Monday, January 19, 2009

Cut Your Phone Costs

By reviewing my family's phone bills for unnecessary options and by using VoIP, I reduced our annual phone expenses by $800.

Want to hear a shocker? My family ran up nearly $2,700 in phone bills over the last 12 months. And that doesn't include new cell phones, or our landline-based DSL Internet access.
Why so much? We have two adults and two adolescents. That's four cell phones and lots of text messages. We also have two landlines -- one for the family and the other for my home office.
Like just about everyone these days, I need to save money, so I set out to find ways to lower our telephone expenses. Here's how I went about it, and how you can do the same.

Lock down cell phone costs

Cell phones are the biggest expense in our family -- our bills tally more than $160 most months. They're probably the biggest phone expense in your household, as well.
But before you can cut down your cell phone costs, you need to find out what you're paying for. You should start by examining your last cell bill, but it won't be easy -- our most recent Verizon bill ran 34 pages, and required a translator.
I found more information, in easier-to-read form, on Verizon's Web site. If you're a Verizon user, you can log in to the site with your user name and password. Click the My Bill tab, and then, staying on the Bill Summary tab, click the Voice link. A pop-up will show you how many minutes each family member used during that month, plus the total. You can check other past bills, as well.
This information led me to an important discovery: We regularly used between 500 and 600 any-time minutes a month -- far less than the 1,400 we were paying for. Right there was a way to save money.
But how much could we save? That wasn't on the bill.
Which brings us to that translator I mentioned above. To really know what you're paying for, you have to call your carrier and fight your way through push-button hell until you get an actual human being.
The human being I got (who was very nice and who understood my need to cut expenses) told me I would save $20 a month by going down to 700 minutes. She also said that I could save an additional $30 by eliminating our unlimited texting.
Taking $20 off a $160 phone bill doesn't sound like much, but it's a start. You can also reduce cell phone costs by attacking the usage charges that vary every month. Here are a few tips.

Keep an eye on the minutes: Most companies offer several ways for you to learn how many minutes you've used up so far on a billing cycle. For example, Verizon users can dial #646 for a free text message.
Block music downloads and applications: Frequently, kids discover that they can download music and play games on their phone, but they don't consider that it will show up on the phone bill. And anyone can accidentally access the Internet and incur a charge.

Shop for better rates: Comparing plans is easy, but moving an entire family to a new carrier can be heartbreakingly expensive. If you added family members to your current plan at different times, each phone number may have a different contract end date. At no one time would you be able to move everyone to another carrier without incurring multiple termination fees. For a family of four, those charges could run into hundreds of dollars.
The solution? Wait until everyone's contract runs out before you upgrade anyone's phone or change the plan. Then everyone will be in sync.

Consider a prepaid plan: Think of this advice as a subset of "Shop for better rates." If you're using fewer than 200 minutes a month, a prepaid plan is probably your best option.

Watch whom you call: 800 numbers aren't toll-free when called from a cell phone -- unless you do so on a weekend. And international calls, even to Canada, are outrageously expensive. On the other hand, calls to other cell phones attached to the same carrier may be unlimited.

Make sure everyone knows the rules: No long, conversational phone calls before 9:00 p.m. on weekdays (or whenever the particular time is with your service). Keep texting to a minimum, too. (OK, I admit that we gave up on that one.)

Read more HERE!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How to disable the welcome screen in Windows XP

Prefer that Windows XP would simply automatically log on?

You're not the only one. The welcome screen, on a PC with only one user, is quite useless. To disable it, first browse to Control Panel -> User Accounts (via classic control panel view), and delete all but the main and guest accounts.

