How to Improve Your Smartphone Camera

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Today’s Vlog: Something to Kawaii About (Vlog 1526)
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RIP Karen Kenworthy and Her Contribution to the Technology Field

I never met Karen Kenworthy in person, yet she was a part of my extended Internet family. I first learned of Karen when she was writing for the old and now defunct website, which was previously a part of Windows Magazine. The publication also introduced me to Fred Langa, who was also a member of the writing staff and worked with Karen.

After and Windows Magazine ceased to exist, Karen went on her own and developed her ‘Karen Ware’, aka ‘Karen’s Power Tools’, which became very popular with the technology guru crowd. Her tools were simple to use, yet were powerful in what they accomplished on our Windows systems.
In an age before disk imaging software, I used and relied on Karen’s Replicator software which was written and programmed by Karen herself. The software was a free download and performed automatic backups of files, directories or even an entire hard disk to your network or other selected device or drive. Karen’s Replicator had plenty of options available including scheduling of backups from a few minutes or as lone as a few months. You could also set the software program to copy only files that changed, which made the backup of files, directories and folders even faster.

I used her other programs over the years as well and found that all of them that I used performed well and without issue. Her Calculator program was ahead of its time and could do thousands of digits at a time. Her calculator was also accurate and did not round off numbers to approximate answer.

Karen was in ill health and she suffered from diabetes. She was unable to write her newsletter for about a year prior to her passing. She left this world, in her sleep, on April 12, 2011 at the age of 59 years.

My condolences to her family and for the loss we all feel.


There should be an image here!Have you ever wanted to start your own email newsletter? Email may feel a little old-fashioned these days, but the truth is that it’s still a great delivery mechanism for specific types of content. For many of us, some of the more familiar newsletter services that are available are far too complicated for our simple needs. If you just want to send messages to a group of people and want to use something that’s the next step up from email, then you really can’t go wrong with TinyLetter.

This is about as easy as it gets, folks. With TinyLetter, you can create a free newsletter or require people to pay a monthly price that you specify so that they can access your content. People can subscribe to your newsletter using your unique URL or a form that can be embedded on your site. Writing an issue of your newsletter is as easy as writing an email, and you can also see your old newsletters, check out your subscribers, and read your replies. Now you’ll just have to find people who are interested in what you have to say.

Easy To Understand Investment Information And It Is Free

I must admit I am not that familiar with the ins and outs of investment, so I needed some help when it came to an IRA question I had. I wanted to know if I could invest in gold or silver as part of an IRA. I found a website called Investopedia that not only provided the information I was looking for, but also offers many other features that I also found useful.

The dictionary provides an explanation of terms that you may need to be explained in simple terms when dealing with certain investments. There is also a term for the day feature as well as a free investment newsletter. Again, I am not a big investor into anything that is a gamble, especially after the current collapse of many bubbles during the past few years.

But I did learn that you can invest in gold or silver as part of an IRA. The limitations are that you must use a brokerage house to store what you buy and can not hold the coins or bullion on your own. This is expensive since a book keeping fee of $250 a year is usually required to be paid. So unless you have a large amount in your IRA to convert over, this might not be advantageous. Of course there is always the chance that gold and silver prices could fall and you may lose money. :-(

What web sites do you frequent to stay on top of your investments? Let us know.

Comments welcome.

Investopedia web site is here’s Newsletter

There should be an image here!Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief of the PC Magazine Network, brings you this twice-weekly roundup of the latest top tech stories, the best new product reviews, plus special offers from Ziff Davis and its partners.’s Newsletter brings you reliable, timely information that helps you buy smarter, make better decisions, be more productive, save money, stay on top of the business of technology — and technology in business — and get more out of the Web.

Get your free subscription to’s Newsletter today!

Lockergnome has joined forces with to offer you a new, exciting, and entirely free professional resource. Visit us today to browse our selection of complimentary IT-related magazines, white papers, webinars, podcasts, and more across 34 industry sectors. No credit cards, coupons, or promo codes required. Try it today!

