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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Visual Basic Tutorial ( Part 3 )

Lesson 3 Working with Controls

3.1 The Control Properties

Before writing an event procedure for the control to response to a user's input, you have to set certain properties for the control to determine its appearance and how it will work with the event procedure. You can set the properties of the controls in the properties window or at runtime.

Figure 3.1 on the right is a typical properties window for a form. You can rename the form caption to any name that you like best. In the properties window, the item appears at the top part is the object currently selected (in Figure 3.1, the object selected is Form1). At the bottom part, the items listed in the left column represent the names of various properties associated with the selected object while the items listed in the right column represent the states of the properties. Properties can be set by highlighting the items in the right column then change them by typing or selecting the options available. For example, in order to change the caption, just highlight Form1 under the name Caption and change it to other names. You may also try to alter the appearance of the form by setting it to 3D or flat. Other things you can do are to change its foreground and background color, change the font type and font size, enable or disable minimize and maximize buttons and etc.


You can also change the properties at runtime to give special effects such as change of color, shape, animation effect and so on. For example the following code will change the form color to red every time the form is loaded. VB uses hexadecimal system to represent the color. You can check the color codes in the properties windows which are showed up under ForeColor and BackColor .
_______________________________________

Private Sub Form_Load()
Form1.Show
Form1.BackColor = &H000000FF&
End Sub

_______________________________________

Another example is to change the control Shape to a particular shape at runtime by writing the following code. This code will change the shape to a circle at runtime. Later you will learn how to change the shapes randomly by using the RND function.

Private Sub Form_Load()
Shape1.Shape = 3
End Sub

I would like to stress that knowing how and when to set the objects' properties is very important as it can help you to write a good program or you may fail to write a good program. So, I advice you to spend a lot of time playing with the objects' properties.

I am not going into the details on how to set the properties. However, I would like to stress a few important points about setting up the properties.

* You should set the Caption Property of a control clearly so that a user knows what to do with that command. For example, in the calculator program, all the captions of the command buttons such as +, - , MC, MR are commonly found in an ordinary calculator, a user should have no problem in manipulating the buttons.
* A lot of programmers like to use a meaningful name for the Name Property may be because it is easier for them to write and read the event procedure and easier to debug or modify the programs later. However, it is not a must to do that as long as you label your objects clearly and use comments in the program whenever you feel necessary. T
* One more important property is whether the control is enabled or not.
* Finally, you must also considering making the control visible or invisible at runtime, or when should it become visible or invisible.

3.2 Handling some of the common controls

3.2.1 The Text Box

The text box is the standard control that is used to receive input from the user as well as to display the output. It can handle string (text) and numeric data but not images or pictures. String in a text box can be converted to a numeric data by using the function Val(text). The following example illustrates a simple program that processes the inputs from the user.



Example 3.1

In this program, two text boxes are inserted into the form together with a few labels. The two text boxes are used to accept inputs from the user and one of the labels will be used to display the sum of two numbers that are entered into the two text boxes. Besides, a command button is also programmed to calculate the sum of the two numbers using the plus operator. The program use creates a variable sum to accept the summation of values from text box 1 and text box 2.The procedure to calculate and to display the output on the label is shown below. The output is shown in Figure 3.1.
____________________________________________________

Private Sub Command1_Click()

‘To add the values in text box 1 and text box 2

Sum = Val(Text1.Text) + Val(Text2.Text)

‘To display the answer on label 1

Label1.Caption = Sum

End Sub

____________________________________________________

3.2.2 The Label

The label is a very useful control for Visual Basic, as it is not only used to provide instructions and guides to the users, it can also be used to display outputs. One of its most important properties is Caption. Using the syntax label.Caption, it can display text and numeric data . You can change its caption in the properties window and also at runtime. Please refer to Example 3.1 and Figure 3.1 for the usage of label.

3.2.3 The Command Button

The command button is a very important control as it is used to execute commands. It displays an illusion that the button is pressed when the user click on it. The most common event associated with the command button is the Click event, and the syntax for the procedure is
________________________________

Private Sub Command1_Click ()

Statements

End Sub
_________________________________

3.2.4 The Picture Box

The Picture Box is one of the controls that used to handle graphics. You can load a picture at design phase by clicking on the picture item in the properties window and select the picture from the selected folder. You can also load the picture at runtime using the LoadPicture method. For example, the statement will load the picture grape.gif into the picture box.

