Nov 22, 2009

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Looking for Driver Software for any Product?

Whenever we buy any hardware component we get a Driver CD along with it.

Ex. TV tuner Card, Sound Card, Webcam, etc

Here in the site below you can find all driver softwares for your laptop and destop related Components like :

* PrinterDrivers

* Cdrom Dreivers

* Modem Drivers

* Sound Drivers

* Mouse Drivers

* Monitor Drivers etc.........

Click on the below link:
http://members.driverguide.com/index.php

What is a Worm?

People use e-mail more than any other application on the internet, but it can be a frustrating experience, with spam and especially e-mail worms filling our inboxes.

Worms can spread rapidly over computer networks, the traffic they create bringing those networks to a crawl. And worms can cause other damage, such as allowing unauthorized access to a computer network, or deleting or copying files.

What's a worm?

A worm is a computer virus designed to copy itself, usually in large numbers, by using e-mail or other form of software to spread itself over an internal network or through the internet.

How do they spread?

When you receive a worm over e-mail, it will be in the form of an attachment, represented in most e-mail programs as a paper clip. The attachment could claim to be anything from a Microsoft Word document to a picture of tennis star Anna Kournikova (such a worm spread quickly in February 2001).

If you click on the attachment to open it, you'll activate the worm, but in some versions of Microsoft Outlook, you don't even have to click on the attachment to activate it if you have the program preview pane activated. Microsoft has released security patches that correct this problem, but not everyone keeps their computer up to date with the latest patches.

After it's activated, the worm will go searching for a new list of e-mail addresses to send itself to. It will go through files on your computer, such as your e-mail program's address book and web pages you've recently looked at, to find them.

Once it has its list it will send e-mails to all the addresses it found, including a copy of the worm as an attachment, and the cycle starts again. Some worms will use your e-mail program to spread themselves through e-mail, but many worms include a mail server within their code, so your e-mail program doesn't even have to be open for the worm to spread.

Other worms can use multiple methods of spreading. The MyDoom worm, which started spreading in January 2004, attempted to copy infected files into the folder used by Kazaa, a file-sharing program. The Nimda worm, from September 2001, was a hybrid that had four different ways of spreading.

What do they do?

Most of the damage that worms do is the result of the traffic they create when they're spreading. They clog e-mail servers and can bring other internet applications to a crawl.

But worms will also do other damage to computer systems if they aren't cleaned up right away. The damage they do, known as the payload, varies from one worm to the next.

The MyDoom worm was typical of recent worms. It opened a back door into the infected computer network that could allow unauthorized access to the system. It was also programmed to launch an attack against a specific website by sending thousands of requests to the site in an attempt to overwhelm it.

The target of the original version of MyDoom attack was the website of SCO Group Inc., a company that threatened to sue users of the Linux operating system, claiming that its authors used portions of SCO's proprietary code. A second version of MyDoom targeted the website of software giant Microsoft.

The SirCam worm, which spread during the summer of 2001, disguised itself by copying its code into a Microsoft Word or Excel document and using it as the attachment. That meant that potentially private or sensitive documents were being sent over the internet.

How do I get rid of them?

The best way to avoid the effects of worms is to be careful when reading e-mail. If you use Microsoft Outlook, get the most recent security updates from the Microsoft website and turn off the preview pane, just to be safe.

Never open attachments you aren't expecting to receive, even if they appear to be coming from a friend. Be especially cautious with attachments that end with .bat, .cmd, .exe, .pif, .scr, .vbs or .zip, or that have double endings. (The file attachment that spread the Anna Kournikova worm was AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs.)

Also, install anti-virus software and keep it up to date with downloads from the software maker's website. The updates are usually automatic.

Users also need to be wary of e-mails claiming to have cures for e-mail worms and viruses. Many of them are hoaxes that instruct you to delete important system files, and some carry worms and viruses themselves.

As well, some users should consider using a computer with an operating system other than Windows, the target of most e-mail worms. Most of the worms don't affect computers that run Macintosh or Linux operating systems.

How Hackers get you through Social engineering?

Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. While similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, the term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access; in most cases the attacker never comes face-to-face with the victim.

Social engineering techniques and terms

All social engineering techniques are based on specific attributes of human decision-making known as cognitive biases. These biases, sometimes called "bugs in the human hardware," are exploited in various combinations to create attack techniques, some of which are listed here:

Pretexting

Pretexting is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to persuade a targeted victim to release information or perform an action and is typically done over the telephone. It is more than a simple lie as it most often involves some prior research or set up and the use of pieces of known information (e.g. for impersonation: date of birth, Social Security Number, last bill amount) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target. 
This technique is often used to trick a business into disclosing customer information, and is used by private investigators to obtain telephone records, utility records, banking records and other information directly from junior company service representatives. The information can then be used to establish even greater legitimacy under tougher questioning with a manager (e.g., to make account changes, get specific balances, etc).
As most U.S. companies still authenticate a client by asking only for a Social Security Number, date of birth, or mother's maiden name, the method is effective in many situations and will likely continue to be a security problem in the future.
Pretexting can also be used to impersonate co-workers, police, bank, tax authorities, or insurance investigators — or any other individual who could have perceived authority or right-to-know in the mind of the targeted victim. The pretexter must simply prepare answers to questions that might be asked by the victim. In some cases all that is needed is a voice that sounds authoritative, an earnest tone, and an ability to think on one's feet.

Phishing

Phishing is a technique of fraudulently obtaining private information. Typically, the phisher sends an e-mail that appears to come from a legitimate business—a bank, or credit card company—requesting "verification" of information and warning of some dire consequence if it is not provided. The e-mail usually contains a link to a fraudulent web page that seems legitimate—with company logos and content—and has a form requesting everything from a home address to an ATM card's PIN.
For example, 2003 saw the proliferation of a phishing scam in which users received e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user’s account was about to be suspended unless a link provided was clicked to update a credit card (information that the genuine eBay already had). Because it is relatively simple to make a Web site resemble a legitimate organization's site by mimicking the HTML code, the scam counted on people being tricked into thinking they were being contacted by eBay and subsequently, were going to eBay’s site to update their account information. By spamming large groups of people, the “phisher” counted on the e-mail being read by a percentage of people who already had listed credit card numbers with eBay legitimately, who might respond.

IVR or phone phishing

This technique uses a rogue Interactive voice response (IVR) system to recreate a legitimate sounding copy of a bank or other institution's IVR system. The victim is prompted (typically via a phishing e-mail) to call in to the "bank" via a (ideally toll free) number provided in order to "verify" information. A typical system will reject log-ins continually, ensuring the victim enters PINs or passwords multiple times, often disclosing several different passwords. More advanced systems transfer the victim to the attacker posing as a customer service agent for further questioning.
One could even record the typical commands ("Press one to change your password, press two to speak to customer service" ...) and play back the direction manually in real time, giving the appearance of being an IVR without the expense.
The technical name for phone phishing, is vishing.

Baiting

Baiting is like the real-world Trojan Horse that uses physical media and relies on the curiosity or greed of the victim.
In this attack, the attacker leaves a malware infected floppy disk, CD ROM, or USB flash drive in a location sure to be found (bathroom, elevator, sidewalk, parking lot), gives it a legitimate looking and curiosity-piquing label, and simply waits for the victim to use the device.
For example, an attacker might create a disk featuring a corporate logo, readily available off the target's web site, and write "Executive Salary Summary Q2 2009" on the front. The attacker would then leave the disk on the floor of an elevator or somewhere in the lobby of the targeted company. An unknowing employee might find it and subsequently insert the disk into a computer to satisfy their curiosity, or a good samaritan might find it and turn it in to the company.
In either case as a consequence of merely inserting the disk into a computer to see the contents, the user would unknowingly install malware on it, likely giving an attacker unfettered access to the victim's PC and perhaps, the targeted company's internal computer network.
Unless computer controls block the infection, PCs set to "auto-run" inserted media may be compromised as soon as a rogue disk is inserted.

Quid pro quo

Quid pro quo means something for something:
  • An attacker calls random numbers at a company claiming to be calling back from technical support. Eventually they will hit someone with a legitimate problem, grateful that someone is calling back to help them. The attacker will "help" solve the problem and in the process have the user type commands that give the attacker access or launch malware.
  • In a 2003 information security survey, 90% of office workers gave researchers what they claimed was their password in answer to a survey question in exchange for a cheap pen. Similar surveys in later years obtained similar results using chocolates and other cheap lures, although they made no attempt to validate the passwords.

Other types

Common confidence tricksters or fraudsters also could be considered "social engineers" in the wider sense, in that they deliberately deceive and manipulate people, exploiting human weaknesses to obtain personal benefit. They may, for example, use social engineering techniques as part of an IT fraud.
The latest type of social engineering techniques include spoofing or hacking IDs of people having popular e-mail IDs such as Yahoo!, GMail, Hotmail, etc. Among the many motivations for deception are:
  • Phishing credit-card account numbers and their passwords.
  • Hacking private e-mails and chat histories, and manipulating them by using common editing techniques before using them to extort money and creating distrust among individuals.
  • Hacking websites of companies or organizations and destroying their reputation.

