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Drew Dunn writes a regular column concerning all phases of installing and using Linux operating system.

Bob Wright explains all the aspects of fixing your own PC and explains how it works along the way.

Mark Rode takes on the shareware market reviewing numerous applications on a regular basis.


Free PC Tech Industry News

No Phishing Allowed!
MessageLabs, a corporate email monitoring service, says that the number of phishing emails on the Internet has increased from 279 to 215,643 over the last six months.

In January, the number hit 337,050. Phishing is a scam that involves somebody sending out an official-looking email, usually appearing to be from a reputable institution or company, which attempts to pursuade the recipient to divulge sensitive information such as bank or credit card numbers and other personal data.

The latest attack has Citibank customers in the crosshairs. The Anti-Phishing Working Group says that the attack uses a sophisticated JavaScript application that hijacks the victim's web browser.

All the dirt is on
19 Apr 2004 by Drew

Paper DVDs
Sony and Toppan Printing (of Japan) have developed a new kind of Blu-Ray DVD made of paper. The discs are capable of storing up to 25GB of data, well over twice that of a conventional red laser DVD.

The companies are touting the benefits of the new disc, including its environmental friendlieness via recycling and manufacturing and its data security - since the disc is mostly paper, it can be cut with scissors.

A demonstration and presentation is scheduled for the Optical Data Storage 2004 Conference next week.

Get the scoop at New Scientist.
16 Apr 2004 by Drew

Spyware Gets Attention
The Federal Trade Commission is holding a workshop on the dangers of spyware next week. Spyware is a growing collection of programs that papper their users with unwanted ads or allow others to observe surfing activity or steal data.

The immediate problem that spyware creates, other than security and annoyance, is that it slows down the user's computer. As Roger Thompson of Pestpatrol says, "So much stuff is being foisted on people that it's really slowing their computers down. That's stepping out of bounds of what's fair and reasonable."

Utah has passed an anti-spyware law, but legitimate software developers are concerned that it and potential federal legislation could catch them in the sweep of spyware. So, the FTC will hold hearings and the workshop in order to craft a plan for future action.

Three bills are currently before the California state legislature, while another failed to pass in Iowa. Congress has also considered anti-spyware legislation.

More details are at
15 Apr 2004 by Drew

Is Gmail Doomed Before It Starts?
I guess that this falls under the "Only in California" heading. State Senator Liz Figueroa of Fremont, CA is drafting legislation to block Google's Gmail service because it is "an invasion of privacy".

The problem seems to be that because Google's computers search the stored email for keywords that correspond to advertising, that somehow is a violation of privacy.

Senator Figueroa was also the author of California's "Don Not Call" law for blocking telemarketing calls. According to Google, the company has received the senator's letter and will take it into consideration.

Two dozen American and European privacy groups have taken Google to task over their offer of free email with targeted advertisments.

More info on this tempest in a teapot is at
13 Apr 2004 by Drew

Gopher It!
Back in the early days of the Internet, Gopher was more than a furry rodent that ate your petunias. Gopher servers were yesterday's answer to text information on the web. You could find oodles of information on just about anything - and there were even gopher servers that acted as indexes of other gopher servers. Sound familiar?

Well, they're still around and most web browsers still support them. According to Wired Magazine, there are at least 250 active gopher servers around the world, serving up data on just about everything you can imagine.

Surf over to Floodgap to see a list.
12 Apr 2004 by Drew

Free Tribes and Tribes 2
Hey, computer gamer, if you've never played Starsiege: Tribes or Tribes 2, now is your chance. Sierra is giving both games away for friee as DVD in the June issue of Computer Gaming World. You can also download them, if you've got the bandwidth. It's all in an effort to stir up impatience for the new entry in the Tribes franchise - Tribes: Vengeance, to be released later in the year.

I've played both games and, to say the least, they're a kick in the head (in a good way)!

A bit more info is at
12 Apr 2004 by Drew

Gamers Make Better Surgeons
The next time your mom, dad, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. tells you to quit playing computer games, tell them that you're just in training to become a surgeon.

Dr. James "Butch" Rosser has completed a study that shows that surgeons who perform laparoscopic surgery make 37% fewer mistakes and complete the surgery 27% faster if they play video games at least three hours per week.

Apparently the surgery requires the same hand-eye coordination that video games require. Other researchers suggested that the study was evidence of the arrival of "Generation X" in medicine and likened laparoscopic surgery to "tying your shoelaces with three-foot-long chopsticks".

Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City plans to apply the results of the study to help improve the performance of its physicians.

Find your excuse for playing video games at
09 Apr 2004 by Drew

Chips at the Atomic Level
UC Berkeley physicist Dr. Michael F. Crommie has taken silicon doping to a new low - atomic. Doping is the practice of introducing impurities into silicon in order to change its electrical characteristics so that chips made from the silicon will behave in predictable ways.

The current method of doping relies on the natural distribution of the dopants throughout the silicon substrate, but that distribution is generally not uniform, something that becomes a problem as the features on chips become vanishingly small.

Crommie's new technique controls the distribution of individual atoms of dopants. This could allow the design of circuits as small as a single molecule.

At this point, the process is limited by the type of material used (buckminsterfullerene) and the temperature required (7 degrees kelvin, almost absolute zero). But Crommie is confident that the process can be commercially developed and become a tool to keep Moore's Law alive.

More on the story is at
09 Apr 2004 by Drew

Greener Computing
Your computer is a cesspool of toxic material. Lead, brominated fire retardants, polyvinyl chloride, cadmium, chromium, mercury and other toxic material is lurking beneath its cover. Of course, the quantities are small and, under normal use, they aren't going to jump out and kill you.

But what happens when you're done with the computer? According to the UN, about 12 million PCs hit the landfills in the US every year. That's enough to pose a problem. According to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, we can do something about it...recycle!

Besides a big list of tips at Grist Magazine, The NOSPIN Group (the parent of FreePCTech) welcomes donations of used computer hardware. Click on the email address below for more information.
08 Apr 2004 by Drew

Apple Versus The Beatles
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Apple Computer and Apple Corps (the music publsihing arm of the Fab Four) came to an agreement that the computer company would stay out of the music business.

The two companies got along fabulously until 1988, when Apple started selling MIDI-enabled computers. After court proceedings, Apple Computer paid Apple Corps around $30 million to resolve the problem.

Now, there's a new issue. Apple Corp says that iTunes represents a foray into the music business, at odds with the 24 year old trademark agreement. Apple Computer disagrees and now the whole mess has landed in the High Court of London, rather than a US court, as Apple Computer requested.

Unfortunately, due to the complex language of the trademark agreement and the fact that nobody imagined music delivery over the Internet, the case promises to be quite tricky to resolve. As the High Court judge said, "If their intention...was to create obscurity and difficulty for lawyers to debate in future years, they have succeeded handsomely."

The scoop is at the BBC.
08 Apr 2004 by Drew

Two Names Are Better Than One
It looks like Lindows is going to give up in their battle against Microsoft over the Linux vendor's name. The companies are currently battling in US courts over whether or not the name "Lindows" infringes upon Microsoft's "Windows" name. In the meantime, Microsoft filed court cases in several other countries, seeking to prevent Lindows from using that name. In the face of the flood of lawsuits, Lindows CEO Micheal Robertson appears to have elected to give in to Microsoft rather than spend the time and money necessary to defend the company in many different countries.

So, the company will be known as Lindows in the US and something else everywhere else. The "something else" will be announced next week.

07 Apr 2004 by Drew

The GPL, Explained
Two very well written articles have popped up in the past couple of days that describe exactly what the GNU Public License (GPL) is and is not. They're both written in clear, easy to understand don't have to be a lawyer! The first was written by Robin Bloor, and addresses the GPL from a management point of view. The second is a more in-depth analysis by Australian attorney Dr. Ben Kremer. Read them both!
07 Apr 2004 by Drew