NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2006
Tech News
by Sue Crane, Vice President & Editor, Big Bear Computer Club
sue.crane@charter.net (click to email author)

SP3 for Win XP
Microsoft has confirmed that there will be a 3rd service pack for Windows XP. .They declined to release further details, but said that Windows XP SP 3 will be available after Windows Vista ships, scheduled for the end of 2006. Microsoft released the most recent Windows XP service pack, SP2, in August 2004. The service pack was one of the most significant updates to the Windows OS that Microsoft ever produced, and it included features to make Windows more secure.

Microsoft Employee warns against downloading from unofficial site
A Microsoft employee has warned against downloading an unauthorized version of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) that has surfaced on Hotfix.net, a popular Web site that provides software patches. The employee told users that downloading an unofficial version of Windows XP SP3 provided on The Hotfix.net would likely harm their computer and put them “out of support” from Microsoft because it is not an official Microsoft package. Each of these hotfixes can be obtained for free from Microsoft by calling their support lines, the employee said. SP3 will be released after Windows Vista ships next year.

Robotic Cars Make History
The Stanford Racing Team’s robotic car, “Stanley,” drove autonomously across 131.6 miles in the Mojave Desert in six hours and 53 minutes, finishing about 11 minutes faster than Carnegie Mellon’s “Sandstorm.” All of the teams made history during the weekend. They were the first autonomous vehicles to travel far within a specific time frame, as well as the first to finish the 2-year-old race (last year no one finished at all). A DARPA spokesman said this likely means the end of the Grand Challenge. DARPA is now hoping to see the technology take-off.

Real ID Act
The Real ID Act lays out minimum national standards for licenses, which will have to include a digital photo, anti-counterfeiting features and machine-readable technology. States will have to verify all documents presented to support license applications, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards and utility bills, with the issuing agency, and will be required to link their license databases so they can all be accessed as a single network. States will also be required to verify that a person applying for a license is in the country legally. Another Real ID Act requirement is that a person’s license and Social Security card must bear the same name--not a nickname or shortened version.

HP Recalls Laptop Batteries
HP has recalled around 135,000 lithium ion rechargeable battery packs worldwide after several melted or charred the plastic cases of laptops. The battery is used with the HP Pavilion, Compaq Presario, HP Compaq and Compaq Evo laptops, company spokesperson, Mike Hockey, said.The company received 16 reports of batteries overheating, with four cases of damage to the laptops. No injuries have been reported. Consumers can verify if they have the faulty battery pack by going to http://www.hp.com/support/batteryreplacement.

New Intel Technology Could Shorten PC Boot Up Time
With Robson, a PC pulls data and applications off an add-in flash memory card and Intel software, rather than the PC’s hard drive. Potentially, notebook users could experience a longer battery life because the hard drive wouldn’t have to work as hard. Intel did not provide exact boot-up time comparisons, but a representative said Robson will cut the amount of time it takes from when you hit the “on” button to when the PC can operate, the time it takes to go from a sleep state to an active state, and the time it takes to launch an application.

Some Camera Models Have Defective Sensors
Several major camera makers have announced plans to replace faulty CCD sensors in digital cameras and camcorders. CCD sensors capture images. As a result of the defect, images are distorted or nonexistent.The CCDs were manufactured between October 2002 and March 2004. Konica Minolta, Canon, Fujifilm and Nikon have sold models that are affected by the problem. More information can be found on their respective sites: http://www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/ServiceSupportHome.jsp ;http://www.nikonusa.com/email_images/nikonusa/service_advisory

Chip-enabled Soccer Ball
Engineers working on a chip-enabled soccer ball are optimistic about the technology being used at the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup soccer tournament in Germany next year. FIFA has shown interest in the technology--largely to help referees make crucial goal-line calls--but has yet to make a final decision. The radio-based tracking system could also be used to determine whether a ball has gone out of bounds, to compile statistics about individual players, and more

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.

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