Welcome to the 444th 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!
So, I've tried Windows Vista for a couple of days now, and I'm not impressed.
I acknowledge that my laptop is underpowered, but it wasn't just the speed
of everything. There just seems to be a lot of changes that didn't need to
be made. The User Account Control feature that the Mac
commercials make fun of really is that annoying. To change desktop and/or
display settings requires far more work than it used to (multiple applets instead
of just in one). Hardware that was supported in Windows XP without manufacturer-specific
drivers (Windows XP supported it out of the box), isn't supported any by Vista.
I'm sure some day I'll try it again, but for now, I've already switched back
Tomorrow is my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Julia!
A hundred visitors to an internet chatroom last month witnessed a Shropshire
father of two hang himself in front of his webcam. Some of Kevin Whitrick's
fellow chatters must have imagined he was play-acting, but others were happy
to goad him into killing himself. As Whitrick's face turned purple and he
began to die, one chatter punctured the heady atmosphere by wondering: "Is
Whitrick's final moments tell us something important about what the internet
has become. In this brave new world of the web, even suicide can be an interactive
performance egged on by a crowd of eager spectators.
A Pennsylvania school principal has filed a lawsuit against four former
students, claiming they falsely portrayed him as a pot smoker, beer guzzler
and pornography lover and sullied his reputation through mock MySpace profiles.
Eric Trosch was principal of Hickory High School in Hermitage, Penn., at
the time the short-lived profiles went up on the popular social-networking
site. He claims that the students committed defamation by posting three separate
profiles bearing his name, official school portrait and a host of "unsubstantiated
allegations, derogatory comments and false statements" about him, according
to a complaint filed last month in Mercer County, Penn., civil court.
Each of the disputed sites, which went online during the course of one week
in December 2005, was removed within days of its appearance after school
officials contacted MySpace.com.
Paint Drying? Sorry, Wrong Link. This Is Cheddarvision
The cruel randomness of celebrity became clear to Tom Calver in February,
when the cheese got a romantic Valentine in the mail and he did not.
What has he done?" Mr. Calver asked of the cheese in question, a
44-pound round of cheddar currently maturing on his farm in this Somerset
hamlet. (Mr. Calver's farm, not the cheese's.) "He's just sat there
and got moldy."
But in common with other instant media sensations and members of the world's
ditzerati, the cheddar has not been impeded in its rise to fame by the modest
nature of its accomplishments. As the star of Cheddar-vision TV, a Web site
that carries live images of its life on a shelf (www.cheddarvision.tv), the
cheese has been viewed so far more than 900,000 times.
The World Wide Web makes Tom Pitoniak's job harder. As an associate editor
at Merriam-Webster, publisher of dictionaries and other reference books,
Pitoniak must distinguish between words that legitimately should be in the
dictionary and all that other matter sloshing around the English language:
slang, industry jargon, onomatopoeic fillers, brand names, buzzwords, abbreviations,
and the like. The new Web-flooded as it is with blogs, message boards, and
Web pages containing the computer literati's conversations-is awash with
such words. "It's kind of dizzying," says Pitoniak.
Telling the difference between a true word and a nonword was once as easy
as reading. Time was, a cluster of sequential letters constituted a word
if it appeared in printed sources a few hundred times or so over a few years
and had an accepted meaning. Not anymore.
Flash to subject distance - Digital Photography Tip of the Week
This week's tip is about controlling the brightness of your background when
using your on camera flash.
Controlling the brightness of your background relies on a little technical
knowledge, the inverse square law. The brightness of the flash output is relative
to the inverse square of the distance from the flash from the subject. Sounds
complicated, but to sum it up simply, the brightness of your flash at a given
distance is reduced by to 1/4 it's brightness at twice the distance (the inverse
Using this, when the flash is your primary light source of your image, you
can utilize this knowledge to help create some separation between your subject
and the background. By moving your subject further from the background (still
assuming correct exposure for your flash) the background will get darker. This
technique can be used to completely darken the background as you may sometimes
see with macro photography with flash, or make your subject stand out from
Subtle use of this technique is required though. If the exposure of the foreground
and background is too dramatic, your subject may look pasted on to the background.
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 email@example.com.
Last week I shared a tip about a free
utility from Microsoft that lets you use an ISO image of a CD as if
it were a real CD. I was asked how to create an ISO image, so I did some
research into some available software.
There are commercial titles such as WinImage and Magic
ISO Maker. There are also free utilities such as Folder2Iso and LC
ISO Creator, and ISO Recorder.
I haven't used any of these, but they all do the same thing. The software
will make an ISO out of the contents of a CD or DVD, or make an ISO out
of files (or folders) that you specify. Then once you have an ISO image
created, you can use the Microsoft utility to turn that into a virtual
Chances are that you've watched those amusing three-minute viral videos
on YouTube and other sites. Cute. But what if you're in the mood for some
longer-format entertainment at a higher image quality, maybe even featuring
professional talent? The Internet can help there too. I spent an exhausting
week watching movies from five on-demand and download services: Amazon
Unbox, CinemaNow, MovieFlix, Movielink, and Vongo. Each has a somewhat
different take on what your online movie experience should be. They vary
significantly in what they offer, how you should pay, and whether you subscribe
to a film library, rent, or purchase the content. Read on to see which
service works best.
Every once in a while I click on the link in one of those phishing emails
to see what happens. I have no plans to give any personal information, but
it's interesting to see the sites and how they try to duplicate the look
of legitimate sites. The other day I clicked on a link and I had my first
experience with Firefox's Phishing Protection. The screen went dark gray
and a Suspected Web Forgery warning came up. Neat!
I know that IE7 has a similar feature, but since I don't use it, I haven't
seen what it does.
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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