Category: Current Events

Acronym Update 05-16-08 – Windows XP

Dear Readers and Clients,

The word on the street is that no new computers with Windows XP will be sold after June 30th.   There are a few exceptions to the policy, but Microsoft is adamant about enforcing the deadline.  I’ve told you before that current Windows XP users have nothing to worry about because Gates & Co.  have agreed to keep putting out software updates for several more years.  In fact, Microsoft just put out a MAJOR update for XP called SP3.   If your Windows updates are not processed automatically — go to http://updates.microsoft.com from your INTERNET EXPLORER browser and download all recommended updates.   Do not do anything else on your computer while the updates are installing!!

Windows XP is actually a very stable operating system at this point.  It is still vulnerable to serious security issues, so you need an Anti-Virus package and Firewall (either software based or built into your router).  I still prefer the Macintosh OS X – current version 10.5 to anything Microsoft puts out.   Vista has been a total flop.  M.S. generally refers to a debilitating disease / condition.  However, in computer speak, the Vista product line from MS (Microsoft) has permeated through the computer world like a disease that just won’t go away.    Radio talk show host Tom Martino (Troubleshooter.com) said on his program yesterday that “Windows Vista has been the BEST thing that ever happened for Apple.”    And I totally agree.    Apple’s customers just aren’t buying the iPods and iPhones anymore.   Their Macintosh computer line has gained significant market share in the past year.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is now out and costs only $150 for the Home and Student Edition.  This discounted package is open to all “home users” now, not just students and teachers.   Note:  The 2007 home and student version of Office for Windows also sports this functionality and costs $150.   I’ve been saying for a long time that Open Office and Neo Office are exceptionally adequate, FREE substitutes for paid versions of Office software….but if you or your child ABSOLUTELY NEED a Microsoft product….$150 is a small sacrifice compared to the $500 corporate versions of Office.  One Ben Franklin and one U.S. Grant…. go for it.

If for some reason you are still uninterested in buying a Mac, Dell’s Vostro computers are some of the few that still offer XP as an installed option.  Go to Dell.com and click on Small Business.  You don’t have to own a small business to buy a Vostro.  Upon checkout, simply re-enter your name for the business name.  Currently for 2 days only, the Vostro 1500 laptop is on sale for $519.  It includes 2 GB of RAM.   At this price…..its worth buying 2!!!

Enjoy your weekend.

Acronym Update 02-01-08

Dear Readers,

A surprise news update for you today:  Microsoft has made a $44 billion bid to buy Yahoo!

I think this has the potential to lead to many collaborative innovations for consumers and businesses alike.  Furthermore,  it would create a strong #2 rival to Google in the online advertising market.  Then again we have been disappointed before by mega-mergers that never produced anything.   Do you remember AOL – Netscape in 1999?  And how about AOL – Time Warner a year later?   Here is a tissue…wipe those tears!

Here is today’s article from the Wall Street Journal on Microsoft’s offer to buy Yahoo:

http://tinyurl.com/3bxxm7

Have a wonderful day,

Kevin

Acronym Update 12/08/07

Today’s Topic:  NFL Network

Dear Readers,

Major League Baseball will always be the #1 sport in my heart, but even I realize that the National Football League (NFL) is now the undisputed national pastime.

These days, every sports related conversation centers around pro football. Super Bowl parties are some of the most anticipated events of the year and millions (possibly billions) are wagered on NFL games each year.

However, I’ve received several complains from sports fans who are enraged about not being able to see 8 prime time games this season.   The contests in question can only be viewed on the NFL Network.

The NFL Network is a television channel created by the National Football League in 2004. As if there wasn’t enough football coverage on ESPN, etc., the league saw a long term revenue opportunity in offering NFL-centered programming and several late season Thursday and Saturday evening games that they could choose at-large from the schedule. The new network would also showcase material from the highly regarded NFL Films archives.

The NFL stepped on a lot of toes on the way to establishing their network. At first the league had all but signed an agreement with Comcast to develop and produce their new concept. In fact, Comcast pledged over $400 million to the league for the rights to carry the 8 games. Without publicly stating how much they were putting into the project, the National Football League decided on a “go it alone” approach.  While I don’t support government intervention as some are suggesting, the rollout of the NFL Network has been a public relations disaster for the league.

