Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wireless Network

by: Firas Sameer

What is a Wireless Network?

It is a number of computers and devices connected together through Wireless connection via a Router to share information and to transmit data between them or for using the internet by many users using a single internet source.

What are the benefits of using a Wireless network?

* Simplify the network physical installation (where no cables needed to be installed).

* Having the network signal everywhere without being restricted to specific cable terminal locations.

* Increasing the number of users is so easily.

* It reduces the building's networking overall cost comparing with the wired network.

What are the wireless network components?

There are basically four components:

1. Modem: To provide the Internet to this network.

2. Wireless Router: To provide the network to the local network end points such as computers, laptops, printer …. Etc.

3. Cables: To connect the Router to the Modem and to configure the Router as well.

4. Wireless adapter: In case your computer doesn’t have a built in wireless component you have to have a Wireless Adapter.

What is the structure of building a wireless network?

The Modem receives the internet data signals from your ISP (Via ADSL line, cable Modem, wireless connection…etc) and convert and transmit those data to the Wireless Router via a Network cable.
Note: The Modem is transforming the Internet data signals from one medium (such as a ADSL connection medium) to an Ethernet medium (or we can call it LAN which is a network type used normally for home networks which is the abbreviation of Local Area Network) to make the data understandable for the computers and the devices.

The Wireless Router receives those data signals and transmits them to all the network terminals via wireless network medium.

Note: You can setup your wireless network without a Wireless Router in case if your Modem has a Router capabilities like the most of the new internet Modems.

The network terminals such as Computers and laptops have Wireless Adapters which communicate to the wireless network and complete the connection with the Wireless Router.

What are the benefits of having a Wireless router in my network?

Off course the below points would fit the case if your Modem is not a Router or your Router has no Wireless capabilities:

1. The dedicated Wireless Router will provide more security to your network hence it will work as a hardware firewall between your local network and the Internet line.

2. Your network connectivity signal strength will be more powerful especially when you purchase a Router with two antennas.

3. It’s more reliable to use a dedicated Router.

What are the things I have to take in consideration when building my own home wireless network in structure perspectives?

Before starting the Wireless network implementation you have to study the locations where you want the wireless signal to reach and to take the considerations on some important points:

1. When purchasing network devices such as Routers, wireless Access Points, wireless adapters…etc it’s better to choose their brands as the same brand for better compatibility and performance, you can choose equipment that supports three different wireless networking technologies: 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. Basically we recommend choosing 802.11g, because it offers excellent performance and is compatible with almost everything.

Note: Those different types of wireless networking technologies are referring to the IEEE standards which different amendments have implemented during the past years to enhance the Wireless technology performance in thier standards.

2. When purchasing a Wireless Router try to choose the one with two antennas for better signal strength and communication speed.

3. The Wireless network is affected by the Microwave devices and wireless devices such as a cordless handy phone so it’s better to prevent putting the wireless access points or wireless Routers near such devices and better to choose frequency bands which are different than the ones used by the cordless telephone, also the Wireless Networks affected by some kind of materials such as foils, hence all of the mentioned devices and materials would make an attenuation to the Wireless Networking signals and will reduce or might block the signal.

4. The Security of your Wireless network is the most important issue you have to take care about, if your Wireless network is not secured your neighbors might use your internet without your consent.

5. The location of your Wireless Router should be placed on a place where the signal can reach almost everywhere in your house equally, such location might be in the middle of the house or in a middle floor.

6. If you want to install a wireless network in a huge building you can simply use the Wireless Access points to extend the Wireless signals everywhere.

For more information on how to install and configure a Wireless network and other computer and Windows related issues, visit my website from the below link:

http://www.DealingWithWindows.com

The Senior Citizen Embraces the Internet

by: Elle Wood

I just heard words I never expected to hear from my mother: “Well, why don’t you just email it to me as an attachment?” This is a woman who owned, and presumably used, her computer for 3 years before she discovered she could minimize a window! Now, lo and behold, she’s almost, dare I say, becoming comfortable with using that amazing machine in her study.

Like my mother, more and more senior citizens are utilizing their computers beyond playing their favorite card games. They are discovering that the Internet can connect them, cheaply and easily, to friends old and new. Grandparents can stay more in tune with little Josh’s first steps or Hannah’s piano recital when proud parents send pictures and video clips. Far-flung families can post regular updates and accomplishments on personal blogs or websites (made simple and almost professional looking with a free application like WordPress). Voice Over Internet Providers and cell phone packages have made even the simple act of keeping in touch by phone much cheaper.

In addition to staying connected with family, seniors are discovering that the Internet can open them up to new acquaintances. Last summer, thousands mourned the death of Australian Olive Riley, whom they had grown to love through her posts. Readers from around the world regularly logged on to share her thoughts and memories. Olive started blogging at the age of 107.

No matter what their interests, senior citizens can discover plenty of others to share them. Just a quick perusal of a WordPress gallery shows websites dedicated to people’s dogs, hobbies, recipes or neighborhoods. At a time when age slows a person down and prevents one from venturing out very often, it’s a wonderful boon to be able to connect with others from the comfort of home. Whether checking Lorna’s post to discover what’s new in her retirement village in Florida or discovering that new friend Harold is a great partner for online bridge games, seniors find their world opening rather than closing.

While I don’t expect (or even hope!) to find videos of my mother popping up on YouTube anytime soon, I’m happy for her and her fellow senior citizens that the wonders of technology can open her world wider even as physical constraints might be making it narrower.

7 Must Have Online Data Recovery Tools

by: Kara Hugg

The entry of a virus, malfunctioning software or a plagued operating system may cost you some important files. Below is a narrowed down list of some helpful online data recovery tools, which you can use to retrieve your important files.

TestDisk

TestDisk complements Windows, Mac and Linux data recovery needs. It is a powerful open-source tool that can ‘undelete’ suddenly lost and accidentally deleted files from FAT, NTFS and ext2 file systems. It also hosts other useful functionality. It helps recover the damaged boot sector from a backup, rebuild that boot sector and find lost partitions in dozens in format to locate the lost data and copy deleted files from partitions.

Recuva

Recuva is a Window-based tool that holds the power to resurrect missing files via its file-recovery wizard or application manual mode. When you are not quite sure of where your files are located or lost, the file-recovery wizard proves to be handy not only in retrieving missing files but also locating long forgotten files. Its manual user mode is helpful in file location.

PhotoRec

This program is a perfect complement to the TestDisk applications. It may not hold GUI capabilities but is certainly is one powerful online data recovery tool. Among its great features is that it does not mess with your computer partitions as it does not tend to rebuild your master boot record. This application is more focused on file types and operating-system agnostic. It offers help in quickly and safely copying all your suddenly lost files to another disk.

Restoration

Restoration could be the most helpful addition to your Windows-based USB toolkit. Not only does it help restore missing USB files but also your personal computer files. While it lacks the advanced functionality of most online data recovery tools, it is a very effective and generally reliable. Despite its meager 406k size, it outweighs any other data recovery tools out there when it simple applications.

Undelete Plus

Undelete Plus is a data recovery application that works on all versions of Windows as well as incarnations of FAT and NTFS file systems. It works by assigning recovery probability to searched files, depending on the severity of the damage. It allows easy file sorting by type and easy setting of filters, which will help sift through every deleted file in locating your missing files.

GetDataBack

This software helps recover lost data from your hard drive’s partition table, boot record, FAT/MFT or root directory. With the use of advanced algorithms, it ensures that all directories and subdirectories are put together and reconstructed properly. Perhaps the greatest GetDataBack feature is its capacity to enable regular users to conduct his own data recovery by guiding him in every step while giving the advanced users the leeway to interfere with the recovery operations to improve data search and retrieval results.

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery

This software will provide you with the complete solution to all your data recovery needs. It works great in retrieving all the data lost after operating system corruption, file system damage, accidental deletion and damage to the USB flash drive. With its improved recovery applications for FAT and NTFS file systems, it helps recover lost logical drives, do hard drive cloning and imaging and recover photo, music and video files from your system.

Given this chance to look over the few notable online data recovery tools, you can now pinpoint which application(s) will assure the recovery of your missing files.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

10 Tips for Capturing e-Learning Audio

by: Al Lemieux

Using audio in your online course is an extremely important factor in engaging your audience. Studies have shown that courses without audio are less compelling and memorable than courses with audio. Either used as a narration or for directions, audio – done the right way – can greatly enhance your e-learning materials.

Help with Audio for Online Course Developers

Audio engineering and the knowledge it takes to adequately capture, edit, and clean up audio to achieve a quality output is a task that is typically beyond the skill set of most online course developers. The average course developer has little if any knowledge of sampling rates, frequencies, modulation, compression schemes and other audio engineering concepts.

