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April 2006  Show Summaries

Show Summaries Below
  April 26, 2006  April 19, 2006  April 12, 2006  April 5, 2006  
 April 26, 2006 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

News

HP is recalling 15,700 laptop batteries because they may overheat - specifically, those with a bar code label that starts with "L3". They were used with several HP and Compaq models. If you bought an HP or Compaq laptop in 2005, then your machine may be affected. HP set up a web site about this www.hp.com/support/BatteryReplacement or call them at 888-202-4320. This is not an unusual occurrence. Last year, HP, Dell, Apple and Fujitsu all recalled thousands of laptop batteries. 

More bugs with the latest round of bug fixes from Microsoft. If you have certain HP software installed, you may lose your Outlook Express address book or be unable to use Word to open files in the My Documents folder. The temporary solution for this was to un-install the Windows bug fix that caused the problem. However, if your computer is set to install Windows bug fixes automatically, the bad one will just come back. Microsoft was due to issue a fix for the fix today. 

Epson settled a Class Action lawsuit that claimed their print cartridges were reporting themselves as being empty when, in fact, they had lots of ink left. Unlike the usual $1 or $2 settlement per customer this one was for $20 or $25 or $45 per customer. However, to get this money, you have to buy another Epson product. For more see www.epsonsettlement.com which is NOT an Epson web site. 

Apple improved their recycling plan. If you buy a new Mac, they will recycle your old one for free. Also, if you bring in an old iPod for recycling, they are offering 10% off on a new iPod. 

Philips' Stupid Move A new patent forces us to ask: What if we couldn't skip commercials? by Lance Ulanoff April 25, 2006 in PC Magazine. The idea is to prevent TV viewers from changing the channel when a commercial comes on else pay for the right to skip the commercials. 

Software company Winternals sued Best Buy and their Geek Squad subsidiary for stealing their software. 

  • Why Winternals Sued Best Buy by Mark Russinovich. April 21, 2006. Quoting: "What the press coverage to date might not have made clear is what Geek Squad and Best Buy did prior to approaching Winternals in October 2005 about a license to our software, what they continued to do after terminating licensing discussions in February 2006, and why we felt we had no alternative but to protect our software through the legal system."
  • Press Release: Winternals Obtains Federal Court Restraining Order in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Best Buy's Geek Squad. April 12, 2006. Quoting: " The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Austin, alleges that Best Buy and Geek Squad have previously and continue to knowingly and fraudulently utilize pirated and illegal copies of Winternals' copyrighted software ... [that] helps users restore deleted data, reset passwords, copy files to and from unbootable systems, edit the registry, and access Restore Points on a dead Windows computer."
  • www.winternals.com is the web site for their commercial software 
  • www.sysinternals.com is the web site for their free software 

Guest 

Our guest was PC Magazine Contributing Editor and Lead Analyst for Printers M. David Stone and the topic was photo printers.

David said that the difference in print quality from the cheapest to most expensive printer from any particular printer manufacturer, is not that much at all. Expensive printers get you faster print speed and a higher duty cycle. That is, they are able to print more pages per month without experiencing problems. 

What makes an inkjet printer a "photo printer"? David gave the example of the Canon Pixma line of printers which has thousands of nozzles in the print head, making them great for printing photos. 

Calls 

Fred from Forest Hills said that the Geek Squad ads are misleading. They give the impression that they will come over to your house/office immediately to fix a problem, but this has not been his experience. Fred said they can take up to two weeks to make a house call. 

 April 19, 2006 Show AudioArchives   TOP 


There are bugs with last weeks bug fixes from Microsoft. The problems caused by last week's bug fixes include system hangs and crashes, problems with Windows Explorer, problems accessing the "My Documents" folder and more. Perhaps the problem software that will affect most people is ActiveX, a feature of Internet Explorer. Other affected software includes the Google Toolbar, Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall and HP's Share-to-Web. What to do? Suffer. As of this writing there are no fixes for the bad bug fixes.  

In one of the many lawsuits against Microsoft, they won a victory in Federal court where a judge ruled consumers can not sue them directory for over-charging on Windows because we did not buy Windows directly from Microsoft. Gee. 

