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Nightlife 4 April 2008

Our April Nightlife segment was a crowded hour. The release of the first Vista Service Pack, the latest Apple Safari browser and a new breed of mini-portables meant we covered a lot of ground.

Callers problems included disputing domain names, setting up a home network and the Windows XP service pack.

NZ Hacker pleads guilty

An eighteen year old self taught hacker pleaded guilty to six charges of unauthorised use of a computer in a New Zealand court.

Security experts estimate he infected 1.3 million machines with the Trojan AK Bot and police claim he received $40,000NZ for his trouble. Once again this illustrates how virus writing has gone from a game for enthusiastic amateurs to being a profitable part of organised crime.

It's important to protect yourself against these threats and we have instructions on how to tighten your computer security in our Internet Protection Kit.

Grab your domain name

The Australain Domain Administrator, Auda, has announced they will allow Australian domain names to be traded sometime this year. When this change comes into effect we can expect to see a mini "land boom" with squatters and parkers grabbing names.

So if you have a good business name and you haven't yet registered the domain to go with it, get your skates on. This is such an important issue for small businesses we've made it problem of the week.

Ultra portable laptops

Ultra portable laptops have been around for a long time but until recently they were the preserve of "road warriors" with deep pockets. The new breed of ultra portables makes these devices accessible to the home and small business user.

Setting this market alight was the Asus EeePC which broke the $500 barrier. For that price you are making compromises such as the Linux operating system and a tiny 4Gb solid state hard drive. This is a useful computer if you have a main computer back at the office to deal with storage.

The MacBook Air also assumes you have somewhere to take it back to. It's a beautiful machine full of innovations, but like the EeePC it doesn't have a CD drive and it goes further down the portability route by not even bothering with a wired network connection.

It's still possible to spend big bucks on an ultra portable and the Lenovo X300 is where you can spend it. This is only slightly bigger than the MacBook Air while being a full featured laptop. Expect to pay around $4,000 for this little beast.

Apple's new browser upgrade

Apple have released Safari 3.1, their answer to Internet Explorer and Firefox. So far it appears to be fast improvement on previous versions which were slow and a little cumbersome.

If you are a regular Safari user, or you want to try something different, then this upgrade is worthwhile.

The release of Safari has bought a lot of controversy Apple's way. In their wisdom, they decided to bundle the new programs with maintenance upgrades to iTunes and QuickTime.

This was not a good idea and Apple received a lot of well deserved criticism for doing this. If you don't want the Safari browser, just take the tick off any Apple update requests that appear on your computer.

Windows Vista service pack

The Windows Vista service pack finally started appearing over the last month. If you are using Windows Vista then it's a worthwhile download. Before installing it though, check your equipment doesn't appear on Microsoft's problem list.

Callers questions

Sharing a home Internet connection

George wanted to know how he could set up a home network to share his Internet. The simple way is to go to your local computer store and buy a router.

There are a couple of different types of router depending upon how you connect to the Internet. In George's case he was using cable so he'd need one that supports cable connections.

The common alternative to cable Internet is ADSL and you'll need your connection's username and password to set the connection up which will have to be entered into the setup of the router.

Then you'll need to connect the computers. If they are close together, they can be connected with Cat5 or Cat6 communication cable. This is available in common lengths of up to 25m at most computer and office supply stores.

If you want to connect without cables, then you can buy a wireless router. There is some additional work involved to secure the network and it doesn't always work as well as advertised.

Like everything in computers, the theory is simple but the practice often turns out to be a headache. It may be a good investment to get a computer technician to set it up for you.

Windows XP service pack

On the topics of service packs, Colin called in to ask if Windows XP Service pack 3 is vapourware. The answer is no, but SP3 is waaaaaay overdue. The official line is that it is due in the "second quarter of 2008", which is now, but nothing much has been heard.

Microsoft have a description of what's in Service Pack 3 on their website. Like the Vista Service Pack, most of the changes are under the bonnet.

Disputing a business domain name

As the Internet gets more critical to businesses, having the right domain name becomes even more important. Lyall asked about getting back his business domain name.

There are a number of ways of doing this. You can go the trademark route. which involves hiring trademark attorneys and lawyers and can be expensive and slow way. However a polite but firm solicitor's letter may quickly put a stop to some accidental breaches.

A quicker and more effective way of dealing with domain name arguments is to lodge a complaint within the dispute resolution guidelines. For Australian .au sites the process is described at the Australian Domain Administrator's website.

The system varies with the different types of domain; .com,, .net,, etc. So you have to follow the procedures for the specific domain type.

Upcoming spots

The next Nightlife spot is scheduled for 10pm on May 9. We hope you can join us then. If you'd like to be kept up to date with our ABC schedules and other computer issues then please subscribe to our newsletter.



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©Technology Publishing Australia, 2008