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October 2002 Archive

Shows  (on this page)
October 30, 2002  October 23, 2002  October 16, 2002  October 9, 2002  October 2, 2002 

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

October 30, 2002 Show   RETURN TO TOP

The show was pre-empted this week due to WBAI fund raising.  

A Linksys router that has been recommended on the show many times, and is widely used, is vulnerable to outside attack. See Popular Linksys Router Vulnerable to Attack from eWeek magazine, November 1, 2002. The Linksys Group Inc.'s BEFSR41 EtherFast Cable/DSL Router with 4-Port Switch can be crashed remotely by an attacker. The vulnerability affects all of the routers with firmware versions earlier than 1.42.7. Firmware version 1.43 fixes the problem. The attack requires that the remote management interface is enabled. In many cases, there is no need for this, and disabling it prevents the problem.  

October 23, 2002 Show   RETURN TO TOP

The show was pre-empted this week due to WBAI fund raising. Although we were not on the air, the following news occurred this week. 

We mentioned the P2P Piracy Prevention Act on our shows of October 2, 2002 and July 31, 2002. It is a proposed bill that would allow copyright holders to legally disrupt peer-to-peer networks that they suspect might be distributing their intellectual property without permission. An aide to Howard Berman said "He plans to significantly redraft the bill to accommodate reasonable concerns...". P2P hacking bill may be rewritten. By Declan McCullagh. ZDNet News. October 24, 2002. 

Then again, Microsoft also has bugs in their networking equipment: Microsoft stitches up net glitches. CNet. November 11, 2002. The article says that Linksys has a commanding lead in networking hardware and that Microsoft's products are priced higher than competing products. 

Although we were not on the air, the following items came in via email: 

We recently mentioned the H1B issue and its effect on high-tech employees. A listener suggested this web site for unemployed IT workers: Unemployed IT Professionals (UITP)

Another listener asked about freeware or shareware for a Palm Pilot to track expenses and for Excel and Word. Joe uses a Handspring has found that offers some very good shareware. Specifically, Joe suggested QuickOffice for Word and Excel. It lets you produce, review, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and charts. The price is $40, it is from Cutting Edge Software, and offers a free trial. For tracking expenses Joe suggested ExpenseLog, a simple to use program which can export to both Excel and Microsoft Works format. The cost is $5 and the vendor is 

October 16, 2002 Show   RETURN TO TOP

This was a fund raising show. We went on the air at 9 PM and were on for two hours. Kevin Mitnick, who was a guest on Off the Hook just prior to our show, was nice enough to stay on the air with us for the first hour. 

Mr. Mitnick, as arguably the world's most famous hacker, needs no introduction to our computer audience. Kevin is involved with a company called He just released a book called The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security. Dan Farber of ZDNet reviewed the book: Kevin Mitnick wants to help you stop hackers. Read a bit about Kevin and see a list of news stories about Kevin Mitnick from

Stephen Manes wrote about Kevin's book October 14, 2002: Are You Insecure?

Kevin will be signing copies of his book on October 28, 2002 at the Barnes and Noble store in the Citicorp center. The store is 160 E 54th Street (between Third Avenue and Lexington Avenue) and he will be there from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM. 

The show briefly discussed junk phone calls. Kevin mentioned that he knows someone who runs a web site devoted to the subject: Joe mentioned that in New York State you can request not to receive telemarketing phone calls. This is done at the New York State "Do Not Call" Registry Web Site is It is run by the New York State Consumer Protection Board

Note that the link on the New York State web site called "do not call registry" is for Telemarketers, not for consumers. The text version of the state home page also has a link for the do not call registry. It's totally wrong, pointing to a non-existing web page. 

On the subject of SPAM, Joe said that he never ever buys anything advertised by SPAM (a.k.a. unsolicited commercial email) even if he wants the product. The only way to cut down on SPAM is to make it unprofitable. 

October 9, 2002 Show   RETURN TO TOP

A surprise (to you and to us) show. Due to unexpected voting by Congress on possible military action in Iraq, fund raising was postponed a bit and we were on the air, as usual. Next week we will be on the air from 8PM (more or less) until 11PM.

On Saturday October 19th, Alfred Poor will be on Andy Graham's Computer Beat radio show from 4-6 PM Eastern time.

Netscape (and parent company AOL) were sued by a user who didn't want his personal information disseminated. According to the license agreement from Netscape, this was subject to arbitration. A higher court recently sustained a lower court ruling. The issue revolves around Netscape's download program which collects the name of the programs you have downloaded and Netscape and AOL use this information for their own purposes. The EULA (end user license agreement) did not provide any way for the user to indicate he read it, it was poorly designed.  

Microsoft just issued their 57th security bulletin this year. In only 41 weeks. They are turning their own phrase, trustworthy computing, into a joke. 

Bugbear to set new virus record. October 8, 2002. CNET The Bugbear computer virus is on track to be the most prolific email virus to date. The virus uses a flaw in the way Outlook formats email using MIME that allows the virus to automatically execute if Outlook displays the text of the email message.
Alfred noted that the virus emails itself and that the "From" address is spoofed. Don't blame the person who seems to have sent it. The bug that it depends on was patched about 18 months ago but many people have not updated their software. For more advice on keeping yourself safe see the Defensive Computing class taught by our webmaster.

Joe noted that large Microsoft bug fixes (a.k.a. service packs, service releases) can be ordered on a CD from Microsoft. Generally they are about $10. Of course, you are vulnerable to all the bugs while the CD is in the mail.  

Palm is releasing a new low end Palm Pilot called a Zire that will sell for $99. 
Palm to offer basic handheld for $99 October 6, 2002. 
A New, Affordable Palm To Tempt Paper Lovers By Walter S. Mossberg. The Wall Street Journal. October 16, 2002. 

What used to be called Windows CE (WinCE) is now called the Pocket PC. The cheapest models currently sell for about $300. Dell is expected to soon sell two Pocket PC devices, one of which may retail for $200 and would be the cheapest Pocket PC to date. Alfred expects it to be successful. 
Dell's PDA Plans Slip Out
Pocket PC device will use Intel CPUs, support several storage types, Web site reveals (briefly). PC World Magazine. October 8, 2002. 
Dell's Secret PDAs October 9, 2002. Design Technica Includes a picture. 

Hank and Alfred totally disagreed on the future of the soon to be released tablet PC. Hank thinks it will be very successful, Alfred predicted it will be dead on arrival. Joe sided with Alfred who asked: How many times have you picked up a notebook computer and said: "Gee I wish it didn't have a keyboard." 

A caller named Joe asked about building new computers with a Celeron vs. a Pentium 4. Hank said the Celeron is cheaper but the Pentium 4 is multi-processor capable. Also there is power management available on the Pentium 4, that is not available on the Celeron. Functionally, Hank said they were equivalent and he recommended the Celeron based on price.  

Kyle asked about video editing on the computer. He is just getting started. also wants multiple sound tracks. Since Kyle lives in Manhattan, Hank suggested he join Manhattan Public Access TV. They will train you in video editing and offer an expose to the hardware and software involved. Alfred warned that it can eat up tons of time. Joe's rule of thumb is one hour of editing for every 10 minutes of video.

Manny has a laptop with Intel Pentium III mobile and wondered what the "mobile" meant. Hank said it means the cpu uses a lower voltage, with less of a drain on the battery and less heat. 

A caller asked about the future of the computer repair field. Hank said laptops are now outselling desktops and you can't fix them yourself. Skilled technicians are needed. Alfred said a big problem is staying current because computer designs change often. Joe said that there are currently jobs for repair technicians. Hank said there is also a need for qualified network technicians, people to diagnose network problems. 

Key asked about listening to over the air radio stations through a computer. You can get a radio tuner card that will feed a radio signal into the computer where it can be captured and later edited. Joe said you won't find radio tuner cards in a normal store and suggested Tiger Direct, computer fairs and Cyber Guys

Eric went to a trade show at a convention center in New Jersey and bought a laptop. He wondered what pitfalls he would run into if the machine was stolen. Joe said that stolen computers are tracked in a database by the manufacturer. If you try to repair the machine, possessing it (stolen property) is a felony due to the cost of laptop computers. Hank said when in doubt, don't buy it. 

Vincent called to say that many companies are not repairing computers and printers. New ones cost less than repairing an old one. Third party repair shops however, still have a good business said Joe. 

Computer gripe: Joe has a Dell 4300 Dimension. There are no instructions on how to open it up and the process is not intuitive at all. It took him 10 minutes to figure out how to open the lid. 

October 2, 2002 Show   RETURN TO TOP

Bob Wallace passed away this week at age 53. He was the 9th employee of Microsoft in 1978 and one of the originators of the term "Shareware". After he left Microsoft in 1983, he developed the PC-Write word processor. 
Software pioneer Bob Wallace dies. Seattle Times September 24,  2002 

Online payment service PayPal hit by scam September 27, 2002. ComputerWorld. There is an email based scam going on that targets PayPal users. The email asks for your PayPal password and included a link to a web site that seemed to be PayPal, but was, in fact, a fake. Both PayPal and eBay will never ever ask for your password by email. If you get such a message, Joe said to contact eBay and/or PayPal and send them the entire message. PayPal did not notify their users of the scam. 

EBay Ensnared in Patent Dispute. September 29, 2002. Associated Press. An electrical engineer with experience in the military and the CIA claims to have come up with the online auction concept long before Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder, began thinking about auctions and community. 

China Refuses U.S. Electronic Trash (AP) September 26, 2002. "Bristling at being used as a dump for scrap electronics, China has moved to send back more than 400 tons of computers and office equipment that it said arrived from the United States and went unclaimed for more than two weeks". Joe noted that in Europe items with hazardous material have an added fee designed to recoup the expenses of properly disposing of it. 

