Thursday, February 28, 2008

Registering your Web site

Registering a domain name (for example, is usually a simple process. You go to one of the companies that provide the registration service, pay a small fee, and in a few days the Web site is live around the world.

One of the companies many people recognize is, they of the risqué SuperBowl advertisements, is one of the companies that provides this service. Another one is Network Solutions. I always liked Network Solutions, because I trusted them as an established company. However, they have apparently been engaging in some shady business practices recently.

According to a number of articles that have recently popped up on the Web, if you used Network Solutions' free service to check if a domain name was available, they would also reserve that domain name. The result? By using their free service, they found out you had an interest in a domain name, and they would reserve it, thereby forcing you to purchase it from them.

At BEST, that's really shady. At worst, that is fraud and punishable by all sorts of bad things. Is it really fraud? Three days ago, someone filed a lawsuit against them.

Link to early article
Article about Network Solutions being sued

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PowerPoint shortcut keys (hotkeys)

I was a little surprised that I never posted this link, actually...

Hotkeys (or keyboard shortcuts) are one of the best ways to make yourself more efficient in a program. For example, tonight in my CIS 127 course, we were doing hyperlinks in PowerPoint. Part of it entailed creating something, and then putting it on ten slides.

Rather than copy and then move down a slide, right click, and then paste, move down a slide, right click and paste, etc., it can be much quicker to move down a slide and use the hotkey, control+V (hold down control, and hit the V key).

I'd never say it makes sense to memorize every hotkey in the program - that would be silly. Instead, I would say that if there is something you do often, you can make yourself more productive by finding the hotkey for it. If you find yourself clicking around, poke around for a hotkey. It's probably there.

PowerPoint hotkeys

Monday, February 25, 2008

Microsoft to stop supporting HD-DVD

And the dominoes continue to fall...

Microsoft has announced that, since Toshiba has given up on HD-DVD, they are also planning on doing so.

If anyone was considering moving to high definition DVDs, this is the last big company that was standing in the way of Blu-ray taking over the world. Heck, it's on Wikipedia, so it must be true, right?

Microsoft stopping HD-DVD support article

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Site Update: Want Email?

I've enabled a feature to allow you to receive my blog updates via email if you'd like. You can find this feature on the right hand side. If you enter your email address, you will receive a daily email with the new stuff I've added to the site, through a Web service called FeedBurner. Don't worry, they are owned by Google, so they are about as trustworthy as you can expect a site to be!

Elmo says KILL JAMES

There is a new Elmo toy that can learn to say a child's name. That's a very cool feature!

However, one family has a doll that very clearly adds something a little disturbing.

It says "Kill James!"


Link to Story

Link to video

Friday, February 22, 2008

Free image editing tool

The program Photoshop, by Adobe, is widely considered one of the most powerful tools to edit images. The problem for most home users is that it is $650 for the basic edition. This cost rules out most home users buying this program.

Most people, when they get a digital camera, will get some sort of program to do image editing, but they are often very limited. In addition, Windows does come with a program called Paint. Paint is very limited as well.

However, for those of you who are interested in stepping up to a higher level of photo editing, there is a free program called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation program). I've personally used this program since 1999, and it is right up there with the expensive programs in terms of flexibility.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Look to the skies tonight

Ladies and gentlemen,

Tonight should be a very interesting night in the skies above us.

First of all, the US Government will be shooting down a spy satellite. They'll apparently be taking three shots at it, and I am sure lots of amateur video will be taken of it.

You can track the status on:
this Web site

There will also be a lunar eclipse tonight. These are relatively rare, though not as rare as solar eclipses. The moon should be lighting up soon (around 10 PM).

Link to story

Monday, February 18, 2008

Site Updates: Favorite Sites

I figured that I would add links to some of my favorite sites on the right hand side. As of now, I've only added Amazon and The Simple Dollar, but I will definitely add more as time goes on.


Reuters is reporting Toshiba is dropping the HD DVD format, which would basically be the end of the competing high definition DVD formats (or DVD Wars). Toshiba was one of the companies that backed this format from the beginning, and is generally considered to be the largest producer of these devices.

It looks like the competing Blu-Ray has just about won this war. There will be days when kids will say "What the heck was HD-DVD" just like many of you may say "What the heck was BetaMax".

