Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Green" Computing: What Does It Mean to You?

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 9, #73 - Jun 2, 2009 - Issue #381

 "Green" Computing: What Does It Mean to You?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • "Green" Computing: What Does It Mean to You?
    • Follow-up: A wireless future
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Be careful about entering your cell phone number on the 'Net
    • Asus and Microsoft gang up against Linux?
    • Why doesn't Microsoft back-port new security features?
    • Bing! Bing! Bing!
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to boot XP from a flash drive
    • How to integrate Twitter into Outlook
  5. XP Security News
    • DirectShow vulnerability in XP
  6. XP Question Corner
    • How can I get my program in the "open with" option?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • XP SP3 won't install
    • Can't install or copy data from CD
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • Disk Doctors Digital Media Recovery : Recover Lost and Deleted Photos, Music and Video!

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

"Green" Computing: What Does It Mean to You?

Today I'm going to venture out on a limb and talk about a controversial topic. Whether or not you subscribe to the theory that global warming/human-induced climate change is threatening to destroy the earth, the reality is that a majority of those who make the laws at the moment do. Thus we can expect to see more and more government regulations forcing companies to "go green."

There has been a lot of talk about impending standards for the automobile industry that will require cars to get 35.5 miles per gallon and are anticipated by the current administration to add at least $1300 to the cost of a vehicle. Some say that cost will be substantially higher. I serve on my city's bond committee and in researching the feasibility of replacing certain city facilities, I was recently told by city staff that building according to energy efficiency standards adds 5 to 15% to the construction cost. At the same time, many environmental groups claim that building "green" adds little or no cost and that, instead, you save money in the long run. No wonder there's so much confusion surrounding the subject.

One thing is certain: everybody is getting on the "green" bandwagon, whether enthusiastically or reluctantly. And that includes the companies that make computers, as well as those that provide the Internet infrastructure we all use to communicate. Newer systems are generally more energy efficient than older ones; for example, Intel's new "Nehalem" based processors are designed to save energy, with Xeon 5500 series servers achieving a 50% lower idle power consumption than its predecessors. Other components do their parts, as well; DDR3 RAM operates at a lower voltage and uses less power than DDR2, and Western Digital now makes a "green" series of its Caviar hard drives that have variable rotational speed to conserve energy:

When our computers use less power, it's good news for all of us. Whether or not you care about environmental issues, less energy means lower electric bills, and I don't know anyone who has a problem with that (other than maybe those who own a lot of stock in the power companies). Figuring out how much it costs to run your computer requires that you know how many watts it uses per hour, how many hours per day it runs, and how much you pay per kilowatt hour. According to many estimates, a typical computer that's on 24 hours per day uses from 100-200 watts (with a 17 inch LCD monitor), which costs an average of $100-200 per year. That might not sound like much in the greater scheme of things, but if your family has two home offices for mom and dad (each with a computer that runs constantly), two kids with computers in their rooms, a media center PC in the family room and maybe a home server, it can add up fast.

So I think we can all agree that reducing the power our computers use is a good thing. But what about other ramifications of the green movement? One issue that has started to come up is how to get rid of our old computers and other electronics without violating new environmental laws. You can't just throw them in the trash. There are recycling centers in many areas but in some communities, you actually have to pay a fee to use them. Some hardware vendors will take your old system when you buy a new one. I've found that one of the easiest ways to get rid of old computers and peripherals, working or not, is to put an ad on Craig's list. If it's free, there's probably someone out there who will take it. Remember to completely wipe (not just format) the hard drive before you give a computer away, or if it has very sensitive data on it, physically destroy it and let the recipient buy a new one.

Although computers use electricity, the increasing use of electronic documents instead of (rather than in addition to) printed ones has undoubtedly reduced the number of trees cut down to make paper. Many people now do all or most of their bill paying online and many writers create and submit their work electronically and never make hard copies.

A big question is how much "greenery" will lawmakers be forcing upon us in the future, and in what form? In many parts of the U.S., power companies are installing "smart meters" that are touted as a way for you to have more control over your energy usage. These are apparently already mandatory in the U.K. However, the technology also makes it possible for the power company to remotely control your electricity usage. That is, if they decide that you use "too much" electricity, they can throttle you back to "acceptable" levels.

What's the next step? In the U.K., it's been proposed that the government conduct home energy inspections. Every year or two, your house will be inspected just like your car is today, and if you fail the test, you might be denied insurance on your property or not be allowed to sell it.

And businesses can expect even stronger laws and regulations. A recent survey of European datacenter professionals indicated that they are very concerned about the impact of green regulations and how they are going to comply with the rules:

Of course, increased regulations cost companies money, too - and they almost always pass those higher costs on to consumers. That means that if the cost of operating a datacenter increases significantly, the price of the goods or services that company sells will probably go up, as well. What about the prices of the computers themselves? If the government gets in the act there, and mandates that computers use much less energy than they do now, it may have the same effect that fuel efficiency requirements are expected to have on car prices. Have we seen the end of the free fall in computer prices? Will they start to go up again if vendors are required to make their products more and more green?

