Tag Archives: Rick Robinette

InternetOff – Or Not?

imageI’m not in the habit of leaving the door to my home wide open – unlocked perhaps – depending on circumstances. But wide open? No. Nor, have I ever developed the habit of leaving my Internet connection wide open – unless I have a need to do so. Otherwise – I break the connection.

My Tablet computer is subject to the same set of rules. Unless I’m actively engaged with the Internet – off goes the Wi-Fi.

As a one-time user, and a big fan of the free ZoneAlarm Firewall (since the “olden days”), disconnecting from the Internet was as simple as flicking a switch from within the ZoneAlarm GUI –  “Stop All Internet Activity”. Until, that is, ZoneAlarm underwent “improvement” to the point that it became useless for my needs. But, that’s another story.

Next up, on the Firewall scene, was PC Tools Firewall Plus which offered the same – “switch off” capabilities. Unhappily though,  PC Tools Firewall Plus, went the way of the Dodo Bird (on Windows 8) – at least as a stand alone application.

Now running to catch up, I finally relented and activated Windows 8 internal firewall which, with the addition of the freebie application, Windows Firewall Control, suits my needs – for now.

image

Still, this is a fairly clunky method to accomplish a simple task such as shutting down a Network Adapter (Ethernet Card) – there has to be a better way. Other than pulling the Cat 5 cable.  Smile  And, there is.

Regular reader Hipockets, has reminded me (thank you Sir) that the freebie application – InternetOff – is designed to do just that – turn off an Internet connection.

Installation:

A couple of clicks ……..

image

…………… and, you’re finished.

image

Following the installation, you’ll find a “Globe” icon in the system tray which when activated, will bring up …….

image

Click – and you’re done – as shown in the following screen captures.

image

image

Reverse the process and, you’re back online. Quick, simple, and painless.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win7, 32/64 bit (Tested on Win 8/32 bit under which the application must be run as an administrator).

Download at: The developer’s site.

From the – “he got there first files.” Good friend and fellow blogger, Rick Robinette, posted on this application previously. You’ll enjoy reading Rick’s take on this neat little freebie.

Advertisements

13 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Utilities

Today Only – Free Android Splashtop Remote Desktop At Bookmarks4Techs

imageGood friend, super tech blogger, and Mighty Freeware Hunter, Rick Robinette (well known to many regular readers here as an informative guest writer and, as the owner of What’s On My PC), has a topnotch free deal happening right now on his super tech site Bookmarks4Techs.

Rick is spot on when he makes the point –

If you own an Android Tablet PC or Smartphone, this app is a MUST HAVE.  It is remote software that allows you to remotely access and stream content from your home computer to your tablet computer or smartphone.  Very cool app…  Get it FREE – TODAY ONLY!

image

From Bookmarks4Techs:

You’re out and about with your Android device and you suddenly realize that you need to access a file sitting on your home computer. You’re stuck, right? Not if you have Splashtop Remote Desktop, an app that brings your entire computer to your phone or tablet.

Note: If you have an Android 3.x tablet, it is recommended that you download Splashtop Remote Desktop HD. This version features enhanced performance and is optimized specifically for Android 3.x/Tegra-based tablets.

With this app, you can control your home computer from your Android device via Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection. Get Splashtop Remote Desktop and you can view your desktop, use your regular Web browser with your plug-ins and bookmarks, and access all your important PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and Outlook files.

If Android is your thing – take a run over to Rick’s site and get in on the action. If you’re in the IT game, then I highly recommend that you capture Bookmarks4Techs in your Bookmarks/Favorites.

13 Comments

Filed under Android, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Giveaways

The Internet’s Thirty Second Rule

imageAs a blogger, I’ve long since made the observation that the Internet is a 30 second world. I’ve learned – if I don’t get a readers attention in the first 30 seconds – it’s over – it’s not going to happen.

The explanation is simple enough – the Internet has taught us not to read for content but rather; to skim for content. The Internet has conditioned us to believe – if it can’t be digested in 30 seconds or less, then it’s too involved to bother with. From a blogging perspective, I try to counter this perception by constructing a post using very short paragraphs.

Anecdotally, I know that the “30 second rule” is valid – based on my analysis of the “time on site” statistics on articles that simply don’t click with readers. But, there’s much more evidence than just my anecdotal experience with the “30 second rule”.

For example – Jakob Nielsen, over at Alertbox, reports on an academic study How Little Do Users Read?,  which focuses on how users read on the Web, that’s supportive of my personal experience.

