TechByter Worldwide for 2010

More recent programs are at the top and older programs are further down. That is to say that we use an inverse chronological ordering. Click the program date to visit the summary for that program. The audio for each program will be near the bottom of the page.

December 26, 2010

Relaxing on Christmas Weekend: It's a holiday week for TechByter Worldwide, but I'd like to direct you to some websites that I think you'll find worthwhile, enjoyable, and mentally untaxing. In other words, the perfect bit of distraction for a holiday weekend.

December 19, 2010

Beware the Changing Format: I mentioned recently that I've been converting 8mm videos to DVD and that these will be Christmas presents this year. Maybe you're thinking of doing the same thing and you're wondering if DVD is the right format to choose. If you're asking that question, let me tell you that it's a very good question. I'll do my best to provide a very good answer.

Ebook Update: Not too long ago, I bought a Kindle. I've explained previously that I sincerely dislike Amazon's policy that makes it difficult to read library books on the Kindle. There are ways around this, but it's annoying nonetheless. The Kindle, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and a handful of other electronic readers might save civilization as we know it.

What Happens When the Lights Go Out? As you may know from my semi-regular harping on the issue, my little section of Worthington (where electricity is provided by American Electric Power) has service that's about as reliable as what one might reasonbly expect to find in rural Uzbekistan. The threat of losing power is worse on days with severe weather: Severe calm. Severe lack of wind. Severely normal temperatures. Days like that. When the lights go out, the cable modem goes out. When the power is out for several days, I can visit a location where Wi-Fi is available but routine outages that last 4 hours or less leave me disconnected from the Internet. Now's the time to prepare for something like that.

Short Circuits: Calls from Santa: If you're old enough to remember when NORAD tracked Santa, you were probably also around when dirt was invented. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was founded in May of 1958. It provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for the US and Canada. In an effort to put a friendly face on NORAD, the agency released tapes every December for use by radio stations. There was an unidentified flight, jets were scrambled, and (of course) it turned out to be Santa. Now Google is getting into the act.

What's Up Next Year? In January, I'll be talking with some librarians. Among the topics we'll touch on are digital books, changes in libraries over the past decade, where things are headed, Wi-Fi access, censorship, and more. I'll also tell you about a digital audio recorder that I'm now using for field interviews, about the advances in digital photography, and maybe a few other bits of useful information.

Last Show for 2010: Happy Holidays! As is usually the case, I'll be taking Christmas week and New Year's week off, so the next program will be on January 10, 2011. Although TechByter Worldwide is on holiday for the next two weeks, I'll be sending e-mails updated with links to the site. One will be a resource that could provide several hours of enjoyable browsing and the other will include links to some useful free products.

December 12, 2010

Maverick Meerkat Comes to My Notebook Computer: Ubuntu's latest semi-annual release is out. Version 10.10 (meaning 2010, October) is known as "Maverick Meerkat" although some people apparently were hoping for "Mighty Manx". I didn't have time to do the upgrade until the first weekend in December, but I've just completed it and I'm impressed.

Your Own Domain? I was recently involved in a discussion of domain names and suggested that anyone who's in business and uses a Yahoo or Gmail or AOL address is telegraphing a message to prospective clients. That message, I suggested is "I'm not serious about business. I just play here." And that started a fire storm of protest from people who run their businesses from Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL accounts.

Consumer Reports Readers Diss AT&T: A survey of 58 thousand readers in the US suggests that AT&T doesn't provide a lot of satisfaction. Of all the carriers listed in the report, AT&T was the only one that scored lower this year than last. This is one reason that some potential Iphone buyers have stayed away: Apple's phone works only on AT&T's network.

Short Circuits: Tracking Protection for Internet Explorer 9: Microsoft says that tracking protection is a new privacy feature in Internet Explorer 9, which has been out in beta since September. Tracking protection is intended to block third-party websites from tracking your browsing on the Web. A third-party site is one that's separate from the site you're visiting.

Google is Being Investigated (Again): Let's face it: Google is an easy target. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is trying to force Google to surrender the data Google says it inadvertently collected while operating its Street View service. Blumenthal, who will take a seat in the US Senate early next year, seemed miffed that Google won't show him what it got.

December 5, 2010

Windows PowerShell: The Utility You Probably Missed: Power Shell has been around for a while and I've managed to miss it. That's too bad because I used to like performing magic tricks with BAT files in the days when DOS ran our desktop computers. Computers no longer run on DOS, but a DOS-like command line is available and PowerShell brings some truly powerful programming capabilities to the command line.

In December, We Think of Video: The thought pattern works this way: End of the year. Winter solstice. Religious holidays. Gifts. Video. Some of those gifts are bound to be video cameras or digital SLR cameras that include the ability to capture video. But capturing video is just the first step. If you want the video to serve any purpose, editing is essential. The good news this year is that editing video has become a whole lot easier than you thought.

Short Circuits: An Open Letter to Google: Hey, Google, Maybe you've noticed that the world has moved on from 8-bit operating systems that predated your company to 16-bit systems, 32-bit systems, and (since Windows XP) 64-bit systems. It's true that only a few XP users opted for the 64-bit version, but that was back in 2003, a couple of years after XP was introduced. 64-bit adoption picked up during the Vista years because that's the only version that more or less worked. Now, according to Microsoft, almost half of all PCs running Windows 7 are running 64-bit editions of the OS. Oh, and you may also have noticed that Windows 7 is selling very well. So why does Google Calendar Sync still not work with 64-bit systems?

High Tech Exports, Down But Still Important: TechAmerica Foundation released its annual report this week that details national and state trends in the international trade of high-tech goods. The report, Trade in the Cyberstates 2010: A State-by-State Overview of High-Tech International Trade, covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The figures are for the year 2009.

November 20, 2010: No program, but Thanksgiving greetings.

November 21, 2010

Passwords and Spam: Has your e-mail account been used by a spammer yet? No, I don't mean just having mail sent so that it claims to come from your address but actually using your e-mail account to send spam. If you routinely re-use passwords and this hasn't happened yet, now would be a good time to change passwords if you want to prevent it.

Adobe's InDesign/InCopy Combo Speeds Publications: If you've ever wondered how the creators of Washingtonian Magazine, Business Week, Lenswork, or Fitness Magazine put their publications together, the answer is InDesign and InCopy from Adobe. These applications combine to speed the process of creating newspapers, magazines, brochures, and catalogs because many people can work on a publication simultaneously. And although you might think of this combination as something that only huge corporations would use, it can help in any situation where multiple people have to touch a publication before it goes to the printer.

Short Circuits: Still Paying for Cable TV? Yeah, so am I, but I'm not sure why. I really don't watch television although my wife does, so I guess that's one good reason to keep it running. When I watch a TV series, I binge-watch. For example, I heard an interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Victor Garber, who portrayed Jack Bristow on the program Alias. He made the series sound interesting, so I ordered the DVDs from Netflix and watched the entire series in a couple of weeks. Today you have lots of options.

Be Careful What You Say Online: A Chinese woman will spend a year in a labor camp because she forwarded a satirical Twitter message that urged recipients to attack the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. Does this sound terrible? What about this: A medic who posted a disparaging comment about her boss on Facebook has been fired.

Microsoft Security Essentials or Norton Internet Security? More than a year ago, I said that Norton Internet Security was the winner and at that time it was true. Since then Microsoft's operating-system-based security system has come a long way. I've always said that security should be a part of the operating system and that may be the case—if not now, then eventually.

November 14, 2010

Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is? When time changes, as it did last week, it can be difficult keeping track of what time it is and where. Some, most, or all of Europe exited daylight time a week before North America did this year. And a few areas within the United States don't observe daylight time at all. That means that time in Phoenix is the same as in Denver for about half of the year and the same as in Los Angeles for about half of the year. Fortunately, websites exist to help match your time with the time in other parts of the world. Some sites do a lot more than that, and I'd like to tell you about one of them.

Dreamweaver Brings New Power to Web Development: A long-time friend who uses a very old version of Dreamweaver to maintain his site (several hundred pages) said that he's thinking of starting to maintain his code in Bare Bones Software's TextWrangler but wondered if he would be better off upgrading to the latest Dreamweaver version instead or possibly switching to WordPress. He asked for my opinion. You will not be surprised to learn that I had one.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Identity Snatch: It seems that every time a long-expected blockbuster movie arrives, so does a flurry of criminal activity designed to steal your personal information, your identity, and your cash. The first of the final two-movie episode of the Harry Potter series (which is to say the penultimate film), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be in theaters starting November 19. For the scammers this as a real Thanksgiving present, but it's easy not to be a turkey. Just practice not clicking.

Short Circuits: Do E-Book Readers Need Color? A couple of months after I decided to opt for the Kindle and its high-quality monochrome screen, Barnes and Noble has released a color Nook. This raises the question (which is not to say that it "begs the question" because it doesn't) of whether color is necessary for these devices. It may depend on what you read.

NY Times Takes E-Books Seriously: In a move that clearly illustrates the ascendency of electronic books, the New York Times reported this week, in an article by reporter Julie Bosman, that the New York Times will begin publishing e-book best-seller lists in 2011. Is there an echo in here? This is a paper that doesn't report on its own activities very often, so this must be a particularly ground breaking event. That or it was a slow news day.

November 7, 2010

Who Needs a Windows Explorer Replacement?: Windows Explorer is the application that allows you to explorer the drive (or drives) that are attached to your computer. Click and it opens. Click a drive and see its contents. Click a file and something happens. The something might be a program runs or a file opens. This is all pretty basic stuff, right? So why would anybody be so dumb as to spend money on a program to replace it? Despite the fact that several people had told me they wouldn't be without PowerDesk, I stuck with Windows Explorer. Over the years, I've learned how to live with its single-panel limitations by opening a second copy as needed. But I have now seen the light.

Chase(ing) an Error: My wife sent an instant message to me this week, saying that she had opened a message "from Chase Bank" and that she thought she might have done something stupid. She hadn't done anything stupid, but Chase Bank had. The message called my wife by name (but not her name) and cited the last 4 digits of a credit card number (but not the last 4 digits of her credit card number). What happened and why?

The Trouble with Smart People: The trouble with smart people is that sometimes they're so far ahead of the curve that anyone of average intelligence will consider them to be quite insane. Ray Ozzie might be in the predicament now. Ozzie, Microsoft's retiring chief software architect, says PCs are dead, the office suite is dead, and (by extrapolation) unless something changes Microsoft is dead. Wow.

Be the Master of Your Own Domain: Occasionally I receive a message from someone who claims to be in business but the sender's address is something at Yahoo or Hotmail. Perception is important. If you're in business, a domain name is part of what people use to form their impression of you.

Short Circuits: YouTube Dumps Jihadist Videos: This week YouTube took down several videos by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who now lives in Yemen. Al-Awlaki's video have been used to inspire violence against targets in the United States and Europe. The cleric works with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group that shipped explosive packages to locations in the United States in what is seen as a series of tests for future attacks.

Microsoft Beats Earning Projections: With Windows 7 selling well, Microsoft's first-quarter earnings beat the expectations of analysts. Earnings were $5.41 billion, which equates to 62 cents per share for stockholders.

A Google Named Sue: Google would like to eat Microsoft's lunch and has now filed suit against the federal government, claiming that contract specifications favor Microsoft over Google. The Interior Department needs to replace an older e-mail system and plans to upgrade its existing Microsoft product. That's when Google stepped in.

October 31, 2010 (Happy Halloween!)

What Kind of Camera Are You? Sometimes Adobe confuses me. There's Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop online, and Photoshop Lightroom. Which application is right for which person? Until recently, I hadn't worked with Photoshop online or Photshop Elements. Although these aren't applictions I'll use, I can understand why Adobe created them and why they might be the right applications for you.

You Don't Need a Weather Man to Know Which Way the Wind Blows: This is not a political post. It's about the weather. Really. The title is from Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, but my commentary has nothing to do with that, either. Back in the dark ages when I was a radio deejay, one of the program managers I worked for insisted that we exit each song with the station calls, the time, and the temperature. Radio was important for that kind of information in those days. My cell phone takes care of the current time and when I need to know the temperature or forecast, I can find that easily on the Internet. We'll take a look at some of the sites.

Short Circuits: At 1 Year, Windows 7 is on 240 Million Computers: We've just passed the 1-year anniversary for Windows 7 and Microsoft says the operating system has exceeded Microsoft's expectations, selling nearly a quarter billion licenses. Given the flop that was Vista, Microsoft is pleased and more that a little relieved by the past year.

Coming to Your Windows 7 Computer: SP1: The date isn't certain yet, but Microsoft plans to release service pack 1 for Windows 7 during the first quarter of 2011. Don't expect any new features, though. The SP1 release candidate (RC1) is on the website. One thing that's unusual is that there will be no RC2 or RC3 as is usually the case. The next step will be release to manufacturing.

October 24, 2010

Learning Ubuntu Linux By the Book: Someday you're going to own a Linux computer and that computer will run Ubuntu. Maybe now's the time to learn about this operating system. OK. Maybe that's a bit of exaggeration or even wishful thinking, but you really should be thinking seriously about Linux if you need only word processing, spreadsheet, database management, Web browsing, and e-mail applications. Linux has little to offer serious publishers, video artists, and Photoshop mavens. But it has a lot to offer the rest of us.

Forcing Explorer to Open a Specific Directory: "I cannot find a way to make Windows Explorer remember my preferred default display on launch. It insists on showing me the My Documents tree on the left and that's not what I use. I have set it to remember each folder's view settings but it always shows My Documents. I keep my data on a different drive." Windows Explorer isn't broken. It remembers the folder settings as instructed. If you want it to keep the directory, you need to tell it to do that.

You Can't Get There From Here: If you've ever wondered where a website is physically located or you've wondered if a delay you're encountering is because the website is slow or because of congestion elsewhere, you may have used TraceRoute ("tracert") to find out. But TraceRoute doesn't always clearly identify locations. A PC Magazine utility, Browser Map, makes it all crystal clear.

Short Circuits: Book 'Em Dano! Am I ever confused! I love books. I hate books. I love the Kindle. I hate the Kindle. This is a time of change and for someone who has probably 1000+ books in the house, the transition to digital hurts. Converting from analog to digital music was fine. Converting from analog to digital video was fine. Converting from analog to digital books would be fine if Amazon would stop pissing me off.

It's Not a Mac. It's a Big Iphone. Maybe Steve Jobs hasn't noticed that a lot of applications already exist for the Mac. This week he announced that the computer will get its own Application Store. Does Apple want to turn the Mac into a big Iphone? OS X 10.7 ("Lion"), which will include these "new" "features", will be available next summer. Oh goodie!

Speaking of Mr Mac ... You can now buy a MacBook Air for less than $1000. This week Apple announced a 13.3" MacBook Air and a smaller 11.6" model. If you've been lusting after a MacBook, now might be your time to strike.

October 17, 2010

Firefox • Chrome • Safari • Opera • Explorer: It's almost like the old days. As the Web was being developed, many browsers were available. Then the choices dwindled essentially to Explorer and Netscape. Opera was there, but with only a tiny market share. Firefox (and other browsers based on the Mozilla engine) came along. Then Chrome and Safari. For some of us, the best answer to "Which browser should I use?" is "All of the above."

If it Happens, They Won't Call it MicroDobe: Is Microsoft thinking about acquiring Adobe? The irony would be rich because a significant part of Adobe's growth has come from carefully considered acquisitions. The New York Times says Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer has meet with Adobe's CEO to discuss competition with Apple. Rumors sent Adobe's stock up, then down. My first thought was that this would be a very bad match. On second thought, I'm not so sure.

Short Circuits: AOL to Buy Yahoo? Yahoo's stock price jumped more than 15% on Thursday when reports began circulating to suggest that AOL (or maybe News Corporation) would buy Yahoo. That's now being characterized as nothing more than a trial balloon. Even Yahoo claimed to have heard about the plan only from reporters.

BG, Phone Home: Steve Ballmer held one up, but you can't buy it yet. The Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system was the subject of Ballmer's presentation this week. You can buy a Windows Phone from AT&T starting in early November, from T-Mobile before the end of the year, and sometime next year from Verizon and Sprint. To start, 3 phones will be available, each a $200 device. By sometime in 2011, that number will increase to 9.

Speaking of Phones: The Industry Doesn't Want This: The FCC says it would like consumers to be notified when they're about to use their cell phones in a way that will cost them a lot of money. The cell phone industry, which is always entirely up-front and honest with consumers about billing, usage, and long-term contracts says the industry is doing just fine by self-regulating and the government should stay away.

October 10, 2010 (101010 = 42)

Cyber War: When? What passes for "news" organizations have been all atwitter about "cyber war" for the past couple of weeks. If you have any doubt that public relations firms provide at least half of what passes for "news" from ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC, and PBS, this should dispel those doubts. Everyone has been talking about the "rules of engagement" and "war crimes" and on and on and on as these topics pertain on online war. It's not that I feel they're wrong about cyber war, but I have to wonder where they've been for the past decade or more. This is a topic TechByter (and, before that, Technology Corner) discussed more than once starting well before 2001.

When Eudora Thunder(bird)s: In the Internet's golden days (think of this in terms of television's golden days, when the equipment was primitive but a few dedicated producers attempted to create intelligent programming) one of the best e-mail programs was Eudora by Qualcomm. Over the years, those who wanted more power migrated to The Bat and those who wanted a Microsoft experience went to Outlook. Eudora was on life support until Qualcomm saved it by killing it. Eudora is now an open-source program and it's based on Thunderbird code. Old Thunderbird code.

Copy Protection (aka "Digital Rights Management"): What does digital rights management protect? Let's say that you own a Kindle and that you buy (or borrow from the library) a DRM-protected Epub document. How can you read it? You can read it on the computer that you used to download the file. On the Kindle? Good luck with that! Amazon wants you to buy books, not borrow them from the library and Amazon doesn't use the Epub format. If you strip the DRM and convert the file to something the Kindle can use, you may be violating the law. There is, I would suggest, a distinction between "legal" and "ethical".

Short Circuits: AOL Buys TechCrunch (Try Not to Think of Bebo): TechCrunch is now 5 years old. It's a news-like organization that concentrates on digital media. And now it will become part of AOL. I hope this works out better than AOL's "acquisition" of Time Inc. The merger agreement was signed this week in San Francisco at a 3-day TechCrunch conference.

The Mother of All Patch Tuesdays: This coming week will see a Patch Tuesday that attempts to fix 49 vulnerabilities that affect Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, and Net Framework. If you're keeping track, this is a new record number that involves 16 security bulletins. Wow! The bulletins range from "critical" (4) to "important" (10) to "moderate" (2). Plan on a long download and a long installation. The previous record (August 2010) was 34.

October 3, 2010

A Day in the Life of Lightroom: In the new version of Lightroom, Adobe developers have taken all of Lightroom 2's best features and either kept them or improved them. Then the found Lightroom 2's few weaknesses and banished them. The result is probably a photographer's best friend: Lightroom 3 is an application that is not only powerful but also easy to use. It's an outstanding workflow organizer, and it also prevents photographers from committing errors that could damage or destroy their images.

Thirty Books in My Briefcase: Well, I did it. I now own a Kindle. Despite the shortcomings when it comes to loading library books on the Kindle, I finally had to admit to myself that this is currently the best option for what I want to do with the device. So I've been using it for about half a month and I like what I've been able to do.

Short Circuits: Do You Have a Kindle Yet? The Harris polling company says that 10% of us already have an electronic book reader of some sort than that another 15% of us will buy one between now and March of next year. Remember when cell phones went from being something that only a dilettante would own to something that everybody needed? Readers seem to be on that track.

The .Doc File of J. Alfred Prufrock: I don't remember whether it was in high school or college that I encountered "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot. It's the only work by Eliot that I really liked (or understood). I mean, "The Waste Land" was just impossible unless you were able to read Latin (I could, a little, barely, maybe) and Greek (sorry, Charlie). But Prufrock was at least accessible because it was all in English. I'd like to read it to you and, if you visit the TechByter website, I will.

September 26, 2010

Giving Away Your Identity: I love public Wi-Fi locations. My city provides Wi-Fi on the street (the main street; not my street) for free. I can also connect from the library or the community center. It's not city-wide Wi-Fi, but it's easily available nonetheless. "The City of Worthington's outdoor wireless network is free to users and is accessible along High Street between South Street and North Street and in both Worthington Libraries locations. The Wi-Fi network is provided by HarborLink Network and is supported through advertising and sponsorships." Using public Wi-Fi is also an outstanding way to give your e-mail address, login name, and password to unsavory characters lurking nearby. But there's an easy solution to that problem.

Fun—Useful—Amusing—Silly: Wandering around the Internet continues to amuse me. It's like wandering through a library or book store, picking up a book at random, and reading a bit. When you depend on serendipity, there's no telling what you'll find. You might find some of the websites I've wandered into to be useful. Or silly. Or fun. Or .... I'll show you my list.

The Windows Firewall is Blocking: What happens when your firewall notifies you that it has blocked something? My general response to messages of this sort has been to consider what application is asking for access. If the program is one that I've just launched and the request seems reasonable, I often tell the firewall to allow the connection. Sometimes I tell others to do the same thing, but that's not always the best advice. In fact, a case could be made that this is never the best advice. A much better recommendation comes from Andrew Warren at Synaptics and I asked for his permission to share it with you.

Short Circuits: Palo Alto Research Center Turns 40; Looks to the Future: A little more than a decade ago, I read Dealers of Lightning, a book by Michael Hiltzik about the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Now the center is 40 years old and hasn't been owned by Xerox since 2002. PARC invented the personal computer, the laptop computer, the laser printer (HP licensed the technology from PARC), and much of the Internet. Now it's specializing in solar power and other future technologies.

Lay In a Few Extra Hors D'œuvres! What if you're planning to have a few friends over for your 15th birthday, but you accidentally make the Facebook invitation public? Very public. What happens is that instead of 15 RSVPs, you receive 21,000? Granted, most of the people won't really show up, but police in the teen's town have been notified and they'll be watching in October. What happened next borders on the absurd.

September 19, 2010

The Lotus Position: Remember Lotus 1-2-3, the first "killer application" for PCs? By today's standards , it didn't do very much. But 25 years ago, its capabilities were astonishing. Lotus Development Corporation was founded by Mitch Kapor, a former DJ and friend of the guys who developed VisiCalc. Microsoft introduced an application that eventually pushed Lotus 1-2-3 out of the picture, but before that happened, Lotus released Symphony. IBM acquired Lotus and now there's a new version of Symphony. But it has nothing to do with the earlier applications.

InDesign CS5, Part 3: The Final Chapter (For Now): Anne-Marie Concepcion is an InDesign expert. Using the nom de plume Her Geekiness, she writes about design programs such as InDesign and Quark Xpress, but she also knows a lot about social media. We spoke recently about the state of publishing and concluded that ink-on-paper probably isn't going away anytime soon. This week we have the final episode in the InDesign series along with a video that shows my favorite InDesign features.

Short Circuits: CHASEing Your Money: Oops. Chase Bank wasn't able to provide what the New York Times characterizes as "millions of customers" access to their accounts on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was one of those millions as I attempted to log on and check to see if my Visa card had an outstanding balance.

Read Your Newspaper Electronically: Newspapers are an endangered species. The paper version will go away. No question. Well, maybe there is a question: "When?" The publisher of the New York Times knows that the paper version isn't long for the world. The Columbus Dispatch is promoting its online version.

September 12, 2010

Knowing When to Go: When you're waiting for someone to arrive at the airport so you can pick them up, it's hard to know when to leave. You don't want to arrive at the airport only to find that the flight has been delayed for 3 hours, but if you wait until they call to say the flight has landed, you'll keep them waiting. Airlines provide some limited notifications now, but an even better solution is real-time flight monitoring. Of the 3 services I tried recently, one seemed to be a clear winner.

More on InDesign: Last week, TechByter Worldwide had the first of 3 segments with Her Geekiness, Anne-Marie Concepcion, and this week we'll continue with the second segment. We were talking about InDesign and the improvements Adobe made in the CS5 version of the application. The conversation continues in this week's program.

Short Circuits: From Stunt to Useful Feature: Early in the week, Google swapped out its logo for some colored balls that arranged themselves to say "Google" but instantly scattered as the mouse cursor approached. It was the talk of the Internet and even made it to some (many?) (most?) (all?) of the evening news programs (which says something about "news" these days). The PR stunt did what a PR stunt is supposed to do; it got people to look. Then, a couple of days later, Google introduced "Google Instant".

Symantec cites "The Silent Epidemic" of Internet Crime: According to Symantec, more than two-thirds of Internet users (three-fourths of US Internet users) have been the victims of Internet crime. Really? Have you ever been victimized by Internet crime? Do you know other people who have been the victims of Internet crime? Something about these figures just doesn't seem right.

September 5, 2010

The Design Geek's Take on InDesign CS5: Adobe InDesign: The Best Continues to Improve! Every time I open Adobe InDesign to play (ah, sorry, make that "work to understand the new features") I find myself wishing that I had some real print projects to work on. "Oh, wow!" is probably the term I've used most frequently as I've tried to wrap my mind around what the developers at Adobe have done with InDesign. Among the most exciting features are the ones that allow a print designer to re-purpose an ink-on-paper document to one that includes animation and even video on the Web. This week we'll hear from teacher and geek extraordinaire Anne-Marie Concepcion.

Maneuvering Around ISP Bottlenecks: A friend once called Time-Warner to tell them that one of their routers was going bad. His thanks: Being accused of "hacking the network". Five or more years ago (before Wide Open West improved its technical support operation) I called to report that a nameserver was failing. The technician I spoke said that WOW didn't use nameservers and, when I asked to speak to a supervisor, he put me on infinite hold. Late in 2008, the nameserver at Time-Warner in Los Angeles crashed and the company's 1.2 million customers were unable to use the Internet. You may not have experienced any of these problems, but your online life will be easier and more secure if you dump the nameserver your ISP provides and use OpenDNS. It's free and the change is easy to make.

Short Circuits: The FCC Continues to Ask for Input: Whether it's net neutrality or over-the-air Internet service, the FCC would like to hear from you. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says the issues are complex and its important for the agency to do what people want. In olden times, the Federal Communications Commission, a regulatory agency, established rules. For the past 20 years or more, the FCC seems to have forgotten that it is a regulatory agency.

This Never Happened When Hewlett and Packard Were Around: Hewlett-Packard has paid $55 million to settle charges by the Department of Justice that HP gave illegal kickbacks to companies that recommended HP products to government agencies. HP, of course, admits nothing but says that the decision to pay is in the best interest of stockholders.

Google Good? Google Bad? Google CEO Eric Schmidt has a black-and-white view of things. "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know," he says, "maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." I wonder if Mr. Schmidt would want me to know how much money he has in the bank, which bank it is, and what his Social Security Number is. There's a pretty good chance, if you use any Google services, that the company knows some of those things about you. So is Google good or bad? It seems to me that, as with most of us, Google is both.

August 29, 2010

Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Locust Swarms: Everybody seems to be excited about "cloud computing". Everybody but Microsoft, that is. By way of hedging its bets, Microsoft offers its Live service to compete with Google Docs and Zoho. The online (in the cloud) services continue to improve, but they're still faint copies of applications that run locally on a computer. This week we'll take a look at Zoho.

That File You Erased Isn't Really Gone: Most people know that deleting a file doesn't really remove it from the computer. The file is simply "moved" to the Recycle Bin. And that's not quite entirely true, either. The file stays where it was and its location is noted as the Recycle Bin. Many people think that when you empty the Recycle Bin, the file is actually removed from the computer, but that's not the case. Everything is still there. The file is marked as deleted, but recovering it is a relatively trivial exercise. That's why the military specification for securely eliminating data calls for the physical destruction of the disk drive. But you probably don't need measures quite that extreme.

Securely Deleting CD/DVD Data: If you store backup copies of some files on CDs or DVDs, you might be wondering how to render those files inaccessible when it's time to discard the media. The answer is quick and, depending on the tools available to you, it might even be fun.

Looks Like Everybody Died! Or Joined LinkedIn: Have you noticed that spams come in waves of similar design. Although I plan to discontinue SpamArrest at the end of the year and use Postini instead, I've left the SpamArrest account enabled as I continue testing and becoming familiar with Postini. I no longer direct have SpamArrest collect any of my messages, so only messages sent to my SpamArrest user name show up there. Even so, the mailbox receives hundreds of spams per week.

Short Circuits: New G-Mail Feature: Phone Calls: Google Voice lets you forward a number to your home phone or cell phone. You can even (within reason) name your own phone number. I came up with this number for TechByter: TECHBYTER1 (832-429-8371). But now Google allows users in the United States to make free phone calls to any other phone in the US or Canada through G-Mail. You don't even need a Google Voice phone number.

Welcoming a Worm to Your Computer: Plug in a USB device and you may be opening the door to a worm. This week a spider dropped down from the ceiling and crawled across my hand as I sat at the computer. Harmless. Later in the week, it was crickets. A co-worker squished one of them, but I caught the other one and took it outside. Harmless. But worms? Not so harmless and Panda Security says many business computers are infected every year by worms that arrive on USB devices.

August 22, 2010

More Than One G-mail Account? Some people have more than one G-mail account. Maybe one is used for personal messages and the other is for business messages. One of mine is a stand-alone account and the other is a mirror of all mail sent to my personal accounts. If you have more than one account, you know that you can't have both accounts open in the same browser. But there's one problem with that: It's no longer correct. Setting up a second (or third) account in the same browser is easy and I can show you how.

Your Computer's Biggest Fan: Heat is one of your computer's biggest enemies and many computers have less cooling capacity than they really need. A question from Hawaii reminds me that it's not as easy as just opening the case and adding a fan.

What Happened to MTBF? I was looking at the specifications for some new Seagate hard drives (the Momentus series) when I realized that no rating for MTBF was stated. That's "mean time between failure". Some manufacturers have stated MTBF figures that seem fanciful at best. The fact is, though, that hard drives are a lot less likely to fail than in the past. That doesn't mean you can skip backup, but it does mean that your chance of suffering a catastrophic failure is a lot less than in the past.

Short Circuits: Intel Antivirus: "Huh?" That seems an appropriate response to the news that Intel has purchased antivirus company McAfee for just under $8 billion. The goal is to build in more security to the hardware and to shut out the other software security vendors. Intel has shown itself to be a master at games like this.

Google Retreats in Germany: Germans are concerned by Google's Street View feature. So concerned, in fact, that Google says they can opt out of having their residences shown. The requests would need to be made within 4 weeks, Google said. There was significant push-back from Germans, so Google has increased the time to 8 weeks.

Trusted Sites May Harm Your Computer: According to InformationWeek author Mathew J. Schwartz, up to 5 million domains parked by Network Solutions are actively serving threats. The article quotes employees of Web application security vendor Armorize Technologies, which traced the malware to a widget being offered by Network Solutions. Network Solutions has removed the widget, but Armorize president Wayne Huang says the malicious software is "part of the standard domain parking page of Network Solutions."

Nikon Joins the Video Party: A new digital SLR from Nikon, the D3100, is capable of shooting 1080p high-definition video. That, of course, is in addition to high-quality still digital images. The D3100 is the successor to last year's D3000. It has a 14.2 Mpxl CMOS sensor and is the first digital SLR that offers continuous auto-focus during video recording. The camera also can be used to record 720p video.

August 15, 2010

No-Cost Text Editors: Why a text editor instead of a word processor? This is not a new question. It's one that I've asked and answered previously. I've mentioned that I use a text editor (usually UltraEdit) when I'm writing for TechByter. I do this because I can't apply formatting in a text editor. I have to pay attention to the words. UltraEdit isn't the only choice, though. I'm writing this in the TED Notepad Editor. You have choices and this segment is about those choices.

Rethinking Backup: Technology is moving so quickly that sometimes it's important to reconsider the way you accomplish something to see if there's a better solution. I did that recently with my backup system because my goal is to create the most foolproof backup system possible but still to keep the operation simple.

Short Circuits: Even More Netflix Streaming: No longer is Netflix streaming video just old movies that you'll watch only if you can't find anything else. Netflix will pay about $1 billion to gain access to fils from Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate, and MGM. Netflix continues to show that it's willing to be ahead of the curve.

(Opinion) Google Picks Evil: Google says the plan to kill net neutrality that it has hatched with Verizon will save net neutrality. This reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) statement during the Viet Nam War, "To save the village, we had to destroy it." It also reminds me of "newspeak" as described in George Orwell's novel 1984. Up is down, left is right, war is peace, and we've always been at war with Eastasia.

August 8, 2010

The Computer Seems Faster Because It's Slower: To make a computer faster, sometimes you need to slow things down. It may seem to you that it takes a long time for your computer to start. My office computer is slow because what I do in the office doesn't require a great deal of speed. Where I notice the problem, though, is at startup time. Because every autostart application tries to start at the same time, they get in each other's way. Step on each other's digital toes. Trip each other up. As a result, I can't do any real work on the computer for about 15 minutes. I found a way to fix that.

Free For All: Alt.comp.freeware is a newsgroup that's dedicated to identifying and advancing the best free applications available. Newsgroup? Depending on how long you've known about the Internet, you may know nothing about newsgroups, consider them to be an essential part of your daily life, or think that they're used for nothing but porn and stolen software.

Intel Pledges to Stop Playing Dirty: Based on what's been said about the company, if Intel's chips were on a par with the company's marketing ethics, we'd still be running 4.77 MHz 8088 processors. Now, although it says it never did any of those things that has landed the company in hot water both in the US and abroad, Intel is promising never to do them again. This week the chip maker reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, but that's not the end of Intel's legal challenges.

Short Circuits: The Weekly (Weakly) Kindle Report: Last week I said that Amazon had nearly convinced me to buy a Kindle. Before Monday, I had ordered a Kindle and it was scheduled for delivery around the end of August. On Tuesday, I canceled the order. I haven't ordered one of the competing products and won't until I can research them more carefully. That's too bad because I really like the idea of being able to carry several (or several hundred, or several thousand) books with me for reference or to read at lunch or during other non-productive times.

More Losses for the Incredible Shrinking AOL: America On Line is still in the top 10 when it comes to Web traffic, but you'd never know it from the way the company is perceived. News that AOL has just reported a second-quarter loss of $1 billion isn't going to help with that image, either. The company's base of dial-up users continues to shrink as people move to higher-speed options.

