Comcast Cable Internet for $25/month!

For those of you that refuse to pay $45/month for internet, here is another option. Comcast has an economy plan in some areas in which you pay $24.95 per month and get 768Kbps download speeds. They do not advertise this, but have it as an option to compete against Verizon’s 768K service. They also use it as a way to get dial-up users to finally give it up.

Lately in Pittsburgh, they have sent letters saying they are pulling the plug on analog phone customers, and that they must switch to Comcast Digital Voice. Then they offer TV and internet packages along with the phone service. They will include the Economy High Speed Internet in some of these package to keep the monthly cost low.

I am unsure if you must rent the modem or not…

Source: Wikipedia

Also, I read it in my January bill announcing rate increases.

Pictures of a Counterfeit Microsoft Office 2003 Professional

Well, I got burned on eBay. I looked so carefully through listings that I believed were bogus and I settled on a seller (in the USA) with high feedback. I received the box today — a sealed Retail Box of Microsoft Office 2003 Professional. I was a little suspicious at first glance — something didn’t look right. What do you think (click to inspect closer):

I opened it up and here is the CD case:

Here is what really caught my eye, though, a book in the case…

Check out that S!

I pulled out the 1st CD and here it is along with a Genuine OEM CD (click on it to see it better):

Can you tell which is which?? Obviously my scanner makes it hard to see what the holograms actually look like. To the naked eye, they look very similar. The one difference that they can’t seem to replicate is the Microsoft box at the bottom — it should switch between “Microsoft” and “Genuine” when you look at the CD at various angles.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the holographic designs on a sticker on the CD on the right — look at the edge:

It’s just an amazing counterfeiting job.

For now, I opened a dispute with PayPal. The seller said he would refund my money when he got it back. He said he was sorry and that he was duped. I’ll keep this updated.

Here is an excellent summary of how to spot a fake Office 2003.

This is an amazing quote from a Microsoft press release in October 2006:

Overall, the study found, the chances of purchasing genuine, legally licensed Microsoft software on eBay is less than 50 percent.

It’s amazing to me that this can just keep happening. I guess globalization opens up lots of cans of worms.

Here another case of similar fraud.

Here is information about counterfeiting from Microsoft.

Here is detailed information about Office 2003 security features on the CD itself.

UPDATE 5/2/08: Yes, I am dumb. I bought an OEM Office 2003 Professional for around $280 and it’s counterfeit, too! I sent the boxed one back on Wednesday, and I’m hoping I can get the money back on that soon from the seller. I think PayPal may only cover me for $200 if they don’t refund my money. I’m hoping for this new seller that PayPal would cover me for the whole amount since it is a PowerSeller with PayPal Buyer Protection (with 99.7% positive feedback + 2200 rating) if the seller doesn’t refund me.

Here are some pictures:

Notice in the Certificate of Authenticity, on the right side vertically, that is supposed to be an interwoven ribbon, but in this case it is just scanned from an authentic COA and printed very professionally. Here is a close up of the real thing on the left and the bogus COA on the right.

You’ll notice on the real COA little bumps of paper covering the genuine strip and you can see through those bumps a little bit. On the right, the strip is just white and not seen.

Below is the CD itself, just like above, it is a sticker, and not quite as good as the one above, so it must be a different counterfeiter:

When I put the CD into my drive, here is what pops up (I typed in the key) — definitely not Microsoft!!

Followed by:

MY ADVICE:

Stay away from Microsoft and Adobe software purchases on eBay, no-name websites, Amazon Marketplace and everywhere that cannot be guaranteed. The counterfeiters appear to sell to a wholesaler that sells to someone else and no one knows it is fake. My store of choice is buycheapsoftware.com, they have a 100% legal guarantee and I’ve purchased thousands of dollars of software from them for years.

Dell Downgrade Service to XP – PHOTOS

I wrote earlier about Dell saving XP with their simple, customer-friendly policy to allow you to buy a Windows Vista Business license and they will ship the computer with XP installed. They call it “Windows Vista Business Bonus.”

Here is what it looks like on their website when configuring a computer (this is a Latitude D630):

You’ll see the Windows Vista(R) Business Bonus, which is available at no extra cost!

I received an Optiplex 330 today in which I ordered the Vista Business Bonus from Dell:

Here is the license sticker:

Dell included this Vista DVD:

And they included this XP CD:

When I turned on the computer for the first time –

This is just a fantastic thing Dell is doing.  They make it SO easy for someone to downgrade from Vista to XP!


BADVERTISMENTS! Beware of Bogus Popups – performanceoptimizer.com

I read a lot of current events news and tech articles and about 4 or 5 times in the least month, I’ve had popups that seem to take over Firefox. I call them badvertisements. I believe it is related to an Adobe Flash vulnerability. The unusual aspect of this is that it is happening on good, legitimate sites, like USAtoday.com (WindowsSecrets.com article).

Here are the popups I received:

This shows up at the bottom right of the screen and does strange things to Firefox:

popup 1

The page at http://performanceoptimizer.com says: NOTICE: Errors in your PC can cause data loss, hardware or software failure and performance fall. Install PerformanceOptimizer to fix errors, monitor changes and maintain PC stability!

Once I closed that this page appeared in Firefox (click to view larger image):

PeformanceOptimizer.com

This page appears like it is trying to trick Vista users into thinking it is a Vista window.

Once I closed that tab, this popup appeared:

Another popup

The page at http://performanceoptimizer.com says: Your computer performance is still at low level! Your PC performance and stability can be injured now. It is strongly recommended to optimize your PC performance!

Then, after closing that window, this popup appeared:

3rd popup

The page at http://performanceoptimizer.com says: PerformanceOptimizer will now boost your PC performance. Please select “RUN” or “OPEN” when prompted to start the installation. This file has been digitally signed and independently certified as 100% free of viruses, adware and spyware.

Each time, I’ve been successful in closing all the popups (WITH THE TOP RIGHT RED X) and pages and leaving without infection. DO NOT INSTALL ANYTHING THESE WINDOWS ARE YOU TO!  If you are not protected against viruses or malware, I recommend home users to install AVG 8 Free.

After I had this happen a few times, I went to Adobe’s website to make sure I had the most recent Flash version, I suggest you do the same.

As I learn more, I will post it here.

Also:

iPod Nano (1st generation) skips songs

This is driving me crazy! My iPod Nano keeps ending up skipping songs when they are in the playlist or it starts the song and skips to the next song a few seconds in. I have been able to fix it temporarily by removing the song from the iPod and readding it, but it keeps happening. It happens with different songs, not the same songs each time.

I’ve tried doing a Windows CHKDSK, but that didn’t fix anything.

Here is Apple’s advice, which I don’t like. I’ve done a few total resets, but the problem keeps reoccurring.

.I’ll keep this updated with my status!

UPDATE: A week or so ago, I synched my nano and it became blank again!  I plugged it back in, after a day without my iPod, and it said it was corrupt and to wipe it and start clean.  This changes my Podcast settings and the custom Menu on my iPod again…  I haven’t listened to many music tracks after that, but at least one of the songs skipped.  I’ll troubleshoot again sometime soon!

UPDATE 8/21/08: Boy is this frustrating.  It just keeps corrupting on me.  I’m thinking now that maybe a files or files that are corrupted get on the iPod and give it trouble.  I’m going to try to re-rip some of my media.

[UPDATE 9/2010] I think this is probably something wrong with the Nano itself, as I switched to an identical one using the same computer and I stopped having these problems.

Do you need to buy a new digital TV before February 2009?

NO!!

Boy, this is such an opportunity for deception (see this article, 3/4 of the way down), and I don’t like deception.  The myth is out there — you need a new HDTV before February 2009.  The cable companies and TV stores, I’m sure, aren’t going to try too hard to talk you out of that thinking.  For the cable companies, they’d love to sell you their more expensive digital packages that require a box at each TV, and we all know what the retailers want.  Here’s the deal:

  • If you have cable or satellite TV, nothing will change.  Comcast and the other cable companies will convert the digital signal from the broadcasters to analog and nothing will be different.  As Comcast in Pittsburgh has done in the past, cable companies will probably start taking away channels one-by-one for analog viewers to make you upgrade to digital cable boxes some day.
  • If you have rabbit ears on your TV, you need to take action:

To Vista or Not to Vista

As I posted last week, XP is here to stay, so the war won’t be as fierce as I first thought after June 30, 2008. However, you still have to make a decision — XP or Vista? For home users it will be difficult to get XP, since Dell will make XP available on business machines only (unless demand changes their mind). Here is a Pro/Con list for why to get Vista:

PROS

  • Vista looks pretty

CONS

I’m still trying to figure out any other benefits of Vista, I’ll revisit this post if I find some.

Here’s a great quote that summarized my views (by Galen Gruman, executive editor at InfoWorld):

Over the past year, CIOs and CTOs have consistently told me they see no significant benefits to Vista, and really don’t want to spend the time and money to update all their computers, retrain their users, and deal with application incompatibilities for a cosmetic upgrade.

US Passport Application Wizard & Firefox/PDF Issue

I’ve had getting a passport on my To Do List for about a year now, and I wanted to get the application done. I visited the Passport Application Wizard, thinking it would make the process very quick and easy. I almost always use Firefox (2.0.0.14) now, and this was no exception. I went through all the pages and filled out all the blanks, only to get the final page with lots of instructions. At the top was a button to “Create Form.” I clicked it, but nothing happens. I clicked Back and kept going back and forth, but it still wouldn’t work.

Passport PDF button

I want to get this done, so I used IE6 to fill out the form again. I hate doing things twice. Indeed, it worked fine, when I clicked the “Create Form” button, it asked if I wanted to Save or Open the PDF.

If this page won’t work properly in Firefox, they need to either fix the code or warn people not to waste all their time with Firefox. I emailed them, we’ll see if I get a reply.

Strange printing issues and fixes

Microsoft’s .NET Framework 3.0 (actually a subsequent automatic update to it) causes some HP printers to have some large problems and Microsoft has been unwilling to care or do anything about it. I believe this will cause some major problems in the future as it becomes necessary to install .NET 3.0.

I’ve seen it on many HP LaserJet printers including 4+, 5, 1300, 4200 and others.

Here is a symptom list:

  • Pages printing on top of each other
    • pages printer on top of one another
    • all pages print on page one
    • multiple pages on page one
  • Microsoft Word 2007 envelopes printing symbols
    • envelopes print garbage
    • envelopes have strange characters
    • symbols print with Calibri or Cambria

Fixes

  1. Update the printer driver with the PCL6 driver from the manufacturer’s website — this was my most used fix
  2. For the envelope problem only, in the printer driver settings see if there is a “Send Truetype as graphics” setting to choose. (Thanks to this site.) You could also try using a different font.

I have worked with Microsoft on these issues, they believe that HP’s drivers are at fault. My ticket number was SRX071205601374 in early December 2007. I am very upset that Microsoft would knowingly automatically install an update that destroys printer drivers. They may fix this finally when some big companies install .NET 3.0 and find that 10,000 of their printers stop working properly. I did my best to warn them!

Here is a very early report of this problem — February 2007.