Welcome to the 495th 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!
I finally splurged and bought a new laptop. I got a nice Dell Inspiron 1515.
The boys love logging into their Webkinz accounts and playing. Unfortunately
someone put a sticker on the computer (don't worry... it came off easily),
but neither will admit it. Sigh!
The weather recently has been amazing. I've mentioned before that I work in
Niagara Falls, and each day I go for a walk. Along the Niagara Parkway (the
stretch of road and parkland that follows the Niagara River both above and
below the falls) each Spring there are flowers. A couple of weeks ago I saw
shoots coming up. It's a beautiful time of year!
Tired of hearing other people's cellphone conversations? It may become worse.
Soon you may have to watch their favorite television shows and YouTube videos,
too, as they project them onto nearby walls or commuter-train seatbacks.
Pint-size digital projectors are in the works. These devices, when plugged
into cellphones and portable media players, will let consumers beam video
content from their hand-held devices to the closest smooth surface - entertaining
themselves, annoying their neighbors and possibly contributing to a new warning
sign: No Projectors in This Area. The microprojectors, still in prototype,
use light-emitting diodes, lasers or a combination of the two to cast a display
of up to 50 or 60 inches, or perhaps even wider, in darkened spaces and 7
to 20 inches or so when there is ambient light.
By 2020 the terms "interface" and "user" will be obsolete
as computers merge ever closer with humans.
It is one prediction in a Microsoft-backed report drawn from the discussions
of 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology.
It predicts fundamental changes in the field of so-called Human-Computer
By 2020 humans will increasingly interrogate machines, the report said.
The biggest record store in the U.S. isn't a record store at all, it's Apple
Thursday, the computer giant announced that after just five years in the
market, its online music store has blown past Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to become
the largest retailer of music in the U.S.
As Apple's dominion over the industry grows and CD sales continue to plummet,
it becomes increasingly apparent that consumers are gravitating toward digital
music and that the former heavyweight champions of the retail game - big-box
stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target - will not be the next challengers
to contend for the title.
The thousands of Navajo Nation residents who rely on the Internet to work,
study and communicate across their 27,000-square-mile reservation will be
out of luck Monday, if their service provider shuts access as planned.
"It's going to be a sad day," said Ernest Franklin, director of the
tribe's Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.
Bounce Flash - Digital Photography Tip of the Week
Photographing people indoors often requires the use of flash for added light.
Direct, on camera flash however often results in multiple problems, red eye,
washed out or overexposed subjects and of course, harsh, unflattering light.
If you use the flash built in to your camera, you don't have many options.
However, if you use an external flash you can change the small, direct light
source of your flash head to a large diffuse source by bouncing the flash off
of the ceiling.
Most external flash units sold today have heads that swivel and tilt for directing
the flash. Directing the flash at the ceiling makes the ceiling your lights
source. In my tip Quality
of Light and the Size of Your Light Source I talked about how the the size
of your light source affects the quality of light, larger generally being considered
better. In this case, the light reflecting off of the ceiling is significantly
larger than your flash head. The resulting light on your subject is softer,
shadows are not as harsh and the lighting is more even throughout the subject
To effectively use bounce flash, you need a ceiling that is not too high.
The higher the ceiling, the higher the light loss (refer back to my tip on flash
to subject distance). If the ceiling is textured your light will be more
diffuse than if it is not. Bouncing your flash off of a coloured ceiling will
introduce that colour into your photo so using this technique with white ceilings
works best, however, ceilings with a slight warm tint may add a nice warm tone
to your image. Your flash should be directed at about 45 degrees to the ceiling
though the distance to your subject will determine the actual angle you may
Finally, use your histogram or image review on your camera. If you find your
images are a little dark your flash may not have enough power to effectively
bounce off the ceiling though you can increase your ISO to negate that effect.
The two photos below are images of my niece. The photo on the left was shot
direct with flash. The flash was mounted on a bracket above the camera to help
eliminate red eye and direct any shadows down and behind her. As you can see,
the lighting is flat and unflattering. The image on the right was shot with
the same set up but with the flash pointed toward the ceiling at about a 45
degree angle. As you can see the shadows are softer, skin tones are more appealing
and she has gained a little bit of warmth compared to the first shot.
Being able to control your light is one of the basic steps to better photography.
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.
I heard about Recuva a couple of months
ago on the Kim Komando show. I bookmarked
it, and finally got around to checking it out. It is a file recover utility.
Recuva (pronounced "recover") is a freeware Windows utility
to restore files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer.
This includes files emptied from the Recycle bin as well as images and
other files that have been deleted by user error from digital camera memory
cards or MP3 players. It will even bring back files that have been deleted
by bugs, crashes and viruses!
I've tried it out and it is very easy to use. It scans the drive that you
specify and then shows you a list of files that have been previously deleted.
It also tells you how likely it is that file could be recovered. You select
the files you want to recover, choose where to recover them to (a different
drive is recommended) and then the software tries to recover the file. The
program itself is very small (less than 1 MB) and you can download an installable
version (a setup file) or a zip file that you can extract and save to a portable
disk. That's what I've done, and I will definitely recommend it to others.
Free. It's the magic word for an ever-expanding wealth of downloadable
software and online services. Free doesn't necessarily mean good, however,
and hunting for freebies can mean sifting through a lot of junk.
That's where we come in. We surfed, clicked, and installed to find sparkling
free gems capable of planning your time, keeping you in touch, and tuning
and securing your PC, not to mention glitzing up your desktop, helping
you stay productive, and entertaining you with music, videos, photos, and
games. We paid special attention to programs and services you may not have
heard of before.
We also singled out two free offerings--one download and one online service--as
the best of the bunch.
We're going back to the basics: Our 2008 collection of utility software
is all about tweaking, manipulating, and totally dominating the looks and
functionality of Windows XP and Vista. These 91 tools provide all the help
you need to control Windows. All the products work with XP and Vista unless
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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