God Of Nothing

Life, The Universe, and Everything…

Daylight Savings…

English: Engraved brass horizontal sundial cor...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet another time change event, Daylight Savings is upon us. Twice a year, we are either moving the clock one hour ahead or pushing it one hour behind.  This was first imposed on us nationally in the 1970’s during the energy crisis. It was thought that it would help decrease the use of incandescent lightly which was a primary energy use at the time. Before the 1970’s only a few states imposed Daylight Savings Time on residents, mostly for farming, giving the farmers more light in the mornings or evenings, depending on what their crops were and when they needed to be harvested.

Past civilizations made some use of Daylight Savings, changing the daylight hours to adjust for more sunlight.  This is understandable if you have a lack of electricity to power a light bulb that won’t even be invented for several hundred years.  However, in todays society where almost every America household has compact florescent “green” light bulbs and EnergyStar appliances, one would think we don’t need to follow this archaic practice anymore.

Several countries have opted to switch to permanent Daylight Savings Time, living with the summer hours all year long.  Iceland, Russia, and Belarus made the change to permanent summer hours. It makes sense.  Chronobiologists have shown that that the following Mondays are wrought with more workplace and traffic accidents, even more heart attacks.

Perhaps its time to contact our congressman or our state legislators and follow Arizona’s lead and abolish this outmoded and useless practice. Yes, at first it may cause a few problems. Our computers will have to be adjusted but that’s easily fixed. Eventually, though, everything will fall into place, the stock market with continue to do what it does, life will go on just as it has and even our silly government will continue to not create a working budget just as they’ve done for the past four years.

What do you think?  Do we need to continue with this bi-yearly farce?

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Life, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Adobe Flash Player, Updating Yet Again. WTF?

Okay, so this is pissing me off.  Adobe Flash Player must be the most incomplete app on the planet.  Seems I get an update every week, if not more. It shows up just after I logon to Windows while all other services are starting and slows everything down.  I go through the process to get it installed, wasting time not doing what I want too.  Is it that perforated with holes that Adobe needs to do weekly repairs?  Microsoft Windows isn’t even updated this much. Do Mac users run into this same problem?

As a tech guy, I want all my programs up-to-date and working as intended, but this is ridiculous.  If I didn’t need Flash for so many things, I’d remove it completely.  None of Adobe’s other products seem to need so many updates.  Even Adobe Reader has fewer updates and its constantly getting hit by hackers as a vehicle to deploy their malware.

My question to Adobe is, “Why the hell isn’t there an option to just run the update automatically 5 minutes after I logon?”  This would be so much easier, an option for silent updating.  Don’t bother me with asking if I want the update, just update the damn app and be done with it.  Give me the option to choose.  If it’s a jacked update, I’ll live with the consequences.  I’m a tech guy, I know how to un-install a program and reinstall it.

My second question to Adobe, “Why can’t you do monthly updates with the emergency updates as needed, or is every update an emergency for Flash Player?”  With the exception of virus scanning software, most software companies only send out updates on an as-needed-basis or in the case of malware threats or a bad previous update, an emergency update is sent out to fix the problem.  Microsoft’s policy on updates is to do Security updates once a month and everything else is on an as-needed basis, as seen below.

Fast Facts About Microsoft Update (http://www.microsoft.com/canada/smallbiz/issues/sgcv2/security-guidance-centre/fastfactsaboutmicrosoftupdate.mspx) Note: This is for Canada, in the US Patch Tuesday occur every second Tuesday of every month.
Q: How often does Microsoft Update release new updates?
A: Security-related updates are released once a month. However, if a security threat occurs, such as a widespread virus or worm that affects Windows-based computers, Microsoft will release a corresponding update as soon as possible. Other types of updates can be released whenever they are ready. It’s a good idea to turn on Automatic Updates so that your computer can receive high-priority updates as they become available.

Adobe, on the other-hand, state Flash needs to be updated “Periodically.” What, really?  Periodically?  Windows Updates are done periodically.  Adobe Flash updates are verging on harassment.  Dictionary.com states the definition of periodically as “recurring at intervals of time.” So I guess Adobe’s definition is quite different than mine, again verging on harassment.

