Welcome to the 425th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly
of news 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 finally completed the Partition Manager 8.0 Professional review. You can
preview it and find links in the Tips and Other Stuff section
Well, December is finally here, and with it came the snow! We've had a few
inches fall a couple of days ago and it actually stayed until today when it
warmed up a bit. I'm generally not a big fan of winter, but nothing beats the
combination of snow and lights around Christmas.
Hammers and nails are gathering dust in the elves' workshop this season.
That's because two hot gifts--PlayStation 3 and Tickle Me Extreme Elmo--are
almost entirely dependent on software inside. These new toys are just the
latest evidence that software platforms have become one of the most important
economic and technological developments of the early 21st century. They
are the invisible engines behind not just toys, but the businesses of the
When computer industry executives heard about a plan to build a $100 laptop
for the developing world's children, they generally ridiculed the idea. How
could you build such a computer, they asked, when screens alone cost about
Mary Lou Jepsen, the chief technologist for the project, likes to refer to
the insight that transformed the machine from utopian dream to working prototype
as "a really wacky idea."
Ms. Jepsen, a former Intel chip designer, found a way to modify conventional
laptop displays, cutting the screen's manufacturing cost to $40 while reducing
its power consumption by more than 80 percent. As a bonus, the display is
clearly visible in sunlight.
That advance and others have allowed the nonprofit project, One Laptop Per
Child, to win over many skeptics over the last two and a half years.
Growing use of the web is stripping people of their personal privacy, warns
a UN agency report.
The number of passwords and logins web users need makes it inevitable they
will re-use phrases, warned the International Telecommunications Union.
Re-using these identifiers puts people at serious risk of falling victim
to identity theft, said the ITU report.
It called on regulators and businesses to find better ways for people to
identify themselves to websites.
Hearing from a lot of new friends lately? You know, the ones that write "It's
me, Esmeralda," and tip you off to an obscure stock that is "poised
to explode" or a great deal on prescription drugs.
You're not the only one. Spam is back - in e-mail in-boxes and on everyone's
minds. In the last six months, the problem has gotten measurably worse. Worldwide
spam volumes have doubled from last year, according to Ironport, a spam filtering
firm, and unsolicited junk mail now accounts for more than 9 of every 10
e-mail messages sent over the Internet.
Show Texture in Your Photographs - Digital Photography Tip of
Showing texture in photographs is not that difficult when you know how to
capture it. Photographs are a two dimensional medium, so to show texture, we
need to light our subject in such a way that we present the illusion of depth
in the image.
To maximize texture in a photograph, side lighting is key. That is the direction
of light comes across the face of the subject from one side to the other. This
directional light will highlight the ridges of the texture and cast shadows
into the valleys. These highlights and shadows are what is needed to emphasize
texture in your photograph. On the other hand, front lighting is very flat
and can be used to minimize texture in a photograph.
Below is an example comparing side lighting against front lighting. This is
a 100% crop from two photographs taken from the same location, with the camera
setup on a tripod. The only difference between the two is the lighting used
to illuminate the wall I used as a subject. This is obviously an extreme example,
but it illustrates the point well.
The first image is shot using frontlighting. As you can see, frontlighting
illuminates the wall evenly and shows very few ridges or depressions in the
wall, while side lighting emphasizes the ridges and depressions.
To use this in your photography, when you want to emphasize texture in your
subject, turn it to so that the light falls across your subject. If you want
to minimize texture in your photograph, turn your subject into the light. A
word of caution though, if your subject is a person, apart from removing any
modeling (sculpting of the face through the use of light) turning them into
the light may cause them to squint.
Knowing how to properly light your photos to achieve the look you want will
help you create stronger, more dynamic photographs.
Next week I review the ExpoDisc white balance filter for more accurate colour
rendition in your 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
When a product has been around for many different versions, it is often
hard for the programmers to come up with enough new features to make the
upgrades worthwhile. I've reviewed several Paragon
Software Group products in the past, and have always been impressed
with them, but I wondered how the new Paragon
Partition Manager 8 could be any better than the last version. I was
quite impressed by Partition
Manager 7 and still use the recover CD whenever I need to do some tweaking.
After using Partition
Manager 8 for a while, and testing both the installed version as well
as the recovery CD, I can say that it is definitely a worthy upgrade.
Our printer at church died the other day and we won't have a replacement
for a time. A piece of software that we use has to print reports before moving
on to other functions. Someone suggested we download a PDF writer so that
we could at least print the information to file. I assumed that he was going
to download PDF995, but he downloaded and installed PDFCreator by pdfforge.
I had never heard of it before, but it seems to be an excellent tool.
For those who aren't familiar with this sort of software, a PDF writer is
software that acts as a printer. If you have a web page open, instead of
printing it to the printer, you would print it to a file, in this case, a
PDF. PDFCreator has a lot of
options, and in my brief time using it I haven't experienced any errors.
You should definitely check it out!
QuickThumbnail is an extremely
pared-down online service offering the ability to upload an image and resize,
then download the resulting file. Uploaded photos and their resulting copies
are kept on the server for only 10 minutes as a security precaution. Resizing
options include resizing based on a percentage of the original image's
size, using one of a set of fixed sizes, or resizing my a set of "standard" sizes,
for example 100x75 for an avatar, or 468x60 for a web banner.
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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