TwinSeas Computer Services

Computer and Web Services for The Delaware Valley

 Microsoft Paying Bloggers To Write About Internet Explorer | Uncrunched

The issue of “astroturfing” and manipulating the seemingly organic nature of the internet has been an of interest of mine since the Iraq war, when the media / culture of the US was orchestrated well enough to convince a vast majority of Americans to enter into a major war over lies.

Up until this point, my paranoia has been mostly politically based.  When I see people basically copying and pasting political talking points and using slogans to make arguments, my suspicions are raised as I’m sure they are to most people.

But I’ve often wondered how much of this is going on for businesses and other organizations. While I’ve been seeing firms hanging out their shingles to “manage” “online presences” for both for-profit and non-profit organizations, the big question has been – exactly what is going on?


Click on screen capture above for full article.

One answer, in part, has been offered by Michael Arrington, writing in his tech blog Uncrunched, where he reports a message received from a person working for a PR firm under contract with Microsoft.  (the image “Hi Michael”, is a crop from the original, which appears on the blog linked to by clicking on that image)

Note the message refers to “a sponsored post opportunity”!

You see, up to this point, when you’ve given NBCNews access to everyone in your Facebook contact list in return for being able to “like” a given news story, you understood what you were getting into.

But now, when you’re reading some local bulletin board and the conversation rolls around to something relating to a business, product, or service, you now have to be wary of exactly WHY the person is writing what they’re posting.

In other words, the posts you’ve been reading on message boards and other social media could be PAID FOR.

At least you’ll know one thing!  You’ll always get the truth here at!

Teen creates tool to quickly show who is funding politicians.

Teen creates tool to quickly show who is funding politicians.

Daniel Cooper on Engadget writes a story about a 16-year-old programmer who has developed a browser plugin that, when you mouse-over the name of a US lawmaker, will serve up a list of which parties have donated to their campaign funds, and the quantities.

via Teenager builds browser plugin to show you where politicians get their funding.


I hope you can read this with an open mind, and not a mind of “That will never work”.   I ask this because I have this idea which might very well take the Internet, or a big chunk of it to the “next” level.

Do I have to tell you that one of the most frustrating things I’ve see that has gone hand-in-hand with the growth of the Internet has been the music industry’s inability to adapt to the new media which the Internet has made available.

For those who have been busy, basically there has been very few dimensions of this – people getting music without paying for it.  We get that.  It’s wrong. (i.e.: illegal, and the laws that the RIAA has seen to have passed for them have gone far beyond the harm that the crime does, but that’s another post).

But the thing that’s bothered me has been the issue of derivative works and licensing.

First off, the music industry has to wake up about licensing.  It’s no longer the days when you could sell multiple copies of the same record because the old copy got a scratch on it or a cassette got jammed in the player.  Think about it.  Why should a user pay multiple times for licensing music when it’s just one person?  The days of fragile media are pretty much over, and the end of that generation of thought is coming to an end.

Time to move onto the next problem.  Derivative works.

Currently, if I take a video of someone’s birthday party, and they sing, God forbid, “Happy Birthday”, there can be a “charge” of copyright infringement.

If I were to take a bunch of pictures and make a montage of them in video and add some copy-written music which actually has some relevance to the subject (unlike about 90% of the music I hear on YouTube) my video would get yanked quicker than a $20 hooker.

So how could this work?

What if, on the consumer side, I had some software running on my computer which indexed every MP3 I have on my PC or even to some licensing / media server on the web.

Then, imagine if the player could link up a given, specific song to a video, to be played *along with* the video (pictures, etc).

Important Note: the video doesn’t have the song itself, but some meta-tags which will control the playback of the song (start-stop, volume) in synch with the visual presentation….

Perhaps the idea could best be explained with an example:

Say you’re a 17 year old kid with some great ideas.  You want to shoot a video with your digital camera and even your cellphone camera.  You want to send a message to people about how you feel about something.  You edit your video to use a popular song (example: “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones).

In today’s world, you’d pretty much have to stop there.  You would either have to be rich and come up with some licensing fees and some kind of agreement.

Record industry 0.  Creativity 0.

But what if there was some kind of special player which would take the video, and, either using a copy of a specific song that’s stored locally on the user’s computer, or dynamically downloading it from a server which acknowledges your license to use the song, the presentation could be viewed.

This inverts the current system of licensing.

This new system would make it the user’s responsiblity to manage the licensing of the music ala carte, instead of the content creator arranging some “bulk” purchase.

If the presentation used a song which the user didn’t have or own the rights to, then the software could guide them to obtaining those rights and then play the presentation.

Record industry 1!  Creativity 1!

In the almost too crazy to believe it’s true category, is reporting this week that a federal agency run by a hand-picked Obama appointee has launched a $36 million program to train workers, including 3,000 specialists in IT and related functions, in South Asia.

Information Week has also learned that a similar program, paid by the government, is being launched in Armenia.

