Category Archives: Computer

Office Laser Printers can be Unhealthy for You


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Wirelesspacket shared with us some research he has come across, regarding Laser printers possibly causing health problems.

Four of my friends joined me for this discussion: Kat, SC_Thor, Wirelesspacket, and last but certainly not least… Datalore.

According to several studies, Laser printers can cause health problems. Certain laser printers used in offices and homes release tiny particles of toner-like material into the air that people can inhale deep into lungs where they may pose a health hazard.

Most of the printer-generated particles detected were ultrafine, and such contaminants are easily inhaled into the smallest passageways of the lungs where they could pose ‘a significant health threat.’ Previous studies have focused on emissions of volatile organic compounds, ozone, and toner particles from office printers and copiers. However, the research left broad gaps in scientific understanding of particle emissions and airborne concentrations of particles.

To keep yourself safe, make sure your printer is not right next to you on your desk, and always work in a room with plenty of ventilation.

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What is Adobe Air?


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – A few of my friends joined me on Skype last night to discuss some of today’s hot Tech topics. This video covers the release of the second beta of Adobe Air.

Four of my friends joined me for this discussion: Kat, SC_Thor, Wirelesspacket, and last but certainly not least… Datalore.

In this video, we discussed the newest beta release of Adobe Air. Adobe Integrated Runtime is a cross-OS runtime environment for building Rich Internet Applications, using Flash, Flex, HTML and Ajax, that can be deployed as a desktop application.

Users interact with AIR applications in the same way that they interact with native desktop applications. The runtime is installed once on the user’s computer, and then AIR applications are installed and run just like any other desktop application.

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What is COM Surrogate Crash Error?


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – When I used to use Vista, I would have random crashes that were related to a COM Surrogate error. What the heck? I thought I owned my computer? You mean it’s a surrogate?.

A COM Surrogate error is caused by video codec that is not Vista compatible and when Vista tries to bring up the first frame of the video file it causes the Com Surrogate .dll extension to shut down. As we’ve discussed before, a .dll is a software component that an application links to at run time.

There are a couple of solutions that I’ve found for this problem:

  • Check DivX If this program isn’t updated to the newest version, it can cause the COM Surrogate error.
  • Check Nero Again, check out what version you have. Older versions have been known to throw out this error. Always make sure you’re updated.

Now that I’m back on XP, I’ve had the same problem once. I went through and uninstalled all of the Codecs on my system, and I haven’t encountered the problem again. If you recall, a codec is a device or program capable of performing encoding and decoding on a digital data stream or signal. So that’s something else to look into.

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Scanning Documents with OCR


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – I received an email the other day from someone wondering why documents they scan into their computer rearranges the text and doesn’t retain formatting. Well user-whose-name-I-can’t-pronounce, what you’re asking about deals with OCR.

OCR, or Optical Character Recognition software allows you to scan a document and edit it. If the OCR software isn’t very good, then it probably won’t retain the layout that the original document had. You are probably using whatever software came with your all-in-one machine, and I don’t know what brand that is.

The problem is, you’re not really going to get really good OCR software unless you pay virtually hundreds of dollars. Probably the best I know of is OmniPage. OmniPage Professional 16 is the fastest and most precise way to convert high volumes of paper, PDF and forms into files you can edit and search.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any open source or cheaper software titles that are on the same level with OmniPage. Do you? If you use something that works just as well, without the price tag, I’d love to hear about it. I’m sure that user-whose-name-I-can’t-pronounce would love to hear your suggestions, as well.

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Chkdsk and Defrag


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – One of our community members recently attempted to run a defrag on his computer. During the defrag, he received a message that chkdsk wanted to run. He’s not so sure what this means, or if he should allow it.

If your computer tells you that it needs to run Chkdsk, then you definitely want to listen. A chkdsk scans your hard drive, and verifies the integrity of file and folder structures. Sometimes, it can even recover corrupt data.

When you experience a hard drive failure, it’s not always the entire HD. Often, it may be just certain sectors. In this case, the Operating System shouldn’t write to those sectors. Chkdsk is built into Windows, and it can be used to scan those sectors, and even fix them when possible.

To run a chkdsk, you need to:

  • Open My Computer
  • Right click on your hard disc (often the C: drive)
  • Choose properties
  • Click on the Tools tab
  • Under error checking, click “check now”
  • When the box pops up, check the box for “automatically fix file system errors” or “scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors”
  • Let the scan run. This can take quite awhile, depending on the size of your hard drive.

There are, of course, other shortcuts and ways to get to the chkdsk. You can get there from a command prompt, for one. What other shortcuts do you have for running a chkdsk scan on your computer? Have you ever had to use this, and did it help? Let me know!

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Rip DVDs to your iPod or PSP for Free


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Ponzi recently walked into an Apple store, and asked to buy something that would allow her to rip her DVDs to be able to watch them on her iPod. The sales guy told her to just go home and search online. So, of course, she asked yours truly what to do…

I started thinking about it, and right away knew the answer. HandBrake is open source, and multi-platform. You can use to in Windows, OS X and Linus to rip DVDs and turn them into mp4 format. This will allow you to watch your DVD content on that PSP or iPod quickly and easily.

Some may argue and say this isn’t quite “right” to do. Let me say this… when you purchased that DVD, didn’t you purchase the right to watch it? You’re not selling it. You’re not broadcasting it elsewhere. You simply want to watch a video you purchased legally on a different medium. Why is that so wrong?

I don’t think it is. And, I’m saying HandBrake is the way to go.

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Brother can you Spare a CPU Cycle?


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – A community member at large wonders what my opinion is on “E-charity”, such as [email protected] Do I think they are a passing fancy? No… I don’t. I feel this is the wave of the computing future.

[email protected] is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. When you run [email protected] on your computer, it will use part of the computer’s CPU power, disk space, and network bandwidth. You can control how much of your resources are used by [email protected], and when it uses them.

Another excellent and popular E-charity is [email protected]. Their goal is to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases. Much like [email protected], [email protected] is a distributed computing project. People from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer makes the project closer to their goals.

Yeah, I think this is an absolutey great theory, and honestly believe it’s the wave of the computing future. Just think, creating a video takes up a serious amount of hardware resources. But as “crunching” becomes more popular, you’ll be able to use any unoccupied computer on your network to do that work for you. This is what crunching is all about… making things work faster, to achieve better results.

What other E-charities are you involved in? Do you believe the work these places are doing is above excellent and the wave of the future? Leave me a comment, video or email and let me know your thoughts!

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Clear Search in IE History


Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

http://live.pirillo.com/ – I have been trying for years to get my parents to switch to Firefox. They still use IE, even though they complain about it a lot. Mom was recently wondering how to get rid of all those saved searches in IE 7.

My mom has a new blog. She does a lot of researching to find things to help her in her writing. Apparently, her search history in IE7 has gotten quite large, and she’s wanting to clean it out some.

Being me, I figured this is a simple matter. Open IE, go to Tools>Internet Options>General tab. Under browsing, click the delete button, which opens up the dialoge box. There you have options to clear cookies, cache, form data, passwords…. but no search history? What the heck?

Apparently, in order to clear that search data in the box, you have to delete all form data. This includes websites you’ve asked to save your name, usernames, etc. You know… that whole “auto complete” thing we all use to save us time. What if I don’t want to delete all that though? In that case, I can manually go through that form data, and delete things I don’t want one by one. This will, of course, take a very long time if there’s a lot there.

Well, mom… just one more reason you should be using Firefox.

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Geek Squad Problems

I’m going to keep this guy’s name anonymous (for seemingly obvious reasons):

Just saw a video from july where you talk about geek squad. Weird, it was right around that time I began looking for a new job. I currently work at Geek Squad in Baltimore, Maryland and have been there about a year and a month. I do agree with your saying it comes down to the local atmosphere of the specific store that determines what kind of service you get.

I am a bit pro-consumer (and thus a bad employee) and tend to have a “if I can fix it in 15 minutes. it’s on me” attitude. I also work with people, higher up people, who say “if the computer turns on, charge $199.” I also work with people who will sell a $299 service to a customer with a computer over 10 years old. At that point, as I’m sure you’ll agree, that customer is probably better off with a new entry level computer that starts around that same price.

I find Geek Squad to be horrible ONLY due to management. My manager hired a girl based on looks to work in geek squad. Her experience with computers? The Sims and myspace. I have a manager trying to fire people because they don’t do all the paperwork he’s created for us. It’s an atrocious company and do not expect it to last forever. Something else will come along or the services, for the most part, will become obsolete. I try and tell customers how easy it is to install windows with their restore discs. I try to tell them how easy it is to install memory. At that point it’s up to them. It’s not rare that I’ll say, “and if you have any problems just bring it back and I’ll take care of it.” Management would hate that and say that affects the stores closing rate.

Best Buy is a company that only cares about numbers. Managers get bonuses based on the stores performance. Those numbers are shoved down our throats everyday, sometimes hourly, in an effort to increase profit. We get our hours cut when we do not sell enough. Helping customers comes last. Employees come after customers as well. I was guaranteed a raise in August and I’m still waiting. My boss goes to an employee who he suspects to be gay and says “I hope all gay people burn in hell.” I have an HR claim going now and hope something comes of it. Meanwhile, I am going on interviews and keeping my fingers crossed on getting a nice entry-level IT job at a real company. Some might say Geek Squad is entry-level but no. It’s not. It’s a joke. Six foot ethernet cable, $35? $2 for the employees. The company says it’s customer-centric yet the prices are ridiculous (most noticeable on accessories). WD SATA HD? Employee discount it’s $59, just like it is on newegg.