Google Gmail – We’re Sorry – Is It Enough?

Google has posted on their blog site a ‘we’re sorry’ page stating that they [Google] ‘feel our pain’. But do they really? In their statement the search giant states that:

 Many of you had trouble accessing Gmail for a couple of hours this afternoon, and we’re really sorry. The issue was caused by a temporary outage in our contacts system that was preventing Gmail from loading properly. Everything should be back to normal by the time you read this.

We heard loud and clear today how much people care about their Gmail accounts. We followed all the emails to our support team and user group, we fielded phone calls from Google Apps customers and friends, and we saw the many Twitter posts. (We also heard from plenty of Googlers, who use Gmail for company email.) We never take for granted the commitment we’ve made to running an email service that you can count on.

 Posted by Todd Jackson, Gmail Product Manager

Well Todd I certainly hope that Google is taking this seriously. I am still feeling the sting when my Gmail account was disabled last month and the lack of support that I received. By lack of support I mean the time delay it took to get my system back up and running. It had an affect on my blogging abilities.

I’m still some what apprehensive about using Gmail as by main source of receiving alerts. I am sure that others are also feeling the pain. If Google wants to take its users seriously, how about a REAL support phone number to call? Free or not, Google owes its users more direct support when the system goes afoul.

What do you think? Should Google provide its Gmail users better support?

Comments welcome.

Source.

Surprising Recommendation About Downgrading Vista To XP

On Sunday I was reading our local newspaper, which includes a computer column, when I read this. Seems that a reader was complaining about Vista [they even used the word ‘hate’] to describe their frustration and asked about doing a downgrade to XP. Seemed like a fairly straight forward question. But the answer kind of surprised me.

The tech. person stated that if they had a XP CD they could perform a downgrade. That was it. There was no mention about the type of Windows XP needed.  Though the tech. writer explained about getting the correct drivers may be a problem and that the reader should check with the OEM to see if they were available, I felt that a very important fact was left out. The kind of XP CD that the reader needed to use.

Let me explain. I could see the reader getting the proper drivers, if available, from the OEM site. I can than see the reader wiping the hard disk and installing XP. No problem. Than loading the drivers and the system is working A-OK. Now here comes the problem. The CD the reader used is:

1. A borrowed CD from a friend, family member anyone, who already has the copy registered with Microsoft.

2. A CD that came from another OEM that was preinstalled on another system.

How would the person get the installation of XP registered with Microsoft? Legally that is.

Another worse case scenario would be that the reader, after wiping the drive clean, discovers that they failed to make backup copies of Vista, that may be needed before wiping the disk. Now the reader has a system, which they can not reload Vista nor get XP properly registered. :-(

I realize that the writer has a space limitation when writing a column. But I also believe that if you are going to properly answer the question, the tech person has an obligation to explain that a retail  full version copy of Windows XP may be needed.

What do you think? Am I being to picky? What would you recommend?

Comments welcome.

Google States Why Ad Agreement With Yahoo Is Good

Google and Yahoo have entered into an ad agreement which is under Congressional review in Washington D.C. You must understand that our Congress has nothing better to do with their time than investigate Google and Yahoo. Never mind banks going under, inflation taking off, high gas prices, homes being foreclosed upon and so forth. Congress wants to make sure that Google doesn’t become an advertising monopoly which would…….. I don’t know exactly what would happen. Though it might piss off Microsoft. :-)

So Google is trying to defend their position and wants us to know what they are trying to accomplish and how good it will be for all of us. On their blog site it states:

Because of its founding principles of openness and interoperability, the Internet is an extraordinarily competitive environment, where competition and choice are only a click away. Our advertising agreement with Yahoo! will maintain and expand that competition. Among the key points David will make today are:

  • This agreement will be good for Internet users (who will see ads that are better targeted to their interests); advertisers (whose ads will be better matched to users’ interests, allowing them to reach potential customers more efficiently), and website publishers (who will see increased revenue from better-matched ads on their websites).
  • Google and Yahoo! will remain vigorous competitors, and that competition will help fuel innovation that is good for users and the economy. As we’ve said before, commercial arrangements between competitors are commonplace in many industries. Antitrust regulators in the US have recognized that consumers can benefit form these arrangements, especially when one company has technical expertise that enables another company to improve the quality of its products.

Our agreement will not increase Google’s share of search traffic, because Yahoo will continue to run its own search engine and compete in online search.

