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Congress passes increase in H1-B visas from newindpress.com in India November 24 2004
Joe started to upgrade to Windows XP SP2 and shortly after the install of SP2, his computer froze. When he restarted it however, the install finished just fine. He found that SP2 turned off his firewall and anti-virus programs for him. Joe used Eisenworld PC Backup before installing SP2 and the backup failed miserably. High speed CDs could not be written on a low speed CD burner but the program does not tell you that the backups were not made. Don't use this program for backup.
Joe found that the new GoBack version 4 worked on a computer that the prior version would not install on. It has a new Safe Try mode. Before you install a program, you turn on Safe Try. Then you install the program and test it. If you like the program, you tell GoBack to keep it. If you don't like the new program, you can tell GoBack to back out all changes made since you turned on Safe Try mode. Joe needed this because he had problems with Firefox 1.0.
Hank bought a Netgear 802.11g Access Point/Router for under $40 after rebates. He was setting it up with a DSL connection that requires PPPoE and the router setup page has no place to enable PPPoE. This is something that any router should support. Hank called Netgear and spoke to someone in India who told him that he has to register the router before he can get technical support. But because of the problem he couldn't get online to register. Eventually they took pity on him and registered him manually. It turned out that you have to set up the router in Automatic mode, if you do it in Standard mode, there is no option for PPPoE. Hank was very disappointed with the Netgear technical support.
Hank went to the CompUSA on 57th street in Manhattan and asked about buying some home plug compliant devices. The person he spoke to said they don't have any. They do. They did. Hank found it on his own. Then the person he dealt with gave Hank a piece of paper supposedly to insure that the price you pay on the register is the price we have on file. This was not true. The paper was in fact a sales commission slip. Two lies in one hour.
One of the things Hank bought was a Belkin home plug device that didn't work. Back again to India for tech support. After dealing with the first level of technical support and getting nowhere, Belkin told him that he would have to wait until next Monday (this happened today) for a real techie to call him back. With nothing to lose, Hank went back to CompUSA and bought three more of the same Belkin devices. All three worked fine. The first one he purchased had been defective.
Michael was not on the show but he had a similar incident with Earthlink technical support. After dealing with the first level of technical support for a while and getting nowhere, he too was told that a real techie would look into the problem and maybe get back to him. Hank at least got a date for a call-back, Michael didn't.
On Hanks second trip to CompUSA two cashiers were arguing over procedures for about 10 minutes and kept him waiting while he waved cash in their face. Michael has had frustrations with CompUSA also.
On a happier note, Verizon gave Hank and Joe excellent technical support for DSL related issues.
The show originated from the studios of Sirius satellite radio due to a fire near the WBAI studios that knocked the station off the air for part of the day. Due to our unfamiliarity with the new studio environment the sound levels on the show were not up to their normal standards. At times the volume on people speaking may be a bit too low. Our apologies. Also, the show started at 8:20PM rather than 8PM because the entire WBAI schedule was thrown off by the fire. We were on for a full hour though.
In The News
Novell is suing Microsoft over anti-competitive practices related to WordPerfect. This despite Microsoft paying Novell over 500 million dollars last week to settle another lawsuit.
We had previously said that the free AVG anti-virus program from Grisoft would no longer be free. Not true. See New Generation of AVG Free Edition to Replace Current 6.0 Free Edition and this note from Grisoft.
Google has modified their Gmail email system such that it is no longer restricted to a web page interface. It will now also be available to someone using a normal Internet email program such as Outlook Express, Eudora, Thunderbird and the like. Even some wireless PDAs. In technical terms, they have added a new POP3 interface. Yahoo and Hotmail also have a POP3 interface to their webmail systems, but Google does not charge to use POP3, the other two do. See Gmail offers free POPs by CNET News.com November 10, 2004
Sun announced that their forthcoming new release of Solaris will be free. Solaris is a version of Unix, the father (so to speak) of Linux. The hope is that by undercutting the price of Linux distributions from companies such as Red Hat, that Solaris will gain in popularity, which will ultimately lead to sales of assorted services. Sort of like giving away the razor to sell the blades.
Our topic was Should you buy a Macintosh computer? Our guest was Steve Wildstrom, computer columnist for Business Week magazine. If you need to use a computer, know little about them and want one that works with the least amount of maintenance, then listen to this show. We introduce you to Macs and discuss if they really do need less care and feeding than Windows based machines. We were also joined by Danny Burstein a Mac aficionado from panix.com a New York City based Internet Service Provider.
Danny works in a technical support area at an ISP and deals with problems their customers have on both Windows and Macintosh machines. His experience has been that Windows machines are way more problematical.
Are there fewer viruses for the Mac? Yes. Partly because the Mac OS is better and partly because it is a lesser target. Both Steve and Danny said that most Mac users don't run an anti-virus program. Steve felt they should. Hank pointed out that the bulk of virus attacks originate overseas where there are very few Macs.
Steve felt that Mac users should run firewalls. There is a firewall built into the Mac OS and it is turned on by default. Steve felt it was better than the Windows firewall and probably good enough for most people.
