Lottery Post Journal

Firefox 3.5 now available for download

The latest version of Firefox is now available for automatic update.  To install the update, simply open your existing Firefox and select "Check for Updates" on the Help menu.

The new version is a much more advanced browser internally.  It has a faster JavaScript engine, which means that pages whould operate quicker, and it also has a "private" mode, which is like the InPrivate mode that Microsoft added to IE8 several months ago.

TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at Florida home

I was very sad to see this.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman whose boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean made him a pop-culture icon, has died. He was 50.

Tampa police said Mays' wife found him unresponsive Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m. It was not immediately clear how he died. He said he was hit on the head when an airplane he was on made a rough landing Saturday, and his wife, Deborah Mays, told investigators he didn't feel well before he went to bed about 10 p.m. that night.

There were no signs of a break-in at the home, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn't answer questions about how Mays' body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner's office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.

"Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days," Deborah Mays said in a statement Sunday. "Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times."

U.S. Airways confirmed that Mays was among the passengers on a flight that made a rough landing on Saturday afternoon at Tampa International Airport, leaving debris on the runway after apparently blowing its front tires.

Tampa Bay's Fox television affiliate interviewed Mays afterward.

"All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping," MyFox Tampa Bay quoted him as saying. "It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."

Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said linking Mays' death to the landing would "purely be speculation." She said Mays' family members didn't report any health issues with the pitchman, but said he was due to have hip replacement surgery in the coming weeks.

Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said she did not know if Mays was wearing his seat belt on the flight because the FAA is not investigating his death.

U.S. Airways spokesman Jim Olson said there were no reports of serious injury due to the landing.

"If local authorities have any questions for us about yesterday's flight, we'll cooperate fully with them," he said.

Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "As Seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.

AJ Khubani, founder and CEO of "As Seen on TV," said he first met Mays in the early 1990s when Mays was still pitching one of his early products, the Shammy absorbent cloth, at a trade fair. He said he most recently worked with Mays on the reality TV show "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel, which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs.

"His innovative role and impact on the growth and wide acceptance of direct response television cannot be overestimated or easily replaced; he was truly one of a kind," Khubani said of Mays in a statement.

After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network.

Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it's done while tossing out kitschy phrases like, "Long live your laundry!"

Sarah Ellerstein worked closely with Mays when she was a buyer for the Home Shopping Network in the 1990s and he was pitching Orange Glo products.

"Billy was such a sweet guy, very lovable, very nice, always smiling, just a great, great guy," she said, adding that Mays met his future wife at the network. "Everybody thinks because he's loud and boisterous on the air that that's the way he is, but I always found him to be a quiet, down-to-earth person."

His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans for his commercials on a wide variety of products. People lined up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stopped him in airports to chat about the products.

"I enjoy what I do," Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. "I think it shows."

Mays liked to tell the story of giving bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and doing his ad spiel ("powered by the air we breathe!") on the dance floor at the reception. Visitors to his house typically got bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.

As part of "Pitchmen," Mays and Sullivan showed viewers new gadgets such as the Impact Gel shoe insert; the Tool Band-it, a magnetized armband that holds tools; and the Soft Buns portable seat cushion.

"One of the things that we hope to do with 'Pitchmen' is to give people an appreciation of what we do," Mays told The Tampa Tribune in an April interview. "I don't take on a product unless I believe in it. I use everything that I sell."

His former wife, Dolores "Dee Dee" Mays, of McKees Rocks, Pa., recalled that the first product he sold was the Wash-matik, a device for pumping water from a bucket to wash cars.

"I knew him since he was 15, and I always knew he had it in him," she said of Mays' success. "He'll live on forever because he always had the biggest heart in the world. He loved his friends and family and would do anything for them. He was a generous soul and a great father."

Besides his wife, Mays is survived by a 3-year-old daughter and a stepson in his 20s, police said.

Rest In Peace, Billy Mays.

Try out the new Microsoft Security Essentials

This post is for anyone who has looked for good anti-virus/anti-malware software.

Microsoft just today came out with a beta of their latest security software, which previously had the code name "Morro".  The official product name is Microsoft Security Essentials.

Like the other Windows Live software Microsoft offers, the new security software is free, and will always remains free.

It is a direct replacement for the company's OneCare software, which I personally use, and which I have recommended to many people.  The new software removes the backup and firewall components from OneCare, but those components were really unnecessary anyway, because they are built into Windows.

I have installed the new Security Essentials myself, and it is perfect for what I look for in security software:  it is simple, it doesn't annoy you with a bunch of notifications about every nit and nat, and it has excellent malware detection, with fantastic ability to differentiate between real malware and "false positives".

There are only 75,000 slots open for the beta program, so if you want to give it a try, swing over to the following link right now, and at least get the installer downloaded, even if you install it later.

I have been running for over a year now without any of those big security suites installed (like Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky, ZoneAlarm, etc.), and I couldn't be happier.  They were a big waste of time and frequently slowed down my computer.

Microsoft's firewall that's built into Vista is as good as any firewall in those security suites (it is actually superior to most), so why would I want to replace it with some other company's software?

Microsoft's OneCare is currently one of only three products to get certified by the industry standard tests (can't remember the name of it), and the new software uses the same security engine — so it's really good.

I love that the installer immediately downloads the latest virus updates and runs a quick scan, without having to kick it off yourself or hunt for the right button.

Safari 4.0 Web Browser Released

Fans of Apple's Safari Web browser can rejoice:  version 4.0 was officially released!

The free download is here:

Apple claims that it is the fastest Web browser on the market, but it is actually almost the fastest.

The fastest browser is still Google Chrome.  That's not just me saying it; I read a ZDNet report today, including actual performance statistics.  Safari 4.0 is very fast.  Chrome is just a little bit faster.

The final release of Safari 4.0 definitely shows improvement over the beta.

For one thing, I am so happy they decided to do away with the giant tab that stretched across the window titlebar.  That was remarkably ugly.  Instead, it now opens normal tabs just below the toolbar.  (Like IE8 and Firefox do.)

The Refresh button is still too small and almost hidden within the Address bar.  The browser menus are very similar to Google Chrome; they exist in two icon-only buttons all the way on the right side of the toolbar.

If you're a Safari user, I'd be interested to hear what you think of the new release.