Saturday, December 8, 2012

A game console for your TV where all games are free

Ouya is a $99 game console that will built on Android that will allow users to play games for free on their TV. It will also stream video. I may just have to get one of these.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Buying a new device? Buy from the owner of a store.

If you are going to buy a new Windows 8 machine get it from Microsoft. If you’re getting an Android tablet get it from Google. Of course you can only get iOS and OSX from an Apple product. Kindle and Nooks also fall into the category of owners of the store. 

There are so many devices, with so many choices. So why am I advocating buying devices from the people who own the stores on their machines? You can get the Kindle store on just about anything, and you will be able to have Microsoft’s store on any Windows 8 machine. The answer is that the store is where the money is. But there is another reason that I will share with you in a moment.

Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Barns and Noble, and Google don’t have to make a cent off of their hardware. What this means is that other companies who are producing computers or tablets have to make all of their money from the slim profit margins that they get from selling their hardware. The aforementioned companies don’t have to make any money at all from selling their products. It’s similar to Microsoft making their money off of games and services for the Xbox or Nintendo making their money from selling copies of Mario Cart. Bottom line you are going to get more hardware for your buck if you buy from the store owners.

The other reason for buying from the maker of the store is that they are also the makers of their Operating System. If you make the OS and the hardware it runs on then it’s most likely going to run better. Yes the Kindle and the Nook are based on Android but they have highly customized it to run on their devices. It’s the same as Mac OSX being based on Free BSD then massively customized to work only on Apple hardware.

All that being said it may explain why most Android phones seem clumsy compared to an iPhone. Yes Samsung has done a good job with Android but most really haven’t. I would have no qualms at all about getting a Google phone with Android installed; I would bet it would run great.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Microsoft Is Going For Broke With The Metro Interface

A little over 30 years ago Microsoft landed the role of being the operating system provider for International Business Machines (IBM), thus planting in the minds of the business community that Microsoft was the software company of choice if you do business. In the early to mid-80s there were other companies out there that had operating systems with greater capabilities than IBM PCs. Both the Apple Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga had impressive Graphic User Interfaces that Microsoft was just beginning to develop. But at the time the Macintosh was looked at as an educational computer and the Amiga was looked at as a graphics platform and game box. Both were not taken seriously by the business community.

In 1985 IBM sealed its fate when it asked Microsoft to write OS2. The problem was that at the same time Microsoft was writing OS2 for IBM, they were selling a Disk Operating System (DOS) for other manufacturers, and Microsoft quickly overshadowed IBM. From that time forward Microsoft controlled the operating system that the vast majority of business computers in the world used to do business, and Microsoft’s DOS became the Operating System norm.

Microsoft was in a great position, and if you wanted to be a player in the computer hardware or software game you had to play ball with Microsoft. Microsoft used its knowledge of its own operating system to make Microsoft Office outperform competitors like Novel’s WordPerfect to dominate the office suite space. If Microsoft thought you were getting too big for your britches then it would put you in your place. For example, when the Internet started making its way out of universities and into the living rooms of the general population, Netscape was your entry point to the World Wide Web. Microsoft saw Netscape as a threat and made it a priority to squash them. Microsoft created its own web browser, Internet Explorer that was derived from Spyglass Mosaic, and simply made it part of every version of Windows 95. When people purchased a PC, Internet Explorer was right there ready to guide them to the new World Wide Web, thus pushing Netscape out of the way. Using their OS muscle has been Microsoft’s way of doing business for years, forcing everyone to partner up and play ball. But things have changed, and Microsoft was caught off guard.

The internet has grown over the years and the speeds to connect to it have gotten so fast that in some places you will be able to connect to the internet as fast as 1 Gigabit per second with Google Fiber. This is 100x faster than the existing 10mps that most of us are using. This makes cloud computing super-fast, and makes your native OS less relevant. If a software provider creates a program that can run on their server through a browser then the browser becomes the OS and it doesn’t matter if you are running on Windows, MAC OSX, Google Chrome, Linux, or Android.

