Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Future is Here and On Display in Las Vegas

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001
RSS feed for WXPNewsManage your WXPNews ProfileWXPNews Privacy Policy
WXPNews: Your Source for all things XP
Vol. 8, #53 - Jan 13, 2009 - Issue #361

 The Future is Here and On Display in Las Vegas

  1. Editor's Corner
    • The Future is Here and On Display in Las Vegas
    • Follow-up: Will Technology Turn Against You?
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Revisiting Y2K
    • XP is still the favorite for gamers
    • Turn your XP Machine into a virtual SMTP server
    • Facebook gadget works on XP as well as Vista
    • Feeling stressed? Rx: Take two games of Tetris and call us in the morning
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to get Windows 7 beta
    • How to convert an IEEE 1394 (Firewire) disk drive to a dynamic disk in XP Pro
  5. XP Security News
    • One Windows security patch to be released this Tuesday
  6. XP Question Corner
    • Can I upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Disk Defragmenter doesn't work on XP computer
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • Your Uninstaller! 2008 - Gets Rid of Hard to Uninstall Programs and Their Traces!

VIPRE and AVG Resource Usage Shoot-Out

Many of you asked how VIPRE compares to the popular AVG. Well, we ran the tests and posted the results. The numbers tell the story. VIPRE deep scan time is 3.5 times faster in minutes. VIPRE takes only 38% of the CPU compared to AVG, and AVG takes 1.5 times the the Memory compared to VIPRE. In short: both AVG "Free" and "Paid" use A LOT more resources to do the job, which can slow down your PC dramatically. Here are the details and the graphs:

 Editor's Corner

The Future is Here and On Display in Las Vegas

For tech writers, this is the one week of the year that we don't have to wonder what we're going to write about. There's only one topic on everyone's mind: the new devices, software, news and rumors coming out of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The beginning of each new year sees the show take over the Las Vegas strip as tens of thousands of folks in the tech biz descend upon the neon capital of the world to sort through a conglomeration of gadgets, some of them exciting, some ho-hum, and some just confusing.

I didn't get to go this year because of other obligations, but I have my secret sources "in the field" and access to all the reports and photos that have been streaming out of the LV Convention Center all week. This is one instance where what happened in Vegas definitely didn't stay in Vegas. For the first time in a long time, Bill Gates wasn't there to kick start the event. Instead, Steve Ballmer gave this year's keynote speech. You can watch it here:

As has been true for the past few years, it appears that most of the excitement this year was generated in three categories: car tech, TVs, and portable computers. Some of the products and services announced at the show span more than one of those categories. For instance, Audiovox announced an automotive version of the MeidaFlo TV service, a cellular-based in-car TV system. For $50/month, you can get around a dozen channels of programming while you're on the go. See it here:

Not to be outdone, AT&T is coming out with a satellite TV service for your car. It's called Cruisecast and you get almost twice as many television channels along with 20 satellite radio channels. It's only $28/month, but the equipment is pricey: $1300, and requires that an odd-looking 3 lb. antenna be mounted on the roof of your vehicle. You can read more about it here:

Presumably, these in-car entertainment systems are meant to be used by passengers and/or when the vehicle is parked, but I can't help thinking not everybody is going to use them that way. We already have to worry about drunk drivers, drivers who are too busy chatting on their cell phones to pay attention to the road, and drivers fiddling with their radios. Now we'll also have to look out for drivers who lose control of their cars because they're laughing so hard at the latest episode of Family Guy.

These services are interesting, but I don't think I'll be signing up for any of them anytime soon. If I had little kids that I had to take on lots of long car trips, I might feel differently. Something I find a little more interesting is Ford's initiative to turn its F150 pickups into mobile offices with the next version of Microsoft Sync. Heck, the things are almost as big as an office building anyway, and with the economy at a low point, you may find lots of folks working out of their automobiles. The Work Solution feature promises a mobile computer with 3G Internet connectivity and even a printer. Read more about that here:

Or how about an in-dash computer for your car that sports a Core Duo processor, 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive, with wi-fi, Bluetooth, FM and satellite radio receivers GPS and even a DVD-RW burner? Hey, where's my Blu-ray player for the car? Except for that last item, Dashboard Devices has a system with all that and more - but it comes at a hefty price (reportedly around $2700). Read more here:

Personally, I don't want my computer built into my car. I prefer to be able to take it with me when I get out and go inside some place. There are some great desktop replacements out there now - portables that really can function as your primary or only computer. But this year's CES seemed to be all about making laptops lighter and smaller and more portable than ever. I like the trend; ultra compacts have fascinated me for a long time and that's why I paid over two thousand dollars - twice - for tiny Sonys that, at the time, were the smallest fully functional notebooks around.

Today, of course, tiny computers are everywhere, thanks to the Netbook explosion, and they cost a lot less. Asus started it with the EeePC, and just about every major computer vendor has played copycat and come out with a small, light, inexpensive model this past year. Some of these are pretty low powered and not really good for much beyond checking email, browsing the web and creating simple documents. Others give you most of the functionality of a full sized laptop, especially if you're lucky enough (as I am) to have small hands that are comfortable with the miniaturized keyboards and good eyes to see the smaller screens.

The first of these new "little guys" to draw my attention was, naturally, another Sony. The new P series promises to be over a pound lighter than my 2.7 lb. T series system, and with a significantly smaller footprint. It has an 8 inch display and the keyboard area is "cut off" to eliminate the touchpad (there's a J mouse instead), which makes the whole thing not much bigger than a standard white business envelope. With the capacity for up to 4 GB of RAM, it promises to be more than just another Netbook. I'm not sure how I feel about the J mouse (I've never cared for them in the past), but I'd love to get my hands on one and try it out. And with a reported price tag of under $1000, it makes me want to cry over the all those dollars I spent on the T series machine. You can see it here:

Money's tight these days, and a thousand bucks is still a big expenditure. And the new Sony still doesn't have one feature that I've been wanting in my small Sonys for years; it doesn't convert to a tablet. But it looks as if Asus has gotten on the tablet bandwagon with its latest T91 model. It's a touchscreen Tablet PC that's expected to be available in both 8.9 and 10 inch screen sizes and speculation has the price at a pretty palatable $600. It remains to be seen what software it will run and how responsive it will be, but it's definitely another option I want to take for a test drive.

Of course, it's possible to go even smaller. Another small star at CES was the latest OQO ultra mobile PC. What makes it special is its OLED display, with a million to one contrast ratio. I'm intrigued by the little UMPCs, even though I can't find a good reason to justify buying one. It's a little too big to carry around with you all the time like a cell phone and it's a little too small to really serve as a production laptop. But they certainly are cute.

On the other hand, some folks prefer a bigger screen and keyboard but still want to keep it light. Apple's MacBook Air made quite a splash and as a result, thin is in. At CES, Dell showed off their own ultra-thin laptop called Adamo, but they're being hush-hush about the specs and pricing even though they plan to start shipping it early this year. The folks over at Engadget have posted some of the only photos of it here:

These little laptops are all great for getting things done on the road, but sometimes you just want to forget about work and lose yourself in a good movie. I've already written about our new TV in my blog, and we're very happy with it - but CES provided a glimpse of where TV technology is headed and as I wrote in the January 8th edition of VistaNews, the long-awaited convergence of television and Internet is finally getting underway in earnest.

Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, Panasonic and other TV vendors introduced sets that come with Ethernet ports for plugging your television directly into the network so you can rent movies over the Internet, watch YouTube videos or view Flickr photos on your TV without having to connect it to a PC. To go along with all that hardware, services such as Yahoo's ConnectedTV provide the interface for accessing Internet content on your TV. There's even a Twitter widget so you can post to the microblog site about the program you're watching. Read more about it here:

Had we waited a little longer to buy an Aquos, we could have gotten one with a Blu-ray player built in (although it doesn't come in the 65 inch size, at least not yet). At CES, they unveiled the first such BD/TV combo sets, but you can bet other vendors will follow suit now that Blu-ray is the clear winner of the HD disc format war.

But it's not all about connectivity and features, or even picture quality. Just like laptops, TV sets keep getting thinner, too. The next generation of my Sharp Aquos is only 3.44 cm thick (less than one and half inches). Samsung has a new LED set that's only 6.5mm thick (for those of us in the U.S., that's about a quarter of an inch). With OLED (Organic light emitting diode) technology, TVs can be even thinner than that - theoretically as thin as a sheet of paper and weighing no more than a few ounces. See some of the ultra thin sets at CES here:

Wouldn't it be great to be able to easily hang your TV on the wall without worrying about bolting it to the studs to keep its weight from bringing it toppling down? On the other hand, if flexible OLED TVs become the norm, it will be easy for a burglar to just roll up your $10,000 screen and steal away with it. If you want something that nobody's going to be able to steal (unless he brings along a whole crew of helpers), how about Panasonic's 150 inch plasma model, which they've now exhibited two years in a row?

