Magic Jack Go review

Currently I have Ooma for a home phone service. They have great reviews and overall ratings on Amazon. I also have had great service with them. As a premier, they have an Android app with unlimited minutes (i.e. a cap does exist somewhere, just like with Magic Jack). But I noticed that Magic Jack has great reviews on Google Play. It’s time to give that a try off of Amazon.

The first thing is to figure out how to activate it. Unlike Ooma or Obihai devices that are detected off the router, Magic Jack doesn’t work like that. I’ve tried it and it didn’t work. But this YouTube video is very good and I followed the steps.

But there are two problems I ran into. I like to emphasize that you should first research the problems on Google or Bing. Enter the right keywords or phase. Don’t chat with the Magic Jack chat, as you might find the answer yourself much easier. Let’s look at my two problems.

  • After I went through the PC activation process, I plugged the Magic Jack into my router. But I was getting a number 1 – no Internet connection message – via the phone. Now it was time to try an experiment. The Ethernet cable that came with Magic Jack is flat. My Ooma device is also connected to my router – no problem. What is the problem?  It was time to substitute a standard cable I had lying around. It was round in diameter – not flat like the Magic Jack cable. Now I had Internet connection. My advice? Use another standard cable to substitute for the Magic Jack provided one. If you don’t have one, go to Walmart, Target, Myers, Sam’s Club or Costco and buy one.
  • The second problem was aloud humming noise that occurred – after a few hours. But a Google search came up with articles at Magic Jack humming noise 1 and Magic Jack humming noise 2. The answers they suggested centered around grounding. Time for an experiment. First I tried plugging the Magic Jack into different outlets – no change. Then I swapped the cordless phone from Ooma for my Magic Jack. Then I hooked up the corded phone into Ooma. Ooma now had the humming noise and Magic Jack was fine. The answer was to go to Walmart and purchase a Vtech cordless phone for the Magic Jack. Problem solved.

I’ve made some communication tests with the Ooma, Magic Jack and Google Hangouts dialer app. The quality is quite good, but I also run the VOIP phones off a hi-speed cable setup. Ooma premier has many more bells and whistles then Magic Jack. But Magic Jack is not bad, if you follow the steps I recommend. The only issue with the Ooma app was there was no end call button.  Support had me uninstall and install it.  I think they should have it available as an update – like other apps.

Anyway, here is a tip. When you access Facebook, web, etc. at home, you are going off the mobile network and chewing away at data caps. When they are reached, the data is then throttled (i.e. slowed down). If you have a router and set up a home network, the cell phone can connect to it at home. So if you connect to your home WiFi (or public WiFi with a VPN app), it uses that to connect to Internet, etc.

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Windows and free software

 

Windows mobile

Windows mobile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back, I wrote about my problems with Ubuntu and Windows. It was entitled Problems with Ubuntu and Windows 7 on same machine. Now I was left with a choice – either run Windows or Ubuntu by itself. So I opted to run just Windows, as it was already installed.

Now I’m not anti- Windows, anti-Linux nor Anti-Apple. It’s just with Mac stuff, I don’t have any experience with it. But for now, I will stick with Windows and a paid security suite. I feel that the paid security versions are a bit above the free ones. I recommend the site Filehippo and installing their update checker.

But most folks need a word processor and Excel sheet solution. They also need a solution to read Word documents – in Excel and Word. For a viewer, I recommend installing the Kingsoft office suite. It associates itself with all the Microsoft office suite document types. But for real work, you can’t beat Libre Office. The license agreement of Open Office allows Libre Office to include any features Open Office creates – but not the other way around.

For zip files, I use Peazip. It’s an active project and constantly being worked on. I also believe it uses some elements of 7-Zip.

VLC media player for playing sound and video files. Audacity is used as a sound editor and recorder. Both are great tools.

Skype is still my preferred communication tool – even though it is owned by Microsoft. It’s free and you know it won’t have conflicts with any Windows supported operating system. If I was looking for an alternative, then I would choose Google Hangouts.

