Friday, September 21, 2007

Good features in IE 7 with Windows Vista

Internet Explorer 7 Security

A major advancement in browsing security was released with Microsoft Vista's Internet Explorer 7. Browsing the Internet in the past was akin to walking through a minefield, where dangerous malware threatened to take over your machine with just one click. Windows Vista has locked down Internet Explorer 7 with a default feature called Protected Mode. Protected mode is security settings in the browser that give the user just enough privileges to surf the Internet, but not enough privileges that allow changes to be made to the system.

protected mode

Parental Controls

Internet Explorer also integrates a powerful parental control feature that allows you to limit your child's activity on the computer. You can access these controls from the Tools, then Internet Options, then the Content menu. Decide when and what websites your child visits, and also the types of video games your child plays on the computer, which are rated by the ESRB.

Phishing Filters

Phishing is a website that deceives a visitor into thinking the website is something other than what it is, such as a bank website or any other site that may need your username and password. Phishing is a way hackers steal identities. Internet Explorer keeps an updated list of these sites and attempts to filter them from your web browser automatically.

Windows Vista has made an attempt to recover IE's tarnished past with the release of Vista and Internet Explorer 7. They have done a great job of tackling the concerns of parents and users who want to keep malicious code off of their computers. Time will tell just how successful their endeavors will be, but we suspect these features will recover some of those users who always loved Internet Explorer, but were just too afraid to use it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

System trouble shooting tips.....

Troubleshooting On the Bench

There's nothing more frustrating than a freshly built PC that will not boot. Normally, you're starting with all new components and you're not sure if any of them work to begin with. This article deals with a few common techniques computer technicians use when dealing with this common problem.

Before you begin yanking out cables and components, just go over your connections one last time. A common mistake is the connection from the case power and reset switches to the motherboard. Carefully review the motherboard's manual to make sure these connections are right. Not only do the connectors need to be on the correct pins, they must also be in the correct orientation. If that is good, make sure the | / O switch on the back of the power supply is in the "|" position. Then, give the computer a little shake. Do you hear any screws bouncing around between the motherboard and the case? This can cause the system to blow or go to ground. Lastly, make sure the CMOS jumper is on pins 1-2. If it is on pins 2-3 the motherboard will not boot. This jumper is located near the watch-like battery on the motherboard.

Still no POST? Now carefully remove any PCI and AGP cards. Unplug the power supply and IDE cables to make life easier. You may already be able to get to the screws that hold the motherboard to the case. Personally, I like to remove everything except the CPU and heat-sink before pulling the motherboard.

Once all components are out of the case, place the motherboard on an antistatic bag (use the bag the motherboard shipped it, if possible) or a piece of cardboard. Be sure not to leave the motherboard running on the cardboard unattended because there is a remote possibility it could cause a fire.

You may need to rest the cardboard and bag on top of the case depending on the amount of wire you have with the case wires and the power supply leads. You can short the pins on the motherboard to boot without actually using the case wires but we are not going to cover that here.

Now make sure you only have the bare minimum of components connected to the motherboard. This means only one stick of memory (if the motherboard allows only one stick), the CPU and the video card. Nothing else. The only thing we're trying to do here is get the system to POST. A successful POST should result in a single, short beep. Make sure the motherboard has a built in speaker or you will need to connect an external speaker via pins on the motherboard.

If you still get nothing, begin swapping out spare parts if you have them at your disposal. Otherwise, you will need to start returning the components, starting with the motherboard, then the CPU. Before returning them, look for visible signs of damage (scorch marks on the CPU, bubbling capacitors on the motherboard, etc...).

Good luck. The most important ingredient in troubleshooting a new PC is patience.

What is "Lost cluster in a lost chain" error when I run chkdsk?

Lost Clusters on HDD

Frequently running Scandisk or chkdsk can help save your data. Hard drives can develop bad clusters over time, and those utilities can help retrieve corrupt data, and also prevent data from ever being written to those bad sectors again. Running these disk management tools will help reduce crashes and further loss of data. They may also help make you aware of impending hard drive failure.

Lost clusters in a lost chain

A typical error, such as "lost cluster in a lost chain" indicates that data is present but there are no pointers pointing to that data. You can run chkdsk to attempt to recover the files, or you can simply repair the errors by selecting N when prompted for action. This will correct the errors but not save the data. Or you can press Y, which will attempt the associate a folder to that data. If a folder cannot be found, it will save the data in a folder labeled .xxx. The "xxx" is a sequential number, so the folder will probably be named .000 if the folder does not exist.

This utility exists in Windows 9.x systems, such as Windows 98 and ME. To access this utility, navigate to START>PROGRAMS>ACCESSORIES>SYSTEM TOOLS, then scandisk. You will be given the option to do a Thorough Scan, which is recommended as it physically scans the surface of the drive for errors. You can also specify if you want the errors corrected automatically, which is normally fine unless you want to attempt to recover the data.

Chkdsk is available in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. To run a chkdsk, go to My Computer and right-click the drive you want to scan, then select Properties. Under the Tools tab, you will see a section for Error Checking. Click Check Now. Again, you will be given options Automatically fix the errors, or to attempt to recover the data. You may be prompted to reboot so this utility can run before Windows loads. This is normal.

UAC in Vista

User Account Control (UAC)

User Account Control, or UAC, is a security feature of Windows Vista. Any action that can affect the security or reliability of Windows Vista now requires a confirmation before Vista will apply the changes. Standard Users will need to enter an Administrator’s password before making changes, and if a user is already running as an Administrator, Vista still requires a quick confirmation to ensure the changes are not being made by male-ware.

In previous versions of Windows, users running as Admin gave viruses and male-ware free reign of their system because the administrator had privileges to make changes that would affect the entire system. UAC is a slice of security between the user and the Windows Operating System, which is enabled by default to save us from ourselves.

This security does not come without a price, however. Users will either be relieved or frustrated with the dialog boxes that continuously pop up asking for permission or confirmation on a change being made to Windows.

User Account Control should be viewed as a benefit, and users should give it a chance before disabling UAC. After time, the notices will seem to diminish and fade into the background. The more you use Vista, the less intrusive the UAC notices will become.

But User Account Control can be turned off, though it is not recommended. Login under the ADMIN login name, and then go to the control panel, then to the user accounts. Look for Turn User Account Control On/Off.

If you decide to do this, at least be sure to create a Standard User account and run under that name. Running as Admin without UAC can open your system to attacks as viruses will have full privileges on your system and be capable of doing whatever they want to your machine.