Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fighting Unknown Problems

Hardware problems are quite difficult to tackle, worse if under Windows. There was once when installing a software, I accidentally inserted the Audio hardware diskette. Thinking it was harmless, I went on, thinking I can always "undo" everything again. How wrong was I. The next moment I restarted Windows, I got the blue screen of death. Yeah, Windows is very nasty when it comes to hardware.

Find The Culprit

Always calm down. Try to solve the problem yourself before resolving to formatting or sending to your computer dealer. First, know what's happening and the cause of it. In my case, the installation must have overwrite my old setting and replaced the wrong file. There must be a reason why Windows is acting improperly.

Logging Back On

First, try to log back on. If you can't log into Windows, don't panic. Restart the computer. When the text "Starting Windows 98..." appears, press F8. A menu will appear. Choose "Safe Mode" to continue. Safe mode will take some time to load. When you are in Windows, go to Control Panel, System. Click on the Device Manager tab. Find the faulty hardware driver and delete it. Open autoexec.bat and config.sys (both are hidden files in your root directory) with notepad. If the hardware is a CD-ROM or sound card, it will probably write add some lines. Check whether there are backup file (autoexec.bak, autoexec.b~k e.g.) since most installation will back up the 2 important files. If there is, simply replace them with the backup files. If there isn't, put "REM " in front of every line that loads the hardware.


When you restart, your computer is probably ok, since you have deleted all instances of the hardware drivers. But the hardware isn't functioning. re-install the hardware drivers, restart and you're done! If the problem persists, your probably have a system conflict go to the next page for more.

How to change the windows default identity?

In windows XP, you can change the windows default identity (Computer Manufacturer Logo and other information's) and share your own private identity there. First you right click on My Computer then click on Properties, here may be you will see computer manufacture logo or empty area. So add your own logo there to make your computer more private.

Follow the given steps to change the system default Properties identity:

First click on Start button and type notepad in Run option then press Enter.

Now type the following text in notepad.
Model="All about computer and phone"
[Support Information]
Line1="We offer various topics including computer tips and tricks, troubleshooting"
Line2="Visit daily for new topics ""

There are some standard keywords, for example Manufacturer, Model, Line 1, Line 2; you can not change these keywords. Now save this notepad file in c:/windows/system32 folder with file name, OEMINFO.INI.

Now choose your favorite picture to set as logo, using any picture editor resize the picture size approx. 150X150 pixels then save it in c:/windows/system32 folder with file name OEMLOGO.BMP.

Now close the all files and restart your computer after any changes to go into effect. To verify these changes, right click on My Computer and open Properties.

Under General tab, verify the system properties with new settings.

Now click on Support Information for more detail.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

How to protect your document against unwanted changes?

You can protect your document by enabling the option "Protect Document". You can easily track any changes that were made in your document by any unauthorized users. The system shows that text in red color, if any one makes changes.

To enable the Protect document option, follow the given steps:

First open any word file then click on Tools in menu bar.

In Tools menu bar, click on "Protect Document". A window will open with many options to protect your important document for
  • Tracked changes
  • Comments
  • Forms
Tracked changes means, you can track any changes that was made by any unauthorized user. The system shows that text in red color, if any one makes changes in your document.
Comments options allow the user to put in comment for that document.
Forms option allows the user to edit the forms in the document.

You can choose any one option to restrict the user. You can use the "Password (optional)" option to lock or unlock the document.

To protect your document, type a new password here then word will open "Confirm Password" dialog box for the confirmation of passwords. The maximum length of password is 15 characters.

Press Ok button to finish the process.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How to hide computer drives to secure data?

This tip is very useful for home users, particularly for those who wants to hide/secure there important data from other users. You can hide any specific local drive or all drives (physical and removable) of the system and network drives also. By disabling the display of drives, you can safe your personal data from non-technical users on a single computer.

Follow the given steps to change the system drives registry value:
  • To use this feature, you will need to be logged into your computer with administrative rights.
  • Click Start button and type regedit in Run option then press Enter for next.

Here locate the location to:

· HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion \Policies\Explorer

· Here in right side panel, right click to create a new DWORD value with name NoDrives (it is case sensitive), then assign number to its value data box.

· Now if you want to hide all system drives then modify value data to 3FFFFFF.

