Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Windows XP dead in June-Now maybe technology can move forward!

Finally, Microsoft has decided to stop the production and sale of
Windows XP in June of 2008, even though Dell (and Lenovo) are planning
on selling it along with the Vista already installed.

I think this is great news, even though people are crying the blues
over the fact they need to move to Vista, for me it means less
security headaches as I have most definitely noticed probably half as
many security problems with Vista machines over the past year,
compared to XP machines, not to mention if technology is going to push
forward, we need to stop using old technology and believe in change,
even if it means dealing with an (arguably) worse operating system.
The way I see vista is, on a new machine, which has the hardware and
memory, Vista works fine. Sure there are the typical driver issues but
if you think back about 6 years ago, people were complaining about XP
as well, saying how much of a dog it is.

By Microsoft finally letting go of the old (XP) and the fact that so
many truly do not like Vista, it may provide for a faster introduction
to a newer O/S .. bring on Windows 7!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Windows XP SP3 held back from initial public release date

It appears, as ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley explains from a press release from Microsoft

What does this mean exactly?  Well, if you have your system set to automatically receive the windows updates, then you will most likely not receive this, however if you have ever performed the windows updates yourself, and/or have experienced with an earlier 'beta' release, then you may already have xp sp3 which will essentially have to be uninstalled before the automatic update will take place, whenever that may be.  If you haven't experienced any problems with the earlier releases then do nothing for now, and once it is a public release, I would suggest uninstalling the beta at that point.  The fact is, if you haven't had any troubles, then you are probably witnessing an increase in performance if nothing else, as this is most definitely what I noticed with the pre-release versions.

Air Canada Flight Pass excuses

Well it appears I won't be waiting the 15 days as stated in the email response.. I did receive a response which of course answers absolutely nothing since it was nothing more then a form letter response.  I have, according to what they are saying, two days left in order to actually use this flight credit but the simple fact is I never received any special link once I had completed the purchase.  Here is the response I received:

Thank you for your email. We are pleased to learn of your purchase of our new Spring Getaway Flight Pass and your interest in the special bonus offer.

Please refer to the following information which was provided on the website in the Terms and Conditions:

"Special offer - International Sample Pass 
The International Sample Passes is valid for travel to Paris, London or Shanghai between April 1 and April 30, 2008. It is only offered with the purchase of Spring Getaway Passes valid for a two-month period and must be purchased by April 1, 2008. 

Once the purchase of the Spring Getaway Pass completed, an International Sample Pass link will automatically appear in the Exclusive Flight Pass Offers section located on the Flight Pass Home page. To view this link or purchase this Sample Pass, you must sign-in on"

The above rules and activation instructions were very clear on our web page at the time of purchase and we will, therefore, not be granting any exceptions to activate the bonus passes after the deadline date. If you were experiencing web problems, our Technical Support Team would have been available to assist you.

We regret that we are unable to comply with your request and trust you can appreciate our position as we must remain fair and consistent to all of our passengers with similar requests.

We appreciate your interest in our Flight Pass product and look forward to the opportunity to welcome you onboard in the near future.


Wanda Lepage, Flight Pass Specialist
Customer Relations

It seems to me this is still quite unclear when it is displayed as "once the purchase of the spring getaway pass completed"... but they make mention you have to purchase the two month pass, which I did, and the fact is, they do not take the second installment until a week ago, which is what I would suggest is the completion of the agreement, nor did I, as mentioned, receive any special link to click on and why would they not email me after purchasing the flight pass in the first place? I have responded to the above email with pretty much what I just stated, as I am now asking for a refund for my second month since it is quite apparent they are not going to extend this offer meaning they do not wish for me to experience this and would much rather completely lose a customer AND have the Air Canada name dragged through blogosphere with negative connotations.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Air Canada Customer Relations-Sucks!

