Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kaspersky Antivirus 2009

Anitivirus is the most important application that we need to install to our computers. With the constant rise of threats online, installing an antivirus is not just optional but neccessary. There are many antivirus out there and choosing the right one is very important. The most important thing to look for is its effectiveness in detecting threats and be able to neutralize them. Another is its ability to detect new threats. Malwares evolve fast and the antivirus must cope with it and the updates must be available if a new threat arise. Another is its system requirements, a good antivirus should be able to run on low-end computers without using all its resources. It is also important that the antivirus can be easily tuned-up based on the users need with-out being so technical.

One antivirus that fits this criteria is the highly recommended and highly rated "Kaspersky Antivirus 2009". Kaspersky is not new in the antivirus world and since it started in 1997, it is known for its reputation in detecting new threats and being able to eradicate them successfully. Its detection rate is scored 98% by AV-test.org and one of the highest score in the antivirus industry. Kaspersky also updates its database every hour and supports automatic updates to ensure constant protection. This is a good feature as new malwares can attack the world wide web at any time. Kaspersky is also one of the easiest to configure and techie's can also choose to tweak its configuration more than any other antivirus giving it great flexibility. 

If you want a good antivirus for your computer, Kaspersky 2009 is highly recommended. It's decade of reputable perfomance also serves as a testament on how good this antivirus is. There are also many reviews available in the internet but be cautious as most are not credible and just aims in promoting their own product.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

The super fast SATA 3.0

Speed is power and this is what SATA 3.0 delivers. With a wooping 6Gbit/s, it doubled the speed of the previous 2.0 specification. This will provide faster transfer rate and reading of files. The new specification will also pave the way of smaller storage devices in laptops. It also needs less power and adaptation for use in Ipod's is possible in the future.

SATA accounts 98% of the hard disk market and the current standard of hard disk drives. With this, motherboard manufacturers like Intel will most likely release SATA 3.0 capable motherboard soon. There is also no compatibility issue of the new specification as it is backward compatible with previous SATA versions.

Additional SATA 3.0 features:

  • SATA 3.0 also brings some other features to the table, including:
    An isochronous transfer mode (precisely analogous to the USB Isochronous mode) which uses NCQ to prioritize transfers for streaming applications like audio and video transmission
  • More NCQ management features
  • A pair of new connectors designed for 1.8" hard drives, and optical drives as thin as 7mm

There are also plan to increase the speed in the next SATA specifications to 12Gbits/s in the next 4 - 5 years.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Heard about "Bing"?

June 3 is the anticipated launch of a new search engine called "bing". This is Microsoft resuming the battle with Google, the largest and most popular search engine in the world. With Google's tight grip on the general search engine market, Microsoft explored new ways to challenge the search engine giant in a more specific way. And here comes "bing".

Bing is more like a decision engine than a search engine that would help people make specific decisions like having a trip or purchasing over the net. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer was quoted saying "Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the web and find information, but they don't do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find."

Bing will be using virtual earth in providing maps for business enterprises, restaurants, hotels and many more and will also sport a bing shopping feature that will help you buy easier online. And having a trip is even easier with bing doing the fare ticket comparison.

All I can say is "bing looks promising and many will surely anticipate it's launch. Visit here this coming June 3 and try out bing.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vista Pack 2 officially released by Microsoft

There have been speculations that Vista pack 2 will be delayed later in June but here it comes. After its beta release a few months ago, Microsoft finally released the official version. Vista for some is considered as a failure by Microsoft to deliver the performance and stability with previous OS release. It suffered various crashes and errors on many PC that deterred user into upgrading to Vista with most still running the famous Microsoft XP. Hopefully for Microsoft, this service pack will provide an extension to the life of Vista and convince some to upgrade or take a tighter hold of its few supporters.

Here's what service pack 2 can offer based on Microsoft:

•Program compatibility. Microsoft works to ensure that your programs work seamlessly on Windows Vista. We also work with our partners to improve the reliability and compatibility of non-Microsoft programs. So, SP2 includes previously released updates that are available to you when you use Windows Update, and it also includes new compatibility fixes for individual programs.

•Hardware support. Among other improvements, SP2 provides you with additional support for Bluetooth wireless technology and improved performance for Wi-Fi connections after the computer resumes from sleep mode. Additionally, you can now record data to Blu-ray Disc media.

•General operating system updates. SP2 includes Windows Search 4.0, which has improved indexing and searching capabilities. SP2 also includes fixes that can improve recording TV using Windows Media Center.

You should also uninstall any previous beta release of service pack 2 before installing this one. Having service pack 1 is also a requirement. More information can be found on Microsoft. If you want to go directly to the download page, you can click here. The update is approximately 348mb and can also be downloaded automatically via Windows update.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tips and Tricks: Utilizing Google's Features

Google is not just a search engine. There are also other features built into it to answer the most common questions you have. Some of this may be useful to you.

A. Google Calculator:

Do you know that Google can solve mathematical operations as well? Here are examples:

Operation Example

addition 3+44

subtraction 13-5

multiplication 7*8

division 12/3

exponential 8^2

factorial 5!

square root sqrt(9)

sin, cos, etc. trigonometric functions (numbers are assumed to be radians) sin(pi/3)

tan(45 degrees)

logarithm base e ln(17)

logarithm base 10 log(1,000)

B. Unit Conversion:

You can also apply conversion of units in Google. Here are some examples:

1 kilometer in meters
10.5 inches in cm
1 gallon in liters

C. Synonym Search

To search for a word including its synonym, just key in the word preceded with "~" tilde key. Example:


D. Currency Converter
You can also perform currency conversion. Examples:

1 SGD in PHP
1 USD in SGD
1 USD in JPY

If you don't know the currency code, here's a list.

