Dear friend,

 

Welcome to the Oct 10, 2009 issue of
CompuNerds.Net-News

 

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The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. So here goes!

With the official launch of Microsoft's new "Windows 7" operating system just 12 days away, we thought you might like to know if your current computer system is compatible with Windows 7. To find out, just download and run Microsoft's Upgrade Advisor. Generally, if your computer is running Windows Vista satisfactorily, it should run Windows 7 even faster. If you have Windows XP installed, though, it may need a RAM upgrade and you may discover some driver incompatibilities with the new OS. Upgrading from XP will require a clean install, but you can upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 without reformatting your hard drive. Either way, before you start to install it, back up all your personal data and be sure to have copies of all your needed programs, "just in case." If you'd like a free 28-page PDF file on upgrading to Windows 7, or if you need help with the upgrade, please contact us!

Here are a few tips if you're upgrading from an old Windows installation:
1) If you're doing a clean install, keep in mind that some commercial software packages have a limited number of times you can install them using the same serial number, to cut down on software piracy, so you might not be able to re-install them another time. But among them, notably Adobe Acrobat, you can click on Help and deactivate your current installation, then after your upgrade re-install it without bumping up your counter. Check this out on other programs!

2) If you're not doing a clean install but rather an upgrade in place, uninstall unnecessary programs. Then disconnect from the Internet and uninstall all antivirus, antispyware, and third-party firewall programs, because they may interfere with your upgrade. After you install Windows 7, reinstall versions of these programs that are compatible with your new OS. We recommend Comodo Internet Security, free for personal use. Also the "Softies" have recently announced their free Microsoft Security Essentials that you might consider.

3) Also for an upgrade in place, go to Accessories → System Tools → Disk Cleanup on your menu, and select "from all users on this computer" - this will delete all sorts of temporary files and your System Restore checkpoints that take up many Gigabytes of disk space, and it will reorganize your files so your computer will run faster. This may take a couple of hours, so go have dinner while your computer cleans itself up for Windows 7.

I pre-ordered my Windows 7 upgrade disk for half price back in July, and am eagerly awaiting it on October 22. I had installed the Windows 7 Release Candidate in May and made it my main OS, replacing Vista. It runs much faster than Vista and has lots of nice, new features. This Wednesday, though, I had a surprise: I'd either installed some programs that created an "infinite loop" or similar conflict, or some malware had penetrated my computer firewall: the result was that 100% of my CPU cycles were being consumed by some invisible process. After spending a few hours trying unsuccessfully to track it down using "safe mode" and other techniques, I decided to re-install my Russian version of Vista because I needed to have a registered copy of Windows on my computer anyway in order upgrade to Windows 7 in two weeks. Now my Windows prompts and system files are all in Russian.

The hardest part of any operating system clean install isn't installing the OS itself - that took less than an hour - it's re-installing all your programs and your personal data files, which took me about 12 hours. It went much faster than previous full installs that took a couple of days, though, because I could simply copy my PortableApps from my flash drive that contained my programs, my browser settings, email accounts and messages, and all my documents. And just in case, I set up a firewall in the router, set the router to stealth mode, and increased the level of encryption. After umpteen reboots due to about 100 Microsoft and other software updates, I deleted 125 Megabytes of temporary files from all these installs, did a Windows Registry scan, cleaned out 88 dead registry entries, then defragmented my C: drive because 25% of my files were already fragmented. Now I can hardly wait for my official Windows 7 disk to arrive!

Here are some humorous but sobering Security Maxims - enjoy!

And read an article on Crimeware: How It Works - some cybercriminals in Russia actually place a EULA (End User License Agreement) on their spyware!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100,000,000, that's the bank's problem. - JP Getty


Click on Online PC Support for worldwide PC service - tell your friends!

CompuNerds-Support module
When you go to our Online PC Support page above, you'll see our CompuNerdsSupport branded version of VNC (Virtual Network Computing) that enables us to service other people's computers remotely. VNC is open source software that was developed by AT&T's Bell Labs, and has been widely customized for various types of remote computer access. With this software tool we can offer worldwide PC service. On our Online PC Support page you'll also see how we've made it secure from hacking, either by us or someone else.

TODAY'S TOPIC: OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE
(Whew! I'm back from my 1-mile swim, so it's time to get started on this article....) Perhaps you've heard the term "open source software," but exactly what is it, anyway? Many people think it's just free software, but that's only partly true. The term "open source" refers partly to the human-readable source code that is open, or made freely available to all. Open source programs might be free, such as the PortableApps (www.PortableApps.com) I've written about, but there are other portable applications that are also free, but not open source - like www.PenDriveApps.com and some applications at www.U3.com - and other open source programs aren't free. We've customized the version of PortableApps we distribute to include both open source and other free software.

For example, some versions of the open source Linux operating system are free, other vendors have free versions without technical support and commercial versions with technical support. There's even the "Wine" Windows emulator that lets you run Windows programs under Linux without having to buy Windows - it has both a free version and a commercial version. Some software developers customize open source programs and market their customized versions commercially. Others market their ability to install, modify and maintain open source software. The largest repository of open source software is www.SourceForge.net - you'll find lots of useful free software there.

Now that you're probably thoroughly confused, let's look at the Wikipedia definition:

Open source is an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to a software's source code. Some consider open source as one of various possible design approaches, while others consider it a critical strategic element of their operations. Before open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; the term open source gained popularity with the rise of the Internet, which provided access to diverse production models, communication paths, and interactive communities.

Software development costs in organizations have been touted as being approximately 15% of total costs. This indicates that the value of one over another development methodology is more of a marketing decision (which customers and pricing models) as much as it is about the design of software. The open source model of operation and decision making allows concurrent input of different agendas, approaches and priorities, and differs from the more closed, centralized models of development. The principles and practices are commonly applied to the peer production development of source code for software that is made available for public collaboration. The result of this peer-based collaboration is usually released as open-source software, however, open source methods are increasingly being applied in other fields of endeavor, such as biotechnology. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source)

So the idea behind open source is peer-based public collaboration, as the Open Source Initiative states: "Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in" (www.opensource.org). Without peer review and public collaboration, a software developer - either an individual or a company - can easily slip into the arrogance of believing their software is flawless. When thousands of other programmers worldwide are reviewing the source code, however, they turn up "bugs" that the initial team of developers didn't find, and often the result is a more reliable application.

I'm a top-notch (and quite modest) software designer who several times has written programs that run correctly the first time - a rarity among programmers. But at other times I've also been embarrassed when another software designer looked at my code and found logic errors. So I've learned not to trust myself implicitly, but rather to test my work thoroughly before I sign off on it, be open about what I'm doing and open for constructive criticism from my peers. By being forthright about my own fallibility, willing to share my customized open source software with others and not locking in my clients to my proprietary software or services, I can fairly hope they will recommend my services to others.

That's it for today! I hope you've enjoyed this litte excursion into the world of open source software. Thanks for your time!

Feel free to forward our CN.Net-News to a few friends (but don't spam!).

Yours truly,

Bob the CompuNerd

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