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December 2002 Archive

Shows  (on this page)
 December 25, 2002  December 18, 2002  December 11, 2002  December 4, 2002 

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

December 25, 2002 Show     RETURN TO TOP

Joe and Alfred had the night off. Sitting in for them were our webmaster Michael Horowitz and Olivia Whiteman. 

In The News: 

Say goodbye to OS/2. The official announcement from IBM: 

Software Withdrawal: Selected Part Numbers of OS/2 Warp V4 and Warp Server for e-business Programs
"Effective March 12, 2003, IBM will withdraw from marketing the part numbers licensed under the IBM International Program License Agreement (IPLA) listed in the Program Withdrawals section. On or after that date, you can no longer obtain these part numbers directly from IBM. You can obtain these part numbers on an as-available basis through IBM authorized remarketers".  

Hank said OS/2 was better than Windows 95 and Windows 98 with true multithreading and multitasking. I recalled reading back when that it was better than Windows NT3. OS/2 was born as an idea in 1987, but did not hit the market until 1993. Hank noted that there were 2,000 OS/2 developers spread over 3 continents which he felt was poor management. I recalled that many IBM Aptivas could not be purchased with OS/2 pre-installed. Tech support for OS/2 will available until December 31, 2004. 

The U.S. government unveiled plans this week for a new "do not call" list for telemarketers. Approval is needed from Congress, so this will not happen immediately. The new federal proposal is similar to lists currently available in 27 states. Fines will be $11,000 per violation. In New York State the current fine is much smaller (Hank thought it was $200). The federal list however will have exceptions: non-profit and political groups. These groups can call you once but have to honor requests not to be called again. For profit companies will also be allowed to call existing companies. 
FTC rules to curb telemarketer calls. Associated Press. December 19, 2002. 

In Mississippi, 125 High School students built 275 PCs from a kit to save the state money. The cost of each PC and a 15 inch monitor was $685 - about half of what the state normally paid. The state of Mississippi is not a good shopper. Olivia felt it was a good thing for students to learn how to build a computer. The machines were loaded with Windows 98, a relatively old and unreliable version of Windows, which Microsoft recently dropped support for. They are also spending a lot of money wiring classrooms in the state. Hank suggested that WiFi might have been a lot cheaper than wires.   

The Defense Department is warning that wireless networking technology could interfere with military radar systems. There are no actual cases yet of interference, but they claim it might jam up to 10 different types of radar systems. They want the private-sector WiFi players to tweak the technology so it won't jam the radio frequencies the military uses. Industry players worry that government limits on WiFi could stymie further innovation. There are now 16 million WiFi uses. Microsoft and Intel were among the companies that met last week with the Defense Department to try and iron out any differences. Changes mandated in the U.S. will not be enforceable in other countries.   
Limits Sought on Wireless Internet Access The New York Times. December 16, 2002. 

Substitute host Olivia Whiteman teaches a certificate program in eCommerce at Columbia and an online Java programming class at the New School. The eCommerce certificate includes Java and databases.  

Our other substitute host tonight, Michael Horowitz, teaches Defensive Computing at the Continuing Education Division of Hunter College. The course focuses on being prepared for the inevitable problems that always creep into personal computing. Much of the course covers standard safe computing topics: backups, firewalls, anti-virus programs and anti-Spyware programs. Also covered are surge protectors and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSs). 

It was noted that a solid light is often used to indicate that surge protection is functioning. A blinking light or no light may indicate that the device is no longer protecting from electrical surges (be sure to read any documentation that comes with the surge protector). As Hank put it, what used to be a surge protector is now an extension cord. All surge protectors have a limited life span. However, the life span will vary based on how many surges they have to absorb. At some point, they lose the ability to absorb any more surges. Some surge protectors will indicate when they have lost their protective capacity, others will not. 

Reflecting on the past year we discussed lumps of coal - where the consumer has gotten the sort end of the stick - and nuggets of gold - where the consumer benefited. 

