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CursorFX 2.01 – Change Your Windows Cursors

Just wanted to give an update that CursorFX 2.01 was released today. 

CursorFX is an application that lets users easily change their Windows cursors to one of thousands available for download. These can range from simple mouse cursors, to cursors with very detailed graphics and animations. CursorFX also includes a powerful, yet easy to use, editor in which you can create your own cursors which you can use on your own, or share with others.

What’s new in version 2.01:

  • Sounds on mouse event embeddable into themes
  • New Ghost Trail effect
  • Main User Interface updated
  • Theme Editor UI updated

Free and Plus versions available at www.cursorfx.com.

CursorFX 2.01

Google Offers The Latest News in TV, Print & Audio Ads

Google’s latest offering is called ‘Let’s Take It Off Line’ blog which is going to include the latest news from TV, Print and Audio Ads from their product team. The blog will keep you up to date on the latest happenings and there are feeds available if you wish to stay on top of what is going on. According to the blog, it states:

Welcome to the new Google Traditional Media blog! The recent launch of
our traditional media advertising platforms enables you to advertise on
TV, radio, or in newspapers.
We’ve created this blog as a place for you to turn for the latest in
feature launches and tips to help you run effective traditional media

We’ll also share recent industry findings, which we
think will be interesting and useful for both individuals who are new
to TV, print, and radio, as well as those of you who have been using
those mediums for a while. Additionally, we’ll give you a glimpse into
the life of our team here at Google, so you can learn more about who we
are and what we do.

These types of Google blogs which are specific to certain topic are usually a great source of information. At the same time you can explorer what options Google may have in the future.

Comments welcome.


Google Tracks the Tour de France

There seems very little interest in North America for the Tour de France. Since Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, the Tour de France has very little mention in the American sports pages and sport sites.

However, if you follow cycling and want to keep up with the Tour de France, Google is tracking the event:

“…Google has released street-level images of the Tour de France 2008 route as part of its Street View feature, giving followers of one of the world’s greatest sporting events the opportunity to see the same scenery as their favourite cyclists.”

link: Google launches virtual Tour de France map

There is just an enormous contrast between coverage of this sporting event. In North America, most sports fans would be hard pressed to name even one participant in this year Tour de France. Meanwhile, in Europe, these athletes are national sports heroes and international celebrities. Kudos to Google for focusing on this international event.

Catherine Forsythe

Microsoft Targets Yahoo’s Jerry Yang

The on-again off-again on-again acquisition of Yahoo by Microsoft took a decidedly hostile turn. Microsoft has set conditions that include having the Yahoo board of director’s tossed:

“Microsoft set the stage for a full-blown battle to overthrow Yahoo’s board of directors on Monday when it declared it was interested in reopening talks to buy all or part of the internet company – but only if a new board was appointed first.

The intervention, less than a month before Yahoo’s annual meeting, gives backing to the flagging efforts of activist investor Carl Icahn to unseat Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s chief executive, and the rest of the board that failed to reach agreement on Microsoft’s earlier takeover offer.”

link: Microsoft steps up battle over Yahoo board

It seems that one of the prime targets of this condition is Jerry Yang, the co-founder and CEO of Yahoo. Microsoft seems to want to eliminate Jerry Yang from future negotiations. No one has a greater personal and professional interest in Yahoo success than Jerry Yang.

This latest Microsoft condition effectively nullifies any spirit of co-operation. It is questionable whether eliminating Jerry Yang from the process and the guidance of the company is in the long term best interest of Yahoo, whether it is acquired by Microsoft or not. One can’t help but wonder if this latest gambit is motivated by ego on Microsoft’s part. Microsoft was not successful in its preliminary efforts to take over Yahoo. Now it seems that this extends further than business. It has become personal and acrimonious.

Catherine Forsythe

Vista’s Security Center

One of the first things you should do after installing Vista is establish a baseline of security for your system. This means making a few configuration changes to make your system more secure. Vista makes this easy to accomplish with the Security Center. The Security Center offers a central location for verifying and configuring essential security options.

The Security Center in Vista lets you view the current security status of your computer and access important security settings. When you first open the Security Center you will immediately notice the four main security essentials: Firewall, Automatic Updating, Malware Protection, and Other Security Settings.

The Firewall component protects your computer from attackers when connected to a network. The Security Center will tell you whether or not the Firewall is enabled and provide you with access to firewall settings. You can quickly access firewall settings by selecting Windows Firewall. The Windows Firewall window will open where you can enable/disable the firewall and create exceptions for programs and services.

Automatic Updates protects your computer by installing security and other updates as they become available. The Security Center will indicate whether or not Automatic Updates settings have been configured on the computer. You can select Windows Update to access the related settings. From here you can manually check for updates and change the settings.

Malware protection includes Windows Defender and anti-virus software. The Security Center will indicate if there is anti-virus software installed on the computer and whether Windows Defender is out of date. You can manually check for new definitions by selecting the Windows Defender link within the Security Center.

Internet Explorer has specific security settings designed to protect your computer. You will notice that these settings are also quickly accessible through the Security Center by selecting the Internet Options link.

