Computer News Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group

Computer News Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Computer News
March 2005
Volume 22, Issue 3
Inside This Issue:
President’s Message
Officers List
Cyber Security in 2005?
A Scary Future
Tech News
Spyware Makers’ Threats
Making Moving Oainless
Hackers and Crackers
Member Application
Random Acts of Literacy
The Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group has
served novice and experienced
computer users since 1983.
Through its monthly meetings,
newsletters, on-line forum, special interest groups, mentor
program and community involvement, it has helped educate people of all ages. The
NVPCUG provides opportunities for people to find friends
who share common interests
and experiences. Through its
Computers-to-Schools program, members refurbish used
computer equipment for donation to local schools. Since
January 2003 the NVPCUG
has donated more than 247
computers and 102 printers.
Using Tables and Columns in Microsoft Word
to Be Discussed at March 16 NVPCUG Meeting
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, March
16, 2005, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson
Street, Napa, California.
Our March general meeting will be structured differently than
usual. It will consist of only two of our regular meeting segments:
Random Access, an open-floor question-and-answer period, and
Computer Tutor, a session in which you can learn how to accomplish specific tasks. Each of these segments will be longer than usual,
allowing more time for discussion.
In the Computer Tutor session, Michael Moore will continue his
series of presentations on Microsoft Word special features by discussing the creation and use of tables and columns in documents. Tables
Michael Moore
allow you to organize information in rows and columns of cells, making data easier to read and showing relationships and trends that cannot be expressed
in text. Also, tables are very useful for creating data entry forms. Columns allow you
to set up multicolumn page layouts and to control text flow, such as for newsletters,
glossaries, and inventory lists. Both features, which are also available in other word
processing products, can greatly enhance your presentation of information and the appearance of your documents
Mike is a Computer Studies instructor at Napa Valley College, where he teaches
Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access courses. Prior to teaching, Mike had a varied and
long career in industrial computer system design, until he retired early from Westinghouse as the president of one of its high-technology subsidiaries. He is also the
NVPCUG’s Computer Tutor Coordinator.
During the Random Access period, which will precede the Computer Tutor session, you can ask questions about specific issues you have encountered in using computers and computer-related products and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees. Questions may be submitted in advance of our meeting by e-mailing
them to Random Access Moderator Jerry Brown at [email protected]
Need practical information that will enable you to make better use of your
computer? Come to this free meeting! Guests are always welcome.
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 1
President=s Message C
Sound Off!
Support: Giving It Gets It
Got a suggestion for improving an
NVPCUG activity? Want to help
with an activity? Send e-mail to
[email protected] or call (707)
by Orion E. Hill
Volunteers Still Needed!
We still need volunteers to serve as Vice President, Programs Director, and Special Projects Director.
I=m sorry that I have to call again for volunteers, but it is
necessary. Our group=s program is suffering because the
duties of those key positions, which have been vacant
since December, are not being adequately performed. Our
current officers (especially your president) are overburdened trying to handle additional tasks. If you value our
group=s program, want to continue to enjoy its benefits,
and would like to join a winning team and have some fun,
now is the time to step forward.
The responsibilities of each of these positions are
not as daunting as they may appear. For Program Director, for example, lots of support materials are available and
presenters can be readily identified by checking the Web
sites of other computer users groups, especially those in
Northern California, as well as those of computer product
companies. We just need someone interested in arranging
presentations for our meetings who can devote a few hours
each month to that activity. And we need one or more volunteers to assist the Program Director in performing his or
her duties, perhaps by surveying Web sites or preparing
presentation announcements.
Special interest groups are composed of people
who share a specific interest and want to meet regularly to
learn about a subject in greater detail than feasible at
NVPCUG general meetings. At a typical SIG meeting,
ample time is available for discussing issues, answering
questions, sharing tips, researching issues on the Internet,
and exploring computer applications, services, and equipment. Guest experts may be invited for special discussions
and presentations at some meetings. SIGs form, dissolve,
and schedule meetings in keeping with the changing needs
of their members. SIG membership is open to everyone.
Currently the NVPCUG has two SIGs. Their
meeting locations frequently change. For current meeting
location information, check our Web site,, or contact the SIG leaders.
We also still need volunteers to assist our Membership and Publicity directors, help our Facility Arrangements and Greeter coordinators, and write reviews of our
monthly meeting presentations for publication in our
newsletters. To volunteer, please contact me.
Investments SIG
Meets: Second Monday of each month
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
Special Activity Development Currently On-hold
Digital Photography SIG
Meets: Second Wednesday of each month
7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Leader: Hilton Des Roches
(707) 224-6170
Pending more help with existing activities, two
special activities under development have been put onhold: the members discount purchasing program that
was being arranged with several computer-related product
vendors and service providers, including CompUSA, and
the proposed computer tune-up workshops I wrote about
last month. Also, member identification cards required for
participation in the discount purchasing program will not
be issued until that program is again underway. If you
would like to help establish either of these activities, however, please let me know. I=m most eager to see both of
these activities go forward.
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 2
by James Stirling , Editor
When you look over the articles
in this issue of Computer News,
you will find a slightly different
mix from before. These articles,
drawn for the most part from other
publications, point out the dangers
faced by the unwary who don't use
anti-spyware and spam filters, and
give practical guidance for avoiding trouble. In this cat-and-mouse
game, the spyware and spam producers are pitted against the "good
guys" who try to set up screens to
obstruct the sneaky attacks and
inform computer users about who
is "after them." However, some
insidious trends are compromising
the interests of the "end users."
Linda Gonse, in her piece on
"Sounding the Alarm," reveals that
some spyware producers are striking deals with anti-spyware makers and advocates to loosen the
screens and relabel the bad guys as
good. In a somewhat humorous
vein (if you like gallows humor),
an anonymous wit writing about
"A Scary Future" has envisioned
the hopeless condition we may
face when the most intimate details of our lives become public
records, all for “national security.”
For those who have wondered
about the new Internet phone systems (VoIP), Dr. Brian Lewis
gives an illuminating account of
how the new systems work and
where to find the best providers.
Scattered through the pages are
numerous tips to make your com-
puter more enjoyable, or at least
less frustrating.
Sherry Zorzi tells of the interesting new practice called
"bookcrossing," involving the use
of actual printed books that people
read and enjoy, then give away or
leave in places where others can
pick them up. Then the original
owners can follow the travels of
their books through messages
posted on the Internet at How much more
interesting than keeping the old
book on your dusty bookcase
If you find something here that
strikes a responsive or discordant
chord, send a letter to the editor so
others will know how you feel, or
how you know better. We're always glad to hear from you. JS
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2005
Board of Directors
Vice President
Orion E. Hill
(Volunteer Needed)
Julie Jerome
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Other Directors:
Dianne Prior, John Simcoe, James Stirling
Appointed Officers
Computer Recycling
Bill Wheadon
Computer Tutor
Mike Moore
Orion E. Hill
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Steve Siegrist
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman
Marcia Waddell
Membership Director
Dianne Prior
Mentor Program
Hilton Des Roches
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
Newsletter Editor
James Stirling
Product Review Coord.