What do you think about the "green" trend? Is all of this a small price to pay in order to save the planet? Or is it all much ado about nothing? Or worse, has "green" become a multi-billion dollar industry in and of itself that no longer cares as much about the environment as about generating a different kind of green? How do you separate the hype from what's real? You tell me, at feedback@wxpnews.com or discuss it with other readers in the forum at

Follow-up: A wireless future

In last week's editorial, I speculated on whether the day will come when "old fashioned" wired connections will be a thing of the past, and we'll all be doing all our data transmissions over the air. Most of you say no.

Raoul W. said, "I don't believe we can do away 100% of the wired network environment in our lifetime. The current wireless technology has too many limitations aside from speed. Penetration power is one. At an environment where concrete and metal walls are present, a wireless signal will be rendered useless (or very short distance requiring repeaters all over the place)."

Chris M. wrote, "Wireless is a great technology for coffee shops and home networks, but can you imagine trying to run a large office with many hundreds of PCs using wireless? Even if you could manage to configure all the WAPs to avoid frequency conflicts, wireless is intrinsically a shared medium, whereas we've been using switched Ethernet for decades. So although it may say on the WLAN box 'up to' 100Mbps (in reality we all know you'd be very lucky to get even half that rate), you have to share that bandwidth between all the users of each access point."

Rod G. noted that bandwidth isn't the only problem: "Trouble with wifi is reliability. I have tried it and despite the distance between computer and wireless router being only 8 feet, it kept dropping out. And in sure and certain adherence to Murphy's Law, it dropped out at the worst possible times. I soon reverted to cables. I know of small businesses who have had the same experience, and went back to cables."

And many of you mentioned the security problem. Fred R. said, "It is still far too easy to hack into consumer WiFi. The financial company I work for is constantly sending notes to remote sites warning them that unauthorized WiFi can lead to severe penalties. No one paid it any mind until a small office was hacked at their consumer grade wireless router and a forged check was issued for close to $100,000, the limit of senior VP approval. Of course it was caught and found to be a recently terminated employee, now looking at a serious felony trial."

Micah H. reworded the question to "Are we headed toward a wireless disaster?" and brought up possible medical implications: "Sure, wireless! There are too many humans as it is. May as well have one big cull from living in a virtual microwave oven where the kids don't grow right and we all suffer from cancer. This could be 'the straw'. Our whole system is a delicate biological electrical system... We are also Naturopaths and the one of the first things we have our patients do is remove the wi-fi from their houses and work if possible...It also has an effect on young children's growth. It inhibits their growth."

Most of the responses were more like those of Kenneth F., who said, "Well, my DSL modem includes a four-port switch and a wireless router, so I guess you could say that I do have some wireless stuff here, but I strongly prefer a wired connection for security, reliability, and freedom from dead batteries ... Maybe on vacations, I'll occasionally use the WiFi. Otherwise, I avoid wireless."

And Matthew S. pleads, "Please oh please don't let users think wireless speakers are a good option! Keep in mind, they will have to be plugged into the wall, and they usually aren't properly grounded! Audio quality greatly suffers! They are great for temporary placement in the kitchen or outdoors, but as a permanent solution? Wires will always be the way to go for audio!" Thanks for that input. As I haven't used them myself, I didn't know how well they worked.

Ken H. said, ""Wireless (the term is interesting....it was first used in the Marconi days to refer to radio, then fell out of use as being an 'old-fogey' term....now, computer geeks brought it back) is not the panacea most non- techies think. Oftentimes, its use is based on laziness, or the technical inability to drill a hole in a wall and pull a wire ... Wireless is often not needed.....many times, a computer does not move for months or years.....in most situations, it only takes a short time to connect things properly."

Not everybody is down on wireless, though. Martin C. said, "The truly exciting wireless future relates, as usual, to the applications that will change our lives; the applications that will improve our productivity and safety, that will educate us and entertain us, but most importantly that will revolutionize the practice of medicine. The excitement is in personal wireless communication because people are inherently mobile and there is no alternative to wireless for genuinely personal communication."

And Sara G. said, "I absolutely love my wireless mouse and keyboard and my laptop that I can take anywhere in the house and still get on the Internet. It might not be as fast as wires but it's fast enough for me and way better than being stuck at a desk every time I want to look up something on the web." Thanks to all of you who wrote on this subject!

'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

Look up the WXPnews Fan Page and join us on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is. - Chuck Reid

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three. - Alice Kahn

Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one's levels of aspiration and expectation. - Jack Nicklaus

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

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Never reinstall your XP again. New technology: no set-up, no loss of data or applications. The ultimate professional repair tool. Free PC booster with every scan, get it now!

Backblaze is the no fuss solution to getting all your data backed up online securely, easily, automatically, and for only $5/month for unlimited storage.

PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.

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

Vista gets bogged down very quickly! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

Backups? GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

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!

