Computer news

ICT Materials 9 March 2008 07:27 (UTC +04:00)

Multiple vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader

Computer users who open PDF files on their computers using Adobe Reader should download a new version of the software as soon as possible.

Several vulnerabilities have been found in version 8.1.1 and 7.0.9. and earlier, warns the German Federal Agency for Security in Information Technology (BSI) in Bonn.

One of these gaps has already been exploited by criminals to sneak malware onto unsuspecting users' computers via rigged PDF files.

The updated version, 8.1.2. is considered safe and is available for free download at http://www.adobe.com/go/getreader. Until the new software is installed, users should be careful not to open PDFs from unknown or untrustworthy sources, including following links on unknown web sites.

Microsoft Windows and Office patches recommended

The discovery of 17 glitches in Microsoft Windows and its Office suite has prompted the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) to encourage computer users to download patches.

The glitches, some of which affect critical areas, can potentially be used by outsiders to access a private computer and install foreign codes, hunt for personal data or cause system crashes. The BSI says a visit to a rigged website could open a computer to these problems.

The Microsoft patches were released on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of each month when the company makes its new patches available. They are available on the Windows Update website, http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.

Personalizing your PC is a question of time, effort and imagination

Gone are the days when customers had two basic choices of computers - beige or grey. Computers have long since made the jump from simple machines to designer objects. Notebooks are becoming more and more stylish and PC towers now come in a variety of shapes and colours.

But that's not enough for some people. They've decided to take matters into their own hands and embark into the world of case modding.

Case-modding is, literally, modifying the computer's casing. It can range from putting a sticker on the computer to painting it, says Sebastian Gollus, a case modder.

On the website casemod-freax.de, Gollus explains the art of case modding. "As a rule, the most effective first modification is to cut a window into the computer's housing," he writes. That allows a view of the computer's inner workings. Installing light diodes into the casing creates a very nice effect, he adds.

But a simple hole in the housing isn't enough for hard-core modders. Arnt Kugler of the Munich-based computer portal Chip Online has kept an eye on the modding scene for years: "Some people turn their PC's housing into an alien or a miniature car.

"Installing a water cooling system is also popular," he says. "They look good and they're quiet."

Lars Muehrenberg is another enthusiastic case modder. His website, www.caseumbau.de, includes tips and directions. "You're best off starting with an illuminated ventilator," he says. That can be found in most electronics stores for nine euros (13 dollars). "In general, even a beginner can do that. It's just a question of taking out four screws to replace the old ventilator with the new one."

Anyone who hasnever opened up a computer should be especially careful at first. It's not enough to turn off the computer - it has to be completely cut off from the power supply to avoid electrocution. And if the computer is damaged during modding, any warranty or manufacturer's guarantee is voided.

Once the casing is screwed open, it's time to dismantle the hardware. "An empty casing is well suited for adaptation," says Gollus. A person's imagination is the only limiting factor.

"There's a pretty wide variety of case modifying tools," says Kugler. "Everything is available, from empty casings to stickers to lights."

And prices can be reasonable: "For 50 euros, you can do a lot to light up your PC."

But, just as with any other building project, a PC upgrade takes time. "People who compete at the German Casemod Championships work on their projects for weeks or even months. But for smaller projects, you can get away with a long weekend of work," says Gollus.

Muehlenberg says he's almost always working on a PC casing. "It's a hobby. When you're done with one project, it's time for the next one." ( dpa )