· For specific drive use values (For example, for A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H drives, the values are 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and 128 respectively). · In this case we are trying to hide F drive, so we modify the value data box to 32.

· Now close the registry editor and restart your computer after any changes to go into effect. · But next time, if you want to unhide this drive then simply change the value data box or delete the DWORD item. Again close the registry editor and restart your computer after any changes to go into effect.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cognos puts BI on Nokia and Windows Mobile phones

(IDG News Service) -- Cognos Inc. said today that its Cognos 8 Go Mobile business intelligence (BI) software now supports Windows Mobile 6 smart phones, as well as Nokia Corp. E-series and N-series devices running S60 Third Edition on the Symbian operating system.

The software works with Cognos' core BI system and can automatically reformat reports for various types of devices.

The Ottawa-based company had already developed support for Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry smart phones.

Cognos' move to support more mobile platforms is logical, according to David O'Connell, an analyst at Nucleus Research Inc. in Wellesley, Mass.

"They're going mobile. They've been doing it for a while," O'Connell said. "Basically, the more platforms you can put BI on, the more people you have adopting it, so there's more ROI [return on investment]."

Anastasia Valentine, product manager at Cognos, said the company made the new clients in response to market interest. Customer interest in Windows Mobile 6 centered in the U.S. and the Asian-Pacific region, while European customers wanted support for Nokia devices, she said.

While the new products are fine-tuned for each platform, they are identical in features to the BlackBerry client, according to Valentine.

Support for one of this year's hottest mobile devices, Apple Inc.'s iPhone, isn't yet on Cognos' docket.

Despite the iPhone's explosive popularity, its immediate value to enterprises has been questioned. Forrester Research Inc. recently issued a report listing reasons why IT departments shouldn't support it, at least for now. Those warnings include the device's lack of support for push e-mail and its cost, Forrester said.

Valentine said Cognos isn't seeing much customer demand for iPhone support, adding that the company is also keeping an eye on Google Inc.'s Android mobile development platform.

A "starter pack" for Cognos' mobile BI software, which includes a server-based license, licenses for 25 users and one year of support, costs $31,000, Valentine said.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Personal and Family uses of VOIP

Today, VOIP is not an unknown word for the people. People around the globe are looking towards this option of communication. No, doubt, today it’s being used broad only for the business purpose, but the time is not farther when it will become first choice of the people, all over the globe. Actually, VOIP is the short form of Voice over Internet Protocol, which allows people to communicate on phone through internet.

VOIP technology has totally changed the communication world. Some of the people think it is good for the large businesses, which need several long distance calls regularly, but the fact, probably they don’t know that, not only small businesses are getting the advantage of VOIP, but it has also much benefit for those, who want to use it personally and for family; and those, who know, are not having information enough about what they have to do. Here it is in brief, what and how VOIP provides:

o No matter, where you are in whole world; if you have VOIP technology, you are always close to your family. VOIP will never let you feel that you are living apart. Whenever, you wish you can have a chat as long as you want, because VOIP is an internet service, which requires no extra charge. Once you have brought just you need to pay your monthly internet fees. With other old phone services, you are not free; the huge bills will accost you to do so.

o If your children or friends are out of country because of any reason, either it is study or business purpose, you don’t need to miss them, when and how long you wish, they will be in your touch.

o It may be much helpful in distance learning. Whether it is meeting, or any other situation, which needs you to be gathered, now can handle without being together. VOIP has a great facility, which lets you talk with many people together.

o Except these, what facilities usually people expect to have with old phone service at additional charges, are given as common with VOIP.

These are some points which indicate the importance of VOIP and tell you how and how much you can save. Now here is what you are required to do to get the best VOIP service:

o First step is to buy a high speed internet in order to get fast and fine service. Normal connection is unable to run this.

o Second expense, you have to make to purchase a gateway or, if you want to use your current phone, adaptor; which makes link between internet and your phone.

o Last and common step, you know very well, is only to shop around. This will give you best VOIP service at reasonable price.

VOIP is a very modern telecommunication tool, which is brought the people very close to each other. You can talk to the person face to face (through video phones), who is thousands of miles far from you. So, it’s not bad idea to buy VOIP for using personally.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

[Photoshop] Make Glossy Text

In this Adobe Photoshop video tutorial I will show you how easy it is to make a web 2.0 graphic element. It tutorial was actually improvised, I opened Photoshop and started drawing and adding effects. Its not the most challenging and advanced effect, but I think it sums up a lot of issues concerning how to make a simple web 2.0 graphic element.

