[ccc-news] Assorted News 8 🙂
In this edition:
AVG update information
Some problems with Equipmentless VoIP
Learn to Touch Type the fun way.
A Thing that goes Bing?
Big Brother fans.
Exetel activation down to $88
The Odd Jobs of the last month.
AVG Update Information
About 70% of you use AVG Free Edition. As a result, most of you will by now have received a message from AVG recommending that you get AVG version 8. Just like two or three years ago when this last happened, the message largely entices you to go and buy a high-fallutin’ version which is overkill for most people – to the extent that it’s not clear that there’s still a free version.
There is a free version still, and you can get it from http://free.grisoft.com/ww.download?prd=afe
I am not sure how long version 7.5 will continue to work for – at a guess probably a month or two. It may magically turn itself into version 8, but that’s not known at this time.
It appears that part of their reason for this upgrade is to offer you a new yahoo toolbar and AVG security toolbar – so they’re hoping you’ll use these to search for things and thereby earn Grisoft (AVG’s authors) a commission along with some useful internet usage tracking. (It seems every program you install these days wants to install a toolbar so they can earn revenue from a search engine!) These components are optional of course. If you’re on dialup or a low download account I’d suggest you don’t install the toolbars as they will add some traffic to your connection when you’re on the ‘net. For all people I’d also recommend you don’t ask for a daily scan when setting up despite it asking for one – it’s always scanning in the background anyway and a computer doing a full scan is usually a bit slow and annoying!
The free version download is just under 47 MB in size, so it will be very difficult to download if you’re on dialup – approximately 5 – 10 hours to download if you don’t get disconnected. So, if you’re on dialup and you do want to download it, you might first want to download “Free Download Manager Lite” from http://files.freedownloadmanager.org/lite/fdminst-lite.exe which will allow you to continue downloads even if your line drops out and you have to reconnect because it continues from where it left off rather than starting again. (It’s about 2MB.)
If you don’t want to download the new AVG, email me with your postal address, and I’ll post you a copy on CD for $10 – to cover the cost of CD, Burning, Postage, time 🙂
Some problems with Equipmentless VoIP
A few of you who are using the 20c untimed equipmentless VoIP thing have had trouble with the exchange not calling you back. I am keeping an eye on this situation. Exetel has made some noises on a private forum about introducing it as a product in it’s own right – so with a bit of luck that will happen in the next month or two, bringing greater reliability with it. If you do have a problem with the service, please email or WLM/MSN me and I’ll pass the problem on to Exetel for investigation.
This newsletter’s biggest bargain is not high tech. It’s the Halogen heater – usually to be found for about $20 in supermarkets and cheap shops like The Warehouse and The Reject shop. There are two advantages these heaters have over other heaters.
1 – They’re cheapish to run. At only 1200 watts when on high, they use half the power of most fan heaters.
2 – They radiate some of their heat directionally. This means you can be in a big cold room, have one near you and keep warm despite the cold room. (They also work well in bathrooms – much better than those silly in-roof heaters that heat the top of your head while you shiver! The manufacturer doesn’t recommend use near water however so use common sense!)
The two downsides. 1 – About a 50% chance of one of the three bars failing within one year of use, and 2 – Dogs and cats – especially black ones – can singe their fur if they lie too close.
Not sure what they look like? (The heater, not the burnt pet) Click for a picture 🙂 http://www.onix.com.au/internet/product_display.aspx?rec=78
One of the nice features in Vista that is not in XP is the ability to type in the first few letters of the program you want, and it comes up for you. (Start Menu Searching.) There is a handy free program called “VistaStartMenu” which gives you that feature in Windows XP. It’s free from http://www.vistastartmenu.com/index.html
Learn to touch type the fun way!
The best thing about touch typing is that you can type without having to look at what you’re doing – which makes you more efficient. It also gets you envious stares from the typing-challenged 😉 Chatting online is one way to get a fast typing speed, as you eventually get the feel of where the letters are – but if you want to be a true touch typer you need to know a couple of little tips.
The first tip – and this might be all you need to start learning – is to look at your keyboard’s F and J keys. You’ll find there’s a little notch sticking up from them. Those are the keys that the fingers directly next to your thumbs go on. If you stick your hands on the keyboard and ensure that those two fingers stay near or on those two keys, and just use whatever finger is closest to the key you are after, you could probably adapt from a medium speed two finger peck to a low speed touch typer – and of course the more you do the better you’ll get. (I started out as a three finger typist initially – one finger for shift and two for everything else.
Now, that’s all well and good – but perhaps you want something a little better? There’s a great free program called Stamina Typing Tutor at http://www.typingsoft.com/stamina.htm – it will teach you the basics initially and gives you a picture of the keyboard on the screen so you can see where the keys are without looking down – but the best part is that you can change it over to ‘phrases’ mode and get to type in some occasionally rude phrases. It makes rude noises if you make a mistake, and has some background music as well.
A Thing that goes Bing.
Every few years I decide that I want a clock that chimes on the hour. I go and look for one, try it, and it works for a bit then crashes and gets forgotten about. My latest find at http://www.blaiz.net/CHIMER.HTM has so far been faultless. I’m using the ‘Elegance’ sound setting which basically just sounds like a triangle hit per hour for the number of hours. It does have more raucous settings of course if you want them.
Here’s a couple of recent entertaining sites.
Misheard Lyrics http://www.pajiba.com/misheard-lyrics.htm – here’s a quote from there. (May have some rude words.)
I definitely thought for the longest time that in “You Oughta Know”, Alanis was singing “It’s not fair to remind me of the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me”. Cross-eyed bear? Whatever, I was like 10. (Editor’s note: The correct lyric was “It’s not fair to remind me of the cross I(‘d) bear that you gave to me.)
Rules of Thumb http://rulesofthumb.org/ – Take these with a pinch of salt, but some are curious 🙂 Here’s a couple…
If you don’t want a cat to jump into your lap, don’t make eye contact with it.
A farting horse will never tire; a farting man is one to hire. (?? – Ed.)
If you are using a rope with a knot or a sharp bend, you should assume that its strength is reduced by 50 percent.
Big Brother Fans?
Like it or hate it, it’s back. If this year is like last year, there’s a strong chance that Big Brother episodes will appear on many torrent sites such as http://www.mininova.org (caution – lots of annoying ads on this site) – so if you miss an episode you may be able to download it to watch later. (You might need to search for Big Brother AU 08 or something similar as there are a tonne of US episodes on there.) This is true of most major TV series – but as usual the legality of this is murky. Also, since the downloads will probably be a few hundred megabytes, this won’t be an option for those of you on low download plans.
Exetel Activation down to $88
Exetel’s having a bit of an “ADSL Drive” it seems and has lowered their new ADSL activation fee to $88. (It was $145) The rates can be viewed at http://www.auzzie.net/ADSL/pricing.html
They have also introduced a new optional feature where they can slow your line down rather than charge you $3 per 1000MB over your plan’s allowance if you exceed your plan’s download limit.
The Odd Jobs of the last Month
Turn it off an on again?
I probably shouldn’t be telling you this one? Probably about 5-10% of jobs are cured simply by turning the problem bit of equipment off and on again! (At the power point that it – this actually makes a difference for computers!) This is particularly true of networking equipment and modems, as small dips in the power can be enough to confuse them.
This week saw the repair of a laptop that had a drink of coffee. Fortunately because of the design, the coffee was contained within the keyboard and did not leak through to the rest of the computer. The machine was repaired successfully 🙂
You can find old editons of this newsletter on the CCC Blog. http://auzzie.net/cccblog/