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April 2004 Archive

Show Recaps on this page
April 28, 2004  April 21, 2004   April 14, 2004   April 7, 2004 

For a full list of all archived shows, see the Archives page.

 April 28, 2004 Show

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In the News

Currently there are no taxes on Internet connections such as DSL and cable modems. This however, is due to expire. The US House of Representatives has approved making the tax ban permanent, but the Senate is still debating it. Joe mentioned that nine states used to tax Internet access accounts and they wanted to be grandfathered. Also, VOIP is complicating the issue. 
Update: The day after the show, the Senate voted to extend the tax ban. They did not change whether or not states may tax voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
  Net-access taxes rejected in Senate Mercury News  April 30, 2004
  Senate OKs four-year ban on Net access tax by Declan McCullagh CNET April 29, 2004. 
  Senate Extends Until 2007 Ban on Internet Access Tax New York Times April 30, 2004
  Senate bans Internet taxes  The Associated Press April 29, 2004, 7:42 PM EDT

Nine congressmen, including two from New York (Reps. Joe Crowley and Steve Israel), took an all-expenses paid trip to India in January. Most of them took along spouses or legislative aides, and some individual tabs exceeded $10,000. The total cost of the trip was $165,000. Joe mentioned an article in today's New York Times that one of the biggest promoters of outsourcing to India is the U.S. Ambassador to India. Joe read a story of a major company looking in the US to hire people to work in India because they are running out of staff there.  
  Pols' $165K India trip upsets workers from the AP. April 27, 2004 
  Send Jobs to India? Some Find It's Not Always Best New York Times April 28, 2004

EFF Launches Patent-Busting Campaign by Matt McKenzie, Developer Pipeline
EFF to Fight Dubious Patents Wired April 19, 2004 

Joe pointed out that Google is getting hacked. That is, people have figured out ways to get their web sites listed at the top of your search results. If you search for the word "jew", the first web site that comes up belongs to white supremacists who hate jews. The bottom line, according to Joe, is that you can't trust the Google results. Michael felt there was another issue here too, that Google refused to do anything about it. In Germany, it is illegal to promote the idea that the Holocaust never occurred. Web sites promoting this are excluded by Google from German search results. This has nothing to do with their paid ads.
   Google caught in anti-Semitism flap April 7, 2004 By David Becker of CNET
  Anti-Semitic site drops off Google April 26, 2004, 2:52 PM PDT By David Becker, CNET A controversial anti-Semitic site has disappeared from Google, but the search site says it had nothing to do with it. 
  Google flap over shows challenge of the digital age By Joe Berkofsky Jewish Telegraphic Agency. April 28, 2004 

As the cost of books is rising and computers falling, a Texas school district signed a deal with IBM to supply ThinkPads with all the textbooks stored digitally in the computers. The schools are faced with a shortage of textbooks and long delays getting new ones. Joe felt that reading a laptop screen was worse on your eyes compared to a book. He also was afraid that this would decrease library use by students. The books on the computers have been approved by the Texas school board. The books in the library have a broader range of opinion. Then too there are ergonomic considerations - excessive laptop use might cause headaches, backaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  Short on books, Texas school uses laptops, April 29, 2004 

Forgent Networks Sues 31 Major Companies Over JPEG Patent April 23, 2004. Forgent Networks filed suit in Federal court against 31 companies for alleged infringement of Forgent's patent on JPEG image compression. 
Forgent Networks sues cos. over patents
Associated Press April 23, 2004

This weekend is the Trenton Computer Festival

For shopping, be prepared ahead of time to know the prices of things you are looking for. Some price comparison web sites are  MySimonPricescanPricegrabber. Hank is a fan of Epinions where you can read the opinions of total strangers. Michael pointed out that CNet and Amazon also have opinions. Everyone agreed that these comments are quite useful in making buying decisions. 

Joe uses Copernic for his price comparison shopping. It's not a web site, but a free program you download and install on your computer. Copernic does a meta search, that is, it searches multiple search engines. 

Joe asked listeners that use Instant Messaging software to let us know (via email) the software they use. Different Instant Messaging programs can not yet talk to each other and he is considering using IM while the show is on the air. 

Caller Questions

Bob asked how much difference does the memory (RAM) speed make to the performance of a computer? Hank responded that slow memory can slow down the processor. DDR (double data rate) memory should be matched to the speed of the front side bus. If it doesn't match, the processor runs slower.

He also asked about dual channel memory. This type of RAM requires two memory chips to be in the motherboard at the same time. They must be the exact same product from the same manufacturer. With dual channel memory, one memory operation can sometimes start before another has finished. l Theoretically this yields a 5 to 10 percent performance boost. 