There are many more features available in Google. Refer here.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quick Tips: "Keyboard Shortcuts"

Knowing keyboard shortcuts can help us save time and be more productive at work. Do you know that multiple mouse clicks can also be done with just pressing two keys in your keyboard? Here are some tips:

ALT + Tab = Switch between windows

ALT, Space, X = Maximize window

CTRL + Shift + Del = Task Manager

Windows key + Break = System properties

Windows key + F = Search

Windows key + D = Hide/Display all windows

Windows key + E = Explore My Computer

Windows key + R = Run menu

CTRL + C = copy

CTRL + X = cut

CTRL + V = paste

Windows+M = Minimize all open windows

Shift+Windows+M = Undo minimize all open windows

Windows+F1 = Open Windows Help

Windows+Tab = Cycle through the Taskbar buttons

Keyboard shortcut for MS Word:

CTRL and A
= Selects all in the current document.

CTRL and B = Bold text.

CTRL and C = Copies the item or text to the Clipboard and can be pasted using CTRL and V.

CTRL and D = Displays the Font dialogue box.

CTRL and E = Center Alignment.

CTRL and F = Displays the Find dialog box, to search the current document.

CTRL and G = Displays the Go to dialog box, to go to a specific location in the current document.

CTRL and H = Displays the Replace dialogue box.

CTRL and I = Italic text.

CTRL and J = Full Justification.

CTRL and K = Create Hyperlink

CTRL and L = Left Alignment

CTRL and M = Tab

CTRL and N = Creates a new document.

CTRL and O = Displays the Open File dialogue box.

CTRL and P = Displays the Print dialog box.

CTRL and R = Right Alignment.

CTRL and S = Displays the Save dialog box.

CTRL and U = Underline text

CTRL and V = Pastes the copied item or text from the Clipboard into the current position in the document.

CTRL and X = Cuts the item or text selected to the Clipboard.

CTRL and Y = Redo the last undone action.

CTRL and Z = Undoes the last action.

CTRL and ENTER = Insert Page Break.

CTRL and F2 = Show Print preview.

CTRL and F4 = Closes the active document window.

CTRL and F6 = Opens the next document window.

Keyboard shortcut for dialog boxes:

CTRL+TAB = Move forward through tabs

CTRL+SHIFT+TAB = Move backward through tabs

TAB = Move forward through options

SHIFT+TAB = Move backward through options

ALT+Underlined letter = Carry out the corresponding command or select the corresponding option

ENTER = Carry out the command for the active option or button

SPACEBAR = Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check box

Arrow keys = Select a button if the active option is a group of option buttons

F1 = Display Help

F4 = Display the items in the active list

BACKSPACE = Open a folder one level up if a folder is selected in the Save As or Open dialog box

Run Commands (Windows Key+R)

devmgmt.msc = Device Manager

msinfo32 = System Information

cleanmgr = Disk Cleanup

ntbackup = Backup or Restore Wizard (Windows Backup Utility)

mmc = Microsoft Management Console

excel = Microsoft Excel (If Installed)

msaccess = Microsoft Access (If Installed)

powerpnt = Microsoft PowerPoint (If Installed)

winword = Microsoft Word (If Installed)

frontpg = Microsoft FrontPage (If Installed)

notepad = Notepad

wordpad = WordPad

calc = Calculator

msmsgs = Windows Messenger

mspaint = Microsoft Paint

wmplayer = Windows Media Player

rstrui = System Restore

control = Opens the Control Panel

control printers = Opens the Printers Dialog

I need to do a right click without a mouse!

There's a "Right-click" key next to the right Windows key on your keyboard. Then use the arrow keys to navigate.
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Vatican 2.0

The church sees as a new way to spread the Church's message as they launch Pope2You Website last Thursday. It is ran by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications and allows Facebook users to send virtual postcards with a photo and message from Pope Benedict XVI. The Web site also includes Iphone applications which allow surfers to view video and audio news on the Pope's speeches, travels and Catholic Church events worldwide. The Pope also has a Youtube channel that can be accessed through the website.

The Internet is wide and sometimes a crazy world but even though it has negative effects, it can also be used to create and forge new friendships across the globe and keep in touch with families and friends. The Pope says the Internet offers a new way to reach out to all communities specially the youth. He warned however that social networking should not be made as a replacement to real life interaction.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Twitter scam: "Tvvitter"

Twitter community is growing at a fast rate and with so many users, it also attracted the attention of spammers wanting to cash in with so many fish in the pool. The latest scam is on tvvitter. It is a phishing site targeting to fool twitter users. It has a fake copy page of twitter and the name "tvvitter" is designed so as a quick glance will make it look like twitter. It is designed to harvest credentials when a user logs in. It will then add a number of new followers in their account and when clicked redirects them to an adult dating site. According to trend micro, it is even dangerous just to visit the site for their might be more malicious threats in the bogus website. They also gain money through pay-per-click when a user is redirected to the dating site.

