Monday, January 19, 2009

Is Technology Making You Fat?

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Vol. 8, #54 - Jan 20, 2009 - Issue #362

 Is Technology Making You Fat?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Is Technology Making You Fat?
    • Follow-up: Future tech at CES
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Car computers to run XP
    • Xbox 360 outsells Playstation 3
    • Naming .zip files in XP
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to fix browser redirection problems
  5. XP Security News
    • Watch out for that Worm: Conflicker is alive and well despite patch
  6. XP Question Corner
    • Vista and XP playing together
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Hide drives in Windows Explorer
    • Option to change wallpaper is missing or unavailable
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • Advanced System Optimizer V2: Easiest way to keep your PC running smooth and error free

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

Is Technology Making You Fat?

Unless you've boycotted all news outlets for the last few years, you've probably heard that childhood obesity has become an "epidemic" in the U.S. This is not the time nor place to argue over the definition of epidemic or discuss the difference between a disease and a condition, but suffice it to say that both the numbers and percentages of overweight kids (and grownups) are rising. According to the CDC, over 16% of adolescents and children in the United States are considered obese based on body mass index (BMI) scores. For adults, it's more than 30%. This represents a large increase over the last twenty years:

Why are we gaining all this weight? Various theories have been offered, but one of the most prevalent is that we aren't necessarily eating a lot more, or even eating more of the wrong foods; the big problem is that we're getting much less exercise. And if we think about why our children are less active than we were as kids (and why we're less active than our parents were), it's hard to avoid the conclusion that technology has something to do with it.

Many of us spend most of our time sitting in front of a computer all day. That's what I've been doing for a living for more than a decade, and I'm certainly not as svelte as I was back when I was doing police defensive tactics training every day. When business is good, it's hard to find the time to exercise, so whatever food we do eat turns to fat.

But it's not just our jobs that are to blame. Leisure activities today seem to put much more emphasis on the "leisure" and much less on the "activity" than they did years ago. Sitting (or lying!) on the sofa while watching TV doesn't do much for your health - especially if you're being constantly bombarded by food commercials that entice you to head for the kitchen every half hour for a "little" snack to enhance your viewing pleasure. Media Centers and home theaters and awesome lifelike HD technology is great, but if it keeps you on that couch every evening, you may end up with fewer years to enjoy it.

Technology has made our lives so much easier. I remember when my mom had to hang clothes out in the sun to dry. Today not only do we not have the time to do that, but in many cities, ordinances and homeowners' association rules won't even allow you to have an outdoor clothesline if you wanted one. Not that many of us want one. It's far easier to throw those wet clothes in the dryer - but then you miss out on the health benefits of all that lifting and carrying and bending and standing. The same thing happens with dishwashers, microwave ovens, garage door openers and all the other electronic gadgets that do for us what we used to expend physical energy doing. There are even robotic vacuum cleaners that dutifully scoot around the room and clean it without your help. And it's not just housewives whose lifestyles have changed. Remember when the man of the house used to spend the weekend pushing a lawnmower? Now he can sit atop a riding model and let it do the hard work - or if he has a few more bucks, he can buy a robotic lawn mower that works a lot like that robotic vacuum cleaner:

To counter the effects of this reduction in the need to do physical labor, we use the time that the technology saves us to go to the gym, jog in the park or become a slave to the exercycle, Stairmaster, treadmill or elliptical machine. Many of us spend hundreds or thousands of dollars per year on fitness club memberships, equipment or even personal trainers - yet we can't seem to accomplish what came naturally to previous generations, without spending an extra dime.

As for the kids, they're video game whizzes but many of them never get out of the house to run and play like we did back in the "olden days." That's not entirely their faults; many parents today are scared to let their children walk to school or ride their bikes around the neighborhood, lest the kids be abducted by pedophiles. Modern technology, in the form of twenty-four hour cable news networks and Internet news sites, has made us all much more aware of the possibilities, in many cases to the point of paranoia. So the kids stay in and watch TV and play World of Warcraft and update their MySpace pages - and may end up being exposed to far more dangerous criminals online than they would ever run across in their suburban subdivisions. And while they chat and surf the web and rack up points on their favorite game sites, they're munching on chips and pizza and piling on the pounds.