Gadgets other that the typical PC hook into the internet, and popular operating systems for those devices like Apple’s IOS that runs on iPhones and iPads, and Google’s Linux based Androids rule those markets. There is a fundamental shift going on right now, and Microsoft can’t stand it.

So how is Microsoft handling this shift in the world of operating systems and connections? They are betting everything on Windows 8 and the Metro interface. Microsoft is betting that their tablet/laptops, phones, and new Metro interfaced OS can dominate everything and let them once again flex their OS muscle to drive how people use technology. But how will the Metro Interface save Microsoft?

Windows phone 7 with the Metro Interface and its little squares and rectangles was a huge flop. It appears now that Microsoft is throwing their baby (Windows) out the window, and replacing it with the little squares and rectangles that the public has by and large rejected. If you look at Microsoft’s history, they have dominated not because their OS was the best, but because it was the norm. Microsoft led by Steve Ballmer, who has been with Microsoft since the beginning, is betting that they can force the Metro Interface down the world’s throat and make it the new norm replacing Android and IOS. Microsoft’s reasoning is that you’ll get used to it, business will get used to it, and they will be on top once again. Getting us used to the Metro Interface is the only reason they are offering cheap upgrades for $15 if you buy a PC with Windows 7 right now, or sell Win8 to you for $40 if you upgrade from any other version of Windows after it comes out.

I’m not a fortune teller, but I don’t think this is going to work for Microsoft. I think it will help to keep them relevant, but not as a dominator; they will be just another choice. I think this move is going to be enough to light a fire under developers to get busy. The public will be unhappy with Windows 8, and some hardware manufacturers are already unhappy with Microsoft building their own devices. I think you will see more alternative OS laptops like the Chrome Book, and laptops sporting Linux springing up. The tablet market will be more varied with Microsoft’s entries, but they are not going to push iPads, Galaxy Tabs, Nooks, and Kindle Fires off of the map.  Whatever happens this will end up being an interesting year for technology, and I look forward to seeing how it all turns out. Personally I’d like to see Microsoft fall flat on its face, simply because I don’t like seeing bullies win, but I don’t think that will happen. Hopefully the events of this year will have a humbling effect on Microsoft who hasn’t always played well with others over the years, but I doubt it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

No Boot Menu After Installing Ubuntu with Windows 7

I've installed Ubuntu to dual boot on 3 computers running Windows 7. On every one of them I've had to do a boot repair in order to get the Linux grub working correctly. I also had to fix the loader on Windows 7 using a Windows 7 install disk, and telling it to repair Win 7 on 2 of the installations. Windows repaired the boot issue both times.

To fix a corrupted Windows 7 boot you simply boot with any Windows 7 boot disk, then select repair when given the choice. Windows will find the problem and fix the boot issue.

To fix a nonexistent grub boot menu you need to boot from an Ubuntu live CD and follow these instructions to reinstall the Grub menu:

It should look like this:

You need to boot your computer using Ubuntu Live CD or Live USB to repair the grub. Choose "Try Ubuntu."

Once you are finished booting open a terminal, then run the following commands one by one to install a program called "Boot Repair."

To add boot-repair to the repository, enter:
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair
To Update your repository, enter:
$ sudo apt-get update
To install boot-repair, enter:
$ sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair

When the installation is complete run "Boot Repair" on terminal by typing the following command:
$ boot-repair

NOTE: You don't have to update Boot Repair.

It will scan the System for few seconds and will show you the option "Recommended Repair" Click on  "Recommended Repair" to start repairing the grub.

Once it's done you click on "OK" to restart you system and you should have a Grub as pictured above.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Word About Chromebox and Chromebook

With Google introducing the Chromebox I think Google is finally getting the Chrome OS almost where it needs to be to really take off. The Chromebox is an inexpensive desktop that could easily take care of the needs of the average computer user, or be used in many functions in a company. Chromebook is the laptop version. The one big gripe bout these machines in the past was not being able to work on a Google document offline. But it looks like Google is addressing this issue.

