Computer News Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group

Computer News Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Computer News
October 2005
Volume 22, Issue 10
Inside This Issue:
President’s Message
Special Interest Groups
Officers List
September Meeting Review
Craig’s List
APCUG Annual Meeting
Replacing a Laptop Display
Disaster! Geeks to the Rescue
New, Best, and Worst
October and Cyber Security
Tech Tips
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-toSchools program, members
refurbish used computer
equipment for donation to
local schools. Since January 2003 the NVPCUG has
donated 362 computers and
109 printers.
Discussion of Member Needs, Nomination of
Directors, and Password Protection Tutorial
Highlight October 19 NVPCUG Meeting
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, October
19, 2005, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson
Street, Napa, California.
Our October general meeting will be structured differently than most of our monthly
meetings to allow time to hear and discuss your needs for specific computer-related
knowledge and your ideas about how the NVPCUG can improve its activities to better
satisfy your needs. Also, we will be calling for nominations of directors for the coming
term, which will begin in December. These special activities will be preceded by Random Access, an open-floor question-and-answer session.
In the Computer Tutor session that will follow the other activities, Mike Moore
will discuss password protecting Microsoft Word and Excel data files. To protect personal and other private information from theft or misuse, you must password-protect or
encrypt your sensitive files. Password protection can be used to restrict access to, or
modification of, a file. In Excel, password protection can also be used to restrict access
to, or modification of, specific Excel spreadsheets in a workbook or even the viewing of
specific rows and columns on a spreadsheet.
Mike will also demonstrate how to view two parts of a document or spreadsheet simultaneously by splitting or freezing window panes B portions of document windows.
This can be very advantageous when you need to compare, move, or copy text or graphics between parts of a long document or keep row and column labels visible as you
scroll a large spreadsheet.
Mike is a Computer Studies instructor at Napa Valley College, where he teaches
Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access courses. Prior to teaching, he 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. Mike is also the NVPCUG=s
Computer Tutor Coordinator.
During the Random Access period, you can ask questions about specific issues you
have encountered while 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 meeting! Guests are always welcome.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 1
President’s Message —
Looking Ahead
NVPCUG Donations Recognized
The Napa Valley Unified School District Board
of Education on September 15 formally recognized and expressed gratitude for the NVPCUG=s
October NVPCUG Meeting Highlights
ongoing donations of computer equipment
through our Computers-to-Schools program.
Two special activities are scheduled for our
Orion Hill
Since January 2003 we have donated 290 refurOctober 19 general meeting: an open discussion of
bished multimedia computer systems, as well as
member needs and how our group can best satisfy them, other computer equipment, to NVUSD schools. NVUSD
and nominations of NVPCUG directors for the coming Superintendent John Glaser noted the district=s increasing
dependency on contributions to fill needs as government
funding has become inadequate. Bill Wheadon and I atTo ensure that the education and service programs of tended the school board=s meeting to accept the board=s
our group satisfy your needs, it is essential that our officers recognition and gratitude.
have a clear understanding of your needs and know the
extent to which they are shared by other members. Don=t
Since the launching of our Computers-to-Schools prohesitate at this meeting to speak out about your needs and
gram in October 2002, we have donated 362 computers
share your ideas about improving our activities.
and 109 printers to Napa County public schools. We=ve
also donated computer systems to several not-for-profit
Nominations of Directors for 2006
organizations and to disadvantaged adults and students.
By Orion E. Hill
If you value the NVPCUG=s programs and want to
help ensure that they are continued and strengthened,
please give serious consideration to serving as a member
of our group=s leadership team. Nominations of NVPCUG
directors for the coming term, which starts in December,
will be requested at our general meeting on October 19.
Nominations C you may nominate yourself C can also be
submitted directly to NVPCUG Secretary Julie Jerome by
sending e-mail to [email protected] by November 2.
The only officer qualification is the ability and willingness
to serve; your level of computer expertise is not important.
In conformance with the NVPCUG Bylaws adopted in
2002, the current directors of our organization will elect up
to fifteen directors for one-year terms at the Board of Directors annual business meeting on November 2. Following the certification of that election at the BOD transition
meeting on December 7, the new board will take office
and elect our corporate officers C President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer C and appoint subordinate
If you are interested in serving as an officer or would
like to learn more about the various positions, please let
any Nominating Committee member know. The current
committee, chaired by Roy Wagner, is composed of all of
the members of our board of directors, except for me. Roy
can be contacted by calling (707) 253-2721 or e-mailing
[email protected] The members of the committee would
be glad to review with you the requirements of each position and the tools and support that would be available to
help you serve successfully.
Nearly a dozen people have indicated their desire to
participate in our new eBay SIG. Unfortunately, the initial
meeting scheduled on September 28 had to be postponed
at the last minute B literally B due to a brief medical emergency. The meeting has been rescheduled for October 26,
from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., at the Napa Valley Genealogical
Library, which is at the intersection of Menlo Avenue and
California Boulevard, in Napa. I understand that Kay Nagel, who gave an excellent presentation on selling and
buying on eBay at our September general meeting, will be
attending the coming SIG meeting.
If you are interested in participating in the eBay SIG or
would like more information about it, contact SIG leader
Tom Kessler by calling (707) 258-1884 or sending e-mail
to [email protected]
Annual Holidays Party
Mark your calendars now for our annual holidays potluck meeting on December 21. Dick and Sandy Peterson
have invited us again to use the Christmas Tree House at
their tree farm.
Sound Off!
Got a suggestion for improving an NVPCUG activity?
Want to help with an activity?
Send e-mail to
[email protected] or call (707) 252-0637.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 2
Membership News
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups
The NVPCUG currently has two special
interest groups. By attending SIG meetings, you can learn about a subject in
greater detail than is feasible at
NVPCUG general meetings and can
share your knowledge with other people.
SIG meetings are open to everyone.
Meeting times and locations occasionally
change. For current meeting information,
see our Web site,, or
contact the SIG leaders.
Digital Photography SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Wednesday
7:00 to 8:30 p.m
Piner’s Nursing Home,
Conference Room
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Leader: Susy Ball
(707) 337-3998
[email protected]
eBay 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]
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2005
Board of Directors
Vice President
Orion E. Hill
252-0637* [email protected]
(Volunteer Needed)
[email protected]
Julie Jerome
224-6620 [email protected]
Roy Wagner
253-2721 [email protected]
Other Directors:
Dianne Prior, John Simcoe, James Stirling
Appointed Officers
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]
Investors SIG
By Orion E. Hill
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group is delighted to welcome
back a former member, William L. “Bill” Lowry, who recently renewed his
membership after a nearly two-year lapse. Bill originally joined in 1955. Although 81 years old, he still works on a computer every day. He recently became Director of Sales and Marketing for Mytronics, a custom mold engineering and manufacturing company headquartered in San Ramon, to which city he
commutes from his home in American Canyon.
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.
NVPCUG Calendar
October 5
October 10
October 12
October 19
October 26
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
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
Investors SIG meeting, Jerry Brown’s home, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Digital Photography SIG meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
EBay SIG meeting, Napa Valley Genealogical Library, 1701 Menlo Ave., Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 3
Meeting Review C
September Presentations
The two presentations scheduled at the September 21
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group meeting attracted a full house.
For the main presentation, Kay Nagel
shared her extensive knowledge of buying
and selling on eBay. The daughter of
NVPCUG member Linda Collison, Kay
has gained considerable experience in using eBay. For people who have been curious but wary about the [email protected] features
of eBay, she had many instructive tips that
Kay Nagel
she had learned by trial and error, associating with knowledgeable people, and analyzing the practices of highly successful eBay buyers and sellers.
Kay=s experience began when she moved to California,
discovered that she had many unneeded objects to get rid
of, and turned to eBay. After selling many small items,
she decided to try selling something big: an alligator-hide
purse. She listed it for $49. While she was waiting for the
auction to end, her dog found the purse and chewed it up,
forcing Kay to withdraw the purse from auction. The successful bidder would not accept Kay=s explanation for the
withdrawal and proceeded to harass her. Kay began a
search for the buying and selling history of the customer.
She discovered, much to her astonishment, that the customer had an established eBay business selling similar alligator-leather purses for hundreds of dollars! That opened
Kay=s eyes.
Kay described strategies for bidding that involved starting
low and telling eBay to increase her bid by stated levels up
to a given top price. She emphasized the tactic of knowing
the exact moment when the bidding was scheduled to
cease, then throwing in your highest bid, expressed in dollars and cents, just seconds before that moment. On the
selling side, she told about taking the [email protected] that eBay offers to help beginners. Before listing something, she said
one should first shop eBay or Craigslist for the range of
prices. Then the item should be described in the most ap-
pealing way (with caveats for any deficiencies) and should
be pictured with photos from every angle. For both buying
and selling Kay recommended that one should look up the
eBay market history of the other participant.
