Tico Byte; March 13, 2005

 

A quick reminder that information pertaining to the PC Club of Costa Rica will be found on the club's site at www.pcclub.net. Go there and register so that you can read all that is pertinent to your club.

 

The next regular meeting of the club will be Mar. 19th of this month at the Pan American School in Belen at 8:30AM as usual. Bring any interested friends or neighbors. This meeting we will be discussing how to post to the new site and how to get the most out of it. Also, there will be all the usual interesting topics.

 

1)    Making Thunderbird reply change where it starts a reply (from Kim Komander)

 

Ed, my editorial director, has started using Firefox's e-mail program, Thunderbird. When he replied to my messages, his reply was below my original message. That was irritating, because I'm used to seeing his replies above my originals.

 

It turns out that that can be adjusted in Thunderbird. Putting the new message at the end is apparently the default.

 

To change that in Thunderbird, click Tools>>Account Settings.

"Automatically quote the original message when replying" should be checked. Click the down arrow in the drop down box, and select "start my reply above the quote." Click OK.

 

2)   A new search engine from Google (also from Kim)

 

Speaking of search engines, I thought we might get through the week without an announcement of a new service from Google. But on Thursday, it released a specialized search for movies.

 

Put a movie title into the search box this way: movie: Aviator. Give Google your ZIP code when asked. You'll get a list of theaters and times. You'll also receive a link to reviews, with an overall score.

 

Google overwhelms us with features, some of which are less worthwhile than others. But I like the movie search. You can learn more here:

    http://www.google.com/help/features.html#movies

 

3)   Blocked sites (excerpted from Fred Langa)

 

The remaining part of his problem had nothing to do with Geoff at all:

Most sites are set up to work with or without the "www" in the URL. For example, http://langa.com and http://www.langa.com get you to the same place. So, Geoff (not unreasonably) assumed that rapidpcs.com and www.rapidpcs.com were the same.

 

But they're not. http://rapidpcs.com/ doesn't work, but http://www.rapidpcs.com/  is perfectly fine.

 

This can happen when, by design, accident or other reason, a web host or registrar sets things up so that you *must* use the "www" in the URL.

Yes, it's a little silly, but a surprising number of sites are set up just that way.

 

So; If you have trouble connecting to a site that you think *should* be working, be sure to try both the long and the short form of the URL. If one doesn't work, the other just might.

 

If neither way works, and you're sure the site is there, and that you have the URL correct, then it may be something on your own PC that's blocking you.

 

4)   Don't be fooled (from Fred Langa)

 

        Hi Fred, Was just surfing the net looking at the [Spybot Search & Destroy] web site and found the following... It could be helpful to the wider audience through your excellent newsletter if they are aware of the problem....

    

quote from the web site...

    

"If you search for the keyword Spybot on Altavista or some other search engines, you'll get a bunch of sponsored results. One of them is Spyware Doctor, who seem to be aggressively using our name Spybot to advertise their software. We receive a bunch of emails every week from people complaining to us and asking for a refund. After some mails we usually find out that those people believed they had bought Spybot-S&D, but actually got Spyware Doctor... PC Tools' attorney Darren Sommers sees nothing bad in cheating people that way. We did contact Element 5, the company they use for their payments (and which btw is used by Lavasoft as well) for any help we could give to those people who were cheated and contacted by us. Ms. Schulte-Hoberg from Element 5 reacted by rejecting any help to people who where cheated by PC Tools. Element 5 did even block all our email addresses to avoid any more about this. As there is nothing we can do to help, and Element 5 rejects any cooperation in getting the cheated people refunds, we can only recommend that you write letters of complaint to Element 5, and, if you were cheated yourself, contact us at legal@spybot.info so that we can confront them with a huge bunch of cases."

    

Kind Regards, Rajesh (PS: Excellent newsletter)

 

Yes, Rajesh, there's a lot of room for confusion out there. While the software we recommend is called "Spybot Search & Destroy," other competing software is called "Spyware Search to Destroy", "Spyware Bot", "Seek and Destroy", and so on. You can decide for yourself whether these very similar names are merely amazing coincidences, or deliberate attempts to confuse and deceive.

 

URLs are another problem:. For example, the real site for the true Spybot S&D is:  http://www.safer-networking.org . A completely different product from a completely different company uses the almost-identical http://www.safer-networking.com/--- the ".org" and ".com" making all the difference. People looking for Spybot S&D's site who accidentally type the "com" form of the URL instead of the "org" may end up downloading a totally different tool from a different vendor.

