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Nov 29, 2007

Free Email Hosting From Google?

Man oh man! Every time I turn around I am finding out another cool free thing from Google! I just don't understand how these guys stay in business. They offer some of the coolest apps, and services all for free!

(Yes I know, I know, they make money from advertising, I don't want to hear about it in the comments.)

This particular service I just crawled out from under a rock and discovered is Googles Apps. I guess I never noticed it before because the name isn't very descriptive of what it really is.

According to the Google Apps page, this services lets you:

Communicate...
Give your users Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk accounts that use your own custom domain, helping them to stay connected and work together more effectively. New! IMAP support for Gmail

Collaborate and publish...
Google Docs lets users share files and collaborate in real-time. The Start Page is the first place your users will look to preview their inboxes and calendars, access your essential content, and search the web.

...and get on with business.
It's all hosted by Google, so there's no hardware or software to install or download, and minimal setup and maintenance. You can get up and running quickly, even if you don't have technical resources.



Did you hear that? FREE custom email, and collaboration tools using your domain name! How friggin' awesome is that? Think about it, just the email functionality alone. If you buy a domain name from Godaddy, and want them to host your email, at their cheapest plan you get one measly email address, with only 25MB of storage for $9.99 per year. With Google Apps, you get 100 email addresses, 5GB of storage per address, you get to put your logo on it, and use your domain name all for FREE!



Not to mention other cool stuff like custom calendar, docs page, and my favorite, your own personal iGoogle like start page. Check out mine: http://start.bauer-power.net.

Check it out for yourself! If you own a domain, then their isn't really a reason not to have your own custom email address any more!

How to Fix The Free/Busy Fiasco in Outlook

I had a user today who said she could open a shared calendar in Outlook, but when she did she would get the following error:

"Can't open this item. Unable to open the free/busy information."


If you are seeing this, then you have two options that I have found:

Option One:

  • Have the user whose calendar you wish to open close out of Outlook.
  • Click on Start > Run and type in the following:
    outlook.exe /cleanfreebusy

If that doesn't fix the problem, then you have to move on to Option Two, which is:

  • On the user's computer whose calendar you wish to view, download MfcMapi.exe from Microsoft.com
  • Run MfcMapi.exe, then click on Session > Logon and Display Store Table
  • Select the profile of the person whose calendar you wish to view
  • Double click on the line that says "Mailbox-"
  • Expand Root Container
  • Expand Top of Information Store
  • Click on Inbox
  • Now in the right windows look for PR_FREEBUSY_ENTRYIDS, right click on it and select Delete Property.
  • Close out of MfcMapi.exe
  • Now repeat option One from above.

The corrupt free/busy issue should now be resolved.

The EFF Is Fighting for Your Downloads!

I recently read an associated press article that said that one of my favorite watch dog groups was once again fighting for our rights as free internet surfers! That group is the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation).

The EFF has written a pretty descriptive "How-To" article on using the freely available network packet sniffer Wireshark to test if your ISP is using packet injection techniques to disrupt your internet operations.

From the EFF website:

In May 2007, Comcast began engaging in protocol-specific interference with the activities of its subscribers. When confronted by users and by EFF, Comcast responded with denials and answers that told less than the whole story. In October 2007, however, after independent testing by the Associated Press and EFF, it became clear that Comcast is, in fact, interfering with BitTorrent, Gnutella, and potentially other common file sharing protocols employed by millions of Internet users. In specific, it appears that Comcast is injecting forged RST packets into TCP communications, in an effort to disrupt certain protocols commonly used for file-sharing. The interference efforts appear to be triggered by the protocol that a subscriber uses, not by the number of connections made or amount of bandwidth used by the subscriber.


To view the EFF's guide to using Wireshark so you can fight back click here: (EFF Wireshark Guide)

I am the Robot

If I want to terrorize my two year old, I walk around the house in my best Robo Cop walk saying in a robot voice, "I am the robot daddy."

She of course runs away saying, "don't say that daddy!" It's fun to mess with her a little, you know, to give her a sense of humor (I of course say that now, but I won't when she bills me for her therapy sessions when she's older).

So I am stumbling around the internet today and I find a website that will let you type in a phrase, and a computer voice will read it. The site will then let you download the robot recording of whatever you typed in in MP3 format. Here's mine for example: (Robot Recording)

The site that does this is called VozMe. They say on their site that you can use this to put a voice on your website. Honestly, I really don't see a need for this, but it is something to do when you are bored for a few minutes.

The site offers recordings in English, Spanish and Italian. They also offer their service as a gadget for iGoogle. Check them out when you have a minute or two to kill.

Nov 28, 2007

When Windows XP SP3 Update Fails

Hello readers! If you have been hanging around the last few days you know that I recently posted an article about how to get Service Pack 3 RC1 for Windows XP. I'm sure that 98% of you had no problems at all with the install.

If you are like me though and like to customize your Windows XP box, you may have had problems. What I like to do is install Style XP on my computer and use a custom boot screen. (My favorite is my own Bauer-Power boot screen). When you do that, Style XP backs up the original Windows kernel file, and sets up their own custom one so you can use a custom boot screen.

Well, if you do that, or something similar, when you do your Windows update to get Windows XP Service Pack 3, Microsoft checks to make sure that you don't have any modified system files that may cause the install to fail, or jack up your computer. The error I got was:

Installation Failure

Error Code: 0x8007F0CC
Try to install the update again, or request help from one of the following resources.

For self-help options:

Frequently Asked Questions
Find Solutions
Windows Update Newsgroup

For assisted support options:

Microsoft Online Assisted Support (no-cost for issues related to getting updates)




To fix it I had to go into Style XP's bootscreen options and reset the kernel file, and boot.ini file and reboot once. After that the install was smooth.

If you don't have Style XP, but your files are modified, you might want to try system file checker, or run the repair installation from the Windows XP CD before upgrading to Service Pack 3.

Has anyone else out there had problems with WinXP SP3? Hit me up in the comments.

You've Got 'Doggie-Mail'

If you're hearing dogs talk to you, don't panic. It may only be your e-mail.

Petcentric.com, a Web site devoted to information and stories about pets, recently introduced a feature called "Doggie-Mail," an interactive service that allows dog lovers to send free e-mail messages in the voice of their very own customized canine.


When visitors log on to the site, they can choose one of three animated dogs to convey their message and then customize the character's wardrobe, props and scene. They can choose to deck out their dog in a cowboy hat and dress shirt, or jazz up the pooch's panache with a feather boa and sunglasses. They can then pick a variety of backdrops for the dog, including a dude ranch or a festive Hawaiian beach.


After choosing a dog and customizing its outfit, users select a prerecorded message for the dog to speak, or type in their own message and choose a voice to accompany it. Petcentric.com also offers a toll-free number where users can record a message in their own voice. Once the e-mail has been customized, they can send the talking dog and its message to as many friends as they like.


Visitors to the site can also watch clips of actor and author John O'Hurley reading excerpts from his new book "It's Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump: And Other Life Lessons I Learned from Dogs."


"Dogs bring out a host of emotions in us," said O'Hurley, "not the least of which is humor."


For more information or to start using Doggie-Mail, visit www.petcentric.com. The site also contains a gallery of pet photos submitted by subscribers, feature articles, product and book reviews and other pet-related content.- (NewsUSA)

Nov 27, 2007

Youtube to Mpeg Direct

A few months ago I posted an article on one method to download your favorite Youtube video's, and then convert them to mpeg. That was just too long of a process for me. I'm an American, and we like things quick, easy and convenient. Why do you thing there are McDonalds and Starbucks on every street corner here?

Anyway, there are many online websites that convert Youtube, Metacafe, Break, Google Video, etc to mpeg and let you download them directly. One of them I found via Propeller is called http://vixy.net. This lets you download directly to MPG, AVI, MOV, MP4, 3GP etc all online.

Another cool program I found on Softpedia, is called Save2PC Light. I actually like this better than the online one. The online downloader seemed to take way too long converting the videos from flv format to mpeg. Save2PC downloaded the video I wanted in only a few seconds.

My previous method was a two part process of downloading the flv file, then using another program to convert flv to mpeg. Way too long in my opinion. Using either the online method from Vixy, or installing Save2PC Light can save you time when snagging video clips from your favorite websites.

