Welcome to the 417th 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 hope that if you celebrated it, you had a nice Canadian
Thanksgiving. I did! We had a great dinner on Sunday, and then leftovers
on Tuesday. I love turkey. We even bought an extra turkey to have sometime
between now and Christmas. There's no rule that says you cna only have it
on holidays! :-)
I will be on vacation next week. We're not going anywhere special, but it'll
be nice to be off. While I'm off, I expect that I'll get the Nero 7 Ultra Edition
review finished. Chris is also working on a couple of reviews for his Digital
Photography Tip of the Week. One is of ACDSee and the other is a white
balance filter called ExpoDisc.
According to research from Nielsen/NetRatings, people are buying cutting-edge
technology but often don't understand the terms that describe what their
device actually does.
So while 40% of online Britons receive news feeds, 67% did not know that
the official term for this service was Really Simple Syndication.
Terms such as podcasting and wikis are still meaningless to many.
In the relentless quest for the next big thing when it comes to new forms
of digital consumption, there is a significant tendency for the industry
to over-estimate consumer's knowledge and understanding of the seemingly
limitless new terms and products out there," said Alex Burmaster, internet
analyst with Nielsen/NetRatings.
In the race for Web-search share, Ask.com is the tortoise. The search engine
formerly known as Ask Jeeves still handles less than 6% of U.S. searches,
though it's been in the industry since 1996, more than a year before front-runner
Google. Google controls roughly 51% of searches, including queries conducted
on Time Warner's AOL and News Corp.'s MySpace.
But IAC/Interactive's (IACI) Ask.com and other tortoise-like Web-search rivals
are hoping they'll gain advantage in the long run by coming up with new,
clever methods of searching for information on the Web, as Google ramps up
efforts to expand beyond search.
On a whiteboard in a windowless Microsoft conference room here, an elegant
curve drawn by a software-testing engineer captures both five years of frustration
and more recent progress.
The principle behind the curve — that 80 percent of the consequences come
from 20 percent of the causes — is rooted in a 19th-century observation about
the distribution of wealth. But it also illustrates the challenge for the
builders of the next generation of Windows and Office, the world’s largest-selling
As they scramble to get the programs to users by the end of the year, the
equation is a simple one: making software reliable for most personal computer
users is relatively easy; it is another matter, in a PC universe with tens
of thousands of peripherals and software applications, to defeat the remaining
bugs that cause significant problems for some users.
The effort to overhaul the Windows operating system, originally code-named
Longhorn and since renamed Vista, was meant to offer a transformation to
a new software foundation. But several ambitious initiatives failed to materialize
in time, and the project started over from scratch three years ago. The result
is more an evolutionary shift, focusing on visual modernization and ease
For some, it would be unthinkable — certain social suicide. But Gabe Henderson
is finding freedom in a recent decision: He canceled his MySpace account.
No longer enthralled with the world of social networking, the 26-year-old
graduate student pulled the plug after realizing that a lot of the online
friends he accumulated were really just acquaintances. He's also phasing
out his profile on Facebook, a popular social networking site that, like
others, allows users to create profiles, swap message and share photos — all
with the goal of expanding their circle of online friends.
Twenty months ago, a pair of twentysomething buddies founded a company above
a California pizzeria that let people post their favourite video clips, ranging
from stupid pet tricks to rotund Plasticine hippos that sing.
It was a wildly improbable business model, laced with the threat of copyright
infringement lawsuits and stiff competition. But it worked.
YouTube Inc. agreed yesterday to be swallowed by Google Inc. for $1.65-billion
(U.S.), a deal that may mark one of the fastest Internet growth stories since
the tech heyday of the 1990s.
It's nothing short of phenomenal," said Rick Broadhead, a Toronto-based
technology author and analyst who believes video is the next big thing
on the Internet. "They really did come out of nowhere and, very quickly,
became a household name."
Some Common Photography Problems - Digital Photography Tip of
I have discussed in the past some common problems people often experience
with photography and how they can be corrected. Crooked
photos, too much background in
your images, red eye. When
polling some co-workers about a topic they would like to know more about, these
were all issues that came up.
The issue of too much background in a photo is a common one, partially caused
by the photographer, but not always entirely. In my tip about moving
in close to your subject, I explained how filling your frame can improve
your images. Unfortunately, many optical viewfinders in cameras do not offer
100% coverage, that is, they do not show everything that will be recorded on
your image. Some may only show as little at 80% of what will be recorded on
your photo. So filling your frame on a camera may not be enough to completely
fill your photo with your subject. A little cropping on the computer is all
that is necessary to correct that though.
I talked only briefly about red-eye when
discussing the use of external flash units. You can still minimize red eye
when using an on board flash by using the camera's red eye reduction mode.
This will either create a few bursts of the flash prior to taking the photo
or turn on an secondary lamp, again, prior to taking the photo. Both methods
accomplish the same thing, forced the subject's pupils to shrink, lessening
the change (not eliminating it) of red eye. Another option to ask your subject
to look at a bright light for a short second before take the photo, again to
accomplish the same shrinking of the pupil.
I was also asked about white spots that appear in some digital photos. These
are most likely caused by dust in the air near the lens when the photo is taken.
The size of the sensor in many
digital camera's is quite small and one of the side effects of this small
sensor size is an increase in depth of field. The small white specs you
may see in your photographs are really the light of the flash illuminating
dust in the air. The relative distance to the lens and sensor, brightness of
the light due to the proximity to the flash, and increased depth of field of
the smaller sensor size all contribute to these particles being reproduced
on film. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to delaminate this issue
other than clean your photos up using an image editing program.
I hope the topics I covered today remind you of a few of the basic things
you can do to improve your photography. If you have a problem you are not sure
about, please leave a comment
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.
Media-Convert is a fairly
impressive web service that will convert a file from one file format to
another. That sounds pretty benign, but what's impressive is how many formats
it supports. There's a good chance Media-Convert supports almost every
document on you computer, including dozens of audio and video formats,
a ton of common and obscure image formats, documents from Microsoft Office,
OpenOffice.org, and others, compressed archives, and more.Media-Convert
is a fairly impressive web service that will convert a file from one file
format to another. That sounds pretty benign, but what's impressive is
how many formats it supports. There's a good chance Media-Convert supports
almost every document on you computer, including dozens of audio and video
formats, a ton of common and obscure image formats, documents from Microsoft
Office, OpenOffice.org, and others, compressed archives, and more.
I haven't tried it, but it sounds very interesting. Check
I'm not a big novel reader, but if I find something good, I can't put it
down until I'm done. I've got a small collection of books that are on a couple
of bookshelves in my house and I've never felt the need to catalog them.
But if you have a lot of books, and you'd like to "meet" other with similar
tastes, then LibraryThing may
be for you. It is a service which catalogs your books and also adds some
social networking features:
LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily.
You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because
everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the
same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth.
There is a free account (up to 200 books) and paid accounts. If this is
your thing, then check out LibraryThing!
As I'm sure you've experienced, spam (junk email) is a huge problem. If
you have an email address than you've probably received junk. Most ISPs now
try to run services on their mail server to stop this, but some always get
through. If you get spam and want to report it yourself, a good place to
start is with SpamCop:
SpamCop is the premier service for reporting spam. SpamCop determines
the origin of unwanted email and reports it to the relevant Internet service
providers. By reporting spam, you have a positive impact on the problem.
Reporting unsolicited email also helps feed spam filtering systems, including,
but not limited to, SpamCop's own service.
You can report spam that you've received and SpamCop will contact the server
administrator for you. It may be a tedious process, but every little bit
helps. Check out SpamCop.net for
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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