Olivia felt that Flash and pop-up ads on the Internet were lumps of coal. She likes booking online travel arrangements on the Internet, and searching online for information from the government and financial information. 

Michael nominated computer articles in the New York Times for lumps of coal. He felt there were too many technical mistakes and cited the Circuits section from last Thursday as having an article with three technical mistakes in a single paragraph. It seems as if no one reviews the computer articles for technical accuracy. Some of their mistakes (not all) are documented on his Computer Gripes web site. Hank felt that some articles in the Times have been misleading. Specifically, a new Macintosh form factor was said to have been invented by Apple, when IBM had previously marketed a machine with a similar form factor. 

Michael also called technical support a perennial lump of coal. His example was Norton AntiVirus 2003, one of the more popular programs for PCs. The vendor, Symantec, no longer offers any free technical support with the product (although you can return it within the first 60 days for your money back). Olivia noted that many things that used to be free are no longer, and felt that tech support is just part of this trend. Hank noted that most, if not all of the free ISPs are now gone. For an interesting take on this see What's Wrong with Tech Support? by Scot Finnie in the December 9, 2002 issue of his free newsletter. 

Hardware is the other end of the spectrum, certainly a nugget of gold this year, if for nothing else, declining prices. Michael felt that USB  based keychain storage devices were the greatest things since sliced bread. Starting at around $30, he felt they are great for backups and transferring files. Hank was not so enthused, calling them a gimmick, no different from a flash card you put into an adapter. 

Another device that has gained in popularity this year are external hard disks. Connecting via USB2 and Firewire they are now much faster than previous models that depended on slower connections. They offer huge amounts of storage space at relatively cheap prices and are great for backups.

Speaking of backups, Hank noted that he had done a backup earlier in the day and asked his co-hosts the last time they had run a backup. Michael had not done one in too long, but it just so happens, ran a backup earlier in the day. Olivia admitted to being paranoid and backing up constantly to multiple media. 

Hank uses GoBack to save him from times when you are working on something and make it worse. GoBack lets you restore files to the way they were a few minutes ago. It constantly runs in the background of your computer and copies all files as they are being changed. It logs the changes so they can be rolled back. Strictly speaking GoBack is not a backup program and should be supplemented by using a normal backup program.

Hank recalled that he had a fire a few years ago and advised not to keep your backups next to the computer. Michael noted that in his class he teaches that the best backups are those the farthest from the original computer.

Michael mentioned that Word and Excel can be configured to automatically make a copy of a document/spreadsheet as soon as you start working on it. A poor mans version of GoBack. Hank offered some advice he has mentioned previously on the air: backup, backup, backup. Good advice. 

To retrieve data from a hard disk gone bad you can send the disk to either DriveSavers or OnTrack. Expect to pay anywhere from $95 to $5,000 to get your files back, if you can get them back at all. Often the cost is between $400 and $1,200. More if the hard disk is in really bad shape, such as if it was burnt in a fire. DriveSavers charges no money up front for its services. If the data cannot be recovered, they charge an attempt fee of $200. Their average successful recovery costs $700. Before getting to this point, try the disk repair programs in Symantec's Norton Utilities and Norton System Works or in OnTrack's Fix-It Utilities. 

Caller Questions: 

Charles is an amateur doing some web site development and asked for advice on how to proceed. Olivia said that DreamWeaver hides HTML from the user and is a good program for web page development. 

Ray has a Windows Me computer with assorted problems. Hank suggested running a full virus scan. If you don't have a current anti-virus program with the latest virus definitions, this can be done from by clicking on HouseCall. He also suggested preventing programs from running at boot time by using program MSCONFIG and noted that Windows 98 and XP are better versions of the Operating System than Windows Me. Michael advised running Ad-aware to check for and remove Spyware programs. 

Following up on surge protectors, a caller asked about getting a better one. Michael recommend two companies for surge protectors, voltage regulators and Uninterruptible Power Supplies: APC and Tripplite. In general, he said, you get what you pay for and would not spend less than $30. Hank has an $80 voltage regulator that also handles surges. Some UPSs can do all three jobs: surge protection, voltage regulation and battery backup. These start at about $150.   