 April 21, 2004 Show

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In the News

Tim Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the World Wide Web (not the Internet, just the web) was awarded the inaugural Millennium Technology Prize by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. Mr. Lee did not cash in on the web, but made the protocol (HTTP) freely available. In recognition of his contribution, he will receive about 1.2 million dollars. 
  Web Inventor Recognized PC World magazine  April 19, 2004

Nick Holonyak Jr. discovered light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. Today they are used in everything from DVDs to alarm clocks to the NASDAQ stock billboard in New York to traffic lights. He was awarded $500,000 by MIT. At the time he worked for Bell Labs which was devoted to pure research. A discussion of who, if anyone, is doing pure research now followed. 
  Lemelson-MIT Recognizes Inventor of LED Associated Press in Newsday April 21, 2004

Earth day/week is coming up. In accordance with this HP is offering a sale on their computer recycling services. During April, if you recycle a computer with HP, they will send you a coupon worth up to $100 towards the purchase of new HP equipment on their web site. HP typically charges between $17 and $46 for its recycling services, depending on the product. Under this special offer, the company will arrange pickup at your home. 

Dell also has a sale on their recycling, offering to recycle up to three items, weighing up to 50 pounds, for only $5. Dell normally charges $15 per 50 pounds. This offer is available for "a limited time" and also includes a 10 percent discount on a purchase from the Dell Software & Peripherals Web site.
   HP bolsters Earth Day recycle offer By John G. Spooner CNET March 30, 2004

After the show, Hewlett-Packard announced that they will offer a discount of $50 on the Pocket PC if you turn in your old personal digital assistants.
   HP goes green with handheld discount By Dinesh Sharma CNET April 23, 2004 

Sunday, April 25th, 2004 will be the second annual Earth Day Event at Union Square North Plaza in Manhattan. Come and donate electronic waste from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They even accept dead batteries! For more, see the Announcements page.

Lindows is in the process of changing their name to Linspire. As part of this, they are offering a free download of the Lindows OS which normally sells for $50. According to this story  It's Official: Lindows Is Dead, Long Live "Linspire" from the LinuxWorld News Desk, you go to the normal Lindows order page and then enter the secret code which we mentioned on the air. The download however, requires you to have the BitTorrent peer-to-peer system installed on your computer. 

Nextel started offering wireless broadband in North Carolina's Research Triangle. They took a trial, based on technology from Flarion Technologies called Flash OFDM, and extended it into a full service to be called Nextel Wireless Broadband. The coverage area is 1,300 square miles. The speed is said to be 1.5 Mbps with bursts up to 3 Mbps downstream and uplink speeds are around 375 kbps with bursts up to 750 kbps. Prices range between $34.99 to $74.99 a month. Nextel did not reveal future plans for the service. The network supports mobile users, so if you are using it a car, for example, it will automatically jump from cell to cell. 

Tests by RCR wireless showed average network speeds of around 950 kilobits per second. In contrast, they found Verizon Wireless’ EV-DO network to run at 329 kbps on average. AT&T Wireless Services Inc.’s EDGE network runs at about 111 kbps. Sprint PCS’ 1x-based network runs at about 101 kbps.  

Report from NAB

Joanne Witt joined us by phone to report on the National Association of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas. The NAB Show is an annual gathering of electronic media professionals showcasing: content creation, management, and delivery tools, trends, and technologies for radio, television, film, video, streaming media, telecommunications and the Internet. 

Joanne has over twenty years of experience with information technology. She is currently consulting at HP, working with smaller companies and
teaching EBUS Marketing at University of Phoenix in Houston, TX. Her report follows: 

NAB bills itself as the “the world’s largest conference and exhibition for the electronic media.” Attendance was over 97,500 people, although that may have been overstated, traffic normally flowed smoothly but the main corridors were jammed.

To give you a prospective on the attendance, in contrast COMDEX (which use to be the largest computer trade show in the world) is only expecting about 45,000 people this fall in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention Center, all three buildings and the Hilton Hotel next store was filled with trade show booths and numerous break out sessions. The place was humming with excitement as the mostly middle aged engineers ran around anxious to visit their favorite suppliers.

NAB is actually addressing three constituencies; engineers who operate the equipment such as cameras and sound boards, pre and post production engineers and engineers that operate the back office equipment. I learned a lot about this industry and found out how much more I had to learn (isn’t that always the case, as we acquire knowledge?) This is an industry in transition – the Broadcast Industry is experiencing rapid change. 

First, the industry is moving quickly from Analog to Digital - that represents a major step. By 2006 all transmissions will need to be made in Digital format. While there are 3 major formats today:
  -> NTSC -National Television System Committee – this is the one in the USA
  ->SECAM -Sequential Color And Memory
  -> PAL - Phase Alternating Line 
there are a multitude of variations. See  for a good explanation of these major formats. This is necessitating an investment in new equipment and revamping of the way transmissions will be received and transmitted.

