September 2005
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Computer News
September 2005
Volume 22, Issue 9
Inside This Issue:
President’s Message
Annual Picnic Report
Special Interest Groups
Officers List
File conversion
Beware of File Sharing
Maintaining Your Downloads
DVD Burning Tips
Screen Image Printing
Creating Secure, Easy-toRemember Passwords
Wireless Internet Access
Chasing the Internet
Lessons Learned Too Late
Tech Tips
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group has served
novice and experienced computer users since 1983. Through
its monthly meetings, newsletters, on-line 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 350 computers and 109
Learn How to Sell and Buy on eBay at
September 21 NVPCUG Meeting
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, September 21, 2005, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson
Street, Napa, California.
Do you have stuff you no longer need that is just taking up space and collecting dust
in your home? Have you been looking unsuccessfully in stores for an item? You could
dispose of your old stuff and earn a surprising amount of money, or find that item and
buy it at a fair price, by using eBay. EBay, which is now celebrating its tenth anniversary, is the world’s largest online community of buyers and sellers, with
more than 157 million registered users, of whom 75 million are in the
United States.
At this meeting Kay Nagel, a highly experienced eBay user, will
present a tutorial on selling and buying on eBay. She will give an overview of how eBay works and show you how to register as a seller and as
a buyer, complete seller forms, and create suitable titles for sale items.
She will discuss fees and pricing strategies and outline how to create Kay Nagel
attention-attracting merchandise descriptions, take photographs that will
attract buyers and inspire bids, upload photographs to your seller’s listing, and package
and ship sold items. Kay will also discuss bidding strategies, finding the selling prices
of similar previously sold items, and payment options, including use of PayPal, eBay’s
online payment service. Using Kay’s tips, techniques, and strategies, you will find selling and buying on eBay to be fun, fast, and profitable.
Kay, who resides in Napa, has been buying and selling items on eBay for many
years. She has been especially active as a seller during the past year. Even as a casual
seller, she has often grossed more than $2,000 a month auctioning items on eBay. Kay
is the daughter and sister of NVPCUG members Linda Collison and Robert Eads, respectively. She is a designer/draftsman at Riechers Spence & Associates, a Napa-based
consulting civil engineering firm.
In the Computer Tutor session prior to the main presentation, Tom Kessler, Jr.,
will demonstrate Scansoft’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which, when properly set up,
allows users to easily dictate and edit documents, complete forms, and control most applications by voice. Tom uses this speech recognition product extensively. The son of
NVPCUG members Tom and Eleanor Kessler, he is the president of Bel Aire Engineering, a Hayward, California-based designer, fabricator, and installer of custom architectural products for commercial and residential buildings.
Our meeting will begin with Random Access, a period in which you can ask questions about specific issues you have encountered while using computer products and
receive helpful information from other meeting attendees.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 1
President’s Message —
EBay SIG Initial Meeting
More Opportunities
By Orion E. Hill
September NVPCUG Meeting
I=m really excited about the presentations
scheduled for our September 21 general meeting. For a
long time I have wanted to sell and buy stuff on eBay, but
have been unable to do so, mainly because I haven=t had
time to read through the instructional materials that are
available and learn how to use eBay effectively. If your
situation is similar to mine, Kay Nagel=s tutorial on eBay
may end our predicament.
Similarly, I=ve wanted to use speech recognition software to reduce the amount of time required to perform
various tasks on my computers, but haven=t had time to
research current products. My first exposure to voice recognition products was in 1984, when I sold the leading
package while serving as assistant manager of a ComputerLand store. Even as limited as that early software
was, it still showed promise of a great future. Since then
computer and voice recognition technology has advanced
tremendously. Unfortunately, the CompUSA representative who spoke at our August meeting was unable to demonstrate the capabilities of ScanSoft=s Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8, which many experts believe to be the current
leading product for personal computers, because he had
not had time to properly set it up. I=m delighted that Tom
Kessler, Jr., who uses DNS extensively, has agreed to
demonstrate its power at our meeting this month.
August Door Prize Winner
Congratulations to Tom Kessler (Sr.), who won the
standard version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 in the
door prize drawing at our August 17 group meeting. Tom
is very eager to become as proficient as his son in using
DNS. We are grateful to CompUSA for donating the
package, which has a suggested retail price of $99.99.
Annual Picnic a Great Success
Our annual potluck picnic on August 21 was a great
success, with at least 42 members and spouses attending B
too many people to easily count as everyone mingled to
socialize, fill his or her plate with selections of delicious
food, and participate in competitive games. Thank you
Dianne Prior for coordinating this most enjoyable event.
And thank you Dick and Sandy Peterson for hosting our
last eight picnics at your Christmas tree farm.
With so many people interested in leaning
how to sell and buy on eBay, is it any surprise
that an eBay Special Interest Group (SIG)
would form within the NVPCUG? Tom Kessler
(Sr.) is coordinating the organizing of the SIG
and has already collected some excellent training
The eBay SIG=s initial meeting is scheduled for
Wednesday, September 28, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., at
Tom=s home, which is located at 18 Ridgetop Way, just off
Pinewood Drive, in Napa. If you are interested in participating in the eBay SIG or would like more information
about it, contact Tom by calling (707) 258-1884 or sending e-mail to [email protected]
ABuild Your Own [email protected] Workshop
If you are interested in participating in the computerbuilding workshop being coordinated by Dick Peterson,
contact him immediately to get the latest information
about the three kits that can be ordered from PC Club, a
national retailer, and to select a time in mid October for
the workshop. Kits need to be ordered by September 24 to
ensure that everyone receives his or her kit in time for the
workshop. To contact Dick, call (707) 259-1712 or send
e-mail to [email protected] For kit descriptions and
ordering, visit the PC Club=s Web site:
Refurbished Computer Equipment Donated
The NVPCUG, through our Computers-to-Schools
program, has donated 42 multimedia computers, seven
laser printers, and one heavy-duty photocopier to Napa
County public schools since last July 27. We=ve also donated two complete computer systems to disadvantaged
Nominating Committee Appointed
The selection process for our 2006 officers has begun
with my appointment of a nominating committee chaired
by Roy Wagner. If you would like to serve on the committee or are interested in serving as an officer and would
like to learn about the various positions, let Roy know by
calling (707) 253-2721 or e-mailing [email protected]
Officer election information will be published in our October newsletter.
Sound Off!
Got a suggestion for improving an NVPCUG activity?
Want to help with an activity?
Send e-mail to
[email protected] or call (707) 252-0637.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 2
By Dianne Prior, Picnic Coordinator
Dianne Prior
A very pleasant time was had by the
42 people who attended this year’s potluck picnic on August 20. The setting in the redwood grove next at Dick
and Sandy Peterson’s Christmas Tree Farm was ideal.
Sandy had the tables looking beautiful with tablecloths and
flowers. Thanks a million, Dick and Sandy.
Also, thank you to Bob Kulas, who manned the barbecue, cooking our beef and chicken to perfection. The
meat, soft drinks and supplies were provided by the club,
Photo by Susy Ball
Photo by Ron Dack
except for the generous donations
of chicken by Ron Dack and charcoal by Dick Peterson.