Macs come in three different lines of desktops and two different lines of laptops. The eMac is an all-in-one desktop built around a CRT display. They start at about $800, are based on a G4 processor and are intended for the education market though anyone can buy one. eMacs are the cheapest Macintosh computers. iMacs are new and are also an all-in-one design, but built around flat panel monitor. The guts of the computer is behind the monitor. iMacs start at about $1,300. The top of the line desktop is the PowerMac G5, intended for professional use. PowerMacs start at about $1,500 without a monitor. The iBook is the education line of laptops and is based on a G4 processor.
Michael asked if Macs were more expensive than Windows machines and Steve felt it was a hard question to answer. For one thing, Apple does not compete at the low end. When computers with comparable hardware are compared side by side, the Macs are just slightly more expensive. However, Macs come with audio and video software, such as iMovie, that gets nothing but rave reviews and when you factor in the software, Macs may be a better bargain, depending on your needs.
The Mac G5 processor is a 64 bit chip and extremely fast and powerful. It was felt that any new computer will be more than fast enough for most people. Only someone doing video editing or high end Photoshop work needs to worry about processor speed.
If Macs are so good Hank asked, then why does Apple continue to lose market share? Steve said one reason was price, that Apple does not offer much on the low end. In the old days Apple used to license the Mac to other companies, but that was stopped when Steve Jobs came back to Apple. Steve said Power Computing used to make a great Mac clone.
Apple's technical support gets constant good reviews. Danny said it is pretty rare to need basic configuration help with Macintosh machines. Steve also felt that tech support is good and pointed out that if you are lucky enough to live near an Apple store, you can talk to experts there in person. Steve said that prior to OS X (pronounced OS Ten, the current version of the Macintosh Operating System) Macs were very simple until something went wrong, at which point you needed an expert for help because they were hard to fix. That changed however, with OS X.
If you want to buy a Mac in person, where do you go? In New York City, there is TekServe on 23rd Street and an Apple Store in Soho. Joe is a big fan of TekServe. There is a single Apple store in the Washington, DC area. They are also sold at CompUSA, J&R Music world and on the web at apple.com.
Joe asked everyone if they would use a Mac or Windows for general purpose home computing. Danny, Steve and Michael voted for a Mac, Joe and Hank did not vote. The problem with this is that there may be a program you need that only works on Windows. High end graphics programs and users are mostly on Macs. Steve pointed out that Windows does not do high end typography well at all.
Some relevant articles:
We don't pay much attention to computer games, but Microsoft just had a big
hit for their Xbox. The game, Halo 2,costs $50.
Microsoft will add business accounting to the next version of their Office suite of software competing with programs such as Quick Books.
The European Union has been suing Microsoft for a long time but two of the three claimants have settled with Microsoft. Novell settled for $536 million. The only claimant still standing is Real Player. Microsoft has been settling many different lawsuits. Joe guessed they may be gearing up for a new round of rights management lawsuits.
The Motion Picture industry is now suing people sharing digital copies of movies.
Windows XP sells for $5 to $10 in China.
There is yet another security flaw with Internet Explorer, Outlook, Outlook Express, AOL and Lotus Notes. The only fix is SP2. You have to disable ActiveX to be protected.
At what point in time should you upgrade to SP2? Hank says if you can avoid it, do so. Only when you need the patch for something critical should you bother to install it. Some people require a BIOS upgrade before installing SP2. If you absolutely have to have Windows XP with SP2, Joe suggested buying a new computer. Hank said, if you need a BIOS upgrade to install SP2, don't bother, get a new machine instead. Every time Hank installs SP2 he first installs GoBack so that he can roll back the install should there be problems.
Joe briefly discussed a program called Aloha Bob from Eisenworld Software, which originally was used to migrate files from an old computer to a new one. The new version of the program also includes backups. Joe had a big problem with these backups. Aloha Bob PC Backup said it burned five CDs but when he was all done Joe tried to read the backup CDs and none of them were readable. In fact, the CDs were blank. The error log had no errors logged despite the fact that the CDs were blank. This is a just out, brand new version of the program.
A new version of GoBack, version 4.0 from Symantec, was recently released. Hank found it very easy to install, but you do have to un-install a prior version first, if you have one, before installing the new version. Joe found that the install seemed to hang. It did not hang, but it ran for a long time with no obvious indication that it was doing anything at all.
The maximum history buffer in GoBack version 4 is up to 8 GB under Windows XP. Hank said it was easier to use than the prior version including generic searches for files. It also has a safe try mode. You can test changes to your computer and then easily go back to the known good state.
The Firefox web browser just came out with their version 1.0. It has been around for months in beta (not quite finished state) form and has gotten great reviews. Now it is deemed finished. Try it. Alfred mentioned that Folio, an IE add-in he really likes, is releasing a version for Firefox. As Firefox gets more popular more IE specific add-ons such as this are being released in Firefox compatible versions. This did not happen with Opera.
Joe pointed out that a number of web sites have optimized themselves for Internet Explorer. Michael has documented sites that don't work well with Firefox.
The show was pre-empted this week.
You can still pledge for premiums or become members of WBAI by calling 1-800-228-5599 at any time, 24x7. The same things can be at the stationís site www.wbai.org
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued a warning about a
bug in Internet Explorer. The problem does not effect Windows XP SP2. However,
if you are using Windows XP with Service Pack 1 or Windows 2000 there is no
solution to this problem other than to use a different web browser such as Firefox.
Webmaster: Michael Horowitz Page Last Updated: December 14, 2004