Saturday, December 26, 2009

Samsung New PC Studio and Microsoft Windows 7

Well there is never a dull moment in the life of a techie, and Christmas is certainly no exception. This year we got our daughter a new cell phone, the Samsung Mythic a897 Phone (AT&T). It came with an installation CD-ROM and a data cable. So I set about attempting to install Samsung’s New PC Studio on my daughter’s laptop that is running Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium. It failed!

From the error messages displayed, it was failing to install the drivers for the phone. So after searching both Samsung’s site and AT&T’s site for Windows 7 specific drivers, I couldn't find any that looked trustworthy.

I had to make Windows 7 run the software while essentially fooling the software into believing that it wasn’t being installed on Microsoft’s newest operating system.

The first thing I did was go to the Samsung Mythic website and get the latest version of the software.

Once I had the new version of the software downloaded, I right clicked on the file to get the context menu and clicked on 'Troubleshoot Compatibility'.

Then I selected the 'Troubleshoot program' link.

Here is where you specify that the program worked with an earlier version of Windows.

I chose Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) and clicked next.

Here is where you have to pay attention.  Click on the 'Start the program...' button.  This will start the install of the Samsung New PC Studio software .  Allow the software to finish installing before returning to this dialog box.  Once the software has fully installed, then click the 'Next' button.

That will bring up the following dialog box.  Click on the 'Yes, save these settings for this program' button.  This way if you ever need to uninstall and reinstall the program, you will not have to deal with the incompatibility issues since this will save the settings needed to allow this software to run on your PC.

Finally enjoy your new phone and its software.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pay Attention to Changes to Facebook Privacy Settings

Many of our customers and readers are undoubtedly users of social networking sites like MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook. I'd like to remind our friends and readers of the importance of actually understanding some recent changes to the privacy settings in Facebook. If you simply clicked "Next...Next...Finish" and "I Agree" when this week's notice popped up in Facebook, you should read on.

Facebook introduced changes in their privacy settings this week under the guise of making these settings more customizable and granular for their users. I tend to think there are other reasons, but we'll leave that discussion to the dozens of other blogs and media outlets that are beating that drum this week. My focus in this posting is simply to make Facebook users (current and future) aware that by default there is very little privacy when using Facebook.

First, let's talk about what kinds of data you might have within your Facebook account.

First Name
Last Name
Phone Number
City of Residence (this could also be the city in which you were born)
State of Residence (this could also be the state in which you were born)
Religious views
Political views
Email address
Photos of you
Videos of you
Your daily activities and/or geographic location (depending on how much you offer in your status updates)
Job title
Relationship status (and the name of your significant other, if applicable)
Favorite movies, TV shows, music, books, etc

Now that you see the list above all in one place, doesn't seem like an excessive amount of information to be giving away? It does to me. I can't see why there is a legitimate need to share this amount of information with so many people. But then I guess that depends on your personal thoughts on the subject and, as we'll see later in this post, how you have your privacy settings configured on Facebook.

Who sees this stuff? That also depends on how you have your Facebook privacy settings configured. But first and foremost you should understand that Facebook's default and recommended settings let the whole world see this information. Keep in mind, Facebook isn't just an online community of your peers and friends. It's also a treasure trove of information for those seeking to steal your identity or tailor their advertising to you. Or to send you spam. Or to steal your identity. Did I mention identity theft?

Who has an interest in this kind of information? Identity thieves. Advertisers. Spammers. Your ex-girlfriend/boyfriend stalker. The guy across town who wants your new LCD TV and would like to know when you're out of town (remember, you told him you were in Cancun?). Your employer (you know, to see what you're REALLY doing when you call in sick).

Alright, so I've scared a few of you, open the eyes of some of you, and lost the rest of you. Well pay attention, the good stuff is up next. Let's take a good look at the settings that Facebook "recommends" that you accept.

Click on Settings at the top of the Facebook page and then select Privacy Settings and you'll see a page like this:

The first area to consider is the Profile Information section. This will show you the details of all the things you're sharing, and with whom. Things like birthday, relationship status, and employer can be found here. I suggest setting all of them to Only Friends. You can even set them to Only Me or to specific users by selecting the Customize option.

The Contact Information section allows you to specify who can view your phone number, email addresses, website url, IM screen names, etc. These settings can also be set to be available to a many or as few people as you like, but I suggest that they be restricted to Only Friends at a minimum.

The next section is one that I think is widely overlooked. The Applications and Websites area is one that can protect or expose a ton of your personal information. In some cases, this exposure can take place without your knowledge or participation.

For starters, click on the Learn More button next to the What You Share section. Read it. Understand it. Please don't take it lightly. When you use applications in Facebook, you are agreeing to let the developers of those applications have access to your personal information to do with it whatever they wish. Photos, personal data, email addresses, birthdates, children's names, etc. All of these things (and more) are surrendered when you use a third party application within Facebook. The What You Share section will help you understand this. Read it. Understand it. Did I mention identity theft? Yeah, see, you have no idea who wrote those applications you're using. Quizzes? Games? Send a friend a drink or a gift? Yeah, those are the applications I'm talking about. You have no idea who wrote them, why they wrote them, and what parts of your personal data they're taking for their own use (or to sell to someone else).

