Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1) by Steven Erikson

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Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although hard to get into at first, and with a weird writing style, I decided to stick with it since I liked the story; and now, after finishing it, I have no regrets.
Amazing story, captivating and once you start to understand what is happening, you can follow the plot pretty easily.

Love it, and can’t wait to read the next ones.

View all my reviews

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Some security tips

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Security is such a major issue these days, with all the spyware and malware lurking on the Internet; not to mention the nastiest viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits,  etc.

There are so many threats for our digital security. What can one do to protect themselves?

Well, there are a some things we can do as users:

  • First and foremost, develop safe browsing practices. Which means,  be mindful what websites you visit, what links you click on, what files you are downloading, and so on.
  • Next, no matter what kind of computer you have, turn on Automatic Updates for your OS ( operating system),Windows, Mac, Linux,  iOS and Android, regardless of brand or device. Android devices can get free antivirus on their smartphones and tablets from the Android Store, now called Google Play Store. Popular ones are AVG and Lookout Mobile Security.
  • Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your device and keep it up to date. Some free resources: AVG FREE , SuperAntySpyware, etc more can be found at Filehippo.com .
  • Do not open attachments in emails that have been forwarded by more than 1 or 2 people, and even then, be wary; make sure the message comes from someone you know.
  • Do not share your password with anyone, unless you know for a fact who they are.
  • Speaking of passwords, try to make them as complicated as you can, so that the bad guys have a very hard time guessing them.

These are a few of the things that come to mind when talking about security on our devices.

Use common sense, stay updated, and don’t click YES on something you don’t know what it means. Google it first or ask someone who knows.

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Phishing emails

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Hi everyone,

A quick update on a new phishing email.

It is an email that comes seemingly from the IRS, the address looks something similar to no-replyczuf @ irs . gov (without the spaces) and it says that your tax return is not complete  or something to that effect.

 

Please do not download the file attached  but forward the email as it is  to phishing@irs.gov.

 

Be aware of all the online criminal activities, and use common sense when browsing the internet.

 

Very important: Keep your security software up to date, and back-up all your data.

 

More information about how to report phishing emails to the IRS  can be found  at :   IRS.gov phishing .

 

Thank you.

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Basics of Web Programming

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Hello,

Whenever you want to start writing a piece of software, whether it’s a desktop application, a web app, or a server script, etc., a few basics need to be covered before the actual code is written.

If you are a highly skilled, professional programmer, then this post is not for you, you know these tips and got to where you are because you have used them.

So, before even attempting to write code, here’s what you need:

  • need to identify the problem and come up with a solution in plain English;
  • need basic knowledge of computer logic or pseudo-code;
  • translate the plain English solution in pseudo-code, and verify your results, by running the pseudo-code step by step;
  • once the logic is correct, the actual code can be written; for that one needs a good text editor, preferably one designed for programmers/developers. A good editor can be found here, and it is open source.
  • a good testing environment, preferably on a local computer. If you are doing web development, then WAMP is the perfect choice. If developing for desktops, then Visual Studio is a very good development environment.
  • and last but not least, plenty of caffeine and snacks ( keep them away from your keyboard :-D ).

So if you have these basics, you can start writing code, provided you actually put in the effort to learn at least one programming language.

Good luck.

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Laptop has no video

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Hello again,

Recently I had a service call about a laptop that had no video at all.

The obvious reason and most common one is the inverter board (backlight can be a culprit too). If that goes bad, then the laptop screen will appear black. Another possible reason is the video cable; it can get damaged or become unplugged. The worst one is when the video card goes bad.

So in order to determine which of these is the culprit, you can do several things:

  • make sure the laptop receives power. When plugged in, look for the LED lights indicating the power on the laptop, is these are on, then your laptop receives power.
  • next, shine a flashlight on the laptop screen; if you can see a faint image on the screen, then it is the backlight or the inverter board. They can be tested with a tester to determine which is the bad one.
  • if there is no image on the screen when using the flashlight, the try to plug in an external monitor, to see if you can get video; if no video on the external monitor, then the problem is with the video card;
  • the way to determine if the problem lies with the video cable, is to open the laptop case and take off the screen, and manually check if the video cable is damaged or unplugged.

The good news is that all of these issues can be fixed with a part replacement.

First things first: have an antistatic wrist strap, every time you work inside a computer case.

Step by step instructions:

  1. Check your laptop specs to see if you have an integrated video card or a discrete one; if you have an integrated card, then the whole motherboard will have to be replaced, otherwise, only the video card needs replacing.
  2. We determined that the video card is bad and it is integrated on the motherboard; we need to find the correct part and purchase it.
  3. with the new motherboard at your side, start opening the laptop case;
  4. unplug the laptop ac adapter and take out the battery; set them aside
  5. take out the HDD, DVD/CD  units by flipping the laptop upside down, and removing the screws from the bottom of the laptop.
  6. once these are out, start removing all the screws from the bottom of the case. Keep them in a safe spot, and preferably separate from the rest of the screws coming out later;
  7. flip the case again, and remove the top plate holding the power button;
  8. remove the screws holding the screen hinges, and set the screen to the side, watch out for wires and cables; If the problem is the inverter board or backlight:
  1. remove the screws holding the cover on the screen, and take the monitor from it’s case, be aware of the cables and wires.
  2. Replace the backlight or inverter board, plug the cables back in;
  3. put the monitor back together and connected it to the main part of the laptop;
  4. after all screws are back in and everything is connected properly, check to see if the screen will light up. That is it for the inverter board replacement.
  • take out the keyboard, being careful not to damage the connector for the keyboard; there are two tabs on the sides, that need to be pulled up, the connector will slide out then easily.
  • remove the top part of the case;
  • unscrew the motherboard from the bottom case, if necessary, remove the screws holding the serial and parallel ports (depends on your model), for easy motherboard access.
  • remove the motherboard and set it down preferably on an anti static mat;
  • start porting the memory, wireless, fan, cpu, etc  to the new motherboard.
  • once everything is on the new motherboard, replace it back in the bottom part of the case and screw it down if necessary.
  • replace the top part of the case, and put the keyboard back in ( don’t forget all the wires and cables that need to be plugged in the motherboard);
  • attach the screen back on, and start replacing all the screws in the case
  • replace the HDD, CD/DVD, etc, back in the case;
  • at this point, you can plug the laptop ac adapter and turn it on to see if you get video.

