Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Quick Reco’s..

A few items worthy of your consideration.

* Proposed amendments to ECPA would make Orwell squirm

George Orwell wrote his famous book about Big Brother in 1948. What would he think about the Electronic Communications Privacy Act? Changes to the act are being voted on this week in the U.S. Senate.Read more..

Computers (and “high tech”) are fundamentally changing.

* Windows 8: It’s only one part of Microsoft’s brave new world

Just how do you completely rebuild a company? Windows 8 is important but it’s just one step towards the future for Microsoft.” Read more..

* A new checkbox (aka “option”, aka “setting”) Skype users may want to un-check..

They snuck that in during an “update”…

* Do you have more than one “device” on your network? Free, from Sophos: Network Security Scan

Scan for threats on your network — up to 200 machines

  • Finds viruses and other threats your antivirus missed
  • Works alongside your existing antivirus
  • Includes free security updates for 30 days

See all the threats on your network

Want to see what your current software might have missed? Try our free scan on up to 200 computers.

It’ll find malware, suspicious devices and apps

You’ll be able to see threats in all their forms. It could be removable media, games or other peer-to-peer software that are your biggest risks. Read more/download..

* Photographers, I recently came across two websites anyone thinking about buying a digital camera should (IMHO) take a look at:

* Cyber Monday: Can The Internet Be Taken Down By Massive DDoS Attacks?

 “A security expert from Arbor Networks says bandwidth and performance increases combined with increased sizes of botnets have got service providers worried that large scale DDoS attacks could cause massive Internet interruptions.Read more..

(… I won’t tell you about the planned hacker “blitzkrieg” attack on US banks… But you can ‘google it’..)

Today’s quote:Today, you always know whether you are on the Internet or on your PC’s hard drive. Tomorrow, you will not care and may not even know.” ~ Bill Gates

(Sorry, Bill, but I will care [and I will know] ‘cuz I’m not a sheeple.)

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

November 27, 2012 Posted by | advice, cloud computing, computers, consumer electronics, Internet, News, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speed Up Your Camera — Kill the Logo

Digital cameras truly are a modern marvel. They’re quick, highly portable, easy to use, and produce instant results. You can use one pretty much any time, anywhere.

And with digital images, you don’t have to hide away in a dark closet and handle noxious chemicals to crop and edit your prints. Now, we eliminate red-eye, and fix contrast, etc., with the click of the mouse.

As I wrote in Digital Cameras and You, the convenience and quality of digital cameras has all but done away with 35mm film.

Tip of the day: Speed up your digital camera’s boot time by disabling the splashscreen.

Almost every digital camera displays some kind of company logo when you turn it on. This is wasted time and energy that does nothing but slow you down.. and might even make you miss your shot. If your make/model allows it, (and most do) turn this “feature” off.

The exact method will vary from camera to camera, but typically the option you are looking for is in the General Settings area of the main menu.
The phrasing may be “show” or “enable”, and you want to un-select this. And, it may be labeled “welcome screen” or “splashscreen”, or even, “startup screen”.
(If you just cannot locate the menu option, consult the manufacturer’s Website.)

This quick settings change, will give you a faster power-up, and allow you to be more responsive in your picture taking.

For those of you shopping for a new digital camera, you might want to read my article, Digital cameras– which one’s for you?

Today’s free download: (repeat) One of the best free programs for working with your digital images– resizing, cropping, eliminating red-eye, color-adjusting, etc.– is Paint.NET.
You can also find helpful tutorials here.

Copyright 2007-8 ©: Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 11, 2008 Posted by | advice, Digital camera, Digital Images, gadgets, hardware, how to, tech, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Digital cameras and you

Not too long ago, I mentioned my friend who was preparing to travel; and told you that for the first time he was going to leave behind his 35mm (film) camera gear, and take only a digital camera (see Mondays: love ’em or leave ’em). For the first time, he was going to leave at home his lenses, flash unit, filters, different speed/type film rolls, etc., and carry a single unit.. with a couple of spare memory chips.

I also mentioned that he is the type of fella who does extensive research before making a purchase, like a camera, and I can tell you he bought a pretty fancy digital camera for his trip.. and we’re not talking about a “pocket camera”. But, we’re not talking about an SLR (single-lens reflex) and a whole bunch of accessories, either. I won’t name a specific camera here, but I will say that his choice had 12x zoom, electronic image stabilization, and a nice, large, LCD viewer. When I held it in my hand, I was pleasantly surprised by its comfort and light weight.

No sooner had my friend returned from his travels abroad, then he was at my door with his memory chips containing his pictures, in hand. He knows about my previous life as a professional retouch artist, and he wanted my help with culling, cropping, and color-balancing (etc.), and burning the ‘good ones’ to a slide show on  a CD.

And so I got a very good look at his “product”, and vicariously traveled abroad with him as he narrated the history of each and every shot.. much like a new father describes the wondrous attributes of his first-born. There were several things that impressed us:

I, being an old hand at professional photography, was impressed by the image quality this digital camera produced. No. The pictures weren’t Hasseleblad-quality, but the resolution, color depth and saturation, and depth of field were all remarkably good.. even when enlarged to fill my 20″ monitor. All of my color “balancing” tweaks were quite optional, and I only did two at that.