Representative Howard Berman [D-California] and Howard Coble [R-North Carolina] have proposed a bill giving the entertainment industry new powers to disrupt downloads of pirated music and movies. It lets Hollywood act like hackers and waives criminal and civil penalties against entertainment companies for interfering, blocking, disabling, diverting sites they think might be infringing on their copyrights. Joe noted that the law lets them act if they think a computer is being used illegally and suggested that the film industry just might be the ones really writing the bill.

Lawmaker defends proposal to disrupt Internet music downloads. September 26, 2002. Associated Press.  The article notes that because the bill was introduced so late in the legislative session, it has almost no possibility of passage before Congress adjourns next month. 
Hollywood Vigilantes vs. Copyright Pirates
. Business Week Online. July 31, 2002. By Heather Green. The article refers to the bill as "heedless" and a "scrap of nonsense" and "irresponsible".
This proposal has generated a backlash (The Register October 3, 2002). Representative Zoe Lofgren of San Jose has introduced her Digital Choice and Freedom Act of 2002 as a rebellion against the entertainment business' use of DRM and the DMCA to erode consumer rights, and enhance their own revenues. Read her press release and more about the P2P Piracy Prevention Act. 

HP merger report author lied about degree - ISS September 30, 2002. The author of an influential report that helped win narrow stockholder support for Hewlett-Packard's $18.7 billion merger with Compaq Computer has resigned after admitting lying about graduating from law school, his ex-employer said on Saturday. Shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services, however, said it still stands by that report, which supported the contentious combination. The margin of victory in the shareholder vote was 2.8 per cent, a fraction of the votes analysts had said would follow ISS's recommendation. 

Panel Says Bell Labs Scientist Faked Discoveries. New York Times. September 26, 2002. Jan Hendrik Schon, a researcher in electronics at Bell Labs, has been fired after an outside review committee found he falsified experimental data. The scandal tarnishes surrounding participants, including the co-authors who noticed nothing amiss and the scientific journals that critics say moved too quickly to publish the sensational findings. Joe said we should remember this story whenever the issue of self-regulation comes up. 

In discussing an article about cell phones, Joe recalled that AT&T Wireless would not tell him where they actually have coverage. The maps they give out are where they are allowed to have coverage, not where the actually do have coverage.  

Agency Probes D.C. Wireless Network  Secret Service Agents Probe Wireless Networks in Washington Looking for Security Holes Associated Press. September 29, 2002. 
In discussing this story Joe mentioned a web site that maps out the various WiFi networks in New York City. We couldn't remember the name - it is  to NYC Wireless. Their goal is to provide free public wireless Internet service to mobile users in public spaces throughout the New York City metro area.

Jim is a fan of Adobe Photo Deluxe 2, which is no longer sold, and asked about a newer program that was similar. Hank suggested Adobe Elements. It retails for $80 to $90 and with rebates can be had for around $40 or so. Surplus Computers (formerly Software and Stuff) sells old versions of software.  

Patrick had a problem with email not being delivered. He got back a note about a virus. Joe suggested going  to to make sure your computer has no viruses. They have a free Housecall service that scans your computer for viruses. Be warned though, it can take a long time depending on how many files you have and how fast your computer is. Once your computer is free of viruses, install an anti-virus program and be sure to keep the virus definitions up to date. 

Layla asked about external hard drives for a Mac G3 running 8.5.1. She needs more room. Hank recommended external FireWire hard disks but was not up on their Mac compatibility. Among the vendors that make FireWire based external hard disks are: Maxtor, BUSlink, QPS, SmartDisk, Iomega, Lacie and CMS Peripherals. A later caller suggested MacMall and MacWarehouse as good sources. 

Soria called to tell us about three different workshops on Saturday October 5th at noon. One is Closing the Digital Divide. They are at the State Building, 163 West 125 Street at Seventh Avenue. Call (212) 749 5298 or email for information. 

Ray asked about CD-RW drives that burn a label on the disc itself. Hank said it would be cheaper to use a paper label and suggested that instead of buying a CD-RW drive, you spend a few dollars more for a combination CD-RW and DVD player. I had read about one of these drives in the October 15, 2002 issue of PC Magazine. In a First Looks item called Faster Than the Speed of Light, Don Labriola reviewed the Yamaha CRW-F1 CD burner which includes a feature called "disc tattoo" (spelled DiscT@2). This feature etches (tattoos) text and/or graphics on the surface of a CD-R disc, making a permanent label without paper. Tattooing a disc decreases the available storage space on the disc and, in their tests on a fast computer, added over 12 minutes to the burn time (for a three word phrase). Overall performance is also degraded because the tattoo feature requires blue-tinted CD-R discs which are certified for slower burn speeds than the drive can handle. The drive was advertised by Circuit City for $130 after two mail-in rebates. 

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