Sunday, June 28, 2009

Buxfer: Free Online Personal Financial Adviser

The World Economy not in the great shape at the moment. But what can you actually do to fix the state budget? You can not also help the states, counties, and cities to improve the financial situation, jeopardized with the thinning stream of the tax money coming to the budgets due to the unfortunate economic situation. But you can definitely work on your personal budget to prevent and avoid personal financial crisis. At least, you can try, and the free financial services, proposed by Buxfer will be able to help you with this not very easy task.

If you do not have a program you use to track your accounts and cash flow and are looking to get started, a service you might want to look at is Buxfer. This free service combines all your account information into a single view you can use to track your entire financial picture without having to log into each different site. Buxfer automatically categories your purchases so you track what is going where. Additionally, Buxfer offers the ability to track group spending and IOU’s. This is ideal for roommate situations or where you are commonly sharing the cost of different services over time.

Buxfer is Verisign and McAfee secured so this service appears to be safe to use.

What can you use the application for?
Buxfer is a wonderful site that helps its users taking good care of their personal finances, including financial relationship among their friends and groups in a very easy manner. The concept of keeping track of one's money online has been coupled with creative and innovative methods to give the users a comprehensive overview of their monetary status. Buxfer lets it users set up budgets, know where and with whom they spent the money, who they owe how much, split bills, assign tags to transactions, settle accounts online, synchronize with different banks and credit card companies and access the service while on move via their iPhones, Twitter or a simple SMS. The users can not only get to read the detailed analysis of their expenses but also it is represented beautifully using graphs and charts. All these features make the service more attractive and interesting to use.

What is the history and popularity of the application?
Buxfer is something that originated out of need. The originator of the idea, Ashwin Bharambe badly wanted some kind of an application that could help him keep track of his enormous list of expenses and bills. As a result of all this frustration, he ended up writing up a program for him and his friends to manage the monetary affairs among them. The concept was a hit among the group and this prompted him to co-partner with his another classmate, Shashank Pandit, to build a website. It was launched in December, 2006 and that is how Buxfer came into existence. It is actually an amalgamation of two words- 'bucks' and 'transfer' (xfer, for short). The creators were desirous of giving shape to a concept which would make tracking monetary transfers easy, effortless and fun.

What are the differences to other applications?
As far as other services on the net are concerned, Buxfer stands out owing to its highly creative and visually attractive design. The graphs and charts of all kinds which are used to represent and categorize the money transfers are a sheer treat for the users. It has a large number of useful features and the interface is easy to understand and work with. Perhaps Buxfer stands midway, ahead of some and behind of a few.

How does the application look and feel to use?
Buxfer has a white background that helps in enhancing the color of graphs and charts displayed on it. The entire set up seems to be simple and elegant. Instructions are written in simple words and working on the site is fun. It provides a subtle and calm environment and the site does not seem to be crowded. Pie charts, bar graphs etc. make the appearance nice.

How does the registration process work?
Registering with Buxfer is simple. One only needs to provide his/ her email address and a password. The email address has to be verified within 24 hours. It takes a few seconds to move on to the next page wherein the new user is asked to set up the account by providing the name of his/ her financial institution and account nickname. Instead, one has the option to go directly to tracking finances with friends. Once there, the user can add friends, tag transfers, use analytics or view the summary of his account. However, registration is not mandatory here if one already has a valid id on Facebook, Open ID, Google, AOL, Yahoo or Windows Live.

What does it cost to use the application?
The gamut of services offered by Buxfer is free of any charge. They have a tie- up with Amazon to facilitate online money transfers. As of now, the site does not generate any revenue but it has plans in store to come up with a lead generation system for marketing purposes and adding special features for individuals and groups. There are no annoying advertisements to pop- up and neither are users bothered with marketing messages.

Who would you recommend the application to?
The site is highly useful and functional for students. It can be used by those who are still in college or by fresh graduates. It is specifically recommended to the younger section of the society. It makes splitting, managing, tracking the money easier and lot more fun for its young users. However, it restricts itself to somewhat simpler tasks. High- end financial planning and advices can not be expected here.

