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First Published: Tue, Nov 25 2008. 11 22 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Nov 25 2008. 11 22 PM IST
When you boot up your XP desktop, have you noticed the pop-up above the system tray that says: “Updates are ready for your computer. Click here to install these updates.” There is no indication as to who is providing these updates. How do you find out?
If the pop-up balloon is directly over a small yellow shield icon in the Windows XP taskbar, the entity providing the updates is Microsoft itself, with its Windows Updates service. Right click on the shield icon to see a box that tells you how many system updates Windows wants to install.
The Updates box offers two choices: Express Install or Custom Install. Choosing Express Install tells Windows to install everything without bothering you about the details. Clicking on Custom Install, however, gives you a list of all the updates, more information about what each one does and the option to skip installing certain ones.
The settings for Updates can be adjusted by going to the Start menu, then to Control Panel, and by opening the Security Center icon. Microsoft has more information about using the updates. Find more information at J.D. BIERSDORFER
The new version of Adobe Photoshop CS4 is stuffed with new features and enhancements, but what does it offer photographers? Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Photoshop product manager at Adobe, tells you what photographers (and Photoshop jocks) are most excited about in the new version. Here are his picks:
Camera RAW 5: The Camera RAW plug-in enables users to read at least 200 proprietary RAW files, but the buzziest new feature is the ability to read JPEG and TIFF files as well. This enables you to apply a single filter or adjustment to a batch of mixed RAW and JPEG or TIFF files.
Graphics acceleration: The Bridge CS4 utility now uses the computer’s graphics card for acceleration, which will sharply speed up performance. Many computers in the last couple of years have shipped with beefier graphics cards, in part because of the demand of Windows Vista. This feature takes advantage of those more powerful cards to display images faster and to provide smooth zooming. Note while GPU support gives the perception of speed, it’s not a replacement for adequate amounts of RAM.
64-bit support: Photoshop CS4 now supports 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, which can recognize as much RAM as you can strap on to your PC’s motherboard. So if you have 64-bit Vista, you’ll get faster performance by adding RAM.
Ease of use: Adobe aimed to simplify common procedures by determining the best way to carry out a task and bringing it to the top of the user interface. And that means you can make tweaks without going deep into the menu subsystem. For example, a task such as adjusting skin tone is now quick and easy, and the application remains “live” while you do so.
Content-aware scaling: If you follow photo-editing applications, you’ve probably seen demos of Photoshop CS4’s new content-aware scaling (if you haven’t, here’s the demo candy). The whiz factor is sky-high, but you can also use content-aware scaling to achieve more mundane objectives, like making an 11x17 inch photo fit into an 11x14 inch frame, or scaling images to fit on your cellphone. Rik Fairlie
Just as a flu shot can help avoid misery later in the season, a little preventive maintenance on the computer can help stop lurking system problems such as low disk space or damaged drivers from becoming real headaches. Windows Vista can generate its own diagnostic System Health Report that points out potential problems. To receive the report, type “Performance” in the search bar on the Vista Start menu and click on Performance and Information Tools. Click on the Advanced Tools item and then on Generate a System Health Report. After about a minute of data gathering, Windows Vista gives the full report on screen. J.D. BIERSDORFER
©2008/ The New York Times
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First Published: Tue, Nov 25 2008. 11 22 PM IST