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Transcript

Google Desktop Search

Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Personal Technology Columnist
Monday, October 25, 2004; 2:00 PM

Fast Forward columnist Rob Pegoraro was online Monday, Oct. 25, to discuss recent reviews, including high-end handhelds and Google Desktop Search. A transcript follows.

Want to know what upcoming topics are being covered? Sign up for Fast Forward e-letter -- get updated information on personal technology news and product demos. Read past editions of Rob's e-letter online here.

Rob Pegoraro (The Post)

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Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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Rob Pegoraro: Good afternoon on a busy news day (he typed as he prepared to gulp down the rest of lunch). Lots of stuff to talk about--HDTV, handhelds, Google Desktop, Web browsers--and only an hour to get it all in. And how 'bout them Sox!

Let's go to the first question...

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Columbia, S.C.: Do you have to be actively on-line to use the new Google desktop search or can you simply fire up the browser and use it off-line?

Rob Pegoraro: No, I don't believe you don't need to be online to use this. FYI, there's a pretty good FAQ about Google Desktop at http://desktop.google.com/support

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Alexandria, Va.: Re: Google desktop search ... how does that thing find my instant messaging archive? I didn't even know my computer saved that stuff!

Rob Pegoraro: It doesn't--Google Desktop itself logs the chats. (You can get this feature from most third-party IM clients, like Gaim or Trillian.)

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Woodbridge, Va.: Why is it that with my new Dell Inspiron 9100 laptop (15.4 widescreen and 128mb ATI video card) am I subjected to fuzzy images/logos on websites while using Internet Explorer, but when I downloaded Firefox and began using it, no such issues?

While the text seems a little smaller, Firefox manages to resolve this annoyance. Any clues as to how I can resolve this in IE?

Here's an example and yes smart dithering is enabled and no, resize image is not enabled.

http://img9.exs.cx/img9/6108/IE-Image1.jpg

http://img9.exs.cx/img9/5815/FireFox-Image2.jpg

Rob Pegoraro: Do you have any kind of Web acceleration software running? A lot of those utilities automatically compress images to speed their downloads, but many of them also only work with Internet Explorer.

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Wayne, Pa. : Your otherwise excellent review of the program did not address the significant lack of privacy protection.

There are apparently a number of ways for limiting what gets indexed and who has access. However, in the fine print, Google retains the right not merely to alter those controls, BUT TO DO SO WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE.

This is an incredible blank check for users to sign.

Best wishes,

Carl

Rob Pegoraro: That's true enough, and I'm not about to give a blank check to anybody. However, if Google actually tried to pull a sneak attack on its users, it would be caught immediately--there are too many people who know how to use a firewall program, which would detect that kind of phoning home. The damage would be immense, while the possible business gain would be negligible.

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Potomac, Md.: Hi Rob - Thanks so much for your earlier column that recommended a switch to Mozilla. I can't tell you how much time this has saved me. I browse so much faster than with IE and I don't lose productivity constantly closing popups, and accepting or declining Spybot and Zone Alarm alerts. It's an infinitely more pleasant experience all around.

I haven't spent a lot of time bookmarking because the bookmarking tool on Mozilla seems so much more robust than IE's but also more complex. I also haven't figured out how to get bookmark folder window to stay open on the Mozilla screen. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Liz

Rob Pegoraro: There are two options--you can view it in a sidebar panel, to the left of the main browser window (pull the handle on the divider at the left window frame if the sidebar isn't open, then click on the Bookmarks heading), or you can select "Manage Bookmarks" from the Bookmarks menu.

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Last Train Home: Loved your mention of LTH on NPR last week!; Great band!; Heard they've got a new album coming out soon... Rock on!;

Rob Pegoraro: Product placement, baby! Couldn't resist giving a shout-out to my old colleague Eric Brace...

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Columbus, Ohio: Can you suggest a photo print program that allows for printing multiple photos (same or different photos) on one sheet of photo paper. For example, printing wallet photos on an 8 X 10 sheet. Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: Most of the photo-album programs that I've seen--iPhoto, Photoshop Album, Picture It!--allow this. Select a bunch of photos, select the Print command, specify wallet size, and you should get that option automatically.