Marcia Waddell
Programs Director
(Volunteer Needed)
Publicity Director
John Simcoe
Random Access Moderator Jerry Brown
Special Projects Director (Volunteer Needed)
Ron Dack
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Computer News (ISS 0897-5744) is published monthly by the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O. Box 2866,
Napa, CA 94558-0286. Subscriptions: $30 for one year (12 issues ). Editor: James Stirling, [email protected] The material in Computer News
is intended for noncommercial purposes and may not be reproduced without prior written permission, except that permission for reproducing
articles, with authors properly credited, is granted to other computer user groups for their internal, nonprofit use only. The information in this
newsletter is believed to be correct. However, the NVPCUG cannot assume responsibility for errors or omissions nor liability for any damages
resulting from the use or misuse of any information. The NVPCUG is a nonprofit IRC 501(c)(3) tax-exempt 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 tax deductible. Copyright © 2005 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 3
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
By Brian K. Lewis, Ph.D., Member of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc.
A re you using the Internet for your
local and/or long distance service? If not, then maybe you need to
read this article to find out how
some computer users are saving
“mucho dinero” on their telephone
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. There are ways to use
the Internet for free phone calls, low
cost phone calls (2¢ per minute) or a
monthly fixed rate for both local
and long-distance calls. So how is it
possible to transmit your voice over
your Internet connection? We’ll
look at some of the technical aspects
first. Then I can discuss some of the
services that are available for you to
check out further.
When you use your telephone
your voice is converted into electrical impulses and transmitted over
copper wires to another phone.
There it is converted back to sound
waves. These impulses are transmitted via several switches in the telephone network. This system is referred to as the Public Switched
Telephone Network (PSTN). As
long as you are talking on the phone
you have a constant circuit connection between the two phones. In the
original PSTN system, all calls required a dedicated wire for each
call. For the period of time you were
on the phone you “owned” a copper
wire connection between your
phone and the other party. In today’s PSTN, all calls are digitized
and can be combined with thousands of others running over fiber
optic cable between central stations.
However, the connection between
the two phones must remain open
for the length of the call.
When computer data is transmitted over phone lines or cable, it is
also in digital form. However, the
data is sent in packets and does not
require a dedicated pathway to reach
its destination. In fact, when a computer sends a stream of data packets,
they may all arrive at their destination after traveling different routes.
There are thousands of possible
paths between any origin and any
destination. In addition, packets
from other origins can use any time
spaces between your packets. This
is a more efficient system, as a circuit does not need to be kept open.
This system is referred to as packet
So if your e-mail is being
chopped up into small packets, how
does the system know what to do
with them? Each packet contains an
address that tells the router what its
final destination is. The sending
computer sends the packet off to a
router and then goes on to its next
operation. The router selects a path
to another router and sends the
packet off. This process continues to
the destination computer. At the
destination, the receiving computer
assembles the packets based on the
information contained in each
So what does this have to do
with Internet phones? Very simple.
VoIP uses the packet switching
technology to transmit your call.
The digitization of your voice oc-
curs either through your sound card
or a device known as an analog telephone adapter (ATA). There are
also Internet phones which connect
directly to a network router and handle the conversion process. The
voice packets that result from these
various adapters are routed over the
Internet in the same way as data
packets. When you make a phone
call, there is always dead space
when no one is talking. With the
packet system, other data packets
from other sources are being transmitted over the Internet, making
maximum use of its capacity.
In the early days of VoIP sound,
quality was poor and the method of
operation more like using a walkietalkie. Today’s equipment is vastly
improved. Sound quality on many
VoIP systems is the equivalent of
that found in the PSTN. Depending
on the system you are using, you
can dial any number and your call
will be routed over the Internet. In
such a system, you and the party
you called won’t see any difference
in operation or sound from that of
the PSTN.
So why would you be interested
in using an Internet phone instead of
your current local/long distance
PSTN service? One big factor for
many people is cost. The cost of
Internet service ranges from free to
$25/month (more in some cases) for
unlimited calls. In addition, many of
the VoIP services offer features that
cost you extra through your local
company. It is not unusual for a
VoIP provider to include caller ID,
NVPCUG Calendar
Wednesdays 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Computers-to-Schools work parties. To volunteer contact Orion Hill.
March 2 7:00 p.m.
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
March 9 7:00 p.m.
Digital Photography SIG, Piner’s Nursing Home, Napa
March 14 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Investment SIG, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
March 16 7:00-9:00 p.m.
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
June 3 & 4
9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. NVPCUG Used Computer Equipment Sale (location to be announced)
June 10 & 11 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Napa County Computers & Electronics Recycling Event, Napa Valley College
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 4
Call waiting, Call transfer, Call forwarding, voicemail and three-way
calling as part of the basic price.
Now let’s look at some of the
providers and their services. Skype
( offers a free service that allows you to connect to
other Skype users. The software for
this can be downloaded from their
Web site. It took just a few minutes
to install it on my computer. Once
you have installed it, you need to
setup a call list of other users. So you
have to contact people you call frequently and have them install the
Skype software. From that point on,
it becomes much like instant messaging. If the person you are calling is
on-line, you can connect and talk to
them. Otherwise, they have no way
to know that you are calling. The
reverse is also true if they want to
call you. The minimum hardware
you need for this are speakers connected to your sound card and a microphone. You can also use a headset
with a built-in microphone. It is also
advisable that you have a broadband
connection, either cable or DSL. In
my testing of it, once I had a connection, the call was quite clear, with no
background static or other problems.
So what do you do if you have
Skype and want to call someone who
doesn’t have Skype? You can get
SkypeOut, which allows you to call
any phone number anywhere in the
world for about 2¢/minute. After you
install the SkypeOut software you
buy credit on their Internet site
which you can then use for your
calls. Some reviewers have had
sound problems with SkypeOut. I
have not tested it.
There are other free services
available as well. One is Free World
Dialup (
This is a quote from their Web site:
“FWD allows you to make free
phone calls using any broadband
connection using devices that follow
Internet standards. This can be a
'regular' telephone connected to a
packetizer, an IP Phone or any number of free soft-phones (software for
your PC or PDA).” In order to use
the system you need to download
and install the software. Then you
obtain a phone number from FWD.
The hardware you need is a SIP
compatible ATA adapter that you
connect to a network router that connects to your modem. You can then
connect any telephone to the jack in
the ATA adapter. Now you’re ready
to dial any FWD user anywhere in
the world. However, you can not dial
a regular PSTN phone from this system without purchasing time from
another VoIP provider. The advantage of FWD over Skype is that your
computer doesn’t have to be on to
receive calls. Your phone will ring
just as it did when connected to the
PSTN phone system.
There is another advantage to
FWD. This system uses the Session
Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard.
