Friday, September 28, 2012

Cleaning Tips

If you think you can benefit by learning some good cleaning tips, this site is for you. If you think you know as much as you need to know, or think you know all you need to know, this site is a must-site for you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Never Mis-Match a Black Sock Again

Once you hear about it, you likely won't be able to wait to get your hands on Plus+ socks from Blacksocks, a Swiss company that attaches a radio ID tag to its socks so you always put the correct pair together. Apparently this is something of a problem for people who wear nothing but identical black socks.
The thing is, when you buy them, first they are exactly the same. But what people do is they take out the socks in the drawer at the front.  As some socks get washed more than others, they start to fade, and thus customers no longer have perfectly matching socks.
Blacksocks spent two years developing a solution. The result is a kit containing 10 pairs of socks and an RFID reader for $190. The reader connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to an iPhone, where an app can tell you exactly which socks mate. It also helps track how many times each sock has been washed, and it has a “blackometer,” which uses the phone’s camera to read how black your socks really are.
PS: This not only makes a great gift on its own, but you might think of it for a stocking stuffer.

Manual Source

Here is a great source for free, downloadable manuals:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Websites Gone Bad?

If you want to know if a website you're trying to reach is down for everyone or the problem is yours, just go here and put in the URL:

If you want to report a down website, do so here:

Radio Time Machine

You can experience the evolution of music year-by-year using Radio Time Machine. It's a website that lets you listen to Billboard Top 100 songs each year from 1940 to the present.
It's amazing to hear the sometimes gradual, sometimes jarring trends take hold in pop music. If you sign in using a free Rdio account, you can listen to the full tracks instead of short clips.
The site plays unedited versions of the songs, so be warned that you might encounter some profanity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hailing a Cab App

The Cab4Me app is available for both the iPhone and Android phones. Kevin's review is priceless: "Easy to use, great for getting you a taxi when your drunk..."

Google Chrome for Apple Devices

As has been explained here, while there are some lesser known browsers that might be better, Google Chrome is faster and better than the other three major browsers (i.e., IE, Firefox, and Safari). It is now available for free download and use with iMacs, iPhones, and iPads.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rum Diary

Even if you want to know the story of Hunter Thompson and you agree that Johnny Depp is the best male actor of our time, skip this movie.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Speeding Up a Slow iPhone

If your smart phone or tablet (whether an i-device or android-device) is slowing down, cleaning up the browser should show some dramatic results. While each device might be slightly different, if you open Settings in the browser directly or in the browser app in the application manager, you can remove History, Cache, and Data. Removing data will remove passwords. Also, iPhone users should check in iTunes that you are running the latest IOS and update it if you are not.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Actual Booster

If you have a new computer that is working great, ignore this. But if you have an older computer where your programs are running slowly, Actual Booster can really help. Actual Booster is a free Windows utility that speeds up your Windows PC. It works by changing the priority of the currently active (foreground) application, program, or game. Features include completely standalone, doesn't depend on the .NET framework, Java runtime, or other 3rd-party packages, an icon in the taskbar's status area, which lets you control various program settings, you can set hot keys for showing the dialog "Options" and for exiting the program, select the priority level (all possible values from minimal to the maximum), automatically loading each time Windows starts, and modest memory and disk space usage.

Serious IE Security Issue

A critical security flaw in Internet Explorer has been uncovered. All you had to do was visit a malicious website with any version of IE and hackers could take over your computer! Fortunately, Microsoft released a patch that repairs the hole to help keep hackers out. Plus, it fixes four other security vulnerabilities in IE that we hadn't heard about yet. If your computer is set to download and install Microsoft updates automatically, you should be okay. If not, you should manually do so.

Find Lower Prices Automatically

There are so many places to shop online, many of which have great deals. But how do you know which prices are the lowest? With the same item available on five or six websites, your online shopping might not end up saving you much time or money. There are two free, fast and easy ways to find the lowest price on tons of items: Priceblink and Invisible Hand. They are add-ons for Web browsers. Just download and install into your browser and they will automatically alert you when the item you're looking at is available for less on another site. They run in the background so you won't notice it until there's a better price somewhere else.


Invisible Hand:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Winky Dink for the iPad ... Actually, Crayons

DigiTools is a set of physical coloring tools for the iPad that includes 3-D glasses and three apps. It is an effort by Crayola to bring the crayon’s waxlike simplicity to touch-screen coloring, and a second chance to gain some needed credibility in digital creativity, after the poorly regarded iMarker. 

