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Endorfan is now at TrustedCTO.com  After years of html posting we decided to move our web site to Word Press and also create a domain that more accurately tells our story.  Find all the same great our Endorfan services at our new name:  TrustedCTO.

 

 

Endorfan's Technical FAQ: is being slowly converted to our new location: www.TrustedCTO.com/discussions 

On the web there is lots of good free tech support.  Unfortunately it is there is also an abundance of misleading marketing info and down right scams that have been very costly to some of our clients. So for a few years we have been using this page to collect the best safe and helpful solutions to common issues  creating a "safe zone" of free support tips.  The solution topics listed here are sorted by frequency that they come up.  To find something skim for a relevant question/topic in RED and review that area.  Each section contains links to safe (and mostly free) tools or relevant references and resources. 

 

Why is this site free:   This site is helps our clients help themselves.  This saves them money while it allows us to help more clients.  This philosophy has actually helped us build an abundance of business.  In a world where trust is rare.  Proving yourself trustworthy can lead to long term relationships.   Thank you for visiting. Se you in the future at: www.TrustedCTO.com/discussions 

 

1. My computer has gotten slower or has pop-ups or both. What should I do?  In short you need to clean it up.  A good place to start is to install update, scan and immunize with some good anti-Spy ware and anti mall ware programs.  We have found that the combination of... Continued in updates article:: Anti-virus and Anti-Malware, Friend or Foe? and  Why is your computer slow?  For further ideas on this same subject I like this Article:   "Help My Computer is Slow!"

 

1b:  Back Up your data and pictures etc:  A word of warning!  All hard drives wear out with little warning in 0 to 10,000 hours of use.  Meanwhile, viruses lightning, flood or fire can take your data at any time.  So plan for a hard drive failure and back up to another computer or a Thumb drive AKA Jump drive or USB Flash Drive is about $8.  A DVD is about 50 cents.  If data is valuable to you then you should plan to back up at least one per 5-20 hours you spend on your computer.  External USB/Firewire hard drives cost about $99 for 1TB.  But plan for them to also fail in 2,000-10,000 hours under power.  To protect your data keep them powered off when not in use or buy one that "Auto powers off" when not in use.  If you have multiple computers in your workplace consider a real File Server $1k-$10K or at least Network Attached Storage for $150-2500.  What is the value for your data?  If it is replaceable at all what is the cost of replacement?  Back it up or loose it forever!! Need an inexpensive back-up software?  I have had good luck with  SuperCool ZIP Backup For your most critical business data I would consider a web back up option like: SugarSync Mozy Dropbox or Carbonite  With a service like that your whole office can burn down and you still have what ever is backed up.  I believe in belt and suspenders on back ups so I believe in a local automated back up plus an off line back up. this way no single incident can separate you from your data.  Even with double back up systems you need to check from time to time to insure that the backups are successful and also include your important data.  Picasa or Google+ have great options for managing your photos and videos while providing cheep back up and sharing. EVERNOTE  and Dropbox are great cloud file storrage options for people who work on multiple devices like SmartPhone, tablets, iPads or computers. 

 

2. Is my Internet connection slow?  Could be. Best thing to do is spot check your current speed.  Here are 4 websites that do that.  Pick one that works for you.  Do not be surprised if results vary test to test as it is not an exact science.    SpeedTest.net SpeekEasy.net's Flash up and down ISP Speed Test Audit MyPC's Up and down Speed Test or CNet's Bandwidth Meter ISP download speed test. While internet service can be slow often the problem is a slow or overloaded database server from that website you are on.  Popular sites like my yahoo and FaceBook etc. can get over loaded and there is not much you can do about it.  Another relevant quality of service test is www.pingtest.net

 

3.  Does my computer need an upgrade?  If you are running windows XP or earlier then your money will go further with a $200 replacement (see New Computer or Tablet   If you are running XP Dell Optiplex then I would like to see a minimum of 1-2 GB of RAM .  To upgrade you need is compatibility information.  I use automated memory configurators from Crucial or manual configuration by model and local pricing from Tiger Direct.  Can't find your computer model?  Try  PNY to scan or search for compatible memory upgrade configurations etc.   Scan you computer for processor Upgrades with Power Leap Scanner or Manually at Power Leap Manual Search (may be limited to their products) In general these may be better tools for identification than tools for shopping.  But you can shop for lower prices on Google product search or eBay after you identify the specific part you need.

