Funny eCards, Personalized Birthday eCards, and Custom Holiday Cards – JibJab.com

A friend of mine sent me an eCard that was pretty nifty. He had uploaded photos of both of us and they had been merged into a silly little video of both of us dancing. I looked into the site and it looks really easy. They have cards for the election, Halloween, birthdays, holidays, and lots more. I’ve included a link below so that you can try the service out yourself and make someone else’s day ūüôā

Quickbooks “Could not initialize license properties”

A customer of mine called me over to do some work for her. When I showed up there was a message on her screen that read “Could not initialize license properties [Error 3371,StatusCode -11118] Quickbooks could not load the license data. This may be caused by missing or damaged files.”

Quickbooks Error 3371

Example – Not an error on your computer – Likely…

She was running Windows XP Profession SP3. The first thing I did was check Windows Update to make sure everything was up to date. It had a few recommended updates to do so I applied them. Then it occurred to me that perhaps the file system had gotten corrupted, so I ran SpinRite to see how the disk was doing. I figured if that came up clean then I would run ChkDsk to address the file system.

In reality I am blogging about this as I wait for the aforementioned updates to finish. Interestingly enough it seems to be helping me to develop a thoughtful strategy for resolving her issue. Before starting this blog I was actually planning to re-install Quickbooks before checking the disk and file system. This is because the Quickbooks support website says this will be necessary. We shall see. Updates just finished. Rebooting…

Spinrite wouldn’t load. Some arcane message that I didn’t write down came up. Skipped that and tried Ultra-X Diagnostic. The hard drive, ram and all other system components seem to be fine. I ran ChkDsk but that didn’t fix the Quickbooks error. I finished reading the Quickbooks instructions and it turns out that there are a few things they had to suggest prior to re-installing. I just had to rename the¬†EntitlementDataStore.ecml in¬†C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Intuit\Entitlement Client\v6.0 to¬†EntitlementDataStore.ecml.old. After that, Quickbooks ran fine and started updating itself.

Aside from Quickbooks, the computer had some junkware that had installed itself since my last visit (despite Norton Internet Security) so I ran Malwarebytes Antimalware, uninstalled what was left and called it a night.

Kaspersky Internet Security Review

For a long time I tried various antivirus and internet security programs on my own and on clients’ computers. I’ve tried AVG, Norton, Microsoft Security Essentials, PC Doctor Antivirus, and several others. I currently use Kaspersky Internet Security on all of my computers and have done so for a few years. I own the 3 pc subscription and use it on my laptop, home desktop, and work desktop. I was drawn to Kaspersky by a comparison done a while back that drew the conclusion that Kaspersky performed better than any other packages in detecting new threats (heuristics).

As most infections occur in the short time between a threat being released into the internet and a patch being pushed out by the security companies, I decided I would pick the package that best protected me during that critical window. I’ve been very pleased by the method of updating that Kaspersky uses. It updates several times a day but it doesn’t suck up my bandwidth. The updates tend to be incremental and don’t tax my system. The firewall rarely gets in my way and is very easy to configure. The various protection services that are provided are easy to disable if I need to do so. Kaspersky is one of those companies that never stops improving its products. I’ve seen the software grow and develop in the time that I’ve used it. The protection¬†software I’m using now has more features than the one I bought. They are clearly working hard to keep up with the changing landscape that is the internet and are finding new ways to protect their customers that we don’t even know are necessary.

You can even install and try it out for a while if you aren’t sure that you want to commit the money right away.

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Whatever you do, whoever you go with, always install some sort of internet security suite if you are going to be connecting to the internet. Always keep it updated too (although I’ve never had to bug Kaspersky to do that).

Publisher 2010 PDF color bug

I had a fun run-in with a client recently involving Microsoft Publisher 2010. She was trying to produce a PDF for distribution to her clients that had some critical PDF color coding that her clients needed. Every time she exported a PDF from Publisher, the PDF came out with color images but grayscale text. This was of course driving her nuts. It drove me nuts too until I did some Googling and discovered that for some reason Publisher 2010 will not produce color text in a PDF if your Windows default printer is not a color printer. It doesn’t matter what printer is currently selected as the default in Publisher. With that tidbit in my belt I went ahead and installed PrimoPDF for her and commiserated with her as I showed her how to work around this yet-to-be-patched bug. Now she “prints” her PDF instead of exporting it. As far as she was concerned, that was just as odd of a workaround as modifying the default printer every time she wanted a color PDF. At first when I told her she would be “printing” her PDF she thought it odd that she would need to produce a print of paper just to get a digital PDF.