The business strategy behind DigiTools has become common — offer a free teaser app that will not work unless you visit a toy store and buy a physical product. In this case, it is a set of tools for $20, scheduled to be in stores in two weeks.
From an iPad’s point of view, each of the eight tools has a unique fingerprint provided by a set of capacitive feet. That is how it knows the difference between the Airbrush, a Sticker Stamp or the forklike Digital 3-D Stylus, which lets you doodle in 3-D, providing you’re wearing the special glasses included with the kit. As with any standard capacitive tablet stylus, a tiny electrical charge is transferred from your skin to the screen, so no batteries are required.
Because specific functions like airbrushing or stamping are paired directly with each tool, the tools do seem easier to use. Also, it is possible to save a coloring page and share it with Grandma through e-mail. If she likes it, she could download the drawing, print it and stick it on her fridge. Just like the good old days.

Here is a video of what it looks like:

Realty Apps

I have tried several realty apps, and the one I recommend is It's very fast and very flexible and has no ads. It is great for finding places for sale, open houses, and sale prices for properties sold in the past 3 years.

Play Along Live in an Orchestra

Google is currently running a series of online showcases and experiments in conjunction with the London Science Museum in the UK.  Of the 5 experiments available (you can see them all at if you wish), the one that works the best is undoubtedly the collaborative online orchestra, which you can join in and play. To start, go to  You'll be assigned an instrument when you start, but you can change this once you're in. You have 6 notes, represented by the coloured blue dots shown on the screen shot below.  Place these on the grid to define your sequence or tune, and you'll hear it through your PC speakers along with the contributions from other players around the world.  You can move the notes as you wish, to alter the tune during the performance.  To change instruments, just click on anything that's available (ie which isn't already being played by someone else).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How Things Can Change

Not that long ago, the company with the largest market capitalization was ExxonMobil (XOM). More recently, there came a time when the market cap of Microsoft (MSFT) surpassed that of XOM. Well, today, the market cap of Apple is larger than that of XOM and MSFT ........ combined.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Best Cordless Vacuum

After extensive testing, the results are in, and the Dyson Digital Slim is, by far, the best cordless vacuum. It can operate as both a hand-held and a stick vacuum. It's disadvantages or high-price price (listing for close to $300 but available on eBay for $230 including shipping) and short battery-life especially when turned on to Max mode are outweighed by its awesome power and efficiency, its not losing suction as it fills up, its easy emptying, its relatively quick re-charge time, and its cool looks.

No Easy Day

This is the first-hand account of Seal Team 6's mission that resulted in the killing of OBL. Not the best written book (e.g., probably the word that appears the most is "I" leaving little learned about any of the other participants) and in that sense it does not compare to Black Hawk Down, but it most definitely is a worthwhile read. The Seal training is mind-boggling and, however lofty one's view of the military and the Seals was before reading the book, it will be heightened even further. That said, the author's (understandable) myopia leaves you wanting far deeper coverage of the various command levels and other components of the mission beyond the Seals themselves. Finally, whatever the rumblings were about when it was first published, rest assured there is nothing close to anything classified revealed in the book, but I shall not ruin the book by revealing the surprise ending.

Free PDF to Word Converter

Convert PDF to Word Software allows you easily and quickly to convert all your PDF files into Microsoft Word document (.Doc) or (.rtf), while maintaining the same quality of the original PDF file, with text and all images. The converted word file will be easily edited via any version of Microsoft Word. Convert PDF to Word Software is very easy to use and can convert not only in word but also in text format (.Txt) and TIFF (.Tiff)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dirty Girl

Producers for the big screen and the little screen seem to believe that, if they put up far-out off-beat characters, they will have a hit on their hands no matter the story. Most miss because they fail to understand that, unless the characters are real as they were for example in Catch-22 which is what made that story so powerful, their zaniness leads to emptiness. While not perfect, Dirty Girl is a quick-paced story filled with real people, some like-able, some not, that is neither predictable nor susceptible to being pigeon-holed. It's not a top-ten movie in any category, but it surely is better than most. The cast is wonderful with fresh faces as well as the likes of William H. Macy and Mary Steenburgen.

