Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Venturing into the Cloud - A Little Bit at a Time

Published by Sunbelt Software Manage Your Profile Privacy Policy
Vol. 2, # 56 - Jan 29, 2009 - Issue # 65 
 Venturing into the Cloud - A Little Bit at a Time

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Venturing into the Cloud - A Little Bit at a Time
    • Follow-up: Netbooks, Notebooks, Not Books
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Vista SP2 falls behind schedule
    • IE 8 RC1 is ready for download
    • Don't want IE 8? Get the IE 8 Blocker Toolkit
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to be sure you're seeing the real WEI
    • How to block the screen saver when using WMP
  5. Vista Security
    • Washington Post recommends security through obscurity
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • Can I make Vista stop alphabetizing my programs?
  7. Windows 7 Corner
    • Bitlocker got better
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • Second Copy: Saves Your Data So You Can "Forget About It!"

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 took only 28% as long as AVG doing the deep scan. VIPRE takes only 38% of the CPU compared to AVG, and AVG takes 1.5 times 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

Venturing into the Cloud - A Little Bit at a Time

Well known tech commentators such as Paul Thurrott may be enamored with "the cloud" - the concept of running applications as services over the Internet and storing data on remote servers somewhere "out there" - but previous input from our WXPnews and VistaNews readers shows the overwhelming majority to be resistant to the idea. You say you don't trust the cloud and don't want to be dependent on an Internet connection in order to get things done.

You certainly have good reason to feel that way. Long before the terminology stuck, hundreds or thousands of "cloud" based services were appearing on the 'Net, offering users a way to back up their data to someone else's server, to store their documents somewhere on the Internet, to run applications in their browsers without actually installing software on their computers. These services get a lot of press in the beginning, and then what happens to them? Many of them seem to just fade away.

More recently, Windows Live Mesh started out with a big bang, but I don't hear so much talk about anyone using it now. Google apps gets a lot of press, but I don't know of any power user who is using it exclusively instead of local copies of Microsoft Office or OpenOffice programs. One frequently expressed suspicion of the cloud computing concept is that the companies offering these services are a little like schoolyard drug dealers. The first ones are free, but once they get you hooked (that is, once the cloud replaces desktop applications completely), then they'll start charging you for the service and you'll have to keep paying and paying and paying to use your computer productively.

Folks don't like that idea. They know that technically, they don't "own" the software they buy in a box or download from a vendor's web site, but they feel comfortable in the knowledge that after they pay a one-time licensing fee, they can use that program for as long as they want without paying more - at least until they change operating systems or hardware. The notable exception is antivirus and other anti-malware programs, but the rationale there is that you aren't paying a subscription fee for use of the program itself, but for the new definitions that it has to download on a regular basis.

Most of the individual computer users I've talked to about this say that even if the overall cost turns out to be lower, they want to pay for their software up front instead of via a monthly or annual subscription. They absolutely hate the idea that if they stop paying, their applications will stop working (or in the case of storage services, they might be locked out of their data). It's similar to the way most people would prefer to buy a car rather than leasing it; they like that feeling that it's theirs until they decide to get rid of it, that someone can't just take it away from them (although I guess in the case of most car buyers today, that's just an illusion because the vast majority of folks finance their vehicles rather than paying for them in full).

In the business world, the mindset is a little different. Companies don't have so much of a stake in ownership, and the bigger the company is, the more true that is. Enterprises look at the bottom line comparison: if they can save money and get the same functionality by leasing a car, a computer or an application, they'll go for it. And there are certainly advantages to doing it that way - for both companies and individuals. The hassle factor is reduced, at least in theory. In fact, that's probably more true for software than for those other items. Making sure the programs are updated and that they run right is somebody else's problem. After all, if you're a renter and your pipes burst, the landlord has to pay for fixing them. If you're a homeowner, you get the bill.