Next you'll want to select "Change the way users log on or off" and uncheck "Use the Welcome screen." This will also automatically uncheck "Use Fast User Switching" as well. Finally, you'll want to browse to Start -> Run and type in the following:

"control userpasswords2"

Uncheck "Users must enter a username and password to use this computer" - you may then choose to store a password or proceed with no password. Click "OK" to save your changes.
Important Note for ASP.NET Users

If you have the ASP.NET framework installed, deleting the ASP.NET administrator will cause issues. This account was created with limited permissions for security purposes, but if you disable it your .NET applications may not work correctly. If you need to restore the account for any reason, you may do so by browsing to Start -> Run, and typing the following command:

" %systemroot%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322\aspnet_regiis.exe /i"

Make sure to replace v1.1... with the .NET framework version you have installed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New and Hidden Features in iPhone Software 2.0

The 2nd major release of the iPhone firmware released with iTunes 7.7 can be installed on both the new iPhone 3G as well as the 1st generation iPhones and provides a slew of new features, some hidden and some obvious. Here are the complete list of features available for your iPhone Software 2.0.

Follow or bookmark links in text messages
Remembers text you typed in but haven’t sent yet

Video rotation lets you watch videos in both portrait or landscape
Video podcasts removed from the audio section

Retains your color settings synced from Outlook or iCal
Colors use transparency when appointments overlap
Wireless push sync with Windows using Exchange ActiveSync with Mail, Calendar, and Contacts on the iPhone
Wireless push sync with Mac using Apple MobileMe to Mail, Calendar and Contacts on the iPhone

Improved Image Quality
Location Awareness allows for Geo-tagging

Stores screenshots taken with the iPhone
To take a screenshot: Press both the Home Button and the Sleep/Wake buttons at the same time. You will see a sudden flicker on the screen notifying you that a screenshot was taken. The photo will be in your Camera Roll the next time you open it.

iPhone 3G users now get very large blue dot on the Map using GPS with your precise location, and the blue dot follows you when you move around.

Full Scientific Calculator in Landscape mode
Opening calculator and typing new numbers overwrites any previous number left over

App Store
Probably the biggest of the new apps lets you download and or buy iPhone apps using the wireless connection.

A new standalone app added to show list of contacts separated from the Phone app
This allows you to add new contacts while talking on the phone
Search ability added to contacts in both Phone and Contacts app
Push sync with ActiveSync or MobileMe

Favorites list now supports 50 entries up from 20 prior.

You can BCC yourself in outgoing emails you send out
Push sync with ActiveSync or MobileMe
Multi-move lets you select multiple emails for moving
Multi-delete lets you select multiple emails for deletion
See which account mail is sent from and change it on the fly
Save attached photos in emails to the Camera Roll by down on it for a few seconds
Apps like YouTube can now compose new emails with attachments added to them

Safari gets a speed boost and executes JavaScript much faster and fewer crashes
Tapping on embedded YouTube videos in web pages now launches the iPhone YouTube application and plays the video there.
JavaScript alerts rotate with the phone
Save images in Safari by tapping and holding on the image and you will see a “Save Image” button. Great feature if you want to use images you find online as your wallpaper.
The Timer section of the Clock app can now be set to Sleep iPod when the times stops. Great for imitating the functionality of a sleep button using music on your iPhone.

Fetch New Data toggles MobileMe and ActiveSync wireless push sync
Turn Location Services on or off to change if iPhone apps are aware of your current location
Restrictions lets parents protect explicit content on the iPod, Safari websites, YouTube videos and spending limits in the App Store and iTunes apps with with a 4 digit pin
Keyboard and International settings support multiple new languages. Toggle the desired keyboards for the languages you want under General > Keyboard > International Keyboards. Then in the keyboard use the small “globe” icon on the left side of the space bar to rotate through configured languages.
In the keyboard press and hold the .com key to see other tld extensions based on your selected languages. For example in the U.S. you will see .net, .edu .org, with German you will see .edu .org .de, and with Spanish you will see .edu .org and .es in a pop up list.
Reset upgraded to let you undo changes made to various settings
Import SIM Contacts
Toggle New Invitation Alerts On and Off for ActiveSync Calendar users

Last character typed in a password field is now visible for a couple of seconds before turning into a black dot in order to minimize typos
App Store apps have the ability to create their own panels under settings
Improved dictionary words and better auto complete
Passcode locking offers longer time frames including 1 hour and 4 hours.
In enter passcode screen, you can now make an emergency call with out having to log in first

READ MORE here!!!