bing – Microsoft’s New Search Engine

May 30, 2009

Keep your eye out for “bing”. Bing is Microsoft’s NEW search engine that will replace Microsoft’s Live Search. Reportedly this strategy will help bring Microsoft in line with their main competitors (Yahoo and Google). Reports from Microsoft indicate that bing will be able to dig deeper and provide more relevant search results; PLUS, your search results will be presented dynamically in search categories, which is a different approach than what we are accustomed to. According to Microsoft, bing will be going live on June 3rd and will be phased in over the course of several days.  The official bing website is, bing.com.

To find out more about bing, and to watch a video demo of bing in action, click the “Find Out More” button below.

Bing & decide. Coming soon. Find out more...

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Installing Windows Vista Service Pack 2

May 30, 2009

If you are a Windows Vista user, you will be prompted within the next several weeks to download Service Pack 2 via the Windows Update Service. If you do not want to wait for the auto update to kick in, the standalone version of Service Pack 2 is available now for download. If you opt to download the standalone version you will need to determine if you have the x86 (32 bit edition) or the x64 (64 bit edition) version of Vista.

x86 Windows Vista x86 (32 bit) – [ GET IT HERE ]

x64 Windows Vista x64 (64 bit) – [ GET IT HERE ]

Brief Description

Service Pack 2, the latest service pack for both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, supports new types of hardware and emerging hardware standards, includes all of the updates that have been delivered since SP1, and simplifies deployment, for consumers, developers, and IT professionals. [ Source: Microsoft ]

Information about Service Pack 2

The installation process might take an hour or more. Therefore, if you are installing SP2 on a portable computer, make sure that you plug in the power cord.

During the installation, your computer will restart several times. Therefore, save your work, and exit all open programs before you begin.

After you install SP2, a sound device or some other hardware device may no longer work. If this behavior occurs, just install an updated driver for the device.

[ Source: Microsoft Help and Support ]

In addition to fixes, there are improvements that have been made:

Improved reliability and compatibility of non-Microsoft programs.

Additional hardware improvements, including support for Bluetooth wireless technology and improved Wi-Fi connection performance, after the computer resumes from sleep mode.

Improved indexing and searching capabilities.

Improved TV recording in Windows Media Center.

Reflected below is a clip from PC World where users that installed Service Pack 2 are reporting increases in free disk space…

1clipsm Windows Vista SP2: Readers Report Big Increases in Free Disk Space

Nick Mediati, PC World

May 29, 2009 8:16 pm

image

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 went final earlier this week, with numerous fixes and tweaks to improve performance, bolster security, and squash bugs. But some PC World readers are seeing another welcome change to SP2: a lot more free disk space.

In comments posted in our forums, several readers reported large increases in free hard disk space after installing Vista SP2. Mind you, I’m not talking about a gigabyte here or there; one reader claimed that installing Vista SP2 freed up a massive 40 GB chunk of disk space. Another reader said, “Wow! I didn’t notice that til now. I went from about 88GB free to 122GB free. That’s a significant change ‘under the hood,’ isn’t it?” And yet another reader gained back 130 GB of hard disk space. Wow.

[ Source: PCWorld ]

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Some great information for all levels of computer users…

May 30, 2009

One of my favorite weblogs to visit on a daily basis is “Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts”.  Recently Bill put up (2)-two articles (see below) that are great articles for anyone who owns and operates a computer. Bill has the ability to convey information to his readers in such a way that all levels of computer users walk away learning something. If you are new (or old) to computers, Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts is a good starting point to learn about  computers, technology, software and protecting yourself on the internet.

Computer and Internet Security – How Savvy Are You?

Bill Mullins' Weblog - Tech Thoughts

Old Computer? Think It’s Junk? – Give It One More Chance!

Bill Mullins' Weblog - Tech Thoughts

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TheWorld Browser – A different kind of web browser…

May 28, 2009

For those who may not know what a web browser is, it is simply a software application, such as Internet Explorer, that is specifically crafted for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the internet. Many computer users do not realize that there are other browser options out there, other than Internet Explorer; the most popular being Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera (to name a few).

