Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are Your Electronic Photos Safe?

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WXPNews: Your Source for all things XP
Vol. 8, #67 - Apr 21, 2009 - Issue #375

 Are Your Electronic Photos Safe?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Are Your Electronic Photos Safe?
    • Follow-up: Our vulnerable Internet infrastructure
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • XP to Windows 7 upgrade: possible after all?
    • Next version of Firefox may not support early versions of XP
    • Is your XP computer creating an unwanted ad hoc network?
    • Will Windows 7 upgrade apply to those who buy XP "downgrade" computers?
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to move an off-screen window back to your main monitor
  5. XP Security News
    • 2008: It was a very good year (for malware)
  6. XP Question Corner
    • What's the easiest way to try Linux without giving up XP?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Windows stops responding when you click a large AVI file
    • IE crashes when you browse certain web pages
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • The Ultimate Troubleshooter: Possibly The Most Complete And Most Effective PC Tuning Program Ever Written

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200 Per Year

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks per year! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

 Editor's Corner

Are Your Electronic Photos Safe?

This past week, I've undertaken a new project: scanning the boxes of old family photos that I inherited from my mom. I started by sorting them and picking out the ones that I cared about most to digitize first, but my goal is to eventually get them all into electronic format and make copies for my kids, aunts and uncles and cousins. The experience got me thinking about how advances in technology have changed the whole family photo experience and the advantages - and disadvantages - of our new methods for preserving visual memories.

Many of the photos in the box are prints from negatives, some are Polaroids, and some are portraits made by professional photographers or commercial studios. The latter range from Olan Mills to the nameless portrait companies that use to set up shop in the local K-Mart and offer an 8x10 for 99 cents (hoping, of course, to talk you into buying many more when you saw the finished pictures). Some of the photos are prints I made myself, in my own darkroom. There are even a few ancient ferrotypes of ancestors I never knew that were passed down through the generations.

One characteristic of many of these pictures is that they're one of a kind. Even though most originated on film, most of the original negatives are long gone, lost or thrown away at some point over the years. The exceptions are a bevy of school photos, copies of which are likely residing in similar boxes on dozens of my family members' shelves, and those K-Mart baby pictures; the salespeople almost always succeeded in persuading the proud mom, dad and/or grandma to purchase plenty of "wallets" to distribute to friends and family.

Twenty-five years ago, photography was a fairly expensive proposition. My first Nikon, an F2, cost $1200 back in the 1970s - almost as much as my current semi-pro digital Nikon. If you adjust for inflation, it was much more expensive than the one I use today. Then you had to buy the film. Those of us who grew up shooting film still tend to be stingy and careful with our shots, forgetting that with modern digital cameras we can "spray and pray" without paying extra for the privilege.

The old shoeboxes full of photographs (or for the more industrious among us, the stacks of fat photo albums - I have plenty of both) are probably destined to disappear from our lives as those lives become more and more digitized. Many folks still make prints of the pictures they take with their digital cameras, but to an increasing degree, we share those photos on the web or via email instead of printing them. Even when we want to display them in our homes, we can do it more effectively with digital photo frames. We can even take them with us wherever we go, on tiny keychain displays.

Regardless of whether they originate in our digicams or as faded prints that we scan, for many people, the majority of the photos we own now are in electronic format. Does this make them more or less vulnerable to loss or damage? Well, that depends. The nice thing about electronic files of any kind is that you can make as many copies as you want and store those copies in disparate places. The bad thing about electronic files is that if you don't do that, it's easy to accidentally delete them, have them become corrupted, or get them wiped out by a hard drive crash or the loss of a memory card.

A mistake made by many amateur digital photographers is leaving the pictures on the card in the camera rather than immediately downloading them to the computer. Then you get out there in the field again and need to take more pictures, and your card is full. What do you do? If you don't carry an extra card, or have your laptop with you so you can do an emergency download, you may have to delete some of the pictures on the card before you can take more. That's a situation that's easily avoided with a little foresight, but it happens with surprising frequency.

Another common practice that can put your photos in danger is to download them to your hard drive, and then make a "backup" on that same hard drive. Now, this is better than making no backup at all; at least if one of the files gets corrupted or accidentally deleted, you will probably still have the other copy. But if the disk itself dies, you lose both copies. Ah ha, you say, but I have two separate physical disks in the computer and I put the backup on a different disk. Okay, that's better - but what if a natural disaster destroys the whole computer and both disks?