For browsers, I prefer Firefox and Google Chrome. But I also have Opera installed, should I ever need it. I do believe that internet Explorer is a good browser. I just prefer the open source versions and the developed extensions.

I really need to plug Malwarebytes as a good scan tool. Each week, I do a quick scan with both my paid security suite and Malwarebytes. Of course, I don’t run them at the same time. I think that between the two tools, they can detect any problem that comes your way. And if you send any email attachments to the Virus Total scanner, it should ensure you are clean.

For a mail client, nothing can be Thunderbird. You can configure all your email accounts with it and handle your mail with one tool.

Then there’s the Java Run time Environment. While there are open source alternatives, I still go with the one from Oracle. Sure, it’s not open source. But you have a big company behind it and it’s very stable and often being developed.

Anything else? Sure. If you run a Mac, then I would also install File Hippo update checker and get software from their site. Why pay either Microsoft or Apple for software, when you can get either a free and/or open source alternative?

Problems with Ubuntu and Windows 7 on same machine

 

English: Picture from Ubuntu Developer Summit ...

English: Picture from Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric on Budapest, Hungary Español: Fotografía del Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric en Budapest, Hungría (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a laptop running both Windows and Ubuntu. It’s referred to as a dual boot. For Ubuntu, I was running 12.04 LTS. There was an offer to upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. It sounds reasonable. Now I do back up my machines to an external drive each week. This way, if there were a problem, I could revert back to a previous version.

 

I did install 14.04 LTS, which took about six hours or so. When it finally completed, I got this error message: “Upgraded to 14.04 reboot fail.” Fortunately, I’ve learned to search Google for error messages and see what tech forums teach me. In this case, the discussion at Ubuntu Forum There was one answer and involved interrupting the Ubuntu boot process. Then you had to use a tool called the Grub manager and change all read to read/write occurrences.

Guess what? That worked! But then problems occurred when I permanently changed all occurrences from read to read/write, in the configuration file. There was no occurrence of read in the temp configuration file. I had to change this in the permanent configuration file, which is not recommended.

To make a long story short, this worked for Ubuntu. I could bring up 14.04 LTS with no problem. The problem was one the windows side. For one thing, the time and date display was showing midnight, for the next day. Windows couldn’t find Java on the machine. There was also a few other problems.

Anyway, I thought I would see if Windows could be fixed. If so, I would abandon Ubuntu and run just Windows. After all, I do run mostly freeware or open source on Windows – except for a paid security suite. Otherwise, I use tools like Pea Zip, Libre Office, and VLC video player.

The biggest issue was the Java run-time environment. I first tried to install the sixty four bit version and it took several minutes. Windows couldn’t find the run-time environment, even after the install completed. So I thought I would reboot and try to install the 32 bit version. I tried this twice. For some reason, it worked on the second install. I don’t’ know why. Perhaps Windows takes a few reboots, in order to accomplish this.

I think the root issue was that Ubuntu didn’t configure the upgrade for those who used the Ubuntu Windows installer on 12.04 LTS. Sorry, Ubuntu. I do like your product. But now Windows has made it harder to duel boot with Linux systems. For now, I will run Windows and a paid security suite solution. But I will use the same open source products you find on Linux, as long as they are popular, supported and have a Windows version.

I really can’t say why Java was such a problem. But if someone has a cheap computer with Ubuntu as the sole operating system, I wouldn’t mind adding it to my home network. After all, I might want to open file attachments that are questionable, in a secure sandbox. But only after every anti-virus tool at Virus Total, flags everything as sound.

I can build Health Care Dot Gov Faster and Cheaper with LAMP

I think ABC News mentioned that the system government health care website cost 400 million to implement. I heard other reports of three hundred and fifty million. If they used the open source LAMP software (i.e. Google Wiki article – it’s Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), it would be easy to add additional servers to a server farm… I would be happy to do this and hire the right people to build and debug it. I’ll keep whatever is left from the 350 – 400 million.

PHP Rock Stars

PHP Rock Stars (Photo credit: RichardBowen)

I heard that the program team only had 2 weeks to test the system. They did request several months. I have to agree with the programming representatives. Two weeks is not enough time to test a system that is used in several states and also the federal level.

I still insist that you can run a LAMP (i.e. Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) combination much lower that 400 million dollars. In fact, if you gave me a budget of 400 million, allowed me to build it upon LAMP and hire my own experts – it will cost far less and be much sounder and bug free. I understand that Yahoo runs on MySQL databases. How often has that crashed? And I would also be able to have support contracts in place, to resolve any open source issues.

But they hired a firm with the name “federal’ in it. I wonder if they farmed things out to India and 3rd world countries and kept the profits for themselves?

Let’s look at a definition here from LAMP definition 1

“LAMP stack is a popular open source web platform commonly used to run dynamic web sites and servers. It includes Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Python/Perl and is considered by many the platform of choice for development and deployment of high performance web applications which require a solid and reliable foundation.”

The underlying is mine.

Let’s look at another definition at LAMP definition 2.

“Short for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, an open-source Web development platform, also called a Web stack, that uses Linux as the operating system, Apache as the Web server, MySQL as the RDBMS and PHP as the object-oriented scripting language. Perl or Python is often substituted for PHP. “

While they say you can substitute Perl or Python for PHP, I would choose the scripting languages in this order:

  • PHP
  • Python
  • Perl

I have worked with all three in the past. This is the order I would choose, with PHP being the scripting language of choice.

I would also pick a commercial implementation of LAMP, such as Ubuntu or Red Hat. And I would do things like buy the MySQL enterprise edition at MySQL website.

Image representing Wappalyzer as depicted in C...

Image by None via CrunchBase

How many screens are in the site? How can they justify the huge price tag? I decided to plug the site into Alexa on October 25, 2013, at Alexa. It mentioned that the daily page view per visitor is 6.49, the bounce rate is 20 per cent and the average time on site is 6 minutes and 7 seconds. I also notice some traffic from India and Canada, leading me to suspect these two countries host the developers.

If you go to Wappalyzer, they have browser extensions that tell you the software running – at least, on the front end. For example, at Turnkey LAMP Stack – Web Stack (MySQL) , you can see they run Debian and PHP. But at government health care website, I only see Apache, the back bone java script framework, and JQuery, and Optimizely.

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Infinity WiFi and Dual booting HP laptops – Windows and Ubuntu

Infinity WiFi and Dual booting HP laptops – Windows and Ubuntu

Margie's Ubuntu shirt

Margie’s Ubuntu shirt (Photo credit: nederhoed)

Let’s start with Infinity WiFi. I heard about this service from a Comcast TV commercial. Since I do use Comcast Internet, it’s a good, free addition. If I put in the my home address zip code on their website, there’s about 10 locations I can go to. My guess is that the addresses represent businesses using Comcast . They can then pass this service on to Comcast customers at no extra charge. What I do is drive to a couple local addresses and confirm this.

My HP laptop used to run only Windows 7. Now I’ve added Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to the mix, using their automatic installer. Everything worked like a charm. There’s a couple of good articles to look at:

A good article is the Top 5 anti – virus for Ubuntu at the Top 5 anti – virus for Ubuntu. I’ve installed AVG and ClamAV . On the Windows side, I run Norton Security Suite, with Malwarebytes and SUPERAntiSpyware as backup scanners. The problem with the article is that AVG doesn’t have a Gui for Linux. You need to look at the Ubuntu doc on AVG at the Ubuntu doc on AVG. Since none of these really operates with real time scanning capacity, it’s OK to install more than one.

Also look at 10 Things to Do After Installing Ubuntu 12.04 . The most important takeaway is this: “Ubuntu 12.04 may be hot-off-the-press but that doesn’t mean a few last-minute bug fixes aren’t waiting for you already.” I had quite a few updates to apply.