Everyone’s delicious potluck dishes made it certain
that no one would go away hungry, especially with Susy
Ball’s rich cake (Happy Birthday, Susy). Susy and Ron
also took many photos for our group’s photo archive.
Much appreciation goes to everyone for pitching in to help
set up and then clean up the picnic site.
We had games galore, thanks to Orion Hill. The winners of the various games were:
Cribbage -- John Moore
Dart throw -- Orion Hill
Floppy toss -- Bob Simmerman
Horse shoes -- Mike Ball & Jim Prior (team)
Washer toss -- Jim Hearn
Thank you to the NVPCUG members who donated
game and door prizes, including Ron Dack, Orion Hill,
Bernhard Krevet, John Pitt and unknown other members.
Many have commented that this was one of the most
enjoyable picnics in recent years. It was nice, sitting by
the lake and getting to know our fellow members better.
We hope to see everyone at our next potluck event, our
annual holidays party in December.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 3
Photo by Susy Ball
Photo by Ron Dack
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2005
Board of Directors
The NVPCUG currently has two special
interest groups. By attending SIG meetings, you can learn about a subject in
greater detail than is feasible at
NVPCUG general meetings and can
share your knowledge with other people.
SIG meetings are open to everyone.
Meeting times and locations occasionally
change. For current meeting information,
see our Web site,, 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]
eBay SIG
Monthly, initial meeting
Wednesday, September 28
7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Tom Kessler’s home
18 Ridgetop Way, Napa
Leader: Tom Kessler
(707) 258-1884
[email protected]
Vice President
Orion E. Hill
252-0637* [email protected]
(Volunteer Needed)
[email protected]
Julie Jerome
224-6620 [email protected]
Roy Wagner
253-2721 [email protected]
Other Directors:
Dianne Prior, John Simcoe, James Stirling
Appointed Officers
Computer Recycling
Computer Tutor
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Greeter Coordinator
Membership Director
Mentor Program
Newsletter Circulator
Newsletter Editor
Product Review Coord.
Programs Director
Publicity Director
Random Access Moderator
Special Projects Director
Bill Wheadon
[email protected]
Mike Moore
[email protected]
Orion E. Hill
[email protected]
Steve Siegrist
[email protected]
Bob Simmerman
Marcia Waddell
Dianne Prior
Hilton Des Roches
Jim Hearn
James Stirling
Marcia Waddell
(Volunteer Needed)
John Simcoe
Jerry Brown
(Volunteer Needed)
Ron Dack
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
*All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
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]
For more information about
visit our Web site:
NVPCUG Calendar
September 7
September 12
September 14
September 21
September 28
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 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
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
EBay SIG meeting, Tom Kessler’s home, 18 Ridgetop Way, Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 4
File Conversion—Updating Your Old Documents
By Jennifer Johnson, Smart Computing Magazine, PC Project, August 2005
Think for a moment about the
memoir you wrote on your computer
several years ago. Where is that document today? Perhaps it’s on an old
floppy diskette in a box in your basement, and maybe you’ve given up
to open it, so you decided to
just let it rest in peace. Besides, even
if you still wanted to work on the
document, would you be able to open,
read, and modify it? Because most
today’s word processors are compatible with many older formats, chances
are good you’ll be able to open the
document using the newest word
processor version on your computer.
The first step in converting your
old files is to decide which word processor you want to use. The best choice
is to use your newest word processor
version that still includes all of the old
features and has the ability to convert
all of the formatting (or at least most
of it) you used in your old documents.
For this article we’ll demonstrate the
process of converting files from various formats to Microsoft Word 2003.
However, the process should be similar no matter which word processor or
version you’re using.
Because Word 97, 2000, and 2002
use the same format structure as Word
2003, it’s easy to convert old files to
the new format. Plus, Word 2003 supports all of the features of previous
Word versions. Because of this you
shouldn’t have a problem converting
most files to Word 2003.
A New Breath Of Life
To update a document created in a
previous version of Word or a different word processor than Word 2003,
launch the Word 2003 program and
click Open from the File menu. If the
file doesn’t appear in the Open dialog
box, you may need to select a different file type from the Files Of Type
drop-down menu.
After opening the file, resave it in
the Word 2003 format by using the
Save As command from the File
menu and selecting Word Document
(*.doc) from the Save As Type dropdown menu. If you want to replace
the older file with a new one that’s
compatible with Word 2003, simply
click Save from the File menu and let
Word 2003 overwrite the older file.
On the other hand, if you’d rather rename the file to preserve a separate
version of the older file, click Save
As, type a new name in the File Name
field, and click the Save button.
If you're curious about which converter Word is using to process your
older files saved in another format,
you can direct Word 2003 to display
the Convert File dialog box whenever
it needs to covert a file. To find this
feature, click Options from the Tools
menu, choose the General tab, select
the checkbox next to Confirm Conversion At Open, and click OK.
This method of converting files
will suffice if you only have a handful
of files to convert, but if you have
numerous files you need to convert,
it’s much easier to use the Batch Conversion Wizard that Word 2003 provides. This wizard only works if you
place all of the files you need to convert in one folder on your hard drive.
To find this wizard, open the File
menu, click New, and click On My
Computer in the Templates area of the
New Document task pane. Next,
choose the Other Documents tab, dou-
ble-click Batch Conversion Wizard,
and follow the on-screen instructions
on how to convert your documents.
If Word 2003’s built-in converters
cannot open your files, you might
need to install additional converters,
such as those found in the Microsoft
Office Converter Pack (
As an alternative to using one of
Word’s conversion tools, you can
open the older file in its native program and resave the document in either the RTF (Rich Text Format) or
the TXT (text) format. The RTF format will keep the layout and text formatting information you set up in
your document, whereas the TXT file
format will not. Open the file, click
Save As from the File menu, select
the file type you want to use—such as
Rich Text Format (*.rtf)—and click
Save. Once you’ve converted your
file to RTF or TXT, you can open it in
Word 2003 and resave it in a newer
format using the Save As command.
An Organized Solution
Now that you've converted all of
your files to one format, it's time to
delete all of those older word processors from your computer and free up
some space. For best results use Add
Or Remove Programs (Add/Remove
Programs in older Windows versions)
from the Control Panel. And just
think: The next time you open a word
processor document, you can do it
with ease using a single program.
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 information. 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 © 2005 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 5
Beware of File Sharing
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont TX; Radio Show Host
Web site:
Most of us have heard about the
popular “Peer to Peer” or “P2P” file
sharing networks. Countless millions
of computer users around the world
routinely download copyrighted music, software, videos, and games on
these computer networks, as well as
from “alt.binaries” newsgroups where
users upload complete commercial
computer programs, and other intellectual property. Ethicists have long
bemoaned such behavior, and representatives of intellectual property
right owners have long tried to shut
down such activities with lawsuits
and other forms of pressure. Such
pirates are alleged to have deprived
the rightful owners of billions of dollars of revenue.
