June 2005  Show Summaries

Show Summaries Below
June 29, 2005  June 22, 2005  June 15, 2005  June 8, 2005  June 1, 2005

 June 29, 2005 Show

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In The News

The Supreme Court ruled that Grokster and Streamcast (the company that makes Morpheus) could be sued for copyright infringement. Both companies make ad-supported file sharing software and the court ruled that to make their software widely used, they promoted its use for copying copyrighted material. Up to now, the RIAA had been suing individuals, now they and the movie companies can sue these file sharing companies since the main reason they promote the software is to steal copyrighted material. Note that Streamcast is not Streamload. We host the audio recordings of this show with Streamload. 

Microsoft issued an update rollup (a baby service pack) this week for Windows 2000. A Microsoft spokesman said they are not sure if it contains new bug fixes or is just a collection of old ones. The description of the update rollup says "...this update rollup contains several important non-security updates.". Windows 2000 users should download it.  

As of July 1st, Windows 2000 goes from mainstream support to extended support. The impact of this is that you will now have to pay for any non-security related bug fixes. 

The Supreme Court also ruled that cable TV companies no longer have to share their cables. In New York City, Earthlink uses Time Warner to provide their cable modem Internet service. DSL however, is required to be shared. 

Apple has cut the prices on some of their iPods. For example, a 60GB model was $450, it is now $400. The 1GB Shuffle model was $150, now its $130.

Apple released a new version (4.9) of iTunes which, for the first time, includes podcasting. The software has a directory of about 3,000 podcasts.

Yet again, proposals for eliminating SPAM by creating new rules and schemes and architectures were proposed. 

Our guest was Patrick Hinojosa from Panda Software which claims to have entirely new software that can block new, just released viruses. Panda is based in Spain. 

The problem with all current anti-virus programs is that they are late to the game. After a virus is released, it has to get reported to the software vendors, they have to analyze and come up with a signature for the virus, then they have to make the signature available and then all their customers have to download the signature. Until your computer has a signature for a specific virus, you are not protected from it. All this takes time, and in the interim, you can get infected with a new, just-released virus. 

To counter this, Panda claims to have written artificial intelligence software that watches the activity on your computer and can block new viruses based on their actions rather than on a signature. They call this True Prevent and it is a feature of the anti-virus software. Their software also works the old classic signature way too.

When the software detects a virus, it kills it. No questions asked. Patrick claimed that the software can tell the difference between actions taken by a person on purpose and malicious actions. He claims they have virtually no false positives and the software is installed on about a half-million home computers. Any time the software detects a new virus, it not only stops it, it also reports the actions of the virus back to Panda. If it is a new virus, they create a signature for it. 

The Staples house brand of anti-virus software is from Panda and includes the True Prevent feature. True Prevent should also stop Spyware as it looks for malicious activities. Patrick said that True Prevent is about 80% accurate in detecting new malicious software. 

They sell a Platinum (high end) and Titanium (middle class) version of their software and other bundles too. It's confusing as to what is in what. True Prevent personal is just the True Prevent software and can be installed on top of your existing anti-virus software if you want to keep using your current AV program. The platinum version comes with a Panda firewall, the Titanium is more for a novice. 

Joe used the software for about two weeks and didn't like how it changed the content of some email messages saying whether it was suspected of being SPAM or not.  

 June 22, 2005 Show

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Jack Kilby, the developer of the integrated circuit has passed away. He invented it in 1958 and it first appeared in a computer in 1964.  

There was, yet another, data security breach, this one exposing information on potentially 40 million credit cards. The problem was at CardSystems which processed credit card transactions for Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover. The FDIC also lost data on their own employees.
  CardSystems' Data Left Unsecured Wired News June 22, 2005 

The article in PC magazine that reviewed 10 anti-Spyware programs (but not CounterSpy) is Weeding Out Spies dated June 19, 2005. Hank mentioned that the free Spybot Search and Destroy just released a new version, 1.4. You can get it from safer-networking.org and read the PC magazine review of it. Security Pipeline also reviewed Spybot 1.4 on June 16th. 

In Oman, the use of Skype is blocked by the only ISP. This has something to do with a new for-profit telephone company. 

The Gartner group reported that many computer science majors are not going into computer programming. 

We discussed the new Dell laser printer 1100 which sells for only $99. It prints up to 15 pages/minute at 600 dpi. Like many printers it comes with a starter cartridge, this one is rated for 1,000 pages, whereas a full cartridge is 2,000 pages. It connects to a computer using the older USB v1.1, but Alfred said this would not be a drag on printing performance. This the first laser printer that sells for $99 without any rebates. 

