Chewbacca Speaks, the EFF, Google Darktips

Episode #2494


Top O’ the Show

The eternal battle for computer geeks’ hearts goes on: Mac vs. PC. Which one is the better platform? Which computer system has: The better technology? The most functionality? Superior ease of use? Although we know which one has the biggest market share, these other empirical and/or philosophical questions may never be fully answered within our lifetime.

But that didn't stop Dan Pouliot from taking a crack at it. He has exhaustively evaluated the current operating systems of each platform: Mac OS X and Windows XP. Looking at every category of performance from networking to whether the scroll button keeps up with the cursor, Pouliot has created what might possibly be the ultimate Mac vs. PC shootout at his website, www.xvsxp.com. OS X wins the match-up. "It's not biased," Kevin noted. "The PC wins on several points, but the Mac edges out XP."

Outraged PC user Alex demanded on online poll for our viewers: Which is better -- Mac or PC? Kevin was so confident of the results that he put his Power Mac G4 on the block: If the Mac didn't win, he would allow Alex to vent his anger. "A vote for the PC is a vote for smashing stuff!" brayed Alex.

PC users in the audience responded, and the final tally was PC 66 percent, and Mac 33 percent. (What happened to that 1 percent?) Thus, Alex teed off on the innocent Mac with an aluminum baseball bat in a frothing rage. It's worth noting that the resilient Mac took many, many whacks before finally succumbing -- resulting in a winded Alex. Why such physical rage directed at a machine that has introduced so much new technology to the computer world? Perhaps it has something to do with a prevailing inferiority complex.

TSS Live Calls
Call #1:
 Greg from Long Grove, Ill. wanted to know more about recording gameplay so he can make "machinema" movies.

Kevin and Alex suggested that Greg try the Fraps application. Not only does it capture real-time video and screen shots, but it can also do benchmarking duty.

Call #2: Robert from Toronto, Ontario has a new PC, but he would like to run two different versions of Windows. How can he dual-boot?

Starting from scratch, the first thing anyone should do before reinstalling the OS is to back all your data up. Next, Robert should create a 15 - 20 GB partition for his copy of Windows 98 SE, which he should install first. Once that's finished, he can install Windows XP on top of 98 -- it will recognize the partition he created for Windows 98. Then he can select which system to boot from in the Boot.INI file. For non-destructive partitioning, the guys recommended Partition Magic.

Fighting For Your Rights on the Electronic Frontier

Ren Bucholz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit law firm that works on tech issues, visited the set to be grilled by Alex on digital rights issues. Should the following activities be legal or illegal? Here are Ren's verdicts:

* Ripping DVDs: Legal. If you own the DVDs, you should be allowed to back them up for personal use -- even if you let a friend borrow the files. "Copyright law goes after people who copy material on a massive scale," said Ren.

* Spam: Illegal. "But it depends on how you define 'spam.' If you mean commercial messaging that you didn't ask for, then no."

* P2P networks: Legal. "How do you control this thing? You can't. We need to figure out how to compensate artists for their material instead."

For another interview with Ren, read this article in USA Today.

America's Favorite Wookie
With a direct satellite connection, Alex conducted an interview with well-known Wookie and anti-Imperial Rebel Chewbacca. Chewie was promoting the new DVD release of the original Star Wars trilogy, in which he played a significant role: himself.

"What should we look forward to in the DVD?" Alex asked.

"I think the best part was the unseen footage of me in Princess Leia's harem-girl outfit," Chewie said. (Ed. Note: That's a rough translation of the Shyriiwook language.)

Chewbacca also noted that "All the ladies love the Wook" and that after his appearance in Episode III, he will be hosting Survivor: Tatooine.

Learn more about the curious creature known as Chewbacca:

* Read Chewbacca’s official biography.

* Learn more about the ancient Wookie species.

* Visit beautiful Kashyyyk on yyyour next vacation.

* Here’s how to disguise yourself as a Wookie while you're there.

* A dissection of the Star Wars Holiday Special and its revelations on the Wookie spiritual life.

Kevin's Dark Deals: Google Searches and Hacks
Utilizing the advanced search functions of Google.com, you can find lots of MP3 or movie files. By searching the key words "parent directory," you can find non-public directories where information is stored. "Make sure the stuff is public domain before downloading it, because anything else is illegal," said Kevin. Other words to search include "Xvid files" or "DVD rip." For search links, read this item on Kevin's website.

Cat’s Suggestions for Good Surfing
Our special guest host Cat Schwartz came up with some cool websites to view landmarks on Earth from space – including your own home. Here’s what she had to say about ‘em:

terraserver-usa.com: A great site for looking up your personal address, it's powered by the U.S. Geological Survey, and can give you a list of famous hot spots like sports stadiums, Disney World, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

www.maps.com: Maps.com has traditionally been just for looking up maps, but it has teamed up with GlobeXplorer to also give you a look at your house from space.

www.keyhole.com: Download a viewer to your desktop so you can spy on earth from space at any moment -- it's a cool little app that has a seven-day free trial.

www.seeing-stars.com: This site give you a list of stars' home addresses complete with "map it" function and pictures.

Can You See the Light?
Alex slobbered all over the new Philips Pixel Plus 2 LCD TV with "Ambilight" function that was visiting the show. "If you can buy it, do it," commanded Alex. "And if you can't, then envy your neighbor who can." But what's Ambilight actually mean? Andrew Hawn, managing director of our Tech Lab, sums up Philips’ Ambilight concept for us:

“Here is a breakdown on what Philips is saying about Ambilight: Their basic assertion is that their Ambilight tech relaxes the viewer’s eye by creating a soft glow around the TV image to improve the eye’s sensitivity to contrast, brightness and color accuracy. There is some science behind it as well. The Ambilight sensors around the TV also adjust to the changing light conditions in the room.

“Also of note is that the outer surface bezel has NXT monolith speakers integrated. NXT typically offers good mid-range tones (which is pretty hard to get right) and great sound dispersion, but isn’t all that amazing on the high-end or low-end of the audible sound spectrum.”

On a Personal Note…
Many viewers have been asking about Sarah’s absence from the show these past few days. Her father, William B. Lane, Jr., passed away earlier this week after a battle with cancer, so she will be attending to her family’s needs.

We’re asking our viewers to join us in making donations to the American Cancer Society in Mr. Lane’s name. You can do so by clicking this link to the donation page at the Society's website.

Donation cards can be mailed to:

G4 Media / The Screen Savers
12312 West Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Formed in 1946, The American Cancer Society leads the fight against cancer on a variety of fronts: research, public education, advocacy of cancer legislation, and helping families cope with the cancer experience. More than two million volunteers at 3,400 local units help carry out the Society’s mission of eradicating cancer and improving the quality of life for those dealing with the disease. The Society has spent $2.5 billion on cancer research, funding 32 Nobel Prize winners early in their careers.

To learn more about the disease, call the Society’s National Cancer Information Center (1-800-ACS-2345) or visit its website, cancer.org. If you would like to donate your time as well, you can learn how to volunteer for the Society here.

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