Computer News Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group Inside This Issue:

Computer News Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group Inside This Issue:
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Computer News
December 2005
Volume 22, Issue 12
Inside This Issue:
President’s Message
Officers List
Special Interest Groups
Membership News
Locked Out of a Computer?
USB Flash Drives
Legal Bytes— CALEA
Paper and Ink for Printing
Locating Misplaced Files
Speed Up Your Computer
Windows Recovery or
Restore Disks
Browsing WebRings
Buying a PC for the Holidays 16
The Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group has
served novice and experienced
computer users since 1983.
Through its monthly meetings,
newsletters, online forum, special interest groups, mentor
program and community involvement, it has helped educate people of all ages. The
NVPCUG provides opportunities for people to find friends
who share common interests
and experiences. Through its
Computers-to-Schools program, members refurbish used
computer equipment for donation to local schools. Since
January 2003 the NVPCUG
has donated 391 computers
and 109 printers.
NVPCUG Annual Holidays Potluck Party
December 21, 2005, 6:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Peterson Family Christmas Tree Farm
1120 Darms Lane, Napa, CA
This month, instead of having a regular meeting, the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will gather at Dick and Sandy Peterson’s Christmas tree farm for
our annual holidays party—a wonderful evening of food, music, festivity, and great fellowship. This event is for NVPCUG members, their spouses or partners, and guests.
Four special activities will highlight our event: a potluck, the introduction of our
new officers, an outstanding-member-of-the-year award presentation, and a silent auction.
The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with setting up the potluck and silent auction
tables. For the potluck, please bring your favorite hot dish, pasta, salad, appetizer, or
dessert to share. Our group will provide soft drinks, coffee, and other nonalcoholic beverages, as well as plates, cups, eating utensils, and ice for cold drinks. If you want alcoholic beverages, you must bring your own. For suggestions on what food to bring, contact Roy Wagner by calling (707) 253-2721 or e-mailing [email protected]
For the silent auction, bring whatever you think will be of interest to NVPCUG
members and guests. You can either enter items in the auction, or donate them to our
group for the auction. Our group will be offering many new and used items, including
computer software, disk drives, printers, speaker sets, modems, and keyboard trays. Bid
sheets will be provided by our group. This auction will be a great opportunity to get rid
of your white elephants and buy items you need at bargain prices. For more information
about the silent auction, contact Orion E. Hill, by calling (707) 252-0637 or e-mailing
[email protected]
The award presentation to our outstanding member of the year, selected by our
board of directors, will occur around 7:30 p.m. Immediately after the presentation, our
new officers will be introduced. Afterwards there will be time for more socializing and
bidding on the silent auction items. The auction will run until about 8:30 p.m., when
each auction item will be sold to the bidder having written the highest amount on the
item’s bid sheet.
This party is a great opportunity for you to get better acquainted with other members of our group—a joyous event you shouldn’t miss!
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 1
President's Message—
Looking Back and Ahead
by Orion E. Hill
tion for exceptional contributions that have required many hours of work: Mike Moore, for coAs my second year as President draws to a
ordinating Computer Tutor presentations and perclose, it's time to look back to see how our group
sonally making six of them; Jim Stirling, for his
fared during the past year. With a board of direcexcellent work on our monthly newsletters; Ron
tors composed of only six members and with
Dack, for maintaining our Web site and improving
three key officer positions vacant—Vice Presiits user interface; Dianne Prior, for maintaining
dent, Programs Director, and Special Projects
our member database and coordinating our very
Director—maintaining a high-quality user group
successful picnic; and Bill Wheadon, for coordiOrion Hill
program has been a major challenge, as board
nating our computer recycling activities. I also
members have struggled to find time to handle
thank Bill Wheadon and Ray McCann for their major
activities that would normally have been handled by a
contributions as assistant coordinators of our Computersgreater number of people. Despite that difficulty, we've
to-Schools program, for which I serve as coordinator, and
succeeded in offering valuable educational opportunities
all of the CTS work party volunteers for the more than
and services benefitting our members and our community.
1,000 hours they have devoted to refurbishing equipment.
Our monthly general meetings have provided practical information of interest to most computer users.
What Improvements Can We Make?
Through our very successful Computers-to-Schools program, we've donated 181 refurbished computers to
During the coming year, we need to arrange more
schools, nearly twice the number donated during the previfrequent presentations of new products by computer prodous two years. We conducted a used computer equipment
uct developers, service providers, and industry experts,
sale that raised $1,941 to help finance our group's educaand complement those presentations with practical presentional activities and programs benefitting Napa Valley
tations and panel discussions by our members. Due to inresidents. We cosponsored the Fifth Annual Napa County
dustry economic conditions, it has become difficult to find
Computers and Electronics Recycling Event, which colvendors who are willing to send representatives to user
lected 208 tons of electronic equipment for materials recygroup meetings. To arrange these presentations, we need a
cling. We also established three new special interest
Programs Director. With that position vacant during the
groups: Digital Photography, eBay, and—new this
past year, I've handled the duties, but doing so has been a
month—a Macintosh SIG.
huge burden on top of my other duties. I'm delighted that
Our new Macintosh SIG is headed by Jim Gillespie,
Susy Ball has volunteered to serve as our Programs Direcwho recently joined the NVPCUG after attending several
tor for the coming year.
meetings. Jim has been a key leader of the Napa MacinWe need to return to regularly having door prize
tosh Users Group for many years. He currently coordinates
drawings and raffles at meetings, activities that we usually
its activities. Founded in 1985, the group has about 15 athad to forgo during the past year for lack of a coordinator
tendees at each of its meetings. We hope that many more
who could devote time to soliciting giveaway products.
NMUG members will join our group, and we offer them a
Our corporation bylaws need to be revised to make
warm welcome. Meetings of our Macintosh SIG will coinprovision for corporation members who have the right to
cide with those of the NMUG, with meetings held on the
elect our corporate directors and officers. Our directors
second Thursday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at
and officers should be accountable to those who pay memthe Napa Senior Activity Center. Guests are always welbership dues, and direct election is fundamental for accome. For more information about the meetings, contact
countability, majority rule, and sense of ownership. Since
Jim by calling (707) 252-1665 or sending e-mail to napanthe adoption of our bylaws by our board of directors in
[email protected]
2002, our "members" are members in name only and have
Reflecting the strength of our program, our memberno legal standing. All corporate powers are vested in our
ship has increased from 93 members at the beginning of
board of directors.
this year to 120 today, with more member applications
Also, I would like to see us establish a discount purexpected. Our membership total is now greater than at any
chasing program, enabling us to obtain goods and services
time since the summer of 2002.
at special reduced prices from CompUSA and other venI thank the officers and members of our group for the
dors in our shopping area, and offer computer tune-up
support they have given me during the past year and for
workshops. I was working on both of these projects, but
the time and effort they have put into making our group
had to set them aside last February for lack of time.
successful. Several of our officers deserve special recogniWhat Have We Accomplished?
