Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The end of the semester has passed...

...for those of you who have me bookmarked, feel free to visit as much as you like!

Best Buy has a 10% off coupon good from December 26, 2006 to December 30, 2006. If you received a Best Buy gift card for any recent holiday, this would be a great thing to combine with it! This is valid for in store only. Print it from the link below and bring it with you.

Printable Best Buy coupon

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Acronym Finder

I've always hated seeing people use acronyms that I don't understand. For example, someone might send you an email saying "Do you know when this is, TIA!" and you may be left wondering, what does TIA mean?

For cases like this, I use the site acronymfinder.com. You can put in just about anything and get an answer!

For example, TIA means Thanks In Advance.

I always had a professor talking about "WYSIWYG" and I had to look that one up.

It's an interesting site, to say the least, and much more specialized than just "Googling" something.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dumpster Diving strikes Major League Baseball

In just about every one of my courses, I've spoken about things like identity theft, and the importance of things like shredders. Here's a case where a multi-million dollar agency just threw out personal information of over 90 professional baseball players, including superstars Moises Alou (now on the New York Mets) and Jim Thome (of the Chicago White Sox).

Evidence found in Dright's home included Social Security numbers, dates of birth, canceled paychecks, obituaries and infant death records.

This is the sort of stuff that needs to be shredded, because there are people who will find it if you don't. Case in point!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bookstore Buyback...

From the bookstore....






Of course I would recommend waiting until you take your exam to sell the books back, but 50% is not all that bad of a price.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

School Stuff: Bursar's Office Open this Saturday (12/16)

Just an FYI from the Bursar's Office (aka: the people who receive your money)

The Bursar’s office will be open this Saturday December 16, 2006 from 8:30am to 12noon. We are encouraging students to pay their Spring 2007 semester bill, by either paying with Financial Aid, entering into a payment plan with a $50.00 deposit or paying their bill in full.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blog Update

I added the ability to search (THANK YOU GOOGLE!!) my blog quickly and easily for past topics. Enter a search term and over on the right hand side and click on "Search".

Math Review

The math department is putting on free review sessions for MA 004, MA 006, and MA 007. If you're getting ready for the finals, this would help you prepare.

Review Session MA 004
Friday December 15 (3 pm - 5 pm)
Room A208B (Paterson Campus)

Review Session MA 006 & 007
Saturday December 16 (9 am - 11 am)
Room W105 (Wanaque Campus)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Attention NetFlix Users

Blockbuster is doing one of the more interesting promotions that I've seen.

If you use the Netflix, you can bring in your shipping label (the part you usually throw out) and get a free rental from Blockbuster.

Obviously, they are trying to get you in store and interested in the Blockbuster service, but I did personally get a few free movies today.

If you use Netflix, this is going on until December 21st.


Long Term Study: No Link Between Cell Phones and Cancer

So, apparently all the fear some people had about cell phones causing cancer is not a problem. There was a long term study done that seems to show no correlation!

News Link

Monday, December 04, 2006

Selling Stuff on Ebay

I was speaking with one of my students about selling stuff on Ebay. With a little effort and some things she's picked up in her Web site design courses, the hardest part of auctioning things is writing good descriptions.

One PCCC Student's Inventory on Ebay

Friday, December 01, 2006

Free Address Labels

We all know I like free stuff. Here's something that came up in my morning CIS 101 course today.

We were discussing printers and address labels came up, and there are a few sites that offer free address labels (return labels for your mailings).

Rather than pay for them, there are some places that will provide them free.

These are places that will give them out for free:
Maker's Mark (an adult beverage company)

These are charitable organizations that would love a donation, but don't require them for the free address labels.
American Diabetes Association

National Foundation for Cancer Research

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Worst Buy?

Imagine this...you go to Best Buy, buy a $1500 video camera, and when you get home, there is a jar of tomato sauce.

It apparently happened to this couple in the St. Louis area.

Video at CNN.Com

Monday, November 27, 2006

Annual Credit Reports

One of the more interesting things that you can now do is request a free copy of your credit report each year. I'm not talking about one of those ads that require you to sign up for something to get it free - Congress passed a bill that requires this. All members of the country can get one for free from each credit bureau each year.

It was always interesting to me to see what information showed up there. Another thing that I found when I first got my free one was that I had credit cards open that I didn't even know about (probably due to those free t-shirt offers or something).

Knowledge is power, and this site gives you access to what people who will lend you money will see when they decide how cheap of an interest rate to give you on a car loan or house loan.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cyber Monday

The Monday after Thanksgiving is sometimes known as "Cyber Monday" - some online stores are creating online only sales for Monday. For example, Staples has a few decent deals:


Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday!

I am currently enjoying popcorn from my new microwave as I use the Windows Update to update my under $500 laptop that came with a free color inkjet printer.

Add to that some free razors, DVD+R's, and some cheap DVD's, and I am happy! I had a lovely Black Friday, and I hope you all enjoyed it as well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Free Tacos for Life?

Taco Bell has made an offer that is interesting. If you are the first person to give them your PS3, you will get "free tacos for life".

This is limited to the first person to take them up on the deal. Very interesting.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nursing Scholarship

Here's another scholarship that has been passed around, for nursing students:

The Institute for Nursing through the New Jersey State Nurses Association has several scholarship available for students.

All applicants must be NJ residents currently enrolled in a diploma, associate, baccalaureate, or master's program, or a doctoral program in nursing or a related field. RN's must be members of the New Jersey State Nurses Association. Scholarships are based on financial need, grade point average, and leadership potential.