  • We’re particularly excited that as part of the agreement, Yahoo! will make its instant messaging network interoperable with Google’s. This will mean easier and broader communication among a growing number of IM users, and enable users to choose among competing IM providers based on the merits and features of the services.
  • We have taken a number of steps in the Yahoo! agreement to protect user privacy. As Google supplies ads to Yahoo! and its partners, personally identifiable information of individual Internet users will not be shared between the companies. Yahoo! will anonymize the IP address of a searcher’s computer before passing a search request to Google.

Though I understand the need for investigating companies that wish to merge and share some of their expertise with each other, my concern is that Congress at this time should be using their energies for more pressing problems. Whether Google and Yahoo working together is good or not, it is not going to lower food nor gas prices.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source.

 

A Reader Needs Your Help With Windows Vista

As many of you know, I also write computer articles for a newspaper in California. This morning I received this message from a reader in response to an article I had done about upgrading to Windows Vista. After reading the email, I thought this would be something I could share with my readers here at LG and also seek any advice I could give Ed. He states:

Hi Ron, just read your article about Windows Vista.  I have had nothing but problems with this software since I purchased a new computer for Christmas 08.  I thought my problems with outdated computer, software, hard drives, not enough memory, etc. etc.  would be over.   I wish I had my old computer back with Windows ME on it.  

 

Microsoft should provide more help to correct these issues.   One of my friends took their computer back and returned it because of the problems.  Another friend is more patient that I am and she accepts the fact that she can’t open many programs. 

 

To compound our problems, we have a dial up network and speed is around 44Kbps.    If you try and download an update, it takes forever.  Most of the updates do not work anyway.

 

Here are some error messages. 

1.   Unable to open the project. The file may be corrupted.   I just typed it and stored it to my desktop.

2.  Adobe Reader could not open.  It is either not a supported file type or the file has been damaged.  (For example, it was sent as an e-mail attachment and wasn’t correctly decoded.)    I get this frequently from e-mails with an attachment.  How do I or the sender know how to DECODE???????  This is low profile e-mails, not a government project.  

3.  I also get phone calls from my friends who can not open a file that I have sent them as an attachment.   I have to type the whole message within my e-mail message.   Never had this problem before with ME program.

 

I researched the internet, Microsoft has a Service Pack to update Vista, BUT, there is a warning that some programs may be lost or damaged.    Service Pack would take about 6 hrs. to download.  I contacted someone in Microsoft, they can not send it to me on a disc.  No help.  

Not sure what you are looking for in your articles, but this is some problems that I am having.  I look forward to reading your future articles. 

 

Thanks again.

Ed

 

What would you advise for Ed to do? Should he upgrade to Service Pack #1 or would this compound his problems? I was going to recommend that he find a friend or family member with a broadband connection and burn the full version of SP1 to disk and give it a try. This is just another example in the assumption by companies such as Microsoft that the entire world has a broadband connection and that they do not need to provide a disk to people like Ed, who are stuck with dial up. :-(

Comments welcome.

zebra, zipper, zany, zip, zulu, zebra,

AVG LinkScanner Causes More Problems

Grisoft, the makers of AVG, are now being accused of destroying web analytics with it’s LinkScanner technology. Grisoft had purchased the LinkScanner technology in December of 2007, and had incorporated the technology in its latest AVG Version 8 software. The purpose of LinkScanner is to alert the user to the validity of websites through search engines and warns us of bad sites. But using LinkScanner is now being suspected as causing rogue traffic to web sites as well. In this article it states:

In fact, LinkScanner analyses results from search engines (not just Google) and is browser independent. This may sound like a good idea from a security point of view, however, from a webmaster/website owner point of view, this is not good at all.

If your site appears well in the search engines, as everyone strives to do, your website is or is going to be hugely affected by this. Essentially this means, that everytime your site appears in a users results, regardless of whether they click on it, your website logfiles and thefore your statistics will show that person as a real visitor coming to your site. Now, because the IP address is the users IP address, we can’t filter on that, at first look it would appear we can filter on this useragent, unfortunately I spotted another one.

This one however, is even worst. This time it’s a legitimate user agent which means you can’t filter it out or rewrite it to another page on your site without the risk of blocking or harming real visitors. The first user agent is different, due to lack of a space (or plus) between the last semi-colon and the 1813, it doesn’t follow the standard pattern used by Microsoft.

So, we get to crux of the problem, AVG has destroyed web analytics for people who use a logfile analysis tool. Not only have they done this, they are also wasting our bandwidth and our disk space on servers!

Because of this I recommend that users of the new AVG 8 security software may wish to turn off LinkScanner for now. To do this one needs to do the following:

Click on Tools – Advanced Settings – LinkScanner and uncheck Search Shield.

If you wish to add protection back to your web searches give McAfee SiteAdvisor or WOT a try as a replacement.

