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WorldStart Tech Tips 03-02-2012

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In The News 03-02-2012
Your Weekly Update In The World Of Technology 

 Metro UI

8 Is Here (Sorta..)

Windows 8 is finally here!  Well, at least the consumer preview anyway.  This also means the operating system probably has more bugs than a rundown motel, but hey, it’s cool!  It’s new! (Let’s hope it’s not another Vista!)

Despite the expected flaws of any preview release, Windows 8 hopes to usher in a new wave of computing.  Most current desktop operating systems feature the familiar “desktop-like” starting screen, complete with icons wallpaper, and some sort of “Start” button.  Microsoft, while not completely replacing that familiar user interface, has decided to make a drastic change.  The new interface that you will first experience on Windows 8 will be called Metro.  Metro features a tiled user interface, making it both easy to navigate with a keyboard and mouse but also, and most importantly, works well with touch screens.  The goal is a single common interface designed for both mobile devices and desktop PC’s.  As mentioned, the desktop is not completely lost, as it is accessible as one of the “app” tiles on the Metro user interface.

The consumer preview can be installed from Microsoft’s website.  Keep in mind, however, that you must replace your existing operating system in order to install the preview (not typically recommended).

 Apple Greater Than

Apple Is Worth More Than Waffles, Crepes, And Oil

It’s no secret that Apple is a massive company with high value, but did you know its value is worth more than many well-known countries?  Wednesday marked a milestone for the company as it hit the $500 billion mark in value, .  That makes it higher than the gross domestic product (GDP) of nations such as Poland, Belgium (mmm… waffles), Sweden (mmm… crepes), and Saudi Arabia (oil).  The $500 billion mark has only been hit a small handful of times by companies such as Microsoft, General Electric, ExxonMobil, and Cisco.

Apple shows no signs of slowing down either.  According to the company, their sales grew 73% last year while also posting the second-most profitable quarter in US company history.  This also comes at a time where anticipation is high for the new iPad 3, which is expected to be released next week.

~Mike

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Table Of Contents

Computers 101 The Pros and Cons of 64-Bit Windows
On The Move Free Lookout Security and Antivirus
From The Archives What are Zip Files?
Today's Feature FTurn Off Windows Aero For Performance
Amanda's Coolsite Color

 

Computers 101

Vernon from Tennessee writes:

What advantage/disadvantage is there between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows?

If you’ve ever tried to compare different computer or laptop models to see which is a better deal, you’ve realized it’s like comparing apples and oranges. There are just too many variables to be able to make this comparison valid. While browsing, you may have noticed that most non-Macintosh computers come with Windows pre-installed, though some come with a 32-bit version and others with a 64-bit Windows.

Memory

Higher numbers are typically better when looking at computer components and software, and this instance is no different. The 64-bit Windows is newer and better than the 32-bit in a number of ways. The 32-bit version of both Windows Vista and Windows 7 can only handle up to 4 gigabytes of RAM (random access memory), which is what your computer relies on when running programs and loading files. Your computer can’t truly utilize every byte of RAM, so you’re left with about 3 gigabytes of RAM to work with. The 64-bit version, on the other hand, can handle up to 17.2 billion gigabytes of memory. That’s four-billion times more RAM than the 32-bit! Don’t rush right out to buy that much RAM just yet though. Your computer’s motherboard can only handle so much RAM too, so you’ll need to check the specifications for it before adding mass quantities of RAM.

Security

For those concerned about security, the 64-bit version of Windows offers better security than the 32-bit version. While the 32-bit version’s security is adequate for most of the general population, many individuals who are worried about online identity theft prefer the 64-bit because of its enhanced security features.

Hardware Compatibility

Like all new technology, the 64-bit Windows is not without its disadvantages, at least until the rest of the tech world catches up to Microsoft as far as technology is concerned. If your computer or any of your peripherals — printer, scanner, monitor, etc. — are even slightly outdated, chances are they aren’t compatible with the 64-bit version of either Vista or Windows 7. When Microsoft created the 64-bit Vista, they stopped supporting older devices, which means you won’t be able to find 64-bit drivers for these devices anymore. No drivers means you’ve got to upgrade to new peripherals.This is not always the case 100% of the time, so do double check with a professional before upgrading.

