31 December, 2007
SpeedFan indicated very hot (flames) for many of the components, but it wasn't capable of turning the fans on or up. Further, it didn't give me any indication of what temperature was dangerous to my laptop. In searching for threshold temperatures, I found another, more useful utility, 18kfanGUI.
18kfanGUI was developed by Christian Diefer of Germany specifically for Dell laptops (see his compatibility chart). Using 18kfanGUI, I am able to get my fans to turn on or up sooner, and therefore keep the temperature of my laptop lower. Christian also hosts a Forum, which appears to be very active, so you can support beyond his manual and FAQs.
Now, my laptop is a bit noisier, but I am much more comfortable in knowing that my laptop wont crash (or worse, get ruined) by high temperatures.
BTW: In Christian's FAQs, he has a listing for the BIOS temperature / fan speed for the Inspiron 8000 and 8100.
21 December, 2007
Here are some TechRepublic tips and guides that I believe people may find valuable:
- Powerful PowerPoint Presentations: This wont teach you how to make better presentations, but it will teach you how to use PowerPoint to its fullest capability.
- How do I...Migrate from Outlook Express to Mozilla's Thunderbird?: If you haven't yet switched to Thunderbird for email, this article is helpful in getting you through the process.
- Creating a bootable USB flash drive for Windows XP: Just what you need when you're troubleshooting your friends PC.
- Create a bootable WinXP CD slipstreamed with SP2 and hotfixes: The perfect companion for your bootable USB flash drive when you need to reinstall XP.
- How do I... Uninstall Microsoft Internet Explorer 7?: This will only roll you back to IE6, but if you are having problems with some web apps using IE7, this is a great help. (Of course you should have been using Firefox anyway.)
While you're visiting TechRepublic, also be sure to read The 10 worst geek gift ideas for the holidays.
As with the Download Digest, if you are willing to put the effort into sifting through for the nuggets, TechRepublic does contain some practical articles.
16 December, 2007
Not really computer related, but rather solved with a computer...
I have one of those 6-piece block puzzles that has been apart for some time. I decided to look online to see if I could find a solution. First I learned that it is called a 6-piece Burr puzzle; then I discovered that there are too many different combinations that I would be luck to find a solution.
Then I ran across an IBM Research site on Burr puzzles. After looking through many of their solutions, and not finding a match, I discovered their applet to solve any Burr. I just entered the cuts of each of my 6 pieces, and within seconds it had the solution for me. And if that wasn't enough, it showed me piece-by-piece how to reassemble it.
Truly I am impressed.
29 November, 2007
... a team of cultural anthropology undergraduates led by Dr. Michael Wesch and human interaction on digital technology. exploring the impacts of digital technology on human interaction on digital technologyput together this superb video on the Information R/evolution. Check it out and see what you think. What a change.
25 November, 2007
- Go to the Group Policy Editor (type gpedit.msc at the Run prompt)
- Expand the window to Local Computer Policy | Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Windows Update
- Double-click on Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations
- In the dialog box that opens, click Enable and enter a high number such as 1000 minutes
- Click OK and close the Group Policy Editor
24 November, 2007
- Speed Freaks
- Optimize for Speed
- Internet Boosters
- Application Boosters
In the Optimize for Speed category, there are four free tools mentioned. Three of them look to optimize your Registry: Eusing Free Registry Cleaner, CCleaner, and Auslogics Registry Defrag. In addition, CCleaner will also look at removing unnecessary files, similar to Cleanup Assistant. The final free tool in the Optimize for Speed category is Advanced Windows Care 2 Personal, which its primary utility is to clean up your startup applications.
This reminded me to run CCleaner, which I already had installed. It found over 200MB of unnecessary files to remove from my system. I also use my own startup utility, Startup Inspector, to disable many non-required startup applications (See my blog post from October 21, 2006: XP Memory Problems and Startup Applications). Note: CCleaner provides this functionality.On to the third category, Internet Boosters. In this category, there are four free utilities: 1) MySpeed PC Lite Edition; 2) Bandwidth Monitor 2; 3) SG TCP Optimizer; and 4) uTorrent. the only one that really will do the work for you and help improve your Internet speeds is SC TCP Optimizer. Based on my experience, though tools such as this can make some performance adjustments, it is unlikely to notice the improvements yourself (if you ran a well controlled test, you might be able to conclusively see a difference as measured in the test).
uTorrent is a completely different tool; you wont see any overall Internet performance improvements, but rather it's a BitTorrent client that you could use for downloading files. Great for distributed bandwidth usage (and getting pirated software), BitTorrent is only as good as the files being shared by others.
