Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Death of the PC As We Know It?

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Vol. 3, # 70 - May 7, 2009 - Issue # 79 
 The Death of the PC As We Know It?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • The Death of the PC As We Know It?
    • Follow-up: New Storage Technologies
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • How long will Vista live?
    • Vista SP2 goes RTM
    • Should Microsoft buy Twitter?
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to use the snipping tool to capture the Start menu
  5. Vista Security
    • Adobe Zero-Day Vulnerability to be patched by next Tuesday
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • How do I use Vista's Remote Desktop over the Internet?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Administrator providing remote assistance gets a black screen
    • Aero disappears when you run a Java program
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • F-Secure claims Windows 7 vulnerability that isn't really
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • CyberScrub Privacy Suite: Completely Erase Evidence of All Internet/Computer Activity & Encrypt Data

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200!

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

Editor's Corner

The Death of the PC As We Know It?

You've all heard the discussions about the popularity of netbooks, along with the predictions that computer applications and storage are going to move into the cloud. There are many companies that have a stake in both of those trends and are pushing them hard. What's implicit in this - but never talked about much - is the assumption that the PC as we know it is going away. But is that really going to happen?

To hear the IT pundits talk, the death of the "fat client" is right around the corner. Soon we'll all be using cheap, low powered portable computers that are only a little more than dumb terminals for all our needs, because the processing will all be done on some remote server "out there" somewhere on the 'net. Back in January, PC World published this article titled "Netbook popularity reshapes tech sector," which notes that sales of standard PCs dropped significantly in the latter part of 2008 as the netbook craze took hold:

Some say the recession is a factor in the move toward netbooks. With these little computers available for as little as $299, they certainly look attractive to those who might not be able to afford full-fledged compact notebooks that are often priced at $1000 or more. But software developers are already looking at the challenges that the netbook trend brings for them, since the lower cost versions come with fairly wimpy processing power and not much memory, and many can't be upgraded easily, if at all.

The chief executive of Nvidia was quoted as saying, earlier this year, that "the era of the perfect Internet computer for $99 is coming this year" and that "the primary computer that we know of today is the basic PC, and it's dying to be reinvented."

But is this really what the PC and its users are dying for? There is unquestionably a market for these little guys. I have one myself, although I have to admit that I don't use it much. It turned out to be cool in concept, but not as great when it comes to usability. For checking email or surfing the web, it works. But there's just not enough RAM, not enough storage space, not enough screen resolution, not enough of anything to get real work done.

And I believe there are still a lot of folks out there who use their computers to get work done: to crunch numbers, to put together presentations, to engage in intensive research projects that require you to have many applications running simultaneously. Just based on the large number of readers who recently responded positively to a discussion of multiple monitors, it's obvious that many computer users would not be happy with the limitations of having a netbook as their only computer.

It's not just the business-minded who need high-end processing power, either. Gamers run some of the most resource-hungry programs of all, just for fun. Netbooks certainly can't satisfy their needs.

Who's buying all these netbooks, then? Are they being purchased by people who otherwise wouldn't have a computer at all? Are they being bought as secondary (or in my case, "thirdary") machines to be used only in certain situations when the user's regular laptop is too big or heavy to take along? Or are they really replacing traditional desktop and laptop PCs? And if the market for high powered PCs becomes just a small niche market, what will that do to the prices of those machines? If vendors are busy cranking out netbooks and are no longing making "real" computers in large volumes, will the cost skyrocket for those of us who still want or need them?

As for me, you'll take my big, heavy, expensive, powerful desktop away when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. What about you? Is a netbook enough? Do you look forward to the day when the $99 computer reigns? Or are you looking forward instead to a 4.0 GHz eight-core desktop powerhouse with 24 GB of RAM? Let us know where you stand on the death of the PC as we know it; write to

Follow-up: New Storage Technologies

Last week, we discussed GE's recently announced "breakthrough" that will reportedly allow them to make 500 GB optical discs, and the pronouncement by some in the industry that it's too late for such technologies, because we're all going to stream everything over the Internet and won't need high capacity storage media.

Gary F. (along with several others) pointed out that we were once told something else was going to be "unneeded" soon: paper. And look how that's worked out: "Computers were going to usher in the "paperless office". We generate more paper now because we can generate data we never knew we needed before (and probably really don't). There will always be a need for storage media."

