Welcome to the 402nd 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!
my sister Brianna's birthday. She is the "baby" of the family and
turns 19 today. Happy Birthday Brianna!
Speaking of birthdays, this coming Sunday is Matthew's birthday. I can't believe
he's going to be 2 already! And then at the end of the month Andrew will turn
4. I sound so old saying this, but they grow up too fast! They are both great
little boys and their Mommy does a great job. I'm pretty luck to have them
Computers have become more reliable in recent years as manufacturers have
improved designs, but one in every six new notebooks still needs to be repaired
within a year after purchase, a survey found on Tuesday.
Failure rates of both desktop and portable notebook computers have improved
in the 2005-2006 period compared with 2003-2004, market research group Gartner
Five percent of desktop computers need to have a component replaced within
the first year, compared with 7 percent two years ago. Four years after purchase
the chance that a desktop computer needs to be repaired is 12 percent, compared
with 15 percent in 2003-2004.
Consumers are willing to pay up to an extra £108 ($197) for a PC containing
fewer chemicals, a survey has found.
People also feel manufacturers should take responsibility for the disposal
of old machines, the research shows.
So-called e-waste is a growing global problem, with 30 million PCs being
dumped each year in the US alone
A raised eyebrow, quizzical look or a nod of the head are just a few of
the facial expressions computers could soon be using to read people's minds.
An "emotionally aware" computer being developed by British and
American scientists will be able to read an individual's thoughts by analyzing
a combination of facial movements that represent underlying feelings.
"The system we have developed allows a wide range of mental states to be
identified just by pointing a video camera at someone," said professor Peter
Robinson, of the University of Cambridge in England.
An overwhelming majority of Microsoft employees use rival Google to search
the Internet, bloggers and a Web metrics company claimed Tuesday.
Andrew Hitchcock, a 20-year-old student at the University of Washington,
got the ball rolling by posting Google Analytics statistics on visitors to
his Web site. Of the users originating from Microsoft's domain who reached
Hitchcock's site via a search engine, 80 percent came through Google. Only
20 percent used a Microsoft search engine (either MSN's or the Live.com's).
"Do companies drink their own Kool-Aid? (or eat their own dog food, depending
on which company culture you follow)," Hitchcock asked on his site.
The Quality of Light - the Size of Your Light Source
Light is the foundation for all great photos. Great photographers can both
read the light and manipulate it to meet their needs. Even if light manipulation
is out of the realm of most photographers, knowing a little about the quality
of light can still help you in your photography. The quality of light is one
of the key distinctions between two photographs. Today I am going to briefly
discuss the quality of light as it is influenced by the size of your light
In general, a larger light source relative to your subject will produce a
softer, more flattering light with diffused shadows, soft highlights and low
contrast than that of a smaller light source. A smaller light source will produce
harsher, more contrasty light that will yield sharply defined shadows, more
contrast and large, bright highlights. Relative is the key in this statement
The sun, though physically larger than any other light source you can find,
is only a very small, point source in relation to your subject. It produces
very strong, harsh, directional shadows and high contrast photographs. An overcast
day on the other hand provides very soft, even light with diffused shadows.
The clouds act as a diffuser and become a massive light source relative to
your subject. If you have ever been to a professional photographer for a portrait
session, you will have seen this in action. They will likely have used large
42" umbrellas or 60" softboxes to act as a large light source. This
allows them to create soft lighting and shadows we find attractive in a portrait.
How can you apply this knowledge in your photography? Look for large light
sources for low contrast, soft light images, and try to use smaller light sources
for images where you want a harsher light. Soft (large) light sources include
the shade of a tree, an overcast sky, or a large window, either with shears
drawn, or without direct sunlight filtering in. Small light sources include
light from a flash, either on or off camera or as I mentioned earlier, the
Get out and try it to see for yourself. Shoot a subject in bright, directional
sunlight, and again under an overcast sky. Soft light is not always the best
light, but learning to identify it, and when to use will certainly improve
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 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.
I think I've mentioned something similar to this before, yet I couldn't
find it, so here it is. The site has 3 images to choose from. You enter what
your username is, and it puts it in the image for you. This displays your
email address, but hides it from email harvesters (or spambots).
If you have small children or work with small children, then you should
check out FreePrintableColoringPages.net.
They claim to have over 1,800 pages to download and print. The pages are
in categories and all seem to be in PNG format. Even if you have children
that are a little older, there are maps, military pictures, and more that
may be good for project. The only drawback is since these are "coloring
pages", they are all in black and white.
The full PDF of my book, 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google, is now available
on 55fun.com. As the book is Creative Commons licensed, you are encouraged
to copy, read, share, remix, convert, quote, browse, and print the PDF
to your liking. If you do create conversions, e.g. an HTML version, please
send me the URL so I can link to it from 55fun.com.
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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