ESA-VA Scholarship Opportunity

January 22, 2013 – 11:48 am

ESAThe Virginia Chapter of the Electronic Security Association is inviting high school seniors that intend to enter college next fall to submit an application for the ESA-VA’s 2013 Youth Scholarship Program. Since 1996, the have participated in this national program, and in that time, they have provided many bright and high-achieving young adults with financial support to help offset the rising costs of higher education.

ESA-VA serves the electronic security systems industry throughout the Commonwealth and has five distinct regions. Each of those regions will select one winner and award him or her a $500 Scholarship. The applications of each regional recipient will then be judged to determine one statewide winner who will receive an additional $1,000 Scholarship. Statewide winners are then automatically considered for the national scholarship which now awards four scholarship prizes: first place – $10,000, second place – $5,000, third place – $3,500 and fourth place – $1,500.

Awards are based on a combination of academic achievement, national test scores, extracurricular participation and an essay. Students are awarded up to 25 points for GPA, 30 points for ACT/SAT scores, 25 points for an essay and 20 points for extracurricular activities. Points are awarded through a combination of earned academic points and judging by committee members.

To be eligible to apply for the scholarship, students must be between 15 and 20 years old, a graduating high school senior, and have been accepted for admission to an accredited college or university. For the third consecutive year, home schooled students will be eligible to compete. All applicants must provide a transcript with a calculated cumulative GPA through 11th grade to be eligible.

Each eligible student must have a father, mother or natural guardian who is an active duty, full-time police officer, fire fighter or volunteer fire fighter. Students will be required to write an essay titled, “What it means to me to have my parent or guardian involved in securing our community.”

Click on the link below to download an application. The deadline for submission is March 29, 2013.


Revolutionary Security With Master dialSpeed Lock

December 16, 2012 – 9:36 am

dialSpeedOver the years, I have bought, examined and evaluated a wide variety of tech gadgets. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for a new gadget to make me think, “This thing is Kool!” But the new Master lock dialSpeed electronic combination lock is definitely “Kool”. I use a MacBook for both my work and home computing needs because I like the intuitive design of Apple products. In fact, I am so spoiled that when I try a new product, I prefer to just pick it up and start using it. I am willing to read a short Quick Start page of instructions but if I have to read a manual to get started, it is dead in the water as far as I am concerned. Although, the dialSpeed is more of a revolutionary than evolutionary product, getting started was a breeze.

These days we have so many numbers and passwords to remember, it is wonderful to eliminate the need to memorize the number combination of a traditional combination padlock. The dialSpeed lock uses a combination of just four “characters” – up, down, left and right arrows. These arrows are displayed on the backlit keypad, and are each matched up with a group of letters and numbers. This arrangement makes it easy to set up codes that correspond to words or acronyms. I think for most folks this will be the way to go. However, I prefer to use a touch pattern system like “up/up/down/down/right/left.” I have used keyboard patterns to remember telephone numbers for years.

Programming the lock is a breeze. It comes with its own factory-set code but the user can reset it and program in up to three “guest codes” to allow different people use the same lock. I have several old combination locks laying around because I can’t remember the combinations. If you forget the code on the dialSpeed you can recall the original factory code from the Master lock website. That is a good thing because using bolt cutters on the dialSpeed’s shackle would be tough since it is made from cut-resistant hardened boron carbide.

There are a couple of issues that that need to be pointed out. First, the dialSpeed can only be used for dry indoor purposes. In addition, it is powered by a (CR2032) watch battery that needs to be replaced after about five years. On the upside it does have a low battery indicator so you will have a warning before the lock dies.

In the final analysis, I give the dialSpeed a big thumbs up. Check it out on the Master Lock website where it sells for $24.99.

Coupon Codes Make Holiday Shopping Merrier

November 26, 2012 – 6:04 am

Cyber Monday
If you are going to do your shopping online this year, online codes can help you maximize your holiday purchases. Check out KeyCode and CurrentCodes. Both have simple layouts that will take you right to codes for your favorite online stores. You can shop by a specific store, shopping category or even alphabetically to find amazing deals.

If you want more than just codes, check out CouponCabin and RetailMeNot. Not only do these sites have thousands of codes, but a network of users and bloggers that will help you save in additional ways. Both sites also have mobile apps for your smartphone.

