Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Podcast: You WILL install Internet Explorer 7

Phil Yanov (that's me) talks to Eric Rodgers about your impending and possibly involuntary installation of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.

We'll be back live on the radio on September 14.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Death to the CAPS LOCK key...

I want to publicly support this long overdue effort. I can't remember the last time the CAPS LOCK key did something useful for me. I hit it inadvertantly many times a day, but I can't remember ever hitting it on purpose except when I am in the act of disabling it after an accidental activation.

Learn more about this effort at the CAPSoff blog, or join the discussion at the Google Group.



Attack of the Glow in the Dark Cube Zombies!

I work in a small office where the people are nice, but I know plenty of people who work in companies large enough to have attracted at least a few cube zombies that might look like these...

Another cute idea from Archie McPhee.

qv: Cube Zombies

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Skype 2.5 is easier to use...

Skype 2.5 is here...

I've been using Skype more and more for long distance calls from work. It's not because the calls are cheap, they are actually free. I use Skype because I make a lot of calls to a lot of different people and Skype is conveneient (mostly) pushbutton telephony. If I have called someone before, I can save them to my contacts in Skype and then call them with a single press of a button next time. It's quick, convenient and the call quality is remarkably good most of the time.

While I have used it for a lot of calls and it works pretty well, it had some rough edges. It appears that these rough edges have been addressed in version 2.5, which was released today.

Skype 2.5 makes calling easier...

One of my few complaints about this has been that I have had to copy and paste phone numbers into the dial line, and I have had to manually add the country code for numbers in the US. So I jump into Outlook, copy the number from the appropriate field, go to the Skype dial line, and then press +1, paste the number, and then press enter to begin the dial. It's easy, but tedious yet I have gotten pretty good at it. The new features in Skype 2.5 eliminate all of the tedious bits.

What's new in Skype 2.5?

* Easier to call ordinary phones
* View and call Outlook contacts directly

Easier to call ordinary phones means that I no longer have to key in country codes. Skype assumes that I am calling the country I live in. It still gives me the flexibility to easily place an international call, but it doesn't make me key in the code for the USA which thus far has been 100% of my calls. I like this a lot.

View and call Outlook contacts directly is a new feature that actually allows you to view your Outlook contacts in Skype. It isn't well documented, but you can find the menu option if you look. Under the contacts menu there is an option to View Outlook Contacts. If you turn the option on, Skype will then populate your contacts list as you see in the picture to the right. It adds all of your Outlook contacts to the dial list and keeps them updated. As I have a lot of contacts in my Outlook, it made this list quite long very quickly. I would have been upset at the change if it weren't for the search box at the bottom. I just need to start typing in the first name of the person I am looking for and Skype will zoom over to the contacts that match. I like it, especially since I can turn the Outlook contacts on and off at will.

qv: Skype

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Video: WYFF - Buyer Beware - Caller-ID Spoofing

Your telephone rings and the call appears to be from your bank, based on the caller ID display. But is it really?

We sure hope it is, but Voice over IP (VoIP) has made Caller-ID spoofing child's play. In fact, you can even pull a prank using various websites which involves making it appear that a prank phone call is comgin from some number other than your own. (like the Snakes on a Plane prank.) If you're like most people, you may have never given this a thought, but the number and name you see on your Caller-ID may not be who you think it it. See Tim Waller's story as it appeared on WYFF-TV. (ps: the video features my mother's favorite son.)

Click on Tim Waller's picture to view the video!

qv: WYFF-TV - Buyer Beware: Caller ID Spoofing

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Podcast: Free AOL, Mac v. PC, Converting to Mac, Antivirus!

This podcast is of our live radio show which first aired statewide on August 10, 2006 across the South Carolina Educational Radio Network. The show features Phil Yanov and Eric Rodgers as we take calls regarding PC, Internet, and technology isssues.

  1. AOL is offering their services for FREE.
  2. AOL is offering 5 GB of storage for FREE
  3. Phil's hair is on FIRE about AOL releasing the private searches of it's users.
Callers we spoke to:
  1. Edwin wants to connect to the internet via his cell phone.
  2. Gene asks if it is better to turn his computer off, put it on standby, or leave it run.
  3. Gail in Rutherfordton, NC asks about her Gateway with 96 MB of RAM. She has no Firewall. Should she use Spybot? What does she need to be protected. Phil says that no one wants a dial-up zombie. He may be wrong about that. We recommend Firefox.
  4. John asks the age old question - Which is better? PC or Mac? How can he do both or convert? We suggest he get a dual interface drive with both USB and Firewire.
  5. Rod reminds us that connecting to a cell phone requires a USB data cable.
  6. Max is a Mac convert. When he hooks up his Western Digital drive to his Mac it looks read-only. Eric says it's the file system. We suggest the not very clever reformat technique.
And then we took some callers off the air...
  1. Harry is a belt and suspenders kind of guy. He is using Earthlink and Norton's antivirus. He defrags his computer monthly, but wants a way to speed up his computer. We agree that this software really does slow the machine down. Using just what you need and nothing more is a help. Phil says trim it back. Eric says leave it alone! Phil suggests Windows Defender as a spyware protection program. Harry wants to clean his registry but doesn't want to spend the money. We suggest removing Norton as a start.
  2. Sue moved from Internet Explorer to Firefox. She has a new problem now. Her screen resolution is changing when she connects to the internet. Huh?
  3. Reed is burning movies in Nero 7. It isn't fast enough to suit him. He wants to know how to upgrade his computer so he can use his computer to do other things while he is encoding and recording movies. We suggest two computers. One to burn, one to surf while you burn. We then suggest loading the browser in memory before you start the burn.
And then we're done....

Thanks for listening. We'll be back live on the radio on September 14.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Make any website "work friendly"

Just the other day one of the famous folks in town was telling me that he couldn't do needed research at work because his corporate webmaster filtered his internet. Between the internet cops watching you and someone looking over your shoulder from the next cubical, it can be difficult to visit certain websites during the work day, just when you need relief the most.

What we need is a boss key like we had in the game software of yesteryear. In the days of yore game makers knew that PC games were probably being played on computers at work. They also knew that it probably was not a good idea to be caught doing so. As a defense, they often included a single keystroke that would pause the game and make it look like you are working on a spreadsheet with some really boring numbers.

It turns out that is doing nearly the same thing for web pages.

Work Friendly strips web pages of their fun, graphic, and possibly employer offending elements and makes any web page look like a MS-Word document. How boring! How clever!

Check it out... in a "normal" browser:

Woof! You'd never want that up on your screen at work, especially if you are guy.

Now lets see... made "work friendly":

Bingo! It's plain and boring, but still has all of the links and all of the text. Just what the HR department ordered in that class you said you paid attention to.

If it can make popsugar look clean just imagine what it will do for ESPN, NBC, or Give it a whirl. Let us know how it saves you.


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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Find the King -- win $3 Million

The 29th year of the passing of the King from public life has come and gone. Although it is marked on my personal calendar, I am sad to say it went unmarked on this blog. For that, I apologize.

I love the King, and I know he loves me.

I can redeem myself of this transgression however, by passing along a wonderful bit of news. is offering $3 Million to the first person providing proof that the King is alive. It seems that some Hollywood film makers came up with the dough in order to coax the king out of hiding so that they could create one last film tribute to him.

If you know where he is, please let them know. If not for the money, then for us, his eternally faithful fans...


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Google's FREE word processor returns - hail Writely!

I use Google's search, spreadsheet, mail, maps, and occasionally calendar, but I missed out on the original registration period for Writely, their free, web-based word processor. They re-opened registration today, so now you and I can go see what all the fuss is about. I just popped over a bit ago and noticed that I indeed can sign up, but it isn't very GOOGLE-like. I couldn't log in using my google name and password and the screens and feel are not much like the google experience. I know that they are going to integrate the login procedures soon and I can't help but believe that they will get Writely google-fied in its user interface soon as well.

Don't get me wrong. Writely looks good and seems to work well. It just isn't Googly enough to suit me.

qv: Writely registration is now open

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A picture of the Zune...

Finally a large photo of the ipod killer...

Giz has a picture of one of Microsoft's Zune prototypes. I guess it looks like it has a bigger screen than the ipod. I'm looking forward to a Microsoft alternative to the Apple units. I know I'm talking crazy, but it seems that only Microsoft is big enough to break the Apple monopoly on devices. Actually, I don't care about breaking up Apple's monopoly, what I want is something that plays well on my existing Windows PCs. I rather like the WMA format. It compresses well, it sounds good, and it plays on every portable sound device I have ever owned. Go Bill!

qv: Gizmodo

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A cool way to fly over Google Maps -- with Goggles

Goggles is a very rudimentary flight simulator that lets you fly over some very well known areas in a cartoon biplane. It's awfully cute and quite a bit of fun. The perfect way to kill a few minutes and see the sights from the air. Not only is it a lot cheaper than a helicopter tour, it actually lets you fire guns at the passing monuments. (Not that you would do that.)

I know you are not going to pay attention once you get to the site, so let me point out the controls now:
  • Up - Up Arrow
  • Down - Down Arrow
  • Left - Left Arrow
  • Right - Right Arrow
Now for the tricky part:
  • Faster - A
  • Slower - Z
  • Fire - Space

qv: Goggles

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Giant Robot Pandas (with English subtitles)

I really can't say how many of you have written and asked for videos of Giant Robot Pandas.

While in America Giant Robot Pandas are scarce and scarcely heard from, it turns out that the Japanese love Giant Robot Pandas.

I suppose it might be a referendum on our culture, or it might simply be that the World Wildlife Federation, who has as their logo a non-giant, non-robotic, panda has successfully infected the japanese zeitgeist. Based on my very unscientific, very casual, some might almost say non-existent research project, I have come to the incredible conclusion that millions of Japanese now feel an intense affection for all things Panda.

I can only assume the the World Wildlife Federation's ugly run-in with the organization formerly known as the World Wrestling Foundation has made it much more difficult for giant robot pandas to catch on in the US. As best I can tell, the American public, at large, remains mostly unaffected by a desire for giant robot pandas. Still, despite the fact that giant robot pandas have not yet gone mainstream in the US, there is still a significant minority clamoring for them. It also seems that a significant portion of that minority, one might even call it a preponderance of those mecha afficianados gather here.

We welcome you and offer you the following:


Vishing Attacks on the rise

Like "phishing" e-mails that try to fool you into giving up your personal information, vishing e-mails include a clever new twist....

The video from yesterday's interview of Phil Yanov (me) with WYFF-TV is now on the web. Click on Tim Waller's picture to view the video!

qv: WYFF-TV - 'Vishing' Attacks On The Rise

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

WYFF Interview with Tim Waller

Tim Waller of WYFF-TV came by today and conducted a couple of interviews. One of which will be broadcast today, the other at some future date. We talked about phishing, vishing, and caller-id spoofing. Just when you thought it was safe to use your computer (or telephone) there comes along something that makes you nervous about answering your phone. Hopefully we'll keep someone from falling in the trap. Education works to reduce the effect of these attacks. We'll just keep beating the drum in hopes of making it not worth the while of the bad guys trying to take what does not belong to them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Test your Internet connection speed

Test your bandwidth and look cool while you do it. The internet connection test at lets you choose the server you want to use for the test and saves your results for later comparison. It's long been my belief that most broadband internet service providers are probably not delivering the bandwidth they sold me. Now, I can know for sure.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Be cool with Snakes - Get Sam Jackson to make the call

You can pump up your cool factor by having (the impersonated voice of) Samuel L. Jackson deliver a personal and personalized voice message to your more technically challenged friends. Sure he's pitching his latest movie, but it's Sammy. He's cool.

Do This: Have Samuel L. Jackson make the call...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Please excuse me while I take this call

Going to some event where you might need a safety call, but you've run out of friends or your friends just aren't that reliable? Never fear! You can have give you the call on a schedule that you choose. Simply go to the website, tell it what kind of call you'd like to receive and if you'd prefer a male or female voice to ask the questions.

Please remember the website's following request: is a service meant for alleviating awkward social situations and creating confidence in its users. Please do not abuse it.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pay your software bill or the Giant Robot will keep your car!

It's more like a tape jockey robot than Robby the Robot, but Robotic Parking got into a dispute with the Garden Street Garage in Hoboken, NJ and decided to SUSPEND operations -- with cars still in the garage.

The garage is one of those automated places that stacks cars up on shelves in order to get the most out of their very limited space. It would seem that it has been plagued by difficultiues both mechanical and personal since it opened. It all came to a head when the city decided not to pay to keep the software license current. The programmers got their revenge as the software "timed out" and refused to park or more importantly unpark the stacked vehicles.

It's all settled now, but for a few days, a few cars where in a mechanical hell, tormeted by an autobot in torpor.

qv: Hudson Reporter

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Archimedes ran naked!

Legend has it that when Archimedes figured out that an object plunged into liquid becomes lighter by an amount equal to the weight of liquid it displaces that he ran naked through the streets shouting Eureka! Since this was not recorded in any of the blogs of the time, it's possible that it didn't actually happen that way at all, but I digress.

The writings of Archimedes have largely been lost. It seems that libraries burned, some people forgot how to read, some people never learned, and much of the civilized world went into a period where it didn't care much for math, higher learning, or science for that matter. People cared so little for math that they scraped the words off of one of his books and then made a prayer book out of it.

Now the scientists at Stanford are using the collimated x-ray beam of a synchotron to detect the iron in the original ink and provide the best ever reading of the original text.

Learn more: Exploratorium | Ancient Writings Revealed!

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Internet Explorer 7 - You will install IE7

Microsoft really, really wants you to install IE7 --

When Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP is ready to ship later this year, Microsoft plans to urge users to get it by making it a "high priority" update via Automatic Updates...

Sure, you can choose not to install it, but the fact is it will be delivered to you as a High Priority update. I know this has generated quite a bit of furor in the blog-o-sphere, but I am not sure this is such a bad thing. Your current version of Internet Explorer probably has a number of security holes in it. The new version is intended to be more secure, more likely to protect you from spyware, trojans, etc.

What to do? I think installing it is the right thing to do. Although I am a Firefox user and intend to keep Firefox as my default browser, there are plenty of times when the Internet Explorer code is running and I have almost no power to say "no" to it. Just yesterday I was running the LinkedIn toolbar within Outlook. It was clearly using Internet Explorer to show me their webpage. I wouldn't choose to use IE to do that, but it is the default behaviour and there was no apparent opportunity for me to do otherwise.

Since IE is going to run on your PC whether you like it or not, why not install the safest version of it you can. It will cost you nothing other than the time it takes to download.

via: PC World Today @ PC World

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    Monday, August 07, 2006

    All your bookmarks are belong to DIIGO

    Diigo doesn't say it's a bookmark service. It's social annotation. It's an interesting idea. I can tag a page, make highlights on it, put sticky notes on it and then share that box of notes with my network of contacts. My test is about to begin. If you give it a whirl, let me know.

    qv: Diigo


    Friday, August 04, 2006

    How will the human race survive the next 100 years?

    We don't know, but it seems like Stephen Hawking would be the right guy to ask.

    listen: Stephen Hawking

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    We're Live on August 10!

    Here is the rundown for the whole show:

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 10, 2006
    Where does mixed used development work best?
    Donna London of the Jim Self Center on the Future talks with Austin Williams of Crosland about Birkdale Village in Huntersville, NC, and other mixed use real estate projects.

    Historical markers in Oconee County. Dyana Daniels learns about an effort to place historical markers throughout the area to commemorate the Cherokee heritage of the county. She learns about a marker to be dedicated on August 12 from Luther Lyle, vice president of the board of directors of the Oconee Heritage Center, a teacher at Riverside Middle School in Pendleton, and chairman of the Oconee Arts and Historical Commission, 415 Pine Street, Walhalla, SC 29691.

    and then my favorite part...

    A live call-in segment on the Internet and related technologies. Eric Rodgers hosts Phil Yanov, Director of Business Development at Acentron Technologies, and founder and Executive Director of the GSA Technology Council. Members of our radio audience are invited to ask about computer technology and related topics during the second half of Your Day. Listeners may call in with questions via the toll-free number: 888-539-8859.

    As you can see, we are live the last half of the show, so feel free to call in with your tech questions.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Please don't kill Harry Potter!

    According to Reuters:
    Two of America's top authors, John Irving and Stephen King, made a plea to J.K. Rowling on Tuesday not to kill the fictional boy wizard Harry Potter in the final book of the series, but Rowling made no promises.
    Yipes! Harry is on life support? I hope J. K. has read King's Misery. Extreme deeds can have consequences.

    via: Reuters

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Star Trek - The New Voyages

    "A recent NPR story reminded me of a group of committed Star Trek fans who have come together to create new episodes of the original Star Trek series.

    I have read that the people playing the parts would some day like to play the parts in a new movie. That puzzles me a bit. It seems to me that they are playing the parts already. By bringing together a set, cast, crew, and all of the effects, it seems to me that they have created their own dream and are living it. That is pretty cool. Good for them.

    (and for those wanting more episodes of the original series, I think you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.)

    qv: NPR: Star Trek Fan Films Live Long and Prosper

    also The official New Voyages website.

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