Finally, you can change the way that the Security Center alerts you when it detects that your computer may be at risk. It is a good idea to keep the alerts on so you know immediately when your computer may be at risk.

Browser Risks: Not Updating

It is not a difficult security measure and it takes only a few minutes. However, an astonishing number of people online do not update their browser:

“Almost half the online population is at risk because users have not installed security updates to their browsers, says a study.

The Swiss Institute of Technology, Google and IBM conducted the study and found 600 million users had not updated their browsers.”

link: Online risk due to browser flaws

Not patching is not only a security risk for oneself. It aids hackers in propagating security issues onto others online. It is just irresponsible behaviour which just gives hackers the advantage by a staggering number.

Catherine Forsythe

McDonald’s Endorses Homosexual Agenda

McDonald’s Restaurants have chosen to refuse a request by American Family Association to remove their name and logo from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Web Site that lists McDonald’s as a “Corporate Partner and Organization Ally”. The corporation also refused to remove its endorsement of NGLCC by Richard Ellis, Vice President of Communications for McDonalds USA, from the NGLCC Web Site.

After refusing both requests McDonald’s donated $20,000 to NGLCC in exchange for membership in the NGLCC and a seat on the group’s board of directors. This board lobbies Congress on homosexual issues including homosexual marriage. McDonald’s stand comes down to what their CEO has stated in the past that McDonald’s will promote any social issues that they choose and do so aggressively. He went on to state that McDonald’s will use their size and resources to make a difference in the world. Does that mean that their goal is to eradicate the traditional family?

For some this support by a major corporation affirms their belief that this behavior is within the acceptable norms of our society. For others it is another indication that our society is setting itself to once again be judged by the Almighty as Sodom and Gomorrah was judged during Bible days when homosexuality was rampant.

For those of you who follow the latter belief the AFA is calling for a boycott of McDonald’s restaurant until they take a neutral stand on the issue. The boycott is not about not hiring homosexual employees, serving homosexual patrons, or treating homosexual employees fairly. It is about respecting the rights of all American’s and not flaunting one segment of society over another.

In the case of the former I question their need to flaunt their actions in the face of others who do not accept this lifestyle for themselves. I do not ask for special treatment because I am heterosexual. I do not ask for corporate sponsorship so that everyone will know my sexual preference. It is a private issue between myself and my partner. I guess overall I am too busy just trying to pay bills, do some good for others, and keep my family’s needs cared for to think that this issue would matter to anyone else.

So overall, I guess I feel that it is wrong for McDonald’s restaurants to throw themselves wholeheartedly behind promoting the homosexual agenda especially since Richard Ellis of McDonald’s is openly homosexual and sits on the NGLCC Board of Directors. If Mr. Ellis has a personal agenda then he should not be allowed to speak for a National Corporation that services traditional American families.

Big Sur, CA Arrest Made For Setting Backfires

In a interesting twist, a brother in Big Sur, CA. has been arrested for setting back fires to save his families home. Picture this. Two brothers are watching helplessly as fire approaches from two sides. There are no firefighters available since they are already busy fighting other blazes. You must remember that there were some 1100 fires already burning in California. [The number of fires reported depends on which news agency was reporting at the time].

You have two choices. Do nothing or take matters into your own hands. This is what the two brothers did. They started backfires which worked and not only saved their home, but also the homes of others in the area. According to this LA times article which states:

Outraged authorities arrested Ross Curtis, 48, on Friday on suspicion of illegally setting a backfire after disobeying official orders to stop.

His older brother, Micah, remains in Big Sur but is acting like a wanted man, dodging sheriff’s deputies when he descends from the homestead to Highway 1.

“I understand what’s going on. They don’t want a bunch of idiots setting off fires that could do more harm than good,” Micah Curtis, a 57-year-old artist, said as he walked the scene of the crime Saturday. “But we saved our homes. I’m not asking them to condone it, but they’ve got to understand it.”

As fires approach, homeowners often take up garden hoses to face down flames. But for them to light backfires is rare, authorities say — and they’d like it to stay that way.

Cliff Williams, the law enforcement official with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection who arrested Ross Curtis, said fire crews went to the ridge several times and ordered a stop.

Instead, the brothers kept up their rebel battle.

“Mr. Curtis over a period of three days decided he wanted to fight the fire his way,” Williams said. “So he started setting backfires.”

And that tricky firefighting technique, Williams said, is best left to professionals backed up by full crews and fire engines. Such fires can blow out of control, he said, burning other houses or inadvertently trapping people.

The brothers, who live with relatives and several tenants in a terraced collection of artsy, redwood-sided homes, including one fashioned from an old water tank, say they knew there were risks but believed there was too much at stake not to take action.

One can see both sides to this issue. Setting back fires can be extremely dangerous.  However, there are always exceptions to the rule. In this case an exception should be made. It is apparent that Arnie and his fire people were overwhelmed and were not able to respond to every fire situation in a timely manner.

But what do you think? Should these brothers be prosecuted? Would a jury find them guilty or not? Is it just a waste of the courts time?

Comments welcome.


Google Gmail Remote Sign Out To Protect Your Account

Google has added a new feature to their Gmail services which allows users to remotely sign out and/or monitor their account activity. This feature will be most useful for those of you who use Gmail from different computers to check your mail . According to the Google article you will be able to monitor on which computer an active account remains open right through your account from any system. This is what Google says:

Your email account can contain a lot of personal information, from bank alerts to love letters. Email that, I’m sure, you don’t always want other people to see. We understand how important your Gmail accounts are to you, so we’re adding a new layer of information and control. With this new feature, you can now track your recent sessions and you can also sign yourself out remotely.

If you are anything like me, you probably sign in to Gmail from multiple computers. I, for example, occasionally sign into my Gmail account from a friend’s house when I need to check an important email. Usually I remember to sign out, but every once in a while I wonder if I really did. Now I no longer have to wonder.

At the bottom of your inbox, you’ll see information about the time of the last activity on your account and whether it’s still open in another location:

Using the above example, a quick glance at the footer while I’m at work shows that my account is indeed open in one other location. But I recognize the IP address – it’s my computer at home. Turns out I left my Gmail account open when I left home in a hurry this morning.

Your IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is a number associated with your computer when you connect to the Internet. Some of you might want to know your IP address numbers (more info on finding out your IP address below) for an extra layer of control. For others who don’t want to think about IP information, you don’t need to.

This is just one more handy Gmail feature that can assist users in keeping their information protected. You may also notice if you check your Gmail account that this information may not be present. It will only appear when one or more accounts are left open on different systems.

What do you think of this new feature? Will it be useful for you?

Comments welcome.


Will Texas Oilman T. Boone Pickens Be Able To Kick Start Our Nation?

Every since I sat in those long lines back during the oil embargo, I knew there would be a time when our nation would be facing an oil crisis. A crisis that would kick us right in the butt. A crisis that if we don’t start to respond soon will either put is into a depression or force us into a war. War?  That’s right. If our nation faces economic extinction I have no doubt that we will take the oil by force.

Now along comes Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens who is about to start kicking some rear ends in Washington. A kick that is desparately needed. You see we have completely ignored our situation spending some $700  Billion a year to import oil. There is little doubt in my mind that spending this much to fuel our economy is eventually going to bankrupt us. So what does Mr. Pickens propose?

Well according to this USA Today article it states:

Today, Pickens will take the wraps off what he’s calling the Pickens Plan for cutting the USA’s demand for foreign oil by more than a third in less than a decade. To promote it, he is bankrolling what his aides say will be the biggest public policy ad campaign ever. The website, www.pickensplan.com, goes live today.

Jay Rosser, Pickens’ ever-present public relations man, promises that Pickens’ face will be seen on Americans’ televisions this fall almost as frequently as John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s.

“Neither presidential candidate is talking about solving the oil problem. So we’re going to make ’em talk about it,” Pickens says.

“Nixon said in 1970 that we were importing 20% of our oil and that by 1980 it would be 0%. That didn’t happen,” Pickens says. “It went to 42% in 1991 with the Gulf War. It’s just under 70% now. Where do you think we’re going to be in 10 years when our economy is busted and we’re importing 80% of our oil?”

Finding solutions to other major issues, including health care, are important, he concedes. But “If you don’t solve the energy problem, it’s going to break us before we even get to solving health care and some of these other important issues.” And it has to be done with the same sense of urgency that President Eisenhower had when he pushed the rapid development of the interstate highway system during the Cold War.

Of course, Pickens also has a particular solution in mind.

Wind. And natural gas.

Getting lots more electricity with wind is only half of the Pickens Plan. Increasing wind-power production by itself won’t reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil because most of that oil is consumed as gasoline.

The key, Pickens says, is that wind energy can be used as a substitute for natural gas now burned to generate electricity. That, in turn, will make far more natural gas available for use as a transportation fuel. Pickens’ plan is to produce enough wind power within 10 years to divert 20% of the natural gas now used to fuel power plants for use in cars and trucks. That’s much more aggressive a growth plan for the development of wind energy than envisioned by the Depart of Energy, which doesn’t expect the USA to be getting 20% of its total energy needs from wind until at least 2030.

Pickens foresees as many as a third of the vehicles running on natural gas within only a few years. Julius Pretterebner, director of the Global Oil Group at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, says getting 15% to 20% of the USA’s cars to run on natural gas — in some cases, in mixtures with other fuels in dual-fuel vehicles — by 2020 would be an outstanding achievement, and doing that will require federal support to expand the necessary infrastructure.

I saw the first of Mr Pickens ads this morning on CNN. Hopefully his other ads which will start appearing soon and will in fact get all of us, including the presidential candidates, talking and addressing this problem. It is time to wake up America. If we don’t put pressure on our political candidates and those already in Congress, these yahoo’s will not take any action on their own.

But what do you think? Is it time for America to take serious the oil crisis? Is it time for our leaders to get off their butts and start to work on a solution? Or are you just tickle pink with the way we are heading?

Comments welcome.