There are already so many threats in the web from viruses,spywares,adwares,scarewares to spammers. Who would have thought just going to twitter has its risk? This just suggest there is no safe zone in the world wide web and everyone should be extra careful.
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Here it comes: Google Chrome 2!

Chrome is a browser developed by Google and was based on Webkit layout engines. The first version or chrome 1 was first released in beta version on September 2008 and it was soon followed by a stable release. And now, here comes the second version, chrome 2. If you have used or is using the chrome browser, you may notice that chrome 2's interface is not so much different than chrome 1. So what is the main improvement in this second version? It is speed. It is claimed that the new engine of the chrome 2 which is a revised and refined Vb8 javascript gave it a performance boost of 30-35%. According to a pcmag review, chrome 2 scored 44% faster than the previous version in a sunspider javascript benchmark but also suffered in site-compatibility. On the recent Acid3 test that was conducted on May 21 2009, Chrome 2 scored 100/100, the first official release browser to have that score. But failed on "LINKTEST". Firefox 3.1 beta and opera also done well. (Acid3 is a test from web standards project that checks how well a broswer performs in certain web standards. Acid3 focuses in document object model and javascript)

Chrome 2 has also additional features to add. This includes autofill, autscroll and a function to drag windows side by side. It also offers another way to customize the chrome's startup page. The autofill and autoscroll function however is already implemented in other browsers for some time.

Chrome (stable version) can be freely downloaded here. And chrome 2 beta can be downloaded at this link.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Computer Networking Terms

Here are some useful networking terms. (constantly updated) 


ACK - A 1 bit flag in the TCP header that indicates the acknowledgment field is valid

Acknowledgment - A notification sent from one network device to another for confirming certain events

Address pool - The range of IP addresses that can be assigned by the DHCP server

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) - The method of finding a host's hardware address from its IPv4 network layer address

Administratively scoped address - A multicast address that is restricted to a local group or organization (IPv4)

AND - One of the three basic binary operations. The result will only yield 1 when both ANDed numbers are 1

Argument - Additional data that is provided with a command to provide information used by the execution of the command

ARP cache/table - A logical storage in a host's RAM to sore ARP entries

ARP poisoning/spoofing - A technique used to attack an Ethernet network by sending fake ARP messages to an Ethernet LAN

Asynchronous - Communication that does not use a common clock between the sender and reciever. To maintain timing, additional information is sent to sychronize the recieve circuit to the incoming data

Attenuation - The loss of communication signal on the media. This loss is due to degradation of the energy wave over time

ication - A process used to verify the identity of a person or process


Bandwidth - In networking, a measurement of the speed of bits that can be transmitted over a particular link. It is the amount of data that can be transmitted in a certain amount of time. It is usually expressed in bps (bits per second)

Best-effort - Network protocols or technologies that do not use the acknowledgment system to guarantee reliable delivery of information

Binary - A numbering system characterized by 1's and 0's

Bit - Binary digit used in the binary numbering system. Binary digits are units of information storage and communications in computing. Each bit can be either 0 or 1

Bit time - The time required to send a single bit over some transmission medium

Bridge - A device that connects multiple network segments at the data link layer of the OSI model. Predecessor of LAN switches

Bridge table - The table used by a switch or bridge that associates MAC addresses with the outgoing port. Used in forwarding/filtering decisions

Broadcast - A form of transmission where one device transmits to all devices within the network or another network

Broadcast address - An address used to represent a transmission from one device to all devices. In Ethernet, it is represented by FFFF.FFFF.FFFF

Broadcast domain - A logical network composed of all the computers and networking devices that can be reached by sending a frame to the data link layer broadcast address

Burned-in address (BIA) - The MAC address that is permanently assigned to a LAN interface or NIC. Also called UAA or universally administered address


Cache - A temporary storage where data that has been retrieved or calculated and is accessed frequently can be stored.  After the data is stored in the cache, the processes can access the copy instead of accessing the original data. A cache reduces the average access time and reduces the overhead of recalculating the data.

Carrier - A signal on the medium used to support the transmission of data. Data is "carried" over the medium by modulation (combining the data signal with the carrier signal).

Carrier sense multiple access (CSMA) - Media access methodology in which a node wishing to transmit listens for a carrier wave before trying to send. If a carrier is sensed, the node waits for the transmission in progress to finish before initiating its own transmission.

Carrier sense multiple access collision avoid (CSMA/CA) - A mechanism used to regulate the transmission of data onto a network medium. A device must first send a request to send. It is used in 802.11 WLANS (wireless LAN).

Carrier sense multiple access collision detect (CSMA/CD) - The MAC algorithm used by ethernet devices in a shared media. The protocol requires a node wishing to transmit to listen for a carrier signal before trying to send. If a collision occurs and detected, the sending node uses the backoff algorithm before retransmitting.

Channel - A communication path over a medium used to transport information from a sender to a reciever. Multiple channels can be multiplexed over a single cable.

Channel service unit/data service unit (CSU/DSU) - A device that connects a logical digital telephone loop for a WAN circuit to a serial interface on a network device, typically connecting to a router. The CSU/DSU performs physical (Layer 1) signaling on WAN circuits.

Classful Addressing - A unicast IP address that is considered to have three parts: a network part, a subnet part and a host part. The term classful refers to the fact that the classful network rules are first applied to the address, and then the rest of the address can be separated into a subnet and host part to perform subnetting. In the early days of IPv4, IP addresses were divided into five classes from Class A to E. Classful addressing is not generally practiced in current network implementations.