I recently had a question for Air Canada as I have been taking advantage of their great "flight pass" offers over the past year or more and so checking the website for 'contact' help, I found the number and dialed it. Waiting the typical 10 minutes or so to get a live operator was fine, but when I started asking about the Flight Pass, she knew nothing about it... I found this rather strange since it was one of their features on the website and asking further, found out that this department I am speaking with, deals with 'website navigation'.. interesting that she can't navigate to this part of the website.   Next after being placed on hold a few times while she checked with her 'lead' on this, I went through my history of emails from the monthly newsletters I received from Air Canada and began to read the fine print, basically finding the information I needed, but now would have many questions as to why I was never informed about this "European option" that I was making the initial phone call about.   When she came back to the phone, I explained to her what I had found and since she had made no progress, suggested I follow this up with "Air Canada Customer Relations" and so I then asked, "Where, online or via telephone" and she stated it was online... "ok I'll do that then, thank you for your time" and that was that.. 

Following the link to "contact" once again, I did find a number but it was only for Faxing (a complaint) and that I would need to fill in the email online.. so I did, explaining my questions/problems, and then proceeded to receive the following email from Air Canada once I had submitted it.

Thank you for contacting us.  
This is an "auto-response" which confirms we have received your message.
Our current processing time is 15 business days for general customer concerns and 8 weeks for  baggage related issues.  There is no need to re-submit your information, we will do our best to get back to you as soon as we can.

Excuse me, did I read that right?  15 business days!   Good thing it wasn't baggage related otherwise I would have to wait 2 months!  

Now explain to me please, how anyone, forget the fact that this is a rather large company, can get away with this?  

I got back on the phone and.. after almost 15 minutes of waiting for a live human once again I figured I would forget this, as I would be flying the next day, going through Calgary (their Western hub) and see if I could not get to the bottom of this.... heaven help the customer relations person I end up speaking with, as I do realize they are on the 'front line' and need to deal with all distraught customers, I hope it won't get to that point with me.. wish me luck!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finding the time--to Blog more! LCD/Plasma reviews

It is becoming more frequent, that I receive email from my clients
commenting on a blog post and/or asking that I blog more or have
questions in which they say "you can just blog about it if you want"..
thanks.. and that is what I wish to be doing as well.. blog more!
Thing is you need to find (or make) the time by prioritizing the rest
of your day's tasks and for me, it appears I need to have a manager
manage my time for me because their just is not enough of it in one
day to get through HALF of the things I really WANT to be doing!

The questions I am getting are pretty much tech related, which is a
good thing, since if it wasn't technical, I am not sure how much I
would be able to help, other then send along the results of a Google
search (which you should be able to do on your own) but as I am
finding that is not always the case either... the searching for things
on your own-that is. These questions are in most cases, comparison
shopping. That is, in the market for a new TV for example, wanting to
know which is better, LCD or Plasma. The old VCR died and wants to
know if buying a DVD writer for the home entertainment system is a
good replacement for the VHS.

I am therefore finding my best time to actually get to the blogging
happens to be when I am on the road, away from my bench which is where
my time is spent FIXING, more then it is developing and expressing...

... this is all going to change (I promise) I want to blog more, I
want to get my thoughts and ideas and comments about the direction the
world is going with regards to technology and how we humans control

So to answer the most asked question.. LCD or PLASMA

Initially with Plasma, it seemed the life span was about 5 years
whereas the plasma gas would burn out, giving a dull image that was
sub-par for any hi-end television. This is NOT completely true as it
turns out this does happen, but the 5 year life is probably some
marketing answer in order for you to be purchasing that new TV in 5
years. The fact is, most electronic items we use have built in
obsoleteness but mostly because it has some sort of an operating
system which is what actually runs out of time. If you look at the
evolution of the Television and how it went from 'one in every home'
to 'one in every room', you should also look to the new purchase as
one that will most likely happen again in 5 or so years, therefore
placing the most recent purchased one to main viewing room and the
older one to another room and the oldest being sold through a garage
sale or dropped for recycle due to it just not working anymore.

