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How Does Case Management Software Help the Legal Industry?

Business these days are growing at an alarmingly increasing speed, thus creating a need for automation in any and every possible way. Companies are basically coming into the knowledge that unless they start automating parts of their businesses in ways that save them time, money and human resources, they are likely to lack behind the competition that does the same. Therefore, it is not surprise that recent search trends online indicate an increasing number of searches on business related and case management software.

Lawyers and law firms are integrating these sorts of methods into the legal professions. Many software developers are consistently testing new products targeted at making the law profession far easier than what it used to be. But in spite of this, it is still amazing to see that many law firms are hesitant about integrating or applying the case management software or system into their profession. While it is agreed that integrating the case management software into the legal system costs money, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. The case management software is extremely relevant and will help improve the operation of the system. If the system is already running smoothly, the introduction of the CMS will further help it to run smoother.

With the case management software, data is seamlessly introduced into the database and the change is implemented across board. Sometimes, you need to back up data while also getting in touch with all the necessary parties involved in the case. Instead of running around ;looking for each party, all you need do is pull up the file, produce different copies of the needed materials and documents and get them sent to the necessary parties. With a case management software, a lot of time is saved as you can access files with just a click of a button. There is no time wasting as compared to the process of having to look for files and data about the clients, the judge handling the case and the prosecutor if you are the defendant.

Data is often centralized as all data entered just once gets shared to all different quarters and across the whole system. In cases where you want to remember something specific about a case or an individual, you have a notepad attached to each person or party where you can enter your thoughts, opinions and other miscellaneous details.

With the case management software, you can basically transfer all necessary details onto a Microsoft word document. So, all you need do is pull up the files, send it to Microsoft word or Corel WordPerfect and it will automatically merge all data in a logical sequence. Thus, making it easy to save time that would rather be spent on more important matters.

Depending on your needs, you can use the general purpose case management software for specific or substantive areas of law. Thus, it can be modified into any of these areas. Please note that case management software configured for specific areas such as real estate or intellectual property cannot be used for general purposes or even modified for other areas.


Top Five Advances in Computer Software

The computer software world has come a long way since the first simple personal computers rolled off assembly lines in the late 70's. Thanks to dedicated software developers, there have been vast improvements to the performance, function and usability of computers today. Every year, there are major developments that lead to faster software and hardware applications that improve the performance of computers for personal and business users. Just in the last decade, more people than ever are using computers to perform basic functions of their jobs and lives. The future holds many more new advances. So what are the top five advances in computer software just in the last few years that stand out in the history of computers?

Data storage and processing

Over just the last ten years, there has been a huge improvement in the amount of data that personal computers can store and process at once. When a 256 MB system used to be state of the art in computer memory, now we are lucky to have computers managing over 30 GB routinely. Thanks to the development of Microsoft Windows, computers can easily handle multiple applications running all at once. And there are many options in the storage of data, whether it is backup software, external drives or web-based storage ability - we can manage much more data than ever before thanks to these developments.

Internet applications

With the birth of the World Wide Web in the 90's, human beings became more connected to the rest of the world than ever before. And we couldn't have done this without software applications like Internet Explorer or Netscape to provide browsers that we use to "surf" the Net. Then came instant messaging and telephony applications that allowed us to talk with people in real time. As we move into the future, we will be even more connected via use of mobile devices like cell phones, texting units and GPS systems.


When personal computers came out, they were very clunky, albeit they included some entertainment value in the form of simple programs and games. Some could even be programmed to chime little tunes. But now, thanks to the plethora of entertainment applications, we can set up our home computers to link to our home television and music systems to enjoy a total entertainment experience. And if we want to take our entertainment with us, we have Mp3 devices to carry music and videos with us thanks to software development in that area.

Gaming industry

Just in the last ten years, the advances in the gaming industry have been tremendous. Now there are realistic virtual reality video and computer game software that creates a fully interactive experience for players. Thanks to software advances, gamers are taking their playing to the next level, competing against other players around the world in real time.

Social media and networking

One of the biggest and best developments in software has been the advent of social media and networking software, which enable computer and mobile device users to interact with other people anywhere and anytime. Now people are connecting with each other as never before.


Where Can You Find Cheap Computer Software?

These days you'd be hard pressed to find a home or business that didn't rely on a computer in some fashion. Homeowners pay their bills, do their banking, shop, do a budget report, do school work, create holiday and greeting cards, manipulate and print photos, play games.. the list goes on and on. Businesses do billing and invoicing, log inventories, do ordering and print invoices, manage their accounting, etc., etc.

