Thursday, May 29, 2014

Removing Ads From Kindles "With Special Offers"

Amazon refers to certain Fire tablet and e-readers as “Kindle With Special Offers.” These “special offers” — or as many people call them, advertisements — appear as screen savers, on the lock screen or at the bottom of the home screen. Amazon also has “limited time special offers” on newer Kindle Fire models to provide discounts on selected items, as explained at amazon.com/exclusivefireoffers.
While the ads do not appear on the pages of books you buy for the Kindle, they do subsidize the overall cost of the hardware. To pay for ad removal, log into your Amazon account at amazon.com/manageyourkindle or go to the Your Account page and in the Digital Content area, click on “Manage Your Content and Devices.” Next, click on “Manage Your Devices” and select your Kindle to display its details. Next to “Special Offers,” click Edit and follow along.
Depending on the type of Kindle, it typically costs $15 or $20 to unsubscribe from the special offers — which is around the price difference with the Kindle models that come ad-free out of the box. Once you unsubscribe, your Amazon account is billed accordingly.

Coping With a Lost Smartphone or Tablet

These apps can help:

Lookout: Will take a picture (called a "theftie") of whomever stole your phone. It also will pinpoint where your phone is.

Message: Remotely places recovery instructions on the phone's lock screen.

Signal Flare: Get an email with your phone's location right before it runs out of battery.

Scream: Lets you make your phone emit an alarm or ring.

Wipe: Remotely clear everything off your device.


New Travel Insurance

Expanding its ubiquity (if you haven't noticed, Berkshire Hathaway realty signs now pop up everywhere), Berkshire Hathaway is offering a new travel insurance product. For $25, Air Care will pay you $50 if your flight is delayed 2 hours, $500 if your checked baggage is delayed 12 hours, $1,000 for a 2 hour tarmac day, and $500 if you miss a connection.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Taking the Bridge to the 21st Century of Ground Transportation

[Cautionary Note: Nothing in this post is intended to be knowledgeable given the newness of the experience. Thus, it is meet to note that there very well may be better, easier, and less expensive options. Thus, the intendment of this post is simply to make known an alternative heretofore unknown to some or otherwise  unconsidered, i.e., put me down as a ground transportation ignoramus striving to be an idiot savant of ground transportation]

Say you're flying into Newark Airport and need to get to Williamsburg but the AirTrain is down for repairs, you don't want to take a bus or a multi-passenger shuttle, you don't want to take the change of waiting in a long line for a cab, and you don't want to rent a car. You can reserve all kinds of things, from a sedan, to a limousine, to a stretch limousine, to a van, to a van limousine, and beyond. You can reserve whatever you want online or through an app to get you to or from any airport or hotel and most residences (including your home). It is all incredibly simple and not nearly as expensive as one might have guessed.

Link to Service Used in This Instance: https://www.carmellimo.com/

Travel Websites

Whatever cost-savings you might think you're getting by using a travel website, you might be mistaken. Just by way of example, Hotels.com would reserve a given room for $150, Travelocity sent me a special promotion price of $139 for the identical room. I phoned the hotel directly and got the same room for $123. Dealing directly with the service provider can have other advantages over dealing through a travel website, especially when there is a problem and especially when a refund might be in order. And good luck trying to get through to a person at a travel website by phone.

Captain Ron (1992)

The predictability of this delightful film does not detract from its being a little gem. Martin Short, Kurt Russell and Mary Kay Place turn in wonderfully endearing performances, and the script/dialogue is quite well done. If you ever thought of cruising in the Caribbean or anywhere or even if not, if you like laughing out loud, you'll enjoy Captain Ron

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103924/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gmail Spam Filtering

As with any email program, it is important to check with some regularity email messages sent to the spam folder in Gmail. You likely will be surprised to learn how many legitimate emails end up there. For example, it has been reported that, all of a sudden, one user's email credit card purchase alerts and bank alerts, which always had come to the inbox, now were being sent to the spam folder. And when one does see an email in the spam folder from a sender whose email comes with some frequency and you want none of it to end up in the spam folder, be sure to change your filter settings to allow (whitelist) emails from that sender. Just right-click on the email, click on the pull down menu from "More," and choose Filter Messages Like These, and then apply the filter(s) you want from the many filtering options you will see in those settings. It's pretty cool.