The goal of this article is to provide you information on how to get the audio in a format suitable for an e-learning course-authoring tool. The article will focus on capturing and editing audio at the basic level and certainly, the 10 tips listed below should help get you moving in the right direction.

1. Microphones

For narration, you’ll need to use a microphone to capture the voiceover. Sure, your laptop or PC might have a built-in microphone, but you probably don’t want to end up sounding like the broken drive-thru speaker at your local fast food restaurant. There are several microphones to choose from and they are made specifically for different purposes.

Dynamic Microphones are the ones you commonly see being used by rock stars in concerts. They have a ball-like shape as the head. These mics are omni-directional, meaning that they can pick up sound from a wide area. The Shure SM-58 microphone is an example of a dynamic microphone and has a consistent quality and dynamic range that makes it useful for all types of applications.

Condenser Microphones, unlike dynamic microphones, have a capacitor inside that requires them to be powered by a source – either battery or A/C. These microphones are often found in recording studios, used in live concerts, and are commonly found in lavalier mics (the kind you attach to a shirt or lapel). These mics are uni-directional, meaning that they capture a more narrow area of sound. Because of their power requirements, their voltage output can vary. The Neumann KMS-105 is an example of a condenser mic.

You may also find a Headset Microphone, which plugs directly into your computer’s input source and output source, so you can hear what you say as you are recording. Most of the microphones on these headsets have a noise cancellation function built into them. This causes unnatural sounding silences between phrases. The audio quality from these types of microphones tends also to sound blown out as the microphone position is very close to the mouth. That makes higher frequencies tend to sound noisy and lower frequencies sound poorly.

Built-In Microphones have the tendency to pick up any noise generated by your computer during use. This means any hard-drive motion, cooling fans, operating system sounds, and room ambience. These microphones are usually engineered to pick up the widest area of sound for situations like web conferencing and chat room sessions. The audio quality is usually poor and the microphones do not have sophisticated features like noise canceling or balancing. If at all possible, you should avoid using the built-in microphone for your audio input source.

2. Distance from Microphone

I’m sure you’ve all seen the rock videos or American Idol, where the rock stars have the microphone jammed up against their mouths as they are singing. So most people feel they need to do the same when recording narration. What the rock stars have to their advantage is a sound limiter that cuts off frequencies above a certain range. The maximum output is policed by this device to prevent any unwanted feedback or squelch, because the frequency is automatically limited. Most likely, your simple setup won’t have this capability.

One thing you can do to prevent any unwanted sounds in your narration, is to position your mouth about 6 to 12 inches away from the microphone and speak directly into the microphone, not away from it, to either side, nor in front of it. The best audio signal will be a direct path from your mouth to the microphone. If you start speaking into the microphone and then tilt your head downwards to read from a script, you’ll be able to notice the drop in the audio signal. If needed, hold your script up next to the microphone. Another tip: when reading from a script, don’t read across pages that you are turning or moving from one hand to another. Most microphones are sensitive enough to pick up all of that paper moving. If possible, have each page of the script segmented and keep them separated, not stapled or kept together with paper clips.

3. Use a Windscreen

A consistent frequency helps to produce the best audio. If you are looking at an audio waveform for the first time, you won’t be able to decipher it, but the peaks and valleys of each frequency can visually tell a lot about that sound. One thing that often happens, especially during narration recording, are pops that occur when saying words that begin with P or B. These pops go above the dynamic range and therefore, don’t sound anything like a P or a B but more like a popping sound.

A simple solution to this problem is a windscreen. Some engineers will wrap a wire clothes hanger with nylon stockings and place them in front of the mics in order to act as a low budget windscreen, but you can also buy them for less than ten dollars at your local music store. These are constructed out of a foam material and fit over your microphone.

4. Interfaces

So far, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about microphones but a majority of the mics recommended here won’t even plug in to your computers without adapters. Professional mics have an XLR connector, which has three pins. Most computers are made with eighth inch connectors. You can use Dynamic Microphones with an adapter connected to your computer without much of a problem. Condenser Mics, since they require power, won’t work even with an adapter.

There are interfaces specifically built for this purpose and they come in two flavors: USB and Firewire (IEEE 1394). Most PC manufacturers are including either USB 1.0 or 2.0 ports on their hardware. Firewire is more commonly found on Apple computers however, you can purchase Firewire cards for PCs. Firewire is faster than USB in certain applications and therefore is more desirable for audio input. There’s less latency on a Firewire connection than on a USB connection because of the performance speed.

Firewire comes in two flavors, there’s Firewire 400, which can transfer data at a rate of 400 MB per second, and Firewire 800, which doubles the speed to 800 MB per second. There are a wide range of musical digital interfaces out on the market today, and you can use either of these technologies to interface with a computer. M‐Audio has a line of both types including the ProFire 610 and the FastTrack USB.

These devices can run off of their intended connections and act as an audio input/output source for your computer to provide a professional recording result. At SyberWorks, we use an M-Audio Firewire 410 audio interface connected to two Shure-SM 58s for all of our narration. The 410 is a powerful choice because it offers multiple inputs and all of the audio controls necessary for level/gain and limiter/compressor. It also has XLR inputs and quarter inch inputs for microphones and instruments, and two headphone outputs. Connected to the 410 are two M-Audio BX8a monitors, which offer a much higher quality output sound than any built-in computer speaker.

5. Software

There are so many options for audio editing software, from the simple shareware/freeware to the professional level, that the determination of what to use might lie somewhere within your budget constraints. The basic audio recording tools that come with any Windows-based machine do not generate quality audio. Any Apple computer comes with GarageBand which is an excellent mid-level audio recording application. GarageBand is the step child of Apple’s Logic Studio and offers some pretty sophisticated tools for recording, editing, and delivering audio recordings on any platform.

Adobe has an audio recording/editing application called SoundBooth, which offers a variety of tools for cleaning up audio files and saving them in different formats. SoundBooth comes with the Creative Suite Production Premium or Master Collection. I recently used SoundBooth to record old cassette tape tracks as MP3 files so that I can burn the files to CD. I was able to use SoundBooth to clean up all of hissing sound on tapes and the audio quality was excellent.

Bias, Inc. has been in the audio production area for over a decade now and their flagship audio editing software, Peak Pro, is an award winning application. With a simple interface and a variety of effects and controls, Peak makes audio editing simple. I’m a long time user of Peak Pro and can say that it’s a stable, professional application that offers all of the tools that I need to edit the audio that I record. Combined with SoundSoap Pro, an audio cleaning application, Peak Pro can reduce noise, hiss, rumble, cracks and pops, and other unwanted sounds from any audio recording.

Here at SyberWorks, we use Peak Pro to record any narration for podcasts or courses and GarageBand to stitch together podcasts and teasers. GarageBand comes with some preset stingers and effects which are great for podcasts. It’s ridiculously easy to use. Once the file has been put together, it’s output as an AIFF file to iTunes. I then use iTunes to convert the sound to the MP3 format for delivery.

6. Normalize

During recording, audio levels can be mismatched creating undesirable results during playback. For example, recording from two different sources might produce two different volume levels. When played back, one source sounds softer and the other might sound louder, even though they were recorded in the same room on the same computer with the same hardware. This can be attributed to vocal style or audio input levels not being properly monitored.

To adjust audio levels across the board so that the volume is relatively consistent, most audio editing software offers some normalization option in which the audio levels are examined and a maximum and minimum range are then determined. Softer sounds are increased and louder sounds are decreased so that the overall sound level is more consistent.

If there is a stark contrast between the two input sources, then sound normalization might work against you. Softer sounds might have more sound introduced in them when the gain is increased. Be sure to check your audio input levels before recording. Try to get both sources to come up to the same decibel level prior to recording. If possible, show the input meter in your audio software to the speakers and try to get them to speak at a gain level about ‐5 decibels.

7. Ahh’s and Uhm’s

For some people, speaking into a microphone can be a little intimidating. You might hear a lot of Ahhh’s and Uhmm’s during a recording session. Some people naturally put these in their phrases because they are thinking about what they are going to say next. Others put them in out of nervousness. Others have lisp’s or emphasize S’s and Z’s. Still others smack their lips or breath heavy before talking.

When editing audio, the tendency might be to remove all instances of Ahh’s and Uhm’s. When separated from the rest of a passage, this is easy to do and is an effective way to make the entire sound file shorter. However, there are times when the Ahh’s and Uhm’s are rolled into other phrases and are difficult to separate.

The rule of thumb when editing audio is to remove whatever is bothersome, but keep the tempo of the original sound source and make it sound as natural as possible. Some people also take deep breaths between passages or have nasal sounds that are picked up by the microphones. Sometimes these can be removed and other times they can’t. Remove what you can, but try as much as possible to make the overall recording natural.

