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May 2003 Archive

Shows  (on this page)
  May 28, 2003  May 21, 2003   May 14, 2003   May 7, 2003 

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

May 28, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

We were not on the air, pre-empted due to fund raising.  

Len asked via email: I was sent a Microsoft Word document and I want to edit a picture in the document in Photoshop. How can I change the this document to a jpeg photo file without having to print it and scan it back in. I would think there would be some conversion in Word but I can't find it. Thanks for your help. 
Joe responded: Depending on the quality you require there are many options. The easiest, is to to highlight the picture, copy it to the clipboard and paste it into your picture editor. There are also a variety of commercial and shareware editors designed for this purpose...

May 21, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

We were not on the air, pre-empted due to fund raising. 1.1 Beta2 Hits the Web May 23, 2003.

Ernest in Brooklyn asked via email: I have a power Macintosh 7200 operating on system 8.5.1 my external hard drive is a apple 8900 and we experience a system crash and it locked and wont allow me to save anything to it could you advise me on how to unlock it. 
Joe responded: This requires more than a quick is covered in Article ID: 21103 in the Apple knowledgebase which you can access here. Good luck... and I hope you have backed up all your data. 

May 14, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

This was a fund raising show, we were on for an extra hour. During the show we offered these premiums and more, but they were only available while the show was on the air.   

The topic was Open Office, a free program that competes with Microsoft Office. Our guests were Sam Hiser of and David Perry of Trend Micro.

Open Office does most of what Microsoft Office does. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, drawing program and more. These Open Office applications can work with documents created by the programs in Microsoft Office. Open Office is the open-source version of Sun's Star Office suite of programs. It is the largest open source software project in terms of lines of code. Around 350,000 people are downloading Open Office every week. 

There are versions of Open Office for Windows, Linux, Unix and the Mac OS (beta and only for OS X). All current versions of Windows are supported: Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4 SP6, 2000 and XP. It runs on a processor as old as 150 MHz and with as little as 32 MB of RAM. The hard disk requirements vary from 100 MB to 250 MB depending on your options and Operating System.

The word processor in Open Office is called Writer, the spreadsheet is Calc, the presentation program is Impress (competes with PowerPoint) and the drawing program is called Draw. There is also a web page editing program and an equation editor called Math. Open Office does not include a database program (Star Office does), but then neither does the standard version of Microsoft Office. These programs can both read files created by their Microsoft Office equivalent applications and also save new files in the format used by Microsoft Office. In addition, Open Office supports its own file formats which are said to use about half the disk space compared to the Microsoft file formats.

The download of Open Office is about 52 MB, too much for a dial-up user. Hank offered to burn a CD of Open Office for listeners that pledged an extra $5 during the show. He also offered to burn the Linux and Apple versions of Open Office. Sam offered to provide extra documentation for the CD. The Open Office web site has a list of companies that sell the product on a CD-ROM for not much more than the cost of materials. 

The current version is Finding the differences between this version and earlier versions was difficult.

Hank found that the programs in Open Office took twice as long to load as those in Microsoft Office. In fact, he thought something was wrong because there is no hourglass displayed indicating the computer is working. He also warned not to take all the defaults when installing the product. Open Office took "ownership" of the Word documents and Hank struggled to assign this back to Word.

Hank found table handling in Writer worked differently than in Word. He struggled with inserting a new column and new row. Then he found that deleting a table was not intuitive. There is no function to delete a table. You have to mark a spot before the table, through the table, to a spot after the table and then hit the delete key. If you position the cursor in a table, and do Edit -> Select all -> Delete key, it deletes all the data in the table, but not the table itself. Still, in all, Hank felt the ramp up learning curve was fairly minor.

Who is going to use Open Office? Sam felt that Windows users would be the largest audience. Hank suggested it is a perfect fit for non-profits, especially those using donated machines. It is also perfect for schools, churches and maybe even WBAI. 

Many consumer PCs comes with Microsoft Works which does not include a spreadsheet and includes a less than full-featured word processor. An interesting question was why computer vendors include Works rather than Open Office which has to be cheaper. Sam blamed Microsoft.

For background information on Open Office see:

Michael was unable to find any books on Open Office at Amazon by searching for "open office". Sam suggested searching for "" and mentioned the OpenOffice.Org 1.0 Resource Kit by Solveig Haugland and Floyd Jones (February 2003, $28) and the StarOffice 6.0 Office Suite Companion by the same two authors (September 2002, $28). 

The Open Office web site serves developers as much as, if not more so, than potential users. As such, it can be hard to find information. Here are some suggested links in the web site. 

May 7, 2003 Show     RETURN TO TOP

In the News

Hank reported on the recent Trenton Computer Fair where attendance was about the same as last year but far fewer vendors. He noted that the major computer stores such as CompUSA and Microcenter now sell much of the merchandise was previously only available a computer fairs. Hank got a bargain, a low end digital camera for $5. It had no zoom lens, 640x480 resolution and a built-in flash. However there are no drivers for Windows XP. A word to the wise when buying a camera.  

