not sure this is the reason for sloppy spelling.

I think it is just carelessness and a change in attitudes among writers and readers.

Browser Wars: Newcomer Flock Looks like a Contender June 11, 2008

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Fun, News, Reviews, Software, Technology.
7 comments

Browser Wars.jpg

I just downloaded and installed Flock. I’ll provide a more complete review after I’ve familiarized myself with the software, but here is my initial reaction:

  1. WOW
  2. WOW
  3. WOW

Internet Explorer better watch out for this one. It is actually built upon the FireFox browser, so I can’t call FireFox a direct competitor.

Here’s a news article I found on BusinessWeek that led me to try Flock:

In Browsers, Flock May Lead the Flock.

Visit Flock’s web site to download this free program.


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My New Favorite Yahoo Widget June 6, 2008

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Fun, Photos, Software, Technology, Yahoo.
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Yahoo’s free widgets, over 4,000 and counting, allow users to display bits of information right on their desktop for PCs or Mac. Microsoft’s Windows Vista OS has built in widgets, but those of us still on Windows XP can “widget-ize” our desktops courtesy of Yahoo.

For more info and a widgets definition, go here: Yahoo’s Widgets click here.

My Favorite New Widget:

Inspiration by Martin Koistinen (click to view download page).

It cycles through inspirational quotes to help motivate and inspire you. However, my favorite part is that I can add my own quotes simply by editing a text file stored in ‘My Documents’ folder.

For example, I’ve added memorable quotes from my two boys so that I don’t forget the amusing things 3 year olds say. Those quotes cycle through along with ones from famous folks with wisdom to share.

Here’s a link to a list of other widgets created by Martin Koistinen for Yahoo! Widgets.

Widget of Honorable Mention:

Any widget that helps you enjoy digital photos by displaying to you a different photo on your hard drive every minute.

For example: One Photo Yahoo! Widget

What widgets do you use?

A Blogger’s Best Friend: Zoundry’s Blog Writer Software June 4, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Organize, Reviews, Software, Technology.
3 comments

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Attention fellow bloggers!

Zoundry’s Blog Writer software will make your life easier.

How, you ask?

  1. Free software (click to visit download page) makes it easier to compose and upload your posts to popular blog sites like WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, LiveJournal, etc.
  2. Download your existing posts (and categories) into the Blog Writer software for faster editing and updating.
  3. Innovative “Create Link to” feature allows you to quickly locate product images (very helpful if writing a product review) on web sites like Amazon.com and Buy.com. For example, It helped me grab images when writing my post about Father’s Day Gift Ideas.
  4. Use the software to backup your blog posts. After downloading your posts, you can save them as HTML files on your PC.
  5. The software allows you to quickly ping Technorati, Google’s Blog Search, Feed Burner, My Yahoo and and other similar sites.

And more good news…..Zoundry is updating Blog Writer to make it even better. The new version, in beta, is called Zoundry Raven and is available for download now.

Read more about it on Zoundry Raven’s blog.

If this software isn’t to your liking, you may want to try BlogDesk software instead.

Powered by Zoundry

Just for Fun: Create a Google-like Graphic Instantly June 3, 2008

Posted by Mike in Creative, Freebies, Fun, Humor, Technology.
2 comments

While doing some blog surfing yesterday, I came across Yousef’s post about PimpMySearch.

PimpMySearch is a fun, simple site that let’s you create a graphic in the Google style.

How? Type in any word(s) you want and they’ll be google-ized instantly.

You can then save the graphic as a JPEG file by right-clicking on the image.

For example:

wordpress.jpg

Try it. You know you want to.

Oh, did I mention it is free?

Jott for Blackberry: Reply to Emails with your Voice! June 1, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blackberry, Freebies, Online Service, Software, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

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Jott’s new service, Jott for Blackberry, will make that device even more user-friendly than it is right now. Now you can respond to any email using your voice, instead of the keyboard and give your tired fingers a break.

When installed on your Blackberry, the Jott software will transcribe your message and send it off in an email, with your fingers never touching the keypad.

The software is free while in beta and will likely be any Blackberry user’s favorite new app. It will definitely be worth the money when it comes out of beta.

I’m glad to see Jott is finding new and useful ways to integrate its technology into products. I’ve blogged about their service before, and you’re welcome to read my earlier post by clicking here.

What’s your favorite Blackberry app?

Free Wireless Amber Alerts on your Phone to Help Find Abducted Children May 25, 2008

Posted by Mike in Freebies, News, Online Service, Technology.
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Something as simple as a text message on your phone could help you save a life.

This free service, sponsored by the Wireless Foundation in Washington D.C, will send a text message to your phone once an Amber Alert has been issued in your area. It will also send you a text message once the alert has been canceled.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

It is fast and easy to do and it may help quickly locate an abducted child before its too late. Click here to learn how it works.

