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Monday, July 2, 2012

Hello Readers!

Wow! It seems like only yesterday I was installing Windows 7 on my Vista machine for a dual boot.

If you're into the latest news, Microsoft is really gearing up for their next OS release, Windows 8! They've redesigned the entire start menu, along with some other cool new features. I personally like these features, the start menu and Metro interface look really fancy.

The Windows 8 Release Date is still unknown, and is yet to be announced by Microsoft, but all estimates point to a late 2012/early 2013 release.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can download the Windows 8 Release Preview right over here: 

Don't feel like dual-booting or formatting? No problem! Simply use Oracle's nifty VirtualBox, found here: 

Don't like the start menu? Want to rant about something? Leave me a comment or post it on the forums!

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Until next time!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hello Readers!

Often times, people who work in IT get asked how they make things "magically" appear on the screen. The trick for us to save time (and look cool, too!) is to use keyboard shortcuts. As an added bonus, since time is money, then you also get to save money!

However, there are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts, and each program has its own set. In this post, I'll be teaching you the 10 most common ones that you will likely use the most (if you don't already know them).

1. Ctrl + C / Ctrl + V
Is your right mouse button losing its paint? Extend its life by using Ctrl+C to copy something and then Ctrl+V to paste it! Simple, right? And it also makes working on text documents a lot faster! Use Ctrl+X for cutting if you don't want to copy.

2. Ctrl + Z
This is a shortcut that most geeks wish they could use in real life! In almost any program, this nifty shortcut will undo your latest action - and often times a few previous ones. I can guarantee that this shortcut will save your butt on numerous occasions!

3. Ctrl+Shift+Esc
Want to get to the task manager without going through that annoying security menu? No problem, just use this shortcut!

4. Shift+Del
Want to get rid of something permanently? Shift+Del is your friend. Be careful: What you delete using this shortcut is deleted permanently, it does not go to the recycle bin.

5. Middle Mouse Button
Okay, this one isn't a keyboard shortcut, but we just love it too much to leave it out. In almost any browser, pushing down on the middle mouse button (the little wheel) whilst hovering over a link will open it in a new tab. Perfect for Google Chrome power users who like to end the day with 60 tabs open.

6. Shift+Click
If you want to select several items in Windows Explorer, then just click on the first item, hold shift, and then click on the last item! This will select the first and last item you clicked on, as well as all the items in between.

7. Ctrl+Alt+Del
This shortcut, starting from Windows Vista, brings up a menu from which you can access the task manager, change your password, and several things in between.

8. Windows Button+L
This shortcut locks your computer, making sure that the next person to touch it has to put in your password. Helps to keep away nosy co-workers!

9. Alt+Tab
My favorite way of switching to a different window or program. It's a cool and fast way of moving around open applications!

10. Windows Button+Tab
Same function as Alt+Tab, only with more eye candy!

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Until next time!

Hello Readers!

If you read my last article, you saw that I was having a little overheating problem with The Sims 3; however, high temperatures aren't really that rare with modern graphics cards. Today I will teach you how to fix this overheating with minimal effort.

Little did I realize that The Sims 3 was making my graphics card squeeze out several THOUSAND frames per second. You heard me right. Over 1,000 frames per second in the main menu. No wonder that a three year old game was pushing my temperatures almost to Crysis levels! Most games are pushing your graphics cards unnecessarily - and here I will explain why.

Now, a lot of you may be thinking: 1,000 FPS? GREAT! Well, no. A common myth in PC gaming is that the more FPS you have, the better the game runs. This is true - to a certain extent. After 60FPS, the difference that the human eye can perceive becomes very small. Therefore, pushing your games beyond 60FPS is pointless, right? Wrong. If you are lucky to have a 120Hz monitor and a good set of eyes, then you shouldn't push your games beyond 120FPS.

The rule of thumb is to have your framerate NOT exceed the refresh rate (Hz) of your monitor. Why? Because the monitor physically cannot display more frames per second than the number of times it refreshes per second (measured in Hz).

Therefore, having your PC render excessive FPS is completely useless. Well, unless you're benchmarking it against someone else's PC ;) But still, it makes NO difference in gaming.

How do I solve this?

Simply turn on the game's frame limiter or Vsync! Vertical synchronization (Vsync) is a feature that locks the number of frames per second your GPU can produce to the vertical refresh rate (Hz) of your screen. Usually, enabling Vsync in your global graphics settings or in the game options works. Be wary, though. Sometimes Vsync may be buggy in a certain game, so you might want to use a frame limiter instead. But, in most cases, Vsync is fine, and also helps to reduce screen tearing, which is when your screen starts to split into annyoing sections due to the excess frames per second.

Got a question? Angry at your PC?

Drop me a comment or rage in the comment section below! 
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hello Readers!
Photo Credit: EA
With the start of the summer, I'm sure a lot of you have checked your shelves and taken out a few games to dust them off! If you've taken out the Sims 3 from your shelf like I have, you may have run into a slight problem with it.

When I finally got my Sims 3 installed and ready to go, I realized that it was pushing my ASUS GeForce GTX 580 DCUII, which is a card that runs incredibly cool, to the 70 Celsius range, with the fans at 70% speed. At first I thought it was the crazy summer heat, but I was wrong. Shocking, isn't it?

