November 2006
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
Volume 23, No. 11
Inside This Issue:
2 President’s Message
2 Special Interest Groups
2 Calendar
3 Officers List
4 Making Adobe Reader Load Faster
5 The Part of Backup Nobody Mentiions
6 Comodo Desktop Security Tools
8 Getting Home Videos Into Computers
9 Zombie Computers
10 Tech News
12 The New, Best and Worst
13 You May Have Web Server Space
14 U3 Drives
16 New Search Engine—Ixquick
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 522 computers and 136 printers. Additional equipment has been
given to charitable nonprofit organizations and disadvantaged individuals.
November, 2006
Genealogy Program to Be
Presented at November 15 NVPCUG Meeting
By Susy Ball, Programs Director
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, November, 2006, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California.
The main presentation, by William Coop, will
feature genealogy programs used for locating and entering information about family members, including
Web sites for the research of surnames and other items .
of interest. He started doing genealogy/family history
in 1992 after visiting the LDS Family History Library
in Salt Lake City, Utah. This gave him an interest in
Bill Coop
finding his family roots, and he started gathering data
about his only living relative from paternal grandparents, his aunt. From
there he continued, contacting cousins all over the United States. Prior to
1995 he had to correspond with them by “snail mail,” but after moving to
Napa he got his first computer with a dial-up Internet connection and
thereby expedited his work immensely. He is a member of NVPCUG. Before retirement Bill was a M/Sgt with the US Air Force and then an Automotive Technician with the California Highway Patrol.
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
issues and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees. Don’t
forget that you can also e-mail your questions before coming to the meeting
([email protected]).
Following this, there will be a Computer Tutor session discussing
an introduction to ripping music CDs using Audiograbber. This is a computer program for reading music CDs and for creating your own CDs from
the extracted or “ripped” ones. The Tutor will be Michael Moore, a retired
Instructor in Computer Studies at Napa Valley College. Mike is also a
member of NVPCUG.
Need practical information that will help you make better use of
your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests are welcome; admission
is free.
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 1
President’s Message --
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 ,, 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]
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]
RAFFLE: We have an 11-piece toolkit with case to raffle off. It’s a
handy item to have when you want to upgrade the hardware inside your
computer or even for general home applications. If you already have one,
use it as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. Tickets may be purchased at the
November 15 meeting and you must be present to win. We might also
have a couple of copies of CASPER available.
HOLIDAYS PARTY: Our Holidays party is December 20 in lieu of
our regular meeting. There will be FOOD and FUN and a chance to visit
with members of NVPCUG. The party will again be at the festive Christmas House at Peterson’s Christmas Tree Farm. We also are going to have
a silent auction. NVPCUG will have a variety of computer-related equipment and software for bidding. You may also bring your own items to auction for yourself (it doesn’t have to be computer related). Contact Orion
Hill for further information ([email protected]).
At the meeting on November 15, a signup sheet will be passed around
to sign up for the party. If you can’t go to the meeting, e-mail me with
what potluck dish you wish to bring and the number in your party .
([email protected]).
MEMBER OF THE YEAR: We are looking for nominations for
“Outstanding Member of the Year.” This award is not intended to honor
the member who has given the most support to our group, but, rather, to
give recognition of a member who, based on his or her service activities
and other considerations, has provided significant support over the past
year or several years. Please e-mail me with your suggestions and reasons.
The Member of the Year will be selected at the next Board of Directors
meeting on Dec. 6 and announced at the Holidays Party.
ELECTION: The election of a new Board of Directors had to be postponed until December 6 due to the lack of a quorum at the November
board meeting. We have 16 people running for the 15 positions on the
board, so it looks like 2007 will be a good year for Napa Valley PC Users
Peace and Good,
Dianne Prior
NVPCUG Calendar
November 15
December 6
December 11
December 13
December 14
December 20
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 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.
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
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
NVPCUG Annual Holidays Party, Peterson’s Christmas Tree Farm
NVPCUG Computer News, November 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,
Come to the NVPCUG
General Meetings
Dick Peterson, James Stirling, Dean Unruh
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
Held the third Wednesday of each month
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
(Volunteer Needed]
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, November 2006, Page 3
How to Make Adobe Reader 7.0 Load Faster
By Joathan Hardwick (Dec. 2, 2004)
Like most other techies, whenever I install
Adobe’s Acrobat Reader I also uninstall most of
the pointless plugins, to speed up its dog-slow
startup process. If you want to learn more about
speeding up Adobe Reader 6.0, just ask Tim or Chris
or Greg or Omar or Kevin (“site:
adobe reader” is a wonderful search term!).
Now that the even-shinier AdobeReader 7 is out, I
thought I’d document my steps for optimizing this
new version. So here’s what I just did on two of my
1. In Edit-Preferences, do the following:
O General tab: turn off “Automatically save
document changes”
o Internet tab: turn off all three checkboxes
o Page Display tab: turn on “CoolType”
O Search tab: turn off “Enable fast find”
o Startup tab: turn off “Show messages and automatically update”
2. In View-Toolbars, turn off “Rotate view” and
“Search the internet.” Under “Show button labels,”
turn them all on so you can figure out what the heck
those icons mean.
3. Fire up Windows Explorer and do the following:
Navigate to C:\Program Files\
Adobe\Acrobat 7.O\Reader\
Right-click to create a new subdirectory,
and call it plugins uninstalled.
Move all the . api files from the plug_ins
subdirectory to your new plugins unin-
stalled subdirectory, except for AcroForm.api (for form-filling) and EScript.api (dependency of AcroForm.api).
