Monitor the Weather from your Windows Desktop

June 30, 2009

Monitoring the weather from our computers is nothing new; HOWEVER, monitoring the weather from your Windows desktop, in “real-time” is a relatively new concept.  This concept has been captured by Mike Singer who is the author of Weather Watcher Live. Weather Watcher Live is a FREE customizable desktop weather station that will display (in a very attractive interface) your neighborhood weather conditions in real-time.  The weather stats that is displayed in Weather Watcher Live is from the WeatherBug weather stations, or as reported by the National Weather Service (NWS). I am sure you are thinking if there is WeatherBug then there are advertisements.  There are no advertisements, whatsoever, in Weather Watcher Live.

I have used Weather Watcher Live since its’ beginning; and the really cool feature I like about it is that it is very customizable and you can even configure it to display weather maps as your wallpaper background on your computer.  Any computer I have installed this on, the user sits back in awe.

[ Weather Watcher Live – Get It Here ]

Weather Watcher Live

WeatherWatcherLive

Description from the publisher:

Automatically retrieve the current conditions, hourly forecast, daily forecast, severe weather alerts fromNWS (US only), and weather maps for thousands of cities world-wide. The current conditions can be quickly viewed by holding your mouse pointer over the Weather Watcher Live system tray icon.

Weather Watcher Live will allow you to automatically retrieve your weather data at a set interval, display the current temperature in a customized tray icon, display the current condition image in a tray icon, designate which weather information is displayed in the Weather Watcher Live system tray tooltip, convert the weather data using almost any conversion, display a weather map as your desktop wallpaper, log the weather data in any format, export the weather data in any format, customize the look of the Weather Watcher Live interface and icons via skins, and much more.

Note: If you prefer not having the weather delivered to your desktop by Weatherbug, then checkout Weather Watcher.  Weather Watcher is the predecessor to Weather Watcher Live.  As a matter of fact, if you are on a dial-up connection, I recommend you use Weather Watcher.

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Batch Articles on Windows 7 Pricing

June 29, 2009

dollar signHere is what we all have been waiting for.  HOW MUCH?  Windows 7 is the upcoming version of Microsoft Windows. It is slated for release on October 22, 2009.  How much is it going to cost?

To answer that question, I have provided several credible sources for you to read to get related information (and thoughts) on the pricing. I encourage you to read the comments posted on these sites.

If you desire, please leave me your comments (rants or raves) and thoughts on the pricing. Windows 7 is being touted as the best Windows operating system ever; but will we be paying too much?

Windows 7 Pricing
(by Tech-for Everyone)

Windows 7 Discount, Available for a Limited Time
(by Tux In The Midwest)

Windows 7 pricing announced: cheaper than Vista (Updated)
(by ars technica)

Windows 7 Pre-Order Offer
(by Microsoft)

Windows 7 Pricing: How Much Lower?
(by InformationWeek)

Windows 7 Pricing: Good News, Mostly
(by Gizmodo)

Microsoft to charge Europeans double for Windows 7
(by Computerworld)

Windows 7 pre-orders grab Amazon’s top sales spots
(by Computerworld)

Analyst: $120 for Windows 7 ‘way too much’
(by Computerworld)

Windows 7 Upgrade No Deal for Many Businesses
(by
PCWorld)

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The Ultimate Clock for your Windows Desktop

June 28, 2009

Here is a neat little application called “Clock”… It is what it is!  This app is an analog clock that you install on your PC that has a vast array of features and options. Once installed an analog clock will appear on your desktop (second hand and all) and  an icon will show in the taskbars’s system tray (at the bottom right corner of your screen). You can “right” mouse click on that icon to customize and change the appearance of your clock (see below). I normally select “On Top” and “Transparent – click thru” so that the clock is always visible. There is also a calendar feature and a feature to set alarms (for reminders).

You have option to change the appearance of the clock by selecting from 50 different themes OR you can design your own clock theme. “Clock” has been my favorite in the clock software category and best of all it is FREE. From what I can tell, Clock does not mess with the registry; therefore you could copy it to your flash drive and use it as a portable app (as I have done).

ClockClockClock

Features as described by the publisher:

Beautful! You’ll love the 50 themes provided!

Smart! It remembers your appointments!

Easy! You don’t need a degree in computer science to use it!

On Top! If you like, it will always be displayed, no matter how many windows you have open!

Customizable! Change the background picture to anything you like!

Unintrusive! Make it the size you like: choose between four pre-defined sizes or size it like you want!

Serious! Clock will not mess with your system registry!

Small! It’s only a 1Mb download!

Free! It costs nothing!

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An Example of How CyberCrooks Will Use Michael Jackson

June 27, 2009

1clipsm A “What’s On My PC… Web  Clip!

Michael Jackson spam spreads, malware attacks likely

Star’s death brings crooks out of the woodwork, expect scam deluge, says Sophos

June 26, 2009 –By Greg Keizer

Computerworld – Within hours of the death of pop star Michael Jackson, spam trading on his demise hit in-boxes, a security firm said today as it warned that more junk mail was in the offing.

Just eight hours after news broke about Jackson, Abingdon, England-based Sophos PLC started tracking the first wave of Jackson spam, which used a subject line of “Confidential — Michael Jackson.” The spam wasn’t pitching a product or leading users to a phishing or malware Web site. Instead it was trying to dupe users into replying to the message in order to collect e-mail addresses and verify them as legitimate.

[ Source: Computerworld ]

Computerworld

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Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats

June 26, 2009

Microsoft OfficeThe flavors of Microsoft Office, from the beginning of this century, thus far, for the Windows operating system, has been Office 2000, Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2007. There are also versions available for the Apple Macintosh operating system. The Microsoft Office software suite is a packaged deal of applications that are interrelated (or interconnected) to work seamlessly with each other; AND is the most popular (commonly used) worldwide software standard adopted by businesses, government agencies and educational institutions alike.  Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access are the most commonly known (and used) applications in the Microsoft Office suite.

Hair PullingAs with any software that continually evolves, new features and options are added to make the software better; HOWEVER, these changes may not be backwards compatible to the previous versions. As a result, we end up pulling our hair out…

The most recent example of this is with the Office 2007 suite. The Office 2007 Suite has adopted an Open XML-based file format that cannot be read by the previous versions of Microsoft Office (such as Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003). If you have Office 2007 and you save a file in Word, Excel or Powerpoint, it will (by default) save to the Open XML-base file format. As a result, previous versions of Microsoft Office (such as Office 2000, XP and 2003) cannot open the document. You can change the Office 2007 defaults to prevent backward compatibility issues; however, it is apparent that it is Microsoft’s vision to push this new file format and for good reason(s).  The Office XML Formats are designed to be more robust than the binary formats; and, therefore, helps reduce the risk of lost information due to damaged or corrupted files. If you are interested in reading the full scoop on the XML-base file format [ click here ] .

The introduction of the new file format is truly a good experience and will ultimately be of great benefit; HOWEVER, I have already experienced and seen problems where the people (including businesses, government agencies, educational institutions) are not adopting the file format standard and it is causing cross platform compatibility issues between Office 2007 and the previous versions of Microsoft Office. What this means is that the people, including the IT people, are not aware and educated about the new file format standard. For example, prior to my retirement, I worked at a government agency in IT.  I would not be adopting this file format standard until the top level IT managers in the government issued a statement about using the new standard and how to make the transition.

If you are using a mixed bag of Microsoft Office Suites (such as 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007) and are planning to adopt the Office XML file format in Office 2007, there is a solution to the compatibility issues.  Microsoft provides a downloadable compatibility pack that you install on your PC that will allow the previous versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint to open, edit and save XML files.  (Note:  If you are using Microsoft Office 2000, I strongly discourage future usage of that package – [ READ THIS ARTICLE ] .)

You can get the “Compatibility Pack” [ HERE ] ; however, I suggest you read the information provided and you consult with your IT Administrator before installing any software, such as this, at your workplace.

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A FREE Unit Conversion Utility for your Flash Drive

June 25, 2009

Converting from one standardize unit of measure to another can be a challenging task for any of us; especially if we have to do it on paper. Various conversion factors and formulas have to be applied between the different units of measure in order to get a result for the same quantity.

When I find myself trying to determine units of measure I have come to rely on ESBUnitConv. ESBUnitConv covers 564 Units in 21 different measurement categories and does the calculations for you. It is FREE and is available, not only as a normal software install on your PC, but as a portable app  that can be toted around on your flash drive.