In short, pretty much every phase of our lives is controlled in some facet by a computer and computers require certain software programs to be installed in order to perform the functions that we need them to perform. This is where a problem can come in for the computer user who doesn't have a lot of disposable income - computer software can be pretty expensive, if you need half a dozen programs or more for your computer to do everything that you want it to do and you've got to pay full MSRP for those programs the cost could really become an issue.

So where does the computer user go when they need computer software, but don't have a whole lot of money to spend on it? Here are a few ideas of how you can get your hands on some cheap computer software that will have your PC performing all of the functions that they desire, without putting too much of a strain on their wallet.

Shop Around

It's no secret that retailers compete for your business; there are advertisements in the newspaper every weekend giving details of sales and specials. If you aren't in the biggest of hurries, you can shop the sale papers for a little while to see who's got the best deal on the software package you need. Some stores even do a price match with competitors, so even if one store advertises a better price on one item and one of their competitor's beats them on another you may be able to bring in an advertisement and get the best possible prices on your software form the same store.

Use the Internet

Just like retail establishments compete for your business, so do online retailers. The beauty of online shopping is that your search won't be limited by location. It makes no difference if the company with the best price is two thousand miles away or only twenty, because the product will be shipped right to your door. Just remember to factor in all applicable shipping charges when you are trying to figure out who has the best deal for the program you are looking for.

Go Right to the Source

A great place to find software for cheaper than retail prices is by going directly to the manufacturer's website. Many manufacturers will offer direct downloads of popular software programs from their sites, this often allows you to get the programs for less money because there is no box, no packing materials, no shipping or handling, in fact very little if any overhead cost at all. You may also be able to get package software discounts if you buy more than one program from the same manufacturer and you may also be eligible for manufacturer rebates which will further lower an already discounted price.

Don't be overly picky

Purchasing software for a lesser known manufacturer rather than from one of the industry's heavy hitters could save you a bundle, and if you compare the features you just might find a program you like better from one of the smaller companies.

If you absolutely, positively need to have the software from the top manufacturer, see if you can get an older version of the program. New versions of computer software are produced all the time, if you're willing to use 'last years' version when a retail store is trying to clear them out you could save quite a bit as well.

It most certainly pays to do your research and comparison shop when it comes to computer software, paying the full suggested retail price could end up costing you more than you paid for your computer (a lot more in some cases.), but if you shop around as suggested above you could end up spending a lot less while getting virtually the same programs.


Macromedia Fireworks Mx Tutorial Guide

Macrodedia Fireworks now known as Adobe Fireworks is one of the best known and used graphic applications for web authoring for both beginners and professionals alike, its ease of use yet powerful system can create stunning sites from scratch.

In this tutorial we will show you how to use this fantastic program in a easy step by step visual based presentation to help ease the stresses of learning.

Because we are starting a new document you would click Fireworks File found under Create New this will create a new document, if you had previously made a document and saved it you could click one of the recent items to open it or click on the open icon to open an item not listed on the list shown.

Once have selected new file you will be shown this window above, please input the size you wish to have the work area for example on this its 900 * 500, and click ok, now you are presented with your work area where you can start designing your website or graphics.

At first when you load up the screen you will not be at full zoom, you can find out your zoom level by looking right at the top of the screen at it will says something like 66% , so now you probably have noticed all the button tools on the left hand side of the screen. Now we need to zoom in, to do this select the tool that looks like the image below then move your mouse pointer onto the work area, then right click you will have a menu appear, now select zoom in and do this until the top bar say 100%.

Now that you have the correct zoom level now we can begin to learn about graphics.

Now that this is selected move your mouse pointer over to the work area then click and drag the square to your desired size, you will now have a square in the default colour, you can change the colour by selecting the pointer that has a white centre at the top of the toolbar then selected the square you just made, now that you have done this you will see a menu appear at the bottom of the screen, on the left of the menu there will be an icon that looks like a paint bucket and a colour box next to it, click on the colour box then select the desired colour, to get even more colours while on the colour menu click on the sys colour picker.

If you remember back to when you selected the box from the toolbar, you may of seen an arrow next to the box, now select the box again but hold down your mouse button for a second and a drop down menu will appear, click on any shape you desire and stretch it out on the work area as you did with the box and repeat the colour steps until you feel comfortable with doing this.

Gradients |

As you have seen you have created shapes with a plain colour, but this will not always do, you may need to have a gradient colour on your images. To do this, follow these steps, firstly

1 Select the shape to have the gradient for example the square box

2 Next look at the bottom toolbar that has just appear and you will notice that it says Solid next to the colour box, click on this then go up to gradient, then a sub menu will come up offering you what type of gradient you would like to use, for this example click Linear which is at the top.

3 Now this is done your shape will have a gradient but it may not be in the direction or colours that you wanted so that is what we will focus on now, for the colours you will see that there is no longer the word Solid in the box instead it is Linear, which means Linear gradient, next to this is the colour box and also that has changed incorporating more than one colour into the shape, click on the colour box

4 Now you have selected it the menu above will appear, as you can see you have two colours blue and purple to change these simply click on the little box with the colour that you wish to change and select the colour you wish to have. You can add more colours in between if you wish this is done simply by clicking anywhere under the gradient bar and you will get another box to add colour too.

You can also use the preset colours just by clicking under the word present on the drop down menu then selecting the colour scheme you wish to have.

Now you have the colours you want you may want to change the direction of the gradient, to do this select the pointer tool at the top of the toolbar, this time use the one that is completely black, now you have done this select the shape, you will now see a line go through the shape, one end with a circle on it and the other with a square.

The side with the circle is where the gradient begins so if you wanted it to begin in the middle you would click hold down and drag it to the centre of the shape, or if you wanted it to start at the top you would drag the circle to the top, then when you have decided where you wish for it to start you will need to use the square tool, this is to set the direction of the gradient up down side to side or diagonal , and it also defines the length of the gradient, to do this click on the square and hold down and then move it around to get used to the feel of it, it moves all over the place, now for example if you wanted the gradient to go down instead of across you would of firstly moved the circle to the top and then dragged the square so it was facing straight down.

Down Gradient
Diagonal Gradient
Middle Centred Gradient

When you are finished with the gradient simply select the pointer at the top of the toolbar filled with white and then select on any blank area on the workspace, remember to practise with the different colours and gradient types.

As well as gradients you can add other effects to your shape firstly patterns, this can be found on the menu where you select the gradient, but instead of going on gradient go on pattern and then choose the pattern you wish to use, if you want to use your own keep scrolling down to the bottom until you reach other then select it and browse for the pattern you wish to use.
Remember to select the shape first

As well as the gradient and patterns there is another option you can use, this is the textures menu, when you select the item you will seen a option that says texture select this and choose a texture.

By default the textures opacity is at 50%, this basically means how visible it is over your shape, to make it higher or lower click the arrow next to the opacity amount and hold it down and then drag it up or down to the desired opacity.

Practise with all the textures and opacities until you completely understand them

*note* if you select the image you can reduce the whole shapes opacity by sliding the shapes opacity meter up or down, this is found on the far right hand side of the menu after the shape has been selected.

If you have a square shape you can make this more rounded very simply, to do this select the shape then on the menu that appears below click and hold the rectangle roundness meter until it is at the roundness you want.


You can also add borders around your images to make it stand out more if you wish, there are many border types and I will explain how to use them.

When you have your image selected look down at the menu and find the border colour box, by default it will have a white background with a red line through it, select this then choose a colour, you can now see that you have a border around your shape.

You may also notice that next to in the number 1 has appeared, this is to indicate the size of the border, to make it bigger drag the menu slider up and down until you have the desired border width.

As well as the width you can also change the style of the border, select the border style selector as and select which style you wish to have, simple as that.

Font Styles

Text in your document is highly important you need to tell someone about what it is your service or website is about, you can download fonts from sites such as 1001 free fonts once downloaded put these fonts into the following C:/Windows/Fonts/ , ensure you press F5 in the directory to refresh the newly installed fonts and reopen Fireworks Mx.

To input text on the document click the icon that looks like the one below and then click on the document where you want it to be.

Now that you have selected the position on your page you will see a line flashing, now type in the text that you wish to appear. Once this is done select the pointer with the white bit in the centre, and then select the text by clicking it once, now you will get the menu at the bottom of the page.

There are many other options on the menu but these are the only ones we will look at for now as the others are more advanced.

The maximum size font on the slide menu is 96, so what do you do if you want it bigger, well simply all you need to do is where it says the size, type in a size that is bigger for example 200 or whatever you want.

You can also use the Scale tool which is found on the main toolbar to the left near the top,

Firstly select the text with your pointer, then select the tool icon above from the toolbar, after this is done you will notice a border around your text with squares on it, move your cursor over one of these squares then you will notice your cursor changes, now this has happened click hold and drag the text to your desired size, this is the easier method to get the correct size text that you want.

Practise with the different fonts styles until you feel comfortable with them and can easily use them without many errors.

Drop Shadows

Drop shadows can be used for text / images and pictures on the page.

To apply a drop shadow, select the item that you wish to use in this case a circle shape,

Then click on the plus icon next to the word effects, then you have a pop up menu appear, now go to the sub category shadow and glow and then finally click drop shadow, you will then be presented with this menu, there are several options, try playing around with them until you get the effect you want.

Corner Shape Tweaks

When you have a shape that you have made such as a rectangle, you can make the corner stand out a bit more, make a rectangle that is curved, this has previously been shown how to do, once this is done select the shape, then you will notice little square dots around the corners of the image, select one of them then you will get a warning message, click on the dont show again tick box then click ok. Now start to move the corners around until you have the shape you want, when you drag the corners, you probably will also notice small lines pointing out from the boxes, these are to add curves to the corners, try playing around with them until you get the effect you want.

Now that you have learnt all of this information it is time to put it into practise, as you can see below there is a very simple advert, it incorporates all the information that has been taught so you should be able to create it, if you get stuck look at the steps again.


Text To Speech Online

Text to speech or the also called speech synthesis is the artificial production of a human voice. This technology has many applications such as improving accessibility for disabled people allowing visually impaired people or people with reading difficulties to listen to written works on a home computer, providing new services or even in the entertainment field.

Most of the modern computer systems have text to speech modules that allow text seen on the screen to be converted into speech. Apart from the personal computer operation system modules there are much software available so it is a matter of choice which one should be used.

Of course when making a choice the quality of the speech synthesis should be taken into account. The quality of text to speech conversion is estimated by its similarity to a human voice, and by its ability to be understood.

Apart for the text to speech modules that the modern computer operation systems have and the similar software available, there are many online text to speech resources. They are useful to people who are not able to use their home computer or who do not have the required modules installed. Some of the online speech synthesis services are paid but there are some which are free or with free trials.

The online text to speech website has the same or even more options compared to the integrated services. You can choose the type of the voice male or female and usually there is more than one voice available per gender. This is great as this way you can pick up the voice that you understand the best. The voice level and the speed of talking can also be adjusted.

The online text synthesis services also feature a variety of languages. Obviously the English language is the most popular but there are many websites that offer a vast variety of language options. This is great news so people of any nationality can benefit from the online services.

When choosing an online text to speech program you should check what it can read. Some programs can only read the text from the internet browser or the text from specific text processing programs such as Word. The best option is to get a program that reads from as many sources as possible. Some programs are able to perform dictionary look ups, have magnifying glass tool, translation tool. Some text to speech programs have the option to record the text read. This is a great option since all that is on the screen can be recorded in an MP3 format and listened later.


Use Dating Services to Find a Special Someone

In our modern society, dating doesn't have to involve going out anymore. You can "date" someone via email, instant messenger, chat rooms, telephone, and web cams. Maybe the night club or bar scene is not your idea of a quality meeting place. You could meet new people everyday using various dating services. Dating services put you in touch with millions of diverse people from anywhere in the world. Posting a profile and doing a simple search will yield numerous candidates. The dating sites of today are much more accurate at matchmaking, due to the advances in search technology.

Free dating services are available to you on the Internet. With the popularity of Internet dating sites, it is tough to know where to start and which one is right for you. A very helpful web site is the "Free Dating Service". It offers a dating directory full of the best and most popular dating sites available. You can find a brief summary of each site, as well as real user reviews to assist you in making the right choice. Try several that are listed in order to maximize your results in finding that someone special. Everyone has a match out there, you just need to go to the dating web site and find that special someone. Use caution when using dating sites. Unfortunately, there are people you do not want to be involved with. Get to know a person before committing to a more serious relationship.

If you have been in the dating scene for a while, you may recognize a pattern or preference in a certain type of person. This could apply to various basic things such as ethnicity or religion. Most dating services offer the option of browsing by such special categories to accommodate to your needs and make your search for a new mate as easy as can be. If you feel that you fit into a specialty category, you can also use this feature to post your profile to appeal to someone that could be looking for you. Remember, when posting your profile, you are not only using it to match in your search, but are also the target of someone else's search!

In addition to finding a new friend or person to go out with, dating services offer other helpful resources. On some web sites, you can find many things that range from flirting tips to innovative date ideas. For someone new to using dating services, you might start by reading a guide to creating a better profile. If you are skeptical to using an online service, you could read real user testimonials. There is a variety of helpful reading material right at your fingertips. All you need to do is take the time to read the material and learn about a topic that you are interested in.


10 Reasons Computer Rental is Smart

Computer rental is a growing trend due to the convenience and affordability of this smart option. Buying a computer just isn't the best choice for everyone. Sometimes your technology needs dictate another solution. To determine whether computer rental might be a better option for you, check out these reasons to rent!

Avoid the Big Price Tag: Perhaps the most obvious reason to avoid buying a new computer is the amount of money you need to pay for a new machine. Buying a new laptop or desktop will cost you hundreds of dollars up front, money you could save by renting rather than buying.

Don't Watch Your Investment Depreciate: When you invest money in something, you expect that money to pay off. However, most computers last for three to five years, meaning the money you pay for the machine now will be gone for good in no time at all. Why not rent a computer and put your extra money in a savings account?

Maintaining Your Machine: When you rent a computer, the maintenance of the equipment is the responsibility of the rental company. However, when you buy computer equipment, you're often stuck paying expensive repair bills and struggling with difficult-to-understand manuals. Keep it simple and rent instead.

Don't Worry About Storage: Storing unused computer equipment takes up a lot of valuable space, not to mention the fees for storage rental. Instead of hassling with finding safe storage and watching your investment sit on a shelf, look into rental instead. When you aren't using a machine, you can simply send it back.

No Need for Taxes: When you buy computer equipment, you have to pay taxes and licensing fees. For individuals and small businesses, these fees can eat into your bottom line. When you rent a computer, you aren't responsible for licensing fees or taxes, and that can add up to a significant cost savings.

Avoid the Cost of Obsolescence: Technology is constantly evolving, and as soon as you buy a computer, it is out of date. Why spend good money for something that won't be top of the line in a couple of months? Instead, computer rental offers a great alternative. When you don't own the machine, obsolescence isn't your problem.

Don't Pay for Disposal: You're probably heard that you can't just throw a computer in the garbage. These machines contain hazardous materials that can hurt the environment if they are not properly recycled. Fees are charged for this service. If you rent, rather than buy, you avoid this added expense.

Don't Deal with Downtime: When equipment breaks down, you can't use it for business. This is one hidden cost of owning your own computer equipment. When you rent a computer, you can simply alert the provider to your problem and have a new computer sent out right away.

Great Technical Support: Computer rental makes good sense when you think about the technical support you will receive. Owning your own computer means owning your own support issues. When you rent, you have a team of experts standing by to help you understand the ins and outs of the machine. This has a major impact on productivity and dramatically reduces your level of frustration.

Perfect for Temporary Employees: Having a lot of temporary employees can make it difficult to predict the number of computer stations you will need. Stocking technical equipment for a fluctuating staff can be a nightmare. Instead, rent work stations for these employees and eliminate the difficult task of predicting needs and stocking equipment.


How Do You Add Music Videos from Your Hard Drive to Your iPod?

Getting a music video that you have saved on your computer's hard drive on to your new iPod is not as simple as you might think. Apple has done an excellent job of making it difficult to put non-iTunes products onto their devices. The goal, of course, is to force you to buy your videos from iTunes and increase their bottom line, but there are, of course, ways around this problem. You just need some specific software and a little bit of patience.

The Specs

The first step towards getting that music video onto your iPod is making sure it is in the right specs. The iPod supports MOV, M4V, and MP4 formats, and the video must be no more than 768 Kbps, 30 fps, and 320-by-240 pixels. If your video has an audio track, it must be AAC-LC and must be 160 Kbps or smaller. If you downloaded the video off of the Internet, it is probably in the correct format, although some downloads are WMV format. However, if the video came from a video sharing site, you may have a video that is in MPG or AVI format. You are going to have to encode the video to use on your iPod.

Encoding the Video

You will need to use QuickTime 7.0.3 (or a later version) as the codec to code your video. This is available to download for free from the Apple website. It may take quite a while to encode the video, so if it is a large file, you may want to let it work overnight, or your computer will be out of commission for a while.

