LEGO Universe is the first MMO for Lego – CES 2010

A full featured 3D environment for Lego. With family safe content, you play to defeat the Malestrom. It will be available on Beta for PC.

Interview by Robb Blatt of Geek News Central

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DiskKeeper 2010 – CES 2010

DiskKeeper is a product that has been around a very long time. It is a disk Defragmentation tool. In the past it took care of defragmentation after it occurred today the product is designed to defragment real time and prevent defragmentation before it happens. Jeffrey Powers from takes a few minutes to talk to the folks at DiskKeeper about the new release.

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Dragon Naturally Speaking Demo CES 2010

Nuance the leader in translation software has introduced Dragon Naturally Speaking version 10, and it has a host of new features and more importantly it is more accurate then ever. I have been using a trial copy provided by Nuance and over past editions I have owned and used this is a vast improvement and worth the upgrade.

One challenge I have had in the past is in it’s ability to learn technical terms, so far this version is working very well when you take the time to correct mistakes and the software seems to get smarter after each use.

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How I made Vista work better.

I hear it all the time – Dang Vista won’t work. They still get frustrated over printer failures, slow programs loading and just basic aggravation to it’s performance. But what’s more interesting is how I fix the problem – and make the program run 200% better.

It’s all about a piece of software that has been a thorn in my side for the last 10 years. Ever since Windows 98, this much needed software has taken a step too far in it’s installation, and when other software gets installed, this software fights with Windows. Worst part is this software expires, which causes more problems than you can imagine.


The latest machine was a HP AMD laptop. The printer spooler was failing. I was getting popups from the Information window because Symantec took over the Firewall. Then it rounded off with a renew subscription error.

Ultimately, all these errors would make the startup time a good 5 minutes. Yeah, you can start after the initial boot-up and sign-in, but as you are working, you are getting all these stupid windows saying there are problems, when in all reality it’s a program you rely on.

Someone gets a new machine and Hey! there’s an anti-virus software you can install. But it’s more than anti-virus. It’s a webscanner. It’s a email scanner. It’s an anti-phishing device . It’s a swiss army knife you can use in any way – until the 1 year trial expires. And then you will get upgrade notices – months in advance – to buy another year.

That is the worst part: this software expires and most procrastinate. Most people I know just pass off on the box and continue. Two to three months after expiration when I look at their machine, I am surprised they haven’t been infected with anything else.

This laptop had one other problem. Within the year that they purchased the machine, they also installed AVG anti-virus.

So for anyone to check email, get on the internet or whatever, they have to run through an expired Anti virus, then one that is working. That’s like sitting in the doctors office and when your name is called, you move to a second waiting room, in where you wait for your name to be called again.

I have been taking Symantec off computers for 10 years. And, yes. For 10 years I have also been removing McAffee. This bloatware is only causing problems, then the user doesn’t want to pay for an upgrade, therefore making the situation worse.

I agree – If you are not in a corporate environment, you should be able to get a basic Anti virus that will not charge you to download the latest definitions. That is why I install a lot of programs like AVG and Avast on machines. I still have to follow up with the customer because of the expiration of the registration keys.

Symantec software (or McAffee)  SHOULD NOT be on new machines. If anything, it should not be pre-loaded, but put on a CD that you physically have to insert and install. If you have to physically install the software, you understand it a little better than something you just have to “Activate”.

In my work, I have pretty much called Symantec more harmful than helpful. No matter what you throw at me in argument, I can bring back with “Yeah, but your software expires and causes more problems in computers”. No wonder people get annoyed with their machines. If I didn’t know about this, I would be swearing at my computer every time it loads.

If you have the software and it’s saying “Pay for another year”, then take some action. At least the un-install process isn’t as annoying as it used to be. I think with McAfee you still have to put in the password you created when you activated it. Hopefully you remember that.

I always say “Ignorance is no excuse”, but on the same token I can’t know everything. Otherwise I would be on Jeopardy answering Alex Trebek’s questions. Or is that asking questions to Alex Trebek’s answers…

Google can help, Google can hurt

There are many great things that Google has come out with in the last couple years. I have been all for what they accomplished, even if I don’t use everything. But the last couple ideas haven’t been warmly accepted by the IT populous.We’ll take a look at a few of the ideas, Good, bad and indifferent.

The Good

We’ll start with the one thing that Google has been doing right for years: Search. I remember when it came on the scene – I was pretty much torn between Metacrawler and Dogpile; I was never a Yahoo or MSN search user. Google just seemed to fit better. The later additions like images and news helped out a lot. Add to it the fact the default search on Firefox was Google. Even when i used IE I would switch it over.

Bing is a nice alternative nowadays, although I like the Google vs. Bing site. They do have to think of another name. google-vs-bing is a bit long and if you forget to put in dashes, you will not be on that site.

Gmail: I switched to Gmail a few years ago. I didn’t like the fact that Yahoo was holding my email hostage – even if it was a free service. Hotmail is no different; if I don’t pay the yearly fee, I don’t get to download my mail.

Gmail let me control my mail the way I wanted. It had some great features to connect with others and I really wanted my mail to come through in Thunderbird. Now with the iPhone, it just seems best to stay in the cloud, although i still download to TB for another way to archive.

Toolbar: I have to admit, I haven’t used the toolbar since the newer versions of browsers had the search feature added on the top. Why add another layer? It might just slow down the experience and clutter the screen.

I remember using the highlight tool a lot. Now with Firefox, I just use the highlight add-on. Works pretty well, especially if you are using webpages for reference – highlight the key points.

Maps: This has grown immensely in the last few years. It’s even changed the way I search maps. Satellite view, street view, even hybrid maps have enhanced my use.

I remember when first found out the map could be moved by click-dragging or re-sized by scrolling. I think I played with those features for hours. And yes, I tried to find my house when the Satellite feature first came out.

Labs: This was an impressive feature. No closed beta testing – the ability to put something out in public without giving to everyone. I could then use the “soon to be” features at my discretion.

Analytics: What can I say? I need help with my websites. Being able to have someone help me understand where problems lie is key. Having it come from the place that pretty much wrote the rules on how search is done is even better.

The Bad

SideWiki: Google’s recent choice of SideWiki is not a good one. It takes away from a website. As an administrator, I want comments on my site to be on my site. I don’t have sidewiki setup and I don’t want to confuse people as to where they comment on.

I also don’t like sites that steal my comments. Digg is a good example. While I don’t like Facebook or Twitter stealing comments for tweets, it does promote my brand a lot better with replies on posts.

Chrome Frame: As an IT professional, I hate this idea. It would be like having the Ford dealer put in Ford parts into your Chevy. Once they were done, they cannot really guarantee it’s not going to fail.

If  your company runs IE6 for some reason at this point, they may have legitimate reasons to keep it that way. It’s not that a company doesn’t want you to have the latest version of software. It’s all about how it works with the other programs you have to use.

The Dead Pool: Jaiku, Video, Notebook and Dodgeball were all parts of Google that didn’t work out. However, they sometimes did enhance other areas with the technologies within. Notebook helped with Docs, for example.


Docs: I use Google Docs, but only for simple items. Documents I have to share that are not sensitive, for example. There is a lot of functionality in Office and OpenOffice that Google Docs hasn’t even touched. There are even some quirks in Docs that make it tougher to switch over.

Reader: I guess I just haven’t gotten the gist of this idea yet. I’ve used feed aggregation before, but sometimes I like to “Hunt” for news. When I used newsgator, I found that I was going back to the same items time and time again.

Blogger: I used Blogger when it first came over to Google. I remember that year I decided to give up meat for 40 days (a personal choice, although I did it during the same time as “Lent”). I used Blogger for my personal journal. And yes – this was before “Supersize Me” came out.

I like to control my own brand, though. Therefore, I moved off the platform. I also wasn’t serious about my Blogger profile. It ended up being pushed to the wayside and forgotten until it was removed by the system. I won’t get that data back.

Feedburner: There are a lot of people who live and breathe by this item. I personally don’t use it, although I do have my site up on Feedburner. You never know where a lead will come from.

YouTube: This was a great item, but then they put too many restrictions on the site. I don’t like being told what I can or can’t say or promote. Nonetheless, I know that being on YouTube is a powerful marketing tool. Therefore, certain items go on YouTube, like promoting a new show or item.

Chrome: The browser is an interesting one. It’s got a lot of great features, but as an IT pro, I cannot recommend it for business. It’s like I said with Frame – You may have to control the environment. Chrome doesn’t always give you choices on updates.

Book Search: Of course this is new to a lot of people. I still like the feel of a paperback while I sit in bed just before I fall asleep. I think there are a lot of people out there that are just like me, too. Digital books haven’t really found the happy medium yet – But when that someone comes out with the way to read a book online that is more inviting than the paper copy, the proverbial pendulum will swing.