 

4. What is the best Computers for me to buy?   We are not hardware suppliers but do often guide purchasing decisions based on our experience with the costs of maintenance.  If you are buying a new home computer we recommend you wait WAIT.  Yes, WAIT as long as you can before you buy.  Prices go down quickly a few months after the latest thing is released.  continued at:  New Computer or Tablet  

 

4e. I found a used laptop at a local source.  Is this used laptop at a fair price?  A good place to rough price value research is this link to eBay’s Buy it Now Laptops.  Plug in your make & model number and RAM etc.   Create your own apples to apples replacement cost estimate.

   

4f. Used Desktop Computers I am a big fan of Dell Optiplex computers just off lease.  Optiplex are built to last and not built to compete on store price alone.  So when you consider cost per hour of use, it can be much more efficient to buy a refurbished Dell Optiplex computer.  A used Optiplex box is inexpensive, fast and reliable for $100-$400 with XP Pro depending on options not including, monitor ($5-300 depending on size and resolutions). Software, and configuration is also extra on a new our used computer.  If you buy wisely your savings can be so significant that you can keep a spare in waiting.  Some of my friends have 2-0r 3 spares on shelves just in case. Atricle updated at  New Computer or Tablet   

 

4g. Monitors TV's, blue ray players and media storage have converged into combo products.  If you are getting a new monitor we have found excellent values at  tigerdirect.comCostco, or Fry etc.   However if cost is important you should know that any used monitor manufactured in the last 10 years  will be compatible.   Be sure to test it and make sure the colors are not too dark and double check the label on the back for the manufacture date.  You can usually pay <$10 for an old basic monitor.   However, if the spirit moves you, buy a nice new wide thin 24-36"   (Be advised that buying a monitor online costs you over $30 in shipping so it is often prudent to find a local deal.  It if you get a tuner in your monitor and have 1920 x 1080 pixels or more this allows your monitor to double as a full HDTV.   I am partial to Samsung and LG.

 

5. Where can I get fair buys on GADGETS and Technology?

I Generally start at Amazon.com and read reviews and find great pricing.  I may contiuue at CNet Reviews  or ZDNet Reviews because they get us some more comparative research.  We often start with Google Product Search for product info and as a baseline for pricing values.  We rarely buy new stuff on eBay anymore because we often find better values and customer service through CNet or directly in favorite retailers like www.costco.com (great warrantees) on electronics  NewEgg (computer parts)  Fat Wallet  Cellphoneshop.net has great prices but ships slowly and has hit and miss quality. I have also posted a whole section below on Digital photography and Camcorders (if you scroll way down).

 

6. How Can I save money on Software? Of course the most appropriate software depends on your individual needs.  See Your Office Suite for 2014 and Standard Software We like Amazon.com or Google Product Search as find great pricing and access to OEM software here  If you have a student in the family you are probably also eligible for huge Educational discounts on Software.  Great Prices on  Ebay Software but 1st read BEWARE of USED Ebay SOFTWARE... 

 

7. Free software; is it safe?  Some times, yes but most free software are not safe.  Find safe links in the article: Standard Software

 

8. I have broadband.  How do I protect myself form Hackers?

I always recommend a Router firewall to keep your LAN and computers secure.  If it is wireless you should make sure you turn on WPA security.  If you do not have a hardware firewall is is essential that you turn on Software firewalls like the one built into MS XP SP3 Vista SP2 and Windows 7 sp1.  see Anti-virus and Anti-Malware, Friend or Foe?

 

For security as well as eliminating other common computer errors you should run your Windows Updates Just open Internet explorer, click on tools and select Windows Update.  Run your updates often.   Many of them are very important and they are free.  Broadband users should set the computer to download the updates automatically and Alert you to before you install them. This will keep you up-to-date without much hassle.  If you have never run your updates before there are dozens of updates you need.  As a matter of habit, we would install all updates and all security updates from Microsoft.  One small warning though.  Microsoft began pushing Internet Explorer 7 in late 2006.  I love it personally however if you are running older software like QuickBooks 2004 it will interfere with the intuit updates.  The good news you can easily rectify the problem by uninstalling ie7. 

