Archive for Monday, April 23, 2001

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April 23, 2001


Beware bit decay, the silent data killer

Never mind the budget, Congress or the People's Republic of China. The Bush administration seems to be ignoring a serious problem of global dimensions.

A search of the White House Web site ( and the United Nations Web site ( revealed not a single reference to the problem.

The problem, as millions of personal computer users know, is bit decay. That's the decay and disappearance of binary digits without any obvious or explicable cause, resulting in lost work and frustration.

Here are some tips on how to take a bite out of bit decay:

Keep only the current version of your applications handy for reinstallation. If you keep all the CDs in the same stack, you might mistakenly install an older version.

Back up all important data files regularly. The method of choice is a CD-making drive, although there are other methods. Label the CD and remember to include the date.

Keep log-ons, passwords, serial numbers and registration and vendor phone numbers in a brightly colored binder. It's a much better retrieval method than the stuff-it-in-the-desk-drawer method.

Philips PVR with TiVo puts programs at your fingertips

You settle into your favorite chair, put your feet up and get ready to enjoy an hour of prime-time entertainment.

Rrrrrrinnnng! Just as the opening segment begins, your mother-in-law calls. You miss the first 15 minutes, but are you bent out of shape?

No way, because your PVR (personal video recorder) has captured every moment, and you can effortlessly return to the start, watch the show in its entirety and buzz by commercials in a second.

The Philips PVR with TiVo service is a set-top box that can record up to 60 hours of entertainment using a computer hard disk.

Because the system uses digital technology, there's no videotape to fuss with, making it easier and faster to pause, rewind and fast-forward.

The price for this technology isn't unbearable. The PVR set-top box comes in three models, ranging from $299 to $699.

The most inexpensive model can store 20 hours of programming, while the top of the line can record 60 hours. An intermediate model, which costs $399, has a 30-hour capacity.

In addition to the cost of the hardware, there's a subscription fee for TiVo service. You can pay a one-time $199 fee or choose a $9.95 monthly subscription fee.

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