Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Software: Open Freely (Open Almost Anything)

Do you have a file that you can't open because its in a format that you don't have a program for? Check out a free program called Open Freely that allows you to view over 100 different file formats (e.g. Microsoft Office, media [graphics and movies], compressed files, and more). Open Freely's installation includes the free K-Lite Codec Pack, which contains dozens of CODECs for opening media files and other formats.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Web Sites: Top 10 Under-Hyped Web Apps, 2011 Edition

Excerpt from lifehacker.com: "We all discover new web apps each year but not every one of them gets the recognition it deserves. With 2011 drawing to a close, we wanted to highlight the 10 we felt deserved a bit more hype." (read the rest of the article)

IMHO: Some of these web applications are really cool and worth checking out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Software: Windows Defender Offline (beta)


Microsoft has publicly released a beta of its Windows Defender offline tool (32-bit and 64-bit versions are available).  This tool allows for the creation of  bootable CDs, DVDs or USB drives that allows you to run Windows Defender. The application is designed to detect and remove bootkit and rootkit malware that can infect the Windows boot process. (Get more information and download the tool)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Software: Macrium Reflect FREE Edition

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition is a Windows XP/Vista/7 disk imaging/cloning backup solution that is free for personal use.  Some of the features of the software include:

  • Access images in Windows Explorer
  • Schedule backups
  • Linux Rescue CD
  • Windows PE 3 Rescue Media (RAID support)
Obviously, the paid version of the software offers more features, see the following chart for a comparison.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Web Site: Free Online File Conversion


Do you need to convert a file (e.g. picture, video, music, eBook, archive, document etc.) into a different format?  There is a site called Online-Convert that provides a fast easy way to convert several different file formats, without installing extra software.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Software: Picasa 3.9 now available

Its been awhile since Google has updated Picasa, their free photo-editing application. They added sharing directly to Google+, new photo editing effects, and more.

Below is a list of some of the updated features:
  • Added ability to upload to Google+: share with circles.
  • Social Tagging with Google+.
  • New photo editing effects.
  • Side by side editing.
  • Updated RAW support for newer cameras.
  • Improvements to Face Movie maker.
  • Improved restoring of virtual albums.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Software: Password Management Applications

Do you have several passwords, and you're having a hard time remembering all of them.  Writing them down on a piece of paper is not secure. You could created encrypted document of some type (e.g. text, Word, Excel, etc.) to store them.  There are also several password management applications available for you to download, some are free and others cost money.

Although before you pay for anything or try other programs.  Check out a program called KeePass.  This is a multiple platform, open-source password management application.  There are also 3rd party ports of the application that work on the popular mobile platforms (e.g. iPhone, Android, etc.).

KeyPass will store your passwords in an encrypted file, so even if someone steals it they can't read it unless they know your password.  Check out the web site for more information.

If you want something that offers more features then KeyPass, checkout some commercial password management applications like:



 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Easy Application Installation and Removal


If you just build a new PC, it can be a pain going around the web to re-install all your favorite applications.  If you have an existing PC, and are looking for an easier way to find, download, updated, or uninstall applications.

Below are some tools that can help you with these tasks:

  • Allmyapps - An application store for Windows.
    • Download the client to your computer, and find new applications and keep them up-to-date.
  • Revo Uninstaller - Helps completely uninstall applications.
    • A freeware and professional version are available.
  • PC Decrapifier - Removes pre-installed software on many new PCs from hardware manufactures.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Windows 7: Manage User Stored Credentials (User Names and Passwords)

When your computer tries to connect to other devices on your local network that requires a username and password.  Windows will attempt to use the currently logged on user credentials to authenticate that connection. If that username and password doesn't work, it will attempt to find one in the stored credentials. If these credentials are not available on the local system, you will be prompted with a username and password dialog box with a check box titled Remember My Password.

If you checked the Remember My Password check box, the information will be saved to the stored credentials area of your user profile. Then, when you connect to the same resource at a future date, Windows will be able to use these credentials to automatically authenticate your connection.

If you wish to view or change any of the user information in the stored credentials, you can do so by accessing the Stored User Names and Passwords tool.

  • Open the Run dialog, press the WinKey+R.
  • Type "rundll32.exe keymgr.dll, KRShowKeyMgr" and press the Enter button.  

Once the dialog is displayed you can change or delete any of the stored credential information.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Optimizing Your Network Connection Speed

The Jason Chronicles reports: "The speed of your network is determined by three key factors, the speed of your equipment, Internet connection, and network configuration. Your network equipment is made up the NIC (e.g. the network port) on the computer, the router/switch, and the cabling you use to hook it together. If you're using wireless, there are different factors for this technology. The Internet connection is only as good as the provider you're using. While your system's network configuration is entirely up to you." (read the rest of the article)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Windows 7: Program Access and Computer Defaults

In Windows 7 you can set the program defaults (e.g. browser, email, media player, instant messaging, and Java VM) for the computer (which means this applies to all users), in the Program Access and Computer Defaults control panel.

If you choose the Microsoft Windows option, it will make Microsoft applications the default program that is open for specific file types (e.g. a browser shortcut will cause Internet Explorer to be utilized).  If you choose the Non-Microsoft options, it will hide certain Microsoft applications (e.g. Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, etc).  By selecting the Custom option, you can choose your own default programs.


  • From the Start menu, open the Control Panel.
  • Under Programs, select Program Defaults
  • Open the Program Access and Computer Defaults control panel



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking Control of your Data on Google


Are you worried that Google knows too much about you?  With the tools below you can take control of your account and data stored in Google's cloud.  For example, you can download your data using Google Takeout, or you can control certain aspects of the data that the company stores about you.

  • Google Takeout: Allows you to download a copy of your data stored within different services. 
  • Google Dashboard: Shows you what information is stored in your account.
  • Privacy Center: In the tools section, there links to different privacy tools available on the site.  There are a variety of links on this page from Google Dashboard to Controlling Your Location in Google Latitude.

