May 2005

May 2005
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Computer News
May 2005
Volume 22, Issue 5
Inside This Issue:
President’s Message
Computer Sale
Officers List
Recycling Event
Selling on eBay
Buying on eBay
On-Line Travel Scams
Digital Movies
Hoaxes and Urban Legends 10
The New, Best, and Worst
The Latest on DVDs
Tech News
Member Application
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
more than 307 computers and
102 printers.
PowerPoint Features Will Be Demonstrated at
NVPCUG Meeting on May 18
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, May 18,
2005, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street,
Napa, California.
Our May general meeting will consist of only two of our regular meeting segments:
Random Access, an open-floor question-and-answer period, and
Computer Tutor, a session in which you can learn how to accomplish specific tasks. Each of these segments will be much longer than
usual, allowing more time for discussion.
In the Computer Tutor session, Michael Moore will show how to
use the basic features of Microsoft PowerPoint, an excellent graphics
presentation program included in most Microsoft Office application
suites. PowerPoint enables a user to create colorful computer-based
multimedia slide shows with text, graphics, clip art, tables, charts, pic- Michael Moore
tures, animation, sound, and video. A presentation can be displayed
on a monitor, projected onto a screen, made interactive, loaded on an Internet web site,
or printed as a handout.
Users of Corel Presentations and other graphics presentation managers will also
find Mike=s presentation of value because these products have many similar features.
Mike is a Computer Studies instructor at Napa Valley College, where he teaches
Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access courses. Prior to teaching, Mike had a varied and
long career in industrial computer system design until he retired early from Westinghouse as the president of one of its high-technology subsidiaries. He is also the
NVPCUG=s Computer Tutor Coordinator.
During the Random Access period, which will precede the Computer Tutor session,
you can ask questions about specific issues you have encountered in using computer
products and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees.
Need practical information that will enable you to make better use of your computer? Come to this free meeting! Guests are always welcome.
June 15 NVPCUG Meeting Main Presentation:
Building Your Own State-of-the-Art Computer
To be presented by NVPCUG member Dick Peterson
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 1
President=s Message C
Which Saturday for Our Picnic?
Join the Fun!
by Orion E. Hill
Special Events Deserve Support
We have two special events in early June that deserve
your support. The first is our 2005 Used Computer
Equipment Sale, which will be held on June 3 and 4 in a
vacant storefront at 1307 First Street in downtown Napa.
The second is the Fifth Annual Napa County Computers and Electronics Recycling Event, which will be
held on June 10 and 11, just a week after our sale, at Napa
Valley College=s Napa campus.
Our sales -- the coming sale will be the fifth -- promote the reuse of equipment that is not at end-of-life and
provide essential income that helps to cover the costs of
our education activities and annual expenses such as liability insurance ($805) and meeting room rental ($201).
The recycling events, which we cosponsor, reduce waste
by ensuring that materials in obsolete products are recovered for use in new products.
These activities, along with our Computers-to-Schools
program, also generate considerable publicity for our organization. Information about our sales is included in
local newspapers and public television news announcements, and our recycling event support and CTS program
are highlighted in Napa County garbage bill inserts and
other recycling promotion materials.
Please sign up to help when volunteer sheets for our
current sale, which I=m coordinating, and the coming recycling event, for which Bill Wheadon is coordinating
volunteer activities, are circulated at our group meeting
on May 18. The volunteers who staff these activities always have a good time.
Offers of Store Space Appreciated
I want to thank Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokers
of the Valley agent Allan Wilke for arranging with Morris Brown Realty, LP of Portland Oregon our use of the
vacant retail store space at 1307 First Street in Napa for
our coming sale. I also want to thank Napa commercial
property owners George Altamura Jr. and Jeff Doran
for offering their vacant properties.
Three of our past four sales were hosted by NapaNet.
Due to the Internet service provider=s move last October,
we had to seek a new location for our current sale.
In recent years our annual potluck picnics -featuring delicious food, competitive games,
prizes, and great fun for everyone -- have usually
been scheduled for the first Saturday afternoon
following our August general meetings. If we
continue that pattern, our picnic this year would
be held on August 20. To ensure that the maximum number of members who would like to participate can come,
however, we are conducting a survey to find out if another Saturday is preferred by the majority of interested
All of the proposed dates are convenient for NVPCUG
member Dick Peterson and his wife Sandy, who have
again invited our group to use the redwood grove at their
Christmas tree farm, the site of our last seven picnics.
If you are interested in attending our picnic, please let
me know by May 31 your first and second choices of the
following five dates: July 23, July 30, August 6, August
13, and August 20.
Special Interest Group Renamed
Have you noticed that the Investment SIG has been
renamed the Investors SIG? Some people, upon hearing
that the NVPCUG had an Investment SIG, thought that
the SIG was an investment club which bought and sold
stocks and bonds, not a group devoted to learning how to
use computers and the Internet to become better informed
about investing. To help clarify the SIG's educational
purpose, the members, led by Jerry Brown since June
2000, recently renamed the SIG.
Volunteers Still Needed
We still need volunteers to serve as Vice President,
Programs Director, and Special Projects Director, positions which have been vacant since December, and to
help our officers plan and administer our group=s activities. If you value our educational program, appreciate the
problem-solving assistance of our mentors, enjoy meeting
with other people with similar interests and experiences,
and would like for those NVPCUG benefits to continue,
please contact me to learn more about the many ways you
can help. Even a couple of hours of your time each
month can make a difference.
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, May 2005, Page 2
The Napa
Personal Computer
Users Group is Sale
Set3 for
3 3and
and4 4
conducting another huge used computer equipment sale, Shift 1:8:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. Assist customers
to 2:00 P.M. Assist customers
this one on Friday and Saturday, By
4 andE.5,Hill,
at 1307
First Street, in downtown Napa. On Friday the sale hours Shift 3:2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. Assist customers
Shift 4:5:00 Are
to 8:00 P.M. Assist customers
be Napa
9:00 a.m.
to 7:30
on Saturday,
a. m. is
to Volunteers
are needed to help move sale
5:00 p.m.
up 2and take down the sale, and
this one
On sale will be hundreds of items, including desktop Saturday, June 4 Sale Day
is required.
and notebook computers, color monitors, keyboards, mice, Shift 1: 9:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. Assist
hard disk , compact disk (CD) drives, DVD drives, floppy Shift 2: 11:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Assist customersand then
let Sale
know which
Shift 3: 2:00 P.M.
to 4:30
P.M. Orion
disk drives, printers, scanners, modems, network cards, immediately
able to
On sale
be power
of and
Shift 4:and
P.M. to
6:00 Pack
of allwill
cables. desktop
Most of day(s)
the equipment is only a few years old. Quantities of many
on Thursday
mice, hard
disk (CD)at needed
Let’s make
this saleand
as Sunday.
successful as our sales in 2000,
items will
be limited.
