Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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September 2004, Week 4 -- Who's That Down There?

   Process Library is where you can go to find out about the stuff running in the background of your Windows computer. It's a lot of stuff, as it turns out. The web site is; it's free.

   We hit the control-alt-delete keys on Joy's computer and found a whopping 63 processes running in the background. Most of them have obscure identification letters but it they are common to most computers, you can find out their purpose at the process web site. There were many things that are just rarely used, including Real Player, Real Network and lots of routines put in there by some program you loaded at some time or other. Often, their sole purpose is to check back with mommy to see if there are any updates. All of this backchat slows down your computer, of course.

   The Process Library web site can advise you on whether or not some of this stuff can be halted or removed but usually does not know about the ones put in by programs outside the operating system. The only thing to really worry about is whether any of them are security threats. The tricky thing is some security threats are deliberately designated with letters that are nearly identical to legitimate processes. For example:

   If you find "svchost.exe" on your computer, leave it alone; it's a legitimate system process and has to be there in Windows. However, "scvhost.exe" is a high risk program often called a "Trojan horse." It allows hackers to access your computer and steal passwords and other information. Notice that the only difference between the two programs is the order of the first two letters in their name: starting with "sv ..." is okay, "sc ..." is not.

   Other top security threats are "backweb.exe" "msbb.exe," "gmt.exe" and "rundll.exe." How do you know if you have them? That part is easy: just go to the "Start" menu in Windows and do a "Find" for the name of that program. If you have it, the search shows it.

   The Process Library web site is the work of "LI Utilities," which makes "WinTasks," a utility program for enhancing the performance of Windows. We reviewed this program favorably in the past and it is now out in a new version called "WinTasks5," which sells for $60 at their web site: It automates some of the junk clearance.

DVD or not DVD? That is congestion

   There are several systems for converting video tape to a DVD. Hewlett Packard has one where you simply slide in the video tape and a blank DVD disk and you're off and running. But that's $300. For less than $100 you can get "DVD Express, ver 2.0." It's $145 from the ADS Tech web site, but we found it for $92 at

   We tried the little box (about the size of two decks or playing cards) and were well pleased. It copied a commercial DVD movie and to our surprise the copy played (no copy protection there, we guess). It can copy any video source to DVD, including directly from a handy cam.

   The manufacturer "strongly recommends" that DVD Express be used with Windows XP or 2000. Some users listed complaints about the device on Amazon's comments section but did not say whether they used some other version of Windows. We used Windows XP and had no problems. The DVD Express package includes Ulead's "DVD Movie Factory 3," which is an excellent program. All in all, easy setup and good results.

Internuts: The fabric of our lives

-- The menu on the lefthand side of the screen has a huge number of links to suppliers. Click on the one that says "Spechler Vogel" and you get an even bigger list of fabrics, the largest we've ever seen in one place. The Royal Air Force cotton twills seem just right for that military look.
-- This is a commercial site for products in about two dozen categories, all Chinese. The fabrics include beautiful silk brocades for $12.50 a yard and fanciful cotton prints for $7.50 a yard.
-- All about Harris tweeds, something to keep out the chill of those Scottish Highland mornings.
-- Scottish Tartan plaids. Choose your pattern from nearly a hundred clans.
--  Fabrics with Indian patterns of the American Southwest and Mexico.


   "The Big Book of Typographics," Roger Walton, general editor; $45, Harper Collins

   There are two of these large and lavishly illustrated books on typography, each containing two volumes of what was meant to be a four volume set. Each tackles different problems: Typography 1&2 deals with digital type, web typography and the the art of controlling color and type in print. Typography 3&4 focuses on the use of type and design to enhance communication, getting the message across in words and pictures. The techniques and approaches come from many countries.