Here is the final result.

Start by making a rectangle selection over the stage as shown below, then fill it with a random color (it will be changed later).

Now in the layers panel, double click the new shape layer to get to the layers style panel and give it styles as shown below.

Now put in your text on top of the rectangle shape in a separate layer, I choose to put in two X's (Don't ask why).
For the shape of text you put in, double click the layer to get to the styles panel and give it settings as shown below.

Make a new layer above all other layers and name it reflection, then hold down ctrl key and click the first rectangle shape layer to load the shape selection. Now with the selection tool subtract from selection as shown below.

Now make a gradient going from white to transparent color and apply it to the selection so you get a result like below.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

[Flash] Animated Roll On/Off Menu

  1. The first step is to create an image to use for the menu. This image can be made in Photoshop
  2. Open flash and import the menu_img button. (File > Import > Import to library) and select the image.
  3. In the library you will find the image you just imported. Drag the image to the stage. On the TIMELINE, rename the layer for the button you're going to create (for instance, if you're going to make this a home page buttons, rename the layer "home"). Repeat until you have all the buttons you want on the stage and on their own layer.
  4. Once you have the buttons named and ready, its time to convert them to movie clips. Select the first image and convert it into a movie clip (Modify > Convert to symbol > Movie clip) and name each movie clip.
  5. Once you have converted the images to movie clips, we must give each clip and INSTANCE NAME. To do this, find the instance name box just below the stage to the left. Make sure you give each clip a different instance name (in this example, we named the home button "home_mc").
  6. Once all your buttons have been given distinct instance names, its time to get busy creating the fun stuff. Double clicking the "home" button will let you work inside the home movie clip. Once inside the movie clip, the button image will be on layer 1. Rename this layer "image" and create 3 new layers above the "image" layer. Starting with the top layer, rename them "actions", "over", and "text".
  7. First we will add the moving white box. Working on the "over" layer, use the Rectangle tool to create a white box with the same dimensions as the button image. Move the box up so that it is off the stage and immediately above the menu image. Now select the image and convert this box to a GRAPHIC and rename it "white_over_gf". With the white box graphic selected, change the opacity of it by going down to the COLOR drop down and select ALPHA and change the alpha % to 35%.
  8. Next we will add the text to the button. On the TEXT layer, type in whatever you wish for your button. Then convert this newly created text to a MOVIE CLIP.
  9. Next we need to add KEYFRAMES to our button timeline. To place a keyframe, select the frame you wish to place it and either INSERT > TIMELINE > KEYFRAME. Add keyframes to the frame 1 and 7 on the ACTIONS, OVER, and TEXT layers and on the 12th frame of the TEXT and OVER layers. Next, add a regular frame on the 12th frame of the IMAGE and ACTIONS layer. (to add a regular frame, highlight the frame you wish and Insert > Timeline > Frame).
  10. Now we are going to add some STOP actions to the 1st and 7th frame of the ACTIONS layer. On the 1st keyframe in the ACTIONS layer, open the actions window (Windows > Actions). Once open, type "stop();" Repeat this action for both frames. Once you have finished, there will be a small "a" in both keyframes.
  11. Now we are going to add some motion to the over box. Select the keyframe on frame 7 of the OVER layer. Using the cursor, move the white box down so that it matches up perfect over the menu image. Next, select the keyframe on frame 12 of the OVER layer, and cursor that white box so that it is directly below the menu image. Select the space between frame 1 and 7 on the OVER layer. In the properties panel bottom, select MOTION from the drop down box next to TWEEN. An arrow should appear in the timeline between the keyframes. Repeat this for the space between keyframes 7 and 12 on the OVER layer.
  12. Almost done! Now go back to the main timeline by clicking the "Scene 1" icon. Create a new layer above all the buttons and name this layer "overs". On this new layer, use the RECTANGLE tool to create a rectangle that matches the dimensions of the menu_img.jpg graphic. Convert this new rectangle to a BUTTON.
  13. Set the ALPHA of the button to 0% so that it is transparent. Repeat this until all the movie clips have buttons over them.
  14. Now, with the transparent button selected, open the Actions window and add the following actionscript to the button:
  15. That's it! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Viruses - What They Are And One Reason Why People Make Them

Over recent years, computers have become synonymous with viruses and viruses don't show any signs of disappearing any time soon. In recent news, reported that "Before the month is even done, April has set a record for virus e-mails."1 In the past, we would be comfortable in telling new computer users not to worry about viruses and that catching a computer virus is rare. Today, that would be some of the worst advice we could give anyone. As reported in countless news reports, computer viruses are rampant and they're extremely worrisome. This article will describe what viruses are and then point you in the direction of some rather unique protection and prevention.