All disk
of thedrives,
items compact
will be available
2002 and 2004, which netted $1,921, $2,718 and $1,867,
bargain prices.
of all we
- Sale Setup
To 2volunteer
your help or to donate items,
of the sale
are things
dona- Thursday,
P.M. - Move
items to sale site
[email protected]
or by
tions for our Computers-to-Schools program, through contact Orion Hill by
2: (707)
3:30 P.M.
to 5:30 P.M. - Set up items on tables
of many items
will be to
All of Shift
provide refurbished
Napa County
will be available
Some of at
however, we determined were unsuitable for classroom use or were in excess Friday, June 3 - Sale Day 1
of the
items we
received donors
as donations
our Shift 1: 8:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. - Assist customers
of Most
L.P. and the County of Napa. Many additional items Shift 2: 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. - Assist customers
County public
have been equipment
donated byto local
and Shift 3: 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. - Assist customers
were thenThe
grate-ful for
for Shift 4: 5:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. - Assist customers
use or ofinthese
of schoolandneeds.
the contributions
well as for the support of Morris Brown Realty, L.P., of Saturday, June 4 - Sale Day 2
have been
by local
is providing
store space
for Shift 1: 8:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. - Assist customers
Shift 2: 11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. - Assist customers
our sale.
This sale is the NVPCUG’s primary annual fund- Shift 3: 2:30 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. - Assist customers
and Sale
for the
raising activity.
for support
L.P., of benefitting
Portland, Oregon,
which Sunday, June 5 - Sale Takedown
Napa County
Shift 1: 9:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. - Remove unsold items
providing free store space for our sale.
This sale Are
is the
are needed
to help prepare and transport equipment, set up and take
Napa County
residents.experdown theactivities
sale, andbenefiting
assist customers.
No computer
tise is required. Please review the following staffing
schedule. Please review the following shift schedule and
then immediately let sale coordinator Orion Hill know
which day(s) and shift(s) you would be able to work. Volunteers who have vehicles with cargo capacity are especially needed Thursday and Sunday.
Let=s make this sale as successful as our sales in 2000,
2002, and 2004, which netted $1,921, $2,718, and $1,867,
respectively. To volunteer your help or to donate items,
contact Orion Hill by e-mailing [email protected] or by
calling (707) 252-0637.
Thursday, June 2 Sale Setup
5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Pickup and deliver sale items to
1307 First Street, Napa.
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
Computer News (ISS 0897-5744) is published monthly by the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA
is intended for noncommercial purposes and may not be reproduced without prior written permission, except that permission for reproducing arti94558-0286. Subscriptions: $30 for one year (12 issues ). Editor: James Stirling, [email protected] All material in Computer News is intended for noncles, with authors properly credited, is granted to other computer user groups for their internal, nonprofit use only. The information in this newsletcommercial purposes and may not be reproduced without prior written permission, except that permission for reproducing articles, with authors properly
ter is believed to be correct. However, the NVPCUG cannot assume responsibility for errors or omissions nor liability for any damages resulting
credited, is granted to other computer user groups for for their internal, nonprofit use only. The information in this newsletter is believed to be correct.
the use
misuse ofcan
NVPCUG isfora errors
IRC 501(c)(3)
theor NVPCUG
or omissions
nor liability
for any
damages resulting
the use
or misuse and
of any
a member The
of theNVPCUG
(APCUG), organization
an international
to theofNVPCUG
are taxof Peris anofIRC
68-0069663) Donations
and a member
the Association
as charitable
to the extent
allowed byorganization.
law. Copyright
© 2005tobythe
sonal Computer
User Groups
an international
NVPCUG are tax deductible as charitable contributions to the
extent allowed by law. Copyright © 2005 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 3
Membership News
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups
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 share your knowledge with
other people. SIG meetings are open to
everyone. Meeting times and locations occasionally change. For current meeting information, check 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 Avenue, Napa
Leader: Hilton Des Roches
(707) 224-6170
[email protected]
Investors SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
May 4
May 9
May 11
May 18
June 3 & 4
June 10 & 11
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.
9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
By Dianne Prior, NVPCUG Membership Director
The Napa Valley Computer Users Group welcomes new members Kenneth Brown, Karla Bailey and Susy Ball, who joined in April, as well
as associate member Mike Ball, Susy’s husband. Reinstated with payment of dues was Kip Edenborough. Total membership now stands
at 112.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2005
Board of Directors
Vice President
Orion E. Hill
(Volunteer Needed)
Julie Jerome
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Other Directors:
Dianne Prior, John Simcoe, James Stirling
Appointed Officers
Computer Equipment
Orion E. Hill
Sale Coordinator
Computer Recycling
Bill Wheadon
Computer Tutor
Mike Moore
Orion E. Hill
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Steve Siegrist
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman
Marcia Waddell
Membership Director
Dianne Prior
Mentor Program
Hilton Des Roches
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
Newsletter Editor
James Stirling
Product Review Coord.
Marcia Waddell
Programs Director
(Volunteer Needed)
Publicity Director
John Simcoe
Random Access Moderator Jerry Brown
Special Projects Director (Volunteer Needed)
Ron Dack
NVPCUG Calendar
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Computers-to-Schools work parties. To volunteer contact Orion Hill.
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Investors SIG, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Digital Photography SIG, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
NVPCUG Used Computer Equipment Sale, 1307 First Street, Napa
Napa County Computers & Electronics Recycling Event, Napa Valley College
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 4
Computer and Electronics Recycling Event Set for June 10 , 11
By Bill Wheadon, NVPCUG Computer Recycling Coordinator
The Fifth Annual Napa County Computer and Electronics Recycling Event will be held Friday and Saturday,
June 10 and 11, in the south parking lot at Napa Valley
College’s Napa campus. This event for Napa County residents and businesses only provides an opportunity to dispose of unwanted computer and electronic equipment free
of charge at a convenient drop-off site.
Equipment collected at this event will be evaluated for
possible reuse. Items deemed to be obsolete will be sent to
a demanufacturing plant where various materials can be
recovered in an environmentally safe manner for reuse in
new products. Recycling not only conserves valuable resources but also is essential for preventing toxic materials
from contaminating the environment. Each cathode ray
tube (CRT) in a computer monitor or television contains
five to seven pounds of lead and cadmium, toxic substances prohibited in landfills.
Those items selected for reuse will be accepted either by
the Computer Recycling Center in Santa Rosa or by the
Napa Valley Personal Computer User Group for use in our
Computers-to-Schools (CTS) program. Last year about
two tons of reusable equipment was recovered for our CTS
Sponsors of this event include the City of Napa, Napa
Garbage Service, Napa Valley Disposal Service, American
Canyon Disposal Service, Upper Valley Waste Management Agency, Napa Valley College, Recycle America Asset Recovery Group, the Computer Recycling Center and,
of course, the NVPCUG.
