Tico Byte for February, 2009

Good morning members,

The February meeting of the PC Club of CR will be this coming Saturday at the Pan American School in Belen at 9am, as usual. It is your chance to meet and greet like-minded people with similar computer interests and challenges, over coffee and donuts. We will be exploring many areas of interest this month, such as ad blocking, presentation creation, areas of interests to CR residents, problem solving, a June party and many more. Bring your knowledge and questions and share with your friends and neighbors. See you there.

Now, on with the Byte.

Item 1:  Microsoft Windows 7 news: (will they ever do anything right?) Microsoft is planning to offer what many believe will be free upgrades to Windows 7 from Vista. Tech ARP acquired a document distributed to OEMs which divulges details of what is currently being referred to as the Windows 7 Upgrade Program.

The program is designed to help bring forward those consumers who may be holding off making new PC purchases until after Windows 7 officially arrives.

The program is designed for consumers and includes absolutely no support for multiple upgrades for enterprise. Companies wishing to upgrade will have to utilize the volume licensing program, of which more information will be shared at a later date.

Don't get too excited though, the program only extends through its Program Eligibility Period. And, if you do not purchase one of the upgraded Vista versions then you'll be forced to purchase Windows 7 outright when it finally hits the market. If you bought Vista Home Basic, Vista Starter Edition, or XP on your new PC you'll just be out of luck.

(They just don't know how to make it easy nor friendly.) Whole article: http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/41428/140/

Which operating system to choose? This chart shows which versions may enable free future upgrades to Windows 7 versions, should the early leaked document prove to be factual.

Note: PCs must be purchased during the Program Eligibility Period, which does not yet appear to have been publicly disclosed.

Item 2:  Margie helps Facebook hit the 175,000,000 mark.

A little more than a month after announcing it had 150 million active users, Facebook has reached 175 million active users--the statistic the social- networking site prefers to use, rather than registered accounts overall. Dave Morin, who runs Facebook's application platform team, announced the milestone Friday evening on his Twitter/FriendFeed. Facebook reached 150 million just more than two months after reaching 120 million and about four months after reaching 100 million.

While Facebook got its start at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. in 2004, most of this recent growth is coming from outside the U.S.

"This includes people in every continent--even Antarctica," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post last month. "If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia, and Nigeria."

Full article: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10164458-93.html

Item 3:  Cuba enters the OS market (poor babies).

Cuba has launched its own variant of the Linux operating system in the latest front of the communist island's battle against what it views as US hegemony.

The Cuban variant, called Nova, was introduced on 9 February at a Havana computer conference on "technological sovereignty" and is central to the Cuban government's desire to replace the Microsoft software running most of the island's computers.

The government views the use of Microsoft systems, developed by US-based Microsoft, as a potential threat because it says US security agencies have access to Microsoft codes.

Full story:  http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,39616104,00.htm (bad link)

Item 4:  Fly Southwest; but do you really want to take that laptop?

Hot on the heels of United Airlines, Southwest is now offering free in-flight Wi-Fi, something we first reported it would do last May. Although the program is only free of charge while in beta (no word on pricing) and has not yet received FCC approval, some lucky Southwest customers are being greeted with Wi-Fi placards and onboard instruction sheets detailing how to use their laptops, iPhones, and Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones while flying. Unlike United Airlines and American Airlines, which both use the Gogo service from Aircell, Southwest is working with Row 44 on this program (which uses a satellite connection instead of air-to-ground antenna). While only a single airliner is currently equipped, Southwest intends to have three more up and Wi-Fi-capable by March.

Full article: http://weblog.infoworld.com/mobile_pulse/archives/2009/02/ southwest_unvei.html  (bad link)

Item 5:  Are your add-ons in Firefox secure?

Software will be free of vulnerabilities when pigs fly -- or as soon as customers value security over cool new features.

Can any software be coded so well that it doesn't have any security deficiencies? Yes, theoretically, but it's way past unlikely. Generously, we can say it's even rarer than rare. This question was brought up by last week's conversation (bad link) with Firefox add-in vendor, Giorgio Maone, creator of NoScript. He felt that I had unfairly maligned his product with too broad a brush when I mentioned that add-on products had security risks of their own.

Full story: http://weblog.infoworld.com/securityadviser/archives/2009/02/ perfectly_secur.html  (bad link)

Item 6:  Now this is cool (and approved by Ed Reames)

Technibble, the Australian site for aspiring computer techies, recently released the second version of its popular Computer Repair Utility Kit, a collection of 57 hand picked tools to help you diagnose and repair your Windows machine.

While all of the utilities are freely available online, this all-in-one kit saves you the trouble of searching for and downloading them individually. Most of the applications don't require installation and the kit can be run directly from your thumb drive.

Full deal here: http://readwrite.com/2009/02/14/a_computer_repair_utility_kit

Item 7:  Bought your netbook yet?

Stripped-down computers known as netbooks have been taking a bite out of laptop sales for the better part of a year. Now computer makers are trying to capitalize on netbooks' popularity by pushing them into a new market—the one occupied by smartphones like Apple's iPhone and Palm's upcoming Pre. The strategy has yielded some attractive deals for consumers, who can score big discounts on Dell (DELL) and Acer netbooks that are paired with wireless data plans from AT&T (T). For PC makers, chopping hundreds of dollars off their prices and emphasizing netbooks' always-connected nature broadens the little products' appeal. Ordinarily, these machines that sport small screens and keyboards and less powerful processors than full-sized notebooks can cost $300 or $400.

Full story: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jan2009/tc20090130_964719.htm

Item 8:  Fun, fun and coffee

You know where. Get there on Saturday to get yours.