Tell us what you think about this year's CES offerings. What got your attention? Was it LG's touchscreen watch/phone? The PowerMat wireless device recharger? WowWee's remote controlled spyball, which can roll through the house and transmit video via the built-in webcam? What new tech toys were you hoping to see that didn't show up? Are vendors just whistling in the wind with expensive new products in the face of an uncertain economy? Are people you know planning to scale back on high tech purchases? Or will lower prices result in more spending? Let us know your opinions at feedback@wxpnews.com

Follow-up: Will Technology Turn Against You?

In last week's editorial, we took a look at some of the ways that our tech devices can turn against us, either due to unintentional bad programming or at the hands of criminals, corporations or even government agencies that can use them to invade our privacy and worse. Quite a few of you had something to say on the subject.

Most of you don't like the new trend toward collecting more and more personal information. As Chris N. said, "To the best of my knowledge the 1936 Social Security Act forbids the use of your social security number for anything but social security and yet it is used for everything. Now Indiana, and I suspect other states, are using your DL photo for face recognition databases. They take freedoms away a little at a time and we let them. Reminds me of the frog in the boiling water story."

Many of you recounted your own stories of businesses swiping drivers' licenses and ID cards. It appears Target is not unique in this. Emory noted that "Now all Casino clubs are swiping your driving license and ID's into their database."

Some of you were motivated to try buying wine at Target yourselves. Cary S. wrote that, "My wife checked out with Coffee Mate and again an inexpensive wine. When asked, my wife pulled out her driver license and showed it to the cashier, she tried to take it to scan but we would not let her have it. Note at this time there was another person there who seemed to be a supervisor. At this time the other person and myself got into a back and forth 'I need to scan it', no you will not, back and forth for a while. Finally my wife pulled out another picture ID that did not have a bar code and they accepted that, probably just to get us to move on and get out of this situation."

And, of course, it's not just in the U.S. that this is an issue. Peter W. notes that "Here in the UK we have even more restrictive and unpleasant legislation both on the statute, and planned. You rightly highlight that it's not necessarily the collection of the information itself that is worrying, but the potential for ... abuse and misuse of that information. I have no problem in theory with providing anonymised information to the Government and its agencies if that information allows the Government to work better. I DO object to having my personal data used for loosely 'political' ends, or to build up a picture of me as an individual."

A number of readers from Europe wrote to suggest that we need something like the EU's Data Protection Act. Steve G. said, "Target would be breaking the law here in the UK if they made you hand over and then kept data (as in your example, your driver's licence) that was not strictly necessary."

A former police detective who specialized in fraud cases wrote to applaud my "spreading the word," and noted that "Even if the information is maintained inhouse it is exposed to theft by temp workers or hackers that know it is there." She also provided the tip that the information on the magnetic strip can be deleted with the use of a degausser or strong magnet. Others pointed out the same thing. H.A.C. said, "I'm certain that I'm not the first to suggest this, but it seems to me that if there's one card in the wallet that needs to be de-magnetized, it's the driver license. Seriously, is there any instance where it benefits the driver for that stripe to be readable?"

Many of you pointed out the flaw in Oregon's proposal to use GPS to collect mileage information. Greg said, "Not that I support the idea, but assuming that you wanted to implement such a scheme, it would be a lot more cost-effective to just require people to have their odometers inspected on an regular basis, perhaps as part of renewing their vehicle registration. Or make it voluntary by setting a reasonably high baseline mileage allotment per year which (if you actually drove less than the allotment) you can have reduced by having the odometer inspected."

Neil N. summed it up this way: "If we want to enjoy the manifold benefits of new technology, we either acquiesce to consequential inappropriate demands made or we vigilantly monitor these demands and, when required, demand remedies from our elected officials. Technology doesn't absolve us of our responsibilities as a citizen."

Finally, Dennie A. urged this: "I encourage everyone confronted with this policy to e-mail the corporate offices & voice their opinion. These are corporate policies, not state or federal laws & they do not have the right to this information, as long as they & the purchaser are complying with the laws that are in place and they need to hear from the customers on this, LOUDLY."

Of course, that may or may not have any effect. Lana S. wrote: "My husband and I recently had this same experience whereas the cashier wanted to swipe our drivers license. We did not purchase the wine. I was so angry that I wrote a letter to the CEO and President of TARGET in Minneapolis. Two weeks later I get a form letter from Customer Relations signed as Joseph (no last name) and an 800 number to call to discuss the matter. I called the number and after 20 minutes of searching for a Joseph, I was finally was connected to him and got his Voice Mail...I was so disgusted I left a message and never heard back."