The last category, Application Boosters, only has one free program (it only lists two programs in total): PDF SpeedUp. PDF SpeedUp claims it will adjust Acrobat settings so it will load faster. I personally use an alternate PDF reader, FoxIt. FoxIt loads extremely fast, and it doesn't cause Firefox to crash.
So if you're looking for a way to get back some of the speed on your PC, there are many tools that claim they can help. If you don't want to go through all the programs to find out which ones really work, I recommend you get and use CCleaner and run your Disk Defrag program that is already on you PC. Oh, and of course this recommendation assumes you have a PC clean of viruses and other malware (See: Is Your Windows XP Computer Internet Safe?).
19 November, 2007
This is likely dated for most folks, but if you are still having problems with the Microsoft XP Update for MSXML 4.0 Service Pack 2, there is a rather simple fix. If you are not sure, but have had Microsoft's yellow shield in your taskbar for some time, select Custom Install and you can see what is trying (and failing) to install. If it is MSXML 4.0 Service Pack 2, then this is the fix for you.
- Go to Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel
- Remove all instances of MSXML 4.0 Service Pack 2 (KBxxxxx)
- Retry the update -- that's it.
18 November, 2007
11 November, 2007
Recently I heard about a new Internet TV interface that would solve all these problems, and it's open-source -- Miro. I downloaded and tried Miro over the weekend. Miro has an interface that is familiar -- it feels a lot like iTunes, but at version 0.9.9.9.1, it's still buggy. I quickly learned that Miro's primary feeds are the same RSS feeds used for podcasts and videocasts.
I took a few of my podcast feeds from iTunes, tried them on Miro, and they worked. Likewise, I took some of the Miro feeds and they worked with iTunes. So I thought, "what benefit is there to Miro when I can do this all in iTunes?" None. I can load these through iTunes and have them portable, which Miro cannot do. Also with Miro, because they are RSS feeds, I have to download the entire show before I can view -- with Joost and other streaming solutions, you can begin to view almost immediately.
Perhaps I am being a little hard on Miro; it does offer an easy search across all the major video sharing sites such as YouTube, Revver, and Blip.tv -- that's nice. It also has a nice guide of video feeds and you can download files over BitTorrent, but I still did not find it had much new to offer.
In addition, I looked at Joost again (I've been traveling, and haven't had much time for TV). Well Joost has up'd the ante. Now I can see my favorite CSI shows, late night CBS comedy, and a better interface for browsing and storing my favorites.
So while Miro is trying to offer us an alternative Internet TV option, they are a long way away from matching what I can do with iTunes and the growth of Joost. For folks such as myself that only have broadcast TV, I'm still waiting for the break-through, integrated solution that includes on-demand sports and movies in addition to the legal, free television.
01 November, 2007
After starting just a few weeks back (October 7), FreeRice.com has already donated 537,163,380 grains of rice. Now I don't know how many grains of rice are in a cup, but it sounds impressive. For every correctly identified definition, 10 grains are donated -- perhaps with some traffic growth, FreeRice.com could charge advertisers more, so 15 grains of rice could be donated for every correct answer.
It's time you do your part -- work on your vocabulary and help feed the world.
10 October, 2007
I learned about this today when I went into Starbucks. As part of the promotion, you can get a free, new song every day in Starbucks through November 7th. The first artist was Bob Dylan and has include greats such as Gloria Estefan and Mavis Staples; upcoming releases include Herbie Hancock, Dave Matthews, and John Mayer.
Personally, I think this is a great combination of two great products, coffee and music, brrought to us by folks who know how to do it so well, Starbucks and Apple. That'll be a triple-grande-latte for me.