Thanks to DougCuk for this information.

Comments welcome.

Source

Symantec Registry Repair Tool – Has Anyone Used It?

Symantec has what is known as a Registry Repair Tool to fix problems for those folks who were running Norton 2008, and updated Windows XP to SP3 or Vista to SP1.  The free tool removes errant registry entries that may be hiding after the service pack was installed.

On their site Symantec states:

Numerous registry keys are added when you upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 3 or Windows Vista Service Pack 1 with a Norton product installed. Because of these registry keys, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Windows Device Manager is empty
  • Missing Wireless network adaptors or other hardware devices
  • Unable to connect using a wireless adapter

During the upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 3 or Windows Vista Service Pack 1, a tool called Fixccs.exe creates a series of registry keys in many locations (some of them within the Symantec registry keys) but is unable to remove them.

Symantec has developed a tool to remove the registry entries that were added during the Windows XP Service Pack 3 or Windows Vista SP 1 upgrade. Download and run the tool to automatically remove the registry entries.

So today I went roaming around the Internet to see if anyone was having problems with the tool. I wasn’t able to find any unfavorable remarks about the tool, which would indicate all is well. Or is it?

Has anyone tried the tool? Share your results with us.

Comments welcome.

 

Source.

AVG 8 Free Edition – Try A Different Download Site?

The problems for those who are installing AVG 8 continue for some users, yet not for others. After checking on AVG’s Free Forum, I found some interesting facts that MAY, just MAY, help those who are having issues with the new freebie from AVG. I have also provided some additional links to other AVG resources:
First was this entry I found on the free forum concerning download sites. I noted this morning that beside the AVG site, others are also offering the download. Which made me think. How many people that are having issues are downloading a possible corrupted installation?

Download from a different location [www.grisoft.cz] and try installing with that…

Other hints were to clean up the registry and defrag the system:

First let’s start by cleaning up all temporary files and check for registry issues. I prefer a util called CCleaner found at [www.ccleaner.com] which does an even better job than the Windows Disk Cleanup and it also can check for registry issues. When checking for registry issues, run it about 3-4 times until it lists no other issues.

Check your hard drive for file/system errors by running chkdsk. Open My Computer and right click on Local Disk C: selecting Properties, click the Tools tab and in the Error Checking area click the “Check now” button and select both options. It will tell you that it can’t test the drive right now and it will ask if you want to schedule it for the next system startup… select Yes. Restart your computer so that it can check the drive. This test will take some time to run and at times may appear stalled but just let it run.

Follow up all of that with a full Defrag to ensure the best performance you can of the system. 

CCleaner is a freebie. Also you could use use Auslogics defragger, another freebie from here.I believe it does a better job than the built in defrag program that comes with Windows.

Oh yes, there are issues with AVG 8 and Windows 2000 SP4 that should be addressed in a follow up release.

Last but not least. Uninstall 7.5 before installing version 8. I know. Version 8 will uninstall 7.5, but some people are having issues with this.

The real last. If you have another anti-virus or spyware program on your system, remove it before installing AVG.

Free forum is here.

AVG 8 FAQ section is here.

AVG 8 user manual is here.

Comments welcome.

Windows Vista SP1 – Read This First KB935796

For those of you who are running Windows Vista on their systems, you should read the following Microsoft KB article, before installing SP1. It is still surprising that folks are running into problems with Zone Alarm, after SP1 is installed, since Microsoft has addressed this problem way back in March, 2008. Yet I still see references be made in the forums concerning the problem. In the KB article it states:

Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista is an important update for Windows Vista. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) contains many security, reliability, and feature updates for Windows Vista. A program may experience a loss of functionality after you install Windows Vista SP1. However, most programs will continue to work as expected after you install Windows Vista SP1.

This article lists programs that have been reported to experience a loss of functionality when they are installed on a Windows Vista SP1-based computer.

Notes

This article should not be considered a comprehensive list of programs that experience loss of functionality when they run on a Windows Vista SP1-based computer.
If you are using a program that appears in this article, you may have to contact the software vendor for more information.

 Take a few minutes to read the article and it may just save you from some heart aches down the road.

Source.

Comments welcome.

Windows XP SP3 Reboot Problem For Both AMD & Intel

It now seems that it is not only AMD users who are facing a reboot problem when installing SP3 for Windows XP, but also some Intel users as well. Over at the Microsoft Update Product Team Blog it appears that a filter is going to be in place to prevent SP3 from being installed on AMD systems with the image problem associated with HP computers. But there is also a link to a Tech Net forum that indicates this problem is also affecting Intel users as well.