You can specify from 1 to 5 zip codes in which to receive Amber Alerts. This means, your phone won’t receive a text message from an Ohio Amber Alert when you live in California. Unless, of course, you’ve chosen an Ohio zip code in your settings.

Here’s a link to an FAQ page if you want more information as well.

Tech Gift Ideas under $100 for Father’s Day May 24, 2008

Posted by Mike in Fun, Photos, Reviews, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

Do you need a Father’s Day gift idea for a techie Dad? Look no further!

Here are a few gift ideas that I’ve found online that are fun, useful and under $100.

Hubman USB Port.jpg
Pictured Above: Hubman……Digital Photo Key Chain……IronKey Thumb Drive……Han Solo Thumb Drive.

Hubman:

  • Listed price: $29.00
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • Smiley face

Digital Photo Key Chain:

  • Listed price: $50.00
  • Holds 60 photos
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • 2 hour battery viewing time

IronKey Thumb Drive:

  • Listed price: $78 (1 GB size)
  • Military grade encryption, encased in metal.
  • “10 incorrect password attempts, and the encryption chip self-destructs, making the contents of the flash drive totally unreadable.”
  • Windows XP and Vista only

Han Solo Thumb Drive:

  • Listed price: $49.95 (1 GB size)
  • Other Star Wars Characters available, but c’mon, you know Han Solo is Dad’s favorite.

I’m sure any of these gifts will bring a smile to Dad’s face. If not, you can always consider an iPod.


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I’m Now an Official Yahoo Power Mailer! May 14, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Online Service, Technology, Yahoo.
2 comments

Computer graphic of a person holding a gold ribbon

Here’s part of the email message I received from the folks at Yahoo! today:

“As a loyal Yahoo! Mail user, you’re one of the select few to receive our exclusive Power User rewards.”

What privileges does the title of “Power Mailer” bestow upon me?

  • Sending messages up to 20MB in size
    • Never mind that standard Yahoo email accounts only accept 10MB size emails
  • Premium Customer Care
    • Think of it as a Disneyland-esque virtual “Fast Pass” that puts me near the top of the waiting list for technical support help.
  • Priority Notifications about important Yahoo! Mail developments
    • Every blogger’s wish….early info on new products and features for new blog posts!

I promise not to let this esteemed title go to my head….much.

In all seriousness though, it’s nice to know that a company appreciates my loyalty to their services and gives me a few free perks.

The “Power Mailer” features still do not equal those offered by the Yahoo! Mail Plus service, which costs a reasonable $19.99 per year.

Who knew that my 3,707 emails (and counting) in my inbox would earn me Power mailer status? Yes, I’m an email pack rat. But, what’s the harm in keeping emails? Yahoo gives me so much mailbox storage space that I’m disinclined to delete anything and its not like my wife or family has to deal with my virtual clutter.

Should Yahoo! reward its heavy users with perks even though the subscribed to service is free?

What do you think?


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Saint Patrick’s Day Fun: Turn Yourself Into a Leprechaun March 17, 2008

Posted by Mike in Creative, Freebies, Fun, Holidays, Humor, Online Service.
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HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’ S DAY!  If you’re looking for a wee bit o’ fun, try transforming yourself into one of Ireland’s beloved Leprechaun’s.

In the spirit, of ElfYourself and ScroogeYourself, this free web site should be called LeprechaunYourself.   Like the first two, this one is also sponsored by a corporation (Irish Spring, of course) and may be slow during periods of high Internet traffic.

Upload a photo to this web site and see how you’d look as a Leprechaun:

http://www.colgate.com/app/IrishSpring/US/EN/Bodywash/GetIrishNow/Microsite/Shenanigans/Turn-Irish-Now.cvsp

 P.S.  Just for today, feel free to add an O’ to the front of your name and enjoy your favorite green beverage.

Be an Informed Voter with this List of Web Sites February 2, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Humor, Learning, News, Politics, Videos.
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With the 2008 Presidential primaries campaign in full swing and the Super Tuesday primary elections a few days away, many Americans are still deciding who to vote for this year. John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul and other presidential hopefuls are zig zagging across the country to shake hands, kiss babies and stump for votes.

Remember to vote in the primaries and in the election next November. If you don’t participate, you shouldn’t complain about the results.

Here are some web sites to help you be an informed voter on the candidates and the issues for this 2008 campaign.