Recently I have been on the hunt for a good portable version of a browser to run from my flash drive. I have tried and used extensively the portable versions of the most popular browsers such as Firefox, Opera, and Chrome; however, I found that after long periods of usage (from the flashdrive), the browsers would start to bog down and/or errors would start to develop.

Sometimes we get so locked into what is popular and forget that there are other options. It was at this point I starting looking outside that circle of “popular browsers” for something different. During that hunt, I tried and tested many (such as Avant, Maxthon, Browzar, QtWeb). I eventually came across a browser called “TheWorld Browser” that not only caught my eye, but has performed beautifully from my flash drive. As a matter of fact, the more I use it, the more I like it.

TheWorld Browser

TheWorld Browser is a “fast, safe and easy way to browse the web” that has features that many of the other browsers do not.  TheWorld Browser is dependent on the Internet Explorer engine, and is guaranteed to be 100% malware free.  This app is small in size (1.4 MB) and, in my opinion, is very fast to the draw…  If you are looking for an Internet Explorer replacement on your PC or a browser to carry with you on your flash drive, I say give this browser a try!

TheWorld Browser

Publisher’s Description

Multi-threaded frame.
TheWorld Browser version 2.0 is among the first multi-threaded frame browser in the world (the first is Internet Explorer 7.0), the multi-threaded window frame can prevent the web pages from freezing.

Intelligent Ad blocking + Blacklist filter.
TheWorld can block popup ad. and float ad. automatically.
TheWorld can block popups and float ads automatically. You can also use a blacklist to filter ads. The blacklist filter works from lower level of HTTP protocol, with regular expression so that you can filter out anything you want.

Web page mute.
TheWorld is the first browser that can disable a web page’s sound with one click.

Powerful Tools
Powerful Tools Built in tools like: Flash filter, unlock page script limited, zoom, Proxy quick switching, Auto complete, Quick media saver, Privacy guard, Mouse gestures, Custom hotkeys and Drag & drop support, make TheWorld one of the most powerful browsers around.

Safer.
TheWorld Browser has built-in safe guards that will protect you while surfing.

Built-in Download Manager.
Which consists of multi-thread download, resumable download, with intuitive download management.

Skins and plugins.
TheWorld Browser supports skins and plugins, we have hundreds of skins and plugins to customize the way you browse. TheWorld has native support for Internet Explorer’s plugins as well.

TheWorld Browser uses the Microsoft Internet Explorer engine and will run on Windows 98/me/2000/xp/Vista.

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Increase the area of your monitor screen by up to 20 times…

May 28, 2009

You are probably wondering, how is it possible to increase your monitor screen by up to 20 times.  It is possible with Dexpot…

Dexpot

Dexpot is a virtual desktop manager that can be configured to create up to 20 different virtual desktops. The advantage of this concept is that you can work more efficiently with simultaneously opened Windows on different desktops. I could not imagine using 20 separates desktops, but I recently started using Dexpot to manage up to 4 desktops on my PC.

Dexpot

The functionality of this app is amazing. Not only can you create independent desktops, you can configure each of those desktops to have their own independent wallpaper background, screensaver, icons, screen resolution, etc.  You can copy windows from one desktop to another and you can switch desktops via hotkeys, the tray icon, the special “Desktop Manager” or by using an automatic slideshow that automatically goes from one desktop to the other.  You can also select the “Desktop Preview” feature that will tile all of your desktops on your screen to give you an overall view of what’s happening on each desktop.  Another notable feature is the “Windows Catalogue” feature which when selected will tile the windows you have open on the desktop.

If you are a serious multi-tasker or a fan of virtual desktop managers, you surely do not want to pass this one up. Dexpot is FREE for non-commercial use, is available as a portable app, and will run on just about any Windows based platform ( Windows 95/98/ME and NT4/2000/XP/2003/Vista – incl. x64).

You can read more about Dexpot and download it from [ HERE ] .

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#12)

May 27, 2009

Geek Squeaks'

Geek Squeaks are articles, from the past week, that I have found especially enticing and interesting from the bloggers that are on the “What’s On My PC…” blogroll. I think you will find that the subject matter and content is on a level comparable to commercial publications. Furthermore, I encourage you to bookmark each of these sites to learn more about information technology.

