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Topics - xtabber [ switch to compact view ]

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Living Room / Google Tablet
« on: June 27, 2012, 06:37 PM »
Google announced its own brand tablet today, the Nexus 7 which looks like it should be a real game changer in the tablet wars:  A 7 inch tablet running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with a 1280x800 IPS gorilla glass screen, a quad core Tegra 3 CPU and 12 core Nvidia GPU, weighing 12 oz. and selling for $199 with 8GB memory, $249 with 16GB memory. 

It is supposed to be available in about a month.

Living Room / Publishers shoot toes off again
« on: April 04, 2012, 08:46 AM »
An interesting article  in Wired provides yet another example of how content providers would rather protect their intellectual property from theft than make it worthwhile for people to pay for it.

General Software Discussion / No more WinPE?
« on: March 22, 2012, 11:08 AM »
I received an email this morning from Paragon with the following message:

You own a Paragon product with the WinPE recovery environment. We would like to inform you that Microsoft has changed its license conditions, meaning that we will no longer be allowed to offer you the Paragon WinPE as of March 30, 2012.

If you haven’t downloaded your WinPE from the Paragon website yet, we recommend you to do so by March 30, 2012.

After March 30th, it will no longer be possible to download the WinPE recovery environment using your account! Customer service/support will not be able to send it retroactively!

I've been using Paragon Hard Disk Manager Professional for years and one of the benefits of their WinPE recovery environment is that you get to use the same full product that gets installed on a Windows system.

Does anyone know if Microsoft is putting the cabosh on WinPE  altogether, or if they just raised the price to the point at which Paragon no longer felt they could afford to provide the environment to users.  Are other products that offer WinPE also affected?

Living Room / App Store fraud
« on: March 16, 2012, 12:53 PM »
Today's NY Times has an interesting article on Apple App Store fraud, which appears to be increasing rapidly.

This could turn out to be a serious problem for Apple if it undermines public confidence that the closed and curated App Store and iTunes environments are safer than the open content and app markets provided by Google, Amazon and others.

Living Room / Apple & book publishers may be sued for price fixing
« on: March 08, 2012, 02:20 PM »
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of Justice has told Apple and five of the largest book publishers that it plans to sue them for colluding to raise the prices consumers pay for ebooks.

General Software Discussion / Linus Torvalds on OpenSUSE
« on: March 01, 2012, 03:21 PM »
From Linus Torvalds' Google+ blog:

I gave OpenSUSE a try, because it worked so well at install-time on the Macbook Air, but I have to say, I've had enough. There is no way in hell I can honestly suggest that to anybody else any more.

I first spent weeks arguing on a bugzilla that the security policy of requiring the root password for changing the timezone and adding a new wireless network was moronic and wrong.

I think the wireless network thing finally did get fixed, but the timezone never did - it still asks for the admin password.

And today Daniela calls me from school, because she can't add the school printer without the admin password.

Whoever moron thought that it's "good security" to require the root password for everyday things like this is mentally diseased.

So here's a plea: if you have anything to do with security in a distro, and think that my kids (replace "my kids" with "sales people on the road" if you think your main customers are businesses) need to have the root password to access some wireless network, or to be able to print out a paper, or to change the date-and-time settings, please just kill yourself now. The world will be a better place.

.. and now I need to find a new distro that actually works on the Macbook Air.

Living Room / Woz likes Android
« on: January 23, 2012, 08:45 AM »
Even Woz now thinks that Android devices are in many ways better than the iPhone/iPad.

Living Room / Hard drive shortage
« on: October 27, 2011, 05:28 PM »
Last month, Newegg was selling a Western Digital Black 2TB drive for $129.99 with free shipping.  Today, that same drive is selling for $229.99 plus $7.28 shipping!

Most of WD's factories have been shut down by flooding in Thailand, and since many of the components used by other manufacturers come from the same industrial parks in the Bangkok area, the cost of all hard disks is expected to soar for the foreseeable future.

Living Room / Apple and users' privacy
« on: September 07, 2011, 05:15 PM »
I gave up on Macs and OS X back around Panther, so I have no way to verify this, but if true, it is one of the most amazing deliberate privacy/security breaches I've ever seen.  What could they be thinking!

Living Room / Firefox Permissions Manager
« on: August 16, 2011, 05:26 PM »
Firefox 6.0 (released today) implements a truly useful new feature called the Firefox Permissions Manager. Essentially a database that allows you to set a limited number of permissions on a site-by-site basis.

For some reason, they don't seem to want users to know about it, so it is only accessible by typing About:Permissions in the address field.

Found Deals and Discounts / Zentimo 40% off until August 14, 2011
« on: August 09, 2011, 03:42 PM »
Crystal Rich is running a summer special on Zentimo until August 14.

40% off personal license only: $17.94 instead of $29.90.

General Software Discussion / PC Lock software for "Free"
« on: May 16, 2011, 09:11 AM »
Laplink Software is giving away their new disk encryption software PC Lock for free ("Regularly $29.95") today as an introductory offer.

So why am I not posting this in Deals and Discounts?

Because of the following in the user's guide (but not on the web page):

  IMPORTANT:  When you purchase PC Lock, you are purchasing a single
  license.  This license is a 12 month subscription to PC Lock.  For
  complete details, refer to the End User License Agreement (EULA).

  If you would like to uninstall PC Lock, you must be running PC Lock and
  logged on.  If your subscription ends and you have not uninstalled the
  program, all your files will remain encrypted.  You must extend your
  subscription to PC Lock or contact customer service to gain access to
  your encrypted files

Most of the other software titles from Laplink are also on sale today for up to 75% off, if you think you can trust these folk.

Many tech pundits (who are generally no better informed than other pundits) tell us that within a few years, we will all be running on SSD drives and only using rotating media for videos and other huge infrequently accessed files.

This cautionary tale should make folks think twice about going that route, at least until SSD devices get a little more reliable.

Note that the author is so impressed with the speed of SSDs that he is willing to live with the risk of his data drowning in the bit bucket at any moment.   Can't say that I could work that way, even though I am religious about backing everything up frequently and keep ongoing work mirrored on two desktops and a laptop.

The sword of Damocles is just too distracting to be constantly worrying about, to say nothing of the cost.

General Software Discussion / PDF to Word converter comparison
« on: May 11, 2011, 09:56 PM »
I had need today to convert a very complex document (a 20 page syndicated media questionnaire form with thousands of items in a wide variety of tables, multi-column lists and other difficult layouts) to a format that would allow me to extract text labels for use in statistical processing.

To do so, I tried two free online PDF to Word converters provided by major PDF conversion software vendors and using their software: is provided by Nitro. is provided by Able2Extract

The original PDF file is 337 Kb and 20 pages long.

The Word document from Nitro is about 3 Mb and 36 pages long (some of them blank). The formatting was mostly good, except for a tendency to wrap some lines, or place the last column of a multi-column layout on an addititional page. Pagination was generally way off from the original.

The Word document from Able2Extract is about 1.4 Mb and 21 pages long.  Formatting was generally much closer to the original and pagination was preserved, except for one inserted page that contained an attempt to reproduce a set of navigation arrows (which Nitro completely ignored).

Interestingly, both programs converted the thousands of checkboxes used in the questionnaire to somtehing else: a dagger for Able2Extract and an ellipsis (3 dots) for Nitro.

Assuming that these results are representative of the respective desktop versions of the software, I would have to say that Able2Extract is clearly superior to Nitro for converting complex documents.

General Software Discussion / A sneaky new attack on privacy
« on: May 05, 2011, 10:29 PM »
Here's an interesting new scam business model: AppsBar

I haven't tried it, nor will I, but it claims to let non-technical folk build apps interactively for Android and IOS devices, and then publish them to the Apple or Android markets, all for free.  AppsBar gets to insert advertising into these apps and collect the revenue from them.

That would be a fair bargain, IMO.

What is not is that, if you actually read through their terms of use and privacy policy pages, you find that by creating an account and using their app builder, you have opted in to their marketing database and, among other things. expressly agree that " Appsbar may sell, rent, lease, share or exchange your Personally Identifiable Information with any third party."

You won't make any money off of your AppsBar app, but you'll surely be guaranteed to get plenty of spam forever after.

Living Room / Android tablets to rival iPad
« on: February 09, 2011, 02:13 PM »
It looks like there will soon be a number of serious Android-based challengers to the iPad from Motorola, Toshiba, LG, HTC and most likely others.