Nov 26, 2007

How And Why To Wipe Disk Drives

Computers have become more widespread than ever, with every business and organization usually relying to some extent on these information machines. They facilitate the performance of many otherwise tedious tasks within any organization, and really help to boost productivity.

For instance, there are programs called word processors for creating any sort of printed communication, from letters to memorandums. There are also programs called spreadsheets that can perform calculations and display data and results in tables and graphs.

There is also software available for making databases, which are organized collections of data such as transaction information, employee information, and so on. These databases make it easy to store important information in an easily accessible form.

Sometimes, confidential information might need to be stored digitally, in some form or other. When this is the case, there are usually built-in security measures to help keep the precious data protected. However, it might arise that a hard disk would be reallocated, or that the computer itself would be transferred to some other use.

In this case, it becomes necessary to completely wipe the disk; that is, delete all the information on the disk, along with any traces that might be used to reconstruct this information. This is good computing practice, even for non-critical hard disks. Wiping down a hard disk does not take much effort, nowadays, since there are programs and the like available to do it for you. Getting used to wiping down hard disks to be deleted completely costs virtually nothing in the way of money or effort but pays off in the formation of a useful habit.

There are disk wipe programs available designed for big businesses that might need to do it in large batches. These programs have features that make it easier to keep track of the many hard disk volumes to be wiped. Some can even automatically retrieve and store serial numbers, for instance to comply with legal requirements.

Users of personal computers may also sometimes find it necessary to completely erase the data on their hard disks. When selling an old computer, for instance, it would be a good precaution to do a complete wipe-out of the data to prevent any possible identity theft.

Simply deleting all files (using the current operating system, for example) may not be secure enough. There are known ways to recover data from a hard disk that has not been wiped cleanly enough. The traces of data that remain in some "deleted' hard disks are sometimes enough to be analyzed and used to reconstruct pieces of information presumed lost.

Apart from security purposes, using these disk wipers can also help when reinstalling an operating system. For systems that are heavily infected with viruses and other malicious software, a complete disk wipe and clean reinstall may be the more convenient solution.

There are both free and commercial applications available for wiping disks. Commercial ones are of course not free, but usually technical support for these are readily available. It becomes a matter of choice whether to select a cost-free but unsupported disk wipe program over a commercial program, or vice versa.

By: Sam Miller

[EDIT BY El Di Pablo]: For a good secure Free Disk Wiper, you can use Derek's Boot and Nuke, available on the Ultimate Boot CD.

Article Source: ArticleBase.com

Get Windows XP Service Pack 3 RC1

Hello everyone, I hope you had a good holiday weekend, didn't eat too much turkey, and survived black Friday. I know personally I am now at least 20lbs heavier (Damn my wife is a good cook!)

Anyway, I found this cool registry hack to make Windows XP Service pack 3 available in Windows Update. Full credit is due to DailyApps.net where I found this script, which you can download here: (Windows XP SP3 Hack)

The script deletes an old Windows update registry key, then ads a key option for the the latest release candidate.



From DailyApps:

Please note this hack is the exact way Microsoft expects its beta testers to try Windows XP SP3 out, so you don’t have to worry too much about Microsoft catching hold of you.


Just download it, run the script, and check online for windows updates. If you don't see the option for Service Pack 3, reboot once and try it again. Let me know how it turns out for you in the comments!.

Nov 25, 2007

Buying Guide to Graphics Cards

The graphics card is a vital performance component of your computer, particularly if you play 3D games, or work with graphics and video content. The graphics card sits in an expansion card slot in your PC and it is specifically designed to process image data and output it to your monitor, enabling you to see it. A graphics card works by calculating how images appear, particularly 3D images, and renders them to the screen. 3D images and video images take a lot of processing capacity, and many graphics processors are complex, require fans to cool them and need direct power supply. The graphics card consists of a graphics processor, a memory chip for graphics operations, and a RAMDAC for display output. It may also include video capture, TV output and SLI and other functions. You can find the graphics card that suits you by comparing specification between brands and vendors on Myshopping.com.au

At Myshopping.com.au you can compare a great range of appliances, and assess them according to their specifications, brands, prices and vendors.

Graphics Cards

What are your needs?

The first decision you need to make is whether you need a graphics card for handling 3D images or whether you are simply requiring 2D image rendering. For 2D requirements, you need only a low-cost solution. In many cases, an integrated graphics solution will suffice for 2D applications.

However with 3D graphics, the performance of the graphics card will impact directly on the frame rate and image quality of 3D programs and games. The differences between the low and high-end cards can be substantial, both in cost and performance.

Rendering 3D graphics is like lighting a stage, both the geometry of the shapes in question and the lighting of it need to be taken into account. The geometry of an image calculates the parts of an object that can and can\'t be seen, the position of the eye and its perspective. The lighting is a calculation of the direction of the light sources, their intensities and the respective shadows that occur. The second part to presenting a 3D image is the rendering of colours and textures to the surfaces of the objects, and modifying them according to light and other factors.

Most modern graphics cards include a small microchip called the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), which are provide the algorithms and memory to process complex images. They reduce the workload of the main CPU, and provide faster processing. Different graphics cards have different capabilities in terms of processing power. They can render and refresh images up to 60 or more times per second, calculate shadows quickly, create image depth by rendering distant objects at low resolution, modify surface textures fluidly and eliminate pixelation.

What Specifications to Consider

Processor clock speed

This impacts on the rendering capability of the GRU. The clock speed itself is not the critical factor. Rather it is the per-clock performance of the graphics processor, which is indicated by the number of pixels it can process per clock cycle.

Memory size

This is the memory capacity that is used exclusively for graphics operations, and can be as much as 512MB. The more demanding your graphics applications are, the better you will be served with more memory on your graphics card.

16-32M
64M
128M
256M
512M
640M and more

Memory bandwidth

One thing that can slow down 3D graphics performance is the speed at which the computer delivers information to the graphics processor. A higher bandwidth means a faster data transfer, resulting in faster rendering speeds.

Shader model

DirectX Shader Models allows developers control over the appearance of an image as it is rendered on screen, introducing visual effects like multi-layered shadows, reflection and fog.

Fill rate

This is the speed at an image can be rendered or \"painted\". This rate is specified in texels per second, the number of 3D pixels that can be painted per second. A texel is a pixel with depth (3D). The fill rate comes from the combined performance of the clock speed of the processor and the number of pixels it can process per clock cycle, and will tell you how quickly an image can be fully rendered on screen.

Vertices/triangles

Graphics chips don\'t work on curves, rather they process flat surfaces. A curve is created by multiple flat planes arranged to look like a curve. 3D objects are created with multiple triangular surfaces, sometimes hundreds or even thousands, tessellated to represent the curves and angles of the real world. 3D artists are concerned with the number of polygons required to form a shape. There are two different types of specification: vertices per second (I.e., angles the triangles), and triangles per second. To compare one measure with the other, you have to take into account the fact that adjacent triangles share vertices.

Anti-aliasing

A technique used to smooth images by reducing the jagged stepping effect caused by diagonal lines and square pixels. Different levels of anti-aliasing have different effects on performance.

RAMDAC

The Random Access Memory Digital to Analogue Converter takes the image data and converts it to a format that your screen can use. A faster RAMDAC means that the graphics card can support higher output resolutions. Some cards have multiple RAMDACs allowing that card to support multiple displays.

TV-out

Some graphics cards provide the option to connect a television via either a composite (RCA) or S-Video connector. TV Out

S-video Out

S-video In and S-video Out (VIVO)
YPbPr Connection for HDTV

DVI

Some graphics cards include a connector for DVI monitors, handy because a lot of LCD screens support DVI. DVI offers better image quality than the standard VGA connector.

Dual-head

Dual-head is a term used when two monitors are used side by side, stretching your desktop across both.

SLI (Scalable Link Interface.)

With SLI you can couple two graphics cards in your computer, enabling each card to take half the rendering thereby doubling the performance.

When considering your graphics card, it pays to think about how much you need your computer to process your graphics output. Using a high end graphics card with a high pixels per clock rating, large memory, fast processor and other features means that you can run the latest games efficiently, or work in intensive graphics development.

