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Technology Today April  2004
by Robert Sanborn 

I have had to clean out a couple of systems recently and most of the problems that they encountered were as a result of downloading a piece of software from the internet. My first rule of thumb is to never, absolutely never, buy a piece of software from a popup ad. They had gone to an internet site that popped up an add that says that it will remove all their spy ware and stop further pop up ads from hitting. You betcha.  It proceeded to further make a mess of everything. The second instance was someone who saw a cute smiley face and screen saver. You know how often you see the license agreement when you download something and you just click ok? Well, this time, it not only sent them the screen saver, it also sent them spy software, ad software, and kept their computer dialing out at all hours of the day.  Seems the license agreement allowed the screensaver people to download all sorts of things to the computer and run it.  

So, what do I use? Spybot is the first from http://spybot.safer-networking.de/. The second program is Ad Aware, from Lavasoft, www.lavasoftusa.com. I also mentioned last month, a new anti virus program that I think has some great technical merits but lacks a good user interface. Take a look at it at www.globalhauri.com. I also looked at McAfee http://us.mcafee.com/, but still don’t particularly like its user interface. Stick with the Norton, www.sarc.com. What I really like about it is that it shows you on one screen that your auto protection is turned on, it is working, what was the last date the anti-virus definitions were updated, and when your subscription expires. Yes, Norton has been a pain at times and is a resource hog on your computer but it works and you know where you stand.  

If you think you are at risk, two good websites to check for viruses are Symantec’s and Trend Micro, www.trendmicro.com. Look for their Personal Tab, and hit the Housecall scan. At the Symantec site, www.sarc.com, scroll down and look for the “Check for Security Risks” label. Finally, a good firewall can be had at www.zonelabs.com. They have one free for personal use. 

New way to capture Images 

As the digital technology boom continues, it was about time someone started to make some improvements on the way digital cameras and scanners capture images. A new technology to look out for is from Foveon, www.foveon.com, and their X3 direct imaging sensor. They call it a giant leap forward in imaging technology and of course, the market place will decide this once new cameras and systems come out using it. If you look at the web site on the new X3 technology, they tell us that when you capture an image on film, the film contains three layers of emulsion, which captures the red, green, and blue light reflecting of your subject. The typical CCD (Charged Coupled Device) lenses found in nearly all cameras and scanners, use just one layer of pixels and each one can only capture a single color so it needs to figure out where the blending and merging of colors take place. The X3 uses three layers of pixels, one to capture each color of your image and according to them, will give you the warm rich colors comparable to film. According to their web page, there are currently three digital cameras using their sensors. The Polaroid x530 (see www.polaroid-digital.com) which should be available in June 2004. Two cameras are from Sigma, (see http://www.sigma-photo.com/ ) the SD9 and SD10.  The SD9 is a 10 megapixel camera selling for around $1100.The SD10 was announced November 2003 and is not yet available. 


Last month I talked about getting the new Bluetooth enabled iPAQ and for the most part, I have really enjoyed using it. I like having two different memory cards to use so when I use the wireless connection to my internet, I can still download files and with the USB connection on the card to my computer, can easily transfer files from anywhere on the iPAQ to my desktop. I find though that a couple of things from my old Casio seems to me to be a bit better but then sometimes, I hate to change. For instance, the Casio calendar was in a much better layout than is it on the iPAQ. Much more readable. Also, the screen was a bit larger and I enjoyed using that. With the GPS software, my iPAQ locks up much more frequently. I will power down everything, disable the Bluetooth, and power it off. When I power it back up, quite often, I need to do the soft boot from the back as it won’t turn back on.  It doesn’t seem to be running down the battery so go figure, guess I will have to see if there is a firmware upgrade on the web. 

Short Takes 

It seems the trend for newer digital media never ends. San Disk, www.sandisk.com has come out with a new Mini Secure Digital memory card. About half the size of the current small SD memory cards, it will initially come in sizes from 64mb to 256mb. It will also come with an adapter to turn it into a standard sized SD card for your current card readers. The smaller these cards get, the easier it is to loose them. You really need to watch out for this. The same with the little USB memory drives available all over the place. Handle them carefully as I hear more and more stories on people losing them.

Robert Sanborn is a technology analyst for PC Lifeline. You can reach him through the net at robert@pcll.com


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