In a Computer Tutor presentation
that preceded the main presentation,
Tom Kessler, Jr. demonstrated convincingly that ScanSoft=s Dragon
NaturallySpeaking speech recognition
software really works. While he spoke
several sentences into his headset microphone, the audience could see his
Thomas Kessler, Jr.
words come rolling out on the screen
with very few errors. Contrary to what some people have
said about how much time it takes to train the program to
recognize the voice of a user, Tom avowed that it took
only about 30 minutes of training to enable the program to
recognize his voice. For this, the program listed a series of
words and asked him to say them aloud, then it printed
them out. Where it stumbled, he would say, ATrain that,@
repeat the word, and it would improve. The program
learns early-on to recognize the inflections of a user=s
voice. Tom found that its recognition accuracy is highest
when he speaks at a normal conversational pace, rather
word by word. He surmises this is because the program is
designed to recognize phrases as well as separate words.
Following each dictation session, he uses the spell checker
feature to help identify and correct misrecognized words.
Tom, who is the son of NVPCUG members Tom and
Eleanor Kessler, said he has used Dragon NaturallySpeaking 7 and earlier versions for several years and finds
the program indispensable for his work. As the president
of Bel Aire Engineering, a Hayward, California, company
that designs, fabricates, and installs custom architectural
products, he uses the program for dictating letters, memos,
and other documents, as well as for completing forms. He
also uses it to transcribe messages recorded on his telephone answering machine and other devices and to answer
e-mail. He acknowledged that the program requires a
large amount of hard drive memory, but he says it is worth
it. He would not be as productive without it.
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, October 2005, Page 4
The Insiders' Guide to Craigslist
by Richard O. Johnson, TUGNET, California
If you're not using craigslist, it's time you joined the
crowd. This phenomenally successful community bulletin
board serves over ten million online users in a single
month, and, except for modest fees in three cities for
help-wanted ads, all its services are without charge.
If you're one of the uninitiated few, you use craigslist
by posting your needs or interests in any of various categories, like jobs, for sale, services, housing, personal, etc.,
or by reading and acting on posts submitted by others.
The craigslist for this area is at http://
Beyond its imperfect documentation, craigslist support is in practical terms nonexistent (understandably so,
in view of its enormous popularity and its staff of just
eighteen). That's one of the reasons for writing this Guide.
Posting is straightforward. You just find the prominent "post to classifieds" link (it's at the upper-left corner
of the main page), drill down to the appropriate category,
and fill out the simple form.
The first page to which posters are directed will invite
them to create an account. You don't really need an account, but it'll take only a minute or so to set up, and can
make things a lot easier. So do get that account.
Should the need for which you posted be met right
away, that's the end of it. In most cases, however, you'll
want to re-post. Without re-posting, your post will stay up
(in Los Angeles) for between 10 and 30 days, depending
on the category, but you don't want to wait nearly that
long. Posts appear in chronological order (last submitted
on top), and readers will typically stop perusing after
about two days' worth of posts. (You can always edit
your post, but editing won't move it up as will re-posting.)
Another way to improve your response rate is to post
in more than one category. But don't do that before reading about craigslist's...
Craigslist is replete with rules and regulations. Trouble is, they're not particularly easy to find, they're not all
in one place, and, worst of all, some of the most crucial
ones are not published at all (until you're found to be in
violation, and by then you may be "blocked")!
If you want to see what rules are written down, find
the craigslist Terms of Use, Frequently Asked Questions,
and General Posting Guidelines. But bear in mind that
other unstated rules may bear equally on your submissions. Here are the most important craigslist rules:
You may not post "essentially the same item" before
deleting the old item. This applies even when posting in a
different city or category. So if your post lends itself to
more than one category, you need to alternate the categories. (You may possibly be able to get around this restriction by using different email addresses.)
Craigslist confuses this issue by appearing at one point
to sanction posting "in multiple categories." This suggests
that in some circumstances such multiple posts may be
accepted. So if you want to try it, go ahead. The worst
that can happen is that your second post will be refused.
You may not post the same item more than once in 48
hours. This rule is not strictly enforced. That is, if you
delete and re-post your Thursday noon post at 8 am Saturday, chances are there will be no problem. But it's unwise
(and really unnecessary) to post as often as daily.
