July 2006

July 2006
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
Volume 23, No. 7
Inside This Issue:
2 President’s Message
2 Special Interest Groups
2 Calendar
3 Officers List
4 Recycling Report
4 Urban Legends et al
5 Create Playable Discs
6 Backup Awareness
7 Red-Eye in Photographs
8 Web 2.0 and SOHO
9 Watch Out for Phone Phishing
10 The New, the Best, the Worst
12. Tech News
14 Internet Fraud
16 Computer Hysteria: Pew
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group has served novice and
experienced computer users since
1983. Through its monthly meetings,
newsletters, online forum, special interest groups, mentor program and community involvement, it has helped educate people of all ages. The NVPCUG
provides opportunities for people to
find friends who share common interests and experiences. Through its
Computers-to-Schools program, members refurbish used computer equipment for donation to local schools.
Since January 2003 the NVPCUG has
donated 434 computers and 128 printers.
July, 2006
Internet Security to Be Discussed at July 19
NVPCUG Meeting
By Susy Ball, Programs Director
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California.
The main presentation of the evening will feature Ofer
Tenenbaum, general manager of PNC, Inc. discussing
problems of internet security and how the proliferation of
IP networks brought new life to remote monitoring and
security. He will specifically discuss how that is happening in rural locations, which is common to Napa County.
Personal Network Computing Inc., is an information tech- Ofer Tenenbaum
nology service provider, dedicated to bringing powerful
solutions, in a simple and elegant way, to their customers. PNC's portfolio
of products and services include IT outsourcing for small businesses and
wireless high-speed Internet in Napa and Solano Counties.
Preceding the main presentation, Jerry Brown will lead the Random
Access portion of our meeting with an open-floor question-and-answer period, during which you can ask questions about specific computer-related
isses and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees. Don’t
forget that you can also e-mail your questions before coning to the meeting
([email protected]).
Following this, Bernhard Krevet will lead the Computer Tutor session discussing PDF files. PDF stands for Portable Document Format,
which is an open standard file format, proprietary to Adobe systems, for
representing two-dimensional documents in a device-independent and resolution-independent format. He will also demonstrate PDF-Xchange.
Need practical information that will help you make better use of
your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests are welcome; admission
is free.
Remember the Summer Potluck Picnic
Saturday, August 12, 1:30 p.m.
Petersons’ Christmas Tree Farm, 1120 Darms Lane
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 1
President's Message—
Picnic and Raffles
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups
In SIG meetings you can learn about a
subject in greater detail than is feasible at
NVPCUG general meetings. SIG meetings are
open to everyone. Meeting times and locations
occasionally change, so for current meeting
i n f or m a ti on , s e e o u r W e b s i t e ,
www.nvpcug.org, or contact the SIG leaders.
Digital Photography SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Wednesday
7:00 to 8:30 p.m
Piner’s Nursing Home,
Conference Room
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Leader: Susy Ball
(707) 337-3998
[email protected]
Investors SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
Hey! We’re going to have a raffle -- three of
them, actually. You may purchase tickets at any of the
meetings or at the picnic.
Thanks to several people who subscribed to Smart
Computing and submitted our group name, we have
earned two free subscriptions. We will raffle one subscription at each of our July and August meetings.
Tickets will be $1 each, 6 for $5. You do not need to
be present to win.
We have also received an unused 2003 version of
Dianne Prior
Office XP Professional. It includes Access and MS Publisher in addition to Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. For this prize,
tickets will be $5.00 each, or 3 or $10.00. The raffle will be held at our
August meeting, and again, you don’t have to be there to win.
We are still seeking donations to supply other items to be raffled.
Please e-mail or phone me if you can help in any way.
The summer potluck picnic will be here soon, giving us a chance to
meet our fellow User Group members in a relaxing and informal setting.
The date is Saturday, August 12 at 1:30 (unless you can help with setup
at 1:00). Dick and Sandy Peterson have again graciously offered their
Christmas Tree Farm as the location (1120 Darms Lane). This year the
picnic will precede our regular August meeting, so you may sign up at our
July meeting or by e-mailing me at [email protected] I need to know
what potluck dish you are bringing and how many will be in your party.
NVPCUG will provide soft drinks and water as well as chicken and steak
to BBQ. You are welcomed to bring beer and wine if you wish.
Macintosh SIG
Monthly, second Thursday
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Leader: Jim Gillespie
(707) 252-1665
[email protected]
If anyone has any problems or questions or suggestions (relating to
Group issues, not computer use questions), feel free to contact me at
[email protected] or phone me at 252-1506.
Peace and Good,
Dianne Prior
NVPCUG Calendar
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Computers-to-Schools work parties. To volunteer, contact Orion Hill, (707) 252-0637.
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Investors SIG meeting, Jerry Brown’s home, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Digital Photography SIG meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Macintosh SIG meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2006
Board of Directors
Dianne Prior
[email protected]
Vice President
Ron Dack
Julie Jerome
[email protected]
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
Other Directors:
Susy Ball, Orion E. Hill, Jim Gillespie, Bob Kulas, John Moore,
Dick Peterson, John Simcoe, James Stirling, Dean Unruh
Held the third Wednesday of each month
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Appointed Officers
Computer Equipment
Sales Coordinator
Computer Recycling
Computer Tutor
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Greeter Coordinator
Membership Director
Mentor Program
Newsletter Circulator
Newsletter Editor
Product Review Coord.
Product Review Coord.
