Category Archives: Miscellaneous

How to Open Docx Files

Docx files are a new format introduced by Microsoft for their Office Suite and in particular MS Word since 2007. As part of Microsoft’s commitment to open file formats the docx extension is a file packaged in a zipfile with all of its formatting and other properties stored in XML files, including the actual text of the document.

Whilst it is possible to open a docx file with an unzip utility by renaming the file to zip instead of docx, in practice this doesn’t help the user much since the XML files need to be opened and read together otherwise all formatting will be lost. In an emergency it is possible to read only the XML file containing the text, and using a text editor delete the XML code.

For this reason software such as MS Word 2007, of which docx is the native file format, are generally needed to open docx files. Preserving the formatting, for example tab spacing, headers, embedded objects, font selection, paragraph formatting is often as important to a user as the actual text.

Users who don’t have MS Office 2007 installed on their computers, but who have either MS Office 2003, or MS Office 2000 can download a free plugin from Microsoft that updates these versions and provides native compatibility with docx. Microsoft Works 9.0 will also open and save docx files.

Opening a docx file in any of the above applications is a simple routine, simply use the file menu, and the ‘open’ option which opens a file manager window allowing you to navigate to the folder or location where the docx file is stored. Alternatively, use the search box in Windows, type the name of the file you want to open, and then right mouse click on the file and select the ‘open’ or ‘open with’ option.

In the event that MS Office, or MS Word is not installed, newer versions of OpenOffice and AbiWord are able to open docx files, tho WordPerfect isn’t yet able to do so. WordPerfect users will need to install additional software such as Microsoft’s docx viewer, or ask the original creator of the document to save the file in doc format.

Additional Reading on Docx Files

RAR and Compression Algorithm Differentiated

RAR is an archive file format that includes essential features like error recovery, file spanning, and data compression. The term RAR was derived from its developer, a Russian software engineer named Eugene Roshal (from Roshal ARchive).

The file format .rar is used for data volume sets. On the other hand, .rev is the format for recovery volume sets. There are different versions of the RAR application. These are the original RAR, RAR2, and the latest, RAR3.

The RAR3 version can undergo changes in file name extensions, the encryption algorithm, the compression algorithm, the Recovery Volumes option, and support for large files.

About WinRAR

The RAR file format was first created for packing and unpacking files for the DOS programs. However, it was later adopted by various other platforms. Shareware versions are also available for Mac OS X, Linux, DOS, OS/2, and FreeBSD.

The rate of compression is not the only feature available in RAR.

  • It can also handle split volumes with much efficiency. Before the introduction of the RAR format, ARJ was the most widely used compression software.
  • It can add multiple “recovery records” (also redundancy) into an archive. This prevents the corruption of the file. While some parts of the archive might suffer from damage, RAR can still recover the data when there is a large percentage of recovery record.
  • The archived file can be considered a single block of data.
  • It has strong encryption capabilities. The older versions use proprietary algorithm, while the new ones use AES encryption algorithm.
  • The newer versions are equipped with a password protection feature, so users who don’t have the correct password cannot display the archived files.
  • It can handle extended attributes for OS/2.
  • RAR files can be embedded in other files types, most commonly JPEG.

RAR vs. Other Compression Algorithms

It is said that the compression operation for most RAR files are slower than when you compress the same file on WinZIP or gzip. WinZIP has a much better compression rate as compared with the RAR format.

On the other hand, the LZMA algorithm has similarities with the RAR format. Both of them need more or less a similar amount of time to compress or decompress the same file.

Both the ZIP and LZMA are still widely used today as a compression scheme, just as much as RAR.

Tidal Energy

Tidal waves are a natural oceanic phenomenon. They are usually described as waves having monstrous heights that have the power to topple large sea vessels.

A tidal wave can be caused by a volcanic eruption, an undersea earthquake, or, at rare times, by meteoroid/ asteroid impact. These seismic activities cause vibrations that can be detected with the use of different devices and equipment, the most common of which is the seismograph.

Seismograph/ Seismometers

A seismograph is a machine used to quantify and detect earthquakes, both on land and undersea. A seismograph can also detect tidal waves.

A seismograph literally means “the shakes” (seism) and “I draw” (grapho). It is also referred to as a seismometer (which means “the shakes I measure”).

Principles of the Seismograph

An inertial mass is attached to a seismometer by a spring. This spring will hold it fixed if there is not the slightest motion. The seismograph will record motion with the mass relative to its frame. With motion between the mass and the frame recorded, any underground and undersea motion from the earth can be calculated.