A better idea is to create an off-site backup. There are various ways to do that. You can copy the photos to removable media - a USB drive, a DVD or CD, a flash card - and then store it somewhere else: at a friend's house, at your office, in the bank safe deposit box. Or you can back up the files up across the Internet: zip them up and email them to a friend to save on his/her computer, email them to your own Gmail or Hotmail account, put them on your ISP's web server if you get free web space with your account, upload them to a "cloud storage" service such as Microsoft's SkyDrive or Mozy or Idrive, or an online backup service such as Carbonite or Backupmyinfo, or publish them on a web-based photo sharing site such as Flickr or Picasa or Shutterfly. The idea is to get as many redundant copies of your photos stored in as many different locations as possible.

Each of these solutions has its benefits and drawbacks. If you store your photos on removable media, you'll need to check on them now and then and maybe transfer them to new media every few years. How many people still have floppy disks full of pictures - and new computers that don't have floppy drives? Even if the technology itself is still current, it's not a bad idea to copy the contents of optical discs over to a new one every few years. It's difficult to know what the lifespan of a particular DVD or CD may be, since it depends on the quality of the disc, storage conditions, and other factors. Don't just assume you can burn your files to a disc and it will still be good five or ten years from now.

Online storage has its own set of drawbacks. You're trusting your precious pictures to a server over which you probably have no control. Free services are great but they tend to come and go. If you visit www.xdrive.com, you'll see a web page announcing "The Xdrive service is closed. Thank you for having been an Xdrive user." Even if you pay for the service, that doesn't guarantee it won't go away. Earlier this year, HP shut down their Upline online backup service:

Something else to consider when you put your photos online is how this affects your copyright. If you publish your pictures on the web, it can be very easy for someone else to copy them without your permission unless you have the expertise (or web publishing software) to disable right click and save/copy options. Of course, even if you do disable that functionality, anyone who can view your photos can still do a screen capture and copy the picture that way. Vista and Windows 7 make this particularly easy with the Snipping Tool. And if you plan on selling any of your photos, remember that posting them on the web may render them "published," so that you can no longer sell first publication rights to them.

Be sure to carefully read the Terms of Service of any web site to which you publish your photos, too. Ensure that by posting your pictures there, you aren't giving up ownership of the copyright or granting the site a license that's overly broad (such as the right to use your pictures for their ads or other commercial purposes).

With all the ways that electronic photos can be lost or destroyed, it might not be such a bad idea to print hard copies of your most important photos, after all. But how do you do that? You can get a pretty decent print now with an inexpensive ink jet printer if you use paper especially made for photos, but you may find that it ends up costing a lot more than you anticipated, given the cost of color ink cartridges. Of course, there are many printers now that are made specifically for printing photos and these may give you better results. You can also take your photo files, on optical disc or memory card, to WalMart or Target or the local camera shop and have prints made. This may be the most cost effective alternative. If you're concerned about how long the prints last without fading, you may want to pay more for archival grade paper.

Tell us how you keep your favorite photos safe. Have you scanned all those "one of a kind" prints in your albums and boxes to preserve them for posterity? Do you back up your digital photos to several different locations, including at least one "off site" location? Have you automated the backup process or do you do it manually? How do you share photos with your friends and family? Do you email copies, put them on your own web site, publish them on a dedicated photo sharing site, create albums on a social networking site, or some/all of the above? Do you think the digitization of photography has, overall, resulted in better pictures or just more of them? Do you wonder whether your own kids will treasure those family photos as much as you did, now that they're mostly electronic images instead of paper prints? Tell us about your experiences and opinions at feedback@wxpnews.com

Follow-up: Our vulnerable Internet infrastructure

Last week's editorial addressed the vulnerability of our aging Internet infrastructure - to pranksters, terrorists, and even natural disasters - and how a widespread outage would affect us all, even those of us who may think we aren't very dependent on the Internet.

Many of our readers still don't really grasp it. George M. wrote that "Compared to other infrastructures, I consider loss of the Internet to be just an annoyance. I believe that anyone with high level knowledge of how something works could easily defeat it. The more significant infrastructures at risk I am thinking of include the nation's power grid, municipal water supplies and satellite communications." But my point is that these are becoming inextricably intertwined, so that a threat to the Internet can put the other infrastructures at risk, as well.

As John M. said, "Because of the use of the Internet, by government and private utilities, the impact of a large scale interruption would be felt within a couple of hours." And Ray L. summed it up nicely: "I think our communication systems are a lot like our financial systems. We won't realize how vulnerable they are until they collapse."

And Harvey C. notes that (as I mentioned in the original article) it's not just the Internet that's vulnerable: "Our entire communications infrastructure is just too vulnerable - there might be redundancy but there certainly is no reserve capacity. If the internet goes down, then you could always call someone, unless the physical infrastructure is the compromised item. However, if too many people try to use the phone system, it can get overloaded and you can't even get a dial tone. Then we would need to resort to Ham radio - how many businesses have access to that?

Many of you are directly, not just indirectly dependent on the 'Net. Michael P. wrote that "I do believe that we are very dependent on the internet and it has become woven into our everyday life. I know that if I would not be able to have my internet for more than half a day I would begin to lose touch with reality! Sad but true!"

And Kenneth F.'s situation is the same as that of many others these days: "Just how vulnerable the Internet is in its entirety, I could not say, but I can say how its breakdown would affect me. I'd be at considerable inconvenience, and I might be distressed as bill-payments become due. For paying my bills, I've made myself dependent on Internet funds transfers, primarily because of the unreliability of the USPS, these days. Yes, the Snail has lost checks, over a half-dozen times where I was in some way concerned ... On the few occasions when my own Internet service was down for a day or two, I was vexed by this, so, if a major Internet failure happened, I'd really be in a situation I don't desire."

Mark N. notes that "For direct effects, like my ISP going down, the negative impact is relatively unlikely, but has happened, but the Internet is not my only connection out, sometimes I don't even notice. As far as widespread outage, it could be mere seconds that would have a negative impact, but a lot of it would be timing. e.g. if I were in the middle of some banking operation and it went out, I would not know if it was accepted or not. Or, if I need to meet a deadline and possibly miss it if the Internet went out."

In some places, there is yet another motivation for causing an outage. Alain J. offers this perspective from South Africa: "We suffer from a situation where we have some first world and bleeding edge technology that is developed here in SA, along with the poverty that will drive people to desperate measures to survive. As an indication of the desperation, we have people who steal live high tension cables off the power lines. Clearly telecommunications are a whole lot safer to steal, and even though they are buried, it is quite easy to find a manhole, force it open, and attach a rope to the cable, and then to a truck, which is then driven off down the road, along with everyone's ADSL cables dangling behind it.

Paul H. brings up this very timely point: "as we see Windows as the most popular O/S for hackers and virus writers partly because of its popularity, might not cloud computing give the internet equal focus? Yes, taking the internet down today would severely damage communications and anybody who relies on the internet to communicate. But we would still have our data stored locally and could if pushed find other ways to communicate that data. If our data is in 'the cloud' and the 'net goes down not only do we not have access to it but it may actually be destroyed and unrecoverable."

And Jurriaan N. took this pragmatic approach: "Just simple, Murphy's Law: 'Everything that can happen will happen'. It is not a matter of maybe, it's a matter of when... So I keep my 56K modem near my good plain old wired telephone and I have some dry matches ready, near the blankets and the bucket with water."

Finally, there were a few responses from folks who don't think an Internet outage would necessarily be a bad thing. Paul L. wrote: "I wish they would bring down (at least the international part) of the internet. It cost me my job back in 2003. The software development company hired a firm in India to do all its development and laid off all the local programmers and development support staff. I ended up working in a gas station for the last 5 years because there is just no market for Mainframe Systems Programmers anymore."

And John S. said, "An Internet outage for a day or two would be awesome. Just think: time to eat, sleep, maybe even walk my dog."

Thank you to all who wrote on this topic!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called VistaNews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

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Quotes of the Week

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. - Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

I must govern the clock, not be governed by it. - Golda Meir (1898 - 1978)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


I need a REAL program for autofilling my passwords and shipping info - not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

If you have any iPod/iPhone device, this software is a 'must have' utility to keep your iPod/iPhone safe. Download the free trial version here.

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective

Turn your webcam into a CCTV with alarm and email notification! Try it before you buy it:

Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!

Vista gets bogged down very quickly! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

Backups? GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

Print Screen Deluxe is the realistic upgrade of the Windows version. You can crop - before the capture! Very quick!

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

XP to Windows 7 upgrade: possible after all?

Even though Microsoft doesn't offer a direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, there is a way migrate your desktop, preferences and application settings from XP to a new installation of Windows 7 - using the User State Migration Tool 2010. You can see a demo of the tool and read more about how it works here:

Next version of Firefox may not support early versions of XP

According to an article in Computerworld, when Mozilla releases its next major version of Firefox in 2010, it may not run on Windows 2000 or XP pre-SP3. So if you're one of the holdouts who's still running XP SP1 or SP2 and you're a fan of the Fox, get ready to update or upgrade. You can read more about it here:

Is your XP computer creating an unwanted ad hoc network?

If you're running XP on a wi-fi enabled laptop without the proper updates, your computer may be broadcasting an ad hoc network to other machines without your knowledge. There is a fix you can download, or you can turn off ad hoc networking. Find out more here:

Will Windows 7 upgrade apply to those who buy XP "downgrade" computers?

According to this ComputerWorld article, it's not just folks who buy a machine with Vista installed between June 2009 and January 2010 who will get free or discounted Windows 7 licenses - those who buy "factory downgraded" systems running XP during that timeframe will also be eligible for the Windows 7 upgrade option. You can read the full article here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to move an off-screen window back to your main monitor

If you turn off or unplug a secondary monitor while XP is running and there's an application window that was displayed on the secondary monitor, you may wonder how to get it back to the main screen. Here's the secret:
  1. Click the application in the taskbar to put the focus on it.
  2. Right click it in the taskbar and select Move
  3. Press the appropriate arrow key (Left or Right, depending on the direction in which you need to move the window to bring it back to the main monitor)
  4. Move your mouse or pointing device in the same direction, until it moves back into view on the main monitor.

 XP Security News

2008: It was a very good year (for malware)

Symantec has released its Internet Security Threat Report for 2008, which showed a 265% increase in malicious code threats in 2008 and a 31% increase in the number of computers infected with bots. Contrary to popular belief, this study shows that more attacks originate in the U.S. than anywhere else, while China had the largest number of bot-infected computers. You can read more about the report here:

 XP Question Corner

What's the easiest way to try Linux without giving up XP?

I have a computer running XP and I'm happy with it. I have an program that's for Linux and doesn't work on Windows, that I want to try. I'm trying to decide what's the easiest and cheapest way to run Linux (without giving up my XP). I don't want to spend the money to buy a second computer. If I install a dual boot, will the Linux boot program take over from XP's? Should I install a VM program and install Linux that way? Advice needed! - Kim T.

There are several different ways to accomplish what you want to do. Normally when you install Linux on a machine that's running Windows, the installer does install a Linux boot loader, but it's also possible to configure the Windows bootloader to boot a Linux partition. You can find out more about that here:

A disadvantage of dual booting is that you can only use one operating system at a time. When you're running Linux, you can't run XP, and vice versa. If you install virtualization software such as Virtual PC or VMWare in XP, then you can install Linux in a VM and run it in a window like other Windows applications.

Another way to run Linux as a Windows application is by using Portable Ubuntu. You don't even have to install it - you can put it on a flash drive and load it from that onto any XP machine. You can copy and paste between it and other applications you have running on XP. You can get it here:

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Windows stops responding when you click a large AVI file

If your CPU usage reading goes to 100% and you're unable to delete the file when you click a large .AVI file, you should first try the fix in KB article 822430. If that doesn't work, you can unregister the component, which will fix the problem (although this is not a supported technique). Find out more in KB article 555654 at

IE crashes when you browse certain web pages

If you find that Internet Explorer in XP SP 2 or SP3 crashes when you browse a web page that constantly fetches a recordset asynchronously and filters it at the same time from an instance of SQL Server, there is a hotfix available from Microsoft that addresses the problem. To find out how to get it, see KB article 959237 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

The Ultimate Troubleshooter: Possibly The Most Complete And Most Effective PC Tuning Program Ever Written

A staggering 65% of problems which a PC encounters (PC slowness, temporary freezes, full lockups, crashes, blue screens, sluggish behavior), whether in business or at home, are not caused by hardware problems, they are not caused by spyware, they are not caused by viruses - they are caused by background tasks belonging largely to legitimate and often well-known software you use every day! Do you know if all the tasks that eat up resources are really needed each time you boot up? Not as many as you might think! Are you confident enough to know which to kill off? Find out how you can safely get rid of some of these resource eating freeloaders.

 About WXPnews

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