Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

USB Amber Alert Child ID Kit

No parent likes to think about it, but in the unlikely event that your child is abducted, quick response makes all the difference. Do you have all the updated information? Recent photos? Screen names, MySpace account details, personal blogs, medical information? Not that I want to make you feel like a bad parent, most of us have a tattered child ID card in our wallet, but that can quickly be outdated and if you're blind, how would you immediately read it in a real emergency?

Recognizing this need, Global Security Alerts paired with Kingston Technology, a supplier of memory products, has developed the AMBER Alert Child ID Kit, which stores all the information on a USB device.

It's convenient to use and update, which is the key feature, and keeps your child's profile, photos and online identity information securely in one place.

Click this link to purchase the USB Amber Alert Child ID Kit for your family.

Fire Vox: A Screen Reading Extension for Firefox

Fire Vox is an open source, freely available talking browser extension for the Firefox web browser. Think of it as a screen reader that is designed especially for Firefox.

In addition to the basic features that are expected of screen readers, such as being able to identify headings, links, images, etc. and providing navigational assistance, Fire Vox provides support for MathML and CSS speech module properties. It also works on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

Fire Vox is designed to accommodate different users with different needs. For visually impaired users, all Fire Vox commands are keyboard activated. In addition, the keyboard commands can be easily reconfigured in the self-voicing Fire Vox Options menu to avoid conflicts with other accessibility software products or to suit personal preferences. For sighted users who need a screen reader, such as web developers interested in testing their webpages or educators who work with visually impaired students, Fire Vox's highlighting feature makes it easy to keep track of where it's reading from on a page. This highlighting feature is also useful for dyslexic users and partially sighted users.

Because Fire Vox works directly within the Firefox browser, it always provides users with a live view of the web page, rather than a frozen snapshot which is what many other screen readers provide. This means that Fire Vox has the ability to handle dynamic pages better.

Click this link to learn more about the Fire Vox extension for Firefox.

The Low Vision Gateway

This website is primarily a vast collection of links to low vision related information found on the Internet. The links are organized into relevant categories such as: Low Vision Rehabilitation, Eye Diseases and Conditions, Research and Libraries, Computer and Internet Access Technology, and many more.

They have an online bookstore which they operate in conjunction with, and they also have a Low Vision Specialist Directory. The Directory features doctors, clinics, and other professionals from the United States and around the world.

Click this link to visit The Low Vision Gateway:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Little Known Facts

I'd like to welcome you to Little Known Facts, a radio show that features stories of Americana. Navigation is found on the side menu and it is easy to use. The sections are:

  • Little Known Facts Fun: In this section, you will find fun facts, games, stories and much more. Did you know that it is illegal to have your shoe untied as you walk down the sidewalk in Minnesota? Or that in Pennsylvania, it's illegal to buy alcohol without your wife's written consent?
  • Read Today's Story: Couldn't catch today's story on the radio? Well, have no fear, you can read it here! If you see the same story everyday, make sure you refresh the page to get the new one.
  • LFK in Your Area: Find out what station in your area plays the Little Known Facts stories. With over 500 radio stations playing the stories, you should be able to find one near you!
  • Listen to Today's Story: Here you can download today's story in an .MP3 format so you can listen to it on your computer.

If you'd like to receive Little Known Facts in your email, make sure you sign up for your subscription (it's all free!) in the Be a Business Whiz section.

Click this link to visit

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pip Squeakers sound good to blind parents

Growing up isn't hard to do -- it's keeping the kids out of trouble that's hard on parents. Well, one company, Pip Squeakers LLC, has figured out a way to help blind parents keep track of their kids: they put squeaks in their shoes.
Pip Squeakers are kids shoes with built in squeakers. Every time your baby or toddler takes a step, the shoes sound off. These audible signals give blind parents a minimal-effort means of monitoring their kids' movements. Because they're fun for kids to wear, the company also suggests that Pip Squeakers will encourage pre-walkers to take notice of and begin to move their feet and legs, preparing them for their first wobbly giant leaps.
Pip Squeakers are made in China and distributed by a small, family-run business based in New Jersey. The shoes are available in sizes 3 to 6 and come in two styles: sneakers and sandals. Both styles are made with soft cotton uppers and use hook/loop material straps for easy closure. The company's web site offers guidance in selecting proper shoe sizes and secure online ordering.