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 2
New Officers
November Door Prize Winner
The ten directors elected at the NVPCUG Board of
Directors annual business meeting on November 2 will
take office at a transition board meeting on December 7.
Their first order of business will be the election of new
corporate officers—President, Vice President, Secretary,
and Treasurer—and appointment of subordinate officers
for one-year terms. If you are willing to serve in one of the
appointive positions (see officers list on page 4), please let
any of our directors for the coming term know. Our directors-elect are listed below. An asterisk designates an incumbent director.
Roy Wagner won Roxio Easy Media Creator 8 Suite
in the door prize drawing following James Manning's
excellent presentation on DVD technology at our November 16 general meeting. We thank Sonic Solutions for donating this disc authoring, photo management, and video
editing software package, which regularly retails for
Time to Renew
For most NVPCUG members, whose memberships
expire at the end of this month, it's time to renew your
memberships for another year by paying your annual dues.
Don't let your membership expire. Please use the Membership Application/Renewal form in the back of this newsletter to renew your membership.
To alert you in the future that it's time to pay dues,
your membership expiration date will be printed on your
mailing label. If your membership is due to expire within
three months of the date the label is printed, the message
"TIME TO RENEW" will also be printed on your label.
Susy Ball
Ron Dack
Orion E. Hill*
Bob Kulas
John Moore
Dick Peterson
John Simcoe*
Jim Stirling*
Roy Wagner*
Dean Unruh
By the time you receive this newsletter, our board of
directors transition meeting will have occurred and our
new corporate officers will have been elected. I hope that
you will give them your support. Whoever is elected as our
new president will undoubtedly handle some matters differently than I have as president during the last two years.
That can be a good thing. Every leader has his or her
strengths and weaknesses, and new leadership provides an
opportunity for introducing new ideas, new processes, and
a new leadership style that can strengthen an organization.
Refurbished Computers Donated
The NVPCUG, through our Computers-to-Schools
program, donated 27 multimedia computers to the Napa
Valley Unified School District in November. The Pentium
3 and Pentium 4 computers will be distributed by the district's technology department to school sites for classroom
use. Two computers were also given to disadvantaged
Annual Holidays Potluck Party
I hope to see all of our members at our annual holidays potluck party on December 21 at Dick and Sandy
Peterson's Christmas Tree House at their tree farm on
Darms Lane. This event will be lots of fun, and you'll be
able to congratulate our new president and the other officers who will have been elected and appointed to serve
during the coming year, and whomever our board of directors names as Outstanding Member of the Year for 2005.
And don't forget to bring your white elephants for the
silent auction. I've already heard about items that several
people are planning to bring, including laser and inkjet
printers, hard disk drives, CD and DVD drives, keyboards,
mice, power strips, deluxe keyboard trays, modems, cables, speaker sets, software packages, and books.
Best Wishes for a Wonderful New Year!
NVPCUG Calendar
December 7
December 8
December 12
December 14
December 21
December 28
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-9:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
Computers-to-Schools work parties. To volunteer, contact Orion Hill, (707) 252-0637.
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Macintosh SIG meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Investors SIG meeting, Jerry Brown’s home, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Digital Photography SIG meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Annual Holidays Party, Peterson Family Christmas Tree Farm, 1120 Darms Lane, Napa
EBay SIG meeting, Napa Valley Genealogical Library, 1701 Menlo Ave., Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 3
Membership News
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups
In SIG meetings you can learn about a
subject in greater detail than is feasible at
NVPCUG general meetings. SIG meetings
are open to everyone. Meeting times and
locations occasionally change, so for current
meeting information, see our Web site,, or contact the SIG leaders.
Digital Photography SIG
by Dianne Prior, NVPCUG Membership Director
We welcome new members Jim Gillespie, of Napa, and David Christensen, computer consultant, Home Help for Computers in Napa.
Thank you to the 21 members who have renewed. Many members whose
memberships expire in December still need to send in dues. Your continued support enables our group to bring you our various activities—including the newsletter and many interesting meetings. Please bring your dues to the Holidays
Party or mail them to NVPCUG, Attn.: Membership Director, PO Box 2866,
Napa, 94558-0286. Regular members, $30; Students, $20; and Associates, $10.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2005
Meets: Monthly, second Wednesday
7:00 to 8:30 p.m
Piner’s Nursing Home,
Conference Room
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Leader: Susy Ball
(707) 337-3998
[email protected]
Vice President
Orion E. Hill
(Volunteer Needed)
Julie Jerome
Roy Wagner
eBay SIG
Other Directors:
Dianne Prior, John Simcoe, James Stirling
Monthly, fourth Wednesday
7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Napa Valley Genealogical Library
1701 Menlo Ave., Napa
Leader: Tom Kessler
(707) 258-1884
[email protected]
Board of Directors
Investors SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
Macintosh SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Thursday
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Leader: Jim Gillespie
(707) 252-1665
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Recycling
Computer Tutor
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Greeter Coordinator
Membership Director
Mentor Program
Newsletter Circulator
Newsletter Editor
Product Review Coord.
Programs Director
Publicity Director
Random Access Moderator
Special Projects Director
Bill Wheadon
[email protected]
Mike Moore
[email protected]
Orion E. Hill
[email protected]
Steve Siegrist
[email protected]
Bob Simmerman
Marcia Waddell
Dianne Prior
Hilton Des Roches
Jim Hearn
James Stirling
Marcia Waddell
(Volunteer Needed)
John Simcoe
Jerry Brown
(Volunteer Needed)
Ron Dack
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
*All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
Computer News (ISS 0897-5744) is published monthly by the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O. Box 2866,
Napa, CA 94558-0286. Subscriptions: $30 for one year (12 issues ). Editor: James Stirling, [email protected] The material in Computer News
is intended for noncommercial purposes and may not be reproduced without prior written permission, except that permission for reproducing articles, with authors properly credited, is granted to other computer user groups for their internal, nonprofit use only. The information in this newsletter is believed to be correct. However, the NVPCUG can assume neither responsibility for errors or omissions nor liability for any damages resulting from the use or misuse of any information.
The NVPCUG is an IRC 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit educational organization (EIN 68-0069663) and is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization. Donations to the NVPCUG are tax-deductible as charitable contributions to
the extent allowed by law. Copyright © 2005 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 4
Locked Out of Your Computer?
Vinny LaBash, Sarasota PC Users Group, Florida
Some time ago one of my students came to me with
what appeared to be an insurmountable problem. She had
lent her laptop to a relative who changed the password
allowing her access to the hard drive. A dispute
developed between the two, and the relative refused to
disclose the new password. Upon boot-up, a message
appeared that the hard drive was now password protected.
She asked me, “How can I break this password and access
my computer”?