Text From Your Computer Or Tablet

November 10, 2012 – 7:22 am

ZipwhipI love my iPhone and I have friends who swear by their Android phones. But, it is funny how we covet the features one phone has but the other may not. I must admit that I recently discovered an Android service of which I am jealous – Zipwhip.

Zipwhip enables you to send and receive SMS and MMS messages on your desktop or laptop. It uses cloud texting to share messages with your own phone number on multiple devices. You can also receive photo and video texts, and get alerts when you have a new message.

Unfortunately for us iPhone users, you must have an Android-based phone in order to use the program because it syncs with your text messaging service. Your regular texting rates will apply.

Once you install it on your computer or tablet you can send and receive text messages using a real keyboard. How great is that? It works on computers and tablets using every version of Windows from XP to 8, Mac OSX, and Android. Best of all the service is free as in beer. Check it out.

Click Here To Download Zipwhip

Fix Your Shaky Crime Scene Videos

October 30, 2012 – 7:41 am

vRevealWhether you are processing a crime scene or trying to capture your kid’s birthday, it is very difficult to capture smooth handheld videos without using an expensive tripod.

We have come a long way since I bought my first camcorder that rivaled a television camera in size and weight. Our modern cameras and smartphones are convenient and they produce high quality video but the videos can be ruined by an unsteady hand.

That’s where vReveal comes in. This free software can fix your shaky videos with one click. It also corrects camera noise, color and contrast, and fix white balance. You can also turn your video into panoramas instantly.

vReveal works with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 so check it out.

Cick here to download vReveal

Critical Upgrade For Flash Player

October 15, 2012 – 6:38 am

Flash PlayerFlash is required for much of your Web surfing, including online training. Adobe has patched some serious software flaws in Flash that could let hackers take over your computer. It is very important to download and install this critical upgrade.

Download the Flash Player

The Best Youtube Channel In History

October 14, 2012 – 10:28 am

History Crash CourseFace it, normally is a time sink where you go to watch silly jackass outtakes and cute kitty videos. However, I finally found a channel on YouTube that may just give it some socially redeeming value. It’s a regularly updated, fast paced series of history lessons taught by author John Green. Remember those boring history classes when you memorized a bunch of useless facts? Yeah, well this isn’t like that.

You’ll find a series of funny, yet informative videos teaching history from around the world starting at the Agricultural Revolution. Hey, if you are gonna waste time, you might as well learn something while being entertained. Remember the old adage, “Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.” Check it out.

Visit World History by Crash Course

Is Your iPhone Watching You?

October 12, 2012 – 11:16 am

iPhoneApple’s iOS 6 on the iPhone has given advertisers a new way to track your Web surfing via an Identifiers for Advertisers, or IFA. When you upgrade your iPhone – or buy a new iPhone 5 – your phone will be assigned a random IFA number. When you visit a Web page or an app, an advertiser can see your number and the site you were browsing. This allows them to target ads to based on your interests. Its also kinda creepy.

Figuring out how to turn it off is difficult also. To turn it off go to Settings>>General>>About>>Advertising. Look for the section labeled “Limit Ad Tracking” and slide it to “On.”

Zotero Research Paper Help

August 21, 2012 – 9:25 am

ZoteroThe summer of fun is over for students and it is back to the grindstone. That means research and writing papers will be filling the evenings for both students and parents. Of course, citing sources is a necessary evil for any research paper.

Fortunately, today’s budding scholars have Zotero to help them collect and organize all their sources.

It can grab the proper documentation from most websites and research databases. Not only can you use search and save online sources from the control center, you can customize your citations and bibliographies for use in your paper.

Zotero works with both Windows and Mac computers and it can be synced across machines for access from multiple computers, which makes taking notes and collaborate a breeze. Zotero is available as a Firefox add-on or a standalone program so check out the filenames on the Downloads page to find the right one for your computer.

Best of all – it is FREE (as in beer). Check it out at

Moving Apps To Sidebar In Mountain Lion

August 14, 2012 – 9:53 am

Mountain LionDepending on whether you are a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” type of person, change can be good or bad. I generally enjoy the changes Apple makes to the OS X operating system but I did have a problem with the Finder sidebar after I upgraded to Lion (10.7) that I never solved. Now that I have upgraded to Mountain Lion (10.8), I figured I would try to find a solution to the problem since I never got around to solving it.

The problem was I couldn’t drag an application from the Applications folder into the sidebar for quick access. In earlier versions of OS X, I added and removed applications and files at will by simply dragging them to or from the sidebar.

