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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Free Government Publications

The U.S. the government offers many free publications on just about everything imaginable.  Want information on pet turtles, fleas on your pet, questions on child support, scams to get your money, American History, Gardening, you name it?  Most of these are 1-4 page informational sheets and some have nominal fees (usually $1-$2).  You can download pdf copies from the site.  Could be of some value for say, teachers, parents, display in some public places, somebody with a flea-bitten dog…I don’t know.

Dropbox Cloud Storage

When I was looking for a good file sharing site on which to store my chess booklets that I offer for downloading I was advised of this cloud site by an IT tech who told me he uses it all the time and highly recommends it. 

Dropbox is a free service that lets you store all your photos, documents, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox on your computer will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox wesite

This makes it easy to share your files with others or you can access you files from anywhere.  You can start working on a computer at school or the office, and finish from your home computer without emailing yourself the file.

You can invite your friends, family and teammates to any folder in your Dropbox and it'll be the same as if you saved that folder to their compute. For example, if you have team project on the job the files can be made available to everybody on the team. You can also use it to share photos or anything else…all the you need to do is supply the recipient with the link.

Go to the Dropbox site and download an install the app on your computer and you’re in business.  It’s that easy.  It will install an icon on your computer and when you open the Dropbox program you can then move or copy any file to a folder then when you want to share it with someone just click on the file and select “Copy Public Link.”  You can then email the link to someone and it will take them right to document or photo or whatever.

The free Dropbox gives you 2 GB of space and if you refer somebody they will add another 500 MB up to 18 GB…FREE!!  I currently have over 30 of my pdf chess booklets in Dropox and have used on a little over 500 KB of space, so 2 GB is HUGE.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Withdraw of 4Shared Recommendation

   On Sunday, July 15 I received an email from 4Shared advising me that it was reported that I “offer unlicensed copies of, or have been engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to copyrighted works. The abuse report came to us from LeakID. Storing and sharing of such material violates proprietary rights of the file copyright owner as well as 4shared Terms of Use”
      What was involved was my offering for download  on my chess blog a 28 page pdf booklet I wrote. 
      I sent an e-mail back describing the material and received what appeared to be an automated reply signed by someone name “Josh”at 4Shared. Basically the e-mailed advised me it wasn’t their problem and I should please “get in touch with the reporter via email (e-mail listed for Leak) and figure this out.”
      According to their website, LeakID “is the first digital agency and was founded by experts from the world of radio, television and internet. We undertake the design, management, strategy ...etc.” According to LinkedIn they are Specialists in Law Enforcement IP, content protection, anti-piracy, Anti Counterfeiting.
      According to the customer service people at Sendspace, Leakid is spamming Sendspace with takedown notices: "We keep being sent takedown notices by leakid.com. You will probably wish to take this up with them." Interesting that even Sendspace, like 4Shared, doesn't seem to care that this is a problem for some of their sites users. Obviously if LeakedID is doing spamming they won't be too concerrned about complaints will they?
      As expected, I never heard from LeakID. Apparently I have not been the only person to have experienced problems with this issue involving both 4Shared and LeakIt. As a result I have deleted my 4Shared account and am no longer offering my pdf booklets for download and due to the don't care attitude of 4Shared I withdraw my recommendation of the site.  Don't use it!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Personal Finance and Budgets

The US Government's Federal Trade Commission offers a lot of information on managing your finances, including credit, debt, home ownership, money management, retirement and estate planning and more. There is even information on pet medication, do not call signup, identity theft, you name it. Lots of good information. For example:
Credit and Debt: How to file bankruptcy, car loans-beware, personal credit help, file a complaint against credit card companies, etc
Home ownership information, mortgage resources
Bank complaints, charities,
Retirement and estate planning, planning a funeral

Having a personal budget is an absolute MUST!! This site shows you how to start a budget and manage your money better with free budgeting worksheets, frugal recipes, homemade gifts and thousands of tips to help you save money all through the year.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Predatory Lending