The application is available at the Institute for Nursing website at http://www.njsna.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=3. The application can be filled out and submitted online but you will still need to send the required documentation. Application deadline is December 19, 2006.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wireless Keyboard/Mouse @ Office Depot

Office Depot has the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1.0 for a very nice price.

Go to this page and add the Wireless Desktop (with Price of $29.99) to your cart
View cart and add coupon 65736273 (this coupon will take 10% off your order)
Choose to pickup in-store to save on shipping.
There is a $10 rebate that you can submit to save you $10.00

Final Price is $16.99 After Rebate. Not bad at all!

(PS: I had the wrong link up before. This should work.)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Web Registration

For those of you who are eligible, the Registrar's Office already let you know: they are piloting (testing) Web registration.

The following link will take you to the web registration instructions:

They tell us over 50 students have registered for Spring 2007 classes via the Web.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office or the Center for Student Success. They are the experts on this! :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


One excellent web site that I've encountered is woot.com. Basically, it's a web site where every day, they sell something different. For example, today they are selling a 6 GB USB drive for $49.99!

I purchased a Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse set for $19.99 one day, and that was a great deal.

It's very random. Today it's a USB drive...tomorrow it could be something completely random and unrelated. Definitely worth checking out and bookmarking!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally referred to as "Black Friday". There are a number of things that one can save money on, including electronics and computer components. The important part is to plan well.

There are quite a few web sites that have this sort of information on them. One of the best ones seems to be www.bfads.net. As of today (11/6), they have ads up for the following East Coast retailers:

  • Ace Hardware

  • EB Games

  • KB Toys

  • K-Mart

  • Office Max

  • Sears

Great for planning purposes!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wikipedia for Government Intelligence

The government is apparently putting together an internal wiki...to keep track of information about all sorts of secrets.

The US Government is putting together their own version of Wikipedia, which they are calling Intellipedia, in which US spies can edit information about known enemies of the United States. The government plans to extend access to some allies, such as Great Britain, as well.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Registration Time!

It's time to register for next semester!

You should see an advisor within your major. If you are a Computer Science or Information Technology student, you can feel free to visit myself or any of the other full time faculty members within our department. Registration starts Monday, so you should see an advisor ASAP! Note that this can also be done via email or over the phone in some cases (though I recommend doing it in person).

One other big change: if you register now, payment is not due until January 10th! I know some students hesitated to register early because it requires early payment, but now payment is not due until next semester. You can even go in and fill out payment plan forms now, for those of you paying yourself. Here's information from the bursar's email:

* Payment plans available to any student registered for 4 or more credits (provided they have not missed payments in the past).
* A $50 deposit by January 10th will hold the registration with the balance divided into 3 equal payments due – Jan 31, Feb 28 & Mar 30
* Payment plans set up online will avoid the $35 set-up fee.

For those of you interested in scheduling a class with me (or avoiding me!), here is my upper level class schedule:
CIS 106 01 (Introduction to Windows)
CIS 125 01 (Microcomputer Software I - prerequisite CIS 101)
CIS 127 E1 (Microcomputer Software III - prerequisite CIS 125)
CIS 152 01 (Fundamentals of the Internet - prerequisite CIS 101)
CIS 273 E1 (Web Graphics - prerequisite CIS 170)

Search for classes here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Free Stuff: Shredder at Staples

Staples has this shredder this week for free after rebate.

You pay $9.99 and fill out the Staples rebate (which can be done online), and you get $10 back.

This must be done in stores, but you should be able to go in to stores and ask for a ID Armor 4-sheet Diamond-Cut Shredder (SKU #643145).

Not bad for a home user, especially at that price!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Toolbar Madness!!

Ever wonder how many toolbars someone could get at the top of their screen in Internet Explorer? Ever wonder what happens if you always click on "Yes" when it asks if you want to install things? Well, this site has the answer. The guy running the site tested the new Internet Explorer and tried to see how it protected a user who knows little about computing.

The screen looks something like this:

Funny little article about how a new user could really be overwhelmed!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Top 10 Ways to Get Your Resume Ignored

Came across this article on the Internet. It's an article about some of the things you should not do when applying for a job, specifically about things you should NOT do when writing a resume.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Internet Explorer 7. Finally.

Microsoft has (finally) released their new version of Internet Explorer, version 7.

CNN Story here!




the first bug in it has already been discovered:

Story of the first bug found here.

Be the first kid on your block to have it by downloading it here!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Apple has apparently shipped video iPods recently that were infected with a virus! Though somewhere around 1% of them were infected with a virus, that is still a lot of products to be sending out infected.


Shockingly enough (and I say that sarcastically), Apple and Microsoft exchanged nasty little comments about this, with Apple placing some of the blame on Microsoft and Microsoft blaming Apple.

Free and Legal Copy of Registry Mechanic

Registry Mechanic is a program that will allow you to clean your registry. It removes issues and can really speed up your computer. That said, note this disclaimer:


Yes, I just typed in all capitals. Very important point there.

You have to sign up here to get a free license key:

After doing so, you can download the tool from here:
(be patient, everyone on the Internet seems to be trying to download it)

The second Web site has an excellent explanation of what the tool does:
The Registry on a new PC is compact, efficient, containing only the entries required to run your installed applications. And that's great, but this happy state of affairs doesn't last long. As you add and remove other programs, so orphaned entries are left behind, with the result that the Registry just keeps getting larger. Over time it'll consume more RAM, and take a little longer to locate Registry values, slowing your PC down.

Recommended for more advanced CIS 101 students and students beyond, but make sure to set a System Restore point first. If you don't know what System Restore point is, it's probably not a good idea to download this.

