Archive for the 'News' Category

Waiting Patiently for Gmail Calendar

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If you are like me, you would love to free yourself from the ineptness of Outlook.  However, the calendar feature remains one of the only decent scheduling options available. 


I’m really not looking for another software program, so Thunderbird is out.  The real inconvenience of Outlook is not its substantial bulk, but just the fact that it is local software, and not available on the web.


Really, I want a calendar built directly into Gmail, so that it is easily available from any computer.


There has been a lot of good discussion on blogs as to how the calendar should function:
http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/004282.html


Here’s a recent blog speculating that the Calendar should be coming soon:
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Google/?p=47

Change Playback Speed of Streaming Audio/Video

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Not all streaming video is entertaining. Many universities, including Harvard, have begun streaming lecture videos online as a study aid. This is very helpful for test review or if you miss any lectures. However, lectures are sometimes slow-paced, and are often a little bit boring. It would be nice if you could bring a remote control to class, point it at the professor, and press Fast Forward.

The Enounce 2xAV plug-in allows you to change the playback speed of streaming audio and video. This plug-in is available for RealPlayer and Windows Media Player, and cleanly inserts itself into the menu bar.

The downside to this plug-in is the cost, $29.95, which seems somewhat over-priced for a plug-in. If you plan on watching lectures online frequently, this is not a bad deal at all. There is a 7-day trial period on the software, so you don’t have to pay until after you try it out. It would be nice if there were a freeware alternative to this software, but after extensive searches, this is the only option I have found.

In my opinion, this plug-in is extremely useful. I always watch lectures in at least 1.5x normal speed. The faster pace makes lectures more interesting, and saves a lot of time.  Now you can lay back in your dorm room, put on some music, and watch your professor teach quickly to the tune of Nelly.  Who said that lectures need to be boring?

You can download the 2xAV plug-in at the Enouce Website: www.enounce.com

Outlook Reminders to Text Messages

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Microsoft Outlook.  Like it or hate it, Outlook is the powerhouse of daily business routine.  Admittedly, I’ve not been using Outlook for email much lately, and have instead opted to forward all messages directly to Gmail.


There are two reasons that I still use Outlook.  The first is that I simply like the idea of keeping a local copy of my messages.  The second, larger reason is my grand reliance on Outlook Calendar.  My entire schedule is in it, including everything from to classes, meetings, and appointments, to birthdays and anniversaries.


I was thinking the other day: wouldn’t it be nice if Outlook would automatically send me text messages on my phone throughout the day reminding me of where I’m supposed to go next?   As it turns out, I’m not the only one out there who has had this craving.


Blue Lakes Technology, sponsored by Lockergnome, developed “Reminder Forwarding” – the perfect Plug-In to counter my forgetfulness.  The program is free, and places itself conveniently in Outlook.  Setup is simple, then just select your cell provider, and enter your number. 


The only downside I can see to this is that Outlook must be running for the messages to be sent.  It works great for me, since my desktop is running Outlook all the time.  But if you don’t plan on leaving Outlook turned on, don’t rely on this too much.


Download the Plug-In at www.BlueLakesTechnology.com

Networking Quick Fix: NetBEUI Protocol

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It’s been nearly a month since I returned to school. Until this weekend, I have been having networking errors between my PC’s.  I have a fair amount of experience with networking computers, but sometimes, it requires a special touch that I just don’t always have.


The network consists of  two Windows XP Professional PC’s– a desktop and a tablet.  The network is setup without a domain, with the intention of connecting via workgroup.  The computers are connected together with a standard router.


The problem would arise when I clicked on View Workgroup Computers under My Network Places.  The error message that would come up would be in the form of: 


[Workgroup Name] is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the administrator of this server to find out if you have access permissions.


On better days, I would be able to view the Workgroup, but when I would attempt to open the other computer I would receive a message:


[PC NAME] is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the administrator of this server to find out if you have access permissions.


I tried everything I could think of: I turned off the firewall. I uninstalled McAfee VirusScan. I enabled Simple File Sharing.  I disabled Simple File Sharing.  I refreshed/renewed IP addresses.  I consulted some online advice about changing registry settings.  Nothing would work. 


Finally, after spending nearly my entire Saturday morning and afternoon with this problem, I found a solution on the Microsoft Website: the NetBEUI Protocol.


What NetBEUI does, as I understand, is create a network connection based on computer name, rather than IP address.  This is helpful for people like me who switch between different WIFI networks regularly, or have other IP realted problems that they can’t quite tack down and instead prefer a quick, reliable work-around.  If you are having any errors networking between a couple of PC’s, I definitely recommend using NetBEUI. 


Caveat:  If you use a large network, this is not an ideal option, since it tends to slow down networks operating with many computers.  Also, this admittedly is just a work around, and doesn’t exactly solve the TCP/IP issue that you were having.


NetBEUI Install Directions:


The NetBEUI Protocol is easy to install.  First, Get out your Windows Install CD. Open My Computer, right-click on the Windows CD, and click Explore.  Next, browse the CD to the /Valueadd/MSFT/Net/NetBEUI folder. From there, copy the Nbf.sys file to the C:/Windows/System32/Drivers/ folder. Then, copy the Netnbf.inf file to the C:WindowsInf hidden folder. 


Next, open My Network Places, and Click on Network Connections.  Right-click on the network adapter you are using, and click Properties.  You should now see a list of the adapters you are currently using.  Click Install. Click Protocol. Click Add. Choose NetBEUI from the list.


If you would like to see the official Microsoft directions, click here..


The changes should immediately take effect, although I decided to restart both computers first.  After the restart, Voila!  Both computers were able to connect to one another and share files in My Network Places.


Hopefully this saves you from a Saturday afternoon battle with your network.

First Post

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Welcome to my brand-spanking-new weblog!


One goal of this blog is to post solutions to random computer problems that have gotten on my nerves in the past.  Hopefully these informative posts can keep a few people from struggling with the same situations that I have already tackled.


While I primarily write about computers, the internet, and finance, I reserve the right to go on an occasional rant about whatever I please.  If you don’t like it, feel free to skip ahead.

It Worked!

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Welcome to your new weblog. This is the first post to prove that it worked. Click on the title of this item for tips on getting started with your new weblog.

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