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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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Do Your Part to Reduce E-waste: Resources for Computer and Electronics Recycling August 25, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, PC ABCs, Technology.
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Recycle for Earth image

Governments and businesses are beginning to offer good options for consumers to wisely dispose of their old computer and electronics equipment.

The goal is to keep these items out of landfills because the components inside of these devices are often harmful or toxic if not disposed of properly.

The state of California seems to have taken the lead in promoting e-Waste recycling. As a result, Californians have a growing number of options available to them when it comes time to part with a computer, TV, VCR, etc.

I’ve compiled a brief list of recycling options to help folks understand the options available to them.

Recycling Programs sponsored by Businesses

ComputerTakeBack.com compiled a list titled, Which computer company will take back your old computer?

Computerworld.com has posted an article titled Sony to offer e-waste Recycling in the USA.

Earth911.org announced that Staple’s first major retailer to accept e-waste

General Recycling Info

eRecycle.org offers Californians the option to find an eWaste Recycling Center in California.

Recycleforbreastcancer.org is a local recycling option for San Francisco Bay Area as is RapidRecycle.net.

GreenPeace offers a Guide to Greener Electronics and reports on which companies are leading the way in improving their manufacturing processes.

EPA.gov offers basic information on recycling or donating computer equipment.

 

 

Google vs. Yahoo! – Battle of the Email Titans: One Reason Why Gmail is Better August 23, 2007

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Online Service, PC ABCs, Reviews, Software, Technology.
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Yahoo vs. Google

One reason why Google’s Gmail is better can be summed up in three words:

Free POP Settings.

Yahoo requires users to upgrade to the Yahoo! Mail plus service for an annual $19.99 in order to get to use POP Settings. 

For many, POP settings are important.  It is a fundamental feature that isn’t sexy or flashy, but it is useful. 

For the average computer user, the phrase POP Settings may not mean much.  It is an abbreviation for “Post Office Protocol.” These are email server settings that need to be configured into software programs like Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird and IncrediMail. Once configured,  a person can download their email into one of those programs to manage their email.

To be fair, POP settings have been considered a “premium” feature for free online email services for quite a while.  Google is just re-writing the rules and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yahoo! and others follow suit in the future to keep their users happy.

If you’re looking for a new email service and want to be able to manage your email in a software program like Outlook, then I’d suggest looking at Gmail

After all, it’s hard to beat free.

Which email service do you prefer?

How to Backup your Data Online for Free: Shall we Mozy? August 7, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Learning, Online Service, PC ABCs, Software, Technology, Training, Worth the Money.
2 comments

Mozy Logo

Backing up your data is critical and using an online service to securely backup your information accomplishes two important objectives:

  1. First and foremost, you have a backup copy of your data!
  2. Second of all, your backup data is stored “off site” or away from your computer.

Point # 2 is often overlooked.  Folks backup their data to CDs, DVDs or external hard drives and then store those backup files in the same place as their computer.  Even worse, some store it in the same bag as their laptop! 

What happens when your bag is stolen? Bye-bye laptop and bye-bye data backup! 

What happens when your home is damaged by fire, flood or ________ (insert your natural disaster here)?   Bye bye computer and bye bye data backup! 

Ok, so disasters aren’t an every day occurrence.  What if you spill some soda on your external hard drive? Or drop it?  Or misplace it? Or your toddler wants to see if it will float in the bath tub?

Have you ever scratched a CD? Yep, me too.

In order to avoid this type of headache, online backup services are ideal.  I just tested out Mozy.com and found it very user-friendly.  They offer 2GB of free (and secure) storage, which will be either:

  • Woefully inadequate for users with large quantities of data     OR    
  • Just right for backing up a few important files, pictures, etc.

 Here’s what I like about mozy.com’s service:

  • Free 2 GB of storage (no trials or tricks, just good ole’ free!)
  • User friendly software identifies and categorizes files to backup and lists the size of the files (very helpful for novice users who often wonder what to backup)
  • Advanced features for those more comfortable with PCs and configuring backups.
  • Option to schedule backups to run on a regular basis. (In other words, set it and forget it)
  • Larger storage options available for a monthly (not annual) fee.
  • “Slider” setting in the software allows you to control how much bandwidth is used during the backup process.

 Here’s what I don’t like:

  • Slow upload speeds.

 However, this isn’t Mozy’s fault.  It’s a reality for most home users on DSL or cable Internet, except for that lucky 75 year old woman in SwedenUpload speeds are always slower than download speeds.  Regardless of the culprit, transferring large amounts of your data securely onto Mozy’s servers takes longer than transferring them onto an external hard drive or burning them to CD. 

That’s just a limitation of any kind of online backup service. 

I’d suggest you consider giving Mozy a try.  If you like it, you can decide whether to upgrade to a larger account (if you need it).

If Mozy isn’t to your liking, there are other online backup services to explore: 

Carbonite

Xdrive

Kela

Whatever you do, you need to backup your important data.  It will save you a lot of stress and worry when your hard drive crashes or your laptop wanders off. Backing up your important files limits a catastrophe to a mere inconvenience. 