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Arlington, VA: Rob, I'm extremely excited now that Verizon says it's bringing FTTP to Arlington(I originally heard it was coming only to Falls Church). However, I'm beginning to wonder what 5-30 Mbps will bring me. This doesn't seem as dramatic a jump as it was from dial-up to DSL/Cable. What am I missing?

Rob Pegoraro: I'm curious about this too. I think Verizon has to have TV service in mind--if they can become your voice, Internet and television provider, they've just checkmated the cable companies out of your life.

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New York: Why did they exclude ME from the program????

Rob Pegoraro: I have no idea. But, y'know, Windows Millennium Edition is now over four years old. That's a really long time in computing, and I expect the application-compatibility picture will only get worse for Windows Me users (it's much different under the hood compared to Win 2000/XP).

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USA: Hi Rob,

I enjoy your columns, but this is about an unrelated topic. I need a scanner. I have always avoided all-in-one units because I'm worried that one part of them will die young. And I have had odd experiences with peripherals. My Laserjet 5L from 1996 is still my main printer, but I seem to be able kill a scanner by using it lightly for one year.

But the all-in-ones in the $200-$300 range are looking pretty impressive. Not to mention the desk-space issue.

Any advice/reassurance? Are people getting a few years' good use out of the multifunction devices?

Rob Pegoraro: Can't say I've heard any complaints from readers on this score. I did have to get one Epson all-in-one replaced under warranty, but it was the print engine that failed, not the scanner.

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Bethesda, MD: So, Apple is opening a second store in Bethesda... pretty soon we'll have more Apple stores than Starbuckses... or maybe not...

Rob Pegoraro: You could put the Starbucks inside the Apple Store, too...

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Camp Hill PA: Hi Rob. Hope this is an easy one.

Say I have some MP3s from different sources. Some downloaded, some ripped from CD, whatever. I want to burn them all as a CD, but I want the volume to remain consistent throughout. Can anyone recommend a piece of software or a procedure to do that?

Rob Pegoraro: Yes. A lot of digital-music programs have this sort of volume-leveling option; iTunes includes it, and so does the paid Plus version of Musicmatch Jukebox.

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Crofton, Md.: Hi Rob,

Cell phone question; in the past 10 or more yrs, I've had about 5 different phones w/ Sprint, because after a few yrs, they just seem to stop working. It's happened to me again. My Sanyo phone now works intermittently, and getting a new battery didn't solve the problem. The sales guy at the store said, "this phone is pretty old, (less than 2 yrs!) and you should just get a new one, we can't fix this. So my two questions are, 1, do you buy what he said, and 2, if I was to buy a Treo 600 pda/cell ph, on eBay, what do I have to look for to be sure it can work with Sprint? Lots of the listings say "unlocked."

Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: 1) I do buy what the guy said; phones have advanced a lot in the past few years. I just don't get *how* the old phone went downhill that fast.

2) You'd need to make sure the Treo 600 is actually compatible with Sprint's service. If it says anything about it being "GSM," then it's not. You'd need a CDMA-compatible Treo. However, since PalmOne just introduced the Treo 650 today, I'd expect to see some good deals on new Treo 600s from Sprint itself in the near future.

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Peoria, Ill.: Hey Rob

Perhaps you could discuss the nightmare some people are having after downloading Microsoft's Service Pack 2.

It now takes me about 1 minute to find a web site using IE5, although the Google tool bar still works.

Its takes about a minute to find "my computer."

I can not do a system restore prior to the day I installed the service pack on Oct 13, can no longer get back to September.

Outlook still works and the Firefox still works.

I work at a University and the PC support person says he has machines backed up with similar problems.

I will likely have to reinstall the operating system

I have never been an anti-microsoft person, but I am getting there.