8. Cleaning Audio

Depending on how clean your input source is, you may have an audio track that is laced with hum or noise coming from a variety of sources, like an overhead fluorescent light, A/C noise, and other ambient sounds. SoundBooth and Peak Pro both have tools for eliminating these types of sounds from your audio input sources. As mentioned above, the rule of thumb still applies.

Some of these tools can end up making your audio sound very metallic and unnatural, more like a computerized version of the original. When using SoundSoap Pro, for example, the default settings for removing noise keeps all of the highs recognizable, while the mids and lows suffer from a dense computerized sounding quality. SoundBooth’s noise correction tools have the same issue, so if too much is applied, the result isn’t worth the effort.

There’s a balance to how much correction is applied to a sound versus the quality of the output. Sometimes, here at SyberWorks, we have to record voices over the phone. Sound quality from a phone line is always problematic, so invariably that sound will need to be cleaned up. Too much correction though, and the integrity of the voice is compromised. On the other hand, no correction will keep a lot of hiss and noise in the sound, which is undesirable.

9. Audio Formats

Depending on which authoring tools you are using and which platform you are on, you’ll need to know which audio formats to use. The major audio format for the PC platform is .wav, on the Mac platform it’s .aiff. Adobe Captivate and Microsoft PowerPoint both use the .wav format.

The most popular internet audio format now is .mp3, which has greater compression and better sound quality than other internet formats. Captivate uses MP3 compression in sound files for the final output. This makes the files smaller but they can suffer in quality, depending on the settings in Captivate. Native .wav files embedded in PowerPoint files can make those files enormous. Using iSpring, a PowerPoint to Flash converter, you can significantly reduce the file size of presentations and course materials intended for internet delivery.

SyberWorks Web Author has an additional tool called SyberWorks Web Audio which allows you to add streaming audio to courses that anyone can hear using just a web browser. Playback is accomplished through a small Sun Java applet that downloads automatically and quickly. It requires no additional plug-ins or server software. It has no firewall issues and can play in the background, without any visible controls on course pages, or with a small set of basic audio controls displayed.

SyberWorks Web Audio tool takes an audio file of the format .wav and compresses it into the SyberWorks audio format (.sa). It is then easily inserted into the word document by using the Add SyberWorks Audio template.

10. Compression

Depending on which tool you used during recording, you probably have an original audio source with a near CD quality (44 KHz) output. That quality is diminished as soon as the file is compressed. Too much compression and the sound quality is something like R2-D2 behind a large, metal door. Too little compression and the sound files become too large to transfer and play.

The factors involved in compression include bit rate and quality. The bit rate is the data stream target for your intended audience. The typical internet connection these days is at least DSL speed (128 KBps), but there still may be users at modem speeds of 56 KBps. Tools like Captivate will allow you to set the bit rate and quality for all the audio in your course. Therefore, when you save your files out of SoundBooth or Peak Pro, never add any compression. Let Captivate or your other e‐Learning tool do the compression for you.

Quality settings can also alter the file size. Lower quality files have higher compression and therefore are smaller, but sound worse. Higher quality files have less compression, sound better, but are larger in file size.

One tip is to try different compression levels and settings and listen to each output to find the one that is just right. It may be time consuming, but in the end, your e-learning product will be better for it.

Summary

We touched on a number of technical concepts in this article and there’s a lot more. Whatever tools you decide to use, incorporating better-sounding audio in your e-learning development is a great way to take them to the next level. Recording high quality audio can be challenging and fun. It may take some time to get used to, but it’s a skill that’s worth looking into.

If Your Computer Needs Help Fast Use the XP Recovery Tool

by: David Freitag

THE PROBLEM

Life can be wonderful if your computer is working well and it can be a torment if it's not. There can be all sorts of problems but some are really disasters

One of the following events indicates that your computer needs major repair.

- your computer won't boot
- BSODs (blue screen of death) keep coming up or come up at the worst time
- you have a major virus infestation that is crippling your computer
- computer performance is the pits and/or you get all sorts of weird errors

ANALYZE THE PROBLEM

The first thing you need to do is to check if the problem is due to hardware failures.

If you are experiencing BSODs, Techmetica's BSOD list will tell you which ones are due to hardware problems. They suggest what to do to repair the particular hardware problem.

If a hard disk problem seems likely, you can use the UBCD (ultimate boot CD) available at UltimateBootCD to diagnose your hard drive and possibly fix it.

SOFTWARE REPAIR YOU MIGHT CONSIDER

You can try to do a repair install which will use your XP installation CD to repair your problem. If successful, it will leave your programs and data intact.

This method is somewhat complicated and techy and not for the faint of heart. The best write up on this is provided by Michael Stevens Tech

You might also try an 8 step repair from a Geek squad veteran found at the Icrontic site.

AN AUTOMATIC METHOD

There is software available that will automatically repair your computer and can do this even if you can't boot. It will cost you a small amount of money but it is much less than what a repair shop would charge and it will save you hours of time. This approach makes the most sense for the majority of computer users.

Good luck with your recovery.THE PROBLEM

Life can be wonderful if your computer is working well and it can be a torment if it's not. There can be all sorts of problems but some are really disasters

One of the following events indicates that your computer needs major repair.

- your computer won't boot
- BSODs (blue screen of death) keep coming up or come up at the worst time
- you have a major virus infestation that is crippling your computer
- computer performance is the pits and/or you get all sorts of weird errors

ANALYZE THE PROBLEM

The first thing you need to do is to check if the problem is due to hardware failures.

If you are experiencing BSODs, Techmetica's BSOD list will tell you which ones are due to hardware problems. They suggest what to do to repair the particular hardware problem.

If a hard disk problem seems likely, you can use the UBCD (ultimate boot CD) available at UltimateBootCD to diagnose your hard drive and possibly fix it.

SOFTWARE REPAIR YOU MIGHT CONSIDER

You can try to do a repair install which will use your XP installation CD to repair your problem. If successful, it will leave your programs and data intact.

This method is somewhat complicated and techy and not for the faint of heart. The best write up on this is provided by Michael Stevens Tech

You might also try an 8 step repair from a Geek squad veteran found at the Icrontic site.

AN AUTOMATIC METHOD

There is software available that will automatically repair your computer and can do this even if you can't boot. It will cost you a small amount of money but it is much less than what a repair shop would charge and it will save you hours of time. This approach makes the most sense for the majority of computer users.

Good luck with your recovery.

7 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Web Hosting Provider

by: Justin Daniel

If you are relatively new to the world of Internet development and are thinking about purchasing a web hosting package for the first time it can be hard to know where to start. By avoiding the following common mistakes that many beginners make you can increase your chances of choosing the right web hosting provider.

Mistake 1 - Buying A Web Hosting Package From A Domain Registrar.

Don't fall in to the trap of immediately hosting with a domain registrar as many of these companies provide overpriced web hosting packages that are stripped of the most essential features for building a web site. Many of these companies skim the market with their web hosting packages and prey on uninformed clients who ultimately end up with a web hosting package that does not fulfill their needs. I am not saying all domain registrars do this, some do not, but make an informed decision.

Mistake 2 - Choosing A Web Hosting Package With No Refund Guarantee.

Some web hosting companies do not provide a refund guarantee for their starter packages. If you are starting out and only require a moderately sized web hosting deal ensure you do not end up paying for a web hosting package that does not fulfill the requirements of your web site with no option for a refund.

Mistake 3 - Choosing A Shared Web Hosting Package When You Require Dedicated, Or Vice Versa.

The two main types of web hosting packages you can select is shared or dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is best for web sites that are reasonably small or web sites that are only starting out. Purchasing a dedicated server is only required for web sites with really high traffic. You can always switch to a dedicated server later on if required, many companies will do this for you free of charge, and you can save money in the mean time.

Mistake 4 - Selecting A Package With Inadequate Features.

If you are only starting out you don't need every feature under the sun yet there are some essential features that some web hosting companies do not provide on their starter packages. PHP, MYSQL, Webmail and a handful of email accounts is the very least that you will require for even the most basic website. Your web designer will love you and it prevents having to change web hosts unnecessarily later on down the track if you require these features for simple things such as a contact form, news section, database of customers and so on.

Mistake 5 - Not Choosing A Package With Free Support.

If you end up with the right web hosting provider you usually wont encounter too many problems. It's better to be safe than sorry, however, and you should have the freedom to contact the support department of your web hosting provider whenever you encounter a problem or have a question and not have to worry about a hefty fee.

Mistake 6 - Choosing A Package With No Simple Back Up Solution.

Many web hosts do not provide a free back up solution. This may seem unreasonable but it because it would be impossible for the web hosts to back up every single time their clients modified their web sites. This means it is your responsibility to ensure you retrieve regular up to date back ups of your web site and if this is a feature of your web hosting package it will help you out a great deal.

Mistake 7 - Paying The Wrong Price.

