Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How Is My Computer Able to Restart Itself?


It’s such a common place activity that most of us have likely never stopped to even think about it: the automatic restart. Whether user or application-initiated, what exactly happens when your computer cycles its own power?

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-drive grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Seth Carnegie wonders about computer power management:
How can a computer restart itself? After it’s off, how does it tell itself to come back on again? What kind of software is it that can do this?
How indeed? What combination of software/hardware magic makes it happen?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Jcrawfordor offers both a condensed and detailed response to the question that more than adequately addresses the question:
The too long;didn’t read it answer: Power states in your computer are controlled by an implementation of ACPI (advanced configuration and power interface). At the end of a shutdown process, your operating system sets an ACPI command indicating that the computer should reboot. In response, the motherboard resets all components using their respective reset commands or lines, and then follows the bootstrap process. The motherboard never actually turns off, it only resets various components and then behaves as if the power button has just been pressed.
Long and rambling but (in my opinion) more interesting answer:

Soft Power and How It Works

In the olden days (well, okay, to a college student like me the ’90s was a long time ago), we had AT (Advanced Technology) motherboards with AT power management. The AT power system was very, very simple. The power button on your computer was a hardware toggle (probably in the back of the case) and your 120vac input went right through it. It physically turned the power to your power supply on and off, and when this switch was in the Off position everything in your computer was completely dead (this made the CMOS battery very important, because without it there was no power supply to keep the hardware clock ticking). Because the power switch was a physical mechanism, there was no software way to turn power on and off. Windows would show the famous “It is now safe to turn off your computer” message because, although everything was parked and ready to turn off, it was not possible for the OS to actually flip the power switch. This configuration was sometimes referred to as hard power, because it’s all hardware.
Nowadays things are different, because of the wonders of ATX motherboards and ATX power (that’s Advanced Technology eXtended if you’re keeping track). Along with a number of other advances (mini-DIN PS/2, anyone?), ATX brought soft power. Soft power means that power to the computer can be controlled by software. This brought a few import changes:
  • Standby power: you may have seen a “5v SB” or “5v standby” connector labeled in power supply pinouts. The standby power supply is a 5v line to your motherboard that is always on, even when the computer is turned off. This is why it is important to unplug or turn off a PSU hard switch (if present) when servicing modern computers, because even when it’s off you could potentially short the 5v SB and damage the motherboard. This is also why CMOS batteries aren’t really as important anymore – the 5v SB is used to replace the CMOS battery whenever the power supply has mains power, so the CMOS battery is only used when you unplug the computer entirely. The 5v SB line importantly allows components of your computer (most importantly the BIOS and the network adapters) to keep running some simple software even when the computer is turned off.
  • Intelligent power supply control. If you look at a pinout for your power supply’s motherboard (P1) connector, you’ll notice two pins typically labeled PS_ON and PS_RDY. These stand for “power supply on” and “power supply ready”. If you like to experiment, take a power supply not in a computer, plug it in, and carefully short a ground line (one of the black wires) to the PS_ON line (the green wire). The power supply will visibly turn on, with the fan spinning up. The components of the motherboard running off of +5v SB actually turn your power supply on and off by connecting power to the PS_ON pin. Because there are some capacitors and other components in the power supply that take a moment to charge up, the voltages from the power supply’s main outputs may not be stable immediately after the PSU turns on. This is what the PS_RDY pin is for, it comes on when the power supply’s internal logic determines that the power supply is “ready” and will provide stable power. The motherboard waits until PS_RDY is on to continue booting.
So, your power switch no longer “turns on” the computer. Instead, it’s connected to your motherboard’s basic controllers, which detect that the button has been pressed and execute a number of steps to ready the system, including lighting up PS_ON so that power will be available. The power button isn’t the only way to trigger the startup process, devices on your expansion bus can also do so. This is important because your ethernet network adapters actually stay on when your computer is off and look for a very specific packet often referred to as the “Magic packet.” If they detect this packet addressed to their MAC address, they will trigger the startup process. This is how “Wake-on-LAN” (WoL) works. The clock can also initiate a boot (most BIOS allow you to set a time that the computer should boot each day), and USB and FireWire devices can trigger a boot, although I’m not aware of any implementation of this.

