What is Contract Programming? An Alternative to th

What is Contract Programming? An Alternative to the Conformity of Everyday Employment

by: Michael Nigohosian

What is contract programming, you ask? Well, when companies need specific computer programming expertise, for temporary periods of time, they generally hire a contract programmer or an employee of a consulting firm. Contractors almost always have a higher hourly wage than a salaried employee and are often paid for overtime. Contracts can last from one to three months to many years, depending on the situation. A contract programmer generally does one thing: program (code) for the duration of the contract. So, contract programming is just an area of computer consulting. Other areas of computer consulting include custom developers, network consultants and information technology (IT) consultants. The contract programmer can work via two forms of contracts: 1) ขW2 ข contracts and 2) ข1099ข contracts.
Thereกs the กW2ก contractor
The ขW2 contractorข receives the typical IRS W2 form at tax time and works as a temporary employee of a contract broker or some form of employment agency. The contract broker basically acquires a contract with a client company and hires the contractor to work on that contract for them. Brokers make their money by charging the client an amount over your agreed upon hourly rate. In this form, the contract programmer is a temporary, hourly employee of the broker’s company and this is the form that is easiest for the newcomer to obtain.
And the ก1099ก contractor
As a ขW2 contractorข, your broker a.k.a.: temporary employer or agency will collect taxes from your paycheck, just as if you were a regular employee. The ข1099 contractorข, can still work through a broker, but gets paid on an IRS form 1099 and must take responsibility for paying all applicable taxes herself. This ข1099ข form is for, in IRS lingo, ขIndependent Contractors.ข Independent contractors have more work to do before they get a contract: they have to market themselves like any other business. This includes brochures, business cards, web sites, networking, etc. They have to consider obtaining more forms of insurance that may include general business liability and errors & omissions insurance. They also generally have to form a corporation in order to work for certain companies. The pay back for this extra work is a higher hourly rate. To the beginning contractor, I always suggest starting out as a ขW2ข contract programmer because it is generally the quickest and easiest path to becoming a contract programmer and the best way to determine if contracting is the right career choice.
The กW2ก contractor is like a typical employee…almost
The main differences between a fulltime employee and an hourly, contract employee working for a broker are, the contractor:
1) Will probably have to pay for his or her own health and disability insurance, which amounts to very little compared to the increased income one usually sees.
2) Generally gets paid topdollar for his or her work. Many earn $100 or more per hour for 40+ hours a week.
3) Can take as much time off from work as he or she pleases, while inbetween contracts.
4) Has independence from corporate politics.
5) Has the chance to live wherever she wants or live in different places as determined by the particular contract.
6) Is often seen as an expert in his or her field.
More work for ข1099ก contractor
These points apply to the ข1099 contractorข as well, but the ข1099ก contractor has more work to do in filing taxes, corporate paperwork, advertising and searching for her next contract as opposed the ขW2 contractor,ข who basically makes a few calls to her favorite brokers and tells them she is ready for another contract and the brokers do the jobsearching for her. Now, everything I’ve said thus far is pretty cutanddry, so let’s take a look at a more elusive topic: what qualities make a good contract programmer.
Signs of a good contract programmer
Over the last decade, I have met and worked with many varied computer programmers. From this experience, I have devised the following list containing what I believe makes a good potential contractor programmer. A good contract programmer:
1) Makes computers an avid hobby of his. When he comes home from work he plays with or hacks the computer trying to improve its performance.
2) Tries to learn more about computers than his peers do and he also likes to program the computer to have it do ขcoolข things.
3) Has often dreamed of being an expert, highpaid computer professional.
4) Has learned how to master the art of studying computer science.
5) Spends his free time reading computer books and magazines — yes kind of geeky!
6) May like to build his own computer systems and enjoys tweaking and upgrading them to extract the most performance from them.
7) Is very professional and humble.
Youกve got to love to do it!
These really are just some of the basic qualities of someone who loves computers and loving computers is really the main ingredient for a successful career in contract programming. If you don’t love doing it, you will not survive. If you do love it, it will be a joy to go to work every day and to continually update your skills. The computer field changes rapidly and only someone who really loves computers and makes it his hobby will have the desire to continually upgrade his skills and be the best he can be at all times. If you possess most of the seven qualities listed above and like the idea of using your hobby to catapult yourself into a highpaid, fulfilling career, even if the economy is down, you should consider a career in contract programming.

About The Author

Michael Nigohosian is the author of the awardwinning and bestselling series, ‘the Secret Path to Contract Programming Richesก and instructor for the course กIntroduction to Contract Programmingก. He is also director of Rapid Mastery Technology™ at McGillis, Wilcox, Webster & Co., Inc.™ http://www.mwwcorp.com

This article was posted on June 15, 2004

by Michael Nigohosian

Computer Tips that Help Small Businesses Operate P

Computer Tips that Help Small Businesses Operate Profitably

by: Sharron Senter

When working properly, computers enable small businesses to make big business profits; however, get booted off your computer and you’re suddenly starving. In most instances, computers usually act up due to lack of care by its owners. Here are four computer tips that’ll keep you up and running smoothly.

Tip #1 Back up your computer’s data no less than once a month.

Too often a small business is thrust back to infancy because it didn’t take time to back up precious data; information that took hours upon hours to create. Information that’s irreplaceable, such as customer databases or employment contracts. Keep in mind you’ll want to back up your written data as well as check books such as Quicken and email address books. If your computer has a CD writer, it’s simple and quick to back up your data. Simply select the files and folders you want to back up and copy them to the writer.

Or if you have an older computer, copy your most important files to a floppy disk. Either way, don’t stop there; now take the CD or disk and store it in a firesafe box! To expedite the process, organize your files within folders so you can quickly grab and copy one or two folders.

Tip #2 – Don’t turn off your computer every evening.

Too frequently computer users turn their computers off every evening. This is unnecessary and not recommended. A computer’s components are at their most vulnerable when turned on and off. When a computer has to heat up [turn on] or cool down [turn off] it’s at this precise moment components fail. It’s recommended you turn your computer off once or twice a week or only when necessary, such as from a power outage. However, don’t do the opposite and never turn your computer off, since many antivirus programs require a computer reboot be performed before new virus patches take effect.

Tip #3 Automate antivirus software so it updates automatically no less than once a week.

Depending on your software, you may need to prompt it to update. Unfortunately, there are people with too much time on their hands who desire to attack and make your computer unusable. A computer user is not ultimately protected from viruses and spyware [popups, cookies, etc.] unless you’re using a combination of antivirus and antispyware software and a firewall, a piece of hardware that protects computers from being hacked. You must have all three pieces in order to ward off viruses, lurkers and attacks. What’s more, most of the attacks are very quiet. You don’t know someone is on your computer. Instead, they secretly store information, such as child pornography or music MP3s on your computer, since itกs illegal, and redirect childporno or MP3 seekers to your computer instead of theirs.

Tip #4 Install a firewall if you keep your computer constantly on.

Using a broadband or DSL connection dramatically increases your exposure to being hacked. It only takes an average of 15 minutes being online before a homebased computer is attacked. The only true way to protect a computer from a hacker is to install a hardware firewall. It’s a misconception that softwarebased firewalls ultimately defend computers. This is simply not true. Computers must have a hardware firewall for ultimate protection, such as a SonicWall or Netscreen firewall, a component installed between a home user’s cable or DSL connection and their computer.

About The Author

Sharron Senter is cofounder of http://www.VisitingGeeks.com an on site computer repair, security and networking company that helps families, home power users and small businesses north of Boston, Southern NH and Maine. Visiting Geeks’ technicians are crackerjacks at squashing viruses, popups and securing and making computers perform faster. To reach Visiting Geeks call (978) 3464087 or visit http://www.VisitingGeeks.com Sharron’s also the author of, ขMake Money While Sleeping.ข Learn more at http://www.sharronsenter.com/fs_increase_seo.shtml

This article was posted on October 05, 2004

by Sharron Senter

Computer EWaste Recycling Now Fueled By Lack Of A

Computer EWaste Recycling Now Fueled By Lack Of Australian Legislation

by: David Allman

Motivated by the lack of Australian government legislation and limited options available concerning the disposal of computer ewaste, IT Recyclers has initiated a much needed computer recycling service aimed primarily at Sydney business who wish to play an essential part in reducing computer landfill.

Due to an affluent lifestyle and a growing population, Australia is the world’s second largest waste creator after the United States, according to the Federal Department of Environment. Compared to countries such as the US, Japan and parts of Europe, Australia is yet to introduce significant national legislation that would help reduce the amount of computer waste ending up in landfill. Australia’s emerging computer recycling industry, such as IT Recyclers, can’t remain solely responsible for managing ewaste, state and federal governments must also take an active role.

ขThe rate of technology is moving so fast, businesses as well as consumers tend to update their computer equipment on average every 3 years,ข said David Allman IT Recyclers business founder.

ขWe’ve discovered that many businesses throughout Sydney just aren’t aware of computer recycling, nor the increasing problem ewaste is to Australia’s environment. They tend to dispose of their equipment straight to landfill.

On the other hand we’ve found many concerned business owners taking interest in the way they treat the environment, but don’t know what to do. Until we approached them with our service, they’ve reluctantly been disposing their unwanted computer equipment straight to waste. The fact is there hasn’t been a convenient or viable recycling solution on offer until nowข, David Allman said.

Estimates by the Australian Federal Department of Environment say that by next year, 1.6 million obsolete computers and associated equipment will be sent to landfill, 1.8 million will be sent to storage, and 16 million will already be sitting in storage awaiting an undetermined fate.

For further information, contact David Allman at IT Recyclers on:

+612 0432 937 452, dave@itrecyclers.com or visit www.itrecyclers.com

About The Author

Formed in September 2004 by David Allman, IT Recyclers offers Sydney based companies a cost effective, convenient and environmentally responsible service for recycling their obsolete computer equipment.

For further information, contact David Allman at IT Recyclers on:

+612 0432 937 452, dave@itrecyclers.com or visit www.itrecyclers.com

This article was posted on January 10

by David Allman

Detect and Remove Spyware

Detect and Remove Spyware

by: Mitch Johnson

The increasingly common computer and internet threat known as spyware is designed to gather information about personal and business computer users. The private information spyware is capable of obtaining about you can include your click stream, usage habits, passwords, credit card number and social security information. It is almost guaranteed that all PC computers have been infected with spyware.

A spyware infection is not primarily intended to alter a computer’s function but as a ขside effectข your computer will begin malfunctioning in obvious ways when some types of spyware invade. Possible signs include continuous pop ups, browser crashes and unauthorized start page changes. Users who have downloaded music and game programs are likely to have been infected as well as those who use shareware and/or freeware.

To clear your computer of malicious spyware computer users must download or purchase one of the many spyware scan tools. Proven and effective spyware tools can scan your computer and catch spyware, adware, keyloggers, dialers, Trojans, malware and more. Once the infected files are identified the spyware scan tools can safely remove them while keeping a back up of the file in case restoration is needed later. Spybot Search and Destory has become one of the most advanced and used free spyware scanning tools. Spy Doctor can be purchased and begin actively protecting against future spyware infections.

