Friday, May 31, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness & More

It seems wherever I go these days someone is asking me what I thought of the latest Star Trek film. Well I am not a film critic but I took a few moments to write a little bit about the Trek film which is now shining at the box office.
The future is still bright despite the ominous title, Star Trek Into Darkness. For example even in moments of great crisis, Simon Pegg's Montgomery Scott can be counted on for a witty quip. Even when the U.S.S. Enterprise is facing immense peril, director J.J. Abrams keeps the action fun and graceful, and provides generous room for each of our characters to take part in the story. In its best scenes-- and there are plenty of them-- Star Trek Into Darkness is even more fluid and energetic then Abrams' 2009 Star Trek. This new Trek has a more powerful villain and the crew’s relationships are expanded in ways that honor the original series.

The stakes are high in Star Trek Into Darkness, with death and global destruction all around. With crisis after crisis inflicting near disaster Kirk and Spock learn to work together and each crew member gets a moment to shine in the spotlight. Just like last time, Abrams makes the whole thing exceedingly fun, if not stressful and emotional.
The movie is off like a rocket from the opening scene, with the Enterprise crew attempting to halt an exploding volcano on a faraway planet but without violating the prime directive-- that Starfleet members not interfere with the development of alien civilizations. Kirk (Chris Pine)-- still brash and overly confident-- violates it to save Spock (Zachary Quinto), and sets up a conflict between emotional Kirk and logical Spock that's familiar to Trek. The first 15 minutes of this film are one of my favorite segments of the film but the events here lead to Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) being put back in charge of the Enterprise, until an explosion at a Starfleet archive in London is pinned on John Harrison.

Cumberbatch's Harrison is deliciously malevolent and cunning and constantly indicating that he's the smartest guy in the room (which he probably is). His role in the story had been closely guarded, and with good reason-- it's not just his true intentions that are a surprise, but the role he plays in the narrative, and it's satisfying to be as unclear about him as Kirk and company clearly are. For me I made a conscious effort to know as little about the plot as possible. For the most part I was successful, which is difficult in this Facebook age. My lack of information paid off as I was shocked about 3 times watching this movie. Cumberbatch’s villain chews up each scene he is in but every key member of the Enterprise crew gets their major moment in the film, and even Alice Eve's newly added Carol Marcus becomes integral to the story. Every scene in the film pulses with the same assurance that these beloved characters are once again in good hands.

I must admit there are moments in this film which as a 40+ year fan of Star Trek dance the line of going over the top with nostalgic moments but I am willing to accept it all because the film is so well made, the actors - every one - is perfect in capturing the heart of their characters and Roddenberry's world.

2009's Star Trek was a wild gamble, a reboot that both wiped the slate clean and paid endless homage to the original. Watching it succeed was great fun for any open minded Trekkie. Star Trek Into Darkness lacks none of that marvel, and it's nods to the original series feel is simply great fun.
There are countless moments of blockbuster bliss in this spectacular addition to the Trek film franchise. If you have not seen this latest Trek film yet – do yourself a favor and make sure you take the time to see in on the big screen. You will not be disappointed, even if you are not a life long fan of Star Trek.
Future Trek
Now what of the future for Star Trek? First, I hope it does not take 4 more years for the next movie. The 4 years in between movies is unnecessary and actually hurts performance at the box office.  A return to TV is where I really hope this Star Trek resurgence winds up. And if TV is the final destination please avoid the commercial networks. How about Trek on HBO, Showtime or perhaps Netflix? Gene Roddenberry had it right back in 1987 when he avoided networks with TNG and went straight to syndication. Roddenberry's decison here led to the golden age of Star Trek when from 1987 through 2005 his wonderful universe shined on TV.
Where Does Into Darkness Rank?
Another question I am often asked is where does this latest film entry rank in the long Star Trek film franchise? While it may be a little too soon to accurately rank this one just yet, for those who have asked I will try. This is how I rank the 12 Star Trek films from worst to best.., as of... today.
12. Nemesis (2002)
11. Generations (1994)
10. Insurrection (1998)
9. The Final Frontier (1989)
8. The Motion Picture (1979)
7. The Search for Spock (1984)
6. Star Trek (2009)
5. The Undiscovered Country (1991)
4. The Voyage Home (1986)
3. First Contact (1996)
2. Into Darkness (2013)
1. The Wrath of Kahn (1982)

My Star Trek film rankings are now out in the open for all to see. Each and every entry here are enjoyable and fun for any Trekkie. Each have moments of greatness, however when you get to my top 5 or 6 you are talking about near perfect Trek films.   