Trust me.

This is experience talking here.    :  )

How to Blog: Resources to Help a Person or a Business Start a Blog August 3, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Business, Creative, Learning, PC ABCs, Real Estate, Technology.
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Blog KeyboardThere are many resources on the web to help a person or a business start a blog
and my goal with this post is to list many of them to educate and inform new bloggers.

First of all, why blog? That’s a personal question, but a blog can be your own voice on the Internet to discuss a topic you are passionate about. Passion is a key ingredient, because you have to enjoy a subject in order to write about it on a regular basis.

I’m assuming that you’ve already decided to blog if you’re reading this. Here’s what you need to do:

GETTING STARTED:

  1. Learn how to blog by seeing how others are doing it. Use Google’s
    Blogsearch
    to locate other people blogging on topics similar to yours. For example, You’ll get lots of ideas on
    different writing styles and templates that exist for blog sites.
  2. Sign up for a free account with a blogging web site. (Yes a blog
    is a web site just like a square is a rectangle.) Here are some popular
    ones: WordPress, Google’s Blogger, Typepad.
  3. Educate yourself on blog vocabulary. How? By visiting the blogossaryor wikipediaof course!

READ THESE BLOGS!

The folks who wrote these blogs have provided all of us with a wealth
of information on blogging. You’d be wise to read every last word.

  1. RSS Pieces Besides the catchy name that makes me hungry, this site is a great place to learn how to blog effectively. It’s target audience is the real estate community, but the advice is good for any blogger.
  2. Lorelle on WordPress. Straight talk on blogging plus a collection of additional links to articles related to blogging.

Blogging for Business

A blog can be a great way for a small business owner to improve the web presence of their local business. People go to Google to search for florists, pizza places, restaurants, doctors, bookstores, etc. When we search, we type in a city or zip code along with keywords like “bookstore”. Wouldn’t it make sense for the local bookstore to be on
the first search results page? A blog can help a business get recognized more prominently on search results pages, but it takes time and effort and won’t happen overnight.

Business Owners Read These Blogs:

1. 20 Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic

2.Blogging for Business Owners

A company called Blogging Systems offers to create a web site for small businesses, non-profit organizations, churches and other groups that may want to establish a blogging site for their community. Again, I’ll recommend a blog post written at RSS Pieces titled “Ultimate Guide to a Real Estate Blog Site” because the advice given can really apply to any blog site. Blogging is still a new and ever-evolving form of communication.

I am by no means an expert, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned (and found) so far to help others get started. If you have another resource or a suggestion, please let me know.


Now that you’ve learned your blogging ABC’s, you can start blogging today!

How to use RSS to Make your Life Easier July 19, 2007

Posted by Mike in Fun, Learning, Online Service, PC ABCs, RSS, Technology, Training.
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RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary.

Why do I need RSS? This is an excellent question.

Someone else has provided an excellent answer. Best of all, it’s in a fun little video clip.

I can’t explain it any better.

I’m just going to give you the link to watch this short, yet very entertaining video clip about RSS and how it makes your life easier.  Enjoy.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=209879&dest=-1]

SuperCopy – An easy way to copy files in Windows July 6, 2007

Posted by Mike in Freebies, PC ABCs, Software, Technology.
2 comments

It’s always nice to find a piece of software that takes a task and makes it easier.  SuperCopy, created by Nathanael Jones, takes the file copying process (good ole’ copy/paste) and improves it for the average user.

Oh, and did I mention it’s free?   Nathanael’s program is also Open Source, which means he welcomes other people to take his work and improve upon it.  If you’d like to read about why he created the program, please do so here.
DOS commands are fairly simple in theory and quite useful in general. However, they’re seldom used by the average computer user, who is scared of the DOS prompt. SuperCopy helps the average user take advantage of one of these commands in particular, XCOPY.

According to Nathanael Jones:

“Super Copy provides a very robust way to copy files in Windows. Super Copy does not prompt you for more information once the copy has started; all options are specified beforehand. This is simply a lightweight interface for XCOPY, and will not negatively affect your system’s performance.”

SuperCopy allows a user to select the files and folders to be copied on their hard drive and then create and save a batch file. When the batch file is run by the user, it automatically copies and pastes the selected files. Click here for(more info on batch files.)

Here’s how I use it:

1. Using SuperCopy, I select the files and folders I want to copy on my computer and specify the location to copy them to (in this case a USB hard drive).
2. I create a batch file using SuperCopy and save it to my computer.
3. I connect an external USB hard drive to my computer.
4. I click on the batch file to run the commands to backup my files.
5. I remove the USB hard drive and I’ve completed my backup.

To make the 5-step process even easier, I can go to into the Control Panel in Windows and setup a schedule to run the batch file on a weekly or daily basis using “Scheduled Tasks.”

With that done, my 5-step process to backup my data files is now a 1 step process.

What’s my 1 step?

I just need to be sure my USB hard drive is attached to my computer when it’s time to backup my files!