On April 6, 2006 in the Wall Street Journal, their computer guy, Walter Mossberg, answered a question about the security of public WiFi wireless networks. He basically said there is no way to secure/encrypt your Internet connection at public wireless hotspots such as Starbucks, Barnes and Noble or an airport terminal. This is not true. Not even close, as Michael pointed out 

  1. Your entire net connection can be encrypted using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). There are at least three companies that will rent you this VPN service starting at $40 a year. You first get online, then you run the VPN software to establish an encrypted connection between your computer and the web site of the company providing the VPN service. When they get your data, they dump it on the Internet using a wired connection, the same level of security anyone has using a home or office broadband connection. Everything sent over the air, is securely encrypted. 
  2. Even without a VPN some web based email services, such as those from Earthlink and Gmail, can encrypt everything. Not just your email userid/password but also messages read and sent. 
  3. Users of normal POP3 based Internet email (if you use Outlook, Outlook Express or Thunderbird, this means you) may have a security option from their email provider. Some email servers support secure email using the same SSL protocol used to secure web pages. This service is referred to as POP3S (for secure). 
  4. At the very least, you can try to get your POP3 email userid/password encrypted, they are normally sent in plain text. There are three protocols for doing this, but you'll have to check with your email provider to see if they support any of them. Or just try it. 
  5. And be aware that data entered into a secure web page (that which used the HTTPS protocol) is not necessarily secure. Michael has a long write-up about this on his web site called Secure Web Pages.

Note that there was only time for the first two points on the show. In closing, Michael noted that you don't read PC magazine for Mutual Fund advice and you shouldn't take computer advice from the Wall Street Journal. 

Olivia reviewed Makeup Pilot, photo editing software by Colorpilot. It sells for under $30 and is specifically designed to remove defects from pictures of your skin. She found it very easy to use and well worth the money. 

More about Boot Camp. Since it is beta software, there is no technical support from Apple. It's an open question how much technical support Microsoft will provide for Windows running on an Intel based Mac. There have been reports of people who can't get back to OS X after installing Windows XP. See a very detailed review of Boot Camp by Scot Finnie. 

But then Hank turned the tables - rather than focusing on running Windows on Mac hardware, he experimented with the reverse, running Apple's Mac OS X operating system on Windows hardware. You can buy OS X at a computer store for about $130. Hank found that it installed fine on a computer with all Intel hardware, but did not work on computers with other hardware.  

Alfred will be speaking at the Trenton Computer Festival this Saturday April 22nd. The show runs from 10AM to 5PM on Saturday and from 10AM to 4PM on Sunday. 

 
 April 12, 2006 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

Bugs bugs bugs. Yesterday was Patch Tuesday and Microsoft released a large number of bug fixes (a.k.a. patches), some of which are considered critical. There are a number of fixes for Internet Explorer (as usual) that affect Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003. Run Windows Update now. The bugs also affect older versions of Windows and there are patches for the older versions of Windows, but... you have to pay for them. Alfred felt this was reasonable. 

Lenovo has decided to walk away from the IBM name, but they are keeping the ThinkPad brand. Alfred felt this was a good idea as IBM was always an also-ran brand in personal computers, with the exception of their ThinkPad laptops. Some Best Buy stores are going to start selling Lenovo computers. The cheapest desktop machine is under $350, the cheapest laptop is under $600. They are the third largest PC manufacturer in the world. 

It's tax time. We discussed electronic tax filing. 

The IRS got approval in a federal court to force PayPal to provide information about overseas money transfer transactions. Banks already have to provide this information as it can be used for money laundering. 
 

 April 5, 2006 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

Back live with everyone on the show: Joe, Hank, Alfred, Michael, Danny and Olivia. 

Apple just released software called "Boot Camp" that lets you install Windows XP on an Intel based Macintosh. Thus, one computer can have two operating systems installed on it. When the computer starts up, you get to chose if you want to run the Mac OS X or Windows XP. 

This is not to be confused with Virtual Machine software. Boot Camp lets you run one operating system at a time. When you want to switch you have to shut down the OS currently in use and then boot the new one. In contrast, Virtual Machine software lets you run two Operating Systems at the same time. With Boot Camp you can not copy/paste between Windows and the Mac OS. 

Michael felt that very few people would care, but others felt this was a big deal. Boot Camp will re-partition the computer making free space on the hard disk where Windows can be installed. Boot camp only works with the latest version of the Mac OS; it will be part of the next OS X release. 

The topic was advice on buying a new computer, followed by the usual half hour of listener phone calls.   

 

 

 
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