Predatory lending is the practice of making loans to consumers who have little ability to repay the loan. It involves the use of deceptive and/or high-cost consumer loans and equity-stripping mortgages. Predatory lenders exploit borrowers by charging extremely high interest and fees. A common element of all predatory loans is exploiting a consumer’s ability to repay. Predatory lending includes both:

* Technically legal, but high-cost, loans
* Outright fraud through deceptive sales practices

Common examples of predatory lending practices include:

* Payday loans
* Car title loans
* Tax refund anticipation loans
* Check-cashing stores
* Pawnshop loans
* Subprime lending institutions
* Home improvement scams

Targets of Predatory Lenders

Predatory lenders often target desperate groups who need money immediately and can’t wait, can’t qualify for or distrust traditional bank loans. Some target groups include:

* Elderly consumers
* Minorities
* Young soldiers
* People with limited education
* Desperate homeowners
* People needing immediate cash
* People with weak credit records
* People living beyond their means

Beware of these Red Flags of Predatory Loans

* Frequent refinancing. Predatory lenders often encourage borrowers to refinance an existing loan into a bigger, longer-term loan, often with a higher interest rate. This is called loan flipping. Fees are charged for each loan.

* Lending more than borrowers can afford. Borrowers are allowed, even encouraged, to borrow more than they can afford. When borrowers are unable to pay, the lender encourages them to refinance or forecloses, often taking away the borrower’s home and the home equity they have spent years building.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gizmo’s Freeware Reviews

The site intro states: At this community website you'll find the very best freeware programs each selected by our independent editors because of their quality and performance. Many of these programs are as good as or better than their commercial counterparts so why pay for what you can get for free?

First class material on a site that is easy to search and navigate, not to mention just fun to surf.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jasc Paint Shop Pro Version 4.14 Free

Good free paint programs are hard to come by these days and the free paint program that comes with Windows is mostly useless. But this one is great; I have been using it for years.

Jasc Paint Shop Pro (PSP) is a bitmap graphics editor and vector graphics editor for computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system that was originally published by Minneapolis-based Jasc Software. In 2004, Corel Corporation purchased Jasc Software, and with it, the distribution rights to Paint Shop Pro.

Originally called simply Paint Shop, the first version, 1.0, was released in early 1992. Paint Shop was originally distributed as shareware, but is now sold in the United States for about $100 which is considerably lower than the price of its main competition, Adobe Photoshop.

There is a later free trial version but to test Paint Shop Pro you need to create a Corel account on the company's Web site…forget that. There are also later versions available downloadable by torrent, but I don’t like the idea of using torrents, so forget that, too.

The older version (V.4) has served me well for years and has proven more than satisfactory for my needs of manipulating digital photos, making drawings or anything else I might want to accomplish with a paint program.

The more recent free versions available from Corel have not received favorable reviews. There have been reports of frequent crashes with one reviewer stating the free downloads, even from the Corel website, are so unstable they are almost worthless. His final words of advice: Stay away from Corel products. Poor products. poor tech support.

I have not tried any Corel products, but this older version of PSP is great. So, if you are looking for a good paint program with lots of features as one that is easy to use, try the old version 4.

Download no longer available...download from my Dropbox link:
Click HERE to download

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is a freeware Web browser developed, of course, by Google. Chrome is packed with highly convenient features. One great feature is privacy browsing. The browser boasts an incognito mode, which doesn’t track your browsing as you navigate webpages. When a browser in incognito mode is closed, it also deletes cookies and passwords from that session.
       Chrome is designed to keep you safer and more secure with its built-in malware and phishing protection, auto-updates to make sure you have all the latest security fixes. When you navigate to a website suspected of phishing or containing malware, the internet browser displays a warning. Chrome employs something called “sandboxing” which helps block malware and isolates what happens in one tab from affecting the others, so once you close a tab, that process is completely terminated. Sandboxing is an effective method for preventing malware from installing itself on your computer and monitoring your online activities or stealing personal information.
       Chrome also offers the Chrome Web Store which is an online store from Google.  You can install and run web applications unique to Google Chrome.  The store hosts free and paid applications.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012


CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool that removes unused files from your system allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. Just in case you feel it necessary, it also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history.

CCCleaner is a fully featured registry cleaner that will allow your computer be free from all kinds of trash.  It has   drive wiping tool that can wipe all the data from your hard drive or just  scrub the available free space.  This includes a simple one-pass overwrite or you can use a full-blown 7-pass overwrite, but it will be a much longer process.  It also has a cookie deleting feature.

In addition to the above, CCCleaner will empty your recycle bin, delete temporary files, and clean your Registry and it will also back up your Registry before you hit delete.  This is an important feature just in case it accidentally removes a crucial component. There's also an uninstaller for removing any program on your computer, but for this I prefer to use the Windows uninstaller.

Free Online File Storage Dangers

There are many sites that offer cost-free file storage, but be aware that stored files, whether stored on internal and external drives, face a variety of dangers of being lost because of virus, corruption or crashes.

Advantages of free sites are, for example, files can be shared in situations where e-mail attachments of large documents can be sent.  It is much easier just to send a link to the document.  In addition, personal files like photographs, videos and music files can be shared publicly or privately through free file storage sites.
However, one must remember online storage companies don't guarantee customers a fail-safe backup system and legal experts say there is generally little recourse for consumers in the event of data loss when using such services.

"In general, consumers are out of luck," said Ira Rothken, an attorney based in San Rafael, Calif., who has litigated such cases in the past. "Frankly, it's understandable. There are always going to be glitches that lead to data loss."  He said consumers can protect themselves by ensuring that valuable files are adequately backed up. Some Web-based e-mail services, such as Yahoo Mail, allow customers to download e-mail to their desktops and retrieve them using a PC-based e-mail client such as Microsoft's Outlook.

Remember: it is a good idea not to store personal information of any kind on these sites.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

ADrive File Storage

Offers 50 Gig of free storage
ADrive delivers online cloud storage services to millions of individuals, businesses and enterprise-level users. Our goal is to provide users with a convenient and reliable way to better manage their data from virtually anywhere, at any time.

Are you an individual user needing to back up your desktop files? A CIO needing to mirror your data to geographically diverse locations? We have a solution to meet your requirements!
Anytime access to your data, wherever you are.  Conveniently access your ADrive files at any time, from wherever you are. Simply log in to your ADrive account through any device to store, share or edit your files online. All you need is access to the Internet!  LINK TO SITE

Saturday, February 11, 2012

YouTube Downloader

YouTube Downloader is a popular, free program that enables you to download and convert online videos (legal content, to which you have the rights) for later viewing on your desktop or mobile device. It can convert files to MOV, MP4, 3GP, WMV, AVI, or MP3.

The program downloads a lot more than just YouTube videos. On the developer's site, you can find an extensive list of additional supported sites including Facebook and Vimeo.
When you find a video you'd like to download, copy the URL of the video page and open YouTube Downloader. Choose your desired quality and your destination folder, then hit Download. Once your download is finished, hit the Play tab to watch. The Convert tab lets you export to a different file format for playing elsewhere, and gives you a mini editor for making minor alterations before your export. You can change video volume (or remove audio altogether) and splice footage by setting specific start and end times.
For online video enthusiasts looking to download non-copyrighted or personally owned videos, YouTube Downloader appears to be a near-perfect tool.  Download fron CNet

Thursday, February 2, 2012

CieAura Products

CieAura products are NOT free, but are worth looking into.

From their website:
These are Transparent Holographic Chips that use a proprietary combination of homeopathic formulas consisting of intrinsic energies that affect positive health responses. CieAura Chips have the look of simple decals on the body or clothing and are totally non-invasive, without any chemical component. When placed along sensitive acupuncture meridian points, results such as increased energy, improved stamina, deeper, more restful nights, and other assorted reactions occur, depending on the program formula of the Holographic Chip and the related placement.

They supposedly restore balance, allowing the body's defenses to perform at their peak abilities and give the body renewed energy and stamina. In doing so, the best medicine for the body, the body’s own natural immune system, is working at capacity.

Sound like a lot of worthless hype? Sure does.  BUT… I can recommend the CieAura products.  I have tried two items: the patch for back pain and it worked at least as good as over-the-counter pain medicine.  The other item is the energy bracelet.  I am a hard sell and was quite skeptical but they seem to work.  Psychological?  Perhaps.  It doesn’t matter though if it’s a placebo effect or if it really works. The two items I tried did the job.

The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health or behavior not attributable to a medication or invasive treatment that has been administered.

A placebo (Latin for "I shall please") is a pharmacologically inert substance (such as saline solution or a starch tablet) that produces an effect similar to what would be expected of a pharmacologically active substance (such as an antibiotic).

The idea of the placebo in modern times originated with H. K. Beecher. He evaluated 15 clinical trials concerned with different diseases and found that 35% of 1,082 patients were satisfactorily relieved by a placebo alone ("The Powerful Placebo," 1955). Other studies have since calculated the placebo effect as being even greater than Beecher claimed. For example, studies have shown that placebos are effective in 50 or 60 percent of subjects with certain conditions, e.g., "pain, depression, some heart ailments, gastric ulcers and other stomach complaints."  And, as effective as the new psychotropic drugs seem to be in the treatment of various brain disorders, some researchers maintain that there is not adequate evidence from studies to prove that the new drugs are more effective than placebos.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

4-Shared File Sharing

I withdraw my recommendation of this site
See post dated 7-21-12

4-Shareddotcom is a great free site that acts like a hard drive on your computer.  Registration is free, simple, and takes only seconds and there is no need to enter your credit card details. Your Free account and all your files will be removed from 4shared only if you do not log in the account for 180 days.

You can store just about any file on the site that you store on your computer and you can make the files either public or private.  This is good if you want to share a file with a friend for example.  Just upload it to 4-Shared then send them the link and they can download the file.

The space limit is a whopping 15 GB per account. Currently 4shared sets a 2048 MB size limitation per file. Your files must not exceed the limit, otherwise they will be rejected but if the size of the file is more than 2048 MB, you can split the file into smaller parts and upload them separately using the multi-upload feature.  How big is 15 GB?  I currently have about 50 books in pdf format stored in my account and have used only 1% of my free space!

Another nice feature is you can do a search on the site for books, videos, music, games or photos and see if what you are looking for has been made available to the public by others.  That’s not to say all downloads are legal, that is another question I am not qualified to answer, but if you are looking for file storage of file sharing, then this is probably the best site available.

AVG Anti-virus Freeware

Anti-virus software is absolutely essential for your computer and while I use Norton, you can get freeware that will protect you under certain circumstances.  AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2012 is perfect if you use your PC only for surfing, searching or social networking because it will protect you while surfing.

However, and this is important, if you are sharing and downloading files, watching YouTube, sending e-mails of shopping and banking, it will not offer the necessary protection.

If you also use your PC for banking or shopping you need the protection of AVG Firewall offered in AVG Internet Security 2012 to keep hackers out which will cost you about $55.  Personally, for that price I would rather buy Norton which offers a wider variety of packages ranging from $40 to $80.  But if you want free then AVG is an excellent choice.  DOWNLOAD AVG Free

Monday, January 9, 2012


If you have purchased a new computer you are aware that it does not come with the ubiquitous Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint and Publisher.  For them, you will have to pay a few hundred dollars extra.  You don’t need to!

You can download, for free of course, an alternative to Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.  This software can open and save documents in Word and Excel formats and is totally free.

OpenOffice is an open-source office productivity software suite whose main components are for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and databases.  OpenOffice is available for a number of different computer operating systems, is distributed as free software and is written using its own GUI toolkit. It supports the ISO/IEC standard Open Document Format (ODF) for data interchange as its default file format, as well as Microsoft Office formats among others. As of June 2011[update], OpenOffice.org supports over 120 languages.

It takes 15-20 minutes to download and about 5-10 minutes to install and you’re ready to go.

Download HERE