Programs Director
Publicity Director
Random Access Moderator
Special Projects Director
Come to the NVPCUG
General Meetings
Napa Senior Activities
(Volunteer Needed)
Bill Wheadon
[email protected]
Mike Moore
[email protected]
Orion E. Hill
[email protected]
John Moore
[email protected]
Bob Simmerman
Dean Unruh
Dianne Prior
Dick Peterson
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Jim Hearn
James Stirling
Susy Ball
Marcia Waddell
Susy Ball
John Simcoe
Jerry Brown
Bob Kulas
Ron Dack
1500 Jefferson Street,
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
*All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News
Computer News (ISS 0897-5744) is published monthly by the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA
94558-0286. Subscriptions: $30 for one year (12 issues ). Editor: James Stirling, [email protected] The material in Computer News is intended for
noncommercial purposes and may not be reproduced without prior written permission, except that permission for reproducing articles, with authors properly credited, is granted to other computer user groups for their internal, nonprofit use only. The information in this newsletter is believed to be correct.
However, the NVPCUG can assume neither responsibility for errors or omissions nor liability for any damages resulting from the use or misuse of any
The NVPCUG is an IRC 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit educational organization (EIN 68-0069663) and is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization. Donations to the NVPCUG are tax-deductible as charitable contributions to the extent allowed
by law. Copyright © 2006 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 3
June Computer and Electronics Recycling Event Smoothest Yet
By Bill Wheadon, NVPCUG Recycling Coordinator
The Sixth Annual Napa County Computer and Electronic Recycling Event, for which NVPCUG was a cosponsor, was held June 9 and 10 in the south parking lot
of the Napa Valley College, Napa City Campus. This
year’s event was slightly smaller than last year’s in terms
of gross tonnage received: 180 tons this year versus 200
tons last year. We collected 23 truckloads, or 168 tons of
material for recycling, with another 10.8 tons selected for
reuse by the Computer Recycling Center of Santa Rosa
and almost a ton ( two pickup loads) by the NVPCUG for
our Computers-to-Schools (CTS) program. Our CTS volunteers were more selective this year, due to a lack of
storage space for the equipment; in fact, we took no
monitors. Equipment selected for CTS reuse included 16
notebook computers, 55 minitower computers and 12 laser printers.
An interesting statistic is that of the 160 tons of material recycled, 84.2 tons, or approximately half, were
monitors. In future years I expect the tonnage to fall off
when the non-CRT monitors become obsolete and are
This event seemed to run smoother than previous ones
due to sufficient manpower and also by separating the
reusable equipment collection area from the materials
recycling equipment collection area. This improved traffic flow. 644 vehicles came through on Friday and 891 on
Saturday for a total of 1535 vehicles in the two days.
Thanks to the following NVPCUG members and friends
who helped direct traffic, conduct surveys, and select &
load reusable equipment at this year’s event: Karla Bailey, Julie Jerome, Bernhard Krevet (and his neighbor
Charlie), Ken Manfree, Ray McCann, John Moore, Beryl
Nielsen, Dianne Prior, Don Robertson, John Simcoe, Bob
Simmerman, and Roy Wagner.
A special thanks to those who worked multiple shifts :
Al Edmister, James Gray, Orion E. Hill, Swede Olmsted,
Ray Riley, Otho Rosado, Jeff Solomon, Dean Unruh, and
Jan and Bill Wheadon.
Urban legends et al, by Dean Unruh
If you need an answer to a question about an urban legend/Internet myth, here's a site with which to do your detective
Besides giving you the lowdown on Internet high jinx,
they also list current and recent virus threats and some
links to removal tools plus a link to a free Web-based
McAfee virus scan.
And, maybe most everyone else has discovered this
but me, but just in case: I had a pop-up ad appear today, but instead of being displayed as a window it presented itself as merely a button on the taskbar. However,
clicking on it wouldn't display it so that I could kill it with
a CTRL + F-4. Also I keep the taskbar on auto-hide, and
with this pop-up ad button on the taskbar, the taskbar
wouldn't hide. Sooo, out of desperation I right-clicked on
the ad button, which produced the options 'To Restore' or
'Close'. When I clicked on 'Close' I finally dispatched the
The WashingTOON Times recently ran a (Web)
article concerning the proliferation of new specialty
search engines that target niche subject matter. They run
the gamet from online video content to shopping, real
estate and petrol (locating the best price thereof), overall
addressing the topics of products, services and content.
For instance, one person states that there is now over 4
million hours of audio and video content on the web and a
Google search may return Googzillions (I just made that
up--it's not a real number--well it could be--Google has
just been added as a verb in the dictionary) of results
which would take several lifetimes to investigate. Sooo,
what's a boy (or girl) to do? Well, check out a specialized
search such as:
-- Blinkx.com, a search site for TV and other video
-- Dealio.com, a search site for pricing on 30 million
consumer products;
-- Gasbuddy.com, which helps you find low cost gas in
your city or suburb;
-- LinkedIn.com, a professional networking search and
content management site for job seekers;
-- SideStep.com, a search service for travel services;
-- StubHub.com, an engine that helps you buy tickets to
concerts and sporting events;
-- Zillow.com, a search site for real estate listings;
-- TrustWatch.com, a search site for consumers to
identify spam and other fraudulent e-mails online.
If you're interested in checking out the entire article
see: http://www.washingtontimes.com/upi/ 20060705095800-4746r.htm.
Stay Crisp!
Dean Unruh
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 4
Creating Playable Compact Discs From Cassette
Tapes, Vinyl Records, and Other Media
By Rex Williams, NVPCUG Member
Have you ever wanted to take your old cassette
tapes or vinyl records and make digital audio files that
could be burned on compact discs to play in your home,
car, or portable audio disc player or that could be saved
in one of the new MP3 flash-drive players? This could
be particularly helpful for listening to lectures and
training presentations. I found that creating MP3 or
WMA format files that can be played on these devices
is easy, if you have the required equipment and
I want to get a general class (ham) radio license.
