COMPUTER NEWS The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group

COMPUTER NEWS The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
http://www.
nvpcug.org
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
COMPUTER
NEWS
Volume 29, No. 3
Inside This Issue
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19
20
22
23
24
25
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32
33
34
NVPCUG Special Interest Groups
Nero 10 Multimedia Suite Platinum
Officers List
NVPCUG Calendar
3D Digital Picture Frame
Say No Thank You to New Toolbar Opt Out During the Installation
Process
File Name Extensions Why They Are Important
Buying a New Computer –
Things to think about (Part 1)
Buying a New Computer –
Things to think about (Part 2 of 3)
Buying a New Computer –
Things to think about (Part 3 of 3)
Convert Books for eReaders
Staying Technology Young
THIS AND THAT
Roadmate 9055-LM
PC Computer Evolution
Too Scared to Buy Anything Online?
Shut down, Sleep, Hibernate Which one, when and why?
Why Do I Care?
Make Your Computer Either
Stupid, Useless or a Zombie
LXDE
Too Many Choices
Bluetooth –
USB 3.0 — The Super-Speed Bus
Evolving Technology
Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 &
Premiere Elements 10
Flickr: A look inside the photostream
Streaming Video Presentation
by Mike Kaltschnee
Membership Application/Renewal *
Mar 2012
The Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group
will meet
Wednesday, Mar 21st,
7:00-9:00 P.M.
At the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California
The meeting begins with Random Access, an
open-floor question-and-answer period during
which attendees can ask questions about
computers and computer-related problems and
receive helpful information from other meeting
attendees. Questions may be submitted before
the meeting by emailing them to Random Access
moderator Jerry Brown at [email protected]
Although there will not be a Computer Tutor this month, if you have
an idea or question that the Computer Tutor can demonstrate, please
email your ideas to the Computer Tutor, Jeff Solomon at
[email protected]
This month Beth Pickering will show use the uses
for the “Network of Care™ and their very
extensive website. It is a network for everyone:
Seniors & People with Disabilities, Mental/
Behavioral Health, Kids (ages 0-5), Children &
Families (Ages 0-18), Developmental Disabilities. Domestic
Violence, Healthy Communities, Probation Services, there is even
a section for Service Members, Veterans & and Their Families. If
you have an idea or questions regarding Programs, email President
Jim Gray at [email protected] or Bernhard Krevet at
[email protected]
Could you use some practical information that would help you
make better use of your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests
are always welcome. Admission is always free.
Interested in becoming a member? See page 34 for application
information.
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012
Nero 10 Multimedia Suite Platinum
By George Harding, Treasurer, Tucson Computer Society, AZ, November 2011 issue,
eJournal, www.aztcs.org, [email protected]
The Suite has a number of applications bundled onto one CD-ROM. Installation
takes almost one-half hour and 3 .7Gb of hard disk space. There are 17
applications in the package, but the bottom line is four basic functions are
provided: Music, Video & Photo, Data and Tools. Nero StartSmart gives you
access to all of these. One of the valuable tools is the series of Help files. These
are accessed online and include a PDF file for each tool in the package. There
are also video tutorials which show you in slow motion how to do a particular
task.
The Backup tools allow you to save files or your entire computer image, and
to restore either of these. The destination can be a disc, your hard drive, a
removable medium or online. You can also verify that the backup is correct. You
can do backups automatically or by schedule. The Autobackup service is $55
per year for 25Gb of space; there is a free trial for 3 months with 1Gb space.
The Music tools offer you the following: play or organize music files; rip and burn music; mix music and digitize LP’s
and tapes, and edit and record music The Video & Photo tools give you the ability to create a video or a slide show, play
back multimedia and to convert on-protected DVDs to various formats . The
Media Hub is a portal to the various tools to accomplish these tasks.
The Data tools include Burn and Copy data,
BackUp data, and Restore and Recover. Nero
PECIAL NTEREST ROUPS
Express gives you step-by-step instructions to burn
and copy CD and DVD disks, a process that is not
AC ROUP
always self-explanatory.
S
NVPCUG
I
G
&M G
In SIG meetings you can learn about
a subject in greater detail than
is feasible at NVPCUG general
meetings. SIG meetings are open to
everyone. Meeting times and
locations occasionally change, so
for current meeting information, see
our Web site, www.nvpcug.org,
or contact the SIG leaders.
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
bqandjbb
@sbcglobal.net
Napa Valley Mac User Group
Meets: Monthly, second Thursday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Facilitator: Don Crandall
(707) 322-0844
ronrogersnapamug
@gmail.com
Nero’s Start screen
The Tools section offers a Performance test for
your disk drives and System Configuration and
Analysis to examine the setup and capabilities of
your disks and software. The Performance test
uses a blank disk and runs several tests to
determine transfer rate, disk quality, CPU usage,
burst rate and more. I tried the test on a CD. The
process wrote 5,001 variable length records to
the disk and saved the test results as well. The
burn rate averaged 30.75X.
The System Config and Analysis does a rather
complete analysis of your hardware and produces
a report divided into Drive/Disk, Configuration
(like Device Manager), software (only the Nero
applications are listed), Drivers, Hardware,
System (operating system, version and browser)
and Hardware Readiness.
This is an extensive and complete system of applications and tools for you
to deal with any operations involving data, music and disks. There is a 15day free trial available.
About: Nero 10 Multimedia Suite Platinum
Vendor: Nero
Website: www.nero.com
Price: ±$100
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group Contact Information
Officers for 2011
Board of Directors
President
Jim Gray
unlisted
[email protected]
Vice President
Ron Dack
Julie Jerome
unlisted
[email protected]
Secretary
Marcia Waddell
252-2060
[email protected]
Treasurer
Roy Wagner
253-2721
[email protected]
[email protected]
Other Directors: Susy Ball, Bernhard Krevet , Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman, Tom
Uboldi, Mel Cohen, Ron Rogers and Jerry Brown
Appointed Positions
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
553-2114
[email protected]
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
252-1506
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman
259-6113
needs an Assistant
[email protected]
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman
259-6113
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
Marcia Waddell
337-3998
252-2060
[email protected]
[email protected]
Programs Director
Ken Manfree
Bernhard Krevet-asst. (unlisted)
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Mel Cohen
unlisted
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
254-9607
[email protected]
unlisted
[email protected]
Webmaster
Ron Dack
needs an Assistant
( All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707)
NVPCUG General Meetings
Held the third Wednesday of each month, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 3
NVPCUG
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is published
monthly by the Napa
Valley Personal
Computer Users Group,
Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O.
Box 2866, Napa, CA
94558-0286.
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[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 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
international
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are taxdeductible as charitable
contributions to the
extent allowed by law.
Copyright © 2012 by
NVPCUG.
3D Digital Picture Frame
By George Harding, Treasurer, Tucson Computer Society, AZ, January 2012 issue, eJournal,
www.aztcs.org, [email protected]
This program is quite fast and has the unexpected
Picture frame devices are designed to show your
pictures in a slide show sort of display, one at a time, effect of reducing the digital file size substantially. For
sometimes with other information on the screen. They the pictures I tested, the size was reduced by nearly
come in various sizes, from small enough to attach to 75%! When the conversion is complete, the image is
displayed on your computer, but to see the 3D effect
a bracelet to as large as a piece of letter paper.
This picture frame is 8", which refers to the diagonal you must wear the red-blue glasses supplied. You can
measurement. This is one of the larger ones available. adjust the degree of 3D depth. Then you save it to the
It has another feature that separates it from the others Picture Frame’s memory for display.
Input methods include PC, memory card or stick and
that are available today – it has 3D capability.
USB
port.
The box contains the device itself, of course, but also
This is an interesting and unusual version of a picture
includes a power cable, a USB connector cable, a user
manual, red-blue glasses and a remote control with battery. frame, one that may be interesting to those who regard
The unit runs on normal household electricity. There 3D as the coming thing.
is no battery in the Picture Frame itself.
About: 3D Digital Picture Frame
The unit comes with several 3D pictures already
Vendor: Blazon
installed and viewable. When you turn the unit on,
Website: http://apclife.com/
these pictures can be shown right away. These photos
Price: $209.67 @ Amazon
can be viewed without the use of special glasses.
Requires: WIN XP/Vista/7,
The USB cable allows connection to a computer so
2GB memory,
that other pictures can be loaded into the Picture
200 MB hard disk space
Frame. There is 2GB of memory built-in, adequate to
store some hundreds of pictures.
In addition to viewing pictures, the unit can also
display videos and play audio files. The picture format
is JPEG. The video format is MPEG, MOV or AVI. The
audio format is MP3, WMA or WAV.
When you connect the unit to a computer, internal
memory displays as if it were an external disc. You can
see the pictures, videos and audio files that are stored.
A section of memory has a digital copy of the user
manual and a program that you can use to convert any
JPEG from 2D to 3D.
*
NVPCUG Calendar
Mar 21
Apr 9
Apr 12
Apr 18
May 5
May 7
May 10
May 16
Jun 11
Jun 14
Jun 20
Jul 18
7:00-9:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
10:00-11:30 am.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
NVPCUG General Meeting, + A
Investors SIG meeting + C
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting, + A
Board of Directors meeting + D
Investors SIG meeting + C
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting, + A
Investors SIG meeting + C
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting, + A
NVPCUG General Meeting, + A
Meeting Locations
A - Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
B - Piner’s Nursing Home,
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
C - Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
D - Peterson’s Family Christmas
Tree Farm, 1120 Darms
Lane, Napa.
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 4
Say No Thank You to New Toolbar Opt Out During the Installation Process
By Leo Notenboom, Ask Leo Article Source: http://articlesbyleo.com/
Typically, installers include this option to earn profit. It’s
Have you ever had a new toolbar suddenly “appear” in
your browser? Although it might not seem like you agreed a way for those offering free software to recoup some of
the cost. But this habit certainly shows up in paid for
to install it, the likelihood is that you did.
One of the most frustrating strategies companies use to software as well.
This tactic is a perfect example of why it is important to
deploy more toolbars relies on your not paying close
attention when installing software or other programs on pay attention during installations and updates. Read each
step before clicking next or you might find you’re about to
your computer.
For example, let’s say you’re installing an update to the “ask” for something you didn’t really want at all.
popular Java runtime, which is software used by some Get more free tech help and advice from Leo
websites to provide rich functionality beyond just displaying Notenboom by visiting http://ask-leo.com With over 30
static pages.
years of industry experience, including an 18 year
The update consists of the normal installation program, career as a software engineer with Microsoft, Leo gives
and then proceeds to ask you the normal installation things, real answers to real questions from ordinary computer
users at Ask Leo! Subscribe to Leo’s weekly newsletter
including agreeing to the software license.
now and receive a free ebook: “Internet Safety Then another screen comes up and without reading it
Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet”, a
you’re about to click Next.
collection of steps, tools and concepts you need to know
Wait!
to keep your computer and your information safe.
In doing so you would have been asking to have the Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/
Yahoo! toolbar installed.
?expert=Leo_Notenboom
Nothing against Yahoo, Java or Sun here, but this can be
very annoying. It’s not that the Yahoo toolbar is bad. It’s
Turn Off Auto Formatting
actually a fine toolbar. The annoying part is this:
If you’ve ever created a numbered or bulleted list
• The offer appears during an update- you’d already
in Microsoft Word, you know that Word
made your selection when you initially installed the
automatically makes formatting changes once it
program, there’s no need to ask again.
senses a pattern in your list. However, the auto• It defaults to “Yes”. Anything optional, particularly
formatted text can become tedious to change
anything totally unrelated to what is being installed,
when you want to begin a sentence with a number
should default to off.
or bullet point without beginning a new list. If you
want to turn off auto formatting in Word 2003,
• They’re “sneaking it in”. OK, this is really subjective,
click the Tools menu, select AutoCorrect Options,
but you can’t help but feel like this might be an
choose the AutoFormat As You Type tab; remove
attempt to sneak the installation in, during a process
the checkmarks from the Automatic Bulleted Lists
where people are usually just hitting Next repeatedly
and Automatic Numbered Lists, and click Apply.
to get the install over with.
In Word 2007, click the Office button, Word
This installation is not the only case. During installation of
Options, and Proofing; click the AutoCorrect
many software packages - both initial installs and updates
Options button; select the AutoFormat As You
- the option to install a toolbar will often be selected by
Type button; remove the checkmarks from the
default. You have to click a box to opt out. This choice
Automatic Bulleted Lists and Automatic Numbered
typically comes during the middle of the process when
Lists, click OK, and click OK again.
you’re conditioned to hitting “next” just get it over with. If
you’re not paying attention once you’re done suddenly a
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
new toolbar will “appear.” A toolbar you didn’t realize you
Computing can do for you and your user group!Smart
had actually agreed to.
*
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 5
File Name Extensions - Why They Are Important
By Penny Cano, member, Cajun Clickers Computer Club, LA, November 2011 issue,
Computer News, www.clickers.org , [email protected]
From the time of DOS through Windows XP, a file
extension was a “dot” followed by three characters at the
end of the file’s name - .JPG, .DOC, and .PDF to name a
few common ones. With Vista and Windows 7, the file
extension is no longer limited to three characters but is still
preceded by a “dot” (.DOCX and .CONTACT for example).
Windows has an association between the extension and
the program needed to open the file. If you try to open a file
with the wrong program you may see something like this:
I tried to open a picture (.JPG) file with Microsoft WORD.
Does this look familiar? WORD doesn’t understand the
contents of the picture file, so it shows what it “thinks” it should
look like. Wrong! So file name extensions are pretty important!
The first question I ask when someone tells me they can’t
open a file is, “What is the extension on the file’s name?”
Maybe you’ve never noticed extensions before. That is
no surprise because the Windows default setting is to hide
them. The first step in dealing with file extensions is to be
able to SEE them. From the START menu, choose Control
Panel the Folder Options and on the View tab uncheck the
box that says “Hide extensions for known file types.”
Apply the choice, then “Apply to all Folders.” See picture
on top of opposite column. The example is from Windows
7, but it is in the same place in all versions of Windows.
Once you can see the extensions you can begin to learn
what program is needed for each type of file.
If you insert a CD, DVD, or flash drive into the
computer, you will probably get something like this if
AUTOPLAY is turned on:
Windows is offering a list of programs it “thinks” is
appropriate or at least a possibility. If you want to
deal with pictures, your choice might be “Import
pictures and videos” or “Import and View Your
Photos.” If you have music on the device you might
choose “Play.” If you just want to see what’s
there, you might choose “Open folder to view
files.” Under each choice is the name of the
program Windows will use to deal with the files. I
have several types of files on this flash drive, so
one program may not be appropriate for all of
them. If you don’t actively make the choice,
Windows will choose for you and use its default
(whatever is highlighted) and you may get a big
surprise!
