Welcome to the 368th 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!
I apologize again for the problems we've been having over the last few weeks
in sending out the newsletter. It seems like any time my hosting provide rmakes
a change on the server, it disrupts my newsletter setup. I had previously gone
months without any problems at all. Hopefully we're back to that reliability.
We're finally back doing reviews again! We never officially stopped, but I
guess we were slackers and didn't actually complete the reviews that we had
requested. I finally did a review for BlogJet 1.5 that I've had since April.
Check out the Tips and Other Stuff section for more information
on the review.
Andrew and Matthew had a good time on Halloween. Andrew dressed up as a cowboy
(like Woody from Toy Story) and Matthew was a dancing spider. You can see pictures here.
The development of relatively cheap 5-megapixel compact cameras has effectively
ended the long running 'megapixel war', leaving manufacturers to focus on
features rather than resolution, industry sources have told vnunet.com.
" Five to eight megapixels is already sufficient for almost all users," said
a spokesman for Premier Image Technology, one of the world's largest digital
still camera makers.
He added that competition has forced prices for the cheapest 8-megapixel
models below $300, and even manufacturers of low-cost compact models will
soon begin to add features such as anti-shake and more powerful optical zooms
to attract buyers.
Half of all US households own a digital camera, and markets in western Europe
and Japan are similarly saturated, according to a recent report from Taiwan's
Market Intelligence Center.
Imagine relaxing in a tiny private cove, on a lava beach near the mists
of a waterfall. The sun is shining, a tropical bird cries somewhere in the
distance and the cares of the working world seem a million miles away.
It's an idyllic vacation spot, but the best thing about it is that it takes
less than five minutes to get there from anywhere in the world. In fact,
you can reach it without ever leaving your home. That's because it exists
not in any physical location but in one of the many virtual worlds that millions
of people now travel to every day with the help of nothing more than a decent
computer graphics card and a broadband Internet connection.
Kicking off what he called the "live era" of software, Microsoft
Chairman Bill Gates said on Tuesday that the company plans to launch new
Internet-based complements to its core products.
Gates said Microsoft is working on two products, "Windows Live" and "Office
Live," that create opportunities for the company to sell online subscriptions
and advertising. Both are targeted at smaller businesses and consumers.
The products won't replace the company's ubiquitous operating system or productivity
suite, and people don't need to have that software loaded to tap into the
Web versions. "They are not required to use Windows or Office," Gates
said at a press event here.
When Madonna takes the stage in Lisbon this week to perform her new single "Hung
Up," it will be the culmination of weeks of promotion harnessing new
technology that is revolutionizing the music industry.
Major artists are increasingly using the Internet, mobile phones and music
appliances like Apple Computer's iPod to generate hype and sales, combining
technological advances with the traditional mainstays of live performance
One of the keys to a good photographic image is proper exposure. Proper exposure
is made up a couple of elements, all working together; shutter
speed, aperture and film
speed. However, there is never one proper exposure, but many that will
provide a good print. I will explain why.
Film, whether traditional or digital, requires a certain amount of light to
fall on it's surface to be properly exposed. The amount of light necessary
is determined by the film or sensor speed. The faster the film/sensor speed,
the less light needed to produce a proper exposure. I discussed this last
week. How much light reaching the film is determined by a combination of
shutter speed and aperture. Shutter speed is how long the light reaches the
film, while aperture is the size of the lens opening letting light into the
All three aspects deal in increments of 2. Film speed of 200 is two times
as fast as a film speed of 100. A shutter speed of 1/30 second is two times
as long shutter speed of 1/30 of a second. An aperture of f8 is two times as
small as a shutter speed of f5.6 (this one is a little confusing, the larger
the number, the smaller the lens opening, the less light falling on the sensor.)
To maintain a proper exposure, as you increase one factor, another must be
decreased. The best analogy I have to explain this interaction is the process
of filling a glass of water. The size of the glass relates to the film/sensor
speed. A larger glass requires more water to fill, or more light to properly
expose the sensor (a slower film speed). The amount of water coming out of
the tap is your aperture. And the length of time the tap is open, shutter speed.
So, to fill a glass of water, you can crack the tap open to a drip and let
it run a long time, or open it full for just a second. The result is the same,
a full glass of water.
As aperture increases, the size of the lens opening decreases
and more time is necessary to provide a properly exposed image. Or, as shutter
speed increases, a larger aperture (smaller lens opening) is needed to provide
a properly exposed image. In the above example, each combination will produce
a properly exposed image. Changing film speed would allow one of these figures
to slide, giving an exposure of f8-1/125 if we had gone from 100 to 200 ISO
film. So, how can this be applied to your photography?
If your camera allows you to operate in a manual mode, after
taking a shot with your digital camera, look at the image details for exposure
information. Many cameras will give you the settings it used to take the image.
If it was shot at f5.6 for 1/125 second, you can obtain the same exposure by
shooting a f4 for 1/250 second (double the amount of light but for 1/2 the
time) or f8 for 1/60 second (1/2 the amount of light, but for twice as long).
So long as you apply the same adjustment to the shutter speed as you do to
the aperture, you will still get the same exposure for your image. Any of the
above combinations would work. As I mentioned last week, shorter shutter speeds
tend to stop motion, while longer shutter speeds will help show motion. If
your exposure doesn't match what I have above, simply line up the two corresponding
values from your camera. It might be f4-1/500 which is the same as f5.6-1/250
Next week I will discuss Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority
The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant
Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently
the vice-president 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 Chris, or a question about digital photography
he can address in the newsletter, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It seems like the biggest craze in online publishing right now
are blogs. These "weB LOGS" originally started out as online
journals. They've since become quick and easy ways for companies to communicate
with their target audiences. The problem is that there are numerous blogging
platforms, and it isn't uncommon for someone to be contributing to several
blogs, all hosted on different platforms. BlogJet is client software that
tries to provide you with a common interface to the blogging platforms
of your choice.
The Microsoft Office
Assistance web site had some nice tips called Customize
how Excel starts. One of the tips is starting Excel is Safe Mode.
You may be familiar with Safe Mode for Windows. All versions of Windows
since Windows 95 have had a way to start Windows with only basic drivers
and software loaded. This way you can possible remove software or other
drivers that are causing problems. Well, Safe Mode for Excel works the
same way. If you start Excel in Safe Mode, then it will not load any add-ins
or other customizations. A quick way to start Excel in Safe Mode is to
hold down the CTRL key when you click or double-click on the program icon
to start the program.
PC Magazine has hundreds of tips that are searchable on their site. If you
visit the main
tips page, you'll see the most current tip. If you scroll almost to the
bottom, you'll see categories (operating systems, applications, browsers,
hardware) that you can browse. You can also search by keywords.
For instance, I did a search for ALT
TAB and there were 21 results. The first result was from Nov 5/02
called A Customized
Alt-Tab which talks about a utility that replaced the standard Alt-Tab
keyboard shortcut to switch between applications. The second result was from
Apr 22/03 called Using
the Alt Tab that explains simply that this keyboard shortcut exists.
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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