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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?

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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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My Top 5 List of Free Software Programs for Your Consideration September 7, 2007

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Photos, Reviews, Software, Technology.
5 comments

Computers are expensive. If you can find a free software program that works as well as one that costs you money, why not at least give it a try?

I’ve put together a Top 5 list of my favorite free software programs that I use right now.

1. Openoffice.org

The OpenOffice suite of programs will serve as a useful alternative to Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher, Access and PowerPoint. You can even open existing Microsoft Office files in OpenOffice. The only software equivalent it lacks is one comparable to Outlook. There’s always Outlook Express which is free but doesn’t have as many features as Outlook.

Microsoft Office Program OpenOffice Equivalent
Word (word processing) Writer
Excel (spreadsheets) Calc
PowerPoint (slideshows) Impress
Access (databases) Base
Publisher (newsletters, flyers) Draw

2. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition by Grisoft

This little gem is a good, free Anti-Virus program. Keep in mind, it is only an Anti-Virus program. These days companies like McAfee and Symantec are selling all-in-one security suites. They pack their suites with anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewalls, spam blockers, email scanning, anti-phishing and identity protection.

That’s overkill for me and the amount of computer resources (memory, CPU) these programs demand of a computer is ridiculous. It slows down the performance on many a PC.

I just want anti-Virus protection. Grisoft’s Anti-Virus scans for viruses and downloads periodic updates to keep my PC protected from the latest viruses.

NOTE: Those of you with children who use your computer would be wise to invest in a more comprehensive all-in-one security suite.

3. Picasa from Google

This is a great free software program to help you manage, edit and share your digital photographs. It is packed with features and is quite user friendly. It works well for basic photo editing, like reducing red eye, but won’t satisfy those of you looking for more sophisticated editing tools.

4. Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware SE Personal & SpyBot Search & Destroy

These are two separate programs for detecting and removing spyware. I chose to list them both because I think it’s a good idea to use two programs to detect and remove spyware. They’re free to use and regular updates are available. In my opinion, Ad-Aware is more user-friendly for the average PC user. If you only want one, go with Ad-Aware.

5. Google’s Web Accelerator

This software helps improve your web browsing experience by helping web pages load more quickly. In my B.C. years (Before Children), my wife and I could afford the luxury of cable internet service. However, diapers are expensive (especially when you’ve got twins) so we switched to the slower DSL service and saved some money.

I tried out the web accelerator and it helped. It won’t boost your DSL service to cable internet speeds, but it does seem to help. Maybe it is just psychological. It also keeps track of how much time it has saved you while web surfing, which is fun to see.

I‘d like to know what you think. Are there any free software programs that you find useful?

I look forward to your comments.

Kodak Gallery – Mobile Photo Scanning June 29, 2007

Posted by Mike in Online Service, Organize, Photos, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

As a regular user of the Kodak Gallery (formerly Ofoto), I get periodic emails about their products and services. A recent email about a mobile Scan Van caught my attention.

Here’s the scoop: Kodak will send a high tech van to a shopping mall, school or other location. They’ll ask customers to schedule appointments with them. Their staff will then scan and upload 200 photos for $24.99 into a customer’s free account at the online Kodak Gallery.

Scanning by professionals with professional equipment for $24.99?

That’s quite a deal, especially for those who either aren’t comfortable using a computer scanner or don’t have the time to do it. A person could convert several photo albums worth of pictures into digital copies quickly and inexpensively.

With the pictures digitized, you can view them online, share them with friends and family and have an online backup of precious photos. It looks like a good idea from Kodak: Taking the hassle out of picture scanning and giving people all the benefits of digital photos.

Of course, the only downside I see at the moment is a BIG one:

At the time of this posting, the Kodak “Scan Van” is only scheduled for events in Atlanta and North Florida. Ouch. I’m not about to hop on a plane to take advantage of their service, but I’ll keep an eye out for any future events in Northern California.

The Kodak Scan Van!