Mining Crypto Currencies Easily

Author: Steve Martin

BTCSo, I’ve been playing around with the buying and selling of crypto currencies lately like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Etherium. It is very volatile. Prices fluctuate like crazy. If you want to start, be sure to only use money that you could lose and not be too hurt by it. There is a lot of potential to make a lot of money though. The process isn’t too painful, but it can be frustrating too. You basically need to create an account at an exchange (lots of websites out there for it), transfer money into your new account, and then start buying coins. It works very much like a brokerage account where you buy and sell stocks and such. I mainly use and They are sister companies. Your login for one will work at the other. Coinbase is more simplified, while gdax gives you more options for buying and selling, like putting in limit orders and such. the gdax charts are a LOT more informative. I have attempted to create accounts at other exchanges as well, but due to the recent rise in awareness of crypto currencies, they are so backlogged that it can take weeks to get your account approved.

Anyway, this is supposed to be an article about mining currencies, so lets get back on topic. As I understand it, mining is the process of making the whole crypto currencies work. In order for all the calculations and transactions to go through, they need processing power to do all those calculations. If you let your computer do “mining”, or calculate some of these transactions, you get rewarded with crypto money. You can choose which currencies you want to mine and then exchange them for other currencies later, even US dollars. Some require a lot more processing power than others to mine.

I started looking into mining recently and have found one that is SUPER simple.

  1. Go to and create an account using your email address and a good strong password.
  2. Next, download the software using the link on the page for the operating system you use.
  3. Install software.
  4. Then enter your email address in the software and tell it to get started. That is it. You are now mining.

Now, don’t expect to make a million dollars overnight. But it does add up over time. If you have several computers that aren’t being used, you can actually make all of them mine for you. Just be aware that this will affect your electrical bill. You’ll have to decide if the extra electricity is worth the money you make mining.

Give it a try and have fun!

ASUS Support is Horrible

Author: Steve Martin

There are a lot of technology companies out there. I love the variety and the ability to choose. Some make great products, some don’t. Some stand behind their products, some don’t. I recently had a horrible experience with ASUS and wanted to put out a warning to others that may consider purchasing an ASUS product. They make a lot of different products, from full blown computers to components within computers and other electronics. My experience was with a motherboard, the heart of a computer. This particular computer was running beautifully for about 1 year, and then it stopped. It would not even boot up. When we would try to boot up, we would get a red LED light on the motherboard indicating that the processor was having a problem. I messed with it for a little bit, but couldn’t get it past the red error LED. So, I contacted ASUS to get the motherboard replaced. It came with a 3 year warranty so, not a big deal. First of all, ASUS apparently puts a sticker on their motherboards with the serial number on it. I guess they don’t always stick it on very well because our motherboard did not have this sticker. I looked everywhere for it, but it was gone. Without the serial number, ASUS will not give any technical support whatsoever (perhaps the unsticky sticker is a tactic?). I sent them the invoice from when this client bought the motherboard proving that it was still under warranty. They wouldn’t accept that. I begged and pleaded for them to support the product that obviously was still under warranty. They would not do it without the serial number. We ended up calling the place where the motherboard was purchased and thankfully, they keep a record of the serial number when they sell the motherboard. So we got it, smooth sailing now right? Wrong! They had me send the motherboard back to them on my dime. I thought something under warranty was not supposed to cost me anything, but whatever. I pulled the sparkly clean motherboard out of its case, boxed it up and shipped it to them. I then had to wait about 2 weeks before I heard back from them. Meanwhile we are without the use of this $2,000+ computer. Yes, $2,000+. This was a high end machine. I finally received an e-mail from ASUS support with an invoice for $142.30. I was taken aback. What the heck would they be asking for $142.30 for? I quickly wrote back and informed them that this motherboard was under warranty and there should be no charge. I then read the notes and they claim that the motherboard had liquid damage. I knew it was clean when I shipped it back to them, so any liquid damage had to be the result of something that happened after it arrived at their facilities. I was so furious. If they are not going to stand behind their product, then I refuse to buy their products anymore. We went back and forth with them refusing to send a replacement without us paying for another motherboard.

