Monday, March 31, 2008

Xoopit beta Invites

Here are links to articles by Techcrunch and GigaOM with links for Xoopit beta Invites. Let me know if the beta invites run out so that I can remove this post.

Xoopit Inbox 2.0 for Gmail

Xoopit lanuched there Inbox 2.0 interface to Gmail today. Currently you need an invite to be a part of this private beta. Xoopit is also working on interfaces to Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, AOL and .Mac. Once I have access into the beta I will pass on my first impressions and share any extra invites if they are generous enough to grant any to the initial beta testers.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Hidden Google Mobile Service Revealed

Google mobile "LCB" was uncovered by picking apart a publicly available file containing a list of all pages that crawlers shouldn’t be able to see. Essentially, LCB is an interesting move away from Google’s typical offerings.

net1492 says - If you want to give this a try here is the url -

read more | digg story

Court Ruling Denies EMI Access to Millions of Personal Files

A New York Judge has denied a request by EMI to force MP3tunes turn over all music files for its 125,000 users. For now, this means the contents of personal music Lockers will remain private. In court (EMI v MP3tunes), EMI demanded that MP3tunes provide copies of the more than 100 million songs in their subscribers' personal music Lockers.

net1492 says - This is good news otherwise EMI could go after consumers for storing music on any number of online backup services.

read more | digg story

Amazon takes on Apple with copy-protection-free music

Amazon's MP3 store - which sells only songs without copy protection - has quietly become No. 2 in digital sales since opening nearly six months ago.

net1492 says - Nice to see Apple getting some competition. Even better Amazon in general only charges $0.89 cents per song and there are additional savings on albums. Amazon music also has no DRM (i.e. copy protection which is the biggest reason I see to move to Amazon). Also Amazon has a deal going with Pepsi where you can buy music using Pepsi points.

read more | digg story

Friday, March 28, 2008

Apple Forbids Windows Users from Installing Safari

As spotted by our Italian friends at setteB.IT, Apple's Safari license says that users are permitted to install the browser on no more than "a single Apple-labeled computer at a time." This means that if you install Safari for Windows on a Windows PC, you're violating the license.

net1492 says - It looks like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing at Apple.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's the Browser not the OS anymore

After seeing a post on Safari for Windows at Because I said So and now this post on the AT&T Pogo browser at Techcrunch I started thinking. What is Apple thinking and especially AT&T what am I missing, why would these large Internet players want to get into the middle of the desktop browser wars. Well It's the Browser not the OS anymore, if you can own the browser which is where many of us live, you own the user for the near future. So what better way to do that then to have a browser that is as similar as possible on your desktop and your PDA/phone. Speaking of the PDA you have browser wars heating up there also. You have a private beta of the Skyfire browser for Windows Mobile and eventually Symbian, next is Firefox Mobile which is suppose to be out sometime this year. Then there is Opera which has a browser version for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows Mobile and many phones. But what about Microsoft and IE, IE for Mac had support discontinued in 2006 and Microsoft has never had a direct Linux version. But there is IEs 4 Linux which allows you to run IE5 through IE7 on Linux. So one question is will Microsoft sit around while Apple moves in on Windows with Safari or will Microsoft buy what it needs to fight on all fronts in this round of browser wars. The other question is what will Microsoft arch rival Google do, is Google working on developing a browser from scratch, that doesn't seem to be there style based on what I read. Instead after reading this article at Read WriteWeb about Google and Opera, you wonder if Google is now going after Opera or still working on Firefox or maybe Google buys both Opera and Firefox to keep them from Microsoft. Add it all up and this year looks to be very exciting in the browser world.

Let me know who else we should add to the scorecard I'm sure I have missed some of the players.

Driver Magician Free

If you haven't tried Giveaway of the Day, today would be a good time to give it a try. Today you can get Driver Magician for free, this program backups all your drivers and also checks for updates on all the various drivers on your system.

Now for a couple of words about how Giveaway of the Day works, you have to download and run the activate program before the end of the current day (so as of 2pm Central time here in the US you have 12 hrs in which to download and run the activate program). After running activate program you then have to install the program. Some of the Giveaway of the Day offers have you enter the license key manually so always check the readme file that is normally part of the download.

Let me know what you think about Driver Magician and Giveaway of the Day. My experience with Give away of the Day has been you see programs repeated so if you happen to miss something you really want keep checking it could come back in a few months. Also read the comments to see what the general opinion is about the current days download assuming it's even something your interested in. In addition what is really good about the comments is that many times someone will suggest another package that is as good or better than the current give away.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How used is that PC

Another thought crossed my mind as I'm considering picking up a used PC and that is how used is it. After you get past the general specs that are acceptable for the used PC you are looking to buy wouldn't it be nice to know what shape the system is in. Well the best idea I have been able to come up with so far is using anyone of a number of tools that check the S.M.A.R.T stats on the Hard Drive. In particular S.M.A.R.T. tracks the power on hours for a hard drive. So far HDDlife which has a free and Pro version fits the bill. Here is a sample of the information that HDDlife provides, it's particularly nice for the purpose of determining how used a PC is because it does the calculation of converting the S.M.A.R.T. attribute for power on hours into days, weeks, months and years.

In addition you can see that S.M.A.R.T. tracks a number of aspects on the hard drive and a tool like HDDlife can tell you about the overall health of the hard drive. So this doesn't answer everything you would like to know about how used a PC is but it gives you a decent idea. Now for a system you buy from a local reseller this works fine but I wonder if any of the online refurbished PC sellers would run this tool for you on the systems they have in stock.

In case you are wanting to learn more about S.M.A.R.T. the Wikipedia entry on this subject contains a lot of details. Also the Wikipedia entry has links to a number of other hard drive utilities for both PC's and Mac's that process S.M.A.R.T. attributes.

If you have other tools you use to check out used PC's or Mac's let me know. What has your experience been buying used systems? Do you have a favorite online reseller of refurbished systems and if so why? Maybe we could develop a previously owned certification process for systems. Please share your thoughts and ideas it would really help provide needed information for those who for whatever reason are considering buying a refurbished system.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting Windows XP before or after June 30

Here is a follow up from my post about Vista SP1 performance and in particular grabbing a copy of Windows XP so you can delay your move to Vista. So assuming your thinking about getting a copy of Windows XP before June 30 checkout this great article by Scott Dunn at WindowsSecrets from last week on various options and considerations when buying a new PC with XP or downgrading a new Vista PC to XP. In addition there is a follow up at WindowsSecrets this week which gives another option to extend your time for getting Windows XP beyond June 30 and that is buying a refurbished PC with a valid XP license. You may not be aware of this but many PC manufactures sell refurbished systems with warranties. Following are some links to sites with refurbished PC -

Dell - currently they only have Vista on there inventory of refurbished systems.
TigerDirect - lots of options here from a number of PC manufactures, check to make sure the system includes an OS since some of there systems come without.

You should also check the specs on these systems many of these are very low end by todays standards fine for email and browsing the Internet but obviously not up to running the latest PC games. Also if your thinking of transferring the XP license off of a refurbished system that can present a number of challenges especially for systems with OEM licenses. In the case of a Windows OEM license the licenses is tied to the motherboard and according to Microsoft can not be transferred. So if you want to have flexibility with your Windows license and the hardware you run it on then you need to get a retail/boxed version.

One last thought if a refurbished PC does fit your needs give yourself a pat on the back for helping the environment by recycling. On that same note when you do permanently retire a PC make sure you dispose of it properly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Verizon unlimited data plan beware

According to this article at CrunchGear the Verizon Unlimited Data Plan is not really unlimited. Evidently it is a 5GB plan and for each megabyte over 5GB you are charged $0.49. Since I'm not a Verizon data plan user at the moment I don't know how or if you can monitor your data usage. Hopefully you don't have to find out by getting a large overcharge for your usage on your bill should this happen.

On my wish list is an option from the wireless carriers to cutoff usage when you hit a predefined limit. This is really needed for SMS, Data usage and even voice minutes so you don't get that surprise when the monthly bills comes and you find out your kids have went over the SMS text message limit by $20, $30 and more. I know from experience as my my kids have done this a number of times. Maybe I should look into the prepaid plans more closely. You would think with all of the churn in the wireless market that the carriers could market usage capping as a way to show that they cared about there customers.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Save electricity with LocalCooling

LocalCooling is a free program from Uniblue I have been using for over a year and with the recent update to Version 2 it is now something I'm comfortable recommending (Uniblue got rid of the annoying beep LocalCooling made before blanking the screen). What the LocalCooling program provides is an easy way to adjust the energy saving options on your Windows XP or Vista PC.

In addition it tracks your savings and tells you how many trees or gallons of oil or kilowatt hours you have saved.

Then if you have multiple PC's and want to setup a free account LocalCooling will track the savings on all of your PC's.

If you will notice the savings do add up over time. So give it a try and save a few dollars and help the environment in the process. - Fight Global Warming From Your Desktop

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Intel Atom for PDAs and UMPCs

Andriod Guys picked up on the new Intel Atom processor which is targeted at the PDA and UMPC market and I like the thought about this chip being used in Android based high-end phones. To start with the Intel Atom comes with the Core 2 Duo instruction set so that should really open up the software possibilities. Next with clock speeds up to 1.8GHz this chip should blow away any of the current PDAs. Last based on the information in this article at Computer Active the power draw is 0.6 - 2.5 watts compared to the normal power draw of a standard Core 2 Duo notebook which is 35 watts. To put that further into prospective a PPC 6700 with a PXA270 @ 416MHz has a typical power draw of 0.57 watts. In addition the idle draw of the PXA270 @ 416MHz is 0.186 watts while the Atom is only 0.030 watts. Or you can compare to the new MacBook Air with its new Core 2 Duo which has a power draw of 20 watts according to AnandTech. So the Atom sure seems to have the potential to really open up the possibilities for PDAs and UMPCs and I can hardly wait to see Android based phones using the Atom chip.

If you want more details here is the link to Intel Atom information.

Monday, March 03, 2008

ICE (In Case of Emergency)

Here is a good idea that I saw over at IT-AID about putting emergency numbers in your cell phone. Basically the idea is if you happen to be in an accident or some other emergency put the numbers you want called into your cell phone as ICE, ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 as needed.

For additional information Wikipedia notes this idea was started by a British paramedic named Bob Brotchie in May 2005. I also found that someone is trying to make money by offering ICE Stickers to slap on your phone. If you want to hear the pros and cons of this idea here is the link to Snopes.