Best Start Page

FVD Speed Dial

FVD Speed Dial offers you simple and convenient access to all your favourite websites. It has a cool design, in fact the best of all SpeedDials I've used. It will surely impress you because of its user friendly interface. You can create custom background templates within the browser window and change the look of your browser completely. Creating custom logos for websites is really easy from the huge library of logos provided. You may even hide your dials by just double clicking on the space near the search box. The best part is that FVD Speed Dial didn't affect the system's operating speed even though I had around 25 dials. I was really amazed by the sheer amount of customization options available! surprise
There are 3 main modes for FVD Speed Dial:
Speed Dial: It allows for creating your own dials. Just add the url of the dial, select a group which you prefer and then give an appropriate title for the website. You may also customize the dial size and the number of dials, and even create groups for dials, like Popular, Work, School, Entertainment, etc., and these are arranged conveniently as tabs for easy access.
Most Visited: It lists the sites that you visit most often. You may choose to show the top 25 or more sites sorted by the number of visits or date within a fixed period of time.
Recently Closed: If you have closed a page by mistake and don't know how to find it again, you can see it in this category. You may choose the number of sites to be listed. 
The newest version offers full syncing feature that lets you acess your dials across computers. You may also backup your dials and import/export dials from the most popular SpeedDial plugins. You may also block websites by url or domain that you deem as inappropriate for your family or children. Power users may access the options to customize color of titles and url's from a flexible palette of colors available, set font size and more.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fixing Windows Install and Uninstall Problems

It isn’t uncommon for something to go wrong when installing, uninstalling, or updating a program on a Windows system, and this happens often enough that Microsoft provides a special troubleshooter "Fixit" for fixing this sort of problem automatically. Step-by-step instructions are also given if you prefer to fix it manually.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

iPhone 5

While thinner and lighter and with a larger screen than its predecessors, the early reviews of the iPhone 5 are muted at best. The consensus is forming that, while it's marginally better than the iPhone 4S, it is inferior to the Samsung Galaxy S3, which is even thinner and lighter and has a larger screen, and has some advanced technology features (e.g., tap-and-send; push notifications; pay-by-swipe; customizable home screen and log on) shockingly missing from the iPhone 5. But the one thing causing the most consternation is the new charging port. While it has some advantages, it makes obsolete all the charging and docking devices one might have for all the previous iPhones--although adaptors can be bought for $29. This is most upsetting to hotels that provide iPhone docking stations, because, in addition to the cost of adding adaptors to each room, they are likely to disappear faster than the robes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Kindle Fire vs. Nexus 7

I am not a fan of Walter Mossberg of the WSJ, but here is a good article comparing the new Kindle Fire with the Google Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 wins. And from personal experience, I will say the Nexus 7 is fabulous in every way and far superior to the original Kindle Fire in every way (e.g., thinness, lightness, range of apps, flexibility, superior Android OS, and ease of use). They cost the same in the 7" models.

Better Spell Checker

Spell check is good at detecting certain typos and recognizing many misspelled words. Unfortunately, you send the wrong message when you accidentally type "let's grab a bear after work" in an email.
Unless you're planning on snatching a grizzly on the way home from the office, you've just made a typo that your spell check program won't catch! It's even grammatically correct, so you won't see the green squiggly line underneath. Ginger Proofreader knows what you meant to say. It's a free download that can analyze the context of your sentences and catch errors most spelling and grammar checkers will miss. It works on anything you type in Microsoft Word, Outlook, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Just download the program and activate the browser plug-ins.
To check text, select a passage and press F2.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ars Technica

Ars Technica is one of those sites that's been around a long time (1998) and one I visit often. It's evolved over the years without ever losing its focus or loss of quality. Originally created for alpha geeks, its expanded and now covers areas like human sciences, the arts, law and politics, Linux, Mac, and Windows. I love the layout of the main page; 3 columns with large titles of articles that have good sized photos. All the feature stories (far right column) include how many pages the story has so you can choose a few pages or a longer article depending on how much time you want to spend reading. All the titles are slightly offset from each other making them easy to scan quickly. Head on over to get great articles, some of which I don't see at other news sites.

Keeping Device Drivers Up-to-Date

Processors, disc drives, graphics cards and other computer components are like high performance
automobiles - they require a driver to make them go. Just like a poor driver can cause crashes in a car,
an unstable hardware driver can cause computer crashes. Keeping your drivers updated can prevent
instability and improve performance. Device Doctor is a free, handy tool for Windows XP and 7 that
scans your computer hardware and searches for available driver updates. You can then download
new drivers with the push of a button.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Saturday Night Live: Two Degrees of Separation

Saturday Night Live officially announced Monday it's new “SNL” hires for the season starting this Saturday. Most notably is the addition of  Aidy Bryant, a performer with a big smile and a droll sense of timing, who is originally from Phoenix .  Locally she has performed with the improv team Virgin Daiquiri at iO, as well as with the group Baby Wants Candy, which specializes in completely improvised musicals.  She was most recently a writer-performer in the Second City e.t.c. company's production of "We're All In This Room Together.” But here's the really cool thing: Aidy's father, Tom Bryant, was my realtor for the house I bought in 1981 and for every purchase and sale since, and is to be applauded for saving me from trying to buy many places that would have been disasters to buy. He's a great guy and his family is a great family.  

Laptop Power Button and Closing Lid Options

In Windows 7, you have many power options, including options for the power button. Right-click on the screen and choose Personalize; double-click on Screen Saver; double-click on Change power settings; and you'll see both "Choose what the power buttons do" and "Choose what closing the lid does." You'll see various options both for when your laptop is on battery power or is plugged in.

Using Monitors With Laptops

There is no reason to use a tower as your computer's core rather than a laptop, and many great reasons not to. If you do so use a laptop, you might want to connect an external wireless keyboard/mouse and also an external monitor. Every once in a while, you might boot-up your laptop and find no output to your monitor. The fix is as follows: On the laptop, hold down the fn key (lower left) and F4; the laptop monitor will show different output options; with your mouse, click the external monitor option (often a picture of a monitor), or do so with your right-arrow button and hit Enter. Schzam, the external monitor output should be back.

Protecting Your Kids and Pets

These devices, which can be attached to clothing, shoes and collars, or embedded in backpacks, help track children and pets by providing geo-positional information in case they get lost or abducted. Information about the child's or pet's current location can be sent electronically to a parent's cellphone. You cost between $250 to $450 per tracker but you might find them for much less by searching The Google or The Ebay.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Online Jigsaw Puzzles

Here is an online collection of Flash-based puzzles, ready to solve simply by dragging with your PC's mouse. Unlike traditional box-based puzzles, these online versions have a number of advantages.  Having chosen your picture from the thousands on offer, you can then choose how many pieces you want.  You can choose 20 or, if you're feeling brave, 2,000.  You can save part-completed puzzles to return to later, and there's never any chance of there being a piece missing. All in all, it's a great online puzzle experience with nothing to download and install. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Turning Pages in a Tablet E-Reader

One way is to swipe the page. Another, easier and less tiring way, is to tap the page. Lower-right is the best tapping spot for the Nexus 7.

Mouse Scrolling Made Easy

How would you like to be able to scroll any window just by putting your mouse on it, no clicking required? Then try a free little utility called WizMouse from Antibody Software. Install this and whatever window is under the mouse pointer is ready to scroll with the middle button, without having to click to select the window first.
The program sits in the notification area (tray) of the taskbar where it can be configured or turned on or off. The figure below shows the settings.
Wizmouse interface
The developer site says that some Logitech mice using older drivers may have issues but installing the latest drivers should remove any problem. I have a Logitech mouse on one system and had no problems.
There are other free utilities of this type and one called KatMouse which is reviewed at this link.

Download From:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sequencing Your iTunes

Once album tracks are added to your iTunes library as separate files, it's easy for them to lose their association as contiguous album cuts. (When you rip the tracks from a CD, iTunes lets you join tracks so they appear in your iTunes library as a single file. This is one of the tips in the previous post.)So if you listen to your music collection other than album by album, related tracks from the same album -- such as movements of a symphony -- may play out of order or in isolation.
I use the free Audacity audio-editing program to combine sequential tracks that iTunes treats as separate files into a single file. If the tracks were originally on a CD, you could simply rerip the CDs using iTunes' option for joining tracks, but there's no way in iTunes itself to join album tracks you've downloaded from the service or elsewhere.
With Audacity, not only can you join album tracks into a single file, you can make like a DJ and mix tracks as you wish. For example, it took only a couple of minutes for me to splice the end of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Poorboy Shuffle" with the beginning of "Fortunate Son" even though the two cuts weren't contiguous on the original "Willy and the Poor Boys" album.

Extending Battery Life on Tablets and Smartphones

The article noted below gives some excellent tips on extending the battery life on tablets and smartphones. Some of them are counter-intuitive (e.g., shutting down a device or smartphone and then booting it up can be more draining than leaving the device on for a few days). BTW, to shut down a device, as opposed to having it go into sleep mode (which it will do upon one push of the power button or automatically after a period of inactivity), it is necessary to hold the power button until a dialogue box comes up asking you to confirm you want to shut down the device.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Extending the Life of Your Solid State Drive (SSD)

If you have a SSD, which is the heart of ultrabooks and other such laptops, you know how great they are (e.g., booting up fast as lightening) and would never go back to any other kind of drive. That said, this article gives some very good, easty-to-do, and non-obvious, tips to extend the life of your SSD.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Big Year

Much like a fine Shakespeare play, The Big Year is a true story, although not based on actual facts, that gives a memorable glimpse into human nature. If you like beautiful cinematography, a fabulous cast, an unusual script, and a quirky plot, then you won’t mind the absence of well-crafted dialogue. It might not be in the category of un-missable, but you likely will enjoy seeing it, especially if you have any fondness for birds or scenery. The music is not bad either.