Also - once you get the tool, run a deep scan on your registry, fix the problems, and then let it compact it. Even in the 45 days or so since I last ran the tool, I had 200+ errors in my registry!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Free Listing at Ebay

Quite timely information for my CIS 101 students, as we have been discussing Ebay.com and the other types of E-commerce.

Ebay (a web site that allows you to sell your stuff online directly to other consumers in an auction format) typically charges a small fee for listing items. If you've never sold anything on the site and want to try, Ebay is giving people who have never listed an item the chance to sell their first three items without charging a listing fee.

Starting October 17, 2006 between 00:00:01 PT (12:00 AM plus one second on Tuesday, October 17, 2006) and ending 23:59:59 PT on Saturday, October 21, 2006 (11:59 PM plus 59 seconds). Any eBay member who has never listed any item for sale on eBay. This offer is for first-time sellers only. Only your first three listings will be eligible.


Friday, October 13, 2006


The government created a site a few years ago to allow you to "opt-out" of telemarketing telephone calls. If you visit the following free web site and put in your phone numbers, you will stop receiving most annoying telemarketing calls within a month. Highly recommended, and worth the five minute visit:


Registering your number will remove you from calling lists for five years!

Friday the 13th...

Happy Friday the 13th!

Did you know:

Fear of the number 13 is called Triskaidekaphobia

Fear of Friday the 13th is called either paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia

They've got a long word for everything, don't they?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Free after Rebate Stuff at Staples this week

Staples has the following items free after rebate this week. For those of you in need of a Virus Scanner or Firewall, this is a good week to get one for free!

(yes, the McAfee ones have two rebate checks)

ATS 2.4Ghz cordless phone (Item #653119)
$19.99 (sale price) - $20 rebate = Free

McAfee Internet Security 2007 (Item #656947)
$59.99 (sale price) - $20 rebate - $40 easy rebate = Free

McAfee Virus Scan Plus 2007 (Item #656944)
$34.99 - $10 rebate - $25 rebate = FREE

Sterling 56K V.92 internal softmodem (Item #487054)
$19.98 - $20 rebate = Free

Zenith/Phillips universal remote (Item #508162)
$9.99 - $10 rebate = Free

Peachtree Pro Accounting 2007 (Item #645797)
$139.99 - $140 mir = FREE

View the Entire Local Ad

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Scholarships!

Two more scholarships! These ones have very few requirements:

The Frank O'Neill Memorial Scholarship is available to students who are attending college or other post-secondary education program in the 2006 - 2007 academic year. Two (2) $1500 scholarship(s) per year will be awarded.

To be eligible, students must submit an essay of fewer than 750-words on how one instance of peer pressure has made a positive or negative impact on your life and if given the chance, would you change this instance.

There is no GPA requirement and international students are encouraged to apply.

Students must fill out an online form along with their essay at http://www.easyaid.com/scholarship_form_online.html

The deadline for applying is: December 31, 2006.

The Patricia M. McNamara Memorial Scholarship is available to students attending college or will be attending college within a year of the award deadline. One scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $2500.

Students must submit an essay on the following topic: "In 1000 words or less and in your own words, define diversity including an experience in which diversity has effected your life in a positive or negative impact."

Students must fill out an online form with their essay at http://www.patricias-scholarship.org/apply.html

There is no GPA requirement and international students are encouraged to apply.

The deadline for applying is December 31, 2006.

Book Deferments

We've been asked to tell students that the last day they will be able to use book deferments to purchase textbooks and/or other materials is this Friday, October 13.

If you have a book deferment, use it now! The bookstore things you can buy other than books (including USB drives!).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Windows Vista RC2

The latest test build of Windows Vista (the replacement for Windows XP) is available for download for free at the following site:


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Teleportation Breakthrough?!

We've seen teleportation in all sorts of shows, from Star Trek to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Some British scientists have made a breakthrough in this field!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gas Prices

I for one am happy to see the prices of gas fall lately. Even with that, there is a lot of variation in the prices. One gas station by my apartment has regular for $2.59 a gallon, while others I pass are as much as 40 cents lower per gallon! In other words, shopping around provides many advantages.

There is a web site that allows you to check gas prices in your area:


Select New Jersey, and you will be able to search by area for the highest and the lowest gas prices. How do they know? Well, people report them. There is a community of folks out there who take the time to contribute information to the site.

As of now, the lowest price in the state is $1.90 a gallon in Pleasantville (which is sadly an hour south of here), and the highest is $2.99 in Summit. That's a larger gap than I expected, really, but it does help my point. Great site to add to your bookmarks!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Scholarship Available!

The General Motors Minority Dealers Association Scholarship Program provides scholarships each year to help deserving ethnic minority college students pursue their educational dreams.

Applicants are chosen based upon their academic excellence (3.0 GPA) , volunteer and work experience, career aspirations and the strength of a personal statement.

Interested students can obtain an application for the 2006 - 2007 scholarship program at http://www.gmmda.org/main.cfm?location=15

Application deadline is November 17, 2006.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Database Stuff: SQL Syntax

I've always felt that once you understand the logic behind programming, the syntax is the easy part. For example, as someone who developed myself as a programmer, I was able to pick up languages like Perl and Ada even though I never took a class in either language. One of the best tools you can get in a case like this is a quick reference guide (for example, I always had this site bookmarked for Perl).

Learning SQL is a little different than any programming language, but there are quite a few web sites that help with the syntax. Here is a web site that has a quick list of the syntax for the SQL language. Also notice on the left are short tutorials on each of the commands.

Biometric devices

There are all sorts of methods of authentication (making sure someone is who they say they are). Passwords are one way. The problem there is that people usually a) choose something basic or b) choose something complex and then write it down.

I think in the future that you may see more biometric (body measurement) devices. These types of devices go back to the 1930's, believe it or not.

