All posts by Andy Taylor

Andy Taylor is Host of TechtalkRadio and its affiliate broadcast. He has been in the Technology Media since 1996 and has served on the Panels at Consumer Electronic Show Las Vegas and Moderated. He has presented a weekly broadcast on New Technology and Gadgets in Tucson's CBS Affiliate KOLD TV as well as been a guest on Radio Segments around the country. He currently serves as resident Tech Analyst for KMSB Fox 11 Tucson

25 Websites We Can’t Live Without!!
It rules e-tail, with 34 different product categories (including groceries; new and used cars could be next) yet stays true to its bookstore roots, with nifty features like Search Inside the Book, and the new
AmazonConnect, which links you to blog posts from your favorite authors from the home page.

Apple Movie Trailers
Coming attractions for movie buffs and reason enough to finally get that broadband connection.

The place to go to create your own blog; tools are powerful and easy to use, and it’s free.

This wildly popular portal of classified ads serving more than 300 cities in the U.S. and across the globe recently expanded its real estate listings, and helps power
HousingMaps a mash-up that locates properties for sale using Google Maps. (Craigslist charges fees to real estate brokers in New York and for job ads in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but is otherwise free.)

Drudge Report
Matt Drudge, newsbreaker, got more than 3.5 billion hits in the past year

The auction powerhouse keeps expanding its repertoire, allowing users to write blogs and create wikis (collaborative info-banks), and to “Skype” each other about individual items up for bid (i.e. use the Internet telephony service to place voice calls)

Best all-around sports site, with sports news, sports videos, sports columns and sports data galore. Honorable mention goes to, which lets you watch baseball games that aren’t broadcast in your local TV market. The service’s success inspired CBS Sports to team up with NCAA to offer March Madness on Demand which drew 5 million viewers earlier this year.

Picks apart speeches, press releases, TV ads and other public statements by politicians of all stripes to set the record straight.

This public showroom for personal pics is one of the fastest-growing social networks on the Web, and now it has a

What started as the Web’s best search engine has become a jack-of-all-trades, offering all sorts of free applications, from
Spreadsheets and Calendar to Picasa (for digital photos) and Gmail. There’s Google Scholar, which lets you search for academic papers on any topic, and Google Finance (nice charts!); Google Maps has inspired countless “mash-ups” including Register for a free account and you can personalize your home page too. Click here, for a menu of features and services that have officially launched; go to Google Labs for the new stuff that’s still in beta (such as Spreadsheets). The unaffiliated (but lovingly devoted) has helpful tips and advice for making the most of all things Google. Read more about some of Google’s latest-greatest features in the TIME archives.

Easy-breezy explanations of how things work, from money laundering to hybrid cars, game consoles to the human kidneys.

The Internet Movie Database
Encyclopedia of entertainment that covers some 800,000 films, television shows and video game titles. Users help keep the Internet Movie Database current, submitting 16 million data bits in 2005 alone.

Computer-tech tips and tricks to help you save time, and keep you sane; sister-blog
Gizmodo gives up all the latest gadget news. Too mainstream for you? Best to head over to our favorite geek-convention,

The Museum of Modern Art
Now available: MoMA Audio, a selection of museum tours as downloadable podcasts. Wear your own earbuds as you walk through the special exhibitions or the permanent collection; separate audio tours are available for kids and for the visually impaired.

More than 60,000 DVD titles available to rent, from classics to art-house flicks to major studio releases. Digital delivery is scheduled to start early next year, but don’t expect those red mailers to be phased out anytime soon.

National Public Radio
Not to miss: NPR podcasts, NPR music, NPR This I Believe,
NPR Stories.

The Onion
Long before The Daily Show, long before Stephen Colbert, there was The Onion, and it’s still hilarious, and now you don’t need a subscription to read the fake news archives. Podcasts are also now available.

Rotten Tomatoes
Gathers movie reviews from far and wide, and reports box office and other stats; flicks receive a critical average on the 100-point “tomatometer.” also gets a nod for streaming episodes of “Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony,” an Ebert & Roeper spoof starring those lovable muppet-curmudgeons.

New comparison shopping sites keep popping up ( isn’t bad) but nothing beats Shopzilla‘s search tools and merchant ratings.

Blog finder that keeps getting better while the blogosphere gets bigger. Searches are faster and more accurate, and now you can personalize the home page; a new
Discover section provides a round-up of top posts by topic. Newcomer Sphere is also worth a look.

Television Without Pity
Bitingly funny TV show recaps.

The Smoking Gun
Continues to document interesting news (sample headline: “Six Skulls Found in Strippers Home”) and get the occasional big scoop, like outing writer
James Frey.

A real Web wonder: this massive, collaborative online encyclopedia is written, edited, and maintained primarily by volunteers; some 1.3 million articles in English, and millions more in 228 other languages.

Arguably Google’s toughest competition for top Web property. Check out the new
My Web 2.0 service, which incorporates the social bookmarking activities of the recently-acquired (you get to see where other people are surfing, and share your own favorite links). offers a visual guide to gridlock situations on major roads in 20 metropolitan areas; Yahoo Photos offers new ways to share images (more advanced search features, tagging and other tools); and the new Yahoo Tech page cherry-picks from CNET‘s playbook. Earlier this summer, Yahoo partner site scored with video highlights and a live MatchCast.
Simply the best place to shop for shoes online, with stellar customer service and free shipping all the time.

Are You 1337?

In a world where online gaming is very common, how do you separate the elite from the newbie’s? Shuttle Computer’s new XPC 1337 products cater towards the most elite gamers seeking the absolute best performance. XPC 1337 systems deliver blazing fast framerate with outstanding visuals in all popular online games including World of Warcraft, Counter Strike, Battlefield and others! These systems aren’t for newbie’s though; only the 1337 gamers can harness the performance of XPC 1337 systems.

Shuttle XPC 1337 systems are different from the regular XPC system offerings. These differences include specific hardware components, internal case designs and hand painted cases. A paint-matched mouse and keyboard are also included with XPC 1337 systems. XPC 1337 systems offer the absolute best technologies available. This all comes together to make one unique system with performance to boot—only the 1337 apply.

Visit for more information!

Unique Hand Paint with Automotive Paint by Smooth Creations What happens when the renowned Smooth Creations spends 8 hours in their labs with an XPC? Something striking to behold, and thrilling to game with. Each SDXi is individually hand painted with real automotive finish, giving each unit its own unique feel. Shuttle XPC 1337 systems are coated with premium automotive paint. The glossy paint provides a look unique to 1337 system.

New Ways to See Games in 3D

If, like me, you remember all those nausea-inducing stereoscopic shutter glasses from a few years back, then you’re already skeptical. However, these new products have some interesting and updated spins on the same underlying immersive concept, and each also makes use of the stereo drivers available for most Nvidia graphics cards (ATI offers no equivalent).

iZ3D 3D DisplayFirst up is Neurok Optics‘ latest iZ3D 22-inch widescreen LCD monitor, which succeeds an existing 17-inch model. Though the iZ3D can function just like any other 2D monitor, it contains two LCD panels to display into- and out-of screen 3D images when you’re wearing the company’s polarized eyeglasses (available in seven styles). I briefly tested the new display at the ShowStoppers event here at CES, and found the glasses to be lightweight and the effect surprisingly non-fatiguing.

Neurok Optics’ brochures state the monitor is “compatible with all major games,” but you might want to check for your favorite titles on the company’s FAQ page.

The 22-inch iZ3D has a maximum resolution of 1680 by 1050, a stated 5ms response time, 600:1 contrast ratio and requires a dual-output Nvidia graphics card. It’ll be available in May for $1000 and is $800 if preordered by the end of January.

HeadPlay Personal Cinema SystemI also had the chance this week to try HeadPlay’s new Personal Cinema System. Once you’ve easily adjusted the headset for your sight and facial proportions, you get the impression that you’re viewing a 52 inch display from six feet away. The viewer supports resolutions up to 1024 by 768 and for 3D content, from movies to a range of Nvidia-driven PC games, its single LCoS micro display delivers identical images to each eye to reduce strain.

The Personal Cinema System has a range of potential uses. Content is fed to the headset via the small box you see pictured. Dubbed the Liberator, this box includes two USB ports, a Compact Flash slot and composite, component and S-Video inputs. Thanks to this wide range of connectivity, you could connect your PC (for games, Web browsing etc), video game console, video iPod, DVD players and anything else you can think of really.

Unlike most personal headsets, Headplay’s Viewer doesn’t include integrated headphones. The company has instead chosen to bundle a set of noise reduction ear buds with the unit. I also noticed that the system doesn’t feature head tracking (which lets you physically look around in games). For that sort of functionality, you’d need to look at rival head mounted displays like Icuiti’s iWear VR920.

The $500 Headplay Personal Cinema System will be available in April.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 12:35 PM PT Posted by Danny Allen

Virtual Test Drive Office 2007

Tired of the old fashioned (and oh so very familiar) toolbar menus in Word? I don’t know, maybe you’re feeling a need to learn a whole new world of ribbons.

Start by reading a roundup of what five of our top editors have to say in Microsoft Office 2007: A Worthy Upgrade. It’s a hefty article that will give you insight into what to expect in the new version.

After you read the article, I bet you’ll want to try it yourself.

A hands-on test drive is just the thing to help you decide whether it’s worth the $239 upgrade. Go to the Test Drive Microsoft Office page and take it for a spin. It’s a virtual, online sandbox where you can play with any Office product for as long as you want — without downloading it. All you need is a current version of Internet Explorer (6 or 7), a willingness to accept an ActiveX control, and a broadband connection.

And just as with the Vista Test Drive I wrote about recently, your bandwidth — or more possibly, lack thereof — may hinder performance.

