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Rip & Burn

 ImgBurn uses a user interface similar to DVD Decrypter (which was used to decrypt and rip DVDs); however, ImgBurn is designed to create and burn images of non-encrypted discs.

It supports a wide variety of disc formats, and has a number of additional features for building images and verifying them.

Definitely a tool well worth twice the price; maybe ten times the price!

Oh yeah, it’s free…

Originally posted 2008-11-29 12:00:15.

Free Software!

Let me start off by saying that there is a lot of free software available for just about every popular operating system that works well, is well written, and straight forward to use.

Let me also point out that a lot of free software is free because is simply couldn’t be sold — yes it’s that bad (of course there is a lot of commercial software that is on the market that shouldn’t be sold; but that’s another rant).

I have a favorite saying:

You rarely get what you pay for.

And with free software that could be taken to mean, it almost always ends up costing you…

I always recommend that you read up on software before you use it; and try to read comments written by someone with similar computer skills and goals as you have.  Then ask yourself the simple questions “do you need the software” and “do you have something that already does the same thing that works”.

If you just want to play with a piece of software, consider using a virtual machine to try it out and then discard the changes; and I always try out a piece of software in a virtual machine even if I’m fairly sure it’s something I want.

I maintain a list of products (free and for pay) on my web site that I consider worth using…

It’s rare that I have any problems with any of my computers — and that’s mainly because I don’t “junk” them up with lots of software I never will use and don’t need… and keep in mind — COMPUTER PROBLEMS are one of the costs of installing software.

Originally posted 2008-12-17 12:00:43.

Grasping at nothing with billions

Intel paid 7.7 billion dollars (US) for McAfee Associates.

WTF is up with Paul Otellini?

Does he really think that having pathetically outdated security technology is going to help keep Intel in control of computing in the ever changing landscape of mobile computing?

Clearly Intel must be in the dark about how modern software is built from the ground up to resist the security issues that plagues the old cobbled together systems of the past (ie Windoze).  Obviously, though, Intel understands that their dominance in the computing arena is likely to fade — but spending this kind of money is just insane.

One thing is clear — Intel is massively over charging for it’s processors if they can afford to dump nearly $8B US into the trash can.

Originally posted 2010-08-27 02:00:20.

AT&T Provides Exceptionally BAD Customer Service

Yesterday morning (and well into the afternoon) I spent over two and one-half hours on the phone with AT&T trying to resolve an issue with a “$50 Cash Back”.

First I call the customer service phone number on my bill; and was quickly told I’d have to resolve it online since it related to an online order.

Then I brought up a chat window with online customer service, who was quick to tell me I needed to call the rewards center (which I did was I was chatting with them — and left the chat open exchanging information slowly).

With the rewards center I talked with a useless individual who transferred me to a supervisor who was actually some what helpful; but she told me I had to go through customer service and have the rewards center conferenced in (they apparently can’t access customer records, nor can they make outbound calls).

So I called back customer service, spoke to an individual who wanted to help — but wouldn’t transfer me to a supervisor; determined I need to talk to the rewards center (duh — that’s what I told him — I needed to be conferenced in to the rewards center with a supervisor)… he transferred me to the rewards center (main number) and hung up… so I talked with a rewards center person, and was again transferred to the same supervisor (who told me again there was nothing she could do — and I pointed out that I had done EXACTLY as she ask, and again AT&T had incompetency was the issue).

She transferred me back to customer service — which turned out to be more of a hassle since it was a different office, and I had to enter all my account information.  The person I spoke with was EXTREMELY rude, and the supervisor she transferred me to was an absolute BITCH (trying to play the power game).

I then called back to customer service, was transferred to a supervisor, who did conference into the rewards center and then got an absolute BITCH there.

After that (and noting all their names and operator IDs — at least the operator IDs of the ones that would actually provide them to me) I decide to just call and go through the complaints process…

I explained the whole thing to the woman, she read over the notes; ask me a few questions, and then just said “How ’bout I just credit your account $50 and put this issue to rest”.