August 1, 2010

Alien Skin's Exposure 3: More Fun than is Legal: I was going to call this section "Film for Your Digital Camera", but decided that "Alien Skin's Exposure 3: More Fun than is Legal" was more accurate. As much as I like digital photography and all of its advantages, some days I miss the look of film. I remember buying Fuji film when I needed to accentuate greens. I remember Kodak's Vericolor 100 that produced superb portraits. Kodachrome, particularly the 25-speed stuff, gave bright and highly saturated colors. When Kodachrome II came along, Paul Simon even sang about it. It's possible to replicate the look and feel of those films if you want to spend hours (or maybe days) tweaking some of Photoshop's settings. Or you can use Alien Skin's Exposure 3.

University of the People: You probably find your e-mail in-box stuffed with "offers" of "degrees" based on your "experience". You can buy a high-priced worthless piece of paper (some even come with phony transcripts), but they're still worthless. At the other end of the spectrum, many legitimate colleges and universities now offer distance learning programs. Now there's a third kind of player: One that offers low-cost education, but no degrees.

Have You Driven Chrome Lately? "When I open an XML file in Chrome," a co-worker grumbled, "nothing happens." He uses and Mac and I decided to see what would happen on my Windows PC. Same thing: Nothing. So I looked to see if there was a setting to control XML display. There isn't, but there was an extension that enables XML display. Extensions? That's always been Firefox's  strength.

Short Circuits: Accused Botnet Bozo Behind Bars: The Mariposa Botnet has infected millions of computers worldwide and has been used to steal credit card data, but now the creator of the botnet is said to be behind bars. US, Spanish, and Slovenian law enforcement agencies worked together to corner a 23-year-old Solvenian so far identified only as "Iserdo" and jail him.

Kindle! $139! (Or Is It?) I like the idea of the Kindle, but I don't own one. Amazon is making a big deal out of its recent price drop. The Kindle is just $139 with free 2-day shipping. But if you continue reading, you'll find that there's another model for $189 and a third for $379. What's the difference? Let's take a look.

July 25, 2010

Need More Desktops? Have No Space? Desk Space! Do you have room for 6 monitors on your desk? I do. A few weeks ago, I described the luxury of having a nearly 24-inch monitor on the desk at home. Then I mentioned the even greater luxury of having 2 monitors on the desk at the office. It would be wonderful to have a second monitor at home, but there's really not enough space, so I have 6. Virtually.

Will You Still Love Me When I'm (Windows) 64(-bit)? Not quite 1% of Windows XP users installed the 64-bit version. About 11% of the people who bought Vista installed the 64-bit version. This is the version of Vista that actually more-or-less worked. Now that Windows 7 is out, 64-bit usage is up. Way up, in fact. Hovering just below the 50% mark, 64-bit penetration for Windows 7 is more than 4 times what it was for Vista. If you haven't yet migrated to Windows 7, consider this a strong indication that spending a little extra for a 64-bit system and the additional memory it can use to be worthwhile.

Print Is (Almost Officially) Dead: The founder and CEO of, Jeff Bezos, said something both surprising and expected this week. He said that Amazon now sells more electronic books than hardcover books. That may seem shocking, but we know that the print industry has been in decline for many years. So it may be surprising that this happened so soon, but it shouldn't be too surprising. And when you consider how carefully Bezos worded the sentence, maybe it's not surprising at all.

What About Newspapers? Many newspapers have announced that they will begin charging for Web access. The Columbus Dispatch this week, on the heels of a hefty price increase for home delivery, announced an online version that looks just like the print version and is available to print subscribers for free.

Short Circuits: Windows XP with SP2: Time for an Upgrade! Computerworld recently included a story that stopped me short: Microsoft has ended all support for Windows XP (service pack 2). It wasn't the fact that support has ended that surprised me; it's the fact that anyone would still be running XP with service pack 2. After all, service pack 3 was released more than 2 years ago. Service pack 2 was released late in 2004.

Final Reminder: Technology-Corner and 610Tech Ends: The last year that Technology Corner was on 610 WTVN was 2006. Since then, it's been TechByter Worldwide. This month, the old domain names ( and become history. If you're still using either one of them, please update your link to

July 18, 2010

Xara Designer Pro 6: Pay Less and Get More: Sometimes to acquire outstanding software functionality, you're forced to pay less than you expected. In the case of Xara Designer Pro 6, it's a lot less than you expected. Xara has developed the uncanny ability to create applications that do more than you should expect them to, and that's demonstrated clearly in version 6 of the application.

TechByter Videos: Not everything lends itself to a verbal (consisting of words) or oral (spoken) description. That's why I've been looking at what TechByter Worldwide can do with video. Don't expect the program to become a TV show or even a videocast. As I may have mentioned a time or two, I have a face that's perfect for radio. But sometimes I can create a better explanation if I use a bit of video. Video will, of course, always be embedded on the website and won't be included in the podcast (because it can't be) or in the weekly e-mail (because it shouldn't be).

Two Are Better than One: On Independence Day, I mentioned that I really liked having a large (23.6-inch, 1920 by 1080) monitor because I can put so much on it. What's even better is 2 monitors. At the office I added a second monitor and the difference was astonishing. I've never met anyone who, after trying a second monitor, would ever go back to a single monitor. Now I know why.

Short Circuits: How Broad Is Your Band? Broadband in the US is faster than it used to be. It's in more locations than it used to be. The federal government's Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) and Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) are part of the stimulus program and have, as their goal, expanding and speeding the Internet. And it's about time.

The Apple Non-Recall: Rumors were thick that Apple would recall its latest model Iphone because of problems with dropped calls. Earlier Steve Jobs essentially blew off complainers by saying they were holding the phone wrong. Jobs was a bit friendlier on Friday and admitted that problems exist, but blamed the lack of sufficient AT&T cell phone towers, particularly in California, for some of the difficulties. So Apple will .... and Go Away: The last year that Technology Corner was on 610 WTVN was 2006. Since then, it's been TechByter Worldwide. This month, the old domain names ( and become history. If you're still using either one of them, please update your link to

July 11, 2010

A Mini-Bridge to Everywhere: Adobe Bridge is indispensable. That's why it's included with all of the CS5 suites and with most of the applications if you buy them individually. It is particularly useful in conjunction with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign because it makes organizing assets easy. CS5 includes the "Mini Bridge" with several applications to bring Bridge's functionality inside programs such as Photoshop. If you use any Adobe application and you haven't yet explored Bridge, you're cheating yourself.

Microsoft: Did You Misunderstand the "N" or the "O"? I keep changing Windows Update to "download but don't install" and Microsoft keeps changing it back to "automatic". Stop it already! The most recent incident occurred on June 24th. Fortunately, that was a Thursday, so it wasn't a big deal. But this has the potential to be a real pain. I set Windows Update to "download but don't install" because that's the way I want it to work. Will Microsoft please stop deciding how I want to use my computer!

What Can You Watch Instantly on Netflix? The Watch Instantly feature on Netflix is fine if you want to watch older movies, but that's about the change. Netflix and Relativity Media have signed an agreement that will make Relativity Media properties available during what's called the "pay TV window". That's the time when movies are available on premium TV channels, but not elsewhere. Although Relativity Media is a small player, this is a huge change.

Short Circuits: ICANN: Sex Exists: After shooting the idea down several times, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has finally admitted that "xxx" might be a good top-level domain. Pornography is easily to find and difficult to exclude if you want to exclude it. The xxx top-level domain would make it easier to classify and organize. So it's a good idea, right? The porn industry says no and they agree with some fundamentalist churches.

Google vs. China: China Wins: Back in March, Google closed its offices in China and began directing users to its uncensored Hong Kong site. Yes, Hong Kong is part of China now, but the Chinese government has allowed the area's freedoms to remain. It was always more theater than substance, though, because uncensored search results were still censored by the Great Firewall of China before being returned to Chinese citizens.

TechByter Worldwide is 200 (Podcasts, That Is): I continue to be both surprised and gratified by the response to TechByter Worldwide as the program passes the 200th podcast anniversary. Because I take a couple of weeks off every year, that's about 4 years of podcasts. The new medium makes it possible for anyone with a message to attract an audience.

July 4, 2010 (Independence Day)

Happy Independence Day! This is Independence Day weekend and I'd planned not to run a standard program this week. But ...

Other Topics, NEC: No, NEC is not National Electrical Code. Well, it is, but not in this case. This time it means not elsewhere classified. I realized that I had several oddball thoughts and comments lying around. These are what Paul Harvey would have called potpourri. This seems to be a good mix for a holiday weekend. and Go Away: The last year that Technology Corner was on 610 WTVN was 2006. Since then, it's been TechByter Worldwide. This month, the old domain names ( and become history. If you're still using either one of them, please update your link to

E-Mail Fraud: What happens if you think your e-mail address has been compromised? I have some suggestions.

Disk Drives Are Free: The thought of a 500GB hard drive for $40 might once have been remarkable and that's what was in this week's MicroCenter mailer, but it isn't now even though it's 5000 times larger than the first PC hard drive, far faster, and costs less than half what the original drive did.

Big Screen Makes a Difference: This week I replaced a 1400x900 17" monitor (once it seemed huge) with a 1920x1080 24" (well 23.6" really) monitor. The extra resolution really makes a difference. If you need to run a lot of applications simultaneously and be able to see more than one at a time, you have 2 choices: More than 1 monitor or a large high-resolution monitor.

Just Answers: Recently I had a question about an electrical concern in my younger daughter's house. In the process of researching the question, I came across Just Answer, a website that promised me an answer to my question for a few dollars. And I could specify how much I wanted to pay. This is an interesting idea.

Free Music from Your Library: I've mentioned occasionally that I'm a fan of libraries (socialist that I am) and this week the Grandview Heights Library announced something new: Free music downloads that are legal and free for you to keep. That got my attention.

Did You Sign Up for WikiMedia or a Blog? The latest nonsense from the people who want to enslave your computer looks like a legitimate notice from WikiMedia, Wikipedia, or any of several blogging services. The message says you've signed up and that you need to click a link to confirm your address. If you didn't sign up, the message says, you should click another link to cancel the action. Uh-oh!

June 27, 2010

Photoshop is Everything You Need and Then Some: As I tried to decide how to describe the latest version of Photoshop, I found myself thinking about the fable from India in which several blind men attempt to understand an elephant. Was the elephant a wall, a spear, a snake, a fan, a tree, or a rope? The elephant is, of course, like all of these. Similarly, I wondered if Photoshop is a program for photographers, graphic designers, website developers, new-media painters, or motion-graphics creators. It is, of course, for all them.

Alien Skin's Film for Your Digital Camera: Remember film? Every film type had a particular look. Kodachrome was contrasty and yielded bright colors. Ektachome was more neutral. Fuji films did a great job with greens. Kodak's Vericolor was the clear choice of most professional photographers. Then came digital photography and everything was pretty much the same. Alien Skin's Exposure was designed to help digital photographers replicate that special film look and now version 3 is shipping. There's even a 64-bit version for the pros.

Google Wants to be Your Phone Company: This week Google finally announced that anybody who wants a Google Voice phone number can obtain one. There's a lot to like about the program, a few things to dislike, and a fair amount to be concerned about.

Short Circuits: Warner Brothers Accused of Thievery: Warner Brothers. That's one of the big companies that likes to sue people they feel are pirating the companies movies and music. Now another company has sued Warner Brothers, claiming the big WB is illegally using its software. In all fairness, the case hasn't gone to court yet and Warner Brothers could easily settle out of court without admitting the thievery. But the irony is rich nonetheless.

