Welcome to the 490th 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!
Two days ago we had weather that was warm enough to make you think you could
wear shorts. Then late last night we got hit with a big ice and snow storm.
Then tomorrow it is supposed to be a few degrees above freezing again. No wonder
this is the time of year when people get sick! My oldest son has been home
from school for 3 days. He can't wait to get back to school.
I guess all this crazy weather does lead to some good things. I think this
Saturday we are going to the "sugar
bush". It's always a fun day, especially the big breakfast they have
with peameal bacon, pancakes, and fresh syrup.
Oh, in case any of you were wondering, Lisa did end up getting her shamrock
Scammers, stalkers, online antagonists ready to pick a fight, folks who
are just plain mean--what is it about the Web that turns people into jerks?
One expert says the anonymity of the Web makes everyone behave as if they
were in Palm Beach in April. "Think about spring break, when people
are feeling anonymous and acting in ways they wouldn't in their hometown,
where they run into their neighbor," says Nicole Ellison, assistant
professor of telecommunications, information studies, and media at Michigan
University. "People are less inhibited, and they then will engage in
things they would want to do all the time but wouldn't normally because it
would be frowned upon in their social circles."
A New York University study found that subjects were more likely to express
their true selves on the Net rather than in face-to-face interaction. If
that's the case, the stories we've collected here may make you despair for
the state of humanity. Meet just a few of the Web's aggravating trolls and
Microsoft Gets Record Fine and a Rebuke From Europe
The European antitrust regulator imposed a record $1.35 billion fine against
Microsoft on Wednesday in a ruling intended to send a clear message to the
world's largest software maker - and to any other company - of the dangers
of flouting Europe's competition rulings.
The size of the penalty, which surprised lawyers and legal experts, was a
clear assertion of the power of the European Commission and its main antitrust
regulator, Neelie Kroes, who is its competition commissioner. She has emerged
from a lengthy legal battle with Microsoft as possibly the world's most activist
The dispute with the commission has cost Microsoft more than $2.3 billion
In a dramatic about-face, Ask.com is abandoning its effort to outshine Internet
search leader Google Inc. and will instead focus on a narrower market consisting
of married women looking for help managing their lives.
As part of the new direction outlined Tuesday, Ask will lay off about 40
employees, or 8 per cent of its work force.
With the shift, the Oakland-based company will return to its roots by concentrating
on finding answers to basic questions about recipes, hobbies, children's
homework, entertainment and health.
I took a real day off this weekend: computers shut down, cellphone left
in my work bag, land-line ringer off. I was fully disconnected for 24 hours.
The reason for this change was a natural and predictable back-breaking straw.
Flying home from Europe a few months ago, I swiped a credit card through
the slot of the in-seat phone, checked my e-mail and robbed myself of one
of my two last sanctuaries.
At that point, the only other place I could escape was in my sleep. Yet I
had developed the habit of leaving a laptop next to my bed so I could check
my e-mail, last thing and first thing. I had learned how to turn my P.D.A.
into a modem, the better to access the Web from my laptop when on a train.
Of course I also used that P.D.A. in conventional ways, attending to it when
it buzzed me.
In short, my name is Mark, and I'm a techno-addict.
On Monday night I had the pleasure of viewing several wonderful slideshows
from members of my local camera club.
One of those was a great presentation by Karen
Fulham. Karen's photos are full of colour which also happened to be the
subject of her presentation.
Using colour as your subject is a good method is a great way to both practice
your compositional skills and to add some new excitement to your photos. In
order to capitalize on the use of colour as your main subject within your photograph,
you must have strong compositional form with your photos.
Colour in strong compositional forms abounds everywhere. Capturing those colours
and forms can lead to wonderful photographs.
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.
These days, most people have access to several computers that they use regularly.
There is usually a computer at work and at home, but there may be multiple
computers at either location. Although it can be great to have so many different
computers to use, it can be frustrating if you don't have all of your data
in one place. Personally, I "live" in Microsoft Outlook, so I've
got to have my emails, contacts, notes, calendar items, and tasks always
available. There are a couple of different solutions out there. I've tried
two free ones, and both do a decent job. Note: when I refer to Outlook data
below, I mean those contacts, notes, calendar items, etc. Both of the software
titles support Outlook, Outlook Express, and some web-based email services.
Visit the sites to learn more.
Plaxo - Plaxo has really grown over
the last few years. They used to be strictly a contact management site, and
were often known for sending out unwanted emails to people telling them that
you were using their service. They have gradually added more features, and
can now sync all regular Outlook data. I've tested this on 3 different computers,
and they sync up beautifully. I sync my contacts and notes among all 3 computers,
and my calendar items between two of the computers. It's great. By default,
Plaxo adds all sorts of extra features to Outlook that I have no use for,
but you can disable those, and use just the syncing feature. You can also
access everything online if you need to.
SyncWizard - This is a new service
from Michael Robertson and his Ajax13 company.
They use several different open source tools to do the same sort of thing.
I have only tried this briefly, but it seems to be able to sync up all of
the same Outlook data. SyncWizard also has a web-based interface where you
can see your data. As well, you can also backup some other things other than
your Outlook data.
I prefer Plaxo, but if this is all new to you, give both a try and see which
one you like.
When you right-click on a file, one of the options is "Open With",
and in many situations, there will be a sub-menu with a few options. For
instances, and BMP, GIF, or JPG file can be opened in a variety of programs,
and these may all be listed. Yesterday Download
Squad posted about a program called OpenWithView which "allows you
to easily disable/enable the applications in the Windows "open with" dialog
box." In the comments of that post, another
person mentioned OpenExpert, another utility that lets you "specify
any number of suitable applications for each file type. In this way, when
you open a file, instead of being restricted to using a single pre-determined
application, you can easily choose among a list of suitable applications."
If you like to open certain file types in a variety of different applications
(depending on what you want to do with the file when you open it), then you
should give these a try:
Ed Bott, an author and Windows expert,
has a great post on his site (where
he links to a ZDNet post) where he mentions his 10 favorite Windows programs
In this article and accompanying gallery, I list 10 Windows programs I
use every day. Every one adds a feature that makes Windows easier to use
or can help make you more productive. Each one comes from a company that
has proven its ability to support the product and improve it over time.
I've been using every program on this list for long enough to recommend
it without reservation.
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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