After A little Google research, I found the solution on The Macosxhints Forums. Just open a Finder window, highlight the the application you want to move to the sidebar, hold down the Command key and drag the app to the sidebar. You can also highlight the app, then click on File, Add to Sidebar or just push the Command+T key combination.

Simple isn’t it? Of course it is!  Everything is simple once you know the answer. Don’t act like you already knew it!

Who Needs A Start Button? Me!

June 25, 2012 – 9:50 am

StardockMost of you have probably already deduced that I am not a big fan of Windows computers. If I have a choice, I would choose a Mac and and an iPhone any day. Unfortunately, just about every job I have had required the use of a Windows computer so I have had to stay current with using the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office. I also run a version of Windows on my MacBook Pro (using Parallel’s Desktop) so that I can continue to run a couple of Windows only applications that I need to produce online training. However, that doesn’t mean I want to be a Windows geek. I like to get in and get out of the operating system as quickly as possible. That is why I was disappointed to learn that Microsoft decided to drop the Start button and go with a “Start screen”.

However, just when I was thinking I was going to have to spend time learning how to navigate around the Window 8 operating system, Stardock came to my rescue with a free program called Start8.

The goodnews is Start8 puts the Start button back to the taskbar and even makes the Start screen a little more mouse friendly. The feature list includes the following:

– Adds a “Start” menu to the Windows 8 taskbar
– Enables quick access and searching of your installed applications
– Adds Run… option via right-click menu
– Adds Shutdown… option via right-click menu
– Choose a custom Start button image
– Adds control over the “Start” menu size on the Explorer desktop
– Adds option for the “WinKey” to show fullscreen “Metro” desktop

Best of all, the Start8 is Free – as in beer. So if you want to move to Windows 8 but you aren’t ready to give up the look and feel of previous versions of Windows completely, give Start8 a look.

Download Start8 for Windows 8

The Perfect Notebook Backpack

June 24, 2012 – 17:32 pm

Timbuk2 notebook backpackPerfect? Probably not. I mean it doesn’t have an automatic Espresso maker or a GPS or any of those other gadgets that make computer related devices really cool. However, if you are looking for a great backpack that will allow you to safely transport your treasured Macbook Pro (or even one of those heathen Window notebooks) I think I found it. There I was perusing Craigslist when I saw an ad for a Timbuk2 notebook backpack.

I am not going to go into all the features of the back back since you can simply watch this video on their website, which does a much better job of describing the pack than I could ever do. I have the Q Backpack, which is one of their most popular models. The features are great, the size is perfect for carrying the items I take to work each day and, most importantly, it protects my MacBook Pro. So check them out – I think you will be as pleased as I was – even if you have to buy it new (which you probably will have to because I am not giving mine up).

Send Your Docs To Your Kindle

June 5, 2012 – 15:19 pm

Send To KindleMy Amazon Kindle has become one of my favorite tech gadgets. I have the Kindle keyboard 3G but if you are just looking for a great e-reader to use at poolside, I would go with the basic Kindle. The 6″ E Ink display reads just like real paperback book, even in bright sunlight. It lets you store thousands of books, magazines and newspapers on a single tablet device and the battery will stay charged for up to one month.

You can also store your own personal documents on the Kindle. This makes it great for reviewing your school work or business documents when you are on the go or just lounging around in the sun.

Now it is even more convenient. Just download and install Send to Kindle. This free application makes it easy to send document straight to your Kindle over WiFi. Best of all it works with both Windows and Mac.

Download Send To Kindle for Windows

Download Send To Kindle for Mac

Just Jing Your Screen Shots

May 29, 2012 – 9:50 am

JingA picture is often worth a thousand words – especially If you happen to be the go to tech guy for the family. Even if you aren’t trying to do an “on the fly’ tech tutorial or documenting an error message, screen captures come in handy. Unfortunately, Windows users tend fall back on the “Print Screen” button which produces a picture that can’t be edited or cropped. (Mac users are a little better off if they use Command-Shift-4)

If you want to enhance your sheen shot options, Jing can help. Just download and install this handy little program. When you need a screen shot, click on the Jing icon on the edge of your screen, drag a box around the area you want to capture, and save the image.

You can even put together a short screencast using Jing since it lets you record video and audio up to five minutes long. Jing is free, as in beer, and works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OSX. Check it out.

Click Here To Download Jing