For the 2006 season, 8 games were televised on the NFL Network.  Some fans realized that the the network was a premium channel, not carried on standard (analog) cable, and found an appropriate solution.  I think the vast majority of the viewing public felt really left out in the dark (ha, ha) on this issue, but a lot of media attention has been given to this topic recently so now many of you know what has to be done if you want to view the NFL Network.

However, if you still want to see the 4 remaining NFL Network games (over the next 2 weeks) and don’t know if you have what it takes to “get in the game,” let me review your possibilities:

1) Subscribe to DirecTV or Dish Network.  NFL Network is included on all programming packages other than the “family tier.”

2) Cable customers need to rent a digital cable box and subscribe to the appropriate programming package.   For example, Comcast customers need to request the Sports Pack.  Cost:  $7.95 per month + plus box rental (if applicable).  The NFL Network is not offered in all cable markets or by all cable providers; please ask before making changes to your subscription.  Note:  most cable providers allow you to add / remove digital packages without contractual obligations.   Theoretically, if you simply wanted to add the NFL Network for a month or two, cancel it, and then add it again next August — that should not be a problem.

3) The NFL Network is also carried on AT&T’s U-Verse TV service and Verizon’s FiOS offering.

Enjoy your Week 14 games.

Touchdown,

Kevin

Acronym Update 10/16/07

Dear Friends,

Today’s Topic: Verizon Wireless wants to share your CPNI (Customer Proprietary Network Information). You have the right to opt out!!

I came across this information yesterday and thought it would be especially relevant for sharing, since such a large percentage of you are Verizon Wireless customers. Cell phone and land line phone companies are allowed to share your call records. They can even sell this data to interested third parties. In the past, you may have received notices from other companies you do business with about CPNI sharing. By law they had to give you an opportunity to “opt out.”

Those notices were trashed long ago, right? I can’t help you there, but I do urge you to contact your banks, credit card companies, telephone and other service providers to ask them if they share CPNI and what the procedure is for opting out.

Verizon Wireless just notified customers of this (primarily by mail) recently. I opted out of the sharing yesterday for all 4 of my VZW lines. You can do the same by calling 1-800-333-9956. You will be asked for your cell phone #, your zip code, and the last 4 digits of your SSN or TIN – for business accounts. After you go through those steps, opting out for other lines on your account is very simple.

In closing I think the way that CPNI sharing is being handled, even by reputable companies, is disgusting. They are required by law “to ask for our permission.” If lawmakers were serious about our privacy, we would be given the chance to opt in….not opt out!

Yours truly,

Kevin

Acronym Update 09/20/07

Dear Friends,

Feel special….

You’re getting the 9/20 update a few hours before it will post on http://www.theacronym.com

1. J.D Power and Associates released their annual survey on broadband Internet. You can check out which companies had the best service in various areas of the country on your own, but what was surprising to me is that the average price of a broadband connection in the U.S. is $44.09 per month. Wow!! I thought with some of these low-ball DSL offers that have been floated around over the past 2 years, the average would be much less. Maybe the buying public isn’t as one dimensional as I thought…. See for yourself….

http://tinyurl.com/254ezj

2. I may expand on this in a future edition of the print Acronym, but I just want to say that I wrapped up a very difficult adventure in troubleshooting with a customer recently. The customer was really great about the whole thing and handled the matter much better than I would have. However, their DSL provider was not playing on our side for most of this experience. My client really got the “buffet treatment” of Internet trouble. Every possible problem was included in this headache. Not only was the phone wire corroded going into the pole nearest to their house, but the phone wire going from the pole to their home was also defective. Their DSL modem needed to be replaced and their router which was given a manual IP address (a programming technique rarely utilized) by a Linksys representative from Mumbai had to be reset. Ultimately, we think now that the case is closed…but we are taking a wait and see attitude. What bothers me most is that I got actively involved in this matter on 9/3 and it was not finalized until yesterday. I have not seem something Internet related to this terribly wrong since AT&T Broadband (not to be confused with “the new at&t”) changed from @Home servers to their own servers in the fall of 2002. 2 points and a star for the day, if you lived through that and are still a Comcast HSI customer today.

3. Reader request: if any of you has a college student in the family majoring in computer science or perhaps a relative who is a Comp. Sci. professor — have them e-mail me. I’m looking to conduct an interview for a future edition of The Acronym about a very specific topic and it is one that I do not have much expertise in.

