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Thursday, November 25, 2010

RAID configuraation

Maybe in the next entry I will share a little bit about RAID or Redundant Array of Independent Disks (formerly Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). Hard drives become significantly cheaper nowadays compared to a few years back. For those who built their own desktop, RAID is something not to missed because it can boost the write/read speed and also increase the reliability (depending on which configuration you choose). Until next time, thanks a lot for stopping by.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Firefox Plugin: Xmarks

Bookmarking is a great way to save your favorite website or any web pages that you want to revisit at later time. It would be even better if the bookmark appears on any browsers from any computers isn't it? Even at public computers at the airport and shared computers at the university! Actually you can do that with a Firefox plugin called Xmarks (previously known as Foxmarks). When you are installing Xmarks, it will ask you to create an account if you haven't done so. Once you have an account, your bookmark will be automatically saved and synchronized with your online bookmark. Whenever you want to access your bookmark on another computers, just go here and sign in using the same username and password as the ones that you use to set up the Xmarks account.

Xmarks user interface

You can also install Xmarks on as many computers as you want. Let say you already have Xmarks installed on browser on a PC and you wish to install another Xmarks on your notebook computer. Just install it as you do on PC but don't create a new account this time. Log in using the same username and password. Next you'll be prompted to either (1) merge your bookmark, (2) discard bookmark on the browser and keep bookmark on the server or (3) discard bookmark on the server and keep only bookmark on the browser. Your choice depends on which bookmark you use the most. You can merge the bookmark from the server and on the browser. This way, you will have both bookmarks from the server and the browser. If you choose the second option, you will end up keeping only bookmark from the current Xmarks account. If you choose option 3, you will erase the bookmark that you have on the server and replace it with the new one from the browser of newly installed Xmarks.

Whenever you add a new bookmark, Xmarks will note the change and will prompt you to update the bookmark when you attempt to close the browser. Xmarks was first designed to be a Firefox plugin but now Xmarks users can also use it on IE and Safari.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Firefox Plugin: Ubiquity

Ubiquity is one the cool Firefox plugins that enables you to do a lot of things while browsing. Let say you’ve found a fantastic restaurant and want to recommend it to your friend. You locate the address of the restaurant in google maps and add a link in your email to your friend. It would probably take 4 steps. Open Google Maps, Search, Click on it, copy link, open email, then paste. That is what you normally do but do you realise that you can’t even put the map in your email? Yes no map just a link! That’s the problem of the internet. The web is disconnected, data is far away. Can you imagine how fun and easy internet browsing is if you can email map of the restaurant in just a few clicks away? You can translate a foreign language to English just by highlighting the phrase. You can even sync your twitter account with Ubiquity. It is so easy. For more info, check out the video below. Until next time, Shah

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Photoshop Express!

This time I’ll talk about this cool website that allows you to edit your pictures like you do in Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop is a cool pictures editing software. People have been using it to make posters, flyers, add cool effects on your favourite vacation pictures and superimpose photos of famous actress lol! The good news is it comes in online version. Edit your pictures online. Yes it is online! All you need is internet connection. Well it is not as cool as the real Photoshop but come on, it is design for everyone even with no experience at all in photo editing! Because it is online, you can edit your pictures anywhere as long you have internet connection.

Ok now let’s talk about the features. It has two basic menus, edit ad decorate. Under edit menu you can do so many things like crop and rotate, exposure, red eye, saturation, balance etc. You can brighten your photo if it is too dark. It’s just like adding a flash after shooting a photo!  You can emphasize any particular colour by Pop Up Colour. What’s so good about Photoshop express is you can preview the effects by hovering mouse over the effect that you want. If you are satisfied with it you can click on it to apply. It is really as easy as that. You can also ‘Sketch’ your picture. It will make your picture like a drawing!

Another cool feature is Decorate. It allows you to add bubbles, texts, decoration etc. Like what I did on a sample picture, I clicked on costumes and choose a pair of glasses. Then I put the glasses on the dog and it looks cool hehe. You can add frames, balloons and more. You just need to play with it. I edited the picture below in less than 1 minute! Cool isn’t it?

You can also save your Facebook, Picasa, Flickr and Photobucket login and in just one click you can publish your cool edited pictures on these sites! Oh I forgot to mention that you have to register to use this service but it’s free. You only need email address for registration. There is no reason why you shouldn’t try this! Until next time, Shah.

The Importance of Having a Good Backup System

How long have you own your computer?1 month?1 year or many years? Regardless how long you own your computer, it is extremely important to have a very good backup system. I'm sure all of us got many collections of files and folders stored in the computer's hard drive. Some of us may have thousands of songs and movies (illegally not to mention but who doesn't :p) downloaded from numerous sources on the net and full archive of photos from 5 to 15 years ago. Have you ever imagined if someday your hard drive crashed or fried by overheating or stolen (happened to a famous movie director)? What will you do? You might try to recover your drive but the success is not guaranteed though (if you got 50% recovery you're lucky enough). But what if you're out of luck? You gonna lose all of your data! All of your collection of files will be gone. Whatever you have on your hard drive I'm sure you can't afford to lose them. That’s why everyone must have a good backup system.

How are backups being done?

Backup is simply means having the extra copy of files stored inside the computer's hard drive elsewhere. There are few ways of how backup can be done. The simplest way of doin backup is having an external hard drive when you can store all of your data in it. You can also upload them to online file hosting services or having your multiple drives at RAID 1 configuration (may require advance knowledge on computing so it won't be discussed here).

1) Online file hosting.

Online file hosting means hosting or keeping files online. Keeping files on the net doesn’t necessarily mean it is freely available for every internet user. You can save your files privately or share them with anyone who has the access to the internet. There are tons of online file hosting services freely available to use. I'm sure you've heard about RapidShahre, SaveFile or BoxNet. These are a few example of site that offers free online file hosting while at the same time also offering file sharing. I've personally use some but Orbitfiles is the only one I'm sticking with until now. It offers 6 Gigabytes of storage for free. Orbitfiles users can also share or even sell them (assuming you have full rights on ‘em)! To host your files online, you will need to upload them to the server. Most of the services use internet interface to upload file like you do when uploading photos and videos to Blogger or Wordpress. Some of them also provide free application software for easy uploading process. Orbitfiles users can download free software called Hercules uploader which is very handy to upload your files to the server. You can schedule the uploading process to be at 3:00 am every morning or 2:00 pm every Monday. It is free and easy to use. I use online file hosting only for important and small files. Small files are much faster to upload than larger files. If you need security for your files, you can password protect your files using Winrar. A simple .zip or .rar file with a strong encryption (password) is almost impossible to be opened without the correct password. Even with a good computer, you'll need years to break the code using bruteforce attack. You can click the link below to visit Orbitfiles website.

2) External Drives

The easiest way to do backup is by having an external hard drive. External hard drives have become the most popular option for either extra storage space or backup purposes. Year by year the price of hard drive dropped quite rapidly. External hard drives come with a wide range of capacity from old 8 Gigabytes to 2 Terabytes (1 Terabytes = 1000 Gigabytes). 2TB had drives are still expensive at the moment. An external with descent capacity (160GB - 500GB) is just nice for backup purposes. They are not that expensive as 2TB. Once you have one, you can start backing up your files. However to do it in regular basis is quite boring and after some times you won't care about you backup anymore. Some external hard drives come with its own backup software which is doing the boring part for you. I have one Seagate hard drive that comes with a program call drive manager where you can set the files or folders to be backed up automatically at any specified time. If the program detects any change of files in your selected folder, it will update your backup folder on external hard drive on the next scheduled time. You can also disable auto backup if you prefer that way. Remember this, computers and hardware can be insured, but the only insurance for data is backup!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Things you need to consider before buying a new laptop

1) Processor

Processor or sometimes referred as Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the computer's brain. Generally speaking, Intel’s processors are better than AMD's in terms of power and heat management while offering speed. AMD processors are usually cheaper (about half the price) than Intel’s but I would highly recommend Intel’s processors. You could go with a desktop CPU like Pentium 4 by Intel or Athlon 64 by AMD but bear in mind that desktop CPUs are not designed for mobility so they consume more power and run hotter. The favourite processor now is Intel’s Core™ 2 Duo. Its perfect for home use to ultimate gaming experience but if you have some extra moolah go for Quad Core! Its ok spending a lil’ bit more here since you can’t easily upgrade the processor and you don’t want your processor get outdated pretty soon.

2) Screen

Screen is not a big deal but you must know what you are after. Most laptops come with Widescreen which has an aspect ratio of 16:19 than 4:3 standard screen. This means the images are sharper and better than normal screen. Widescreens are great for watching movies and multitasking. You can open up two windows (eg browsers) side by side.

3) RAM

The key hardware in determining the speed of your computer is the RAM. If you are doing multitasking with ‘heavy’ programs like video, audio and image editing while opening tabs of Firefox and working with a few other widows simultaneously you need a HUGE RAM. 1GB is fair enough for basic office apps but for high-performance 3D gaming and video editing opt for AT LEAST 2GB. It is a good idea upgrading the RAM when buying a new laptop if the pre-installed RAM is too small. The new models of laptop usually have two RAM slots each can take up to 2GB making up the total of 4GB. That’s HUGE!