This allows FWD users to call others
who are not members of FWD but
are connected by a different SIP
compatible service. Other free services currently using the SIP standard are and Skype does not adhere
to the SIP standard.
Now we get to the services that
charge a monthly fee. These providers furnish a SIP-compatible ATA
adapter, and in some instances the
router for your telephone connection.
This list includes companies like
AT&T (CallVantage), Verizon
(VoiceWing), Packet8, VoicePulse
and Vonage. Of these, AT&T and
Verizon are the most expensive. Several of these providers are preparing
wireless units that will allow you to
connect through any WiFi hotspot.
Vonage has announced that they expect to have a wireless unit available
by mid-summer 2005. That means
you could make and receive calls
while you are on the road. Also, by
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 5
taking your ATA adapter with you
when you travel, you can make connections through broadband data
ports in many hotels and motels.
Of these providers, Vonage has
been in the game longest and has a
strong reputation for quality. They
have two basic plans: (1) $24.99 for
unlimited calling in the U.S. and
Canada, and (2) $14.99 for 500 longdistance minutes. They also offer
virtual phone numbers with any area
code you prefer. Dialing other numbers in your area code requires just
seven digits. You can add a fax line
for $10 per month or toll-free numbers for $5 per month. With Vonage
and these other providers, you can
call any PSTN number or numbers
on the FWD network. For more details on the specific services provided by these companies I would
suggest you check their Web sites.
So what are the drawbacks to
VoIP services? First, if your Internet
provider has a service outage, then
your phone service is also down.
Second, if there is a power outage
you lose your phone service, unless
your system has a battery backup to
keep it running. Another disadvantage is that most of these services
can’t connect to 911. In some cases,
you can call 911 after you have provided the service with location information for their files. They need this
information so the system will know
where to direct the call. However,
the 911 operator can’t see your name
or address and you have to provide
that information when you make the
In spite of these disadvantages,
VoIP usage is rapidly increasing. If
you are interested in testing VoIP, I
suggest you start with one of the free
services. Try it, you may like it.
The Editorial Committee of the
Association of Computer User
Groups brings this article to you.
Ignore The Bait--Don’t Get Hooked By Phishing Scams
by Tracy Baker, from Smart Computing
ou’ve become accustomed to
deleting ridiculous Nigerian
money scams and all those spam messages promising to help you lose 50
pounds in five days, but this message
looks different; it has the eBay logo
and uses the same fonts as eBay’s
site. It contains links to eBay pages
and is professionally written. It’s telling you your account has been associated with fraudulent activity and is
about to be suspended unless you can
provide some personal details to
prove that everything is on the up and
As official as an e-mail like this
looks, don’t take the bait. Millions of
consumers rely on the Internet to
shop, pay bills, and manage their financial accounts, and a new generation of scam artists is using a combination of social engineering and technological savvy to bilk unwary consumers out of their money or steal
their identities. This practice is called
‘phishing” (short for password harvesting fishing), and although the
techniques used in this type of scam
are timeless, the Internet has provided
phishers with a vast ocean in which
they can cast their nets.
Phishing e-mails differ in their
specifics, but they all share a few
common traits. First, they appear to
come from a legitimate company, using the same graphics you’d expect to
see at that company’s site. Second,
they try to create a sense of urgency,
telling recipients that their accounts
are about to be suspended or are otherwise experiencing major problems.
Third, these e-mails contain forms or
links to forms where users are supposed to enter personal information,
such as an account password or a
credit card number. Once you enter
the data in the form and click Submit,
it is sent to the scammer’s computer
and he can use it to steal from you.
Phishing scam artists consistently
come up with ever-more-elaborate
schemes to ply their illegal trade; but
by following a few simple rules, you
can play detective and catch them in
the act instead of becoming their next
Rule #1: Pay Attention To URLs
URLs (uniform resource locators )
are the characters you enter in a
browser’s address bar to visit a particular site, and a favorite trick among
phishing scammers is to make users
think they are going to one URL
when they really are visiting another
URLs can tell you a lot about the
site you are visiting. The URL for our
Web site, for example, is http:// The
“.com” portion is the top-level domain
(also called the domain extension),
telling you what type of site it is. For
example, “.com” is mainly used for
commercial Web sites, whereas
“.edu” is for educational institutions
and “.org” is for nonprofit organizations. The companies most commonly
targeted by phishing scammers use
“.com” top-level domains, so if you
see a URL such as http:// or “http://” linked to a spam
e-mail, it’s likely a site set up by a
scam artist.
The most important part of the
URL, as far as detecting a phishing
site is concerned, is the domain name,
which is the text to the left of the toplevel domain (such as
“smartcomputing” in our example).
All content at the Smart Computing
Web site is accessible via the
“” domain name,
so any additional text between the
domain name and the top-level domain name should raise a red flag.
For example, a Web page located
at “http://www.smartcomputing.” is located at the domain name “,” and a
page at “http://www.ebay.customer-
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 6” is actually located at the
domain name “,”
not at “” Any text that appears to the left of the domain name is
a subdomain associated with the main
domain. In the examples we just provided, “smartcomputing” is a subdomain of “,” and “ebay”
is a subdomain of “” Ignore subdomains and
focus on the domain name when determining whether a link or URL is
legitimate. Hyphens and symbols
such as @ also are used to make a
phish site’s URL look more legitimate, so watch for those, too.
Unfortunately, some scammers
have figured out how to use a sophisticated exploit that displays a fake
address bar (containing a legitimatelooking address that doesn’t arouse
suspicion) in a Web browser window,
so other steps are necessary to fully
protect yourself.
Rule #2: Watch the Padlock
All popular browsers display padlock icons when users visit secure
sites; these icons are generally in the
lower-right corner of the browser
window. When users visit secure
sites, or secure portions of sites after
they’ve logged in, the padlock icon
appears and the URL in the address
bar begins with “https:” instead of the
usual “http:” we see. Knowing this, if
you ever see “https:” in the address
bar but don’t see a padlock icon displayed, the page isn’t secure, and it’s
likely you’re visiting a phishing site,
so don’t fill anything out or click any
However, even this method isn’t
foolproof, as scam artists have figured
out ways to forge padlock icons, so be
sure to follow the other rules we
cover for maximum protection.
Rule # 3: Type, Don’t Click
The Internet has conditioned us to
click hyperlinks to open new pages,
but don’t let that habit get the best of
you when a seemingly urgent e-mail
arrives. One of the main techniques
phishing scammers use to lull users
into a false sense of security is to put
links in an e-mail that look like they
point to a legit company site, when
they actually point to a phishing site.
This is called link masking, and it’s
easy to spot and avoid if you know
what to look for.
Most e-mail applications let users
hover a mouse pointer over a link to
see a pop-up window displaying the
actual link. For example, a scammer
might send an e-mail that has a
“” link, but
when you place the pointer over the
link, the pop-up window reads
Of course, you should avoid clicking
that link.
Also, most phishing sites use IP
(Internet Protocol) addresses (such as instead of domain
names, so if you hover the pointer
over a link and see a string of numbers, the link probably points to a
phishing site. Instead of clicking
links in e-mails, type their URLs into
your browser’s address bar; but only
do so if the links use the proper company domain name.
Rule #4: Notice Login Inconsistencies
Some scammers cover their tracks
by sending victims to the legitimate
company sites after collecting personal information. Common examples of this are phishing sites that ask
users to enter user names and passwords they would use to log in at
legitimate sites, and then automatically connect users to those sites after collecting their valuable login
If you ever attempt to log in to a
legitimate account after following a
hyperlink in an e-mail, and the Web
site rejects your login information
even though you typed it correctly,
it’s likely you’ve just been scammed.
Contact the legitimate company that
the phishing scammer pretended to
The Windows WUGNET
Shareware Hall of Fame
by Bettie Cummings Cook
SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
The Web site of WUGNET is
On this site are the Microsoft picks
that demonstrate the highest standards available today in shareware
for Windows XP. Just for the record,
freeware is free and shareware is
generally free to try, but you are on
represent to let it know what happened, and change your login password immediately.
Rule #5: Protect Bank Account Data
at All Costs
It’s bad when scammers gain access to your credit card accounts, but
at least these accounts are protected
to the point where victims are liable
for only a maximum of $50. Debit
card and bank accounts often don’t
have this level of protection, so
never divulge bank account information in response to an email.
Rule #6: Keep Personal Info Personal
If you take nothing else away
from this article, remember this: Legitimate companies never should ask
for personal info via e-mail (and if
they do, they’re not worth doing
business with anyway). Never fill
out a form via an e-mail, and never
blindly follow links embedded in emails—no matter how official they
appear to be. Scammers rely on input
from you to do their work, so by
trusting your instincts and never responding to e-mails that ask for personal information, you can force
these jerks to find real jobs and earn
their own money.
Reprinted with permission from Smart
Computing. Visit http:// to learn
what Smart Computing can do for you
and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 7
your honor to send the compiler a fee
or a contribution. Yes, you can use
them as long as you please without
sending a nickel for them, but I encourage you to support the persons
who unselfishly provide good shareware programs. A number of the programs will develop into large, wellknown products or become incorporated into new system programs. To
cite a few old examples that did so:
PKZip, Brother’s Keeper, Checkit,
XTree, and TweakUl. I purchased
these as shareware programs a number of years ago for $5.00 each. To
the credit of the shareware compilers,
their programs have continued to operate from Windows 3.1 through Windows XP. So, for the most part, they
are good investments.
Twenty-five of the best picks for
Windows XP are featured with links to
downloadable sites: everything from
utilities to games. I was intrigued by
one called Ink-Saver. It adjusts the
amount of ink flow from cartridge to
printer and causes those expensive ink
cartridges to last a little longer. Check
it out for dependable sources that
have MS approval.
Bettie Cummings Cook is Newsletter Editor of the SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc. (SWIPCUG). The
above article appeared in the January
2005 issue of the P-See Urgent,
SWIPCUG newsletter. Used by permission.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer Users Groups
brings this article to you.
Cyber Security in 2005?
by Pim Borman, SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
As more and more computer users
gain fast, always-on, broadband access to the Internet via cable or ADSL
telephone lines, computer security
becomes a critical issue. This was
convincingly illustrated in an article
in USA Today (11-30-2004). The paper teamed up with Avantgarde, a
tech marketing and design firm, to see
what kind of attacks were attracted by
variously equipped computers hooked
up to a broadband DSL connection.
Relatively unprotected computers,
wide open to the Internet, underwent
attacks at a sustained rate of 340 per
hour, or once every 10 seconds on
average. These computers consisted
of a Dell Windows XP with Service
Pack 1, and an Apple Mac X. Most of
the attacks were no more than “door
knob rattlers” and did not result in
actual penetration. Nevertheless, out
of 139 thousand attacks in two weeks
nine managed to take over the Windows XP computer and started to tie it
into a larger network of hijacked systems. Another computer, equipped
with Windows Small Business Server,
underwent 25 thousand attacks in two
weeks, 61 per hour on average, of
which one managed to take over the
system. The Apple computer was not
compromised, probably because it
uses an operating system not targeted
by most intruders.
Computers protected by an active
firewall underwent far fewer attacks,
from 2 – 4 per hour, because firewalls
hide the presence of a computer on
the Internet from casual passers-by.
These computers used Windows XP
with Service Pack 2, Windows XP
with the ZoneAlarm firewall, and a
Microtel Linspire (Linux-based) computer with a basic firewall in the operating system.
Note that these “honey pot” systems were totally passive. Attacks did
not depend on users’ actions, such as
visiting infected Web sites or
downloading e-mail attachments that
might cause infiltration by worms and
viruses. It is also clear that fairly simple protection measures, such as a
firewall, thwarted the vast majority of
malicious attackers.
The foremost obstacle to achieving
a safer Internet is the ignorance and/or
indifference of too many computer
users, especially those with a broadband connection; but notice that with
an attack rate of once every 10 seconds even Internet browsers using a
limited telephone connection can be
Here are important safety measures:
A firewall, stand-alone as in
ZoneAlarm, or part of a package as in
ZoneAlarm Plus, Windows XP SP2, or
Norton Internet Security (combined
with anti-virus and more). Optimally
also a hardware router, even if you
don’t need one for a home network, to
add additional firewall protection.
● An anti-virus program, if not already included in the firewall software. Norton is good, or you can use
a free program such as AVG from It is essential to
update the virus data files weekly or
more often.
● Regular updates of your operating system and Office programs with
newly issued patches from the providers (e.g. Microsoft).
A spyware blocking/removal
program such as Ad-aware (free) or
Ad-aware Plus (extra features), or the
free Spybot Search and Destroy.
Disconnect from the Internet
when not needed, or turn the computer off altogether when not in use
for a longer period (use Hibernate
with Windows XP for faster start-up).
Use common sense! Don’t trust
e-mail attachments unless you expect
them. If you have any doubt whatsoever, ask the sender to confirm that it
is OK. Even then, be skeptical. Delete
obvious chain mail unread.
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 8
Knoppix to the Rescue!
Sooner or later something is likely
to go wrong with your computer. A
nasty virus or spy program may take
over and lock you out, or Windows
starts acting weird and refuses to be of
service any longer. Maybe the Knoppix rescue disk can help you to recover your precious data files, at least,
and maybe to remove a virus or restore Windows to good health.
