| WXPnews E-Zine |
Tue, Feb 25, 2003 (Vol. 3, 8 - Issue 64)
|What Is DRM and WHY?|
| This issue of WXPnews contains:|
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| EDITOR'S CORNER|
In last week's issue, we mentioned the term "DRM" and a number of you wrote, asking what it is or wanting to know more about it. The acronym stands for Digital Rights Management, and it refers to the use of technology to protect copyrighted material such as music, movies and software. In other words, DRM uses hardware or software to "lock" content with the intent of ensuring that only those who pay for it can use it.
Generally, DRM uses encryption to prevent unauthorized use and copying. DRM technology got a big boost when the U.S. Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 (for more info on the Act click on the link below). Additional bills have been introduced since then, that would further criminalize unauthorized use of copyrighted materials and mandate that hardware manufacturers build DRM capability into their products.
One of the most prominent programs that incorporates DRM is Windows Media Player. You can find out more about DRM in Media Player on the Microsoft web site below. Another example of DRM is Microsoft's Palladium platform that will presumably be incorporated into future versions of Windows. For more information about Palladium click on the link below (note that Microsoft has dropped the name "Palladium").
DRM in Media Player:
The purpose of DRM is to prevent theft of intellectual property. The problem is that most of the technologies also prevent legal "fair use" such as the ability for someone who has legitimately purchased a CD, DVD or software program to make a backup copy for him/herself in case the original is damaged. DRM also creates situations where the consumer is denied access to software they've purchased because of problems inherent in most copy protection schemes.
Because of this, there has been a large backlash against DRM, especially in the open source community. There are a number of organizations that oppose increasing government regulation of digital content and the Internet, or that raise concerns about the ways in which these laws are being implemented. Balancing the rights of copyright holders with the rights of those who buy and use the content isn't easy. A big issue is how DRM technologies invade the privacy of all users to find those who are violating copyright, and the "guilty until proven innocent" aspect of the DRM technologies. These issues, and many more, are discussed in detail at web sites such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.eff.org). DRM is a complex and controversial topic, but it's one that every Internet user should take time to become familiar with, because it directly affects how we are allowed to use the hardware, software and services that we pay for.
Follow-up: More on Multiple Monitors
Lots of you are still writing in with comments and questions about using Multiple Monitors with XP. One thing that has come up several times is whether and how you can have different desktop wallpaper images on each monitor.
The bad news is that there's no way to do this within XP. The good news is that there's a nifty little add-on program called UltraMon that will let you do this - and more. In fact, it's one of my favorite pieces of software. In addition to allowing you to set different wallpapers, it also lets you put separate taskbars on each of your monitors, and gives you an easy way to save your desktop icon configuration without shutting down. A single user license costs $39.95, but it's well worth the price if you want to get the most out of your multiple monitor setup. And there's a 30 day trial version so you can try it out before you buy. Check it out at:
'Til next week,
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| HINTS, TIPS, TRICKS & TWEAKS|
Check for Browser Scumware Fast
Many popular software applications install scumware without your knowledge. You may have seen our reports on spyware and scumware and thought it wasn't worth installing programs because of the hassle. However, you might change your mind after visiting the DoxDesk Para Site. This Web site will automatically check your browser to see if some slugware vendor installed a browser parasite without your knowledge. We were shocked to find out that the Net2phone CommCenter installed the dreaded "Bargin Buddy" parasite. You'll definitely want to check out scumware whackers like PestPatrol after visiting the DoxDesk site.
Get Yahoo Mail using Outlook Express
Many people were left out in the cold when Yahoo decided to charge for its POP3 mail service. POP3 mail allows you to use programs like Outlook and Outlook Express to download mail to your computer. If you want free Yahoo mail now, you have to use their Web service and read your mail online in the browser. But there's a solution. Check out YahooPOPs! if you want to download mail from Yahoo mail without paying the fee. WARNING: this is for advanced users only:
Grab a Static Graphic from an .AVI Movie File
Some of you have asked how to grab a screen shot from an .avi file. You've tried to do this using the print screen function built into Windows and it hasn't worked. If you're in this situation, then try out this trick. This works in Windows Media Player 8 (this is the version of Windows Media Player that came with Windows XP), but we're not sure yet if DRM breaks this method in WMP 9.