Legal challenges to such practices
have met with some success, but the
recent US Supreme Court ruling of
MGM vs. Grockster has now opened
up another avenue. In a statement by
US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, “… that those who actively induce or encourage the theft of copyrighted works may be held liable for
their actions. … Our objective in this
operation was to find and dismantle
large-scale criminal enterprises that
illegally obtain, copy, distribute, and
trade in copyrighted software, music,
movies, and video games.”
Recently, Attorney General Gonzales announced “Operation Site
Down”, a coordinated international
legal and criminal attack on cyber
pirates, with law enforcement agencies from the US (the FBI), Canada,
France, Belgium, Israel, the United
Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark, the
Netherlands, Australia, and Germany
participating in raids on computer file
sharing networks, and arresting individuals allegedly engaging in such
intellectual property theft. It is noteworthy that two countries, reportedly
the major centers of piracy, Russia
and China, were not participating in
the crackdown.
Operation Site Down, in its first
series of internationally coordinated
raids, shutdown or crippled several of
the popular file sharing networks, and
websites offering pirated materials
referred to in cyber circles as
“warez” (pronounced “wares”).
Among the networks and sites raided
were RiSCISO, Myth, TDA, LND,
Goodfellaz, Hoodlum, Vengeance,
Centropy, Wasted Time, Paranoid,
Corrupt, Gamerz, AdmitONE, Hellbound, KGS, BBX, KHG, NOX,
NFR, CDZ, TUN, and BHP. Over 70
search warrants were executed in the
US, with several arrests reported,
while additional raids and arrests were
reported in the other cooperating nations. These services were alleged to
have been “first providers” who
posted the first copies of pirated
works, often cracking any copy protection or registration schemes integral with such products.
Once these services made material
available, it tended to show up on
warez sites around the world, where
millions could then download the material using P2P networks, websites,
FTP sites, and other online resources.
It is hoped that by raiding these primary sources of illicit intellectual
property, that much of the supply of
pirated content will be reduced. Attorney General Gonzales stated, “By
dismantling these networks, the Department is striking at the top of the
copyright piracy supply chain - a distribution chain that provides the vast
majority of the illegal digital content
now available online.”
A variety of online resources have
stated that the principles of many of
the sites raided were directly behind
the cracking and distribution of popular and expensive software such as
products from Adobe, AutoCAD, Microsoft and other software publishers,
as well as the distribution of recent
movies, including “Mr. and Mrs.
Smith,” and “Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith.”
"And by penetrating this illegal
world of high-technology and intellectual property theft, we have shown
that law enforcement can and will
find -- and we will prosecute -- those
who try to use the Internet to create
piracy networks beyond the reach of
law enforcement," so said Attorney
General Gonzales.
There is more to file sharing than
just the legal, moral, and ethical considerations; P2P file sharing has also
been a major source of computer
problems, as they also often install
spyware, viruses, and Trojans on unsuspecting computers. KaZaA, Morpheus, and Grockster, three of the major P2P file sharing networks (there
are actually thousands of such pirate
networks), have frequently been cited
as the vector utilized to infect computers, both with their requisite software, and by the content downloaded
from third party participants. Warez
sites are also notorious for installing
spyware that includes pop-ups with
pornographic content, key loggers that
can steal identities, dialers that connect to outrageously expensive international locations, and other forms of
threatening malware. Websites offering such content are often loaded with
active-x based, Java enabled, or other
content capable of installing unwanted software on the victim computer, hijacking browsers, redirecting
searches and purchases, and other
nasty processes.
Operation Site Down, and the
MGM vs. Grockster case should put
all of us on notice that behaviors that
may have been commonplace in the
past should now be halted, lest “we”
become civilly and criminally liable
for our online actions. I know that
many computer users rationalize such
actions with excuses such as “(big
name software publisher) is rich and
won’t miss it,” or “(big name software
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 6
(continued on p. 7)
Maintaining Your Downloads
By David Garcia, President, Little Blue PC Club, Northglenn, Colorado
[email protected]
Having trouble keeping track of
your downloaded files? Here’s a couple of easy procedures to help you
maintain, identify, and document your
1. Create a “Downloads” Folder &
When downloading files, (for example, you buy some software online,
and download it instead of having it
mailed) it is a good idea to place all
your downloads into a specific folder
so that you can always find them
when you need them. If you don’t
already have a folder called
“Downloads,” or “My Downloads,”
then you should create one on your
hard drive (normally the “C:” drive).
To create a folder on the “C:”
drive right-click the Start button on
the desktop, then click “Explore” in
(continued from p. 6)
publisher) has been ripping us off
for so long that it is time for some
payback.” Just because a file is
available in a newsgroup or a Web
site to download does not mean that
it is a legitimate “shareware” or
“freeware” copy. Most downloaders
of such software, music, games, and
videos are all too aware that the content is pirated, yet they participate in
great numbers.
To the pirates reading this column, or to the parents of children
illicitly downloading copyrighted
music and other intellectual property,
you have been warned. The feds
may be looking over your shoulder,
and may not like what they can see.
All Internet users leave an electronic
trail that is easy to track; please, do
not become a target of a federal investigation and prosecution.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups has provided this article.
the popup menu. This will open the
Windows Explorer. Left-click the
“Local Disk (C:)” icon to highlight it.
Then click “File” on the Menu Bar
and point to “New.” When the flyout menu opens, click “Folder.” A
“New Folder” is created on the C:
drive. Rename it to “Downloads” or
“My Downloads” as you prefer. To
rename it just right-click it and select
Rename from the popup menu.
Prior to downloading a given file it
would also be good, for identification
and documentation purposes, to create
a sub-folder within the “Downloads”
folder that identifies the origin of the
download. Give the sub-folder a short
name that identifies its origin. For
example, if you download some antivirus software from Symantec, you
might name the sub-folder
“Symantec.” Then when you
download the file place it into the Symantec sub-folder within the
“Downloads” folder. Any subsequent
downloads from Symantec should
also be placed into this folder.
Creating the sub-folder is similar
to creating the “Downloads” folder.
To create the sub-folder you left-click
the Downloads folder, click “File” on
the Menu Bar, point to “New,” click
“Folder,” and rename it. You should
now have a sub-folder within the
Downloads folder. The hierarchy
should look like this:
Local Disc (C:)
Downloads (or My Downloads)
Sub-folder (Whatever you
name it).
2. Documenting the Download
When a file is downloaded it usually has a cryptic name like
“Abc4205.exe” To further document
my downloads, I create a text file
within the sub-folder that identifies
the download. Within the text file I
give a description of what the
download is, when I downloaded it,
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 7
and when I installed it. I give the text
file the same name as the downloaded
file except for the extension. For example, if I downloaded a file called
“Abc4205.exe” from Symantec using
the procedure #1 above, it would be
in the “Downloads” folder in the
“Symantec” sub-folder. I would then
create a text file called
“Abc4205.txt,” and also place it in the
“Symantec” sub-folder. In this example, I would have two files within my
“Symantec” sub-folder: Abc4205.exe
which is the downloaded file and
Abc4205.txt which is my description
of the downloaded file.
To create the text file left-click the
sub-folder name (e.g. “Symantec”)
once. Click “File” on the Menu Bar
and then point to “New.” When the
fly-out menu opens, click “Text File.”