Some of the comments in the Tech Net forum indicate that Intel users are also having problems. I have mention this also. Some state:

This is not a problem with AMD-based systems or AMD CPUs. The issue is caused by the method in which the original, pre-installed version of Windows XP was customized during manufacturing by some PC Manufacturers (OEMs). These OEMs loaded a Windows XP image originally created on an Intel-based machine onto computers with AMD processors, and then modified the image incorrectly for AMD CPUs.

This is an imaging process that has never been supported by Microsoft because of the compatibility problems it can create.

As well as this post:

Shashank, what about all of us on Intel platforms with the same issue? Why has MS totally abandoned that problem? Why have you abandoned this thread where you asked for more info and never returned? I’ve been emailing you for over a week now on this matter and about the updates in the thread, but you never replied. The thread is now 18 pages long and growing by the minute! http://forums.microsoft.com/TechNet/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=3321844&SiteID=17

So it appears that the SP3 reboot problem is not limited to AMD chips as previously thought, but also crosses over to Intel machines as well. Hopefully there will be a fix coming soon. In the mean time, you may wish to wait before installing SP3 until all of the problems are ironed out.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft Update Product Team blog is here.

Tech Net article is here.

HP has posted a fix for AMD systems here.

[tags]windows, xp, sp3, tech net, forums, amd, intel, problems, fix, [/tags]

AVG, OCZ, Firefox, SP3 Follow-Up Reports

I thought I would do some follow up reporting on some issues that keep coming up.

AVG 8 is still posing problems for Eudora users. Though the nag screen from AVG 7.5 states the freebie will expire on May 31, 2008 in the forums AVG tech. support has stated that the actual date is Dec. 31, 2008. So what is the real expiration date? Well on June 1, 2008 if AVG 7.5 still updates I guess that will answer the question for all of us. We must all remember that this is a free version and support is nil. However you can get a users manual for AVG 8 that I have found is very helpful here.

Over at OCZ Technology they got back to me and gave me a link to their barebones computer system here. Price of the laptop in barebones setup is $699.95. You supplu the CPU, RAM, HD and operating system. The system supports bothMicrosoft Windows XP and Windows Vista. Some have suggested that you may be better off buying an OEM gaming system. I believe that the only advantage to a barebones system is if you have a legal copy of Windows already, than their may be a cost advantage. This is a decision only you can make.

Problems continue with SP3. My buddy Denny just got finished with a Dell system where in SP3 had been installed via auto update. The system wouldn’t boot at all. After some fiddling the system booted, but would shutdown when a USB device was plugged in. Long story, short. Uninstalling SP3 did the trick and all was well. It was an Intel box not an AMD. Go figure.

Firefox 3 RC1 is available for download and yes, some of your extensions may not work. If you are having this problem try using this tool from Mozilla here. Read the directions on the site. It requires a reboot of Firefox BEFORE you can select the compatibility option. :-)

SP3 problems are still slowly trickling in. Be patient. It is going to take some time to fix some of the issues. Vista SP1 issues also will take some time to iron out.

Comments welcome.

[tags]avg, ocz, firefox, sp3, follow up, problems, solutions, help, assistance, [/tags]

Firefox 3 Beta 5 – It Just Keeps Getting Better

I have been playing with Firefox 3 Beta 5 for the past few days and can only conclude that the newest Firefox just keeps getting better and better. With this recent release, the folks at Mozilla seem to have a real handle on the memory issues. Which is good news since to many people were dumping Firefox because of this problem. Also is speed. This latest release is the fastest yet. I don’t have any test results to offer just my perception, but this puppy is quick.

There is only one minor issue. Some of the extensions I use are not compatible with this new version. Because of this, I can’t use FF3 Beta5 for now. Hopefully when the final comes out in June  the extensions I use will be working.

But for those of you who have experienced memory problems with version 2, give version 3 a try and see if it works better for you.

Let us know what you think.

Comments welcome.

Free download is here.

[tags]firefox, 3 beta 5, test, memory, problems, fixed, speedy,  [/tags]

Windows Vista Backup & Restore – Does It Work?

Yesterday I received a comment from a reader named Luis in which he described a problem he was having using the built in Backup and Restore feature of Windows Vista. He described his problem as:

Hi, I have a huge problem and cannot find
anything related to it on the internet. I’m running Vista Ultimate on
an HP Media Center Pavillion. Because of a number of bugs in the Vista
system I decided to restore a “Complete Windows Restore” from a backup
I made when everything worked fine. I am able to restore ok .. but when
I boot up into windows many system programs and resources say something
like: “so and so program has stopped working .. Windows will notify you
when a solution comes available .. close”. I’ve tried everything
including reformatting the drive and doing a clean install of Vista
Ultimate .. but whenever I do the restore I get the same thing. I have
stripped the computer to bare essentials and still have the same
problem. I can’t even do the windows system check because the same
popup comes up with the same type of message.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I’ve been at this for
almost a week and I’m this close to pulling Vista out and installing XP.