Nov 20, 2009

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Remove and Add Right-Click Menu Items

How To Remove and Add Right-Click Menu Items from Files and Folders

REMOVING ITEMS

A lot of programs you install will add themselves to the right-click menu of your files and/or folders. And most times, you have no choice in the matter and, as a result, your right-Click menu can get very long with added items you don't even use. The last person I was helping with this had a right context menu so long that the Rename option was no longer visible!
Fortunately, you can easily remove those unwanted menu items, if you know the registry values to edit. And it's not at all difficult once you know the keys responsible for the additions.

For Files, the secret lies in the "context menu handlers" under the shellex subkey for "All Files" which, in the registry, is nothing but an asterisk - like a dos wildcard, which means the values entered apply to all files. It is at the very top of the Root key, right here:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers

Click the the + sign next to the ContextMenuHandlers key, to expand it.
Now you will see some of the programs that have added items to your right-click menu. Simply delete the program keys you don't want.
Yup! It's that simple. If deleting makes you uneasy, just export the key before deleting it. Or, instead of deleting the values, disable them. Simply double click the default value for the program on the right hand pane and rename the clsid value by placing a period or dash in front of it.
ie; - {b5eedee0-c06e-11cf-8c56-444553540000}
Then exit the registry, refresh, and right click a file to see if the item was removed from the menu.
Some programs - like WinZip or WinRar - will add several items to your right click menu but all of them will be removed by deleting or disabling their one context menu handler.

Note:- that the above key only applies to the right click menu of files.

To remove entries from the right click context menu of folders, you need to navigate to the Folder and Drive keys:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers

All you have to do is follow the same procedure as for Files - either disable or delete items you wish to remove.



Adding Items

Adding Items to the right click menu of Files and Folders is also fairly simple using the Registry. It just involves the creation of a few new keys for each item you wish to add. You edit the same keys used for removing items. Let's use Notepad as an example of an item you'd like to add to the right click menu of all your files or folders.

For folders, go to this key:
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder
Click the + sign next to Folder and expand it so that the Shell key is visible. Right click the Shell key and choose New>Key and name the key Notepad or whatever else you'd prefer (whatever the key is named is what will appear in the right-click menu). Now right click the new key you made and create another key named Command. Then, in the right hand pane, double click "Default" and enter Notepad.exe as the value.
Exit the registry, refresh, and right click any folder. Notepad should now be on the context menu.


For files, go here again:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*
Expand the * key and see if a Shell key exists. If it does exist, follow the same procedure as for folders. If it does not exist, you'll have to create a new Shell first. Just right click the * key and choose New>Key and name it Shell. Then right click the Shell key and continue on the same way you did for adding items to the right click menu of folders.
Once done, Notepad should appear as an option in the right click menu of all your files.

Firefox about:config Tweaks

The about:config page contains most (if not, all) of Firefox configuration options. It is so far the most effective, and the most powerful way to tweak and enhance your Firefox performance. Here are 28 of the popular tweaks.

Accessing your about:config page
In your Firefox, type about:config in the address bar.


You will be shown a warning page. Click the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button to proceed.



On the main page, you will see a long list of configuration entries. Enter the name of the key you want to update in the “Filter” field. The list will narrow to only the entries that match your keyword as you type.

To modify the value, simply double click on the entry value field and update the entry. That’s all!

Isn’t that simple? Now, let’s get to the tweaking.
1) Adjust the Smart Location Bar’s Number of Suggestions

In Firefox 3, when you start typing in the location bar, a drop-down list of suggestion URLs will be shown. If you want it to show more than 12 suggestions (12 is the default), you can adjust the browser.urlbar.maxRichResults keys and get it to show the number you want.



Config name: browser.urlbar.maxRichResults
Default: 12

Modified value: Set to your desired number of suggestion. If you want to disable it all together, set it to -1

2) Disable the session restore function
Firefox 3 automatically saves your session every 10 secs so that whenever it crashes, it can restore all your tabs. While this is a useful feature, some of you might find it irritating. To disable this function, toggle the value of browser.sessionstore.enabled to False
Config name: browser.sessionstore.enabled

Default: True
Modified value: False if you want to disable the session restore function

3) Adjust the Session Restore Saving Frequency
 
Same as above, if you decided to keep the session restore feature on, but want to reduce the session saving frequency, change the value of browser.sessionstore.interval so that Firefox will save the session at a longer interval.


Config name: browser.sessionstore.interval
Default: 10000 (in msecs, equivalent to 10secs)

Modified value: Set it to your desired value. 1000 means 1 sec and 60000 means 1 minute.


4) Enable Advanced Color Profile Support


Firefox has this advanced color profile features that display higher image quality. It is not enabled by default as it has a negative effect on the performance of the browser. If you are concern with the image quality rather than the performance, you can activated it via the gfx.color_management.enabled setting


Config name: gfx.color_management.enabled
Default: False

Modified value: True (if you want to activate the color profile support feature)


5) Disable Antivirus Scanning


This is mainly for Windows users. By default, Firefox 3 automatically scan the downloaded file with the default anti-virus application to make sure it is free of virus. If you download a big file, it could take a long time for the whole scanning process to complete. To increase the performance of the browser, you might want to consider disabling the anti-virus scanning via the browser.download.manager.scanWhenDone key.


Config name: browser.download.manager.scanWhenDone

Default: True

Modified value: False (if you want to disable it)


6) Configuring The Scrolling Tabs


When you opened many tabs, Firefox will not keep on reducing the tab width. Instead, it shows a scrolling bar so that the min width (100px) is conserved and you can scroll to find your tabs. If you are those who don’t like the scrolling tab function and prefer Firefox to show all the tabs, regardless how small it is, you can set the value ofbrowser.tabs.tabMinWidth to 0 to disable it. Similarly, if you want Firefox to display more tabs before showing the scrolling button, you can reduce the default value to a lower value, say 75 pixels.





Config name: browser.tabs.tabMinWidth
Default: 100

Modified value: 0 if you want to disable the scrolling functions, other values to set the min width value


7) Show/Disable Close button on Tabs


Some people love to see the Close (the red X) button on every tabs, but some hate it. Whatever is it, you can configure it to your preferences via thebrowser.tabs.closeButtons setting.





Config name: browser.tabs.closeButtons
Default: 1

Modified values:
0 - display a close button on the active tab only
1- display close buttons on all tabs
2- don’t display any close buttons
3- display a single close button at the end of the tab strip


Extend Scripts Execution Time


In Firefox 3, a script is only given 10 seconds to respond, after which it will issue a unresponsive script warning. If you are hooked on a slow network connection, you might want to increase the script execution time via dom.max_script_run_time to cut down on the frequency of the no script warning.


Config name: dom.max_script_run_time

Default:10 (in secs)

Modified value: 20, or any values greater than 10


9) Handling JavaScript Popups


When you come across a site that executes a javascript open new window function, and if the popup window is without all the usual window features, i.e. back/forward/reload buttons, status bar etc, Firefox will automatically treat it as a popup and will not open it as a new tab. However, if you find this to be a nuisance and wanted to open all new windows in a new tabs, you can specify it via thebrowser.link.open_newwindow.restriction setting.


Config name: browser.link.open_newwindow.restriction

Default: 2 - Open all JavaScript windows the same way as you have Firefox handle new windows unless the JavaScript call specifies how to display the window
Modified values:
0 – open all links as how you have Firefox handle new windows
1 – do not open any new windows
2- open all links as how you have Firefox handle new windows unless the Javascript specify how to display the window


10) Enable Spell Checking In All Text Fields


The default spell checking function only checks for multi-line text boxes. You can get it to spell-check for single line text box as well.


Config name: layout.spellcheckDefault

Default: 1 (spell checker for multi-lines text boxes only)

Modified values:
0 – disable the spell checker
2 – enable the spell checker for all text boxes


11) Open Search Box Results In New Tab


When you search using the search box at the top right hand corner of the browser, it will display the search results in the current tab. If you don’t want the search to interfere with your current tab, you can tweak the browser.search.openintab to make it open in a new tab.


Config Name: browser.search.openintab
Default: False

Modified value: True (open search box results in new tab)


12) Lower The Physical Memory Used When Minimized


This tweak is mainly for Windows users. When you minimize Firefox, it will send Firefox to your virtual memory and free up your physical memory for other programs to use. Firefox will reduce its physical memory usage, when minimized, to approximately 10MB (give or take some) and when you maximize Firefox it will take back the memory that it needs.


The preference name does not exist and needs to be created.


Right click on the background and select New->Boolean.


