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
www.processlibrary.com; 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
www.liutilities.com. It automates some of the junk clearance.
DVD or not DVD? That is
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 www.adstech.com, 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
www.fabriculous.bigstep.com 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.
www.pearlriver.com 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.
www.harristweed.org All about Harris tweeds, something to keep out
the chill of those Scottish Highland mornings.
www.thebritishnook.com Scottish Tartan plaids. Choose your pattern
from nearly a hundred clans.
www.swdecoratives.com Fabrics with Indian patterns of the
American Southwest and Mexico.
"The Big Book of Typographics," Roger Walton, general editor; $45,
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.