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Friday, January 30, 2004

PC Annoyances by Steve Bass

This is one of the best books on Windows fixes that I have read in a long time. We all face those little, bothersome problems with our Windows-based computers, but we often don't know exactly how to solve the problem. PC Annoyances can solve a host of these problems with a single reading.

If you want to reduce the frustration of using Windows, get this book today!

Free web-based virus checker/cleaner

For those of you who are away from your home machine, or those who can't afford a standalone virus checker, TrendMicro offers Housecall.

Housecall was developed a a demonstration of TrendMicro technologies but it can discover and remove a wide variety of Windows viruses.

Career-Op: The Little Things

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

As we begin another year I am starting a project with all of my current clients. I am making a big effort to address some of the smaller high-tech problems that have lingered over the years. Sometimes, in the heat of fighting the big battles, we just don’t have the energy to address the smaller problem, which can often be much more difficult to resolve. Now is the time, though, to finally solve all those nagging issues and make everything work like it should.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

New products available from Cafepress

I have added a new store to my Cafepress collection. It contains products with this picture, from my recent trip to Sicily.

Check out the wide selection at:


Additional stores are also open at:



Is it time to delete Internet Explorer?

The fact that this question keeps coming up week in and week out points to the answer. Once again, Microsoft's Internet Explorer is found to have a crippling security hole that can allow anyone to trick you into downloading a malicious file, while masquerading as a innocuous data file. (See New Explorer hole could be devastating, TechWorld.com, January 28, 2004)

It seems obvious that Microsoft is incapable of plugging the holes in their software, or, worse still, doesn't care. For my clients, I am going to start a more concerted effort to find a replacement that protects their computers while providing similar functionality. This is something I should have done a long time ago. Luckily, as a Macintosh user myself, I already have an excellent alternative in the Safari browser provided by Apple.


It looks like Microsoft is addressing one issue that is being severely abused by spammers and scammers, as shown in this post from Lockergnome.

Internet Explorer's Handling in HTTP and HTTPS URLs
Microsoft plans to release a software update that modifies the default behavior of Internet Explorer for handling user information in HTTP and HTTPS URLs [Lockergnome Tech News Watch]

Book for geeks among you

This new title from O'Reilly sounds quite interesting. As I get older, I find myself becoming more adventurous in investigating the fringes of high-tech oddity. Maybe I can put my coffee pot on the Internet so my clients will know when I am too over-caffeinated to talk to them. (SMILE)

New: Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks
O'Reilly & Associates announced Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks by Scott Fullam, which offers an array of customized electronics projects from hacking a toaster to web-enabled coffee machines. [MacInTouch: Mac news, information and analysis]

Monday, January 26, 2004

New Windows Virus/Worm

I am not usually inundated by virus/worm mailings that travel about the Internet, but the most recent one, "called MyDoom, Novarg and as a variant of the Mimail virus", is showing up in my mailbox with alarming frequency. I would say that I have seen 30-40 copies of this bug already.

Be aware of these virus threats and remember to think carefully before opening an unknown file attachment.

Via News.com

Apple Security Update 2004-01-26

Be on the lookout for this new Security Update for Mac OS X in your Software Update system preference. It patches a variety of issues, listed below.

Security Update 2004-01-26 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This update includes the following components:

Apache 1.3
Windows File Sharing

Additionally, Security Update 2003-12-19 has been incorporated into this security update. Those components are:
AFP Server
ASN.1 Decoding for PKI
Directory Services
System Initialization

Apple Knowledge Base Docs via RSS

MacOSXHints.com points to a resource providing access to tech notes from Apple, in a variety of categories, via RSS syndication.

This is a great way for techs to monitor the latest troubleshooting info coming out of Apple without visiting the site every day.

Kudos to Syndic8.com for providing easy access to this information.

From MacOSXHints.com...

View Apple Knowledge Base documents via RSS
Apple is now offering Knowledge Base articles via RSS newsfeeds. Grab your favorite RSS newsreader (NetNewsWire, SlashDock, etc) and head on over to syndic8.com for a list of all available Apple feeds. [Mac OS X Hints]

Saturday, January 24, 2004

What I'm Reading...

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fullfillment | Jump Start Your Brain | The Project 50 (Reinventing Work): Fifty Ways to Transform Every "Task" into a Project That Matters! | The Professional Service Firm50 (Reinventing Work) : Fifty Ways to Transform Your "Department" into a Professional ServiceFirm Whose Trademarks are Passion and Innovation!