Still, when we pay for a software license up front, it's like a fixed rate mortgage: we know what the cost is for the lifetime of that product. Subscribing to a service is more like an ARM; it may look cheaper right now, but there's the uncertainty of not knowing whether that monthly fee will go up in the future. Way too many people recently got burned badly by adjustable rate loans; I'm not sure they're in the mood to gamble again.

But the biggest issue with the cloud isn't about cost, or at least it's not all about cost; it's about trust. Will the provider of the storage or application services go out of business, raise your rates, change the terms of service, fail to adequately secure your data so that it gets into the wrong hands? Those are the questions that will have to be answered to users' satisfaction before the cloud has a chance of penetrating the home and small business markets.

Meanwhile, even as we remain wary of the cloud, most of us are slowing moving into it - perhaps without even realizing it. I notice more and more people are using web mail such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! instead of POP accounts from their ISPs. In fact, in many cases they don't have a choice, but a growing number of ISPs are dropping their mail server services altogether and pointing their customers toward the free web services. Of course, unless you run your own Exchange server (or some other variety of mail server) onsite as we do - something that's certainly not typical - email has always been a cloud (remote) service.

We communicate using services such as Windows Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, Skype, etc. We share our documents through Windows Office Live or Skydrive or Google Docs or one of dozens of other collaboration services. We blog on Windows Live Spaces or Blogger or LiveJournal or We "microblog" on Twitter or Yammer or Flokio. We store and share photos on Flickr or Photobucket or and edit those pictures with Picasa or Picnik. Some of us even back up our files to Mozy or iDrive or Carbonite.

Like the frog in the pot of water as the temperature slowly rose, who didn't know he was boiling until it was too late, we're in the cloud whether we like it or not. Does that mean resistance is futile and a few years from now, local applications and storage will be a thing of the past? I don't think so. The cloud is a part of our computing lives, but I believe it will stay that way - only a part - for a long time to come. I don't think cloud computing will take the place of computing as we know it today, at least during my lifetime. Ultimately, the market still rules - and there are just too many people out there who want the cloud as a supplement to local computing, not as a replacement for it.

And a key component of the most popular web based services is that they're free. If that business model changes, I think you'll see much more resistance to the cloud. Tell us what you think. Do you use more cloud-based applications than you did a few years ago? Would you be willing to give up your local programs and use the cloud exclusively as long as the services don't cost you anything? Would you be willing to pay for cloud services if they cost only half as much over the long term as buying applications or do you prefer a fixed, known price even if it's higher? Do you think younger folks are more amenable to the cloud than older people? Will the cloud replace local applications completely in the next few years? Let us know your opinions at

Follow-up: Netbooks, Notebooks, Not Books

In last week's editorial, I addressed some recent speculation in the tech press that the whole netbook craze is already over - even though the little, low powered portables were the overwhelming best sellers in the personal computing world in 2008. Lots of you wrote to give your opinions on that subject.

One reader, who didn't give a name, wrote: "You ask if the netbook craze is over? I don't think so. I think ultraportability is here to stay. Netbooks are designed for portability and inconveniences of web surfing, chatting, and email. Most people don't design rocketships with their PC's ... Netbooks was the 1st item listed of the top 10 game changers of 2008 from a major technology media site."

Laurence W. likes his netbook: "In September I bought a basic Dell Mini-9. It's faster than I expected. Screen legibility is good ... The Mini-9 is fully functional for my travel needs. My CD requirements can be met at home with one of the networked PC's. The Mini-9 has a SD card slot so that we can review trip photos or show friends pictures from home as we visit. I love the small form." And David T. notes that "The netbook boots up in 1/10 the time it takes me to boot my laptop, too... and costs 1/12 the price of my laptop."

Jim R. had this to say: "I bought a netbook for my wife who uses XP all day at work, and does not like computers like her husband does (!). She does need to check email and surf the net sometimes and a netbook is perfect for her. If she needs a powerful machine, we have one upstairs. She loves the convenience of the netbook, and the weight is good for her too. I have heard tech podcasts that talk about how the netbook is all about price, but I don't agree at all. For her, it is the form factor."