4. Finally, go to Start-Run-All Programs-Startup, and
right-click and delete the “Adobe Reader Speed
Launch” link that Adobe silently added to your
startup process.
What, you wanted to actually know what all those
plug-ins did so that you can make up your own
mind? Move them back again, launch Acrobat
Reader, and go to Help-About Adobe Plugins to
learn what each plug-in does and what its dependencies are. Oh, and if you sped up Adobe 6.0 by removing some plugins, the update process will have left
some subdirectories under C:\Program
Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.O\, so if you’re tidyminded you can delete those too.
Of course, if all this seems like too much hard
work, you can just wait. I’m sure the good folks over
at will update their “PDF SpeedUp”
freeware utility to work with v7.0 before too long
(Update: Yep, they have.)
Update: A couple of readers have suggested that
most users will also want search functionality, in
which case you can keep Search.api and
Search5.api in your plug ins directory.
(Contributed by Orion Hill)
NVPCUG Archives and Handy Free Utility Programs to Be Available on CD at Monthly
General Meetings for Just $10.
Ron Dack has responded to the request of user group members for more of the CDs he has
prepared in the past. In addition to archives of the newsletter, he has included handy-dandy
free utilities like the latest editions of Firefox, Ad-Aware, Adobe Reader, and Hijack-This. Instead of waiting for these programs to be downloaded from the Web, you can have them for
immediate access on a CD.
Ron is doing this as a fund-raiser for the group. If you wish to reserve a copy, e-mail him
before the meeting at [email protected]
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 4
The Part of Backup Nobody Mentions
By Vinny LaBash. Member of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc., Florida
http://www.spcug.orsg labash,(at)
There are dozens if not hundreds of ways to
backup your data, but we're not going to talk
about that. We're going to discuss the most important part of doing a backup, the part that is hardly
ever mentioned. Do you believe that your backup
is a sound copy of your data? Would you be at
ease if all your files suddenly disappeared from
your computer, and all you had was your backup
to restore them?
If your confidence fizzled to zero, what's the
You may have developed the most sophisticated and comprehensive backup scheme the
computer world has ever seen, but you won't ever
know if it's any good unless you test it. Without a
valid method of testing, you can have no confidence in your backups. There are many things that
can go wrong with a backup, some beyond your
control, some not.Perhaps one day you were in
too much of a hurry, and you made a backup of
one folder instead of your entire system as you
planned. Hmm, no wonder that backup completed
so fast.
Your backup disk got exposed to a magnetic
field and scrambled all your data.
The CD containing your data was left in the
car, and excessive heat warped the media, making
it unreadable.
You encrypted your backup and lost the password to restore it.
You upgraded your backup software, and now
it can't read your old backups.
Your new upgraded backup software program
becomes corrupted, and you can't make a new
backup or restore your old one.
Your new backup program has a great innovative file compression scheme. However, it turns
out that it compresses better than anyone expected.
You upgrade your Windows Operating System and your backup software no longer works.
(Rare, but it happens).
Let's stop here before you get too depressed to
make another backup. What's important is to un-
derstand that a great many things can go wrong
even with the best backup methods.
The only true test of your backup is to do a
restore and see if it works. Does this mean you
have to erase all your files, and then run a restore
from your backup media? No. Fortunately, there
are less chancy ways of verifying your backup
One thing you can do is install a second hard
drive and restore your data files to the second
disk. If your original disk has enough capacity,
you can partition it into at least two sections, and
restore into one of the new partitions. Hard drives
have become almost dirt cheap, so this is not particularly expensive.
Another thing you can do is make at least
three backups and store them in three different
locations for safety. Keep one copy at home, but
in a different room than your computer. Store a
second copy at your office or a friend's house, and
do the same for him or her. The third copy could
be in a safe deposit box or similar secure location.
If you feel that such measures are not necessary, ask yourself if you are ready to perform the
ultimate test. Would you feel totally at ease erasing your hard disk today and restoring it from
your backups? If not, then think again.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided
this article.
Two of the volunteers shown in the
NVPCUG computers-to-Schools Program
work party photo published on page 4 of our
October newsletter were misidentified. The
caption should have identified Hal Bunnell,
Roger Lewis, and Bill Wheadon (left to
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 5
Ram & Reason:
Enter the Dragon: Comodo Free Desktop Security Tools
By Rob Rice, A member of the Computer Club of Oklahoma City and a computer specialist in Anchorage,
Every once in a while a company manages to push
my button; Symantec is the latest. After having bought
out my beloved Sygate Personal Firewall they immediately yanked it from the market. Though I had paid for
the Pro version, I could no longer install it, since it requires authorization. I am dead in the water.
Still, a nice thing about capitalism is that where
there is a void, it will get filled. Enter the Comodo
Group, with not only a worthy alternative to Sygate’s
Personal Firewall, but a whole suite of security products for free!
The Comodo Group gets its name from the Komodo dragon, a metaphor for the Internet, with a “C”
instead of a “K” to acknowledge a commitment to commerce, communications, and dot com. Comodo is the
“second largest Certification Authority for ensuring
Identity Trust & Assurance” on the Internet. In other
words, they are the folks who make that little yellow
padlock on your Web browser work. The Comodo
Group is the real deal, with headquarters in Jersey City,
USA (Yes, they have a real mailing address unlike some
so-called security products offered on the Web). They
also with global offices in UK, Norway and India.