Windows Secrets Combines With ‘Gizmo’ Richards

If you haven’t kept up with Windows Secrets for awhile, you may not have been notified that Ian ‘Gizmo’ Richards, who produced his Support Alert newsletter, are combining. I personally dropped my subscription to Windows Secret last year, since I no longer found it useful. This was at about the same time that Fred Langa and his Langalist also joined Windows Secret. I had been receiving Ian’s newsletter in the interium.

I enjoyed Ian’s writings and felt that ‘Gizmo’ was a great source of reliable information. I also enjoyed his great web site in which I have found reviews of free software which have always been reviewed fairly and to the point. You can take a look here. The site is described as:

“A kind of Wikipedia® for Freeware”

There are a lot of great freeware products out there. Many are as good as or better than their commercial alternatives.  But with so many great free products how do you find the best?

That’s what we do at this site: in each program class we select the “best of the best.”

This is a community based site with over 60 volunteer editors. If you disagree with the editors’ choices please add your suggestions for the benefit of others.   

But I am now wondering if the ‘Gizmo’ web site will still be available. There was nothing in the announcement to indicate that the site would not remain.

Now, before you get the rope, I just want to say I have absolutely nothing against Windows Secret nor any of its staff.  I am just mourning the loss of the Langalist and now Support Alert.

Comments welcome.


Fred Langa Has Been Found – Please Say Hi

Back in December, 2006 I wrote a piece about missing Fred Langa and his Langalist newsletter [here]. I have received many comments to the article, including this one from a reader by the name of Dan:

Hi all,

In case you haven’t seen it – Fred has a new blog. There’s not much computer related there – it seems that he truly was burnt out and needed to reboot his life. Can’t blame him, although I do still miss the LangaList. He provides a link to a very long but worthwhile read on his motorcycle journey across the country. At the beginning, he mentions some personal life struggles (wife divorced him) and talks about how he sold his business to Brian Livingston (without mentioning him by name).


Motorcycle trip diary:

I had a feeling that something crashed Fred’s personal life. His departure was too quick and sudden. Also his disappearing off the face of the planet is now understandable.  For those of us who cherished Fred’s great newsletter the Langalist, you may wish to stop by and say hi to Fred. I’m will after I post this.

Comments welcome.

PS Thanks Dan for the links. I know all of use will appreciate finding Fred once again.


Comodo 3 Revisted Once Again

Well I got Scot’s Newsletter Blog on Sunday afternoon, and I noted that Scot once again is visiting the Comodo firewall software. You may recall that last month there was a minor confrontation between Scot and the folks at Comodo in which some lively discussions ensued. But in the end, it may appear that the winners of this ……. eh……… debate, may be us consumers. Not only is Scot once again discussing the merits of the Comodo firewall, along with a new and improved version of Online Amour, but is even using the words “excellent product” when describing Comodo.

That is a huge switch from last month. But it also shows what I have already known. Scot is a fair person and his personal evaluations of products are and have been unbiased. Like myself, he doesn’t take any ‘payola’ like some on the internet to recommend a POS just to make a buck. His concern is how well or not so well a product works. That is the bottom line as it should be.

With this in mine, I’m going to give Comodo 3 another go. I have had to uninstall Sunbelt’s [aka Kerio] Personal Firewall after being unable to play some videos online. After some ponding on the software, I still wasn’t able to even watch weather videos at AccuWeather. Off it went. It is either me, my system or maybe firewall software in general, but I personally have had very bad behavior with just about every firewall I have tried. The exception is the built-in firewall of XP & Vista and also the old version of Sygate Personal Firewall which as of now remains my overall favorite. Yeah I know it’s old and hasn’t been updated. But it doesn’t mess with my system like some others have.

Back to tying Comodo 3 once again. They have a new and improved flavor which corrects the terminology during installation making it more user friendly. We will see what happens. Finger crossed.

Comments welcome.

Scot’s newsletter is here.