Suppose you double-click on a file and the
program that comes up is not the one you want to
use? Many programs you install decide to change
Wi n d o w s d e f a u l t a n d m a k e t h e m s e l v e s t h e
“program of choice” (but maybe not YOUR choice).
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 6
Or maybe you want to use a different program on
a one-time basis. You can choose another program
by highlighting the file (one LEFT click) then rightclick on it and choose “Open with.”
and you can choose the one you want. If you want to
try different programs, use this option until you decide
which one you want. This will not set the default; it is
simply for the one occasion. If I were to double-click
on the picture in the upper left corner, Windows would
use Windows Photo Viewer to open it because that is
the current (default) association between a .JPG file
and a program on my computer.
If you want to change the primary (default) program
for all cases, you can make the choice yourself by
clicking on “Choose default program” (or “Choose
program” in XP). The resulting “Open with” box has
the file’s name at the top.
Write down the original setting BEFORE you change it and
BE CAREFUL! If you set the wrong default you may get
the first example above all the time.
*
Word: Key Tips
New versions of Microsoft Office Word have Key Tips,
which are special keyboard shortcuts. Press the ALT
key to make the Key Tips appear on the Ribbon, the
press the corresponding key on the keyboard to activate
the feature or open the tab. For example, you can open
the Insert tab in the Ribbon by pressing ALT and then
pressing N. From there, you can press P to activate the
Insert Picture command.
Word: Change Save Format
By default, Word 2010 saves to the DOCX format. If you
regularly save documents to a different format (such as
DOC, the format used by older versions of Word), you
can make that format the default. Click the File tab and
then click Options. Click the Save tab and then click
the drop-down menu next to Save Files In This Format.
Finally, click the OK button.
Notice the extension in .jpg in this case. Highlight the
program you want to be the default, check the box that
says “Always use the selected program to open this
kind of file” and hit OK.
For those of you who feel brave, the “master list” of
file extensions and their associated program can be
found in the Control Panel. In XP it’s under Folder
Options on the File Types tab. In Vista and Win 7, it can
be found under Default Programs and “Associate a
file type with a program.”
Microsoft Office Ribbon: Search
Commands
Although many users consider the Ribbon easier to
navigate than the menus of previous versions, anyone
can find themselves searching in vain for a particular
feature from time to time. Enter Search Commands,
which is a plug-in for Office 2007 and Office 2010. The
free software lets you search for those features by
keyword. Visit officelabs.com to download it.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!Smart
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 7
Buying a New Computer –
Things to think about (Part 1)
By Phil Sorrentino, Past President, Sarasota PCUG, Florida, January 2012 issue, Sarasota
PCUG Monitor, www.spcug.org, [email protected]
Multi-core processors, from Intel, start with the older
The thought of a new computer is always very exciting,
whether you are buying your first computer or replacing an “core duo,” followed by the “core 2 duo” and then the
aged one. If you are replacing one, you’ve probably been more current crop of multi-core processors which are
down this road before, but if this is your first computer there simply named “Core i3,” “Core i5,” and “Core i7.”
are many things to consider. Because there is such variety Current multi-core processors have 2, 4, or 8 processors
available, the first consideration might be the manufacturer. packaged in the CPU chip. Recently, I’ve seen the term
This decision is usually driven by past experience or “second generation” added to some of these names, to
knowledgeable friend’s advice. But typically it comes down indicate a newer design. AMD has a similar set of
to preference, similar to the decision to buy a car - Ford or CPUs with names like “Phenom,” “Athlon,” “Athlon
Chevy?; they both are good choices and they both will get II,” “Athlon X2 Dual-Core,” and “Sempron.”
you there. So, if you don’t have a reason for a preference
Comparing the Intel CPUs to the AMD CPUs can be
in computer manufacturer, stick with the big players, HP, a difficult task, and is probably best answered by a
DELL, Gateway, Sony, Toshiba, Lenovo, etc. Once the Google search for “Intel vs AMD” and then reading
manufacturer is selected, go to their website and look at the many of the various opinions. Hopefully, there is enough
various possibilities.
information found there to help you make up your mind.
If you have decided on a manufacturer, the next high level Both Intel and AMD produce quality products, so
decision is probably laptop or desktop. The laptop is portable another way to solve this is to just select one of the
and takes up very little room. However, the laptop is usually manufacturers and then learn as much as possible about
more expensive and is typically not expandable. (Usually, that one so you can continue on to select the best CPU,
when you discard your laptop in the future, it will be the exact for you, within that manufacturer’s offerings.
same configuration as when you bought it.) On the other
Now that we’ve chosen a CPU manufacturer and
hand, desktops are usually less expensive and are expandable maybe even the CPU core family name, e.g. Intel i5,
because there are spare slots on the “motherboard” and the job is not quite done. Typically, there are further
extra drive bays for additional drives and/or other peripheral discriminators attached to the CPU family. Probably
devices. Usually, the decision revolves around portability. If the most important is “clock rate,” or speed. This is
you are planning on using the computer at multiple locations, indicated in GHz, or Gigahertz, which is a measurement
which could include Panera Bread, Starbucks, the airport or of how fast the CPU is running. The higher the speed,
library, then a portable is definitely in your future. But if most the faster the processor is running and the higher the
of your computing is typically done from your home office processing power, but unfortunately, the higher the
or den, and/or you need a lot of permanent on-line storage, power dissipation. It is probably a good decision to
then the desktop might be a good choice.
stay in the middle range of CPU speed, around 2 to 2.5
Once you have decided on the manufacturer and made GHz. High speed is good, but if you are at the top end
the laptop-desktop decision, the fun begins. Most of the of the speed spectrum, which is around 3 to 4 GHz,
rest of the decisions are very technical in nature, but have then CPU cooling becomes a real issue. If the computer
been summarized in a few technical parameters. The first is running a very fast CPU, make sure there are
one is CPU (Central Processing Unit), referred to as the adequate fans to remove the heat generated by the
brains of the computer, and sometimes simply called the processor. Typically, you won’t be deciding on the fans
“processor”. Unfortunately, this decision is further or how many fans, but make sure when you are using
complicated by the fact that there are two manufacturers the computer that all the fans are operating and the
of computer CPUs, Intel and AMD, and they use different vents are not obscured, and are not clogged by dust or
ways of naming their products. But behind the names there animal hair.
is one basic decision. Older CPUs are “single core” and
The last thing to note when looking at the CPU is that
newer CPUs have “multiple cores.” The number of they usually come in different versions within a family.
“cores” or CPUs translates into processing power. This The versions are indicated by a number. So, for
decision should probably be to go with one of the newer, example, an Intel CPU might be defined as Intel Core
multi-core CPUs. You could save a little money with the i5-520M (2.4GHz). The 520M indicates further
older single core, but as the need for more processing technical details such as the size of the Cache (subject
power increases with newer applications, the single for a future article). Usually, as the number goes up,
processor may begin to feel like “it just isn’t fast enough.” the processing power increases.
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 8
One thing to point out when discussing CPUs is the
fact that CPUs come in two types, 32-bit and 64-bit.
But this is probably not a deciding factor for most
computer users. Both will do the job; the only thing that
the CPU type leads to is the determination of how
much RAM memory the processor can use. 32-bit
machines will be limited to 4 GB (Gigabytes) of RAM,
and a 64-bit machine will not. RAM memory will be
discussed in part 2 of this article.
So far, we’ve discussed manufacturers, laptop vs.
desktop, and looked at the CPU. Next month we’ll
continue with some more considerations so that the
computer you purchase will be exactly the one that will
fulfill your desires, keeping in mind that what you hope
to accomplish with this computer drives most of these
decisions.
*
Buying a New Computer –
Things to think about (Part 2 of 3)
Last month we discussed manufacturers, laptop vs.
desktop, and looked at the CPU. Now it’s time to think
about a few more things.
Let’s look at a laptop first because there aren’t as many
considerations. Because of a laptop’s physical size and
configuration, there are only a few things that can vary and
therefore make you make a decision. The first one is
Display size. Today, display sizes seem to be between
about 14 and 18 inches. Larger displays can give you more
webpage space, but will probably lead to heavier laptop, a
consideration if you are going to carry it around a lot.
Another parameter you may find advertised with a
laptop is Battery Life. This becomes important if you are
going to use the laptop without ac power for long periods
of time, like on a flight from New York to Florida. (For
really long flights, you might want to have a second
battery.) Today’s typical Lithium-Ion batteries will provide
from around 3 to around 6½ hours of use time. To get the
longer use time, the battery will probably be larger and
therefore heavier, again a consideration only if you intend
to carry it around a lot.
All computers, laptops included, rely on two types of
memory, volatile storage, called RAM (Random Access
Memory), and Non-volatile storage, typically a Hard Disk
Drive (HDD). The sizes of both of these are decision to be
made. We haven’t discussed the Software Operating
System (OS) yet, but today the OS will probably be
Windows 7, Home Premium. So for a Windows 7 computer,
it is suggested that a minimum of 2 GB of RAM be
included. (If the CPU is a 32-bit CPU then the maximum
would be 4 GB. If the CPU is a 64-bit CPU then today the
maximum is 16 GB, for Windows 7 Home Premium and
192 GB for Windows Enterprise, Professional, and Ultimate,
but the particular laptop hardware will probably limit the
RAM to something less.) Note that increased memory
does not yield any substantial increase in weight, so get as
much as you can.
Now for the Hard Disk Drive. Most, if not all, laptops
have only one HDD, although it can be partitioned into
many logical drives, e.g. C:, D:, etc. For a Windows 7
computer, it is suggested that the HDD size be at least 200
GB. The OS and applications could take as much as 100
GB, leaving only 100 GB for data (documents, pictures,
videos, music). Today, most machines will have between
400 and 1,000 GB of HDD space. Note that increased
HDD size does not yield any substantial increase in weight,
again, so get as much as you can.
Sooner, than later, all laptops are called upon to access
the Internet. This can be accomplished by a wired
connection to an Internet Service Provider (ISP), or a
wireless connection to the ISP. All of today’s laptops
provide both of these connection capabilities. The wired
connection is provided by an RJ-45 plug somewhere on
the back or side of the laptop. The wireless connection
is provided by 802.11 b, g, or n Local Area Network
communications radio transmitter and receiver built into
the laptop motherboard (the antenna is usually someplace
in the laptop cover).
802.11 wireless communications is available in many
public places like airports, some shopping centers, and
libraries, and is referred to as Wi-Fi, which stands for
Wireless Fidelity. This type of wireless communications
uses the 2.4 GHz band for communicating with a wireless
access point, which is typically part of a router. The router
in turn connects to the ISP, through a modem. The b, g,
or n specifies the particular signaling technique and
communications protocols to be used. 802.11n is the
newest and the most capable, having the fastest transfer
rate (200 to 300 Mbps). 802.11g is the most ubiquitous, and
is backwards compatible with the older 802.11b. n is
backwards compatible with both g and b. Today all laptops
are at least g compatible and many newer laptops are n
compatible. The wireless communications capabilities are
probably not a decision factor, unless you specifically want
the newest 802.11n capability.
Laptops typically have an optical CD/DVD Drive which
is capable of reading and writing CDs and DVDs. Some
of the newer, and more expensive laptops, are including a
Blue-ray Drive which is capable of reading and writing
Blue-ray Disks (BD). These BD drives are backwards
Building a New Computer cont. on page 10
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 9
Building a New Computer cont. from page 9
compatible with DVDs and CDs so they can read and
write all three types of optical storage disks. (Just a quick
review of capacities - CDs hold 700 MB, DVDs hold 4.7
GB, and BDs hold about 25 GB.) The optical drive is only
a decision point if you are specifically interested in reading
and/or writing BD disks, otherwise there is little difference
between manufacturers optical drive products.
Most of the newer laptops have a camera, typically just
above the display in the center. The camera faces the user
so it can be used for audio/video telecommunications such
as Skype and Google Talk. This is definitely a decision
point if you intend to use the video calling capabilities. A
camera usually does not add much to the price and may
prove to be a useful capability in the future.
All laptops have audio capabilities, usually a microphone
input, provided by a 1/8th inch mono mini-jack, and a stereo
output provided by a 1/8th inch stereo mini-jack. The
microphone input can be used for audio/video
telecommunications like Skype and Google Talk. The
stereo audio output can also be used to drive a set of good
external speakers or even the audio of some older televisions.
Audio capabilities are not a decision point.
All laptops have an external Monitor output. On older
laptops the output connector is a 15 pin VGA female
connector. On newer laptops the video output is available
on an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)
connector along with audio. HDMI is the best way to
connect your laptop to a newer television.
All laptops have USB 2.0 interface ports. The number of
ports may be a decision point. And the newer USB 3.0 may
show up on some newer, more expensive laptops. Some
laptops (not many) may have other types of interface ports
such as Firewire or eSATA. This is definitely a decision
point if these types of interfaces are needed.
So far we’ve looked at all the important things for the
purchase of a laptop. Next month we’ll cover Desktops
and some other miscellaneous things to consider.
*
Buying a New Computer –
Things to think about (Part 3 of 3)
Last month we looked in depth at the things to be considered
when buying a laptop, and the previous month we discussed
manufacturers, laptop vs. desktop, and looked at the CPU.
Now it’s time to think about considerations for a desktop. A
desktop usually is comprised of a tower, a display, a keyboard,
and a mouse. But because a desktop usually has plenty of
space, it can usually be found in the company of a printer, an
Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), external hard drives,
and special purpose peripherals like a slide scanner, or a VHS
to DVD converter.
A desktop minimally consists of a Tower, a display, a
keyboard and a mouse. The keyboard and mouse could be
wired or wireless. The tower is the heart of the desktop
computer. It houses a motherboard which is a large printedcircuit board that includes all the basic computer functions, as
well as expansion slots for adding features. The boards that are
plugged into these expansion slots are called daughter boards
(get it?). These daughter boards can provide other interfaces
and capabilities. The tower also houses all the Hard Drives and
Optical Drives (and a Floppy drive if you need that kind of
backward-looking compatibility). RAM, or Random Access
Memory, is located on the mother board, so on the motherboard
you will find a number of memory slots. These memory slots are
usually there to hold a specific type of memory like DDR2 or
DDR3, although the amount of memory may vary. For a
Windows 7 computer, the minimum RAM is really 2 GB,
although Microsoft indicates it will run fine with 1 GB (on a 32bit CPU). (As was stated last month, the CPU type, 32-bit or
64-bit, along with theWindows OS version and the motherboard,
will determine the maximum RAM for a given computer.)