Study Summary:

On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.

It seems to me then, that it’s no accident that Twitter tops out at 140 characters ….  it’s not just about economy of language (to placate the skimmers) – partially, it’s about attention span – or more properly – a reduced attention span.

It’s this skimming behavior, the lack of attention span, and the impact it had on two fellow bloggers, TechPaul from Tech – for Everyone, and Rick Robinette from What’s on my PC, which prompted me to post this article.

TechPaul:

Paul crafted an article Just Say “No” To mylife.com, which was so completely misread by readers (who believed they were on the Mylife site, and registered their complaints accordingly), that he was forced to publish the following disclaimer:

Attention: I am not Mylife.com, I am not in any way affiliated with Mylife.com, And cannot help you with Mylife.com. So, I have turned off comments.

Rick Robinette:

Similarly, Rick’s article bing – Microsoft’s New Search Engine ran into the same problem – readers who were skimmers or, who had the attention span of a doorknob, believed they were on a Microsoft site, as indicated by the following typical comments.

“Cancel bing from my computer…i did not ask for it nor do i want it”

“Please cancel and remove bing from my pc. It showed up a week ago. I did not ask for it and I do not want it.”

“Get Bing off my computer! It is intrusive & I don’t like it!!”

i want you to respond to this asap i want you to tell me step by step to get of you you hijacked my computer without my permission this is against the law you big bully!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

get this off my computer now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s a couple of comments from Rick to his readers.

I think you think I am the inventor of Microsoft Bing. I wish I were… You need to contact Microsoft, not some poor blogger.

What it is proving is that people do not understand computers and will lash out at anyone. You should see some of the comments where profanities are publicly made that I have banned.

Sadly, Rick’s posted comment had absolutely no effect – the dumb comments continued to play out like a broken record.

Both these experiences add weight, I think, to my earlier comment – “the Internet has taught us not to read for content but rather; to skim for content”.

Little wonder that cybercriminals are so successful with downloading rogue applications onto victims’ computers, when the target’s common behavior pushes reading aside in favor of a quick click on something they choose not to read in its entirety.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

13 Comments

Filed under Cyber Criminals, Education, Interconnectivity, Online Safety, Opinion, Point of View, Recommended Web Sites

“One” Tip For Speeding Up Windows Boot Time – Install Free Soluto Anti Frustration Software

This past Tuesday, an item posted as part of our Tech Thoughts Daily Net News column – “Five tips for speeding up Windows boot time”, written by one of my favorite tech writers Michael Kassner, struck a chord with many readers. More readers than I expected, found this item of interest.

There’s a problem with Michael’s suggestions thought – the effort required is substantial, and despite implementing each and every suggestion, you may not see any improvement in startup time.

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, (another of my favorite tech writers),  in this review, will introduce you to a no nonsense free tool that WILL shorten your boot time. Using this great find of Rick’s, I was able to cut my boot time almost in half – down to 51 seconds!

Here’s Rick’s review:

imageHave you ever noticed that the longer you own your PC the longer it takes for it to startup (or boot)?

A common complaint from computer users, especially home-based users, is that their computer is slow to startup and does not boot like it did when they first purchased (and installed) it.

During the ownership of our PC we are constantly installing software, and as a result many of these software applications take a place in the startup routine of the computer.

The startup place that the apps reside is often for purposes of performing automatic updates or to provide a convenient launching point for the application (such as the system tray) or it is an application (or Windows Service) that simply runs in the background while you are performing other tasks on your PC.

I have personally witnessed another scenario where computer users attempted to remove applications from their PC only to find that residual files are left over (after the uninstall) that is still attempting to startup when the computer boots.

Over a period of time this accumulation causes the computer to startup slow and often robs the computer of system resources, resulting in increased memory and cpu (processor) usage.

If you are techie enough, you can try to dissect the numerous (yes there are more than one) startup points on your PC to regain some of the power back; however, you will soon find out it can be frustrating experience.

To help us solve this problem, I ran across a wonderful software application, called Soluto – Anti Frustration Software, that measures your startup time as soon as the Windows Logo screen is displayed.

Soluto is geared toward the non-techie type, is very appealing in appearance, and is very easy to use. Soluto is currently in beta (software testing stage); however, during my testing on my Windows 7 based PC, it performed without a hitch.

After you install Soluto, you will be prompted to reboot (restart) your computer. This is where Soluto goes to work in analyzing and actually timing how long it takes your PC to startup.

Following the analysis you will be provided with a very nice graphical interface where Soluto will help you determine what apps (and/or services) are slowing down your PC, what apps you can pause or remove (called no-brainers), what apps you can delay starting up (will eventually start when the computer is idle), and, what apps are safe to play around with and which ones are not.

If you mess up, you can return or restore an application back into the startup routine. To see a video of Soluto in action, click [ HERE ] .  Typically, most Windows services will identified by Soluto as “cannot be removed” and will even tell what purpose the service provides.

In my testing of Soluto, I went from a 2 minute and 30 second startup time, to a 1 minute and 31 second startup time by simply pausing and delaying a few apps that Soluto told me was safe to do so.

If you choose to Pause an application it means it will be removed from the boot sequence and in order to run it, you must launch it manually. Choosing to Delay an application means it will be removed from the boot sequence, and will run automatically after the boot is over, during an idle moment. Pausing an application provides value beyond the boot, and improves your ongoing PC experience, since Paused applications do not run in the background and do not occupy PC resources. Delaying an application, on the other hand, will only shorten your boot time and not improve your ongoing experience. In general, it is advisable to Pause applications that you don’t use on a daily basis, and Delay those that you do.. If you’re not sure, choose Delay. If you see that you’re barely using an application, you can always choose to Pause it later.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE FULL SCREENSHOT ]

Screenshot - Soluto

I can also see this app being used on my PC to help me visually detect a potential malware concern. Speaking of malware, this app must have potential… The cybercriminals are already posting “fake” Soluto programs out there. Do not fall for this tactic. Only download Soluto from their web site [ HERE ] .

Minimum requirements to run Soluto Beta:

  • 512MB of Memory (RAM) and above
  • 500MB of free disk space (Soluto Beta takes up approximately 20MBs; the rest is required for the proper operation of the Microsoft .NET Framework. Please see the Microsoft .Net Framework Minimal System Requirements for more information.) Operating System – Windows XP (SP2 and above) / Windows Vista / Windows 7
  • Not Supported: Windows Server 2003 and 2008
  • Administrator User – The application must be installed using an Administrator account.

Some of the comments we received from high level users, when we first ran this article in June of this year included:

It took 25-30 seconds off of each of my machines boot time. (Mark)

It is really an impressive and easy to use – nice looking program. (TeX)

Super program and very accurate. (Robert)

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Guest Writers, Slow Computer, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Use Your Car’s Security Alarm As A Home Burglary System

image

There’s no doubt about it – there’s a first time for everything. Still, I was more than a little surprised this morning when a spam email (one of those forward this to everyone you know, types), actually contained information that had value.

Rather than forward the email to those on my contact lists ( I never forward emails – not ever), instead, I’ve posted it below. I’ve edited it somewhat, but I think the basic information could be useful.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this:  It’s a security alarm system that you probably already have, and requires no installation. 

Put your car keys beside your bed at night:

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home, or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

Test it.  It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down, or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain.

It works if you park in your driveway, or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won’t stick around. After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough, the criminal won’t want that.

And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

It would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can’t reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad, that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn’t hear him. He can activate the car alarm, and then she’ll know there’s a problem. 

If you enjoy forwarding emails (jokes, humorous movies – whatever), then you need to protect the email addresses of the other recipients so that they are not shared. That long list of recipients addresses you frequently see in FW: emails -is often harvested by spammers/scammers. That’s the whole idea behind FW: spam scams.

Rick Robinette, over at What’s On My PC, who’s often a guest writer here, has a great tip in his article “Tip: Bcc Protects Private Email Addresses”, on how to avoid being part of the spammers and scammers game plan. Definitely worth a visit.

Just a little aside here: I expect to receive 100’s of spam/scam article comments, based on the key words in this article. For example, after my last article on Hard Drives, I was overwhelmed by spam comments from porno sites, and sex pill pushers. I have to admit it was good for a laugh. Thankfully, the WordPress Akismet spam filter was up to the task of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Interconnectivity, Online Safety, Personal Perspective, Privacy, spam

Free GooReader – Making It Easy To Read Google Books On Your PC

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, the “Mighty Freeware Hunter”, is back again with another terrific freeware find – GooReader.

GooReader is a free desktop application that allows you to search, download and read books and magazines available on Google Books.

Here’s Rick’s review:

Reading on a PC is just not the same as reading from a book or magazine. I guess it is part of the generation that I was raised with, but there is something about turning that page and the feel of that book. I always envisioned the day when I could read a book on my computer screen and turn the pages in a similar manner as a real book.

Well today is the day where this vision is coming true. I recently went on the hunt for a reading application that would allow you to read a book (or magazine) on your computer where the pages appeared to actually turn. What I came across, that closely meets my criteria, is a Google Books reader called GooReader.

GooReader

If you are not familiar with Google Books, it is an online collection of millions of books from libraries and publishers worldwide using Google Book Search

GooReader provides a sweet interface for reading publicly available books and magazines on Google Books. Instead of awkward page scrolling in your browser you can get pleasure of reading on your desktop in the same way as you read hardcover books or paperback magazines. With natural mouse moves you can turn over pages, zoom in and out, jump to the needed TOC item.

GooReader

You start using GooReader by entering a search criteria in the search box that is directly tied into Google Books Search.  If you notice above, I performed a search for Windows 7 and the books started appearing on the shelf.  You can select a book from the shelf to read full screen if you like, zoom in, zoom out AND turn the pages like a real book. The controls to turn the pages and perform these other functions are located at the bottom of the pages.

In GooReader the search results are represented as 3D book models on a bookshelf. You can setup the number of search results and the scale of the bookshelf. The program can search online books by title, author or keyword that can be used in its description or content. If you want to read or save specific book, you can simply enter its Book_ID and open it in Gooreader.

GooReader

Sometimes you may need to print Google Books or read them offline when you don’t have the internet connection. Besides, most people love to read books on mobile devices (like iPad) or popular e-Book readers (like Sony Reader, Kindle or Nook). In this case the PDF format is a perfect solution. GooReader allows to automatically save publicly available books and magazines to PDF files (please read the FAQ for details). Note that this feature is available in paid version.

GooReader works only on Windows XP/Vista/7 and requires .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 installed. You do not need a Google login account to access these books; all books and magazines on Google Books are available for unregistered users.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

3 Comments

Filed under Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Google Software, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Get $245.00 From Microsoft – Forward This Email (This Is Not A Hoax)

imageMy blogging buddy, Rick Robinette, of What’s On My PC, recently posted a terrific opinion piece on forwarded emails and chain mail – STOP Chain Email. Here’s a little piece from that article –

How many of you receive on a daily basis those “forward” emails, such as funnies, hoaxes, jokes, surveys, chain letters, prayer requests, fake virus warnings, surveys, petitions, political attacks, etc. ?

Are we that gullible?  The answer is resoundingly, YES!

Luckily, my email contact list is populated by people who aren’t gullible, except perhaps, for the contact who forwarded the following “This is not a hoax” email to my inbox, this week.

I would have though that since the forwarded list contained 100s of names and email addresses, common sense would have kicked in. Apparently, common sense is not one of his strong points. How else to explain the following email which he obviously though was legitimate?

THIS IS NOT A HOAX. THIS TOOK TWO PAGES OF THE TUESDAY USA TODAY – IT IS FOR REAL.

To all of my friends, I do not usually forward messages, but this is from my friend Pearl Sandborn and she really is an attorney.If she says that this will work – It will work.

After all, What have you got to lose? I’m an attorney, And I know the law. This thing is for real. Rest assured AOL and Intel will follow through with their promises for fear of facing a multimillion-dollar class action suit similar to the one filed by Pepsi Co against General Electric not too long a go.

Dear Friends: Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates sharing his fortune.. If you ignore this, You will repent later.

Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.

When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (If you are a Microsoft Windows user) For a two weeks time period.

For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.

Thought this was a scam myself, But two weeks after receiving this e-mail and for warding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a check for $24,800.00 .

You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this, Bill Gates is the man. It’s all marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many people as possible. You are bound to get at least $10,000.00.

My brother’s girlfriend got in on this a few months ago When I went to visit him for the Baylor/UT game, she showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4, 324.44 and was stamped ‘Paid I n Full’.

I mentioned earlier, that this email contained 100s of email addresses in the forward list, and therein lies the reason behind this type of nonsense email – scammers harvest these email addresses just as if they were picking apples from a tree.

If we want to have at least some impact on the accelerating spam problem, we all need to stop responding to these useless e-mails. In addition to providing “food” for scammers, these emails eat up bandwidth and impact email servers negatively.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

15 Comments

Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Email, email scams, internet scams, Internet Security Alerts, spam, Windows Tips and Tools