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


July 2005  Show Summaries

Show Summaries Below
July 20, 2005   July 13, 2005  July 6, 2005


 July 27, 2005 Show

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The show was pre-empted this week.


 July 20, 2005 Show

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About half the show was devoted to fund raising. There were no listener phone calls. We thank everyone who contributed to WBAI during the show. 

Due to fund raising at WBAI, the show is pre-empted next week. 

Alfred reviewed the book Spring Into Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists by Barry J. Rosenberg. In a nutshell, he loved it. The publisher is Addison Wesley/Pearson Education. It is 318 pages and lists for $29.99. Amazon.com is now selling it for $19.79. 

Alfred also reviewed ExBoot, an external hard disk drive with a USB connection and backup software. Press a button on the ExBoot and it does an increment copy of the files on your computer (in English, this is copying just the files that changed since the last time you made a backup). The sexy thing about the ExBoot is that if your computer breaks to the point that Windows will not start up, you can boot from the ExBoot. Of course, your computer must be able to boot from a USB device. The vendor is AXIOMTEK and the street price for a 160GB model is about $200. If you have an extra hard disk lying around, you can buy an ExBoot with just the case and use your own disk with it. 

 

 July 13, 2005 Show

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Our guest was David Pogue reporting from MacWorld. We discussed the latest with Apple and the Macintosh computer. 

David writes two columns for the New York Times. The State Of The Art column appears weekly in the Circuits section of the paper and Pogue's Post is on the web site of the Times. David's personal web site is Pogue's Pages. This coming Monday, July 18th, David will be at the Apple store in SoHo.


This is a busy time for bugs. Microsoft yesterday released a slew of fixes for bugs in Windows, Office and Works. Many people use both Word 2000 and Word 2002, both had bug fixes released yesterday. A number of the bugs are considered critical, be sure to run Windows Update. See PCs falling victim to Windows flaws July 12, 2005 CNET News.com and Microsoft Patches Flaws Haunting IE, Word Users July 12, 2005 from eWeek. For instructions on installing the bug fixes and more details on the effected software, see the Office Watch newsletter from July 13, 2005.

Mozilla yesterday released a new version of their Firefox web browser, version 1.0.5, that fixes a dozen problems, two of them rated critical. Note that there are no patches yet for Firefox, every time the browser is updated you have to un-install the old version and then install the new version. A new version of their email program, Thunderbird, is expected any day. See  Firefox update squashes security bugs July 12, 2005 CNET News.com. 

Apple released a bunch of bug fixes for Tiger, bringing it up to version 10.4.2. 

And finally, Oracle released 49 bug fixes for assorted software of theirs. Michael is amazed that Oracle releases bug fixes every three months. Up until last year, they released fixes when necessary.

HP launched new inkjet printer technology, which promises faster color printing and lowers their cost of manufacturing. Photographs will print twice as fast. The print head will be part of the printer, now each ink cartridge includes its own print head. The first new printers to use this technology have more than 3,900 nozzles and emit 93 million droplets of ink per second. 

The creator of the Sasser worm got off (basically) with a slap on the wrist. In a trial that just ended in Germany, Sven Jaschan avoided jail and received a suspended sentence. He does, however, have to do 30 hours of community service. Jaschan actually benefited, in that he ended with a job at a computer security firm. Two people who identified Jaschan to the authorities will split a $250,000 reward from Microsoft. 

Phrack, an online magazine published by underground hackers, is shutting down shortly. It started back in 1985. 

IBM announced new versions of the PowerPC chip, the brains behind the Apple Macintosh computer. In a strange turn, the new models include a low power version of the chip, just the sort of thing Steve Jobs said Apple needed for use in new laptop computers and that IBM could not provide. There is more to this than meets the eye. There will also be a dual-core version of processor (basically this is two processors in a single box). The new PowerPC processors are expected to end up in new Macintosh computers. While Apple is switching away from the PowerPC and towards Intel, the changeover is not expected to be complete until some time in 2007.   

 

 July 6, 2005 Show

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There is, yet another, security bug in Internet Explorer. This one could allow an attacker to take total control of your computer. There is no fix for the bug. Sounds all too familiar. To protect yourself, Microsoft suggests changing the Zone security settings in IE - set both the local intranet zone and the Internet zone to "High". Or use Firefox. Changing these settings means you will prompted every time an ActiveX control runs, an unpleasant way to live. Microsoft also suggests removing their Java Virtual Machine where the bug actually lies. They have software to do this, but you have to beg for it.

This bug should not be confused with the bug that was patched on June 14th (assuming you ran Windows Update). That IE error also allowed someone to take over your computer. 

It is not uncommon for there to be known bugs in Internet Explorer that have no fixes. Two weeks ago, Microsoft announced that they were not going to fix another bug in Internet Explorer, one that affected pop-up windows. 

Firefox users should be sure to use the current version, 1.0.4, because new software has been released that targets the old, known and fixed bugs in earlier versions of Firefox. 
  Exploit heightens risk from old Firefox flaw July 6, 2005  CNET News.com

Sven Jaschan, the author of the Sasser worm admitted his guilt at his trial in Germany this week. He can get up to 5 years in jail under German law, however, because the crime was committed when he was a minor (17 years old) it is expected that he will get a much lighter sentence. 

Michael noted that when Microsoft releases bug fixes, the bad guys reverse engineer them to come up with software that attacks the bug on computers without the fix applied. The bug that Sasser attacked was patched on April 13, 2004. Eighteen days later, the Sasser worm was released. The moral to the story is be sure to run Windows Update periodically.

Also, your computer can be protected from worms by running a firewall program. At the time Sasser was causing grief, the firewall program built into Windows XP was not enabled by default. Now it is. Everyone on the show suggests running ZoneAlarm rather than the Windows firewall. Even the free version of ZoneAlarm is a much better firewall.  

AMD filed a lawsuit against Intel, claiming unfair monopolistic business practices. The suit claims Intel strong-armed companies such as Dell, Sony and Hewlett-Packard to use only Intel processors. Intel offered price cuts and rebates to these companies, but only if they avoided AMD processors. Intel has about 80% of the micro-processor market. 

The high end AMD processors have been well reviewed and are faster than the high end Intel processors. Hank has no reservations about using an AMD processor and pointed out they are cheaper. 

Goldman Sachs said the inkjet printer industry appears to have entered a new phase where competition will be more aggressive, pricing will be more intense and growth will be slower. They expect the battle will come down to Dell  and Hewlett-Packard with Lexmark and Epson being the likely losers. The upcoming summer launch of photo-printers by HP is expected to be priced aggressively. They pointed to Dell's $99 laser printer as an indication of how aggressive they are willing to be to gain market share. Alfred took this to mean that growth has run out in printers and that for a company to expand it will have to take market share from someone else. 
   Printers Set For Aggressive Pricing, Slow Growth June 30, 2005 Forbes Magazine

Olivia reviewed the book Web Design Garage by Marc Campbell. She liked it. It is an easy book that, although it doesn't explain everything in detail, does give you everything you need to create more than a basic web site. 


The topic of the day was GPS receivers, discussed by Hank, Alfred and David Chan. Alfred discussed the Garmin StreetPilot c330, the Lowrance iWay 500C, and the Magellan RoadMate 760. The Magellan has a SmartDetour feature. Alfred felt that all three did a good job of recalculating a new route promptly if you deviated from the original plan. 


One caller suggested that MSN maps are better than Mapquest.   
 

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