Volunteers Needed
NVPCUG volunteers are needed at this event to provide traffic control and identify equipment suitable for reuse. Lifting of heavy equipment will not be required (or
allowed); workers provided by the City of Napa and Napa
Garbage Service will do the lifting. Volunteers will be
provided refreshments and box lunches. Please review the
following shift schedule and let Bill Wheadon know
which day(s) and shift(s) you would like to work. If you
cannot work an entire shift, please indicate when you
would be available. A minimum of seven people will be
needed for each shift.
Friday, June 10
Morning shift:
Afternoon Shift
8:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.
11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.
Saturday, June 11
Morning shift:
8:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.
Afternoon shift:
11:30A.M. to 2:30 P.M.
This recycling event not only benefits our community
but also provides publicity for our group. To volunteer
your help contact Bill Wheadon by e-mailing
[email protected] or by calling (707) 224-3901.
Computer Donation Appreciated
By Orion E. Hill, NVPCUG Computers-to-Schools Program Coordinator
On April 27 the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users
Group, through our Computers-to-Schools program, donated 30 refurbished Pentium 3 and Pentium 4 computers
with monitors, keyboards, and mice to Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School in Saint Helena. In appreciation
of our gift, Principal Lance Hanson sent the following
“Thank you so much for your generosity. The majority of
the computers are installed and operational, with installation of the rest anticipated shortly. The donated computers are new enough to be of real benefit to the technology at RLS and enable our teachers to more effectively
use technology that was more difficult or impossible on
some of the older systems we had. Programs such as
Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Publisher, and Scholastic
Read 180 (a literacy remediation educational program)
are benefiting from these newer systems. Because of the
newer computers now in some rooms, we have also been
able to recycle some older systems that were really no
longer viable and to generally upgrade the quality of the
technology experience for students here at RLS.”
We currently have unfilled school requests for more
than 150 Pentium 3 and Pentium 4 computers. With
Napa County public schools currently experiencing severe budget squeezes, we anticipate receiving requests for
many more computers.
Labels identifying the NVPCUG as the donor and
bearing our Web site address are now being affixed to the
fronts of all of the computers we are donating to schools
and nonprofit organizations. The gold foil labels have
black lettering.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 5
Selling on eBay
By Dorothy Alexander, Executive Member, Sarnia Computer User’s Group, Canada
If you have something to sell, you
should first look at the eBay site
http:\\ (American site)
and register with them. When you
start selling on eBay they credit you
with $10.00 to your eBay account to
get you started. You then need to reimburse them using any of the following; credit card, money order, check
or direct bank withdrawal from your
account. You will need to decide on a
user name and password with the auction house.
If you are planning to use (Western Union) it is advisable to register with them. If you are
going to use PayPal you need to register with them also.
You should look to see what your
type of item is selling for and see if
there is an interest in it. Make a note
of the category that the other items
were listed under that were similar to
your item you wish to sell. For additional fees you can list in more than
one area.
Take a picture of the item. It is a
known fact that it sells better with a
photo. You are allowed one photo
(not be over 250 kb) of each item with
eBay. Each additional photo costs five
cents. After you take your photo you
should scan it, remove unwanted
backgrounds and size it. Make sure to
save the photo. Save to an appropriate
folder for easy access. I have a digital
photo folder and a sub folder called
“eBay photos.”
You are now ready to log onto
eBay. You need both your user name
and password to do so. Location
prompt is next. You can enter Sarnia
or simply say Ontario or name of
choice. The next prompt asks if you
want it listed regionally (for U.S.A.)
Now you indicate how many days the
sale will be. You can choose 3, 5 or 7
days. There is an extra $0.10 charge
for a 10-day advertisement. Mark if
you want a Reserve price on the item
and enter the amount. There is a
charge for this (see below). Some-
times this is a good idea on an expensive item for which you definitely
want a certain price. If there is a reserve price put on it you can start it
low to get the bidding going. If you
do not want to put on a reserve price,
start it just around the amount of
money you would be willing to sell
the item for, e.g. $49.99 if you want at
least $50.00 for the item.
The rates to list on eBay are:
Listing Price
Cost to List
01 to $0.99
$1.00 to $9.99
$10.00 to 24.99
$25.00 to $49.99
$50.00 to $199.99
$200.00 to $499.00
$500.00 and up
Cost to Put on Reserve
$1.00 to $49.99
$50.00 to $199.99
$200.00 & up, 1% of reserve
Commissions are charged on the
selling price and are as follows:
$25.00 or less, 5.25%
$25.00 to $1000.00, 5.25% on 1st
$25.00, then 2.75% on balance
$1000.00 plus, 5.25% on 1st $25.00,
2.75% on balance up to $1000, then
l.5% on balance above $1000.
Give your item a title. The aim
here is to make it so attractive that
everyone will read it!
Decide how you want to word your
advertisement. Your description
should be quite detailed as to what
you have to offer. Next choose the
category best suited for the item you
wish to sell. Make sure to totally describe the item, including flaws, tears,
cuts (in other words everything). If it
is a garment, measure it, even if you
know the size. Give details as to how
you want payment for the goods and
instructions in regard to shipping and
handling. State if you will accept
checks or what kind of payment you
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 6
wish. Make this as descriptive as possible to avoid the goods being returned for misrepresentation. You can
choose font size, color, etc. when you
are doing this. This is all loaded into
your ad with a prompt to see if you
wish to check it for spelling or errors
before completing the ad.
These are the additional charges
for special services: Home Page featured $99.95; Feature Plus in category
$19.95; Highlight $5.00; Bold $2.00;
Gallery $19.95; Buy It Now $0.05.
The next question you need to answer
would be if you want a counter on
your ad. There is no charge for this
and it lets you know how many people have actually looked at your item.
Then you will be asked if you will
accept escrow. I do not personally. I
indicate that I will ship worldwide as
I have a lot of my sales go abroad.
After you have filled out all the areas
necessary you can get a preview of
what you have filed in to confirm that
you are happy with it. After all is OK
click continue. They will tell you how
much money you have left in your
account before you click that you do
in fact want your ad to be activated.
Now a screen will come up telling
you where your ad is located and announcing that the sale has begun.
You will get an e-mail, almost immediately, giving you the status of your
account and listing cost of the ad that
you just placed.
When your sale has been completed the buyer can put in a FEEDBACK for you, either Positive or
Negative. You will see a star following your name. The colour changes at
different levels and the number shows
that there has been that many feedbacks entered for you. Most of the
customers do this, but occasionally
some do not. Of course you strive to
get a positive feedback and not a
negative one. New sellers have sunglasses after their name alerting the
public that they are new to eBay.