Archiving By 365

If you are a Microsoft 365 customer be aware that your email will be archived from time to time. While I understand why Microsoft does this it can be confusing, especially the first time this happens.

What Does This Mean?

  • Any (old) email that you have received, even if it was deleted or moved into a special folder will be moved (by Microsoft) to your "Online Archive".
  • You can access this 'archived mail' on the left  pane of your microsoft Outlook client. You will find this near the bottom of the left pane. Look for "Online Archive ----your email address".
  • Click the arrow to the right side of this and your archived email will be here. The first time you do this - it may take a minute or two depending on how much email is in your archive.

More to Know

  • Unfortunately Microsoft cannot recreate any folders you made. Theerefore all of your old email will simply be in the archive inbox. To me this is the biggest problem here. I for one am crazy for organizing everything in my life, even my inbox and to see all of this taken away is somewhat frustrating.
  • If you move any of your archived email back to its original folder it will simply revert back to the online archive. So don't do this.
  • If you want to re-organize the archived email you will have to recreate the folders again, inside the online archive.
  • You can search the online archive in the same manner as your regular inbox.
  • You can also access your "online archive" through your Outlook client or on the Microsoft 365 Portal.
  • The online archive cannot be accessed via mobile devides (smartphones) and most tablets.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Windows 8.1 Sneek Peak

Its no secreat that Microsoft has taken some heat from consumers for Windows 8. While I believe much of this is a little unfair to Microsoft perhaps they did move ahead a little too fast for many consumers. With this in mind Microsoft today offered a 'first look' at its upcoming Windows 8.1 operating system via a blog post by Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President, Windows Program Management.

You can read all about the new features below...


In Windows 8.1, you’ll be able to do more to personalize the experience on your device. As people started using Windows 8, we found that people were using their Locks screens to show pictures of their families. So in Windows 8.1, you can turn your PC or tablet into a picture frame by making your Lock screen a slide show of your pictures – either locally on the device or photos from the cloud in SkyDrive. We also added the ability to take pictures with the built-in camera right from the Lock screen without having to log in.

Windows 8.1 offers more colors and backgrounds for the Start screen – including ones with motion. You can even choose your desktop background as your Start screen background, creating a greater sense of unity and familiarity. And the Start screen in Windows 8.1 features a variety of tile sizes including a new large and new small tile, so you can organize your Start screen exactly the way you want it. It’s also even easier to name groups and rearrange tiles. You can now select multiple apps all at once, resize them, uninstall them, or rearrange them. We also found people were accidentally moving tiles on their Start screen so in Windows 8.1, you press and hold (or right click) to move things around.

You can view all apps just by swiping from the bottom to view all apps, and we’ve added the ability to filter your apps by name, date installed, most used, or by category. You want the Start screen to be about all the things you love. So when you install a new app from the Windows Store, we no longer put that app on your Start screen. Instead, you’ll find these apps under apps view as mentioned above and marked as “new” where you can choose to pin the apps you want to your Start screen.


In Windows 8.1, the Search charm will provide global search results powered by Bing in a rich, simple-to-read, aggregated view of many content sources (the web, apps, files, SkyDrive, actions you can take) to provide the best “answer” for your query. We think this will really change the way you interact with the Web and with windows making it quicker and easier to get things done. It is the modern version of the command line!

Quick actions include things you would want to do like play a song or video. Results from local files, apps, and settings are easily accessed in the same convenient view by scrolling to the left.

Apps and Windows Store:

We will be improving all our built in apps that come with Windows 8 for Windows 8.1. For example, the Photos app now has some new editing features that lets you quickly edit or adjust photos when you view them in the Photos app or open them from other places like the Mail, SkyDrive, and Camera apps. And our Music app has been completely redesigned to help pick and play music from your collection. We plan to talk more about updates to the built in apps in Windows 8.1 and some brand new apps we will be introducing in a future blog post.

We’re also making improvements for using multiple apps at once in Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 brings variable, continuous size of snap views. You will have more ways to see multiple apps on the screen at the same time. You can resize apps to any size you want, share the screen between two apps, or have up to three apps on each screen if you have a multiple displays connected, you can have different Windows Store apps running on all the displays at the same time and the Start Screen can stay open on one monitor. This makes multi-tasking even easier. Also in Windows 8.1, you can have multiple windows of the same app snapped together – such as two Internet Explorer windows.

The improved Windows Store in Windows 8.1 is designed to show more info than before in Windows 8 with detailed lists of top free apps, new releases, and picks for you on the homepage. The app listing is more descriptive and informative and includes an area for related apps to help with app discovery. Categories are listed with other app commands such as links to your apps and your account information. App updates install automatically in the background as well as they come through the Store. And search is available in the upper right hand corner for finding the apps you want.

