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February 2003 Archive

Shows  (on this page)
  February 26, 2003   February 19, 2003   February 12, 2003  February 5, 2003 

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

February 26, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

There was no show this week due to WBAI fund raising.

Santa Clara County faces key decision on electronic ballots Mercury News. February 24, 2003. We did a show on the potential fraud problems when using computer based voting machines. Scientists spoke up in Silicon Valley, where the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors delayed buying 5,000 ATM-like machines after hearing their concerns. National experts on computer security have raised questions about the validity of elections run on touch-screen machines, which currently don't produce a paper record a voter can use to check that the machine has recorded decisions accurately. The voting machine vendors have offered to install a paper audit system at no extra cost if Santa Clara becomes the first jurisdiction nationally to require it.

County lets e-voting plan advance without paper backup. Mercury News. February 26, 2003. Santa Clara County supervisors rejected pleas from computer scientists Tuesday that they require new electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail after each touch-screen vote is cast. 

February 19, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

There was no show this week. Off the Hook did an expanded two hour show.

Man vs. Machine A new era in computer chess. by Garry Kasparov. February 16, 2003. The Wall Street Journal. The top rated chess player in the world, writes about his recent match against computer program Deep Junior

Taxing for the user Ed Foster. InfoWorld Magazine. February 13, 2003. If you plan to install Intuit's latest version of TurboTax, read these product activation horror stories first. We covered this on the air January 15, 2003.

Listener email questions:

Q: Can you tell me anything about the specifications for equipment (camera and computer) and software required to do video conferencing at an acceptable level of quality ? If not, can you refer me to other sources of info? Thank you, Carola.  
A: There's lots of good info out there on this subject (though I have no first hand knowledge). is a good place to start. PacBell offers some good stuff at and for a small, desktop set up see A Google search would turn up much more.

Q: Any time I try to burn a CD, I got a message that I need to update my Oleaut32.Dll. Please help 
A: OLEAUT32.DLL is a core file that all Visual Basic 6.0 applications depend upon. To resolve the problem, the latest Automation files must be installed onto your machine. This can done using a program provided by Microsoft called VBRUN60.EXE which installs the Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 run-time library (MSVBVM60.EXE) and updates the required automation files used by VB6 applications. You can download VBRUN60.EXE from Microsoft here.

Q: How can I modify the Windows Explorer File menu? When a file is selected (high-lighted) I would like the file menu to include an option to "open with vedit", my preferred text editor.  
A: There are a several ways you can accomplish this: Read: How to Create and Customize a User-Defined Toolbar in Windows 98. While I haven't used vedit in many years, I seem to remember there was a way to pass it a filename as a parameter. You can also create an additional item in the SendTo list so that by right clicking the file you could open the SendTo menu and then 
send the file to Vedit. Finally, you can Create Multiple Associations for One File Extension which would enable you to right-click the item and then choose Open with Vedit.exe.

February 12, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

This was a fund raising show.

Michael mentioned that Executive Software has recently released an updated free version of Diskeeper, their defrag program. The free version of Diskeeper 7 is called Diskeeper Lite Freeware . It does not have all the features of the paid version of Diskeeper 7, but should be a step up for anyone running an older version of Windows. Earlier versions of Diskeeper were licensed by Microsoft and included in Windows 2000 and XP.

As a membership incentive, our webmaster, Michael Horowitz will be teaching a seminar on backing up your computer. It will be March 19th from 5:30PM to 7:30PM at the station. To be eligible, you had to open or renew a WBAI membership during this show. The topics covered in the seminar are described here

In The News: 

Some major retailers began this week to voluntarily charge online sales taxes in 37 states. 
Editorial: The Internet Tax Trap.
The Wall Street Journal. February 18, 2003. 
Big Stores To Charge Sales Taxes Online. The Washington Post. February 7, 2003. 
Online taxes: It's inevitable CNN/Money Magazine. February 12, 2003 
States look to lay groundwork for levying Internet sales tax. The Boston Globe. February 17, 2003 

The nations largest newspapers have settled a dispute over the unauthorized, third-party ads that pop up while visiting their web sites. Among the newspapers that sued Gator were The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Gator still faces a lawsuit from UPS which claims unauthorized ads for FedEx appear on the UPS web site. 
Publishers, Gator Settle Lawsuit Over Pop-Up Ads
. Washington Post. February 7, 2003. 
Publishers, Internet company settle lawsuit over pop-up ads. Mercury News. February 7, 2003. 

Some companies are investigating technologies that could make every electrical outlet an always-on Internet connection. Proponents claim it will bolster broadband competition and bridge the digital divide in rural areas. Skeptics say that few tests prove its financial and technical viability.
Broadband over power lines?
Associated Press in the Boston Globe February 10, 2003 
High speed Internet access via electrical outlets? Mac Central February 13, 2003 
Internet Access Via Power Lines February 10, 2003 
Broadband over Powerlines Slashdot February 13, 2003 

 In the March 11, 2003 issue of PC Magazine, John C. Dvorak questioned where this story came from (Snooping Lurks). Quoting: Nothing makes me more suspicious than old, recycled news pretending to be new news and released under weird circumstances. In this case, I'm referring to the recent "news" about power-line networking. This, in fact, is a technology I've been hearing about for 20 years. Its strange and sudden promotion by the government is ominous . . . The idea of a personal Internet connection over power lines is preposterous...

