I have to admit I was a bit surprised at such forward thinking at Microsoft, but they have released codecs, which are essentially drivers or software to be able to view RAW camera files in Windows Explorer and Windows Live Photo Gallery.

RAW format is really taking off, and for serious photographers, it is the way to go. This format is generally only available in the more advanced cameras such as DSLRs and higher end point and shoots.

What is the difference between RAW and a .JPG file?

When you take a photo with a digital camera, and save it as a .jpg in the camera, the camera and it’s electronics make assumptions about the photo and make a bunch of exposure and other important decisions about the photo when saved.

With a RAW file, it is almost like going back to the scene and able to retake the photo. You have a lot more control over exposure and thus your lighting and photos can look much better.

I won’t get too technical, but a .jpg file is an 8 bit file which will store about 256 levels of brightness in your photo.

A RAW file is usually a 12 bit size file which can handle about 4,096 levels of brightness for each and every pixel. It does vary by manufacturer and camera model.

So if I have a choice of 256 brightness levels, or 4096, I would take the bigger one any day. What that does is give you a much larger latitude of exposure to work with.

Ever have a photo where the sky is just all washed out, or the shade under the tree is too dark? More exposure levels is what allows you to pull out detail in those areas you would not be able to with only 256 levels.

Here is some more technical information on RAW files if you are interested


There are a few things to consider and they are not necessarily disadvantages with shooting photos in RAW.

They do take up a lot of space, the RAW file sizes can be around 25 megabytes vs. around 3 mb for the same photo saved in .jpg.

Also, you do need to process the files a bit differently with software that will edit the RAW files. JPG files are pretty much ready to go unless they need some minor adjusting.

Different Formats for brands of Cameras

The one big problem is there are a lot of RAW formats out there. Each camera manufacturer can have their own, Canon uses .CR2 and Nikon uses .NEF, and there are a bunch more.

Here is a good listing of the different formats for each brand of camera

The nice thing about the ability to view RAW files is that without the codecs, you just see a blank document in thumbnail view. But the the codecs, the RAW files act just like a .jpg or other photo. You can see the little thumbnail, and you can click on it, and see the RAW file in the file preview window. You can enlarge the view, just like all other image files.

Here is a link to download the Microsoft Codecs for RAW viewing.

The codecs work in Windows 7 or Vista with Service Pack 2 installed. Just download, and install, quick and easy. Then go into your Pictures folder where you have some RAW files, and check it out.

If you have a camera capable of shooting RAW, many times you can set it to shoot a .jpg and RAW photo at the same time. This way you can make sure you have a .jpg like you are used to. In addition, you will get a RAW file that you can start to learn how to edit. The main thing you can do with RAW is exposure type changes.

Internet Explorer 9 – Tips & Info
Wednesday, May 04th, 2011 | Author:

We have been using IE 9 now for a month or so, and it works really well, but it has a few little differences and as we all know, some differences can be annoying or aggravating. IE 9 is not available for XP, only Vista and Windows 7.

IE9 is supposed to be more secure and have better security built in and it does, but it comes with a few differences in the way the browser works.

The biggest difference for me, is when downloading a file. They have radically changed how the download confirmation button looks and where it is located. For years, we would see a pop up window in the middle saying “DO you want to download this file?” and Yes or NO buttons were right there. Then they moved it to the top of the window in a long yellow box asking if you wanted to download the file.

Now you have to look at the bottom of the window, and there is a long strip across the bottom that asked
IE9 download notification
Normally you will click on the save button. But if you just click on SAVE, it will save it to the last location you saved a file to, and when done, it will ask if you want to run or go to the location where the download file is. You also have the choice to SAVE AS (rename it and put it where you want) and to Save it and then Run the file. This is much more Firefox or Chrome like in the way you download. There is nothing wrong with it, I am just having a hard time getting used to that, and I download a lot of files.

The other key difference is a security feature, but a bit of a pain if you are not used to it. IE9 will pop up on the bottom of the screen after first installing it, or after you install a tool bar or other “add on” to your browser. It asks, do you want to enable this add on? And you can decide whether or not you want it to load.

Why does it do this? So when you accidently, unknowingly download a stupid toolbar for Google or whatever, and then it installs it, IE is asking if you want to run it. If you don’t have a clue, just say no or disable it. It will ask a few times, if you do nothing, it will finally stop asking you, after 5 times.

Another tip is the word menu across the top. It is not there when you start up IE9. So if you put your mouse in the top bar of the window, right click and a menu comes up, and if you click on “Menu Bar” you will get the old “File, Edit, View…” Text buttons across the top.

I like the clean look, not a lot of junk to clutter up the screen, and also it seems very fast.

When I am cleaning up computers from the slowdown of malware and unwanted programs, there is one consistent thing I find in common.

There are usually several programs, toolbars, search assistants and more that are loaded onto the computer, without the user’s knowledge.

Most users never use the stuff, and don’t need it. Almost all of it is garbage and just slows things down on the computer and many track what you are doing.

Some of the common things that load uninvited are Google, Yahoo or MSN’s toolbars, Google desktop, Search helpers, disk defraggers, registry cleaners and more.

Google products are so intrusive, they can be hard to remove, including scheduled tasks, that most people don’t realize even exist, and it is another thing that will slow the system down.

One of the main ways these junk programs get on your systems is when you try to download a program that you need. Something such as Adobe Reader or Adobe Flash. Even big name software will try to include crud you don’t need.

When you download a file, you have to be a detective on the page and make sure you do not click on anything but the actual download link. They disguise other links that say DOWNLOAD NOW, and they download one of these other programs.

In the mean time, your program will download and you will have the program you wanted, and something else.

Here is an example of this, and what is crazy, it happens on more than one page, just to get one file. Let’s say you need to get the Mega Codec pack to make your videos work correctly.

You search on Google, and here is the top choice, below. Note all the Red X’s. Those are all links you do not want, and have nothing to do with your download. You need to look carefully when clicking.

In this case you have to click on a mirror or another site that actually has the file that you can download.

Ok, you made it through the first mine field, now you get a second page, the one that should have the file you want. Hmmmmm. Looks a bit familiar huh?

Now look at the above page, and how many Red X’s do we have here? There is only one link to actually download the file, and even it is not really obvious. The green circle is the download button.

As you can see, many things on a website look “legit” but they are just junk begging you to download them and slow down or infect your computer.

Now you need to have Adobe Flash if you are going to do anything on the Internet, including watching videos. Let’s go to the Adobe site and Download Adobe Flash:


Here we go again, and this is Adobe doing it as you are trying to download it. You need to UNCHECK any free software helper junk they are trying to push on you. Uncheck the “include in your download.”

Let’s say you got through both minefields of crud to download a file, and now you have the program saved on your computer. You double click the icon to install it. Let’s use good ol’ Ccleaner, a program I like, as an example.


This one is a bit sneakier. They try to put it on your computer after you download it, during the installation. Most of us just Click Install>NEXT>NEXT>OK>Done. We never really look at what it is asking us. I find myself doing this at times, and it can get you in trouble.

Ccleaner is a very good and reputable program, but Google and other companies make money each time someone installs it on their system or they pay a certain amount of money to have the software include the junk on their webpage or inside the software.

Why do they do this? Because they get free data from you, your surfing habits, demographics, and then they push out ads to you on the sides of web pages. Your free information makes people like Google Rich.

The key to safe downloading is to be careful, and watch what you download and make sure you uncheck any extra programs they try to install.

Hopefully these tips and examples will help you keep you computer a little cleaner!

I have been using Windows since before there was Windows, including GEM Desktop, BASIC and DOS, Windows1, 2, 3.0, 3.1, ME, 2000, NT, XP, Vista. Anyone remember Microsoft Bob??

I have to say after seeing and using Windows 7 for over a year now, it is the best operating system that Microsoft has come out with. That also includes the best released version, as most of the time when Windows comes out there are a ton of problems.

Not with Windows 7. Microsoft did the thing all us geeks wanted for a long time. Beta Testing. Beta testing put the software in thousands of experienced (and sometimes not so experienced who dared try it) for quite a while to test and use and report problems before it was released to the general public.

Many companies do this with their software, but for some reason Microsoft has always thought they know best, and we know they don’t know best most of the time.

So now it has been out, you have heard all the great things about it. Should you upgrade?

I would look at two main factors. What operating system (version of Windows) did your computer come with, and is your hardware compatible with Windows 7.

If your system is more than about 3-4 years old, I would probably say your machine will be on the borderline. If it came with XP it is this old and it came with XP, there is a pretty good chance it might not be worth it. Anything older, I would not even try it.

If you have Vista, it is definitely a consideration. If the computer came with and can run on Vista, usually it will run with Windows 7 pretty well. Some of the older Vista machines might need a RAM upgrade, which it should have with Vista also.

Many early Vista models came out with too little RAM with Vista running on them.

One thing you can do is download and run the Windows 7 upgrade advisor. It will check your hardware to make sure it is compatible, and it will also advise you if you need updated drivers for certain items on the computer.

You can download and run the advisor from Microsoft here.

Ok, so let’s say you have a machine that is not too old, and passes the upgrade advisor without any problems, now what version do you choose?

There are 4 main choices, Starter, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. For almost everyone, the home premium is the ticket and all you need.

The Professional is a bit more for higher end needs, such as business or power users.

Ultimate is for those people who need the top of the line of everything, and there are very little extras that it includes.

The things that Home Premium do not have are very few and usually not needed. With all the work I do, and networking here in the office, I still use Home Premium on all the office computers.

Some of the few things Professional has that Home does not have: The ability to join a domain, (more advanced networking most folks do not do).

There is a Full blown XP mode for running special applications that require XP. There is a backup and restore for the entire network (home allows you to back up each computer individually.)

The other feature that some people need is the ability to get onto that home computer while they are somewhere else, and this is called Remote Desktop.

That is about the only differences and for about 97% of people, Home will do just fine. The ultimate add options for 35 languages and bitlocker security which is a higher form of security for a whole drive volume, again, not something most people want or need.

Here is a nice comparison list to show you the different versions.

If you are in the market for a new computer, you don’t really have a choice any more, Windows 7 is the OS that is available.

So if you have a system that is a bit older, and you are not ready to buy a new one just yet, you might wait on upgrading to 7, and getting yourself into a new system when you can. The move to a good computer running Windows 7 is really a nice move.

Category: Uncategorized  | 6 Comments
Another Reason to Stay off of Facebook
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 | Author:

If you have read any of my previous blog posts, I am not a fan of Face Book, in fact I dislike it so much, I advise customers to not use it, and if they do, give them some cautions.

I used Facebook for a bit, then left. Then one day an old friend wanted to connect, so I went back on and “signed” back up. But I did not have to sign back up. I just put in the old login information, and all the stuff that I wanted removed when I quite, was all there.

Freaky scary and it really convinced me to leave and stay off of Facebook.

Facebook’s security policy has been a joke, and you had to have a programmers degree to figure out how to opt out of things you did not want, and how to not share certain information.

Finally enough people put up a fuss, they finally changed it. But honestly, most people just don’t pay attention to the security settings or the ramifications of using a site where your life is put in front of everyone in the world.

Now they have delved deeper into the world of giving your private information away.

Facebook has recently announced that they are making user phone numbers and addresses available to developers. Developers are the people who write the games and applications on Facebook.

I am sure most developers are legit, but some developers do write suspicious or even malware type code, and not to mention the people who write viruses and put them on Facebook for all the world to enjoy and share.

If you insist on being a Facebookie, one of the ways you can be more diligent on your Facebook security is to subscribe to the Sophos Security Facebook page, which has very good information and always up to date information on making your Facebook account more secure.

Facebook is already plagued with viruses and others writing code to trick people into giving up information, so this is just another negative on the I hate Facebook bandwagon.

Here is a very good Blog article on this new decision by Facebook.

Rogue Facebook apps by Graham Cluely

And finally here is my favorite sentiment about Facebook, if you have not seen this, it is hilarious.

Facebook is a stupid idiot video by David Ippolito

Category: Uncategorized  | 5 Comments
Decorations are Down & Donation Update
Thursday, January 06th, 2011 | Author:


Last Sunday Jan 2nd, we took down the lights and packed them away until next year. After the show on Jan 1st, I unplugged the radio transmitter, and shut down the PC that runs the show.

If you were not able to get to the display, or you have seen it and would like to see it again, we have captured most of the show on video, on our website. Check it out Cascade Christmas Lights 2010 Videos

Being the first year I have done the BIG time show, it was somewhat depressing. I think I have light-postpartum syndrome! It is just so dark and drab in the front yard now (not to mention inside the house…)

You know what is really funny and maybe even a bit twisted? I received a sample of some light products I ordered to see how they would work for the 2011 display. I also have started the design and layout for the yard and house.

I cannot wait until Thanksgiving when the next display is up. Christmas will be year round around here now. This next display is going to be BIG BIG BIG and not just lots of stuff, but really cool effects and synchronization.

Here is some exciting news. We have totaled up what we have collected from wonderful people donating to the Soup Kitchen. We received 111 lbs of food, packs of socks and $452 in donations. We are so excited to be able to give so much to the Soup Kitchen.

Thank you to all that helped out this year in donating and being so generous.

I will keep updating the blog on how the project is going this year. Don’t be surprised to see posts here all spring and summer, and of course in FALL!


Category: Uncategorized  | 2 Comments
Happy New Year!
Saturday, January 01st, 2011 | Author:

We are just about an hour away from a new year, and what a year it has been. This year was our busiest year at Ye ol’ Repair shop, and it was buzzing all year.

Along with that busy, I decided to embark on a Huge project, a computerized Christmas light display. It was a lot of work, but it was very fun and fulfilling.

As the new year starts, I will be back here with more good tips and tricks and information on computers and tech kinds of stuff that will be helpful, informative and hopefully fun at times.

Have a Happy New Year, and see you soon!


Cookies, Flash Cookies, Removing them – Part II
Wednesday, September 01st, 2010 | Author:

In my last Blog, we I talked about what the cookies are, and some of the dangers they can be.

Today I am going to talk about how to manage and get rid of cookies from the computer.

First, I will start with regular old cookies. In my opinion, the best tool to manage cookies on your computer is CCleaner. If your computer has been on my bench for repair, you will have it on your desktop.

Crap Cleaner (Ccleaner) is one of the best free cleaner utilities around. I like the Ccleaner SLIM, that is a smaller version without the option of it installing a useless toolbar.

Ccleaner will clean out your temp files where a lot of the crud like malware and viruses like to hide out, and it will clean out Windows and other program temp files that you do not need and just take up disk space.

A really cool feature of Ccleaner is that you can tell it if you want it to keep some cookies. For example, if you go to a weather site every day, it is nice for it to remember you are in 97355 zip code, so you don’t have to enter it every day for the weather report. The cookie keeps that info for you, and it is safe. So you can tell Ccleaner to NOT delete that cookie.

In Ccleaner you click on the Options button, then Cookies. The left window shows cookies that are on the computer, and the right shows the ones you want to keep.


Just click on a cookie to highlight it, then click on the arrow pointing to the right and that will save that cookie. If you don’t want a particular one, just leave it alone, it will be deleted.

The other really nice thing about CCleaner is that it cleans out the dreaded Flash Cookies that I mentioned in the previous blog.

Older versions do not have this feature, so you should update CCleaner if you can.

To see if your version will clean out the Adobe Flash Cookies, click on the cleaner Brush Icon, then Applications. Scroll down and look at the Multimedia section, and make sure Adobe Flash is there, and checked off. I leave all the items here checked off.

There is another way to “manage” the adobe flash cookies, but I don’t like it and think it is cumbersome. You go to the adobe website, and from their website, you run a program that allows you to manage the cookies on your computer, that Adobe allowed on there in the first place.

I just don’t like it at all. To me it is really slimy that Adobe does not put something in the software that you load on the computer to remove those cookies.

But you get what you pay for, and for free, that is what we get, advertising junk. If you are interested in that process, here is a link on how to do it that way.

Warning, as soon as you click on this site, it is looking at your cookies, and displaying them for you to manage.

There are some good things to set in here, including disabling flash cookies completely.

I went into mine and disabled any access, and made sure all disk storage space says NONE. Click on do not allow on the other choices.

Make sure you click on each tab above, and change the settings in each section if you want to turn off those cookies.

Adobe Web Cookie Management Tool

If you use FireFox you can use the Better Privacy add-on to help manage the Flash cookies and other privacy settings.

Better Privacy for FireFox

Here is a very good Video that covers pretty much all of the solutions I have mentioned. It is only 5 minutes, but very informative and easy to follow. It does cover the Adobe Website and some of the privacy settings.

I had a hard time coming up with a title for this blog entry, but I wanted to focus on the latest threats from cookies and also a basic rundown on what cookies are and what they do.

What is a Cookie

A Cookie is a small piece of text that a website will “drop” onto your computer and it is stored on your hard drive.

The text includes a small bit of information basically to remember you the next time you go back to that website.

For example, I like Weather Underground as I have a weather station there and I like the website. I go there often.

When I go there, a cookie is put on my computer so the next time I go back, it remembers me so I don’t have to log back in every time. It always remembers the location that I have in for weather.

The same thing with eBay or Amazon or any site you like to go to. It seems pretty harmless and can be helpful for most people.

All Cookies not Created Equal

But there are different kinds of cookies, and even the basic cookies can be “read” by other websites and information gleaned.

For example they can see some of your browsing habits and focus ads specifically targeted to you from what you have been doing on the Internet.

The interesting thing is, this is done by many Internet providers also. I know that Comcast does this. When I go looking at B&H Camera at some cool new camera stuff, tomorrow, when I go looking at a website I suddenly see B&H Camera ads, and possibly even of the product I was looking at today. No kidding.

Some of this is done with cookies, and some is just done because they know where you have been as your Internet provider.

Back to Cookies, so there are good and bad ones, and some really bad ones. Some that are put on the computer by a company, and it is not even their cookie. Tracking cookies can actually be an invasion of your privacy.

New Cookies, so Yummy – Maybe not so much

Recently there is a new type of cookie called a Flash Cookie, and another called Beacons. Some of these can actually tell that you are a Female, 26, from Oregon who likes the movie Sleepless in Seattle.

Basically this is demographics, just like your cable or satellite TV does, and you probably don’t even know it.

Did you know in your contract for TV service that part of it allows them to gather your viewing habits and use the statistics and share that info with other companies?

So basically it is up to you what cookies you keep or delete, or do not even allow on your computer.

If you would like to read some more about what cookies are, here is a FAQ to explain more.

Next Time

In part II I will cover how to clean up your cookies and combat this new Flash Cookie that even the Whitehouse Website is using!

i bong mp3

If you have not heard of it yet, you probably will soon. There is a hysteria of people warning of kids downloading these digital drugs (sound files) playing them on their mp3 players and headphones, and getting all doped up.

Sounds a little fishy? I think I smell a big Mackerel.

The way it works is binaural sounds. Basically engineered music or tones that switch from ear to ear.

Kids are claiming serious highs or freaking out from it, just like drugs. Even YouTube has videos of this sensation.

Well, Psychology Today reports that in 1839 Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered this phenomenon “binaural beats”.

So it is nothing new and has been used in clinical settings to research hearing and sleep cycles, induce various brain waves and treat anxiety.

This is all getting traction from kids on MySpace, Face Book and YouTube that “Dude, they get you totally high!”

From everything I have been able to research on this, there is not really any danger, many some anxiety caused by the tones. But this is not any worse than the 3,000,000 decibel music the kids listen to in their mp3 player already. Honestly, the volume of regular music is probably more dangerous to them.

The one thing I did find when researching this, and that might be a side issue, is when you go looking for this stuff, the websites then advertise gray area drugs, like pseudo legal marijuana and other drug like paraphernalia.

So the beat may not be dangerous, but like always, it is a good idea to monitor what the teens are doing and listening to, and if you see or hear some odd things, have a chat and see what they are up to.

Here are a couple articles with more information, including the “big” news story, which sort of hypes the whole issue.

Parenting Blog about the I-Dosing

Psychology Today Article

Category: Uncategorized  | 2 Comments