Cloud Connectivity:

In Windows 8.1 your files can be saved directly to SkyDrive, so you can always have your files with you. The new SkyDrive app gives you access to your files that are on your device or in the cloud, and files are accessible even when offline.

Also, when you log on to your Windows 8.1 device with your Microsoft account ( by default), your device magically becomes personalized with your settings and apps, making switching or setting up a new device really easy.
PC Settings:

The updated PC Settings in Windows 8.1 gives you access to all your settings on your device without having to go to the Control Panel on the desktop. You can do things like change your display resolution, set power options, see the make and model of my PC, change the product key, let me do Windows Update, and even join a domain – all from PC Settings. You can even manage SkyDrive from PC Settings as well and see how much available storage you have (and buy more if needed).

Internet Explorer:

Web browsing continues to be one of the most popular activities on any device. That’s why with Windows 8.1, you also get Internet Explorer 11 (IE11). IE11 builds on the advancements in IE10 and is the only browser that is built for touch. IE11 will offer even better touch performance, faster page load times and several other new features we think you will enjoy. For example, you can now adjust the appearance of modern IE11 to always show the address bar and you can have as many open tabs as you like. And you can access your open tabs in sync across your other Windows 8.1 devices.

Better Mouse and Keyboard Options:

PCs today are evolving for a world of mobile computing where people interact with their devices through touch, and we designed Windows 8 for this. But we also recognize there are many non-touch devices in use today – especially in the commercial setting. As such we’ve focused on a number of improvements to ensure easier navigation for people using a mouse and keyboard.

We’ve improved the way you navigate to Start with the mouse by changing the Start “tip” to be the familiar Windows logo. The new tip appears anytime you move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen, and is always visible on the taskbar when on the desktop. There are also options to change what the corners do, and options to boot into alternate screens. For example, if you prefer to see the Apps view versus all the tiles, you can choose to have the Start screen go directly to Apps view.

Windows 8.1 will be available later this year as a free update to Windows 8 users via the Windows Store. Microsoft will release a preview of Windows 8.1 on June 26th, the start date of its Build developer conference.

Hacker's Using New Techniques

As cybercriminals put more effort into sophisticated attacks against spicific firms, they are not just using email to get to company's users. They are also making phone calls.

Posing as Business Partners

This is what has been happening recently, specifically in a recent phishing campaigns against European companies, according to security firm Symantec.

Several French companies reported receiving calls from scammers trying to get their employees to open malicious files.

The calls were made to finance and accounting staff in the companies. The scammers claimed to be employees from other departments or business partners and asked the employee to process an "invoice" that was on its way by email.

However, the "invoice" attached to those emails was actually a Remote Access Trojan that, if installed, let the criminals control the victim's PC.

According to Symantec, this type of scam has a good chance of success. This is because employees process invoices all the time and may think nothing of the request.

In addition users are probably more likely to trust someone who makes a phone call instead of just an email.

However everyone should be aware of this new threat. Hackers are always looking for new ways in which to get in touch with employees including email, social networking and know phone calls.

Any suspicious or unusual communication should be considered and investigated before proceeding with the request for information or action.

Remember it is critical to:
  • Avoid opening attachments or URLs (websites) from unknown senders.
  • Verify a link's address before clicking on it.
  • Never send any sensitive information in response to an email request. 
Local Example of This Type of Scam

Probably related to this is the recent report of phone call scams being made to mobile phone numbers. For example I personally have received dozens of calls from someone "reporting to be from Verizon" on my mobile number. The "caller" leaves a message each time suggesting I return their call for "important information regarding your Verizon account". These types of calls are almost always from some sort of cyber criminal. If you receive calls of this nature, simply call the "provider in question"  using a phone number you previously had on record.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Virus 101

    What is a Computer Virus?

    Most infections take place on Windows machines, and even though many people think that Macs are immune to infections, they are not! Yes, Macs do a better job in the infection department and although you may not have to be as concerned about catching a bug as a Windows user, it’s always good to know what infections are and how they can put your data in jeopardy.

    So what types of malware can your computer get? Well, just like diseases a person can catch, the list is a long one that can be broken up into categories. That is because each infection can have a unique strain or method of infection. Here are the 3 most common types of computer virus:

    Backdoors - This type of malware creates a software hole in the computer which creates a sort of open door policy allowing an attacker to run anything they want on your computer without being stopped by your computer’s defenses.

    Trojans - These types of infections act just as their name predicts. A seemingly harmless file when run unleashes nasty code that tears down your computer’s defenses from the ground up.