When deciding on a desktop, the only thing that is usually
advertised is the amount of RAM, so the amount of RAM is the
deciding consideration; the more RAM, the better. (The
memory types may differ among different computers, and that
may be why the costs differ.) The motherboard also contains
other miscellaneous electronics for audio, USB ports, internet
connection, and boot Programmable Read-Only Memories
that control the bootstrap process. The motherboard is never a
decision consideration because very little is advertised about the
motherboard, but it is a crucial part of the tower.
Because the desktop usually has plenty of space, the
Display can be as large as you like, and you may even want
more than one. A second display can expand the desktop size
or be a copy of the first display. The copy of the first display
might really be an HD large screen TV, which might be good
for viewing those episodes of shows you missed when they
were broadcast. Usually you can find those episodes on
hulu.com or abc.com, nbc.com and abc.com. Very good
displays in the 22 to 24 inch category can be found from all of
the large display manufacturers like HP, Samsung, Dell,
Viewsonic, and Sony. With a display, “size counts”, so try to
get the largest display that will fit into the space available.
The display is driven by a Graphics Adapter which is
either on the motherboard or is provided by a Graphics
Adapter daughter board. Today, most desktop computers
are configured to use the on-board graphics adapter, which
usually does a pretty good basic job. If you are looking for
improved graphics, like multiple display support, better
resolution, or faster performance for gaming, it is up to you
to add a daughter board graphics adapter to the
motherboard. Graphics Adapters are available from ATI,
nVidia, and Matrox, as well as others.
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 10
Now for the Hard Disk Drive (HDD). This is where the
desktop really starts to show its value. (As we stated last
month, for a Windows 7 computer, it is suggested that the
HDD size be at least 200 GB, but because we are talking
about a desktop, consider much larger drives.) Most
desktops will come with one large HDD, but there is
usually enough room in the tower to add typically up to 3
more drives. Adding just one other drive gives you the
ability to backup your data within the tower, making the
backup process so easy that you might actually do it
regularly. Once you commit to more than one HDD, there
are a lot of ways you could use the drives. If the drives are
large, say greater than 500 GB, you can partition the first
drive so you have a C: drive of about 100 GB for the OS
and applications, and then use the rest, the D: drive, for
data (documents, pictures, videos, music). Then the second
drive, the E: drive, could be for backup.
Almost all computers are called upon to access the
Internet. Because the desktop is usually in one place, and
usually near the router, this can be easily accomplished by
a wired connection to an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
(Wired connections are faster and more secure than
wireless connections.) All of today’s desktops provide
this type of connection by an RJ-45 plug somewhere on
the back of the tower.
Desktops again, because of their size, can accommodate
multiple optical drives. Having two CD/DVD Drives can
make the process of copying CDs or DVD easier. One drive
can be read-only, which will keep the cost down, and the
other can be read/write. With two drives, you don’t have to
interrupt the copying process to exchange the disks; the
software just copies from the read-only to the read/write
and lets you know when it is done. So, if a second optical
drive is available, that may become a good decision
consideration. Most towers include a CD/DVD drive, but
some of the newer, more expensive towers are including
newer, more expensive, Blue-ray drives. (As stated last
month, CDs hold 700 MB. DVDs hold 4.7 GB, and BDs hold
about 25 GB.) The optical drive is only a decision point if you
are specifically interested in reading and/or writing BD
disks, otherwise there is little difference between
manufacturers’ optical drive products.
As discussed last month, all computers have audio
capabilities, usually a microphone input, provided by a 1/8th
inch mono mini-jack, and a stereo output provided by a 1/8th
inch stereo mini-jack. The microphone input can be used for
audio/video telecommunications like Skype and Google
Talk. If you want to enjoy audio from a desktop, you’ll have
to add a set of computer speakers, which are easily
connected to the stereo output, and fairly inexpensive.
All desktops have USB 2.0 interface ports. The number
of ports may be a decision point. And the newer USB 3.0
may show up on some newer, more expensive towers.
Other types of interface ports such as Firewire or eSATA,
can be added to a tower’s motherboard, using an expansion
slot, so that the interface connector is available on the rear
of the tower. This is definitely a decision point if these types
of interfaces are needed.
The desktop tower’s power supply is not usually a
decision point, but a desktop’s power supply can be easily
replaced. If one adds a lot of expansion slot capabilities, the
power requirement may increase beyond the original
capacity. Replacement power supplies are fairly
inexpensive and available from many sources.
A desktop is usually cheaper than a laptop of similar
capabilities, and the desktop capabilities can be expanded
to provide many more capabilities. These capabilities are
only limited by your imagination and sometime your wallet.
Good luck with your next computer purchase.
You might think we’re finished because we’ve covered most
of the technical aspects of the computer purchase. But there is
still one thing to be considered: What if things don’t work the
way you expected after you open all the boxes, remove all the
parts and put it all together (even with a laptop you typically have
to install the battery). Now it may be a matter of where you
bought your equipment. It seems there are at least three
choices: the “big box” stores (Best Buy, Office Depot, Office
Max, Staples, etc.); on-line retail websites (Amazon, Buy.com,
Newegg, etc.); and Local computer stores (Discount Computers,
Computer Repair, - see their Ads in this issue). The concern
here is support after the purchase. With all of these options,
there is typically 15 to 30 days where you can return your
equipment for a refund or at least store credit. If you bought
from a website you’ll have to package it all up and get an RMA
(return material authorization) or something similar. Returning
it to a “big-box” or Local store is probably a little easier. After
the initial “return period” comes the time of ownership. I can’t
speak from a position of great authority here, because I have
not used either “big-box” or local help, but support is readily
available from both “big-box” stores and Local computer
stores. (I have been told of some excellent experiences friends
have had with local stores.) Local computer stores might have
an edge in follow-on support because of the smaller number of
people involved, but I’m sure there are many success stories
using both alternatives. (Personally, I like the ability to call
someone I know, and have a relationship with, to discuss the
problem.) Local stores may even include a number of hours of
training with the purchase.
No matter where you purchased the computer, sometime in
the future you will have a problem (I’m intentionally using the
word “will” rather than “may”). Where you purchased the
computer may then play a very important role in getting the
computer back up and running. The problem may be hardware
(disk drive, or CPU chip), or software (virus effects or simply
slowed down operations), so one of the last things to think
about would be a backup plan. This is a good opportunity
to go back and re-read the backup articles published right
here in the Monitor. Now that you’ve got all bases covered,
go out and buy that computer and look forward to many
years of happy, successful computer use.
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 11
*
Convert Books for eReaders
By Len Nasman, Editor, Bristol Village Computer Club, Ohio, January 2012 issue, BVCC
newsletter, www.bvcc.org, [email protected]
It was not exactly a Christmas Using Calibre to Move Books
present, but I now have a new Fortunately, I discovered a free program called Calibre
Kindle Fire. We had accumulated http://calibre-ebook.com/ that makes it almost
a bunch of reward points on our easy to convert books and send them to different ereaders
PNC Bank account, and I like Kindle, Nook, Android and others.
discovered that unused points
were expiring every month.
Looking through the rewards
catalog, I discovered that I had
enough points for a Kindle Fire.
So, since the price was right, I
ordered one.
It seems that if you are more than 21 years old, how to
use these new-fangled things is not instantly obvious.
The Kindle Fire seems to assume that you already know
Before you start using Calibre, you need to create (using
how to use it, so no instruction
Manual was included. Of course there is a manual Windows Explorer) an empty folder for storing the book
available on the Kindle, but until you know how to use the files you will be using with Calibre.
Kindle, you cannot read the manual.
Anyway, I eventually got to the point where I was ready
to look for free books on the Internet and add them to the
Kindle.
Free Books from Project Gutenberg
My first step was to go to the Project Gutenberg web site
to look for free books.
The good news about Project Gutenberg is that they now
have file format options for ereaders, including Kindle.
Once a book file has been downloaded to a folder in
the computer’s hard drive, the question is how to copy
into the ereader.
After your empty Calibre book folder has been created
(using Windows Explorer), the Calibre installation process
will ask you what eBook reader you have and what folder
you will use for your Calibre book list.
The upper left corner of the Calibre window has a tool for
adding books. If you downloaded books from Project Gutenberg,
you locate the files and add them to your Calibre list.
Calibre provides an option for downloading cover art and
information for the books on your list. Calibre refers to this
as ‘metadata.’
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 12
First select a book and then click on the Edit Metadata tool.
There is a button in the Edit Metadata window for
downloading data. When this is selected, Calibre searches
the Internet for info about your book. When it finds book
info in more than one location, it shows a selection list for
you to pick from. You will also have the option to choose
a book cover that will be displayed in your Calibre list and,
in my case, eventually on the Kindle Fire list.
If you download a book from Project Gutenberg in the
Kindle format, you are ready to go. If not, Calibre provides
an option to convert book files to the MOBI file format that
Kindle uses.
When you are ready to send books to the ereader,
select the Calibre Send to Device tool. That’s it.
Happy reading.
*
Staying Technology Young
You also can read a book on your computer. Double
clicking on a book in the Calibre list will open an eBook
viewer right on your computer screen. (This is an option
for those who travel with a laptop computer and want to
use their laptop as an ereader.)
After the Calibre book list is in place, it is time to send the
books to the ereader. In the case of the Kindle Fire, a USB
to mini connecter computer cable was not supplied. Rather
than buying this from Amazon, I got one on EBay and for
a couple of dollars (including shipping).
When the Kindle Fire is connected to the computer, it
appears in Windows Explorer just like another disk drive.
However, Windows Explorer is not used to move books to
the Kindle. This is done directly from Calibre. Calibre talks
directly to the ereader through the USB cable. There is a
tool in Calibre that will show your ereader book list.
By Darry D Eggleston, Article reprinted
with permission. Copyright © 2007-2011
Darry D Eggleston, http://DarryD.com
The challenges for me are increasing as I strive to remain
technologically young. What used to take years to change
now occurs in a matter of months. So many new products
are appearing in such rapid order that, unless one reads,
observes, and communicates with like-minded friends, one
ends up talking about the “good old days” of technology
way back in 2009.
Someone referred to technology’s growth in “dog years”
and I suspect she might be right. Technology now leaps in
one year where we would expect it to take seven years in
the past.
One need only look at cellphones, cameras, and notebook
computers to see that devices are shrinking while their
capabilities are exponentially increasing.
Just yesterday, a conversation between two neighbors
awoke me to this fact again. Both are my age in the 60-to1,000-year-old range. One neighbor extolled finding a new
restaurant quickly because of his car’s trusty dashboardmounted global positioning device (GPS).
The other, without hesitating, replied, “Oh, I got rid of my
old GPS six months ago,” as he pulled out his cellphone.
“Mine’s in here.” Proudly, he showed us his Nokia N8:
“Unlocked GSM touchscreen phone featuring GPS with
voice navigation and a 12 megapixel camera.”
Even my research for this simple article relied on
technology that I wish was available when I was younger:
1. I Googled to learn more about Dave’s cellphone.
(Nokia’s website boasts that N8 phones can connect
to social networks, web TV programs and Ovi Store
apps. It has Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash, HDquality video recording, film editing software, and
Dolby Surround Sound.)
2. I used FastStone Capture to take a screenshot of the
Nokia description, pasted it into OmniPage which
scanned the image and converted it into plain text,
which I copied and pasted it into WordPerfect.
You can either ride the waves of innovation rushing to the
shores of your existence or you can be swept out into the
sea of ignorance. You can stay technologically young or die
in place at a pace that’s more fitting for an old folk’s home.
Choices, my friend, it’s all about choices.
*
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 13
THIS AND THAT
By Elizabeth B. Wright, Member, Computer Club of Oklahoma City, November 2011 issue,
CCOKC eMonitor, www.ccokc.org, [email protected]
As the birds gather to plan their trip South for the winter, to avoid transacting banking business or other financial
so do some of us. But what to take with us? Lighter weight business online from public Wi-Fi sites. The same source
clothing for that hoped for sunny climate, although for this information, which was quoting the FBI, also said
experience tells us we can‘t really get far enough South in not to go onto the internet.
the continental USA to guarantee that. Maybe the mountains
But mostly that is what we want to do when using our
for skiing. But along with our necessities, some of us now computers away from home. It does leave us in a bit of a
take along our link to the world, our laptop computers.
pickle. Thousands of people at any given time are using
Are you driving or flying? Either way, I have found that these networks. Just go into any national bookstore chain
the smaller Netbook type computers are easier to carry. that boasts a coffee shop and most of the tables will be
Even with accessories, they usually weigh less than laptops. filled with people working diligently on their computers.
And with the right add-ons, they can be every bit as useful
As for passwords, the old advice to change them often
as their larger cousins.
is as valid today as in the past.
My accessory kit contains a USB connected 750G hard
Especially those used for accessing your email and
drive, very compact and light, a reduced size USB keyboard other personal websites. A paper list of the email addresses
(easier to use than the netbook keyboard) and a small you plan to contact while away from home or office is
mouse. Of course you can tailor your kit to suit yourself. preferable to keeping the same list on your computer. I
When flying, in addition to the USB hard drive, I pack keep mine in the safest place I can manage, either the
several USB flash drives, the higher capacity the better. hotel room lockbox or as close to my body as possible.
Because part of traveling is the opportunity to take pictures, Keeping it in a purse or billfold is risky, but if all else fails
with digital cameras it is possible to download them to the it beats leaving it lying around the hotel room. The main
external hard drive or to the flash drives in order to have reason for making sure it is safeguarded is to keep it from
backup copies of them. Many netbooks have rather smallish prying eyes (including anyone who might just photograph
internal hard drives, so having extra storage capability is great. your list and leave it where they found it). This step is a
Another advantage to the Netbook computers is the courtesy to your friends, relatives and business contacts
small size makes it easier to put them in a hotel room that are on your list.
lockbox along with the USB flash drives and/or the USB
external drive. The mouse will also fit, but the smaller size
keyboard may not. But since the external keyboard is not
Fun Site: Train Your Brain
essential to using your computer, you can better risk
leaving it in your suitcase when out of the room. Nothing
We can all use a good workout once in a while,
left in a hotel room is 100% safe, so keep that in mind.
especially when it comes to our brains. Think of
The other great advantage to traveling with your computer
Brainmetrix.com as your brain gym. Here you can
is access to the internet. However there are some security
participate in various brain activities such as brain
risks involved with connecting to free Wi-Fi networks like
reflection, which will increase your speed of thinking;
those available in many restaurants, airports, hotels, etc.
brainteasers, which will help stretch your mind; and
Take time to search the internet (from home) for information
math problems, which will help you gain muscle mass
on how to best insulate your laptop from the bad guys.
in the form of knowledge. Whether you wish to improve
your concentration or reflexes, there’s a multitude of
Each computer is different and you will have to determine
ways to give your mind a great sweat session.
what will work best for you. Most netbooks and laptops now
are built with Wi-Fi capability. This can be programmed to only
Train Your Brain or http://brainmetrix.com/
connect when you tell it to. The default is usually to connect
whenever it detects an open network. This can be risky.
