NEWSLETTER #5 – July 31, 2007                    

 

CONTENTS:

  1. IE 7 blocker
  2. Turn off welcome screen and logon if no password
  3. Microsoft is extending XP distribution thru December
  4. QWEST billing for DSL
  5. New HP AIO printers and Vista
  6. Limits on Dell Dimension 8000 series
  7. How Malware spreads on the net
  8. Fined for use of open wi-fi network
  9. External hard drive chassis – getting the best thru-put possible
  10. Norton upgrade vs renew
  11. Programming environment on a PC
  12. MEDIAHUB.EXE error

 

 

1-      IE 7 blocker – Microsoft is REALLY pushing Internet Explorer 7 (IE7).  It was written for Vista and is being pushed into XP systems by the Update process.  Its presence has been known to break many HP printer drivers, Norton <= 2006, all McAfee, and anything using Java.  It also slows down machines, and surfs slower than its predecessor, Internet Explorer6 (IE6).

Many of us have tried saying “Don’t notify me again about this update.” During the Windows Update process,  only to see IE7 try to come down again later.  Here is an IE7 blocker from Microsoft.  It was designed for corporate environments to be able to completely block IE7 from their PCs.  There is no reason for it to not help you!  All it does is make a single registry key which disables the Update program from bringing down IE7. 

You can get it from: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=4516A6F7-5D44-482B-9DBD-869B4A90159C&displaylang=en Click CONTINUE button to Validate and then the DOWNLOAD button to receive the toolkit.  It is called IE7BlockerToolkit.exe .  Download it to the desktop.  Double click it to run it when the download is complete.  It will ask where to write it to – I save it to C:\A, a new folder that gets made during this step.  Next open a DOS window (START/RUN/(type) CMD (enter)).  DO the following steps:

CD \A

IE70BLOCKER /B

A message will inform you that it ran successfully.  You may now close the DOS window.  You have blocked IE7 from coming down automatically to your PC.!!!  (You may go get it manually at any time.)

 

      If you already have IE7 and wish to remove it – beware – the process is not straight forward.

1.      Completely uninstall any and all Norton/Mcafee/… products that date to 2006 or earlier

2.      reboot

3.      Completely uninstall all IE toolbars (Google, MSN, Yahoo,…)

4.      reboot

5.      Make sure your system is spy ware free

6.      reboot

7.      Uninstall WINDOWS INTERNET EXPLOERE 7 from the ADD/REMOVE programs list in the Control Panel.   Say OK to all warnings and let the process go !!!!  IT takes a while !!! J

 

2-     Turn off welcome screen and logon if no password - What if I have only 1 account on the PC and don’t want the Welcome Screen OR the classic prompt? Can I disable both?  YES !

To Login automatically to a single user account, follow the instructions below:

1) Click on Run

2) Type in the following command and click OK

CONTROL USERPASSWORDS2

3) Highlight the user you want to log into automatically, and then uncheck the box labeled:  "Users must enter a username and password to use this computer"

4) Click on Apply and you'll be asked to verify the username and password to log in automatically (Hit ENTER as you have no password to type in)

5) Click OK and the next time you restart your computer, you'll automatically be logged in without having the classic prompt or Welcome Screen.

 

3-     Microsoft is extending XP distribution thru December

YES Microsoft caved to popular demand and extended XP distribution until December 2007.  IF you call in an order to Dell, even on a model which shows only VISTA availability online, you can request XP !!!  I assume this method works on other brands too http://news.com.com/2100-1046_3-6177619.html 

 

4-      QWEST BILLING FOR DSL

I am hearing from clients who have the AOL DSL (from Qwest)(that was sold to them at $25/month) that their charges are going up..  AOL originally said that $22 was for Qwest basic DSL service and $3 was for AOL software access.   I am being shown Qwest phone bills for more than that amount.  One client is being billed $28 for QWEST SILVER and an additional $9.99 for DSL services.  He was told the $9.99 was because he did not use MSN as his ISP.  Hmmmm.  This stinks !!!  You may want to check your phone bill if you have Qwest DSL.

