Archive for March 2010

Deleting folders using the command prompt

A reader asks:

“How do I delete a folder using the command prompt?”

First, for those of you who don’t know, DOS isn’t dead. The old DOS commands still work. (For those of you too young to know what DOS is, see the picture).

DOS Screen

DOS Screen

Second, to use the old DOS commands you need to bring up the “command prompt” which can be found under “Accessories” in the “Programs” menu under Start. Just click “Start” > “Programs” > “Accessories” > “Command Prompt”. A quick method I use is hold the Windows key with one hand and tap the letter “R” with the other. Then type “cmd” without the quotes, and hit ENTER. Voila!

Now, what we call “folders” in Windows today was referred to as a “directory” in DOS. So we need to use the RD or the RMDIR commands.

  • RD, which stands for ‘remove directory’, will delete an empty folder.
  • RMDIR will delete a folder and anything inside the folder.

The commands are used as follows:

  • RMDIR drive:folder_name
  • RD drive:folder_name

“Drive” is the letter assigned to the drive containing the folder. The drive letter is followed by :\

To speed things up when removing directories, you might try adding these strings to the end

  • /S Add this to remove all directories and files in the specified folder in addition to the directory itself. This is called removing a directory tree.
  • /Q Quiet mode, does not ask if its ok to remove a directory tree with /S.

So

rmdir c:\test

becomes

rmdir c:\test /s /q

Transferring iTunes videos to another computer

At least once a week I get asked about transferring iTunes music from one computer to another, but recently someone said to me:

“My sister bought a bunch of episodes of Gossip Girl and some other shows on iTunes. I’d like to watch them on my computer, too, but I don’t want to buy them again. How can I get them onto my computer and iPod?”

I told them they’ll be able to watch them on a computer, but they won’t be able to watch them on an iPod.

“Why not?”

“Because the iPod is linked to a specific user or account. And the music and video files are linked to a specific user or account. So once iTunes sees the account attached to the video file doesn’t match the account attached for the iPod, it will refuse to transfer the file.”

“How does it know?”

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl

“There’s no easy way to explain that, but, trust me, it won’t work.”

“Well, how do I copy them to my computer?”

Find the files on your sister’s computer. Typically the videos will be in the “My Music” folder on the hard drive. In that folder there is an “iTunes” folder, then a “iTunes Media” folder, and lastly a “TV Shows” folder. Inside that folder you’ll find folders for all the shows your sister bought. You can just copy these folder onto a CD, DVD, or external drive, and then copy them onto another computer. You can copy them to the same location on your own computer. Or you can have iTunes import them.

When you try to play them, iTunes will tell you that you’re not authorized to play them on your computer. At which point you will need to enter your sister’s iTunes account information.

“And, no, you still won’t be able to play them on your iPod.”

Free iPad — Is it worth it?

A reader from Philadelphia named Erin asks:

“I saw an offer online to get a free iPad. Is this a scam?”

I took a look at the web page address you sent me Erin, and in all likelihood its a legitimate offer, but you’re going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to get it.

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

The Hoops

As I said, you’ll have to jump through some hoops — 10 of them to be exact — in order to qualify. Here’s some more fine print:

To obtain the gift for this promotion you must:
1) register with valid information including e-mail address, shipping address, and phone number
2) complete the survey
3) complete at least 2 Silver, 2 Gold and 4 Platinum Sponsor Offers
4) be a U.S. resident 18 or older
5) not cancel your participation in more than a total of 2 Sponsor Offers within 6 days of the Sponsor Offer Initial Transaction Date
… Some Sponsor Offers may require a purchase to qualify.

Basically you’ll be giving away a lot of personal information such as addresses, emails, and phone numbers.

They will send you email.

They will call you by phone.

And you will shell out some cash. Not for the iPad. The cash will go to cover the shipping, handling, and subscriptions fees for some of the offers you will be required to accept.

I checked out the Silver, Gold, and Platinum offers, and here’s what will be asked of you:

The Gold and Silver Offers require you to either apply for a credit card or a credit report (and doing so might affect your credit rating). Or you might be asked to refer one of your friends to this program (which might cost you a friend). Or you might choose to subscribe to DVD subscription service. There were many other options, and they were all similar to the ones I’ve mentioned here. They require you to complete 2 Silver Offers and 2 Gold Offers to be eligible for the iPad.

The Platinum Offers , of which you must complete 4, involve more of the same, with some additional offers for dental health plans, air purification systems, and diet programs.

Is it worth it?

I don’t think so.

Why do they do this?

