Yahoo is a joke!

August 20, 2010

I used to use Yahoo for lots of things.  Yahoo would provide me email, news, stock quotes and of course messenger.  In a free market there’s the leader of the industry (Google) and then there’s the underdog (Yahoo).  Even though Yahoo search was out before Google it lacked the precision Google brought to finding the exact thing you are searching for.  I always believe that in any industry you should have fierce competition.  Competition brings down cost to consumer and force the companies to strive to be innovative with their products.  Just look at the computer industry.  All those competition in the PC market has lead to powerful computer system that anyone with job could afford.  Let’s not get off the subject here.

What has Yahoo done to me lately that has ticked me off so much that I’m willing to drop them in the recycle bin like yesterdays newspaper?  Is it that Yahoo mail has a poor spam filter?  Is it that Yahoo search (it’s core business) just sucks at finding things? Is it that Yahoo doesn’t allow me to retrieve my email other than to visit it’s portal?  None of those things bother me enough to drop Yahoo.

The thing that ticked me off the most, well it’s actually two things.  First thing that ticked me off is Yahoo messengers update recently.  A few days ago I updated Yahoo messenger to it’s latest version (10.something) and the damn thing install Yahoo Toolbar without asking me.  My beloved Firefox now has this hideous toolbar that I find absolutely unnecessary plastered at the top.  I thought Mozilla is a people minded company and would not allow add-ons to install itself without the users knowledge.  I guess I was wrong.  So I ignored it and a few days gone by.  Once in a blue moon I would fire up Internet Explorer.  BAM, Yahoo messenger update installed the @#$! toolbar on IE also.  That was not the thing that broke the camels back for me.  It was, listen up Yahoo, it was that you changed my homepage to Yahoo without my consent.  That itself is a heinous act.  I specifically set my homepage to a site that is actually useful and Yahoo had the audacity to set it it’s website.

Yes, I know how to change it back but that’s not the point.  To have software from a public company do this has to say something about the company’s integrity.  I’ve always rooted for the underdog (Yahoo) but this time it’s bye bye.  My one single vote is to say good bye to Yahoo for good.  I’m moving my services over to Google or even Microsoft.  Yeah, yeah I know in about five years Microsoft is going to buyout Yahoo.  Mark my word Yahoo is going down.  Down like the clown it is.

Luminance HDR (aka qtpfsgui) 2.0 is now available!

June 17, 2010

If you are into photography then you’ll most likely have heard of HDR images.  These wonderful images are created with software that merge three images into one.  You can create these wonderful images with the proper software.  Of course, the almighty Adobe Photoshop can do this but do you have a few hundred bucks for it.   A great alternative is Qtpfsgui ,now known as Luminance HDR.  Version 2.0 is available now for both Windows and Linux versions.  However, it’s no longer free.  Luminance HDR 2.0 for Windows is selling for 15 Euro.  If you hurry you can still get the previous version at cnet.com.  It’s the previous version that was free.  So hurry before cnet updates it’s database and remove version 1.90.

Marlboro for Babies!

June 16, 2010

Can you really return a Redbox rental anywhere?

June 9, 2010

If you ever rented a movie from Redbox you would see that they claim you can return the movie anywhere there is a Redbox kiosk.  So I decided to test Redbox’s claim that you can rent a movie at one location and return it at another location.  I rented Decent 2 in Spokane, WA and I took it with me on my flight to San Jose, CA.  The distance is about 916 miles apart.  I found the closet Redbox to where I was and returned the movie then waited for the “successful” message that apears whenever you return a movie.  The successful message appeared and I was glad not to have to wait until I’m back in Spokane to return the movie. By the way, Redbox has increased the fee to $1.15 for a movie.

Fixed: Microsoft Windows 7 random shutdown, event ID 41, task category 63

April 12, 2010

Log Name:      System
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power
Date:          3/29/2010 12:59:12 PM
Event ID:      41
Task Category: (63)
Level:         Critical
Keywords:      (2)
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:      Vu-PC
Description:
The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event”&gt;
<System>
<Provider Name=”Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power” Guid=”{}” />
<EventID>41</EventID>
<Version>2</Version>
<Level>1</Level>
<Task>63</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8000000000000002</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime=”2010-03-29T19:59:12.752414500Z” />
<EventRecordID>32190</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID=”4″ ThreadID=”8″ />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Vu-PC</Computer>
<Security UserID=”S-1-5-18″ />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name=”BugcheckCode”>0</Data>
<Data Name=”BugcheckParameter1″>0x0</Data>
<Data Name=”BugcheckParameter2″>0x0</Data>
<Data Name=”BugcheckParameter3″>0x0</Data>
<Data Name=”BugcheckParameter4″>0x0</Data>
<Data Name=”SleepInProgress”>false</Data>
<Data Name=”PowerButtonTimestamp”>0</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

The above error event happened on my PC for about 2-3 weeks and I couldn’t figure out why for awhile.  My PC would be running normally with all the usual apps running.  Messenger, Firefox, Windows media center, etc. all at the same time.  The random shutoff would happen every few hours, sometimes 3 hours other times 5 hours.   Everytime, it would just shutdown without any warning or sign of failure.  At first I checked with Windows 7 support and forums and found out that many people had this issue with Windows 7 RC.  I was running Windows 7 Premium, not RC.  I read more and more people on the forums saying this happens to them with a new build so of course they blame the software and not the hardware since the hardware is new.  It seems everyone was pointing to the software.  However, I didn’t suspect the OS but actually the hardware.  The reason I suspect that I had a hardware failure was the fact that the shutdown was sometimes a restart.  The PC would shutoff and then try to restart itself.  Sometimes it would work and other times it would go into a loop shutting off and restarting by itself.  That clearly made me think it was the hardware since after the instant shutoff the OS is not in control of the PC anymore but the hardware is. Opening up the case I found that there was a huge amount of dust. The dust had clogged up the heatsink causing the airflow from the fan that would normally cool the CPU to not reach the CPU. The actual problem was my CPU was overheating.  All the dust inside the case has caused my heatsink to become ineffective.

