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Winston-Salem Journal, N.C., Tim Clodfelter Column

August 7, 2008

By Tim Clodfelter, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

Aug. 7–On Monday, kids and parents can learn how to get to Sesame Street on their computers.

The newly revamped SesameStreet.org is the result of two years of research and development by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind the TV series on PBS.

The site will be updated each day with a different theme (“the number 5,” for instance) introduced by a live action Muppet host, who also points out each of the buttons to help children learn how to use the site. The site will include games, new and classic video clips, child-friendly navigation, and a “Playsafe” mode that will let parents keep their children on the site without navigating off the page and elsewhere on the Internet.

The site will also include a new “Parents Section” with articles on subjects such as potty training, teaching healthful habits, and helping children cope with traumatic experiences.

The site coincides with the season premiere of Sesame Street, which is shown on UNC-TV.

If you notice that your computer is running slower than it used to, it may be time for a tune-up. Large Software recently released a new version of PC Tune-Up, a handy piece of software that scans your hard drive to find errors and provide recommended fixes; backs up your system and registry; and defrags the hard drive, removing unneeded files that slow the computer. There is also a “Magic Button” feature that runs all the systems automatically with a single click.

I gave PC Tune-Up a test run on my 4-year old PC and found it running much more smoothly afterwards. The process runs easily, though it takes a while; users may want to set it up before going to bed or heading out to work and let it run while they’re away from their computers. The software sells for $29.95, but a 31-day free trial version can be found downloaded at www.largesoftware.com.

Microsoft may release a cheaper version of the Xbox 360 game console in September, according to a report at tech news site CNet.com. The new model would not have an internal hard drive and would sell for $199; a model with a 60-Gigabyte hard drive would sell for $299; and one with a 160-Gb hard drive, for $399. Currently, the lowest-priced of the “next-generation” gaming consoles is the Wii, which sells for $249.

A recent survey has found that about close to one-third of respondents make copies of pre-recorded DVDs. The Consumer Home Piracy survey was conducted by Futuresource Consulting and sponsored by Macrovision, the leading company behind copy-prevention technology. The survey was taken by more than 3,600 consumers in the United States and 1,718 in Britain.

It found that 32 percent of respondents in the United States said they had made copies of DVDs in the past six months. People copied an average of 12 titles in that time period.

Most likely to make copies were men in the 25-to-34 age group. The numbers were higher in Britain, where 36 percent of respondents had made copies of an average of 13 titles. The most popular methods were routing the DVD output into a recording device such as a VCR or DVD recorder, followed by using computer software to make copies.

The survey also found that 77 percent of American respondents and 63 percent of British ones would have purchased “all, some or at least a few of the titles” if they had not been able to copy them, according to the report, “clearly indicating the scale of the lost revenues to the home video industry from home copying.”

Tim Clodfelter can be reached at 727-7371 or at tclodfelter@wsjournal.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

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