Here's a site with information on all sorts of biometric devices. Some look rather strange (measuring the time spacing of typed words??):

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Google Hacks

Google Hacks is a book that involves all sorts of cool tricks that you can do on Google. From finding better search results (for beginners) to doing things like using their Google Mail system as an external file system (advanced users!), this book covers a lot of them.

Google Hacks on Amazon

Monday, September 25, 2006

Salary Growth

Ran across an interesting article on Career Builder - it lists jobs with highest salary growth. Here are some of the technology related ones from the site:

Information Technology
Jobs with high salary growth:
# Webmaster -- $49,200

# Senior database administrator -- $93,300

Customer service
Jobs with high salary growth:
# Technical support specialist -- $49,100

CareerBuilder Article

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Word Shortcuts

As I've said before, shortcuts in programs will save you a ton of time. You're never going to memorize EVERY shortcut. Well, perhaps if you have a lot of time, but you get my idea here. If you find you are repetitively performing a task, find the hotkey for it!

Here's a list of Microsoft Word (hotkeys):

If you ever lose this link, Microsoft has some similar things in their in-program help.

Google gets sued too!

Google sued in Belgium for "stealing traffic from news sites"...and they refuse to comply with a court ruling to post the text of the ruling on their web site. Oh, and they were fined $1.27 million dollars, too.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

Free Coffee from Yahoo!

Yahoo will offer coupons for a free cup of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts to anyone who sets Yahoo.com as their home page this Friday.

I am not sure how they plan to check this, but hey, free coffee is free coffee! Note "this Friday" refers to Sept 22.


Free Subscription to Spin Magazine

Free one year subscription to Spin Magazine.

Enter VIPSHOW in the blank labeled "VIP Gift Card Promotional Code".

You have to preview a little presentation after you fill out the form.

This probably won't last long!


Don't Listen to Popeye...

Fresh spinach may kill you! At the moment, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to figure out where some bad spinach came from. They are advising people not to eat any fresh spinach (frozen is ok). Over 100 people are already sick, and one has died.


The Internet is just one more source of information for outbreaks such as this, and that is always a positive thing. I would say younger people are more likely to catch this story on the Internet, as opposed to watching the news or reading the newspaper. I wonder, if the Internet was not around, if this would be a bigger issue?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Keyboard Shortcuts for Excel

I've always found that there are ways to become just a little bit more efficient using a program, especially by using hotkeys (also called shortcut keys, or key combinations). In my CIS 126 course last evening, we discussed some of the Excel keyboard shortcuts. Would you believe there are hundreds?

Microsoft has a complete list in their online help. Take a look - odds are you will find a hotkey that will make you more efficient!


Scholarship Opportunity!

This is an opportunity for Business and Information Technology/Computer Science majors!!

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ (SHCC) is seeking to award scholarships to students who have the responsibility and pride in their community, in their state, and in their heritage.

Eligibility Criteria

Each applicant must be:

* Hispanic (one parent must be fully Hispanic).
* A U.S. Citizen or a legal permanent resident.
* A permanent resident of New Jersey.
* A full-time college freshman in the Fall, 2006.
* Intending to major in Business or Business Technology - related program.
* Attending a two or a four year college, public or private, in the state of New Jersey.

Students can obtain more information and/or application at http://www.shccnj.org/

Applications must be postmarked by October 30, 2006.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I've added a few features:

1) You can email articles to your friends. If you click on the little envelope at the end of any post, it will let you forward a link to anyone. I'm doing this blog for anyone who is interested, whether they are a student or not, so feel free to pass it along!

2) For those of you who speak Arabic or Spanish, I've added options to translate to those languages using the Google Translator. These will always appear in the sidebar to the right hand side of the page.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Free Stuff: Windows Vista (Release Candidate 1)

Microsoft is coming close to releasing Windows Vista (the replacement for the Windows XP operating system). If you are already registered with Microsoft as a customer interested in previewing, all you have to do is visit this web site. If you don't have a product key from them, you will first have to visit this web site to register.

This is not recommended for beginning users, but for the more experienced users, this is a nice way to try the Vista operating system out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Free Stuff: Ride Free on NJTransit!

New Jersey Transit is offering students a free week, no strings attached. Go to the web site below, fill out the form, and you will be able to use NJ Transit for free for the week of September 18th through September 24th.


Scholarships Available

The Datatel Scholars Foundation is pleased to announce its 2007 - 2008 academic year scholarship competition. Four unique scholarships are being offered, ranging in value from $1000 to $2500.

Datatel Scholarships Foundation scholarships - are awarded to outstanding students currently attending Datatel client institutions (PCCC is a Datatel client institution).

Angelfire scholarships - is presented to outstanding students who served in the Asian theater (Vietnam, Laos, and/or Cambodia) between 1964 and 1975. Spouses and children of Vietnam veterans, and refugees of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are also eligible. In addition, scholarships are awarded to military personnel who have served in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and/or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Returning Student scholarships - provides assistance to current outstanding students who have returned to higher education after an absence of five years or more.

Nancy Goodhue Lynch scholarships - are awarded to outstanding undergraduate students majoring in information technology related curriculum programs.

Please encourage students to apply early and allow their recommenders enough time to write their letters of support.

The online application will open on SEPTEMBER 1, 2006 and will remain open for submissions until JANUARY 31, 2007 - 5:00 P.M. (EST). The website is http://www.datatel.com/global/scholarships/applicants.cfm

Monday, September 04, 2006

Radio Shack Fires 400 people...via email

This is the first large scale layoff I've heard of that was done via email. This really seems like such a bad thing. Instead of telling employees to their face, they just send out a mass email. Times have changed.