Anyway, I just wanted to put out this warning for anyone who cares to read and trust me. Stay away from ASUS. There are so many other companies that make better products and actually stand behind their products so save yourself the grief.

P.S. as I googled around about this particular motherboard, I found that I was not the only person to have this exact same issue with this exact same motherboard. They have a problem and are not owning up to it. I guess they all must have liquid damage or something right?

ASUS support is crap.

Just a side note, it reminds me of the movie Tommy Boy where Tommy’s company sells car parts. He finds out that some of their clients choose to buy from another car part supplier because they have a better warranty. Tommy reminds the client that his company sells high quality products and then gets sarcastic and says he’ll crap in a box and give it a 2 year warranty if that is what they want. The client sees the logic and decides to keep buying from Tommy’s company. So, even if someone offers a better warranty, it doesn’t mean their product is better, or that they will stand behind that warranty anyway. Just beware and choose wisely. You have been warned!

Windows 8 needs help

Author: Steve Martin

Let me start by saying that I am a pretty big Microsoft user. Windows is what got me interested in computers. I found it extremely useful and I could use it to get so much done. There were so many applications available to do the things I wanted to do. Because of my interest in Windows, I went on to become MCP, MCSA, and MCSE certified. I now take care of the servers and workstations for small and medium sized businesses. So, I’m no stranger to Windows. It has been my livelihood for many years. So, I feel that I am allowed an opinion of the new Windows 8 as I have been using, configuring, maintaining, updating, and customizing Windows not only for myself but for my clients since Windows 95 (I even played with Windows 3.1 a little bit).

I don’t know what these guys were thinking when they set out to create Windows 8 but productivity wasn’t really part of it. I get that touch screens are the new thing and totally different and require some modification to the traditional Windows environment but I think Microsoft missed the mark in many areas. I think a lot of things were changed just for the sake of doing things differently without much thought in making them better. Change for the sake of change is dumb, unless it makes for a better and more productive user experience. I think Windows 8 needs to be tossed out and started over for the next release. This is not just a rant posting. I would like to point out some of the things that I hate about Windows 8 and how I would have done them to make things better and more productive. If something used to take me 3 seconds but now takes me 5, it was a bad idea. I’d like to get rid of the “bad ideas” in Windows 8 because productivity should be the MOST important factor when re-designing anything in Windows.

Completely Disjointed – Microsoft wanted to re-invent Windows for the touch environment. Guess what Microsoft, most of your users sit at a desk with a keyboard and mouse all day long. Your new touch features are pretty useless to ALL of these users. Windows 8 is broken into 2 unrelated areas, the traditional desktop, and Windows 8 Apps. They don’t work well with each other. They are too separated and disjoined. It seems you should work in one or the other. The desktop is kind of like the traditional Windows environment, familiar  (once you add a third party start button), productive, and easy for most people to use. Everything else is Windows 8 Apps. They take up the full screen, have very few options for customization and have much fewer features. Whenever I am in a Windows 8 App, I feel stupid, like Microsoft thinks I am 4 years old and too much customization or features would make me cry.

My Fix – Marry the two. I don’t want to feel like we have abandoned the Desktop in order to go into a Windows 8 App. For example, by default on a fresh Windows 8 install, PDF documents will open using a Windows 8 App called “Reader”. I don’t think this app was made by Adobe. It doesn’t open a new “open program” reference in the taskbar like traditional Windows applications. So, to go back and forth between your newly opened PDF document and, say, Outlook, you have to leave the desktop to open “Reader” in full screen and then come back to the desktop. Once you are back to the desktop, there is nothing visible that would tell you that the “reader” app is even running, even though it is running in the other mysterious Windows 8 App area. You have to do this swipe action from the left side of the screen to see those Windows 8 Apps that are mysteriously running in the background. It would be easier to click or tap the “open program” reference in the taskbar the way the traditional Adobe Reader application works. In fact, I installed Adobe Reader XI from Adobe so I could get this functionality back. Having to switch back and forth from the desktop to a Windows 8 App reduces my productivity and makes me feel like I’m working in 2 different worlds at the same time.