The File Transfer Using QuickTime Pro

One of the easiest ways to get the video to your iPod is to use QuickTime Pro. It combines the codec you need with a simple uploading interface that makes it easy to get the file into iTunes and onto your iPod. This program works with Windows or Mac. It is not free, however, but it is the easiest to use. You will pay $30 for it, and you will have to pay $30 again when Apple upgrades the program.

With QuickTime Pro, all you need to do to upload the video is open the movie, select "file" and then "export," and choose the option for "Movie to iPod." The program will then automatically create a 320-by-240 M4V file with the correctly coded audio tract and place it on your desktop. The default settings in the program work well for most music videos, but you can fine-tune them if you want to change the way the video displays.

There are other third-party programs you can use to convert the video to the correct file format, but this one works the best. If you are going to try a free program, be sure to practice with a small video first to make sure there are no bugs in the program.

Getting the Video onto the iPod

Once the video is converted to the correct file format, you will need to import it to iTunes. To do this, open iTunes, choose "Movies" and choose "File" and then "Import." Select the movie, click on it once, and select "Advanced, Convert Selection for iPod." This will create a new file in your iTunes library. Once the new file is there, simply sync your iPod with iTunes the video will download to the device.

If you do all of these steps and find that the file has no sound, there is a problem with the original music video file. This is called having a muxed sound file. If the format on the original video is MPEG1 Muxed or MPEG2 Muxed, it will not play sound on your iPod. The only fix is to find a third party application that can convert this file to an AAC-LC file.


Using Speech Recognition Software as a Corporate Solution

Over the years, companies have searched for many solutions that would help them keep up with emerging technology. During that time, there have been many software packages developed specifically for corporations that deal with a high volume of customers over a short period of time. That is one reason why speech recognition is now being used in a variety of settings to help customers obtain answers to questions, pay bills, and conduct numerous other business-related tasks that traditionally required a live person.

While speech recognition still has a long way to go before it is even close to being perfected, it has been improved upon immensely over the past several years, and is now a very effective means for many types of business transactions, especially where customers are concerned. Because it is still quite volatile in nature, speech recognition technology is most commonly used in situations where only a few pieces of information are necessary, i.e. one's name, phone number, and account number. Still, it has helped to expedite business quickly, and guide customers to the right live person for further assistance.

Another area where speech recognition software is becoming widely used is through unified messaging. This type of system allows employ to retrieve a wealth of information while giving them more than one option for doing so. For example, through unified messaging, you will now be able to retrieve voice mail messages via E-mail, and E-mails messages via the phone. This makes it easier to keep up with important incoming messages you don't want to miss, and do so literally from any location.

There are several benefits to using unified messaging. The first is that it allows you and your employees the ability to gain flexibility through a wide variety of options. Because of this, it can also help increase the response time for returning important calls or messages. This makes it quite effective.

Unified messaging also helps to increase mobile staff productivity. Even when your employees travel, they will still be able to easily retrieve messages, and return them before even setting foot back in the home office. It also makes them more available should any problems occur that require their immediate attention.

Unified messaging also helps to keep high-value, third-level workers connected. This also decreases the amount of time in which problems are solved, and insures that someone is on it at all times. It also means that more problems can be solved in a shorter amount of time.

Unified messaging also helps to build more effective communication not only between you and your employees, but also between you, your employees, and your customers. This also helps to promote the security your customers have come to depend on, and makes it a viable technological choice for you and your flourishing business.


Spyware & Adware The War against it

Spyware and Adware are not only an ever-increasing nuisance for computer users everywhere, but also a booming industry.

According to Webroot Software, Inc., the distribution of online advertisements through spyware and adware has become a whopping $2 billion industry.

The aggressive advertising and spying tactics demonstrated by some of these programs, require an equally aggressive response from a seasoned eradicator. Sunbelt Software is such a company. A leader in Anti-Spyware, Anti-Spam, Network Security and System Management tools, they gave consistently remained on the cutting-edge of anti-spyware programming since 1994.

So you might be asking:

Why do I feel as if somebody watching me?

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, spyware infects more than 90% of all PCs today. These unobtrusive, malicious programs are designed to silently bypass firewalls and anti-virus software without the users knowledge.

Once embedded in a computer, it can wreak havoc on the systems performance while gathering your personal information. Fortunately, unlike viruses and worms, spyware programs do not usually self-replicate.

