Archive for March, 2006

No Windows Vista until 2007 – In the meantime will some stickers do?

Friday, March 31st, 2006

There's not going to be a release of any consumer editions of Windows Vista but [tag]Microsoft[/tag] are hoping that stickers will help jittery buyers.  These stickers will be used to mark "[tag]Windows Vista[/tag] Capable" PCs and you should be seeing them in the shops real soon.

What is a "[tag]Windows Vista Capable[/tag]" PC?  To be eligible to display a sticker, the PCs must pass certification requirements for the Designed for Windows XP logo plus some extra hardware requirements.  Specifically they must have a modern CPU, at least 512MB of RAM and a DirectX 9 capable graphics card.


Via Technologies to support TPM

Friday, March 31st, 2006

[tag]Via Technologies[/tag] has announced that it is planning to support the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) on some of their motherboards.

[tag]TPM[/tag] is supported by both Intel and AMD and it is seen by some as a solution to online identity theft (well, it might be if everyone had it and providing it is robust enough to rely on).  The Lenovo ThinkPad already include a TMP which is used to store encryption keys that lock the data on the system - handy in the event of laptop theft or loss.  Some are also worried that TPM will be used by Microsoft in [tag]Windows Vista[/tag] to [tag]DRM[/tag] content.

No word as yet as to which motherboards will support TPM.

Here’s why you should be careful of online storage

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Everyone's alway on about free stuff that they can get online.  Many of the services that are available are excellent but some cannot and should not be relied on.  Online storage is one.  We're shifting more and more of our data onto computers that are outside of out control (email is one example, photos is another).  Here's an example of why you shouldn't rely on these services:

An Eastman Kodak Co. manager claims she was fired for protesting a cost-saving proposal that would have quietly compressed millions of digital images stored by customers on the world's leading online photography site.

While acknowledging it has discussed ways to cut back on the rising cost of online storage, Kodak insisted Thursday it would never condense images in a lower-resolution format -- and thereby potentially diminish their quality -- ``without our customers' knowledge.''

The article seems to suggest that [tag]Kodak[/tag] wanted to cut costs by compressing the 800 million or so images that they are hosting for about 13 million users.  Problem is, compressing the images cuts the quality.

Now for anyone who has a backup, this wouldn't be a problem.  The online images would be inferior to the backups but that wouldn't be so bad.  The problem comes when the online copy is the only copy.  Any alteration made to the online copy is permanent.

My advice is simple - make use of online services all you want but don't rely on them.  Have a backup that you can lay your hand on!  Nothing feels as good as having a backup!

Confirmation that the “massaging a dead pixel” trick works

Friday, March 31st, 2006

BrainFuel has posted confirmation that the "massaging dead pixels back to life" trick does actually work.  Cool.  There's an article on WikiHow on doing this too but the article is a little vague.  Check this out:

  1. Turn off your computer monitor.
  2. Get yourself a damp cloth, so that you don't scratch your screen.
  3. Apply pressure to the area where the stuck pixel is. Do not put pressure anywhere else, as this may make more stuck pixels.
  4. While applying pressure, turn on your computer and screen.
  5. Remove pressure and the stuck pixel should be gone. This works as the liquid in the liquid crystal has not spread into each little pixel. This liquid is used with the backlight on your monitor, allowing different amounts of light through, which creates the different colours.

The emphasis above is mine.  How do you add pressure to just where the dead pixel is without putting pressure on a much bigger area and possibly making things worse?

Another trick that I've found is to use a color flashing video that Sony released for the PSP (to fix pixel problems on the PSP I guess).  The process is detailed in and the video is available for download from his site.  This video changes the screen color at a rate of 30 times a second and running this for 30 minutes or so (or longer) on the area with the problem might fix it.

But there's more.  There's a free program called UDPixel (short for undead pixel I guess) that will do the same thing.  Download this and run it on the area with the dead (or tired) pixel or pixels for a few hours and see if that works.

I'm trying this out as I speak on a flat panel which has  one dead pixel and will report back later.

Questions from Visitors – If I browse the Internet with Firefox, am I safe?

Friday, March 31st, 2006

This week's tips are based on questions that I've received from visitors to the site over the past few weeks. 

"If I browser the Internet using nothing other than Firefox then am I save from all the viruses, adware and spyware I keep reading about?"

You might be safer, but you're not 100% safe.  Nasties can come to your PC from a number of different routes.  You are right that Firefox does go some way to making making your PC safer but there are still risks from being send an email containing malware (a name used to describe viruses, Trojans, adware, spyware and other malicious applications) or that you download and install something that contains a deliberate or accidental back door into your system.  On top of that there's the danger from hackers getting access to your system.

In addition to running Firefox I'd recommend that you have antivirus and a firewall installed and that you keep both updated regularly.