Fun Site: TechEBlog.com
Some networks are secured and require a password to
Looking for gadget-related news? Check out TechEBlog,
connect, but others are open to the world. Before leaving
for a heaping helping of (sometimes very strange) gadgets.
home, check with whomever you know to be knowledgeable
Techeblog.com can be found at h t t p : / /
about securing your netbook/laptop while surfing the internet
www.techeblog.com/
from free Wi-Fi locations.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
Most of what I keep on my netbook is not particularly
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
valuable to anyone but me, but there are some passwords
Computing can do for you and your user group!
which I would prefer to keep private. One bit of advice is
*
Happy Traveling….
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 14
Roadmate 9055-LM
By George Harding, Treasurer, Tucson Computer Society, AZ, November 2011 issue,
eJournal, www.aztcs.org, [email protected]
There are many manufacturers of GPS driving devices. remaining. Zoom in and out change your view of the
One of the best is Magellan. I was provided with the 9055- display. “Main menu” moves you to a screen with several
LM to review. What a pleasure! First of all, the box options for tools: create a route to an address or a point of
contents: Roadmate receiver, mount for windshield, car interest, access address book and user settings. Creating
power adapter, USB cable and handbook (English, French a route may involve inputting an address. You are given an
and Spanish). You need to charge the device first, or entry panel in which you enter the city, then street, then
operate it in your car, connected to the power outlet (used number. If you don’t know the address, you can enter an
to be called cigarette lighter). The first screen you see is intersection instead.
a list of Do Nots: don’t program the unit while driving,
Or you might want to go to a specific business, such as
remain attentive, obey traffic laws and more. It is wise to Wendy’s, Costco or Walgreen’s. The result of any of these
obey these, since the temptation is to play with the unit destination requests is a 3-D map showing where you are
while you’re driving, which may result in an accident.
and the beginning of the route you need to take. Or you can
access the driving directions list, which shows which street
The main screen is large
for how many miles, how to turn and so on.
(a 7" touch screen) and
shows where you are
The unit comes with lifetime map updates, which is a
and, if you’ve entered a
valuable feature. Street names change over time and new
destination,
the
streets come into being about every day.
beginning of your route.
Two other features differentiate this unit from others,
To enter a destination
Bluetooth and AAA. The unit can pair with your cell phone
you are asked for city, street and number, if you know so that you can receive calls “hands-free” and have a
these. If you just want to go to the nearest McDonald’s you better speaker for that use than the one in your cell phone.
choose a different method.
The AAA Tour Book feature makes available locations
As you travel your route, you are given spoken directions, and ratings for hotels, motels, attractions, events and more,
although these can be turned off or the volume turned up as well as addresses and phone numbers. You can set up
or down. I found some of the spoken instructions a bit hard any of these as a destination on your map.
to understand. If you stray from the route provided, a
An interesting add-on to this unit is the Back-up camera.
revised routing is almost immediately put into place. There It fits on your license plate holder and shows the view
is no “recalculating” message, just how to proceed from behind you, replacing the normal map view. The $150 cost
where you are currently.
may be worthwhile.
The main window has several parts: a One Touch button,
There are many more features available to you, but these
distance to next move, how to turn at the next move, traffic will be the most frequently used. Magellan provides a oneicon if there are warnings en route, ETA, zoom out/in, Main year limited warranty to the original owner that the unit is
Menu, POIs and volume. The One Touch button takes you free of defects in workmanship and materials, and it will
to a screen where you can save and access searches. For perform according to specifications.
*
example, to go home, set up a search to your home address,
save it in one of the buttons and name it. Other destinations
you access frequently can be stored this way for convenient
access.
“Distance to next move” shows miles to that spot, which
may be a turn to a new street, the way to veer at a Y or
simply to go straight on through. The “How to turn”
indication is an arrow that is straight, angled left or right or
half-right or left. It tells you which way you’ll be turning so
you can get into the correct lane.
The “Traffic” icon will warn you of traffic delays or
routing if they exist. This function only works when the
About: Roadmate 9055-LM
device is plugged into the car adapter. The unit comes with
Vendor: Magellan
lifetime service for traffic warnings. “ETA” shows when
you are expected to arrive at your destination. You can tap
Website: www.magellangps.com
that portion of the screen to get distance, speed and time
Price: $280 from Magellan
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 15
PC Computer Evolution
By Wil Wakely, President, Seniors Computer Group, California, November 2011 issue, Bits
and Bytes, www.SCGsd.org, [email protected]
With the sad death in October 2011 of Steve Jobs of Apple fame,
it seems appropriate to review the history of the personal
computer in which he was so instrumental in its evolution. In
1970 he was only 15 years old when the micro-computer, as it
was then called, stirred to life. Prior to that time, mainframes and
mini-computers dominated the scene, requiring large installations
and huge capital expense. IBM 360’s required a special airconditioned room and cost up to $5.5 million each. Our smart cell
phones now have more computing power than they did.
The invention of the transistor at Bell Labs in 1947 and the
Integrated Circuit invented in 1958, concurrently by Texas
Instruments and Intel allowed miniaturization and cost savings
that revolutionized future computer designs. One of the first
affordable micro-computers was the Atari, essentially an
arcade game machine that played PONG, a tennis simulation.
It had no programming language and used a joy-stick for
control and a TV for a display. The Commodore 64, VIC-20
and PET were the largest selling small computers in 1976. It
did have a programming language and a multitude of
applications. Other computer models appeared briefly on the
scene: the Osborne, a “luggable” portable computer;
RadioShack TRS-80, (Trash80); Heath H-89, a kit; Sinclair
ZX80, a miniature inexpensive powerhouse from England;
KayPro, by Andy Kay, owner of a local Solana Beach
company; IMSAI, a computer that actually looked like one
with 22 front panel switches and 40 blinking red lights.
Steve Jobs and his friend, Steve Wozniak, were computer
club buddies and got together in 1976 to design the Apple I.
During a visit to PARC ((Palo Alto Research Center, a Xerox
company) Jobs saw their development of the GUI (Graphical
User Interface that we now call Windows) and the mouse that
controlled the cursor. He immediately realized that it was a great
idea. No keyboard required! He borrowed (?!) the idea and
implemented it in the Apple II. Later, Microsoft borrowed
(copied?) theApple GUI for their Windows and, not surprisingly,
legal actions became rampant among the three.
In 1979 a killer application called VisiCalc came on the scene.
It was a rudimentary spreadsheet that was first incorporated in
the Apple II. Now a personal computer could actually do some
work as opposed to just playing games. VisiCalc went on to
inspire Lotus 1-2-3 and Excel which are much more powerful
spreadsheet programs. WordStar, a word processing (WP)
program, also appeared in 1979.
Several WP programs already existed, but WordStar quickly
dominated the field. Typewriters became instantly obsolete.
Also about that time, an IBM manager in the Boca Raton, FL,
facility developed the prototype IBMPC. It was a tough sell to
upper management because of the fear of it cannibalizing the
mainframe business, but he persevered and the IBM-PC was
born. However, it had no operating system (OS).
Rather than create a new one, they sought out Gary Kildall,
the owner of Digital Research Inc. (DRI) in Pacific Grove, CA.
He had developed CP/M which at that time was a widely used
operating system for small computers. When IBM personnel
flew to the West Coast for their appointment with Kildall, they
were told he was off flying his airplane. He was obviously not
impressed with IBM. Justifiably miffed, IBM approached Bill
Gates at Microsoft for an OS.
Gates and his partner, Paul Allen, had been together
since 1975 writing the BASIC programming language.
Bill quickly agreed to provide an OS to IBM. He called
a local friend, also a programmer, who had developed
QDOS (Quick & Dirty Operating System) based upon
DRI’s CP/M OS. After they agreed to minimal financial
terms, Gates modified it slightly for IBM and named it
MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System). IBM
further cleaned out 300 bugs and called it PC-DOS, with
Gates retaining all the rights. Brilliant negotiation! At the
time, computers were sold without the OS, which had to
be purchased separately. So in 1981 IBM launched the
IBM-PC followed by 11 upgrade models. The XT model
had the first internal hard drive.
Apple and Microsoft continue to fight for market share with
supporters who are strongly opinionated lined up on each side.
Apple has kept both the hardware and software proprietary,
whereas PC is “Open Source,” so third party suppliers can
participate, increasing competition which ultimately reduces
cost and increases availability of components.Also, because of
Open Source, many more software applications are available
for the IBM-PC than the Apple.
A second battle over the CPU (Central Processing Unit), the
brains of the computer, pits Intel against AMD and Motorola.
Again, competition favors the customer with perhaps Intel
having a slim lead in performance, but not price.
Video displays have evolved from TVs to CRTs (cathode
ray tubes), offered in either white, green or orange
characters, to high resolution LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays
aka Flat Screens). OLED displays (Organic Light Emitting
Diodes) are on the horizon with the promise of lower cost
and better features.
Internal memory in early computers cost $125 for 8KB.
Now, 4GB, which is 500,000 times larger, only costs a
fraction of that. Storage memory has evolved from punched
paper tape to magnetic tape to floppy disks in sizes of 8",
5" and 3.5". Now hard disk drives, flash drives, CD/DVD/
BlueRay burners, and Internet Cloud sites offer huge
storage capability at minimal cost.
So what is next? Probably a major breakthrough will occur
that we can neither predict nor even envision. There will be
many exciting PC developments ahead, so stay tuned.
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 16
*
Too Scared to Buy Anything Online?
By Lee Seidman, Vice President, Business Professional Microcomputer UG, CT, November
2011 issue, The Help Key, www.bpmug.org, [email protected]
This tells the consumer that this web site has been verified as
Lots of consumers find purchasing goods online intimidating;
news reports of identity theft, online piracy, and privacy who they say they are and that the connection is encrypted (we
concerns only deteriorates people’s confidence in buying things are no longer just “window shopping”).VeriSign and a handful of
on the Internet. Using free software tools combined with some other similar companies are the Internet’s certificate authorities
education and common sense is all one needs to build to become (CA), which substantiate the identities of companies on the web.
By viewing the certificate (which is how the web browser on your
a savvy and safe e-consumer.
The secure e-consumer first needs to recognize when a computer knows to trust the web site it is displaying), you can see
web site represents a reputable merchant. Using online its validity and when it expires. Once that certificate expires, your
reviews from epinions.com, bizrate.com, web browser will alert you that the site is no longer trusted as it
resellerratings.com, or even just a search on Google will once was (this should rarely happen with the big-name sites).
helponegaugeavendor’strustworthinessbasedontheexperiences Note that web sites that request any form of identification (like
of others. Peruse the commentary and read what people say and logging into a webmail, bank, or paystub account) or financial
howtheyratetheirtransactionswiththatsupplier;whatmayinitially transaction should use https:// and certificates.
be perceived as a negative review may be little more than someone
griping about something irrelevant or inconsequential (like it was
deliveredadaylaterthanexpected,whichmaybetheresponsibility
of the transporting service instead). If there appears to be a pattern
ofcomplaintsaboutaparticularvendor,itissensibletotakethatinto
account before ordering anything.
In the above example, we are “window shopping” on a popular
technology vendor web site called newegg.com. Note what the
address bar reads at the top: http://www.newegg.com.
This means the site offers no security presently; no sensitive
information is being exchanged at this time.
When we decide on an item to procure, most web sites (like
newegg.com) will request for the purchaser to sign in (some sites will
offer anopt-outareaforthis, but many do not). IFYOUCREATEAN
ACCOUNT ON THESE SITES, DO NOT USE THE SAME
PASSWORD AS YOU WOULD USE TO ACCESS YOUR EMAIL. Note the address bar has now changed to read https:// and a
lock appears in the browser as well (at least with Internet Explorer).
Clicking on that lock reveals information about the web site
and its security.
When it comes time to actually buy an item online, a credit card
offers the best peace of mind available. Most of the major credit
card companies offer “zero liability protection” for unauthorized
purchases (read the fine lines carefully, MasterCard states on its
web site that one’s account must be “in good standing,” the
consumer “exercised reason- able care in safeguarding” the card
from unauthorized use, and that there must not be more than two
unauthorized events reported in the past twelve months). While
the legal verbiage may present a chill, many issuers offer
temporarycreditcardnumbersspecificallyforuseonline(Citigroup
calls their “Virtual Credit Card” while Bank ofAmerica markets
it as “ShopSafe”). These temporary credit card numbers expire
quickly or have whatever transaction limit you wish to assign.
When it is time to purchase an item from an online merchant, open
another web browser, log into your credit card issuer’s web site,
and look for the section to open the tool for a virtual credit card.
This virtual card number appears and functions as an authentic
credit card to the vendor; its purpose is to keep its use limited to
that particular transaction and to keep your actual credit card
number a secret from that vendor. If the virtual credit card is
compromised by an unscrupulous third party, it is not as much of
an intrusion into one’s financial existence as if the actual credit
card number was used (there is no need to replace a credit card,
change accounts, etc.) Using this tool satisfies the card issuer’s
requirement for “exercising reasonable care in safeguarding” the
authentic credit number, limits the amount of uses it can be tried
(usually just once), and makes online shopping less frightening.
The web may present dangers, but using your savvy skills and
online tools should take the fear out of shopping!
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 17
*
Shut down, Sleep, Hibernate Which one, when and why?
By Phil Sorrentino, President, Sarasota PCUG, Florida, November 2011 issue, Sarasota PC
Monitor, www.spcug.org, [email protected]
Shut-down is pretty straight forward, it removes power Gigabytes typically available in modern PCs. This
from your computer and ensures that the next time the arrangement creates the best balance between speed of
power is turned on, the computer will go through the resuming operation, and lowest power usage.
normal “boot up” process. Sleep and Hibernate are different
Currently, Windows 7 defines three power-down modes:
and are “Powered Down” modes. The reason for using
• Sleep a power-saving state that allows a computer
one of these powered down modes will differ depending on
to quickly resume full-power operation (typically
the type of computer, desktop or laptop, and the need to
within several seconds) when you want to start
quickly get back to the operating mode after a pause in
working again. Putting your computer into the sleep
operation. Power usage, though always important, is mostly
state is like pausing a DVD player—the computer
a consideration when using a laptop. How much operating
immediately stops what it’s doing and is ready to start
time, before the batteries must be recharged, can be a big
again when you want to resume working.
consideration for a laptop user. It can determine how
•
Hibernate
a power-saving state designed primarily
useful the computer may be on a long flight, or how many
for
laptops.
While
sleep puts your work and settings
movies the kids can watch on a cross-country road trip.
in
memory
and
draws
a small amount of power,
Even with desktops, the increased cost of electricity can
Hibernation puts your open documents and programs
become a key factor for customers who are under pressure
on your hard disk, and then turns off your computer.
to manage their total cost of ownership (purchase price
Of all the power-saving states in Windows, hibernation
plus operating expenses).
uses the least amount of power. On a laptop, use
The hardware that makes up today’s laptops has gotten
hibernation when you know that you won’t use your
quite efficient and the Windows Operating System software’s
laptop for an extended period and won’t have an
ability to manage that hardware’s power usage has constantly
opportunity to charge the battery during that time.
been improved. One of the biggest improvements since the
• Hybrid Sleep is designed primarily for desktop
early 1990’s has been the addition of these power down
computers, is a combination of sleep and hibernate—
modes, to help provide longer battery life.
it puts any open documents and programs (the system
Improvements in battery technology has greatly increased
state) into memory and onto your hard disk (so nothing
battery capacity as well as battery lifetime. Besides
can be lost if power goes out), and then puts your
improvements in battery technology, the Operating System
computer into a low-power state so that you can
control over the hardware can also improve the battery
quickly resume your work.
life. A job for the Operating System is to make the system
That
way,
if a power failure occurs, Windows can restore
as efficient as possible while still maintaining an acceptable
user experience when turning the system on and off. (With your work from your hard disk. Normally, when the user
the advent of Solid State Devices, in place of disk drives, returns and “wakes” the machine, the system state is just
we will eventually get to a very fast on and off experience. restored from RAM, and the responsiveness to the user is
You can actually have it now, but it is very costly. By the fast. However, if for some reason power is lost (for
way, try a tablet PC and see how fast it turns on and off; example, if the PC is unplugged to move it - like you might
move your TV), the system can still resume from the
no moving parts in a tablet PC.)
The Windows 7 power management goals are simple: system state previously saved to disk with all context and
data intact. (When Hybrid Sleep is turned on, putting your
1) make turning a computer off/on as reliable, simple,
computer into sleep automatically puts your computer into
and fast as turning a TV off/on, and
Hybrid Sleep. Hybrid Sleep is typically turned on by default
2) maximize the battery usage if on battery, and reduce on desktop computers.) While Hybrid Sleep can be used on
the energy consumption if on A/C power.
a laptop computer, it isn’t as applicable. A desktop is
The first goal involves changing the model for what “off” vulnerable to power loss, while a laptop can, of course, run
and “on” really mean. By now, most everyone knows that on its internal battery.
turning a TV off doesn’t really turn it off. It is still available
So, although there is a lot going on to produce and provide
to receive the remote control signal, so that it can come the power down modes, there really isn’t much to think
back on quickly. To the degree possible, “off” is really about. For desktops, let it go into, or select, sleep (which
“sleep”, in Windows. When a PC goes into the sleep mode, should be hybrid sleep) and for laptops take advantage of
the system state is saved in RAM; part of that 2 or 3 hibernate (your battery will thank you).
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 18
*
Why Do I Care?
By Wil Wakely, President, Seniors Computer Group, CA, October 2011 issue, Bits and Bytes,
www.scgsd.org, [email protected]
Hard drives are so important to the computer that it helps
This article might be a bit “techy” for some of us, but it is
important to know a bit about what goes on inside of our to understand how they work:
computer so when something bad happens, we have a clue
Think of them like the old Juke-boxes – lots of LP records
as to what might be wrong, and we can save time and that each can be played with a moveable tone arm. The hard
money by not having to hire a high-priced technician to fix drive has hard metal platters, unlike old floppy disks which
a simple problem.
were flexible. They contain tiny magnetic spots which,
First, let’s review the hardware. The power supply depending upon how they are magnetized, indicate a one or
converts the house electricity, 110 Volts AC (alternating a zero, which is the binary language the computer
current), to the appropriate lower DC (direct current) understands. A moveable “head”, like the tone arm, “reads”
voltages that the rest of the computer requires. It contains the magnetic state of the spots, called magnetic domains,
a fan to keep it cool, which is about the only noise you and “writes” to change the magnetic polarity. Rather than a
should hear. There is one large printed circuit board inside spiral track like an LP, the hard drive has ever larger
called the “motherboard”, because it contains concentric circles called cylinder tracks. The platter is also
connections, or “slots”, where other smaller “daughter divided up into sectors like pieces of a pie. So to find a file,
boards” can be installed that do specialized functions. The the head moves to a specific cylinder track and sector and
motherboard is essentially the “head” of the computer and reads the data that is there. A large table of contents called
contains the major memory and connections for all of the a Partition Table contains the track/sector location of all the
other components. It has connectors for the keyboard, files. Obviously, if this table becomes corrupted, the files
mouse, hard drives, modem, video, sound, fan and USB cannot be located. Fortunately, a backup copy is automatically
devices. It also contains the CPU, Central Processing retained. However, if the hard drive dies, this backup copy
Unit, a large computer chip which is the genius that runs is useless. (Backup! Backup! Backup elsewhere!)
everything. The latest versions of the CPU can do over
While booting, the hard drive is recognized and a small area
three billion calculations per second, so it is really loafing at the front of it is defined as the MBR, Master Boot Record.
most of the time. It is truly multi-tasking which means that This contains enough information about the hard drive to
it can do a variety of things at the same time.
locate the OS (Operating System) like Windows and load it.
So here’s what happens when you first turn on your
The OS has its own sub-conscious memory called the
computer and it “boots”. Booting comes from Registry which contains a wealth of information about the
“bootstrapping”, or lifting oneself by his bootstraps. The computer and files. This now loads and can take quite a
computer needs to know some rudimentary facts about while if it is large. If this Registry file or the MBR gets
itself before it can come fully alive. This information is corrupted, it is a major problem.
retained in a computer chip on the motherboard called a
Fortunately, backup copies are automatically maintained.
ROM (Read-only Memory), which permanently retains (Backup! Backup! Backup!)
certain information without requiring any power. There is
Now we are almost home free. The next thing that
a small disk-type battery on the motherboard which allows
happens is to load the StartUp files. These are programs
this ROM to be read.
that start automatically when you turn on your computer. If
This battery also keeps the clock running while the there are a lot of these it can drastically slow down the boot
computer is off, so if the clock time begins acting strangely, time. You can see and change these Startups by typing “run
the battery may need to be replaced; however, it is usually msconfig” and clicking on the StartUp tab. Check or
good for years. This ROM contains the BIOS (bye-ose) uncheck the programs you desire. Keep these to a minimum
which stands for Basic Input Output System, and instructs for faster booting.
the computer where to find more information in order to
At this point Windows should be running and you are a
fully start up. A process called POST (Power On Self
happy camper to have full control. As you can see, lots of
Test) runs to test the memory and make sure the rest of the
things happen before you are allowed at the controls, and all
computer is healthy. It gives a series of Beep Codes to
it takes is a minor glitch in any of these booting processes for
indicate the state of health. One beep means everything is
your computer to fail to boot. It’s amazing that it works at all!
okay. A Google search of Beep Codes will tell you what’s
Frequent backups of your hard drives are the solution to
wrong if you get weird beeps while Booting. If you press
major
computer headaches. It is not a case of ‘if’ your
the Del(ete) key immediately after pressing the start
computer
crashes, it is ‘when’.
*
switch, a screen will show the BIOS settings, which can be
modified if necessary. Be careful!
Happy computing!
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 19
Make Your Computer Either
Stupid, Useless or a Zombie
By Vinny LaBash, Regular Columnist, Sarasota PCUG, Florida,
September 2011 issue, Sarasota Monitor, www.spcug.org,
[email protected]
it in Control Panel. Use it. You
There are many ways to make your computer useful won’t be sorry.
and reliable: add memory, buy more storage, and be
Store your backups on a
sure to purchase gear and peripherals from reliable
removable disk or flash drive.
vendors. Some people nevertheless, seem determined
An increasingly popular
to find ways to get into trouble. As a TV ad once
alternative is to store data
proclaimed, “We all do dumb things from time to time,”
online. Whatever you do, it’s
but making your computer useless doesn’t have to be
important to keep your backups at a location away
one of them.
from your computer to protect against theft of your
Inadvertently choosing a wrong key combination, system or natural disasters. To find the best method
clicking OK in an online dialog box designed to deceive for your personal needs there is no better place than
you into unknowingly downloading malware or your local computer user group. You will find centuries
unthinkingly doing something genuinely dumb are all of experience at your disposal.
preventable. They are easily avoided if only a small
Losing your data is no fun, but losing your entire
amount of premeditated thought and common sense
system can be much worse. No computer should
are applied.
operate unprotected from electrical surges. The best
Are you a “Nervous Newbie?” People new to form of protection is with an Uninterruptible Power
computers are often fearful of damaging their Supply (UPS). It is internally powered by a battery
equipment. Don’t worry! No matter what crazy that ensures a smooth flow of power even if an outage
combination of keystrokes you activate, the computer occurs. This gives you sufficient time for an orderly
will not explode. Short of throwing the thing off a shutdown to avoid not only loss of information, but
rooftop or beating it with a blunt instrument, it’s physical damage to the computer. Most surge
highly unlikely you could do anything to seriously suppressors are worse than useless because they give
affect your hardware.
you a false sense of security.
Instead, ask yourself, “What would happen if I lost
A surge suppressor can protect a system from a
all my data?” The answer will determine what kind of voltage spike usually at a cost of severe internal
backup plan you should implement. If all you do is surf damage to the surge suppressor. There is seldom any
the internet, fool around playing games, and spend visible sign of harm so it’s easy to assume you are still
time on a social network site, you don’t need much of protected when you are not. A high quality UPS
a backup plan. If you run a business that depends on provides far more safety.
data that must be constantly updated, losing it all may
Most of us like a genuine bargain, and a great
mean you will retire much earlier than you anticipated
temptation is to believe free is always better than
at a reduced standard of living. Your personal situation
merely inexpensive. There are many high quality
is probably somewhere between these two examples.
freeware programs, and many of dubious value. Some
Most people are at least vaguely aware that they freeware programs are so sloppily written they can
should back up their system, but never get around to cause your computer to behave erratically or come to
it because it’s too much trouble. System crashes a screeching halt. Even if you take care to research
and data loss occur for many reasons. Power surges, and install only the best of the best, too many installs
lightning strikes, hardware failures, software and uninstalls create useless entries in the registry. If
glitches, and user error are among the common not properly removed, these registry orphans can
causes of losing information.
create their own problems such as system slowdowns
Your data is the most important part of your system. and strange behavior. For good system performance,
You can always reinstall a program, but there is install only the programs you really need, and keep
nowhere you can go to buy a copy of your precious your installs and uninstalls to a minimum.
data. You must make a copy of your information, and
Terabyte sized hard drives have made fragmentation
a have recovery plan in place before disaster strikes. less of an issue than with smaller capacity disks, but it
You don’t have to buy a backup program. Windows 7 can still be a problem if you neglect it too long.
has a perfectly good one built-in. You can quickly find Fragmentation will become a non-issue when solid
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 20
state drives eventually replace standard hard disks.
Until that happy day arrives it makes sense to keep
your files neatly arranged so the mechanical parts of
your drive can take less time accessing programs and
information. Files become fragmented through editing
documents and other normal usage of computers
including surfing the web. Excessive fragmentation
forces your hard drive to perform extra work that
eventually noticeably slows down your computer.
Windows 7 has an excellent built in defrag tool that
you can access through the Systems Tools folder. The
tool runs on a schedule, but you can run it manually
anytime. The tool will defrag your system drive,
removable storage devices such as USB flash drives,
and almost any external storage device where you can
store and delete files. Disk Defragmenter runs on an
automated schedule, but you can also analyze and
defrag your disks and drives manually.
Even if you own a solid state drive that never needs
to be defragged, you can still run into trouble by letting
it get too full. If you find yourself with a drive that’s
using more than 90% of its capacity, applications can
suddenly exhibit very abnormal behavior. The system
has no place to put temporary files, and if a drive runs
out of room, it can simply stop leaving you wondering
what happened. An easy preventive is to use the Disk
Cleanup Tool once or twice a month.
Are you guilty of indiscriminate link clicking? We
all know about the danger of downloading
attachments that could cause havoc with our systems,
but do you click on hyperlinks embedded in emails?
This could take you to web sites having implanted
ActiveX controls designed to either damage your
equipment, spy on you to collect passwords or track
your activities to target you for personalized
advertising among other nefarious reasons.
Some hackers are eager to install back-door or
Trojan horses designed to allow them to control your
computer without you being aware of it. Your computer
could end up being a remotely controlled Zombie
soldier in an army of similar machines to launch
Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
Carelessly clicking on links could get you to very
inappropriate sites that feature pornography, pirated
videos, music or other kinds of software which could
cause you personal embarrassment and even your job.
People have been known to get in trouble with the law
when a simple mouse click brought them to a child
pornography site.
Think before you click. Bring your mouse pointer
over the link. Often this simple act will reveal the real
URL the link may be trying to disguise. If you aren’t
sure the link isn’t going to take you to
www.yourpcistoast.com don’t do it.
We’ve covered a fair amount of territory here, but
there is more danger lurking on the web than is
dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio. Choosing
weak passwords, surfing the web without a firewall,
failing to update anti-virus programs, and creating
shared folders that the wrong people can access are
among many additional dangers there simply isn’t
room for in this article.
Don’t conclude that the web is too dangerous a place
for you. The cautions mentioned here is the web equivalent
of telling people to stay away from crime-ridden
neighborhoods, and don’t step off the curb into oncoming
traffic without looking to see if it’s safe first. As always,
common sense is your first and best defense.
