Technology

A Reminder to Write Down Your Passwords

In this age of advancing technology and Google’s growing hegemony in your online life, this is just a quick reminder to say that if you have a Google Account (Gmail, iGoogle, etc) then you might want to try out this old-school method of account security.

Write your password down on this thing called paper.

Before you scoff at this reuse of old technology, please hear my tale, it’s sad but true… about a girl that I once …er still know. (OK, cancel the “Runaround Sue” pun.)

Recently I bought a new laptop for my fiancee.  It’s pretty sweet, a new Dell XPS 1530, and I’ve been transferring data from her old laptop to this one.  But we didn’t get the passwords moved over from her old computer’s Firefox file to this one, and she couldn’t remember the password for her account.  No problem, you might think, just have Google send the password to her backup email account.  That would work great if the company hadn’t unknowingly shut down (since she used her Gmail account for everything there was no need for that email).

What about the backup question?  I’d like an answer to that one as well, because after typing in the answer, and any possible permutation of the backup question and that little cheesy captcha file, Google still would not let her reset her password.

So we finally found a way to contact Google, because being the big web company they are, they don’t actually want people to contact them when their stuff goes haywire (unless of course, you are a big consumer account, which being only two people, we aren’t).  We filled out the form with all of the information we had on the account and sent it in, only to get a response from Google telling us they can’t send her information because she didn’t have enough information to send in (aka, she’s not using enough of their services and she’s screwed, again we’re not a big corporate account).

The end result of all of this?  Well, my fiancee has another Gmail account for backup (that I created for her) and she still can’t access her Gmail contacts, or the businesses (bank, car payment, etc) that contact her through that email address and she’s getting stressed about all of this.  So thanks Google, it’s such a great plan to give stress to someone with a heart condition.

And the lesson learned from this little weekend debacle?  Just use some retro tech and remember to write your passwords down someplace safe (Dad, hint hint)

P.S. and if anyone from Google ever stumbles across this, a little help here?

Microsoft, Technology

No Virginia, Vista Won’t Run on Your 8 Year-Old Laptop

I’ve been trying to keep up with the stories about people who are still having problems with Windows Vista.  Some of the problems appear to be people with Vista on their new computers, which is understandable since it’s Microsoft’s first OS upgrade in a long time – understandable but still a pain in the ass, because Microsoft should not have overpromised and underdelivered on Vista.

(as I’ve said before, Vista has been a pretty solid OS for me.  I haven’t baby’d my laptop either – it’s my main computer and I’m usually running a handful of video, audio or web editing software on it and it trucks along.  Not as fast as XP, but Vista is Mike Alstott to XP’s Warrick Dunn.)

Some of the people bitching about Vista haven’t tried Vista yet, but read some of the negative comments about it and added gas to the fire.  Or saw Apple’s innovative ads poking fun at Vista (Steve Jobs’s gratitude for Bill Gates bailing him out and saving Apple a few years back, but I digress) 😉

And some of the complaining seems to come from people who have tried to install Vista on that cutting-edge 1996 computer they just can’t seem to get rid of, for some pack-rat sentimental reason.  Microsoft, instead of subtly nudging people into upgrading their computers so they can run on Vista, decided to shoehorn Windows users into getting Vista – and worse, getting them on computers that won’t run Vista properly.

This has caused quite the PR kerfluffle within the computer world.  This isn’t “the good ole days” when Microsoft released XP.  Nowadays detractors have media outlets to complain to (or with) that were not available with the great XP unveiling – blogs and other social media. (Ha!  I knew I could tie blogging into this somehow!) MS should have been a little more savvy to the segment of their consumer base that isn’t ready to,  or capable of, adopting.  Now Microsoft has opened itself up to some deserved criticism as the end of life date for XP looms closer – Microsoft is really not going to cut off service to millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions, of XP users are they?

Some savvy computer makers (Ok, right now it’s just Dell, but expect other’s to follow quickly) have stated they will continue to install XP Pro on computers after the cut-off deadline, thanks to a loophole that allows them to offer XP Pro to those who purchase a computer with Vista Business or Ultimate. Microsoft should offer the same kind of deal.

Listen up Ballmer, I’m going to tell you how to turn this into a PR, and actual customer, win.

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Technology

Ghost Images

A question for Comcast cable: What will it take for me to watch Breaking Bad on AMC without dealing with ghost images from another of your channels?  Or anything on AMC without three other channels bleeding over into what I’m watching?

Your crappy technical service is getting to the point where we’ve started looking into Dish TV for a clear picture.  (And it’s not just our house, when we were in the hospital it was just as bad – so it’s something on your end.)

