Monday, November 30, 2009

Google announces free WI-FI holiday giveaway at major airports.

Earlier this month, Google announced an initiative to provide free WI-FI access in 47 major airports nationwide during the holidays season and through January 15th 2o1o.
The initiative is through a Google partnership with those airports and a host of other service providers like Time Warner Cable, Advanced Wireless Group and many others, and that is the reason why it does not cover every single major airport in the country. Because of that, it may come as a big surprise that none of the New York major airports is part of the project, so are Chicago O'Hare, LAX in Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St.Paul and Dallas-Fort Worth. But as a result of Google's project, Seattle and Burbank airports have decided to to offer indefinite free WI-FI from now on.
On top of the free WI-FI giveaway, Google also announced that it will extend the free Wi-Fi offer to Virgin Airlines America flights within the continental United States, PC World reports.
Google's initiative comes in the heels of Yahoo announcement of a free WI-FI access giveaway for an entire year on Times Square in New York.
Google's offer does come with some attempts to direct people to use some of its services like Google Checkout and the Online photo storage and sharing site Picasa. Here is how: When they are about to take advantage of its offer, Google is encouraging users to donate any amount of money to three preselected charities and it would match any donation up to $250,000.
Google has also announced a photo contest in which people are invited to submit photos taken using the free WI-FI, and the best ones will win some prizes but without any specifications what the prizes may be.

For more, see

Friday, November 27, 2009

Google to introduce automatic caption to YouTube videos.

As if being already the world biggest video site isn't enough, YouTube owned by Google, has announced last week that it is adding automatic caption that will bring text captions to many videos on the site.
YouTube has already several hundred thousand videos with close captioning but they are mostly from broadcast networks and some other professional Web sites. What the new initiative will achieve, is to allow anyone who upload a video on YouTube, to use the technology which is called "auto-timing", to upload as well a text file of the words spoken in the video and have them automatically turned into captions by Google.
The underlying technology for auto-timing is the same as the one used for Google Voice service which is used among others things, to transcribe text messages into voice messages.
For now, Google is adding captions on its own to videos from selected channels like the ones from PBS, the National Geographic and some Universities. The reason given for this gradual roll 0ut is that Google recognize that the technology isn't perfect and that time is needed to get feedback from the video owners and the viewers before being released to the public at large.
Also, the automatic captions will be available in English only for now, but can be translated to 51 languages using Google Translator service.

For more, see

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Retailers are fighting back against "friendly fraud."

Already faced with one of the toughest economic climate in a long time, retailers are not leaving any stone unturned in their quest to stay afloat. They are doing a thorough review of all aspects of the way they do business and are implementing measures they think will allow them to whether the storm. In that context, chargebacks, one area that has drawn little scrutiny in the past, is getting a second look.
Chargeback is the practice in which customers call their credit card companies to contest a charge on various grounds like: they never placed the order, the item was never delivered, or the wrong item was delivered etc. What happens next, is that the customers get their credit cards refunded for the amount of the order and the merchant get fined $100 for the incident. A you may imagine, a lot of those claims were bogus ones from some dishonest shoppers and in almost all of those instances, the merchant was left holding the bag. In good economic times, maybe a lot of merchants would have found it not worth their time or their resources to try to go after those authors of chargebacks. But in today economic environment, nothing is to small when it comes to cutting costs.
One way retailers are fighting back against chargebacks, is by using the services of companies like who has created a database of customers who have practiced chargeback in the past.
After signing up with, retailers can enter credit card numbers of potential customers in the database and get an instant response. If it is a positive, they can inform the potential customer about their findings, and deny the transaction, saving themselves from future losses. The customer whose card is rejected under those premises, has the option of calling and ask why they were on the list in the first place and maybe have a chance to have their name removed they have a good reason. Or, if they choose so, they still can pay using other methods like cash, checks or debit cards.
Another source of past abuses, is merchandise returns which has seen merchants suffer agreat deal of losses due to unscrupulous customers who would order a product, use it and then put it back in the box and sent it back and ask for a refund.
To combat that practice, some merchants are using methods such as shipping merchandises sealed with a security tape. Whenever the seal is broken in the hands of the customer, it is assumed that the product was used, therefore, if sent back for refund, the merchant will have the option to charge a restocking fees, or a prorated refund based on the condition of the returned product.
Another way for merchants to fight " friendly fraud", is to impose shorter return windows, or to only offer store credits etc.
Overall, in the next few weeks when shoppers will be in a buying frenzy, it doesn't hurt to take a second and inquire about the return policies of the merchants they plan to do business with, as most of them are clamming down on "friendly fraud."

For more, see

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Google Chrome operating system is unveiled.

Last Thursday, Google unveiled the underlying of its much anticipated Chrome operating system and the early reviews are generally good. According to the New York Times, the new operating system takes its clues from Google recently released Web browser by the same name. For that reason, it will not reside in users computers but rather in the "clouds", the catch name giving to the Internet in such cases. Already, most Internet users rely on cloud computing as the whole concept is called, to access a lot of things like e-mails, photo albums, maps etc. The Google Chrome operating system that was unveiled last week is an early version running on a netbook rather than more powerful PCs. It is at least a year from being offered to the public, and when that happens, it will certainly be restricted to the netbook category for a while. Regardless, the test version unveiled last week, showed an impressive boot time of seven seconds and according to the New York Times, people at Google are promising an even faster start up time once it goes in production. But for now, Google is not saying which PC manufacturer plan to built machines with the Chrome operating system.

For more, see

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple announces Black Friday deals.

With less than a week until Black Friday which marks the unofficial lunch of the holiday shopping season and retailers big and small already engaged in a frantic race to lure uneasy customers, Apple is getting into the act too. The maker of some of the most popular electronic devices in the market right now, Apple is not known for giving them away, thanks to a very loyal core group of enthusiasts. Still, the company could not resist the powerful lure of the holidays to stir some buzz. Speaking of buzz, Apple's intention came in the form of a a brief one page teaser on its Web site, announcing the upcoming deals but without any details. Instead, the one page announcement invites users to browse the Apple store and make up their shopping lists and to come back on the 27th, the day after Thanksgiving when the the sale will go in effect. The only one hint that was given, is that shoppers will get to enjoy free shipping for their purchases but without any indication of which ones will qualify for it.
But if the past is any indication, Apple's announcement shouldn't make anyone jump from their seats as the maker of the iPod, iPhone and the likes, has only offered discounts in the 5 to 7 % range.

For more, see

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vizio Black Friday's HDTV deals start earlier.

With Black Friday just one week away, retailers and manufacturers are locked in a frenetic race to offer the best deals imaginable to anxious consumers. And some of those retailers and manufacturers could hardly wait till then to start the discount, for fear that maybe they would loose the boat so to speak on this rare opportunity to score big in these challenging economic times.
In that context, Vizio the television sets maker has teamed with retailers like Costco, Wal-Mart, and Sams Club in offering some earlier very good deals with some starting right now.
Here a list of those deals obtained from, and it is quite impressive:


VIZIO Blu-ray Player (VBR110) with free HDMI cable for $99.99, saving you $40*.
VIZIO Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer (VSB210WS) for $199.99, saving you $30*.
VIZIO 32-inch Full HD 1080P LCD TV (VL320M) only $399.99, saving you $50*.

VIZIO 55-inch Full HD 1080P 120HZ LCD TV (VF550M) only $1,199.99, saving you $300*.
VIZIO 32-inch HD LCD TV (VO320E) for only $339.99, saving you $50. The offer is valid from now until November 29, or while supplies last.
VIZIO 40-inch Full HD 1080P LCD TV (VO400E) only $599.99, saving you $100. The deal is valid from December 3 to December 20.

*From November 27 to November 29, or while supplies last.

VIZIO 19-inch HD LCD TV (VA19LHDTV10T) for $178, saving you $30. The deal is valid from now through the end of the year.

VIZIO 26-inch HD LCD TV (VA26LHDTV10T) for $248, saving you $99. The deal is valid from November 21 to November 27 (pictured above).

Sam's Club:

VIZIO 32-inch HD LCD TV (VO320E) for only $339.99, saving you $50. The offer is valid from now until November 29, or while supplies last.