The folks offering you the free iPad are getting paid referral fees and incentives from the various service providers connected to the Silver, Gold, and Platinum offers. Some of these providers will pay as much as $30 t0 $80 for a legitimate email address or phone number.

A lot of people are going to get tired of trying to complete all the offers, and they’ll come up short, but the “free iPad folks” will still get their referral rewards. The number of people who fail to meet the requirements will outnumber those who complete the requirements. By then they’ll have made enough in referral fees to by half a dozen iPads.

What’s the right hard drive for my computer?

A reader sends in the following question:

The main hard drive in my desktop computer has failed. I still have the old drive, but I don’t know what a suitable replacement will be. What do I look for?

Generally, any hard drive from a major manufacturer will do.  Any major computer retail store should be able to help you to find a replacement. Make it easy, and take the hard drive with you to the store.

If you want a little more knowledge about hard drive considerations here are some hard drive basics to consider.

  • Data Cable
  • Capacity
IDE Ribbon

IDE Ribbon

Data cable: This refers to the cable used to connect the drive to the motherboard. A typical computer uses either an IDE or SATA connection. (Note: IDE drives are also called PATA drives.)

  • An IDE or PATA drive will have a 2 inch wide connector at either end of its cable. The cable often looks like a two inch flat ribbon.
  • A SATA drive has a small half-inch connector at either end of its similarly thin cable.
SATA connector

SATA connector

So if your old hard drive has a two inch wide connection on it, its an IDE drive, and you will need another IDE drive to replace it. If it has a 1/2 inch connection on it, then you will need a SATA drive.

Capacity: This is how much the drive can hold. Today’s hard drives are measured in gigabytes, abbreviated as GB. Techies often says “gigs” instead of “gigabytes”. Most hard drives have a label on them which will tell you how many gigabytes of data they can hold.

Today 500 GB, and 1,000 GB hard drives are becoming very common and affordable, but an older computer might not be able to “recognize” or use a drive of that size. If you have an older Windows XP computer, you might find it cannot handle a hard drive larger than 137 GB. (If you’re still using Windows XP I say, “Now’s the time to get a new computer, not just a hard drive.”) If your computer was running Windows Vista or Windows 7, then hard drive capacity won’t be a problem.

Google Health

Two years ago, Google started a personal health database service called Google Health. It, like many other Google services, is still in the “beta” testing stages, which means it is still under development.

Google states the service is a “safe, secure and free” place to “take charge of your health information”. It will allow you to personally:

  • Organize your health information all in one place
  • Gather your medical records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies
  • Share your information securely with a family member, doctors or caregivers
Google Health

Google Health

And they will never sell or share your personal information with anyone. For those you choose to allow to access your information, you can control just how much they have access to.

A March 29 Time magazine article says that “Google Health is teaming with Surescripts, the nation’s largest electronic prescribing network, which connects physicians to major pharmacy chains” and independent drugstores and insurance plans.

The Time article mentions that few doctors, hospitals, and insurers are using service such as Google Health, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise. (My doctor doesn’t even have a computer in his office). 

Microsoft HealthVault

Microsoft HealthVault

One other service like Google Health is Microsoft’s HealthVault. I found the Microsoft site to be much more appealing to the eye. I’m not sure when Microsoft started their service, but it also acts as more that just a database. It also includes tips on maintaining your health, along with some instructional videos from other sources. The main page displayed material from Emory University and the Mayo Clinic.

Google Health is ad free, which may appeal to many, but overall the site design was spare. Just another Google site.

Affordable Digital Video Editor and DVD Maker

With all the personal digital video recorders available today from cell phones to Flip Minos to digital camcorders and cameras, you’ll eventually wonder if there’s a simple way to edit your videos, and maybe even share them on a CD or DVD.

Learn more about Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2

My personal favorite for editing digital video and making DVDs and editing video on my T-Mobile G1 and iPhone has been Corel Video Studio series. Truth be told, it’s called Video Studio Pro, but don’t let the word “Pro” make you think “difficult to use”. Corel’s VideoStudio Pro X3 is very easy to use, and as verstaile as you’d want it to be. Futhermore, it’s very reliable and Windows 7 compatible.

With VideoStudio Pro  x3 you can:

  • Import video from camcorders and DVDs.
  • Edit and convert to all the popular formats such as MPEG, Windows AVI and WMV, and MP4 which works on iPods and iPhones. This makes it easy to carry short home movies on your video capable iPod.
  • Edit and convert video for sharing on YouTube.
  • Burn to DVD and CD in standard resolution or high definition (HD).

Download your 30 day free trial version of Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 today! Give it a try!

Avast AntiVirus — Upgrade to Avast 5.0 Free!

Ever since I’ve started this blog I have supported one antivirus program above all others, and that antivirus is avast!

This great program has just been improved. They recently came out with Avast! 5.0. this is the biggest improvement they’ve made to the program in the 3 years or so that I’ve been recommending it.

Avast 5.0 includes:

  • File System Shield: Ensures your files are clean and safe. It scans your files when they’re opened or when they’re being saved.
  • Mail Shield: Monitors alll your email traffic, incoming and outgoing, making sure the messages and attachements you send and recive are clean and safe.
  • Web Shield: Montiors your web browsing to ensure you aren’t affected by any compromised or harmful web sites.
  • P2P Shield: Peer to peer shield protects your computer if you use file sharing systems, like LimeWire. Like the mail shield, it makes sure incoming and outgoing files are virus-free.
  • IM Shield: Now that Instant messaging and chat programs have file sharing capability, you’ll want to be sure the files your share are safe. It monitors all the popular IM programs such as Google Talk, AIM from AOL, Trillian, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, and Windows Messenger among others.
  • Network Shield: Monitors your network connections and stops any viruses that could infect your system via the network.. It also blocks access to known “malicious websites”.
  • Behavior Shield: Monitors your system for suspicious behavior and alerts you to unusual activity.

Download the latest Avast 5.0 today! And check out my other articles on Avast for more info.

Lunchtime with Tony’s Pizza. Have One!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Tony’s Pizza. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’ve let it slip a few times how much I like pizza, but then again who doesn’t. It’s especially easy to eat here at my desk or watching a late-night video.

Tony’s® Pizza contacted me and sent me some coupons. They asked me to try their pizza, on them, and asked that I tell you about it, and share the coupons.

Now I’m enjoying Tony’s Pizza‘s Cripsy Crust pepperoni pizza — I’ll have pictures of this up later — fresh from my oven. Only took 12 minutes. It has a generous amount of steamy tomato sauce and golden brown melted mozzarella cheese. It’s so easy to make I can see myself eating more for lunch (okay, and dinner) at my computer desk.

I’d eat the whole thing, but my daughter is home today, and she loves pizza, too. As young as she is, she is very picky and, normally, doesn’t like pepperoni; but here she is eating her second slice!  I think it’s fum for kids because its chunks of pepperoni are easy for young pizza lovers to bite and swallow.

Free Tony’s® Pizza for you, too?

I’m offering you a coupon for a free Tony’s® Crispy Crust Pizza from your local market. Tony’s got a variety of toppings to choose.

Get your free Tony’s Crispy Crust Pizza coupon by doing the following:

  1. Join the Skylarking fan page on Facebook OR the Skylarking Networked Blogs page.
  2. Email your Name and Mailing Address to skylarkingblog at gmail.com

The first five get a coupon good in the mail. The coupon is good unil 12/31/2010. After you had their pizza post your opinions here. Tony would love to hear from you. Visit their site at www.tonys.com.

Visit my sponsor: Free Samples

Failed Windows Update Installations (Office 2007)

Update (Thurs. 3/11. 12:18am) : As of late Wednesday evening the page for “Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB977724)” appears to have been “taken down” by Microsoft. No word — that I can find — as to why. Possibly related to an error mentioned in the reader comments for this article.

Yesterday was Tuesday, and Tuesday is the day Microsoft typically issues the free Windows Updates to patch any security problems that have been discovered, fix flaws, remove malicious software (Windows Malicious Software Tool) and add new features.

Four of the six updates my computer downloaded for installation failed to install properly. These were all Microsoft Office 2007 updates:

  • Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB977724)
  • Security Update for Microsoft Office Excel 2007 (KB978382)
  • Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB978380)
  • Update for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Junk Email Filter (KB979895)

If you’ve had the same problem with these updates then you will have to manually download and install them. It’s not that difficult to do, and I’ll make it easier by providing you with links to Microsoft’s download pages for these updates. You’ll see two links on each line, but they both take you to the same page.

Download
Just click the links above to go to the appropriate download page, then click the “Download” button on each page. Choose the “Save” option, and save them to either your desktop, your documents folder, or your downloads folder. Anywhere you can easily find them later on. If you have to install them on more than one computer you might consider saving them to a flash drive.

Installation
Once you’ve downloaded them, you will need to run them as an administrator. You can’t do this with your typical double-click.

  1. Right-click on the file (point at the file, and click the right mouse button, not the left mouse button) and choose “Run as administrator” from the shortcut menu that appears.
  2. If the User Account Control dialog box appears — for you Windows Vista and Windows 7 users — asking “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to your computer?”, click “Yes”.
  3. Click the checkbox to accept the Microsoft License Terms, then click “Continue”.