Car Rental Insurance

When you rent a car, you have a choice to accept or decline the collision damage waiver. If you decline the damage waiver, depending on your credit card, in the event of collision damage, the credit card might just cover just the deductible, leaving to your car insurance to cover the rest of the damage or your credit card might cover all the damage including the deductible. It can pay to check your credit card to see what it covers in your instance. A Chase Visa Southwest Airlines card seems to cover everything. One unrelated note: When you damage a rental car, the rental car company will often assert a claim for lost profits for the time the car is out-of-commission and not available for rental.

Credit Card Coverage Link: http://usa.visa.com/personal/card-benefits/credit-card/collision-waiver.jsp 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bissell Symphony

Given rave reviews by the WSJ, the Bissell Symphony turns out to be a fabulous combo vacuum/steamer that does wonders on hard surfaces. Available from Bissell.com, Amazon, BestBuy and elsewhere, it can vacuum or steam separately or vacuum and steam at the same time. It is bagless and very powerful. The only two drawbacks are that is a bit loud and it does not have an auto-cord-retractor function. It comes in red as pictured below or a much more attractive blue. Do not be put off by the Bissell.com website which is a bit goofy.




Amazon Return Policy: Excellent With a Cautionary Note

Generally speaking, Amazon's return policy and procedure are excellent. The return can be authorized and a return pre-paid UPS shipping label printed with a couple of clicks on the website, so all you have to do is drop off the package at a UPS place, and, as soon as the package is scanned into the UPS system, Amazon will issue the refund (even though its website says the refund will issue 2-days after the package is received back). All that said, there can be a marked difference for more expensive items. I'm not sure what the cut-off is, but if you want to return say a $600 laptop that suffered a defective network adaptor, rather than issue a UPS pre-paid label, the website will issue an un-prepaid USPS label, and you are required to insure the item when you go to the post office to buy the postage to send it back. Rest assured that a complaint has been raised with Amazon but likely to no avail.*

____________

     * Here is the text of that complaint: "I had always found Amazon's return policy (allowing customers to print prepaid UPS labels and drop off the packages at UPS) to be efficient and easy, making it an important reason I would choose to buy from Amazon. But its return policy for this laptop is cumbersome and difficult for no ostensible reason and makes me reluctant to ever again buy anything from Amazon that would follow this procedure I'm having to following. Specifically, rather than allowing me to print a prepaid UPS label, the procedure is to print an un-prepaid USPS label and then go to the post office to buy postage and insure the package. What makes this infuriating, beside the typical wait-time at my post office, which is almost never shorter than a half- hour, is that Amazon just as easily could allow customers to print pre-paid UPS labels with the insurance already included. Further, it would be one thing if the customer just decided for no reason to return the product, but in this instance, the return is the result of the product having an un-fixable hardware defect (as confirmed by HP after spending 3 hours with HP on telephone support with HP trying to fix the problem).  Another alternative that Amazon should consider if it insists on a USPS return instead of a UPS return: Let the customer print his or her own USPS label from the USPS.com website. The item can still be insured, and there will be a tracking number, but the customer would not have to wait in line at the post office. Instead, the customer could simply drop off the package at the post office with its prepaid label already attached.

          While I will continue buying smaller less expensive items from Amazon, I seriously doubt I ever would buy a laptop or similar-cost or higher-cost product from Amazon and seriously doubt I will renew my Prime membership. I trust you will take this comment and the time taken to submit it as it is intended, i.e., as feedback to consider in improving your customer service as it relates to your return procedures. Thank you for your time in considering this matter."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Customized Shortcut Icons

You can create a desktop shortcut icon for just about any process (e.g., shutdown; re-start; remote desktop connection). Anything you want to have happen in one-click, you can do it. Just right-click on the desktop, click on New/Shortcut and put in the path and name the shortcut and change the icon to anything you want it to be. The Google knows the path for everything. So, just put into The Google a search such as "shutdown desktop shortcut" or "re-start desktop shortcut" or whatever it is you want, and The Google will tell you the path.

