Thursday, March 25, 2010

Make Your Computer Last Longer

Make Your Computer Last Longer
The average computer lasts anywhere from two-five years. Eventually, your computer will tear up beyond repair or become so out-of-date that you can no longer use the latest software or accessories along with it, and you'll have to begin the dreaded, inevitable search for a replacement. Buying a new computer is a hassle if you don't know exactly what you're looking for and you aren't familiar with what's current. And of course, with today's economy and job market, you're probably cutting corners whenever possible. New computers can be expensive. Here are a few tips on how you can make your current computer last longer.

If your computer is older and it's running well, there's no need to get rid of it just yet. If you're using it for simple tasks such as word processing, surfing the internet, or manging pictures, age shouldn't be much of a factor. Routine maintenance will keep your computer running smoothly, save you money, and maybe even extend the life of your PC.

The temperature can have a big impact on your computer and cause a lot of damage. Computers generate a lot of heat and at one time had to be stored in climate-controlled rooms. You don't need to keep your living room or home office at a set temperature, but you do want to keep your PC from overheating. Make sure it's not left in direct sun too long and make sure it's properly ventilated.

You'll also want to keep your computer clean. Extra dust on or around your PC can trap heat and making your cooling fan work even harder. This can lead to lots of wear and tear, and eventually to your fan giving out all together. Be careful where you place the computer. Putting the machine on the floor can lead to lots of dirt and dust build-up. Also avoid any rooms with heavy dust build-up. Of course, no matter how careful you are, your computer is going to accumulate some dust, so you might want to blow it out with compressed air every so often.

Laptops are becoming extremely popular and generally don't last as long as desktops. You may leave your laptop plugged in all the time, but leaving it plugged in is bad for your battery. Apple even recommends users don't keep their laptops constantly plugged in and use the battery at times. A typical battery lasts 300-500 charge cycles, but if you find your battery struggling to stay charged, replacing it is a good idea and an inexpensive way to prevent yourself from having to buy a whole new computer.

Restarting your computer is another way to keep things flowing. Most people reboot when they hit trouble, hoping for a fresh start when the computer comes back on and this is actually a good idea. However, many people also leave their computer running 24/7. There's no set time as to how often you should reboot, but rebooting can give your computer a fresh start, speed things up, and serves as a small refresher to your PC.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Apple to Prepare 12-Core Mac Pros and 27-inch LED Cinema Displays

Apple Dodeca-core Mac ProApple is hard at work putting the "icing on the cake" for a pair of new products that Apple says are targeted at their professional customers. The two devices in question are a larger version of Apple's LED Cinema Display as well as a major upgrade to the Mac Pro workstations according to AppleInsider.

The first product on the list is Apple's Cupertino-based second LED-backlit Cinema Display. The new version will upgrade the previous 24-inch model to a 27-inch model. The 27-inch model has been rumored to have been sitting in the labs at Apple waiting for the displays to arrive. The new model will have a 27-inch diagonal frame which will support a 2560x1440 native resolution.

Since the 27-inch iMacs were so successful, Apple now believes that they can market the displays at a much more affordable price. Apple has also said that they fixed the problems that plagued the same size panels ultimately slowing the momentum of the larger iMac offerings back when they released in October 2009.

But the increased monitors are not the only thing Apple is coming up with. The company is also producing their boldest update to the Mac Pro they have ever done. Details about the update are still kind of scarce but anybody familiar with the matter were very clear in stating that Mac maker's plans call for a dodeca-core model which supports a pair of Intel's latest Westmere-bashed hexacore chips totaling out at 12 cores.

Another rumor floating around is that Apple will more than likely stay with its existing Xeon strategy by putting in a pair of not-so-cheap Xeon 5600 Series "Gulftown" chips into a dodeca-core Mac Pro. Apple will also be offering a single processor model with only 6 cores with a price similar to the $2,500 quad-core model.

Both the 27-inch monitor and the 5600 Series should be available by June with the 5600 Series coming in 2.66, 2.8, 2.93 and 3.33GHz configurations with a price ranging anywhere from $996 to $1663 in lots of 1000. The new 32 nanometer chips have 12MB of L3 cache as well as 6 cores with 12 threads for each CPU.

Whichever rout you go, either the single or the double Xeon model, be prepared to shell out a nice chunk of change. However, by doing so you will definitely be rewarded in the end. No official release date has been set but we should see these products sometime this June.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Never Use These Passwords

Never Use These Passwords

Computer security is more important than ever these days and one of the most simple things you can do to protect yourself is come up with a password that is not easy to guess. Sure, it's tempting to come up with something easy for your own benefit; with all of passwords we have to remember these days, you probably find yourself forgetting your passwords if you don't keep careful documentation of them, but an easy password is like an invitation to anyone looking to steal your information.

According to researchers at the University of Maryland's James Clark School of Engineering in College Park, unsecured computers are hacked into over 2,000 times a day or every 39 seconds. Study leader Michel Cukier says it's a lot more common than you think, "Most of these attacks employ automated scripts that indiscriminately seek out thousands of computers at a time, looking for vulnerabilities. Our data provide quantifiable evidence that attacks are happening all the time to computers with Internet connections. The computers in our study were attacked, on average, 2,244 times a day."

Hackers are experts at coming up with passwords. For example, many people use their user name as their password. If you think you're being clever, guess again. 43% of the time, hackers are able to guess passwords by simply guessing that it's the user name. So what other kind of passwords are common and easily guessed? Below is a list of the ten most common passwords:

  1. User Name
  2. User Name with 123 at the end
  3. 123456
  4. the word "password"
  5. 1234
  6. 12345
  7. passwd
  8. 123
  9. test
  10. 1

If any of these sound familiar, you probably need to change your information immediately. In addition, you might want to reconsider your user name if it's one of these top ten common user names:

  1. root
  2. admin
  3. test
  4. guest
  5. info
  6. adm
  7. mysql
  8. user
  9. administrator
  10. oracle

Once a hacker gains access to your computer, any number of things can happen. According to the study, the first things they do are check your software configuration, change your password, check your hardware and software configuration again, download a file, install the downloaded program and run the downloaded program.

But why are they doing this? Often, they are creating a "botnet." A botnet monitors your computer and reports back to the hacker. They can lead to fraud or identity theft, disrupt other networks or damage computer files, and lots of other criminal activity.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Safe Eyes 6.0 Parental Internet Control Program

safe eyes 6.0There are a variety of different types of parental control programs out there right now. Some force your kids to behave themselves while utilizing the Internet by reporting all of their actions to you. Other programs tend to stress parent-child communication instead of using strict control. Now the majority of these programs fall somewhere in between these two extremes. There goal is to keep kids from mistakenly or purposely finding sights that you want them to stay away from. Safe Eyes 6.0 is taking the middle ground. It has been deemed a “family Internet manager,” meaning that it is trying promote parent-child communication while still keeping its protective features.

The new 6.0 version is set up in a much different manner than the previous Safe Eyes program. When you log into the administrator page, there is a list of topics such as Web sites, music, games, internet messaging, videos, etc. that you can view the history of. This new page is a lot easier to navigate as it is a lot less busy. Safe Eyes is for both Mac and Windows platforms, so instead of utilizing either platform’s standard help system, Safe Eyes has designed built-in help pages. It is also important to notes that unlike many other parental control programs, Safe Eyes works exactly the same on either a Mac or Windows platform.

User Profiles
With Safe Eyes, you are the given the ability to install your program on up to three computers in your household, and once you create user profiles, they will be shared on all the different computers. You can create up to 10 profiles with Safe Eyes.

The settings page will allow you to see an overview of the settings of each account, including the administrators account. Also on this page, you will be able to make any high-level changes that are necessary.

Internet Filtering and Searching
Safe Eyes conveniently gives you the ability to block dozens of websites without having to specifically go through and name all of those sites. Safe Eyes has a list of dozens of categories that you can block automatically. They also allow you to select an age range that will then automatically block certain categories that they believe to be generally inappropriate. You are also given the opportunity to chose low, medium, or high filtering under each category.

You can also turn on safe search which will not allow your child to see search results for certain terms that they might try to look up. Things that you may specifically block with safe search include any search that might have profanity, sexually-suggestive material, or any other thing you defined as “bad” for that user.