    Rootkits – These are the worst infections out there. Not only does this malware infect your computer, but it fights back! If the infection gets stopped, a rootkit can restart itself, copy itself or even move itself. These are masters in the art of concealment, and often make removal next to impossible. Many times the only course of action is a complete format of the hard drive.

    Generally, malware that infects your system combines any of the above 3 elements for specific purposes. For example, some malware installs a program called a keylogger, which records everything you type hoping to catch credit card numbers and personal information which could then be later sold and used against you.
    Sometimes malware stays quiet on your computer until the attacker wants to activate it. Generally, the attacker will wait until he has infected a few hundred thousand computers, and then he essentially has enlisted your computer in an army of other infected computers without you even being aware!

    Your sympoms in these cases will include a very slow running computer and various program errors or pop-up messages.

    You may ask yourself, “Why would anyone want to do that?” Well if you are a bad guy triggering a an army of computers to visit a single website multiple times per second he can easily bring down entire websites just from the sheer number of connections. If you are a true “bad guy” this cause and effect is exactly what you desire.

    Then there is the malware that appears to be an antivirus that will (for a small fee) gladly remove all of the nasty programs that it itself installed. This one is very popular and I have been asked to clean computers because of this hundreds of times. This is important - so pay attention. Never ever pay anything when prompted by one of these malware programs. That’s because once you pay, they will ask for more, and more and more to squeeze as much money as possible out of you with no intention of ever fixing the problem!

    The problem with most malware is that the moment it runs on your computer, it will disable almost all of your protection which makes identifying it incredibly difficult.

    So here are 4 easy tips for identifying malware on your computer:
    1. If a message pops up on tour screen asking for personal information - do not provide it.
    2. If your computr has been infected bya computer virus, shut it down without delay.
    3. Do not troubleshoot the problem with the infected computer.
    4. If you are unable to remove the virus yourself, contact a technology professional.

    Computing in the Past

    Wow. I found these today in my closet. An actual opened box of DS,HD Diskettes. And the best bonus of all is that there is a free 11th disc included. Now if I can I find a reason to use these.


    Tuesday, May 28, 2013

    Nokia's Verizon Flagship Launches

    I have been using a Windows Phone almost exclusively since October 2012. Other then the time I was at Disney World last December and switched back to my iPhone for the week I have been one - with my Windows Phone. Up until last week Verizon's best Windows Phone was the Lumia 822. While the 822 is a very good phone - it is not a great phone. The form factor of the 822 is kind of boxy and has a plastic style which I was not a fan of. While OK, the camera of the 822 was also a little sluggish and poor in low light environments. Well enough about the 822 let's move on to the 928.


    The rectangular chassis is made of glossy white polycarbonate. Nokia has also squared off some of  the curves, leaving the 928 with a slicker, more angular look then it's older sister phone the Lumia 920, available exclusively on ATT. The rear panel is rounded, which helps to somewhat mitigate the slippery plastic. Surprisingly the Lumia 928 is only available in white and black. I say this because almost every other Nokia Lumia phone has an assortment of colors to choose from.

    The 4.5-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 2 display and its glossy black bezel extends to the edges of the device very nicely. Branding for Nokia and Verizon sit atop the display with a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. Capacitive buttons for Back, Home and Search are underneath the screen.


    As with most Nokia Windows Phones, buttons for volume, power and camera are located on the right side of the device. A microUSB port, headphone jack and SIM card port line the top of the device. The 8.7-megapixel Carl Zeiss rear-facing camera is prominently positioned along the back of the 928 next to a large flash. A 4G LTE logo sits near the bottom of the panel above an oval-shaped speaker.

    The 928's 4.5-inch, 1280 x 768 AMOLED display delivers an abundance of vivid color coupled with superb contrast. Text remains sharp even when zoomed in.

    I am very impressed with Nokia's decision to place the 928's speaker along the rear panel. As a result, there's less of a risk of muffling the sound when holding the phone in landscape mode. The phone speaker fills a small room with rich, full audio better then any phone I have ever experienced.

    Plugging in a pair of headphones lets you take advantage of the built-in equalizer, which lets you choose from custom audio profiles, such as Bass Boost or Vocal Boost. The Dolby Headphone setting boosts levels even more, making songs sound richer. My problem here is the music interface is much more complex then it needs to be and the software struggles with album art and often gets album/song and artist information wrong.

    Windows 8 Interface

    I really like the dynamic, customizable Live Tile interface of Windows Phone 8. There is always something happening on screen, which keeps things fresh. You can pin a variety of content on your Start screen, including people, apps, websites, photo albums, music albums, notes, directions and more.


    Live Tiles can be resized using your choice of three options. Just long-press to make a tile smaller or as large as a rectangle that stretches across the screen. This gives users a lot of flexibility.


