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Microsoft Live Essentials

With Windows 7 Microsoft has removed email, instant messaging, address book, calendaring,  and movie maker from the Windows install.  If you run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor it will direct you to Live.com (a Microsoft) site for tools that will add back these features to Windows.

Live.com has offered most all of these tools in one form or another for over a year; and for quite some time now the entire suite of tools.

I’ll just quickly list the features:

  • Live Messanger
  • Live Call
  • Live Mail
  • Live Writer
  • Live Photo Gallery
  • Live Movie Maker
  • Live Toolbar
  • Live Family Saftey

Live Messanger is the replacement for Windows Messanger, MSN Messanger it’s substantially the same as what ever Microsoft messanger you might use — with an updated look and feel and of course, new features.

Live Call is Microsoft’s entry into the voice communications market.  I’ve never used it, so I can’t really comment on it.

Live Mail is the replacement for Outlook Express and Windows Mail (for you Vista users).  It somewhat resembles both of it’s predecessors, but carries forward many of the refinements from Windows Mail; and introduces a number of “bugs” that had been stomped out long ago in the code line (I reported several during the BETA — they still haven’t been fixed, and I expect until they annoy someone on the Live Mail team they won’t be).  On feature that has been added that many will find useful is the ability to interface with Hot Mail/MSN Mail/Live Mail web mail directly (at no cost).

Live Writer is a WYSIWYG editor for BLOGing.  It interfaces to Live BLOGs as well as a number of blogging engines and web sites.

Live Photo Gallery is Microsoft’s attempt to get some of the media sharing market.  I don’t use it, but I’m sure they’ve figured out some way to make money from it (like all the others).

Live Movie Maker is the replacement for Windows Movie Maker.  I haven’t used it.  The previous software might be fine for novices; but I prefer to use Final Cut Studio on my Mac; so I don’t think my opinion of this software is relevant to the target audience.

Live Toolbar is like most toolbars, a waste.  Whether it’s invasive like most of them or not I can’t say — I have no need for toolbars; and you probably don’t either.

Live Family Saftey is designed to limit access to questionable internet sites and content.  I’ve never used it; but I would guess like most it errors on the side of caution.

There is also a Microsoft Office Outlook Connector, and Office Live Add-In which provide access to Live features directly from Microsoft Office (why?) that you can read about on your own.

Overall, many of the “free” tools in Microsoft Live Essentials are probably well worth the small amount of time and energy to download and install.  One note, make sure you uncheck the items you don’t want (you can add them later if you change your mind) and pay close attention to the attemp to change (and lock) your browser’s home page and search tool.

Microsoft Live Essentials

Originally posted 2009-11-22 01:00:50.

A signature Mac Book

But not from Steve Jobs, but rather Steve Balmer.

Last week Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft Corporation, participated in a meet and greet after speaking at Nashville Technology Council (held at Trevecca Nazarene University) and was ask to sign an individual’s aluminum Mac Book — and he did, right across the Apple logo!

Originally posted 2010-01-28 01:00:23.

Net-Neutrality Policy

Google and Verizon have announced an agreement on a policy proposal surrounding net neutrality.

You an read up more on that on:

While the agreement provides that traffic on the “public Internet” will be handled equally for all sources and destinations; it does not preclude vendors setting up private networks to carry traffic… a policy that could see resources that once might have been available to the “public Internet” only available to those who pay.

The proposal also limits the FCC jurisdiction to wireline; and exempts wireless broadband — and that could spell trouble in the ever growing dependency of American’s on carrying their Internet with them in the palm of their hand.

I have an innate distrust of big companies like Google and Verizon, and I’m pretty sure if they’re agreeing on anything , it’s not a good deal for me.

Originally posted 2010-08-19 02:00:08.

So you want to be in pictures…

Or rather should I say that you want to be able to play “moving pictures” on your computer…

You computer may have come with software for playing back video, DVDs, etc — or the operating system version you installed might support some formats; but eventually you’re going to reach a point where you want to play something that you don’t have support for and you might not feel like spending a lot of money.