Picture1.Picture=LoadPicture ("C:\VB program\Images\grape.gif")

You will learn more about the picture box in future lessons. The image in the picture box is not resizable.



3.2.5 The Image Box

The Image Box is another control that handles images and pictures. It functions almost identically to the picture box. However, there is one major difference, the image in an Image Box is stretchable, which means it can be resized. This feature is not available in the Picture Box. Similar to the Picture Box, it can also use the LoadPicture method to load the picture. For example, the statement loads the picture grape.gif into the image box.

Image1.Picture=LoadPicture ("C:\VB program\Images\grape.gif")



3.2.6 The List Box

The function of the List Box is to present a list of items where the user can click and select the items from the list. In order to add items to the list, we can use the AddItem method. For example, if you wish to add a number of items to list box 1, you can key in the following statements

Example 3.2
____________________________

Private Sub Form_Load ( )

List1.AddItem “Lesson1”

List1.AddItem “Lesson2”

List1.AddItem “Lesson3”

List1.AddItem “Lesson4”

End Sub
_____________________________

The items in the list box can be identified by the ListIndex property, the value of the ListIndex for the first item is 0, the second item has a ListIndex 1, and the second item has a ListIndex 2 and so on

3.2.7 The Combo Box

The function of the Combo Box is also to present a list of items where the user can click and select the items from the list. However, the user needs to click on the small arrowhead on the right of the combo box to see the items which are presented in a drop-down list. In order to add items to the list, you can also use the AddItem method. For example, if you wish to add a number of items to Combo box 1, you can key in the following statements

Example 3.3
____________________________________

Private Sub Form_Load ( )

Combo1.AddItem “Item1”

Combo1.AddItem “Item2”

Combo1.AddItem “Item3”

Combo1.AddItem “Item4”

End Sub

_____________________________________


3.2.8 The Check Box

The Check Box control lets the user to select or unselect an option. When the Check Box is checked, its value is set to 1 and when it is unchecked, the value is set to 0. You can include the statements Check1.Value=1 to mark the Check Box and Check1.Value=0 unmark the Check Box, and use them to initiate certain actions. For example, the program will change the background color of the form to red when the check box is unchecked and it will change to blue when the check box is checked. You will learn about the conditional statement If….Then….Elesif in later lesson. VbRed and vbBlue are color constants and BackColor is the background color property of the form.

Example 3.4
_________________________________

Private Sub Check1_Click ()

If Check1.Value = 0 Then

Form1.BackColor = vbRed

ElseIf Check1.Value = 1 Then

Form1.BackColor = vbBlue

End If

End Sub
________________________________


3.2.9 The Option Box

The Option Box control also lets the user selects one of the choices. However, two or more Option Boxes must work together because as one of the Option Boxes is selected, the other Option Boxes will be unselected. In fact, only one Option Box can be selected at one time. When an option box is selected, its value is set to “True” and when it is unselected; its value is set to “False”. In the following example, the shape control is placed in the form together with six Option Boxes. When the user clicks on different option boxes, different shapes will appear. The values of the shape control are 0, 1, and 2,3,4,5 which will make it appear as a rectangle, a square, an oval shape, a rounded rectangle and a rounded square respectively.

Example 3.5
_________________________________

Private Sub Option1_Click ( )

Shape1.Shape = 0

End Sub

Private Sub Option2_Click()

Shape1.Shape = 1

End Sub

Private Sub Option3_Click()

Shape1.Shape = 2

End Sub

Private Sub Option4_Click()

Shape1.Shape = 3

End Sub

Private Sub Option5_Click()

Shape1.Shape = 4

End Sub

Private Sub Option6_Click()

Shape1.Shape = 5

End Sub
_______________________________

3.2.9 The Drive List Box

The Drive ListBox is used to display a list of drives available in your computer. When you place this control into the form and run the program, you will be able to select different drives from your computer.

3.2.10 The Directory List Box

The Directory List Box is used to display the list of directories or folders in a selected drive. When you place this control into the form and run the program, you will be able to select different directories from a selected drive in your computer.

3.2.11 The File List Box

The File List Box is used to display the list of files in a selected directory or folder. When you place this control into the form and run the program, you will be able to a list of files in a selected directory as shown in Figure 3.4

You can coordinate the Drive List Box, the Directory List Box and the File List Box to search for the files you want. The procedure will be discussed in later lessons.


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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Visual Basic Tutorial ( Part 4 )

Lesson 4 Writing the Codes

In lesson 2, you have learned how to enter the program code and run the sample VB programs but without much understanding about the logics of VB programming. Now, let’s get down learning a few basic rules about writing the VB program code.

Each control or object in VB can usually run many kinds of events or procedures; these events are listed in the dropdown list in the code window that is displayed when you double-click on an object and click on the procedures’ box(refer to Figure 2.3). Among the events are loading a form, clicking of a command button, pressing a key on the keyboard or dragging an object and etc. For each event, you need to write an event procedure so that an action or a series of actions can be performed.


To start writing an event procedure, you need to double-click an object. For example, if you want to write an event procedure when a user clicks a command button, you double-click on the command button and an event procedure will appear as shown in Figure 2.1. It takes the following format:
Private Sub Command1_Click

(Key in your program code here)
End Sub

You then need to key-in the procedure in the space between Private Sub Command1_Click............. End Sub. Sub actually stands for sub procedure that made up a part of all the procedures in a program. The program code is made up of a number of statements that set certain properties or trigger some actions. The syntax of Visual Basic’s program code is almost like the normal English language though not exactly the same, so it is very easy to learn.

The syntax to set the property of an object or to pass certain value to it is :

Object.Property
where Object and Property is separated by a period (or dot). For example, the statement Form1.Show means to show the form with the name Form1, Iabel1.Visible=true means label1 is set to be visible, Text1.text=”VB” is to assign the text VB to the text box with the name Text1, Text2.text=100 is to pass a value of 100 to the text box with the name text2, Timer1.Enabled=False is to disable the timer with the name Timer1 and so on. Let’s examine a few examples below:
Example 4.1

Private Sub Command1_click

Label1.Visible=false

Label2.Visible=True

Text1.Text=”You are correct!”

End sub
Example 4.2

Private Sub Command1_click

Label1.Caption=” Welcome”

Image1.visible=true

End sub


Example 4.3

Private Sub Command1_click

Pictuire1.Show=true

Timer1.Enabled=True

Lable1.Caption=”Start Counting

End sub

In example 4.1, clicking on the command button will make label1 become invisible and label2 become visible; and the text” You are correct” will appear in TextBox1. In example 4.2, clicking on the command button will make the caption label1 change to “Welcome” and Image1 will become visible. Example, clicking on the command button will make Picture1 show up, timer starts running and the caption of label1 change to “Start Counting”.

Syntaxes that do not involve setting of properties are also English-like, some of the commands are Print, If…Then….Else….End If, For…Next, Select Case…..End Select , End and Exit Sub. For example, Print “ Visual Basic” is to display the text Visual Basic on screen and End is to end the program. Other commands will be explained in details in the coming lessons.

Program codes that involve calculations is very easy to write, you need to write them almost liket what you do in mathematics. However, in order to write an event procedure that involves calculations, you need to know the basic arithmetic operators in VB as they are not exactly the same as the normal operators we use, except for + and - . For multiplication, we use *, for division we use /, for raising a number x to the power of n, we use x ^n and for square root, we use Sqr(x). More advanced mathematical functions such as Sin, Cos, Tan , Log and etc. There are also two important functions that are related to arithmetic operations, i.e. the functions Val and Str$ where Val is to convert text entered into a textbox to numerical value and Str$ is to display a numerical value in a textbox as a string (text). While the function Str$ is as important as VB can display a numeric values as string implicitly, failure to use Val will results in wrong calculation. Let’s examine example 4.4 and example 4.5.
Example 4.4

Private Sub Form_Activate()

Text3.text=text1.text+text2.text

End Sub

Example 4.5

Private Sub Form_Activate()

Text3.text=val(text1.text)+val(text2.text)

End Sub

When you run the program in example 4.4 and enter 12 in textbox1 and 3 in textbox2 will give you a result of 123, which is wrong. It is because VB treat the numbers as string and so it just joins up the two strings. On the other hand, running exampled 4.5 will give you the correct result, i.e., 15.

We shall now look at more examples in mathematics.

Now we shall attempt to write the codes for the cylinder program where the interface is shown in Figure 2.8. First of all, name the textbox as radius, hght, and volume. To get the values of the various textboxes, use Val(radius.text), Val(hght.Text) and assign them to the variables r and h. In addition, assign the value 22/7 to the variable pi. After that, write the equation v = pi * (r ^ 2) * h to compute the value of volume of cylinder and then assign it to the variable v. Finally, display the value in the volume textbox using the function Str$.

Private Sub OK_Click( )

r = Val(radius.Text)

h = Val(hght.Text)

pi = 22 / 7

v = pi * (r ^ 2) * h

volume.Text= Str$(v)

End Sub

When you run the program, you should be able to see the interface as shown in Figure 2.8. If you enter a value each in the radius box and the height box, then click OK; the value of the Volume will be displayed in the volume box.

I shall attempt to explain the above source program to newcomers in Visual Basic ( If you are a veteran, you can skip this part) . The program could be explained using pseudo codes as follows:

Procedure for clicking the OK button to calculate the volume of cylinder

get the value of r from the radius text box

get the value of h from the height text box

assign a constant value 22/7 to pi

calculate the volume using formula

output the results to the Volume text box

End of Procedure

Exercise 4



1. Write a program to compute an area of a triangle.

Write a program to calculate the circumference and area of a circle


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Visual Basic Tutorial ( Part 2 )

Lesson 2: Building a Visual Basic Application
2.1 Creating Your First Application

In this section (Visual Basic Tutorial), we are not going into the technical aspects of VB programming; just have a feel of it. Now, you can try out the examples below:

Example 2.1.1 is a simple program. First of all, you have to launch Microsoft Visual Basic. Normally, a default form Form1 will be available for you to start your new project. Now, double click on form1, the source code window for form1 as shown in figure 2.1 will appear. The top of the source code window consists of a list of objects and their associated events or procedures. In figure 2.1, the object displayed is Form and the associated procedure is Load.
When you click on the object box, the drop-down list will display a list of objects you have inserted into your form as shown in figure 2.2. Here, you can see a form, command button with the name Command1, a Label with the name Label1 and a PictureBox with the name Picture1. Similarly, when you click on the procedure box, a list of procedures associated with the object will be displayed as shown in figure 2.3. Some of the procedures associated with the object Form are Activate, Click, DblClick (which means Double-Click) , DragDrop, keyPress and etc. Each object has its own set of procedures. You can always select an object and write codes for any of its procedure in order to perform certain tasks.

You do not have to worry about the beginning and the end statements (i.e. Private Sub Form_Load.......End Sub.); Just key in the lines in between the above two statements exactly as are shown here. When you run the program, you will be surprise that nothing shown up .In order to display the output of the program, you have to add the Form1.show statement like in Example 2.1.1 or you can just use Form_Activate ( ) event procedure as shown in example 2.1.2. The command Print does not mean printing using a printer but it means displaying the output on the computer screen. Now, press F5 or click on the run button to run the program.

Example 2.1.1

Private Sub Form_Load ( )

Form1.show

Print “Welcome to Visual Basic tutorial

End Sub

You can also perform simple arithmetic calculations as shown in example 2.1.2. VB uses * to denote the multiplication operator and / to denote the division operator. The output is shown in figure 2.3, where the results are arranged vertically.
______________________________________
Example 2.1.2

Private Sub Form_Activate ( )

Print 20 + 10
Print 20 - 10
Print 20 * 10
Print 20 / 10

End Sub
______________________________________

Example 2.1.2 can also be written as

Private Sub Form_Activate ( )

Print 20 + 10, 20 – 10, 20 * 10, 20 / 10

End Sub

The numbers will be arranged in a horizontal line separated by spaces as shown in figure 2.6


Example 2.1.3 is an improved version of example 2.1.2 as it employs two variables x and y and assigned initial values of 20 and 10 to them respectively. When you need to change the values of x and y, just change the initial values rather than changing every individual value which is more time consuming.