Julia has a notebook computer with 32 meg of ram running Windows 98. She asked about printers requiring 64 megabytes of ram. Hank said that any printer should run fine with her 32 meg of ram. However, when it comes to an all-in-one device (printer, fax, scanner, and possibly more) Hank suggested checking with the manufacturer. 

A caller asked about playing Internet radio and web browsing on a handheld PDA, either a pocket PC or Palm based device. Hank felt the screens are too small for web browsing. Michael said that you need an Internet connection of around 30 Kbps for streaming audio and Hank felt that it was not really possible.  

December 18, 2002 Show     RETURN TO TOP

In The News: 

The Microsoft Virtual Machine for Java (JVM) needs to be replaced because it contains more than its fair share of bugs. 
Microsoft warns of Java flaws
CNET December 12, 2002. Microsoft late Wednesday issued a "critical" security alert for a series of Java Virtual Machine bugs, one of which could allow a hacker to steal information or reformat the hard drives of compromised computers.

A security flaw was recently discovered in the WiFi software built in to Windows XP. Normally, you can hide a WiFi access point by preventing it from advertising its SSID (service set identifier). However, the XP WiFi software "spills the beans" on access points' hidden SSIDs. Read this security advisory. ExtremeTech also covered this: Windows XP Spills the Beans on Wireless Access Points on December 11, 2002. 

Hank reported on a new twist to the old Nigerian scam. 
Nigerian Net Scam, Version 3.0. Wired magazine. December 16, 2002. All those beleaguered widows, complaining chief's sons and yowling high-ranking government officials don't want your assistance in getting a large sum of money out of Nigeria anymore. Now they want to buy your stuff. 

ElcomSoft verdict: Not guilty CNET December 17, 2002. "A jury on Tuesday acquitted a Russian software company of criminal copyright charges related to selling a program that can crack antipiracy protections on electronic books. The case against ElcomSoft is considered a crucial test of the criminal provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a controversial law designed to extend copyright protections into the digital age." 
ELCOMSOFT Found Innocent in DMCA Case  2600 News. December 18, 2002. 
Joe said that the Federal Government failed to prove that the program was written with the knowledge that it would be used to break the law. They also failed to prove that there was a conspiracy to distribute it illegally. Joe pointed out that within 2 or 3 days after ElcomSoft was served with notice that they were in violation of the US copyright act, they withdrew the program from sale. This was, according to Joe, bad spirit on the part of the federal prosecutor.  

ICANN to approve new domains. Reuters. December 15, 2002.  "The group that oversees the Internet's traffic system said Sunday it plans to approve a host of new address suffixes to join the likes of .com and .org in the coming year. But most Internet users will not be able to register Web site names in the new domains, as they will be limited to organizations in specific fields such as health care." Hank pointed out that the new domains will be limited to businesses that pay a $50,000 fee.

Holiday Gifts Under $100  

Hank suggested buying a box of CD-RW discs and formatting each disc for use with packet writing software. Be aware that it takes from 25 to 45 minutes to format each disc. He is puzzled as to why vendors don't sell pre-formatted CD-RW media. Way back when, floppy disks were also sold unformatted. It was suggested to get discs rated 1x to 4x. Faster discs are more expensive and may not work in slower speed machines. 

Alfred suggested a CD polisher to get rid of scratches in CDs. They cost about $35 and Cyber Guys has one. 

If you know a gamer, Alfred said they consider colored computers cool. For $25 he said you can get a Plexiglas light kit and a nibbler to put a Plexiglas window on the side of your computer case. For another $20 you can get a colored florescent tube to light up the inside of your computer. 

Joe suggested titles from the O'Reilly pocket guide series. They are small books that cost about $12 to $15. Among the titles are Digital Photography, Mac OS X, Outlook, Palm, Word and Troubleshooting your Macintosh (the author of which will be on the show next month). 