Friday, October 21, 2011

10 cool technologies to look for in your next PC

TechRepublic reports: "It’s an exciting time for PC enthusiasts. I can’t remember a period when so many existing technologies were being upgraded to the next generation and new technologies were being introduced. Even non-enthusiasts need to know about the changes that are happening to the desktop PC." (Read the rest of the article)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Windows 7: Shrinking a Partition

It use to be if you had a formatted hard drive with existing partitions, and you wanted to add or shrink one of them you needed a special utility called a disk partitioning tools such as Partition Magic.  The Windows 7 Disk Management console has disk partitioning functionality built into it.
Warning: Make a good backup of your drive before proceeding with the instructions below.
  • To open the Disk Management console from the Start menu, in the Search field type DISKMGMT.MSC, and press Enter. Press the YES button if prompted by the UAC (User Account Control).
  • Right-click a drive that you want to shrink and choose Shrink Volume... from the menu.
  • A dialog will display showing you how much space is available you can shrink the drive by. Specify an amount, then press the Shrink button.  
  • Right-click the newly available partition and choose New Simple Volume. Follow the steps in the wizard to specify the size and assign a letter to the new drive, and format the new drive.

Firefox ABOUT Pages (Hidden Features)

Notes:
  • This article covers a semi-advanced topic, and is not recommended for those that don't understand technical information about applications, network and system information. 
  • Use these features at your own risk, some of them are for debug web page or the browser and can intentionally cause the tab or browser to crash.

Want to enable experimental features in Mozilla's Firefox browser, get diagnostic data, or see hidden information and features. Then you want to check out the Firefox's ABOUT pages, to access them in the address bar type "about:about" to see a list of available pages.

  • about: - Displays basic information about Firefox
  • about:about -  Lists the available “about” pages
  • about:addons - Displays information about installed add-ons, extensions, plugins, and themes
  • about:buildconfig - List the Firefox source and build information.
  • about:cache - Displays information about memory, disk and offline caches
  • about:config - Allows the enable or modification of application features.
  • about:crashes - Lists crash reports on your local system.
  • about:credits - Displays a list of contributors who helped create the Firefox browser.
  • about:home - Displays a built-in home page
  • about:license - List information about different licenses used by Firefox for different parts of its source code.
  • about:logo - Shows the Firefox logo.
  • about:memory - Shows the memory allocation for different firefox processes.
  • about:mozilla - Displays a passage from The Book of Mozilla
  • about:permissions - View or change web site permission (e.g. store password, set cookies, etc.) for different sites
  • about:plugins - List technical information about each plug-in installed in browser.
  • about:privatebrowsing - If you create a link to this page when clicked it the browser enter into its private browsing mode
  • about:rights - Displays a page titled: "About Your Rights" (includes links to licence, privacy policy and service terms)
  • about:robots - Displays a page titled: "Welcome Humans!" (displays bulleted items about robots)
  • about:sessionrestore - Displays a session restore tab
  • about:support - This page contains technical information that might be useful when you're trying to solve a problem
  • about:sync-log - Displays the synchronization logs.
  • about:sync-tabs - Displays the synchronization tabs from other computers.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Software: BlueStacks Android OS Emulator for Windows

BlueStacks allows you to run Android OS applications on a Windows PC. Video below offers a visual tour of the software.  To get more information or to download the application, check out the following web site.  This application is currently in Alpha as of this writing, so it might not be ready for prime time.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Windows 7: Installing IIS


Internet Information Services (IIS) is Microsoft's web server software can be installed on a Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate edition.

It is not installed by default, so you will have to follow the steps below to enable it.

  • Log on to the computer with an account that has Administrators privileges. 
  • From the Start menu select the Control Panel, click Programs
  • Click the link Turn Windows features on or off
  • Check Internet Information Services
  • Press the OK button when finished. 


By default it will install a minimal set of features, if you need additional functionality, you'll need to check the appropriate boxes within the Windows Features dialog box (e.g. Web Management tools).

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Windows 7: Scheduling Your Computer to Shut Down Automatically


Do you leave your computer on for extended periods of time, and would like it if your computer would automatically shut down at a specific time of day.  Follow the instructions below.

  • Click the Start button, in the search box, type "scheduled tasks" then click the item in the search results.
  • In the Task Scheduler console, in the Actions pane on the right, click "Create Basic Task ...".
  • In the Basic Task Wizard dialog, enter a name for task, such as "Shutdown Computer" and include a optional description such as "Shuts down computer at 12:00 a.m. everyday", press the Next button.
  • On the Task Trigger page, select "Daily" and press the Next button.
  • On the Daily page, enter a start date and time that you want the task to first begin (e.g. 12/1/11 and 12:00 a.m.) and press the Next button.
  • On the Action page, select the "Start a Program" and press the Next button.
  • On the Start a Program page, in the Program/script field, type:  %SYSTEMROOT%\SYSTEM32\SHUTDOWN.EXE
  • Press the Next button, review the Summary page and press the Finish button.

Based on the task that was defined above Windows will now automatically shut down at 12:00 a.m. each day. Although before it does the system will display a pop-up notification, "Windows will shut down in less than a minute."

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Troubleshooting Sound Problems

Are you having problems with the audio or speakers on your computer? Here are some troubleshooting techniques to help you diagnose most problems. (Read the rest of the article)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Windows 7: Disabling System Protection


Sometimes there's a need to turn off the System Restore feature (e.g. such as recovering free space on a drive).  By disabling the System Restore functionality, note it will be permanently deleting all existing restore points from the drive.

Below are the instructions on how to perform this action:

  • From the Start menu, select Control Panel
  • Select System and Security, and open the System control panel
  • In the left pane, click System Protection
    • If the UAC is enabled, the administrator credentials will be required.
  • Select the drive to disable the System Protection feature.
    • Generally feature is enabled on Windows system drive, which in most cases is the C: drive.
  • Press the Configure... button, when the System Protection dialog displays, select the Turn off system protection radio button, then press the OK button.
  • Press the OK button again to close the last dialog.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mikko Hypponen: Fighting viruses, defending the net

This video is a great introduction to modern day malware (e.g. viruses, worms, Trojan horses, etc.).



It's been 25 years since the first PC virus (Brain A) hit the net, and what was once an annoyance has become a sophisticated tool for crime and espionage. Computer security expert Mikko Hyppönen tells us how we can stop these new viruses from threatening the internet as we know it.

If you want to know more about how to protect yourself and your family on the Internet from fraud, scams, and malware, check out my book "Avoiding Information Insecurity: Fighting Modern Day Cyber-Threats (2011 Edition)" (ISBN 978-1-4580-2920-1) [For my blog readers I am offering a limited time [October 14, 2011] special deal of 75% off the cover price of the book, use the coupon code TL78X at checkout].

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Google Flight Search



Flight search is a feature that helps you explore air travel options for a number of cities, and plan your trip with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Rasterbator - Make a Poster from any Image

The Rasterbator allows you to creates large posters (up to 20 meters [or 65 feet] in size) from just about any image. All you have to do is upload a picture (from your computer or from a URL), print the resulting multi-page PDF file and assemble the pages into a poster.

The Rasterbate service is available in two versions, online (which requires that you have Adobe Flash Player 7 and PDF viewer) and an off-line downloadable executable. Its pretty easy to use, after you have cropped the image and selected a size, the "rasterbated" image will be sent to you as a PDF file.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

HTTPS Everywhere Firefox extension

I am a big believer in all types of encryption, to protect yourself and your data while utilizing the Internet you need to encrypt everything.

Many sites on the web offer encryption over HTTPS, but default to unencrypted HTTP communication when you visit their site. HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox extension from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that forces encrypted  communications with a number of major websites (if this option is available). The HTTPS Everywhere extension works by trying to rewrite all requests on a site to utilize HTTPS.
Note: if the site your visiting is not enable in the extension or site doesn't support HTTPS this browser extension will not work.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Online Monitor Test

Need to test your monitor's image quality, check out the online monitor test at http://tft.vanity.dk.

The monitor tests can be run directly in 3 different modes:

  • Ordinary HTML window (press F11 to maximize the image)
  • Full screen HTML (opens in 1280x1024 but can be re-sized to fit any resolution)
  • Executable full-screen program for any resolution (no installation required)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hidden Feature: Chrome ABOUT Pages


Notes:

  • This article covers a semi-advanced topic, and is not recommended for those that don't understand technical information about applications, network and system information.
  • Use these features at your own risk, some of them are for debug web page or the browser and can intentionally cause the tab or browser to crash.

Want to enable experimental features in Google's Chrome browser, get diagnostic data, or see hidden information and features. Then you want to check out the Chrome's ABOUT pages, to access them in the address bar type "about:about" to see a list of available pages.

  • about:about: Lists available Chrome About pages.
  • about:appcache-internals:  Displays information about the  HTML 5 AppCache manifests.
  • about:blank: Displays a blank page.
  • about:cache: Displays a list of cached URLs.
  • about:crash: Displays a crash page in the active tab.
  • about:view-http-cache: Displays a blank page.
  • about:credits: Displays credit information about different browser features.
  • about:conflicts: Lists all modules loaded into the main process.
  • about:dns: Displays browser DNS preresolution information.
  • about:flags: Allows the enabling and disabling of experimental features.
  • about:flash: Lists information about Flash.
  • about:gpu: Displays informaton about the GPU charactoristics.
  • about:histograms: Lists histogram about different browser features.
  • about:inducebrowsercrashforrealz - Crashes the Google Chrome browser.
  • about:kill: Displays a generic error message when a webpage crashes unexpectedly
  • about:memory: Displays processor and memory data.
  • about:net-internals:  Lists internal network and cache information.
  • about:plugins: Displays informaton about the installed plug-ins.
  • about:stats: Displays a blank page.
  • about:sync-internals: Displays the browser sync information.
  • about:tcmalloc: Lists memory and processor information for the browser.
  • about:terms: Displays information about Google Chrome Terms of Service.
  • about:version: Lists version information for the Chrome browser.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Security: Avoid Cybercriminal Tech Support Scam

Microsoft.com reports: "Cybercriminals don't just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites. They might also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following:

  • Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software. 
  • Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.
(Finish reading the rest of the article)

Network: Diagnostics and Performance Web Sites


Here are some useful web sites that  may come in handy from time to time to perform some network diagnostics:


Friday, August 19, 2011

New Firefox Beta with Enhanced Performance

Below is a excerpt from the Mozilla blog: "The latest Mozilla Firefox Beta is now available for testing on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. This beta includes performance enhancements that improve the browsing experience for users and enable developers to create faster Web apps and websites." (see the article to view the rest of the features or download the application)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Security Tip: HTTPS Everywhere

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has crated a Firefox extension called HTTPS Everywhere. The extension forces major web sites to use HTTPS to encrypt all your traffic if that option is available.

As most people may know, HTTPS is the standard protocol used by all web browsers and servers for sending encrypted data between the client and server.

Many sites offer an HTTPS option but don't enable it by default. If traffic is unencrypted, then anyone, organization, or government can monitor your traffic.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Windows Live Family Safety 2011

With Windows Live Family Safety 2011 you can monitor and control your children's computer and Internet activities. Some of the features of this service include: reports showing what your children are doing, or control access to websites, games, and programs they can access or set times when they can use the computer.

Other features of the program are:
  • SafeSearch allows you to locked down search engines, such as Bing, Google, Yahoo! and others.
  • Manage your child’s permissions remotely online.
  • When installed on multiple PCs in the household, Family Safety enforces the same settings. 
  • Block inappropriate content or even limit kids to age-appropriate web sites.
  • Limit your children's email and instant messaging access to approved contacts on Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Microsoft Camera Codec Pack

The Microsoft Camera Codec Pack (download) enables the viewing of a variety of device-specific RAW formatted camera files in Window Live Photo Gallery as well as other software that is based on Windows Imaging Codecs (such as the Windows Explorer).

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Win7′s no-reformat, nondestructive reinstall

Windows Secrets reports: "Microsoft won’t tell you this, but you can do a fast, nondestructive, in-place, total reinstall of Windows 7 without damaging your user accounts, data, installed programs, or system drivers.

That means you may never have to do a full, from-scratch reinstall again, even when your system is misbehaving so badly that a full reformat-and-reinstall seems the only answer!

As I’m sure you know all too well, from-scratch reinstalls are ordeals. They take hours. And when a reinstall is done, you still have to recreate all your settings, reinstall all your software, and so on. It can take days to fully recover from a total reformat/reinstall."

(read the rest of the article)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Windows 7: Location-Aware Printing

Note: this feature is only available for mobile devices, and not on desktop computers.

One of  Windows 7's new feature is it can automatically switch your default printer when you move between networks (for example, when you move your laptop from your home network to your business network).

To configure this feature, follow the instructions below:

  • Click the Start menu and in the search field type Devices.
  • Click the link for Devices and Printers.
  • Select a printer and right-click Manage Default Printers 
  • Select Change my default printer when I change networks
  • Select a network, select the default printer you want to use when on that network and press the Add button.
  • Do the same for each network that you joined your laptop to it.
When you connect to a network, Windows will automatically select the default printer that was specified for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Free Online OCR Site

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the process of converting scanned images of documents into text. In the past OCR programs had to be installed on your computer.