Change Your Ebay Password

Ebay said hackers had infiltrated a database containing customers' unencrypted personal information as well encrypted passwords. It advised changing your password.
 Full Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/22/technology/ebay-reports-attack-on-its-computer-network.html?emc=edit_ct_20140522&nl=technology&nlid=15240899&_r=0

See the Metropolitan Museum of Your Art at Home

The trend for museums and galleries to make high-resolution images of their collections available for online browsing took another major step forward recently, with an announcement from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The institution has made available almost 400,000 images, which covers almost all of its collection of art and artefacts.  Under a program called the Open Access For Scholarly Content (OASC), you can browse the entire collection via your web browser, and download images for any non-commercial purpose.

Download Link: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sports Night

If you like Aaron Sorkin (writer of The West Wing), you would love Sports Night, his first TV series. It has his noted rapid dialogue and an amazingly fabulous cast, with, among many others, Josh Charles, Peter Krause, and Felicity Huffman (William H. Macy, her husband, shows up for several episodes). Although set in a a sports commentary studio (a la ESPN), you need have no interest in or knowledge about sports to enjoy this series. The characters are magnetic, and the stories range from touching to thought-provoking and never fail to entertain. It also has perfect theme music. You can stream it or buy it on DVD but that will cost you. It is being replayed now on FXX (Ch. 67 on Cox) or FXXHD (Ch. 1067 on Cox) with two shows a day (1-1:30 pm and 1:30-2 pm on Cox) every weekday. The shows play in order but it need not start with Season 1, Episode 1 to enjoy it. Just set your DVR, sit back, and smile.

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0165961/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

AOL Email Has Been Hacked


AOL recently admitted that their email service has been hacked, putting users and others at risk for malware. Here's what you need to know about the problem and what you need to do to protect yourself.

What To Look For
The AOL email system has been hacked and multiple accounts have been compromised. These compromised accounts are sending emails with malicious links to other AOL account holders, as well as people who have email accounts with other providers. To see if your account had been compromised, check your sent folder to see if there are any emails that you did not send in it--if there are, your account is likely compromised.


How to Protect Yourself

Even if your account doesn't seem to be compromised, it's best to reset your password just in case. If you do think your account has been compromised, reset your password immediately and make sure your computer is running an updated anti-virus software. AOL has outlined the complete list of steps you should take to correct the problem here: 
http://help.aol.com/help/microsites/microsite.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=51598

New Way to Prepay for Parking at Sky Harbor Terminals at Discount Prices

Say you are taking a six-day trip back East to visit children, relatives, a former relative, and a high-school best friend you have not seen in more than 40 years. It might cost you $60 to take cabs to and from Sky Harbor Airport and, of course, it is always nerve-wracking to take a cab because either it shows up 15-30 minutes early and you hate making the cab driver wait or it does not show up on time. There is now a fabulous alternative that is cost-effective for trips of this length or shorter, especially if you have a strong preference to park in a terminal garage: Sky Harbor Prepaid Parking. Here are the advantages: the daily rate is nearly 50% the standard rate (i.e., $13/day instead of $25/day; you pay in advance and get a voucher (which you can print or store on your phone) that makes getting out of the lot much faster; and a 100% refund (which you is done immediately online) on any cancellation more than 24 hours before check-in and a charge of only 1-day for cancellations within 24 hours of check-in. It takes just seconds to reserve your spot and even fewer seconds if you set up a free account.

Prepaid Parking Link: http://skyharbor.com/transportationparking/PrepaidDiscountParkingApp.htm

Auto-Forwarding Text Messages to Email

It can be a great convenience to have the text messages you receive forwarded to your email (e.g., responding on your computer's keyboard is easier than on a phone's keyboard and you don't have to pick up your phone while you're working at your computer to see a text message). Some phones will have a setting either in the text or the email settings to auto-forward all texts to your email. But if yours does not, no problem: There are apps that will do just that for both Android and Apple devices.