Understanding Power Control

Well, I explain the Soft Power thing both because I think it’s interesting (always a key reason that I explain things) and because it allows you to understand how the power and running/off state of your computer are all controlled by software. In most current computers, this software system is an implementation of the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface, or ACPI. ACPI is a standardized, unified system allowing software to control your computer’s power system. You may have heard of the ACPI power states. The basic mechanism of power control is these “power states”, your operating system switches through power modes by preparing for the switch (the shutdown/hibernate processes that occur prior to power actually flipping off), and then commanding the motherboard to switch power states. The power states look like this:
  • G0: Working (your computer’s “on” state)
  • G1: Sleeping (your computer’s standby states, divided in to the S substates)
    • S1: power to CPU and RAM remains on, but CPU is not executing instructions. Peripheral devices are powered off.
    • S2: CPU powered off, RAM maintained
    • S3: All components powered down except for RAM and devices that will trigger a resume (keyboard). When you tell your OS to “Sleep”, it will stop processes and then enter this mode.
    • S4: Hibernation. Absolutely everything is turned off. When you tell your operating system to Hibernate, it stops processes, saves the contents of RAM to disk, and then enters this mode.
  • G2: Soft Off. this is your computer’s “off” state. Power is off to everything except for devices that can trigger a boot.
  • G3: Mechanical off.

How reset actually happens

You’ll notice that reboot is not one of these states. So what actually happens when your computer when it reboots? The answer may be surprising, because from a power management perspective it’s almost nothing. There is an ACPI reset command. When you tell your operating system to reboot, it follows its normal shutdown process (stops all your processes, performs a bit of maintenance, dismounts your file systems, etc), and then as a final step, instead of sending the machine to power state G2 (as it would if you had simply told it to Shut Down) it sets the Reset command. This is generally referred to as the “Reset register”, because like most of the ACPI interface it’s just an address that a specific value should be written to in order to request a reset. I’ll quote the 2.0 specification on what it does:
The optional ACPI reset mechanism specifies a standard mechanism that provides a complete system reset. When implemented, this mechanism must reset the entire system. This includes processors, core logic, all buses, and all peripherals. From an OSPM perspective, asserting the reset mechanism is the logical equivalent to power cycling the machine. Upon gaining control after a reset, OSPM will perform actions in like manner to a cold boot.
So, when the reset register is set, a few things happen in sequence.
  • All logic is reset. This means sending the respective reset commands to various bits of hardware including the CPU, memory controller, peripheral controllers, etc. In most cases this simply means lighting up a physical RST wire, as AndrejaKo showed up above.
  • The computer is then bootstrapped. This is the “perform actions in like manner to a cold boot” part. The motherboard performs the same steps as it would if the power supply had just become ready after the power button being pressed.
The end effect of these two steps (which actually break down in to a lot more steps) is that it looks to everything just like the computer just booted, but the power was actually on the whole time. This means less time required to shut down and start up (since you don’t have to wait for the power supply to become ready), and importantly allows the bootup to be initiated by the operating system shutting down. This means that another startup trigger doesn’t need to be used (WoL etc), and allows you to use Reboot as an effective way to reset the system remotely, when you don’t have a way to trigger boot.
That was a long answer. But hey, hopefully you know more about computer power management now. I certainly learned some things researching this.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

100 of the Best Free File Hosting Upload Sites


Not everything that’s out there can be found as a torrent - that’s why release blogs and warez forums do amazingly well. Warez-bb.org alone offers literally millions of separate topics, with each one containing a downloadable release - numbers that by far eclipse even the most prolific public torrent indexers. So where are all these releases being offered for download? On those so-called 1-Click Hoster sites. Here’s a current list of the top 100 free file hosting sites on the ‘net.
You’ve probably come across similar lists, but we’ve cleaned it up for 2009. The number listed next to each entry refers to the “free user” upload size limit only. Many of these services allow for either free or premium registration, in which the allowable sizes of files will be increased. All sites listed below are essentially open to everyone for public uploading - signing up is not required, but optional.

1 GB and up

**
http://www.filebox.com - 100 Gb
http://megashares.com - 10 Gb
http://www.filesavr.com - 10 Gb
http://www.filezzz.com - 10 Gb
http://www.yourfilelink.com - 5 Gb
http://gettyfile.ru - 4.7 Gb
http://qshare.com - 4 Gb
http://depositfiles.com - 2 Gb
http://www.2shared.com - 2 Gb
http://shareua.com - 2 Gb
http://uploadbox.com - 2 Gb
http://www.flyupload.com - 2 Gb
http://fileshare.in.ua - 2 Gb
http://www.badongo.com - 2 Gb
http://rapidshare.ru - 1.5 Gb
http://getfile.biz - 1 Gb
http://www.megaupload.com - 1 Gb
http://sexuploader.com - 1 Gb
http://www.transferbigfiles.com - 1 Gb
http://usershare.net - 1 Gb
http://www.filesave.me - 1 Gb
http://www.storage.to - 1 Gb
http://www.sharingmatrix.com - 1 Gb
http://dataup.to - 1 Gb
http://www.uploadline.com - 1 Gb
http://dl.free.fr - 1 Gb
http://www.mystream.to - 1 Gb
http://filez.bz - 1 Gb?
http://filebase.to - 1 Gb
http://www.savefile.com - unknown
**

500 - 800 MB…

**
http://duckload.com - 800 Mb
http://flyfile.us - 800 Mb
http://quickupload.net - 800 Mb
http://www.filefront.com - 600 Mb
http://www.spread-it.com - 500 Mb
http://www.megaftp.com - 500 Mb
http://www.webfilehost.com - 500 Mb
http://www.zshare.net - 500 Mb
http://www.infinitemb.com - 500 Mb
http://www.uploadmachine.com - 500 Mb
http://milledrive.com - 500 Mb (reg files) or 1 Gb (video files)
http://www.mlfat4arab.com - also has ‘RapidShare Leech’ service.**

200 - 450 MB…

Many of the sites listed in this range are extremely popular with those who upload to release blogs & forums since often the links are interchangeable with eath other, yet each part can be downloaded by “free” (non-premium) users. For example, if you’ve blown your free daily limit downloading Part 1 from storage.to, you can download Part 2 from hotfile.com, and so on. Movie releases are often uploaded in 2, 4 or even 8 parts (depending on originating file size and the hoster used).
**
http://justupit.com - 450 Mb
http://turboupload.com - 400 Mb
http://netload.in - 400 Mb
http://myupload.biz (Netload.in mirror) - 400 Mb
http://hotfile.com - 400 Mb
http://www.share-online.biz - 310 Mb
http://load.to - 300 Mb
http://www.gigasize.com - 300 Mb
http://filecoast.com - 300 Mb
http://egoshare.com - 300 Mb
http://rapidshare.de - 300 Mb
http://www.simpleupload.net - 300 Mb
http://www.filefactory.com - 300 Mb
http://www.sendspace.com - 300 Mb
http://ifile.it - 300 Mb
http://www.enterupload.com - 300 Mb
http://www.slingfile.com - 300 Mb
http://uploaded.to - 250 Mb
http://www.bonpoo.com - 250 Mb
http://www.easy-share.com - 200 Mb
http://uploadyourfiles.de - 200 Mb
http://www.axifile.com - 200 Mb
http://www.mailbigfile.com - 200 Mb
http://speedshare.org - 200 Mb
http://www.flameupload.com - 200 Mb
http://ugotfile.com - 200 Mb
http://www.ziddu.com - 200 Mb
http://dimshare.com - 200 Mb
http://www.file-rack.com - 200 Mb
http://www.midupload.com - 200 Mb
http://turbobit.net - 200 Mb
http://rapidshare.com - 200 Mb**

100 - 150 MB…

Under 100 MB…

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why Are Dial-up Modems so Noisy?


Throughout the 1990s the majority of internet users began their session with the noisy handshake of a dial-up modem, but what exactly was all that electronic chatter about? Read on as we investigate one of the more iconic sounds of the burgeoning Internet age.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-drive grouping of Q&A web sites.
While dial-up modem use might be down from the nearly 100% market saturation in the 1990s to only 10% of current US internet users, the sound of a dial-up modem connecting lives on in the memories of geeks everywhere. This week we’re taking a look at the technology behind the noisy process and what exactly was going on when you dialed in for your internet session.

The Question

SuperUser reader Celeritas poses the question surely millions of people have asked themselves over the years:
I know that the signal was just tone pulses but why was it when (back in the 90s) when you first connected to the internet you heard a bunch of funny noises. After that if you were to use the internet, it still was using the telephone line, why no funny noises then?
Why indeed? What was going on during the noisy part and why the silence afterwards?

The Answers

Several SuperUser contributors fleshed out an answer for us. Scott Chamberlain writes:
Modems originally allowed you to send data over a network that was designed to only carry voice. Because of that, the communication method between two modems had to be in the audible hearing range (or it would not get carried on the phone line). This is no longer needed because the phone system can now carry both voice and data at the same time (DSL).
The sounds were there all the time, you just needed to pick up the phone to hear it. The reason they played it over a loudspeaker to start with is so you could hear if somthing went wrong with the connection (busy signal, wrong number, a person picked up instead of a modem on the other end, etc).
Tylerl expands on that and explains how you could manipulate your modem to pipe down:
The whistles and chirps and buzzes that you hear when a modem is going through its initial handshake process is a test of the telephone line quality. A modem send precisely specified sounds and the other listens see what it actually hears on the other end. This way the modems know how clear the line is between them and what sort of frequencies they can use to communicate with each other. The more frequencies they can use and the lower the noise, the higher the speed they’ll be able to communicate at.
If a connection ever failed due to connection quality, it would generally fail during this initial handshake process. And if you were listening, you could usually tell why (e.g. you got an answering machine on the other end instead of a modem).
As such, modems were usually configured to play this handshake sequence out loud. This was configured by sending AT M1 to the modem during setup. Alternately, AT M2 means to leave the speaker on all the time, while AT M0 means don’t turn the speaker on at all. See the AT command set for more information.
The actual transmission noise that you would hear if you picked up the phone during an active session (as opposed to during this handshake procedure) just sounds like static.
Oh the magic of AT M0; discovering that command was like being given an invisibility cloak-stealthy late night browsing for everyone. While Tylerl notes that high-baud traffic sound just like static, contributor Supercat notes that very low-baud modems were a different story:
At 300 baud, it’s possible to audibly hear incoming data. On occasions, I’ve turned on the modem speaker if I wanted to hear when characters arrived on a generally-idle line. Higher baud rates use a “data-scrambler” circuit so that most patterns of data are no longer audibly distinguishable.
Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Difference Between .com, .net, .org and Why We’re About To See Many More Top-Level Domains


image

.com, .net, .org and other website suffixes are known as “top-level domains” (TLDs). While we normally see only a few of these, there are hundreds of them – and there may be thousands more soon.
Top-level domains are managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is run by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Generic Top-Level Domains

Perhaps the most common top-level domains are .com, .net, and .org. Originally, each had a unique purpose:
  • .com: Commercial (for-profit) websites
  • .net: Network-related domains
  • .org: Non-profit organizations
However, these top-level domains all offer open registration – anyone can register a .com, .net, or .org domain for a website (for a fee). The distinction between the domains has largely been lost, although there are still non-profit organizations that prefer .org.
There are a variety of other domains that were added later to take some off the stress off of the original generic top-level domains (gTLDs), including .biz and .info. However, fewer websites use these top-level domains – there’s more brand recognition associated with a .com domain. Currently, .com is by far the most popular top-level domain – nearly 50 percent of the websites Google visits use the .com top-level domain. (Source)

Open vs. Closed TLDs

In contrast to the above top-level domains, which are “open” in that they allow anyone to register a domain without meeting any qualifications, many TLDs are “closed.” For example, if you want to register a .museum, .aero, or .travel domain, you must verify that you’re a legitimate museum, air-travel, or tourism-related entity.

Country-Specific Top-Level Domains

There are hundreds of country-specific top-level domains. For example, the .uk domain is for the United Kingdom, the .ca domain is for Canada, and the .fr domain is for France.
Some of these country-specific domains are closed and only allow citizens and businesses in the country to register, while some allow open registration for everyone to register.
For example, the popular .ly domain, notably used by bit.ly and other URL-shortening services, is actually the country-specific domain for Libya. It allows largely open registration, although there are some restrictions around the type of content a website with a .ly TLD can contain.
Uniquely, the USA has some country-specific domains that aren’t country codes:
  • .edu: Educational institutions in the US
  • .gov: US government entities
  • .mil: US military use

Future Top-Level Domains

In 2012, ICANN allowed corporations to apply for new generic top-level domains. The list of applications is long – For example, Google applied for domains such as .google, .lol, .youtube, and .docs. Many companies applied for domains matching their company name, such as .mcdonalds and .apple. A variety of companies also made a land grab for generic domain names such as .pizza, .security, .download, and .beer.
None of these new domains has come online yet, but it seems like we’ll be seeing a lot more top-level domains soon.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How To Log Into Multiple Accounts On the Same Website At Once


image

If you ever want to sign into two different accounts on the same website at once – say, to have multiple Gmail inboxes open next to each other – you can’t just open a new tab or browser window.
Websites store your login state in browser-specific cookies. There are a number of ways you can get another browser window with its own cookies and stay logged into multiple accounts at once.

Use Another Browser

Each browser stores its own cookies, so the most obvious way to log into multiple websites at the same time is by using multiple different browsers. For example, if you’re using Google Chrome, open a Firefox window. If you’re using Firefox, open an Internet Explorer window. You’ll be able to log into a website with a different username and password and stay logged into both accounts at the same time.

Enable Private Browsing or Incognito Mode

If you don’t want to use a different browser, you can use your browser’s built-in incognito or private-browsing mode. In private-browsing mode, your browser doesn’t use its existing cookies. It uses a fresh slate of cookie which are deleted when you exit private-browsing mode or close the private-browsing window.
To enter private-browsing mode in Google Chrome, click the menu button and select New Incognito Window.
In Firefox, click the Firefox button and select Start Private Browsing.
In Internet Explorer, click the gear menu icon, point to Safety, and select InPrivate Browsing.
Chrome and Internet Explorer will give you a new private-browsing window, allowing you to keep both windows open at the same time. Firefox will replace your existing session with the private-browsing window and restore it when you exit private-browsing mode. Your cookies and login state will be cleared when you close the private-browsing window.

Create Other Browser Profiles

You can use also use separate browser profiles with the same web browser. Each profile will have its own cookies, allowing you to log into a different account in each browser profile.
To create a new profile in Google Chrome, click your name at the top-right corner of the new tab page and select New User. You can then use this menu to open browser windows with different profiles.
In Firefox, you’ll need to use the Profile Manager, which is hidden by default. Follow these instructions to access the profile manager and log into multiple profiles at once.
In Internet Explorer, you can do something similar by pressing the Alt key, clicking the File menu that appears, and selecting New Session. This opens a new Internet Explorer window that functions as a different session with a separate set of cookies.

Google Multiple Account Sign-In

Websites can provide their own ways to log into multiple accounts at once, but few do. One website that does allow you to easily log into multiple accounts is Google. With the multiple account sign-in feature, you can log into multiple Google accounts at once and switch between them by clicking your account name at the top-right corner of any Google page.
Click your account name after logging into Google and select Add Account to add an account and get started. Once an account is added, you can click it in the menu to switch between accounts without entering a password.

Unless you used private-browsing mode or a new session in Internet Explorer, your cookies will be saved when you close the browser window. You can leave a browser or profile signed in to stay signed into all your accounts, opening the appropriate browser window when you want to use that specific account.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript





Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
English | ISBN: 073567261X | 2012 | PDF | 537 pages | 12,4 mb

Apply your existing skills with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript—and start building your own Windows 8 apps now. As a member of the Windows Ecosystem team, the author has trained hundreds of Microsoft engineers and has been on the front lines of bringing the first Windows 8 apps to the Windows Store. Through this book, you'll get a thorough grounding in platform features and considerations, and delve into development essentials. "Quickstart" sections provide ready experience with the tools, API, and core features. And you'll gain insights and best practices on design, coding, and performance from real-world developers working on real-world apps.


Topics includes:

Platform Characteristics

App Anatomy and Page Navigation

Controls, Control Styling, and Basic Data Binding

Collections and Collection Controls

Layout

Windows 8 Style Commanding UI

State, Settings, Files, and Documents

Input and Sensors

Media

Purposeful Animations

Contracts

Tiles, Notifications, the Lock Screen, and Background Tasks

Networking

Devices and Printing

Extensions

Localization, Accessibility, and the Windows Store

Download Links:


Windows 8 Step by Step






Windows 8 Step by Step
Windows 8 Step by Step
M-cr-soft Pr-ss (September 2012) | ISBN: 0735664021 | PDF + EPUB | 784 pages | 97.1 MB


The smart way to learn Windows® 8—one step at a time!

Experience learning made easy—and quickly teach yourself how to use Windows 8. With Step by Step, you set the pace—building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them!


Set up a home network, browse the web, and use your email
Use multi-touch gestures on your touchscreen devices
Manage your files with Microsoft® SkyDrive®
Play music and movies, and share your photos and videos
Download apps and games from the Windows Store
Help secure your computer and prevent common problems

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introducing Windows 8
Chapter 2. Making Windows Look and Sound the Way You Want
Chapter 3. Using Apps on the Start Screen
Chapter 4. Saving, Browsing, and Organizing Files and Folders
Chapter 5. Using Internet Explorer 10
Chapter 6. Using SkyDrive
Chapter 7. Using the Social Apps
Chapter 8. Shopping in the Windows Store
Chapter 9. Having Fun with Multimedia
Chapter 10. Playing Games
Chapter 11. Connecting to a Network and the Internet
Chapter 12. Allowing Others to Use the Computer
Chapter 13. Sharing Files and Folders with My Network
Chapter 14. Keeping Windows 8 Safe and Secure
Chapter 15. Preventing Problems
Chapter 16. Supervising a Child’s Computer Use
Chapter 17. Making My Computer Accessible
Chapter 18. Using Windows 8 at Work
Chapter 19. Using Windows 8 on Touch-Compatible Devices
Chapter 20. 20 Tips for Improving Your Windows 8 Computing Experience
Chapter 21. Troubleshooting Problems

Appendix A. Using Keyboard Shortcuts and Touch Gestures in Windows 8
Appendix B. Enhancements for Using Multiple Displays in Windows 8
Appendix C. Installing and Upgrading to Windows 8
Appendix D. Moving Your Data and Settings to Windows 8

How To Troubleshoot Internet Connection Problems


hand-plugging-in-ethernet-cable

Internet connection problems can be frustrating. Rather than mashing F5 and desperately trying to reload your favorite website when you experience a problem, here are some ways you can troubleshoot the problem and identify the cause.
Ensure you check the physical connections before getting too involved with troubleshooting. Someone could have accidentally kicked the router or modem’s power cable or pulled an Ethernet cable out of a socket, causing the problem.
Image Credit: photosteve101 on Flickr

Ping

One of the first things to try when your connection doesn’t seem to be working properly is the ping command. Open a Command Prompt window from your Start menu and run a command like ping google.com or ping howtogeek.com.
This command sends several packets to the address you specify. The web server responds to each packet it receives. In the command below, we can see that everything is working fine – there’s 0% packet loss and the time each packet takes is fairly low.
If you see packet loss (in other words, if the web server didn’t respond to one or more of the packets you sent), this can indicate a network problem. If the web server sometimes takes a much longer amount of time to respond to some of your other packets, this can also indicate a network problem. This problem can be with the website itself (unlikely if the same problem occurs on multiple websites), with your Internet service provider, or on your network (for example, a problem with your router).
Note that some websites never respond to pings. For example, ping microsoft.com will never results in any responses.

Problems With a Specific Website

If you’re experiencing issues accessing websites and ping seems to be working properly, it’s possible that one (or more) websites are experiencing problems on their end.
To check whether a website is working properly, you can use Down For Everyone Or Just For Me, a tool that tries to connect to websites and determine if they’re actually down or not. If this tool says the website is down for everyone, the problem is on the website’s end.
If this tool says the website is down for just you, that could indicate a number of things. It’s possible that there’s a problem between your computer and the path it takes to get to that website’s servers on the network. You can use the traceroute command (for example,tracert google.com) to trace the route packets take to get to the website’s address and see if there are any problems along the way. However, if there are problems, you can’t do much more than wait for them to be fixed.

Modem & Router Issues

If you are experiencing problems with a variety of websites, they may be caused by your modem or router. The modem is the device that communicates with your Internet service provider, while the router shares the connection among all the computers and other networked devices in your household. In some cases, the modem and router may be the same device.
Take a look at the router. If green lights are flashing on it, that’s normal and indicates network traffic. If you see a steady, blinking orange light, that generally indicates the problem. The same applies for the modem – a blinking orange light usually indicates a problem.
If the lights indicate that either devices are experiencing a problem, try unplugging them and plugging them back in. This is just like restarting your computer. You may also want to try this even if the lights are blinking normally – we’ve experienced flaky routers that occasionally needed to be reset, just like Windows computers. Bear in mind that it may take your modem a few minutes to reconnect to your Internet service provider.
If you still experience problems, you may need to perform a factory reset on your router or upgrade its firmware. To test whether the problem is really with your router or not, you can plug your computer’s Ethernet cable directly into your modem. If the connection now works properly, it’s clear that the router is causing you problems.

Issues With One Computer

If you’re only experiencing network problems on one computer on your network, it’s likely that there’s a software problem with the computer. The problem could be caused by a virus or some sort of malware or an issue with a specific browser.
Do an antivirus scan on the computer and try installing a different browser and accessing that website in the other browser. There are lots of other software problems that could be the cause, including a misconfigured firewall.

DNS Server Problems

When you try to access Google.com, your computer contacts its DNS server and asks for Google.com’s IP address. The default DNS servers your network uses are provided by your Internet service provider, and they may sometimes experience problems.
You can try accessing a website at its IP address directly, which bypasses the DNS server. For example, plug this address into your web browser’s address bar to visit Google directly:
If the IP address method works but you still can’t access google.com, it’s a problem with your DNS servers. Rather than wait for your Internet service provider to fix the problem, you can try using a third-party DNS server like OpenDNS or Google Public DNS.

Ultimately, most connection problems you’ll run into are probably someone else’s problem – you can’t necessarily solve them yourself. Often, the only thing you can do is wait for your Internet service provider or a specific website to fix the problem you’re experiencing. (However, restarting a flaky router can solve lots of problems.)
If you are experiencing problems, you can always try calling your Internet service provider on the phone – you’re paying them for this service, after all. They will also be able to tell you whether it’s a problem that other users are also having — or whether it’s a problem on your end.

A Beginner's Guide To Digital Music Setup And Playing



digital music
If you're a music lover with boxes and shelves of music CDs, or if you have managed to burn or download digital music to your Mac or PC, this beginner's guide to digital music setup and playing is written specifically for you. As a jazz enthusiast, I copied my entire CD collection to iTunes when it was released in 2001, and I haven't looked back since. Digital music rekindled my interests in jazz and rap, and it has made it possible for me to get more out of the music experience.
While this guide is no way comprehensive, it should be useful to music lovers who haven't had the time to learn about the different music related websites, software and other resources that can be used without spending too much money. In fact, if you a good computer, internet connection, and a nice sized CD or MP3 download collection, you're ready to get started.
Going digital depends largely on three things: how (1) much time you listen to music, (2) where you mostly listen to music, and (3) what types of music you listen to.

 Building a Library

The first step to going digital is to get albums and tracks into your computer. If you're running a Mac, you will probably want to use iTunes (Here's how to get setup.), and if on a PC, you would probably want to use  Windows Media Player. I'm an iTunes user, but much of my suggestions can be used on Windows Media Player as well.
digital music
To build your digital music library, import your CDs into your music player. If you have a large collection (say a 1000 or more CDs), you probably should house your library on an external drive, because you will need space to grow the collection.
I've never bothered with searching for "illegal" downloads of music, but this article presents several sites for free legal downloads. You might also try hitting up your local libraries to help build your collection, where you can borrow and import CDs to your digital library.

Access Streaming Music

Before you go and start buying digital songs and albums, I suggest you join a music streaming site, especially if you have good Internet access. Subscribing to a site like SpotifyRdioPandora, or MOG, enables you to listen to entire albums of songs for free (with commercial ads) or as little as $5.00 a month.
guide to digital music
You can never own songs streamed from these sites, but you get access to a huge music catalog with no limits to how many times you play the songs and albums. This means you also ultimately only purchase songs you want to keep on your computer or mobile device. These sites are also social networks, where you can follow other music listeners, who essentially become your personal DJs for new and heavy rotation music. Actually, if you rather not bother with buying, downloading, managing, and backing up music files, streaming music sites are your best bet.Read here for the pros and cons of streaming vs downloading MP3s.
If you want to have access to your music library from any Internet source, Google Play allows you to copy up 20,000 songs from your existing music library to your Google account, and then stream your music via Wi-Fi, or from a mobile app for Google Play.
guide to digital music

Where to Purchase Music

There are plethora of sites to purchase and download music. The two biggest are the iTunes Music Store and Amazon MP3. What makes these two stores practical is that digital music content can be downloaded directly into your respective music players, including mobile players (iPhone, iPad, Android.) But both of these sites have account restrictions that I discuss below.

iTunes Music Store

In the iTunes player, you simply click on iTunes Store to access its vast library. You can browse the top songs, or click on All Categories and select a genre you prefer. Each category of music in the iTunes Store provides you a wealth of recommendations, from new releases to "best of" tracks and albums. Categories are also broken down into musical periods, styles, and top downloads.
guide to digital music
Note also that you can save selected songs and albums to your Wish List (in both the iTunes Store and Amazon MP3) and thus budget your money for musical downloads.
With iTunes, all your musical purchases are instantly backed up to your account, and thus can be re-downloaded if need be. Downloads are DMR-free, meaning you own the songs you purchase. But with iTunes there's a caveat: your purchased songs can only be played on up to 5 selected and authorized computers. Those authorizations must be based on your iTunes account. This is one reservation that keeps me from shopping at iTunes. (Note: be sure to purchase all your songs under one Apple/iTunes account address. If you purchase under different accounts, you may run into problems playing purchased songs later when you switch to a new computer.)

Amazon MP3

The browsing features for music in the Amazon Store are a little more time consuming to navigate than the iTunes Store, but Amazon's MP3 and CD stores do break down selections into a wide range of musical genres and sub-categories.
digital music guide
Categories also exist for new releases, best sellers, and bargains-the latter of which there a lot more than what you find in the iTunes Store. All Amazon MP3 purchases can be downloaded through Amazon's Downloader which imports music content into your iTunes or Windows Media Player. Your purchase content can also be played in the Amazon Cloud Player, which is optimized for the iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. You can also play songs via a web browser.
Like iTunes, MP3s are also DMR-free, but you can only play purchased songs on up to 10 authorized computers. So if you plan on burning songs on CDs as gifts, this can be a drawback for Amazon as well.

Emusic.com

I prefer purchasing songs on Emusic.com and Rdio.com because they are no computer authorization limitations. The songs you buy, you own them completely. With Emusic.com you pay a monthly subscription, ranging from $6.49 to $79.99 per month. There are also quarterly and yearly options.
digital music guide
Emusic songs and albums are on average are cheaper (especially for older tracks) than iTunes and Amazon, and the monthly subscription can help you keep within a spending budget. I keep my eMusic "Saved for Later" collection updated so that each month I review the list for possible subscription downloads.
As you will readily see, digital songs are much cheaper than CDs and you can purchase individual songs instead of entire albums, though some songs are only sold as part of entire album purchase.

Manage Your Library Collection

To get the most our of your digital music experience, keep your music library organized within music genres, and categories, timelines, and playlists. Smart playlists in iTunes and Auto Playlists in Windows Player are the best and most efficient ways to organize and get the most our of your music collection. Windows Player will automatically create playlists when you import an album. Also, typically, iTunes and Windows Player will add all the metadata (song titles, artists, dates, and release dates) automatically to your imported CDs and downloads.
digital music guide
These type of playlists are based on the rules you set for them. For example, you will want to set up a smart playlist to display all your recently imported songs. Another list can update all your five star favorites; and still another list can update the songs you listen to most or least. The more you listen to and rate songs in your library, the more fun you can have with creating smart collections.
Smart playlist
Personally, I like to keep my iTunes library open on a second monitor with content displayed in album, grid view, and make selections from there. Other times, I allow iTunes DJ and iTunes Genius to select songs for me. Invariably, iTunes DJ will deliver songs I hadn't played in a while and really like.
Create another smart playlist of songs you have yet to play more than once. This is good way to make sure you're not buying more music than you're actually listing to.
Smart playlist
Finally, I think it's wise to copy as much of your favorite music to a portable MP3 player. I still keep and maintain my entire library on a 5th Generation iPod Classic (I explain why here), which I use in my car. It's also extremely important to have backup system, such as Time Machine for Mac) for your music library-preferably one that automatically performs the task for you.
Ipodvsiphone

Music Apps

There are a plethora of mobile music apps for iOS and Android devices-too many to list here. But a few good ones include Shazam or SoundHound-both useful for identifying music you hear on the radio and keeping up with your favorite artists.
digital music
Look for apps that are specific to the music genres you like. For example I keep Jazz Radio and Jazz.FM91 on my iPhone for when I want to hear cuts not in my music library. RdioSpotify, and MOG also have mobile apps, but it will cost you extra to listen to entire songs and albums on them. If you're an iPhone user, here are four other music appsyou apps you might consider.
I hope this basic guide is useful, but let me know the questions you have about getting started. If you're an experienced digital music listener, please share you own ideas and resources.