Software

LapLink – 30 years and still creating great products!

And they have a laptop giveaway promotion to celebrate!

I first used LapLink itself (it was their only product back then) in late in 1992. I had a Mac IIcx, and a soon to be 3 co-worker had spent a year creating a document d integrated graphics for the previous year. They had done the work on a Mac II using MacWrite and when the hard copy was shown to their boss, he said “put it WordPrefect and send it out to everyone!”

It was an amazing document, with the flow charts right with the descriptions (I know, old news now)…but they didn’t know what they were going to do. They sat down with a person in their company, with a Masters in Computer Science and were told they couldn’t convert the file….it was incompatible.

Thay next solicited the advice of an organization who were the local experts for small computer use (who actually turned out their newsletters using a Mac, and were once more told “incompatible.

As they told of their journey to find a way to save three man years of effort, I asked them to bring in the 3.5″ floppy the next morning early.

We arrived as planned. I had brought my Mac iicx in. 13″ monitor and all, and plugged in the floppy. In the left column, I selected “MacWrite” in the right column, I selected “WordPerfect.’ Clicked the start/continue button and we sat there for 20 minutes discussing the upcoming reorganization. The floppy popped out and I handed it to them, saying “here you are, but remember, it’s incompatible (with a smile)!” Just to check, I told them, go try it in my 386 (with Windows 3.1 and WordPrefect.

They did and they gasped when it all came up on the screen as they scrolled through page after page after page of they work, all properly formatted….They looked in astonshiment and said “how did you do that?” I told them I couldn’t have, the experts said it couldn’t be done,

Most recently I moved my entire software setup from one system to my new build using PCMover. Worked like a charm! Considering the hundreds of programs I use/have tested/keep around for a rainy day in my industry, the 8 hour investment (I let it work over night as I slept!) was well worth the cost of the software. Only a few serial numbers had to be reentered.

LapLink: They solve real world problems, now for 30 years!

Windows 8 Adventures: You are now leaving the Mac Zone….or are you?

You can download and install a 90 day trial of Windows 8 (the “RTM” version).

My recommendation? Do this is you have a spare, reasonably new computer around. Do not do this to a working system! You can…but when the 90 days are up, you have to either go back and reinstall Windows XP/Vista/7 all over again, or buy Windows 8 and….reinstall Windows 8 from scratch.

If you do put it on a system with Windows 7 (or the earlier beta test versions of Windows 8), it will bring your data and programs forward, as an install option, but that’s where it ends…at the 90 days from the install date day, hence my recommendation for not putting it on a working system.

Windows 8 somewhat leaves the windowed world brought to us, actually by Xerox, but functionally by Apple in the form of the MacOS with the graphical user interface and the “pointing device.”

In this way, it looks different, so you could think that Microsoft really has broken away from Apples “look and feel” and actually been innovative. Nope…for those who have used and iPad/iPod/iPhone…Microsoft really has only made their version of that interface: Not as colorful, and instead of “apps,” we now have “tiles,” meaning lots of rectangles.

So, at the end of the day, Microsoft is merely following the crowd into the tablet interface world, and like Apple, moving that small, closely held (to the person, I mean physically) touch interface look and fell back to the desktops. In the MacOS world, the trend is to incorporate more and more of the iOS features to their iMacs already. Again, Microsoft just following the crowd.

I saw a comment in Twitter yesterday regarding people complaining about the changes for the user’s view in Windows 8, and it was something like “This isn’t 1995 anymore!” Granted, it isn’t, but actually, they would have been more correct to use the date of 1984, but I digress.

I spent some time in the “tile” of Internet Explorer in Windows 8, which takes you to IE10 (the latest version for Windows 7 is IE9) and it is different. I have come to appreciate tabs in my browsers, first finding them in FireFox years ago, meaning I can have many things open and know where they are. In IE10, you have to move your cursor to the top of the screen and right click to get thumbnails of the open tabs, meaning not even a hint of what’s available is constantly displayed, as you do lengthy searches and reading on topics. You have to now keep going up and looking. Yes, the tabs are just like a set of file folders neatly arranged from the dead tree days, but…guess what? It’s a fast system.

I’ll keep working around on my 90 day trial and provide commentary, hopefully providing a smooth transition to the Windows 8 world, without you having to do so much homework.

For now, unless you have lots of time on your hands to poke around and figure out all those new buttons/features and other changes, stick with what you have. Right now, there won’t be too many people you can ask for help if you get lost/can’t find what you need, so my recommendation is don’t go there yet.