One of the requirements for a general class license is
being able to receive Morse code at five words per
minute. Learning the code is hard for me because I
have always learned best by sight, not by sound. I have
Nu-Ware=s NuMorse, a Morse code training program
that can convert a computer text file into Morse code
and play the code over headphones or a speaker. To
study this way, I had to sit at my computer. I play golf
twice a week and got to thinking that my golfing time
could also be a great time to study Morse code. A
round of golf takes about four hours. Most of that time
is just walking or standing. Surely I could put some of
that time to better use.
I already had an MP3 flash-drive player, which I
had purchased at Wal-Mart for about $51.00, and the
Morse code training program. All I needed was a way
to get the Morse code files converted to MP3 sound
format and transfer them to my MP3 player.
Searching on the Internet, I found several programs
that I thought would do the job. Some of the programs
were shareware and could be downloaded for free,
others would have to be purchased. I selected
PolderbitS Software=s Sound Recorder and Editor, a
shareware program, and downloaded it from the
developer=s Web site, www.polderbits.com.
software has an unrestricted two-week free trial period,
after which the program can be purchased for $37.75.
Using a cable with a male connector at each end, I
connected the headphone jack on my laptop computer to
the line-in jack on my desktop computer=s sound card.
If you don=t have the appropriate cable, you can
purchase one at a Radio Shack store for less than $5.00.
If you want to record from a tape deck or record player,
you need a cable with a connector on one end that fits
the audio output jack on your tape player or record
player and a connector on the other end that is
compatible with the line-in jack on your computer.
Such cables are also available at Radio Shack.
I started the sound recorder and editor program on
my desktop computer and selected the start recording
option. Then I started the Morse code training program
on my laptop. The recording of audio code began
immediately. After recording the Morse code audio
file, I stopped the sound recorder and the training
program. The sound recorder and editor program=s edit
window automatically opened. I then edited the Morse
code sound file to delete the blank space at the
beginning of the recording. The blank space existed
because the recorder program started recording in real
time before I started playing the Morse code training
program. After editing the sound track, I had the option
of saving it in either of two formats: as a WAV
uncompressed file or as an MP3 compressed file.
Saving as an MP3 file is preferable, since an MP3 file is
only about one-tenth the size of a WAV file. For
example, the WAV file I first created was 11,423
kilobytes, while my MP3 file was only 1,037 kilobytes.
With the proper CD burner and media, MP3 files
can be copied from a hard drive to create a music CD.
Or, as I wanted, an MP3 file can be copied to an MP3
flash-drive. To save the Morse code sound file onto my
flash-drive, I used Creative Media Source, a program
marketed by Creative Technology (the maker of Sound
Blaster). The program can transfer files from a hard
drive to an MP3 player using a USB port. The program
also allows converting MP3-format files to WMAformat files (which are smaller in size) for transferring
or saving and allows burning a CD that can be played
on a CD player. I also burned CDs using both Creative
Media Source and Roxio=s EZ CD Creator.
This was my first attempt to create an audio CD or
an MP3 file from a source other than an existing audio
CD. I found the undertaking was fairly straightforward.
If you have successfully used another
technique or different software, I would like to hear
about your experience.
Rex Williams is a longtime member of the NVPCUG.
He originally joined in 1984, the year following the
founding of our group. From 1985 to 1988 he chaired
the Napa Valley Texas Instruments Professional
Computer Users Group (renamed in 1988 as the
Redwood Empire TIPC Users Group), which he and
NVPCUG past president Orion E. Hill founded in 1985.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 5
Backup Awareness Month
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Advisor; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, Texas
Radio & TV show host iwilsker(at)cug.net
In case you had not heard, June is [was] Backup
Awareness Month. It is not a federally recognized holiday, nor is it one acknowledged by resolution from
some governmental authority, but an awareness service
of one of the largest manufacturers of hard drives, the
newly merged Maxtor and Seagate.
Sure, Maxtor and Seagate will benefit if we all rush
out and purchase a large capacity hard drive so we can
backup our critical data in the event of a hard drive
crash or other tragedy that could damage or destroy our
computers. This is really more of a win-win situation,
as there is a very valid need for timely and comprehensive backups of our data. Lessons still unlearned from
Rita, Katrina, and Wilma, as well as other countless disasters, fires, thefts, and other debacles should teach us
that if we have a good backup of our files, we can easily
survive a catastrophic data loss and be back in operation
Imagine in any business or other commercial environment how much information is stored on hard drives.
Hard drives are electromechanical devices, and as such
will indeed fail at some time. Murphy’s Law dictates
that a hard drive will always fail at the most inopportune
time. Now imagine what would happen to that business
or organization if suddenly all of its critical information
was gone. No accounts receivable; no accounts payable; no client lists; no purchase orders; no employee or
student data; no payroll and tax records; no correspondence; no records of any kind; and a plethora of other
potentially devastating losses. Next imagine the time
and cost that a company would incur if it had to rebuild
that amount of information from paper records, if these
did indeed exist. Can you conceive the utter devastation
that a company would suffer with a catastrophic data
Data loss is not just a corporate or organizational
threat, but a personal one too. On my home computer,
for example, I have countless family photos, tax records,
family financial information, archives of correspondence and other important documents, music, bookmarks, address books, e-mail, and other information that
would probably be irretrievable in the event of a complete hard drive failure. I really do not think that the
IRS would accept as an excuse the fact that my hard
drive crashed, losing my financial records.
We can backup our data in many ways without any
substantial expense, or we can utilize sophisticated
backup solutions. Backing up can be as simple as copying critical files to CD, DVD, flash drive, or other storage media, using the integral copy function available on
all computer operating systems. We can use software,
such as NTI’s Shadow or Backup NOW! to manage our
backup functions to our chosen media, or we can use
utilities such as Symantec’s (Norton) Ghost, to make a
bit by bit copy of our hard drive which can be copied to
a new hard drive, making it a mirror image of the original, ready to go. Now that broadband internet connections are more of a rule than an exception, there are
commercial services that will do online remote backup
and storage at off-premise locations, secure and separate
from the host or home location.