Solution (At your own risk):

Open up the case and carefully remove the heatsink.  Clean out the dust that is in the tower.  I used an air canister to clean the dust that was stuck inbetween the heatsink grill.  Then I cleaned out the dried up thermal paste.  You need to apply new thermal paste directly on the CPU.  It’s recommended that you place the paste on the center of the CPU so when you place the heatsink the paste will spread out evenly.  Now, my CPU runs cooler and the whole tower runs quieter.  The PC does not shutdown randomly any longer.  I suspect some of the new builds that has the random shutdown problem has to do with the incorrect or loosely heatsink install.

My first Bing cashback!

April 7, 2010

At first I was suspicious of Bing cash back program.  We all remember those horrible experience with mail-in rebates that seems to never be filled out correctly and so denied.  Bing cash back program is the exact opposite.  All you really need is to have an account with Bing that will link when you use Bing to search for the item you are looking to buy.  When you find the item there is a gold coin next to the link and if you purchase using the link you get your cash back.  Cash back range from 1% to 20%, depending on the store or item.  You can even get up to 8% back from ebay.  You just have to use the buy it now function and pay with your Paypal account.  I really think Bing cash back is the easiest program to get cash back, better than MIR.  One thing you do have to remember is that the cash back has a 60 day waiting period, in case you decide to return the product.  So far I am loving this cash back program because it is so simple to use.  Almost a no brainer if you are an online shopper.

How to increase taskbar thumbnail preview size in Windows 7

March 6, 2010

Here’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  I’ve always thought the preview size on Windows 7 were a bit too small.  I have a decent size monitor, about 22 inches, and so whenever I hover over the taskbar to preview what I’m working on the size is so small that I have to move closer to the monitor to see what’s going on.  This little registry hack makes the size to a much more easily viewable size that I’m comfortable with.  You can get the instructions here on how to change the size.

How to remove annoying green volume bar

March 4, 2010

I use my HP desktop everyday.  I blog, read emails, surf the web and also watch TV on my PC.  No, not internet TV but actual over the air HD quality TV.  My HP Desktop has a built in TV tuner and also a remote control to go along with it.  However, whenever I change the volume on Windows Media Center there’s this annoying green volume bar that pops up each time I click on the volume +/- controls.  The pop up last a few seconds therefore I have to wait a few seconds between each click.  That’s the annoying part.  The volume control goes from 0 through 50.  Imagine waiting a few seconds to change the volume if you needed to quickly drop or raise the volume.

This annoying volume bar is actually not part of Microsoft Windows 7 system but is related to Microsoft.  It’s a built in feature of the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.  Follow these steps to disable the annoying green volume bar.

1. Click on Microsoft Keyboard

2. Go to Key Settings and scroll down to Volume and click on configure

3. Uncheck Display volume and mute status on screen

FIXED!

Paypal Email Phishing

March 3, 2010

Email phishing is nothing new but I guess there’s still plenty of people falling for the scam otherwise I wouldn’t get one in my inbox.  Here’s a Paypal email phishing email that I recently received in my Yahoo mail.  How did I figured out it was a bogus email?  It’s pretty simple if you look carefully.  First sign that this is a fake email is the sender’s email address.  The sender’s email is ‘no-reply@accountsettings.com’ but the email body states that it’s from paypal.com.  Most legitimate email from any company would end in @company-name.com. Second, and probably the most important sign that this is a phishing email, is that there is a “link” to verify your account.  Anytime there is a link embedded inside an email I would definitely not click on it.  Always go to the company’s website directly to log into your account.  Also, if you hover your cursor over the link (DO NOT click on it) you would see at the bottom of your browser that the link goes to some weird long-named URL.  That’s usually the tell-tale sign that the email is bogus.  Third and lastly the least important sign that this is not a legitimate email is that there is no info on you from the sender.  The email just say’s “Hello” to no name.  Wouldn’t an email from a company that has your info send you an email that would start out “Hello yourname,”.

If you happen to be lucky to get one of these make sure to report it to the real company so that the can make sure there customers are aware of the scam.  For Paypal you can report email phishing at spoof@paypal.com.  You probably won’t get a human reply email but you will get a computer generated general email stating that they received your email and won’t email you any further on the reported email.  Also, you can report the spammers to the Federal Government at phishing-report@us-cert.gov and they will use the it for their research.

Opting out of personalized advertising

February 21, 2010

Web advertising is a necessary evil.  Ninety-nine percent of online contents are “free”.  You need not to shell out a credit card or pay for services like email, news, games and online storage.  However, to support all this “free” service web advertising is the main revenue for website owners.  Microsoft advertising displays ad that are relevant to your Bing search history and places them along your search queries.  You can opt out of the personalized ads through this link.  Once you complete this form MS will place a cookie on your PC to disable tracking.  If you delete this cookie the opt out setting is also removed and you will have to redo the opt out process.

However, this only eliminate “personalized” advertising.  It does not eliminate advertising at all.  The ads will still be there based on your current search and not on past searches.  All this really does is eliminate the tracking cookie that Microsoft uses to keep a history of your searches.


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