Welcome to the 435th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly
of news highlights 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!
Wow! We got hit hard by the big
snow storm. I don't know for sure how much we've gotten, but it must
be around a foot (30 cm). I tried to open my garage door this morning to
put out the garbage and there was a snow drift 3 feet high in front of it.
Andrew had a snow day today, so Lisa and him and Matthew outside playing
in the snow. They all had a lot of fun.
Hackers briefly overwhelmed at least three of the 13 computers that help
manage global computer traffic Tuesday in one of the most significant attacks
against the Internet since 2002.
Experts said the unusually powerful attacks lasted as long as 12 hours but
passed largely unnoticed by most computer users, a testament to the resiliency
of the Internet. Behind the scenes, computer scientists worldwide raced to
cope with enormous volumes of data that threatened to saturate some of the
Internet's most vital pipelines.
The motive for the attacks was unclear, said Duane Wessels, a researcher
at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis at the San Diego
Supercomputing Center. "Maybe to show off or just be disruptive; it
doesn't seem to be extortion or anything like that," Wessels said.
Steven P. Jobs, Apple's chief executive, jolted the record industry on Tuesday
by calling on its largest companies to allow online music sales unfettered
by antipiracy software.
The move is a gamble for Apple. Its iPod players and iTunes Store have defined
the online music market, and they have much at stake in the current copy-protection
Under terms reached with the major record labels, online music stores embed
software code into the digital song files they sell to restrict the ability
to copy them. Because Apple uses its own system, the songs it sells can be
played only on the iPod. That limitation has drawn increasing scrutiny from
European governments, pressure that Apple has recently begun to acknowledge.
The topic of data protection stole the show at the RSA Conference on computer
security here this week. Identity theft and corporate espionage were dominant
themes among the 15,000 attendees.
And with good reason. Data are the new currency of the Internet age for legitimate
- and illegitimate - businesses, says Howard Schmidt, former chief information
security officer of eBay who now is a consultant. Data have never been shared
as quickly, and in such vast amounts.
But as millions of Americans use personal data to shop and bank online, and
as more companies store data electronically, they remain targets for online
fraudsters, Schmidt and others said.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, security experts, politicians and other analysts
offered their takes on the problems, and suggestions to fix them.
The pressure on Google to institute more aggressive copyright protections
and policies is mounting. The latest heat emanates from social-networking
site MySpace, which announced Feb. 12 that it is expanding the use of audio
screening technology to block the uploading of unlicensed videos to its site.
The company already uses "fingerprinting" technology licensed from
content management company Audible Magic to filter out music owned by major
In a statement, MySpace Chief Executive and co-founder Chris DeWolfe said
the company's action was intended to show its users, many of whom are musicians,
that it respects their work and ownership rights.
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.
Most software is expensive and bloated. Yet free software typically does
one task and does it with precision and elegance. Among the thousands of
free apps available on the Web, how do you find the best, most reliable
ones for your needs?
To produce this story, we asked PC Magazine staffers to share their best-loved
free software and were inundated with responses.
Ever get that need to convert a file and you don't have the software to
do the job? There are two sites that I have been using, and are quite handy.
One is Pixer.us, and the other
one is Zamzar.com. Pixer.us
let's you upload images, which you then can resize, crop, and save to the
appropriate format instantly. Zamzar's online conversion tool will convert
any file and email it to you for free. File sizes are limited to 100mb,
so don't expect to convert any large format movies.
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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