Enter the name when prompted: config.trim_on_minimize

Enter the values: True


13) Speed up your Firefox


Several tweaks required for this


Config name: network.http.pipelining

Default: False

Modified value: True


Config name: network.http.proxy.pipelining

Default: False

Modified value: True


Config name: network.http.pipelining.maxrequests
Default: 4

Modified value: any value higher than 4, but not more than 8


Config name: network.http.max-connections

Default: 30

Modified value: 96


Config name: network.http.max-connections-per-server

Default: 15

Modified value: 32


14) Increase/Decrease the Amount of Disk Cache


When a page is loaded, Firefox will cache it into the hard disk so that it doesn’t need to be download again for redisplaying. The bigger the storage size you cater for Firefox, the more pages it can cache.


Before you increase the disk cache size, make sure that browser.cache.disk.enabledbrowser.cache.disk.enable is set to True.


Config name: browser.cache.disk.capacity

Default: 50000 (in KB)

Modified value:
0 – disable disk caching
any value lower than 50000 reduces the disk cache
any value higher than 50000 increases the disk cache.


15) Select all text when click on the URL bar


In Windows and Mac, Firefox highlights all text when you click on the URL bar. In Linux, it does not select all the text. Instead, it places the cursor at the insertion point. Regardless which platform you are using, you can now tweak it to either select all or place cursor at insertion point.





Config name: browser.urlbar.clickSelectsAll

Modified value:
False – place cursor at insertion point
True – select all text on click


16) Autofill Address in URL Bar


Other than the smart location feature, you can also get your URL bar to autofill the address as you type the URL.





Config name: browser.urlbar.autofill

Default: False

Modified value: True (Have Firefox autofill the address as you type in the URL bar)


17) Same Zoom Level For Every Site


Firefox remembers your zoom preference for each site and set it to your preferences whenever you load the page. If you want the zoom level to be consistent from site to site, you can toggle the value of browser.zoom.siteSpecific from True to False.


Config name: browser.zoom.siteSpecific

Default: True

Modified value: False (enable same zoom preferences for every sites)


18) Setting your zoom limit


If you find that the max/min zoom level is still not sufficient for your viewing, you can change the zoom limit to suit your viewing habits.


Config name: zoom.maxPercent

Default: 300 (percent)

Modified value: any value higher than 300


Config name: zoom.minPercent

Default: 30 (percent)
value: any value


19) Configure Your Backspace Button


In Firefox, you can set your backspace to better use by getting it to either go back to theprevious page or act as page up function.


Config name: browser.backspace_action

Default: 2 (does nothing)

Modified value:
0 – go back previous page
1- page up


20) Increase Offline Cache


If you do not have access to Internet most of the time, you might want to increase the offline cache so that you can continue to work offline. By default, Firefox 3 caches 500MB of data from supported offline Web apps. You can change that value to whatever amount of your choice.


Config name: browser.cache.offline.capacity

Default: 512000 (in KB)

Modified value: any value higher than 512000 will increase the cache value


21) Auto Export Firefox 3 bookmarks to bookmarks.html


Unlike the previous version, Firefox 3 backup the bookmarks file in places.sqlite rather than the usual bookmarks.html. Since bookmarks.html allows us to export and sync our bookmarks with other browser, it will be very useful if Firefox 3 can backup the bookmark to the bookmarks.html as well.


Config name: browser.bookmarks.autoExportHTML

Default: False

Modified value: True (auto export bookmarks file to bookmarks.html)


22) Disable Extension Compatibility Checks


This is useful if you want to use an extension that is not supported by your version of Firefox badly. It is not recommended, but you can still do it at your own risk.


Right click and select New->Boolean. Enter extensions.checkCompatibility in the field. Enter False in the next field.


Right click again and select New->Boolean. Enter extensions.checkUpdateSecurity into the field and enter False into the next field.


23) Disable Delay Time When Installing Add-on


Everytime you wanted to install a Firefox add-on, you will have to wait for several secs before the actual installation starts. If you are tired of waiting, you can turn the functionsecurity.dialog_enable_delay off so that the installation will start immediately upon clicking.





Config name: security.dialog_enable_delay

Default: 2000 (in msec)

Modified value:
0 – start installation immediately
any other value (in msec)

24) View Source in Your Favorite Editor

This is very useful for developers who are always using the ‘view source‘ function. This tweak allows you to view the source code in an external editor.

There are two configuration need to be made:

Config name: view_source.editor.external

Default: False

Modified value: True ( enable view source using external text editor)

Config name: view_source.editor.path

Default: blank

Modified value: insert the file path to your editor here.


25) Increasing ‘Save Link As‘ timeout value

When you right click and select the ‘Save Link As…‘, the browser will request the content disposition header from the URL so as to determine the filename. If the URL did not deliver the header within 1 sec, Firefox will issue a timeout value. This could happen very frequently in a slow network connection environment. To prevent this issue from happening frequently, you can increase the timeout value so as to reduce the possibility of a timeout.


Config name: Browser.download.saveLinkAsFilenameTimeout

Default: 1000 (1 sec)

Modified value: any value higher than 1000 (value is in msec)

26) Animate Fullscreen Toolbar Collapse mode

In Firefox’s fullscreen mode, toolbars and the tab strip are hidden at the top of the screen and only shown on mouseover. To draw attention to this, there is an animation of the toolbar sliding upwards and off-screen when fullscreen mode is toggled on. For performance issue, the animation of the collapse of the toolbar only appear for the first time. For some reason that you may love/hate the animation, you can adjustBrowser.fullscreen.animateUp to switch it on/off for every collapse.


Config name: Browser.fullscreen.animateUp

Default: 1 (animate the toolbar collapse only the first time)

Modified value:
0 -disable the animation
2- enable the animation for every collapse


27) Autohide Toolbar in Fullscreen mode

In fullscreen mode, the toolbar is set to autohide and appear upon mouseover. If you have a need to view the toolbar at all time, you can toggle the value ofbrowser.fullscreen.autohide to False to always show the toolbar.

Config name: browser.fullscreen.autohide

Default: True (always autohide)

Modified value: False (always show the toolbar)

28) Increase Add-On search result

If you go to Tools->Add-ons->Get Add-ons and perform a search there, Firefox will only fetch and display 5 matching results. If you want Firefox to show more than 5 results (say 10), you can adjust extensions.getAddons.maxResults to get it to display more results.

Config name: extensions.getAddons.maxResults

Default: 5

Modified value: any value more than 5

Nov 17, 2009

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Top 100 infected sites

Symantec’s Web site ratings service Norton Safe Web presents the Dirtiest Web Sites of Summer 2009 – the top 100 infected sites based on number of threats detected by Norton Safe Web as of August 2009.
Norton Safe Web analyzes sites using signature-based file scanning, intrusion detection engines, behavioral detection and install/uninstall analysis to identify security risks including phishing sites, malicious downloads, browser exploits and links to unsafe external sites. In other words – dirty stuff you don’t want on your computer!
It comes as no surprise that 48% of the Dirtiest Web Sites are, well, dirty— sites that feature adult content. However, other Dirtiest sites run the gamut of subject matter, including sites dedicated to deer hunting, catering, figure skating, legal services, and buying electronics. Viruses are the most common threat represented on the Dirtiest list, followed by security risks and browser exploits. Simply clicking through to a site with these threats could put you at risk of exposing your computer to infection, and worse, put your identity, personal and financial information into the hands of cybercriminals.

Sample of Dirtiest Web Sites:

Nov 1, 2009

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Speed up Firefox

Firefox is already fast, but what if you could make it faster? Most internet users are already using a broadband connection for their internet access anyway, so why not enjoy the benefits of having an extremely fast internet connection by modifying Firefox’s config variables so you can enjoy a fast internet surfing experience with your Firefox Browser!
Here is how you can make Firefox even faster.

How To Speed Up Firefox

1.Type “about:config” into the address bar and hit enter.
FireFox Config
2. You will recieve the following funny error message from your Firefox Browser.


Scroll down and look for the following entries:
- network.http.pipelining
- network.http.proxy.pipelining
- network.http.pipelining.maxrequests
 Firefox Browser Tweaks
Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time.
When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.
2. Alter the entries as followed by double clicking them with your mouse pointer to switch it to true:
Set “network.http.pipelining” to “true”
Set “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to “true”
Set “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once.
Firefox Browser Tweaks
3. Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to “0″.

Firefox Tweaks

Firefox Tweaks
This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it recieves.
Now close your Firefox Browser and relaunch it, to save your changes.
If you’re using a broadband connection you’ll load pages MUCH faster now!

Source : http://www.pcwindowstips.com/2008/08/12/how-to-speed-up-firefox/#more-62

Restrict Right Click on the Desktop

Well, restricting right click on the desktop will be very useful to to prevent any one from changing options of your folders and applications by right clicking on them. you can do this easily form the registry. So to do so, just go through this simple steps:-

1. Go to Start menu and run the command prompt with Administrator rights.

2. Type regedit and press Enter. Now locate to the following folder:-

HKEY_CURRENT _USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer.

3. Once you reached to the folder, right click anywhere on the right side and create a new DWORD value. Name it as NoViewContextMenu.

4. Set the value 1 for this key by double clicking on it and press Ok.

5. Now make one more Dword value in the same registry key and name this key as NoTrayContextmenu. And set the value 1 for this key as well by double clicking on it and press Ok.

6. Now to disable the context menu for the Taskbar, locate to the following folder:- 

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced.

7. Right click in the right pane and create a new DWORD value as before and name it as TaskbarContextMenu. Put value for this key as 0.

8. Close the registry and you are done.

Making Heart , Arrow or TM trademark Symbol And Lot More


All you need to do is Hold down your "ALT" key and press another key on the keyboard to create a symbol. Here is a list of some you can make. Have Fun!


Alt + 0153..... trademark symbol

Alt + 0169.... copyright symbol

Alt + 0174..... registered trademark symbol

Alt + 0176 ... degree symbol

Alt + 0177 ... plus-or-minus sign

Alt + 0182 ... paragraph mark

Alt + 0190 ... fraction, three-fourths

Alt + 0215 .... multiplication sign

Alt + 0162... the cent sign

Alt + 0161..... upside down exclamation point

Alt + 0191..... upside down question mark

Alt + 1.......... smiley fsce

Alt + 2 ......... black smiley face

Alt + 15........ sun

Alt + 12........ female sign

Alt + 11....... male sign

Alt + 6......... spade sign

Alt + 5.......... Club symbol

Alt + 3.......... Heart

Alt + 4.......... Diamond

Alt + 13........ eighth note

Alt + 14........ beamed eighth note

Alt + 8721.... N-ary summation (auto sum)

Alt + 251...... square root check mark

Alt + 8236..... infinity

Alt + 24........ up arrow

Alt + 25........ down arrow

Alt + 26........ right pointing arrow

Alt + 27........ left arrow

Alt + 18........ up/down arrow

Alt + 29........ left right arrow

Oct 31, 2009

5 comments

Read Popular Magazines on your Desktop for Free

This is a very simple trick to help you read the latest issue of popular magazines.
Best of all, these digital magazines are exact replicas of print and served as high-resolution images that you can also download on to the computer for offline reading.

There are magazines like: PC Magazine, MIT Technology Review, Popular Mechanics, MacWorld, Lonely Planet, Reader's Digest, Playboy or Penthouse.

1. You will need firefox

2. Download this plugin (User agent switcher):
Code:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/59
3. Then go to Tools -> User Agent Switcher -> Options. and add new user agent using the following details:

Code:
Description: iPhone
User Agent: Mobile Safari 1.1.3 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en)
App Name: AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko)
App Version: Version/3.0
Platform: Mobile/1A542a Safari/419.3
4. Now choose the iPhone user agent:
Tools -> User Agent Switcher -> iPhone

5. Now enjoy the reading:
Code:
http://imgs.zinio.com/iphone/
Enjoy!

Know All File Format Extensions

Need to Know the Full Format for Extension of a file ?

ABK
Corel Draw AutoBackup
ACL
Corel Draw 6 keyboard accelerator
ACM
Used by Windows in the system directory
ACP
Microsoft Office Assistant Preview file
ACT
Microsoft Office Assistant Actor file
ACV
OS/2 drivers that compress and decompress audio data
AD
After Dark screensaver
ADB
Appointment database used by HP 100LX organizer
ADD
OS/2 adapter drivers used in the boot process
ADM
After Dark MultiModule screensaver
ADP
Used by FaxWorks to do setup for fax modem interaction
ADR
After Dark Randomizer screensaver
AFM
Adobe font metrics
AF2
ABC Flowchart file
AF3
ABC Flowchart file
AI
Adobe Illustrator drawing
AIF
Apple Mac AIFF sound
ALB
JASC Image Commander album
ALL
Arts & Letters Library
AMS
Velvert Studio music module (MOD) file
ANC
Canon Computer Pattern Maker file that is a selectable list of pattern colors
ANI
Animated Cursor
ANS
ANSI text
API
Application Program Interface file; used by Adobe Acrobat
APR
Lotus Approach 97 file

..........................................


http://www.ace.net.nz/tech/TechFileFormat.html

How Google Works

iw                        Google runs on a distributed network of thousands of low-cost computers and can therefore carry out fast parallel processing. Parallel processing is a method of computation in which many calculations can be performed simultaneously, significantly speeding up data processing. Google has three distinct parts:
  • Googlebot, a web crawler that finds and fetches web pages.
  • The indexer that sorts every word on every page and stores the resulting index of words in a huge database.
  • The query processor, which compares your search query to the index and recommends the documents that it considers most relevant.

1. Googlebot, Google’s Web Crawler

                          Googlebot is Google’s web crawling robot, which finds and retrieves pages on the web and hands them off to the Google indexer. It’s easy to imagine Googlebot as a little spider scurrying across the strands of cyberspace, but in reality Googlebot doesn’t traverse the web at all. It functions much like your web browser, by sending a request to a web server for a web page, downloading the entire page, then handing it off to Google’s indexer.

                           Googlebot consists of many computers requesting and fetching pages much more quickly than you can with your web browser. In fact, Googlebot can request thousands of different pages simultaneously. To avoid overwhelming web servers, or crowding out requests from human users, Googlebot deliberately makes requests of each individual web server more slowly than it’s capable of doing.
Googlebot finds pages in two ways: through an add URL form, www.google.com/addurl.html, and through finding links by crawling the web.

Screen shot of web page for adding a URL to Google.

                                          Unfortunately, spammers figured out how to create automated bots that bombarded the add URL form with millions of URLs pointing to commercial propaganda. Google rejects those URLs submitted through its Add URL form that it suspects are trying to deceive users by employing tactics such as including hidden text or links on a page, stuffing a page with irrelevant words, cloaking (aka bait and switch), using sneaky redirects, creating doorways, domains, or sub-domains with substantially similar content, sending automated queries to Google, and linking to bad neighbors. So now the Add URL form also has a test: it displays some squiggly letters designed to fool automated “letter-guessers”; it asks you to enter the letters you see — something like an eye-chart test to stop spambots.

                                         When Googlebot fetches a page, it culls all the links appearing on the page and adds them to a queue for subsequent crawling. Googlebot tends to encounter little spam because most web authors link only to what they believe are high-quality pages. By harvesting links from every page it encounters, Googlebot can quickly build a list of links that can cover broad reaches of the web. This technique, known as deep crawling, also allows Googlebot to probe deep within individual sites. Because of their massive scale, deep crawls can reach almost every page in the web. Because the web is vast, this can take some time, so some pages may be crawled only once a month.

                                      Although its function is simple, Googlebot must be programmed to handle several challenges. First, since Googlebot sends out simultaneous requests for thousands of pages, the queue of “visit soon” URLs must be constantly examined and compared with URLs already in Google’s index. Duplicates in the queue must be eliminated to prevent Googlebot from fetching the same page again. Googlebot must determine how often to revisit a page. On the one hand, it’s a waste of resources to re-index an unchanged page. On the other hand, Google wants to re-index changed pages to deliver up-to-date results.

                                       To keep the index current, Google continuously recrawls popular frequently changing web pages at a rate roughly proportional to how often the pages change. Such crawls keep an index current and are known as fresh crawls. Newspaper pages are downloaded daily, pages with stock quotes are downloaded much more frequently. Of course, fresh crawls return fewer pages than the deep crawl. The combination of the two types of crawls allows Google to both make efficient use of its resources and keep its index reasonably current.

2. Google’s Indexer

                  Googlebot gives the indexer the full text of the pages it finds. These pages are stored in Google’s index database. This index is sorted alphabetically by search term, with each index entry storing a list of documents in which the term appears and the location within the text where it occurs. This data structure allows rapid access to documents that contain user query terms.

                  To improve search performance, Google ignores (doesn’t index) common words called stop words (such as the, is, on, or, of, how, why, as well as certain single digits and single letters). Stop words are so common that they do little to narrow a search, and therefore they can safely be discarded. The indexer also ignores some punctuation and multiple spaces, as well as converting all letters to lowercase, to improve Google’s performance.

3. Google’s Query Processor

The query processor has several parts, including the user interface (search box), the “engine” that evaluates queries and matches them to relevant documents, and the results formatter.
PageRank is Google’s system for ranking web pages. A page with a higher PageRank is deemed more important and is more likely to be listed above a page with a lower PageRank.
Google considers over a hundred factors in computing a PageRank and determining which documents are most relevant to a query, including the popularity of the page, the position and size of the search terms within the page, and the proximity of the search terms to one another on the page. A patent application discusses other factors that Google considers when ranking a page. Visit SEOmoz.org’s report for an interpretation of the concepts and the practical applications contained in Google’s patent application.