Useless Metro Screen – The Metro Screen is what Microsoft has replaced the traditional start button with. So think of it as the new start button. I hate it for so many reasons. I try to avoid it if at all possible. They advertise this metro screen as a wonderful place to access your Windows 8 Apps and get updates from your live tiles. Ok, seriously, you really think I’m going to get much info out of these tiny tiles which are spread out a mile wide on the Metro screen? They can’t display much info. And what, am I supposed to spend my time staring at these tiles waiting for the next update instead of getting my work done? Right. Like I said, I avoid this useless screen as much as possible. The organization of these tiles is equally horrible. Sure, you can group them into categories that you want, but each and every tile is displayed at all times taking up additional space in the Metro screen. So, to have all the apps accessible, you have a LOT of tiles on your metro screen. This causes you to have to swipe and swipe and swipe and swipe through all those tiles until you find the one you are looking for. If you miss it, you swipe and swipe back and hopefully spot it. It is a waste of time.

My Fix – First, change the metro screen entirely. I HATE leaving the desktop to go to this other screen that shows a bunch of tiles. If you want to re-imagine the traditional start menu a bit, that is fine but don’t make me leave the desktop entirely to swipe through a hundred tiles. I’d say we still have a “start” button that opens over the desktop (can still see the desktop behind the tiles). I would want to see all my tiles on a single swipeless screen. I would go for more of an Android approach (I use an Android phone). On the Android phone, You can have a single square or “tile” be a holder for a group of other tiles. When you tap the grouped up tile, it opens to show you a bunch of other tiles that you have grouped together. I have a games tile, a finances tile, a church tile, etc. when I tap on one of these tiles it opens a bubble which shows all of my tiles that I have grouped into that tile group. So, when I tap on the finances tile, the bubble opens to let me tap on my American Express app or my bank’s mobile deposit app among others. So much cleaner and so much more organized. No swiping and swiping and hoping I don’t miss that ONE tile I’m looking for. I know exactly which tile group I saved my stuff in and exactly where inside that tile group I placed each tile. I can find things quicker. Forget this swiping through an endless sea of tiles.

Notifications are non-existent – Microsoft likes this new full screen for every app approach. That’s fine and all but it blocks everything else out of view. I can’t see when a new e-mail arrives if I’m working in the Internet Explorer 10 app because it takes up the full screen. I need a notification bar that is visible at all times or at least most of the time. Then I can see when a new IM comes in, or that important e-mail I’ve been waiting for. If I’m in some other full screen app, I would be able to tell when a download that I started in IE10 has finished so I can use it. I can’t think of very many apps that NEED to have complete use of every pixel of my screen. Most apps would do just fine if we left a little area available at all times to display useful info in order to keep me as productive as possible. If my only place for notifications is the new Start Metro Screen, I’m screwed since I always avoid it. Also, I really don’t want to swipe miles back and forth to check my “live tiles” for updates all the time.

My Fix – Keep the taskbar showing at all times. But, I would change the taskbar a bit. Instead of taking up the entire row along the bottom, let’s move it to the left hand side of the screen by default (we can let people move it to the right if they want or if anyone REALLY wants it, they can still have it on the top or bottom). Since screens are mostly widescreen these days, taking up a row along the left side of the screen doesn’t really take much screen real estate since the screen is so wide. We would then move the Windows 8 Apps back into the desktop and have them run more like traditional Windows programs. You can still call them Apps if you want to and still make them available through the Windows App Store. Why are we trying to ignore the desktop so much anyway. I feel like Microsoft kept it there because people would throw a major fit if they didn’t, but they ultimately wanted to get rid of it (thank goodness that guy didn’t get HIS way). No Microsoft, the desktop IS Windows. You can change it and improve it, but stop ignoring it and minimizing its importance by trying to make everything run OUTSIDE of the desktop. Embrace the usefulness of it and simply improve it. It allows excellent multi-tasking and super quick moving from one app to another to copy and past data. Switching between apps would be a simple left thumb tap. Let’s keep our Apps visibly running in the task bar along with the clock and notifications from whatever programs have a notification to display. I hate having everything hidden so I don’t know what is running, what is happening and can’t quickly access the data I want. Even the Android phone does a better job of displaying notifications. On the top of my phone I have a skinny black strip that gives me info most of the time. It tells me when I have a new e-mail, an app update, the time, wireless strength, battery indicator, etc. I like having my info visible at all times, no extra swiping and searching needed. Stop hiding everything from view. Let’s let Windows be windowS not Window.