The site www.onlineocr.net allows you to upload scanned documents (including multi-page PDF files), photographs from digital cameras and scanned images (JPG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF) to be converted into text.  This site supports 32 different languages.

The converted documents can be exported in Word, Text, Excel, PDF, and HTML formats.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Video: Creating a Strong Password



They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, then how many words is a video worth? Creating a strong password is your best defense for protecting your data on the Internet. As we move more and more data into the so called "Cloud", the keys to your digital kingdom may only be as strong as the password you select to protect it. This video provides one of the best visual explanations of how to create a strong password and why you should do it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Google Project Emerges as Facebook With More Refined Manners

eWeek.com reports: "After more than a year of denials that any major social network initiative was in the works, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) June 28 unveiled Google , the company's take on social networking. Not to be confused with the existing Google 1 search result and ad-sharing services, Google is intended to alleviate certain pain points that plagued Facebook as its network grew to 700 million-plus users. For example, while Facebook users added friends, family and colleagues to one big connection pool, Google is designed to let users create smaller buckets of contacts that share common interests. Users may create these Circles by dragging and dropping Google Profile pictures of users into separate Circles and sharing information only within those Circles."

(see the slide show)

Its been a few years since I have seen something interesting happen in the Social Networking space. I think Google might have gotten it right this time. If they generate enough buzz and interest with this product it will have a chance to survive.

Hopefully it will have privacy by default, and not require you to jump through several hoops just to lock down your profile.

Resources:

Windows 7: Changing Remote Desktop Listening Port

Note: This is an advanced tip and only applicable to certain situations.
The Remote Desktop by default uses TCP/IP port 3389, some people think that they can increase the security of the RDP protocol by changing it too different location. This is almost as effective as moving a lock on a door and hoping a thief won't be able to find it. This technique would only be effective against someone who knows absolutely nothing about TCP/IP.

If you still want to move the Remote Desktop default TCP/IP port, here is how you do it:
Warning: This tip requires modifying the registry proceed at your own risk.
  • Open the Windows Registry Editor, from the Start menu in the search field type REGEDIT.EXE
  • In the Windows Registry Editor navigate to the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\TerminalServer\WinStations\RDP-Tcp\PortNumber
  • Click the Edit menu and select Modify... or right-click the registry value and select Modify...
  • In the properties dialog box, click Decimal, and type in the new port number that you want to use (make sure its not used by another protocol)
  • Press the OK button to close the dialog.
  • Close the registry editor and reboot the computer.
To access the computer via Remote Desktop over your local network or the Internet, when you enter the machines DNS name or IP address in the Remote Desktop Connection client (under All Programs > Accessories), add a colon and the port number that you used (e.g.: example.com:57619 or 192.168.1.2:57619).

Monday, July 04, 2011

Windows 7: Start Menu Web Searching

Note: This tip only works on Windows 7 Professional and higher.

With the Windows 7 Search box under the Start menu you can search for programs and files, but did you know you can enhance it to also search the web?

Using the Group Policy editor you can enable the Start menu Internet search feature, follow the instructions below:

  • In the search field under the Start menu, type GPEDIT.MSC.  This will open the Group Policy Editor.
  • In the left pane, under User Configuration, expand Administrative Templates.
  • Click Start Menu and Taskbar.
  • In the right pane, double click Add Search Internet link to Start Menu.
  • Click Enabled and then press OK button.
  • Close the Group Policy Editor.

In the Search box under the Start menu when a search term is typed a  link will be displayed that says Search the Internet.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Firefox 5 Browser Launches, Boasting Tweaks, Security, Privacy

eWeek.com reports: "Mozilla's new Firefox 5.0 for PCs and Firefox for Android aim to offer users a best-of-class combination of security, privacy and speed. Coming a mere three months after the release of Firefox 4, this latest browser supposedly includes more than 1,000 improvements and performance enhancements. However, features like 'Do Not Track' may do more to draw users increasingly leery of the Web's rampant data mining. For most consumers, downloading and installing Firefox 5 will only take a few minutes, although larger companies still deploying Firefox 4 could become annoyed at having to switch so soon. Despite those hundreds of improvements, Firefox 5 doesn't seem to offer a radically different experience from its predecessor."

Read the rest of the article and view the slide show.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Microsoft Updates SkyDrive, Faster, Better, With HTML5 Support

ghacks reports: "SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud hosting service, has been around since 2007. The service gives users access to 25 Gigabytes of free online storage, for file hosting, sharing and collaboration. While it has been a great service to store data online from the start, it felt slow at times especially when navigating folders or photo albums in a web browser."

Read the rest of the article.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Command Prompt Tricks

Back before the invention of the mouse and Graphical User Interface, was the command prompt. Every operating system (e.g. UNIX, CP/M, MS-DOS, VMS, etc.) of the day had some type of command line interface.

There are still command prompt power user and purest. If you're one of these people check out ultimate list of command prompt power tricks. These tricks will show you how to fully utilize the Window's command prompt.


(Read the rest of the article)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Windows 7: Using the Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Do you want to use the Dvorak keyboard layout instead of the traditional QWERTY layout? Here is how switch between the two keyboard layouts:
  • From the Start menu click Control Panel.
  • In the Control Panel folder click the Clock, Language, and Region link
  • Click the Region and Language control panel
  • Click the Keyboards and Languages tab.
  • Click the Change Keyboard... button
  • On the General tab, press the Add button.
  • Scroll down to English (United States), expand it then check the box for United States - Dvorak.
  • Press OK buttons close the dialog boxes.
In the notification area in the lower right corner of the screen will be an keyboard icon (aka Language bar) to switch layouts.

Monday, June 20, 2011

StrongVPN: Extra Security and Other Features

I recently learned about a service called StrongVPN that provides a few features I really like. I am not personally endorsing this company or its products.  Although, I would suggest investigating their service offerings to see if you like their features.

  • Extra Security: A VPN service can provide you an extra layer of security when surfing the web, or logging into a public hot spot.  All the traffic is generally encrypted between you and the VPN provider.  This makes it difficult for an attacker to steal your data while you're using a public hot spot.
  • Surfing Privately: When using a VPN service can provide you an extra layer of privacy, by hiding your true IP address from web sites. Companies mine IP address information to track your web surfing habits.
  • Overseas Web Sites: One of the unique features of StrongVPN is that they allow you to have an American IP address.  So when traveling overseas you can get access to American sites that otherwise could be blocked.  This feature also applies to other countries that they support (more information).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Google: Search by Image



Now you can use an image instead of words to start your Google search. To use this feature, go to http://images.google.com/.