It took her less than five minutes to understand the previous two and a half hour nightmare with AT&T individuals who were for the most part in a hurry to say NO, tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about, or tell me I needed to talk to someone else…

And all of this is a result of AT&T designing a system of rebates / credits / incentives that is difficult for an individual to navigate through and redeem… after all, they don’t really want you to get the money, they just want to defraud you.

HORRIBLE company (yeah — I already knew that)… and certainly AT&T doesn’t do anything to retain customers…

I’m already making plans to change my Internet provider as soon as I get the credits for the other promotions.

As far as I’m concerned, if I have to deal with crappy customer service, I’ll just play the providers against each other and maximize my savings.

All I can say is…

Just say NO!

Originally posted 2009-08-04 01:00:18.

Android Apps

One of the initial complaints the reviewers of Android handsets underscored was that the number of apps (applications) available for Android was minimal compared to the number available for the iPhone, and most of the reviewers theorized it would take years for their to be a substantial number of quality apps.

Today, there are a tremendous number of apps; but like the apps for the iPhone I’d say most of them are of questionable quality… a few though are keepers.

Last week a joint survey conducted by Appcelerator and IDC found that 59% of developers said that Google’s Android had the “best long-term outlook” compared to only 35% who picked Apple’s iOS.

Additionally, 72% picked Android for hardware other than phones (set-top boxes, etc) while less than 25% choose iOS.

Though Apple maintained 84% of the interest in tablets (that may have a great deal to do with the fact that no mainstream company has shipped an Android based tablet yet and is very likely to shift soon).

Anyway, regardless of who’s the most popular (ie McDonald’s thinking), here’s my “short” list (categorized) of apps for Android that I like (and use).

Communications

  • Google Voice
  • GMail
  • sipdroid
  • Call Block
  • Opera

Utilities

  • Explorer
  • ASTRO
  • ASTRO Bluetooth Module
  • Spell Checker
  • GPS Essentials
  • Spare Parts
  • DynDns
  • Barcode Scanner
  • ShopSavvy
  • Tricorder
  • Wifi Analyzer
  • WifiScanner
  • Terminal Emulator
  • ROM Manager (only useful on a rooted handset)
  • Superuser (only useful on a rooted handset)

Games

  • 205+ Solitaire Collection
  • Mahjong 3D

Eye Candy

  • Sense Analog Clock
  • Mickey Mouse Clock
  • Tricorder

Everything on the list is FREE (as in free beer; some of the current versions are ad supported).

Tricoder is in two categories (it’s actually useful — though it only qualifies as useful because it will do with several other utilities in combination are needed for — though it’s gotta be considered eye candy).

I’m not a gamer, so the only games I’ve listed are ones that are pretty good for just whiling away a little time… there’s a ton of free games — have at it, you can uninstall them fairly easily (though if you install a lot of apps you’re going to want something to help manager / organize).

One of the major reasons for having a smart phone is to use it to make calls; certainly Google Voice lets you take advantage of any ability you have to call specified numbers air-time-free (plus it gives you text messaging without incurring any charges from your carrier).  If you have a very limited voice plan, but a flat rate data plan — you might find sipdroid (a SIP/VoIP client) extremely useful; at least when you couple it with a free SIP service.

One of the major reasons you might consider rooting your Android device is so that you can remove pre-installed apps or re-theme the device; with older devices you might consider it so that you have access to newer kernels and fixes.  For the average person, you probably don’t want to root your device.

If you have other favorites that do something useful, let me know… I’m likely to publish another list of Android apps in a few months; and I’ve decided I’m going to write a few of them (maybe I’ll even publish them).

Originally posted 2010-10-13 02:00:50.

Term Limits

The twenty-second Amendment to the Unites States Constitution sets forth that the President of the United States shall serve no more than two terms.  Congress passed the amendment on 21 March 1947 and the requisite number of states ratified it on 27 February 1951.

Interestingly enough, Thomas Jefferson supported presidential term limits and the actions of Washington and Jefferson provided a de facto rule for presidents up until Franklin D Roosevelt (Ulysses S Grant was the first president to seek a third term).

The precept of why we limit presidents to two terms is to prevent a virtual monarchy from arising.

Why then do we not limit the terms for all our public officials?