Google also applies machine-learning techniques to improve its performance automatically by learning relationships and associations within the stored data. For example, the spelling-correcting system uses such techniques to figure out likely alternative spellings. Google closely guards the formulas it uses to calculate relevance; they’re tweaked to improve quality and performance, and to outwit the latest devious techniques used by spammers.

Indexing the full text of the web allows Google to go beyond simply matching single search terms. Google gives more priority to pages that have search terms near each other and in the same order as the query. Google can also match multi-word phrases and sentences. Since Google indexes HTML code in addition to the text on the page, users can restrict searches on the basis of where query words appear, e.g., in the title, in the URL, in the body, and in links to the page, options offered by Google’s Advanced Search Form and Using Search Operators (Advanced Operators).

Let’s see how Google processes a query.
1. The web server sends the query to the index        servers. The content inside the index servers is similar        to the index in the back of a book--it tells which pages        contain the words that match any particular query       term.          2. The query travels to the doc servers, which   actually retrieve the stored documents. Snippets are    generated to describe each search result.       3. The search results are returned to the user          in a fraction of a second.

What is OverClocking: Tutorial

What is Overclocking?
Most people know that overclocking means to run a particular piece of computer equipment at a higher speed than it was intended to run at. But how and why is that possible?

Let's say that you have a 2.0ghz processor and you overclock it to 2.5ghz. Why didn't the maker sell it as a 2.5ghz chip? Wouldn't they make more money? The answer is that they have to sell the chips at the lowest common speed for the whole set. Every chip that's sold as a particular speed needs to be able to run at that speed on the lowest quality equipment. The makers can't guarantee what quality components the chip will run with, and therefore they have to make sure it will run with anything. This is where overclocking comes in. An overclocker will use the quality "headroom" to run the chip faster than it's intended to run. And with quality componets, this is not only possible, but also can be very rewarding.

Processor Terminology:
When someone describes the speed of their processor, they will generally use two terms: FSB/HTT and Multiplier. So what do these mean?

FSB/HTT:
FSB stands for Front Side Bus, and refers to the speed at which your processor can talk to your memory. In the AMD world, this is also referred to as HTT, which stands for Hyper-Transport Technology. This is the easiest and most common speed to adjust for overclocking. This speed setting is limited only by the motherboard, which will have a maximum selection. However, any decent overclocking motherboard should allow you to set this speed much higher than will ever be practical. If there were a single "one stop shop" for overclocking settings, this would probably be it.

FSB can be tricky with DDR memory though. DDR stands for Double Data Rate because the data uses both rising and falling edges of the clock pulses, but that's another lesson entirely. The important word is "double". DDR 400 memory actually runs at a FSB of 200 in the motherboard settings, but because it's -double- data rate, it is actually rated at 400. This very same memory can also be rated as PC3200. That means that the memory will move 3.2gb of data per second at stock speeds. The 400 and the 3200 are pretty meaningless when dealing with overclocking, however. The important part is that it will run at a FSB/HTT of 200.

Multiplier:
So now we understand the speed at which the processor talks to the memory, but how fast does it do its internal calculations? How fast does it run all by itself? The multiplier tells us this. If the front side bus is 200 and the multiplier is 10x, then we know that the processor runs at 200 x 10 = 2000mhz or 2ghz. The multiplier is a way of describing the internal speed in relation to the FSB. So taking the multiplier and multiplying it by the FSB speed will give you the actual speed of the processor.

The multiplier setting is used to overclock the chip, but not nearly as frequently as the FSB setting. The reason for this is that most newer chips have what is referred to as a "locked multiplier", which means that it cannot be set to other settings. Sometimes, this means that the setting cannot be changed at all, but more often it means that it can be set lower than stock, but not higher. Typically, if the multiplier is 10x (for example), then it can be set to 9x or 8x, but not 11x or 12x.

Voltages:
In almost every case, a chip will need more voltage than it gets at stock in order to reach is maximum overclock. But what are the different voltage settings and what do they mean? The two most common voltages that you will deal with are vCore and vDimm.

vCore is the voltage of the processor itself. This is the voltage you will use to control the chip. As overclocks become unstable, you can use this setting to increase the processor voltage and make the chip more stable.

vDimm is the voltage of the memory. This is not used quite as often, but is still important to understand. The memory can (and usually will) be overclocked as well, and vDimm can be used to increase stability in ram just as vCore can be used for processors.

Limiting Factors:
OK, so let's be honest. That 2.0ghz chip of yours just isn't going to reach 5.0ghz. We know it. But why? What are the factors that will hold a chip back? There are three main factors that will limit maximum speed of your chip. The most obvious of these is what most people call the "ceiling". No matter how good the chip is, at some point it will simply reach the fastest speed that it's capable of. The other two factors are more in depth, however.

Heat - Heat is usually the biggest factor in a chip's performance. Higher speeds and more voltage makes more heat in the chip. And more heat in the chip can lead to failures or instability and can even lead to permanant damage if not fixed early. This is why adaquite cooling is a MUST for overclocking. This is also why it is important to monitor your system, but more on that later. Sometimes, you could know that your chip is capable of faster speeds, but it will run too hot and therefore will be limited in its speed.

Voltage - Increasing voltage can make an unstable processor stable, but it's more complex than that. Processors are not meant to run higher voltages than stock, and can be damaged by too much voltage even if heat is managed properly. Just like with heat, a processor could reach a point where it can go higher but it might be at a voltage that isn't safe and therefore isn't recommended.

Dividers:
In my opinion, memory dividers are under-rated in the overclocking world. A lot of times, an overclocked system will reach an instability or fail point, and it will not be clear whether the processor or the memory has failed. For this reason, people are always looking to test one part individually. A memory divider can let you do this.

Memory dividers allow you to run the memory at a slower speed than the chip. So, for example, you could run your chip's FSB at 250mhz, but run the memory at 208mhz. This is done using a 5:6 memory divider. (250 * 5/6 = 208) By doing this, you can slow your memory down to stable speeds and only overclock the processor. This allows you to attribute any instability directly to the processor, rather than having to guess what is causing it.

Slower memory speeds are often undesirable for a system, since they slow the memory down, but they can be used for two reasons. First is for testing, as mentioned above. By slowing the memory down to stock speeds or lower, you can be sure that the memory is not causing overclocking failures. The other reason to do this is that some processors simply can't support memory speeds that high. By slowing the memory down, some chips can actually overclock much further, so even though the memory is slower, the system as a whole will run faster.

Memory dividers can also be referred to as "max memory speeds". A 5:6 memory divider may be referred to as 166 max memory speed, since 5/6 * 200 = 166. Another example would be a 1:2 divider and a 100 max memory.

Monitoring:
As mentioned previously, it is highly recommended that an overclocked system be monitored in many ways. Many software packages monitor things like temperatures, voltages, fan speeds, clock speeds, memory settings, etc. Monitoring these readouts allows you to find and solve problems before they become serious. If you don't watch these readouts, you may not discover a problem until it is too late and damage has been done. Here is a list of some of the most popular programs:

CPU-Z
This program is probably the most widely accepted speed monitor out there. It can tell you all the pertinant information about your processor, including speeds, FSB, Multiplier, voltages, memory speeds, memory settings, and much more. This is basically a "must have" program for overclocking.

Motherboard Monitor 5 (MBM)
This is a widely used program which is generally targetted at monitoring temperatures, but can also be configured to show things like voltages and fan speeds. By default, the program will display the case and processor temperatures in your system tray. The program is somewhat "out of date" and doesn't support many new motherboards without modification, but is still widely accepted as a standard.

ITE Smart Guardian
This program has different versions for different motherboards, so make sure you download the appropriate one. For this reason, there is no link. The program monitors temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages. It is regularly used on newer motherboards in place of MBM5.

SpeedFan
This is very similar to ITE Smart Guardian in that it monitors temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages, but it can also be used to change fan speeds at the software level.

[u]Everest[/u]This program can be used to access temperature, fan, and voltage info much like the others listed above, but its real value is in the ability to get TONS of useful information about your computer. It can tell you pretty much anything you want to know about your PC, statistically speaking. I have found this program useful for varifying the BIOS version of my motherboard, though there are MANY other uses for it.

Stability Testing:
Overclocking is fun and beneficial, but can also cause major problems with your PC. A computer that is improperly overclocked can cause crashes, reboots, power-downs, data corruption, and eventually even permanant hardware damage. Again, it is important to diagnose these failures early on so that they don't escalate to bigger problems. This is why ANY good overclocker will have a toolbelt full of stress/stability tests to check their system with. An overclocked PC does you no good if it's not stable. Running games faster does you no good if they crash at random. Overclocking needs to be kept in check with stability testing whenever settings are changed. Different people will have different definitions of "true stability", but all overclockers should know how to test for it. Here is a list of commonly used stress test programs:

Prime 95
This is a distributed computing project, but can also be used strictly for stability testing. As with most programs, it uses strenuous math calculations to see if your processor ever produces failures (wrong answers). If there were a single universal "final stability test", Prime 95 could arguably take that title. It is widely accepted and very reliable.