Are You Stupid? That may seem to be a needlessly offensive question, but if you have a phone that's capable of sending text messages, there's about a 50% chance that you're an idiot. Many of us think that it's teens who do stupid things such as send text messages while driving. They do this, we adults think, because their minds haven't yet fully developed. As it turns out, about 1/3 of teens admit to do this. Nearly half of adults admit it.

June 20, 2010

SnagIt Beats SnagIt and It's Not Even Close: Memo to self: Stop saying, with each new edition of SnagIt, that the application cannot be improved. You will be wrong again. Most of the screen images you see on TechByter Worldwide are from SnagIt and there's a good reason: I haven't found anything better. SnagIt is now in double digits (version 10) and it's better than ever. In fact, after working with a review copy for less than 5 minutes, I ordered the latest version for the office. Yes, it's that good.

Fixing a Keyboard: In an earlier episode, I mentioned that Microsoft replaced a keyboard when I complained about the markings wearing away on some of the more-used keys. At the time, I complained that the replacement, like the keyboard it replaced, had several keys in what I consider to be the wrong place. I was forever pressing Insert when I wanted Home or Delete when I wanted End. When I'd finally had enough, I pried some keys off the keyboard and moved them. Then I edited the Registry. The keys are now where I want them.

Short Circuits: The FCC Finally Wants to Reclassify Broadband Providers: For some reason, this has taken on a political context and it's being framed as a "government takeover" of the Internet. The broadband providers are doing a superb job of spinning their story. Who created the Internet? Right, it was the government. Now the broadband providers want to take over control of the Internet so that they can control what you see. The FCC wants to regulate the Internet to keep it open the way it is now. And the broadband providers try to convince is that it's the government that wants to take over something. Up is down, open is closed, free is imprisoned, and we have always been at war with Oceania. [1984, Orwell]

Want a New Iphone? You're not Alone: Apple says that more than half a million Iphones were ordered in the first 24 hours that they were on sale this week. The only reason the number wasn't higher was that technical problems stifled some of the orders. AT&T stores, for example, couldn't take orders.

Department of Justice Sues Oracle: Saying that Oracle engaged in price gouging, the US Department of Justice filed suit against Oracle. The suit claims that the company failed to disclose discounts and, as a result, overcharged the federal government by tens of millions of dollars. The General Services Agency's contracts are being reviewed and this is the third suit by the Justice Department in the past quarter.

June 13, 2010

OneNote is no Johnny One Note: When I start gathering information for a product review, I use Microsoft's OneNote  to store my thoughts and comments, reference information, and testing plans. As the review progresses, I add information to OneNote and start writing the review. When the review nears completion, I copy it from OneNote to Dreamweaver. This is a process that I started with OneNote 2007 and it's even better with the Office 2010 version. Try OneNote for a few weeks and you'll be hooked.

Adobe Pours High-End Features into Lightroom 3: A casual observer would be forgiven for being a bit confused about which products by Adobe are meant for which market. There's the free online at the low end. Photoshop and Photoshop Pro occupy the high end. Photoshop Elements is used by casual photographers and some serious amateurs. So where does Lightroom fit? When I talked with Adobe Senior Product Manager Tom Hogarty, he said that it spans the space between professionals and serious amateurs. Lightroom 3 should please both groups.

Short Circuits: Church Website Hacked; My Warning Ignored: "Hello," the message began. "The user Marquis suggests you to become friends on YouTube. Offers and acceptance of offers on friendship simplify tracing of that your friends place in the selected works, add or estimate, and also simplifies video departure by all or to the selected users. To accept or reject this invitation, pass in INBOX." The phrasing makes is clear that the writer is a native speaker of a Slavic language and not somebody that YouTube (owned by Google) would allow to write for public consumption. I wonder how many people fell for the ruse.

Microsoft Does the Right Thing. Twice. When I wrote about the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, I called it "the worst keyboard ever". I also mentioned that I had complained to Microsoft and that the company planned to send a replacement. The replacement I wanted (an older model with a key configuration that my fingers were familiar with) turned out not to be in stock. Instead, Microsoft replaced the "worst keyboard ever" with a Natural Wireless Ergonomic 7000 desk set that sells for nearly double what I paid for the "worst keyboard ever". So that's one thing that Microsoft did right. There's another.

June 6, 2010

The Fast Website Application You Can Use: You need a website and you need it fast, but you can't afford to hire a designer and a developer. Now what? If you can afford $50, Xara Web Designer 6 is the answer. You won't need to buy any other tools because Xara has everything you need in the application.

PC Magazine Scores 1 for 3: PC Magazine has always offered utilities. Maybe not always, but from the early days when the utilities were presented as programming tutorials. For about $20 per year, you can download any of their utilities and I consider this to be a good deal even if sometimes 2 of the 3 downloads turn out to be useless. That's what happened this week. A message from PC Mag described several utilities that looked worthwhile. I downloaded 3. Within an hour, I had discarded 2, but the 3rd is a keeper.

Short Circuits: AT&T Uses More Plans to Serve Less: If you have an Iphone and you use it a lot each day on the Internet, you'll be disappointed that the unlimited data plan is gone and, instead of $30 per month, you'll pay $25 but usage is capped at 2GB per month. Yes, that comes out to about 67MB per day. That may sound like a lot, but it's not if you use the phone for video. Exceed the limit and you'll pay another $10 per gigabyte.

Facebook Does Privacy. Again. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook when he was 19. He's now all of 26. For the past year or so, Zuckerberg and Facebook have been criticized for their privacy policies. Seven years ago Facebook didn't have status updates, photo albums, news feeds, or messages. Seven years ago you could obtain a Facebook account only if you were a college student in the United States. Seven years ago, your information was visible only to people in your networks. In the computer industry 7 years is a long time and Facebook is nothing like it was when Zuckerberg started it.

Running a Campaign in the Cloud: and Microsoft will work together to provide the technology needed to run political campaigns, both for candidates and issues. They're calling it, of course, "Campaign Cloud" and they say it consists of a set of customizable technologies, from online collaboration to presence on the Web. The initiative was announced Friday at the Personal Democracy Forum Conference 2010, in New York City.

Coming to a Target Near You, the Kindle: As of June 6, you'll be able to walk into a Target store and buy an Amazon Kindle e-reader. Until now the Kindle has been available only from Amazon's website. It is the site's best selling hardware. This follows a test at 104 Target stores and Target has characterized the test as overwhelmingly positive.

Massive Influx of Fake "Greeting Cards": On Friday, I started receiving "greeting cards" -- several of them per hour. They were all phony and probably all dangerous. This is a time when it's good to think about a link before clicking it.

May 30, 2010

Amid the Gingerbread, Some Powerful Improvements: Microsoft Word has, for more than a decade, been the world's primary word processor program. Word 2007 was revolutionary, but Word 2010 is evolutionary. The most significant change for power users is the ability to modify the Ribbon, but security features and the ability to recover a document you neglected to save are also welcome improvements. Word's developers continue to push the application down the path of being a publishing program and I'm not as happy about that.

VueScan Should Have Come with Your Scanner: Several years ago, when I was doing considerably more scanning than I do today, I bought an Epson Perfection 3200 Photo scanner. Epson made drivers for Vista and even for Windows 7, but not for the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Although I don't use the scanner a lot these days, I do still need to use it from time to time, so I had a choice: Buy another scanner that's the equivalent of the Perfection 3200 (about $800) or install Ed Hamrick's VueScan (about $40).

My "Itunes" "Purchase": There it was, amidst the offers for "generic" Viagra, a message from Itunes thanking me for purchasing a gift certificate. That's something I have done, but not recently, so I knew it was a fake. I thought I'd take a look, though, because the fakes that try to plant malware on your computer continue to get better.

Short Circuits: Are You Serious? This week I was talking with a company that provides a service to some fairly large businesses. I needed to send my contact some information, so I asked for his e-mail address. "" he said. Well, he didn't really say "NotSeriousAboutBusiness", but he might as well have.

Vacationing with Co-Workers: I've been on vacation this week with a co-worker and her husband. Not exactly in the car with them as they travel through the West, but watching closely. Every night they post the day's pictures on their website. How we use photography has changed so much in the past 20 years or so!

Reclining with Your Ipad: Regardless of how "cool" it is, I don't own an Ipad and I don't plan to own one anytime in the near future. But a lot of people do and the market for add-on hardware is hot at the moment. I've seen keyboards, stands, and other accessories designed for the Ipad. One that looks interesting is the Recliner by LapWorks.

Remember When We Thought Apple Would Fail? I was one of those people who, during the darkest days of the company's history, thought that Apple would go out of business. Then came OS X, the Ipod, and Itunes. This week, something remarkable happened: Apple's value exceeded that of Microsoft.

May 23, 2010

A Smart Way to Make Your Computer Dumb: Mainframe computers and mini-computers are designed to be used with "dumb terminals", video screens with a keyboard but no computer. Years ago, a terminal on my desk connected me to a Digital Equipment Corporation 11/70 minicomputer running RS/TS. This was eventually replaced by a personal computer, but the PC needed to connect to the DEC minicomputer, so we used a terminal emulation program that made the PC look like a dumb terminal to the minicomputer. Fast-forward a couple of decades. At the office, you may still need to connect to a corporate computer and you'll still need to make your computer look like a dumb terminal. If so, you should take a look at Van Dyke's Secure CRT.

A Photoshop Question from Vista: No, not the operating system. The question is from a reader in Vista, California: "I still miss how to use layers and last week's article on what you did to the Kaydee-Phyllis photo provides me with an example. I would save the photo with a new name, clone the grass in place, and flatten. Then I would do the same thing to get the legs in place. The two things I don't get are the advantage of doing it on separate layers and how to get to just the new legs that I want, in a new layer, without extensive, painstaking erasing of the rest of the picture that I don't want to insert." I feel an illustrated example coming on. Stop by the TBWW website to take a look.

Short Circuits: The Worst Keyboard Ever: I enjoy writing favorable reviews because such a review means that I've found something that somebody else might like to use. For many years I enjoyed using a Microsoft Natural Multimedia Keyboard. In fact, I even wrote about taking it apart and cleaning it instead of replacing it. Eventually it needed to be replaced and I bought Microsoft's Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, thinking it would be an upgrade. Wrong!

Symantec Expands into Authentication: Possibly because competing organizations such as Comodo offer services that Symantec doesn't, Symantec has agreed to acquire VeriSign's identity and authentication business unit. The VeriSign check mark appears on more than 90,000 websites in 160 countries and the business unit would seem to be a good fit with Symantec's existing security business. Symantec says that it will incorporate the VeriSign check mark into a new Symantec logo when the deal closes.

The Next Step in Disk Drives: Free? That is, of course, hyperbole but not a lot of hyperbole. Remember when handheld calculators cost $400, then $100, then $10, and now you can buy them for $2 or less in bulk. I needed to buy a 500GB external hard drive a few weeks ago and found one from Seagate for about $70 delivered. Today I could buy a 2TB hard drive from NewEgg for $120. Granted, it's from a 2nd-tier manufacturer (Samsung), it's a slow (5400RPM) drive with only a small (32MB cache) and a mediocre (8.9ms) seek time. But still, that's a huge amount of storage for the cost of about a dozen lunches at a fast-food joint.

May 16, 2010

Body Snatching with Photoshop: On May 1, my wife, Phyllis, and younger daughter, Kaydee, participated a local television station’s Commit to Be Fit 5K walk and run. I took their pictures after the event, several with Phyllis, Kaydee, and one of Kaydee’s friends and several with just Phyllis and Kaydee. What I didn’t notice was that in the pictures of Phyllis and Kaydee, Kaydee was standing with her legs in an odd position. As recently as a few years ago, there would have been no way to remedy this. Today it’s easy.

