Walt Mossberg

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Mossberg’s Mailbox

Antispyware for Macs; Blog Search Engines

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about antispyware programs for Apple Macintoshes, blog search engines and the definition of “HD ready.”

If you have a question, send it to me at mossberg@wsj.com, and I may select it to be answered here in Mossberg’s Mailbox.

You recently recommended antispyware programs for Windows users. Do Apple Macintosh users need such software, and, if so, what products clean up spyware on the Mac?

There’s little or no reported spyware for Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. So the spyware problem isn’t much of a headache for Mac users, and consequently, there isn’t much of a market for Mac antispyware software.

Most spyware and adware consists of malicious programs, and, like regular programs, these harmful applications have to be written to run on a particular operating system. All the spyware programs I have seen, or heard about, are written to run on Windows, which is on the vast majority of the world’s PCs, and is also easier for spyware programs to penetrate than the Mac operating system is. Because they are Windows programs, they simply won’t run on the Mac, even if Mac users accidentally download them.

One type of spyware, called tracking cookies, doesn’t take the form of an actual program, and can be used on Macs. There are a few antispyware and cookie-control utilities for the Mac that may be effective against these tracking cookies, such as Internet Cleanup from Allume Software (www.allume.com). But, unlike their Windows counterparts, I haven’t tested any of them, and can’t say how well they work.

Mac users who run Apple’s built-in Safari Web browser can stop most tracking cookies by going to the Security portion of the Preferences panel and selecting the option to accept only cookies placed by the site they are using, which eliminates cookies placed by third-party advertising companies. A similar option is available in the Firefox Web browser, on both Mac and Windows. On the Mac, it’s in Firefox’s Preferences panel, under Privacy.

I’m at a loss as to where to find blogs on the Web. Are there blog search engines that help compile and categorize blogs for public perusal?

Yes. You can search or browse Web logs, or blogs, at several sites such as Feedster (feedster.com), Bloglines (bloglines.com) and Technorati (technorati.com).

You can also install special programs that let you find, and subscribe free of charge, to numerous blogs and other frequently updated Web sites. These include FeedDemon for Windows (feeddemon.com) and NetNewsWire on the Mac (ranchero.com/net newswire/).

With these programs, called news readers, you don’t usually see the blog in its original form, you receive “feeds” from them — constantly updated headlines and summaries of new entries. You can then read the entire item by just clicking on the headline.

I’ve been shopping for a TV that can receive broadcast high-definition signals, and notice many described as “HD-ready.” What does that mean?

To receive and display high-definition programming, a TV set needs two basic features. One is a display capable of rendering the high-definition picture. The other is a tuner, or receiver, capable of receiving the high-definition signal, either over the air, or from a cable or satellite service.

When a TV set is described as “HD-ready,” it usually means the set can display high-definition pictures, but lacks the special tuner needed to receive them. It may have no tuner at all built in, or it may have just a standard tuner. With this type of TV, you must buy a separate high-definition over-the-air tuner, or obtain a high-definition cable or satellite receiver, to get high-definition programming.

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Because of the volume of e-mail I receive, I can’t routinely answer individual questions by e-mail, or consult on individual problems or purchasing decisions. I read all questions I receive and select three each week to answer in the column.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at mossberg@wsj.com


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