ESBUnitConv is a Free User-friendly Windows Utility to easily convert between units of measurement. Includes Units for Temperature, Distance, Mass, Area, Volume, Pressure, Velocity, Acceleration, Force, Energy, Power, Fuel Consumption, Flow, Torque, Angles, Luminous Intensity, Illumination, Time, Quantity & Radioactivity.

ESBUnitConv

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Geek Squeaks of the Week (#16)

June 24, 2009

If you are new (or old) to information technology and computers; these (featured) articles on “What’s On My PC…” are for you. The articles are by authors who spend a great deal of their time putting the articles together (for FREE) to keep you and me abreast of the latest in computers, software, security and information technology. The articles are in no particular order or ranking and are randomly selected from my blogroll community.

GeekSqueaks

AKS-Feel The Change
Another Major Web Threat :
Nine-Ball Compromises More Than 40,000 Legitimate Websites

Tux In The Midwest
Microsoft Enters the Free Anti-Malware Arena

AllThatsNew
Google Taking A Leap Forward By Identifying Landmarks

TTC Shelbyville
Fixing a Computer with A and W Root Beer

411-Spyware.com
How to Remove ErrorFix

Tech~Line
Failure Friday is now open for viewing

AskBillFirst
Disposable Email Address – What Is It Good For?

Technize.com
Analyze And Fix Vulnerabilities In Your System

Carol’s Vault
Increase bandwidth for networks and internet connections

Tech-for Everyone
Top Ten Internet Safety Tips for Children

Confessions of a Freeware Junkie
Announcement: Spiceworks 4.0 is out!

Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts
Best Spam Story Ever! Thanks Pastor Mike

Crazy World of G
Google Voice Tomorrow?

Sugarloaf Tech
Vista – Launching Games is Slow

Is You GEEKed Up
Secunia PSI – Great Utility
to Quickly Get Software Update Notification

Spyware Biz
Microsoft introduces Morro

Lifehacker
The Credit Scores You Don’t Get to See

Snakebytez
Anti-Malware Toolkit

Piyadas World
4 Tools to add a start menu on USB flash drives

Plato on-line
The ‘Computer Terrorist’

Rarst.net
Forget the right ways to do things

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Will Vista be dead in the water?

June 22, 2009

A tech thought for the day…

Thinking

With the upcoming final release of Windows 7, which the tech world has been singing nothing but praises; what will the future of Windows Vista be?

Microsoft actually will be supporting Vista up to 2012; however, will Vista licenses be available after Windows 7? I have read that Windows 7 users will be able to downgrade to Vista if they are not satisfied with Windows 7, but who will want to do that?

I think the transition to Windows 7 for many will be smoother due to many businesses not opting to convert to Vista, in the first place, and remaining with Windows XP; AND, due to many home users being satisfied with running Windows XP. Keep in mind many people (and small businesses) who finally did get into computers did so during the XP era and have never really experienced another operating system. People do not like change; especially when it is expensive.  I do believe this has been a big factor in why XP has been mainstream for so long.

In my opinion, Vista was way ahead of the technology curve at the time of release, people (and hardware) were not ready for it and it did in fact have some bugginess to it; however, subsequent releases of Service Packs stabilized the OS and the hardware has been forced to catch up.  It is really not a bad operating system; however, sometimes it takes a “Vista” to make it all end up being a good thing after all.  Who knows, Vista may have been the alpha version of Windows 7 : )  I just hope Microsoft gives us Vista users an upgrade break in the end…

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Test Your Internet Connection Speed

June 21, 2009

If you are connected to the internet then you have purchased a plan through an internet service provider. Most residential plans are dial-up, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), Cable or Satellite. Many people when purchasing a plan through an internet service provider often do not realize or understand that they are purchasing bandwidth (the transmission speed or throughput of your connection to the Internet). Most providers offer faster download (downstream) speeds than upload (upstream) speeds. So, how do you know what your throughput is?

There are many sites and options available on the internet to test or troubleshoot your throughput or speed. The site that I use on a regular basis is  “Speakeasy – Speed Test”. Simply visit the site, click on a server, and sit back while the test runs.

Speakeasy - Speed Test

The “Download” test will run first, followed by the “Upload” test. The “Download” test measures  how fast your connection delivers content to your computer or local area network AND the “Upload” test measures how fast content is delivered from your computer or local area network to others on the Internet. If you are a business or someone that is a power broadband subscriber, the download and upload speeds should be very close to being the same. These types of tests can be used to troubleshoot your internet connection and to determine if you are getting what you are paying for.  The site also posts your current IP Address.