Microsoft, Technology

Looks Like Opera Needs More VC Funding

Opera, the Web browser preferred by literally dozens of people worldwide, is apparently in desperate need of funding to continue their groundbreaking Web browser research. Unfortunately, the groundbreaking was already done by companies like Mozilla, Microsoft and even Apple (the Safari browser is decent on Leopa-Tabby-Puddy Tat, but was a waste when I loaded up the MS version).

So Opera, like any good underdog following on the heels of more innovative companies, has taken to picking the company with the most money and which, until recently, has been acting like a victim, and doing the very American act of suing them.

Why is Microsoft acting like a victim?  That’s a long story, I’ll just say that jumping through every hoop that Google tries to put up for them – else Google will threaten to sue (look at rumored upcoming changes in Vista that are supposed to hinder search functions, presumably to encourage users to download Google’s desktop search function).  Or Google’s attempt to get involved in the Microsoft-Dept. of Justice lawsuit from several years ago, a case that even the judge pointed out Google had no cause to be involved in, has given Microsoft a little bit of a complex when facing off against the new technology giant.

And Opera filed their American-style lawsuit in the EU, which, being the EU, is still upset that Bill Gates is giving his billions to poor third world children instead of poor French children whose parents can only afford one bottle of wine at a time and is more likely to find in favor of the Norwegian-based Opera. (And this is from a fan of the EU)

However, Microsoft’s collective balls descended from the body cavity and they essentially said “forget it.”  Opera claims that people are “locked into using Internet Explorer” because Microsoft bundles it with the Windows Operating System.  I guess they have false faith in the idea that people will flock over to Opera instead of IE7 if only they weren’t cruelly forced to use IE7 (And speaking of Flock, that’s a good browser as well!).  No one has taken the time to tell them they are wrong, people use IE7 because it’s convenient (and I use Firefox because I like it better).  And some web designers have to use IE7 to at least check their sites because the vast majority of people surfing the web use IE6 or 7 and designers need to make sure their sites come up fine in that browser.

Someone really needs to tell those chaps at Opera that there is an easier way to get funding to keep their staff employed: either try to position Opera as the browser for OSX (not likely) or Linux (more likely), try to convince Sony to bundle it with PS3, or continue their work in the mobile device market.  Maybe Opera should look at teaming up with a computer maker, getting Opera bundled into the computers as the default browser.

Or I could try and convince someone in Texas (are you paying attention Dad?) to take Opera to court.  In a Texas court, where they don’t like them “Euro-countries” very much.  What do you say guys?  This is America, there has to be something we can sue for…

(that’s so sad because it’s true…)

 

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blogging, media, public relations, Technology

Oh Dear…

Just found out I’ll be presenting at the same conference on Social Media and PR that Richard Edelman will be keynoting.

Richard Edelman, the mac daddy of social media and public relations.  A crown that no one has been able to wrest away from him yet.

And I’ll be speaking at one of the breakout sessions after his keynote.

No pressure…

Now where did I put the Tums? 😉

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apple, media, Technology

Ladies and Gentlemen, Let's Get Ready To R…

… Sorry.  Can’t complete that statement, it’s copyrighted.

Looks like Apple has it’s sights set on Netflix for the online movie rental domain.  (Major Hat Tip to Ars Technica’s outstanding liveblog from the Macworld Keynote) Steve Jobs just announced (5 minutes ago) that iTunes users will be able to rent movies from almost all of (if not all of) the major studios.  You can rent them for $3-4 and have 30 days to start watching them (and 24 hours to finish watching them)

The interesting thing about this is the ability to transfer these movies to your iPod, or iPhone or what have you.  You can’t do that with the DVDs you rent from Netflix.  I don’t know if you can with the Netflix online rentals, because I haven’t tried that out yet.  That does send a shot over Netflix’s bow, because people (especially 20 and 30-somethings) like their mobile devices and having the ability to watch a rental on the go is a very strong appeal.  Netflix already changed their online rental policy to anticipate something from Apple, but I wonder what else they are going to do after this announcement.

apple, computers, Microsoft, Technology

Dell’s Been Reading my Blog Again

A few months back I wrote a couple of pieces about the problem my old Dell laptop was having.  Well, it wasn’t as much of a story as it was me bitching about the problems I was having with it.

And to my surprise and delight, one of Dell’s consumer advocates left a comment and asked me to email him.  I did this and he has helped me out several times with my old laptop and with problems with my current laptop as well.

Following up on all of my posts about iLife for the PC (which I know you can’t possibly be tired of yet 😉 ), I was looking at the Dell site a couple of weeks ago and I found this!  Adobe Elements Studio, offered only from Dell and only for a few of its products, the new XPS One desktop (Dell’s answer to the iMac single form factor computer) and the XPS 420 desktop. 

