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Douglas' Events, Appearances and Seminar Calendar

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Audio: Live from the Library - July 24, 2008

Listen to the audio from my twice-monthly Internet Seminar.

Listen: Live from the Library - July 24, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Audio: LIVE from the Library - July 10, 2008

Listen to the audio from my twice-monthly Internet Seminar.

Listen: Live from the Library - July 10, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Video: LIVE from the Library - July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Real World Example: Getting a network connection where you need it most

I have a long time client who has always had difficulties with their wireless network. The construction of their home, and outlying office suite, seems to suck up whatever bit of wireless signal a typical WiFi router sends out. In order to reach the outlying office, I had previously installed a Linksys Range Expander. While this worked, partially, it often needed to be restarted and wasn't nearly as reliable as I would like. What I really needed was a way to link these remote areas back to the main router without using wireless. Luckily, I found a solution.

This client called last week and said that the Link Expander had failed completely. That wasn't too surprising as it was living in an un-cooled garage. The heat probably finally did it in. This meant, though, that I needed to come up with a different, and hopefully better, solution. I had looked at the powerline network extenders, which use your home of office electrical wiring to distribute network data, but most reviews seemed lukewarm, at best. I then turned to my fellow Friends in Tech members and George Starcher directed me to the powerline product he is using in his own home office, the Panasonic BL-PA100KTA Ethernet Adaptor Starter Pack. You can find a diagram of George's entire network on the Friends in Tech web site, in the post entitled, My Home Network - Yup I am a GEEK.

Setting up the devices was a simple matter of plugging them into the same wall outlet for power and pressing the Setup button on each unit. After about 5-10 seconds, the status lights showed that they had seen each other and established a connection.

This Starter Pack comes with 2 units, one which operates as the Master and the other which operates as the remote terminal. In my case, I plugged the Master unit into the existing Linksys router and then plugged its power cable into the wall jack. I took the remote terminal into the remote office, plugged it into the power outlet there and then connected an Ethernet network cable from this box into the client's Macbook.

It was then the moment of truth. While I had hoped it would work, issues with the electrical wiring in a home and electrical noise can cause issues with the devices. Luckily, it was simply a matter of firing up the web browser on the Mac and it quickly showed we were connected to the Internet. Even better, the speed of the Internet seemed much faster than using the previous Range Expander. Success...and it only took about 15 minutes total to set up. You can also add additional terminals to extend the network into different rooms.

Only time will tell how well this unit works, but I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to set up and how well it worked. Your mileage may vary, but if you need to get an Internet connection to an out-of-the-way part of your home or office, this might just be the best answer available.

Link: Panasonic BL-PA100KTA Ethernet Adaptor Starter Pack

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Noted: Totem Destroyer - A Game

Noted items are interesting posts I recently found in my RSS feeds -- Douglas

Totem Destroyer Totem Destroyer ... a puzzle game where you strategically remove blocks in order to lower a golden idol closer to the ground. Get it within 3 squares from the bottom, but not touching it, and you move on to the next level. (via)

(Via Douglas' Clippings.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A demo of Google Docs with Templates

A quick demo showing the new templates features within Google Docs.

iPod Ready Video

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Google Docs adds templates

I have started to move away from using Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc) in favor of online tools like Google Docs. Even as a computer consultant, I find that I use probably less than 10% of the features in any of these projects. One feature I really like in Google Docs is the easy, online file sharing that also allows you to edit simultaneously with someone else.

Today, Google Docs added some templates including business cards, brochures and more. At the moment, it looks like they are rolling out this feature over time, so you might not yet see the templates on your account. When available, you will find the templates under the New... menu item.

From Open Loops...

Today, Google quietly rolled out a new feature for their Google Docs Applications: Templates! It's so new that it isn't even listed on the new features page at this time. When one opens their Google Docs account and chooses to start a new document, a new "From Template..." command is present. Clicking on it reveals a quite extensive list of templates available for use: Calendars, Budgets, Business Cards, Letterheads, Scrapbook Albums, and Credit Card Payoff Calculators abound in this list of 308 templates, which is a much more comprehensive list than Zoho offers. The quality of these templates appears to be quiet good as well.

