Steps to Prevent Data Loss

Even though, data loss may seem unavoidable, you can still prevent it with the proper precautions and safeguards. For doing so, first you need to analyze the primary causes and warning signals for data loss. Once done with the research, you need to learn about prevention tips so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent data from getting lost in the first place.

Recognizing the Leading Causes for Data Loss

Below given are the top 6 causes of data loss:

1) Hard drive failures

Hard drives fail now and then due to so many reasons. For example, in the US, 140,000 hard drives crash every week. About 60% of hard drive fails due to a mechanical failure and the rest simply due to misuse. In genuine cases, they fail simply because the hardware becomes worn out while others fail due to external factors like:

  • Overheating
  • Water or fire damage
  • Exposure to magnetic fields
  • Power outages or surges
  • Impact due to being dropped

Even internal factors can cause a failure in the actual file system itself resulting in a hard drive failure. These internal failures can be a result of:

  • Software corruption
  • Instability to read drive

Human error:

  • Changing state of file system
  • Accidental deletions of imperative files
  • Improper installation and removal of files
  • Improper drive formatting/partitioning

Usually, hard drive fails due to single harmful event while other times they fail slowly over time. Here are some of the indications of hard drive failure:

  • Continuous hard drive crash
  • Noise in a cyclical pattern
  • Rising number of bad sectors during chkdsk scans
  • Unusual increase in computer temperature
  • Issues during the boot-up process
  • Very slow performance of PC during standard processes
  • Repetitive freezing of computer requiring a hard reboot
  • Files failing to open, getting corrupted or suddenly disappearing

Don’t wait! Just get backup software like NovaBACKUP instead and back up your computer. Also create an image backup to prepare for disaster recovery scenarios where you need to recover your entire system, including your OS and your applications rather than just your files.

2) Accidental deletions (user error)

Sometimes, we tend to delete or overwrite files by accident. The Windows Recycle Bin usually offers a safety net, but in several scenarios, you cannot simply count on the Recycle Bin to come for the rescue. Below are few situations in which the Recycle Bin may be bypassed:

  • Files deleted from drives which don’t have a Recycle Bin
  • Files that are larger than the capacity of the drive
  • Files that are permanently deleted using Shift + Delete
  • Files deleted using the Windows Command Prompt

Another source of accidental deletions is email where over 200 Ontrack® PowerControls™ customers, a leading mailbox recovery software solution got 5 email restorations requests from over 60% of users per month. With software like NovaBACKUP Business Essentials including single mailbox restore, you can restore just the emails or mailboxes you need.

3) Computer viruses and malware infections

There are so many new viruses that can put your data at risk. According to a B2B international survey, 35% of IT specialists reported about the data loss from their companies due to malware infection.

The most common way to enter into your computer is through email-based attacks (21%), followed by phishing (17%). Computer viruses have the ability to destroy, steal or encrypt your data, and even corrupt your PC hardware or infiltrate your entire network.

Some of the more recent viruses like crypto-ransomware are responsible for earning hackers millions of dollars by holder users data for ransom. Likewise, Cryptowall has cost US businesses and consumers $18 million in just over a year (April 2014 to June 2015) as told by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Hence, if you backup your properly in place, you can simply restore your files from your backup rather paying these hacker thieves for the same.

4) Laptop theft

According to Gartner, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds. So, you need to be very alert with leaving your laptop anywhere. As smash and grab crimes are often prompted by the thief, the replacing of stolen laptop may cost you more, though studies reveal that 80% of the cost is actually a result of the data breach.

Full-disk encryption can help wipe your computer remotely that contain critical and confidential data thereby saving your data from getting stolen. Having a proper backup in place, will also help you in other way.

5) Power failures

Power outages and power surges result in an unexpected shutdown of your computer, which then takes its toll on the components of your computer. Specially, the operating systems are complex and must follow proper shut-down procedures to make sure all processes run properly. However, a sudden loss of power can interrupt these delicate procedures rendering your computer inoperable.

Sudden power outages may reduce the hard dives lifespan. Every time a computer restarts after a sudden loss in power, the read and write head is quickly reset to its original position causing small imperfections on the disk. These imperfections accumulate over time and cause head crash, which effectively destroys the hard drive.

6) Damage due to spilled coffee or water

When you spill any sort of liquid like water, coffee or any other beverage, there may occur short-circuiting of your entire computer.

Follow these instructions to try to save your laptop from liquid damage.

Immediately shut down your computer→ dry it off→ remove all removable parts→ make sure they are dry and clean of any residue→ wait at least 48 hours to ensure that everything is completely dry before you reassemble your computer and hope for the best.

Take Preventative Action to Avoid Data Loss

Here are the top 10 steps you can apply to prevent the data loss in future:

  • Keep your computer clean and dust-free
  • If your PC gets hot, take it apart and clean it
  • Save and backup your files regularly, to multiple locations
  • Create an image backup before the first signs of hard drive failure
  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date
  • Don’t open suspicious emails or attachments
  • Don’t leave your laptop unattended
  • Use a surge protector
  • Don’t delete files you don’t know what are, especially system files
  • Don’t keep liquids close to your laptop

Having a solid backup of your data can help you get your lost data back during HD failure. With a backup software solution like NovaBACKUP, you can create a file back, an image backup or even just a copy of your files to a secondary device in an automated fashion.

How to Prevent Software Failure?

Generally, computers are pretty firm but you still you should not trust it completely as they will fail at some point and you will have to face consequences from its failure. However, you can easily prevent this from happening by developing some basic habits.

Steps

1: Check whether your computer is going to fail or not. For that, you need to treat your computer as if it is causing a huge failure so that this action could possibly result in your computer failing you sooner. Always assume that failure to be closer.

2: Try to realize the signs of instant failure or a fatal error that results in data loss, damage to your computer and/or its functionality, hardware failure, or other serious issues. Signs of imminent failure usually includes regular poor performance, frequent error messages, unknown programs being installed, frequent computer termination, frequent crashes, or certain parts not working.

3: Preventing failure states towards keeping your computer clean both physically and operationally. Try to clean dust inside the PC, especially on the fans to avoid reduction in performance and overheating. Uninstall unnecessary programs or files on your computer so as to maintain the registry properly. Always run frequent virus scans.

4: Analyze specifications, and the limits of those specifications on your computer. Note that your computer takes up at least some of your computer’s RAM even if running idly, along with its processing power, as well as background programs. So, if a program requires at least 256 megabytes of RAM, and you have exactly the same on your computer, then you can’t run the program properly.

5:If a pop-up shows up asking you to do something irrelevant, then don’t click on it. Rather, use the task manager to kill it, or reboot your computer. Don’t install unauthorized programs and while installing freeware or shareware, read everything, and uncheck any additional “new product notifier” programs, toolbar, or other unwanted things.

6: If you feel something isn’t working properly, then either diagnose the problem yourself and fix it, or call a professional for fixing it for you. You can take advantage of warranties on parts in such case.

7: If the same error message shows up every time you log in, then try to investigate it as those errors could be something important.

8: Give your computer a break sometimes as by using it continuously wears out hardware, and puts unnecessary wear and tear on the hardware.

9: If you have a warranty for your computer, then get a warranty to protect your hardware, so that it can be replaced in the case of a failure.

10: Always run backup of your important files to either other drives, computers, or an online backup service.

11: Once it fails, just diagnose the failure. Write down the cause and if there are error messages, write them as well. If data is missing, nothing works, always write that down. If you know the problem, try to fix it yourself or else contact a professional to fix it for you.

The Best Gadget 2015

Make sure you will buy only the best among lots of stuffs that you get this holiday season. As we have listed the best products we’ve seen this year after analyzing with our friends at Reviewed.com. Our list includes 20 most important categories that are best in personal technology, home entertainment devices, appliances for the home, and gear to use on the job. The listed products are tested completely by our writers and editors, and are recommended for you to buy if you’re shopping for something in the category. You will find all the latest picks of Reviewed.com at their site. You will even find complete review at WIRED or at Reviewed.com for each product.

The Best Ear-buds

Master & Dynamic’s all-brass ME05 earphones comes on topmost pick because of its excellent audio equipped with innovative design. For $199, you will get top-shelf sound, supreme comfort, dramatic isolation, and exquisite craftsmanship. So if you are fond of in-ears with excellent bass and a bombproof design, then you should try this.

The Best Headphones

Bang & Olufsen’s BeoPlay line of personal audio products introduces excellent headphone models among which wireless BeoPlay H7 ($449) is our favorite. The headset consists of over-ear design and hence connects to any Bluetooth capable device for delivering excellent sound. Its audio profile is somewhat same as the cabled BeoPlay H6. These don’t have active noise canceling but it has got leather ear pads which provide excellent isolation.

The Best iPhone

The new iPhone 6S are also included in the list as these two flagship mobile devices ($650 and up) are more sensible pick for most of the people as it’s easier to slip into a pocket and easier to use with one hand. But, the most important reasons behind it is the high security, supreme ease of use, the best mobile app ecosystem, top-quality construction, and one of the very best cameras ever.

The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The Ultimate Ears UE Boom 2 ($200) provides fantastic sound from a compact speaker and comes with the size of a tallboy of Bud Light Lime. It kicks out enough volume to serve as the primary speaker in the room. As it is completely waterproof and shockproof, you can take it to the beach, or rock it in the shower. It has excellent wireless range compared to most Bluetooth devices and battery lasts well till 15 hours.

The Best Washing Machine

The Kenmore 40172 and LG WM8000HVA are usually identical as they can fit both huge laundry and wash a small load in under 30 minutes. They’ll remove all stains while still being gentle on your delicate clothes. Both the product regularly cost below $1,000, so pick whichever you want.

The Best Battery Pack

Our pick has something which others don’t have and that is the Tylt Energi 5K+, which is a relatively slim and compact 5,200mAh battery pack that has two inbuilt cables like a Lightning cable for Apple mobiles and a microUSB for Android phones, Kindles, and other mobile devices. A separate USB plug on the side is given if you have one of those rare and new USB-C devices like a Nexus 6P or 5X. List price is $80, but you will get it for even $48.

The Best Wireless Speaker for the Home

The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless ($700) is beautifully designed and generates very loud but natural sound with excellent bass. Though, previous versions were Apple-centric and AirPlay-only, you can connect this new model via AirPlay, Bluetooth, or Spotify Connect, for working with almost any PC or iOS, Android, or Windows mobile device.

The Best CHEAP Earbuds

These Mrice E300 earbuds cost around $17 to $25 depending on the purchase location and color of the product. They’re very cheap but exceed some branded models costing ten times as much in terms of quality, great for working out, commuting, and everyday use.

The Best Television

OLED televisions are best for dark home theater environment but they have two major flaws: they’re too expensive, and they’re all curved. While the price is still a work in progress, LG is finally launched its first flat 4K OLED, the LG 65EF9500 (MSRP $5,999). The EF9500 has come with boasting pitch-black shadows and vibrant colors. Along with HDR compatibility of LG’s bubbly web OS 2.0, it has surprisingly fetching physical design. Hence, EF9500 is the total package and it’s easily one of our favorite TVs of 2015.

The Best Pocket Camera

If you count yourself among one for whom point-and-shoot is only worth if It gets fit in the pocket, then tyou should go for Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV. These cameras slip easily into a pocket but manages to pack a large 1-inch image sensor, 4K video recording, and a pop-up viewfinder. Though, it’s costly ($948), but previous versions of the RX100 cost much less these days.

The Best Camera

Sony’s full-frame a7 series are famous since its origination, but the a7R II ($3,200 and up) is the first model to truly touch the sky. It has a giant full-frame sensor packed with 42 megapixels of resolution, a high-speed processor to manage it all, and the ability to record 4K video. Its battery life is awesome, band hence we can’t stop crowning it the best camera of 2015.

The Best Television Under $500

The Sony KDL-40R510C is so perfect that even finical videophiles should be pleased. Along with its modest cost ($428 and up) and simple design, it boasts solid materials and great picture quality with just slight adjustment. It’s not 4K, but at this price point, you can not find cheaper TVs with such build and picture quality.

The Best Chromebook

Dell’s Chromebook 13 with its spacious and bright screen, comes very close to perfection. The Chrome OS-powered machine is light, solidly constructed, and has excellent battery life. As it has been billed as “business class,” it comes in a wide variety of configurations ranging from low end Celeron models to higher end models with up to 8GB of RAM, an Intel i5 processor, and a touchscreen. While the base model sells for around $400, it can range up to $800 or $900 accordingly.