Thanks,
Luis

After some back and forth questioning I learned that this was happening every time he tried to do a Restore from a Backup he had made. Since I do not use this built in feature, I had no personal knowledge on why this was happening. So I did a Google and found a page from a Microsoft employee who had a site and links to some possible solutions to the problem.

Over the years I have tried many a software which claimed to Backup up Windows and do a complete Restore in case disaster struck. For the most part I have been disappointed with the results. The proof in the pudding is not the fact that the software will make a Backup, most softwares do that just fine. But it is the Restore process that fails. What good is a Backup if you can’t restore your system?

I personally use Acronis True Image and find that it flat out just works.

But what has your experience been using the built in Vista Backup and Restore? Share your thoughts with us. Also if you have a favorite Backup program let us know what you use.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft web site is located here.

[tags]windows, vsiat, backup, restore, failure, link, problems, microsoft, employee, assistance, software, [/tags]

Download Microsoft Vista SP1 Now

For those who can’t wait to get their hands on the first service pack for Microsoft Windows Vista, you can download the standalone package from the link below.

But before you jump into SP1 with both feet, may I suggest you read some of the driver issues that Microsoft indicates could be a problem.

Vista SP1 standalone download is here. It’s 434.5 MB so a broadband connection is recommended.

Installation and driver problems and some helpful resolutions are here.

Let us know if you install SP1 what you think.

Comments welcome.

PS Don’t forget to backup your stuff first before the install. :-)

[tags]windows, vista, sp1, download, ready, drivers, installation, problems, resolutions. [/tags]

Dr. Mac Says More Ram Will Increase Performance Of Your Mac

I remember about 5 years ago having a conversation with a friend of mine, a die hard Mac user, who would chastise me and my PC usage. His opinion was that a Mac could do no wrong and therefore neither could a Mac user. So one evening I took a trip on the Internet to a Mac user group located in Berkeley, California. Surprise, surprise! Those Mac Heads were having just as many issues with their boxes as we PC users were having. Armed with this ammunition I confronted my friend and enlightened him to my new found knowledge and asked why he never mentioned these Mac misgivings? His answer ” you never asked.” Priceless.

In my journeys I found this article over at the Houston Chronicle from Dr. Mac telling the masses the following about why you gotta have more RAM in your Mac to improve performance:

The bottom line is that the more programs and documents you have open, the less free RAM you have available. The less free RAM you have, the slower your Mac will run.

And if your hard disk is almost full, the problem is exacerbated.

Next week: What to do if your Mac has too little RAM and/or free disk space.

Gee. I bet next week the advice will be if you have too little Ram, add some more.

My point. The PC and Mac hardware are closer relatives than people would have us believe. :-)

Comments welcome.

Full Dr. Mac article is here.

[tags]apple, mac, dr. mac, ram, performance, PC, same, problems,  [/tags]

Windows Home Server – Bug Plagues Operating System

Since December 2007, the Windows Home Server team is trying to uncover and rectify a ‘bug’ in the system that may corrupt data. Though not every system is affected, it appears that use who use more than one hard disk in the system and use specific programs to modify files could be at risk. On its blog site the team has stated:

One question that is getting asked is, “Will I be affected?” We are aware of only a very small percentage of users with confirmed instances of this issue, and we believe that most people are unlikely to be affected. In the KB article we offer up some precautionary measures that people can take. Some of the instances that were initially attributed to this issue ended up being something else, such as a faulty network card/driver, old routers with outdated firmware, or people incorrectly testing the limits of their home servers.

From the outside looking in, some people would say “Why is this taking so long?” Fixing this issue is the Windows Home Server team’s top priority and the team is making good progress on the fix. We understand the issue really well at this point – it is at an extremely low level of the operating system and it requires thorough testing to ensure that the fix addresses the issue. We have coded a part of the fix which is currently being tested internally. Internal testing is expected to continue for at least several more weeks.

Once the patch has passed internal quality bars, external participants will be asked to help test the fix. Our current plan is to release beta test versions of a fix over the next few months, with a final version currently estimated for June 2008, although that date could change as testing progresses. Thorough testing of the fix is critical and will take time.

On the site is a link to a KB article that describes which programs could cause issues with WHS.

Complete article is here.