Thursday, August 27, 2009

Google Products, How Can You Not Love Them?

Quite honestly, the more I use such things like the Google Calendar and the fact that Google Labs within all of their products are simply wonderful. Talk about using the options is one thing, but entering the labs you will find so many wonderful ways to custom tweak things. The latest features within the calendar is what prompted me to blog about it.

GAS TIP-Filling up in the USA

I do find myself spending a lot of time South of the border and in most states, when filling up the tank using the 'self pay' with your credit card, it prompts you for your zip code, which as Canadians, we don't have zip codes, but instead use postal codes and this just will not work. This means typically standing in line to hand them your credit card and then of course they ask 'how much' and you have no idea if you are filling it up, especially in the case of a rental car.

So imagine my surprise when today I learned after this happened to me, the girl behind the glass handed me a piece of paper with a number on it, after asking me what my postal code was. She then told me after it worked, that this will work anywhere in America! So I asked her what the trick was and it is quite simple.

What you do is you take the numbers from your postal code and then add two zeros after that.

So for example if your postal code is A1A 2R0 then the number you will need to punch in to the gas pump when prompted for 'zip code' would be 12000.

Another example C3x 2R7 would be 32700.

Now you can truly feel right at home and not like a bloody tourist!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Robert Michael Dacre R.I.P.

Although I never knew Robert Michael Dacre, I am pretty sure he is related, but since many of us are using the internet to find our family tree, Upon doing my own vanity searches I came across this person as a pioneer inventor and creator of what could be the next flying automobile. My sincerest sympathy to all those near and dear to this great human being.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hi Speed Internet

It is (finally) nice to see some speed in my community

with my current broadband and without complaints (lately) that I have been using too much!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

TIP-Clearing old Java

A pretty simple tip actually.  Java is something every computer requires in order to view the various websites correctly as most utilize some form of java script. The problem isn't whether or not you happen to be using the latest version of Java, it is the fact that the Java people have a real problem with the fact that when the provide new updated versions, the software is not written in a way for which the old java is removed and it is quite conceivable for a computer to have three or more older copies of java which will use well over 100 mb of data. This may not seem like a lot with the current size of hard drives, but that number can add up if you have a lot of these, not to mention the good chance that the latest version does not work correctly due to other registry issues from the fact that windows still sees more than one version.  

The tip is simple because there is a utility to remove the old ones as well as confirm you are using the latest. Just go and install the very small application.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Keep It Simple (Stupid)... something I try to remember every time I find myself questioning something I have to figure out my way through. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. These are things we know.. and so it should be no surprise that your computer will perform better when it doesn't have a bunch of programs running in the background, monitoring things, including over all performance.  Just using your computer and not worrying about the maintenance would be very nice and it can be made pretty simple, but there are a few things you are going to want to have installed. All of these I make mention of in an OPTIMIZING TIP, as well, as provide links in the SOFTWARE/SUPPORT section. Many of these programs are utilities to help clean out the unnecessary files, etc, etc.   

You have your choice of web browser to use while surfing the web and this is where you must start, at the beginning of your journey 'online'.  So stop using the Internet Explorer as the first step and you have probably eliminated 50 percent of the problem in the first place, or prevented.. however if you have already been using the Internet Explorer, as pretty much everyone has no choice since it is the only browser that initially comes with the Windows operating system.  Next, it would be keeping that browser up to date. Therefore when you get the prompt that there is an update available, it is usually a good idea to be getting that update.  I recommend the AVANT BROWSER as an alternative to the Internet Explorer for many reasons, but the main one is that it emulates the Internet Explorer from other websites, therefore if tech support asks what browser you are using, and you tell them AVANT BROWSER and you get the typical "Oh you have to be using the Internet Explorer".. you don't, because the website thinks you already are! It also has very useful features like creating your own account which then stores your bookmarks, as well as 'autofill' information (with multiple levels of security).  I always suggest having two browsers on your system (besides the Internet Explorer).  Currently Google Chrome would rank to be the fastest (and just look at how clean it looks, without the ability to bog it down with the plug-ins) and Firefox currently being the second most widely used browser world-wide. The only "problem" with Firefox is that pretty much everything will require a plug-in, but from a user point of view, that could be a good thing. Lets just say you should have some computer chops if you want to seriously utilize all the available Firefox plug-ins, but if you do, you can find yourself loving all the flexibility and efficiencies of a productive surfing experience.  Avant Browser however, is the only one to use if you hate having to re-enter your password information on the various websites because if you do use CCLEANER as I suggest you do (daily), then you will find yourself always entering username/password because CCLEANER wipes it clean but because you are logged in to your AVANT BROWSER account your auto fills are good to go.  True, Firefox has the 'master password' and other plug ins available, you still need to initially log in to this so it is yet another step to take. 

Next, you are dealing with the various web sites that want you to install the various 'plug-ins' in order to view the material. Here is where you will find, depending on the material of the website, in the case of an online banking institution, they are going to want to not only use the best possible method of security, but have a way to make sure the browser that is connected to (your account) is in fact, secure.In Canada, the CIBC website is promoting Trusteer Rapport. great, so how about installing yet another piece of software?  No thanks... why?  Here's why:

1:  Unfortunately the staff are only told to tell people to go and install it because it will make things safer, without really knowing what is going on.
2: This is NOT required to log in to your bank account so just how is it that I am making anything safer?  Think about it!
3:  When you have anything that is common, that is what will be attacked first, in any security threat, because any time you have something in common with MORE COMPUTERS the better it will be.. (you must always think negatively when dealing with security matters)
4: The fact that you install something means this is something either the website does not automatically implement, which may even question the level of security that website is providing, but when they all guarantee you from fraud, just how 'secure' does your browser need to be? It seems to me it is your account information that you want protected!   Any time you install a program in order to provide either a higher level of protection, or to 'optimize' the connection, you are adding another potential crash point or some may call it 'bottleneck' for disaster.
5: If you are using a good web browser, then this information should present itself within the browser, such as the level of security the web page has.  Installing another program that simply adds a pretty icon telling you it is safe or not shouldn't be the way you feel secure. Read #2 again as to the reason they are wanting you to install this software in the first place.

What you can always do, once you have completed your banking, is run CCLEANER, for example, which will ensure all data traces have been removed, but keeping it simple and choosing any number of available browsers other than the Internet Explorer, and staying away from unnecessary plug-ins is sure to help.  One interesting thing I quite often witness during a malware/spyware scan, is the amount of 'crap' that is actually found and then stored within a database for that program, which means you have nicely placed all the information you had hoped to protect, to one "Common" location for the malicious user to be able to use... one more reason to keep it simple.