AOL's security center leaves `nasty stuff' in scanning for spyware

Ask Jim

Plugged In

September 21, 2006|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

I notice that after the America Online security center does a scan for spyware on my computer and I follow that up immediately with a scan by another spyware product, it discovers a lot of adware and a number of cookies that AOL left on my computer. I'm wondering if AOL parks its own spy- and adware on my computer and has its spyware scanner ignore it. If so, that is a breach of trust, don't you think?

- Nadya Krylov

"AOL is the kindest, most generous, most wonderful online service on earth," said the brainwashed columnist just back from a vacation in Manchuria.

I jest about brainwashing, because I have had an AOL account since before it was AOL and have covered the company for most of those years, and I am not worried about this issue, personally. I'm so low-key because I am all but certain that AOL now is feeling so much heat that it will purge the pests that are making your anti-adware alarms go off.

Still, a lot of folks with serious credentials are complaining about AOL's companion software being the source of several items placed on hard drives that qualify for designation as "badware" by That's a testing and advocacy group supported by the likes of Google and Sun Microsystems, as well as experts at Harvard and Oxford universities.

AOL reacted to the condemnation by promising to fix any problems, and we're waiting for some results. Meanwhile, the issues raised by are valid but are nowhere near the kinds of stuff that mugs computer users with hijacked Web pages, keyboard loggers and such. So, I'd say kudos to the folks for finding this nasty stuff that AOL does that qualifies as adware when done by lesser outfits. But I'd also say that it's not dangerous to keep with AOL as you have it now.

I am using Pinnacle Studio 8 for editing video clips into movies. When editing, I will lose the audio intermittently. Example: It will play just fine until a scene change or a transition, then it drops out. Maybe sound will return later after another change. I know it has recorded OK when the video was captured.

I have only 512 megabytes of RAM. Could this be the problem?

- Zig Zeigler

Just as you suspect, video editing hogs memory worse than a sow at a salad bar. Your fix is to tweak things as best you can so that less memory gets used during steps such as ordering the software to create those transitions.

The easiest fix by far is to make your entire movie without messing around with the transitions as you tack the various video clips together to make up the whole movie.

Having pasted together all those clips that will make up the finished production, save it first as a version without transitions. Then, when this draft of the movie is done, use the software's tools to strip the soundtrack from the whole video and save it as an audio file separate from the combined audio/video file that makes up the movie. Video editing software includes modules for stripping audio, or you can use the mouse to copy the audio in the timeline display screen where the video is above and audio below.

Now, delete that same sound file where it is still attached to the movie. Next, go through the production and add the transitions where you want them. With that done, import the original audio file as the background track. As long as you don't use transitions such as slow motion or speed-ups, the soundtrack once stripped away will be restored in sync with the video, and you will have needed far less memory to create the transitions.

I know this is a lot more bother than if the transitions could be added at the same time you are splitting clips and then pasting them at different points in the movie, but without more memory, it may be your best bet.

As a long shot, try fiddling with the settings for hardware acceleration for audio files the computer plays. Click on Start and Control Panel and then open the Sounds and Audio Devices icon and click on the tab for Audio in the next display. Now click on the Advanced button then the Performance button, and you will get a set of slider bars to increase or decrease the amount of resources that are devoted to keeping sound running well. Move the settings all the way to full and then experiment to see if you can find a sweet spot that permits transitions without sound problems.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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