4) Graphic Memory

You will need a graphic card installed if you are a gaming enthusiast. Good memory card offers smoothness and better image quality than laptops running on shared graphic memory. For playing high end 3D games, look for 512MB or 1GB of system memory. Common graphic cards are Sapphire ATI RADEON, NVIDIA nFORCE and geFORCE etc.

5) Get Connected

When you are looking for a new laptop, find the one that comes with variety of ports and slots like USB ports, FireWire etc. You will need a few USB ports to connect to your mouse, webcam, USB fash drives, printer and many other hardware that require USB connection. You may need a USB hub if you have many USB devices connected to your laptop. In the other hand, having a USB hub is good cuz plugs in and plugs out the USB ports so often will loosen the ports up. FireWire port is newer and faster than USB but the current hardware market shows that FireWire will take a looong time before it can displace USB. Other ports are VGA output and S-Video output. A VGA output is more common than S-Video output as almost every output device uses VGA. If you are going to do powerpoint or video presentation, you need to have VGA output because most of projectors have this kind of connection. Another thing I think a laptop must have is PCMCIA slot. This slot is very useful as nowadays there are many hardware designed to fit into PCMCIA slot like external sound card, modem card, 3G wireless modem or even a TV tuner card.

PCMCIA slot and cards

6) Wireless Connectivity

With the advancement of wireless technology, getting connected has never been easier than ever for everyone at anywhere and anytime. Thus, most of notebooks ship with a wireless capability. The fastest Wi-Fi is 802.11n radio. It gives ten times the speed and wider and better Wi-Fi coverage than the normal 802.11g. Bluetooth is another wireless protocol but using a shorter range of radio signals than Wi-Fi. Most of mobile phones and other peripherals like printers, keyboard and mouse have this kind of technology. Having a laptop with Bluetooth enables you to connect to those devices wirelessly.

7) Hard Drive and Optical Drive

If you have many files to be stored look for 120GB or 160GB of hard drive size. Besides capacity, another factor determines a good hard drive is its rotational speed. Buy the one that has rotational speed of at least 5,400rpm. The faster it spins the faster it reads the data. If you need more storage buy the external ones. You will need an optical drive to play or burn CDs and DVDs. Look for DVD writer not CD/DVD combo drive. CD/DVD combo drive can play both CD and DVD but can’t burn DVD

8) Warranty

Usually a brand new laptop comes with 1 year warranty. If you can afford, buy the extended warranty as a precautionary measure in case of any problem happens in the future. Some stores offer up to 5 years limited warranty for notebooks.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Software you must have!

1Kaspersky antivirus. The 1st software you need to install after installing a fresh copy of Windows is antivirus. Don’t go online without having an antivirus otherwise you will end up reformatting your computer twice! This is a very good antivirus available in the market. It was listed as the second best antivirus after BitDefender in 2008 top 10 antivirus review by TopTenReviews™. Having kaspersky means you don’t need to worry anymore about security issues.

2 C Cleaner. You need this to clean up your computer mess. It removes temporary files, clean up your system and most importantly it can speed up your computer!

CCleaner - Freeware Windows Optimization

3Internet Download Manager (IDM). If you are downloading files from the internet by direct download (not using utorrent, bitcommet whatsoever) you need to have this! IDM can speed up your download speed by 500% (compared to normal direct download of Firefox and IE). It can connect to up to 15 connections to give you the maximum download speed. You can try it for free.

4VLC Media Player. I think most of people have this software. VLC can play almost every video format (not real media format and few others). This free software is way better than any paid player. Sometimes you cannot play certain DVDs on Windows Media Player because it comes from different zone. This is because WM player sucks! You can play DVDs from any zone in the world by using VLC. Plus, it is fast and lightweight player too.

5Ad Aware SE. This is another good software to have. Well, I’ve mentioned you don’t need to worry about security issues if you have Kaspersky antivirus installed but I actually lied :p You need this software to remove Spyware and Adware from your machines. Antivirus cannot remove these things and that’s why you need to have a very specific remover tool to remove them. It is free to use

6Registry Mechanic. This is a supplementary of C Cleaner. C Cleaner is good but it does not created to fix registry errors like Reg Mech does. If the registry becomes messy, your computer will run slowly and sometimes they will be error messages popping up. It can easily be fixed by running a registry cleaner few times

7Audacity. This is one of my favourite software. I use this to cut songs to make ringtones for my phones. This is a basic audio editing software yet powerful. You can do many things with audacity. If you like karaoke, you can remove vocals from your favourite tracks and make your own minus ones.

How to Remove Vocals Tutorial

8 Total Video Converter. Need to convert between various formats of video files? Or u wanna compress your movie files into smaller mp4 format for your Handhelds? Or you just wanna extract audio from your video files? Then TVC is the one you are looking for!