Alfred suggested a few items for $100. Tiger Direct is selling a Sony 2 megapixel digital camera for $99. Sony, Palm and Handspring all offer PDAs for $100. Finally, a quality 17 inch CRT can now be purchased for $100. 

Joe warned that printing color photos takes a lot of ink. For $25 to $35 he suggested buying ink cartridges for a color printer. Hank said that Kodak photographic paper is typically 50 to 80 cents for an 8x10 sheet. He found that Costco in Hackensack and Roosevelt Field is selling the paper for $25 for 100 sheets - a great price. You have to be a member of Costco however.

Alfred suggested a USB keychain storage device as a great gift for college students. They are perfect for moving files between the computer lab and a dorm room. They are smaller than a floppy, more durable and have a larger capacity. With recent versions of Windows and Mac OS X, no drivers are required.   

Caller Questions: 

Jimmy asked about formatting for Direct CD (packet writing). Doing so lets you use a CD-RW disc as a 530 MB floppy disk. Software that comes with your CD burner can be used to format a CD-RW disc. After formatting, you can read and write to the CD-RW disc exactly as you read and write to any other Windows drive letter (A, C, etc.). However, if you give such a disc to someone running an older version of Windows, they will need to download and install a program called a UDF reader. This program lets older versions of Windows read these discs. A UDF reader can be downloaded for free from Roxio. 

Bob asked if a computer deal was too good to be true. It was. The computer was advertised for sale for $150 if agree to also buy Internet access for 1.5 years. The computer is refurbished and powered by a 100 MHz Pentium. Such a brutally old machine is only worth about $150 on its own. There is no need to also be on the hook for the Internet access.  

Bob also asked for a good place for a novice to buy a computer. Alfred suggested that novices should buy new computers rather than refurbished ones and that buying from someone that will provide good support should be the priority. He suggested Dell.  

Paul inherited a computer with a modem. However, he can't get online even though he hears the modem dialing. He asked if polarity was important. The answer was no. Hank suggested installing AOL from one of their freebie CDs hoping that with AOL driving the modem it might work. Joe did not think installing AOL software was a good idea. Since the modem is from US Robotics, it was suggested that Paul go to and look to download a diagnostic program for the modem. 

- asked about playing MP3 sound files a Linux computer. He wants a cheap Linux machine to download, store and play MP3s. Wal-Mart sells very cheap Linux computers. For $220 they have a Lindows based Linux machine with no floppy disk and a 10 gig hard disk. For $300 they have a Linux machine with a floppy disk drive and a 40 gig hard disk. Neither machine includes a monitor. You certainly can download, store and play MP3 files under Linux. Alfred suggested searching on Google for MP3 and Linux as a way to find links to many Linux based MP3 player programs. Three such programs are XMMSMPG123 and Freeamp  

Thomas is getting Spam pop-ups. There are two possible reasons for this. One is that the Spam comes from Windows messenger. This is a fairly recent Spam development and can be fixed by changing Windows parameters for messenger. Note that this is not the recent IM product messenger from Microsoft, rather it is an old LAN intended product also called messenger and also from Microsoft. On Windows 2000 and XP, try disabling the messenger service. For instructions on doing this see How to turn off Windows Messenger Service. This page explains how to disable the service in Windows XP, 200 and NT4. For Windows 98 and Me, it can not be disabled. 

The other possibility is that the pop-ups are coming from a Spyware or Adware program. In this case, an excellent and free solution is to download and install Ad-aware. It scans your memory, registry and hard drives for known Spyware components and lets you remove them safely.


