Mattia Campagnano

Mattia Campagnano

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sandboxie - free the explorer in you

We IT guys are a little bit like little children who need to take their toys apart to understand how they work.

We need to test software, mess with it, play it around and then move to another program and do the same, again and again.

Learning by doing is the only way to us.

But the same concept applies to everybody.

How many times have you installed a program and afterwards you found out it doesn't do what it promised or, yet worse, it's nothing but malware?

Sadly installing and uninstalling numerous programs is bad for any computer, regardless of the operating system, but it's particularly inadvisable for a Windows PC, because of the messy way Windows handles files (for more details about this topic, view my previous post How to maintain and speed up your computer - an out of the box guide (computer surge blues), part 2).

What if I told you that there's a way to test programs and applications in a secure area without actually installing them to your physical system?

Today I want to talk you about a handy program called Sandboxie that allows you to play with programs the same way you did with your toys.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5 quick hacks to get the most from your Gmail

  1. Find all emails prior to a certain date: You need to find an email you've received some time ago but you don't remember the sender's name, nor the object (and sadly you don't use labels), but only that you've gotten it within a certain time of the year. Or you want to delete all emails received before a certain time frame because you don't need them anymore. What to do? Gmail offers a quick hack to solve this problem. You only have to enter this command in the search box: before yyyy/mm/dd to find all emails received before the date you have specified. In the figure below I've looked for all emails prior to 4/1/2014 (expressed in the format 2014/04/01).
    Click to enlarge
  2. Undo send: How many times have you clicked the Send button inadvertently or too hastily without being allowed to stop that darn email? Well, now you can. Gmail supplies some additional beta features called Labs, accessible by clicking the gear button and selecting Settings. Among these features there's Undo Send, which allows to stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the Send button. After sending a message, if this lab is activated, you'll be shown for some seconds an Undo button that you can use to abort the operation if you're not sure or realize you've made a mistake (see figures below).

  3. Faster loading time: If you're pressed by time and need to have a quick look at your Gmail, you can switch to the Basic Mode (HTML only), which allows a quicker loading time but won't support some more advanced features, because it doesn't load javascripts. You can do it by selecting Basic HTML while your email page is loading (see picture) or by adding "/?ui=html" to the URL of the page. 
    Click to enlarge
  4. Display unread message count in your Gmail browser tab: If you keep several browser tabs open at the same time (Yes, I'm guilty!), it can come in handy to see right away from your Gmail tab if you have a new message. You can do it by activating the Unread message icon feature from Labs (see figures below). This functionality doesn't work with Internet Explorer, but is supported by all the other major browsers.

  5. Use a custom theme: If you want to feel your Gmail a little more yours, you can customize your theme by using one of your pictures as background. This is possible by clicking the gear button and selecting Themes and then Custom Themes. Depending on the color scheme you want to adopt for your email and fonts, you can choose between Custom Dark or Custom Light (in the figures below, I've chosen Custom Dark). Afterwards, you can upload an image from your computer as background by choosing Select a background image (you can choose a featured image, an image from your PC, your Google+ profile, your Picasa albums, a URL, etc.) and you'll have a tailor-made Gmail reflecting your personality (see figures).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Solve 3 annoying Mac problems in minutes

  1. Microsoft Silverlight for Mac isn't recognized after an update: you want to view a video and the website prompts you to install the latest Silverlight version, but afterwards nothing happens. Your browser shows only an error message asking you to install the update, which you have already done. To solve this problem, you'll have to uninstall the older version of the plugin and remove all files related to Silverlight from your Mac (look for any entry related to Silverlight with Spotlight or third-party tools like FindAnyFile and delete them); the problem occurs because your browser keeps pointing to the older version of the Silverlight preference file and so it results, wrongly, that your plugin version is outdated. After removing the old files and installing the newer version, a new preference file will be created and you'll be allowed to watch the video smoothly.
    Raisport (Italian national TV sports website) uses exclusively Silverlight for its video contents

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blue Screen of Death errors - how to avert your PC's death toll

What it is 
A blue screen error, also known as Blue Screen Of Death or BSOD or stop error, is shown when a problem occurs with processes running in kernel mode and Windows has to stop the system to prevent damages. A BSOD can be caused by problems with devices, drivers or a corrupted Windows installation. For this reason it's important to write down the type of stop error displayed on top and the specific number of the error displayed at the bottom of the screen (see pictures below).

Troubleshooting BSOD errors
 To troubleshoot these errors you need to:

Monday, May 12, 2014

How to master Mac in 6 simple steps

  1. Forget about Windows: If you've always used Windows, you've gotten used to do things a certain way. Well, here's a good and bad news for you: most of what you've learned for Windows is no use with a Mac. It's a totally different operating system and has a different logic. But if you approach it with an open mind, that can be an opportunity to learn a new and sometimes better way of using a computer.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

6 Quick tips to protect your passwords

I know, there are a bunch of posts and articles about this subject, why should you read this?
What if I give you 1,131,000,866 reasons? According to Kaspersky Labs, this is the whopping number of malicious attacks to computer and mobile devices registered in the first quarter of 2014. It's just about as big as the number of inhabitants of China.
The number of cyber attacks in 2013 involving financial malware increased to 28.4 million – an increase of 27.6% more than 2012.
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