Saturday, January 31, 2009

Windows 7 beta

I am posting an amendment to my recent Windows 7 informational post. Rumor has it that Microsoft is planning to offer a FREE upgrade to Windows 7 to all Windows Vista owners that buy it AFTER July 1, 2009. Honestly, I thought the free beta was too good to be true, but apparently Microsoft is really gearing up to have this thing ready by December 2009 and for free to Vista users.

The only versions of Vista that will be upgradable for free are Vista Business, Vista Home Premium, and Vista Ultimate. Obviously, there will be a host of other qualifications to actually be eligible to get the free upgrade. Either way, its a good deal. Microsoft is really gearing this towards the end consumer and businesses while also working with OEM's (original equipment manufactures - which means exactly what the name says). My opinion is that this is all part of Microsoft's strategy to boost its public image and do something right at a time when its market share is slipping and people are seriously beginning to doubt that anyone smart works at Microsoft (that was a joke - although I have been wondering that recently). If you want to try out Windows 7 better get on it. The Beta testing period is ended on February 10... so I suggest still trying.

From 1/27/09 - Want to play around with Microsoft's new attempt at an innovative operating system? Windows 7 is available for free download as a beta version. Beta means that the operating system is not currently completely ready for the market. In fact, Microsoft will not even be ready to release Windows 7 by the end of 2009. The planned release is sometime in the first quarter of 2010. Why is it called Windows 7? That is probably just a code name. Microsoft will likely release it under a different name. It code-named Windows 7 because it is the 7th version of the Windows operating system... creative huh?

So, if you want to see what Windows 7 is all about, at least in its early, unpolished stages, Microsoft will let you download it for free (as .iso disk image). They will provide you with a serial and everything. The download is only available until February 10, 2009. So make sure that you take advantage of the download before then if you want to try it out.

Downloading Windows 7.
Click the download link to go to the download page at That page has some of the technical information that your system will require to run the OS. If you are currently running Vista or Mac OS X Leopard then your computer should have no problem with Windows 7. Just scroll down, select the operating system type that you want to download (you should probably choose the 32-bit version - unless you know that you should choose the 64-bit version). The download is fairly fast if you have a good connection but, either way, grab a coke and wait a bit. I will give you some install ideas based on either an Apple or Microsoft platform.

Install Options for Windows Users

Virtualized: if you have VMware Workstation or another virtualization product, you should be able to install Windows 7 as a virtual machine. Just follow the typical procedure for adding a virtual machine. If you need help with this, comment and I can provide further instructions.

Dual Boot:
You can install Windows 7 in addition to your current OS if you are willing to format your drive and partition. If you already have it partitioned, just format the none-OS partition and install Windows 7 there. For more on dual booting, just run a google search for help.

Install Options for Mac
Boot Camp: under this option, you simply need to launch the Boot Camp application under Utilities. Partition the HDD providing around 20-30 gb for the OS. You need to burn the .iso to a disk using the disk utility in the utilities folder. Put the disk in, open boot camp, select start installation process, and OS X will shut down and load the setup files. Just follow the instructions from that point.
Virtualized: It's very simple really. Just click on the "new" virtual machine option and install it as Vista. Use the .iso file to install (so you don't have to have a DVD) and make sure that you unselect "easy install." Besides that, you should be in business.

Short of the above two options, I would just choose not to mess with Windows 7 in Mac. It runs flawlessly in Fusion and I imagine (although I have not tried) it runs flawlessly in Boot Camp as well. If you don't have Fusion or Parallels, just go the Boot Camp route and it should work out just great for you.

Below I have included a screenshot of the copy I installed on Fusion. It works really well. You will notice that it looks a lot like Windows Vista. Its basically a glorified version of Vista - lighter weight, easier to use, etc. 7 also touts the new, albeit scaled down version of Superbar.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sad Steve

That ugly dude to the left is Steve... Sad Steve. He represents today's featured music site: (Special thanks to Sam for this site!) Sad Steve is another online music site. It is not like Pandora or PureVolume at all. Its not a radio site and its not an artist bio site (although the site does do featurettes on some bands). So what is it? Well, its a site where you can look up specific artists and songs and listen to them. So why would you use Sad Steve instead of Pandora or PureVolume? The answer lies in HOW Sad Steve works. Sad Steve indexes (just think of a library index) music on the internet. The index is large although not exhaustive. So what this means is that you can use Sad Steve to hear a song or artist that you want to listen to. Specifically. For example, on Pandora you search an artist and it brings back a song, specific to what you wanted or not, and plays it. Sad Steve allows you to play only the song you want. Obviously, comparing Pandora to Sad Steve is like comparing really tasty grapes "and really bad eggs" (respectively).

