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Synchronizing Website Data 

by on June 29, 2007

Q: I would like to know if it is possible for my website to be updated when I update information in a software package on my computer. For example, if I update the shipping status of an order in my software is it possible to have that then go and update the information on the website so when the customer comes and looks at it they can see the new status?

A: The great thing about computers is that most thing are possible they just take time, planning, and in this case a lot of know how.

Since you already have a solution in place for keeping track of your business data it would make sense to do what you are asking, having a way to update your website by way of your local software package. This is, unfortunately, a complicated thing to do because you might want to, at some point, let your customers update information on the website and then you would also have to put in place a method for getting the data from your website to your software package on your computer.

This should not be too difficult, depending on the software package and what data you want to transfer, for a web programmer with some experience. There are many firms out there that do this, just make sure you do a little research because some are better than others. Get a few quotes and when doing so remember that you get what you pay for. This does not mean you should over pay but if most people are saying the job will cost $1,000.00 and someone offers to do it for $150.00, chances are the $150.00 is going to be more problems than it is worth.

Now for everyone else who is thinking about starting a business that wants to have some type of web integration, you might want to think about web based solutions, especially if you travel a lot. This will allow anyone to have access to the information via a web site. Mobility in today’s business world is something that really should be taken into account when making any software decisions.


Installing a Longhorn Server Image 

by on June 29, 2007

Q: I have an ISO file of Longhorn Server on my hard drive and I would like to install it without burning to a CD. Is that possible?

A: In order for you to install the version of Longhorn Server you downloaded in ISO format, you will have to burn it to a CD. You must run the installer application on the CD so that it can copy all of the necessary Operating System (OS) files to their designated directories on the hard drive of your PC. It is not possible to apply the OS to the hard drive of your PC directly from the ISO file for a few reasons. Many of the files on the installer CD are compressed and need to be decompressed and copied to various directories on your hard drive during the installer process; the installer also needs to detect the hardware on your system to install the appropriate drivers and system components so that the OS can run. If you do not go through the installation process, you will be unable to run the OS.

Provided that the ISO is bootable, once you burn it to a CD you will be able to run the installer and install Longhorn on your PC. If it is not a bootable image (which is becoming increasingly rare for OS releases) you would need to boot up your PC with a boot disk and run the installer application from the command line.


Backing Up iTunes Music 

by on June 27, 2007

Q: What are my options for backing up iTunes music? I am especially worried about my purchased iTunes music.

A: The first option for backing up your iTunes music is to back it up to CD or DVD if you have a CD or DVD burner. You would do this by going to “File” -> “Back Up To Disc…”. From here you will have the option of selecting “Back up entire iTunes library and play lists” or “Back up only iTunes Store purchases”. These two options either let you backup all your music or just the music you purchased from iTunes, respectively. The next option applies to both of these and it lets you just backup the new files from the last back up. This option is called “Only back up items added or changed since last backup”.

The downside to backing up to a CD is that you will only be able to get about 150 or so songs on each CD. A DVD will allow you to store considerably more songs at about 1,000 songs. For people who have lots of songs the best alternative will be to get an external USB drive that supports one touch backup. I suggest one that supports one touch backup because if you get a large enough external hard drive you can backup your entire system at a press of a button instead of just backing up your iTunes library.

For those that want to just backup their iTunes library you would want to connect your USB drive and then drag and drop your iTunes library onto the USB drive. This process will take a little while depending on how large your library is. If you are unsure where your library is then select “Preferences” -> “Advanced” and under the general it will tell you where your music folder is.


What Does OCR Mean 

by on June 25, 2007

Q: What does OCR mean?

A: OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition but OCR is really a process of taking an image and converting it into text so that it can be edited and searched. Most scanners now come with OCR software, which will allow you to scan a document straight to text, Word, or PDF. The purpose of this is so that the document can be edited or searched without a person having to retype it. There is also software that will take an image, such as a jpg, gif, tiff, or some other image and will convert that to text as well.

OCR software is not perfect and during the conversion process some words or letters will be left blank so a human always has to review the document and make some changes. It is still much faster than retyping an entire paper, in case you printed it and forgot to save it.


What Is An Integrated Database? 

by on June 19, 2007

Q: I have heard the term “integrated databases” used on a couple of occasions. Is there a common definition/understanding out there of what this is?

A: There is no specific or succinct definition of the term Integrated Database. Different companies, research firms, and organizations all use the term Integrated Database to describe a number of database types. The most common Integrated Databases that I discovered while researching this question were academic databases for both reference and research. Several universities or research organizations will use the same database design and platform and they design search tools that can search all of the databases for a single topic simultaneously.

LexisNexis is an enormous database of public records, unpublished opinions, forms, legal, news, and business information pulled from various sources. It is very popular in the academic community and a good example of a database integrating many types of information from a multitude of sources.


Moving iTunes Music 

by on June 18, 2007

Q: Recently my hard drive stopped working. Having learned my lesson previously I had all my files backed up on my Maxtor II one touch hard drive. I now have my computer up and running but I am unable to get my music moved back to iTunes. How can I move my music back to iTunes with out doing it 1 CD at a time?

A: Once you have ripped all of your CDs to digital format (.mp3, .m4a, or .wav) using iTunes, you will not have to re-load all of your music into iTunes one CD at a time. Now that you have replaced your hard drive copying your music back to your new hard drive is relatively straightforward. Open iTunes and click on “Tools” > “Preferences” > “Advanced tab” > “General tab”. At the top of this screen, make sure that the “iTunes Music folder location” is a folder on your “C:” drive. If it is pointing to another hard drive (like your external USB drive), click the “Change” button and point it to a folder on your “C:” drive.

