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    March 31, 2014
    Happy World Backup Day

    When it comes to computers, there’s one thing you need to do on a regular basis if you care at all about potentially losing all your information, and that’s back up your files.  If you don’t back up your files, well, then you take your chances with losing all your content, all your pictures, all your music and books, and so forth.  With the cloud, it’s even easier to make sure all your information is preserved in case of a disaster scenario, but not everyone is willing or able to walk that line hence the necessity of a day dedicated to backing up files.  It’s World Backup Day!

    I’m not sure why World Backup Day is on March 31.  I guess because if you don’t back up, you’re an April fool of the highest order?  I’m not sure.  Either way, if you haven’t backed up your files and information, make sure to do that as soon as you can.

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    March 29, 2014
    Office For iPad: What To Know

    One of the most unsurprising developments of the software world is the app-ization of standard software.  You have a program you use on your desktop or laptop, you’re going to want to slap the same program on your iPad so you can do whatever it is you do on the go.  I was just complaining in my previous post about the lack of Blizzard games on my tablet, and now one of the world’s leaders in productivity software has stepped to the plate and gotten with the times.  Apps are the future of everything, and Microsoft, for once, is ahead of the game.  Microsoft has released Microsoft Office for iPad.

    Of course, there are catches.  The apps, Office, Excel, and Powerpoint, are free to download and have limited functionality.  If you want the full range of powers, you have to subscribe to Office 365, which is $100 a year but features licenses for up to 5 devices.  A second flaw is that the three apps have to be downloaded separately, rather than together as is the case with Office Mobile.  There are other issues, like being forced to use SkyDrive and being unable to print or insert videos into PowerPoint presentations, but those may well be resolved in the future.  Still, it’s better than nothing!

    As for me, I’ll be waiting for an Open Office or Star Office for Kindle.  I stopped paying for word processing software years ago and I could not be happier with my free, functional, and universal options.

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    March 27, 2014
    My Dream Tablet Game

    I’m enjoying my Kindle Fire even now, and aside from reading and watching videos on it, the thing I use it for most is gaming.  I played a bunch of The Simpsons: Tapped Out until the file ate my game and destroyed my little yellow community of friends.  I play some Injustice: Gods Among Us, the DC fighting game featuring all your favorite Batman villains.  I’ve even played some Sonic The Hedgehog courtesy of a free app I got off the Amazon store.  That’s all well and good, but I have a dream game that I would love to play on my tablet:  Diablo II

    I miss having a computer on which to play Diablo II, and I worry that it wouldn’t play nicely with my laptop considering it’s not meant to run on Windows 7.  I have enough trouble with Fallout III, to the point where I don’t even bother to really play it anymore because it is so non-cooperative even in compatibility mode.  However, I’m pretty sure you could get Diablo or some other roguelike onto a tablet with no problem aside from finger cramps from obsessive tapping.

    What say you?  What classic video game of your youth would you love to have on your tablet or smartphone for those boring moments when you’re stuck waiting in line and the idea of starting yet another game of Words With Friends is enough to make you want to break down sobbing?

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    March 26, 2014
    Billboard Shames Texting Drivers

    There are a lot of laws on the books these days that punish distracted driving.  No talking while driving, no texting while driving, no tinted windows, and so on.  All to protect people from themselves and their behavior.  Texting while driving is the newest bugaboo, and a San Francisco graphic artist has decided to take distracted drivers to task in a very public way.  Brian Singer has put up a billboard to shame folks caught texting while driving.

    “Day after day, I’d look out the window, and I was really surprised at how many people are driving distracted,” Singer told PCMag in an email.  ”Phones in hand, looking down, or sometimes putting on makeup or other things.”

    The billboard runs along Highway 101 in California, and it’s not there to shame folks, but to raise awareness, according to Singer.  Those that haven’t made the billboard end up on Singer’s website, Texting While In Traffic or TWIT Spotting.  It’s amazing how many people straight up don’t look at the road while they’re driving.  Here’s hoping that those caught making this dangerous mistake will correct their behavior after a good public shaming.

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    March 25, 2014
    “You’ve Got Mail”: A Voice From The Past

    I love the fact that I’m no longer tethered to a service like America Online to get to the Internet.  Even DSL is faster than AOL ever was, and there’s a whole world of cable, fiber, and satellite options that put old reliable dial-up Internet services like AOL to shame, but there’s one thing I have to admit that I miss.  I miss hearing “You’ve got mail!” every time I signed on.  A friendly male voice through my computer speakers, welcoming me and telling me goodbye, reminding me I have mail to read and letting me know when my downloads were finished.