Windows 7: Verifying the Operating System Edition and Version

Do you need to find out what edition of the Windows Operating system you're running (e.g. Windows Home Basic, Home Premium, Enterprise, etc.), or if you're running the 32-bit or 64-bit version?

There are two easy places to look:

  • From the Start menu in the search field, type WINVER

or
  • From the Start menu, click Control Panel, click System and Maintenance, and then click System.

To learn more about the differences between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, check out the following article.

Monday, June 13, 2011

F‌inding Unknown File Extensions

Every now and then you will come across a file extension (e.g. .DOCX, .EXE, .TXT, etc.) that you might not know.  If you're looking for the application that can open that type of file, check out a site called FileXT.com.

This site contains a list of several thousand file extensions and programs that are supposed to open them.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Windows 7: Using VHD Files

Windows 7 allows you to create and mount VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) files. These files were originally created for Microsoft's Virtual Machine (VM) technologies like Hyper-V and Virtual PC.  Using this feature you can directly access and edit the contents of these files.

Creating a VHD:
  • From the search box in the Start menu, type DISKMGMT.MSC then press Enter.
  • In the Disk Manager, in the Action menu select Create VHD
    • Choose the options in the dialog that best fit your system requirements for the VHD that is being created (e.g. name, size, format, and type of VHD).
  • Right-click the VHD and select Initialize Disk, then right-click the unallocated space and select New Simple Volume.
    • Follow the options in the wizard and make the selections that best fit your system requirements for the VHD that is being mounted.  In general the default options will probably be the most appropriate selections for most situations.

VHD drive behave like any other drive, you can put files on them, install applications, etc.  To remove a VHD drive in the Disk Manager right-click the disk and select Detach VHD.

Mounting a VHD
  • In the Disk Manager, in the Action menu select Create VHD.
  • Find and select the VHD file you want to mount.
The virtual drive will appear in Windows Explorer as any other mounted disk.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Windows 7: Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) with SP1

If you work with Windows servers in a small lab or a large data center, then you need Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1. It enables system administrators to manage roles and features that are installed on computers that are running Windows Server 2008 R2, 2008, or 2003, from a remote computer that is running Windows 7 including SP1. (download software)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Software: Remote Potato (Free Access to Your Media Over the Internet)

Remote Potato is a free program that runs on a Windows computer (supports: XP, Vista and Windows 7) that gives you access to your media (e.g. music, pictures, video, etc.) over the Internet.  The program also has remote support for Windows Media Center.

All you need for remote access of your content is an Internet connection and a web browser.  There is even a mobile application for viewing your content with the iPhone.

(Check out the following web site for more information)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Understanding the Facebook “Find out who views your profile” scam

OpenDNS Blog reports: "Every few weeks there’s a new scam that makes the rounds on Facebook. This week it’s the “Find out who visits your profile,” scam, which we’ve all seen before. The reason it piques my interest this time is the sheer volume of people falling victim. That coupled with the fact that the victims include some of my more tech-savvy Facebook friends made me want to understand better what exactly the virus is trying to do and how we can all protect ourselves.

The virus works first by gaining access to your Facebook account. Unlike other methods for hacking, which involve somehow accessing your login credentials, this scam needs only for you to click a link posted on your wall or someone else’s wall. To entice you into clicking, the scam offers something lots of people would love to know, but Facebook doesn’t allow: a list of people who’ve viewed your profile. You might receive an e-mail notification that tells you a friend has posted a link on your wall with this context:"

(Read the rest of the article)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Software: Handbrake (Free Video Transcoder)

HandBrake is an open-source, multi-platform (e.g. MacOS X, Linux and Windows), video transcoder.  If you never heard of a transcoder, it converts digital media from one format (such as .VOB, .TS and M2TS files) into another format (MPEG-4, H.264, MP3, Vorbis, and mroe)



  • For more information on the program, check out its web site.
  • For more information on the video formats this program supports, check out this Wikipedia article.




Friday, May 20, 2011

Windows 7: Delete Recent Items from the Jump Lists

People are worried about privacy these days, and sometimes features that are designed for convenience store too much information about us.  If you want to get rid of the recent items displayed in the taskbar jump lists, follow the instructions below:
  • Right-click the Start button.
  • Select Properties.
  • Click the Start Menu tab.
  • Uncheck the item "Store and display recently opened items in the Start Menu and the taskbar".
  • Press the Apply button.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Microsoft Security Tools

Microsoft has created a page where they post all their security tools, both free and commercial.  The age and usefulness of some of these tools will vary depending on your environment (e.g. a home vs. an enterprise network). Although, what I really find handy about this page is that all the tools are grouped together in one place.

Below is a brief list of some of the tools that are available for download:
  • Microsoft Security Assessment Tool (MSAT): Helps assess weaknesses in an organization’s IT security environment.
  • Microsoft Security Compliance Manager: Provides security configuration recommendations from Microsoft.
  • Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA): Scans on your network for missing security updates and common security mis-configurations.
  • File Checksum Integrity Verifier: A command-line tool that computes MD5 or SHA-1 cryptographic hash values for files.  This is useful for validating a file's integrity.
  • PortQry: This command-line utility helps troubleshoot TCP/IP connectivity issues in Windows.
Check out the site to see all the tools.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Web Site: Building a museum of museums on the web



Imagine being able to see artwork in the greatest museums around the world without leaving your chair. Driven by his passion for art, Amit Sood tells the story of how he developed Art Project to let people do just that.

Links

Microsoft Safety Scanner (Free)

Sometimes you need a second opinion when it comes to the subject of malware (e.g.: virus, worms, spyware, etc.). Although, first and foremost you should be running a real-time malware scanner with up-to-date signatures to protect your home or small business computers.

On those occasions where you think something maybe wrong, then you should use an alternate tool to make sure that your current tools are not missing something.  Check out Microsoft's new Safety Scanner it's a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps with the removal of malware. It also works with your existing anti-malware software.
Note: The Microsoft Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. To scan your system with the latest anti-malware definitions, all you need to do is re-download and run the Safety Scanner again.
The Safety Scanner is not a meant as replacement for using an real-time anti-malware software program that provides ongoing protection. For free real-time malware protection download Microsoft Security Essentials.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Windows 7: The Power of FSUTIL Command

FSUTIL is a powerful command-line utility that can provide very technical information about your computer's drives, or if utilized incorrectly can cause damage to the file system.
Note: To use this utility, it requires administrative permission on the local system.
Below are a few examples of different operations that the command can perform.

Queries volume information
E.g.: fsutil fsinfo volumeinfo c:

Queries NTFS specific volume information
E.g.: fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo c:

Creates a new file of a specified size
E.g.: fsutil file createnew C:\testfile.txt 1000

Warning: use this command at your own risk...
Below is a list of supported commands:
  • Type: fsutil 8dot3name: 8dot3name management
  • Type: fsutil behavior: Control file system behavior
  • Type: fsutil dirty: Manage volume dirty bit
  • Type: fsutil file: File specific commands
  • Type: fsutil fsinfo: File system information
  • Type: fsutil hardlink: Hardlink management
  • Type: fsutil objectid: Object ID management
  • Type: fsutil quota: Quota management
  • Type: fsutil repair: Self healing management
  • Type: fsutil reparsepoint: Reparse point management
  • Type: fsutil resource: Transactional Resource Manager management
  • Type: fsutil sparse: Sparse file control
  • Type: fsutil transaction: Transaction management
  • Type: fsutil usn: USN management
  • Type: fsutil volume: Volume management

Monday, May 09, 2011

Windows 7: Advanced Format Disks Update

This topic is a more advanced then I generally discuss in this blog, but I am hoping it might be able to help some people whom might be using this technology.

Microsoft has release an update to improve Advanced Format Disks compatibility in the latest versions of Windows 7 (SP1) and Server 2008 R2 (SP1). The Advanced Format Disk is utilized when the physical media has been formatted with 4,096 bytes (4K) sector size, rather then the conventional 512 byte sector size.

The Advanced Format technology is more efficient for storing large files such as video files or large photographs stored in the RAW format. Another advantage of this technology is that it supports stronger error correction algorithms.

Not all application natively support writes based on 4 KB sectors to the physical media, so compatibility can come at the cost of performance and reliability based on the system workload and hardware implementation.

For individuals and organizations that utilize applications that can only use 512-byte Logical Block Addressing (known as “512-byte emulation disks” or “512e”) while leveraging a 4KB sector size on the physical media can download an update (KB 982018) from Microsoft to improve performance, reliability, and general interoperability of the Advanced Format Disks technology.

(See the KB 982018 for more information)

Friday, May 06, 2011

NSA's Best Practices for Keeping Your Home Network Secure

As you might have heard cyber-criminals are getting more sophisticated all the time.  To help protect people from becoming victims of these criminals, the NSA has published a PDF called "Best Practices for Keeping Your Home Network Secure".  The document offers some tips on how to secure your computer (Windows and Mac OS X) and your home network.

If you want a book that offers more in-depth information and advice on how to protect yourself and your family, check out my book called "Avoiding Information Insecurity: Fighting Modern Day Cyber-Threats (2011 Edition)"

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Find the precise location of just about any Wi-Fi router

Here is a slightly disturbing fact about wireless networks. Did you know Google uses its Android mobile operating system to collect Wi-Fi routers GPS location and store them in a public database? You can put in a router's MAC address (e.g. 08:00:69:02:01:FC) and see its precise location on Google Maps using this site (http://samy.pl/androidmap/).
Note: MAC address definition (from Wikipedia): A Media Access Control address (MAC address) is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications on the physical network segment.
I am not too worried about it, because I don't currently see any way for someone to exploit this data. When I tested it, I found it pretty accurate. Try it out and see if works for you.

Bonus tip: Do you want to lookup the manufacture of a MAC address?  Check out the following site (http://aruljohn.com/mac.pl), put in the MAC address and it will tell you which vendor manufactured the device.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Inexpensive Computer Accessories, Printer Ink and Toner Cartridges

Are you looking for the most inexpensive computer accessories, printer supplies, and more, check out two of my favorite sites.


They have several types of products available, but the quality can vary on the items. Although its hard to beat the prices. Most of the stuff I buy from these sites I am pretty happy with.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keeping Your Drivers Up-To-Date

WindowsUpdate keeps your Microsoft OS and applications up-to-date, but what about all your hardware drivers. A free program called SlimDrivers alerts you to the latest version of a driver.

There are two versions of the software. SlimDrivers is the free version only allows you update one driver at a time before you reboot. The premium version called DriverUpdate allows for multiple driver updates before you reboot and offers advanced automation features.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CrashPlan - Internet Backup Solutions

Backing up data on your computer has always been critical. A long time ago floppies were used to backup your data, later it was CDs and then DVDs. Today there is no affordable external removable media capable of keeping up with modern multi-terabyte drives.
Note: For those that can afford it, tape backup is still an option but it's expensive and slow when compared to an external hard drive.
Even if you have an external drive or NAS (network attached storage), it can be damaged, lost, stolen or suffer data corruption. If you don't have an off-site backup, and your local backups are in-tact they can be damaged by fire, earthquake, or other natural disasters.

If you're looking for a backup solution, there are a few choices:
  • Use an external drive and keep your backup locally and hope that nothing happens to them.
  • Use multiple external drives and keep one of the backup drives offsite, and rotate it out on a regular basis.
  • Use a cloud based backup service provider.
Below is a list of some advantages to using a cloud based backup service provider vs. using an external hard drive:

  • All your backups are stored off-site automatically.
  • Some backup solutions offer services that run in the background on your computer that automatically compresses your unbacked up files, encrypts them, then forward them on to the service provider you selected.
  • You almost never have to worry about running out of capacity as long as you have a budget for the storage that you're using.
There are several service providers available that offer cloud based backup services.  Some are free, while others cost money.  The hard part will be finding one that you like, and that has the features that you want.  

There are also some disadvantages to using these services, such as: 
  • Depending on how much data you have, these services can initially use a lot of bandwidth.  Depending on your ISP there may be a cap on the amount of data that you can utilize each month.
  • If you have to recover your whole hard drive from your service provider it can be challenging and expensive depending on the solutions that they offer.

Below is a list of features and other considerations when looking for a company to host your backups:

  • Has a good reputation for providing a reliable backup solution.
  • Offers easy to use software that automatically backs up your files and uses strong encryption.
  • Offers affordable pricing for storage and recovery services.
  • Offers storage capacity options that meets your needs and budget

Check out a site called CrashPlan, they provide free and low cost Internet backup solutions for personal and small businesses.  Check out the site to see a current list of features and prices.