The many different prices that web hosting providers use for their products can be quite confusing for the beginner. It is common practise in the industry for companies to advertise a monthly price yet expect you to pay for at least a years worth of hosting. If you keep this in mind and steer clear of the mistakes mentioned in this article you will be well on your way to choosing the right web hosting provider.

I hope my advice has been helpful. If you are about to be involved in creating an Internet presence for the first time it can be a very rewarding experience. Try not to get too overwhelmed by the many things to worry about and give something creative and different to the Internet - your visitors will love you for it. Good luck!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Five Tips For Staying Safe On The Internet

by: Justin Williams

For this article, I thought I would give 5 tips on ways to stay safe while on the internet. These are some very simple tips, but you would be surprised how many people fail to do these things. Anyway, let's get right to them.

-First off, never give your passwords out to anyone. I don't care if someone instant messages you claiming to be from AOL, you shouldn't give your password out. You also should be careful of websites that look like official websites that ask for your password. If you are uncertain about the website, just type in the regular homepage address. That way you are sure you are on the actual homepage.

-Make your passwords difficult for people to guess. This is such a simple tip, but you would be surprised how many people forget to do this. It's usually recommended to pick a password that has letters AND numbers in it. If you just pick a word in the dictionary, it is easier for someone to guess. Putting letters and numbers together makes it much more difficult. Also, putting special characters in your password is also good.

-Do not download software from pop-up boxes. I'm talking about those boxes that sometimes come up when you go to a website. Often times they will pretend to be a warning message that says your computer is infected with Spyware. Don't download those software programs! They are most likely Spyware. If you want to know some legitimate Spyware removers, check out my blog where I have some listed. My blog address is at the bottom of this article.

-Do not click on links in spam e-mails you receive! I cannot stress this enough. There is absolutely no reason that you should click on a link in an e-mail from someone you don't know. What is the worst that could happen if you do? Well, the link could take you to a website that will infect your computer with a virus through a security hole. That can happen just by visiting a website. Seriously, there is no reason to click on a link from someone you don't know. If you've got an e-mail from someone claiming to be from eBay wanting your password, then log in from the main website. If eBay really needs you to log in so bad that they are e-mailing you, I'm sure there will be a big notice right on your account when you do log in through the actual website.

-And finally, be careful with what personal information you put on the internet. Unless you are ordering something, you should not need to give out your last name, home address, or home phone number. If I sign up for a website and they need something like my phone number, I just give them my cell phone number. Even that though I don't generally recommend.

Like I've said, there are a lot of people that are taken advantage of through the internet. If you make sure to follow these tips, you should have no problem.

Stay safe!

Five Signs Your Computer May Have A Spyware Infection

by: Justin Williams

For this article, I thought I would go ahead and give you five signs that your computer may have some type of spyware infection.

These days, spyware is everywhere. As Anti-Spyware programs get stronger, spyware continues to become trickier. Because of this, in my opinion, you simply cannot rely on running a spyware scanner to tell you if you have a spyware infection or not. You need to be able to notice other signs that you may have a spyware infection. Because let's face it, unless you have some type of spyware guard that runs 24/7, it's possible you will get an infection between scans with whichever spyware scanner you use. And if you go weeks between scans, the spyware could really harm your computer.

Now, just because you may notice one of these signs doesn't mean for sure that your computer has a spyware infection. It is still possible it doesn't. However, in my opinion, noticing any of these signs is enough reason to run a scan as soon as possible. Anyway, let's get right to the signs. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. IExplore.Exe

Try looking at the list of running processes on your computer. (Ctrl+Alt+Del - Processes (On Windows Xp) ). Do you see IExplore.Exe running? Well, if you are viewing this article in Internet Explorer or have Internet Explorer open in the background, then you shouldn't worry about seeing IEXplore.EXE in your process list. However, if you close out of Internet Explorer or you restart the computer and IEXplore.Exe or IEXplorer.exe is running when you clearly don't have Internet Explorer running, then this is a sign that you may be infected with Spyware. Many types of Spyware and Virus will run as IExplore.exe in the process list to confuse you with Internet Explorer. I have seen this happen many times when fixing computers.

2. Unexplainable Pop-Ups?

Pop-Ups can still be a problem for some internet users who don't use pop-up blockers. It can be common to go to websites and experience many pop-ups. However, if you are getting pop-up windows at times that you don't think you should be any, that may be a sign of an infection. This could be when you aren't surfing the web, when you first turn on the computer, etc. If you are experiencing this, run a scan!

3. Infection Warnings?

Are you receiving numerous warnings of an infection on your computer? If so, the warnings may be the infection in itself! Spyware programs displaying fake warnings to get you to download more spyware is becoming a lot more common these days. Many times they will use pop up boxes from your windows tray to warn you. They do this because these boxes look legitamate and look like they come from Windows. They don't! I can't think of a scenario where you would get any type of box like that unless it is from a spyware scanner you already use. Even if you feel this box may be from your scanner, play it safe and don't click the box. Just open up your scanner regularly and do a scan.

4. Start-Up Items

Another quick way to look for a possible infection is to look at a list of items set to run on startup. Now, you can do this without downloading any programs. But I recommend downloading a program like StartUp Manager that will easily show you a list of what is running at startup.

Anyway, look at the list of items running at startup. Has anything been added since the last time you checked what is running at startup? If there are new items and you don't recognize them, this may be a sign of a spyware infection that is set to run when you turn your computer on.

5. Different Browser Home Page?

And finally, if you open your internet browser and your homepage has changed, this is definitely a sign that you may have a spyware infection. Changing your browser homepage is one of the oldest tricks in the book for a Spyware Infection. If your homepage has changed and you didn't change it, run a scan!

If you remember to look for these signs, you just may spot a spyware infection before you find out from your spyware scanner. Remember though, before running a spyware scan, ALWAYS update it first!

Stay safe!

Five Programs You Should Download For Your New Computer

by: Justin Williams

If you've recently bought a new computer, one of the first things you do after plugging it in is start downloading software. But which software should you download? I wrote this article to explain which five programs I feel should be the first programs you should download. Let's take a look at the list. These are in no particular order.

1. Trillian

Do you like to use AIM? MSN? Yahoo? Do you use a combination of them? Why use a bunch of separate messengers when you can use Trillian.

Trillian connects to multiple messengers so that you can chat with friends from Yahoo, MSN, AOL, ICQ, and IRC, all on the same messenger. Now you don't have to worry about downloading multiple messengers. And the best part is that Trillian takes less RAM then a single regular messenger you would otherwise use. Saving that RAM for other running programs. :)

2. Mozilla FireFox

If you've never used FireFox and have stuck to Internet Explorer, give FireFox a try. Firefox is a lot better then Internet Explorer, and has hundreds of extensions to download. Want to know if you have mail without opening your e-mail account? There's an extension for that. Want to know the weather without going to a website? There's an extension for that. Want to know an alexa rank of a website? There's an extension for that. Seriously. Just go download FireFox.

3. Update Windows

Ok, this isn't really software you are downloading. But if you bought a Windows computer, one of the first things you should do is update Windows. I can almost guarantee you that there are critical security updates waiting to be installed. So go to WindowsUpdate.com and get your computer updated.

4. Ad-Aware

Spyware is all over the internet these days. Spyware can come with software you download, websites you visit, etc. Spyware is one of the biggest annoyances on the internet that you will encounter. Instead of waiting for a problem to come up, why not download Ad-Aware and start protecting your computer from day 1. Ad-Aware has been around for many years and is in my opinion the best Anti-Spyware remover available. Best of all, there is a free version. So go download Ad-Aware and make sure to update it frequently.

5. Google Earth

Some may argue with Google Earth being on this list, but in my opinion, Google Earth is one of the coolest programs you can download. Google Earth has everything. You can view satellite maps all over the world, 360 degree photos, YouTube videos, Wikipedia links, historical maps, etc. Seriously, Google Earth has it all. If you have never used Google Earth, download it right away. You will be amazed just how far technology as you learn and look at information from all over the world.

In just these five programs, you can learn about the world, protect your computer, connect to multiple messengers, and surf the web. Of course, there are many other programs you can later download, but these are by far some of the best and are definite must-have's for your new computer.

Have fun with your new computer!

For download links to the software mentioned in this article, check out my website at http://www.EasyTechReview.com

Five Educational Programs You Should Download

by: Justin Williams

This is a list of five educational programs that can be a lot of fun. Educational programs aren't just for kids, people of all ages can enjoy these programs and enjoy learning new information. Here are five programs that in my opinion you should download. They are in no particular order.

1. Seterra

This is a fun little program. Seterra has many different exercises for learning geography. For instance, there are quizzes on country capitals, state capitals, major cities, country flags, mountains and volcanos, etc.

My personal favorite exercise is where you try to identify numerous countries by clicking on a blank map. It's a great way to get good at identifying countries.

