March

GOOGLE E-MAIL

Google has begun testing a free webmail service named GMail. Here’s a press release from Google about the new service. Google intends to offer each user essentially unlimited storage of e-mail – 1 gigabyte per user, miles ahead of the paltry 2Mb or 4Mb offered by Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. […] continued

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ADOBE & APPLE DRIFTING APART

Apple fans are increasingly hard-pressed to justify clinging to a product with an insignificant, dwindling market share. The conventional wisdom is that Apple computers have some relevance in the world of graphics and publishing, for various reasons depending on whatever argument suits the moment. At various times I’ve been told the graphics software is easier to use than comparable Windows software (or it’s more complex but also more powerful), or there’s a greater selection than what’s available for Windows (or there’s a smaller selection but it must be good because it’s more popular among professionals), or the like. […] continued

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OUTLOOK 2003 SPAM FILTER UPDATE

If you’re using Outlook 2003, go to the Office Update site and install whatever updates it suggests. Among other things, you’ll get a brand new update for the spam filter in Outlook 2003. Here’s more information about the update.

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MICROSOFT PASSPORT TO NOWHERE

Microsoft’s Passport was envisioned as a central place for your personal information, safeguarded by Microsoft, which would then be accessed during your online shopping so you wouldn’t have to type in your name and address and credit card information at each web site.

It hasn’t worked out that way. Here’s an article about the current status of the Passport service – currently only being used by Microsoft and a handful of its close partners, and giving every sign that it will continue to disappear from sight. […] continued

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REMOTE ACCESS

You may not realize it, but the world of computing is changing this year faster and more fundamentally than ever before. Slowly but unsurely we’re being untethered from our computers.

Small Business Server 2003 is affordable even for very small businesses. A built-in feature, Remote Web Workplace, gives access to your Outlook mailbox from anywhere – all presented in an Internet browser. […] continued

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INTERNET ACCESS CONTROL

I installed NetNanny software on the kids’ computer to control their access to inappropriate web sites and to be able to shut off services if necessary – for example, to turn off instant messaging or file sharing. It works fine but it’s a bit complex to set up.

Linksys has announced an interesting new service that parents might want to look at – a “Parental Control Service” that controls Internet access at the router, rather than by software running on each computer. […] continued

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BROADBAND OVER POWER LINES

Perhaps a glimpse of the future: this Slate article describes a company that has rolled out broadband Internet service over power lines to 16,000 homes in Cincinnati. (New acronym: BPL, broadband over power lines.) There have been daunting technical obstacles that have prevented the transmission of Internet signals through power lines until now, but the company claims to have solved them – and apparently the technology looks good. […] continued

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SECRETS HIDDEN IN MICROSOFT WORD DOCUMENTS

Microsoft Word saves “metadata” along with a document – extra information ranging from identification of authors and reviewers of a document to all text added and deleted in prior versions and revisions of the document. This assists in collaboration, but it can have unexpected side effects.

Here’s an article about a draft letter circulated by the California Attorney General proposing a new legal theory for attacking file sharing software. […] continued

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BITTORRENT

Music downloading is taking off in new directions.

Kazaa continues to load annoying adware onto your computer when it’s installed. It’s harder than ever to find anything other than very obvious material using Kazaa – many people with deep libraries of more obscure songs have dropped off the Kazaa network. There are other programs for file sharing – WinMX and the like – but nothing has emerged as an obvious leader. […] continued

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DEATH OF THE VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY

Here’s a funny article predicting the death of the video game industry. The author makes some telling points – the technology used for games on computers and consoles has reached a plateau, the original gamers are aging and about to bail out of gaming altogether, and games are increasingly likely to be copies of games from previous years. […] continued

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DIGITAL VIDEO

The cost of digital camcorders is coming down and software is flooding onto the market for video editing. The field is still in its early stages; like many new directions for computers over the years, early adopters are having a fine time learning acronyms and technical details but normal people are well advised to stay away. […] continued

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SATELLITE BROADBAND

Hughes Electronics has been struggling with Internet access by satellite for years. Although it can be better than dialup in rural areas with no other options, it’s been wildly unappealing for reasons I detail on this page.

Hughes still feels left out by the rush to broadband over cable and DSL, so it’s going to revamp its satellite broadband lineup, adjusting pricing and claiming that technical advances have solved some of the system’s problems with speed and lag. […] continued

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“I’M NOT DEAD!”

Monty Python fans will recall the scene in Holy Grail where the wagon trundles by collecting the bodies of people struck down by the plague. A peasant comes out carrying the body of an old man, who unexpectedly puts up his head and says, “I’m not dead!” The peasant and the body collector have an argument – the peasant doesn’t want to keep someone who will obviously die soon, but the body collector doesn’t want to take away someone who isn’t dead – while the old man gets increasingly agitated, complaining, “I’m feeling better!”

They finally bash him in the head to get him to shut up. […] continued

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MORE AOL INSTANT MESSENGER GRIEF

AOL Instant Messenger was updated recently to version 5.5 – and apparently it secretly installs Wild Tangent, a “game content delivery service,” along with the IM program. Wild Tangent is typical adware – software you didn’t ask for and don’t want, installed without your knowledge or consent (in anything other than a meaningless technical sense – a clause buried in a license agreement does not constitute “consent.”)

People are complaining about it in this forum on BroadbandReports.com; what worries me are the reports from people who blame Wild Tangent for slowing their system to a crawl. […] continued

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VIRUSES EVERYWHERE

Be careful!

There seems to be an odd sort of war between two sets of virus writers. Virus-laden e-mail messages are flying everywhere.

Don’t open ANY e-mail attachments unless you are completely certain about the contents.

Update your antivirus definitions – Norton’s were updated yesterday.

The virus writers are getting smarter about how to create fake e-mail messages that will slip past your defenses. […] continued

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