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



July 2009 Show Summaries
July 29, 2009  July 22, 2009  July 15, 2009  July 8, 2009  July 1, 2009 
July 29, 2009 Show

Microsoft signed a 10 year agreement with Yahoo to provide the search results, using their new Bing service, on the Yahoo site. It will take months before this goes live, but Yahoo is basically walking away from the search business. Twelve thousand laptops go missing every week in US airports. We discussed some defensive measures such as putting your personal information on the computer and on the power cord in case an honest person recovers it. Two thirds of the laptops that end up at the lost and found in an airport are never claimed.

Three retailers are offering Vista based laptop computers for just under $300. They are Walmart (a Compaq machine), Best Buy (an Acer machine) and MicroCenter. See Notebooks at Netbook Prices: How Low Can We Go?. The laptop at Microcenter is an Acer Aspire AS5516. The laptop at Best Buy is a Toshiba - Satellite L305-S5955. The Compaq laptop from Walmart now says that Price varies by store.

If you see a wireless network called "Free Public Wi-Fi" avoid it. Michael blogged about this last year, see A word of warning about free public Wi-Fi.

Windows users with relatively fast DSL service from Verizon (at least 3Mbps downstream) will now be able to use WiFi hotspots from Boingo for free. Michael found 28 Boingo hotspots in Manhattan (all but one at Starbucks) and another 28 in Brooklyn.

Listener phone calls.

Update August 2, 2009: The study about lost laptops was sponsored by Dell to promote their data protection services. In addition, a blog at the Wall Street Journal by Carl Bialik points out how some of the numbers were spinned to make things appear worse than they really are.

 

July 22, 2009 Show

Firefox has updated version 3.5 to version 3.5.1 to fix a bug. Hank said version 3.5 is much faster than other browsers. Everex no longer sells computers in the US. Intel cut prices on some CPUs because they will soon roll out better ones Netbooks are very popular but some people miss CDs and DVDs. With promo code EMP15 you can get 50% off on Wiley books.

Our guest was Richard Stallman, the man behind GNU and the Free Software Foundation. He condems the Amazon Kindle (his term for it is the "swindle") because it takes away freedoms that readers of hardcopy books enjoy. Freedoms such as the ability to lend a book to a friend, to borrow one from a library, to buy one anonymously by paying cash, to keep a book as long as we like and to give it away. The Amazon Kindle implements DRM - digital rights management - to restrict your use of books. He is not against eBook readers per se, just the DRM, which in addition to the above also requires you to run proprietary software to read eBooks. He urged listeners to go to Defectivebydesign.org and sign up to participate in his protests. Listener phone calls.

 

July 15, 2009 Show

There is a new critical bug in Firefox version 3.5. US Cert has documented ways to modify Firefox 3.5 and disble the vulnerable feature. This slows down JavaScript but keeps the rest of the browser fully functional. Another option is to keep Firefox 3.5 installed, but not use it. You can install the portable version of the prior version (3.0.11) from PortableApps.com.

Rosetta Stone is suing Google over trademark violations. Many companies have the same gripe, Google lets anyone with money buy ads based on another company's trademark. Microsoft is planning on competing with Google Docs by offering a free web-based version of their Office applications. Why not just use open office? Alfred warned that it's almost compatible.

We discussed a couple surveys that showed not much interest yet in converting to Windows 7. Alfred felt it was too early in the game for people to have yet formed opinions about Windows 7.

Alfred reviewed Photosave DVD which he called the digital equivalent of a shoebox for saving all your photographs. It is a writeable DVD with software already burnt into it. When you put the DVD in a computer, the application automatically runs (which, it can be argued, is a security risk), finds all your JPEG pictures and copies them to the DVD. If the pictures don't fit, it calls for a second DVD. If the pictures don't fill the DVD, you keep re-using the same disc. It is just a backup program, it does nothing to help organize pictures.

Social Security numbers can now be guessed based on the place and year of birth. If you're old the gueses are bad, but if your'e young the guesses are good. Listener phone calls for the second half hour of the show.

 

July 8, 2009 Show

There is a new critical bug in Windows XP that affects Internet Explorer. Microsoft has a workaround that is activated by downloading and running an .msi file. See their Security Research & Defense blog posting and Michael's Questions about the Microsoft Video ActiveX Control bug. Firefox users are safe.

No more Compuserve. Gmail is out of beta. Google is planning on releasing an operating system late next year. A bug in McAfee's antivirus software caused Windows to crash. Buy Windows 7 cheap, but only until July 11th. Windows 7 starter edition. A caller asked about antivirus software, and we gave out the wrong URL for the free version of Antivir from Avira. The correct URL is free-av.com. The free version of AVG is available at free.avg.com.

Brian Johnson of Microsoft discussed ways that new startup companies can get free software from Microsoft. The program is Bizspark and it offers software such a Visual Studio and Operating Systems. See microsoft.com/bizspark. Other websites, for IT folks, that Brian discussed were microsoft.com/thrive and microsoft.com/thrivedev.

 

July 1, 2009 Show

If you are interested in the free antivirus program from Avira called AntiVir, be sure you get it from Avira. Joe ran across a number of Google sponsored ads that claimed to offer AntiVir, but were not from Avira. These scam websites ask for personal information, the real Avira sites do not. Avira is at avira.com or free-av.com.

Microsoft is having a sale on Windows 7, if you pre-order it. Alfred suspects this is a marketing gimmick. Next week we'll discuss the pricing of Windows 7 with someone from Microsoft.

China delayed the requirement for Internet filtering on new computers. Worldwide, one out of every seven comptuers sold was sold in China.

Firefox version 3.5 was just released. Joes first impression was that it was much faster. But, there is a new locator feature that he doesn't like at all. If you opt in on a computer with WiFi, Firefox detects some local WiFi networks and marries this information to your IP address to learn exactly where you are.

Joe reviewed the beta of the new, free Microsoft Securit Essentials, their upcoming antivirus program. It is easy to install, runs fast, has a small footprint, but isn't ready for prime time. For one thing, it doesn't integrate with email programs. Also, logging is poor and it requires Windows Update to be in full automatic mode. Joe, like many people, only has Windows warn about new available patches.

Joe discussed TOR, The Onion Router (torproject.org). It is free, open source and offers anonymous online web surfing, but he felt it was too hard to configure. A commercial product called Masksurf from Thanksoft puts a simple, easy front end on TOR. Joe's first look was positive.

Microsoft is shutting down Money and Soapbox. Listener phone calls.

A caller had their antivirus program find malware, remove it, only to have the malicious software re-appear. Michael suggested running anti-malware software from The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. This treats the C disk as a data disk and doesn't let the malicious software defend itself from removal. See The Best Way to Remove Viruses, Spyware and other Malware (Part 1) and How to Remove Malware (part 2): Booting from a CD.

 

 
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