That being said Plasma should definitely be considered for your next
TV. In fact such items as viewing angle should be considered as well
as placement of the unit. Since Plasma has been known to have a wider
viewing angle and (arguably) warmer/richer colours. Since cost should
always be a consideration, it should be pointed out that buying a
brand name not always means getting a better unit, but it may mean a
better warranty, however are you buying a TV on the grounds that it is
going to break down? When I talk of cost, I refer to more bang for
your buck with regards to features pretty much. For example, if I
can get a 47" with better specs than the 52", I would be buying the
47". As for those specs... contrast ratio is the brightness of the
unit. This is where LCD will most likely be better then the Plasma.
HD is obvious. You shouldn't be buying an HD compatible (sometimes
displayed as "HD ready) tv as this will typically mean purchasing an
additional component to make it HD. Moreover, if you do plan on
plugging this unit in to a sound system, the digital I/O (input/
output) becomes a key in my opinion, since with digital you are
dealing with ONE cable instead of 4 or more and that can make a big
difference when it comes to the wiring of some of these units.

Bottom line on any new purchase, get more then one opinion. This means
DON'T just go in to the store you know and trust and take the word of
the salesperson. Get the bottom line price and even go as far as
getting them to put it aside if necessary (to ensure the salesperson
you are serious about buying a tv) but then go home and SLEEP ON IT!
Don't just buy it and then wonder if you made the best decision. Sure
it isn't like you are buying a new home or car but it is still a
pretty major purchase from the point that you will be spending HOURS
AND HOURS in front of this thing and so your eyes will for sure be
thankful of your investment if not your ears.. but sound systems is
for another day! Bigger is not always better, but in my opinion, when
it comes to buying a new 'big screen' I am first going to see just how
big the room will allow and then look for the largest unit that will
fit and work my way down with regards to the specifications of each
product I look at. You already should be under the notion you will
only get 5 years out of this baby before needing (or wanting) a new
one... that certainly shouldn't mean the unit will die the day after
it turns 5 but with any electronic technology, what comes off the
assembly line now will stop being manufactured in about 3 months and
will have a new model within 6 months.

Finally, once you have purchased that new unit, STOP LOOKING IN THE
FLYERS! You are only going to be disappointing yourself as with any
new technology as mentioned previously, it is always changing and
improving therefore looking at what you could have purchased if you
were to have only waited that extra month is foolish.. there will
always be something better.....

Question: I'm getting a lot of spam messages, what can I do?

First of all SPAM is nothing new and everyone gets spam in their email. Depending on a variety of issues, you will probably find you get more if you do more on the Internet in general. Much like the phone that never rings until you start making phone calls, then all of a sudden you find everyone stars calling you.  Well okay, maybe it isn't really like that, but in all fairness, if your system has been infected with any sort of tracking cookies, the odds of you getting more spam are more likely as you surf the Internet.

Personally, I have been using GMAIL as my main email client, allowing gmail to access all of my POP accounts and utilizing the IMAP server, I can have all my mail synchronized on whichever email program I choose to use, and since I have a macbook in the mix of other PC computers now, it truly doesn't matter since GMAIL is a web-based email program I can always retrieve my email.  GMAIL has, in my opinion, the best methods in handling the SPAM to the point where I'll make a quick glance through the hundred-plus email that it has found and then clicking one button removes it all permanently.  It has been about 15 hours since I checked my mail due to traveling, as well as being the weekend, I had 605 spam messages, all of which were promptly deleted.  

So when you get more then what you used to get what I suggest is first making sure you are up to date with your anti-spyware programs and do a full scan.  Read my OPTIMIZING TIP as well as the many others available from the TIPS page, and be sure to have the latest in the anti-spyware programs by downloading it from my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page. 

What I do see most often on the various client computers I will be cleaning/updating/repairing, is the amount of JOKES people send from friends and relatives, all sent "incorrectly" as with a couple hundred of the email senders contact list in the "TO:" box instead of utilizing the "BCC:"  You can and should learn THE CORRECT WAY TO SEND AND FORWARD EMAIL from my available tip.  I do believe we will never completely win the battle of SPAM, but in order to have any sort of control over it, it must first come from within (ourselves) knowing the correct measures in order to avoid getting this in the first place!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Google Calendar Sync with Outlook Calendar-Finally!

Great news from Google once again, with the introduction of Outlook Calendar sync with their own Google Calendar. You can learn more about it here.
Anybody that was hesitant about using the Google Calendar due to the incompatibility of syncing it with Outlook can now see what everyone has been talking about with the ease of using this wonderful calendar.