Pip Squeakers, LLC
11 Myrtle Ave.
Lebanon, NJ 08833
Phone: 908-236-4104
Fax: 908-236-4104

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

iZoom2Go: a Free Screen Magnification Program

License agreements preventing you from using software YOU own? Tired of installing your favorite magnifier over and over on different machines just to use it for a few minutes? Need an administrator to grant you access before you can install anything?

iZoom2Go is a truly portable access solution available on a USB drive. You simply plug it in and it starts up. No installation, no administrative access, no license agreements, no hassles. It simply works.

iZoom2Go possesses all the features of iZoom Standard and it's not locked down to a specific machine! You can attach it to your keychain and take it with you anywhere you go. All your settings are saved on the USB drive so you don't have to reconfigure it on every machine. It'll work on any Windows 2000/XP/Vista machine. So the next time you get on a computer at your library, your school, a friend's place, you can relax knowing that their machine isn't affected and you can use it as freely as you would your own.


  • 8 Different zoom modes: Full screen, lens, line, split screen, docked. You name it, iZoom's got all the zooming modes to make your computing experience easier.
  • Font smoothing: iZoom smooths all black text with any color background.
  • Focus Tracking: iZoom will follow the focus of the active item on your screen. For example, when you click the close button in MS Word without saving iZoom will automatically move towards the Save dialog which pops up.
  • Caret Tracking: While typing, iZoom will keep the screen in view so that you don't type off the screen. MS Office applications are supported as well.
  • Speech: iZoom will read out events that occur in the system. For example, when you click an icon or highlight an item in a menu box, it'll be spoken to you.
  • Color enhancements: iZoom can flip the colors on your screen, change brightness, contrast, saturation, replace colors..the works!
  • Mouse options: iZoom has a bunch of mouse options so you can see where you're pointing to. It even has various types of locators to show you where the mouse is.
  • Portability: iZoom is the only screen magnifier which can work from a website and is also available on a portable USB drive. Walk upto any Windows XP/Vista computer and start it up.
 To order iZoom2Go, click this link to visit the Issist Inc Online Store.
Click this link to visit website to download iZoom for free.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How About a Lift?

Lift, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that qualifies, trains, hires, and places information technology professionals who have physical disabilities through contracts with major corporations who eventually hire them directly.

Lift combines specialized business experience in information technology with expertise at recruitment, assessment, and accommodation to give men and women who have disabilities a vocational lift.

Neither a traditional educational institution nor a job placement agency, Lift uniquely accomplishes the objectives of both. To its employees with disabilities, Lift offers opportunities for very rewarding careers. To its corporate clients, it provides a proven human resource development program for high performance professionals.

Lift has placed professionals in positions such as: programmer-analyst, systems-analyst, software engineer, business analyst, technical writer, technical specialist, network administrator, computer support specialist, data security specialist, database administrator, database manager, quality assurance specialist, CBT training developer, E-commerce specialist and website designer.

Click this link to give your employment opertunities a Lift by visiting href=

The Disability Blog

Rudy Sims has spent a decade blogging and over the past two years he's been putting together He was finding it difficult to find online resources for living with Cerebral Palsy and chronic pain. So he decided to provide a site for those looking for disability news or information about their own disabilities.

Rudy uses several search engines and more than 200 different news sources to find content to post on the site. Navigating it is like finding a treasure trove of news feeds all at once. Clear layout ensures you get right to where you want to be. Latest health items are on the main page. Then if you look at the links on the right, you'll find a huge spectrum of topics related to disability issues.

There are also links to separate blogs on specific conditions, all of which Rudy has created and updates himself. Each is like a specialist news feed in itself. "I love doing research and helping people. One of my biggest problems is I don't type very well due to my disability. "I have to get someone to type long responses, and that's why I don't write a lot on my blog. So the best way I can help others is to point them to helpful resources. "I have Cerebral Palsy and am dealing with chronic pain, but found it very difficult to find helpful information and resources. I wanted to provide a place where I could point people to information relevant to their disabilities."

