Geeks in Phoenix

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Migrating from a Palm TX to a Google Android

With the purchase of Palm by HP, I am reminded that the Palm Pilot is dead. For years I had been using a Palm Pilot, starting with a Vx, then a M505 and finally a TX. It was all of the applications available for the Palm OS platform that keep me there. So when my cellular phone provider, Verizon Wireless, had a great deal on a Google Android, I decided to go for it.

Palm TX & Google Android - Side by side (vertical view)
Palm TX and Google Android side by side (vertical and horizontal views)
Palm TX & Google Android - Side by side (horizontal view)

The first thing a had to look at was getting the same functionally from the Android as I did from the Palm. I started with the existing applications I used on the Palm. Sure enough, Dataviz, creators of Documents To Go had a version for the Android. It has almost all of the same functions as the Palm version.

Next was synchronizing Micorosoft Outlook with the Android. I was using the conduits in the Palm Desktop to sync with Outlook, so I had to look around to see what I could find. I came across CompanionLink, makers of DejaOffice. It has all of the same functions as the Palm conduits.

And last but not least, since the SD card in the Android appears as a removable disk in Windows 7, it is just a matter of synchronizing between the two. For this I am using SyncToy 2.1 from Microsoft to work just right for me.

Scott

Use one monitor, keyboard and mouse on multiple computers with a KVM Switch

In this article, I show some of the advantages of using a KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) Switch. Besides the obvious reasons of saving space and money when you have multiple computers in one area, you can also get some great built-in features with them too.

First, you can get KVM switches with either VGA or DVI video connectors. I know that there are KVM's that have both VGA and DVI connectors, but I prefer VGA KVM's and use a DVI to VGA adapter when needed.

2-Port USB KVM Switch

Here is your basic 2-port USB KVM Switch. It costs around $20-25. This type is quite handy when you have a desktop at home and and you you use a laptop for work. You can connect the laptop to your full size monitor, keyboard and mouse when at home. Also, this unit does not require external power.

4-Port USB KVM Switch

Here's a 4-port USB KVM Switch with Audio and Bluetooth. It costs around $40-50. Besides being able to connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse, this one also has speaker and microphone jacks too. Plus Bluetooth 2.0. This unit does not require external power, but it is an option.

8-Port USB / PS2 KVM Switch

Here's 8-port USB / PS2 KVM with a USB port and On Screen Display. This KVM is scalable and can control up to 128 computers (with additional switches). Also, each port can be configured for the OS of the computer connected to it (Windows, Mac, Sun).

So, If your thinking about getting a KVM, with all the the options available, you should be able to find one to fit your needs.

Enjoy,
Scott

How to manually eject your computer CD / DVD drive tray

In this article, I show how to use the Eject Pin Hole to manually eject the tray on your computers CD / DVD drive. There will be times when you need to open the tray on your computers CD / DVD drive when the system is powered off.

  • You need to boot your computer using the CD / DVD drive
  • You need to retrieve a disk without starting up the computer

Caution: Turn off power to the system before manually ejecting a disk.

All CD / DVD drives have a Eject Pin Hole. The only thing we need is a paper clip to use it (I am using a #1 size for this article).

All we need is a paper clip

All we have to do is bend it at the first curve 180 degrees (straitening it out). Then take the second curve and bend it 90 degrees. Now we need to locate the Eject Pin Hole.

Desktop CD / DVD drive Eject Pin Hole location

Desktop CD / DVD drives:
Gently insert the modified paper clip into the Eject Pin Hole until you feel it make contact with the gear underneath the tray. Firmly pressing inward, you will notice the tray to start to move out. Press inward until you have enough room to get your finger under the tray and then pull it out the rest of the way. If you can only get a small portion of the tray out, you can use the other end of the paper clip to gently pry open the tray enough to get your finger under it. Once done, gently push back the tray to the closed position. It will close firmly when the system is powered up.

Laptop - Notebook CD / DVD drive Eject Pin Hole location

Laptop - Notebook CD / DVD drives:
The trays on laptops/notebooks are spring loaded, so all that is needed is to release the locking mechanism. You do not have to insert the paper clip as far as with a desktop CD / DVD drive, as you are not connecting to the gearing under the tray. Gently insert the paper clip into the Eject Pin Hole. Once you feel it make contact, gently push in and the tray will eject immediately. Once done, gently push the tray back inward until it locks back into place.

Enjoy,
Scott

Useful USB devices for your computer

In this article, I show some of my favorite and useful USB devices.

Netbook connected to 42" plasma TV

Some of my favorite devices run through USB ports. Here are just a few:

Flash Drives:
Probably the most popular of all USB devices. They are great for storage, boot disks, etc., but have an average life of around 10,000 read/writes.

Floppy Drives:
Sometimes, you just need a floppy drive. If you have ever installed Windows on a computer with a RAID or SCSI drive, you know what I mean.

Hard Drives & DVD/CD Drives:
I use a multi-functional converter. It's a great way to mount a hard drive from a computer that has failed. Or use it with a hard drive for storage, boot drive, etc. The best one is to connect it to a standard 5.25" DVD burner and use it to create Recovery Disks on laptops/netbooks.

COM & LPT Ports:
Yes, there are still devices that require COM ports and printers that use LPT ports. And you can get USB converters to support them.

There are a ton of USB devices out there. These are but a few of my favorites.

Enjoy,
Scott

Acer Aspire One Netbook hard drive issue

I recently worked on a Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AOD150). The netbook no longer was able to boot, as the system could not find an operating system. Booting the netbook up onto a USB drive I was able to see the problem. The hard drive had two partitions, one hidden recovery partition and one active system (C:\) partition, that had become corrupt.

The only solution was to use the recovery media. Only the owner did not have an external cd / dvd writer, so she was unable to create the recovery media. I contacted Acer and they sent out new media for free. I got the media and reloaded the netbook and all was well. I had a chance to work with it a little bit and really like the size, battery life and cost. So I decided to pick one up.

I purchased a Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AO571h). On first boot, after allowing the system to restart a couple times for set up, it was ready to go. I proceeded to connect a dvd writer and created the recovery media. I then decided to take a look at the hard drive partitions, so I put a bootable cd in the external optical drive I just used to create the recovery media and rebooted.

Booted the netbook up on a PE (preinstall environment) cd and all looked fine. The netbook had two partitions, one hidden recovery partition at 8 gigabytes and one active system (C:\) partition at 141 gigabytes, for a rough total of 149 gigabytes. That was correct for a 160 gigabyte hard drive once formatted.

I turned off the netbook and external dvd drive, disconnected the dvd and restarted the netbook. What happened next was deja vu. The screen displayed cannot find operating system error. I turned it off, reconnected the external dvd drive and proceeded to reload the system with the disks I had just created.

I reloaded the netbook and then checked the hard drive. This time there was only one active system (C:\) partition at 149 gigabytes. The system works fine and have had no problems since.

Remember, if your new laptop, netbook or personal computer does not come with recovery media (disks), you probably have to make them yourself. This is the first thing that should be done. Lucky for me, that's just what I did.

Til then,
Scott

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