Welcome to the 362nd issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly
of news and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is your first
issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me two or three
issues, I know that you will come back for more!
Summer's over! For me, it seemed like the month of July lasted forever, and
then August, and now September have just flown by. The weather is still beautiful
here. I'm planning on finishing my front walkway this weekend. Somehow or other
I've managed to make this week-long project last 3 years! What will I do now?
My sister bought used laptop from a local
store. They get computers that are off lease from companies, and then
resell them. She got a Compaq
Evo N600C for just over $500 plus tax. Everything works great, it is
quick, and I guess most importantly, she's happy with it. If you are looking
for a replacement brand-name computer or laptop, or a good second computer
and just can't afford a new one, then see if you have a store in your area
that sells these sorts of computers. They had desktops there for $120 that
were Pentium III, 10-20 GB hard drive, 256 MB RAM, and the Windows 98/2K/XP
OEM license still with it. Good deals.
For those web programmers out there, I have a question... I'm looking for
a script like TinyURL.com uses, that will
let me shorten URLs for the newsletter and blog, and also count/track which
links are clicked on. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
If spyware and key-logging software weren't a big enough threat to privacy,
researchers have figured out a way to eavesdrop on your computer simply by
listening to the clicks and clacks of the keyboard.
Those seemingly random noises, when processed by a computer, were translated
with up to 96 percent accuracy, according to researchers at the University
of California, Berkeley.
" It's a form of acoustical spying that should raise red flags among computer
security and privacy experts," said Doug Tygar, a Berkeley computer science
professor and the study's principal investigator.
Sawyer Real Estate in Gulfport, Miss. was founded by Lenny Sawyer's great
grandfather in 1901. But when Katrina hit, it seemed most of that legacy
would be wiped out. The firm's office, which had been 200 feet from the beach,
was devastated. Wind ripped the structure to pieces, and a storm surge left
6 feet of standing water on everything inside. The firm's 14 critical computers
lay somewhere under a pile of rubble.
Sawyer thought all his company's critical electronic business records - contracts,
tenant records, e-mail - were gone.
" I'm sitting in front of the building, and it looked like a war zone. ...
There wasn't a wall left. Everything was in shambles," Sawyer said. "But
in the back of my mind, I remembered reading an article about [data recovery],
and I said, 'It's probably worth us digging through the rubble to get to the
The computers were a mess. Many were not only wet, but packed with sand,
seaweed, and even seashells.
But Sawyer's instincts were right - digging out the hard drives was worth
it. While the computers are damaged beyond repair, much of the firm's data
has been saved.
A technology arms race is under way in the hotel industry.
Standard televisions are being replaced by flat-panel, high-definition displays
that produce a better picture and allow a bulky piece of furniture to be
removed from often-crowded guest rooms.
Internet connections are becoming standard, whether through high-speed hard-wired
connections or wireless systems that allow users to stay connected wherever
they are in the building.
Some hotels are installing docking stations for iPod music players to recharge
the batteries and to play music over speakers rather than headphones. Satellite
radios are also making their way into hotels seeking to convey a hip, high-tech
image. And many hotel operators are looking at Internet-based telephones
to replace the standard versions that cellphone users increasingly ignore.
As new technologies and gadgets proliferate, hotel managers have to decide
which ones provide real value to guests and which ones may not be as important
When Lego executives recently discovered that adult fans of the iconic plastic
bricks had hacked one of the company's new development tools for digital
designers, they did a surprising thing: They cheered.
Unlike executives at so many corporations, who would be loathe to let their
customers anywhere near the inner workings of their software tools, the Lego
honchos saw an opportunity to lean on the collective thinking of an Internet
community to improve their own product while bolstering relations with committed
All it took was being open-minded enough to see that their biggest fans weren't
trying to rip them off; they were trying to improve Lego's products in a
way that, just maybe, the company's own designers hadn't thought of.
Last week we discussed digital camera resolution. This week, I will talk about
the some of the other features commonly found on digital cameras and what to
look for when purchasing a digital camera.
You will often see the zoom capabilities for a camera listed with two or three
different numbers, something like 12x zoom, 3x
optical, 4x digital. The number you really want to pay attention to is
the optical zoom. This is the true zoom capabilities of the camera lens. Optical
zoom maintains the integrity of the image on the sensor providing the highest
quality image when zooming. When you use digital zoom, the camera takes the
center portion of the image, then magnifies that make it larger. In doing so,
image quality degrades. Also, not all camera manufacturers state it, but a
glass lens will produce better images than a plastic lens.
Most cameras have various modes you can choose that are optimized for a type
of photo. Portrait mode will provide shallow depth of field to help isolate
your subject from the background while scenery mode will do the opposite, allowing
you to have a sharp photo in focus all the way through. Both modes will set
the flash for best exposure, portrait mode will turn the flash on and scenery
mode will turn the flash off. Sports mode sets a faster shutter speed to stop
action, and may also allow for burst capture, or capture of several images
one after the other while holding the shutter button down. Macro or Flower
mode allows you to get close to a subject for a close up shot and Night mode
will leave the shutter open longer to help in dark scenes and fire the flash
as well. Not all features are available on all cameras, and some cameras may
have more. These are the typical features though. Of course, you can always
shoot in fully automatic mode, usually depicted by a green line or square on
the selection dial.