OCCTThis project is no longer being continued, but the tool is still incredibly useful. OCCT has two modes: A standard stability test and a torture test. The standard test runs for 30min and is a very good stability indicator. After the 30min test completes, it shows graphs of temperatures and voltages which is a feature that is not really found in other programs, and is very useful. The torture test simply runs until stopped and reports any instability, much like Prime 95.
New version link added. This now supports multi-core stability testing.

SuperPi
SuperPI is actually a benchmark program, and gets its name from the calculations of Pi digits that it performs. SuperPI speeds are a good indicator of a processor's speed, but the tests will also report instabilities as they occur. This program can run very quick stability tests that are surprisingly accurate given their speed. This is another "must have" in my opinion.

MemTest86
This test is used to test just your memory, as the name implies. It can either be booted from a floppy disk or a CD-ROM. Once it is booted and running, it runs multiple test patterns on your memory until it is stopped, and reports errors as they happen. This test is very good for testing the memory alone, and helps to confirm that your memory will run at the speed and voltage you have set.

Overclocking Process
Overclocking is an art. Juggling the various settings can seem overwhelming initially, and it's often difficult to fight the urge to raise an overclock quickly. It is very important to be patient and take baby steps while making adjustments.

In general, the overclocking procedure is -
1. Increase the external clock speed by a small amount.
2. Exit BIOS and boot to operating system.
3. Test for stability and monitor temperatures.
4. Return to BIOS, tweak settings, and repeat process.
In greater detail -

1) Baby steps - Increase the external clock speed in small increments. "Small" is relative to the stock speed of the system, though 3-5 MHz is common for Pentiums while 5-10 MHz is common for newer CPUs. These numbers can be responsibly tweaked for a variety of reasons including personal experience and knowledge that a particular CPU stepping/week/batch is a good/bad overclocker. The steps can also be larger early in the overclocking process and smaller as the system gets closer to its limits. The important thing is to not take too large of a step as too many other variables can change if large jumps are made.

2) Boot up - Be sure to save your settings before rebooting. Some motherboards offer overclocking profiles, which can save settings after a CMOS reset or even a BIOS flash. Unsuccessful boots are not uncommon. Either return to step 1 and lower the external clock speed or jump to step 4 for other tweaks.

3) Stability testing -
There are a variety of stability testing programs available, and they should be employed frequently during the course of overclocking. The extent of stability testing is up to individual preference, and there are a wide variety of philosophies concerning testing. It is generally a good idea to do at least a brief test at every step with a more thorough test every few steps.test with the softwares as mentioned in the earlier post.

4) Return to BIOS and tweak - If stability testing was successful, return to step 1 and further increase the external clock speed. If the system booted but did not test stable, there are several settings which may help. They include -
• Adjust vcore - Increase the vcore one notch and repeat the testing. If more than two notches are required, try adjusting another setting.
• Adjust RAM timings and vdimm - If a bit of vcore doesn't do the trick or Memtest86 identified the RAM as the source of instability, tweak the RAM settings. Loosening RAM timings and/or increasing vdimm may address this issue. Be aware that excessive vdimm will void most manufacturers' warranties.
• Adjust Northbridge voltage - Higher frequencies require additional voltage to the NB. In general, this setting only goes up a few notches from stock speed to extreme overclocks. Stock Northbridge coolers may not be able to handle additional voltage, so it may be necessary to invest in aftermarket cooling.
As with increasing the clock speed, it is important to change these settings in small steps, reboot, and test for stability.

Maximizing the Overclock on a System

One way to simplify overclocking is to initially take the RAM out of the equation. Select a divider such that the RAM does not exceed stock speeds; this permits attention to be focused on the CPU and motherboard. Once the maximum overclock of those two components is found, manipulate the divider to determine the optimal frequency for the RAM. Be sure to use Memtest86 to test RAM stability. A few complete passes with that software is generally a good indication of stability.

Manipulating the CPU multiplier can lead to better performance on systems that support that feature. First, find the maximum CPU frequency as described above with the stock multiplier. Then, determine other combinations of external clock speed and multiplier that equate to the same CPU frequency. Using the example from item number 6, above, that CPU could equally handle 400x9 and 450x8. If the RAM and motherboard could safely handle the higher frequencies, the lower multiplier would most likely produce the best performance. Trial and error plays into this equation as well, due to the complexities of modern systems. It is important to benchmark a system with appropriate applications (e.g. using gaming benchmarks for a gaming system, productivity benchmarks for an office system, etc.) to see which combination of settings provide the best performance. Remember that each set of components is unique, and that the goal of overclocking is performance not any specified settings.

Great 50 Tweaks for Windows 7

They said Windows 7 was just a cosmetic upgrade, a more polished version of Vista with little to offer beyond the new wallpaper.

They couldn't have been more wrong.

Look beyond the headlines about interface tweaks and you'll find Windows 7 is crammed with lesser known, but still important, new and enhanced features, which taken together deliver improved performance and productivity, better troubleshooting, stronger security and a whole lot more.

Read on for 50 ways in which Windows 7 will make a real difference to your PC.

1. Problem Steps Recorder
As the local PC guru you're probably very used to friends and family asking for help with their computer problems, yet having no idea how to clearly describe what's going on. It's frustrating, but Microsoft feels your pain, and Windows 7 will include an excellent new solution in the Problem Steps Recorder.

When any app starts misbehaving under Windows 7 then all your friends need do is click Start, type PSR and press [Enter], then click Start Record. If they then work through whatever they're doing then the Problem Steps Recorder will record every click and keypress, take screen grabs, and package everything up into a single zipped MHTML file when they're finished, ready for emailing to you. It's quick, easy and effective, and will save you hours of troubleshooting time.

2. Burn images
Windows 7 finally introduces a feature that other operating systems have had for years - the ability to burn ISO images to CDs or DVDs. And it couldn't be much easier to use. Just double-click the ISO image, choose the drive with the blank disc, click Burn and watch as your disc is created.

3. Create and mount VHD files
Microsoft's Virtual PC creates its virtual machine hard drives in VHD files, and Windows 7 can now mount these directly so you can access them in the host system. Click Start, type diskmgmt.msc and press [Enter], then click Action > Attach VHD and choose the file you'd like to mount. It will then appear as a virtual drive in Explorer and can be accessed, copied or written just like any other drive.

Click Action > Create VHD and you can now create a new virtual drive of your own (right-click it, select Initialise Disk, and after it's set up right-click the unallocated space and select New Simple Volume to set this up). Again, you'll be left with a virtual drive that behaves just like any other, where you can drag and drop files, install programs, test partitioning software or do whatever you like. But it's actually just this VHD file on your real hard drive which you can easily back up or share with others. Right-click the disk (that's the left-hand label that says "Disk 2" or whatever) and select Detach VHD to remove it.

The command line DISKPART utility has also been upgraded with tools to detach a VHD file, and an EXPAND command to increase a virtual disk's maximum size. Don't play around with this unless you know what you're doing, though - it's all too easy to trash your system.

4. Troubleshoot problems
If some part of Windows 7 is behaving strangely, and you don't know why, then click Control Panel > Find and fix problems (or 'Troubleshooting') to access the new troubleshooting packs. These are simple wizards that will resolve common problems, check your settings, clean up your system and more.

5. Startup repair
Windows 7 is more reliable than we'd expect from a beta, but you still might run into problems, and the worst might stop it from booting. Even into Safe Mode. And that's very bad news if you downloaded Windows 7, as you've no CD or DVD to use for re-installation. Which is why you need to click Start > Maintenance > Create a System Repair Disc, right now, and let Windows 7 build a bootable emergency disc. If the worst does happen then it could be the only way to get your PC running again.

6. Take control
Tired of the kids installing dubious software or running applications you'd rather they left alone? AppLocker is a new Windows 7 feature that ensures users can only run the programs you specify. Don't worry, that's easier to set up than it sounds: you can create a rule to allow everything signed by a particular publisher, so choose Microsoft, say, and that one rule will let you run all signed Microsoft applications. Launch GPEDIT.MSC and go to Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Application Control Policies > AppLocker to get a feel for how this works.

7. Calculate more
At first glance the Windows 7 calculator looks just like Vista's version, but explore the Mode menu and you'll see powerful new Statistics and Programmer views. And if you're clueless about bitwise manipulation, then try the Options menu instead. This offers many different unit conversions (length, weight, volume and more), date calculations (how many days between two dates?), and spreadsheet-type templates to help you calculate vehicle mileage, mortgage rates and more.

Don't take any Windows 7 applet at face value, then - there are some very powerful new features hidden in the background. Be sure to explore every option in all Windows applets to ensure you don't miss anything important.

