Archive for November 2008

Question for Verizon Internet Users

Update (2/25/09): Some potential solutions for the Google redirect problem can be found here in a post from 12/02/08.

Dear Skylarking Readers: If you use Verizon for your Internet access, I’d like you to go to www.google.com and search for anything, and see if your search results are redirected to www.google.fr.

Here’s why:

In my earlier post, “Why is Google sending me to France?”, I discussed how my Google searches were being redirected to www.google.fr, Google’s French subsidiary. I, not as clearly as I had hoped, suggested that the problem appears to be related to Google’s computers misreading my IP (Internet Protocol) address as originating in France.

To clarify, my ISP (Internet Service Provider) is Verizon FIOS. So Verizon assigns my computers an IP address whenever I connect to the Internet.

Prior to my Google.fr woes, I had received a phone call from my bank stating they believed someone in France had tried to access my bank account. As I worked with their security expert, he looked further and saw it was a Verizon IP address, and further investigation revealed that the IP address originated in New York, and not in France. The bank computers had misread my New York USA IP address as being a French IP address.

It is my opinion that Google is also misreading the IP addresses. It is my opinion that this problem is specific to Verizon users. Perhaps just FIOS users. Perhaps just users in the metro NY area.

So go to google.com and conduct a search. Let me know if the address bar shows you’ve been redirected to google.fr.

If you have a Google account, make sure you aren’t logged in. If your Google account includes your zip code. That information may be used by Google to track you correctly. Those of you who are being redirected from google.com to google.fr might try signing up for a Google account (www.google.com/accounts). You can edit your personal information to include your zip code.

I’d like to point out that I have checked my computer thoroughly for spyware and viruses. I used both Lavasoft’s Ad-aware and PC Spyware Doctor to scan my system.

Update (2/25/09): Some potential solutions for the Google redirect problem can be found here in a post from 12/02/08.




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Holiday Specials from Dell

Here are some extra holiday savings from Dell. These coupon codes are valid starting Nov. 27, 2008 at 7:00 AM CDT. Just enter the coupon codes provided at checkout.

Save 15% on select Dell Electronics & Accessories. Coupon Code: CTV2$2HX963145. Expires Dec. 2, 2008 or while supplies last.

Save and extra 5% on select cameras from Dell. Coupon Code: 1?ZRX6HH4G2ZW3. Expires Dec. 11, 2008 or while supplies last.




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Thanksgiving Special: Save up to $1,049 on MacBooks

Save up to $395 on Apple MacBooks
Rebates end 11:59 pm PST, 11/28

Save up to $1,049 on MacBook Pro
Rebates end 11:59 pm PST, 11/28




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Netbook Offers (Dell and ClubMac)

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Netbooks lately. Netbooks are small, compact, lightweight computers that are very handy for travellers who need to have a computer handy.  They are great if your primary interest is Internet access while travelling. Most netbooks have built in WiFi for wireless Internet access — great at Internet cafes such as Starbucks, Borders, and some Barnes and Noble bookstores, among others. They can also be tethered to a cellphone for Internet access, too.

Some will say, “Isn’t this a laptop?”

Netbooks are much smaller and much lighter than laptops, and tend to use Flash memory cards like your digital camera, so netbooks have fewer moving parts than laptops. Netbooks also have less storage space, but most come with online storage or USB capability for thumb drives.

My top recommendations for netbooks include the Asus Eee PC and the Dell Inspiron mini 9. These two machines are expected to be hot items on Black Friday. That’s three days from today.

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Laptop Computer


Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Laptop Computer

Staring at $399 this version of the mini 9 comes with Windows® XP Home Edition (yes, XP, not Vista). It’s covered by a 1 year limited warranty with Mail-In Service. It has an adequate 1 GB of RAM (memory), 8 GB Solid State Drive (storage), an integrated 0.3M Pixel Webcam. The processor is an Intel® Atom Processor® N270 (1.6GHz/533Mhz FSB/512K cache). The hi-res LED screen measures 8.9 inches, and is backed by an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA). It also has a wireless 802.11g Mini Card, a long lasting 32WHr Battery, Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 8.1, Microsoft Works 9 without MS Word.

New orders can get a 3G upgrade for $125.

Click to take a better look, customize, and buy from Dell:
Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Laptop Computer

For you Linux OS fans out there, there is a $349 Ubuntu Unix version starting at $349:
Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Laptop Computer


Eee PC 901 12G – XP Home – Pearl White – Intel ATOM Processor

Also starting at $399 from ClubMac is the Asus Eee PC. It’s about the same as the mini 9, but it comes with 12 GB of storage plus 20 GB of online storage. Click to view and buy from Club Mac:
Eee PC 901 12G – XP Home – Pearl White – Intel ATOM Processor

Update: Watchout for netbooks using HDD (hard disk drives) versus SSD (solid-state drives). I prefer the SSD units because they have no moving parts and are more durable and more shock resistant than standard hard drive (HDD) technology. SSDs are smaller, and cost more, but their durability makes up for it. This is very important with a small portable computer which is more prone to shocks.




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How To Scan A Photo into Word 2003

I received a request yesterday on how to add photos from your scanner into a Microsoft Word document. They said they had Word 2003, and they were interested in creating family newsletters for their friends. They were also considering starting a newsletter for their building association.  Many of the photos they had were hard copies, so they were going to have to scan them.

Here’s the method I offered:

Scanning Pictures into MS Word

  1. Start Word
  2. Type message or text first (optional)
  3. Click where you would like to place a picture
  4. Put photo into the scanner
    1. Click “Insert” >> “Picture” >> “From scanner or camera …”
    2. Click the “Insert” button. The scanner will scan the photo, when the scanner stops the photo will automatically be added. You may need to scroll down to find the photo in your document.
  5. Find the photo in your document, and then double-click the photo to adjust the size. The “Format Picture” dialog box should appear.
    1. Click the “Size” tab.
    2. Adjust the “Height” or the “Width” in inches.
    3. Click the “Layout” tab.
    4. Click the square above “Square”
    5. Choose to have the photo go to the “Left” or the “Right” side of the page.
    6. Click the “OK” button
    7. Click on another location on the page other than the photo.
  6. Repeat steps 3 through 5g for each additional photo.

Notes:

  • After all photos have been added, if you need to resize photos, repeat steps 5 through 5g
  • To reposition photos:
    • Place the mouse on the center of the photo
    • Hold down the left mouse button
    • Drag the mouse to a new location to move the photo. A dashed outline will show the photos new location.
    • Release the left mouse button when the outline is properly located.



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$40 off, Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (10 MP)

Canon PowerShot SD880 IS

Canon PowerShot SD880 IS

If you’re looking for a digital camera for yourself or as a gift, you might want to check out the Canon PowerShot SD800 IS.  This is a slick, trendy, and compact 10.0 megapixel camera with 4x Optical Zoom. I always recommend an optical zoom over a digital zoom. The optical zoom is handled by the lens, while a digital zoom is calculated by the camera’s processor. There’s also an optical image stabilizer to reduce blurring in low light and on moving objects. The 28mm wide-angle lens can zoom to the equivalent of a 112mm lens on a standard camera.

The back of the SD880 has a large high-quality 3-inch color LCD with an anti-glare and anti-scratch coating. The camera back is essentially all screen.  The camera image review controls take up a minimum of space, and there’s very little in the way of wasted metal and plastic surface.

Face Detection and Self-Timer

If you use a camera’s timer to get yourself in the picture then you’ll love the Face Detection technology of the SD880 and its DIGIC 4 Image Processor. The Face Detection programming, in conjunction with the self timer, detects when another face has entered the scene before taking the picture. This will help alleviate “rushing” to get into the shot before the timer goes off.

The SD880 also has a Print/Share Button for easy direct printing and downloading, plus ID Photo Print and Movie Print with select PIXMA Photo Printers and SELPHY Compact Photo Printers. (See Tuesday’s Digital Photo Printer post).

The camera comes with:

  • Lithium-ion Battery Pack (NB-5L)
  • A Battery Charger CB-2LX
  • A 32 MB SD Memory Card
  • A Wrist Strap
  • A Digital Camera Solution CD
  • A USB Interface Cable
  • and an AV Cable for connecting to a television or other audio-video device

Recommendation:
I’d recommend buying a 2 GB (gigabyte) SD Memory card along with this camera.  The included 32 MB card will only hold about 6 images (at the highest setting). A 2 GB card will hold about 450 images.  2 GB SD cards can be purchased these days for around $10 or $20.

Special Offer from Dell and Skylarking:
The Canon PowerShot SD880 IS’s has a MSRP of $299, but Dell is currently selling the camera for $259. Skylarking readers can save an additional $40 from now until Dec.4 by applying the coupon code 6CJFK841QJCZVR at checkout (see picture at right, click to enlarge). That brings the price down to $219. This offer is good until 12/4 or for the first 500 readers. Just click the following link to access the Dell page for the SD880.

Save $40 off Canon SD880 digital camera! Coupon Code: 6CJFK841QJCZVR

If you want a good price on a SD memory card from HP, checkout the 2GB card selling at TigerDirect for $9.99. Click this link to transfer to TigerDirect.com: HP 2GB Secure Digital CardOr get a HP 4 GB SD High Capacity card for double the storage. That’s about 900 photos on one memory chip. Tigerdirect sells thus card for $25. Today they’re offering a $5 instant rebate. HP 4GB Secure Digital High Capacity Card (SDHC)



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HP Digital Photo Printers (Updated Dec. 2010)

Despite the economic downturn the holiday shopping season is approaching, and while some of us are wondering how its going to be this year, many of us acknowledge that we’re still going to need gifts for our families and closest friends.  I was able to find them online for about $80 each.

Photosmart A516

Photosmart A516

Last year I gave several my sister and my parents Hewlett Packard digital photo printers as gifts, specifically the HP Photosmart A516 (at right). The Photosmart printers are very small, compact, and lightweight. It measures roughtly 10 inches wide, 5 inches tall, and less than 6 inches deep.  That’s about the size of a small loaf of bread. It weighs less than 6 pounds. (A slightly heavy loaf of bread).

The Photosmart printers print on 4×6 inch and 5×7 inch photo paper, and can hold about 20 sheets at a time. Me, my family and friends agree that the picture and color quality is fantastic.

The other great thing about the Photosmart printers is that you don’t have to connect them to a computer to print your photos. They will accept most of the popular media memory cards (Memory Stick, Memory STick Duo, SD, xD, and MMC). Some printer models have an optional Bluetooth adapter so you can print wirelessly from your Bluetooth enabled cellphone.  If your camera uses PictBridge technology you can plug your camera directly into the printer via a USB cable. Some models even allow printing from your iPod.

If I were to buy HP Photosmart printers this year, budget-minded as I am, these are the models and offers I would give serious consideration to:

icon

HP Photosmart A536

(New, TigerDirect.com, $70)The Photosmart A530 series prints on sheets up to 5×7 inches in size, and accepts MemoryStick, MS Duo, SD, xD, and MMC media cards. So it will work with most Sony and Olympus cameras quite well. It doesn’t accept CompactFlash cards.  The unit is light and small enough that you can consider it portable. I often take it with me when I go to parties at the homes of friends and relations. It accepts an HP 110 Tri Color printer cartridge. The print cartirdge sells for about $22. HP also packages the cartridge with 140 sheets of 4×6 paper for $42. Supported operating systems: Windows 2000; Windows XP Home; Windows XP Professional; Windows XP Professional x64; Certified for Windows Vista(TM), Windows 7; Mac OS X v 10.3.9 or higher.

HP Photosmart A616 Photo Printer (Remanufactured)

HP Photosmart A616 Photo Printer
$195 from Buy.com

Buy.com has the A616 selling for $195 with a one year warranty. In prints in as little as 39 seconds, accepts paper up to 5 x 7 inches. For media cards it accepts CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard and xD-Picture Card. It also supports Mini SD with an adapter. It has a 20-sheet input tray and wireless capability with an optional HP bt450 Bluetooth Wireless Printer adapter. Weight: 3.46 lbs. Supported operating systems: Windows 2000; Windows XP Home; Windows XP Professional; Windows XP Professional x64; Certified for Windows Vista(TM), Windows 7; Mac OS X v 10.3.9 or higher. Compatible cartridges: HP 110 Tri-color Ink Cartridge.

Spam Dropped Last Week. Are You A Victim?

You may or may not have heard the news last week, but spam traffic dropped by 50 to 70 percent last week after two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cut off Internet access for hosting company McColo in California last week.

If you’re not familiar with these terms, a hosting company provides computer service and equipment for other companies and individuals. A hosting company typically offers storage service for email and web sites. An ISP provides companies and individuals with access to the Internet.

Spyware Doctor Free Scan

In last week’s case, McColo, a hosting company with locations in Delaware and California, was providing hosting services to several companies and individuals who used the McColo’s computers to distribute viruses and spyware via spam and harmful web sites. Many of the sites and messages dealt in pharmaceutical drug sales and child pornography. These companies were paying McColo for the use of their computers, and despite the illegal activity McColo ignored it.

McColo’s host computer center in San Jose, CA was connected to the Internet via several Internet Service Providers.  Two of the providers took it upon themselves to deprive McColo of Internet access and shutdown the Internet connection. Within seconds the level of spam traffic worldwide dropped by 50% to 75% according to several spam watchdog services such as Spamhaus.

Consumer Risks: “XP AntiVirus Protection” and “AntiVirus 2009”

If you downloaded either of these two programs then you can probably count yourself among the victims of this incident. “XP AntiVirus Protection” and “AntiVirus 2009”were fraudulent programs distributed by several companies and individuals who were provided hosting services by McColo.

Update Jan. 2010: As a computer service professional I receive two calls for help per week to remove spyware and fraudulent anti-spyware programs. Best Buy’s Geek Squad wants $200 — $300 to remove spyware and viruses. My recommendation, purchase Spyware Doctor(at right) for only $39.95 and protect up to 3 computers. It’s the real deal. It’s downloadable, and not available in stores. Only have one PC? Then ask a friend and/or relative if they’d like to split the cost with you.

Below are sample images of the two most common fraudlent (anti-)spyware programs circulating the web. The call them “spyware protectors” some times. Sadly what these  scammers are saying is they “protect the spyware” and not your computer.

AntiVirus 2009

AntiVirus 2009

XP AntiVirus

XP AntiVirus

Help Yourself, Help Your Computer

If you downloaded either of these fraudulent programs you should remove them immediately. To do so:

  1. Click Start > Conrol Panel
  2. Click or double-click “Add/Remove Programs” (In Vista and Windows 7 its called “Programs and Features”)
  3. Locate and click each of these programs on the list and click “Remove” or “Uninstall” for each one found.

After removing these programs, go purchase Spyware Doctorto remove any traces of these programs and the harmful software they may have added to your computer. I recommend Spyware Doctor from PC Tools—hands down—over any other antispyware software you’ll find.



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iPods for the Holidays! Free engraving and shipping.

Here are some holiday shopping links from Apple. Apple is offering free engraving on all iPods, plus free shipping. Clicking the Buy button under each product description will transfer you to the Apple web site. Apple will also be informed that you were referred by Skylarking. First up is the iPod Touch in 8, 16, and 32 GB editions respectively. The ipod Touch looks like the iPhone, and offers Internet access, email, surfing the web, watching videos and playing music.

Readers looking for other holiday shopping offers should send me a message describing the products you’re looking for.

Apple iPod touch, 8GB - MB528LL/A Apple iPod touch, 8GB – MB528LL/A

Free Shipping, Free Engraving on All iPods. iPod touch, 8GB. Five new hands-on applications. View rich HTML email with photos as well as PDF, Word, and Excel attachments. Get maps, directions, and real-time traffic information. Take notes and read stock and weather reports. Touch your music, movies, and more. The revolutionary Multi-Touch technology built into the gorgeous 3.5-inch display lets you pinch, zoom, scroll, and flick with your fingers. Internet in your pocket with the Safari web browser, see websites the way they were designed to be seen and zoom in and out with a tap. And add Web Clips to your Home screen for quick access to favorite sites.




Apple iPod touch, 16GB - MB531LL/A Apple iPod touch, 16GB – MB531LL/A

Free Shipping, Free Engraving on All iPods. iPod touch, 16GB. Five new hands-on applications. View rich HTML email with photos as well as PDF, Word, and Excel attachments. Get maps, directions, and real-time traffic information. Take notes and read stock and weather reports. Touch your music, movies, and more. The revolutionary Multi-Touch technology built into the gorgeous 3.5-inch display lets you pinch, zoom, scroll, and flick with your fingers. Internet in your pocket with the Safari web browser, see websites the way they were designed to be seen and zoom in and out with a tap. And add Web Clips to your Home screen for quick access to favorite sites.








Apple iPod touch, 32GB - MB533LL/A Apple iPod touch, 32GB – MB533LL/A

Free Shipping, Free Engraving on All iPods. iPod touch, 32GB. Five new hands-on applications. View rich HTML email with photos as well as PDF, Word, and Excel attachments. Get maps, directions, and real-time traffic information. Take notes and read stock and weather reports. Touch your music, movies, and more. The revolutionary Multi-Touch technology built into the gorgeous 3.5-inch display lets you pinch, zoom, scroll, and flick with your fingers. Internet in your pocket with the Safari web browser, see websites the way they were designed to be seen and zoom in and out with a tap. And add Web Clips to your Home screen for quick access to favorite sites.









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High Tech Comes to Yankee Stadium

Cisco Systems has wired the new Yankee Stadium with the latest video, Internet, and voice technology. This will make it the most high tech stadium in the nation. Is this the shape of things to come?

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

1,100 flat panel, high definition monitors will be located at concession stands, inside the 59 luxury and party suites, around the restaurants and bars, and in restrooms will ensure that fans don’t miss a moment of the game no matter where they are. Monitors will also offer local weather and traffic updates, archival and highlight video footage, and promotional messages. Each will be individually programmable from a central location.

Touch screen phones in luxury suites at the stadium will allow for ordering food and merchandise. Similar technology, which might be ready opening day, will allow fans to order food and merchandise through their cellphones.

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Video conferencing equipment and a business center has been installed which will allow the stadium to connect with students and community groups through local libraries and hospitals to let players and executives talk to fans. The ballplayers themselves will each have a computer at his locker. Fans at home may also have access to the video and data systems through their televisions, computers, and cellphones. What do you think the Babe would have thought of that?

“The ultimate fan experience is when Derek Jeter can help some kid in the Bronx learn long division” via video conferencing, said Ron Ricci, the co-chairman of Cisco’s sports and entertainment division , who said he learned arithmetic through baseball.





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