 

5-      New HP AIO printers and Vista

Just heads up – I am seeing that HP is slow, even on the newest printers on the market, in producing Vista drivers for the full abilities of the printers.  We saw this during the XP roll-out too.  Keep checking back at www.hp.com for your specific printer.

 

6-      Limits on Dell Dimension 8000 series

I see many people at the decision point of upgrading or replacing their Dimension 8000 series computer.  Those PCs have the first generation Pentium 4 cpus running at or below 3ghz.  I have added memory and rebuilt quite a few and I am perplexed by the results I see.  The following observations should apply across all brands of PCs.

Normally after a rebuilt of XP, a machine runs at or near the original factory fresh speed it did when new.   Early Pentium 4 machines, however, are not recovering all their performance speed after a rebuild.

   After lots of thinking and observation I have concluded that these machines are being burdened by: XP service Pack 2, 2006/7 Norton, Abode Reader 8, and other various 2006/7 vintage programs.  By the time all those are reinstalled on a freshly rebuilt machine of that era, I see the machine operating at 60-70% of the speed I expected it to.  Hmmmm.  When watching the CPU performance chart in the Task Manager, I see the CPUs running frequently at 100%, which freezes the PC, until the CPU finishes its task and releases the computer.  This is the cause of the less than stellar performance, even after a rebuilt.  Adding memory to these PCs will lessen the burned on the CPU, shortening the time the PC is frozen while the CPU is at 100%, but it doesn’t cure the situation completely.   Therefore I conclude that rebuilding Pentium 4 PCs does not always provide the best answer to getting the best performance out of your computer.  I am now frequently recommending replacement of this era of PCs.

 

Now that the Core2Duo CPUS are about 1 yr old, programs written in 2006/2007 are designed to take advantage of  the increase in computing power and speed these new CPUs offer.   Now can you imagine why your first generation Pentium 4 cpu computer is slowing down?

 

Also-As we have become used to the presence of large hard drives (over 300gig) many owners of the computers mentioned above has asked me for a larger hard drive.  In researching the products, I have found that 200g is the largest internal drive this generation can use.  This REALLY surprised me.  All the more reason to replace this generation when the user’s needs require more speed and storage space.

 

7-      How Malware spreads on the net

a.      http://redtape.msnbc.com/2007/05/the_next_net_th.html  it loads slowly, be patient, has a great video with it.

 

8-      Fined for use of open wi-fi network

a.       http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,276720,00.html  Now it seems to me that if a business has a sign which shays “FREE WI-FI” without any restricting clauses, the owner can’t complain if the wi-fi user never enters their shop while using the wi-fi service.  Few business owners think ahead to put restrictions on their wi-fi usage.  However, such behaviour on the part of the wi-fi user is simply rude!  For heaven’s sake – go buy a cup of coffee!  Sheesh!  However now it is a precedent and we can expect to see such frivolous lawsuits nation-wide.

 

9-      External hard drive chassis – getting the best thru-put possible

     By now many of you have run into external hard drive chassis.  They are a great solution to storage problems.  There are now 2 main ways they can be connected to your PC.

a.      USB2 / Firewire – These 2 connector types have nearly identical thruput speeds.  USB 2 = 480Mbit/s  FIREWIRE = 400Mbits.sec

b.      eSATA - http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-esata.htm  This is the fastest transfer method for an external device (so far).  Ideally eSATA can provide 300 MB/s or 3 gigabits per second to external devices.  eSATA is the same connector as a SATA connector, but it strengthened for external use.   You can add eSATA connectors to your PC which (1) are directly connected to your motherboard or (2) are provided by an adapter card.  These cards allow for hot-plugging (turning off and on of the external device w/out requiring a reboot).

 

Now that you have decide to get an eSATA drive, you must now think of how is it to be connected to your PC.   The best way to hook up an eSATA drive is to connect it to a PCIe adapter card.

 

PCI EXPRESS (PCIe) slots– These are those slots on the motherboard where you insert ad-on cards.  In the newest of machines, there are 1 or 2 or no PCI slots.  ISA slots disappeared long ago.   See http://pclt.cis.yale.edu/pclt/PCHW/BUS.HTM & http://www.gen-x-pc.com/pci_basic.htm for description of the types of PCIe slots. 

 

If you are looking into an eSATA external device, make sure that you get a PCIe adapter card.  They come in X1, X4 and X8 types.  X1 = 500MB/s  X4 = 2GB/s  X8 = 4 GB/s .  For a single external eSATA device, an X1 card is sufficient.  For 2 or more external eSATA devices, you MUST get a X2 or X4 adapter card.  Your motherboard must have the matching type of PCIe slot. 

 

Now – what type of hard drive to put into that eSATA enclosure?  IDE is going away quickly… IDE drives are refereed to as PATA (Parallel ATA).  SATA means Serial ATA.   They have different data cables and power connectors. 

 

The latest hard drives are called SATA II, also called SATA 300.  They transfer data at 3GB/s.  The first generation of SATA, called SATA I or SATA/150, transfer data at 1.5GB/s .   In order for external devices to fully utilize the 3GB/sec transfer ability of SATA II, your external device must be rated for SATA II and have an eSATA connection to the PC and be connected to a PCIe adapter card.  Phew! 

 

In conclusion:  I have 2 external eSATA devices on my PC.  I use them to access clients hard drives for backups and data retrieval.  The best feature to me is that my eSATA drives are hot swappable.  I run my eSATA drive chassis with their tops off so that I can swap the drives easily.

 

10-   Norton upgrade vs renew

Many users these days seems to be confusing UPGRADE with RENEW when attempting to respond to their Norton’s nag of a subscription expiring.   UPGRADE means replacing your current program (Anti Virus, Internet Security,…) with the latest version.  RENEW means keeping your program but licensing it for another year’s use.  Users on dial-up should NEVER choose UPGRADE as these replacement program install files are HUGE – much too large to download on dial-up.  Go get it in the store – it will be the same price.  Users on high-speed internet may do as they please.

 

I DO see Norton 2007, all products, being an enormous hit on any PCs efficiency.  Even on the newest of Core2Duo cpu computers, I see the 2007 product line from Norton puts a definite  hit on performance.

 

11-  Norton account login

a.       When you do get a new Norton product and are installing it, at some point it will ask you to create an account on Norton’s server to track your license.  DO IT !!!!  There is a hidden reason why.  It is called ON-GOING PROTECTION and it means they will automatically bill you for the next year’s renewal, whether you ask for it or not!!!!!  Click here https://lcwer.symantec.com/OngoingProtectionCancel/cancel.aspx for the On-Going Protection Cancellation request form.  In your order receipts will be a link to your subscription management page, here is where you use your login in id/pw provided them earlier.  You can check to see if there are other products due to be auto-billed to you. 

 

Interesting note:  I see Norton constantly changing their installation procedure.  Sometimes I see the warning about the On-going protection, sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes they don’t ask for that account to be created.  Consistency would be a nice thing!!

 

12-  Programming environment on a PC

a.       Visual Studio  - There is a product for programming on the PC called VISUAL STUDIO 2005.  It has a free version of each languages tool called: VIUSAL BASIC EXPRESS, SQL EXPRESS, VISUAL C EXPRESS, …  The languages include Basic, C++, C# & J#.  see http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/ for their home page.  Visual Studio Express’s development languages are available individually, whereas the purchased product, Visual Studio, contains all language platforms in it.  (“Express” means a ‘lite’ version of the product and usually implies that it is free.)  I am finishing up writing a project in Visual Basic, the learning curve is enormous as there is almost no beginner level documentation available, just a few books, and the web’s chat groups.

 

13-  MEDIAHUB.EXE error with new PCS preloaded with (Sonic’s) Roxio’s  Digital Media while Media Player 11 is installed.  Phew!

a.       If you have Windows Media Player 11 installed and a factory installed recent version of Sonic/Roxio’s Digital Media, then you may be getting errors talking about MEDIAHUB.EXE.  Go here: http://kb.roxio.com/content/kb/Creator/000058MD to get the patch from Roxio/Sonic to cure it.

 

Heather Burke

Piñon PC Support

PO Box 128

Los Alamos, NM 87544

505-470-2431

 

This newsletter is available online at  http://www.pinonpc.com/NEWSLETTER-5.htm