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The song played after Off The Hook and just before our show was "I Enjoy Being A Nerd" by the Studebakers. It is on The Studebakers Greatest Hats Album which Amazon carries. You can download the song at a number of music download sites. eMusic offers it in MP3 format (1.73 megabytes).
In The News
Some HP and Compaq laptops have a flaw in the RAM that can cause the system to crash. You can go to www.hp.com and get a test program to see if your laptop has the bad ram. Over 900,000 machines are effected. HP will replace any of the bad RAM modules for free. See the HP Memory Module Replacement Program
Due to bugs (a.k.a. mistakes by programmers) in Internet Explorer, your computer can get infected with malicious software (a keystroke logger) just by visiting a web site. There are two unique issues with this bug. The web site you visit is likely to be normally trustworthy. The web sites get infected first, thus causing them to distribute the bad software to you in a hidden manner. There is no way around this, it effects all users of Internet Explorer. The problem is know by four different names: Download.Ject, JS.Scob.Trojan, Scob and JS.Toofeer.
The best defense is not to use IE. Michael suggests the Firefox browser
available from www.mozilla.org. Firefox is
open source and completely free. So too is the Mozilla web browser also available
at mozilla.org. On July 2nd, Microsoft had a lot to say about this on July 2,
2004 (see below) when they issued a partial fix for the problem. The first item
below tells you how to check if your computer is
For background on this, see:
Norton AntiVirus should protect
you from this particular malware (they call it "JS.Scob.Trojan"). PC-cillin from Trend Micro
should also protect
you from it (they call it JS_SCOB.A). However, the basic bug remains and it
is likely other software will exploit it. The best solution, bar none, is
to avoid using Internet Explorer. You can get a free web browser at netscape.com,
mozilla.org or opera.com.
Articles on this give the official Microsoft solution - set your browser to the "High" security setting (Tools -> Internet Options -> Security tab -> Internet Zone -> Custom level button -> High). Michael does not think this is practical. For one thing, many web sites will not function correctly at High security. The solution to this, in turn, is to add the non-functional web site to the Trusted Zone. Again, Michael thinks this is a somewhat cumbersome procedure and your time and effort is better spent with an alternate browser. Also, a web site may get infected after you add it to the trusted zone. The latest security problems involved normally honest web sites that were infected themselves, resulting in their downloading malicious software to your computer.
The way Microsoft handled the distributing of the (partial) patch for this
problem was griped about by David Berlind of ZDnet on July 2, 2004
Do not attempt to use SpyHunter to detect this latest infection. SpyHunter is itself Spyware despite its being marketed as an anti-Spyware program. SpyHunter is the first ani-spyware program listed on download.com. Alfred pointed out that it is not often clear to the user, but many software download web sites are pay-to-play.
In an attempt to get more people to write programs for Windows (as opposed to Linux), Microsoft is coming out with light versions of many of their development tools. There will be "Express" versions available at lab.msdn.microsoft.com/express/. See too, a FAQ about these new Express products. There are Express versions of Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C#, Visual Studio, Visual J#, Visual Web Developer, SQL Server and more.
These are beta products. Quoting Microsoft "We have not announced pricing and licensing and will not do so until next calendar year. For the time being, we can tell you that the Express Editions will be low-cost and will continue to be easy to acquire." The New York Times said the products are expected to sell for around $50. The SQL Server product is the only one that will be free. According to Hank, Microsoft has defined "beta" as something they will not support but in all other ways, a working and functioning product.
To download this software you must sign up for a Microsoft Passport and provide a valid email address. In addition you must install the .NET runtime which Joe found created another userid which in turn caused him to have to log on to a computer that previously did not require logging on.
The Supreme Court has blocked the use of filtering software to keep offensive content away from children.
Dell is offering a $100 rebate to anyone who trades in their iPod for a Dell 15GB Digital Jukebox MP3
player which sells for $200. And if you act now, Dell will also include 25 song downloads from
Musicmatch (worth about $25).