There are two major issues with playing back media:

  1. Your computer needs software that is able to decode the audio and the video portions of the media; and
  2. Your computer needs software that is able to “break apart” the audio from the video.

The first piece of software is call a “decoder” — or often times a codec.  And you’ll hear things like MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, etc for video and things like AC3, AAC, PCM, DTS, MP3, etc for audio.

The second piece of software is called a mux (specifically for play back a de-mux) — and those take particular containers and split them into the separate audio and video streams.  The file extension generally tell you about the “envelope” the data is contained in, or how it was muxed.  Some standards mux specifications, but even when the audio/video standard includes a way to mux the data, it might be in a richer envelope that supports alternate audio streams, alternate video streams, hyperlinks, closed captions, multiple languages, etc.

A growing open standard for containing audio and video is the Matroska format.  It’s generally designated as .mkv for audio/video files and .mka for audio files.

It’s a rich standard well supported on Windows, OS-X, and *nix platforms.

For more information visit the Matroska Offical Homepage:

You’ll not only find information on the Matroska format, but links to many free tools to help you play back that audio and video format you’re having trouble with.

Originally posted 2008-12-14 01:00:52.

Illegal Immigrants

Illegal Immigrants
By Arend Van Dam, 13-May-2011

Originally posted 2011-05-15 02:00:11.

Remote Access

I’ve been using a combination of bitvise WinSSHD and Tunnelier for remote access to my home network.  It basically allows me to tunnel a RDP (or simple command shell) via SSH to a Virtual machine running on my server (actually each “user” has a virtual machine all to their own, so there’s no contention).

I really like the simplicity of the SSH tunnel, and find that running it on port 22 and port 443 provides me with a very good likelihood of being able to connect through all but the most draconian firewalls.

You will want to make sure that you implement good security policies on your SSH server, and that you either use pre-shared keys or certificates OR that you make sure you have a strong password.  There are a number of bots out there that try to break into an SSH server using a list of well know user names and dictionary attack for the password.

WinSSHD will lock out IP addresses after a number of failed attempts; but I created a test account called “test” with the password “password” just to see what the bot would try to do (the account was jailed without any write priviledge in a safe sub-directory with no files).  The bot got frustrated and went away, but I was trying to upload files, and I would guess execute them (probably propagating itself).

You can black list IP addresses, and if you’re like me you run the DynDNS client (I use DynDNS.org for my dynamic ip naming service; it’s free, and it works well) on your notebooks so that you “know” their IP address via a fixed host name (though in WinSSHD the IP black list superceeds a DNS name white list).

http://www.bitvise.com/

http://www.dyndns.org/ or http://www.dyndns.com/

Originally posted 2008-10-30 13:00:59.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Friday Fourteen April Nineteen-hundred and Sixty-five (Good Friday) Confederate sympathizer (and possibly Confederate agent) John Wilkes Booth shot and fatally wounded President Abraham Lincoln as one part of a much larger conspiracy.

Assassination has a long history of being used to force political change; however, Abraham Lincoln was the first of four sitting American presidents to be assassinated (there have been many more attempts).

While it’s clear at this juncture there is a need for a radical change in our government, my hope is that it can be achieved through peaceful, constructive change.

Originally posted 2010-04-14 01:30:45.

The Most Conservative and Liberal Cities in the United States

Detroit, Michigan and Provo, Utah each top the Bay Area Center for Voting Research’s (BACVR) lists of the nation’s most liberal and conservative cities, respectively. Surveying United States cities with a population over 100,000, BACVR found that the top twenty-five most liberal and conservative cities in America come from a wide variety of regions across the nation.