Top 10 Free Tools to Boost Your PC – Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts

Find High Res Icons with Icon Finder – Teck-Line

Video Tutorial — How To Dual Boot Win7 – Tech-for Everyone

All In One Video Software – The Only Software You Need For Your Videos – Technize.com

Paragon Total Defrag 2009 Special Edition – Free – TTC Shelbyville

Google Tools and Your Blog / Website – Tux in the Midwest

New Gmail Feature: Google Translate Integration – AllThatsNew

How to Remove System Alert by Fast Antivirus 2009 – 411-Spyware.com

Overheating Prompts Acer Desktop Recall – AskBillFirst

Free SUPERAntiSpyware Pro Giveaway – Evilfantasy’s Blog

Guidelines For Solving PC Application Errors – Free PC Security

Opera Mini Speed Demo On Touch Pro With Windows Mobile 6.5 – Is You GEEKed Up

Windows Memory Diagnostic – Great Free Software Utilities

Turn Your Spare Thumb Drives Into Feature-Packed Giveaway Drives – Lifehacker

Chrome comes with better performance after 300 bugs fix – Piyadas World

Backstreet Browser – Plato on-line

Fixing Windows XP shutdown problems – Rarst.net

Make sure you pick a reputable security product – Spyware Biz

Trouble uninstalling AntiVirus – Sugarloaf Tech

Be sure to visit the “Launch Pad” at the sidebar of the blog. The “Launch Pad” is your launching point to over 150 top quality tech blogs and sites.

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Memorial Day fighting cybercrime…

May 26, 2009

I had a great Memorial Day, but I ended up at the end of the day fighting cybercrime… The cybercriminal in this case was “AntiMalware Pro”…

AntimalwarePro1

If you look at the above screenshot of AntiMalware Pro, the application appears very legitimate and professional in appearance. You may even think it is associated with the legitimate version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. It is everything but that… What you are actually seeing isuninvited, unexpected, illegitimate, non-professional, dishonest, misleading, deceiving, intimidating  masquerading, malicious, fraudulentthe work of the cybercriminal.

The sad part about this particular situation was that the user (on a Vista box) was doing everything right, in terms of maintaining layers of protection (i.e. firewall, antivirus, antispyware, WOT, etc…) and by practicing safe habits on the internet. It was an innocent click of the mouse on a link in an email or website, or a downloaded file, that initiated this whole malware event. The user described it as a “Tennessee tick that would not let go!”.

In this case, I found on the users’ PC that AntiMalware Pro (and a mixed bag of other trojan goodies) generated pop-ups, hijacked the browser, hijacked the desktop, changed the screen resolution, created a browser redirect to the AntiMalware Pro site, disabled the anti-virus software, and prevented access to legitimate security sites. Another issue I never experienced before was that I could not enter “Safe Mode via the F8 key”.  I ended up using the MSConfig GUI to force the PC into Safe Mode…

Manual removal of AntiMalware Pro would have been very time consuming; however, in this case SmitFraudFix and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, in combo, took this cybercriminal down and out.

The purpose of these rogue applications is to trick computer users’ into paying for the full version of the software by displaying false positives of malware infections and by totally causing havoc. First thing to remember; if an application such as this shows up uninvited, pull the plug on your internet connection and get help. Secondly, never purchase anything that you never asked to buy in the first place. Putting that credit card number out there under these circumstances will cause you more problems than you bargained for; besides purchasing malicious applications such as AntiMalware Pro will fix nothing. This whole malware process is about “taking” (your money and identity), not “giving”.

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Microsoft Office 2000 is retiring. Could it become a potential security risk?

May 24, 2009

You have heard it here and on other blogs associated with “What’s On My PC…”“Keep your software up-to-date!” (to protect yourself from potential security vulnerabilities or weaknesses). But, what do you do when the software maker stops supporting a specific product version? The common sense approach is to upgrade; however, in some cases where economics (cost to upgrade) becomes a factor, the user will stick with the version that has economically worked for them.  A good example of this scenario are the people still using Microsoft Office 2000.

