Thursday, August 04, 2005 ��Coupons - Savings�����

Mr. Linguini asked me to get votes for his fanTABulous car!! Not sure how it will be listed, will repost when the survey becomes available, on Wed, 8/3/05.


[UPDATE] Tony's VERY nice car!!! go vote, now!
Then, come back and click on the ads ;)

Thank you for your support,

Windows 64 Gains AV, Management

Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) now runs on and can manage X64 editions of Windows Server 2003.

ESET's NOD32 version 2.5, introduces malware protection for X64 versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. You can assist the On Computers Radio show by making your NOD32 X64 purchase through us by clicking here (32 bit versions also available). Proceeds help defray the considerable costs of producing the Internet radio show. (Who said the Internet is free!)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

IE 7 Won't Pass Acid Test

Acid2 is a test designed and posted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to test the standards compliance of web browsers. You can see it and view details about it at their site, here.

This article at has a development manager at Microsoft calling the Acid2 test a "wish list" and admitting that the upcoming version 7 of IE will not pass it.

I am disappointed, to say the least.

High-tech border pass raises alarm

Courtesy of Endgadget (that makes it legal for here, I think :))
3 U.S. border crossings "will employ high-tech radio frequency technology to monitor visitors from other countries who want to enter the States from Canada – a move that alarms both a Kingston privacy expert and an immigration specialist.*snip*..... Border guards will be able to access the information electronically from 12 metres away to enable those carrying the devices to be processed more quickly.
What was it Jefferson said? Oh I found it.
"Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."

Does this concern anybody just from a privacy perspective, not to mention other illegal activities?


[UPDATE] Bruce Schneier weighs in on the RFID border issue here. I swear I blogged my posts before I went to Bruce's blog. (Noticing that we blogged about the same issues, though more depth in the other blog :P)

Wired News: A Hacker Games the Hotel

Courtesy of WinXPNews which is a newsletter I enjoy, is a story about DefCon in Vegas. Which is full of interesting concepts, and as I heard Leo Laporte say "do NOT have an unsecured laptop in Vegas!" . Of course, before it was over would've been a better time to post... Timing IS everything :)

So, some news from
Technorati 2409 posts

IceRocket 12 posts (No number that I see, but I'm caffeine deprived)


Monday, August 01, 2005

Hacking the hotel through the TV | Tech News on ZDNet

Ran across this article on a travel forum I read.

Very interesting to say the least.

I hope we don't have any problems finding hotels in the future to accomodate Geek Meet after this :)


The world's most powerful women

According To Forbes anyway or should I say "Yes Dear"! Sorry Missm :-). Seriously, #5 is head of eBay. Xerox is in there too. Check it out. It's from MSN so, lots of annoying ads.

OnComputers Podcast 07-31-05

Due to some technical problems the 2nd hour has some skips in the feed.
This is the On Computers podcast for 07-31-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Wintasks 5 Pro. Overview & Review

Essentially, what WinTasks does is monitor and give the user control over all
the processes running in Windows, most of which are invisible and in the
background. In Windows XP, there's normally a minimum of 20-30 of these
processes, known as "system processes" that are essential to the normal
operation of Windows. However, some processes can "hog" system resources,
making the computer appear sluggish. But worse than that, other
unnecessary/unwanted processes can contain spyware or trojans, which is a big
reason you'd want to have the ability to monitor and control processes.

System Requirements: Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP
10 MB free hard drive space
at least 32 MB RAM
CPU: Pentium 400 MHZ. or better

Pricing: Standard: $29.95-download, $39.95-boxed
Professional: $49.95-download, $59.95-boxed
Network Admin.: $295.95-download or boxed
(as of the time this review was written, 27 July 05)

OK, that's the basics. Now... what's a process? A process is the execution
(or operation) of a program. A process is a form of activity, while a program
is the actual machine code that the processor executes, which consists of an executable file and maybe one or more DLL files, DLL being defined as a "Dynamically Linked Library"... program code that is pulled into memory only when required by the main executable (or another DLL) and then effectively "dumped out of memory" when it's no longer needed. A process can allocate any number of resources, such as system memory, disk access, etc. The operating system is responsible for different resource allocations and therefore has the overall responsibility for the proper
operation of the computer. In otherwords, Windows supervises and controls all processes in the system.

Process Modes, Priority and Threads:

A process is in the RUNNING MODE if it is actually using the CPU. Only one process
at any given moment can be in the Running Mode (except for multi-processor machines,
which is beyond our scope of discussion here).

A process is in the READY MODE if the process is "ready" to use the CPU (actually in cache memory and ready to begin or resume execution).

A process is in BLOCKED MODE if it is anticipating any form of external action, such as waiting for user input or for a file operation to be completed, and it is of course BLOCKED from doing anything else until that external action occurs.

The operating system (Windows in this case) controls each and every process that is given access to the CPU within a reasonable time frame (about 20 ms.). In this manner, each process can be run during a short time interval before the next process is given CPU access. This actually gives the appearance of "multitasking", although technically, the CPU doesn't multitask, it just executes lots of code incredibly fast, while constantly switching from one task to the next. The CPU can "queue up" the next instruction while the current one is executing to further speed things up and save the bit of time required to fetch the next instruction. This may not seem like a really big deal, but it actually is, especially when there are are lots of processes running. In otherwords, the processor is only executing one machine instruction at a time but it also pre-fetches the next one and holds it ready so as to reduce the amount of "wait time" until that next instruction is executed. It just does this over and over and does it very very fast.