PS: If you have a Google Voice number, you can set it to automatically forward text messages sent to it to an email address.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Station Agent 2003

While it many too many awards to mention, it also has been touted as a comedy. It is not a comedy. But many of the awards are well taken. That said, it does not make a lot of sense as a linear narrative. And it could be criticized on the same grounds that beatnik poetry is justifiably criticized, i.e., in letting the reader/audience make up whatever it wants from the palette presented on the canvas or the page. Yet, while the story might suffer, the characters are wonderful, and the actors who present them give first-rate performances. Lastly, it is the best railroad track movie since Stand by Me and Racing With the Moon. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Headhunters 2011

If you like the Coen brothers, especially Blood Simple, you will love Headhunters. Even if you don't speak Norwegian (fear not, there are subtitles that are fairly accurate in their translations), you will appreciate that far from being unique, the Coen brothers can be outdone in their own genre, as Headhunters most certainly does. It also captures the indomitable will of the human spirit, albeit in ways that are not for the squeamish (although no one seemed to complain about a similar scene in Slum Dog Millionaire). And to top it all off, there is nothing predictable as the movie unfolds ... so just  sit back and enjoy.

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1614989/?ref_=nv_sr_3

Amazon Prime Membership Sharing

There has been some discussion as to the extent to which one can share the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership. The issue was even put to the NYT Ethicist who declined to opine on the matter. As it turns out, Amazon spells out its policy very clearly on its website. Here is that policy: "Free or paid Amazon Prime members can share their shipping benefits with up to four additional family members living in the same household. If you purchase a Prime membership for a small business, you may invite up to four co-workers to shop with this corporate account. Other Amazon Prime membership benefits such as Prime Instant Video and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library can't be shared." [Highlighting added]

Amazon Policy Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_v4_sib?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200444180

Mophie Juice Pack

If you find that you're having to charge your phone to get through the day, then the Mophie Juice Pack is just the thing. For under $100, you get a good-looking protective cover in a choice of colors and a rechargeable battery extender. They are available for iPhones, Samsung phones and other phones. They are available all over, and eBay has them at far lower prices. Here is what they look like:

 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Caution re GE

GE makes a double wall oven that fits in the space of a single oven. Here is a picture of it.

Single-Double Wall Oven: Two ovens in the space of one
It might come to pass that a slight film develops on the inside of the upper glass panes. Although hardly noticeable, one might want to have it gotten rid of. Should such an impulse arise, do NOT act upon it. Most important, do not call GE to have them do the glass cleaning. Because, if they do, after they have cleaned the glass, you just might learn that the GE repair guy messed up something in the oven electronics so that the oven does not work at all. A follow-up service call will then be scheduled for the afternoon of the next day  (a Friday of course) at the earliest and then you will get a call that the 5 pm deadline will not be met because the repair guy is running 1+ hour(s) late. Don't try to bother calling GE because they shut down at 3 pm EDT and they do not work on weekends. So, if the repair guy does not show up or cannot fix it, you will have lost the use of the oven for the weekend. As a result, having nothing to do while waiting for the repair guy to arrive, you might find yourself  doing a post much like this one and wondering what a frozen pizza done in the microwave will taste like. If you've read this far, I apologize for the rant and appreciate your "listening" to it. And as an apology gift, the below short tutorial is the best lesson for listening to stories of woe:

Tutorial Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

PS: The repair guy did show up. He had been here once before and remembered me and the house. He's a great guy and very nice. He fixed the oven in 10 seconds. He would not take a tip. The first repair idiot had failed to connect two cables together. How pizza tastes out of a microwave will have to wait another day.

Caution re Glary Utilities 5

I know many of you, as a result of my strong recommendation or otherwise, have chosen to use either the free or pro version of Glary Utilities. A couple of days ago, the publishers of GU came out with V5 to replace V4. While it touts many supposed improvements, as often is the case with software, the designers have managed to take a great program and make it worse. Whatever its purported new features, two feature changes have led me to uninstall and stop using GU. First, it has changed how it calculates boot-up time, so a computer will now appear to take twice as long to boot-up and will score demonstrably worse, even though it really does not take any longer. So, either the old way of calculating was wrong or the new one is, but there is no way of knowing and they won't tell you. Second, and far more important, V4 (and even earlier versions) enabled you to designate the time of the delay the start-up of any programs designated to load on Windows start up. Now, any program designated to delay will do so for only .1 second and you cannot change it. In effect, then, there is no significant delay at all.

I will look again at Glary Utilities when it releases V6 to see if it corrects these shortcomings. In the meantime, I have installed WinUtilities, which seems comparable and is free and is significantly smaller than V5. Alternatively, you might just stay with V4 until V6 comes out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tracking Amazon Orders

The next time you order from Amazon, look closely near the top of the confirmation page, and you'll see an option to get text alerts of delivery status. You can also opt for this in your Account settings (under Shipment Updates via Text). It's much easier than entering the tracking number into Fara or on the specific carrier's website.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Adware Cleaner

Most adware is not dangerous in the sense of being malware. But it does no good either and can slow down your computer. For example, my computer had been starting up in 16-18 seconds, and then no matter what I did, it was taking 21-22 seconds. Thinking the issue might be adware, I installed and ran Adware Cleaner and was stunned to see the amount of adware that was resident. Upon running Adware Cleaner once(which takes about 30 seconds), my start time once again was 18 seconds or less. In addition to removing adware, Adware Cleaner also will rid your computer of unwanted toolbars, hijackers, and other such stuff. If you have a more serious problem with junkware, then you might also try Junkware Removal Tool. In either event, be sure to set a system restore point before running these programs.

Adware Cleaner Download Site: http://adwcleaner.en.lo4d.com/

Junkware Removal Tool Site: http://thisisudax.org/

Hearing Test: Fast and Free

The National Hearing Test, designed with funding from NIH, takes under 10 minutes by phone. Just dial 866-223-7575.

Reminders on Your Desktop (No Software Required)

Right click on an empty spot on the desktop, click on New and then either Folder or Document. Then, change the name of the new folder or document and there's your reminder.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tales From the Airbnb Crypt

To some, Airbnb.com is one of the greatest things to happen to the travel industry in recent times. It's the prime example of how the new "sharing economy" is going to change everything. It's so much more interesting than hotels, it is the best way to experience a destination, a fantastic way to meet new people.
 
It definitely can be all of those things, sure, but some users of the site brush up against the harsh reality that in many ways, Airbnb is far from perfect. Let's start with the elephant in the room: In many cities, Airbnb is flat out illegal. You can actually be evicted during your stay – it's happened – and your host could find themselves on the street, right along with you (this has also happened). Then there's the too-infrequently reported fact that Airbnb routinely collects up to 12 percent in fees from users on every single booking, which can amount to the cost of a hotel night in many cities. (Hosts pay a kinder, gentler three percent, by the way. Why? Because the last thing Airbnb wants to do is discourage hosts from signing up. Too bad users aren't as valued.)
 
Then there's the business of the site setup itself – I've personally spent far too much time searching for places to stay, only to find that the owner won't respond to emails, or that they aren't even renting the property anymore and "forgot to take down the listing." I also know of users who have booked – and paid for – apartments listed as completely private, only to find them anything but. I've heard of hosts informing guests halfway through their stay that they're moving the guest across town, with no compensation for the hassle. As is to be expected when you book into a stranger's home (or, when you rent your home out to strangers), things can get plain weird. Stories of such weirdness are everywhere – here are just ten cautionary tales.
 
1. The orgy
New York comedian Ari Teman rented out his modest garden apartment in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan earlier this year for what turned out to be a full-blown orgy, titled "Turn Up Part 2: The Pantie Raid." Teman was reportedly evicted almost immediately by building management.
 
