Tico Byte

March, 2006



This Saturday, March 18th, is the next meeting of the PC Club at the Pan American School, at 8:30am. Come one and all. We will be presenting imaging software and Roy Lent will discuss the pros and cons of the various freebies available, plus a class on how to use what he sees as the best choice for members. There will be small discussion groups on security and particular problems members are encountering. There will be time for discussion of any hardware or software issues you may have; so please bring your problems and we will try to help you solve them.


Now on with the Tico Byte:


Item 1: Unwanted spy ware.


The other day, I downloaded what I thought was an update to my Windows media player. I downloaded it to my desktop and scanned it with my antivirus, by right clicking and choosing "scan with antivirus" as I have recommended to all of you over the years. No virus was found. So I click on it and executed it.


Wrong thing to do! It contained a very annoying popup telling me that my computer was infected and that I needed to click on the box to go out and get the latest and best anti-spy ware. I immediately disconnected my Internet connection, so that the program wouldn't do that, as I sure as H--- didn't want that to happen. Then I clicked on the box. Sure enough the browser reported back that it couldn't find the page for "spyfalcon.com". In this way I knew the company I was dealing with.


Then I ran my anti-spy ware programs that I have on my computer. Sure enough I found it. So I hit "remove". Then I restarted. Guess what? The annoying box was still there.


Not to be deterred, and having faced this kind of thing many times before, I went through my usual routine to remove unwanted stuff from my computer. But somewhere into the fairly lengthy process, I had a thought: why not just step back a day to an earlier version of Windows. Why not?


So I went to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Restore and picked the day before. Bingo. No problem.


As System Restore doesn't mess with my data, or files that I am working on, nothing is lost. What a great tool. Something to think about as you move through the morass of the Internet these days.


Item 2: I hope you didn't update your McAfee antivirus lately


McAfee is "working around the clock" to help customers hit by a faulty batch of its anti-virus updates that disabled popular programs such as Windows Excel.


Hundreds of legitimate programs were incorrectly identified as a low-risk Windows 95 virus called W95/CTX and deleted or quarantined within a seemingly routine anti-virus definition update.


Full story here: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/5720.html


Item 3: A primer on great digital picture taking


Need a headshot for your web site? A good photo of the little one for your holiday cards? A portrait of Grams for your self-produced family history movie? Taking good pictures of people can be hard, but donít despair. An average digital camera can take great portraits if you keep a few simple guidelines in mind. These steps should prove doable for non-professionals everywhere; no special equipment is required and the features discussed are widely available on most point-and-shoot cameras. Who knows, if you follow along carefully you may never have to pay for those expensive school pictures of your kids again.


Story here:



Item 4: A primer on IPTV


Over the last decade, the growth of satellite service, the rise of digital cable, and the birth of HDTV have all left their mark on the television landscape. Now, a new delivery method threatens to shake things up even more powerfully. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has arrived, and backed by the deep pockets of the telecommunications industry, it's poised to offer more interactivity and bring a hefty dose of competition to the business of selling TV.


IPTV describes a system capable of receiving and displaying a video stream encoded as a series of Internet Protocol packets. If you've ever watched a video clip on your computer, you've used an IPTV system in its broadest sense. When most people discuss IPTV, though, they're talking about watching traditional channels on your television, where people demand a smooth, high-resolution, lag-free picture, and it's the telcos that are jumping headfirst into this market. Once known only as phone companies, the telcos now want to turn a "triple play" of voice, data, and video that will retire the side and put them securely in the batter's box.


Full story here:



Item 5: Where we are going:


In a small deal that signals big changes on the Internet, Google announced Mar. 9 that it has acquired a Silicon Valley sensation called Writely. The online word processor is still in the testing stage, but it's attracting attention as a free alternative to relatively expensive desktop applications like Microsoft (MSFT) Word.


But the transaction stands out for bigger reasons. Writely is one of dozens of companies that are infusing once-static Web pages with the power, speed, and features of sophisticated desktop applications. And by combining these online applications with the new wireless and broadband communications ability of the Web, they are redefining the Internet itself.


With an application like Writely, people can do much more than store documents online. They can also collaborate, often in new and unique ways. Groups can work together on a document, making changes that appear in real time and doing so without the need to reload the Web page.


Full story here:



Item 6: Google maps Mars (and other interesting stuff)


The Google Earth team has launched a new maps site ó but this one has almost nothing to do with Earth. Google Mars maps the surface of the red planet. It was released today in commemoration of the birthday of Percival Lowell, the amateur astronomer who argued that Mars' topography exhibited signs of a past civilization who dug canals to husband the planet's water supplies.





Item 7: And just for you


Come to the meeting this Saturday, Pan American School, 8:30am.


See you there.


Chuck Jennings