Knoppix is the brainchild of Klaus
Knopper, a guy who makes it his
business to go around fixing peoples’
computers. In doing so he uses a variety of software tools that he carries
around on CDs and floppies for use
on the affected systems. He also carries a boot CD to start computers that
won’t start up because of a nasty virus
or other problems. Knopper eventually added his repair tools to this boot
CD, running Linux. The CD includes
programs to detect peripherals, including networks, USB ports, Internet
connections, sound and graphics
cards, as well as Open Source programs such as OpenOffice and The
Gimp to make it possible to access
and copy text and graphics data on the
infected computer. In the spirit of
Open Source programming, he invited
others to join in the effort. The resulting CD goes way beyond being a
technician’s repair tool; with the addition of numerous utilities, games,
emulators, sound and graphics programs, the current CD, called Knoppix, is a full-fledged Linux distribution for non-Linux geeks, comparable
to Linspire and Xandros. The difference is that the whole program can
run from the CD without using the
computer drives. Some 1700 MB of
programming is contained in compressed form on a single 700 MB CD.
The latest version of the program can
be downloaded for free or you can
order a CD from a variety of vendors
for $5.00 and S/H. Booting the program takes only a few minutes; as
many of the essential features of the
program as possible are copied to
RAM. As a result, the programs run
surprisingly fast. The Linux-based
A Scary Future
An Internet passalong, possibly by Rick Card
Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. May I
have your national ID number?
Hi, I’d like to place an order.
I must have your NIDN first, sir.
My National ID Number, yeah, hold on,
eh, it’s 6102049998-45-54610.
Thank you Mr. Sheehan. I see you live
at 1742 Meadowland Drive, and the
phone number is 494-2366. Your office
number over at Lincoln Insurance is
745-2302 and your cell number is 2662566. Which number are you calling
from, sir?
Huh? I’m at home. Where’d you get all
this information?
We’re wired into the HSS, sir.
The HSS, what is that?
We’re wired into the Homeland Security
System, sir. This will add only 15 sec
onds to your ordering time.
(sighs) Oh well, I’d like to order a cou
ple of your All-Meat Special pizzas.
I don’t think that’s a good idea, sir.
Whaddya mean?
Sir, your medical records indicate that
you’ve got very high blood pressure
and extremely high cholesterol. Your
National Health Care provider won’t
allow such an unhealthy choice.
What?!?! What do you recommend,
You might try our low-fat Soybean
Pizza. I’m sure you’ll like it.
What makes you think I’d like something like that?
Well, you checked out ‘Gourmet Soy
bean Recipes’ from your local library
last week, sir. That’s why I suggested it.
All right, all right. Give me two familysized ones, then.
KDE windows program is a clone of
MS Windows and easy to use by nonLinux users.
Next time your computer suddenly goes on the blink, you might
be able to continue some work and
copy your data to a safe location simply by booting from the Knoppix
CD-ROM. I have recently received a
That should be plenty for you, your wife
and your four kids. Your total is $49.99.
Lemme give you my credit card number.
I’m sorry sir, but I’m afraid you’ll have
to pay in cash. Your credit card balance
is over its limit.
I’ll run over to the ATM and get some
cash before your driver gets here.
That won’t work either, sir. Your checking account is overdrawn also.
Never mind! Just send the pizzas. I’ll
have the cash . How long will it take?
It’ll be about 45 minutes, sir. If you’re in
a hurry you might want to pick’em up
while you’re out getting the cash, but
then, carrying pizzas on a motorcycle
can be a little awkward.
Wait! How do you know I ride a cycle?
It says here you’re in arrears on your car
payments, so your car got repo’ed. But
your Harley’s paid for and you just filled
the tank yesterday.
Well, I’ll be a --I’d advise watching your language, sir.
You’ve already got a July 4, 2003, conviction for cussing out a cop and another
one I see here, in September for contempt at your hearing for cussing at a
judge. Oh yes, I see here that you just
got out from a 90-day stay in the State
Correctional Facility. Is this your first
pizza since your return to society?
Will there be anything else, sir?
Yes, I have a coupon for a free Coke.
I’m sorry sir, but our ad’s exclusionary
clause prevents us from offering free
soda to diabetics. The New Constitution
prohibits this. Thank you for calling
Pizza Hut.
review copy of the book Knoppix
Hacks, by Kyle Rankin, from its publisher (O’Reilly, ISBN 0-596-007876, $29.95, user group member discount available) and I hope soon to
discuss more details of this interesting program.
Pim Borman is Web Site Editor
of the SW Indiana PC Users Group,
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 9
Inc. (SWIPCUG). The above article
appeared in the January 2005 issue
of the P-See Urgent, SWIPCUG
newsletter. Used by permission. The
Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups brings this article to you.
Tech News
By Sue Crane, VP / Editor, Big Bear Computer Club
IRS partners Intuit, TaxAct and
eSmartTax are offering no-cost services to everyone this year. Two additional companies,
and, are extending free services to residents of certain U.S. states. The 10 remaining
participating companies, including tax
giant H&R Block, have no-cost programs for specific demographics, such
as people over the age of 60 or members of the military.
Forty states and the District of Columbia are working on a national
Internet sales tax system. SSTP
(Streamlined Sales Tax Project) has
issued two requests for bids for software and Web-based networks to
track on-line purchase sales tax payments. As currently envisioned by the
states, Web merchants would pay
nothing for the services; instead, the
vendors would take a cut from tax
EBay and Intel have developed a
“Rethink Initiative” which seeks to
bring together public and private organizations to promote recycling and
reuse of old PCs and consumer electronics products. The announcement
comes days after the Electronic Waste
Recycling Act of 2003 became active
in California, requiring consumers to
pay an Electronic Waste Recycling
Fee for certain devices, including
monitors and laptop computers. EBay
president and chief executive officer
Meg Whitman said, "I would love to
try as an industry to come together
with market-based solutions so we
won't have to face federal and state
Vonage, the No. 1 Internet phone
company, is offering its subscribers a
wireless Wi-Fi phone that can make
calls over the Internet at homes or at
public Wi-Fi hot spots. The phone
will let consumers make VoIP calls
from any Wi-Fi hot spot. Wi-Fi calls
are essentially free, in contrast to cell
phone calls, and customers will plug a
regular phone into an adapter linked
to a broadband Internet line. Vonage
will then turn the calls into data that
travel by Internet before being converted back to voice at the other end.
Meanwhile, Comcast Corp., the nation's biggest cable company, said
Monday it plans to roll out phone service over the Internet to all 21.5 million of its customers within the next
year and a half, bringing the on-line
technology into the mainstream.
New technology known as eICU
("Enhanced Intensive Care") lets
physicians miles away from their patients manage health care via cameras
and banks of computer screens. The
technology is already in use at at least
18 hospital systems nationwide.
Whereas traditional health care systems rely on nurses to notice a problem with a patient and relay the information to a doctor, eICU informs the
doctor directly. The doctor can check
the patient's ventilator, intravenous
medication and anything else in the
patient's room, and one physician
notes: "The camera is such that I can
count eyelashes."
If you've bought a plasma TV, you
might get one-upped in two years,
when TVs using new carbon technology arrive. The new type of flat-panel
display will rely on diamonds or carbon nanotubes--two forms of pure
carbon--to produce images. Theoretically, these "field effect displays," or
FEDs, will consume less energy than
plasma or liquid crystal display
(LCD) TVs, deliver a better picture
and even cost less.
