Jan. 2003

Jan. 2003
Monthly Newsletter for Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group Members
Tuesday, January 14, 6:30 p.m. at Sunny Hills Racquet Club, Fullerton — Bring a friend!
Easy-to-use Alpha Five database to be demonstrated
Alpha Five
Version 5, the
newest release of
Alpha Software
Inc.’s award
database product
that is truly the
combination of
speed, ease of
use and power will be introduced to
our group by Doug Chanley, an Alpha
Software representative.
Alpha Five is ideal for novice and
expert users alike to effectively and
efficiently manage data.
Alpha Five Version 5 is the most
feature-filled database and application
development tool ever released by
Alpha Software in its twenty year
history. You will be able to track,
report and manage any information —
be it about people, projects, images,
equipment or facilities.
A virtually limitless supply of
carefully and logically thought out
Genies make Version 5 of Alpha Five
extremely easy to use.
Version 5s revolutionary and
innovative application scripting
capability makes you self-sufficient in
terms of being able to build
sophisticated, customized and highly
automated applications and solutions
for your particular business or
You will find Alpha Five Version 5
is designed to provide you with
enormous power and flexibility in
manipulating and reporting on data,
without requiring that you acquire
programming skills.
One of the customers of Version 5
summed it up by stating, “Version 5 is
a superb product—you don’t have to
know how to use it—just let Alpha
Five know what you want to
accomplish, sit back and relax and
watch Alpha Five Version 5 do the rest
for you.”
• “If you’re looking for a database
that’s easier to use than Microsoft
Access and yet offers plenty of power,
then you would do well to consider
the venerable Alpha Five—a simple,
powerful, and elegant relational
database.” - PC World
• “Alpha Five combines the ease of
Approach with the power of FoxPro,
while leaving Access in the dust.”
• “With Alpha
Five’s extensive
field rules,
strong reporting,
Genies (wizards), and more than 35
templates, you can create databases
and full applications effortlessly and
rapidly” - PC Magazine
• “Alpha Five for Windows is a very
easy-to-use, robustly featured and
generally excellent DBMS”
- Computer Shopper
• “A cure for database fears. Alpha
Five is a fully relational database
that is easy to use” - Home Office
Download the free trial version at:
Contact Alpha Software, Inc. at 83
Cambridge Street, Burlington,
Massachusetts 01803-4483; 781-2294500, fax: 781-272-4876. Or visit
Alpha Software on the web at http://
y 2003
Volume 21 - Number 1
Holiday Edition
Raffle Winners — Special Insert
on Members’ Only! web page
by Linda Gonse
Whoa and more woe…
The new year has barely started and I
have already spent an entire day and
evening getting my computer back up
and running due to a program problem.
It all began late last year, though.
So, this year should not be saddled
with the blame for my bad luck.
Here’s what happened. For a couple
of years I happily enjoyed the free
version of ZoneAlarm. Then, I decided
to show my appreciation for a great
firewall and to support ZoneLabs in
developing future applications. I
bought Zone Alarm Pro 2.6. It cost
$39.95 and, at the time, Ad Subtract
was thrown in free. Altogether a great
Soon, I was getting automatic
reminders to upgrade to ZoneAlarm
Pro 3.1.395. I checked online reviews,
but three sites showed 1/3 of the users
were negative, so I postponed the
upgrade. Along about November
though, I decided to upgrade. And,
that’s when my problems began.
Uploaded web pages were corrupted when ZoneAlarm was running. The setting that converted incoming email attachments to a .zla
extension wouldn’t turn off. (Consequently, .zla files couldn’t be shared.)
It dialed the Internet without my
permission. It conflicted with my
new HP 1200 Series printer, causing
it to hang intermittantly. But, the
worst was yet to come.
I decided to remove ZA. Bad idea.
It wouldn’t go willingly with Uninstall
and I got into a real jam involving the
Blue Screen of Death. Then, ZA cut
off my Internet connectivity, due to
the uninstall attempt, because its
programming indicated a hacker
attack. Afterward, web sites and
email were unreachable, with one
exception. On dial-up, ZA went to a
ZoneLabs web page which gave
instructions on what to do to restore
regular Internet connectivity.
The uninstall attempt and the
recovery process wasted over an hour
and took a few years off my life.
