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Movavi Online Video Converter

When did file formats get so out of control? Documents, audio, video, and images all have different formats, and while some seem to be more accepted than others, you may have to use some of the more obscure file formats on certain occasions. For me, the most vexing file formats involve video. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve tried to watch a video only to find out that the format of the video wasn’t supported on the device or software that I was using. This can be very frustrating, and even though there may be software that can play multiple video formats, it’s not of use in some situations. The last thing that I want to do is spend (read: waste) some time trying to find downloadable software that will convert my videos to the appropriate format when I can just use an online service like Movavi Online Video Converter. 

To get started, either upload or provide the URLs for the videos that you want to convert (there are a couple of restrictions in terms of video length and size), select the desired output format, and enter your e-mail address so that you can be contacted when your videos are done. Movavi Online Video Converter is capable of converting and saving online videos from services like YouTube, and you can also combine all of the videos that you’ve specified into one video file.

Ubuntu! (Here’s The Email I Just Sent To My Two Geeky Sons-In-Law)


I don’t know if you ever tried (or had an urge to try) Ubuntu Linux.  I installed it a year or so ago, and was massively (sorta) unimpressed.   It definitely showed promise, but the installation was a PITA, and the interface just wasn’t quite ready for prime time.  You had to download an ISO, burn it, then install — blah, blah…

A couple of days ago, I read about WUBi (on Lockergnome, of course). Ever willing to try something new, if it’s not too much trouble, I downloaded the installer, clicked on the default setting, and went off to read some Janet Evanovich.  Then I went to bed.  (The installer downloads a 600+ MB ISO file, and the servers were running slow that night.)

I promptly forgot about the whole thing.  This morning I decided to reboot, and lo and behold!  I was given the option of automatically booting into XP Pro, or into Ubuntu.  Sumbitch!  I selected Ubuntu and hit “Enter.”  Stuff happened.  Finally I was asked to enter a username and password.  I did.  BINGO!  A Linux desktop appeared.  I have a dual-boot machine, with — literally — four clicks including running the installer.

This is so friggin’ easy that there’s no excuse for not trying out Ubuntu any more.  After some tweaking and importing a few Firefox extensions — oh, BTW, it comes with Fx 3 and OpenOffice — I had essentially the same basic setup I have with Windows.

Except… it’s quick.  It doesn’t talk back,  It does as it’s told, and it’s altogether acceptable, in my book.  I don’t know that I’ll ever migrate completely to Linux but, on the other hand, I know I’ll never run Vista (already threw away a free disk), have my doubts about Windows 7, since it will run on the same core as Vista and presumably have most of the same problems, and a Systemax PC or Asus laptop is a helluva lot cheaper than a MacAnything.  If I can learn to get by without my legacy Windows programs … hey, you’re never too old to teach yourself new tricks!

Incidentally, Hardy Heron kicks butt compared to Wistful Weasel or whatever the previous Ubuntu build was called.  I really think this thing’s ready for prime time.


Hardware Vs. Software Firewall

I recently had Zone Alarm on my computer and one of its updates stopped me from being able to access the Internet or email. I removed the software… and they came right up. Can you recommend a free firewall download? — Ken

The primary function of a firewall in the computer world is to limit access to and from other computers that are connected through a network. The Internet is the world’s largest computer network, so a firewall is an essential component to reduce the possibility of an unauthorized person gaining access to your computer via the Internet.

I have always used the ‘nightclub bouncer’ analogy to explain firewalls. Think of a firewall as a ‘bouncer’ at the door of your personal nightclub (computer). Only those that are authorized (have an invitation) are allowed to pass by the bouncer.

A nightclub with no bouncer has no way to ‘filter’ patrons as they come in, which makes it less ‘secure.’

A big mistake that will compromise the security of your nightclub (and computer) is leaving a back door open (the computer equivalent of opening file attachments that are infected), which will circumvent the security at the front door.

Unauthorized patrons can sneak in the back door and once they are inside, they can alert other unauthorized patrons on how to access the ‘back door.’

A common misconception surrounding firewalls is that they somehow prevent viruses and other malicious code from attacking your computer… nothing could be further from the truth.

Most malicious code generally comes to you as an attachment in email or text message or by visiting a Web site that attempts to silently download its malicious code (aka drive-by downloads). Once an infected file is opened or a drive-by download is executed it can completely compromise the security created by the firewall.

There are two general types of firewalls; hardware and software-based.

In general, hardware firewalls are easier to install, manage and protect a large number of computers in home or business networks all at once.

If you installed a "broadband router" which allows you to share your high-speed Internet connection with several computers, you have also installed a hardware firewall, which could be all you need if you are a conscientious Internet user.

Even if you only have one computer connected to a high-speed connection, such as a cable modem or DSL, I would highly recommend that you install a broadband router.

Software firewalls can add a second layer of protection, not so much from those that are trying to get in but as a way to alert you whenever a program is trying to access the Internet.

When your computer get’s infected by spyware, adware or identity stealing key loggers, they all try to "phone home" via your Internet connection.

A software firewall will alert you to the fact that a program is trying to access the Internet and block it until you give that program permission to do so.

For those with a technical background, this additional action is fine, but for most average users, this additional level of coverage causes a lot of heartburn (as in your case).

The heartburn comes from not knowing the difference between a valid program (such as your anti-virus, anti-spyware or other security programs) and a rogue program or in your case, how to tell the firewall which programs have permission to access the Internet.

When you first install a software firewall (or if an update resets your permissions), it will stop every access and ask your permission, which tends to drive non-technical folks up a wall.

Another issue to consider is what you do on your local network. If you need to be able to access files and drives from one computer to another on your own network, a software firewall installed on each machine can make that access more complex.

The technically astute crowd doesn’t give the Windows Firewall much credit, because in the past it did little to block outbound traffic. The latest version does a much better job and should be available in any computer that has all the current updates installed (open the Control Panel and then the Security Center to see if it is turned on).

Ken Colburn
President of Data Doctors Computer Services, Host of the award-winning Computer Corner radio show, and Author of Computer Q&A in the East Valley Tribune newspapers.

Microsoft Word’s Format Painter Icon

Microsoft Word makes it very easy to copy text formatting with the Format Painter icon. As the name implies, you can paint specific text formatting to other areas of your document.

The Format Painter icon looks like a paintbrush. If you do not see it on the toolbar, click Commands from the Tools menu, navigate to Format, and drag the Paintbrush icon onto the toolbar.

With the Format Painter icon now visible, you can use it to copy text, as described below:

  1. Highlight the text containing the formatting you want to copy.
  2. Click the Format Painter icon on the toolbar.
  3. Highlight the text that you want to apply the formatting. The text formatting will be applied to the text.

If you want to apply copied formatting to different areas of a document, double click the Format Painter icon. You can apply the copy text repeatedly until you press Esc.

The News and Private Moments

With the competition for twenty four hour news, the television journalists are quickly on the scene to cover disasters, man-made or natural. There is a trend to put “a face” on the disaster and to personalize it. A microphone is placed before someone who is having one of the worse moments of his/her life. Video is rolling.

It is intrusive and really lacks any civility.

For example, with the recent floods in the midwest, people were returning to find that the flood waters had ravaged their community and destroyed their homes. As people returned to survey the damage, there was the ever-present news reporters with the ‘how-do-you-feel’ questions. Do the questions really need to be asked when a person’s home and community has been washed away by the surging river?

One may question whether such reporting is really news or whether it falls into the category of entertainment. The goal is to keep the viewer on the station and feed the advertising to as large a demographic as possible. These personal interview segments are fillers to add a human touch. Unfortunately, in many cases, these intrusive interviews truly lack any sensitivity to another fellow citizen experiencing an intensely personal tragedy. Stop asking how they feel. It is obvious. Allow the people their private moment.