    The Lumia 928 features an impressive 8.7-megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics. The f/2.0 lens, combined with a new Xenon flash, promises superior low-light photography. I tested this is my darkened home office (below). As you can see, the photo is very bright.

    The 928 also has a trio (yes 3) of high-audio-amplitude-capture (HAAC) microphones that will capture distortion-free audio even in noisy settings.

    The 1.2MP front-facing camera shoots stills and video in 720p.


    This is where many people will stop. Windows Phone 8 stills lacks the sheer number of apps available on both Apple and Android phones. That being said, the app store has grown a lot since October 2012 and many of the standard apps are available such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare. Sure CNN, ESPN and Zite are there buy I really miss my TiVo, SiriusXM and LogMeIn apps.

    On the plus side here most of the Windows Apps look much better then their Apple and Android counterparts. I am sure that the Windows Phone 8 app store will continue to grow. That being said, I really hope that by football season there is a Sunday Ticket app.


    The Nokia Lumia 928's 1.5-GHz dual-core CPU with 1GB of RAM was snappy when navigating menus and launching apps. The Calendar, CNN and ESPN apps took about a second to launch. The camera from time to time can be a little sluggish but in it's defense I have found this to be true with almost every smartphone I have ever used, with the possible exception of the iPhone5.

    The Nokia Lumia 928 comes with 32GB of storage. Unfortunately, the phone lacks a microSD slot for further storage expansion.

    Battery Life

    Normal use usually finds me needing a charge after about 8 hours which is comparable to most smartphones of it's quality. Once nice advantage Nokia has here are wireless charging stations. With one of these you can charge your 928 by simply resting it on the charging station.


    The Lumia 928 is a solid amd compelling Windows Phone option for Verizon shoppers who have been waiting to get their hands on Nokia's PureView camera. While a little on the heavy side, the  design makes for a sleek, easy-to-manage device. The included camera apps and enhanced audio quality, as well as the brighter AMOLED display are major highlights. If you are getting tired of carrying around that same old iPhone and if you can live without some of the apps Verizon's Lumia 928 may be the tight choice for you.

    "Star Trek Continues"

    What a year to be a Star Trek fan. Last week "Star Trek Into Darkness" premiered to amazing reviews and box office records. Also this year at least 15 Star Trek books are being published. If that was not enough for the average Trekkie, "Star Trek Continues" a new live action web-based series from Vic Mignogna's Farragut Films premiered this past weekend. "Star Trek Conitnues" is considered a "fan film" which is nothing new in the history of Star Trek. However what is new is the quality of its craftsminship.
    Vic Micnogna & Todd Haberkorn
    Unlike "Star Trek Into Darkness", "Star Trek Continues" does not even try to play to a "hipper" "cooler" audience. It does not have to because box office revenue is not their concern. You see "Star Trek Continues" only really has one goal which is to take the USS Enterprise on the fourth year of their five year mission. If you recall the original series was cancelled in 1969 after completing their third year. This has bothered fans ever since. "Star Trek Continues" is not the first "fan production" to attempt this. In fact "Star Trek Phase II" premiered in 2004 and has produced 7 quaility episodes to date.

    I have been a fan of "Star Trek Phase II" sinice 2004 but I must say I was especially impressed by the production and quality of "Star Trek Continues". Their first episode is titled, "Pilgrim of Eternity" and benefits from some very significant guest stars including Michael Forest who reprises his role of the god Apollo from the second season episode, "Who Morns for Adonis?" which originally aired on September 22, 1967. Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi from TNG) is the voice of the ship's computer. James Doohan's son, Chris Doohan reprises his father's iconic role of "Scotty". Chris Doohan is a major highlight here. Doohan has appeared in cameos of the 2 most recent Star Trek films. If that was not enough Jamie Bamber (Apollo from Battlestar Galactica) plays a red shirt. 

    If you are a fan of the original series check out the first episode of "Star Trek Continues". The nostalgia you experience will be over whelming. May the adventures continue with "Star Trek Continues!"

    You can learn more about "Star Trek Continues" here.

    You can watch the episode here as well.

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    News & History

    I realize and I apologize that I have not written any tech articles during the past week or so but I have been really busy and there has not really been any tech news out there that would grab your interest. That's not to say that there are not exciting things on the horizon. There certainly is!

    Active Projects
    Interactive projectors are scheduled to be installed in our municipal building next month and with any luck we will be launching "West Chester Connect" in early July.

    Windows Phone
    I continue using a Windows Phone and for the most part this has been my primary mobile device since October 2012. This operating system has continued to grow and improve in big ways since it's launch. I am looking to make a decision this summer in respect to the mobile devices we use at the Borough. Since Blackberry's departure as our primary mobile phone an assortment of Apple and Android devices have been issued. The problem here is that it can be challenging to support so many different mobile devices for the staff. This situation in addition to the seamless integration of Microsoft Office, Skydrive, SharePoint & Lync will probably lead us to adopting Windows Phone as the official phone for our staff this fall. Stay tuned.

    Microsoft 365
    Microsoft has scheduled our organization for a system upgrade on June 1, 2013. We covered the changes that are coming during our technology training this month. If you missed the training you can check out the slideshow here. The big improvements that many of you will see is the ability to upgrade from Office 2010 to Office 2013 and to access Microsoft Office anywhere through Microsoft's new Office Web Apps.

    In addition to all of this news I wanted to make available this great short video which goes through the history of Microsoft Windows. It is amazing that Windows has been with us so long (1985).

    I can remember each and every version. Can you?

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Classical Conversations Presents.... 
    Homeschooling Through High School with Robert Bortins, CEO Classical Conversations
    The benefits of and practical advice for homeschooling through high school with Classical Conversations.

    Scranton, PA
    Thursday, May 23rd from 10am-12pm
    Green Ridge Assembly of God, 825 Greenridge St. Scranton, PA 18509
    Doylestown, PA
     Thursday, May 23rd from 6:30pm-8:30pm
    Covenant PCA Church, 4000 US 202, Doylestown, PA

    Coatesville, PA
     Friday, May 24th from 10am-12pm
    Cornerstone Fellowship, 101 Kylies Rd, Coatesville, PA 19320
     Camp Hill, PA
    Friday, May 24th from 3:30pm-5:30pm
    Giant Super Food Store Community Room, 3301 Trindle Rd. Camp Hill, PA 17011

    RSVP to Gloria Bayne

    (RSVP is appreciated but not required)

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Klingon gets Binged

    Lt. Commander Worf
    Star Trek Into Darkness officially premiers in theaters on my birthday May 16th (Thank You JJ) and coincidentally Microsoft’s Bing has teamed up with Paramount to celebrate with a very cool feature.

    Now anyone can use Bing’s Translator to translate text and whole websites into Klingon, the alien language spoken by the always angry "turtle headed" alien warrior race. (For instance, majQa’ means “well done!,” which is exactly what I have to say when using this new tool.)

    Bing has added Klingon to our earth bound languages in it's Language Translator.

    You can access the Klingon translations via the Bing Translator website or through the Windows Phone Bing Translator app. Yes - Windows Phone finally has an app that Apple and Android does not!

    The translations are done using the Klingon alphabet Kronos (see screenshot above) or a direct translation using the English alphabet. For example I was able to find out what it would sound like if Lt. Commander Worf wished me a happy birthday. If you are curious it would sound something like "Quch mann neb qoS".

      

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Grand Prairie, TX Mayoral Race and Others ~ May 11, 2013

    Will You Vote for These Relationships for the New Grand Prairie, TX City Council?

    The Block photo a859988d-d7c1-48ca-90c5-d22e4551291e_zps9a3a08e8.jpg

    Will You Cast Your Mayoral Vote for the Long-Serving CouncilmanRon Jensen, Who Reportedly Signed the First Shale Gas Mineral Lease in Town (With Chesapeake)?  Many may not realize that Mr. Jensen Must Recuse Himself on Most Every Gas Drilling Issue.

     photo 0a8dbd91-4f9d-4718-8efe-c2a497cab926_zps76b679e2.jpg

    Does It Matter that Former City Councilman 

     Mark Hepworth (on January 18, 2011) 

    Shocked Many of Us 

    When He Proposed Maintaining  Protected Use Setbacks for Gas Drilling 

    at 500 Feet from Homes, Schools and 

    All Places Where People Live and Work? 

    (We were there. We recommended 1,00o Feet.  

    We absolutely know how that vote went down.)

    Whatever photo 6cab1ef1-8d15-408b-a1e0-6025a641641d_zps1410561a.jpg

    Who Would/Will You Vote For? Or will you Abstain from Voting Like Mr. Jensen?

    Your Call. Your Vote.

    Who Will Handle Her Best?

    There's a Decision To Be Made.

    Potential Hazards (HC) Lie Ahead.

    Spur 408 Southwestern Dallas County, TX photo fb30bbb9-e873-47bc-a506-22b2268bdaa6_zpsd29c889f.jpg

    It's Clear Where We Stand. 

    No Fracking photo 3ab7d2e7-aec1-4d7b-a546-51fc3ae8727d_zps6ee547bd.jpg

    Click Here for the Voting Precincts for Grand Prairie, TX. Polls open at 7:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM.   