The bottom line was expressed by Jennifer H., Tim R. and others: "The problem is not technology. People are behind the technology. The problem is people."

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called VistaNews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Quotes of the Week

Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event. - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it. - Frank Herbert (1920-1986)

The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane. - Nikola Tesla (1857-1943)

New: Sunbelt Personal Firewall Now Supports Vista

The Windows Firewall is worse than useless, it gives you a false sense of security. Why is the Windows Firewall not cutting it? It only filters INCOMING traffic. That means if malware has compromised your PC, it is able to SEND OUT your credit card data, and all other personal info. That's right; the Windows "firewall" does not stop that! The Sunbelt Personal Firewall (SPF) now supports Windows XP and 32-bit Vista, and it DOES filter both in - AND outgoing traffic. Of course it works great with CounterSpy and VIPRE. The SPF two-way firewall keeps hackers out and your private info inside. Believe us, with the crime rates on the Internet skyrocketing, you really want to get the full version of SPF.

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!

It doesn't take much to bog down Vista. Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance.

Backups? We don't need no stinking backups! Syncronization is easier, faster and much more current than backups!

Simplify Your Life With StickyNote! The 3-D Notes look like real bits of paper stuck to your screen!

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

Print Screen Deluxe is the realistic upgrade of the Windows version. You can crop - before the capture! Very quick!

One password gives automatic, secure access to all my online passwords and usernames. The autofill feature is a major time-saver! Not a widget.

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Revisiting Y2K

In last week's editorial, several readers took issue with my off-the-cuff comment that Y2K turned out to be a "non-issue." Mike C. wrote: "If millions of lines of code had not been corrected and a major effort had not been put into correcting the problem before January 1, 2000, the world just might have had that catastrophe after all. I was a programmer at the time and I can tell you from first hand experience, had we not made the changes that we made, our company would have had the biggest mess of all time and it would have taken a very long time to correct. Give some credit to those poor programmers that worked very hard to fix the problem and then had their jobs shipped off to India in appreciation." So let's all say a great big virtual "Thank you!" to all the programmers who worked on the problem and averted that disaster.

XP is still the favorite for gamers

According to recent surveys, Windows XP is the hands-on favorite OS for PC gamers, in part because third party developers are not creating their software to run on Vista. You can read more about it here:

Turn your XP Machine into a virtual SMTP server

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) servers are used to send outgoing email (POP or IMAP servers are generally used to receive and deliver incoming mail). Some ISPs put limits on the number of messages you can send from your account, in an attempt to prevent spamming. But you may have a legitimate need to send more messages than you're allowed. One solution is to set up your own SMTP server. That doesn't mean you have to buy a new machine or install a server operating system. Instead you can set up an SMTP server on your Windows XP Pro computer for sending mail from your home network. This article explains how to do it:

Facebook gadget works on XP as well as Vista

The sidebar, with its gadgets, is one of my favorite Vista features. If you want to keep up with your Facebook account without opening the browser, there's a cool gadget for doing that. Unlike most gadgets, you can use it on XP as well as Vista. Check it out here:

Feeling stressed? Rx: Take two games of Tetris and call us in the morning

I've never been much of a computer gamer, but there's one little game that I used to sit and play for hours on my state of the art 286 powerhouse that was loaded with a whole megabyte of RAM and a giant 100 MB hard drive. This was in the early 90s, I was a police officer, and I'd found that a good way to de- stress when I came home from work was to lose myself in the task of arranging colored blocks as they fell into patterns that would make them disappear. Now psychologists at Oxford University have confirmed that Tetris is in fact a miracle worker that can help heal post traumatic stress disorder. One little warning, though, from my own personal experience: like any miracle drug, it can be addictive. Read more here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to get Windows 7 beta

If you want to try out Microsoft's new desktop operating system before it hits the shelves sometime later this year, you're in luck. Last week Microsoft released the first public beta. Originally, they planned to limit the beta to 2.5 million downloads, but on Sunday, they announced that they were suspending the limit and will make the public beta available until January 24th. Read more here:

Here's the site to download the beta:

How to convert an IEEE 1394 (Firewire) disk drive to a dynamic disk in XP Pro

Dynamic disks have an advantage over basic disks. You can create spanned volumes with them, for better performance. On your desktop computer running XP Pro, you can convert a Firewire disk drive to a dynamic disk in Windows XP by editing the registry. Here's how:
  1. Open your registry editor and navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ System \ CurrentControlSet \ Services \ Dmadmin \ Parameters \ EnableDynamicConversionFor1394
  2. Click Edit, then Modify.
  3. Change the value data field to 1.
  4. Close the registry editor.
Note that dynamic disks are not supported on mobile computers and disks that will be moved to other computers should not be converted to dynamic status. Also, you can't create dynamic disks on XP Home Edition.