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"Gumblar" goes 188% stealing the spotlight from conficker

"Gumblar" is a new type of website based attack that injects themselves into web files. The changes made by the gumblar malware varies from site to site and even from page to page in the same site. This made detection through signatures difficult and as a result, infection from gumblar continues to rise. A user is immediately at risk by just visiting the infested website. It exploits vulnerabilities in Internet explorer and some vulnerable plug-ins like the Adobe PDF and flash. Once the users browser has been compromised, the malware then redirects google searches to their own list of fraudulent and bogus websites exposing victims with another attack. When gumblar was first detected, it's malware scripts are pointing to thus made signature scanning possible but after google delisted the malicious websites, gumblar evolved to a more elusive type. It's malware scripts are now dynamically generated and hard to detect. It continues to propagate by stealing FTP credentials of the victims if they have any and thus infecting the websites owned or ran by the victim. It also installs a backdoor program that makes the victim's PC a slave or a botnet. The attack has now spiked to 188% and continues to grow.

One way of avoiding this malware is by installing all the updates provided by Microsoft and Adobe. Examples of the exploited flaw in Adobe can be found in the following Adobe advisories: APSA08-01 and 11.

Preventive measures:

1. Regularly scan you computer with spyware. You can use spybot or malwarebytes.
2. Use good FTP passwords or better use SFTP or secured FTP. Just changing the FTP password once infected won't work as gumblar installs a backdoor access to your site. Using secured FTP is recommended.
3. Always have a backup of your website files. The gumblar malware can add different scripts in your site and manual deletion of the scripts is not recommended. If infected, you can wipe clean all your website files and upload your backup.

More information and updates can be found in ScanSafe blog.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

A rising threat: "SCAREWARE"

Scareware is another category of malicious software that is threatening computer users. It uses a scare/shock based approach in luring victims in buying the software. The software will most likely be an anti-virus and the interface and functions looks legitimate but actually does nothing. There's also a high risk that it will infect your PC with all sorts of malicious programs. So what is the modus of the scareware? The numbers of scareware is increasing and they use black-hat search optimization to have a high rank in search engines. They also buy ads fom legitimate website and redirect whoever clicks on it to their bogus website. It uses a "scare" approach by fooling users. How do they do this:

1. A sudden pop-up appears telling the user that the PC is "infected with a spyware, their is an immement danger to your PC, offers a free scan, virus found on your PC" All with the intent to lure the users in buying their software.

2. Through poisoned email attachments that initiates the "scare tactic"

3. They are also getting advanced and very tricky in fooling users. There able to mimick a legetimate Windows alert and it will tell you to upgrade your antivirus or have a free scan. After the scan it will then tell you of all sorts of problems that don't even exist in your PC. They will then offer a fix but you need to buy the software first. They also mimick blue screen errors or BSOD Fatal error but actually it is just a screensaver intended to scare the user in buying their product.

What is the risk of buying this scareware's?

1. The credit card you use in buying the software may be compromised and you need to change it as a precaution.

2. Instead of fixing anything, some scareware even deletes important windows files that render your PC useless and unable to boot.

3. Instead of getting rid of spywares that they claim to have detected, they will instead install their own spywares or malwares. Some even redirects users search in the web through another bogus website to "expose them again of another scare tactic."

How to avoid getting infected?

1. Don't trust any pop-up while surfing the net. If you encounter this type of scare tactic, hit the ctrl-alt-del button to bring up the task manager and close your browser. Don't even use the close or "x" button on the pop-up as this may trigger the program.

2. Don't open any unexpected email from an unknown sender.

3. If you are looking for anti-virus software don't just trust anything you find in the net. Some listed scareware's are Scan and repair, antivirus 2009, MalwareCore, Windefender, XP defender and WinSpywareProtect. All of this scareware were named in such a way that it sounds like a legitimate software. If your looking for an antivirus, here's a credible top ten antivirus review and you can also get a price listing here that offers the best price. Rest assured that the anti-virus listed here are no scareware and guaranteed legitimate.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to prevent a virus from infecting your PC

PC viruses is a real threat; some steal information from you and this could be your email address or online bank account, copy important files in your PC, make your PC a platform for another attack and some can even damage your hardware. So it is important to know some preventive tips and measures to avoid being virus-infected. But first we need to know how a virus infects your PC. Here are the most common:

1. Through browsing malicious sites that transfers a virus to your PC
2. Through email or by clicking on a spam message that triggers the installation of the virus
3. Installing applications with trojan horse virus
4. Through a removable media from an infected computer (eg. flash/usb devices, external drives)
5. Virus that propagates in your network or LAN

Prevention tips:

1. Be cautious on visiting an unknown website, there are some websites that contains viruses that could infect your PC. High risk websites are: Porn related sites, and some free download sites. Be careful on sites that require a fill-up form before you can download or let you install something first, the information you enter can be used to send spam messages or use your name for their purpose (identity theft). It is also advisable to use Mozilla Firefox than Internet Explorer. IE often have security holes that can be used by a virus or hacker and unless you update your Windows regularly, you might be at risk just by using IE.