Hank thought it looked a lot like the Samsung ML-1710 laser printer. That printer has specs that are a bit better than the Dell 1100, but it normally sells for $150. Currently though, there is an $80 rebate on it. Alfred pointed out that Dell get their printers from Lexmark, Samsung and others and does not reveal the real manufacturer for each model. Joe said the price of toner cartridges was much more important than the initial cost of the printer itself. The full size (2,000 page) cartridge is $65. 

Olivia reviewed the book Degunking Your Mac by Joli Ballew (Published by Paraglyph; June, 2004). She felt it was only appropriate for new Mac users and not nearly as good as the corresponding book for Windows. 

Hank told about dealing with a computer that wouldn't start. The problem was solved by refreshing the CMOS. He suggested doing a web search on "cmos restore". 

Hank also told about a 2.6 GHz Northwind Celeron and 2.4 GHz Prescott Celeron D. The Prescott is a scaled down Pentium with twice as much Level 2 cache as the Northwind model. Hank found the 2.4 Celeron D to be twice as fast as the 2.6 Northwind Celeron. He suggests that, considering the price advantage of a Celeron over a Pentium, it's an excellent way to go. 

A listener emailed us asking if a web site that starts with www2 as opposed to www, is on the new Internet2 high speed network. No. The name of a web site can be anything, the use of three Ws is not required and the name does not imply anything. Most web sites, including this one, can be accessed without the three Ws up front.  

A caller asked for advice on how to quiet his noisy laptop computer. There is nothing he can do. If it had been a desktop machine there were a number of things he could have done, but none of these apply to a laptop computer. 

How can you tell if a laptop is overheating? Some can monitor their internal temperature. If yours can you may be able to get software that reports on it either from the computer or the motherboard manufacturer. Hank suggested a program called Motherboard Monitor. 

 June 15, 2005 Show

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In the News 

Yesterday was bug fix day at Microsoft. Be sure to run Windows Update, there were a number of critical bug fixes including one with Internet Explorer and PNG files. 

Seagate announced new Momentus hard disks for laptop computers. Their rotation speed is 7200RPM which is very rare for laptops (most are slower) and they will be available in sizes up to 100 gigabytes. They are SATA disks, support Native Command Queuing and are claimed to withstand the rugged notebook computer environment. 

Hank spoke about other new Seagate hard disks with automatic encryption built into the disk drive itself. This offers great protection for sensitive files should your laptop computer be lost or stolen. However, the flip side of the coin is that if files are not backed up, the normal disk recovery tools for things like inadvertently deleting files will no longer work.

The show was devoted to Apple Macintosh computers. Our guest was Arthur Kaye who felt that OS X version 1.4 (a.k.a. Tiger) is terrific and a worthwhile upgrade to anyone using an older version of OS X. 

One feature he likes is Spotlight - built in file searching. Joe said it sounded much like X1 for Windows. Both index most everything on your hard disk making data easier to find. Initially, Spotlight takes a while to build the index and thereafter it constantly updates the index in the background. Arthur said you never notice a performance hit and he has used Tiger for a month. X1 can be told not to index graphics files a feature Spotlight does not support. Also, Arthur said that turning off Spotlight was hard, requiring the terminal program to issue a Unix command. OS X is derived from Linux which was derived from Unix.

As for the move-over to Intel processors, Arthur expects Tiger to perform better on Intel processors.

A big question is whether someone should by a new PowerPC based Mac now or wait for the upcoming Intel based models? The new Intel Macs are a long way away, probably 18 to 30 months before the first models are available (in other words, they are expected in the fourth quarter of 2006). In the past, Apple has been very good regarding backward compatibility. For example, current OS X based Macs can still run OS9 in a sort of virtual machine. The first few OS X based Macs could also boot OS9 directly. Arthur said there is no reason to wait for an Intel based Mac, he was 98% to 99% sure that current Mac software will work on new machines.

Arthur has used Adobe Photoshop on both Windows and Macs and said they are identical both in terms of look and feel and performance.