I had mixed feelings. Most people ask me how to
protect their data and equipment, and prevent
unauthorized access. I was now being asked to break into
a machine. Even though the woman was the legitimate
owner of the laptop and the data recorded on it, it felt
strange to be on the other side of the fence. After dusting
off my notes, we tackled the problem.
Before revealing what actually worked, let’s examine
what you can do if you are ever locked out of your own
We started with the presumption that the password was
embedded in the BIOS, which stands for Basic Input/
Output System. Your BIOS is a set of instructions that
tells the computer who it is and what it has. Imagine that
every morning you wake up with total amnesia and
someone has to tell you not only who you are but how to
walk, talk, read, and use your brain. The BIOS is like
To make things more obtuse, the settings in the BIOS
are dynamic. They need some kind of electric power to
work. If you take out the battery on your motherboard or
let it drain, the BIOS settings are lost. What saves you is
that the BIOS resides in ROM (Read Only Memory),
which is not battery dependent.
Try resetting the BIOS to its defaults. This can be done
by removing the CMOS battery after turning the computer
off. The CMOS battery is about the size of a five-cent
piece, and you’ll find it on the motherboard. Some
motherboards will let you reset the BIOS by using
jumpers. Your owner’s manual may be helpful. If you
don’t have an owner’s manual, go to the manufacturer’s
Web site, and look for an online version. Some sites list
the default BIOS password. Don’t hesitate to call the
manufacturer and ask for help. Sometimes the company
will have a master password, but you will need to provide
the serial number of the machine. If you’re dealing with a
laptop, the manufacturer may have more stringent
requirements for proof of ownership, since theft is a
serious issue with these machines.
Many people use dumb passwords like their pet’s
name, child’s birthday, anniversary or birth dates,
employer’s name, brand of car, etc. Generic passwords
[email protected]
like these examples can be easily defeated. Don’t forget
to try “password.” I never cease to be amazed at how
often this works. The other two most common passwords
are God and love.
BIOS manufacturers have their own list of passwords.
This Web site may be helpful:
There are cracking programs that will reveal passwords
in many cases. If you decide to go this route, make sure
you check for viruses. You can find free programs at the
following sites:
Before accusing me of giving lessons on how to hijack
computers, keep in mind that the bad guys already know
these tricks and a lot more. There is nothing immoral or
illegal about trying to retrieve your own data.
More drastic steps would be to take your machine to a
computer repair shop and have the BIOS replaced. You
could also have the hard drive replaced, but this would
mean losing all information on the disk, and you would
need to reinstall your operating system and applications.
What finally worked? The woman baked her cousin’s
favorite pie and sent her daughter to deliver it as a peace
offering. The password was shortly forthcoming. Go
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Come to the NVPCUG General
Held the third Wednesday of each
month, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
(except in December)
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 5
USB Flash Drives
By Brian K. Lewis, Ph.D.
You may already be familiar with the small USB
flash drives that plug into a USB port. However, you may
know them by another name. Flash drives, JumpDrives™,
Pocket drives™, Pen drives™, and Thumb drives™ are
all names for the same thing. They are a solid-state medium for storing data, music, photos, and/or applications.
Now there is also a new version, the U3 smart-computing
platform, which allows the user to carry applications and
data from one computer to another and to launch the applications on any USB-equipped computer. Many flash
drive manufacturers are already jumping on this bandwagon and producing U3-based drives. Since flash drives
are growing in capacity, functions and speed, they will
probably be important in your computing future. So let's
take a closer look at them.
A flash drive consists of a solid-state circuit board inside a plastic casing. Most of these casings are strong
enough to stand some substantial abuse. My one gigabyte
(GB) drive has managed to fall on the floor several times
and it “still keeps on ticking,” as the saying goes. It tolerates this kind of abuse because it has no moving parts.
Imagine if this had been a magnetic hard drive with several spinning platters and a movable read/write head. Just
one fall could knock it completely out of alignment and
cause it to fail. So that is one advantage of the flash drive.
Another is its portability. Flash drives are small and very
lightweight. Mine measures 2 ¾ inches by ¾ inch x ½
inch. They can easily be carried in a pocket or strung on a
lanyard or a key chain. The USB A type connector on
these drives is frequently covered by a plastic cap that
protects the connector.
Flash drives are powered directly from the USB port
on the computer. When they are disconnected, the information stored in them is retained, not lost. The silicon
chips used in flash drives are referred to as a form of nonvolatile memory. The RAM memory in your computer
requires constant electrical input to retain information.
The same is true of the BIOS chip. But flash drives retain
information for greatly extended periods of time without
any electrical input. Some estimates indicate data can be
retained for periods of up to ten years, possibly longer.
Flash drives also have low power requirements, needing only the five volts and 100-500 milli-Amps provided
by the USB port. However, their power demands are such
that they generally will not run when plugged into a nonpowered hub. You are always better off to directly connect the drive to the computer's USB port.
Flash memory was originally developed in 1988 and
has seen considerable use in storage for digital cameras.
(For the technically minded, flash memory is based on
NAND gates where the transistors have two inputs and
Sarasota PCUG, Florida
one output.) Some smart phones and PDAs are now using
nonvolatile flash memory to retain information when the
device is turned off. This reduces the drain on the device's
battery. Flash drives are believed to work for up to 10,000
write/erase operations. However, some sources indicate
that flash drives can survive for up to ten million operational or write/erase cycles. Even so, all this indicates that
flash drives have a finite life span. To me, this life span
seems to exceed that of a standard hard drive, which is
supposed to operate for up to half a million hours. In
practice we know that hard drives generally fail much
sooner than that. So a flash drive having a finite life span
is really no different than a hard drive.
Flash drives now on the market have capacities of 3 –
4 gigabytes. Samsung has also announced a flash chip
capable of storing 16 gigabits. (Note that this is bits, not
bytes.) It would take 16 of these chips to make a 32 gigabyte drive. As an indication of what is coming, BitMicro
has announced a 155 gigabyte flash drive!
Obviously, the flash drive has many advantages over
other removable media such as floppy disks, CD-ROMs,
ZIP disks and others. Unlike Zip disks, floppies and CDs,
flash memory lacks moving parts, making it ideal as a
simple solution, requiring only a port to interact with a
system. It doesn't require any special hardware, it is
smaller, more portable and it is not as likely to develop
storage errors. Flash storage devices, compared to other
storage media, are fast, high-capacity, durable, and compact. Some computers can already boot from a flash drive
that makes them an ideal replacement for bootable floppies or CDs.
Floppy drives are not even included in many new
computers. As flash drives already exceed the capacity of
CD's, they are becoming a replacement for them. Certainly they are more portable than a CD or a DVD and
only require a USB port to run on any computer running
Windows XP. They can be run on Windows 98, providing
the manufacturer's specific driver is installed. Additionally, flash drives are not subject to scratches, dust, coffee
or other liquid spills. In fact, some have survived being
passed through a washing machine! However, this is not
recommended treatment for them. The popularity of flash
storage devices may be attributed to their compact size,
operating system compatibility, and their use of the standard USB interface.