Windows 8, Microsoft Surface and a Big Touch Screen Monitor – I’m Living Bill Gate’s Dream!


Click the picture for a bigger version!

Well, maybe it’s Steve Ballmer’s dream now, but that’s in the details.

Microsoft announced the Surface two days ago. Yesterday, on my current build, I put the Windows 8 Consumer Preview operating system on an i5-2300 with 16GBs of RAM, attached to a Dell SX2201T touch screen (multi-point) monitor, which also has a microphone and a webcam built in to interface to the main tower with a USB cord.
So, what have I done? I basically built myself a non-portable, and maybe not as water/shock proof desktop Microsoft Surface.

I have my “tiles” (get used to talking about them instead of “apps,” and an ability to tap and run the different programs. I’ll admit, having had the Windows 8 on a netbook for about 6 months, my fingers can’t get to those discrete sensors in the extreme lower left and right of the screen to activate the Start Screen and the access to the Settings.

But….I don’t mind that much, as I can get the experience of having a desktop like many will be using in the fixed desk settings of business and large corporations, without the expense of a Microsoft Surface, which isn’t on the store shelves until about the time Windows 8 comes out, in the second half of the year….Hey! We’re almost there!

I will be installing the full set of applications I have been running on a Windows 7 Ultimate Q9650 *GB computer for the last two years, and see just how things compare.

More later on adventures in the almost future!

Understanding Your Digital Landscape Seminar 11/16/2010

From the flyer, regarding the Seminar I’ll be conducting to help business owners, who are not technically enabled, to better understand what makes their business function:

Understanding the Digital Landscape

What is it?
How do you find it?
How do you use it effectively?

Computers save us time in everything from information storage and retrieval, calculation, graphic design, and report preparation. E-commerce allows our websites to keep our businesses running 24/7.

A failure at any point, from our office records to our online presence, can quickly snowball into a technological disaster, especially for a small business that doesn’t have an IT (information technology) staff in-house.

Seminar leader Curt Middlebrook, The Computer Whisperer, provides insights into the equipment, computer programs, and office and internet support services out there, and the people who provide them. You’ll learn how to maximize your online efficiency, and how to track the success of your online marketing.
This is a Lunch & Learn program, part of the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce Success in Business Series. Your registration includes detailed information for evaluating every aspect of your company’s digital landscape, as well as a light lunch.

When : Tuesday, November 16; 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Where : Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, Room 202

Cost : $19.95 Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber Members
$24.95 Non-members

Call Chamber Manager Larry Steinlauf at 544-4777 to register.
You must be registered to attend.

Soldier’s Angels VALOur-IT Fund Drive 2010

Technology moves ahead in unpredictable ways, sometimes.

History lesson below, for the interested. For those who are ready and need to donate and move on: Click here.

If you’re looking to help an old Sailor out, then “push” the button for Navy. Know this: It all goes into the same pot, but, the need to poke at our fellow military members doesn’t go away easily, so…resist the urge to help any service team other than Navy…..

Now to some background:

Barely 5 years ago, a “MilBlogger,” and Army Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss, ended up on the wrong end of an IED when on patrol in Iraq and subsequently in Walter Reed Medical Center. Having been a fairly active poster, when a Soldier’s Angels representative asked if he needed anything, he asked for a laptop so he could blog from the hospital, since he’d be there a while. They bought one off of eBay.

He had injuries to both arms, leaving him with one in a cast, and the other in a halo. Typing, as you may surmise, was pretty tough. He posted indicating he sure could use some help…maybe so he could talk to his computer.

Some people helped him out getting Dragon Naturally Speaking. As a result, Chuck’s Blog came back to life.

As a result of that, the idea that this mashup of existing tech would be able to help others. The conception of the idea came from one of Chuck’s reader’s, Beth (FuzzyBear Lioness in the comments section), who thought if it worked for Chuck, who else might it help?

So, the first use of the Project’s Name happened 8/18/2005.

Now we are but 5 years and a few months later, over $600K collected, about 50 bloggers on the teams, and begging for air time on the big websites (and getting some!), with close to 6000 laptops delivered. They are new. They are good ones, and they are provided at the Major military medical facilities, and, they can be requested, if someone has slipped by the system unnoticed.

I believe it was last year, they added the purchasing and providing of Nintendo Wiis, which has helped with physcial therapy for the injured warriors. GPS units are now also provided to those who are getting out and about, to compensate for the short term memory loss issues as a result of TBI and severe PTSD injuries.