Candidates official web sites:

  1. Mike Huckabee
  2. John McCain
  3. Ron Paul
  4. Mitt Romney
  5. Hillary Clinton
  6. Barack Obama

Informational:

  1. Project Vote Smart
  2. News Coverage 2008 Candidates
  3. Democratic Party Web Site
  4. Republican Party Web Site
  5. Rock the Vote
  6. Who’s Donating Money? 2008 Campaign Contributions

Worth a Look:

  1. QUIZ #1: Take a Quiz on the Issues to See Which Candidate You Should Vote For
  2. QUIZ #2: Another Quiz to See Who You Should Vote For
  3. QUIZ #3: The Glassbooth Quiz

Opinion (Humor, Blogs and Videos):

  1. Vote Different YouTube Video: Hillary as Big Brother
  2. YouTube Video: Actors Impersonate Obama and Hillary
  3. MyMcCainBlog
  4. Elect Romney Blog
  5. Vote Hillary
  6. Blog Obama ’08
  7. Huckabee for President Blog
  8. Colbertocrat – Craig Colbert’s Political Humor

LogMeIn Baby! February 2, 2008

Posted by Mike in Business, Freebies, Online Service, Reviews, Technology.
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Who do you call for tech support?

To paraphrase the Beatles, we all get by with a little help from our friends.

For most of us, that’s quite true when it comes to computer problems and questions. Most of us don’t like to pay for it unless its absolutely necessary. Parents may get their tech-savvy kids to fix things. Girlfriends may call boyfriends or vice versa. Friends call in favors.

That’s great if your tech superhero lives nearby. What if they’re across town or across the country? Maybe you’re on a trip and want to retrieve some information on your home computer. Or, perhaps you want that tech superhero living in New York to be able to help you in California.

Just logmein, baby.

Logmein.com is a free web based service that allows a person to remotely access a computer over the Internet. Its like flying them across the country and having them sit right next to you to see the same screen at the same time. You no longer have to write down cryptic error messages or struggle to follow over-the-phone instructions from your tech superhero.

The basic premise is much the same as Microsoft Remote Desktop or PC Anywhere software. You can connect to a PC to view screen activity, retrieve a file or help a person. However, in my opinion, LogMeIn is much easier for the basic computer user to setup and use.

For instance, just the other day I was working in an office and had my laptop directly wired to a Comcast cable Internet modem. My colleague used my LogMeIn.com account to connect to my laptop to check the settings on the modem.

In my situation, I setup a free LogMeIn.com account and then shared my username and password with my colleague. The computer that will be accessed using the service needs to have free LogMeIn software downloaded and installed or else remote access isn’t possible.

The free account has limited features, but it works fine if you just need remote access. It’s quick and easy to setup and use. I created my account in less than 5 minutes. There are five different LogMeIn plans, each with different features and pricing. The LogMeIn IT Reach plan has the most whistles and bells.

Of course, there’s one problem your tech superhero can’t resolve using LogMeIn.com: a loss of Internet connectivity.

WordPress Bloggers Can Blog from YouTube January 9, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Technology, Videos.
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YouTube has a feature that allows bloggers to associate their blog with their YouTube account. WordPress is one of the blog services that works with this feature. Other services include Blogger (naturally, since both are Google owned sites), Friendster, LiveJournal, Pizco and FreeWebs.

By adding your blog to your account, you can quickly compose a blog entry about a video you’ve seen without leaving the YouTube site.

When you’re logged into your YouTube account and viewing a video, click on the SHARE icon beneath the video. You should see a link to “add a blog/site” to your account.

Once your blog is added, this is what you’ll see when you click the SHARE button:

Screenshot of YouTube

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Find Answers to Your Computer Questions on YouTube January 8, 2008

Posted by Mike in Hardware, Learning, Technology, Training, Videos.
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It’s easy to overlook the usefulness of YouTube amid the abundance of entertaining video clips posted by its users.

YouTube’s vast collection of how-to videos can help you with your computer repair questions.

For example, this video clip shows you how to replace a mother board in a Dell Optiplex small form factor PC.


Most folks start with Google or Yahoo to find their answers. YouTube’s videos don’t often find their way onto the search results.


Be sure to search the site itself if you don’t find what you need from one of the search engines.

Article Lists Tech Disappointments for 2007 December 14, 2007

Posted by Mike in News, Technology.
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eWeek.com provides us with their list of emerging tech disappointments for 2007.

Do you agree or disagree? Or do you have a list of your own?

Getting Some Respect: Blogs will soon be included in Google’s Universal Search December 14, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, News, Online Service, Technology.
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Google Sphere

I came across this article by Clint Boulton on eweek.com.

Google Adds Blogs to Universal Search

Just For Fun: ElfYourself or ScroogeYourself December 7, 2007

Posted by Mike in Creative, Freebies, Fun, Humor, Online Service, Reviews, Technology.
4 comments

Happy Friday & Happy Holidays!

If you’d like a quick laugh, try turning yourself into an elf or a Scrooge by using ElfYourself or ScroogeYourself. These sites allow you to paste photos onto the bodies of singing and dancing elves or “Scrooges” who will then do an energetic little song and dance number for your amusement.

The service is free and sponsored by OfficeMax, so you can expect a pop up ad and a little branding too.