Now I don’t want to say that Dell got the idea from my previous post about how to bundle Adobe software to produce an iLife clone for PC. (But I’m cocky enough to do it anyway 😉 )  But it’s a good idea to have this kind of a bundle for PC users as well.  Another bundle I’ve found that would work as a PC iLife replacement is Roxio’s Easy Media Creator 10.  It’s another bundle, focused more on video, audio and basic image editing.  One thing I’ve been finding is that these bundles don’t focus as much on basic Web site design, which I think is a mistake since many people are interested in putting their pictures and video on their own Web site, but don’t have the know how to design a site from scratch.  Then they end up putting their stuff on MySpace.. ugh!  I’ll keep looking for a package that includes web templates, or at least some decent web templates you can use (I’ve already found some at Open Source Web Design)

 

apple, internet, Microsoft, Sony, Technology

moreLife for PC

(RELATED UPDATE:  I have a review of Sony’s Imagination Studio Suite HERE)

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In an interesting turn of events, the post that has given me the most traffic in recent weeks hasn’t been any of my comments about Mayor Chavez (although I did get a spike in traffic from linking to Eye on Albuquerque) or my posts about the Albuquerque Tribune possibly shutting down.

Nope, my biggest traffic getter for the past month and a half has been my call for Apple to release iLife to the PC platform. As I discussed before, Apple can get a decently large piece of the pie from Adobe and Sony if they were to do this, because there are other geeks like me out in the big wide world who wouldn’t mind trying out iLife.

That said, it doesn’t sound like Apple will be doing this anytime soon. So for those people looking for a PC suite of programs that will work in much of the same way that iLife will, I offer the following groups of programs that play well together and give you some integration (although again,one of iLife’s strengths is its incredibly tight integration and smooth workflow between programs, Sony and Adobe can offer similar workflow, however):

Sony Adobe Free/Open Source
Video Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum Premier Elements 4.0 Windows Movie Maker/JahShaka
Music ACID Music Studio and/or Sound Forge Audio Studio Audition or Soundbooth Audacity
Photo PhotoGo or Windows Live Photo Editor Photoshop Elements 6.0 GIMP or Windows Live Photo Editor
Web KompoZer GoLive CS2 (since they have Dreamweaver, they can do something else with this) KompoZer (getting a there here?)

As you see, I also included a column for software that comes with your Windows machine, or that you can get via the Open Source community. These programs, I’ve found, tend to have a little steeper learning curve than some of the Adobe/Sony programs – much less the iLife suite. But it’s like most software programs, once you master them you can do amazing things with them.

I’ve also included a piece of Open Source software in the Web component of the table (at least for Sony and the Open Source columns). KompoZer is a cool software application, built on the Nvu platform – an open source competitor to Dreamweaver or (probably more appropriately) Microsoft Expression Web. iWeb’s strength is still all of the templates that came with it – from what I’ve seen it’s more a matter of different CSS’ for the same WYSIWYG framework templates. A good idea, because people can drag and drop files onto the pages or start typing in the predesignated areas before moving them around.

Adobe should do the same thing with GoLive, add a lot of templates to the software, lower the price or (better yet) bundle the software as part of this package, and make it more accessible to the same market segment that Apple could be gunning for, but hasn’t yet. (More on Dell’s Adobe Elements studio in the next post).

For those of you interested in a PC version of iLife, I hope these help provide you with some of the same enjoyment and utility that I have had working with them – until Apple takes my advice and moves iLife over.

computers, Technology

No iLife? How about aLife? anyLife?

(UPDATE:  Sony did the surprising and released the Sony Imagination Studio Suite.  I have a review HERE)

Before everyone reading this (all three of you) start agreeing with me that I need “a life” outside of my fiancée, computers, and my Xbox, remember that a little while back I wrote a post discussing the perceived benefits of Apple releasing the iLife suite to PC’s. Now that we are up to speed…

I wrote about the financial benefit that I believe Apple would receive from making this suite available to the broader market of PC users, there are quite a few PC users out there who, like myself, would jump at the chance to have these basic programs loaded up (for a price of, say, $200 or so – $50 per program isn’t too bad, and no iDVD doesn’t count as a program for this purpose.)

And I have to say that I am quite let down that Steve Jobs hasn’t already taken my advice, made this software available to the market, and personally called me to thank me for coming up with such a great idea and offering me a fabulous job working on more amazing ideas. 😉

I know that the programs installed in iLife are basically grandma-ware versions of Apple’s more powerful consumer level (Final Cut Express, Logic Express) programs, and they are very basic compared to Apple’s pro level stuff. But they are still strong enough for what most basic-level social media/internet peeps want to do – put up a quick site, record podcasts in Garageband (which has a killer World Music Jam Pack, I’ve gotta say – see Steve, it’s not all vitriol 😉 ) or edit some video in iMovie.

In lieu of Apple coming up with iLife for PC (they can put a wrap around suit and tie on the box to go with their current marketing theme), I’ve come up with another brilliant idea.

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