 XP Security News

One Windows security patch to be released this Tuesday

It's that time again: Patch Tuesday comes around on January 13th, but the first one of the year is a particularly light one. Only one security update is expected to be released, for a critical vulnerability that affects Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Server 2003/2008. Read more about it here:

 XP Question Corner

Can I upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7?

I keep hearing that Windows 7 is the operating system XP users have been waiting for, and now I hear the beta is going to be available to the public. My question: can I upgrade my XP computer directly to Windows 7 or do I have to install Vista first? And if I don't like it, can I roll it back to Windows XP without any problems? Thanks. - Troy L.

Microsoft released a public beta of Windows 7 last week, announced by Steve Balmer at CES and it's already been downloaded by many computer users. If you're running XP, it's important to note that upgrading from Windows XP is not supported. An upgrade from Vista SP1 to Windows 7 is supported - but we don't recommend it.

The best option is always to do a clean installation, and since this is beta software, we recommend that you either install Windows 7 on a separate partition so you can dual boot it with your current operating system (leaving the current XP or Vista OS intact), or install it in a virtual machine that runs on top of your existing OS. Read more here:

For instructions on how to dual boot Windows 7 with XP or Vista, see this article:

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Disk Defragmenter doesn't work on XP computer

If you receive an error message or nothing happens when you try to defragment a disk using Windows Disk Defragmenter, it may be that the tool is not installed on your computer. Luckily, it's a simple fix, which you can find in KB article 922379 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

Your Uninstaller! 2008 - Gets Rid of Hard to Uninstall Programs and Their Traces!

Your Uninstaller! 2008 is more than just one of the industry's leading uninstaller software programs...it's the world's first smart Drag-and-Uninstall software. Using Your Uninstaller! is as easy as using the Windows Recycle Bin. Imagine...just a simple drag-drop and the program you don't want anymore will disappear from your computer along with everything it installed with it! Your Uninstaller! is completely user friendly. Your Uninstaller! is fast, safe, and extremely accurate in removing programs and unnecessary "junk" files. Also includes a startup manager, and several other useful features like saving and backing up your software registration codes so you can uninstall and re-install your applications and quickly find the codes. By uninstalling accumulated software you don't often use, you can help speed up your computer. The "Auto Fix" function searches for corrupted installs and attempts to fix them automatically. Helps gets rid of those hard to uninstall programs like screen savers and finds all associated files after a corrupt installation, and deletes all traces. This is one program you will want to keep on your PC and use often. Download the evaluation version now. WXPNews readers get a $6.00 immediate discount if you decide to buy.

 About WXPnews

What Our Lawyers Make Us Say
These documents are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Sunbelt Software on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Sunbelt must respond to changes in market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Sunbelt and Sunbelt cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.


This newsletter and website and may contain links to other websites with whom we have a business relationship. Sunbelt Software does not review or screen these sites, and we are not responsible or liable for their privacy or data security practices, or the content of these sites. Additionally, if you register with any of these sites, any information that you provide in the process of registration, such as your email address, credit card number or other personally identifiable information, will be transferred to these sites. For these reasons, you should be careful to review any privacy and data security policies posted on any of these sites before providing information to them.

The user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document. This document may be copied and distributed subject to the following conditions: 1) All text must be copied without modification and all pages must be included; 2) All copies must contain Sunbelt's copyright notice and any other notices provided therein; and 3) This document may not be distributed for profit. All trademarks acknowledged. Copyright Sunbelt Software, Inc. 1996-2009.

WXPnews Archives
Looking for a past issue? Missing an issue? Accidently deleted an issue? Trying to find that article that pointed you to that cool site? All our newsletters are archived and are searchable:

About Your Subscription to WXPnews
This is a posting from WXPnews. You are subscribed as cpedley.killcomputer@blogger.com.
To manage your profile, please visit our site by clicking on the following link:

If you have feedback or wish to write to the editor, write to us at feedback@wxpnews.com

Sunbelt Software
33 North Garden Avenue
Clearwater, Florida USA 33755

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for understanding that we need to prevent the nasties.

Terms of Use

Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.