I propose that the way to fix many of the problems with this country is to immediately pass an amendment that provides that no public official shall serve more than two terms in any given office.

That prevents any official from establishing a dynasty and greatly reduces the potential power that a politician can amass.

If you’re worried about public officials having to find another job – stop and consider how many years of service they can provide from serving in their city, county, state, and federal governments in so many elected offices — a lifetime of service to the public without the temptation of serving themselves.

Of course, why would Congress want to play on a level field by limiting their term — I mean, look at the health care and retirement systems they gave themselves compared to what they feel every other American deserves.

Originally posted 2009-12-23 01:00:10.

The Party of “NO”

After two years of “just saying ‘no'” to almost everything — the GOP has promised that they’ll provide the nation with a detailed plan including specific initiatives of how the GOP would take this country forward.

Of course, I’m going to be quick to remind everyone that it was a Republican President, and a Republican legislature that sent this country’s economy into the toilet and sent this country war (predicated on misinformation — or outright lies if you don’t care about political correctness).

I’m all for reading the GOP agenda — to see if it contains anything more than their usual agenda of making the rich richer and making sure the rich can’t be held accountable for their bad (or call them illegal) decisions.

Originally posted 2010-09-01 02:00:16.

NetBeans for C/C++ on Windows

 

I’ve been a fan of the NetBeans environment for developing for a long time.  Yes, there’s a great deal of resistance to it because it’s not OpenSource (it’s an Oracle sponsored project), but it’s free for Windows, OS-X, and Linux.

Many think NetBeans is only an IDE for Java development.  That’s definitely not the case.  NetBeans will do Java, HTML5, C/C++, Fortan, Groovy, PHP, and many more (with plug-ins)… and works with both Tomcat and GlassFish (GlassFish is actually bundled with several NetBeans packages — but you do not have to install it if you’re not going to use it).

NetBeans is written in Java, and you need not only a JRE (runtime), but also a JDK (development kit)… on Java.com (also an Oracle project — they purchased Sun) you can download bundles for many operating systems including JRE, JDK, and NetBeans (you can also install them individually).

Getting NetBeans and C/C++ to work on Linux is a snap, you just need your development tools setup before you install / run NetBeans.  I’d considered install on Windows pretty straight forward as well, but since I’ve helped two different people get it working in the last week, and several a few months ago I’m going to write a quick list of the steps involved.


 

While not all of these steps need to be done in the order I’m listing them in, unless you really know what you’re doing (and why would you be reading this if you already know how to make this work), just follow the steps.  If you have any problems getting this to work, use my contact page — I definitely want to improve my instructions (no — I’m not going to put screen shots and make it a guide for people who’ve never seen a computer before… it’s a development environment, so I’m working on the premise you either know C/C++ or you’re taking a class in it).

At the end of the article are some links that might help (please search the internet if the links are broken).

  1. Download and install the latest JRE (or the one you’ve been told to if taking a class).
  2. Download and install the latest JDK (or the one you’ve been told to / matches the JRE).
  3. Download and install the latest NetBeans full package (it’s the right most column, if you’re worried about disk space, don’t install GlassFish).
  4. Download and install MinGW in C:\MinGW
  5. Run the mingw-get-setup.exe file and select the C++ compiler, development environment, MSYS
    base (we’ll install the rest in the next step).
  6. Download and install MSYS into C:\MinGW\msys\1.0 (watch the navigation pane to insure you don’t get an extra 1.0 in the path).  Let the install “normalize” (that’ll remove duplicate copies of tools.
  7. Add the following to the Windows path (you will need admin rights — if you don’t have admin rights then you’ll have to launch NetBeans through a batch file that adds them to the windows path before executing NetBeans).
    • c:\MinGW\bin
    • c:\MinGW\MSys\1.0\bin
  • Launch NetBeans and do the following:
    • tools->plugins
      insure C++ is installed/enabled
    • tools->preferences->C++
      if necessary add the MinGW toolchain and accept defauls (NetBeans should locate all the required components).
  • Now just create a “Hello World” project and insure that it works.

 


 

Originally posted 2015-02-07 15:00:29.