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Shutdown.exe has a GUI

remote_shutdown.jpg There are many ways to shutdown a Windows system, including the usual CLI and using shutdown.exe itself. But did you know that it has a built-in GUI?
shutdown.exe -i will launch to GUI itself. This allows you to set timers, warn users, and even log events. You can even send administrator messages to your users when you’re on your way to launching a reboot or shutdown of their system. This is available on Windows XP, Vista, and Server editions.

Why nonprofits need for-profit business mentality

Sitting on many nonprofit type boards and running my own nonprofit, I’ve changed some ways of thinking in the past six months.
You see, anyone that has been paying attention to the financial sector, and world markets would understand that the economy seems to have taken a turn here in the States. It’s hard for anyone not to see that actually with gas prices running sky high (technically that’s another story altogether, but we’ll visit that sometime else).
So what happens to nonprofits? The ones like my own do not carry salary for its staff and thus are purely volunteer based and non-fund driven. There really isn’t anything that you must do since we do this because we wish to do it. But there is another type of nonprofit. Those that actually work in the sector and is their livelihood. What about them?
Well, first we need to understand how most nonprofits operate. For the most part, nonprofits are either supporter driven, or foundation money driven, or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, if your nonprofit serves a pretty distinct niche, then either or both of those sources of funding can dry up very quickly when times are tough. And believe me, the whole grant writing, and asking money from foundations thing is a weary act.
That’s why nonprofits need to quit thinking in the old school fashion of holding out the hand and asking for money, and instead start thinking like businesses structures. Yes, the budget is tight, but think of grant funding as your VC or seed capital. Once it’s gone, you can definitely go back for a second or third round, but the idea is to use it to drive a recurring business, not one that is a one pop wonder.
Think about it. If you had grant money that was used purely for a project by project basis, then you would have to operate like my own nonprofit (pure volunteer). But if you could create recurring business from the initial funding? Then not only are you creating a recurring income, but you’re also abiding by your mission. This also frees up foundation money that you would have been going back for, so that the foundations can give to some other charitable organization. Let’s be frank, there are more charitable organizations out there than actual money givers.
There are a lot of reasons why operating like an actual business can pull a nonprofit through the hard times. Heck, most of these nonprofits already have a Board and instead of a CEO, you have an Executive Director. But either way, most of the planning and actual management team is already in place. There just needs to be a change in the school of thought.
Believe me, when times are good, it’s not such a bad thing to just ask for the green. But when times are tough? It’s more prudent to batter down the hatches and hold out until the storm is over. And nonprofits usually are one of those ships that are thrown wildly in the storm.
Photo Credit: (dbking)

Saving money for groceries with unit pricing

With finances tightening these days for most of the middle class due to gas prices soaring, any little bit of savings can help relieve some of the financial pressure.
If you’ve never actually looked at this or thought about it, it’s time that we did a little bit of education in how to buy groceries (and really anything else you can pick up at a retail superstore).
On the tags themselves, most people usually pay attention to the price itself. But there’s another smaller number there. A unit price. This means that if broken down by unit, this item would cost X amount per unit. Sometimes, the “sales” or even larger item doesn’t save you any money than buying the smaller amounts of the same item. In fact, just recently, I found regularly priced toothpaste in a larger tube costing less than the “sale” double-pack of the same large tube of toothpaste. Meaning, if I bought two of the regular price toothpaste, it would be less than the double-pack.
That’s the trick to unit pricing. Not really so much of a trick, than observation. With a little bit of forethought, you can save yourself some of those pennies. And a penny saved is a penny earned, as they used to say.
Photo Credit: (ninjapoodles)

Thunderbird Add-on: Sync Kolab

thunderbird.png The Sync Kolab extension for the Thunderbird email client allows you to set up synchronization with imap servers for both calendar and address books.
This is extremely helpful for those that are looking for portability and when it comes to working on email from multiple different points of entry. Now this allows not only your server-side to be at any point, but your local ends also to be synchronized in case you lose connectivity or something. And using iCal’s calendar format is pretty spectacular, since that’s basically the one thing that Outlook had on open-source type software.

Carriers get class-action against charged incoming text messages

I’m really not surprised that this is happening. Not one bit.
For text messaging, being charged for incoming messages that you have no way of setting a white list, or block unknowns, or ways of controlling incoming messages means that anything that is incoming is out of your control. And if you can’t control it, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.
I haven’t the slightest clue what the carriers will try to defend with, since outside of the perspective of trying to get people to get on the ten to fifteen dollar extra a month, unlimited text messaging plans, there isn’t a good technical solution that does the above.
From a legal perspective though, I’d be curious if you target incorrectly towards certain carriers if that absolves all named in suit from liability (since it’s pointing the finger at the group). The reason for this is because, US Cellular (which is named in the lawsuit) doesn’t charge for incoming text messages. Sprint and apparently AT&T allow you to turn off text messaging completely (I definitely know for Sprint since I’ve done it for my parents).
Whether or not this lawsuit comes to fruition, it does bring up a great point though. Why does the consumer have to pay for incoming text messages? The carrier might answer that it’s similar to the delivery of a cellular call, but it isn’t. First, you don’t need to answer your phone. Second, while everyone believes that SMS is a two-way communication, it technically isn’t. 2-way designates that you actually get a receipt upon delivery so that you’re guaranteed that the packets have gone to their destination. Instant messaging is 2-way. Internet chatting is 2-way. Phone calls are 2-way. But not SMS. Ever have a text message that never got to the person you were sending it to? Just went into the void, didn’t it. 1-way communication.
In fact, most of the time, people assume that SMS is a timely communication form, but that isn’t true either. In all technicality, you can queue up SMS messages and burst them. If the person’s mobile can’t be found on a home system, there’s a good chance that it could be delayed messaging. Anyone with texting experience should have experienced this also in probably the first month of going at it.
Either way? I’m curious as to how the carriers pull this one off. It will probably reach settlement and most people will get 500 text messages plans for a year or something since I seriously doubt they’ll go and change the internals to do text messaging policing unless forced to by the courts. Should be interesting to watch.
Photo Credit: (pouwerkerk)

iTunes Saturday

Apple iTunes Apple iTunes


UltimateDefrag is definitely a pretty awesome defrag utility. You can defrag down to the file folder, or even file itself. And you can specify performance level for that particular file or folders and use different types of defragmentation algorithms.
However, if you’re not into doing all that work and you just want to defrag your hard drive like every other utility, UltimateDefrag can do that too. Just set it to auto, and it’s fast and reliable (although not as performance driven as if you were hand-tweaking it). All this for 1.7M physical footprint. That’s pretty dang sweet. And you know it’s freeware, right? Supported on everything from WIndows NT to Vista. Now why couldn’t other people write Windows software efficiently like this?

Movie Review: American Gangster

The story of
American Gangster revolves around a real-life drug lord during the Vietnam War era, named Frank Lucas (Washington). He had seen what went down in Harlem working for Bumpy, and learned the tricks of the trade. He smuggled heroin in and started to running the purest drug trafficking there called Blue Magic. Unfortunately, Jersey detective Richie Roberts (Crowe) is on his case.
Interesting little tidbit, but Frank Lucas actually grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. Yes, the mobster was a local boy. Sounded like it was a very tough time too, but seems like he went all the way from where he stood in his youth with petty crime to the big time, and then back to nothing again after the feds took him down.
I have to say that this film is definitely one of my all-time favorite gangster films now. Not quite a rich history as the Sicilians in Godfather but definitely interesting enough to actually watch mainly because the script was great, the location (shot in New York City), and the actors. Worth your while to spend some time with this one. For sure.

LifeLock CEO gets ID thefted

Everyone’s seen this commercial. CEO of LifeLock, Todd Davis, places his social security number on the side of a truck. I always thought it was entirely silly since the three credit bureaus are the ones that actually track this information and no one can stop ID theft before it happens. Good pitch, but let’s live in the real world.
Well, it seems that the CEO himself got ID thefted. The fact of the matter is that LifeLock in itself is just an alert service that I can tell. That in itself doesn’t make it bad. In fact, I actually use one myself being that I make online purchases. But the part where they protect you directly from identity theft?
Sorry, but you can do everything you can to minimize risk, but risk is always there. It’s part of life. I believe that’s what a lot of people are not happy about being that the commercial seems to claim to be a protection service. Guess everything has to be defined, eh?
Unfortunately, while I don’t use their product, I think that LifeLock is getting the short end of the stick also being that customers need to do the homework and understand what services they’re signing on. It’s like buying pet insurance when you don’t own a pet.

Firefox Add-on: RefControl

firefox.png If you’re paranoid about people collecting every single little piece of data from you, then you’ll definitely need RefControl. The RefControl add-on extension for Firefox, basically allows you to spoof the referrer information on a site-by-site basis. This means that the sites that you designate not to know where you came from.
You can choose to send it based on site, or based on third-party requests which makes it a lot more functional than your regular referrer spoofer.