Archive for March, 2011

Handy Shortcuts

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis March 29th, 2011

In Windows there are a several ways to do almost everything, like cut, copy and paste for example.  Here’s a handy list of the HOTKEYS I use most:

  • ALT+TAB: Switch between open programs
  • ALT+F4: Quit program
  • CTRL+C: Copy
  • CTRL+X: Cut
  • CTRL+V: Paste

You’ll be amazed how much time you can save with these, once you start using them.

Virus Alert

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis March 28th, 2011

Ok, so another downloader trojan (a variant of Win32/ TrojanDownloader.Stohil.J) is circulating in an Email that’s titled UNITED PARCEL SERVICE NOTIFICATION.  Don’t open it or they’ll release other, more malicious software onto your machine.  It’s basically good practice to avoid all bank, package, pay-pal, and IRS warnings that come in email, because they are most likely fake (at best) and could possibly trash your PC.

Growing pains

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis March 24th, 2011

The Internet is suffering in many ways, and they all stem from explosive growth.  Commercialism is ramped, and schemes/scams are everywhere, mostly for money, but some for power and politics.  Web founders cringe at what has become a free-for-all wild west of hacking, exploits and downright theft.  No one predicted the popularity of this tool, and that has led to some of the issues – like a recent article by CNET that shows how certificates have gotten completely out of hand.  Across the planet, Universities mourn the days when the Web was a useful tool, and they’ve done something about it.  Enter the Internet II, a global higher ed. project to rebuild and set new standards for a world wide network.  I hope that it stays in the control of its founders, and flourishes.

DLNA

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis March 23rd, 2011

DLNA is the Digital Living Network Alliance.  It’s an effort by a lot of the top technology companies to standardize linking your toys (and tools).  From the cable companies to the big PC makers, they all know that people want choices, but they just want their stuff to WORK, and play together.  DLNA has set up standards for your gizmos to all work together, so that you can play your music library at home while driving in your car, for example.  Note that it’s an effort to keep not just you, the consumers happy, but also the media companies.  So of course there’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) involved.  It’s a cool idea, if it works.  Some powerful players are on board (e.g. Microsoft) so it might.  They’ve recently expanded their standards to mobile devices, bluetooth, and long list of others.  Keep your eye out for products with the DLNA label.  Click here to see the list of companies.

Another Hoax – Tesla

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis March 19th, 2011

Ok, here’s a fine example of the Internet Flooding type hoaxes I mentioned;  I just ran across a Facebook ad that claimed Tesla (a scientist) left behind secret papers that uncover a SECRET SOURCE of POWER generation.  Being a physicist at heart, I had to investigate.  When I Google’d it, the first 5 pages of results were all posted by this same company trying to sell a book of plans.  It’s all nonsense:  the technology has been around for years, and it’s far more efficient to grab sunlight or wind power if you need a boost.  If the silly contraption even works, it’s likely stealing power (probably your own!).  Note that the power company will CUT YOU OFF, and possibly have you arrested, for placing induction coils on someone else’s lines! 

VIRUS ALERT

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis March 17th, 2011

Ok, this one is spreading fast:  There’s a new attack that calls itself BEST MALWARE PROTECTION and it’s dangerous.  Once again, tries to get your credit card info, ALSO REMOVES ALL SECURITY and PROTECTION.  Not sure the source yet, but all the PC’s I’ve cleaned up so far had AVG FREE antivirus.  Even Malwarebytes AntiMalware is having trouble removing it all.  Watch out for this one, and remember CTRL-ALT-DEL is your friend in these battles.

Power

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis March 16th, 2011

The power in your PC is supplied by a box that turns AC into DC.  It delivers 5 and 12 volt power all over the computer; your hard drives, motherboard, video, EVERYTHING.  Most PC makers skimp on this little device, and give you a wimpy little 250-350 Watt supply.  It’s fine as long as you don’t upgrade or add anything to your system, but the minute you do LOOK OUT.  Under-powered systems can have the WEIRDEST, most BIZARRRE symptoms of any other issue on a computer.  If you buy a high end video card to play games with, plan on shelling out another $50-90 for a 6-700 Watt supply.  It’s a good investment that will guarantee no flaky behavior from power shortages.

Win 7 action center

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis March 12th, 2011

The Action Center in Windows 7 was a much needed improvement.  It gives you a central place to review any problems on your PC, and all the settings like Control Panel.  The easy way to get to it is the little white flag in your bottom right system tray, by the clock.  It notifies you if you need to back up, or update virus protection, and many other things.  To me, the best part is Error Reporting.  Microsoft (MS) tried to implement this idea waaay back in Windows XP, but it didn’t work.  Finally, in this version, if your PC locks up or crashes for some reason, you can opt to tell MS about it, AND THEY ACTUALLY LISTEN.  Keep watching the action center – eventually you’ll get a message in there about how to Solve Problems.  In that section will be an ANSWER TO YOUR ISSUE!  Sometimes it’s bad news; they simply don’t know or don’t have enough information.  But lots of times it will have the correct solution, with links to help you fix it!  Kudos to MS.  :-)

Analog vs Digital

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis March 9th, 2011

Analog vs Digital: you don’t hear this comparison much any more, since almost everything has gone DIGITAL, but it’s still important to know sometimes.  See, the way most things are recorded is some sort of analog method – the details follow some curve like sound waves, light intensity, etc.  But anything DIGITAL has to be recorded in 1’s and zero’s.  Think of trying to match a curve with a bar graph.  It’s certainly do-able, but how close you match depends on how skinny you make the bars.  If you slice them up finely enough, you can get close to an exact match.  In video, this is the RESOLUTION of the picture.  Bad resolution gives you that blocky look.  In sound it’s the BITRATE, and if it’s too low you start hearing weird things.  In any case, you lose information every time you convert from one to the other, so it’s a good idea to only do it once, and make sure you get enough detail to mimick reality.  One place this is important is video playback, and that’s why it’s best to keep everything digital in your system hookups if possible.

WIN7 Media Center (WMC) VI

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis March 7th, 2011

AUDIO: The connections for a Media Center PC should be to your home theatre amplifier.  Your best bets are SPDIF, or digital output, via old-style RCA jacks (you’ll need a special mini-din to RCA cable) or TOSLINK, which is an optical connector.  Although the fiber optic SPDIF cables can be expensive, I really like ’em because they don’t get any interference – EVER.   No worries about weird interference/noise from these babies.  Optical means no antennae effect.  Another option is the new HDMI connect:  for the first time you can get your audio and video on one connection!  I’ll talk more about video later, but be warned that this connector may not properly transport your audio from the PC.  It will depend on your make, model, and setup.  If you use the other digital connectors I mentioned, just go to the audio configuration page and choose Digital Output – SPDIF as the source.   The result is high quality, Dolby Digital sound that will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF!  The advantage to these three I’ve mentioned?  They are all TRUE DIGITAL which means you never convert back and forth, and lose quality.   I’ll write more later about Digital vs Analog.