Different Models

While there are many vendors of graphics cards, there are actually only two major manufacturers of chips for graphics cards. Nearly every graphics card on the market features a chip manufactured by either ATI or Nvidia. Cards using the same graphics chip will perform roughly the same as each other. However, even though they use the same chip, some feature slightly higher clock speeds, as well as manufacturer guaranteed overclocking-an even higher clock speed than that specified. Other factors that will influence your decision should include the amount of memory a card has (128MB, 256MB, 512MB) and its additional features, such as TV-Out and dual-screen support.

Use the search facilities at Myshopping.com.au to compare the features, prices and vendors of graphics cards.


By: Andrew Gates

Andrew Gates is a writer for Australian comparison shopping site http://MyShopping.com.au. Smart shoppers can save time, money and effort here. This site serves your need for online shopping and shopping in Australia.

Find Email Passwords Using Ettercap

I was surfing the internet today and came upon a video from Sclipo.com on how to find a password for someone's online email account using Ettercap, which is a linux utility that, according to the Ettercap website, "is a multipurpose sniffer/interceptor/logger for switched LAN. It supports active and passive dissection of many protocols (even ciphered ones)"

Ettercap comes pre-installed on the Backtrack live CD which is what the guy in the video uses.

One thing I find particularly interesting is that the guy finds the password for a Gmail account where the login page is encrypted using SSL. Check it out!

Picking Older Master Combo Locks

A few weeks back I posted a video I found on Youtube on how to make a padlock shim from an aluminum can to open padlocks.

Well I was looking around my bookshelf at home and came across something I downloaded a few years ago and decided to take it out to thumb through. It is the Anarchy Cookbook 2000 by The Jolly Roger. There is some really nasty looking stuff in this book, and most of it WILL get you into some serious trouble with the law, so be careful what you decide to test out in it.

Anyway, one of the things in there is how to find the combination for Master Padlocks.

According to the ACB2K, Master has since fixed this security flaw, so this most likely will only work on padlocks made by cheaper companies, or Master locks older than 2000. The good news is that lots of people don't know about this, so they probably haven't replaced their padlocks with new ones (i.e. high schools, or junior high schools).

Anyway, the idea behind this is that Master originally designed the locks to stop turning if you pulled on the clasp. This is the key to finding the combo.

To find the first number, pull on the clasp while turning the dial counter clockwise. When it stops and will not run any more, you add five to that number and that gives you your first number.

To find the second number, spin the dial around a few times then go to the first number you got. Now spin the dial clockwise, and bypass the first number once. As soon as you bypass the first number start pulling on the clasp and keep spinning slowly. The ACB2K then says, "The knob will eventually fall into the groove on the lock. While in the groove, pull the clasp and turn the knob. If the knob is loose, go to the next groove, if the knob is stiff, you have the second number of the combination."

Finally, to find the last number of the combination, spin the dial several times to clear it out. Once cleared, spin the dial and enter the first two numbers.Now slowly spin the dial to the right and pull up on the clasp at each number. The lock will eventually open if everything was done correctly.

I haven't tested this one out personally, but if anyone has I would love to know about it in the comments. I would also love to hear if anyone has tested out anything else in the book. (Yes, you can post anonymously)

Protecting Your Computer From Power Surges

Computers today consistently pack more power for the dollar than models just a few years old. Faster processing and greater storage has become the norm.

That's good news for value-conscious consumers, but can lull home users into poor practices. With hardware and computer memory so inexpensive, why worry about power surges?

Protection of data is why. As computers have become cheaper, they are being used for more tasks - online banking, online tax filing, financial spreadsheets, storing irreplaceable family photographs, personal address books, family Web pages and more.

Officials with World Energy Solutions, an energy services company based in St. Petersburg, Fla., note that home computer users should protect their computer equipment and data by using the same practices employed by professional information systems managers: data backup, installation of anti-spyware and protection from power surges.

While nature provides the most spectacular surges in the form of lightning, the power company's attempts to handle brownouts, damage to transmission equipment from construction accidents, even household appliances cycling on and off, can create damaging surges. Further, "noise" in AC lines from electric razors, fluorescent lamps and dimmer switches can harm computers.

Point-of-use surge suppressors such as E-Clips offer good protection from most surges except direct lightning strikes. (Damage from such catastrophic strikes can be minimized with proper house grounding and professional installation of surge arrestors outside the house and panel protectors on the electrical panel inside the home.)

When shopping for a plug-in surge suppressor, check to see that the product:

  • is manufactured to meet Underwriters Laboratories 1449 standard;


  • possesses a UL rating of 330 volts (representing the average voltage the device is supposed to allow through);


  • offers "round-robin protection" between each of the three wires in an electrical circuit - hot, neutral and ground;


  • is "thermally-fused," which means the device will shut off if it overheats.

Data lines, telephone lines and coaxial cables should be protected from surges as well.

World Energy Solutions provides more information on surge protection at www.eclipspts.com or by phone at 800-526-1556. World Energy Solutions is a publicly traded company under the symbol WEGY on the NASDAQ OTCBB.- (NewsUSA)

Nov 24, 2007

Something Cool About Gmail

I was stumbling around online when I came across an article on makeuseof.com that pointed out a pretty cool feature I never realized about gmail, the Google email service.

You can take almost any variation of your email address and alter it slightly and it will still magically get to you!

For example, lets say your email address is bauerpower@gmail.com. If you change it in any number of ways using periods such as bauer.power@gmail.com, or b.auerpower@gmail.com, or b.a.u.e.r.p.o.w.e.r@gmail.com, you will still get your email.

Another way you can modify it is by adding whatever you want after a + sign. For example, bauerpower+is_a_kick_ass_blog@gmail.com, and it will still work!

You might not need to do this, and you may even mark this down as useless knowledge item number 84, but it is still pretty interesting. Make Use Of suggests using it to track spam, or make changes depending on purpose suck as work, school, etc.

Do you know of any other secret gmail tips, or features? Let us know in the comments!

Where's The Best Place for Adsense?

As you probably have noticed I have been placing Google Adsense up on Bauer-Power to sort of monetize my blogging hobby a bit. I apologist if it turns some of you off a little, and I'm sorry if some of you think I'm a sell-out, but lets face it, money makes the world go round, and I have some free space I can sell for some spare change.

Anyway, I have experimented with Adsense and other advertising companies a little in the past and didn't really have too much success with them. This time around I decided I should do some research on some strategies and perhaps I would do a little better.

One of the things I happened upon was the Google "Adsense heat" chart which shows where the best places on a website do the best statistically. To the right is a copy of the heat chart. As you no doubt have guessed, the darker area's are where the ads do the best.

Since making some slight modifications around here (I.E. Parsing the HTML code for XML to place into the site code) I have managed to place some of my ads in better locations.

The place I learned to do this from was My Digital Life, in their post about adding advertising code directly into the blogger template.

Since making these changes I can tell you that there has been a dramatic increase in Adsense numbers. These techniques really do work, and I recommend doing it right away.

For those of you who don't like it so much, once again I am sorry, but I guess you should have purchased some Bauer-Power Gear. If you had, I wouldn't need Google to supplement my expenses ;-)

How Do Computers Work?

The average person who uses a personal computer on a frequent basis doesn't think about what happens inside a personal computer once the electricity is switched on. As long as their version of MS Windows pops up within a few seconds, most people are quite happy to continue on with what they want to do on their personal computer. A personal computer goes through many processes from the moment the electricity is switched on before its operating system (ex. Windows, Linux) is fully loaded and takes over. The operating system is stored on the hard drive of a personal computer. It is stored on the hard drive because this kind of storage is much less costly and an operating system requires a large amount of storage space. So, in order to make personal computers more inexpensive, they are designed to use a mixture of ROM, DRAM, and hard disks. An account of each follows.



Once the electricity switch is switched on, the "boot-up" process begins. To "boot-up" a personal computer merely means to initiate it. Electricity then moves through all of the chips and their circuits. The instructions for what the personal computer is meant to do next are found in the Read Only Memory, Basic Input/Output System (ROM BIOS). ROM is memory that can only be read from and has data that is permanently burned into it. It is nonvolatile and will not be lost or vanish once the electricity is switched off.