A “New Text Document.txt” file will
be placed into the subfolder. Rename
the file to the download file name
(without the “exe” extension). Now
double-click the renamed text file to
open it with Notepad. Type in your
description of the download and save
Using the above two procedures
gives you an orderly method of maintaining, identifying, and documenting
your downloads.
Article rights are reserved. This article
may be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, or transferred, for single use
by nonprofit organizations for educational purposes, with attribution to David
Garcia, Little Blue PC Club, Northglenn
CO. It should be unchanged and this
paragraph included. Please e-mail David
Garcia at [email protected]
when you use it, or for permission to excerpt or condense.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups
has provided this article.
Feel The Burn - – DVD Writing: 6 Tips for That Perfect Burn
Tech Tip 39, by Miguel Fernandez
For many computer users, DVD
writing (or “burning,” as it is commonly called) can end up being an
expensive trial and error process,
especially when burning video for
playback on set-top DVD players.
This Tech Tip is intended to eliminate the need to spend that hardearned money in order to achieve
that “perfect burn.” Please note, as
with many things computer-related,
many people hold strong opinions of
certain subjects, and this is
definitely one of them. This tip simply enumerates what we have found
to work for many people. While this
Tech Tip deals largely with DVD
video playback compatibility, we at encourage you to use
your DVD burner responsibly and to
observe all copyright laws for the
area in which you live.
Tip #1 - It all starts with media…
The bane of the DVD burning enthusiast is “coasters.” This is what bad
DVD burns are commonly referred
to because this is about the only use
left for a DVD disc that suffered a
bad burn. With high-quality media,
you are apt to get fewer “coasters”
per pack of media. The consensus of
many is that one of the best brands
of media available are the discs
made by a company called Taiyo
Yunden. Many also have success
with “major brand” media such as
Memorex, Maxell, TDK, Verbatim,
etc. They might cost slightly more
than standard or “no name” media,
but if you are seriously after the
highest write quality and playback
performance, it pays to at least
consider purchasing them. Not only
will higher quality media burn better
initially, but they will better retain
their burn down the road. A note
about Taiyo Yunden is that it is frequently blank (that is, it is not
branded on the non-writing side as
“Taiyo Yunden”).
Most manufacturers, “major
brand” and “no name” alike, usually
do not actually make their own media, but they contract out to thirdparty manufacturers to make their
media and print their brand name on
it. This may actually result in your
having two spindles of media with
the same name printed on them and
actually have them made by two
completely different companies. Because of this, many prefer to buy
their media based on the actual
manufacturer of the media (by a
method known as “Media ID”). Two
recommended ways of checking the
media ID, or “manufacturer ID,” of
your media is to use Nero’s
InfoTool or the excellent third-party
tool, DVDInfoPro.
Something else to consider, is that
many have found that DVD burning
drives are quite finicky when it
comes to media, particularly cheap,
no-name media. What this means in
practical terms is that the more inexpensive media may not work in their
drive or may burn at a reduced
speed. For example, you may find
that a spindle of 16x DVD discs that
you bought may only write at 4x or
8x on certain 16x drives. Sticking to
higher-quality brands helps you to
achieving the best possible write
speeds while maintaining the highest
level of burn quality.
Tip #2 - Check your drive manufacturer’s Web site for firmware
updates. Many users, especially
those who may be more technically
challenged, may neglect to upgrade
their current DVD drive with newer
firmware. Firmware is special instructions written onto a built-in chip
on the drive that tells it how fast to
burn, how to work with certain
media, etc. The nice thing about
firmware is that it can be upgraded to
newer versions to enhance the features of the drive. Manufacturers
commonly release new firmware for
many reasons, such as media com-
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 8
patibility or better/faster drive performance. As an example, BenQ has
released newer firmware for their
DW1620 drive to improve the compatibility with certain 16x media
(among other things). For newer
firmware for your drive, check the
manufacturer’s Web site. Firmware
is generally very easy to apply and
can improve your drive’s overall
performance. Note that if you purchased a system with a DVD burner
already installed, it may be an OEM
version, and firmware may be difficult to find for this type of drive.
There is one caveat on updating your
firmware as well: be sure to use the
firmware designed for your drive,
because if you use the wrong firmware, you can kill the drive and invalidate your warranty.
Tip #3 - If burning video, be sure
the format you use is supported by
your stand-alone DVD player. Not
all stand-alone players support both
DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW formats. Check your player’s manual to
see exactly what formats it supports
before you spend money on media.
Generally, older players have more
readability issues then newer players. is an excellent Web
site for finding such information as
your player’s model number, what
media to use, what formats your
player can use. You will also find
many great guides and excellent software. One word of caution: no matter the player, for video you want to
generally avoid using a rewritable
(DVD-RW/DVD+RW) media. This
type of media is best suited for data
(although many stand-alone players
do support this kind of media, some
people have still encountered video
playback issues).
Tip #4 – Nero is your friend.
When it comes to DVD media, the
consensus is that Taiyo Yunden is
the best media to use. Just like me-
dia, the consensus of many is that
Nero’s (formerly Ahead Software)
Nero Burning ROM is the best burning software you can currently use for
your DVD burner. The good news is
that the standard version of Nero is
packaged with many burners and is
usually fine for most burning needs.
Nero also offers a more advanced version called Nero 6 Ultra Edition, with
features such as video authoring, for
users who want to get the most out of
their burner. Because of Nero’s popularity, many third-party software
packages automatically tie into Nero’s
burning engine for making actual
burns on the DVD drive. Other companies also offer excellent software
packages as well (such as NTI and
Roxio), but Nero has quickly taken
the lead in this area in the last couple
of years.
Tip #5 – Advanced tip: Bitsetting.
This advanced tip is for those who
may be having video playback problems with DVD+R/RW media playing
on a DVD stand-alone
player. When a DVD stand-alone
player plays back a disc, it looks at a
set of “low level” information to tell it
what kind of disc it is (for example:
DVD-ROM; DVD+R, etc.). Some
older stand-alone players will only
play back discs marked in this area as
DVD-ROM. They may physically
have no problems playing back a
burned disc with video, but their firmware instructions are telling them not
to (because it is not marked as a
DVD-ROM in this area). There are
two work-arounds for this type of issue. The first is to actually update
your stand-alone player’s firmware
(see the Web site we
mentioned earlier for information on
how to do this and if an update is
available). The second is to have the
burned disc report that it is a DVDROM rather than a DVD+R/RW disc.
You can do this with a nifty feature
called bitsetting. Many drive manufacturers do support bitsetting or
“booktype change” on +R/RW media.
The method of changing the booktype
of your media depends on the manufacturer of the drive. Some offer a
utility to manually change it, while
others will automatically change the
booktype to DVD-ROM prior to actually burning your files onto the disc
when using the proper burning software. While this tip may be more advanced than what you may be looking
for, it does help solve some of those
nagging compatibility issues some
may still face.
