Tag Archives: Mac OS

Adobe Lightroom Release Candidate 3.4 Cleared For Download – Save $299, Maybe

imageIn the past, running beta and release candidate software could be challenging. But, I’ve noticed in the last year or two, that beta, and more particularly release candidate software, can often be as stable as the final release. It may well be, that Microsoft raised the bar for both beta, and release candidates, with reasonably flawless releases of Windows 7 in both these formats.

Adobe, well known for its very expensive, though admittedly highly sophisticated applications (with high production costs), has just cleared release candidate 3.4 of its Photoshop Lightroom 3, for download.

Adobe’s definition of a release candidate

A “release candidate” label indicates that this update is well tested but would benefit from additional community testing before it is distributed automatically to all of our customers. The Lightroom 3.4 update includes support for many new cameras and lens profiles.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lightroom, try this description I came across not too long ago – “For the uninitiated, Lightroom is Photoshop’s specialized sibling; where Photoshop is an imaging Swiss Army Knife, Lightroom is a steak knife for photographers.”

A little confused? I must admit – so was I. So, try this definition from Adobe –

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 software unites your digital photography essentials in one fast and intuitive package. Create something beautiful. Express your vision. Move your audience.

Lightroom gets you there with the tools you need to create great images, manage all your photographs, and showcase them with style and impact.

If you’re a high level photographer, or you have aspirations in that direction, you might consider downloading this release candidate. There’s no guarantee that this is a perfectly flawless application, but if it’s relatively so, you just might save yourself $299 USD.

Personally, I’ve taken advantage of this offer and plan to test drive Photoshop Lightroom 3.4 in the coming weeks.

System requirements:

Windows –  XP with Service Pack 3, Vista (32 bit and 64 bit); Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit), 2GB of RAM, 1,024×768 display

Mac OS – OS X v10.5 or v10.6, 2GB of RAM, 1,024×768 display

Languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Swedish.

Check it out at: The product page.

Download at: Adobe Labs

As with all beta, or release candidates, take sensible precautions prior to installation. This should include setting a new restore point.

Note: The application installed with no difficulty on my test system.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Adobe, downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Image Editors, Mac, Mac OS X, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Release Candidate, Software

Use Free Prey To Track Your Lost Or Stolen Laptop Or Cell Phone

imageRecent statistics indicate that more than 10,000 Laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports alone. Broken down, this same set of statistics indicate that a Laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds!

If you are a Laptop owner, you should consider what can you do now, to increase the probability that should your Laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you.

One solution is offered by Prey, an Open Source application, that can enhance recovery chances. Stolen Laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board, the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.

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What is Prey?

Prey is a small applet for your Laptop or Android Cell Phone, which, when activated by a remote signal, either from the Internet, or through an SMS message, will provide you with the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally – trigger specific actions on the device.

According to the developer – “Prey helps you track and find your Laptop or Phone if it ever gets out of sight. You can quickly find out what the thief looks like, what he’s doing on your device and actually where he’s hiding by using GPS or WiFi geopositioning. It’s payback time.”

There have been substantial changes and improvements to Prey, since I last reviewed it here on January 28, 2010.

Installation is very simple, as the following screen captures indicate. BTW, Prey can protect your desktop/s, as well.

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Fast facts:

100% geolocation aware – Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect – If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather – Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy – Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements – Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe – Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access – Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware – Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.

You monitor your devices on Prey’s web Control Panel, where you can watch new reports arrive and manage specific settings, such as changing the frequency for reports and actions.

You can add up to three devices for free, and can optionally upgrade to a Pro Account in case you wish to bypass this limit.

Full auto updater.

System requirements: XP, Vista, Win 7, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux – all other distributions, (64 bit where appropriate), Android.

There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost device, will be recovered – but, it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood.

Download at: The Prey Project

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Android, cell phone, Cloud Computing Applications, Connected Devices, downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, GPS, Interconnectivity, Laptop recovery, Linux, Mac OS X, Open Source, Software, Ubuntu, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Prey – A Free Recovery Solution to a Lost or Stolen Laptop

image I’ve been planning for some time on writing an update on lost or stolen Laptops, the costs involved, and the consequences that often follow.

Following last night’s news story on “Laptops containing sensitive records belonging to thousands of Ontario teachers have been stolen”, on my local (Toronto) CBC News – now seems like the perfect time. So, let me mount my soapbox for just a moment.

What I found particularly offensive in this news story:

The Laptops were stolen December 3, 2009, and yet it took until January 27, 2010 to notify the affected parties. This, despite the fact, that stolen information of this type can be used to obtain false passports and fake credit cards, or for re-mortgaging a victim’s home.

As is often the case in this type of situation, the data on the Laptops was not encrypted.

Officials involved in this debacle were quoted as saying “but the computers were password-protected”. Officials, who obviously have no understanding, that readily available and legal, free software, can be downloaded from the Internet that can break, or reset passwords, in minutes.

This type of occurrence begs the question: is this just a “one off” or, is this type of occurrence a continuing problem?

If we are to be guided by recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, which indicate that more than 10,000 laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports alone, coupled with statistics which indicate that a laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds,  it would be hard to dismiss this as an isolated occurrence.

Reportedly, 65% of lost or stolen laptops are not reclaimed, despite the fact that half the laptops contain confidential corporate information, which, in most cases, is not encrypted.

