Tag Archives: PC

Synergy – My New Holy Grail

So I’ve got this sick set up in my office right?  24” iMac, Dell laptop going into dual screens through a docking station, and a nice new desk to sit it all on (no more card table for me!).  One problem though (make that two), I’m sitting here with two sets of peripherals (keyboards and mice). This is just entirely too much clutter for a minimalist like myself.

Enter Synergy, my saving grace.  It is a program from Sourceforge that made a big splash in 2006 for its ability to allow a single mouse and keyboard to run across multiple operating systems.  If I could get this to work, then I could just keep my slick mac keyboard and mighty mouse, and move between all three screens.  The tutorials and videos out there all touted how easy setup would be (see below).

Yet here it is, two weeks later and I still can’t get it to work.  Well, that’s not entirely true; today I managed to get the mighty mouse on all three screens.  One problem though, I can only do this when I am not connected to my VPN.  Since I live and work in Jerusalem, VPN is my lifeline to making a living and it is the only way I can access a lot of my tools for community management.

Synergy does not work with VPN.  At least that’s the general consensus out there.  One possible solution I found involved a bit of work:

Since I don’t have a static IP for my DSL connection, I 1st had to setup dyndns so that my IP is findable via DNS. I then had to set up a port forward for synergy on my router to always send the synergy port to my PC that acts as the server. Then my VPN’d box is a client of the server, and uses the dyndns host name to reach it.

Not really sure if this will solve it b/c the guy had a physical KM switch (hardware that manages the keyboard mouse switch) for Synergy failures, but it may be worth a try.  It’s driving me nuts to have to switch back and forth between peripherals all the time.  Does anyone have a solution for me out there?

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Bings

If you love technology as much as I do then I will assume you are no stranger to the most excellent site Life Hacker, (sorry: this isn’t a post about MS’s new search engine Bing; “bings” just fit the Sound of Music omage better than “hacks”).  My favorite thing that they issue each year is their Life Hacker Pack: List of Essential Downloads (Mac & PC).  As a bi-computator (PC by day and Mac by choice) this comprehensive little list of life-hacks is true a blessing.  The nugget from this pile of gold that has been my savior as I begin my role as community manager of Martindale Hubbell Connected, “the global network for legal professionals,” has been Drop Box.

The way it works is simple:

  1. Register for Drop Box through the link above (this will make me eligible for a space upgrade, another sweet perk of this site – free space for getting friends to join!)
  2. Basic idea: an online storage space that can synchronize folder on whatever computer you are using
  3. 2GB of storage are free, but you can earn an extra free 1GB through referrals, or purchase more space (up to 100GB for $20 per month or $200 per year)
  4. Save files in the Drop Box folder on your computer and when you log in from another computer, such as your trusty Mac, the folders will update with your changes from the other machine (no more confusing USB keys or emailing yourself files)

Check out all of the other life hacks posted, but this one is by far my favorite.

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Ex-Videogame Junky Says: “OnLive Cloud Gaming’s gonna make me relapse…”

My name is Mike and I am an ex-videogame junky.  I have been “game-free” since February 2008.  The main reason I quit video games cold turkey was for my kids – I couldn’t justify the time suck with an 8-month old at the time and another on the way.   My game console of choice was the XBox 360, which I reluctantly sold with 15 games on Ebay for about $400, and my “gamer tag” on XBox Live was Fragmintz, a name which I still use on the web today.  I thought selling my 360 would be the end of it – at least until the kids were old enough to ask for a console, but now OnLive Cloud Gaming may just make me relapse.

The term “cloud computing” refers to an online service structure that end-users acces for various tasks without needing to download a 3rd party client.  Think of it like a grid of applications, like our electricity grid but without all those pesky high tension wires, that can be plugged right into by the consumer.  Some of the best examples are the Google suite of tools, Zoho, and Amazon – each providing their own services within the cloud which can be scaled and accessed according to the needs of each user.