Cheers

Chris

washingtonpost.com: 'SP2' a Must For XP Users (Post, Aug. 15, 2004)

Rob Pegoraro: Yes, I have heard from some people who have had major trouble with SP2. But I have heard from a lot more people--it's about a 20 to 1 ratio--who haven't had any issues.

What this does point out, however, is the fragility of Windows in general. That's the real problem; if the storm blows over the tree in your backyard, the problem is with the tree being in a weakened condition, not the storm itself.

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Dunkirk, MD: I'm debating whether to spend the $700 necessary to install an off-air antenna and booster to get local HD transmissions. I've heard that DirecTV may begin offering local HD broadcasts by middle of next year. Any truth to that? I know I should ask DirecTV directly, but I can't break through the automated messages and the pre-written stock e-mail answers that don't directly answer my questions.

Rob Pegoraro: Here's the DirecTV PR about local HD service: "The first two of these satellites, Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2, will launch in 2005 with programming being offered to consumers by the middle of the year. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 500 local HD channels. With these satellites, DIRECTV will have the ability to bring local HD programming to most of the U.S. population, as well as continuing to expand standard-definition local offerings and other enhancements."

You might not need to spend that much on off-air DTV reception, BTW. (Can we get a link to the HD reception story, please?)

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Yankeetown, Fla.: Rob:

Do you have a feel for when we can expect to see mobos and PCs using the Intel i925XE that will give us the next pop in FSB speed? At one point the "roadmap" had that as 2004-Q4, but I can't tell if they still seem to be on track for that or not.

regards

Doug

Rob Pegoraro: Great place name there :)

To answer the question: I have no idea. This kind of development--an incremental boost in computing speed that most home users won't see any benefit from--is just not the sort of thing I try to cover in depth.

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Washington, DC: I have a C drive and a d drive. My computer has most of the programs on the c drive. I did a scan and defrag this weekend and the d drive went smoothly. The c drive never did complete the defrag or scan. It went on overnight and still did not complete. The desktop is 256 ram, Windows XP. What could the problem be?

Rob Pegoraro: Could be some corruption on the C: drive. Try running Norton Utilities, if you have that. Or try the SpinRite program we reviewed recently.

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Alexandria, VA: Not that I have anything to hide...BUT is there a way to delete items or clear the list of cached pages on that Google program?

What if I don't want my wife or kids or whoever being able to look back on any page I've viewed?

Rob Pegoraro: Yes. You can exclude entire folders from Google Desktop's indexing in its preferences screen, and you can also remove individual items from its index--click the "remove items" link at the top of each search screen.

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4-year old Handspring : My old beloved simple handspring is dying. I am transferring jobs and hoping the new job will cover one with phone/email capability. It might not, but till then I need my appointments with me, and I want one that can give a me 9-12 months good service in case the new company balks at an immediate upgrade. The Tungsten E I bought would not sync with my laptop while it was in a docking station, and when Support told me to "just" turn off, undock, reboot, sync, turn off, redock, and reboot every day to sync, I returned it. What product will get me thru' 7/2005 and still sync with my docked laptop?

Rob Pegoraro: First, not sure why your T E isn't syncing with your laptop--I've never had a problem syncing any Palm OS handheld with a Windows machine in years. Are you syncing to a USB port on the laptop itself, or one on the docking station? (Try the one on the laptop.)

If you want a phone/handheld combo running the Palm OS, the Treo 600 or 650 is the way to go.

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Copenhagen, Denmark: As a part-time resident,3-4 months a year, in Naples, Florida I want to set up a high speed internet connection (I take my Toshiba,Satellite A45-S250 with me to and from Florida and Copenhagen) without having to establish a regular phone line as the monthly subscription is pretty expensive. I think that my TV-cable is COMCAST. Can I do it via COMCAST or do you have other non-expensive ways?

Yours sincerely,

Henrik

Rob Pegoraro: Comcast won't work for you... I'm not sure anybody would, since I can't think of any broadband ISPs that cover both Demark and Florida. Maybe sign up with a WiFi provider in each place, then open and close accounts as needed? Any ideas for Copenhagen?