So why is Comodo giving away a product? Though
the company does more than just issue SSL (Secure
Sockets Layer) certificates, apparently they feel the
need to build brand identity. According to Melih Abdulhayoglu, the President and CEO - Comodo Group: “If
we are able to write good software and give such valuable software for free, our name will be known in the
marketplace, we will build our Comodo brand and this
brand will be associated with security. And this will
help us sell more Digital Certificates and other services
we have as we will have a big brand!”
Simple enough! So what are they offering? Again
from the Comodo Web site, six programs:
Comodo Firewall, Comodo VerificationEngine, Comodo AntiVirus, Comodo AntiSpam, Comodo BackUp,
and Comodo iVault.
Here are the details of each product:
Comodo Personal Firewall 2.0, with a FREE lifetime license. Its sleek design gives an at-a-glance overview of your security status.
1. Highlights – it displays the latest Comodo news
and information about updates.
2. Traffic – it gives a high visual overview of the
last minute of traffic history in terms of applications and
network protocols.
3. System info – it provides information about your
system in terms of the hardware and details of all network adapters in your computer.
4. View Alerts – you get in-depth details on the
high severity risks that the firewall has detected.
5. Update license – you need only one-click activation of your free-for-a-lifetime Comodo license.
6. Computer security level – you can customize the
firewall security by using the slider to quickly move between preset security levels.
7. Vulnerability scanning – you can check the security of your firewall's configuration with Comodo's
online vulnerability scanner, HackerGuardian.
8. Security Monitoring – you get an immediate
heads-up on the status of the firewall's major components.
9. Protection strength - your overall security level
can be determined by the settings you choose.
Comodo Firewall, rated by PC Magazine Online as
an Editor's Choice, constantly monitors and defends
your PC from Internet attacks. It's easy to install and use
and passes the industry's most stringent firewall "leak"
tests. Unlike some other “free” firewalls, this is not a
stripped- down version but is the full, completely functional product. This free solution comes complete with
continual updates that are also free forever!
System Requirements: Windows 2000 (ALL);
Windows XP (ALL); Windows 2003 (ALL); 64 MB
available RAM; 32 MB of available free hard disk space
Comodo Verification Engine, also FREE for life.
VerificationEngine anti-phishing and identity assurance tool for Microsoft Windows offers an extremely
simple way to differentiate legitimate Web sites from
fraudulent ones. Place your mouse cursor over a site
logo. If it is authentic, a green border will appear around
your browser. So if you really wish to be sure you are
looking at the real site rather than a
clever imitation created to steal your identity, install
VerificationEngine now!
Comodo AntiVirus, again, a FREE lifetime license. The following is a brief description of the things
this program provides. Fuller descriptions are found on
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 6
the Web site.
• On Access Scanning - Always on, real-time
protection against threats.
• On Demand scanning - Take control by running instant scans on any file, folder or drive.
• Automatic Daily Updates - Up-to-the second
protection against the latest threats.
• Email Scanning - Automatic checking and disinfection of incoming and outgoing mail
• Process Monitoring - Continuously scans your
PC's memory for viruses.
• Worm Blocker - Monitors and intercepts suspicious mass mailing attempts.
• In-depth Reporting - Comprehensive logs of all
scans performed.
• Pro-active virus defense - Submit suspicious
files for analysis by the Comodo AntiVirus team.
• Easy, User Friendly interface - Sleek design
provides fingertip access to all major settings.
• Scan Scheduling - Timetable scans to run when
you choose.
• Dedicated Quarantine Facility - Isolate suspected files where they can do no harm.
• Advanced Heuristic detection Engine - Protection against unknown viruses.
• Scan Removable Devices - CD's, DVD's, external drives, USB devices, and digital cameras.
• Scans Network drives – gives protection from
any potential threats on your network.
• Scans Compressed Files - there's no hiding
place for viruses, even in a .zip file.
• Does not hog system resources – it gives maximum protection with no slowdown of your PC.
System Requirements. Windows XP (SP2) /
Windows 2000 (SP4 or later); 50 MB available space
on your hard drive; 128 MB RAM; Intel Pentium 300
MHz processor (or equivalent). Note - Not compatible with Windows 9x systems.
Comodo AntiSpam, also with a FREE license.
Install Comodo AntiSpam for free and reclaim
your inbox. Our powerful challenge-response technology authenticates the sender of every mail – a system that automated spam bots can’t get around. This
is the full product, not stripped-down “cripple ware,”
and it's free forever to the end user. Its features include the following: Provides total spam elimination;
has a no-hassle set-up; gives sender-based authentication; thwarts the spam bots; works with your existing setup; automatically authenticates your address
book; instantly migrates custom black and white lists;
gives one-click bandwidth optimization; provides
pro-active spam defense; gives maximum protection
with minimum drain on system resources; has an independent authentication database and quarantine
database; and others.
System Requirements: Operating Systems:
Windows 2000/XP; Processor: Pentium 100 MHz or
higher; System RAM: 32 MB RAM; Hard Drive: 21
MB of HDD free space; Internet Browser: IE 6.0 or
Comodo BackUp, also with FREE lifetime license.
Comodo Backup is the straightforward and powerful utility that allows users to quickly and easily
create backup copies of critical files. Free of charge,
it includes complete file and folder-duplication to
local network drives and FTP servers, intelligent incremental backups, e-mail reporting, extensive report
logs, real time backups with “synchronization” mode,
advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of
backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, and
System Requirements: Windows XP (Service
Pack 1 or later) or Windows 2K (Service Pack 3 or
later); Intel Pentium IV with 133 MHz processor; 64
MB RAM; 12 MB free hard drive space; Microsoft
Internet Explorer 5.01 or above.
Comodo iVault. Also with a FREE license.
iVault saves time by providing instantaneous
logins to any username/password-secured Web pages
such as online banking and e-mail account sites. It
also doubles as a 256-bit secure storage for private
and confidential information such as credit card details and Social Security numbers and protects
against the very latest key-logging Trojan Horse viruses.
Phew! That is a lot of stuff! And I must admit I
have yet to test all of these free products. Not for a
lack of desire but because we are talking about six
programs! I will say that I am about halfway through
my testing of the firewall product, and it does seem
to perform as advertised. But don’t wait around for
me, grab these six freebies and let me know what you
think of them!
Thanks Comodo!
Comodo -
PC Magazine Article on Comodo Firewall,1895,1969485,00.a
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided this
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 7
How Do I Get My Home Videos Into the Computer?
By Elise Edgell, President, North Orange County Computer Club, California eliseedgell(at)
I have stacks of VHS and 8mm tapes that I want to
convert to digital format before they are no longer accessible. I know that once I get the analog videos converted to
digital format I can preserve them, edit them, back them
up, etc. But, what technology is available? When I am
making a decision about software, frequently the feature
that sounded so good on the box and enticed me to purchase it, is not the feature I really use. It often is something that I was unaware of when I initially got the program but which I use the most and like the best.
When VCRs first came on the market, I wanted one. I
heard about the pros and cons of VHS and BETA formats.
I had a hard time remembering which was which. I purchased a VHS model and rapidly learned the different recording speeds and how they affected the quality of the
image. The next VCR I purchased was a BETA format,
and the image quality was much better. Since that time, I
have had a VHS camcorder, an 8mm and a Hi8. Again, the
quality difference between the three formats is noticeable.
I have not purchased a digital camcorder yet so have not
learned the differences between types of digital camcorders.
My first analog capture device connected to the computer with a USB1 cable. That did not work well and I put
the project aside for a while. I then received an ADS Instant DVD USB 2 capture device as a gift. By this time I
had acquired a couple of video editing programs. I had
installed them, read the documentation and attempted to
capture some video from a Hi8 tape. This did not work
well. I found that software programs are very touchy about
which video capture device they will talk with. Fortunately, the video capture device came with capture software, so I am able to transfer my analog video to digital.
But, not in the way I wanted and I am still learning the
Other users may experience difficulties like mine. The
software programs say that they can “capture” both analog
and digital video. They also talk about “capture card” for
the digital video. It is necessary to have a “capture card” or
“capture device” to take the analog information from your
VHS (or other analog input) and convert it to digital information. This is usually accomplished by connecting the
video-out and audio-out from your analog device (VHS
player, camcorder, etc) to the input section of your capture
card (this may be your video card) or external device.
When you are in the process of capturing the video, the
analog information is converted in the capture device to a
digital format (there are several such as MPEG1 and
MPEG2) and then stored on your computer. Once stored,
they can be used by video editing programs or can be
burned to a disk.
Please note, if you have a digital camcorder, you do
not need a conversion device—the information is already
in digital format. Depending on the type of camcorder the
digital information may be stored on a tape, memory card,
hard disk, or even on a DVD. If you cannot remove the
storage device and put it into a reader on your computer,
then the way to transfer data is through a FireWire or
USB2 connection to your computer. If you are using a
video editing program to enable the transfer, there are
some nice things that the program may be able to do with
the data as it is received. It may automatically create
chapters and provide other information that is handy when
you want to edit the information.
There are programs that let you transfer your converted VHS tape directly to a DVD.
The reason for doing this is to get the analog tapes
preserved. I know that I will never have the time to edit all
the old tapes I have, but I do want to preserve them. The
CapWiz program that came with my ADS Instant DVD
USB2 capture box has this feature. If you purchase a program that is not bundled with the capture box (or card) be
sure that specific version of that program will work with
your model of capture device.
Expect to put in some time learning the terminology.
Read carefully what the program will do and will not do
so that you are realistic in your expectations. Keep in mind
that what you are working with, once you have your video
in digital format, is a file. The file can be in several different formats with different characteristics. What I mean is
that, just like with digital photos, a file format that is really
compressed will not look as good as a larger file with
more information. When dealing with video information,
you need room for a lot of storage on your hard disk,
hopefully a fast one.
A fast computer with lots of RAM is also important. It
is only recently that video editing has become practical for
the home user. Before really large, fast hard disk storage
was affordable, the home user was very limited in the size
of file that could be edited. With today’s fast computers,
inexpensive RAM, large storage disks, and inexpensive
DVD writers it should be within the reach of many home
users to be able to preserve valuable analog tapes. Plus,
They can make home movies from them that friends and
family are willing to watch.
If you are planning to buy a new computer in the
near future, keep in mind the requirements for video
editing as well as the requirements for Vista.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups (APCUG) has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 8
Are You a Zombie? How About Your Computer?
by S. Jack Lewtschuk, Monterey Bay Users’ Group – Personal Computer (MBUG-PC) California blacklion(at)
There are literally hundreds of thousands, perhaps
millions of “zombie computers” out there. Is your computer one of them?
Creating zombies out of computers used by you and
me has become a major tool for computer hackers, unscrupulous marketers, and other malicious evildoers. A
computer becomes a zombie when it performs tasks as
instructed by someone other than the computer owner.
The instructions given to the zombie usually involve
distributing information to other computers, which it
does without notifying its owner. In every spare moment, a zombie computer sends out data, most of which
is spam that tries to get someone to purchase something.
Watch for “Zombie Computer” Warning Signs
•The computer seems sluggish.
•The computer seems to be accessing the hard drive
•The mouse or keyboard becomes unresponsive.
•Excessive “bounce” notifications from people you
never knowingly tried to e-mail.
These warning signs may also be symptoms of other
computer problems, but if you see any of them you
should investigate. For more information on zombie
computers and spam, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Operation Spam Zombies Web site at
Protect Your Computer from Becoming a Zombie
•Install a good antivirus program and make sure
you update it often.
•Install a good two-way firewall. It will notify you
when information is being sent from your computer. Unfortunately the WindowsXP firewall is not adequate for
this purpose—it is “one way” only.
•Update your operating system and other software
•Use an anti-spyware program to eliminate spyware on your system.
•Check your antivirus and firewall software occasionally to make sure they are running properly—often
one of the first instructions given to a zombie computer
is to disable the antivirus and firewall software.
•Don’t open unknown/unexpected e-mail attachments!
•Use caution when downloading software—buy
from reputable companies, and be sure to read every
screen as you download and install any software.
So, you’ve decided to download a program from the
Internet. Are you sure that you really need it? OK, if you
can’t live without it, are all of your security programs
active and updated? If so, click on “download” and cross
your fingers.
An Internet download usually comes with a
“prompt” from your browser—you’ll be asked whether
to “Run” (or “Open”) or to “Save” the file. What should
you do? Here’s the difference:
• If you select “Run”, the download file will go to
your “Temporary Internet Files” folder. Then it will
run or open automatically.
• If you select “Save”, you have to choose where the
file will be stored on your hard drive (creating a
“Downloads” folder on your C-drive might be a
good idea at this point). The file will sit in this
folder until you decide to open it yourself.
So “Run” is convenient, but “Save” gives you more
control and it’s generally safer. Once the file is saved,
you can run a virus scan on it and examine the file. On
the other hand, you shouldn’t be downloading something
of which you are unsure. Downloads from companies
you know—for instance, Microsoft, Adobe or Apple—
are always OK.
Even if you do choose “Run,” you may still have the
option to do some checking. Internet Explorer often lets
you view digital signatures from the download prompt.
After you click “Run,” a digital certificate message will
pop up. You can click on the name listed under
“Publisher” for more information. Under “Digital Signature Information,” it should say, “This digital signature
is OK”. Otherwise, the file is high risk.
Another option you might see is a checkbox labeled
something like “Always ask before opening this type of
file”. Other browsers might use different phrasing such
as “Always perform this action with this type of file”.
The phrasing can be tricky—the two examples mentioned here have opposite effects. So be careful with
options that include “always,” “never” or “automatically.” Select the setting that will alert you with every
download. Good luck!
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 9
Tech News
By Sue Crane, Editor, Big Bear Computer Club
Amazon Reveals Windows Vista Pricing
Preorder prices posted on the Web site,
Windows Vista Home Basic will retail for $199, while an
upgrade to this version will cost $99.95, with $89.95 for
an additional upgrade license. Vista Home Premium is
priced on at
$239, with an upgrade costing $159 and an additional
upgrade license for $143.00, while Vista Business costs
$299 retail, $199 for an upgrade and $179 for an extra upgrade license.
New Skype Phone Doesn’t Need PC
Skype announced a new cordless phone on Thursday
that sends and receives Skype calls just like a landline, but
without the need for a computer. The new Philips
VOIP841 plugs into a standard RJ-11 home phone jack, as
well as into an RJ-45 broadband connection jack. It can
send and receive Skype calls as well as calls from a regular home phone number, but you do have to have a broadband connection.
IRS Sets Refund for Individuals from Phone Tax
Long-distance telephone customers can receive refunds of between $30 and $60 on their 2006 taxes to reimburse them for a now defunct telephone tax, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said recently. The U.S. Treasury Department in May announced it would end its legal fight to
keep a 3 percent federal excise tax on long-distance telephone service that dates back to 1898, when a luxury tax
on wealthy Americans who owned telephones was imposed to help finance the Spanish-American war.
Light Bulbs Going Organic
The Ewing, N.J., company--along with General
Electric, Osram Opto Semiconductors and others-is tinkering with the idea of transforming organic light-
emitting diodes, thin sheets of plastic that emit light, into a
source of room lighting. Pioneer and Samsung Electronics
already use OLEDs for screens on consumer electronics
products. By increasing the size of the sheets and the
brightness, researchers think the material could become an
energy-efficient substitute for the incandescent light bulb.
simulator%2C+takes+deposits/2100-1008_36112862.html? tag=nl.e703
The Transition, a plane that can also be driven as a
car, won’t come out for a few years, but you can try a
flight simulator now and put a deposit on a future plane
too. Terrafugia, a “roadable aircraft” developer that
emerged out of MIT, has devised a flight simulator for its
aircraft (which can be downloaded here). The application
runs on top of the X-Plane simulator for Laminar Research. Potential buyers can also now plunk down $7,400,
or 5 percent of the anticipated $148,000 purchase price,
for a deposit on a Transition. The planes will come out in
late 2009. A fully operational prototype is expected to
come out in 2008.
