Archive for March 2009

Connect a MacBook Air to an Optoma PK 101 pico projector

Optoma PK101

Optoma PK101

Back in mid-December of 2008, I reviewed two new micro, or pico, projectors: The Dell M109S and the Optoma PK 101. The Dell model was designed to connect to a wide range of devices with its multi-cable adapter, but the Optoma PK 101 (the sexier of the two devices) was designed, primarily, to connect to devices with composite video connections, though it came bundled with an adapter for iPods and iPhones.

My Optoma PK 101 review mentioned that “The Optoma PK101 isn’t configured for connecting to a laptop or computer. unless the computer itself as a special video output.”

A few days ago, Mark Canavan, a Skylarking reader, wrote in asking, “How can I connect the Optoma PK101 to a MacBook Air laptop?”

Here’s your answer, Mark. I’ve also added this information to the end of my original review of the Optoma PK 101 projector.

Apple Micro-DVI to Video Adapter

The Optoma PK 101 is designed to connect to devices that have composite video connections. The MacBook Air has a mini display port that can be used as follows. If you’re averse to tech-talk, just ignore the stuff in the parentheses:

This is according to the MacBook Air’s Technical Specifications web page.

According to a MacBook Air Developer Note from Jan. 18, 2008:

The MacBook Air ships with a micro-DVI to DVI adapter and a micro-DVI to VGA adapter. A micro-DVI to video adapter, which provides composite and S-video support, is sold separately.

The Apple Micro-DVI to Video Adapter (shown above right) is available from the Apple Store in the US and Canada for $19. Apple says, “The Micro-DVI to Video Adapter was designed specifically to fit the slim profile of MacBook Air. The adapter connects to the Micro-DVI port on your MacBook Air and provides both S-video and Composite video connectors so that you can view content from your computer on such devices as TVs, VCRs, or overhead projectors with S-Video or RCA (Composite) connectors.”

Thanks for your question, Mark!




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Truth About Email Petitions

I received the following question just last night:

I received an email telling me that email petitions and chain letters use tracking software and cookies to collect email addresses from anyone who receives that email message. I was also told that email petitions aren’t acceptable by congress like a signed petition would be. Are both these items true?

Well, the first is false, and the second is true.

Tracking Emails and Tracking Software

The only way an email can be tracked is from one sender to the first recipient. If I send an email message to a friend, it is possible for me to be notified when they open the message. If my friend forwards the message to someone else, there is no way for me to tell that has happened; nor is there any way for me to receive the email address of that second recipient, or any recipient after that. So, no, there are no tracking programs of this sort.

BUT, Remember the concept “Six Degrees of Separation”? Erase email addresses before forwarding a message

The idea of “Six Degrees of Separation” says that everyone is 6 steps away from any other person on the planet. Which in my way of thinking means that we are all six steps or less away from a spammer. The problem here being that when people forward an email message they usually leave any previous email addresses in the message, too, plus most people add new addresses of their own when they forward the message. The best practice here is after you click FORWARD and before you click SEND make sure you erase/delete any email addresses that appear within the email message. That is, just before you click SEND, read through the message and erase any email addresses you find in the message. If you don’t, you never know who in the chain knows or is a spammer.

BCC: Blind Carbon Copy Hiding Email Addresses

When you are sending an email message to multiple recipients, use the BCC or Blind Carbon Copy feature to address your message. That is, use BCC instead of TO. An, if your email software says, “At least one recipient is required in the TO field”, then put your email address in the TO field, and everyone else in the BCC field. The BCC field hides the email addresses from the recipients. When the sender uses the BCC field to address an email message, the recipients of that message will see “undisclosed recipients” in the TO field or elsewhere in the message. If you can’t find the BCC feature in your email software, contact your email service provider and have them tell you how to access it. Or you can contact Skylarking and I will help you find the feature.

Email Petitions Don’t Work

That much is true. A genuine petition requires signatures and street addresses. Anyone can type a list of names and email addresses into a petition, but there is no way for the recipient to prove or disprove that those people participated in or knew about the petition. It is best that each individual person email or contact their representative directly, and not as part of some long list of names in an email message. Additionally, you wouldn’t want to include your street address in such a petition, since you never know if that message might eventually end up in the hands of a spammer or an identity thief. After all, most acts of identity theft are performed by the victims friends, co-workers, and family members.




