Where you can download Microsoft Office with an activation key card

Have you ever received in a bundled laptop package a piece of paper that says…

“DO NOT DISCARD – MICROSOFT PRODUCT IDENTIFIER. The manufacturer of your PC has licensed the Microsoft products listed in this document.”

…and a few paragraphs later…

“This card includes the ACTIVATION KEY for your MICROSOFT OFFICE product.”

It seems straightforward enough, right? There’s the serial number at the bottom (strategically covered by my “apparently plays in the dirt for a living” thumb), and a website link at the bottom to go download and register the software.

SerialCard

 
So here’s the happy happy joy joy part – the website listed on every one of these rat-bastard product cards say to go to microsoft.com/office

You go there, you swim in the abyss.

Microsoft.com/office takes you straight down into the “light don’t reach here” depths of Office sales, where you will be offered every iteration of Office 360, Office online, Office a-la-carte, Office with Cheese and dozens of other suites in every combination possible. Links to links to links to links, but nothing to take you to download your software or point you out of the maze.

Here’s what you need to do. If you have one of these activation cards for Office, go straight to Office’s other website…

office.com/setup

Once you’re there (and it automatically redirects you to officesetup.getmicrosoftkey.com) just type in the product key on that piece of paper in the “Enter Your Product Key” box and press GET STARTED.

That’s it.

You will then be prompted to download your Office Suite and tie it into one of your email accounts.

Just like that.

Who knew instructions on how to download and install your software should actually have a link so you can, oh I don’t know, ACTUALLY DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL YOUR SOFTWARE?!

Top 10 reasons why I still prefer print newspapers

Hello. My name is Royce Eddington, and I actually subscribe to print newspapers knowing full well there’s digital formats available for everything I’m reading.

Does this make me an evil forest killer? A heartless eco-monster? A knuckle-dragging throwback to days long gone?

Damn right.

Don’t get me wrong. I get the digital editions too, but I always start with the print edition. Here’s why…