 

9. Email and online issues:

9a. How do I avoid spam and email hoax problems:  Spam has many causes.  Most email addresses are actually harvested from all those chain letters and bleeding heart stories that tell you to pass the letter on to 10+ friends.  The reason these little gems get written so well is so that they can harvest all your addresses and send you spam. They prey on emotions so they focus on topics in safety, religion, politics, love, friendship, health, charity, national security, terrorism etc. so you feel compelled to forward them.  If you forward  these little gems to me you risk getting my response When you get a chain letter your find incredible it is probably not credible.  Look it up at: www.snopes.com , CIAC Hoax Busters or Urban Legends from About.com 

 

    Anyway, if you have too much spam you could change your email address but that is not your only option.   If the spammer or company is somewhat reputable but you just accidentally signed up for their spam Click the links that say "remove or unsubscribe."   However my favorite tool for dealing with Spam is upgrading to Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010 (also included in MS Office pro versions etc) or gmail for your email client.  The spam filters are amazing.  Go Daddy Web hosting and others have good email filters available on their WebMail solutions.  I have read good things about Spamfighter Email filter Free  These may also protect you from other scams like phishing.

 

9b. What is "phishing"?  Phishing schemes are attempts to steal sensitive personal information – such as passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. – through the distribution of fraudulent email messages. 

 

    All these phishing schemes have a standard MO.  A phishing scheme typically consists of an email message that appears to originate from a trusted source, but in fact is an attempt to obtain and exploit sensitive user information, such as login credentials for the targeted user's online bank account. Often, the message asks you to "update" account information (including credit card and checking account information, social security numbers, addresses, and telephone numbers). Most phishing scams instruct you to do so via a form in the body of the email. Sometimes, you will be prompted to click a link that appears to lead to an authorized Web site that belongs to a legitimate, trusted company.   As more and more communication and transactions are taking place online, phishing schemes and other attempts to steal sensitive personal information have become increasingly prevalent and innovative.  Phishing attacks against online consumers have become so widespread that an estimated 57 million Americans have received fraudulent email messages and 1.98 million may have fallen victim to the subsequent scams, resulting in approximately $1.2 billion in direct costs to U.S. banks and credit card issuers. (According to a study by research firm, Gartner, Inc). MS Internet Explorer 7 and grater have a highly rated fishing filter. For Mozilla Firefox you want at least version 3.0  If you are running an older version of a browser it is time to update it to a version with a newer phishing filtered version.  Also please help fight back against fraud.  Forward the suspected phishing email to: spam@uce.gov and reportphishing@antiphishing.org  

 

9c.  Protect yourself from online fraud. These eBay topics are basic security that everyone should know: Stopping online viruses, Deterring identity theft Avoiding fraud   Stopping spoof email & Web sites

 

9d. Should I use the email address from my Internet Service provider (ISP)?  No use Gmail for home email and your own domain for business email. ISP email addresses are provided to keep you with their service even when they become no longer competitive.  Lots of you are still afraid to dump AOL or your ISP because you do not want to change your email address.  For online web mail I like GMail from Google because of the free and full featured functionality and compatibility with MS outlook and other pop or IMAP email clients.  while I am not a big fans of free hotmail, msn or yahoo because they seam to lead people to spam, pop-ups and other software issues discussed on this page.  They also like to charge for things like using a more functional pop3 email clients like outlook express.  Further they are constantly promoting or tricking you into upgrades or unnecessary service fees.  One of the best features of a pop3 email client is your ability to use Outlook, Windows Mail (vista), Apple mail or Outlook Express.  Outlook allows you to keep a calendar and address book synced with your cell phone, maintain ,and save your email in folders on your local PC for offline access and back up to CD etc.  If you depend on Email for your work you should not risk using AOL, hotmail or AT&T Yahoo.   If you use any WebMail interface spammers can hack into your account without using your computer.  They just need to find you email address somewhere and then guess or hack your password.  Once in they can see your address book and send anything they want.  If you use any popular webmail interface like yahoo or AOL and email a spam email went out to your contacts then the best solution is a new complex password.  (Complex combines letters, numbers, other characters and capitol letters.  For example "pa$$w0Rd" is more complex than "password".   However, it should also be noted that E-mail spoofing can be used on any email address and it is next to impossible to protect yourself having you email spoofed.