All in all, it is quick and easy to do and definitely fun. You just upload a photo, use the tools on the web site to resize your photo onto an elf’s body and you’re done! You can then copy a link and paste it into an email or a blog.

Here’s what I’d look like as a jolly little elf:

http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1217182128

The web site does get busy, so you may experience occasional problems accessing the site. It’s popular and it’s free so it may not load up during periods of high Internet traffic.

Retrevo Helps Answer Your Tech Questions Quickly December 5, 2007

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Hardware, iPod, News, Online Service, Reviews, Technology.
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The catch phrase on their web site is “matching people and electronics.”  Retrevo.com compiles lots of useful information about a product in a matter of seconds. 

Need a product review before you buy? Retrevo has them.  I typed in iPod Touch and Retrevo listed expert reviews at ilounge.com, zdnet.com and playlistmag.com.

Need a manual for an electronics product?  Retrevo can help find them. I typed in HP Deskjet 5850 and the site found the manual for me.  True, I can go to HP.com to get it, but then it may take a few minutes to narrow my search and find the manual.  Retrevo got the link for me in less than 5 seconds.

Doing the math:  If time=money, then time saved=money saved.  Retrevo’s service will save you money!  Of course, that’s far-fetched claim that you won’t find anywhere on their site, but maybe it’ll help you find the best deal on that iPod Touch which could save you some real coin.

Want to shop for a Slingbox?  Retrevo will give you plenty of sites to browse.

Retrevo will also list blogs, forums and manufacturing info on a given product (when available).

Trust me, this site is worth a look and a bookmark in your favorites.

Tips on Setting up a Holiday Budget November 22, 2007

Posted by Mike in Finance, Freebies, Holidays, Learning, Money, Online Service, Organize, Software, Technology.
2 comments

Holiday Candles

How does holiday budgeting find its way onto a blog about technology? Well, it just so happens that technology can help you setup a budget and stick to it. Not to mention, there are web sites and blogs out there with good advice on personal finance.

While November and December is the time for family, turkey, thankfulness, holiday lights and gift giving, January tends to be the time for credit card bills and financial shock and awe.

Hopefully, setting a holiday budget can help you get the best of both worlds: Happiness in November and December without the shock and awe of credit card bills.

With Thanksgiving upon us and Black Friday Ads enticing us to shop and save tomorrow, I’ve located a few tools and advice web sites for you to use.

Do you have any tips or tools that you can share regarding a budget? If you do, please share them.

Happy Holidays!

Iomega’s eGo – An External Hard Drive in Disguise November 22, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Hardware, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

iomega-ego.jpg

Hard drive or flask? I think this USB external hard drive has an identity crisis! Maybe I’m imagining it, but the Iomega eGo looks like a flask to me; especially if you pick the black or silver color.

If that’s not enough to make you smile, the name itself is funny. eGo? Or should I type ego?

If they’re targeting self-centered, narcissistic customers then they’ve named the device well. This reminds me of Chevy’s decision to sell the Chevy Nova in Spain without renaming it. After all, translated into Spanish, “nova” means “no go.” Of course, the eGo name doesn’t damage the product’s reputation, but I think Iomega’s marketing team have taken the “e” naming scheme (ebook, ecard, etc) a bit too far.

Jokes aside, it looks to me like Iomega’s external hard drive offers plenty of storage space and comes in a variety of snazzy colors. It can probably be considered a good option for data backups, just like the Western Digital Passport or Seagate FreeAgent Go external hard drives.

WildCharger: A Wireless Charging Pad for Your Mobile Devices November 21, 2007

Posted by Mike in Hardware, iPod, Technology, Worth the Money.
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wildcharger.jpg

No cord needed to charge your mobile phone? I haven’t seen anything quite like it, but yes, that’s the idea. By purchasing and attaching a compatible adapter onto your mobile phone, you can then simply place the phone onto the charging pad without connecting a cord.

You need two things to make it work: one a WildCharge adapter for your mobile device (mp3 player, iPod, mobile phone, PDA, etc) and the charging pad itself.

Here’s a link to their web site explaining how it works.

After looking at their web site, WildCharge, the manufacturer, has already made a charging adapter that snaps onto the back of the Motorola RAZR mobile phone.

They are working on an iPod Nano charging adapter as well as a Blackberry charging adapter, but neither can be purchased in their online store at this time.

It’s a novel idea, but may be limited by their ability to design and manufacture customized charging adapters for each type of device. Consumers may not want to purchase multiple charging adapters for their multitude of mobile devices either.

They’ve already received some good publicity and rewards for innovation, which you can read about in their Press Room.

Read this Post by SuperBibliodigital to Keep Current on New Software and Online Services November 20, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, News, Software, Technology.
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Her blog will point you to a great site for keeping track of the latest and greatest web sites, software programs and other tech goodies.

SuperBibliodigital’s Killer Apps Post.

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