Anyway... the distribution of accessibility to the CPU is controlled by the PRIORITY of the process. A process with a higher priority would naturally gain access to the CPU before one with lower priority. In Windows 2000 and XP, there are six different priority levels: low, below normal, normal, above normal, high, and real-time. Operating system processes are the highest of priorities while application processes are lower priority.

A process can be divided into a number of sub-activities, called THREADS. Each process has at least one thread, known as the MAIN THREAD. Additional threads can be used, for examnple, to perform complex operations in the background without interfering with the program's user interface.

The Wintasks User Interface, and things you can do with WinTasks:

This is explained very well in the user manual but is really pretty straightforward and intuitive; it's really easy to use. By the way, the manual deserves a big compliment; it's well-written and is certainly more than adequate for the user to get a basic understanding of what he/she needs to know. In the main window are listed all the processes running on the computer and there is the ability to start/stop or increase/decrease priority, block (which adds it to the BLOCKED list), refresh, print, and search. There's also an UPDATE function which will go online and check for a program update as well as the latest process library updates. I definitely think that's a cool feature because as more and more software is released, and even as Microsoft issues more Windows updates, more and more processes are possible and Uniblue keeps a pretty darn good, up-to-date database of Windows and application processes.

With the PRESETS feature, you can easily save different configurations of active
programs and their relavent priority levels. You can actually change the priority level of, or completely disable an application or system process. At this point, I need to strongly emphasize that YOU NEED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND WHY, otherwise, you can easily bring your system to a grinding halt, and possibly, under the right circumstances, trash some system files. As a general rule of thumb, any time you mess around "under the hood" of Windows (or any O.S.), there's always a chance of rendering it inoperable. Basic rule: know what you're doing and why you're doing it.

I mentioned DLL's previously, and With WinTasks, it's also possible to discover
which DLL's are used by a specific process.

With all the aforementioned features, it becomes apparent that with WinTasks, the user can determine which, if any, processes are running that shouldn't be, such as a process that may have been started by a trojan, virus, or spyware. Obviously, this is an extremely useful tool. I consider it one more tool in my arsenal to fight against this sort of thing.(There's unfortunately no one tool that can do everything and do it well.) There's definitely a learning curve that goes along with using a utility like WinTasks; the more you know about what's SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN in the normal running of Windows, the more easily you can determine any abnormalities.
WinTasks can also give you a rather detailed description of each process that it finds, thanks to Uniblue's process library.

In the Pro. version, you can view system statistics, such as real-time and average CPU and memory usage. It can also keep a log of all programs that are started and stopped on the system. This is obviously great for analysis purposes. By the way, keep in mind that there are some features available in the Pro. and Admin. versions that are not available in the Standard version, although the Standard version would be adequate for some. For details about which features are available in which version, check the website at

(But wait... there's more.) The built-in Script Language:

With WinTasks Scripting capabilities, you can create new functions and automate the handling of processes and resources. For example, you could automatically increase the priority level of the disk defragmentation program, or stop all processes that use more than a certain percentage of memory, or stop the web browser when visiting a particular web site. Another disclaimer: The script language is a powerful feature but can be dangerous if used improperly. As with *ANY* programming language, the programmer must be sure that the logic is correct before enabling the script.
The scripting language is a high-level language (translated to: fairly easy to learn). The script language is constantly under development and will likely contain additional commands and symbols as its development progresses. The manual gives a few examples of script programming and of course, a complete list of all commands and symbols.

Now... one might ask the question "How is WinTasks better than simply pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE and using Windows Task Manager? Task Manager will indeed allow you see what processes are running as well start/stop and set the priority for a process, and check your CPU and memory usage. But WinTasks does a lot more. I'mcertainly not belittling Task Manager; it's quite adequate for what it is. WinTasks can give you a detailed description of each task and its database of processes is periodically updated by Uniblue. And, you certainly can't do in Task Manager what you can with WinTask's Script Language; with WinTasks you can automate how Windows deals with any number of processes. I think you might consider it as "Task Manager on steroids".

My impression of WinTasks:

It's DEFINITELY a worthwhile addition to any geek's arsenal of computer tools. For an average user that only checks email, occasionally browses, plays Solitare and doesn't really know or care anything about how the computer operates, it's obviously useless, but for a computer technician or service person, or anyone who likes learning more about Windows computing, I'd absolutely recommend it.For a network administrator / I.T. person, I'd say it's not even an option, but a must-have. After hearing the interview on this show with the Uniblue rep, I was ready to purchase it but thanks to your contest, I didn't have to. However, if I hadn't won it in the contest, I'd have still spent the money for the Pro version; I really think it's that useful.

Random thoughts and shameless plugs:

(I sometimes like to share information about useful tools and utilities that
I've found...)

Another couple of utilities I've found that are rather useful are PC Magazine's FILE SNOOP and PORT SNOOP. FILE SNOOP has a Windows Explorer type of interface and allows you to view any file on your system in one of several ways and gives information about the file, what Windows resources it uses, what DLL's it depends on, etc.

PORT SNOOP is really interesting; it monitors and tracks any application using a network connection and can alert the user when there's any "unauthorized" network traffic into or out of the system. An immediate use comes to mind in that this would be a good tool to aid in tracking down spyware on a system. PC Magazine does require registration plus a small fee to download programs and utilities. If you're interested, check and look for the Utilities" link.

One other utility I recently found that I liked was the AntiLost CD Ejector. There is a free "Lite" version and a paid version (with more features)available at This little utility sits in the system tray and upon clicking on it, will open or close your CD tray. It's useful if your CD eject button is somewhat out of reach. I'd rather rely on the CD drive's motor and gear train to retract the tray rather than physically pushing the tray inbecause it's all too easy to get in a hurry and push with a little too much force.

And that's all for now. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts and opinions
in this review.