    Thursday, May 9, 2013

    And the Winner Is ~ Mayor Dr. Bob Cluck is the Best of the Worst in North Texas!

    We don't fully understand all the upset about bike trails by these Arlington, TX residents.   

    But we do understand being upset by time limitations during Public Meetings.  

    Any North Texas Mayor who proclaims, 

    "I'll Smile If I Want To!"   

    deserves the Prize and All the Kudos.

    Therefore, Mayor Cluck is the Winner! Hands Down.

    Beginning in the summer of 2011, it seems the Arlington, Texas City Council and especially
    the Mayor went off the tracks. Click on over to the Fishcreek Monitor
    to see some more of that derailment. In the world of public administration,
    this is probably a textbook version of what you don't want to happen.
    But it did. And it's a lesson in politics. People like to be heard no
    matter what their viewpoints. If politicians in America don't want to
    listen, maybe they need to do something else.
    Or move to another

    If you haven't already voted early, be sure to vote this Saturday, May 11, 2013!  In Texas, it's now one of the few things we own that can't be taken by private industry via eminent domain.  

    Hold on to it with your dear life. 


    Official Notice for the Grand Prairie, TX Municipal Elections:

    Precinct Locations.  VOTE!


    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    2 Spocks!

    Ok I admit this article only strives to do one thing. And that is to make me happy. Today Audi premiered their new commercial which includes not one but two (yes 2) Spocks. This is quite possibly the best Spock commercial ever, and not just because there are 2 of them. I never ever thought I would here Mr. Spock reciting from "The Hobbit" but here you do. Thank You Audi. If I could afford to buy one - I would, just because you gave me 2 Mr. Spocks.

    U.S Senate Moves Towards Taxing Online Shoppers

    Tax Laws Are Catching Up To The Internet
    Shopping on the internet is about to get a little more expensive. For years many states did not charge taxes when shoppers made purchases on the internet. I saw the writing on the wall that this was really going to end when last September internet giant began charging PA sales tax for shoppers in our state.

    I saw another sign of this when a retailer we do business with contacted me a few weeks ago stating that we would be receiving an invoice in respect to the tax that we "should have been charged" on a purchase.

    Another shoe dropped late yesterday evening when the U.S. Senate passed legislation to force Internet retailers to collect sales taxes for state and local governments.

    The vote was 69-to-27 in favor, and included senators from both major parties which demonstartes support on both sides of the aisle.  The vote sends the issue to the House of Representatives, where it must be passed in the same form before it can be presented to the president to be signed into law.

    The Marketplace Fairness Act, allows U.S. states to force online retailers with more than $1 million in annual out-of-state sales to collect sales taxes from customers and remit them back to state and local governments.

    The actual bill, introduced in the Senate ss S.743 and you can read it here. The House version is named H.R.684 and you can read that one here.

    Get To Know DNS

    Did you ever wonder how you can type into your web browser and it instantly transports you to the official website for Star Trek. Our how you can shop at by simply entering into your browser? This magic is all made possible by something known as the Domain Name System, or DNS.

    You can think of DNS as the phone book of the internet, which is really what it was intended to be.

    DNS was born way back in 1983 as part of the emerging internet. DNS is critical because without it reaching destinations on the internet would be a much more complex task.

    It is DNS that converts www.startrek.cominto which is the real internet address of the official home of Star Trek. Give it a try by typing in into your browser and see where you end up. Very simply DNS converts the real numeric internet addresses into friendly hostnames that we can easily remember.

    There is a lot of stuff going on when you browse the web.
    I am discussing this because we are fast approaching the 30th anniversary of DNS. This is an amazing technology that we use every day on the internet. What is so amazing about this is that the translation into the “friendly hostname” is made so quickly and with so little effort (on our part) that many do not even know this translation is occurring.

    How does this happen on my home computer? There are several public DNS servers that provide this service. Your computer normally uses the public DNS servers which are pre-configured in the router you have at home. So what happens at home is that when you type a web address into your browser, lets say you PC talks to your router, then your router go to the Public DNS server it is setup for and translates it back to your browser. This is all done in a blink of an eye. Amazing.

    DNS is an example of what I call “invisible technology”. Something that everyone relies on and the majority are unaware of its existence.

    You can look at a list of some public DNS servers here.

    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    If finally feels like spring! Here are two opportunities to get you and your students thinking about the outdoors (thanks Zabrina and Monika!):

    May 10 is National Public Garden Day... Free Garden Admission just go to this site and print your pass.

    For those of you in DE, 2 free trees delivered to your home in honor of National Arbor Day!