December 11, 2002 Show     RETURN TO TOP

In The News: 

Sun, Microsoft Renew Java Power Struggle December 9, 2002. eWeek Magazine. The fate of Java on the desktop is again in the hands of a judge. Sun wants the judge to force Microsoft to distribute Sun's JVM with each new copy of Windows and Internet Explorer.
IBM, AT&T and Intel are forming a consortium, called Cometa to bring WiFi access to the top 50 cities in the country. They are planning on 20,000 WiFi sites in buildings, parks, hotels and universities. Hank said the name should be "comedy" as it may turn out to be a laughing stock. Joe said it doesn't make any sense. For one thing, no company has made money so far on data transmission. They will also have a mere one tenth the coverage of cell phones. 
The Big Boys' Mad Dash into Wi-Fi.
Business Week magazine. December 13, 2002. The wireless Internet is all the rage. The question now: Can tech giants turn it into a bona fide, billable business? 
New company, Cometa, created to push nationwide Wi-Fi. ComputerWorld magazine. December 5, 2002 
Cometa Networks Formed To Provide National Wireless Internet Access. IBM Press Release. December 5, 2002.  

A new survey reported that 60% of Americans get fewer than 10 emails a day. Joe gets 100 to 150 emails a day. Over the last few months 25% to 35% of his email has been Spam. Hank is wary of trusting surveys. 

Interview with our Princeton Review guests Robin Raskin and Robert Franek  

Brooklyn College was named the most beautiful campus in the country (students subjectively rated their own schools). 

The top party school in the country is Indiana University - Bloomington

The online chats and online college fairs at the National Association for College Admission Counseling were recommended for checking out schools. 

One Princeton Review book mentioned on the air was Paying for College Without Going Broke. It was published October 2002 and has Insider Strategies for Maximizing Financial Aid and Minimizing College Costs. Their web site also has a pay for school page. 

They will soon publish Eight Steps to Help Black Families Pay for College. Historically black families have shied away from the financial aid process.  

Registering at the Princeton Review web site requires entering your name and email address. They have a lot of search features on their site including searches for financial aid. Another web site for financial aid, mentioned by a caller, is Fast Web

A caller asked if the Princeton Review posted statistics about student crime against students and racial and sexual incidents on campus. Robert said they post statistics for diversity among students and the acceptance of the diversity. 

Caller Questions: 

Mike asked about Windows 98 vs. Windows Me. He migrated from 98 to Me and noticed that some features were missing. Hank said Windows Me is a crippled version of Windows 98 and not an upgrade. He suggested Windows 98 Second Edition as the best of the lot. Also, if you installed Me over 98, there should be an uninstall option to back out Me. 

Rick installed Windows XP Service Pack 1 and is now faced with a boot time warning to activate Windows within 30 days. If you don't activate it, XP will lock you out of your computer. Joe said the re-activation is simple if you can do it online and there is no easy way around it. Many people consider the requirement to activate Windows XP a scam from Microsoft but there is no easy way to fight it, other than switching to Linux.

A caller asked about Mac software for recording audio. As promised on the air, Dave Burstein followed up on this and found three programs. Audio Hijack, a $16 program, was recommended by MacUser: 

"Although pitched as an audio-enhancing utility, Audio Hijack's star quality is its ability to record the output of almost any Mac OS X application. While the opportunity to tweak and perfect DVD soundtracks, Internet media streams, game sound effects or music CDs using the 10-band EQ and VST FX is very welcome, the ability to record it all is even more appealing."  

StreamRipperX is an open source application for Mac OS X that allows you to listen to Internet radio streams and record the songs as individual MP3 files. Finally, Audion can capture Internet radio stations and has a version for OS 9. Dave has not run Audion, but it didn't seem as straightforward as the other programs for many tasks. 

December 4, 2002 Show     RETURN TO TOP

In The News: 

Judge Set To Rule on Windows Trademark Validity has submitted its final legal papers in support of its pending Motion for Summary Judgment on Genericness, challenging the validity of Microsoft's trademark. The United States District Court in Seattle will address whether "windows" is a valid trademark. PRESSI.COM December 3, 2002. A decision is expected in 30 days. 
Read more about Lindows in this article by Fred Langa Lindows: Beyond Windows, Before Linux Dec. 2, 2002.

FTC settles domain name suit. CNet. December 3, 2002. The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with five companies accused of selling bogus Web site domains including .usa, .sex, .brit and .scot. The companies were not accredited domain name registrars, and the domain names did not work. The offenders are required to provide $300,000 toward redress for consumers worldwide. This contrasts with the $1 million the raised in registration fees. 

Hank's Review of DVD Copy Plus

DVD Copy Plus is a $50 program that lets you copy a DVD movie to a CD-R. The vendor is 321 Studios

One reason for doing this is that CD-R discs are much cheaper than DVD-R discs. In bulk, CD-R discs can be had for 10 cents each. Alfred said DVD-R discs are $3 to $5. Also, many more people have CD burners than have DVD burners and the movies you create on CD can be played on home DVD players. 

Hank was disappointed with the product and its documentation. For one thing, the CD copies are of lesser quality than the original DVDs. Also, the installation instructions were not correct. Hank could not get the software up and running without technical support assistance from the vendor. To use the product, you have to shut down all other programs running on your computer.  

The copy process involves three steps:  

  1. First you copy the movie to your hard disk. This took 15-18 minutes for a 2 hour movie. Hank reported that disk space was equal to that of the DVD. That is, if the DVD was 3.5 GB for a two hour movie, then it will consume 3.5 GB on your hard disk. Copy Plus captures alternate sound tracks and does not capture the trailers. On your hard disk, it creates multiple files (called segments) in MPEG2 format. Each file is about 30 minutes.  
  2. Then you have to encode the movie on your hard disk. On a 1.2 GHz Celeron, encoding a 2 hour movie in MPEG2 format took Hank 11 hours. MPEG2 is 720x480 which Hank called "decent". On a 2 GHz Pentium, the process would take about 7 hours. The vendor suggested that Hank encode to MPEG1 format with is a 320x240 resolution, very low. On a 2 GHz machine, encoding a 2 hour movie in MPEG1 format would take about 3 hours.  
  3. Finally, you have to burn the movie to a CD using a format called Video CD. A problem that Hank ran into was that the files (segments) for each CD were 729 MB. Standard CDs hold either 650 MB or 700 MB. The vendor said that some CDs allow you to burn extra minutes. However, this varies and you can't be sure whether a given CD will hold 729MB or not.  

There are also copyright issues involved in copy DVD movies. They are encoded to prevent copying and breaking the encoding is illegal. However, with Copy Plus, you play the movie on your computer and it captures the video output. Joe was told by 321 Studios that since you are not breaking the CSS algorithm in any way, this is legal for making an archival copy by the owner of the commercial DVD. 

There wasn't sufficient time on the show for Hank to say everything he had to say about DVD Copy Plus. What follows is his full Product Review:   

The software, DVD Copy Plus, is contained on a CD packaged in a case that looks like a movie case. The installation and operating instructions are poor. Let’s say it was virtually nonexistent. The pamphlet says:
    Insert the CD into your CD ROM drive. (that was easy) 
    Select the button labeled “install” from the program screen.
(there is NO install button)

In this case, it is the traditional SETUP icon you press to install the application. Entering the license number and password, however, will not get you up and running. You need to be on line to their website for program activation.

How does one run the program? You need to go into the tutorial mode each time to launch the program. This may be fine for the first go around but it becomes a burden when the user has to do this each time. 

What does the program do? It allows you to make backup copies of movies you own or movies you’ve created. You can make backup copies of DVD movies onto inexpensive CD-R’s, CD-RW’s or DVD-R’s. Most DVD players can play back VCD format CD’s.

Currently there are no products on the market that will enable you to backup movies to CDs. There are both negatives and positives in using CDs in lieu of DVDs for movies. CD media is much cheaper than DVD media. CD-RW burners are readily available at very low cost. The major negative to using a CD is that you will need multiple CDs to hold a standard movie. Typically a movie will require two CD’s at MPEG1 mode. For higher quality, it requires four CD’s. The process is very CPU intensive. You literally can go to work, come back, and it is still running. Also, nothing else can run on the computer. I mean literally nothing. I have found MPEG1 to be of marginal quality. MPEG2 takes twice as long to create or copy.