 

9e. How do I buy my own Email domain?  You can probably own www.yourcompanyname.com with 1 email address with 1 GB storage for about $10 a year or $60 a year including web-hosting and email forwarding.  We often use www.godaddy.com as a Web Hosting Provider.  You do not need to maintain a website to own an email address like bertha@smithfamily.us   In fact we have unlimited free email aliases so if you want we can set up an email account for you for free like yourname@endorfan.com or yourname@naperthrill.org  we can work it out in trade.   We would auto forward this email to your current ISP email address.  If you use outlook or outlook express nobody has to know your ISP or how often you change it.  Then later when you change ISPs we just change the forwarding and berthaSmith@naperthrill.org email still gets to you at your new ISP.

 

9e. How do I email or text my kids People under 30 are not as tied to email as those 30-70 are.  They say:  "Email is for old people."  Over the next 20 years email may even may be replaced all together.  Younger people IM, text, and post on FaceBook or MySpace all day long.  Yet my typical 16 year old son only checks his email 3-10 times a year for his summer job schedules only.  The good news is that the new websites and  programs have built in "email" programs so you can just find their AIM or MySpace login and email them at login@aim.com etc.  If you want to send a text message to a cell phone but do not know the email address you can do that from IM programs like MSN Messenger  Also Outlook 2007 can now send SMS messages to any phone with Outlook Mobile Service

 

10.  Websites and Web hosting

For inexpensive simple Web Hosting we like: www.GoDaddy.com  It is also a good free place to research available domain names. Examples of GoDaddy hosted sites include: www.napervillejazz.org  www.centralsod.com, www.GlutensenReactivity.net www.ChallengersSoccer.com   http://blog.challengersSoccer.com  www.CentennialBeach.com  www.HonorRollcolleges.com   www.ppfac.com  www.belgios.com  www.premiumdrywall.net www.kbellertson.com and  www.stpaddysday5k.org

 

Tech support for a site is generally much less effort than creating all the interesting content on a ongoing basis.  Creating art for a site theme is generally a one time deal and photography is a separate issue.  Content or function drives the design when creating a site.  So for your 1st steps lets keep it simple.  Start writing a letter to a potential visitor introducing your subject, company whatever the site is about.  Answer the question: Why is this interesting? but also be sure to answer the other W's of Who What, When and Where.  Most of you are comfortable writing a letter on your subject so start from your area of comfort.  If you subject is at all complex then make a list of 10 questions visitors may have and the answers you may want to learn.  Finally review that and turn it into a motivation statement.  In other words, what is the compelling reason (s) that visitors would chose to come to your site and what surprise of valuable information will keep them there or keep the coming back?  Why do your best customers come to you?  Send any thank you letters or endorsements that you have received along to whom ever is helping with your content.  If you have a person who can write a good endorsement letter about you that could be part or all of the focus that drives your content.  It is certainly much more credible than a guy you paid to write nice things about you.  If your topic has multiple people who might have their own view point then consider creating a blog as part of your site.

 

Take a quick look at the websites and blogs for a common point of reference Examples of blogs are:  http://blog.challengerssoccer.com or http://blog.centennialbeach.com which are both tied to a domain home page like www.ChallengersSoccer.com.  Even more interesting than a blog is a social network site where your members are your content. 

 

If your website was part of internal group communications then running a campaign I would also want to allow people to register for email membership in your email or newsletter group. www.groups.google.com is free and has the functions you might want to use to manage internal campaign communications to “the group”.  It also allows you to manage who can post or even join with or without you or the group leadership's approval.  Google groups are free and  starting around $19/mo you can build nice HTML customer contact emails and a list with www.constantcontact.com some like this but I am not a huge fan.

 

11. Video-Conferencing and Entertainment:

 

11a. Teleconferencing. OOvu.. skype..  Laptops have built in webcams or you can add one to any computer for $10-100 depending on features.  Millions world wide use www.skype.com for free to teleconference. It is always free and normally higher quality than the old expensive services. However, I prefer a new product VisiMeet from IOCOM.    IOCOM has a free version of  VisiMeet  for conferencing up to 4 users.  It also allows you to share files and desktops.  (So I can use it to show you how to do something on your computer rather than talk you through it).  Also, it has encrypted security and group leaders at companies can upgrade for reasonable costs to host larger video conference meetings with 4-100 users or more.  IOCOM has all the advantages of skype but much more, IOCOM even connects to other services like POTS phones, IP cameras and even www.FreeConferenceCall.com   I have to ask:   If you have a cell phone do you really need a home phone?  When you are home why not just use your cell or  IOCOM from your computer or even a MagicJack

