Man Sells Video Game Collection On eBay For $1.23 Million

If I sold the several hundred video games that are floating around the nooks and crannies of my house, it would probably go like that Gamefly commercial… “OKAYYYY… WE CAN GIVE YOU $9-“

This guy, on the other hand, appears to have made his hoarding habit pay off :p

Man Sells Video Game Collection On eBay For $1.23 Million – 104.5 and 96.1 The Point Sheboygan’s Hit Music.

It’s not “Back to the Future,” but getting closer… Inventor turns plastic trash into liquid gold | Video | Reuters.com

Okay, it’s not the Flux Capacitor, but who says science fiction doesn’t predict future technologies?  Remember at the end of the original “Back to the Future” movie when Doc Brown starts stuffing trash into the Mr. Fusion appliance to fuel the Delorean?  Well check out this Reuters story about a company in the Philippines that’s collecting waste plastic from landfills and breaking it down into fuel!

Inventor turns plastic trash into liquid gold | Video | Reuters.com.

Mobile Phone Alert: Free wifi calling is a double bonus – save money and improve reception at home!

If your mobile phone wireless carrier offers free wifi calling, check it out! It could save you money, relieve stress, and give you better at-home wireless coverage!

stickynote tech services' business lifeline: the blackberry bold 9900

In order to use wifi calling, you need a phone that supports it like this Blackberry Bold 9900.

As a small business owner with limited funds, I worry about the cost of my mobile phone bill, especially since my mobile phone is the lifeline of my business and I often get into lengthy conversations with customers on it.  Of course I could cut those calls short but that would be at odds with my mission to provide a superior level of service and responsiveness to my customers. However, I do worry about going over the magic minute mark and possibly getting whacked with extra charges.

So imagine my delight when T-Mobile, sent me a text message announcing that they were offering free wifi calling for supported phones on their network.

What is wifi calling?  It’s the mobile phone equivalent of Skype or Vonage, where instead of calling through the carrier’s 3G or 4G network (what most people still refer to as the cellular network), your phone is set up to make calls over the internet using your home wireless network.

T-Mobile does a great job of getting the word out about free wifi calling.

So I rushed to the link on t-mobile’s website that promised the free wifi calling feature, and frankly, found it a bit difficult to decipher. They didn’t offer much in the way of instructions except for a list of phones for me to pick from. Okay,  I chose mine, the Blackberry Bold 9900 and clicked it, expecting to be taken to a page that would say yes or no wifi calling and maybe some instructions for how to enable it. But instead, it just delivered me to a page that displayed a link stating that a software (OS) upgrade was available for my phone and then listed links to the Blackberry user manuals.  Apparently T-Mobile feels that sending me to the manuals is adequate guidance… ummm not in THIS America!

t-mobile web page showing manuals and software upgrade link

Here's where T-Mobile could have been a little more user-friefndly by letting us users know that the software upgrade is the key to enabling wifi calling!

Of course I don’t give up so easily and just a short google search away, found on crackberry.com, that my phone does indeed support wifi calling, but it needs to be enabled by my carrier. Ok, back to the T-Mobile site where I once again followed the path through the woods to the page for my phone.  Still no clues from T-Mobile (not that I expected anything to have changed, but thought maybe I just missed seeing something the first time around like an “enable wifi now” button). So while searching I noticed the “software upgrade available” button again and decided to at least get that done so I wouldn’t feel like my efforts were wasted.

I initiated the software upgrade directly through my phone and it took about 2 hours to complete. When it came back up, lo and behold! there in the upper right corner was the wifi calling icon, and within minutes a message popped up on my screen explaining how wifi calling works. You know… they could have just said something on the website like “to enable wifi calling, download this lastest software update” …

Anyhow, the first benefit to wifi calling is that calls through my home wifi network don’t use plan minutes and don’t cost extra. This is perfect for my home-based business where most of my longer calls take place while I’m at home sitting at my computer.  The second benefit is that my indoor wifi coverage is about a zillion times better than my indoor 3g/4g coverage, so I no longer have to do the sit-in-the-chair-by-the-front-corner-of-the-house-and-lean-towards-the-window-because-that’s-where-the-coverage-is thing.

Now don’t let me mislead you, wifi calling is far from perfect. First, it’s only as good as your local wifi connection and if you frequently lose your wifi connection at home, consider upgrading your wifi router as an unreliable connection will translate directly into dropped calls.  Second, at least in the case of T-Mobile’s implementation, there’s no handoff between wifi and 3g/4g which means if you go out of range of your wifi network during a call (eg if you leave your house), the call will be dropped.

However, if you take and make a lot of calls at home and have a reasonably reliable wifi network, free wifi calling can not only make things cheaper and easier, it can also give you a little respite from that constant worry over plan minutes!

 

 

 

Not just goofy home videos any more, maturing Youtube offers a wealth of DIY video resources for do-it-yourselfers.

What is YouTube?

There was a time not too long ago when if asked what is Youtube?  You might have responded that it’s the world’s biggest collection of home videos ranging from skateboarding dogs, to dancing bridal parties, to rambling kids spacing out on novacaine.  You may have mentioned music videos and especially the plethora of cover songs and live performances, and of course, there are videos of every kind of sport and activity with footage from helmet cams, bike camsdashboard cams, and even space shuttle cams.

What you may not have responded with is a detailed do it yourself auto repair screw-by-screw tutorial for pulling the intake manifold from your Ford Escape so you could change the back three sparkplugs which, for reasons that mere mortals cannot possibly comprehend, are buried  underneath an awful lot of other stuff that has to be removed first.  You may not have mentioned the step-by-step do it yourself appliance repair video showing detailed disassembly of your Maytag Dryer to replace a broken belt tensioner pulley.

nothing beats solid detailed instructions!

Left to my own devices, who knows how many screws I would unnecessarily removed for my dryer repair if I didn't have a video that showed only two that actually needed to be removed!

What you may have missed if you haven’t been paying attention, is that Youtube has become the go-to authority for almost all things DIY, often offering multiple do-it-yourself videos, some from fellow do-it-yourselfers who want to share what they’ve learned, and some from professionals who offer free do it yourself video tutorials in exchange for the opportunity to pitch their shop as the place to go if you bite off more than you can chew or need to buy parts to finish your DIY project.

Either way, it’s not a bad thing, and as a do-it-yourselfer who has done both the plugs on the 03 Escape and the belt tensioner pulley on the Maytag dryer, I can tell you firsthand that having a good do-it-yourself video tutorial on hand not only saves time, money, and mistakes, it could even save you from having bloody knuckles by suggesting a better technique for removing a sticky bolt than what you may have attempted otherwise!

 

SOLVED: Why is everything too big to fit on my screen?

Sometimes a corrupt video driver can make everything appear oversized on your screen, but more often your browser's zoom feature is the culprit.

Does it seem like everything on your screen just got humungous and you have to scroll up and down and sideways just to see everything?  Chances are you inadvertently used the zoom feature of your web browser and your screen is zoomed in so you are now seeing everything larger as a result.

Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome all contain a “zoom” feature that allows you to enlarge or reduce the viewing size of web pages you are browsing.  This feature is particularly handy if you want to read something small but don’t feel like hunting for your reading glasses at the moment.

While the menu structures that get you to the zoom feature may vary, all three of the major web browsers, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome share the same keyboard shortcuts for using the zoom feature.  Here’s a quick summary:

ZOOM IN:  CTRL +

To zoom in, hold down the ctrl key and while holding it in, press the plus key (note that on laptop keyboards you may need to do ctrl/shift/+ if there’s no numeric keypad).

Zooming in makes everything appear bigger on your screen.  You can zoom several times and each successive zoom will make things larger.  Zooming is handy for reading small type, and can also help when trying to make out details in an online image.  Note that not all web pages will zoom. Some (like facebook photo images) will automatically resize to fit the browsable screen area.  When zooming in, expect that you will have to scroll sideways as well as up and down to see the whole web page.

ZOOM OUT:  CTRL –

To zoom out, hold down the ctrl key and while holding it in, press the minus key (note that on laptop keyboards you may need to do ctrl/shift/- if there’s no numeric keypad).

Zooming out makes everything appear smaller on your screen.  You can zoom several times and each successive zoom will make things smaller.  Zooming out is handy if you are looking at an image that’s too big for the viewable area if you want to see the entire image onscreen.

RESET TO NORMAL VIEW:  CTRL 0  (that’s a zero, not the letter o)

To reset your view to normal (100%), hold down the ctrl key and while holding it in, press the zero key.

A few more notes about zooming…

At the top of this article I mentioned that you may have inadvertently used the zoom feature to make everything gigantic and not fit on your screen.  How, you might ask, does one “inadvertently” access the zoom feature? Here are a few common causes:

  • Young children randomly pressing keys may hit the CTRL+ combination
  • small animals, especially cats, that may walk on the keyboard
  • Laptop touchpad controls that access zoom by using two fingers to “pull apart” or “pinch together” much like the zoom feature on your smart phone.

Regarding the need for reading glasses to view small type on web pages, if you find this to be a constant hassle, you may consider resettng your text size to larger than normal.  This will usually make text display larger without necessarily blowing up the entire website.  Text size is accessible from the “view” menu on most browsers.

I have observed that some websites, and particularly web-based games don’t display properly in zoomed-in mode. That is, besides being large, they may also display random characters or image bits called screen artifacts. Usually using CTRL/0 to reset to normal will solve this.

Please note that there are other possible causes for things being too large for your screen including corrupted or missing video driver, but you should try the things mentioned above first before digging into the more technical aspects of your PC.

 

HEAT WAVE! Hot weather can stress your older PC or laptop: Avoid expensive damage with a simple cooling system tuneup!

There’s nothing like a few days in the high 80’s or 90’s to put your computer or laptop’s cooling system to the test.  Of course if you have good air conditioning, this all may go unnoticed, but for those who don’t, or if you use your laptop on the road, outdoors, or in public places like classrooms, buses, or subways, rising temperatures outside means rising temperatures inside your computer that could become so critical your system shuts itself down to prevent damage.

How does cooling work in the PC?

Stickynote computer service can help with overheating computers or laptops

Some companies have developed laptop cooling devices that are like a tray that goes under your laptop and has fans that blow up into the laptop chassis. If you are having heat problems this can help but don't skip on blowing out or vacuuming the system's cooling vents!

Your computer’s processor (CPU) generates enough heat in a tiny space, that left uncooled, it would cook itself to death in a matter of minutes,  To counteract this, system designers have come up with a variety of schemes to draw heat away from the CPU thus ensuring that it is sufficiently cooled to operate reliably.  Most CPUs are air-cooled by the combination of a heat-sink (a heat-conductive metal structure designed to draw heat away from the surface of the cpu chip) and a fan that pushes air through the heat sink structure and exhausts the air along with excess heat out through vents in the computer chassis. You can usually locate these exhaust vents on a laptop just by moving your hand around the back and sides of the unit until you feel a gentle rush of warm air exiting the case.  In most cases, there are sensors that measure the temperature of the CPU and cause the cooling fan to run faster when the chip gets hotter, and slower when the chip gets cooler.  The purpose of this fan speed regulation is to balance the cooling needs of the CPU with the aesthetic need for the computer to run quietly and not be a noisy intrusion in the room.

A COMMON SYMPTOM: NOISY FAN

Understanding how cooling works, it’s easy to see how the first sign of a cooling problem is usually that the cooling fan suddenly becomes very loud, and remains on and running at high speed for prolonged periods of time.  This is a dead giveaway that your computer is fighting to stay cool, and in most cases, is losing the battle!

I once had a customer who told me her computer sounded like an airplane trying to take off.  While we had a good laugh over her description, it was no joke when I opened the tower and found the cooling system so clogged up with pet hair and dust that it was a wonder any air was passing through it at all!

In this case, the cause of cooling failure is usually blockage of the air vents or the “fins” on the heat sink where the fan is trying to push air through.  This is remedied by using a vacuum or compressed air (or both!) to clean out the vents, the area around the heat sink and fan, as well as any cowling that may be in place to direct airflow.  This can get very messy and is generally recommended to be performed outdoors so you don’t end up blowing all that accumulated dust and stuff into your indoor breathing space.

What if your PC abruptly shuts down before it even finishes booting up?

If your computer abruptly shuts down without warning during or just after startup, there's a good possibility your cooling system has failed and your CPU is overheating.

I have observed, particularly in older desktop PCs (windows xp vintage), that sometimes plastic clips used to join the heat sink to the CPU surface can become brittle and break causing the heat sink to “pop” off of the CPU.  In this case you may get the high-speed fan sound, but more importantly, the PC may freeze up and become completely unresponsive or more commonly, it may abruptly shut down within 30 seconds to a minute of being started. If this happens, don’t keep trying to start it!  More than a few times starting without the heat sink attached and the CPU will cook itself leaving you with little choice except to go shopping for a new computer.

What if your fan isn’t noisy but you get a warning message indicating an overheat situation, or your pc shuts down abruptly without warning?

It’s not always the case that cooling problems are indicated by a noisy fan.  In fact, a cooling problem could also be indicated by a suddenly quiet fan that used to be noisy or an least noticeably running.  In this case, your fan may have failed and is either barely turning, or has stopped altogether.  In this case, the computer may issue an error messsage, but is more likely to just abruptly shut down without warning after a few minutes of operation.  In this case, the fan usually needs to be replaced.

One time, I was called in to a local dry cleaner to investigate why their computer kept shutting itself down.  When I got there, I found a portable tabletop fan pointing straight into the back of the computer and running at full speed.  The manager said this was the only way he could get it to run without shutting down.  Not surprisingly, when I opened the unit up I found it so packed with lint, there was no airflow at all from the built in fans.  That customer is now on a regular regimen of quarterly cleaning to avoid the inevitable lint buildup.

 

Other signs that a cooling problem may be looming on the horizon…

Groaning – If your computer is making what is described by many customers as a “Groaning” sound, this usually indicates the bearings are wearing out on the cpu or graphics cooling fan.  Replace the fan now because if you just ignore it, rest assured, when the groaning stops, so will your computer!

Pets – If you have pets (including birds), particularly breeds that shed a lot, expect your cooling vents to get plugged up quickly.  Plan on a vacuuming/blowout at least annually, more often if you notice a marked increase in fan speed/noise.

Dusty House – If you’re like me and live in an older or antique house, you know that it’s a constant battle to stay ahead of the pervasive dust that seems to be shed endlessly by horsehair plaster.  Thanks to its constant airflow, your computer’s cooling system is like a magnet to plaster dust and should be blown out at least annually, more often if you notice increased fan activity or are undergoing home renovations that generate inordinate amounts of dust.

In conclusion…

I’ve given you a few different computer overheating scenarios, some that are easy to remedy, and some that may require professional help.  The most common failure, the clogging of vents and heat sink with dust, lint, or pet hair, is forunately also the easiest to tackle on your own if you’re a do-it-yourselfer.  Go to Staples and buy a couple cans of compressed air and use it to blow dust, hair, and other obstructions from your computer’s vents and fans. But don’t forget, do it outdoors unless you relish the thought of breathing in a dust cloud!!!

Ugh! My Facebook notifications are a wasteland of app requests! Here’s help for the harrassed…

App requests:  The new spam…

Are you getting smothered by Facebook app requests and invitations in your notification list?  What a thrill to sign in to Facebook and see that little number saying your friends have included you in their online activities, only to open the list and see nothing but annoying app spam!  How often are you seeing stuff like this in your facebook notifications?

Billy Williams has sent you a request in keg partyville

or

Jimmy James wants to enter your birthday in Birthday Alarm Clock

Now as much as you like your friends Billy and Jimmy, you have no intention of signing into those apps, so what do you do?  Should you just ignore the request? You can, but that won’t solve the problem of you receiving a barrage of continued requests, getting them over and over again until you’re so annoyed you start seriously considering unfriending (or worse) your friends!

Step away from the unlike button!

Don’t think too badly of your friends for this, in fact, although a friend would actually have to initiate the first request according to Facebook app development guidelines, subsequent requests may be sent automatically by the app without your friend even being aware of it thanks to this little gem called Frictionless Requests that I found in the Facebook app developers guide:

Frictionless Requests

Frictionless Requests enable users to send Requests to specific friends from within an app without having to click on a pop-up confirmation dialog.  Upon sending a Request to a friend from within an app, a user may authorize the app to send subsequent Requests to the same friend without a Dialog prompt. This removes a Dialog from the flow and streamlines the process of sharing with friends.