Joe reviewed Sure Type www.suretype.com from Rampell Software a keyboard macro generator. From anywhere, type the characters for a macro followed by a backslash and Sure Type will do one of 4 things: open an application, file or folder, open a web site, type any common text or start a new email message to somebody with the TO field pre-filled in.
For example, Joe can type "show\" and his web browser will open to this web site. Joe uses it to provide a footer to many email messages he sends. When he wants to send Hank an email message, he types "hank\" and his email program starts up, creates a message to Hank and positions the cursor on the subject line.
Sure Type sells for $25 and there is a 14 day free trial. It is also available for the Macintosh.
While looking for a cheap, black/white laser printer, Hank came across the Samsung ML-1740 which he is very happy with. It sells from $100 to $131.It prints 17 pages/minute, which is very fast for a low end laser printer. The resolution is 600 x 600 dpi. The 1740 is both USB 2.0 and parallel port. A cheaper model is USB 1.1 only. The toner cartridges are also relatively cheap resulting in a very low cost per page.
Like all low-end printers, it does not include the necessary cables to connect it to a computer. Also, the toner cartridge it ships with is only a third of the normal capacity. Printer vendors refer to this as a "starter" cartridge. PC Magazine reviewed it June 7, 2004.
There is now a $500 color laser printer from HP that Alfred called impressive. While he hasn't done a full evaluation of it, the word on the street is that its quite good for such a brutally low price.
Hank often uses the remote access feature included in Windows XP Professional to remotely access computers belonging to his clients. When he calls them on the phone and ask them their IP address, the one reported by Windows is an internal IP address. Computers on a LAN are assigned IP addresses intended for use only within the LAN. Typically, the LAN is connected via a router to the Internet. The router has an external IP address, that is, an IP address seen to anyone on the Internet. To get into a machine sitting behind the router, Hank needs to know the external IP address, but Windows is only aware of the internal one.
A computer nerd would point his web browser to the router and use the web interface in the router to determine the external IP address. This is a bit much however for non-techies.
One way to learn your external IP address is from www.whatismyip.com or www.whatismyip.org. The web site IP Chicken not only displays your external IP address, it also reports the name of your computer.Hank likes the free ShowIP program from bitsoft which reports both the internal and external IP addresses and also the name of your ISP.
After the show, Michael found another free program called My IPs that the vendor Camtech 2000 says "is a little utility that will return your actual Internet IP address even if you're behind a Firewall. It accomplishes this by connecting to remote Web Site and returning the IP address from there. In addition it will return your ISP Customer ID, Host name and Network IPs from all the Computers connected to your Network, if any exist."
In Windows XP and 2000, the DOS command IPCONFIG can be used to learn your internal IP address. In Windows 9x, the equivalent program is winipcfg.Netstat is a Windows command runnable from a DOS window/command prompt. It is not a web site. Netstat is included in Windows, it does not have to be downloaded. To learn more about netstat, open a DOS window and enter "netstat /?" without the quotes.
Bill asked about Outlook Express. He was advised by his ISP to read email as plain text. While this is very safe, HTML formatted emails will look pretty ugly. He was also advised to turn on the option "Warn me when other applications try to send email as me" which he did, but he never gets warned (this is on the Security tab). Michael said this no longer applies. In the old days viruses used your email program to send out copies of themselves. Nowadays, viruses are smart enough to send email messages on their own and no longer depend on Outlook Express. Joe suggested setting OE not to preview your email, but rather to just list it.
Should you uninstall programs on your computer that you no longer use? Joe said yes. Alfred and Michael said no, feeling that the risk of the uninstall breaking something is just not worth taking to save a small amount of disk space.
Sanjay is a Verizon DSL customer trying to run a web server program on his computer but he can't see the web site from the Internet. His router is doing port forwarding just fine and when he sets the web site port to 8080, it works fine. Michael suggested removing the router and seeing if he can then access his web site. Our best guess was that Verizon is blocking port 80 because they don't want people running web servers out of their houses and apartments. Even if he gets this working, many (most? all?) Verizon DSL customers have dynamic IP addresses that change over time. Anyone trying to access his personal web site would need to know the current IP address. It could be different in an hour. To see the status of ports on your router or computers, Alfred suggested using Shields Up! at www.grc.com
Al needs a recommendation for photo editing software. Hank recommended Paint Shop Pro 8.0 from Jasc at www.jasc.com/products which he liked better than Elements which is a bit harder to learn. Paint Shop Pro sells for $84 to $94 from the vendor and there is a free trial. Alfred likes Photo Impact from Ulead at www.ulead.com/pi/runme.htm. It sells for $90 from the vendor and also has a free trial.Tom has a Windows Me computer that runs slow as heck even after a ton of Spyware was removed. Hank suggested looking at the programs that run automatically at boot time and also checking the options on his anti-virus program. If it is scanning every file for viruses this might slow down the computer. Michael noted that Windows Me is miserable at reporting what is going within the computer. It has nothing to compare to Task Manager offered in Windows XP and 2000. He suggested downloading and running Process Explorer from www.sysinternals.com. It is a free program that does a great job at telling you more than you care to know about all the programs running in your computer. If anything can pinpoint the reason for the sluggishness, Michael felt that Process Explorer is the way to go. Joe warned that Windows Me sometimes just needs to be re-installed. Tom had tried to run a defrag, but even after running all night long, it was only 1% complete. This is fairly common, Joe suggested booting to safe mode to run the defrag.
George wants to know what a subnet mask is because he is setting up a small home network and Windows is asking for it. Michael said that subnet mask tells the networking software which part of the IP address to pay attention to and which part to ignore (this is somewhat simplistic). An IP address is a unique number that identifies a computer on a TCP/IP based network. There are some IP addresses set aside for internal use only, that is, they will never be used on the Internet at large. One option for a home network is to use IP addresses that start with 10. In this case the subnet mask should be 255.0.0.0. Another option is IP addresses that start with 192.168.0 and their subnet mask should be 255.255.255.0. Usually, Windows supplies the subnet mask automatically and the defaults should be just fine.
George also asked what a Mac address is and where do you find it. When discussing networking, Mac refers to Media Access Control, not to computers from Apple. The Mac address is a unique number assigned to every NIC card. The NIC card is the hardware in your computer that connects it to an Ethernet network (pretty much all computer networks are based on Ethernet). NIC stands for Network Interface Card. Just as IP addresses are used by TCP/IP networking software, so too the Mac address is used by lower level networking software. For the most part, this not something you need to know or deal with. In Windows 2000 you can find the Mac address of your NIC card using the System Information utility. Drill down from Components -> Network -> Adapter. You can find System Information from Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools.
Murray is missing the command.com file on his Windows XP computer. Michael said this is just the type of problem that System Restore was designed to fix. He had disabled System Restore. Hank suggested going to another Windows XP computer (match Home with Home) and copying the file. Alfred suggested doing a Repair type install of Windows XP, but this will necessitate hours spent with Windows Update.
The song played on the air just before our show started was from Off the Hook, not from us. We think it was called "The nerd song".
Thanks to the Brookdale Computer Club for their donation to WBAI, after the fund raising drive ended.
In The News
Comdex has been cancelled this year, they hope to have a show in 2005.
Yahoo has increased the amount of storage space available to users of their free email service. The old limit was 4 megabytes, the new limit is 100. If you pay Yahoo $20 a year, then you get the largest amount of email storage known to all mankind, 2 gigabytes. In addition, you get POP3 access to your Yahoo email and no more ads. Unlike the upcoming Google Gmail service, Yahoo does not read your email to show you ads, only to scan for viruses.
Philips Electronics is about to release the fastest DVD burner in the world.
