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Updates August 2002

Replacement for DVD unveiled

If you are getting ready to purchase a DVD player ot burner, read this before you decide.
The world's Big Nine electronics companies have swallowed corporate pride and agreed on a single standard and name - Blu-Ray - for the next generation video and computer optical disc. Although good for the consumer, they are putting the future of their fledgling recordable DVD systems in jeopardy.
Blu-Ray is backed by Hitachi, LG, Matsushita (Panasonic), Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and Thomson. Only Toshiba, the main inventor of DVD, and JVC, which has a vested interest in VHS, are missing.
The new format will use a blue laser for recording and playback. A single-sided 12 centimetre Blu-Ray disc stores 27GB of computer data, records 13 hours of broadcast TV or holds 2 hours of High Definition video.
Prototypes already exist, and have been demonstrated by Philips, Sony and Panasonic. Licensing for manufacture begins within a couple of months and the first Blu-Ray recorders could go on sale next year.
Bad news - This could be very bad news for the three rival and incompatible recordable DVD systems, DVD-RAM (Panasonic), DVD-RW (Pioneer) and DVD+RW (Philips), which are just going on sale.
All use a red laser, with 650 nm wavelength, and can only store 4.7 GB on a single sided DVD. TV recording time is only one hour in best quality mode, and two, three or four hours with compromised pictures. Data capacity is inadequate for non-stop backup of a PC hard drive. The data transfer rate, around 10 Mbps, is not fast enough for high quality video.
A blue laser, with a 405 nm wavelength, can focus light more tightly into a smaller spot and so cram more data on a 12 centimetre disc. The data streams at 36 Mbps, which is fast enough for HDTV. As with recordable DVD, the recording is made in a phase change coating. Blu-Ray uses a very thin layer, 0.1 millimetres thick, to stop any tilt of the disc optically distorting the laser beam.
Everything is different - The 27 GB capacity will increase later to 50GB, thanks to dual layer discs, proposed by Panasonic.
The Blu-Ray group is still discussing whether the disc can be naked or must be housed in a protective cartridge.
Existing CD and DVD players and recorders will not be able to use Blu-Ray discs. New Blu-Ray players will need infra-red, red and blue lasers if they are also to play all kinds of CD and DVD recordings.
Speaking from the press launch in Tokyo, Chris Buma of Philips, says: "Except for the size of the disc, everything is different".

Critical Information

AntiVirus Programs!

I am an independent computer technician and software tester, which means I receive NO money or perks from any of the companies listed and therefore give an unbiased review based on real world use.
I have tested and used many anti virus programs from most of the major and minor software vendors including; Aladdin Knowledge Systems, ALWIL Software, Attest Systems, Inc., Bokler Software, Central Command, Computer Associates, Dr. Solomon's, Elegant Communications Inc., F-Secure, Mortice Kern Systems, Inc., Norman Security, Norton Anti Virus (Symantec), McAfee Anti Virus, Panda Software, Quick Heal, Safetynet Security, SecureComputing, Inc., Security Solutions Online, Sophos Software, Touch Technologies, Inc., Trend Micro (PC Cillin), VirusStriker Anti Virus Corporation and Zone Labs.
Although all have their good points as well as shortcomings, one program stands out above all the rest as the clear winner. That program is eTrust EZ Antivirus by Computer Associates. I will explain most of the features and benefits later in this article.
Most importantly, an anti-virus program is meant to protect our valuable computer by not allowing a virus into it or at least removing the virus immediately upon entrance. ETrust EZ Anti Virus does the best job of this with the least overhead and DOES NOT install a hidden server in the background of your computer to exchange who knows what information with the company as do so many others including Norton. It is the smallest in size of all of the readily available anti-virus programs, is very easy to update and does an excellent job of protecting email as well.
The $ 19.95 price is also one of if not the lowest price for an excellent anti-virus program (most are around $ 40 to $ 50). If you want to protect your computer from viruses, worms, trojans and the like, this is the only program you will ever need. If you choose not to use this program, at least do something because if you have not had a virus at some point in time, you will, and these days the viruses are extremely destructive which might force you to purchase expensive equipment or even a new computer if attacked.