Catherine Forsythe

Twinkle: The Hot Scoop, Coming Soon!

If you’re like me you KNOW that Twinkle is THE twitter app for the iPhone. It has been missing from the app store. I decided to contact the good people at Tapulous to get the hot scoop on what’s going on and here is what I received.

Free free to blog that it has been with Apple for some time and waiting for approval. So any day now you’ll get to see it. And it will be sporting:

* a sexy new interface

* all the standard Twitter features

* some failsafe protection that your tweets/messages will be delivered to your connections that are also on Twinkle

* the ability to use Twinkle even if you are new to Twitter or not a Twitter user



Co-Founder, Tapulous, Inc

Thank you Andrew. I can’t wait!

Identity Theft Legislation Criticized

Legislation in Iowa mandates the prompt notification of a security breach. Delays in notification place victims at financial risk:

“…”I’m a little bit upset about the Montgomery Ward ordeal taking six months to disclose that there was a problem,” said Rep. Dave Jacoby, a Coralville Democrat who pushed for the Iowa law, which requires companies to provide notice of security breaches “in the most expeditious manner possible.”

The Iowa attorney general could require violators to compensate victims.”

link: Critics:Identity theft law not very effective

There are critics who say that the legislation does little to stop identity theft. That is not necessarily the case. If a business knows that there is a stiff penalty and negative publicity for a data breach, then security becomes a priority. There may be a reassessment of which data bases are truly necessary. Encryption may become the standard for data on laptops.

The legislation will become effective once the states strictly enforce the law and make it financially prohibitive to be irresponsible about security matters. Companies would not have to concern themselves with this legislation about data breach notification if the security actually safeguarded the data with which they are entrusted.

Catherine Forsythe

New Yorker Cover Of Obama – Offensive Or Not?

If you have not seen the current cover on the New Yorker magazine, it pictures Obama in Muslim garb, his wife shouldering a AK-47, an American flag burning in the fireplace, a picture of Osama bin Laden hanging over the fireplace, all of which appears to be taking place in the oval office of the White House.

This alleged satire is supposed to show the politics of fear that is being spread about Obama and his family. It is not meant to be an allegation about anything that Obama is or is not. But unfortunately it can be taken either way. One newspaper stated:

The Obama campaign, as well as the campaign of Republican rival John McCain, slammed the cover as offensive:

“The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement, reported by Politico. “But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.”

“We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement.

I commend Senator McCain and his campaign for condemning the cover as being in poor taste and as offensive. I am sure Senator McCain would not wish to see himself nor his family put through a distasteful situation such as this.

What do you think? Putting your political feelings aside, do you think the New Yorker cover was appropriate or not?

Comments welcome.


Wallpaper Picks for July 14th

There have been so many great wallpapers coming through that I haven’t had time to post them all, but I wanted to at least pick a few of my favorites that I thought everyone might enjoy taking a look at.  These are my wallpaper picks from WinCustomize over the last couple of days.

Click each image to be taken to the download page where you can find more information about the artist, and the select wallpaper.


Yahoo Rejects “Ludicrous” Microsoft Offer

Over the weekend, another offer was made from Microsoft to take over Yahoo. Again, the takeover was rejected:

“Microsoft would have bought Yahoo’s search engine while Mr Icahn would have ended up with the rest of the business.

Yahoo objected to being given only 24 hours to consider the offer and there being no opportunity to negotiate the terms of the deal.”

link: Yahoo rejects new break-up offer

It is not a small coincidence that many of these offers happen on the weekend. It is a tactic to place Yahoo under relentless pressure. The timing is deliberate. There is constant stress on Yahoo to consider offers and deal with the media interest.

Obviously, this is not Microsoft’s last attempt. The “so-called” last offer came previously, followed by many other attempts from Microsoft. This persistent distraction must have a negative impact on the day-to-day operation of Yahoo… but, then, isn’t that the point of the Microsoft attacks?

Catherine Forsythe