ROM BIOS or just BIOS, is intended to begin giving instructions as soon as it receives electricity. The BIOS contains an entire set of instructions, in effect a personal computer program written into the chip that manages the boot-up process. Without the BIOS, the personal computer would'nt know what to do next. The first task that BIOS completes is to make sure that all of the hardware components are working properly (for example: disk drives, external buses, the mouse, the printer). This is called a electricity-on self-test (POST). After the POST is complete, the BIOS activates other chips on different cards installed in the personal computer (SCSI and graphics cards) and provides a set of low-level routines that the operating system uses to interface to different hardware devices such as the keyboard, mouse, printer, etc.



Once the POST is complete, the BIOS hands the next stage in the boot-up process over to the central processing unit (CPU). The central processing unit is a one chip processor or microprocessor that has two distinctive capabilities:



1. The CPU carries out all of the mathematical and logical operations including basic math and comparisons of two or more numbers.



2. The central processing unit has the ability to intelligently manage the flow of instructions and data going into and out of its circuits.



The final instruction that the ROM sends to the CPU is to go to a precise location or address to locate its next instruction. An address is a string of numbers that gives instructions to where something can be found, much like an address on an envelope. Personal computers use addresses to keep track of data much the same way as the post office uses them to locate residences and businesses. The larger the number in an address the more locations it can refer to. Most present personal computers use a 32-bit address space for memory, which indicates that there can be over four billion separate locations to contain data.



The instruction that the ROM BIOS wants the central processing unit to carry out is sent through a chip on a bus (a set of wires) to the address specified. The data bus is able to carry data into and out of the chip inside the CPU. The data isn't available inside the CPU so it has to search elsewhere. The CPU then sends the address on another bus called an address bus. When the CPU does this, it is called a fetch. The address bus is "fetching" data from elsewhere inside the personal computer. The address bus is only able to carry instructions out of the CPU.



The address bus fetches data from the personal computer's memory. Memory is a kind of silicon chip that can contain instructions or data. This kind of memory can be read from or written to by the CPU, but this kind of memory or Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) is volatile. Once the electricity is switched off, the DRAM looses its memory or data. Since the DRAM is basically a blank slate, the CPU has inside, a set of sequential instructions as to where to search for the required data.



Before the address bus can get to memory, it has to pass through a set of chips called a chipset. The chipset refers to a collection of chips that provide an intelligent interface for the core workings of a personal computer - central processing unit, memory, graphics, I/O system, described as core logic or glue logic. If the data that the chipset needs isn't in memory, the chipset then sends or redirects it to the Input/Output (I/O) bus. The I/O bus connects the chipset to supplementary places where the data is stored, such as the hard drive. The hard drive permits the CPU to read from it and to write to it. The hard drive is non-volatile so it keeps its data or data once the electricity is switched off. A hard disk is much slower at retrieving data from than memory but memory is much more costly.



Once the hard drive gets the address (via the I/O bus and chipset), it retrieves the data and sends it back through the chipset and then puts it on the address bus back into the CPU. The chipset functions as a bridge for the two buses; the I/O bus and the address bus.



The central processing unit uses a four step sequence: fetch, decode, execute, and store. Since the CPU does not retain its memory, it has to obtain its data or fetch the data from elsewhere inside the personal computer. To help with the speed of the process of fetching, the CPU has a pre-fetch area to make the data available more readily.



Once the data has been fetched, it has to be decoded. Part of the decoding process of the CPU is to decide which circuits are appropriate to use for executing the instructions. Once that decision has been made, the CPU begins to execute the instructions. The part of the CPU where the actual execution of instructions takes place is called the Arithmetic Logical Unit (ALU). The ALU includes groups of transistors, known as logic gates, which are organized to carry out basic mathematical and logical operations. Logic gates are grouped into electrical circuits that execute the CPU's instructions such as "add" two numbers or "compare" two numbers.



The final step of the central processing unit is to store the data. This final step takes place after the ALU completes its calculations. The results of the calculations are stored on a chip that has an area called a register. Registers can be accessed more quickly than any other kind of memory but are only for temporary containing (storage) of data.



The CPU also has a clock inside it to keep the timing of all of the flow of data and processes of the personal computer. This clock is vital to the synchronization of all of the processes of the personal computer. This CPU clock controls all of the operations on its chip. The processes of the CPU can also be interrupted by an external interrupt controller chip which is part of the chipset. The chipset contains a small database of interrupt vector (numerical table). When an interrupt signal comes onto the chip, the CPU saves what it is doing and goes to the interrupt vector to locate the address of the instruction that the interrupt is telling it to execute instead. Once it is finished with the interrupt, it goes back to what it was doing. The CPU locates what it was doing in a register called a stack. If interrupts were not possible, the CPU would have to complete one task before it could start another causing the speed to be greatly reduced.



Now that the central processing unit has found the operating system, loaded it into memory, the operating system takes over and the personal computer is now ready to be used by its owner. The user can now check email, play a game, or do whatever they wanted to do when they started the personal computer.

By Andrew James

Mr James started My Business Tips Online (Melbourne) in 2006 providing business advice, tips, tutorials etc & regularly writes articles about his industry - full article here


Article Source: keywordarticles.org

Advantages of Using Refurbished IT Equipment

Refurbished IT equipment was once regarded as only a means to cut IT-related costs. But, the market for used and refurbished IT components is now mainstream. No matter if you want to buy, rent, lease, or trade IT components, refurbished IT equipment serve as an excellent option. In other words, refurbished equipment is a great way to stretch your IT dollars.


Refurbished IT equipment come from a myriad of sources including customer returns as well as canceled orders, overstocks, demonstration, and damaged items. Depending upon the product line, the returned equipment is put through a meticulous re-manufacturing process to restore them to its original condition as well as performance. In the refurbishment process, each of the items is thoroughly tested and broken as well as defective parts are replaced. Later, the test results are re-verified. In short, refurbished IT equipment is mostly upgraded to meet present performance specifications. In this article, we will further discuss some of the advantages of using refurbished IT equipments.


A prime benefit of using refurbished IT equipment is that it allows you to own IT equipment of top brands at exceptionally low prices, such as, Hewlett-Packard, WANG IBM, EMC, and Hitachi Data Systems. Refurbished computer hardware and equipment can save you up to 80-90% off the price of a new component. Typically, the refurbished equipment provides the same performance that new equipment offer, such as, advanced capacity memory and larger hard drives. Since used and refurbished IT equipment are fully tested and mostly come attached with a warranty ranging from 30 days to two years, it guarantees quality as well as performance of the product. In most cases, refurbished equipment renders the same quality a new product offer and that too at a discounted price. This, in turn, helps you to achieve a better overall ROI (Return on Investment) in long run.


However, in order to derive its full benefits, it is important to take into consideration certain things prior to the purchase of refurbished IT equipments. It is always recommended to buy refurbished equipment directly from an authorized dealer, who in turn ensures that your IT components are tested to meet your requirements. It must also be checked that the seller provides any kind of guarantee on the quality of the refurbished items. Additionally, it must be checked whether the refurbished equipment you have chosen is covered by a warranty. Also, enquire regarding its shipping policies. Some incur a minimal charge for shipping while others provide it for free. Above all, once you have chosen refurbished equipment for your IT needs, don't forget to ask about its return policies while its purchase.


With the introduction of the Internet, you can easily find an authorized seller of refurbished IT equipment online. Since many of the manufacturers and dealers have their own sites on the web, it allows for a convenient searching of an outlet selling refurbished items. Magazine, yellow pages, and online directories are the other significant sources to locate a genuine dealer of refurbished IT equipments.

Article Source: www.articlesbase.com

About the Author:
Lloyd Ross, CEO of RossDataCom.com, has been involved in the computer networking industry for over 5 years. RossDataCom.com is a leading provider of used networking equipmentused cisco switches, used extreme equipment, used foundry equipment, and much more. Lloyd Ross can be reached at 866-508-8886.
providing

Is Freespire Really Free?

A while back the good folks behind Freespire, the free version of Linspire, sent me a CD with version 2.0 for me to review. I was very happy to look at it as Linspire has been a leader in getting preloaded Linux systems into retail and online outlets, something I believe is critical for mainstream Linux adoption.