Link to article

Friday, September 01, 2006

Free Stuff: Free Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste (full size)

Free through a company called Start Sampling, courtesy of Sam's Club (you don't have to be a Sam's Club member to get it!):


It's apparently a new line of toothpaste that Crest has put out.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Microsoft vs. Google: Things Get Uglier

Intermedia is a Microsoft company.

That is why this "press release", which seems to praise Google, is really the business world equivalent of "my dad could kick your dad's butt".

Read on and see if you can see the hidden insults.

Thanks to Soprano Sue for the link!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Computer Power Consumption Costs Rising

It's funny, but as a home user, I suppose you don't see the cost of a computer, and how it being on can affect your bills.

However, imagine running a computer operations center with 225+ servers in it. How much would you guess it costs?

Well, the head of such a center said that two years ago, his costs were around $10,000 a month, and at this point, it is up to around $35,000 a month!

With recent local developments such as the New York blackout last month, one has to wonder how much of a role computers are playing in it, and if the next frontier is not faster computers, but more energy efficient ones.

Article from the Toronto Star

Thursday, August 24, 2006


How many planets are in the solar system?

Well, everyone knows the answer to that, right? Nine.

Well, we're wrong.

Under new guidelines, Pluto is no longer a planet. In the words of Donald Trump (or Vince McMahon), Pluto, you're fired!


I guess the mnemonic device we used to remember planets has to be changed:
I was always taught to remember the planet order with the sentence:
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us New Peas
(representing the order of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)

I wonder if some smart company will get in on sponsorship of this:
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nabisco!
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nestea!
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nestle!

Brand recognition at it's finest! Companies pay to sponsor stadiums, why not mnemonic devices!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Free Stuff: Access to College Rankings through US News and World Report

US News and World Report typically charges for access to their extensive college rankings. However, Chrysler has teamed up with US News and World Report to offer it FREE for one year, if you sign up through the link below. This is an excellent tool that you can use especially if you are planning on transferring!

It's going to ask you to pick which of the three cars at the top is the Chrysler Aspen. It will give you hints if you mouse over the cars. Not hard.


EDIT: Due to popular demand, they've changed it to a contest. Still worth entering, especially if you have a junk email account.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Interesting Article: Celebs divorce taken public on MySpace

Yet another example of how the Internet is growing.

Travis Barker (of Blink 182) has filed for divorce from his wife, model Shanna Moakler. They both have blogged their sides of the story on their respective Myspace.com sites, taking the divorce to the public forum and basically embarassing no one except themselves.


Amazon is Down!

It looks like the Amazon.com site has been down for at least 10 minutes now. This is something I have seen out of many web sites, but never out of Amazon.

Any time I see something like this, I start to wonder if they've been hacked. The interesting part is that a 10 minute downtime can cost that company literally thousands of dollars of revenue!

We're sorry!
An error occurred when we tried to process your request. Rest assured, we're already working on the problem and expect to resolve it shortly.
If you were trying to make a purchase, please check Your Account to confirm that the order was placed.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Update: about 15 minutes of downtime, and it's back up, albeit slow and still reporting errors when you search for some things.

Can you make a living from sweepstakes?

This man did. On a Japanese reality show.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Interesting Article: Security Checkpoints to include Biometrics?

The US is testing some sort of device for possibly combatting terrorism at security checkpoints. They have a device that measures things like blood pressure, pulse, and sweat levels (which sounds a lot like a sort of lie detector).

Article at the Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free Stuff: Electronic Gaming Monthly

Again, an Electronic Gaming Monthy magazine subscription is free. I've signed up only using free offers over the last year and I have a subscription that runs through 2016!

Here's the latest link:

Interesting Link: Free Copy of Windows Vista Beta 2

Microsoft's new version of Windows, Vista, is still in Beta (testing). You can get a free copy by answering a short quiz on the Vista features. It's a basic quiz. I guessed my way through and got all 8 questions correct.

If you are interested in it and have at least 512 MB of memory to install it, I would encourage you to get a copy.

As one of my Wanaque students once said, "If it's free, it's for me."


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More Scholarships

As I've stated before, scholarships are a great thing to apply for. At worst, they say no, and at best, you pick up a little extra cash to help pay for school. This came across the email the other day. Keep in mind there are things for both CIS and non-CIS majors!

STRAIGHT FORWARD MEDIA SCHOLARSHIPS offers 22 different scholarships to students every year. Unless otherwise noted, all scholarships awards are $500 and students can apply four times per year. Each scholarship program is open to U.S. citizens and International Students attending community colleges and four-year colleges.

Some scholarships that are available are:

Dale E. Fridell Memorial Scholarship - Awarded twice per year, in the amount of $500.
Get Out of Debt Scholarship - Write a short essay about why you are in debt and why the scholarship will help you attend college.
Nursing School Scholarship - for future nurses.
Teacher Scholarship - for students planning to be a teacher -- of any kind at any level.
Engineering Scholarship - for students pursuing a engineering degree.
Law Enforcement Scholarship - for students studying to be in any facet of law enforcement, including police officers and correctional officers.
Law School Scholarship - for future attorneys, prosecutors and judges.
Media & Communications Scholarship - for the mass communications/media majors.
Medical Professions Scholarship - for those majoring in medical professions.
Minority Scholarship - for college students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups.
Science Scholarship - for students pursuing a degree in a science-related field.

For additional information and/or the application process, students can go to their website at:

Friday, August 11, 2006

Is it that time already?

I suppose it's time to start looking for books. If you are planning on buying your books online, NOW is the time to do it so you have the books before the first day of classes!