For those of you a little less technically savvy, note that this doesn't have anything to do with HDTV, that's an entirely different issue.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

All Nighter Tips

I've been there before. The day before a paper is due, I've stayed up all night working on it. I've also done this in the work world (at my former company, not at PCCC). Let's face it. Staying up overnight stinks. But, if you have to, it's good to know the answer to this question:

What are some strategies to stay effective when you have to stay up all night?

Note that this isn't to suggest that you SHOULD stay up all night working on something, but if the situation calls for it, it has some tips to keep you effective and focused.

I found this Web site through one of my favorite blogs, The Simple Dollar.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New media and you

What I always find interesting is how technology changes our lives without anyone really noticing.

For example, over two years ago, there was the subway bombings in London. This was one of the first times video cell phones became a valuable reporting tool. News crews could not get down there, but people who were trapped could send the footage in to TV stations, and did.

Now, let's take a look at this situation.

A 14 year old skateboard kid claims a police officer was a jerk and hit him. The police officer claims this isn't the truth. Who do you believe? Well, in this case, one of the kid's friends happened to have his cell phone with him, and recorded it. It's ended up on Youtube, and as a result, the police officer has been suspended.

I really feel like there is no way the police would have believed this kid without this video.

Link to video

Link to news story

Just another example of how technology changes the world, one day at a time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Writer Strike - Over!

If you haven't noticed, many TV shows have not had new episodes in a while. This was in large part to the TV writers striking.

How does this tie in to my interests? In addition to depriving me of new episodes of House M.D., it was also interesting to me to see why the writers were striking. The main reason they were striking was over new media revenue streams - in other words, the Internet. The writers are concerned that as time goes on, the Internet will become a place to make money, and their contracts didn't provide them any of the revenue from that.

Anyway, the contract they've signed has provided them with contractual protection in case that the Internet starts becoming a real money making medium. It is a very forward thinking reason to strike, and I am glad they have protected themselves. I am also glad that House M.D. will be back on soon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lemons in soft drinks

A friend and colleague, Anne Loving from PCCC's Science Department, did a study on germs and other icky things. She's a microbiologist, so this is one of the areas she is knowledgeable about. The interesting twist? It's something that applies to many of us who eat at restaurants - are there germs and bacteria in the lemons they put in soft drinks?

The study has gotten her (and PCCC) some recognition - she's been interviewed by a number of radio stations via telephone, and a 90 second video clip was posted on - it is worth checking out, and it certainly has me thinking differently about asking for lemons at a diner!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cool Software: Foxmarks

If you're a more advanced user, you've probably downloaded and installed Mozilla Firefox for your Web browsing convenience and safety.

One of the drawbacks to the main competitor, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, is that Internet Explorer is a Microsoft product and therefore only open to what people at Microsoft deem important. This sort of cripples innovation on some level. If you're a young software engineer at Microsoft with a great idea, it might get pushed off in favor of more pressing issues.

Firefox is an open-source program, which in part means that anyone with some computer programming ability can create a program to do things and contribute it to the project. Some of these are incorporated directly in the program; others are known by other names such as plug-ins, add-ons, or extensions.


My favorite add-on has to be one called Foxmarks. Basically, what are called "Favorites" in Internet Explorer are called "Bookmarks" in Firefox. This program will synchronize your bookmarks. In other words, instead of having different bookmarks on your home computer, work computer, and other computers you might use, Foxmarks will let you have the same bookmarks on all the machines that you use. It does require the software to be installed on each machine, but once it's set up, it makes life just so much easier.

The best part? Like the Firefox browser and most add-ons, it's free.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dear Microsoft, keep your $44.6 billion, love, Yahoo!

Just a quick follow up to the post about Microsoft attempting to purchase Yahoo!

Yahoo's board of directors apparently feels that the offering price of $44.6 billion is not enough, so they've declined the offer. Will Microsoft come back with a better offer? Who knows. At this point, however, Microsoft has been defeated in their bid to acquire Yahoo! for the second time in two years.

There are other roads Microsoft can go down, including a hostile takeover.

(PS: Yahoo! is supposed to be spelled with the exclamation point - someone else apparently holds the patent on the business name Yahoo, so Yahoo! added an exclamation point. True story.)

