The Personal Computer Radio Show  WBAI-FM 99.5
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November 2005  Show Summaries

Show Summaries Below
November 30, 2005  November 23, 2005  November 16, 2005  November 9, 2005  November 2, 2005


November 30, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

Is that we can't get enough of the Sony debacle, or that they keep shooting themselves in the foot? 

  • Spitzer Gets on Sony BMG's Case  By Arik Hesseldahl November 29, 2005. Sony issued a recall of their copy-protected CDs with the XCP rootkit software. Fine. More than a week later however, the presumably recalled discs were still for sale in New York at Wal-Mart, BestBuy, Sam Goody, Circuit City, FYE, and Virgin Megastore. The musicians are also suffering, their sales are down, as Sony does not have sufficient replacement CDs. 
  • Sony's DRM Profile By Ed Foster at November 22, 2005. Quoting: "A company that seems bent on sneaking files onto unsuspecting users' computers, pretending they've gotten permission to do so from a vaguely-worded EULA, transmitting a constant stream of usage information back to their servers, and using that information for who-knows-what revenue generating opportunities. Does this sound like a familiar profile to you? Of course, it's the profile of all the spyware/adware scum that have come very close to destroying the Internet just to make a few bucks peddling their trash."
  • Not Again! Uninstaller for Other Sony DRM Also Opens Huge Security Hole November 17, 2005 by J. Alex Halderman
  • The Sony BMG XCP Exchange Program If you own a Sony BMG CD with the XCP software, you can exchange it using this UPS web site. Eliot Spitzer suggested taking it back to the store where it was purchased. 

What Google Should Roll Out Next: A Privacy Upgrade By Adam Cohen in the New York Times. November 28, 2005. Quoting: "At a North Carolina strangulation-murder trial this month, prosecutors announced an unusual piece of evidence: Google searches allegedly done by the defendant that included the words 'neck' and 'snap.' The data were taken from the defendant's computer, prosecutors say. But it might have come directly from Google, which - unbeknownst to many users - keeps records of every search on its site, in ways that can be traced back to individuals." 

Below are instructions to remove existing Google cookies and prevent the creation of new ones in the future. Note however, that Gmail users that prevent new Google cookies can no longer use the Gmail web site. Gmail users may instead want to simply remove the Google cookie(s) every now and then. Also, if you use Google local or Google maps and probably many other Google features, removing the Google cookie(s) will erase saved preferences. For more see Anonymizing Google's Cookie which has instructions for setting Bookmarks/Favorites that display and/or delete the cookies for any given web page. 

To Remove and Prevent Google Cookies in Firefox 1.0.7:

  1. Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Cookies -> View Cookies Button
  2. In the Stored Cookies window, check the box at the bottom "Don't allow sites that set removed cookies to set future cookies. 
  3. The list of web sites that placed Cookies on your computer is in alphabetical sequence
  4. Scroll down to, there may be a handful of entries for Google 
  5. Highlight each cookie, then click the Remove Cookie button  
  6. You can verify that the web site, Google in this case, is blocked from using Cookies in the future, by closing the Options window (OK button, OK button) and then opening it again (Tools -> Options). Return to the Cookies section (Privacy -> Cookies) and click on the Exceptions button. 

To Remove and Prevent Google Cookies in Firefox 1.5:

  1. Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Cookies -> View Cookies Button
  2. In the Stored Cookies window, check the box at the bottom "Don't allow sites that set removed cookies to set future cookies." 
  3. The list of web sites that placed Cookies on your computer is in alphabetical sequence. Scroll down to, there may be a handful of entries for Google. 
  4. Highlight each cookie, then click the Remove Cookie button
  5. You can verify that the web site, Google in this case, is blocked from using Cookies in the future, by closing the Options window (OK button, OK button) and then opening it again (Tools -> Options). Return to the Cookies section (Privacy -> Cookies) and click on the Exceptions button. 

To Remove and Prevent Google Cookies in Internet Explorer 6:

  1. Tools -> Internet Options -> Settings Button -> View Files button 
  2. This should open Windows Explorer and display the folder 
      C:\Documents and Settings\youruseridl\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files
    where youruserid is the current Windows user ID. 
  3. Sort the display by the Internet Address column 
  4. Scroll down to the Google Cookies 
  5. Highlight the Google Cookies and press the Delete key on the keyboard. This removes the already existing Cookies. 
  6. To prevent new Google Cookies in the future, go to the Privacy tab in the Internet Options Window 
    (Tools -> Internet Options -> Privacy tab). 
  7. In Windows XP SP2, click on the Sites button. In earlier versions of Windows, click on the Edit button. Enter "" without the quotes and click on the Block button. 

Alfred's new identity is the HDTV Professor. As such he explained the difference between HDTV ready and HDTV televisions. Many people can save a few hundred dollars and just buy HDTV ready sets. 

A new beta version of Microsoft's security software is available. Michael suggested never playing with beta software as there are more than enough bugs to deal with after a product is released. 

  • Microsoft Windows OneCare Live Beta II Available PC World, December 1, 2005. Microsoft posted its second public beta of Windows OneCare Live yesterday at its Windows Live Ideas Web page. OneCare is an umbrella of PC utilities, backup tools, security components, and tech support options available to Windows users on a subscription basis.

Skype is now available at Radio Shack

The Great Rebate Runaround By Brian Grow in Business Week magazine. November 23, 2005. Forty percent of all rebates are not redeemed. 

November 23, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

The Xbox is here. According to Forbes magazine: "...industry sources say the company is losing $75 on every low-end box and $110 on every high-end box that's produced." The Business Week article below says that on every unit that sells for $399, Microsoft loses $126. But they make it up on volume. :-) 

Can't get one in the store? Try eBay. 