Does the product deliver what it promises? Yes and no. There are three modules in DVD Copy Plus. The first module is SmartRipper to extract the movie from the DVD. All DVD movies are encoded. SmartRipper in essence uses the user's DVD reader to “capture” the information. It runs fairly fast. Extracting a standard movie took me about 15-20 minutes. You need not do this in playback mode, which obviously would take over two hours for a standard feature movie. The second step is to convert the extracted output into either MPEG1 or MPEG2 format. This is very CPU intensive. A standard movie in MPEG1 mode takes about 5+ hours. In MPEG2 mode, it takes 11 hours. These times are based on a 1.2 GHz Celeron. If you have a Pentium 4 running at 2 GHz, the times would be lowered to 3 hours and 6 hours respectively. The final step then is to “copy” each MPEG1 or MPEG2 file onto a single CD.

As you can see, evaluating this piece of software required lots of patience. Did it work without problems? Sorry to report, the lack of appropriate documentation made the job more difficult than it should have been. The technical support from 321Studios was responsive, patient, and helped me get the product working. Their documentation requires a great deal of work. I felt that any program at version 4.2 should have decent instructions. 

Here are some of the problems. The parameters for SmartRipper had to be changed. The default values that are recommended did not work. There was no explanation of any of the parameters. Educated guesses were futile. There is no notification or guidelines of what to expect in terms of running time for the second module. I had not anticipated running time in the hours. Even the recently announced 3 GHz Pentium 4 will take at least 2 hours to encode a standard movie at low resolution. The final step to copy MPEG1 or MPEG2 files onto CD’s using the supplied Power CDR 5.0 program did not work. It is not compatible with the installed copy of Roxio Easy CD Creator on my system. The solution was to uninstall Roxio and then install Power CDR 5.0. or just use Roxio itself. I opted to use Roxio Easy CD Creator. 

DVD Copy Plus includes DVD Photo Pro 3.0. I had anticipated using this to backup massive data. Using WINZIP on a CD-R or CD-RW however is more efficient than using this product. Because encoding is required on the DVD, the time to backup onto a DVD is just not practical. 

Assuming the documentation is properly updated, is this product ready for primetime? For those who have the patience, the willingness to tie down their system to do nothing else for long stretches, the answer is yes. This product is at the stage that CD technology was just a few years ago. I have many useless “buffer under run” CD coasters to attest to this.

Do I plan to use this product? I’ve got lots of home movies to convert. All I need is time and a dedicated system. Hey, I now have an excuse to buy another system.

321 Studios has a newer $99 product called DVD X Copy which allows you to copy DVDs directly onto blank DVDs. Obviously, this requires a DVD burner. As with Copy Plus, you first copy the movie to your hard disk, then burn it to a DVD. Because Copy Plus records onto CDs rather than DVDs, copying takes much longer and requires more blank disks. In one test it took about an hour to copy a DVD to another DVD with DVD X Copy. The product inserts electronic controls into the copied DVDs to prevent them from being duplicated further. 

New Tool Makes DVD Copying Easy 321 Studios challenges Hollywood with DVD X Copy. PC World magazine. December 3, 2002. 
321 Studios does it again with DVD X Copy. It copies entire commercial DVDs, menus and all. December 6, 2002. 
321 launches new DVD copying software. Reuters, November 13, 2002. 
Easy way to back up expensive DVDs. San Francisco Chronicle December 9, 2002. 
Studios take aim at DVD copying software. December 19, 2002. San Jose Mercury News. The major Hollywood studios have asked a federal judge to halt the sale of two easy-to-use programs for copying DVDs, saying they are nothing more than tools for users to make illegal copies of DVD movies.
They asked the judge to permanently prevent software publisher 321Studios from manufacturing and selling its products.  

Joe's Gripes with CD Media 

Joe tried to use an Iomega Predator USB CD Burner with no luck, at least initially. This is an external burner that plugs into the USB port. He was using high speed CD-RW discs rated for 4x to 10x. The burner is rated 1x to 6x. Should be OK, but no.  