What was the issue?  Well, this 2009 game was pushing my graphics card to render over 1,000 Frames Per Second (FPS). Logically, this exerts more strain on the GPU and thus more heat. I will explain the details of V-Sync and Overheating in my next post.

The solution? Activate VSync via the Nvidia Control Panel! (If you've got an AMD card, post a comment explaining how to do this for all you AMD users!) To avoid The Sims 3 from absolutely destroying your graphics card, right click the desktop, select Nvidia Control Panel, and then on the left select "Manage 3D settings..." Once in there, browse to the menu that allows you to make rules for an application.

Navigate to your Sims 3 directory, select the .exe files for the Expansion and Stuff Packs as well as TS3.exe and TS3W.exe in the core game directory. (Typically: C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\Game\Bin)

Now launch your game and enjoy The Sims 3, without bricking your PC!

Stay tuned for my next article on how to prevent overheating on all games, as well as learning more about this issue!

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Until next time and happy summer!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hello Readers!

So I bet a lot of you are anxious to try Microsoft's new Windows 8 previews! Well, if you've got VMWare, you've got a problem!

When you try to install Windows Server 8, it'll give you an error about not finding a product key. The solution is simple! Edit the virtual machine's settings:

And just disable the floppy drive!

You're done! Enjoy Windows Server 8 Beta!

 If you like the post, please comment or subscribe using any of the options on the right! Until next time!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hello Readers!

Today I'm going to talk to you a little bit about choosing a password and why it's so important.

In today's society, with all the freeware tools and all the knowledge out on the internet, passwords are more easily cracked. This is aided as well by the progression of computing power. However, most people are scared of passwords. What many people do not realize is that, at the same time that password-cracking technology advances, so does security technology. I mean, look at all the wonders of security we have today - SSL, Sandboxing, Encryption algorithms such as MD5, etc...

As a result of this, it is very important that you select good passwords and use a different password for each site. When I say this, people are worried that they might get hacked. But, let's think. A hacker that can hack modern technologies in order to get your password will most likely not be hacking you. Instead, he will probably hack the account of someone important in society or a monetary account. But then why do people get hacked? Well, because of how easy you're making it for the hacker by choosing a weak password!

So, without further ado, here are tips for you to have a safe password. Try to take making and remembering a password a challenge for yourself. It is very difficult to retain a certain string in memory for a long while, so use this as a memory excercise.

Tip #1: Use a different password for all websites!
Why?: Well, imagine that your Facebook password gets stolen. If you've used that Facebook passwords on all the other sites you've registered in, guess what? The person with that password now has a key to all your accounts!
How?: Well, when I say this, people dread having two remember two or more totally different passwords. But, use your creativity! Your password doesn't have to be "#!t$mn;123" on one site and "%ym/&Tl" on another. No! Use passwords that are meaningful to you, and secure, which I will cover in the rest of this article.

Tip #2: Use different characters!
Why?: Nowadays, a password-cracking program could probably crack a number-only password in minutes or hours. Simply using a capital letter or a symbol could extend the cracking time to days! Think of all the possible combinations if you use just numbers - and then think of numbers and letters. My suggestion: Try to incorporate at least numbers and letters. Capital letters can be used, and try to add a symbol. However, you should try to use the symbol in a way that it does not replace another character, because some password-cracking programs can circumvent this.

Tip #3: Keep your passwords safe!
Why?: Imagine that you write your password on a sticky note. Then you lose that sticky note or someone takes it from your desk.
How?: Well, as I said before, you should try to remember it. It's a good mental exercise and makes sure no one else has your password. In any case, if you forget one, there's always a recover password feature. If you must write it down, then store it somewhere safe, like a safe! (ha, ha!)

Remember: Password security is a worthwhile investment. Spend 30 minutes remembering it, avoid 10 hours of frustration!

Congratulations, you now know how to make secure passwords!

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 Until next time!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hello Readers!

Last week, I attended Microsoft's Cloud Day. This was an event in which Microsoft presented new upcoming technologies, with the main focus being, of course, cloud storage and accessibility.

In this event, several interesting things were announced, such as Windows Server 8. The day started with a preview into the future of technology, with a video demonstrating very futuristic computing solutions. After that, they went on to explain all of Windows 8's news features, as well as the fact that the new Windows will be using a unified interface for everything that runs a Windows OS, known as "Metro."

Then, they introduced the new System Center 2012. For all you administrators out there, there is something huge coming your (our!) way! The demo of System Center 2012 showed a much friendlier interface, with many intuitive features for administrating certain aspects of your network.

After that, they introduced SQL Server 2012, as well as some new Virtualization features that will be available soon.

To conclude the event, Windows Server 8 was announced. You can download the beta off of Microsoft's site. Windows Server 8 is a huge twist on the Windows Server platform. The start menu is gone, and everything looks much nicer. You can now administrate several servers from only one! And, the Server Manager is much less confusing than it is now.

Some other cool things at the event were the several booths scattered around the area. The most interesting one was the Nokia booth, in which they demonstrated their new Windows 8 smartphones. They bet several people that their Windows 8 smartphone could demolish any other smartphone on the market. And, surprisingly, it did most of the time.

All in all, it seems as though there are many improvements coming everyone's way, especially for administrators. It was a great event, and we can't wait to see what the future has in store!

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 Until next time!