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Manage Startup Programs Windwos Vista

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The Startup folder in the Start menu is where most people go if they want Windows to start an application automatically when it boots. Just drag a shortcut to the program into the folder, and Windows will do the rest. Or, if there’s a program you don’t want Windows to load—either because it’s causing an error message or because Vista is booting too slowly—just right-click the shortcut in the Startup folder and select Delete. Trouble is, there are many ways to configure startup programs, and if you’re trying to solve a problem or just reduce boot times, you need to look at them all:


Startup folders
There are actually two of these on your hard disk, but shortcuts in both places show up in the Startup menu (under All Programs in your Start menu). If you have a lot of cleanup to do, you’ll find it’s easier to open Windows Explorer than to repeatedly open the Start menu. First, your personal Startup folder is located here: C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup and programs listed therein will load automatically when you first log in to your user account. Next, the “All Users” Startup folder here: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup lists the programs to load automatically when anyone logs into your PC.


Registry
There are several places in the Registry in which startup programs are specified. Installers add their programs to these keys for several reasons: to prevent tinkering, for more flexibility, or—in the case of viruses, Trojan horses, and spyware—to hide from plain view. These keys contain startup programs for the current user (er, you):

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

These keys contain startup programs for all users:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOne

The naming of the keys should be self-explanatory. Programs referenced in either of the Run keys listed previously are run every time Windows starts, and are where you’ll find most of your startup programs. An entry referenced in one of the RunOnce keys is run only once and then removed from the key. If you find yourself returning to the two Run keys frequently, use Registry Editor’s Favorites menu to create shortcuts to each location, and name them accordingly (e.g., HKCU-Run and HKLM-Run).


Services
The Services window (services.msc) lists dozens of programs especially designed to run in the background in Windows Vista. The advantage that services have over the other startup methods here is that they remain active, even when no user is currently logged in. That way, for example, your web server can continue to serve web pages when the
Welcome/Login screen is displayed.

By default, some services are configured to start automatically with Windows and others are not, and this distinction is made in the Startup Type column. Double-click any service and change the Startup type option to Automatic to have it start with Windows, or Disabled if you never want it to start automatically. You can even group all the automatic services together by clicking the Startup Type column to sort the list.

So, you’ve decided to scour your system for superfluous or dangerous startup programs, and you’ve encountered one you don’t recognize. Before you pull the plug on a particular entry, follow these steps to find out what it’s for:

1. First, determine the name of the file involved. If it’s a Registry entry, the filename (and usually the full path) is shown in the right column in the Run/RunOnce key. For Startup folder items, right-click the shortcut icon and select Properties to uncover the program filename. Or, if it’s a service, double-click the service and look at the Path to executable line under the General tab.

2. Once you have the program filename, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the file’s location. (If the pathname wasn’t included, type the filename into Explorer’s Search box, and be sure to look beyond the index. Right-click the program executable, select Properties, and choose the Version tab. The manufacturer name, and sometimes the product name, will be listed here. If there’s no Version tab, it means the file has no version information, a symptom typically indicative of a virus or some form of malware.

3. If the file itself doesn’t explain its own purpose, fire up a web browser and search Google for the filename. In nearly all cases, you’ll find a web site that describes what it’s for, and in the case of malware, how to remove it.

4. Still stumped? Some malware installers create new, random filenames for their startup programs specifically so you can’t easily identify them. If you have a hunch that an entry doesn’t belong, try temporarily relocating it. If it’s a shortcut in your Startup folder, move the shortcut to a temporary folder rather than deleting it, which allows for easy retrieval if it turns out to be necessary.

5. Restart your system, and look for abnormalities (as well as normalities). If all is well, you can probably discard the removed entries. If you don’t feel like looking in all these places separately, but you also don’t feel comfortable ignoring them, open the Performance Information and Tools page in Control Panel and click the Manage Startup Programs link on the left to open the Windows Defender Software Explorer. You can also try a program like Startup Control Panel, available for free from http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml. Among other things, it has a “Recycle Bin” of sorts that lets you easily recover recently axed Startup programs.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows Vista Annoyances Tips Secrets and Hacks

Hackers and Crackers

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A second threat on the Internet, though rare compared to viruses, are hackers and crackers. These are people (or more likely computers) that sneak stuff into your computer through open ports in your Internet connection. Hacking in real life isn’t at all like it is in movies. In movies, some good-looking young kids take two or three guesses at some password and magically have access to the entire computer. In real life, it doesn’t work that way at all. Nobody can break into your computer and steal things or even look around.

The kind of hacking that takes place on computers is almost always done by computers, not humans. Some human programmer creates a program that just wanders around the Internet looking for open ports, sneaking some virus-type program onto a computer’s hard disk without the owner knowing it. This is a slow and tedious way to infect multiple computers and therefore isn’t done much. But it is done, and you need to have some protection. The type of program you use to protect your computer from hackers is called a firewall. It actually works on a very simple principle. Normally, your computer will just accept anything that comes in off the Internet, under the assumption that if there’s something coming in from the Internet, you must have requested it. That’s the very assumption that enables hackers to sneak things onto your computer.

The press and the general public use the terms hacker and cracker interchangeably, despite the fact that doing so irritates the daylights out of computer programmers.
In the programming world, hacker is a slang term for programmer. The vast majority of programmers in the world never write any code that would damage a computer or replicate itself, and they don’t like being put in the same category as those who know just enough programming to take some existing virus and tweak it into something else (not at all impressive to a real programmer).

Programmers refer to people who do bad things with their programming skills as crackers, not hackers. Cracker has its origins in the idea of a safecracker, one who breaks into safes. But these programmers don’t break into safes. They break into computers and networks where they don’t belong, stealing corporate secrets or just wreaking random havoc.

Source of Information : Wiley Alan Simpsons Windows Vista Bible Desktop Edition

Windows Vista firewall

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A firewall is a program that keeps track of what you’ve requested from the Internet. As information from the Internet comes streaming into your modem, the firewall takes a look at everything coming in. If the information is something you requested, the information rides in normally. If the information is not something you requested, the firewall rejects the information, so it never reaches your computer.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go out and buy a firewall, because there’s one built into Windows Vista. Chances are, it’s been protecting your computer from hackers since the day you installed or purchased Vista. But it certainly can’t hurt to take a look and make sure it’s running. First, you have to open your Network Connections folder. You can do so using any of the following techniques:

• Click the Start button and enter firewall into the search box. Select Windows Firewall from the selections that are displayed.

• Click the Start button and choose Control Panel. From the Control Panel home, click the Security heading, then click the Windows Firewall heading.

• Click the Start button and choose Network. In the Network window, click the Network and Sharing Center button in the toolbar. When in the Network and Sharing Center, select Windows Firewall from the left side of the page.

• If you see a little Notification icon that represents your Internet connection, right-click that icon and choose Network and Sharing Center. From the displayed window, select Windows Firewall from the left side. When you’ve selected one of these options, the Windows Firewall dialog box is displayed. This dialog box will tell you if your firewall is on or off as well as give you links to configure other firewall settings.

If your firewall is turned off, then you can turn it on by either clicking the Change settings link to the right of where you are told the firewall is off, or you can click the Turn Windows Firewall on or off link on the left side of the Firewall window. You can use this same method to turn off the firewall if it is on—something that it is not recommend doing since it protects you when it is on.

After you click the Change settings link, a new dialog box is displayed. You should make sure the General tab is selected; from there you can turn on or off the firewall by selecting the corresponding option. This dialog box enables you to not only turn on or off the firewall, but also configure a number of additional settings. On the Exceptions tab you can choose to make exceptions that will allow programs to get through the firewall.
Unless you know you need to make an exception, best to leave the settings as they are defaulted.

The final tab in the Firewall Settings is the Advanced tab. It enables you to configure a few advanced settings. This tab also includes a button called Restore Defaults that enables you to restore the default values for firewall settings. This is something you most likely won’t want to do since it may cause some programs to stop working if they require an exception to get through your firewall. Your version of Windows Vista may also have a second program that you find when searching for Firewall in the Start menu. This is the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security program.

You can also use this program to see whether your firewall is on. As you can see, the window is a bit more complicated than the standard Windows Firewall settings. For that reason, you may want to stick with the standard Windows Firewall dialog box for basic setup.

Source of Information : Wiley Alan Simpsons Windows Vista Bible Desktop Edition

Talking with VoIP in Ubuntu

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Ubuntu users are not restricted to the world of text and graphics. There are three different VoIP packages available for Dapper. The default Dapper desktop includes Ekiga-formerly called GnomeMeeting. This is an open source VoIP system that supports SIP and H.323 protocols. This means you can use Ekiga to talk to other Ekiga users, as well as Microsoft NetMeeting, Skype, and WengoPhone users. Skype and WengoPhone are also available for Ubuntu. Unlike Ekiga, Skype and WengoPhone provide VoIP to landline services. For a small fee, you can use your computer to dial a real telephone number.

Each of these VoIP choices offers similar functionality. Each supports audio, video, and text messaging, each can call directly or use a centralize registration and directory system, and each can handle multiple calls at once. The main differences are in licensing and landline access: Ekiga and WengoPhone are open source, whereas Skype is not, and only Skype and WengoPhone allow you to call a real telephone number (for a nominal fee). Although each of these systems can chat with a Microsoft NetMeeting user, none of them can view a shared NetMeeting desktop.

Ubuntu does not support all video devices. But if Ubuntu supports the device, then Ekiga and WengoPhone can probably use it for video conferencing. Unfortunately, Skype (for Linux) does not support video conferencing.

>>> Read more about Instant Messaging with Gaim in Ubuntu <<<

Source of Information : Hacking Ubuntu

How malware spreads

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Once they’ve infected a system, viruses and the like can be very difficult to remove. For that reason, your best defense against them is to prevent them from infecting your computer in the first place.

The most useful tool you can use to keep malware off your computer is your cerebral cortex. Just as malware is written to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems, the distribution of malware exploits the stupidity of users. Malware is typically spread in the following ways:


Email attachments
One of the most common ways viruses make their way into computers is through spam. Attachments are embedded in these junk email messages and sent by the millions to every email address in existence, for unsuspecting recipients to click, open, and execute. But how can people be that dumb, you may ask? Well, consider the filename of a typical
Trojan horse:

kittens playing with yarn.jpg .scr

Since Windows has its filename extensions hidden by default this is how the file looks to most Vista users:

kittens playing with yarn.jpg

In other words, most people wouldn’t recognize that this is an .scr (screensaver) file and not a photo of kittens. (The long space in the filename ensures that it won’t be easy to spot, even if extensions are visible.)

And since many spam filters and antivirus programs block .exe files, but not .scr files—which just happen to be renamed .exe files—this innocuous-looking file is more than likely to spawn a nasty virus on someone’s computer with nothing more than an innocent double-click. So, how do you protect yourself from these? First, don’t open email attachments you weren’t expecting, and manually scan everything else with an up-to-date virus scanner. Next, employ a good, passive spam filter, and ask your ISP to filter out viruses on the server side.


Infected files
Viruses don’t just invade your computer and wreak havoc, they replicate themselves and bury copies of themselves in other files. This means that once your computer has been infected, the virus is likely sitting dormant in any of the applications and even personal documents stored on your hard disk. This not only means that you may be spreading the virus each time you email documents to others, but that others may be unwittingly sharing viruses with you.
One of the most common types of viruses involves macros, small scripts (programming code) embedded in documents. By some estimates, roughly three out of every four viruses is actually a macro written for Microsoft Word or Excel. These macros are executed automatically when the documents that contain them are opened, at which point they attach themselves to the global template so that they can infect every document you subsequently open and save. Both Word and Excel have security features that restrict this feature, but these measures are clumsy and most people disable them so they can work on the rest of their documents. In other words, don’t rely on the virus protection built in to Microsoft Office to eliminate the threat of these types of viruses.


Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing
Napster started the P2P file-sharing craze years ago, but modern file sharing goes far beyond the trading of harmless music files. It’s estimated that some 40% of the files available on these P2P networks contain viruses, Trojan horses, and other unwelcome guests, but even these aren’t necessarily the biggest cause of concern. To facilitate the exchange of files, these P2P programs open network ports and create gaping holes in your computer’s firewall, any of which can be exploited by a variety of worms and intruders. And since people typically leave these programs running all the time (whether they intend to or not), these security holes are constantly open for business. But wait...there’s more! If the constant threat of viruses and Trojan horses isn’t enough, many P2P programs themselves come with a broad assortment of spyware and adware, intentionally installed on your system along with the applications themselves. Kazaa, one of the most popular filesharing clients, is also the biggest perpetrator of this, and the likely culprit if your system has become infected with spyware. (Note that other products like Morpheus, BearShare, Imesh, and Limewire do this, too, just in case you were thinking there was a completely “safe” alternative.)


Web sites
It may sound like the rantings of a conspiracy theorist, but even the act of visiting some web sites can infect your PC with spyware and adware. Not that it can happen transparently, but many people just don’t recognize the red flags even when they’re staring them in the face. Specifically, these are the “add-ins” employed by some web sites that provide custom cursors, interactive menus, or other eye candy. While loading a web page, you may see a message asking if it’s OK to install some ActiveX gadget “necessary” to view the page (e.g., Comet Cursor); here, the answer is simple: no.


Network and Internet connections
Finally, your network connection (both to your LAN and to the Internet) can serve as a conduit for a worm, the special kind of virus that doesn’t need your help to infect your system. Obviously, the most effective way to protect your system is to unplug it from the network, but a slightly more realistic solution is to use a firewall. Vista comes with a built-in firewall, although a router provides much better protection.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows Vista Annoyances Tips Secrets and Hacks

What is Viruses, Malware, and Spyware

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Malware, or malicious software, is a class of software designed specifically to wreak havoc on a computer—your computer. Malware includes such nasty entities as viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and spyware. If you’re experiencing frequent crashing, nonsensical error messages, pop-up advertisements (other than when surfing the Web), or slower-than-normal performance, the culprit may be one of the following types of malware (as opposed to a feature authored by Microsoft):

Viruses
A virus is a program or piece of code that “infects” other software by embedding a copy of itself in one or more executable files. When the software runs, so does the embedded virus, thus propagating the “infection.” Viruses can replicate themselves, and some (known as polymorphic viruses) can even change their virus signatures each time to avoid detection by antivirus software. Unlike worms, defined next, viruses can’t infect other computers without assistance from people. One particular type of virus, a Trojan horse, spreads itself by masquerading as a benign application (as opposed to infecting an otherwise valid file), such as a screensaver or even, ironically, a virus removal tool.

Worms
A worm* is a special type of virus that can infect a computer without any help from its user, typically through a network or Internet connection. Worms can replicate themselves like ordinary viruses, but do not spread by infecting programs or documents. A classic example is the W32.Blaster.Worm, which exploited a bug in Windows XP, causing it to restart repeatedly or simply seize up.

Spyware and adware
Spyware is a little different than the aforementioned viruses and worms, in that its purpose is not necessarily to hobble a computer or destroy data, but rather something much more insidious. Spyware is designed to install itself transparently on your system, spy on you, and then send the data it collects back to an Internet server. This is sometimes done to collect information about unsuspecting users, but most often to serve as a conduit for pop-up advertisements (known as adware).

Aside from the ethical implications, spyware can be particularly troublesome because it’s so often very poorly written, and as a result, ends up causing error messages, performance slowdowns, and seemingly random crashing. Plus, it uses your computer’s CPU cycles and Internet connection bandwidth to accomplish its goals, leaving fewer resources available for the applications you actually want to use.

Now, it’s often difficult to tell one type of malicious program from another, and in some ways, it doesn’t matter. But if you understand how these programs work—how they get into your computer, and what they do once they’ve taken root—you can eliminate them and keep them from coming back.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows Vista Annoyances Tips Secrets and Hacks

Fine tuning Vista IE 7 security settings

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Internet Explore in Windows Vista has undergone massive changes and has many new security features, such as Protected Mode. What does that mean? In the past, Internet Explorer was prone to various different attacks, leaving it one of the weakest parts of the entire Windows operating system. Microsoft tried to stop automatic downloading and installation, and Web site exploits, in its release of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, but we all know that worked only a little. Flaws are still being discovered in Internet Explorer and attackers are trying to find new ways to trick users into installing their malicious code. How do you fix this problem? Simple-you isolate Internet Explorer into a secure environment so that in the future, if exploits are found, they will not work because IE cannot access resources other than its own. That new protection is found only in the Windows Vista version of Internet Explorer 7 and is called Protected Mode.

Protected Mode, the phishing filter that protects you against fake Web sites, combined with other security options in Internet Explorer 7, will help you secure your web browser and the other major point of entry for spyware, malware, and attackers.


Fine-tuning security settings
You can adjust the security settings in Internet Explorer within Internet Options. Follow these steps to adjust the security settings in IE7:

1. Open Internet Explorer 7.

2. Click Tools and select Internet Options.

3. After Internet Options loads, click the Security tab. The Security tab enables you to manage the individual settings for what is allowed in each of the browser zone settings-for example, if ActiveX controls are allowed to be automatically downloaded and installed in the Internet zone. You can adjust these zones by selecting the zone and then clicking the Custom Level button.

4. After the security settings for the zone selected load, you can scroll through the list of settings and check or uncheck any of the settings to enable or disable them, respectively. For optimal security, I recommend disabling a lot of these features beyond what is normally disabled. I recommend that you change for best security practices. When you are finished modifying all the settings, click OK to return to Internet Options.

Internet Explorer Security Zone Settings
Open table as spreadsheet

Settings Name

Function

Loose XAML

I like to select Disable for this option because few sites use it and disabling it means one less feature to worry about getting exploited.

XAML browser applications

I disable this setting as well because it also is not used much.

XPS documents

Disable this option for tighter security. If you don't use this document format, you should have no problems disabling it.

Run components not signed with Authenticode

For tighter security, select Disable.

Font download

Consider yourself very lucky if you ever run across a Web site that uses this feature. Disable it to be safe.

Enable .NET framework setup

Disable this setting. I do not understand why this option is even listed here.

Include local directory path when uploading files to a server

I like to disable this option for privacy and because it should never be needed.

Launching programs and files in an IFRAME

Disable this feature. Really, this should never be done.

Logon

I usually set this option to Prompt for user name and password for maximum security.



5. After you are back on the Security tab of Internet Options, make sure that the Enable Protected Mode box is checked for each of the zones. This is one feature that I believe should be enabled for all zones.

6. You are now ready to move on to the Advanced tab to adjust more security settings. Click the Advanced tab and scroll down the list to the Security section.

7. In the Security section, I recommend selecting Do not save encrypted pages to disk and Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed. These two settings will help protect your privacy as well as keep your important online data from Web sites, such as your bank's, safe.

8. When you are finished, click OK to save your changes.
You are now finished configuring Internet Explorer to run more securely and protect you even better when you are online.

Source of Information : Hacking Windows Vista ExtremeTech

Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit Architectures differences

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From an administrator’s perspective, there are a number of important differences between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Vista. One of the most noticeable differences is that the 64-bit version tends to run faster because Vista can make use of the full 64 bits of a machine to reduce the number of operations required to perform some tasks. A 64-bit register also provides better and easier access to memory. The system also has wider buses to transfer information. In short, a 64-bit system has all kinds of additional resources that a 32-bit system lacks and Vista makes use of them all.

A 64-bit system is also supposedly more secure because it can’t run any of those 16-bit applications that caused so many problems in the past. The 16-bit applications relied on libraries that have all kinds of nonsecure code—a perfect target for hackers who want to gain entry to the system. Of course, the fact that you can’t run 16-bit applications in Vista means that some applications that did run in the past won’t run now. You’ll find that game playing (at least older games) is a lot harder in the 64-bit version of Vista.

You’ll find that having a 64-bit version of Vista can also present some support problems because now you need 64-bit drivers as well. Many vendors aren’t providing 64-bit drivers yet because there isn’t enough market appeal for them. The same problem occurred when the 32-bit version of Windows first appeared. Vendors tried to stay in the world of 16-bits until enough people asked for the 32-bit drivers. Eventually, every vendor started producing 32-bit drivers and it became hard to locate 16-bit drivers. The same process is likely to occur with the 64-bit version of Vista. Eventually, you’ll find that you can obtain all of the 64-bit drivers you need.

Source of Information : Sybex Mastering Windows Vista Business

Overview of Wireless Technologies

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Wireless networking is amazingly useful, both on the job (so that you never have to play rock/paper/scissors over a limited number of Ethernet cables in a conference room), and even more so when traveling, enabling you to connect laptops and PDAs to the Internet in libraries, coffee shops, hotels, and many other public places. Wireless networking also provides an excellent mechanism for connecting networks of computers that are located in inaccessible locations or in existing structures where running new or additional cabling is a problem. Modulo security concerns, wireless networks can prevent the need to drill additional holes through Mount Vernon, the Vatican, or the Louvre.

Wireless networking refers to technology that enables a computer to communicate using standard network protocols, but without network cabling. Most commonly, wireless networks are local area networks (LANs) whose members use industry standards such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 to communicate. The original 802.11 standard was released in 1997, and defines the frequencies, data rates, and media access methods used to communicate between the participants in a wireless network. Subsequent standards have defined a potentially bewildering variety of 802.11X standards.

Regardless of the frequency and speed at which participants communicate, there are two basic types of wireless networks: ad hoc wireless networks and managed wireless networks. The characteristics of each (and their differences) are the following:

Ad hoc networks: Also referred to as peer-to-peer wireless networks, consist of some number of computers that each have a wireless networking interface card and that communicate directly with all of the other wireless computers on that network. This enables them to share files and printers, but will not provide access to wired or Internet network resources unless one (or more) of the computers is also connected to those other network resources and is configured to serve as a gateway, bridge, or router to the other network(s). Acronym fans may see Ad hoc networks referred to as IBSS (Independent Basic Service Sets) during the computer bowl.

Managed networks: Also referred to as infrastructure wireless networks, use an access point (sometimes also referred to as a base station) to manage communication between multiple wireless computers, acting much like a hub or switch for the wireless network. An access point is also typically connected to a wired network such as the Internet, and serves as the bridge or gateway between the wireless and wired networks. Access points are traditionally dedicated hardware devices (sometimes referred to as a HAP, a Hardware Access Point), such as Apple’s Airports or devices from companies such as LinkSys, NetGear, Cisco, and others, but can also be software solutions (referred to as SAPs, Software Access Points) that run on a computer that is equipped with both wired and wireless network connections. Acronym fans may see managed networks referred to as a BSS (Basic Service Set; N computers and one access point) or ESS (Extended Service Set; N access points and N computers forming one subnet) during the computer bowl.

Large areas that require wireless coverage can accomplish this by providing multiple access points and supporting roaming, which is the ability of a user’s connection to transfer from one access point to another. This is usually invisible to the user, though some access points require passwords or other authentication when moving between access points. Many networking hardware vendors also provide specialized hardware known as extension points that amplify the signal and therefore extend the range of an existing access point. Whether or not hardware access points support roaming or extension points is dependent on the hardware manufacturer. As with most networking hardware, a good rule of thumb is that buying all of your network hardware from the same vendor increases your chances for compatibility.

Agreement between the low-level wireless networking standards that the computers in your wireless network use is the most important aspect of setting up a successful wireless network. If the computers and access points can’t communicate in the first place, you aren’t going to be setting up much of anything. Though IEEE 802.11 is a published standard for wireless communication, several different 802.11 protocols and associated standards exist, not all of which are compatible with each other. The following is a current list of popular 802.11 standards, communication speeds, and compatibility promises:

802.11a: A standard for 802.11 communications using the regulated 5.0 GHz frequency, offering maximum communication speeds of 25 to 54 Megabits per second. It is not compatible with any other 802.11 standard.

802.11b: A standard for 802.11 communications using the unregulated 2.4 GHz frequency, offering maximum communication speeds of 5 to 11 Megabits per second. The 802.11b standard is forward compatible with the 802.11g and proposed 802.11n standards.

802.11g: A standard for 802.11 communications using the unregulated 2.4 GHz frequency, offering maximum communication speeds of 25 to 54 Megabits per second. The 802.11g standard is backward compatible with the 802.11b standard and forward compatible with the proposed 802.11n standard.

802.11n: A standard for 802.11 communications using the unregulated 2.4 GHz frequency, offering maximum communications speeds of 100 to over 200 Megabits per second. The 802.11n standard is designed to be backward compatible with the 802.11b and 802.11g standards.


Wireless networks also support a variety of security solutions, ranging from network names to encryption mechanisms. The most common of these are the following:

MAC (Media Access Control) filtering: A security mechanism that requires that access points be programmed with lists of the systems that can connect to them, identified by hardware Ethernet address. MAC security only prevents against unauthorized connections to an access point—it does not secure those communications, once established.

SSID (Service Set IDentifier): An SSID acts as a simple password by providing a unique identifier for a specific wireless network. Access points with a specific SSID can be configured to disallow access to anyone who does not provide that SSID when negotiating the initial connection. SSID security only prevents against unauthorized connections to an access point—it does not secure those communications, once established. An Extended Service Set IDentifier (ESSID) is just an SSID that is (or can be) used on multiple access points to identify the same network.

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy): A security mechanism that requires supplying a 48-, 64-, or 128-bit security key when negotiating a connection to an access point. This key is used for encrypting and decrypting wireless communications. If this key is the same as that used by the access point, the two can communicate successfully. WEP security protects against unauthorized access and also provides secure wireless communication, because all communication packets are encrypted.

WPA (WiFi Protected Access): A security mechanism that uses a Temporary Key Integrity Protocol to replace WEP and provides enhanced security on existing hardware. WPA uses a key server or pre-generated key set to encrypt communications on a per-packet basis. Two different WPA standards exist: WPA1, which was developed using a draft of the IEEE 802.11i security standard, and WPA2, which was developed using an approved version of the 802.11i security standard. WPA is not currently supported by all Ubuntu wireless applications, but is the next big thing for wireless network security.

All of these security measures can be used together, in any combination, or separately. Only WEP and WPA provide security for the packets that are being transmitted, but typing in a 128-bit key each time you configure a new wireless interface is both error-prone and incredibly tedious. Many sites therefore use MAC and SSID/ESSID security to establish connections, and then protect transmitted packets by using standard SSH tunneling or VPN technologies on top of the wireless communication layer.

Source of Information : Ubuntu Linux - Bible

How Is Windows Vista Different from Other Operating Systems?

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Many people would agree that Vista is probably the best and worst operating system Microsoft has ever put together. It’s the best operating system from a security and possibly a reliability perspective. Even though it requires substantial hardware to run, Vista tends to use the hardware more efficiently so you actually get better performance. However, there are the downsides of too much security and very high hardware requirements to consider too. Just how much security or hardware do you need to perform word processing tasks?


Windows Vista Compared with UNIX
UNIX is probably the most similar to Vista in terms of architecture. There are many different flavors of UNIX, however. Each flavor has a different user interface, and not all of them are graphical. As a group, UNIX operating systems are 32/64-bit, secure, and capable of running on a number of processor types. UNIX is mostly a server OS these days; it’s not very popular as a client OS anymore. In the past, artists and designers have used high-end UNIX-based workstations to create special effects for films. Vista, however, supports high-end 3D protocols. Running Vista on a high-powered 64-bit processor will give you equal processing power to those UNIX workstations, with the added punch of Vista, for a fraction of the price.

Vista also adds managed code to the mix. No, Vista doesn’t run everything using managed code, but you’ll find that the .NET Framework does appear with regularity as a requirement for Vista applications. Using managed code can improve system reliability and security. Using MONO (http://www.mono-project.com/Main_Page) lets you run the managed code on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows, and UNIX systems, so in reality, these other operating systems are losing their edge in platform independence. You may eventually see Windows applications in the same places you see everything else. In short, Vista is closing any gaps it had with UNIX and is making significant improvements in the areas where it already excelled.


Windows Vista Compared with Linux
Linux is a freely distributed 32/64-bit OS, a variant of UNIX. Many shells are available that add a friendly graphical face to Linux, making it more accessible to the average end-user than standard UNIX, but with all of UNIX’s stability. A large segment of the Linux fan base is the “anti-Microsoft” crowd that sees Microsoft’s industry dominance as a very bad thing and wants to counteract it in any way they can. They love Linux because of the philosophy behind it—free and constantly being collaboratively improved. In the end, the main reason for owning a computer is to run applications, right? So, it’s important to choose an OS that runs the applications you need. Some business software companies have released versions of their applications that run on Linux, but the majority of applications still run only on Windows (including Vista).


Windows Vista Compared with the Macintosh OS
Like Vista, the Macintosh OS is a 32/64-bit environment with built-in networking capabilities. Despite its well-known and intuitive interface, the Macintosh OS lacks many of the powerful features found in Vista. Object linking and embedding (OLE), Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI), and Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI) are all unfamiliar to Apple users. There’s also a relatively limited amount of software available to the Macintosh market as compared with the Windows market. The latest version of the Macintosh OS and Vista do have some significant changes to consider from previous editions. The Macintosh has received a well-deserved reputation for supporting magnificent graphics. That’s one of the reasons that this operating system is so popular with anyone who works with graphics. In this respect, the Macintosh operating system is still superior, but Vista is definitely making inroads. At some point, you can expect Windows and Macintosh to duke it out over the graphics issue. The Macintosh OS is also no longer limited to special Macintosh hardware. Apple made the interesting choice to give up that unique hardware and now you can find the Macintosh OS running on an Intel system near you. Consequently, Windows has lost a bit of its edge for running on open hardware. There are even reports that some people have gotten Windows and the Macintosh OS to dual boot on a single machine.

Source of Information : Sybex Mastering Windows Vista Business

Sharing Printers in Ubuntu

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After you have added your printer, you can share it with other people on the network. Sharing the printer requires knowing who will use it: other system using CUPS, other devices using LPD, or other computers running Windows.


Sharing With CUPS
To share the printer with CUPS, you will need to configure both the printer server and the client.

On the print server:
1. Edit /etc/cups/cups.d/ports.conf and change the line that reads Listen localhost:631 to Port 631. This tells CUPS to allow printing from any remote system.

2. (Optional) Edit /etc/cups/cups.d/browse.conf and change Browsing off to Browsing on. This allows the server to announce the printer's availability to other hosts on the network. The default is an announcement every 30 seconds.

3. Restart the CUPS subsystem on the print server.
sudo /etc/init.d/cupsys restart

On the print client:
1. Go to System -> Administration -> Printing to open the printer applet.

2. Double-click New Printer to configure the device.

3. Select a Network Printer and the CUPS Printer (IPP) protocol.

4. Enter the printer host name and printer name as a URL. For example, if the server is named printer.example.com and the printer is called Okidata127, then you would use ipp://printer.example.com/printers/Okidata127.

5. Click the Forward button and select the printer model.

6. Create a description for the printer

7. Click on the Apply button to create the printer.

CUPS provides many configuration options, but it has a long history of being a security risk. The CUPS installation includes a web-based administration interface. By default, it is not accessible remotely. (But if you followed the steps under Sharing With CUPS, then it is remotely accessible.) The URL for this interface is http://localhost:631/.

Although you can use the CUPS web interface to view and manage the print queue, the default administration interface does not permit adding new printers or changing configurations. This functionality is disabled in Ubuntu primarily due to security risks. Enabling this interface is not recommended. Instead, if you need to modify printer configurations, use the System -> Preferences -> Printing applet.


Sharing With LPD
Enabling LPD support is a little more complex since Ubuntu does not normally include servers.

On the print server:
1. Install xinetd on the print server. This is the extended Internet daemon for running processes.
sudo apt-get install xinetd

2. Create a configuration file for the printer service. This requires creating a file called /etc/xinetd.d/printer. The contents should look like this:
service printer
{
socket_type = stream
protocol = tcp
wait = no
user = lp
group = sys
server = /usr/lib/cups/daemon/cups-lpd
server_args = -o document-format=application/octet/stream
}

3. Restart the xinetd server.
sudo /etc/init.d/xinetd restart

On the printer client:
1. Go to System -> Administration -> Printing to open the printer applet.

2. Double-click New Printer to configure the device.

3. Select a Network Printer and the Unix Printer (lpd) protocol.

4. Enter the print server host name (or IP address) in the Host field and the CUPS printer name under the Queue field.

5. Continue through the remaining screens to select the printer type and configuration. On the final screen, click the Apply button to create the printer.


Sharing with Windows
It is usually best to use a native printing protocol. For Ubuntu, LPD and CUPS are native. Most versions of Windows support network printing to LPD servers, so sharing with LPD should be enough, but it requires user to configure their printers.

Native Windows environments can share printers using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. This allows Windows users to browse the Network Neighborhood and add any shared printers-very little manual configuration is required. For Ubuntu to share a printer with Windows users requires installing SAMBA, an open source SMB server.

On the print server:
1. Install SAMBA on the print server. This provides Windows SMB support.
sudo apt-get install samba

2. Create a directory for the print spool.
sudo mkdir /var/spool/smbprint

3. Edit the SAMBA configuration file: /etc/samba/smb.conf.

4. Change workgroup = to match your Windows Workgroup.

5. Under the [global] section is an area for printer configuration. Uncomment (remove the leading ;) the load printers = yes and CUPS printing lines.

6. Set the [printers] section to look like this:
[printers]
comment = All Printers
browseable = no
security = share
use client driver = yes
guest ok = yes
path = /var/spool/smbprint
printable = yes
public = yes
writable = yes
create mode = 0700
This setting allows any Windows client to access the printers without a password.

7. (Optional) Under the [printers] section, set browseable = yes. This allows Windows systems to see the printers through the Network Neighborhood.

8. Restart the SAMBA server.
sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart

On the Windows client, you can add the printer as if it were a Windows printer. For example, if the server's name is printer.example.com and the printer is Okidata127, then the shared printer resource would be \\printer.example.com\Okidata127. Windows clients will need to install their own print drivers.

>>> Read more about Adding Printers in Ubuntu <<<

Source of Information : Hacking Ubuntu Serious Hacks Mods and Customizations

Should You Upgrade to Windows Vista?

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Whether you should upgrade to Vista depends on your needs, how well your current version of Windows is fulfilling them, and whether your hardware is up to the test. The decision is wholly yours (of course), but the following sections offer some suggestions, depending on where you’re coming from.

Windows 3.x, Windows 9x, Windows NT, Windows 2000
Vista requires a ton of new hardware, so if you’re using an old system that has one of these operating systems installed on it, you’ll need to start from scratch. Microsoft doesn’t offer any upgrade path for you and it’s unlikely that your hardware will handle all of the requirements of Vista. You have good reasons to upgrade to Vista. Microsoft has ended or is ending support for all of these products, including fixes for problems that viruses and spyware can use to gain entry to your system. Most new applications also require something a bit more robust than these older operating systems can provide. The hardware you’re using will eventually give up the ghost, but you’ll probably give up on it first because you’ll want to perform the tasks that your neighbor can. These older operating systems just don’t offer quite the functionality that Vista can provide.

Windows XP Home Edition
Interestingly enough, this version of Windows XP provides the largest number of upgrade possibilities. You can upgrade to any Vista edition. There are a lot of reasons to upgrade Windows XP Home Edition and many of you already know what they are because people have been creating workarounds for Windows XP Home Edition shortcomings for quite some time. For most people, the biggest reason to upgrade to Vista is the extra security it provides. It’s a lot harder to become infested with viruses and spyware when the system is working so hard to keep itself clean. Of course, nothing is impossible. Home business users will gain access to a number of new features, not the least of which is the small business support that Microsoft provides with Vista. You’ll also like features such as Game Explorer if you have to share access to the system with your children. All of the new applications are helpful as well. A home user doesn’t need all of the capabilities of Outlook. With the addition of features such as Windows Calendar, you no longer have to decide between the cost of a full version of Windows and the functionality you require to get the job done.

Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center, and Windows XP Tablet PC
Microsoft has provided less flexible upgrade paths for these other Windows XP editions. The reason is that these Windows XP editions provided specific functionality that some Vista editions don’t provide. Here’s the list of update choices for each of the Windows XP editions.

• Windows XP Professional: Vista Business or Vista Ultimate
• Windows XP Media Center: Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate
• Windows XP Tablet PC: Vista Business or Vista Ultimate

Security is a very good reason to upgrade from these other Windows XP editions. Microsoft does provide significant changes in security that makes securing your system significantly easier. The new security management tools are also a plus. For example, you can now create group policies with greater ease. In addition, the policies don’t consume as much space or lend themselves to certain kinds of corruption that plagued earlier versions of Windows. If you get Vista Ultimate, you obtain everything that Windows has to offer, including full media support. However, most business users will find that Vista Business does everything they need, including providing support for the Tablet PC. You can actually access all of the Tablet PC utilities from your desktop now.

I’m sure you’ll agree that there are many good reasons, but often you’ll need to add extra memory or a new display adapter to your existing system to make it work with Vista. It’s important to consider the tradeoff of investment in new hardware against the new features that Vista provides. In some cases, you’ll find that sticking with Windows XP for now is the best choice.

Source of Information : Sybex Mastering Windows Vista Business

What is Red Hat Linux SMTP and sendmail

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Even with multimedia attachments and HTML encoding prevalent in e-mail messages today, the technology behind message transfer hasn't changed significantly since the early 1980s. The framework for the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) was initially described in RFC 821 in 1982. The protocol itself was extended in 1993 (RFC 1425), yielding the Extended Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (ESMTP), which provides more commands and new delivery modes.

The three parts to message transfer are the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA), the Mail Delivery Agent (MDA), and the Mail User Agent (MUA). The MTA, commonly referred to as the mail server (of which sendmail and postfix are examples), actually handles distributing outgoing mail and listening for incoming mail from the Internet. The MDA accepts messages from the MTA and copies the message into a user's mailbox. Red Hat Linux uses /usr/bin/procmail as the default MDA, as specified in sendmail's configuration file. For sites that have a centralized mail server, Post Office Protocol (POP) clients are also considered MDAs. An MUA is the program run by a user to read incoming mail or to send messages to others.

sendmail MTA, the most common mail server on the Internet. Nearly 70 percent of all e-mail messages on the Internet are delivered by sendmail. With the growing Internet population, billions of e-mail messages are sent and received each day. postfix are an alternative to sendmail also.

There have been three major releases of sendmail. The original sendmail (sendmail version 5) was written in 1983 by Eric Allman, a student at the University of California at Berkeley. He maintained the code until 1987, when Lennart Lövstrand enhanced the program, simplified the configuration, and developed IDA sendmail. Eric Allman returned to Berkeley in 1991 and embarked on a major code revision, releasing sendmail V8 in 1993, which incorporated the extensions from IDA sendmail. The current version (8.12.9) is based on this "version 8" code.

Installing a mail server in Red Hat Linux is the easy part; it's the configuration that takes patience, resolve, and some experimentation. Once your mail server is running, it is easy to set up a Post Office Protocol service to allow users to download e-mail to their own workstations.

You can replace Sendmail with Postfix as your mail-transfer agent in Red Hat Linux. To make the transition a bit easier, Red Hat provides the alternatives feature. Alternatives let you to switch one MTA for another by linking essential files to the package you choose.

Sooner or later, an alias definition in /etc/aliases will become unmanageable. At this point, mailing list software, such as majordomo, can provide the flexibility necessary to manage a large distribution list, with the added benefits of archiving, moderation, digesting, and automated administration.

>>> Read more about Installing and Running sendmail in Red Hat Linux <<<

Source of Information : Red Hat Linux Bible - Fedora And Enterprise Edition

Migrating to Windows Vista

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Upgrading an existing installation of the Windows desktop operating system to Windows Vista. Like the clean installation, an in-place upgrade also requires that you perform certain checks on the existing system hardware, device drivers, and applications to find out if they can be successfully ported to Windows Vista.The following explain the things you must take care of before performing an in-place upgrade.

Planning for an Upgrade
Before you upgrade an existing Windows operating system, first check that the current version of Windows can be upgraded to Windows Vista. If yes, you must also check which version of Windows Vista is most suitable for your requirements. In case you have Windows 95, Windows 98,Windows ME or Windows NT Workstation, you can only perform a clean install. Upgrade from these operating systems if not supported in Windows Vista. You can upgrade only desktop operating systems such as Windows XP to Windows Vista. It is not possible to upgrade any server operating system like Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 to Windows Vista.

Hardware Compatibility
As with a clean install, you must also check your current system hardware to make sure it is compatible with Windows Vista.The most important step is to check that the hardware device drivers will work with the upgraded operating system. For example, if you have any custom PnP devices or legacy non-PnP devices, obtain Vista-compatible device drivers beforehand. If you do not have a compatible device driver, check with the manufacturer and obtain a device driver that is compatible with Windows Vista.

Application Compatibility
When you upgrade the existing installation of a previous version of the Windows operating system, most applications will be available in Window Vista also, along with any settings you may have configured for it. But, before you can really enjoy the applications with the upgraded operating system, make sure these applications are compatible with Windows Vista and there won’t be any functional problems. If necessary, update these applications before starting the upgrade installation. The Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.0 can help you check compatibility issues with currently installed applications. This tool will identify the currently installed applications and report any problems. You can get the download link for ACT 5.0 tool from Microsoft’s Web site at http://technet.microsoft.com/enus/windowsvista/aa905102.aspx.

Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor
The simplest way to check the compatibility of existing system hardware, applications, device drivers, and so on is to run Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. This utility provides a detailed report after running a check on all system components. You can run this utility on 32-bit versions of Windows Vista Windows 2000 Professional SP 4 and Windows XP SP2.You can launch the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor in several ways:

• Download Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft’s Web site at www.microsoft.
com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/upgradeadvisor.mspx.

• Run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor directly from the preceding Web site.

• Run the setup.exe program from Windows Vista DVD and click the Check
Compatibility Online option when you start the upgrade installation.

Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor Report displayed report is divided into the following categories:
• System The information under the System tab of the report tells you about any problems while running some editions of Windows Vista. For example, a computer may be well suited for Vista Home Basic edition, but it may not have the necessary hardware to run Vista Ultimate edition.

• Devices The information under the Devices tab of the report tells you about any problems with existing device driver files.

• Programs Information under the report’s Programs tab tells you about any potential problems with application compatibility.

• Task List The information under the Task List tab tells you about the most appropriate Windows Vista edition. This page also contains information on what you need to do before installing Windows Vista. You can print the Task List or save it by clicking the Print and Save Task List link located at the top-right corner of the window.

Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor works on individual computers to perform a check on existing system components and determines which edition of Windows Vista is most suitable. When working on a large number of computers, it may not be possible for administrators to run this utility on each and every desktop. Microsoft provides the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool, which can be used in a network to check all desktops that need to be upgraded to Windows Vista. This tool can be downloaded from Microsoft’s Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/solutionaccelerators/hardwareassessment/wv/default.aspx.

Source of Information : Syngress How to Cheat at Microsoft Vista Administration

Examining Ubuntu Boot Process with Boot Chart

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Boot chart (www.bootchart.org), by Ziga Mahkovec, is an impressive and useful utility that monitors the boot process, creating data files that it uses to generate a graphical representation of your system’s boot process.

Boot chart isn’t installed by default on Ubuntu systems, but you can install it manually using either the Synaptic Package Manager or the apt-get utility. When installed on Ubuntu systems, Boot chart adds itself to the initial RAM filesystem used by your kernel to capture data about the boot process, and then adds a script to your runtime root filesystem’s startup process (/etc/init.d/stop-bootchart, symlinked to /etc/rc2.d/S99stop-bootchart) that processes the collected data and generates the graphical record of the boot/startup process.

Boot chart uses a Java application to generate a Portable Network Graphics (PNG) graphics file in /var/log/bootchart. This file is named based on the day that it was created and a version number; so that multiple files created on the same day don’t overwrite each other. You can configure Boot chart to produce graphics in SVG or EPS formats (or to preserve the data files that it creates) by modifying the /etc/init.d/stop-bootchart script.

Not only is it really cool to have a graphical record of the boot process, but that graphical record can becvery valuable in terms of helping you identify startup scripts that are running that you don’t want or need to run, extra invocations of system or X Window system processes, and so on. Boot chart adds very little overhead to your system’s startup process, but the view of the system startup process that it provides can be invaluable.