One would assume, that encrypting sensitive data on enterprise or government laptops, or portable media, would be SOP. Instead, it seems that when we read news stories about a lost or stolen laptop, the pattern seems to be as follows; – “200,000 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on an unencrypted laptop stolen/lost earlier this week”.

There are substantial hard costs incurred in the loss or thief of a Laptop, and again, statistics available from the Ponemon Institute “Cost of a Lost Laptop”, indicate that these hard costs can approach $50,000 per occurrence, for enterprise.

It’s not only business or government that should be concerned with the loss, or theft, of a Laptops – it’s every bit as likely to happen to individual Laptop owners.

If you are a Laptop owner, you should consider what can you do now, to increase the probability that should your laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you.

One solution is offered by Prey, an open source application, that can enhance recovery chances. Stolen laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board, the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.

Prey  web service

According to the developer:

Prey helps you locate your missing laptop by sending timed reports with a bunch of information of its whereabouts. This includes the general status of the computer, a list of running programs and active connections, fully-detailed network and wifi information, a screenshot of the running desktop and – in case your laptop has an integrated webcam – a picture of the thief.

Prey uses a remote activation system which means the program sits silently in your computer until you actually want it to run. If so, it gathers all the information and sends it to your Prey web control panel or directly to your mailbox. The thief will never know his movements are being watched.

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There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost Laptop, will be recovered – but it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood. Prey, may be just the solution you’ve been looking for.

Fast facts:

Wifi autoconnect – Prey checks if there’s an active internet connection to send the information.

Geo-location aware – Prey uses wifi hotspots to locate devices geographically. This not only includes lat/lng coordinates, but also an altitude indicator.

Lightweight – Prey is written in bash which means it has virtually no dependencies, only what it different modules need to work. This also means Prey is portable and should run in just about any computer.

Modular architecture – You can add, remove and configure the different parts of Prey as you wish. Prey is composed by modules, each one performing a specific task.

Powerful report system – Get the list of current running programs, the recently modified files, active connections, running uptime, take a screenshot of the running desktop or even a picture of the guy who’s using the computer.

Messaging/alert system – You can alert the thief  he’s being chased at by sending messages which will appear on screen. You can also trigger alarms to make the message clear not only to him but also to whomever is nearby.

Module auto-installer – You don’t have to reinstall Prey to keep up with the latest and greatest modules. We keep a repository from where Prey will fetch what it needs to get the job done.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP & Vista, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux – other distributions.

Download at: The Prey Project

For a review and download links to free encryption software please read “Lose Your USB Stick and You Lose it All – Encrypt Now with Free Software!” on this site.

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Filed under downloads, Free Laptop Tracking Software, Freeware, Laptop recovery, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Prey – A Free Stolen Laptop Recovery Solution

clip_image001You’ll never lose your Laptop computer, and you take particular care to ensure it won’t be stolen, right? Of course you do. But does loss, or theft, of laptops happen? You bet.

Recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, indicate that more than 10,000 laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports. Are you as surprised as I am?

Not surprised? Well, how about this astonishing statistic from the same survey: 65% of those lost or stolen laptops are not reclaimed, despite the fact that half the laptops contain confidential corporate information.

One can only hope that the data on these laptops was encrypted, although it seems when we read news stories about a lost or stolen laptop, the pattern seems to be as follows; – 200,000 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on an unencrypted laptop stolen/lost earlier this week.

Other available statistics indicate that a laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds and 97% of stolen laptop computers are never recovered.

So what can you do to increase the probability that should your laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you?

One solution is offered by Prey, an open source application, that can enhance recovery chances significantly.

Prey web service

According to the developer:

Prey helps you locate your missing laptop by sending timed reports with a bunch of information of its whereabouts. This includes the general status of the computer, a list of running programs and active connections, fully-detailed network and wifi information, a screenshot of the running desktop and – in case your laptop has an integrated webcam – a picture of the thief.

Prey uses a remote activation system which means the program sits silently in your computer until you actually want it to run. If so, it gathers all the information and sends it to your Prey web control panel or directly to your mailbox. The thief will never know his movements are being watched.

Stolen laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.

There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost laptop, will be recovered – but it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood. Prey, may be just the solution you’ve been looking for.

Fast facts:

Wifi autoconnect – Prey checks if there’s an active internet connection to send the information.

Geo-location aware – Prey uses wifi hotspots to locate devices geographically. This not only includes lat/lng coordinates, but also an altitude indicator.

Lightweight – Prey is written in bash which means it has virtually no dependencies, only what it different modules need to work. This also means Prey is portable and should run in just about any computer.

Modular architecture – You can add, remove and configure the different parts of Prey as you wish. Prey is composed by modules, each one performing a specific task.

Powerful report system – Get the list of current running programs, the recently modified files, active connections, running uptime, take a screenshot of the running desktop or even a picture of the guy who’s using the computer.

Messaging/alert system – You can alert the thief  he’s being chased at by sending messages which will appear on screen. You can also trigger alarms to make the message clear not only to him but also to whomever is nearby.

Module auto-installer – You don’t have to reinstall Prey to keep up with the latest and greatest modules. We keep a repository from where Prey will fetch what it needs to get the job done.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP & Vista, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux -other distributions

Download at: The Prey Project

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

5 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Laptop recovery, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools