April 2005  Show Summaries

Show Recaps on this page
  April 27, 2005  April 20, 2005  April 13, 2005  April 6, 2005     


 April 27, 2005 Show



In The News 

Bill Gates said Microsoft is having difficulty filling computer jobs in the United States as a result of limits on the number of H1B visas and on declining interest among U.S. students in computer science. While in Washington, DC, Gates asked the resident politicians relax visa restrictions, so that more foreign workers could be hired to fill technology jobs. Tighter restrictions were imposed after 9/11. We all agreed that the H1B program is abused and is used to hire foreign workers for all sorts of jobs, not just technology related jobs.
   Gates: End limit on H-1Bs from the AP April 28, 2005

Be careful how you type Google.com. Better yet, stick to Bookmarks/Favorites. F-Secure warned that if you go to Googkle.com, your computer will be infested with all sorts of malicious software.
    F-Secure Virus Descriptions : Googkle

You can't buy computer products without encountering rebates. They can be hard to obtain, fill out and file and it may be months until you get a check back in the mail, if you ever get one.  

Our guest was Deb Shinder, editor of the WinXPnews newsletter from Sunbelt Software. In the January 11, 2005 issue of the newsletter, she wrote an article called The Rebate Hassle: Is it Worth It?. This was followed-up in the January 18th edition with: Follow-up: The Rebate Debate where she discussed reader feedback on the first article. There was little consensus regarding which stores or manufacturers come through with their rebates and which ones don't. But, the most complaints were about Symantec's rebates. Great reading about both good and bad rebate experiences. 

Michael has documented his Rebate Gripes including those that arrived on-time and those that did not. His experience has been 28 arrived on time, 20 arrived late and two were incorrectly rejected. 

Almost all the callers wanted to discuss rebates, this topic must have hit a nerve.  

 April 20, 2005 Show



In The News 

Apple just released 51 megabytes worth of bug fixes for the latest version of the Mac OS. 

The Firefox web browser was recently upgraded to version 1.0.3. This upgrade fixes about 7 bugs, some of them rated as critical. Anyone using Firefox should upgrade to version 1.0.3. 

Spybot is moving from version 1.3 to 1.4. Hank reported there seem to be no Spyware definition updates available for version 1.3 any more. Version 1.4 is not ready however, it is currently at RC1, a fancy term for there are still bugs in the product. There are many changes to version 1.4. Hank said to do a Google search to find version 1.4 of Spybot. It is available from File Forum

Microsoft just released a "starter edition" of Windows XP in Brazil. The price is not known, in Asia it sells for about $35. The big limitation is that it can only run three programs concurrently. 

Novell delivers Linux package to home PCs  April 20, 2005, CNET News.com

The theft and loss of data files with sensitive customer information continues. If you are concerned about identity theft, the FTC has a web site on it at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ 

Our guest was Steve Iverson, the CEO of Streamload. Streamload is an online file storage company. They provide access to your data files from any Internet connected computer. They offer 10 gigabytes of online storage for free. For as little as $5 a month, they provide unlimited file storage and unlimited uploads. 

Instead of charging for storage used, they charge for downloading files. For $5 a month, you can download 1 GB a month. For $10 a month, the limit is 10 GB of downloads. Steve said this was their most popular plan. Their most expensive plan is $40 a month which provides for 60 GB of downloads. Again, all paid plans offer unlimited storage. The free accounts allow 100 MB of downloads per month. 

Streamload competes with, among other services, the Yahoo Briefcase. Yahoo offers 30 MB of storage for free. Streamload offers 10 GB for free. 

Unlike photo storage web sites, Streamload lets you download your saved pictures in the full, original size and quality. They do not make hard copies of your pictures. They also offer XStreamMail which uploads large files to their servers, from where the recipient of an email message can download it. This gets around the size limitations on files attached to email messages. 

We use Streamload to archive the MP3 audio files of the show. All the shows from 2005 are stored with Streamload. 