All it takes is a computer with a webcam and mic, and 320 Kbs minimum upstream bandwidth, and you're good to go. After registering and providing some basic info on your feed, you get a custom URL that you can share with all your Internet friends. In addition, you can embed the stream into another web page and you can have real-time chat with your viewers.
Of course it's not a perfect solution. Ustream.tv could really put some work into finding recorded and live streams, as there is a lot of junk. For example, when I click on a tag in their tag cloud, I get all shows from one poster before seeing the next. Why not group those, so I can quickly scan shows from many folks? Also, even though you can give your show a description, the description is not displayed when you browse or search -- you have to click-through to see the details. Overall though, those are minor usability issues that I would expect to be fixed as Ustream.tv gains popularity.
Give Ustream.tv a look for yourself. Start with one of your favorite tech geeks such as Leo Laporte or Chris Pirillo, or browse through the music section. If that is not your interest, you can even check out Senator Edwards and Senator Dodd. Once you've seen others, perhaps it's time to broadcast yourself...
21 September, 2007
If you're a Firefox user, an easy way to help is to browse with a trunk nightly build wrapped in a script that calls leak-gauge.pl when Firefox exits. If it reports that documents or windows leaked, try to figure out how to reproduce the leak and then file a bug report.In addition to coverage on Firefox, Jesse has assemble a wealth of useful information in the 4 years of writing his blog. For example, he has a link to his del.icio.us links, a list of 43 things he wants to do, and a humor list. So if you're looking to learn more about Firefox or just looking for a good blog, give Indistinguishable from Jesse a look.
19 September, 2007
This is a great solution if you live in an apartment complex or close in the city.
18 September, 2007
So far, so good -- looks compelling. Well with the good comes the not so good. I have over 1500 music titles in my collection, and 3 days into it, I am still uploading. I can adjust my upload speed from as little as 100 Kbps to 5,000 Kbps -- it just takes a long time. In addition, the site responds very slowly.
Perhaps because it is still beta or perhaps it's slow because my uploads are being processed, but it is definitely slow. In addition, the find functionality to discover new music from other members of MediaMaster is almost useless. You have the ability to search by username... hmm... how many users reflect their music genre in their name? There are some additional search features accessible from the front page, but there's no link from my MediaMaster Player back to the front page or to the site search functions. Once you get there, the various lists you can create are not too helpful because you do not know what type of music (genre) the user has in their collection.
With that being said, there's a lot of potential, and MediaMaster has other offerings in the works. If you take their survey, you will get a good idea as to what those are. For example a fee version with more features and the ability to download your music back onto your PC (maybe part of the fee version). You can also find out the latest in new features from the MediaMaster blog.
So is it the best music option available today? Not yet -- if you want to discover new music I still believe Last.FM and Pandora are better. If you are looking for an easy way to access your music anywhere, then perhaps, but personally I just use my iPod. Will it have long term success? From what I've seen so far, I see no reason why not -- oh, unless the RIAA gets involved somehow.
One last note, the site demo is buried in the About section, but it's hosted on YouTube here.
17 September, 2007
You can use Firebug as a part of your browser window (while you're interacting with it) or in its own window. the one drawback I see is that each time I change tabs, the new website is processed by Firebug; not that it's slow, but rather I'd like to see the window close or hide. One work-around is to go into the options and specify the websites that you want Firebug to interact with, and all others will therefore not inspected. You can also set what sites shouldn't be inspect. Perhaps a complex page, such as I use for posting to this blog, causes Firebug (and therefore Firefox) to crash. Just disallow that page and the problem goes away.
15 September, 2007
If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.But the phone and cable companies are using their deep pockets to keep the government from stepping in and protecting the people. Check out Exposing the Justice Department’s Hit Job Against an Open Internet from Save the Internet blog and decide for yourself. If you're looking for a more independent view, see PC Magazines article released this week: Senate Chair Takes on FTC in Net Neutrality Fight.
To conclude, if you haven't notified your Congressional leaders on your position, it is time to do it.
16 August, 2007
Instructables has 8 categories: art, craft, food, home, life, not liable, ride, and tech. You can also browse the site using one of the many keywords. If that isn't enough, Instructables has an active Forum where you can exchange ideas and get help with the tricky parts of your project.
