Welcome to the 379th 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!
One of the biggest threats on the Internet today is "phishing".
This is when a spammer sends you an email as if it were from a bank, PayPal,
eBay, etc. hoping to get you to give them your username and password. I clicked
through an email today, and filled in the forms to see what happens. I wrote
about it in a blog posting called Phishing
for PayPal information.
We've added a new feature to the newsletter this week. At the end of the News and
the Tips sections I've included links to other blog postings.
There may be other things I've blogged about that you would be interested in
that I didn't put in the newsletter.
Internet users can give Web sites a thumbs up or thumbs down in
less than the blink of an eye, according to a study by Canadian researchers.
In just a brief one-twentieth of a second -- less than half the time it takes
to blink -- people make aesthetic judgments that influence the rest of their
experience with an Internet site.
The study was published in the latest issue of the Behaviour and Information
Technology journal. The author said the findings had powerful implications
for the field of Web site design.
In a wistful moment during his keynote at Macworld this week, Steve Jobs
reminded attendees that April 1 will mark the 30th anniversary of the dawn
of Apple. "I just wanted to point it out," said Jobs. "You
know, Apple was founded on April Fools day in 1976. We thought that was funny
at the time." Indeed it was. And the fun was just starting. Plenty of
books have been written about Apple's wild ride. I don't have that kind of
space, but here are a few of the key moments in the history of Jobs & Company
that stand out for me.
Andy Steele lives just a few blocks from the campus of Black Hills
State University in Spearfish, S.D., so commuting to class isn't the problem.
But he doesn't like lectures much, isn't a morning person, and wants time during
the day to restore motorcycles.
So Steele, a full-time senior business major, has been taking as many classes
as he can from the South Dakota state system's online offerings. He gets better
grades and learns more, he says, and insists he isn't missing out on the college
I still know a lot of people from my first two years living on campus,
and I still meet a lot of people," he says. But now, he sets his own
At least 2.3 million people took some kind of online course in 2004, according
to a recent survey by The Sloan Consortium, an online education group, and
two-thirds of colleges offering "face-to-face" courses also offer
online ones. But what were once two distinct types of classes are looking more
and more alike - and often dipping into the same pool of students.
Winning a medal at next month's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy,
could be the memory of a lifetime for some 2,500 athletes from around the world.
But before a single skate hits ice, thousands of technology specialists will
have spent much of the past few years designing, building and testing a computing
and communications infrastructure that helps run the show, from reporting competition
results to ensuring athletes get to their events on time - with absolutely
no room for error.
In the past, I discussed compositional tips such as the rule
of thirds, moving
in and moving
out from your subject. This week I will discuss S-curves and diagonals
and how they can improve your photography.
Photographs are static images. To add life to them, we need make use of compositional
elements. Of the two I will discuss today, the diagonal is easier to find and
photograph. Diagonals are used to lead your eye into the photo or out of it.
They provide a path for the eye to follow through the image. The following
image shows this well. The photo on the left of the Pearly Crescentspot shows
the butterfly resting, but the diagonal of the plant give the butterfly someplace
to go, up. The image on the right (the same image, rotated) is static and simple
shows the butterfly resting.
Notice how the water flowing left to right directs your eye across
the photo in that direction in the photo on the left, while the photo on the
right, your eye follows the photo from the bottom of the image on the left
to the top on the right.
S-Curves are a little harder to find that diagonals, but provide much more
dramatic photo. Like diagonals, the provide a path for the viewer to follow
allowing them to travel through the image, rather than simply looking at it.
Look for S-curves in nature, they occur in rivers and streams, waterfronts,
foliage and many more place. You can also find them in portraits. Watch for
them starting at the head, coming down through the torso into the lower body.
Often an bent arm or leg will help create the shape.
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.
The United States National Library of Medicine has an excellent
service called DocMorph where you
can convert 50+ different document formats to PDF. You have to register (which
is free), and then you find a file on your computer, and it converts it. It
does a good job of optimizing the output.
I tried it with a simple Word document (logo in header and text in body). The
original document was 62kb, and the converted PDF was 29kb. I tried it with
a 136kb GIF, and the converted PDF was 165kb. Lastly, I tried it on the PCIN
Registry Tips document. The Word document was 330kb, and the converted
PDF was 257kb. I had used Acrobat to create a PDF already, but it was over
400kb, so I've since replaced it with the smaller one.
There is also software called MyMorph which you can download. I did not try
this as I was only testing the web-based options.
It's definitely worth checking out.
Need to put a PC in a public place? A free Microsoft tool makes it easy
to lock down.
Schools, libraries, and other organizations often want to make computers
available in public places. These can become tempting targets for hackers.
Even well-intentioned users can wreak havoc by deleting important files
or accidentally installing malware.
Microsoft's free Shared Computer Toolkit lets you configure a PC that can
be used to search the Internet, look up resources, and run approved programs;
it also stops users from making permanent system changes, running arbitrary
programs, or introducing malware. Administrators on domain-based PCs have
long been able to do this; the toolkit offers a similar level for any PC.
You don't need an IT degree - the kit leads an administrator through the
steps of locking down a system.
I haven't tried the software, but it sounds interesting:
SetNameToTime is a program designed to batch rename digital camera pictures
using free text, counters and information extracted from the file's exif
header. The new file names is based on the new name format settings controlled
by the user. The new name format is specified using new name format tags.
After having a digital camera for more than a couple of days you end up
with hundreds of pictures. Now starts the process of sorting and renaming
these hundreds or even thousands of pictures. Straight from the camera
the pictures have names like img00221.jpg or some other equally meaningless
name. You may start putting your files in different folders. One for each
year, month or day. You may use some program to rename the files using
text and counters. If you are lucky the program sorts your pictures in
the correct order first, if not you may end up with a total mess.
SetNameToTime will take care of a lot of these problems. By using the date
and time the picture was shot as part of the new file name the pictures
will always be sorted in the correct chronological order. The pictures
will have a unique name. You will easily find that picture from May 05,
2003. You can still include free text and counters if you want to.
The program is free to try, and $15 to register. Check
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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