The latest scam on eBay is people pretending to be an escrow company. They take your money and that's the last you see of it. How do you know which escrow companies are con artists and which are legitimate? Always pay with a credit card, never cash, never money orders.
Safety Net for Online Auction Enthusiasts Reuters May 10, 2003 
Risky Bid-ness Washington Post May 1, 2003 
Bidding for Trouble? Online Auctions Have Everything -- Including, Increasingly, Scam Artists Washington Post May 11, 2003

As soon as you suspect that you are the victim of identity theft and credit fraud, call Trans Union's Fraud Victim Assistance Department at 800-680-7289. They review your credit file with you and identify potentially fraudulent activity that may have been made in your name. A protective statement is added to your credit report to alert future creditors of the fraud. The statement warns them to verify your identification before opening new accounts in your name. Trans Union will also send the alert to the other two credit agencies. Read more from Trans Union

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) settled with the four students who they had sued. Each student was charged with a per-song penalty of $150,000. The students will pay damages in the amount of $12,000 to $17,000. There was no action taken against 18 schools. 
Students settle lawsuits with recording industry IDG News Service May 5, 2003 

Apple has a new music download service, the first one that lets you pay per song without fixed monthly membership costs. It is currently available only to people with Macintosh computers running OS X, but a Windows version is expected by the end of 2003. A single song is  99 cents, albums are about $10. One annoyance with the service is that the files you download are not in the popular MP3 format but are instead in AAC format. Apple claims AAC offers better quality with smaller files. If there is a quality difference, it is small. Likewise, the file size difference is small. Many handheld devices can play MP3 files, none (almost none?) can play AAC files. To get your songs onto a CD for use in any CD player, you have to burn a standard, old fashioned, audio CD. Copying the AAC files to the CD will be useless. The ACC files can be played on three different Macintosh computers. If you want to play it on a fourth, you have to first un-authorize it from one of the other three.  
Apple's New Service Beats Illegal Free Sites By Walter S. Mossberg April 30, 2003 

One web site where you can legally download music is Some of the songs there are free, others not. Sue Keller, who did the theme song for our show, has her music available there. 

Alfred mentioned that HP recently came out with a $799 color laser printer, the cheapest color laser yet. Time was, black and white laser printers sold for $1,000. Hank said that you can now buy a black and white laser printer for as low as $150. 

 Caller Questions 

A caller asked about the new USB standard, 2.0 (the old standard is called USB 1.1). USB 2.0 is about 40 times as fast as the older USB standard. To get the faster speed you need both a USB 2.0 device and a USB 2.0 port. All USB devices can work with any USB port, however a USB 1.1 device will always operate at the slower speed, even if plugged in to a USB 2.0 port. You can add USB 2.0 ports to a desktop computer with a PCI card and to a laptop computer with a PCMCIA card. Computer Geeks sells a $27 kit with a USB 2.0 PCI card, USB 2.0 cables and a USB 2.0 hub (we have no relationship with Computer Geeks). Many companies make USB 2.0 PCI cards. Alfred pointed out that a mouse and keyboard would not take advantage of the faster USB 2.0 speeds because they are inherently very slow devices. Devices that will make good use of the faster speed are CD burners, DVD burners, external hard disks and scanners. 

David had a couple Trojan programs on his computer and wondered if there was a way to trace them back to see how they got there. There is not. Trojan programs are a type of virus and you can run a free on-line scan of your computer for viruses at

Kyle asked about DVD authoring packages. He wants to put a password on a CD or DVD so that only if you know the password, will you be able to see the files on the disc (the files are pictures). He was advised to check with Roxio about their Easy CD Creator product, but no one was sure if supported passwords on the CDs and DVDs it creates. Hank said check with Alfred said he might look into encryption products and suggested as a source. After the show, Michael found a free encryption program called Iron Key. It encrypts files into self-extracting executables and a password is needed for decrypting. The recipient only needs the password, they do not need to install software. It works on Windows 95 / 98 / ME / NT 4.0 / 2000 and  XP. Iron Key is a free version of Silver Key which does the same basic thing but with more features. 

When a program crashes in Windows XP, the default is to send a report back to Microsoft. It was mentioned on the show that this report might include information you would rather Microsoft not know. Initially their intention was just to gather information about program crashes. Starting with Service Pack 1 however they are also including information in these reports that can personally identify you. Everyone on the show does not think you should trust Microsoft in this regard. In both XP Home and XP Professional, you can change the default so that these reports are not sent by:

Right-click on My Computer and select Properties. You'll see the System Properties dialog. Select the Advanced tab then click on the Error Reporting button. This brings up a dialog that lets you disable error reporting altogether. If you prefer, you can configure error reporting for specific programs by choosing Enable Error Reporting and then clicking on the Chose Programs button. That way, if you have an application that causes a lot of errors and you've already sent Microsoft half a dozen reports, you can disable the feature for that program only. 

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