Initially, he tried the CD burner with IBM and HP machines both running Windows 98 and it didn't work. Then he hooked it up to a Windows XP machine and it also didn't work. Then he called Iomega and was told that his CD burner software, Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5 was not supported. Iomega only supports up to version 4 of this Roxio software. They suggested that he use their CD burning software, HotBurn. That didn't work either. 

Someone suggested that Joe try different discs. He went to Staples, bought some of the house brand and they worked in each three machines. After digging around on Iomega's web site, Joe found the Iomega CD-RW (ZipCD™ 650) drive recommended media list which is a list of the CDs known to work with Iomega burners. Quoting this web page: 

Media issues are common throughout the CD-RW drive industry. Because CD media vendors often change disc suppliers, quality levels may change due to manufacturing differences. This means that you may encounter CD creation problems with media that may have worked successfully before. Overall system configuration and other factors may also affect the success of creating a CD...Iomega highly recommends that you use the media types on this list when creating your CDs. Not all brands of media have been tested by Iomega and, therefore, you may encounter success with other brands not listed. This list will be updated as other media is tested and approved. 

Joe noticed that big name brands such as Maxell, Sony and HP are not on the approved Iomega list. Hank mentioned that TDK does not make the CDs sold under their name and there is no consistency to them. Sony also outsources their CDs. 

After trying a bunch of different brands, Joe found that discs rated 1x to 4x worked on this Iomega Predator burner. However, 4x thru 10x and 24x did not work. Also, be aware that an external 10x burner meant to be used with a USB2 port, will drop back to a much slower speed when used with an older (and more common) USB 1.1 port. 

Caller Questions: 

Wayne gets a message from Windows 98 at boot time that it cant find a DLL needed to run a program. Alfred guessed that a program was deleted without using the uninstall feature. Hank said the missing file might have been a shared file that was inadvertently deleted. The computer runs fine after it boots. Alfred said to run MSCONFIG (from Start -> Run) and prevent the offending program from loading at boot time. One resource for missing DLLs is the Missing Files page at WebAttack. 

Joe asked about deleting the AOL software. Our Joe said that AOL version 5 and 6 were very hard to uninstall but version 7 should uninstall in the normal way.

Jerry asked about photo editing software and two cheap alternatives to PhotoShop were mentioned. Hank suggested Elements, a program also from Adobe that retails for $90 but can be found on sale with rebates for $40. Some digital cameras even include it as a freebie. Alfred suggested Ulead as a good company. They make Photo Impact, which does textures and lighting effects.

Jerry also asked about freeware and shareware. Joe suggested and multiple people suggested Tucows. A listener suggested WebAttack. Alfred suggested hotfiles from ZDnet.

Mohammed has an internal CD burner that can write at 32x. Easy CD creator 5 shows that the actual write speed is between 4x and 6x. His CD media is also rated for 32x and the program is set to burn at a high speed. Our only guess was DMA, a faster access path between the computer and internal devices. Enabling DMA for a device can speed up access times greatly. It is an option of the device in Device Manager in Windows 9x. In Windows 2000, DMA access is an option of the IDE channel, also in Device Manager. There may also be a BIOS option for DMA.

He also has an invading pop-up for pornography. Joe intends to do a show on this soon, but for now it was suggested that he anti-Spyware software. An excellent free program is Ad-aware which can be downloaded here: Another good program is Pest Patrol, which costs $30 and has a free evaluation version. However, the free version of Pest Patrol will identify pests on your system, but not remove them.

Charles has a computer where the auto-run feature is not enabled. The computer is running Windows XP Home Edition. Usually this is a property of the drive in Device Manager. For Windows XP Professional, this page has instructions for configuring AutoPlay. has this page with information on CD-ROM autorun for many flavors of Windows. For Windows XP it says: "Right-click on the drive icon for your CD drive, CD recorder, or DVD drive, and select Properties. Choose the AutoPlay tab, and choose the desired action for each type of CD.

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