Seagate/Maxtor have published some “best practices” (www.backupawareness.com/bestpractices.html)
defining the tasks necessary to ensure the ability to recover our precious data. These practices can be summarized by the following tips (details on the website):
Develop a backup schedule – Make it routine, and
not a task you have to remember to accomplish. Most
modern backup software and utilities either backup in
real-time (NTI Shadow), or can be scheduled at predetermined times (NTI Backup NOW!).
Back up everything – it is not necessary to waste
time sorting data, as the speed of backup utilities, hardware, and hard drives, as well as the large capacity of
new hard drives, make it unnecessary to determine what
to backup
Give yourself room to grow – The rule of thumb
listed on the site recommends that the minimum size of
backup drives (or other media or storage solutions)
should be at least double the current size of the hard
drives being backed up.
Back up automatically – Referred to in the industry as “Set it and Forget It,” this is a viable adjunct to
backing up on schedule. Some real-time off-site backup
services use a high-speed Internet connection to automatically back up all new data to an external location.
Many software utilities are almost transparent and perform backups automatically, unattended.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 6
Rotate backups – Use more than one drive or
other system for backup. There are always risks that
the backup itself can be damaged or otherwise
flawed, and there is safety in redundancy. It is a
good practice to store at least one current backup
physically away from the location being backed up
such that a catastrophe (fire, flood, etc.) at the host
will not destroy the backup. It is also a good idea to
be able to take a backup with you in the event of a
crisis, such as when I took my external hard drive
with a current backup of all of my files, when I
evacuated from Hurricane Rita. With this external
drive, I could also access critical files from another
computer if needed, prior to returning home.
Don't procrastinate – Do not put off until tomorrow what you must be doing today. The complete Murphy’s First Law of Computing is, “A properly backed up hard drive will never fail, but the first
time you do not have a current backup, your hard
drive will always fail at the most inopportune
time.” Sadly, all too many of us learn the importance of a backup immediately after our hard drive
fails, as we come to the realization that all is lost.
June should not really be the backup awareness
month; every month should be backup awareness
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Dealing With Red-Eye in Photographs
By Susy Ball, NVPCUG Digital Photography SIG Leader
Red-eye is a photography term that refers to the
red color that appears in the eyes of some subjects
in a photograph. This happens in pictures of both
people and animals. Red-eye usually occurs when
the flash is positioned too close to the camera’s lens
and the light is reflected back to the camera from a
subject’s retina through her dilated pupils. Many
point-and-shoot cameras come with a feature to
help prevent red-eye. It’s called the red-eye reduction mode. The camera fires one or more preflashes
before taking the actual photo. These preflashes
cause the subject’s pupils to contract slightly, which
reduces the red-eye effect. This is not an absolute
solution to resolving red-eye, but it does work if
you’re in an area with low light. (This works well
for posed group shots, but is not practical for snapshots.) A better alternative is to turn on all the lights
you can in the room. The added light will help to
shrink the subject’s pupils and reduce the amount of
light reflected off the retina.
You might also consider using an external or
slave flash. With an external flash, you can angle
the flash slightly higher than the subject you are
photographing. This way, the flash doesn’t go directly into the subject’s face. A better alternative is
to point the flash up at the ceiling so the flash’s
light can reflect off the ceiling and down onto the
subject. This can also help provide a softer look to
the subject because the flash isn’t directly in the
subject’s face.
You may not have this choice, though, because most point-and-shoot cameras have a fixed
flash and don’t allow the addition of an external
one. If this is the case, you can get an external flash
called booster flash, such as the Quantaray MS-1,
which doesn’t connect to the camera like most external flashes. The slave flash option is helpful in
reducing red-eye because it has a sensor on it that
detects when the camera’s flash has been fired, then
the slave flash fires instantly afterward, just before
the camera’s shutter closes. If you don’t want to invest the time and energy it takes to use an external
or slave flash, another alternative to correct the effects of red-eye is through photo-editing software.
Almost all photo-editing software comes with
some red-eye reduction tool. Some are better than
others, though. There are some programs that detect
only the color red and change the color to black or
brown. Some of the more popular programs, such as
Corel Paint Shop Pro and Ulead PhotoImpact, let
you change the red-eye to whatever color you’d
like. This way if your subject has blue eyes, you can
turn the red eyes to blue. In some photos many eyes
need repairing, and it's easy with the new photo programs available today.
Join us in the digital camera SIG and learn some
of the techniques available when editing your photos.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 7
Web 2.0 and the Small Office/Home Office (Soho)
By John Abbott, member of the Bentsen Grove Resort Computer Club, Mission Texas
www.bgrcc.com john( at )bgrcc.com
Will the evolution of Web 2.0 have any lasting effect on proprietary software vendors? I believe so,
even if to a limited extent. There are a myriad of new
Web 2.0 companies springing up, each offering something unique. For some people, this will prove satisfactory enough that they will no longer purchase proprietary mail programs or word processors or possibly
even spreadsheets.
The advent of Open Office has most certainly put a
dent in the profit margins of Microsoft's Office Suite.
There is a new look coming from Microsoft Office
that adds a lot of eye candy to their existing Suite, but
not a lot of additional function. I believe that between
Open Source and the Web 2.0 companies the bottom
line at Microsoft will feel their presence.