"My website is what I do with my free time. It actually started ten years ago as a personal site I created when I was in high school. I then went to college for two years. My hope was to be a counselling psychologist, but due to chronic pain I had to drop out. "This is my full time job. As the site gets more popular I hope I can get people to add their own personal stories and experiences, which will hopefully help others. I am working on a personal blog to share my own experience and I hope to get my Mom to contribute her experience of raising three children with disabilities."

Click this link to visit

Article Source:
BBC Ouch!

Monday, July 23, 2007

WebAIM: Improving Internet Accessibility

WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) is committed to improving the Web for disabled people.

One service the site offers is a screen reader simulation which will give you an idea of how a blind person might use the Web. Other services include a distractibility simulation, which shows how a person with a cognitive disability might see the Web, and a low vision simulation.

WebAIM has provided comprehensive Web accessibility solutions since 1999. These years of experience have made WebAIM one of the leading providers of Web accessibility expertise internationally. WebAIM is a non-profit organization within the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. The mission is to expand the potential of the Web for people with disabilities by providing the knowledge, technical skills, tools, organizational leadership strategies, and vision that empower organizations to make their own content accessible to people with disabilities.

Click this link to visit

Convert PDF and MS-Word documents to Accessible Web Pages

RiverDocs Converter is a simple, user-friendly desktop application with a powerful analytical conversion engine capable of separating content from presentation and extracting the logical structure of source information. RiverDocs Converters (X)HTML output

  • complies with web accessibility (WCAG 1.0) standards
  • loads fast and needs no plug-in reader
  • can be read online as a single document
  • has a table of contents
  • can be previewed and edited on the Converter's WYSIWYG interface
  • can incorporate your own CSS stylesheet - or the Converter will generate one for you

Established in 2000, RiverDocs has research and development offices in both the UK and Ireland. RiverDocs also funds applied research at Queens University Belfast and is building relationships with other universities engaged in the fields of accessibility, artificial intelligence and character recognition. Working with AbilityNet, the UK's leading pan-disability technology charity, RiverDocs is committed to further extending the accessibility and usability performance of RiverDocs Converter.

To learn more, contact:
br> RiverDocs
Phone: + 353 1 453 4244
Fax: + 353 1 453 4211

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fix Repeated Spelling Errors in MS-Word

Recently, someone asked me about the MS-Office Spell Check feature. Specifically, the reader wanted to know if there was a way to fix a consistent mistake throughout a document, with just a single click.

Well, I'm happy to report that yes, assuming you misspelled the word the same way each time, you can fix them all at once.

Start the Spell Check feature. Normally you simply choose your correction and then click Change, but wait! Don't go quite so fast. If you have some vision, look just below the Change button. Screen reader users continue to tab past the change button. See it?

Yep, that's right. The next button says Change All. That's the one you're looking to use. By clicking the Change All button, the program will change all occurrences of that specific misspelling in the current document you're working on.

So, yes, one click can fix them all!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Accessible Information Technology Podcasts

Schools and universities have begun using podcasts to distribute educational content, but, in the rush to join the latest trend, have not always thought about the impact on their students with disabilities.

EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information) provides 3 separate Podcast feeds on the general topic of how to create and provide accessible Information technology:

  1. IT Tips and Tricks
  2. It's About People Not Technology
  3. Conference Presentations from Conferences on IT and People with Disabilities
You can read about these Podcasts and join any of these Podcast feeds at:

Printing Email from Yahoo!

Have you ever needed to print an email to share with someone? Maybe you wanted to print a receipt for an online purchase? If you use Yahoo! for email, there's a quick and easy way to print your messages.

First, sign in to your Yahoo! account and open up the email you would like to print. It could be an email in your Inbox, one you sent to someone else or even one in your junk folder. Either way, open it up and, if you can see the screen, look to the top right hand corner of that message. There you will see a link that says Printable View.