So although guilty of sending the original invitation, all the annoying invites since then may be coming from the app itself, taking advantage of frictionless requests to continue getting in your face perhaps even after your friend is no longer interested in the app!

Don’t despair – Here’s how you can fix it!

If you’re sick and tired of app invites and app requests cluttering up your notifications, there are settings that can help you reign in on those spammy apps without having to resort to unfriending your bffs. Here’s the lowdown, step-by-step:

First, you need to get into your privacy settings by clicking the little arrow (inverted triangle thingy) to the right of your ‘home’ link, and choose ‘privacy settings’ from the dropdown menu

stickynote tech services on facebook privacy settings

pull down your facebook settings menu and choose privacy settings

Next, scroll to the bottom of the privacy settings and choose ‘manage blocking’ in the Blocked People and Apps section

Stickynote Tech Services setting up facebook block list

click 'manage blocking'

scroll down to  the ‘Block App Invites’ section and start typing in the names of people who frequently send you unwanted app invites.  As facebook suggests the correct name, click it, and it will be added to your list of blocked app invites.  This won’t limit them from any other interaction with you, but will nicely get rid of those annoying invites.

Stickynote block app invites in facebook

type the names of people who send you app invites to block those invites in the future.

okay, so what about those apps that seem to be on the tongue of every friend, and as a result, are all over your notifications?  How about blocking the app itself? Yes!!  Go to the section titled ‘block apps’ and start typing the name of the offending app and poof! Facebook will autocomplete the app name and with a simple click, it joins your no-no-please-no list of apps you never want to hear from again (that is unless you change your mind, in which case you can go into the list and unblock to your heart’s content).

 

start typing the name of the app and facebook will autocomplete with matching app names. As indicated by the arrow, you can see part of my list of blocked apps.

 Unlike blocking invites through friends which only blocks the invites, blocking the app effectively silences it including invites, updates, bragging (Bob Roberts just earned three-gazillion schmingers in schmingerville!), and whatever other types of clever communications the developers have dreamed up to entice you to join 😛

Okay, one final note before we wrap up and you head off to build some block lists…  You should be aware, that when you add a friend to the blocked app requests list, it not only blocks the specific app request you’ve been plagued with, it effectively blocks your friend from sending you app requests from any app (or more precisely, it blocks any app from sending you invites through your friend).  The good news though, is that even when added to your app request block list, your friend can still engage you directly via chat, message, or wall to tell you live and in person so to speak, what a great app they just discovered and suggest you check it out!

Your computer died? Don’t panic! A dead computer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost all your data.

A dead computer doesn't necessarily mean you've lost everything...

Picture this, you go to turn on your computer and nothing happens. No lights, no whirring of fans, no nothing. Or maybe it starts to boot but freezes, hangs up, or gives you an error message that you can’t get past.  It’s an ugly scenario, but one that happens all the time.  Let’s face it, computers are sensitive electronic devices and as such are susceptible to failure from any number of causes including power surges, power outgages, overheating, static electricity, and life’s assortment of bumps and bruises (particularly for laptop and netbook computers) as well as failure due to age, poor design, manufacturing flaws, even individual component failures, in short, like a radio, TV, or any other electronic device, sometimes computers just inexplicably fail.

I often get asked by customers “what happened?” not because they would necessarily understand when I say the capacitors in the video card ruptured, but because they want to know what they can do in the future to prevent this from happening again.  Realistically? Nothing.  It didn’t fail because of anything you did or didn’t do. In fact, it’s more of an indictment of market pressures driving down the cost of PCs and forcing manufacturers to cut corners and reduce product lifespan to maintain what slim margin remains on the production of PC hardware.

But let’s get back to you and your dead computer. So there you sit with a dark screen and a sinking feeling that you’ve lost all your  family photos, your music collection, your documents, projects, resume, emails, contact lists, everything. And you know that when you ask anyone that knows anything about computers, what they think, the first words out of their mouth will be “do you have a backup?”

Ugh! You always meant to do that but never got around to it…

You may be aware that there are companies who specialize in recovering data from dead computers, but you also may be aware that typical prices for their services tend to run into the thousands of dollars.

What you may not be aware of however, is that a dead computer does not necessarily mean lost data.  In fact, in most cases, the hard drive can be easily removed from your dead computer and in a relatively straightforward operation, the data can usually be extracted from it during a housecall service without even having to send your computer anywhere.

Of course there are cases when the hard drive really is damaged and data cannot be recovered locally, but this is not typical.  So before you give up on ever seeing your baby pictures again, contact a professional local geek service like Stickynote Tech Services.  An on-site professional can usually tell in short order whether your data can be recovered directly, or if more drastic (and more expensive!) recovery services are required.

Some DO’s and DON’Ts when faced with a non-booting PC:

Do unplug it, Do call a professional at least for an opinion, Do make note of any error messages, unusual noises, or unusual performance leading up to the failure.

Don’t try a system recovery or any other operation that involves reinstalling Windows as this may get your computer running again, but can wipe out all of your data in the process!

Old Tech Device May Be Greatest Exercise Machine Ever Invented

What if I told you that you could get a workout equivilent to an hour on the treadmill and a sun tan better than any flourescent tanning bed while also getting some fresh air, catching an earful of chirping birds, enjoying the smell of fresh-cut grass, and getting your lawn mowed – all at the same time?

The modern Reel Mower is lightweight, and features easy-rolling wheels all around instead of the heavy wooden rollers of it's predecessors.

Enter the old-tech device that, like the sewing machine, is a mechanical marvel of the industrial age. The device I refer to is the Reel Mower. The reel mower was a staple of childhood for those of us who have been around long enough to remember black & white television. Unlike it’s successor, the rotary mower, the reel mower had no gas or electric motor, and was powered entirely by the effort of its’ human operator who pushed it across the lawn. Called the Reel Mower after it’s large spinning blade reel, it was customary in the burgeoning suburbs of the 60’s and 70’s to find kids out wheeling one of these things around the lawn as part of weekly chores before they could go play on a saturday morning.

Back then, although it had no engine, the mower was very heavy with parts constructed of thick steel and with large wooden rollers along the back and often also having heavy wood or iron handles with oaken grips shaped to the contour of your hands. Pushing that thing around on the lawn was truly a workout.  It’s no wonder there was no childhood obesity problem to speak of back then!

A few years ago, I saw that local hardware stores and home improvement stores were starting to carry reel mowers again, after decades of offering only gas-powered rotary mowers.  Feeling a bit eco-minded, and maybe nostalgic too for the whir of the blades and smell of fresh-cut grass without the roar and stench of a gas engine, I decided to buy one.

stickynote tech services

The business end of the reel mower. Note the rotating blades or 'reel' that lends the mower its name.

The first thing I noticed, was how remarkeably light the new mower was.  Thanks to the use of plastics and modern lightweight metal alloys, my new reel mower could easily be lifted with one hand, and pushing it was hardly a chore!  The second thing I noticed was something I had forgotten in my nostalgia, probably the ultimate reason why the reel mower was made obsolete by the rotary mower. Unlike the rotary mower that cuts by spinning a blade at high speed and effectively “whipping” the tips off the grass, the reel mower relies on the grass being pulled up by the reel against a stationary cutting blade that, like scissors, shears the grass cleanly between the reel and the blade. The flaw in this design is that grass that is too tall, does not properly draw up against the blade and instead gets pushed over and left unshorn.  This is why when we were kids, the mowing wasn’t finished until you took the Dandelion Whip and cleared out any stray grass or weed stalks that were too tall for the reel mower to cut.

A Portion of my back lawn freshly sheared by the reel mower. This is about a twenty-minute workout.

Okay, well, so that was a minor inconvenience, easily remedied by doing a “first cut” of the season with a gas powered rotary mower, and then continuing with an every other day or every third day regimen of mowing with the reel mower.  And so it goes, that I have given up sweating indoors on a treadmill while watching TV and breathing stale air in favor of the comforting whir of the reel (think Edward Scissorhands), the invigorating scent of fresh cut grass, and the sun’s warmth tempered by a cool breeze.  And although there’s no motor and no electricity, no memory chips, hard disk, or CPU, the mechanical workings of this device are sufficient to pique the interest of my inner geek. I can’t wait for it to break so I’ll have an excuse to open it up and see how the gears and such all work together to turn human energy into a beautiful lawn.

 

Last updated by at .