The article recommends Google Chrome for flash. I have installed the Flash plug-in and Google Chromium instead. A couple other good browsers to install are Opera and Slim Boat, as they are backed by software companies. Slim Boat is made by the same company that operates Slim Browser, which using the IE engine in Windows. This browser operates great in Windows 7. It’s much faster and more feature rich than the IE 10 browser.

 

Windows 7 Workstation

 

For Java, I have installed the OpenJDK, along with the Iced Tea Java plug-in. In Windows, I use the Oracle JDK instead. The other two important items installed are the VLC media player and Gimp photo editor.

I’m not sure of the future of dual booting. It might be limited by the hardware. There’s an article entitled Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows and Ubuntu. I hope that the dual boot process continues to be available. It’s much easier if you get the PC with Windows installed on it. Then you can use one of the simple methods mentioned. There’s a YouTube video entitled Dual Boot Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) and Windows 8.

I have played with both 13.04 on my Desktop and 12.04 LTS on my Laptop. I think I’ll stick with the LTS version.

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Linux Desktops, TweetDeck death, Yahoo work theory and Blu Ray firmware

Linux Desktops, TweetDeck death, Yahoo work theory and Blu Ray firmware

Linux Desktop mess

 

Unity

 

 

In The Linux desktop ‘mess’ , it has this to say about desktops:

“My theory is simple (and it’s one I’ll probably get blasted for):”

“The whole “mess” centers on GNOME 3 and Unity. They are the two key players in the battle. If you think about it, it’s not that GNOME 3 and Unity are all that different — it’s that they took on one of the favorite desktops (what is now called Classic GNOME) and radically altered it. So users of GNOME 2.x are forced to use something new and change the way they work.”

This sounds great in theory, but it will fair dismally in reality. They are really in two different camps. Let’s just look at something like OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Both got their start from Oracle.

LibreOffice differed with Oracle and started an open source model, at some junction point. They used an Oracle base to start with. Then Oracle donated code to Apache, because they wanted to get out of the OpenOffice business.

So far, LibreOffice has made significant advances in releases made. They are also what comes standard with most – if not all – Linux distributions. Would OpenOffice join the LibreOffice camp – or vice versa? Hardly.

Is it a mess that there are two major competitors in office productivity suites? Or for that matter, two major Linux desktop GUIs?

As an aside, I found it interesting that Oracle purchased MySQL.

Death of TweetDeck

TweetDeck

TweetDeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the longest time, I’ve hated the tool. It always needed an update – either Adobe AIR or TweetDeck itself. Then it had that horrible noise associated with it. I heard it was going away, which made me embrace HootSuite instead. It’s a great tool.

But they are continuing to work on TweetDeck – just a web-based version. There’s now a Chrome extension. The one element I use is mentions. I can see if anyone is communicating with me or mentioning my name.

On the other hard, HootSuite allows posts to a Google+ business page. It’s a great addition.

On the Yahoo work front

I get this newsletter from a person with the first name of Dianne. Here’s what she shared recently, on the Yahoo work from home recall:

“Ive got a third theory that I have not seen anywhere. Before I put it out there, recognize that I have no insider knowledge and don’t even work in the IT industry.”

“Now here goes: Yahoo wants to prevent employees from taking on outside freelance and consulting assignments in addition to their work at Yahoo.”

Interesting theory. It might account for some folks. But it’s probably not the main reason.

RCA tech support

USB flash drive

USB flash drive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Interesting. I wanted to update my RCA blu ray player. So I called a couple RCA customer service and tech support people. I needed to confirm my understanding.

One told me not to use USB flash drive and plug my machine directly into an Internet source. The only problem, he didn’t tell me if I needed a modem and/or a router to go between my Blu Ray player and the Internet source. Luckily, I knew the answer already.