Have fun. I know I like the car remote extender.
07 August, 2007
30 July, 2007
Font themes include Fancy, Foreign look, Techno, Gothic, and Holiday among others. Here are some samples of the Sci-Fi and TV/Movie fonts.
dafont.com also contains links to free and fee font related software.
So next time you need just the right font, give dafont.com a look.
26 July, 2007
I did some research, and though it has not been long enough to be certain it has been corrected, it looks promising. Here are the suggestions that I tried:
- Archive everything older than 3 months (it was 6). This should reduce the size of your PST file -- mine was 2.6 MB. My understanding is that newer versions of Outlook do not have problems with large PST files, but why take a chance? Tools | Options >> Other >> AutoArchive...
- Start a new outcmd.dat file (C:\Documents and Settings\[your user name]\application data\microsoft\outlook), as it could be corrupt. Close Outlook, rename the file, start Outlook -- a new version will be created.
- Remove unnecessary Add-ins. Tools | Options >> Other >> Advanced Options >> Add-In Manager... and COM Add-ins...; Close and Re-open Outlook.
- The David Allen Company User Forums
- Rocket Computers
- Geeks to Go
- Or search Google with "outlook 2003 slow"
17 July, 2007
For all intents an purposes, Time-Warner's RoadRunner service just change their offering (June 6). Now, regardless of the bandwidth package you purchased, during busy times, they will slow down or throttle back certain traffic. So regardless of the service, instead of improving their infrastructure, Time-Warner will limit your bandwidth of certain tasks.
"...implemented for newsgroup applications, regardless of the provider, and all peer-to-peer networks and certain other high bandwidth applications not necessarily limited to audio, video, and voice over IP telephony."I think it's high-time that the government steps-in to at least regulate that the service offered and sold matches the service delivered. They also need to make sure customers have some choices.
On the final day of the FCC's inquiry on net neutrality, Senators Snowe and Dorgan sent a letter encouraging the FCC to do what's in the best public interest. The letter also points out how in the past 2 years, telcos and cable companies have made it clear that they want to control consumer access to content, therefore ensuring that their own services are better. A bit anti-competitive to say the least.
Read more about Senators Snowe's and Dorgan's letter on the Save the Internet Blog. While you are there, read some of the stories of small companies and individuals who have made a difference in their own lives because of the freedoms provided with Net Neutrality.
16 July, 2007
Hype Machine follows music blogs discussions while Hype Radio streams songs listed in the blogs. Hype Machine also provides easy links to buy the music via iTunes or Amazon.com. Perhaps the best feature is the RSS feed. The feed send down the current song being played, which you can save and play locally. I did encounter a few that failed.
If you don't want to receive the RSS feed, and perhaps just checkout the music, you can also listen from your browser, vis-à-vis Hype Radio. To get a song played, it has to be mentioned by a blogger that is signed up with Hype Machine.
SeeqPod is a search engine specific to audio and video on the Internet. When you first reach the site, you can click on one of the scrolling search results (from other searchers called PodCrawler), or search yourself. Once you search, you get a split screen, where you can push results into a playlist for listening.
SeeqPod also provides you with the source URL (though copy-and-paste doesn't work because it is a Flash interface), and the ability to embed, or share the URL. In addition, if you are signed in, you can save your playlist. The Options link provides you with links to the lyrics, tour dates, ring tones, and more. Finally, if you click the television, you can see related YouTube videos.
Both of these provide ways to discover new music. Try Hype Machine for more modern music and SeeqPod for a sample of everything. And both sites seem to push the envelope for fair use, either through providing direct downloads to copyrighted music or links to copyrighted music.
10 July, 2007
With that in mind, I decided to test the popular sites I frequent. Here's my results:
- This blog -- no problems
- Authoring the blog -- failed: couldn't get the cursor in the Title field
- eBay -- warned me to upgrade my browser, but worked
- PayPal -- no problems
- Gmail -- no problems
- Google Calendar -- no problems
- Last.FM -- no problems
- Pogo -- failed: couldn't load a game
- My company website -- no problems (includes Flash movies and apps)
- My bank -- no problems
- del.icio.us -- no problems
To conclude, "Safari for Windows?" Not now.