    YouTube Preview Image

    It was a different world back then, but fortunately Jim Breuer has an appreciation of the past and he tracked down a very special person.  You won’t recognize his face and they never bother to tell us his name (his name is Elwood Edwards), but you’ll recognize that voice if you used a computer at any point from 1989 until about 2001.  That’s right, it’s the voice of AOL himself in the flesh.  Check out the video above!

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    March 21, 2014
    Microsoft Offering $100 Rebates To Ditch Windows XP

    If you’re one of the thousands of holdouts who is still using your Windows XP computer, you should probably be aware that on April 8, Microsoft will be retiring one of the most successful operating systems of all time, and that means the company will no longer support, issue patches for, and use security protection for XP.  That’s a bad thing for the consumer and an even worse thing for Microsoft, since no company really likes to leave customers behind.  Microsoft is offering $100 rebates off Windows 8 products in an attempt to get consumers to finally leave XP.

    Of course it’s not just free money, it’s also some other benefits.  Namely, Microsoft is offering 90 days of free Windows 8 tech support and free data transfer from your old XP machine to your new Windows 8 box.  Will that be enough to get consumers to switch?  Maybe, maybe not.  Lots of companies are going to be paying a lot of money to keep their Windows XP machines supported, as Windows XP powers everything from cash registers to ATMs.

    Still, the offer is much better than nothing, and there’s probably still time to get a Windows 7 machine if you’re not quite willing to go full-throttle to Windows 8 without the in-between step, but at this point you’re probably better off giving in and going Windows 8 like everyone else is apparently going to.  Check out the Windows Store for all the deals and details on Microsoft’s rebate program.

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    March 21, 2014
    Fun Friday Videos: Kids React To Rotary Phones

    It’s Friday, it’s March, and you’re probably wishing you were at the park or watching basketball or doing anything other than sitting at your place of employment, manning a phone or typing on a computer.  I know that’s how I feel!  So, to lighten up  your afternoon and get reacquainted with some technology from the not-too-distant past, here’s a great “Kids React To” video from the Fine Brothers.  They do a bunch of these sorts of videos about everything from old technology to viral videos, and this is probably one of my favorite ones.  It’s  elementary school kids reacting to a rotary dial telephone.

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    It must be a sign of my age that when I was that age, I regularly used a rotary dial telephone at my grandmother’s house (and a push-button phone at my parents’ place) so even then I wasn’t lost on rotary dial.  Then again, I also didn’t grow up with a smartphone or even a cordless phone, so looking at a rotary phone must be like looking at a percolator to them.

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    March 19, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: The New Xbox 3600

    Image via Destructoid

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    March 18, 2014
    Buttery Toasty USB Hand Warmers!

    Spring may be approaching on the calendar, but the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating.  Yeah, we may have a couple of nice days in the low 60s, but the mornings are still cold and a few days ago we had snow here in Kentucky.  Snow, in March, in the south!  I know in two months I’ll miss the cold, but for now, I’m tired of having my hands crack and bleed from cold, dry air, and I’m tired of my fingers and toes being chilly all the time.  Fortunately, there are a whole range of USB hand warmers out there just waiting for you to stick your feet or hands into, but my favorite just might be the line from Smoko, who manufacture a whole range of hand and foot warmers featuring cuddly toast-based characters.

    For example, the Smoko Toast Butta USB Hand Warmer features smiling pieces of toast to keep your hands nice and toasty!  I’m sure the heating element is a little small, and one of the common customer complaints is that it doesn’t heat your whole hand, just the back of your hand, but who cares when your hand warmer is that cute?  Plus, if you’re going to be typing and want your hands to be warm at the same time, I’m not sure there’s a better option that allows fingertip freedom while still warming the knuckles and bones to keep those digits dancing along the keys.

    Image via Cheezburger

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    March 15, 2014
    The US Government Giving Up Internet Control

    As the country that invented the Internet way back when, it’s only natural that the United States government had some level of control over the names and use of said computer network web.  However, that’s changed in recent years, as the web has truly become the World Wide Web, and the US Government’s roll in overseeing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has become something of a hot-button issue.  Now, the US Government is stepping away from controlling the Internet.

    “The timing is right to start the transition process,” said assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information Lawrence E. Strickling.  ”We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan.”

    One of the goals is to provide more transparency to how ICANN works, and inviting the international community to take part will definitely make that easier.  Now the Commerce Department will be letting those chains go.  As it turns out, it only took over ICANN control in 1998, after one of the original pioneers of the Internet, Jon Postel of the University of Southern California, passed away.  Now that control is going to what will probably end up being some sort of committee akin to the United Nations.

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