Your post may not contain a link "to a commercial
Web site or auction." This is an example of a rule I haven't been able to find anywhere, until I was blocked for
violating it! Note that craigslist does not define what
makes a website "commercial." My listing on the web of
free summer shows, that contained a small link to my organization, was deemed to be "commercial." You'll be
safe if you don't link to any website, but instead invite the
reader to email you for more information (very easily
done--see below). Linking to a webpage without any links
on it is also safe.
Posting Tips
Craigslist makes it easy as pie for its users to respond
to your posts. If you want phone calls, simply include
your phone number in the writeup. If you want emails,
craigslist will "anonymize " your email address, never to
be seen by responders. These folks will click on a link to
respond, and that response will go to craigslist, and then
to you.
Each anonymized email response will refer to
the unique number for that particular post. So if you're
running several similar posts, you can easily track your
responses to see which ones are most effective.
The body of your post can be either in plain text or
HTML. If you choose plain text, craigslist will automatically convert any Web addresses starting with http:// to
links (but exercise care before including a Web address-see above). You can't otherwise mix plain text and HTML
(don't add a few HTML tags to a plain-text submission).
You can add photos or other graphics to your post, in
one of two ways:
If your post is under the heading of "for sale/wanted,"
you'll be invited to add a picture from your hard disk.
Otherwise (providing you're submitting in HTML), you
can add graphics with the <img> tag. See craigslist's
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 5
(Continued on page 6)
The Association of Personal Computer User Groups
Annual Conference
January 2-6, 2006
Stardust Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Hear about the latest in computers and software from the people who make and sell them.
See their samples and get free copies of the newest and best.
Talk with the people who use them and find out how they do it.
Get new ideas from computer user groups across the country.
For information on rates and fees go to
(continued from page 5)
initial posts for a longer interval than the others.
FAQ for more details .
How Best to Post
The following assumes you're using Windows, and
have postings suitable for several categories. (You can
adapt these guidelines to other circumstances.) Performing these steps will reduce the re-posting process to about
a minute a day, while giving you maximum exposure.
Compose your posts. If possible, create an entirely
different post for each category. If sufficiently different,
posts promoting the same transaction may display simultaneously without a problem.
Create your account, by using the link on the "post to
classifieds" page. Create three bookmarks for your
browser. One will be your account page, another will be
the craigslist post page, and the third will be the browse
page (the craigslist main page for your locality), for reviewing others' posts.
Submit your posts. Wait two or three days.
Open your account page. Decide which post you'll
want to re-run. Click on that post.
You'll be given two choices, Edit and Delete. If you
want to re-run the post in exactly the same category,
choose Delete. Then go back to your account page, click
on the deleted post, and you'll be able easily to re-run it. If
you want to re-run the post in a different category, click
on the Edit button, to bring up your "raw" post. Then using Ctrl-A and Ctrl-C, copy that raw post to the Windows
clipboard. Go back to your account page and delete the
post. Finally, open the post page that you've bookmarked
[step 3 above], and post in the appropriate new category.
Wait a day, and repeat steps 6 through 9.
If you're promoting the same transaction in several
different categories, it may be to your advantage to stagger the posts. To this end you'll want to keep one or more
Browsing Tips
Here are two tips for using craigslist to take advantage
of others' posts. A little known source of great bargains
consists of offers on craigslist to sell unwanted gift cards.
This situation stems from the fact that many holders of
gift cards either paid nothing for them, or paid well below
the face value. For example, Discover Card distributes
merchant gift cards at half price through its "Cashback"
To secure such a bargain, visit your bookmarked
"Browse" page, and execute the "for sale" link. Then in
the keyword search box, enter "gift card" (with the quotation marks), and pick out the offers that appeal to you.
Don't hesitate to bargain with the seller for a lower price.
(Aim at no more that 50 percent of face value.)
Once you've made a deal, be sure you meet the seller
at the store, to verify the amount of credit remaining on
the card.
Craigslist has joined forces with Google Maps at
www.housingmaps. com, to help you better locate available housing throughout the country. You'll be able to
specify your price range, and you'll see at a glance
whether there's a picture or pictures of the property. Once
you make your preliminary selection, you'll be taken to
the original craigslist post.
Richard Johnson is a writer and editor, and founder/
administrator of FREE FOR ALL The Skills Pool, a 29-year-old
membership organization ( He is a volunteer with TUGNET HelpContact for assistance with Internet
Explorer, Outlook Express, and Gmail. He welcomes feedback,
at [email protected] skills pool. org.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article..
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 6
Laptop Display Replacement
by Mike Borman, SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
I have owned three different Toshiba laptop computers and was always impressed with how rugged
they were. A couple of them have been used to collect CCD images from my telescope on cold and
dewy nights without a problem. We have also used
Toshiba laptops where I work to program and monitor Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) in industrial plants all across the tristate area without a
problem. One even had water pouring down on it
accidentally at one plant, and after I let it dry out a
bit it was as good as new. So this past February when
I decided I needed a new laptop, I once again chose a
Toshiba, a Satellite A75. This one had a very nice
15.4” Trubrite TFT display.
Last month however, I discovered that my newest
Toshiba laptop would not pass the drop test. I had
been using it in the living room while watching TV,
and had it resting on one of the arms of my recliner
(which is wide enough to support the bottom of the
laptop). Unfortunately, when I got up to get something out of the kitchen, the laptop slid off the arm of
the recliner and fell a little over two feet to the carpeted floor. When I picked it up I noticed that the
display had a crack in the upper righthand corner. I
won’t repeat the words I uttered!
I decided to take the computer back to Circuit
City where I had bought it, to see what my options
were for fixing it. They told me that accidental
breakage was not covered by the City Advantage
plan they had sold me in February, and it was not
covered by the Toshiba warranty either. Circuit City
proposed sending it off to their Service Center in
Louisville to see how much it would cost to replace
the display. Unfortunately, they came back with an
estimate of over $1,000 to fix it. A call to Toshiba
informed me that replacing the screen would cost
$700 plus labor and shipping. Considering that I paid
$1,400 for it new, either choice seemed a bit outrageous. I also found that it was not covered by my
homeowner’s insurance or personal articles policy.
I next decided to see if I could possibly replace
the display myself. After searching on the Internet, I
found a website called that had parts
for most of the major brands of laptops. I gave them
a call and asked them how much a replacement LCD
display would cost for my Toshiba laptop. They said
$335. Since that was a lot better than paying Circuit
City $1,000 or buying a new laptop, I went ahead
and ordered one. It arrived in less than a week. Unfortunately when I opened the package I found a display more badly broken than the one I wanted to replace! More unmentionable words were uttered.
I called IDParts, and they agreed to take back the
broken display and send me a new one. The second
display arrived intact a couple days later.
My next task was to remove the existing LCD
display. The IDParts Web site shows an example of
a “typical” display replacement. It shows removing
the little rubber pads that run around the perimeter of
the display to reveal screws that hold the display together. When I removed the rubber pads from my
display however, there were only screws under the
two at the bottom of the display. With some careful
probing with a screwdriver I found that the top of the
display just snapped together. After getting off the
bezel I found that the display LCD was attached to a
metal frame with several tiny Philips-head screws.
Before removing the screws, I had to detach (very
carefully) a ribbon cable and a power cable. Then,
doing all the steps above in reverse, I installed the
new LCD display. My main worry was with reattaching the ribbon cable. It was difficult to line up
the two halves of the connector and feel whether it
was properly connected. The ribbon cable was just
barely long enough to reach the connector on the
new LCD. Fortunately I did it right and the new display works fine again!
Mike Borman is an engineer with Three I Engineering, Inc. in Evansville. He is an advisor and past
president of the Evansville Astronomical Society and
has won national awards for astrophotography and
model rocket building. His Web site is at http://
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided this
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 7
Disaster! Geeks to the Rescue
By Roy Davis, Tech Tip No. 46—[email protected]
The news of late has been full of natural and manmade disasters, including the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast
and an anniversary of the 9/11 horrors. In every disaster,
it seems the highest priority is communication. To be
sure, evacuation, food, water, shelter, and medical care
are critical needs, but none of it can be delivered without
communication between the government and the responding agencies. You might not be the hero who runs into a
burning building to save a child, but as a knowledgeable
and prepared geek you can still have a big impact. We’ll
talk about some of the issues you might face and how you
could use your geek kills to improve the situation.
Hurricane Katrina Lesson
When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans the power
was lost, cellular and wired telephones went out, and government radio repeaters were silent. The mayor and the
emergency operations center had only one communications link to the outside world – the Internet. That’s
right—the officials had only one Internet connection, and
fortunately there was a geek present who rounded up
some routers and cables and hooked up a makeshift Local
Area Network (LAN) with a bridge to the Internet. That’s
how messages got to and from the people in charge for
several days.
Why the Internet?