Tip #6 – Advanced tip: When all
else fails, burn your DVD in Nero
using UDF 1.02. This is a tip some
have found to help with many playback issues. If the video DVD you
burned does not play, or you get a
"Disc Error," try burning the disc using UDF (Universal Disc Format)
1.02. If you have a somewhat older
stand-alone DVD player, there may be
a chance that it cannot properly support the newer versions of UDF
(burning software, such as Nero usually use the newer version of UDF
when burning DVD video). This “last
resort” tip has helped many with
seemingly insurmountable DVD
video playability issues.
Final Words
Following these tips, and taking
the initiative to do some research on
the subject, will ensure that you’ll be
quite satisfied with both your DVD
writer as well as anything you create
with it. While we have found that
some people may be quick to blame
the DVD drive or the DVD media as
the source of a problem, this may not
necessarily be the case, as we’ve seen
with tips 5 and 6. It is our hope that
these Tech Tips will help you make
that “perfect burn.”
From Tech Tips, Used by
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 9
Screen Shots
By David Garcia, President, Little
Blue PC Club, Northglenn, Colorado
[email protected]
Have you ever wanted to print out
what you see on your monitor screen?
This is called a “Screenshot,” and
there are several software packages on
the market that allow you to do just
that with various degrees of sophistication. If you don’t need that sophistication, you can easily use Windows to
get a screenshot. Just follow these
Press the Print Screen Key
(PrtScr) on the keyboard.
Click Start, then click Run.
Type “mspaint” (without the
quotes) in the Run box and click OK.
In Paint, click Paste in the
Edit menu
Click Print Preview in the
File menu. If the screenshot is cut off,
you may want to change the printer
setting to print in Landscape mode.
6) Click Print and close Paint.
You’re done!
You can also save the file if you
Click “Save” in the File menu
Browse to the folder you want
to save the file in so that the folder
name is in the “Save In” box.
Type a file name for the
screenshot; use JPG in the “Save as
Type” box and click Save.
Article rights are reserved. This article
may be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, or transferred, for single use by
nonprofit organizations for educational
purposes, with attribution to David Garcia. Little Blue PC Club, Northglenn CO.
It should be unchanged and this paragraph
included. Please e-mail David Garcia at
[email protected] when you
use it, or for permission to excerpt or condense.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups has provided this article.
Letters to “Late Nite” on Passwords
by Marty Shinko, Talk Show Host
Q05VIII.0: I have trouble remembering passwords, especially
those kinds of obscure, arbitrary,
random passwords that are recommended. Isn’t there a way I can use
something I already have memorized, like my birthdate, telephone
number, or Social Security Number
for a password?
A: Yes, there is a way, but it involves doing some encoding. You can
use something like a date or a phone
number to create a secure password,
but not as plain text. You would still
need to remember the scheme you
used to do the encoding. Fortunately,
you can write down the encoding
scheme (not the password!) without
compromising the security of your
chosen password.
Q05VIII.1: So why can’t I just
use my birth date, telephone number, or Social Security Number directly (as plain text) as my password?
A: You shouldn’t use such simple
strings as that because they aren’t secure, they aren’t “strong” passwords .
The idea of a strong password is that
nobody could guess it “in a million
years,” even if they knew lots about
you. In a pinch, you still could use
something simple like that, but only
for accounts where you don’t really
care if they get compromised, e.g.,
that account that you
give out as your e-mail address on
postcards and on contest entry forms,
that address you set up as a front for
most of the junk e-mail you expect to
get from giving out an e-mail address.
Q05VIIl.2: Are there ways I can
convert my birthdate or telephone
number into a strong password?
A: Yes, you can convert a simple
number sequence like a phone number
or a date, into a secure password by
using a substitution code, substituting
a prescribed letter for each digit.
There are nearly 20,000 billion ways
to substitute ten letters for ten digits;
nobody is going to try them all, just to
guess your password!
For example, you could use your
anniversary date as a password, except: substitute A, B, C, D for 1,2,3,4
and X,Y, Z for 7, 8, 9, and F and S
(i.e. Five, Six) for 5 and 6 (and letter
O for 0). In this example, the date
April 17, 1982, would be converted
into OD/ax/19YE, a string which
meets all the criteria for a strong password.
As another example, you could use
the first letters of the name of the corresponding month to convert a phone
number into a secure password, where
the digit “l” becomes “J” (for January),”2” becomes “F” (for February),
etc., so that, for example, (301) 2531743 becomes (m0j)fmm-jjam. To
make such a scheme more secure, you
can toggle between upper case and
lower case, e.g. (mOJ)fMmJjAm (it
doesn’t matter that several digits map
into the same letters [January, June
and July] — that makes the scheme
even more bizarre and hard to guess).
Q05VIII.3: What are some other
simple translations of digits to letters I might use?
A: There are lots of sequences of
names that could be used; for example, the solar system, the sun and its
nine planets (in order of their distance
from the sun) make a nice translation
0=Su (Sun)
1=Me (Mercury)
2=Ve (Venus)
3=Ea (Earth)
4=Ma (Mars)
5=Ju (Jupiter)
6=Sa (Saturn)
6=Ur Uranus)
8=Ne (Neptune) 9=P1 (Pluto)
(E.g., the first two letters of the name
of the planet are substituted for each
digit.) If you want to use unique letters for each digit, use “r” for Mars
and “o” (z=zero or just digit 0) for the
sun. Another alternative could be to
post the Boy Scout Law (“A Scout Is .
. .”
near your computer, and then
digits become letters according to the
first two letters of the corresponding
Boy Scout Law:
1=Tr (Trustworthy) 2=Lo (Loyal)
3=He (Helpful)
4=Fr (Friendly)
5=Co (Courteous) 6=Ki (Kind)
7=Ob (Obedient) 8=Ch (Cheerful)
9=Th (Thrifty)
10=Br (Brave)
11=C1 (Clean)
12=Re (Reverent)
Since there are 12 parts to the Boy
Scout Law, they form a handy translation table for the month entry in a date
being used for a password. Incidentally, there are many other ways to
translate month numbers into single
letters, like using the third letter in the
name of the month:
These would be fine for encoding digits into a password. However, these
are still not unique.
Q05VIII.4: Have you checked
about using signs of the Zodiac as a
substitute for the name or number
of a month? How would that work?
A: When substituting a sign of Zodiac for the name of a month, keep in
mind that three letters are needed —
the first letters aren’t unique, neither
are the second letters or third letters,
nor the first two letters. Also, to be
precise, note that the sign changes
near the end of the month, and it isn’t
on the same day for the month: from
12/22 on – Capricorn; from 1/21 on –
Aquarius; from 2/20 on – Pisces;
from 3/21 on – Aries; from 4/21 on –
Taurus; from 5/22 on – Gemini; from
6/22 on – Cancer; from 7/24 on –
Leo; from 8/24 on – Virgo; from 9/24
on – Libra; from 10/24 on – Scorpio;
from 11/23 on – Sagittarius.
Because of that, this isn’t a oneto-one mapping; “Can23” could have
come from June 23 or July 23 (and
there couldn’t be any ”Cap2l”). That
doesn’t matter if all you’re trying to
do is encode a date into a hard-toguess password, though.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 10
Q05VIII.5: Can you suggest a
simple way to encode the digits of
the day of the month into unique
A: You can use the Periodic Table,
not only to encode the day of the
month, but also the last two digits of
the year (there are now over 110
named elements); e.g., He/Si/19Th =
Feb. 14, 1965, or Mg/N/K-Nb for
12/07/1941. For the ”00”in the year
2000, you can use either
Fm” (Fermium), or “n” (for the neutron) for zero.
By the way, there are three possible symbols for “1” because there are
three different symbols for the element hydrogen: H, D (for deuterium),
and T (for Tritium), the only element
with unique symbols for its different
To help with translating numbers
into these code letters, you can post
the Periodic Table at your workplace,
or use a mouse pad with the Periodic
Table on it — how subtle is that! You
can purchase a mouse mat with the
Periodic Table through the site
Q05VIII.6: Using a lookup table to
do encoding seems like a lot of trouble to me. Is there a device that I
could purchase to do that for me?
A: There probably are specialty
gadgets like that, but you can use a
device you already have, instead:
You can use your keyboard to do simple character substitutions! For example, if you hold down the shift key
while keying in your telephone number, you get a really hard-to-guess
password, a string of special characters: e.g. 301-253-1743 becomes #)!
[email protected]%#_!&$# (and none of those
pesky escape characters are located
there on that top row). By the way,
you don’t need to hold down the shift
key for the entire telephone number,
and you don’t need to use the entire
phone number (or your entire Social
Security Number) in this scheme or
any other scheme like these, when
creating a password. If fact, if you
leave out a digit, or add a spurious
digit, or replace some digits with
“XX” (e.g., replacing the middle digits of your Social Security Number),
that makes the password more obscure. The trick is, of course, to remember exactly where you dropped
out digits or held down the shift key.
If you touch-type, try displacing
your fingers a letter to the right or
left, or up a row, when you type your
name, and use that as a password. For
example, “<styu=Djomlp” comes
from typing “Marty-Shinko” one
character to the right. The keyboard
could also be used as a mnemonic for
translating digits into letters; e.g., use
“R” instead of “4” (“R” appears on
the row right below “4,” as in:
“1234567890” =“QWER-TYUIOP”).
1969JUL16=launch of Apollo 11
1683sep12=defeat of Turks at Vienna
1582oct15=Gregorian calendar
The number of dates in history
isn’t infinite, but the history of the last
500 years covers some 182,500
guesses. Multiply that by three or five
different conventions (and cases) for
writing dates, and the number of possibilities approaches a million. In case
you’re concerned that anyone might
guess the date the Titanic sank as a
likely password, for example, personalize it with your initials, split before
and after; e.g., you could use
Q05VIII.7: I’d rather not bother
going through the trouble of encoding a character string. Is there any
hope for coming up with a strong
password that’s easy to remember?
A: You could use a famous date in
history, one that you find easy to remember, and one that’s relatively
easy to look up, in case you forget the
exact date. Some possibilities are
birthdates of a famous scientist,
statesman, movie star, singer, etc.
Here are a few examples:
1879Mar14=birthdate of Albert Einstein
1940Jul07=birthdate of Richard
Starkey (Ringo Starr)
1945 -v-08=VE Day
1945 -ix-02=VJ Day
1939sep01=beginning of WW2
1941dec07=attack on Pearl Harbor
1941 jun22=Hitler attacks Stalin at
l9l8novll=Armistice Day (WWI)
1912apr15~Titanic sunk
1986jan28=Challenger exploded
2003feb0l=Columbia destroyed during reentry into earth’s atmosphere
1963Nov22=assassination of President Kennedy
1903dec17=first powered flight
1957oct04=launch of Sputnik
1962feb20=John Glenn orbits earth
1969jul20=moonlanding (Apollo 11)
Q05VIIl.8: Once I’ve created a
strong yet easy to remember password, what other steps do I need to
A: One of the most difficult but
important steps to safeguard your
password is this: Don’t go telling anyone all about it! You may be so overjoyed that you found an unusual date
in history to use as the base for your
password (e.g., the day Napoleon was
defeated at Waterloo), but telling everyone about it defeats the purpose of a
password! Learning to keep quiet
about something clever you’ve come
up with can be quite challenging!
Marty Shinko has been involved with the
CPCUG since the early 1990s, as a volunteer instructor and advocate for beginners. He’s used computers for over three
decades, from PCs to supercomputers.
His interests include sub-atomic physics,
astronomy, epistemology, mathematics,
engineering simulation and computer
modeling and satellites, brain psychology,
sailboating amateur radio, and robotics.
He can be reached via e-mail at
mshinko.cpcug€ or via phone
at (301) 253-1743, or in person at the
“Late Nite” sessions that follow the
CPCUG General Meeting Tech Talks.
Reprinted by permission from the
Capital PC User Group Monitor, August
2005, pp. 9, 20, 21.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 11
Wi-Fi Wireless Internet and Network Availability
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont TX: Radio Show Host
Recently, one of my daughters
called me from a major city and asked
me where she could find some free
“hotspots” or wireless “Wi-Fi” locations where she could get free broadband wireless Internet access. She
gave me her street address, and within
moments I found several nearby locations where she could access the
Internet for free using the wireless
“802.11b” PCMCIA card she had
with her notebook computer. She told
me which hotspot she selected, and I
gave her the “SSID”, or “Service Set
Identifier”, a simple code, usually a
name, that identifies a local hotspot.
I recently purchased a new notebook computer for another daughter,
and this computer came with an Intel
Centrino chipset, which provided integral wireless Internet access, wherever available, whether at home or on
the road. As she travels around town,
at school, or away from home, she can
likely access the Internet at high
I travel extensively and always
take my notebook computer with me,
as I often find it necessary to check
my email, find restaurants, or locate
other information on the Internet.
Through experience, I have found that
many hotels, restaurants, airports, and
other locations offer wireless broadband Internet access either for a fee,
or for free. Now before I leave home,
I check a website, or
its twin sister site supported by Intel,, to determine what
wireless access is available enroute,
or at my destination. is one of the leading
interactive directories of publicly
available wireless Internet locations,
typically using one of the industry
standard 802.11 protocols. Standardization, as well as substantial downward compatibility, has ensured that
almost all computers equipped with
802.11 type wireless Internet hardware can effectively communicate at
broadband speeds. As I type this,
Jwire is listing almost 70,000 public
access wireless hotspots around the
world. The Intel companion site lists
almost 30,000 wireless hotspots in the
U.S., and about 40,000 international
wireless hotspots. According to the
Intel site, the top U.S. cities for public
wireless are New York City, with
over 550 public access locations, followed by Chicago (434 public wireless locations), San Francisco (412),
and Seattle (320). Texas is well represented in the top 10 most “unwired”
cities, with 309 public hotspots in
Houston, 250 in Austin, and 192 in
Dallas. California is listed by Intel as
the state with the most public access,
with over 5,000 locations; followed
by Texas, with almost 2,000 hotspots;
Florida, with about 1,800; and New
York, with over 1,600 public hotspots.
