Tico Byte

June, 2006


The June meeting of the PC Club of Costa Rica meets Sat., June 17, at 8:30, at the Panamerican School en Belen. This time we will be talking about social networking, doing an in depth look at the new Windows operating system, Vista, looking at helpful free programs for your WinXP system, going over basics, looking at the latest developments in operating systems, and taking on any hardware and software issues that members may bring to the meeting.


Now on with the Byte:


Item 1: bad news worm in Yahoo mail


Symantec has reported that an un-patched vulnerability of Yahoo Mail could be the source for spreading a highly infectious and "silent" JavaScript worm. The dangerous thing about it is that it can infect machines without users having to click on a suspect attachment, they just have to open the rogue message to get their PCs conquered by the worm.


Full story: http://www.playfuls.com/news_02979_Yahoo_mail_services_affected_by_dangerous_worm.html


Item 2: "Backdoor Trojans…are a significant and tangible threat to Windows users,"


More than 60 percent of compromised Windows PCs scanned by Microsoft's Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool between January 2005 and March 2006 were found to be running malicious bot software, the company said. The tool removed at least one version of the remote-control software from about 3.5 million PCs, it added. That's compared with an overall 5.7 million machines with infections overall.


Full story: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1009_22-6082615.html


Item 3: Defrag Just Won't Finish


(From our buddy, Fred Langa, comes this thorough work around.)


I suggest you run Chkdsk in "thorough" mode: Open "My Computer," right click on your C: drive, and select Properties/Tools. Click "error checking" and tick both check boxes in the next dialog. Click to start the error check, and most likely you'll get a notice that the "disk check could not be performed," and offering to run Chkdsk at reboot. Choose Yes, and then manually reboot your PC to let Chkdsk get started.


It's best to do this at night, when you're done with the PC: Although the standard Chkdsk ("automatically fix file system errors") is pretty fast, the deeper fix ("scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors") can take quite a while. So, let the PC churn as long as it needs to, overnight.


The next day, your PC's hard drive should be thoroughly checked and OK. Reboot again, and start hitting the F8 key as the boot begins. (You may need to tap on it quite a few times to catch the moment when the awakening Windows looks for that keystroke.)


The F8 key interrupts the normal boot and presents you with a menu of boot options, including Safe Mode. Select that. Windows, in Safe Mode, runs in a minimalist configuration: You do have a graphical interface and can run some software, but many of the OS's higher functions are unavailable, creating a simpler environment for maintenance and repair.


If your antivirus or other security tools are running in Safe Mode, temporarily disable them or turn them off.


Now run Defrag from the command line: Click Start/Run, and in the Run box, type


defrag c:


This activates the bare-bones defrag, sans graphical interface--- again, making the operating environment as simple as possible.


Odds are, Defrag will now work to completion. You then can reactivate your security tools, reboot, and use the PC normally!


(For more from Fred, go to Langa.com.)


Item 4: How to tell the sex of flies


A woman walked into the kitchen to find her husband stalking around with a fly swatter.


"What are you doing?" She asked.


"Hunting Flies" He responded.


"Oh. Killing any?" She asked.


"Yep, 3 males, 2 Females," he replied.


Intrigued, she asked. "How can you tell them apart?"


He responded, "3 were on a beer can, 2 were on the phone."


Item 5: Only PC pros should try new Windows test version


MICROSOFT last week reached a milestone in its interminable development of its next version of Windows — a public test release anyone can download and try.


However, now that it's out there, those risk-takers who like to be way, way ahead of the curve may be tempted to try it. If you've been tempted in general by Windows Vista, the question looms: Should you give this beta a shot?


Full story: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/silverman/3963729.html


Item 6: Microsoft Changes WGA Following Spyware Allegations


Microsoft has changed a feature found in its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software after receiving complaints about the program's daily check-ins with the company's servers. Now, the tool will dial home in 14-day intervals instead of after every system boot.


The frequency of the tool's contact with Microsoft was initially reported by Lauren Weinstein, cofounder of People for Internet Responsibility, who posted his findings on a blog and compared the tool to spyware. Weinstein noticed that even on Windows XP systems that WGA already had verified as legitimate, the tool will attempt to contact Microsoft every time the PC is booted.


Full story: http://www.techtree.com/techtree/jsp/list.jsp?list=asktt_question_page_notsignedin&q=1&comment_id=335827


Item 7: What's new in Internet connection here in Costa Rica?


Come to the next meeting and find out. Next Saturday at the Panamerican school.


See you there.