Interesting note: Amazon's Textbooks section has decent prices, and if you enter the coupon code TEXTBK06 when checking out, you get $15 off any order of $150 or more. Also, they typically offer free shipping on orders over $25.

Now, you may ask, how does one get the names of the books for the classes they are taking in the Fall?

Simple. Go to the school bookstore web site, select the course (for example, for CIS 152 E1, you would first select CIS as the department, click next, select 152, click next, and select ALL for the section and click next. You would then get this information:

Used $28.00 New $37.25
Author: LENGEL Edition: N/A

Used $58.25 New $77.50
Author: SCHNEIDER Edition: 7TH

Plugging that information in to Amazon, you would see the the Electronic Commerce text can be purchased for $60 in "Like New" condition. However, the Web Wizard text can be purchased for as little as $4.98.

Also keep in mind the bookstore typically "bundles" these, so that you can only buy all the books or none at all.

Also remember - if you are not sure about something (if the author or text name doesn't sound right, if it says "Special Edition" or something like that), ask a professor in that department!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Interesting Link: Scholarships

Scholarships (in other words, free money for school) are often times available for students. As I was the first person in my family to go to college, my parents hadn't really saved money for it, and as such, I didn't have a lot of money for school. Two scholarships, one from the State of NJ (Blounstein Scholarship) and another from Hackensack Hospital, helped me to pay for school.

Two scholarships recently came across my email. If you are interested in applying, read on. If either of these require a letter of recommendation, feel free to ask any of your professors (including me) for one. These two are specifically for students of Hispanic heritage, from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

College Scholarship Program - (Award amounts range from $1,000 to $3,000)

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a U.S. CITIZEN or a LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENT with permanent resident card or passport stamped I-551 (not expired).
  • Be an undergraduate enrolled FULL-TIME in a degree seeking program in an accredited U.S. College.
  • Have earned at least 12 UNDERGRADUATE CREDITS in an accredited U.S. College.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Have applied for FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID.

    Students can access an application at www.hsf.net. Application deadline is OCTOBER 15, 2006.

    Community College Transfer Scholarship Program - (Award amounts range from $1,000 to $2,500)

    Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a U.S. CITIZEN or a LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENT with permanent resident card or passport stamped I-551 (not expired).
  • Be enrolled part-time or full-time at a community college
  • Have plans to transfer and enroll FULL-TIME in a degree seeking program at a four-year accredited U.S. college.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Have applied for FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID.

    Student can access an application at www.hsf.net. Application deadline is FEBRUARY 1, 2007.
  • Interesting Article: AOL: We Charge Dead People

    AOL's previous policy did not allow people to close accounts without the answer to a security question. So, what happens when the person who owns that account (and knows the answer to that question) dies? Apparently, it leads to a year long fight, for one woman.


    Maxine Gauthier doesn't own a computer. She doesn't know the first thing about Web browsing or sending e-mail. She's not even sure where to find a computer's "on" button, as she describes it. Yet for the past nine months, she has been fighting one of the most persistent and some say irritating institutions in cyberspace: AOL, formerly known as America Online.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Interesting Article: Music Pirate Political Party!

    In Sweden, a group has established a political party called the Pirate Party. The interesting part is that this is becoming a party that is big enough to put themselves in a position to win some elections! Its target voters are "one million active file-sharers who are tired of being called criminals."


    Interesting Site: Get Human

    Someone has put together a list of hard to find phone numbers for companies, as well as a way to get a human on the line. I am sure we have all had the frustrating experience of having to deal with automated menus. My main complaint is when they have you enter something to the automated system, and then when you connect to a human, you have to give them the information again! But I digress. gethuman.com is a nice little site to bookmark.


    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Interesting News: AOL goes free??

    AOL has decided to offer their services for free, if you have a broadband (DSL/Cable) connection. An interesting move for a company that was at one point almost a synonym for the word "Internet" among newcomers.


    Monday, July 31, 2006

    Interesting Site: Free Computing Quick Reference Guides

    As someone who has worked as a programmer in many different languages (C, C++, Ada, Perl, Visual Basic, Java, etc etc etc), I have always found it hard to go from one language to another quickly at times. I program for months in Ada and then get called to update a Perl script, all while teaching Basic, so my languages all kind of mingled together. I found it quite useful to have quick reference guides handy. Apparently, so did this person, who has created a site devoted to some of the languages out there:


    From his site: Throughout the years I have collected a huge pile of documents that deal with almost every aspect of software development. The purpose of this site is to centralize this information and to make it available to everyone who may need it or shares my passion on this subject. There are still a lot of documents in my "archive" that I like to share with you all.
    At the moment this site represents only a fraction of what I want to provide, so a lot of work still needs to be done. As a result, you should consider this site as a work in progress. I'll try to keep you updated on the most challenging, powerful and continuously evolving software technologies of the moment. I hope that especially Java and C++ fanatics (like myself) will find some valuable information over here.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Interesting Article: 10 Dumb Technology Ideas from 2006

    Knockoff Razr Phones? Playing polo on Segway scooters? People always find interesting ways to misuse technology. Read on...

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    Tech News: Microsoft to take on iPod

    Microsoft has decided to battle Apple yet again...this time, for the dominance of portable media. Microsoft announced information about their long-rumored iPod type device, called a "Zune".

    Microsoft confirms 'iPod Killer'

    Microsoft said on Friday it plans to release a new music and entertainment player and accompanying software under the "Zune" brand this year, in a belated attempt to challenge the dominance of Apple's iPod player.


    Interesting Article: Watch What You Type!

    Another case of people's blogging costing them their job!!!

    A woman working for a CIA contractor lost her job when she posted negative things about the US's torture policy in a blog on the CIA intranet.