Thanks for your support,

Kevin

Acronym Update 09/13/07

Dear Friends,

I was going to write a very impassioned Update on Tuesday in remembrance of 09-11-01, but I know you folks only have so much time to read e-mails. These Updates are meant to be bursts of thought and information…not carbon copies of the print version of The Acronym. So I will summarize my feelings of remembrance into 3 main points:

1) I WILL NEVER FORGET (could be cliche, but so true)

2) About 9 months after 9-11-01, I became unemployed for a period of time due to health issues and was able to read constantly. One topic that I concentrated on was Islam. I  consider myself an “unaccredited scholar” in Islamic Studies. (I can hear you pounding your desk now.) I have met many Muslims over the years who tell me “you know more about my religion than I do.” I chuckle. LOL! If there are any questions you ever wanted to as about Islam, but were too shy to ask or short on time to see the local Imam — feel free to ask me.  Please understand that if subjective interpretation is called for, I will answer from a Christian, Biblical world view.

3) For all of the terror that the perpetrators of this event tried to cause, I believe that more good has come out “the day the world stopped” than bad.  No matter how much our public schools try to drain every ounce of patriotism from our children and discourage American pride, many youths (and you older birds..) truly felt like citizens of the United States of America for the first time on that day.  Whatever happened to “Out of many, ONE”, aka. known as E Pluribus Unum ?

I am an avid radio listener. Recently on WRDC 1360 AM, I heard a representative from HBO discussed a documentary they made in 2002, called “In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01” (Website: http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/9_11/ ) This film will be playing at the historic Bantam Cinema (Website: http://www.bantamcinema.com ) in Bantam, CT this Sunday, Sept. 16. @ Noon. One day only!! If you would like to see this film, you have to call and reserve your seat. Phone: (860) 567-1916. Note: A special presentation will be given by an artist who had a studio on the 91st floor of the North Tower.

And that’s about it. I am working on the October edition of The Acronym. Readers are entitled to submit a free, text-based ad in the print newsletter, similar to those you have seen this year, for your business or service. Please e-mail your ad to me or give me some basic info so that I can create one for you. Paid advertisements and sponsorship of an issue are also available to you.

Technically speaking,

kevheartsig.jpg

Kevin

Acronym Update 08/25/07

Dear Friends,

Here are few updates for you related to the world of personal technology…

A) AT&T (formerly Cingular, formerly Cingular and AT&T Wireless, formerly 13 different companies before the 2000 merger which created Cingular…including the old SNET Wireless of Connecticut, formerly LYNX — I’ll stop. I’m really dating myself here!!) announced that it is upgrading and expanding wireless (cell phone) coverage in Connecticut. They are adding new radios to existing towers to improve data transmission and also building new towers. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but cellular towers are not the mammoth beasts that they used to be. They have a much smaller form factor and are designed in a way to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

Here is the full scoop: http://www.crm2day.com/news/crm/123108.php

2) A college bound student from New Jersey (I believe) has dissected Apple’s iPhone and programmed it so that it can be used with T-Mobile service. Please note: I will not be doing this! It’s a really delicate job and it’s clear that this young man has surgeon’s hands. Apple has an exclusive 5-year contract with AT&T, for their GSM based iPhone. T-Mobile is the only other post paid GSM provider in the U.S.A. Sorry Verizon and Sprint users, a properly “hacked” iPhone will not work on your service. I do not have an iPhone, nor am I a subscriber of AT&T’s wireless services, but I think the new iPhone has some fundamental flaws including (but not limited to): a battery that has to be replaced by mail order if it should go bad.

See a pictorial and written evidence of George Hotz’s iPhone unlocking journey:

http://iphonejtag.blogspot.com/

Enjoy your last full weekend of August ’07,

kevheartsig.jpg

Kevin

Aconym Update 07/07/07

Today’s Topic: iPhone frenzy

…iPhone, It’s Here…

You’d have to be living in an igloo if you have not heard or read any media reports concerning Apple’s new iPhone device that was released last Friday, June 29th. The demand has been red hot, but there are some things you should know before you buy one for your kids or yourself.

A brief overview: The iPhone is a “smart-phone”: a cell phone, iPod, and mini computer all built into one. It runs on AT&T Wireless service (formerly Cingular).

Key info:

1) It only runs on AT&T Wireless service. If you want to be or remain a customer of Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc., you cannot use the iPhone. Period!

