Google Chromecast review

This is an interesting little device that should be high on your gadget gifts list as it effectively connects your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC to an HDMI enabled HDTV – without connecting wires, too. The Chromecast seamlessly lets you beam content from your handheld smart device onto your big-screen TV – watch YouTube videos, Netflix, Google Music, Google TV and Movies. When you’re doing this, your phone or tablet becomes the TV remote. Its beta screen mirroring feature – which lets you beam your Chrome browser session to a large screen – is still restrictive, but it’s only a matter of time before Google keeps adding more apps to the Chromecast party.


The whole thing is a little under 3 inches long, and it’ll stick out about 2.5 inches when plugged into an HDMI port. There’s a short HDMI extension cable in the box to provide extra clearance if you can’t fit the Chromecast against the back of your TV, but you might need something longer depending on your setup, as the extension really just makes everything stick out more.

Chromecast is so small it could easily be mistaken for an oversized USB thumb drive with a little more heft to it. That contrasts with Apple TV and the “buddy boxes” that run Google TV. These devices that are filled with more audio and video ports than users know what to do with: component, S/PDIF, Ethernet, multiple HDMI connections, you name it.

Chromecast doesn’t have an HDMI port, it just fits right into one.


The setup can be remarkably easy if you follow Google’s directions and download the setup app on your computer or mobile device. On the back there’s an LED, a button, and a Micro USB port, which is how the Chromecast gets power. Yes, power — Google actually recommends that you use the included external power adapter to plug the Chromecast into the wall. Once you’ve got the Chromecast plugged in and powered, the next step is getting it on your Wi-Fi network.

The Chromecast is basically a small Android computer that can connect to the internet and play video files. When you hit the Cast button in a supported app, the Chromecast directly connects to the internet and streams the video itself — it’s not streaming from your device.

Since there’s no single, definitive place to control the Chromecast, it’s easy to find yourself watching a video without any immediate way to pause, rewind, or mute — you have to remember where the video came from and open that app. It’s not a big problem, but it’s added complexity. Google really needs to add basic playback controls like play, pause, and mute to the Chromecast setup app. Google also desperately needs to add in some basic password controls; right now anyone walking by can grab control of your Chromecast and send video to it. That makes it super easy to use, but also opens up a world of elaborate trolling.

You can set up multiple Chromecasts on the same Wi-Fi network, and the setup app even lets you rename them, so you can label each HDTV and room. By default they’re called “ChromecastXXXX” (with different four-digit numbers to identify them), but you can easily change them to “Living Room” and “Bedroom.”


There’s a “cast” button that is uniformly built into the top right of all of the compatible mobile apps: YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Music, and Google Play Movies & TV. The same goes for the Chrome browser extension on computers, but not Chrome on mobile devices, which have been left out of the media extending picture.

Pressing “cast” causes the Chromecast to start pulling an app’s video and audio to the TV on its own. This conveniently frees up your computer, phone, and tablet to fine-tune the streaming content’s timeline, audio settings, or make other selections within the app.

Chromecast can act as a second screen in a couple of cases, letting you browse the internet or do something else on the computer while a tab with your Gmail, Twitter feed or a video is running in a “casted” background on the big screen.

But don’t make a mistake thinking that this can be a dedicated second screen option for work; it’s just an extra screen to watch.

The Chromecast tab extension is also limited to Chrome at the moment and may never work outside of the Google-owned browser. That means FireFox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera users are out of luck if they had hoped to “cast” using their favorite browser. If Google opens up the Chromecast API, that could change in the future instead of forcing everyone to use Chrome for this one reason.



The Chromecast’s biggest limitation, of course, is content. Right now, the system only supports video from YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play Music & Movies on mobile. Having only rarely used Google Play’s VOD service and owning a variety of other devices with which to watch YouTube and Netflix, the novelty of the Chromecast’s app streaming functionality wore off quick. But Google promises more apps are on the way, and given the company’s clout, I’m inclined to believe them.

Though generally painless, there are scenarios when the Chromecast can be challenging to configure. For instance, if your TV is somewhat far or a few rooms away from your router, the Chromecast can struggle to maintain a connection.


