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In The News
Broadband over Powerline (BPL) was just approved by the FCC. The first offering will be in Cincinnati, it was tested in 18 states. The price is $30 to $50 and the speed is from 1 to 3 megabits. Alfred felt that BPL will go nowhere in the future and that regional Bell companies will run away with everything over fiber optic lines. Also VOIP will play into this, people will want both VOIP and Internet access from the same company.
Two free anti-virus programs are AVG from Grisoft and Avast Home. Hank has used AVG and likes it but said that it will not be free in the future. Later reports said that AVG will still be free. It turns out they are discontinuing the current version (six) but will soon come out with a new version. For more on this read New Generation of AVG Free Edition to Replace Current 6.0 Free Edition and this note from Grisoft.
Recently there was ruling regarding cheap third party ink cartridges for
Lexmark printers. There is big money to be made in ink cartridges for computer
printers. Lexmark was, in effect, copy protecting their cartridges.
The Casio CW 50 CD Title Writer sells for under $50 and prints on CDs. Hank did a review of it. It costs about 20 cents per CD to use. Should you need to remove magic marker from a CD try Desolv-IT - available at hardware stores. Then use alcohol to clean off the residue.
Joe recently could not read a CD that he had created. Alfred recently reviewed, and liked, a product called CD-X for repairing CDs and it couldn't read the disc either. It turns out that the disc was created with a backup program called NTI Backup that writes 692 MB of data onto a CD. Instead of doing this with compression, it writes to parts of the disc you are not suppose to write to.
We will be doing a Macintosh show on November 17, 2004.
Verizon is now being victimized by a major phishing campaign. For more about
phishing, see the Bad
Emails page on Michael's web site. Simply put, phishing is fraud via email.
It is a scam to get a userid and password from you. All the banks, eBay and
PayPal are common victims of these fraudulent emails. Any email message you get
that asks for personal information should be suspect. You can never trust the
FROM address of an email message. Never.
No show this week, we are pre-empted.
Last week we discussed electronic voting, especially in New Jersey. For more, see:
In The News
It's the second Tuesday of the month which means more bug fixes from Microsoft. For Windows XP, the question is do the new bug fixes require SP2 as a pre-requisite? No, they don't. Though Microsoft continues to encourage customers to install SP2, patches can be downloaded individually here:
The FTC is for the first time cracking down on a phony anti-Spyware vendor.
Seven AC adapters have overheated so 2.9 million in the U.S. are being recalled by Dell (and more world-wide). Why so many? Dell can't identify the real bad ones so they have to recall all of them. The AC adapters were made by Delta electronics. Recently IBM also had to recall AC adapters.
Our guest tonight was Dr. Rebecca Mercuri and we discussed electronic voting. It's bad. Her personal web site is Notable Software
In Florida a number of counties bought the most expensive computerized voting machines, ones that do not allow a recount and don't print a paper ballot. Also, due to the hurricanes, some of the polling places no longer exist. In a way, this will be a good thing as it will force the use of paper ballots which are auditable.
Dr. Mercuri feels the best voting systems are those that optically scan paper.
A number of counties in New Jersey installed electronic voting machines. Bidding was not required. The machines are not really inspected.
About 30% of the national vote will be done on un-auditable machines. Many people are using absentee ballots rather than computerized voting machines. Some states allow anyone to vote this way for any reason.
In the military some soldiers can vote by email. The problem is that their commanding officers know how they voted.
In Oregon, all ballots are on paper. Hank used to be a poll worker and said there were times when the number of votes exceeded the number of registered voters. Some states check for this, some do not. India voted on paper and it worked fine - all votes were counted overnight. They just converted to computers.
After the show a listener from Australia wrote about their voting procedures.
In Australia citizens have to vote or get fined the equivalent of 12 US dollars. However you don't
get fined if you have an excuse - either you are over 65 (in which case you don't have to vote)
or you have a physical problem, i.e. in a wheel chair, or you are working and couldn't reasonably
get off work (i.e. a doctor) or you are working more than 30 kilometers away.
Actually, you don't have to vote but you do have to go to the polling booth and get your name marked off the role - and then you can leave without voting.
