The Microsoft Interactive Table

I actually got to see the Microsoft PlayTable a bit ago, but I wasn’t able to actually talk about it. They finally announced the product officially yesterday, and I found this very kewl video up on YouTube.

I have to say, once in a great while you look at something in the technology world, and it makes total sense. Yes, this is exactly the kind of thing that will make life easier. The PlayTable gave me one of those “seeing into the future” shivers. I can really see walking into a restaurant and making my order via my interactive table. Or using it to work collaboratively with a group of people.

Totally kewl device. Check out the video. And I can’t wait to be able to get one for my living room.

Update:

Wired Article Explaining How It Works

My Name in the New York Times

That’s right! My name is in the December 16 edition of the New York Times. More importantly, I was one of the thousands of people to send the Firefox folks some money to support their efforts at producing Firefox, the best darned web browser out there.

Click here to read the press release and see the ad. While you’re there, check out the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email client, and the beta version of the Sunbird calendar. I think you’ll find you like them all.

Oddly enough, there’s a Gary Gapinski in the ad, too. Who would’ve figured….

Programs You HAVE To Have, Part II

Two more programs no computer owner should be without are Spybot Search and Destroy and AdAware.

Both of these programs remove spyware and adware and immunize your system against future attacks. Spybot adds a bunch of handy features for checking your registry to see what’s loading in startup and the Add Remove Programs list in Windows Control Panel.

Quite frankly, Spybot is one of the best protection programs I have ever used and I recommend it to everyone who has a computer that is connected to the Internet. AdAware is a nice companion program to Spybot, for those times when you have a nasty program that Spybot can’t seem to get rid of. (I had a PC that had 60 or so pieces of mal-ware from, and one just wouldn’t leave, though Spybot saw it and was trying to get rid of it. I finally loaded up AdAware and that took care of the problem.)

So hey, get these programs and…let’s be careful out there.

Programs You HAVE To Have

For those of you who have had problems with your web browsing experience, for instance pr0n pop-ups, spyware, or just general slowness, I want to get up on my soap box and recommend some programs that you should be using, instead of the Micro$oft apps you are probably currently using. In addition, I want to mention some other programs to help you clean up the mess you have in the first place.

Why am I doing this? Partially because computer problems like this piss me off. As a rule, I hate marketing because it’s a nasty predator that preys on the weak-minded of us and causes tons more problems than it solves. But when marketing becomes viral, when it infects your computer and prevents you from using it to have fun, when it means you’ll be calling someone like me, a geek, to help you, thus wasting hours and hours of valuable computer-gaming time, well, then it’s time to “drop a train on ’em!”

First off, dump Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook Express. They suck. They’re targets. Hackers hate them and like to exploit them. Instead try Firefox and Thunderbird. Both can be found at Mozilla.org. Both are free.

Firefox is an excellent web browser. It’s got features M$ is still trying to cram into its bloated browser, including tabbed browsing (you can have on window with many browser windows open in that window) and the ability to extend its functionality with small programs called extensions. Firefox is also safer than IE; you’ll get less spyware and other nasty things installed.

Thunderbird is an email program that just gets better and better. Built-in spam protection means junk you get will get forwarded to a folder or deleted so you never have to see pictures of the nasty things your neighbors down the street are doing with farm animals, and Thunderbird continually learns from what you mark as junk so the program gets better and better at detecting it. One of the things I really like about Thunderbird is the one-button support for blocking remote images. Remote images are the image files you find in HTML emails that spammers use to determine whether you read the email or not. Once that image loads, it doesn’t matter what you do, the spammer now knows he has a valid address. (Not that many spammers probably worry about that anymore.) Thunderbird has an option to block those images, and when you do, you get a button at the top of each email which allows you to load the images if the email is from a source you trust and it looks like something you would expect to get from them.

So get these two programs. They rock. They will save you all kinds of problems in the long run. And hey, they’re free, so it can’t hurt to try them.

More programs tomorrow.