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Be careful about entering your cell phone number on the 'Net

I only give my cell phone number to a handful of people - my immediate family members, a couple of close friends and a couple of business associates - fewer than a dozen in all. And I never, ever, ever enter my cell number in any Internet form. Here's a recent message from a reader: "after reading this article it reminded me of something in the computer world that is going on currently and that is the use of a cell phone number when playing a game on the internet (specifically Facebook) an typing in your cell number to get your results texted to you. Not only did I play this game I was not pre warned on the computer screen that a monthly charge of $9.99 would apply to this particular instance, and being a newbie to my cell phone (and not a texting person) when I got my text message I didn't read anything past the results and there fore was surprised with a charge on my bill that I didn't understand how it got there until I asked Verizon what Premium Texting was. Boy did I feel duped by society....I now have learned what it is all about and have put a block on my phone to this type of thing, but am still very annoyed that my phone company allows this type of rip off to the consumer." Don't find out the hard way like she did.

Asus and Microsoft gang up against Linux?

The first EeePCs came with Linux installed but it's looking as if Asus is abandoning the Penguin in favor of Windows. They've joined forces with Microsoft to produce this video that proclaims "it's better with Windows."

Why doesn't Microsoft back-port new security features?

Some people have asked why, if security is so important, Microsoft doesn't take some of the technologies that make Vista and Windows 7 more secure and retrofit them to work in XP via a patch or service pack? Sometimes they do - but would users really react positively if they found a Windows update had installed User Account Control (UAC) on their XP computers? Read more about when security features should (and shouldn't) be back-ported to older operating systems.

Bing! Bing! Bing!

We reported last week that Microsoft was getting ready to unveil their new search engine. A few days later, I got invited to participate in the technical preview and I've been using it heavily. So far, I'm very pleased with what I've seen. Frankly, I expected the same old same old - but Bing! has some new and very useful features, such as the ability to preview info on a web page when you hover over the entry on the search page without clicking on the link and going to the site. I will be doing a full review in the next issue of our sister publication, VistaNews. Meanwhile, you can see a video demo here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to boot XP from a flash drive

Did you know that you can put a bootable copy of Windows XP on a USB flash drive? It comes in handy when a computer won't boot from its hard disk, or if you want to run your own operating system, configured as you like it, on someone else's computer. You'll need an XP Setup CD and a flash drive with sufficient capacity (I recommend 1 to 2 GB if you're going to install programs, too). The drive needs to be no larger than 2 GB because you'll be using the FAT16 file system. Also be aware that older computers may not boot from a removable drive.

You'll need a couple of freeware tools to get the job done. For complete instructions, along with screenshots, see "Windows in your Pocket":

How to integrate Twitter into Outlook

If you're a Twitter fan and you use Outlook for email, here's the perfect tool to let you tweet directly from Outlook and receive your friends' updates in your Inbox. You can search, manage and archive your tweets just like email messages. Formerly called OutTwit, it's been renamed to Twinbox. It works with XP or Vista and Outlook 2003 SP1 or later (not Outlook Express). Check it out here:

 XP Security News

DirectShow vulnerability in XP

Microsoft reported last week that a vulnerability in Windows XP (and also in Windows 2000 and Server 2003) can allow an attack to run code on your computer if you open a malicious QuickTime file. Computers running DirectX v. 7.0 through 9.0 are affected, but Vista/Win7 and Server 2008 are not. A patch is expected soon. Meanwhile, be careful about opening movie files. Read the security advisory here:

 XP Question Corner

How can I get my program in the "open with" option?

When I right click a picture file and click Open With, it gives me a list of programs but the one that I want to use (Irfanview) isn't in the list. I did the "Browse" thing and found the program file and tried to add it but it still doesn't show up in the list. Can you help? - Brian L.

There is a little utility called OpenWithAdd that can be used to register applications with the OpenWith function. It's a free download that you can get at

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

XP SP3 won't install

If you're just getting around to installing Service Pack 3 on your XP computer and you get an error message, it may be that your computer doesn't meet all the prerequisites for installation of the service pack. For instance, you can't start the installation on a laptop that's running on battery power. Believe me, this is for your own good. To see a list of common error messages and the causes and resolutions, see KB article 949388 at

Can't install or copy data from CD

If you try to install a program or copy data from a CD drive on your Windows XP computer and you get a message saying the request could not be performed because of an I/O error or that only part of a readprocessmemory or writeprocessmemory request was completed, there are several possible reasons for the error. Get troubleshooting tips for this problem in KB article 891894 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

Disk Doctors Digital Media Recovery : Recover Lost and Deleted Photos, Music and Video!

Have you ever lost or accidentally deleted your digital photos? Or how about your music playlists or a special once in a lifetime home video of family and friends and loved ones? You don't need to worry that they are lost forever, you need Photo Recovery/Digital Media Recovery from Disk Doctors. This product goes way beyond simple "Undelete". It's a sophisticated data recovery tool from Data Recovery experts. And WXPNews readers can get it at an amazing 60% off now. We know that recovery software is something many people don't buy until it's too late. But if you wait ... you are likely not to see this price ever again!

 About WXPnews

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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.

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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.