RaySat has developed a satellite
antenna that turns a moving vehicle
into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. In addition to the Internet access service,
RaySat has developed an antenna that
enables cars to receive satellite TV
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 10
broadcasts -- an application that may
have broader appeal among consumers. RaySat expects to launch its new
product in the third quarter of this
For people fed up with pecking out
text messages on their mobile phone,
Samsung Electronics may have an
answer. The South Korean electronics
maker has developed what it is calling
the world's first mobile phones that
can convert spoken words into text
messages. lts three handsets will be
released in the U.S. sometime during
the first quarter.
In Asia, cell phone handset makers
are already marketing phones with
embedded memory devices (a chip or
magnetic strip) that can be swiped
against credit or debit card readers in
much the same way consumers now
use plastic, and trials are underway to
bring the technology to the U.S. Details are still being worked on important issues such as security. "The
phones are exciting, but it's going to
be a long time" before a wide base of
U.S. merchants and consumers are
equipped to use them, says Visa International VP Sue Gordon-Lathrop.
The U.S. Army is sending 18 remote-controlled robotic soldiers
called SWORDS (Special Weapons
Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems) to Iraq, but they are not
the autonomous killer robots of science fiction: a SWORDS robot shoots
only when its human operator presses
a button (after identifying a target on
video shot by the robot's cameras).
Most Identity Theft Occurs Offline. Despite growing concerns over
on-line fraud, a new study conducted
by the Better Business Bureau and
Javelin Research finds that most cases
of identity theft can be traced to a lost
or stolen wallet or checkbook, rather
than vulnerable on-line financial data.
Computer crimes make up just 12%
of all ID fraud cases in which the origin is known, and half of those are
Sounding the Alarm over Spyware Threats
and Anti-spyware Cooperation
Tips and Tricks
From Smart Computing
by Linda Gonse, Editor, Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group
I was outraged when I first learned
that two spyware makers, iSearch and
iDownload, had tried to stop antispyware makers and advocates in
February from listing their names to
be removed during routine screening,
threatening legal action. See http:// 050224/
Several sites have received the
letters and now face steep legal fees
in fighting this brazen and outrageous
threat to consumer rights to share
information and protect ourselves
from being victimized by spyware.
What these spyware makers are
saying is that their products are not
spyware, although available studies
and articles all show that the products
are indeed just that—spyware. See
But, wait. It gets stranger. Another
spyware company, WhenU, actually
struck a deal with Aluria to be delisted as spyware. Aluria develops
anti-spyware technology used by
AOL and several other ISPs affecting
millions of users. Aluria actually
agreed to remove WhenU from the
definitions it uses for Spyware Eliminator. WhenU products are now declared "Spyware SAFE" and are left
intact on the systems of users, although WhenU’s products did not
change! What's more, Ad-aware and
Pest Patrol have also stopped listing
WhenU's spyware. See http://
58023, and
(Editor’s note: WhenU has just been
added back into Ad-aware’s detection
attributed to spyware that sneaks onto
computers and steals private information.
The Editorial Committee of the
Association of Personal Computer
User Groups brings this article to
Why is this happening? And,
what effect will it have on users?
Apparently, spyware vendors, in
anticipation of looming anti-spyware
laws, are attempting a public-image
makeover that includes buying legitimacy from anti-spyware developers. The spyware
makers are being driven by money.
And, anti-spyware makers who cooperate with them do so for the money,
as well.
If we cannot learn who makes
spyware from advocacy sites, and we
cannot rely on anti-spyware makers
to list them for removal, we computer
users are the ultimate targets/victims
for the sleazy programs that install
and run on our computers without our
knowledge and approval, that affect
the performance of our computers
and programs, and invade our homes
and our privacy, without fear of litigation or removal.
Isn’t this where computer users
and user groups must band together
and pressure anti-spyware companies
to keep these perpetrators in their
databases? Shouldn’t we lend our
support to anti-spyware vendors and
tell them not to cave into these demands or we won’t buy or use their
products? Isn’t this a good time to
write to your legislator? NOW! Before you lose the right to protest and
deny these companies access to your
computer and private information.
Names and addresses of your
elected state and federal officials are
congressorg/home/. Find contacts at
anti-spyware companies by clicking
on links at
ehowes/www/soft6.htm .
The Editorial Committee of the
Association of Personal Computer
User Groups brings this article to
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 11
• Use Any Photo as a Background.
Right-click any blank area of the
Desktop and choose Properties. Click
the Desktop tab, click the Browse
button, find the picture you want to
use, and choose Open. From the Position drop-down menu, choose
Stretch, Center, or Tile; then click
• Find That Lost File. Can’t find a
file? First, make sure you’re looking
in the spot where you think you’re
looking. All those folders look alike,
so take a step back and recheck. Next
make sure you didn’t accidentally
delete the file or document. Many
deleted files remain in the Recycle
Bin until you empty it; double-click
the Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop, right-click a file, and click Restore to return the item to its original
location. Next, try expanding the
range of operations. You or someone
else might have saved or moved the
file to a different location unintentionally. The Windows Find or
Search feature, accessible through the
Start menu, might be able to track it
down. With Search you can type in
information, such as the name of the
file, or select options based on other
characteristics. Note that you can use
an asterisk (*) to stand in for multiple
unknown letters in file names, so you
can search for ~hous*~ if you can’t
remember whether the file name included the word house, houses, or
• Avoid dust on Your PDA Screen
Thanks to static electricity, your PDA
screen will attract inordinate amounts
of dust in a short time. To reduce the
amount of this dust, wipe the screen
with a static-cling control sheet that
you have already sent through the
dryer with a load of laundry.
If Moving Can’t Be Fun, at Least Make It Painless
By Gabe Goldberg, APCUG Advisor and Columnist, AARP Computers and Technology Website
It's said that "two moves equals
one fire" in terms of inconvenience
and turmoil. Fire victims might disagree, but there's no doubt that moves
range from disruptive to agonizing.
Having just moved -- and, in the process, reengineered my family's computing and Internet setup -- I'll share
tips for recreating or transforming
technology when moving.
Some aspects of moving are the
same whether the trip is cross-country
or down the street: packing boxes,
dealing with new quarters, etc. But
moving locally allows shuttling between old and new sites, avoiding the
long-distance "D-Day" moment when
everything must be in transit.
I'll focus on technology: computers, Internet issues (ISP/cable/
DSL), system backup, telephone
(local, long distance, cellular), and
electricity. (Just ensure that someone
attends to non-tech services such as
gas and newspaper delivery!) And
remember, just as insurance needs
differ, no single move strategy fits
everyone. Decide what to do based on
your technical skills and how you'll
be affected by problems.
It shouldn't be hard to identify
what you've got -- computers, accessories, network connections, etc. But
listing local dependencies may be
challenging. What do you depend on
locally? Just as you know your doctor
and plumber -- what's your technology support structure? If you use a
local ISP (Internet service provider),
will it be available after you move? If
you rely on neighbors or a local user
group for technical assistance, who
will replace them? Remember that
AARP's technical community at is always as near as
your Web browser!