With all of their capabilities, it is possible to foresee
some applications for flash drives that may show up in a
reasonable period of time. For example, if the read/write
speeds can be increased to a level comparable to that of
current RAM memory, flash memory could then replace
RAM chips. If the cost of flash memory is also reduced,
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 6
then it could be used to replace the current computer hard
drives. Think about what this would do to the size of
computers and their power requirements. Think about
replacing that 10,000 rpm hard drive and its casing with a
flash drive that can be connected to any computer's USB
port. Certainly if we can produce 155 GB drives now,
what will the capacity be in a few more years?
Earlier, I mentioned the new U3 (smart drive) specification for flash drives. This allows applications to be developed that can be stored and run from a flash drive.
Software is already available for such drives. One such
example is Mozilla's Firefox browser and their Thunderbird e-mail software. There are other applications that
synchronize office files, folders and Outlook e-mail between a computer and a U3 flash drive. There is a version
of Pass2Go that securely stores passwords, banking and
credit card information on these USB smart drives. Also
announced are photo-management software and instantmessaging programs. Skype, a VoIP provider, has announced a U3 version of their software that would permit
voice calls over any computer with a U3 flash drive. The
U3 flash drives and the associated software will run only
on computers using Windows XP and Windows 2000. A
Linux version is expected to be announced shortly.
The U3 smart drive contains software that functions as
a “launchpad” to provide a menu of applications on the
flash drive. It also has options for drive management and
a link that leads users to a Web site where they can obtain
additional U3-compliant software. When the drive is removed from the USB port, the system software automatically shuts down any applications running on the USB
drive and cleans out data fragments, so no personal information is left behind on the computer. This U3 system
software uses about 6 MB of the drive's capacity and
loads within 30 seconds after the drive is plugged into the
USB port. One result of this capability is that the U3 compatible flash drive can become your “personal” computer.
Certainly it is even more portable than any laptop computer.
The day may come when your computer will be not
much more than a motherboard, sound cards, wireless
ethernet and USB ports. This reduces the moving parts to
not more than a cooling fan, if that. All of the software
and data will be on your flash drive. The face of computing is continuing to change. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Dr. Lewis is a former university and medical school professor who has been working with personal computers for more
than thirty years.
He can be reached via e-mail:
[email protected]
Tid Bits
by Gregory West, Editor, SCUG Report, Sarnia Computer User Group, Canada
Biometric Thumb Drive
According to, what is known as a
“fingerprint reader” is the first USB drive with built-in
biometric authentication, or a "Bio Computer-On-aStick." Most thumb or flash drives will only store your
files; Bionopoly does much more and for about the same
price as the others. This gadget claims it "will pave the
way for you to do away with the usual startup process of
your computer and directly boot to it. This is because
the bootable USB flash drive has a built-in operating
system of its own. The system further contains OpenOffice to support Microsoft Office files, the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, an e-mail client, as well as an instantmessaging client which supports services like Yahoo
and AOL, and a PDF creating program." Fabulous features; however I am going to wait until they offer more
GBs of storage ...and the price wars really begin. The 1gigabyte model sells for $149; the company expects to
produce others with capacities up to 8 gigs. Find it at
Extra protection for your Firefox
One of the reasons Firefox is safer than IE is that
Firefox does not entertain Active X-Controls. Now
Firefox gets even safer with a new "NoScript" control
feature. "NoScript" is a program designed for the Fire-
fox browser to allow you to control Web sites from
automatically using JavaScript, Java. You control
which sites you want to use these features, the sites you
trust such as your "home-banking" Web site.
"This whitelist-based preemptive blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even unknown!) with no loss of
Staying safe has never been so easy! Experts will
agree: Firefox is really safer with NoScript. Go to For all Firefox extensions go
Convert Your Files to PDF
Fast and free. It doesn't get much simpler to make your
own PDF creations. Some free PDF makers insert advertising or watermarks, but not the CutePDF utility. And to
make things even better, this program's "configuration
choices are pretty close to nil" (PCWorld November
2005). Get the full details and program download here:
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 7
Legal Bytes: What is CALEA and Will It Affect My Life?
By John Brewer, Computer Club of Oklahoma City eMonitor, November 2005
In 1994, Congress passed a law known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994
(CALEA). The purpose of CALEA is to define the existing statutory obligation of telecommunications carriers to
assist law enforcement in executing electronic surveillance pursuant to court order or other lawful authorization
and requires carriers to design or modify their systems to
ensure that lawfully authorized electronic surveillance can
be performed. That is a mouthful.
In simple terms, the focus is electronic surveillance of
telephone calls. A bit of history preceding the enactment
of CALEA is helpful.
Electronic surveillance consists of either the interception of call content (commonly referred to as wiretaps)
and/or the interception of call-identifying information
(commonly referred to as dialed-number extraction)
through the use of pen registers and/or trap-and-trace devices. Lawfully authorized electronic surveillance is considered to be an invaluable tool for law enforcement in its
fight against crime and terrorism.
In 1968, Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Control
and Safe Streets Act, which laid out the meticulous procedures law enforcement must follow to obtain the necessary judicial authorization to conduct electronic surveillance. The law was enacted after Congress debated issues
concerning law enforcement's need to effectively address
serious criminal activity and an individual's right to privacy.
In 1970, Congress amended the federal wiretap statute
to make clear the duty of service providers and others to
provide law enforcement with the technical and other assistance necessary to accomplish the intercept.
In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to safeguard national security by
authorizing select government agencies to conduct electronic surveillance of a foreign power or an agent of a
foreign power for the purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence information.
In 1986, as a result of developments in telecommunications and computer technologies, Congress enacted the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which amended
the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act by
broadening its coverage to include electronic communications (including e-mail, data transmissions, faxes, and
The provisions of Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, as amended, continue to govern
the U.S. procedures for obtaining legal authority for initiating and conducting lawful interceptions of wire, oral,
and electronic communications.
CALEA seeks to expand the capabilities of law en-
forcement agencies to perform electronic surveillance and
stay current with changes in technology. The issue that
has become a current controversy is the cost of compliance by the private sector. A term that is attached to this
sort of compliance issue is “unfunded mandate.”
A recent article in the New York Times addresses
CALEA and the cost of compliance. “The federal government, vastly extending the reach of an 11-year-old law, is
requiring hundreds of universities, online communications companies and cities to overhaul their Internet computer networks to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to monitor e-mail and other online communications. The action, which the government says is intended
to help catch terrorists and other criminals, has unleashed
protests and the threat of lawsuits from universities,
which argue that it will cost them at least $7 billion, while
doing little to apprehend lawbreakers. The order, issued
by the Federal Communications Commission in August
and first published in the Federal Register last week, extends the provisions of a 1994 wiretap law not only to
universities, but also to libraries, airports providing wireless service and commercial Internet access providers. It
also applies to municipalities that provide Internet access
to residents, be they rural towns or cities like Philadelphia
and San Francisco, which have plans to build their own
Net access networks.”