(continued on page 7)
Buying on eBay--Hints and Tips
By Cathy Margolin, President, North Orange County Computer Club, California
EBay is the largest global marketplace, with very low entry cost. Tons
of new and used and collectable items
are bought and sold every day, as
there are millions of sellers puthng up
items that you may not be able to find
anywhere else! Last year, eBay users
exchanged some $9.3 billion worth of
goods. On an average day there may
be over a million sales occurring.
First off, you should start watching
some auctions to get a feel for the
process. Once you get used to the
process, get an eBay ID (do not use
your e-mail name as your user-ID the
spammers will get it!). Then start bidding on small items to learn the process and develop positive feedback. It
all runs on feedback. Also multiple
user-IDs are still ok. Some people use
one for selling and another for buying, so as not to let people know their
How to Find What You Want
You can search titles and descriptions like: Haviland -johann -theo*
(which means look for haviland with
no johann and no theo* which is a
wild card to ignore any theo).
You can also look under categories
to find an item, but remember that not
(continued from page 6),
You can revise your ad, but it has
to be done prior to anyone making a
bid on it. You can add additional information that you may have forgot
ten, at any time. It will be posted beneath your description in the ad.
If you do not sell an item you can
re-list it for the sale again. If it sells
the second time you get this listing
fee returned to you.
GOOD LUCK! Have fun.
This article has been provided by the Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups and is
reprinted by permission..
everyone puts their article for sale in
the correct categories.
When the seller has tons of items
and you want to search only Palm
Pilot, go to seller search, go to the
bottom of the page, enter Palm Pilot,
and under Multiple sellers, put your
eBay ID (or several IDs).
Make sure you check the seller's
feedback--having too many negatives
and neutrals is not good. Beware of
sellers with no feedback and large
dollar items for sale; they may be
good or bad or just not know the
It is only the highest
bidder at the close of
the auction that wins. If
you bid during the
week, you keep driving
up the price, but bidding at the last second
masks interest and usually results in a lower
ropes yet, but you do not have enough
information to trust them with your
hard-earned money.
If you have a concern about the
seller, ask them a question a few days
before the auctions end (such as cost
of shipping, do they take PayPal, etc.)
to see how they respond.
Use odd-numbered cents, such
as .99, since the bids go up in increments of 50 cents; with $1 (depending
on the value of the bid), you may win
an item by just one cent.
Think of any auction you have
been to — it is only the last price at
the close of the hammer that counts!
Always snipe -- which is bidding at
the last minute. In this auction format,
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 7
it is only the highest bidder at the
close of the auction that wins. If you
bid during the week, you keep driving
up the price, but bidding at the last
second masks interest and usually
results in a lower cost. You can use a
service (, which
charges a fee, or hammersnipe at, which does not) or
use a program on your own computer.
Bid the maximum amount you
want to spend (proxy bidding -- only
goes up to this amount if someone
places a bid against you). Be aware of
the Terms of Sale (TOS) for each
seller. They differ greatly.
- What form of payment do they
- What is the shipping cost, as this
can be very high! The Post Office
uses zip codes to price shipping, so
now it is less complicated.
- Check out seller feedback and what
type of items they usually sell.
A set of tips is at the Vendio site
(which also has an on-line bulletin
board about eBay auctions): http://
How to Pay
To help protect yourself, use a
credit card, if possible; PayPal; check;
or lastly a money order. If the transaction goes wrong, you can stop payment on your check; and it is easier to
get reimbursed (chargeback) if you
use a credit card.
When the item has arrived, don’t
forget to give feedback to the seller.
EBay is where the market is in online auctions — it is an ever-changing
marketplace, where change is constant.
Happy eBay-ing!
This article has been provided by the
Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups and is
reprinted by permission..
Double Threat On-line Travel Scam
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director and Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont TX
[email protected]
Most of us like to travel and would
especially enjoy a travel bargain. We
may have checked with reliable travel
resources such as our local travel
agents, airlines, cruise lines and hotels
but were unable to find the deal that
we wanted. We check the major
travel sites such as Expedia, Orbitz
and Travelocity, but still cannot find a
deal that makes us happy. Since we
are experienced Internet users, we go
to the major search engines such as
Yahoo, Google or Alltheweb, and
search for bargain travel sites. We
notice some Web sites that appear at
the top of the listings, sometimes in
the premium paid listings on the
search engines, that allege airline tickets, hotel rooms, and cruises at far
below the prices charged by the reputable sources we are familiar with, so
we click on the links. One link may
be for, claiming
deep discounts off published airfares;
another link may be for
that offers comprehensive travel services with fares far below those offered by travel agents or other on-line
travel websites. Two other Web sites
offering unbelievable travel bargains
that appear in the paid or premium
listings on the search engines are and
Tasting a good deal, we click on
one of these sites and see a travel site
similar to the better-known and reputable sites with which we are already
We search for airfares and find
tickets for about half of what we
would pay elsewhere; we find hotels
and cruises similarly priced. Unable
to resist such bargains, we select our
trips and we are asked to enter our
credit card information. A familiar
window appears that asks us for our
credit card number, security code (the
three or four digit code on the credit
card), expiration date, and name on
the card. With a sense of excitement,
we eagerly await the confirmation,
which we are told may take a few
minutes, but are instead presented
with an official-looking window that
says that our credit card information
could not be processed. We are then
presented with an option to pay with
another credit card, or pay by an alternative means. Thinking that it is just
a simple glitch, and not wanting to
lose the opportunity for a glorious
vacation at a bargain price, we enter
the required information for another
credit card. We are again greeted
with the same screen that it could not
be processed, and are then told to contact customer service by e-mail, utiliz-
What is especially insidious
about this scam is that it is a
“double whammy,” in that we
are not only out of the money
for the trip, since the money
sent via Western Union is virtually unrecoverable, but we
have also given unscrupulous
unknown parties our credit
card information!
ing the link and transaction number
provided on the screen.
A short time later, we will receive
an e-mail from the travel company
apologizing for the inconvenience,
and claiming that their bank is having
trouble processing credit cards. Since
the price quoted is valid for only a
very short time, the traveler is asked
to use alternative methods of payment
– wire the proceeds via Western Union. Readers of this column may feel
a hint of skepticism at this point, remembering that sometime ago I wrote
that while a legitimate method of
sending money, wiring money via
Western Union to pay for Internet
purchases should raise a red flag of
suspicion. Still, eager not to let the
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 8
bargain of a lifetime get away; we
follow the instructions on the e-mail
from customer service. The address
to which the money is wired may
raise more suspicions, as the destination is not in the United States, but
instead in Bulgaria, Romania or Thailand. An inquiry e-mail back to customer service may bring a prompt
canned reply that the reason why the
deal is so good is that these prices are
only available for tickets purchased
outside of the U.S., along with an assurance that they will be honored by
the airlines, cruise lines, and the hotels. Still not wanting to lose out on
this dream vacation, we send the
money via Western Union, exactly as
requested. We will then receive an email stating that it will take several
days to receive our tickets, and are
provided with a Web link and tracking number to show our tickets are on
the way.