Where Does It Come From?

Typically, spyware originates in three ways. The first and most common way is when the user installs it. In this scenario, spyware is embedded, attached, or bundled with a freeware or shareware program without the users knowledge. The user downloads the program to their computer.

Once downloaded, the spyware program goes to work collecting data for the spyware authors personal use or to sell to a third-party. Beware of many P2P file-sharing programs. They are notorious for downloads that posses spyware programs.

The user of a downloadable program should pay extra attention to the accompanying licensing agreement. Often the software publisher will warn the user that a spyware program will be installed along with the requested program.

Unfortunately, we do not always take the time to read the fine print.

Some agreements may provide special opt-out boxes that the user can click to stop the spyware from being included in the download. Be sure to review the document before signing off on the download.

Another way that spyware can access your computer is by tricking you into manipulating the security features designed to prevent any unwanted installations. The Internet Explorer Web browser was designed not to allow websites to start any unwanted downloads. That is why the user has to initiate a download by clicking on a link. These links can prove deceptive.

For example: a pop-up modeled after a standard Windows dialog box, may appear on your screen. The message may ask you if you would like to optimize your Internet access. It provides yes or no answer buttons, but, no matter which button you push, a download containing the spyware program will commence. Newer versions of Internet Explorer are now making this spyware pathway a little more difficult.

Finally, some spyware applications infect a system by attacking security holes in the Web browser or other software. When the user navigates a webpage controlled by a spyware author, the page contains code designed to attack the browser, and force the installation of the spyware program.

What Can Spyware Programs Do?

Spyware programs can accomplish a multitude of malicious tasks. Some of their deeds are simply annoying for the user; others can become downright aggressive in nature.

Spyware can:

Monitor your keystrokes for reporting purposes.
Scan files located on your hard drive.
Snoop through applications on our desktop.
Install other spyware programs into your computer.
Read your cookies.
Steal credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.
Change the default settings on your home page web browser.
Mutate into a second generation of spyware thus making it more difficult to eradicate.
Cause your computer to run slower.
Deliver annoying pop up advertisements.
Add advertising links to web pages for which the author does not get paid. Instead, payment is directed to the spyware programmer that changed the original affiliates settings.
Provide the user with no uninstall option and places itself in unexpected or hidden places within your computer making it difficult to remove.

Examples of Spyware

Here are a few examples of commonly seen spyware programs:

(Please note that while researchers will often give names to spyware programs, they may not match the names the spyware-writers use.)

CoolWebSearch, a group of programs, that install through holes found in Internet Explorer. These programs direct traffic to advertisements on Web sites including coolwebsearch This spyware nuisance displays pop-up ads, rewrites search engine results, and alters the computer host file to direct the Domain Name System (DNS) to lookup preselected sites.

Internet Optimizer (a/k/a DyFuCa), likes to redirect Internet Explorer error pages to advertisements. When the user follows the broken link or enters an erroneous URL, a page of advertisements pop up.

180 Solutions reports extensive information to advertisers about the Web sites which you visit. It also alters HTTP requests for affiliate advertisements linked from a Web site. Therefore the 180 Solutions Company makes an unearned profit off of the click through advertisements theyve altered.

HuntBar (a/k/a WinTools) or Adware.Websearch, is distributed by Traffic Syndicate and is installed by ActiveX drive-by downloading at affiliate websites or by advertisements displayed by other spyware programs. Its a prime example of how spyware can install more spyware. These programs will add toolbars to Internet Explorer, track Web browsing behavior, and display advertisements.

How Can I Prevent or Combat Spyware?

There are a couple things you can do to prevent spyware from infecting your computer system. First, invest in a reliable commercial anti-spyware program. There are several currently on the market including stand alone software packages such as Lavasofts Ad-Aware or Windows Antispyware. Other options provide the anti-spyware software as part of an anti-virus package.

This type of option is offered by companies such as Sophos, Symantec, and McAfee. Anti-spyware programs can combat spyware by providing real-time protection, scanning, and removal of any found spyware software. As with most programs, update your anti virus software frequently.

As discussed, the Internet Explorer (IE) is often a contributor to the spyware problem because spyware programs like to attach themselves to its functionality.

Because of this, many users have switched to non-IE browsers. However, if you prefer to stick with Internet Explorer, be sure to update the security patches regularly, and only download programs from reputable sources. This will help reduce your chances of a spyware infiltration.

