Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Windows Vista: Reducing the Size of Pictures

A few months back my brother sent me a mega-pixel picture, and when I opened it I was not ready for how large it really was. It was opened in my browser, and for some reason it didn't automatically scaled it to the screen size. Personally I wish he would have sent me a much lower resolution version of the image, it would have been easier for me to deal with.

There are several different software application that can do this for you, such as Paint.Net. Although, if you want to learn how an easy way to shrink the image, follow the instructions below:
  • Open the folder that contains the picture(s) you want to email to someone
  • Right-click it and select 'Send To > Mail Recipient'
  • In the Attach Files dialog, select the size (1024x768, 800x600, 640x480, etc.) of the picture that you want to send.
  • Then press the Attach button.
As long as the OS can find a default mail program (such as Microsoft Outlook, Windows Mail, etc.), it will attach the picture to the e-mail automatically for you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Software: Audacity (Open Source Sound Editor)

Audacity is a free, open source multi-track audio editor and recorder, for recording and editing sounds. Features include envelope editing, mixing, built-in effects and plug-ins, all with unlimited undo.

Below is a brief list of features:
  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • And more (see the complete list of features).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Google Sites now open to everyone

Here is an excerpt from Google Blog's about the new Google Sites, "A few months ago we launched Google Sites exclusively as part of Google Apps for companies and organizations that wanted to use the service on their own domains. Now we've made it easy for anyone to set up a website to share all types of information -- team projects, company intranets, community groups, classrooms, clubs, family updates, you name it -- in one place, for a few people, a group or the world. You can securely host your own website at[your-website] and add as many pages as you like for free."

Watch the video below for more information:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Software: Notepad++ (Notepad Replacement)

Notepad++ is a free Windows Notepad replacement (and source code editor), which supports several programming languages. This program maybe overkill for some people, but if you want something that is powerful this is a great tool, especially if you do any scripting.

Below is a list of just a few of the features:
  • Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding
  • User Defined Syntax Highlighting
  • Auto-completion
  • Regular Expression Search/Replace supported
  • and a lot more.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Software: Free Calculator (w/Tape Option)

Moffsoft FreeCalc is a great replacement for Windows calculator. The main reason why I use it is the tape option. The free version is pretty basic, so if you want more functionality check out the paid version.

Some of the other features of the free version include:
  • Make the calculator as big or as small as you like.
  • Save, print, or clear the simulated paper history tape.
  • Select a color combination.
  • Visible memory value
  • Digit groupings
  • Tray icon

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Software: Google Calendar Sync

If you have Microsoft Outlook (for business), and Google Calendar (for personal) and you wish you can keep them both in sync with each other. Well your wish has been answered. Google now offers Google Calendar Sync, which allows you to sync events between Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook.

This product is not without its limitations, but it may be worth checking out. For example, it's not possible to sync events on secondary calendars at this time. Google Calendar Sync can only sync events between your primary Google Calendar and your default Microsoft Outlook calendar.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Security: Laptop Hardware Recovery Services

Laptops are prized targets of thieves because of their high resale value, or their potential of containing private information that can be used for identity thief. The data on these computers can be far more valuable then the hardware all by itself.

To help assist in the recovery of these lost devices, the following laptop tracking and recovery services may be able to help you:
When this software is installed, it will periodically connect to a central server to check in. If a device is stolen, this check in information can be used to track the stolen laptop and have the police recover it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Windows Vista: Not reporting more then 3 GB of RAM

As computers memory capacity grows and grows, modern OSs have to be updated to address it. The 32-bit (x86) version of Windows Vista pre-SP1 (Service Pack 1) would not properly report memory over 3GB. With the new SP1 update, it corrects this problem.

Here is an excerpt from a Microsoft KB (929605) article: "If a computer has 4 gigabytes (GB) of random-access memory (RAM) installed, the system memory that is reported in the System Information dialog box in Windows Vista is less than you expect.

For example, the System Information dialog box may report 3,120 megabytes (MB) of system memory on a computer that has 4 GB of memory installed (4,096 MB)."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Windows Vista: Creating a Recovery Disc (SP1 only)

One of the new features of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is the ability to create a recovery disc. This is not like your computer manufacturer's recovery disk that restores your system back to its original state when you bought it. This is more of a system repair disk that you can use to boot and fix certain problems on a failing system.

Basically this is a Windows PE disk (a CD bootable version of Windows) that contains some system repair utilities. Creating a Windows PE is generally a pain in the rear, I think most people would give up trying to create one. Although this utility simplifies the process down to just two clicks.

To find this utility, from the "Start menu > All programs > Maintenance > Create a Recovery Disc". You will need a blank CD or DVD, and your original Windows Installation DVD. It takes about 5 minutes to complete the process.