Make and update to-do lists; take
notes on conversations with vendors
to track progress and follow up when
(all too often) necessary.
First, inventory your technology
and set goals. Balance recreating your
current setup against improving it.
The first choice reduces change and
perhaps stress; the second can offer
better computing.
Next, identify what you need. If
you generally keep a list -- mental or
written -- of technology problems
(slow computer, fuzzy monitor, pokey
Internet connection), moving may be
the time to solve them.
Finally -- and most fun -- think
about what you want. If you're moving when retiring, you may take up
new hobbies. Dealing with music,
digital photography, and movies all
require more computer power: CPU
speed, RAM, and hard drive space.
And losing access to the office computer and network can suddenly make
an upgrade essential.
Plan your new place's technology;
decide where to place your computer
(s). Custom space and furniture are
nice but not essential. Make sure there
are enough electrical outlets and that
circuits can handle the load. Locate
other connections you'll need such as
telephone and cable (TV/Internet).
Draw a floorplan and experiment with
placing furniture and equipment -- it's
much easier to redraw lines than
move heavy objects.
When your move is set, deal with
utilities at both ends. You may not
care when service is terminated, but
there's sometimes a wait to establish
telephone and cable service. For local
moves I've had good results from visiting utility offices rather than making
changes by phone: I could look at
current products/services literature,
discuss options, and read contracts.
Consider new service plans -- for cable TV, ISP, cell phone, long-distance
calling. Your post-move needs may
be different and plans have likely
evolved since you last evaluated
My wife thinks—likely correctly --
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 12
that my first priority after moving is
getting on-line. Even if you've arranged broadband service, there may
be problems: wiring or account setup
may not be done; your PC configuration may not match the new service;
etc. If access is essential, establish
and test backup dial-access service
before moving -- even if it requires a
long-distance phone call.
Keep essential materials such as
manuals and software install disks
handy. Locate a user group where
you're going, perhaps join before
moving and introduce yourself to
group leaders so you have a welcoming committee ready. Solicit recommendations for consultants or service
shops, just in case.
If movers will handle your equipment or you're shipping it, make sure
it's adequately insured.
If staying in touch is essential,
warn people that you're moving and
that you'll be off-line and explain how
you can be reached (cell phone, new
address, etc.). Auto-responders
(sending a canned message to people
who e-mail you) can be helpful but
should be used with caution so they
don't respond inappropriately (e.g., to
mailing lists to which you're subscribed).
If you're moving locally, set aside
fragile equipment or anything you
want to keep in sight, such as financial or medical records, and shuttle it
to your new place.
For longer moves, allow extra time
to pack electronics carefully in original boxes. (Now you know why you
keep boxes!) Consider carrying or
shipping boxes containing irreplaceable material (one data backup, software CDs, etc.)
Label cables when you disassemble your PC and network and record
where they connect. If you're nervous
about disassembling your equipment,
a local consultant can likely prepare it
for shipping. That's better than having
Hackers Are Not Crackers
(continued from page 12)
movers do it! For extra protection,
remove your hard drive and pack it in
soft clothing you'll take with you.
That will doubly protect you: from
damage if the computer is dropped or
banged, from losing data if the computer is lost or stolen.
Carry a tested backup (software
and data) separate from your PC. If
you have desktop and laptop computers, you may be able to back the
desktop system up on the laptop hard
Once you arrive, even if you're in
a hurry, don't neglect power protection -- using at least a surge protector,
preferably a UPS (uninterruptible
power supply).
Update anything displaying your
address such as Web pages and email signature files. Tell techinvolved organizations such as your
ISPs and domain name registrars that
you've moved so you receive bills
and notices.
Now kick back and relax; enjoy
your well-organized technology.
This article appeared originally
on AARP's Computers and Technology Web site,
computers. (c) AARP 2005. Permission is granted for reprinting and
distribution by nonprofit organizations with text reproduced unchanged
and this paragraph included.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups brings this article to you.
by Berry F. Phillips
Member of the Computer Club of Oklahoma City,
The media loves to publish stories
about so-called hackers breaking into
computer systems and causing destruction. It is time to set the record
straight, based on historical truth.
The hacker culture actually started
in the 1950s, when computers were
huge to say the least, and programming meant connecting wires to electrodes. They did not call themselves
hackers, but they were doing the same
thing. A hacker may be defined as a
person who enjoys exploring the details of programming systems and
trying to stretch their capabilities, as
opposed to most computer users who
prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.
“Hacker” as a term was first
adopted as a badge in the 1960s by
the culture surrounding the Tech
Model Railroad Club (TMRC) and
the MIT AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Lab. All computer systems that we
use today are based on early hacker
research. Much of this research was
done by people out of love for the
subject and the fame they got within
the hacker community. One who is
“officially” recognized as a hacker by
this community gains a certain ego
satisfaction. Several famous hackers
from the first computer club, the
Home Brew Club, were instrumental
in founding major computer companies.
Around 1980, a new breed of computer-fed kids evolved in the United
Smart Computing Tips
have spun down before you move it.
• How To Use A Search Engine
• Don’t move: According to reMost
search engine users type two- or
search at IBM, users cause a large perthree-word
phrases, and that can be
centage of damage to the hard drives
most of the time. But too
by mishandling computers. The speoften,
phrase searches
cific culprits are moving notebooks or
thousands of
bumping desktops while the computer
to effectively sort.
is still on. If you need to move a comSo familiarize yourself with the adputer, suspend it, put it in hibernate
vanced search options of your favorite
mode, or shut it down, then wait 30
seconds to ensure that the hard drives search engine. Don’t let the word
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 13
States and Europe who, with easy access to the Internet, learned that they
could break into other people's systems. Unfortunately, the media mistakenly called them hackers, and the
name sort of stuck. But real hackers
do not identify with such illegal security breakers. They call them
“crackers.” Hackers build things;
crackers break them!
While crackers should be prosecuted for their illegal actions, hackers
should be recognized by the media,
even given an apology by the press!
After all, much of the freeware on the
Internet comes from hackers.
While it is true that many hackers
possess skills that could be used for
cracking, they outgrew any desire to
do so except for immediate, benign,
practical reasons. Contrary to nonhacker belief, there is no thin line between being a hacker and being a
Hackers built the Internet, maintain Usenet and work in IT computer
security, and all Internet-related businesses owe their origin to hackers.
We can demonstrate our respect for
their considerable IT achievements by
not confusing the terms.
My thanks to Philip Tellis for his
assistance in gathering facts for this
The Editorial Committee of the
Association of Personal Computer
User Groups brings this article to
“advanced” scare you off: You can
learn your way around these search
functions in minutes. Just read the help
provided by your search site. For instance, on Google you can search for
an exact phrase by putting it in quotes,
limit hits to a particular language, or
just show pages that have been recently updated. (Details about advanced searching on Google are at
By Pim Borman,
SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
Google is rapidly adding additional features, including the recently
added Google Desktop that lets you
search your system drives for files.
