Recently in software program Category

» Biggest problem I had with moving to the new place came when it was time to send mail. I normally send mail thru Radified's own SMTP mail server (Linux-based .. physically located downtown Chicago).

Can't send email outgoing SMTP port 25But most ISPs want you to use *their* SMTP server .. so they block port 25 (.. the default outgoing mail port). It's an anti-spam thing.

Normally I call my ISP and have them unblock port 25. But this is a DSL line with dynamic IP's, which they unblock on an IP basis.

They told me I'd have to upgrade to a "Business account" if I wanted to "unblock port 25 for unrestricted access." (Uh, can you say, 'reading from a script?)

I can tell when they assign us a new IP, cuz I have to "update session" .. by providing my password at the Rad forums. That's a security feature. Change your IP and you're no longer trustworthy.

Far as I can tell, we get a new IP on a daily basis. Which involves losing our connection for a minute or two.

The Rad VPS has a static IP. Some providers make you pay extra for dedicated IPs. My account comes with 3 extra IPs that I've never used.

After beating my head against a wall for a couple of days .. listening to their litany of pre-recorded menu's (.. I hate those things) .. and going thru a few levels of their tech support .. I finally got hold of a supervisor .. who actually knew something. (Hallelujah, brother!)

Once I learned they *cant* (not wont) unblock port 25, I started plan-B .. which is obviously where I shoulda started.

Enable Port 26 for Alternate SMTP in WebHost ManagerEnabling Port 26 for SMTP in WebHost Mgr

The answer was to go into my site's WebHost Mgr (.. made by cPanel, which is based in Houston) » Main » Service Configuration (.. not to be confused with "Server Configuration").

There I found an icon for "Service Manager" .. and THAT's where I found an option to enable Port-26 (.. or whatever port you might prefer).

But ISPs dont normally block port 26, so that's why it's the default alternate SMTP outgoing mail port.

Did I just say, 'default alternate'?

Notice where it says:

Allow exim to listen on port 26. Useful for providers that block port 25.

» Sometimes I install a new program and take it for a test-drive around the digital block, playing with it for a few weeks .. to see how I like it, how it works.

The Town | Bank Robbers extraordinaireSuch was the case this weekend, when I installed a copy of Security Essentials .. a FREE anti-Virus program from Microsoft (.. after first UNinstalling my old anti-virus, of course).

Security Essentials installed fine. No problems. After which it ran an initial scan, which seemed rather comprehensive, seeing it took some 15 or 20 minutes.

After completion, it reported that no viruses had been detected on my machine. It gave my laptop a clean bill of health. Cool.

But minutes later, a little alert-window popped up saying (something like) » "There's a problem with your hard drive."

Uh .. then, slowly, over the next half-hour, parts of my desktop started to disappear .. including my taskbar and desktop icons .. all except the main four (.. i.e. My Computer, My Network, Recycle Bin & My Documents).

Very weird.

Up pops an element of Microsoft Security Essentials saying (something like) » "We've detected a serious problem with your hard drive. Click here and let us check it out for you."

So I click the button.

Few minutes later it reports (something like) » "Yeah, dude, we found serious problems with your C drive. Click here and let us fix them for you."

So I click the button.

It goes thru a list of maybe 8 or 9 "problems identified" and then reports (something like) » "We fixed MOST of the problems (6 of them, I think it was), but if you want us to fix THE REST, you first need to send us $79.95 .. for a professional upgrade."

Uh, I think not.

New Lenovo Laptop - IdeaPad Z560 i3

» There I was .. minding my own business .. sitting in the coffee shop this weekend. When up walks Big Al (.. a Cuban transplant who can usually be found poring over something with a curious title). Next thing ya now we're on the subject of laptops.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 Laptop"I'll go with you," I said, when he mentioned dropping by the store to eyeball the last day of a 4-day sale.

On the way over he *blasted* The Thrill is Gone (you know, BB King & Lucille). Sounded really good. Remarkably clear. (Hope Al didnt mind my singing.)

I was good-n-amped on some tasty Ethiopian. Heck, we almost solved the question of the meaning-of-life on that 10-min jaunt to the store.

Before I knew what was happenin' » boom! Out comes the plastic. Big Al bought himself a new laptop. Then (best of all) he gave it to me .. to set up & configure for him. (I'm good at that .. cuz I've done it so many times.)

So sitting here I have new laptop. Lenovo = IBM. They still make the ThinkPad, which were usually too expen$ive for my blood. But I always admired their stylish black design. Still do.

BB King - The Thrill is GoneLenovos are priced reasonably. He got the IdeaPad Z560. Review. It's not a powerhouse, but it *is* new .. for only $450. And it's not even a Celeron.

» The Thrill Aint Gone

Stayed up to 2AM last night. I really enjoy setting up a nice, new machine. Yeah, the thrill is still there. =)

It has an Intel i3 core (2.53 GHz) processor with 4 gigs of memory & a 320-gig hard drive + 15.6-inch screen. Very nice.

Regarding the latest crop of Intel processors, the Core i7 is good as it get$. There is also a Core i5.

Red Eye Removal & The Bug's Return

Corrected my first red-eye photo today. Took some great shots of the Bug this week and the best ones all had red-eye.

Both Photoshop & GIMP have a tool designed specially for this purpose. Picasa, too, which is also free. [ For PS, you'll find it tucked under the Healing Brush grouping. ]

Simply select the tool and click inside the red-eye. Voila! Couldn't be easier. (Might help to zoom in first.)

I tried playing with some of the adjustments (Pupil size & Darken amount » both of which default to 50%), but didn't notice much of a diff - if any.

Fancy PantsHard to believe I haven't used this tool before. Maybe I thought it'd be complicated.

Red-eye is common at night, when the pupil is wide open and the flash reflects off the back of the eye.

These photos however, were simply too good. And the red-eye was very bad. The shots caught the Bug & two (older) girls huddled around a laptop, playing Fancy Pants. (Cool game.) All summer brown & sunkissed.

They were all focused on the main character (» Mr. Fancy Pants), who scurries about here & there, displaying acrobatic prowess. So I was able to catch the kids in their 'natural' state.

[ There's also a Fancy Pants 2, which looks even better than the original. ]

You know how kids can get when a camera is pointed at them. He didn't know I was taking pictures. (Or maybe they just didn't care.)

I'd like my family & friends back East to see WHAT I SEE » the Bug smiling, happy, engaged, handsome, playful, sensitive, silly, thoughtful. Difficult to get intimate photos when they're on guard .. posing for a shot. ('Cheese')

I also got some pictures of them running around at night with sparklers left over from the Fourth. Not easy however, to ignore the flash at night, tho. So those aren't as intimate. [ Would love to post some pictures for you, but the judge says I can't. ]

My favorite shot is the one where he looks happy & playful (big smile); my second-fave is the one where he looks thoughtful & handsome.

The Bug's eyes are blue. The Photoshop tool turns the red parts gray. So the result is that his eyes end up looking blue-gray. Kinda cool. Looks totally natural, tho.

Netbeans IDE for PHP Development

Installed Netbeans, an open source IDE (integrated development environment). An IDE is a program (application) designed to help programmers develop their applications. (« Kinda reflexive, no?) Heard about it when I asked the PHP programmers at MODx CMS what IDE they were using. Their answers surprised me.

Netbeans logoAlways thought Netbeans was solely for Java development. (You know .. beans = coffee = java.) Not so, apparently.

Been using Aptana Studio last few months. I like Aptana, but now I like Netbeans better.

I'm not savvy enough to use these powerhouse IDE's to anywhere near their full potential. For what I'm doing (learning), I could easily get by with Dreamweaver (which I use for web design), or even Notepad++.

But I'd like to become familiar with a few of the main players, which include » Zend Studio, Eclipse+PDT, Eclipse+Zend, PHPEclipse, Komodo, phpDesigner, phpEdit & phpED. At least, get a flavor for them. And I gotta write my code somewhere, right?

Before you can install the Netbeans IDE, first gotta install the Java Development Kit (JDK). Fortunately, you can download both programs in a » single installer (140 MB).

If a good installer is any indication of program-quality (.. like a good salad at a restaurant is often an indicator of a good main meal to follow), then Netbeans should be solid, cuz the installer is pretty slick.

Heck, they even have their own downloader (.. which rocks).

After the install, Netbeans will prompt to update a few files. (Nice.) After the update, first need to » install the PHP plug-in. (The instructions omit this step.)

Reader Mail from Brooklyn - Freeware

(Beware the ides of March.) Reader mail. Matt from Brooklyn writes to mention some freeware he likes. [ That reminds me: I need to update the Rad Freeware guide. ]

Indian Point nuclear plantI've received some other recommendations from other readers. Have you noticed how freeware just keeps getting better & better? I normally watch FileHippo to see what software has been newly released and periodically demo different programs. See here for Matt's note & recommendations:


I really like the collection of freeware you have listed on your site. Here're two programs I didn't see that you might like.

(1) RightMark CPU Clock Utility - for underclocking a processor. It saved my laptops from overheating. See this for details.

(2) Sandboxie - for separating programs (esp. Internet browsers) from your system.

Matt, in Brooklyn, NY

Ciphers, Keys & Encryption Algorithms

Few things in the world of bits-n-bytes seem more alluring & intriguing than encryption algorithms .. with colorful names such as Blowfish (named after a deadly delicacy), Serpent (which took down mankind) & Rijndael (pronounced 'rain-dahl') .. conjuring up images of clandestine transactions being conducted by rogue spies and covert agents.

There I was, minding my own business, learning computer programming by watching the CS-50 course (at Harvard), when Malan mentioned ROT13. Say what? So I asked the Google.

Julius CaesarA slippery slope it was. First I learned about the Caesar cipher, which Julius used in ancient Rome to communicate with his generals waging campaigns out in the field. (Cool, yet hardly seems secure.)

But what about us? What ciphers should we be using today to protect our valuable data & sensitive files?

The best program (most seem to agree) for encrypting your own files & drives is » TrueCrypt. (Now at v6.3a.) TrueCrypt is both free & open source, and it's list of features is (truly) impressive.

If you feel compelled to pay either $60 or $100 for a similar program, the best option(s) seem to be » BestCrypt and/or Volume Encryptor.

I downloaded a copy of both programs and took each for a test-drive around the digital block. Most surprising was how little CPU resources these programs use .. to encrypt (and decrypt) files on-the-fly. We're talking negligible .. even with my battered 5-year old laptop ( .. that's missing an i-key).

These programs work by creating a file on your hard drive (however big you want) that looks (and is used) like a typical/standard logical drive, which you can use to both store and retrieve files as needed. [ I made each of mine 2-gigs. ]

They can also encrypt an entire logical drive, including your system/boot drive (where Windows resides).

An algorithm is simply a sophisticated mathematical formula for scrambling the bits associated with the files on your hard drive (.. so nobody can read them). The hard part, it would seem, would be the subsequent reassembly.

The next question you might have is » What's considered the 'best' encryption algorithm? .. seeing the program will ask which one you want to use. The word 'best,' as you know, can mean different things to different people (who have different priorities).

People intimately familiar with encryption algorithms have declared (drum roll, please) » Rijndael = 'best.' It's the current Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Note that AES is NOT an algorithm, per se, tho the term is often used that way (.. as a synonym for the Rijndael algorithm). Rather it's a standard. Rijndael is the actual algorithm used in/by/with the AES standard.

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