06 July, 2007
Learn more about the first cash machine on the BBC's website.
24 June, 2007
You can read Leo's bio yourself to get a sense of where he's been or read what Wikipedia has to say about Leo. Many of us remember him from the days of the Screen Savers and TechTV. Leo is well balanced between having a deep technology understanding and understanding that main stream technology (i.e. computers, cellphones, and the like) is too difficult for the average person. [BTW: he also hosts a technology help show, The Tech Guy, every Saturday and Sunday.]
So what is TWiT and why do so many people enjoy the show? Well, it is Leo and his tech friends discussing the latest in technology news. You can get opinions on new technologies, tech mergers, and government and technology, among other interesting tech topics. If you have time for only one tech show, this is the one. Leo has the connections when it comes to his friends in tech too.
To begin with, there are regulars including John C. Dvorak (dvorak.org/blog and Cranky Geeks), Patrick Norton (DL.TV), and Wil Harris. You can also find other experts such as Robert Heron (DL.TV and PC Mag) and Kevin Rose (Digg.com). And he has some great co-hosts on other TWiT podcasts,including Steve Gibson (Security Now and GRC.com) and Amber McArthur (Net@Night, Call for Help, and CommandN).
If you want to do some tech research on your own or follow along the show, you can checkout the TWiT del.icio.us site. For the most part, show numbers are used as tags, so it is easy to follow up on anything discussed during a show.
If you're new to podcasting, go to TWiT.TV and listen to a few shows right online. Once you're hooked, download your own podcatcher such as iTunes or Juice, and have your favorite podcasts delivered directly to your computer.
23 June, 2007
If you're not sure, checkout the demo, I think it'll sell you.
21 June, 2007
Then there is the more obvious, Cold Fusion. Of course with open source solutions and better scaling solutions, Cold Fusion is on its last legs. I remember when it was a good choice, because the open source alternatives and Microsoft had not matured; now, if you're not a Microsoft shop, you're probably using open source.
What other skills do you think are on the way out? How about a Microsoft desktop OS? Is there life after Vista, or did Microsoft make it easier to look at Apple or Linux? And of course the PDA -- it's all smart phones now.
29 April, 2007
28 April, 2007
-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:”index of” +”last modified” +”parent directory” +description +size +(wma|mp3) “Stevie Ray Vaughn”Your results would be something like this:
You can even add different file formats and wildcards for the search string:
-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:"index of" +"last modified" +"parent directory" +description +size +(wma|mp3|ogg) "stevie ray vaughn%"How does this apply to Firefox? Well I'm glad you asked!
You may recall that by entering a keyword into the field of a bookmark, you can retrieve the bookmark in the Address Box by just entering the keyword. Firefox also supports wildcard parameters, so you can enter a keyword followed by a word, and it will add it to the bookmark. I wrote about this in October 2006. So if we create a bookmark in Firefox, modify our Google string for the Location (URL), and add a keyword, we can then execute the same search directly from the Firefox Address Box.
Here are the steps:
- Create a bookmark
- Change the URL as follows: http://www.google.com/search?q=-inurl%3A(htm%7Chtml%7Cphp) +intitle%3A%22index+of%22+%2B%22last+modified%22+%2B%22 parent+directory%22+%2Bdescription+%2Bsize+%2B (wma%7Cmp3%7Cogg)+"%s%"
Note that I added spaces for wrapping -- if you right-click and Copy Link Location (Firefox), you can get the string without the spaces.
- Add your keyword, such as: music
- Click OK
- Enter music Stevie Ray Vaughn into the Address Box and press [Enter]
- All characters are escaped (For example, %3A is a colon [:])
- I replaced Stevie Ray Vaughn with a %s so that Firefox will recognize this as where to insert the value of my parameter (I left the wildcard [%] at the end)
24 April, 2007
For example, using a program called AudioID, it will announce the Skype user name on incoming calls. This is a great feature if you're away from your PC. Other hacks include:
- A DIY security system
- Recording calls
- Enhanced voice mail
- Integrating with last.fm
- Lip syncing Avatar
23 April, 2007
Microsoft has other game templates as well.