It should be emphasized that these
numbers are only the wireless sites
that allow public access, either for
free (sometimes with some strings
attached) or for a fee, and does not
include the millions of sites that are
private wireless networks. The listing
also does not include many of the hotel chains that offer free wireless access to registered guests.
Many of the free sites listed are
local restaurants, some hotels, many
airport terminals, RV parks, and other
locations. All it takes to access these
totally free and public sites is the
SSID of the wireless host and appropriate hardware; the Jwire sites list the
SSID’s of the public sites. When the
wireless access on the notebook computer is activated, the wireless networks within range can be identified,
and if accessible, the SSID can be
entered and connections established.
It is important that from a personal
security standpoint, these public connections are not often encrypted and
can be “sniffed” or picked up by anyone with suitable equipment; sensitive
information, passwords, banking, and
other critical information should
never be sent on an insecure public
In addition to the free sites, there
are many thousands of publicly accessible but commercial (fee-based) hotspots, often in coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, bookstores, some airport
terminal areas, and other locations.
These hotspots either require a subscription to a service, such as a cellular phone company or other third
party, or a daily or hourly fee for access. Generally, since these pay services require some type of access
code, they are slightly more secure
than the free public sites, but are still
usually accessible to a hacker with
commonly available but illicit software. Again, it is a good practice not
to type any sensitive personal information while on a publicly accessible
wireless network. Some of the commercial hotspots offer “WEP,” or
wireless encryption protocol, which
makes it more difficult for unwelcome
third parties to listen in on Internet
communications; but the methods for
cracking WEP have been widely published and are now only considered to
provide marginal security.
One warning about wireless Internet access; it is illegal to access a
wireless network without the consent
of the owner, despite the fact that
studies have indicated that about 80
percent of all private wireless networks, both workplace and home
based, are not adequately protected,
and can easily be picked up and accessed by anyone who wants access.
A popular hacker method of gaining
“free” broadband Internet access is
driving around town with a notebook
computer with 802.11 hardware, and
logging the wireless networks found,
with those same networks often
broadcasting the SSID necessary for
(continued on p. 13)
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 12
(continued from p. 12)
access. This practice is called
“wardriving.” In major cities, marks
are drawn on sidewalks and the outside walls of buildings in a similar
escapade, “warchalking” where
SSID’s and other relevant information
is written for all to see and access.
Locally, in a security demonstration, a
security consultant drove around the
business district of town, and logged
hundreds of wireless networks, 80
percent of which were easily accessible, as they were not properly secured. These included such sensitive
locations as banks, law offices, retail
stores, medical facilities, and other
choice locations for hackers. Use the
Chasing the Internet
By Gabe Goldberg, APCUG Advisor; Columnist, AARP Computers & Technology
A long-ago famous and favorite “I
Love Lucy” episode www.tvtome.
showed Lucille Ball and sidekick
Ethel facing an ever-faster conveyor
belt delivering chocolates for them to
wrap: they couldn't keep up. The
Internet sometimes makes me feel as
though I'm at the wrong end of that
conveyor belt.
I confess that I don't always reduce
online interruptions and information
coming at me. I'm not yet a recovering info-junkie, so this article is definitely "do what I say, not what I do"
The Internet is like the accelerating
candy conveyor belt. There's more
content (online newspapers, portals,
Web rings, etc.) and more forms of
content (e-mail initially, then Web
sites, mailing lists, blogs, streaming
audio/video, downloadable music,
Web cameras, etc.)
But even with today's pace of
change, whether we do it deliberately
or just let it happen, we create our
own online experiences. So we can
make it fit our needs and change it
when necessary. I've sometimes resisted dropping e-mail lists because I
once liked them. That's silly: my and
your most precious resource is time.
So I'll share time savers:
Tell people what you're interested
in; if they scan online and offline resources for you, you don't have to.
Tell people what you don't want! If
you don't want jokes, motivational
sayings, political news, etc., cancel
your subscriptions by asking people
to stop sending it. I like jokes, I like
technology, I'm interested in politics.
But some people just aren't on my
When you send e-mail or reply,
don't send unnecessary copies. Encourage people to not copy you unless
you need to know or do something
about the topic.
When replying, trim what you
quote to essential matter and
(especially) encourage others to do
the same for you. Bloated and repetitive reply-reply-reply notes waste
time while you look for what's new!
If you send common replies or
send periodic e-mail such as club
meeting notices, use templates (stored
copies of pre-formatted e-mail) so you
can just fill in details but needn't enter
text repeatedly.
Use e-mail and spam filtering.
Most e-mail software can automatically route spam to a special folder
(and, of course, I'd like to route spammers to a special place). Some spam
filters learn what's spam based on
what you flag, so their accuracy improves over time. My spam is increasingly filtered, and no real e-mail is
filtered. You can also set rules for
routing e-mail into folders for easier
reading and management. Based on
rules I've defined (special keywords
in e-mail subject and sender fields),
my e-mail is put in folders such as
AARP, Lists, To-Read, and Travel.
This lets me organize e-mail time,
prioritize my reading and answering,
and sometimes catch up by deleting
an e-mail category I don't really need
to read. And the best part is that I
Jwire sites to find wireless access, as I
do, but be totally aware of the risk
and security implications of broadcasting critical information. There are
a variety of hardware and software
utilities that can be utilized to harden
wireless access.
The Editorial Committee of the APCUG
has provided this article.
avoid interruptions of each note arriving, since routing takes place silently
and invisibly.
Set discussion mailing list subscriptions to "digest mode." This
groups list e-mail into fewer/larger
notes, sent occasionally, sometimes
once daily. This has two benefits: it
eliminates many interruptions, and it
greatly reduces the temptation to answer list notes, since by the time you
see something someone else has likely
already answered it.
Pick times during the day to handle e-mail, read favorite Web sites,
use instant messaging, etc.; ignore it
all at other times. This allows focusing on tasks at hand, reduces frenzied
multitasking (trying to do many
things at once), and lets you actually
finish things you start!
Don't be trapped by time-wasting
habits. Use technology that matches
your needs; change it for yourself, not
because people urge you to (there's
peer pressure at all ages!); adopt
changes such as broadband Internet
that save you time but be selective in
what it brings you.
Recognize that the conveyor belt
always wins the race and focus on
what really matters -- most of which,
after all, isn't even online.
This article originated on AARP's Computers
and Technology Web site,, and is copyrighted by
AARP. All rights are reserved; it may be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, or transferred,
for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for
educational purposes, with attribution to AARP. It
should be unchanged and this paragraph included.
[email protected] when you use it, or for permission to excerpt or condense.
The Editorial Committee of the APCUG
has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 13
Lessons Learned Too Late – Another Attack of the Killer Worms
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director
You may have recently heard
reports in the media about some
strange computer worms that attacked
thousands of computer networks, effectively shutting them down. In a
society that likes to place blame for
every negative event, blame has been
placed on a variety of places, such as
Microsoft for creating vulnerable
software, or to the users who had not
properly and immediately patched
their operating systems or updated
their antivirus protection. But very
little blame has been placed on the
miscreants who created and released
these computer worms.
