Welcome to the 489th 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!
Lisa called me up today unusually excited. She had heard on the radio that
McDonald's was bringing back their shamrock
shakes for the first time in 5 years. We always have a family night on
Friday, and she said she knows what "treat" she's getting.
Even with the extra day, I can't believe that February is almost over. Our
wedding anniversary is coming up, and Spring is on the way!
It can stop you from voting, destroy your dental appointments, make it difficult
to rent a car or book a flight, even interfere with your college exams.
More than 50 years into the Information Age, computers are still getting
confused by the apostrophe. It's a problem familiar to O'Connors, D'Angelos,
N'Dours and D'Artagnans across America.
Sometimes, a photo is simply too good to be true. Tiny details in an image,
for instance, may be too similar to have occurred naturally, suggesting a
cut-and-paste maneuver. Or the color patterns may be too "normal" -
beyond the limitations of sensors on digital cameras.
A growing number of researchers and companies are looking for such signs
of tampering in hopes of restoring credibility to photographs at a time when
the name of a popular program for manipulating digital images has become
a verb, Photoshopping.
Judge makes 'Vista Capable' lawsuit a class-action affair
A federal judge in Seattle last week granted class-action status to a lawsuit
that claimed Microsoft Corp. duped consumers when it promoted PCs as "Vista
Capable" in the run up to the 2006 holidays.
The original lawsuit was filed almost a year ago by Washington state resident
Diane Kelley, who charged Microsoft with deceptive practices in letting PC
makers slap a "Vista Capable" sticker on PCs when "a large
number" of the machines could run only Vista Home Basic, the entry-level
version of the operating system. Kelley was later joined by a Californian
Kenneth Hansen; together, they requested class-action status for the lawsuit
With its massive, daily interplay of ideas and information, the Internet
always seemed overdue for a pitched battle over free speech. That fight may
have arrived. Its combatants are an unlikely duo: the Cayman Islands branch
of a Swiss bank, and a shadowy whistle-blowing Web site dedicated to exposing
what it believes to be corporate and government fraud. And, even though both
sides have little prominence, their legal warfare is already casting a deep
shadow on what kinds of content have constitutional and legal protection
online - and what can get you in a lot trouble.
For most people, it is natural when they bring the camera up to one eye, to
close the other. In most situations where you may be taking a photograph, this
works just fine. There are situations however where you may find it advantageous
to keep both eyes open.
When photographing a subject where you are waiting for an event to occur,
such as a baseball player about to hit the ball, there is a definite advantage
to using both your eyes. Once you image is composed within your viewfinder,
open your second eye. Through some practice, you will be able to see both what
you have framed in your camera and also, through your other eye, what is happening
outside your camera. In this case you might be able to see the pitcher wind
up and release the pitch.
Keeping both eyes open can help prepare you to capture the best image you
I have mentioned in the past that I am a member of the Niagara
Falls Camera Club, which in turn is a member club of the Niagara
Frontier Regional Camera Clubs (NFRCC). The NFRCC holds an annual convention
that is open to the public. This year we will be meeting the weekend of April
11, 12 and 13. If you live or will be in Western New York that week end,
it is a great opportunity to hear some excellent speakers talk about photography.
Our keynote speaker this year is George
Lepp who is a wonderful nature photographer and a pioneer of digital
photography. For more information visit http://www.nfrcc.org/convention.php
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.
There are plenty of applications that help you rip DVDs to your computer.
But for the most part, you need to click through a series of long and tedious
menus. DVD Rip provides a one click DVD archiving solution, no headaches
Rip DVD was put together by the folks at productivity blog Lifehacker.
It's designed to work with the popular DVD archiving application DVD Shrink.
In order for Rip DVD to work, you'll need to install DVD Shrink. But if
you don't already have it, don't worry. DVD Rip includes a download link.
So what exactly does DVD Rip do? Basically, it answers all those tricky
questions that DVD Shrink asks which you may or may not have good answers
for. So all you have to do is insert a DVD in your drive, click the executable
file, and wait a few hours until your disc is ripped.
Check out the posting as well as the comments at Download Squad, as some
people have other suggestions.
ZDNet has a couple of postings about how to delete a hard drive (see "How
to REALLY erase a hard drive" and "How
to REALLY erase a hard drive - Update"). There is lots of talk
about how best to delete the data on a hard drive so it is unrecoverable.
You may want to give a hard drive away to a friend or another good cause,
but you don't want anyone to retrieve the sensitive data that may have
been on the hard drive.
Here is how the Storage Bits blog describes it:
Something called Secure Erase, a set of commands embedded in most ATA
drives built since 2001. If this is so wonderful, why haven't you heard
of it before? Because it's been disabled by most motherboard BIOSes.
Secure Erase is a loaded gun aimed right at all your data. And Murphy's
Law is still in force. But hey, if you're smart enough to read Storage
Bits, you're smart enough to not play with Secure Erase until you need
How does Secure Erase work?
Secure Erase overwrites every single track on the hard drive. That includes
the data on "bad blocks", the data left at the end of partly
overwritten blocks, directories, everything. There is no data recovery
from Secure Erase.
I had never heard of this, but it sure sounds interesting. If you are going
to be giving away a hard drive, it would be a good idea to read these postings
and try the software mentioned.
If you are a fan of fonts, then you should check out MyFonts:
MyFonts is your complete online
source for finding, trying, and buying fonts. Purchased fonts are available
for immediate download. With 58,938 fonts on one easy-to-use web site and
the best search tools in the business, MyFonts is sure to help you find
the perfect font! MyFonts has sold
If you find just the perfect font, then it is worth buying. If you are looking
for free fonts, then you can still visit MyFonts.
In the search field, search for the word free and you'll find hundreds available.
Another neat feature of the site is WhatTheFont?! You can upload a sample
of a font, and they will try to tell you what font it is.
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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