2. The meth addicts
Troy Dayton rented out his home in Oakland, Calif. to a young woman who turned out to be a meth addict and whotrashed his home and stole his birth certificate. A request to Airbnb to have his birth certificate replaced and the damages covered was ignored; he was eventually begrudgingly given some site credit.
 
3. The crime scene
Publicist Jessica Penzari rented her Midtown Manhattan apartment this past month to a woman who told her she was military, looking for a little R&R; Penzari was alarmed to receive a call from the cops to alert her that a woman (who turned out to be a prostitute) had been slashed by a man (who turned out to be a john) in a dispute over the cost of services. Airbnb put her up in a hotel and sent a professional cleaning service.
 
4. The sudden eviction
Matt Lynley moved to New York ready to take over the world – but first, he'd come face to face with some of Airbnb's greatest weaknesses. After numerous hurdles, including having most of his cash tied up in a pending charge when an owner wouldn't verify a booking – Lynley ended up in the spare room of an apartment in a luxury building with a nosy doorman and a vindictive building management, which, it was reported,  ended up slapping a very specific eviction notice – for his room – on the apartment's front door.
 
5. The fraudulent rental
A California man was enjoying his rental in Berlin when a knock came at the door from a man who professed to be the real owner of the unit, wondering what was going on in the apartment. "This guy with a thick Russian accent knocks on my door, demanding what I'm doing in his house. For a moment I thought I was in a bad 80s movie," he said at the time.
 
6. The watershed moment
Back in 2011, a San Francisco woman came home after a week away to find her apartment ransacked and trashed; a very public battle with Airbnb ensued; executives eventually apologized on the record – the incident lead to the creation of the site's current host protection policy.
 
7. The soiled penthouse
Recently, Rachel Bassini rented out her Manhattan penthouse to an unassuming guy named "Jeffery," who had a profile picture of him looking perfectly normal, with a wife and young child. Jeffery turned out to be the host of a party that left her gorgeous apartment in ruins, covered in condom wrappers and bodily fluids and, er, excretions. 
 
8. The pop-up brothel
Two Stockholm women handed over the keys to their apartment only to find eventually that their flat was being used as a brothel. How'd they find out? The police alerted them that their home had just been raided – two working girls had been caught in the act.
 
9. The competitive landlord
Chris Dannen quickly racked up nearly $20,000 in bookings on his Brooklyn apartment, so he was curious when everything suddenly went quiet. One culprit: His landlord had decided to go for a piece of the action, renting out rooms in a nearby building. Dannen was soon served with a restraining order, requiring him to stop renting and to evict current tenants. He was later evicted as well
 
10. The bait and switch
A California woman was excited to find a reasonably-priced rental in Austin, Texas during an event weekend, making the 50 percent down payment and counting her good luck. Out of nowhere, the host emailed to say that they'd forgotten it was a busy weekend and that the rate was actually three times what she'd agreed to pay, leaving her in the unpleasant situation of negotiating her way out of the booking and struggling to find alternate accommodation on one of the busiest weekends of the year. 
 
Of course, hotels aren't always perfect either. They can overbook and "walk" you, although they at least they pay for the night at the alternate hotel they provide. I did try booking on Airbnb a few times, but each and every time I was either rejected by the landlord or canceled at the last minute. I'd rather stay in a nice Hilton Garden Inn, any day.

In a World 2013

After love, war, and tragedy, perhaps the theme most embraced by movie makers is competition--from sports to spelling bees to crossword puzzle championships to chess matches to auditions. In a World takes on a world few know anything about: Competition for voice-over roles between family members. Sounds quirky? Well, it tries to be, but it falls flat. There are moments that make you laugh for sure. But the directing and acting are so downbeat that as the movie drags on, and it does drag, you'd just as soon have all the characters just go away and the movie end.

