The Personal Computer Radio Show  WBAI-FM 99.5
New York City


December 2005  Show Summaries

Show Summaries Below
December 28, 2005  December 21, 2005  December 14, 2005  December 7, 2005


December 28, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

If you win our Lucky Word contest, you have until midnight of the Sunday following the show acknowledge that you won. Send us an email message from the email address you provided when you entered the contest and tell us your full name, where to mail your prize and a phone number. 

Remember, when providing the lucky work, spelling counts! This weeks prizes are the same as last week.  

John Diebold passed away.  
  www.dieboldinsitute.org 
  John Diebold, 79; Pioneered Computer Use in Automation of Businesses LA Times December 30, 2005 

While the next generation of DVDs will soon be released with competing formats, it is felt that consumers may bypass the technology altogether and instead get high definition movies using video-on-demand. 

Up to now, Podcasts were mostly a guy thing. But, women may be catching up. 
   Podcasts: A guy thing? News.com December 27,2005 

Question of the day: Over the last year, what was the most significant invention/trend in the world of computers/electronics? 

  • Alfred: People bought more computers than they realized they did. There are CPUs (computer processors) in many devices and appliances. For example, the iPod, cellphone, automobile, network attached storage.  
  • Danny: A trend started yesterday - GPS. The European union launched their first GPS satellite. The system is not yet ready, it may take a year or so. This will break the US monopoly in GPS. 
  • Hank: Computer electronic games are booming - bigger than the movie industry. It grosses over $65 billion a year. 
  • Joe and Stevie: Podcasting. In January of this year it was interesting, but esoteric. The one day, everyone was doing it. iTunes was a big part of this when Apple started a free Podcast index. There are many other indexes too. Now there are millions of Podcasts, including this show. At the bottom of every page on this site is an orange XML logo that you can use to subscribe to our Podcast. You can listen to a Podcast on your computer or on an MP3 player, any MP3 player. Hank uses a Palm Pilot. 

Televison

Alfred discussed TVs. He does not expect a drastic decline in the prices of LCD or plasma models in the near future. However, by the end of 2006 he does expect prices to be drastically lower than they are now. 

While plasma and LCD televisions get the most press, Alfred is a big fan of rear projection models. They are cheaper and it's what Alfred bought for his own use. They can even weigh less than a plasma TV. Depth is now typically 8 to 10 inches thanks to new micropanels. A 40 inch rear projection High Definition TV is about $1,800 to $2,000. 

If you are buying a 40 inch TV, Alfred suggests rear projection.  

If you are buying a 32 inch or smaller model, Alfred prefers LCD because it offers more bang for the buck. 

If you want over 40 inches, Alfred suggests plasma. Not all Plasma is High Definition. 

A flat panel TV can also be a computer monitor, if it has either a standard analog VGA port or, better yet, a DVI digital connector. If you see a TV with USB ports, it's an un-powered bus. Like the USB ports in a monitor or keyboard, they let you plug USB devices into the TV/monitor in front of you, instead of into the computer at your feet and under a desk. 

Listener Questions 

How can you send email attachments over 10 MB? Gmail from Google limits attachments to 10MB. Alfred suggested using www.yousendit.com. Joe suggested a free Streamload account. 

An AOL user sent email to Yahoo user by mistake. Can it be taken back? No. Only when sending email from an AOL customer to another AOL customer can you take back an email message. If you plan ahead, there are services that allow this. Joe suggested not sending email messages immediately. He routes sent emails to an outgoing folder, which gives him a buffer so he can change his mind later. 
 

December 21, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

We are glad to answer questions off-line by email. However, if you use a challenge / response type SPAM blocker it will bounce back our reply to us and you will never see it. The bounce-back is because the replies do not come from the same email address you write to initially. In fact, they may come from quite a few different email addresses. 

News 

Dell is voluntarily recalling and offering free replacements for certain notebook batteries that were sold for use with some models of Dell Latitude TM, Dell Precision TM and Dell Inspiron TM notebook computers. It is possible for these batteries to overheat, which could pose a risk of fire. See https://www.dellbatteryprogram.com  

There is new malicious software making the rounds, this time with a Christmas theme. Be sure to update the virus definitions in your anti-virus program. We are also big fans of the online anti-virus scan from Trend Micro called Housecall. Beware of a message from Santa Clause. And never open a file attached to an email message, unless you were expecting it. 

Google, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems are together putting up $7.5 million to fund a research lab with the goal of making more reliable computers. 

