How to download Office 2013 64-bit

Another one of Microsoft’s little messes. It’s the year 2013, and Microsoft is still so afraid of jumping head first into 64-bit computing that, by default, Office 2013 users who need to download their installer will download the 32-bit client. As if it’s impossible for Microsoft to run a script on the web page to identify what version of your OS is loaded on your computer? It’s just another one of those SNAFU’s that you get used to, I guess.

First you buy a license at a store like Best Buy, or Amazon. Then you have a product key, nothing more. You have to enter your product key to download the software. But don’t start the download right away! After you click the “get started” button as pictured above, you need to look for (I wish I screenshot of this, sorry, I don’t have one right now) “Language and Install Options.” Then there will be another link that says “Additional Install Options.” There you will find your 64-bit installer.

Perfectly logical, right?

Where and How to configure Out of Office in Outlook 2010

You might have some travel planned and need to spend some time away from work. In the age of mobile phones it feels like we can never be too far away from our email, particularly when it is work related. Still, it is professional courtesy to leave an “Out of Office” message on when you’re gone – so that people who send you email get an automatic response to their email. I generally put in a blanket statement saying I’m out of the office, and I’ll be back at a certain date; including a contact number for someone they can reach quickly if they need help is a nice addition. But how do you DO it when it comes to the “vastly different than its predecessors” Outlook 2010? This is how:

Continue reading “Where and How to configure Out of Office in Outlook 2010”

What is Windows Blue?

I wondered when I was going to use the Windows Mobile Marketplace logo again. It seems suitable this time. Microsoft fan sites have rumors of Windows Blue flying all over the place. We don’t know much, and some of the articles I’m reading are crossing themselves trying to explain what they think it is. Here’s my take on Windows Blue.

Windows Blue is what most people would call Windows 8 Service Pack 1. But don’t think of it as a service pack. Think of it as an upgrade. Because Microsoft is most likely going to charge a modest fee (honestly? I’m hoping it’s $20. If it’s much more than that, Microsoft will probably blow their chance, have to release it for free, and refund people’s money). They’re trying to cramp Apple’s style and get in on the pricing model much like how Apple has released several releases to OSX in the form of Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion.

If you were around for the transition to Windows XP Service Pack 2, you should understand what I mean when I say “upgrade” rather than just a service pack. Microsoft had every right to charge full price for Windows XP SP2. It replaced swaths of the operating system, it almost eliminated most Kernel differences between Home and Pro versions of Windows XP. For all intents and purposes, it was one of the largest operating system releases Microsoft never had! There were new features, additional support for new features, future-proofing the operating system in a way that hadn’t been done before. And it was all behind the scenes. Blue is supposed to really be a major step for Windows as brand.

It’s been discussed, but my theory as that Blue will unify the code bases of Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8. An app designed for one, will run on any. Blue has support for many resolutions, which is prepping it for things like a Microsoft Surface Mini. I anticipate a Surface Mini would likely run Windows RT (it would be hard to fit an x86 processor in such a small package with passive cooling – an Intel i5 would melt the plastic!), but if Blue does what we expect, it’s going to simplify the “app” Store a great deal and broaden the audience of developers in one quick move. People don’t want to develop for Windows Phone because it hasn’t seen mass adoption. But if you could develop your app and release it to every Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8 device with just a few clicks? Suddenly you have a massive audience which will grow by the day.

Rumors abound that Microsoft’s Windows team hit their first Milestone with Blue just a few weeks ago, and if it stays on schedule we’ll see an RTM in the summer, and early in the fall we should be getting access to Windows Blue. Time will tell what all that really means, but I’m pretty excited – and surprised at how little chatter there has been! I mention this to other people in the tech industry and they haven’t even heard of Blue! Open your eyes and ears, because it’ll be here before you know it! And whether it’s free or paid, I don’t care. I’ll be all over it!

Several free programs for ripping and burning movies and CDs

As many of you know, I’ve Gone Legal with my digital content. But some things aren’t easily attainable. Say, for instance, you wanted the entire series of Space Above and Beyond – it’s just not out there digitally, not that I’ve found anyway. But you can rip your own! So today I’m just going to provide you a few names of programs that I’ve used in the past. You’ll have to figure out how to use them. But the good news is, most of them make it fairly simple, and in the coming weeks I may post a guide or two for some of them. But today? Just the need-to-know information.

Before we begin: KNOW YOUR TERMINOLOGY. To rip something is to make digital copy from the source media. i.e. making a DivX/Xvid AVI file from a DVD, or an MP3 from a CD. If you want to simply make a copy, or duplicate a DVD or a CD, you typically do not need to rip the contents first.

Decrypting a DVD / splitting up episodes of a TV series: DVD Shrink (I don’t know if the current program at is affiliated with this classic, so I still grab the freeware edition from Afterdawn).

Ripping a DVD Movie to an AVI file: Once the decrypted files are on your drive, point AutoGK to them, specify an output file size, and let AutoGK or Auto Gordian Knot do the rest. Geek info: from my days on the download scene, I can tell you that “the people on the internet” have worked around the limitations of their media and come up with, basically, standards, for ripping your content. Target file size of an average ~90 minute movie should be between 700MB and 1.5GB, depending on the desired quality. An average 30 minute episode of a TV show is around 175MB (4:3). This of course increases slightly for “widescreen” 16:9 TV shows. These are rules of thumb, not hard and fast rules – play around to find what quality works best for you.

One click DVD & BluRay ripping to MKV file: Handbrake gets a lot of talk around the web. I didn’t like it in the past, but I recently gave it another shot and like it more than I used to. It takes a lot of the work out of the combination of programs above, like using DVD Shrink then AutoGK. Rumors are Handbrake works with BluRay, though I haven’t tried it, yet, myself. I plan to give it a shot in the very near future.

Convert an AVI to a DVD ISO: If you have a movie you ripped, and you want to burn it as a playable DVD, you’ll need to start with AVI2DVD.

Burn any ISO to a DVD: once you have an ISO file, you’ll need to burn it to a disc. Whether it’s a CD, DVD, VCD, whatever, let IMGBurn take the guess work out and burn the DVD for you. Quick, simple, free. It’s one of the first applications I install on any new computer.

Rip MP3s from a CD: Yeah, iTunes made it popular, but CDex was there first… and it’s still a go-to, for me, because it has all of the features I need, and allows for much more customization.

Burn MP3s to a Music CD: InfraRecorder can do that for you. It can also burn an ISO, make a VCD, or just clone from disc-to-disc.

Decrypt a BluRay movie: The only paid-app on my list is one that has been working hard for years. While I do like their entire suite of software, you can get by using most of the freeware I’ve listed above. But the one tool you need is AnyDVD HD. I don’t know how they make their software, but there are frequent updates, and they keep it legal by keeping it out of the US. It’s a questionable product by some people’s standards of legality, but a must if you’re ripping your own content, and well worth the investment, as it does seem that SlySoft is going to be around for a while, still.