Monday, December 31, 2007

5 Things You'll Love About Firefox 3

Computerworld reports: "New versions of favorite applications are always a little tricky; you want to keep up with the times without fixing what ain't broke. With that in mind, I took a look at the newly released Firefox 3 Beta 2 to see what we can look forward to when the final version ships in 2008.

Although the basic look of the browser hasn't changed, there are actually quite a few new features coming. (For a complete list, you can check out Mozilla's release notes.)"

Personally I can't wait to play with the released version of this software, and see what the final product looks like. With Alpha and Beta versions of software, features can be changed, added or removed between releases, which can be annoying.

If you want to download the Beta version, it's available for you to download and play with it. Although you need to realize that itis a Beta, and its not meant to be stable as the released version, so use it at your own risk.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Roll your own Adobe CS3 for free (Part 2)

CNet reports: "Okay, so you can get the basic functionalities of Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, and Dreamweaver without the gut-punch to your wallet. What's that you say? How about Flash?"

Here are links to the sites that support these products, so that you can download the latest version of the software:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Roll your own Adobe CS3 for free (Part 1)

CNet's reports: "So, you need to finish up a design project that requires the image-editing capabilities of Photoshop along with the vectorized lines of Illustrator, and it needs to be animated in Flash with documentation in a PDF. However, you blew your budget on bling and a sweet alpaca-skin bongo set."

Here are links to the sites that support these products, so that you can download the latest version of the software:
Make sure to read the second part of this article.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hardware: How to Upgrade a Graphics Card

PC Magazine reports: "Windows Vista is the most graphically intensive operating system ever, and DirectX 10, its multimedia and gaming component, has computer users all over the world considering upgrading their PCs. With its 3D-driven Aero graphical user interface (GUI), Vista requires more graphics-card muscle than XP does. And because DirectX 10 isn't backward-compatible, gamers who are captivated by its powerful specs are being forced to upgrade their hardware in order to enjoy it."

This article explains how to buy a graphic card for your Windows Vista computer to take full advantage of the Areo interface.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Windows Vista: Managing Services

Windows Vista comes with several services that can be installed on your system to add additional functionality. A number of these services are very specialize, and will only benefit people in certain types of computer environments (such as those in large organizations like a corporation or government office).

Some of these services are installed by default, while others are optional and need to be add into the system and enabled. Before you enable any service, you need to understand that you're committing resources from your computer (such as CPU time, RAM, and hard drive storage) in order for it to run.

If you enable too many of these services you can slow down your computer and get no tangable benefit. So you need to use discretion when deciding which services you want to enable.

The steps below describe how to add a new service to your system.
Note: The features and services that are available to be installed will vary based on the Windows Vista edition that you're running (i.e.: Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, etc.).
  • From the Start menu click the Control Panel folder , double-click 'Programs and Features'
  • Click 'Turn Windows features on or off' link in the left hand pane.
  • Select the check box beside the feature you want to enable.
  • Press the OK button.
Once a service is installed it can be managed using the Services console (open the 'Control Panels' folder, then open the 'Administrative Tools' folder). From there it can started, stopped, paused, resumed, and disabled.

If you need to disable a specific service you can also use the Services console to perform this action.
Warning: Don't indiscriminately stop services unless you know what they do and what effect they will have on your system. By stopping some of services, you can disable Windows.
To disable a specific service follow the steps below.
  • From the Start menu, open the 'Control Panels' folder, then open the 'Administrative Tools' and double-click Services console.
  • Scroll through the list of services and locate the service you want to disable.
  • Right-click the service and click Properties.
  • From the General tab, use the arrow by the 'Startup Type' drop down box and select Disabled.
  • Press the OK button.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Windows Vista Help: Burn a DVD-Video disc

Looking for help on how to burn a DVD using Windows Vista, check out this article from Microsoft. Here is excerpt: "You can create DVDs quickly and easily using Windows DVD Maker. You can add video, pictures, and audio, make slide shows for your DVD, or add your Windows Movie Maker projects. Once you add files, you can burn your DVD with one click, or, if you prefer, you can choose from several menu styles and slide show options to make your DVD special before you burn it, or customize your DVD menus and write the DVD menu text yourself."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Windows Vista: Prevent Automatic Rebooting From Windows Update

Its very annoying if you leave your computer on at night with unsaved work on it, and come to it in the morning and find that it was rebooted. When new patches are downloaded and installed on your computer by Windows Update (if you have it enabled) this feature will automatically reboot your system. So if you have any unsaved work, you will lose it.

If you want to know how to prevent Windows Update from performing this automatic reboot, follow the instructions below.
Note: This tip requires modifying the Windows Registry so proceed with ]caution, use it at your own risk.
  • Open the Windows Registry Editor, from the Search field under the Start menu, type "REGEDIT" and press the Enter key.
  • Navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU (note: you might need to manually create some of these keys.)
  • Right-click an empty space in the right pane and select New > DWORD value.
  • Name the new value NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers
  • Set the value in the field to 1, press the OK button.
  • Close the registry editor when you're done.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Software: Microsoft Security Tools

Here is a great page, a kind of one stop shop for all of Microsoft's free and fee-based security tools in one location. Some of these tools are more up-to-date then others, you will need to read the tool description page to fully understand what OS and applications are supported.

This page will probably be more interesting to those who are I.T. professionals. Although there are still some great tools for those who have home networks with Windows computers on them.

Some of the tools listed on this page are:
  • Microsoft Update: provide by Windows and Office updates.
  • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS): Simplifies keeping Windows-based systems current with the latest updates.
  • Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA): Scans your systems for missing security updates and common security misconfigurations.
  • See the page for a complete list.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Software: CloneDrive (Mounting a CD/ISO Image)

An .ISO file contains an exact digital image of a CD or DVD that you can send electronically to somebody else and then they re-created it on blank media. Several OSes (i.e.: Linux boot CDs) and applications are made available on the Internet using this file format.

If you don't want to burn these files to a disk, some applications such as CloneDrive allows you to mount the ISO file as a virtual CD. You won't be able to boot your system from a virtual CD, but you can access it and copy or execute files on the virtual media.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Windows Vista's security features: One year later

TechTarget reports: "When Vista was released to manufacturing, Microsoft co-president Jim Allchin told the press that the number one reason for upgrading to Vista is that it's far more secure than previous versions of Windows operating systems. In the year since Microsoft released Windows Vista to corporations, and just under a year since the OS was released to consumers, Vista's new security features have drawn both praise and criticism. In this article, I take an objective look at security features that seem to be drawing the most attention."

This a good article that talks about some of Windows Vista security features (User Account Control [UAC], Windows Security Center, and Windows Defender). I like this article because it seems balanced in the opinions that are expressed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Software: InfraRecorder (Free)

InfraRecorder is a free open source CD/DVD burning software for Windows. It offers a wide range of powerful features; all through an easy to use application interface and Windows Explorer integration.

Some of the the software features:
  • Create custom data, audio and mixed-mode projects and record them to physical discs as well as disc images.
  • Supports recording to dual-layer DVDs.
  • Blank (erase) rewritable discs using four different methods.
  • Record disc images (ISO and BIN/CUE).
  • Fixate discs (write lead-out information to prevent further data from being added to the disc).
  • Scan the SCSI/IDE bus for devices and collect information about their capabilities. Create disc copies, on the fly and using a temporary disc image.
  • Import session data from multi-session discs and add more sessions to them. * Display disc information.
  • Save audio and data tracks to files (.wav, .wma, .ogg, .mp3 and .iso).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cut-Rate Laptops

PC Magazine reports: "Chances are, you've seen one. You've picked up the Sunday paper, and somewhere between the front page and the funnies, there's a flyer advertising a $499 laptop. Nowadays, it's not usual to see ads touting laptops for as little as $399—or even less. But every time I see one, I can't help but wonder whether these cut-rate notebooks are actually worth buying. Do they include all the nifty hardware devices you expect from a modern machine? Are they fast enough to run some decent software? How long will they last on battery power?"

Are you looking for a cheap laptop? Then you might want to read this article before you buy so you know what you're going to get.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Software Flight Simulator X Trial Version

To be honest, I try never to post trial versions of software. I would prefer to point you to something that is free. Although, there are times that I will break my own unwritten rules.

I have used Microsoft Flight Simulator since v1.0 back in the day on an Apple II computer. So if you're a flight simulator fan, you can Download a free trial version of the software and take it for a test flight.

There is also a free hidden flight simulator in the latest version of Google Earth. Then there is other free open source educational programs, games and simulators available too.