Switching Between Apps – Again, this is kind of disjointed. On the one hand you have the desktop and it runs its own applications, then you have all the other Windows 8 Apps that run outside of the desktop (stupid). The desktop and all of its running apps is treated like a single app. Microsoft made it so that you can swipe in from the left and it will switch to the next open app in line. Swipe again and the next app shows up. If you have 10 Apps open, it would take 10 swipes to go through them all and one more to get back to the one you started with. If I just wanted to use this approach to switch between my e-mail program and some other document to copy and paste info back and forth, I would start in e-mail and swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe until I landed on the app I needed, paste my data and then swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe until I was back to my other app and can copy some more data, then swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe my way back. Does this sound productive to you? Me neither. And yes, I know of the other approach. Swipe in from the right, then immediately left and a list of the running apps is shown on the left hand side of the screen. Tap the one you want and you are switched to it. You can do that again to get back to the list and choose the other app you want. Still tedious, still unproductive.

My Fix – What if we had that taskbar sitting on the left hand side of the screen like I mentioned earlier. All I would have to do is single tap the running program I want, then single tap back to the other app. Nice and fast, no swipe, swipe, search, tap, swipe, swipe, search tap. Lets get back to being productive and let me rest my hand from all that swiping.


Things I LOVE about Windows 8

It’s not all hatred with Windows 8. There are some things that I really like about Windows 8. I am hoping that these things can be improved on even further while Microsoft is busy fixing the items above. The things I really like in Windows 8 are as follows in no particular order:

1. Resumes from sleep in a mere 8 seconds. It is actually only 5 seconds most of the time but it has never taken more than 8 seconds to resume from sleep so far. I absolutely LOVE this. With my old Toshiba tablet that I had installed Windows 7 on, it would take about 2 – 3 minutes for the computer to fully wake up after re-opening the lid. It would take just about as long to actually go into sleep mode. With Windows 8 it is so much faster. 5-8 seconds to sleep and 5-8 seconds to wake up. Microsoft, keep improving on this one, it might just be my favorite improvement.

2. Very Fluid – Even though I am not a big fan of the navigation with all the swiping to find things, I must say that the swiping and pulling in from the right and left sides is very fluid. We have a couple of Kindle Fires and they tend to have a more jerky experience when scrolling and swiping and such. Windows 8 is extremely smooth.

3. Better performance – This is only partially because of Windows 8. I’m sure they have streamlined things a bit so that Windows 8 runs better and more efficiently, but it will also be partially due to the fact that my new tablet has a solid state hard drive and better processor. I still like the direction of better performance regardless of what the cause is.


Call Santa 2012

Author: Steve Martin

It’s that time of year again. Santa is ready to hear from kids all over the world. Give him a call and leave him a voicemail. If you let him know your e-mail address, he’ll even send you the voicemail so you can listen to it for years to come. Tell your friends and family so they can make sure Santa knows what their kids want for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Google Apps No Longer Free

Author: Steve Martin

I love Google Apps. If you love gmail, then you love Google Apps too. Google Apps is a quick and easy way to take your business domain “” and drop it onto the free gmail system. Everything works pretty much the same as gmail except that instead of your e-mail address being, you can use something like Much more professional looking. And you get to use all of the same features and function of the gmail system. I’ve set this up for a bunch of companies and they have loved it.

Google Apps has always had more than one version, paid and free. There are reasons to choose to pay for it as it supports syncing e-mail/contacts/calendar with many devices, has many more features and works very well. The free version is a bit more basic but it gets the job done. I have setup a LOT of companies on the free version. Especially small businesses that only need a few e-mail addresses. They get a first class e-mail system and it is completely free.

Today, Google officially announced to their resellers (I am a Google Apps reseller) that they are no longer offering any new free Google Apps accounts. For those that already signed up, you can continue to use your free accounts but you can’t sign up any new free accounts. It would have been nice to have a little warning ahead of time so I could scramble to setup a bunch of new accounts but they only announced it after the change had already been made.

I am sad that they have done this. It had been a great way to help out my small business clients. Now if they want to use Google Apps, and did not sign up before today, they will have to fork over $50/e-mail account/year. If a company has 5 users, what used to be free now costs $250/year. If it’s just basic e-mail they need, there are countless hosting companies that cost less than $100/year and you can create an unlimited number of e-mail accounts. With the free accounts, Google was in a great position to convert free customers to paying customers as their businesses grew and they needed more than the 10 free e-mail accounts. Now, those small businessed will probably use other hosting companies and may never move over to Google Apps as those other hosting companies have unlimited e-mail accounts available for one low rate.

I’m glad that I was able to sign up my main domains to use Google Apps for free and that I am grandfathered in on the free account. I’m sorry for the rest of you small businesses that were unable to do so. Maybe Google will change their mind? I doubt it.

Not a Windows 8 Fan

Author: Steve Martin

Those of you that know me know that I am a big Microsoft Windows fan. Windows 95 is where I started with computers and since then I have developed a love of computers and everything they can do. Because of this love of computers, that is now my profession. I work with small to medium sized businesses to help setup and maintain their computer networks. I love what I do.

I have always maintained that Windows is the better operating system for business because of how well it runs business apps and how nicely it plays with other computers on a network and with sharing files, etc. I have a couple of clients who have chosen to go purely Mac and I will tell you , it just enhanced my feelings that Windows is better in the workplace. If you want to have compatibility problems, use a Mac. If you want to use drivers that don’t have as many features, use a Mac. If you want your computer to be incompatible with certain software, use a Mac. If you want to pay at least twice as much money for your computer, use a Mac.

Anyway, this article is not about my favoritism of Windows over Mac in the workplace, it is about Windows 8. I installed it for the first time yesterday and I have to say that so far, I do NOT like it. I don’t play around with the betas or release candidates when Microsoft is working on a new OS. I wait for the final and then try to learn the differences and changes that it has so I can help my clients when they have problems. So, my install was the official release of Windows 8. I look at an OS for productivity mostly. The more productive an OS is, the better for my clients’ bottom line. And if they are making money, they keep paying me to take care of their computer network. It’s the circle of my income

I like choices. I like when I can choose how to use my computer even though thousands of people will do things differently on their computers, I can make my computer mine and use it the way that works best for me and my productivity. Well, with Windows 8, Microsoft decided that they wanted EVERYONE to use their new metro start page whether they liked it or not. And, to make sure of that, they removed the regular start button. Yes, they completely removed it. It is gone. Every time you want to get to a new app, you must open the metro start “page”. Everything you open from this metro page opens in full screen with no taskbar. The taskbar is what makes switching between applications and “windows” so quick. One click and I can be in Word, another click takes me to Internet Exporer so I can copy a URL or text. One click back for me to paste it. I like to do things in as few clicks as possible. With Windows 8, you must take your arrow to the top left corner for the list of open programs to show, then find the program you need and then click it. I know it sounds like no big deal, but bottom line is that it takes longer and taking longer means getting less done in the same amount of time. I even ungroup my programs in Windows 7 so that switching between different windows of the same app take only one click instead of 2. Productivity should be what motivates changes to the desktop, not whatever else is on Microsoft’s agenda.

I have found a little workaround that lets it play a little nicer but I shouldn’t have to find third party workarounds for something that I know Windows already knows (or knew) how to do. The workaround is called Classic Shell. It is a free open source project that lets you bring back a start button. You can find it by going to If you want to be more productive on your Windows 8 computer, download and install it now. I have set it to bring back the start button and to bypass the new metro page completely on startup. Unless Microsoft wakes up and decides to allow users the choice to use the classic desktop, I will recommend that my clients keep buying Windows 7 machines. But if they do get a Windows 8 machine, I’ll now know how to fix Microsoft’s stupidity.

In one saving grace for Microsoft and the new metro start page, it should be awesome on a tablet or phone where touch is your main interaction. But most of my clients actually do their work on a traditional desktop machine and the new metro design is a step backward in productivity when using a typical keyboard and mouse.

Microsoft, give us back our freedom to choose.

2,460 frames

1,357 hours

288,000 jelly beans


This is from Kina Grannis’ album called Stairwells. It is a WAY good album.