*
PowerPoint: Resize An Image
Resizing an image or object is a snap, and so is
returning that image to its original size. To resize an
object, simply click it once (to select it) and then click
and drag the Sizing Handle, which is the small circle or
square at the side or corner of the object. Dragging a
side will pull that side, while dragging a corner will pull
both of the nearest sides. To return the image to its
original size, click it and then click the Format tab
(which is only visible on the Ribbon once you’ve
selected or even double-clicked the image). Click Size,
click the menu button in the bottom corner, clear the
Lock Aspect Ratio box, and then click the Reset
button.
PowerPoint: Select Object
Selecting WordArt or another object in PowerPoint
2010 is a snap—most of the time: simply click the
object. If that doesn’t work, another object (on a
different layer) may be to blame. Objects are layered in
stacks and one of those objects is in your way. To
change the order of the stack, click whichever object
seems to be in the way and then click the Format tab
on the Ribbon. Find the Arrange group and then click
Bring Forward or Send Backward. If you’re having
trouble, click the Selection Pane, which is also in this
group. You’ll find that it’s a handy tool.
PowerPoint: Move WordArt
Moving WordArt is a snap—most of the time. To move
WordArt, click it once. It’s now selected. Drag it to the
location you’d like it to be, and then drop it. If you’d like
to move it only vertically or horizontally, press and hold
SHIFT while you drag it. You can also move the
WordArt at a slow pace (for precision) by pressing
CTRL and the arrow keys.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 21
LXDE
By Cal Esneault, President of the Cajun Clickers Computer Club, LA and leader of many
Open Source Workshops & SIGs, November 2011 issue, Cajun Clickers Computer News,
http://cccclinuxsig.pbwiki.com, www.clickers.org, [email protected]
The Linux OS (Operating System) permits users to select you want to have a less sophisticated system that runs on
from many front-end desktop environments (the interface older equipment with minimum software overhead, do a
software that controls mouse, touch screen, icons, etc.). fresh install of a dedicated LXDE distro.
Popular interfaces such as GNOME and KDE are powerful
but can require high system resources. LXDE (Lightweight
X11 Desktop Environment) is a simpler approach more
suitable for netbooks, mobile devices, or older PC’s. It is
designed to be faster, more energy efficient, and be a
better fit for the future of “cloud” computing. Since LXDE
open-source software is based on X-windows, the
commonly used system and network protocol that provides
the basis for graphical user interfaces (GUI’s), it can be
used with all the popular Linux and BSD distributions
(distro’s) – Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Debian, etc.
LXDE originated as PCMan in 2006 by Hong Jen Yee
with the file manager PCManFM as the first component.
For example, a Pentium II processor with 256 MB of
This community backed distro with OpenBox as the
ram that was used for Windows 98 could work, or a later
window mananger has risen rapidly in popularity.
In May 2011, Lubuntu (the Ubuntu derivative using 600 MHz Pentium III with 512 MB of ram should run well.
LXDE) was made an official Canonical distro and has Several major distro’s provide a wide choice for your
surpassed the KDE-based Kubuntu in active downloads. selection. For instance, the software provided by Lubuntu
On my system which has Ubuntu 11.04 as the main OS, I includes (among many others):
• GPicView (photo viewer)
downloaded the LXDE desktop (see screenshot below).
• Leafpad (text editor)
Note the traditional tree-and-branch menu system arising
from the bottom panel. This reminds me of the older KDE
• LXTerminal (command line access)
3.x family. There are no extra “widgets” or desktop panels
• OpenBox (window manager)
now common in current KDE 4.x releases. Also, there are
• PCManFM (file manager)
no side panels of “tiles” and pop-out icons present in the
Most
distro’s also have versions to work with their latest
newer Unity or Gnome 3.x desktops. LXDE has a simple,
versions.
For example, Lubuntu 11.10 will be offered as
clean interface which should be comfortable for traditional
one
of
the
versions to be released this October. Check all
users, such as those familiar with Windows XP.
this out at the LXDE.org website.
Below is a screenshot on my system using the PCManFM
file manager:
*
Macros
If you’re using a compact camera, you’ll likely be
limited to its onboard capabilities regarding
magnification and focusing at close distances. However,
many of them also have macro presets that let you get
as close as an inch away from your subject. Just be
sure to frame your shot using the display screen rather
than the optical viewfinder, if the camera has one. On
a compact model, the viewfinder sees things from a
slightly different perspective than the lens. When you’re
extremely close to your subject, a shot that looks
properly framed in the view-finder will end up shifted
over and down, perhaps cutting off part of the subject.
Since I also have Gnome 3.x and KDE 4.X programs on
my system, I have access to all of them through LXDE. If
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 22
Too Many Choices
By Wil Wakely, President, Seniors Computer Group, California, December 2011 issue, Bits and
Bytes, www.SCGsd.org, [email protected]
Choosing a computer used to be relatively easy: Do you want a the touch-screen eliminates much of the standard keyboard
desktop with a tower or a flat unit that fits under your monitor? activity. The availability of software for Tablets is growing rapidly,
This is no longer true. Now we have a plethora of choices: but there is nowhere near the number of titles available for the
Desktop, Laptop, Notebook, Tablet, Smart Phone, and smart e- computers described above. For casual use, Tablets are fine for
Book Reader. Perhaps I have missed a late comer; if so, forgive email, Web browsing, limited word processing and spreadsheet
work. Most Tablets are less expensive than Laptops, but often cost
me. Let’s review the features, pros and cons of each.
more than Notebooks. Tablets also have e-Book reading capability.
Desktop
They have no hard drive but Cloud storage via the Internet
For a fixed location, non-portable computer a Desktop is the best somewhat replaces this function. The iPad by Apple seems to be
choice. It is the least expensive computer and can be easily the leader in Tablets, but many competitors are coming on-line with
customized to whatever your computing needs might be. It is a similar features at lower prices.
necessity for gamers and heavy-duty computing such as photo
and video processing, CAD (computer-aided design), and data Smart Phone
processing. There are wide choices of software and hardware There are two major varieties of Smart Phones: iPhone and
which results in lower costs and greater availability of these items. Android. The iPhone is a proprietary operating system by Apple
Larger displays, multiple ones if desired, are available along with and is more expensive than other Smart Phones, but is claimed
specialty multi-function keyboards and a variety of mice, all of to be more user friendly. The Android phone is an “open source”
which can be easily attached. More powerful computer chips, operating system developed by Google and as such has many
memory chips, video processors, large, multiple hard drives and more Apps, (software applications). The major drawback to
powerful wireless adaptors are choices only available with these phones is the small display screen. They have touch
Desktops.
screens in lieu of a keyboard. However, they are cell phones,
The choice between proprietary brands such as Dell or HP vs. which none of the above are. They are also connected to the
a “plain vanilla” custom machine depends upon your budget and Internet for email and Web browsing and can play music and
video. The phones can be quite inexpensive because the
how much technical support you may need.
carriers. (Verizon, ATT, etc.) require signing a two year contract
Laptop
for the reduced cost. Breaking the contract early can be very
Portable laptop computers come in a variety of sizes, prices and expensive. There is a basic cost for the phone service and an
features. Many of the more expensive ones rival some Desktop equivalent monthly charge for Internet service. There also can
machines in capability. The display screens are smaller than be an additional service charge for data usage. Look for
Desktops and the keyboards with the integrated touchpad mouse unlimited data-use contracts, if available.
are not as user friendly as those on Desktops. Newer models have
Smart e-Book
built-in Wi-Fi for connection to the Internet, whereas older
models required a USB Wi-Fi adapter. Most Laptops have a built- Older e-Book readers were just that — monochrome digital
in video camera for video messaging with friends via Skype. For book readers, e.g., early models of the Amazon Kindle. Newer
equivalent features, Laptops are always more expensive than Readers such as theAmazon Fire and Barns & Noble Nook have
Desktops as are any repairs or upgrades. However, if portability full color touch screens with Wi-Fi along with their e-Book
of a powerful computer is a requirement, a Laptop is a good reader function. The Fire also has free Internet connectivity via
choice. An auxiliary USB external hard drive or large thumb drive Sprint. So the e-Books are now competing with the Tablets,
having similar features but with a display size intermediate
(flash drive) is useful for backup and storage for Laptops.
between Tablets and Smart Phones. Look for e-Book Readers
Notebook
to become even smarter in the near future.
The Notebook is just a smaller, lighter version of a Laptop with
So what’s next? I predict expanded speech recognition and
a smaller screen and keyboard. It is not recommended for generation will soon be incorporated in most computers, as an
heavy duty use, but is fine for travel and is less expensive than alternate to touch-screen, mouse and keyboard. A larger
Laptops, Tablets or Smart Phones. Most of the Laptop selection ofApps will become available as software programmers
features are also found in Notebooks. Some Notebooks come jump on this lucrative bandwagon. Faster Internet connections
with electronic memory instead of hard drives. This memory are already available in selected locations and will come to your
is faster and lighter, but holds much less data than hard drives. area soon. Look for LTE, 4G, 5G and even faster connections.
The Chrome by Google is a Notebook that utilizes the Cloud Better displays that don’t wash out in sunlight are being
for much of its power and capability.
developed and we should see them soon. Lower prices and
enhanced features due to competition favor the consumer and
Tablet
*
should happen very quickly. Decisions, decisions…
A Tablet has no external keyboard, but the screen is touch sensitive
so a virtual keyboard on the screen is provided instead. However,
Stay tuned!
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 23
Bluetooth –
Not a dental diagnosis or a rare tooth problem.
By Phil Sorrentino, President, Sarasota PCUG, Florida, October 2011 issue, Sarasota PC
Monitor, www.spcug.org, [email protected]
Bluetooth is the name given to a technology that uses
short-range radio links, and is intended to replace the in line of sight of each other. Bluetooth makes it possible
cable(s) connecting portable and/or fixed electronic for these devices to communicate with each other and
devices. The vision is that it will allow for the transfer information as long as they are in range.
Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are examples of wireless
replacement of the many propriety cables that connect
technology
that use the unlicensed 2.4GHz frequency
one device to another with one universal radio link. Its
spectrum.
Both
have many applications in today’s offices
boasts such key features as robustness, low complexity,
low power and low cost, and it was designed to be and homes such as: setting up networks, printing, connecting
cooperating devices, and transferring data files among
operated in noisy frequency environments.
Bluetooth is a communications standard for computers and smart devices. Wi-Fi is intended as a
interconnecting electronic devices and is defined by the replacement for cabling for general local area network
Bluetooth specification. Bluetooth uses a form of data access in work areas. Bluetooth is intended as a replacement
packet switching, a technology that is used to transmit for cabling among equipment in close proximity. Wi-Fi is
digital data via a wireless communications link. Bluetooth intended for use in equipment as a wireless local area
operates in the unlicensed ISM (Industrial, Scientific and network (WLAN). Bluetooth is intended for use as a
Medical) 2.4GHz frequency band, and avoids interference smaller, personal area network (PAN).
A PC uses a Bluetooth adapter in order to communicate
from other signals by hopping to a new frequency after
with
other Bluetooth devices. While some desktop
transmitting or receiving each packet. Here is a little
computers
and most recent laptops come with a built-in
history, for you tech history buffs, to show how long
Bluetooth has been around. Work on Bluetooth was Bluetooth adapter, others require an external adapter,
started in 1994 by two Ericsson Corporation engineers, usually in the form of a Bluetooth Dongle. Bluetooth allows
and the Bluetooth 1.0 specification was released May multiple devices to communicate with a computer over a
1998. Version 1.0, with a data rate less than 1 Mb/s, had single adapter. For Microsoft Windows platforms, Windows
many problems, and manufacturers had difficulty making XP Service Pack 2, Vista, and Windows 7 all have native
their products interoperable. Bluetooth 2.0 was released support for Bluetooth. (Previous versions required users to
November 2004 with a faster data transfer rate (approx. install their Bluetooth adapter’s own drivers, which were
2.1Mb/s). And finally, Bluetooth 3.0 was released April not directly supported by Microsoft.)
Some of the more common applications of Bluetooth are:
2009 with a date rate of up to 24Mb/s with improvements
and new features and is the current standard.
• Wireless control of and communications between a
mobile phone and a hands-free headset. This was
Bluetooth uses a radio technology called frequencyone of the earliest applications.
hopping spread spectrum which chops up the data being
sent and transmits chunks of it on up to 79 different
• Wireless communications with PC input and Output
frequencies. Bluetooth provides a way to connect and
devices, the most common being the mouse, keyboard
exchange information between devices such as
and printer.
Smartphones, laptops, personal computers, printers, Global
• Replacement of traditional wired serial
Positioning System (GPS) receivers, digital cameras, video
communications used in: test equipment, GPS
games, and others.
receivers, Medical equipment, bar code scanners,
Bluetooth is an open, wireless protocol for exchanging
and traffic control devices.
data over short distances between devices, creating a
• Between game consoles such as Nintendo’s Wii,
personal area network (PAN). It was originally conceived
and Sony’s Playstation and their respective
as a wireless alternative to the old serial RS-232 data
controllers.
cables. Bluetooth is a network and thus can connect many
• Between video camera and remote monitor in Baby
devices, unlike RS-232 which was strictly serial point-toMonitor Systems.
point. Bluetooth is primarily designed for low power
• Between Garage Door Opener Motor and Remote
consumption, with a short range. Three ranges are defined
Garage Door Opener Controller.
in the standard, 100 meters (Class 1), 10 meters (Class 2),
As
you
can see from this list, there are many reasons for
and 1 meter (Class 3). Because Bluetooth devices use
computer
devices to communicate with each other. Here
radio (broadcast) communications, they do not have to be
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 24
is a quick computer communications concept tutorial.
When any two devices need to communicate, they have to
agree on a number of things before the communication can
begin. The first point of agreement is physical: Will they
talk over wires, or through some form of wireless signals?
If they use wires, how many are required; one, two, eight,
25? Once the physical attributes are decided, additional
questions arise, such as how much data will be sent at a
time? For instance, serial ports send data 1 bit at a time,
whil-e parallel ports send several bits at once. And, how
will they speak to each other? All of the devices in an
electronic network need to know what the bits mean and
whether the message they receive is the same message
that was sent (i.e. checksums at the end of a message).
This means developing a set of commands and responses
commonly known as a Protocol. Bluetooth is essentially
a networking standard that defines these two levels,
physical and protocol. Bluetooth protocols simplify the
discovery and setup of services between devices. Before
any communications can take place between two Bluetooth
devices, they have to be paired. In order to pair two
Bluetooth wireless devices, a password (or PassKey) has
to be exchanged between the two devices. A Passkey is a
code shared by both Bluetooth devices, which proves that
both users have agreed to pair with each other.