In short, a computer virus is a software program designed to destroy or steal data. It attacks computers via distribution - often unknowingly - through email attachments, software downloads, and even some types of advanced web scripting. Viruses that destroy data are known as Trojan horses, viruses that explode their attacks are called bombs, and viruses that duplicate themselves are called worms. Some viruses are a combination of each, however they can be further identified according to where they're located on a computer.

A virus originating from the boot sector of a computer is a boot-sector virus and this nasty devil does its dirty work the moment a computer is turned on. A virus that attaches itself to (infects) other programs is a file virus and activates the moment that an infected program starts. File viruses may also be referred to as parasitic viruses, however should a virus work from both the boot-sector and from an infected program, the virus is then known as a multipartite virus.

Why viruses exist remains a mystery, however we had privy access to the mind behind a virus programmer who explained his motivation behind his destructive inclinations. Apparently, this person had a deep grudge against a popular online service which shall remain unnamed. In this hacker's mind, the online service failed to do a quality job in protecting children from online smut and as retaliation, he created and distributed a virus to as many file libraries of this service as he could. His intentions were to disable the computers of the online service's users so much that they wouldn't be able to connect for days. In his mind, the loss of connection meant loss of revenue for the online service.

Although the malicious code that this person generated may have worked for a small percentage of users, sufficed to say, the online service continued on and still exists today. Despite his motivation or intention, his efforts were null.

We wouldn't be surprised to learn if other motivations behind spreading viruses were similar to this person's, but that doesn't justify the damage that viruses do. Innocent people become pawns for the evil plans of others who've convinced themselves they're doing the "right" thing.

To protect a computer from getting a virus, or clean a virus from a computer system once infected requires the use of an antivirus utility. But may be something else we can do. Perhaps we could make an effort to educate the people who want put viruses into the public about ways to display dissatisfaction with a service or product that don't involve harming innocent parties. In doing so, we just might reduce the number of virus news stories and protect our own investments at the same time.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) Configuration


A-CISCO#configure terminal

A-CISCO (config)#isdn switch-type basic-net3

A-CISCO (config)# dialer-list 1 protocol ip permit

A-CISCO (config)#interface bri0

A-CISCO (config-if)#ip address

A-CISCO (config-if)#encapsulation ppp

A-CISCO (config-if)#dialer-group 1

A-CISCO (config-if)#dialer map ip 2451458

A-CISCO (config-if)#dialer idle-timeout 180


B-CISCO#configure terminal

B-CISCO (config)#isdn switch-type basic-net3

B-CISCO (config)# dialer-list 1 protocol ip permit

B-CISCO (config)#interface bri0

B-CISCO (config-if)#ip address

B-CISCO (config-if)#encapsulation ppp

B-CISCO (config-if)#dialer-group 1

B-CISCO (config-if)#dialer map ip 2051458

B-CISCO (config-if)#dialer idle-timeout 180

Current Configuration


version 12.0

service timestamps debug uptime

no service password-encryption


hostname A-CISCO


enable password cisco


isdn switch-type basic-net3


interface BRI 0

ip address

encapsulation ppp

dialer map ip 2451458

dialer group 1

dialer idle-timeout 180


dialer-list 1 protocol ip permit


line con 0


Current Configuration


version 12.0

service timestamps debug uptime

no service password-encryption


hostname B-CISCO


enable password cisco


isdn switch-type basic-net3


interface BRI 0

ip address

encapsulation ppp

dialer map ip 2051458

dialer group 1


dialer-list 1 protocol ip permit


line con 0

transport input none

line aux 0

line vty 0 4

no login



Monday, December 10, 2007

How to speed up your slow internet connection?

Today a special tip for those who are still using any slow dial-up internet connection due to unavailability of any broadband connection in their area. The Web Accelerator application designed to provide the full acceleration for your routine web sites browsing. With the help of Web Accelerator you can browse your internet 4 to 6 times faster than normal dial-up connection. Basically this services compressing the website text data, images and heavy graphics to open or download this data with high speed.

This technique is more useful for static websites and for email applications but don't accelerate with secure and downloading audio or video files. Some good web accelerator retains your system cache to reuse websites with faster speed and can also block windows pop-up. If you are using FTP sites and downloading any program using dial-up, then web accelerator is not for you. There are various web accelerator software are free available on internet, visit and download it to enjoy your connection.

Friday, December 7, 2007

How to solve low memory problems?

Normally this warning message shows when you run many programs same time than the RAM installed on your computer is designed to support. Your can solve this problem by increasing the system paging file size also called as virtual memory. Using this virtual memory windows moving information to and from the paging file for fast processing. This will free up enough RAM for other programs to run properly.

To increase the system page file follow the give path:

Control Panel > System > Advanced > Click on Settings (Under Performance) > Advanced > Change

Here under Drive (Volume label), you have option to select any of your hard disk drive, but the best choice is, select any drive other than C drive for virtual memory.

Set the double Initial & Maximum Size of your Virtual Memory. Here set initial size 700 MB and maximum size up to 1000MB; you can change this size according to the free space available on your hard drive.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

How to detect viruses in a computer using multiple antivirus engines

Virus detection and its removal are made through an antivirus program which finds out viruses in a computer and then possibly removes or repairs the virus problem. But today an interesting tip, how to scan your system without any installed antivirus program. You can scan any specific file for viruses, malware, worms and trojans on your system without any preloaded antivirus protection.

VirusTotal is a free service that facilitates you for quick scan to detect viruses, malware, worms and trojans. VirusTotal will analyze your system files using multiple antivirus engines. VirusTotal is not a proper substitute of installed antivirus program, because this service works only when you will be connected to internet.

Now open the VirusTotal site to start scan process.

Now under the "Upload the file" section, click on browse button to select the virus affected file and press "Send File" button.

Here VirusTotal will takes some time to upload file (depends upon the file size and internet speed).

Now scanning process will be started to scan affected file.

It will again takes some time to scan affected file using latest antivirus version and gives you detailed results from each antivirus engine with statistics.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cell phone battery didn't kill S. Korean worker, LG says

A South Korean construction worker who was reported to have been killed by an exploding cell phone battery was actually killed in an industrial accident, South Korean news reports and cell phone maker LG Electronics Inc. said today.

The unnamed worker was found dead Wednesday with a melted cell phone in his breast pocket. Initial reports quoted police as saying they presumed the death was due to the cell phone battery exploding.

The initial reports "led to the unfair assumption by the media and the general public that an LG product was somehow the cause of this tragedy. This undeservedly damaged the company's reputation for more than a day," cell phone maker LG Electronics said in a statement.

The story made headlines worldwide in part because several companies have had to recall batteries in recent years because of defects that could cause the batteries to explode and injure users. Earlier this year, the world's biggest cell phone maker, Nokia Corp., issued an advisory about faulty batteries in some of its phones. It offered to replace about 46 million Nokia-branded BL-5C batteries because they could short-circuit and overheat while recharging.

In South Korea, news media reports today said the death of the quarry worker was an industrial accident. The Chosun Ilbo and Yonhap News reported the man was hit by a co-worker driving a backhoe.

The Korea Times said the phone may have caught on fire as a result of the heavy impact with the backhoe.

The Importance Of Backup in Our Life

If you are new computer user first you should learn about the importance and need of back up. Because without backup yon can lose your data any time due to any virus, power failure and hard disk problem. This has happened to many people. In extreme cases, it has put companies out of business. Computers are becoming more and more reliable. This creates a false sense of security - we begin to think all our data are safe and secure and will never go away. It's not true - and never will be. If you don't back up your computer system regularly. Backups are really a necessity, and you are responsible for making backups of your files.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cell phone death in S. Korea a ruse

SEOUL -- South Korean police said what they thought had been a death caused by an exploding mobile phone was actually a ruse by a co-worker to cover up an accidental vehicular homicide.

Police and a doctor who examined the body of a 33-year-old quarry worker had said on Thursday the victim was found dead with a burning mobile phone stuck to his chest and they were looking into whether he was killed by an exploding battery.

"The co-worker confessed to us last night [Thursday] that he had actually hit him by accident and lied about the mobile phone exploding," said an official with the Cheongju Heungdeok police station, about 60 miles southeast of Seoul.

The co-worker confessed to police that he pinned the victim to a rock face while backing up a construction vehicle.

Police are investigating whether the phone caught fire because of intense pressure or if the co-worker set it ablaze, local media reported.

The victim, who was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital, had burns on his chest, fractured ribs and internal bleeding, the doctor said.

Earlier today, police said the construction worker was killed in an industrial accident, when he was struck by a backhoe, according to South Korean news reports and cell phone maker LG Electronics.

In a statement, LG Electronics said earlier reports that the phone in the accident was made by LG "led to the unfair assumption by the media and the general public that an LG product was somehow the cause of this tragedy. This undeservedly damaged the company's reputation for more than a day," the cell phone maker said.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How to backup of your computer installed drivers?

You can easily create the backup of your computer installed drivers (just the particular or all drivers) and use it to troubleshoot any driver problems. This backup will be very useful when you will format your computer window due to any reason. There is no need to search the drivers from internet or drivers CD, just import the driver backup and within five minute, you will complete the driver installation process. You can move this backup from one computer to other computer for installation.

To complete the all process, we will use a simple tool called drivermex. Using this tool, we can easily export the backup of any specific or all drivers and then import it for reinstallation later or elsewhere. You can free download (with free registration code) this tool for windows XP and Vista also. Download it and run the easy setup.

After Installation launch drivermex, the first screen you will get with title “Drivermex - Version” and options “Export drivers, Import drivers and Installed drivers report”. Just click on “Export Driver” option to start backup process.

Now after welcome screen, system will take few seconds to create the list of all installed drivers and then show you all installed drivers list.

Here you can select any specific device driver or click on “Select all” button to create the backup of entire installed drivers.

Press the Next button and in next screen you can select the export type (simple backup or in zip format) and then choose the backup location (always choose drive other than C drive).

Again press the Next and system will take some time (depend upon the size of your drivers) to finish exporting the selected drivers.

Click the “Open extraction folder “button to view the backup files or press Close button to finish it.

Now you can use this backup files (using import option) to restore drivers backup or move to any other computer. Copy the Following link to download it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

How to change the boot Time in window XP?

You can set the boot time in windows XP as your wish if you are install two operating systems on same computer, for example window 2000 with windows XP or more than two. Yow can do this with editing Boot.ini file. Here you can also set the sequence for operating system which operating system boot first.

First Right Click on My Computer option and then select its Properties. In next dialog box open Advanced tab button. Under Startup and Recovery, click on the Settings button. Use the spin box "Time to display list of operating systems" to set the number of seconds you want the system to wait before automatically starting the default operating system. Here you will set time in seconds and its range start from 0 and ends with 999 seconds.

After set the time, then click OK option to close the dialog box to save your change. The next time you restart, the new time will take effect.

New PARC software turns a cell phone into a personal assistant

Ever wish you had a personal assistant? Someone who could recommend a good restaurant when you're traveling to a new city? Someone who could give you a list of shops where you might find that perfect gift?

In a few years, that personal assistant just might be your own cell phone.

Engineers at Palo Alto Research Center Inc. (PARC) have developed software that they say can make recommendations about local restaurants, concerts, shopping areas and other activities based on the time of day, the user's physical location and the user's personal tastes. The researchers aim to let the software, called Magitti, turn a cell phone into a personal assistant of sorts.

"We're trying to make [the cell phone] more like a human," said Victoria Bellotti, a principal scientist at PARC. "Instead of just directing stuff at you, it tries to make inferences about what kind of activity you're engaged in. On a Sunday afternoon, it might suggest going to a park or a gallery. It will learn patterns based on what you tend to show an interest in. It looks at things like where you go, what recommendations you liked. It's like having a companion with you."

PARC is researching and developing the software on behalf of a Japanese company, Dai Nippon Printing Co. Bellotti said PARC already tried the software out on users in the Palo Alto, Calif., area, and it will have its first official trial run in Japan next spring. She added that it is tentatively slated for release during 2009.

Bellotti said the software focuses on five different activity modes: eating, shopping, seeing, doing and reading. The software, in essence, learns from the user. What does he like to do on Friday nights? What types of restaurants does he prefer when he's out of town? Where does he like to shop on Sundays? Magitti will offer suggestions to users based on the answers to such questions.

"It doesn't directly know anything except the time and location and how you interact with it," explained Bellotti. "It provides a list of recommendations. It will give you a wide range of what would be in a city guide. You get a big list and then you can ask to see more details. Then it can show you where these things are on a map. If it realizes you are shopping, it will offer you information to make it easier."

Bellotti said the software uses artificial intelligence algorithms that make inferences about what the user is doing by comparing the GPS location of, say a restaurant he frequents for brunch, with a database of eateries. Based on the knowledge the Magitti accumulates, recommendations will change, and hopefully become more honed, over time.

Don't like what the software is giving you for options? Say no and redirect it by doing a search for something different, she added. The software also learns by what users dismiss.

"Our hope is that over time, it will get more and more clever using your past behaviors to know you better and know your preferences better," said Bellotti. "Eventually, it will know that you will generally want a restaurant recommendation at 9 o'clock at night. It will know you want to go hear music on a Friday night. You have a routine. There are times you go to the gym. There are times you want to do something different."

Microsoft confirms that XP contains random number generator bug

Windows XP, Microsoft Corp.'s most popular operating system, sports the same encryption flaws that Israeli researchers recently disclosed in Windows 2000, Microsoft officials confirmed late Tuesday.

The researchers, Benny Pinkas from the University of Haifa and two Hebrew University graduate students, Zvi Gutterman and Leo Dorrendorf, reverse-engineered the algorithm used by Windows 2000's pseudo-random number generator (PRNG), then used that knowledge to pick apart the operating system's encryption. Attackers could exploit a weakness in the PRNG, said Pinkas and his colleagues, to predict encryption keys that would be created in the future as well as reveal the keys that had been generated in the past.

As recently as last Friday, Microsoft hedged in answering questions about whether XP and Vista could be attacked in the same way, saying only that later versions of Windows "contain various changes and enhancements to the random number generator." Yesterday, however, Microsoft responded to further questions and acknowledged that Windows XP is vulnerable to the complex attack that Pinkas, Gutterman and Dorrendorf laid out in their paper, which was published earlier this month.

Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and the not-yet-released Windows Server 2008, however, apparently use a modified or different random number generator; Microsoft said they were immune to the attack strategy.

In addition, Microsoft said Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), a major update expected sometime in the first half of 2008, includes fixes that address the random number generator problem.

Microsoft and Pinkas have argued over whether the flaw was a security vulnerability, with the former denying the bug met the definition and the latter claiming it is a serious problem that -- while it needs to piggyback on another, more common kind of exploit -- is far from just a theoretical threat.

Tuesday, even as it conceded that XP also had a weak PRNG, Microsoft continued to downplay the possibility of an attack. "If an attacker has already compromised a victim machine, a theoretical attack could occur on Windows XP," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail. To exploit the PRNG's flaws, an attacker must have administrative rights to the PC, something that's easily obtained by most run-of-the-mill attacks, Pinkas noted.

Previously, Microsoft had used that prerequisite to reject any claim that Windows 2000 contained the security vulnerability, since Pinkas' proposed attack could not accomplish anything on its own. Microsoft stuck to that position with XP. "Because administrator rights are required for the attack to be successful, and by design, administrators can access all files and resources on a system, this is not inappropriate disclosure of information," the company spokeswoman added.

Newer operating systems, however, are completely in the clear. "Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 SP2 are not affected by the type of attack Pinkas describes," said the spokeswoman.

Pinkas applauded Microsoft's decision to patch Windows XP. "We're happy to learn that Microsoft is acknowledging that our attack is indeed an issue, and will fix it in XP SP3."

While Microsoft said it will fix the PRNG in Windows XP, it remained mute about patching the flaw in Windows 2000. The aging operating system, which, according to a recent survey by Forrester Research Inc., still powers approximately 9% of all American and European business computers, is in the last stages of support. In that phase, dubbed "extended support," Microsoft is committed to providing only security updates free of charge.

Because the company has determined that the PRNG problem is not a security vulnerability, it is unlikely to provide a patch.