And the Rev. J.T. wrote: "I rather like having my private collection of DVDs, VHS tapes (yes, I still have several, and a couple of players that can play them), CDs, audio cassettes, and paperback books. I can pick and choose what I want to watch and when, I don't have to run a search through the Net when I want to remember what one of my DVDs is about if I haven't watched it in ages and I'm drawing a blank. And, I can take whatever I want with me without EVER having to be connected to the Net. The Net has its place for me, but getting my media isn't it."

And Hugh said, "When I think of a disc holding 500 gb I am really enthused. To be able to completely restore a computer to any given configuration complete with all files and programs would simply be wonderful and unless the cost is prohibitive I would back up my entire system on a monthly basis."

Don S. thinks we'll always need large capacity personal media. He said, "I too have gone through the media changes from 8" disks to the flash drives and recordable media. I find that the need has only gone to larger media since we all generate more data. For example, the amount of records one must have readily available to utilize in case of IRS audit or tax preparation. I don't think I want to depend on getting to the web for information like that at stressful times and then find out the web went down."

Daniel R. agrees: "Once the end-user, be it a home or business user, has the opportunity to store more data at their desktop, they will jump on this new storage medium in a heartbeat. Why? Because when the end-user knows that they can do it, they will! Will we still have 'streaming' over the Net. Of course. But now the end-user will be able put an entire season, or seasons, of a television series on just one CD. Why would they want to do that? So they can watch whatever episode at their leisure."

Kenneth F. said, "I definitely agree with you that streaming will not do away with physical storage media. For me, the thought of being unable to view or modify my data unless connected to the Internet is nightmarish. I bought a portable computer in order to be untied to any connection, whether by wire or radio, and still be able to write. If I go on a camping vacation, and I take photos on that vacation, I may need to transfer the photos to a DVD, so that my portable computer's hard drive does not become filled up with the photos. The notion of needing to store all things on-line is the notion of being tied to a connection all the time."

Many of you pointed out that the new trend toward bandwidth caps will keep technologies such as high capacity discs alive. Mike H. wrote: "My ISP charges for bandwidth over 25 GB per month, and more ISPs are putting restrictions on bandwidth use. That and the physical limitations of streaming everything to every home means we'll need local storage for quite a while yet."

And finally, Norman P. brought up this very good point: "Stone tablets and the dead sea scrolls survive thousands of years. What is the life expectancy of any of the media mentioned. More important what is it's technical life span. We recently cleaned out a drawer with dozens of tape modules. There was not one computer in our whole shop that had either the hardware or the software to read them. Our only hope was that the data had migrated to newer media, or that it was totally irrelevant."

Thanks to all who wrote to comment 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

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. - Albert Einstein

Energy and persistence conquer all things. - Benjamin Franklin

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 computer. 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, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better

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

Why backup when you can syncronize? Synconizations is easier and faster than backing up. Try it!

I need a program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info, personal info - not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

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

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

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 run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

How long will Vista live?

Now that the public release candidate of Windows 7 is out and with the final release expected later this year or early next year, some folks are wondering if this spells the demise of Vista. Sure, XP is still hanging on after all these years, but will Vista live that long? Maybe, maybe not. One thing we do know: Microsoft has said they will keep selling Vista to consumers, computer makers and system builders at least until January 2011. You can read more about it here:

Vista SP2 goes RTM

We've been looking for the final release of Service Pack 2 for Vista for quite a while now. Last week, Microsoft announced that they've released SP2 to manufacturing and expect it to be ready to distribute to the public sometime in the second quarter of this year. There are a number of fixes and added functionality in the service pack, including ability to record to Blu-ray natively, an updated Windows Search and easier wireless configuration. Find out more here:

Should Microsoft buy Twitter?