You will also want to click the check boxes next to “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library“. By checking those two boxes you have enabled iTunes to organize your music into folders and sub-folders so it is easy to find and iTunes will also copy all new music into the folder you have designated. This way your music will all be in one place and it will be easier to back up in the future or move it if that is ever necessary.

Once iTunes is set up to organize your music you need to find and add your existing music files from your external USB drive back into your new iTunes Library. First you need to make sure your USB drive is connected. Next use Windows Explorer to navigate to your music folder(s) on your USB drive. Then finally open iTunes and click on “Music” under “Library” on the right side of the screen.

With the iTunes window and Windows Explorer open side-by-side you will need to click and drag the folder with your music in it onto the iTunes window. iTunes will copy all of the music into appropriately labeled folders on your C: drive and it will add all of the songs back into the library. Repeat this final step if you need to add music to iTunes from multiple locations.


Setting Up A Wireless Network 

by on June 12, 2007

Q: We are getting a high-speed Internet connection and I would like to know how to set it up so that we can connect to it wirelessly.

A: If you would like to implement wireless networking in your home you need to consider a few things. Even though wireless access points are relatively inexpensive, it is preferable to purchase a multi-port switch that doubles as a Wireless Access Point (WAP). This way you have the best of both worlds; you can plug computers and other network-enabled peripherals directly into the ports on the router via Ethernet cable and devices with wireless adapters (desktops, laptops, hand-held computers, PDAs, and some cellular phones) located in other rooms or more remote locations around your home can connect wirelessly.

You will need to decide where the computers are going to be placed in relation to the high-speed Internet modem and wireless router. If there is a PC that is going to be in the same room as the wireless router it would be most convenient to plug that PC in to the router so that it will get higher data transfer rates. It will also eliminate the need to purchase an additional wireless card.

The computers that will spend most of their time too far away from the wireless router to be plugged in will need to have wireless adapters installed. If any of these PCs are laptops (and some desktops) that have been purchased recently (within the last few years) they may have come with wireless adapters built-in, so you may want to consult the manufacturer’s documentation before proceeding.

You will also need to determine what kind of wireless adapter to buy for the PCs that require them. There are a few kinds of wireless adapters for PCs including PCI, PCI Express, and USB. The advantage of PCI and PCI Express cards is speed. You will be able to transfer data more quickly using these cards than you will with a USB wireless adapter. Your desktop PC’s documentation will tell you what type of ports you have available (PCI or PCI Express) so you can buy the correct type of adapter. If you are uncomfortable opening your desktop and installing hardware, this may not be the best solution for you. USB wireless adapters have the advantage of portability. They can be easily moved from PC to PC, or plugged into older laptops that do not have internal wireless adapters.

Once you have determined what type of router to buy and what types of wireless adapters to purchase for your PCs, you will need to take the time to secure your network. The two easiest methods that you can use to secure your wireless network are disabling the broadcast of your SSID, and enabling wireless encryption on your wireless router. The SSID is essentially the name of your wireless router. If it is broadcast, people in range of your wireless router will be able to see your network and connect to it (if it is not secured).

Not only will they be able to consume your bandwidth but also they may be able to connect to other computers on your network. By disabling the broadcast if your SSID, people within range will not be able to easily stumble upon it. By enabling encryption on your wireless network, you will also be able to protect the information being transmitted among the PCs on your network and the information being transferred to and from the Internet through your router. The combination of these methods will keep the average home user’s wireless transmissions secure.

All wireless routers have different interfaces, so you will need to consult the documentation of the router you purchase to find out how to secure it. The documentation accompanying wireless adapters will also explain how to connect them to your wireless network once the router is up and running.

In order to get the best prices possible on wireless routers and adapters, make sure to shop around. If you go to your local Electronics store’s Computer department (Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry’s, CompUSA, TigerDirect), the people who work there will be able to give you an idea of what type of wireless adapters and router you will need to set up your network. Ask plenty of questions and research the equipment and prices online before you purchase anything. You can also contact your Internet provider to see if they have any recommendations for wireless networking equipment as many have home networking options now that come with wireless routers.


Computer Ergonomics 

by on June 8, 2007

Q: How does working with computers relate to problems such as, backache and, eye problems?

A: Computers are not normally the reason for such problems. The problem is that most people do not understand ergonomics related to working on computers and because of that they sit in positions that feel comfortable for the moment but over time it takes a toll on their body.

There is an amazing ergonomics page at the Stanford University that can help everyone become more ergonomic at his or her workstation. By making sure your workstation is ergonomically correct and taking a moment every hour to stand up and stretch most problems related to working with computers can be avoided.


Upgrading An HP DV2000 Laptop 

by on June 7, 2007

Q: I have a HP Pavilion dv2000 notebook with a 1.6ghz Core Duo processor. Is it possible to upgrade to a Core 2 Duo?

A: Upgrading your laptop from a Core Duo to a Core 2 Duo would require replacing the motherboard and processor in your laptop. Traditionally, laptop makers lean towards releasing new laptop models with the newest motherboard and processor rather than making upgrade parts available for existing models. Laptop upgrades usually include optical drives, hard drives, and RAM. Recently some laptop makers have been releasing laptops with video cards that can be upgraded, which are geared toward the gaming market.

It is unlikely that you will be able to upgrade your existing laptop. According to the HP web site the dv2000 laptop has been discontinued and replaced by newer models that have Core 2 Duo processors. However, sometimes laptop manufacturers use parts that are interchangeable among models, so there may be a chance that your laptop may be able to accommodate a newer motherboard and processor. You will have to call HP Support for a definite answer. If the upgrade is possible they will most likely direct you to an Authorized HP Technician to perform the upgrade.