2) It only works with AT&T Wireless service. If you want to use the iPhone as a stand alone device, without cellular service — you are out of luck!!

3) If you are currently under contract with another provider, you will have to pay a cancellation fee – possibly as high as $250, to break that agreement so you can sign up as an AT&T customer. As insane as it seems, there are thousands of people who have canceled their existing wireless contracts prematurely so that they could “escape” and become an iPhone user / AT&T subscriber.

4) If you are switching from another provider, regardless if you are in a contract or not, do not cancel your old service before signing up with AT&T. Not canceling with “company x” will allow you to “port” (transfer) your existing wireless number to AT&T for use with your new iPhone. You will be able to use your new iPhone with your old number within 2 hours after activation, wait about 3 days to cancel with your old company to ensure that the number porting has been completely processed by both companies.

5) Price: Don’t have a heart attack! The 4 GB (gigabyte hard drive) iPhone sells for $499. The larger capacity, 8 GB model sells for $599. Apple and AT&T intend for these to be market priced products…. meaning there will be no discounts. Furthermore, if you are an existing AT&T customer and are due for a phone upgrade discount — you cannot use that promotion with the purchase of a new iPhone. You will pay $499 or $599 regardless of your previous relationship with AT&T. There is a positive side to this fixed pricing structure. If you are an existing AT&T customer, in the middle of your contract and not due for an upgrade discount, you can order your iPhone directly from Apple or purchase one at an Apple Store for the same price and simply swap your SIM card from your existing AT&T phone into your new iPhone.

6) Where to buy: http://store.apple.com , 1-800-MY-APPLE, Apple Store retail locations, and corporate AT&T Wireless stores. This should be self-explanatory, but I want to expand on this point by saying that iPhones are not sold at AT&T Wireless stores owned by authorized resellers or Radio Shack. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between a corporate store and a reseller because the storefronts can appear quite similar. In central Connecticut, the Westfarms mall AT&T store and the 3298 Berlin Turnpike store are considered “corporate.”

7) Service plan: A minimum $39.99 per month calling plan is required along with a $20 per month data plan (that includes unlimited EDGE Internet access and 200 SMS / text messages). The $39.99 voice plan features 450 daytime minutes, and 5000 night and weekend minutes. If you are a frequent talker you may prefer the $59.99 – 900 minute voice plan, or the $79.99 – 1350 minute voice plan. These plans included unlimited night and weekend minutes. Regardless of which voice plan you choose, remember that you are required to take the $20 data plan as well. It is not optional. The iPhone is not meant for those who don’t intend to access the Internet or e-mail on from their new toy.

8) A word about data: As I mentioned in #7, the data plan includes unlimited EDGE data access. EDGE is a very SLOW network. In fact, at times it may be as slow as your old dial-up Internet connection that you dropped years ago. The iPhone doesn’t sound like such a great deal then, right? Don’t lose hope – the iPhone also has a “WiFi” chip built in. This means that you can access Internet and e-mail features from the network inside your house, at work, the public library, Panera Bread, or other locations using your iPhone — AT NO COST. Your Internet experience will be significantly faster in WiFi mode than using AT&T’s EDGE network. Just remember, WiFi is only available in specific locations — such as the ones that I’ve mentioned. EDGE is available across much of the U.S.A. and can help fill in the gaps in between WiFi access points — but it is slowwwww and only good for e-mails (without photos) or very simple web pages.

9) Web surfing: Critics and iPhone users agree that the Safari browser built into this device is the best browser ever found on a cell phone. It displays a full web page in minature form at first and then allows you to expand the text of the article you want to read by tapping your finger on the touch-sensitive glass screen. Likewise you scroll down long web pages by moving your finger on the glass and even type your emails using an on-screen keyboard that you can make appear or disappear whenever you want.

Final words: I did not rush out to buy an iPhone on 6/29, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get on board at a later date. If you are looking for a true “convergence device” that incorporate your 3 most treasured gadgets into one – iPod, cell phone, and computer – the iPhone is your meal ticket. It doesn’t have the full functionality of a laptop but it is the right size for taking to bed with you. You can easily put it on your nightstand or tuck it under a pillow. Guard it with your life. The tooth fairy would love to steal it from you!!

Yours truly,

kevheartsig.jpg

Kevin