While the financial damage done
by these worms, commonly called by
the names Zotob, PnP-worm, Rbot,
and others, was less than some of the
more disastrous worm and virus attacks, it was still substantial. Media
reports account for thousands of computer networks and systems shut
down while IT staff attempted to
identify and repair the damage. Typical of the damage reported, caused by
these computer worms, were the
50,000 employees of 13 DaimlerChrysler assembly plants in Illinois,
Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Delaware
and Michigan, who were idled for
nearly an hour while technicians restored the computers that control the
plants. Up to fifty thousand lost manhours of auto production can easily
amount to significant production
Other victims of this same series
of computer worm attacks, as reported by the national media, were
SBC Communications, Associated
Press, ABC and CNN networks, the
New York Times, Caterpillar, U. S.
Customs, and many others. SBC reported that the computer utilized by
its customer service employees kept
rebooting as a result of the worm infections. U. S. Customs Service reported long delays in processing international passengers as its computer
center in Virginia was effectively shut
down for about five hours. This resulted in major delays at locations as
diverse as Miami and New York as
Customs agents utilized printed lists
or backup computer systems. The
county-wide 911 emergency phone
system in Jefferson County, Washington, was disrupted for about 10 hours.
These are but a few examples of the
damage and inconvenience caused by
a recent attack of computer worms.
What these worms all have in
common is that they all rely on a recently disclosed vulnerability in several Windows operating systems, and
exploit a security hole in Windows’
“PnP” or “Plug and Play” service, a
feature intended to detect new hardware installed on Windows computers, and automate the configuration process. An August patch
(MS05-039) intended to close the vulnerability, which Microsoft labeled as
“critical,” was released on August 9,
shortly before the worm attacks, but
the time between the release of the
patch and the attacks was so short,
that countless organizations had not
yet installed the patch on their computer systems. The concept and crude
code of a computer worm that could
exploit the vulnerability was posted to
a security Web site often read by
hackers and crackers on a Wednesday
evening, and by Saturday morning the
first variant of the Zotob worm,
named Zotob.A appeared in the wild
and started its attack. Within days,
several other variants of Zotob have
appeared, along with a slew of similar
worms, such as the Rbot, and began
wreaking their havoc.
Some commercial computer networks using sophisticated antivirus
software that depends heavily on
“heuristics” or software behavioral
patterns, rather than the digital signatures commonly utilized by most of
the retail antivirus products intended
for home use, escaped damage, be-
cause they work proactively before an
attack can take place, rather than reactively, after attacks have been reported. One of the examples of such
commercial software that protected
companies from attack proactively
was Esafe, from Aladdin Software
Acknowledging that there are still
Windows computers that are infected
with the major forms of malware, Microsoft released a free utility that can
remove Zotob, along with its variants,
and several other major viruses and
worms. This utility can be downloaded for free at
com/malwareremove. It should be
noted that this Microsoft utility will
remove only a few dozen of the most
common worms and viruses and their
variants, such as Bagel, Sober, and
Netsky, but is not a substitute for a
properly updated antivirus program.
The antivirus software publisher
McAfee also had a similar free
downloadable utility at
vil/stinger. The free online antivirus
scans, such as those from Trend Micro (, BitDefender (, Panda
(, and others, can detect and remove much
more malware than the limited
downloadable utilities.
Sadly, pain is an excellent teacher,
and hopefully we have learned our
lesson. It is now more imperative
than ever that security patches be
promptly and properly installed both
on our home computers as well as
distributed throughout our vast commercial computer networks. It is also
imperative that appropriate protective
software, such as antivirus, firewall,
and anti-spyware software be installed and updated constantly.
With proper and timely protection,
we can do much to protect our systems from future attacks. 
The Editorial Committee of the APCUG has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, 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
Membership Application/Renewal*
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(Associate Members have the same membership rights as their
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$20 Student Member - a full-time student who is not eligible for Associate
$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.
* To request a Corporate Membership Application/Renewal form, e-mail:
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Offering Financial Services throughout the
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For more information about the NVPCUG, visit our
Web site:
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 15
Tech News
By Sue Crane, Editor, Big Bear Computer Club [email protected]
Free services are being used to install malicious code
Cybercriminals are increasingly
using blog sites, photo album sites,
fan and greeting card sites and other
free online services to install and
spread software designed to steal
personal information or hijack a victim’s PC. In the first two weeks of
July, security company Websense
saw more than 500 incidents of such
attacks. The free services are an
anonymous and affordable way for
attackers to store and spread their
malicious code. Be careful what you
click on!
Insect “extermination” via mini
Scientists in Lausanne, Switzerland, have successfully infiltrated a
colony of roaches with a micro robot
according to a report published in the
June issue of IEEE Robotics &
Automation. Called “InsBot,” for
“insect-like robot,” the mechanical
bug mimics the insects’ smell and
movements so the roaches have accepted it as their own.
Vector Capital purchases WinZip
WinZip is one of the most popular
shareware programs on the Web.
More than 140 million people have
downloaded the program, and it’s
downloaded for free about 500,000
times a week. Turnaround investor
Vector Capital will try to change that
by reminding users a little more
firmly that the software costs $29
(after a free 30-day trial), as well as
likely coming out with new features
that only paying customers can
Better Eating Through Nanotech
Major food producers are using
nanotechnology to improve the quality of their foods, although some
warn that the technology may be
misunderstood by consumers. At a
Nano4food conference food scientists, material scientists and
nanotechnicians met to discuss how
the technology is being used to improve the consistency of yogurt or
cheese, packaging technologies, and
even how to “wall off” the most nutritional components of food in favor
of tastier alternatives. However, as
nanotechnology moves forward, consumers will have to be informed and
educated about the possible benefits
and hazards of using it.
Microsoft Finalizes Genuine Advantage
Microsoft has gone live with the
Windows Genuine Advantage program. The program, which has been
available in an avoidable pilot version since late 2004, is now mandatory. Microsoft also noted that it has
somewhat simplified the Windows
Genuine Advantage validation process; for example, users are no longer
required to enter a 25-character product key to validate their software.
Users who try to validate software
and discover that they’re unwittingly
(or otherwise) running illegitimate
copies of Windows have a few options. According to Microsoft, qualifying customers who fill out a piracy
report, provide proof of purchase,
and send in their counterfeit CDROMs can receive a genuine copy of
Windows XP Home Edition or XP
Professional Edition (depending on
which version they’re using) at no
cost. Customers who submit a piracy
report can get XP Home for $99 or
XP Pro for $149.
There is no “Superfetch”
Ed Bott, best-selling author and
computer journalist, advises: “The
same yokels who insist on spreading
the “clean out your Prefetch folder”
BS are now spreading the word that
there’s a super-double-secret registry
setting in Windows XP called SuperFetch that will reduce boot times
dramatically. No, there isn’t. And if
you see any Web site that tries to
insist that there’s any benefit to
cleaning out your Prefetch folder or
enabling this latest bogus tweak, you
should assume that any other advice
they give you is worthless as well.”
The Editorial Committee of the APCUG has provided this article.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286
Address Service Requested
NVPCUG Computer News, September 2005, Page 16
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