After not receiving the tickets in
the time specified, we click on the
tracking number, and are given another canned response that they are
being processed, and should be delivered in the next few days. Following
up clicks several days later display the
identical statement. An e-mail reply
from customer service reiterates the
message. By the date of the dream
vacation, no tickets have arrived,
dashing any dreams of a good time.
We have become the victims of
another very nasty scam circulating
on the Internet. What is especially
insidious about this scam is that it is a
“double whammy,” in that we are not
only out of the money for the trip,
since the money sent via Western Union is virtually unrecoverable, but we
have also given unscrupulous unknown parties our credit card information!
This is not some fictitious scenario
by a mystery writer but a documented
scam. The scam has become so pervasive that even some of the antivirus
companies have posted warnings
about it on their Web sites. There is
(continued on p. 9)
Link to Digital Movies With Movielink
by Sherry Zorzi, APCUG Advisor and Director of Cajun Clickers, Baton Rogue, Louisiana
While Blockbuster and Netflix
(www. battle it out for
your entertainment dollar, a new online player just may sneak around
(www. allows you to order
and download recent movies on a
pay-for-view basis.
The movies are downloaded to your
PC for viewing there, or on a TV connected to the PC, or on your laptop.
The cost is about $5 for a recent release, after download to watch the
movie, but some offerings are as
cheap as 99 cents. You have 30 days
after download to watch the movie.
You are renting the movie, though,
for a 24-hour period, which means
that once you click “Play,” you have
only the next 24 hours to watch (and
(continued from p. 8)
anecdotal evidence that, in several of
the cases, the victims’ credit cards
had been illicitly charged for a variety
of goods and services in the days
immediately following the fraudulent
transaction, possibly committed by
the same travel thieves. The Web
sites mentioned above were real, and
are well documented, but are currently off-line (as I type this). Based
on their success at defrauding countless victims, it is likely that they will
reappear under different names.
In order to be safe when shoppingor travel bargains, be sure to use a
reputable resource, such as a local
travel agent, airline or hotel website,
or trusted third party website. If you
pay with a credit card, there is some
degree of protection from fraud from
the credit card company. Never wire
money, especially overseas, to pay for
a travel bargain. We work too hard
for our money to have miscreants
steal it from us under the false pretenses of a travel bargain. □
This article has been provided by the
Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups and is
reprinted by permission.
re-watch, if you like) the movie. You
can buy additional viewing time at a
reduced rate.
While visiting the Demonstration
Digital Home at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January,
I got a coupon for a free download
fro m Mo vielin k.
I v isited
Movielink’s Web site as soon as I got
home and decided to give it a try. The
selection of movies is pretty good and
includes most of Blockbuster’s Top
Ten Rentals.
Before downloading a movie, you
must register with Movielink. They
are not overly intrusive, asking only
for name, e-mail address, sex, and
age during the registration process.
You will, of course, probably want to
deselect the opportunity to get a free
e-mail newsletter from Movielink.
Movielink installs Movielink Manager software onto your computer,
which controls the download and
playback of the movies you order.
You should read the End User License Agreement carefully, since it
does give Movielink and its partners
(RealNetworks and Microsoft) the
right to push upgrades and updates to
you without asking permission. That
might be a deal-breaker for some –
indeed, it almost sent me running for
the hills. But for the sake of you, the
reader, I bit the bullet and signed on
the virtual dotted line.
The download took about 25 minutes on my Cox cable internet connection and proceeded smoothly. It
was several weeks before I had a
chance to view my movie. When I
clicked “Play,” though, the media
player would not load the movie, so I
went to their Web site for help. The
live-chat feature of Movielink’s Web
site worked beautifully. I was very
quickly connected with a technician,
who reset my account and had me
reinstall the Movielink Manager software. Within minutes everything was
working fine.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 9
The video quality of the movie was
excellent. Watching a movie on the
typical PC, though, is much different
from watching one on the typical TV.
My computer screen is a 17-inch
LCD flat screen. The image was
beautiful but much smaller than my
TV. I don’t have a top-of-the-line
sound card nor great speakers on that
particular computer either, so the audio was acceptable to me while not
outstanding. Next time I’ll probably
download my movie to a different
computer in my home – one that has
a top-notch video card, a top-notch
sound card, and an awesome Surroundsound speaker set that includes
a huge subwoofer.
I’ll probably rent from Movielink
again. I’m intrigued by the possibili-
I’m intrigued by the possibility of instant access to
the movie of my choice
without leaving home or
waiting for it to be mailed.
ties of instant access to the movie of
my choice without leaving home or
waiting for it to be mailed to me. The
service would be even more attractive
if it offered a monthly subscription
deal and if it allowed me to transfer
my rental to the device of my choice,
including my Pocket PC and other
computers on my home network.
Movielink, and other services like
it, may not overtake brick-and-mortar
rental stores like Blockbuster or online CD rental services like Netflix
overnight. But it’s a worthy opponent and will become more and more
of a threat as more homes connect
their TVs to home entertainment PCs.
Give it a try.
This article has been provided by the
Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups and is
reprinted by permission.
Current Hoaxes and Urban Legends
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director and Columnist,
The Examiner, Beaumont, Texas [email protected]
Some of us find them cute, entertaining, exciting, and fun, while others find them embarrassing, irritating,
and a waste of time. Many forward
them believing that they are doing
good, or warning of harm, or because
these items came from an allegedly
reliable source. A few are so convinced of their truth that they explicitly request me to put these items in
this column or announce them on my
radio and TV show. What I am referring to are hoaxes and urban legends
circulating on the Internet. Many of
these have a grain of truth or logic in
them, while others are totally lacking
any basis in fact; yet many still enjoy
forwarding them without a second
thought to everyone in their e-mail
address books.
In order to save you embarrassment, I strongly recommend that anyone tempted to forward such e-mails
should check out their validity prior to
another mass sending to all you know.
There are several excellent Web sites
that compile information on these emails, and a quick check can save you
from sending out what may prove to
be a hoax, to the detriment of your
personal credibility. If you find that
the interesting e-mail is indeed true,
you should still consider not forwarding it to everyone. Many of your intended recipients may not find your
interests to their liking and may even
be offended that you consumed their
valuable bandwidth and time. Typically, when I receive a new one from
an acquaintance, I check it out. If it is
true (a minority of the time), I may
choose to selectively forward it to
only those who I think may be interested in the topic; but I never send it
to everyone in my address book. If it
is false, I usually reply back to the
sender and include a link documenting the falsehood. Some e-mailers are
so humiliated that I caught them in an
inaccuracy that they reply in anger
back to me, despite the incontrovertible fact that it was they who had sent
the bogus e-mail.