I can say that it has easily become my favorite way to watch Netflix and YouTube, which makes up a big part of my TV viewing these days. But Netflix and YouTube are clearly just the beginning for Chromecast. Hulu, Vimeo, HBO Go and others have already pledged their support, and a small army of independent developers has started to hack away and bring their own apps and games to the device. All of this means that Chromecast will get substantially better over the coming months.

Bad Stuff :

  • Not enough apps yet, Windows Phone not supported
  • Mirroring limited to browser tab
  • Weak Wi-Fi range
  • Chrome is the only supported browser

Good Stuff:

  • Streams Android to a big TV
  • Works with iOS, Macs and PCs
  • Easy to setup and transport
  • Cheapest media adapter
  • Supports multiple Chromecasts on the same network.

Water Car Technology: The new way for better mileage

Climate change has received global attention due to the dangers it poses not only on future generation, but also on current generation. Global warming has been discussed and solution being sort at regional and international level. It is the subject on international and local newspaper, science journals, radio and televisions, social media such as Facebook and twitter.

World leaders have converged series of conferences to address the issue and signed treaties (for example, Kyoto protocol) to curb pollution and subsequently global warming and climate change. Of recent and more sustainable way to address the issue is development of water powered vehicles.

Water powered vehicle are thought to be the way out in solving energy crisis around the globe, for example, due to fuel shortage in 2008, many countries faced economic turmoil and most of automotive industry realised low profit. Use of water is forthcoming in solving such problems since water is readily available; in fact it covers 70% of the universe.

 Power Production

Water is made up of three atoms, two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, which are bound by hydrogen bonds. Through electrolysis process, bonds are broken and the molecule separates to yield hydrogen molecules and oxygen.

With most of water powered engines, it uses membrane electrode assembly (MEA) to split water molecule. The engine needs to be supplied with air and water to function. Hydrogen produced is used to power engine, while the by product is water vapour and is released to the atmosphere. Water vapour is pollutant free.

Advantages of water as source of power

Water is readily available, in most cases, water is in excess. Water engines can solve the problem of high fuel prices especially to users of gasoline powered machines. Oil prices are sky rocketing each day with some people particularly in developing world and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, almost not able to buy gasoline fuel. In some countries, a litre of gasoline is more expensive than daily earning, this is more pronounced to unemployed individuals.

More powerful- scientist have proved beyond doubt that water powered engines are more powerful than gasoline, in fact; water is 2.5 more powerful than gasoline fuel. It can be used to run heavy machines and vehicles.

More environmental friendly

Gasoline produces some greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. This is the major cause of global warming and climate change evident in many parts of the world, for example, the rising of ocean level such as Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean, Hurricane such as Katrina in 2005 that left many people dead and damaged a lot of property in US. Such occurrence can be alleviated by use of water engine fuel because use of gasoline engines is among the major cause of environmental pollution.

Boosting developing countries economy- though developed countries are major pollutant, it is unfortunate because developing countries suffer more, for instance, most African countries rely on agriculture as the main source of capital and foreign exchange. Slight adverse change in environment will cost them more due to the fragile nature of the economy, use of water powered vehicle will result into reliable agriculture in these countries because the weather will be more predictable, furthermore, this will reduce death rate in these countries because disaster management and mitigation measures will be put in place.

Save the non-renewable sources of energy, this will help to curb depleting non-renewable energy sources. It is good to keep yourself posted on current issues in automotive industry, and you can contact DVLA contact number for more information on water powered vehicle.


Firefox Gecko Engine: What’s behind your browser?

It is widely acknowledged that the rendering engine is the most critical in the experience provided by a web browser. If you have been watching the development scene closely, you would have definitely heard about the current buzzword on the horizon, “WebKit” – which powers Apple’s Safari browser and Google’s Chrome browser. Now for a general idea, we narrow down the workings of Gecko and WebKit to two distinct points – the process architecture and extensibility.

The Gecko process architecture is such that it handles all of the concurrent tabs on a single process thread. While this results in a comparatively slower interface, in the long term, it pays off to not fork a new process for every little task that needs to be accomplished – the model commonly used under the WebKit architecture. What this means is that while the first few tabs with WebKit would seem faster, it’s because the engine is only utilizing a few extra resources from the computer to parallelize the work and bring with it the overhead involved, but when you go up to double digits in tabs opened, with some of them doing resources-intensive work, such as playing videos or working with comprehensive web-apps, this model returns to cripple the overall performance of the system, and by the extension, of the browser itself, due to the sheer number of the processes that are now being requested to be forked and maintained by the system.

Firefox, as has often been cited, tends to do much better at handling such high pressure loads, because the entire browser’s working are restricted to a single thread, which is much more maintainable at a system level. The difference in the memory footprint increases almost exponentially between the two, as we make our workings more and more resources intensive.

Then, there’s the concern about online privacy. Although not directly relevant to the browser engines, it is worth noting that due to Firefox not being tied into any particular ecosystem, it offers an unparalleled sense of security due to an absolute lack of conflict of interests. The ‘Firefox Sync’ feature remains one step ahead of the usual username/password combination, and provides an encryption key that is stored locally on your device, which, when passed on to a new installation of Firefox, provides your data to you remotely, via Firefox Servers, with nobody else being able to peek at the exact information. Also, Firefox pioneers the campaign to hamper the ability of online commodities to track the actions of users via a combination of IP address re-routing, and blocking other user-identifiable data. This has been reflected in the aftermath of the recent NSA-spying revelations by Edward Snowden, with users responding by exponentially increasing their downloads on non-conglomerate entities such as Firefox and Opera.

Of course, there will be entities who believe that this can be used for illegal activities, but then again, so can regular phone call.

Beta Inkless Pen : Write without ink

inklessImagine getting your hands on a pen or pencil that doesn’t rely on timber, ink or graphite and is therefore more eco-sensitive than any pencil you’ve ever used? Well, that’s exactly what the Beta Inkless Pen is. It has a lead tip and feels heavier than most pen or pencils that you might have used, so getting used to it is tricky. It’s design is the revival of an age old artist technique of writing in metal! The tiny metal tip is made of lead (so do not put it in your mouth) and will write notes forever. However, with an optional anodized aluminum or cherry wood exterior, this is not just a pen but one hack of a style statement. The pen leaves a grey imprint when scribbled on paper and needs no refill as – get this- it has no ink. Fancy writing with a streak of pure oozing metal anyone?


Use it and you will stop contributing to the grinding away of trees by sharpening away wood pencils.  The Beta Inkless Pen will be your favorite writing instrument.  Use it for a new experience.  It lays down a grey line that doesn’t smudge or erase. It never needs sharpening and doesn’t run out. The shaft of the pen is available in anodized aluminum which is cool to the touch. If you prefer a warm and an airy feel, select the cherry wood finish.

The pens can be used on most paper surfaces, at any temperature or in any weather condition and will never need to be sharpened.  In actuality, writing with lead is pretty unique, as is the Inkless Metal Pen, which sheds minute particles of lead as you write. How minute? The Inkless Metal Pen works so well that it will pretty much never need sharpening or a refill, and it’s “ink” is also solid, so you never need to worry about it exploding like a pulverized squid in your pants pocket. It doesn’t smudge either.

Features & specs:

  • Dimensions (standard – silver, black, or cherry): 6.25″ x 0.375″ diameter
  • Dimensions (keychain): 2.25″ x 0.375″ diameter
  • Special alloy metal tip
  • Anodized aluminum or cherry wood barrel
  • No dulling, no smudging, no leaking, no refills
  • Warning: Not intended for children (due to small amounts of lead in the tip)
  • Keychain version includes a metal gift tin and keyring

 There’s no way I’d switch to a Beta Pen as my main writing instrument (I’ll use Uni-Ball pens until my stockpile runs dry), but it’s a nice go-to pen to throw in a bag or even on a key-ring for unexpected note-taking, when you don’t want to worry about sharpening a pencil or running out of pen ink while on the go.

Does your machine behaving weird these days?

Keep in mind that a combination of symptoms is much more likely proof that you’re infected: rarely does a virus have just one effect. That said, here’s a checklist of what to look out for before you press the almighty Scan button on your anti-virus (if the virus hasn’t already disabled it!).


    1. 0Your computer takes charge and does things on its own—moving the mouse cursor all by itself, randomly closing and opening windows, showing you messages that say “We’ve got you!” and so forth. If any of this is happening, we don’t even need to tell you that you’re infected!
    2. 1Your computer often stops responding. This is more so a sign of an infection with Windows 7 than with earlier versions: Windows 98 used to stop responding often even without infection, so that doesn’t mean much!
    3. 2The crashes-and-restarts-on-its own syndrome: this is a pretty good indicator of viral activity on your computer. Of course, it could be something else, but if this is happening and your antivirus is working, why not do a scan anyway?
    4. 3Several apps seem broken. The key word here is “several”: one program not working correctly, like we said, is seldom an indicator of a virus. But if you notice functional anomalies in several applications, it’s time to scan.
    5. 4Certain drives on your computer have suddenly become inaccessible, even though they show up in My Computer.


    1. 5Not being able to print correctly has been stated as an indicator of a viral infection, but don’t panic if you get a bad printout. It’s probably due to something else. But if it happens in conjunction with other symptoms…
    2. 6Unexpected error messages with weird codes! Of course, error messages are seldom user-friendly, so the key here is how often they pop up, and how weird they are. For example, a big red cross and an OK button that doesn’t say “OK”.
    3. 7Now this is so typical of possible viral infection that we hardly need to mention it: distorted dialog boxes and menus. Hit “Scan” immediately. And if it turns out not to have been a virus, there’s still something wrong with your computer, so have it checked.
    4. 8If, despite all our warnings in the past five years, you still opened a suspicious-looking attachment—driven, of course, by what is called the libido—and immediately after that, everything (or at least some things) went funny, you’re in for it. Hit Scan. And hope that the anti-virus will scan.
    5. 9It could be that your anti-virus needs a re-install, but it’s unlikely: if the anti-virus is disabled and you didn’t disable it, you’re very likely infected. Before panicking, first try reinstalling the antivirus. If that doesn’t work, panic.
    6. 10Continuing along those dire lines, if you’re able to install any program but an anti-virus, then yes, you are a victim.


    1. 11When someone tells you he or she got an infected message from you, you almost certainly have something bad on your computer. It might or might not be a virus.


    1. 12A not-so-common symptom, but a deadly giveaway, is the mouse pointer changing to something else. Of course, if you went to one of those “1000 cursors free!” sites and downloaded and installed cursors, then you’re infected by spyware anyway.
    2. 13Icons on the desktop that you didn’t place are again a giveaway symptom.


    1. 14Unnecessary shortcuts have been created of files and folders that don’t even needed.


  1. 15You cannot see anything in a folder or drive but it is still occupying memory space. Best solution to try is Go to Organize > Folder and Search Option > View and Unmark – Hide Protected System files, also – Select Show hidden files and folders. Most of the time you will get your hidden files through this.
  2. 16If you just installed a program—successfully—and it doesn’t work properly, or if its icons have vanished, don’t reinstall it! There’s no time to waste—quickly do a scan.
  3. 17Now this could also be an indicator of spyware, but when you notice that your modem is doing a lot of activity on its own—both sending and receiving—or if your hard disk is performing more activity than you’d expect, like chattering away when you’re not even working on anything, it could be a sign of viral infection.

Then there’s the System Configuration Utility, activated by typing in “msconfig” at a command prompt. Run it and take a good, hard look at all the programs running. If you see something with random character strings as its name… you’ve guessed it: you’re infected by either a virus or spyware. But most viruses and spyware don’t give themselves away so easily, and call themselves by decent names.

One thing to remember is that slow behavior could also be due to spyware, and it doesn’t necessarily mean a virus. Of course, it could be nothing at all, and all in your head.

You need to decide on what “slow” and “odd” mean. First off, whatever your machine, you know when it’s running slower than usual, and when that happens, there’s a possibility that you’re infected. Windows pop up more slowly. Random activity seems to be happening in the background more often than it should. Something negative seems to have happened to the overall responsiveness of the system.

How to: Add custom icon on Removable Drive

Did You Notice, whenever you insert a game CD/DVD, an icon is used over the drive. By default windows will put a simple Disk image over it. Game developers and software designers generally use their company logo to show off some style.

You can also do this simply to your Removable Drive (Pen Drive, CD and DVD). Most of the people must have seen an “autorun.inf” file inside CD/DVDs. This file is responsible for automatically executing application or start setup when the disk is inserted. This file is also capable of adding custom icon to it. For this:

1) Open Microsoft Notepad or any other text editor.

2) Write the following code in it:


3) Now save it but not with a .txt file extension, name it as “autorun.inf”. Make sure you set extension right.


4) Simply copy this file and icon file to root of your Removable Drive.


Remember! The “your_icon_name” MUST be replaced with the name of icon file. You can use icons embedded in a *.dll file by placing the dll file under the icon tag, and then index it.

Eg: icon=”shell32.dll, 5”

Bitmap (*.bmp) files are also supported for this action (but not recommended). There are some other tags that can be used other than icon in autorun.inf file, like: label, open, action. We will discuss rest in some other articles.

Some new features for Google Maps

Google recently unveiled a huge makeover to its Google Maps. Currently available in beta mode, it lets you discover changes in its interface and improved accessibilities. However, the search results in this version remain more or less the same as in the earlier version. You’ll find some changes in the form of search inputs and queries. Unlike the older version of Google Maps, it has a bunch of new and improved functionalities such as advanced filters for search queries.

Search on the Google Maps

Let’s say you’re looking for coffee shops near Delhi’s Qutub Minar, you can use the term “near” in your search query. Therefore, the most appropriate search query would be “coffee near Qutub Minar”. In the results you’ll be shown all the coffee shops located around this area. You can do the same for other similar search queries.

Instantly share URLs

Whenever you want to share the URL of a particular map, all you have to do is click a button called “link” on the older version of Google Maps. The new Google Maps will allow you to always have a permalink of any place you search for. Whenever you search for any location, you’ll find its URL present inside the address bar, ready to be retrieved and shared instantly with you others.


Get offline Google Maps

If there are particular locations on Google Maps that you’re fond of, you don’t need to be online and connected to access them each time. You can simply make them appear offline for later use. While you’re online, go to the Google Maps application on your phone and open the map. In the search box, you’ll find search suggestions for recently accessed places. Select “Make this map area available offline” and you are done. You can also use menu button and select this option, a square box will pop up and highlight the area of map you want to download.

Note: This feature is currently available only on Android Devices.

Access Street View

Similar to Google Maps on desktop, there’s no longer an option on mobile devices to access Street View as soon as search results show up. If you want Street View of a particular location on Google Maps, simply press and hold on the map to drop a pin. This will render an info sheet, which lets you access the Street View option.

Camera Keywords Explained

Have you always been fascinated by photography but found the whole thing to be a little too daunting? Have you always been “clicking an auto” but want to learn the finer details of functions? Well, worry not as we’re going to simplify all the technical keywords that comes with having to operate a camera, so that all you have to do is dial in the settings and shoot.

aperture camera


Aperture: Aperture is the term that refers to a circular curtain inside the lens which determines just how much light goes into your camera. An aperture values signifies just how much the curtain opens and is measured in fractions. Therefore, a bigger fraction denoted a bigger opening, eg. ½ is bigger than 1/16. The larger the aperture opens, the more light hits your sensor. Therefore to shoot in low light, a big aperture is a must.

Shutterspeed: Once the light has crossed the aperture, it sort of just sits inside your camera before hitting the sensor. What’s blocking it is another curtain called shutter. The shutter decides for how long all this light that has entered your camera will hit the sensor. Allow it too much time and your image will start turning white and allow it too little time and it will be too dark. The duration for which the shutter is open is measured in fractions as well, unless you are doing a long exposure of several secs/mins/hours.

ISO: The ISO on your camera determines just how sensitive your sensor is to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive it is, meaning it needs lesser light to create an image. This, however, does not mean that you can crank the ISO setting all the way to the highest, as there are a few downsides to using High ISO.

Light Meter: A light meter is a little module that measures the amount of light coming into camera and factors all the conditions to generate a “good” exposure based on preset parameters. This is what tells you how much shutter speed and aperture values to use. Unfortunately, the light meter is not always a 100% accurate, so always review your images after shooting and if they look over or under exposed, do use exposure compensation.

Exposure Compensation

By Kathy Eyster

Exposure Compensation: Exposure compensation is the method where you expose a little longer or for a shorter duration than what your light meter says should be the right setting. This can occur when you shoot at the light meter recommended settings and your exposure Is either over or under exposure. So you can do positive exposure compensation (to increase exposure) or use negative exposure compensation (to underexpose). You’d ideally use exposure compensation as a quick fix to your exposure problems, without having to change the shutter speed or aperture.

Depth of Field: The Depth of Field (DoF) of a particular photograph essentially refers to the area in front and behind your intended point of focus. The more the depth of field, the more you will have in focus in your image and smaller the depth of field, the more background (and foreground) blur you will get. Macro shots tend to have a “shallow” depth of field, while group shots must have a great depth of field.

Bracketing Shots: Bracketing is a method where the camera can take a number of shots simultaneously at different exposure values. Normally, this would be a “0” exposure (the value determined by your light meter as ideal) and two (or more even numbered shots) more with an exposure value of a higher and an equally lower value. This is an extremely handy method for shoot High Dynamic Range images.   If you are going to buy a new camera device, than don’t forget to check these point of concern that you should keep in mind.

Tricky VLC Media player features you were ignoring until now

VLC is a free open source media player developed by VideoLAN. For quite some time now it has been the most popular media player across all platforms. Despite a minimalistic and frankly, dull GUI, VLC has held ground due to provision of large support for variety of audio and video formats. Well, besides being solid media player VLC has some amazing features that are not so obvious first hand. This section will introduce you to a few tips and tricks to harness the inbuilt power of VLC. Tests have been done on the latest version of VLC for Windows which can be downloaded from the official VideoLAN website:


Convert audio and Video

VLC is quite a handy native audio and video converter. Using VLC you convert an audio or video file to a variety of available formats. What’s more, you can also extract the audio from a video and save it as an MP3 file. Quite a handful for a media player we should say.


To convert a file, simply go to Media-> Convert/Save. In the window that opens you can add the file you want to convert and click on Convert. In the new window that opens select destination folder for saving the converted file.

convert and save

Choose the output format in the Profile drop box and click on Start. Don’t forget to change the extension of the output filename.

Record Video

VLC gives you the option of recording videos you are watching from a DVD, etc. For enabling this feature you will have to enable advance control option by View-> Advanced Controls. Enabling this option will add a set of buttons above your regular buttons in the standard GUI.


Click the left most button to start recording and click it again to stop recording. The recorded video is saved in My Videos folder inside your Home folder or in Libraries->Videos.

Rip Video

Yes you heard right. Your innocent media player apparently is a part-time ripper as well. It goes without saying that the rip facility of VLC will not be as powerful as commercial software like NERO. Copying DVD’s and general audio is fine but copying heavy formats with higher resolution can become a test of patience. Well, since VLC is marketed as a video player, a rip ability add-on is quite a nifty value addition. To copy from CD simply follow file conversion instructions. Go to Media-> Convert/Save. Instead of adding a file from your existing videos, simply click on the Disk option between File and Network options. Clicking on Convert/Save will open the usual file conversion window where you can select destination folder and output type. If you want a simple copy of disk contents without conversion check the dump raw input box. Click on Start to enable the process.


Will continue some more in next post.

Adware and Spyware – What are they ?

What if you bought a music CD and every five minutes a voice came on and asked you to get a new credit card, or to change your mobile service provider, or to earn $2032 per hour just from home? What if your music listening habits were constantly being monitored? And if the force behind the voice caused your CD player to eventually go kaput? Translate that to the world that is the Internet, and what you have is adware and spyware.

What are they?

Essentially, “adware” is an abbreviation for advertising-supported software. Adware comes bundled with some commercial software which, upon installation, installs packages that download advertising material to your computer and display them. These ads are usually displayed when the user is using the original software application. However, this is not always the case. As it becomes increasingly pervasive on your computer, adware begins to pop up ads even when you aren’t using the original software application. And that’s when it gets really irritating.