And, When All Else Fails?

Noticed I said when and not if? As spyware is growing in destruction and it covers easily more than 90% of the computers (thats you and me, 9 in 10!), the only solution you may have is backing up your data, and performing a complete reinstall of the operating system!


The Benefits Of Canvas Laptop Bags

Laptop computer bags come in all sizes, patterns, and styles. Designers understand that people from all walks of life use laptops and have done their best to offer everyone a stylish way to transport their computer. Those looking for a versatile bag that is affordable, great looking and easy to care for will love canvas laptop bags. These durable, lightweight bags are available in a variety of colors and patterns, so even the pickiest of shoppers can find a bag to suit their taste.

Canvas laptop bags are the perfect way to carry your computer. Bags that are made of leather and other materials are often expensive and difficult to care for. Spending a lot of money on cleaning a leather bag that was expensive to begin with is frustrating, so most people look for an alternative choice. Though some love the look of leather, others are willing to forgo the materials for something that is more economical.

Laptop computer bags made of canvas are also very stylish. The benefit to carrying a canvas bag is the variety of styles from which you can choose. Instead of being stuck with black or brown, you have the option of choosing canvas laptop bags in every color of the rainbow. Some even feature decorative patterns and designs. If you are unable to find exactly what you want, you can use fabric dye, transfers, or paint to create a one-of-a-kind style. The bags provide a great deal of versatility, which is a lot more fun that being stuck with a boring leather bag.

Another thing that makes a canvas laptop bag is how easy it is to carry. Most are very lightweight, so the only weight on your should is that of the computer and any books and accessories you stash in the bag. Leather bags are often bulky and heavy. Computer cases made of plastic or hard materials are difficult to carry and weight down your should. Canvas laptops bags are considered one of the healthiest and least physically damaging bags on the market. Too many people these days are lugging around bags that are damaging their posture and their neck and shoulder muscles. Canvas bags offer protection from many business and travel related injuries.

Canvas laptop computer bags usually feature adjustable straps, making it easy to carry your bag no matter your height or strength. Shorter straps are handy for carrying a bag just below your armpit. This enables you to place your forearm and hand under the bag and support some of the computer's weight. A longer strap is ideal for when you are carrying more than one bag. This frees up space along your side and hip for the multiple items you need with you.

Most of the canvas laptop bags on the market come with a variety of pockets, enabling you to organize your computer accessories, work-related documents, and other paraphernalia. The laptop computer bags are great for busy executives, students, and people who work outside of a traditional office environment. Moving your laptop computer, pens, notebooks, manuals, and other materials from place to place is easy when you carry them in a canvas laptop computer bag.


Get Identity Theft Help!

Identity theft crimes are not new, but they have become more pervasive in the past decade. One of the most insidious forms of white-collar crime, identity theft is a federal offense under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. It occurs when someone deliberately assumes your personal identity to impersonate you in a legal sense. There are people out there who are malicious and want to mess your life simply because they can. Businesses and financial institutions that lose $52.6 billion each year are under tremendous pressure from consumers to tackle this problem.

Last year, identity fraud crimes topped the list of complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the leading governmental agency offering identity theft help, for the fourth consecutive year. The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from consumers who have been victimized. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, it can offer identity theft help by providing information to assist the victims in resolving the financial and other problems that can result from this crime. As additional identity theft help, the FTC also refers victims complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action. The support of these knowledgeable resources expedites recovery, while enhancing your peace-of-mind.

Accurate and up-to-date information is the most critical element to minimize risk. For this reason, Federal Trade Commission recently launched an identity theft help web site called annualcreditreport where all consumers are eligible for a free copy of their credit reports. In order to effectively respond to suspected ID fraud you should place an identity theft alert in one of the three consumer reporting agencies and that agency will notify the other remaining two. These agencies are: Equifax at 1-800-525-6285, TransUnion at 1-800-397-3742 and Experian at 1-800-680-7289. These credit reporting agencies can also be found online.

The ID Theft Clearinghouse managed by the FTC is a tool designed to coordinate law enforcement efforts in the United States. But, in the end, local law enforcement agencies like the police and district attorney end up dealing with most identity fraud cases. If you have been a victim of identity fraud, it's these local agencies that will mostly likely offer identity theft help.

It would also be a good idea to study some of the different methods of identity theft so that you can effectively combat them. Do things like shredding your important documents with any account information or identifying information.


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