Welcome to the 465th 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!
Andrew started back at school last week, but this week he started taking the
bus in the morning and he is so excited! The bus stop for our street is right
at our house, so he keeps looking out the window to see if anyone else is out
there. From the time he gets up until the time he goes outside he keeps asking
Lisa how much more time there is until the bus comes. It's very cute!
I got more memory for my new computer (now 2GB total) and a proper cable for
one of my SATA drives, so I'm pretty well all done now. I'm sitting here listening
I type this looking at my flat screen (only 17", but it's my first one
I've ever had). One of the things about this computer is that it is virtually
silent! My other computer sounded like an airplane. I was just used to it I
George W. Bush has acknowledged that the US is vulnerable to cyber-attack
and said he might raise the issue with Chinese President Hu Jintao when they
meet in Sydney on Thursday.
The US president's comments followed a report in the Financial Times that
the Chinese People's Liberation Army had allegedly hacked into the Pentagon's
"I'm very aware that a lot of our systems are vulnerable to cyber-attack
from a variety of places," said Mr Bush, who is in Sydney for the annual
Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit.
On a recent afternoon at his company's headquarters here, Michael S. Dell
is seated in a spacious conference room named Dobie Hall - in honor of the
University of Texas dormitory where, in 1984, he started the computer giant
that bears his name.
He boasts that Dell Inc. has just reported quarterly profits that exceeded
Wall Street projections. It's an encouraging sign, he says, that the company
- buffeted by high-profile production problems and accounting shenanigans
- is finally regaining momentum.
Consumers who want to weigh how their purchases affect the environment have
plenty of guidelines and seals of approval to choose from for everything
from cars to tissue paper. But finding out just how eco-friendly a computer
is can be a bigger chore.
There are several competing yardsticks, each considering a different aspect
of a computer's greenness, be it energy consumption, use of toxic materials,
or how easily it can be recycled. None by itself provides a complete picture.
And since consumers aren't demanding environmentally friendly computers in
large numbers, makers of those machines have little incentive to market PCs
Using Opacity in Photoshop for Fine Tuning - Digital Photography
Tip of the Week
Photoshop and Adobe
Photoshop Elements are both powerful photo editors. For the hobbyist,
Photoshop Elements can be used to handle most, if not all of your photo editing
needs. For serious photographers and professionals, the full version of Photoshop
offers more tools for complete control over your photos. Both programs, and
many other photo editing packages, feature the same, or similar tools and
features. One such feature is the ability to control opacity. I have referred
to opacity in previous tips: Feel
the Burn, The
Orton Effect, and Black
and White from Colour Images, Part 4
Opacity refers to the intensity or transparency of a modification. You can
modify opacity with brushes when painting effects in your images, but you can
also use opacity on layers. When you are painting on a layer with a brush,
modifying your opacity allows you to control how much paint you use. A low
opacity results in a very light application of the brush while a higher opacity
results in a heavy application. A lower opacity allows more of the original
pixel data to show through while a higher opacity has a greater effect on your
image. When using a brush, I prefer to use multiple strokes of a low opacity
brush so that I can better control my adjustments rather than a single, heavy
With layers, opacity is a wonderful modifier. Like with the brushes, opacity
control on a layer controls how transparent the layer is. I use this often
to control how much or how little of an effect I want to use on an image. As
I make use of a large number of adjustment layers, which in themselves may
be altered again and again without pixel modification, I can also alter how
strong the adjustment is. What I typically do is create my adjustment layer
at 100% opacity and then dial the opacity down until I achieve the exact manipulation
I am looking for. This is a great technique when touching up a portrait as
I can hide or eliminate facial blemishes, whiten teeth, erase wrinkles and
have precise and easily adjustable control over these changes. By lowering
my opacity, I allow the underlying pixels to show through which helps to add
texture to my changes and makes them completely lifelike.
With all the tools available in today's digital editing packages, the process
can become daunting. Fine control may be difficult for someone new to the area
of digital editing but working in small amounts can make it much easier. Being
able to control your entire image is the goal of many photographers and tools
such as opacity help with that.
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.
Windows Vista's hard disk imaging utility, Complete PC Backup, allows
users you to create an image file that contains the complete contents and
structure of a hard disk. If you want this capability in Windows XP, you
don't have to pay for a third-party utility, such as Acronis True Image.
Michael Robertson, the founder
of MP3.com, has been promoting open source software for a while now. He recently
started working with a company, Ajax13, that is writing web-based office-suite
applications. The latest venture is a Windows replacement called ajaxWindows:
Today I'm launching ajaxWindows -
a complete virtual PC you can experience using only a browser from any
web connected computer. If you would like to see it in action, check out
the online demo or the video. Remember that everything you see is happening
within a web browser. The web browser functions as both the operating system
and engine for all of the ajaxWindows applications.
I first heard about this yesterday, and the site was available, but I
guess word has gone around, and it is currently unavailable. Over the next
few days check it out. This particular setup is in its first version, so
there is work to do, but this sort of online virtual computer is the future.
There are many utilities out there that will show you the space used in
the various folders on your system. One of the better ones is WinDirStat.
WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for
Microsoft Windows (all current variants).
WinDirStat reads the whole directory tree once and then presents it
in three useful views:
* The directory list, which resembles the tree view of the Windows Explorer
but is sorted by file/subtree size,
* The treemap, which shows the whole contents of the directory tree straight
* The extension list, which serves as a legend and shows statistics about
the file types.
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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