TechBite: CES Wows and Duds

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By Steve Bass

I found a handful, maybe a dozen, innovative and smart products in out-of-the-way booths, and a few “oh, wow, I gotta have that” gems. I’ve got a few to tell you about this week — like the gizmos that help you save energy at home and earbuds that’ll knock your sox off.

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TechBite: Eliminating The Windows “Corrupt Files” Message

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By Steve Bass

I did the unbelievable — a beginner’s mistake, if I ever heard one. I unplugged of a USB-attached device without using the Safely Remove Hardware applet. And up from the depths of the system tray came the here-comes-lunch “Windows – Corrupt File” message.

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TechBite: 2 Useful Gadgets & a Bass Rant

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By Steve Bass

Commercials are loud now, louder than I can ever remember…what can you do about it?

Worried your toddler (or for many of you, your great-grandchild) may reach up, grab your large-screen TV, and get bonked on the head? Or maybe you live in California or Nebraska (Nebraska?) and you’re frazzled thinking about earthquakes…what can you do about it?

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TechBite: Oh, Bass, What Did You Do?

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By Steve Bass

On March 21, 1991, I stopped using Norton’s security programs.

But I like to see what the dark side is up to, so I recently switched back to Norton. And I’m really happy I did.
Of course, knowing how you always like to hear the dirt, I’ll tell you the back story.

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TechBite: Two Monitors? Heck, Make it Three!

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By Steve Bass

Listen to this concession: “Okay, yes, once you’ve used a two-monitor setup, going back to a single monitor sucks.”

That from my wife who last year resisted using a second monitor. It’s so darn quaint when she admits she’s wrong.

Judy found that out when I brought home a friend’s PC for repair, needed a monitor, and borrowed hers. (First rule of computing: Use someone else’s equipment whenever possible.)

The repair was taking longer than I expected — funny how computers do that to you — and, my pobrecita was feeling deprived.

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TechBite: Great Troubleshooting Tips and Tools

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By Steve Bass

Sure, there are God-only-knows how many Registry fixer-uppers that purport to get your computer back on track. And every few months, a slick magazine will promise that its 20 Secret Insider Troubleshooting Tricks article will restore your PC to  pristine condition. The nerve of those annoying insiders keeping secrets! (Here’s a revelation: I used to be one of those insiders)

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TechBite: Why I Said No to Free Off-The-Air Reception

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By Steve Bass

No doubt, watching a TV show or mobile in high definition is miraculous. The picture is sharper than sharp (so much so that like it or not, you can see the pores on an actor’s face).

I’m a DirecTV subscriber, but I’m too cheap to pay their extra fee for high definition service, so I decided to try an HDTV indoor antenna.

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TechBite: The Straight Skinny on HDTV Calibration

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By Steve Bass

A while back I gave you some advice for calibrating your PC monitor or high-definition TV. I thought it was pretty good stuff, but the very foundations of the Internet began to rumble and experts started writing. (I never know who’s reading my newsletter.) Here’s what I learned.

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TechBite: Adios USB 2.0–Hello USB 3.0

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By Steve Bass

It’s not like I have anywhere important to go to, but I still hate to wait. That’s why I’m enjoying USB 3.0.

Let’s get the numbers out of the way; then I’ll talk practicalities.

USB specs are inflated… they always are. USB 2.0 is rated at 480 Mbit/s (about 57MB/s) while USB 3.0 is 4.8 Gbit/s (572 MB/s). In the real world, the only users getting these speeds are the marketing people who dreamed up the specs. On my PC, USB 2.0 moved files at 25MB/s and USB 3.0 can get up to 55MB/s.

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TechBite: A Smart Printer with $4.99 Cartridges

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By Steve Bass

I think we’ve got the razor-blade method of marketing printers figured out: Sell the printer for a couple of bucks, then gouge and exploit us on cartridges. I hate it.

Lexmark makes its money the old-fashioned way. It sells printers at higher-than-competitor’s printers, but then sells the ink cartridges at reasonable prices.

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TechBite: 10 Unusually Useful Web Sites; Password Revealer

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By Steve Bass

I spend lots of time patrolling the Internet, looking for sites that can help me with my life. Some are pin-pointed to something I might need right away, like Contact Help, a way to get the phone number of a company. Others are spots I know I’ll need someday, such as instructions for recovering a ring from a drainpipe or how to wrap an extension cord like a pro.

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TechBite: 2 Weapons to Fight Spam

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By Steve Bass

I wrote about “plus addressing” years ago in PC World. It’s a trick to spot where spam is coming from and stop it from landing in your inbox. Basically, you use a unique e-mail address when you sign up for a newsletter or Web service. If you start receiving spam at that distinct e-mail address, you know it’s been compromised.

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TechBite: Secret Shopper Scam – Don’t Get Nailed

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By Steve Bass

My mother got a letter from a company in Canada. The cover letter, on decent-looking stationery, and with a real signature, congratulated her for agreeing to be a secret shopper. There were three pages of instructions and an honest-to-goodness Citibank check for $1,500.

The letter said she was to cash the check, use the money to buy items at Sears, Best Buy, and a supermarket, and then rate the stores. On top of that, she could keep whatever she purchased — and get a $300 fee for her time. Sweet, no?

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TechBite: 5 Net Tricks to Save You Money

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By Steve Bass

Frugal? Thrifty? No, Cheap!
"You’re a bargain hunter," one of my more polite friends says. My wife’s more to the point: She calls me a cheapskate. I like being frugal, but what do I know? Call me whatever you want (you will anyway), I don’t like paying retail and I’m always looking for a deal, especially when shopping online.

The Internet gives me the chance to comparison shop, see how shipping figures into the price, look over specifications, and feel confident I’ve found the best buy. Here are some of the sites I use.

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TechBite: Use the Web to Find Anyone in the World

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By Steve Bass

Find Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime (Almost)

"You find my long-lost buddy and I’ll paint any room in your house." I was talking to a couple of friends about how I had tracked down a wayward YahooGroup moderator.

It was a sweet deal (the kitchen has three colors, lots of cabinets, and needs painting) and I was up for the challenge.

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TechBite: Stream Movies from Your PC to Your TV

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By Steve Bass

Watch movies on my PC? No way." I was talking to one of my cousins, not one of the brightest bulbs in the family. It took me a few minutes to explain how he could send downloaded movies — as well as other Internet content, such as TV shows — to the TV in his living room.

For the last few months, I’ve tried two devices that sit near your TV and grab video content from your PC. Even in this dreadful economy, neither one I tried is terribly expensive — and there are no monthly charges.

This week I’ll cover the hardware; next week I’ll tell you where to find movies and TV shows on the Internet. I’ll also tell you about a MediaGate portable media player.

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TechBite: 14 Smart, Handy & Free Web Sites

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By Steve Bass

I have some Web sites for you that are kick-in-the-butt cool; others are just plain handy, the kind of thing you save for only occasional visits. How about an image resizer and a nifty online walkie-talkie? And I use TimeZone Converter to find out what time it is in Singapore (so I can call my friend at 2:00 a.m. his time to see if he’s in yet from club hopping).

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TechBite: 10 More Super-Duper Firefox Extensions

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By Steve Bass

I love it when you write and pass along handy ideas. I received hundreds of messages (okay, 50, but who’s counting) sharing Firefox add-ons, extensions, and tips — and I’m successfully using many of them. Here are some of the most useful of the bunch.

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