Mastodon Technology – Page 2 – Josh Hrach

How-To: Fix Trend Micro Add-In Missing in Microsoft Outlook

This post will be the first of many that I plan to write that detail some bugs, technical issues, and problems I’ve had to fix in some way.

I had a friend come to me with an issue: Every time they started up Outlook, they received an error saying that the Trend Micro add-in was missing. Reinstalling Trend Micro did not correct this issue. I thought this was going to be an easy fix. I started by trying to disable the plugin via the Tools/Options area of Outlook. Unfortunately, there was no listing for anything from Trend Micro. Yet, Outlook seemed to think there was something.

One solution I found online was to delete the extend.dat file that Outlook uses to know which extensions are installed. On Windows XP, that is found at:

C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\

On Windows Vista and Windows 7:


Once this file was deleted, I reopened Outlook. Outlook rebuilt the file, and we never saw an issue with a ghost Trend Micro plugin again.

Did you find this solution helpful? Or did you find another solution to this problem? Leave a comment!

4 Ways to Protect Your Online Accounts

It seems that more and more people are finding their Twitter accounts hacked unknowingly. If you use Twitter, you undoubtedly have seen it. Your friends post a reply or a direct message (DM) with a link to you but from out of the blue. ‘Why would they care about my IQ?‘ you may ask yourself.

Well, here are X tips to help you stay safe on Twitter (and other online sites)!

  1. Never give out your password – This is the most important rule. Even if someone claims to be a Twitter owner, do NOT give out your password!
  2. Don’t click links from strangers – Remember when your mom would tell you not take take candy from someone you didn’t know? Well, even though you’re older, live on your own, and have a job, the rule still applies. Watch what strangers send you. If you get a random @reply saying “Hey, I saw you in this pic.”, don’t click it!
  3. Watch for odd links from friends – Just because you have followed so-and-so for a long time doesn’t mean that all that they post is ok. Make sure that what they send is in line with what they usually send. Do they never DM you, but you suddenly receive a DM with a link? (As a side note, I’m not saying to click on links from your friends. If it’s a legitimate link, they’re sharing it with you for a reason!)
  4. Avoid Phishing Scams – What do I mean by phishing scam? Well, let’s say someone wanted you to think you were signing in to Twitter. It may even be identical to the real login page! But, the URL might say That is how you can tell if it is fake. So, how can you stay safe from this?  If you need to login in a site, make sure that you’re truly at the site before you log in! For example, if you are signing in to Facebook, make sure you’re at before entering in your password.

In short, think before you do anything. It’s always better to play it safe. Common sense is the big key. Keep some of that and you’ll be safer already!

How Do YOU Use Social Media?

I’ve been thinking about social media and how it has expanded in recent years. In the days before Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, social networks seemed to be much smaller groups of individuals. You would have your Livejournal, Xanga, or ezBoard (now Yuku) collectives, but none of them have the reach that social media seems to have today.

In today’s online world, with just under 10% of the world’s population on Facebook alone, social media is playing an important role in the modern world. Businesses are finding more and more use for social media networks to relay information and communicate with customers.

I’m curious how other individuals and businesses use social media. Please take the time to comment on this blog and answer the question: How do you use social media?

Twitter Approaching 10 Billion Tweets?! Amazing!

It’s hard to believe that Twitter is already approaching the 10 billion tweet mark. It seems like not too long ago, we were faced with the Twitpocalypse.  But, in under two days, Twitter will break past 10 billion tweets.

That comes out to lots and lots of messages that are being sent across Twitter! Want to get a visual on just how fast tweets are coming in? Check this link out!  Hundreds of tweets are generated each second. That’s so hard to believe.

Of course, with all of this happening, I just have one thing to ask: If Apple can reward someone for buying their 10 billionth song, can Twitter give away a $10,000 gift card for sending the 10 billionth tweet? Just saying.

Possible Star Trek Online Release Date

The website has just posted a new article that details a possible release date for Star Trek Online, an exciting new MMORPG coming from Cryptic Studios.

The basis for this guess comes from the fact that has put up a pre-order for Star Trek Online. And guess what? They’ve got a date attached: February 2, 2010.  And given that we already know that the game will be released in Q1 2010, this could possibly be a correct date.

Should we lock in that date for the release? Not necessarily. As no official release date has been given by Cryptic, it’s possible that that date is only a temporary one while Amazon (and the rest of us) waits to hear an official one given from Cryptic.

