is relatively new to the scene; they’ve been in the public eye since around the second half of 2007.

What is  Their company mission says it all:

To provide high quality file conversion for as many file formats as possible.

The interesting thing is that they are able to provide file conversion services without having to install any application on your computer.  All you basically need to do is specify the source file, select the destination format, and provide an email address so that they can email you a download link for the converted file.

Their main strength is the wide range of files they can convert.  It is pretty comprehensive!  That is why I mention that their service is the “mother of all online file conversion” services. You can convert video, image, audio, and CAD files just to name a few of the major ones.

On top of that, you can even take a Youtube or some other online video content provided you have the video URL, and download a copy of it to your computer!

There is a limit of 100MB for the free account.  You don’t even have to register to get the conversion services.   However, if 100MB is too small for you, you can purchase their service for a price.  Go to their pricing page for the latest pricing information.

For the free service, you get no online storage and you only get 5 concurrent file conversions at a time.  As for support, response time is only best effort.

Bottom line though, even the free version is a great deal since most people will only want to convert some files once in a while.

You need a tool that will allow you to record your computer screen or any part of it in order to show how to do something on a particular application. You also need to be able to edit your recording. Where can you find such a tool without having to shell out a few bucks?

Well, look no more, there is a jewel of a utility right from under your very nose. It is called Windows Media Encoder. This tool is available from Microsoft and it is free. All you have to do is download and install it and you are off and ready to do screen capture and playback.

This tool comes with the following:

  • Windows Media Encoder – main program
  • Windows Media File Editor – edit your media files
  • Windows Media Profile Editor –  use create or edit Windows Media profiles
  • Windows Media Stream Editor – use to combine or split streams

This is an illustration of how you would tie the belt.  Please pause it where necessary so that you can see every detail of the tying process.  If you need to, replay it until you learn how to tie your belt.

In the last few days there has been reports of a worm designed to wipe out your data.  CNET reports that this worm has already targetted US and South Korean web sites.  The worm travels through emails which has an attachment.  The email is basically a trojan with a payload designed to erase files on your computer–including the master boot record.  When installed on your computer, the malicious load with will basically render your computer inoperable on the next boot.

Don’t wait until this happens to you.  Take action; backup your precious files (documents, pictures, videos).  You have several options.

If you don’t have too many files to back up (i.e. less than 2GB), a free account at would do the job.  They provide 2GB of free online backup storage space; however, for unlimited space it is only $4.95 per month!  However, if you are cheap like me, you can try to convince others to to sign up for their free 2GB as well, and you’ll get an additional 250MB of storage space for every referral!

There are other online backup solutions like and; however, these don’t provide an initial free online storage space.

The other approach is to simply buy a flash drive or an external high capacity USB drive.  There are many out there.  I’ve seen flash drive with capacities as high as 32GB, but I’m sure there are higher capacity units out there now.  You can buy external USB drives now with over 1TB of storage space for less than $200.  As a matter of fact, I recently purchased one at Best Buy.  Over two weeks ago, I completed a full backup of my drives containing years of accumulated documents and pictures.

I know that if by some chance my drive crashes or I am infected by one of this worm, I’ll have my backup to fall back on.

So don’t wait too long before backing up your data.  Get that peace of mind that you have something to fall back to should the worst happen to your hard drive.

Mozy Remote Backup.  Free.Automatic.Secure.

Encryption: key to secured data transmission

Encryption: key to secured data transmission

Not many people realize that the traffic they generate on the Internet as they check e-mail, upload files, chat, and so on are out in the clear. This means that if someone tapped into the network (wired or wireless) where your traffic is flowing, that someone would be able to capture the information flowing through that network, and possibly interpret or maybe even change the account or various confidential information that may be in that flow. One way to keep those Internet peeping toms from seeing your confidential information is by using some form of encryption technology. There are three general scenarios where encryption technology is crucial. The first is the encryption technology you must ensure is used when accessing confidential information online. The second scenario is when you are sending confidential information to someone or some organization. The third is when you are using wireless technology to access your network or someone else’s in the process of connecting to the Internet.

When accessing confidential information online, you must make sure that the site you are connecting to uses TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security, the successor to SSL–Secure Socket Layer). You can tell this in three ways:

1) The URL for the sites starts with https://

2) There is an indication in your browser that your connection is secure—typically symbolized by a padlock icon (in Internet Explorer 8, it can be found to the right side of the address field)

3) Your browser indicates that it trusts the site you are visiting (in Internet Explorer 8, the address field background turns green)

For example, when you access your bank online, you will see that their URL begins with “https://”, and that there is a padlock symbol somewhere on the bottom or top of your Internet browser. When you’re browser is using TLS/SSL to communicate with a web server on the Internet, you are doing two things by convention—ensuring that the site you are visiting is who they say they are through the use of an SSL certificate which is certified by a trusted authority (for example Verisign) , and the data you are transmitting are encrypted and thus protected from eavesdropping exposure.

What if you need to send something to someone—like a file or an email containing very confidential information (e.g. a set of social security numbers tied to their corresponding owners’ identity)? If trust and confidentiality are important attributes needed in your communication, then there is a product called PGP Desktop that you and your receiver can use. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. The way it works is as follows:

1) Each user creates two kinds of crypto keys—one key is the secret key, the other the public key

2) The public key can be used to encrypt data. The data can then be decrypted using its corresponding secret key.

3) Say that user A and B have each created their PGP key pairs. User A wants to transmit data to B, and he wants only B to be able to read A’s message. They would first need to exchange public keys. User A would then use B’s public key to encrypt his data before transmitting it. When B receives the message, he can use his secret key to decrypt the message. No one else can decrypt A’s message because B is the only one that has the corresponding secret key to decrypt the message.

The use of PGP in the above example is just one of the many ways people can use the pair of crypto keys to encrypt their Internet traffic. By the way, the existence of PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) facilitates the exchange and certification of public keys.

The third and final scenario where you can encrypt your Internet traffic is WI-FI technology use. If you are using some form of wireless technology, you need to make sure you encrypt your wireless network lest you invite your neighbors to see everything you do on the Internet. Currently, the best form of encryption one should use for your home wireless access point is WPA2. WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. It is more secure that the previous WEP (wired equivalent privacy) or the WPA standard. By using WPA2, you are ensuring that your neighbors cannot see your private Internet traffic.

Remember, Internet traffic is generally not secure. To help keep your confidential data secured when it has to traverse it, you will need to put into effect the habit of only using web sites that support TLS/SSL. And if you need to transmit data to someone, you can use PGP. Lastly, make sure to use WPA2 encryption for your wireless access point to keep your neighbors from seeing your wireless traffic.