Jewish World Review July 17, 2003 / 17 Tamuz, 5763

Pay off the spam mongers?; converting casually recorded speech on analog audiotapes to computer text; more on homepage hijackings (browsers) | (KRT) Q. Our Windows 2000 users are getting large numbers of spam in the form of what look to be IM messages but actually are ads. Any suggestions - other than paying the spammers who are responsible for 90 percent of the ads for their software to stop the ads?

_Tim Huber

A. Tech support folks would be pretty embarrassed if users were forced to pay a ransom just to keep these alarming messages from popping up on Internet-enabled small networks.

Read on for the fix, but first some needed background.

These pop-up schemes work by infiltrating what is called Messenger Service, a feature designed to allow network administrators to send messages to individual computers using systems called NetBIOS and UDP.

Savvy spam mongers found that the Messenger Service can open certain ports to outside traffic and thus permit hustlers and presumably virus attackers to send those pop-ups that look much like instant messages.

It's been an embarrassment to Microsoft, and the company discusses the problem and solutions on its Knowledge Base Web site:

Microsoft warns against just shutting down Messenger Service because it is used by some anti-virus programs to send updates. The company urges folks to check with their system administrator before switching services off.

So here is how to shut the nuisance down for several Windows operating systems:

Windows 2000 - Click Start then Settings and Control Panel and then Administrative Tools and Services. Right-click the line for Messenger and pick Properties. Click Stop and then select either Disable or Manual in the scroll bar you will find. Click OK and it's done.

Windows XP Professional - Follow the same steps to get to the Control Panel and Administrative Tools and Services. Scroll down to Messenger, then follow the prompts to first stop it and then either disable it or set to manual.

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Windows NT - It's a tad easier with NT. Pick the Control Panel for Administrative Tools and then Services. Open Services and you will find the same controls to stop and disable the devil.

Windows XP Home - Click Start and Settings and Control Panel, but then look for the Performance and Maintenance icon. Open it, then open Administrative Tools. Double-click Services and scroll down to Messenger. Right-click and pick Properties, then select the Stop button. Then select Disable or Manual in the scroll bar on the same menu.

With Windows 98 and ME, the pop-ups are not handled by services but by a program called Winpopup. So you can't use Control Panel to switch it on and off. So in Windows 98/ME, to disable Winpopup but keep it around in case you ever happen to need the feature, it's best to rename it so it won't run anymore.

Click on Start and Find and then type in winpopup.exe. When the file comes up, right-click it, pick Rename and change the .exe to something else, such as .fix. Should you ever need to restore it, you can just rename it with the .exe ending.

Q. You have covered in the past how to record audio cassettes onto computers as MP3 files and such, but I want to go a step further. I have a lot of cassettes with teaching or preaching on them that I would like to convert to print.

Is there some software that would provide a fairly high degree of reliability to convert these to a Word file or something like that?

My past experience is that it takes about five or six hours to type a one-hour lecture or sermon, including editing, to have a fairly clean final product.

With hundreds of these to do, I'd like to find an easier way. It doesn't have to be a perfect copy. Some editing would be acceptable. I have Windows ME and Word 2000 on a 1.3-gigahertz Pentium 4.

Do you have any recommendations?

_Dave Hunter

A. I know you're a man of the cloth, but I still must tell you that it will be a cold day in Honduras before the long-wished dream of converting casually recorded speech on analog audiotapes to computer text is a reality. I can tell you from bitter experience that even the best program (Dragon Systems Naturally Speaking, in my view) can only deal with voice input after you train the system to hear your voice in a certain room where background sound is known.

Even then, you must speak carefully and exactly, as you did during training the software. You can use digital voice recorders to dictate speech that Dragon and other systems can parse, but ordinary analog tapes just won't do. Though you gave those sermons in your own voice, I fear any effort to play the tape and get the computer to convert it into usable text is futile.

Here is how I get recorded speech into my computer: I use the old radio reporter's trick of playing the recording through an ear bud while I repeat the words into the microphone using Dragon voice. It would speed up the five to six hours of typing every hour of tape to one hour of talking, but that's the best you're going to get with today's speech technology. Get details about Dragon at

Q. I thought I'd finally found an answer to a continual problem that I have because the computer I am working with keeps coming up with an unwelcome home page whenever I open my browser. You told Russ Gmeiner of Menasha, Wis., that the problem likely is due to "browser hijack" moles and told him the steps to take.

I have a similar problem, but when I try to implement the fix you suggested I hit a problem. You said to click on Start, then pick Search and then Find files and folders to seek out and delete a file called pref.js. by using the search term (ASTERISK).js.

I tried to do this but the word Search does not come up on my computer after hitting Start. Any other leads?

_Gary Kightlinger, Sun City Center, Fla.

A I wonder if your IT people haven't deliberately hobbled your computer so you can't use some of the more dangerous tools like Search to delete files they would rather keep left alone, Mr. K. If so, I'd just pass the problem along to them.

Otherwise here is the drill: The Search command can be switched on and off in the Windows XP Start menu. When on, you can call it up and type in a keyword with so-called wildcards to find missing files anywhere on the machine. The most common wildcard is to use that asterisk to stand for any and all letters coming before or after it depending upon location. So searching for .jpg will find all the photographs on most machines.

To restore the Search tool, right-click on Start and pick Properties. Pick Customize next, then click on the Advance tab and you will find check boxes to add or subtract most elements of the Start menu, such as Run, My Computer, My Documents and Search.

As to the larger issue of those outrageous programs that hit offices and homes alike by hijacking the browser start page, let me direct you to a useful Web site called SpywareInfo that explains hijack fixes in detail and offers links to software that prevents the problem:

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of rthis column by clicking here.


07/15/03: E-mailed spreadsheets are being received with formulas changed and different figures; two computers with router --- way to print from one that does not have any printers connected to it
07/10/03: Washing laptop; security for your PC — don't be had; needing an AirCard to surf
07/07/03: Don't spend like a pro to convert audio to CDs; "browser hijackings"; automatically checking a CD
07/02/03: Saving time on distribution lists; he changed the color of the fonts in just that one spreadsheet file; not enough space on 'c' drive, lots on 'd'
06/25/03: How to get rid of porn spam; Windows XP dictionary?; Windows ME system can no longer find the Internet with Windows applications
06/25/03: NT flashes "at least one service/driver failed during system startup"; automatically converting .doc and .xls files to .dat; transfers to XP not as vexing as they may seem
06/19/03: Can't open Zip files; RealPlayer won't play .avi files; step-by-step process to "burn" digital images
06/18/03: Restore missing Word task bars in a normal way; computer was zapped, how to fix it; spell check won't upgrade

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