If technology created (or at least exacerbated) this problem, can technology help to solve it? The surprise best seller in the game console industry is the Nintendo Wii, and one of its big selling points is its new form of player interaction. The Wii was the first gaming unit to really take advantage of technology that can detect movement in three dimensions, allowing players to control their on-screen avatars by actually getting up and moving, rather than just manipulating a hand held controller.

Nintendo has been making home video game equipment since the 1970s and had much success with early systems, as well as the portable Gameboy. The company had taken a bit of a backseat in recent years, as Sony's Playstation and Microsoft's Xbox gained market share, but the Wii brought Nintendo back with a bang. An unexpected audience for the Wii turned out to be senior citizens:

Children, seniors and many folks in between are discovering a way to play tennis, golf, bowl, box, play baseball and otherwise get active in the safety of their homes without greens fees, club memberships or trips to the park. Wii Fit is a game that's specifically devoted to different types of exercises (Yoga, balance games, strength training and aerobics):

Every year at this time, one of the most common New Year's resolutions is to lose weight. Just getting up off our behinds and getting active will go a long way toward attaining that goal, but if you want to count calories, too, you can put technology to work for you there as well. There are numerous software programs that will help you calculate the calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein in your meals, keep track of the totals and give you incentives to stay on your diet. Some of the diet management programs are very simple and some are complex; some programs are free and others are commercial products. A simple search for "diet software" will turn up hundreds of results. Of course, before making any drastic changes to your diet or undertaking a new exercise program, you should check with your doctor first and start out slowly.

Like many other folks, I'm ready to get back in shape in 2009, and instead of sitting around and blaming my computer and TV and time-saving appliances for my weight gain, I intend to use technology to help reverse the process. I've found a diet management application for my Windows Mobile phone that I can use to keep track of what I'm eating and the nutritional value of my food, no matter where I am. I'm going to utilize our great new TV as a way to make exercise less boring, instead of an opportunity to sit idle. I'm even thinking about buying a Wii. Of course, some of my plans don't rely on technology so much. I plan to spend more time in the pool this year (swimming, not just soaking), take more walks along the lakefront, park a little further back toward the back of the parking lot, and take the stairs a bit more often instead of the elevator.

How about you? Do you think technology has made you gain weight or become less fit? Do your kids engage in less physical activity than you did at the same age? Have you ever tried using diet management software to lose weight? Have you tried or considered trying the Wii or other games because of the purported fitness benefits? Let us know your opinions and experiences at

Follow-up: Future tech at CES

In last week's editorial, I did my obligatory annual review of some of the new tech toys that were on display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. Whether or not I'm able to be on site, I always keep close tabs on what companies are showing off there, because experience has proven that we're always sure to see many of those devices on the market soon.

Many of you responded to the reports of all the new automotive gadgets. Some were enthusiastic, but many voiced more than a hint of disapproval. Parker A. wrote: "While the legal responsibility may lie with the driver, perhaps the State and Federal Governments should also take some responsibility for even allowing some of these items to be sold, knowing that they will have a very high probability of being "mis-used" ... Just because there is not a law written that specifically makes something illegal does not absolve the maker from having any responsibility. There is a moral and ethical responsibility that manufacturer's have, and frequently the courts agree - when the injured party can afford a better lawyer. Just because it can be done doesn't mean that it should be done."

On the other hand, Tom P., who got the opportunity to attend CES this year, noted that "The hall with all the auto stuff seemed to [have] the happiest lot of folks in it. All this tv and audio stuff that can be crammed into a vehicle."