The thing that I like the most about these Chrome machines is the mistake proofing that is inherent in them. They are really hard to screw up. This means less IT time supporting these machines at your company, or less calls from grandma wondering what to do with her system that's full of malware. I'll be watching how this goes and maybe these will be the machines my kids use to so homework on in the future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cozi a great way to keep your family organized for free

Keeping all of the things that go into keeping a family running is a chore. Wouldn't it be nice to have something that actually made it easier? Well then you might want to take a look at Cozi. Cozi is not only a family calendar but also a Shopping, Meal Planning, and To Do list all -in-one dynamo that makes keeping track of everything easy for everyone in the family.

I've tried using programs like Google calendars to do the same thing but they are really geared toward business. Cozi's calendar is like the family calendar I have on the wall, but instead of a column for each family member it has a colored dot that I can assign the same event to different people. Cozi also sends out reminder before events to help keep you on track. I find it very easy to use an intuitive.

The Shopping list is great. my wife can access the list and add things instead of dropping pieces of paper on my desk to keep track of. The meal planning is very handy when you are trying to come up with meals for a week. You can link recipes that you find on the web and you can even have Cozi add ingredients to your shopping list.

Anyway check it out at

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Are you looking for an alternative program or website?

If you are then is the place for you. I'm not sure how I found this site but it has become one of my favorites. Recently I needed to find a better de-fragmentation program for my son's computer. He had almost filled the 120GB hard drive with games and there was only 20% of the drive space free, and that was very fragmented. I fired up the program that comes with Windows XP called "disk defragmenter" and had it start working on the drive. After a short time the program came back with a message telling me that it couldn't finish the job and that most of the drive was still fragmented.

This was unacceptable to me so I decided to see what else was out the that could help me fix this problem, that's when I turned to I typed in "disk defragmenter" and it gave me a list of programs that it thought were a match. I looked down the list and I could see numbers next to programs that people had voted for. It uses like buttons like the ones in Facebook. There were some interesting tools listed and I spotted  Auslogics Disk Defrag with 78 likes. I had used this program before, and it had worked reasonably well for me but I was hoping to find something different. I clicked on Auslogics Disk Defrag and alternativeTo gave me a list of alternative programs to Auslogics Disk Defrag. On this new list was Defraggler with 308 likes, and under the name was a link to the website, so I gave it a click and it brought me to Piriform's website. I had used some of their other free software in the past so I knew this was a good choice to try.

Defraggler took a few hours to clean up the hard drive mess on my son's computer and it did a great job. I think it would have taken me longer to find this program if I hadn't used alternativTo, and with the instant feedback using "likes" I was able to make a quick judgment as to whether or not I wanted to try it. It didn't give me the alternative I wanted on the first click but on the second it did. I have to give alternativeTo a big thumbs up as well as Defraggler for helping me to solve my problem.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Microsoft Office 2010 Starter

I hadn’t heard of Microsoft Office 2010 Starter until I saw it included with a laptop computer I was looking at online. I’ve been using libreOffice exclusively for some time and have grown to enjoy using it, but I was curious to see exactly what this starter version of office was. So with a few searches on the internet I was able to find that Microsoft decided to get rid of Works -which just sucked anyway- and to add a version of Word and Excel that do not have all of the features of the paid version. They also included a little rotating advertisement in the bottom right side of the screen.

To tell you the truth I do like using Word and Excel but the price of $100 to purchase them is excessive. If the price for a home version were more on the line of $29 then I would be happy to fork over the money to pay for it, but when I can get a full blown compatible office suite for free why would I spend $100 per computer to do so. This brings me to 2010 Office Starter.

First off the things that are missing from starter I don’t use anyway. Starter is missing the ability to use pivot tables in Excel, and the ability to see revision history in Word. Those missing features are no big deal to me at all. The advertisement in the bottom right hand corner doesn’t bother me either. So to tell you the truth I’m pretty happy with it. If I really wanted to upgrade to the full blown Office program I could by buying it for $100 but I won’t. If I really need to do a Power Point presentation I will do it in LibreOffice.