Wow! Everything's New Again: After several months of having no large suite applications to review, it seems that somebody opened the flood gates. Adobe's Creative Suite 5 is shipping. Microsoft's Office 2010 suite will start shipping in June and I've been using it for a couple of weeks. The next version of Corel's Wordperfect Office is out, too. Busy. Busy. Oh, and Firefox 4 is on the horizon, too, and TechSmith has a new version of SnagIt.

Should You Move to a 64-bit Operating System? Have I convinced you yet that your next computer should be a 64-bit system? The advantages of 64-bit hardware are certainly significant, but shortcomings exist, too. Some commonly-used applications currently aren't available in 64-bit versions.

A Giant Economy-Size Time Sink: I mentioned recently that I'd encountered a problem upgrading Ubuntu on the notebook computer. Even so, I decided to proceed with the process on the desktop. What's the worst that can happen—the installation might fail and I would have to reinstall Ubuntu. It didn't quite turn out that way.

Short Circuits: Interesting Times for Lower Merion School District: The FBI is starting an investigation of the Lower Merion School District. That's the suburban Philadelphia school system that apparently spied on students by surreptitiously activating cameras on laptop computers issued to students by the school district. Parents have already filed suit, but now the school system's administrators could face criminal prosecution.

Needed? Another Operating System: Remember Google's Chrome operating system? Google hasn't said much about it for a while, but now reports are surfacing that Acer will show some Chrome-powered netbook computers at Computex, a technology show in Taipei, starting on June first.

May 9, 2010

First Look: Office 2010: Microsoft's Office Suite 2010 will be released in June, both as an online service and as applications that run on your PC. If you buy Office 2007 between now and September, your upgrade to the 2010 version is free. Otherwise, there's an upgrade fee. With the release date fast approaching, I decided that you're wondering what's new for 2010.

Which Drive Will Boot the System? A reader's question: "I have a new 1TB SATA drive. I removed a 40GB SATA boot drive, formatted the 1TB drive, and installed XP Pro on it. The motherboard has 4 SATA ports on the motherboard, so it looks as though I could have both of them (and more) connected. But if I put both into the tower and connect their SATA cables and power cables, what determines which is chosen to boot the system?" There's a quick answer to this question, but the full answer becomes a bit more complicated.

Ubuntu "Disaster" Not So Much: I had a "major disaster" with Ubuntu this week. A new version of the operating system was available, so I accepted the download on my notebook computer. The only problem was that the upgrade blew up as it neared completion. I was able to get Ubuntu running again, but parts of the interface were missing. The only way to close a program was through the File menu and not every application has a File menu. The solution turned out to be easy.

Short Circuits: New from Skype: Video: Skype is planning to launch a public beta test of a video chat function that will allow up to 5 people to chat simultaneously. The beta test will be free, but Skype plans to start charging for the service by the third quarter.

Another Day, Another Facebook Security Question: Facebook information that you thought was private might not have been. Facebook has patched the latest security embarrassment, but the continued drumbeat of leaks isn't endearing the company to its users. Of course, posting private information to a site that's designed to share information, even if some of that information is intended to be private, might make you think of a raging oxymoron.

May 2, 2010

Pimp (or Bloat) Your Browser with Add-Ons: Every time you install another add-on in Firefox, you make it just a little more bloated and a bit slower. For that reason, it's important to pick your add-ons carefully. Add-ons are one of Firefox's best features because they allow you to create a browser with the features that you want. Although they slow the startup process and make Firefox consume more memory, selecting the best add-ons will save time, not cost time.

Fake Antivirus Warning are a Major Threat: I've mentioned these before. You're using a browser and without warning an alert pops up. It suggests that your computer is infected and encourages you to click a link to fix the problem. Chances are, your computer wasn't infected, but if you click the link it probably will be.

The Camera Never Lies, or Does It? Even in the old days, "the camera never lies" was wrong. By choosing the right lens and an appropriate vantage point, it was easy to distort reality. The soviets were well known for photo compositions that removed "disgraced" leaders from their positions on Lenin's Tomb for May Day Parades. (Lavrentiy Beria there one year, gone the next, for example.) But if you wanted to lie with a camera, you needed some knowledge of optics and the ability to use an airbrush. Today, it's easier.

Short Circuits: Scratching HP's Palm: Rumored for many days, the deal between HP and Palm was announced this week. The computer giant plans to purchase the fading smartphone provider for approximately $1.2 billion. HP sees value in some of Palm's technology—both hardware and the Palm WebOS operating system—for use in devices that will compete with Apple's Ipad.

Storming Back: Remember the Storm worm? Perhaps you thought it was gone. Not so. Computer Associates (now known as CA) says that the worm is back although in this iteration it seems not to be particularly widespread (yet) or dangerous (yet).

How to Obtain Fast Internet Connections: Move to Asia: If you don't want to move to Asia to obtain the best Internet access speeds, then try Berkeley, California; Stanford, California; or Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Those are the 3 US cities with the fastest speeds according to acceleration specialist Akami in a report issued this week. Japan leads the rest of the world.

A Final Note: The Internet in a Time of Grief: Last week's program was brief and without a podcast because one of our cats was ill. I had been distracted by that most of the week and a final diagnosis on Saturday required a 5-hour stay at MedVet. During that horrible week, I found the Internet to be useful in dealing with the immediate medical problem and with the grief.

April 25, 2010 (No podcast this week.)

Net Neutrality: The FCC Extends the Comment Period: A recent Supreme Court struck down an attempt to keep the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing Net Neutrality, which is in the best interest of Internet users like you and me. The Supreme Court decision was correct, given the legal situation, but the FCC could still enforce Net Neutrality by classifying broadband providers as they should have been classified in the first place, as communications services.

Please—of you haven't yet spoken out for YOUR rights, do it this weekend.

Now You Can Create a Flash Application: The metaphor mixer is broken and I'm having trouble keeping my socks on and keeping my jaw out of the basement. Adobe CS5 Flash Catalyst is clearly a proof-of-concept application but even so it's an application that will make it possible for designers to do some of the work that would otherwise be handed off to programmers. In its first iteration, Flash Catalyst is little short of amazing.

Beware the Fraudulent Link: In the past week or so, I've received e-mail messages that claim to come from people I know. The messages contain nothing but a link. Should I click it? My answer is always NO and there's a good reason for this caution. Most of the messages have come from people who use G-mail accounts, but I've also seen them from Yahoo accounts.

It's a Short, Short, Short, Short Show: Maybe you remember It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World from the 1960s. That's where I stole the headline from. This week's program is much shorter than usual and there is no time to create a podcast. To make a long story as short as possible, on Monday we found that the cat who adopted me 10 years ago was bleeding internally. An ultrasound (not a CAT scan) on Saturday should determine whether it's some repairable trauma (unlikely) or a life-ending cancer (likely). The week has been a bit crazy for the same reason and I haven't been able to devote the time needed to assemble the kind of information you expect.

April 18, 2010

First Looks: Adobe Creative Suite 5: This week's TechByter Worldwide was prepared using the CS5 version of Adobe Dreamweaver. The CS5 Master Collection is gigantic: The beta download took hours because it is 8.8 gigabytes and installing all of the applications adds a total of 21 items of the Start Menu. Because of the size and complexity of CS5, I'm not currently offering a review of the entire suite or even of any one application. Instead, I'll be telling you what I've found over the next several months. What I have for you this week is the first scouting report into CS5 territory.

Worth the Hassle: 64-Bit Computing: Imagine this: You own a 1989 Yugo GV but you've suddenly come into a large sum of money and you trade your 1989 Yugo GV in for a 2010 Rolls Royce Ghost. What differences might you notice? I have never owned a Yugo GV (but I did once own a Fiat 128, which is what the Yugo was based on) and I have never owned, driven, or even been a passenger in any sort of Rolls Royce. But what I experienced in moving from a 32-bit operating system to a 64-bit operating system made me think of that comparison. In short, it has been astonishing.

Short Circuits: Test and Keep and Ipad? Yeah. Right. Sitting in my anti-spam inbox, a message promised that I could "test" an Ipad for a month and then, "as a reward", keep it for free. The website says 25,000 "beta" testers are needed. Why? The Ipad isn't a beta device any more. I noticed the stench of a rat, but the website is very convincing.

Intel Flies Through the Ceiling: According to the computer industry, the recession is over. Intel’s first quarter results met the company's (and Wall Street's) expectations. In fact, it beat them.

Did HP Bribe the Russians? Hewlett-Packard says it is cooperating fully with German and Russian authorities after Russian police raided the Moscow offices of HP. The company is accused of paying bribes to win Russian government contracts. Ouch.

April 11, 2010

Net Neutrality: Slip Sliding Away: To some, what follow may seem like a political comment. It is not. This is a technological comment. A federal court has ruled against the Federal Communications Commission's "Net Neutrality" doctrine that would prohibit telephone companies and other Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to their own content while restricting content from other sources even though the service providers' customers want the content. In part, this is because the FCC incorrectly classified cable companies, telephone companies, and other broadband providers. This is a problem that can be remedied and you can help.

A Fix for Easy Problems Plays Hard to Get: When I encountered FixWin, it seemed like a worthwhile utility to have on a Vista or Windows 7 computer, so I decided to try it. The first problem I encountered was in my attempt to download it. After that, I couldn't find any problems to fix. But it's still worth your consideration. Maybe

Adobe Updates CS4 & Prepares to Ship CS5: With the Adobe Creative Suite 5 train preparing to leave the station on Monday, April 12, the company is continuing to provide updates for the CS4 version. At this point, everything about CS5 except the release date is under wraps, but if you use any of the CS4 applications, you'll probably want the latest updates.

April 4, 2010

Security: Removing Threats: The first two sections on security dealt primarily with avoidance and, to some extent, discovery. This third section covers the Now what? phase. If your computer is infected, the next step is to eliminate the infection. That might be as easy as running ComboFix or Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, or you may find that you need to format the hard drive and reinstall everything. (Ugh!) That's why it's so important to avoid this stuff rather than recover from it.

Protecting Your Privacy on Facebook: If you post something on Facebook, you might think that only your friends would be able to see it. Or you might think that it's visible to just about anybody. It used to be private because Facebook started as a service for college students. Nobody else could get an account. Now anybody can and Facebook seems to think that everyone will want to share all their details with everybody. Among others, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating. But if you have a Facebook account and you accepted Facebook's "recommended" settings, you may be sharing more than you want to.

Short Circuits: Ipad Finally on Sale: It seems like a long time since Apple introduced the Ipad, but now you can finally buy one. Cnet is suggesting that sales may reach 7 million units this year and I have to wonder what Apple has planned in 3 or 6 months in terms of increased performance, decreased price, or both that will send Apple fans into orbit as happened the the Iphone.

Computer Pioneer Henry Edward Roberts Has Died: Henry Edward Roberts had an interesting life. As a former military man, he developed the MITS Altair 8800 computer that was featured on the cover of Popular Electronics in 1975. I remember that cover. I remember thinking how neat it would be to own a computer. Then I forgot about it. Bill Gates and Paul Allen saw the cover, too, but they did something about it.

Something New from TechByter Worldwide: TechByter Worldwide has maintained a weekly schedule that it inherited from its days on radio, but I've been thinking about how I might provide more timely, if occasional, updates. The result is TechByter:TODAY, a website that's powered by WordPress, one of many blogging and content management systems I looked at before selecting one.

March 28, 2010

Security: Looking for Vulnerabilities: This week, I have the second part of a 3-part series on security. Software publishers regularly release updates that patch security flaws. The problem is knowing when these patches have been released. Microsoft does a good job of patching its own application via the Windows Update service and other publishers such as Adobe routinely have their applications check for updates. But what about your other applications? That's where a free application from Secunia can help.

