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Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Personal Technology Columnist
Tuesday, February 21, 2006; 2:00 PM

The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro was online for a discussion to answer your personal tech questions and discuss recent reviews of Apple's upgraded iLife multimedia package and two digital cameras .

A transcript follows .

Want to know what upcoming topics are being covered? Sign up for the Fast Forward e-letter -- get updated information on personal technology news and product demos.

Past editions of Rob's e-letter are online here .

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Rob Pegoraro: Good afternoon... lots of potential chat fodder this week: my review of Apple's iLife suite two Sundays ago, Sunday's review of two new digital cameras, the recent news about Mac malware and, if all else fails, everybody's attempts to keep up with the Olympics online. Let's get started!

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Seattle, Washington: Whatever became of the big rollout of Microsoft's Xbox 360. There are very few to be had. Clearly something went wrong, or was this shortage manufactured?

Rob Pegoraro: I try to guess all the possible chat topics, and of course I miss this one! No, I highly doubt that the ongoing Xbox shortage was "manufactured." It wouldn't make any sense to have shortages persisting for this long after launch.

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Reston, VA: Today, I hate both Apple and Windows -- I'm about ready to bring my old workplace buddy -- Linux -- home to stay. I had been using iTunes with XP to listen to podcasts, download music, etc. A couple of weeks ago -- nothing else changed on my system -- I got error messages saying that iTunes had been installed incorrectly. Some googling implied that I should reinstall iTunes. However, iTunes no longer installs!!! Everything moves along wonderfully until I receive an 'installation interrupted' message right at the end of the process. Apparently, this is an issue many folks have had. Apparently, this is an issue that none of the workaround that have done the trick for other folks works for me. My action of last resort was uninstalling service pack 2. But guess what? Service Pack 2 won't uninstall. The fix for many folks in this situation? Reinstall XP from scratch. While MS surely deserves some of the blame, iTunes is the _ONLY_ software I've had this problem with -- and it seems that this has been an iTunes problem for some time. Someone, shoot me now!

Rob Pegoraro: I'm all out of bullets, Reston, so I can't oblige you in your request :)

Whatever else is wrong with your computer, I don't see how uninstalling or removing SP2 would fix any of them. You'd only make your computer grotesquely insecure afterwards.

As for the iTunes problem--your post is the first I'd seen about this particular issue. (My first thought: Does iTunes show up in Add or Remove Programs? If so, yank it from there before you try reinstalling it.) Anybody with advice for Reston about this, or at least tea and sympathy?

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Alexandria, VA: Although iWeb allows the user to create several types of web pages and tie them together, the templates are, unfortunately, really clumsy. Unlike other blogging tools, iWeb's templates float around like elements on a PowerPoint slide. At first I thought this was great--no need to stumble through the html page template to get things the way I want them. Unfortunately, after spending an hour tweaking the characteristics of my page, dragging text boxes, changing fonts, etc., I realized that when I started a new page the original template is back! There's no way to customize how your page looks with out going through it every time you make a new entry. Is this going to change any time soon? Does Apple have plans to allow people to save changes to a layout, or at least spawn a new page that has the same layout as the last one you just made?

Rob Pegoraro: Maybe iLife 2007 will include these features? I wouldn't expect to see them before then; historically, Apple hasn't been in the habit of adding features to iLife with its periodic bug-fix releases.

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Seattle, WA: Hi Rob. Considering the eventual release of TiVo Series 3 would it still be wise to invest in a Tivo Series 2 at this point in time? By the way, I don't have digital cable (just regular cable) and don't have a need (at this point) for HDTV capable recordings. Thanks!

Rob Pegoraro: I don't think I can answer that--TiVo's next-gen, HD-ready, CableCard-enabled Series 3 has been in the works for so long that I don't even want to predict when it shows up.

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Reston 2-0-1-9-0: Hi Rob Some months ago I heard rumors of a keystroke logger that appeared on some OS X systems, but couldn't (rapidly, anyway) track down a diagnostic tool to detect it. Would that be something ClamXav would expose?