A very brief description of Bluetooth pairing is as
follows: Bluetooth Device A looks for other Bluetooth
devices in the area. Bluetooth Device A finds
Bluetooth Device B. Bluetooth Device A prompts
you, the user, to enter a password (or PassKey).
Bluetooth Device A sends the Passkey to Bluetooth
Device B. Bluetooth Device B sends the Passkey
back to Bluetooth Device A. At this point, Bluetooth
Devices A and B are paired and able to exchange
data. Data between the devices will be accomplished
wirelessly, over-the-air, a great boon to those who
dislike the “rats nest” of wires typically found behind
electronic devices.
So, although dentists probably cringe when they
hear the term, with all the computer devices you may
have or are thinking of getting, there’s probably a
Bluetooth in your future.
*
USB 3.0 — The Super-Speed Bus
By Andrew Petrovic, Ottawa PC Users’ Group, Inc., Canada, February 2011 issue, PC News,
http://opcug.ca/public/index.htm, [email protected]
I thought that it would be a good idea to introduce to you a new This is the ‘B’-type connector often found on the
and upcoming development - the USB (Universal Serial Bus) USB peripheral:
version 3.0, as this technology will become mainstream in a
fairly short time.
USB version 1.0 was created in 1996, but was more widely
available in 1998 as version 1.1, superseded by version 2.0 in
2000. Over the next few years this will be replaced by version
3.0, already released and now being used by some consumers.
A quick overview of USB
The reason that USB was created all those years ago was in
order to provide an interface for computers and peripheral
devices that was easy to set up and use, as well as being lowpriced.Actually, the USB data protocols used are very complex,
but fortunately the USB controller chips take care of these
details, so users don’t have to be concerned. USB is designed
to be ‘Plug and Play’ without the user having to set up
parameters such as interrupt requests, addressing, etc. as well
as not having to reboot the computer after adding a peripheral.
In USB versions up to 2.0 there are only four wires that are
connected: power; ground; data - and data +.
This is the ‘A’-type connector usually found on a computer
interface or hub:
There are various other ‘mini’ and ‘micro’ connector types
as well.
When we talk about USB components, we call a
peripheral that plugs in to a computer port a ‘device’ and
the port and controller associated with the port on the
computer is called the ‘host’.
Each device has a ‘descriptor’. When a device is
connected to a computer, the descriptor tells the host what
kind of peripheral it is. From the product IDs it provides, the
computer then knows what type of driver to load for that
device. A driver is a small piece of software that interfaces
between a hardware device and the operating system.
Other information passed to the computer includes the
device’s power requirements; protocol settings; etc. When
a USB device is unplugged, the host instructs the operating
system to unload the driver for that device.
USB 3.0 cont. on page 26
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 25
USB 3.0 cont. from page 25
As far as the user is concerned, the most important
element of the upgrades to the USB technology is the
increasing speed of data transfer. The following table
shows the differences in data transfer speed between the
versions. The theoretical speed quoted by manufacturers
would, in reality, not be possible to achieve and is based
upon operations that include extra packet transfer
overheads, as well as a few other things. The real life
actual maximum speed is likely to be between 30% and
60% of the quoted theoretical speed.
Version 1.1 had two speeds, ‘Low’ and ‘Full’. Version
2.0 just bettered the 1.1 version ‘Full’ speed.
Take the USB 2.0 configuration and add another
entire set of connectors to it and call it ‘Super
speed’. This is how USB 3.0 has been created. The
original USB 2.0 wires are still in place and the USB
3.0 adds five more wires (two pairs of data wires
and a signal ground cable).
This is how the ‘A’-type looks (Female Receptacle), with pins 1 to 4 being identical to the
original USB 2.0 specification:
Cables and connectors are backwards compatible as well,
so you can plug in a USB 2.0 device to a USB 3.0 port you just won’t get any extra speed advantages because
only the USB 2.0 connectors will be used, though the
power pins are the same so more available current should
be available for USB 2.0 devices.
Note the difference between Mbps (Megabits per second)
and MBps (Megabytes per second). There are 8 bits in one
byte, so when comparing speeds take note of which
terminology you are using.
Limitations of USB 2.0
So if USB 3.0 is appearing on the market, it must be
because previous versions are not able to do the job.
Well, this is partly true. Version 2.0 will be able to be
used for quite a lot of devices for a while, but as
peripherals get faster and require faster interfaces, so
USB 3.0 will become more desirable to end users. The
sort of devices that are likely to require the faster data
transfer speeds are external USB disk drives and
components that deal with video.
It’s not just speed that is a limit. Each USB 2.0 host
port can provide up to 1/2 Amp (500 mA) of current to
power a device that does not have its own additional
power supply. Often this is simply not enough. Some
external disk drives may require up to 900 mA of startup
current and that is why they are often supplied with a
‘Y’ cable that plugs into two USB ports in order to feed
enough power (for those portable drives that don’t use
an external power supply).
USB 2.0 data only moves unidirectionally. In other
words, data can be sent to a device or from a device but
not both at the same time. This cuts down the overall
speed attainable.
Introducing USB 3.0
Whereas the upgrade from USB 1.1 to USB 2.0 used
the same connectors with the same four wires, the
upgrade from USB 2.0 to 3.0 is very much different.
How is USB 3.0 better?
Apart from being fully compatible with previous USB
versions, the faster data transfer is quite a dramatic
improvement for USB 3.0 compatible devices because of
a faster clock control speed; the use of asynchronous
signaling for simultaneous sending and receiving; and an
interrupt mechanism that does not use the time-consuming
polling that USB 2.0 used.
One area where USB 3.0 may fall down is with the
length of the cable that can be used. It could be limited to
3 meters if high throughput devices are used, as compared
to the 5 meter cables possible with USB 2.0.
The limitation could be overcome using USB hubs or
extenders and perhaps fiber-optic cabling might be possible
in the future.
Is it worth upgrading?
USB 2.0 will likely be around for the next few years
anyway, but in time newer computer motherboards will
provide USB 3.0 ports as standard.
If you want to try out the technology now, there are addon adapters available that plug in to a spare PCI-Express
slot on your PC and provide two or more USB ports. There
are also a few USB 3.0 external disk drives available, as
well as hard drive enclosures with USB 3.0 interfaces
where you can put in your own internal drive.
If you only have slow devices on your USB connections,
it’s no great advantage to upgrade. For example, keyboards
and mice only require the slowest USB version and will not
work any better on faster USB ports.
If you must have the faster transfer speeds for storage
or video devices, then you should consider some form of
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 26
upgrade. There are alternate interface types, such as
eSATA and FireWire, but they are a less common interface
type than USB and they also require a separate power line,
as well as not always being ‘hot-swappable’.
Other things that will benefit from the USB 3.0 interfaces
are card readers and connections from digital cameras,
when transferring pictures to the PC, though not when you
plug in the current ‘slower’ devices. USB 3.0 thumb drives
will be faster on a USB 3.0 interface but the current USB
2.0 thumb drives will be no faster on a USB 3.0 port.
Interestingly enough, USB 3.0 thumb drives will be faster
on existing USB 2.0 ports because the whole USB 3.0
flash drives had to be redesigned with faster chip access
in order to take advantage of the USB 3.0 port speed.
Later versions of Windows and Linux should natively
support USB 3.0 at some point. Windows XP will not, but
USB interface and peripheral manufacturers should be
able to supply suitable drivers for XP systems.
*
Evolving Technology
By Bill James, Editor / Webmaster, Computer Club of Oklahoma City, February 2012 issue,
eMonitor, www.ccokc.org, [email protected]
It’s fascinating to me to see how technology is evolving. confidence that you will gain by just trying to do it. It has
Who knew that our lives would be transformed so radically almost become habitual that I use my phone’s internet
in a scant 30 years? My first encounter with a PC was with connection to: Find directions to a place or business I have
some friends were early adopters buying Commodores, not visited before, using the phones built-in GPS, find out
Atari’s and later IBM PC Juniors for the kids. They how good the restaurant that I might visit is, or look up the
seemed to know that PC’s would be something that their latest information on a product that I plan on buying. I can
children should be acquainted with. As for me I could not do all of this on the spot and not wait until I get home.
put that vision into perspective. It wasn’t until years later
We all need a personal data assistant, a person (now a
that I could fully see the possibilities.
device) that can give you information at a moment notice.
When I got my first computer I tried to find tasks that I Your phone can now be that device. So give it a try, you will
could do with it. As I have heard some say the best way to be surprised what you can do.
become acquainted with your computer is to find a ‘killer’
The CCOKC has two Mobile Devices Study groups
application. It could be a game, a productivity project using (SIGs); several attendees are now proud owners of their
word processing, a spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation. very first smartphone.
It could be anything that requires a computer to complete
or possibly just a game such as Solitaire.
Outlook: Enable Instant Search
I see our CCOKC members coming to grips with the
Not using Instant Search to find old emails in Microsoft
evolution of technology. To some, it is overwhelming, to
Outlook Office 2010? You can enable it in seconds.
others it just a challenge. It was a challenge for me as well.
Click the File table and then click Options. When the
I have always enjoyed finding out how things work.
Outlook Options window appears, click the Search tab
Which brings me to my latest challenge and that is the
and then click Upgrade Search. You need to have
smartphone. I have a Motorola Bionic, an Android phone
Windows Search installed to use Instant Search.
that I have decided to make my laptop replacement. I am
(Outlook will display a message as it opens if you don’t
challenging myself to do as much as I can just using a
have it installed.)
phone. I have not allowed the screen size to cloud my
objective. I think of my phone as being the only device that
Outlook: Search Tools
I have to conduct my daily business whether it is doing my
You may have noticed that a Search Tools tab appears
banking, buying online, reading and sending emails etc. It
on the Ribbon in Microsoft Outlook 2010 when you
has sort of become a game, which is not only fun but a
enter a keyword in the Instant Search field. Use this tab
learning experience.
to add additional search criteria.
My only limitation to my experience is costs. I try to find
apps that are free and are capable of doing the task that I
Word: Add WordArt
want to do. Fortunately for me my data plan is unlimited so
WordArt is useful (when used sparingly) for making
I do not have the constraint of a limited data plan.
information stand out. To add WordArt, click the Insert
If you do not have an unlimited plan, you have to be
tab (on the Ribbon) and then find the Text group. Here,
aware of what type of data plan you have when you use
you’ll see a WordArt button. Click it and then select a
your phone for movies, music and TV. Don’t think in terms
style from the menu.
of why would you we want to do this, but think of doing it
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
because you can. It might be a onetime experience; the
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
application that you found maybe does not do what you
Computing can do for you and your user group!
thought it would do. But don’t let that deter you, think of the
*
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 27
Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 &
Premiere Elements 10
Reviewed by Clint Tinsley, Editor, Idaho PCUG, November 2011 issue, Bits and Pieces,
http://idahopcug.apcug.org/, [email protected]
tools from its elder brother. CS is a powerful photo editor and
Not a lot has changed since our last look at the
with power comes complexity. Elements is for the photo
Photoshop Elements Family, version 8, in
enthusiast, a consumer level product, where the focus is on
December 2009 and most of what we covered
ease of use. Elements 10 benefits greatly from its Photoshop
there is still accurate. What I will be covering
CS heritage.
here is what has been added since 2009 in
versions 9 and 10. The four major additions to
Quick Edit Workspace
Photoshop Elements since Version 8 are:
The graphic shows the Quick Edit workspace. As you can
1. Layer Mask Creation - You
see, there are sliders for each of the adjustments you can
no longer have to create
make here along with the “Auto” smart buttons where
them manually.
Elements 10 will make its best guess at the adjustment. If you
2. Content-Aware Healing Brush don’t like the Auto adjustment, you can undo the adjustment
Now you can really make objects
as well as reset all adjustments made here. On the left hand
disappear, fix old photos, and fix
side of the screen are tools for cropping, red eye, teeth
defects by filling with background
whitener, blue sky tool, and the Black & White High Contrast
that is created from the surrounding
tool for turning a selected area into a high contrast black &
area. This one feature alone is
white element. The High Contrast tool works by automatically
worth the price of Elements 10.
creating a layer mask on the photo and a function from Adobe
3. New in version 10, overlay guides
Photoshop CS to create the effect. Quick Edit provides an
have been added to aid you in
easy to use starting point for fixing your photos.
cropping your photos using the Rule
of Thirds and the Golden Ration.
Full Edit Workspace
These guides allow you to crop
Not a lot has changed here from previous versions. On the
your photos in such a way that the
left hand side of the work space, you fill
viewer is drawn away from the
find the many tools available to you.
center of the photo by offsetting
Note that many of the tools are actually
the primary focus of the photo
multi-function as indicated by the little
against the background. These
black pointer in the right bottom corner
guides are a welcome addition to
of each tool selection button. Also, on
Photoshop Elements.
the menu bar across the top are all the
4. Also in version 10 are new guided tasks which
different adjustments, filters, plug-ins
include the Michael Orton effect, better Depth of
and effects that Photoshop are known
Field adjustments using smart selection tools, and
for. On the right hand side are the
several other improved task oriented adjustments.
various panes such as layers and
I will cover these improvements in some detail as they are
histogram.
definitely valuable additions to the Photoshop Elements
family and are reason to consider upgrading to Version 10
Content-Aware Healing
from an earlier version if you are already a Photoshop
Brush
User. I will also comment on the improvements to the
This new feature of the Healing Brush was introduced in
Organizer and Adobe Elements Premiere.
Elements 9 and is used by selecting the “Content-Aware”
The Two Photoshops
Photoshop CS and Photoshop
Elements. Photoshop CS is Adobe’s
Premiere Professional Photo Editing
program and it comes at no small
price. Photoshop Elements is
sometimes referred to as its little
brother as it inherits features and
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 28
feature from the Brush
tool’s option bar shown
above. This feature
addresses a concern I have
had in removing an object
from a photo without leaving
artifacts behind where the
object was or having to do a
lot of touch up to make the
result acceptable.
An example: At the top of
the next column is a photo
of the author at Warm Lake,
Idaho. Next to it is the same
photo without the author in
it. If you did not know where
something was removed, it
would difficult to know that
this was not an original
untouched photo.
Guided Edit
Workspace
At left is a list of most of the
tasks that can be performed
using the Guided Tasks
features. Many of these are
an automation of features
found in Photoshop CS and
automatically create any
layers needed as well as
perform any adjustments
needed to achieve the
effect. In the full edit screen
shot (above) are the
resulting layers that were
created when I applied the
Lomo Camera Effect to my
Stanley Basin Photo. The Guided area is not new to
Elements but some new tasks were added that are worthy
of mention include the Crop Photo and the Orton Effect.
The Crop Photo function now provides overlays for Rule
of Thirds and the Golden Guide. These overlays are
composition tools that allow you to crop your photo in such
a way the viewer is drawn away from the center of the
photo by offsetting the primary focus of the photo against
the background. The Orton Effect is a dreamy photo
effect made popular by Michael Orton. http://
www.michaelorton photography.com/. The
key to effective use is just the right amount of blur and
brightness added to the photo using layers. Here is a flower
photo I took at Lake Cascade, Idaho, with the dreamy
Orton Effect applied and the layers it created.
New in Version 10 is a new feature in setting Depth of Field
that allows you to set the focus anywhere and on anything
in the picture where you want to maintain focus while
softening the focus on the rest of the photo.
An extensive set of Photomerge tools are included in
Guided Edit (See bottom of Guided Edits List). These tools
are useful for merging bracketed photos with Exposure to
create “HDR” photos as well as merging content from
various photos as well as recomposing photos, even painting
out objects in one photo that are not in the other photo.
Photomerge is also available from the File menu as a new
project including Panoramas. Style Match is where you
can apply Photomerge “Styles” to other photos.
For your creative side, Elements 10 adds 30 new smart
brush effects and filters along with a new Text on a Path
tool where you can surround an object with Text.
The Elements Organizer is a media management tool
shared between both Photoshop Elements and Premiere
Elements. Here is where you can manage all your photos
and video content with tools to tag and group your content
for easy access. Face and object recognition has been
added in the version. Face tagging photos for Facebook is
now provided. There are three new search options in the
Organizer all built around this recognition feature.
My photo collection stands at over 12,600 and I know I
have a lot of duplicates but the Duplicate Photo Search did
not produce usable results. The Visual and Object Search
can result in mismatches and poor results as well. The
Organizer Catalog only recognizes changes in content that
the Elements applications make including importing photos
and other media. If a folder or a file is renamed or modified
outside of Elements in using other applications, it is pretty
much lost to the Catalog and you have to rebuild the
Catalog from scratch. The organizer also provides the
ability to share content as shown in the graphic. Online
Video Sharing uses Premiere Elements 10 for uploading
Adobe PSE cont. on page 30
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 29
Adobe PSE cont. from page 29
content to YouTube. The Organizer can be a very powerful
tool in managing your photos and videos.
Elements 8 or 9, or another program that works well for
you, then you have to make a decision which is made
even more difficult if you already have Elements 9
which introduced the Content-Aware Healing Brush. In
any case, you have to decide if the cost is justified in
what is an increment upgrade.
Photoshop Premiere Elements 10
Premiere Elements 10 is the video editing side of Elements
Family which opens a world of creative sharing of both
photos and videos. It shares the all the new features found
in the new Elements Organizer for managing, sharing and
selecting the content to be used in your video production.
New Technology
Learning & Using Photoshop Elements 10
Given the popularity of Photoshop Elements as part of the
Adobe Family and heir to many tools in Photoshop CS,
there is a lot content available along with books to help you
learn and use Photoshop Elements 10. Hitting F1 from
within the program will bring up the 339 page user manual.
Installed with Photoshop Elements is the Inspiration
Browser where you can view videos and tutorials on how
to perform tasks. On the bottom task bar in Elements, you
will get little prompts like this:
Clicking on the prompt will start the Adobe Inspiration
Browser and take you to the content however there is a
small catch in using this resource. You must have an Adobe
ID to use it, the ID is free and you will have many
opportunities to create an Adobe ID. If you have a
membership in the Plus program, you will have 20 GB for
your photos on your personal photoshop.com gallery for
sharing your photos.
Shortly after Photoshop Elements 10 was released,
there were no less than 6 books available on Amazon
specific to using this version of Elements, a real testament
in that those books were written before the product was
released.
Photoshop Elements 10 Final Thoughts
There is no question that Photoshop Elements 10 is a
powerful tool for editing photos and getting creative
with your photos. But if you already have Photoshop
Premiere Elements 10 is a technology release with wider
support for more video formats including AVCHD disks. It
also takes advantage of new facial recognition technologies
in with its new Pan & Zoom tool feature where you can
also pan between objects within a photo as well as across
faces in a photo. You can easily import from a number of
different devices.
Premiere Elements 10 now provides full support for 64bit Microsoft® Windows® 7 with its own installation set of
files. The 64 bit version does not work on Vista which still
has to run the 32 bit version. Premiere Elements now
provides SmartSound tracks on the Mac.
Making Movies
Premiere Elements 10 is a very powerful video editing
system which can turn your photos into interesting movies
with menus and titles along with effects and template
driven Instant Movies. A new three-way color corrector in
Premiere Elements 10 makes it easy to enhance color
footage where it can automatically boost tone and vibrancy
without affecting skin tones, or you can use sliders to adjust
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 30
color with complete control. You can now make subtle
color corrections by adjusting colors in specific areas, such
as highlights, shadows, and mid-tones for perfect color
throughout your movie.
Premiere is a non-linear editing system meaning you can
add and remove content within a movie. It does not modify
your original photos and movies, all the changes to the
content made are made within the program. It provides
two editing modes, a Sceneline mode where it you can
easily drag and drop content in a very visual environment.
DVD, Blue-ray and AVHD disks as well as uploading to
Photoshop.com, Facebook, and YouTube. And then it
takes sharing to next level with its being able to export
video to a wider range of cell phones including Apple
devices, Smartphones, Mobile Phones, Pocket PC, plus
Audio Podcasts, and the Sony PSP device. For each
device, it supports different viewing formats and standards.
There is also an online organizer by which you can share
photos and movies between devices using iPhone and
Android apps.
Getting Help
The second mode is the rich Timeline mode where you
have the ability to have and edit multiple video and audio
tracks in addition to a Narration audio track and a Soundtrack.
Premiere Elements 10 continues to build on all the features it
is known for including green screen effects where you can fly
people and objects over other content and motion tracking.
Sharing Features
There are many sources of help
available to you in Premiere
Elements 10. There is a 331 page
Using Photoshop Elements 10
manual which you can download
at http://help.adobe.
com/en_US/premiere
elements/using/
premiereelements_
10_help.pdf. Adobe has a web
page at h t t p : / / w w w .
adobe.com/support/premiereelements/
gettingstarted/index.html where you can view
a number of videos and web based tutorial pages. From the
opening splash screen are links for Getting Started,
Community Help, Tips, Tricks & Tutorials, Adobe TV and
their Forums.
System Requirements
•
•
Premiere Elements 10 really shines when it comes to
sharing in being able to create and burn a wide range of
2GHz or faster processor with SSE2 support; dualcore processor required for HDV or AVCHD editing
and Blu-ray or AVCHD export.
Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2,
Windows Media Center, Windows Vista® (all
applications run native on 32-bit operating systems
and in 32-bit compatibility mode on 64-bit operating
systems), or Windows 7 (Adobe Premiere Elements
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 31
Adobe PSE cont. on page 32
Adobe PSE cont. from page 31
•
•
•
Editor runs native on 32-bit and 64-bit operating
systems; all other applications run native on 32-bit
operating systems and in 32-bit compatibility mode
on 64-bit operating systems).
Color monitor with 16-bit color video card.
Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and
display driver.
Windows Media Player (required if importing/
exporting Windows Media formats).
move Premiere Elements (as well as Photoshop Elements)
10 to the big screen to capture some of my screen shots.
As with Photoshop Elements 10, this is an incremental
release, a technology release as I referred to it; There are
some new technology and features that make it a worthy
upgrade, particularly if you your current video editor
doesn’t support the latest video formats or makes it
painful in exporting your content to your cell phone. Being
able to burn Blue-ray content to DVD disks is a definite
plus in creating High Definition content.
*
Usage Thoughts
There is a lot of technology in Premiere Elements 10 and
powerful features means that powerful computing
platforms are needed. Even on the fastest computers,
you may find yourself waiting on sluggish controls and
processing time. Another complaint is that Adobe has not
made this product laptop friendly; you have to a bit of
scrolling at times to get to choices and controls. I had to
Flickr: A look inside the photostream
By Larry Klees, member, Orange County PC Users’ Group, CA, October issue, nibbles & bits,
www.orcopug.org, [email protected]
Once upon a time there were only a few photographers in groups. You can also upload new photos to your own
an entire city. Today, thanks to advances in digital photostream or organize other aspects of your account.
photography, there are only a few people in an entire city
Flickr can be a little overwhelming at first but you will soon
who are not photographers. When you factor in the learn your way around. Flickr honors copyrights, doesn’t sell
internet; millions of photos fly around the world every your information, lets you control access to your photos, and
second with the aid of numerous applications.
offers many other security features. Many people like the
One of these applications that I personally like is called free accounts. Many more like the extra benefits of the pro
Flickr. Anyone with internet access can have a free Flickr account for about $25 per year.
account. A Flickr account is based on a thing called a
“photostream.” Photographs and short videos can be
uploaded to this photostream which can be used like a
personal photo album. The photos can be left in the order
they are uploaded or they can be organized into sets like
“Christmas 2010,” “fireworks,” “black sheep of the family,”
etc. These can be viewed and, if you like, downloaded or
commented on by contacts, friends, and family members.
Flickr allows you to place anybody in those categories and
you can allow each category different access privileges to
each individual photograph.
You can join special interest groups like “Bugs” or
“Macro Photography” or “San Francisco,” etc. If you
don’t see a group you like, you can even start a group of
your own. You can use all manner of search criteria to find
photos in your photostream or elsewhere on Flickr.
When you log on to Flickr you are sent to a Home/
Welcome page. This page gives you a quick summary of
what has happened since your last log on. From this page
you can monitor views of or comments others have left on
your own photos; or you can take a quick look at the new
things from your contacts, friends, family members, or
*
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 32
Streaming Video Presentation
by Mike Kaltschnee
Meeting review by Richard Corzo, President, Danbury Computer Society, CT, November
2011 issue, DACS.org, www.dacs.org, [email protected]
Perhaps you’ve heard of people “cutting the cord,” getting
rid of their cable or satellite TV subscription, and relying on
the Internet to watch television programming. Maybe You
just want to catch up on episodes that you may have
missed, or be able to watch Movies that aren’t available
from your cable or satellite provider.
Mike Kaltschnee explained
the options, both services and
devices you can hook up to
your TV. He is well known
for his web site w w w .
HackingNetflix.com. So of course he mentioned
Netflix, which has both a video streaming service and
DVD rental by-mail service. The streaming service seems
to be available on every TV, Blu-ray player, and game
console; along with all the streaming devices he showed
us, and a Windows PC or Mac.
Hulu and Hulu Plus is another
service featuring mostly TV
programs, and come in both free
and paid versions. Amazon offers streaming through its
Amazon Prime offering, as well as a huge selection of
video on demand titles. HBO Go is available only to HBO
cable subscribers, but lets you watch shows on portable
devices and selected set-top boxes.
Blockbuster is similar to Netflix in
offering both streaming and DVDs by
mail. However, the streaming option
for now requires a Dish satellite
subscription. You can select from the
various options based on the service’s
selection of titles, price, how often you
watch, and what devices they support.
To find where particular titles may be offered, Mike
mentioned TV Guide (http://www.tvguide.com/),
Fanhattan (http://www.fanhattan.com/) which
has an iPad application and will soon offer a website guide,
and clicker (http://www.clicker.com), the “Internet
Television Guide.”
To watch Internet TV on your
television, you could hook up your
Windows PC or Mac with an HDMI or
VGA cable, or use your game console.
Your TV itself or Blu-ray player may
offer some of these services. You might
also want to watch TV on your portable
devices, phone, iPad, etc.
Finally, there are dedicated streaming boxes such as
the Roku, Boxee, Apple TV and Google TV. A TiVo
combines a DVR with an offering of Netflix, Hulu
Plus, Amazon Video on Demand, and Blockbuster.
The Sony Dash was an interesting device I wasn’t
familiar with, and has a built-in screen. So there are a
lot of options, and we’re no longer limited to cable or
satellite TV.
*
Compelling Video
Video shot from a distance, such as at a child’s soccer
game or school play, is more compelling if you can use
the camcorder’s optical zoom to single your subject out
of a large group. With an optical zoom capability of 20X or
30X, you could make the subject appear 20 or 30 times
larger than the digital camcorders standard focal length
(not using the zoom at all). Don’t pay attention to a
camcorder’s digital zoom capability as much as optical
zoom when you shop. Digital zoom magnifies the pixels
in an image and can result in shaky and fuzzy video that’s
distracting to watch; it’s best to avoid using it altogether.
Eliminate Shaky Video
You can reduce shaky video by purchasing a digital
camcorder with optical image stabilization or by placing
the camera on a tripod. Optical image stabilization uses
gyroscopic technology to compensate for high-frequency
vibration, and it is especially useful to steady your video
in situations where a tripod would either be too cumbersome
or take up too much space. Digital image stabilization
also helps you shoot smooth video, but it can degrade
your recording quality because it shifts the pixels in an
image to compensate for shaky video.
Move Your A/V Equipment
Why pay for boxes to move your A/V or computing
equipment, especially when you may need to pad the
insides to fit their contents? Keep all your original boxes
and any packing material, too. If you need to move items,
use the material and boxes to repack your equipment and
their manuals. Set all connectors aside and pack them
separately. Package all your media of the same type
together and label each box clearly. Be sure to mark them
all as heat sensitive.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 33
Offering Financial Services throughout the
Napa Valley; with offices in American
Canyon, Calistoga,
Napa, St. Helena
and Yountville
947 Lincoln Avenue
Napa, CA 94559-5066
800-869-3557 www.wellsfargo.com
(707) 299-1000
www.napanet.net • [email protected]
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Membership Application/Renewal *
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Please Print
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which is for the exclusive use of NVPCUG members, check the appropriate box(es):

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Family members whom you want to sponsor as Associate Members:
(Associate Members have the same membership rights as their sponsors,
except for receiving newsletters)
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Annual Dues:
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Regular Member - an individual who is not a full-time student
 $20
Student Member - a full-time student who is not eligible for Associate membership.
 $10
Associate Member - a family member of a Regular or Student member. Associate memberships run concurrently
with sponsors’ memberships.
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:
[email protected]
NVPCUG Computer News, Mar 2012, Page 34
Revised 2-14-2010
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