Ty S. said, "I did not see anything in your review of the Las Vegas Computer Electronics Show offerings about car audio. After all, listening to music while driving is the most common thing people do while driving isn't it? Also, listening to music while driving is not life threateningly distracting like using a phone while driving or - gasp! - watching video while driving. Hardware offerings for playing digital music files while driving are weak at best. Why can't something beyond an mp3 player or silly iPod be used to play digital music in the car?" In fact, there were some new things in the automotive audio arena at CES. One that got a bit of press was the first in-dash Internet Radio receiver:

Some of you wrote about the devices that weren't being talked about, but that you would like to see. John G. suggested: "Gadget that wasn't there (I presume, since I've seen no mention of them anywhere): netbook with optical drive. I'm sure it ought to be possible (even if it has to operate in the popped-out position). The netbooks are a practical computer (more highly specified than some laptops of a year or two ago, with 1.6 GHz, 1G, 80 or 12G, and 1024×600), but the need to use an extra optical drive for them defeats the object (or reduces the versatility)." This is something that's been mentioned often; in fact, the popularity of netbooks is apparently driving up the demand of USB optical drives:

And Mike P. wrote, "The device I'm most interested in from CES wasn't listed, but it's something I'm looking forward to. Dish Network is coming out with a HD DVR that has a SlingBox built into it. It's supposed to be available this spring for only $199. It provides full access to all DVR content from any internet connected pc, including mobile phones." We get that same functionality with our Media Center PC using Orb, a program that allows us to access recorded TV shows or live TV, as well as music and other media, through the Media Center from any other computer on the home network or across the Internet and from our Windows Mobile phones. It's a great program for accessing your media remotely and best of all (unlike Slingbox), Orb is free. Check it out at:

Kenneth F. said, "Those tiny portable computers, such as the Sony ones you mentioned or the HP one with the ten-inch screen don't attract me at all. What good is a screen with icons and text on it that are too small to see clearly and therefore to use? I'm glad I bought a portable computer with a fourteen- inch screen. It's useful ... My general comment: Just because one can do something is not any evidence that one ought to do it." I completely agree with that last sentence, however, I also subscribe to another philosophy: Just because something doesn't work for me doesn't mean that it won't work great for someone else. I love my tiny Sony and I think it's wonderful that we have so many different choices because one size definitely does not fit all.
Thanks to all of you who wrote on this topic.

'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

There are more overweight people in America than average weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you've met your New Year's resolution. - Jay Leno

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing. - Red Foxx

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your PC. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example; Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, The Sunbelt Personal Firewall looks carefully at the data leaving your computer, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, phone numbers, and social security number do not get stolen by hackers!

 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

Car computers to run XP

Want your car to run Windows XP? A company called LXE has announced two new vehicle mounted computers with touchscreen displays that run the Embedded version of XP. Unfortunately, you can't order a new Ford Mustang with one. Instead, they're designed to be used in emergency services vehicles, fork lift trucks, container handling machinery and other commercial equipment. Oh, well. It was a nice thought. You can read more about it here:

Xbox 360 outsells Playstation 3

Once upon a time, Sony's Playstation was the gaming console to have. Now, according to recent reports, Microsoft's Xbox is outselling it (by a million units in Europe and 7 million in the U.S.). Of course, the Wii is beating both of them. Read more here:

Naming .zip files in XP

Want a quick and easy way to give .zip files the best name when you create them with the built-in .zip functionality in XP? There's a handy trick for determining what the default name of the .zip file will be. You can find out what it is at

 How To: Using XP Features

How to fix browser redirection problems

You type a URL into your web browser's address bar or your search engine's text box and end up on a different web site than you expected. What's up with that? On our main Media Center PC, we discovered that entering "" took us not to the usual NBC home page but to "," the version of the site made for smart phones and other mobile devices. Then my friend Pete contacted me last week because when he typed a search term in Google, it was taking him to redirecting him to, which only displayed advertising sites. Not being able to get to the NBC site is somewhat annoying. Not being able to use Google could be downright disabling. Both of these problems were occurring in both IE and Firefox.