Example 2.1.3

Private Sub Form_Activate ( )

x = 20
y = 10
Print x + y
Print x - y
Print x * y
Print x / y

End Sub



Besides, you can also use the + or the & operator to join two or more texts (string) together like in example 2.1.4 (a) and (b)



Text Box: Example 2.1.4(b) Private Sub Form_Activate() A = "Tom" B = “likes" C = “to" D = “eat" E = “burger" Print A & B & C & D & E End SubExample 2.1.4(a)

Private Sub Form_Activate( )

A = "Tom"
B = “likes"
C = “to"
D = “eat"
E = “burger"
Print A + B + C + D + E

End Sub


2.2 Steps in Building a Visual Basic Application



Generally, there are three basic steps in building a VB application. The steps are as follows:

Step 1 : Design the interface
Step 2 : Set Properties of the controls (Objects)
Step 3 : Write the events' procedures



Example 2.2.1

This program is a simple program that calculates the volume of a cylinder. Let design the interface:

First of all, go to the properties window and change the form caption to Volume of Cylinder, then drag and insert three labels into the form and change their captions to Base Radius, height and volume respectively. After that, insert three Text Boxes and clear its text contents so that you get three empty boxes. Named the text boxes as radius, hght (we cannot use height as it is the built-in control name of VB) and volume respectively. Lastly, insert a command button and change its caption to O.K and its name to OK. Now save the project as cylinder.vbp and the form as cylinder.vbp as well. We shall leave out the codes at the moment which you shall learn it in lesson3.

Example 2.2.2

Designing an attractive and user friendly interface should be the first step in constructing a VB program. To illustrate, let's look at the calculator program.

Now, follow the steps below to design the calculator interface.

* Resize the form until you get the size you are satisfied with.
* Go to the properties window and change the default caption to the caption you want, such as 32 Calculator.
* Change other properties of the form, such as background color, foreground color, border style. I recommend you set the following properties for Form1 for this calculator program:





BorderStyle


Fixed Single

MaxButton


False

minButton


True



These properties will ensure that the users cannot resize or maximize your calculator window, but able to minimize the window.

* Draw the Display Panel by clicking on the Label button and and place your mouse on the form. Start drawing by pressing down your mouse button and drag it along.
* Click on the panel and the corresponding properties window will appear. Clear the default label so that the caption is blank (because the display panel is supposed to show the number as we click on the number button). It is better to set the background color to a bright color while the foreground color should be something like black (for easy viewing). Change the name to display as I am going to use it later to write codes for the calculator.
* Now draw the command buttons that are necessary to operate a calculator. I suggest you follow exactly what is shown in the image above.

Now run the project by pressing F5. If you are satisfied with the appearance, go ahead to save the project. At the same time, you should also save the file that contains your form.

Here are other interesting Interfaces, such as a slot machine as shown in figure 2.1




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Visual Basic Tutorial ( Part 1 )

Lesson1 :Introduction
Source : Vbtutor.net
1.1 A brief description of Visual Basic

VISUAL BASIC is a high level programming language evolved from the earlier DOS version called BASIC. BASIC means Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It is a fairly easy programming language to learn. The codes look a bit like English Language. Different software companies produced different version of BASIC, such as Microsoft QBASIC, QUICKBASIC, GWBASIC ,IBM BASICA and so on.

VISUAL BASIC is a VISUAL and events driven Programming Language. These are the main divergence from the old BASIC. In BASIC, programming is done in a text-only environment and the program is executed sequentially. In VISUAL BASIC, programming is done in a graphical environment. Because users may click on a certain object randomly, so each object has to be programmed independently to be able to response to those actions (events). Therefore, a VISUAL BASIC Program is made up of many subprograms, each has its own program codes, and each can be executed independently and at the same time each can be linked together in one way or another.

1.2 The Visual Basic Environment

On start up, Visual Basic 6.0 will display the following dialog box as shown in figure 1.1.
You can choose to start a new project, open an existing project or select a list of recently opened programs. A project is a collection of files that make up your application. There are various types of applications we could create, however, we shall concentrate on creating Standard EXE programs (EXE means executable program). Now, click on the Standard EXE icon to go into the actual VB programming environment.

The Visual Basic Environment consists of the:

A Blank Form for you to design your application's interface.

The Project window which displays the files that are created in your application.

The Properties window which displays the properties of various controls and objects that are created in your applications.

It also includes a Toolbox that consists of all the controls essential for developing a VB Application. Controls are tools such as text box, command button, label, combo box, picture box, image box, timer and other objects that can be dragged and drawn on a form to perform certain tasks according to the events associated with them. Additional objects can be added by clicking on the project item on the menu and click on components on the drop-down list, then select those controls you need to use in your program


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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

How to Protect Your Computer from Spyware and Adware

By Jerry Honeycutt

As if spam, viruses, and worms aren't bad enough. Adware and spyware are here to sap the remaining life out of your productivity and privacy. Cookies are harmless in comparison!

Adware is software that displays advertisements on your computer. These are ads that inexplicably pop up on your display screen, even if you're not browsing the Internet. Some companies provide "free" software in exchange for advertising on your display. It's how they make their money.


Spyware is software that sends your personal information to a third party without your permission or knowledge. This can include information about Web sites you visit or something more sensitive like your user name and password. Unscrupulous companies often use this data to send you unsolicited targeted advertisements.

I've noticed more postings in the Microsoft Windows XP newsgroups about these threats. Many of the postings ask how they can tell if they have spyware on their systems and how to remove spyware if they find it. A small handful asks how to fix problems left over after removing spyware. I'm glad to see a lot of the advice offered from other enthusiasts and I'm going to share some of that advice with you in this month's column.


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Saturday, July 08, 2006

How to Find, Remove and Prevent Spyware, Internet Intruders, and Pop-Ups

Introduction

Internet Intruders are unwanted software that is installed while surfing the Internet, and that typically uses the Internet in the process of exploiting the user and the user's machine. Typically such software is installed without the user's full awareness of the consequences of such an install (although the user might have been given some notice of what would happen). Such software is typically difficult to manually detect, and difficult to remove. It usually compromises some combination of the user's privacy, the confidentiality of the user's information, or the user's productivity. Productivity is compromised when frequent ads popup, when bandwidth and storage space is consumed, when pages load more slowly, etc.
Spyware is one of the most typical Internet intruders. Spyware, is any product that employs a user's Internet connection in the background without their knowledge, and gathers/transmits info on the user or their behavior. Many spyware products will collect referrer info (information from your web browser which reveals what URL you linked from), your IP address (a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer), system information (such as time of visit, type of browser used, the operating system and platform, and CPU speed.) Spyware products sometimes wrap other commercial products, and are introduced to machines when those commercial products are installed.

Trojans, also known as RATS (remote access Trojans), is another type of Internet intruder. Like the horse of old, a trojan carries with it an unexpected surprise. Trojans do not replicate like a virus, but they do leave behind a program that can be contacted by another computer. From there, they can do just about anything. While it's possible a trojan can be used to take control of a computer, the most common trojans are dialer programs. Dialers are used without your knowledge to make international or premium calls (900-type numbers) from your PC. That's more than an annoyance; it can get expensive.

Trojans are most often hidden in games and other small software programs that unsuspecting users download then unknowingly execute on their PCs. Two common trojans are known as Back Orifice and SubSeven.

Adware is software that displays advertisements to computer users. Some of the most strict definitions of adware include applications that are sponsored for their free use. For example, Gator is one adware that collects users information in exchange for its free use.


Spyware's Symptoms

Spyware, trojans and adware contact other computers, and each of them is program of its own, therefore they use system resources such as CPU cycles, memory and an Internet connection.

Slower Computer Speed

There are several reasons your computer may be running slow, but if you use it on a regular basis, then you're familiar with their normal speed. Older computers tend to run slower. Some applications cause computers to run slower. Computers are machines, they do not have moods. A sudden change in how your computer is running could be a sign of spyware or adware.

E-Mail Symptoms

If you're getting a lot of bounced back mail and see evidence of e-mails being sent without your knowledge, then it's possible that trojan spamware has found its way onto your computer. Spamware is a trojan that can turn your computer into a spam launching pad and create headaches for unknowing computer users, especially if a virus is sent. Even if your computer is not being used to send spam, trojans can steal a copy of your e-mail address book and send it back to a spammer.

Abnormal Behaviors

Victims of some trojans report CD drives opening and shutting, or programs opening and closing. These are all signs a program may be up to no good in the background.

Offline Symptoms

Keyboard loggers can capture passwords and user names, so if the bank, brokerage or credit card accounts you access online appear to have been tampered with, your computer may be a place to start looking for clues. User names and passwords to e-mail and Web-based applications are also vulnerable.
If you have any reason to believe someone is interested in tracking what you do online, scan for spyware regularly.

Pop-Up Advertisements

If the following signs are present, it might be an indication that you are infected with Adware or spyware.

-- Ads pop-up on your desktop or over offline applications such as a word processor
-- Ads pop-up when you visited a Web site or open a new Web page.
-- Pop-ups appear after you visited hacker sites or pornographic sites.
-- The pop-up ads are targeting on terms you have searched recently .

Locating Internet Intruders on Your PC

To locate Internet intruders, your first stop should be the Add/Remove Programs section of your Windows Control Panel (Start Menu --> Settings --> Control Panel). You should also check the Windows Start-Up Folder (C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu) to see if any programs have been added.

Evidence of spyware infestations can also be found in your computer's registry. It is recommended that only experienced computer users change the registry, and there are registry editors available that help makes changes when they are needed. There are also registry monitors that keep track of which applications are accessing your computer's registry.

Removal of Internet Intruders

One of the first things you should do if you find a trojan or spyware on your computer is disconnect it from the Internet. It is probably not enough to just close a browser session; you should pull the phone line out of the wall or disconnect the modem so your computer is not connected to any network.

Spyware and Adware Scanning Software

The easiest way to find and remove spyware and adware is with scanning software. Anti-spyware software is not the same as anti-virus software, although some anti-virus packages will detect some known spyware programs. The good news is that some of the most functional anti-spyware and anti-adware software is free.

Anti-spyware software works in much the same way as anti-virus software. It scans your computer's hard drive and looks for files associated with known spyware and adware programs. After the scan, the software usually displays or quarantines potential problems and allows users to decide what should be removed. As mention earlier, definitions vary and your tolerance to certain advertising-related cookies may be high.

Like anti-virus software, anti-spyware software relies on databases of known rogue programs that must be updated. Regardless of which anti-spyware package you decide to use, make sure you understand how and when it updates so you are protected against the newest pests. Also check any type of spyware or adware removal programs with the spyware databases. A program called SpywareNuker claims to be a removal program, but has been reported to be spyware itself.

Some anti-spyware software may specialize in locating only keyloggers, for example, so read the features before you use it.

Other Removal Options

You can always check the Add/Remove Programs section of Windows to see if any adware or spyware is listed. Some of the quasi-legitimate adware programs may include uninstallers, but malicious pests do not.

There is a fairly complete list of adware programs, what they do, and how to manually remove them (if possible) at http://doxdesk.com/parasite/.

Blocking Pop-Up Ads

One way to avoid the potential danger lurking behind pop-up ads is to install software that blocks them. Many ISPs offer tools to stop pop-ups from appearing. The Mozilla browser does not allow pop-ups. The Google Toolbar also blocks pop-up ads.

There are numerous programs that block pop-ups. Before installing them, research the developer and the company to make sure they are legitimate. Also be sure to note how they effect your system. Some pop-up blockers may discourage new windows, such as instant messages being sent to you, from opening.

Click here for a list of pop-up blocking software:

http://www.webattack.com/Freeware/misctools/fwpopblock.shtml.

Windows Messenger Pop-Ups

One relatively new form of pop-up that has been annoying Internet users with potentially dangerous effects is spam being sent using the Windows Messaging feature in Windows XP. This is not the instant messaging software that is used by millions of computer users, but rather an administrative tool that is meant to be used by systems administrators to contact users.

While there are utilities that claim to stop such pop-ups, the Windows Messenger feature is relatively easy to disable. To disable the Windows Messenger in Windows XP:

In Windows XP --> Control Panel --> Administrative Tools. Double-click Services. Double-click

Messenger. In the Startup type list, choose Disabled. Click Stop, and then click OK.

Prevention of Internet Intruders

Safe E-Mailing

You probably know that opening spam or any e-mail from persons unknown or with an unexpected attachment is unwise. In addition to viruses, RATS and other programs can be present in e-mail attachments. Web sites advertised in unsolicited e-mail can try to plant dialers or other types of pests on your computer.

If you use Outlook or Outlook Express for your e-mail, there are some settings you can adjust to make your e-mail safe from spyware and viruses. The Preview Pane, which lets you view an e-mail while keeping your mailbox on the screen, has been a cause of concern among e-mail users, especially if you have scripting or ActiveX enabled. By automatically opening e-mails, there are reports of viruses spreading, such as the KAK-Worm. Malicious content like the KAK-Worm exploits security holes in the software, so enabling or disabling the Preview Pane is not the ultimate issue. Keeping up with patches and security fixes is a better long-term solution.

To disable the Preview Pane in Outlook, click on the View menu. For more information on securing Outlook and Outlook Express, read this: http://www.tames.net/security/oesettings.htm

Safe Surfing

Be careful what you download. Read all dialogue boxes carefully and close anything that looks suspicious. When closing dialogue boxes or pop-up advertisements, be sure to use the proper "X" to close the window. The Web is full of ads that feature mock "Xs" or "Close" or "OK" buttons within the ad. Clicking on them actually clicked on the ad itself. If you're not sure how to safely close a window that has opened in your browser, right click on the window in your Windows Taskbar (usually at the bottom of your display) and click on "Close."

Some ads that appear online attempt to pass themselves off as security alerts or messages from tech support (these are called FUIs, or Fake User Interface, ads). If you're using a computer within an organization, communicate with your tech support staff if you're unsure whether a message is legitimate, and familiarize yourself with how tech support communicates with the computer users in your organizations.
Source : Chinese School


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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reasons Why Microsoft?s MSN Dumped LookSmart and Zeal?s Search Results

On January 15, 2004, Microsoft?s MSN formally dropped LookSmart?s search results. Although many MSN search engine users have long been frustrated by poor search results, no specific reasons were given. Meanwhile, Microsoft is said to be developing its own search engine technologies. Below is a list possible reasons on why Miscrosoft?s MSN dumped LookSmart?s search results

1. LookSmart Offers Poor Search Results

Compared with Google and Yahoo, LookSmart indexes smaller number of pages on the Internet. While Googlebot and Yahoobot index pages automatically, LookSmart does not, and it relies on human editors to index pages.

While DMOZ also uses human editors to index pages, LookSmart still offers poorer quality of pages because of its Zeal directory's strict rules of including only non-commercial pages for free.

2. LookSmart was Involved with a Consumer Fraud Class-Action Lawsuit

The consumer fraud class-action lawsuit, brought on behalf of customers who had paid a one-time fee to be listed in the directory and were switched to a pay-per-click model, was settled in September 2003. Claims are expected to reach up to $250,000 with LookSmart's legal bills topping $600,000.

3. Zeal Directory does not Include High Quality Pages with any Commercial Content

As most of the pages on the Internet nowadayas are somewhat related to commercial purpose, it would be hard to find high quality non-profit pages on the Internet. Microsoft realizes that this strict standard would exclude most of commercial sites that also offer high quality information, and that some of these sites would not be willing to pay to be included by LookSmart. In turn, the quality of the pages included by Zeal Directory and LookSmart would not be comparable with those provided by Google or Yahoo.

4. LookSmart does not Serve Well its Purpose as a Directory

A directory is to present quality sites to search engine users. Google and Yahoo?s inclusion program allow webmasters to submit their commercial and non-commercial sites for free as an option, LookSmart does not. The only way to submit non-commercial sites for free is to become a Zealot at Zeal Directory. In order to do so, these webmasters have to pass a test. However, many commercial sites with high quality information from India, for example, cannot be included in LookSmart?s search results because they would not be able to afford fees required to be paid to get their sites included.

Meanwhile, LookSmart?s stock prices have dropped from their all time high of $80 per share in 2000 to as low as $1 per share now. According to Wikipedia.org, an Internet free encyclopedia, ?some of the founders and senior executives made tens of millions of dollars selling what most thought to be its overpriced stock even though the accumulated losses of the company approached one hundred and sixty million dollars. Some critics say it was wrong for them to profit from the sale of free shares while the company was producing massive losses.?.

Microsoft, a company with strategic vision, realized matters discussed above. With their own search engine technology in process, their alliance with LookSmart (Looks Smart?) finally ended.
By Zealot


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