Software Compatibility

The same situation exists with software, although you can run software that is not 64-bit on a 64-bit operating system, it just won’t be as fast. If you plan to use the Internet on your 64-bit Windows operating system — and who doesn’t — you’ll need to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 64-bit for optimum performance. Fans of other browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox, can still uses these browsers, but they are 32-bit, which makes having a 64-bit operating system unnecessary. Though Firefox has released a 64-bit version, most users have had extreme difficulties trying to install and run it, so it’s best to stick with the 32-bit version for now.

You may be asking yourself which version of Windows is better. The answer depends on your computer needs. If you use your computer primarily for Web browsing, e-mail and word processing, the 32-bit version is perfectly fine for the time being. For users who run more memory-intense programs, such as video games or graphics programs, it may be time to upgrade to the 64-bit Windows, along with 64-bit hardware and software.

You can learn more about 32 vs. 64 bit here, too.

~Chad Stetson

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On The Move

Ignatius from Illinois asks:

I understand that there are several antivirus apps for Android phones. Can you recommend one?

Thanks for the question, Ignatius. The debate rages on about the necessity and effectiveness of antivirus software for smartphones, but their rapidly expanding use make attacks inevitable. If there’s one lesson to be learned from navigating cyberspace on computers, it’s that; if infections can be created and spread to unsuspecting users, someone will do it.

Security was the first issue I addressed with my Android phone. And for that, I use the free version of Lookout Security and Antivirus, which can be downloaded from the Android Market by clicking here. Or it can be accessed with the QR Code below.

kevin_mylookout_0

QR Reader apps can be downloaded here for the Android and here for the iPhone.

Once installed, the following screens offer and explain features. At the bottom of each screen, Enable is checked by default. If you’d rather not enable one of these features, uncheck the box and click the Next button.

kevin_mylookout_1

At the bottom of the Missing Device screen, select New or Existing user, sign up (or sign in), and tap the Start Lookout button.

kevin_mylookout_2

Lookout will then perform a spyware and malware scan. After that, when new apps are installed, they will also be scanned, with the results shown at the top of the screen.

kevin_mylookout_3

To find a missing phone, using another device (computer, phone, etc.), go to the Lookout home page, and click the Log In button.

kevin_mylookout_4

Sign in, using your email address or mobile number.

kevin_mylookout_7

Then, either click the Missing Device image, or the Missing Device tab.

kevin_mylookout_5

In my tests, the phone locator was able to quickly find the phone twice in two days, at two different locations. To activate the scream feature, click the Scream button.

kevin_mylookout_6

This feature emits a loud screaming noise, designed to discourage thieves and alert people nearby, but it’s just as likely to be used (by me at least) to find a misplaced phone. Many people keep the ring volume down on their phones, but the scream overrides the volume control, making it a more reliable way to find a phone, than by dialing the number. In addition to the scream, the phone screen will flash alternately between black and white (below).

kevin_mylookout_8

To learn more about potential hazards, read the Lookout Mobile Threat Report.

Lookout mobile security is also available for iPad and Android tablets.

~Kevin

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From The Archives

Remy from Toronto asks:

What are “zipped” files?

A zip file is basically a “package” of one or more compressed files. If you download a lot of software, you’ll run across these all the time.

They are not difficult to work with. You’ll need an “unzipping” program in order to access them, something like Winzip or Winrar are both good choices.

Once unzipped, you simply run the install program (if there is one) and you’re all set. In fact, Winzip will automatically run the installation program for you if it finds one!

You can download Winzip from:

http://www.winzip.com

You can get Winrar here:

http://www.rarlabs.com/

It is a shareware program, so if you use it you should pay for it. It doesn’t have an expiration though, so you can “evaluate” it for as long as you like.

If you have Windows XP or Vista, you don’t need a program—just double click a zipped file to open it.



A menu will appear from which you can save individual files to your computer. Just click & drag or copy the file you want and drop it in the desired location. It’s that easy!

Also, in the left-hand column there is a link to “Extract all files”.



This will open a wizard to guide you through the extraction process. You can choose where you want the files to go, etc.

Did you ever imagine that unzipping file could be so easy?

~ Andrew

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Today's Feature

Turn Off Windows Aero for Performance

http://imgsrv.worldstart.com/ct-images/6697-video-screenshot.jpg

Windows 7 is certainly pretty, and Aero makes those open desktop windows look even better. But all that pretty takes up computing resources.

