Saturday, January 27, 2007

Safe Browsing

How can you make sure the websites you visit are safe, or that you can download a file from a website without worrying about being infected with some kind of malware?

One way is to stick to well known sites like and the related But even these trustworthy sites may have links to other sites with dubious content.

One of the tools which I find useful is McAfee's SiteAdvisor (the free version, I haven't tried the paid version as it doesn't work with Firefox). Basically SiteAdvisor puts an indicator in your browser's toolbar (IE) or status bar (Firefox) which indicates a websites' safety rating: Green for no problems, yellow for caution, and a red/pink for warning. When you click on the SiteAdvisor button it gives details of the site, including suspect files and other websites linked to.

It is not often that I use or recommend a McAfee product, especially one that flags my main Techno Files Blog with a yellow caution - this due to a freeware download I linked to over a year ago which changes your Internet Explorer home page. I have since removed this link but haven't been able to get SiteAdvisor to realize this. I still use SiteAdvisor though...

Monday, January 22, 2007

What's in a name?

Almost 2 million hits in the case of Googling for Techno Files. Okay, it is only fourteen thousand hits when searching for the phrase "Techno Files", but there definitely were not that many hits when I first started this blog in 2003.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

iPhone will fail?

This week the Apple iPhone was announced. Some may be sick of hearing about it already, but others want to know what the hype is about. The videos on the site showing the functionality of the iPhone are really impressive. Just a pity about the cellular provider Apple has chosen...(Cingular sucks).

Late last year, while the Apple phone was still a rumor, an article on CNET said that the iPhone would fail (Apple phone flop), basically because of stiff competition in the cellphone market. I disagree, as the iPhone blows away the competition.

A more recent article on, "Thirteen reasons to doubt the iPhone hype" poses some legitimate questions, like the question whether the iPhone will have a user-replaceable battery. It would be a first for Apple if this iPod-like product has a removable battery, and a potential deal-breaker if it does not.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Frozen Nano

My iPod Nano froze today when I was trying to connect it up in the car. I tried to reset it but could not remember the button combination. When I got home, I managed to reset it, and it worked again, whew!

The iPod Nano can be reset by turning on the hold button then turning it off, then pressing the Menu and the Center button at the same time until the Apple logo appears (paraphrased from iPod leaflet)...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Useful software

Just a week or so back I discovered the VLC Media Player. This free software plays video in almost any format. I had a non-copy protected DVD video copied to a directory on the hard drive of my Pentium 4 HT machine, and was unable to play it with Windows Media Player because of some missing codecs. VLC Media Player played the video without a problem. It is well worth the download.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Top 5+ List of 2006

Okay, I know it is already 2007, and I should be looking forward, but:

At the end of 2005 and 2004 I wrote a list of the Top 10 tech products and have been thinking hard about whether to do one for 2006 or to do something different. The problem is that I've previously limited this list to products I've actually used or own, and had to limit (or pad) my list to ten items.

So here is my slightly different top 5+ list for 2006 (I still may repeat tech gadgets from previous years if they - or their updated versions - still are worthy of mention):

iPod Nano second generation - the 2nd generation improves on the original with a less scratch-prone anodized aluminum finish, brighter screen and double the capacity.

Creative Zen Vision:M - this MP3 Player with video capability outclasses the iPod Video with a 262,144 color screen and support for multiple video formats.

Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable) - there are even more games available now and some of the more recent ones have incredible graphics. Sony also continues to release firmware updates which add more and more features. Also, worldwide sales of the Sony PSP are more than Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Ubuntu Linux - Maybe I'm biased towards a product from a fellow (ex-)South African, but this free Linux distribution from Mark Shuttleworth's company is competing right up there with commercial Linux distributions. Although my main Operating System is Windows XP, I like to have a Linux distribution installed and handy. Right now Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTS is it.

Mozilla Firefox browser - still my browser of choice. I'm slowly upgrading to version 2.0 (one machine at a time), while Mozilla still releases updates to version 1.5.x. Even with tabbed browsing, Internet Explorer 7 doesn't come close.

Honorable Mentions

Nintendo Wii - the gaming console Sony hoped the Sony Playstation 3 would be. The Wii makes gaming accessible to non-gamers, and is attractive as a second gaming console to gamers.

Giveaway of the Day website - I don't know how long this will still be around for, but it is a great idea. Mainly shareware software, the programs are available for download and free registration for one day. I've found some useful programs there. The catch - the software can only be registered in the 24 hour period, cannot be upgraded and doesn't have technical support.

VMWare Player and Server Even though Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 is now free, VMware still outclasses it with more powerful features

Dishonourable Mention
Motorola RAZR V3 cellphone - popular but flawed - the screen is impossible to read in daylight. If that and a slippery keypad is acceptable this isn't a bad phone.