Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tips And Tricks For Your New Laptop

You were extra good this year and got a new laptop ... so that you can work from home (oh, joy!). Here are three ways that you can also have some fun with your laptop in 2008. Tip 1: Watch HDTV on your laptop, Tip 2: Transfer YouTube videos to your HDTV , Tip 3: Watch DVDs on a long flight.

Tip 1: Watch HDTV on your laptop
Did you know that you can watch your favourite TV shows without a TV? With the right accessories, you can watch high-definition television on a laptop.

There are many portable high-def tuners, receivers, and antennas available for laptops. Also, you can usually find plenty of HDTV content choices on the road. A common misconception is that high-def signals are available only via cable and satellite transmissions. However, all free-to-air TV stations in Australia are now broadcasting HD signals. This excludes cable favourites such as The Comedy Channel and National Geographic, but at least you can get your HD Sunrise fix.

The NetComm Banksia Digital HD USB TV Tuner, Elgato EyeTV DTT Stick and the ComPro VideoMate U3 DVB-T Stick cost between AU$100 and AU$200 and offer an array of DVR functionality. You may want to check signal availability in your area before purchasing one. Like when you're dealing with old-fashioned rabbit ears, signal strength varies depending on topography and atmospheric conditions.

Tip 2: Transfer YouTube videos to your HDTV
You could watch Internet video on a tiny laptop monitor. But why not hook up your laptop to your state-of-the-art HDTV and watch that ridiculous YouTube video in the living room?

There are many options for connecting your laptop to your HDTV, but you may be limited by outputs and inputs. Unless your laptop was specifically built for home theater use, it probably doesn't have multiple ways to output a video signal to an external display such as your HDTV.

Look at your laptop video card and match up the best connection option that both the display and the laptop share. DVI is becoming more common (replacing analog VGA); it's your best bet for a high-quality connection (that is, HDMI connections on your HDTV). S-Video is another likely option; it appears as a single, black, four-pin cable. It is a few rungs below DVI in terms of quality, but it's far from the worst. The bottom rung in terms of video quality belongs to the composite-video connection (the yellow cord, usually accompanied by the red and white audio jacks).

If you are restricted to a composite-video connection on your laptop, you may prefer to upgrade your laptop if you plan on watching a lot of Internet videos on your TV. Consider a Windows Media Center laptop, such as the Toshiba Qosmio G30. Standard component cables (red, green, and blue) are common with HDTVs, but they're limited to higher-end home theater laptops and PCs.

Tip 3: Watch DVDs on a long flight
Imagine that you have an eight-hour flight with only your laptop and a few DVDs to pass the time. Unfortunately, you can't get enough juice out of the battery to cover your journey.

The powers that be have heard your anguished cries of boredom and have implemented a useful new feature in current-generation laptops. Shell programs allow you to play DVDs and music CDs and to browse media files, saving battery life and skipping the hassle of booting up the OS each time you want to watch a movie or listen to some music. Check with your laptop's manufacturer to see if it offers a proprietary shell program for playing CDs and DVDs.

External Laptop Battery

An external laptop battery could be the perfect solution for those who must use the very mobile conveniences of the laptop, but need the power availability of the larger desktop models. With technology and business on the go growing by leaps and bounds, business men and women (or anyone who has come to depend upon the extreme conveniences of these travel computers) are discovering the challenges that come with being dependent upon mobile networks. The reality of having technology, business, personal information, clients, and files at the one's fingertips at all times has developed an new style of commercial industry. More businesses than ever before have employees and subcontractors that are no longer in office, but on the road, working from home, or taking care of business while flying to new clients and countries around the world.

And so, the business world has changed. But, the challenges of having access to business systems twenty-four-seven has emerged and company tasks cannot be accomplished when that gold old constant computer companion has died for lack of battery power. But, never fear, there has been a response to the need for mobile light-weight, additional power and the result is the external notebook computer battery.

Work and play today equate to work and play on the go. This is a reality of the culture that we live in. As companies continue to expand to world wide enterprises and productions increase to meet the needs of many societies, combining office tasks and travel are necessary. The demands upon technology are high, however. Not only do we need technology to be lighter and easier to manage on an airplane or in the back of a taxi cab, but we need it to accomplish more, know more, file more, and offer more running time. Initially, manufacturers attempted to make better batteries that would last longer, and some have been successful. But, now the external laptop battery is the device that is providing the best solution. Anyone who uses a laptop daily will want to investigate the different models that are available on the market and discover that the amazing external notebook computer battery can add valuable work time by added uninterrupted power.