See Back Up Online and Share the Wealth by Tom Mainelli, PC World. February 11, 2005

A caller asked about installing Windows XP on a second computer. We all thought this required purchasing a new copy of Windows in a box. Alfred, however, knew that you can buy a second license from Microsoft's web site. No need for another CD. To do this for Windows XP Professional see microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/howtobuy/addlic.mspx. For Windows XP Home Edition see microsoft.com/windowsxp/home/howtobuy/addlic.mspx. Alfred says that not all installations will necessarily qualify for an additional license, but it is not clear what the conditions are. This does not, however, save you any money, just a trip to a computer store. 

A caller asked about SmallDog. We were not familiar with it, but after the show a Mac expert said they have a pretty good reputation as for Mac mail orders.  

 April 13, 2005 Show



Apple will release a new version of the Mac OS on April 29th. They call it Mac OS X 10.4 formally and Tiger informally. It will sell for $129. Quoting from the review below: "Apple Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" is the strongest OS X release yet and a worthy competitor to Windows XP. Though it is marketed by Apple as a major release, Tiger is in fact a minor upgrade with few major new features  ... more akin to what we'd call a service pack in the Windows world"
    Apple Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" Review by Paul Thurrott (normally a Microsoft guy) April 14, 2005 

Our topic was speech recognition technology and we spoke with someone from Scansoft, the makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Olivia discussed online medical resources which she was forced into learning about when someone she knew took ill. 

A state medical board can assist by disclosing if a physician is currently licensed, if disciplinary action has ever been imposed or, in some cases, if disciplinary charges are pending. To find the websites and contact information for any state medical board, visit the Federation of State Medical Boards at www.fsmb.org

To verify if a physician, a physical therapist or massage therapist is licensed in New York State go to www.op.nysed.gov/opsearches.htm

To find out if a physician has had any official complains visit w3.health.state.ny.us/opmc/factions.nsf. The heading of the site is Professional Misconduct and Physician Discipline. To get any results you have to type the Physicians name (Last Name, a space just a space, not a comma, and their first name). If you donít remember how to spell the physicianís name, type first letter of their first name followed by an asterisk. 

The American Board of Medical Specialties at www.abms.org  is another resource you can visit to find out your doctorís educational credentials and their specialty, if they have one. You must register to search this site pr you can call them at 800-621-8335. The service is free. 

You can also go to the The American Medical Association (AMA) Physician Select database at dbapps.ama-assn.org/aps/amahg.htm. This site also 
provides basic information on licensed physicians in the United States. Users can search for physicians by name or by medical specialty. You donít 
have to register to use this site, but there is no telephone service.  The abms (American Board of Medical Specialties) directory is available in most public libraries.

Speaking of Public Libraries, public libraries are an excellent resource. You can visit your local public library online to find out what publications they have available at their location. The New York Public Library's Website has a Health & Medicine category that Olivia found overwhelming at  www.nypl.org/databases/index.cfm?act=2&sub=92

A library in Nashville not only shows all the materials/resources they have available but also has links to the resources they list. This list is a very useful resource to visit and not as overwhelming as the New York Public Libraryís website. See www.library.nashville.org/links/Recommended/Health.html 

From Nashville, Olivia learned about the  American Hospital Directory www.ahd.com which provides online data for over 6,000 hospitals. For Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, it reports on the number of Medicare inpatients, the average length of stay, Average Charges, Address, phone number, web site address and more. 

If you need to find information about a hospital or an address of a hospital, you can also visit Medline Plusís Find A Hospital search engine at apps.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/directories/index.cfm. It seems a lot of sites link to the Medline Plus website at medlineplus.gov. The site has good resources for health topics. All the resources on the site are external links. The categories are latest news, from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) Diagnosis Treatment, Financial Issues Newsletters, Clinical Trials, Statistics and Organizations. 

To test your risk for Heart Disease, Stroke, Osteoporosis, and Cancer you go to www.yourdiseaserisk.harvard.edu 

To find additional information on Cancer, visit www.cancer.gov  the National Cancer Institute. This site offers resources to help you find a doctor who specializes in cancer care cis.nci.nih.gov/fact/7_47.htm

For information on aging vist NIA (National Institute of Aging) www.nia.nih.gov

Lastly, if you are in need of a surgeon, check their credentials at The American College of Surgeons (ACS). Their Membership Database is an online list 
of surgeons who are members of the ACS. The list can be searched by doctorís name, geographic location, or medical specialty. See web.facs.org/acsdir/default_public.cfm

 April 6, 2005 Show



Best Buy has announced that they will be phasing out rebates. We will be doing a show about Rebates on April 27, 2005. 

Current computer hard disks store the bits that underlie everything horizontally. As hard disks increase in capacity, there is a limit to how close the bits can be. Limits bad. To get more data on a hard disk, the next big thing will be making the bits stand up vertically. Will they get tired? Just a bit. Sorry. Toshiba is expected to begin producing vertical bit based 1.8 inch hard drives later this year. Vertical disks are not expected to show up in desktop computers until 2007. 

Google just rolled out a new Satellite image feature as an add-on Google Maps. About six months ago Google purchased Keyhole and this is their first integration of Keyhole satellite images into a Google product. Previously, a basic version of the Keyhole software cost $30. The images are generally six to twelve months old. The satellite images are limited to North America and cover about half the US. 
   Google's fun map site offers aerial photos, smooth pans by Mike Himowitz Baltimore Sun  April 7, 2005 

MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte and some MIT colleagues are trying to make a $100 computer for use in the "developing world". 
   Low-Cost Laptops for Kids in Need  Associated Press April 3, 2005 

New bugs found in Outlook and Internet Explorer. No fixes are available from Microsoft. 

There are bugs in Norton AntiVirus 2004 and 2005. If you run Norton Anti-Virus, be sure to run Live Update manually. NAV is not able to automatically download bug fixes on its own. At least, Symantec, does have fixes.  

Olivia reviewed Degunking Windows by Joli Ballew and Jeff Duntemann. The book is published by Paraglyph Press. Although she felt the book was boring to read, she also called it an excellent resource for someone who has Windows XP and suggested reading it before you need it. Olivia felt the book was best read from chapter to chapter. The book tells you in detail: 

Michael disagreed with the advice to uninstall programs you don't use because sometimes there are un-intended consequences. He felt it best to let sleeping dogs lie (so to speak). Joe mentioned a case where un-installing a program caused such problems he had to re-install Windows. Michael also mentioned that the book does not cover Spyware, perhaps the most common reason for a Windows computer to run slowly. 

One interesting tidbit from the book is that before you delete files from the recycle bin, re-boot Windows. This is just to make sure you haven't deleted something important that might make the system not start-up. The book is specifically written for Windows XP. 

We spoke with Josh Jacobs, the President of X1 about Desktop search products. X1 markets their own branded desktop search program and also provides their software to Yahoo, for the Yahoo desktop search product. Their product sells for $75 and competes with software recently released by Google, Microsoft and many others. One advantage of X1 is that it can index files of many different types, far more than competing programs. 

Desktop search software helps you find information on your computer that you lost track of. Strength of these programs depends on the number of file types they can index. X1 is able to index many file types, including a lot of old ones such as Display Write 2. Josh discussed the difference between their paid product and the free version of their product that Yahoo gives away. 

One potential problem with desktop search programs is resources. They have to read all your files at first and create an index. Afterwards, they have to constantly read your new files and updated files. Josh said that X1 goes to great pains to not do much work while the computer is busy. They do their indexing only when cpu usage is low. 

The free Yahoo Desktop search program is a limited version of X1, Yahoo licenses their software. It is still in beta and only supports Windows XP and 2000. X1 does not offer Mac software. There is a 15 day free trial of X1. 

Desktop Search Matrix A comparison of Desktop Search Tools and Email Search Tools from the Goebel Group Inc. 

Windows desktop search tools By Adam Baratz at ArsTechnica.com. No date.