For your convenience, I have posted a “Speakeasy – Speed Test” banner on the sidebar of the blog that will allow you to test your internet connectivity speed anytime you are visiting.

Speakeasy Speed Test

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Browser Speed Comparison Test

June 20, 2009

We all want faster, safer, and reliable… Checkout the browser speed comparison test at PCGames Hardware. The tests they ran focused on pure speed. You can even run the same tests at Sunspider, Futuremark Peacekeeper, and Acid.

1clipsm“What’s On My PC…” Web Clip!

Internet browser tested
with Peacekeeper, Sunspider and Acid

Big browser comparison test: Internet Explorer vs. Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome

June 19, 2009 – by Link, Riemann

PC Games Hardware tested the speed of the internet browsers Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8, Mozilla Firefox 2.0, 3.0.11 and 3.5b99, Opera 9.6 and 10, Safari 3.1.1 and 4.0, Chrome 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 with the benchmarks Peacekeeper and Sunspider and checked them with the Acid tests as well.

PCGames Test

[ Source: PCGames Hardware ]

PCGames Hardware

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Great Review of FREE Screen Capture Tools

June 19, 2009

Some things just should not go unrecognized. Arafat Hossain Piyada, a young tech-blogger from Kolkata, India; who is the blogmaster of Piyada’s World has put together a nice comparison review of 14 FREE Screen Capture Utilities (with Editor Tools) that you need to take a look at.  A lot of work and testing went into compiling this list.

1clipsm“What’s On My PC…” Web Clip!

14 Free powerful
Screen Capture with Editor tools

June 18, 2009 -By Piyada’s World

Screen Capture

Well, it’s true all blogger use this tool so as developer but regular user are not far behind. We all need to capture screen every now and then. I know there is a build in key named PrintScrn which help you to capture image but you need to do manual work to adjust it to fit your need. What a waste of time? More importantly default MS Paint is not enough as a image editor, specially for developer and blogger. So I make this listening to help every type of community.

[ Source: Piyada’s World ]

Piyadas

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Technology has arrived in the bathroom…

June 18, 2009

I will let you be the judge on this revolutionary new product called “Comfort Wipe”… It is a for real product and just may end up being another portable app in your tech toolbox… To get a real feel for this product I encourage you to watch the demo video. Price is not bad either!🙂

Comfort Wipe

For over a hundred years we’ve been using toilet tissues the same old way. Now there’s a better way with the extended reach and comfortable to use Comfort Wipe™. It grabs and holds the toilet tissue in perfect postions so you can easily wipe yourself. When you’re done, just dispense the soiled tissue right in the toilet with the press of a button. Comfort Wipe™ extends your reach a full 18″ while the anotomical design follows the contours of your body for perfect cleaning. It’s perfect for everyone, especially if you have trouble easily reaching because of physical limitations such as bad shoulder or other mobility litimations. Now you’ll never have to touch a dirty toilet tissue!

www.comfortwipe.com

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A FREE and PORTABLE alternative to Microsoft Windows Explorer

June 18, 2009

Today I am going to show you an alternative application to using the Windows Explorer file manager, called FreeCommander, that lets you quickly and easily manage your files. Before I do that, I know that there are users out there that may not know what the Windows Explorer file manager is.

Windows Explorer is a file manager application that is included with releases of the Microsoft Windows operating system from Windows 95 onwards. It provides a graphical user interface for accessing the file systems. It is also the component of the operating system that presents the user interface on the monitor and enables the user to control the computer. It is sometimes referred to as the Windows Shell, or simply “Explorer”.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

Windows Explorer is an OK file manager; however, anyone that has ever used a true file manager knows that Windows Explorer is lacking in many areas. The powerhouse file managers of the past, often called “Orthodox” file managers, featured 2 pane windows and a command-line that allowed the user to perform numerous file management tasks with ease.

FreeCommander

FreeCommander, a modern version to the orthodox file manager type, is one of those powerhouse file managers that can be installed on your PC or run from your flash drive. I currently have FreeCommander installed on my flash drive and use it when I am working on other PC’s. It is one of those apps that once you start using it you can’t put it down.

