Friday, March 31, 2006

Google Mail Hosting

I'm very excited this weekend. Why? Because I just moved my website over to a much cheaper hosting provider: My previous hosting was $10 a month and I wasn't even taking advantage of all its features. GoDaddy has double the storage space for less than $3 a month. I purchased my domain through them anyway so the transition was easy. Mail was included in GoDaddy's hosting plan but I wanted to use GMail services.

I signed up for Google's Domain Mail Hosting service. It's free if you don't mind harmless text adds next to your messages. I love how it groups email messages together that are replys back and forth. I always wished Outlook would do that. Google calls them conversations, not email messages.

Another great feature is I can add in all my friend's blog feeds to show up as a headline ticker just above my message window. The page will refresh itself to display any new emails arriving, and I can stay logged in all day without being kicked off because of this refreshing (double entendre) feature.

With all the storage space they provide for you, Gmail reccomends you to archive your messages instead of deleting them, so they'll always be there to search for; google search 'em. Like when somebody sends you their new address in an email, but you're too lazy to update their contact info. Just search it, you'll find it. I love it!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Improve Security of your Home Computer

I worked for a small Optometrist office that had only two computers, and no server. Windows XP makes it easy to share files between to computers as peers without any kind of authentication other than you are part of the same workgroup (which is typically called WORKGROUP). They have a son that would like to come in and play on the computer, and mess around and perhaps delete important files. XP in workgroup mode had a very slight way of blocking his access to company files, but if those files were in a shared folder, he had complete access.

After searching around I found I could increase the security options on files like that of a domain. In Windows Explorer click on Tools > Folder Options and click on the View tab. Scroll to the bottom of the page and uncheck Use simple file sharing (recommended), and click OK. Now you can right click any folder and choose to set sharing and file permissions. Remember to create additional usernames and passwords for people on other machines that will be accessing the data on this computer.

If you combine this tip with my previous blog you have set up for yourself the poor man's domain, and put off buying a server for much longer.

Saved User Passwords

Do you connect to several different machines in your workgroup and are required to enter a username and password every time you log on to the remote computer? Or are you running a Windows XP Home edition on a Domain network? Microsoft has included a little known tool on all editions of it's XP Operating System (I say little known, because I've only now just discovered it.) called "Store User Names and Passwords". It's a perfect way to secure your home computer network without the hassle of entering another password. To start the program click on Start > Run and type rundll32.exe keymgr.dll, KRShowKeyMgr into the Open field.

When it opens up, click Add. In the new window type in the information pertaining to the computer you want to connect to. If you are connecting to a domain just type an asterisk for the computer name followed by the domain name. ie. *

For full details on this tool check out Microsoft's website:;en-us;306541&sd=tech

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hello RSS, Goodbye Newspaper

How do you get your news? From that large awkward paper that gets black ink everywhere? From the TV? What a waste of time! Why do I want to wait around for the 11 o'clock news just to find out about the new weightloss study? I want my news now, when it's published. And I'd like to check up on my blogging friends too.

RSS is a standard for organizing headlines. It stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it is the coolest way to get the latest information. How you use an RSS feed is you install an RSS feed reader on your machine. My favorite one is RSS Bandit. Super cool. It already has a few feeds automatically installed, and from there you right click on any category and choose Subscribe to new feed and it will walk you through the process of setting up new feeds. For example you can subscribe to this blog as a feed. It's address is Once you put that address in it will find the RSS feed and load it into your reader. Check it out!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

How to change a taillight on a New Beetle

This isn't a computer tip, but after searching online for hours on how to change the light in my beetle I decided once I found out how to do it I would put it online to help someone else. Our Beetle is a 2003 model convertible, but you may find that these instructions will work with any beetle from '98 to 2005.

1. to remove the tail light you must first unscrew the wingnut on the backside of the light. This is located behind what appears to be a plastic ventcover inside the trunk.

2. to remove the cover take an ordinary butter knife and slip it between the car body and the rubber lining at 4 or 5 o'clock (driver's side) and pry open enough to get your finger underneath. Pull the cover up diagonally toward the side of the car, it is only held in by a simple spring catch.

3. rotate the light socket 1/4 turn to remove from the cover, and ta-da you're done! Take the bulb to Pep Boys (or your auto parts store of choice) and ask them to match it for a replacement.

Two bulbs cost $5 but VW service wanted to charge me $45 for just the one.