2. Large email providers like "gmail, yahoo, hotmail" offers a good protection in filtering spam messages but sometimes one may get through. It is usually very easy to detect a spam message though. They usually have some promotional item that you need to click to claim or something like that. What ever you do, don't click anything on the spam message, some say click to claim your price and before you know it, a virus is automatically installed in your PC by clicking it or sensitive information from your PC is being stolen.

3. Be careful of installing unknown software's. One example is this: a site offers you to download something for free like a movie blockbuster not even released yet. After you finished downloading the file, it asks you to download a special unknown player xyz to be able to play the movie. This is a high risk probability that their asking you to install an application with a trojan in it.

4. Viruses can also propagate or spread through removable drive and almost all of them activates when "autorun" is initiated. One way to prevent this is to disable autorun in your PC. Follow this step to disable autorun: (WinXP, Vista)

Option 1
a.To use this method, Open Notepad and copy/paste the following into a text file:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\Autorun.inf]

Save the file as something.reg. (You have to be sure to change the "Save File as Type" to "All Files" before saving, or Windows will try to save it as a .txt even if you typed in .reg.

b. Locate the file you just saved and double-click the file to run it. You will receive a prompt asking if you want to add the data to the registry. Click yes to allow the modification.

Option 2

If you don't want to modify the registry you can also use some tools that will do this for you. A free tool that you can use is Tweak UI from Microsoft. More information on the free tools can be found on this post "Free cool tools from Microsoft".

5. Virus can also spread through your LAN connection. One way to prevent this is having a firewall. (Windows has a built-in firewall and should be enabled by default) If this is disabled, a windows security alert is found in your taskbar. Just click this and switch-on your firewall. It is also important to have good password in your computer and user accounts as this could be exploited by viruses (latest threat is the conficker virus).

6. And lastly, it is very important to have a good anti-virus installed in your PC. If you don't want to spend money on it. You can use free anti-virus like the AVG free and Avira free edition. You can also combine spybot search and destroy for adware/spyware detection. For those who are willing to spend some cash, you can get the recommended and top rated anti-virus "Kaspersky 2009". You can get it for the best price here and browse other good anti-virus software's.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guidelines for an efficient PC reformat

If you need to to reformat your computer, you need to remember some important guidelines in order to do it efficiently and correctly.


#1. Before you start reformatting your PC, take a note and list down all important things you need to back-up. This includes important documents, files, and browser bookmarks. Put this in your external drive or flash drive. You must remember that reformatting is an ireversible process and all your data will be lost.

#2. Make sure you know all the names of your hardware components like sound card, video card, motherboard and LAN card. To do this you can refer to your device manager. Right click on "My Computer" ->properties ->hardware tab ->device manager. Your video card name can be found in "display adapters", sound card in "sound, video and game controllers" and LAN card in "network adapters". You can also use cpu-z to know you motherboard name and manufacturer and take note of the names. Next you need to download the installers for these devices. There are a lot available in the web just use your favorite search engine and key in "name of device+drivers". In choosing the download site, it is recommended to use the manufacturers website. If your reformatting a laptop, just go to their website and they'll have all the drivers you need for your laptop, just make sure you know the laptop model, you can also use cpu-z for this. Save the note you have taken for future reference and place all the drivers you've downloaded in your back-up.

#3 Make sure you have all the installers needed. The most important thing is your OS installer, make sure you also have the serial number. Check if you have important applications like MS Office and an anti-virus is also important. If you don't have one you can visit this shop for good deals.

The most common reasons why people reformat their PC's and possible preventive action :
1. PC flooded with virus/worms/spyware - install a reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware/malware
2. Slow PC performance - optimize your PC, read this post.
3. Errors, BSOD, sudden crash/restart - know the problem first, reformatting may not solve the problem. Try to read some tips here.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Reasons why your PC crash

A crashing PC is the last thing we want when we are doing something important in our computer. To understand why this happens, we must know the reasons why.

1. Bad/Missing drivers - Drivers are needed to enable all PC components to function normally. If one device or hardware is missing it, problems can occur. You can inspect this by going to the device manger. Right click on My Computer ->properties ->hardware tab ->device manager. If you are missing a driver you can either have windows to search for the driver automatically (which does not work all the time) or find your driver yourself. To find a driver, just use a search engine and type in the device name followed by the word "drivers". ex. nvidia 9800Gt drivers. If you know the manufacturer, its better to download the drivers from their website. Problems in drivers can also cause blue screen of death or BSOD.

2. IRQ Conflicts - IRQ are interrupt requests and each device in your computer has a range of number that it can use to communicate properly. If two devices have the same IRQ, then a term hardware conflict will occur. This will cause a BSOD or a sudden restart of your PC. To determine an IRQ conflict, go to device manager (follow the same steps above) and if devices have a yellow "!" in them then it could be an IRQ problem. How to fix this problem? You can first try to update the drivers of the conflicting device. If this doesn't solve the problem you can switch the slots (if the device uses a PCI slot) of the device. Also make sure that you have installed your motherboard drivers, the drivers are usually included when you bought your pc. If you lost your installation cd, you can also opt to find the drivers via a search engine. Just indicate the manufacturer and model name of your motherboard. If you don't know the name of your motherboard then you can use a free tool called cpu-z which provides a detailed summary of your system.