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2294677/?ref_=fn_al_tt_7

Friday, May 9, 2014

Another Day, Another Time 2013

If you don't like music, if you don't like the Coen Brothers, if you don't like Llewyn Davis, if you don't like the 1960s, if you don't like Joan Baez, or if you don't 1/5 hours of pure joyous listening, then skip this movie. If you do watch it, turn up the volume, you're in for a real treat.

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3358552/?ref_=nv_sr_2

While People Might Disagree on How to Pronounce Tomato ...

There actually is little if any room for argument on how to properly store vegetables. This short and clear article is the definitive word:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/08/foods-in-fridge_n_5280137.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Two Very Nifty Utilities

Resizing Dialog Boxes That Otherwise Cannot Be Resized

Some dialog boxes and other system windows have fixed dimensions and normally can’t be resized. However, a little portable program called “ResizeEnabler” can change that for most cases. The program is 10 years old but it worked for me in Windows 7, 64-bit. There is a review that says it works in Windows 8 but I could not get it to function in Windows 8.1, 64-bit. The download is a 42 KB ZIP file containing the executable EXE file, a DLL, and a text file with information. These files should be unzipped to their own folder. Clicking the executable puts an entry in the tray notification area, where you can disable it if desired.

Download Link: http://www.digitallis.co.uk/pc/ResizeEnable/index.html

Removing Those Pesky Shortcut Arrows

Many people have no problem with the little arrows on short-cut icons, and actually like the arrows so there is no confusion that the icon is a short-cut and not a program. Others, however, find those little arrows to be quite annoying. If you are one of those people, a small program from Winaero will remove them for you.

Download Link: http://winaero.com/comment.php?comment.news.156


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Better Solution to a Goofy Keyboard

An earlier post gave several alternatives way to stop a keyboard from printing the wrong letters--which typically happens when typing into a browser. Those were good suggestions and they work. But here's something to try that seems to work everytime: Open a new email to send and type a few letters into the compose box. If they come out correct, which seems they always do, then your keyboard is "fixed."

Wi-Fi Hotspots Through Cox (and likely your ISP as well)

[Note: The following is about Cox. The same or similar likely is true for other ISPs]
As a Cox internet subscriber you have access to the nation’s largest WiFi network. So you can stay connected when you travel. Preferred, Premier or Ultimate Cox High Speed Internet subscribers can access more than 250,000 hotspots throughout the country. Just look for the "CableWiFi" or "CoxWiFi" network on your WiFi-enabled devices in cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Francisco, Tampa and Washington D.C. Additionally, customers with Internet Preferred or higher service in select Cox Service areas - get free WiFi access around town and in places that are convenient to them. The Cox Mobile Connect app for Android and Apple devices is very helpful in finding wi-fi hotspots and in many other ways. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966)

Not many movies can be watched again 50 years after they were released and they are as good or perhaps even better than they were when first watched. The Russians Are Coming most definitely is one of them. The cast is fantastic, and the performances are stellar. Alan Arkin turns in likely his best performance ever, and perhaps it was his appearing in this movie that inspired Adam Arkin to produce The Americans. Paul Ford and Jonathan Winters are riots. One can see why Johnny Whitaker was later cast in Family Affair and why John Phillip Law was later cast in Barbarella. Beside the uproarious plot and plot twists, the physical comedy turned in by Carl Reiner and Alice Foss is side-splitting. All that aside, the movie tells us much about our reaction (and especially the reaction of Fox News and its audience) to 911. Perhaps it's time for a remake, entitled The Jihadists Are Coming, The Jihadists are Coming.

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060921/?ref_=nv_sr_6


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Arthur Newman 2012

It might be possible to make a movie that is slower and more boring and more inane and more poorly cast with more meaningless scenes and a more pointless plot than Arthur Newman, but then again, it might not be. If you care to read a more detailed review that will confirm the lack of any reason to see this thing, see the NYTimes review below.

NYT Review Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/movies/arthur-newman-starring-colin-firth-and-emily-blunt.html?_r=1&

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1930546/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fix for IE Security Bug

Microsoft released a security update for its Internet Explorer browser Thursday to fix a bug that allowed hackers to take over a computer. The tech company said it will be releasing a similar update for Windows XP, even though it dropped support for the 12-year-old operating system last month. Users who have automatic updates enabled should not have to take any action, Microsoft said.