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    WC Technology Newsletter - Spring 2013 Issue

    The monthly "West Chester Technology" newsletter which has been dorment since January has been re-configured as a quarterly publication. I simply did not have the time to issue this monthly. However I did not want to give up on it entirely so quarertly issues it is. 
    The Spring 2013 Issue
    The Spring 2013 issue is here and many of the articles on it do not appear in the technology blog so be sure to check it out.

    You can download the issue here as well as on the right side panel of this fine blog.

    Boost Your Wireless Signal

    I recently noticed a big decrease in my wireless signal strength at home recently. It seemed that only last summer I could sit out in my back yard, removed from society for a few moments and able to stream my favorite music on my wireless network. Well this spring the signal had really degraded and I had some work to do. I was able to increase my signal strength. 

    But how?

    It is important to know that these days, there are more demands on wireless networks than ever.
    With the influx of mobile phones, tablets and laptops, fewer devices are tethered to network cables, especially at home. But as we all know, the strength of wireless signals can vary greatly.

    Here are several ways you can help boost wireless access and speeds across your home or office.

    Location, Location Location - Make sure that your access point is in a central location to all the users who will need wireless access. Your basement is almost always the very worst place.

    Material's Matter - Keep the router away from metal objects. The can interfer with the signal.

    Use the Antenna - The antenna that came on the router? Yes. It actuall works. Find the position that works best for reaching user's devices. If you are still having issues try upgrading to a new antenna. This is cheaper than purchasing a new router.

    Avoid Overload - Check to see how many devices are connect on your wireless network from time to time. Add more routers or access points if it gets to crowded.

    Upgrade Regulary - The signal is only as strong and secure as the firmware behind it. Make sure you keep it up to date.

    Changing Channels - Your router broadcasts on "channels". You can change these as well if your are troubleshooting.

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    Malware Trouble for Bing?

    When you search the web did you know that there is a possibility of the results including malware? Sadly this has recently been found to be true. A recent study of this problem found that while Google rarely turned up malware, Microsoft’s Bing had five times the number of malware hits as Google.  There is no need to panic because even with this the percentage of these malware hits was very low. But you should always remember the following, regardless of which search engine you like to use:

    Avoid sponsored links. These are the links highlighted on the top of the search results. These were paid for and are not necessarily the ones you want.

    Trust, but verify. You are usually safe trusting Google & Bing but these search engines do not guarantee safety.

    Stay on topic. Avoid searching for gossip and celebrity news. It is a popular hiding place for malware.

    Protect Your Data

    As part of a continuing theme in this technology blog is re-enforcing the need to keep your data protected, both at work and at home. Be aware that there are many ways in which you can lose your data. I believe it is important to know the various ways in which such a loss can happen so that you can be well prepared in case they occur.

    Here are the most common ways in which you can lose data:

    1. Virus attacks – malwares, bugs and Trojans can attack the computer system causing it to malfunction, and or distort data.

    2. Theft– thieves may decide to take a person’s computer therefore taking with them a person’s files and data.

    3. Disaster– floods and hurricanes as well as fires may cause damage to a computer system thus making it impossible to access files in it.

    4. Own accidental mistake – This one is actually very common – so beware! You can accidentally delete a file or some data by giving a wrong command if you are distracted or you not really understand the command.

    5. A hard drive can suddenly crush causing everything to come to a standstill. This is also all too common.

    6. Malicious tampering with the data from a person with an evil agenda.

    7. Power surges.

    These as well as many other less common reasons make it necessary to find ways to protect yourself from losing important data.

    Below are 5 ways to protect yourself from losing your data.

    1. Back up files on an external hard drive. The external hard disk is kept at a different place from where the main computer is unless when transferring files into it. This helps when someone is trying to tamper with information and does not know that the files are saved elsewhere. The information is protected when a computer has been damaged by viruses. This is the most common way used to protect oneself from long data.

    2. Have an antivirus application and constantly update it. This obviously helps to keep the viruses in check. These applications if running properly will well scan and destroy any bug that may attach itself onto files. Catching the bugs in good time protects the system from executing wrong commands which cause data to be distorted, deleted or makes the computer hard disk to crush.

    3. Back files up on an offsite facility or use cloud services. There are many consumer solutions out there such as Corbomite and Mozy.

    4. Print hard copies. Data that is complete when printed can be saved on hard copies. This is helpful when the said data needs to be kept for a long period of time and the soft (electronic) copy of it has been damaged or deleted.

    5. Keep the computer in a good environmentand service it when necessary. This means blowing dust off of it, repairing it and generally keeping the environment around the computer clean and without clutter. You should also avoid placing food and drinks near the computer because accidental spills can cause damage.