Hank disagrees with John C. Dvorak noting that it's easy to speculate on a government conspiracy. Wireless is easier and cheaper for the government to monitor. Hank has tested the Neverwire14 (a Powerline networking product for use in the home) and found it to be very acceptable. He has been testing the use of power line for signal transmissions since 1990 and has seen a great deal of progress. After all, in 1990 we had Windows 3.0, which does not compare at all to the Windows XP we have today. 

February 5, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

In The News:  

The fate of Java in Windows is again up in the air. A recent ruling that would have forced Microsoft to include a new version of Java from Sun in Windows, has been set aside by an appeals court. There is no date set to hear the appeal. In the mean time, Windows XP Service Pack 1a has no Java in it at all. To test which, if any, version of Java your web browser is using, see
Java Appeal May Take Months. Court will review order requiring Microsoft to bundle Sun's Java, leaving the technology's fate in limbo. IDG News Service. February 4, 2003 

Grid computing is being used by a research project to find drugs that will cure smallpox. Grid computing makes use of the idle computing power of personal computers. To participate, you download a screen saver program from, so that when your computer is turned on but not in use, the smallpox project can put its unused power to use in conjunction with a vast network of widely dispersed computers. The research program is a collaboration of the U.S. Defense Department, Oxford University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, IBM, Accelrys and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. 
Smallpox Researchers Seek Help From Millions of Computer Users. The New York Times. February 5, 2003. 

With CD readers spinning faster and faster, the labels on them can throw the disc off balance. The Epson Stylus Photo 960 printer (about $315) can print directly on the surface of a CD. Owners of the printer can get a free kit for this purpose. The kit includes a printer tray that accepts a disk, and software to print label information directly onto the disks. For disk printing, the 960 requires inkjet-printable disks, which cost more than normal disks. You can also just write on the disc with a marking pen, but some pens will bleed and ruin the data stored on the disc. Look for pens specifically designed for use with CDs

AOL lost 170,000 subscribers this year. Hank said they stopped including customers on their free first month. Neither Hank nor Joe use AOL, but Hank does interact with a bit in the course of his business. He doesn't like it.

 Guest Interview 

Our guest was Brandon Guthrie, a  technical support analyst with Micron (Crucial Technology). Crucial is a major vendor of memory (RAM) for personal computers. The manufacture ram in addition to selling it. They offer 30 day no-hassle returns.

How do you know what type of ram to buy? Crucial has a memory selector on their web site, but it requires that you know the make and model of the computer in question. If you don't know the particulars of your computer, they have online chats where they try to help. In the worst case you can open the machine, take out the current ram chips and read them all the numbers on it. 

There is no performance benefit to buying memory that is faster than the memory bus on your computer. Any chain is only as good as the weakest link.

If new ram works fine for the first 30 -90 days it is unlikely to fail later. Brandon said ram chips are static devices. The only potential trouble spots are power problems, but a good surge protector should protect you.  

Brandon mentioned a problem with Windows 95 and 98 when running on a machine with over 256 MB of ram. If you don't change the VCache settings you can have a decrease in performance when adding more ram. The Microsoft KB article on this is 32-Bit File Access Maximum Cache Size. It explains how to manually change the VCache size. The article says it only applies to Windows 95, but the same procedure alos works with Windows 98 and ME. 

Some articles from Crucial:

See also CNET Labs' guide to buying RAM: boost your memory from June 2002. Joe's advice is start off with as much memory as you can afford and then buy some more. :-) 

 Caller Questions 

Frank used to have many columns displayed by Windows Explorer. He like sorting files by size, alphabetically, by type, etc. Now however, Windows Explorer is only showing two columns. He didn't say which version of Windows he is running, but on recent versions of Windows you can right click on the column headings and pop-up a menu of all the potential columns. Each column can be made visible or not by clicking on it in this pop-up customization window. In Windows 98, you can compress the columns in Windows Explorer so they use the least amount of space. You do this with CTRL+PLUS SIGN (make sure to use the PLUS SIGN key on the numeric keypad).  

Frank also had email re-appear in Outlook Express. After deleting 64 messages, they all come back. With standard Internet email (not web based email and not AOL email) there is an option to leave the messages on the server. If you are traveling for example, you can set this option on, download email to a laptop and then still have that email on the server for downloading again from your regular home computer. Hank and Joe speculated that somehow, this option got turned on. In Outlook Express, click on Tools, then Accounts and check the properties of the email account. Look for an option called "leave mail on the server" or something to that effect.   

A caller added a second hard disk to his computer and started to install Windows 98. The OS installation ran on the primary drive and started to reformat the C drive. This is because Windows 98 can only run on the first hard disk in a computer. Before installing Windows 98 on a second hard disk, hide the first disk, either using partitioning software such as Partition Magic or the BIOS or just temporarily unplug it from the motherboard. Hank said to use the "sys c:" command to copy the OS to the C drive. He also said that the caller may have to use FDISK to activate the drive which System Commander 7 says is unformatted.

Debra wants to buy a low end laptop and after a very bad experience with Dell needs advice on another vendor for a non-advanced user. Joe suggested the Mac iBook even though it does not come with a manual.  It was suggested that she start with window shopping - going to the major computer stores and trying out the laptops on display. She should write down the model numbers of the machines she likes and then go to vendors web site and check the specs carefully. The minimum specs that Hank recommended for a computer that will only be used for word processing and the Internet are: 256 MB of memory, a 20 GB hard disk, a 1 GHz cpu (which all machines now have), a modem, a network interface card and a CD burner for making backups.  

Webmaster:             Page Last Updated:  March 29, 2003