    The day of the last post, Axsmith said, after reading a newspaper report that the CIA would join the rest of the U.S. government in according Geneva Conventions rights to prisoners, she posted her views on the subject. It started, she said, something like this: "Waterboarding is Torture and Torture is Wrong."

    It's amazing that this sort of thing keeps happening.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Interesting Article: Using Google to Find Malware Source Code

    It is interesting how many applications find for Google. For example, someone created a search engine that allows you to find the source code for virii (viruses) and other types of malware.

    Article at E-week

    H.D. Moore, creator of the Metasploit hacking tool and the security researcher behind the MoBB (Month of Browser Bugs) project, has released a search engine that finds live malware samples through Google queries.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Microsoft Office Macintosh Version: ~$79 after rebate

    I am giving a few workshops at Montclair on PowerPoint, and I was discussing pricing on the Microsoft Office suite (Microsoft makes a student/teacher edition available at a lower cost). It turns out that Amazon is having a sale on it, for around $79 after rebate:

    Microsoft Office for the Macintosh

    The PC Version of it is ~$129 on Amazon:
    Microsoft Office (PC Version)

    Interesting Article: Microsoft Fined More Money than I will make in my lifetime

    The European Union is much tougher on Microsoft than the United States is. They just fined Microsoft $357 million dollars for not complying with a 2004 ruling, and plan on fining them more if the things they want are not taken care of soon.

    It's a tough line between being a monopoly and good business, isn't it?


    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    State of NJ shutdown

    It's interesting that the state has shut down. Some things I find interesting:

    1) They posted a list of who has to report to work on the state Web site. Interestingly enough, many of the Information Technology workers are considered "essential" now!

    2) For those of you with expiring licenses, the state extended their expiration dates.

    3) No, it does not affect me.

    Happy Fourth!

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Link: Soprano Sue

    Some of you who have taken classes at PCCC in the evenings may remember "Soprano Sue". She has a great web site for all things Sopranos at:


    If you've seen the autographed pictures on my wall, this is the source. Her site is a must see for Sopranos fans, and notice she correctly capitalizes the word "Internet" in her blog.

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Interesting Article: Veterans Eligible for Testing Fee Reimbursement

    Speaking of Veterans...Veterans are eligible for reimbursement of testing fees through the Department of Veteran's Affairs. If you are an IT major, this is an excellent way to get some certifications, for little to no cost!

    It's clear from the article that they feel computer training is important:

    In jobs from mechanics and installers to medical technicians to therapists to computer network engineers to web site developers, it’s clear that certifications play a key role. You can receive reimbursement of up to $2,000 per test but not more than the actual cost of the test. You can receive benefits to retake a test if you fail. The number of tests you can take is unlimited, except that you can’t receive benefits to retake a test you passed.


    Interesting Article: VA Recovers Stolen Laptop

    The theft of a laptop containing the Social Security Numbers of 26.5 million U.S. veterans (original post here) has been recovered. The part that is most interesting is that even though the Veteran's Affairs group initially reported that the laptop wasn't supposed to be brought home, apparently someone gave permission for them to. It bothers me that government agencies will give out false information like that, and then later on, after everyone forgets about the story, correct themselves when fewer people are watching.

    The article also states that newly discovered documents show the VA analyst blamed for losing the laptop had received permission to work from home on data that included millions of Social Security numbers.


    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Interesting Article: Cyberbullying

    The United States CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) has an article up about cyberbullying. If you've been in a chat room, you've no doubt seen someone engaging in this type of behavior.

    Cyberbullying refers to the new, and growing, practice of using technology to harass, or bully, someone else. Bullies used to be restricted to methods such as physical intimidation, postal mail, or the telephone. Now, developments in electronic media offer forums such as email, instant messaging, web pages, and digital photos to add to the arsenal. Computers, cell phones, and PDAs are new tools that can be applied to an old practice.


    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Interesting Article: Internet Statistics

    89% of adult Internet users in the United States share content with others using email. A full 63% share content weekly or more often.

    Women; especially those women in their late 30’s and easily 40’s tend to be the biggest viral forwarders of content.

    Note that "viral" in this context doesn't mean "virus" - it means they tend to replicate emails through forwarding.


    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Interesting Web Link: Great Google Searches for Free Certification Study Guides

    Someone has taken the time to compile a set of links to study guides for some of the different computer certification exams that are out there. It's actually a nice site to find some interesting tutorials (trainings), but this post in particular I thought could be of use to some of those CIS students out there.

    Note that they don't seem to have a link for the MOS exams at this time.


    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Interesting Articles: Myspace Teen flies abroad to meet a man

    I think the parents come across as rather ignorant in this one.

    A 16-year-old girl who tricked her parents into getting her a passport and then flew to the Mideast to be with a man she met on MySpace.com has returned to Michigan.


    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Free Stuff: Another One Year Print Subscription to Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine

    I am not sure why Electronic Gaming Monthly is available for free all over the place all of a sudden, but there is another free year. If you already subscribed, don't worry - you will end up with two years worth of subscriptions.


    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Scholarship Opportunity: R&D Council of NJ

    The deadline for the Research and Development Council of NJ scholarship has been extended until June 9. If they are extending the deadline, it's probably because they are looking for applicants! From the email I received:

    This application is for students presently attending a New Jersey community college who have at least one term (12 credits) completed in a technology major and who have at least one full year (24-30 credits) to complete for a degree. A transcript of grades and a letter of reference must accompany this application.

    Email me and I can forward the materials I received via email.

    Hey, it can't hurt to apply!