Rob Pegoraro: (This is one of three different questions I'm seeing from this city and Zip code, BTW. I would like to remind everybody that I do welcome input from other Fairfax County Zip codes as well.)

I doubt ClamXav, the free, open-source anti-virus app for OS X, would find these keyloggers unless they're distributed as actual malware. (There are keyloggers for OS X, but all of them, last I checked, required physical access to a machine by an admin and were sold above-board, as software that a company or school might load to monitor employee or student use.)

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Washington, DC: I'm a devoted but not overly tech-y Mac user. Lots of stuff in the news lately about OS X vulnerabilities. Is it time to panic yet?

Rob Pegoraro: No. If Apple doesn't crank out some security updates for the recently-revealed vulnerabilities (including one stupid bug that came to light this weekend, after I'd filed my newsletter), you should be angry--but not panicked. All of the attacks that have been outlined so far can be defeated by simple configuration changes (like not having Safari "open 'safe' files automatically") and applying basic common-sense to the files you choose to download and open on your computer. And unless you cough up the admin password every time an application asks for it, none of these attacks could do that much damage in the long run anyway.

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Ocean View, DE: Hoping you can help this non-techie here, Rob.

After depleting almost all of my laptop's 55gb HD with iTunes music and didgipix, I bit the bullet and bought an external MAXTOR 200 GB drive yesterday... any clues how I migrate my iPod/iTunes from my C drive to my new H drive? And how I teach iTunes to download all subsequent tunes to the new drive? Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: Hit the iTunes Edit menu, select Preferences and then click the Advanced tab to change where iTunes stores music.

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i-XP Issues: iTunes and XP - makes sure only one user is logged on. This fixed my problems, also with the iPod giving a "don't disconnect" msg and no "safely remove hardware" icon.

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks!

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PA, CA: Thanks for taking my question.

I have a Pbook G4 with the new iLife. I want to use it, but I can't find a good tutorial or book on it, and the Apple support does not give you much. Can you recommend a solution?

Rob Pegoraro: Have you used the built-in Help? Each one comes with a pretty good (in my experience) introduction to what these applications do--and if you're like most folks, you'll probably only be using iPhoto at the start, which is far more approachable than the rest of the bundle.

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Winchester, Va.: Hello. Thanks for the chats. Always informative. I have an off-topic question. What is the financial benefit of residential VOIP. If you have to have a phone line already, and an internet connection, I don't see a great benefit to further paying for the VOIP subscription. Perhaps a few dollars saved, but another bill to pay, another potential headache to have, it seems to me. Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: A VoIP line can save you money in a few different ways:

1) You get one as a second or third line (say, for the kids)

2) You spend a lot of time making long-distance or international phone calls, both of which are far cheaper over VoIP than in any landline-based calling plan

3) You ditch the voice line entirely, which is entirely possible if you have cable-modem Internet or "naked" DSL, where no voice service is bundled with the DSL.

(In the last case, you do need to verify that your VoIP provider delivers complete 911 service to your location.)

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Bruno, Washington D.C.: Rob:

Hoping you can help. I'll be heading to Graduate School this fall where nearly all students purchase the laptops from school (which are pretty expensive $2500+). I am concerned about buying one of these laptops in June considering Vista and Word 2007 will be coming out in the Fall/Winter. What would you do? Would you make such an expensive purchase knowing key software will be updated in mere months?

Thanks!

Rob Pegoraro: My general answer: Just because "key software" will be updated doesn't mean that you have to buy it right away. I can't see any scenario in which not running Windows Vista would stop you from doing anything in grad school. That said, Vista looks to be a very big upgrade--as well it should, considering it's been five years since Microsoft last shipped a new version of Windows!--and you shouldn't buy a computer that would stop you from using Vista. So I suggest getting one with a gigabyte of memory and a graphics card--not an integrated chipset--with at least 64 megabytes of memory.

My specific answer: Nobody should have to spend $2,500 on a laptop for grad school--well, not unless you'll be majoring in video games or computer programming. I think you'd be much better off buying a laptop elsewhere that meets whatever specific hardware requirements your school cites.

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Falls Church, VA: Verizon is starting to offer fiber optic broadband, but I hear it doesn't work with Macs. Any info? Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: Yeah--you heard wrong. There's nothing about the new Fios service that stops a Mac user (or a Linux user, or anybody running an Internet-ready operating system) from using it.

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Alexandria, VA: Dear Rob:

Either the Post hasn't reviewed any new games, or the review link from your newsletter has been broken for at least 3-4 weeks. It keeps linking to the Dec 25 reviews of Cold War and Shawdows of Colossus.

washingtonpost.com: The game reviews recently moved from the Sunday Personal Tech page to Weekend. We're working to update the e-letter links.

Rob Pegoraro: By "recently," BTW, we mean starting on the first Friday of January. We did run notices about this in print and in my newsletter.

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Bethesda, MD: I'd assume that the authors of tech articles know there's a difference between a virus and a trojan-- so, why is this being ignored in all the 'Macs attacked by virus' articles?

Rob Pegoraro: A virus, by definition, is a program that has to exploit other programs to spread copies of itself--if it didn't need that help, it would be a worm. This Mac virus exploits a bug in OS X to send copies of itself via iChat.

But, really, why are we having this debate at all? Do you really think that telling people "Oh, it's not a virus, it's only a trojan horse" will make them feel better about the situation if they have to clean this thing off their hard drive?

(Granted, I'd much rather clean up this application than any Windows virus.)

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Detroit, Michigan: Apple states that their latest version of iDVD will work with certain third-party external DVD burners, without the need for Roxio Toast. Yet when I look on their website I cannot find any information on which DVD burners are compatible. Do you know which ones will work? (I have a 1.25 GHz eMac with a combo drive.)

Rob Pegoraro: Y'know, I can't find any such list myself. But the comments I have read in Apple's tech-support discussions forum (discussions.apple.com) suggest that most name-brand drives do function properly in iDVD 6.

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Washington, DC: Good afternoon, I must have gotten it wrong but I thought there was going to be some discussion about the Hacker who appeared in yesterday's Post Magazine section?

What did you think of the story? And still lots of folks do not bother with security for their computers and one last question - are all those folks who copied XP from a friend's disc so they do not have a legitimate copy at risk or are they allowed to download updates and patches??? Thanks

washingtonpost.com: That discussion began at 1:00. Here's the transcript .

Rob Pegoraro: I thought Brian did a great job with that story (although I do agree with the critique that it could have spelled out the thus-far Windows-only nature of the botnet problem more clearly). I couldn't help noticing, BTW, that Brian's piece ran the same day as Philip Pan's story about China's Web censorship: What if all these kids living in their parents' basements ever decided to prove their 133t hAx0rz ("elite hacker") status by hacking the PRC's firewalls instead of random grandparents' computers?

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Reston, VA: Rob,

For security and housekeeping reasons, I clear out my browser cache, history, and cookies after almost every online session. I was wondering, is there a way to somehow designate or tag specific cookies for retention so they are not deleted? For example, I like to visit washingtonpost.com and always have to enter in my login and password every time.

I use Safari on my Mac and Firefox on my laptop PC.

Bill

Rob Pegoraro: You're working WAY too hard, Reston. Safari already blocks the cookies set by third-party sites (like ad networks) by default, so your exposure to "tracking cookies" is negligible or zero in the first place. If you do visit a site that you consider sketchy, the version of Safari in Tiger has a "private browsing" option--under the Safari menu--that will erase all records of your online activity once you conclude the private-browsing session.

Unsolicited editorial comment: I really really really really wish that people would quit wasting time like Reston has been. Time spent on this kind of computing voodoo is time that can't be spent keeping your software up to date against real threats--or, y'know, getting some actual utility and enjoyment out of the computer.