  1. Ads mean something. An ad in the digital medium isn’t anywhere near as expensive as an ad in the print medium. So if someone takes out an ad in the print medium, it means something. Something important enough for someone to spend some serious MONEY on. Whether it’s a political statement, a fashion pitch, an obituary, or even congratulations for a job well done, I tend to find more meaning in newspaper ads than in some of the articles. For example, this last month there have been a flood of these ads… PAL photoPersonal Asset Loans? Well that’s a nice way of putting it. The thing is, this isn’t the only recurring ad with this kind of pitch. Not only is there now a market for the upper class to get “Personal Asset Loans”, but the newspapers now allow these ads because of the state of the economy.
  2. Prominent corrections and factual updates. In the digital editions, the mea culpas and the “oh, by the way, we should have mentioned…” parts are buried deep. The corrections and updates in the print editions? Always on page two and in the same font and point size as the print articles. Corrections can sometimes be just as important as the initial article. Take for example the corrections in the New York Times on March 17th … “While the safety agency (NHTSA) had received numerous complaints (for General Motors)… the NHTSA did not order the recall.” That one sentence alone puts a new light on GM’s motivations for the recall and also proves the NHTSA didn’t act on multiple consumer complaints in this particular instance.
  3. Stories in the print medium sometimes get cut from the digital version. A small article in the March 15th edition of The New York Times reported on how the restaurant / tourist attraction chain Buc-ee’s publicly came out and supported a particular southern Republican candidate. While a southern retail store supporting a southern Republican candidate is about as surprising as rain being wet, the fact that a retail chain put their entire corporate reputation and retail-level financial backing behind one candidate (of any party!) without any restrictions or sanctions is fairly important. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that article in the digital edition or in that day’s digest.
  4. Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds. To paraphrase the illustrious F. Gump, “You never know what you’re gonna get”. Sometimes it’s an unintentionally funny celebrity rant. Sometimes it’s the old “I know you are but what am I” give and take. Sometimes it’s an alien point of view coming in for a landing. And sometimes… sometimes it’s the stop-dead-in-your-tracks epic writing that should be framed in the Smithsonian and offered free with every birth certificate. Those two pages are dynamic. Infuriating. Genius. Hilarious. And completely missing in the digital edition.
  5. MOVIE POSTERS! FULL COLOR FULL PAGE GLORIOUS MOVIE POSTERS! THE WAY THE GOOD LORD INTENDED THEM TO LOOK! HALLELUJAH!! <ahem> Ok. Switching to decaf. Movie posters are not designed to be squished down in a corner underneath an ad for “Bubbas BBQ Special” in a newspaper or reduced to less than 1/10th its’ original size for digital presentation. There’s details in a good movie poster you won’t see when they’re shrunk-down, and there’s art in the very good movie posters you won’t see unless they’re full-sized. Don’t get me wrong – I love seeing previews and all the mini featurettes for a movie, but the movie poster is what’s the movie will be known as for forevermore. Its’ eternal portrait. Think of the Star Wars movie posters. How about O Brother Where Art Thou? Princess Bride? Reservoir Dogs? That’s what I mean. And that’s what I love seeing in print.
  6. The special Sunday edition. Sunday newspapers have always carried a stealthy implication with them: take it easy today. Right off the bat, Sunday editions are visibly bigger than anything that came earlier in the week. You can see you’re going to need time to digest it. You’re going to need a different pace today. Sunday newspapers also get specially wrapped for delivery, are printed on higher quality stock than the weekly editions, and even have a multi-page feature of some sort that would never appear during the week.  All of these little things quietly imply that since the newspaper is different today, maybe it should be for you too. The Sunday digital editions? There’s nothing special there to suggest a change of pace or to imply Sunday is different from any other day of the week. There’s no intro flash movie. No animated opening. No attempt at time shifting. Just business as usual.
  7. The scent of newsprint makes coffee taste better. Do I have any facts to back this up? Any brilliant anecdotes to make this notion take wing and go soaring with the angels? Nope. But it does lead me to my next valid point…
  8. You can leave it for someone else to enjoy. This is the easiest and most contagious reason of all. Bring a newspaper wherever you go eat or have a break somewhere. Even if it’s a day old newspaper, chances are anything you fold and put aside are going to be snatched up and read and re-read and re-re-read and re-re-re-read throughout the day. There is no “worst case” in this. You lose nothing by leaving a newspaper behind in a fast food restaurant, coffee shop or break area for others to enjoy. Any reasonably-intact newspaper is always appreciated.
  9. Mini illustrations that add to the story. Sometimes a simple illustration changes everything. Sure, you can describe Skylab to someone who hasn’t seen it with a few paragraphs, but seeing an illustration of the 1970′s space station hovering in-line with the article is a whole different ballgame. When you see a face to go with the name, when you see an illustration of a product, when you see an impression of the art in question, it all becomes more “real”.  I don’t see many inline illustrations with the digital articles, and I think it is because everyone assumes you can Google anything you want to see or know more about straight from the digital edition. That’s fine, but that also exactly the problem. Once you leave an article, with any search engine, there’s the rabbit-hole problem – one thing leads to another, and what started as a lookup for Skylab turns into a search for Russian Cosmonauts and who sells the best Russian vodka. The idea is to keep the reader focused on the article by giving them everything they need right there. Simple inline illustrations are a perfect way to do that, but due to the shrinkage of the digital edition, I just don’t see them making the transition.    And finally, the big reason of all big reasons I still prefer print newspapers…
  10. There’s no such thing as a foldable newspaper-sized tablet.

Qik, one of my favorite apps, is gone as of April 30th

Qik was on the short list of apps I immediately loaded on every new iDevice I got.

Not only could I make audio or video calls to anyone I wanted, but whenever I saw something I wanted to capture on video, all I did with Qik was open the app and shoot away. I could choose anywhere from 320 to 720 resolution, shoot from either my front or back cameras, and as soon as I was done, I could edit the video right there.

Qik1

As soon as I was done with the video, it would appear on my own Qik page (private or public), I could send that video to anyone in my contact list, or I could send it direct and private to any other Qik user. Straight from my i-device.

But the best part? The best best best part? Live video.

Qik2

I could choose whether the videos would be for private or live viewing. I could shoot live video that I would immediately stream to a set of trusted contacts to let them know what’s up right then and there, stream live video my YouTube channel, and even send live video streams straight to this website!

Qik was a true “breaking news” app that was horrifically under-appreciated, so it was inevitable that one of the big 500 pound gorilla tech companies was going to notice it.

Unfortunately for Qik, and for all of us consumers, it was Microsoft that bought them out.

Pushing back all the fantastic design and technical progress Qik  had made, Microsoft announced Qik was just going to be shut down, and only their own rusted and busted Skype offering would remain.

If you can’t Innovate, Stifle-ate.

Qik was so much more than a call-another-user or send-a-text-message app. Did Microsoft bring any of these brilliant live-video abilities into Skype? BWA HA HA!! Please.

Now I’m going to have to get four or five other apps to do the job that Qik did perfectly all the time.

I’m gonna miss you Qik. Big time.

The official announcement on Qik’s shutdown and how to get anything you have left in their system out is here.

CDC article about a new virus spread by camels

When I see that the CDC has expedited an article for publication and it goes out “ahead of print”, I get the feeling they found something they’re not ready to yell “run for your lives” yet, but they’re filing it under the ominous “you might want to stand back a little” category.

The CDC just posted they are watching a new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that first popped up back in 2012.

This virus is pretty nasty. It spreads from camels to humans and results in a serious respiratory tract illness which leads to pneumonia.

In the article, it says that in “187 laboratory-confirmed human cases… 97 were fatal.”

Um… that’s a 52% mortality rate. A better than 50/50 chance if you get this virus, you’re gonna die.

The CDC article is full of solid medical terminology that goes into how they’re trying to nail down this bug, but the short version of what they know so far is that young camels are infected more often than older ones, and since the first half of each year is when most young camels are born due to local breeding patterns, that’s when they expect an upturn in this disease.

Unfortunately, they’re still not 100% on if it completely comes from camels and there’s still a big unknown on what causes the young camels to become sick in the first place. (“Phylogenetic analyses supported the conclusion that transmission occurred between camel and patient, but no direction was implied (e.g, camel to human vs. human to camel)”).

It is still limited to the countries in the Arabian Peninsula, but like every educational disaster movie has shown, it only takes one sick person on a plane to New York to bring civilization to its’ knees.

OK, that’s not really going to happen, but this is still not good.

Link to the CDC article is here.

NASA’s official response to that “we’re all gonna dieeee” study

NASA had a quick but pointed response today to the “Sustainability Study” that’s making the rounds on the internet.

Apparently some university poozers slid a report under the door of NASA’s main office that says the world is gonna end and we’re all gonna die if we use plastic bags, keep the lights on when we’re not in the room, and all kinds of evil-bastard stuff like that.

NASA came down on Professor Chicken Little and his band of merry mother cluckers by saying “we didn’t touch that report, didn’t ask for that report, and we don’t even know who the University of Maryland’s mascot is. So nyaaa.”

Ok, maybe not literally, but I still don’t think it’s wise to tick off scientists who make giant explodey cylinders for a living.

Full press release follows…

——-

NASA Statement on Sustainability Study

The following is a statement from NASA regarding erroneous media reports crediting the agency with an academic paper on population and societal impacts.

“A soon-to-be published research paper ‘Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies’ by University of Maryland researchers Safa Motesharrei and Eugenia Kalnay, and University of Minnesota’s Jorge Rivas was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA. It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity.

“As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions.”

-end-

Allard Beutel
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1600
allard.beutel@nasa.gov

Ed Campion
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-0697
edward.s.campion@nasa.gov

Last call for the Sony Reader store

It’s last call for the Sony Reader store.  Tomorrow (March 20th) at 6 PM eastern time, they’re pulling the plug for good.

In their press releases and in their reader FAQ, Sony says they will be sending out instructions on how to link all book and periodical purchases made in the Sony Reader store to a Kobo account, but only after the Sony Reader Store has completely shut down.

