Welcome to the 381st 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've been having a problem with Dell technical support (you can read about
it here and here).
There was a problem with my original Axim (my Pocket PC device), and so they
sent me a replacement (still under warranty). Unfortunately, there was a problem
with my replacement, and Dell had messed up something during the exchange,
and I was on the phone with them for hours trying to straighten things out.
I finally got another replacement, but it came with 2 scratches on the screen.
So now I'm waiting for another replacement. Frustrating!
The average laptop could contain data worth almost $1 million, according
to new research.
A report released Friday by security-software company Symantec suggests that
an ordinary notebook holds content valued at 550,000 pounds ($972,000), and
that some could store as much as 5 million pounds--or $8.8 million--in commercially
sensitive data and intellectual property.
The same research, commissioned by Symantec, shows that only 42 percent of
companies automatically back up employees' e-mails, where much of this critical
data is stored, and 45 percent leave it to the individual to do so.
It's alarming that executives have mobile devices containing data of such
financial value and that very little is being done to protect the information
on them," said Lindsey Armstrong, a vice president for Europe, the
Middle East and Africa at Symantec.
Nobody was ever arrested for leaking the secret source code for
parts of the Windows operating system in 2004, but a hacker who sold a copy
online afterward was sentenced to two years in federal prison Friday.
William "IllWill" Genovese, 29, will serve three years of supervised
release following his prison term, during which he'll be subject to electronic
monitoring through special software installed on his computer, under the terms
handed down by federal Judge William Pauley in New York. He remains free on
bail, and is scheduled to report to prison March 14.
Genovese ran a popular hacking-oriented community website called IllMob.org
in February 2004 when two 200-MB files containing incomplete portions of the
source code for the Windows 2000 and Windows NT operating systems hit the internet,
flooding dodgy websites and peer-to-peer networks like some hard-core geek
version of the Paris Hilton video.
Dealing with viruses, spyware, PC theft and other computer-related crimes
costs U.S. businesses a staggering $67.2 billion a year, according to the
The FBI calculated the price tag by extrapolating results from a survey of
2,066 organizations. The survey, released Thursday, found that 1,324 respondents,
or 64 percent, suffered a financial loss from computer security incidents
over a 12-month period.
The average cost per company was more than $24,000, with the total cost reaching
$32 million for those surveyed.
Often survey results can be skewed, because poll respondents are more likely
to answer when they have experienced a problem. So, when extrapolating the
survey results to estimate the national cost, the FBI reduced the estimated
number of affected organizations from 64 percent to a more conservative 20
week I talked about some of the equipment that will be helpful when taking
photographs at night. This week I will build on that by discussing some of
the techniques that can be used.
Manual mode is necessary for proper exposure when shooting at night or in
low light situations. Any of the program modes (Program, aperture priority,
shutter priority, or creative zones such a landscape, portrait or sports) will
produce images that are too bright including night time skies that look gray
instead of a near black.
If you camera has a B or Bulb setting, you can use this. This was found on
older cameras and many new cameras as well. Bulb keeps the shutter open for
as long as you press the button on the camera. This is where the cable release
is useful. Holding the button down on the camera, even when on a tripod, is
likely to introduce some movement that will show up in the image. The cable
release will let you do this off camera so as to avoid camera movement. When
all the other adjustments are made, press the button on the cable release for
the length of exposure you are looking for. If you need to adjust the length
of exposure, simply change how long you hold in the button on the release.
Many cameras have set shutter speeds that may go as long as 8, 15 or 30 seconds.
You can use these instead of the Bulb setting if your exposure will need to
be less than the longest shutter speed your camera has. If you do not have
a cable release (or infrared remote) but do have long shutter speeds, you may
use the self timer on the camera to prevent camera shake.
After setting the camera up and focusing, set your aperture according to how
much depth of field you need. Remember, the larger the number, the more in
focus, but the longer the shutter speed needs to be. If you subjects are all
far away, you can use a smaller f-stop. Don't forget that if you purposely
want a longer exposure (to show motion in the light, trails, etc) then using
an f11 or f16 instead of f2.8 or f4 will give you that extra time.
Now that you camera is set up, shutter speed set, aperture set, and you are
focused, you can make your first shot. Start with a one second exposure. Night
photography is one case where a digital photographer has an advantage over
a film photographer. If the image is too bright (too much light recorded) then
either use a faster shutter speed (1/2 or 1/4) second or use a smaller f-stop
(higher number). If the image is too dark (not enough light recorded) then
use a longer shutter speed or a larger f-stop (smaller number). You can continue
to make adjustments like this until you have a good shot.
Once you arrive what appears to be a proper exposure, then I recommend that
you bracket your exposure both up and down after that to ensure you have a
good shot. (Bracketing is the process of purposely either under or over exposing
an image by a little bit). To bracket your exposure, keeping the aperture the
same, increase your shutter speed by a little, then by a little more. Do the
same again decreasing it from the known good shutter speed. For example, if
you determine that at f8 and 4 seconds produced the image you want on the screen,
then shoot 4 more shots at f8 with the following shutter speeds, 6 seconds
then 8 seconds (both overexposed) and 2 seconds and 1 second (both underexposed).
If you are shooting film, failure of the law of reciprocity will start to
factor in to your shots. Without getting too technical, as your exposure time
increases (beyond a second or two), additional time may be needed. I have had
exposures that should have been about 30 seconds, but because of reciprocity,
required two minutes. This is not really a factor for digital photographers
though as the digital sensors do not seem to be prone to reciprocity failure.
There are a lot of little things that can be done in night photography, but
it really does not have to be too daunting. Get out and give it a try.
I am on vacation next week so will not have a new tip for you then, but will
be back the week after with the third and final installment on our night photography
series. I will talk about using flash at night, 2nd curtain sync (night mode),
dragging the shutter, magic hour and I will have examples of some very nice
night photography to share. On a side note, yesterday (January
31, 2006) marked the end of my first year posting a daily image on my latest website.
If you haven't seen it yet, feel free to stop by and have a look.
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.
My post on Windows
Live Mail Beta impressions has generated several comments, the majority
of them negative. For some reason people are getting locked out of their
Hotmail accounts. I've never had this problem and still think that the
new Hotmail is far superior to the old one.
If the negative experiences don't scare you off, and you'd like to try the
new hotmail, then visit the Windows
Live Ideas page and click on the Sign up link under the Windows
Live Mail beta section. You then need to enter your Hotmail address.
You do not get an invitation right away. At some point you'll get one, but
it seems rather random. I signed up well over a month before I got my invitation.
My wife plays the piano, and when we hear a good kids song, she likes to
find the sheet music so that she can play it for our kids. The other night
my sisters were singing the "Arky, Arky" song that Rod and Todd
sing on The Simpsons ("God said to Noah, there's going to be a floody,
floody"). I could find a midi file of the music, but couldn't find any
free copies of the sheet music. I stumbled across Notation Software, Inc.
They have software called MidiNotate
Musician that, among other things, will open a MIDI file and display
it as sheet music. Nice! Check it out...
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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