There are a lot more products out there. It really is interesting how many pots Google has their hands in. It may someday get them in trouble with the FTC or EU, but for now, there are some great free alternatives to items you need to use.

Forget IE6 – Update Your Windows XP

So I was given another friends’ computer to fix. They were having overheating issues, which was easily deduced to a blocked fan. Nonetheless, when I turned it on I was greeted with the same issues that so many have not taken care of.

It was still on XP Service Pack 1.

What this meant was I was stuck doing the upgrades. I really don’t mind, but it made me think a bit about how people look at and use their computers; How they say they’re “Computer Stupid” and don’t know all the technical jargon I spew.

I hate that term – “Computer Stupid”.

To begin with, it’s not grammatically correct. With that aside, it’s not about if you know how to put together a computer. It’s about whether you read the signs – after all, if you didn’t read the road signs while driving, you might get lost. Then again, I know people that DO read the signs and still get lost…

So you turn on the computer and the first thing that pops up is an error message. What do you do? Do you 1. try to deduce the problem. 2. Consult a fellow IT friend or 3. Ignore the message altogether and select through it?

It’s amazing how many people do #3. Just like looking at that little “Change Oil” light in the car. After all, it looks so pretty when it’s on for the next 12 thousand miles…

Funny thing about these computers is the Windows Update feature is turned on. It says on the bottom there are updates to be run. Probably has said that on this computer for a long time. After all, I had to install Service Pack 2.

Recently, an initiative has come out trying to make people aware to the fact that they need to upgrade from IE 6. The initial push to IE 7 was slow simply because the added features caused online programs to not function and security holes to be created. The job at the time definitely did not want to make the upgrade because the banking software (for one) didn’t work with IE7.

Awareness has shown the masses that IE might not be the browser to run: The “Million Download” Firefox attempt brought more awareness to what we use for a browser. Still – 8 million downloads (now the Guinness record) is a far cry from as many computers that are out there. Since then Firefox has boasted 1 billion downloads – but how many computers really have the software on and how many people just didn’t go back to IE6?

It’s all about awareness. If the dirty dish is in the sink and you need to use it – you wash it. If the bag is in the hallway and you are coming through, you move it. Therefore, if the computer is telling you to update… You get the picture.

That’s not being “Computer Stupid”. It’s about being aware.

It’s even understandable if you select off it a couple times simply because you are working on something. But eventually, you should really just “Do it”. After all, it’s not going to go away. You might just end up paying for waiting in malware issues. In fact I am surprised this computer is not riddled with malware – especially since there is no Anti-Virus on it.

But that’s a whole other subject.

For now, don’t ignore the issue. Update the computer.

Software Bundles Prove Golden

So here I am working on a side web design job.  As I look at the programs I am using to get it all done I realized they were, for the most part, all from software bundle purchases.  If my memory serves me correct I have taken part in 3 different purchases from MacUpdate and Macheist.  The price was never above $59 and I usually received 8-12 different titles.

Big discounts and great deals on Mac software every day - MacUpdate Promo

“What is so golden as you certainly cannot have found all 30 programs as useful?”  I can read your mind and you are correct.  I am probably only using six or seven of them on a regular to daily basis and another ten of them occasionally.  Six of them I use all the time.

  1. MacHeist » Welcome1Password (Retail $40)
  2. Vector Designer (Retail $70)
  3. Pixelmator (Retail $60)
  4. CSS Edit and Espresso (Retail Package $80)
  5. Task Paper (Retail $30)

The total retail cost of those alone would be $280.  By my calculations that would mean by participating in the promotion I saved about $130 off retail of just these six programs. That does not include the programs I use occasionally such as AppZapper ($13), Snapz Pro X ($69), and a bunch of others.  Golden, I tell you golden.

All of the promotions send a substantial portion of the income to charities.  I am not trying to avoid paying for great software.  The developers chose to participate either to help the charity or to get the word out about their products.  So why not take a shot and try one out?

Please know that I do not participate in every promotion.  I look closely at the titles being offered to see what I have need of.  If the cost benefit is not at least the equivalent of 2 for 1 I don’t buy.  Chances are I can get along without it for a while.  But I must admit it is hard to resist such a golden deal!

Is Google going to crack?

googlechromelogoWith great interest I have been following the news articles and rumors of the upcoming Google OS release.  I am trying to wrap my mind around the Google business plan.  From search engine to online advertising dominance to Gmail to Google docs to Google Code to Google Mobile OS Android to Google Chrome to Google Wave to Google Voice to Google Chrome OS.  Not to mention a few other less known projects and discontinued items.  It is apparent that Google wants to control/manipulate our online life. And of course bring in a few billion advertising dollars.