FreeCommander

There are too many features to mention in this article, but The main features to FreeCommander are:

Dual-panel technology - horizontal and vertical

Tabbed interface

Optional tree view for each panel

Built in file viewer to view files in hex, binary, text or image format

File viewer inside archives too

Built in archive handling: ZIP (read, write), CAB (read, write), RAR (read)

Nested archive handling

Built in FTP client

Easy access to system folders, control panel, desktop and start menu

Copy, move, delete, rename files and folders

Multi rename tool

Wipe files

Create and verify MD5 checksums

File splitting

File properties and context menu

Calculation of folder size

Folder comparison / synchronization

Modification of file date and attributes

Folder / program favorites

File searching (inside archive too)

File filters for display

User defined columns for detailed view

DOS command line

Multiple language support

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#15)

June 17, 2009

Here we go again… Another GREAT round of tech articles provided by the blogroll community featured on “What’s On My PC…”. I think you find that the articles these authors carefully create on their blogs provide a vast array of tech information that’s suitable for all audience levels.

GeekSqueaks

How Risky is Peer to Peer (P2P) File Sharing?

———-

Bill Mullins’ Weblog –
Tech Thoughts
Save money on your next computer purchase

———-

Sugarloaf Tech
Create a Quick Launch for USB “Safely Remove”

———-

Tech-for Everyone
Some search words are security risks

———-

Spyware Biz
Find Detailed System Information In Windows

———-

Technize.com
Free Video Cutter

———-

SnakeBytez
Teck~Line Now Has a Members Only Forum

———-

Teck~Line
Opera Unite – are browsers out of feature ideas?

———-

Rarst.net
Are you breaking the law with your Wireless Network?

———-

TTC Shelbyville
Zettabyte and 10 Billion DVD’s

———-

Plato on-line
What Kind of Tech User are You?

———-

Tux in the Midwest
View Expert Exchange solution free

———-

Piyada’s World
Firefox 3.5 Upgrades to Release Candidate for Beta Testers

———-

Lifehacker
Day 5 After Palm Pre Release – Over 1700 Apps Available

———-

Is You GEEKed Up
Common Blue Screen Errors and Their Meanings

———-

Free PC Security
Improve the lifetime of memory cards

———-

Evilfantasy’s Blog
Podcasts on your BlackBerry or iPhone: Stitcher

———-

Confessions of a Freeware Junkie
IBM Lotus Symphony 1.3 Released

———-

Carputer’s
To-Do Lists from Mind Tools – Learn how to plan your time intelligently

———-

Carol’s Vault
Windows Updates-Revisited

———-

AskBillFirst
How to Remove Protection System

———-

411-Spyware.com
Opera Unite Redefines The Web Browser

———-

AllThatsNew
EarthLink Protection Control Center Powered By Kaspersky FREE

———-

AKS – Feel The Change

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Backing Up the Windows Registry

June 16, 2009

Did you know that Windows depends on a “database” to function? It is called the “Windows Registry…” I call it the “heart and soul” to the Windows Operation System. Mess with it and the whole house will come down and the operating system will crash. The registry (database) contains the information and settings for all of the hardware, software, users and preferences on your PC once your PC boots into the Windows environment. When you install software or make a hardware change to your computer, the settings (or preferences) are automatically written to the registry.

The registry has been a good thing; BUT, it is also an avenue for trouble. Often when malware infiltrates or damages a computer system (without your consent) it will register (or write) itself into the registry to cause harm and ultimately take over your computer. The registry can also be edited  or modified by the computer user using the “regedit.exe” command which in itself can spell trouble if you do not know what your are doing. I have actually seen people tremble and decline from making edits to the registry, knowing that one error can cause havoc. Really though, a good tech knows that making registry edits comes with the territory and is no big deal; especially when you know how to backup and restore the registry.

A really great utility to automatically backup (and restore) the registry on your computer is called “ERUNT” (Emergency Recovery Utility NT). I am a tester of software and prior to testing any software application on my system I will use ERUNT to make a backup of the registry. I have come to depend on ERUNT more so than the Windows restore (rollback) function. In the event the software I am testing does not set well with my computer, I will use ERUNT to restore the registry (and ultimately my computer) to its’ original state, prior to the software install. I also include ERUNT in my weekly backup routines of my computer. ERUNT has been around for years and is avalaible as a full install or portable application. There is nothing attractive (in appearance) with ERUNT, but it is one of those “save your butt” utilities that should have been built into the Windows operating system.

[ GET IT HERE ]

ERUNT

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