I knew going in that Freespire was “free as in free beer”, not an OS that would be considered free by The Free Software Foundation or most free software advocates. For those of us who are not free software purists Freespire does have one compelling feature: Linspire’s settlement with Microsoft allows them to offer Win32 codecs for playing DVDs, MP3s, etc… at no cost to the end user. For those of us who use our Linux systems for both home and business, who use laptops in front of consulting customers, who simply wish to comply with the law of the land here in the U.S., namely DMCA, whether we agree with it or not, Freespire offers a real option.

Having said all that one of the first things you see when you boot a Freespire CD is their End User License Agreement (EULA), a mass of legalese reminiscent of the Windows EULA. I tried to read through it and it seems to me (and I may well be wrong about this) that if I use my system for both home and business then Freespire is NOT free for me as I can’t fall under both the “family license” or the “business license”. I can’t freely copy or redistribute the OS as a business user. I’m limited to “solely up to the number of Seats you have.” The EULA also says that I, as a business user:

“You may not (and shall not allow any member of Your Business or any other third party to): (i) copy, reproduce, distribute, relicense, sublicense, rent, lease or otherwise make available the Software or any portion or element thereof except as and to the extent expressly authorized herein by Licensor; (ii) translate, adapt, enhance, create derivative works of or otherwise modify the Software or any portion or element thereof; (iii) decompile, disassemble or reverse engineer (except as and to the extent permitted by applicable local law), or extract ideas, algorithms, procedures, workflows or hierarchies from, the Software or any portion or element thereof;…”

That read to me entirely like a proprietary license. Of course I am not a lawyer and I may be misinterpreting something. Still, I am seriously uncomfortable about having Freespire on my system based on their EULA.

My review was also postponed by the release of version 2.03 which corrects many of the bugs I ran into. So… do I review 2.03? Probably not, at least until Freespire makes clear that they are truly an Open Source OS that I can use as I see fit without fee. I’m not at all sure Freespire is even free “as in free beer”.

Originally Posted on The O'Reilly Linux Dev Center By Caitlyn Martin

Nov 23, 2007

The End Of Operating Systems As We Know Them.

The end of the Operating System as we know it is at hand.


Well actually, not quite at hand but the blueprint has been laid down and the race is on to see who can make the future happen. I happen to know three entrepreneurs in the valley who are actively working on making this happen.


How pray tell? I'll tell you. Not because I want to share a secret but because so far they no one has discovered a cost effective way to do it...It's pretty well understood that this is the direction we're headed in.

First, let's take a look at the way operating systems have evolved.

Earlier operating systems actually just came on the hardware because the computer age was in it's infancy.

Then came the age of the early computers with the large floppy discs (they were actually floppy). Next came the smaller so called floppy discs with earlier Windows PC's. Then came CD's and of course, here we are today with DVD's.

These models of O.S. were all based on an install process, based on the theory that you would have a piece of hardware called a computer and that this computer could start off as a blank slate.

You could then take your CD's, DVD's etc and install whatever operating system you wanted on this computer and (relatively) tailor the install to your own needs.


The new model is more interesting. It states that all you need is a web enabled terminal and a keyboard. The operating system is hosted by the particular company you choose and all you have to do is log in to your environment with a username and password. This is how you log into Hotmail or Yahoo now.


It makes sense. Nothing for the user to install, all they need to do is pay as they go. If you want office, you pay to add it and download it onto your OS module. If you want games, add them to your profile and there they go.


Also, since this O.S. is now a service as opposed to a stationary piece of software, who needs to take a laptop with them? All you need is your username and password and you can really work globally from any web enabled terminal.


So far, no one has executed this model perfectly. The hardware requirements are well...Googlish but the winners would rule the earth. Think about it. Ability to work from anywhere. To have the SAME EXACT desktop wherever you went.


To have access to all the notes you left in Notepad wherever you are. To have the same desktop background and colors. The same distracting programs that you love and the exact same feel as your "home" computer.


You would have the same exact footprint wherever you were.


My prediction is that Microsoft or Google will do this first. If I had to call it now, I would say Google would be my choice. They are BOLD, wildly innovative and know how to scale the sort of infrastructure required to pull off this madness.


Microsoft could catch up but they are burdened with supporting legacy operating systems. It makes the transition harder.


Anyone who has used a Citrix thin client sees this model coming. I predict this will be here in less than 5 years and will be highly disruptive technology.


I for one, can't wait.


Till next time.

Onuora Amobi




About The Author:



Onuora Amobi is the CEO of Nnigma Inc. and editor of
http://www.Windows-Vista-Update.com. He writes a monthly
article for the website that can be found at
http://www.windows-vista-update.com.
Windows-Vista-Update.com is the premier Microsoft windows Vista
information portal. On this site, you can find news, information,
tips, new features and updates about Windows Vista.


Article Source: thePhantomWriters Article Submission Service

Take a Killer Quiz: Literally

I found this really interesting and slightly disturbing flash quiz game while stumbling a little while ago and keep meaning to put it up here.

In this game you take a look at a guy in a picture and have to decide if he is either a computer programmer, or a serial killer. Pretty funny how easy it is to mistake them.



Game From http://www.mattround.freeserve.co.uk

Hacking into Security Cameras

Have you ever seen a movie like Ocean's Eleven, or Sneakers where a team of experts hack into a security camera system so they can control the surveillance system? Sure you have, we all have.

What if I told you there are millions of unsecured surveillance systems out there, and all you need to do to get into them is do a simple Google search? Don't believe me? Check out this report from Fox News:






Pretty cool huh? I like the part where they are controlling that one guy in Japan's camera and are looking all around his bedroom. Pretty scary.

Incase you missed it, the search term they used was: inurl:/view/index.shtml

If you try it, you will get hundreds of listings for unsecured video cameras.

Nov 22, 2007

In Time for Black Friday: Tips to Becoming a Technology-Savvy Shopper

Many adults grew up in a world without the Internet, cell phones or personal computers, and often find themselves lost in the ever-changing realm of technology.


Today, students carry laptops and numerous gadgets that ring, buzz and sing, which leaves a number of adults at a loss when it comes to shopping for the younger generation.


So, in an effort to help parents and adults navigate the technology maze, we've compiled a list of buying tips.


  • Cell Phones vs. Smartphones: With the ability to send and receive calls and the ever-popular text messages as well as take photographs and browse the Internet, both cell phones and smartphones have similar features.

    Smartphones, like the Blackberry and Treo, take things one step further by including full keyboards and software that tracks appointments, manages contacts and performs a host of other business-level functions.

    While smartphone software can be useful, it can also become a distraction for students. So, unless your student is a budding entrepreneur, a standard cell phone with a plan that includes both calling and texting is ideal.


  • Mac vs. PC: Mac or PC? While PCs are more widespread, Macs are user-friendly and perfect for editing and downloading photos, music and videos. Macs also tend to be more secure because they are less likely to become infected with annoying viruses or spyware. PCs, however, are more affordable and have a wider variety of programs and games available.

    But who says you have to choose? You can get the best of both worlds by purchasing a Mac computer and downloading Parallels Desktop for Mac. The software enables users to run both Windows and Mac applications at the same time on any new Mac computer.


  • Ask the Experts: Hopefully you're feeling more prepared to take a stroll through your local electronics store. If need more ammunition, you can also consult feedback from students and teachers.


    Each year, Project Tomorrow, through its NetDay Speak Up research project, surveys students in kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as teachers, to determine which technologies they are using. For more information, visit www.tomorrow.org. - (NewsUSA)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone! I am hoping that you are enjoying a great Thanksgiving, and if you are able a well deserved four day weekend! If you prepared yourself as I have, you should be able to eat at least four plates of turkey, and another 3 or 4 slices of pie! In the end, we should all come back to work Monday about 15lbs heavier.

I figured I would put up some videos to tide you over until Monday since I will be spending time with the family, and also since my wife has banned me from blogging until the weekend is over. Please note that the youtube box displays random videos. If you don't like the one that is showing refresh, or use the menu button on the screen. Enjoy, and once again, happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 21, 2007

Coolest Business Card Ever!

Kevin Mitnick, one of the worlds most notorious hackers of all time, now runs his own security consulting business (Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC). For his business he has come up with one of the most ingenious business card ideas I have ever seen!