Buxfer Features
  • Detailed analysis using colorful graphs and charts and comfort to add tags, allowing for better visualizing where the money is spent.
  • Auto- synchronization with banks or credit cards accounts.
  • Creation of groups to make shared expenses simplified.
  • Spending controls by setting up budgets and mobile alerts.
  • An iPhone interface, an SMS-based mobile system, and widgets on Google Inc.'s iGoogle and NetVibes Inc.'s homepages
  • Online money payments using
  • Easy accessibility while on the move via iPhone, Twitter or an SMS.

  • Simple to setup new accounts.
  • Simple Gmail-like design: No overpowering colors or over the top Web 2.0 schemes.
  • Simple yet effective tabs structure: They keep it simple, but the options they give you are very useful.
  • Useful graphs and charts: Charts that give you good, useful information.
  • Balance and spending alerts: keeps you up to date on what money is coming in, or out.
  • Budgets: Ability to track and stay within a budget in one or multiple areas.
  • Ability to track spending for groups: track what you owe, or what others owe you. Also gives you ways to pay them.
  • Users don't have to provide login information for their accounts.
  • Provides mobile access in a variety of ways.
  • Problems in setting up accounts with some banks.
  • Limited options for investment and savings accounts: No simple way to setup 401k accounts or some other more advance savings options.
  • Clunky importing of data: Some data imports re-imported the same data as new transactions.
  • Free membership is limited to 5 accounts.

Video Presentation (Web Interface):

Video Presentation (iPhone Interface):

Sources and Additional Information:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Free Legal Access to Your Credit Reports

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
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The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order, visit, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. The form is on the back of this brochure; or you can print it from Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through
You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.

Warning. Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law — Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores ”, or“ free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You want a copy of your credit report to:
§         make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
§         help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.

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Note that under federal law, you’re entitled to a free report in some additional cases, besides the once-a-year common rule: if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft. Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $10.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Personal Free Online Math Assistant

Some online professors are concerned about the new search engine WolframAlpha and its potential to give students the answers to assignments. WolframAlpha calls itself a "computational knowledge engine" and has the ability to calculate problems and deliver solutions - even for questions that no other user has ever asked.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported:
"The latest dilemma facing professors is whether to let students turn to a Web site called WolframAlpha, which not only solves complex math problems, but also can spell out the steps leading to those solutions. In other words, it can instantly do most of the homework and test questions found in many calculus textbooks...

Unlike Google, WolframAlpha features a supercharged math engine based on the Mathematica software used by many researchers. It makes a graphing calculator look like a slide rule."
Since WolframAlpha demonstrates how math equations are solved, students could easily get around the "show your work" requirement that is often mandated to make sure a calculator isn't used.

Perhaps online professors will need to come up with a new way for students to prove that they're working on their own. Or, perhaps it's time to embrace technology and let students use the problem-solving programs that will only become more common in the future.

The website is free for personal noncommercial use with no registration. The data comes not from the web, like in the regular search engine, but from WolframAlpha's internal knowledge base. Some of the data in that knowledge base is derived from official public or private websites, but most of it is from more systematic primary sources.

For those, who are in love with browser plug-ins, there is an opportunity to get extension for FireFox and Internet Explorer, or to Windows Vista Desktop or iGoogle.

And for Webmasters, especially specializing on the math related topics, there is an easy opportunity to embed the search box in the body of the site for the visitors’ convenience.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How to run Windows XP as SYSTEM User?

Every user account on a Windows XP machine is part of a local user group on that computer. A user group is a set of users who have a certain amount of control over the Windows XP computer. The four primary user groups are Administrators, Power Users, Users, and Guests. Let’s review the responsibility level for each group:

1. Guests

The Guests group grants limited access to occasional or one-time users. Once a Guest logs out, all files created by the guest is deleted.

Guests Can:
  • Log in and out
  • Run installed applications
  • Navigate through the file system
  • Shut down the system
Guests Cannot:
  • Do anything else.
2. Users

Users can perform common tasks, but have little power to affect the computer outside of their own account. The Users group is the most secure environment in which to run programs, since a User cannot affect the operating system or program files.

Users Can:
  • Create, modify, and delete their own data files
  • Run system-wide or personally installed applications
  • Change their personal settings
  • Install programs for their own use only
  • Access the network
  • Print to local or networked printers
  • Do anything a Guest can
Users Cannot:
  • Modify system-wide settings, operating system files, or program files
  • Affect other users' data or desktop settings
  • Install applications that can be run by other users
  • Add printers
  • Configure the system for file sharing
3. Power Users

The Power User class can perform any task except for those reserved for Administrators. They are allowed to carry out functions that will not directly affect the operating system or risk security. All domain accounts are part of the Power Users group on public Windows XP computers.