If you click on that link, a new window will open that compacts your email down into an easier to print version. In that window, go up to the top right hand corner again and click on the Print link. That will send the e-mail to your printer and you can just click OK to print it like you normally would. When you're done, click the Close Window link and you'll be all set. You'll have a perfectly printed email and you can use it for whatever you'd like. I'm thinking of how cool this is for people who have braille embossors with built-in grade 2 translation, Yahoo!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Email Notifiers for Google and Yahoo!

Sometimes its just too inconvenient to log in to your web-based email account to check whether there is any new mail. It is worse if you have multiple accounts. Generally, you can seek help from a notifier program. A notifier program can tell you at a glance if you have got new email by alerting you from your menu bar or taskbar.

There are many forms of Notifiers, from shareware to desktop widgets for Windows and Mac OS X systems. If you are using Gmail or have a Yahoo! email account, you can download a Notifier to keep track of new messages.

Click this link to download the free Yahoo! mail Checker
Click this link to download the free Gmail Notifier from Google.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Light Cars: Where Blind Drivers Zoom at Light Speed!

Light cars is an adictive remake of the tetris console's car racing game, but this version is for the blind. Choose your own car and start zooming and avoiding tons of cars coming from each direction trying to crash you! The game includes 2 game modes : tetris mode being the clasic racing game and arcade mode with all it's arcade consepts; avoid holes in the road, skid, grab items, get engine repairs, shoot cars, and much more! Features include :

  • 4 different types of cars to choose from (light car, lego car, electric car and electric jip) with each one having it's advantages and disadvantages.
  • play the game on 3 difficulty levels : easy, normal, and crazy
  • 2 game modes (themes) : tetris mode and arcade mode!.
  • shoot - the - birds bonus level.
  • the game has an unlimited number of levels : play the game untill your car goes bang! (can even get to level million) or can it?
  • the ability to remap the keys on your keyboard to your liking!
  • the ability to view your local top ten scores for each difficulty level as well as your high score.
  • compete with other gamers by sending your score to the Lighttech Interactive score charts!.
  • save and load your game!
  • view your complete game statistics as it gets written each game you play.
  • the ability to exit the game though (it's an option you'll rarelly remember to use when getting adicted to it - I warned you!)

You can download Light Cars by clicking this link to visit the Lighttech Interactive Light Games page.

Enemy Attack Audiogame for the Blind

Your mission in this game for the blind is a nearly hopeless endeavor: to destroy all the enemy's aircraft and bombs, but beware--it's not as easy as it sounds!

You will have to destroy 9 levels of enemies, with ten waves per level. The waves are not announced, but for each wave destroyed you are rewarded with the enemy coming at you a bit faster. You will be attacked with jets, planes, choppers, falling bombs and other surprises.

To attack the enemy, you press keys on the keyboard. Since the jets fly the highest, you use the top row of the keyboard--1 through dash. To shoot down the planes, use q through left bracket. To knock out the choppers, use a through apostrophe. To destroy the bombs, use z through slash.

So, if a jet comes screaming along from left to right, (and you catch it quick enough,) you can use 1 if it is on the extreme left, 2 if it is a little further on, and so forth. It is the same with the planes, choppers, and bombs. The sooner you hit your targets, the more points you gain.

The movement of the jets and planes is straightforward. They either move from left to right or from right to left. The choppers move back and forth, having no real direction except downward. Therefore they move quickly around in a random fashion to make them harder to hit. The bombs are on parachutes and are blown by the wind, so they also move back and forth as they descend. .

The points system is simple: the sooner you destroy an enemy, the more points you get. If a plane takes off and you shoot it immediately, you will earn more points than if you hit it when it is in the middle of the soundscreen. The same is true for other craft. Every time you miss a shot, though, you lose 1000 points, so be warned--if you want a good score, shoot to destroy.

The game ends when you run out of gunners to fight with, or, of course, in the unlikely event that you win.

Click this link to experience Enemy Attack!

In Defense of Eloquence

By Tasha Chemel

Up until relatively recently, whenever a new jaws update was about to be released, I would frantically read the "what's new" webpage with only one desired feature in mind. I wasn't interested in remote access or the newest scripts for Sound Forge or Cakewalk; all I ever wanted from screenreader developers was the edition of an alternative software synthesizer to replace crummy old Eloquence. Each time a new release was issued, with no comments on Eloquence to speak of, I would face my disappointment yet again. After spending hours and hours trying to make Jaws embrace the beauty of RealSpeak, I discovered that the coupling worked on principle, but JAWS's and Jennifer's union was fraught with strange pronunciations, misplaced emphases, and poor responsiveness.

As I grew older, my opinion of Eloquence began to soften. The more I read, the better I became at imbuing that once-hated voice with all of the emotions, idiosyncratic quirks and vocal qualities of a professional audiobook narrator. It was almost as if my ear was so accustomed to Eloquence's cadences that I was able to completely tune out the voice itself and impose my own patterns onto it, much like a sighted person reading silently is able to hear character's voices in her head. In fact, the results of the survey I conducted in April of this year gives preliminary support to this theory, since blind and sighted users had utilized very different cues when making emotion judgments about sentences generated by Eloquence. Needless to say, if you were unfortunate enough to take said survey, you no doubt recall that it was long and tedious; the analysis of the data it produced was even more so. But all of the countless hours I spent GENERATING PROSODIC TRANSCRIPTIONS FOR EACH UTTERANCE AND PAINSTAKINGLY CODING AND SCORING EACH RESPONSE ONLY DEEPENED MY COMMITMENT TO MY SILICATE COMPANION. To my mortification, it was a running joke in my co-ed fraternity that I had developed somewhat of a crush on JAWS. Even the RealSpeak Solo voices, which shipped with Jaws 8.0, were thrust aside in favor of good old Eloquence.

Not surprisingly, my affectionate feelings towards my favorite synthesizer prompted me to find new opportunities for us to spend time in each other's company. Wouldn't it be lovely, I thought one day, if I could listen to text or word documents on a portable player with Eloquence speech? That way, my dear friend could comfort me when the arduous demands of the treadmill proved to be too taxing, and could share in my enjoyment of a balmy day on the beach. My search, however, was fruitless. No portable device capable of playing text files and costing less than $1,000 uses Eloquence as a synthesizer. The Bookport, which I eventually bought out of desperation, uses Doubletalk, whose mumbled burblings are positively grating. My only option seemed to be creating MP3 files of my beloved's voice with a program like TextAloud and then transferring them to my portable player. Since this process takes about twenty minutes per book, and rapidly drains the Bookport's batteries, it is not the best solution for a college student known for her laziness, impatience and lack of forethought.

At the end of June, when I learned that Humanware had released the Victor Reader Stream, my excitement bloomed anew. Though the device did not use Eloquence, it promised high-quality speech developed by nuance, Eloquence's current owner. My happiness proved to be short-lived, however, when I heard a sample of the speech used on the stream. Which brings me to the purpose of this post.

I am well aware that one's feelings about a speech synthesizer are completely subjective, and differ widely from person to person. However, I nonetheless believe that Eloquence is still highly regarded among blind computer users for the simple reason that the leading screenreaders and scanning packages still continue to use it. Eloquence, for all its faults, is familiar. Unless there is some technical obstacle of which I am unaware, I think the companies who design portable bookreaders are simply underestimating the appeal of this familiarity. In my opinion, portable bookreaders would drastically increase in popularity if they used a speech synthesizer to which most of us are already accustomed. If we can't use JAWS while we're at the gym, we should at least be able to hear texts read to us in our screenereader's voice.

I am very curious to see whether other blind computer users share my opinion. If I get enough positive interest, I am planning to write a letter to HumanWare or APH. Anyone who wants to help me with this is more than welcome to contact me at, or to circulate this posting.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The PC Decrapifier

Advanced computer users (aka Geeks) know that when you buy a computer, it often comes loaded with bloatware, software that you don't need, is not accessible and just slows down your computer.

Unfortunately the reality is that the average person isn't aware of all of this unnecessary junk, nor are they aware how to get rid of it. That is where the aptly named PC Decrapifier comes in. It uninstalls many of the common trialware and other bloatware that come installed on your PC.

PC Decrapifier shows the list of items it detects and then lets you choose what will be removed automatically. And the software is donation ware, which means it's free for personal use.

Click this link to visit

Current Date and Time in MS-Word

Not too long ago, I got an email from a reader who needed to know the keyboard shortcuts for the current date and time in MS-Word.

Since these are always handy tidbits to know, I thought it would make a great entry into the database.

  • Alt+Shift+D will insert the current date into your document.
  • Alt+Shift+T will insert the current time into your document.

Unknown to most, the current date and time really are at your fingertips!

What is the Windows System Tray

The system tray is located at the very bottom of your desktop, in the taskbar (which is the long bar that runs across your desktop). If you look along the taskbar, you'll see some icons in the quick launch area, then you have some open space for any programs you might have open. On the very far right, you'll see where the system tray sits.

The system tray contains the clock icon, the volume icon and a variety of others, depending on what programs you have installed on your computer. Usually, your antivirus program icon will be there, it's where your printer icon shows up, your modem icon is there, the safely remove hardware icon sits there and so on. If you need to use any of the items in your system tray, all you have to do is double click with a mouse, or press enter on the icons if using a screen reader and the programs will open. Right clicking on these icons can often bring up several options as well.

If you use a screen reader, hold down the Windows or Start Menu key and press the letter m. This will take you to the desktop. Pressing tab will cycle you through the Desktop, Start Button, the Taskbar and the System Tray.

The Zoom-Ex Portable Scanner

ABISee, Inc., developer of products for low vision and blind computer users, has developed the Zoom-Ex Portable Scanner which makes it possible to turn any computer into an accessible scanner and reader for blind users.

The durable but lightweight design of the Zoom-Ex Portable Scanner consists of a 2 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch digital camera on a stand, with the stand also acting as a guide for lining up the book or document to be scanned. Because of this unique camera and stand design, the camera is always at the exact distance it needs to create a clear image and the blind user always knows exactly where to place the material to be scanned.

The Zoom-Ex Portable Scanner can operate in either manual or automatic mode. When in automatic mode, Zoomex senses when a page has been turned, leaving the user's hands free to easily turn the pages.

Because the Zoom-Ex scanner includes its own text-to-speech and OCR programs and runs off any Windows-based computer or laptop, you can use it almost anywhere that there is a computer on which to install the software: in the classroom or library, at conferences and on vacation.

Product features:

  • Intuitive design makes it easy to position books and documents for scanning since the unique L-shaped design of the stand provides a guide for aligning materials.
  • Easy to start and stop scanning or reading with a single key press.
  • Faster than traditional flatbed scanners - from start of scan to the time Zoomex begins reading takes only three to seven seconds.
  • Allows user to read by page, section, sentence, or word, in addition to being able to set a variety of voice preferences.
  • Recognizes and verbally identifies page formatting and design elements, including columns.
  • Lightweight weighs only one pound.
  • Fits in a standard backpack when folded: dimensions (folded) are 17 1/2 inches length 4 1/2 inches wide.
  • Runs off of USB - no additional power packs or batteries required.
For more information, click this link to go to the ABISee, Inc. Website: or call toll free: 800-681-5909.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Religious Podcasts Directory

Homebound or isolated believers need not be cut off from religious sustenance as long as they have broadband internet access. Search by keyword or browse through categories like Religious News, Religious Music, Native Religion Discussions, Bible Study, Sermons, several world religions, and several Christian denominations. Click this link to visit the Religious Podcasts Directory at

Thursday, July 12, 2007

EyeClops: the Microscope for your Television

Here's a handheld microscope that lets you see any item at 200 times the regular size on any TV screen. Dubbed EyeClops, this handheld bionic eye makes the common items look extraordinary on the screen.

All you need to do is to plug the EyeClops into a composite video input on any TV and move its eye to any object you want to see in gigantic size. Everything is right under your nose. Just think of your hairs appearing as twisted rope or the sugar to look like giant ice cubes. That will be real fun for kids. It needs no software installation or any sort of system requirements.