In addition, this program also keeps track of high scores, so you can compete against family and friends. And best of all... it's totally free!

2. Google Earth

This is a program that a lot of people have heard of. But I had to put it here because if you have not used this program, seriously, try it out! Google Earth is an absolutely amazing program full of lots of information. And there is so much information constantly being added.

With Google Earth, you can view satellite maps of the world. But it's not just that, you can see pictures all over the world (some of them 360 views), links to youtube videos, links to wikipedia entries, traffic conditions, etc. etc. etc.

Seriously... In the time it would take for me to explain what all Google Earth has, you could have already downloaded it. Just go download it.

3. Real Lives

This is a fun little program. Basically... you get to live the life of a person in the world. You can pick the country and create your character, or have your character randomly picked.

To some, this may sound a lot like the Sims, but it isn't like the Sims at all. In Real Lives you can't actually see your character. You don't control his daily actions. Each turn simulates one year. But you can pick your characters career, hobbies, finances, relationships, etc.

Where the educational value comes in is how much you learn from trying to have your character succeed in various countries. The country you live in will really affect how your character does. For example, in the past I have had characters in the United States who did really well career wise. I've had other characters in Africa that died in the first few years from disease. I've also had characters that were involved in social activism that were executed in various countries with dictators. Like I said, the country your character lives in will affect a lot how they live, and in the process you learn a lot about how people live around the world.

The only downside to this program is that it is only free to try. Unless you buy it, there is an opening screen with a delay. But I still recommend checking it out. And want a challenge? Try creating a character in a country like Somalia and getting them to live till they are 80. Good luck on that one. ;)

4. WorldWide Telescope

This is an awesome program put out by Microsoft. I am going to keep the description for this program simple. Basically you can see a real map of the nightsky full of real pictures. Think of like google earth but looking at the sky. See a galaxy that's in the sky that you like? Find it on this program and zoom in to find some closeup photos of the galaxy from the Hubble Telescope. If you have any kind of interest in Astronomy, download this!

5. MyHeritage Family Tree Builder

This is a GREAT program for building your family tree. I absolutely love this program and I've been using it for awhile now. I have imported many GEDCOM databases into a giant database for my family tree. I have thousands and thousands of distant relatives listed on it. How am I related to some relative that lived 200 years ago across the country? This program will tell me just that and the complete line of how exactly we are related. Very very cool. For getting information about your family tree, I recommend checking out Rootsweb.com

I hope you enjoyed this list. Remember, learning doesn't have to be boring. There are a lot of ways to have fun and learn new information at the same time. Have fun! :)

For download links to these programs, check out my website at http://www.EasyTechReviews.com

16 New Benefits of Windows Vista

by: Vithal Pai

Microsoft created frenzy with the introduction of Windows Vista. Many XP users notices the benefits, appeal, and curiosity skyrocketed through the roof. If you've ever wondered about Vista's benefits can learn about it here.

Improved Search Capabilities

1.) The Start Menu now has a Windows logo; the search function launches programs automatically. These improves make navigation earn than XP's search options.

Intense 3D Graphics

2.) Microsoft stepped up its grapics by 300% compared to XP. The new Avalon encoding allows gamers, web designers, and game designers to use 3D software with no problems. Another solution includes Aero that renders top 3D graphics for open Windows.

3.) Live Taskbar thumbnails uses the navigation of the applications available such as Internet Explorer, Windows Media 11, and other tasks frequently used on the system.

4.) New improvements of search uses indexing services thatr finds, launch, and saves applications with ease.

5.) Windows has tackled the security problems associated with Internet Explorer's previous versions. Internet Explorer 6 is upgraded to Internet Explorer 7; some of the top features include Antiphishing, Parental Controls, Protected Mode Browsing, Inbound and Outbound firewall, User account control, Standard user control, and Windows Defender. Now users can feel secure compared to the previous versions' lack of protection.

Speedy Start Ups and Shutdown

6.) Speedy startup, new sleep mode, and speedy shut down completes in 10 seconds compared to the 20-30 seconds processes of XP. Not only can you move on without worry of the system taking too long, you can put the system in Hybrid Sleep Mode. Hybrid Sleep Mode writes memory contents to the hard disk then enters shutdown with hibernation.

7.) Fetch, now 'Super Fetch', is a new memory management technology that pre-loads most used applications into memory. Now, you can launch the applications in half the time to imrpove productivity.

Ready Boost- Speed Up Your PC

8.) Ready Boost improves the speed of your PC by tapping into the Virtual Memory concept with swap files. Swap files are substitution for additional memory in your PC without adding RAM. The swap files are stored in relative slower hard disk that affects the overall performance of the PC, but it's a great addition to managing space. If this sounds like a great deal, consider the use of USB flash hard drives' use of Ready Boost to add additional memory to your PC at any time. All of this is offered in a tight, little package in a USB port instead of previous hard disk to help move documents to an encrypted format so it cannot be read by others.

9.) Hybrid Hard Drive Support drives combine the features of flash memory with conventional hard drive to boost the overall performance of the PC. With this improvement, the hybrid hard drive increases battery life of PCs that turns off the internal motor the hard drive off. Hybrid hard drive support drives keeps data flowing with no problem; this is an extension of Microsoft's attempt to enhance performance and portability of PCs.

10.) Power management control allows users to change the settings of their PC while creating a profile to save battery life. With this new addition available, top manufacturers may set their own settings preloaded in your PC. The power management control is a great addition to the other features because you will have more time to enjoy the fun of your PC compared to Windows XP.

Wireless Networking

11.) Windows Vista's wireless networking features allow you to name it, save individual settings for the network, and reconnect to their network with the configurations. These additions allow you to leave hotspots without logging out of their systems. With the settings readily available, you can return without entering the same configureations that's required in Windows XP.

Vista's Windows Photo Gallery

12.) Windows Photo Gallery has a lot of features including the thumbnail views, previews of photos, and scales. You can also preview, sort, distribute, import, and modify photo contrasts as well as videos in the software. Vista's improvements will allow anyone with a little editing knowledge great picture perfect photos for their family and friends at home.

13.) Change the names of files, photos, and videos by right clicking the default folder and clicking the Rename option. You can change the file name up to the file extension while keeping organization to a minimum with the new feature.

14.) You can go directly to files because of the removal of 'My' before navigation with Windows Explorer.

Media Player 11

15.) Multimedia capabilities now allow users to burn DVDs, CDs, and edit playlist to create the perfect sing-a-long for road trips or iPods.

Gadgets on the Sidebar

16.) The new sidebar improves functionality and productivity with an analog clock, calendar, slide show, news feed, and notepad. Windows offers over 3,000 gadgets online for easy downloads.

Hostway Web Hosting Review

by: Bob Willis

Hostway has been reviewed as the best hosting company especially for their shared hosting packages. The company has garnered ample popularity in the hosting industry for its cost effective and highly reliable hosting solutions. No matter what your hosting requirements or the level of your online enterprise; the company has a hosting solution that would perfectly match your needs.

The company was founded in the year 2001 and has emerged as a leader in hosting services, serving millions of customers and companies worldwide. The company has set itself in a league of its own by offering highly advanced hosting products and solutions coupled with professional and prompt services. In fact, many analysts believe that Hostway has revolutionized the hosting industry in a bi way and its success graph is consistently on the rise. The company offset a range of comprehensive hosting plans to its customers and has also developed highly advanced hosting programs and tools to meet the increasingly demands of customers worldwide.

The company offers an extensive range of hosting services and features including business web hosting http://www.hostingcoupons.org/, e-commerce web hosting solutions, emails, domain names, dedicated servers http://www.hostingcoupons.org/web-hosting/server/, web design services, website marketing solutions and much more. For most potential customers, choosing a web hosting provider is a rather daunting task. With Hostway, the work is almost a no-brainer as the company offers an -inclusive package coupled with comprehensive features and professional services. This is validated by the fact that Hostway is offering its services to over 400,000 customers worldwide and the figure is consistently on the rise.

The company focuses on offering its customer many value-added hosting features, tools and services as well as a superior support system. Furthermore, the hosting company endeavours to offer all this at an affordable pricing structure; thereby offering the much needed value for money hosting services. The company has its global headquarter in Chicago and their data centres are equipped with state of the art equipments and security mechanisms, therefore making the company highly reliable and professional. Another distinct feature is the utime guarantee offered the company. Hostway offers an uptime guarantee as well as compensation depending on the individual requirements of the customer. This way, they dedicate the required resources in order balance out the necessary uptimes.

It is important to note that any web owner should not only focus at building a simple web presence but rather aim at business growth by gaining access to reliable hosting technology and user-friendly tools and interface.

Protection Against Online Frauds

by: Abdulkabir Anumashaun

MAJOR TYPES OF CARD FRAUD

1. Phishing:

Phishing is the fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, Personal Identification Number (PIN) and debit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy company in an electronic communication.

Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail, text message(SMS) or instant messaging (yahoo chat, hotmail chat etc), and it often direct users to enter details on a fake websites that are almost identical (or sometimes identical) to the legitimate company.

The email is delivered to one’s inbox usually with the legitimate company’s email address (e.g. info@interswitchng.com). This is achieved by using a technique called spoofing.

E-mail spoofing is a term used to describe fraudulent e-mail activity in which the sender address and other parts of the e-mail header are altered to appear as though the e-mail originated from a different source. This is achieved by changing certain properties of the e-mail, such as the ‘From’, ‘Return-Path’ and ‘Reply-To fields’ (which can be found in the message header), ill-intentioned users can make the e-mail appear to be from someone other than the actual sender. The result is that, although the e-mail appears to have originated from the address indicated in the ‘From’ field (found in the e-mail headers) it actually comes from a fraudulent source. This is similar to forging the letter head paper of another company.

2. Counterfeit Card Fraud:

This form of card fraud takes place when a card is printed, embossed or encoded without a card issuer’s permission.

Most cases of counterfeit fraud involves the process know as skimming where the original data on a card’s magnetic stripe is copied onto another card without the legitimate cardholder’s knowledge.

In order to avoid your card being skimmed – BE VIGILANT. Never let your card out of your sight while paying for goods and services at any merchant location.

3. Card-not-present (CNP) fraud:

This form of card fraud is committed mostly over the internet.

Card details are gotten through the theft of card details such as PIN number, card number and expiry date from discarded receipts or by copying your card details when carrying out a transaction.

# Protecting Yourself Against Fraud

Protecting yourself can be as simple as keeping your eyes and ears open. Here are some steps to help keep your card information secure.

A. Use Alerts

Some banks currently offer the option of receiving transaction alerts either on your mobile phone or email. This keeps you updated and on top of all your card activity or transactions.

InterSwitch has also gone a step further to include an automated card deactivation feature, meaning if you suspect that your card is being used fraudulently, this feature ensures the card is automatically blocked or deactivated. In other words, when an alert is received about a transaction you clearly did not initiate (or you are not sure of) you can block your card immediately by replying the text message.

Please ask your bank today for more information on MoneyGuard.

B. CARD & PIN Safety – DOs & DONTs

* DO

o Report lost or stolen cards immediately.

o Protect your debit, cash or Verve cards as if they were cash.

o MEMORIZE your PIN - Never write down your PIN.

o Ensure you change your PIN regularly at the ATM.

o Ensure that you get your card back after every purchase either at a shop using a POS or at the ATM.

o Ensure you keep copies of your vouchers and ATM receipts

* DONT

o Leave your ATM receipts at the point of withdrawal.

o Lend anyone your debit card. You are solely responsible for its use. (Some debit card misuse can be traced directly to family and friends)

o Ever use your PIN as a password.

o Ever disclose your PIN to ANYONE.

o Ever disclose your PIN to;

o Your Bank

o InterSwitch

o The Telco’s ( e.g. Zain, MTN, Etisalat, Glo, Starcomms etc)

o The Police

o Shop owner

o Any company OR Person for whatever reason

Please note that no one should ask for your PIN.

IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANYONE TO ASK FOR YOUR PIN.

C. Using the ATM Safely

Using your InterSwitch ATM card is a convenient and safe way to get cash. Just be sure to keep in mind the following safety tips:

o Be vigilant

Avoid using ATMs in lowly lit or dark areas.

o Guard your pin

Guard your P IN

always, always use your free hand to cover the keys as your PIN is being entered.

o Be on the lookout for any suspicious actions, cancel all transactions and leave if you are suspicious of individuals around.

o Do not leave ATM receipts behind

Never leave your ATM receipts behind; your debit card details can be copied.

o Do not accept help from strangers

Never accept help from strangers.

D. Online safety

· It is important to apply extra caution while on the internet.

· Never send your PIN or card details in the body of an email.

· Beware of emails asking for your PIN and card details they are false.

· Before initiating online transactions be sure that the website has adequate security features to protect your debit card information.

· Check InterSwitch web merchant partner list/page for the list of registered and certified merchants that are safe to purchase items from.

· BEWARE of emails generally appearing to be from InterSwitch, your Bank or a Telecoms company either stating an upgrade on the network or requesting your PIN to claim prizes in a non existing ( or sometimes existing) promo. These emails are bogus; these companies will NEVER ask for your card details either for any upgrade or before you redeem prizes. BEWARE!

· Avoid using public computer to shop online i.e. Cybercaf√©.

E. Text message.

* Ignore all text messages or SMS informing you that you have won a prize and you should go to the ATM to claim it.

They are different gimmicks of fraudsters and are not genuine.

* Never give your ATM card details or account information to anyone claiming to be from your bank OR Telecoms in order for you to redeem prizes.

Open Source vs. Closed Source Software: The Great Debate

by: Jefferson Daniel

1) Open Source Software

Open source software can be defined as software distributed under a licensing agreement which allows the source code (computer code) to be shared, viewed and modified by other users and organisations.

Cost

Open source software is free. This is a huge draw card, and if your in-house capabilities are such that you are able to implement, train and support at little cost to your organization it may be an attractive option. Having said that, open source software requires a certain level of technical expertise in order to manage content. It is therefore important to take into consideration the costs incurred once the software is obtained may be substantial unless the resources are already in place to manage it. Long term costs include the cost of implementation, innovation, the opportunity cost incurred battling with service/support issues, and the costs associated with investment in infrastructure due to a general inability to scale (assuming the organisation will grow and develop and will therefore have evolving requirements). Notably, open source software providers are increasingly charging for add- ons, additional services and integration. The total cost of ownership for open source software may roughly equal some closed source options as a result.

Service and Support

Service is one of the key issues regarding open source software. Open source software relies on its online community network to deliver support via forums and blogs. While there are massive, loyal and engaged online communities that users can turn to, time-poor consumers of today are familiar with the immediate service and support that enables issues to be resolved in a timely manner, and these communities cannot guarantee the high level of responsive service and support proprietary software can offer.

Innovation

Open source software enables innovation by providing users with the freedom and flexibility to adapt the software to suit, without restriction. However, innovation may or may not be passed on to all users of the software. It is a user’s prerogative whether they wish to share their innovation with any online communities, and users must be actively participating in these communities to become aware of such innovations. It has been debated whether customized changes to the original source code limit the future support and growth of the software, as these can potentially result in a limited ability to apply future updates, fixes or modules aimed at improving the software, leaving the user with a version that may have irresolvable issues. It is relevant to note that open source software providers generally struggle to attract large scale R&D.

Usability

Open source software has been highly criticized for its lack of usability, as generally, the technology is not reviewed by usability experts and does not cater to the vast majority of computer users. Open source software is generally developer-centric, and without system administration experience or the knowledge required to manipulate programming language, use of the software and ability to fix errors as they arise is often limited to those with technical expertise. Furthermore, open source software does not legally require documentation such as user manuals or guides, hindering the creation of such tools. When documentation is provided, it is often general, containing implicit jargon, inhibiting learning. Without adequate documentation users must rely on alternative means such as online communities, assuming they are capable of finding them and the problem is one others have encountered or are willing to help resolve.

Security

Open source software is often viewed as having security issues. New data from Forrester Research has shown that 58% of IT Executives and technology decision makers in large companies are concerned about the security of open source software. Open source software is not necessarily developed in a controlled environment. While big players often have a concentrated development team, oftentimes the software is being developed by individuals all over the world who may not work on the software for the duration of its developing lifetime. This lack of continuity and common direction can lead to barriers to effective communication surrounding the software. Furthermore, open source software is not always peer reviewed or validated for use. While users are free to examine and verify source code, the level of expertise required means that it is entirely possible for a programmer to embed back door Trojans to capture private and confidential information without the user ever knowing. Adopting a reputable brand with a concentrated development team supported by a strong online community will reduce the potential risk.

2) Closed Source Software

Closed source software can be defined as proprietary software distributed under a licensing agreement to authorized users with private modification, copying and republishing restrictions.

Cost

The cost of proprietary software will vary from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the system required. This cost is made up of a base fee for software, integration and services and annual licensin g/support fees. This cost may be prohibitive for some; however what the user is paying for is a more customized product from a trusted brand that includes higher levels of security and functionality, continuous innovation, a greater ability to scale, ongoing training and support and a lower requirement for technical skills. In order to support these elements and maintain high availability websites, a mechanism must be in place to recoup the costs. As mentioned previously, increasingly open source software providers are also charging for add-ons, additional services, and integration, reducing the gap in cost between the two options.