RSS Feeds Broken...a little

For those of you reading via RSS, you may have noticed that the main link in each item is broken. Instead of linking you to the blog entry, it gives you a 404 Not Found Error. This is due to some issues with the Feedster.com RSS generation engine that I am using. Any internal links inside the entry will work fine, but the main link to the blog entry will not. You can manually edit the link by adding /blog/ after the domain name. The RSS link is missing the sub-directory part of the URL for some reason. I have emails into tech supprt on the issue and am trying to get it resolved.

Also, Blogger.com has finally turned on their RSS generation services, as well. Unfortunately, this software has an issue with the discussion group links I have been adding to posts for the last week or so. There is a possibility I will switch over to using the Blogger service if I can get it working. This means yet another change in my RSS URL, so please be patient. It make take a little while to get things worked out.

Friday, January 23, 2004

High-Tech Career Handbook - The Best of Career Opportunities from ComputorEdge Magazine

Now Available from CafePress.com

This collection of my best columns is a great gift for students who are thinking of a high-tech career, those graduating into the "real world" of high-tech work, or someone who is thinking about moving into high-tech as their second career.

Career-Op: Up and Out

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

As your high-tech career matures, you will have less and less desire to climb under desks, pull cable through ceilings and experience the mind-numbing stupor of watching software install. As the years pass, you will want to find new ways of using your knowledge and experience, while still maintaining a quality of life and career. While it might not be easy, here are few thoughts that can guide your journey from technology installer to technology manager.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Sicily Pictures Now Online

After much selection and deselection, a collection of photos from our recent trip to Sicily are now online. I have endeavored to put some descriptions on the photos, but if you would like more information about a location or photo, drop me an email and I will fill in the blanks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History Events

January 31, 2004 - 2-3 pm

Mochi Making

Watch Kodama Taiko pound rice into mochi, used to make Japanese sweets and offerings. Then sample a mochi treat!

January 31, 2004 - 3-5 pm

Sake Tasting

Explore the fascinating lore of this rice wine, and sample a wide variety of sake. Sake tasting requires reservations 310/ 825-8655 and costs $10 per person for non-members, $5 for Fowler members.

Parking is $7, so consider taking the business of other form of public transit.

Now we're coooking...

Today's LA Times Food Section has an excellent article on finding recipes and ingredients on the Internet. A gastronomic world with reach by Regina Schrambling holds lots of information for the Internet foodies in all of us.

When I returned from Sicily at the beginning of this month, I went looking for online resources for a few of the products I found there. This article gives me a few more places to look.

Buon Appetito!

Monday, January 19, 2004

Linksys WMP54G issues

I had an interesting problem today installing a WMP54G PCI Wireless Card in a Dell Dimension 2400. I didn't take the time to determine the exact cause of the issues, as I got it working, but the problem related to 2 possible issues.

It is possible that the card had difficulties functioning on both Slot 1 and 3 on this PC. Moving it to slot 2 eventually allowed it to install and function properly. Secondly, when the card was screwed into the backplane, the rear of the card would become unseated from the PCI slot.

I am writing this here in an effort to head off any problems if you are working with a similar card.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Before you get new glasses...

This tip from MacMerc could be just the thing for those of us whose eyes are starting to remind us just how old we are. Zoom nn on any part of the Mac OS X screen to read fine print and more.

From the web site...

Digital Zoom
I'm sure that some of you have poked around all of your System Preferences, including the Universal Access pane, but you'd be amazed at how many Mac users are unaware of "Digital Zoom". It's time to learn more. [MacMerc]

Old man in the computer

I got a Wacom tablet as a late Christmas gift from my sister and I am sooooo happy. I have wanted one of these for the longest time, but couldn't really justify purchasing it myself.

This is the first quick sketch I did with the tablet.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Career-Op: Simplicity

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

It is easier to buy a computer today than ever before. For your average user, any computer system they buy will have more power and more software than they will ever need. In fact, the biggest problem most users will face is learning how to use all the power they are given without getting hopelessly confused. This is where you and your high-tech experience come into play. With thousands of people buying new computers, or upgrading their existing systems, every day, they need your expertise to help them from going astray.

Discuss High Tech Careers

Lecture Series

De-mystifying Wildflowers

Saturday, 1/24 - 2:00pm

National Park Service Visitor Center

Join Park Ranger, Ken Low, and learn simple steps to help you identify our native plants and shrubs. Get prepared for this year’s wildflower season.

Site info & directions: 805-370-2301

Discuss Events

Friday, January 16, 2004


Free After Rebate watches and publishes info on the large number of "free after rebate" sales available today. This comes on the heels of another site I always recommend, the More Stuff 4 Less Bargain Blog which reports on special deals as they occur.

Both sites also offer RSS feeds, so you don't have to visit them every day to stay informed.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Adelphia Cable Modem Followup

A few days ago (here), I wrote about reducing the cost of your Adelphia cable modem service.

After that post, I received more info from my friend and fellow tech expert Sam over at NightsNWeekends.com. Sam says that the using your own cable modem, and saving the $3/month "rental" charge is fairly easy now. This unit, Motorola SURFboard External Cable Modem works great and doesn't require a call to Adelphia tech support to get it working. He has installed several of the units and is very pleased.

Circuit City's price is $60, after a mail-in rebate. At $3/month rental, the payoff time is 20 months.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Personal Firewall Day - January 15th, 2004

If you have ever wondered just why anti-virus software and firewalls are a necessary part of your daily, computer life, Personal Firewall Day can help you out.

Here you will find information on the how, why and where of keeping your computer secure from malicious attack.

Share this resource with your friends and clients!

From the web site...


McAfee, Microsoft, Sygate, TruSecure and Zone Labs Sponsor Industry-wide Cooperative Public Service Initiative Endorsed by the Information Technology Association of America and the SANS Institute

San Francisco, CA – On January 15, 2004, America’s top computer software and security organizations will mark the start of a nationwide public service effort to educate consumers on protecting their home computers. Novice computer users can learn how to find and use tools that
will protect a PC connected to the Internet from hackers on the Personal Firewall Day Web site (www.personalfirewallday.org.) Personal Firewall Day is also a call to firewall experts to share their expertise and advice with the their friends, family, and the public. The effort is sponsored by McAfee, Microsoft, Sygate, TruSecure and Zone Labs. In addition, both the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) and the SANS Institute, a leading security information and training organization, have endorsed Personal Firewall Day.

Info contributed by Sam at NightsNWeekends.com

LA Conservancy Walking Tours

Experience Unknown Los Angeles.

They also have a free, self-guided walking tour of downtown LA on their
web site.

Discuss Events

Introducing the Metro Day Pass Available January 1

The convenient way to ride all day.

Our new Day Pass makes it easier than ever to go Metro! You can ride any Metro bus or rail line all day long for just $3. If you board three or more times, you’ll save money over the single-fare price.

Buy your Day Pass on board any Metro Bus or at any Metro Rail station. You’ll get all of LA for 3 bucks a day!

Note: Additional zone charges required on freeway bus routes.

Senior/Disabled/Medicare rate for Metro Day Pass is $1.50. Additional 25¢ fee required to transfer to municipal bus lines (Senior/Disabled/Medicare 10¢).

Information provided by the MTA web site.

Discuss Events


Basket-Making Demonstration

January 18, 2004. 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Southwest Museum/Autry Museum - Griffith Park Campus

Join Lorene Sisquoc (Fort Sill Apache) as she demonstrates Cahuilla basket

Discuss Events

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Microsoft Updates for January are available

Microsoft's once-monthly Windows updates are now available. You can access them by visiting http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.

This article from Microsoft Watch offers more information:

The January Microsoft Security Bulletins Are Out
.. but the Internet Explorer vulnerability discovered at the end of 2003 is not addressed by any of the new updates. What is in the trio of January updates are fixes to an ISA Server 2000, Exchange Server 2003 and various Windows data-access-component breaches. [Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley]

Monday, January 12, 2004

Good news for Win 98/ME users

CNET News offers up this story that confirms a long extension to support services that were supossed to end this week.

Older Windows versions win renewed support
Microsoft prolongs support for Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME until June 30, 2006. Support for Windows 98 was scheduled to end Friday. [CNET News.com]

The Princess Bride on the Big Screen

LA Blogs has info on a screening of one of our favorite films this Friday at the Nu-Art. Pity it past our bedtimes, though. (SMILE)

Midnight films
Do you love the Princess Bride? Up for a Midnight viewing of it? The Nuart theater on wilshire will be showing it at midnight Friday January 16th. Why pop in a dvd and watch it on the small screen when you can watch it on a huge screen with others! Here are a few other midnight showings at the Nuart...
Battling Rodents of Unusual Size! The Princess Bride · Jan 16
New 35mm... [L.A. Blogs]

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Nature Journaling: Wintertime

SUN 1/18 11am

Sooky Goldman Nature Ctr

Glories of Franklin Canyon

Renew your spirit through nature journaling. Enhance the way you look at the natural world around you. Provide yourself with a record of your observations, thoughts, and feelings. Bring a sketchbook or pad, pencil, pen, and a small folding chair for your comfort. 2hrs WODOC

From the Santa Monica Mountains Outdoors Guide

Discuss Events

Living History Day - Los Encinos State Historical Park

January 18, 1-3pm

16756 Moorpark St. Encino CA 91436-1068

Phone: 818-784-4849 - FAX : 818-784-0621 - laha@pacbell.net

Photos from previous event

Discuss Events

Saturday, January 10, 2004

eBooks for your PC and you Palm PDA

University Of Virginia's E-Book Library

U of V is providing another avenue for finding eBooks that are readable on your computer or your Palm PDA. These eBooks are out of copyright items that are freely available in the public domain.

eBooks are a great way of carrying literature with you. I keep several books on my PDA all the time so that I always have something to read, even if I am standing in line at the grocery store or post office.

Via [Lockergnome Bytes]

Discuss eBooks

Rosanne's new book available for pre-order

My wife, Rosanne, has been busily editing a new book over the last year with close friend, Dawn Comer Jefferson. Today I noticed it had finally appeared in Amazon's catalog and is available for pre-ordering.

Three Ring Circus is a nonfiction anthology of stories by dual-career parents about how they manage to "balance" parenting, their relationship and work, while still maintaining some semblance of sanity. We are looking for true stories focusing on the joys and frustrations of parenting while working, as well as tips and tricks for keeping it all in balance. Stories should be about your experiences as a dual-parent, working couple and written in a style which is honest and open - the way you wish you could be with your friends, family and coworkers.

Available from Seal Press - May 2004

Pre-order your copy today from Amazon.com

Discuss Three Ring Circus

From Set to Screen - Paramount Ranch

SAT 1/17 9:30am

Illusions and hard work turn a dusty set into a realistic town. Join aranger on this easy-paced walk to discover movie magic and the history of Paramount Ranch. 1hr NPS

From the Santa Monica Mountains Outdoors Guide

Discuss Events

Weblog Awards 2004

The nomination form for the 2004 "Bloggies" is now up and operating. Stop by and nominate your favorite blogs (including this one...(SMILE) in a myriad of categories.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Beware fake Windows XP update

Computerworld has an article on the latest Trojan horse program masquerading as a Windows update. Please be aware and advise those around you.

From Computerworld...

New Trojan masquerades as Windows XP update
A new Trojan horse program known as Xombe or Dloader-L is spreading via spam e-mail and masquerading as a Windows XP software update from Microsoft. [Computerworld News]

Reducing the cost of Adelphia’s Powerlink -- and others

After receiving an advertisement from SBC Yahoo DSL, offering high-speed service for $29.99/month for one year, I made a mental note to contact Adelphia, provider of my Powerlink broadband service to ask if there was a way to reduce my costs.

My wife, the expert negotiator in the family, made a fairly quick call to Adelphia, was connected to Sales and made her pitch. With seemingly little effort, the sales rep lowered our price to $29.99/month to match the SBC Yahoo deal. Down from 46.95 This is a $16.96 savings/month or $203.52 over the course of a year.

We could reduce that even farther ($3) by purchasing our own cable modem instead of renting one from Adelphia. I have a friend who has done just that, although there is a bit of technical hassle involved. I think that I will investigate this further, though.

If you use Adelphia Powerlink, or other broadband service, consider giving them a call and asking them to match or exceed the SBC Yahoo DSL deal. You might find yourself saving quite a bit of change.

Spontaneous Failure of Linksys Router

I had an interesting service call today involving a Linksys BEFW11S4 Version 4.0. I installed this router a little over 3 weeks ago and everything seemed to be working fine. After I returned from my recent trip, the owners informed me that it had stopped working.

I finally got to “lay hands” on the unit today and it was immediately clear that its firmware was corrupted or missing. The unit flashes its power light to indicate this condition. Luckily, even with damaged firmware, you can still re-load the correct firmware.

After downloading the latest firmware from Linksys and a bit of fiddling with network settings, I was able to connect to the router and re-install the firmware. The unit immediately woke up and started to function. Upon logging into the unit, I realized that the new firmware was version 1.5. If I remember correctly, the unit came with 1.47.x originally. The look and feel of the new firmware is quite different.

My question to you is this…what would cause a spontaneous failure of the firmware in this router? The users did nothing to the unit, they wouldn’t know how. They say that there had not been a power failure or any power problems. While I am glad I was able to restore the unit, I would like to try and discover what caused it to fail in the first place.

Career-Op: One by one

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Over the years I am sure you have experienced the “never-ending project” -- a project, program, or issue that never seems to get finished or resolved. These problems linger from year to year and no one ever seems to find a solution. Worse still, the longer they linger the worse they get. People get angrier, recriminations become nastier and the problem becomes even more intractable. If you want to keep your high-tech career on track, you need to face these never-ending issues head on. It won’t be easy, but it can prevent these issues from haunting you and your career from year to year.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Target Mode can save the day on Macs

Target mode is a feature on most modern Apple Macintosh computers that allows you to mount the hard disk of one computer on another computer.

This is accomplished by connecting a Firewire cable between the 2 computers and then starting up one of the computers while holding down the “T” key on the keyboard. After a minute or so, the Firewire appears on the screen floating from side to side.

Once this is accomplished, and if everything is connected properly, the hard disk of this computer will appear on the desktop of the other, allowing you to move files to/from the other computer.

I hadn’t thought about this feature in quite a while, as I don’t often have the need for it. All my computers here in the office are networked via Ethernet, so I use that methods to move files around.

That said, I have had 2 cases in 2 days when Target Mode has saved the day. In one case, a client’s G4 Desktop system would no longer boot. He could use his iBook to work, but there were several important files on the desktop machine that he needed for presentations the very next day.

After thinking for a few minutes, I remembered Target Mode. I had no idea if Apple’s desktop units supported this feature, but we gave it a try. Sure enough, even though the system wouldn’t boot, it would go into Target Mode. The hard drive mounted on the iBook and the files were quickly moved over. Even more, we did this completely over the telephone.

It is obvious from this case that the hard disk itself was not damaged. More than likely the OS 9 system folder had become damaged and could no longer boot the unit. If the hard disk had been damaged in some way, this method would not have worked.

So, the next time you find yourself with a machine that won’t boot, but it still has important files on it, try out Target Modem. It just might save the day.

Additional Resources:

Target Disk Mode (TDM): Networking with FireWire - Sort of by Ben Bryant

Target Disk Mode, Mac OS: How to Connect Two Macs using FireWire and Target Disk Mode

01/09/2004 Updated to repair bad links

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Upcoming Mac Office Release Screenshots

The folks over at Lockergnome have a story pointing to 10 screenshots from the upcoming Mac Office 2004 release from Microsoft. If you use MS Office, you might want to take a look.

Screenshots of Microsoft Office 2004
We have posted up over 10 screenshots of the upcoming Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac. [Lockergnome Bytes]

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

What I'm Reading...

The Greatest Stories Never Told : 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy | The Return of the King Visual Companion: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion (The Lord of the Rings) | Re-imagine! | Disarmed : The Story of the Venus de Milo | An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America

Pecore nella via

Yes, Sheep in the street...or roadway, actually. Both times we visited family in Agira we had to run the gauntlet of sheep. Quite fun, really, and something you would never see in LA.

Sheep in the Street, Agira, Sicily

Monday, January 05, 2004

Throw-away email addresses

There are times in your Internet travels when you need to provide an email address in order to receive registration codes, correspond with a new aquaintance, etc. Providing your real, day-to-day email address can lead to receiving more SPAM/Junk Email.

DodgeIt.com provides an easy-to-use, receive-only email address that can be accessed via a web page or by using your favorite RSS reader.

I have several occassions when this tool might be very useful and will report more on its use in the future.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

WelchWrite Newsletter now available

The latest edition (January 2004) of the WelchWrite Newsletter is now available. This is a monthly offering that I email to my clients and friends. It contains links to interesting technology news stories, new software and updates, web links and a short article on some technology topic.

You can subscribe to the email version of the newsletter by sending a blank email to subscribe@welchwrite.com

Click on the image below to view the newsletter.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Career-Op: 2004

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Despite what some people might think, the New Year is not some magic wand that can wave away all the problems of the last year. Was it only so! Instead, the New Year is simply a demarcation, a line in the sands of time, a pointer that reminds us where we are in our lives. The usual problems will still be there awaiting our attention on January 2nd, but we can use the New Year as a gentle reminder to rededicate ourselves to our families and our careers.


Acicastello, Sicily

Return from Sicily

We returned from Sicily last night. Still getting adjusted to the time change, but should have a few updates for the blog today.

Lots of stories and photos from our trip coming soon.