Tuesday, May 6, 2008

BookMooch - Trade away books you don't want for ones you do!

So, if you're anything like me you have boxes of books you will never (literally) read again but can't quite bring yourself to throw them out or attempt to sell them at a second hand store. Enter bookmooch. You put in titles of books you no longer want, get requests for them, mail them, and earn points toward new (to you) books you do want. Three R's or what? All it costs is the postage.


uTorrent follow up

I realized I should make a bit of a public service announcement regarding downloading using uTorrent, or anything really... you will sometimes find things like albums or multiple DVD movies packed in ZIP or RAR format. I play it safe and usually run a virus scan on the item in question before opening it with winrar. It takes less than a minute usually and can keep a lot of damage from happening. I'm not positive whether viruses can be spread just by opening the file package in question or if you have to open a file within the package, but if there is a file with the extension .exe in the package you'd be well advised to not open it unless you know exactly what it is and why it's there (downloading cracked software remains illegal as far as I know regardless of your territory, but if you've downloaded software at least you know there's a reason for an .exe file to be present in the package - there's really no reason for one with a movie or song title).

Monday, May 5, 2008

online kaleidescope?

If you have kids or grandkids you're gonna love this:


It's an online kaleidescope that lets you configure the bits that make the fun shapes (those are the technical terms).

You thing that's cool? Check this out!


This is the latest version of the toy. It gives you moving parts and multiple color palates to play with! Next time you want to give the kids something to do for a half hour so you can make dinner sit them in front of this!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Virus scan that won't slow your computer down

Likely your ISP delivered a disc to you when you signed up with a free anti-virus and internet security but if you've run it on your machine you'll notice a drop in your computer's performance (it's like ADD for your computer - part of its attention keeps getting dragged away to continually scan for viruses). Fortunately you can keep your computer virus-free without downloading any software using an online virus scan.

If you follow the link below you'll find the site for trend micro house call, an incredibly effective online anti-virus. Simply click to run house call once a week or so and the computer will remain virus-free without any loss of performance:

US - Trend Micro


So after a week of speculation on the part of Google as to whether this blog is spam it appears to have been found that no, this is not spam. I realize it must have been confusing for many of you to come to this site and get an error page instead, but hopefully this won't be an issue in the future.



p.s. Because the blog was shut down for the entire time my little survey was going about what confuses you computer-wise I reopened it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Firefox is awesome, drop IE like a hot potato

Likely you've not thought much about what you use to look at web pages, but it's worth thinking about. Firefox loads faster and has cooler features than many of the other browsers out there.

For instance, how would you like to see headlines from the news papers you read on a regular basis right in your browser window without waiting for the page to load? Using an RSS feed you can, and in fact Firefox installs one from BBC when you install it. If you see an orange RSS button on a site simply click on it and the computer will figure out what you want to do (incedentally, if you want to subscribe to this blog in your browser to see new headlines as I write them just click here). This bookmarks toolbar is useful for other things too, though. If there are sites you visit on a regular basis then instead of bookmarking them in your regular bookmark folder you can bookmark them on the toolbar and access them with a single click.

It automatically finds add-ons you need to play content like flash, quicktime, etc, and you can install it by clicking on the green 'puzzle piece' where the content would be. It also incorporates a spell checker (which is highlighting several words as I type right now) that checks your spelling in any field open in Firefox, a must if you're involved in chat room conversations, web mail such as hotmail, blogging, or other times it would be embarrassing to misspell a word. Possibly most important is the screen that pops up letting you know if you're visiting a potentially dangerous web site, such as one known to spread viruses, suspected identity theft, or other harmful internet applications you can't be bothered thinking about.

Best of all, it's free, and will run on whatever operating system you're using (PC, Mac, Linux, etc.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Skype - Unlimited Long Distance & Video Calling between $0-3 per month

One of the neatest things you can do these days with a high speed connection is use your computer as a free long distance telephone. Any other user who has this software becomes free to speak with, anywhere in the world. You can also use it to call unlimited land lines within North America for $30 a year, or $3 a month. I made use of this feature extensively when using it for business, I didn't even have to dial, just click on the person's phone number and the computer took care of the rest. It's not a perfect replacement for a home phone yet, as 911 service is pretty rudimentary, but you can definitely cut down on some of the bills by eliminating all but the most basic phone line for emergencies only and using Skype for all other calling.