If all the screws are back in and all the wires attached, then the laptop should power on, and video should be working just fine.

That’s it, hopefully you didn’t go crazy working with all the tiny screws and pieces.

My advice, if the cost difference between replacing the part or getting a new/used laptop is not too great,  don’t even bother,  just get a new one.

Good luck and ask your questions; I’ll do my best to answer.

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A theory of Webdesign

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The internet is huge these days.

A universe of content, some easy to access, some easy to read, but most of it is in a form of presentation that makes it a chore to access the information and read it.

That’s why, when creating a website, a few principles should be followed:

  • keep the design simple and elegant; too many graphics can slow down loading time, and could cause visitors to leave your site.
  • offer relevant information in an easy to read layout, no special fonts and colors, keep it simple.
  • make sure your images are decent and will not offend anybody.
  • make sure your links are not broken.
  • and most of all, if you want a professional website that will attract lots of visitors, please hire a professional web designer.

I will expand this theory in the future, but for now, any comments and questions are welcome.

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A few Computer Tips

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Hi again,

I thought I’d share a few tips for a better computing experience:

  1. Make sure your PC case is located in an area with good air flow.  Enclosed spaces can restrict air flow, thus inhibiting the cooling process.
  2. Two or three times a year, open the PC case and by using a can of compressed air, blow the dust out of the case. Overheating is one of the most common reason why PC components fail. Overheating PC’s also run slower, so make sure your computer case is clean of dust and other debris.
  3. Keep your OS (operating system) up to date by either enabling Windows Automatic Updates from the control panel, or by downloading the updates manually and installing them. Microsoft releases new updates every week, and every Tuesday ( also known as update Tuesday) new updates are available for Windows OS’s.
  4. Keep your security software up to date; most anti-virus programs run silently in the background, downloading updates every day, mostly for their virus database. Some standalone anti-spyware and anti-malware applications need to be updated manually.
  5. Keep your files organized, by either using the system built in the OS, like My Documents, My Pictures, etc.,  or by creating your own filling system. That way you will know where everything is when you need it.
  6. Back-up, back-up, back-up; there are a number of ways to do that, and the simplest is to copy your files on an external storage device.
  7. Export your contacts, messages and favorites/bookmarks to .csv /.html files, and save them online or on an external storage device. That way, in case of system failure, you have your latest data when you need it.
  8. Periodically do some housekeeping tasks, like running the clean-up tool built in the OS.
  9. Even if you don’t think that your PC needs to be turned off when you’re done using it for the day, it is always a good idea to at least restart the computer. By turning the PC off, it will also consume less power, and allow the hardware components some much needed rest.
  10. Always practice safe surfing, which means that when you go online, visiting web pages, DO NOT CLICK/DOWNLOAD randomly; make sure you know what it is you are clicking on; a Google search always yields results that have information about a certain website, link, etc.(or ask a professional PC technician).

Well, these wold some tips to get you on your way to a better and safer experience when using PC’s.

Any questions will be answered appropriately.

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Introduction

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Hi,

Computers today are omnipresent, and as with any technology out there, there are also problems that need fixing.

So I want to share my experiences, and what I have learned through the years, by dealing with so many generations of Personal Computers.

That is the first lesson, a PC is any computer purchased, regardless of the brand, designed to be used in the home, office, small business, etc.

Other types: servers, mainframes, etc.

Lately though, PC has become synonymous with a Windows based machine ( Windows is an operating system created by Microsoft). Apple computers are known as Macs.

So for the sake of  convenience, we will call all Windows machines PC’s  and all Apple Computers Mac’s.

A PC/Mac is nothing more then a box of electronic circuit boards and devices, that consume electrical power when plugged in an electrical outlet.

In order for someone to make use of the computer, an operating system needs to be installed on the machine. The Operating System (OS) is a piece of software that runs in the background on your computer, allowing the user to run different pieces of software, browse the internet, check email, etc…

Most Common OS:  Microsoft Windows. Mac OS X, Linux, etc..

We will get more in depth some other time.

For now, remember: Windows XP, Vista or 7,  are the OS’s running on your PC. Same goes for MAC OS X and Mac’s.

In conclusion, in order to have a functional computer, one needs the hardware box, and the software – operating system.

That is it for the first lesson.

Let me know what your questions are, and I will reply as best I can.

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Welcome!

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Welcome to MikeGala.com.

I have been thinking for a while now about starting a blog, talking about the many issues encountered while fixing computers for my customers, or dealing with the website design issues and server side of some of the websites I have been working on.

So with this blog, the idea is to share my knowledge and experience in the field with other users who might find this useful.

Ask your questions then, post your comments, or share your own experiences.

Someone once said knowledge is power; let us share the knowledge then so we all have access to that power.

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