[tags]scots, newsletter, comodo, online armour, reviews, testing, procedures, review, software, problems, firewall, [/tags]

Comodo Firewall Revisited

At this month’s newsletter over at Scot Finnie’s site, he addressed concerns about the Comodo firewall that were expressed by some of his readers. Scot was also kind enough to provide a link to an article I did in December of last year after trying Comodo. In that article I was disappointed with the performance of Comodo and subsequently uninstalled the software. But this current issue by Scot stated that the newer version of Comodo version 2.4 was vastly improved.

Scot also mentioned that Comodo was in the process of also releasing version 3.0. He states:

Comodo 3.0 Is Close

I got an email from a Comodo marketing VP letting me know that Comodo 3 is about six weeks away from release. I don’t have much detail on the product, but some of the product features are listed on this Comodo Forums post.

The most notable changes are Windows Vista support (both 32 bit and 64 bit) and a host-intrusion-prevention system (HIPS) module — both of which should be welcome additions.

Reminder: This evaluation focuses on software firewalls for Windows XP SP2. More and more software firewalls are being updated to support Vista, but at the time that I started this work, not enough of them supported Vista to make that a useful endeavor.

So with this in mind, I have downloaded and installed Comodo firewall 2.4 on my own personal system. I will be trying it for at least a month before reporting on my experiences. Or, it could be sooner if I run into problems. Hopefully this will not be the case.

Comments welcome.

Scot’s July newsletter here.

[tags]comodo, firewall, test, scot finnie, newsletter[/tags]

Scot Finnie – June Newsletter – Mac VS PC Analysis

In his June Newsletter Scot Finnie has a very good article on his opinion of the Mac vs PC, and as he states in his opinion, he is in a good position to compare both systems. As I had previously mentioned, Scot has made the switch to a Mac after years of using and writing about a PC. Yes, it was a shock at first reading about his changing over, but I have always respected his reasoning for doing so. In his June newsletter he stated:

The debate about whether — or not — Macs are more expensive than PCs has been raging on the Internet for more than a decade. There are some hard realities about the discussion, and there are also some myths. As a longtime Windows guy who has recently migrated to the Mac, I think I’m in a good position to put this discussion into honest context.

For all those people who have ever bought Packard Bell or eMachines PCs — and who continue to believe that great value in a Windows computer is any model that sells for $600 or less — I agree: Apple doesn’t have an answer for you. In fact, I suggest you skip this article entirely. You’re not going to find anything of interest.

So I stopped reading immediately as per the instructions. My personal opinion is this. Most of us, that being anything over 51% of the population, do not need a $3k machine or higher. Those systems are designed for the real people who actually use their computers for real work. :-) Most people use their computers for checking their email, surfing the web, playing solitaire and writing an occasional letter or two if forced into it.

I always like to compare cars to computers. We have all owned that old vehicle that has nickled us to death. We dumped it not because we wanted to, but because it was not economically wise to keep pumping bucks into the old machine. Same with old computer systems. It is just not a wise decision to sometimes do a costly repairs such as a mobo or cpu replacement when new systems are so inexpensive.

Taking this philosophy one step further, and using the cars vs computers comparison, I can make a case between buying a Mercedes vs a Lexus. I am sure if I worked real hard and added every feature onto the Lexus that I could get the pricing equal or near equal to a Mercedes, than conclude that the Mercedes is a better deal. But the fact remains that the majority of the people do not drive either vehicle, and that there are more sub-$30k vehicles on the roads than the high enders.

Conclusion: The Mac will remain a specialty item as long as Apple is satisfied with a 5% market share. Which I personally believe is just fine. If Mercedes came out with a sub-$20k car to compete against Toyota, Honda or whoever, they would lose their mystic and cheapen their product line. Apple should remain a niche market product that caters to the computer aficionado’s and not us PC peasants. LOL

Besides, us PC users like a road filled with pain and discomfort!

Comments welcome.

Scots newsletter here.

[tags]newsletter, scot finnie, mac, pc, analysis, [/tags]

Google – Links – I've Never Seen Before – And Maybe Don't Want To Again!

I got a email last night from a friend of mine in Georgia. He noted that I have posted a lot of information on my website concerning Google. He stated I might be interested in taking a look at some other Google sites that normally are not posted.