 

And, as the quote from Rajesh suggests, some web searches are, ahem, less than helpful in finding what you want, as opposed to finding what they want you to see:

 

For example, when you search for the word "spybot," good searches likeGoogle and the new (hugely improved!) MSN search keep paid advertising placements very clearly marked and separated from the search results. But other searches such as Altavista minimize the visible differences between true search results and the paid ads, so the latter masquerade as search results (unless you're reading very closely). Maybe there's a purely innocent reason for this, but to me it looks like the site is trying to foster deliberate confusion so users will see the ads and mistake them for high-ranked search results.

 

You have to be careful with searching and with URLs to ensure you get what you're really looking for. But again, the true, correct link for the Spybot Search & Destroy tool we often recommend is: http://www.safer-networking.org

 

 

                                

5)   A good article on switching to a Mac.

 

While Switching to Mac Will Improve Security, It Isn't for Everybody

 

By WALTER S. MOSSBERG

 

Over the past year, I have advised readers who are fed up with the plague of viruses and spyware on Windows PCs that one way out of the mess is to switch to Apple Computer's Macintosh. There has yet to be a report of a successful, real-world virus for the Mac's current operating system, and there is little or no known spyware for the Mac.

 

I stand by that advice, and also by my positive reviews of recent Mac models, especially the impressive iMac G5. But, as I have noted in the past, switching to the Mac has downsides, and it isn't the best course for some groups of Windows users. So here's a brief guide to which types of users might find switching inadvisable.

 

In general, the best candidates for a switch to the Mac are those who use their computers overwhelmingly for common, mainstream consumer tasks. These include e-mail, instant messaging and Web browsing; word processing, spreadsheets and presentations; working with photos, home videos and digital music; and playing and creating CDs and DVDs.

 

The Mac is as good as Windows at these core tasks, and in many cases better. Still, you certainly shouldn't consider switching to the Mac if you are happy with Windows and you aren't much affected by viruses and spyware.

 

Even if you aren't happy with Windows, don't consider switching to the Mac if you are resistant to learning new ways of doing things. The Mac and Windows are close cousins, but there is a learning curve that comes with switching.

 

For instance, Apple uses a one-button mouse without a scroll wheel, which takes some getting used to. There are differences in the way menus and desktop windows behave. And the standard delete key on a Mac works like the backspace key, not the delete key, in Windows. Mac desktop keyboards have a second, Windows-type delete key, but Mac laptops lack one.

 

And don't consider switching if your budget covers only the cost of the Mac itself. There will usually be extra costs. To maintain compatibility with the Windows world, you will probably want a copy of the Mac version of Microsoft Office, which isn't included by Apple. And you may want a standard two-button, Windows-style mouse, which works fine on the Mac but isn't included.

 

Also, Windows users who rely on specialized business or technical software, or on custom software supplied by their employers, should be wary of switching. That's because the Mac can't run Windows software straight out of the box, and these kinds of specialized Windows programs are rarely available in Mac versions.

 

You can enable a Mac to run Windows programs by buying a $240 program from Microsoft called Virtual PC. It creates a pseudo Windows computer on a portion of a Mac's hard disk. But I don't recommend relying on Virtual PC if you use multiple Windows programs frequently, because it's slow and susceptible to the same viruses and spyware as a real Windows PC.

 

People who depend on their company's IT department to manage and support their home computers may find themselves locked into Windows. Most corporate computer staffs support only Windows and know little or nothing about Macs.

 

Similarly, if the principal use of your home computer is to remotely link up to your company's Windows network, stay with Windows. The Mac has gotten much better at doing these remote linkups, but they are still easier on Windows.

 

If you love Microsoft Outlook, you should also probably stick with Windows. There is no version of Outlook for the current Mac operating system. Instead, Microsoft includes an e-mail and organizer program called Entourage in the Mac version of Office. It's similar to Outlook but just different enough to bug Outlook lovers.

 

If you use your PC mainly for games, avoid the Mac. While there are more games for the Mac now than there were a few years back, the number still lags behind Windows badly. And the hottest computer games come out first, and sometimes exclusively, on Windows.

 

People who rely heavily on financial software may be unhappy with the Mac. Microsoft Money doesn't come in a Mac version. The Mac version of Quicken isn't identical to the Windows product, and converting Windows Quicken data to the Mac is a bear. Many specialized financial-analysis and stock-trading programs aren't available for Macs.

 

If you need an ultra-light laptop for traveling, you're out of luck with Apple. The Mac laptops are great, but the lightest one weighs 4.6 pounds, compared with three pounds or less on the Windows side.

 

If you use a portable music player other than Apple's iPod, or love the major subscription music services, Napster and Rhapsody, which work only on Windows, you won't be happy with a Mac.

 

Of course, you can overcome most of these obstacles if you buy a Mac as a companion to, rather than a replacement for, a Windows machine. But then you'd still be battling Windows viruses and spyware, and having to spend money and time to maintain dual platforms.

 

The bottom line is that the Mac is a great alternative for mainstream consumers doing mainstream tasks who are sick and tired of the Windows security crisis. But it isn't for everybody.

 

6)   What appears to be a new and good HTML editor (from Fred Langa)

 

     Fred, searching for a freeware WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get] HTML editor seems to be a lifetime occupation with me. Tried 'em all.

    

     THEN I find this one which looks, after a wee bit of playing-with-it, fantastic.

    

     http://www.nvu.com/index.html

    

     --Ken Laninga

 

Thanks, Ken, Nvu (pronounced "en-view") is causing a bit of buzz: It's open source (IOW, free) and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Definitely worth a look!

 

7)   This is fun

 

          Here are some facts about the universe:

         

          area:  infinite - bigger than the biggest thing ever

          and then some.   much bigger than that in fact,

          really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size,

          real "wow that's big" time.  Infinity is just so big

          that by comparison, bigness itself looks really

          titchy.  gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied

          by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept I'm

          trying to get across here

         

          Imports:  none.   It's impossible to import things

          into an infinite area, there being no outside to

          import things from

         

          Exports:  none:  see imports

         

          Population:  none. It is known there are an infinite

          number of worlds, simply because there is an

          infinite amount of space for them to be in.

          however, not every one of them is inhabited.

          Therefore, there must be a finite number of

          inhabited worlds.  Any finite number divided by

          infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so

          the average population of all the planets in the

          universe can be said to be zero.  From this it

          follows that the population of the whole universe is

          also zero, and that any people you may meet from

          time to time are merely the products of a deranged

          imagination

         

          Art:  none.  the function of art is to hold the

          mirror up to nature, and there simply isn't a mirror

          big enough.   see area

 

8)   A free hot spot in CR.


I was in Denny's the other day and noticed that the little sign on the desk said that I should try their wireless connection. So I asked. And sure enough it is a free service available to all. That night, I happened to be in the hotel next door waiting for a friend to come in from up north on a bus. I also had a friend’s wireless computer with me. So I went over to the restaurant and had a cup of coffee and tried it. I connected immediately and was running speeds of about 200-400kb, which isn't bad for those of you “dial-uppers” who run 56kbs.

So the service is free for you or your friends looking for the fast and free Internet connection. Just park in the parking lot and it ought to work. Nothing to configure, just set your wireless to do DHCP and it will work fine.

 

9)    Here's a great one from Fred Langa on direct connection of computers:

Hi Fred: In the continuing saga of Direct Cable Connect (DCC) (a very inexpensive way to connect PCs, even they don't have network cards, modem, or another ways of connecting; see http://www.langalist.com/Plus/extras/dcc1.asp ), I thought I'd share my first experience connecting XP and Win98.

 

I've used DCC since Win95 and, like you, found it very useful, albeit difficult to troubleshoot at times. I started DCC on both machines with XP as the Guest and to my delight, an icon showed up in the System Tray saying I was connected at 4.0 Mbs. But then I didn't know what to do. I couldn't find the 98 machine or do anything with the connection. I called Dell and talked to both hardware and software support and no one I talked to was any help. I then called the local computer shop and was told I needed to "map the drive." Since I have almost no networking experience, they explained that I needed to know the name of the computer I wanted to connect to. Well, I've called my computer lots of names over the years, but somehow I didn't think that's what they meant. ;-) So on the Win98 computer, I right-clicked Network Neighborhood, clicked on the Identification tab and learned the computers name. Then in XP I went to Control Panel/Network Connections/New Connection Wizard where I chose "Set up an advanced connection," "Connect directly to another computer," "Guest," and the next screen asks for the computer name. The final screen asks for the "device" and I chose LPT1.

I also learned that you can just open an Explorer window and choose Tools/Map Network Drive and put the computer name in the Folder field with two backslashes (\\) in front of it. Then the linked computer shows up in Explorer and My Computer and you can work with it just like another drive. But after all that, I think it may be faster to use the CD burner to copy between computers because the transfer rate is so slow. Maybe a USB connection will prove faster but I haven't learned how to do that yet. :P

BTW, on XP to learn the computer's name you right-click My Computer, choose Properties and there's a tab called (surprisingly!) "Computer Name”.

 

OK, members. See you all next Saturday at the Pan American School at 8:30AM.

Chuck