How to: Download templates from Avery (without providing your information)

Today I was looking for a template to use with some business card paper from Avery. Upon trying to download the template, I realized that it wouldn't let me without me giving it a valid email address. I really didn't want to, but I did anyways. Now, I'm writing this so that others that might happen to read it won't have to worry about giving Avery their personal information.

First, you need to figure out what template you want. Once you have done that, get to the part where it asks for your name and email address. Then, copy the text that's in the address bar of that window. (On Chrome, this wasn't an issue, but when I tried it in Firefox, the form requesting my information opened in a separate window, which made this part necessary.)

Here's where things start to get fun (and maybe somewhat tricky). Paste the text you copied from the address bar of the form's window into a new tab or window, but don't press [Enter] or go to the URI (yet); it needs to be modified to bypass the name and email form.

Look at the URI, and it should start out similar to this:

Depending on where you are trying this from, the part that says:
might be different. Regardless, this is the part between the first ampersand and the last forward-slash before it; this is also the part that needs to be modified.

Change it to:
and press the [Enter] key, click "Go"/an arrow, or whatever else you use to go to the URI. You should get the download page for the template you wanted; it should say "Downloading..." (or something similar), and provide a link to click if the download doesn't start automatically.

If you do try this, I'd appreciate a comment letting me know whether or not it worked for you. Thanks!


Scan, Convert, Share using Android and ZXing

So, I had been looking for an easy way to scan a barcode and then share it as a QR Code (even if the original was in a different format). After a while going through several different applications with no luck, I finally realized what I could do.

The ZXing barcode scanner has a "custom search" feature that allows entering a custom URL for searching. I didn't think that I had any use for it, until I realized that I could use it to easily convert data read from a barcode into QR Code format.

Basically, all I did was utilize the same thing that's used by ZXing's online QR Code generator.
Here's how:
  1. Open the Barcode Scanner application.
  2. Tap the phone's Menu Key.
  3. Tap the "Settings" option.
  4. Tap the "Custom search URL" item (you might need to scroll down first).
  5. Fill in the box with: "http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=qr&chs=300x300&chl=%s" (not including the quotes).
  6. Go back and scan something.
  7. Press the "Custom Search" option.
  8. See below.
  • The "300x300" part is the size; I found this to be a good size on my Droid Incredible, but you can change it as needed. (It should remain a square, though.)
  • It doesn't like the "%" (percent) symbol. I haven't found an easy way around this, but I'm sure it could be put into the generator box directly using JavaScript; I just haven't taken the time to figure it out. (Let me know if you do, so I can link to it!)
  • If you scan something that contains a percent symbol, and it's not working properly, replace the "%" in the URL it directs you to with "%25"; then it should work.
Feel free to comment with tips/tricks/improvements, a better way of doing it, or just to let me know you read this post.


No more social networking for me

At least, not for the most part. After much thought and consideration, I've finally decided to abandon my social networking sites. That said, I might check back every once in a while, (possibly once a month,) but I definitely won't be participating as much as I used to.

Several factors influenced this decision, and I'd like to highlight a few:

  • Security. As most people with an interest in security know, social networking can be a very bad thing. I have not had any issues of my own as a result of social networking, but I'd rather stop before that changes (just in case).
  • Stability. Facebook, now the most popular social networking site, is by far the least usable of the three I'm familiar with (MySpace, Facebook, and myYearbook). Their AJAX code sucks. Their "applications" are a joke. If they can't fix simple bugs, I don't trust them to make sure my "privacy" is secured. Note that I put that word in quotes; I honestly don't believe it exists anymore. To a certain extent, yes, it does; to the extent of having a "privacy policy", absolutely not. That's why I've never posted anything on there that I didn't expect the whole world to see, anyways. Even the "messages" feature hasn't seen anything from me that would be severely detrimental if it were exposed. Either way, I'd rather not support a site that can't even maintain itself, let alone rely on a site like that.
  • Productivity. I plan on learning programming and attending DMACC; eliminating social networking will eliminate one of my biggest distractions.
  • Usefulness (or lack thereof). It's quite ironic that I would join a social networking site in the first place, considering that I'm not really a social person.
  • Communication. If someone needs to communicate with me, they have plenty of other ways to do it; I have Internet access and telephone service (with support for SMS). I'm sure that if someone needs to find a way to communicate with me, they can.
I'm not sure when exactly this will happen, but probably by the end of August, if not much earlier. It wouldn't be unlikely if the end of this week holds the last of my participation. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.