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Takoma Park, MD: Hi Rob,

I was wondering if you or any of the chatters have had any "real world" experience with running with either an I-Pod or I-Pod mini. I was wondering how durable they might be against the pounding you take when running.

I have a Creative Zen Xtra which they tell me I shouldn't run with (and I don't) but which still managed to break again (hard on the heels of my Creative Nomad Jukebox breaking down). I am going to switch companies and so was wondering about the I-Pod.

Thanks for the chats. Everyone learns a lot.

Rob Pegoraro: I have gone running with an iPod mini, and it worked fine--except that the headphones Apple provides get jostled loose too easily. But I haven't done this over an extended period of time. Any iPod-listening runners out there?

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Arlington, VA: I am moving into a new place and thinking about not getting a land-line-phone/dsl/cable. But internet is still a necessity. How difficult would it be to get a blue-tooth cellphone & hook up to the internet thorough that? And do you have any suggestions about how to do it?

Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: I don't recommend that. The cell-phone connection will be too slow for most people's taste, and you'll get completely shelled on usage charges.

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Dunedin, Fla.: I always assumed that IE was the ONLY browser out there! From your newsletter I gather this is not so. Which alternative browser would you recommend for XP? Where does one buy the others? How much? What about virus problems? How does one open multiple browser sessions? How does one set up the tabbed browser sessions?

Thanks!

Jo

Rob Pegoraro: Mozilla Firefox. It's free: www.mozilla.org. Look for a 1.0 release in the next few weeks, but it's fine to use in its current state.

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Warrenton, Va.: I'm about to order a new home computer, but I'm extremely concerned about its quickly becoming infected with adware/spyware. Is there any software I can get that will offer complete protection from this stuff?

Rob Pegoraro: Yeah--Linux or Mac OS X. I was going to put a :) after that, but I'm serious; if you don't want to be bothered with spyware and don't need to run any Windows-only programs, you ought to look at a non-Windows operating system.

Otherwise, you should download and install Mozilla Firefox and make that your default browser, be choosy about installing strange programs and keep a spyware monitor like AdAware Personal handy. And make sure you keep a firewall program (either the one built into Windows, or ZoneAlarm) running at all times.

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Cedarburg, Wis.: What's up with Quicken upgrading to 2005 Deluxe? They have been hyping it for month's through emails and on their website and when you use Quicken.

Well I tried to upgrade and have had nothing but problems. Latest round is to send their tech guys my conversion log and they will get back to me in 3-5 business days. All this time I am without my primary bill paying method. I'm not even sure if my autopay bills will be paid.

If they would have spent more money on the product and less on the marketing it would have been a better thing....

Just want to know it this is an isolated incident or the beginning of a meltdown for Quicken...

Rob Pegoraro: I think it's in the middle. Intuit is acting a lot like a stereotypically lazy monopolist, cranking out an unimpressive release and touting it as if it's a big deal. The problem is, Intuit doesn't have a monopoly. The Money developers at Microsoft are anxious to take a chunk out of Quicken's market share.

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Vienna, Va.: Hi Rob,

I have a Palm m130 that I want to replace this holiday season. I don't use wireless or e-mail currently and don't see that changing. What are your recommendations for the following scenarios: unlimited budget and $200-300? Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: Palm Tungsten E, $200.

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Bowie, Md.: Rob,

I have only recently started reading your column but you have my nomination for a cover on Time.

Q1 I use Firefox and Thunderbird as my default browser and mail reader. I have noticed the claim that they are more secure than IE and Outlook.

a. Do you agree?

b. I have NOT uninstalled IE or Outlook, I only switched the defaults. Is this a security issue?

Q2 (Still on security, but I think of broad interest): I'm not really clear on what Spyware is, but I understand it to be bad. I have McAffee 8.0.0. I get automatic updates. I have set my AutomaticUpdates from Microsoft to "Everyday". Will this stuff find Spyware or does it only protect from viruses? Spyware is different from a virus, right? And is there something else I should be doing? No trouble yet, but I would like to keep it that way. I am running Windows 2000 Professional. Oh. BTW, I will still get my automatic updates from MS, even though I don't use IE I hope. True?