Either way, Sad Steve has its benefits.
  • You will notice that when you search for a song in Sad Steve and play it, a pop-up window appears. That window has a simple little media playing script that begins playing your song.
  • You will notice a list of links below said script: Download, E-mail to Friends, Lyrics, Album Art, Share on Facebook. Hmmm, those sound useful. Let's discuss them, last to first.
  • The Share on Facebook link, simply places a link of that song on your Facebook profile. I did this on my profile if you know me and want to see it in action.
  • The Album Art link is not useful.
  • The Lyrics Link shows the lyrics... kinda cool.
  • The E-mail link does what the facebook link does except through your e-mail address... that's kinda cool too.
  • The Download link downloads the song...
What? Downloads the song? Is that legal?

On that question, Sad Steve's "What?" page - basically its Q & A about page - states:
Q 3. Is this legal? Will I get in trouble for downloading?
A. Yes, the site is legal. Sad Steve works by indexing mp3 files from all around the Internet. So, for example, if the website for John's California Surf Club hosts a Beach Boys song, that file is indexed and made available to the you, the user.

No, you won't get in trouble for downloading. Sad Steve's traffic monitoring tools do not log users' IP addresses, physical addresses, e-mail adddress, or any of that garbage. In fact, there is no record anywhere in our system of what files are downloaded, how many times, or by who. So whether you download zero, ten, or a thousand songs, nobody knows.


The verdict: apparently yes and no... It is legal for them to index music on the internet. The strange things is that the site says its legal, then goes on to tell you how there is no way to monitor who uses it (i.e. who downloads from it). So... It legal for them to index the music, "yada yada yada" you can download to. My opinion: its legal to listen to the music. About the other stuff i don't know.

Check out Sad Steve and see if you like. Download some music if you like.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pandora - Online Radio

I am guessing that many of you readers out there have heard about Pandora. I hope that you have. Its not that new to me either - my friend told me about the site a long time ago. Either way, maybe you could use a refresher.

Pandora is the music Genome project - it's like, mapping the genes of like, music, and stuff. Less hippy, Pandora is a free online dynamic radio service that matches music you choose to listen to with other music that you like or are bound to like based on your tastes. How does it work? The service has a large database of music that has been classified according to artist, genre, sound, and other features that allows their servers to combine favorable music lists. It bases its information on information from thousands of users that provide a simple thumbs up or thumbs down on each song on a station.

The site is SUPER easy to use. It has a really clean look (not a ton of ads, simple design, good flow, etc). As I said, its free to listen and you don't need to setup an account. However, setting up an account is easy (requires simple information like e-mail, password, DOB, Zip) and once you set up an account you will be able to save "stations" that you made and continue to listen to them later. Basically, the site is brilliant!

This morning, in honor of today's post, I started a new station. I searched the band "Audioslave" and it pulled up a great song by the band. The next song was Pearl Jam, then Nirvana, Incubus, Audioslave (again), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bush, Foo Fighters, and on and on. Holy cow! Good Listening!! WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS SITE?! I would be bathing in coins, Ducktails style.

A good thing, by the way, is that you can advance to the next track on the station if you don't like a song. You should remember to rate the music that you hear (thumbs up or down) so that the server gets smarter and smarter and you get better and better music. THE BIG BONUS: you get to learn about music that maybe you didn't know you like but that you do! That's huge for all you stagnant music listeners out there! DYNAMIC RADIO is just what the doctor ordered. The only bad thing that I can think of is that it won't let you go back to previous songs. I kinda hate that. But oh well, small price to pay for brilliancy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Are you are Rock/Punk/Alternative fan? Want to find new bands? PureVolume is a site devoted to the discovery of new music. Here is what their "about" page says:

PureVolume is a website for the discovery and promotion of new music and emerging artists. Each artist has a profile that typically contains basic info, updates, photos, shows and music for streaming. Artists have the option of making each of their songs available for free download. Listeners and fans can also create profiles to interact with artists and each other, as well as track and share music they like.