A Day Online

Note: I actually created this a while back, I just never actually posted it. (I did send it via email to some friends/family, though.) Now, although somewhat outdated, I finally got around to posting it here.

So, there I was, standing in the isle, trying to make up my mind on what I should buy to protect my new, $1800 Quad-Core computer, which runs Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate. I wanted to be safe from all the threats there are on the Internet. So, after a while, one of the guys that works at that Best Buy store came over to me, and asked if I needed any help finding anything.

Well, two and a half hours and $440 later, I ended up with a ID Vault, McAfee Total Protection 2009, Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware & Firewall, Windows Live OneCare 2.0, Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware 2008, Norton 360 Version 2.0 Premier Edition, and Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009.

After installing them, I decided to do a full system scan with each of them. There was no malware found in any of the scans. So, happy that I was able to figure things out for myself, I went online to download a copy of Photoshop, since I love to edit digital photos, and I've always been told that it is the best program for doing just that.

So, just like my training has taught me, I went to Google, and searched for places I could download Photoshop. I was looking at a few differents sites, one of which was Adobe, and the prices were too high, so I tried searching for download sites that had Photoshop for free. I got lots of results, and even I found one where I could download the product key for free, too!

Surprising, after my download started, I got a pop-up box from Norton AntiVirus telling me that my computer was infected. What the heck! Photoshop!? Who would have thought? Also, the Best Buy guy was wrong – it didn't pop-up in the lower-right of my screen as a little yellow box, it popped-up full-screen as a red and blue flashing window. It must have really been bad, too, because there were twelve exclamation marks after the part that told me I had an infection.

Anyhow, I proceeded to immediately stop the download and scan my computer again by clicking the button to run a full system scan that was in the middle of the pop-up box. It walked me through the process of downloading a program called Vista Antivirus 2008 – it must be really good to, because it said it was the only one I'd ever need. Too bad the guy at Best Buy didn't know about this; I could have saved a lot of money.

So, as I continued to browse the Internet, I saw a banner on the right side of the screen telling me that if I could shoot the burglar, I would get a new laptop for free. So I aimed the target and clicked the mouse, just as he popped up into one of the upstairs windows of the house in the picture. I got him! Wow, first shot, too! Anyways, it took me to a page where I had to sign up for different offers before I could claim my laptop, so I did. Finally, after spending about $832 on the online offers, I was told my laptop would be shipped to me in six to ten weeks at no extra cost. Even though it wasn't quite free, I'm sure it was worth it, because it said the model, an Acer Aspire ONE, had an MSRP of over $1999.99.

I decided to check my email before I went to bed. I was amazed at what I found – my email address had won the Nigerian National Lottery, the equivalent of $9,990,995.51! All I had to do was respond to the email with the proper information. The email address was a different one than the one I received the email from, though. It was explained in the email that this was for confidentiality reasons, which was fine by me; I'd soon have almost ten million dollars in my bank account.

So, sending the lottery person an email with my full name, birth date, bank account number, marital status, gender, height, weight, race, eye color, driver's license number, and social security number. Then, finally, I went to sleep, happy with my accomplishments of the day I had.

The moral of the story: Protective software is worth nothing if the user is too naive to make use of it.

Disclaimer: All trademarks/brand names/et cetera are property of their respective owners. This post is meant neither to side with or against any mentioned products, but rather to illustrate a point in a humorous manner.


Finally bought a TLDN (actually three TLDNs)

Ah, yes! I have been wondering for a while now when I would make that leap of geek and purchase a top-level domain name (TLDN), and now I have. I am not giving out the address, though, at least not yet. I still have to make sure I've got it configured how I want it; once I'm ready, I'll be sure to announce it. Granted, since I'm not using a hosting service, it will probably be quite slow... but still might be worth checking out (eventually).

For now, I've got Google Sites, as well as Google Groups; the latter is more useful at this point in time, since collaboration/sharing is my main purpose right now.