Flash Player Help (http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/help10.html)
Why am I being asked to install an update?
Periodically, Adobe updates Flash Player with new features or corrections and automatically notifies you so that you can install the updated version immediately. You are being asked to install the update because an update is now available, and your notification settings in the Settings Manager are configured to send you automatic notifications whenever an update is available.
Adobe Flash Settings Manager

Adobe Flash Settings Manager

For those of you that want to stop the automatic updates, you can open the Flash Player Settings Manager, select the Advanced tab the select the “Never check for updates (not recommended.)”  It’s true, it’s not recommended and I don’t recommend it, but you can always update manually if you desire.  Additionally, having an updated Flash Player allows you to continue to view online media without having to later do a large update and may also help to keep malware off your computer.

I guess, in my case, if I want to keep watching my YouTube videos, see animations, or play some online games, I’m just going to have to continue to take Adobe’s weekly rape of my computer.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Technology | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Google Voice, Dial Me In!

Google Voice

I am constantly amazed by how many techno-savvy people I run into on an almost daily basis that have never even heard of Google Voice (GV), probably one of the best communication tools on the Net and its FREE.  Where else can you get a free local telephone number that you can configure to ring your mobile phone, your home phone, and your work phone, all at the same time, only Google.

Actually, I’ve never really been a Google fan, Gmail looks a little slapped together, I prefer Windows Live Mail, which has a downloadable client which is part of Windows Live EssentialsGoogle Sites, their free websites don’t look as professional as Microsoft Office Live Small business, although they are doing better and Microsoft has started charging for the once free service.  All that said, you’ve probably guessed I’m a Microsoft guy at heart.  However, Google does have some beautiful products that work better than anything else on the market.  Google offers by far the best search engine on the Net,Picasa is an incredible photo sharing package, and Google Voice, well read on.

I first heard about GV in July on 2009 when it was in beta.  A friend had told me about it and ten minutes later I was online signing up for an invitation and watching the promotional videos on their site.  It took three days to receive the GV invitation.  I was really excited and wasted no time signing up – today you can just signup for a GV number without waiting for an invitation – and choosing my new GV number.   Since then I have used GV almost daily from everything work related calls to selling items on Craigslist and all at the same time keeping my personal mobile number private.  I give out my GV number instead of my mobile number so much that I think only three to five people have my actual mobile.

Originally, Google Voice wasn’t Google at all, but a company called Grand Central, that charged members a monthly fee to use their service.  Google acquired them in 2007 and brought it online as a free service.  Now you can even port your GV number to some mobile carriers.  In my case, I like having both my mobile number and my GV number, but some may choose otherwise for any number of reasons.  Sprint customers will soon be able to use all of Google Voice’s features with either their Sprint number or in combination with a GV number.

GV comes with many useful and well thought out features. The main feature is that when your GV number is called, you can configure it to ring several phone numbers at once, such as your mobile phone, your home phone, and your work phone, as well as your Google Chat applet.  This is useful, especially if you have a more expensive mobile plan, although it can be alarming in the beginning when your mobile and desk phones start ringing at the same time and you’re not quite sure which to answer first.

One of my favorite features is the ability to set the hours your GV number is allowed to ring.  This is very useful for work related calls that you don’t want to receive while you are at home with your family or on the weekends.  Many companies are allowing the use of personal mobile phones for work use.  This saves the companies money by only having to pay their employees a stipend, great for them, bad for you.  It allows your fellow staff members access to your mobile number to call you whenever they want.  With a GV number, you just configure your times and those calls go directly to voicemail.  You can also set up groups within your contacts that allow you to set who is screened, which of your numbers are called, or who is sent directly to voicemail.

Which brings us to voicemail and transcribed voicemail that is sent to your email account.  The voicemail feature is basically just like any other voicemail system.  You call your number, listen to your voicemail, keep it, delete it, whatever.  The transcribed voicemail is a great feature.  Each time a voicemail is left; it is transcribed, and then sent to your email inbox.  The only drawback is that the transcription is done by computer and sometimes your message looks nothing like it sounds, but at least you do have a link to the original voicemail.