First!1! and Verizon enables free tethering and hotspots!

My first blog entry. How exciting! What to talk about. I’ve made a list of things that have been jumbling about and suppose I should start with something time sensitive like this story about Verizon before it is all too irrelevant.

A friend dropped in on me a while back and asked me how to turn his phone into a WiFi hotspot for free. He wasn’t interested in paying Verizon a chunk of change to share his data plan with his laptop. I turned him onto PdaNet (which has been awesome for me) and then installed the third party app that they require to make that feature work. Turns out that the “WiFi Hotspot Mode” doesn’t work on my HTC Thunderbolt. It installed just fine on his phone so he left all smiles knowing he was beating the system all thanks to his resourceful nerdy friend. His resourceful nerdy friend thanks PdaNet in turn for being awesome and there for him from the beginning.

Well fast-forward about a year and my friend came back through town and updated me with GREAT news. Verizon had its hand slapped by the FCC for charging for the tethering and WIFI hotspot features. They made a bundle for a few years and were charged a pittance by the FCC for the bullying of their customers. Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Verizon. I was with Sprint for 5 awful years and I know how grateful I am to Verizon for being nothing like Sprint. I was a bit disappointed though when Verizon started charging for the hotspot feature a few months after I got my phone. Having it back will be handy here and there. So if you are one of the ones who is behind the curve like I was, if you have a data plan, you can use your phone as a hotspot as long as the phone’s software supports it. It still costs you data but it doesn’t cost extra dollars.

 

 

Managing passwords with KeePass 2 and Dropbox

I can’t speak for everyone but I know that I have way too many login names and passwords too keep track of. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone pull up a Word document and scroll down a list 40 miles long to try to find the right username and password for a particular site. Often as well, I’ll see someone rummaging around their office trying to find the CD envelope or printed receipt on which they have jotted down their information. Everyone knows that the computer was invented to reduce this clutter and make such things easier. The major problem I have found is that computers simply aren’t normally that reliable. No one wants to consolidate all of their most important and sensitive information into such a temperamental and hackable environment.

In response to that situation, I have been using a system that has worked very well for me and has made managing and using my logins very easy. To start, I enter all of my information into an encrypted KeePass 2 database. This is a very well designed application which makes it very easy to organize and find credentials for massive amounts of sites, applications, and even licenses. One of the features I like the most is the ability to double-click the URL stored in a credential entry (ie. storefront.biz/bizlogin) which opens up in my default browser. I then double-click the username, paste it in the login form, double-click the password, paste it in the login form and I’m good to go! On top of that, KeePass automatically clears the clipboard within a few seconds so that no one will be able to just paste my password after I’m gone.

“Why not just rely on the browser to store my passwords?” you may ask. Ah, I’m glad you may have asked. While I do this as well, I find that it is still very helpful to have the password stored in a discrete file that I can manage myself. This allows me to place it in Dropbox, Google Drive, or my Mesh SkyDrive. This satisfies the need to have the critical information backed up as soon as possible after changes are made. It also allows me to share it with others. This makes it cross platform. I frequently access my KeePass database on my HTC Thunderbolt via Dropbox. While Chrome will share my stored passwords with other computers, it still doesn’t share with my phone’s browser. This also means I will have easy access to my credentials no matter what browser I use. Sometimes I am forced to use Firefox for LogMeIn.com instead of my usual Chrome. Another reason is that browsers don’t have nearly as nice of an interface for simply looking up your information at a moment’s notice. What if you need to type the password for your secondary Facebook into a mobile device? Staring at the masked password in your browser isn’t helpful.

KeePass also has several features which enable the average user to maintain very high security with their passwords. You can set expirations for certain passwords and have a very secure password generated automatically. Most people use the same password for almost everything and never change it. Using KeePass instead of a Word Doc makes using a 70 character password no more difficult to change and use than a 6 character password. I use this system with all of my customers. I never have to ask them what the new password is because I have an updated version of the database available to me. They never have to worry about getting a hold of me if a password has changed because they know it is stored in the KeePass database. They also have peace of mind because the database is stored and updated automatically on all of their devices and the cloud.

As I mentioned earlier, KeePass is also very useful for storing software licenses for the average user. I use it to manage my own software serial such as for Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

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