Categories
Gadgets

Western Digital EX2 Network Attached Storage – A Review

My plan was to pick up the 4 bay option of Western Digital’s (WD) Network Attached Storage (NAS), the EX4. With this option, i would have a storage device that can accomodate 4 hard disk drives. However, budget considerations made me settle for the 2 bay option, the EX2.

What Are Network Attached Storages (NAS)?

NAS are usually compact enclosures that are fitted with multiple hard drives. But unlike your regular hard drives, your NAS has the following additional features;

  1. Generally, such devices can be controlled via a web interface, like your router, giving you a centralized dashboard to monitor your storage (Health, shares, usage, etc).This web interface masks the powerful Linux Operating systems that the NAS rides on.
  2. The NAS is connected to a Wired or Wireless network, making the hard drives accessible to all devices (Computers, Tablets, Smartphones) on the network.
  3. You have an option to limit access to the NAS to your local network or you can access it over the Internet. Think of your own personal dropbox.
  4. You can then access the files using a variety of different applications and even run different bits of software on the NAS itself, such as media-server solutions for streaming media (Music, Video or pictures) to the different devices on your network and BitTorrent clients for downloading directly on the device. Many types of back-up software can back up directly to the network storage.
  5. Most have a bunch of one-click installable apps (WordPress, Joomla, Dropbox, etc) that can transform your NAS to your website host.
  6. For small businesses, it can serve as a central storage for your files and allows for collaboration. You could also set up your company Intranet on it.
  7. They have slots for multiple hard drives; 3.5″, 2.5″ or both.

91APo+MU3yL._SL1500_Why Western Digital EX2?

What differentiates one NAS from the other include the following;

  1. Ease of use. As this device is targetted at the Home and Small Business audience who have limited technology skills, effort is put into making these devices as easy and intuitive as possible to use, particularly the embedded Operating System.
  2. Quality of the Hardware
  3. Cost
  4. Availability of third party apps

The WD EX2 excels in (almost) all these. But i must quickly note that, at the moment, third party apps for this device are very, very few.

I picked up the diskless variant from Amazon for about $160 and it arrived within 3 days. It is a 2-bay NAS and it allows a maximum of 2 drives in its enclosure. As of June 2015, current firmware supports a maximum capacity of 6TB for a single drive for this NAS, making a maximum of 12TB for the 2 bays in its enclosure. However, i picked up a single 4TB drive for about $160, hoping to pick up another as soon as the drive fills up.

Please note that while your regular computer hard drives will work in your NAS, there are drives that are specially built to work with them because of their peculiarities. Western Digital calls theirs WD Red. Hard disks stacked close to each other in a NAS will be subject to more heat and vibration as they chug away than they would in a desktop tower, so the Red series have hardware-based vibration compensation technology to improve long-term reliability when used in arrays of between two and eight drives. They are usually a bit (just a bit) more expensive than your regular drives.

819t3gmzMcL._SL1500_So What Happens To My Old External Drives?

Good News! While you are limited to the number of drives that you can fit into the enclosure of your NAS, whether you choose the 2 or 4 bay option, the WD NAS comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports. You can easily connect your old drives into these ports directly or via a, preferrably, powered hub if you have multiple hard drives or flash drives.

Basically,

  1. You will be extending the capacity of the NAS. You easily add additional GB/TB to the capacity of your NAS
  2. Easily take back ups of the drives in the enclosure.
Categories
Articles Technology

Windows Operating System And The Even-Year Jinx

I was and remain a committed fan of the Windows 8 Operating System. I found it very painful that the OS did not gain widespread acceptance as expected.

Microsoft’s attempt at forcing what they (and I) felt were features for an OS of the future was met with stiff resistance, which was expressed in its rather poor acceptance. A far cry from the success of its predecessor, the Windows 7.

I guess its true what they say, the customer is king. Moreso, the customer now has a lot more options to chose from now.

However, many had predicted doom for the Windows 8 OS long before it was even conceived. They call it the “Even Year” jinx. All Microsoft OS released in even years flopped! All, except Windows 98 – released 1998 & 1999 (2nd ed).