Second, the pre and post production costs have gone dramatically down. Equipment that is easily affordable and available to amateur users can develop digital content.

Thirdly, the back office has a growing need for more and more storage. SANs (Storage Area Networks) and NAS (Network Attached Storage) are becoming standard requirements for the storage of video and streaming audio.

I went to the show with the thesis that we are experiencing a convergence of the traditional Computer Industry with the Broadcast Industry. If one of the major computer firms’ CEO was speaking, this seemed plausible.

Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard gave the keynote address. She emphasized the rapid change in the Broadcast industry saying it is analogous what the computer industry has and continuous to experience. Other prominent computer companies included; IBM, Microsoft, Adobe, EMC, and Macromedia – I am sure there were others, but with 1,400 booths who could walk the entire show floor? 

The remaining question is did I see a convergence? The answer: not yet, what I saw was more of an overlap. It is apparent that most of the sophisticated uses of computer technology is going on in the Hollywood production houses. The real question is: what is to come. I say, let’s wait and see. The future of free TV and radio versus pay still remains an important question and will content be the differentiator? I think so, what about you? 

For more information about NAB Show 2004 go to:

Caller Questions

John has an HP laptop with Windows XP. He has had to re-install Windows XP twice due to assorted crashes and re-apply all the patches each time. He asked if there was a way to back up the computer after he re-built it so that the next time he would not have to start all over from scratch. The answer is yes. John needs to backup the partition that Windows lives in. This can be done either using disk imaging software such as Ghost, Drive Image or True Image Deluxe or with partitioning software such as Partition Magic. Hank uses an external hard disk to hold the backup. You can also back up an entire partition to CDs or DVDs (but not with Partitioning software). 

A caller ordered the Microsoft Security Update CD, which has all the bug fixes for Windows as of February 2004. He has heard that after applying some bug fixes Windows XP slows down drastically and asked if that was a problem with Windows ME also, which he uses. Michael said the slowdown issue only applied to Windows XP, not to Windows ME. Michael warned that before applying any patches to Windows you should disable your anti-virus program. After applying the patches, reboot and then re-enable your anti-virus program. This applies not only to the Security Update CD but also to Windows Update. Joe pointed out that this CD only gets you patches as of February 2004. After using this CD, you still have to use Windows Update to fill in the blanks, that is, to get the bug fixes (patches) released since February. Hank mentioned that before installing any software updates you should back up your most important files. Michael pointed out that prior to installing patches (bug fixes) was a great time to back up the Windows partition (see above). 

Update: The Windows Security Update CD is no longer available for ordering. Instead go to Microsoft's Protect Your PC page where you can order a free CD with Windows XP Service Pack 2. November 11, 2004. 

Harold asked about an email message that Microsoft will pay people to forward. This is a lie. A scam. It's done just to see how many people are gullible. This one is pretty old. Joe suggested which tracks urban legends like this. There is no way for Microsoft to track your email. Any email message that tells you to forward it to everyone you know is almost definitely a fraud. 

Richard can not open Word. Alfred thinks he has a corrupt "" template. Search your hard drive for a file by this name and rename it. 

 April 14, 2004 Show

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Researchers have found security holes in the online virus scans of McAfee, Panda and Symantec. It was claimed that a buffer overflow problem could result in your computer being compromised. Panda has fixed the problem, Symantec denied there was a problem (they are the publishers of Norton Anti-Virus and Norton Internet Security). McAfee found the problem and fixed it. Trend Micro's online virus scan, Housecall, was not said to have any problems. It is available at

Our guest was Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, an expert on electronic voting. Her web site is Notable Software which has a page dedicated to information on electronic voting. Dr. Mercuri was last on our show February 11, 2004. For some background see

VoteHere Inc has published their voting machine software on the Internet. Dr. Mercuri felt it was a publicity stunt. It is not really open source, you have to sign a licensing agreement to see the software. See for yourself. There is no guarantee that what you see on their web site is what is actually used in any of their voting machines. There could be problems in the compiler, even if the programs are perfect. The OS running the program can have problems. Michael pointed out that fudging can happen in the process of accumulating the data, even if the voting machine is perfect. She warned that their own company got hacked.

Dr. Mercuri will be the keynote speaker at the Trenton Computer Festival, May 1, 2004 and May 2, 2004.

Yesterday was the second Tuesday of the month and therefore the day Microsoft released the latest crop of bug fixes. There were 6 critical flaws fixed for Windows XP, 5 for Windows 98. Hank ran Windows Update early and only found 3 critical flaws for XP.

The cost of DSL is going to rise. There is a "surcharge" that the DSL companies have been eating up to now. They have now decided to start passing it along to their customers. Initially, the charge will take effect in June and only on the east coast.

A new study reported that 3 out of every 4 U.S. adults use computers. Two thirds of them use the Internet.