The Patent Busting Project has the EFF's Ten Most Wanted for crimes against the public domain.
Microsoft lost a patent case on the FAT file system. Microsoft FAT patent rejected. The Register September 30, 2004
Intel has a new faster front side bus that runs at 1066 MHz. Any chain is only as good as the weakest link. Without a faster bus, you won't get the benefit of faster processors. Intel plans faster bus for Pentium 4 Extreme Edition ComputerWorld October 1, 2004
Feds hold E-Rate funds hostage The Register October 5, 2004
Fox said to back Blu-ray DVD CNN Money October 4, 2004. U.S. studio reportedly signs onto Sony-backed standard for next-generation systems. Alfred said the underlying issue here is security, or more specifically, digital rights management for new high capacity DVDs used for High Definition movies. For HDTV you need 15 to 25 gigabytes, the current recordable double-layer DVDs are only 9 GB (more or less).
Space Ship One just set a record with sub-orbital flight and Alfred felt it was the biggest news, by far.
Michael felt the biggest news was that in his mansion at home, Bill Gates has had a number of his computers infected with Spyware.
The program Alfred discussed was Audio Cleaning Lab 2005 from Magix. It does quite a bit regarding audio recording and editing. It is one answer for transferring old vinyl records to MP3 files or audio cassettes to audio CDs. Alfred felt the program was "awesome". It can simulate a phono pre-amp. It can do speed adjustments for a turntable and also automatic volume adjustments. It gets rid of hisses and pops, even the hiss between tracks. It can deal with Dolby recorded cassettes. It spits out MP3, WAV, WMA and Audio CDs.
There is also a very powerful WAV editor and use it as a small sound studio. You can filter out vocals for Karaoke. It does echo, reverb and chorus effects among others. The cost is under $50 and its available either in a box or as a download. It runs under all versions of Windows. It can burn CDs and has a disc label program. It competes with Easy CD Creator, but this has more features. Alfred said it was easy to use.
There is a bug in the latest version of Firefox (1.0PR). If you are using an older version of Firefox, download the new latest version ( 0.10.1) which includes the bug fix from the Firefox home page. If you are using version 1.0PR, then see this web page with bug fix installation instructions. For more, see the press release: Important Security Update for Firefox Available October 2, 2004. Hank likes Firefox so much, he has installed it on all of his computers.
Gripes about the Microsoft scanner for the JPG problem GDI Vulnerabilities: An open letter to Microsoft led to another scanner for software affected by this problem. Joe warned to take this bug very seriously.
A new version of RealPlayer that fixes three bugs is available. The latest
version is now 10.5 (18.104.22.1683).
Wired vs. Wireless net access: Wired is cheaper, faster, more reliable and more secure. Hank had a case where SP2 slowed down the speed of a wireless network. There are two types of WiFi security, WEP is the older one and is not extremely secure. WPA is the newer and more secure one.
Winston has a Sony DVD burner than can burn DVDs in either the plus (a.k.a dash) and minus formats. He found that plus format discs are not playing in a DVD player. Alfred was not surprised and said the compatibility is higher for minus format DVDs. The RW formats are for data, not for movies.
After applying Windows XP SP2, Windows shuts down much slower than beforehand. We had no answer at the time but this is not uncommon. It might be related to APM or ACPI, the power management component of Windows and the BIOS. Michael suggested checking the system logs to see if there were any messages related to shutting down.
Ernie asked about Celeron vs. Pentium. The latest versions are the same except for the cache memory.
A caller asked about CDs deteriorating in a few years. Much has to do with handling and storage of the discs. In the worst case, some low-end CDs started to break down in 6 to 9 months. One approach is to copy CDs with important files every year. Alfred prefers the green discs which are really a dark blue die on a gold backing. They have the widest compatibility. Many companies use the same underlying material, but they can change this underlying plastic at any time.
A caller needs to re-install Windows and asked about the best way to save 25-30 GB of data files. Alfred suggested buying a new hard drive, either internal or external.
Webmaster: Michael Horowitz Page Last Updated: November 17, 2004