Sure, why not. How secret could this stuff be? Well it’s not earth shattering but it is different and hopefully interesting to those who read my articles. So here are some Google pages to stop by at:

Google has a newsletter called Google Friends Newsletter. You can sign up for free issues sent right to your email account if you wish. Google Friends Newsletter

They also have listed archives of their previous newsletters. And my friend was correct. I was not aware that Google produced a newsletter.

Have a domain parked somewhere on the Internet? You can have Google Ads displayed while the page is sitting idle. This is kind of a unique offering, also one that I was not aware of. Google Domain.

One of the features of Google Search is that it offers stock information right from the search engine, by merely typing in the stock symbol. This link explains how. Get Google Stock Quotes I don’t think the second one is working. :-(

And last but not least, everything you really wanted to know about Google but was afraid to ask. Google Sets. If you see a use for this, congratulations. Maybe you can leave me a comment and explain it to me. :-)

No offense to anyone, but I didn’t bookmark any of these links, but I did sign up for the Google newsletter.

[tags]google, newsletter, stock, domain, set, [/tags]

Chris Prillio Is Back! New Newsletter Response Is 'Awesome'

Back in 1996 I started reading Chris’s newsletters and there wasn’t one issue that I didn’t say to myself ‘I didn’t know that.’

And I have watched over the years as Chris has expanded his empire and has become a celebrity in the technology industry. But I think Chris does the best job of describing himself as “Geek, Internet Entrepreneur, Hardware Addict, Software Junkie, Book Author, Once TV Show Host, Technology Enthusiast, Shameless Self-Promoter, Tech Conference Coordinator, Early Adopter, Idea Evangelist, Tech Support Blogger, Bootstrapper, Media Personality, Technology Consultant, Thicker Quicker Picker Upper.”

So it gives me great pleasure to announce that Chris has once again started a daily text email which he calls ‘Prillio’s Picks” and which he has started distributing this week. Chris is compiling an assostment of links to articles which will offer something for everyone plus it’s Free for the asking.

To sign up go here: [email protected]

You won’t be disappointed. :-)

[tags]chris prillio, lockergnome, newsletter, picks, signup[/tags]

I Started A Little Newsletter

A strange thing happened this week in communicating with my senior clients. I suppose it all started with the various issues arising from Time Warner that I mentioned in a couple of previous columns. Rather than discuss those problems with everyone on my client list and repeat myself several times, I started a little newsletter. The concept is simple and a bit retro. I wrote a two-page newsy letter featuring things of local interest to seniors who use computers and sent it to my client list via classical email. No blogging software or fancy Web site. It was just a simple letter.

Since everyone on the initial distribution knows me and has been briefed on how to access various other sources (including this series on Lockergnome), I did not expect to stir up much additional interest. Then I started to get requests to be included on the subscription list. The inaugural issue must have hit a nerve with locals because I got back more requests to be included in the distribution than what I sent out originally, and to date I have not received a single “No thank you, please unsubscribe me.”

So what is going on? I know from having talked to many of the clients that they do not read this column or regularly go to and related support groups. Why should they take an interest in an unsolicited posting? What made this simple letter attractive beyond what I had expected?

The information in my newsletter is limited and biased toward local issues. Although I intended it primarily for seniors, it is suitable for any computer user. The main difference between it and typical spam is that it was sent to a limited list of potential subscribers, all of whom have a previous relation with me in the real world.

That previous relation seems to be the clue. My senior clients prefer interacting with real people. Getting a newsletter from someone they know and have worked with is vastly different from logging on to a general site. The general site might have more information and be better organized, but it is not as good for their purposes for the simple reason that they don’t feel as comfortable doing it as reading an email from someone they know.

Another factor might be in play, but I don’t now how to evaluate it. Although my newsletter is laid out in a simple format, it does have a picture, title, and topic headings. It looks quasi-official. It looks like a real newsletter. Maybe getting an official newsletter from someone they know personally makes them feel like insiders and special. That is pure speculation on my part.