You computer should be scanned for spyware infections on a regular basis so as to avoid serious problems that could arise from deep infection. Nearly any of the many antispyware programs include free updates that will bring the program’s database of spyware definitions to the latest known for ultimate computer protection. Finding and using a good antispyware tool will help protect your private information from being snatched and used against you. Spyware removal tools will also stop annoying and intrusive advertisements from interrupting your internet activity.

About The Author

Mitch Johnson is a successful freelance author that writes regularly for http://www.spywareremovalmadeeasy.com/, a site that focuses exclusively on spyware removal software, as well as tips on how to prevent spyware from popping up on your computer. This site articles on has spyware guard, http://www.spywareremovalmadeeasy.com/spyware_guard.htm as well as spyware scanner, http://www.spywareremovalmadeeasy.com/spyware_scanner.htm

rehan_articles@yahoo.com

This article was posted on August 02

by Mitch Johnson

VoIP 101: Voice over IP for Beginners

VoIP 101: Voice over IP for Beginners

by: Rich McIver

For those who have never heard about the potential of VoIP, be prepared to radically change the way you think about your current longdistance calling plan. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is very simply, a method for taking ordinary analog audio signals and turning them into digital signals that can be sent over the Internet.

So what? Well, for those of you who are already paying a monthly fee for an Internet connection, this means that you can use that same connection to place free long distance phone calls. This process works by using already available VoIP software to make phone calls over the Internet, essentially circumventing phone companies and their service charges.

Interestingly, VoIP is not an entirely new thing. In fact, a number of providing companies have been around for some time. But it has only been with the more recent explosion of highspeed internet access usage, that VoIP has gotten any attention. Now the major telephone carriers are setting up their own VoIP calling plans throughout the US, another testament to the potential of the technology.

How VoIP Is Used

While there are a number of ways that VoIP is currently being used, most individual callers fall into one of three categories: ATA, IP Phones, and ComputertoComputer.

ATA or Analog Telephone Adaptor, is the most common way of using VoIP. This adaptor actually allows you to hook up the phone that is already in your house, to your computer, and then your Internet connection. What the ATA does, is turn the analog signals your phone sends out into digital signals that can be sent over the Internet. Setting up this system is quite simple. It simply requires that you order an ATA (its an adaptor remember), plug the cable from your phone which would normally go into the wall socket into the ATA, and then the ATA gets plugged into your computer, which is connected to the internet. Some ATAs include software that has to be installed on your computer before its ready, but basically itกs quite a simple process. Then you are ready to make some calls.

The next type of VoIP usage utilizes IP Phones instead of your home phone. The IP Phone looks just like a normal phone, with all the same buttons and cradle, the only difference is that instead of having a normal wall jack connector, it has an Ethernet connector. This means, that instead of plugging in your IP phone to the wall jack like you would with a regular analog phone, it gets plugged directly into your router. This option allows you to circumvent your personal computer, and it also means that you will not have to install any software, because its all built in to the handset. In addition, the fact that WiFi IP phones will soon be available, which will allow subscribing callers to make VoIP calls from any WiFi hot spot, make this option an exciting possibility.

The simplest and cheapest way to use VoIP is through computertocomputer calls. These calls are entirely free, meaning no calling plan whatsoever. The only thing you need, is the software which can be found for free on the internet, a good internet connection, a microphone, speakers, and a sound card. Except for your monthly internet service fee, there is literally no cost for making these calls, no matter how many you make.

For large companies, VoIP also offers some very unique possibilities. Some larger companies are already utilizing the technology by conducting all intraoffice calls through a VoIP network. Because the quality of sound is comparable to and in some cases surpasses that of analog service, some international companies are using VoIP to route international calls through the branch of their company nearest the callกs destination and then completing it on an analog system. This allows them to pay local rates internationally and still utilize the same intraoffice VoIP network that they would if they were calling someone in the next cubicle over.

Other Advantages of VoIP

While your current longdistance plan covers you for only one location, say calls made from your office, with VoIP, you can make a call anywhere that you can get a broadband connection. That is because all three methods above, unlike analog calls, send the call information via the Internet. This means you can make calls from home, on vacation, on business trips, and almost anywhere else. Anywhere you go, with VoIP you can bring your home phone along with you. In the same way, computertocomputer connections mean that as long as you have your laptop and a connection, you’re ready to go.

There are also some nifty benefits to having your calls transmitted over the Internet. For example, some VoIP service providers allow you to check your voicemail via your email, while others allow you to attach voice messages to your emails.

How VoIP Works

The current phone system relies on a reliable but largely inefficient method for connecting calls known as circuit switching. This technique, which has been used for over 100 years, means that when a call is made between two people a connection is maintained in both directions between callers for the duration of the call. This dual directional characteristic gives the system the name circuit.

If, for example, you made a 30minute call the circuit would be continuously open, and thus used, between the two phones. Up until about 1960, this meant that every call had to have an actual dedicated wire connecting the two phones. Thus a long distance call cost so much, because you were paying for pieces of copper wire to be connected all the way from your phone to the destination phone, and for that connection to remain constant throughout the call. Today, however, your analog call is converted after leaving your house to a digital signal, where your call can be combined with many others on a single fiber optic cable. While this system is certainly an improvement over the past copper wire system, it is still quite inefficient. This inefficiency is due in part to the fact that the telephone line can’t distinguish between useful talking and unneeded silences. For example, in a typical conversation while one person is talking the other person is listening. Thus the current analog system uses roughly half its space sending useless messages like this silence. But there is also more information, even down to pauses in speech, which under a more efficient system can be effectively cut out rather than wasting the circuit space. This idea of only transmitting the noisy bits of a telephone call and saving a great deal on circuit space, is the basis of PacketSwitching, the alternative method to circuit switching that the VoIP phone system uses.

PacketSwitching is the same method that you use when you view a website. For example, as you read this website, your computer is not maintaining a constant connection to the site, but rather making connections to send and receive information only on an as needed basis (such as when you click on a link). Just as this system allows the transfer of information over the Internet to work so quickly, so also does it work in the VoIP system. While circuit switching maintains a constant and open connection, packet switching opens connections just long enough to send bits of data called packets from one computer to another. This allows the network to send your call (in packets) along the least congested and cheapest lines available, while also keeping your computer or IP phone, free to send and receive messages and calls with other computers. This way of sending information, not to mention data compression, makes the amount of information which must be transmitted for every call at least 34 times less for VoIP than the exact same call in a conventional telephone system. For this reason, VoIP is so much cheaper than conventional calling plans.

The Future of VoIP

While most analysts believe it will be at least a decade before companies and telephone providers make the full switch to VoIP, the potential for the technologyกs use today is already quite astounding. A report by the Forrester Research Group predicts that by the end of 2006, nearly 5 million U.S. households will be using VoIP phone service. With the savings and flexibility that the technology already offers, and new advances just ahead on the horizon, we can expect those numbers will only increase in the future.

About The Author

Rich McIver is a contributing writer for VoIP Now: Voice over IP News ( http://www.voipnow.org ).

This article was posted on March 15, 2005

by Rich McIver

Device Driver Basics

Device Driver Basics

by: Stephen Bucaro

Most people understand that the กhardwareก part of their computer is the real physical parts, like the keyboard, mouse, modem, hard drive and so on. They understand that the กsoftwareก is computer bits stored on the hard drive, CDROM, or other storage media. But most people are a little hazy about exactly what a กdriverก is.

In this article, Iกm going to reveal in plain English what a driver is, why we need drivers, and exactly where the drivers are hiding. To give you a basic understanding, Iกm going to go back, way back, to the early days of computers.

The Early Days

The year is 1981 and the world is in the midst of a severe resession. IBMกs main frame business has slowed and the company is losing money. Up until now they had been laughing at the array of microcomputers on the market: Atari, Commodore, sinclair. Toys really, mostly used to play computer games.

The problem was, these ‘toysก were selling like hot cakes. IBM had to get into that market and get into it fast. They didn’t have time to design and build a computer complete enough to compete in the market, so they built an กopen systemก. They used commonly available electronic components and they published every design detail (including the code), and they even provided plug in slots so that others could build components for their computer.

And people did provide components for the IBM PC. They provided video cards, memory expansion cards, inputoutput port cards, game port cards, hard disk interface cards, and much more. How were all these various devices able to interface with the PCกs operating system? Thatกs where a กdriverก comes in.

A hardware device is constructed with various electronic components using various control signals, but the software interface to the operating system is standardized. A deviceกs interface to the operating system must follow the interface specification. A driver is a piece of software that translates the hardwareกs control signals to signals that the operating system expects, and translates signals from the operating system to the hardwareกs control signals.

When the computer is started up, it would look in the กsystemก directory for files with the extension ก.drvก and load them into memory. Specific files like autoexec.bat, config.sys, and win.ini were used to inform the operating system about drivers. Hardware would be configured through these files, or through jumpers located on the device itself.

The driver specification evolved along with the PC. Today when a PC starts, it executes the program ntdetect.com which queries the hardware components and builds the registery key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet. This key exists only in memory and is created each time the computer boots. If all the drivers are loaded successfully, a copy of the key is saved as ControlSet00X.

Under the registery key CurrentControlSet, the subkey กEnumก contains a subkey for each harware device on the computer. Each device key contains fields for Hardware ID, Driver ID, Device Parameters, and other configuration data. The 32bit drivers are files with the extension ก.sysก and can be found in the folder C:/winnt/system32.

Driver Signing

Microsoft has been the brunt of much criticism because of the poor reliability of the Windows Operating System. I feel that much of this criticism is justified. On the other hand, as I described in part 1 of this article, the PC was designed by IBM as an กopenก system. Anyone can sell a hardware device (or software) for the PC. Should Microsoft be held responsible for the quality from a thirdparty?

As I described in Part 1 of this article, the operating system doesn’t interface directly to a hardware device. There is a piece of software called a กdriverก that translates the hardwareกs control signals to signals that the operating system expects, and translates signals from operating system to the hardwareกs control signals. Obviously, the hardware manufacturer provides the driver.

Because the driver works between the operating system and the hardware, a bug in the driver can cause a serious problem. Many of the problems with Windows have come from bugs in thirdparty drivers that Microsoft had nothing to do with. For this reason, Microsoft created a Hardware Quality Lab to test drivers. A hardware manufacturer can submit their driver for testing, and if it is passes rigorous compatibility testing, it receives Microsoftกs digital signature.

You may have received a message during the installation of a hardware device warning that the driver was not signed. Why would a hardware manufacturer fail to have their driver certified by Microsoft? The computer hardware market is very competitive and the manufacturer might want to bring a new product to market before thorough testing can be completed. Or maybe they don’t want to or can’t afford to pay Microsoft for certification. The question is, should you click on the กContinueก button to install the unsigned driver?

In my experience, I have never been able to trace a problem to an unsigned driver. If itกs your home computer and you performed a backup recently, go ahead and install the unsigned driver. If itกs a computer on a corporate network, you may want to backout of the installation and see if you can locate a signed driver first. Many times a manufacturer will release a product with an unsigned driver, then later provide a signed driver as a free download from their website.

If you decide to go ahead and install an unsigned driver, you can always update the driver later. If your computer works with the unsigned driver, I would not update the driver. When it comes to updating drivers (or the computers BIOS) I go by the old saying, กif it ain’t broke don’t fix itก.

To update a driver, select Start | Settings | Control Panel and doubleclick on the กSystem Propertiesก Utility. In the กSystem Propertiesก Utility, select the กHardwareก tab and click on the กDevice Managerก button. In the กDevice Managerก window, rightclick on the device in the list and select กPropertiesก in the popup menu. In the กPropertiesก dialog box, select the driver tab and click on the กUpdate Driver…ก button.

In the กPropertiesก dialog box driver tab, you may have noticed the กRoll Back Driverก button. If your computer has problems with the new drive, you can click on the กRoll Back Driverก button to roll back to the previous the driver. Driver roll back saves only one previous driver, so if you update a driver, then update it again, the original driver is gone. If the computer has problems with the new driver, always roll back to the original driver before trying a different one. That way youกll always have the original driver to roll back to.

Copyright(C) Bucaro TecHelp.

Permission is granted for the below article to forward, reprint, distribute, use for ezine, newsletter, website, offer as free bonus or part of a product for sale as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright, and the resource box below is included.

About The Author

Stephen Bucaro

To learn how to maintain your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter visit http://bucarotechelp.com/search/000800.asp

This article was posted on September 22, 2004

by Stephen Bucaro

You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Be A PC Gamer

You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Be A PC Gamer

by: Nathan Holsing

There is a common misconception that you have to take out a second mortgage on your house if you want to get a computer that will run all of the latest and greatest games. I don’t know who started the rumor that you need to spend $3000 to get a gaming computer. The truth is, if you are smart about it, you can easily afford to get a highend gaming computer. Here are a few simple rules to follow to put a gaming computer within reach.

Rule 1. Never buy the newest technology.

I know we all want to be the guy or girl with the newest toy, but you will never be able to keep up with technology. That topoftheline graphics card that came out today will be old news in just a couple of months and a new one will be released that is กso much betterก. Guess what happens to the price of the new graphics card you just broke the bank on? It dropped by about 50%. If you would have just been patient you could have purchased it for a fraction of the cost.

Rule 2. You only have to keep up with the software.

Rule 2 closely correlates to Rule 1. It usually takes software companies two years, give or take, to develop a new game. During this time there are new technology breakthroughs. If they went back and reengineered the game every time a new processor or a new graphics card came out, the game would never be released. Another important factor is that they want the game to be available to the largest number of consumers. For this reason they do their best to make sure the game can be played on a wide variety of systems. Check out the system requirements for some of the more popular games. A 1.8GHz processor and a Direct X 9 compatible graphics card will run just about everything out there. Granted you might have to turn some of the settings down but it will run it.

Once you reach a certain point the added performance of the new technology is noticeable. For example, the Athlon 64 chip has been out for more than a year, yet there are very few applications that require a 64 bit processor. If you check out benchmarks on the new PCI Express graphics cards you will see that they are running games at 300+ frames per second. When you watch a movie it runs at roughly 60 frames per second. A game will still run relatively smoothly at 20 frames per second. Basically anything over 60 frames per second likely will not be perceived while playing the game. You will only see the difference in your benchmark programs.

Rule 3. Build Your Own Computer

This is important for two reasons. First, you can be assured of better quality components when you pick everything out on your own. When you buy an offtheshelf system, chances are you are getting a big name CPU and everything else is most likely generic. Do you know what motherboard, power supply, or type of RAM you are getting? This of course, is my personal opinion, Iกm not saying every manufacturer builds sub standard machines, but from experience Iกve had greater longevity from the computers Iกve built myself. Iกve also noticed that you will often get little system memory, unless you pay a great deal more for it. You will often get 256MB of RAM with these base system. Windows XP will run, but likely with problems, on 256MB of RAM. It seems to be the most stable with 512MB or more. Other areas they cut costs is by using integrated graphics chips. This saves them having to put in a graphics card, but you will pay the price for it when you try to play a game.

The second reason to build your own computer is that you can cut your costs by stealing parts from your old computer. You can save hundreds of dollars by reusing the drives, case, monitor, keyboard and mouse. Plus, you don’t have to worry about calling a technician to install RAM or a new graphics card because youกll already know how to do it.

How Much Can You Build A Computer For?

I just checked out some pricing and you can build a very nice midrange gaming computer for around $600$700 using an AMD Athlon 64 3000+. If you can steal a DVD drive from your old computer and maybe the case, you can bring the cost down even more. You can build a highend machine for under $1000. The internet is full of useful websites about how to build computers. Look around and youกll find all the information you need. There are several books published about the topic as well. If you follow these simple rules and do a little research you can enjoy all of the best computer games even if you are on a shoestring budget.