I have used the site to find all kinds of bands that I currently enjoy. As stated above, the artists will commonly make their music available for free download. So you get to preview and keep some of the music that you find. The site is really for rock/punk/alternative fans so keep that in mind if you check it out. Don't expect to find Beyonce on there. Here is a link to a band that I just found using PureVolume: Dizzy Balloon.

The site has a polished design, good tunes, free music, and lots of music to listen to, so check it out!

Monday, January 26, 2009


We should be starting our Internet Browswer review series today, however, I need a little more time to refine my thoughts. In the mean time, I wanted to tell you about a site that I just recently found called According to the site's "about" page, LifeHacker is "an award-winning, daily blog that features tips, shortcuts, and downloads that help you get things done smarter and more efficiently. Lifehacker launched in January 2005, and now ranks as one of the top-linked blogs on the internet according to Technorati. In 2006 Wired Magazine named Lifehacker Best Blog in their annual Rave Awards ceremony. Lifehacker's also been mentioned in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine and PC Magazine as well as other mainstream press outlets."

Sound cool? Well it is. To find out why YOU think its cool, its probably best to just go there and check it out. The site provides a lot of practical, hands-on solutions to all kinds of problems and situations. They provide free downloads of applications that are fun and easy to use. They review other applications and provide brief tutorials on how to use them. Basically, I think the site is cool because its basically the kind of site I would make if I had the expertise, editorial staff, programming staff, and time that the makers of LifeHacker have.

So LifeHacker covers subjects that are typically computer related (e.g. Apple and Microsoft software, reviewing productivity software, even how to setup your own home server) but they also cover practical everyday life subjects like health, food, and entertainment. Here are 3 recent posts that I found very useful:

Five "Healthy Snacks" That Aren't
Download 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Free and Legally
Cold Remedies

Anyway, check out LifeHacker and come back and comment about what you thought.

Friday, January 23, 2009 and

Woot: is a discount site that uses the "buy now and save now" approach to selling its products. They sell products that are new and refurbished at well below market price. They must be able to get old stock from other sellers at very low prices and sell them at a margin. Either way, they sell inexpensive stuff. I have seen products from iPods to Vacuums to electronic helicopters to HDTV's. They sell anything they can get their hands on. The catch is that the products are only available during the day they are offered. They do not have an online catalog. However, some products, if they don't sell out, will find their way back to the site after sufficient time has passed. Anyway, check out

E-Cost: It was through Woot that I found (Woot lists great deals on the internet on the top right corner of their page). This site sells all kinds of electronics at very good bargains. I purchased an external hard drive from e-cost at a steal of a deal. The site usually has really good deals, but the best thing it has to offer is the "Bargain Countdown." If you go to the site and look at the top right hand corner area, usually on the menu bar somewhere, you will see a link to their bargain countdown. This is where they basically try to pressure you into purchasing something by telling you the bargain is counting down. Honestly, they typically continue to countdown the product until its out. But either way, they offer the products at amazing prices. Go to the site and see for yourself!

Up Next: A week-long mini-series on Web Browsers - Reviews, Add-ons, Tutorials, and more!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Turn The Lights Back On!

Hey everyone! Good news! The dull bulb is back in business (not that I ever made money from this foolhearty enterprise). After much soul searching I have determined to bring the dull bulb back into full swing (well, there was no soul searching, I just miss it and my wife told me that she misses it and that's enough to get me going again).

I'm not sure if it shows but I put a lot of time and energy into the blog. I try to put into it things that I enjoy learning about and that I find useful and/or entertaining. I realized (with the help of my wife) that many of the topics I covered in my previous regime were a little to "out there." What I want to try to do with my posts now is to keep everything SUPER practical. I am going to review websites and software that you can use. Additionally, I plan on providing some brief tutorials to provide you with hands on experiences if you so choose.

**Some things to notice after my most recent hiatus: check out the "What is the dull bulb" link for more info on what the blog is all about; check out the "about the author" link for information (updated) on me and my computer interests; look through some of my old posts that you will find categorized along the right side of the webpage (I organized them by topic); aren't the new colors pretty?; notice the "Shout Out" section on the right side of the page - you can contact me using that little diddy and give me your thoughts on the blog and give me ideas for future posts,