Photoshop Tutorials

Someone's put out a series of Photoshop tutorials (training) - with a twist. It's basically half comedy and half training. There are currently five of them - they are advanced enough that even I've learned things from them.

Rumor has it that the guy doing the voice-overs is comedian Dane Cook.

The series called You Suck at Photoshop, and it's definitely NSFW (not safe for work) - don't click if you are easily offended!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Check your Internet connection speed

For those of you who are a little less technically savvy, your Internet speed is made up of two measurements: your upload speed and your download speed. The most important of these numbers to most home users is the download speed - you're not doing a lot of uploading (sending of files) when compared with the amount of downloads you are doing. There are some people who might have a legitimate need for more upload speed, but that's usually not a big percentage of folks. If they have a need, they can always pay more for a faster Internet connection.


There are a bunch of factors that can affect your speed. Some of them you can control (are you running AOL instant messenger while downloading files and browsing the Internet - if so, that's going to slow down everything). There are others you cannot control. Things like quality of your phone line/cable connection and the activity in your area can slow things down.

Once in a while, I will run through a speed test from one of the Web sites that will test your Internet speed for free. The funny part is that different sites have different ways of measuring your connection speed, so you may get different results from different sites.

You can give this a try at the following Web site address, and compare it to what your Internet Service Provider (ISP) advertises. If they aren't close, you might want to give them a call. After all, you're entitled to what you're paying for, right?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Information, Please

Many people know that if you want directory assistance (a phone number, for example), you can dial 411 from any phone.

The problem is, with many providers, it costs money, especially when you use a cell phone to do it. Ironically enough, that's usually when you need to use 411.

A few years ago, a company came out with a free version of that, but the problems included the fact that you could not be directly connected to someone, and also the fact that you had to listen to advertisements.

This is definitely not new news, but it may be new to some of you - Google has a free service called GOOG-411 that you can use. Dial 1-800-GOOG411 (1-800-466-4411) from any phone and you'll be able to get directory assistance for free, get connected automatically, and no ads. Also, they can send you a text message with this information if you have a special need for it.

I've got this programmed in my phone for the times I need it. Just another cool service from the folks at Google.

Robotic Gas Attendant?

A company has developed a robot that is supposed to open the gas tank of a car, unscrew the cap, and insert the nozzle in to the gas tank. The price for each would be somewhere around $111,000 USD. That sounds like a lot, but if you didn't have to pay for any employees, that really would be a savings eventually.

Now, having said that...

I do have a lot of questions about the technology they are discussing, and I really have trouble believing that it would work the way it is described. It's supposed to look up the car in a database and based on that know which side of the car the gas tank is on, as well as where on the vehicle.

It's another one of those things that at the moment seems really hard to believe, but in ten years might be commonplace.

Link to Reuters Article

Not that this is really a big deal for those of us living in New Jersey, since we have full service gas stations...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Free Application Fee @ Felician

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As someone who has dealt with Felician in the past, they've sent me a certificate for an application fee waiver. In other words, if you are planning on applying, you won't have to pay the application fee. It's good through June 2008.

I only have one of these, so if you are planning on applying to Felician College any time soon, email me and it is yours.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl Advertisements

First of all, please allow me to be a fan and say


I am a fan of the team and was thrilled to see them win a great game last night.

Now that that's out of the of the things the Super Bowl is known for, aside from football, is the advertisements. There have been a lot of famous ads in Super Bowl history, and advertisers usually pay a lot of money for the ads. This most of the time will mean they are well done and often funny.

If you'd like to take a look at the Super Bowl ads, the advertisers were smart enough to post them online this year for everyone to view. They've put them on Myspace:

Definitely worth checking out, even if you're not a football fan. I recommend the Bud Light "Breathe Fire" ad.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Microsoft and Yahoo to merge?

This is a huge story, both in the name of the participants and in the money involved.

Microsoft has apparently made an offer to buy Yahoo. This would really set the stage for Microsoft to battle Google to the death.

Oh, and the price tag? Microsoft has apparently offered $44.6 BILLION ($44,600,000,000) US dollars worth of stock and cash.

A bold move by Microsoft...the world awaits Yahoo's response.

I really am about as surprised as I have been by technology news as I have been in a long time.