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



September 2007 Show Summaries
September 26, 2007  September 19, 2007  September 12, 2007  September 5, 2007 
September 26, 2007 Show

Joe reported on a new product from Quartics that lets you send video from a PC to a TV over WiFi. It will be available from many different vendors, but one company is currently selling it. It will cost around $160 to $190 or so. See quartics.com or search for "pc2tv".

Stevie reported on the new Guitar Hero 3 for Playstation 2 and 3 and Xbox. Alfred added ram to his computer. SP3 for Office 2003. Best Buy instore prices vs. website prices.

It is now much easier to downgrade from Windows Vista to XP (something we all suggest you do). You can get a Windows XP Recovery CD from the computer hardware vendor and use it lay down an XP image. You don't have to purchase XP at retail, don't have to install it, don't have to activate and don't have to search for drivers for it. Only the business versions of Vista can be downgraded. Each computer company is handling the details differently. Dells sells the CD for $20. HP sells it too. Lenovo sells it but won't say how much they charge.

See Michael's blog on this When to convert from Windows XP to Vista, part 2.

Listener phone calls.

On the show were Joe King, Hank Kee, Alfred Poor and Michael Horowitz.

 

September 19, 2007 Show

From the Digital Life show: Joe loved a new Viewsonic 42 inch LCD TV that's expected to sell for $1,300. It just went on sale. Simulscribe will convert voice mail to email for $30/month. Callwave will too but it's free. In addition, Callwave does SMS text messaging. GE's Cell Fusion converts your cellphone calls to land line calls. Instead of forwarding your cellphone number to your home number when you're at home, just place the phone next to the Fusion box and incoming cell calls ring on your landline. It costs about $180 and uses Bluetooth.

The OQO model 2 is a big step up from the first model. It runs Vista, has 1GB of ram, 120GB hard disk and weighs a pound. The screen is 5 inches but very readable. The keyboard is small, but usable. With all the options Joe thinks you'll want the cost is almost $2,000. Smilebox is a web application for editing, storing and sending pictures.

Microsoft updated Windows even if it was configured not to be updated. In other words, Microsoft knows what's best for your computer and they will zap your copy of Windows irregardless of what you want. They offered no advance warning and no notification after the fact. When their stealth updates was discovered, it turned on they had no documentation about what they did, why they did it or how to undo it. Sound like Big Brother? And when they got tons of bad publicity, they defended their actions - no apology, no one got fired.

Michael blogged about this. See Windows is spyware from September 13th and Defending yourself against Microsoft from September 14th. The latter walks you through turning off the Automatic Updates service to insure this doesn't happen to you.

A couple months ago, Michael interviewed Alfred on The pros and cons of LEDs for backlighting LCD screens. We briefly covered some of the highlights from that interview. LCD screens are lit by either CCFL or LED. CCFL is older and cheaper. LED lit screns are brighter, use less power, are thinner and offer better colors. The use of LEDs in laptop screns is fairly new and so far you only see it in small ultra-portable models. LEDs are more enviornmentally friendly. The Dell M1330 laptop costs $150 more with an LED lit screen rather than CCFL. We didn't get to mention that CCFL screens slowly dim over time. LEDs in contrast run at their full brightness, until one day when they just die.

IBM released free Office software called Lotus Symphony. The software is based on the free Open Office suite but is different in a number of ways. For one, it has only a word processor, spreadsheet and presentations program. Missing are the database and drawing programs in Open Office. It is beta whereas Open Office is a mature product. You have to register to get IBM's software, you don't have to register to get Open Office. Symphony requires a gigabyte of RAM, Open Office only needs 128MB. Symphony only works on Windows XP and Vista, whereas Open Office also works on Windows 98, ME, 2000 and server versions of Windows. Sympony needs twice as much hard disk space as Open Office. The Symphony online demo does not work in Firefox, despite IBM's being a Firefox proponent.

Listener phone calls.

On the show were Joe King, Hank Kee, Alfred Poor, Michael Horowitz and Dave Chan

 

September 12, 2007 Show

No listener phone calls this week, we pre-taped the show Monday evening.

A new virus is attacking Skype Instant Messaging users (not audio phone calls). When IMing over Skype, the victim gets a message with an attached JPEG file. But it's a malicious JPEG that tries to install a virus on your computer.

A judge struck down a piece of the patriot Act. Part of the patent law will be revised making it easier to challenge a patent. People in Iowa sued Microsoft 7 years ago about over-charging for software because they are a monopoly. The case was just settled for up to $180 million. The lawyers are getting $75 million according to ComputerWorld. This works out to more than $640 for the billable hours claimed by lawyers, clerks and paralegals.

We've all seen offers of refunds if a product is offered for less within a short period of time after you buy it. We like the idea behind a new web site priceprotectr.com which aims to help you with these types of price guarantees offered by stores.

Apple cut the price of the iPhone and angered those who already paid the higher price. Net neutrality is being reviewed by the FCC and the Department of Justice was in too. Verizon's EV-DO data network advertises unlimited usage, but that's not true. Likewise, Comcast has canceled the accounts of people who downloaded too much stuff over the Internet. Comcast won't even define "too much".

Google and Microsoft are offering lots of new software for free. Google even includes Star Office, a competitor to Microsoft Office which used to be $80 (it's part of their Google Pack).

Alfred reported on new display panels. One thing that's not new are panels with a refresh rate of 120Hz. They are great at eliminating the motion blur that can occur with LCD panels. Sharp has new 50 inch LCD panels that are only one inch thick and weigh alot less than others. The Toshiba Regza line of LCDs have a bezels design that is only a half inch. With it, you can fit a 40 inch screen in the same space that a 37 inch model usually requires.

Alfred is a big fan of rear projection televisions, especially those using LCOS technolgy. He feels they are a bargain. Now, the company that makes Olevia televisions (which Alfred said are cheap and good) will soon come out with a new Olevia branded LCOS rear projection TV. Alfred saw it at the show and said the picture was georgeous. The screen is 65 inches and the model number is 665H. The list price will be only $2,000 so we can expect a street price of probably $1,700 to $1,800.

Michael Dell says he is not a crook, that he was not involved in the accounting fraud at Dell. He turned over control of the company to Kevin Rollins in 2004, but the period of fraud covers 2003 through 2006. According to the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, he is liable. If this gets to court, he's in trouble.

Malicious software is getting easier to create using "crimeware" programs (a new term). For defense, we suggested Linkscanner from Exploit Labs. In comes in free and paid editions and there is also an online edition that checks a website for malware on demand. This page came up clean.

Municipal WiFi is in trouble in many cities.

We offer a  Gold Card  for tech support from all of us on the show. Gold card holders normally get four responses to each of their questions and the responses are same day. We answer all email, but questions from people without a Gold Card are answered when we get around to it, which may be a week or more. You can order a Gold Card at any time from wbai.org.

When writing about a problem, please try to include information about the environment, such as the version of the software with the problem, the version of Windows being used, etc. A screen shot of an error message is worth a thousand words. And if you use a challenge/response spam filtering system, you'll have to turn it off to get responses from us.

On the show were Joe King, Hank Kee and Alfred Poor.

 

September 5, 2007 Show

Monster.com admitted the data theft from their customers was was worse than they had originally said. Sony's flash drive with a fingerprint reader used a rootkit, a big no-no, they owned up to. There is a big battle over new file formats for Office files. Some states want Microsoft to still be treated like a monopoly.

You can downgrade the two business editions of Windows Vista to Windows XP Professional (either the 32 or 64 bit versions) or to the tablet edition of Windows XP. The media center version of XP is not allowed. Downgrading requires you to have a Windows CD (not a recovery CD). You will have to call Microsoft and tell them you are exercising your downgrade rights.

Iolo System Mechanic has no more rootkit like behavior. Microsoft says it will improve Vista to be less annoying.

Listener phone calls.

Next week will be on the air, but not live. We'll record the show a couple days early and post it on our website as usual.

 

 
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