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Fairfax, Va.: Apple is upgrading some of its software so that it works on the new intel processors, including final cut pro. Have you heard anything about when they will release the new version of final cut express?

Rob Pegoraro: No.

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Jackson, NJ: Hello... Do you know of any way of loading my videos from a SamsungSCD67 digital video camera into any part of my Mac....I'm running Tiger and it's just not recognizing the camera.....the same happened with Panther and also all forms of ILIFE.......Bob

Rob Pegoraro: Are you connecting the camcorder via USB 2.0? If so, get yourself a FireWire cable--iLife, like other video editors (for instance, Adobe Premiere Elements), won't recognize cameras patched in over USB.

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Baltimore, MD: I have an iMac and use Firefox. For email, I use Yahoo's web-based application. When I compose an email, I recently noticed that there is kind of toolbar that is empty above the window that contains the message being constructed.

When I passed my mouse over the empty toolbar, prompt boxes appeared. The toolbar apparently contains font, color, and other styling aids for the message being composed.

In Safari, the toolbar doesn't even show up.

In IE, the toolbar shows up with the proper icons visible.

How can I make the icons visible in Firefox; how can I get the toolbar even show up in Safari? Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: I think you'd have to ask Yahoo those questions--there are ways to make the same interface available in all current browsers, but Yahoo hasn't implemented them yet. See, for example, Gmail.

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Charleston, W.Va.: I'm tearing my hair out over Verizon DSL service. We recently switched phone services from AT&T to Verizon, which caused the Verizon DSL to konk out. Called Verizon and was told that we need to downgrade to Verizon dial up to retain our e-mail address, password, etc. After a day or two of dial-up, THEN we can upgrade back to the DSL with our original e-mail address. It was do this, or cancel and reorder DSL service (also causing me to send back modem, etc.)and start over with new e-mail address and password. This sounds crazy to me. Does this make sense? It's like we're being punished for switching to Verizon phone service.

Rob Pegoraro: As far as I can figure out, the people at Verizon in charge of provisioning DSL service are in WAY OVER their heads. The company seems to have a pretty good DSL offering if you can ever get connected, but too many people are getting sandbagged before they can get that far.

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Gaithersburg, MD: This is completely off-topic, but hopefully you can offer some suggestions. About a year ago, I bought an HP laptop with a large screen--it weighs a ton, but I thought the screen would make up for it. After a few backbreaking air trips, I'm wishing that I'd gone with the 12-inch iBook that I also considered. Problem is, my budget doesn't really cover buying a new laptop every year. Is there anywhere I can sell a used computer, besides the usual eBay route?

Rob Pegoraro: The Washington Post has an extremely widely-read classified-ads section, with very reasonable rates!

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, I read your column about iLife '06, with particular interest in the new iPhoto. I have thousands of photos on my Mac and, obviously, it's totally bogging down my current version of iPhoto. Sloooooooow.

Could you elaborate on how the new iPhoto will (purportedly) make my photo organizing faster? Is it worth getting iLife?

I fooled around with iPhoto Buddy a bit but it seemed cumbersome.

Thanks! Cheers!

Rob Pegoraro: Apple says the old iPhoto was certified only up to 25,000 photos, while the new one can handle up to 250,000. (No, I didn't verify that myself.) In my own tests--including daily operation on a four-year-old iMac G4--I can verify that iPhoto 6 does feel notably quicker on its feet than iPhoto 5.

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Washington DC: Unchecking the option in Safari does not entirely mitigate the vulnerability. It is a vulnerability in OSX, not Safari.

See isc.sans.org.

Rob Pegoraro: Yes, but with that option unchecked you have to actually do something to get the Terminal script to run. That's the least you can ask from any operating system--don't let me get into trouble for doing nothing.

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Baltimore, MD: I've read (on CNet) that HDTV's should be calibrated. I just got a Samsung 50" DLP and don't want to shell out $300-400 for a 'professional' to do it. Is it really worth it, or are there calibration DVD's that I can buy to adjust the image quality?

