Welcome to the 432nd 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!
The iPhone may be Apple's future. But investors will listen attentively
to its past today as Chief Executive Steve Jobs reveals how well the company's
existing products, notably its iPod and MacBook laptops, have been doing.
Apple will report first-quarter earnings, which include holiday sales, after
the market closes. Analysts expect the company to report earnings of 78 cents
per share on $6.42 billion of sales, representing a 20% year-over-year earnings
increase and 12% year-over-year revenue jump. In October, Apple said it expected
to post first-quarter earnings of 70 cents to 73 cents per share on sales
between $6 billion and $6.2 billion.
Ryan Vending, a Victoria-based company that fills and services vending machines
throughout Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, wanted to know whether
its drivers were receiving fair compensation for the hours and kilometres
they logged on their delivery routes. So last fall, the company installed
GPS devices into a portion of their 30-vehicle fleet and saw immediate benefits:
The technology helped the company confirm its pay calculations were fair
Furthermore, Ryan Vending also discovered the technology improved their service-call
response times, saved them money on fuel and stopped employees from abusing
the privilege of taking company trucks home at night.
Called telematics, the technology goes beyond simply providing businesses
with vehicles' locations -- it can also supply data on things like when a
vehicle's doors are open, when engines are turned on or when cargo has been
picked up. What's more, the technology can also enable a business to remotely
control a vehicle by turning off its engine, locking a door or disabling
But the technology does have its drawbacks. For every advocate trumpeting
the benefits of telematics, there is a critic who says tracking workers violates
Retailers are gearing up for next week's Vista launch, but it appears the "midnight
madness" will be kept to a minimum.
CompUSA plans to keep its stores open past midnight on Tuesday, January 30,
so shoppers can get the new operating system as soon as it goes on sale.
Best Buy and Circuit City will each keep a handful of stores open late, but
most of their stores and those of other retailers are planning normal hours.
That's a far cry from the epic August 1995 launch of Windows 95, when Microsoft
managed to get people to line up for blocks to buy its latest release. But
that doesn't mean retailers aren't counting on Vista. While the new operating
system didn't arrive in time for last year's holiday shopping season, retailers
are hoping something special in January might draw buyers at a time that
The Apple Macintosh personal computer is introduced to the world in a now-legendary
TV commercial aired during Super Bowl XVIII.
The 60-second spot featured a female athlete running through a dystopian
landscape inspired by George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, to throw a sledgehammer
at a TV image of Big Brother, meant, in this case, to represent IBM. It ends
with the promise, "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.
And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."
U.S. Remains Dirtiest Spammer, But China Makes More Malware
The United States again led the world as a spam producing, malware hosting
country last year, a security vendor said Monday, but China took top dishonor
as the nation that generated the most malicious code in 2006.
Sophos, which published its annual threat roundup Monday, said U.S.-based
computers were responsible for sending 22% of the year's spam, with China
second at 15.9%, and South Korea third at 7.4%. Nine out of every 10 spam
messages sent worldwide were sent from so-called "zombies," computers
that were hijacked and sent messages without their owners' knowledge.
"On a per-capita basis, the U.S. has a disproportionate number of PCs, and
a disproportionate number of them are unprotected," says Ron O'Brien, senior
security analyst for Sophos.
Lens flare can occur when a bright light source appears in or at the very
edge of a photograph and is often characterized by sun spots appearing throughout
the image. It can also show up in your photographs as low contrast areas in
your image. While the sun spots can sometimes add to your photo, the loss of
contrast associated with flare rarely does.
Lens flare is caused when light enters the lens at such an angle that the
light rays do not completely flow through the lens, but instead are reflected
back and forth between lens elements. The sun spots created typically show
the shape of the diaphragm (aperture blades) the camera was using at the time
the photo was created. A lens with a 5 blade diaphragm will produce sun spots
with 5 sides. The more problematic issue with flare though is the lack of contrast
flare can introduce into a photo.
Lens manufacturers create lens hoods to help minimize lens flare and are made
to fit a particular lens focal length but may not always be sufficient to block
all of the flare. Lens hoods made for zoom lenses do not work as well as those
made for prime (single focal length) lenses as the amount of coverage needed
when zoomed to it's longest focal length often creates a scenario when the
lens is zoomed out to it's shortest focal length, the lens hood itself will
become part of the photo and cause vingnetting. As such, lens hoods are usually
made to work best at the widest setting on the lens and become less effective
the more the lens is zoomed in.
To prevent lens flare it is necessary to shade the lens from the light source.
You can do this using a manufacturer supplied lens hood, your hand, a hat,
a reflector or any other object that can block the light from falling on your
lens. Just be sure that you do not place whatever you use to block the light
so close that is can be seen in your photograph. A good rule of thumb is that
the lens is in shadow, you will eliminate the flare.
The sequence of photos above were all shot with the same settings on the camera
within 3 minutes of each other. The first image shows distinct lens flare with
both the loss of contrast and sun spots easily visible. The second shows a
slight loss of contrast on the upper left side of the bridge structure, but
the reflector I used to block the sunlight is visible in the same corner. The
third image shows a photo properly photographed subject without flare or the
reflector used to block the sun. In order to get the shot, I needed to move
my camera and recompose the photograph. Another alternative is to position
yourself so that an object within your frame blocks the light source partially
or completely, as I have done in this photo below. The sun spots are still
visible, though overall contrast has been only slightly affected. In this instance,
I think the lens flare adds to the photograph.
Lens flare happens to every photographer. It is inevitable. But a little knowledge
up front on what causes it and how to reduce it can ensure you get photographs
you are happy with.
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.
The latest issue of the Windows
Secrets newsletter mentions a handy SendTo extension. When you right-click
on a file, there is a menu item called Send To that has a few options (floppy
disk, desktop as shortcut, etc). If you've used these options, you've probably
wished for more options. This extension gives you those options.
SendTo allows you to copy and move files on your hard disk with just a
few mouse clicks. SendTo also allows you to send files to applications
and to remote FTP servers on the internet.
A link that was recently included in Pirillo's
Picks caught my eye. Animated
Knots by Grog has some great Flash animation/video/slide shows of how
to make various knots. The knots are categorized (boating, climbing, scouts,
etc) for your convenience.
I can't remember how I got there, but the other day I actually ended up
browsing around the Windows Marketplace web
site. Windows Marketplace is one of Microsoft's sites. It is essentially
just a fancy shareware site (there is also hardware) where the software passes
some basics test that it works with Windows. The reason why I bring this
up is because as I browsed around the site, I noticed that there was a lot
of freeware as well. For instance, clicking on the Game Downloads category
and then sorting by price showed that there were several pages of games that
were free. It may be an unfair assumption, but since they are on the Windows
Marketplace site, I would assume that they are a little more reliable/compatible
than other software.
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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