Now all you have to do is boot a computer with the disc you created. Once you enter into the Windows Recovery Environment, click the "Repair your computer" link at the bottom of the Welcome screen and then select the Windows partition you would like to repair. After this, it will present you with a list of available system recovery options:
  • Startup Repair
  • System Restore
  • Windows Complete PC Restore
  • Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
  • Command Prompt

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Software: Laptop Alarm (Laptop Security)

Laptop Alarm is a free program that can help protect your laptop from being stolen in a public area such as a coffee shop or library when you're away from it. If someone tries to still your computer it will sound an alarm.

Its a fairly simple program to install and use. All you need to do is download and run it. Select the events to respond to, and press the Options button to set a password. Then press the Lock Computer button to protect your laptop.
Note: This program is only a deterrent, and can't protect against all types of theft. The program can only respond to a few types of events (such as AC power loss, mouse movement, etc.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Microsoft Revamps Download Center Using Silverlight

PC World reports: "Microsoft continues to eat its own dog food to promote the adoption of its Silverlight technology.

The company is beta-testing a new version of its Microsoft Download Center Web site using the technology, a browser plug-in and development runtime for adding multimedia and high-definition video to Web-based applications."

Silverlight is Microsoft's answer to Adobe's Flash technology. I also checked out the new Microsoft Download Center site and it looks really nice.

Personally, I would like to see more sites leverage the Silverlight technology so I can decide which one I like more based on how people are implementing it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Windows Vista: Searching for .DMP files

Are you running low on disk storage on your computer? The .DMP (crash dump) files consume a great deal of space.

These files are created when your operating system or application crash. Programmers use these files to find what cause your OS or program to fail.

The problem with these files is that they will sit around for a long time sucking up space. The file size can vary from a few kilobyte to a few gigabytes.

If you run the following command from the Command Prompt it will find these files and show you where and how big they are.
for /r c:\ %i in (*.dmp) do @echo %i ^(%~zi^)
Note: This command needs to be entered exactly as shown. You can change the .DMP extension to something else if you want to (i.e.: .TMP). You can also change the drive letter (i.e.: C:\) as appropriate.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Software: MediaCoder (Audio/Video Transcoder)

The MediaCoder describes itself as the 'swiss army knife for media transcoding'. MediaCoder is a free universal batch media transcoder utility, which integrates the most popular audio/video codecs and tools into an all-in-one solution.

MediaCoder uses various open source audio and video codecs and tools to transcode different audio/video files into different formats. Common uses for the program include compression, file type conversion and extraction of audio from video files.

Below is a brief list of the many formats that are supported by the application:
  • MP3
  • Vorbis
  • AAC
  • Windows Media Audio
  • RealAudio
  • WAV
  • Xvid
  • DivX 4/5
  • MPEG-2
  • AVI
  • CD
  • DVD

Monday, May 05, 2008

Windows Vista: Windows Server 2008 Remote Server Administration Tools

For those systems administrators that support Windows 2008 servers, this post is dedicated to you.

Microsoft has finally release the Windows Server 2008 Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). This software allows you to remotely manage roles and features in Windows Server 2008 from a Windows Vista SP1 workstation.

This software provides similar functionality to the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack. It also includes support for remote management of Windows 2008 servers running either the server core or a full installation option.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Security: Darik's Boot and Nuke (Hard Drive Disk Wipe)

Darik's Boot and Nuke ('DBAN') is one of those tools that has become a standard in its class (i.e. data destruction), and best of all its free. DBAN is a self-contained boot disk that can securely wipe your hard disks.

DBAN can use several different data destruction techniques (such as: 'American DoD 5220-22.M Standard Wipe') that can prevent or thoroughly hinders all known hard disk recovery methods.
Note: This software is not perfect, and can't promise to make it impossible for any of the data to be recovered. To do this, you would need to physically destroy the drive.
To use DBAN, all you have to do is download the ISO from the site, burn it to a CD, and boot your computer with it. All the instructions are on the CD.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Article: Removing hard drive data -- the YouTube way

ComputerWorld reports: "With stories surfacing on news channels regularly about lost or stolen data or the ability to recover data from discarded or resold computers and their hard drives, Computerworld decided to look at some cheap methods of removing that sensitive data from your hard drive permanently. And, what better place to look than YouTube?"

I would never recommend any of the methods shown in these videos for destroying your old hard drive. Although, these videos do emphasize the need to destroy the data on your old hard drives (or USB drives) before discarding them. If you don't someone could easily extract this information and use it against you.

You could format the drive using the tools that come with your OS, and that might stop someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Although with a quick query on any search engine, and a few free tools they could recover your data with some effort.

If you're looking for a way to more permanently destroy the data on some type of media, such as a hard drive or flash drive. There's another way to accomplish this task without physically destroying the drive. Read the following article on 'Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN)'