To verify the authenticity or falsehood of these oft-forwarded e-mails, I
use two primary and several secondary resources. Primarily I use the
excellent and comprehensive urban
legends resource of Snopes, at Well organized in
an easy-to-navigate menu format,
along with a competent search engine,
Snopes is an excellent choice to check
out the validity of questionable emails.
My other primary resource for
checking the legitimacy of such emails is
This site is frequently updated with
the latest hoaxes in circulation and
can reliably document their validity.
A common topic of these questionable e-mails is virus warnings. For
this reason, most of the major antivirus software publishers also compile
lists of hoaxes, mostly virus-related,
on their Web sites. I utilize these sites
as secondary resources. It is also notable that old hoaxes and virus warnings never seem to die out and periodically reappear. One that has been
documented to be in circulation for
over six years, but is again currently
making the rounds in mass emailings, is the “It takes guts to say
Jesus” virus hoax. This e-mail, in
several iterations, warns that according to CNN, AOL, McAfee, and other
reputable resources, there is an e-mail
circulating with a virus that cannot be
detected by contemporary antivirus
software and that if you open the email, your computer will be effectively destroyed. Every one of the
hoax and antivirus Web sites list this
as a hoax, yet countless copies are
being forwarded by well-intentioned
people trying to warn their acquaintances. Some of the variations even
go on to state that while it may be
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 10
false, it is so important that it is being
forwarded anyway. Another similar
e-mail warning that does have some
validity is the one that says “I've Got
Your E-mail on My Account.” It
goes on to warn that someone is using
“your” e-mail account to spread a virus, and “I have received 10 copies of
it, all with your e-mail address and
ISP in the header.” The e-mail then
says, “I have copied all the mail text
in the windows text-editor for you &
zipped then. Make sure, that this
mails (sic) don't come in my mail-box
again.” Attached to this dire warning
is a file, co mmonly named
“”. If opened, the file
will infest your computer with the
Sober.N worm. If it infects your computer, Sober.N will terminate the antivirus and firewall software on your
computer, rendering it vulnerable to
further attack, and then will forward
itself to everyone in your address
book! This Sober.N warning is the
exception to the rule that most warnings of this type are bogus.
Another dire warning, which I am
receiving multiple copies of, is the
warning that a directory of cell phone
numbers is being compiled to enable
telemarketers to call us on our cell
phones, consuming our valuable supply of limited minutes. This hoax,
which is now circulating for the second time, is listed by several sites as
one of the top hoaxes in circulation.
The grain of truth in this is that most
cell phone carriers are instituting a
“411” directory service of cell phone
numbers; this list will emphatically
not be for sale to telemarketers.
To see the latest and most widespread hoaxes in circulation, check
out the hoax and urban legend Web
sites, or the Web site of your favorite
antivirus software. You may find
some hoaxes actually quite entertaining and wonder how intelligent people
could fall for such silly e-mails. □
This article has been provided by the
Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups and is
reprinted by permission.
Everyone's a Publisher, and Blogs Are Our Printing Presses
By Gabe Goldberg, APCUG Advisor and Columnist, AARP Computers and Technology Website
Just when we think we understand technology and its
buzzwords, it all changes. E-mail, chat rooms, Web
boards, instant messaging, and cell phone cameras -haven't they been around forever? But one of this year's
hot words is still a bit mysterious: blog. It's neither the
villain in a Star Wars movie nor a weather phenomenon:
it's simply an abbreviation for "Web log." A blog is an
online diary or journal, usually casual and open for all to
Blog topics vary as widely as the people who create
them. They can be personal how-was-my-day recordkeeping; focus on topics such as politics, technology, religion, etc.; and include pointers to other online resources
-- such as other blogs!
To be interesting and effective, blogs need constant
care and feeding. Blogs attract visitors, links, and buzz by
being timely, so people are unlikely to visit blogs that
don't frequently show new and interesting content.
But before you learn to read blogs -- and it's often as
simple as visiting Web sites! -- you'll need a reason to do
so. Searching Google for "blog" and "senior citizen"
yields almost 30,000 hits. That's too many to explore but
shows that blogging offers something for all ages. So I'll
explore a few interesting blogs, then describe ways to
explore the "blogosphere" (the worldwide and evergrowing collection of blogs).
Hosted on a colleague's Web site, Dr. John Huth's
blog [] highlights his personal crusade to reduce senior citizens' isolation through
computers. Recent posts include "Video-Conferencing:
the Killer Application to Reduce Isolation and Depression Among the Elderly" and "Bedside Computers in
TravelPod [], an elaborate and
polished Web site, describes itself as the Web's "original
travel blog." The assortment of travel journals, travelogues, travelers, and destinations inspires me to hit the
road! You can browse highlighted stories or search on
interests. For example, having enjoyed a trip to Denmark
about 15 years ago, I found dozens of bloggers discussing
the country.
Web site Moreover collects news and information
from thousands of editorial sites and more than a million
blogs. Its "Consumer: Senior News" page
[] includes
varied material such as travel, insurance, retirement, and
John Woolington hosts a simple but deep technology
blog well worth visiting [maturetechnology.Blogspot.
com/]. Titled "Technology Is Not The Simple Life," it
includes observations and opinions about coping with
For anything-goes fun, visit Wil Mosher's blog
[]. He's a curmudgeon and
proud of it, noting that he "hides in his hole by day,
emerging at night to frolic and fornicate in the
moonlight... when he gets off the couch!"
Ken's Weblog [] proudly shows
a fellow's family, friends, politics, humor, and favorite
Web links. It's clear that having a blog is like having your
personal TV station or magazine!
Gossip Cooler [
gossipcooler.html] is a daily blog about growing older.
The site it's on has useful info and links interleaved with
many advertisements; since there's no hint who writes or
runs the site, be careful.
A woman artist/activist/writer's blog
[] offers her responses to
world events, disability, and life. Describing herself as a
"raging granny," she leaves no doubt where she stands on
issues. Blogs like this show the Internet's power to share
ideas and create communities by allowing readers to
comment on what Patricia says.
A simple blog [] lets you read
about and see pictures of a couple's RV travels and adventures.
Finally, the Ageless Project [] is a
fascinating compilation of Web sites (not all are blogs)
illustrating that "the personal, creative side of the web is
diverse and ageless."
Blogs and RSS are becoming increasingly popular
and are getting good press coverage [
You can visit the blogs I've referenced as simple Web
pages with normal hyperlinks. Many blogs are also readable via RSS (Rich Site Summary), an Internet technology which can bring material from multiple publishers/
blogs to you as it's published, without your having to visit
multiple Web sites. I read RSS "feeds" via my email software, Mozilla Thunderbird, and through a Web site
which collects RSS feeds [].
This article appeared originally on AARP's Computers and
Technology Web site, <>. (c) AARP
2005. Permission is granted for reprinting and distribution by
non-profit organizations with text reproduced unchanged and
this paragraph included.