I think it’s smart of Microsoft to provide this with new computers. With so many free ways to create documents using free software or online with sites like Google Docs they needed to do something to stay relevant to the average user.   Microsoft only provides Office 2010 Starter preinstalled on new machines, but they don’t care if it’s copied. It will only run on Windows Vista and Windows 7. You can download it here, click on the rectangular box under Microsoft Windows Starter 2010, and start using it.

Have fun. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Are My Computer's Specifications?

It will happen, one day you will want to sell your old faithful Windows based computer to buy something new. Yes, you could donate it to Goodwill or some other charitable organization, but you may want to sell it.

So how do you figure out what you actually have? If someone reads your ebay or craigslist advertisement for your computer you will need to put the specification in it. Here are two Free programs that will do just that.

Speccy will tell you all sorts of essential information about your computer. Here are a few:
  • Processor brand and model
  • Hard drive size and speed
  • Amount of memory (RAM)
  • Graphics card
  • Operating system
  • And much more
Speccy will also tell you what temperature your computer is running at, and many other things that a potential buyer might ask. It will also save a screen shot so you can add it to your advertisement.

For a more comprehensive report you may want to check out Belarc Adviser. It's free and will even tell you service packs you have installed and software license numbers. Both are great programs and the price is right, FREE.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

VirtualBox, Add Another OS the Easy Way

I had never heard of the Oracle VirtualBox until the other day after reading an article on how to use it on Windows Secrets to test drive Windows 8. After reading this article I wondered if there was a Linux version? I thought it would be great to have Windows XP for those programs that only run on Windows and they do make a version for Linux and for MAC OSX.

So what exactly can you do with it? You can run a completely different operating system in a Window on the operating system that you are currently using. I used it to run Windows XP in a Window on My Ubuntu Laptop. But you could have just as easily run the test drive for Windows 8 on you Vista system, or Ubuntu Linux on your WIndows 7 computer without making new partitions or messing with the instillation that you already have.

It works very well, and you can easily allocate processors in your multi processor computer, how much RAM it will use, and how much graphics memory it will take. Of cource the more RAM and processors you have the smoother everything will run. I'm running it on a dual processor machine with 4 Gig of RAM and it does a good job with allocating 1.5  Gigs to Windows XP.

You can download your version here Oracle VirtualBox.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Have a New Website

I just turned loose my new Website onto the world. If you get a chance stop by and check it out Dan LaFollette Technology Consulting. I will be adding more and more helpful links and other information as I have time to add them. My goal is to give people as much information as I can to solve their common technology problems. If they still need help they can Ask Dan! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What bothers me about Windows 8

I'm hearing all of these rumors about Windows 8 being like the Windows phone, built to work with panes and and be more like a tablet. When I use my iPod touch I don't worry about getting maleware at all because I get software from Apple's on source. My iPod works as I expect it to work. My Android phone, same thing. My Laptop running Ubuntu, same thing, I don't deal with malware on them. But any of my Windows based computers constantly get malware even with Virus software running all the time. I have to periodically run Superantispyware to ensure that they will run properly.

So here comes Windows 8 trying to act like all of the other things devices that I have that aren't plagued with malware issues. Malware and panes seems like a nightmare waiting to happen. I simply don't understand why Microsoft can't deal with these problems. Anyway that's my 2 cents worth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Opera Web Browser email Client

I've always had a soft spot for the Opera browser ever since it came out at the end of 1996, and the email client is one of the many reason the Opera web browser should be one of the free applications in your tool box. I'm using three browsers now, and I use them for different functions, oh and Internet explorer isn't one of them. I've used Opera on and off over the years because it always seems to have something that I wanted to use. Usually when I needed to down load a file with a BitTorrent. But I think the email client alone is a huge reason to use it
First off Opera has a fantastic email client. I decided to look at it today after getting another request from my spouse to fix her Mozilla Thunderbird email client. I had to reinstall it recently for her, and it seemed to be working fine on her Vista running desktop, but it's on the Fritz again, and frankly I'm getting tired of fixing it. I'm using Thunderbird for Linux on my laptop with no problems at all but I find Thunderbird a bit cumbersome for the average user. If I find it cumbersome then I know that Joe Blow on the street is going to find it difficult to set up. You can use Opera with just about any of the online email services that are out there but I use Yahoo mail and Gmail exclusively myself. Gmail is a snap to set up on any email client, by simply telling Opera what your email address and passwords are and that you want to use imap, bang, you're in business. With Yahoo there are a few more steps. Here are the setting that you need to enter to use imap with Opera email client. These also work for Thunderbird by the way.
Outgoing mail needs to be set to:
  • port 465 (SSL/TLS)