Firefox 3.6 Adds Security and Style: A new version of Firefox is out and you may already have been prompted to download it. Version 3.6 is slightly faster than 3.5, which was considerably faster than 3.0. New features have been added to improve security and to allow users to change Firefox's appearance. If you're already a Firefox user, you'll want this version. And if you're still using some other browser, you may want to take a look at Firefox.

The First Ten Dot-Coms: A couple of weeks ago the very first dot-com turned 25 years old. These days something like 100,000 domains are registered every day. Back then, it was 9 days until the second and third domains were registered; it was just a few days shy of a year before domain number 10 was registered. Do you remember who was there first? It wasn't Microsoft or IBM. Some of the original registrants are no longer in business and the domain name redirects elsewhere. Let's take a look at the first 10 and what's there now.

Short Circuits: It Only Seems Like Forever: In November of 1980, Micro-soft agreed to license a personal-computer operating system that it hadn't written and didn't own to IBM. IBM hadn't announced its personal computer yet; that would come in 1981. And before then Microsoft had to come up with the operating system it had sold. Bill Gates and company worked with a small software company in Seattle, offering them what seemed like a large cash price for a rewrite of an operating system pattered after Digital Research's CP/M operating system. What Microsoft neglected to mention to Seattle Computer was that it intended to license the software to IBM.

97 Percent Spam? Some anti-spam organizations say that 97% of Internet e-mail is spam! Really? The answer is both yes and no. Certainly there's a lot of spam, but even if you're one of the people who receive a lot of spam, spam is probably not 97% of what you receive. So it's a lie? Well, no.

March 21, 2010

Security: Protecting Your Computer from Malware: The malware threat continues to worsen. As the bad guys become more devious and daring, the good guys work to create resources to avoid, identify, and eliminate malware. Practicing "safe computing" is crucial because you can't depend on software to protect you but some applications can help. This week, and for the next 2 weeks, I'll look at some of the applications you can use to help in the battle to keep your computer safe.

OpenDNS is Better than Your ISP's DNS: This is one of those techie accounts that might scare non-techies away. But it shouldn't because it's really not very complicated even though it sounds intimidating. Stick with me for a moment and maybe I'll convince you that you should change your DNS server and that you can. DNS is an initialism for "domain name service". The DNS server is responsible for converting a name that makes sense to you ( to something that computers can use ( Your Internet service provider converts "" to "" (or, more accurately, to 01000001, 00110111, 00001100, 11111001). If your ISP already does this, why whould you want to use some other service? I can explain. Maybe.

The Other "God Mode" GUIDs: In early January, I wrote about the "God Mode" under Windows 7. It involves creating a directory that can be named anything (instead of "God Mode", I named mine "Devil's Playground"). The special directory makes a huge list of Windows functions available. At the same time, I reported that Ina Fried at Cnet News had a list of other special directories. She didn't know what they were and neither did I. Now I do.

Short Circuits: I Own A Multi-Million-Dollar Computer: The cost of solid-state memory and disk space has dropped so fast over the past few years that it's nearly impossible to comprehend. If somebody had told me, in 1985, that I would one day own a computer with 8GB of solid-state memory (RAM) I would have thought that person to be a fool. I had just paid several hundred dollars to increase the RAM in my first computer from 256KB to 320KB.

Why I Continue to Like BlueHost: At the bottom of each page of the TechByter website, you'll see a small advertisement for You might think that I do this because BlueHost pays me when someone signs up for an account after clicking the link. That's true, but there's another reason: I believe that the company provides excellent service for what it charges. Beyond that, top management is accessible when something goes wrong.

March 14, 2010

Eye Candy 6 From Alien Skin (Part 2): Last week I showed you some of the text manipulations that are possible with Alien Skin's Eye Candy 6, but the real fun begins when you work with photographic images. That's where we'll go this week.

Making Excel 2007 Colors Compatible with Excel 2003: Excel 2007 offers, among other advantages, a significantly expanded color palette. Unfortunately, many of the default colors that Excel 2007 offers users are not in the Excel 2003 palette and, when the earlier version opens a sheet that was created in Excel 2007 (even if it was saved in Excel 2003 format) the colors can be hideous and unreadable. There's a quick and easy partial solution.

This Con is so Laughable that You'll Think it's a Joke: This week's con is so absurd that it's difficult to comprehend how anyone could fall for it. The wording, grammar, and punctuation are so laughable that it's impossible to accept that any native speaker of English wrote it, yet it claims to be from an FBI agent. (Applicants to be FBI agents must have a law degree, so that assumes that they are reasonably conversant with English.) It's a obvious con from the moment you see the return address is Portugal.

Short Circuits: China vs. Google: Who Wins? Google continues to chafe as a result of Chinese censorship of the Internet and Google CEO Eric Schmidt said this week that something will change "soon". That brought a blunt rebuke from the Chinese government, along with the threat of retaliation.

Another Try for XXX: It's been 10 years since the proposal was put forth for an "XXX" top level domain. Forcing porn merchants to use "XXX" would make it easier to control and easier for parents to control, but the proposal continues to be controversial.

March 7, 2010

Eye Candy 6 From Alien Skin: Remember "With a name like Smucker's, it's got to be good" as spoken by Mason Adams? If you do, you're older than you look, but then so am I. To twist that marketing phrase just a bit: "With a name like Alien Skin, it's got to be great." I've been looking at Eye Candy 6 and I was happy to find out that it's one of the Alien Skin products that works natively in a 64-bit operating system. I was even happier when I saw what it could do.

Ware Do U Get Yr Nwz? A report by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project says that most Americans get their news the way you're reading this: Via the Internet. More than 90% of us use multiple sources: Maybe some NPR while in the car, a newspaper at the office (or maybe you still have home delivery), perhaps some television (if you can call what the television spews "news"), and a variety of stops on the Internet. Less than 40% of us depend only on off-line sources for news.

The Ultra Cool UltraEdit is 16: This is a report about a tool not too many people need, although about 2 million people around the world use it. UltraEdit is a "text editor", which means it sort of like a word processor, except without the ability to create bold text, italics, bulleted lists, and the like. It's the kind of application that programmers use, but there are some serious writers who use it, too, because it's fast and because it doesn't get in the way.

The Frauds Are Improving: Last Thursday, I received a message from Amazon to confirm my order. (But I don't have any open orders.) The message came to an obsolete office address. (I have never used that address for an Amazon purchase.) But someone who has recently placed an order with Amazon might just be tempted to click the link. That would be a mistake.

February 28, 2010

A Bullet-Proof Multi-Part Backup Plan: Backup is important. I mention that often enough that you're probably sick of reading about it, but it really is important. Often I talk about Carbonite, an online backup service that makes the process so easy that nobody can honestly say it's too difficult to understand. But as much as I like Carbonite, it's not my only backup. I also use Acronis True Image and I think you should, too.

Tune Up: A Buggy But Useful Itunes Helper: From the name, you might think Tune Up would make your computer run better. It doesn't, but it makes Itunes look a lot better. A lot of my tracks in Itunes are from CDs or records that I own. As a result, they didn't have cover art and sometimes the track information and other metadata were wrong. I could use Itunes to obtain the cover art and manually edit the track names and add the metadata, but there's a much better way.

A Link to Avoid: Your e-mail in box contains a message from someone you know. The message has no subject. There's no signature. You notice dozens of other e-mail addresses in the to line. Some of these addresses are familiar to you, but others are not. The message consists of a single line of text, a URL to a website you've never heard of. Would you click it?

Nigerian Spammers Migrate to Benin: I received a message from Ruben Moussa, Inspector General of Police in Benin, a country in west Africa. Among Benin's neighbor countries is Nigeria, and apparently some Nigerian crooks have decided to move their business to Benin. The inspector general told me that my e-mail address was found in the records of some "scam gangsters" and that this country wanted to make good on my misfortune by issuing me a special ATM card that would be delivered by DHL.

Lessons Crooks Need to Learn for Success: I've mentioned a time or two that the average crook is somewhat unlikely to be the holder of a Phi Beta Kappa key, a member of Mensa, or the class valedictorian. This week I received spam from a spammer who wants me to buy things on my credit card, ship them to him, and wait for reimbursement. When the reimbursement arrives, it will be in the form of a "cashier's check" and the check will be for more than the amount owed. I will be asked to return the "extra". A few days later, the check will prove to be a phony and I will be out not only the cost of the goods I bought for the crook but also the cash I sent.

February 21, 2010

Migrating to 64-bit Computing: Last week I promised a report on my move from 32-bit Windows to 64-bit Windows. Had I made the move 20 years ago, I would have been on the extreme leading edge. Had I made the move 10 years ago, I would still have been in a tiny minority of forward-thinking computer users. Even coming to 64-bit computing at this late date, I'm still in a small minority of users. It's different here in 64-bit land. You'll need to make the move someday and you should at least consider whether that "someday" should be when you buy a computer to replace your current computer.

Buzz: An Annoying Noise.
Google Buzz: See Above.
Google does a lot of cool things, but Google Buzz isn't one of them. For starters, you seem to get Buzz whether you want it or not. Second, there are some serious security concerns. In addition to the really cool things Google does, they sometimes commit a major howler. Buzz is more in that category.

Short Circuits: The Threat of Cyber Terrorism: Do you like scary stories? I do, and this is a scary story; but it's not a scary story that you'll like no matter how much you like scary stories. James Lewis, the director for the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was a guest on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross on February 10th. He described several instances in which someone broke in to supposedly secure government computer systems.

Apple Support: I've said nasty things about the people who provide support for hardware and software. And I've also said nasty things about Apple. This week I needed to call on Apple for support and now I'm writing love letters. What happened? I think I can explain.

February 14, 2010

LogMeIn Lets You Be in Two Places at One Time: How can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?" That was the name of a comedy album released by Firesign Theater sometime in the 1960s. It has nothing at all to do with LogMeIn, but I've always liked the name of the album. LogMeIn is the solution to the problem of leaving an important file you want to work on at home on your office computer or the inverse problem of leaving an office file you worked on at home on your home computer. With LogMeIn, you just work on the file using the computer it's on even if you're not there.

Moving to Windows 7 64-bit: By the time you read this (or hear it if you're listening to the podcast) my primary desktop computer should be running the 64-bit version of Windows 7. I'm writing this on Monday, February 8, and the plan is to visit TCR on Friday where I'll find a computer with Windows 7 installed. We'll move the 3 disks from the current computer to the new box and I'll spend some time setting things up and testing. By the time I come home, I should have a fully functional computer. Just to be on the safe side, I recorded this week's podcast on Thursday.

Xmarks the Spot: I keep saying that you should have more than one browser. If you do that, you might want to have the same shortcuts (favorites, bookmarks) available in all of your browsers. I don't because I use Firefox as my primary browser and set up Opera, Chrome, or Internet Explorer for alternate uses. But if you'd like a bit of consistency from browser to browser, or from Firefox on a desktop computer to IE on a notebook computer, Xmarks is what you're looking for.

Short Circuits: Streaming Video: Why You Need High-Speed Internet: Faster and better online streaming video is in your future if only the United States can manage to provide the same kind of service that's enjoyed by the planet's other technological giants such as France, Norway, and South Korea. Netflix is looking at what's required to bring HD video ("1080p") to its subscribers and this is something that could happen within the next few years. This year, Netflix plans to start providing 5.1 audio (enhanced stereo sound) to online viewers. True streaming 1080p will have to wait, but (maybe) not for too long.