AOL and Google cemented their existing relationship. Google paid $1 billion to AOL for a 5% stake in the company and the right to handle all AOL advertising. Also, AOL's Instant Messenger software will communicate with similar software from Google called Talk.

We briefly discussed the online mapping programs from Google and Microsoft.  

Seagate bought out Maxtor, both companies make hard disks for computers. Hank was concerned about the effect of reduced competition. 

Electronic Voting 

Our guest tonight was Dr. Rebecca Mercuri and we discussed electronic voting. It's bad. Her personal web site is Notable Software. She recommended www.wheresthepaper.org - a web site dedicated to election integrity. 

New York City and State will be using new electronic voting machines soon. Oy. There were new standards enacted for voting machines but due to the nature of government, the standards will not be in place until after all the new electronic voting machines have been purchased. 

Florida continues to lead the nation in voting issues. Dr. Mercuri pointed out that it is illegal to count ballots by hand in Florida. When Iraq wanted an honest election, they counted paper ballots by hand. But not in Florida. 

The new voting machines will not be very reliable and that's because the specs for them say they don't have to be. The mean time between failure only has to be 163 hours. With a little math, Dr. Mercuri said that on any given election nine percent of the voting machines are expected to fail. And possibly eat the votes. Bye vote, bye.   

Calls 

Sometime in mid-January our guest will be Tony Bove author of: Just say no to Microsoft How to Ditch Microsoft and Why It's Not as Hard as You Think. 

A couple callers complained that their anti-virus programs were greatly slowing down their computers. 

For buying a new CPU, Hank suggested zipzoomfly.com and newegg.com.  

AOL offers a $300 computer made by SystemMax. The catch is you have to commit to using AOL for a year, at $24 per month. Alfred said Tiger Direct, which sells SystemMax machines will sell you the same price hardware without the AOL commitment. 

  
December 14, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

Our guest was David Perry of Trend Micro. This was a fund raising show and, as is our pattern, there were no listener phone calls. Most of the show was pretty normal, just a few fund raising requests.  

White knight rescues Kerio's free firewall CNET News.com December 1, 2005. Quoting: "Sunbelt Software, best known for its CounterSpy anti-Spyware product, said on Thursday that it has agreed to acquire the Kerio Personal Firewall from Kerio Technologies, saving the popular consumer desktop firewall product from the chop ... Sunbelt will continue to offer a basic, free version of the firewall for home users and plans to announce reduced pricing for the full version of the product..."  

   

December 7, 2005 Show AudioArchives   TOP 

Again! Yes, Sony shoots itself in the foot yet again. The previous outrage about Sony copy-protected audio CDs involved software called XCP. But Sony also uses another software product for copy protection, called Media Max (from SunnComm Technologies). The latest trouble is with the Media Max software.

  • New Sony CD security risk found by John Borland, CNET News.com December 6, 2005. The article says: "Sony said it will notify customers though a banner advertisement directly in the SunnComm software..." This means that the Media Max software opens a line of communication between your computer and Sony.  
     
  • Sony comes clean about this problem 
     
  • List of Sony CDs with the Media Max software

PC World magazine just released the results of their poll of 35,000 readers about reliability and service. The top two companies for desktop computers were Apple and Alienware. The top two companies for laptop computers were Apple and Lenovo. 

Skype does video VoIP The Register December 1, 2005

NBC teams up with iTunes CNET News.com December 6, 2005. Quoting: "The iTunes store will offer 11 shows from NBC, USA Network and the Sci Fi Channel that range from oldies such as the 1950s cop show "Dragnet" to current shows such as "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno ... $1.99 per episode for the television downloads ... The newly produced shows will be available for download a day after they air on TV."  

We chose a single holiday gift for under $50. Hank chose a book, Joe chose a portable, folding laptop computer stand, Danny opted for a USB thumb drive, Michael suggested having your own domain (such as michaelhorowitz.com) and Alfred opted for a Sirius radio receiver, despite the ongoing $13 a month (more or less) fee. There was however, speculation that any satellite radio receiver was as low as $50. 

A caller had what she thought was a haunted computer. Every now and then she would hear sounds through the speakers like a door opening or closing. We gave her advice on how to tell if the problem was with Windows or mechanical. She had taken the computer back and had it worked on, but the problem persisted. Later in the show, others callers suggested that the problem might be AOL's Instant Messenger program, which uses door opening and closing noises when buddies log on and log off. A listener emailed later that even had this problem when not on the Internet, the program sometimes randomly emits the open/close door sound. 

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