Microsoft is reacting to the popular features of
Mozilla's Firefox browser by copying most of them
into Internet Explorer 7. But IE7 still doesn't have
several of the most advanced features of Firefox, like
ad blocking and several extensions made available for
free download. And the folks at Mozilla aren't waiting for Microsoft to catch up; they are already beta
testing Flock, a Web 2.0-oriented browser with blogging and social tagging built into its rich function
package. However, if you don't consider yourself a
true Web 2.0 juggernaut, then you may not enjoy it as
much. It is designed to accommodate the blog grabbing and social bookmarking of Web sites.
Google is clearly among the leaders in Web 2.0
features. They offer online mail, online calendar, financial portfolio tracking, the best search engine,
news aggregated to your personal interests, image
search, even a Linux search engine or a couple of
other specialized search engines. And Google was the
company that forced the e-mail providers into offering 2 Gigabites of storage for their mail. http://
But there are other companies close on the heels
of Google. My current favorite is inbox.com. Inbox
offers personalized e-mail, with spell checker, rich
text (font control) manageable folders and the absolutely best spam system on the Internet. You can set
your Spam to capture any mail not from someone in
your address book. Or you can set it to challenge any-
one not in your book and then hold that challenged
mail in an "Unverified" folder where you can accept
or permanently reject it. Along with the e-mail, you
are offered 2 Gb of storage, with folders containing
your various upload/download type .: music, documents, pictures or files. And if that weren't enough,
Inbox also offers a calendar that e-mails you up to 3
reminders on calendared events. http://
Another great company is Zoho. Zoho derives its
name from SOHO (small office/home office) and it
has laid in virtually everything one would need. The
Zoho stable contains e-mail, spread sheets, planners,
collaborative white boards, etc. Their banner program
is Zoho Virtual Office, which is complete with reminder calendars, e-mail, a virtual drive (only with
XP) Instant Messaging, and task management. All of
it can be collaborative for up to 10 users. Not all of
the features are available on the free packages, but a
small version is available for you to try before you
buy: http://www.zoho.com.
The only thing missing from a small office/home
office would be a telephone. Ah, but you can have
that online too--from full-service phone systems like
Packet8 to totally free Gizmo and Skype. The Packet8
system will give you an adapter to plug your phone
into, or you can buy a Uniden phone system with a
base phone and up to 10 wireless handsets for $79. Or
you can use your current phone connected into their
free adapter and you’re up -- both systems carry a $20
a month fee for caller ID, three-way calling, and your
choice of area code. And, depending on where you
live, you can keep your phone number. If you want to
get exotic you can buy their VideoPhone and then pay
the same $20 a month. http://www.packet8.net/
But for the true Web 2.0 user, Skype or Gizmo
reign supreme. Each is totally free and has adapters
for a Web camera. Of course, if you are not calling
another SIP subscriber you will have to buy an outgoing and an incoming outside line. I prefer using
Gizmo because it has superior audio setup and a test
point to call to check for echo suppression or the lack
thereof. http://www.gizmoproject . com http://
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 8
(continued on page 9)
Watch Out for Phone Phishing
From TNPCNewsletter(c) 2006 Dan Butler
Dan Butler is the Editor-in-Chief of TNPCNewsletter.com
TNPC Newsletter, July 11, 2006
We have talked about Phishing scams in the past.
These are e-mails disguised as requests from a bank,
PayPal, or other company. They are designed to get
you to part with your login information to these services.
The latest variation is called "Phone Phishing".
Here is what happens. You receive a prerecorded
message claiming to be from your credit card company telling you there has suspicious activity on
your card. You are then directed to call a different
number to resolve the matter. When you call the
next number you are asked for your card number
before you can speak to a representative. Giving
your number is a routine part of calling credit card
companies so little suspicion is raised. Of course the
number is bogus and thieves are collecting your card
(continued from page 8)
you can always use the services of Gizmo,
which offers a free conference system. For those
using Gizmo, it is entirely free. Those checking
into the conference from their cell phones or landline phone will pay the standard rate to their provider. There is a great company called Live Office
that gives you much better control (mute, mute
group, roll call, etc.) and it too is absolutely free.
The quality of its connection is much improved
over Gizmo. And should you need to step up to a
toll-free call-in system, Live Office offers them for
a variety of rates.
I have heard of this scam working along a
"verify your password by phone" for services like
eBay and PayPal.
The call is prerecorded and can be sent out via
computerized "war dialers". No human interaction
necessary. And with widely available Voice Over
Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology the location of
the scammer is meaningless.
As always be careful with your information.
How do you protect yourself? Same as with email scams. Don't call the number in the phone message. Call the official number of your bank or institution. If they need to speak with you they will know
about it there. If they have no record of requesting
you to call just ignore it totally.
Take a few minutes right now and note the
phone numbers and web addresses for the financial
institutions you interact with. When something crops
up give them a call. Credit cards usually have the
number right on the back. I have pulled a card out to
call the phone number and found it worn off. So go
ahead and write the numbers down now.
In all cases don't take these things too personally.
Nobody sat down and said I am going to call only
this person. It is just like spam. They send thousands
to millions of these out and hope a few people bite.
Let's be careful out there.
And now you are equipped to take your entire
home office with you in a USB thumb drive. And,
depending on the version you use, it can all be
automatically encrypted. SOHO has become portable and secure.
The Editorial Committee of the Association
of Personal Computer User Groups has provided
this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 9
The New, the Best, and the Worst
Collected by Pim Borman, Website Editor, SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
Times Change
Leafing back through old copies of The P-See UrGent, I notice that I started this monthly column in
February, 1998. That makes this about the 80th installment – hard to believe. It started out as a discussion of things New, Best or Worst in the computer
world, but much has changed since then. We are no
longer impressed with incremental improvements in
CPU performance. Arguments over the most proficient Web search engine have pretty well been settled for now. Discussions of viruses and other malware have grown way beyond the scope of this column. LCD monitors are no longer “prohibitively
expensive, suffer from poor brightness, a narrow
viewing angle, and relatively sluggish refresh rates.”