Of the most liberal cities, Detroit heads up the list with 93.96% of voters casting votes for liberal candidates in the 2004 presidential election, followed by Gary, Indiana with 93.08% of the voting going to liberal presidential candidates, and Berkeley, California in third with a 92.76% total for liberals. Other cities in the top twenty five in descending order are the following: the District of Columbia; Oakland, CA; Inglewood, CA; Newark, NJ; Cambridge, MA; San Francisco, CA; Flint, MI; Cleveland, OH; Hartford, CT; Paterson, NJ; Baltimore, MD; New Haven, CT; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL;  Philadelphia, PA; Birmingham, AL; St. Louis, MO; New York, NY; Providence, RI; Minneapolis, MN; Boston, MA; and Buffalo, NY. Provo, UT heads up the top twenty-five conservative cities with 86% of the vote going to conservative presidential candidates in 2004, followed by Lubbock, TX at 74.81% conservative support, and Abilene, TX in third with 72.80% of its voters choosing conservative candidates. The remaining cities in the top twenty-five in descending order are: Hialeah, FL; Plano, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; Gilbert, AZ; Bakersfield, CA; Lafayette, LA; Orange, CA; Escondido, CA; Allentown, PA; Mesa, AZ; Arlington, TX; Peoria, AZ; Cape Coral, FL; Garden Grove, CA; Simi Valley, CA; Corona, CA; Clearwater, FL; West Valley City, UT; Oklahoma City, OK; Overland Park, KS; Anchorage, AK; and Huntington Beach, CA.

America’s voting patterns are split by region, with the Midwest and Northeastpredominantly voting for liberal candidates, and the West (with the exception of the coast) and South voting for more conservative candidates. These results confirm the preconceived notions that many have about the conservative nature of the South and liberal nature of the Northeast, but also surprisingly found conservative trends in the West and liberal leanings in the Midwest that defy traditional stereotypes about these areas of the country.

A number of important demographic factors determine whether cities vote for liberals or conservatives, with race being the most important factor. Cities with predominantly large African American populations ended up as the most liberal cities in America, while the cities with the largest Caucasian populations wound up as the most conservative. These strong correlations seem to indicate that African American votes continue to support primarily liberal candidates. A survey of income and economic status indicates that poorer and less educated than average regions also tend to vote for liberal candidates at a higher rate than their conservative counterparts, indicating that liberal candidates may be ahead in capturing those with concerns about the state of government run social programs and poverty.

Another major correlation appears between marriage rate and the tendency to vote for conservative candidates, as liberal cities appeared to have more single voters than conservative cities with marriage rates at or above the national average. This data indicates that family centered voters surprisingly voted more for conservative candidates, demonstrating the success of conservative candidates to appear as the more moral, family oriented candidates in a way that did not appeal as much to single voters. Population size also seems to have a significant effect, with larger urban environments tending to favor liberal candidates by a wider margin than those with smaller population sizes, demonstrating the success of liberal candidates in large metropolitan areas where concerns about social programs and poverty spoken of against theincumbent Bush administration were most salient. Suburban or mid-sized cities were on the whole more conservative and split in the 2004 presidential election, with conservative candidates receiving more votes in these areas than from their urban counterparts. These demographic issues indicate that racial makeup, income rates, regional location, marital status, and population size all combine to affect the propensity of American cities to vote on either side of the ideological spectrum.


The Twenty-Five Most Conservative Cities in America The Bay Area Center for Voting Research finds that the top twenty five conservative cities in America share many common characteristics, including larger that average Caucasian populations, a large percentage of married couples, smaller city size, and higher income and education level than average. The top twenty five conservative cities come primarily from the South, non-coastal areas of the West, and Southern California, which is indicative of a conservative voting trend in these two regions.

The city of Provo, Utah tops the list of the twenty-five most conservative cities in the United States. Located approximated forty-five minutes from Salt Lake City, Provo is a relatively small city by the scale of this study, with a population of 105,166. Founded by Brigham Young, Provo has a strong Mormon background, with Brigham Young University located in its city limits. Provo’s religious background, small town feel, and large Caucasian population all combine to make it the most conservative city in the United States. Analysis of current voting data shows that 86% of registered voters in the city voted for Bush or other third party conservative candidates, while 14% voted for Kerry or other third party liberal candidates.