3. Faulty RAM - Another culprit for a PC crash is a faulty ram. It is a random access memory used by your PC for temporary storage purposes. It can cause BSOD or sudden restart. To know if you have a faulty ram you can use memtest "a freely available tool and can be downloaded here" to test your ram. It is adviced to run the tool for at least 8 hours to determine a problem in your RAM. If you have 2 ram cards installed, it is also important that the two have the same speed like "533mhz or 800mhz". It is also advisable but not nessecary to have the same manufacturer.

4. Bad Hard drive - Hard drive problems could also cause a PC crash. It is important to regularly check hard drives for errors. Errors can occur when a computer is turned off abruplty by ex. power failure. To do this , go to "My computer" ->right click on your drive ex.drive C: and click properties ->tools tab ->and click check now button. It is also important to defragment your drive regularly. Usually a defrag every six months is already sufficient.

5. Video card problems - Video card problems is also the most common issue in a PC crash. It is important that you regularly update your video card drivers and overclocking your video card (used for faster performance in games) is "not recommended" and often cause serious problems if over done. While the most common cause of video card problem is the driver, there are also other possible causes. One is overheating of video card, it is important to install a fan (if not provided by the manufacturer) or cooling system (heat sink) in your video card and must have proper ventilation in your CPU casing. Another is power shortage. Newer and advanced video cards require a lot of power and sometime a separate power cord. If you intend to use your PC for gaming a PSU "power supply unit" of at least 550+ watts is highly recommended.

6. Overheating - If your CPU is not properly ventilated. An overheat may occur and damage hardware components. It is important to install at least one main fan for your PC in normal use and at least 2 if you primarily use it for gaming. Other options is also available like water cooling systems and heat sinks.

7. Power supply shortage - Your CPU can also be underpowered if you have too many devices requiring power. If you have a powerful, branded PSU of 600 to 700 watts this wouldn't be a problem at all.But if you don't want to change your PSU you can remove some devices: Remove lighting in your CPU that is only used for display ex. neon lights; remove excess fans specially those with lighting effects; remove extra dvd-drives that are not in use.

8. Software problems - Certain software can also cause a PC crash. This is obvious if a PC crash is observed when starting a certain application or you can visit the system log details or event viewer for more information, go to control panel -> administrative tools -> event viewer. This problem is usaully solved by reinstalling the software application.

9. Viruses - A virus can also cause your system to crash. It is highly important to have an anti-virus installed in your system. There are also free antivirus software like AVG and avira that you can use. You can also use a spyware cleaner like the freely available spybot

10. Loose/damage cables - Cables can also contribute to a PC crash. If you encounter a fatal exception or a BSOD and your hardware device is functioning well then it may be the cable. Example for this is the IDE cable or SATA cable for your hard drive. Try swapping a cable from a friends PC that is known to work porperly and try if it solved the problem.

11. Registry errors - As we install and uninstall applications, there is a chance that our registry has some invalid entries that causes errors. You also have the option to buy a registry cleaning software but beware of scareware applications out there. One software I trust and personally use is tuneup utilities and it can be bought here. It has other loads of features as well.

...read more ⇒

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Free cool tools from Microsoft

Do you know that there are free tools available to download in Microsoft? And these tools can be very useful too. These set of tools are called Microsoft PowerToys.

Here are some of the tools:

  • ClearType tuner - Enables you to use ClearType settings and make it easier to read text in your screen
  • HTML Slide Show Wizard - Helps you create a slide show that can be readily place in your website
  • Power Calculator - Advance calculator that can be used to graph functions and other conversions
  • Image Resizer - Enables you to resize image with a right-click
  • Virtual Desktop Manager - Enables you to manage 4 desktops
  • Webcam Timershot - Lets you take pictures with your webcam at specified intervals - cool!
  • Tweak UI - The most powerful tool in the set. Originally first released in 1996 and continued to be developed for aiding windows users in different settings only tweak UI can provide. It enables you to customize the user interface of Windows including fading menus, drop shadow, cursor shadow, taskbar, desktop. And it also includes repair function for fonts and folders. Tweak UI can also be used to disable AutoPlay or autorun in your drives. I recommend you to download this tool and you'll discover many things you can use it.
If you want to grab these tools or check out other tools, here is the link to Microsoft PowerToys.

There are also other tools aside from the PowerToys that can be downloaded freely from Microsoft. The most popular is the "process explorer". It is developed by Sysinternals and was acquired by Microsoft. Process explorer is a powerful tool that can be used to analyze the different processes and threads runing in your system. An active virus can also be spotted in process explorer and its corresponding dll's. It is an advanced windows task manager and is also compatible with Windows Vista. It is actively developed with the recent release on February 4, 2009. If you install this tool, you also have the option to replace the task manager so hitting ctrl-alt-del will fire up process explorer instead. Here is its download link in Microsoft. It is a very useful tool in monitoring your system and the active programs.

Another powerful tool that you can use is autoruns, and also developed by Sysinterals acquired by Microsoft. Even though it is not as popular as process explorer it is still as powerful in providing you control over your system. Autoruns is a utility that gives the most comprehensive list and knowledge of auto-starting applications including the program that runs in bootup and login process and its corresponding registry entry. It can also show you different explorer and broswer extensions. Think of autoruns as a super advanced msconfig utility. Changing settings in autoruns is only recommended if you know what your doing. A mistake can cause your OS useless. Some viruses that schedule themselves to run at some time can also be deleted in autoruns "scheduled tasks" tab. You can also use this tool in optimizing start-up items in your pc as referred to this post. If you want to dowload this tool, here is its Microsoft link.