Now enter OnLive to the forefront.  Traditionally, gamers divided themselves according to consoles.  In the next-gen console wars of 2005-6, the breakdown went a bit like this:

  • Xbox 360 = hardcore gamers, FPS (first person shooters) & Halo nuts
  • Wii = kids, Zelda nuts, and basically anyone with a pulse
  • PS3 = RPG (role playing gamers), Sony elitists
  • PS2 = economy class players
  • PC = mouse and keyboard nuts, MMORG (massive multiplayer online role playing gamers – basically World of Warcraft people)
  • Mac = does anyone game on a Mac?

We were a house divided, which did not stand (unless you were playing a Wii – then you kind of had to stand).  But now, it won’t matter what console you prefer b/c we’ll all just be playing the same game OnLive, (counterpoint: can it incorporate the Wii-mote?).

As a true “cloud gaming service” it proposes to play on any screen (TV, PC, Mac, etc.) and offers the games directly from the publishers.  Unlike XBox Live, where you downloaded the game to the console for storage and play, you play the games right on the OnLive server – which means that you also get a chock full of other services like social network: you can watch a buddy play their game, comment, update status, watch videos, etc.  From the sound of it, OnLive may free us from our silos of console-isolation and connect our online lives like never before.  Will I ever leave my computer again?

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Fear the Conficker Worm

“I saw it on 60-minutes,” Mom said.  “They said don’t go online b/c of this virus.”

“Worm,” I said. 

“What?” she asked.

“It’s a worm, not a virus,” I said. 

N00B Alert: worm v. virus (from the Big W) 

A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other nodes (computers on the network) and it may do so without any user intervention. Unlike a virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program.

“Besides they sell fear, Mom.  Fear and weather.  My buddy who retired after 30-years at ABC told me that.”

“It still scares me,” she said.  “I wouldn’t go near the Internet or Facebook this week.”  Mom just discovered Facebook, and in just three short weeks became addicted.  “I only go on it during weekends.  I’ll start looking at things and then a few hours goes by!”  She laughed at herself, but I could hear the withdrawal of a Facebook junky looking for their next fix.  Mom has pretty good self control though, quit cigarettes after thirty years via willpower, so it didn’t surpise me to hear she had joined the ranks of the “FB weekend warriors.”

“You shouldn’t be so frightened,” I told her. 

“Do you go online during these viruses?” she asked. 

Worm, Mom.  And yes, I my life is online,” I said.  “You can’t let a worm-scare stop you from doing what you need to do.”  Working in the e-Content arena I spend all day online on my PC.  Then at night, I go home to blog and write on my Mac, the diversity in operating systems deluding me into thinking I am doing something different than what I do all day for pay.  At least I didn’t have to worry about Conficker at home, Macs got a special pass.  Still, Conficker’s capacity to cause mass-public terror and sell news amazed me.

Conficker is the worst worm to hit the Internet since an SQL slammer worm of 2003Maximum PC said:

The first two versions of Conficker — variants A and B — exploit a vulnerability in the Server Service on Windows-based PCs to take advantage of an already-infected source computer. Once infected, the worm goes to work exploiting the network hole, cracking administrator passwords, prevents access to security websites and services for automatic updates, disables backup services, erases recently saved documents, and among other things, also leaves you vulnerable to other infected machines.

Bascially a huge pain in the a**.  Yet April 1st came and went without anything remotely resembling the “Fire Sale” in Diehard 4.  Even today, opinions were divided over whether this worm had shriveled on the sidewalk or if it still lurked inside the Apple … I mean the PC

Whatever the future of the Conficker Worm, it scared my hair stylist, Imana Scissorhands.  She had a new PC for her new salon and it was acting “weird” all day.  She feared it might be the Conficker.  Having promised to build her a nice photo blog for a free haircut, I went on her computer and observed some strange activities.  Clicking on Google results that had definite targets brought us to strange destinations, often for generic search and sell portals.  

One thing I noticed right away was that Imana Scissorhands did not have any anti-virus or spyware protection installed.  Now I’m not IT expert, but it seemed risky going it alone without any protection.  We tried to download a free-90-day trial of McAffee, but her comp wouldn’t allow us to initiate the auto-run (sounding more like Conficker?).  We did download and run CC Cleaner prior to that, but the strange activity continued.  In the end, I told her to call a professional and see what they could do.  We did manage to get her photo blog up though, and I may have found a side-career as a ghostwriter.   

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