Are Computer Games so 1980? Electronic Arts, unarguably one of the largest players in the computer game marketplace appears to be sliding into oblivion. The company says it lost $82 million in the most recent quarter. That's better than a year ago, when EA lost $641 million, but a loss is a loss. Stockholders are happier when the company reports a profit.

February 7, 2010

Learning with Lynda: When you're trying to learn the basics of a new piece of software you've purchased, or when you want to pick up some of the application's finer points, you might want to know Lynda. Lynda Weinman, that is. She's the co-founder of, the on-line library of training videos. Although the training videos range in subject matter from Perl programming and how to get the most out of Ebay to Joomla and Drupal, by far the most common subjects are Adobe Photoshop, other components of the Creative Suite, and digital photography. As I tell you more, you'll understand why.

The Changing Spam and Scam Landscape: Like the city dump in a windstorm, spammers and scammers keep changing the landscape. The underlying goal is always the same, but the techniques keep changing. I gave the slop bucket a closer look than normal this week and fished out a few smelly pieces to share.

PC Magazine Utilities: $20 Well Spent: In the early days, PC Magazine published a utility every month. The article explained how the utility worked and showed the source code. Over the years, this changed and now PC Magazine has a $20-per-year utilities option. Subscribe and you can download any of the magazine's utilities for an entire year. For my money, it's a good way to spend $20.

Short Circuits: Touching Amazon's Kindle: The fact that no small number of Mac fans have dissed the Ipad (for its lame name, weak feature set, and operating system) hasn't kept some in the Windows community from gushing over how wonderful it is. Even those who might be inclined to buy one, perhaps remembering the painful lessons of early Iphone buyers, are waiting for version 2. But the Ipad got Amazon's attention and the company reacted quickly.

A Monster for Yahoo: Yahoo continues to shrink. The goal is to put emphasis on its core business units and spin off those operations that aren't key to Yahoo's core competencies. The latest to go is HotJobs, acquired by Monster for $225 million. Monster says the job market is improving and the acquisition makes sense in today's marketplace.

January 31, 2010

The Unexpected Winner: Norton Internet Security: Written as simply and directly as I can write it: I am in awe of what Symantec developers have accomplished with the code for the latest version of Norton Internet Security. I used Norton Antivirus in the early days of computers, but then it became too big, too bloated, and too slow. It caused even fast computers to crawl. For much of the last decade, I've used AVG Antivirus, but AVG has added a whole suite of protective applications that brought my computer to its knees. After trying and removing other applications, some of which looked interesting at first, I downloaded Norton Internet Security 2010 on Sunday, January 17, for a 30-day trial. I had to provide a credit card number and, if I don't opt out, Norton will charge about $70 to that card in mid February. I have no plans to opt out.

Out! Out! Damn Spot! Have you ever tried to remove a program using the application's built-in uninstaller or the Windows Add and Remove Programs feature? Most of the time, it works; sometimes it fails. Even when it succeeds, though, you'll often be left with some pieces of the program in a directory or in the Registry. But there's a better way and it doesn't cost anything.

IPad: That's the Best Name They Could Think Of? What's wrong in Cupertino? Instead of the usual adulation (although there's plenty of that), Apple's latest gadget is being met with abuse, satire, and derision. The Ipad will probably fly off store shelves, but I have to wonder what engineering was thinking of when they decided to make a computer-size phone in the shape of a tablet computer and what marketing what thinking when they came up with the name.

Short Circuits: Keep Your Hands Off Firefox, Microsoft! They did it again! Microsoft was criticized, and rightly so, about a year ago when it started installing a Net Framework addition in Mozilla Firefox without asking for permission to do so. To make things worse, the installation was botched so that removing it wasn't particularly easy. I've disabled it. I've uninstalled it. And it keeps coming back! Stop it, Microsoft!

Vista Fades as a Bad Fiscal Memory: Microsoft's earnings are up and not just a little. The company says earnings increased 60% in the most recent quarter, compared to the same period a year ago. Apparently holiday shopping and upgrade fever helped out now that Vista is finally out of the picture.

January 24, 2010

Believe Nothing I've Said About Antivirus So Far! Question: "After reading your latest newsletter, I am a bit confused. I am looking for new antivirus. Currently using avast and not thrilled with it. If I am interpreting your letter correctly, there still isn't one you recommend?" Correct, and I was beginning to be more than a little disheartened by what I was finding. But now I've found something that, after just a few days, seems like a winner. But I'm not going to tell you about it.

Is 2010 the Year of Linux? Around 1985, I asked if the age of the CD-ROM had arrived. It hadn't. I asked the same question for the next couple of years and eventually the age of the CD-ROM did arrive. But it was a short-lived victory and was superseded by the age of the DVD. In the early 1990s, I began asking if we had reached the year of the digital camera. Eventually that year arrived and the Eastman Kodak Company began trying to find a way to reinvent itself, something it's still trying to do. For the past several years, I've been asking if this is the year of Linux and the answer has always been negative. That may not change anytime soon.

Have You Looked at Opera Lately? Opera is the browser that tried to bring sanity to an insane world. More than a decade ago, when Microsoft and Netscape were battling for world supremacy based on which could introduce the most non-standard "features", Opera's philosophy seemed to address building the best possible standards-compliant browser. Netscape is dead, although a few die-hards continue to use it. Microsoft's browser is generally scorned but it's still the browser that's used by the largest number of people. Firefox's add-ons make it the browser I couldn't live without. So why is Opera now my default browser?

Short Circuits: Are You STILL Using Internet Explorer? If so, why? Microsoft has once again had to resort to an out-of-cycle emergency patch to fix a browser flaw. This one has been instrumental in allowing attacks against Google and other companies such as Chemical Abstracts. Unlike Firefox, which is patched frequently, Internet Explorer is typically patched only on the monthly Microsoft "patch Tuesday".

Malware, Google, and China: What brought the current Internet Explorer flaws to everyone's attention is a series of attacks, aimed at Google, that originated in China. And that whole mess underlines serious new threats by malware, malicious software that can quickly and easily take over a computer.

January 17, 2010

Multiplying Spam: Rick asks: "For some number of months, I was receiving virtually no spam at all. About two months ago, the spam began increasing on a daily basis. Moreover, most of the spam is landing in the inbox instead of the spam box. Have new spammers come online recently? Also, I use AT&T/Yahoo e-mail. I noticed that the spam filter has a limit of 500 e-mail addresses. Do you know of a spam blocker that I could add to this e-mail service? Should I be looking at switching to another e-mail service provider, one that is not necessarily free?" The quick and easy answers are yes and yes. But you'll want more than that. And you'll have it.

Surrounded by Antivirus Programs: This is an unfinished story, a work in progress. I'm telling it now because it illustrates the frustrations of trying to find the right application or applications to protect your computer's data. For many years, I used AVG Antivirus because it was a light user of system resources. But version 9, released late in 2009 had begun to remind me of Norton Antivirus, the application AVG had replaced. I removed AVG and installed, over the next few months, several antivirus products. Some were free, others were free trials. Shopping for an antivirus program these days isn't easy.

Short Circuits: Disconnected! How important is the Internet to you? I was reminded on Thursday, January 14, how important it is to me. When I arrived at home from the office, I logged on to my account on the computer and noticed that all of the Internet applications indicated no connection. When I called Wide Open West, an intercept recording said, in essence, "Yes, we know."

Googling Broken China? Many media pundits have not been kind to Google this week. The commentators have wondered how and when Google found its moral compass. They've said that maybe Google finally decided not to be evil. And those are the positive comments. This could be interesting. Who is stronger, Google or China?

4-8-16-32-64—Hike! The first personal computer central processing units were 4-bit devices, quickly followed by 8-bit and then 16-bit processors. After a few years, the world moved to 32-bit processors and a few years after that, 64-bit processors were released. Except that the world didn't follow the the 64-bit leader (AMD was first, by the way). Now maybe it's time.

January 10, 2010

Backup Is Easier and Less Expensive than Ever: Whenever I think about computer backups, my first thought is cost. It's easy to think about the hardware as being valuable. After all, you spent several hundred or several thousand dollars to obtain the hardware. But hardware is easy to replace. You may have it insured. The data that's stored on the hard disks cannot easily be replaced and that's why you need insurance for it. In this case, insurance is named "backup".

Windows, Reloaded: Sometimes an operating system such as Windows becomes so badly damaged that the only solution is to reinstall it. This is a scary prospect because it involves formatting the drive, which destroys all programs and data on the computer. The process involves a lot of steps and you'll probably spend many hours working on the computer and you should plan on spending even more time in preparation. It's the preparation that will allow you to save your data. The key is not to start until you're certain that you have everything you need to recover from what is the computer equivalent of brain surgery.

Short Circuits: Program Note: An additional article follows Short Circuits this week. It's a geeky, esoteric topic that I think is interesting, but you may not. For that reason, I've put it at the end of the program and made it easy to skip if you're not interested.

Windows 7's "God Mode": Marshall Thompson, the head honcho at The Computer Room passed along an interesting tip this week. If you're a Windows 7 user, you can create a new directory and call it "GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}". When you do that, the icon immediately changes to the Control Panel icon and the directory contains everything that's in the Control Panel, with more granular control, and other utilities.

Monday I Had to Reboot My Phone. Twice. Monday when I got to the office, my phone wouldn't work. Some network changes had been made over the weekend and I couldn't make or receive calls. After I rebooted the phone, it told me the time was midnight and the date was January 1, 2000. I could make calls, but the phone couldn't find the timeserver, so I had to set the date manually. Later that morning, the network engineer made the changes needed for the phone to see the timeserver and I had to reboot the phone again. Who would have thought, even 5 years ago, that we would be using phone that had to be rebooted!

What Makes the Web Tick? Warning: This is an esoteric topic. If you're a Web developer, you'll want to skip it because you already know everything that I'll be discussing here. If you have no interest in knowing how the Web works, you'll want to skip it because it won't be of interest to you. So my guess is that the worldwide audience for this topic is approximately 104 people. That's why this isn't the lead story or even the second item. I've even positioned it behind Short Circuits. But if you're curious and you like to experiment, this article will be enough to get you started.

January 3, 2010

More Comfortable Seating in the New 2010 Model: The annual TechByter Worldwide site redesign is complete. This year, the changes are mainly evolutionary, but I have made changes. As usual, in this first program of the year, I'll review the changes and explain why I made them.

The State of Online Music in 2010: The music landscape continues to change and it's possible to foresee a time when the people who make music and the people who listen to music will be able to deal almost directly with each other. Increasingly, music is being provided online. Despite what the Recording Industry Association of America says, we're not all thieves. But we all look for a bargain. An increasing number of players in online music distribution has made shopping for music more difficult, but potentially less expensive.

Groovy, Baby! A little-known Microsoft Office application makes it possible to share documents automatically with co-workers, whether they're located in your office, across town, or on the other side of the planet. Although it works well with technologies such as a Microsoft SharePoint server, no such server is required. All that's needed is the installation of an application called Groove on all the PCs that need to share information.

Short Circuits: Nokia vs Apple and Apple vs Nokia: Nokia sued Apple so Apple sued Nokia. Now Now Nokia is suing Apple again. In October Nokia claimed that Apple stole its technology for the Iphone. Apple then accused Nokia of stealing its technology. Now Nokia says that Apple is improperly using technologies covered by 7 patents that cover technologies found in many Apple products.

No Retrospectives Here: The past week has featured a non-stop series of articles from the major media pundits with titles such as That Was the Year That Was, Ten Technologies that Touched Your Life in 2009, The Ten Best Iphone Apps, and one that really surprised me: Stupid Tech Tricks of 2009. Bah. Who cares?