For more, see

Friday, November 20, 2009

Corel Digital Studio 2010 offers basic photo and video editing features for novice users.

For people who shoot and edit photos or videos for a living, Corel Paint Shop Pro is a must have arsenal to have in their tool box. But if you like to shoot, edit and organize photos and videos as a hobby or just for fun, you might not find a value in all the features that comes with it. To those people, there is some good news as the maker of Corel Paint Shop Pro has come with a light version of the popular software. It is called Corel Digital Studio 2010 out this fall and normally retailing for about $100, but it is being discounted for the holidays at $59 on the company Web site until November 23, 2009.
Corel Digital Studio 2010 is according to PC World Magazine, " a suite of applications designed to give novice users, basic photo and video editing features, plus the ability to organize large media libraries, produce photo projects like calendars and greeting cards, and generate videos suitable for upload to YouTube or for burning to a DVD."
But according to the magazine, while its user interface is abbreviated and clean, the software as a whole is not working well and is not very functional.

For more, see PC

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to transform an old hard drive into a backup or storage unit after an upgrade.

With the holidays just around the corner and the release of Microsoft new operating system Windows 7 a few weeks ago, a lot of people may be thinking about getting a new computer, or upgrade the hard drive in the old one to a bigger size.
One question that will probably come up, is what to do with the old computer, or in the case of an upgrade, to the old hard drive?
Either way, it is never a good idea to just toss the old computer or hard drive for the obvious security reasons. Because, even if you transfer all the files from the old computer to the new one or to the new hard drive, it is common knowledge that almost every bit of information that was stored there, is perfectly retrievable.
With that in mind, you will have a few options that vary in terms of time commitment: The first and less time consuming, would be to store the computer or the hard drive in a safe and secure location; the second option would be to pick a hammer and smash the old computer or hard drive to pieces; the third option would be to give the old hard drive a new life as a backup or storage unit. That last option which allows you to kill two birds with one stone, is what we will be talking about here.
At first, it may sound intimidating for a non techie, but it is a real simple procedure that most people should be able to do on their own. To set the scene straight, there is not a lot fixing to do here, all you need is a hard drive enclosure kit. An enclosure is nothing but a casing that will act as a shell to protect the drive and provide the necessary ports for power and cables for U.S.B. connectivity to a computer.
For a starter, the main thing to be concerned with, is to get a same size model (3.5-inch drive for a PC, or a 2.5-inch drive for a laptop) compatible with the old hard drive.
In doubt about what you may need, several sites like, will give you the run down on how to choose a new drive, and how to install it in the newly purchased enclosure.
Speaking of purchase, hard drive enclosure prices start at about $15 and you can get from sites like,, or and some of them even sell an enclosure kit complete with cables an d software to transfer all your data over to the new hard drive before the old one is turned into new use.

For more, see

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Radio Bookmark is a way to bookmark NPR programs for later listening.

Ever been in your car listening to your favorite NPR program only to be interrupted in the middle of it? Now you have a way to catch up with that same program later when you have time to listen to it, thanks to a device called Radio Bookmark.
The device itself is not new, it has been available for a while as a premium add-on to NPR subscribers only. It is now available for purchase for everyone from the manufacturer's online store, for $39.99.
The device looks like a car's remote knob and the way it works is when you are getting interrupted in the middle of a program, you just push a button that will record the time at which that happened. Once you get home, you just plug the Radio Bookmark into your computer and according to the New York Times, "your browser automatically will go to the Radio Bookmark Web page to match up the time at which yo pressed the button against what was playing on preselected local station, and create a list of bookmarks for the programs you marked. After selecting a bookmark, you will be taken to your local station's Web site where you can replay the program."

For more, see

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Does upgrading to Windows 7 deactivates the license key for any prior version of Windows?

For many people, one of the reasons holding them back from taking the plunge for Windows 7, is the fear of the unknown and the general belief that upgrading to Windows 7 would prevent them from coming back to whatever previous version they owned. The true of the matter is that this is just not the case: owners of previous versions of Windows can always go back to that version if they are not happy with Windows 7 after trying it out, without losing the product key of the of their old versions.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sky Dock allows users to get Sirius XM Radio signal on their iPods or iPhones.

Ever wanted to listen to Sirius XM Satellite Radio in your car but was discouraged by the cost of paying for a new one? Now you have a more flexible option thanks to the iPhone. We know that the iPhone can do a lot of things by way of the multitude of Apps that are added every day, but in this case, some extra help is needed in the form of a separate device called Sky Dock. To get it to work, you place your iPhone or iPod onto the Sky Dock which in turn is plugged into the car's cigarette lighter power port.The built-in antenna pull in the satellite signal and a FM transmitter beams the music or whatever you are listening to, to your car stereo system allowing the signal to go through the speakers. The connection is straightforward, and once it is done, the next step is to download a free app from the iTunes store. The App will allow to control the XM turner using the iPod or iPhone screen interface while the Sky Dock keep them charged.
Beside just listening to their favorite programs, users can tag songs for later purchase at the iTunes store, play games, receive all sort of alerts or follow different tickers.
Access to XM Sirius Radio content is not free, with the subscription costing $13 a month. The device itself retails for $120, but some sites like and are offering it on sale for $96.99 and $101.45 respectively.

For more, see the

Friday, November 13, 2009

How to copy a Windows error message?

Dealing with an erratically working computer with those Window alert boxes is frustrating enough, and when finally you have a technician on the line to assist you with the problem, another hurdle will be to remember what the alert was about. And anyone who has been through that situation knows how tedious it can be to try to jolt down all the technical information contained in the error alert box. According to the New York Times, there is an easy way to copy that information for use later when aid is near by.
To save the error message, simply click on the alert box to select it and press Control-C to copy the content.
Next, open a working word-processing program or e-mail message and press Control-V to past and save the information .

For more, see

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to make some photos on Facebook visible to only certain people?

If you have some pictures on Facebook that you would like to make visible only to a limited number of people, fortunately, there is a way to do just that. The place to start, would be the privacy settings on the site.
From there, these are the steps to follow according to the New York Times:
1-Go to the Photos section on your profile page and click the "See All" link to bring up a list of all your photo albums;
2-Click the "Album Privacy" link and go to the album you wish to restrict;
3-Select "Customize" from the drop-down menu;
4-Click the button for "Some Friends" and type the names of friends with whom you'd like to share these particular pictures.
Another way to do it is by choosing to display a limited version of your profile page to certain people.
Here are the steps to achieve that still according to the New York Times:
1-Click the "Privacy " link at the top of your profile page to get to the settings for adding select information to the limited version of your Facebook profile;
2-Once the limited profile is defined, click on the Friends link; viewership
3-Click on the Limited Profile on the right side of the screen to add the names of friends whom you want to see the censured version of your online profile.
All these features and many more privacy features like a new one called "Friends of Friends", are explained in details in the Facebook blog.

For more, see

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The new Windows 7 lacks a built-in e-mail program.

It's has been less than three weeks since Windows 7, Microsoft much anticipated operating system has hit the market and the reviews are generally good not only from the experts, but from many regulars users.
The advantages of Windows 7 over its much maligned predecessor, Windows Vista, are numerous and include among others, a much secure, faster, reliable, less bloated system.
In order to achieve theose results and either by design or as a consequence, Microsoft has part way with many of the things that people usually associate with a Windows operating system. Among them, the most noticeable thing is the absence of a dedicated preloaded e-mail program in the new Windows 7 operating system.
That alone is quite a change that will have Windows based PCs users, needing to learn to move past the initial sense of lost. And all things considered, the ability for people to use a Microsoft e-mail program is not lost for good, it is just moved from being standard with every new PC built and shipped, to being on demand, in the sense that you can get it, but only if you want it.
Yes, Microsoft is still supporting an e-mail program with Windows 7, only this time users will have to make a separate trip to one of its Web site called, to, you guessed it, download it.
On the same Web site, users can download more than just the e-mail program, they can download Windows Messenger for exchanging instant messages, as well as Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker and a program called Writer for composing blog posts.
But given the number of free Web based e-mail programs available out there today, to trade off a preloaded e-mail program on a new PC for some speed and less clutter, should not be a bad deal.

For more, see

Monday, November 9, 2009

Playing Internet radio through Window Media player.

Music lovers who want to listen to their favorite radio stations online but without the extra steps of opening up their browsers and launching the right Web page, but instead want to listen in from Window Media Player, may be able to do just that.
It get even better because not only can they listen to their radio stations of choice from Window Media Player, there are other ways to bypass the browser as well. But without getting ahead of ourselves, lets start with the listening through the Window Media player.
According to the New York Times, "recent versions of Window Media Player let you listen to live streaming radio in a few different ways. You can add a stream you find yourself on a radio station Web site or select one in the Media Guide menu in Window Media Player."
From a radio station Web site, the thing to look for is the "Listen Live" or "Listen Now" buttons on their home pages with a link to listen to the live stream on Window Media Player. Or you can simply copy the live radio stream's URL and past in into the Media Player Open URL box; to bring up Window Media Player URL box, just type Control + U on the keyboard.
And if you have the Window Media Player11 version, "you can find also find radio stations by clicking the arrow under Online Stores Tab and choose radio stations from the menu" according to the New York Times.
From there, you can click on the link for Internet Radios where you can browse and listen to a collection of Online streams, still according to the New York Times.
Microsoft has a guide to listening to listening to Internet music radio with Window Media Player at
Another option is offered by Web sites like or that aggregate Online radio stations from around the world and let you listen to the audio feed through your media software of choice like Window Media Player itself, or those sites players as well.

For more, see

Friday, November 6, 2009

Travelocity is offering a price difference refund for online booking.

Late last month, Travelocity started offering a price difference refund for online hotel bookings To travelers who book hotel rooms on its Web site then later find the same reservation at a lower price online anytime before the day they check-in, Travelocity is offering to refund the difference between the prices, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Also through December 30, travelers who find a lower booking price, will receive $50 toward future travel booking on the Web site.
According to the Wall Street Journal, travelers who want to take advantage of that offer, would need to send a screen grab or other proof of the lower rate, to Travelocity.

For more, see

Thursday, November 5, 2009

1Cast offers reliable TV viewing on mobile phones.

As most mobile TV is broadcast exclusively through WI-FI connection, the experience can be challenging given the fact that the hot spot coverage can be spotty at best.
But according to the New York Times, there is one broadcaster, 1Cast that "transmits junk-free news not only by WI-Fi, but also over a 3G, or even a 2G network."
1Cast is a free app that works for both the iPhone and Android phones and can be customized to search for videos on topics of your choice.

For more, see

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Droid, Motorola newest smart phone is a nice alternative to the iPhone.

This past Wednesday, Verizon Wireless introduced the much anticipated Motorola Droid slated to be a serious contender to the iPhone. The Motorola Droid would be the first device to use Google Android 2.0 operating system which is an open source. Describing it, PC World magazine said: "It boasts a beautiful high resolution screen, multitasking apps, free turn-by-turn GPS navigation system and both a touch keypad and hardware keypad."
All those above mentioned five features are a stab into the heart of the iPhone's core given the fact that the iPhone doesn't offer either of them. Take the case of the free GPS navigation that come with the Motorola Droid for instance, not offered by iPhone, it can be had in the form of an app costing $100.
As mentioned above, one of the most attractive aspect of the Droid phone is the fact that it runs on a open source, which allows interesting features to be added to the phone. One of those features is the integration of multiple social networking and e-mail accounts into the phone's contact list.
This means that contact and calendar information can be synced with Microsoft Exchange e-mail services and also other Web e-mail accounts, as well as, social-networking sites like Facebook. The new version of the software has support for Microsoft Exchange, which is huge because it means that corporate users can sync their work e-mail with their phones.
Also, a search function was added to the SMS and MMS messaging feature and the software has been updated to support a camera that includes a built-in flash, a digital zoom, a scene mode etc.
The new Droid will go on sale November 6th, costing $200 after a $100 rebate and requiring a two year contract and a $30 monthly data plan.

For more, see PC

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