The technology that has created the sudden brouhaha
is the ability to make telephone calls over the Internet.
Internet traffic is sent in packets of data, and they do not
necessarily follow each other in a constant stream of traffic. In fact, they are often sent through different Internet
routes and assembled at the receiving end.
According to the New York Times article, “technology
experts retained by the schools estimated that it could cost
universities at least $7 billion just to buy the Internet
switches and routers necessary for compliance. That figure does not include installation or the costs of hiring and
training staff to oversee the sophisticated circuitry around
the clock, as the law requires, the experts said.” Terry
Hartle, a senior vice-president of the American Council
on Education, is quoted as stating, “This is the mother of
all unfunded mandates. Even the lowest estimates of compliance costs would, on average, increase annual tuition at
most American universities by some $450, at a time when
rising education costs are already a sore point with parents and members of Congress.”
On October 25, 2005, a coalition of public interest and
business groups asked the federal appeals court for the
District of Columbia to overturn the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling requiring that broadband
Internet and interconnected voice-over Internet Protocol
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 8
TEL, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic
(VOIP) be designed to make government wirePrivacy Information Center, and Sun Microtapping easier.
have joined NVPCUG. Jim has been a
The merger of the voice telephone system and the
dered distributors of broadband and certain VOIP serleader in the Mac Users Group for many years and will be heading the Mac SIG. David is a computer consultInternet has created new challenges that are yet to be revices to comply with the CALEA. CALEA requires teleant doing
Home their
Help systems
for Computers.
courses he's completed is the Computer Hardware
to ensure
a of the
baseline level of government wiretapping capability.
John Brewer practices law in Oklahoma City, is a member
Some experts opine that when Congress passed CALEA
of the Governor’s and Legislative Task Force for E-Commerce,
in 1994 it specifically exempted the Internet from its
and enjoys issues relating to eBusiness and cyberspace. Comreach.
ments and questions are welcome and can be emailed to
The civil liberties, privacy and high-tech industry [email protected]
vocates opposing the FCC ruling warn that it extends the
wiretapping rules to technologies it was never intended to
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this matecover, imposes a burdensome government mandate on
rial is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a
innovators and threatens the privacy rights of individuals
prior interest in receiving the included information for rewho use the Internet and other new communications techsearch and educational purposes. The article may contain
sources for content as attributed within the article.
The appeal was filed by a number of parties that inThe Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
clude the Center for Democracy and Technology, COMPComputer User Groups has provided this article .
What Comes After You Have Your Pictures in Tip-Top Shape?
by Donald Cummins, APCUG Representative, Fresno Personal Computer Users Group, California
Paper and ink are a team – one without the other is
just paper or ink. Paper is one of the least understood or
overlooked items.
Paper should be used with care. A wedding picture
may be a total loss if you put it on the incorrect type of
paper. If the picture is taken on the soft side (not very
sharp) and printed on very glossy paper, it will look out of
focus. It would be much better if it is printed on less
glossy paper or, even better, on a matte-finish paper.
Many of the wedding photos may need to be printed on a
number of different types of paper to find the best results.
At the same time, the ink cartridges may need to be
changed from one group of photos to another.
Some people feel you should use only one brand of
paper that is made for your brand of printer; e.g. Epson
printer should use only Epson paper and Epson original
ink cartridges. They say do not “mix and match.“ Others
say, stick with one brand of paper or ink and know everything about them. This can be a huge effort at the beginning but may pay off later. Each photo should be and
must be looked upon as being unique unto itself.
Now this is where ink comes into play. There are two
types of ink dye and pigment. Dye inks produce somewhat brighter colors and are prone to fading. They now
may last 10 years or longer. Pigment inks are less bright
and last longer than dye ink on photos.
Some feel that the larger number of dots per inch is
one of the biggest things that will enhance the finished
photo. The other side says 1440 dpi is all you really need.
The droplet size may be the finishing touch to the photo if
your printer can put down a droplet size of four picoliters
and/or smaller; this is too small for our eyes to see. Some
printers are even putting down droplets as small as 1.5
Does the ink bleed through or run or take forever to
dry and cause the paper to cup up? Some will lay down
the ink in a number of passes, and others may lay the ink
down in one pass. One may require the paper to move
through a number of rollers, and others will pass straight
One item that can affect the finished photo is how
thick the paper is. You need to check how the paper
moves through the printer, because the way it moves will
control how thick the paper can be.
Printers now have many more capabilities than four or
five years ago. They have more ink colors, ink placement
size, and speed than ever before.
For detailed printer information, check the following
Web sites for their information on printers, ink and paper
Epson –
Canon –
Hewlett-Packard –
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 9
Tips for Locating Misplaced Files
By Dave Gerber, APCUG Advisor, Region 5; Dave’s Bits & Bytes, A Periodic Newsletter
for the Members of the Sarasota PC User Group and the World; Director, Sarasota PCUG, Florida
([email protected])
Losing files on your PC is a lot like misplacing
your car keys in a cluttered apartment. You know that
the things you’re looking for are close by, but actually
finding and using them can be a challenge.
Unlike your apartment, though, Windows has a
helpful feature that can locate wayward items and save
you a good deal of frustration. In Windows 95/98
(Win9x), this feature is called Find. In Windows XP
and Windows Me, it’s called Search. There are also
third-party programs that can ensure that you never
have to endure the loss of an important file again.
In this article we’ll show you one of the more
popular ways to find lost files and some techniques to
keep you from losing them in the future. We’ll start by
covering the Find feature in Win9x. The WinMe and
WinXP version of this feature is significantly different
and warrants a separate explanation. Note, however,
that many of the tips included in the Win9x section
apply to later versions, so don’t skip ahead.
Find It In Windows 95 and Windows 98
There are two fast ways to access the Find feature
in Win9x. One method is to click Start, point to Find,
and click Files or Folders. Shortcut keys also work for
this feature; press Windows-F to display the search
program instantly. If you’re certain a file is in a specific folder, don’t use the Find feature from the Start
menu; a faster way is to press the F3 key in Win9x (or
CTRL-F in WinMe) when you’re already at the right
folder window or have the folder displayed in Windows Explorer. This will display the search window
already set to search the current folder.
Whatever technique you use to launch the Find
utility, you end up with a dialog box named Find All
Files. It has five menu options: File, Edit, View, Options, and Help. The Name and Location tab is the
most commonly used area of the Find command, as it
includes the Named and Look In text boxes. Win98
also has a Containing Text text box listed here. (In
Win95 this option is on the Advanced tab.) If you
know the name of the file you want to locate, just type
it in the Named text box, make sure the Look In path
is directed at the correct drive location, and click Find
Now. You'll know the search has started because the
magnifying glass icon begins to move in circles. When
the search is complete, matches appear in the results
window. This window shows all relevant information
about the file, such as file name, type, size, location,
and date modified. Remember that you don’t have to
let a search complete its examination; click the Stop
button to bring things to an immediate halt. This is
especially useful when you accidentally start a search
over a gargantuan hard drive that takes several minutes to inspect. There are many variables that can help
you narrow your searches and save time. If you’re
fairly certain of the folder in which a file is hiding,
click Browse on the Name and Location tab and specify the correct folder. On the other hand, you might
not have a clue as to which folder to look in; in that
case click the Include Subfolders checkbox to investigate a folder hierarchy from top to bottom. In all Windows versions, there are some other options that let
you control the search. The Date and Advanced tabs in
Win9x let you find files by type and size. The Containing Text text box lets you constrain results to those
with specific phrases in them. In Win9x an Include
Subfolders option lets you widen your search. (In
WinMe click Advanced Options, which lets you
Search Subfolders or look for file names using the
Case Sensitive option.)
Search Windows Me and Windows XP
WinMe and WinXP have their own version of the
Find command, called Search. To get started click
Start, point to Search and click For Files Or Folders,
or press Windows-F. You will see a Search Results
dialog box that’s laid out like a Web browser, complete with Back and Forward buttons.
In WinMe type the name of the file you need in the
Search For Files or Folders Named text box. The Containing Text option is listed just below, as are the various search options, such as Date, Type, Size, and Advanced Options, all of which work similarly to Win9x.
In WinXP you will need to select the type of file
you are looking for before you can begin a search. We
recommend selecting the All Files And Folders option
because it will search your entire hard drive for the
file. If that takes too long, the other options, such as
Pictures, Music, or Video, will narrow the search parameters and likely make the search more efficient.
Once you’ve outlined the parameters of your
search, click Search Now or Search. After Windows
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 10
completes a search, you can press F3 or CTRL-F to
alternately shrink and enlarge the Search Results window, providing more (or less) information about selected files on the left side of the screen.
Both operating systems have useful extras on the
left side the Search Results window, including image
file preview. In the past, when you wanted to know
what was in a mysterious graphics file (usually with a
file name extension such as .JPG, .BMP, or .TIF), you
had to open the file with a separate program, which
takes time. With WinXP and WinMe, you can use the
Preview function instead. Just click the file, and a tiny
version of the image appears in the Search Results
area. To see thumbnails in WinXP, from the View
menu, click Thumbnails to make image thumbnails
If it takes too much time to complete searches, you
may want to streamline the search process in WinXP
by using the Indexing Service feature. With this feature, your computer will maintain an up-to-date list of
the files on your hard drive, which makes subsequent
filename searches much faster.
To use the Indexing Service, in the Search Results
window, click Change Preferences in the left pane.
Click With Indexing Service and then click the Yes,
Enable Indexing Service radio button. Click OK, and
your PC will run the service when the computer is sitting idle.
Find files with dates. If you don’t find your files
with an initial search or WinXP index searches, you
might want to search for files by date. In Win9x from
the Start menu, point to Find and then click Files Or
Folders. In the Named Or text box, type *.xls (or
*.doc, or whatever file type you most often use). Click
the Date Or Date Modified tab and click Find All Files
Created Or Modified. Click the During The Previous
option and then adjust the number of days you’d like
this search to work for. (A week is probably a good
starting point.)
You can do this in WinMe by clicking the Date
checkbox. Select Files Modified, Files Created, or
Files Last Accessed from the drop-down menu. Then
click the In The Last option, followed by the number
of days you want the search to cover.
In WinXP after you click All Files And Folders,
you can enter part of the file name and then click
When Was It Modified? to narrow your search to a
range of dates. You can also use What Size Is It? and
More Advanced Options to make searches more specific; you can even include hidden files in the search if
you prefer. After you set the parameters in your OS,
run the search by clicking Find Now, Search Now, or
Windows Me’s Search feature works like the Find
option in previous Windows versions but has some
extra power under the hood.
Saving a search. Once your PC completes its file
hunt, you may want to save your search settings to
reduce the amount of data entry you have to complete
for your next complex search. After a search ends,
from the File menu, click Save Search. This saves a
shortcut on the Windows Desktop or a folder of your
choice with a name that refers to the search. When you
want to do a speedy search for commonly accessed
documents, just double-click the shortcut and the
search parameters will load automatically.
Win9x will also let you keep the results of searches,
plus the parameters that created those results. From
the Options menu, click Save Results. To create a
shortcut to these results, click Save Search from the
File menu.
More search options. More archaic computer
skills also sometimes come in handy for searches, the
best example of which is the use of older DOS commands to aid your search. The easiest to use is probably the asterisk symbol. It acts like a wildcard, standing in for at least one character in the name of the file
or folder you want. For instance, if you know you
want to find a file that ends in .INF but aren’t sure
what the first part of the file name is, you’d type
*.INF, which instructs the search utility to display
every file ending in .INF.
The question mark is also useful; unlike the asterisk, it replaces only one character in a name. For example, entering Sysfile?.DOC would find every file
with one character following the Sysfile name that
ends with .DOC. The search variable can also be used
together in flexible combinations. For example, enter
*dos?.* to locate file names with any filename extension and that start with any number of characters, following by “dos,” and then any single character.
Searching by file type is another useful parameter.
Select this option, and you’ll see dozens of file types
from which to choose. The best thing about this option
is that file types aren’t displayed with cryptic extensions. Instead, there’s a short description of the type
(an AOL e-mail, for instance).
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 11
Speed Up Your Computer – Clean Your “Startup”
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio and TV Show Host
Web sites referenced:, http:// and
I recently received several questions on my weekly
radio show (KLVI 560AM, Saturdays 1-3pm) and my TV
show (KEBQ-TV22, cable 99, Saturdays 4-5pm) about
computers that were slow to boot and had obvious performance degradation. While there are many causes of
this inadequate performance, such as a fragmented hard
drive, and other problems, one of the most common
causes of slow booting and poor performance is having
too many programs automatically load when the computer
is booting.
Fortunately, there are several good solutions and resources that can speed the boot problem and improve performance. The manual solution, available on most but not
all versions of Windows from Windows 98 to XP is to utilize the integrated command MSCONFIG. If available,
MSCONFIG can be accessed by clicking on START –
RUN and then typing “MSCONFIG” (no quotes, and it is
not case sensitive) in the box, and then click on “OK.” A
window will open showing several tabs, one of which will
be labeled “Start” or “Startup.” This will typically be a
white window with black print, showing a checkbox followed by a program name or path. Boxes that are
checked indicate a program that will load when the computer is booted. Unfortunately, as the computer is used,
and more software is installed, many programs like to
have themselves unnecessarily load at boot time, and
many viruses and Trojans also utilize this method to load
each time the computer is turned on.
While there are countless thousands of legitimate and
illicit Windows programs that want to load at boot, there
are several resources, some of them free, which can identify programs as necessary or unnecessary at boot. Once
identified, unchecking the appropriate box on the
MSCONFIG – STARTUP list may stop that program
from loading. An excellent and fairly up-to-date Web site
listing most of the items that may show up in the startup
box is the Paul Collins (a.k.a. “Pacman”) startup list
available at The user of this Web site
can enter either a program name from the startup list
(without the path; c:\directory\program.exe would only
use “program.exe”). Once the item is found on the Web
list, it is clearly described and labeled as: “Y” – Necessary, leave it alone; “N” – not required and could be
started manually if needed; “U” – Users’ choice; “X” –
Definitely not required, a resource hog, virus, spyware, or
other item that should not be loaded at boot; “?” – Unknown, not listed. If the file listed adjacent to the checkbox is listed as a “Y”, leave it checked, and if listed as
“X”, then uncheck the box. Items marked as “N” should
be unchecked, unless they are frequently used shortly after the computer is booted.
Many users are not comfortable performing such tasks
manually, but there are several utilities available that contain a startup manager to ease the process of deciding
what to allow to run, and what to stop. One free utility
that actually is intended for another function, but contains
an easy-to-use startup manager is the popular antispyware product Spybot Search and Destroy ( Since many spyware products install
themselves in the startup list, Spybot allows the user to
control those malware programs as well as all other
startup programs at boot. Download the Spybot, install
and update it, and then open it. Click on “Mode” on the
menu bar, and select “Advanced.” On the left side of the
window will be a choice of utilities. Go to “Tools” and
click on “System Startup.” This will load a list of programs loaded at boot, along with their corresponding
checkboxes. The right edge of the window has a narrow
gray bar with two triangular arrows, one right (close) and
one left (open); click on this bar and the data from Paul
Collins’ startup list (mentioned above) will be shown as
each listed item is clicked on. Necessary items are highlighted in green, and users’ choice items are highlighted
yellow. Dangerous and unnecessary items are highlighted
in red, and white items are unknown to “Pacman.” Unwanted items can have their corresponding “check” removed by clicking on the checkbox; this will stop the
item from loading at boot. Items can also be deleted using the red “X” at the top of the window. When Spybot is
exited, the changes to the startup will be saved, and
should not load at the next boot.
A reasonably priced ($20) commercial program that
offers greater power and flexibility to control what loads
when the computer boots is a British program “The Ultimate
at Open the program and click
“Startups”. Initially, startup programs will be labeled in
the traditional red (remove), yellow (personal choice),
green (leave it alone), and white (not listed). Upon clicking on any startup item a detailed description is displayed
on the bottom half of the window. Unchecking a box will
stop the item from loading at the next boot.
There are several other utilities that contain startup
managers, and most will do a satisfactory job. By cleaning the files that load at boot, the computer will boot
faster, have fewer software conflicts, run faster, shutdown
faster, and increase your computing satisfaction.
Contact Wilsker at [email protected]
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 12
Windows Recovery or Restore Disks: Problems and Alternatives
By Vic Laurie, Princeton PCUG, New Jersey
Once upon a time you received a copy of a full Windows installation disk when you bought a computer. This
allowed you to reinstall individual system files or Windows components if anything went wrong. But no longer.
These days the best you can hope for from many vendors
is a so-called “recovery” or “restore” disk”. And many
major vendors do not even provide that much. Instead
they put stuff on a hidden partition on the hard drive. This
is all the backup that you get, and if the hard drive
crashes, the hidden partition goes too. Then you have no
way of reinstalling Windows on a replacement hard drive
without getting a disk from the original PC vendor. From
what I read on the Web, this last process can take some
time and effort, if you succeed at all. If you are out of the
warranty period, you may be completely out of luck.
Some vendors may provide a Windows disk when you
buy a PC, if they are prodded hard enough. However,
there may be some kind of “handling and shipping” fee.
Note that, if you do finally get a disk, it will probably be
an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version and
may lack some features of a full-fledged version. Also
OEM versions of Windows are often not eligible for upgrades.
The failure to provide an actual Windows installation
disk with new computers is convenient for Microsoft and
the computer vendors, but it can be a real problem for the
PC user. There are many problems that can be fixed by
copying a single system file or reinstalling small portions
of the Windows operating system. Without an installation
disk, PC users need to have some other source for these
files. If you put a recovery disk into your CD drive, it will
want to reformat your hard drive and reinstall an image of
your computer that is a replica of the way your system
was on the day you bought it. Any changes that you have
made will be wiped out. All those programs you installed,
all those Microsoft patches, XP SP2, all of it will be gone.
The same thing applies when you restore from one of
those hidden partitions.
Therefore, an alternative is needed. At the very least, a
source of files for adding and removing Windows components and restoring corrupted files should be available.
Sometimes the vendor will have put the Windows installation files in the root of your hard drive or in the Windows
folder. In Windows XP look for a folder named
“I386” (without the quotes). If you do have one of these
folders, burn a copy to a CD for backup. This CD will not
have all the functions of an installation CD, since it will
not auto-run, nor will it boot. However, reinstallation can
be initiated by clicking the file Winnt32.exe (assuming
that you can get your system to boot). If you have a
FAT32 disk and can use DOS, Winnt.exe is the appropriate file to access from a DOS boot disk.
[email protected]
A problem is that you will have a disk that lacks any
of the multitudes of patches and updates that will have
come out since you bought your computer. Therefore, you
need to "slipstream" with the XP SP2 update. Slipstreaming is a way of merging updates with the original files so
that everything is updated. This is not a quick job, but it is
worth doing. An excellent detailed step-by-step procedure
is given at the Elder Geek site. If you can borrow a Windows XP installation disk (almost any version will do),
you can extract the image that is needed to make the CD
bootable and add that to the disk. Details for using common CD burning software to do all this is given at the
reference cited above (
One more problem can be getting the Windows XP
product key for your system. It may be pasted or written
somewhere in the documentation that came with your
computer. Be sure to make a permanent record of it. If
you cannot find the product key, there are several free
applications that will retrieve it from your system. One is
ViewKeyXP and is available at Another is Keyfinder, which is
available at
Also, system information applications like Belarc Adviser
can reveal the key.
At the end, you will still have something that provides
backup only for the Windows operating system. Since I
want to be able to restore everything, including software
that I have installed, I prefer to spend a few dollars and
use disk imaging software. It makes keeping up-to-date
backups on CDs or other external media very easy. Norton Ghost, BootIt Next Generation or Acronis True Image
are all reasonable choices.
For more information about the
visit our Web site:
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 13
Browsing WebRings: Communities of Web Sites
By Gabe Goldberg, APCUG Advisor, Region 2; Columnist, AARP Computers and Technology Web site
If the Internet is the largest library created in human
history, where are its card catalog and friendly librarians
to explain how the Internet's "shelves" are arranged?
Where's a rhyme and reason for how things are arranged,
and the Dewey Decimal System (
dewey/ ) when we need it most? Search engines and directories like Google ( and Yahoo!
( are helpful, but can be overwhelming.
And search results often appear jumbled, lacking the
comfort of neighborhood libraries which shelve related
books together—so that if you find an interesting mystery, cookbook, or science tome, its nearby shelf
neighbors may be an unanticipated bonus.
But the Internet does offer the equivalent of library
shelves, called WebRings ("rings" for short). Not stashed
where you can physically touch them, rings are linked
sets of Web sites concerned with specific topics.
So rings exist for diverse topics -- physical fitness,
photography, falconry, biking, etc. In fact, those topics
were all featured on http://, a directory of rings, on the day I
browsed it.
The WebRing concept is simple: Webmasters of sites
with a common theme agree to link to each other, and to a
hub Web site; each ring site includes links named Ring
Hub, Random, Previous, Next, and Join Now. A ring's
hub is like the center of a circle, with all the ring's sites
connected to it. The hub describes the ring, gives statistics
(how many Web sites belong, how many times the hub
has been visited, etc.), and lists member sites with brief
descriptions. combines aspects of a portal site
(linking to WebRing-related information and resources), a
directory site (providing categories of rings such as Business & Finance, Family & Home, Health & Wellness, and
Hobbies & Crafts), and a search tool. Searching is helpful
when you're not sure which category includes your topic
of interest or when the topic may span categories. For
example, searching on "gardening" located 128 WebRings. That doesn't sound like many, but remember that
each ring includes a few, dozens, hundreds, or thousands
of individual sites. Among the first 20 rings, Friends of
ring=friendsgarden) has the most members, 243 Web
sites. Its cheery greeting reads "Welcome to Friends of
the Garden Web Ring. We are the largest gardening Web
ring in the WebRing Community! Please visit our members and if you have a gardening web page, consider joining! We welcome both the backyard gardener with his
own home page or the commercial grower. All have
something interesting to add to our virtual garden tour."
Navigating by topics provides a hierarchical view of its thousands of WebRings -- for example,
clicking the Science category yields about two dozen disciplines including Astronomy, Biology, Ecology, Energy,
etc. Biology includes an amazing 3,200 rings, while the
new science of Nanotechnology has only one ring.
Ring hubs offer a unique search tool with two pulldown menu choices. You can enter a keyword and search
only the ring whose hub you're viewing (the Ring choice),
or search the entire list of rings (the WebRing search choice). Searching within the ring can help
narrow search results. For example, the Amateur and Pro
Photography ring has 87 sites. If I'm interested in English
photography, rather than touring the entire ring—
entertaining though that might be—I can use the ring
search for "England" and find the four relevant sites.
Clicking the Random link is like closing your eyes and
hopping to an unknown site—it can be entertaining or
not, depending on luck. Previous/Next links navigate
around a ring's sites so you'll eventually return to your
starting point. And Join Now is for Webmasters to enroll
sites within a ring; this requires first creating a free account on
WebRings don't replace search engines, directories,
portals, one's own bookmarks, and referrals from friends
for finding worthwhile material. And they only link sites
that have chosen to enroll. But they're a useful and powerful tool for locating and navigating congenial and related
Web sites, and they give topics such as gardening and
photography much more a sense of community than do
bare links from a search engine.
This article originated on AARP's Computers and
Technology Web site,, and is
copyrighted by AARP. All rights are reserved; it may be
reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, or transferred, for
single use, or by nonprofit organizations for educational
purposes, with attribution to AARP. It should be unchanged and this paragraph included. Please e-mail Gabe
Goldberg at [email protected] when you use it, or for
permission to excerpt or condense.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 14
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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 94558-0286.
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your
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For more information about the NVPCUG, visit our
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NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 15
Buying a PC for the Holidays
By Vinnie Labash, Sarasota PCUG, Florida [email protected]
Don't buy a low-end PC this year if you have any
plans of moving to Microsoft's new Vista operating system next year. If you're sticking with XP, almost anything
will do, even video that's integrated with the motherboard.
Vista is not due for almost a year, but a little forethought
before buying will prevent much regret in 2006. I say this
because if Microsoft keeps only half its promises about
new features and improved security in Vista, most of its
customers will want to make the move to the new operating system. If your computer's specifications are too weak
or only marginally acceptable to Vista, you will either not
be able to upgrade or wish you hadn't tried.
Let's start with the processor. You don't a need top-ofthe-line CPU, but don't buy any thing that's less than midrange. Either Intel or AMD will do, and you should
probably go for a dual-core processor for added speed and
processing muscle. By the time Vista is on the scene, a lot
more 64-bit software may be on hand. A 64 bit processor
makes good sense since it can also handle today's 32 bit
Microsoft appears likely to make 512MB of RAM its
minimum requirement. Never settle for minimum requirements with memory. I'm sure you could fly cross-country
in a two-seat one-engine monoplane, but your flight
would be much more comfortable if you were sipping
your favorite beverage while lounging in a high powered
commercial passenger jet. Memory is cheap. Buy at least
one gigabyte of memory, two if you decide on a 64-bit
Only masochists should buy a machine with video
that's integrated with chips on the motherboard. Integrated
video shares your processor memory with your applications and often results in poor performance. Buy the
cheapest video card that has at least 256MB of on-board
RAM. You will be happy.
You will need a fast DVD drive that is capable of recording multiple formats. This is an ideal storage medium
for backups. Get two. They're not prohibitively expensive
any more.
More and more people have digital cameras, picturephones, music players, video-cams, and other peripherals
which attach to computers in one fashion or another.
Look for a machine with at least six USB 2.0 connectors.
It doesn't hurt to have one IEEE 1394, or Firewire connector.
You owe it to yourself to have a 17" or larger flat
panel monitor. Don't tell me you can't afford it. Dell
makes a 23" outstanding flat panel device for less than
$1,000. Even good 19" monitors can be had for $450 or
Hard disk space has never been cheaper. Dual 250GB
hard drives need not be an extravagance this holiday season if you want the space for music and video files. Optionally, install RAID 1 for disk mirroring and instant
automatic backup. If one hard drive is enough, an external
USB 2.0 connected hard drive is an excellent backup device. Audiophiles can consult Creative Labs and drool
over X-Fi Elite Pro. Then spring for good speakers with a
subwoofer. The rest of us can be content with audio chips
integrated with the motherboard.
Media center PCs come with remote control devices
and a TV tuner. They are meant to be operated from a
distance to play music, present slide shows, view photos,
and watch TV. Don't buy the cheapest machines because
they leave out a lot of important features.
Most salespeople are paid on a combination of salary,
commissions, and bonuses for selling specific makes and
models. Know what you are looking for before visiting a
showroom, and don't let a sales person talk you into more
or less machine than you want. It's a very good idea to
come to your next PC User Group meeting and get the
best advice from all the friendly people you will meet
there. Many of them will help you configure your new
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286
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NVPCUG Computer News, December 2005, Page 16
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