Repeat the process above for each of the downloaded files, and that’s it. Your updates should be properly installed at this time.

I wrote about a similar “Failed Windows Update Installations (Office 2007)” problem back in November 2009.

Coupons to Save on Best Sellers at TigerDirect until March 13

Oh, man, I hate including the number 13 in any of my headlines, but at least that date isn’t a Friday, it’s a Saturday. Small consolation.

Here’s a list of some best selling items I’ve found at Tigerdirect.com. I’m uncluding coupon codes you can use at checkout to save even more on their already low prices. You can check out their special pricing for Skylarking readers here, or read on while I spotlight some of the hot items.

SAVE $10 on an EVGA GeForce 9500 GT Video Card

($59 after using coupon code FEC1228 at checkout.) Do your computer games or video images appear to “stutter” or seem to move in an unusal manner? Then you should consider getting this video card replacement. It uses its own 1 gigabyte of DDR2 RAM (memory) instead of sharing the regular memory used by your computer’s programs. All you need is an available PCIe, or PCI express 2.0, slot on your motherboard. (Contact me or your manufacturer to find out if your computer has such capability.)

If you need real high end video support for 3D gaming, then consider getting two of these cards since they support SLI Dual Link technology. With SLI you can have two video cards linked together for double the video processing power. One card alone provides all the high def power you’ll need for gaming or video playback. Imagine the potential of two cards.

Each card comes with two DVI connectors and adapters for connecting your PC to any monitor or an HDTV. Two connectors allows you to have two monitors connected to your PC, if you need that. For example, I’m using two monitors on my Windows 7 computer, so I can run a different program on each monitor.

Dual Monitor setup on one PC

Right now I have the Tigerdirect site on one screen while I’m writing this post in another screen. Or I could be playing a video on one while working on the other. A client of mine uses two of these video cards for running 4 monitors on his home computer. He’s a day trader, and it allows him to monitor the stock market on multiple web sites while communicating with his colleagues.

Additional specs: Supports Microsoft® DirectX® 10 games, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc® movies with brilliant clarity — as long as you have a HD or Blu-ray capable DVD player in your computer — powered by the PureVideo® HD engine. Include GeForce GPU support for NVIDIA PhysX technology for all you high tech gamers for a more dynamic and realistic experience. Full Vista Aero 3D support.

SAVE $27 on OCZ 4GB PC3-10666 Platinum RAM

(Regularly $106.99, now only $79.99 after $20 mail-in rebate (expires 03/31/10) and $7 instant savings.) Most new PCs today can handle 4 gigabytes of RAM (memory), but when you bought it it probably came with only 2 GB.  Now not just any RAM will do, but I’ve never had a problem yet with memory chips from OCZ. More RAM makes your computer start faster, your programs start and run faster, and your hard drive doesn’t work so hard either. Let your hard drive take it easy with these memory chips. I’d recommend checking with tech supprt at TigerDirect to make sure this memory is appropriate for your PC.

Are you running a 64-bit operating system? Then you might consider getting two pairs since your computer may be able to handle up to 8 gigabytes of RAM. Just go into your Windows Control panel and double click on System to see if you’re running a 64-bit OS. It will be clearly indicated.

Tech specs for those in the know:  This PC3-10666 RAM designed specifically for the upcoming Intel® P55 Chipset and subsequent Intel® Core™ i7, i5, and i3 (Socket 1156) processors. Configured for dual channel mode, these ultra-compatible 4GB kits ensure optimal performance with an ideal combination of low power requirements at 1333MHz.

I’ll talk more about some of the specials I’ve found, but here are a few quickies for now:

SAVE $40 – FREE Shipping – BFG GeForce 9800 GT Video Card. This 1 gigabyte GDDR3 equipped card fits into any PCIe 2.0 slot on your motherboard. Like the card above it supports dual monitors with its two DVI connectors for use on your monitor or HDTV. Regularly $139.99, now only $99.99* after $10 rebate (expires 03/31/10) and $30 instant savings.

SAVE $50 – FREE Shipping – Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300. Get a high speed processor for your demanding programs. This has a 2.50GHz clock speed for a 1333MHz FSB (front system bus). This is a Quad Core processor for “original equipment manufacturers” (OEM). That means it costs a lot less because it doesn’t come in a colorful box like you’d see on the shelf. Uses a Socket 775 connector. $149.99* after $40 MIR, rebate expires 03/15/10.