These are two different but similar problems, and some research turned up solutions to both. In Pete's case, it appears to be a piece of malware that was too new to be recognized by any of the AV and anti-spyware programs. Here's what's worked:
  1. Open Windows Explorer and click Tools | Folder Options
  2. Click View and in the Advanced Settings, make sure "Show hidden files, folders or drives" is selected.
  3. Also make sure Hide Protected Operating System Files is not selected. Windows will ask you if you're sure about this.
  4. Now navigate to the following location, where "drive letter" means the drive on which Windows is installed: \windows\system32
  5. Locate the file wdmaud.sys and right click it.
  6. Select Rename and rename it to wdmaudsys.old
Restart your web browser and this should fix the problem. There is also a tool available at

that addresses this problem if you're squeamish about doing it manually.

The NBC problem proved a little more mysterious. I found a workaround: instead of entering "" as the hyperlink, type "" and that will take you to the regular NBC home page. There is also a registry edit that you can try. You can find it at

 XP Security News

Watch out for that Worm: Conflicker is alive and well despite patch

The Conflicker worm (also called Downadup by some anti-virus vendors) is spreading quickly despite the fact that Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability back in October. Partly that's because many systems have remained unpatched, but it's also because the latest versions have ways of infecting systems that have already been patched. Estimates are that up to almost 9 million computers were infected over a four day period. Microsoft has added the worm to its Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), and there are other ways you can reduce your exposure. Find out more here:

 XP Question Corner

Vista and XP playing together

My question is this: Can XP Home computers connect to a Vista computer and be able to access shared folders and use the printer attached to the Vista computer? Thanks! - Bob

More and more people are running both XP and Vista on their home networks together. If you buy a new computer today, it will probably come with Vista installed, but you might have other systems still running XP. The short answer to Bob's question is "yes" - but there is a little bit of a trick to it.

The first step is to be sure Printer Sharing is enabled on the Vista computer. Click Start, right click Network and select Properties to open the Network and Sharing Center, then scroll down to the section labeled Sharing And Discovery and turn Printer Sharing on. Now under the Sharing and Discovery section, click "Show me all the shared network folders on this computer" and ensure that the printer is listed.

Here's the trick: the default workgroup name in Vista is WORKGROUP. On XP Home computers, the default workgroup name is MSHOME. Both computers should be members of the same workgroup to more easily share resources with one another. If your Vista computer is the new one, you can change its workgroup name by clicking Start | Control Panel | System and then Advanced System Settings in the left pane. On the Computer Name tab, click the Change button where it says "To rename this computer or change its domain or workgroup, click Change." Under the section labeled Member Of, select Workgroup and type in the name of the existing workgroup to which your XP computer belongs (alternatively, you can change the workgroup of the XP computer to match that of the Vista computer; what matters is that they both belong to the same workgroup).

Now you should be able to access the Vista printer from the XP computer. For lots more info on sharing in Vista, see

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Hide drives in Windows Explorer

If you don't want one or more of your drives to show up in Windows Explorer, My Computer and the Send To menu, there is a registry edit that you can use to hide the drives. This works for regular hard drives, removable drives and optical (CD/DVD) drives. Find out how to do it in KB article 555438 at

Option to change wallpaper is missing or unavailable

Want to change your desktop wallpaper, but finding that the option to do so in the Display Properties dialog box on your XP computer is not there, or grayed out? This can happen if a registry key is set to hide or lock the display settings. Did you say you never changed such a setting and nobody else uses your computer? Well, it can be done by malware, too. To find out how to fix the problem, see KB article 921049 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

Advanced System Optimizer V2: Easiest way to keep your PC running smooth and error free

The new Advanced System Optimizer V2 is optimized and upgraded for today's newer PC's. It Includes 30+ tools to supercharge your PC performance. It comes along with Windows and Memory Optimizers, Icon Manager, Tools to beautify Windows, and many other utilities. It is "Wizard" based and "Easy to Use", for the home and expert users alike. This is a COMPLETE SUITE to maintain your system, RECOMMENDED by most Online Magazines. If your PC is slow and your considering upgrading try this utility before you UPGRADE your PC. WXPNews readers get an exclusive $10.00 off. Download the free evaluation now.

 About WXPnews

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