Rob Pegoraro: Yes, there are calibration DVDs--the one I almost always see cited is called "Video Essentials," but I haven't tried it out myself. You could also just use your own eyeballs; pop in a DVD you know well and adjust the TV's settings until the movie looks right.

But dropping $300 or $400 to have a video tech visit your house? I mean, it's only TV we're talking here... let's try to get a grip on our spending.

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Takoma Park, MD: Good iLife books exist by Jim Heid and the one called iLife the missing manual - individually the iPhoto missing manual books have been fabulous.

None are updated yet for iLife 06, sadly.

Rob Pegoraro: Not surprised to hear that the guidebooks are out of date--Apple doesn't reveal details about upcoming releases to any but a few outsiders (myself not included), so most writers have to catch up on iLife '06 before writing about it.

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Arlington, VA: Hey Rob, I recently deleted a piece of software from my iMAC G5 and then I re-installed a few days later, but it "remembered" all my personal settings for that software. Did the software not completely delete the first time?

Rob Pegoraro: A properly-written Mac application will store your preferences in your user account's Library folder. Trashing the application doesn't delete that folder, but in most cases it's not worth worrying about--leftover prefs files don't clog up a Mac the way leftover system-registry entries gunk up a Windows PC.

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Balimer, MD: Hi Rob- I have a D-Link Di-624 Wireless Router. An eMac is connected directly to it, and we have two PowerBooks around the house. I had always had at least WEP security. However, since updating all the computers to Mac OS 10.4, I experienced occasional dropouts, and I'd have to trudge upstairs to restart the router to get either of the laptops to reconnect. So, I updated the firmware on the router. Now I can't get WEP or WPA to work! I do, however, suppress the ID of the wireless network. So my question is this: how much danger am I in? Without knowing the name of the network, can anyone else get on it? And when I am browsing a secure site, how secure is it if I am using a wireless connection?

Rob Pegoraro: Other people can still jump on your network and start sniffing your data if they're running any of a few easily obtained wireless-networking utilities. If there isn't any newer D-Link firmware, I would try removing the old updates and restoring it to factory condition (the manual should have info on how to do that, assuming it's possible at all--I know you can do that with Apple's AirPort wireless hardware).

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wash dc: For the guy/gal selling a laptop, Craigslist works well. No fees, local sales, etc.

washingtondc.craigslist.org

Rob Pegoraro: Well, there is that. But have I mentioned that the Washington Post has a very widely-read classified ads section, with very reasonable rates?

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Rockville, MD: Rob: Re Ubuntu Breezy Badger edition on an AMD 64 bit computer. I've loaded and brought it "up". It accepts my login and pw, then following a disclaimer it takes me to a repetition of my user name an pw and asks for a command to bring up the graphical user interface. The request for a command is preceded by $. I can't find anyone (including emails to Ubuntu) who can tell me what command to issue. Can someone help on this matter?

Rob Pegoraro: I've been meaning to install the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, but I haven't gotten around to it. Can anybody help out Rockville?

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Issaquah, Wash.: I have been blocking all incoming email that looks like spam on my XP Media Center system. I wonder how to manage this huge list of unwanted emailers?

Rob Pegoraro: If you're using the message rules built into Outlook Express, you might as well not bother. They only block messages from individual senders or with individual subject headers, and spammers change those all the time. What you need is a spam filter that learns from experience--like, say, the one built into Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5, a free e-mail client that, unlike OE, has been updated since 1999 or so.

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Reston, VA 20190: Hi-a personal experience re/DVD drives and Macs, and a question. About 2 months back I bought a DVD reader/burner from a major outlet and the techie there said "sure, it will work for OS X." But the Mac wouldn't recognize it. I then scrutinized the box carefully, and discovered it said, basically, Windows required. I took it back and went looking for one whose box said Mac compatible. To my surprise, none claiming that were for sale there or in another major outlet. So... does iLife 6 have some special software that enables the Mac to see the just about any DVD drive, and if so would the OS X Mac be able to see this in applications other than iDVD, do you think? Finder would be one place, of course.

Rob Pegoraro: Most storage and printing devices these days aren't actually operating-system specific, but if drivers aren't included with them it'll be up to the host operating system to recognize them on its own. What make/model is this DVD drive?

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Kodak 570: I know it's off topic but I must report that I purchased the Kodak 570 last weekend. I love it! It was on my short list for some time, but your review cemented my interest. I'm looking forward to great picture taking.

Rob Pegoraro: Glad to hear it's working out for you!

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: I desperately need your help. Both my husband and I use computers at the office but neither of us is particularly computer savvy (as far as anything other than use). I think that at this point we need to have a computer at home and feel we should have a PC or desktop - he feels as though a notebook would be fine for our use. Each person that I talk to about this subject has a different opinion from MIS people at work to friends' teenagers. Once that is settled then I come to buying from Dell on line or going to Best Buy/Circuit City. The availability of The Geek Squad is what is making me look at BB. All of this indecision is wearing me down. Please some guidance first in what you would think would be appropriate for us (some letters, internet use for banking and research) perhaps an iPod (therefore would need something for music) and also if you could direct me to some appropriate research sites or reading materials. I appreciate your time and thanks for helping a novice.

Rob Pegoraro: First, I wouldn't rule out a Mac. None of the uses you cited would rule out getting an Apple--which I think you'd find would be a lot easier to live with over time than a PC, especially after adding up the costs of any Geek Squad interventions.

Second, here's my most recent column on what to look for in a computer:

Ground Rules for Buying on the Cutting Edge: home computer

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Washington DC - 20008: Piggybacking on the Verizon DSL, I had horrible cust service w/them after my rooommate decided to move out, and take the DSL w/her. I am wondering, where else there is to go-- for a reasonable price. Is comcast worth it? NetZero? RCA (though not sure they service my area)?

Rob Pegoraro: I think you mean RCN, not RCA. The RCN customers that I've heard from seem generally happy with their service, and you get cheaper-than-Comcast cable TV in the bargain. There are also independent DSL providers, but they do tend to cost a little more. The guide we ran last spring should give you an idea of who's out there, although the prices listed there are generally not current: Personal Technology Guide to Washington Area Internet Service Providers (washingtonpost.com)

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Washington DC: For PA CA, who was looking for iLife tutorials -

The O'Reilly "Missing Manuals" series are consistently good - I haven't looked at the iLife manual (I'm sure there is one) but all the others I've used have been great. I bet they could find it at their local Apple Store. (Everyone has a local Apple Store nowadays, right?)

Rob Pegoraro: Another source for help (many written, I should add, by my distinguished competitor at the NYT, David Pogue).

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RestonVA 20190: 'Lo Rob. Here is a peripheral Mac question. I have cable modem, and an almost new iMac (bought just before the Intel ones were announced - slight buyers remorse already, but still a fabulous machine), so I "Airported" the older iMac to the new one on the cable. The older one's email inbox from Comcast never loads. Any clue where to troubleshoot this?

Rob Pegoraro: Depends if you check your mail via Comcast's Web-mail interface or using Apple's own Mail program... but either way, you should make sure that Safari and Mail have the same settings on either machine.

(I've heard complaints in the past about Comcast's Mac support; one of my colleagues was livid the other weekend about the runaround he got from some tech-support drone whose understanding of Apple software apparently lapsed sometime around the demise of the PowerBook Duo.)

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Cheverly, MD: No Name Laptops. Well not exactly I am interested in the HP Pavilion Notebook DV 5029 sold exclusively at a local retailer. I can't find any reviews on this model(made available 1/15/06). I've compared prices and it has many of the features I am looking for...but how do I know if its a good deal????Help

Rob Pegoraro: I can't tell you if it's a good deal either (price?) but the specs on the 5030, the closest one I could find listed at HP's Web site, seem alright overall. It's got enough memory and hard-drive space and the weight isn't too heavy for a machine you don't plan on taking out of the house. The price is nothing special, though, and with only 3 USB ports it's one short of what a lot of other (non-Apple) laptops include these days.