...read more ⇒

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Conficker Virus: Not just a typical computer worm

Conficker is a computer worm attacking vulnerabilities of Microsoft Operating Systems and started infecting PC's around November 2008. Computer worms have been circulating in the internet for so long but what made this worm special? Researchers from the different anti-virus companies say that the person or people responsible for this virus know what their doing and and it uses various advanced malware techniques that make it difficult to eradicate. Even the French Navy system was infected that several fighter jets were grounded and the British Ministry of defence also reported being infected. The following Windows OS are believed to be vulnerable to conficker worm: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008/R2. Windows 7 is also likely to have the same vulnerability as well. Windows responded with a patch to close the security hole but many computers in the world are still vulnerable.
April 1, 2009 is the date anticipated by experts that the virus activates itself and no one knows what will happen but it never caused many problems. Even though it did not cause much problem on that date, many experts say that the virus is slowly turning infected PC's into email spam servers and distribute the virus accross the world wide web. It basically makes the infected PC into a botnet, or PC slave under the control of the virus or its makers. Conficker is also evolving over-time. The latest variant of the virus is the Conficker.E that was reported to be infecting PC's on April 8, 2009.

What are the symptoms?
- Account lockout policies being reset automatically
- Certain Windows services such as Updates, Firewalls, BITS, defender, error reporting tools disabled
- Domain Controller responding slowly to client request
- Congestion in LAN
- Microsoft, anti-virus and security related websites becomes inaccesible
- User accounts are locked-out

How to avoid being infected?
- Regularly update from Microsoft to recieve important patch that closes security holes exploited by the worm.
- Install an anit-virus and never disable your firewall
- Employ proper password policy
- Disable Autorun feature on Windows as the worm can also spread in removable drives such as USB flash drives.

More information on the worm can be found on Microsoft website.
...read more ⇒

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to boost your PC performance

Basically a slow computer makes us less productive but actually we can maximize our PC's without adding new hardware or sending it to the technician. Here's a guide on how to optimize your PC's performance in easy steps. (For Windows XP)

1. When we use our computer overtime, we install certain software's but rarely uses or don't use at all and just takes up space and memory. Our first step is to look at our installed programs: Go to ->Start-> Control Panel->add remove programs and inspect the installed programs there. Look for programs that you don't use anymore like a game you don't play or a software you don't use and uninstall/remove it.

2. When our computer boots up, certain programs are loaded in the memory at start-up. To improve our PC's start-up time, we may want to remove some applications there that we don't want to start-up automatically. Go to -> Start->run->and type "msconfig". This will bring out the system config utility and click the startup tab. Careful not to mess with the settings on the other tab if you don't know what your doing as this may damage your Operating System. On the start-up tab inspect the programs there, look at the "command" column to find out what program the item is associated to. An example of the program we can remove is the yahoo messenger start-up item. If you don't want it to start-up everytime you boot your pc then you can remove this. Important software that "should" be running in your start-up item is your anti-virus(if you have one).

3. Next, we may want to clean up temporay files on our PC that are just taking up space. Go to->my computers->right click on your drive(ex. drive C:)->properties, and on the "general" tab, click cleanup. Do this in other drives as well if you partitioned your hardrive. Don't close the properties window just yet, we'll need it in the next step.

4. There are also other tools available in the "tools" tab, if you frequently turn-off your pc without shutting it down properly then you may want to check your drive for error. To do this just click "check now". And if you install/unistall programs frequently, chances are your drive is fragmented. You can defragment your drive to improve access time on your files by clicking "defragment now" in the tools tab.

5. You can also change your virtual memory settings so that your system will have enough space to use in case you ran out of RAM. Right click on my computer->properties->"advanced" tab-> on the performance section click settings-> go to "advance" tab->and click change under virtual memory->under "custom size" put a size above the recommended in the "Total paging file size of all drive" and click ok. This step is also applicable if you always encounter the error "your system is low on virtual memory"

6. Some hardware on your system might be causing your system to slow down because no drivers or corrupted drivers are installed. To check this, right click on my computer->properties->hardware tab->device manager->look for exclamation points or indicator that you don't have a driver installed for that hardware and right click on it->properties->driver tab-> and click update driver. If this doesn't work, you can try to refer to your PC manual on what specific driver to download or install.

7. If you still want to save some speed you can also revert back to windows classic theme. You can do this by:right click on your desktop->click properties->on the themes tab choose window classic. You can also remove unused icons in your desktop.

8.(optional) You may also want to clean up your registry using a registry cleaning tool.

As a summary of the steps...
1. Remove/Uninstall unused programs and software
2. Remove unwanted/unessential start-up items
3. Clean up disk space
4. Check your drive for error and defrag regularly
5. Increase virtual memory allocation
6. Install/update drivers for your hardware components
7. Revert to windows classic theme and clean your desktop of unused icons
...read more ⇒

Game Pick: HAWX PC

A short run on its gameplay..

Tom Clancy's HAWX flew on the PC on March 2009 and also available in other platforms. It is an aerial warfare game developed by Ubisoft and the gameplay revolves in the system they call ERS or Enhanced Reality System. Basically an ERS is designed to assist the player in a mission or more specifically in flying the plane. It has different components like radar,missile detection,anti-crash and so on.. The player can also disable this components to make the gameplay harder and like other Tom Clancy release, you can also issue a command to your AI squadrons. A first person or cockpit view or a third person view is also available. Multiplayer mode is also available.