It will be able to burn DVDs at 16x speed. Computer makers will pay between $97 and $109
per unit. Consumers are expected to pay around $218. The drive also supports two layers
giving it a maximum storage capacity of 8.5 gigabytes. Prices are tumbling on
both DVD burners and CD burners. Certain colors are cheaper than others.
Our guest was David Perry of Trend Micro.
The FTC will not sponsor a do-no-spam database of email addresses. We
discussed why the US government favors a directory of phone numbers that don't
want solicitations but does not favor the same thing for email.
Microsoft is considering offering an anti-virus program. David reminded us that twelve years ago Microsoft tried to offer an anti-virus program but found they could not maintain the product. Two years ago, they bought a Romanian software company called G-cad with a mature, well-respected anti-virus product. David said that as part of the next release of Windows (known by the code name Longhorn) the guts of the OS are being re-structured and made more friendly to anti-virus software.
Hank wondered if Spyware and Adware are the more important threat nowadays, more dangerous than viruses. David pointed out that there is much malicious software on the Internet over and above just Spyware and Adware. Joe will soon be reviewing a book called "Hacking For Dummies".
We discussed anti-Spyware programs. Two good free ones are Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy. A good paid program is Pest Patrol. Spybot can run continuously in the background and prevent Spyware programs run running or getting installed in the first place.
There are programs that claim to be anti-Spyware programs, but in reality they are Spyware! One such program is SpyHunter. Avoid it. Ad-aware will detect and remove SpyHunter. See SpyHunter now included in Ad-aware's database from Lavasoft.
Trend Micro is currently co-operating with ZoneLabs, the vendor of ZoneAlarm to make sure the two programs co-operate better together.
James asked how long the subscription was for PC-cillin. It's one year from the date you install the program. The new version of PC-cillin Internet Security should be out in the beginning of October 2004.
Alan asked why you have to turn off anti-virus protection to install software. David Perry said you really don't any more, that it's just a holdover from the bad old days. Joe and Hank didn't fully agree citing GoBack and Spybot as examples.
Kyle wanted to interface a Sony audio minidisk to his computer. David suggested a program called Clean by Steinberg that captures vinyl analog recordings to .wav and .mp3 files. It has an auto track marker based on line levels. The files on a Sony minidisk are stored digitally.
Danny called to say that any business with high capacity phone circuits can send out any callerid they want. For example, he said if you get a call from the third floor nurses station in a hospital, they want the main number of the hospital to be visible, not the specific number of the phone on the third floor.
Ed gets a program not responding error every time he shuts down Windows XP. The program is rundll, which is a shell program used to run many other programs. Hank suggested turning off all programs that run automatically at start-up. Hopefully, this will resolve the problem and then you can add back the programs one at a time to see which one is the problem. You control startup program in Windows XP with the "msconfig" command.
The show was pre-empted this week.
We will be pre-empted next week. This time for Bloomsday rather than fund raising.
Hank and Joe thanked everyone who contributed to the WBAI fund raising drive the last time we were on the air. If you have any questions regarding your premiums, call the station at 212-209-2848 to speak with Paul Ashby.
In the News
The patent office is at it again. Microsoft patented using a click to start a
program on a PDA. You can't make this stuff up.
Sony will stop selling their Clié handheld PDA in the U.S.
There was a bug in TurboTax: Intuit's TurboTax Users Unwittingly Prepay Taxes Reuters May 19, 2004
Cingular made a big oops. Knowing only a phone number and billing zip code,
anyone could get your phone records and pay your phone bill with your credit
card that they already had on file.
There is a new version of Microsoft Office for the Mac. From what Hank has read, there is no compelling reason to upgrade. An argument could be made this has been true of many versions of Office for quite a while. The Mac version does not contain a database.
The Canadian government has made a deal with Sun to use Star Office. Star Office is based on Open Office, but has some added features. Perhaps most importantly, it is supported by Sun and is much much much cheaper than Microsoft Office.