Office2000

I really do not know what the number of actual users (or businesses) are, but if you are a Microsoft Office 2000 user, be warned that the lifecycle for Microsoft Office 2000 comes to an end on July 14, 2009. Microsoft initially retired “Mainstream Support” for Office 2000 in mid-2004; however, extended support (for critical updates, patches, and fixes) continue to be available until July 14, 2009.

To put this in perspective:

Office 2000 has been patched 15 times so far this year alone, 12 of which were labeled “critical,” Microsoft’s most serious threat ranking.

Just last week, Microsoft patched 10 bugs in PowerPoint 2000, the presentation maker in Office 2000.

[ Source: Computerworld ]

If you are connected to the internet (or any network for that matter) and are still using Office 2000, after July 14th, then you are at risk of being targeted for any future potential security vulnerabilities (i.e. hijacking).  In a sense, Microsoft Office 2000 will become a security vulnerability in itself and a potential avenue for bot infections, etc. It is advisable that you upgrade to a newer version of Microsoft Office, prior to July 14, 2009, to protect yourself and other users.

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Circuit City Re-Launched…

May 24, 2009

It is official; Circuit City is being re-launched. Systemax, Inc., known in tech circles for selling personal computers and technology related products, officially purchased the Circuit City brand and website on May 19, 2009. It will be interesting to see if any of the stores re-launch.

www.circuitcity.com

CircuitCity

www.systemax.com

Systemax

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An Overview of the Latest updates to Google Chrome

May 23, 2009

I have been testing the “beta” versions of Google’s web browser, Chrome, since its’ inception, approximately 8 months ago. Chrome is definitely a “watch and see” browser that just may end up being a top contender. The developers really seem to be listening to the requests of users by embedding additional requested features into the browser, with the main emphasis (at this point) being on speed (page loads). I can personally attest that I do notice a difference in Chrome’s startup and browser page loads, compared to the other browsers; AND, often find myself using it as a “go to” browser when I want to do nothing but surf the net. The one feature that users are screaming for (and it is coming) is browser “add-ons” or “extensions” similar to those in Firefox. Chrome is a browser that is specifically being crafted as the launching point for the cloud computing and cloud OS platforms.  I currently use Chrome on my PC with Firefox (my current favorite) and Internet Explorer.  Chrome is what I use as my default browser on my Acer Aspire One netbook.

You can preview the latest updates to Google Chrome by watching the short (less than 2 minutes video) or by visiting the Google Chrome Blog [ HERE ] .

Features recently included in the most recent “stable channel” release are:

Improved New Tab Page: The most requested feature from users was the ability to remove thumbnails from the New Tab page. Now you can finally hide that embarrassing gossip blog from the Most Visited section.

Full Screen Mode: If you’ve ever given a presentation or watched a large video using Google Chrome, you might have wished you could use every last pixel on your screen for the content. Now you can hide the title bar and the rest of the browser window by hitting F11 or selecting the option in the Tools menu.

Form Autofill: Filling out your information in forms over and over again can be tedious. Form autofill helps by showing information you’ve previously entered into the same form fields automatically. If at any point you want to clear out your information, that’s easy to do from the Tools menu.

Increased Stability: Google Chrome is more stable than ever–we have fixed over 300 bugs that caused crashes since launch.

Increased Speed: Making the web faster continues to be our main area of focus. Thanks to a new version of WebKit and an update to our JavaScript engine, V8, interactive web pages will run even faster. We’ve also made sure that JavaScript keeps running fast even when you have lots of tabs open. Try opening a bunch of web applications and then running your favorite benchmark. You can read more about V8 in our JavaScript scalability post on the Chromium blog.

[Source: Google Chrome Blog ]

Google Chrome
Download Chrome
Chrome Help
Chrome Help Forum
Chrome Releases
Chromium Blog
Google Chrome Blog

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Get better lighting for your computer…

May 22, 2009

I bet that many of my fellow tech bloggers spend a great deal of time at their PCs’, often working into the late hours researching for and writing  their next article… I know for myself I fly with the owls (as TechPaul at Tech-for Everyone states it). A lot of this has to do with the mind of the geek not shutting down; BUT, have you ever thought that your computer monitor may be playing a part in this and is actually keeping you up. Think about it, most everyone owns the big LCD monitors that are very bright and that brightness stays at the same level both day and night. At night, the level of brightness becomes even more radiant and glowing and can actually impact and stress your eyesight and cause headaches.