Another Free Online Backup

Cox now offers free online data backup that can be scheduled. It's a bit clunky but it does work. Given that Cox provides it, likely so do other ISPs.

Here's the background info for Cox's backup system: http://tinyurl.com/ocmmxhy

Apps to Walk or Run With

IF you are headed out for a walk or jog, consider adding an app for your trip. Several smartphone apps can add a helpful boost of motivation, or just some fun information, to a workout or leisurely walk.
Music can be a great help to runners, but sometimes putting together a playlist can be a chore. So leave the song selection up to RockMyRun. This free iOS and Android app streams music while you run, serving mixes of tracks from its archive, with a fun twist: You can choose how many beats per minute the music should have, and the app will match the songs to the pace. If you are out for a fast run, you may choose a speedy setting of 150 to 160 beats per minute. For a slower jog, try 120 beats per minute, and so on.
You can also choose the music genre, mix the lengths of songs, decide whether explicit lyrics are allowed, and even search for a particular track or artist you like.
The app then selects the mix, which can last up to two hours. You can skip a song you don’t like, but that requires fishing out the phone to tap the screen.
RockMyRun works really well. It sometimes serves up music I haven’t heard before, which stops me from getting bored when exercising. But its interface can be a little confusing. For the best experience, it’s worth remembering to download mixes over Wi-Fi before leaving home — streaming music over a mobile data network can quickly eat up your monthly allowance.
To get a wider range of mixes, or mixes longer than 45 minutes, you have to register the app and upgrade to a monthly, quarterly or yearly premium package; the yearly package costs $3 a month.
For an alternative, the free iOS and Android app PaceDJ does a tempo-matching trick similar to RockMyRun’s, but it uses your music archive. This means you hear music you are more inclined to like. PaceDJ works by scanning your archive and logging the beats per minute of each track. You then choose a beats-per-minute rate you like and it starts playing.
If you’re not sure about your pace, the app can measure walking or jogging speed using your phone’s motion sensors. And if you upgrade to the full version for $3, the app can deliver a staged workout that starts at a slower pace, picks up, then slows down again. This beats-per-minute shifting feature is not available on the Android version, however.
There is a lot to like about this app, including its clear, good-looking interface and great in-app instructions. It can, however, take a long time to scan a large music archive. I also wish the music controls were bigger, so they would be easier to use while running, walking or cycling.
While music apps can help you run or walk, texting apps can be a hindrance. Texting while walking often puts pedestrians in danger as they focus on their phones instead of looking where they are going. For those who want to do it, there are apps like Type and Walk and Walk n Text. These apps use the phone’s camera to display the view in front of you as you type. The idea is that the image will help you avoid making a wrong step.
Type and Walk, free on iOS, in addition to showing the area in front of the phone, shows useful information like a word count and lets you snap a photo to include in your message. You can also share a text via Twitter, if you’d like. Walk n Text, a $2 Android equivalent (on sale recently for $1), has a few extra features, including one that makes the keyboard transparent for extra visibility.
These apps will not stop you from hurting yourself, though. You must remain aware of your environment while you type. And don’t even think about using these apps while driving.
Finally, if you are out on a long walk or run, check out Map My Walk, a favorite of mine. This free iOS and Android app tracks your routes by using GPS and shows them on a map. While you are walking or running it will also deliver audible updates on your pace using a synthesized voice, so you can learn how swiftly you are moving without having to reach for the phone. It runs in the background, so you could even use it with one of the music apps above. But be aware: The app’s complex interface does take a while to master, and GPS apps like Map My Walk tend to burn through battery life

"Guest Network" Feature on Linksys Routers

If you are getting a new wireless router, look for one that has a "guest network" feature. This will allow your guests or anyone you want to get internet access through your wireless router without being able to access any of the devices or data on your home network.