As you can see by the above picture, his business card also doubles as a lock pick set! You can now get one yourself, but since he has been getting so many requests for them he is asking for $2 per card to cover the costs. If you are interested in a genuine Kevin Mitnik business card/lock pick set just write to:

Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC
2245 N. Green Valley Parkway
Suite 411
Henderson, NV 89014


Enclose $2 cash only plus a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you want to get a free card you can attend one of his speaking engagements.

What To Do If Linux Refuses To Boot

This deals with what action is to be taken (during a reboot) after a power failure or an incomplete shutdown of a Linux system due to any reason. This problem seems to be very common since many newcomers install Linux and get all the various softwares/hardwares working under Linux and suddenly one day the power fails. There are a few things that you can try to get Linux back on track..

  1. While rebooting, Linux may print a message saying that there is a problem with the file system and it might force a check. It would do this for all Linux partitions. If the checks (they generally take around 30-60 seconds. also displays a rotating indicator) are successful then you are lucky. Linux should mostly continue booting and you should be back in business soon. If this is what happens then you may be under an impression that a direct switch off of a Linux machine leads to no problems. Please note that you were just lucky that you got away without any major problems.


  2. While rebooting, Linux may not be successful in any of the file system checks. In this case, the booting stops abruptly with a message stating that you should run fsck manually without a few parameters. Once you reach the hash prompt (#) then run the fsck command as mentioned (fsck -a -p /dev/hdaX). The fsck command requires the partition which it has to check. So if you have installed Linux on /dev/hda1 then you have to run fsck as follows: fsck -a -p /dev/hda1.

    When you run fsck it would mostly find some inode problems and ask you whether you want to fix them, Select the default option (yes). It would do so for all the problems found. Once this is over you can restart the machine using either "Ctlr+Alt+Del" or "shutdown -r 0", whichever works. Now this time your Linux machine should boot properly.


  3. It has so happened that once when the power failed, Linux simple failed to boot on my machine. It gave no errors at all, but the init process would just not get initiated. It would find my partitions, mount the ext2 file system as read only and then would simply display a prompt. Even with this prompt I wasn't able to do a lot. Also I noticed that a few of the default directories were missing on the native partition. The only solution that I found to this was to Reinstall Linux.

    Note: While reinstalling, the best and safest way for the above problem would be to insert the installation media (Redhat Linux 6.1 CD). And instead of selecting to install the OS once again, select to upgrade the existing installation. This would effectively replace all the damages areas of the OS and would also retain all your personal data and configurations in Linux (This should work in almost all cases).


  4. Hence I would always advice an upgrade to the same version (If you originally had Redhat Linux 6.1, insert the CD and once again select to upgrade to Redhat Linux 6.1 itself). If the upgrade option doesn't fix the problem, then you would have to do a reinstall after a reformat of the Linux partitions.


  5. In one case when Linux refused to boot I noticed that a few of the main files / directories were missing. I found that the /sbin directory (which is a very important directory) wasn't there in the root directory. I performed a search for this directory and found it to be within another directory. After some discussion I realized that my friend has accidentally moved this directory within his GUI when he was working in superuser mode. As long as he was working a few commands didn't work but he did not bother about finding out why they didn't work. Once he rebooted his machine the absence of this directory hung the booting process. So I suggest that you never work in superuser mode unless absolutely necessary. Even within the superuser mode prefer the shell, since you can hardly ever do anything accidentally in the shell. In my friend's case I simply moved that directory back within the root directory and Linux booted without any problems.

    Take the time to have a look at the file system and make a mental note of the directory structure which appears to be pretty complex.


If you can think of other things to do, or check let us know in the comments!


By: Faye Bautista

About the Author:
The author writes about Linux Tip and blogs at http://www.hackitlinux.com/.

Article Source

Wal-Mart's $199 Linux PC back in stock!

"Just in time for the holidays, Wal-Mart has re-stocked a Linux-based PC that sells for $199."

I posted about this a few weeks ago, but just as I was jumping on the Everex announcement bandwagon, it was selling like hot cakes. If you were looking to get one for those in your family that just refused to upgrade their old PII boxes, then get in while the gettin' is good! Wal-Mart has restocked this bad boy!

In case you missed it in my original article, here is the link to purchase it online: (Everex gPC)

read more | digg story

Dell XPS ONE = SEXY

My buddy Karl over at Ask The Admin posted this little blurb about the new Dell XPS One:

This is definitely a sweet looking PC. This is the way a home desktop PC should look. It's a little pricey, but it is in line, price wise, as the iMacs and the other Windows based all in ones that have hit the market.


His comment was based on the PCMag.com review by Joel Santo Domingo which said:

The Dell XPS One ($2,399 direct) easily outclasses its all-in-one competitor (and namesake), the Gateway One, and matches or surpasses the Apple iMac, which has long been the gold standard of all-in-one PCs. While the XPS One starts at $1,499, Dell sent us its top of the line $2,400 model for testing with a built-in HDTV tuner, 802.11n wireless capability, and Blu-ray drive. Although the model I reviewed is the expensive in the XPS One family, it is worth the money for the technology fan with deep pockets. Except for the graphics choice, the XPS One uses components that are competitive those found in traditionally-designed desktop tower PCs and has the benchmarks to prove it. Better still, it looks good doing it. The XPS One shows once and for all that the future of desktop PCs is in the all-in-one form factor.



This thing is one of the prettiest stock PC's I have seen in a while. You can check out the full review from PCMag.com here: (Full Dell One Review)

6 Tips For Improving Wireless Network Security

With many individuals and businesses connecting to the internet using wireless devices, and the reported cases of security breach and identity theft, having an awareness of wireless security measures to improve system security is a must. Many wireless users simply do not know that they are open and exposed to system penetration and bandwidth theft. Here are several suggestions to prevent your system from becoming a wireless hotspot.

  1. Change the password on your router. All routers come with preset service identifiers. Hackers are familiar with these protocols. You should change the password to something that is difficult to guess. Do not change the passwords to something as simple as my router which is easy to guess. You can rotate passwords frequently as an extra precaution.


  2. Enable encryption. You should follow the encryption procedures provided by your routing device. WEP and WPA2 are the two preferred encryption measures with WPA2 the preferred and most up to date option. This technology encrypts traffic and scrambles it so that unauthorized third parties can’t make use of it throwing a spanner in the works for packet sniffers looking to procure sensitive details.


  3. Keep a close check on remote access points. For companies that run web interfaces or remote system access points, security protocols should be established. Password access should be changed frequently.


  4. Avoid using unsecured wireless hotspots in public locations. Malicious third parties frequently setup traps that are designed to route traffic through setups that are used to screen traffic with the intention of securing sensitive details.


  5. Always scrub all hardware that is sold or disposed of. This eliminates the chance that a third party can discover sensitive data or passwords that can be used for identity theft, financial crime or to gain access to corporate systems.


  6. Use wireless security software. Whether you’re an individual or a corporation, this software has many benefits. A program such as Mcafee wireless home network security uses automatic security key rotation every three hours for encryption purposes. The software also secures your router and provides event logging and alert monitoring to scrutinize for terminals attempting to gain access. Institutions should consider more advanced software such a Manage Engine Wifi Manager.


Taking the time to plan and implement security measures prior to wireless use is the best way to protect yourself. A little extra time during setup is time well worth spent.

By: Andrew Winthorp

Andrew Winthorp owns and operates http://www.wireless-network-tutorials.com Wireless Network Tutorials - Learn more about key aspects of wireless setup and security.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleBiz.com

Hidden Technology Makes Cool Gadgets Go

Time Magazine recently grabbed headlines by announcing its winning product for the 2007 Invention of the Year. Not surprisingly, the magazine's winning invention turned out to be the year's most hyped -; the Apple iPhone.


While some have debated whether or not Apple's new cell phone was truly the best of the best, most agreed on one thing -; the phone's overwhelming influence on modern gadgetry. The buzzworthy iPhone introduced a variety of groundbreaking features to the cell phone world, such as its touch-screen keypad and polished, sleek interface, setting the bar for all future cell phone models to come. But all the credit for "the phone that changed everything" doesn't go to one person or even to one company.