Since all this is quite new, I don’t have any recommendations to make for potential tutors who might want to start a local newsletter as a way of increasing business. It might work. It probably will work. Would it work for other tutors? The answer is that it depends. If you can sit down and quickly write something that others will want to read, then you have a chance. If writing is painful and takes a lot of time, then maybe you should look for other avenues.

Even under the best conditions, to make it work, I think one needs to find topics that resonate with the local clientele. I happened to start my newsletter in response to a local event that was important to my clients. That fortuitous timing gave me an unexpected jump start in growing the subscription list. The test will come as I distribute more issues. Will they stay with me or move on to other things?

In a way, I hope they will move on because that will be a sure sign that they have grown in confidence and capability. Either way, it has been interesting so far. I’ve got to go now. Two more people just asked to be put on the subscription list…

Click here to read about my new tutorial on helping seniors. The new version has grown considerably over the original. It has more topics and anecdotes, and fewer typos. While you’re at it, check out my expanded tutorial on decision theory.

[tags]sherman deforest, newsletter, local interest, senior learning, senior computing, tutor, communication[/tags]

A Windows Secrets Secret

Okay, so big news in the newsletter world, folks. Langa is merging with Livingston for a publishing powerhouse. I got the skinny straight from Brian’s digital mouth on Sunday:

I know you must be busy with a million things surrounding your move. But I hope you have time for a “leak” that I’d like you to share with your readers.

Fred Langa’s newsletter is merging with mine – and he’s going to be the new editor and I’m becoming editorial director.

Fred’s announcing it in his newsletter on Monday, but I don’t have an announcement of my own going out until Tuesday at the earliest. Our circulation is going from about 140,000 each to a combined total (after eliminating duplication) of 272,483. PC World’s Scott Dunn will be a new contributing editor, too.

I asked for details, of course! Brian replied:

Around June of this year, Fred stated in a LangaList issue that he was going to suspend publication for 6 to 8 weeks. I knew from being friends with Fred and visiting him and his wife at his house in New Hampshire a couple of years ago that Fred was running the LangaList all by himself. When I visited, his wife expressed amazement that I was publishing the Windows Secrets Newsletter only twice a month, yet was assisted by two full-time employees. Fred had no one, but was publishing eight times a month with roughly the same size circulation.

I deduced from the hiatus that Fred was becoming overloaded with the effort to both write and produce his newsletter. I called him up and the outline of what we wanted to do become clear fairly quickly. Fred had been moving subscribers from his free list to his paid list by hand, in addition to processing unsubscribes and changes of format preferences manually. The server, by contrast, is programmed to handle unsubs, changes of address, and every other kind of reader preference with no human intervention at all.

By combining the two newsletters into a single title, Fred can continue to write his great Windows tips and not have to worry about readers getting their customer support needs taken care of. I’m very big on customer service and we try to answer every e-mail the same day, although some problems (such as credit card issues) take a couple of days to research. It’s very much worth it to me to pay good people (Vickie Stevens as research director and Brent Scheffler as program director) to cope with readers’ questions and develop systems so readers’ wishes can be met without e-mailing us, whenever possible.

The LangaList switched this year to publication six times a month instead of eight. Meanwhile, the Windows Secrets Newsletter has been published only twice a month. So our plan is to shift WSN to weekly publication, starting Nov. 16. We come out on Thursdays, in order to write everything we know about Patch Tuesday only two days later. (Also, you may have noticed that Microsoft has started a “Patch Tuesday and a half” by sometimes issuing out-of-cycle patches and/or reissuing some flawed patches two weeks after Patch Tuesday.) We won’t be able to publish on Thanksgiving or during the Christmas/New Year’s period, but after that we foresee publishing four times a month — the 1st through 4th Thursdays — with occasional “news updates” so Fred’s readers are getting approximately the same number of issues as before. I plan to advertise in Craigslist next week for a full-time copy editor/managing editor to facilitate doubling the number of issues we publish each month.

Dude. Windows Secrets has always been awesome, but now it’s doubly awesome! Triply awesome if you consider that Woody Leonhard is also aboard. It really puts Lockergnome to shame – and in a very good way.

[tags]windows, newsletter, tips, tricks, secrets[/tags]