The “gateway” to the many pages of information and the project blog is here.

One particularly descriptive post titled “Laptops Save Lives?!” has the words of the real “end users” of the charity of the donors of this work. It may be from 2007, but the truth is right there. This is a great project, which really “gives back” to those who entered the services and gave much of themselves.

Besides just the close to the problem connection, from a problem solving standpoint, I see this as a job training program for the majority of these wounded troops, as they will be medically retired/discharged. If they have used a computer to get and stay in contact with their families, friends and “Battle Buddies,” they sure will be able to draft up a business letter, surf the net to do research and learn to crunch numbers with Excel for the employer who wants a person who looks forward into life and works to achieve their potential.

I could go on for many pages, having personally met Chuck and Beth, and Patti, the Founder of Soldier’s Angels via these campaigns over the 5 years. The stories are real, the ideas amazing, and the unselfish acts to take an idea from one person to many is a lesson in building relationships.

Once more: Donate here to Team Navy!

learn more

LimeWire is Dead…

Thankfully. I know a lot of people liked it, as they could avoid, not only paying retail for music and movies, but not pay anything at all….until some of them had to call me, because their computers were so zapped by malware/spyware/scareware/ransomware from embedded “payloads.”

In one case it wasn’t pretty at all, with me spending three evening trying to save their family photos.

The “bad guys” figured out how to insert viruses and Trojans in the “free” files, on that peer-to-peer sharing network. Not all of them, but it certainly was a crap shoot when you tried to pick a torrent to pull down for your entertainment.

Anyhow, the full report from TechCrunch is here.

Is Your eMail Connecting you to Your Brand?

Question: What is the domain of your email you hand out for business?

Another: Is it the same as your website?

One more: If not, why not?

Don’t risk leaving your contacts out in the cold…actually, leaving you out of the loop if you need to switch your home internet service provider (ISP). If you’re not using an email that is part of the website for your business, you risk getting lost, or, at the least, not looking as professional as you might, when you show up to network with a Hotmail/GMail/Yahoo mail account.

The advantages of having your email associated with your own domain are many. The disadvantages of not doing this are also many. Which many do you choose, as having a domain based email wipes about about all the disadvantages or not having it that way.

In most all cases, you have at least a few, if not way too many email accounts you can set up as a function of the cost of your hosting service for your domain name and website package. You should check into that. If it’s not easy to figure it out, call the person who set up your website and ask them to configure an email for you.

You don’t have to even have Microsoft Outlook to get access to this type of service. Again, in all likelyhood, you have free email client software on your machine, or you can get something like ThunderBird to use.

So, avoid being disconnected from your suppliers, prospects and clients by merging your communications with your website!

Android – To the Rescue!

Google, that monstrosity, is sweeping the market.

While iPhone 4 is amazing, the Android phone OS is a juggernaut. I was looking to see if an app, like one I saw on an iPhone was in the Android market, when I stumbled upon this one, useful for extraction from bad dates, meetings, etc:

FakeCall Pro

Come on, it’s paid for, but what’s your sanity worth?

🙂

Microsoft Ends Windows XP Service Pack 2 support today

And what does this mean to the average small business computer user?

< a href="http://consumerist.com/2010/07/security-patching-for-xp-service-pack-2-ends-today.html">“Security Patching for XP Service Pack 2 Ends Today”.

It costs money to have teams of people, like fire fighters, employed for the “in case of emergency” situations. Yes, while they aren’t responding to the latest hacker attacks, they can be doing productive things with their product line, but consider Microsoft has two other fully functional PC operating systems they have to support as well: Vista and Windows 7.

Short translation: If your computer(s) is (are) running Windows XP, and you haven’t updated beyond Service Pack 2, then you are potentially at risk if the hackers figure out a new way to end around the security features of XP/SP2.

The good news? Make sure you’ve installed Service Pack 3. Microsoft will still have resources that keep that “vintage” of XP updated and patched for security holes.

In the long run, it’s notice to consider drafting your plan to upgrade your operating system software, and possibly your systems. I have been using Windows 7 on various machines for about a year now, the first installation on a very old computer, and I did it just to see if it worked…it did. Not that some of the others I’ve upgraded haven’t had a few issues with finding drivers, but it’s time. Besides, it runs fast like XP, yet is pretty like Vista!

If you need help laying out a plan and a budget for your business, contact me!