From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 25 Mar 2008 - DRM / Wifi Speed / Vista SP1 / House Values


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

In today's TOURBUS, you'll learn how to get DRM-free music that has no copy or burning restrictions -- and ten tips for faster Wifi! Also, I have the scoop on the Vista SP1 updates package. Find out if you need it, and how to get it. And for those concerned about mortagages and property values, I have some resources to help you determine the value of your home. Read on!

Music Wants to Be (DRM) Free

A reader concerned about the portability of iTunes music asked this:

> "I've run into problems trying to transfer my iTunes music to an
> MP3 player. I am told that the problem is DRM, some sort of copy
> protection built into the songs. Are there ways to get around
> this? Can I buy DRM-free music, or remove the DRM code?"

Have you ever purchased a bunch of songs on iTunes, and then tried to transfer them to an MP3 player, or burn a mix CD for the car? If so, then you've felt the same pain as this reader. DRM (Digital Rights Management) prevents people from making copies, transferring the music to certain devices, or converting it to other formats. This has led many customers to complain that DRM is too restrictive.

So music vendors, afraid that frustrated music buyers may cut them out of the loop by returning to LimeWire, Kazaa or Bittorrent, have begun to offer DRM-free music. Here's a roundup of music sellers that are offering digital downloads devoid of DRM:

If you already have a library of music downloads that are "protected" by DRM, check out my Big List of Audio Conversion Software for DRM removal options:

10 Ways To Boost Your WiFi Signal

So you finally got that spiffy wireless router, but your signal strength out on the hammock is not so great. I've got some clever ways to boost or extend your WiFi signal, and most of them will cost you little or nothing to try.

WIFI BOOSTER #1: If you're looking for optimal wireless coverage in various parts of your home, position the router in the middle of the house. Moving it off the floor to a bookcase or shelf should also help. If you only have one wireless computer, then place the router closer to the computer. But experiment -- I've heard of cases where there was a very weak signal, and the problem was that the router was TOO close to the computer.

WIFI BOOSTER #2: Remember, wifi is a radio signal, so the signals from microwave ovens, cordless phones and even your neighbor's wireless router may interfere. So steer clear of those as well.

WIFI BOOSTER #3 to #10: To save space and avoid boring those who don't know a Hi-Fi from a WiFi, I've stashed all 10 tips here:

Vista SP1 - Do You Need It?

Is Vista SP1 ready for prime time? Will it make your Vista computer run faster and smoother, or will it gum up the works like the early Windows XP service packs? Some Vista SP1 beta testers experienced problems with the Vista control panel disappearing, and others have reported that the SP1 install caused their computer to freeze up or reboot endlessly.

Microsoft, in a calm reassuring corporate drone, says that all those problems have been resolved, and that installing Vista SP1 will bring performance gains and some spiffy new features. Here's the scoop on what to expect when SP1 rolls out in mid-April, how to get it now, and how to prevent SP1 from being installed:

What Is Your House Worth?

The value of your home is more important than ever, given all the uncertainty in the financial sector. With many homeowners facing bankruptcy or escalating mortgage payments, free online tools to help you determine how much your house is worth should come in handy. Here are my reviews, caveats and tips for using online property valuation tools:

That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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