Best wishes and thanks,

Ken

Rob Pegoraro: The only Time cover I'm ever going to appear on will be a story about "How to torture editors by filing at the latest possible minute" :)

1) a) Yes, I agree.

1) b) It is an issue in that IE can still be invoked in some cases, but it's not because you can't uninstall IE anyway. (Outlook, OTOH, can't get invoked by random files in the way that IE sometimes is, and you can uninstall that--but not Outlook Express--if you so desire.)

2) I think your version of McAfee does watch out for spyware, but you should get a second opinion to see if it's missing anything--download AdAware Personal (www.lavasoftusa.com) and see if it finds any untrusted programs afoot.

You can get the updates to Windows without running IE--turn on automatic updates in the System control panel.

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Irvington, N.J.: Have you tried the Maxthon shell for IE? It provides tabbed browsing using IE and a lot of other conveniences like saving links to groups of web pages with custom names. Since it is a shell for IE it the Google desktop search works with it. Plus it's free.

Rob Pegoraro: I'm not a fan of any of these IE-shell browsers--Maxthon (formerly MyIE2, AvantBrowser and others), since they still leave you with IE's own security issues. Plus, they have some of the most hideously cluttered interfaces I've ever seen. If you like the looks of Lotus Notes, you'll love these things.

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Washington, DC: I can think of one reason to shell out more bucks for a high end PDA. The Garmin 3600 with GPS. I used it in my car this weekend to navigate up north. Great for people without the built in GPS in their cars. Do you know when a new version of this PDA is coming out, Rob?

Rob Pegoraro: Already shipped--Garmin introduced a smaller model called the iQue 3200 this summer. http://www.garmin.com/products/iQue3200/

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Monterey,CA: A basic digital camera question:

I have yet to buy a digital camera. I have all HP computer hardware. Is there a real advantage for me to buy an HP camera, or will pretty much any brand (Olympus, Canon in particular) work with my PC without having to buy additional stuff to hook it up?

Thank you.

Rob Pegoraro: Pretty much any brand should work. IF you have to choose between Canon and Olympus, get a Canon camera--Olympus uses a much more expensive, non-standard kind of memory card.

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Rockville, MD: It would seem that viruses, worms, spyware and adware affect exclusively PC with Microsoft operating systems. Are Apple-Macs immune to these parasites? What security precautions do you recommend for Mac users?

Thank you, Robert.

Rob Pegoraro: Mac OS X isn't "immune" to malware, but it is much more resistant to it. And there just isn't that much of it out there; the stuff that is can't be spread in e-mail and requires a user to install it him or herself (which can be possible if they're tricked by phony packaging).

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Wash, DC: My organization prevents me from installing any 'serious' (my word) software on my C: drive. 'Serious' loosely includes that which modifies the registry. Does Google Desk Top Search modify the registry? Will it work from an install on a network (G: or H: ) drive (avoiding restrictions on C:)?

Rob Pegoraro: You can only install Google Desktop from the C: drive (it will only index the C: drive as well). Not sure if it modifies the registry, but I would imagine that the other components it loads (the background indexing programs) would by themselves run afoul of your employer's policies.

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Bowie, MD: I once had a handheld that was evidently sensitive to static electricity of the kind that could be generated by wool trousers in dry weather. The unreliability of that device -- which I have since discarded -- has made me nervous about relying on handhelds generally. Any news on whether new technology has addressed this particular problem?

Rob Pegoraro: There was a batch of old Palm handhelds (Palm Vs, I think) that had static-electricity issues. But I think I remember those only happened during hot-sync procedures.

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Washington, D.C: Regarding the problem individuals are having with SP2, both HP and Compaq help desks are recommending that individuals don't install SP2. When I called the help desk for these companies regarding what to check before installing SP2, I was told that they don't recommend the upgrade. In addition, CNET is having a week long feature about problems with SP2.

Rob Pegoraro: If HP/Compaq thinks this update is so bad, why don't they say so on the page on their tech-support site? http://www.hp.com/pond/windowsxp/index.htm

Instead, it's full of directions on how to install this update.

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Washington Dc: Converting from Windows to Apple?? I have a windows pc at home and am considering buying a notebook to use as a second portable computer. How many problems would I be creating for myself if I bought an Apple notebook? How difficult would it be to go back and forth? I've heard of a program that allows you to run windows-based programs on Apple. Does it work well? Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: We've got a review of Virtual PC, the program you're talking about, in Sunday's paper (well, if all goes well!). In general, switching from Windows to Mac isn't that hard, in the sense of learning a new interface. The problems that can come up are generally in the realm of software and hardware compatibility--you might have to learn a completely new program to do the same task on a Mac.

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Arlington, VA: Hi Rob..Have you tried out these new "wireless TVs" made by Sony? They also have a touchscreen so you can browse the internet through your wireless lan? Any thoughts on these devices?

Rob Pegoraro: You mean the LocationFree lineup? I'm curious, but also skeptical of the prices--$1,500 and up, IIRC. That seems to be in the "toys for the rich" category.

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Plainsboro, NJ: Rob,

Have you heard anything about potential legislation in Congress that points towards charges for the Internet based on the number of clicks?

Rob Pegoraro: No, and that will never happen. It would be technologically impossible and political suicide.

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Manassas, VA: I've heard rumors of Google Desktop entering passwords automatically from what's been previously entered. One colleague told me that he went to a public library and was able to access e-mail accounts after installing Desktop. Any truth to this?

Rob Pegoraro: Google Desktop doesn't auto-fill passwords, although you can set Google Toolbar--or IE or Mozilla or most other browsers--to save passwords.

Google Desktop will cough up recent mail activity, whether in a Web browser or Outlook, and on a public computer that's going to include other people's use. That's what it's *designed* to do. Fortunately, this program--unlike real snooping programs, which are built to hide themselves from view--makes it simple to stop that monitoring temporarily. Click the system-tray icon and select "pause indexing."

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San Jose, CA: Hey Rob.

If it's not too late to help the guy with the fuzzy Inspiron 9100 display problem, he should try this:

- Go to Display properties

- Click on the Settings tab, then Advanced

- Check the DPI setting and make sure it is set to "Normal size" (96 DPI). If it is set to 120 DPI you can get the fuzzy IE display

Hope this helps!;

Rob Pegoraro: Passing that along. Thanks!

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Olney, MD : Rob, on older Win98 machines in particular, I often had to start the computer in safe mode to fully scan and defrag the HDD, because Windows and other programs keep accessing it (i.e., the swap file). I don't know if that still applies in WinXP, but I'd try that next if I were DC.

Rob Pegoraro: Good suggestion. Thanks...

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Mount Vernon Plaza, WDC: Rob:

What is "virtual memory" and why do my systems close when Windows increases the size of my virtual memory? And how come when Windows says its increasing the size of my virtual memory it doesn't? I click on Virtual Memory in "System" and it's the same size. I've set it as high as I can and to no avail. I didn't have this problem before two months ago but I did a Windows Update and then "virtual memory" problems. What gives?

Owner of Dell Inspiron

Rob Pegoraro: Virtual memory is a part of a hard disk that the operating system uses as a supplement to real memory. It's an essential part of any modern operating system, but you don't want to lean on it too heavily or your performance will suffer--a hard disk is much slower than real memory.

The default settings in Windows should be fine left alone; I'd focus on how much RAM you've got. At this point, I think 512 MB is realistic minimum for anybody.

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Crystal City VA: What's the difference between the Mozilla browser and Firefox?

Rob Pegoraro: Firefox is simpler and faster and easier, but it leaves out the e-mail, Web-authoring and Internet-relay chat components of the full Mozilla program.