       

11b. Entertainment does not have to be this expensive. Many pay $200 a month to Comcast etc and then still go out to Movies.  One way to save money on entertainment content is to use free stuff.  Over the Air (OTA) HD broadcasts are free.  With a TV Tuner Card or PVR from Hauppauge  you can even save these and watch them later, pause, skip commercials, rewind etc.  Sony Blue Ray Players stream video from all all over the world and all over your local network to your TV.  You just browse thousands of categorized options with the remote. 

  

 

     Windows 7' media player and your xBox also offer entertainment options for free.  Services like Netflicks offer unlimited online entertainment packages starting at $15 a month.  So why am I paying $180 for premium cable TV again?   That is $2100 a year.  The same $2K goes a long way when it comes to internet subscriptions services and building my own Computer DVR/media server.    This year I have a goal to boost my internet bandwidth and eliminate the rest of my cable bill.  Sure, I will invest part of the savings in my own media server hardware but the payoff should be fast.  Want to cut the cord all together on cable and DSL?  I did try  Clear Network WiMax it is really fast an reasonable but they have no signal at my house.  I am sure there are people who have gone to Clear and told Comcast good bye!

 

12. Telephone savings with VoIP  

12a. VoIP the Good: Starting in about 2007 one of your biggest opportunities to save money is on your telephone services with Voice Over Internet Protocol or VoIP.  VoIP piggy backs your phone service on the bandwidth of your high speed internet service.  There are many options reviewed at VoipReview.com   Our home phone bill used to be $80/month but we had lots of features.  Yet there are voice over internet protocol (VOIP) providers that offer unlimited long distance and local calling for $10 a month.  Others talk with skype or  MagicJack for free.   We have been on Joiphone (unlimited local and long distance package) for 2 years and renewed on a special for $138.80 a whole year. Without the promo it would have been $250 a year.  Not a bad deal when you factor in all their extra services bundled in the package.  Service and quality has been quite good for me.  A friend of mine had a worse experience as he received a different phone adapter than I did.  I have the Linksys SPA-2102 which handles QoS (quality of service) issues.

 

12b. VoIP the Bad: A couple years ago I had a poor experience with Sagevon VoIP customer service.  They advertised lots of features I wanted for just $18 a month.  I paid for a year of service and I thought I was home free.  This is when I learned how bad customer service can be.  Customer service can be the down side of the VOIP industry.  Read my story about Sagevone aka Sage Communications and choose your VoIP carefully, take a free trial or references and recommendations when possible.  Definitely there is little correlation between price and quality or service.  Just because you pay more does not mean you get more.

 

12c. VoIP the Ugly: I have also not yet found low prices or good features from our local ISP's or Vonage who heavily advertise and gained early market share with their VoIP Solutions.  I have found that many of these great marketers charge well over $30+ a month for one line and can afford lots of marketing money.  I have also have found that many services bundle hardware in with their monthly bill or charge a set up charge to cover hardware.  Unfortunately the hardware is often not easily used for a competitor's VoIP Service. So VoIP is can be great but shop carefully.  Marketers often charge much higher than $15 a month or their advertised prices and use strategies of hardware rental, fine print or expired promotions to raise your rent!  Even the best providers will change your prices so be careful especially at renewal time.  JoiPhone wanted to charge me $426.51 to automatically "renew" at an inflated price.  I ended up paying them $138.80 instead.

 

12d. VoIP related topic: Voice Quality QoS: Most consumers report better sound quality with VoIP in general.  However others have Quality of Service (QoS)  issues resulting in dropped calls or lack of service especially when their computer takes the band width for popping an email account etc.  We were initially impressed with the sound quality and freedom of the packet8 business phone systems.  However, others experienced that the ISP and the installation and networking hardware makes a huge difference in (QoS)   When reading reviews of the VoIP system consider that Tech Support is a huge variable in that industry.  There are routers and configurations that will solve many QoS problems.  Give the tech support people at your VoIP provider a call BEFORE you buy!  If they ignore you and you are still having trouble give us a call at 815-377-2380 or send me an email here.

