Saturday, March 3, 2007

Anonymous Web Browsing with Tor and Firefox

Are you worried about online privacy? If so, you should check out Tor. It's basically a virtual network you can use to connect to online services without anyone knowing your identity. Cool, right?

Installation is really quite simple. For Windows users, just follow these instructions.

If you're using Firefox, you can install the Torbutton extension that allows you to switch from Tor to regular surfing with the click of a button. It's really that convenient.

The downside is that Tor is kind-of slow. Logically, it would be. You're sending your traffic across other people's network connections. However, if you're looking for anonymity, Tor might be a good choice.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Get Away from Windows - Use Ubuntu

I'm now waiting for my Windows Vista upgrade. It's supposedly on its way from Dell. Who knows when it will get here.

But the point of this post is Linux, specifically Ubuntu.

Maybe I've been out of the loop, but this OS seems to be all the rage these days. Maybe because it's "Linux for human beings."

There's an awesome blog I found that has some great tips and ideas for Ubuntu. If you haven't seen it, check it out and see what this OS can do for you. There's even a great post on switching to Ubuntu.

After you install it, you can tweak your installation easily. Flexibility might be one of the draws to this OS. Perhaps you can tell me.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nightmare Upgrade to Office 2007

Back in January I bought my spiffy new Dell Inspiron. I love the laptop, but I'm having software issues.

The laptop came with Office 2003 Small Business Edition. Along with that, it qualified for an upgrade to Office 2007, but that has to be redeemed through a special website.

I've been trying to redeem that upgrade since January 12th, with no luck.

I've tried the online form, the phone number, and the email address. I've called Dell several times, I've called Microsoft, and I've called the 3rd party company who is handling the upgrade redemption process. No luck.

For some reason, nobody can find my Certificate of Authenticity in the upgrade system. It appears that my copy of Office 2003 doesn't exist in the appropriate database. What a load!

We'll see how it goes. Maybe I can get somebody to fix this mess.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Tweak Your Windows Settings

Have you noticed that Windows XP lacks a lot in the way of customization? Are there things you always wished you could do?

You should try out Microsoft's PowerToys. In a nutshell, these are awesome little programs that you can install to give added features to XP. Honestly, I think they're things that should've been in the OS from the start.

My favorite PowerToy is TweakUI. It provides settings to tweak lots of things in the user interface itself. You can set your machine to auto-login a certain user, you can change some of the default Start menu behaviors, the "places bar," and much more.

If you're looking to do something in Windows XP, you might check out the PowerToys first. They're pretty cool.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Upgrading to Windows Vista - When?

Windows Vista is shipping soon. Personally, I'm waiting for my upgrade to arrive. What about you?

A lot of people are worried about bugs in Vista. I guess that doesn't really bother me. I don't think the bugs will be that big of a problem. Sure, they'll require automatic updates regularly, but XP already requires that too.

The bigger problem might be if some crucial program doesn't support Vista yet. I could see this might hurt some people, since some users have very specific and important software that they need every day. But for me, I don't really use many other programs, beside Office and Firefox. I guess there are several free or open source programs that I use frequently. Maybe I should check if those will work on Vista.

Other than these two concerns, I don't think I will wait to upgrade from XP to Vista. There is some neat functionality that I want to utilize, and I'm anxious to see how it performs (and looks) on my new Inspiron E1405.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you waiting to upgrade until later, or are you jumping on it now?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Great Firefox Tip for Secure Browsing

I just ran across a great post at Lifehacker. It provides a quick tutorial on how to create and use multiple Firefox profiles, even simultaneously.

So why would you want to do this? Two important reasons: security and privacy.

Say you do online banking and bill paying. But you also do lots of other internet activities. You could keep better control over your passwords and bank web addresses by keeping them all in a separate Firefox profile. If you only use that profile for banking, it would theoretically expose your critical financial information to less of a security risk.

Another example where multiple profiles could be handy is for keeping your identities separate. Perhaps you use Gmail for your personal email, but you have a separate Gmail account that is linked to a Blogger blog. With multiple profiles, you can keep each account logged into Gmail in its own Firefox profile. Handy, right?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What's Up With Standby?

My laptop was doing terrific with the "standby" feature, until today. For some reason, when I press the power button (which is supposed to put it on standby), it actually goes into hibernation. It looks like something might be wrong with my power settings. Poop.

If you're a laptop owner, you should definitely check out the different power features of your machine. These can be vital to getting more battery life out of the machine. For instance, I have a setting configured for maximum battery life. It dims the screen, turns the display off when not in use, etc. Very useful.

Also, you should learn about standby and hibernation. From my understanding, they do almost the same thing. However, standby actually uses more power, but it is quicker to resume from. Basically, they save where you are working "power down" your machine, and let you pick up where you left off. I rarely shut my laptop down. It's almost always just on standby. It saves loads of time.