Click this link to learn more or to purchase the EyeClops from Toys "r" Us.

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a system that is designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. You can implement firewalls in your hardware, software or both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks that are connected to the Internet. With all that said, let's talk about some of the different types of firewalls available. Most firewalls use two or more of the following techniques:

  • Packet Filters: A packet filter looks at each packet that enters or leaves the network and accepts or rejects the packet based on user-defined rules. Packet filtering is fairly effective and transparent, but it is difficult to configure. In addition, it is susceptible to IP spoofing.
  • Application Gateway: An application gateway applies security mechanisms to specific programs, such as FTP and Telnet. This technique is very effective, but it can cause performance degradation.
  • Circuit-layer Gateway: This technique applies security mechanisms when a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or User Datagram Protocol (UDP) connection is established. After the connection has been established, packets can flow between the hosts without any further checking.
  • Proxy Server: A proxy server intercepts all messages that enter and leave the network. The proxy server effectively hides the true network addresses.
  • Application Proxies: Application proxies have access to the whole range of information in the network stack. This permits the proxies to make decisions based on basic authorization (the source, the destination and the protocol) and also to filter offensive or disallowed commands in the data stream. Application proxies are "stateful," meaning they keep the "state" of connections inherently. The Internet Connection Firewall feature that is included in Windows XP is a "stateful" firewall, as well as, the Windows Firewall. The Windows Firewall is included with Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

Now that you know some of the different types of firewalls and their configurations, you can better determine which one will work the best for your computer.

Postcard email Scam

If you're like me (and everyone else who has emailed me about this), you've been getting some strange emails in your Inbox lately. Am I right? Well, those emails are part of a newer scam that is going around these days. It goes by the name "Postcard Scam," but there are various versions of it that may have found their way to your Inbox.

If you receive one of these emails, the subject will say something like "You've received a postcard from a family member" or something similar. There have also been some that say something about an e-card, a greeting or even one specifying a special holiday (like the Fourth of July). The senders of this scam have also varied. These spam emails have come from Hallmark, Greetings123, eCards, and more.

If you open the email, it will tell you that you've been sent a postcard and there will be a link you can click on to go and preview it. But, if you click on that link, you're putting yourself at risk for a potential virus or malware infestation. Once you click on the link, the scammers know your address is a real one and they can start sending you malicious material at any time. So, although these emails look tempting, don't click on that link! Be extra careful not to fall for this trick.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cell Phone Sounds

In a sterling example of "you can find anything on the Internet," an individual is collecting the original ringtones available on all possible mobile phones and putting them up for all to enjoy.

Go listen, or add your phone's voice to the collection:

Sound Rts! A Real Time Audio Stratogy Game

Sound Rts is a free audio stratogy game developed by Jean-luc Pontico, based upon the popular warcraft series of fantasy battle games. In this game you become the general of an army, commanding peasants, foot soldiers, knights, archers, catapults mages and dragons against enemy forces, and only wise leadership and optimal use of resources will win the day.

You may play against the computer, carry out a number of military missions, or connect to and challenge other players over the internet. the game is also available in French!

So, what are you waiting for! Go here to the Sound Rts website to download the game and begin your adventure!

Article Source:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Dictionary for Every Language

Did you know that there are over 6,000 spoken languages in the world today? Or that about 2,000 of them have written languages to go with their verbal ones? Your Dictionary brings you around 300 language dictionaries to browse through.

The dictionaries are in alphabetical order and they go across the page to the right, making it easy to find the language you are looking for. Navigation is simple. Just click the name of the language of which dictionary you'd like to browse through. It will take you to a page full of links to dictionaries of that dialect, as well as, some you can open in your word processing programs.

I think this is a handy tool to have around for many different projects. Whether you want to help your kids with their language class, you want to look up a certain word you've seen or you use it to find a word to use for a project, you'll find so many different dictionaries here that you'd be hard pressed to ask for anything more.

Click this link to visit Your Dictionary at

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