22 April, 2007
With last.fm, I enter my favorite artist, band, or song, and it streams music related to that category. At the surface it sounds just like Pandora, but I believe the music matching algorithm is better, as well as last.fm offers many more features. For example, the module above will play my music recommendations, or you can play it on the last.fm site. These are the songs that match what I have selected. I can also play my recommended songs through a downloadable client.
last.fm uses scrobbing to assist in recommending music.
Scrobbling a song means that when you listen to it, the name of the song is sent to Last.fm and added to your music profile.
Once you've signed up and downloaded Last.fm, you can scrobble songs you listen to on your computer or iPod automatically. Start scrobbling yourself, and see what artists you really listen to the most. Songs you listen to will also appear on your Last.fm profile page for others to see.
In addition, last.fm provides several ways to interact with their music, such as through top charts and tagging. Using the Love feature, you can go back and play songs just from your Love list. Likewise, using the Ban feature, you can ban songs from being recommended again.
This is just a peak at the fun you can have with last.fm. If you haven't already, give it a try.
21 April, 2007
Many Podcasters, such as Leo Laporte, use this service to record guests on their shows; which is cheaper and yields better quality than if you tried to recorded off a standard phone.
Skype also offers other services such as Skype SMS and SkypeCasts. SkypeCasts are public live conversations -- a good way to meet people with similar interests. For example you can speak to people who like NBC's HEROES.
So if you're looking to reduce your monthly phone expense, I suggest you give Skype a try.
15 April, 2007
Roundup can be a useful function in other applications as well. The last parameter (0 in this example) is used to change the rounding level. A positive number will add decimal places, while a negative number will round left of the decimal (i.e. -1 rounds to 10s and -2 rounds to 100s).
03 April, 2007
Here's a sample taken from News.com:
- Copy the list and paste it into Word.
- Open the Find and Replace dialog (Edit | Replace... or Ctrl + H).
- Click the More button and check Use wildcards.
- Here's the trick, as you need to use special characters. First, paste the string you want to remove in the Find what: field.
- For each greater than and less than character, place a backslash before it, i.e. < becomes \< .
- Replace the contents of the value field with an asterisk.
- Validate Word will be able to find the code by clicking the Find Next button -- the code should now be highlighted.
- Go to the Replace with: field and enter ^p. This will replace your code with a carriage return.
- Press the Replace button once to validate that it works as expected.
If not, close the Find and Replace dialog and then enter ctrl+z to undo, then return to the Find and Replace dialog to correct the error.
- Now press Replace All button to replace all the code with a carriage return.
- Likely the beginning code and ending code will still exist, as they are different than the rest. Delete those two entries and you are done.
Where there are a couple of work-arounds to prevent this from happening. Perhaps the easiest is to get Microsoft's Tweak UI to disable it. Look for Focus in the General section of Tweak UI.
You can also do this through a registry setting:
- Start the Registry Editor: Go to Start | Run and enter regedit [Enter]
- Find HKEY_CURRENT_USER | Control Panel | Desktop
- Go to the Edit menu and select New > DWORD value
- Name the DWORD value "ForegroundLockTimeout"
- Assign a value of 30d40
- Close the Registry Editor
While your in the Registry Editor, you can also set how many times the Window seeking your attention flashes in your taskbar. This is another setting within HKEY_CURRENT_USER | Control Panel | Desktop:
- Add another new DWORD
- Name it "ForegroundFlashCount"
- Set it to the value equal to the number of flashes you want, e.g. 3
I have heard (though not experienced) that some times newly installed applications will change your setting back (allowing focus to be taken again). One work around is to execute a registry update each time you reboot (the other is to get a different program that wont make this change). Here is how you would create the file to execute each time you rebooted:
- Open a text editor such as Notepad
- Type the following (or copy and paste):
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
- Save the file focus.reg. If your using Notepad, be sure to quote it ("focus.reg"), otherwise it will add a .txt extension (focus.reg.txt).
- To get this file to execute with each new start, go to Start menu | All Programs
- Right-click on Startup and choose Explore
- Right-click in the right pane of your new Explorer window and choose New > Shortcut
- In the Shortcut Wizard, locate your registry file, Focus.reg
- The entry will contain the entire path, and will be quoted. To avoid being prompted each time to allow the Registry to be updated, enter regedit /s before the first quote. i.e. regedit /s "C:\Documents and Settings\Chris\Desktop\focus.reg"
- Name your shortcut, e.g. Focus
30 March, 2007
I decided, what the heck, I'll click on it and see if it is open. Well, I got challenged (which you would think is good), but I tried Windows XP default password for the Admin account and I got in. I suspect more people do not understand that they are not secure than being ignorant that they should be secure. Because people are assuming they are secure, their systems get left open to make easy access without any real hacker tools.
If you're reading this, and are not sure about your computer security, I highly suggest you check your system out or have a technical friend help. Check the following:
- If you have wireless, at a minimum use WPA. You may also consider MAC ID filtering.
- Your router can work as an incoming firewall, but if you let others on your internal network, you might also consider a software firewall such as Zone Alarm. It also does double-duty as an out-bound firewall, which can block requests from your PC to the Internet.
- As mentioned above, you should not keep the default password for the WinXP Admin account. It is very easy to access the user manager (User Accounts) from the Windows Control Panel and make a change.
- Configure your computer to automatically download updates from Microsoft. (See the Security Center in the Control Panel.)
- And of course, have a virus protection program, use Firefox for browsing, and use Thunderbird for your email.
24 March, 2007
Here's a typical boot.ini (located at c:\):
[boot loader]This boot.ini will prompt with:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows XP Media Center Edition" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
C:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT="Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" /cmdcons
- Windows XP Media Center Edition
- Microsoft Windows Recovery Console
- multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Safe Mode" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /safeboot:minimal
- multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Safe Mode with Network" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /safeboot:network
- multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Command Prompt" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /safeboot:minimal(alternateshell)
If you want your boot to log its activities, add the switch /bootlog at the end of the line. You can find the generated log t c:\ntbtlog.txt.When completed, save your new boot.ini, reboot, and you will have these new boot options.
If you want the to display the drivers as they are loaded, add the switch /sos at the end of the line.
You can find all the possible switch options on Microsoft's website.
22 March, 2007
Once the photos were on my laptop, it was very easy to take care of basic photo editing -- perfect for most of us non-Photoshop experts. For example, removing red-eye is simple; I can also sharpen photos; and of course rotation is a single click. Once my edits are complete, Picasa will save my original, so that I can always go back to it later.
Once I finished my edits, I viewed all the photos from the day using the slide show feature. And when I was happy with what I saw, it was a simple click and login (using my Gmail and Blogger account) to post my pictures on the web for viewing by friends and family.
That just scratched the surface of the power of Picasa. Even if you use expert photo editing software such as Photoshop, Picasa is a no-brainer for managing all your photos. If you haven't tried Picasa, I highly encourage you to give it a try.
27 February, 2007
After being perplex for a while, I realized it is actually very easy. Download the file type (e.g. PowerPoint), select the Open with radio button, select the application you want to open it with, and (here's the hard part) check the box next to Do this automatically for files like this from now on.
Now you can go back to the Content tab in the Options menu if you want to remove or change the file association.
Ahh, such an easy solution to any easy problem.
22 February, 2007
I search Google on "free DVD codecs" and found a codec to that worked.
Once installed, it still did not play with my default player, but it did play with the player installed with the codec -- the Media Player Classic.
Because this first codec worked, I did not try the other downloads. I tried this one first because the file size was the smallest. So if you find that you still have trouble, try one of the other links within the first result (Codec Pack All in 1 or K-Lite Mega Codec).
08 February, 2007
- Right-click on the Start menu, and select properties
- Make sure the Start menu radio button is selected, and click the Customize button next to it
- Click the Advance tab
- Scroll through the list of Start menu items until you find My Computer
- Select the radio button next to Display as a menu
- Click OK twice
That's all there is to it.
07 February, 2007
- Install a router. Even if you only have one machine connected to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the router provides incoming firewall protection.
