So have you bought a new computer at home for yourself and for your kids? Your computer is sure going to be useful to you and your family. You can now use your computer to store important data, work on reports and much much more. Your children can now surf the internet, play games and learn new tools and software programs. By purchasing a computer you open the world to the big bad world of the internet. Why is the internet a big bad world? The internet can prove to be a big bad world for you if you dont take care to protect your computer from internet threats. In fact the internet is the most comprehensive source of information available at the click of the button today. You can search for diverse topics. You can use the internet to access your bank accounts, to join newsgroups, to entertain yourselves, listen to music and even watch movies. You can even use the internet to speak to people at low costs through VOIP (Voice over Transmission Protocol) all over the world. There are very few boundaries associated with the internet.But, you should be wary of all the threats that the internet can invite to your computer. First of all lets talk a little about computer viruses. A "computer virus" is a software program written by a person which can prove to be a threat to the security of your computer. It gains access to your computer through programs downloaded from the internet and even from seemingly harmless emails. It can delete all your important files after it loads itself on the system or it can just make your hard disk unusable. It can disable your important device drivers and can do hundreds of other damaging things to your computer. The software program (or computer virus) spreads rapidly through the internet and can invade thousands of computers a minute.The best solution against virus invasion is the installation of good antivirus software. Norton Antivirus by Symantec proves to be one of the better paid antivirus solutions. It provides tight security in comparison to some of the other antivirus softwares and also updates itself regularly. The other important software you can use to protect your computer is installing a firewall. A firewall restricts unauthorized access to your computer by people on the internet who are constantly on the lookout for open ports on computers. In addition, if you use the internet to make purchases with your credit card, make sure you are using a trusted and secure site. Secured sites conduct financial transactions using secure software like Verisign so that your private information cannot be viewed by unauthorized people.When using services or programs that use passwords, always use passwords that are difficult to guess by others. Do not ever open unauthorized emails as they might be harmful to your computer. Unauthorized or unsolicited mails are the most common path to spreads a virus through the internet.When you visit some sites, a spyware program maybe installed on your computer automatically by those sites. A spyware program is a program that collects all information on your computer including private information that can then be made known to unauthorized people. Using an anti-spyware program like Spyware Blocker or Ad-Aware comes in handy. These programs work to prevent spyware from automatically installing on your computer in the first place. You must also delete your cookies regularly. A cookie is a small file that is automatically installed on your computer and it accesses the information on your computer including the web sites that you have visited and sends all information back to people who need access to that information.If you use a little care, you can provide some protection to you and your computer. However, the only way to completely eliminate any threats is not to go online in the first place. I dont think that is a viable option in todays world. Good luck!
The word Tweaking simply means to fine tune.You want to fine tune your computer so that it will boot up faster.Tweaking your computer so that it will run at peek performance will cause you to enjoy your computer like you never imaged.There are procedures you can perform that will speed up the operating system boot-up.When tweaking your startup process,take care not to allow your computer to boot up too fast.Too fast booting will cause your PC to miss valuable data and not check all peripherals it needs to allow the computer to run at its best.Speeding up your booting process will reduce the waiting time you can use the computer.Here are some procedures you can perform that will help speed up your PC startup.Be sure to backup your hard drive in case you should make an error.Take your time and perform these tasks at your own risk.Take notes of everything you do.Backup your BIOS with such utilities as Cmos14.zip.This file is just 5,569kbs zipped and You can download a copy from our site at the url www.ultimatepcrepair.com/files/cmos14.zipFIRST....Use Scandisk and Defragment on your hard drive if you are not performing these two maintenance steps regularly.Over time,your files become scattered all over your hard drive.This causes the computer to hunt for every piece of file fragments throughout the drive.SECOND.....Clean Up Your Registry.The installing and uninstalling of applications cause your registry to have many files it does not use.Your system slows down at startup because these files are loaded into memory every time the PC is started.Registry Healer which is a trial ultility will scan your registry for problems.And Registry Tuner allow you to view and remove unwanted software in your registry.Windows Reg Edit is a small ultility within Windows that will perform the same function. You may want to give Registry First Aid a try as well.Visit the online version of this newsletter at http://www.ultimatepcrepair.com/news/35.html to download the trial versions of the above utilities.THIRD.......Edit Your SysEdit Configuration by Clicking on Start,Run,and then type "sysedit" in the open block. You will be presented with your system files.Check and remove any files you know are not needed.You can type "REM" at the start of a line to disable it to see if your computer has need for it.Take notes of any changes you make so that you can undo what you did should any problems arise.The ultility Bootvis is a good Windows XP ultilty that helps your boot process,We used it on our Windows Home XP computer and we noticed a difference.To learn much more visit www.microsoft.com/hwdev/platform/performance/fastboot /BootVis.asp and download your copy.FOURTH....Remove unwanted programs that may be starting up in your Startup Folder.This folder as well as your Sysedit file may have programs slowing the PC down. Click on Start,Settings,Taskbar and Start Menu Tab, Start Menu Programs,Remove,and go down to the Startup Folder.There you can expand and remove any unwanted programs.FIFTH.....Go to Start,Run,type "msconfig" in the open box and press enter.Click on Startup and here you can remove programs here as well.The thing to remember is to take notes of any program you remove just in case you find that program useful after all.Be sure to take the time and backup your system files so that you can restore these files should something go wrong.Take notes of files you remove from Sysedit or msconfig.SIXTH....Enable your Quick Boot option in your BIOS.Access your Bios and locate this feature that bypasses some of the checks your computer makes at POST.The downside to enabling this feature is that it increases the chances of a hardware failure going undetected.You may want to use this feature from time to time and see if the difference in bootup speed is worth it.We hate it when our computer creep alone when we turn on the power button,when we play our favorite Hi-Resolution star wars game,or when we decided to go on the internet,that is,if it doesn't take a couple minutes to logon.Upgrading and tweaking your PC to run faster can be performed quick and easy,if we put to use the neat utilities Windows as well as many third party software has to offer.
Yesterday I was talking about secrets hiding and cryptography. A friend of mine said he was able to crack any Word document in one day as a maximum. He said it was not a problem of password complexity: he knew how to strip Word protection away. As a proof, he took an old Word document and he was actually able to crack it in a few minutes.I said he was only lucky and that I was ready to bet a non trivial sum of money that he would not be able to crack a Word document encrypted by me. He laughed out loud, he said I just wanted to lose money... but he did not accept my bet.Then I sent the Word document encrypted by me to him anyway: he is still trying to crack it (a week is already passed... but I think the encryption will stand against his attacks for ten/fifteen years).I told you this little story as a metaphor of how things really go when talking about encryption: it is almost always a matter of process, and not tools.Word has an excellent encryption system, although it is limited by US key length limitation: if you just know how to do it, you can super-encrypt a Word document, and be sure that no-one (except, perhaps, CIA) will succeed in cracking it. The problem is that it is not easy to encrypt a Word document well: you must know a thing or two before doing it. Just pressing "Protect this document with a password" does not work (and makes people like my friend boast himself!)The story has morale: market lack of tools that make serious encryption easily. Thats one of encryption software house missions: to produce easy to use, but serious encryption tools (such as Folder Crypt).Secondarily, that it is often heard of people cracking programs, software barriers, ciphered documents and this makes the casual Internet user think that no real security is possible on Internet. Again, this happens because encryption processes and policies are often weak, when not at all bugged.On the contrary, data encrypted following secure processes and using encryption standard tools remain secret.Oh, by the way: to safely encrypt a Word document just follow these steps:1. Start Word. 2. Select File | Save as. 3. Select the Tools extended menu option. 4. Select Security Options from the drop-down list. 5. Click the Advanced button. 6. From the Encryption Type dialog, copy the name of the encryption type name and encryption algorithm from the Choose an encryption type list. 7. RC4, Microsoft enhanced RSA and AES Cryptographic provider8. Set maximum key length to 128
Many computer users adopt the it will never happen to me policy, but there are a number of computer viruses out there just waiting to infect and destroy the information contained on their hard-drive. This is why companies invented anti-virus software, which is a program that automatically helps to detect the presence of viruses on a computer or in a file before it is opened. Anyone who spends a considerable amount of time surfing the internet, visiting unfamiliar websites or downloading photographs is at a higher risk for computer viruses than those who do not. Computer viruses are typically attached to word processing documents, computer programs and images which, if downloaded, may instantly affect the computers performance.If a computer virus infects a computer, the owner may immediately lose everything in their computer and may be forced to use the factory restore disk. This CD, which is accompanied by most new computers, will restore the computer to its original factory settings.Anti-virus software is quite affordable considering its wealth of use. Without it, computer users are at constant risk for computer viruses. Anti-virus software can generally be found at any computer manufacturers website, retail stores electronic department or online at many retailers selling computers. Anyone who suspects that their computer may be infected with a virus should refrain from sending any e-mail messages or uploading photos to family or friends. Otherwise, the virus may spread to infect their computers as well.Anti-virus software is available most commonly on a CD-Rom, but may also be downloaded from some manufacturers. By double clicking on the software, the anti-virus program will begin to perform a scan of your entire computer. As it progresses, it will give you an update on any potential located viruses or files that may be of concern. In addition, some anti-virus software will allow users to scan a single file before opening it. For example, if a computer user were to download an image but wanted to run a virus scan on it prior to opening the file, he/she could click on the anti-virus software and direct it toward the file in question. The anti-virus program would scan the file for potential viruses and will post the results immediately on the computer screen. This will allow the computer user to know which files are safe and which are not. In todays world, anti-virus software is to computers as Tylenol is to headaches. Its both a preventative approach and a cure for certain ailments affecting a computer. If a user does not have anti-virus software pre-installed into their computer, it is recommended that they purchase a program immediately before logging on to the internet.
