Welcome to the 491st 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!
I've been sending out the newsletter for almost 10 years. I'm only a couple
of months away from my 500th issue. I don't know how much longer I will be
doing it for. I've thought many times over the years that I would stop, but
I've kept it going out of habit. The problem is, that my subscriber base keeps
shrinking. Traffic to my site keeps increasing, and the PCIN.net
Update Blog (where everything is posted first) is doing well. I'm thinking
that either when I hit the 500th issue in May or hit the 10 year mark in September,
that I will end the newsletter and focus on the web content. It seems funny
to say this, but email is "old" technology, and there are better
ways for visitors to be kept up to date on what is going on. If you aren't
using Google Reader, Newsgator Online, MyYahoo, or a software client on your
computer to keep up with the blogs, you should.
They operate from a bare apartment on a Chinese island. They are intelligent
20-somethings who seem harmless. But they are hard-core hackers who claim
to have gained access to the world's most sensitive sites, including the
In fact, they say they are sometimes paid secretly by the Chinese government
- a claim the Beijing government denies.
"No Web site is one hundred percent safe. There are Web sites with high-level
security, but there is always a weakness," says Xiao Chen, the leader of
"Internet addiction" and "CrackBerry" are the narcotic-laced
phrases we invariably use to explain our growing dependence on laptops and
PDAs. Now a Canadian media research company has examined what happens to
users in the absence of their virtual communication of choice and coined
a term for the modern-day affliction: "disconnect anxiety."
The syndrome is described, in a study that will be released today, as the
various feelings of disorientation and nervousness experienced when a person
is deprived of Internet or wireless access.
Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer pledged Thursday the company
would gain share against Google Inc. in online advertising and Web searching,
even if it's his "last breath" at the company.
Speaking at Microsoft's MIX08 online technology conference in Las Vegas,
Ballmer reiterated the justifications for its $41.2 billion unsolicited offer
for Yahoo Inc, saying the deal would accelerate its efforts to build a competitor
"So it may be my last breath at Microsoft, but we're going to be there,
working away, building share," said Ballmer during a bantering question-and-answer
session with Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist and one of the first employees
at Apple Inc.
Savvy office workers frustrated that their on-the-job computer tools don't
function as smoothly as, say, an Apple iPod are taking matters into their
No longer are they relying on company technicians, or information technology
(IT) administrators, to choose the software needed to get the job done. They
know how to pluck tools right off the Web.
Industry observers use the term "consumerization" to describe the
phenomenon whereby office workers are less likely to wait for the IT folks
to equip them.
Choosing a Macro Lens - Digital Photography Tip of the Week
A friend and fellow photographer, Scott Simons, recently put on a presentation
discussing early morning photography. During that presentation he was asked
why use one macro lens over another. It was a good question and one that I
will answer here for you today. This is for the most part, specific to people
shooting with SLR type camera's with interchangeable lenses. While other camera's
may have the ability to use screw on or accessory lenses in conjunction with
the existing lens, I am not talking about that today.
First, why a macro lens. Macro lenses enable the photographer to photograph
small subjects in great detail capturing up to life size reproductions the
subject. 1:1 life size simply means that the images appears the same size on
the film plane (or digital sensor) as it is in real life. Macro lenses are
typically very sharp which help in capture fine detail of small subjects. They
also allow for necessary, precise manual focusing.
For 35 mm digital photography, most macro lenses will be somewhere within
the following set of focal ranges: 50mm, 60mm, 90mm, 100mm, 105mm, 150mm, 180mm
and 200mm. Of course, not all manufacturers make all focal lengths but most
will make three of them. The 50 and 60 are generally considered wide angle
macro lenses, the 90, 100 and 105 normal macros and 150, 180 and 200 telephoto
macro lenses. So what is the difference?
The difference between the focal lengths of any lens is field of view. A 18mm
wide angle lens has a greater field of view than a 200mm telephoto. The same
is the case with macro lenses. This is important because the wider the field
of view, the more background will be a factor in your image. Generally you
want to sufficiently blur the background to help bring emphasis to the subject
but not necessarily always.
For comparison, I will talk about the lenses as used when photographing a
subject at 1:1 (or life-size) that does not occupy the entire frame: a subject
with a background.
A wide angle macro lens will incorporate more of the background than a medium
or telephoto macro. At the same time, the working distance (the distance between
the camera and subject) will be closer when working with a wide angle macro
than with an medium focal length macro or telephoto.
Working distance is a factor because the more distance between the camera
and the subject, the greater ability you as a photographer will have to use
light modifiers to manipulate your image. Another advantage is that when your
subject can move such as butterfly, you can help prevent them from being too
skittish and walking away on you by staying as far back as possible.
Where is the advantage? Most people I know will say that the advantage lies
with the longer focal length macro lenses. They narrow field of view and a
greater working distance from your subject typically help to create fantastic
images. The drawback is that longer focal length macro lenses cost significantly
more money any are heavier. If you need to carry your equipment long distances,
weight may be a concern.
If you are interested in macro photography, you can start with some less expensive
alternatives. Extension tubes allow you focus closer than a given lens normally
allows and close up diopters may help you as well. Next week I will talk a
little bit about these and other options.
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.
Over the last few weeks there have been quite a few sites and newsletters
that have linked to a new tool on the Microsoft site called Password
Do you use strong passwords?
A strong password should appear to be a random string of characters to
an attacker. It should be 14 characters or longer, (eight characters or
longer at a minimum). It should include a combination of uppercase and
lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Test the strength of your passwords: Enter a password in the text box
to have Password Checker help determine its strength as you type.
It is a simple utility that does NOT send any information back to Microsoft.
Everything is checked locally. I tested several of my passwords, and they
all came back Strong, but not Best. They aren't long enough I guess.
There are a lot of online productivity suites out there these days. Google
has probably made the biggest news as they have put together a collection
of them (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, etc) after buying
several companies. But Google certainly isn't the only one. I have previous
mentioned a basic collection of similar programs by AJAX13.
A more full-featured collection is from ThinkFree:
The award-winning ThinkFree Office is a Microsoft® Office compatible
application suite comprised of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation
graphics software-all usable online and off.
I haven't done much other than signing up for a free account and then playing
around a bit, but it looks promising. Check
it out for yourself.
To burn or not to burn? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the
mind to suffer the absence of your DVD collection on your hard drive, or
to take arms against those who poison your collection with various "protections," and
by opposing end them.
If you side with the latter camp, then you'll be interested in DVDFab
HD Decrypter, a free program for Windows that copies an entire DVD movie
to your hard drive, and removes all the protections (CSS, RC, RCE, APS,
UOPs and Sony ARccOS) while copying. The program also provides full HD-DVD
and Blu-Ray support (hence the "HD" in the name).
As is usually the case, the comments section of that posting provides some
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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