Tyler definitely got the “Luck of the Irish” today. He got his favorite kind of green for St. Patrick’s day, a one hundred dollar bill. One year ago today he started the candy deal with his dad that he would go without any candy for a whole year. While it was a tough thing for a 6/7 year old to do, he did it!

I am so proud of you Tyler for your determination even in the face of temptation at holidays, birthday parties, and family gatherings. You didn’t falter once. You’re lucky to have your older sister Abby as inspiration (Ben and Abby Sittin in a Tree). I’m proud of you for deciding to continue it for another year. I’m sure it makes St. Patrick’s day a lot more fun and a lot more memorable. Good luck for another year. I love you!

Ben and Abby Sittin in a Tree…

Author: Steve Martin

Abby gets $100Abby is in love. She found a guy that she fell head over heels for. His name is Benjamin and she is willing to make major sacrifices for him. One year ago today Abby made a deal with her dad that she would go without eating any candy for an entire year for one Benjamin Franklin, one hundred buckaroos. This morning she got her first one hundred dollar bill and her eyes about popped out of her head she was so excited.

I am so proud of her for her determination and being able to accomplish something that most kids would never even dare to attempt. She received major inspiration from her aunt kaka who has been doing the “candy deal” since she was a little kid. While Abby was going to take a day to eat some candy before she started her next candy free year, she changed her mind and decided to simply continue on without candy for another year.

Her little brother Tyler is also doing the candy deal but he took an extra two months before committing to it. So, as long as he continues with the deal, he’ll get his $100 on March 17th. Good luck Tyler and congratulations Abby, I love you both and am so proud of you!!!

Kindle Fire Review

Author: Steve Martin

For Christmas our family got a Kindle Fire. I only have limited experience with other tablets of any kind and this is probably the first device I have really had the chance to use that is based on the Google Android Software. We certainly have been having fun with it (Check out my I’m Watching you post to see how much fun).

In general, the Kindle Fire feels very solidly built and is a quality device. There are a lot of apps available for it. Our favorites so far are “Plant vs. Zombies”, Where’s My Water”, angry birds, and some other bird game where you have a bird cage and you take care of birds but I don’t remember the name of it. I understand that Amazon acts as a middleman for the apps and will only allow certain apps in. I don’t really like this but I haven’t run into anything that they aren’t letting in that I feel I’m missing. Apple does the same thing with the iPad. Amazon has basically taken the Google Android software and customized it with their own interface. The interface is very intuitive and easy to navigate. I don’t have experience with Android outside of the Fire so I don’t really have anything to compare it with besides the iPad. It does not have a camera which might be fun to play around with but I don’t care all that much about a camera. Perhaps a future Kindle Fire will have a camera.

I have played with the iPad a bit and I wouldn’t say it is any better than the Fire in playing games or accessing the web. Most apps that are on the iPad that I have wanted are also available on the Fire. The iPad does have a forward and backward facing camera though. The iPad also has a much larger screen. Going from 7 inches to 10 is a big jump in screen size. I kind of like the smaller size though too. I could fit the Fire in a larger pocket and take it to church or something.

I do have to say this about pretty much all of the tablets whether they are from Apple or run Android, they are not productivity devices. If you think that you need one to help your productivity, you are mistaken. They are mostly toys. They help you goof off and waste time. Oh I’m sure there are some custom apps that are used in certain cases that may allow some work to be done but they really are not for productivity. Tablets are good for consuming media whether that be videos, music, websites, or books. Just try to type out a few paragraphs and you’ll see just how annoying it can be to create content. Anyone who says they “need” an iPad or a Kindle Fire is full of it. Nobody needs one. But, they are fun. There are tons of games available for them. Some are better than others. Most are really cheap, like $1. I think tablets will put an end to Nintendo DS gaming systems as games cost $30 each and aren’t as good as many of the games you can get for $1 on the Fire or iPad.

The price is where the Fire really shines. I have always felt that all these tablets are way over priced. If I had $500 to spend on some computing device, I would want something that can be productive so I would probably buy a laptop where I could type about 100 times faster than on any tablet. But $200 is a lot easier to swallow for a device that I’m going to use to simply access my media. I think it was money well spent and we have been having a blast on it. I think I echo my children in recommending the Kindle. Good job Amazon on a great product.