Upon first digging into Adobe Photoshop CS3, a few features have really popped out at me as incredibly useful. I would like to offer a brief overview of some of these new ways of attacking your creative challenges using the latest version of Adobe's flagship app. PsCS3 will run you about $649 to buy it outright if you do not own any previous versions. If you own Photoshop 7, CS, or CS2, you are eligible for upgrade pricing - looks like $199 for the upgrade. Check Adobe's store on their website for more info. For more information about what comes in the different versions of CS3, and what your suite configuration options are, see my previous post.My current favorite five new PsCS3 features in order are:1. Nondestructive Smart Filters2. Quick Selection Tool & Refine Edge3. Photomerge with advanced alignment and blending4. Automatic layer alignment and blending5. Vanishing Point with adjustable angleFeature Overviews:* Nondestructive Smart FiltersAdobe has finally given us non-linear, nondestructive filters. Can I just say "HOORAY!" In the past, you applied filters and effects in a linear order: one filter would alter your image, and the second filter would alter your now altered image, and a third filter would alter the altered altered image. The problem with that workflow is that if you decide you want to slightly tweak the second filter, you'd have to either undo back to that point (losing your subsequent edits), or use the history palette to step directly "back in time" to the point before you added the second filter, add your "revised" second filter and then add your third manually. All too often, you don't quite remember what exact parameters you had set on that third one - or worse, your real world project involved applying 20 filters instead of the 3 in my example and changing the second filter would mean redoing the 18 that follow it. What a drag. Because of this issue, people developed many work arounds (often involving saving off multiple "partially completed" versions of files all over your hard drive with iterative file names, hoping that if you needed to go back to a certain point in time you'd be able to figure out where you needed to be), and while these workarounds were clever and well-conceived in many cases, there was a perfect, real solution, waiting to happen.The real solution to all this is what we have been given in CS3: Nondestructive Smart Filters. In this new version, each filter and effect that you apply to a layer, remains live and continually re-editable, in real time, and the parameters that you adjust will all cascade down through whatever subsequent filters or effects you might have added to your layer. These are savable, movable, copy and pastable, and most importantly scalable.* Quick Selection tool & Refine EdgeA design mentor of mine once told me "Photoshop is all about the selection. You select something, and then you do something with the selection. Nothing more, nothing less. Remember that, and you'll never go wrong using this app." Almost 10 years later, I must say she was absolutely correct. Using Photoshop is all about "the selection." There are more tools in Photoshop for selecting than for any other single task.As in just about every version of Photoshop that has ever been released, CS3 has made even greater strides in the area of "making your selection" than comes to memory in recent years. The new Quick Selection Tool used in combination with the Refine Edge palette is about the most helpful and clean way of selecting the edges of an object in your image that I have ever seen. This new revised Quick Selection tool is so smooth. You basically set the parameters of your Quick Selection tool - as if it were a brush - and paint the general area of your image edges (like trying to select just a kid and his soccer ball out of the photo of the big game) and Photoshop is watching what you do, and interpreting what you consider to be the general edges of what you are wanting to select and it figures out what's kid and ball and what's grass and goal posts and sky and crowd and selects just what you want it to. It's VERY fast and clean. Then, you can invoke the Refine Edge palette, and you have seemingly infinite control over exactly how the edges of that selection behave. Check out the palette to the right to get an idea of what you could do to "refine" that edge. With radius, feathering, smoothing, and various display settings, I believe this new combo will cut down on my masking and selecting time in a quantifiable way.