Why wait until a few days after the store has shut down to send these directions? Because they’re SONY, DAMMIT. They made Walkmans these young’uns with their newfangled iKindlePad thingamajigs don’t appreciate none!

You can read the “we’re outta here” post here, the Sony Ereader Store closure FAQ here, and the directions on how to download your previous purchases here (but no directions on how to move everything you might have bought to Kobo yet).

STAX6 (AKA: Texas Sales Tax Filing App) missing file upload fix

If your company is using the brand new state of Texas STAX6 application to upload monthly sales tax reports, the new default path for the pre-upload file is going to be in the C:\ProgramData\TexasCPA\Stax6 directory.

The problem is, C:\ProgramData\ is a hidden directory by system default.

Great location for a default save path, STAX!

Your accounting team isn’t going to find a C:\ProgramData\ directory when they fire up a browser and launch the state’s upload tool, and they’re not going to see it when they open the C: drive from Windows Explorer either. Panic isn’t a strong enough word for what will ensue.

To keep everyone’s blood pressure down, right click on the STAX6 uploader(s) desktop and create a NEW>SHORTCUT to C:\ProgramData\TexasCPA\Stax6 and save it right on their desktop. Instead of searching their C:\ drive for a hidden directory, have the STAX6 uploader(s) point the state’s upload directory tool to that Stax6 shortcut on their desktop, and from there the monthly tax files will appear in a list.

If they have already closed the STAX6 application, or don’t remember which .txt file to upload, you can search for the filename in the format ST(MONTH)(DAY)n(VERSION).txt (example: ST1217n1), or just search for .txt files modified in the last couple of hours (including protected and invisible files and folders).

One more thing – the new STAX6 is 64 bit only, so if you’re running on a old(er) operating system, you don’t have a choice on updating anymore.

Disney is closing down their Movies Online service on Dec. 31st

Disney just announced in a press release they are closing their entire stream-and-watch digital service on December 31st.

If you made any purchases directly with the online streaming store you can get a refund (according to the FAQ) by sending an email “by February 28, 2013 to support@disneymoviesonline.com with “Refund Needed” in the subject line. Be sure to include your name, mailing address, and phone number … and we will mail you a check. No additional action is necessary on your part.”

This doesn’t have anything to do with the Disney Combo packs with a “Digital Copy” sticker that are still in stores. You can still download those from either iTunes or Windows Media Player on your computer (according to the FAQ) like this…

  • Transfer to Mac:
    • Insert the Disney Digital Copy disc into your Mac’s DVD drive, launch the application, click on the “Activate” button from the main menu and follow the on-screen instructions.
    • The iTunes application will open and guide you through the transfer.
    • When prompted by iTunes, enter the unique code found on the insert located in your DVD or Blu-ray package to activate your Disney Digital Copy.
    • After the transfer completes, the movie can be watched on your Mac and transferred to your iTunes compatible device.
  • Transfer to PC:
    • Insert the Disney Digital Copy disc into your PC’s DVD drive, launch the application, click on the “Activate” button from the main menu and follow the on-screen instructions.
    • Choose either iTunes or Windows Media for your Disney Digital Copy.
    • If you choose iTunes, the iTunes window will automatically open and guide you through the transfer:
      • Input the unique code found on the insert located in your DVD or Blu-ray package to activate the Disney Digital Copy
      • After the transfer completes, the movie can be watched on your PC or transferred to your iTunes compatible device.
    • If you choose Windows Media, follow the steps below:
      • When prompted, input the unique code found on the insert located in your DVD or Blu-ray package to activate the Disney Digital Copy and follow the on-screen instructions.
      • After the transfer completes, the movie can be watched on your PC and transferred to your PlaysForSure compatible portable device.

 

The Disney-streaming-movies was brilliant while it lasted. After logging in to the service and keying in a unique code for every Disney movie,  you could watch that movie anytime from any web browser! That was a stroke of genius! Why not watch the movie when you want where you want if you own the original copy!?  Unfortunately, some dopey-grumpy-greedy dwarf must have found out about this brilliant idea, and that was that. I bet there will probably be a “monetized” version of this service in mid-2013.