Remove Entries from the Windows XP Internet Explorer Drop-down Lists
Internet Explorer can "remember" entries you've made into forms. For example, if you use Web based Hotmail, you know that you have to enter your user name and password. If you double click in the user name text box, you'll see a list of all the user names that have been entered into that box. There are even sites where you enter credit card information and if you double click on the right text box on the right form, you'll see credit card numbers! If you want to prevent specific entries from showing up in the list, try this:
Get a Fresh Start by Clearing the Windows XP Internet Explorer History
Several Windows XP readers wrote in last week, asking how to clear the list of Web sites that appears when the "AutoComplete" feature is enabled. While AutoComplete makes it easy to return to Web sites by allowing you to select from a list of previously visited sites, you might not want everyone who uses the computer to know what sites you've been to recently. You'll have to clear your History if you don't want others to see where you've been:
Get a Jump on the Disabled IE "Back" Button
Have you ever clicked on a link, jumped to the Web site, and found that your "Back" button had been disabled? Believe it or not, there are some Web site operators who disable the back button because they think you'll stay longer at their site. You can get around this problem by right clicking on the Back button and returning to where you were by clicking on your previous site from the list.
| HOW TO'S: ALL THE NEW XP FEATURES|
Using System Restore to Recover from WMP 9
Last week we went over the procedure on how to create a System Restore Point you can use to recover from problems related to installing Windows Media Player 9. This week we'll finish up by showing you how to use that System Restore Point to whack WMP 9 and get your old Windows Media Player (WMP 8) back in working order again:
| WXP SECURITY: UPDATES & PATCHES|
Alternative Antivirus Solutions: Escaping Norton Antivirus DRM
Now that NAV (Norton Antivirus 2003) has embraced the DRM concept, we're on the lookout for good antivirus alternatives. We mentioned that McAfee antivirus caused more problems than DRM scumware, but we've decided to retract that statement. We got a lot of email from users who are very happy with McAfee! In addition to McAfee, here are some other antivirus solutions that you might want to consider:
More on the TurboTax RegWorm Debacle
WXPnews reader MJM writes about his experiences with the "new and improved" DRM-crippled version of TurboTax:
"I bought professional TurboTax home and business, and of course something went wrong -- crashed everything. I decided it was time to do a complete Windows XP reinstall from scratch. BUT I forgot about the stupid TurboTax. You can not reuse the same number again, and believe me, they told me "too bad, buy another copy." No phone support, and uninformed, rude online people. You can bet I also switched to Microsoft Money -- just like that."
| UPGRADING & COMPATIBILITY ISSUES|
Potential Fix for Windows XP Disk Transplant Problem
A couple of weeks ago (), we posted a Microsoft Knowledge Base article that describes problems you might run into if you try to move the Windows XP system disk to another computer. The Microsoft solution was very complex and not for the novice computer user. A few sharp WXPnews readers wrote in about a method you can use to get around the IDE controller issue. Here's what you can do right before you move the disk to the new machine:
| WXP CONFIGURING & TROUBLESHOOTING|
Windows 2000 DVD-ROM Drive Cannot Read Windows XP-Formatted FAT32 DVD-RAM Media
Whoops! You recorded some information on a DVD, using the DVD-RAM drive in your Windows XP computer that you got for Christmas. It works great and Windows XP has no problems reading the files. You send the disk to your friend and he tries to play it in the DVD drive in his Windows 2000 computer. No go! To find out why check out:
Disk Cleanup Utility Stops Responding
With the help of the Disk Cleanup Utility, you can keep your disks nice and tidy. However, a few of you have noticed that the utility hangs up and stops working when scanning for compressed files. If you have this problem, head on over to:
Your Desktop Icons Are Missing in Windows XP
Yikes! All your desktop icons are gone. They were there just yesterday. What happened? It might be that a "friend" turned off the "Show Desktop Icons" setting. See how to fix the problem (or to play the trick on someone else):
| FAVE LINKS|
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This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
| PRODUCT OF THE WEEK|
One of the most useful and easy to use keyboard macro apps we've seen! SureType can open websites, applications and insert frequently used text just by typing a regular word. For example, in any application, you could just type "word" and immediately MS Word would open, or type "address" and have your address automatically typed onto the screen.
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