The other guy told me to use a USB drive. I had to probe him about the direct online connection. Personally, I think that option is the best. After all, there’s less change of human error. You can get the wrong firmware from a website. Perhaps you pick the wrong model or version number.

You could just follow the YouTube advice at Abt Electronics How-To Guide: Updating Your Blu-Ray Firmware

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What to do if you PC is compromised

The problem

linksys voip

linksys voip (Photo credit: everdaniel)

A few days ago, I got this message:

  •  LinkedIn
  • REMINDERS
  • Invitation reminders:
  • From Jackie & James Bodnar (Software Engineer at BEA Systems, Inc.)
  • PENDING MESSAGES
  • There are a total of 3 messages awaiting your response. Go to In Box now.

Now I put my cursor over the URL link – it did say LinkedIn [dot] com. But I wasn’t taken to a browser window. I open my messages in the Mozilla Thunderbird client. While the URL showed LinkedIn, the bottom of Thunderbird showed something else entirely. I’ve been compromised.

Either one of two things happened:

  •  The culprits placed something into my system
  • The culprits secured a vital piece of info – like a password.

Here’s the steps I took:

Check for something in the system

LinkedIn

LinkedIn (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

  • I have WinPatrol running in the background. Nothing popped up that a program had changed and needed my approval. This is a good sign.
  • It was time to run a quick scan with Norton Security Suite and Malwarebytes. Neither software package came up with anything.
  • The fact that I run my computers behind a Linksys router and a Norton firewall gives me some added layers of protection.

Check that something was extracted

  • I did a Google search for the stuff following the question mark, from the real URL. It appears to access an IP address, The solution was to reboot the router and cable modem. This insures a new dynamic IP is generated.
  • It was also time to clean up any temporary files. In Windows, this can be done with either CCleaner or BleachBit.
  • As a precaution, I do keep the latest stable application software loaded, as well as having Windows 7 up to date.
  • The final thing I did was to contact the company where the malicious software was hosted. It was some pharmaceutical company in India. The Web of Trust broswer plug-ins gave them a bad rating. I don’t expect to hear back from them. But I did use their contact tab and explained the sistuation.,

What about Ubuntu?

 

Select-Ubuntu-Character-Map

 

 

What about it? Suppose this happened when I booted the Ubuntu software? I learned a few things since my Ubuntu post last week.

  •  For one thing, Ubuntu has a software updater. It pays to upgrade the software daily, so you have the latest and greatest stable offerings.
  • If given a choice, it is probably better to run with a solid open source alternative. So I choose Chromium over Google Chrome, OpenJDK over Oracle JDK, ClamAV and associated software (i.e. daemon) over things like Avast or Bitdefender, etc.

Feedback

If anything was really compromised – like my mail accounts – I would hear from the providers. This is especially true of companies like Microsoft, Yahoo or Google. So far, I have heard nothing.

Take-aways

Here are some take-aways or lessons learned

Windows

  •  Always run the latest version of WinPatrol
  • Have a good anti-virus solution like Norton Security Suite. There are some good free alternatives like Avast, AVG, Avira or Windows Security Essentials
  • Always look for the underlying URL of an “official looking” email.
  • Use a mail client like Windows Live Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Run your computers behind a good router, like Netgear or Linksys.
  • Clean up temp files with tools like Ccleaner or Bleachbit
  • Keep the Windows operating system up- to-date.
  • Keep software up to date

Linux

  • Keep software up to date. In Ubuntu, I use the software updater daily.
  • Install a good, free anti-virus like ClamAV.

Saving the best for last

This should be obvious.  All operating systems (i.e. Windows, Apple and Linux) have the potential for malware and viruses. Windows just happens to have more targeted towards them.  Linus just has too many flavors out there, that makes it harder to target it generally. But if you do a weekly backup to an external hard drive – including an image copy – you can recover even if everything is destroyed.

As an added note, it’s always nice to use a good free PDF converter at Free PDF Creation Online

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