The Personal Computer Radio Show  WBAI-FM 99.5
New York City


February 2005  Show Summaries

Show Recaps on this page
  February 23, 2005  February 16, 2005  February 9, 2005  February 2, 2005   

 February 23, 2005 Show

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The show was pre-empted this week for WBAI fund raising.

askSam has put the 2006 U.S. Government Budget in a free, searchable askSam database. See: www.asksam.com/ebooks/budget/ You can search, browse and analyze the budget text. There is no charge for the software or the information. 
   

 February 16, 2005 Show

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Last Tuesday was the second Tuesday of the month, the day Microsoft releases bug fixes (also called "patches" and "updates" for problems that are called "holes" and "vulnerabilities"). The effected products include: Windows XP, Windows 2000, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, 
Office XP, Office 2003, Works Suite, Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger and more.

This was a big, important group of bug fixes with quite a few "critical" issues, so we recommend that everyone run Windows Update manually. You can do this in Internet Explorer with Tools -> Windows Update. After running it, you will almost certainly have to re-start Windows. Michael suggested then running Windows Update again. This is the rule of the thumb with Windows Update, keep running it until it says there are no outstanding critical bug fixes.

Windows Me and 98 are affected by some of these problems, but there are no fixes for those versions of Windows.

Microsoft Office is not updated by Windows update. To get the bug fixes for Office XP and Office 2003, go to www.officeupdate.com.

Symantec also released recent bug fixes for a host of their products, including Norton Anti-Virus. The link below to Symantec's web site has the details on which products are effected. The bug exists in Norton AntiVirus 2004, but not in the 2005 or 2003 editions.

Be aware that to get the bug fix for Norton AntiVirus 2004 you have to run Live Update manually. The product is not able to apply bug fixes to itself automatically. There is an option for whether NAV tells you that there is a pending bug fix that requires running Live Update. All users of NAV should check that this option is turned on. Symantec refers to bug fixes as "program updates".

Microsoft was planning on releasing a new version of Internet Explorer with the next version of Windows. However, this next version of Windows has been delayed many times, there is real competition from Firefox and IE is constant security problem. As a result, Microsoft just announced that they will release version 7 of IE sometime this summer. 

IE7 will have better defenses against viruses and Spyware and phishing attacks. Microsoft said nothing about whether it will have other features too, such as tabbed browsing, that all other web browsers offer. Currently, the latest and greatest version of IE6 is only available for Windows XP. This will be true for IE7 also. Anyone running Windows 98, Me or 2000 should consider using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

In December 2004, Microsoft purchased an anti-Spyware program from Giant Software. In January 2005 they released a free beta-test version of the program. The company said that 6.8 million people have downloaded this free beta. Microsoft just announced that when the product is finished (no longer considered "beta") they will release it for free. Is this anti-competitive? Joe and Alfred differed on this. 

None of us has yet tried the Microsoft anti-Spyware program, but everyone running Windows should run an anti-Spyware program. Spyware is malicious software installed on your computer without your knowledge. A recent study found that 80% of computers were infected. Spyware Sweeper from Webroot has gotten good reviews and Joe uses it on one of his computers. 

Much like Spy vs. Spy in mad magazine, a new malicious program attempts to turn off the Microsoft anti-Spyware program. The program, known as "Bankash-A Trojan," also may try to steal personal information such as online banking passwords. It is a keystroke logger and you get infected in the normal way, by opening an email attachment. 

Art Krakowski did a book review of The Cult of the Mac by Leander Kahney which led to a brief discussion of Apple Macintosh machines. Art mentioned that Gimp Print (gimp-print.sourceforge.net/MacOSX.php3) provides Mac drivers for many printers. Material on gimp-print can also be found on the Apple support web site.  

Google just released Google Maps. The product is "beta" meaning it's not yet finished. Unlike other mapping services, Google is limited to the US and parts of Canada. Another nice feature is the lack of ads. The Google maps are large and look great. They can also be scrolled by clicking and dragging your mouse, a big improvement over competing services. If you want to see subway stations, however, you will have to use Yahoo maps.

We didn't mention that Yahoo has a "Send to Phone" feature that can send data from Yahoo Maps to a cellphone. They just announced a new feature - you can now send driving directions to a cellphone. However, the phone requires Internet access. 

McAfee Wi-FiScan surveys your wireless network connection, your wireless hardware and the local environment to assess security risks. It only works with Internet Explorer because it requires ActiveX.  
  

 February 9, 2005 Show

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The show was pre-empted this week for WBAI fund raising.
 

 February 2, 2005 Show

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The show was pre-empted this week for WBAI fund raising. 
  

An interesting story appeared in eWeek New Virus Attack Technique Bypasses Filters by Dennis Fisher January 31, 2005. It discussed using RAR files to hide viruses attached to email messages. The RAR file format is much like the ZIP file format, but it is said to compress a bit better and it is not as popular. David Perry of Trend Micro said that they have been handling RAR files for years. In fact, he felt that McAfee also could detect viruses in RAR files. 

As Firefox gets more popular, we can expect that Spyware will try to use it to infest your computer. Firefox allows web sites to install software on your computer. To see this, click on Tools -> Options -> Web Features. The option is "Allow web sites to install software". For safety, turn this off. However, should you want to install a Firefox extension in the future, you will have to turn this option on. Even with the option on, however, you will be prompted by Firefox before the software is installed. The danger is that so little information is provided in the prompt or the question might be confusing, leading someone to respond "yes" when they shouldn't have.  

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