The Best Refrigerator

The GE Cafe CFE28TSHSS is generally a 27.8 cu-ft, French door model which comes with a stainless steel exterior. With excellent food preservation and a classic appearance, it even features a hot water container for making tea or hot chocolate. MSRP costs $3,100, but you can also get it in cheaper price.

The Best Robot Vacuum

The Neato Botvac 80 is affordable (MSRP of $500), flexible and as good a robot as it is a vacuum. Based on lab testing of all the best-selling models, that’s very reasonable and affordable.

The Best Windows Laptop

The Dell XPS 13 really attracts people with its almost completely bezel-free display. For laptop buyers who want a compact machine without sacrificing screen real estate, you can get a 13-inch laptop in a chassis that’s much closer to an 11-inch laptop. It comes with a great battery and with prices starting from $800.

The Best Camera Under $1,000

The Panasonic Lumix G7 ($800 and up) is mirrorless camera which has the horsepower of a flagship camera. It’s fast, accurate, has a sharp sensor, shoots spectacular 4K video, and has a great electronic viewfinder. The best thing is, this complete package comes for less than $1,000.

The Best Drone

Though, DJI’s drones were not famous before, but as the popularity of remote-controlled quadcopters has continued to grow, DJI’s Phantom 3 Professional ($1,259) has raised to the sky tip. Chat with a drone pilot at your local park if they’re flying a Phantom. The normalization features are awesome, the controls are easy to understand, and the camera shoots dreamy 4K footage.

The Best Dryer

Along with fitting a lot of laundry, Electrolux’s flagship dryer also dries them quickly and gently, offering the user an utmost ease. Electrolux EWMED70JIW performs custom cycle to dry a pet bed and steam stuffed animals clean. It’s topping the ratings for four years running with MSRP is $1,549, but you can find it cheaper if you shop around.

The Best Android Phone

The Nexus 6P is somewhat close to a perfect Android device. It is Google’s new flagship phone which shows the world just how good Android can be. It’s has got the best hardware and software, all in a single slick package.

The Best TV Streamer

The Roku has a much bigger footprint than previous versions of the company’s hardware that too with $130 price. But, the bigger story is here is, it’s making it easy to find things to watch in 4K, it’s supporting up its components to handle the load, and it’s opening up its universal search capabilities wider than any competing player.

DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras: Which Is Better for You?

While opting for photography, you need to choose between digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera and a Mirrorless camera. Both are of equal competition, but each has its pros and cons.

DSLRs use the same design as that of 35mm film cameras like, it will have mirror inside the camera body that reflects the light coming in through the lens up to a and into the viewfinder for you to preview your shot. Here are the features and capabilities of one of the most preferred intermediate-level DSLRs called Nikon D5300.

In addition to the architecture of a Mirrorless camera, some models also offer a second screen inside an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that you can put your eye to. You will even find the same feature in Sony’s Alpha a600, which has been used as another example. Here’s how the two technologies compare:

Size & Weight

Comparatively, DSLR camera has larger body as they need to fit in the mirror and prism. E.g., the body of the $850 Nikon D5300 is a slightly bulky and 3 inches deep and weighs about 1 pound, 2 ounces with 18-55mm kit lens.

However, Mirrorless camera body is smaller than a DSLR, with simpler construction. The $850 Sony a6000 has 1.9 inches thick body and weighs just over a pound with its 16-50mm kit lens. Hence, you can carry it more easily and fit more gear such as extra lenses, into a camera bag.

Autofocus Speed

DSLRs have an advantage here as its mirror mechanism directs light into dedicated autofocus sensors using phase detection technology, which measures the junction of two beams of light very fast. Unfortunately, Mirrorless cameras have point-and-shoots called contrast detection, which uses the image sensor and moves the lens back and forth to find the position in which the image shows the highest contrast, which coincides with focus. Contrast detection is slower than phase detection, especially in low light.

It is sad to know that, DSLR’s scope is going down due to the incorporation of phase-detection pixels into the image sensor on some of the Mirrorless cameras. With both phase and contrast detection, it can refine the autofocus.  E.g., Sony a6000 has 179 phase-detection points on its image sensor, while the Nikon D5300 has 39 in its separate AF sensor. So, while shopping for a Mirrorless model having fast autofocus, check for the phase detection or hybrid autofocus also.

Previewing Images

The optical viewfinder in DSLR shows exactly what the camera will capture whereas with Mirrorless camera, you can preview the image on-screen, and sometimes through an EVF, as with the Sony a6000.

While shooting in proper light, the preview in a Mirrorless camera’s EVF will look close to the final image but with low light or fast moving object, the camera fails to give a real-time preview.

Though, DSLRs copy a Mirrorless camera by raising the mirror to show a live preview of the image, most of them are slow to focus in this mode as they don’t have the hybrid on-chip phase-detection sensors and have to use slower contrast detection to focus.

Image Stabilization

Both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras provide image-stabilization systems where sensors measure camera movement and then the camera slightly shifts either part of the lens or the image sensor in a direction opposite to the shake. Few Mirrorless models shift both lens element and the sensor in a synchronized pattern.

Well, there is not much difference between these approaches as they can deal with small camera shake to produce a sharper picture, but fails for larger movements.

Image Quality

Both the camera takes high-quality pictures with similar resolutions and amounts of graininess, known as noise. Before, Mirrorless cameras’ smaller image sensors couldn’t capture much light. But now, camera manufacturers have learned to produce more profound chips so as to suppress noise. Additionally, several Mirrorless camera makers such as Samsung and Sony now use the same APS-C sensors that are in the majority of DSLRs. However, Sony A7 line of cameras uses even larger full-frame sensor type like in the best professional DSLRs.

Video Quality

Because of their on-chip focus sensors, Mirrorless cameras are used for video shooting but it cannot use phase detection with the mirror up while recording video. Therefore, they have to use contrast-detection focus method.  Some Mirrorless cameras, such as the $1700 Panasonic GH4 and $1500 Samsung NX1, can capture 4K, or Ultra HD, video with four times the resolution of HD footage. But recently, no DSLRs shoot 4K/Ultra HD video.

Speed

Both the cameras shoot at very fast shutter speeds and capture a burst of images quickly. The Sony a6000 can shoot 11 frames per second (fps), while Nikon D5300 can do only 5 fps. Most Mirrorless cameras use a mechanical shutter for better results but they also have the option of using an electronic shutter to gain higher shutter speeds and shoot silently.

Image & Video Playback

However, both camera types display images on their screens or via an HDMI output to a television. Nowadays, many DSLR and Mirrorless models include Wi-Fi for sending images to smartphones for online posting.

Battery Life

Generally, DSLRs have removable battery with longer life as they can shoot without using the LCD screen or an electronic viewfinder. The CIPA-standard battery life rating for the Nikon D5300 is 600 shots whereas the Sony a6000’s is just 360.

Lenses & Accessories

DSLR comes with excess of lenses from a number of manufacturers ranging from cheap to wildly expensive whereas, most Mirrorless models take only a small number of lenses from the camera maker.

You will get adapters to use DSLR-size lenses on a Mirrorless camera but that often comes at a price of altering the focal length and zoom characteristics and sometimes disables or slows the functions such as autofocus.

Durability

Both DSLRS and Mirrorless models have alloy bodies and are completely weatherproof, meaning that they can shrug off splashes. E.g., the Nikon 1 AW1 Mirrorless model is waterproof to an impressive depth of 49 feet.

How to Use a 3G USB Modem with a Wireless Router?

In order to access any form of high speed connection in any corner of your home, you need to have the latest 3G USB modem that can adapt with wireless router. A wireless router is a device in a wireless local area network (WLAN) that determines the next network point to which the internet signal should be forwarded. A wireless router works in the same way as the router in a hard-wired home or business local area network (LAN), but allows greater mobility for notebook or portable computers. Doing so will help you to enable your laptop elsewhere in our home to access the web easily. Using a 3G USB modem helps you being online without any internet shortage while traveling or staying away from your usual Internet connection. You can even share the connection with other devices with the help of compatible wireless router. You can use a wireless router which is specifically selected for mobile broadband and 3G modems to establish a LAN for nearby Wi-Fi-compatible computers and other devices.

So, let’s start with the task of connecting 3G USB Modem with a Wireless Router. It’s very simple! You just need to connect your 3G USB-enabled wireless routers to the power and insert one end of its power supply into the device’s “Power” or “AC” port. Again, insert the other end of the power supply into a nearby electrical outlet and after that, connect your 3G USB modem to an available USB slot on the wireless router with the help of a USB cable. Once done with the connection process, you need to open “View Wireless Networks” option which is present on your PC or other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. It will now display a list of available wireless networks. Just click the required network connection or Wi-Fi icon in your Windows Explorer taskbar’s notification area. In some device, you will find the same option in Finder menu bar.

It’s still yet to finish! Now you have to select the wireless network that you named after your wireless router’s model which will then connect the computer or Wi-Fi-enabled device to your newly established network. You can enter the network’s password, if asked, though this is only required for password-protected networks, which you may not have put if you are using the wireless router for the first time. If you do, then you can enter the initial password provided in your wireless router’s instruction manual. If not asked, then you will be connected directly to your 3G USB modem’s Wi-Fi signal through the wireless router. Finally, you can perform online functions from the connected device, such as browsing the Web or transferring files and data.

How to Improve the Wi-Fi Network Signal Strength in Your House or Workplace?

As Wi-Fi is a set of radio waves, it can be interfered by so many things around. But in case of = strong Wi-Fi signal, you can experience faster performance and better coverage distance and hence, it is very important to place and configure your router properly for the best signal strength.

Point the Antenna Up

Routers consist of adjustable physical antennas which often comes pointed horizontally to fit the router inside its box. For maximum signal strength, you need to place your router’s antenna vertically, pointing upwards. If you have two antennas, then it will be difficult for you to get better performance if they are pointed in different directions.

Position Your Router Properly

If you own large home or office, then you should place the router close to the center so as to maximize the signal coverage. If you place the router at the corner of the room or building, then you may have poor signal at the other end. In case, you are getting proper signal strength in other side of the building, then you don’t need to move it. You can even place the router in higher position for receiving maximum coverage.

Avoid Interference

You should not place the router on or near large metal objects such as metal shelves or filing cabinets as these things can block the signal. Wood and plaster walls won’t cause any problems regarding signal transmission but metal stuff can even block Wi-Fi signals often.

Your Wi-Fi Network Signal can even be interfered by microwave ovens, 2.4 GHz cordless phones, and 2.4 GHz baby monitors as all have the potential to interfere with a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal. So, if you have these kinds of devices in between a laptop and a router, then they could divert the Wi-Fi signal. You can solve these issues by moving any one of them so the interfering device will not come in between them. In case of interference from a cordless phone, you can purchase newer 5.8 GHz cordless phones which work on a difference frequency band and won’t interfere with Wi-Fi.

Choose the Best Wi-Fi Channel

If you are surrounded by many Wi-Fi networks that are connected in apartment complex or even your neighbors’ house, then those Wi-Fi networks are probably interfering with yours. To minimize such interference, try to move your router away from other Wi-Fi access points, if possible. The best thing you can do is, switch to a different Wi-Fi channel by setting it through the option on your router’s settings page. Just check your router’s instruction manual for instructions on how to do that. Here, you can locate the Wi-Fi channel option in the router’s web interface and change it to a different channel with less interference. It might take a little hard work to find the best one, but you can get help of Wi-Fi Analyzer app for Android phones and tablets, which will monitor the Wi-Fi networks near you and recommend the least-cluttered Wi-Fi channel for your network. Unfortunately, you won’t find such apps for iPhone or iPad due to the limitations that Apple has set on app developers.

So, you got to know what all you really have to do is, just position your router well and choose the ideal Wi-Fi channel to optimize your network. Even buying a new router that supports modern, improved Wi-Fi standards may also provide you signal strength and speed boost.

How to Convert Color Photo to Black And White in Adobe Photoshop?

Converting color photos or images to black and white digitally gives you so much of advantages such as you can change the nature of the black and white conversion just by placing a colored filter on the lens, darkening a blue sky according to wish, and many more. You can use DSLR cameras to convert color photos to black and white.

You will find tools which enable you various photo editors such as the latest one called as adobe creative cloud. You can find both destructive and non-destructive black and white conversion techniques. Destructive method is one which cannot be re-adjusted once you make the conversion unless you use undo option. Alternatively, non-destructive methods use Photoshop’s adjustment layers and the changes that you make to your photo are stored in the form of layer thereby keeping the original photo unchanged. Users are suggested to go for on-destructive photo editing as this technique is always better than destructive editing.

Convert to Greyscale (Destructive)

This is the simplest black and white conversion method which converts the color images to grayscale by discarding all the color information in the photo.

For example: In Photoshop CS 3

  • Go to Image -> click on “Mode” option -> tap “Grayscale”-> Click on ‘Discard’ option
  • Next, go to Photoshop Elements and…
  • Tap “Image”- > click on “Mode”- > select “Grayscale” option-> click ‘OK’ button

Though this is an easy technique, you will lose control on conversion of the photos completely.

Use the Hue/Saturation Tool (Non-destructive)

This method gives exactly the same result as converting to grayscale but with little bit of enhancement and that is, it is availed as an adjustment layer, and hence can be used as part of a non-destructive editing process.

E.g., Photoshop CS 3 and Photoshop Elements 6:

  • Go to Layer -> click on New Adjustment Layer -> select Hue/Saturation

After that, click on ‘OK’ button and move the saturation slider all the way to the left and press ‘OK’ again.

This technique is as quick and easy as Converting to Greyscale and it can be applied as an adjustment layer in both Photoshop CS 3 and Elements 6. Here also, you will not have control over the conversion process.

Gradient Map (Non-destructive)

The gradient map tool maps a black and white gradient to the brightness values of your photo thereby making the dark areas black or dark grey and highlights as white or light grey.

E.g., Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements:

You can press ‘D’ from keyboard to reset the foreground and background color to black and white.

Then go to Layer -> click on New Adjustment Layer -> select Gradient Map

After that click on ‘OK’ button, and your task is done.

Channel Mixer (Non-destructive)

The Channel mixer is considered as the first black and white conversion tool that use the full potential of information contained in the color photo. Color photos usually have three color channels such as red, green and blue which combine to make the millions of colors in your photo. The Channel mixer conversion method adjusts the ratios between the red, green and blue channels thereby lightening the colors that are close to it on the color wheel and darkening the colors that are opposite to it.

For example: Photoshop CS

Go to “Layer”- > tap “New Adjustment Layer” > select “Channel Mixer”

Tick the selection box and then move the Red, Green and Blue sliders to the left and right to lighten and darken different tones in the photo. The total of the three sliders should be 100% at all times.

Finally, click on ‘OK’ button and you are done with your task.

Speech-To-Text Dictation Software for Mac OS X

Speech-to-text software also known as dictation software, is nothing but the interface that lets you communicate with the computer and let the computer react accordingly to whatever you command to it. It is completely different from what you call text-to-speech software.

Usually the functionality of Speech-To-Text Dictation Software depends on many things including:

  • How good your microphone is
  • How much your accent matches the “standard” accent the program expects
  • Whether your voice changes a lot through the day, and so on

There are actually two options for dictation software that are supported by Mac OS X known as basic dictation software (built-in software of OS X) and Dragon Dictate for Mac which has been developed by Nuance. Here are some general steps which will help you turn the dictation tool and use it accordingly for dictation purpose on Mac machine.

Steps to turn Dictation on or off:

  • Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” option.
  • Next, go to the View menu and select “Dictation & Speech” followed by Dictation preferences.
  • Now, select “On” to enable Dictation, or “Off” to disable the same

In case you want to go for a shortcut key, you can just change your language, and select a microphone from Dictation preferences. If your system does not have a built-in microphone, then you can even connect an external microphone in order to use Dictation.

Steps to start dictating:

  • First of all, click on text field or document window where you want to start typing.
  • Then, press the fn (Function) key twice, or select “Edit” option followed by “Start Dictation” option.
  • Now, speak whatever you want your system to type.

Once the process gets completed, click on “Done” option or press the fn key once again. Your spoken words will then appear in the selected text field.

You will find an input meter which indicates the strength of your voice. If it’s too low, then just stick closer to your microphone and speak louder for better communication. If you find that the input meter is not working appropriately when you speak, then check whether your microphone and sound input are set up correctly or not. In case, there is any noise at the background, the input meter will fill more than half of the microphone icon. Such noise can affect your dictation thereby making it less accurate.

Basically, your computer listens for up to 30 seconds at a time and then reacts for the spoken words. If you want to dictate longer sentences, then you have an option called Enhanced Dictation for that also. This option allows you to dictate continuously and it automatically stops listening when you switch to another window or press the Fn key again or click Done.

How to Use Adobe Creative Cloud??

Adobe Creative Cloud is a kind of software which is provided by Adobe System for enabling the users to access a huge collection of software that are developed by Adobe especially for graphic design, video editing, web development, photography, cloud services, and many more.

So, the question here is, how to use Adobe Creative Cloud?

Well, it is not that hard, so just relax and follow the given steps carefully:

However, in order to get started, first of all you need to download your first app from the Adobe official website. With this step, the Adobe Creative Cloud app which you are going to use for managing the future downloads will automatically be installed at the same time. Now, the real scenario gets started with the following steps…

  1. Go to the Creative Cloud apps index and crave for the Adobe app that you want to download and use.
  2. Now, click on “Download” so as to install the app that you want. If you are a new user, then you will be asked to sign in with your Adobe ID and password by following some easy steps.
  3. Your required app will now start downloading. At the same moment, the Creative Cloud desktop app will appear and it will manage the installation process that are yet to be performed. You can freely check your download progress in the status bar that is present next to the app’s name. The downloading time depends completely on the network speed and system configuration, so it may take some time to download your app accordingly.
  4. For launching your new app, just find out the appropriate app icon in the Apps panel and click on “Open” option. You can even use the way to launch your new app that you usually follow for launching any other app on your system. Your new app will get installed in the same location where your other apps normally gets installed unless you give a particular location. In case you found any trouble with your first download, you can go for the Creative Cloud download and installation troubleshooting which will help you with the proper solution.
  5. Now, as you have successfully downloaded your first app, you can use the Creative Cloud desktop app to browse, install, launch, and manage any of the Creative Cloud app or service that too with absolute ease and comfort. You just need to click the Creative Cloud icon that is stored in the taskbar or Apple menu bar and your Creative Cloud desktop app will simply open. You will see your installed app, as well as a list of apps you can browse and install.

Note: If you do not get the Creative Cloud icon somehow, then you may re-launch the app once again without any trouble. Just follow the given steps and your work is done. Also, if you have any demo for using Adobe Creative Cloud, then you are suggested to refer those Creative Cloud instructions. If not, then get started with Creative Cloud simply.

On Windows OS: Go to Windows-> Click on Start-> Programs-> Adobe Creative Cloud.

On Mac OS: Select Go -> then click on Applications -> Adobe Creative Cloud -> Adobe Creative Cloud.

So, you can see that it is very easy to use this innovative tool and with its help you can access all the Adobe apps just with single click.

Blogging Tool – Windows Live Writer is now Open Source

Open Live Writer seems to be a great tool for bloggers, but after its major update in 2012 Microsoft had no plans to release the commercial version of the software. Are you still a user of Windows Live Writer and wanted it to be enhanced? Here’s the positive news about it. The discontinued blogging tool, Windows Live Writer has been now released as Open Source Live writer, which has made a great day for bloggers. Bloggers now have a favourite tool for creation of a great content. Windows Live Writer has made blogging things easier, it makes it quite simple to compose the blog post offline and publish the posts on various popular blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, SharePoint, etc.

Group of volunteers from Microsoft have open sourced its popular live Writer blogging tool called Open Live Writer, which is popularly known as OLW. Open Live Writer is available as for a non-commercial use for writing posts.

For now, you may not be able to use the spell check feature in currently released open source Windows Live Writer. This is because, the feature Spell Checking is not present, as it wasn’t available for an open source release, and also the software that was being used for spell check was old. However, the new version of Windows OS i.e. Windows 8 or later, are enabled with spell checking feature along with the OS. On using Windows 8 or its new versions, you should be allowed to use the spell checking feature of OS in new versions of Windows Open Live Writer.

You can easily find the source code of Open Live Writer software on GitHub OR, a free download of Open Live Writer is now available for use.

Development of commercial version of this Open Live Writer has been also supported by .NFT Foundation. The partnership actually helped to achieve goals around the participation of growing community for the open sourced project. So, in partnership with the .NFT Foundation, the volunteers of Microsoft has developed Open Live Writer Software with great improvements.

With the aid of this Windows Open Live Writer, you can even pull the requests, design ideas, submit feedback, and perform many more ideas. Working with the Open Live Writer provides really a very very simple and easy to use GUI for writing blog posts, handling hyperlinks and images, when it is compared with similar other tools which are been ever used in general.