The latest free addition is Picasa
2 (, an add-in that
searches your hard drives for images
and arranges them in easy-to-scan
folders arranged by date, name, or
size. The pictures can be rearranged,
combined in albums, made into slide
shows, sent via email, make collages, and other manipulations to
sort through your collections.
What especially caught my eye
were the intuitive image editing
tools. Most photo editors I have used
are either too limited, or they offer
so many features that they become
hard to use. Picasa offers effective
automatic contrast and color corrections, and even an “I’m Feeling
Lucky” button. A “Fill Light” button
serves the highly useful but poorly
understood exposure-correction
function usually called “gamma.” If
these buttons don’t give the desired
effect, there are Tuning and Effects
buttons to further optimize your pictures.
Picasa leaves your stored images
unchanged. Edited images must be
“saved as a copy” or by “exporting”
them to another location. I finally
found out about that after spending
quite some time looking in vain for
the usual “save as…” menu item.
Some day Google may be the WalMart of desktop programs, offering
one-stop universal functionality. Microsoft, Yahoo, and the other software moguls are warily watching its
More Tips from Smart Computing
How can I reinstall Internet
Explorer? At some point, you may
have to reinstall Internet Explorer or
Outlook Express because of damaged or missing files. If there is a
newer version of IE available, you
are probably better off downloading
the latest version from Microsoft.
However, if you are already running
the most recent version and need to
reinstall the software, you can do so
in Win2000/XP/Server 2003 using
SFC (System File Checker). Open
the Start menu, click Run, type sfc/
scannow in the Open field, and then
click OK. Windows will then prompt
you to insert the installation CD for
your operating system in order to
replace certain files. Once you insert
the Win XP CD, click Retry to contoinue.
• How to Use a Search Engine.
Most search engine users type twoor three-word phrases, and that can
be good enough most of the time.
But too often, these simple phrase
searches yield thousands and thousands of hits—way too many to effectively sort. So familiarize yourself
with the advanced search options of
your favorite search engine. Don’t
let the word “advanced” scare you
off: You can learn your way around
these search functions in minutes.
Just read the help provided by your
search site. For instance, on Google
you can search for an exact phrase
by putting it in quotes, limit hits to a
particular language, or just show
pages that have been recently updated. (Details about advanced
searching on Google are at
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups brings this article to you.
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 14
How Often to Back_Up? Ask
yourself how much information you
could bear to lose. That’s how often
you should back up your data. If you
use your computer to create irreplaceable data files (such as lengthy
word processing documents), you
may want daily backups of these important files. If other members of
your household have access to your
computer, and your important data
files, you may want to increase the
frequency of your backups. If you
use your PC primarily for cruising
the Internet or sending email, or if
you use it on an infrequent basis, a
weekly or even monthly backup may
be sufficient. If you maintain original company data files (client reports, letters, and so on) at home, or
you run a small business from your
computer, backups are especially
important. The UK’s Department of
Trade and Industry did a study recently in which it found that 70% of
companies experiencing a major data
loss go out of business within a year.
Another consideration is whether
you are a paper pusher. If you do
such things as print out important
email messages or make hard copies
of reports often, your paper backups
will give you some protection
against the loss of important data.
Reprinted with permission from
Smart Computing. Visit http:// to
learn what Smart Computing can do
for you and your user group!
Remember that the Napa County
Computer and Electronics Recycling Event is coming June 10
and 11 at the Napa Valley College Napa Campus. Get ready to
clear out the old and make room
for the new!
Thank You !
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
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Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
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Annual Dues:
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Make check payable to Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Mail application/renewal to: Napa Valley Personal Computer Users
Group, Attn.: Membership Director, P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA 945580286.
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your
dues payment may be deductible as a charitable contribution.
* To request a Corporate Membership Application/Renewal form, e-mail:
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NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 15
Random Acts of Literacy
by Sherry Zorzi, APCUG Advisor, Director, Cajun Clickers Computer Club
You may find one in your doctor’s waiting room or at the hairdresser’s. You may spot one in a
shopping cart in the parking lot at
Winn Dixie or on a chair at Starbucks. You may come upon one in
the break room at work or even on a
bench in the park.
A book. It could be paperback or
hardback. It could be well-thumbed
or brand-new. It sports a stick-on
label with a cartoon of a jaunty running book with stick-figure arms
and legs. “I’m not lost; I’m traveling. Take me home,“ the label
Welcome to the BookCrossing
phenomenon. It’s operating quietly
here in the Baton Rouge area, it’s
free, it’s as anonymous as you want
it to be, and it’s great fun.
Thanks to a unique Web site
started in April 2001, the invented
term “bookcrossing” has become so
mainstream that it made it into the
Concise Oxford English Dictionary
by August 2004:
n., the practice of leaving a book in
a public place to be picked up and
read by others, who then do likewise.”
Avid reader Ron Hornbaker, a
Web designer in Kansas City, was
intrigued by Web sites like Where’s
George, which tracks U.S. currency
by serial number, and wondered
what else would be fun to track.
Thus was born
and the rest is rapidly becoming history.
The basics of bookcrossing are,
appropriately, the “3 R’s.” Read,
register and release. Read a good
book. Register it at When you register the
book, you’ll get a unique ID number
for the book. You can write an online journal entry for the book, a
review, if you like. Stick a label on
the book with the ID number and the
address of the Web site. Release the
book for someone else to find and
read. You can give it directly to a
friend, mail it to another bookcrosser who has expressed interest
in that book, or (my favorite!) just
leave it in a public place for someone else to find.
When you find a released book,
visit the Web site and enter the ID
number of the book. You can do
this anonymously if you wish.
You’ll have an opportunity to make
your own journal entry, in which
you can describe where you found it
and even review the book yourself.
If you log the book, the releaser will
know when and where the book was
found and you’ll both be able to
track future finds as well.
More than 300,000 bookcrossers
worldwide have registered almost
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286
Address Service Requested
NVPCUG Computer News, March 2005, Page 16
two million books! Bookcrossers
live in 150 different countries. There
are almost 500 bookcrossers in the
Baton Rouge area, so you just might
happen upon one of our releases in a
neighborhood near you.
At the Web
site, you can click a link to “go
hunting” for books released in your
area within the last 30 days that
have not yet been reported found.
As of this writing, there are 39
books in Baton Rouge waiting to be
There is also an on-line community at the Web site, with discussion
forums ranging from general chitchat to serious talk about books.
Do you really think you’ll ever
reread your collection of paperback
James Lee Burke mysteries? Or all
those diet books you’ve collected?
What are you hoarding them for?
Why not make someone else’s day?
If you love your books, set them
Sherry Zorzi is a Director of Cajun
Clickers Computer Club and host of
“The Cajun Clickers Computer
Show” heard every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on WJBO Radio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups brings this article to you.
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