 

12e. VoIP related topic: VoIP Hardware:  You will need some hardware to make VoIP work.  You could choose an one of these 4 strategies:

1. Just a microphone and speakers or a headset attached to the sound card of your computer.  Costs $3-40 unless you have them.

2. A Webcam with mic  (costs $15-90) for ree video calling.

3. You can buy a Skype phone. Through: Skype, NewEgg or eBay (Costs $20-80)

4.  I bought this VoIP gateway which connects all my existing old analog phones in the house to my network's router.  (costs $60)

5.  Wait until somebody wises up and retails an "all-in-one Cable modem/router/ VoIP gateway."  This should offer the best QoS and the best automatic recovery from internet and power outages.  Unfortunately I have had to install 3 separate devices to do the jobs. 

 

13. Voicemail and Fax Time and Money Savers

For enhancing your phone service you might consider getting a free unified communication phone number from Google Voice

You can not beat the price and may use it to add Cadillac services to your existing bargain phone services.  Google Voice includes: call forwarding, follow me, voice to text, customizable greetings and even program who reaches you and who does not.  It is one local phone number that rings different other existing lines based on who's calling who's calling. Use it to create a business line, screen unknown callers, hear why someone is calling before taking the call, record calls on the fly and access recordings online or Block Callers. Receive voicemail notifications via email or SMS. Personalize your voicemail greetings by caller or group. Choose ring back tones for your callers CallSwitch enables you to switch phones, say from your home to your cell in the middle of a call.  Mobile Access Visual voicemail for your mobile phone.   Finally a "Web Call Button"lets people call you from a web page without showing your number.  Go ahead. Click and see how it works.

   

For eliminating your fax or voicemail only lines we use MAXEMAIL.COM Maxemail has an awesome $24/year "Lite Plan" version for fax and voicemail (hidden on their web page amongst more expensive options).  The Lite Plan gives you an 815 phone number that converts voice or fax and connects through up to 25 email addresses your email and text messaging.  MAXEMAIL allows you to eliminate your fax line and get instant notifications of your faxes and voicemails.  If you use a fax through web or email service you may consider installing any old cheep scanner for sourcing your fax from paper. However, if the document you want to fax is on your computer you do not need a scanner to send it.  To saver printing and ink some people just forward their existing fax line to their MAXEMAIL number  other people just realize that fax is a slowly dying technology. 

 

15. Photo and Streaming Video Sharing  

15a. Photo Sharing: Picasa by Google: Picasa is great because it is fast simple to learn and functional.  It is not perfect but a good place for a beginner to start and maybe even stay long term. At  http://picasa.google.com/  You get 1 GB free storage per email address and you can choose the resolution and or compression to be applied for photo sharing. For a great 38 min tutorial see   Picasa Basics Webinar or to create a web album:  Create Picasa Web Album   Also Back up Digital Photos to Web Albums for Free!   Great videos that show how to use Picasa.  The 1st one is great but a little long  Picasa Basics Webinar  38 min - Nov 24, 2009 - Uploaded by PicasaCommunity   New to Picasa? Want to learn how to edit and organize your photos? The Picasa team, along with Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour ...  youtube.com - Related videos Google Picasa 2: Video Tutorial Part 1 - the Basics  The second one is shorter but not as involved.

My Picasa account: http://picasaweb.google.com/jensign1

cid:5251259863711180721

Picasa photo sharing example:  

Benedictine @ ELmhurst   2008 View Album   Play slideshow

 

15b. Photo Sharing other: SnapFish  is great for printing photos at about $0.15 per 4x6 at your local Walgreens.  I have a SnapFish  account for sending photos to anybody’s local Walgreens but use www.costcophotocenter.com for my own printing.  I like the SnapFish feature called “Group Room” that allows several people with different passwords to upload to the same place.  For example: http://prairiesaints.snapfish.com.   If you get another user to join with your invite you get another 20 prints free (so please use my link above).  There is no space limit so you do not have to compress or reduce photos before you upload them. As I said it is great for printing photos but if you want to share the photo files they charge $0.50 per photo!  So if you want to download then browse 200 original photos files Ouch!