- Install a software firewall. Use this to protect your machine from having applications access the Internet without your permission. It can be a bit of a pain at first, because you will be prompted to approve applications that you do want to access the Internet, but it is worth it in the long run. I recommend ZoneAlarm (get the pro version if you want more information on messages, otherwise the free version is fine). The firewall that came with Windows XP does not protect you for outgoing traffic, so it doesn't give you any more benefit than your router. The software firewall will also protect you from incoming requests if you connect to a shared network.
- Install a virus scanner and have it update daily. New viruses are released, as well as new fixes are published daily, so having an up-to-date virus definition file is as important as having the virus scanning software to begin with. the household brand names, Norton and McAfee are rather bloated, so I recommend Nod32 ($39) or Avast (free).
- Install anti-spyware software. If you have an outgoing software firewall (see #2), then even if you get spyware, you should be protected from the spyware calling home. But you can get anti-spyware software for free, and you can run it manually every week or month just to be safe. Try Microsoft's Defender (which has other good features, such as managing startup applications), Lavasoft's Ad-Aware, or Spybot Search & Destroy.
- Install and use Firefox (or even Netscape or Opera). Firefox will protect you from security holes and related annoyances (as Microsoft has tried to patch them) in Internet Explorer.
- Replace Outlook Express with Thunderbird (or Eudora). By using Thunderbird, you can avoid the same security risks in Internet Explorer, as Outlook Express uses Internet Explorers rendering engine for all HTML formatted email. You can also use Thunderbird to retrieve webmail.
- Use a User Account. With Windows XP it is easy to be running as Administrator and not realize it. Be sure that your Administrator account has a password (default is blank) and that you have created a separate user account that you use for your everyday computing.
- Use strong passwords and don't share them. We all get frustrated because passwords are so hard to manage, and strong passwords are even worse. One solution is to use a program such as RoboForm to help you manage your passwords. RoboForm lets you use one global password to protect all your other passwords. It also makes it easy to have different passwords for different sites. This way if one of your passwords is compromised, it doesn't let someone into all your sites.
- Protect yourself on public networks. If you find yourself using public networks such as Internet hotspots and hotel networks, read my post on Safe Computing While Traveling.
- And of course, keep you machine patched to the latest level -- this of all items, should be a no brainer.
- Look for clues where it hangs. First, if your computer is cycling through reboots, press F8 after the first beep of the reboot and select Disable the Automatic Restart on System Failure. Next time you boot, when the computer hangs, it may give you some clues to the problem.
- Use a Windows XP Boot Disk. This assumes you have made one prior to your problem. To create a boot disk, begin by formatting a floppy disk. Then copy the following files onto the disk: boot.ini, NTLDR, and ntdetect.com. Alternatively, you should be able to create this with a CD.
- Use System Restore. Assuming you can boot in Safe Mode (press F8 on reboot immediately after hearing a single beep, then select Safe Mode from the list of choices), from the Start menu, go to Accessories | System Tools and select System Restore. Follow the wizard interface to restore your machine to a previous point. Note that you will not lose any data, but you may have to reinstall some applications.
- Use Last Known Good Configuration. The Last Know Good Configuration is another option in the menu where you find Safe Mode when rebooting your computer. For more information on Last Known Good Configuration view Microsoft article #307852.
- Use the Recovery Console on your XP Disk. Reboot your computer with your Windows XP installation disk, and select the Recovery Console. From the Recovery Console, you can select which OS to log into (if this is your only OS on the machine, only one will be listed). When prompted, enter the administrator password (the default is blank -- just hit Enter). For more information on the Recovery Console view Microsoft article #307654.
- Use your backup. Many folks don't backup, while others just backup their data, but if you have a complete system backup, you can use that.
- Fix corrupted partition boot sector and/or master boot record. To fix a corrupt partition boot sector, go back to the Recovery Console and type fixboot c:. To fix the master boot record, you also use the Recovery Console. From there, enter fixmbr \Device\HardDisk0. This assumes that you are booting from c: and c: is on harddisk 0.
- Try reinstalling Windows XP. Boot from your Windows XP disk, and select Repair. Repair will overwrite your existing Windows installation but not destroy your data. After the repair completes, go to Windows Update (requires IE 5 or higher) to re-install all patches. Note that you may also need to reinstall some applications.