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: 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: 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: 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: 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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