Roll Call: Windows 3.0 (1990), Windows 3.1 (1992), Windows Me (2000), Windows Vista (2006) and Windows 8 (2012).

PS: Windows 2000 was actually released in 1999.

Perhaps not to take chances, Microsoft is releasing the next iteration of its popular OS in 2015 – an odd number year. It has also listened to the complaints of its end users, incorporating the features they yearned, yes, especially the “Start Menu”.

I am presently taking the Preview Version of the new Windows 10 Operating System for a spin. Watch out for my review!

Screenshot (1)

Categories
Hack

Use The ATM And Risk Losing Your Money!

Windows XP finally reached its end-of-life this April (2014), after which Microsoft ceases to release bug fixes for the operating system. If you’ve upgraded your PC then everything should be fine – but what about your bank? Have they upgraded?

The Risk Isn’t Necessarily With You

Have you upgraded from Windows XP yet? If not, you can easily choose from several different options;  Windows 7, Windows 8 or even Linux. While it is important to ensure your home computer system is as up to date as possible, it is also important that the companies you do business with are also suitably secure.

Sadly, this hasn’t been happening. For various reasons (usually cost) a vast number of businesses have been spending time burying their heads in the sand rather than coming to terms with the fact that their systems have suddenly become a lot less secure since Microsoft withdrew support for Windows XP.

Although corporate security support has been extended to April 2015 – only in the UK, this still doesn’t give businesses who haven’t yet made the necessary upgrades an awful lot of time to purchase and roll out new hardware running Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux or even Mac OS X. While you might have taken steps to upgrade, the Windows XPocalypse has wider ramifications.

Among these are the customer-facing systems running on Windows XP, the ATMs especially, and its continued presence represents an open door to digital criminals.

DSC_2031ATMs: Stay Away!

If you visit ATMs to make withdrawals, you likely do so from a system running Windows XP. If you’ve ever seen one of these machines crash or reboot, you’ll know that behind the simple set of options Windows XP is hiding. Once upon a time it was providing security against intrusion from sophisticated hackers; these days, its presence is arguably as big a headache as the breaches it once helped to prevent.

ATMs running Windows XP are rife for exploitation and should be avoided.

Avoid withdrawing money from an ATM by doing so over the counter at your bank. You might consider using point of sale cashback services too. This is not very popular in Nigeria though.

A rule of thumb should be to avoid these at all costs. If you can’t, it is worth being prepared by setting up a separate ATM card with a low balance.

Windows XP: The New Millennium Bug?

15 years ago, the IT world worked itself into a frenzy as it fought to combat the effects of the so-called Millennium Bug (aka Y2K problem) – an issue with the way computers calculate the date that was set to cause chaos come January 1st 2000 (or 1900, if the bug had its way). Although there was plenty of time to prepare for this, many businesses waited until the last few months to apply a fix.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the situation is recognisable, if not identical. Home users are largely protected but businesses seem to have ignored the many warnings issued by Microsoft about Windows XP going end-of-life and the implications of this. The push to get domestic users onto Windows 7 and Windows 8 has been slow, but it would seem that even if you upgraded tomorrow, your bank and other institutions handling sensitive data would still be running XP, with the impending security failings this will bring.

As such, you need to be careful where and how you use credit and debit card. As a rule of thumb, if you’re attempting to use the card at an exposed location, you should already be cautious of the risks. With unsecured Windows XP installations now providing an added threat, automated payment solutions should be avoided.

Culled from Makeuseof

Categories
Gadgets

Check Out These Awesome Ways To Use Your Flash Drive

Flash or thumb drives are probably a dime a dozen nowadays with good quality original 2GB drive costing as little as N1500.  Apart from the popular use of simple file transfers, many are missing out on the best use that any of these tiny data buckets can fulfill. Enthusiasts know that flash drives are the perfect portable repositories for all sorts of software that can breathe life or enhance your PC usage experience.

Run Portable Applications

The first thing you’ll want to install on your USB rescue drive is PortableApps, a free, open-source platform for installing desktop applications on USB drives and other removable media. PortableApps manages the installation of new portable software on your USB drive, and it also acts as a front end when you’re actually using the USB drive, allowing you to browse and launch applications easily.

PortableApps maintains a list of hundreds of “portable” versions of popular free programs, each of them designed to work without installation. For the complete list, see portableapps.com/apps.

Each of the following applications that has “Portable” in its title is available for the PortableApps platform. You can download these items at the URLs provided, or start PortableApps and click Apps ▸ Get More Apps. You’ll see a large list of applications; just check the ones you want and then click Next to download and install all of them automatically.

Boot an operating system

If you want to do more than just run your own applications, you might want to consider booting an entire operating system from your USB flash drive. You can boot either Windows or Linux from a USB flash drive; however, the process is not an exact science and you may be in for a technical adventure.

Most existing operating systems support or can be adapted to support this feature.

Run A Website From It

If you are a Web developer, you may be interested to know that with Server2Go, you can easily run a Web server that supports Apache, PHP, MySQL, and Perl right from a USB flash drive. You can use Server2Go right out of the box without any installation. It runs on all versions of Windows, supports most common browsers, and is completely free. To a developer, the benefits of having a portable Web server on a USB drive are numerous. For example, imagine being able to carry a live Web site demo into a sales pitch meeting. For more information about this package, visit the Server2Go site.

Lock Your PC

Have you ever seen a movie in which a person in some secret government installation simply inserts and removes a card to log in and log out of a PC? If you thought that idea was cool, you’ll definitely want to investigate Predator. Once installed and configured, this little freeware utility will allow you to turn a USB flash drive into a key you can use to lock and unlock your computer.

While the USB flash drive is connected to your computer, everything works as it normally would. Once you remove the USB flash drive, your computer is locked down — the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens. To unlock your computer, you just plug in the USB flash drive and the computer will be unlocked and you can begin using it.

PREDATOR locks your PC when you are away, even if your Windows session is still opened. It uses a regular USB flash drive as an access control device, and works as follows:

  • you insert the USB drive
  • you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)
  • you do your work…
  • when you’re away from your PC, you simply remove the USB drive:
  • once it is removed, the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens
  • when you return back to your PC, you put the USB flash drive in place:
  • keyboard and mouse are immediately released, and the display is restored.

It’s easier and faster than closing your Windows session, since you do not have to retype your password when you return.

Turn a USB Flash Drive into Extra Virtual RAM

It is not hard to turn an extra USB stick lying around collecting dust into an extra memory for your computer, allowing it to run speedier and manage more applications better.

You can put the flash drive to good use by using it to increase the virtual RAM on your Windows computer, preferably a USB drive smaller than 4 GB. The procedure has been summarized below:

  • Rename your thumb drive as “RAM DRIVE” or something similar, so you can see which drive is being used as RAM.
  • Delete all the stuff on the flash drive. Check for hidden files.
  • Right click on My Computer, and go to Properties. Once there, click on Advanced and go to the system output’s Settings.
  • Click on Advanced, and then Edit.
  • Click on your thumb drive above, and select “user-defined size.” Here you can see the size of your flash drive.
  • Calculate the size of the flash drive, and subtract 5 Mb.
  • Type this number in the first box. In the second box, type in the same number.
  • Click Set and confirm all your settings, applying them wherever you can.
  • Restart your computer.

Windows 7 users should go into their System Properties, under the Performance tab for these options. After you’re done, your computer will recognize your flash drive as extra virtual memory. Do not pull out your thumb drive after these settings are implemented. It could crash your computer. More detailed information can be found here.

usb001pic

Categories
Gadgets Hack Mobile

Hack Windows Password in 2 Minutes

hackerAt least, that is how long it would take me to hack into any Microsoft Windows account – 2 minutes! Very worrisome, isn’t it? Goes to show that anyone that thinks his data is safe just because it is tucked away in his passworded Windows account would really need to have a rethink.

I will not go through the process of how to go about hacking a Windows account here,sorry, but a quick search on the Internet would give you a number of options you can use.

So does it mean all hope of having a secured Windows Operating System is lost? Far from it!

One quick option that is within the reach of about anyone is the use of BIOS PASSWORD.

A BIOS password can be very effective at controlling access to your personal computer. All you need do is access the setup menu of your laptop and enable the Bios Password. Subsequently, once you switch on your PC – at the hardware level – you are prompted to insert a password before booting up any Operating System. If the computer won’t boot up until a password is entered, it is effectively useless to most would be opportunist hackers or other intruders.

However, the Bios Password is not hackproof. A determined hacker can still use online resources to hack the password or may just extract the hard-drive from the laptop, insert into another and hack away.

Another option is creating vaults within your hard-drive using tools like Steganos Safe software. The software allows you to protect your data in several ways. It enables you to create a secure area on your hard-drive or on removable media such as a USB key. It works just like a real vault, protecting all of your data from unauthorized third-party access. Without the right password, nobody can retrieve the contents. You can read more about this software here.

Lastly, we have Microsoft’s own Bitlocker. Probably the most secure of the lot, BitLocker Drive Encryption is a full disk encryption feature included with the Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Windows 7, and with Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 8 desktop operating systems. The latest version of BitLocker, included in Windows 7 and Windows 8 adds the ability to also encrypt removable drives, as described here.

Bitlocker is an effective and essential tool for protecting sensitive data, it effectively addresses the threats of data theft or exposure from lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned computers.

BitLocker lets you encrypt the hard drives allowing you to protect your hard drive from offline attack.  This is the type of attack where a malicious user will take the hard drive from your mobile machine and connect it to another machine so they can harvest your data.  BitLocker also protects your data if a malicious user boots from an alternate Operating System.  With either attack method, BitLocker encrypts the hard drive so that when someone has physical access to the drive, the drive is unreadable.

Now if there is a need to harvest data from a hard drive when a machine fails, there are tools that you can use which will prompt the admin for the recovery key that was given when Bitlocker was being enabled on the drive.

Note that BitLocker does not protect the computer contents while Windows is running.  BitLocker was specifically built for offline attacks.

For those without these versions of Windows, you may consider drive encryption softwares like DiskCryptor or Truecrypt.

There are still many more data security options out there not mentioned but the ones listed are very much tested and so far, trusted. No one knows tomorrow though. 🙁

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Android’s Killer Feature

It is no secret that Android has lots of good stuff going for it, but one of the platform’s most useful and distinguishing features is one you rarely hear discussed.

I’m talking about Android’s system-wide sharing capability — a process built into the operating system that many people take for granted. Android’s sharing function may not sound exciting, but don’t be fooled: It’s one of the most powerful and valuable components the OS has to offer.

Android’s sharing capability, known to developers as a form of “intent,” is about more than merely sharing in the social-oriented sense of the word. It’s a way for you to quickly and easily pass data between applications — anything from a Web page to a chunk of text or even an image.

The most important part about Android’s sharing system? Any application can take advantage of it; all a developer has to do is declare his program capable of receiving data, and boom: It’ll show up throughout the OS as a place to which data can be shared. That’s a sharp contrast to the setup on certain other (ahem) more restrictive mobile platforms, and the resulting difference in usability is enormous.

But enough geek-speak; let’s take a look at what this actually means in real-world terms. Here are a few ways you can make Android’s system-wide sharing work for you:

Android Sharing Menu• Tap and hold your finger on any text — in an email, on a Web page, or within most any application — and highlight a few sentences. Then tap the share icon (it looks like three dots connected together in the shape of a less-than-sign (“<“)) and you’ll see a list of apps to which the text can be sent.

With one more tap, you can beam the text directly into an app like Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Voice, the stock text messaging tool, or practically any social application. There, you’ll be able to edit it, save it, and post/send it as applicable.

You can even share the text to Google itself to initiate a fast Web search — a great way to cross-reference information or get a definition on the fly.

• Tap the “Share” command in your phone’s Web browser. That’ll let you send the current page’s URL directly to any share-ready application — in order to share it with a colleague via email, for example, share it onto your favorite social service, or save it to a read-it-later tool like Pocket or a note-taking tool like Evernote. Everything’s interconnected — no extra steps or awkward app-toggling required.Android Photo Sharing

• Tap the share icon while viewing any image in your device’s Gallery. You can then send the image directly to a photo editing utility like Pixlr or Snapseed, where it’ll instantly pop up, ready to be fine-tuned. You can send it to a cloud storage service like Picasa, Dropbox, or Drive, where it’ll be saved to any remote folder you want. You can send it to pretty much any social app — a Facebook or Twitter client of your choice, Google+, or whatever floats your boat — and post it to your account right from there. Or you can send the image to Gmail or any text messaging app to attach it to an outgoing message.

• Tap the share icon next to a file in any file management application — whether a local file manager for your phone’s storage or a cloud file app like Dropbox or Drive — and you can send that file directly to any other storage service, be it cloud-based or local. You can send the file over to an app like Gmail as a new message attachment, too, or to any other share-ready service that makes sense in the context.

The possibilities are practically endless, but you get the idea. Once you get used to using Android’s system-wide share function, you’ll wonder how people — particularly those who use other (ahem) less accommodating mobile platforms — live without it and deal with data in such unintuitive ways. It’s a little thing, but man, it makes a big difference.

Computerworld

Categories
Hack

The Difference Between Malware, Virus, Rootkits, Spyware, Worm and Trojans

One of the classic primary signs that a computer has been infected is that it suddenly becomes much less responsive than normal. This usually continues after rebooting the computer as the malicious software begins running again and using system resources. Applications that monitor system resources (such as the Windows Task Manager) of the computer may show a high percentage of the processor or processors already in use, even when a computer user is not running any applications. The majority of the system memory may also be in use and such a situation can also cause the computer to respond slowly. Using the Task Manager in Windows can show a computer user the running processes and can also be used to easily see what applications are using the most memory and processor resources.

At times, you may get weird random pop-ups trying to make you download something or sell something to you.

However, not every infection present these symptom. In fact, some do not exhibit any at all! The fact that your PC seems to function normally does not imply that all is well.

Malware

Malware, short for malicious (or malevolent) software, is software used or created by attackers to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software. It is basically an umbrella term covering computer viruses, worms, Trojan, spyware, rootkit etc. Some of them attack the computer programs and files while others attack users confidential data. Let us have a detailed look at their mode of operation.

Virus

Just as a biological virus replicates itself in a human cell, a computer virus replicates itself  in computer memory when initiated by the user. Not only do they replicate themselves but may also contain some malicious codes which can affect your files, your operating system or even your master boot records thereby making your computer start slow or not boot at all.

There are different types of viruses, some affect the system adversely and leave it completely unusable while some are just written to annoy the user. Disabling task manager or desktop wallpaper are a few of the most common ways that virus creators employ to irritate users.

As a virus always needs a human action to initiate itself, in a computer most of them attach themselves to an executable .exe file because it knows eventually the user will double click on it to run it and that is all it needs to infect the computer. Yes, unfortunately, most viruses are inadvertently initiated by the computer users themselves and hence it is important that when you install and run programs, you know beforehand that you got them from a trusted source.

Worm

Practically a worm is an evolved form of a virus. Like virus, worms too replicate and spread themselves but it happens on a bit larger scale. Also, unlike virus, a worm does not need a human action to replicate and spread and that is what makes it more dangerous.

A worm always seeks for network loopholes to replicate from computer to computer and thus most common way of intrusion are emails and IM attachments.  As the infection is network-based, a good firewall along with antivirus is necessary to control worm attack. Also, this means that blindly downloading email attachments or clicking the links friends share with you in a chat window is not recommended. Double-check before you do that.

Trojan Horse

TrojanTrojan horse or simply Trojan is a bit interesting. Trojan horse is a program that appears useful by pretending to do certain things in foreground, but in reality they are working silently in background with the only objective of harming your computer and/or stealing valuable information.

Let me explain this metaphorically.

Suppose you are the CEO of a company and there is an employee in your firm you think is a valuable asset because of some initial success he gave your company. In reality the employee is working for your competitor and destroying your company from within. Now these kinds of employees can be considered as Trojan horses if you consider the company as your computer.

Most common way to invite a Trojan horse to your computer is downloading malicious software like keys, cracks, free illegal music, wares etc from an unknown source. Thus the best way to stay away from Trojans is by making sure you install software from trusted sources.

Spyware

Spywares are also malicious computer programs that can be installed on computers but unlike any of the above they do not harm your computer in any way. Instead, they attack you!

Once installed on a system they run in background and keep on collecting user’s personal data. These data can include your credit card numbers, passwords, important files and many other personal stuff.

Spywares can track your keystrokes, scan and read your computer files, snoop IM chats and emails and God knows what else. Therefore again it’s always advisable to download and install software from trusted sources.

Rootkit

Rootkits are computer programs that are designed by attackers to gain root or administrative access to your computer. Once an attacker gains admin privilege, it becomes a cakewalk for him to exploit your system.

We have already discussed rootkit in detail previously and you can have a look at it for in-depth knowledge.

Conclusion

Overall, all these malware that were discussed have been there probably since the innovation of programming itself and with time, they have become more complex and harder to deal with. That does not mean you should worry too much. We have talked about tools like virus scanners and spyware removers before so make sure you keep your computer protected with them. If you are careful enough, most likely you will not have to worry about them.

Categories
Hack

What is a Rootkit and How it Infects your PC

Everyone knows about computer viruses – and people are rightly fearful of them. Many have also heard about (computer) worms, which are nasty programs designed to spread as much as they can to infect computers.

A rootkit, on the other hand, is devious in a different way. This is used to gain control over your desktop by hiding deep inside your system. Unlike most viruses, it is not directly destructive and unlike worms, its objective is not to spread infections.

So what does a Rookit  do?

What it does do, is provide access to all your folders – both private data and system files – to a remote user who, through administrative powers, can do whatever he wants with your computer. Needless to say, every user should be aware of the threat they pose.

Rootkits generally go much deeper than the average virus. They may even infect your BIOS – the part of your computer that’s independent of the Operating System – making them harder to remove. And they may not even be Windows-specific, even Linux or Apple machines could be affected. In fact, the first rootkit ever written was for Unix!

Is this a new phenomenon?

No, not at all. The earliest known rootkit is in fact two decades old.  However, now that every home and every work desk has a computer that is connected to the internet, the possibilities for using the full potential of a rootkit is only just being realized.

Possibly the most famous case so far was in 2005, when CDs sold by Sony BMG installed rootkits without user permission that allowed any user logged in at the computer to access the administrator mode. The purpose of that rootkit was to enforce copy protection (called “Digital Rights Management” or DRM) on the CDs, but it compromised the computer it was installed on. This process could easily be hijacked for malicious purposes.

What makes it different from a virus?

Most often, rootkits are used to control and not to destroy. Of course, this control could be used to delete data files, but it can also be used for more nefarious purposes.

More importantly, rootkits run at the same privilege levels as most antivirus programs. This makes them that much harder to remove as the computer cannot decide on which program has a greater authority to shut down the other.

So how can I get infected with a rootkit?

As mentioned above, a rootkit may piggyback along with software that you thought you trusted. When you give this software permission to install on your computer, it also inserts a process that waits silently in the background for a command. And, since to give permission you need administrative access, this means that your rootkit is already in a sensitive location on the computer.

Another way to get infected is by standard viral infection techniques – either through shared disks and drives with infected web content. This infection may not easily get spotted because of the silent nature of rootkits.

There have also been cases where rootkits came pre-installed on purchased computers. The intentions behind such software may be good – for example, anti-theft identification or remote diagnosis – but it has been shown that the mere presence of such a path to the system itself is a vulnerability.

So, that was about what exactly is a rootkit and how does it creep in to computer. In my next article I’ll discuss how to defend your computer from rootkits – from protection to cleaning up.

Source

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Windows 8 – Copycat Innovations?

Looking at most OS in this modern era, i tend to see more of similarities than differences. When sometimes i stumble on blogs where you have people banging each other out about the superiority of a particular OS over another – Apple haters on one side, Android fans or Microsoft bashers on the other – i smile.

I like to see beautiful concepts in one OS being re-engineered or made better in another OS. For me that shows progress. When i look at Windows 8 and its radical deviation from status quo, I could not help but wonder where Microsoft drew the Inspiration from. Bill Gates aptly described it as ‘an important set of innovations’.

This write-up aims to investigate the origin of the innovations served with the Windows 8.

The Boot speed

Windows 8 boots in less than 10sec to the start menu, No longer do you have to wait for minutes just to log into a typical PC. Compared with windows 7 or earlier iterations of the OS, this is lightning fast. This is a feature that i enjoyed only in mobile devices but has been effectively replicated in this convergence OS. The fact that you can put on your PC and you get to use it within seconds is really worthy of commendation.

Windows Gestures

It starts with the lockscreen, which by default is dragged up with a finger to unlock – that is, if you’re using a “touch” device. Yeah, just like android or iOS. However, you can still swipe and make gestures even if you don’t a have a “touch” device. See details here. Microsoft actually knocked the ball out of the park here as Windows 8 is a gesture rich operating system.with support for up to ten simultaneous touch points, which opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities.

Picture Password

This is just like the pattern lock on android. I remember the first time i unlocked my Samsung S1 pattern lock in front of my friends, acting like i owned a device from Mars. It felt great.

Though the picture password on Windows 8 works for the laptops that do not have “touch” the effect is rather tedious as you have to use the mouse pad to draw patterns. The picture password feature will be enjoyed better on a touch device.

To enable it, press Windows + I to get to the settings charm. Click Change PC settings at the bottom right, and go to the Users tab. Under Sign-in options will be the Create a picture password button. This will give you the option to choose any picture, and then define three gestures anywhere on the image. Your gestures can be circles, swipes and clicks.

The Charms Bar

In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced the Charms bar – an omnipresent autohide sidebar that presents both context sensitive options for the currently active app and system wide options for managing the volume, brightness, internet connections, power options, notifications, devices, and context sensitive search. I like this new feature and to some extent, you can compare it to the Menu Bar in OS X, a functionally similar omnipresent bar that sits at the top of the screen with options that change with the active app while retaining options for accessing basic system settings like System Preferences and power options.

Microsoft Store

Get all your apps from one place, developers can build apps that are useful to a cross section of people, i know i have enjoyed Google’s play and i have gotten wonderful apps that made my life easier and guess what most of them were free.

With the billions of users already using Microsoft windows it will be but a short while before the Microsoft store is populated with apps.The Windows Store is expected to get more than 100,000 apps within three months of its launch.

Developers are already jumping in as the number of apps are increasing daily and with windows users accounting for 70% of the computer world,app builders are going to have a field day with windows 8

Customisation & Personalisation

This is now as prominent as on Android. This, for me, was an android edge – the ability for you to customize your device to suit you. With previous versions of windows you were limited to what you could do on your device. On windows 8 the new “tattoos” feature gives users another way to personalize their desktop or home screen background beyond changing the wallpaper and screensaver.

To add tattoos, users must hover the mouse in the lower right corner to pull up the Charms bar or use the keyboard shortcut Key + C. After this, select Settings and then choose Change PC Settings. Click the Personalization option and then choose Start Screen on the right to customize the color and add tattoos. Users can see a preview of how the tattoo will look before it is added to the Home screen.

3rd party apps

The inclusion of 3rd party Apps on the windwos 8 is a welcome addition just like on android. Windows 8 is all about the apps, so it’s important to find the best ones for your unique needs. Unfortunately, you need to sift through a lot of crap apps in the process, especially if you’re not using a Windows 8 tablet.
Desktop and laptop PC users don’t need to worry about the lion’s share of Windows 8 apps, because they’re usually single-purpose tools designed to replicate the functionality of a full PC on a mobile device. Since you have access to a full Windows desktop you don’t need just another way to look at photos or surf the Web—you need a way to do those things better.

Below is a selected few that I use:

Netflix – The Netflix app for Windows 8 is free to download and easy to use, with an attractive tile-based interface that’s intuitive to navigate on a touchscreen. Streaming movies through the app also seems smoother than streaming them through your browser, which is reason enough to launch Netflix right from your Start screen.

IM+ – Everyone needs a good instant messaging client, and although the Windows 8 Messaging app is functional enough,it supports only the Windows Messenger and Facebook Chat services. That may change in the future, but if you want to chat with all your friends right now across disparate networks (including AIM, Facebook, GChat, ICQ, and Jabber) Shape’s IM+ app has you covered. It’s free, it supports a wide variety of chat networks, and it lets you enable push notifications so that you can stay on top of your social life no matter what app you’re using.

TuneIn Radio – TuneIn does a fantastic job of presenting a huge assortment of AM/FM radio streams and podcasts in one slick app that’s simple to navigate

MovieGuide – Zühlke Engineering’s MovieGuide app, a handy tool for movie nuts, combines the film trivia of IMDb, the variety of trailers on YouTube, and the list-making feature of Flixster into a single app.

StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is a fantastic way to discover new and interesting things online, and the Windows 8 app makes it even easier to stumble upon your next favorite video or article by updating the live tile with websites tailored to match your tastes

Live Tiles

The infusion of live tiles in Windows 8 shows Microsoft’s drive to transition from traditional desktop usage to a mobile-centric persona, to integrate both the PC world (which by the way is losing market share to mobile computing devices) and the mobile computing platform. It is, however, interesting to note that Microsoft is being sued by SurfCast, an operating system technology designing company over the Live Tiles feature.

Back in October 2000, SurfCast filed for patent # 6,724,403 and was issued in April 2004. SurfCast describes the feature as tiles that “can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live — containing refreshed content that provides a real-time or near-real-time view of the underlying information.”

This, more or less, describes what Microsoft’s Live Tiles are.

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Hosting

Virtualization? What Is That?!

If you have the feeling that everyone else in the world understands virtualization perfectly while you are still trying to understand just what it is and how you might take advantage of it, take heart, you are not alone.

Virtualization, in simple English (no geek speak), refers to a concept in which access to a single underlying piece of hardware – Laptop, Desktop PC, Apple Mac – is coordinated so that multiple guest operating systems – Windows 7, XP, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc – can share that single piece of hardware, with no guest operating system being aware that it is actually sharing anything at all. (A guest operating system is an operating system that is hosted by an underlying virtualization software layer, often called the host system). A guest operating system appears to the applications running on it as a complete operating system (OS), and the guest OS itself is completely unaware that it’s running on top of a layer of virtualization software rather than directly on the physical hardware.

We would concern ourselves with two approaches to virtualization:

TYPE 1 (Bare Metal Virtualization)

In this approach to virtualization, a virtualization software is installed to run directly on the host’s hardware to control the hardware and to manage guest operating systems. Examples of such virtualization softwares include Xen, Citrix XenServer, KVM, VMware ESX/ESXi, and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor. This approach is very popular with corporate bodies and web hosting companies. The hardware referred to in this instance are usually enterprise grade servers.

TYPE 2 (Operating System Virtualization)

Operating system virtualization, by contrast, is an approach where guest operating systems (also called Virtual Machines) are installed on top of a conventional operating system using your regular laptops and desktop computers. This is made possible using special installed softwares like Virtual Box, VMWare Workstation.

This is the approach to virtualization that we are going to concern ourselves with and our software of choice will be Virtualbox

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