* Photomerge with advanced alignment and blendingEver tried to stitch together a series of images that you took, that you intended to "put together" into a panorama? Even with some of the stand alone tools that have been available over the yearseven those for doing quicktime VR'sare clunky and difficult to use - with mixed results at times. I have always wanted something built into Photoshop to let me do these "photo merges" - I never expected that Photoshop would actually be able to automatically do it for me. This feature floored me. The technologies involved in my number four choice "Automatic layer alignment and blending" are at work here in this feature as well, and the new auto layer alignment features in CS3 are far-reaching and crop up again and again in different areas of the application. It's really one of the revolutionary things about this new version.All of the things that have made making panoramas a difficult task in the past are all done automatically. The primary among these being 1. those times when you have to actually distort, rotate, skew or transform one of your elements because the perspective is screwy, 2. those times when the sun or lighting or a window made the white balance, color space or over all wash of brightness and contrast different from one image to the next (especially when doing 360's) and of course 3. actually finding and aligning those overlapping areas of consecutive elements. Photoshop CS3 does these all for you and with surprisingly amazing results. It's not just about the typical "panorama" either... I saw a demo of someone standing "too close" to a building, and taking pictures zoomed all the way out, of the front door, windows and window-boxes, front brick walk way, tilting upward and taking a picture of the balcony and roof line of the second floor - in other words, many elements that were WAY out of whack in terms of perspective, lighting and color space, and these 4 or 5 images were distorted, tweaked, rotated, matched, blended, lighting and color density matched... and I was amazed in like 5 seconds, there was this "wide angle" almost "fisheye" photomerge of the front of the building, from brick walkway to roof-line, and it looked incredible.* Automatic layer alignment and blendingAnother powerful application of this new alignment and blending technology is with a series or stack of images of the same subject. Let's say you wanted to take a picture of a statue in a park somewhere, or a huge fountain, or the front of a monument or building. There are always people walking through the frame - if you can't close down the area and still need a picture of the statue, in the park, in it's beautiful setting, but with no people or birds or random elements - what are you to do? In the past, it was a painstaking process of shooting a bunch of images, selecting the "closest" one to your vision of a nice, clean, tourist-less frame, and begin the hours and hours of painting, cloning, healing, brushing etc., to remove all of your "randoms." There are artists who are very good at this process, but I'm fairly certain they would agree that if there was a way to not have to spend all that time, they'd take it. Well, it's here. Photoshop CS3 can take your stack of images and by analyzing all of them, figure out which things are permanent (things that appear in all the images like that building in the distance, the big tree, the sidewalk, and which parts of the image are obscured in one of the frames but not all of them, are healed automatically by borrowing pixels from other images in the stack and building an advanced composite of all the images and doing 90% or more of the work for you. There's even a set of "fuzziness" sliders letting you say "eleminate things that are in X% of the images in the stack or less." This is so impressive to see in action. You have to try it on some of your own images. It's really hard to believe that it's this easy to do this sort of process now. This is one of those new areas that I'm sure we'll see artists finding incredibly creative ways to utilize this feature. Again, this one floored me when I first saw it.* Vanishing Point with adjustable angleOne of the most powerful new features of Adobe CS2 was the vanishing point feature. One limitation it had was that you only had one set of right angles to work with in the vanishing point interface. Adobe took it one exponential step further by adding multiple, adjustable angle perspective planes to this vanishing point feature. What this enables you to do is copy, paste and clone in far more complex image planes than just the "clone parts of a building in perspective" job that the first iteration of this feature offered (impressive and powerful, but not very flexible). One of the big examples Adobe is pushing with this feature is to simulate 3D packaging and work on multiple planes at various angles in the same image. Like an open box for a new product, or even for experimenting with your final package art by seeing it in its real-world context. Again I think this feature has so many far reaching implications for inventors, prototypers, 3D modelers, visual effects artists... and can give Photoshop artists the ability to render full blown mockups of product packaging art for clients in a whole new way - getting us to sign-off, green-light and on to the next project at hand much more quickly. I like that a lot.There are numerous new features in the application, especially when you dig down deep into the Photoshop Extended editions (sounds like a Peter Jackson DVD...) and as the week progresses here, I'd like to look into some of what PsCS3 Extended has to offer. The versions of PsCS3 that are available are the Film & Video, Medical & Science, AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction), and Manufacturing editions.