I began to look for long-range trends in computer
technology. In my July-August 1999 column I mentioned the birth of a new Web search strategy based
on evaluating hyperlinks to identify the most relevant Web sites for a given search term. I specifically
described a search program, called Clever , that was
being developed by the clever folks at IBM and was
highly successful. Typically, IBM used it only internally and did not make it publicly available. As a
footnote I added that a similar program, being developed at Stanford University, was made available
in beta form. Its name? Google.com. IBM missed
the boat again.
carries three full-page in-your-face ads touting the
energy advantages of AMD Opteron processorbased servers (e.g.”You could've hired 250 engineers, 570 IT support people, 5,235 interns, and one
new CIO with the amount of money wasted by nonAMD powered servers”). No mention of Intel
(which is feeling the competition). David is starting
to kick sand in Goliath's face!
On the other hand, PC Magazine is now mostly
dedicated to gadgets, including a review in its May
9, 2006 issue of the Mercedes ML 350, which is
loaded with electronics and sells for up to 70 thousand dollars. A 20-page review of Vista, not expected to become available until January 2007 at the
earliest, reports that only 50 percent of current computers will be able to use it. Very few will be ready
for the much-ballyhooed Aero Glass interface without upgrading their graphics capabilities.
PC World stays closer to specific computer topics,
but how many “50 Best New Sites” and “Best Free
Stuff” do we need? The most important contributions of these PC Magazines are their product
evaluations. Otherwise, how would we have known
that AMD managed to overtake Intel in CPU technology?
Wi-Fi Progress
It is no coincidence that I read about Google in the
June 1999 issue of Scientific American. The most
interesting new developments with potential longterm importance are not first reported in PC Magazine or PC World, but in high-quality publications
with a more general readership. I often find interesting developments reported in The Economist, the
outstanding British weekly news magazine, as well
as on the Web site of the BBC News. Other good
sources are national newspapers such as The New
York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, but I don't get to read those regularly. As a sign
of the times, the April 22nd issue of The Economist
In just a few years, as equipment cost dropped to
affordable levels, wireless connections between
computers in households have become commonplace. Several IEEE standards assure interoperability between different makes of equipment. The most
popular standard today is 802.11g, capable of connecting at speeds up to 54 megabits per second
(Mbps). It is backwards compatible with the older
802.11b which operates at up to 11 Mbps. A third
standard, 802.11a, operates at up to 54 Mbps and
uses a different frequency range to minimize interference with other equipment. It is not often used.
The IEEE has almost completed work on a new
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 10
standard, 802.11n, that should increase the transmission rate to a maximum of 540 Mbps. In anticipation of the new standard, several wireless connection providers have been marketing new products that provide faster connections over greater
distances. According to PC World (February 2006)
Netgear's $180 RangeMax 240 Wireless Router
and $100 Notebook Adapter can connect at close
range at about the same rate (100 Mbps) as a standard wired 10-100 Ethernet connection. The router
has 3 antennas and transmits over 3 nonoverlapping bands within the allotted 9.4 Mhz frequency band to achieve this performance.
The high speed may be useful when you use bandwidth-gobbling applications such as VoiP telephony, network gaming, or streaming audio and
video. If you mostly use a wireless Local Area
Network (LAN) in your home to share an Internet
connection you have no need for premium highspeed wi-fi equipment. The fastest download
speed available from my local cable provider, SIGECOM, is 6 Mbps with its premium Xstream
service. At that speed, even the slowest 802.11b
equipment is adequate for short distances. The
802.11g standard is preferred for connections at
greater distances while maintaining sufficient
transmission rates.
Since I bought a new computer I moved the laptop
upstairs to my den at the other end of the house.
As a crow would fly, if it were allowed inside and
capable of penetrating floor joists and air conditioning ducts, the distance between the computers
is about 35 feet. This is well within the range of
802.11g equipment in open areas, but due to the
intervening obstacles I was unable to establish a
reliable connection between my standard Netgear
router and the Dell laptop with its built-in Dellbrand, 802.11g capable Wi-Fi adapter. I disabled
that adapter and plugged in a standard Netgear
wireless USB adapter (WG111v2) with the included USB cable. This gave me a strong connection to the router at the other end of the house,
with a reported transmission speed of the full 54
Mbps. Although the cable allowed me to set up the
adapter within several feet of the laptop computer,
it was actually sufficient to Velcro the adapter to
the lid of the computer so that it was roughly par-
allel with the antenna of the router. It goes to show
that the quality of the Wi-Fi equipment can make a
significant difference in the results when conditions are less than optimal.
Should You Shisen Sho?
Browsing through the games available with Linux
distributions such as Linspire and Xandros, I happened on a Mah-Jongg variety called Shisen Sho.
If you like to play Mah-Jongg you ought to give it
a try – it is definitely habit forming. The game
starts out with a square grid of Mah-Jongg tiles.
The size of the grid can be varied, but I found
24x12 a suitable size. The goal of the game is to
remove identical tiles in pairs, with the restriction
that a pair of tiles can only be removed if they can
be connected with no more than 3 straight lines
(horizontal or vertical) without crossing other tiles.
You can specify that the game must be solvable,
although that doesn't guarantee that you'll actually
solve it on a first try. The secondary goal is to
solve the game in the shortest time. The game remembers previous scores to let you assess your
increasing proficiency. My first game took me 40
minutes, but since then I have managed a few in
slightly under 20 minutes.
There are many versions for Windows available. A
listing is available on http://home.halden.net/vkp/
vkp/shisensho.html. I downloaded a game by
Daniel Valot from http://dvalot.free.fr/games.htm
that is well implemented, but Google displays
many other versions also. Shisen, in culinary circles usually called Szechuan after the Chinese
province, is also known as Four Rivers. Give it a
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 11
Tech News
By Sue Crane, Editor, Big Bear Computer Club, California
www.bigbearcc.org [email protected]
Ian Wright has a car that blows away a Ferrari
360 Spider and a Porsche Carrera GT in drag races,
and whose 0-to-60 acceleration time ranks it among
the fastest production autos in the world. In fact, it’s
second only to the French-made Bugatti Veyron, a
1,000-horsepower, 16-cylinder beast that hits 60
mph half a second faster and goes for $1.25 million. The key difference? The Bugatti gets eight
miles per gallon. Wright’s car? It runs off an electric battery. For a look under the hood, go here:
wrightspeed/frameset .exclude.html’,’728x445’,’
t oolbar=no,location=no, directories=no,
New security features in Windows Vista will
largely eliminate the need to run separate antispyware or firewall software, according to a new analyst report. Vista does not include antivirus functionality; Microsoft plans to sell its Windows Live
OneCare antivirus software separately starting next
month. But while the changes in Vista should reduce the risk for most users, the security features
mean upgrading won’t be easy. The annoyance
would come from features such as User Account
Control, which is to be enabled by default and lets
users run Windows with fewer privileges.
“Although the new security system shows promise,
it is far too chatty and annoying,” wrote analyst Andrew Jaquit
Virtualization provides not only a way to use computers more efficiently, but it also offers a new,
relatively painless way to install software. VMware
and other virtualization advocates are working hard
to promote the software distribution and installation
technique. However, licensing constraints pose a
significant impediment. VMware, long considered
the market leader for virtualization software, potentially changed the virtualization software market by
announcing that the upgrade to their GSX Server
product would be renamed VMware Server and
made available for free to anyone who wants it.
Although VMware Server is free to download, test,
and deploy, it may not be totally free to run in perpetuity. VMware plans to sell support plans for
VMware Server that are anticipated to cost $350 $400 per installation. These plans will be made
available once VMware is out of beta and released.
Plug-in Hybrids A few small companies will start
to offer services and products for converting hybrid
cars like the Toyota Prius that currently get around
50 miles per gallon into plug-in hybrids that rely
more heavily on electrical power and can get about
100 miles per gallon. But conversion won’t be
cheap--at least initially. California’s EDrive Systems will charge around $10,000 to $12,000 to install the extra lithium batteries needed to turn a
standard Prius into a plug-in hybrid when its service begins later this summer. At that price, and
with gas at $3 a gallon, it would take around
160,000 to 200,000 miles of driving to break even.
But some groups are looking to the do-it-yourself
crowd for a cheaper solution. CalCars is working
with independent inventors to bring the price of a
DIY kit based around an open blueprint to about
$3,000. Mass manufacturing, though, could lower
the prices dramatically over time. Andrew Frank, a
professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California at Davis said ”We can’t switch
from where we are today overnight. It will take 20
years or more to take the PHEV (plug-in hybrid
electric vehicle) to get into our society,” Frank said.
Nonetheless, “we can greatly reduce the amount of
liquid fuel we use for transportation.”
The next energy source: Barnyard animals?
Microgy, which has discovered that manure and
other waste products from cows, pigs and other
livestock is a largely untapped source of energy
The company builds industrial-sized “digesters”
that, through heat and microbes, reduce mountains
of waste into gas or electricity that can be reused on
the farm or sold on the open market. The plant will
start shipping natural gas methane) in the third
quarter and, when fully operational, will churn out
an estimated 1 billion cubic feet of biogas a year.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 12
AgraQuest is one of a rising number of companies
promoting biopesticides--substances that kill bugs
with selectively bred microorganisms, rather than
chemical concoctions. A novel fungus called Muscador lives naturally in the bark of a type of spice tree
found in Central America and other tropical regions,
emits a cocktail of about 30 gases that kills a variety of
pests. Muscador-based products will likely start coming out this year. Organic biopesticides comprise only
a small fraction of the overall $30 billion pesticide
market, but they are growing rapidly.
The DARPA plans to hold its 3rd contest for robotic
vehicles in November 2007, with a first prize set at $2
million. The entrants will have to carry out a simulated military supply mission in a mock urban area.
and complete a 60-mile course in less than 6 hours,
autonomously obeying traffic laws while merging into
moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating
busy intersections and avoiding obstacles. A location
for the finals of the DARPA Urban Challenge has not
yet been named.
Lego expects to release software, hardware and Bluetooth developer kits. The firmware code and the developer kits should be available by August when Mindstorms NXT is publicly available. 114 Mindstorms
fans have been taking part in an invite-only developers
program. The idea is that they will be able to write
books about Mindstorms, as well as create new software and designs for it. the developer program participants are now free to discuss their projects, and much
of that work should begin appearing on the Mindstorms Web site http://mindstorms.lego.com/?
domainredir=www.mindstorms.com soon. the Bluetooth developer kit details the Bluetooth protocol built
into the NXT microprocessor. That should enable users to design programs allowing any Bluetooth device
to interact with Mindstorms NXT robots
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Invitation to User Group Leaders and
Members at SWUG Conference X3
Fun in the Sun & Computers, Too! The SW User
Group Conference X3 offers fun-filled days packed
with vendor presentations, great food & workshops, a chance to talk with user groupies from
other UGs, and much more. The conference begins
on Friday evening, August 11, and ends with lunch
on Sunday, August 13. Workshops are offered for
UG leaders and members, as well as educational
workshops for enhancing attendee computer
This year the conference will again be held at the
Town and Country Resort Hotel & Convention
Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA
92108 . The conference rate is $99/night, single or
double. The rate is guaranteed for three days prior
and three days post conference. Come on down
and include the conference in a vacation! You
can’t sleep in your RV, but the host hotel has an
RV parking area. Please make your reservations by
July 19 to ensure you receive the conference rate.
The phone number for reservations is
800.772.8527. Mention the Southwest UG Conference.
What is the cost?
$50.00 if your registration is postmarked by July
$60.00 if your registration is postmarked by July
$75.00 after July 27 and at the conference
The fee includes six meals, vendor presentations,
workshops, conference T-shirt and Welcome Bag.
Please visit the Southwest Web site at http://
www.swugconf.org for details.
We hope to see you at the conference,
Judy Taylour & Patricia Hill, Co-chairs
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 13
Internet Fraud
by Bob Schneider, Editor of the PC Keyboard, newsletter of the Spring Hill Teaching Computer Club, Hernando County, Florida
www.sthcc.net Drbob1012( at )hotmail.com
Internet fraud continues to be the fastest-growing
crime in America (and perhaps the world). The
most common technique for fraud today is
“phishing.” This means that some nefarious person
connives you into to providing financial account
information. They do it by mailing thousands of
spam e-mails to lists of e-mail addresses they have
accumulated. Perhaps one of your friends sent a
neat joke to 40 acquaintances, including you (your
friend’s e-mail itself is, of course, spam). Someone
out there farms e-mail address. They love it when
your friend sends out those appeals and jokes—
because they know that every e-mail address they
capture (including yours) is current and good. They
then send a message like the one below (actually
received by the author) to those thousands of e-mail
addresses. It matters not if you have PayPal or not.
Many of the e-mails will hit someone who does,
and they only need a lot of money from a few suckers to make the effort worth while. Of course, they
substitute various bank names for PayPal, too.
Dear valued PayPal® member:
It has come to our attention that your PayPal®
account information needs to be updated as part of
our continuing commitment to protect your account
and to reduce the instance of fraud on our website.
If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your
online experience and update your personal records you will not run into any future problems with
the online service.
However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension. Please update your records.
Once you have updated your account records,
your PayPal® session will not be interrupted and
will continue as normal. Go to the link below.
Visit our Privacy Policy and User Agreement if
you have any questions.
The first link (to “account records”) does not go
to PayPal, but goes to www.doctori.biz/pp, a site
run by thieves, waiting for you to log in and provide
your user name and password for PayPal, or your
bank account or other financial service. The login
page will look exactly like that of your financial
institution. Once you finish “updating” account information, you will be sent to that actual financial
site where you can log in and see that everything is
in order. The second link (to “Privacy Policy”) is a
real link to your financial service. It is another part
of their smoke screen. But at three o’clock the next
morning, there may be some new account activity.
The next day, when you log in, you will likely find
that everything is no longer in order.
For your internet and financial safety, never respond to an e-mail asking you to check your account. If you are curious, call your financial institution. Also, you can always log in to your account
the usual way (not by clicking on a link you receive
in an e-mail) and check anything you wish.
A final note: tell your friends to stop broadcasting your e-mail address to the world, to spammers,
pornographers, body part enlargers and thieves. Tell
them they can comply with your request if they stop
forwarding jokes, requests and other such to you
and their other friends. Better yet, send them a
copy of this article. They deserve it.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided this
Thank You.
PayPal® Security Center .
Accounts Management. As outlined in our User
Agreement, PayPal® will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements.
NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 14
Thank You !
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
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Make check payable to Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group.
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NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 15
Computer Hysteria: Pew
by Berry F. Phillips, a member of the Computer Club of Oklahoma City (CCOKC) and a regular writer for
the CCOKC Web site and the eMonitor bfpdata( at ) gbronline.com
The word "Pew" could conjure up several images in your mind. For example, you might think of
a human expression uttered upon inhaling the exotic
perfume of a skunk! Perhaps you might think of an
aching back from that hard wooden pew at church!
What does pew have to do with computing? Perhaps nothing. Take caution, because you are reading in the CHZ, the Computer Hysteria Zone!
The Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent nonprofit, was established between 1948 and 1979 by
the children of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph
Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew, with the
creation of the Pew Memorial Foundation honoring
their parents' memory. In 2005, the foundation invested $177 million to fund the various trusts including the founding in 1999 of The Pew Internet &
American Life Project which studies the social and
civic impact of the Internet, often considered the
most far-ranging, behavior-changing communications innovation since the invention of printing.
The Project produces reports that explore the
impact of the Internet on families, communities,
work and home, daily life, education, health care,
and civic and political life. The Project aims to be
be an authoritative source on the evolution of the
Internet through collection of data and analysis of
real-world developments as they effect the virtual
The basis of the reports are nationwide randomdigit dial telephone surveys as well as online sur-
veys. This data collection is supplemented with research from government agencies, academia, and
other expert venues, observations of what people do
and how they behave when they are online, in-depth
interviews with Internet users and Internet experts
alike and other efforts that try to examine individual
and group behavior. The Project releases 15-20
pieces of research a year, varying in size, scope, and
Latest trends from the project reports show the
adult users are now almost equally divided between
men and women representing 73 percent of American adults who use the Internet. This represents approximately 147 million people. Here is what we do
online: Send e-mail (91 percent), use a search engine to find information (91 percent), search for a
map or driving direction (84 percent), look for
health/medical information (79 percent) , research a
product or service before buying it (78 percent),
check the weather (78 percent), look for information on a hobby or interest (77 percent), get travel
information (73 percent), get news (68 percent),
buy a product (67 percent), surf the web for fun (66
percent), buy or make a reservation for travel (63
percent), look for political news/information (58
percent). For lesser percentages of use in online activities visit www.pewinternet.org, whose Web site
was used to research this article.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided this
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Napa, CA 94558-0286
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NVPCUG Computer News, July 2006, Page 16
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