I found ZA’s tech support
number on its web page and called.
But the phone recording directed me
to its web page. I went to the web
page and emailed tech support. I
received an automatic response
giving the instructions that I had
already found on the web page.
Evidently, there is no living person
in tech support… or, maybe anywhere
at the company.
Out of spare time and resigned to
my fate, I hunkered down for longterm cohabitation with the unwelcome
ZoneAlarm upgrade.
But, this month, in the course of
trying to troubleshoot a conflict with
my new HP printer, ZA got its feathers
ruffled and shut off my Internet
connection again! This time ZoneLab’s
instructions didn’t work, and I drove to
Orange County for help from Siles
Bazerman. Frustrating hours later, the
computer was Zone Alarm free!
When I got home, I excitedly used
my dial-up connection—only to be
taken to ZoneAlarm’s page! No other
Internet address could be accessed!
Over the phone, Siles and I decided
that four files left from ZA in C:\
Windows\System probably had
blocked my connection. They were:
vsdata.dll, vsdatant.sys, vsmonapi.dll,
and vspubapi.dll. I deleted them and
was back in business once more!
Now, I am here just to tell you
about this Upgrade from Hell. (To be
fair, some people including Siles, have
had no problems.) But, if you do have
trouble—trust me—it will be a doozy
and you can kiss off ZA’s tech support
and try to fight the upgrade to the
death, as best you can!
Better yet, just don’t go there!
Letters to the editor
! Tech tips on web
I am not sure if you are aware of this
site. But it has some good articles in it,
you never know when a person needs a
little help.
Anyway, I thought it might be
interesting to scroll through, so here is
the link: http://www.bootdisk .com/
Terry Terrazas
Published and distributed to club members by the
Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group
The opinions expressed herein are the writers.
They are not reflective of the Orange County IBM
PC Users’ Group position, and are not endorsed
by inclusion in this newsletter.
Submit items to the newsletter editor at:
editor@orcopug.org; or Linda Gonse, 22655
Valley Vista Circle, Wildomar, CA 92595-8334
(909) 245-0291.
President, Mike Lyons
Vice President, OPEN
SYSOP, Charlie Moore
Editor/Webmaster, Linda Gonse
Reviews, Terry Schiele
Programs, Lothar Loehr
Membership, Carl Westberg
APCUG Rep, Siles Bazerman
P.O. Box 716, Brea, CA 92822-0716
(714) 990-0580
Visit ORCOPUG online!
Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group, January 2003
Recommendations for
Christmas upgrader
by Siles Bazerman
Talk about serendipity. Just as I was trying to come up with an idea for this
month’s article I received the following e-mail question.
Santa was VERY good to me this year. This will allow me to upgrade my
current computer which is a 733 MHz PIII.
1. I am thinking of doing what I have done in the past i.e. new parts
intermingled with old, SCSI hard drive etc.
1. Don’t need the fastest chip available.
2. Want 5 expansion slots. (I don’t know why but I always seem to be
running out of room.)
3. USB 2.0
4. Don’t need to save my old memory.
5. Built in NIC would be good.
Would like your recommendations.
Also I am considering a new antivirus. I have been using Norton System
Works Pro 2002 but I removed it because of computer problems and had to
remove NAV along with it, no selective uninstall available. In order not to lose
protection I am using NAV 2003 trial. To purchase this as a standalone seems
high compared to others. I can get a deal on Panda AV, any suggestions here
What follows is based on both my experience and the summation of
communications I have received regarding these questions by a number of people
I consider hardware gurus. I also would like to recommend the following two
sources for more detailed information; www.tomshardware.com for reviews and
tests of both motherboards and CPUs, and for those that like to play
www.overclockers.com, self explanatory.
First, decide on your CPU since there are several form factors now on the
market. The form factor must be known before picking a motherboard so that it
will fit. Regardless of which you choose, Intel P 4, Celeron P4, or AMD Athalon
XP, I would go for the .13 micron technology. These are not only the latest and
fastest chips on the market but because of the technology are the coolest running
CPUs available. If you overclock, the Celeron is your best bet, and the other sets
are dependant on how you feel about Intel. One thing to remember is that the
AMD CPUs are numbered as to what AMD feels is the performance compared to
a P4. The chip will actually run at a lower speed. Athalon XP chips will run
hotter than Intel chips and must, repeat must, have better cooling. Also, whatever
you pick, a newer faster CPU will be available as soon as you get home.
