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January 2004 Archive

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

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


January 28, 2004 Show


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

The product that Hank reviewed on January 7, 2004 is now free. It is a version of the Lindows Operating System that boots and runs from a CD, without being installed to a hard disk. This article refers to it as Lindows Live. Previously it was called Lindows CD.
   Lindows offers software for free over P2P  January 30, 2004, CNET  

 January 21, 2004 Show

Listen to first half hour (5 MB)
Listen to second half hour (5 MB)

SuSE wins Linux a new security badge January 21, 2004 CNET

SuSE refers to their CD-ROM based edition of Linux as "Live-Eval". You can download this Live-Eval using Internet Explorer or an FTP client. With IE, click on either of these links 

Other download locations can be found on the mirrors page of the SuSE web site. The current version is 9. The links above are to a directory/folder which contains a 648 MB file called "SuSE-9.0-LiveEval-i386-Int-RC1.iso". After downloading the file, use CD-ROM burning software to burn it to a CD. If all goes well, the resulting CD should contain many files rather than a single large "iso" file.  

A Taste of Linux January 23, 2004 By: Jim Lynch on ExtremeTech looks at four different versions of Linux that all run directly from a CD without being installed to your hard disk. 

IT Outsourcing

  • TechsUnite is an online community for exploring issues facing IT workers. 
  • Thick as a (Campaign) Plank U.S. Leaders Either Don't Understand or Prefer Not to Understand the IT Outsourcing Crisis, So Here's the Cliff Notes Version By Robert X. Cringely.  January 22, 2004
  • Education Is No Protection By Bob Herbert The offshore outsourcing of white-collar jobs is a big long-term threat to the U.S. New York Times January 26, 2004

iPods Dirty Secret 

In fairness, the iPod's rivals use the same battery design. One exception is the Creative Labs Zen Xtra which has a removable battery. It should also be noted that while an iPod battery may die after 18 months this is not typical. The iPod literature says that the battery can be charged between 300 and 500 times. To wear out a battery in 18 months, you would have to charge and deplete the battery almost every day. 

RIAA Sues Song-Swapping Suspects January 21, 2004. The Washington Post 

RIAA goes hunting for 532 more file-traders January 21, 2004. The Register 

 January 14, 2004 Show

Listen to our discussions (28 minutes, 5 MB)
Listen to caller questions (24 minutes, 4 MB)

In The News

Wi-Fi testing finds weak links  January 12, 2004 CNET At least one in every four Wi-Fi products examined by the Wi-Fi Alliance has failed its certification test -- a sign that many pieces of wireless equipment on the market are incapable of working as well as users might expect. lists all Wi-Fi Alliance authorized Wi-Fi certified products. Consumers should be aware that a product that fails Wi-Fi certification can still be sold. These products are labeled "802.11b compatible" and may only work with other products from the same company. Certified products carry a logo as shown here. 

Michael noted there are two sides to every coin. WiFi equipment that fails certification testing may be more secure. It presents another layer of difficulty for anyone trying to break into your wireless network. Then again, as Hank pointed out, if you want to use the WiFi access at McDonalds or Starbucks, be sure to buy certified products. 

If you get an email message from Microsoft with an attached file that is a critical update to Windows XP, delete it. The message is a fraud. Microsoft never sends out software via email. They only send notifications and links to their web site where you can download software. No other large reputable software company ever sends unsolicited email messages containing software.
Xombe Trojan poses as Microsoft warning
ZDNet January 12, 2004 

Microsoft has extended support for Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows Millennium Edition (Me) to June 30, 2006. Windows 98 support had been scheduled to end this month. Microsoft claims 20% of PC users still use these older versions of Windows, Hank thinks the percentage is much higher. This does not however, mean that they will definitely issue fixes for newly discovered bugs. Company officials said Microsoft "will continue to review any critical security issues and take appropriate steps".
Microsoft extends Windows 98 help
Reuters January 13, 2004 
Tech Support Goes Out the Windows January 6, 2004 by Lou Dolinar in Newsday. A good article on the subject, written just before the deadline was extended. 

Alfred has a new column in PC Today magazine about keeping old versions of Windows running. He even goes back to Windows 3.1. 

HP is going to be selling the Apple iPod and pre-installing the related iTunes software on the new computers. Apple will manufacture the player which will have the same design and features as the third-generation iPods (no mini iPods). The device will not carry the iPod name. 
HP, Apple harmonize on iPod
January 8, 2004 CNET  

 Consumer Electronics Show 

Alfred just got back from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

The next generation of DVDs will use blue lasers as opposed to the red laser currently employed. Companies are now choosing up sides, supporting different standards for blue laser based DVDs. Ten companies, including HP and Dell, are supporting the Blu-ray standard, while the vast majority off companies (including NEC and Toshiba) are backing a format called HD-DVD. Blu-ray DVDs will hold 27 gigabytes of data (current DVDs are less than five) but they won't be able to read current DVDs. 

Alfred felt that HD-DVD will be the winning standard because Hollywood will back it. Michael noted that there are three families of DVDs currently (plus, minus and RAM) and that a fourth, with double layers on a single side, is coming soon. The blue laser DVD formats will just add to this. You can't tell your DVDs without a scorecard. 
HP, Dell back Blu-ray technology
CNET January 12, 2004 

Why can't you buy a small footprint computer? Alfred saw a number of computers that are about the size of a box of Kleenex. However, he didn't think this form factor would take off, despite Hank's interest in it. Prior small computers were more expensive, the more air in the box the cheaper the computer. 

The CES has become the big show for displays, both computer displays and televisions. InFocus has been the market leader in data projectors for years. At the show they announced rear-projection TVs as large as 70 inches, but only 7 inches thick. How do they do it? With mirrors. The display is about half the depth of the slimmest current projection TVs, weighs about 130 pounds and will compete with plasma and LCD TVs. Alfred said Thompson will be selling it for an "early adopter" price of $15,000. Another report said It is expected to go on sale in the second half of 2004 for about $10,000. Ambient light has very little effect on the picture. InFocus is also selling the engine itself for use by other companies. 

Last week we mentioned that the prices of computer LCD screens are expected to rise. Alfred said this was a result of supply and demand and that the price increases have already started. New plants have not ramped up to projected capacities as quickly as expected. He expects prices to fall in the late summer or early fall of 2004, when there should be increased supply.  

A number of the entertainment devices at the show were running Linux rather than Windows Media Center. 

Alfred saw many home LCD televisions from companies you never heard of. He expects these companies to increase competition to the point that Dell and HP and Gateway will not profit much from selling them. 

Caller Questions

A caller accidentally deleted a very large folder, too large for the recycle bin to handle it. Michael suggested not doing anything on the computer. The safest thing to do is to get a free utility to undelete files while using another computer. Any activity on the computer with the accidentally deleted files reduces the likelihood of recovering the files. You shouldn't even turn the computer off. One undelete program is File Restore from Winternals which sells for $39. A free undelete program is Restoration by Brian Kato available from PC World magazine. Hank has used System Mechanic to undelete files. 

Sal keeps his most important files on a computer that is never connected to the Internet. This machine is hooked to a KVM switch along with another computer that is online. He wondered if a virus on the Internet connected machine could affect his off-line computer. It can not. 

John asked if you can network Windows XP with older versions of Windows (2000, 98, Me, etc). You can. However, Hank warned that it is simpler, easier and less error-prone if all the computers are running the same version of Windows. Alfred has even networked Windows 3.1 with newer versions of Windows. Hank suggested the web site as a great resource for information about networking Windows computers. 

Robbie asked about this message from Internet Explorer: "There has been an error on this web page. Do you wish to debug?". Michael said there is no problem with Robbie's computer or with his copy of IE. The error was in JavaScript in the web page he is viewing. You can turn off the display of these errors, since they are only of interest to the webmaster of the site being viewed and to JavaScript programmers. In IE, do Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced Tab. Turn ON the checkbox that says "disable script debugging". Also, turn OFF the checkbox that says "display a notification of every script error".   

 January 7, 2004 Show

Listen to our discussions (28 minutes, 5 MB)
Listen to caller questions (24 minutes, 4 MB)

We get our fair share of email from listeners, some of whom use a type of anti-spam software known as challenge-response. This forces a human being to prove they are human before being able to respond to the message. If you email us a question, please don't make us jump through these hoops. We get too much listener email to add this burden to it. Also, at times our responses to your emails get lost or blocked by spam blocking software. If you write to us and don't hear back, write again. 

In The News

Apple just introduced the iPod Mini. In terms of storage bang for the buck, it is more expensive than existing iPods. For example, a 15 GB full-size iPod sells for $300 while the 4 GB iPod Mini sells for $250. Based on a price/capacity curve, the iPod Mini should sell for about $125. On a per song basis, a 40 GB iPod costs $0.05/song, the 20 GB and 15 GB models cost $0.08/song and the iPod Mini is $0.25/song. Still, it can hold 4 GB of any type of files. If you own an iPod that is not filled to capacity, consider using it for backing up your important computer files. 

The prices of flat panel monitors have gone up. Supply and demand is such that demand currently exceeds supply. 


Lindows is one of many flavors (officially called "distributions") of Linux. The web site for Lindows is If you need a new computer, the cheapest ones, bar none, sell for $200 at Walmart and run either Lindows or Lycoris (another flavor of Linux). See a screen shot of Lycoris and Lindows in action. 

Hank found two versions of Lindows available: Lindows OS and Lindows CD. The "CD" version can boot and run completely from a CD. This is a great way to see it in action without having to install it. Installing a second operating system on a computer is no trivial undertaking. To use the Lindows CD, you should have a PC with an 800 MHz or higher processor and at least 256 MB of RAM. Other versions of Linux, such as Knoppix, Suse, Slackware and FreeBSD LiveCD can also run completely from a CD. The "OS" version is installed to and runs from a hard disk. 

Lindows came to fame claiming to run some Windows programs directly under Linux. The is made possible with emulation software from either the Wine Project or from Crossover Office. The emulation software should be able to be installed with any flavor of Linux, not just Lindows. For more on this, see Michael's Comparison of Linux and Windows. There are about a dozen or so Windows programs that can be installed and run under Linux. Among them are Microsoft Office 2000 and Lotus Notes. 

Lindows sends you to which makes it seem as if Lindows is the favored version of Linux. However, when Hank checked into it he found that the web site is owned by Lindows. Sneaky.

Joe ordered the Lindows CD from Tiger Direct on December 15, 2003. By today (January 7, 2004) it still had not come. The Lindows company does not sell the "CD" version of Linux directly, it can only be purchased from Tiger Direct. Each company pointed fingers at each other in trying to find out where the CD is. Joe had to contact Lindows which made special arrangements for Hank to download the "CD" version of Lindows which he burned to a CD. 

The first time Hank tried to boot his computer and run Lindows from a CD, it failed to start up due to a "non system error". This was on a Pentium II based Compaq desktop machine. Then he tried his laptop, which has a Pentium III - it worked. It looks great and Hank liked it. It can get online with a web browser, do email and has a word processor from Lindows includes Mozilla, a highly acclaimed web browser which also includes an email program. 

Lindows said you need an 800 MHz or better processor to boot the OS from a CD. Later tests with other older computers showed this not to be true. However, running Lindows from a CD on a processor slower than 800 MHz is very slow. 

At first Hank's laptop could not get on the Internet when running Lindows CD. The same computer, when running Windows XP could get online, so the problem was definitely with Lindows. The computer was connected to a hub, which was connected to a router which was connected to a cable modem. When the computer was plugged into the router directly, it worked. Whatever the problem was, Linux in general, is fully capable of networking with Windows computers. 

Hank also tried WiFi access from his Lindows CD based laptop. It failed. Lindows only supports a few WiFi cards and does not support the card Hank was using. All three of Hank's printers worked fine. Michael warned however, that Linux does not support as many printers as Windows does. 

Another reason for choosing the Lindows flavor of Linux is that it mimics the Windows XP user interface. However, Hank found this was only skin deep. The more you try to do with Lindows, the less the user interface mimics Windows. For example, Linux does not have drive letters. Still, it's a step in the right direction. 

For a new computer user, Hank felt Lindows would certainly meet their needs. Version 4.5 of Lindows includes VOIP. 

Lindows CD costs $40 from Tiger Direct. If you order Lindows OS for $50 from, you are also entitled to download Lindows CD. For an extra $10 you get both versions of Lindows. 

After the show, we got a press release from Lindows. A company called ECS is about to start selling Lindows based laptops for about $700. 

Caller Questions

Stu asked about implementing a web site on the cheap and Michael suggested using . Until January 14th, they are offering free web sites for three years. The web sites come with the usual assortment of add-ons such as page counters and allow 500 MB of storage space. If you can live with a URL that is hard to remember (such as the web site is 100% free and they will not even ask for a credit card. If you want your own domain (such as then there is a small charge and they do require a credit card. Michael also suggested Mozilla, a free suite of software: a web browser, email client and a GUI web page editor. 

A caller asked about backing up Outlook. While you can't back up the Outlook program itself, you can back up  the data it works on (your email messages, calendar appointments, etc) and your customized settings.

Outlook stores all its data in a single file called (by default) Outlook.pst. If you use Outlook with Exchange Server, the file type is ost. Find this file and back it up like any other file. Be sure that Outlook is not running while you back it up. To locate the .pst file, from the File Menu select Data File Management to display the Outlook Data Files dialog. You can also search your computer looking for this file name or any files end with .pst or .ost. Note that if more than one user logs on to the computer, there may be outlook.pst files.

Outlook can also backup (export) individual folders. Go to the File menu and select "Import and Export..", then select "Export to a File" and opt to make a “.pst" file. Then pick the folder(s) you want to copy. This works with Outlook 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Microsoft also has a free program called the Personal Folders Backup that offers yet another way to back up Outlook data. You have to download and install the program which works with Outlook 2000 and 2002. It adds a new item to the File menu called “Backup”. It will back up your data when you exit out of Outlook and periodically remind you to make additional backups. It can be downloaded from the Outlook Download Center.

Finally, if you use Microsoft Office, there is a Save My Settings Wizard, which backs up all your Office 2000 and 2002 settings (such as dictionaries, templates, and AutoCorrect lists) in a single profile that the program saves on a local network or on removable media. The wizard is included in Office XP, if you use Office 2000, you can download the free program from the Microsoft Office Download Center. 

Webmaster:  Michael Horowitz            Page Last Updated:  March 7, 2004