Saturday, April 23, 2005

My experiment with VOIP phones

I used to have a monthly phone bill of about $30 with just a landline. Now I have two phones and I pay about the same.

How did I do this ? The magic of VOIP. I choose Vonage .I have the $14.99 plan that gives me 500 minutes of talk time within the US and Canada and then 3 cents a minute after that. Its a great deal. I never use more than 500 minutes and if I do its only 3 cents. If there is a voicemail left on my phone I get it forwarded to me via email. ( very cool! ). I get all the bells and whistles for free - forwarding , Caller-id, voice mail etc. Since this service is based on your having already a broadband internet connection there are some drawbacks.

a) Calling 911 - To get around this you can register your address to your number and its easy.

b) Internet outages - You can specify a number that all calls can be forwarded to in case of an outage so you dont miss any calls.


I would strongly give VOIP a try. Quality may be about 96% to 95 % of regular land lines but in my case it is not a big deal.

Sign up for Vonage here .

Find out what version of Windows XP you have ?

If you want to know if your Computer has Windows XP Service Pack2 you can do this by following the steps below:

1. First, click on the Start button in the bottom left corner of your screen. Then select Run from the menu. You should then see a screen similar to the one below.


2. Type the word winver (short for Windows Version) in the text box. You should then see a screen similar to the one below.

Not seeing some web pages

Today I was not able to reach some webpages. I have a DLINK wifi network at home. I searched the forums on DSLReports.com . There was a mention of issues with Comcast so I followed the suggestion of changing my nameservers for my computer and was amazed at the success.

The instructions are here.

To change DNS servers:


Right click on the My Network Places icon on the desktop and select Properties. (If the icon is not available, go to Start menu | My Computer | My Network Places | View Network Connections.)


Locate the network connection that is associated with your Internet connection. This may be labeled something like "Local Area Connection." If you have more than one connection to choose from, be sure you determine the right one before proceeding.


Right click on the appropriate connection and select Properties.


In the list that appears under the General tab, double click on Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).


In the window that appears, you want to select the option to Use the following DNS server addresses...

At this point you will want to enter at least one of your personal preferred DNS servers. There are a number of public servers suggested by members of the Comcast forum; simply do a search for 'DNS' and you should get adequate results. Some more DNS servers are available at the ORSC website.

Press Ok out of all windows until you are back to the Network Connections window. You can now open your web browser and browse to a website to see if it connects faster.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Microsoft provides free Anti-Spyware tool

Here is a link to Microsoft's Beta version of spyware. I have used it and I think its a good piece of software from a user perspective. Its free and easy to install. It has worked fine so far and I am happy. I must mention that when you install this version it asks your permission to check the authenticity of the Windows software installed on your computer.
Instant Messenger

Just like e-mail I am sure everyone has multiple IM accounts. I have a few accounts on AOL, MSN, Yahoo . It was always a headache to open all the IM windows individually.

I use GAIM a open source IM client consolidator from http://gaim.sourceforge.net.

I know people use other software like Trillian , but I am happy with GAIM.
Firefox browser

Last December Microsoft's Internet Explorer usage reduced to less that 90%. One of the reasons is the popularity of the Forefox a free browser available here.

Firefox has the advantage of being able to do tabbed browsing. It is more secure. I have never had my Firefox browser hijacked or had any annoying popups. I would advice you to download it and start using it today.
The New Opera 8.0 Browser

I have been a fan of the Opera browser since 2003. I almost use it for any non corporate site browsing. It was the first browser that gave you a pop up blocker. Its very fast . I love the fact that now the browser uses voice commands to read and navigate websites.

To buy the Opera browser click here . They have a free version with ads. that can be downloaded by cliking on the download tab on the opera page. Opera is now available as a browser for many mobile phones. It almost has a version for every operating system. Linux , Mac, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2, QNX.
Firewall for your computer:
Get ZoneAlarm for your computer and prevent hackers and intruders. This is specially needed if you have a broadband connection.

Prevent Pop-ups and Spyware

Take these steps to prevent your computer from being taken over by annoying pop-ups and dangerous viruses.



Remove the annoying popups:
Adware SE :http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
This is free for use for home. You can setup a scheduler on your computer to make this run everyday at a given time.


Search your Computer for spyware:
Spybot-S&D Search & Destroy scrapes bothersome software from your PC as you would barnacles from the underside of a boat. " - PC Magazine
http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

Free Anti-virus and e-mail virus scanner
GriSoft's AVG anti-virus software excellent alternatives if you are looking for basic protection from e-mail viruses and worms
http://free.grisoft.com/doc/1