Spyware, on the other hand, is irritating right from the beginning. It gets its name from the fact that it installs itself and performs (often malicious) operations on the user’s computer without his knowledge. It is intentionally designed to stealthily install itself and monitor the user’s activity, accessing information that can easily be used to someone’s  profit. Essentially, spyware, once on your computer, is used to transmit personal data to a third-party that will use it for a purpose you did not sanction.

Spyware shouldn’t be confused with viruses or worms, as a spyware package is not intended to replicate itself.


Cartoon virus

Courtesy : scottgbrooks

How Do They Attack?

Adware, spyware, and for that matter, any malware, can attack in a variety of ways.

Adware Attacks

As mentioned earlier, adware is usually bundled with a commercial software. It can install itself on your computer either with your permission or without your knowledge when you install the software package. Milder forms of adware are also present in the form of pop-up (and the increasingly common, pop-under) banners that pop up when you visit certain sites. These ads, sometimes referred to as “Java traps,” open up in several mini-windows—each time a window is closed by the user, code that spawns another window is activated. Programmers sometimes add adware to their software packages in order to recover some of the cost of developing the package.

If the package is freeware then the adware is used to make up for the entire cost of development. Shareware packages also sometimes carry adware that is activated once the trial period is over. Adware can have several negative effects on your computer. It generally slows it down since it gobbles up some of your system’s RAM. It also, to a large extent, slows down your Internet connection, as a lot of bandwidth can be used to download ad content.

Funny ads

Fake ads to attract attention.

Adware is generally licensed content, and therefore usually (though not always) requires the user’s permission before being installed on the user’s computer. It collects information about how one is using one’s computer and the content transmitted therein, and based on this, displays “relevant” ads in your browser. The free versions of certain browsers, like Opera, used to support adware. Come P2P clients, such as KaZaA, have adware (for example, Gator, TopSearch, etc.) that install on your computer.

However, there are very few examples of such “good” adware. Good adware allows you to uninstall it whenever you like. The other type of adware installs itself on your computer without your permission. Usually, sites with explicit content install such packages onto your computer. These could eventually “hijack” your browser, causing your screen to get filled with more and more pop-ups.


Spyware Attacks

Spyware is intended to gather information about a computer user without that user’s permission and knowledge. There are different levels of information that spyware intends to collect from one’s computer. The milder versions collect data about the user’s Internet usage and sends it to, say, an online advertising agency, who will then point your browser towards advertising content (read tons of pop-ups). The harsher versions of spyware can take more personal information from your Internet history such as credit card numbers and passwords.

Spyware is usually developed by individuals who want to infiltrate computers and use it to their profit. Spyware, once installed on your computer, can drastically slow down its performance, since it consumes a large amount of RAM; with every subsequent browser function, it slows down your computer further. But how does spyware get installed on your computer? Well, you don’t have to visit a pornography site to be attacked by spyware. These days, spyware has pervaded to sites with not only explicit content, but also to sites with other accessible Web content, including downloads from sources that aren’t legitimate.

Though it may seem pretty cool to have been able to get some really expensive pirated software off a warez site, you are almost certainly going to be open to spyware as you do it. The same goes for some P2P clients (like Kazaa, BearShare, and Morpheus). Spyware can get installed on your computer when you install certain software, through the ActiveX controls of malicious Web sites, or even through pop-up advertising. ActiveX is a technology used by Microsoft IE, and it allows different applications—or parts of them—that you installed on your computer to be accessed by your browser to display content. Some spyware developers are particularly cunning, disguising their spyware programs as spyware removal programs, thereby fooling users into downloading more spyware.

Spyware programs are getting more malicious by the day. They could install a variety of application DLLs on your computer that allow hackers to snoop on what you’re doing. These DLLs can do a variety of things to your computer—monitor your keystrokes on or offline, access your word processor, hijack your Web browser, display advertisements, and more. And some spyware leaves your computer even more open to attack from other spyware.

Gator basically displays advertising on the computer on which it is installed. It also installs a host of other applications like GotSmiley, Dashbar, and more, which further slow down your computer.