Some studies indicate blue light is beneficial during the day, but late at night it can negatively affect your sleep pattern.

Flux

There is a potential software solution, that I am trying, called F.lux. F.lux is a FREE software application that you install on your PC that makes the color temperature of your computer’s display automatically adjust and adapt to the time of day at your location. There is a feature built into the software that allows you to pinpoint your exact location down to the longitude and latitude. Once the location is entered, F.lux does the rest. In a sense, as stated on the F.lux web site “warm at night and like sunlight during the day”. The nice thing about this app is that you can manually adjust the color temperature to tweak it to the level you desire. You can even temporarily disable F.lux or exit F.lux and your color temperature will return to its’ normal settings. The night setting is the setting where you will initially notice that the display gives off a fleshy tone and you may not like it at first; BUT, with continued use it may make a difference in both your vision and health. I plan to give this app a try to see what differences, if any, it will make.

Flux

Flux

F.lux is available for XP/Vista and Mac OS X.
You can read more about F.lux and download it [ HERE ] .

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What’s starting on your PC?

May 21, 2009

Managing and/or viewing the programs, processes and services on your PC when the operating system is loaded (boots) can be a real challenge even for the seasoned user or tech. There are many apps out there that allow you to visualize and troubleshoot startup issues. The first app out of my toolbox, for this purpose is called “Starter”.  Starter, can be installed on your PC or installed on your flash drive as a portable app. In my instance, I prefer the portable app version so that I can take it from PC to PC.

The feature I like the most with Starter is that you can right click on any of the startup entries and perform an internet search to identify and determine the credibility of any of the entries (startup, processes & services). This is most useful when tracking down malware issues.

Starter

Starter allows one to view and manage all the programs that are starting automatically whenever the operating system is loaded. It enumerates all the hidden registry entries, startup folders´ items and some of the initialization files, so that the user can choose to temporarily disable selected entries, edit them, create new, or delete them permanently.

Secondary purpose is to list all the running processes with possibility to view extended process’ information (such as used DLLs, memory usage, thread count, priorities etc.), and to terminate selected process (even a Windows NT service, having enough access rights).  Another one is Windows’ services (and drivers) manager with some advanced features.

Other Features worth mentioning is that you can edit, disable, delete, and launch entries; as well as, determine the file properties of those entries.  You can even dig deeper to explore the actual file path and registry location of the entries.  With Starter you can export the entire registry or sections of the registry to analyze issues even further.  The “Help” selection on the file menu even provides external internet resources that you can go to for researching those more troublesome and complex problems.

This is one app that I highly recommend that you place on your flash drive; especially if you are someone that is called upon to help others with issues on their PC.  You can get Starter [ HERE ] .

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#11)

May 20, 2009

Geek Squeaks’ is a weekly lineup of articles written by the people (often referred to as “Geeks”) that are on my blogroll.  Listed below are my favorites from the past week.  You will not find a better selection of content than what is provided by these authors.

I encourage that you visit these blogs on a daily basis to learn more about the world of Information Technology.

Geek Squeaks'We Are Geeks – Is You GEEKED UP

Install Windows 7 on Almost Any Netbook – Lifehacker

FireShot – powerful free screen capturing and editing tool for blogger – Piyada’s World

ThreatFire Security Monitor – Free – Free PC Security

Pricelessware – annual list of best freeware – Rarst.net

Device Remover – Device Manager – EvilFantasy’s Blog

Panda USB Vaccine : Block Viruses Spreading Through USB Drives – SnakeBytez

ID Theft in the workplace, great article! – Spyware Biz

Freeware Archiving Programs – Confessions of a Freeware Junkie

Online Malware Scanners – An Extra Layer of Protection – Bill Mullins’ Weblog Tech Thoughts

Amazing Technology – Hubble Space Telescope – AskBillFirst

Video Tutorial — How To Dual Boot Win7 – Tech-for Everyone

How to Remove Secure Antivirus Pro – 411-Spyware.com

(New Addition)Easily Overclock Your System Including RAM, AGP And CPU – Technize.com

Wolfram Alpha: The Search Engine For Weather Geeks? – AllThatsNew

(New Addition)Promote Your Blog Articles With Tumblr – Teck-Line

Find Any Microsoft Error Code – TTC Shelbyville

If you enjoy visiting tech blogs, freeware and open source sites, I encourage you to visit (click on) the “Launch Pad” icon on the sidebar of the blog.  The “Launch Pad” features over 150 links to some great tech sites.  Thank you!

