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The Tech Report

Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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Our thoughts and prayers have been with the citizens of Japan after the terrible disaster they are working to overcome.

These trying times tend to bring out the best side of humanity; when it’s important we can and will give of ourselves to help those who truely need it. Sadly, these times can also bring out the worst side of people as well.

It pains me to say it, but when you or anyone else decides to donate to the relief fund for Japan it is vital that you make sure that the website is legitimate. There are always a few scammers looking to take advantage of any bad situation, and it can be easy to trick people into donating to a website that has nothing to do with Japan. When you decide to donate online, I would highly recommend doing so through this website: www.usaid.gov/japanquake.

There you will find a clear spot to click that will redirect you to an approved list of charities. Donating to these charities will ensure that your contributions will get where you want them to go. Keep in mind that this list provided by USAID is by no means the only option you have when it comes to donating. If you have another trusted organization of choice, feel free to donate to them.

As always, most phony websites will have a few tells.

First off, look for professionalism. A website that looks shoddy, and especially a website with a good amount of spelling or grammar mistakes is very suspicious. Next, look for any page that doesn’t have https:// in the address line (as opposed to http://) for the page where you are actually putting in your payment information.

As I’ve talked about previous, the “s” in https stands for secure. Any page that doesn’t use this when you are about to submit them financial information is almost certainly not a site you want to give your financial information to anyway.

Finally, try and make sure that you are actually on the website you think you are on. If you visit a website in an atypical way (like through an email link), it’s possible you are on a look-alike scam website.

If you have any reason to doubt that you are on the real thing, leave immediately and return the website the way you normally do.

Donating online isn’t riskfree, but please don’t let that deter you from doing so, especially when the need is so great.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@ gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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For any number of reasons, the time may come when you need a quick translation of a foreign language. Like almost any other task, the Internet has a way to translate for you.

While there are several different websites that offer translation services, the most well known is Google. Go to google.com and look to the right of the search bar to find an option called “Language Tools”. These features let you not only translate text from one language to another, but also directly translate web pages.

Unfortunately, these features aren’t quite perfect. While they do work, the translations tend to be slightly error prone.

To take a simple example, let’s take something simple, “This sentence was written in English”, and translate it into Spanish. The result is “Esta frase fue escrita en Inglés.”. Take that sentence, and translate it back into English and the result is, “This phrase was written in English”. Why the change in wording when we’re only translating back and forth?

Although online language translators are much better than they were even a few years ago, the occasional hiccup is still to be expected when using them. An English to Spanish or Spanish to English translation is by far the most common translation requested, and because of that demand the quality of those translations are focused on the most by developers. For more obscure languages, the minor errors swiftly begin to become larger.

Even for those common translations however, I would recommend against using an automatic online translator for anything where proper grammar, formality, or tone needs to be maintained. They are best used when you want to translate foreign text into something readable in a situation where you don’t need the fine details but instead just need to know the basics of what the text is trying to say.

For anything more complex or formal than that, a proof-reader (preferably a bi-lingual one) is the way to go. Just remember that these tools exist; there’s no need to get someone to spend time translating something for you if all you need is a rough idea of what the text says. An online translator service will probably do the job well enough.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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Some of us who have been using the Internet for a long time will remember AOL, one of the first paid Internet services. It was beyond huge in its day, but as the Internet developed and it became possible to buy faster and cheaper connections, AOL has taken a severe dive in subscribers.

A good deal of the current AOL subscribers only remain so because they are not aware of the superior options they have for both Internet connection purposes and e-mail accounts. Many of these subscribers continue to pay because they believe they will lose access to their AOL e-mail account if they don’t keep paying the subscription.

To make things completely clear, not only is there a difference between having an @aol e-mail address and paying for AOL’s Internet service, you do not have to pay AOL a dime to create and keep an @aol e-mail address.

To some this may sound obvious, but as of right now literally millions of people are still paying for AOL’s service when they already have a better connection through their phone or cable providers. If you are one of the people still paying for an AOL subscription, I urge you to make sure that you actually need it. If you already have a cable or DSL plan that gives you Internet access, then you can almost certainly do away with an AOL subscription.

And if the only reason you’re paying for an AOL subscription is to check email while using your better connection for browsing, you definitely don’t need the subscription.

The process of signing into an AOL account without using their client is actually very simple. Go to www.aol.com, click the Sign In button in the top right corner, put in your information and you have access.

Everything you can do through the AOL paid client can be done on their website, so the client, as well as the subscription, is only useful if you don’t have access to a better Internet connection. Don’t pay for something that you don’t need.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@ gmail.com.

Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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In older articles, I’ve mentioned the alternative Internet browsers Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Today I thought I’d talk about why you might want to use one of these browsers, or a completely different browser all together.

Worldwide, Internet Explorer is easily the most used Internet browser, mainly due to availability. On every new PC it already comes pre-installed, meaning most people begin their Internet experience with Internet Explorer and never even consider a different browser. Recently however, Internet’s Explorer’s dominance has been challenged by Firefox. While IE will likely continue to hold on to the top position in the forseeable future because of dominant user shares in countries like South Korea and especially China, Firefox is and will continue to make gains globally. The other browser I mentioned, Google Chrome, has been on an even swifter rise in popularity in the past two years. Released in 2008, Chrome is a simple and easy browser to use, which may have had something to use with the swift growth of it’s usage share.

So why should you switch to them? One of the best reasons is customization ability. Both Firefox and Chrome supports user created and approved add-ons or extensions which are made to make your browsing experience more enjoyable. The most popular extensions for both browsers tend to make small but useful changes like making text links clickable instead of having to copy and paste them into an address bar.

Another reason to consider switching is security. Of the three browsers I’ve spoken of, Internet Explorer is widely considered to be the least secure of the three. To this day, several versions of Internet Explorer, not only older versions but the most recent, have many unaddressed security concerns of various severity. What may be cause for even greater concern is that while IE does fix the major security concerns, their response time in such a problem is abysmal. They can take months, while Firefox and Chrome have been shown to take days.

The biggest reason people prefer alternate browsers though is speed. Firefox and Chrome are both provably faster at loading web pages than IE. Chrome, in fact, is built around being simple, fast, and lightweight (doesn’t use as much memory as other browsers, Firefox is a notorious memory hog). No one likes waiting around for a web page to load, so even if you think you’re satisfied with the speed of whatever you are using now, don’t be afraid to try a different browser and see if you like it better. Most modern browsers have a way to transfer settings and favorites between browsers, so switching is as fast as installing the browser and making a few clicks.

Regardless of whether you decide to change browsers or not, it is extremely important that you keep your browser updated! This is especially important if you are using Internet Explorer, although it applies to any browser. Keeping your Internet browser updated is another simple way to reduce security vulnerability, and it will definitely give you a smoother browsing experience.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@ gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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It’s the holidays, and with the season of giving comes a possibility of new electronics, or more specifically a new computer. Getting a new computer is always nice since computers age much more quickly than almost anything else (ten years or older is beyond ancient in computer terms). Having a faster machine with more space is incredibly helpful for any user.

At the same time, there may be a little apprehension about starting from scratch with a new computer. It can be a bit of a hassle to set it up; but even more important is that many people have their current computer set up exactly how they like it. They don’t want to change how their computer works, even if that change will also make it run better.

I’m going to talk about some methods to ease the transition shock when it comes to setting up a new computer. Often a complete transfer of everything on the old computer isn’t necessary. You should have all the CDs or keys that were used to install programs on the old computer, reinstalling them on the new computer works just as well as transferring all the files. In many cases this will be a requirement, especially if the new computer has a different operating system. This can take a bit of time, especially if the program requires an online installation as opposed to an installation from a CD, but a fresh install is never a bad idea.

Some programs will have specific settings or files that don’t come with installation. The most common one would be Internet browser settings. If a browser is installed on a new computer, it won’t have your Favorite websites, saved passwords, and other similar information. If you’ve spent time building these things up and have gotten used to having them, losing all of it can be unacceptable. Luckily, most, if not all, browsers have a way for the user to create a file that has all of these settings saved (this is typically called Exporting). This option is typically found in the Favorites area; if you can’t find it, or are having trouble, a quick Google search should provide easy instructions. Other programs might have a similar way to export your settings.

Exported files like the ones described above, along with personal files, must all be transferred from the old computer to the new, and there are a few different ways to do this. If the files don’t take up that much memory, putting them on something like a CD or flash drive is the easiest way to transfer the files. It’s also possible to put the files online on the old computer, and download them with the new one. However, when the files that need to be transferred start taking up a lot of memory (something like a medium to large photo album), these methods will be harder to use since they come with a set maximum size. Multiple transfers can be done, but that is tedious and can become messy.

When files that take up a larger amount of memory than portable devices or free online services can handle need to be transferred, there are still some other options. If possible, getting both of the computers on the same local network allows for easy transfer (though it can take time).

Alternatively, use of an external hard drive can make the smaller transfers described above, or even a full transfer, quick and easy.

Those are the basics for getting important files and settings information from an old computer to a new one, next week we will look at ways to do the same, except with a full transfer instead of a partial one.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@ gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

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