Power Users Can:
  • Create local user accounts
  • Modify user accounts which they have created
  • Change user permissions on users, power users, and guests
  • Install and run applications that do not affect the operating system
  • Customize settings and resources on the Control Panel, such as Printers, Date/Time, and Power Options
  • Do anything a User can
Power Users Cannot:
  • Access other users' data without permission
  • Delete or modify user accounts they did not create
4. Administrators

Members of the Administrator group have total control over the computer and everything on it. The user named Administrator is the default account within this group. The domain account of each faculty or staff member with a Windows XP computer is part of the Administrator group on his or her computer.

Administrators Can:
  • Create, modify, and access local user accounts
  • Install new hardware and software
  • Upgrade the operating system
  • Back up the system and files
  • Claim ownership of files that have become damaged
  • Do anything a Power User can
If you think Administrator has the largest privileges onto the computer, then you are wrong. There is a user who is named SYSTEM. SYSTEM has full control of the operating system and it’s Kernel. If you open windows task manager (press Ctrl + Alt + Del) you will see that System User controls several processes, which cannot be overpowered or closed by operator with Administrator privileges.

In this tutorial we will present a way to trick Windows into running our computer as System User. So we will get higher privileges over computer.

1. Open Command Prompt. Go to Start, and then choose Run. In Run option type cmd and click OK. After this, Command Prompt will open. You can get to the same option through the Windows Menu: Start->All Programs ->Accessories->Command Prompt.

2. In Command Prompt write at 13:55 /interactive “cmd.exe” and press enter, the time is usually a minute or two ahead of your present time in the 24 hours format.

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After a minute or two will appear new Command Prompt Window wit different title bar. It has changed from cmd.exe to svchost.exe.

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3. End current explorer.exe process. Open Task Manager, select explorer.exe and click End Process.

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4. In new Command Prompt with title svchost.exe write cd.. and press enter, then write explorer.exe and press enter.
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After this you will become SYSTEM user. 

Here there is a video tutorial showing you a similar approach to reach this goal:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How to Make your own Funny Error Message?

Today it is not exactly All Fools Day, but it was a nice try from one of my customers to sweeten my day with a joke. I got the service request for the system, where computer was broken, showing the error, which simple could not be produced by Windows OS, while looking absolutely authentic.

It took me some time before I realized that it is simply a practical joke. But that definitely made my business day. You can do that as well – brighten somebody’s day with funny error message. There is a handy free online error message generator, so you do not have to be computer or graphics Professional to make your own unique message in matter of seconds. You choose an icon, type text, and buttons labels. That is it. You are done. Save the result image in PNG format on your Hard Drive right away.

The service is free and does not require registration.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Promote your Site through Free Press Releases

Press releases have played a crucial role in many online ventures on getting the word out about a product or a specific service. The problem that mostly exist about press release sites are that a fee is required to get the press release out in the open. I compiled the list of the free Press Release Websites at RateItAll for the reason to get around this. You can use free press releases Web Sites to announce your new Blog or Site accomplishments. It is definitely recommended services to boost your site exposure, especially if you have some unique and important information to share with the World.

Below you will find 50 Free Press Release sites that you can submit to:

Friday, June 5, 2009

How To Transfer Large Files To Yourself

I bet, you have experienced multiple times the essential need to transfer big files from one computer to another. While there are many options to do so, when the simple email attachment size restrictions are applicable. I am constantly experiencing this need both in case of files exchange with customer computer and between my office and home computers. Definitely, the best solution would be FTP, but in many cases there are firewall/IT restrictions which make the approach unusable.

One of the simplest methods is using one of the free online storage hosts to load and download big files, however, lately, in our company all the sites providing these services, were intentionally blocked by IT. I guess, my company is not the only one, who considers this channel to be dangerous in terms of ability to easily transfer the confidential information.

Another method, I successfully use almost all the time is Gmail. Free utility allows me to use one of my addresses to store and transfer big files. I will present this opportunity in one of the further posts, while today I want to show you an interesting approach, offered by Jason Faulkner. It is simple, elegant, and does not require any software to be involved. The solution is in using my email account, but not sending actually the files, as you usually do when exchanging the small attachments (mostly, size is limited on most servers to 10 MB). Instead, you can use email drafts to transfer the files. Compose a message on one system and upload the files you need. Then save the draft. You can open your email in web interface from any computer and download the files from your saved draft. Since you never send the email, the server limitation does not apply. Jason claims that he has been able to successfully transfer over 200 MB of files.