About The Author

Nathan Holsing is the editor of GamingComputers.net a website that provides information regarding building computers, product reviews, and hardware buying guides.

questions@gamingcomputers.net

This article was posted on April 13

by Nathan Holsing

Please Protect Your Confidential Files

Please Protect Your Confidential Files

by: Robert Kelly

You’d be disgusted to know just how some doctors, businesses, lawyers and high profile companies treat your confidential records. Often they have extremely good email security, only to have the files left completely unprotected on their actual hard drive. Really, what good is that? If somebody takes the computer, or simply bypasses your firewall, not a difficult task, they would gain access to all of your confidential information. What about that notebook computer? I’m sure where all thinking about security when we take our laptops from place to place…

To combat the problem Australian based IT Security company, Quantum Digital Security has created an incredibly interesting tool. The product, named CleverCrypt, acts as an encrypted hard drive for your computer. Once you’ve installed the product you simply protect all of your confidential files, by dragging them into the CleverCrypt drive, and the program automatically encrypts them all. After your files are in your encrypted drive, you simply open the files from the drive.

CleverCrypt seems to be able to encrypt almost any kind of file, including Microsoft Word / Excel files and all of our business management files. You can also protect images and some system files.

The benefit? If somebody hacks into your computer, or just outright takes it, all of your data is protected inside your CleverCrypt drive. According to the company website it would take a supercomputer over 149 trillion years to crack a CleverCrypt volume, and that’s if you’re using the least secure option.

CleverCrypt is an incredibly interesting product, useful for anyone dealing with confidential data or simply wants a little more privacy.

So, what’s your doctor using to protect your records?

CleverCrypt is available for $89.95 from Quantum Digital Security, Australia

You can try CleverCrypt for 30 days by visiting www.qdsecurity.com

About The Author

Robert Kelly

Busy Business Bob takes a look at a new security product designed to protect your confidential, or just downright private, files.

robert.kelly@qdsecurity.com

This article was posted on October 21, 2004

by Robert Kelly

VoIP (Computer Phone) Warning

VoIP (Computer Phone) Warning

by: Dee Scrip

Never before in the history of telecommunications has a more important warning been needed for current and potential VoIP (computer phone) users who have joined, or will be joining, in the inevitable paradigm shift from telephone to VoIP.

Warning! Warning! Warning!

Beware of VoIP internet service providers that operate on industry standard codec and industry standard protocols because they are PUBLICLY OPEN and INTERPRETABLE! This also includes, but is not limited to, peertopeer (P2P) networks.

In plain terms, this means, if you subscribe to, or considering subscribing to a VoIP internet solution provider who operates on these industry standards – and over 90% do you have inadvertently made yourself vulnerable to the criminal activities of hackers. Regardless of the type of anti virus software you have on your computer, the publicly accessible industry standards provide a pathway by which these criminals can access your computer to plant viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and/or steal your identity.

Like sharks in a feeding frenzy, unscrupulous criminal hackers view systems operating on these industry standards as their personal ขCash Cowข because of the ease by which they can access your computer and gather your information to sell to other criminals.

Did you know that some hackerfriendly providers offer processor chips that are only sold on the Internet?

Did you know that hackerfriendly providers actually offer hacker software that enables these criminals to deliberately disable security on computers, access your personal and confidential information, as well as inject their viruses, worms, and/or Trojan horses?

For instance, ขVomitข is a free download software that was designed to convert VoIP phone conversations into a wave file which could be played with standard sound players. Hackers gleefully interpret this as a tool they can utilize to attack unsuspecting victims.

Hacker manuals are also easily accessible via the Internet. One of these manuals shows how to DoS other sites. DoSing (Disruption of Service) involves gaining unauthorized access to the ขcommand promptข on your computer and using it to tie up your vital Internet services. When a hacker invades your system, they can then delete or create files and emails, modify security features, and plant viruses or time bombs onto your computer.

ขSniffข is another tool (originally intended to help telecommunication professionals detect and solve problems) that criminal hackers use to tamper with the protocol and ขsniff outข data. When hackers sniff out a data packet from Internet traffic, they reconstruct it to intercept conversations. This enables them to eavesdrop on conversations, gather information, and sell it to other unprincipled criminal entities.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the most sinister of vulnerabilities you can inadvertently be subjected to. Identity theft is defined by the Department of Justice as

ข…the wrongful obtaining and using of someone else’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.ข

Identity theft is the byproduct of unscrupulous criminal individuals obtaining your social security number (including those of your spouse and children), your bank account, your credit card information, etc. Your information is then sold to other criminal entities for profit. Using your information, these criminals can then:

access your bank account funds

create new bank accounts with your information

create driver’s licenses

create passports

Attorney General Ashcroft stated that,

กIdentity theft carries a heavy price, both in the damage to individuals whose identities are stolen and the enormous cost to Americaกs businesses.ข

Don’t be naïve enough to think it won’t happen or couldn’t happen to you!

A group hosting a website known as shadowcrew.com was indicted on conspiracy charges for stealing credit card numbers and identity documents, then selling them online. While this group allegedly trafficked $1.7 million in stolen credit card numbers, they also caused losses in excess of $4 million.

According to a Press Release issued by the Department of Justice on February 28, a hacker was convicted of several counts of fraud, one in which

ข…he fraudulently possessed more than 15 computer usernames and passwords belonging to other persons for the purpose of accessing their bank and financial services accounts, opening online bank accounts in the names of those persons, and transferring funds to unauthorized accounts.ข

If you are using a VoIP internet service provider and do not want to be a victim of Identity Theft, then take the first step to protect yourself don’t use VoIP internet service providers operating on industry standard codec and industry standard protocols.