The Motorola Xoom (http://www.motorola....S-EN/XOOM/index.html) should be available from Verizon by the end of this month and looks really good, except for the reported price: $800 not including a mandatory overpriced Verizon data plan.

The Toshiba Tablet (http://androidheadli...ablet-goes-live.html) looks even better, but no pricing has yet been announced.

Unless the iPad 2 due this year improves substantially on the existing screen (9.7", 1024x768), the new Android devices look to be a better choice for reading ebooks, with 10.1", 1280x800 displays.

Paragon Software has put several of their products on sale at 50% off until December 15, after which they will go to 40% off until December 22, and 30% off until December 31.


In particular, Hard Disk Manager Suite 2010 (with free upgrade to HDM Suite 2011) for $24.99 and Hard Disk Manager Pro 2010 for $49.99.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager Pro has become my first choice for backups because it combines the functionality of many programs (backup & recovery, disk partitioning, virtualization etc.), although their interface doesn't always make it easy to find some of the more advanced features. I have found it to be far more reliable and stable than other backup and imaging programs I have used, notably Acronis True Image.

The Suite has most of the features of Pro but does not include virtualization management.  See http://www.paragon-s...onal/comparison.html for details.

Since HDM Pro makes it trivially easy to convert any Paragon backup disk image into a VM for VMware Workstation, VirtualBox or Virtual PC, I consider it to be the better deal, even at full price. You can buy the virtualization manager separately, and it is great for P2V or V2P, but it's as a combination with backup imaging that it really  shines, allowing you to make working VMs from your backups much faster and more reliably than the utilities provided for that purpose by VMware and other virtualization systems.

93 has a giveway of EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard Standard Edition for 24 hours only (August 17, 2010).

No registration required, no restrictions on installations or use, no upgrades or support.

Living Room / Paragon Go Virtual P2V
« on: August 06, 2010, 11:22 AM »
Paragon Software has just released a new package called "Go Virtual" that, according to their web site, will allow even the most technically challenged to clone any Windows 2K/XP/Vista/7 PC to a virtual machine that can run under Virtual PC, VMware or VirtualBox.  The software is free for non-commercial use.

Paragon Virtualization Manager 9.5 is available for free until May 24, 2010

You can get it at: http://www.paragon-s...m/free/giveaway.html

This is the version prior to the current one and I don't know what has changed from PVM 9.5 to 2010, but if it works for you, the price is certainly right.

Found Deals and Discounts / Paragon Software Free
« on: May 05, 2010, 09:12 AM »
Paragon makes several utilities available for free for non-commercial use, including free versions of their Partition Manager and Backup & Recovery programs, Rescue Kits for both Windows and Mac, and file system drivers to read NTFS and EXT from other operating systems.

The main free software page is:

There may be some other free programs that are not listed on the main page, but do appear in the sidebar menus for some of the utilites, for example, their CD-Rom Emulator (Win XP only).

Super Flexible File Synchronizer Pro is currently available from SWREG for 1/3 off the regular price - $39.95 instead of $59.90.
This price includes 2 years of upgrades.


The email notification says the offer is only good for a short time but provides no indication as to how long the discount will be available.

Living Room / First compelling reason to switch to Windows 7
« on: March 12, 2010, 05:44 PM »
This is the first really compelling reason I have seen for switching from XP to Windows 7:

Bits du Jour ( ) has the Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Suite today for $34.95 (50% off).

I have been a long time user of many Paragon products but had been using Acronis True Image for my regular backups. Unfortunately, as Carol Haynes has pointed out elsewhere, True Image 2010 is a buggy mess. I can't even get it to install on my main work computer. While the images created by Paragon B&R 10 are not quite as compact as those created by Acronis, the program itself is faster and much more reliable. 

The suite offers many features not included in Paragon's free b&r or Drive Backup Pro, including a P2V utility. For a full list, see: http://www.paragon-s.../brs/comparison.html

Acronis is offering a free copy of Plus Pack for users of earlier versions who upgrade to True Image Home 2010, through January 10, 2010.  Plus pack adds several features present in True Image Workstation (restore to dissimilar hardware or virtual image, dynamic disk support and WinPE support) to True Image Home.;lid=2&uid=100

The cost is $29.99. Since Plus Pack costs $29.99 by itself, you can look at this either as a free Plus Pack with an upgrade or a free upgrade with the purchase of Plus Pack.

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