8. Switch to a projector
Windows 7 now provides a standard way to switch your display from one monitor to another, or a projector - just press Win+P or run DisplaySwitch.exe and choose your preferred display. (This will have no effect if you've only one display connected.)

9. Automatic PC clean up
If inexperienced PC users sometimes access your system then you'll know that, well, this can cause problems. Leave them alone for too long and they'll mess up your settings, install dubious programs, delete important files and cause all kinds of havoc. But Microsoft feels your pain, and Windows 7 will include a possible solution: PC Safeguard. This lets your less technical users log on, play games, use the browser or chat on an instant messenger, say, just as normal. But when they log off, any settings they've changed are undone, and any files they've saved are deleted. Which means it's much more difficult to mess up your PC.

This isn't a new technology. Microsoft have made their Shared Computer Toolkit (aka Windows SteadyState) freely available for years, and this does exactly the same thing (it's more configurable, too). This is the first time it's been fully integrated with Windows, though, which makes it much easier to use.

To give PC Safeguard a try, go to Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Manage another account > Create a new account. Enter an account name, click Create, then click the account, select Set Up PC Safeguard > Turn on PC Safeguard > Apply. Log on as that user, try downloading and installing a program, then restart and log on again to confirm that the software has gone.

10. Understanding System Restore
Using System Restore in previous versions of Windows has been something of a gamble. There's no way of telling which applications or drivers it might affect - you just have to try it and see.

Windows 7 is different. Right-click Computer, select Properties > System Protection > System Restore > Next, and choose the restore point you'd like to use. Click the new button to 'Scan for affected programs' and Windows will tell you which (if any) programs and drivers will be deleted or recovered by selecting this restore point.

11. Set the time zone
System administrators will appreciate the new command line tzutil.exe utility, which lets you set a PC's time zone from scripts. If you wanted to set a PC to Greenwich Mean Time, for instance, you'd use the command

tzutil /s "gmt standard time"

The command "tzutil /g" displays the current time zone, "tzutil /l" lists all possible time zones, and "tzutil /?" displays details on how the command works.

12. Calibrate your screen
The colours you see on your screen will vary depending on your monitor, graphics cards settings, lighting and more, yet most people use the same default Windows colour profile. And that means a digital photo you think looks perfect might appear very poor to everybody else. Fortunately Windows 7 now provides a Display Colour Calibration Wizard that helps you properly set up your brightness, contrast and colour settings, and a ClearType tuner to ensure text is crisp and sharp. Click Start, type DCCW and press [Enter] to give it a try.

Windows 7 Interface Tweaks

13. Right-click everything
At first glance Windows 7 bears a striking resemblance to Vista, but there's an easy way to begin spotting the differences - just right-click things.

Right-click an empty part of the desktop, for instance, and you'll find a menu entry to set your screen resolution. No need to go browsing through the display settings any more.

Right-click the Explorer icon on the taskbar for speedy access to common system folders: Documents, Pictures, the Windows folder, and more.

And if you don't plan on using Internet Explorer then you probably won't want its icon permanently displayed on the taskbar. Right-click the icon, select 'Unpin this program from the taskbar', then go install Firefox, instead.

14. Desktop slideshow
Windows 7 comes with some very attractive new wallpapers, and it's not always easy to decide which one you like the best. So why not let choose a few, and let Windows display them all in a desktop slideshow? Right-click an empty part of the desktop, select Personalise > Desktop Background, then hold down Ctrl as you click on the images you like. Choose how often you'd like the images to be changed (anything from daily to once every 10 seconds), select Shuffle if you'd like the backgrounds to appear in a random order, then click Save Changes and enjoy the show.

15. RSS-powered wallpaper
And if a slideshow based on your standard wallpaper isn't enough, then you can always create a theme that extracts images from an RSS feed. This isn't fully implemented in the beta yet, but Long Zheng has createda few sample themes to illustrate how it works. And Jamie Thompson takes this even further, with a theme that always displays the latest BBC news and weather on your desktop.

16. Recover screen space
The new Windows 7 taskbar acts as one big quick launch toolbar that can hold whatever program shortcuts you like (just right-click one and select Pin To Taskbar). And that's fine, except it does consume a little more screen real estate than we'd like. Shrink it to a more manageable size by right-clicking the Start orb, then Properties > Taskbar > Use small icons > OK.

17. Restore the Quick Launch Toolbar
If you're unhappy with the new taskbar, even after shrinking it, then it only takes a moment to restore the old Quick Launch Toolbar.

Right-click the taskbar, choose Toolbars > New Toolbar, type "%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch" (less the quotes) into the Folder box and click Select Folder.

Now right-click the taskbar, clear 'Lock the taskbar', and you should see the Quick Launch toolbar, probably to the right. Right-click its divider, clear Show Text and Show Title to minimise the space it takes up. Complete the job by right-clicking the bar and selecting View > Small Icons for the true retro look.

18. Custom power switch
By default, Windows 7 displays a plain text 'Shut down' button on the Start menu, but it only takes a moment to change this action to something else. If you reboot your PC a few times every day then that might make more sense as a default action: right-click the Start orb, select Properties and set the 'Power boot action' to 'Restart' to make it happen.

19. Auto arrange your desktop
If your Windows 7 desktop has icons scattered everywhere then you could right-click it and select View > Auto arrange, just as in Vista. But a simpler solution is just to press and hold down [F5], and Windows will automatically arrange its icons for you.

20. Disable smart window arrangement
Windows 7 features interesting new ways to intelligently arrange your windows, so that (for example) if you drag a window to the top of the screen then it will maximise. We like the new system, but if you find it distracting then it's easily disabled. Run REGEDIT, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, set WindowArrangementActive to 0, reboot, and your windows will behave just as they always did.

21. Remove 'Send Feedback'
Microsoft has released Windows 7 to get feedback from the public, so it's important to take advantage of that. If you don't like something, or have a good idea, then click Send Feedback and tell them what's on your mind. You really could make a difference. But once you've done all that then you might want to get rid of the Send Feedback links on your windows, and this is very easy to do. Just launch REGEDIT, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, set the FeedbackToolEnabled value to zero and restart your PC. (Set it to 3 if you'd like the Send Feedback links back again.)

22. Display your drives
Click Computer in Windows 7 and you might see a strange lack of drives, but don't panic, it's just Microsoft trying to be helpful: drives like memory card readers are no longer displayed if they're empty. We think it's an improvement, but if you disagree then it's easy to get your empty drives back. Launch Explorer, click Tools > Folder Options > View and clear 'Hide empty drives in the computer folder'.

23. See more detail
The new and improved Windows 7 magnifier offers a much easier way to zoom in on any area of the screen. Launch it and you can now define a scale factor and docking position, and once activated it can track your keyboard focus around the screen. Press [Tab] as you move around a dialog box, say, and it'll automatically zoom in on the currently active control.

Useful Windows 7 Enhancements

24. Protect your MP3 files
Along with many good new features, the Windows 7 beta also includes a nasty bug. Its version of Windows Media Player 12 will automatically add missing metadata, including album art, and this can overwrite the first few seconds of the file. Oops. Installing an update may fix this (see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/961367) but it would probably be a very good idea to back up your MP3 files, too.

25. Customise UAC
Windows Vista's User Account Control was a good idea in practice, but poor implementation put many people off - it raised far too many alerts. Fortunately Windows 7 displays less warnings by default, and lets you further fine-tune UAC to suit your preferred balance between security and a pop-up free life (Start > Control Panel > Change User Account Control Settings).

26. Use Sticky Notes
The Sticky Notes app is both simpler and more useful in Windows 7. Launch StikyNot.exe and you can type notes at the keyboard; right-click a note to change its colour; click the + sign on the note title bar to add another note; and click a note and press [Alt]+[4] to close the note windows (your notes will automatically be saved).

27. Open folder in new process
By default Windows 7 opens folders in the same process. This saves system resources, but means one folder crash can bring down the entire shell. If your system seems unstable, or you're doing something in Explorer that regularly seems to causes crashes, then open Computer, hold down shift, right-click on your drive and select Open in New Process. The folder will now be launched in a separate process, and so a crash is less likely to affect anything else.

28. Watch more videos
Windows Media Player 12 is a powerful program, but it still won't play all the audio and video files you'll find online. Fortunately the first freeware Windows 7 codecs package [shark007.net/win7codecs.html] has just been released, and installing it could get your troublesome multimedia files playing again.

29. Preview fonts
Open the Fonts window in Windows XP and Vista and you'll see the font names, probably with icons to tell you whether they're TrueType or OpenType, but that's about it. Feeble, really, but Windows 7 sees some useful font-related improvement.

Open the new fonts window and you'll find a little preview for every font, giving you a quick idea of how they're going to look.