So tell me what is different about Google than the “Ma Bell” days of yesteryear?  Google has the cash to buy pretty much any start-up it wants.  Google has the brain power to create pretty much any product it wants.  Google has and wants it all.  Or does it?  Google is still a company.  The larger the company the more difficult it becomes to maintain a cohesive core business.  The more difficult it becomes to truly allow creativity and innovation within.  The more difficult it becomes to maintain quality and support.  The harder it becomes to truly keep the user’s data and best interest in mind.  Eventually what goes up must come down.  Even the mightiest companies weaken, create spin-offs, and face downsizing.

As much as I love the Google products I am beginning to wonder, how much more diverse can they go before we see some cracks in the chrome?

Goodbye, Compuserve

After 30 years, Compuserve has decided to shut down. Not the whole thing, though, as Compuserve 2000 will still be around. Still, this marks the end of an era.

Compuserve started as a dial up service in 1969. That is long before the Internet and World Wide Web were even thought of. In the 80’s it changed hands and became the biggest information and Networking services in the world. They were the first to offer Internet access (in limited fashion) via dial up.
Here is the official email to customers:

Dear CompuServe Classic Member,
After many years of providing online services, we regret to inform you that as of June 30, 2009 the CompuServe Classic service will no longer operate as an Internet Service Provider. We hope this does not cause you an inconvenience.

Note that this shutdown only relates to the CompuServe Classic service. The CompuServe 2000 service will continue to operate as it does today.

We’re aware that this change may raise several questions for you.
Here’s what this will mean:


* If you need dial-up Internet access, there are two options you may wish
to consider.
Netscape Internet Service


* The last day you will be able to access your CompuServe Classic account will be June 30, 2009. Your dial-up access will no longer be available after this date.
* We urge you to immediately forward, back up, move or otherwise copy to a location outside the CompuServe Classic system any stored data you wish to keep. This data will be inaccessible after the CompuServe Classic service is closed on June 30.
* The CompuServe Classic Ourworld “homepage” service
( will also close on June 30. After that date, you will be unable to access or retrieve any images, files, or other material stored in the Ourworld service. Any content you wish to retain must be saved to a new location before June 30.
* Your final monthly charge for the CompuServe Classic service will occur on your June billing date.


* We are creating a new email system where you will be able to continue
using your existing CompuServe Classic email address. This new email
service will be available to you at no charge – but you will need to
provide your own Internet access.
* Some of the benefits of the new email system include:
+ Unlimited storage lets you keep as many messages as you want
+ Ability to receive large messages (up to 16MB per message)
+ Industry leading spam and virus protection to help eliminate
threats and hassles
+ Mail filters that allow you to store and organize mail
+ Open accessibility and compatibility with IMAP & POP3
+ Seamless integration w/ AIM for instant messaging
* The transition to the new mail system will occur in mid-May. More
information will be sent to you shortly concerning the migration
of your mailbox to the new CompuServe Classic mail system.


Member Services phone support will remain available for the
CompuServe 2000 service, and can answer any billing questions
about CompuServe Classic.
Should you have questions about the termination of this service,
please contact CompuServe Member Services at:

Tech Support

We thank you for being a CompuServe Classic member over the past years.

CompuServe Member Services

Disk Inventory X

After we use our computers for awhile the hard drive starts filling up with all sorts of files and application. The problems is trying to figure what files are filling up the hard drive. Until you know what you have it is hard to organize and delete those you don’t need. If you have a Mac, there is a program that is called Disk Inventory X that gives a great visual representation of what is on your computer or any hard drive on the network. You can have it scan your whole hard drive or a specific folder. It is a free download although they do ask for donations.

Disk Inventory X.png

As you can tell from this picture it is really easy to read. Each color represents a type of file and the bigger the block the bigger the file.  On the right side it shows the size of folder and the number of files. It also tells you where the files are located.  If you click on desktop on the list on the left side. There appears a yellow highlight around the files that are on the desktop.   If you find something you don’t need you can delete directly from Disk Inventory X.   For example, I have a Imovie project that I no longer need.  I simply click on the purple color, it confirms the file. I hit command delete and its sent to my trash.  This is all that Disk Inventory X does, it just shows what’s on your computer or hard drive, but it does it very well.   It is one of those applications that I don’t use very often, but when I need it I am glad its there.