One feature I like about this service, is that it allows you backup your computer to another remote computer (e.g. a friend or family member) for free.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Google Talk Guru

The Google Talk Guru is an experimental service intended for IM users, including users using chat clients on low-end phones, allowing them to answer simple web queries from the context of their chat application.

To use the service, in your Google Talk client invite guru@googlelabs.com to chat, and then send queries via your chat client. Categories supported include weather, translation, unit and currency conversions, and sports scores. Send "help" for more information.

Sport scores:score giants
Weather:weather San Francisco
Calculate:123 * 456
Currency:120 EUR to USD
Definition:define love
Translation:translate earth to German
Web result:web St Helens
Help:help translate

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Extension: Chrome Toolbox (by Google)

In the Google Chrome extension gallery, you can find the Chrome Toolbox by Google which gives you quick access to tools that allows you to put your favorite browser commands in one drop down menu, save unsubmitted form data, magnify images, view videos in standalone windows, and define shortcuts to open all links in any bookmark folder. (For more information)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Windows Live Mesh

Back in 2008 Microsoft debut Live Mesh (which has recently been discontinued). It has since merged that product into the Windows Live tools, its now called Windows Live Mesh.

Windows Live Mesh is now available, for download.  Below is a list of features it supports:
  • Syncing files between your computers, works on both Windows and Macs. Also supports offline viewing of your sync files even if your machine is turned off.  
    • Sync up to 5GB of data with the your SkyDrive.
    • Sync program settings across all your systems, such as Internet Explorer favorites and Microsoft Office configuration.
  • Remotely connect to your computers (similar to Remote Desktop Connection in Windows), and run programs or browse files on your remote PCs from other locations.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Installing CD/DVD Applications on a Netbook or Windows based Tablet

Note: This procedure is general enough so it can be used for installing any version of software that doesn't incorporate some type of anti-piracy mechanism that comes on an optical disk (e.g. CD or DVD) to a netbook computer or Windows based tablet.

Recently I had to install a legally licensed copy of Microsoft Office that was on a DVD to a netbook computer.  My netbook had no optical drive, so I assumed that I could copy the files to a flash drive and perform the install from there.  Well thats the problem with assuming, it doesn't work most of the time.

If I had bought Office from the Microsoft store I could have downloaded it from there, entered my product key and been fine.  Unfortunately all I had was a store bought DVD version of the software.

Here is what I did, on my desktop computer which has an optical drive.  I right-clicked on the optical drive with the Microsoft Office DVD in it, and shared the drive on my network.  Make sure to note the name of the share (it could like \\computer_name\drive_letter, e.g. \\fred-pc\d).  Grant EVERYONE read access under the Permission button.  Make sure the network profile on the computer sharing the drive was set to Home under the Network and Sharing Center control panel.

On the netbook computer connect to the desktop via its IP address (e.g. \\192.168.0.52\d) because the machine name (e.g. \\fred-pc\d) didn't resolve.  It might ask you to authenticate, so enter the username (e.g. 192.168.0.52\fred or fred-pc\fred) and password.

Friday, April 15, 2011

3TB Hard Drives (and Larger)

The Jason Chronicles reports: "If you try to mount that 3TB (or Larger) hard drives (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) on a computer, you will soon notice that Windows can only address 2.19TB of storage. This is a limitation of the current standard method of storing data on a drive partition that utilizes 32-bit LBA (Logical Block Addressing)."

(Read the rest of the article)

Types of Internet Access

There are several different types of Internet access available. Each of them have various different advantages and disadvantages. Not all of them are available in all areas, so their availability will vary between locations.

This article was created to be a reference for the different types of Internet access. It provides a brief summary of each technology, along with its PROs and CONs.

(Read the article on the site "The Jason Chronicles")

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Commodore 64 Is Making a Comeback



The long-dead Commodore 64 is back—with a vengeance. With a Dual Core 525 Atom processor, the latest Nvidia Ion2 graphics chipset, and the original 1982 clunky beige look, the computer is the company's latest hope as capitalizing on our appetite for new tech and our obsession with retro style. The system is set to take on the beefiest new PC titles and, of course, the classic games that made it a legend. With optional Blu-ray, high-def-TV compatibility, and a wide price range of $250 to $695, the Commodore 64 could be a surprise contender in the gaming-console industry this holiday season.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Windows 7: 3TB Hard Drives (and Larger)

If you try to mount that 3TB (or Larger) hard drives (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) on a computer, you will soon notice that Windows can only address 2.19TB of storage. This is a limitation of the current standard method of storing data on a drive partition that utilizes 32-bit LBA (Logical Block Addressing).
For those who like technical information. LBAs are stored linearly, starting at LBA 0 up to the last address on the device. The amount of LBAs that can be accessed are a function of the type of partition applied to the drive when it was formated.

LBAs under most MBR (Master Boot Record) partitions use 32-bit address values, with the maximum value being 2^32 or 4,294,967,296. Each LBA on the drive corresponds to a 512-byte sector value (this also applies to 4K formated drives, they still appear as 512-byte sector drives to the OS). The largest available 32-bit MBR partitioned drive can be 4,294,967,296 * 512-bytes or 2,199,023,255,552 bytes (or 2.199TB).
To overcome the 2.19TB limition of the 32-bit LBAs, a new partition type was created called GPT (GUID Partition Table) supports 64-bit LBAs. Using 64-bit LBAs, the largest 512-byte sector drive that can be addressed is 9.4ZB (Zettabytes - or 2^70 bytes).

Depending on the age of the computer and the functionality contained in the version of the BIOS that is installed, it may are may not support booting from a partition that is larger then 2.19TB in size. Although, that doesn't mean that you can't create secondary partition that are larger then 2.19TB as long as the hardware (e.g. drive controller and software drivers) and version of OS support it.
Notes:
  • Intel’s Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) the successor to the PC's BIOS supports GPT boot partitions. 
  • All x64 versions of Windows (Windows XP, and higher), Mac OSx, and Linux should support GPT partitions.
If your current x64 OS and hardware doesn't support GPT partitions, you can buy a drive controller that supports the larger GPT drives as long as you have a computer that supports its system requirements.

Amazon Cloud Drive/Player (from 5GB -> 20GB of storage)

If you purchase an MP3 album from the Amazon MP3 Store by December 31, 2011, you can upgrade your Amazon Cloud Drive storage from 5GB (included in the free plan) to 20 GB for 1 year from the date of the album purchase.

