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Don't panic if you received a nasty email in your inbox letting you know your mail server has been hacked and dsdemanding a ransom to avoid some embarrassing sharing of your web browsing history.

It's a bogus scam.

By far the most frequently asked question I get from people is "How do I transfer a photo from my computer to my cell phone? (or vice versa)".

Question: Where can I download a free Christmas screensaver?

Answer: There are a lot of free screensavers that you can download, but be careful because many of them come loaded with spyware or adware that can invade your system. It's not worth downloading something that appears to be free, but then slows down your system, tracks your online activites, or steals private financial information.

A better way to go is to download a shareware screensaver from a trusted company like Astro Gemini, that makes high quality 3D screensavers for every holiday. You'll get the chance to use the screensaver for free to make sure it's the one you like.

Here's a snippet of the extremely popular Christmas Time screensaver from Astro Gemini, which is part of their Christmas Collection CD:

This 3D screensaver will help you feel the magic of the Holiday Season. You will find yourself in a quiet winter forest with a few cottages scattered around. Everything is covered with snow and the nature is waiting for a miracle to happen.

A huge Christmas tree in the middle of this peaceful setting and the outstanding background music add to this unique holiday mood.

Check out the huge selection of high quality - and safe - 3D screensavers from Astro Gemini. Each screensaver comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which means you get your money back risk free if you aren't completely happy with their screensavers (but I know you will be!)

My wife gave me a 4 GB black ipod nano as a gift a couple years ago. At the time, it was state-of-the-art and held a very high cool factor rating. I proudly wore it around my neck at work, along with the rest of my gadget-addicted buddies, and quickly filled it up with my favorite songs.

Then Apple had to go and release their iPhone and their new series of iPods with video, and already my nano is feeling outdated, small, and well... old.

If you're like me and are hoping for a new iPod or Zune for Christmas or your upcoming birthday, then how about recycling your old one and making some money along the way? You can get up to $260 for your old iPod, depending on its condition, and up to $75 for your old Zune, by selling it to Beyond The Pod.

Don't worry - this isn't one of those deals where you have to complete several advertising offers, and it's not a ploy to steal your personal information. Beyond The Pod has been in business since 2004 and is a certified member of the Better Business Bureau.

Here's how to recycle your old iPod, Zune, or XBox:

  1. Visit the Beyond The Pod website.
  2. Select your item (iPod, Zune, XBox, PlayStation, Wii or Nintendo DS).
  3. Calculate it's value by answering a few quick questions.

I'm often asked how to set up a website, either for personal use or for a new business. Fortunately, it's easy and very affordable to create a new web site, or to add a blog or forum to an existing web site. You don't even have to know HTML or web programming, thanks to several free and powerful website templates.

Here are three steps to creating a new web site from start to finish.

Check if your domain name is available.

A domain is the name of your website, such as rickysays.com or dad-eblog.com. Domains normally end with .com, .org, .net, .biz, and .info - the most popular being the .com ending.

Here's a link to check if your domain name is available: Check now (click "Domain Check" once you're there)

Checking if a domain is available is completely free, and there's no obligation to purchase the domain. However, if you think of a great idea for a website name, you're smart to reserve it as soon as possible - before someone else snatches it for themselves!

In fact, most web hosting providers give you a free domain name when you sign up with them - read on:

Sign up with a web hosting provider.

A web host is a company that stores your web pages and makes them viewable on the Internet. They also provide email accounts, blogs, forums, and even online store fronts.

Question: I have a few DVD movies that I'd like to copy for backup purposes, and would also like to view them on my laptop when I go on business trips. The software that came with my laptop isn't able to do it though - it says the DVDs are copy-protected. Is there an easy way to do this?

The release of the new Macintosh "Leopard" operating system is coming up this Friday, Oct 26, 2007. According to Steven Jobs, the New York Times reports him saying "The Macintosh has a lot of momentum now. It is outpacing the industry."

Comparison of Norton, McAfee, and Panda security programs for defending against virus, malware, spyware, and system intrusion attempts.

I recently posted a write up about how I used my Motorola Razr as a bluetooth modem for my laptop, which let me surf the web on the way to work each morning. Well, sort of... it was extremely slow! Remember how slow 28.8k dialup modems used to be? This setup was even slower, and dropped the connection ever few minutes.

And to make matters worse, I discovered during the second week that Cingular doesn't actually allow their MediaNet plan to be used in this way. They officially require tethered internet traffic to use one of their "data plans", which costs $59.99 a month for unlimited internet usage.

Sierra Wireless AirCard 875u USB Data Card(AT&T)After insisting on a full refund from AT&T (after all, it was on the advice of their sales rep that I purchased the MediaNet plan in the first place), I upgraded to their unlimited data plan and bought a Sierra Wireless AirCard 875u (USB Data Card with broadband speeds).

I'm riding the bus home as I write this, using the Aircard to connect my laptop to the internet. It's smoking fast!