The tech industry followed the back-and-forth between Microsoft and Yahoo for months and it appears a deal is finally going to be made, but now Nicholas Carlson over on Silicon Alley Insider says Microsoft should now cough up $800 million or more to buy Twitter. How well would that go over at time when the company is laying off more employees? Is Twitter that hot, or is its glow beginning to fade? You can read his rationale at

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to use the snipping tool to capture the Start menu

The snipping tool is a great utility for capturing screenshots, but you might have noticed that if you want to capture the Start menu or a context menu, it's not so easy. When you open the snipping tool, the menu that you wanted to capture closes. Thanks to John Savill for the workaround to that:
  1. Open the snipping tool (Start | Programs | Accessories).
  2. Click Cancel or the Minimize button.
  3. Now open the menu you want to capture.
  4. Press Ctrl + PrtScn.
  5. Use the snipping tool's selector as usual to draw a box around the menu you want to capture.

Vista Security

Adobe Zero-Day Vulnerability to be patched by next Tuesday

Next Tuesday is Microsoft's regularly scheduled day for monthly security updates, but it's not just Microsoft patches you'll need to be applying. A new zero-day vulnerability has been discovered in Adobe Reader (versions 7.x, 8.x and 9.x for Windows as well as Mac and Linux versions) and Adobe has promised to issue a fix by next Tuesday. In the meantime, Adobe recommends disabling JavaScript to prevent an attack. Read more here:

Vista Question Corner

How do I use Vista's Remote Desktop over the Internet?

I'm told that there is a feature in Vista I can use to connect to my home computer from work (XP computer), like GoToMyPC but without paying a fee. Can you tell me how to do this? Thanks. - Jay K.

If you have Vista Business or Ultimate edition, it has the Remote Desktop service built in and you can use it to access your desktop from another location. By default, this feature is disabled so you need to go into Control Panel | System | Remote tab and click "Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop." If the account you'll use to connect is not an administrator account, you'll need to give it access to Remote Desktop by clicking Select Users and adding the account name.

Now you'll need to create a rule on your home network's router to forward port 3389 to the IP address of your Vista computer. See the router's manual to find out how to do that. Now from your work computer, you open the Remote Desktop client (this is included in both XP Home and Pro, although you're probably using Pro at work). In the configuration box, enter your public IP address that's assigned to your home router (you can find out what it is by going to a site such as from the home computer). Also enter your credentials.

If you have a Home version of Vista, you can use a third party program such as VNC or the free version of LogMeIn at

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Administrator providing remote assistance gets a black screen

The remote assistance feature in Vista is handy for helping other users across the LAN or across the Internet, but sometimes when an administrator tries to assist a standard (non-administrative) user in Vista, the session just shows a black screen. There's not much you can do with that, but it happens when you try to remotely run a program that requires elevated rights. For a workaround, see KB article 937803 at

Aero disappears when you run a Java program

If you run a Java application on Windows Vista and find that the "glass" effect or other aspects of Aero are disabled, it's probably because you're using an older version of Java Runtime Environment (JRE). This disables the Desktop Window Manager, which is what controls Aero effects. The solution is to download a newer version of JRE. Find out where to get it in KB article 934561 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

F-Secure claims Windows 7 vulnerability that isn't really

It's always easy to get lots of clicks if your headline proclaims a new security vulnerability in Windows, and an F-Secure blogger has been saying Windows 7's habit of hiding file extensions by default allows attackers to easily fool you into running an executable, and dozens of other sites have hopped on the bandwagon. I don't really like that feature myself (and always change the default as soon as I install the OS so I can see the extensions) but George Ou shows why this "vulnerability" really doesn't present that much of a threat in real life. See his counter argument 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

CyberScrub Privacy Suite: Completely Erase Evidence of All Internet/Computer Activity & Encrypt Data

A ZDNet Five-Star Editors Pick! CyberScrub Privacy Suite removes all evidence of your online activity, erases data beyond recovery, secures your files with strong encryption and enhances overall system performance. This award winning app sports over 50 new features and enhancements. Did you realize every picture or video viewed is written to your hard drive? Simply opening an email can put you in a compromising situation. Privacy Suite eliminates all web tracks (pictures, video, history, websites visited, cache and temp files, IM, chat, email, etc.), automatically removes newsgroup pictures and binaries, eliminates traces from popular Peer2Peer applications, Real and Windows Media Player, Photoshop and more. You can even create your own customized areas to clean. Remember- "Delete" does not mean "Erase". Deleted files can be retrieved using simple recovery tools. VistaNews readers get the 20% exclusive discount. Get the full story about its many features and download the free trial version now.

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