Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

The Cloud Storage Wars Have Started

Microsoft Skydrive;; Dropbox; and now Google Drive. These are all contenders in the cloud storage marketplace, which is suddenly heating up.

What is Cloud Storage?

The “Cloud” has become a ubiquitous term that, in its simplest form, just means   the Internet. Cloud is a good, descriptive word, I think. It’s amorphous; out there somewhere in the sky; you can’t touch or feel it, but you know it’s there.

“Cloud Storage” is, therefore, a place to store you digital stuff on the Internet. Think of it as your online hard drive. It’s a hard drive that is available to you wherever you have Internet access. There are a number of applications for cloud storage, including:

  1. Remote Back Up – You can back up your important files, photos, what-have-you remotely on the cloud. Then, in the event of a disaster with your computer, your important stuff is still intact on the Internet.
  2. File Syncing – You can put files that you need to access from multiple devices into cloud storage. Then, regardless of where you are, whether you’re using your computer or someone else’s, or if you’re on your smart phone or tablet, you have access to those files. This is great for people who travel.
  3. File Sharing – If you are collaborating on a project or simply wish to give access to selected files to others, you can do that by defining special “shared” folders in your cloud storage account.

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Netgear Introduces First 802.11ac Wireless Router

A few days ago, I reported on the coming new standard that will dramatically increase WiFi speeds (Get Ready for Blazing Fast WiFi, April 13, 2012). Now the first actual product to support the new 802.11ac standard has been announced.

The Netgear R6300 router will hit the streets next month with a WiFi speed of over twice as fast as previously available. Of course, there are no devices that can make use of that standard yet. But if you want to be one of the first to be prepared when the devices start to show up, the R6300 is backward-compatible with the previous 802.11n and 802.11b/g standards, so you can use it with your current devices.

While Netgear is the first 802.11ac router to hit the market, others will soon follow.

Malware Alert … DNS Changer Could Kill Your Internet Access

“DNS Changer” has infected millions of computers worldwide. It’s possible this malware is residing you your computer right now.

The Bad News

DNS Changer is a Trojan that was designed to hijack your Internet access and redirect your requests for websites to other sites. These sites would present you with advertising, rather than the Web page you were looking for.

Even more of a threat, it would also disable antivirus software and prevent your computer from being updated.

The Good News

This treat was detected by the FBI last year. The culprits behind DNS Changer were arrested, and the malicious servers were seized. Surrogate servers were set up to replace the malicious ones.

The Bad Guys Have Been Shut Down, But …

The problem is, if your computer has already been infected, your domain requests are still going through these surrogate servers. Come July of this year, the FBI will shut down these servers, effectively killing Internet access for all infected computers. So, it’s important to determine if you are infected and clean the Trojan from your computer before the deadline.

It’s easy to determine if you are infected. Just go to This Website will immediately give you feedback on whether you have the problem, or not. If you are infected, you will get instructions on what to do next.

Deadline: July 9, 2012

That’s the day the FBI will shut down these temporary servers. If you are infected and you don’t correct the problem before then, your ability to access the Internet will cease, and it will be a lot harder to fix the problem. *** FAIR WARNING ***


Get Ready for Blazing Fast WiFi

WiFi as we know it is about to become obsolete. It’s been a good ride, but it will be blown out of the water with the new standard, known as 802.11ac.

The current standard (802.11n) can stream at speeds over 100 Mbps at close range, but that falls off rapidly with distance and obstacles within the home or office. This means that WiFi sometimes just isn’t good enough for high bandwidth applications, like streaming TV. These applications sometimes require going to Powerline Network Adapters to deliver a wired connection over household wiring. But the new standard in WiFi is reported to outstrip even direct cable connection in terms of speed.

The new protocol is expected to hit the streets sometime in the last half of 2012. To take advantage of it, you will need a new router. OK, routers don’t cost too much. But then you’ll need a new laptop with the 802.11ac chipset that can send and receive in the new standard. Want to take advantage of the new speed to stream video to your TV? Now you need a new smart television or other streaming TV receiver that can work with the new standard.

Hmm? It’s starting to get expensive, huh? But that’s the way it is with technology. When it advances, we get new performance and capabilities, and we open our pocket books to be able to use it.

Printer Ink Costs … How They Stack Up for Different Printers

Which Printer Delivers the Best Ink Economy?

Ever wonder what you spend per page for printer ink? You probably know it’s a big number, but how big is it?.

Do different printers provide better ink economy? The answer to that one is a definite, YES.

I ran across a very enlightening article on the subject (read it here). To summarize…

One of the more popular printers is the HP Photosmart 5510. I’ll use that one as a benchmark. Average ink costs for this printer is 11.4 cents per page.

Kodak advertises low ink consumption, and it appears to be true. The Kodak Hero 3.1 runs about 9.5 cents per page.

I have two printers in my office. The Canon Pixma is 13.8 cents per page … OUCH! But my Epson Artisan 835 delivers an impressive 9.2 cents per page ink cost, even better than the Kodak.

Should You Buy Standard or High Yield Cartridges?

High yield ink cartridges deliver better ink economy the the standard smaller sizes. But that could be false economy, depending on you much you use your printer.

If you use you printer regularly, the higher yield cartridges are the way to go. But if you use it rarely, high yield cartridges may dry up before you use them, resulting in higher cost per page than standard cartridges.

Free Online TV

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

We’re just about to wrap up our series on Internet TV, but I’ve got one more topic to cover first.


  1. I started out this series by discussing the hardware and infrastructure you need to deliver Internet TV to your big screen. [Internet TV – an Introduction]
  2. Then I followed up with a discussion of subscription programming services, including Netflix and Hulu Plus. [Netflix, Hulu & Hulu Plus]
  3. In my last article, I concluded subscription programming options by introducing you to Amazon Instant Video; and I reviewed my favorite Roku channels. [Amazon Instant Video and My Favorite Roku Channels]

This time I will review totally free online TV that you can access with your computer on the Internet. I’ll also show you how to connect your computer to your TV for viewing those free videos on your big screen.

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