I performed a speed test using http://www.speedtest.net, and registered about 1.8 Mbps download speeds (it's rated at up to 3 Mbps). That's faster than my company's T1 LAN connection, and I don't have to worry anymore about trying to find a wifi hotspot. It's always connected, wherever there's cell phone coverage.

Aircard 875u Speed Test

Question: Windows seems to take forever to start up on both my computers, and some programs try to run everytime I start Windows (even though I didn't ask them to). I'm running Windows Vista Home on a fairly new laptop with 512 mb of RAM, and Windows XP on an older desktop with 1GB of RAM. What can I do to speed things up?

Answer: Those extra programs take away time and precious memory, which makes Windows take longer to start up and also makes it run slower once Windows has started.

There are a couple of things you can do right away that will speed up Windows startup and stop those unwanted programs from running.

Clean out your Startup folder

Some programs will install themselves in your Windows Startup folder, which makes them run each time your system boots up. All you have to do is delete the menu shortcut, and they'll stop loading when Windows starts up. The programs will still remain installed on your system - they just won't run until you run them (which is what you want).

1. Right-click on the Start button in your task bar (lower left corner of your screen).
2. Select Explore from the shortcut menu.
3. You'll see a folder called Startup, and you can delete all of the programs listed in this folder. You'll only be deleting the menu shortcuts, not the programs themselves.

This is a good first step that'll speed up Windows startup and free up memory on your system, but there are still a couple other things to check.

Defragment your hard drive

Over time your hard drive can become defragmented, which means that files get saved in different places on your hard drive. Windows can't just look in the same general area each time it tries to find files, which slows things down noticeably, and can directly increase startup time.

Diskeeper Home 2008Windows comes with its own disk defragmentation tool, but it doesn't work very well and you can't schedule it to automatically defrag your hard drive on an ongoing basis.

I use Diskeeper for that, which rearranges files stored on your disk to occupy contiguous storage locations. This speeds up access time because it can look in the same general area for files each time it needs them.

You can set Diskeeper to run automatically in the background so that you basically never have to worry about your hard drive slowing down due to defragmentation.

Turn off unnecessary services

Some programs create Windows services that run behind the scenes to check for updates online, or watch for system events like inserting a music CD in your CD drive. iTunes is one such program, and there are even spyware programs that can load at startup by installing themselves as a Windows service.

These services take up valuable memory, and considerably slow down Windows startup. For example, a program called Vongo was installed with my new laptop, and it tries to check for updated downloads every few minutes. This eats up processing time, takes up extra memory on my system, and poses a potential security risk to my system.

If you're fairly technically inclined, you can view the services that are installed on your system and disable unwanted programs from loading at startup. All of the Windows services that are running on your system can be viewed by opening your Control Panel and selecting "Administrative Tools" and then "Services".

But be careful, because if you turn off the wrong service you could end up rendering your system unusable.

A safer way to control the services that run at startup is to use a program like SystemSuite 8 Professional. It will show you a list of all the services that are running on your system, and will identify the ones that are safe to turn off.

SystemSuite will also show you if there are any spyware or malware programs lurking on your system, and will let you protect your system by blocking them from loading when Windows starts up.

For example, SystemSuite's built-in NetDefense Firewall recognized the Vongo program I mentioned earlier and asked me if I wanted to block it from connecting to the Internet in the future. I happily said yes to block it, and now I don't have to worry about it connecting to the Internet in the future.

I've noticed a big improvement in startup time using these approaches, and especially with System Suite. It's received some excellent reviews like this one from Laptop Magazine:

"Consistently better than any all-in-one-system-maintenance suite, Avanquest's excellent collection has all the core strengths and exciting extras." - Laptop Magazine July 2007

Let me know how it works for you.

Enter Coupon Code AFFSS8 during checkout to save 25% on SystemSuite 8.

Question: How can i transfer my Videos taken/captured on my Cell Phone Sanyo M1 and transfer them to my PC? Your input will be greatly appreciated.

Answer: The Sanyo M1 is a great phone, and you can transfer videos to your PC by using a USB Data Cable that provides a link between your phone and PC, or with Bluetooth that gives you a wireless connection.

USB Data Cable

You can transfer as many videos, photos or ring tones as you like to your cell phone for free using a USB Data Cable that connects your computer to your cell phone.

Windows XP or Windows Vista don't come with software to recognize your phone and handle the file transfer, so you'll need a copy of DataPilot, which works with all major phone types.

Fire up DataPilot, and plug one end of the usb data cable into your phone and the other end into the usb port on your computer. DataPilot will display a list of the existing photos, ring tones, and videos on your cell phone.

Choose the folder on your PC that contains the files you want to move, select the files (or folders) and click the transfer button to copy them over to your cell phone. You can also copy the other way, and use DataPilot to transfer photos or ring tones from your cell phone to your computer.

You can buy a usb data cable on the DataPilot website if you don't have one already, and their software works with all major phone types.


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