Next time, you can try by yourselves…

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dangerous Email File Attachments You Should Be Aware Of is easy to catch flu, if you do not make necessary precautions. It is easy to infect your computer with unwanted disease, like virus or less destructive, but nevertheless very annoying malware. Rich Menga’s recommendations on how to handle certain file attachments are simple and straightforward: never open them. But the expectations that people would follow this advice would be unreasonable, taking in account the amount of video, audio, and other types of information being exchanged between computer users.

Being far from the anti-virus paranoia, I would definitely think twice before opening, even thou I am personally equipped with heavy arsenal of anti-virus, anti-trojan, and all other anti-tools. It is always easier to prevent infection than to clean your computer after.

Among the email attachment extensions that should not be opened at all, or if completely necessary, should be open in the special secure environment, are:

Very Dangerous File Formats

.reg Possible Windows registry attack

.chm Possible compiled Help file-based virus

.cnf Possible SpeedDial attack

.hta Possible Microsoft HTML archive attack

.ins Possible Microsoft Internet Comm. Settings attack

.jse Possible Microsoft JScript attack

.lnk Possible Eudora *.lnk security hole attack

.ma_ Possible Microsoft Access Shortcut attack

.pif Possible MS-Dos program shortcut attack

.scf Possible Windows Explorer Command attack

.sct Possible Microsoft Windows Script Component attack

.shb Possible document shortcut attack

.shs Possible Shell Scrap Object attack

.vbe or .vbs Possible Microsoft Visual Basic script attack

.wsc .wsf .wsh Possible Microsoft Windows Script Host attack

.xnk Possible Microsoft Exchange Shortcut attack

.scr Possible virus hidden in a screensaver

.bat Possible malicious batch file script

.cmd Possible malicious batch file script

.cpl Possible malicious control panel item

.mhtml Possible Eudora meta-refresh attack

Deny all other double file extensions. This catches any hidden filenames.

Dangerous File Formats


Most email servers outright ban the use of sending .EXE files and there is a strong reason of doing so since executable Windows files can easily lead to the most severe consequences to your computer. Even if you do not see the negative effect immediately, you cannot be sure that the installed possible software spy/terrorist has not started its destructive activities. If you need to test the file badly for some reason, open it in a virtual machine environment. And if it blows that up, no big deal because you can just kill the session and create another one.


These extensions (and some other) represent the archives. Everything can be compressed – from innocent document to virus bomb. While many security specialists recommend directing these files into trash bin right away, I would not be so conservative. It all depends… Just review the content of the archive before opening it.


These document files formats are considered absolutely safe in our communication world. However, it is not absolutely true assumption. Microsoft Office files may contain hidden elements anything from simple macro viruses (relatively harmless but annoying) to full-blown malicious code. To play absolutely safe, you can open the documents at Google Docs instead of opening them on your own PC.


WMV is Windows MediaVideo. ASF is Advanced Systems Format. ASX as Advanced Stream Redirector format. MOV is the Apple Quicktime Movie format.

All of these are video formats, and of them routinely contain malware. You should be careful opening this sort of files from unfamiliar (or even familiar) sources. If you are suspicious on the possible infection, but you still want to be sure, you can upload it to YouTube as a private video and watch it that way. That way, no malware code will be launched on you computer.


Dynamic Link Library. Can be used for a variety of tasks associated with a program. DLLs typically add functions to programs. Some contain executable code; others simply contain functions or data but you can't tell by looking so all DLLs should be scanned.


Microsoft Windows Installer Package and Microsoft Windows Installer Patch. Both files contain code and might carry the same threat as executable package.

Safe File formats


To the best of my knowledge there is no malicious code that can be executed from a static image format.

HTML formatted email

Both local and web based email clients have become "smart" enough not to load images, or any other "bad" stuff, automatically.

Audio files (MP3, WAV)

I have never received a virus or been infected with malware from a static audio file.

And finally if you receive an email with an unknown to you file attachment, make search to understand what is that, and only than decide whether to open it or not.
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