Incoming imap server needs to be set to:

  • port 993 (SSL/TLS)
In case you have a problem with the above settings then here are some alternative settings for accessing imap:

  • port 465
  • port 143
  • port 465 (SSL/TLS)
  • port 993 (SSL/TLS)
Other important settings for Yahoo mail that need to be set.
  • Click on the wrench next to your email address
  • Then click on properties.
  • Next click on IMAP to tell it to map the Sent, Trash, and Bulk mail folders. There are drop downs to select.
  • Click on “OK” Then you should be all set.
The reason you have to go through so many extra steps is because Yahoo wants to charge you to use their email on your email client, and their premium email service has access to their POP account that allows it to talk to Outlook, Thunderbird, and Opera mail. They don't charge you to use Yahoo mail on your Android, or iPhone. We just used their settings for mobile devices that work just fine on an email client.
Now I had a hard time finding how to add another account, you can add as many as you want and it's not hard to set up them up once you get to the right place, but it's tricky finding the spot to add a new email account.
  • First you have to move your mouse on the email address you already have set up, then click on the wrench next to it.
  • Click on IMAP folders and when the “Subscribe IMAP folders” box pops up then click on “Account.”
  • You can then click on new account to set one up.
I actually like the look and feel of the email client that is built into Opera over Thunderbird. It seems more polished and friendly. And it's sort of nice having email to my left in my browser as I'm doing other things on the web. It's one less thing I have to switch between.
One other unique feature of Opera is the fact that it has a BitTorrent built right in. I don't use this much but every once and a while I need to download a large file and my only option is a bit torrent. Having BitTorrent software built in makes it more of a one step process to get the files that you are after. Just download the small torrent file and Opera starts the process of getting the actual file you want.
Opera is the fastest browser out there, so if you don't like waiting for pages to load then this is the browser for you. Opera also hosts blogs somewhat like Google does. Opera makes a great browser for your cell phone that use use on my Android exclusively.
It would be nice to be able to read Kindle book on Opera, but that's why I have Google Chrome. With so many different applications available for web browsers they themselves have turned into their own operating systems. For the most part what operating system you use doesn't matter too terribly much anymore unless you have an application that you just have to run on Windows for instance. Of course that's another story.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ubuntu Linux Has Become My Operating System of Choice

I just have to say that I'm running Ubuntu 11.10 on my Gateway 6961 and I'm loving it. I'm using it to do most of my writing using LibreOffice, I'm reading my Kindle books on it through the Chrome browser, and doing all of my social media stuff with it.

I set up an older Laptop with it also so my son could use it in his bedroom for school work, and I don't have to mess with it. I figure if he screws it up I will just download the latest disk and redo his installation, but I haven't had to, it just keep running fine.

It seems like I'm constantly having to clean out Malware out of my Windows computers running in the house. It amazes me that you can have virus protection on one of these machines, and you still end up with with a crap load of Malware. I have to clean it out with Malwarebytes, or my personal favorite Superantispyware. Well I just don't have this problem with my Linux machine.

If you have a computer that has a messed up Windows installation, and you're about to donate it to Goodwill, you really should download a copy of Ubuntu and install it first. You might find that out don't need to get rid of your computer, or that it could be a useful second computer. Most of the computer I use I received after someone else gave up on them.

There is a lot of free software for Linux, and software you can buy also. No, you won't be able to use the latest game that runs on Windows, but there are a lot of games you can play. But let's face it, most of what we use computers for today revolves around the web and Ubuntu Linux has that covered. If you aren't sure about it, then download the CD image file, burn it, and boot from the live CD to give it a try. It will only cost you a little time and it's fun to play with.