To learn more about the:

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Photography: Easy to use and Free Panoramic Image Stitcher

Are you looking for an easy to use and free panoramic image stitching application? Check out Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor), its one of the easiest to use and free panoramic image stitching programs I have found for Windows.

For those that don't know what a panoramic image stitching application does, it takes a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, and creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images. For more information on Microsoft ICE, check out the product page for the application.

System Requirements:
Operating system: XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64-bit)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

New 7″ Tablet PC Up For Pre-Order; Dedicated Mouse Buttons and Touchpad

Tablets Planet reports: "A new Windows 7 tablet PC option is on its way and today you can pre-order a model. The new option comes from a new face to tablets Netbook Navigator, there first entrant in the 7-inch tablet market is the Nav7 Slate PC.
The Nav7, as the title for this post and the numerical figure attached to its name vocalize, is a 7-inch tablet. The screen on the Nav7 features a native resolution of WSVGA (1024x600) and the LCD does have capacitive multi-touch support."

Microsoft releases Windows Home Server 2011

CNET News reports: "The official version of Windows Home Server 2011, codenamed Vail, comes almost a year after the beta was released and close to two months since the release candidate made its debut.
Using the same core operating system as Windows Server 2008 R2, the new version is designed for people who need to juggle multiple PCs, home networks, and an ever growing amount of photos, music, videos, and other hefty content. Running Windows Home Server on a dedicated PC, users can set up network shares to access all their data, back up their networked PCs, remotely access their files, and stream their music and videos. The software offers a central dashboard for people to run the various administrative tasks."

Remove Comcast's Bandwidth Cap (Legally)

Did you know that your Comcast's bandwidth is capped at 250GB per month?  In the old days, most Internet packages were "all you can eat" (unlimited) bandwidth.

Now because of technologies like Netflix streaming and Bittorrent, ISP's (Internet Service Providers) feel that they have to cap the bandwidth to prevent a small segment of their user population (generally around 2%) from using excessive amounts of data.

I have to admit the answer to this question of removing Comcast's bandwidth cap is under whelming, but if you use a lot bandwidth and you need another option. Then for a few dollars more then Comcast's regular Internet package (which is currently starting about $45 per month, not including taxes and equipment rental) you can order the Comcast's Starter Business Class package (which is currently starting about $60 per month, not including taxes and equipment rental).

Comcast's Starter Business Class package offers unlimited bandwidth with no caps, plus it includes a few extra perks that may or may not be useful to you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unofficial Windows App Store

Ever since Apple popularized the concept of the App Store on the iPhone, it seems like every platform wants one. Windows doesn't have its own official app store, but there's a site called "All My Apps" that tries to fill this void.

  • Download free and paid applications, all 100% legal
  • Share applications with friends and family.
  • Keep your applications up-to-date using this service.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Windows 7: Alternate IP Address Configuration

Laptop computers often have to connect to multiple network (e.g. home, office, retail, etc.). In the past If one of the networks required a static IP address, while the other networks assigned addresses via DHCP you had to manually change the TCP/IP properties every time you switched networks. Since Windows Vista, you now have the ability to setup an alternate IP address configuration.

  • In the Start menu search field, type Network Connections and select View network connections.
  • In the Network Connections window, right-click a connection that needs an alternate IP address configuration (e.g., Local Area Connection) and select Properties.
  • In the Properties dialog box, on the Networking tab, scroll down and click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP v4) and press the Properties button.
  • In the General tab, enter the information for the main network you use (such as a static IP, subnet mask, default gateway and DNS server information).
  • Click the Alternate Configuration tab, then click Automatic Private IP Address so the computer will obtain an IP address via DHCP.
  • Press OK button twice to close the dialog boxes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Testing IPv6 Connectivity

You may have heard our old friend IPv4, the protocol that handles most of the data moving across the Internet and its 4.3 billion addresses are now depleted (for more information see, Wikipedia "IPv4 address exhaustion").

Is this the end of the Internet? The answer is no, but it will force us to move to the next generation of the Internet protocol known as IPv6 sooner then later.

Recently I started playing with IPv6 on my Windows 7 client, behind my router.  After doing some research I discovered that every modern operating systems should support IPv6.  Although how its enabled will vary between operating systems.  For example Windows 7 has IPv6 enabled by default, and so do other OS.

When I bought my router one of the requirements was that it supported IPv6.  I enable the IPv6 auto-detect feature on my router to see what would happen, and discovered that my ISP supported a IPv6 transition technology called "6to4 Tunnel".

There are a few different IPv6 transition technologies, the "6to4 Tunnel" is able to encapsulate IPv6 packets within IPv4.  Basically what it is does is take one type of network data (e.g. IPv6) and translate to another type of network data (e.g. IPv4).

Soon after that feature was enabled on the router my OS and browser started to access IPv6 web sites, such as http://ipv6.google.com.

Find out your IPv6 readiness

The site http://test-ipv6.com  runs a series of IPv4 and IPv6 browser, connectivity, and DNS tests against your computer and connection to find out if you're IPv6 ready.



IPv6 Checklist

Below is a checklist of items that you have to have in order to use IPv6 on your computer and network.

  • An operating System that supports IPv6 
    • Windows Vista and above, and most current versions of Linux and Mac OS X).
  • A router appliance (commercial or consumer) that supports IPv6.
    • Most modern routers  support IPv6, older models may require firmware update if available (check hardware manufacture's web site for more information).
  • An ISP with IPv6 protocol and DNS support.
    • IPv6 readiness will vary between companies.  Contact your ISP to find out the type of IPv6 support they offer.
    • If you're ISP doesn't support IPv6 you can use an IPv6 Tunnel Broker like Hurricane Electric to allow your computer to access the IPv6 Internet.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 is Now Available

On March 14, 2011 Microsoft officially released Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) to the general public.  Some of the new features of IE9 include support for HTML5 video and audio, CSS 3, embedded ICC color profiles improved JavaScript performance, and the Web Open Font Format.  Other features include, hardware-accelerated graphics, video, and text rendering.

Some of the new user interface enhancements include:

  • A compact user interface.
  • Pinned Sites: Integrates with the Windows 7 taskbar to make web site experience more like an application. 
  • Security-enabled Download Manager: File transfers and can pause and resume downloads and alerts if a file may be malicious.
  • Enhanced Tabs: the new tab page can show most visited sites.
  • Add-on Performance Advisor: Shows add-ons that may be slowing down the browser's performance, and allows them to be disabled or removed.

IE9 will only be available for Windows 7, Vista, and Server 2008 (for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions).