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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Multi-Port USB 2.0 and 3.0 Hubs

Amazon 7-port USB 2.0 hubDoes anyone ever have enough USB ports? Last week I suggested you Fill Your Front Bay With Memory Card Reader and USB Ports. It is a very elegant solution, but may be more of a project than you want to tackle or maybe it just won't work for you. An alternative is to get a USB hub that adds a number of ports in a small box.

At right is a 7 port USB 2.0 hub from AmazonBasics that is currently selling for $18.99. It may look like it only has five ports, but there are two more on the other side. If you are adding more and more USB 3.0 devices, you can get a 7 port USB 3.0 hub from AmazonBasics currently selling for $34.99. Amazon also offers variations with either 4 ports or 10 ports for both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. Just follow the previous links and you'll see the option to choose the variations on the same page.

If you have a travel bag, a 4 port USB hub would be a great accessory to throw in your bag. On your desktop, you'll probably want to get either the 7 or 10 port versions so you have plenty of ports when you need them.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

25 Most Popular (and Worthless) Passwords

Strong PasswordsIt seems there is a new hacking situation on a very regular basis on the news. We're talking big hacks of major companies. When those hacks occur, it often can mean millions of customers have their login credentials stolen. The folks at SplashData look over all the data and compile an annual list of the most commonly used passwords. Below is the list for 2013 and you'll find the change from 2012 in parenthesis.
  1. 123456 (Unchanged)
  2. password (Unchanged)
  3. 12345 (Up 17)
  4. 12345678 (Down 1)
  5. qwerty (Down 1)
  6. 123456789 (Unchanged)
  7. 1234 (Up 9)
  8. baseball (New)
  9. dragon (New)
  10. football (New)
  11. 1234567 (Down 4)
  12. monkey (Up 5)
  13. letmein (Up 1)
  14. abc123 (Down 9)
  15. 111111 (Down 8)
  16. mustang (New)
  17. access (New)
  18. shadow (Unchanged)
  19. master (New)
  20. michael (New)
  21. superman (New)
  22. 696969 (New)
  23. 123123 (Down 12)
  24. batman (New)
  25. trustno1 (Down 1)
As I looked at the list, I was just shaking my head as I can't imagine that people are still using so many of these easy to guess passwords. Knowing they are in the Top 25 makes them even easier to guess since the bad guys can just go down the list! I really hope all of use are not using such simple passwords, but I fear many of you use something on this list or at least something equally easy to guess.

For your own safety, use strong passwords! I wrote a long post on this at Choosing Strong Passwords and Remembering Them Easily. If you follow my advice, you won't have any difficulty choosing a strong password and just as important, you'll never forgot a password. For example, I'll often use a password that looks like "%BxazClzZ30y5#". Each site that requires a password will have one equally as difficult to guess. Yet I don't forget any of them because Roboform takes care of that for me.

Some of you will refuse to use Roboform simply because it isn't free. So let me ask you, how much time have you wasted in the last year trying to remember your passwords? Have you gotten hacked because some of them are too simple as in the above? Does your time and security have any value to you? Yes, Roboform costs $9.95 for the first year. For all of the hard work it does for me and the security it provides, it is well worth the cost. Quit making excuses and start using (and remembering) secure passwords!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Free Bilbo Script Font Perfect For All Hobbits

Download Bilbo FontsSome of you will find it shocking that I've not seen any of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies. I don't avoid movies, I just didn't seem to have an interest in those particular films. But when I saw the name of today's free fonts, Bilbo, I immediately thought of the title character from those films, Bilbo Baggins. I don't think these OpenType script fonts have any relation to the films or the characters, but they might just be the scripts you need for a project. Get your free copy!

Not sure how to download and install these free fonts? Make sure to read Downloading Fonts, Installing Fonts and Spam Filters for detailed instructions. Need help setting up an account for free stuff? Read Do You Have Account For Free Stuff On Graphics Unleashed?
Download Bilbo Fonts

Bilbo Regular

Bilbo Character Chart

Bilbo Swash Caps

Bilbo Swash Caps Character Chart Downloadable Product
Download Free Fonts

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Get Windows 10 For Free!

Free Windows 10Have you been slow to move to the newest versions of Windows in the past? If you are still using Windows XP, that's definitely true. Even many users of Windows 7 hesitate to upgrade to Windows 8/8.1 as they don't see any benefit. Microsoft wants to do everything possible to get users to upgrade to Windows 10 when it is available.

So they are giving away Windows 10 upgrades for free!

Yes, there are some specifics if you want to get the free version. It will be available to users currently on Windows 7 or 8 and the upgrade will only be available for the first year. After the first year, the upgrade would have to be purchased as you've had to do in the past. Once you've upgraded to Windows 10, it will be kept current for the supported lifetime.

What does "keeping current" mean? It definitely includes new security updates just as we've had with the last few versions of Windows. It also includes new features and you'll have options for how you want new features installed including the option to not install them.

As Windows 10 is not expected to be released until sometime in the fall of 2015, this isn't something you'll need to do right away and the clock is not yet ticking on that year. As you plan for the future, include a plan to upgrade your computers to Windows 10 within the free year. For those thinking about purchasing a new computer now, the good news is that you'll be able to upgrade it once Windows 10 is available and it won't cost you anything extra.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fill Your Front Bay With Memory Card Reader And USB Ports

I've yet to see a computer that had enough USB ports for me. And I'm always pulling a memory card from a camera to transfer the pictures into my desktop computer for editing. What I do have available on my desktop are several empty front bays. It all leads to a perfect scenario to get something to slide into an empty bay that gives me a way to plug in more devices and get pictures from my memory cards.

Picture below is the Rosewill 2-Port USB 3.0 4-Port USB 2.0 Hub eSATA Multi-In-1 Internal Card Reader with USB 3.0 Connector. It reads all the popular memory cards and provides 4 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA port. Popping open a front bay and sliding it into place is fairly easy. You'll then need to connect it to power and the various connectors on your motherboard. If you're used to opening your computer, it might take 10-15 minutes. Those who are unfamiliar with the guts may take a few more minutes to get it installed. I've had something similar in my computer for years and find it extremely useful!
Rosewill 2-Port USB 3.0 4-Port USB 2.0 Hub eSATA Multi-In-1 Internal Card Reader with USB 3.0 Connector

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Social Media Explained Gives You Knowledge You Need

Social Media ExplainedI've read each of Mark Schaefer's previous books: Return on Influence, Tao of Twitter and Born to Blog. Each of those books has given me knowledge I can put to use immediately. I'm a little late to get Social Media Explained: Untangling the World's Most Misunderstood Business Trend but I'm excited for my copy to arrive as I'm sure I'll learn some more good information.

In the last couple of years, I've dedicated a lot of my time to the world of social media. You'll find a detailed tutorial I wrote about it in CorelDRAW Web & Social Media Success Kit, I've implemented social media plans for clients and I work hard on my own social media efforts.

Some of you may cringe when you hear anything about social media and others are likely embracing and using it regularly. Why is it important? It is a way for any business of any size to talk directly with customers and potential customers. While some think that only means putting advertisement out there, the real power comes in true back and forth communication. Building a good relationship can lead to sales.

Yet so many people don't understand why social media is important and how to get started with an implementation that meets your needs. That's where this book can help. For those who have resisted integrating social media into your marketing, give the book a read and you might just change your mind. If you've gotten started and are looking for the next step, you'll read cases studies that help guide you forward. C'mon, it's less than ten bucks and can show bring much more to your business if you implement the plans discussed.

Just looking for some free quick tips from Mark Schaefer on how you can ignite your own content? Check out the post linked in the embedded tweet below.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Anti-Virus Software Required? Diagnosing Sick Computers

Monday MailbagThere is a local pizza joint that has a great deal on Wednesday evenings on pizza and wine. So there I sat the other night with a friend when an attractive woman starting waving at me from the bar. She and her beau has stopped in for a drink themselves after a shopping excursion to CostCo.

She is also a friend and it was just coincidence we were both there. But she had a very important computer question to ask me. Recently she bought a new laptop and wondered if she really needed to install anti-virus software on it. My answer is quite simple, YES!

No matter how careful you might be, it won't be long before a computer gets infected if you don't have something installed to protect it. As soon as that computer goes online, there will be a bad guy (or girl) somewhere who wants to infect the computer. Whereas if you install some good software and avoid doing things that might get you infected, you will likely be able to avoid any viruses or malware. I have personally used the ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite for a decade and I've been lucky enough that I've never been infected. Since they released the "2015" version of their suite nearly a year ago, I'd expect the new version to be out fairly soon. Don't worry, you get all new versions included during your subscription period. I always go for the two-year plan as it saves a little money and I have to worry about renewing less often.

Another friend heard that I'd be coming to Las Vegas next week to teach some CorelDRAW Seminars and asked if she could pay me to stop by her business to clean up two computers. For those who are interested, there are still spaces in the seminars. Before I agreed, I asked for some basics on what is plaguing the two computers.

The first computer is about a year old and has slowed considerably. There are frequent messages saying that something is using too much memory. This is minimal information and I'll truly have to sit down at the computer and do some looking before I can find the culprit. One of the first things I'll do is bring up Windows Task Manager as it can tell you what processes are running, the amount of the CPU they are using and the amount of memory being consumed.

Windows Task Manager

Above you'll see a screen shot I did of Windows Task Manager as I was writing this post. You'll note that my processor is relatively idle but 56% of my memory is in use (so more than 8GB) as stated on the very bottom line. While you can't see everything running, you can see that Firefox is responsible for more than 1 GB of memory all by itself. Probably because I have a lot of tabs open and haven't restarted it in a few days.

If you want to know what is the biggest CPU or Memory hog, just click on the title at the top of the column and things will be sorted so the hogs go to the top of the list. I'll certainly use this to try and diagnose the case of the slow computer.

The other problematic computer gives messages that the fan is out. This isn't likely something I'll be able to fix simply because I won't have time to pull the bad fan, go to the store to buy a new one and then return to install it. While it may sound scary to some to open a computer a replace a part, a fan is pretty simple as it probably involves four screws and one plug. It's just important to know the size so that an appropriate replacement can be purchased.

While this is the initial diagnosis from the limited amount of information I was provided, it could be something quite different once I get there. I'm not sure I can completely fix them in the short time I have available, though I think I'll be able to discover the problems and at least leave her with a plan on how to get them working better.

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