Welcome to the 385th 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'm on vacation this week and so that's why you are probably getting the newsletter
out a little early. We didn't go anywhere, but we've gotten a fair amount of
work done in and around the house, so it's been good. ANd of course it's always
good playing with Andrew and Matthew. I don't want to sound too old, but they
sure do grow up fast!
When I sent out the newsletter last week I forgot to put the new Digital
Photography Tip of the Week in so it was a repeat of the week before.
Sorry about that. The new tip is in this issue, and concludes Chris' series
on night photography.
Remember that I'm looking for items that I can include in the Tips
and Other Stuff section. This has always been the hardest section to
fill. Feel free to email us with some sites to recommend and useful tips.
It will help us put together a more complete newsletter, and it will help
your fellow readers. We'd be happy to provide you with the credit and link
back to you for anything that we use.
Can you trust a major corporation to keep your e-mail address out of spammers'
hands after you fill out the company's unsubscribe form?
Not always, according to a service that tracks what happens when addresses
are submitted to unsubscribe mechanisms on the Web.
I wrote last week that a service called Lashback LLC has tested some 170,000
different "remove me" procedures that it's found on the Internet.
This small antispam firm says it's already caught some big fish in its net.
How do you bring the Internet to countries like Mali, where more than 70
percent of the population is illiterate and the telecommunications infrastructure
You use the radio.
Equipped with dust-resistant PCs, digital audio broadcasting equipment and
antennas assembled from salvage, local radio broadcasters are emerging as
ersatz Internet service providers in the West African nation, thanks in part
to a program initiated by Geekcorps, a U.S.-based not-for-profit organization
dedicated to cultivating high-tech skills and businesses in the world's emerging
Cyberthieves Silently Copy Your Passwords as You Type
Most people who use e-mail now know enough to be on guard against "phishing" messages
that pretend to be from a bank or business but are actually attempts to steal
passwords and other personal information.
But there is evidence that among global cybercriminals, phishing may already
In some countries, like Brazil, it has been eclipsed by an even more virulent
form of electronic con - the use of keylogging programs that silently copy
the keystrokes of computer users and send that information to the crooks.
These programs are often hidden inside other software and then infect the
machine, putting them in the category of malicious programs known as Trojan
horses, or just Trojans.
A small Canadian university has ruled out campus-wide wireless Internet
access because its president fears the system's electromagnetic forces could
pose a risk to students' health.
Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has only a limited Wi-Fi connections
at present, in places where there is no fiber-optic Internet connection.
And that, according to president Fred Gilbert, is just fine.
The jury is still out on the impact that electromagnetic forces have
on human physiology," Gilbert told a university meeting last month,
insisting that university policy would not change while he remained president.
time I finished up my three part series on night photography. This week
I am discussing keeping straight lines straight.
When shooting, it is important to be sure to keep straight lines straight.
Trees that lean one direction, horizon's that fall off to one side and buildings
that seem to fall over are all signs that you camera was crooked when you took
your shot. You can avoid this by examining your photo before you take it. If
you still continue to have crooked photos, some camera's have aids you can
A digital camera with a grid overlay will provide you with straight lines
that you can match up with something in your photo. A grid overlay like the
one shown below also helps in composing by giving you a rule of thirds guide.
If you camera does not have a grid overlay, but has multiple
focus points, you can line up a straight line such as the horizon with one
of the focus points, as I have in this photo.
If after trying these you still end up with crooked photos, you
can always use software to straighten a crooked photo. In Photoshop Elements,
you can automatically straighten a photo by choosing Image > Rotate > Straighten
or Image > Rotate > Straighten and Crop. You can also manually straighten
a photo using the straighten tool. Microsoft Digital Image Suite Plus also
has a straighten tool that can be found in your Common tasks. Choose the down
arrow on the format screen, then choose Straighten Picture, next click on the
photo two points of a line that should be straight. The software will then
use the angle between the two points to straighten the image. Rotating an image
without cropping will leave white space around your photo, and rotating with
cropping will make your photo a little smaller. The more you have to rotate,
the more you will lose as shown in the black outline.
Other software packages have straightening tools as well, consult
your help file for your particular method for you software package. And remember,
sometimes a tree does lean, and a horizon may not be horizontal when you are
shooting a hill, but watch out for the tell tales signs of a crooked camera!
It is always better to get the best image possible when you take
your photo, but when you need to use software to fix a small mistake, feel
confident that you can fix it!
Next week, I will talk about how to hold your camera for more
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.
Sure, you could fill your video iPod with episodes of Knight Rider from
iTunes for $2 a pop. Or you could save some cash - and your soul - and fill
it with files you convert from your DVD collection using freely available
software. Problem is, you'd have to break the law. Though it's theoretically
OK to back up DVDs for personal use, it's illegal to override commercial
copy protection, a necessary step in the process. Proceed at your own risk.
Your best bet is to start with the laptop vendor's site to see
what the official recommendations are: Check their web site for detailed
care-and-feeding info. But then cross-reference that info with an objective,
third-party source who's not trying to sell you anything. A general resource
like http://www.batteryuniversity.com/ ,
or the more-in-depth sites it can link you to, may be useful.
Battery University seems quite helpful. Check it out!
I'm sure you've all heard about the new Google
Page Creator Beta. When I heard about it a few days ago, I went to
sign up for an account, and as is usually the case, with their beta releases,
they had stopped allowing new sign-ups. I went again today, and was able
to login with my existing Google
Account, and started to create a page. You can see it at http://gawing.googlepages.com/
It is nice enough to use, but I'm not sure what their target user base is.
Who is going to use it?
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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