On Linux distributions that do not yet use an initial RAM filesystem (but still use an initial RAM disk), you can still use Boot chart by installing it on your system and modifying the GRUB boot entry for your kernel to include an init=/sbin/bootchartd entry so that the system runs the Bootchart data collection script before starting the /sbin/init program and executing the normal sequence of startup scripts.

>>> Read more about Optimizing the Ubuntu Boot Process <<<

Source of Information : Ubuntu Linux - Bible

What is Samba Server

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When you get right down to it, more data is probably stored on Windows systems than on any other type of computer system. All of those 10GB home and office systems add up to a tremendous number of Windows filesystems holding a staggering amount of data. Samba gives Linux users transparent access to Windows filesystems, but is more commonly used to give Windows users transparent access to Linux, Unix, and Unix-like systems. Samba does this by providing a network interface that is compatible with the networked file and printer-sharing protocols used between Windows systems. To a Windows system, a Linux system running Samba looks exactly like a random Windows system that is sharing filesystems across the network. This enables Windows users to take advantage of the speed, power, and capacity of Linux systems without even realizing that they are accessing Linux filesystems.

Samba is a free and impressive interface for Linux, Unix, and other types of systems to any other networked device that can communicate using the SMB protocol, most notably Windows systems that provide networked access to files, directories, and printers. Samba enables Windows users to access Linux file systems and resources just like any other Windows shared file system or networked resource. For example, with Samba running on a Linux system on your network, Windows users can mount their Linux home directories as networked Windows drives and automatically print to Linux printers just like any other networking Windows printer. Samba, which was originally authored by Andrew Tridgell, is one of the most impressive pieces of interoperability software ever developed.

Samba includes both client and server software—in other words, client software that enables users to communicate from Linux machines to SMB hosts on your network, and server software that provides an SMB interface for your Linux machine.

A Samba server actually consists of two processes, both of which can be started from the command line or automatically by integrating them into your system’s startup procedure. These processes are smbd, the Samba daemon that provides file sharing and print services to Windows clients, and nmbd, the NetBIOS name server that maps the NetBIOS names used by Windows SMB requests to the IP addresses used by Linux systems. The Samba daemon is configured by modifying its configuration file, /etc/samba/smb .conf. On Ubuntu systems, you can either configure specific directories that you want to export via Samba using graphical tools, entitled “Using the Shared Folder Tool to Share Directories,” or you can manually modifying the Samba configuration file, entitled “ Samba Server Configuration Essentials.”

Interoperability between Linux and Windows systems is much more than just Samba. The Linux kernel provides built-in support for the protocols used to access Windows filesystems, enabling Linux users to mount Windows filesystems via entries in /etc/fstab, just like any other filesystem resource.

>>> Read more about Samba Server <<<

Source of Information : Ubuntu Linux - Bible

What Is Ubuntu BASH Shell?

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The best way of explaining the BASH shell to a Windows user is to compare it to the DOS command prompt. It lets you issue commands directly to the operating system via the keyboard without needing to mess around with the mouse and windows (although it is sometimes possible to use the mouse within a BASH shell to copy and paste text, and sometimes to control simple textbased menus). The big difference is that the BASH shell has commands for just about everything you might do on your system, whereas the DOS command prompt is restricted to tools capable of manipulating and viewing files and directories, and on Windows 2000/XP machines, configuring certain system settings.

In the old days, the DOS command prompt was also the visible layer of an entire operating system in which DOS programs were designed to be run. However, the shell is merely one of the many ways of accessing the Linux kernel and subsystems. It’s true that many programs are designed to run via the BASH shell, but technically speaking, most actually run on the Linux operating system, and simply take input and show their input via the BASH shell.

Linux finds itself with the BASH shell largely because Linux is a clone of Unix. In the early days of Unix, the text-based shell was all that was offered as a way of letting users control the computer. Typing commands in directly is one of the most fundamental ways of controlling any type of computer and, in the evolutionary scale, comes straight after needing to set switches and watch blinking lights in order to run programs.

That the BASH shell can trace its history back to the early days of Unix might sound like a tacit indication that the BASH is somehow primitive—far from it. It’s one of the most efficient and immediate ways of working with your computer. Many people consider the commandline shell to be a way of using a computer that has yet to be superseded by a better method.

Most Linux distributions come with a choice of different kinds of shell programs. However, the default shell is BASH, as is the case in Ubuntu. BASH stands for Bourne Again SHell. This is based on the Bourne shell, a tried-and-tested program that originated in the early days of Unix.

The other shells available include PDKSH (Public Domain Korn SHell, based on Korn
Shell, another early Unix shell), and ZSH (Z SHell), a more recent addition. These are usually used by people who want to program Linux in various ways, or by those who simply aren’t happy with BASH.

The BASH shell is considered by many to be the best of all worlds in that it’s easy enough for beginners to learn yet is able to grow with them and offer additional capabilities as necessary. BASH is capable of scripting, for example, which means you can even create your own simple programs.

When you run a shell on a Linux system, the system refers to it as a tty device. This stands for teletypewriter, a direct reference to the old system of inputting data on what were effectively electronic typewriters connected to mainframe computers. These, in turn, took their names from the devices used to automate the sending and receiving of telegrams in the early part of the twentieth century.

Technically speaking, a shell refers to any type of user interface. The windowing system offered by Windows and Macintosh operating systems are a type of shell. However, many people in the Linux and Unix worlds use the word shell as shorthand for a shell that offers a command line.

>>> Read more about Why use Shell in Ubuntu <<<

Source of Information : Beginning Ubuntu Linux - From Novice To Professional

Windows Server 2008 Enhances Networking - Offloading protocol processing

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Certain specialized network interfaces and hardware are capable of offloading the often resource-intensive burden of processing TCP/IP network stack information, which requires handling of a multilayered protocol framework to deliver encapsulated data. This frees up local CPU and RAM to process other general-purpose tasks and moves the strain of ongoing network connection processes to specially-designed hardware designated for that purpose.

By encapsulated data, we refer to the way data is packaged as it travels down the TCP/IP network protocol stack. Higher-level protocols are encapsulated within header (and sometimes trailer) information so that lower-level routing and switching devices can process (and in some cases interpret) protocol data.

Protocol offload processing is supported through software that is called the TCP Chimney in Windows and hardware that is called the TCP Offload Engine.


TCP Chimney
The TCP Chimney is a feature introduced first in Windows Vista and second — by extension — in Windows Server 2008. It’s the result of Microsoft’s Scalable Networking initiative, which encompasses a number of changes to the core network infrastructure of every new platform product. The goal is to reduce operational overhead associated with establishing, maintaining, and terminating connection state — the status of a given network connection — and all requisite state information throughout the lifetime of a connection. By removing such overhead from general-purpose resources and delegating the responsibility to special-purpose network interfaces, additional computing resources are freed up, especially on servers.

A chimney is a collection of offloaded protocol state objects and any associated semantics that enable the host computer to offload network protocol processing to some other network device, usually the network interface. Since NDIS 6.0, Windows Server has included an architecture that supports full TCP offload, called a chimney offload architecture because it provides a direct connection between applications and an offload capable network adapter. This enables the network adapter to perform TCP/IP stack processing for offloaded connections, as well as to maintain the protocol state.


Changes to NDIS
Microsoft’s Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) defines a standard application programming interface (API) for network adapters. The details of a network adapter’s hardware implementation are wrapped by a MAC device driver so that all devices for the same media are accessed in a common, predictableway.

NDIS provides the library of functionality necessary to drive network interactions for the Windows platform that both simplifies driver development tasks and hides the ugliness of platform-specific dependencies. Some of the new features provided by NDIS specification version 6.0 are described below.

New offload support
NDIS 6.0 now supports new offloading network traffic processing functionality to compatible network adapters that includes:

• IPv6 traffic offload: NDIS 5.1 (Windows XP, Windows Server 2003) already supports IPv4 protocol offload processing; NDIS 6.0 also includes IPv6 traffic.

• IPv6 checksum offload: Checksum calculations for IPv6 can now be offloaded to compliant network adapters.

• Large send offload (version 2): NDIS 5.1 supports large send offload (LSO), which offloads the segmentation of TCP protocol data into 64K blocks. Large send offload 2 (LSOv2) in NDIS 6.0 now offloads much larger blocks.


Support for lightweight filter drivers
Intermediate filter drivers are replaced by lightweight filter (LWF) drivers, a combination of an NDIS 6.0 intermediate driver and a miniport driver. LWF improves performance, consolidates protocol driver support, and provides a bypass mode where LWF examines only select control and data paths.


Receive-side scaling
Multiprocessor computers running Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP associate a given network adapter with a single processor. That individual processor must handle all traffic for that interface, despite the fact that other processors may be available. This impacts Web- and file-server performance when client connections reach the serviceable limit of that associated processor.

Incoming traffic that can’t be handled by either network interface or server processor will be discarded, which is undesirable in just about every situation. This increases the number of TCP/IP-oriented session serialization and sequence identifiers and amplifies performance penalties as a result of network stack retransmissions.

Both session serialization (sessions encoded as a sequence) and sequence identifiers (unique numeric values associated with serialized sessions) are related to the protocol stack. These properties help identify what portions of data are assembled and in what order, such that portions arriving out-oforder are properly reordered and those that never arrive are requested again.

Windows Server 2008 no longer associates a network adapter to a single processor; instead, inbound traffic is distributed among the available processor array and processed accordingly. This feature is called receive-side scaling, which allows for more inbound traffic on high-volume network interfaces. A multiprocessor server computer can scale its ability to handle incoming traffic without additional hardware, so long as compliant network adapters are already in place.

>>> Read more about Windows Server 2008 Enhances Networking - Next Generation TCP/IP stack <<<

Source of Information : For Dummies Windows Server 2008 For Dummies

How to Install PowerShell in Windows Server 2008

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PowerShell is not installed in any version of Windows by default. For earlier versions of Windows (Windows XP, Windows Server 2003), you needed to download software from Microsoft's web site. However, as PowerShell is included in the installation binaries, installing it on Windows Server 2008 is really very simple.

PowerShell has only one key dependency, the .NET Framework version 2.0, which needs to be installed before you can install PowerShell. In Windows Server 2008, the .NET Framework is installed by default. In Windows Server 2008, PowerShell is an optional feature that you can install either using Server Manager, or as part of an unattended installation.

Use the Server Manager to add the PowerShell feature as follows:
1. Run Server Manager, and select the option to add a feature.
2. Select the PowerShell feature and click Next.
3. Sit back and watch the installation run.

As PowerShell is an OS feature, the installer places PowerShell's core components into the %systemroot%\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0 folder. The installer adds copy help files, formatting XML, some "getting started" documents, and a sample profile file to this location.

PowerShell is a managed application, based on the .NET Framework. To speed up load times, the PowerShell installer also installs PowerShell's core binaries into the .NET Global Assembly Cache.

Installing PowerShell also updates the Registry as follows:
Three new file types are added to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. They are .ps1 (PowerShell script files), .ps1xml (PowerShell display XML), and .psc1 (PowerShell Console).

The installation process also populates the Registry key: KEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PowerShell\1.

The installer modifies the system path to include %systemroot%\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0.

Once you have installed PowerShell, you can verify a successful installation by clicking Start, then Run, and then entering PowerShell and hitting Return.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows Server 2008 The Definitive Guide

Windows Server 2008 Roles vs. Features

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Windows Server 2008 is entirely roles-based in how you manage it. There is no longer a concept of installing many separate and unrelated components the way there was in older server operating systems. In Windows Server 2008 you decide what role you wish your server to play and the Server Manager tool provisions it with the necessary software to do that.

Microsoft distinguishes between roles and features. A role is a collection of software that collectively enables the server to provide some service to the network. Generally, a role is what you bought the server for. An example of a role is “Domain Controller” or “Application Server” (such as a Web server with application frameworks). Often a role can be installed in one step, but may require significant configuration to function the way you want it to. For instance, you can easily promote a server to become a Domain Controller but unless you add user and computer accounts to it, having a DC does not do much good.

Features, on the other hand, are simpler. They are things that many servers need, and that there is a good reason to have, but that you may not consider as the primary reason you bought the server. They do not describe the server in the way roles do. In some cases, features involve no services at all, as is the case with the Recovery Disk feature, which is just a tool. Other features do have services associated with them. In many cases, a feature is simply a way to surface the installation of a service to an administrator. Many of the things you saw under the Programs And Features Control Panel in Windows Vista are listed as features in Windows Server 2008. In some cases, the distinction between roles and features is quite unclear. For example, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name Service (DNS) are both roles, but Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) is a feature. WINS keeps track of DHCP-assigned Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and provides the same services for legacy Windows networks that DNS provides for up-level ones. As you go through the features, you will find that some optional components slated for deprecation are listed as features. This is now the only way to install them.

Some roles require certain features to work. For instance, the Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) role requires the Windows Internal Database feature (Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Embedded Edition). Likewise, some features may require other features, as is the case with Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM), which also requires the Windows Internal Database.

In many cases, the links between features and roles are quite intricate. For example, consider the case of an Application Server. If you attempt to install that role on a freshly laid down server you are asked to install two features—.NET Framework 3.0 Features and Windows Process Activation.

Unless you specifically modify the default selections you will get all the roles and features installed that are needed for the essential services of the particular role, along with the basic feature support. You can uncheck things you do not want, but if you uncheck something that you must have, the system will inform you that you cannot install the role in that case.

Source of Information : Microsoft Press Windows Server 2008 Security Resource Kit

Windows Server 2008 Security Features

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Windows Server 2008 includes an impressive array of new security applications and features that further enhance enterprise deployments, particularly within hostile environments or under potentially threatening scenarios. Today’s Internet is a brightly illuminated world that casts shadows, and from those shadows arise criminal aspirations that seek to infiltrate, pilfer, and undermine Internet-accessible businesses. Microsoft has stepped up its Windows Server 2008 defenses to better serve the computing public that can’t always defend against unforeseen, persistent, or stealthy attack.

The following paragraphs briefly summarize some of the new and newly enhanced security features of the Windows Server 2008 family:

• BitLocker Drive Encryption is a security feature of both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 (again sharing a common base) to provide strong cryptographic protection over stored sensitive data within the operating system volume. BitLocker encrypts all data stored in the Windows volume and any relevant configured data volumes, which includes hibernation and paging files, applications, and application data. Furthermore, BitLocker works in conjunction with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) frameworks to ensure the integrity of protected volumes from tampering, even — and especially — while the operating system isn’t operational (like when the system is turned off).

• Windows Service Hardening turns Internet-facing servers into bastions resistant to many forms of network-driven attack. This restricts critical
Windows services from performing abnormal system activities withinthe file system, registry, network, or other resources that may be leveraged to install malware or launch further attacks on other computers.

• Microsoft Forefront Security Technologies is a comprehensive solution that provides protection for the client operating system, application servers, and the network edge. In the Forefront Client Security role, you may provide unified malware protection for business notebooks, workstations, and server platforms with easier management and control. Server security can fortify Microsoft Exchange messaging environments
or protect Office SharePoint Server 2007 services against viruses, worms, and spam.

• Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server provides enterpriseworthy firewall, virtual private network (VPN), and Web caching solutions to protect IT environments against Internet-based threats. Microsoft’s Intelligent Application Gateway is a remote-access intermediary thatprovides secure socket layer (SSL) application access and protection with endpoint security management.

• User Account Control (UAC) enables cleaner separation of duties to allow non-administrative user accounts to occasionally perform administrative tasks without having to switch users, log off, or use the Run As command. UAC can also require administrators to specifically approve applications that make system-wide changes before allowing those applications to run. Admin Approval Mode (AAM) is a UAC configuration that creates a split user access token for administrators, to further separate administrative from non-administrative tasks and capabilities.

• Windows Firewall and Advanced Security is an MMC snap-in that handles both firewall and IP Security (IPSec) configurations in Windows Sever 2008. This edition is the first to have the Windows Firewall enabled by default. It can create filters for IPv4 and IPv6 inbound or outbound traffic and protect information entering or exiting the computer through IPSec. This component replaces both the firewall applet and the IPSec and IPSec-related tool sets.

• Network Access Protection (NAP) is a policy enforcement platform built into Windows Server 2008 that maintains a social health order for the network environment by specifically requiring that connecting client computers meet certain criteria. Such requirements include having a current, functional firewall enabled with recent operating system updates already in place. NAP helps create custom health code requirements driven through policy enforcement to validate compliant computers before making any connections to the protected network.

Source of Information : For Dummies Windows Server 2008 For Dummies

Run Physical or Virtual Machines in Windows Server 2008

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With the coming of Windows Server 2008 and its embedded virtualization technology, or hypervisor, you need to rethink the way you provide resources and build the datacenter.
With the advent of powerful new 64-bit servers running either WS08 Enterprise or
Datacenter edition, it has now become possible to virtualize almost every server type, with little or no difference in performance, especially if you base your host server builds on Server Core. Users do not see any difference in operation, whether they are on a virtual or physical machine. And with the advent of the new hypervisor built into WS08, the virtualversus-physical process becomes completely transparent. That’s because unlike previous Microsoft virtualization technologies, which actually resided over the top of the operating system, the new hypervisor resides below the operating system level.

In addition, the WS08 hypervisor has a very small footprint and does not need an additional operating system to run. When you install the WS08 Hyper-V role with Server
Core, the hypervisor is installed directory on top of the hardware. An advantage this modelgives you is that all system drivers reside in the virtual machine itself, not in the hypervisor.

All the hypervisor does is expose hardware resources to the virtual machine (VM). The VM then loads the appropriate drivers to work with these hardware resources. VMs have better access to the host system’s resources and run with better performance because there are fewer translation layers between them and the actual hardware.

To further support the move to the dynamic datacenter, Microsoft has changed the licensing mode for virtual instances of Windows Server. This change was first initiated with WS03 R2. In WS03 R2, running an Enterprise edition version on the host system automatically grants four free virtual machine licenses of WS03 R2 Enterprise edition (EE). Add another WS03 R2 EE license, and you can build four more VMs. On average, organizations will run up to 16 virtual machines on a host server, requiring only four actual licenses of WS03 R2 EE.

Microsoft carries over this licensing model with WS08. The first Enterprise edition license grants one license for the host and four licenses for VMs. Each other license grants four more licenses for VMs. If you purchase the WS08 Datacenter edition, you can run an unlimited number of VMs on that host. Remember also that the licenses for VMs support any version of Windows Server. This means you can run Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows Server 2003, as well as WS08.

Virtualization provides great savings and decreases general server provisioning timelines, as well as reducing management overhead. For example, one system administrator can manage well over 100 virtualized servers, as well as the hosts required to run them.

Source of Information : McGraw Hill Microsoft Windows Server 2008 The Complete Reference

Other Office 2007 Applications advantages

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You may be a user whose needs extend beyond letter writing and number crunching. If you routinely take on special tasks such as creating printed publications or tracking extensive customer data, you may find yourself working with some of the other applications that are part of some editions of Microsoft Office 2007.

Publisher
Microsoft Office Publisher 2007 enables you to create publications, which have a greater emphasis on design than do word processing documents. To dummy-proof the creative process, Publisher includes attractive publication designs with placeholders for text and images and other features such as decorative rules and backgrounds already in place. Publisher provides placeholders and design elements so that you can create interesting publications with minimal design know-how.

The distinction between documents and publications may seem fuzzy, but you can roughly think of a document as anything you’d print from an office printer—such as a report or proposal—compared to something you might have professionally printed, such as a business card or brochure.

Access
The Microsoft Office Access 2007 database program can certainly do the heavy lifting when it comes to managing detailed mountains of data such as customer, inventory, and order lists that may have hundreds or thousands of entries. The file that holds such lists is called a database. Each Access database file actually can hold multiple lists of data, each stored in a separate table. An Access database organizes lists of information in tables. Access enables you to enter and view data using a simple form. You also can set up queries to pull sets of matching data out of the database and generate reports that consolidate and analyze data.

OneNote
It’s a risky proposition to track your professional or educational life via notes scribbled on various scraps of paper or notebook pages. As the notes pile up, it becomes harder and harder to find relevant information, making you look as though you can’t keep up. If you lose a scrap of paper containing a critical piece of information, you can put a project in jeopardy.

Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 serves as a type of electronic scrapbook for notes, reference materials, and files related to a particular activity or project. Then, when you need to find all the “stuff” related to a particular project, you can flip right to the applicable notebook tab. You can organize notes, files, pictures, and other material in a OneNote notebook.

InfoPath
The Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 application included with the higher-end Office versions may actually move us closer to that mythical land known as the “paperless office.” InfoPath enables you to design electronic fill-in forms based on a template. Each time a user fills in the form, the unique user data is stored in a separate location called a data source, in essence adding a new entry to that list. You can collect and store data via an InfoPath form template.

Source of Information : Microsoft Office 2007 Bible

Top Office Applications

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Microsoft Office 2007 offers a robust set of applications, each tailor made to provide the best tools for a particular job. For example, if you’re creating a letter, you may need to work with commands for formatting text. If you need to total sales figures, you’ll need an automated way to sum the numbers. Office provides an application to enable you to handle each of those scenarios and more. Read on to learn which Office applications to use for creating textbased documents, crunching numbers, presenting your ideas, or communicating with others via e-mail.

Microsoft offers eight different versions of the Microsoft Office 2007 software suite. Each version includes a different combination of the individual Office programs. Only Microsoft Office Word 2007 and Microsoft Office Excel 2007 are included in all eight versions. So, depending on the Office version you’re using, you may not have all the applications.


Word
Word processing—typing, editing, and formatting letters, reports, fax cover sheets, and so on—is perhaps the most common activity performed with computers. Whether you need to create a memo at the office or a letter at home, using a computer and a word processing program can save you time and help you achieve polished results.

Microsoft Office Word has long been the leading word processing program. As one of the anchor applications in the Office suite, Word provides a host of document-creation tools that have been refined to be easy to use yet comprehensive. Using Word to apply just a minor bit of text formatting and a graphic can make even a simple document such as the meeting agenda.

Word enables you to do even more than simply make your documents look great. Its features can help you create document text more quickly, create sophisticated documents with features such as footnotes, and more. Powerful Word features are such as:

• Templates. A template is a starter document that supplies the document design, text formatting, and, often, placeholder text or suggested text. Add your own text and your document is finished!

• Styles. If you like a particular combination of formatting settings that you’ve applied to text, you can save the combination as a style that you can easily apply to other text.

• Tables. Add a table grid to organize text in a grid of rows and columns to which you can apply terrific formatting.

• Graphics. You can add all types of pictures into your documents and even create diagrams using the new SmartArt feature.

• Mail Merge. Create your own, customized “form letter” documents, for which each copy is automatically customized for a particular recipient (or list entry). Word’s merge feature even enables you to create matching envelopes and labels.

• Document Security and Review. Word enables you to protect a document against unwanted changes, as well as to track changes made by other users. In this way, you can control the document content through a collaboration process.


Excel
Spreadsheet programs—which provide formulas and functions that make it easy to calculate numerical data —provided a critical technology leap in business computing. Business people no longer need to rely on adding machines, scientific calculators, or accountants to perform detailed sales or financial calculations. Even a beginning salesperson could plug some numbers into the spreadsheet grid and type a few formulas to calculate data. Microsoft Office Excel 2007 performs the spreadsheet duties in the Microsoft Office suite.

Excel enables you to build a calculation by creating a formula that specifies what values to calculate and what mathematical operators to use to perform the calculation. Excel also offers functions, predesigned formulas that perform more complex calculations, such as calculating accrued interest. Excel not only provides tools to assist you in building and error-checking spreadsheet formulas but also gives you many easy choices for formatting the data to make it more readable and professional. key Excel features are:

• Worksheets. Within each file, you can divide and organize a large volume of data across multiple worksheets or pages of information in the file.

• Ranges. You can assign a name to a section of data on a worksheet so that you can later select that area by name, or use the name in a formula to save time.

• Number and Date Value Formatting. You can apply a number format that defines how Excel should display a number, indicating details such as how many decimal points should appear and whether a percentage or dollar sign should be included. You also can apply a date format to determine how a date appears.

• Charts. Translate your data into a meaningful image by creating a chart in Excel. Excel offers dozens of chart types, layouts, and formats to help you present your results in the clearest way.

• Lists. You may need to manage and sort lists that combine text and numerical values, such as a list of product orders and Excel can handle that job, too. Excel offers other powerful data features, such as the capability to apply a filter to see list entries with matching information.


PowerPoint
Persuading customers to buy. Convincing your company’s leadership to invest in developing a new product you’ve conceived. Training members of your team to follow a new operating procedure. Making sure that a group of volunteers understands program requirements. To achieve positive outcomes in situations like these, you must deliver your message in a clear, concise, and convincing way.

The Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 presentation graphics program enables you to communicate information and ideas via an onscreen slide show or printed pages. Each slide should present a key topic that you want to convey, along with a few supporting points or a graphical reinforcement such as a chart or picture. In this way, PowerPoint helps you to divide information into chunks that audience members can more easily absorb. PowerPoint features are:

• Layouts, Themes, and Masters. These PowerPoint features control the content that appears on a slide and its arrangement, as well as the appearance of all the slides. You can quickly redesign a single slide or the whole presentation.

• Tables and Charts. As do Word and Excel, PowerPoint enables you to arrange information in an attractively formatted grid of rows and columns. PowerPoint works with Excel to deliver charted data, so the Excel charting skills you build make developing charts in PowerPoint even easier.

• Animations and Transitions. You can set up the text and other items on the slide to make a special entrance, such as fly onto the screen, when you play the slide show. In addition to applying animations to objects, you can apply a transition that animates how the overall slide appears onscreen, such as dissolving or wiping in.

• Live Presentations. PowerPoint offers a number of different ways in which you can customize and control how the presentation looks when played as an onscreen slide show. You learn tricks such as hiding slides or jumping between slides onscreen.


Outlook
Technology improvements naturally lead to business environments that move at a faster and faster pace. No one has the luxury to have a face-to-face conversation about every issue anymore, and everyone faces the challenge of tracking more and more contacts and to-dos. The Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 program in the Microsoft Office suite can handle your e-mail messages, appointment scheduling, contact information, and your to-do list. This program helps you stay in the loop, organized, and up-to-date with all the action in your work life. Outlook feature are:

• Security. Learn which Outlook settings and tools help prevent messages with viruses from infecting your computer. Also learn how Outlook can automatically manage annoying yet pervasive junk mail messages.

• RSS Feeds. Outlook now enables you to subscribe to and read RSS feeds—online content posted by its authors for automatic download to your system. This capability stores the feed information for later reading or offline reading.

Source of Information : Microsoft Office 2007 Bible

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