Now to pick a motherboard. If you are reusing your case you have to be sure
the new board is the same form factor as the old, otherwise get a new case. The
socket form will be determined by your CPU. Most new motherboards have built
in NICs and five or six PCI slots. The also have an AGP slot or built in video.
There are less memory slots available, but that is because memory cards have
grown larger over the past several years. I have no experience with Athalon XP
Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group, January 2003
motherboards so would rely on Tom’s
for reviews and recommendations. For
both Intel chips I would, if I could
afford it, go for an Intel board. If not, I
would pick one with the Intel i485
chipset. My current board has a VIA
chipset, and I have had no problems
with it, but have heard many reports of
problems. If you do get a board with a
VIA chipset immediately download the
latest 4in1 drivers. Even though your
board is new there is no telling when
the CD with drivers was produced or
how many revisions have been
released since then. Also look for a
board that will exceed the speed of
your CPU in case you want to upgrade
I would recommend DDR memory
rather than SDRAM because it is
faster and also will run at higher front
side buss speed. Personally I would go
for the fastest (400 to 500) FSB I
could get and 2700 DDR.
For memory I would get as much
as I think I would need and at least
50% more. As speeds go up, systems
are much more sensitive to variations
and errors in memory. One hundred
twenty-eight megs is the minimum
required for Windows XP but 256 meg
is the generally recommended amount.
On a new system I would look for 512
meg or even 1 g of memory. I also
would buy CPU, MB and memory
from one source and at one time. That
gives the best chance of everything
working together. Also, packages may
help you save a little money.
I forgot to mention one thing
regarding motherboards. Look for
MBs that allow built-ins (sound, video
and NIC) to be disabled. If not, you
will not be able to upgrade or to turn
off a malfunctioning item. USB 2 will
probably be supported on the latest
MB; but if not, an add in card will
work. USB 1 devices will work on
USB 2 but at the slower speed of USB
1. Drivers will, or should be, supplied
with the USB 2 device.
Regarding antivirus programs, I
use Norton Antivirus 2003. I have
used Panda. PC-Cillin, AVG and
several others. I prefer NAV as I like
its e-mail protection, auto-protect
feature and regular updates and
security alerts. I know others have
these also, but this is my choice. I
found Panda to be cumbersome to use.
I would not recommend McAfee AV as
I have heard too many reports of
problems with conflicts. I no longer
use any other parts of Norton System
Works, even though I was a beta tester
for several of the included programs. I
prefer Iolo System Mechanic for
maintenance, and Raxco Perfect Disk
for defragging. If you do use System
Works do not let anything but NAV
run in the background or on boot up.
System Doctor is notorious for
creating zero bite files when doing
software upgrades.
Meetings are free, visitors are welcome!
Siles Bazerman, APCUG Representative. Contact him at siles.bazerman@
gte.net; or 714-897-2868 (after 9 a.m.).
The Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group regular meeting is scheduled for the
second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Sunny Hills Racquet Club,
1900 Camino Loma, Fullerton, (714) 992-1300. For more information, call
(714) 990-0580, or go to www.orcopug.org.
Members’ Web Pages
Siles Bazerman—Personal Page
Linda Gonse—PC Instruction, Newsletter
and Web Page Design
Sharon Graham—Family Photos
David Musser—Consultant
Members, send your URL to editor@orcopug
Directions: From the 91 Freeway, exit at Euclid and go north. Go past
Bastanchury and turn west (left) onto Rosecrans. Sunny Hills Racquet Club is
located on the south (left) side of the street
Hot hot software!
by Paul Stephen, editor
Winnipeg PC Users’ Group
You just HAVE to try “File-Ex 3”
from Cottonwood Software. It gets rid
of those DINKY Windows File Open/
Save Dialog boxes. It will even
remember File Open/Save directories
for each application you use. It
will save you a great deal of time!
All members are invited to attend
the planning meetings!
Planning meetings are held the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at
Downey Savings & Loan, one block east of Harbor at Bastanchury in Fullerton.
A pdf list of December’s raffle prizes and winners and special
offer from Jasc Software may be viewed on the Members’ Only!
web page at www.orcopug.org.
Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group, January 2003
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