He, being new to digital imaging, was blown away by how easily and quickly he could edit the shots, put them into the order he wanted, and create a portable slide show he could carry on a thumb drive (I haven’t yet told him about online “albums”.. he was too busy trying to absorb the wonders of Photoshop) or CD. SlideProjector
He had a finished, quality slide show to present to his friends and family in a matter of a few hours — he was used to it taking weeks to assemble, and for him to have to carry around a projector and carousel trays.

Yes.. technology is changing everything. I can no longer be a film-camera snob, and badmouth digital cameras as being inherently inferior. My friend did not break the bank buying his camera, and his choice was roughly in the low end of the middle-grade of digital cameras, if you include SLR’s, and on the higher end of the scale if you limit your choices to point-and-shoot’s. (He spent under $500, including several extra high-capacity Flash Memory chips.)

And, as this tale illustrates, there’s no comparison in the speed and convenience of digital imaging.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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April 23, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Digital Images, hardware, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mondays: love ’em or leave ’em

One of the advantages you will gain when you elect me Exalted Supreme Dictator is that one of my first acts will be to abolish DST (daylight savings time), because I don’t like it.. and we don’t need it anymore. The primary purpose of DST is to to get the highest possible output from our factories in times of war. But we don’t have factories any more. All of our manufacturing factories are in China. All we do is sell (and buy) things.. and (rarely) service things.. which we do around the clock already.
There ain’t one good reason to keep messing with the clocks and I would end the practice (I would also abolish “erectile dysfunction” and “feminine hygiene” advertising on television) so remember folks, vote early and vote often.

Complete change of subject: High Tech changes everything. I was chewing the fat with a friend who is thinking about buying a new camera for an upcoming trip he’s taking (he’s one of those fellows who researches the heck out of any ‘major’ purchase and reads every review). This is the first time he’s thinking about buying a digital camera “good enough” that he can leave his film cameras at home.
He told me of something I had predicted, but had missed in the news– Kodak no longer processes Kodachrome. (In fact, I could only locate two places that still do, and one of them is in Switzerland.)

I have not shared this fact with you before, Dear Reader, but in one of my former lives I was a photography student. I have spent countless hours in darkrooms, and I know a thing or two about film. For instance, I can tell you that Kodachrome was Kodak’s flagship product, and the film by which other films were compared. Apparently, Kodachrome is not dead.. but it’s on life support.. and the Chaplain’s standing by.

Is it safe to say that film, in general, is on the way out? Just for giggles, I looked to see what my old camera gear is selling for on eBay. Now, my stuff isn’t shabby, mind you, and I have all the extras an aspiring photographer would want.. but it is all 35mm film gear and it is not worth squat. Cheaper to keep it than to try to unload it, practically-speaking.
I look back with semi-fond memories of my time spent in darkrooms (a nostalgia for my lost youth) but let’s be practical and realistic: processing film requires odoriferous and bio-unfriendly chemicals (which get rinsed down the drain) and it’s expensive. Even “fast” processing takes one hour, and slides (remember Family Slide-shows?) take days. Going digital does away with all that. Digital photography (with very few exceptions) is better in every way than film.. and you don’t have to pretend to be a photographer to be antisocial and hide yourself away any more.. being a shut-in is ‘normal’ now-a-days.

Complete change of subject: Speaking of nostalgia for my lost youth.. I read in the paper that Gary Gygax had passed away. You may not have heard of Gary, but you probably have heard of his invention — a little game called Dungeons & Dragons.

Over the years “D and D” had become synonymous with “geeky dork”, and people who got really involved with the game were considered to be.. well, um, er.. rejects. In our social consciousness, when we think of computer nerds (aka “geeks”) it is fairly common also think of D&D, and Star Trek. (There are, in fact, valid reasons for this.)
As it is that I am a computer nerd, I suppose it won’t shock you to learn, Dear Reader, that many life times ago I got into D&D in a big way, and spent countless hours “fantasy role-playing”. I was a durned-good Dungeon Master, if I do say so myself. It was the game of my generation.

Gary (and his friends) invented the first game that you didn’t play on a board (aka “boardgame”), but played with a pencil and paper, 20-sided dice, and your imagination. Dungeons & Dragons became a phenomenon, and changed the way we play games forever. Its legacies are still with us today in a whole genre of games and video games.. most notably in the enormously popular MMORPG World of Warcraft.. which has several million players, located all over the world.

So, if you pass your company’s IT dork in the hallways today, and he seems a little down, it may be that he’s in mourning. I know I am. (Yes. I know. Not all IT dorks are male. I’m just tired of typing “he or she”.)

Tip of the day: It has been a month since I have reminded you, Dear Reader, to defrag your machine. Eliminating your file system’s fragmentation will give you a peppier machine. For my How To on defragmentation, click here.

Today’s free link: Every now and then it can be handy to be able to draw 3D versions of your home.. and maybe move the furniture around to see what a redo of your decor will look like. There are many 3D architect programs available, but an excellent free one is Sweet Home 3D available from the good folks at SourceForge.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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March 10, 2008 Posted by | Gaming, tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment