How To Customize Wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter Edition – How-To Geek

I know I’m not alone in this. I bought a great netbook that came with Windows 7 Starter. I added RAM and set the Visualization Properties to maximize performance. The little guy flies, but I’m stuck with a non-descript blue background. Looked all over for a reliable, simple and safe way to change the wallpaper.

Voila. Found it here:
How To Customize Wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter Edition – How-To Geek

Works like a charm and, as a bonus, personalizes colors, sounds, and screensavers too.

Go for it!

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Traveling Light: Outlet Strip with USB Ports

You’re off to Duluth, taking your notebook (or netbook), smartphone, Bluetooth adapter, digital camera and GPS navigator.  Fortunately, all your gear is relatively new – smaller and lighter than what you schlepped around a few years ago.

But you’ve still got a bagful of adapters to charge all that lightweight gear.  And an outlet strip to power the adapters.

But gear just got lighter thanks to the Belkin Mini Surge Protector Dual USB Charger sold in office supply and electronic stores for $10 to $25.  I got mine from onSale, an Amazon partner, for $9.89.

This space and weight-saver has 3 surge-protected AC outlets and 2 USB ports, and has a rotating plug, so it fits into almost any available outlet.

Since most newer electronic gear can be charged from a USB port, the only adapter I need to carry now is the one for the computer (which provides another USB charging port).

Thanks Belkin.  Good product!

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Build Your Own Social Network with Ning

Social networking is big.  So big that everyone’s jumping in.  Or trying to.  But Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn just don’t fit with every organization’s means, methods, and mission.  In fact, for many the fit is downright awful. While every organization is composed of people, most aren’t about sharing highly personal information, playing games (and pranks), and testing ego boundaries.  That’s where Ning comes in.

ning-logo Ning at www.ning.com is a lot like a Facebook community you build from scratch to suit your business or group.  Highly customizable in appearance, function and applications, it can include forums, groups, chat, polls, photos, blogs, games, sales and marketing tools, productivity suites (Google Docs, Zoho) and widgets and gadgets galore.  Members have their own, customizable pages.  Wow!

Before I get to the rave, I’ve got to tell you this.  The basic, ad-supported version (unobtrusive right column tower ad) is free.  Premium versions using your own domain name, without ads, with more space and bandwidth are available at modest cost.  The price is definitely right.

But the two things that make me love Ning are (a) the ease of customizing from appearance to layout to adding and configuring features to privacy, and (b) the speed.  Ning beats every other social networking community hands down for speed of loading and updating.  This is a community for the impatient man (and woman).

4652374 I just set up a social networking community, Bryant Gardens Network, for the cooperative where I live, literally in less than an hour.  Anyone who can use a word processor, email and a browser can be a Ning network administrator.

It’s so much fun, you’ll probably wind up building more than one!

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SOLUTION: Windows Vista Updates for MS Office Fail if MS Office Live Add-In is Installed

In October, three Windows updates (KB973709, KB972581, KB974234) for MS Office failed repeatedly on my Vista Home Premium (32-bit) Acer laptop and on my Vista Home Premium (64-bit) Asus desktop.  They were failing for others, too, according to my fruitless research.  Everyone had suggestions, but no one had a solution.  Bad me, I hid the updates and moved on.

A few days ago, three more MS Office updates (KB973593, KB973704, KB974561) failed, too, although all updates other than those for MS Office installed without incident.

An unrelated problem for a client with MS Office and MS Office Live Add-In led me to the solution.

  • Download and Save the updates individually by KB number from www.microsoft.com/downloads
  • Uninstall Microsoft Office Live Add-in and restart your computer
  • Install each update individually from the downloaded files. I needed to restart and install KB974234 separately one the 64-bit machine.
  • Restart your machine and re-install MS Office Live Add-in

Why bother?  Because these were all Security Updates for one of the world’s most popular office suites – natural bait for malware.  And manual updating is a lot easier than dealing with a comprised installation of MS Office.

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Yahoo! Toolbar Disables Right Click in Firefox

The Yahoo! Toolbar is one of my favorite browser add-ons, providing quick access to my bookmarks, alerts, calendar, contact list, groups, and other frequently used applications.

But since the last update for the Firefox version (2.0.0.20090605061254), there’s been a glitch (not manifest when using the toolbar in Internet Explorer).  The right click context menu pops up as usual until the user right-clicks in a text or input box in a form.  Then it’s disabled until the browser is restarted.

Disabling the toolbar solves the problem, but that’s not a work-around for folks like me who depend on it.

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What Happened to Folder Preview in Mail?

Nobody likes a kvetch.  But hey Yahoo!, I’ve got complaint about the new, unimproved version of Yahoo! Mail Classic.

Yes, I’m one of those fuddy-duddies who still uses Mail Classic (Pro version) because it’s faster, more reliable, and more readable.

And because it used to show me, across the top of the page, all the folders containing unread mail.  See, I really am a fuddy-duddy.  I use filters and folders to sort incoming mail automatically.

It used to be that all I had to do was glance at the folder preview to see what needed attention.

Now I get to see my face or my Avatar (as if I didn’t know what that looked like) and I have the option to edit my Profile (as if that changed every day), or to check out my Connections (I’m not lonely; I don’t use connections).

I know, I know.  It’s all about social networking.  But this is about email.  When I want to to connect I go to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Dear Yahoo! please stop trying to be all things to all people and stop sissifying my email. Please put folder preview back in mail!

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I Lied About Twitter

Yes, Virginia I did close my original Twitter account as I said in an earlier blog post.

But, I’ve since reconsidered. I was looking at Twitter bass-akwards. It’s not about how many of your friends are there, but about how many new friends you can make.

So I’d be happy to have you join me (LouisBruno) on Twitter.

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Vonage: Switch for Savings, Stay for Service

Let me tell you a quick, true story about my phone company. I had previously dealt with them via email and their website.  But now I had a problem that needed a live person.  Frankly, after years of un-service from the likes of Verizon and AT&T, I dreaded the call.

I dialed the number for service — expecting to be shunted to a call-center in Bangladesh — and was greeted by a recording that asked me to wait a minute then put me on hold.  Bad start, right?  Wrong!  Great start!  Less than 10 seconds later, another recording said “I see you’re having trouble porting your old phone number.  Let me transfer you to someone who can help.”

Without further ado — and without endless requests to identify myself, give my mother’s maiden name, social security number, and the number I was calling from — Rick in New Jersey said “Hello,” accessed my records, and discussed the problem, incidentally not of their making.  Rick explained the problem and took responsibility for it, telling me what he’d do and what steps to take if his solution didn’t work.

Rick’s efforts solved the problem.  I never called back to thank him, so Rick, if you’re out there, a big thanks for your help.

Oh, and the name of the phone company that uses intelligent systems and intelligent service representatives?  VONAGE!

I switched to Vonage three or four months ago, porting two numbers and acquiring a third for fax service.  The “installation” couldn’t have been simpler, with custom Vonage adapters integrating easily with my existing computer network straight out of the box.  

I love the “extra” features included in the service — stuff like caller ID and call forwarding I call “extras” because I used to pay extra to have them.  With Vonage, they’re included, more extensive, and easily managed online through their website.

And the sound quality, which I can adjust from normal to higher to highest, according to how much bandwidth I can spare, beats my old POTS (plain old telephone service) hands down at all settings!

Oh yeah, and did I mention all the money I’m saving?  At Vonage you’ll switch for the savings and stay for the service!

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Do You Twitter?

I don’t.  I did.  Long enough to find out why I don’t.

As you know, I’m a business consultant providing management, real estate and technology services.  My address book, including a few dozen friends and relations, has over 500 contacts.

Tweety Twitter

Would you believe only a half-dozen real people from my address book are on Twitter?  (Chris Pirillo isn’t a real person, he’s a self-aggrandizement industry.)

One Twitterer was a relative who’d set his preferences to prevent auto-hookup of followers.  I see this syndrome on LinkedIn, too, where I maintain an active profile.  Why, exactly, would anyone join a social network to be anti-social?  I mean we’re not talking about Tom Cruise here, or the Pope.

Another was a life COACH. (He lives in CAPITALS.)  Looking for work, I guess.  Never did understand why anyone would him to think for them.

Two were legitimate people checking out Twitter.  Each sent a tweet 5 or 6 months ago.  Just one.  Never returned.  Not anal like me.  I deleted my account.

And two were just plain lonely, losers.  Clients of mine I’ve long since fired.  One of whom is still a real estate broker.  Probably still complaining about not being able to make a living at it.

Don’t look for me on Twitter.  OK?

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The White Plains Press: A New Press Release Publisher

As a website producer, I have produced some clever websites, some that are elegant, even some that are artistic. But my claim to fame is that I produce websites that work.

My promise to each new client is that the website I make for them will help their organization grow, adding business, members, and prestige. That’s a pretty tall order for a few bits and bytes in cyberspace.

Usually, “making it work” requires some marketing of the organization, often including press releases.

Until recently, I’d work up the press releases, send copies to the local newspapers, and “publish” it online using a press release service. Some of these services are nominally free — and have a spotty record of success. Others, that work consistently, have a fee schedule that depends on speed, tracking, and promised distribution, etc.

Eventually, I realized that what the press release publishing services actually do is to make sure the major search engines, particularly Google, picked up and indexed the press releases I trusted to them.

The White Plains Press: Press Release Publishing

But wait a minute. I don’t need to pay someone to do that. I can do it myself with a little care and effort. And so the White Plains Press was born.

At the Press, you’ll find press releases for local non-profits, like Bryant Gardens and the White Plains Council of Neighborhood Associations (WPCNA), for small businesses like Delmonte-Smelson Jewelers, Hudson Valley Energy Consultants (HVEC), and Balch Buyer’s Realty, for upstate companies, like Bob & Sallie Connelly who do appraisals, auctions, sell antiques, and run an art gallery, for out of state organizations, like the Biz@Net Business Networking Group, and for local chapters of the American Society of Appraisers. And that’s just in its first three weeks of operation.

Today, the White Plains Press is a useful (and successful) handmaiden to the Webshop@servenet.com. Tomorrow, well tomorrow the child could be feeding its parent.

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