Videos and Music
On sights like YouTube, kids can find anything from news items to porn. Many parents may feel the need to just block this sight entirely, but Safe Eyes has worked hard to filter through sites such as YouTube. Safe Eyes will filter out any inappropriate content on YouTube by checking metadata, tags, titles, and YouTube’s “inappropriate” flagged content. Safe Eyes will also filter through movie and TV clips by examining their MPAA movie rating or FCC TV rating. You can easily customize which user can view what kind of rated content by determining whether they can see G and TV-G, PG and TV-PG, or PG-13 and TV-14. Safe Eyes monitors videos from sites like Hulu, ABC, NBC, FOX, and iTunes. With sites like iTunes, Safe Eyes will restrict your child from downloading songs that have explicit lyrics.

The activity report that can be found on the administrator’s page will show you all videos that have been watched by users and all of the videos that have been blocked from your child. On this page, you can easily view what your child has been watching by clicking on a thumbnail next to contents summary. This makes monitoring what your children are watching quite easy.

Instant Messaging and E-mail
Safe Eyes has come up with a unique way for you to be able to monitor your kids emailing. You are given the ability to block any e-mails that your child receives except from senders that you yourself have whitelisted. It will also allow you to see all of the messages that your child receives including those that have been blocked.

Safe Eyes has not yet developed anything that will monitor Facebook or Myspace chatting, but it does check up on AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger. If you choose to monitor your child’s web conversations, Safe Eyes will record every conversation that your child has online so that you can check up on them.

Game and Program Control
The control over the games that your child plays is quite easy to use. You can simply block any game websites that you don’t want your child to access. Choosing what programs you want your child to be able use is just as easy. Simply block all of the programs that you don’t want them to use and you’re set. Blocking games and programs is very straightforward with Safe Eyes, but the issue with Safe Eyes is that all kids have to do to get around the block is launch a renamed copy of the blocked program.

Protecting Your Personal Information
Kids have a tendency to sometimes reveal a little more personal information then you would like. You probably don’t want your child broadcasting things like your address and phone number, so what Safe Eyes does is let you decide what personal items you don’t want each child to be able to reveal. If your child violates the personal guidelines that you set down for them, Safe Eyes will alert you immediately. Although it would be nice if the program simply didn’t allow your child to post such information, at least it keeps you informed.

Instant Alerts
Safe Eyes gives you a variety of different ways to be notified when your child is violating the settings that you have set down for them. You can be notified via e-mail, phone, or text message. When you first set up all of the accounts on your computer, you choose a sensitivity level for each child. If that child reaches that sensitivity level then you will be immediately notified about what it is that triggered the alert.

Report Configuration
The administrator pages are very easy to navigate. Reports are stored by default. At first you will see the “today’s activity” page, but you can select any date range that you wish to examine. The main page gives you a basic summary of Web sites that have been blocked or allowed as well as the top searches and sites that have been visited. When you dig more deeply into the report, you can easily find all of the URL’s of the sites that have been visited or blocked.

On another page, you can see videos blocked and watched, music choices, and IM conversations, while in yet another section you can see all games and programs that have been used. On the social networking tab, you can view if your child has posted any personal information or profanity. Also, all of the e-mails that your child has received or sent can be viewed in a section as well.

Overall, Safe Eyes 6.0 is a very helpful and useful parental control program. It has a variety of different features that really do allow you to protect your child to the best of your ability. If you’re looking for a good parental control program, Safe Eyes definitely is a program that you should consider.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Desktops Gone in Three Years?

Desktops Gone in Three Years?

Everyone (except maybe my parents) know that desktops are becoming less popular. People are trading in their old computers for newer, more portable models or other devices that allow them to perform many of the same functions (browse the web, check email) on the go. But while speaking at the Digital Landscapes Conference, Google Vice President of Global Ad Operations, John Herlihy, made the shocking prediction that desktops would become obsolete in as little as three years. And he says laptops aren't far behind:

"In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant. In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs. Mobile makes the world’s information universally accessible. Because there’s more information and because it will be hard to sift through it all, that’s why search will become more and more important. This will create new opportunities for new entrepreneurs to create new business models - ubiquity first, revenue later."

But not everyone sees it that way. People from other major tech companies say that while it's true that smartphones and other similar gadgets are becoming increasingly popular, that doesn't necessarily mean desktops, and especially laptops, are going anywhere. Experts believe people will continue to brace new mobile technology, as well as keeping their home computers for other tasks, allowing the two to compliment each other.

Have you ever tried to type on a mobile phone? No matter how fancy your keyboard is, after a while, your hand's going to cramp up and increasing the size of the mobile phone is impractical. In that case, you may as well be carrying around your laptop. Tasks such as creating large word processing documents on your cell phone is probably not going to become trendy anytime in the near future which would make things so much harder on students and working professionals. The same could be said for screen size and weight. Increasing those things would defeat the purpose of having a mobile phone.

Comfort's not the only reason. First of all, battery life is a major factor. Right now, increasing battery life would mean the same thing as increasing the comfort - more power would mean larger phones. And never mind other factors such as software design. Could you imagine gaming only on your phone?

Personally, I'm not an expert, but I think laptops sales will continue to soar. I also think desktops will be around for longer than three years. They may continue to decrease and in the long run, become obsolete, but I just can't picture anyone giving up their computers in favor of mobile phones.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Apple Suing HTC Over iPhone Patents

Apple Sues HTCIt was revealed yesterday that Apple has filed a law suite against HTC stating that the company had infringed upon 20 different patents "related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware." In a statement from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Jobs said, "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

The weird part about this suite is that Apple never told HTC about it. In a statement released by the company to, HTC stated, "We only learned about Apple's actions based on your [Engadget] stories and Apple's press release. We have not been served yet so we are in no position to comment on the claims. We respect and value patent rights but we are committed to defending our own innovations. We have been innovating and patenting our own technology for 13 years."

It appears that Apple has submitted over 700 pages of exhibits to the District Court. But that's not all, the ITC complaint names a bunch of HTC handsets as exhibits which include such devices as the Nexus One, Touch Pro, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro II, Tilt II, Pure, Imagio, Dream/G1, myTouch, 3G, Hero, HD2 and droid Eris. Overall that's a lot of HTC devices, running both Android and Windows Mobile as well as with and without Sense/TouchFLO. What is interesting, however, is that the Android devices are called out specifically because they run Android. Yet the Windows Mobile devices are called out for including DSP chips which has nothing to do with Windows Mobile.

The 20 patents under investigation for the Federal Case are the ones dealing with Time-Based Non-Constant Translation of User Interface Objects Between States, Touch Screen Device, Method and Graphical User Interface for Determining Commands by Applying Heuristics, Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlock Image, List Scrolling and Document Translation, Scaling and Rotation on a Touch Screen Display, System and Method for Managing Power Conditions Within a Digital Camera Device, Automated Response to and Sensing of User Activity in Portable Devices, GMSK Signal Processors for Improved Communications Capacity and Quality, Conserving Power by Reducing Voltage Supplied to an Instruction Processing Portion of a Processor, Object-Oriented Graphic System and Object-Oriented Event Notification System with Listener Registration of Both Interests and Methods.

The patents under investigation in the ITC complaint include Method for Providing Automatic and Dynamic Translation of Object Oriented Programming Language-Based Messages Passing into Operation System Message Passing Using Proxy Objects, Object Oriented Multitasking System, Object Oriented Operating System, Method and Apparatus for Distributing Events in an Operating System, Encapsulated Network Entity Reference of a Network Component System, System and Method for Performing an Action on a Structure in Computer-Generated Data, Message Protocol for Controlling a User Interface from an Interactive Application Program, Real-Time Signal Processing System for Serially Transmitted Data, Method and Apparatus for Handling I/O requests Utilizing Separate Programming Interfaces to Access Separate I/O Service and Extensible, Replaceable Network Component System.

It is still far to early to determine what is going to happen in this case. who knows, maybe there will be a quick settlement or a raging war for the next couple of years. Apple has specifically gone after the Android devices of HTC and has carefully planned every aspect of their attack. Its gone before the ITC as well as the Federal Courts and both have the power to stop HTC from selling devices. How HTC will respond to all of this and whether or not Google will get involved are the next big questions on everybody's minds.

For more iPhone news see:
5 Great iPhone Apps for Your Business

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