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Tips to making that call to Tech Support…

May 19, 2009

One of the most stressful experiences for any computer user is when they are at that “crisis” point with their PC and they need to contact Tech Support. Often home-based users will first go through the misery of trying to locate the tech support number, then have their patience tested by the array of telephone options before they actually get to talk to someone; and, then come to find that their tech support service is outsourced outside the country where native language accents can make communicating even that more difficult.

techhelp

Making that call to tech support requires planning and preparation. Follow these steps and your experience with tech support will be less stressful and you even may learn something along the way.

Many hardware issues are the result of loose cable connections and many issues in general are predominantly software and/or internet related.  Always rule these out first, prior to making that call.

Most computer manufacturers offer a one year warranty for free tech support calls (and on-site or mail-in service when need be). Make sure you are within the warranty window when making that call or you will be charged on a “per call” basis. If you are outside that warranty window, have that information clarified.  Most manufacturer’s tech support services already know how long you have owned the PC or other equipment you are calling about.

Write down the “Brand”, Brand Model”, “Model Number”, and “Serial Number” of the computer (or device) before placing that call. There is nothing more frustrating, especially after waiting to talk to someone, than having to crawl to the floor or move the computer on the desk  to find the numbers (using a flashlight and magnifying glass).

Whatever the problem you are experiencing, write down exactly what you are experiencing and/or the error codes you may be experiencing. This will make it much easier for you to explain (and read back) the situation to the tech.  Also, jot down any changes that may have occurred recently with the computer or device (e.g. installed software, uninstalled software, new device connected, etc…)

If at all possible, use a speakerphone or a portable phone that can be easily handled. Resolving the problem may require using both hands.

Clear your desk or work area so that you have room to move about. It is not uncommon for a Tech to ask you to remove a cover on a PC if it is a suspected hardware issue.

Have a pen and notepad available. The Tech may ask you to write down a phone number, web site address, provide an incident number, etc…

Be prepared for possibly long wait times; and, be prepared for the possibility of being on the phone for a long duration during the troubleshooting period with the tech.

After reaching a tech, ask them for a direct phone number to their site in the event the call is dropped.

If you are on a dial-up connection or are not connected to the internet, make sure you explain that first off. This information does have an impact on how the service tech can respond to your situation.

Be courteous and listen to the Tech… Handling tech support calls or help desk calls can be very stressful. Some of these techs handle numerous calls, one right after the other, with people who are literally in crisis mode and take their frustration out on the tech. This will absolutely get you nowhere…

At the end of your call with tech support, you will most likely be provided with an incident or event number.  It is important that you write down and keep that number in a safe place in the event you experience a reoccurrence of the problem.

As you can see there is considerable planning involved when making that tech support call.  If you have any further tips to provide, you are welcome to leave them in the comments section below.

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Video Tutorial Website Listing at TTC Shelbyville

May 17, 2009

All bloggers have their sites they visit on a daily basis and one of mine is the TTC Shelbyville – Technical Blog.  TTC Shelbyville is the Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville…  Their technical blog is used as a method of communications with their students.

TTC Shelbyville

The Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville offers a wide variety of programs to meet your needs. With a professional staff and professional curriculum these programs offer you the best opportunity to learn skills used in the workplace today.

As a self-taught, retired Information Technology Specialist, I was quite flattered to learn that the “What’s On My PC…” blog was on their blogroll.  This really made my day to see that a tech school was reading my material and that they had partnered with my blog.

Today, during a visit to their blog, I noticed that the blogmaster had compiled a very nice listing of “Video Tutorial Websites”.  I’m telling you folks, if there is something good out there, a blogger will find it.  I encourage you to visit the TTC Shelbyville – Technical Blog to see what they are up to and to check out the video tutorials.

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