Viruses, Worms, and Trojan Horses

On January 28, a press Release issued by the Department of Justice reported that a 19 year old was convicted for his criminal activity by ข…creating and unleashing a variant of the MS Blaster computer worm.ข Christopher Wray, Attorney General – Criminal Division stated that,

‘this … malicious attack on the information superhighway caused an economic and technological disruption that was felt around the world.ข

On February 11, in a Press Release issued by the Department of Justice, reported that another criminal was sentenced for circulating a worm. This worm,

ขdirected the infected computers to launch a distributed denial of service (DOS) attack against Microsoftกs main web site causing the site to shutdown and thus became inaccessible to the public for approximately four hours.ข

March 7, Symantec.com posted discovery of a worm named ขW32.Serflog.Bข that spread through filesharing networks and MSN Messenger – networks that operate on publicly open and interpretable industry standard codec and protocols, including P2P systems, as well as Instant Messaging systems—none of which are protected, regardless of the anti virus software on your computer. The W32.Serflog.B worm also lowers security settings and appears as a blank message window on the MSN Messenger.

If you don’t want to be the next victim of the devastation created by worms, STOP using services that operate on industry standard codec and protocols, and/or services that incorporate P2P systems.

Anti virus software does not incorporate protection for Instant Messaging services. In addition, Instant Messaging services, in and of themselves, do not include protection for their users.

If you like the convenience of text chatting via Instant Messaging, then use a VoIP internet service provider that includes the Instant Messaging feature one that does not operate on industry standard codec or industry standard protocols that are publicly open and accessible.

Optimally secure VoIP service providers that incorporate a secure Instant Messaging feature, operate from their own proprietary high end encryption codec on patented technology that is hosted in a professional facility. Simply put, when a VoIP internet service provider operates on optimally secure platforms, the Instant Messaging feature on the VoIP softphone, is also protected with their technology.

A Trojan horse is a program that internet criminals use to interrupt and interfere with your security software and produces the following results

Terminates processes

Removes registry entries

Stops services

Delete files

Hackers, who have gained access to your computer, because of the programs and software as mentioned above, are having a field day incorporating this nasty little program into their arsenal of weapons.

As recently as March 4, a new Trojan horse was discovered that modified settings in Internet Explorer. Windows 2000, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP were the reported systems that could be affected.

Here’s the bottom line.

If you are currently using a VoIP internet solution provider that operates on industry standard codec and industry standard protocols that are publicly open and interpretable, you need to make a decision:

Continue enticing criminal hackers and remain on their service, or

Take immediate corrective action.

If you are currently using Instant Messaging of any sort, you need to make a decision

Continue enticing criminal hackers and remain as a user of their service, or

Take immediate corrective action.

If you decide to take immediate corrective action:

Find a VoIP internet solution provider that has their own proprietary high end encryption codec

Find a VoIP internet solution provider that has their own proprietary patented technology

Find a VoIP internet solution provider that hosts their proprietary patented technology in a professional facility

Find a VoIP internet solution provider that includes the Instant Messaging feature in their proprietary patented technology

Here’s a place you can look over to see what a VoIP internet solution provider looks like that operates on their own proprietary high end encryption codec with their own proprietary patented technology hosted in a professional facility, AND that incorporates the Instant Messaging feature.

http://www.freepcphone.com

By Dee Scrip © All rights reserved

**Attn Ezine editors / Site owners **

Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety in your ezine or on your site so long as you leave all links in place, do not modify the content and include the resource box as listed above.

About The Author

Dee Scrip is a well known and respected published author of numerous articles on VoIP, VoIP Security, and other related VoIP issues. Other articles can be found at http://www.freepcphone.com

deescrip48@comcast.net

This article was posted on March 11

by Dee Scrip

Microsoft Blues

Microsoft Blues

by: Tony Dean

With the advent of กService Pack 2ก for Windows XP operating system, Microsoft have really made the forums hum.

Every forum on computer problems is replete with complaints that since downloading and installing กSP2ก, many ‘third partyก applications don’t work.

This service pack was needed to keep viruses and trojans out of peopleกs computers when they are on the internet, but it has caused a world wide backlash against the software giant because peopleกs favored applications won’t work, or the computer crashes when they try to open them. Many people have said they will buy a Mac or try Linux instead.

What causes all this fury against Microsoft who are only trying to make surfing the internet safer?

Maybe there was an almighty rush to release this service pack before it had been thoroughly beta tested on all applications to see what the issues would be.

The complexity of this service pack is such that you really need to have a degree in I.T. just to set itกs parameters, instead of relying on itกs default settings, before you can successfully use it. It really needed a dvd movie to accompany it to visually show what you had to set before starting up any ‘third partyก applications, but this was not thought necessary because Microsoft were offering free technical support via a free phone number.

Some applications require that you open ports manually, but who would know that without clear instructions?

Some of the applications that need ports to be opened for them include the following: กVisual Studio.Netก, กSQLก, กBackup Exec 9ก, กGhost Server Corporate Edition 7.5ก, กSymantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 8.0ก, กSMS 2003 Serverก, กCuteFTP 5.0 xpก, กExceed 7.0 and 8.0ก, กKea! 340 5.1ก, กView Now 1.05ก, กMicrosoft Operations Manager 2000ก, กAutoCad 2004ก, กBackup Exec 9.1 4691ก, กWindows Scanner and Camera Wizardก, กCold Fusion MX Server Edition 6ก, กeTrust 6.0.100ก, กNetshield 4.5ก, กIBM Tivoli Storage Managerก …and the list goes on.

Many games won’t work. Games that need กDX9.0cก to run, are not supported by the กSP2ก, so games don’t run.