What the Apple Plan To Switch to Intel Chips Means for Consumers  by Walter Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal

Apple's Intel switch: Jobs' keynote transcript June 15, 2005 by CNET News.com

A caller with a Dell computer had the hard disk die on him. Dell sent him a new disk and wants the old one back. Problem is, the old one has sensitive data on it. If the old disk is mostly functional then Joe suggested using a program called Disk Shredder that can be downloaded from download.com. If the disk is so far gone that no program can write to it, then Hank suggested a bulk eraser - a powerful magnet that will scramble all the data. A later caller (Dan) said to pay Dell for the drive, keep it, then break it into pieces with a hammer

Paul used to do disk image backups on a Windows machine and just bought a Mac. He wanted to know if there is disk image software for a Mac. Arthur advised him to backup his home directory first thing. The Mac, being a Unix derivative, is natively multi-user and stores all data for a user in their home directory. Next he suggested backing up the applications folder. Arthur said Dantz Retrospect is very powerful but Paul tried it under Windows and didn't like it. Arthur uses a free backup program from LaCie called Silverkeeper - but it does not do incremental copies.

Emma asked when will there be a G5 laptop? There may never be one, this is part of reason for moving to Intel. G5 processors run too hot to put into a laptop.

Alfred suggested the macrumors.com web site which, despite the name, usually has accurate information. 

Gabe called to say that a PowerMac G3 runs OS X Tiger just fine if you have enough ram. 

 June 8, 2005 Show

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A bug has been reported in Firefox 1.0.3 and 1.0.4 (but not in 1.0.2). A malicious website in one window can load content into a frame that's part of a different site in another window. This can used to spoof the user. See the Mozillazine article. This advisory from security firm Secunia notes that a similar hole has existed in Internet Explorer 5 and 6 since June 2004 and has not yet been fixed. The work-around for Firefox is to only have a single browser window open at once, especially when doing online banking. 

Internet week reported that the same product is sold for different prices depending on the profile of your computer. Customized retail pricing is legal. 

Transmeta competes with Intel and AMD specializing in low-powered processors. They just decided to get out of the business. They prodded Intel to make more power efficient processors. 

Apple is moving from PowerPC processors to Intel processors. Hank thinks this is a good thing. He expects to see translation software that will let you run Windows applications on OS X running on an Intel processor. Alfred thinks this is a terrible idea. 

A Joy of Tech cartoon called The Five Stages of Intel Macs 

Earthlink will be offering VoIP on regular telephones in a few cities. By early next year it should be more widespread. No pricing was announced. 

Skype offers free computer-to-computer VoIP for free. Joe uses it often and says it works very well. Except that it requires him to sit at his computer with a headset on. To get around this, Joe discussed the Actiontec Internet Phone Wizard which lets you use a normal telephone to interface with your free Skype account. It's very small, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. It plugs into a USB port on your computer and powers itself from the USB port. Your computer must be on, and running Skype, for the device to do its thing. It can be used with normal computer-to-computer Skype and also with SkypeOut. 

In addition, it handles incoming normal (land-line) phone calls and has built-in call waiting. That is, if you are talking to a Skype user and a normal phone call comes in, it lets you put the Skype user on hold and talk on your normal phone line. The normal phone can be a cordless phone, which is how Joe used it. When the phone rings normally, it indicates a normal incoming call. There is a special ring for incoming Skype calls. Joe said it's like getting an extra phone line. It also does speed dialing for your Skype buddies. To get a Skype dial tone, you press the pound sign twice. 

You can however, only talk to existing Skype users for free. It only works with Windows XP and 2000. Toms Networking reviewed it in March 2005. Currently PC Connection is selling it for just under $60. Joe highly recommends it. 

Both Joe and Hank had problems with MyWebExPC a remote control product. On both of their computers it was looping and using all the cpu horsepower when the product was not even being used. 

Joe also had a problem with Panda Internet Security. He could not get any answer at all from either the Panda technical support or their PR people. 

Alfred had a problem with an old version of Roxio Easy CD creator. When he clicked on the icon, nothing happened. It seemed that MSN messenger was blocking the front end from opening. Alfred got some bug fixes for Easy CD creator from Roxio and that fixed the problem. 

This led to a discussion of DLL hell. 

Next week - a show on Apple Macintosh computers. 

Tom called on a Vonage line. Vonage is the largest independent VoIP provider and in the past they have had problems connecting their customers to 911. 

The SpeechTEC conference will be held August 1-4, 2005 at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square. 

Marion has a Dell Inspiron and the cursor moves all over by itself. One suggestion was to get the latest drivers for the touchpad. Another suggestion was to use an external mouse and disable the touchpad altogether. One guess was that there was a bad connection between the touchpad and the rest of the machine. On recent machines you should not cause the mouse to move by accidentally brushing your shirt sleeve against the touchpad. On an HP laptop that Hank uses, he disabled the touchpad by preventing a program from running at startup time.  

 June 1, 2005 Show

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The show this week was pretty much devoted to fund raising. There were no phone calls from listeners. 

We thank everyone who contributed to WBAI and supported the show.