This article has been provided by the Editorial Committee of
the Association of Personal Computer User Groups and is reprinted by permission.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 11
The New, the Best, and the Worst
Collected by Pim Borman
SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
RISC, CISC, EPIC and The Cell
Almost from the inception of the
microprocessor, a philosophical debate has been raging as to what design
is better. A dumb processor capable
of only a few simple procedures, referred to as a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor, could
do simple operations very fast. A
smart processor, capable of performing more complicated procedures,
called a CISC (Complex Instruction
Set Computer), would be slower with
simple tasks but faster with complicated operations. For instance, a RISC
processor capable only of addition
and subtraction of whole numbers
could be faster in performing sorting
tasks, but would require extensive
software instructions to perform a
floating-point multiplication that a
CISC processor could perform immediately with its built-in hardware.
RISC had the additional disadvantage
that its programs had to be larger than
similar programs for CISC processors, a big disadvantage in the days
that computer memory came at a premium. On the other hand, the greater
complexity of CISC processors made
them more expensive to make.
In the mid-90s Apple decided to
use RISC processors (e.g. the Motorola 68000) in their computers,
while IBM-PC clone makers settled
on the CISC architecture, even though
IBM was pushing RISC processors.
For reasons that have little to do with
chip architecture, the Wintel community ended up outselling Apple about
20:1, making the CISC chips the clear
In recent years processor chip designs have begun to merge, where
RISC chips have more complex instructions and CISC chips are more
efficient. Intel referred to the Pentium
II as a CRISC design. Intel’s major
competitor, AMD, started out with a
RISC design but still manages to pro-
duce chips that are compatible and
competitive with Intel’s Pentiums.
The next major advance in computer architecture is the use of multiple processors working together,
dubbed EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing). This calls for
rewriting computer programs if they
are to make use of the new architecture. Many computer applications can
be divided into separate operations
that can be run simultaneously.
Mathematical simulations such as
those involved in weather forecasting
are one example. Playing WorldMaster class chess is another one, and
large sorting programs and spreadsheet-type manipulations are easily
run in parallel fashion. Intel and
AMD have both announced that upcoming powerful desktop computers
will have multiple processors.
And now history repeats itself.
Sony, Toshiba and IBM (STI) have
announced a new microprocessor
called The Cell. Cells are designed,
RISC-like, to do just a few things
very fast but also to work together to
achieve optimum results. It might be
called an EPIC RISC. Few details
about The Cell have been published,
other than the basic patent issued in
2002. According to IBM on its Web
site: “IBM expects Cell to define an
entirely new way of operating. Cell's
underlying architecture will enable it
to manifest itself into many forms for
many purposes, helping to open up a
whole new set of applications. Incorporating this architecture, chips will
be developed for everything from
handheld devices to mainframe computers.”
Four of the Cells will power
Sony’s next-generation games console, the PlayStation 3. However, it is
expected that The Cell will also be
capable of powering super-fast desktop computers. An excellent article
about The Cell can be found in The
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 12
Economist (February 12, 2005). There
is also a summary in PC Magazine
(April 12, 2005).
In Brief
Several months ago Google announced a new, free desktop search
program. It is still under development
and does not (yet) index Acrobat PDF
files. Other search programs immediately came up with competing versions. According to PC Magazine
(3/22/05) the best of the free desktop
search programs at present is Yahoo’s
desktop search (,
a lite version of the outstanding $75
X1 that they rate best of show.
Do you depend on Quicken to
download your financial data from
banks and brokers? Well, Quicken is
ending online services and tech support for Quicken 2001 and 2002 so
you’ll need to upgrade to Quicken
2005. And that version will no longer
support importing data via the .qif
format and will support only the .ofx
format in its WebConnect and DirectConnect features. Microsoft
Money 2005 will also support on-line
services for just two years. (PC
World, April 2005).
Linspire (nee Lindows) has released its long-awaited version 5 of
its user-friendly Linux distribution.
They report that it took 3½ years to
develop and cost $20 million. Subscribers to its Click ‘N Run library of
self-installing Linux-based programs
can download the new distribution for
free and burn it to a self-booting CDROM. As a long-time user and promoter of the Linspire programs, I eagerly obtained the version to evaluate
its new features. Sorry to say, Linspire 5.0 confirms the maxim that
odd-numbered versions of major programs are often buggy and are best
avoided. Fortunately, the distribution
(continued on page 13)
(continued from page 12)
comes on a “live” CD that can be
used to boot the computer and run the
program without making any changes
to the computer’s hard drive or settings. I tried to boot the Linspire CD
on my old Inspiron 3800 laptop, the
one I have used daily for more than a
year with Linspire 4.5 – laptop edition. The screen assumed all sorts of
weird color effects and the program
hung, presumably. Shutting the computer off fortunately left it unharmed
by the experience and still capable of
running the older Linspire version. On
my newer Inspiron 5150 laptop the
CD seemed to boot OK, but the
mouse was stuck at the edge of the
screen and the programs did not respond to keyboard inputs. Again, no
joy, but no harm was done. Finally I
actually installed Linspire 5.0 on my
desktop computer in partitions on a
second hard drive that I have used
previously to evaluate Linspire as
well as other Linux distributions. This
time the install was successful, but the
Grub boot manager did not recognize
the presence of Windows ME on the
other hard drive, making Windows
essentially inaccessible – not an acceptable result. I had the same problem with the Mepis Linux distribution,
which also uses the Grub boot manager. So for now I am sticking with
the old and proven Linspire 4.5 distribution until they work the bugs out of
This article has been provided by the
Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups and is
reprinted by permission.
The Latest on DVDs
By Bob Elgines, Colorado River Computer Club Editor, Lake Havasu, Arizona
The DVD world is going crazy.
The price range is from $59 to $130,
well within most of our budgets.
DVD blanks are down to 50 cents apiece, almost as cheap as CDs. The
top four recorder manufacturers are
Plextor, Toshiba, Pacific Digital and
Speed is up to 16X, which is max
on the outer part of the disk, but only
8X blanks are readily available.
Dual layer (8.5 GB of data space)
is labeled as the latest big deal, but is
it really? These disks are hard to
manufacture and are very expensive.
The most important thing is, what will
they play in? Well not much of anything. Most DVD players will not recognize the format and neither will
your older recorders. So I don’t look
for this to do anyone much good even
in the future.
What is in the future (next year)?
The digital world has still been undecided on DVD-R and DVD+R formats, so most of your recorders will
do both. Now we come to the future
of introducing two new formats
named “HD-DVD” and “Blu-ray”.
These new formats have been developed to use the new blue laser, whereas they have been using the red laser
in our present recorders. Red-laser
single level DVDs have 4.7 GB of
capacity, where the blue-laser single
layer DVDs will have a capacity of 15
(HD-DVD format) to 25 GB (Blu-ray
format) at present.