Service and Support

If the internet is an important channel for an organisation, software is often a secondary concern, with service level and support structure requirements taking precedent in favour of maximising uptime and minimising downtime. Service is probably the greatest advantage of using proprietary software. Proprietary software providers offer ongoing support to users, a key selling point for users without technical expertise. If the user manual or guide is not enough, or if a user experiences a problem with the software, there is an immediate point of call to turn to for assistance. There is a certain reduction in the risk undertaken with proprietary software because users are working with companies that are viable, and people with intimate knowledge of the products and services being used should any questions arise. Because service is one of the main reasons users choose proprietary over open source software, many proprietary software providers compete on service, increasing the b argaining power of buyers and thereby increasing customer service levels among providers.

Innovation

Proprietary software providers do not allow users to view or alter the source code. While this may be viewed as a disadvantage to some, it ensures the security and reliability of the software. Furthermore, many proprietary software providers customize software for specific users to provide more flexibility while investing in R&D in order to regularly offer new products and upgrades. Moreover, proprietary software providers have online user communities that create value by sharing ideas, strategies and best practices through feedback mechanisms such as forums and surveys, which also foster innovation and allow the product to adapt with changing needs. This innovation comes fully tested, and is available to all users of the software. It does not require investment in R&D or the technical understanding of source code, and assistance with implementation is generally part of the package. Because vendors must ensure their software does not become redundant, users also benefit from the type of targeted innovation undertaken- continuous investment in R&D rather than “innovation for innovation’s sake”, business focused rather than technology focused.

Usability

Proprietary software generally employs expert usability testing, and as the software is normally aimed at a more targeted audience, and therefore more tailored, usability is generally ranked quite high. In addition, detailed user manuals and guides are provided. This enables faster training and provides an immediate reference, allowing users to move along the learning curve more quickly. Supporting services include seminars, targeted training courses and extensive support to help maximise use of the software. It is also important to note that while many people see proprietary software as “closed”, today’s proprietary software offers a vast array of mechanisms for enhancement by third party systems and developers.

Security

Proprietary software is viewed as more secure because it is developed in a controlled environment by a concentrated team with a common direction. Moreover, the source code may be viewed and edited by this team alone, and is heavily audited, eliminating the risk of back door Trojans and reducing the risk of any bugs or issues with the software.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

11 Ways Computer Viruses Are Spread

by: Stephen Mulberry

It is the worst nightmare of every computer user: you wake up one day and realize that you have a virus, and you don’t know quite how to get rid of it. Most people these days understand what a virus is and how harmful it can be, but they are still somewhat unsure how computer viruses spread. The truth is that there are dozens of different ways in which a virus can spread from computer to computer, but let’s take a look at the most frequent ways in which people run into viruses, spyware and Trojans on the Internet.

1. Email attachments. The world became familiar with the phenomena of email attachments carrying viruses thanks to Microsoft’s Outlook Express automatically opening every attachment to every email you received a few years back. Now that email clients no longer do this, the infection rate from email attachments is significantly lower, but it can still be a common problem. The golden rule is that if you don’t know what an attachment is, don’t open it. To this day, many email users never open attachments, no matter what. You don’t have to take such drastic steps to protect yourself, however; simply use common sense when opening attachments in your email.

2. Rogue Websites. It is depressing to know that you may become infected with spyware or a virus by doing nothing more than simply visiting a website, but it is true. Many adult websites, gambling websites and other less than trustworthy websites will attempt to automatically access your computer when you visit them. They often install adware bugs that will cause a flurry of pop ups to appear on your screen. This adware will often allow for other programs with even more nefarious purposes to be installed and before you know it, your computer will be swamped. To stop these rogue websites, adjust the settings on your antivirus software and firewall so that no outside connections can be made and no programs can be installed without your express permission.

3. Networks. If your computer is connected to a home network or if your work computer is part of a larger network, you may find yourself with an infection through no fault of your own. Someone else on the network downloaded a bug by accident, and within minutes, the entire network could be infected. There isn’t much you can do to stop these kinds of infections, short of having your network administrator ensure that everyone’s antivirus software is up to date so that the invading bug can be removed as quickly as possible.

4. Infected Boot disks. Now that hard drives are obscenely large, the overwhelming percentage of us don’t bother to use boot disks anymore, but a virus can still be spread if an infected disk is in your hard drive and you attempt to restart. When you start your computer, your machine will always check your drives to see if a disk with boot information is present. If one is, your computer will likely automatically attempt to boot from the disk and not from your drive. If a virus is present, it will often be activated and you will become infected. Always know the origin of any disk you put into your drive.

5. Phishing Schemes. Learning how computer viruses spread is important to keep yourself, and your personal information, safe online. Phishing schemes are one of the chief ways in which people end up with their identity stolen and a computer fill of viruses. A phishing scheme starts when you receive an email from a website claiming to be your bank or credit card company. You are asked to click a link and log in, but the truth is that you’ve just given away all of your personal information. Often times, when you visit these sites, spyware, adware and viruses are automatically installed on your computer (see Rogue Websites, above). Your lender or credit card will often send out a real notice that let’s you know that a phishing scheme is going around. The smartest thing you can do is to simply call your bank or credit card company if you receive an email saying there is a problem with your account instead of blindly following links in your email.

6. Infected Software. One of the great things about the Internet is how many free games and programs there are out there, but these free programs often come at a price. Too many rogue websites intentionally infect their freeware (like Kazaa) with trojan viruses so that you unknowingly infect your computer every time you download a free game or piece of software. The key here is to only download freeware or shareware from a trusted source like CNet that always ensures your safety.

7. Hackers. The Internet today is a much more law abiding place than it was ten years ago. Not only did most people not have antivirus protection and firewalls that could stop incoming attacks, most people didn’t even know what they were. Today, people understand the value of good online protection, but hackers can still pose a problem if you allow your protection software to lapse. The best way to beat hackers is to ensure that you have a firewall and up to date antivirus software.

8. Instant Messaging. It is difficult to find a computer in this day and age that doesn’t have at least one instant messaging service installed on it. Unfortunately, these programs are often targets of hackers who see an easy way to trick people into clicking links that lead them to rogue websites. Common sense can keep you out of trouble, however. Only chat with people you know and never follow links to sites that you don’t recognize. You should easily be able to keep Internet worms, viruses and other bugs at bay.

9. Fake Anti Virus Software. This is one of the most frustrating ways to become infected with a virus or worm. There are dozens of anti virus and anti spyware programs you can download for free on the Internet and a surprising number of them actually do exactly the opposite of what they claim. The product websites make outrageous claims that their product can protect you from a whole range of threats, when, in reality, their product will only make things a thousand times worse. Only download antivirus programs from trusted sites or from websites that you know are completely legit.

10. From Mobile Devices. A recent story in the newspaper should serve as a wake up call for anyone who is getting ready to plug in a mobile device into their computer for the first time. A family purchased a digital picture frame from a local store and when they attempted to install the software that came with it, they inadvertently infected their computer with a virus. There really is no way to stop such an infection from happening, since we all buy peripherals that work with our computer, but we can ensure that we have the tools ready to go if an infection should happen. Keep your anti virus software up to date at all times and you should be able to wrestle control back from any Internet bug.

11. Friends and Relatives. Often times, we are sent viruses through our email from people that we know and trust. The social networking site Facebook has had to battle this very problem when their serves get a bug and automatically send out emails to everyone on the system that are infected. Often times, these emails are extremely generic sounding and come with suspicious attachments, but people often open them anyway since they have come from a friend or from a site they trust, like Facebook. Remember, if you get an attachment with an .exe extension or a .dll, don’t ever open it.

Learning how computer viruses spread is the best way we can put an end to their reign of terror online. It is only with the right knowledge and the best antivirus software that Internet users everywhere can beat online bugs for good.

Upgrading Old vs Buying New Computer

by: Semilore David

The world of IT and computing as come to a point where innovation,new developments,upgrades etc as become the trend. More often than not,most if not all gadgets or equipments only have a lifeline of few months,for them to become old or not good enough.

This as made competition become the in-thing among vendors and this as also affected the pocket or purchasing power of consumers. It as become very common among the consumers of the following items in particular:Computers(Laptop.Desktop,servers and other components),Mobile and Fixed line phones,Motor Vehicles e.t.c

You've come to a point where you need to upgrade to a higher spec of computer but you don't have enough cash to make the change. I have over time used a method to overcome this issue,thereby saving money and getting the higher grade that i want. I will for now limit this to Computers.

The basic components of most systems are: OS,Screen size,Weight,Optical Drive,Memory,Hard disk & Processor. Among all this,the basic ones which determine prices are: Optical Drive,Memory,Hard Disk and Processor.

The catch here is this: If i have a system of about $250 with obviously a lower spec and a new or a higher spec one which goes for $450. what i readily do is to buy (Optical drive,Memory & Hard drive) of a higher spec and install on the old/lower spec system. this normally cost me around $80 - $120,which comes to about $320 - $370,therefore,saving about $80 - $130

This is a simple tactics which could save from hundreds to thousands of dollars on a budget.

A check on the net will get you more than enough information on the above subject.

One of the main considerations on the above mechanism is to know where this components are located and how to fixed them.

If you'd like to send questions to me, please feel free to visit my Website and I'll be happy to answer your queries, or point you in the right direction.

Good luck, and happy computing!

Preventing The Loss Of Valuable Data

by: Johnny Wilkinson

PREVENTING THE LOSS OF VALUABLE DATA

It’s a known fact that computer system data is the livelihood of any organization. No company can continue business in the event of total loss of data. The loss of data may also affect private individuals to a large extent. Imagine taking photographs while on holiday at an international destination costing you thousands of dollars or losing photographs of a wedding that cannot be repeated.

Therefore preventing the loss of your valuable data should become a major priority. As Imperative Technology, we are experts in the field of recovering lost computer data and have been involved in almost all data loss situations. Although after losing your data, we are able to assist you to recover your lost data. But unfortunately it’s not always possible to help all our clients, as there are situations where storage media may be damaged beyond the level of repair or successful recovery. We trust this article will assist you to prevent losing your data in the first place. We all understand by making backups will prevent you from losing data, but there are many key factors and different options to prevent the loss of data.

This document may be distributed freely. All our services are listed at the end of this document.

KEY POINTS

Ensure that your data is duplicated on at least one other device that is not connected to your computer / server that’s been backed up in any way.

By making a backup of your data is not enough, you need to ensure the data that’s been backed up IS WORKING!

Do not trust ANY software that reports a backup has been done successfully. The only way to ensure that data has been backed up effectively is to test the data. This is usually done by Test Restore Procedures.

Use an effective Anti-virus solution.

Connect a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to all critical computers/servers for protection against lightning and power surges.

Install & configure your computer hardware correctly as described later in this document.

Protect your data from theft by means of Firewall configuration.

Ensure minimum Disaster Recovery Policies & Procedures are in place.

I trust the information in this document will assist you in preventing the loss of data.

Yours truly,

JOHNNY WILKINSON

Data Recovery Specialist

BACKUP SOLUTIONS

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With so many backup solutions to choose from, we’ll highlight some of the problem areas and solutions when using various backup options.

BACKUP SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS

When choosing a backup software application, the following considerations are necessary:

The best solution is to rather have a completely accessible copy of your data, as in the complete file and folder structure with individual files being accessible in relevant software applications. This is without needing to restore your data from single backup files, before using the data. For clarity sake, after a backup, the backup files should be immediately accessible as if you were using the files from your local hard drive.

Although the above solution is not always practical, due to data capacity, automation requirements, time frame of backup completion requirements etc. The risk of using backup software applications that create a single backup file, has to be considered:

A large single compressed backup file may become corrupt resulting in no data accessible. This will require specialist data recovery services to repair/re-corrupt the file. Major Research and Development goes into repairing corrupt files. It is obvious that Data Recovery companies develop recovery processes for well-known industry standard type software applications. Therefore choose an acceptable industry standard type software solution for your backups such as normal Windows backup or Veritas Backup Exec etc. where scalable network backup solutions are required. If you choose a proprietary backup solution not commonly known in the industry, chances are no Data Recovery companies have developed recovery and file repair processes for such an application, resulting in huge data recovery costs.

The same software package will be necessary to restore the data, this aspect is sometimes overseen when archiving data, without realizing that software becomes outdated and might not be available at the time a data restore is required. We recommend keeping a copy of all backup software safeguarded when a restore of archived data may be required.

DVD/CD BACKUPS

Burning files to DVD or CD may be a risk, provided that each and every file is tested afterwards by opening the files from the DVD/CD with the relevant software applications. Although this seems to be a tedious task, CD miss-burns is a reality that occurs very often. We recommend the following when storing data on DVD/CD:

Compress the files using a compression utility such as Winzip and burn the ZIP file to CD; the following advantages will be applicable:

Once the ZIP file is written to CD, test the file from CD as if you need to extract the file. If the ZIP file displays the content of compressed files, all files will automatically be accessible.

The CD File System has many limitations such as; long file names, depth of directory path etc. By burning a single ZIP file, all limitations will be ignored.

Time, capacity and number of CD’s, will also be advantageous.

Using DVD/CD’s as an archiving solution is not recommended as the media only lasts for a number of years depending on manufacturer etc. The most effective solution for archiving data is explained under “Archiving Data”.

MEMORY STICKS / FLASH DRIVES

Please note, this storage device was designed mostly for transporting data from one computer to another, using it as a mobile device. A USB memory stick should not be used for data backups and is not regarded as a reliable storage device. Ensure after using this device to safely unplug/remove the device prior to disconnecting the device. (Usually an icon with a green arrow bottom right on your screen)

It’s also recommended not to store files on a memory stick by means of saving it to memory stick directly from within a software application. Rather save files on your local disk and afterwards copy the files to the device using Windows Explorer etc.

EXTERNAL DRIVES

External drives use different interfaces of connectivity such as USB, Firewire, SATA, ESATA etc. USB is the slowest of them all. Although all computers have a standard USB interface, to use most of the other interfaces, an interface card is required for connectivity. External drives are devices with standard desktop and notebook computer drives within the external casing. These drives are acceptable to use for data backups but should only be used as an additional copy of your data.

In the event of electronic failure of the external case, there is a chance that the internal drive might be in perfect working order. This may be tested by removing the internal drive from the case, connecting the drive to a standard desktop computer, as a secondary drive. Please note by removing the drive from the case might affect your warrantee, but as we know the cost of the external device is hardly a comparison to the value of the data.

When using these drives for backup purposes, it is recommended not to use a proprietary software application that is shipped with some of the external drives. Rather use standard Windows backup if that is your Operating System of choice. Even better, create backup folder names by date and manually copy required backup files as separate files & folders to the disk. Although much discipline is required for backups if no automated processes are in place. By having readily accessible files as a backup is a far smaller risk than compressed single backup files.

NETWORK DATA BACKUP SOLUTIONS

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Use well-known Industry standard Backup Solutions only. When using a network backup solution to backup multiple servers, a fully automated solution is a critical requirement. Network backup software and hardware depends on very specific requirements. It is necessary to employ the services of a company that specialize in Backup Solutions to suit specific needs as all organizations have different requirements.

When choosing a reliable Software Backup Solution for a Network, the following components and considerations are necessary:

Planning regarding capacity of data vs. capacity of Backup Media / hardware platform

Implementation of suitable network backup software which includes the following backup agents:

Ensure to implement various agents to backup multiple Operating systems in a cross-platform network environment.

SQL Agent – To backup SQL Databases

MS Exchange Agent – To backup all e-mail configurations

Open Files Agent – To backup files that are open while accessed by network users

Accelerator Agent – While doing backups, it’s not recommended to run backups while the servers are being accessed by network users because of utilization of the backup process, which puts an additional load on the server. When backups cannot be completed overnight, an accelerator agent may be added to speed up the process.

Autoloader Agent – Used when more than one backup tape is required during a single backup process.

Disaster Recovery Agent – Various commercial network backup software solutions offer additional components for disaster recovery, these agents allow the booting from diskette to restore directly from backup media without the need to install and configure Operating systems and backup software. This reduces down time.

ARCHIVING DATA

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Using DVD/CD’s, as an archiving solution is not recommended as the media only lasts for a number of years depending on manufacturer etc. The most effective solution for archiving data is to store data on a normal desktop type hard drive, preferably multiple copies. Data on these hard drives should be stored in a readily accessible format with separate file and folder structures, in uncompressed format and should be kept in a fire-proof strong room. Off-site storage of data is also recommended. A copy of every software application used to create all data including all serial numbers, access codes to operate the software should be stored on the same disk. This is in the event where software programs become outdated and are no longer in use, at the time where access to old data may be required.

In the event of loose separate hard drives, data should not be spanned across disks where more than one disk is required to restore even a single file.

When using backup tapes for archiving, only tapes with full backups should be considered. Incremental backups of data spanned across multiple tapes are a risk, as all tapes in the backup set are required to do a full restore. Rather store data in chunks as a full backup on a tape-by-tape basis. With damage to one of the tapes, only a partial data loss will be applicable.

The above only applies to environments of small data capacity requirements. There are many scalable Data Archiving Architectures available where large amounts of data archiving are required. Companies that specialize in off-site storage and business continuity will assist you with these requirements.

Example Requirements of most Government Regulations

Records must be stored in their original form without risk of alteration or deletion.

Records must be accurate and complete from the time they are created.

Records should be easily retrievable.

Disaster recovery plans should be in place, such as storing duplicate records off-site.