Monday, March 29, 2010


Lately I've been using Microsoft Security Essentials (MSSE) and Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware (MBAM) to fight malicious software (malware) including virus, Trojan Horse, spyware and other varieties.

Both programs are free and are very effective.  I used to use AVG and Ad-Aware, but it seems that lately those programs haven't kept up with the latest threats as well as MSSE and MBAM.  In fact, I've seen more than one computer get a very nasty infection while AVG was installed and running.

So, if you want the best protection from malware (for your Windows PC) that no money can buy, get MBAM and MSSE.  They are both available from

Sunday, March 28, 2010


One of my most trusted and relied upon tools is LogMeIn.  I use this almost daily to remotely control computers.  I install LogMeIn on all of my clients' servers so that I can remotely access them as needed.  I also install it on my clients' desktop and laptop computers so that I can help them with problems remotely instead of scheduling a service call.  It saves a lot of time and gas.

LogMeIn is very secure and works very well.  The free version does everything I need in most cases.  There's also a paid version that enables additional functionality such as remote printing and file transfer.

LogMeIn works closely with Intel and they have developed technology that allows you to remotely control a computer through LogMeIn below the operating system level (out-of-band).  That means that you can remotely get into BIOS and change settings and even remotely install an operating system.  The technology is available on some computers and motherboards now and will be available on more models in the future.

Besides the version that you have to install on the computer that you want to remotely control, they also have a free beta service called LogMeIn Express that lets you hold online meetings and remotely assist people who don't have any other remote access to their computer.  It even lets you transfer files!

Check out LogMeIn and LogMeIn Express:

Google Wave

If e-mail was invented today, Google Wave is what it would look like.  It combines the best of e-mail, instant messaging and online collaboration into one tool.

I've used it to track information for a major project and collaborate/share with other people involved with the project.  It's great for collaborating on something as simple as a grocery list or as complex as planning a vacation.

Google Wave is vastly superior to ordinary e-mail and, if marketed and developed correctly, could eventually become more widely used than e-mail.  It is my hope that it does, because the current e-mail system is based on a protocol developed in 1982, before there was Spam.  It's a very trusting protocol, which is why fighting Spam is such a massive effort.  Google Wave fixes that problem and many more.

Right now it's in beta and not open to the general public.  However, I have some invitations left if you're interested in getting a Google Wave account.  Just let me know.


The problem with cell phone voicemail is that it's controlled by your cell carrier instead of you.  Some carriers delete messages after a certain amount of time; even if you want to save that one special voicemail, you're out of luck.  As far as I know, the big carriers don't let you use different voicemail greetings depending on who's calling.  They don't email text transcriptions of your voicemails to you, either.

The solution:  YouMail.

YouMail gives control of your voicemail back to you.  Set custom greetings for different callers, get transcriptions emailed to you, save voicemails for as long as you want and much more.  You just follow the instructions to configure your cell phone to forward calls to YouMail instead of your carrier's voicemail system and then you tell YouMail how to handle those calls.

The free account is ad supported and doesn't offer voicemail to email transcription (although I think it does give you a limited time trial of the feature for free).  There's a paid version that's still pretty affordable (under $20/year) and gets rid of the ads.  I haven't really looked into the paid version(s) because the free one is good enough for me.

Check it out:

How to increase the Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 18-gigabyte database size limit

If you're running Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or later and are running into the 18GB database size limit, follow this Microsoft Knowledge Base article to increase the limit, up to 75GB.

IP CIDR Supernet Calculator

Ever need to convert an address from CIDR notation (e.g., to network address, network mask and usable address range?  Here's a handy online tool that can help you do just that.

MAC Address Lookup

If you've ever tried to track down an unknown computer on a network and all you have to go on is the IP address, hostname and/or MAC address, any additional information can help save time.

Often, it's helpful to know the manufacturer of the computer's network interface.  If you knew it was made by Dell, then you could save a lot of time by just looking for Dell computers.

There's a website that lets you put in the first half of the MAC address and then tells you who the manufacturer of that device is. I've relied on this site for years.  Here is the link:

Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer

Want to test remote connectivity to your Exchange Server?  Here's a Microsoft website that does exactly that:


Want to know how fast your Internet connection is?  There are other sites out there that will test your bandwidth, but my favorite is  It gives you a very easy to use graphical interface that lets you choose test servers from various cities on a map.

If you're on Comcast and want to test your connection through the Comcast network, there's a speed test site just for you:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ninite is a website that allows you to create custom application installers quickly and easily for many commonly-used free programs.

You just go to the site, check the boxes next to the applications you want to install, and then click the button at the bottom to download the installer.  The installer is very small, so it downloads very quickly.  Once launched, it downloads all of the programs and installs them automatically with default options.

It's great for setting up a new computer or even just installing one or two programs, because it's generally faster and easier than getting the installer from the normal location and going through the setup wizard.


Xmarks is another browser add-on/plug-in/extension for IE, Firefox and Chrome.  It does for your bookmarks what LastPass does for your passwords.

No longer do you have to update your bookmarks on each computer or in each browser that you use.  Now they are all synchronized with a couple of clicks.

To me, Dropbox, LastPass and Xmarks is the holy trinity of data portability and cloud computing.  Your bookmarks/favorites, passwords and files are all the same on any computer you use.  What could be better than that?!


LastPass is a password manager.  But, it's not just any old password manager.  It encrypts your passwords locally on your computer and then uploads the encrypted data to a secure site online.  That means that you can access your passwords from any computer with an Internet connection.

What I love about LastPass is that I can easily install the browser add-on/plug-in/extension into IE, Firefox and Chrome on all of my computers and have my passwords available in any browser on any of my computers.  How convenient!


Welcome to my tech tips blog!

Occasionally, I come across some handy website or plug-in. I've created this blog as a way to share them with others who are interested in such time-saving, frustration-reducing tips.

It's only fitting that my first post is about a tool that has become ubiquitous in my digital life: Dropbox.

Dropbox is a website and application that work in tandem to synchronize files/folders in the Dropbox folder on your computer(s) to the website. It also allows you to share folders with other people. It's secure, fast and easy.

The best part is that you get 2GB of storage absolutely free. Plus, it works on PC, Mac and Linux.

Get Dropbox and you'll find uses for it you might never have imagined.

If you don't already have a Dropbox account, click here to sign up and get an additional 250MB (total of 2.25GB) of storage space free!