Rob R. did it this way: "I finally purchased a netbook a few weeks ago (from Circuit City, just before they decided to liquidate their inventory. Rats!) and immediately wiped out the XP partition and installed the Windows 7 beta. It runs like a dream, and the Lenovo S10 model is quite solid in feel, unlike a number of the competing models."

Some of you aren't as enthusiastic. Richard P. commented: "As for me, I cannot see any reason for my having a netbook no matter how "cool" it would be as the size of inbuilt (RAM and HDD) storage is very limited." And Bob D. said, "The netbooks are kinda attractive, but with the only option of Windows XP, no way! Why on earth would someone run an 8 year old o/s?" The good news is that Windows 7 is designed with netbooks in mind, so all you have to do is wait a few more months and you can have the advantages of network along with the latest operating system.

And Daniel E. asks, "Why pay $450 for a netbook when you can score a notebook with an Intel 2G CPU, 3GB ram, Vista Home Premium, DVD burner, 160 to 250 G hard drive, 15 in screen, and more for under $500?" And Dan S. said, "It's funny how people worry so much about a few pounds of weight and form factor. If you can't stuff your laptop into your carry-on bag, get a bigger bag and enjoy the horsepower and view/form fact/typing/comfort of a real machine. Either that, or lighten up on your junk that you're toating. Skimping on your computer will eventually come with a price of its own."

Who knows? Maybe the whole netbook craze was all my fault. Tom C. wrote: "I'm a happy netbook user. My first netbook was an experiment: did Deb Schinder [sic] know what she was talking about? Could the Eee turn out to be useful? Could I mail-order a machine I had never seen and be happy with it? Did I trust the author of WinXPNews and VistaNews this far, even though she *liked* Vista? ... Yes." Ah, well. I'll take the blame if I must.

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 for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

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

Quotes of the Week

Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks. - Doug Larson

You can't turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again. - Bonnie Prudden

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


Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

Backups? We don't need no stinking backups! Synchronization isn't anything like backing up, it's better! Easy too!

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to legitimate software that runs all day. Why? To get your speed back!

One easy to remember password gives automatic access to all my online passwords and usernames. I love the autofill feature.

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Vista SP2 falls behind schedule

If you've been anxiously awaiting Vista Service Pack 2, it looks as if you're going to have to wait a little longer. Microsoft has pushed back the release date for the next service pack, so it will probably ship in May or June. An interesting side note is that apparently OEMs won't be required to ship their systems with the new build once it's released, nor will they be required to send customers the SP2 upgrades. Of course, the service pack will be downloadable free of charge from the Microsoft web site when it's finally ready. Read more here:

IE 8 RC1 is ready for download

If you don't like to install beta software and you've been waiting for the release candidate to try Internet Explorer 8, your time has come. RC 1, which can be installed on Vista SP1 or XP SP3, is now available to download. For me, the betas have been remarkably stable (more so than IE 7 ever was in final form) so I expect no problems with the RC. The release candidate is the finished product, so what you see here is what you'll get in the final release version. Read more about it here:

Also note that IE 8 RC1 will not work on Windows 7, so if you're using the beta, don't try to install it (and there's no need to; you already have the latest version of IE 8 that comes with the OS):

Don't want IE 8? Get the IE 8 Blocker Toolkit

Having used both versions of the browser extensively, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to upgrade IE 7 to IE 8 the minute the latter goes final (if not before) - but if you don't, and don't want to turn off automatic updates, you can use the IE 8 Blocker tool from Microsoft to prevent it from installing automatically when it becomes available on Windows Update. This tool is used primarily by network administrators in large companies, but individual computer users can use it, too. Read more about it here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to be sure you're seeing the real WEI

Did you know it's possible to hack your WEI (Windows Experience Index) score? Well, it is. This web site tells how:

That's all well and good if you want to up your score for fun to show to your friends, but it also means that when you check the WEI on computers for sale, you might not be getting the real deal. This is unlikely if you're buying from a big box store where none of the sales people really know much about computers, but it's a possibility if you're buying from a small shop where those who work there are technically savvy. Open the Performance Information and Tools utility and click "Update my score" to re-run the benchmarking component.

How to block the screen saver when using WMP

Have you ever been watching a video in Windows Media Player and the computer thinks its idle and turns on the screen saver? Here's how to fix that:
  1. With WMP open, right click the toolbar to bring up the menu
  2. Click Tools | Options
  3. In the Player tab, uncheck the box that says "Allow screensaver during playback."

Vista Security

Washington Post recommends security through obscurity

An article this week in the Washington Post implies that you can "secure" your wireless network by simply turning off SSID broadcasting to make your network "invisible" to others. In the security industry, we call that "security through obscurity."

Now, it's okay to do this, just as it's fine to lock the cheap builder lock on your front door that can be easily picked by anybody with a credit card - but most people these days don't rely solely on that lock, especially if they have things inside the house that are valuable. You'd lock that lock and install a deadbolt and maybe even an alarm system to provide some heavier duty security, right? Yet the author of this article poo-poos real security measures like WPA encryption.

The problem with turning off SSID broadcasting is that it doesn't really hide your network at all. In fact, there are free tools that can identify non broadcasting networks as easily as a credit card can open that cheap lock. And even worse, your wireless client (your laptop computer) that's configured to connect to your non broadcasting network may be disclosing its SSID to the world. See this:

Vista Question Corner

Can I make Vista stop alphabetizing my programs?

Your site has been such a help over the years both XP and Vista. Hoping you can help with this. Is there any way to keep vista from auto alphabetically sorting the Start, Program Menu in Classic mode? - Bill & Esther

As you have probably discovered, it's easy to prevent automatic alphabetical sorting when you use the Standard Vista mode Start menu: just right click the Start Menu, choose Properties, click the Start Menu tab, and the Customize button. Scroll down and uncheck the option to "Sort All Programs menu by name."

Unfortunately, when you use the Classic (XP look) Start menu, your customization options are much more limited. One workaround might be to pin your favorite programs to the top of the Start menu. The pinned programs appear in the order in which you pin them. If you haven't given the Vista Start Menu a try, I'd urge you to do so. It's quite a bit more functional than the Classic Start Menu, in my opinion.

Windows 7 Corner

Quite a few of you wrote to say that you're now running Windows 7 as your main OS (so am I!) and asked that we include a "Win7 Corner" until such time as a Windows 7 newsletter becomes a reality. So each week I'll include news or a tip here about the beta.

Bitlocker got better

If you never used BitLocker in Vista, you're not alone. It was a good idea, but not necessarily that useful, especially for desktop systems. Well, Windows 7 brings us a few feature called BitLocker To Go, which greatly increases its appeal. Now you can encrypt your USB thumb drive or other removable storage device. Read the details in my blog post at

Fav Links

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

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

Product of the Week

Second Copy: Saves Your Data So You Can "Forget About It!"

Second Copy(r) is the perfect automatic backup software designed for all versions of Windows, including 9x/Me/NT4/2000/XP/2003/Vista. Take the worry out of losing your data. Like your own personal secretary, Second Copy(r) maintains updated copies of all your important data. Don't lose your favorite photos, files and financial information forever. As it runs in the background, Second Copy helps you "forget about it" until it saves your butt! Second Copy will automatically backup your data files to any local fixed or removable disks, zip drives, CD-RW's, DVD's, as well as on storage devices on other computers across a network. It monitors source files and keeps the backup updated with new or changed files. Once set up, you will always have a backup of your important data safely stored somewhere else. Download a copy for evaluation now.

 About VistaNews

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.

VistaNews 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 VistaNews
This is a posting from VistaNews. You are subscribed as
Your personal VSN Number is: O52HI2

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

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.