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North Potomac, MD: I recently reformatted the hard drive on a PC and restored it to the original factory settings, which include Norton AntiVirus 2002. Is Norton AV 2002--updated with the latest patches--OK, or should I buy a newer version?

Rob Pegoraro: Should be OK--as long as you get the latest antivirus definitions.

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Lake Ridge, VA: I'm a pretty basic digital photo taker, but I'd like to be able to do some basic photo manipulation to include cropping, rotating, limited zooming, and limited auto-enhancing. I've got an older computer running Win98, so nothing like Photoshop. On the other hand, Microsoft Picture It which came with my PC is an obnoxious piece of software that handholds you through the process and allows little user control. Any suggestions on what software might be good (preferably avoiding Microsoft products)?

Rob Pegoraro: I was going to recommend Photoshop Album, but that requires Win Me or newer. We're going to have a review of a couple of other photo-album apps in a week or two, though, if you can wait.

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Washington, DC: Hi, Rob. I have a Mac inquiry for you: It looks like a coffee spill has finally done in my beloved 1st generation clam-shell iBook. I'm thinking of replacing it with a G4 iBook and I'm wondering if the AirPort card that's currently in the old laptop will work in the new one, or do today's models only accept the "extreme" card?

Thanks!;

Rob Pegoraro: Today's models only accept the Extreme card--but it's now a standard component anyway. Sell your old AirPort card on eBay; there's a pretty good market for those since Apple stopped making them.

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Re: Converting from Windows to Apple: There is one small design issue that a longtime PC user may want to keep in mind when considering moving to a Mac: the mouse. I occasionally try to use my father's Mac, and the one-button mouse drives me insane!; I am far too used to having a right mouse button, and it baffles me that Apple has never adopted this feature. I know that there are control-key workarounds for the right button, but I'm used to using the mouse, not the keyboard, and the difference is grating.

Rob Pegoraro: Actually, this is what my brother was complaining about the other day. What you can do is buy any old USB two-button mouse and plug it into the Mac--it should work immediately, without needing any extra drivers.

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Chantilly, VA: Rob, I've installed Google Desktop and think it's great. I've been looking for a better way to search e-mails for a long time. Question: How does its index work? Does it really store copies of every Web page it indexes, every e-mail I read or send, and every document I work on? Shouldn't that take up a huge amount of space on my hard drive? Do Web pages leave its index when they leave IE's "history"?

Rob Pegoraro: It doesn't store copies of everything; it just indexes their contents, while caching only some documents (text and Microsoft Office files). The Google index is only up to 150 megs or so on this computer.

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san jose, ca: Google Search is dangerous for privacy! The tool is wonderful for indexing files you have sitting around, but it needs a "scrub" feature where it checks to see if a file/email still exists and removes it from the google cache after a user-settable number of days.

Here's why it matters. Suppose you get an email you want to delete for privacy reasons. You delete it and think its gone from your computer. Wrong! Google may have indexed it, and if so it is around forever. Or if you're editing a sensitive file and don't save it, google probably has some copies of it anyway if you have "autosave" on in Word.

They call this a "feature" since you can find things you may have accidentally deleted. I call it a flaw, because sometimes you WANT to delete files or messages.

Rob Pegoraro: This feature is already there--the "remove items" command, plus the "pause indexing" command.

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Clifton, Va.: HDTV holdout I am waiting for someone Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba etc to produce a RPTV that deliver 1920x180i or p for under $6k with a screen of between 50 to 60in diagonally. I refuse to buy 1280x720p or whatever since I am only getting a third of the total available pixels. With HDDVD almost here I refuse for a HDTV that can not deliver the complete HDTV viewing experience. The difference between 720 p and 1080i is very noticeable. How long will I have to wait?

Rob Pegoraro: Not much longer, I think. I guarantee you'll be waiting a lot longer for any high-def DVDs to watch.

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Rob Pegoraro: That's it for me--I've got a busy day here, plus there's some free pie to eat. I should be here next Monday to talk about the cell-phone issue; stay out of trouble in the meantime. Go Sox!

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© 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
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