Modern Seismographs

  • Teleseismometer – This is a broadband seismograph. It is capable of recording a broad variety of frequencies. The masses which are attached to it are called “proof mass” and are held by sophisticated electrical forces bundled in what is called a “Force Balance Accelerometer”. Whenever the earth moves, the forces will attempt to steady the mass. The force deemed necessary to hold it steady will then be recorded.
  • Accelerograph – The accelerograph measures the acceleration which is needed to approximate velocity and position of the impact. The data derived from an accelerograph is geared towards understanding how an earthquake will affect infrastructure. An accelerograph is also called a strong-motion seismometer. It is useful during the strongest seismic activity both on land and undersea.

Truth about Tidal Waves

It is common notion to people that tidal waves only happen on rare occasions. But the truth is tidal waves are quite common especially in the oceans.

Although seismic activities are considered to be the most common cause of tidal waves, the gravitational pull of the moon can also be factored in. Even if the moon is a million miles away in space, it has enough pull that it can actually cause water to rise as high as 40 feet.

Every time there is a tidal wave, a tide of the same height on the other side of the Earth is likewise raised.

The opposite of the tidal wave is the ebb tide. It is the sinking of the water in between the two tides (tidal waves from opposite sides of the Earth).

Free Photo Editing Software

There is a lot of free photo editing software in Web. Unfortunately, most of these come with spyware and viruses. To help you with your search, here are the top picks for safe and free photo editing software.


This is a well-known image editor originally designed for Unix/Linux. It is very similar to Photoshop in that it has a user interface and features that may be likened to that of the premier software. The only drawback is that it’s a volunteer-developed project. This means that software updates and stability could be a potential issue, especially if your computer has a limited compatibility range. Windows users have reported that it works well with Windows OS even though it was designed for another operating system.

Serif Photoplus

Initially, people had to buy this program. The company used to give out previous versions of Serif to market the current version. However, the current fully-functional version may be downloaded free. This program features editable text, image slicing, selection tools, third-party plug-in support, an export optimizer, a red-eye removal tool, smart shapes, and other image enhancing tools. Windows users have reported to have Photoplus working on windows 95, 98, 98 SE, 2000, NT4, and XP.


Pixia is the English version of a popular image editing software from Japan. It features custom brushes, multiple layers for editing, vector- and bitmap-based tools, adjustments for color, lighting, and tone, masking, and various undo/redo tools. However, it doesn’t support saving images in GIF format.

VCW’s Vicman Photo Editor

This photo editor offers editing and painting applications, including gradients, color selections, region selections, and other fancy special effects. Supposedly, its free version was a teaser for users to upgrade to Pro. However, today, the Pro Version stays free.


ImageForge is an image painting and editing tool. Importation from scanners, and devices, like digicams, are of high image quality and it also enables you to apply special effects. Additional features include photo album and slideshow-making. This is a teaser for users to upgrade to ImageForge Pro, and it’s only a little more advanced than Microsoft Paint.

For more information on Free Photo Editing Software read:

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  • Free Newsgroups

    Certain news servers give free public access and newsgroup support. There were more than 100,000 newsgroups as of 2002, and many Internet service providers give access to a particular subset. Many common newsgroups are accessible with most ISPs, although the opportunity to explore other newsgroups is possible with other news servers.

    Various news administrators render their servers open to the public. They can offer this admission to make newsgroups open to users who do not have any means of access, to test their systems, or for independent reasons.

    These websites supply listings of free public news servers:

    • Baloc’s Public News Servers
    • Google’s Public News Servers
    • Public News Server Web Ring
    • Public NTTP Sites
    • Sok’s Public News Servers
    • Specialized Public NTTP News Servers
    • Yahoo’s Public Usenet Sites

    Here are some free public news servers:

    • Doc Thompson’s Open News Servers
    • Doc Thompson’s The Open News Server FAQ

    Add a news server to the News Reader’s server list to access it. A user may have to go through different sites to find a server that is open at the time of access. Some public news servers on the site lists may not be accessible at all times.

    If a user’s Internet service provider does not offer access to the desired newsgroups, and if public news servers are not an alternative, one can obtain access through commercial third-party servers. Access to the Usenet as well as other value-added services is provided at a certain cost. Commercial news server lists can be found in the search engine Yahoo’s category of Usenet Servers – Commercial.


    Universal Image Format (UIF) is a compressed disc image format that can create, edit, and extract disc image files. MagicISO is a password-protected program that can be encrypted. In addition, UIF can provide backup for multi-session Audio-CD, CD/DVD, VCD, SVCD, and DVD/Video formats.

    Using UIF to create backup files for CD/DVD has certain advantages over ISO Image, ZIP, RAR, and other CD/DVD formats.

    UIF reduces the size of an image file, optimizing compression and saving disk sector clusters. It compresses raw data using high-quality compression methods.

    UIF provides security for private CD/DVD data especially for its transmission over the Internet. Through UIF’s encryption and password-protection systems, the said information is protected from unauthorized users such as hackers.

    UIF eliminates the need to restore and extract files and folders to enable the user to access data, unlike RAR, ZIP, or other compression archives. To access file and folder information in UIF, users only need virtual CD/DVD software such as MagicDisc. The process is similar to accessing the original CD/DVD since UIF images are mounted as virtual CDs.

    MagicISO 5.3.199 and latter versions support UIF imaging, thus saving space when creating CD/DVD backup files or CD/DVD images.

    Steps to Create a UIF Image

    1. Run the MagicISO program.

    2. Drag and drop the file/s or folder/s from the browser to the ISO panel.

    3. Click the button.

    4. Choose the Universal Image Format (*.uif) as the format.

    5. Enable password protection and enter a password to encrypt and protect the image file.

    6. Select from one of the three compression options:

    • Default: a balance between compression level and compressing/decompressing speed.
    • Best Compress: the maximum compression ratio
    • Best Speed: the fastest compression rate

    7. Click the “Save” button to finish creating a UIF image.


    UTF-8 Definition

    UTF-8, or Unicode Transformation Format-8, is an octet (8-bit) variable-length encoding of Unicode characters. Although UTF-8 can represent any Unicode character, its preliminary encoding of byte codes and character assignments is congruous with ASCII. Because of this attribute, UTF-8 is increasingly becoming the preferred encoding standard for XML.

    The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has mandated all Internet protocols to identify all the encoding used for character data, with the UTF-8 included in its list of supported character encodings. In addition, the Internet Mail Consortium (IMC) advocates that all e-mail programs should display and create mail using the UTF-8 Unicode character encodings.

    UTF-8 Encoding

    UTF-8 encodes each character in 1 to 4 octets, or 8-bit bytes. It takes 1 byte to encode the 128 US-ASCII characters. It takes 2 bytes to encode Latin letters with diacritics and characters from the Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, and Thaana alphabets. It takes 3 bytes to encode the rest of the characters in the Basic Multilingual Plane, which includes commonly used characters. It takes 4 bytes to encode the characters in the other planes of Unicode, which are rarely used.

    Rationale Behind the Design

    The UTF-8 was designed to satisfy the following properties:

    The most significant bit of a 1 byte character is always 0.

    The first byte of a multi-byte sequence determines the length of the sequence. For instance, the most significant bits are 110 for 2-byte sequences, 1110 for 3-byte sequences, and so forth.

    The two most significant bits with the remaining bytes in a multi-byte sequence are 10.

    A UTHF-8 stream contains neither the byte FE or FF to ensure that a UTF-8 stream does not resemble a UTF-16 stream.

    The satisfaction of these properties ensures that no byte sequence of one character will be contained in a longer byte sequence of another character. This allows for the application of byte-wise sub-string matching when searching for a word or a phrase within a text. The satisfaction of these properties also allows for resynchronization at the beginning of the next character in the event of loss or corruption of one or more complete bytes.

    Moreover, the design of the byte sequences decreases the probability for misinterpretation. The probability for a random sequence of bytes to be a valid UTF-8 and not ASCII is 3.1% for a 2-byte sequence, 0.30=8=9% for a 3-byte sequence, and lower for longer sequences.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of UTF-8

    General Advantages

    • Existing ASCII texts need no conversion into UTF-8 as a plain ASCII string is also a valid UTF-8 string.
    • When sorted by standard byte-oriented sorting routines, UTF-8 strings will generate the same result as sorted by Unicode code points.
    • The standard encodings for XML documents are UTF-8 and UTF-16, while all other encodings must be specified, either through a text declaration or externally.
    • Any byte-oriented string or algorithm can be incorporated with UTF-8 data, provided that the inputs consist of UTF-8 characters.
    • The design of the byte sequences decreases the probability for misinterpretation as a string of characters in any other encoding. The probability for misinterpretation decreases as the string length increases.


    • Aside from ASCII characters, the UTF-8 encoding text is large for single-byte encoding.
    • String cutting is easier for single byte per character encodings.

    Convert AVI to DVD

    Converting AVI files to DVD video can be done in a few steps.

    Step 1

    The following preparations and components are required for converting AVI files to DVD format.

    • Your AVI file is the most important component in this process. Make sure you have decided which AVI file to convert. This file should not have any skips and other types of video imperfections.
    • You need to have the subtitles in SRT format if you prefer the AVI with subtitles.
    • A DVD writer should be at hand if you wish to burn the DVD video after the process.

    Step 2

    You need to have the necessary software. These are:

    • a video encoder software;
    • a DVD authoring software;
    • a codec installed on your PC to enable you to play DVD files; and
    • a subtitle encoding software if your AVI file has subtitles.

    Step 3

    Determine the file details of your AVI file. You can do this by opening the file using the codec software you installed. The type of video encoder used and the type of audio compression are the details you would need.

    If your AVI has subtitles, you then have to load the SRT file in the subtitle software and save the SRT file to a SUB file.

    Step 4

    Convert the AVI to a DVD format. You would normally have to launch the video encoder software and load the AVI file. Specify the video format. You can choose between DVD–NTSC and DVD–PAL. Next, identify the resolution of the file. Choose 7220 x 480 if you select DVD–NTSC, 720 x 576 if you are using DVD-PAL.

    After you specify the destination for your DVD file, you are now ready to start converting. The length of time to convert an AVI file to DVD format depends on the size of the AVI file.

    Step 6

    When the process is done, you can burn the DVD video to a DVD disc. For this purpose, use the DVD authoring software you have installed.

    Additional Reading on AVI to DVD

    Convert AVI to WMV

    Converting AVI to WMV can be done in a few steps:

    Step 1

    Find a software tool used to convert video files. You can search for these programs on the Internet. Some of these applications are free; others may require you to purchase them.

    Step 2

    Once you have found a software tool that converts video files, you need to properly install it. During the installation, the setup manager may ask you if you want to associate the software with certain video files. Make sure that AVI and WMV are selected in the list of options.

    Step 3

    Open the software program. The exact procedure may vary depending on the application you installed. There are, however, a set of general file conversion steps applied in most applications.

    Step 4

    Once the software has been loaded, it may have an option which would enable you to open the window where you may convert files. This option may be accessed through a button or in one of the programs menus.

    Step 5

    Choose the AVI file you want to convert. The software may give you an option to browse your folders to find the AVI file. If it asks for the file format, you need to indicate .avi so the browser can find the AVI file. There are software programs that allow you to select more than one file and convert them one after the other. Others let you convert one AVI file at a time.

    Step 6

    Specify the output format as WMV, then select the destination folder for your output file.

    Step 7

    Finally, you can click on the convert button. If your AVI file is large, it may take several minutes to convert.

    Additional Reading on Convert AVI to WMV

    Global Catalog

    The global catalog is a searchable repository of distributed data. It contains a partial representation of each object in a given domain. The said domain has to be in a multi-domain active directory forest.

    Devices known as domain controllers store the data in the global catalog. These domain controllers have been specified as global catalog servers. The global catalog data within these controllers is distributed via multi-master replications.

    The global catalog presents unique features to the system. This type of repository enables users to search for objects within a domain without having to know the domain name. Also, the global catalog is automatically created and updated by the system that manages the active directory replication. This ensures that accurate results are provided every time searches are performed. Aside from this, the global catalog does not refer to another server when used.

    The global catalog is essential to the occurrence of a number of system events. In the user log-in process, the global catalog is required to provide the domain controllers with the IDs of the group in which the user is a member. The global catalog is also useful in group caching and updating. In sites that enable group caching, domain controllers contact the global catalog to cache group memberships and ensure that the cache is updated. Lastly, the global catalog is used in address book searches of e-mail client software. For instance, when a user creates a new e-mail and enters an address in the “To:” field, the global catalog instantly looks for matches in the global address book or other address lists.

    Free Xbox Live Codes

    Xbox Live is an online digital media delivery and multi-player gaming service developed and managed by Microsoft Corporation.

    It was first introduced with the Xbox video game console. An updated version of the gaming service was made available for the Xbox 360 console. It comes in two versions, the Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Live Silver. In addition, each country has its specific pricing regulation to play the game.