Lubbock, Texas came in second place, with 75% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate, while 25% of the population voted for a liberal candidate. The city of Abilene, Texas came in third place on the list, with 73% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate, while 25% voted for a liberal candidate. The city of Hialeah, Florida followed in fourth place, with 71% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate, while 29% voted for a liberal candidate. The city of Plano, Texas completes the top five, with 68% of the registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate and 32% voting for a liberal candidate. Rounding out the top ten are the following five cities, in descending order: Colorado Springs, Colorado; Gilbert, Arizona; Bakersfield,California; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Orange, California. All of these five cities displayed results of over 64% of their registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate and over 32% for a liberal candidate.

The next set of seven cities all display over 62% of their registered voter population voting for a conservative candidate and 37% for a liberal candidate. They consist, in descending order, of the following: Escondido, California; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Mesa, Arizona; Arlington, Texas; Peoria Arizona, and Cape Coral, Florida. The next set of six cities all display over 61% of their registered voter populations voting for a conservative candidate and over 38% for a liberal candidate. They consist, in descending order, of the following: Garden Grove, California;  Simi Valley, California; Corona, California; Clearwater, Florida; West Valley City, Utah; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The remaining three cities all have over 60% of their registered population voting for a conservative candidate and over 39% for a liberal candidate. They consist, in descending order, of Overland Park, Kansas; Anchorage, Alaska; and Huntington Beach, California.

Altogether, the top twenty-five most conservative cities are composed of twelve cities from the West: seven cities from California, three from Arizona, and two from Utah. There are two cities from the mid-west that are located in Colorado and Kansas. There are nine cities located in the south: four from Texas, three from Florida, one from Louisiana, and one from Oklahoma. Finally, there are one city each in Pennsylvania and Alaska. Below is a chart of the twenty-five most conservative cities in America with the percentage of votes for either liberal or conservative candidates.

• The Bay Area Center for Voting Research • www.votingresearch.org • 510-528-0110 •

The Most Conservative and Liberal Cities in the United States (full report)

Originally posted 2011-05-22 02:00:13.

Color Nook

Barnes and Nobel showed it’s color Nook Tuesday in San Francisco – the press seems to like it; 15.8 oz, 7” screen, 8GB storage (plus uSD slot), WiFi, uUSB power, Android based…  available for pre-order on 19 Nov.

Not clear that you have access to Android marketplace, but it sounds like it (since there were references to installing games and such on it)… this could be real competition for the iPad (and the Kindle).

Barnes & Noble Nook

Originally posted 2010-10-26 20:00:42.

Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 with GPS and Connected Services

I picked up a copy of Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 with GPS and Connected Services; basically the package includes the same Pharos (re-branded) GPS module that Microsoft has been using along with a Pharos (re-branded) FM side-band receiver (similar technology as to what you can get on a number of all-in-one GPS units that provide real time data).

I haven’t tried all the wizzy new features for real yet, but in service areas I should be able to get real time data on traffic, construction, gas prices, weather, etc… the real question is how well S&T uses that data to auto-magically re-route.

I have a Pharos all-in-one GPS-150 receivers that’s a nice little unit, but it’s difficult to enter address information (there is not a sync to the PC option), and it doesn’t get real time data feeds. The Pharos all-in-one uses their Ostia software rather than Streets and Trips; but you can hack Tom-Tom PDA software to run quite nicely on it (the problem is getting the maps).

__________

A bit of trivia for those that don’t know the connection between the word “Pharos” and mapping / navigation. Pharos was the name of the light house at Alexandria, Egypt. And “Ostia” was the ancient port of Rome at the mouth of the Tiber river.

Originally posted 2008-07-08 00:15:45.