I honestly can’t believe how our tax dollars are being spent to help other countries compete with our own people.

amazon_kindle_dx_1Jeff Somogyi, media editor at, has written a pretty scathing review of‘s new, bigger eBook reader the Kindle DX.

Owning a Sony PRS-505, I took the time to review the original Amazon Kindle, and paid close attention to the release of the DX.  Personally, I was dismayed by two features of the Kindle, and I was disheartened by the fact that the larger model didn’t move to correct these problems.

Perhaps the main theme of Mr. Somogyi’s critique was the price of the new Kindle DX (close to $500!).  The Sony PRS-505 sells for under $270, which at the time was $100 less than the same sized Kindle original.  This was a material amount, IMO, as the Kindle’s screen was identical in every way (same manufacturer) to the Sony.  The Kindle original lacked native Adobe Acrobat PDF support as well, and after having collected literally thousands of documents and ebooks in PDF format, I went for the Sony.

I should point out that the Amazon Kindle business model literally hard-wires a revenue stream to the Amazon book business.  The Kindle has a built in facility for buying books through Amazon.  While, as a customer, I think Amazon is a good company, I often buy things at Amazon, I think there’s something fishy about making the Kindle a Amazon store buying tool, and then making you pay a premium for it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kworld Media Player

Kworld Media Player - Shown here not much smaller than life sized

I just received my KWorld Media Player which I paid less than $55.00 including shipping and I’m going to have to give it FOUR out of FIVE STARS.

This is a fantastic value for a small device which supports both USB drives and SD Media cards.  I’ve only used it with a thumbdrive so far, but it has played MPEG 2 and Xvid videos perfectly.  The MPEG quality was DVD, so I don’t know what more you’d want.  The Xvids played with less quality, but that’s what you’d expect.

I was pleased with the remote as it ranked well with other digital video players I’ve used.  It doesn’t have the kitchen sink, but it’s responsive and allows for pausing, fast forwarding, etc.

Given the ability of playing videos using something with no moving parts makes this an great device for many display possibilities.  Think continuous gallery, kiosk, in-store and in-office displays using an inexpensive LCD Monitor.

Read the rest of this entry »

EasyImage Freeware Image ProcessorEasy Image Modifier by InspireSoft is a simple (and that’s the way I like it) image processing tool that enables you to resize images from an easy to use interface that supports drag and drop.

This little program lets you change the size of your images, easily making easy-to-email copies of those megapixel sized pictures you’ve been taking.

It offers many options.  You can change the dimension of your pictures (by pixel or percentage), rename it and also choose to convert the format to JPG, PNG or BMP.

It includes several more features but doesn’t get complicated.  These other features include optional removal of image metadata which is stored in your pictures, customizable JPG compression levels, and more.

I LOVE the fact that Easy Image Modifier is a standalone application and does not require “installation”.

IT’S FREE, not some limited trial version, but totally FREE!

My only reservation is that it’s missing the basic function of being able to rotate the orientation of images around.  If it had that one feature, I would say this would be a 5/5.  One really NEEDS to be able to do that.  Due to its omission this (version, see below) falls short for being a “must have” utility as one must have the ability to rotate the image.
Still, I should say that for what it offers, and it’s “price” it’s well worth the download.
UPDATE: the author of this program, Kevin Schneider of was nice enough to let me know that he plans on adding the rotate feature in a future version.  Check out his website for updates!

TwinSeas Rating: 85/100

WindowsOn Monday, a federal court judge rendered a verdict ordering Microsoft to pay $388 Million in damages for violating a patent held by Uniloc, a California maker of software that prevents people from illegally installing software on multiple computers. Uniloc claim was that Microsoft’s Windows XP and some Office programs infringe on a related patent they hold.

Consider how ironic this is.

Back in the days of Windows 2000, one needed just a simple serial number to install Windows and you were good to go.  When XP was introduced, however, the serial number was still required, but it was also required to either register online in 30 days or get an authorization code on the phone or Windows would stop working.

LockThis added precaution prevented people from having multiple computers, buying one copy of Windows and installing the same copy on all the PC.  This new scheme was well known for its problems however.  If one didn’t register, then found themselves outside the reach of a phone, their computer would become useless.  Many people, who happened to use multiple computers by themselves (like me!), were forced to buy additional copies of Windows.  I use and recommend Linux for PCs for many people which only need that free operating system  Windows XP also required re-registration if one changed certain types of hardware, such a upgrading their CPU.

The very technology that Microsoft used to inconvenience millions of paying customers was STOLEN!

So far this is all a civil matter and not a criminal one. The law does provide for criminal penalties in addition to any civil judgement that this case may render.

AnnouncementAfter having gone through extensive evaluation and testing, we have chosen WordPress as our new content management system!  This is after having developed our own, from the ground up, and trying several others.

We have had a very good experience with using WordPress for our last two websites.  We look forward to the wealth of plug-ins and other things which the WordPress community has to offer.

We still recommend and support Drupal for more advanced needs.