A Look at the FutureThe online test drive also gives you a look at the future of Microsoft’s online applications. You think I’m joking? Microsoft’s looking at Google and facing some tough challenges. Here are two articles to give you some perspective: The IDG news service talks about word processing and spreadsheets in Google Refines Online Apps and Michael Lasky take a look at other ways to work online in Your Online Office.

The Whole Office ShebangSome of you with lots of time may want to download a 60 day trial of one of the Office suites. There are plenty to choose from, too. Would you like Office Standard or Office Professional? How about Office Small Business, or maybe the Office Home and Student version.

I can see that look of confusion on your face (it’s the furrowed brow). Check out TackTech‘s handy Comparison Chart to figure out which one’s best for you.

Article by: Steve Bass’s Tips & Tweaks, PC World

For Windows Vista Security, Microsoft Called in Pros

When Microsoft introduces its long-awaited Windows Vista operating system this month, it will have an unlikely partner to thank for making its flagship product safe and secure for millions of computer users across the world: the National Security Agency.

For the first time, the giant software maker is acknowledging the help of the secretive agency, better known for eavesdropping on foreign officials and, more recently, U.S. citizens as part of the Bush administration’s effort to combat terrorism. The agency said it has helped in the development of the security of Microsoft’s new operating system — the brains of a computer — to protect it from worms, Trojan horses and other insidious computer attackers.

“Our intention is to help everyone with security,” Tony W. Sager, the NSA’s chief of vulnerability analysis and operations group, said yesterday.

The NSA’s impact may be felt widely. Windows commands more than 90 percent of the worldwide market share in desktop operating systems, and Vista, which is set to be released to consumers Jan. 30, is expected to be used by more than 600 million computer users by 2010, according to Al Gillen, an analyst at market research firm International Data.

Microsoft has not promoted the NSA’s contributions, mentioning on its Web site the agency’s role only at the end of its “Windows Vista Security Guide,” which states that the “guide is not intended for home users” but for information and security specialists.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker declined to be specific about the contributions the NSA made to secure the Windows operating system.

The NSA also declined to be specific but said it used two groups — a “red team” and a “blue team” — to test Vista’s security. The red team, for instance, posed as “the determined, technically competent adversary” to disrupt, corrupt or steal information. “They pretend to be bad guys,” Sager said. The blue team helped Defense Department system administrators with Vista’s configuration .

Microsoft said this is not the first time it has sought help from the NSA. For about four years, Microsoft has tapped the spy agency for security expertise in reviewing its operating systems, including the Windows XP consumer version and the Windows Server 2003 for corporate customers.

With hundreds of thousands of Defense Department employees using Microsoft’s software, the NSA realizes that it’s in its own interest to make the product as secure as possible. “It’s partly a recognition that this is a commercial world,” Sager said. “Our customers have spoken.”

Microsoft also has sought the security expertise of other U.S. government and international entities, including NATO. “I cannot mention any of the other international agencies,” said Donald R. Armstrong, senior program manager of Microsoft’s government security program, citing the wishes of those agencies to remain anonymous.

Microsoft’s concerns extend beyond the welfare of its software when it seeks the security expertise of government agencies. “When you get into an environment where a Microsoft product is used in a battlefield situation or a government situation where if a system is compromised, identities could be found out,” and it could be a matter of life and death, Armstrong said.

Other software makers have turned to government agencies for security advice, including Apple, which makes the Mac OS X operating system. “We work with a number of U.S. government agencies on Mac OS X security and collaborated with the NSA on the Mac OS X security configuration guide,” said Apple spokesman Anuj Nayar in an e-mail.

Novell, which sells a Linux-based operating system, also works with government agencies on software security issues, spokesman Bruce Lowry said in an e-mail, “but we’re not in a position to go into specifics of the who, what, when types of questions.”

The NSA declined to comment on its security work with other software firms, but Sager said Microsoft is the only one “with this kind of relationship at this point where there’s an acknowledgment publicly.”

The NSA, which provided its service free, said it was Microsoft’s idea to acknowledge the spy agency’s role.

The NSA’s primary mission is signals intelligence — monitoring the communications of foreign powers, terrorists and others. But its secondary objection is “information assurance,” under which the security of Microsoft’s operating system falls.

Industry observers suggest that both the NSA and Microsoft have good reason to disclose their relationship. For Microsoft, the NSA’s imprimatur may be viewed as a vote of confidence in the operating system’s security.

“I kind of call it a Good Housekeeping seal” of approval, said Michael Cherry, a former Windows program manager who now analyzes the product for Directions on Microsoft, a firm that tracks the software maker.

Cherry says the NSA’s involvement can help counter the perception that Windows is not entirely secure and help create a perception that Microsoft has solved the security problems that have plagued it in the past. “Microsoft also wants to make the case that [the new Windows] more secure than its earlier versions,” he said.

Armstrong, the Microsoft manager, said: “The entire crux of Vista was security. . . . Security is at the forefront of our thoughts and our methods in developments and is critically important to our customers.”

By: Alec Klein and Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Staff Writers, Tuesday, January 9, 2007