Retrieving Old Product Keys

Updating to a new computer for most people is exciting, but can also be a real pain. There are a number of things that you need to remember to do before moving on to a new computer. Important files must be backed up onto external devices so that content is not lost and can be easily transferred onto the new computer. In addition, files containing confidential and/or personal information should be deleted off of the old computer if you are getting rid of the unit. Once you have completed transferring and deleting your files, you will also have to reinstall all of your beloved programs onto your new computer.

Though there is no current software or programs that can help you to figure out which files you deem as important enough to backup and save, there is a utility that can help in the area of reinstalling software onto your new computer. A major part in reinstalling software is to come up with the product keys that are needed for each program instillation. However, if you originally installed the software sometime ago and no longer have the product key, finding or generating a new product key can be a hassle, especially when you must do this for multiple programs. Magical Jelly Bean’s Keyfinder is a great freeware utility that can ease the job of reinstalling all of your software. Though it has a silly name, the freeware is a keyfinder and is slightly magical.

The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder pulls the product key form almost any application. It is compatible with most all Microsoft Operating Systems such as, Windows ’95, ’98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008, Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2007 family products. Most other software keys can also be retrieved due to the community-updated configuration. This keyfinder is free, easy to use, secure, and can be downloaded directly from Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder website.

Organizing Your Picture Folders

Digital cameras have made taking pictures more convenient and cost effective then ever. However, the downside of this is that with the growing number of photos in people’s picture folders, many people are finding it hard to keep their thousands of pictures organized. So here are a few tips to help keep your photo folders organized and up to date.

If you are one of those people who drops all of their downloaded photos into one single folder, this needs to be a practice that stops today. You will never get any of your pictures organized if you have thousands of mixed up photos in a single folder. A good rule of thumb is to create a few broad folders such as, “Vacations,” or, “Birthdays”; then each time you upload new photos from your digital camera, create subfolders specific to a certain occasion within these broad categories. This will create broadly organized folders such as, “Vacation Pictures,” which contain more specific subfolders of pictures such as, “Disneyland 2008,” or, “Hawaii 2005”. Note that it is also a good practice to include a date (or at least a year) in the subfolder’s name. This will be of much use when searching though hundreds of different folder names within your library of photos. Creating a new folder and titling it appropriately initially takes a mere few seconds, but in the end will save you much time and effort when looking for specific photos.

If you want to go one step further, create a folder named, “Pictures to Order”. Any time you upload pictures that you would like to have framed or just want a hard copy of, paste a copy of the picture into this folder. Every few months you can upload the pictures accumulated in this folder and have them ordered to be printed or print them at home. Or you can create a folder named, “Photos for Digital Picture Frame,” so that every so often you can switch out the photos on your digital picture frame with new ones. If you don’t currently have a digital photo frame I would highly recommend buying one because they are a cost effective alternative to having photos printed. Also, if space is an issue for you in your home, digital photo frames have the ability to display many photos in one single frame. ViewSonic digital picture frames are a popular brand among consumers because of their trusted brand name and their reasonable prices.

Another good tip is to upload your photos often. This will make the task of organizing all of your pictures into neat organized folders less daunting. Uploading photos after each specific event or trip will decrease the number of folders you have to create each time, decreasing the chances for confusion over organization. Also, remember that each time you upload photos onto your computer you should backup the pictures onto an external hard drive or copy them onto a CD to ensure their longevity. It is important to prepare yourself beforehand for disaster, instead of whishing you had after the fact. After this is done you should clear your photo card and erase the pictures you just uploaded onto your computer. This will help to ensure that you don’t duplicate uploading your photos the next time you upload pictures.

If uploading duplicate photos seems to be a chronic problem for you, there is a freeware utility called VisiPics that can help ease your troubles. The user chooses which folders and/or drives to have VisiPics scan. Because VisiPics actually looks at the content of each photo searching for similarities in each image (instead of just sorting by file name) you can choose how precisely the filter searches for duplicates- anywhere between strict, basic, and loose can be selected. After the scan has been completed the duplicate pictures are displayed in a column on the left hand side of the VisiPics window. Duplicate photos can then be selected for deletion or be moved into a, “Duplicates Folder,” if you do not want to risk erasing any pictures.

Hopefully these tips will be of some use- even if you are not motivated to apply all of the concepts, just try to apply one. Having some sort of organization system over your growing library of photos will make enjoying your pictures much more pleasurable in the future.

Recycling Your E-waste

Many consumers would like to be green conscious, but regulations and fees often make recycling of e-waste inconvenient and costly. Manufacturer Recycling Management (MRM) is a company that is dedicated to the long-term goal of making manufacturers a part of the recycling process, and in-turn building convenient recycling systems for consumers. Founded by the industry leaders in green electronic programs, Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba, MRM has quickly been growing since the September 2007 start date in Minnesota.

Consumers of electronic goods are now able to drop-off and dispose of any e-waste at any of the 280 locations nationwide. So far there is at least one drop off location in every state (in most states there are two), but by 2011 MRM hopes to increase their locations to include 800 collection sites. Participation is open to all electronic product manufacturers, and currently includes 21 manufacturers and retailers participating in its program. There is no fee to consumers dropping off any of the participating company’s end-of-life electronics; however, e-waste produced by non-participating manufacturers is being accepted, though some of these products may have a disposal fee. MRM is committed to recycling the e-waste collected correctly; vowing not to use Federal Prison Industries (Unicor) or ship any of the waste oversees.

The ultimate goal of MRM is to bring manufactures together to build a collaborative e-waste collection infrastructure which will facilitate the sharing the of collection costs. In the end this should further motivate consumers to be more environmentally conscious when disposing of their old electronics. MRM is taking away the consumer’s excuses of “inconvenience” or “cost” as why they are not properly disposing of their electronic waste; which in the end creates a better situation for everyone.

Having the Best of Both Worlds

Apple_iMac2There are a number of methods for people owning Macs to run Windows OS. For most users’ needs, simply installing the Mac version of Office will resolve any problems. The instillation of Office will allow the user to employ programs such as MS Word and Excel. Files saved under Mac’s OS X Office are generally saved as the same format as files saved under Windows systems, however some differing features may make editing between systems challenging.

This, along with the fact that not all of the Windows applications are offered on the Mac version of Office (for example Access) and some gamers need to run their gaming software on Windows systems; some Mac users may want to have Windows operating system installed onto their Mac. This can be achieved in one of two ways.

The first way is to install Windows onto your Mac, giving Windows an entirely separate hard drive space from the OS X. To accomplish this, your Mac’s OS X already has a program to help carry out this instillation with little thought. The program is called Boot Camp Assistant, and can be found by clicking Finder à Applications à Utilities à Boot Camp Assistant. First the Boot Camp will determine how many hard drives your computer has; if there is only one, Boot Camp will set aside a portion of the drive for the Windows instillation; if there are more then one drive, Boot Camp will ask which drive (or portion of a drive) you would like to set aside for the instillation. Once hard drive space has been reserved, Boot Camp invites you to insert the Windows instillation CD. From here, Microsoft installer takes over and guides you step-by-step through the set-up process. This method allows you to switch between operating systems (OS X and Windows), however the computer must be rebooted each time you switch between systems.

The second approach to installing the Widows operating system on your Mac is to run Windows as an application under the OS X. This allows you to run OS X and Windows seemingly simultaneously- in actuality only a virtual version of Windows is being run as an application under OS X. These programs are a bit more costly then merely buying the Windows instillation CD, however many of these programs can be downloaded with little effort online and often offer reduced rate trials. Two recommendations for virtual Windows programs that can be downloaded online are Parallels and Fusion.

Generic vs. Name Brand Ink

Because of the sometimes high prices of ink cartridges, people often opt to buy generic brand inks or refill old cartridges. However these options may not actually be saving you money in the long run. Factors such as prints per-cartage, longevity of the prints, and quality of the prints actually may make buying name brand ink over alternative options a better choice for you.

For instance, HP claims that their ink will last twice as long as any refilled cartridge and that their cartridges are about five times more reliable then remanufactured toner. Additionally, companies such as HP often offer additional high end ink lines to increase the quality of your prints at home. HP’s Vivera inks are specially designed to give radiant colors, superior shadow detailing, and reduce image grain- all in order to deliver professional quality prints at home, especially when paired with HP Premium Plus Photo Paper. And yes, the brand and quality of the photo paper matter as well when trying to achieve the best quality prints. Because HP designs the printer, the ink, and the paper, the compatibility of this printing trio work together in harmony to deliver the best professional quality prints. Furthermore, the Vivera inks use dyes to enhance their colors rather than pigments. This not only guards your prints from fading for 108 years, but also enhances the print finish to be extraordinarily uniform, smooth, and high gloss when paired with high gloss photo paper.

Buying the ink specifically made for your printer by the printer’s manufacturer will insure quality prints every time. The ink is specifically designed to fit the specs of your printer, ultimately meaning that it is your printers best fit. So next time you are considering “cheaper” ink alternatives, consider factors that go beyond the absolute immediate monetary cost of the ink.

Why Should I Buy Refurbished?

When thinking about buying a new electronic toy, consider buying refurbished. Though many consumers are often detoured by this title, refurbished items are often a great cost-saving alternative to new. Unlike reconditioned products which frequently bear greater savings at a bigger risk, refurbished products have never been used, installed or repaired. A product having a refurbished title merely indicates that the product itself or its packaging has been renewed or updated in some way. There are many reasons for this “renewal” to take place, if: the product was returned unused, but with an open package; the exterior of the product or its packaging was damaged during shipping; the product was used for demonstrations; the product’s packaging was opened in-store; the product was deemed defective during production; the product was recollected by the manufacturer because of overstock. These products often need minimal work to repair damages implying minimal risk for the “renewed” product.

Also, buying refurbished offers benefits beyond the obvious cost savings advantage. Refurbished products are eco-friendly as well. When manufacturers refurbish products toxic waste is kept out of landfills. Replacing defective parts instead of scrapping entire units helps to reduce the estimated 4.6 million tons of electronic waste that are dispensed in the U.S. each year. This lessens the release of toxins such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury and arsenic from entering our landfills and environment. In this sense, buying refurbished products can be viewed as a consumer form of recycling (eCycling).

Now you must consider which refurbished product to buy, many factories as well as third parties offer refurbished units. Buying a factory certified refurbished product is probably your best bet, offering the benefits of being both cost-saving and being eco-friendly, while having the least amount of risk associated with the refurbished product. Because these products have been refurbished by the original manufacturer they are re-tested with the same standards as the original product and are often paired with better warranties. Also, the convenience of the internet makes finding available refurbished products simple. Online retailers such as can direct customers to refurbished products such as refurbished printers, monitors, LCD TV’s, and MP3 players. So when thinking about your next tech purchase, think economically and think green- consider refurbished.

Online Holiday Scams

The Better Business Bureau has recently sent out alerts warning consumers of the dangers of buying online. Usually a safe and routine process, many fraudulent sites are now popping up around the holiday season because of the increased business in the e-commerce world. These deceptive sites usually initially say that they accept credit cards, however when it comes time to place the order and pay, customers are faced with messages saying that something along the lines of, “…due to high rate of fraudulent activity,’ they would only accept a wire transfer from consumers”. This should be a red flag for any consumer shopping online. No internet retail site should ever ask you to pay for products using wire transfer. Unlike credit cards and PayPal, wire transfers offer no consumer protection from fraudulent retailers. Money is taken directly out of the consumer’s bank account and transferred to the fake retailer and goods are never shipped or delivered.

So when shopping online try and stay true to trusted and recommended e-tail sites; if ordering off a new site, do a simple search to find background information about the site and read customer reviews whenever possible; most larger well know sites have customer security pages which inform online consumers about the security of their sites- often noting that the site, such as, are secured with well know internet infrastructure services such as VeriSign Secure or McAfee Secure; trust your instincts, because if an offers sounds too good to be true, it is probably because it is; and finally, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER agree to pay with an wire transfer.

Stay protected this holiday season- Happy Holidays form!