    Xbox Live Features

    Xbox Live comes with several features including:

    • game accomplishments earned during gameplay;
    • friends list consisting of up to 100 of the player’s chosen friends;
    • recent player list displaying the last 50 players a user has played with;
    • customizable avatars that can be used during specific games;
    • mottos that can be displayed on the gamers’ profiles;
    • reputation rating voted on by other gamers.
    • gamer scores displaying the player’s total points;
    • the Xbox Guide, seen on the left side of the screen and can be opened at any time for easy access to common features;
    • voice chat requiring a wireless or wired headset;
    • video chat requiring Live Vision camera and headset for chatting (Gold membership only);
    • Windows Live messenger integration;
    • multi-player online gameplay (Gold membership only);
    • complaint filing system, enabling gamers to report gamers who have violated the Xbox Live Terms of Use;
    • access to Xbox Live Marketplace content, including new games, movies, and other game content;
    • Bio section, where the player can list personal interests, URLs, and many more; and
    • parental controls to limit children’s exposure to other users. It is applicable in Family Settings.

    Finding Free Xbox Live Codes

    Xbox Live is an expensive online game but there are ways of getting it and being part of the Xbox Live community for free. These are as follows:

    1. Free trial given with a game

    There are Xbox Live games offering free trials. However, they generally last for only 48 hours and require you to buy the game after the 48 hours.

    2. Giveaways

    Some Xbox Live sellers offer giveaways, but they are usually for a particular game and may last only for 48 hours.

    3. Microsoft freebies

    Microsoft sometimes offers free weekends for official members who want to play their games online, but for a certain number of hours only. These free weekends are rarely given and are usually sponsored by some corporate organization.

    However, Microsoft also offers other incentives such as the Microsoft Diamond card, given to all Microsoft subscribers.

    4. Xbox Live Free Trial on Xbox

    Xbox Live may also offer a Two-Month Free Trial Card containing everything a player needs to play free Xbox Live for two whole months. You can perform the following steps in order to get started playing Xbox Live for free:

    a. You need to get access to a broadband Internet service or any high-speed Internet connection service.

    b. You can find the subscription code that guarantees a Two-Month Free Trial at the base of the card. Look for other especially marked live-enabled games such as Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, Star Wars Battlefront, and Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes.

    c. Connect to Xbox Live and create your own account. Choose a method that will work well for you before signing up to create your trial account. The trial account is immediately established containing two free gaming sessions on Xbox Live.

    This free trial is only valid for two months. When your subscription ends, you need to pay to continue using Xbox Live. You cannot use multiple trial cards to extend your free trials beyond two months.

    5. Free trial codes through websites

    There are numerous websites where you can get free Xbox Live codes. Some sites will reward you with free codes only after you have filled in some questionnaires or surveys or played some other games offered on their site.

    Other sites require you to register and create a log-in name and a password to get access to their free Xbox Live codes.

    Here are some of the different websites you can visit for free Xbox Live codes:

    • Xbox;
    • Free Zone Rewards;
    • Game Zone;
    • Xbox free Zones;
    • Box Deal;
    • Team Box Forum;
    • Gaming Lagoon;
    • Invision Free Site 2; and
    • Invision Free Site 1.

    Additional Resources for Free XBox Live Codes

    SAS 70

    SAS 70 or Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70, is the set of standards an auditor must use to audit and evaluate a service organization’s contracted internal controls. These standards have been developed since 1988 and are maintained by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). After each audit, the auditor would release a report called the “Service Auditor’s Report.”

    A service organization is a business organization or entity which offers outsourcing services that greatly affect the control environment of customers. Examples of service organizations are clearing houses, contracting enterprises, insurance claim processors, and hosted data centers.

    SAS 70 is not merely a checklist of auditing basics; it is a meticulous and methodical audit used mainly as a respected guidance. Today, it is a very useful and significant auditing tool that illustrates transparency to the businesses that the service organization deals with.

    Moreover, SAS 70 reveals to the prospective clients of a service organization that the organization has been comprehensively assessed. After passing SAS 70, an organization is considered to have sufficient safeguards and controls either when hosting specific information or dealing out information such as the data of the organization’s customers.

    The popularity of SAS 70 has progressively grown with the realization of the Sarbanes-Oxley (Sarbox) Act. The Sarbox Act emphasizes the significance of employing SAS 70 as a vital resource to display the efficiency of the data security safeguards and internal controls of a service organization.

    There are two types of SAS 70 reports:

  • Type I describes the degree to which the service organization characterizes its services about the controls executed in operations. It also describes how the organization sets to accomplish the objectives that are laid out.
  • Type II is similar to the first type, but with an additional section. This part incorporates the service auditor’s judgment on how efficient controls functioned during the defined period of the review (usually 6 months or more)
  • It should be noted that the Type II is more comprehensive because of the auditor’s opinion.The first type merely gives a list of the controls, but Type II evaluates how effective these controls were to guarantee that these controls are performing correctly. Because Type II is more thorough; hence, it is usually more expensive.

    Additional Reading on SAS 70