For hundreds of years, new inventions have shaped modern technology for the better, putting many companies' names on the map and into the buying minds of average consumers. What many don't realize, however, is that the vast majority of products carrying one company's name and logo contain dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of various technologies developed by others.


Smaller companies like San Diego-based Patriot Scientific have helped lend a hand to innovative computer products and technology for several years. And while creating behind-the-scenes technology may not always lead to their brand name being prominently placed on the newest cell phone or other popular device, their presence is felt. Computer-processing giants such as Intel, Sony and HP have all purchased licenses from Patriot Scientific that have allowed their own products to flourish in the competitive market of new technology.


"The average person buying a cutting-edge product like the iPhone doesn't immediately think, 'Wow, I'm holding dozens of companies products in my hand right now,'" said Jim Turley, Patriot Scientific's president and CEO. "But large companies are constantly utilizing patents and technology developed by other corporations and people that give their own product a life and promotes overall growth in the industry."


As consumers continue to be wowed by advanced, high-tech products, there are many smaller companies that will continue to contribute to big-name gadgets. For more information on Patriot Scientific, visit www.patriotscientific.com. - (NewsUSA)

Apology to Ironkey

A few weeks back I posted an article about Ironkey saying that there was no real need to purchase one because you could do the same thing for under $40.

Encryption: Yes. You can encrypt your $35.00 4GB USB thumb drive for free using Truecrypt.

Durability and Quality: No. The fact is that Ironkey is a more durable piece of hardware, and will last longer than a standard flash drive (unless someone tries to brute force your password, in that case, it will self destruct).

Truth is, you just get more with the Ironkey which is why there is the added cost. Stuff like hardware encrypted password storage, and anonymous surfing software just to mention a few. It is more of an investment thing.

I think I really put off a lot of my readers by trying to hold my ground that security wise it is the same, and for that I am sorry. Though I don't always like it, I can admit when I am wrong.

I still feel that the average person can benefit from Truecrypt on a regular thumb drive, but if high security is a factor, then Ironkey is money well spent.

My offer is still on the table to Ironkey though, which is if they send me one I will do an honest objective review of their product.

Do any of you have an Ironkey? How are you liking it?

Nov 20, 2007

Internet Explorer: Benefit Analysis vs Firefox

Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) is very much the incumbent in the web browser arena. Before the arrival of Firefox, MSIE had estimates of >97% of market share. Firefox has cut into MSIE's marketshare, dipping MSIE usage below 90% in the US, and down to the 60% range in markets such as Germany.


Advantages Integration with other Microsoft products Microsoft often offers its customers good integration among its products, and MSIE is no exception. One can drag an Excel bar graph from an MSIE webpage onto an existing Excel document, or view a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation from within MSIE. Within a Microsoft-only corporate intranet, this integration is very helpful. However, for a business interacting with the outside world, the argument weakens since the foundation of the Internet is to share among different platforms. Outside users expect documents to be in platform-agnostic formats such as HTML or Acrobat PDF files.

MSIE also offers strong integration with its Microsoft operating system, though is a double-edged sword, since it contributes to its security woes.

ActiveX and VBScript support ActiveX refers to small Windows executable programs that can be run from MSIE, and VBScript is a client-side script for Windows code.

Some business have heavily invested in either developing or purchasing custom ActiveX software (and/or VBScript), for applications ranging from web-based accounting to e-learning simulators.

The Firefox team made a conscious decision to support neither ActiveX nor VBScript, since they are not accepted web standards and are often the source of the security vulnerabilities within MSIE.

Since Firefox will not likely ever support ActiveX and VBScript, businesses whose products revolve around these technologies would be better served with MSIE than with Firefox.

Still some MSIE-only webpages Since MSIE formerly had such a large marketshare, some businesses' webpages still only display correctly in MSIE.

However, Firefox's increasing marketshare has caused many companies to revamp their pages to work correctly in Firefox also.

There are several reasons. Businesses want to ensure that they can sell to the Firefox customers. Moreover, many of the users who purchase with credit cards have moved to Firefox because of the extra security for that sensitive transaction. Finally, many businesses see that it costs less to fix the pages, than to cover the "Why doesn't work in Firefox?" technical support calls support calls.

Arrives with a new Windows computer MSIE arrives installed new Windows and Mac computers; Firebird does not.

However, the initial MSIE is unpatched and thus riddled with security holes. Thus, novice Windows users are often disappointed as their computers become increasingly unresponsive with viruses and spyware.

Thus, the convenience of having MSIE preinstalled on Windows is minimal, since Firebird can be downloaded and installed about as easily as patching the initial insecure MSIE.

Microsoft has ceased new development of MSIE for the Mac, so it has decreasing usefulness on the Mac as an out-of-box browser. Disadvantages Closed source and tied to a U.S. company Closed source prevents users from reviewing the code to ensure that there are no security backdoors included in the software.

This is particularly important for Internet communication software, as the U.S. government may approach Microsoft to either divulge or include security backdoors that can be used for information surveillance, especially on foreign governments or high-risk suspects. Some governments don't want to have a foreign country’s closed source software at the heart of their information network. This may partially account for the higher adoption rate of open-sourced Firefox in countries outside the U.S.

Selling of other Microsoft items and forced end-of-life Part of any corporation's mission is to maximize profits. For Microsoft, this includes selling the maximum number of its own products and services.

So to use the newest MSIE, one has to purchase a license of their newest OS. MSIE's built-in search only works with Microsoft's MSN search, versus Firefox's built-in search toolbar that uses technically superior Google as the default and is user-selectable.

Moreover, since MSIE is closed-source software, users always face the possibility of forced end-of-life of the MSIE software and anything the user has built around it.

Total cost of ownership Both browsers can be downloaded and used free of charge, so their initial cost is equal.

For technical support questions, both are widely enough used that many solutions to common problems can be found in free online public forums. Telephone support for Firefox costs $39.95 per incident, and Microsoft costs between $35.00 per incident and can cost over $200.00 for advanced issues.

However, MSIE has heavier ongoing support costs due to the nearly monthly security patches that are required. Also, there are ongoing costs from lost work time due to the poor stability and viruses when using MSIE. Finally, with MSIE requiring the newest version of their operating system, it forces the total cost of ownership to include the cost of updating all licenses to Windows XP SP2.

Matt Bacak, The Powerful Promoter and Entrepreneur Magazine e-Biz radio show host, became a "#1 Best Selling Author" in just a few short hours. He has helped a number of clients target his specialty, opt-in email direct marketing systems. The Powerful Promoter is not only a sought-after internet marketer but has also marketed for some of the world's top experts whose reputations would shrivel if their followers ever found out someone else coached them on their online marketing strategies.

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Linux vs BSD

What is BSD?

BSD family of Unix systems is based upon the source code of real Unix developed in Bell Labs, which was later purchased by the University of California - "Berkeley Software Distribution". The contemporary BSD systems stand on the source code that was released in the beginning of 1990's (Net/2 Lite and 386/BSD release).


BSD is behind the philosophy of TCP/IP networking and the Internet thereof; it is a developed Unix system with advanced features. Except for proprietary BSD/OS, the development of which was discontinued, there are currently four BSD systems available: FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and Mac OS X, which is derived from FreeBSD. There are also various forks of these, like PC-BSD - a FreeBSD clone, or MirOS, an OpenBSD clone. The intention of such forks is to include various characteristics missing in the above BSD systems, on which these (forks), no matter how well they are designed, only strongly depend. PC-BSD, for example, has more graphical features than FreeBSD, but there are no substantial differences between these two. PC-BSD cannot breathe without FreeBSD; FreeBSD or OpenBSD are independent of one another.


What is Linux?


Albeit users like to use the term "Linux" for any Linux distro including its packages (Red Hat Linux, Mandrake Linux, etc.), for IT professionals Linux is only the kernel. Linux started in 1991, when its author, Linus Torvals, began his work on a free replacement of Minix. Developers of quite a few Linux system utilities used the source code from BSD, as both these systems started parallelly in about the same time (1992-1993) as Open Source.


Today, there are a few, if not many developers of their own kernels/operating systems (FreeDOS, Agnix, ReactOS, Inferno, etc.), but these guys simply missed the right train in the right hour. They did not lose anything except for the fact that they may be even better programmers, but without the public opinion acknowledging this at large. Linus built his fame also from work of many developers and he went on board in the right time. Linus deserves a credit as a software idea policy maker and he helped very much in this respect.


(Open)BSD vs Linux


It is often difficult to say what is better if you compare two things without regarding the purpose of their use. Mobile Internet may appear better for someone who travels often, but for people working at home such mobility is not necessary. In this view, it is a stupid question when someone asks: "What is better, a mobile or static Internet?" It all depends...


If you compare Linux and OpenBSD in their desktop environment features, Linux offers more applications than OpenBSD; but in a server solution BSD systems are known to be robust, more stable and secure, and without so many patches distributors release soon after their new version of Linux slithered to light.


BSD systems are based upon real Unix source code contrary to Linux, which was developed from scratch (kernel).


Differences between BSD and Linux


  1. BSD license allows users/companies to modify a program's source code and not to release changes to the public. In other words, BSD licenses allow commercial use and incorporation of a code into proprietary commercial products. This is how Microsoft incorporated BSD networking into their products and how Mac OS X earns money through muscles of FreeBSD.


  2. Linux uses GPL license for most of the time (applications in Linux can also have a BSD license - or any license; it is up to developers how they decide). With a GPL-licensed program anybody can change the source code, but he or she MUST share it with the Open Source community to make sure that everybody will benefit from such a change.


  3. BSD has the so-called "core system" (without packages). The core system consists of basic utilities (like ssh, fdisk, various commands like chmod or sysctl, manual pages, etc.) and anything beyond this is strictly seen as an add-on. Linux (not only the kernel, of course) is usually packaged as the whole system where this difference is not seen.


  4. On BSD systems, all add-on packages are strictly installed into the /usr/local directory: documents to user/local/share/docs/application_name; themes and other things to /usr/local/share/application_name; binaries to /usr/local/bin/application_name. By application_name we mean a program's name, so if you install IceWM, for example, its binary will be here: /usr/local/bin/icewm. With Linux, on the other hand, all applications get mostly installed into the /usr/bin directory.


  5. BSD systems use the system of "ports", which are fingerprints of applications in the /usr/ports directory, where a user may "cd" and execute a make command, which will download, via a directive contained in such a fingerprint's code, the application's source and the system will compile it as well. "Ports" are actually add-on packages for BSD systems and they are also packaged in packages repository of a concrete BSD system. They can be installed as binaries, too, with use of the "pkg_add" either directly from the Internet or locally. But "ports" have that advantage that if an author of any package makes a new version, a user can immediately get its newest/updated version. Packages released for a particular BSD version (like OpenBSD 4.1) are not updated and users have to wait for a new BSD release (like OpenBSD 4.2).


  6. BSD systems have also their stable version. With FreeBSD, for example, you have a FreeBSD-Release (a version that can be used normally), FreeBSD-Stable (system more profoundly audited for bugs and security holes), and a development version - Current, which is not stable and not recommended for a regular use. Some Linux distributions started to imitate this philosophy, but with BSD systems this way of making distributions has become a rule.


  7. Of course, the kernel is absolutely different.


  8. BSD has FFS file system; it is the only file system on BSD's contrary to Linux, where you can use dozens of file systems like ext2, ext3, ReiserFS, XFS, etc.


  9. BSD systems divide their partitions internally. This means that after installing a BSD system to a hard disk, programs like fdisk, Partition Magic, Norton Ghost and many others will not see this internal division of a BSD (FFS) disk; thus, repartitioning of a disk is not such a pain when administrators require a rigorous partitioning (for /home, /tmp, /var, /etc directories). As a consequence, the naming convention also differs a little: a disk - /dev/ad0s3b in FreeBSD indicates that you deal with "slice" 3 ("s3"), which is the equivalent of Linux /dev/hda3; the internal "partition" has the name of a letter: "a", "b", "e", etc. ("b" is a swap partition). BSD systems also use different naming conventions for devices (disks, etc.).


  10. Unless you make a good kernel hack, BSD systems can only be installed into the primary partition. This is not the rule with Linux. However, as BSD systems offer the above-mentioned internal division of partitions, this is not any pain. PC architecture for disks (IDE) follows the rule that you can have only four primary partitions. We will illustrate this on Linux: /dev/hda1 (note: first partition on master disk on first IDE channel), /dev/hda2 (second partition), /dev/hda3 (third partition), /dev/hda4 (fourth partition). PC architecture allows creation of the so-called logical disk on a physical disk (/dev/hda5, /dev/hda6, etc.). You can have as many logical disks/partitions as you wish and you can also install Linux into these "logical disks". On the other hand, installing a BSD OS into such a "logical partition" is not normally possible.


  11. System configuration is manual for most of the time, but various clones like PC-BSD break this convention. The manual approach is a very good thing, as administrators have everything under control without being pushed to waste time in a labyrinth of bloated configuration menus. A good comparison is to imagine a car mechanic repairing the car's engine covered by a thick blanket. To give you even a little better example - you will hardly find a Linux distro that does not have a default X startup (graphical environment). Of course, you can switch off the X environment during the installation configuration, but if you keep forgetting like me and forget to switch this off, or you have difficulties to find it in the menu somewhere, you realize that most Linux distributors do indeed impose on us only one approach - to put our fingers first on the thick blanket, then on the engine. If you are a good administrator, you do not usually trust vendors who program you how to use Linux - you are the boss and you must have your own freedom. However, in most cases you lose few hours instead by deactivating various services, which are, unfortunately, not even necessary but almost always activated by default. Linux is praised both for being a good desktop and server, but administrators of a good server do not need X. The more software is stored on your hard disk, the more security problems you will face, because it is impossible to audit every package in every unthinkable situation. Good and secure systems are always tight, light and simple.


  12. All BSD systems have a Linux emulation support. Running BSD binaries on Linux is a little harder.


  13. BSD systems have less support from driver vendors, thus they lag behind in this view (they are not worse, but many vendors support only Microsoft and Linux). With a BSD system you must carefully research the Internet for supported products/chipsets before purchasing any hardware.


  14. BSD systems do not use the Unix System V "runlevel scripts" (initialization startup scripts) like Linux.


  15. BSD kernels can be set to several security levels. This is also possible with Linux, but BSD's have taken a very good care of this kernel-tuning feature, which makes it even impossible to change something in files in higher security levels - you cannot delete them.


  16. BSD's have everything under one ROOF. Various Linux programs are often not even compatible with other Linuces. For example, if you install a SuSE RPM package on Mandrake, it may not work. BSD's have one solid crown of power. If you move from Linux to FreeBSD, you will soon find out that you got out of this chaos. Do you want a package? Just visit: http://www.freebsd.org/ports/ and download it. Unless its developer made some programming errors, it will always work.


  17. Generally, BSD systems boot and reboot faster than Linux. Linux can do this, too, but it must be tuned. It is very surprising that Linux is shipped, on the one hand, on huge DVD's and, on the other hand, it has a compressed kernel. BSD systems do not use (but they can) a default kernel that is compressed, thus the system boots always faster. As I mentioned earlier in this article, Linux vendors program users to use various, often unnecessary services. I do not need SAMBA (file and print services) and many other things as well. Linux reboot process takes longer because various services running on Linux need time for deactivation. Many Linux users do not even know what is the purpose of these services.


  18. In comparison to BSD, most Linux distributions are overbloated. Few good users noticed this some time ago and a new trend in the Linux world started with ideas to get closer to a BSD-style use. One of such distributions is Gentoo Linux, but also Slackware Linux, which has preserved a very good shape since its first release (1993). The Gentoo "About" page (http://www.gentoo.org) says that, "Gentoo is a free operating system based on either Linux or FreeBSD..." Therefore, if you use Slackware or Gentoo, these Linuces will always reboot faster than any other Linux.


  19. If you compile programs from ports, you will not stumble into compilation errors. BSD packagers prepare their packages carefully, so that users will always compile them successfully. This does not always happen with Linux.




Conclusion


I really like all BSD systems. If you are interested, look into FreeBSD documentation, which is one of the best. It will give you a very good overview of history and hard work done in the development of these robust systems. Today, BSD Unices are the only quality alternative to Linux in the Open Source world.


Author:Juraj Sipos


Author's website about FreeBSD and OpenBSD

Article Source: articlebase.com



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