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Wireless Connection Problems with D-Link DI 524 Router


I received the following question recently:

I have Verizon DSL connection. I’m using a D-Link 524 wireless router and a Verizon Westell 6100 modem. Currently I can only connect to the Internet on the laptop when I use a network cable, as the wireless connection doesn’t appear to be working. Is it because my network is not secure? How can I secure my wireless network with my D-Link router? I have tried going to http://192.168.1.1 to modify my router settings, but I’m not able to access the router either. Again, is this because my network isn’t secure, or is it a problem with my internet connection?

Westell 6100 DSL Modem

Westell 6100 DSL Modem

Here’s my answer to the problem with some extra tips:

First, a D-Link router is accessed by using http://192.168.0.1 and not http://192.168.1.1 or http://www.192.168.1.1. Since your wireless isn’t currently working, you must make access the router using a wired connection between the laptop and the router. The changes below using a computer which is connected to the router by a network cable.

Check Your Connections

It sounds like your wired internet connections are working, so you must have your wires connected properly. The Westell modem should be connected to your phone line, and a network cable should run from the Westell modem to the D-Link router’s connection labeled “WAN”. Network cables can run from the numbered “ports” on the back of the D-Link router to any computers that will be using a wired connection (which is the best type of connection, in my opinion). Since your wireless network doesn’t appear to be working in this example, the laptop can be connected to the router using a network cable if you want to work from the laptop to check and adjust the router’s settings.

Accessing the D-Link Router

D-Link DI 524 Wireless Router

D-Link DI 524 Wireless Router

Working from a computer which is connected to the D-Link router with a network cable, perform the following steps:
1. Open your web browser and go to http://192.168.0.1
2. Login using “admin” without the quotes for the user name, and leave the password blank
3. Click OK

If you are unable to login to the router through a wired connection this way, then you can reset the router to its factory settings:

To reset your router, use the following steps:
1. Press the router’s reset button for 10 seconds. You can use a small object, such as a paper clip to hold down the button. Do not power off the unit while the router is being reset.
2. The unit should now reboot, and once the WLAN light stops blinking the router should be reset.
3. Open up your Web browser and enter 192.168.0.1 in the address bar.
4. For the login, enter admin as the ID and leave the password blank.
5. Click OK

Securing Your Wireless Connection

Once you have logged on to the router using the steps above, you can start to secure your wireless connection. FYI, wireless connections are secured using a numeric “key”, not a “password”. When your computer tells you your wireless network isn’t secured, it typically means your router doesn’t have security enabled or a key set.

To enable security, once you access the router from a computer connected to the router via a network cable:
1. Click the button labeled “Wireless”
2. Make Sure “Wireless” is “Enabled”
3. Set “Security” to “WEP”
4. Replace “Key 1” with a string of 10 numbers of your own choosing
5. Optional: Set alternate keys if you wish. the D-Link accepts up to 4 keys for the wireless security settings.
6. Click the “Apply” button

Hidden SSID

If you want a little extra security, set “SSID Broadcast” to “Disable”. This way people in the area with wireless cards will not see your network on their list of available networks. You won’t be able to see it either, but when connecting to a wireless network on your laptop you will find an option to “Connect to a hidden network”. The “Wireless” screen in the router will show you what your SSID is, and it will allow you to change it. Just be aware that the SSID is case sensitive.

NetWork Magic from Cisco

Pure Networks

If all else fails, install Cisco’s Network Magic program on your laptop. The Pro features of the program only work for 30 days, but the Basic features of the free version are all you need to solve this problem. Then have Network Magic manage your wireless connection on the laptop.

You might also consider asking Verizon if they can provide you with a new wireless modem for your DSL service. That way you can get customer service for your wireless connection.

For more information see the following links:

Hope this helps. If not, let me know.


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Postcard from Hallmark Hoax

An oldie but a goody has been making the rounds again. The old “postcard from a friend” warning hoax. This one has been circulating in one form or another since 2001. Every three or four years it gets reinvented. Once upon a time it was the “Olympic Torch” hoax. Now, it’s the “Postcard from Hallmark” and the “Postcard from a friend” hoax. Here’s what it looks like as of August and November 2008:

warning

Postcard from Hallmark Warning Hoax

There’s a few tipoffs that this message isn’t to be taken seriously. First off, the Subject line (not shown) has the text “FWD”which means my friend forwarded it to me, and didn’t actually write the message. In some cases you have to open attachments to get to the message, which means it’s been forwarded many times.

Another tipoff is that there are no datesmentioned. When did they check Norton? Norton usually issues updates in less than 24 hours to fight these viruses, so it may be a dead issue by the time I get this email. By the way, Norton doesn’t “gear up”. They just issue a fix and that’s it. Same goes for McAfee, AVG, TrendMicro, and Alwil Avast. they all want to be the first to defeat any new virus, so these things are usually non-issues in less than 24 hours.

Tip: If I saw my friend sent this to me more than a day ago, or that he received it more than a day ago, I’d assume the virus was dead by now. Most of these things have a shelf life of 48 hours. If you renew your antivirus subscriptions every year, then your antivirus gets updated automatically any where from 4 to 12 times per day. That’s about every 2 to 4 hours.

Another tipoff this message is a hoaxis the fact that though they mention “I checked with Snopes (URL above), and it is for real!!”, but there is no URL (web address) in the message. If you take the time to check Snopes you find out this email began popping up again in August and November 2008. That’s 6 months ago. The antivirus companies blocked this virus before Thanksgiving.

Here’s another tip. Here’s what a real email notice from Hallmark looks like as of today:

hallmark-hoax

A Genuine Email Notice From Hallmark

Here’s how to recognize a genuine email notice from Hallmark:

1. The “From” includes Hallmark’s “hallmarkonline.com” email address and your friend’s email address. These messages don’t come anonymously. In your Inbox you would see your friend’s email address or name.

2. The genuine Hallmark email shows your email address in the “To” box. It’s not going to show more than one email address.

3. The genuine Hallmark notice shows your friend’s name in the Subject line with their first and last name. The same goes for the inside of the email message where they boldly display your friend’s full name (red circle area). As a matter of fact, I sent this message to myself from the Hallmark web site, and Hallmark wouldn’t even send the message without a First and last name in the mail form.

Another thing to watch out for is attachments. Hallmark doesn’t send attachments.  If I got a message claiming to be from hallmark from an anonymous friend, and I saw an attachment, I’d know it was a fake. Tap the Delete key.

Best Protection

The best protection from these hoaxes is antivirus software. Get a quality antivirus program, and make sure you renew your antivirus subscriptions every year. The best antivirus programs are from McAfee, Symantec/Norton, TrendMicro, and my personal favorite Avast from Alwil Software at www.avast.com. It’s free, and it works. Check out my post about Avast from last month. it tells you how to best install and set it up.

Renew your antivirus subscriptions every year.

Let me reinforce that point: Renew your antivirus subscriptions every year. If you bought a new computer, chances are you only had a 30 day trial version. It doesn’t update any more after 30 days, so you’re only protected from old viruses after that, not the new ones.

Another Tip: “BCC:” and not “To:”

If you can’t help yourself, and you feel you must notify everyone in your address book, find out how to use the “BCC” (Blind Carbon Copy) feature in your email system instead of the “To” box when addressing your email. All email systems have the BCC feature, but they don’t all display it openly. Using “BCC” instead of  “To” will hide all your friend’s email messages from each other.

Have you heard of six degrees of separation? That’s the theory that we are all separated from one another by 6 people. For example, your friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend is Kevin Bacon. Put another way, your friend six places removed maybe a spammer. The copy of the email warning I received had no less than 268 email addresses in it.  If I was a spammer I would be so very very happy right now to have all those real email addresses.

Conclusions

  • “Postcard from Hallmark” warning email is a hoax. It’s been going around for almost 10 years in one form or another.
  • Get quality antivirus software such as Avast. (Watch out for the bogus antivirus programs out there).
  • Renew your antivirus subscriptions every year. They expire, and expired subscriptions don’t protect you from new viruses.
  • Antivirus programs update at least 4 to 12 times a day
  • Most viruses are blocked in less than 24 to 48 hours.
  • Use BCC instead of To when sending out mass emails. Don’t know where it is? Call your Email Service Providers customer service line or check their Help page. (Don’t know where to look? Contact me or post a comment, and I’ll find out for you.  No charge.)
  • Got a question about a potential hoax? Ask Skylarking to investigate or check out http://www.skylarknetworks.com/email-hoaxes.htm#Email_Hoaxes:_How_Spot_Them,_How_To_Check_Them

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Save 38% on Social Networking and Blogging for Dummies

Is there a nicer way to start the day then by opening an email from Amazon.com letting you know that “March is Dummies Month”? I don’t think so, but then again, I haven’t smelled the coffee yet either.

All the books in the Dummies series are 38% off this month, so many titles can be acquired for less than $20, and if you buy two, you’ll probably get free shipping on your order over $25. Here are a few select titles to consider today:

Facebook for Dummies Facebook For DummiesFor better or worse, you’ve heard of Facebook, but you haven’t the slightest idea what it’s about, or maybe you’re already using Facebook, and you want to get the most of it. This is your book… (don’t take it personally).
Google Adsense for Dummies Google AdSense For DummiesOkay, so you’ve been seeing articles and ads here and there telling you how to make money online with Google Ads (Adsense). Which of these systems are scams? What does it take to succeed with Google ads? Get this book to find out what involved. (Have you noticed the Ads for Google blocks scattered around this site? Hmm? Have you?)
web-dummies Web Marketing For Dummies By implementing effective Web marketing strategies, you can quickly build a successful Web site and business. But how do you take on search engine optimization and search engine marketing to achieve the results you want? Web Marketing For Dummies, 2nd Edition shows you how! This guide helps you apply your marketing knowledge to the Web world, taking you on the path to online marketing success. In this book you’ll find out how to use online tools to spread your marketing message; establish a strong Web presence; promote your site with e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, and social networking tools; and measure your marketing success.
pod-dummies Podcasting For Dummies Podcasts? These are video or audio clips which can be shared and distributed online. The term came about with the advent of the iPod as it gave people an opportunity to spread or broadcast their message through iPods and the iTunes service, but now it’s so much more than that, and anyone can do it. Seriously.New tools have made it easier to create a podcast. Podcasting For Dummies shows you how you can create and distribute your own online recordings using tools you already have. Chapters cover: Choosing a topic that fits your expertise; writing an outline or script for your podcast; picking the microphone, headphones, and audio editing software that best suit your needs, conducting interviews and recording an interview subject who’s not in the room with you; finding a place to host your podcast online; promoting your podcasts in the blogosphere, online discussion groups, and social networking sites; seeking out sponsors, advertising, and subscriptions to make your podcast pay; and creating podcasts designed to promote a business.Interested in getting help with your own podcast? Why not try contacting Bruce Chamoff at Hot Web Ideas and his podcasting network? Tell him Skylarking sent you.

skylarkshelfHere’s a great endorsement for the Dummies series of books: A snapshot of a shelf from one of my office bookcases. I’ve got the books: Fundraising For Dummies, Nonprofit Kit For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance)) for my work with non-profit organizations, eBay For Dummiesand Starting an eBay Business For Dummies, Office 2007 All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummiesand FrontPage 2003 All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, PHP & MySQL For Dummies, there’s Howie Jacobsen‘s book, AdWords For Dummies, PayPal For Dummies, and last of all Norton Internet Security For Dummies. You can click on the photo for a larger image.




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Free Credit Report Scams

Seen those catchy FreeCreditReport.com ads? Pretty funny, eh?

The funny part is that although it is there to allow you to see your credit report from the top three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — the site is actually owned by Experian. So once you go there you will be exhorted repeatedly to sign up for one of their pay services.

On Friday, March the unlucky number day, I was surfing the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) web site looking for scam alerts, and I found out the following

AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source to get your free annual credit report under federal law.

AnnualCreditReport.com

AnnualCreditReport.com

Pretty interesting. It’s AnnualCreditReport.com, and not FreeCreditReport.com. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – every twelve months.

The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by TV ads, email offers, or online search results. Go to the authorized source when you request your free report.

So if you’re looking for a real free credit report start by:

AnnualCreditReport.com even has their own commerical spot which pokes fun at the better known FreeCreditReport.com ads.

Best Way to Check Your Credit Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Most people order all three at once, but a better approach is to spread them out or stagger them. That is, don’t get them all at once; instead, order one from one agency in January, then from a different one in May or June, and then from a different one in September or October. Then when the new year begins you can repeat the process. This allows you to montior your credit report all year round.

No matter how you request your report, you have the option to request all three reports at once or to order one report at a time. By requesting the reports separately, you can monitor your credit more frequently throughout the year.

Why should you request a credit report?
Because the information in your credit report is used to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and renting a home, you should be sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. In addition, monitoring your credit is one of the best ways to spot identity theft. Check your credit report at least once a year to correct errors and detect unauthorized activity.

What should I look for when I review my credit report?
If you see accounts you don’t recognize or information that is inaccurate, contact the credit reporting agency and the information provider. For more information, read the FTC’s tips on how to dispute credit errors.

Lastly, if you suspect identity theft, you may need to place a fraud alert on your credit report, close compromised accounts, file a complaint with the FTC, or file a police report. Start by visiting the FTC’s identity theft website.

Check back here at Skylarking for more scam info. Next up: Free Government Grant and Economic Stimulus Scams on TV and Online. You can also watch the FTC news conference on these scams which was recorder earlier this month.



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Save 30% on all TV remotes and home theater in a box

Now you can save 30% on all TV remotes and home theater in a box with coupon code 0907K09NFD9Z0N from now until March 12, 2009. This offer is brought to you by Dell.

Remotes

harmony88You can save on remotes such as the Logitech Harmony 880 (shown). The Harmony 880 features plug-and-play USB connectivity for easy programability and setup, 53 top-mounted hard buttons and 8 on-screen activity buttons, and an interactive display which keeps you  informed of what is going on. You can use the 8 On-screen activity buttons with Smart State Technology to watch movies, listen to music, or enjoy your favorite TV shows. You can also integrate up to 15 devices including HDTVs, DVR Systems, DVD, CD players, VCRs, PVRs, cable or satellite boxes, speaker systems and more. It also includes a sleek docking station that keeps the remote fully charged.

Home Theater in a Box

Assembling the parts for a home theater system can be a daunting task., but Dell simplifies the process with their Home Theater Selector tool. It takes you step by step through the process. It starts by asking what room will your theater system be in, what are the lighting conditions, and where will the screen be. The it shows you some component recommendations based upon your answers.

Save 20% on TVs 40″ or larger

sharp-aquosFrom now until March 18, 2009, or while supplies last, you can save 20% on TVs 40″ or larger with coupon code PV2GJ7$K5TV40Z. Excludes all Vizio TVs. This offer is brought to you by Dell. Dell carries televisions from Sony, Sharp, and Phillips. Be sure to click the link above to take adavantage of the coupon code at checkout.

Other Offers

Sony Bravia 52 inch HDTV $1,999 (Save$600)

Sony Bravia 52" KDL52V4100 HDTV

Sony Bravia 52" KDL52V4100 HDTV

Here’s another one day offer from Dell. The offer becomes available on March 4, 2009 at 6 AM CST and lasts until 5 am CST on March 5, 2009.  Regularly this TV sells for $1,999, but for one day only you can save $600 and get it for $1,399 with free shipping. Here’s the scoop:

One day only! Save $600 on the Sony Bravia 52″ KDL52V4100 HDTV. $1999 before discount + free ground shipping.

The Sony Bravia offers full high-definition with 1,080 lines of vertical resolution (1080p) with the BRAVIA Engine Full Digital Video Processor which provides crisp, clear and sharp images. Its Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE) uses real-time image processing to dynamically adjust backlight levels for improved contrast. The HDMI connection on this LCD TV uses one cable and one plug to simplify connections.

Use as PC Monitor

This set is also suitable as a display for a personal computer. A 52 inch screen may sound crazy to some, but businesses and classrooms will find them suitable for presentations and classroom instruction. I have a few friends in NYC who use their TV as a computer monitor so they can play watch YouTube and live streaming Netflix videos in their living room or den. They can also compute from the comfort of the couch. Digital couch potatoes anyone? You can even watch TV while using your computer with the “PC Picture In Picture (PIP)” feature.

Media Extenders

Rear Connections

Rear Connections

Sony’s Digital Media Extender (DMex) offers a digital connection path for optional modules like the Internet VideoLink, as well as other modules you can add in the future.


Digital media extenders allow you to connect to a home network to retrieve digital media files (such as music, pictures, or video) from a personal computer or other media server and play them back on a home theater system or TV. A DMR includes a user interface that allows users to navigate through their digital media library, search for, and play back media files. Different DMRs are designed to handle different tasks. Some DMRs only handle music; some handle music and pictures; some handle music, pictures, and video; while others go further to allow internet browsing or controlling Live TV from a PC with a TV tuner.

bravia2Some other capabilities which are accomplished by DMRs include:

  • Watch, pause, & record live television
  • Play and store music CDs and view album art
  • Play, catalog, and store DVD videos
  • Listen & Pause Digital Radio
  • View, store, and edit digital pictures
  • Create automated picture slideshows

One day only! Save $600 on the Sony Bravia 52″ KDL52V4100 HDTV. $1999 before discount + free ground shipping.

Compare




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