So what makes it click?

Aside from its stunning graphics and terrains, Hawx is also more of an arcade type than a simulation game. This may sound bad to those aerial simulation fans but also appeals to a more general crowd. It's ERS system enables anyone to pilot a plane. It also packs more action and explosions compared to a simulation game. While it is acclaimed by some, others also criticize the lack of simulation experience in the game and the difference of some planes like the different variants of the F-15 is not realistic.

And for the game requirements...

Minimum System Requirements
OS: Windows XP SP 3/Vista SP 1
Processor: Pentium 4 @ 2 GHz/AMD Athlon 2000+
Memory:1 GB on Windows XP/ 2 GB on Windows Vista
Hard Drive: 7 GB Free
Video Memory: 128 MB - Shader Model 2.0*
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
DirectX: 9.0c or 10
Keyboard & Mouse
DVD Rom Drive

Recommended System Requirements
Windows XP SP 3/Vista SP 1
Intel Core 2 DUO 6320/AMD Athlon X2 4000+
1 GB on Windows XP/ 2 GB on Windows Vista
Hard Drive: 7 GB Free
Video Memory: 256 MB - Shader Model 3.0*
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
DirectX: 9.0c or 10
Keyboard & Mouse
DVD Rom Drive

Multiplayer: Broadband connection with 128 kbps upstream or faster / LAN connection

Supported Video Cards at Time of Release:
Shader Model 2.0: NVIDIA® GeForce® 59xx, ATI® RADEON® X8xx / 9800
Shader Model 3.0 / 4.0: NVIDIA® GeForce® 6/7/8/9 series, ATI® RADEON® X1300XT / X1650-1950/HD 2000/3000/4000 series, ATI® Crossfire, NVIDIA SLI

I haven't tried playing the game under the minimum requirements but based on playing experience, the minimum is quite low than expected for this kind of game. If it would run on this specs then great but I recommend running this game on the recommended system specs or higher for a maximum playing experience. You may also want to check the VGA graphics card performance test to have an idea on how will it perform on your system.

If your still not sure if it will run smoothly on your system, you could try a free demo which can be downloaded here.

Enjoy Gaming... ...read more ⇒

Hot New Tech: Kindle DX detailed Specs

These are the specs of the new Kindle DX! The most notable upgrade of this version is the large screen size. Perfect for reading those electronic books and magazines!

Detailed specifications from the manufacturer. (Amazon.com)

+Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

+Carry Your Library: Holds up to 3,500 books, periodicals, and documents

+Beautiful Large Display: 9.7" diagonal e-ink screen reads like real paper; boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and sharp images

+Auto-Rotating Screen: Display auto-rotates from portrait to landscape as you turn the device so you can view full-width maps, graphs, tables, and Web pages

+Built-In PDF Reader: Native PDF support allows you to carry and read all of your personal and professional documents on the go

+Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle DX, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, no annual contracts, and no hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots

+Books In Under 60 Seconds: You get free wireless delivery of books in less than 60 seconds; no PC required

+Long Battery Life: Read for days without recharging

+Read-to-Me: With the text-to-speech feature, Kindle DX can read newspapers, magazines, blogs, and books out loud to you, unless the book's rights holder made the feature unavailable

+Big Selection, Low Prices: Over 275,000 books; New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases are only $9.99, unless marked otherwise

+More Than Books: U.S. and international newspapers including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, magazines including The New Yorker and Time, plus popular blogs, all auto-delivered wirelessly ...read more ⇒

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kindle DX - A hot new tech

Kindle DX... It's a hot new product developed by Amazon but what is really Kindle DX?

For a short history, Kindle was first introduced in the US on November 19, 2007. It was named Kindle 1 and it was so popular that it was sold out for the first five and a half hours and remained out of stock until late April 2008. I guess Amazon did not even expect for it to be so popular that they could not supply the demand for it. It was followed by Kindle 2 in February 2009 and surprisingly with just less than 3 months it was followed again by another release the "Kindle DX" on May 6, 2009.

So what does Kindle do?

Basically Kindle is a portable hardware that allows you to read electronic books or e-books. Users can download content from Amazon in the proprietary Kindle format (AZW), or load unprotected Mobipocket (PRC, MOBI) or plain text (TXT) content. There is also an Amazon service that can convert standard formats to AZW namely HTML, DOC, PDF, GPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP. You can even download New York Times bestseller! Great! But not for free ofcourse, it costs approximately 10$ per download. Good for those avid readers of new york times who are always on the GO..

So whats cool about Kindle DX?

Kindle DX boasts a large screen of 9-7 inch dispaly and a high resolution of 1200x824. It also supports audio in MP3 format and can read PDF file. Has 3G wireless capability that allows you to download content anytime and take note, it has no monthly fees to use it's wireless capability. Great right! And another cool thing is that it is so thin it is as thin as most magazine! wow! and also has a read-to-me function.

If your planning to buy an e-book reader, Kindle DX is the best for you and if your planning to buy kindle 2, I suggest you'll go directly to Kindle DX.. It has a large screen, and screen size does matter in an e-book reader device. Stay tune for more of "Kindle DX". ...read more ⇒