Unfortunately, I can find no way to create and save a document as a template. It appears to be a use-only feature at this time.

Zemanta Pixie

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Are you getting the broadband speed you deserve?

Many times when I visit a new client for the first time, I can tell their broadband Internet connection, either DSL or Cable, isn't really working as fast as it should. To confirm my suspicions, I point my web browser over to http:/speakeasy.net/speedtest/ and give it a run. You can find another speed test site at http://www.speedtest.net/

If you want accurate results from the test, you should make sure that your computer, or others who might share the network, aren't doing something intensive like downloading files or system updates. If the network is already busy, the test results will be lower than they should be.

When you run the test, you should be looking for values near these, depending on what type of connection you have to the Internet.

DSL: 1.5 Mbps Down - 384 Kbps Up
Cable: 3-6 Mbps down - 384 Kbps Up

You will never get these maximum numbers, due to the overhead of the network itself, but you should be getting close to these numbers. If not, there might be an issue with your Internet connection. Sometimes, these problems are transient. Perhaps there is an issue in your neighborhood or your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is having issues. Check again in an hour or so and maybe even the next day. If you continue to see slow speeds, though, you will want to contact your ISP and have them run a check on your line.

Problems can arise at any place along the connection from your ISP to your computer, so it might take some time to troubleshoot the problem, but keep at it. You are paying,sometimes a lot, for your Internet connection and you should be seeing full speeds on that connection.

Sometimes the problem might be in your own home. Do a quick check to make sure that something hasn't damaged the phone or cable lines coming into your house. I noticed the other day that it appeared some raccoons decided to use my cable line to shinny down form our roof and their weight pulled the cable out of all its tie downs. While this hadn't seemed to cause any problems, it easily could have. You can never tell what might be effecting your Internet connection, so it is always worth a look around.

In some cases, your DSL line might be going as fast as it can, due to your distance from the telephone company's central office. I have a few clients who live in the hills above Ventura Blvd here in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. The farther they are from the valley floor, the slower their Internet connections. It seems that environmental conditions, distance and, in some cases, sub-standard wiring prevent them form getting full DSL speeds. In some cases, I am seeing speeds as low as 384 Kbps on downloads. While this is faster than old dial-up methods, it isn't that much better. Such slow speeds can make downloading software updates, photos and videos a trying experience.

So, run a speedtest on your Internet connection today. Then, run it again in a week or so. Don't let a slow Internet connection slow down your productivity or, even worse, cost you money.

Short Lively.com video from Seesmic

I recorded a short video of my Lively.com room for my Seesmic buds a few nights ago. I forgot that I could embed it here, so I figured I would do that today.

Lively.com is Google's new virtual world. It is Windows only at the moment, but check it out if you can.

You can find my room here -- Douglas Welch's Room

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Video: LIVE from the Library Internet Seminar for July 10, 2008

Join me for my twice-monthly Internet Seminar LIVE from the Sherman Oaks Branch of the LA Public Library.

** Note: uStream's recording seems to have missed a lot of tonight's show, but here is as much of it as it recorded.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Links from tonight's show:

Lively Virtual World from Google - Doug's Room on Lively
Hedgehog Launch
Apple's Time Machine

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Video: Amazing Panoramic Picture Project with Robert Scoble

Tech reporter, Robert Scoble, shot this video of a new project to document Yosemite Valley with a host of panoramic pictures that can then be zoomed and panned with incredible detail.

Hanging out in Lively.com

Hanging out in Lively.com
Originally uploaded by dewelch
Had a nice time hanging out in my room on Lively.com and chatting with Josh Cooper today.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Google's New Virtual World - Lively

I am playing around with Google's New Virtual World, Lively. I am just getting started, but here is my room.

Watch my del.icio.us links to see what I find interesting

I have been using the social bookmarking site, del.icio.us for a long time. I use it to track interesting items I find in my web travels, including links for TechnologyIQ.

One of the great features of del.icio.us is that you can watch what I am bookmarking as it happens. You can do this by visiting the web site:

My TechnologyIQ Bookmarks
All My Bookmarks

...or using your RSS Feed Reader (like Google Reader), new bookmarks will come directly to you...

TechnologyIQ Bookmarks via RSS
All My Bookmarks via RSS

You can share your bookmarks using del.icio.us too! Set up your free account today Even better, once you start storing your bookmarks there, they will be available from any computer on the Internet including your computer, your friends and public Internet terminals. Take your bookmarks with you!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Reminder: Don't camp out for an iPhone!

I am re-posting this, as it seems obvious that some people need to hear the message again. With the new 3G iPhone coming out, people are once again lining up to buy it opening day, this Friday.


Read on to hear why

Apple iPhoneAs much as the Apple iPhone might be a neat piece of technology, and even useful, it is NOT, NOT, NOT worth camping out at your local Apple Store or AT&T outlet to get one on the day that it is released. There are several reasons for this:

  1. NOTHING is worth camping out. Repeat, NOTHING. There are millions of people all over the world who have to "camp out" in order to survive. Camping out for the "priviledge" of buying an iPhone (or any other piece of technology) is simply stupid.

  2. NEVER by a Revision 1 device...EVER...unless you simply love dealing with buggy software, incomplete systems and fragile hardware.

  3. Waiting even 1 day will make it cheaper and less of a trial to buy. Waiting a week makes if like buying anything else. Waiting a month, is probably a good idea. Heck, wait until Rev. 2, if you really want to get something good.

Finally, those who are camping out for the priviledge of spending $600-$1000 (with accessories) and another couple of thosand for a 2 year cell contract are not just being "sold" by Apple, they are being abused. What is worse, though, is they take the abuse...and like it!

You obviously won't be seeing me waiting in line on June 29. I prefer to make mature purchasing decisions and not be caught up in the manufactured frenzy just so I can say "FIRST!"

Bah humbug!

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Elsewhere Online: 5 useful Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon tweaks

Microsoft Office 2007 is proving very confusing for longtime users of Office. The new Ribbon metaphor of organizing commands leaves most people searching for the most basic operations.

The folks over at PC Doctor's Blog offers up some advice for those who are feeling a little lost...which also includes myself. (SMILE)

5 useful Microsoft Office Ribbon tweaks

I'm slowly getting used to the Microsoft Office Ribbon, but I'm far from being as comfortable with it as I was with the old-style toolbar. However, in this age of increasingly larger screens (and slowly deteriorating eyesight!), the bigger icons are welcome.

I'm always happy to come across Ribbon-related tweaks because these almost always end up saving me time, and today I came across five over on Channel 10.

Learn how to:

  • Hide the Ribbon

  • Customize the Quick Access Toolbar

  • Find hidden commands

  • Customize the Quick Access Toolbar on the fly

  • Scroll through tabs with the mouse wheel (I'd never noticed you could do that!)



(Via The PC Doctor's blog.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Audio: Prelude to Revolution Part 3 - Happy 4th of July!

A July 4th Gift from WelchWrite.com

“I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore” -- John Adams

Prelude to Revolution - May 1775, to July 4th, 1776

A live audio production of Eclipse-1 Media.

"Live your liberty, don't lose it in a history book."

Listen: Prelude to Revolution Part 3
Listen: Prelude to Revolution Parts 1 & 2

View these photos on Flickr.com

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hands-free Cell Phone Use Required in California today!

If you haven't picked up your cell phone headset or speakerphone for the car, you only have a few more hours or you will risk a ticket and fine in California. Starting July 1, 2008, all automotive users of cell phone will be required to use some form of hands-free device when calling from their vehicles.

I have been a big fan of cell phone headsets, even back when they were typically wired to the phone. Hands-free cell headsets allow the easy use of voice dialing and great services like Jott.

If you don't have a headset yet, here is a link to the one I use, an Aliph Jawbone. There is also a new, 2nd generation Jawbone (available at their web site) which is much smaller. It's built in noise reduction features are great. You can see a demo on their site. (Video demo)

Link: More Bluetooth Headsets from Amazon.com