 

    Other services are more cost effective for file sharing.   I have had good results from Photo Gallery Web Sites like FotoPic.net which has more functions but is therefore more complicated.  At FotoPic.net the 1st 250 MB per email address is free.  For a few bucks you can increase space. See example galleries:  http://nnhsgt.fotopic.net http://nngcc.fotopics.net  http://challengers.fotopic.net   There are other reputable “free” photo gallery websites including:  http://photos.msn.com, http://www.kodakgallery.com/ and http://www.photoaccess.com.  Finally don't forget that a blog author can probably upload a few photos for free on your blog.  Sometimes less is more when you have a couple of really good photos"

 

    For a small budget I see impressive things done with a  ".Mac web gallery" Just $100 bucks a year includes 10 GB of storage, advanced web hosting functions like automatic web back ups and a lot of cool features.  A great example is:  Saints football photos by Alex Metzen   Also several people can share an account (with your permission) so that brings the cost down.  Dot mac also offers lower cost options and free trials. 

 

15c. Free Video Streaming YouTube is very popular but has it's limits in size, length, quality, format and even content.  On the other had one of the most surprising values is the free streaming video services offered through OurMedia.org to post free streaming videos Click for Samples . They allow you to post your creation of any size forever for no cost. Also they convert your video to multiple streaming formats for free.  They are perfect for adding video to your blog or website for almost no cost.   They have features for photos and copyright free music too but I have not used that feature.  If you have interest in editing video they are a must join.  Vimeo.com is another rising star in video streaming.  This sample is a good reason why.

wingsuit base jumping on Vimeo.

15d. Software to manage edit or slideshow your Photos.  Some such software probably came with your camera and some came with your CD/DVD burner or computer.  For burning Music photo slideshows to DVD I prefer PhotoDex Pro Show with Nero Vision Express in second place but some friends use Roxio.

 

For photo editing we like ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5.5 because it comes free with most Canon optical products and it has a simple one page under help that tells you how to use all the tools.  Or you can also use one or more of the following:

·         Nikon View: http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/win/19659

·         Picasa: http://picasa.google.com/index.html

 

16. Digital Cameras: Digital Camera's are a specialty category that change constantly and require research.  We like www.dcresource.com because they offer independent in-depth expert hands on reviews and sample media on most popular digital cameras.  Our second source is CNet Reviews.

 

17. Camcorders:  Start research at C-net Camcorder Reviews   If you are looking at a low cost and small webcam for YouTube consider a new the Sony flip.  Looks interesting but cheep and low res.   On the expensive side, if you want a high end Hi Def 1080p camcorder.   Look for a CMOS or 3ccd optical sensor and HDMI connection if you want the best.  These match a high end HDTV nicely so they will be the next standard for color and clarity.  They cost the $900-$7,000 but are better than the $100,000 TV cams from 15 years ago.

 

For a low cost but high quality option price any highly rated Mini DV camcorder.  It will be easy to edit with its standard ieee 1394 firewire connection.  I have a 5 year old cannon and works OK. This older canon camcorder has still features like a 1 mega pixel burst mode that help you capture the right frame and delete the bad ones that missed the perfect split second.  (kid with eyes open and a smile or kid with ball on the end of the bat).  Those fleeting moments make the photos way better.  I do not like the DVD camcorders for editing. Face it nobody takes 30 videos that are interesting right out of the box.  They are hard to connect to a computer, are lower resolution recorders and over priced.  Consider a HDD camcorder instead if you have a $3-500 budget.

 

Finally on the older camcorders that are used most have 4:3 aspect ratio while today’s TV’s are all 16:9   This is also important to consider as memories will out live the older 4:3 format. 

 

18.  Example of creating and sharing an Internet Calendar for a sports team etc. iCal ics or shared Google calendar.  Outlook, iPhone, Android etc.  Click here. IN the past I tried options like www.airset.com with varied results.  On the upside Airset has many features, options and great security.  On the down side for basic volunteer users those options and that security make s system that is too complex for most volunteer organizations. 

For volunteer and sports team communications I am very satisfied with the combination of:

     a. a WordPress or open access team blog.

     b. a Google group for managing email communications.

     c. a shared Google calendar for sharing updates between members and their various devices.

     d. a photographer with a picasa account for sharing photos and videos.  See #15 above

 

More?  Wow you are a glutton for punishment!  If you have a great tip or a question?      at (630) 445-1586 or boost your performance by writing  boost@endorfan.com

 

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