On a side note, do consider pre-ordering the game. The perks, as listed on, aren’t too bad: access to open beta and a special bridge officer for your character.  Seems like a nice little addition to having the game reserved for you. Oh, and the 6% savings you get for pre-ordering right now, too, is nice.

In Memoriam: Geocities (1995-2009)

Remember when the biggest question on the internet was “Frames or No Frames“?

Well, years ago, when one wanted to run a website, there were few places you could go. Geocities, though, was one of them. They were like the friendly neighbor that was willing to let you use their lawn for free parking in exchange for advertisements on your car to their own garage sale.

Well, as many different sites and blogs have mentioned, Geocities is shutting down today. If you haven’t done so, try to back up your data immediately. Otherwise, it will all be gone!

Ever since the notice that Geocities would be shut down back in April, I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful times I had with them. Ok, I didn’t have that many memories. Actually, I had very few. But still, Geocities was important back in the day.

For anyone that may not be familiar with Geocities, here’s a little history for you. If you wanted to host a website, say, ten years ago, you either had the few free services, like Geocities, or you had to pay quite a bit for your hosting. Today, we see a plethora of web hosts, which undoubtedly had a hand in killing Geocities.

I know, for my part, I had just one site on Geocities: The New Jedi Order. It was an attempt at running a clan back in 2001. My friend and I were big fans of the game Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, and so we thought we’d make a cool site to try and organize games with others. Well, that cool site only had two colors: black and neon green. Trust me, it does hurt the eyes.

While I’ve done much better with web design since then, I still will miss seeing my site on Geocities.  It’s so hard to believe that they’ll be gone so soon…

Geocities is survived by Angelfire, Tripod, and many web hosting companies.

Did you have a site on Geocities? Have any Geocities memories? Did you actually understand what the first question of this post was about? Please comment!

How To Be Safe On Twitter

I’ve been asked by several people to put together this article.  As such, if you would like to contribute to it, suggest improvements or changes, or even write a similar article for me to post, leave a comment and let me know!

So, you got yourself a Twitter account.  It is the big craze, after all!  But you’re not sure about all of the other Twitter users.  Or perhaps you want to keep an increased level of privacy around your account.

Well, this article, hopefully, will tell you how you can keep yourself safe on Twitter!

Now, why do we even need to consider Twitter safety?  Well, perhaps you want to keep your activity away from the public eye.  Perhaps you wish to keep yourself safe from possible predators or other ominous folks.

What are some ways that you can protect your tweets and privacy?

  1. Protect Your Tweets – You don’t have to have your tweets open to the public. There is a built in feature in your Twitter settings that lets you make them private.  The only way people can read your tweets is to be approved to follow you. This not only protects what you say but also who can read your tweets. This is the biggest step!
  2. Watch What You Tweet – This rule applies to anything you do online. With the increase in Twitter usage, it seems easier and easier to just post anything. Yet, that is exactly what you do not want to do!  Even if you have protected your tweets, do you want them to know about where you exactly live, or where you will be at an exact time?  It is always better to play it safe!
  3. Use The Block Function – Do you have some shady characters that are following you that you really don’t want to see what you write?  If you’re wary of certain followers, you can safely block them.  This isn’t a sure-fire way of keeping people away from your tweets, but it can help you manage trouble-users.
  4. Remember Your Audience – Even if you have protected your tweets, there is the potential that someone will re-tweet you. With that in mind, any of your tweets could potentially be made public. Therefore, if you’re going to tweet something, make sure that it is something you wouldn’t mind someone in the public seeing. This goes in line with point #2, but it still is different.

In the end, common sense is what wins out with Twitter.  Make sure that you’re always tweeting with your full thinking faculties.  Otherwise, you may find yourself embarrassed, frustrated, or worse.

It’s quite possible that I missed some options for privacy protection.  If I have, please leave a comment! As I stated at the beginning, I’d be willing to post guest articles as well, should anyone want to write additional material.

Twitter: The New IM?

I think this is a blog worthy of a little trip down memory lane.  All of this will take us on a cruise through the history of Instant Messaging.

Instant message has its roots before the days of the modern internet.  Some types were peer-to-peer, others had people connect to a central server or network.  IRC is one of those types, and it is something that is still quite popular in the interwebs today.

As computers became more ‘flashy‘ and graphical user interfaces (GUI) came on the scene, some of the more popular ones that we all know and love (or at least know) came about. These include ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.  Once AOL’s hit the web, other branded IMs came up.  MSN, YIM, and a few other three lettered IMs that probably came up, too.

Well, each of those offer a service that allows you to chat with one or more people. They send a message, you respond.  It doesn’t get any easier to explain than that!

So, what about Twitter?

I know that I am guilty of using Twitter for IM-type purposes. All you need is a Twitter app and you may as well tell yourself you’re using an IM app.  And, before you even know it, you’re trapped.

It all starts with someone posting a very interesting link about images from the moon.  Before you know it, you and them are chatting back and forth, sending each other @replies without a care in the world.

This seems to be the habit of more and more people. Have you seen this yourself?  Have you checked Twitter, only to find that the past twelve minutes worth of tweets have been between two or three people, all replying to each other in rapid fire?

With more people using Twitter, this could possibly be a replacement IM system. However, before you go dumping Pidgin and load up Twhirl, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Replies aren’t private – Just because you thought it would be cool to send a message to @BrentSpiner doesn’t mean that only they will se it.  So, while you may think it’s cool to start messaging your friends, remember what you put in those messages. If it’s private data, you probably shouldn’t post it on Twitter at all, especially a reply.
  2. API Limits – No matter how fast you want your friends’ updates, you’re still limited. Twitter has a limit and, unless you want to sit on their web page and constantly refresh it, you won’t be getting true real time, or instant, messages.

Does Twitter have the potential to eventually be an IM service? It’s possible.  It would take some changes on their set up to allow for it, but it could be done.  Will it be done, though, is the question.  Their current setup seems to be popular enough as is, so major changes would probably not be in their best interest.

Now, that said, Twitter is still a very useful tool for pushing out information to people. After all, it is called a micro-blogging platform for a reason.

Are there ways you can make Twitter more useful? I’ll be writing about that coming up soon.

What do you think?  Does Twitter serve as your second IM?  How do you use Twitter?  Leave your comments below!

Google Announce Google Chrome OS

In what seems like another big announcement today, Google has announced that they are working on a new operating system.  The Google Chrome OS is said to be different from Android and targeted towards netbooks.

It is little wonder that this new OS is targeted towards people that want to get online fast.  In fact, their blog post mentions the intention of the OS itself:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web.

For someone that has seemed to do a good job at providing both a great internet search engine and a simple, straight-forward browser, it is no surprise that they are pointing towards the web as the platform for their applications.  And, what applications would one use on a netbook?  Documents? Spreadsheets? Google Docs covers that.  Email? Gmail has that down, too. What about talking with your friends online? Google Talk handles that.

“Alright,” some of you may be saying. “So you’re suggesting that Google does it all?”  Not necessarily.  There are times where you might find a need to chat with friends on Yahoo or MSN quickly, which is where a service such as Meebo can come in.  Or if you need to pop on IRC to get some Ubuntu support, you can use a variety of web-based solutions, including Mibbit.

Overall, this may lead to a very versatile application environment:

For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies.

With the web as your platform, that gives you quite a few options.  And, if we can assume that Google Chrome will be the standard browser in Google Chrome OS, then you’re looking at a fairly stable, smooth operating environment for your applications.  Plus, there’s the added benefit:

And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

If some app happens to stand out on Google Chrome OS, it is possible it either already exists on the web or would be easily available for the rest of us to use (should we not be using Google Chrome OS).

As people use the Internet more and more for work, communcation, and the overall sharing of ideas, simpler and smaller internet solutions may be required.  Netbooks cater to that audience.  And, given how Google Chrome itself has jumped into the browser pool, Google Chrome OS may make a similar splash with netbooks when it is released.

Share your views on this!  Leave a comment or send me a tweet about this post.

Gmail and Google Apps Come Out of Beta

Fresh, breaking news from @Google‘s blog: Google Apps, Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, Talk, they’re all coming out of beta.  After being in beta for over five years, Gmail now will be without those four little letters that we’ve all come to know and love.

What does this mean for those apps?  Is Google changing how they’re working on them?  Not really.  Here’s a quote from their blog:

“Beta” will be removed from the product logos today, but we’ll continue to innovate and improve upon the applications whether or not there’s a small “beta” beneath the logo.

So, all that is changing is the removal of ‘Beta’ from the logos, it seems.

What kind of impact might this have?  Honestly, I already think of Google as providing wonderfully useful apps and services.  The fact that they now no longer list it as beta doesn’t change much in my mind.  But it may make things look more professional to people, especially those that may not know how well Google makes things.

Either way, Gmail and Google Apps are still very useful, and I’m glad they’re sticking around!