Virus scanning software by McAfee, Sourcenet, Sonic Wall, Command AntiVirus, either give error messages, or crash the computer.

Most scanners including Umax scanners may not work and give error messages, or continually reboot the computer.

Some of the features of Ebay Toolbar will cease to function. Users of Ebayกs Enhanced Picture Service are locked out.

Applications which may not work are programs that have to contact a server to work at all, some ftp, multimedia streaming software, กnew mailก notifications in some email applications. Some programs reported not working are webservers such as กInternet Information Servicesก (IIS), ‘remote Desktopก, กFile Sharingก.

Many large companies are so concerned about the applications incompatability issues that IBM have notified all staff not to install กSP2ก.

Complaints to ‘third partyก software suppliers are soaring as if it is their fault applications don’t work.

Even ebooks downloaded from the internet are refusing to fully open.

The only way to get these applications to work is to uninstall กSP2ก by going to กStartก then กControl Panelก then กAdd Remove Programsก.

Microsoft, as if to shove the blame on users, have warned that installing กSP2ก on a กspywareก infested machine is a กbad ideaก.

Summing up the proกs and conกs of installing กSP2ก, one forum poster stated it simply:

กWindows XP is incompatable with SP2ก.

About The Author

Tony Dean is a published author and runs a web site selling ebooks and software for immediate download:

http://www.ebooksales.com

To subscribe to his weekly ezine กEbookSales Ezineก send blank email: ebooksales@aweber.com

This article was posted on November 06, 2004

by Tony Dean

Printers

Printers

by: John Gibb

Do you feel overwhelmed when buying a computer or a new printer?

You are not alone. With so many products to choose from I know exactly how you feel. The best approach when buying a computer related product is to educate your self. This way you are making your own decisions from your own selfjudgment. That’s go to be more powerful than listening to a sales guy, who is more concerned about getting commission than you the customer, obtaining the right product for your needs. How do you educate yourself? Start of slowly, most people don’t want to become experts, they just want a computer or printer to do what is expected. Learn the basics of what computers and printers can offer you at http://www.computerandprinterreviews.com

Not only will you find reviews guides and here. You will also find how to fix printers yourself. Learn how to set up your firewall correctly knowing you are safe from intruders. Never feel as frustrated as you once did, knowing the truth about computers and printers. Be sure to check out http://www.computerandprinterreviews.com/printerreviews.html

Learn the difference between LaserJet and inkjet printers. Learn what the advantages are from certain computer products. With the wealth of information here, you will know other people are willing to help you and can understand where you are coming from. Don’t forget everyone has computer and printer problems. The good news is, what ever your budget is, there is always a solution. Remember if you intend to phone a computer support line, seek a plan of action. Don’t let them fob you off with technical meaningless babble!

About The Author

John Gibb is currently the webmaster of several support and guide sites for various specialized topics. His latest addition is http://www.computerandprinterreviews.com

Team@computerandprinterreviews.com

This article was posted on April 27, 2004

by John Gibb

FreeDOS

FreeDOS

by: Stephen Bucaro

Before September 1995, Microsoft Windows was an MSDOS program. DOS was an easy to use command line operating system that provided you with complete ability to control and troubleshoot your computer. Microsoftกs goal was to eliminate DOS, possibly to prevent you from having complete control of your own computer.
The last standalone version of MSDOS was version 6. Unfortunately, that version is not Y2K compliant. Windows 95 and later came with MSDOS version 7. Unfortunately, that version is too integrated with the operating system. It will not work without access to your hard disk.
FreeDOS is a PC compatible Y2K compliant DOS that you can download from www.freedos.org. FreeDOS fits on a single floppy disk and can be used to boot your computer. Download and unzip the file odin7bin.zip (756KB). Unziping will create the files diskcopy.exe and fdodin07.144. Put a blank formatted floppy disk in the drive. In the Start | Run dialog box, or at a command prompt type กdiskcopy fdodin07.144 a:ก to create a bootable FreeDOS floppy disk.
Why would you want to boot your computer with DOS? Maybe you want to use Windows XP without product activation.
First make sure that the BIOS boot sequence on your computer is configured with the floppy drive as the first boot device (or at least before the C: drive). To get to the BIOS configuration screen, press the กDeleteก or กF2ก key (depending upon your BIOS) while your computer is starting.
Insert the FreeDOS floppy disk in the floppy drive and start the computer. At the A:\>_ prompt type DATE. FreeDOS will return your computerกs current date, along with a prompt to enter a new date. Enter the date that you installed Windows XP (or at least a date before the 30 day expiration date). Remove the FreeDOS floppy disk and restart your computer.
Note: This will only work if Windows XP has never been started after the 30 day expiration date. The first time Windows XP is started after the 30 day expiration date will be the last time it starts.
Every time you start your computer, start it first with FreeDOS and reset the computerกs date to the date that you installed Windows XP. Windows XP will think time has come to a standstill.
Note: Of course, Your file creation and last modified dates will not be correct, so this is not really a way for a serious user to bypass Windows XP product activation. However for certain purposes, like learning the Windows XP operating system, this can be a way to use Windows XP without product activation.
Microsoft should have made the expiration period much longer than 30 days. Maybe they want you to activate Windows XP before it crashes.

Permission is granted for the below article to forward, reprint, distribute, use for ezine, newsletter, website, offer as free bonus or part of a product for sale as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright, and the resource box below is included.

About The Author

Copyright(C)2004 Bucaro TecHelp. To learn how to maintain your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter Send a blank email to subscribe@bucarotechelp.com

This article was posted on July 12, 2004

by Stephen Bucaro