The new models of external power offer the same mobility that the latest laptop computers are offering. Some of the external laptop battery options available are less than one-half inch thick and weigh less than two pounds. These models will fit into almost any computer case and become part of the necessary accessories that users will need at all times. External notebook computer battery packs can be charged apart from the computer, giving the user the ability to charge in another location. Most of the models on the market will adapt to several of the major manufacturer's models, as well. Different batteries advertise different power times, but most have a run time of five hours with some boasting an eight hour continuous run time. Run time will also depend upon what types of programs are being used on the computer. Programs that require more power, such as games, can drain a battery of power. And with the length of some international flights, additional run time offered from an external source could come in very handy.

Some computer manufactures offer external laptop battery packs as an option with certain models. There are also several manufacturers that make external batteries adaptable to most computers. There are some of these power sources that also come with car adapters, so batteries can be charged without an electrical outlet source. These power sources can usually be used with DVD players, cell phones, electronic games, and cell phones. Those wanting to find a way to extend the running time of their computers can begin price comparison shopping online where many of these power sources are advertised.

When looking for the right power source to extend computer running time, it may be wise to talk to others who have experience in electronics and accessories. As with any new device that enters the market, there are usually a few bugs to work out and the prices come down as the instrument is produced by more manufactures. The Bible, God's Word of wisdom to man, explains that getting the counsel of experts will always lead to making wise decisions and choices. Take time and to not only price-compare when shopping for external notebook computer battery packs, but speak with salesmen and the manufacturer of the laptop, as well.

Consumers will want to also beware of cheaper batteries that are available through the Internet. Poor quality external laptop battery sources do exist in this competitive market. When a battery is as much as thirty percent cheaper than comparable models on the market, consumer may want to assume that the piece has been assembled with cells that do not meet UL standards. Check for UL standards before buying any battery power source.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Find, Remove and Prevent Spyware, Internet Intruders, and Pop-Ups

Spyware is one of the most typical Internet intruders. Spyware, is any product that employs a user's Internet connection in the background without their knowledge, and gathers/transmits info on the user or their behavior. Many spyware products will collect referrer info (information from your web browser which reveals what URL you linked from), your IP address (a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer), system information (such as time of visit, type of browser used, the operating system and platform, and CPU speed.) Spyware products sometimes wrap other commercial products, and are introduced to machines when those commercial products are installed.

Trojans, also known as RATS (remote access Trojans), is another type of Internet intruder. Like the horse of old, a trojan carries with it an unexpected surprise. Trojans do not replicate like a virus, but they do leave behind a program that can be contacted by another computer. From there, they can do just about anything. While it's possible a trojan can be used to take control of a computer, the most common trojans are dialer programs. Dialers are used without your knowledge to make international or premium calls (900-type numbers) from your PC. That's more than an annoyance; it can get expensive.

Trojans are most often hidden in games and other small software programs that unsuspecting users download then unknowingly execute on their PCs. Two common trojans are known as Back Orifice and SubSeven.

Adware is software that displays advertisements to computer users. Some of the most strict definitions of adware include applications that are sponsored for their free use. For example, Gator is one adware that collects users information in exchange for its free use.

Spyware's Symptoms

Spyware, trojans and adware contact other computers, and each of them is program of its own, therefore they use system resources such as CPU cycles, memory and an Internet connection.

Slower Computer Speed

There are several reasons your computer may be running slow, but if you use it on a regular basis, then you're familiar with their normal speed. Older computers tend to run slower. Some applications cause computers to run slower. Computers are machines, they do not have moods. A sudden change in how your computer is running could be a sign of spyware or adware.

E-Mail Symptoms

If you're getting a lot of bounced back mail and see evidence of e-mails being sent without your knowledge, then it's possible that trojan spamware has found its way onto your computer. Spamware is a trojan that can turn your computer into a spam launching pad and create headaches for unknowing computer users, especially if a virus is sent. Even if your computer is not being used to send spam, trojans can steal a copy of your e-mail address book and send it back to a spammer.

Abnormal Behaviors

Victims of some trojans report CD drives opening and shutting, or programs opening and closing. These are all signs a program may be up to no good in the background.

Offline Symptoms

Keyboard loggers can capture passwords and user names, so if the bank, brokerage or credit card accounts you access online appear to have been tampered with, your computer may be a place to start looking for clues. User names and passwords to e-mail and Web-based applications are also vulnerable.
If you have any reason to believe someone is interested in tracking what you do online, scan for spyware regularly.

Pop-Up Advertisements

If the following signs are present, it might be an indication that you are infected with Adware or spyware.

-- Ads pop-up on your desktop or over offline applications such as a word processor
-- Ads pop-up when you visited a Web site or open a new Web page.
-- Pop-ups appear after you visited hacker sites or pornographic sites.
-- The pop-up ads are targeting on terms you have searched recently .

Locating Internet Intruders on Your PC

To locate Internet intruders, your first stop should be the Add/Remove Programs section of your Windows Control Panel (Start Menu --> Settings --> Control Panel). You should also check the Windows Start-Up Folder (C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu) to see if any programs have been added.

Evidence of spyware infestations can also be found in your computer's registry. It is recommended that only experienced computer users change the registry, and there are registry editors available that help makes changes when they are needed. There are also registry monitors that keep track of which applications are accessing your computer's registry.

Removal of Internet Intruders

One of the first things you should do if you find a trojan or spyware on your computer is disconnect it from the Internet. It is probably not enough to just close a browser session; you should pull the phone line out of the wall or disconnect the modem so your computer is not connected to any network.

Spyware and Adware Scanning Software

The easiest way to find and remove spyware and adware is with scanning software. Anti-spyware software is not the same as anti-virus software, although some anti-virus packages will detect some known spyware programs. The good news is that some of the most functional anti-spyware and anti-adware software is free.

Anti-spyware software works in much the same way as anti-virus software. It scans your computer's hard drive and looks for files associated with known spyware and adware programs. After the scan, the software usually displays or quarantines potential problems and allows users to decide what should be removed. As mention earlier, definitions vary and your tolerance to certain advertising-related cookies may be high.

Like anti-virus software, anti-spyware software relies on databases of known rogue programs that must be updated. Regardless of which anti-spyware package you decide to use, make sure you understand how and when it updates so you are protected against the newest pests. Also check any type of spyware or adware removal programs with the spyware databases. A program called SpywareNuker claims to be a removal program, but has been reported to be spyware itself.

Some anti-spyware software may specialize in locating only keyloggers, for example, so read the features before you use it.

Other Removal Options

You can always check the Add/Remove Programs section of Windows to see if any adware or spyware is listed. Some of the quasi-legitimate adware programs may include uninstallers, but malicious pests do not.

Blocking Pop-Up Ads

One way to avoid the potential danger lurking behind pop-up ads is to install software that blocks them. Many ISPs offer tools to stop pop-ups from appearing. The Mozilla browser does not allow pop-ups. The Google Toolbar also blocks pop-up ads.

There are numerous programs that block pop-ups. Before installing them, research the developer and the company to make sure they are legitimate. Also be sure to note how they effect your system. Some pop-up blockers may discourage new windows, such as instant messages being sent to you, from opening.

Windows Messenger Pop-Ups

One relatively new form of pop-up that has been annoying Internet users with potentially dangerous effects is spam being sent using the Windows Messaging feature in Windows XP. This is not the instant messaging software that is used by millions of computer users, but rather an administrative tool that is meant to be used by systems administrators to contact users.

While there are utilities that claim to stop such pop-ups, the Windows Messenger feature is relatively easy to disable. To disable the Windows Messenger in Windows XP:

In Windows XP --> Control Panel --> Administrative Tools. Double-click Services. Double-click

Messenger. In the Startup type list, choose Disabled. Click Stop, and then click OK.

Safe E-Mailing

You probably know that opening spam or any e-mail from persons unknown or with an unexpected attachment is unwise. In addition to viruses, RATS and other programs can be present in e-mail attachments. Web sites advertised in unsolicited e-mail can try to plant dialers or other types of pests on your computer.

If you use Outlook or Outlook Express for your e-mail, there are some settings you can adjust to make your e-mail safe from spyware and viruses. The Preview Pane, which lets you view an e-mail while keeping your mailbox on the screen, has been a cause of concern among e-mail users, especially if you have scripting or ActiveX enabled. By automatically opening e-mails, there are reports of viruses spreading, such as the KAK-Worm. Malicious content like the KAK-Worm exploits security holes in the software, so enabling or disabling the Preview Pane is not the ultimate issue. Keeping up with patches and security fixes is a better long-term solution.

To disable the Preview Pane in Outlook, click on the View menu. For more information on securing Outlook and Outlook Express, read this:

Safe Surfing

Be careful what you download. Read all dialogue boxes carefully and close anything that looks suspicious. When closing dialogue boxes or pop-up advertisements, be sure to use the proper "X" to close the window. The Web is full of ads that feature mock "Xs" or "Close" or "OK" buttons within the ad. Clicking on them actually clicked on the ad itself. If you're not sure how to safely close a window that has opened in your browser, right click on the window in your Windows Taskbar (usually at the bottom of your display) and click on "Close."

Some ads that appear online attempt to pass themselves off as security alerts or messages from tech support (these are called FUIs, or Fake User Interface, ads). If you're using a computer within an organization, communicate with your tech support staff if you're unsure whether a message is legitimate, and familiarize yourself with how tech support communicates with the computer users in your organizations.