The tedium of scrolling through multiple entries for each family, like Times New Roman, Times New Roman Bold, Times New Roman Bold Italic and so on, has finally ended. There's now just a single entry for each font (though you can still see all other members of the family).

And there's a new OpenType font, Gabriola, added to the mix. It's an attractive script font, well worth a try the next time you need a stylish document that stands out from the crowd.

30. Restore your gadgets
Windows 7 has tightened up its security by refusing to run gadgets if UAC has been turned off, so limiting the damage malicious unsigned gadgets can do to your system. If you've disabled UAC, miss your gadgets and are happy to accept the security risk, though, there's an easy Registry way to get everything back to normal. Run REGEDIT, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Sidebar\Settings, create a new DWORD value called AllowElevatedProcess and set it to 1. Your gadgets should start working again right away.

31. New WordPad formats
By default WordPad will save documents in Rich Text Format, just as before. But browse the Save As Format list and you'll see you can also save (or open, actually) files in the Office 2007 .docx or OpenDocument .odt formats.

32. Protect your data
USB flash drives are convenient, portable, and very easy to lose. Which is a problem, especially if they're carrying sensitive data. Fortunately Windows 7 has the solution: encrypt your documents with an extension of Microsoft's BitLocker technology, and only someone with the password will be able to access it. Right-click your USB flash drive, select Turn on BitLocker and follow the instructions to protect your private files.

33. Search everything
Windows 7 can now try to search the contents of just about any file type, useful if it's not currently finding the data you need. The problem? Searches can be much, much slower. If you'd like to try it anyway, then launch Explorer, click Tools > Folder Options > View and check "Try to search the content of unknown file types".

34. Configure your favourite music
The Windows 7 Media Centre now comes with an option to play your "favourite music", which by default creates a changing list of songs based on your ratings, how often you play them, and when they were added (it's assumed you'll prefer songs you've added in the last 30 days). If this doesn't work then you can tweak how Media Centre decides what a "favourite" tune is- click Tasks > Settings > Music > Favourite Music and configure the program to suit your needs.

35. Customise System Restore
There was very little you could do to configure System Restore in Vista, but Windows 7 improves the situation with a couple of useful setup options.

Click the Start orb, right-click Computer and select Properties > System Protection > Configure, and set the Max Usage value to a size that suits your needs (larger to hold more restore points, smaller to save disk space).

And if you don't need System Restore to save Windows settings then choose the "Only restore previous versions of files" option. Windows 7 won't back up your Registry, which means you'll squeeze more restore points and file backups into the available disk space. System Restore is much less likely to get an unbootable PC working again, though, so use this trick at your own risk.

36. Run As
Hold down shift, right-click any program shortcut, and you'll see an option to run the program as a different user, handy if you're logged in to the kids' limited account and need to run something with higher privileges. This isn't really a new feature - Windows XP had a Run As option that did the same thing - but Microsoft stripped it out of Vista, so it's good to see they've had a change of heart.

37. Search privacy
By default Windows 7 will remember your PC search queries, and display the most recent examples when searching in Windows Explorer. If you're sharing a PC and don't want everyone to see your searches, then launch GPEDIT.MSC, go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Explorer, double-click "Turn off display of recent search entries..." and click Enabled > OK.

38. Tweak PC volume
By default Windows 7 will now automatically reduce the volume of your PC's sounds whenever it detects you're making or receiving PC-based phone calls. If this proves annoying (or maybe you'd like it to turn off other sounds altogether) then you can easily change the settings accordingly. Just right-click the speaker icon in your taskbar, select Sounds > Communications, and tell Windows what you'd like it to do.

Windows 7 Performance and Productivity Tips

39. Find bottlenecks
From what we've seen so far Windows 7 is already performing better than Vista, but if your PC seems sluggish then it's now much easier to uncover the bottleneck. Click Start, type RESMON and press [Enter] to launch the Resource Monitor, then click the CPU, Memory, Disk or Network tabs. Windows 7 will immediately show which processes are hogging the most system resources.

The CPU view is particularly useful, and provides something like a more powerful version of Task Manager. If a program has locked up, for example, then right-click its name in the list and select Analyze Process. Windows will then try to tell you why it's hanging - the program might be waiting for another process, perhaps - which could give you the information you need to fix the problem.

40. Keyboard shortcuts
Windows 7 supports several useful new keyboard shortcuts.

Alt+P
Display/ hide the Explorer preview pane

Windows Logo+G
Display gadgets in front of other windows

Windows Logo++ (plus key)
Zoom in, where appropriate

Windows Logo+- (minus key)
Zoom out, where appropriate

Windows Logo+Up Arrow
Maximise the current window

Windows Logo+Down Arrow
Minimise/restore the current window

Windows Logo+Left Arrow
Snap to the left hand side of the screen

Windows Logo+Right Arrow
Snap to the right hand side of the screen

Windows Logo+Home
Minimise/ restore everything except the current window

Windows Logo+Space
See through to desktop (AeroPeek)

Windows Logo+Shift+Left+Right Arrow
Move the window to the adjacent monitor (for dual-monitor setups)

Windows Logo+T
Focus and scroll through items on the Taskbar

Windows Logo+P
Adjust presentation settings for your display

Shift+Click a taskbar item
Open a new instance of that application

41. Faster program launches
If you've launched one instance of a program but want to start another, then don't work your way back through the Start menu. It's much quicker to just hold down Shift and click on the program's icon (or middle-click it), and Windows 7 will start a new instance for you.

42. Speedy video access
Want faster access to your Videos folder? Windows 7 now lets you add it to the Start menu. Just right-click the Start orb, click Properties > Start Menu > Customize, and set the Videos option to "Display as a link". If you've a TV tuner that works with Windows 7 then you'll appreciate the new option to display the Recorded TV folder on the Start menu, too.

43. Run web searches
The Windows 7 search tool can now be easily extended to search online resources, just as long as someone creates an appropriate search connector. To add Flickr support, say, visit I Started Something, click Download the Connector, choose the Open option and watch as it's downloaded (the file is tiny, it'll only take a moment). A "Flickr Search" option will be added to your Searches folder, and you'll be able to search images from your desktop.

44. Schedule Media Centre downloads
You can now tell Windows Media Centre to download data at a specific time, perhaps overnight, a useful way to prevent it sapping your bandwidth for the rest of the day. Launch Media Centre, go to Tasks > Settings > General > Automatic Download Options, and set the download start and stop times that you'd like it to use.

45. Multi-threaded Robocopies
Anyone who's ever used the excellent command-line robocopy tool will appreciate the new switches introduced with Windows 7. Our favourite, /MT, can improve speed by carrying out multi-threaded copies with the number of threads you specify (you can have up to 128, though that might be going a little too far). Enter robocopy /? at a command line for the full details.

46. Really remove the sidebar
At first glance you might think Windows 7 has got rid of the sidebar, but don't be fooled. Gadgets are still hosted by the Sidebar.exe process, it's just that this is now launched automatically when Windows boots. If you don't plan on ever using gadgets then you could delete the Sidebar Registry entry at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run, and recover a small amount of RAM. That might be a little risky, though, as we're not quite sure what else the sidebar process does in Windows 7. The safest approach is to disable it temporarily by launching MSCONFIG.EXE, clicking the Startup tab and clearing the box next to the Startup entry. Now reboot and test Windows 7 for a day or two to confirm everything is still working, before finally deleting the sidebar Registry entry.

47. Load IE faster
Some Internet Explorer add-ons can take a while to start, dragging down the browser's performance, but at least IE8 can now point a finger at the worst resource hogs. Click Tools > Manage Add-ons, check the Load Time in the right-hand column, and you'll immediately see which browser extensions are slowing you down.

48. An Alt+Tab alternative
You want to access one of the five Explorer windows you have open, but there are so many other programs running that Alt+Tab makes it hard to pick out what you need. The solution? Hold down the Ctrl key while you click on the Explorer icon. Windows 7 will then cycle through the Explorer windows only, a much quicker way to locate the right one. (And of course this works with any application that has multiple windows open.)

49. Block annoying alerts
Just like Vista, Windows 7 will display a suitably stern warning if it thinks your antivirus, firewall or other security settings are incorrect.

But unlike Vista, if you disagree then you can now turn off alerts on individual topics. If you no longer want to see warnings just because you've dared to turn off the Windows firewall, say, then click Control Panel > System and Security > Action Centre > Change Action Centre settings, clear the Network Firewall box and click OK.

50. Parallel defrags
The standard Windows 7 defragger offers a little more control than we saw in Vista, and the command line version also has some interesting new features. The /r switch will defrag multiple drives in parallel, for instance (they'll obviously need to be physically separate drives for this to be useful). The /h switch runs the defrag at a higher than normal priority, and the /u switch provides regular progress reports so you can see exactly what's going on. Enter the command

defrag /c /h /u /r

in a command window to speedily defrag a system with multiple drives, or enter defrag /? to view the new options for yourself.