There is a Wallon virus, that spreads by mail and appears to be an email message from Yahoo.
Identity theft is becoming a larger and larger problem. A spammer was recently sent to jail who had stolen over 300 identities. The FTC deals with more stolen identity problems than any other issue. Joe advised: if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
There is a bogus Outlook upgrade going around. All free upgrades from Microsoft come from Windows Update, never from a pop-up ad. There is also a new update for Eudora users.
GoBack is a program that Joe and Hank highly recommend. It tracks all updates to all files on your computer, thus letting you go back to a prior point in time should your computer start acting up. However, Joe had a problem with it on one of his Windows XP computers. With GoBack active, the computer is very problematical. When Joe un-installed GoBack, more than just GoBack got backed out. The first re-boot brought him to a sign-on page for Windows XP, something Joe had turned off a long time ago. After signing on to Windows XP, Windows Update kicked in to download bug fixes. Joe does not like Windows Update automatically installing bug fixes, so he disabled this feature long ago. Now it was back. He doesn't mind having Windows Update tell him about newly available bug fixes, but he never wants them installed automatically.
There is a new version (5) of ZoneAlarm, both a paid Pro version and a free version. Joe had problems with ZoneAlarm Pro 5. One of the paid versions of ZoneAlarm includes its own anti-virus software, which ZoneLabs has licensed from Computer Associates. There are problems however with its anti-virus conflicting with other anti-virus software you may already have on your computer. For the time being, it's probably best to avoid version 5 of ZoneAlarm. For more on this read New ZoneAlarm Version Disappoints by Fred Langa.
Samsung is now the number one flat panel vendor in the world having recently overtaken Philips. They are also a big player in memory chips and warned that there is a shortage of memory, in part due to the popularity of cell phones. Hank has seen the prices of RAM rise in the last few weeks.
The Drake computer school has closed. 125 staff and teachers were dismissed and the students, who paid in advance, are left out in the cold. This was blamed on the CEO's having been shot.
If you get an email message asking "Hey whats up? Remember me?"
delete it!. It is the DemonizeT trojan horse program, in other words, it is bad
Intel will, in the future, change their WiFi chipset to ship with security enabled by default. So far, it has always shipped with security turned off.
Where can you download a firewall on the Internet? Joe suggested www.zonelabs.com where you can get a free firewall. Joe likes their paid Pro version.
Mike asked what OEM means. It stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and applies to both hardware and software. The OEM version of Windows, for example, is a copy that Microsoft sold to the company making the computer.
Fergus asked the difference between a recovery disc and a restore disc. These are two terms for the same thing. Each is a CD (or multiple CDs) that restore your computer to a like-new state. That is, they make the computer look like it did when it shipped from the factory. Tech support people love recovery discs because it wipes out all problems and gets the customer off their back. However, you lose all your data files and all programs that you have installed. The question really is, the difference between a restore disc and a Windows disc. A Windows CD lets you re-install Windows in whole or in part, but does nothing regarding any other programs that may have come pre-installed on your computer. A Windows CD also enables the Recovery Console which is not a disc, but a special mode of operation for fixing Windows when it breaks.
If you are up to it, you can make your own recovery disc after having installed all the programs you want to use and applying all the necessary patches. Doing so requires disk image software. You can also get equivalent functionality using partitioning software to copy the Windows partition.
A caller asked an interesting question, if you have more than one product that does the same thing can it cause a conflict? You should not install or run more than one firewall program. The same is true for anti-virus programs. It is not necessarily true for anti-Spyware programs where you can safely install and use both Ad-aware and Spybot. This is assumes that neither of the anti-Spyware programs is running in the background constantly watching for Spyware. If you are using one of the anti-Spyware programs in this manner, then shut it down before running the other program. Joe warned that Ad-aware will report Spybot as being malware and vice versa.
Alfred and Michael had the night off.
The show was pre-empted this week.
Webmaster: Michael Horowitz Page Last Updated: July 10, 2004