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For Reston: If it's not too late, Reston's iTunes installation problems might be due to the virus and/or spyware protection software he's using. It happens.

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks, For Reston!

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Reston 2-0-1-9-0: Re/Washington DC's question about whether iLife is worth it, when iPhoto is pretty populated. I help with my relatives' Macs, which have iLife 05, and have iLife 06 on my own. The speed of iPhoto on mine got noticeably better when I upgraded from 05 to 06 and I really like the ability to make folders in folders, an '06 add. But I hope iLife 07 puts a scroll bar in that pane, for people like me who can't seem to think of short folder names. I stumbled across iPhoto Buddy and put that on my sister's iLife 05 machine. It isn't a substitute for iLife 06 but it is worthwhile.

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks to yet another of my prolific Reston-based correspondents.

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washington, dc: To follow up on the rant earlier regarding the itunes software. I, too, am having issues with my ipod. All the sudden about 3 months ago, after working for over a year, my itunes software will no longer detect my ipod when it is plugged in via my USB port. I have tested the ipod in the apple store and it has no problem with linking up with other computers to download music. the cable is fine. the ipod works fine. But i cannot add new music. My USB port also works with other devices and will send a charge to my ipod. Any ideas? The dell people tell me it is not a PC issue (Inspiron 700M laptop) and apple insists it is not their problem. I have updated the software as best as I can for both itunes and ipod, and my drivers have new patches as well that have come out and have been reinstalled. No such luck. Suggestions?

Rob Pegoraro: This is a problem that I have heard of--but I've never encountered it myself, naturally. Have you tried restoring the iPod to factory condition? Use the latest version of Apple's iPod software (www.apple.com/ipod/download) to do this, then install the latest iPod software on the device.

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Dummyville: Rob - I need to do a backup in anticipation of wiping the computer clean and re-installing it all. Using the XP System Tools. Now...I get a single file? This is my backup? And what should I do now that time has elapsed and I need to re-backup? Blow away that big file, right?

Rob Pegoraro: If you used the Backup utility included with XP Pro, you'd use that same program to restore your data from the huge backup file just created. For your next update, you'd be making a new backup file.

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Reston: Re/what DVD drive wasn't recognizable: Samsung WRitemaster SEW-164

Rob Pegoraro: I tried to find an answer, but... well, you may be the only person on Earth to use this drive. (Amazon doesn't even seem to stock it. Inconceivable!) I guess you could just try plugging into a Mac and seeing if it's recognized by the system. If it isn't, try returning it or putting it for sale on eBay.

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Mooresville, N.C.: I was getting ready to purchase a new Gateway 6500D. A friend told me not to purchase anything that does not have a "dual core processor". He says if it doesn't have this it will not be able to run the new Windows Vista operating system. I've never heard of Vista. He says it is scheduled come out in May. Does he know what he's talking about?

Rob Pegoraro: No. Vista doesn't require a dual-core processor. Nor is it coming out in May--Microsoft hasn't set a ship date more specific than "by this holiday season."

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Mays Landing, NJ: For Rockville MD with the Ubuntu, try "startx".

(without the quotes). If that doesn't work he should look for answers on a website like linuxquestions.org

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks! (Of course, I have zero idea if this answer is right :)

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Dayton, Ohio: Rob -

is the TeraStation a good choice for home backup? It would be shared among 3-4 machines. Worth the $700? Do I need to buy additional backup software or just use what's provided in the package? Thanks!

Rob Pegoraro: There are much cheaper "NAS" ("network attached storage") devices for home use. Take a look at the Mirra Personal Server, for instance--from 160 GB for $280 to 400 GB for $500. We had a reviewer try it out a while back who liked it, and then one of my editors bought one for himself. He seems pretty happy with it overall.

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Rob Pegoraro: I think that about sticks a fork in today's chat, gang. Thanks for the all the questions... I should be back here Monday after next if my usual schedule holds.

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