Some digital cameras come with the ability to record short movie clips. Don't
mistake this as an alternative to a video camera. The videos are quite small,
often only 320x240 pixels, or less than 25% of a typical computer monitor.
They are good for capturing short clips that you may want to email to friends
and relatives though. Just don't expect to watch them on your TV with great
Most digital cameras come equipped with an LCD display on the back for reviewing
or composing your photos. The larger the display, the easier it is to see your
image. 1.8" seems to be the standard size, though there are many with
2.0" and even a few with 2.5" screens. The larger the screen, the
better, but it is also a feature you will have to pay more for. Some camera's
have an LCD viewfinder. The advantage with that is that you will see exactly
what your picture will be like. With an optical viewfinder, the camera lens
may record a slightly different image. Having used both though, I still prefer
the optical view finder; many optical viewfinders have slow update, so as you
move the camera, what you see appears jumpy. LCD's require a lot of power,
so an option to turn the display off is a nice feature.
memory is a must in digital camera's these days. Memory is available
in many different formats, some have advantages over others, but they are
all acceptable. If this is your first digital camera, memory type should
not matter. If you are buying your second camera, you may want to buy one
that uses the same type of memory as your previous camera, but with memory
being as inexpensive as it is, it may not matter to you.
Digital cameras are power hungry, and as such, you will want to invest in
a good set of rechargeable batteries. Not all cameras use standard AA's though.
Some will come with their own battery; while costly to replace, may be cheaper
over the life of the camera. Others use standard camera batteries. You will
have the most options (and emergency supply of power) if you buy a camera that
can use AA's. Regular alkaline's do not take as many photos as a good set of
rechargeables but their abundance makes for a good back up strategy. Check
the manual to see what kind of batteries you can use in your camera. Some rechargeable
batteries supply a higher voltage than regular batteries that may damage your
If you have more advanced needs, you may want to look at a digital
SLR which will allow you to change your lenses and add other accessories
such as off camera flashes or external battery packs. If that is more than
you need, there is also a class of camera's called prosumer, which offer
many of the features of a digital SLR without the ability to change lenses.
If you plan on using your camera for family photos, a self timer will be a
valuable feature to look for. This will allow you to set the camera on a tripod
or tabletop, press the shutter button and then get into the picture yourself.
You may even find some cameras come with a remote control so you can take several
shots without running back and forth.
There are many sites on the Internet that
discuss digital camera features. Knowing what the features are, and what you
want to use your camera for will help to ensure you get the right camera for
your needs. I believe the most important features are camera resolution (too
little and you limit how large you can print, too much and you will have more
than you need), optical zoom and lens quality. Other important factors that
can are really personal preference are ease of use; how to move between menus
and set different features, and how well the camera feels when you hold it.
Some cameras are simply too small for larger hands, while others fit better
in a smaller hand.
Next week, I will talk about composing your image for printing.
The digital photography tip of the week is a new feature of PCIN news
and is written by our Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time
photographer and member of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more
of his photography at his Photo
of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send us, or a question about digital photography we
can address in the newsletter, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oslo, Norway - September 20, 2005
Opera Software today permanently removed the ad banner and licensing fee
from its award-winning Web browser. The ad-free, full-featured Opera
browser is now available for download - completely free of charge - at http://www.opera.com.
Today we invite the entire Internet community to use Opera and
experience Web browsing as it should be," said Jon S. von
Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "Removing the ad banner
and licensing fee will encourage many new users to discover the
speed, security and unmatched usability of the Opera browser."
Opera was previously available free of charge with an ad banner. Users
had the option of paying a licensing fee to remove the ad banner and receive
Opera fans around the globe made this day possible," said von
Tetzchner. "As we grow our userbase, our mission and our promise
remain steadfast: we will always offer the best Internet experience
to our users - on any device. Today this mission gains new ground."
So a few weeks ago they offered the browser for free
for a day, and now it is free permanently. How are they going to make
money? I'm not sure where this is going to take them...
For users on dial-up, there is help getting the mega downloads such as
Open office or a Linux OS. Even at a full 56k a few hundred MB can take
days. It can be faster and more convenient to request the download from On-disk.com
They will download, burn and ship. For customers in the US most orders
arrive within 4 business days.
The website describes the service this way:
On-Disk.com is a Download & Burn Service
This makes it possible to obtain downloads that otherwise may be difficult;
such as large downloads over dial-up, or when needing to install software
on another computer, or to have necessary security updates on hand before
installing/reinstalling an operating system.
I haven't tried it (I have no need for it), but if you are still on dial-up
and don't have someone who can do this for you, it may be useful.
Microsoft® Codename Max is not like any other product. That's because
it's not a product-it's your opportunity to try an exciting new user experience
from Microsoft. Today Max lets you make lists of your photos and turn them
into beautiful slide shows to share with your family and friends. Tomorrow...who
With just a few clicks, you can create lists of your favorite photos, arrange
them in the layout of your choice, and express them in beautiful views.
Preview your photo lists as you build them until your presentation is perfect.
You can even use our super hot 3D Mantle View to really show off your work!
I haven't tried this at all, but it sounds interesting. You can check it
out at http://www.microsoft.com/max/
PCIN is brought to you by Graham Wing. The opinions expressed are those of
the Editor, Graham Wing and the Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Graham Wing
and Chris Empey accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying
the tips in this newsletter.
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