Cars with Depth Perception. html?tag=nl.e019
Honda believes Canesta’s chips could help drivers
know how close they are to other parked cars, pedestrians,
and get other similar, useful information. Automakers are
also examining ultrasonics (sound waves) or stereoscopic
technologies to give drivers better information about their
Fly planes in a 360-degree Virtual Universe.
Take a tour of the Future Flight Central at NASA
Ames Research Center in California.
Homemade Car Gets 105 mpg.
Inventor Jory Squibb combines environmentally
friendly products and do-it-yourself gadgetry with the
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 10
“Moonbeam,” a DIY car that he claims can get up to
105 miles per gallon. The project took about $2,500-and 1,000 hours--to complete. Check out the step-bystep instructions on his Web site: http:// jorysquibb/id1.html
Motorola Sells Phones and Accessories in Vending
Motorola has begun selling phones and accessories
through “Instantmoto” vending machines at welltrafficked locations such as airports and department
stores. Under the plan, the machines will stock nearly
12 phones and 18 accessories.
Gas from manure.
Microgy plans to start operating its first two thermophilic digesters--large, heated vats in which microbes turn large quantities of manure into fuel.
Post-9/11 Anti-terror Technology: A report card by
Declan McCullagh , Staff Writer, CNET News.comt:// nl.e019
A CNN writer examines five useful ways of improving security--and five that should raise eyebrows!
In need of support:
1. Going wireless
2. Better search technology
3. Inspecting cargo containers
4. Smarter translation software
5. Faster chemical detection.
Raising privacy concerns:
1. Omnipresent cameras
2. Registered traveler
3. Backscatter X-ray (privacy advocates say it can
show body contours that are so exact it amounts
to a “virtual strip search.”)
4. “Brain fingerprinting”
5. DNA dragnets.
dates. Instant Access to 94,081 Device Driver Updates:
Windows Vista RC1 Now Downloadable By Anyone.
First, it went to a select group of technical beta testers.
Then to those who had tested Beta 2. As of September
14, however, Windows Vista Release Candidate (RC) 1
is now available to anyone interested in testing the
Free Music Downloads. SpiralFrog, a new music
download service, said it will make Vivendi’s Universal Music Group’s catalog available for free legal
downloading in the United States and Canada. SpiralFrog’s business model is based on sharing income from
advertising with content partners like Universal. http://,1895,2009739,00.asp
Free PDF Books From Google. Google Book
Search now offers PDF files of scanned books that
can be downloaded and printed for free. Readers
can find the books by choosing the “Full view
books” option on the Google Book Search home
page before they activate their search. Once they
have chosen a book from the results page, a
download button is clearly visible on the top-right
corner of the page. Just be sure it doesn’t cost you
more to print the book than it would to purchase it!
The Editorial Committee of the Association
of Personal Computer User Groups has provided
this article.
Canon to recall copiers that can catch fire.
Japan’s Canon will recall more than 140,000 personal copiers made in Japan between 1987 and 1997
due to a faulty connection involving the power cord.
FREE Driver Update for PC Magazine Members.
Are your computer’s drivers up to date? Stop wondering and get a free computer scan for instant driver upNVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 11
The New, the Best, and the Worst
Collected by Pim Borman, Website Editor, SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
Backup, Schmackup.
I can't pick up a computer magazine without being harangued about the urgent need to back up my
hard drive(s) before the world comes to an end. I
have never been able to bring myself to follow that
well-meant advice, although not without lingering
feelings of guilt. On a few occasions I have used the
latest hot backup program to store data folders to a
compressed file on a backup drive. Then I wondered
if I would be able to retrieve my data from that file if
the need arose, and conveniently forgot to update the
Last year I bought a 200 GB external hard drive
to store backups. It came with a backup program that
I used to back up those data folders I wanted to protect. After I was done I had about 199 GB of external
disk space left. It dawned on me that it might be easier to just copy the data folders I wanted to back up
directly to the external drive. No big deal and no
worry about the integrity of my backup data .
After all, what is there that's irreplaceable? I edit
our User Group's Web site, about 12 MB by now. After every update I publish the site to my external hard
drive and two locations on the Web. Once or twice a
year I also copy the whole thing to a CD-ROM that I
give to our president for safekeeping. That's safe
enough by any measure.
I keep extra copies of photos and genealogy data
on several hard drives, and annually copy them to a
backup CD. Current financial and tax data I keep on
removable storage with backup to CDs, as well as
hard copies in a file cabinet. Personal e-mail correspondence gets backed up occasionally, although I
can't remember ever going back to letters from years
ago. I might have to borrow a computer from the
Smithsonian to recover my earliest correspondence,
written in the late eighties with a Textra word processor on floppy disks that actually flopped.
During the past two Christmas seasons, while
nostalgia was running high, my son Mike and I dug
out some old 8-mm family movies, taken in the 60's,
70's, and 80's, for conversion to digital format. The
old projector suffered from a broken drive belt, but
thanks to Google I managed to find a replacement on
the Web. I still had some splice tapes left to repair the
brittling film as needed. We used a Vivitar UVC-1
All-In-One Universal Video Converter to funnel the
images into Mike's digital camcorder. The converter
is a rectangular box with an opaque glass projection
window in the long side, and a condenser lens in the
short side. The camcorder, on a tripod, is focused
through the condenser lens and a diagonal internal
mirror on the projected image. We needed to adjust
the frame rate of the camcorder to obtain a steady picture. Mike then recorded the camcorder copy with a
SONY RDR-GX300 DVD Recorder on DVDs for
sharing with relatives and archiving. Now THAT is
worthwhile backing up! The quality of the old movies
is primitive by today's standards, but the contents are
invaluable and irreplaceable.
If you run a business I can see the importance of
regularly and completely backing up everything,
making sure to keep extra copies off-site. But as a
private individual, just use common sense and stop
worrying. What is there to lose, really? And while
you are at it, maybe you should look around the garage, the attic, or the basement for clutter that can
safely be thrown away!
TV Tuner Troubles
We live at the edge of the city of Evansville, with
a small, wooded area behind our back fence. That
provides great privacy and a wide variety of interesting wildlife, from birds, squirrels, and raccoons to
occasional deer. Unfortunately, over the past 50 years
or so the trees have encroached on the overhead
power line, and we suffer frequent power outages
whenever a storm passes through the area. Naturally,
that happens just when you are glued to the TV screen
to follow the progress of the storm on the radar.
I went looking on the Internet for an external TV
tuner that I could plug into the USB port of my laptop
when the power went off. As it turns out, there are
several models available. I first chose a Hauppauge
WinTV USB2 unit, about $90 online. Unfortunately,
it didn't work as advertised. The picture was all right,
but I could not get the sound to come on, and the software did not manage to activate the remote control.
FAQs on the Hauppage Web site did not help and the
latest drivers were identical to those on the CD. I tried
the unit on my desktop computer with the same lack
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 12
of success. The vendor, J&B Music, readily gave me
a Return Authorization number, although I'm still
out the shipping charges both ways.
Undaunted, I bought an ATI TV Wonder USB
2.0 tuner at Circuit City, $80 with a $20 mail-in rebate. Same features but without remote control.
Same problems too, except that this time I received
no picture either. Checked their Web site's FAQs,
downloaded and installed newly updated drivers.
Now I didn't even get the black screen. Called support who referred me to a help file on the FAQ site.
No luck. Returned the unit to Circuit City and got all
my money back. Oh well... If you know of a reliable
external USB2 TV Tuner, please let me know. It better be good this time.
For those of you with an interest in the Linspire
Linux distribution, there is now a free distro called
Freespire. It is essentially the same as Linspire 5.1,
without some help files, but with developers utilities.
To quote “The regular, complete version includes legally-licensed, 3rd party codecs,
drivers and software, to offer better hardware, file
type, and multimedia support. Freespire includes
turn-key, out-of-the-box support for MP3, Windows
Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, Real, ATI drivers,
nVidia drivers, proprietary WiFi drivers, modem
drivers, fonts, and so on.”
It has all the functionality of Linspire 5.1, in-
cluding some new features forthcoming in Linspire
6.0. The expectation is that Freespire will function
as a core around which volunteer programmers will
add new functionality under the Open Source system, similar to other Open Source projects such as
Firefox, Thunderbird, and Meanwhile, if you were thinking of giving Linspire a try
but were unwilling to pay $40 for the program, you
can now use Freespire for free and have essentially
the same functionality.
Dell DeCrapifier
Dell stock has gone down more than 50 percent
during the last several years. Many reasons are
given, including the presumed ineptness of its CEO
during the last two years, Kevin Rollins. Specifically
mentioned are poor customer service and the loss of
key personnel (The Wall Street Journal 8/22/06).
There is no mention of the disgust of many new Dell
customers when they find their new computer loaded
with unwanted software and spyware that slows everything down and is almost impossible to remove.
Jason York to the rescue! He has written a script
called the Dell DeCrapifier that automatically detects and removes unwanted software from new Dell
computers. If you have a new Dell you can find it at (PCWorld September 2006).
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided this
Smart Computing Tip—
You May Already Have Web Server Space
If you have an Internet connection, you probably
have a free personal Web site waiting for you. Most
ISPs (Internet service providers) include a complimentary single or multipage Web site with your subscription. What’s more, most ISPs also provide free
tools to help you create a basic Web page, without any
knowledge of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).
Why would you want a personal Web site? People use
them to share photos, links, and hobbies. Some ISPs
let you advertise your business, and you can also use
them for school projects, sports clubs, and nonprofit
groups. Because the service is free, and the Web au-
thoring tools are often merely serviceable (not sophisticated), don’t expect a flashy site or an overly professional look. And most ISPs don’t let you define or assign a special domain name to your site. Instead,
you’re stuck with a clunky name supplied by the ISP.
But it’s free and relatively easy to create a decent site
that you can use to share information with friends,
family, and customers.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing.
Visit to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you.
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 13
U3 Drives
By Diane George, Webmaster, PC Community, California
This month’s column is half tips and half product review. I recently got interested in U3 drives,
partly as a result of some software I saw at the
Southwest PC User Group conference in San Diego
in July.
What is U3 and why do I want to know? It’s not
the successor to the rock band U2. U3 is an openstandard platform that allows you to take applications and store and launch them on a flash drive.
Several flash drives are offered with pre-loaded U3
applications on them. Verbatim, Memorex, Ativa
and SanDisk all offer U3 smart drives. Go to http:// for a list of
U3 drives and more information.
The drives come with software preloaded, such
as an application that will allow you to take Office
documents created on your desktop computer, and
work on them on another computer (also with Office
installed), without a trace of the files being left on
the second computer. This means that you can take
your work with you without a laptop, use a computer
elsewhere, like in an Internet cafe, without having to
copy the files to the new computer, including e-mail.
Other applications that come preloaded include
antivirus software for the flash drive, password storage and management, SKYPE, Zinio Reader for digital magazines, ACDSee for photo management, and
Migo (more about that later). In addition, there are
other free and commercial applications available at
the U3 Central site that are accessed from the drive,
including games.
How does this work? The flash drive has a small
partition that pretends to be a CD-ROM so that your
computer will autorun a launch pad that makes the
rest of the drive storage accessible—did I mention
that it is password protected and can be encrypted?
When you start up, a launchpad for the drive is
opened. You can password-protect the flash drive
itself so the first thing you see is a login screen. The
launch pad is part of the U3 system and is the same
on different brands of drive. The launchpad gives
you access to the applications on the drive and is required to remove the drive—you must use the
launchpad to eject the disk or you risk damaging the
When you plug in the drive, your system recognizes it as a USB drive and you can see it in My
Computer, as a very small 3.78 MB CD-ROM drive,
that will autoplay. It also appears as a 2 GB removable drive that you can copy files on like any other
flash drive. In general the device works, but I have a
couple of quibbles. I have had difficulty with installation on one of my two computers and I have not
yet been able to determine what the problem is. The
first time I put the drive in, it caused my computer to
slow to a crawl and it never did recognize the drive.
Only when I had the drive inserted at startup did it
allow me to use it. I have tried it on two other systems and it worked fine.
One of the software applications allows you to
save selected files, Outlook e-mail, contacts, tasks
and calendar information, and creates a desktop that
represents the desktop on a particular computer. You
can create two of these desktops. When you take the
device to another computer and launch the software,
you have the choice of using either desktop. A tab is
added to the top of your screen and when you click
on it, you see thumbnails. (See Figure 3.) Each picture is the desktop of the other computers. When you
click on one of the names or images, your desktop
changes—the My Documents folder contains only
the items that you brought from the other computer
and your e-mail client will show the contents of your
inbox and the other shortcuts are different.
I haven’t figured out yet why some icons are
from the desktop of the computer I am on and some
are from the computer on the flash drive. I need
more time with the applications and will write a follow-up. In the meantime, these drives present some
interesting possibilities and should be fun to explore.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided this
NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 14
Thank You !
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
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$10 Associate Member - a family member of a Regular or Student
member. Associate memberships run concurrently with sponsors’
Make check payable to Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group.
Mail application/renewal to: Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group,
Attn.: Membership Director, P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA 94558-0286.
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your
dues payment may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
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NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 15
Surprising New Search Engine—Ixquick
By Sandy Berger, Compu-KISS
Google has been my search engine of choice for
several years, but recent developments have made me
change my alliance to a new search engine.
Perhaps you read about it. A few weeks ago, 20 million of AOL’s customers Web search queries appeared on
the Web. These included the user’s ID, the query they
typed into the search engine, and other information.
Newsmakers picked up on the story because of some
of the dramatic Web searches performed. For instance,
AOL user 2708 searched for “I hate my ex boyfriend,”
“how to humiliate someone,” “free angry stuff to send to
an ex lover,” and “”. User 17556639
looked for even more vicious information with searches on
“how to kill a wife”, “photo of dead people,” “decapitated
photos,” “wife killer,” and “steak and cheese.” (Guess they
got hungry.)
After the sensationalism died down, many people realized that the true story was that search engines are keeping a collection of information that can lead to a personal
dossier of an individual. AOL’s information included user
numbers that were identified by cookies, but users can also
be identified by Internet addresses, bringing them closer to
our true identities.
All of the big search engines keep such information.
Recently Google, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo were subpoenaed to turn over information of this type to the Justice
Department. Of the big four, only Google refused to release the information.
In response to this story, one search engine, Ixquick,
immediately issued a press release stating that they are
taking steps to provide privacy protection for their users.
Ixquick stated that after a search, they will immediately
and permanently delete all personal search details.
I was impressed by a company who thought that protecting our privacy was more important than gleaning information from our searches and selling data for marketing
purposes. I had never heard of Ixquick, but I immediately
surfed over to I was impressed with
what I found.
Ixquick, which is owned by a Dutch company, is a
metasearch engine. That means that it searches several
databases to get its search results. Ixquick uses Yahoo/Alta
Vista, Gigablast, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Open Directory and 7
other search engines. It is available in 18 languages.
Ixquick marks the search results with stars, one star
for every search engine that chooses that particular Web
site as one of the ten best results for your search. This effectively gives you the relevancy of the search results.
Also, the Ixquick interface is clean and easy to use. It allows you to quickly choose if you want your search to find
only one of the words of your search phrase, all of the
words, or the exact phrase. There is also a place where you
can easily enter words that you may want to eliminate
from your search. You don’t need to fool around with
pluses, minuses, or quotation marks as you do with some
popular search engines.
I was extremely impressed with the Ixquick's International Phone Directory.
Just type in a name and city or state and you can actually find people. Ixquick's Reverse Directory can tell you
who’s calling when you enter a telephone number. With
Bigfoot and most other people directories now charging
for people searches, this is an extremely useful free search
Ixquick also has a comparison shopping service and
an image search feature. Like Google and others, Ixquick
offers a search toolbar.
After using Ixquick for a few weeks, I can honestly
say that I have been very happy with the results. Using it
in conjunction with Google gives you a wonderfully wide
selection of search results. If, however, you want to really
keep your searches private, then you will want to use Ixquick exclusively. After the recent AOL debacle, I feel
that Ixquick is providing a great service not only as a
search engine, but also as a leader on privacy issues.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286
Address Service Requested
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NVPCUG Computer News, November 2006, Page 16
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