Quick Tips


What is GeeXbox? GeeXboX is a standalone media player. Its main purpose is to play DivX movies and other media files. It is a full operating system, running under Linux and based on the excellent MPlayer. You don't even need a hard drive, you just have to put the GeeXboX bootable CD into the CD-Drive of any Pentium-class or PowerPC Mac computer to boot it. I tried this distribution several year ago, on a P3 class pc, and it has the capability to play many other formats now.

It can play all the following files, as of 11/7/08.
  • MPEG 1/2 movies (MPG files, VCDs, DVDs ...)
  • MPEG 4 movies (DivX, XviD, H.264 ...)
  • RealMedia and Windows Media movies.
  • OggMedia streams
  • Matroska streams
  • Audio streams like : MP3, Ogg/Vorbis, WAV (AudioCD), AC3, DTS, MusePack (MPC), FLAC ...
  • Network streams : WebRadio and WebTV through SHOUTcast.
  • Watching analog TV and digital DVB
  • Playing analog Radio streams.
  • Playing files from your local network (LAN) through remote NFS, Samba (i.e. Windows) or UPnP shares.
All this can be done on an old P2-400 Mhz pc with 64 MB of RAM. The ISO only takes about 16 MB on disc.

This Linux distro shows just how flexible linux really is. With the creativy of the GeeXboX team and others like them, I'm sure the Linux and Open Source community will show us much more capable uses in the future.

Go download your copy of GeeXboX today! Have you tried GeexBox? Did you like it?


I've been recommending Paint.NET to many people looking for PhotoShop for two to three years now. Whenever someone at work asks me if they can get PhotoShop, I ask if they know how to use it. Most people do not, they end up using a $700 product to do what a free or $50 product can do. Paint.NET is just that, a free photo editing application, with a great number of tutorials and plugins on their site to help you figure things out. Their blog site is here.

When I need to make quick changes to a photo or screenshot, I use MS Paint, but when it is a bit more heavy duty, I usually use Paint.NET. This application has layers, levels and many other features that basic photo management software such as Picasa lack. It's not a full PhotoShop replacement, I don't think there is such a thing, but it definitely does a great job for beginners who don't have the time to learn PhotoShop. It is a lot easier to pick-up and go with Paint.Net.

So if you are in need of a photo editing software, give Paint.NET a try. You might save yourself $700 in the process. Now that is frugal. Download version 3.36 here.

What do you use for your digital photo editing? Have you tried Paint.NET? Do you like it?

Getting To Know Your Computer


I often find the need to figure out if my computer system or a friend's system can run a new software program. Most software has minimum requirements and you can check your computer specifications in various ways. If you are running windows and need to know quickly there are two ways to do this for free, without additional software. The first option is to use the Windows Help and Support menus, which provides a great deal of information on its own. I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn more about their computer to use this resource. The other tool is the System Information application MSinfo32.exe.

To get to the Help and Support system (pictured above) following the below steps:

Click Start -> Help and Support -> Computer Information (left pane of the screen)

From this, you will get the very basic information you are looking for such as:
  • Model of your computer
  • MFG Service Tag numbers
  • Processor Model and speed
  • Physical memory Installed (RAM)
  • Operating System (XP in this case)
  • OS version number
To get additional information you can run through similar steps in Help and Support using
Start -> Help and Support -> Performance and Maintenance -> Maintaining your computer -> Get Information about your computer -> View general system information about this computer.

However, I prefer to use MSinfo32.exe, which can be used to view information on remote computers as well. To start it do the following:
Click Start -> Run -> Type in msinfo32.exe and you will see the following window.

This application will give you nearly all the information you want from your computer, including the summary from the above tool, hardware resources, software installed, internet settings, office application settings and possibly other information depending on your setup. Under the Tools menu, you will find 5 other useful tools: Net Diagnostics, System Restore, File Signature Verification Utility, DirectX Diagnostic Tool and Doctor Watson (My Favorites in Bold)

While writing this post, I came across another website called Network Clue, which had a good list of tools to use for the command line in Windows 2000 and XP. I hope you have found this post helpful, and you have learned a little more about your computer. What tools do you use to gather information about your computer?

I'm Locked Out!

The first call of the day I received on 11/11/08 was to let me know that someone's account was locked out. This happens for many reasons, and this time it was a simple, "I changed the password and I forgot". We've all forgotten new passwords, since we all have tens if not hundreds of passwords to remember in today's networked world. To solve this problem, I went to my trusty little application called Account Lockout Status and checked, lo and behold, the account was locked out. I used to use ADUC (Active Directory Users and Computers) to check, which was a multi-step process of finding the ID and checking - on each domain controller (DC).

If you have the proper windows Active Directory (AD) rights to the proper domain controllers (DCs), this tool will save you hours of frustration when people call up about being locked out. I've been there, and this tool has made my tech support tasks that much simpler. Download your copy from Microsoft here.

Do you use this tool? Do you have other simple and productive tools such as Account Lockout Status? Let us know in the comments.

Why I Joined Twitter


I never thought I would join twitter, but I just did so today. Why did I join? I had read some favorable comments on some blogs over the weekend and decided it might be worth a few minutes a day to be on it. To make the most of it, I've downloaded Twitterberry for my blackberry, so I don't end up paying for SMS cell phone charges. For more blackberry applications and tips, check out my posts labeled blackberry on FrugalNYC.

For those of you who do not know what twitter is, its a cross between IM (instant messaging) and a blog. That's how I see it at least. Though the "posts" or tweets are limited to 140 characters each. This should be interesting. What will I use it for? I think my twitter will have some previews of upcoming post ideas, along with interesting website links I find.

Are you a member of twitter? Have you checked out my FrugalNYC post about Interesting Twitters? If you know of any interesting twitter accounts let me know.

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Free Anti-Virus Software

If you are looking for a free personal anti-virus, I recommend AVG anti-virus. There are other free anti-virus out there, but I have personally used this on my own and my friends and family's machines for years.

The download page currently has version 8 available to download. You can download it directly from here. You get daily updates, which is very important, and its frugal choice.

This software does not get in the way of your pc or work like some other anti-virus software that slows down your computer. I usually schedule my full scans for when I know I am away from my computer. You can turn off the scheduled scans and manually do so, but I recommend keeping the scheduled scans if you are prone to forget.

What free anti-virus software do you use? Why did you choose this? Have you tried AVG?

Meebo For Android

I've been using Meebo for over a year now and it is a great Web Based IM application. If you don't like to install instant messaging software this is the best way to go. Meebo has a very large user base and I know many friends who use it. You can use your existing AOL, Yahoo, MSN, or Google accounts to login. You can even login to multiple accounts at once without a Meebo account. They just recently launched Meebo for Android, so if you have one of the T-Mobile G1 phones, go and get your copy of Meebo. From this video, it looks very user friendly.

How to install Meebo for Android
All you have to do to get Meebo on your Android phone is head over to the Android Market on your handset and search for "Meebo".

Check out Meebo for your iPhone. Do you use meebo? Have you tried Meebo for Android? Share your experience with us.