Thursday, December 09, 2004 annoyance or worse?

In the world of computers and e-mail tag Spam has become a constant concern for even the most casual user. Like the problems of junk mail in your old fashion mailbox, people have found ways to target the masses through mailing lists of advertisements such as spam.

There are many different types of spam, most of which are just harmless pieces of junk mail offering bonuses like free tech gear and financial advice. In fact, two of my most recent spam items in my inbox are entitled "free $500 to kmart or sears" and "Lose weight while you sleep - free bottle". Yet, like any average user I habitually delete them without even a read. However, simply deleting spam is not so simple anymore, especially when the amount of spam exceeds the amount of concrete e-mail. Questions begin to arise about the privacy of online consumers and just how these 'spammers' got ahold of their e-mail address without their consent.

In fact there is quite a market for lists of e-mails, and many companies have bought into the craze on the assumption that if they bother enough people..a few will respond and they are able to turn a small profit with minimal effort. it becomes an every day nuisance to people who just want to use e-mail for simple communication without the hassle of deleting their inbox on a daily basis in an effort to battle the spam. In some cases, spam can also be dangerous, harboring viruses and other files that can be harmful to your computer when opened. Many viruses rely on e-mail distrobution for their success and prove to be effective since the average user is not careful with their inbox and opens anything that might sound appealing or familiar.

Very rarely are the benefits of spam seen from the user's perspective, and hopefully software will eventually arrive on the open market to effectively screen and prevent unwanted spam mail. For now, the current anti-spam software is not effective, often filtering out letters from friends and important emails by accident. This will continue, but it is hoped that more anti-spam laws will be passed and people will grow smarter to prevent the spread of unsolicited e-mails.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Paint Calculator Program

I had some trouble initially getting the software to work, but then I struggled through the program and managed to come up with a working program.

Private Sub PictureBox1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles PictureBox1.Click
Dim longwall As Integer
Dim shortwall As Integer
Dim height As Integer
Dim paint As Decimal
Dim gallons As Integer
Dim total As Decimal

longwall = updlongwall.Value
shortwall = updshortwall.Value
height = updheight.Value
cost = Val(Txtcost.Text)
gallons = (((shortwall * height) * 2) + ((longwall * height) * 2)) / 400
total = cost * gallons
lblgallons.Text = (gallons)
lblcost.Text = FormatCurrency(total)

End Sub

Paint Caclulator Screenshot

Monday, November 29, 2004

File Sharing Ethics

With major advances in the internet over the past few years, there have been a growing number of available programs to enable file sharing between users. Napster was the first program to really harness the power of the internet to transfer songs from machine to machine. Although the government has cracked down on software and its user, the file sharing community has evolved to skirt around these laws and avoid prosecution. Napster relied on a more central server to direct communications between users and initiate song transfers. Newer file sharing programs are more peer to peer based (P2P) and directly connect users without the relay communications of the central server. This makes it much more difficult for users to be caught, and almost impossible to prevent file sharing without dealing directly with the Internet Service Providers.

I am sure that very little of the material shared through these programs is legal, and it has become an even bigger issue since movies, tv shows, pictures and other files are now being shared. This is quite the advancement from basic song sharing over 56k modems. I am not particularly concerned with getting caught sharing music or downloading copyrighted songs. The general public participates in these practices daily in staggering numbers, making it difficult for individual users to be picked out of a crowd. This is not to say that this mass downloading is healthy or moral, but it has become common practice in society today, and people are reluctant to give up something that is so beneficial with minimum effort.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Operating system Comparison

While all operating systems are essential pieces of software, there are often times when where specific operating systems are better than others. Linux for example, is not widely used among homes, but holds the majority in server environments for its ease of use and reliability. Being freeware, Linux also offers a cheaper alternative to windows and is believed by many to be more stable and secure. The benefits of windows are that it is the most widely used operating system, and thus is very compatible among computers of friends, family, school, and work. People are generally more familiar with the windows operating system, which despite being priced around $100-$200, still has more exposure to the public than Linux, or any other operating system.

Both operating systems offer a graphical user interface, as well as command line prompts if the user chooses so. The linux X-windows is the most popular GUI among Linux users, and it has a lot of similarities to the windows xp interface. Some benefits of Linux are that it is completely open source and there are no secrets about how the program works, whereas the windows installation process is stealthy, and there are always programs running in the background, typically using more memory than is necessary. Over the years the popularity of Linux has grown tremendously and as it continues to gain widespread approval, more users will continue to switch as more software becomes available and publicity increases.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Pocket Excel

Well taking into consideration that I am a long time computer user and never liked excel very much, I still find the ways to appreciate pocket excel. For starters, I find it very easy to navigate and it is a simplified version of the desktop version of excel. This made it very easy to use formulas, but would cause a lot of confusion when dealing with complicated workbooks. I found pocket excel better for finding simple solutions to a small range of data, but desktop excel is definitely more versatile.

The usability of pocket excel is definitely limited by the keypad data entry or draw text tool. Also, the ability to enter complex formulas is severely limited. I would suggest that desktop excel be used when the useful help features of the program are accessible. I have found them to be a good guide in trouble shooting formula syntex errors. Also, pocket excel doesnt offer the same formatting abilities and is saved under a different file type format. Generally, pocket excel is useful for quick calculations on the road, but for efficiency desktop excel is the better program.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Google Desktop Search Technology

Recently released a program that allows a user to easily search their hard drive in the same way they search the internet. The program categlogs everything on the computer from files, pictures, saved e-mails and even IM conversations. The program continually builds an index of a computer's hard drive to allow for updated and timely functionality. Google claims that "Desktop Search puts your information easily within your reach and frees you from having to manually organize your files, emails, and bookmarks". The release is only a beta version, but it is the latest in google-based software that has been marketing since they company went public in August.

There are a number of privacy concerns about this new software. It is not offer good support for computers in a shared user environment, where people come and go. It would allow users instantly to discover information about past users of that machine. Some public libraries and internet cafes have discovered this potential security threat, and are not permitting installations of this software to protect their customers. The software allows for instant searching, that information can now be exploited in a matter of seconds, which is a major jump forward in technology compared to the built in windows search function. You can follow some of the news on this software and read more about it at the following links:


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Experiences with Pocket PC Software

Pocket Artist

I chose this program because I think it is amazing that a pocket PC can be a graphics design and illustration tool. This is similiar to Adobe Photoshop for desktop machines, but scaled down for use on a pocket pc. I experimented with the functionality, and althought I am not much of an artist, I was interesting to add some blur and sharpen effects, as well as design some text and add glow effects. It is a little awkward to use the program using the stylus, but I can imagine it would be easier for an artist, since they could basically just draw on the screen. It is a great option for graphics creation and artwork for the pocket PC. I had a nice time drawing president Bush, looking not so presidential.

I also really think the software our group found is very useful. It allows synchronization of hotmail, google, yahoo, or AOL e-mail accounts with your Pocket PC. It is very useful and allows a user to easily read their mail on the run in the morning. I highly recommend this software, along with Pocket Artist to any Pocket PC user, they are both good tools, the only difference is that the e-mail software is %100 free. Always a plus in the software market.