How much SPAM does AOL block a day? One and a half billion messages.

Apple Probes Reports of IPod Mini Static Newsday April 15, 2004 

Apple Cuts Price on Entry-Level Macintosh Computer April 13, 2004. Apple will upgrade the lowest-priced Macintosh computers, the eMac line of all-in-one machines. The $999 model will now have a G4 processor running at 1.25 GHz, an 80 GB hard disk and a DVD burner. The $799 model has a combination DVD reader/CD burner, 40 GB hard disk and the same processor. Both models have 256 MB of ram, USB 2.0 ports (which are fairly new on Macs) and FireWire ports.

Google is planning on offering a gigabyte of storage for a new web based email system, currently known as Gmail (the name is expected to change in the future). In return for this huge amount of storage space, they will read your email so they can present ads relevant to the content of the message. While this might be considered a fair tradeoff, as long as they are up-front about it, Joe pointed out that people who send you email have no idea the messages will be parsed for the purpose of serving up ads. 

The big fear is that they can now associate your email address with your interests. Joe refuses to use it, even to send email to someone else who uses the Google Gmail system. Yahoo email also serves up ads, but the ads are not associated with the specific content of each message. 

The Great Springtime Electro-Recycling:  Sunday, April 25th, 2004 will be the second annual Earth Day Event at Union Square North Plaza in Manhattan. Come and donate electronic waste from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They even accept dead batteries! For more, see the Announcements page.

Caller Questions

Blake asked about copying a PowerPoint file from a Mac to a Windows XP computer. It did not fit on a floppy disk and there was a problem with incompatible formats when he burned it to a CD on the Mac. Alfred suggested emailing it to himself. Another option is to copy it using a USB keychain flash drive. Finally, it might fit on a floppy disk if the file is compressed. You can use Stuffit on the Mac to compress the PowerPoint file, but be sure to compress it using the zip format. Windows XP can read zip files directly. PowerPoint files sometimes compress by 60% to 90%. Another option is from DataViz which makes programs called Conversions Plus and MacOpener for opening files from one Operating System on another Operating System. 

A caller asked about Norton Anti-Virus 2004. The story we mentioned earlier in the show was just about the online virus scans done from a web site. It did not relate to anti-virus software that you install on your computer. Still, Michael suggested checking is Computer Gripes web site for a heads up on the reported problems with Norton Anti-Virus 2004. Also, be sure to run Live Update manually after installing NAV and keep running it until there are no more updates. 

Online virus scans are free and offered on the web site of many companies that make anti-virus software. The one often recommended here is Housecall from Trend Micro. The only problem with an online scan is that you can get infected with a virus five minutes after the scan shows your computer is virus free. 

He also asked about purchasing extra RAM for his computer. Kingston is having a sale now. Alfred suggested buying it now as the prices for RAM are expected to go up.  

Jeffrey wants to save web pages on his laptop computer so that he can read them when his computer is not connected to the Internet. He does not have a printer and Alfred suggested that he can print web pages at Kinkos as long as he has a printer driver installed on his computer. Better still, he would like to save the pages on his computer. In Internet Explorer you can save a single web page using File -> Save As. Jeffrey complained that this only save the HTML, he wants the pictures too. Michael said that IE has four options for how the "Save As" function works and suggested saving the web page in "mht" format (use the Save As Type drop-down list box). This is called a Web Archive by IE and it saves the web page as a single file, including all the pictures. 

Kevin has a friend who purchased a new Dell computer with a Celeron processor. When someone told her the Celeron was a "garbage chip", she returned the computer. We all agreed this was a big mistake. A Celeron is just fine. 

Shawn gets on the Internet using a hand-held PDA and pointed out that Barnes and Noble has free WiFi access in their stores (at least the ones he has been in). This was news to us. He asked if they can see what he is doing on the Internet. Yes they can. Also be aware that email is as secure as a post card. 

 April 7, 2004 Show


The show was pre-empted this week.

During the week, Bill asked via email for a recommendation on a program to back-up his data files.

  • he two features most important to me are:
     (1) Backing up of only new and modified versions of selected folders and files, to a re-writable medium (currently a CD-R/W) that contains all of the selected folders and files. The CD-R/W thereby always contains the latest versions of all those items, but each backup need be only incremental;
     (2) A housekeeping feature that notifies me when a file is found only on the backup medium, and gives me the choice of (A) doing nothing, (B) 
    copying the file to the hard disk, or (C) deleting the backup file. 
    Do you know of any commercial programs that provide those features?

Michael replied:  Look into Replicator by Karen Kenworthy at It does exactly what you want and its free. I have used it for quite a while. At run time though, it does not ask you about files that exist only on the backup medium. Instead there is a configuration option for how to deal with this situation that you can set for each backup "job".

Webmaster:  Michael Horowitz            Page Last Updated:  May 21, 2004