(updated 11/17/2012)

Tips, news and views, for 10-07-2006...


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Topics...

Avro Arrow, National Geographic news stories, global warming, desktop calendar, safely remove, managing add-ons, registering DLLs, spammers "pump and dump", malware vocabulary, My Pictures Screen Saver, Logoff Screen Saver, USBview...


10-07-06...

Avro Arrow again a current event....

Avro Arrow

A full-size replica of the Arrow is now on display at the Toronto Aerospace Museum in Downsview Park.

A reminder that photos and other info about the Arrow is available at Canada's National Defence site, and CBC Archives has numerous video clips available at their site.


10-07-06...

More great National Geographic news stories...

In case you have forgotten about this site, here is another link to more great photo stories of National Geographic.

Like 9/11, Then and Now, ''Sea Monster'' Graveyard Found in the Arctic, and Mars Orbiter Spies Victoria Crater.


10-07-06...

Global warming...

Not that I doubt that burning fossil fuels has contributed to global warming by preventing radiant heat from escaping into space, I just think that there are so many other heat sources in this world now that the world simply has to be warming up regardless.

Consider human population growth. A mere 310 million in the world in the year 1000*, 1.6 billion in 1900, and some 6.5 billion earlier this year - we humans are all heat pumps, operating at 98.6º, certainly warmer than the air most of the time, and warmer than the vegetation we consume, directly and indirectly, for much of our energy.

Consider human activity. Whether for work or pleasure, we are constantly generating heat. Electrical devices of all kinds (your computer, for instance) using hydro-electric or nuclear power instead, still generate enormous amounts of heat. Stoves, ovens, irons, refrigerators, air conditioners, heaters, lights, motors, machinery - all these devices, and so many more, create heat when operating.

If we never burned another ounce of fossil fuels, the world would still be warming, and changing...

Anyone for colonizing Mars?

* - Source: Population Reference Bureau


10-07-06...

Desktop calendar...

(All credit to Tinnes Software, at this site.)

This simple calendar installs easily, and does not seem to have any tag-along programs to cause trouble.

Click here to download...

Once installed, it has two appearances - minimized (as a brief time/day/date display)...

...and maximized. Moving the mouse overtop of the minimized display opens the maximized display.

The program is fairly intuitive. Double-clicking on a given day opens an editing screen, into which you can enter information of your choosing, with the option of making it an annual event (like a birthday or anniversary).

Right-clicking on a date opens up a short me of choices, including accessing the program's settings.

You may find this program useful, and it seems harmless enough. Not really meant for professional use. Learn to back up the calendar.dat file the program uses, so you won't lose the data you input.

Of course, double-clicking the Windows XP clock does have some interesting features of which you may be unware, like checking the time at time.windows.com. You can't makes notes in it, though.


10-07-06...

Safely remove USB devices...

While USB devices are "hot swappable", and plugging them in or removing them with the power on will not damage the electronics, it is possible, especially for disk drives, to corrupt the data on the drive if you remove it prematurely. When you do have a USB device connected to your PC, look down near the clock where you should see an icon that, when you position the mouse over it, is called "safely remove hardware". Double-click it to bring up the options you'll need to cause Windows to clear the cache memory (or disk buffer) and finish writing the file directory to make it safe to remove the USB device wth no data loss.

Failing to safely remove USB data drives can cause them to need re-partitioning and re-formatting, in which case all data on them is lost.

If you do need to re-partition or re-format, click on Start > Settings > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management. Depending on the situation, you should see your USB drive listed, but perhaps not active, or healthy, or formatted. If you are careful, you may be able to revitalize the device using the tools here.


10-07-06...

Managing add-ons...

A basic Windows installation is missing many of the third-party "add-ons" that make the Internet and other computer activity more interesting. Products like Java, Shockwave, and Acrobat Reader can be freely downloaded from the Internet and readily installed - usually without any issues at all. Should a problem arise, most add-ons can be re-established by uninstalling and reinstalling it. (Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs.)

Another area where you can work with add-ons can be found in Internet Explorer. Open your browser, pull down the Tools menu, and choose Manage Add-ons. You will see a list of the add-ons installed on your PC.

If you are having a problem with viruses or malware, you may find them blatantly listed here, too. And you may be able to uninstall them or at least disable them long enough to regain control over your PC and restore normal functionality.

You can also see a list of add-ons that have been installed in thepast on your computer. (Pull down the brief "show" menu.)

Lastly, you can check for updates to the add-ons you like and need.


10-07-06...

How to register (or re-register) a DLL or OCX file...

Nothing stays the same. As computers keep changing, we must continue to learn.

A common modern program component on a PC is a dynamic link library, or DLL. DLLs are used to extend the abilities of a command (.exe).

ActiveX is similar to a small computer program or Java applet (a small "application", a program). ActiveX files have the extension OCX.

Should you have any of the common problems with these types of files, you may need to find them, recover them, or download them, then restore them and re-register them.

These files can usually be found on the original program disks you may have, or through an Internet search (Google). You may also find these files in the exact place they were correctly installed, but now unregistered somehow.

Once the needed file has been found, move it to its recommended location (if need be), which may be C:\windows\system32 folder, if the location is non-specific.

Click on Start > Run, to open the window below...

Type: regsvr32 <path & filename> as in this example, and click OK. You should see a returned message that the file has been (re)-registered.


10-07-06...

Spammers escalate inbox battle with "pump and dump"...

Latest phishing technique enticing users into stock scams.

9/5/2006 4:50:00 PM

by Sarah Lysecki

As anti-spam software has increased its effectiveness in guarding company e-mail accounts, spammers have resorted to new ways of disguising their messages to get past even the tightest filters, according to a Montreal-based security company.

Vircom, which recently published a report on a well-known spamming scheme called, "Pump and dump," or "Hype and Dump Manipulation", said spammers are now using a technique called a "Press Trap" to get people to read these e-mails. The term pump and dump refers to an illegitimate e-mail that promotes a company's stock to entice people to buy it only to have scammers rip them off by selling their shares into the market at inflated prices. This scam also has ramifications for the company, which could lose the trust of investors and the economic community at large.

Sylvain Durocher, founder and chief executive officer of Vircom, said spammers are no longer sending text messages with spelling mistakes, as they did in the early days of these types of attacks.

"Now they're mixing press releases from the company's Web site and embedding the actual spam into a graphical image," said Durocher, who authored the report along with Marc Chouinard, SpamBuster team leader. "All of the anti-spam engines that use text are pretty much fooled by that. That yields more people seeking the spam which yields more people looking at the stock and buying it."

To conduct its research, Vircom's SpamBuster team examined thousands of e-mails that it receives in its "honey pots" each day from around the world. From there, Durocher said they were able to detect a change in the level of sophistication the spammers were using. From there, the teams started tracking the stocks in the messages to see if there were impacts to them after the release of the spam attacks.

Spam expert Neil Schwartzman, chairman of the board at theCoalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (CAUCE) said pump and dump schemes work the same way as every other piece of spam in that they play on human frailties, which in this case is greed.

"You can only get x number of dollars for a bottle of useless pills," said Schwartzman, referring to the typical spam that advertises weight loss pills or Viagra at discount prices. "The pump and dump scam, much in the same way as phishing, is a withdrawal of money from somebody's account."


10-07-06...

Expand your vocabulary...

Are you protected? Don't let your computer be taken over by a malicious "daemon" and have it become a "zombie"!


10-07-06...

My Pictures Screen Saver (or Slide Show) for a home PC...

A need for screensavers harkens back to a time when a computer's display would "burn in" on the monitor because the image was not changing often enough. Many utilitarian programs, like the word processors of the 80's, displayed the same text in the same places for virtually the entire time a computer was on. When a monitor was off, image artifacts could easily be seen in the worn phosphor behind the glass.

Early screensavers, after detecting inactivity, simply blanked the screen, or displayed random characters, or drew lines and patterns such that all areas of the phosphor would be exercised.

Monochrome monitors seemed to be more susceptible than colour ones, but colour monitors did not become the norm until about 1993.

When Microsoft Windows became the prominent operating system and environent, there was less of a need for a screensaver, as a greater percentage of the screen became white, and the screen area was no longer confined to displaying an array made up of characters some 80 across by 25 high. Fonts, geometric shapes, photos, icons and other screen content was all displayed in any size and colour combination, anywhere on the screen.

Even though the need was no more, Microsoft began building in a variety of screensavers for entertainment and personalization reasons.

In most Windows PCs today, you can select from a variety of screensavers. An interesting one for those taking digital pictures, is the My Pictures Screensaver.

To find it, right-click on the desktop and choose Properties. Select the Screen Saver tab. Choose the My Pictures Slide Show (or Screen Saver) from the pulldown list. Click on Settings to choose the folder to get the content from, how often the pictures should change, and how they will appear on screen.

For your PC at home, you can take advantage of the screensaver of your choice, but in a work environment restrictions should be made. However experienced workstation users might feel they are, they should not be wandering in and out of the Control Panel, changing settings. Workstations that lack uniformity greatly increase the time it takes a technician to debug an error with business-critical applications. Any business not permitting use of the workstation for personal email, personal storage or for casual browsing is wise. Simply setting a workstation to blank the screen after 5 minutes of inactivity, and ask for a password upon return is the recommendation.


10-07-06...

Winexit Logoff Screen Saver for a public PC...

For a PC in a public place, or for a business computer in a semi-public place, it may be desirable to have the workstation log itself off after a period of inactivity. This can be accomplished with Microsoft's Winexit Screen Saver.

Winexit comes in the Windows 2000 Resource Kit, along with other useful things. Winexit can be downloaded from this website by clicking on this link.

Right-clicking on the downloaded file will offer the choice of installing Winexit. Once installed, Winexit should show up in the list of available screen savers.

Note: The Force application termination option forces programs to quit even if the programs contain unsaved data. If you do not use this option, programs that contain unsaved data do not quit and the computer is not logged off. It is a good idea to set your programs to automatically save your documents prior to the screen saver timeout, if you plan to use the Force application termination option.


10-07-06...

USBview.exe...

This utility can give you details on the products you have attached to your USB ports. Useful for debugging, you can see if all of you ports are working, and what Windows believes is attached to them. Click here to download, then double-click to run.


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