The last great feature I am going to mention is the SMS feature.  Free text messaging from the Google Voice web page, from your email and from your mobile phone, once configured.  This cuts down your costs if you have a limited text plan on mobile.

If you are like me, you have a smart phone and Google helps you there too.  There are versions of the GV apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, and of course, Android phones.  Third party apps are also available depending on your phone.  Google Voice offers so much and at the great price of free, you can’t beat it.  However, as a disclaimer, International calls do cost but are very cheap, and your mobile phone carrier will charge you for your calls because they are generally greedy but in the two and a half years I’ve used GV, I’ve never been charged for its use.  Just make sure you add your GV number to your A-List, Top 5 or whatever your carrier calls the few numbers you are allowed to call free.

Check it out at the link below.  Let me know what you think or if you are a current user, I’d love to hear from you as to how you use it.


May 15, 2011 Posted by | Technology | , , , , , | Comments Off on Google Voice, Dial Me In!

Saving Your Computer from Attack!

Okay, so you’re surfin’ the Net, looking at this article, watching that video, checking your email, and drooling over the hotties in the Entertainment section of your favorite news site. Somewhere along the line, you hit a website or open an unfamiliar email and unknown to you, a small application is installed on your computer. You didn’t see it happen, there were no warnings, no blinking lights, not one thing to tell you your computer has been compromised by malware, otherwise known as computer viruses, worms, Trojans, adware, spyware, or rootkits.

Whatever the malware is, it is almost always harmful to your computer, if not just truly annoying. It might cause your computer to slow down or it might wipe out all the family photos on your hard drive. It might join your computer to a botnet, a collection of infected computers, and run hidden in the background, automatically doing the bidding of its programmers such as executing a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on websites and or Internet services.

Unfortunately, most people don’t update the anti-virus software or they let the subscription expire. If your computer came with anti-virus software, such as McAfee, Norton, or another vendor, it is important to verify that those applications are updating the virus files daily. Also if you don’t turn off your computer at night, schedule a nightly quick scan and a full scan at least once a week to check for malware. If you do turn off your computer at night, schedule a time to run the scan once or twice a week. Additionally, learn how to use the anti-virus software; each vender has help files to answer any of your questions.

As it is hard for most anti-virus software to catch every instance of malware it is good to have a backup plan. Luckily, there are several freeware options out there. One of the best is Malwarebytes, which often finds malware that is passed over by other scanners. Other programs include Adaware, Spybot, IObit Security 360 and Advanced System Care, and a host of others. Each of these scanners is well made and can be found at Download.cnet.com. It is important to know that each of these free scanners need to be manually updated with the latest anti-virus files, the paid versions automatically runs these updates. Another, newer malware scanner is Microsoft Security Essentials 2011, which can be downloaded at Microsoft.com. It can be run in conjunction with most anti-virus scanners and updates automatically with Windows Update.

Computers are like cars in that they need to be serviced and cared for. One way to do this is to update your operating system. Windows has several versions, currently the oldest version that Microsoft still supports is Windows XP and it should be at Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Windows Update should be set to auto-update. Windows Vista and Windows 7 should also be set to auto-update. Microsoft issues security updates often and they should be installed to ensure the safety of your computer and the personal information on it. Hackers design the malware to attack computers that are vulnerable and usually those are computers that have not been updated.

Update your Internet browser. Whether you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or any other browser, make sure you are using the latest release. This ensures your Internet surfing is safer. If your computer is running a Windows XP operation system, Internet Explorer 9 will not work on it so you might want to look into switching to Firefox, Chrome, or Maxthon 3, which is the browser I use.

Lastly, never open an email or a file attached to an email from someone you don’t know. If you receive an unexpected email with an attachment from someone you do know, call them and verify that they sent it, especially if it seems suspicious in any way. Some malware comes as an attachment and once opened will show a file, play a presentation, or open a website and in the background install a malware program.

If you do find that your computer is infected with malware and you can’t remove it with any of the scanners above, seek professional assistance. If you’re lucky, you might have a relative that works with computers. If not, shop around and get references for local mobile computer technicians. Additionally, most computer superstores have mobile computer services or allow you to take the computer to them.

As always, back up your important files often, in case you need to restore that data.

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Technology | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Saving Your Computer from Attack!


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