Mattia Campagnano

Mattia Campagnano

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

LastPass, strong passwords for the web


In 2013, security breaches and incidents (Target breach being the most recent) have demonstrated that password protection is crucial. Each of us have several web accounts such as social media websites, E-mail accounts, bank accounts, and so on. As the number of passwords one is forced to remember exponentially increases, many people often pick weak passwords that are easy for a hacker to crack.

An effective way to solve this problem is to adopt a password manager. There are several solutions available on the market. I have personally tested LastPass, which in my opinion is one of the best. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

How to create a bootable clone of a MacOsX system using Disk Utility


MacOsX features a backup utility called Time Machine, performing automated backups according to the user’s preferences. 
Time Machine is very important to preserve your data but has two main downsides:
  1. Time Machine backups aren't bootable. This means that you have to restore them first to the hard drive, which can be a lengthy process, and sometimes you need your HD immediately operational. This can be a real deal breaker in a corporate environment.
  2. The software will only copy the items changed since the last backup and, if your external destination hard drive runs short of space, it will delete the older backups automatically. This way the backup utility will get rid of items that have already been deleted before, but it will not alert you to this, which means you may end up losing copies of files you need without knowing it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

iMac first steps for dummies - guide to MacOsX Mavericks (part 2)


One feature of MacOsX that can be confusing for those who are used to Windows, is that when closing your current application window, it does not close the program as it does in Windows. Rather, the program will remain active in the background.An open, active application in the Dock is marked by a white dot beneath the application icon.  To actually close an application, you can either right-click its icon and select Quit or close it from the Activity Monitor.


Monday, December 16, 2013

iMac first steps for dummies - guide to MacOsX Mavericks (part 1)


You made up your mind and bought that good-looking white and black computer with a bitten apple logo on it that you thought was so cool. You unpacked it, plugged the power chord in and now what? You don't know what to do. After years and years of Windows computers you don't know where to start from.

No fear. Don't feel overwhelmed. I've been through your same doubts when I bought my iMac in 2010 after utilizing Windows for most of my life. You'll have to change your habits and the way you've done things so far, but at the end of the day you'll likely find out it's worth it.


Friday, December 13, 2013

My top 6 Mac freeware tools for 2013 (Evernote, Google Music Manager, VLC, Dropbox, Google Drive, Onyx)

This year is about to end and so I've decided to list the freeware applications that have been most useful to me in 2013. Some of them have a Pro version, too, such as Evernote or Dropbox, but the free one was enough for my purposes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Parallels Desktop - A virtual machine for everyone

Parallels Desktop is one of the most reliable and best performing solutions to run another operating system on your Mac in a virtual machine. I tested the new version of this program (released as Build 9.0.23350), which brings remarkable improvements and supports the latest MacOsX 10.9 version, commonly known as Mavericks. After the setup procedure (a very straightforward wizard), you can create a new virtual machine. The first step is to click File /New /Virtual Machine.
Fig. 1 (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Malware incidents - What to do when your computer gets infected

Your computer suddenly starts acting weird. Unknown windows pop up. Programs that you don't remember you had installed alert you that your computer is infected and ask you to buy a full version to get rid of the detected viruses. Your system becomes unstable and unresponsive, you can't do anything, your system freezes and all you can do is push the button to shut it down....Sound familiar?

How many of you have gone through this? Well, just like human beings, computers can get sick as well, but before smashing it with a baseball bat, there are some preliminary steps to take.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Opera for Mac review - an underdog with a twist


Opera is one of the oldest Internet browsers around. It was born in 1994 as a research project at Telenor, the largest Norwegian telecommunications company and two years later this David started competing with Goliaths like Apple, Google and Microsoft. Not very surprisingly, its share market remains very low in comparison with the most used browsers (look here for more details).

Though it's not widely used, Opera is an interesting and innovative browser, offering a fast and pleasant surfing experience. Its mobile version has, in fact, become more popular in the last years. I've tested the Mac version of this browser.

Major features

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ClamXav Antivirus review


ClamXav is a free antivirus available for Mac. It's been developed starting from the well-known and appreciated Clam Av open-source antivirus engine, with the addition of a graphic interface. It's a very interesting and efficient antivirus for Mac, comparable to other freeware and commercial solutions developed by the major antivirus software companies in recent years, when Mac computers started becoming more popular.
Though most computers around are still Windows-based and most malicious software targets Windows system (more chances to strike home), as Mac computers have become more widely used, some specific malware for Mac has been detected.

Major features

Monday, November 25, 2013

The 5 most common dangers, mistakes and behaviors in IT

During the course of my career I've experienced several working environments and operating systems, but the only constant is human behavior. I’ve learned that what you can expect from a security system is dependent upon human factors. Sometimes this component can lead to disastrous results, compromising even the best security systems and most diligently implemented procedures. That's why I feel the need to list the most common dangers, mistakes and behaviors I have come across as an IT professional.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Linux Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander review - the star didn't show up, but the show must go on (part 2)

The road to XMir
In 2013 Canonical announced they were developing a new display server called Mir that would replace currently used Xorg as input and display server. Xorg was developed back in the days and after 20 years it ended up being outdated. Mir was developed to support hardware acceleration having in mind modern video implementations and different kind of hardware. So Mir will ensure touchscreen gestures, switchable graphics hardware and multitasking support. The decision by Canonical to build its own server from scratch has raised harsh arguments. In fact there was already an alternative project called Wayland to develop a new display server. Linux Community considered it as the best candidate and they thought Canonical’s proprietary solution could cause duplications and delay the achievement of a viable solution. Canonical, on the other hand, believed that Wayland didn't meet Ubuntu’s needs. I won’t go into this hot topic. If you’re interested in more details about it, I will forward you to this article.


Ubuntu Touch

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Linux Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander review - the star didn't show up, but the show must go on (part 1)


Ubuntu 13.10 was released on October 17, 2013. The immediate impression about this new distro is comparable to a show whose big expected guest star cancels at the eleventh hour. In fact, the most expected update should have been the release of Xmir but, because of faults with multiple monitor support, Xmir has been taken off and has been pushed back to the coming 14.04 version.

Note: For non-IT experts or non-Linux fanboys, Xmir is a computer display server for Linux being developed by Canonical Ltd. to replace the current X Window System for Ubuntu (Source: Wikipedia). I'll analyze in more detail the aftermath of its planned introduction for Linux systems with the coming second part of this post.

Major new features 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

How to emulate Windows 8.1 on a MacOsX Mavericks system with VirtualBox

I wrote my Windows 8.1 review using a virtual machine on my iMac, running MacOsX 10.9 Mavericks and using the Windows 8.1 official preview (no longer available online for download). To virtualize the new Windows operating system I've used two different programs: Parallels Desktop 9 and VirtualBox. My version of Parallels Desktop showed some issues accessing the iMac folders from the virtual machine and so I switched to VirtualBox. I've been very impressed by the latter one, it's easy to install but there are two downsides as compared with Parallels Desktop. In Parallels Desktop the folders on the host system (MacOsX in my case) are immediately accessible following the installation process (from My Computer or from Network), while VirtualBox requires the user to go through some additional settings and this process isn't intuitive. Another downside is VirtualBox requires to create a virtual partition on the hard disk and it's more demanding in terms of disk space. These drawbacks are anyway balanced by cost (VirtualBox is free, Parallels Desktop costs $79.99, or $49.99 if you upgrade from an older version) and performance (VirtualBox works much more smoothly, at least in my experience, and it's less resource-draining on the host system).

How to virtualize Windows 8.1 on MacOsX Mavericks using VirtualBox

Friday, November 15, 2013

Windows 8.1: improvement or step back? (part 3)


Smart Search
Windows 8.1 has improved and changed the interface for this functionality. Now, when you open Search from any position on your computer, the new pane shows as default option "Everywhere", but, by clicking the down arrow you can pick other search options (Settings, Files, Web images and Web videos).  A great improvement of Windows 8.1 is the integration of Bing and SkyDrive in the Search interface, allowing the user to search on the web, too.  The way Smart Search works can be customized by the user going to PC Settings/Search and Apps/Search. For more details I will refer you to this article.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Windows 8.1: improvement or step back? (part 2)

Booting to desktop mode 

Windows 8.1 users can now boot directly to the Desktop mode, bypassing the tiled start screen and opting for a more traditional flavor of Windows.

To do that, after opening Desktop Mode (clicking/tapping on the Desktop tile), right-click anywhere on the taskbar, select Properties, and click on "Navigation". In this tab, under the Start screen options, flag the box "Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in",  as shown in the picture below.

How to set up booting to desktop mode in Windows 8.1

The return of the Start button

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Windows 8.1: improvement or step back? (part 1)

A few days ago Microsoft released a preview of the new Windows 8.1 available for download.


The Metro interface with the new Start button

I have tested the new Microsoft operating system.

Windows 8 had disappointed users who were more accustomed to the older versions. Windows 8 made radical changes to the traditional Windows GUI (Grapic User Interface). They removed the Start button and the Start menu, and replaced it with a new interface called "Metro", based on tiles instead of the traditional windows. Those people who are more used to the new Windows phones, on the other hand, were already familiar with the new interface and touchscreen and have surely enjoyed having them on their desktops, too. This new interface requires a bit of training time, but it can be fully customized according to one's needs. You can delve into this subject reading PCWorld's review.

Personally, I've never been a big fan of the Metro interface, because its functionalities are ridicously  hard to handle without the touchscreen, nor did it make Windows more user-friendly.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

MacOsX Mavericks: free upgrade, no revolution (part 3)


Notifications


  
This new feature allows users to respond to messages and to reply or delete emails in the notification alert without being forced to open a new window or to stop their current activity.

Mavericks supplies an improved Do Not Disturb functionality, that turns alerts and banners off for one day.


 Dictation & Speech


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

MacOsX Mavericks: free upgrade, no revolution (part 2)




Most important changes
iCal now has a much more modern look (it no longer resembles a leather planner) and Gmail calendars can be handled more easily with this app than in the past.

The new iCal look












Safari uses much less memory and is faster than before. It's the fastest browser on this new MacOsX version and, even though I've always liked Firefox better, the internet browser from Apple has an undeniable advantage: it uses much less RAM memory than its rival.
Apple added social integration to its browser. After enabling your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts from OS X’s system-settings pane, there will be a new Shared Links section showing in both the Safari Sidebar and alongside your Top Sites in any new tab.This section provides a list of everything your connections are linking to.

MacOsX Mavericks: free upgrade, no revolution ( part 1)



A few days ago the new MacOsX upgrade, MacOsX 10.9 (aka Mavericks), was released and at first I had some qualms installing it.

I own a late-2010 iMac, originally running Snow Leopard, and that one would have been the third upgrade after Lion and Mountain Lion.

I was a little concerned about how the upgrade would affect its performance, because the operating system originally installed on it was a 32-bit one and the upgrade would imply a transition to a 64-bit OS for the second time in a row.

The first transition hadn't been very satisfying with Mountain Lion; my iMac was slowing down more and more and it was getting occasionally stuck without any evident reason.

So I've decided to go for it and here's a first nice surprise: it's totally free.

The setup wizard is definitely intuitive and the installation process lasts just about 35 minutes.



The new MacOsX Mavericks default desktop background


First impressions 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Welcome

Welcome! I decided to start a new challenge. I strongly believe that sharing our know-how is important and that's why I decided to start this blog.

WHO I AM
 
My name's Mattia Campagnano and I'm an Italian national who moved to the U.S.A. in 2012, currently engaged in the citizenship process.
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