Another good place to keep an eye on is the What Your Friends Can Share About You. Click on the Edit Settings button for this section and find all the ways (and there are many) that someone you're friends with on Facebook can agree to give away YOUR personal data. That's right, you don't even have to give away your own personal information. An unsuspecting friend of yours can do it for you, saving you the trouble. Nice, huh? Do yourself a big favor...go to this section and un-check every box you see. There is no reason that any of your friends' activities should result in the exposure of your personal information. Can you say identity theft?

The last two sections of the Applications and Websites area will allow you to view and edit applications you have blocked or edit which invitations you have previously chosen to ignore. These areas are pretty self explanatory (by now you're getting pretty good at this stuff anyway, huh?).

So, are you a little more paranoid than you were at the beginning of this post? Good, then my work is done here. Remember, privacy is a right that must be guarded and protected. Don't give away personal information unless it is absolutely necessary. And when it comes to Facebook, it's never necessary.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

XP Backup Utility from Connected Solutions

Sometimes simplicity is the order of the day. We’ve all seen complex backup solutions for use in Windows. They can be expensive, cumbersome, and time consuming to setup. And then there’s Microsoft’s answer, the “Backup Utility”. This disaster has, in the past, left users scratching their heads for more reasons than one. Not only is the built-in Windows Backup Utility a pain to use, it’s format has changed from one version of Windows to the next, making it difficult for the average user to restore from a backup created using a previous version of Windows.

So you’re cheap and lazy, but realize you still need to backup some of your most valuable files. All that clutter you have on your desktop that you keep telling yourself to organize. Those pictures you’ve been meaning to make copies of before your next life-altering hard drive failure. And then there’s the stuff you never think about until you don’t have it. When’s the last time you backed up your Internet Explorer favorites? Yeah, that’s what I thought. We’re all guilty of putting these things off. So what should you do about it? Connected Solutions to the rescue!

With a little help from Simon Sheppard’s website ( we’ve developed a simple backup solution. This is nothing more than a batch file which will prompt you for the drive letter of your backup device and then make copies (uncompressed) of “My Documents”, “Favorites”, and “Desktop” of the current user to that backup device. USB Thumb drive? No problem. Firewire external hard drive? No problem. Network storage device? No problem. Anything that has a drive letter will work (assuming sufficient storage space is available on the target device.) This utility will create a folder on the target drive called “Backup”. Within that folder it will create a subfolder for each backup event and name the individual folders based on date, time, and username. For example, “2009-11-20-0946-BillyBob.Jones” (without the quotes) would be the name of the folder created when BillyBob Jones’ backup ran on November 20th 2009 at 9:46AM. Pretty simple, huh?

Currently this is only available for Windows XP (and it may work on Windows 2000, too, but we haven’t tested it). In the near future we plan to create a version for use with Vista and Windows 7.

REM Backup utility developed by Connected Solutions ( 11/04/2009

@echo off
echo This backup utility will make a copy of the following folders on the backup drive of your choice:
echo My Documents
echo Favorites
echo Desktop
echo Default location PST files (MS Outlook)
echo To ensure a successful backup all open programs must be closed now...
FOR /F "TOKENS=1,2 eol=/ DELIMS=/ " %%A IN ('DATE/T') DO SET mm=%%B
FOR /F "TOKENS=1,2 DELIMS=/ eol=/" %%A IN ('echo %CDATE%') DO SET dd=%%B
FOR /F "TOKENS=2,3 DELIMS=/ " %%A IN ('echo %CDATE%') DO SET yyyy=%%B

REM The following code was found on Simon Sheppard's website,
For /f "tokens=1-3 delims=1234567890 " %%a in ("%time%") Do set "delims=%%a%%b%%c"
For /f "tokens=1-4 delims=%delims%" %%G in ("%time%") Do (
Set _hh=%%G
Set _min=%%H
Set _ss=%%I
Set _ms=%%J
:: Strip any leading spaces
Set _hh=%_hh: =%

:: Ensure the hours have a leading zero
if 1%_hh% LSS 20 Set _hh=0%_hh%

Echo The time is: %_hh%:%_min%:%_ss%
ENDLOCAL&Set _time=%_hh%%_min%
REM End of code found on Simon Sheppard's website,

SET /P TargetDriveLetter=Enter the drive letter of your backup device:
SET date=%date:~10,4%_%date:~4,2%_%date:~7,2%_%_time%_%UserName%
md %TargetDriveLetter%:\Backup\%date%
xcopy "%UserProfile%\Desktop\*.*" "%TargetDriveLetter%:\Backup\%date%\Desktop\*.*" /e
xcopy "%UserProfile%\Favori~1\*.*" "%TargetDriveLetter%:\Backup\%date%\Favorites\*.*" /e
xcopy "%UserProfile%\MyDocu~1\*.*" "%TargetDriveLetter%:\Backup\%date%\My Documents\*.*" /e
xcopy "%UserProfile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\*.*" "%TargetDriveLetter%:\Backup\%date%\OutLook Files\*.*" /e
echo Your backup is complete
echo Your backup location is: %TargetDriveLetter%:\Backup\%date%
echo This utility developed by Connected Solutions (

Feel free to copy the code above into a batch file or just download a zipped one from here.
If you would like to modify this utility please leave all credits and comments in place. Hey, it's free, don't act like you have to steal it!