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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Emerson LCD, Black Friday, Black Screen - DIY Fix

I dislike Walmart. I dislike shopping (unless it's online). I hate Black Friday. I really hate shopping at
Walmart on Black Friday. Despite all of these things, I got talked into going to Walmart on Black Friday in 2010. Until a recent mishap, I was actually glad I did it. I purchased a 42" Emerson 1080p LCD HDTV for next to nothing and was quite happy with it.


Just after the warranty expired, like magic, the TV started having problems. BIG PROBLEMS. Well, they started small but grew like weeds. It all started in the middle of Dora The Explorer. I went to turn the volume down with the remote and there was no response. I assumed it was the batteries, so naturally, I left my seat and pushed the power button on my Emerson TV. No response. What did I do? I unplugged the damn thing, plugged it back in and pushed power. The blue light came on at the bottom left of the TV. That was it. It still wouldn't turn on. I temporarily gave up.

A few hours later, I decided to do what most people do when they can't figure something out. www.google.com. Lo and behold, I see hundreds of people with the same problem. I see hundreds of people that are disgusted with Emerson and Walmart. I see hundreds of people that seem to be SOL and reverting back to their old tube TV's. I don't see any answers.

For a while I contemplated making a video pretending to play Wii bowling and launching my WiiMote into an already broken TV. I figured I could at least get some YouTube hits out of this. Fortunately, I refrained.

Now, being a computer guy, this idea popped into my head. For computers, I consider it one of the oldest tricks in the book. It's typically the computer world's equivalent to raising Lazarus from the dead. Folks, behold the power drain! I'm not going to get into the science of it but I will tell you how it's done.

Here's how you do it:

1. Unplug the TV from the outlet
2. Hold the power button down for at least 1 minute.
3. Plug the TV back in.
4. Push the power button.

After I did this, to my surprise, the TV came on like normal. I cheered wildly and knocked on some wood. Now, the next day it happened again. So I drained the power again, thinking this was going to become the standard power on procedure. Well, that was the last time I had to do it. It's been almost 3 weeks now and the TV is working perfectly! Maybe what I did didn't actually fix it. Maybe it's just some giant coincidence. I don't care. It works, and I didn't spend a dime.

If this helps just one person, I'll be thrilled. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Get Your Cloud On: Part 2, Microsoft Sky Drive

When I first heard about this service, I was blown away. 25GB of online storage for FREE. Wait, what? Seriously? Yes, seriously. How do I do it? Well, I'll tell you.

1. Head over to https://skydrive.live.com
2. Create a Live account if you don't already have one
3. Login to your live account

Creating a Folder

Click 'Files'

Click 'New folder'

Type a name for your new folder and press enter

Adding Files

Select the folder you would like to add files to

Click 'Add files' or just drag and drop files and skip the next step

Find and select the files you want to add and click 'Open'
Hold 'ctrl' (Windows) or 'cmd' (Mac) while clicking to select multiple files at once

Your files should now appear in your folder!

Sharing Folder(s)

Click 'Share folder'

 Enter the email address of the person you want to share the files with
If you don't want them to make changes to the folder, deselect 'Recipients can edit'

If you receive the following message, click the link

Fill out the 'captcha' and click 'Continue'

Go back to the SkyDrive page and click 'Share'

There is one thing that really bothers me about SkyDrive. It doesn't support the uploading of folders. It only supports adding individual files. However, there is a workaround that will allow you to upload a folder and all of it's contents. I will show you how it's done in a later post.

If you have any questions, feel free to post below. I'll be more than happy to help you!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Get Your Cloud On: Part 1, Google Music

cloud com·put·ing

The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer

Let's store our music in the cloud!

Google Music allows you to upload up to 20,000 songs and access them from anywhere that you have an internet connection. Yes, you can even access it from your mobile device. Best of all, it's FREE!

Quick Steps

  1. Sign up for a Gmail account.
  2. Download and install Music Manager.
  3. Choose the location where your music files are stored.
  4. Upload your music.
  5. Access Google Music from any computer by going to music.google.com.
  6. Access Google Music from your mobile device by going to music.google.com or get the Android app.
  7. Disable Music Manager on computer start up by going to the advanced tab (optional)
Below, you will see in depth instructions on how to complete the above steps. This tutorial was created in Windows 7, but should translate easily to other operating systems.

Installing Music Manager

1. If you haven't already, Sign up for a Gmail account.
2. Go to Google Music.
3. Click Agree.

4. Click the "Download Music Manager" link.

5. Browse to your downloads folder and run the "musicmanagerinstaller.exe" program.

6. Click the "Next" button.

7. Enter your Gmail address and password then click the "Next" button.
note: you can uncheck "Automatically send crash reports to Google" if you wish. I'll leave it checked to help improve the software.

8. Select the location of your music collection. Mine is in the "My Music" folder.
9. Click the "Next" button.

10. Music Manager will now scan your music folder. Once finished click the "Next" button.

11. I don't want Music Manager to automatically upload my music, so I selected the "No" button. This is personal preference.

12. You should now have the Music Manager icon in your system tray. Click the "Next" button.

13. Your Music is now uploading. Depending on how many files you have, this could take a while. Click the "Go to Google Music" button.

Using Google Music from a Computer

1. If you didn't click the "Go to Google Music" button in the above step, just type music.google.com into your web browser. 

2. Bookmark this page.

3. By now a few songs have probably been uploaded. Click on the "Albums" link and then click an album.

 4. Double click on a song to start playing it.

5. Click the small arrow to access details of the current track or album.

Access Google Music From Your iPhone (or other smart device)
note: Android has an app specifically for Google Music. For other devices you have to access it through your web browser. 

1. On your mobile device go to music.google.com.

2. Sign in with your Gmail username and password.

3. Bookmark the page.
4. Stream your music!

Disable Music Manager on Startup (optional)

1. Open Music Manager (in windows just double click the tray icon).

2. Click the "Advanced" tab.

3. Uncheck the "Start automatically when computer is started" box.

4. Click the "OK" button.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Using FDM to schedule download times

There are a lot of Internet Service Providers out there that limit the amount of data you can download each month. Most of the time these ISP's will give you a certain time window where you have unlimited downloads. The only problem is this time window is normally during your sleeping hours. How convenient...

You could wake up in the middle of the night and download that new hit song from iTunes or that new game you've been dying to play. Alternatively, you could use Free Download Manager and sleep soundly knowing your download will be waiting for you when you wake up. You choose option B?

Setting up the software

1. Click here to download the program.

2. Install the software making sure "Launch FDM automatically at Windows startup" is checked.

3. Open the newly installed program

4. Click Options > Settings > Downloads > Time Limit

5. Check "Limit time when FDM can start downloads"

6. Set your start and stop times and click the "Ok" button. FDM will only download between these hours.

Starting Downloads

Method 1

1. You should now have a blue download box at the bottom right of your screen anytime you open a web browser.

2 .To add a file to your download list, just drag and drop the download link onto the blue square.

3. Click "Ok" in the FDM dialog box. Your download will start at the scheduled time.

Method 2

1. Right click the download link.

2. Open FDM by double clicking the blue download box.

3. Click the "Add download" button.

4. Right click in the "URL" field and paste the link.

5. Click the "Ok" button. Your download will start at the scheduled time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Create a Secure Password Using LeetSpeak

Let's face it, it's 2012 and cyber criminals are lurking in every shadow of the internet. These people want nothing more than to steal your personal information. How do they do it? They use programs to guess your lackluster password for a site that you frequent. To top it off, studies show that at least 33% of computer users use the same login information over multiple websites. This means if a hacker steals your Facebook password he's going to try it on other sites. Emails, bank accounts, insurance, oh my!

Scared yet? Of course you're not. This could happen to everyone else, just not you. Um... no. Read on!


Leet (or "1337")  is an alternate version of the English alphabet. Leet uses symbols and numbers to replace letters.

1 = L
3 = E
3 = E
7 = T

Make sense? M@k3 53N53? Take a look at the image below.

Why Leet?

To guess passwords, a lot of hackers use what's called a dictionary attack. In short, a program runs through an exhaustive list of common words and tests them all for a match. This type of attack has a very high success rate on passwords that use single words or variations of words found in a dictionary, such as adding a number.

To sum it all up

Bad Passwords: Password12, Secure86, Random72
Great Passwords: P@55w0rd12, 53cur386, R@nd0m72
Elite Passwords: 9@55vv02cl12, 53(y3w386, 9@/\/cl04472

Here's to being secure in 2012! I'm going to go change my password now.