If you’ve installed Windows 7 on an older machine, or if you just want your computer to run more efficiently, there are two ways that you can reduce your graphics features. If you combine these methods, you can free up your graphics card to work faster in applications or games.

image

To deactivate Aero on your desktop, right-click anywhere on the desktop, and then left-click Personalize in the resulting menu.

image

The Personalization menu contains the various graphics themes you can use on your desktop windows. The default Windows scheme uses Aero, which includes features like translucent window frames. If you want your system to run a bit more efficiently, select the Windows 7 Basic theme, or any of the Windows Classic or High Contrast themes. This will reduce the work your graphics card has to do to run your desktop.

If you want to reduce other graphics features and speed things up even more, you can edit your visual effect in the System Properties menu.

image

Right-click on the Computer icon and left-click Properties. This will take you to the System Properties menu.

image

In the task menu on the left, left-click Advanced system settings.

image

Under the Advanced tab of the resulting menu, find the section marked Performance. Left-click the Settings button to the right of this section.

image

By default, your visual effects will be set to let Windows choose the best settings. You can experiment with these settings as you wish by clicking Apply each time you change something.

Some of the bigger resource-hogging effects include fading out menus, animating windows and controls, and visual styles on windows and buttons. Other features, like smoothing screen fonts, are helpful enough (for your eyes especially!) that it’s a good idea to leave them on. A good custom setting may look like this:

image

Once you have selected the desired settings, click OK to finish. Your desktop and windows may not look as pretty anymore, but for XP users the difference is hard to notice – and your computer will definitely run faster!

~Gregory Pretti


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Amanda's Coolsite

Color

Welcome to Color – a very fun color matching game! 

This game is deceptively easy at first, then it gets much harder. Your job is to mouse-over the color wheel to find the matching color for what is displayed (with one small catch, your cursor is tied not to just one point on the color but to two points and then four points as the game progresses).

Before you get started playing, make sure that you check out the section Adjust your Brightness. This will make sure that your monitor is calibrated correctly for the color matching game. If it isn’t, you may need to adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor’s settings.

Are you color blind? You can still play the game. Click Color Blind Assist this will give you the option to start the game with the color blind assistance turned on. What it does is provide a shape as well as the color you are searching for.

Okay, so you’re ready to play – click the color wheel. The first round is hue. Use your mouse to match the color on the outside rim of the circle to the color displayed in the center of the circle. Eventually searching for different types of color: Hue, Saturation, Complementary, Analog, Triad, and Tetrad.

Each round gets progressively harder as you have more points or colors around the circle to match. When you’ve reached the color that matches click on it with your mouse. You’ll then receive a score ranging from: perfect – you matched the color exactly, very good – it is almost a complete match, good – you’re in the ballpark, and poor – you didn’t match it at all.

How will you fair in this game of color matching savvy? I do fairly well on the first three rounds and then I’m very hit or miss it’s either very good or poor. Check it out today and give it a try yourself!  

http://color.method.ac/

~Amanda

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Do you have a cool, non-commercial site that you want to share?

Send it to Amanda at
amanda@worldstart.com



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Monthly Wallpaper

March Wallpaper Is Ready!

Check it out! Three brand new images for March wallpaper! Also, be sure to rate the photos at the ratings page.

Valley Of Fire Sunrise

YES! I finally got it!

I "discovered" this photo several years ago in Valley Of Fire State Park, NV. I always thought that if I could get just the right sky it could be one heck of a shot. The first time I saw it was...(More)

Superior Fury

Sometimes landscape photography can get hazardous - and this was one of those times. This was taken while I was perched about 3 feet from the edge of a fairly steep cliff on the edge of Lake Superior. The wind snarled and the waves filled the air with a roar that had to be experienced to be believed. That's why I arrived early and...(More)

Star Trials Over Golden Canyon

This was created one cloudless night over Golden Canyon near Zabriskie Point, Death Valley. Most of the time, I really love getting some cool clouds at sunset, but when I'm stuck with a sky that's dull, boring and clear, that can only mean one thing - star trails! So, I set up the camera and….. (More)

It can all be found here, 100% free:

http://www.backcountrygallery.com/wallpaper/

~ Steve


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