    Saturday, May 27, 2006

    Interesting Article: Teens arrested in alleged MySpace extortion scheme

    MySpace is an interesting idea. It's a social networking site, but there are some very odd uses people have found for it. I've heard of people issuing threats, getting fired, and other such things, but this article is one I had never heard of. Basically, two teens allegedly tried to extort the site for $150,000.


    Two New York teenagers have been arrested and charged with attempting to extort $150,000 from MySpace, the popular community Web site. MySpace discovered the intrusion earlier this year and blocked it. The Los Angeles-based company also reported the incident to authorities. During the course of the investigation, threats were made that unless $150,000 was paid, new exploit code would be released, according to the statement.

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Free Stuff: ANOTHER One Year Print Subscription to Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine

    Here's another one year free print subscription to Electronic Gaming Monthly. If you keep filling out these forms, the subscription will be extended (i.e. fill out previous offer, then this one, and you now have two years).


    X-Men 3 Tonight!

    I am looking forward to X-Men 3 tonight. It is interesting how many of these issues in the movie can apply to other groups in our society. This article mentions some of the parallels between the mutant/human battle and some of the "repressed groups" in our society.

    If nothing else, the special effects should be very interesting. I have been looking forward to this one for a while.

    Trouble surfaces in the form of a pharmaceutical company that claims to have found a "cure" for mutants. One injection and their power -- as well as their sometimes bizarre appearance -- is gone, permanently.


    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    PCCC Graduation

    Today was graduation at PCCC. Congratulations to all graduates! By my count, there were 37 of my former students in the graduating class, including one of the valedictorians. The saludatorian was an Information Technology major that I've seen around as well.

    It's truly gratifying to watch former students graduate, and believe it or not, it's what many of the faculty are really here for.

    Congratulations, PCCC Class of 2006!

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Free Stuff: One Year Print Subscription to Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine

    There are some sites out there that give out free subscriptions to magazines. Here is one I came across. This is a free, one year subscription to Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine. I've signed up for this one myself!

    UPDATE: 06/01/06 - Deal is now dead :(

    Technology: USB flash drive watch

    Some companies are starting to take a different approach to USB flash drives. For example, some companies have decided to create a USB drive that doubles as a watch. I know I have had some students lose their USB flash drives. However, if it were attached to your wrist as a watch, would you lose it? (Maybe, and then you would lose your watch too, and I suppose that would be bad.)

    It's an interesting idea, at least.


    Interesting Link: How strong is your password?

    Many people use very simple passwords, such as the name of their children, their middle name, or something else that is very basic. Sadly, these passwords are about as secure as closing a door without locking it. Certain hacking tools or a smart social engineer can guess these passwords very quickly. Microsoft has a free password checker online, which will rate the strength of your password:


    Interesting Article: Public Nannycams

    One of the trade publications I read is called Network World. They have a columnist named Scott Bradner who writes some really interesting articles. Here is one from late 2005.

    Recently, there has been a trend of secretly video taping nannies. To make it even easier to check, many people use the features of their video cameras to put them up on the Web. Since many people have high speed Internet these days, this is not very hard to do. The only problem is that most home users don't deal with security, and leave them open for ANYONE to view.

    Because the nannies tended to work in places where the homeowners also frequented, unless the homeowners took care to remember the camera was there, potentially embarrassing images could be on the 'Net for the taking.

    Recommended Viewing: Pirates of Silicon Valley

    If you ever wondered what happened between Apple and Microsoft - seriously, how could Microsoft be expected to win, when Apple came out with a graphical user interface before Microsoft? - this movie will explain it all. You have Steve Jobs, the leader of Apple, a brilliant visionary...who also happens to trip on LSD and have an illegitimate child that he refuses to support. You have Bill Gates, a college dropout, who takes an idea for an operating system and builds it...except that he didn't build it, he bought it from someone. Gates later creates Windows...except that he didn't come up with that idea, he stole it from Apple (who stole it from Xerox). If nothing else, it's funny to see today's "richest man in the world" in the days when he didn't know how to dress himself.

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Recommended Reading: The Art of Deception

    Kevin Mitnick is one of the most feared hackers of all times. However, his computer skills were secondary to his social engineering skills. Basically, he could talk people in to giving him information they should not be giving him, AND THEY DIDN'T NOTICE A PROBLEM. This still goes on today.

    The ISBN for this book is 0471237124.

    Interesting Article: Online Game (Everquest) to Blame for a Suicide

    Everquest is an online game in which people create fantasy characters. They use these characters to role play, increase skills, learn magic, and gain levels. In 2002, a 21 year old name Shawn Wooley committed suicide, and his mom feels it had to do with this game. People have taken to calling the game "Evercrack" for it's addictive qualities.

    Last Thanksgiving, Shawn, 21, committed suicide. His mother found him at his apartment. He had shot himself at his computer. On the screen was the online computer game, Everquest.

    Interesting Article: Personal Data of 26.5M Veterans Stolen

    Sometimes, it is not only hackers you have to worry about, it's the people who work for a company. For example, this article, from May 2006, discusses how 26.5 million veterans had their personal information compromised because someone brought home data he was not supposed to.


    Personal data, including Social Security numbers of 26.5 million U.S. veterans, was stolen from a Veterans Affairs employee this month after he took the information home without authorization, the department said Monday.

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    Hello World

    What was the inspiration for putting this blog together?

    On May 19, 2006, I attended a workshop at NJCU at a Title V sponsored workshop entitled New Literacies, Subject to Change.

    The presenter, Dr. Christopher Shamburg of NJCU, gave me some interesting ideas that I hope to integrate in to my courses in the future.

    This blog is the first step. My intent is to post articles, recommended movies and books, useful utilities, and even free stuff.