Bits & P.C.s: Class action settlement and XP security

Bits & P.C.s: Class action settlement and XP security

By Richard Heller

Back some months ago, I reported that there was a class action lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard concerning DVD and RW drives. If you were one of the people that purchased an HP100i, or if the drive came installed in the HP computer that you purchased before May 1, 2002, you may be able to exchange your drive for a model HP200i.

Under the terms of the agreement, you must supply HP with credit card information and return the old drive to them for the exchange. If HP has already exchanged the drive under a previous agreement where you were charged $99, HP has agreed to refund your money. For further details, check out

While the lawmakers in this country are thinking up new taxes and the recording industry is blaming piracy for its 10 percent-plus loss in sales, the Europeans are considering cutting the amount of value added tax (VAT) to stimulate sales. They have discovered that increased sales means more sales tax will be collected. Sales would increase by 160 percent in Italy and 110 percent in the UK, it is estimated.

If you are running Windows XP and have not yet installed the update known as Service Pack 1, your computer is vulnerable to attack while you are on the Internet. As an alternative to the 130MB download, you may want to visit and download two free programs. The first is Xpdite, which will prevent files from being deleted from your computer while you are online. The second program is UnPlug n’ Pray, which disables the ability for someone to reconfigure your computer while you are surfing the net.

If you are using SBC as your DSL Internet provider, you have probably received an e-mail or a letter telling you that you should sign up for SBC Yahoo. The information packet tells you about all the benefits, including more e-mail addresses and other “improvements” to “enhance” your online experience. What they neglect to tell you is the Web browser they want you to use will not work with the standard version of Pop-Up Stopper; you have to spend $30 to purchase the program that will eliminate the pop-up ads.

The reason they don’t tell you this is because many of the ads are coming from Yahoo itself. They are selling the pop-up ad to advertisers so they want you to use their software so you see the ads. The best thing to do is to stay with the setup you are currently using and change only if they force you to.

If you have a high-speed connection, you may want to look into sending video e-mail. The price of Web cams has dropped to the $30 range, and they now connect through the USB port. If you install a camera on your computer and another with your kids away at college or out of state, you can go online and view video with better performance than with a dial-up connection. It’s a low-cost video phone.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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