An HD (High Definition) two-hour
movie uses about 17.4 GB without
max compression. The compression
schemes (MPEG-2, MPEG4, etc.)
will be the same for both, so there will
be no big difference in playback quality. Here we go again, new DVD
players will be needed and this reminds us of the old video tape war on
formats “Beta” and “VHS.” Remember, VHS won out due to more recording time and lower costs. Will
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 13
this be true of the two blue-laser formats? Only time will tell.
These blue-laser recorders and
players will be coming out near the
end of this year or the start of next
year, but I think we are going to have
to wait and see if they can decide on a
format for the blue-laser.
The Editorial Committee of the
Association of Personal Computer
User Groups brings this article to
Freeze Your Drive
One of the more interesting remedies for a hard drive that is unreadable
is placing the recalcitrant drive in your
freezer. As crazy as it sounds, this
treatment has an underlying rationale
that makes sense. As components in
your hard drive drop in temperature,
they contract slightly. This change in
size may permit your drive to function
properly for a brief period, perhaps
just enough time to allow you to retrieve your valuable data.
To use this strategy, remove your
hard drive from your computer and
place it in a sealed Ziploc-type bag.
Next, place the drive in the freezer
overnight. Reinstall the frozen drive,
and if it's accessible, quickly copy
your data to the backup medium of
your choice. Remember, as the drive
warms, it will begin to revert to its
failed state. □
Reprinted with permission from Smart
Computing, Tech Support, April 2005.
Visit to learn
what Smart Computing can do for you and
your user group!
By Sue Crane, Vice President / Editor, Big Bear Computer Club, California,
Traditional 911 Services Not Available From VOIPs
The Texas attorney general filed a
lawsuit against Internet telephone service Vonage, saying the company
fails to clearly tell consumers about
the limits of 911 emergency calling
over its service. The suit stems from a
incident last month in Houston where
a husband and wife were shot by burglars while their daughter tried to call
911 on a Vonage line and reached a
recording. Independent VoIP providers typically do not have access to the
traditional 911 system, which carries
calls to emergency dispatchers and
transmits data about the caller's location. As a work-around, Vonage tells
customers they need to activate a 911
service, but that service directs calls
to administrative telephone lines that
in some cases are unanswered.
ride by using a mobile-phone headset
for crash helmets, demonstrated at the
CeBit trade show. The headsets (fullface, open-face and flip-up), have audio capabilities at speeds up to 62
miles per hour.
MRI in a Pill
A South Korean semiconductor
manufacturer has announced an image
sensor for pill-size cameras that doctors can use to obtain accurate information about a patient's digestive
tract. The image sensor can take up to
50,000 photographs in an eight-hour
tour of the patient's insides by taking
two pictures a second. Mass production will begin in the second half of
Great New Escape
Virtual reality, technology that
gives users the feeling they are somewhere else, can be of great value in
treating people suffering from a variety of physical or psychological conditions. Therapy based on the technology is being used in a small number
of U.S. clinics to treat burn victims
and people with phobias such as the
fear of flying, spiders, and heights.
Researchers say the technology holds
enormous promise for treating PTSD,
addictions and for use as a distraction
technique in painful dental and medical procedures, including chemotherapy and physical therapy.
Mouse Adaptor for Shaky Hands
IBM has developed an adjustable
mouse adapter that compensates for
the shakes of patients with hand tremors and other causes of uncontrollable
shaking. According to the International Essential Tremor Foundation,
in the US alone nearly 10 million people are affected by essential tremor,
the most common form of hand tremors. This adapter will plug in between
the mouse and computer.
Cell Phone Helmets for Bikers
Motorcyclists are now able to talk and
Now You CAN Return Unwrapped
In the settlement of a California lawsuit Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe and
others have agreed to publish EULA
agreements on their websites for their
respective products, while
CompUSA, Best Buy, and Staples
agreed to allow consumers to return
unwrapped software for full monetary
refunds, even if the shrink-wrap has
been opened. Details of the settlement
can be found at
Creative Commons Rewrites
When Chuck D and the Fine Arts
Militia released their latest single,
"No Meaning No," They encouraged
everyone to view, copy, mix, remix,
sample, imitate, parody and even criticize it under a new licensing scheme
called Creative Commons that some
say may be better suited to the elec-
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 14
tronic age than the controversial copyright license. More than 10 million
other creations -- ranging from the
movie "Outfoxed" and songs by the
Beastie Boys to the BBC's news footage and the tech support books -- have
been distributed using Creative Commons licenses, which allow artists to
keep "some rights reserved" rather
than "all rights reserved". Online users can go to www.Creative and search its archives.
WinFS to be included in WinXP
Microsoft has said it plans to add
support for WinFS to Windows XP.
The operating system will support all
three key Longhorn components
WinFS, Avalon, and Indigo. Win FS is
built on top of the fundamentals,
which would include security features
and technology to make sure applications and drivers don't conflict. A first
beta of Longhorn is set to ship by the
end of June. Microsoft plans to have a
beta test version of WinFS available
when Longhorn ships, probably late
next year, and add it as an update to
WinXP later. Microsoft is expected to
handout a pre-beta preview release at
the Microsoft Win HEC Conference.
New Photoshop CS Details
Adobe is still finding its bearings after
it unintentionally released details of
its next Photoshop upgrade. The company quickly pulled down the announcement, but Google never forgets. Check out’s rundown of the new features: http://
This article has been provided by the
Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups and is reprinted by permission.
Thank You !
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Membership Application/Renewal*
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
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Please Print
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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 945580286.
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
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NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 15
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Used Computer Equipment Sale
Two Days Only!
Friday, June 3 — 9:00 A.M. to 7:30 P.M.
Saturday, June 4 — 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
1307 First Street, Downtown Napa
Hundreds of Items, Some Old and Some New,
For Standard Personal Computers and Macintosh Too,
All on Sale at Bargain Prices
• Minitower Computers
• Hard Drives
• Desktop Computers
• CD and DVD Drives
• Printer and Scanner
• Notebook Computers
• Floppy Drives
• Modems
• Color Monitors
• Drive Cables
• Network Cards
• Keyboards
• Laser Printers
• Network Cables
• Keyboard Trays
• Inkjet Printers
• Power Strips
• Mice and Trackballs
• Scanners
• Power Cords
• Speaker Sets
• Computer Bags
• Software
Quantities of many items are limited. Since everything will be offered at extremely low
prices, all items will be sold in “as is” condition, and all sales will be final. All payments must
be made by cash or check. Sale proceeds will be used for NVPCUG computer education
programs benefiting Napa County residents. Equipment donations are wanted. For more information contact Orion E. Hill by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling (707) 252-0637.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286
Address Service Requested
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2005, Page 16
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