The latest and greatest version of Internet Explorer is not so great. It has a critical bug that Microsoft has no fix for. In fact, Microsoft has known about this bug for months, but couldn't spare a programmer to fix it. Now there are examples on the net of how to write malicious software to attack this bug. It doesn't get much worse than this. 

What to do? You can down load the Firefox web browser from If you insist on using IE, then disable "Active Scripting" which may refer to JavaScript (Microsoft is the only company to use this term and does not explain what it means). To do so: 
  Tools -> Internet Options -> Security tab -> Internet Zone -> Custom Level button -> disable Active Scripting

However, this solution stinks as the majority of web sites depend on client side JavaScript. For example, our Luck Word web page uses it to validate your contest submissions. 

A new variant of the Sober virus is making the rounds. The virus comes in an email attachment, usually a .zip file. Never open an email attachment that you were not expecting! Never. Ever. One lie the virus uses is that it pretends to be from the FBI and warns that you have visited illegal IP addresses. 

Alfred is the High Definition TV Professor at 

Michael warned about video cards that don't have as much video ram as you would expect. 

  • Better, more expensive, computers have a dedicated video card with its own internal video ram that is separate and distinct from the ram used by Windows. One way to judge assorted video cards is by the amount of ram they contain, the more the better. A recent Dell catalog advertised computers with ATI video cards with misleading names. For example, one Dell computer comes with a “128MB ATI Hypermemory graphics card". Up till now, this meant that the video card contained 128MB of internal video ram. No more. I read the fine print in the back of the catalog. 

    ATI has redefined the meaning of "128MB". For years it meant the amount of video ram in the video card. But this video card has only 32MB of video ram. Now ATI wants the 128MB to refer to the total amount of ram the video card will allocate to itself. If your computer needs 128MB of video ram, for example, then the video card will use the 32MB it has, and steal 96MB more from Windows. A computer with 256MB of ram would thus end up with only 164MB for Windows to use. Ouch. A review of an ATI Hypermemory video card by CNET suggested only using it on computers with a gigabyte of ram.  

    This misleading advertising seems to be used on all ATI " Hypermemory" video cards and also on Nvidia TurboCache video cards. The ATI cards were released last month. 

We will now be announcing the winners of the Lucky Word contest on the show. Previously we notified winners by email but it proved to be unreliable. One of the three winners this week listened to the Podcast in Atlanta. 

November 16, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

RealNetworks, Inc. Releases Update to Address Security Vulnerabilities
. Updated November 10, 2005. RealNetworks, Inc. has addressed recently discovered security vulnerabilities that offered the potential for an attacker to run arbitrary or malicious code on a customer's machine. This affects most versions of Real Player and Real One Player. 

You will be able to watch "Welcome Back Kotter" until you're blue in the face by Alex Eckelberry 

AOL to Offer 'Vintage' TV Free -- With Ads The Wall Street Journal November 14, 2005

Sony CDs with Spyware

Our guest will be Phil Schnyder who has been putting online free databases of things like Alito's opinions, the full text of the 9/11 commission report, Hamlet, and so on... See 


November 9, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

Lots of news stories.  

Sony came out with a "patch" for the Spyware like software they install on Windows computers that play their DRM protected CDs. It was not a real patch at all. 

FAQ: Sony's 'rootkit' CDs by John Borland CNET November 11, 2005 

HP is going to release a universal print driver that will work with all of their printers made since 1997. The driver will not be able to tweak all the functions of every printer, however. For advanced printer functions you will still need the specific driver the printer. may change the world again - they are going to start offering individual book pages and chapters for sale.  

More about our new Lucky Word contest

A caller had problems creating a Windows 2000 Emergency Repair Disk (ERD). Michael suggested focusing on Disk Image backups, made by programs such as Ghost and True Image, rather than using the recovery facilities in Windows. An ERD is a floppy disk that you can use to try and fix Windows 2000 when it won’t boot up. Windows XP does not have ERD floppy disks. You create the ERD in Windows 2000 using its backup program There are two aspects to the ERD:

  • On the floppy disk there are 3 system files. Useless files (in Michael's opinion) that date back to when Windows 2000 was first installed. Neither boot.ini nor ntloader are included. 
  • However, when you create the ERD, you get an option to do something useful, backup the registry. The registry is way too big for a floppy disk, instead the backup copy is stored in an official “repair” directory
    Windows 98 kept five registry backups by default, Windows XP can keep many as part of the System Restore utility. Windows 2000 however, is only able to keep a single backup copy of the registry. 

November 2, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

After a week of fund-raising and two weeks off there were a lot of stories in the news to catch up on . But first: 

We just started a new contest. Every week we will be giving out prizes to listeners that hear the Lucky Word and then enter it on this web site. For more see the Lucky Word contest page. 

Mark Russinovich is a world-class expert on Windows. He recently found his computer infested with a very nasty form of Spyware. How could this happen? A Sony audio CD with copy protection installed the software. This is very sophisticated software that hides its existence by intercepting windows system calls into the kernel. As such, the software is invisible to anti-virus and anti-Spyware programs. It exists to force the audio through a custom Sony player program (WMP or Real Player is not allowed) and restrict the number of times you can burn the music to CD. See

Color printers include back door for Secret Service ZDNet Government October 19, 2005

Googlebombing 'failure'  9/16/2005 by Marissa Mayer, Director of Consumer Web Products at Google. "If you do a Google search on the word [failure] or the phrase [miserable failure], the top result is currently the White House’s official biographical page for President Bush ... I'd like to explain how these results come up..."  


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