Why did the Internet survive in the face of disaster
when every other major form of communication was disabled? The answer is that the Internet is not a particular
medium of communications with a single point, like a
telephone central switching office or trunking radio controller, that can fail and bring the whole network down.
The Internet makes use of almost any communications
medium available. You can be connected to the Internet
via a cable, through a dialup telephone line, DSL or cable
TV modem, wirelessly by WiFi, cellular, satellite, or even
ham radio. The most significant point here is that your
Internet address doesn't change, no matter how you are
hooked up. When telephone networks go down, your
phone number is useless. When a particular government
radio channel is out, the workers can’t find you. But if
they send a message to your Internet e-mail account, you
can pick it up a dozen different ways.
Hard-Wired Internet
Since most commercial and even some home Internet
connections are largely run on fiber optic trunks, they
are not as vulnerable to damage by wind, water, or even
fire. In the hotel where the New Orleans officials set up
shop, there was one functioning direct-cabled Internet
connection still working. The technical person in the
group scared up a Network Switch to split the single
Internet connection out so the officials could jack in their
Laptop Computers and start communicating via e-mail.
Having a Cabling Kit on hand complete with lots of CAT
5e cable, RJ-45 connectors and the necessary wire stripping and crimping tool would allow you to quickly wire
up any command post.
Telephone Dialup
In some situations or locations, you might have to resort to a telephone dialup connection. Though too slow
for streaming video or high performance Web surfing, a
28 Kilobit per second (Kbps) telephone connection can
handle a lot of text e-mail. If your portable computer does
not have a built-in telephone connection, you could use a
USB Telephone Modem to make the connection in an
WiFi, or 802.11 wireless networking, is very good
magic in an emergency. You don’t need to run a cable to
a laptop computer if you set up an 802.11g Wireless
Router. This small box splits out an Internet DSL modem
connection, be it hardwired, cable or whatever, and provides a short-range radio connection to computers within
a few hundred feet. Position the router in a clear spot so
the radio signals have a chance to radiate toward the computers to be served. If the router has an external antenna
or two, keep the antennas approximately vertical. Computers can be moved around and new machines added to
the network almost instantly. Many laptop computers
come with WiFi built in, but for a computer that doesn’t
have it, you can use a USB WiFi Network Adapter. If it is
running Windows XP, then just plugging it in should install the device and you can select the wireless network
from the popup menu. This USB adapter comes with a
USB cable extension so you can position the adapter
away from your computer to better receive the radio signals from the router. Line-of-sight to the router is best,
but at least get the adapter with its built-in antenna away
from radio signal deflecting/absorbing objects like metal
desks or file cabinets.
WiFi Antennas
WiFi equipment is designed for short ranges, and the
signals don’t penetrate walls or floors very well. You can
extend the range of your wireless network by using an
802.11G Range Expander strategically positioned between the router and the computers to which you are trying to connect. Putting the range expander in a window,
doorway or stairwell can spread the WiFi signals beyond
a wall or floor that would normally stop them. If you have
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 8
a need in an emergency situation to go beyond the nominal range of WiFi, you can add a Range Extender Antenna
to the computer, the router, or both.
Keep in mind that nothing is free, and a directional extender antenna can go a longer distance but cover only a
narrow angle. First, try putting an antenna on the computer end of the link and point it at the router. The omnidirectional antenna on the router can then continue to serve
other computers closer to it in any direction. If you have
to extend the range by using a directional antenna on both
ends of the link, then use a separate router to serve the
close-by computers.
Amateur Radio WinLink 2000
Licensed radio amateurs (not to be confused with unlicensed Citizen's Band “CB” radio) have a long tradition of
providing communications assistance during disasters. In
fact, the Amateur Radio Relay League got started relaying
messages copied by hand from radio operator to radio operator. The concept was very much like the Internet,
where messages could pass through the network of stations by many different paths making it much more robust
than commercial communications systems.
Radio amateurs (also known as “hams”) have recognized the value of the Internet and have developed a
method of relaying Internet packets over their radios
called WinLink 2000. A radio operator outside the disaster
area can act as a gateway station to connect to the rest of
the Internet. Small portable stations can be brought into
the disaster area to provide a link even if all other forms of
Internet connection are gone. You can help out by earning
an amateur radio license and joining a local emergency
radio organization like the ARES or RACES. Check the
ARRL Web site to see how you can extend your geek
skills even further.
network equipment running for several minutes while the
generator is down. Also, the output of most portable generators is very “dirty” and the surge protection built into
the UPS will protect your valuable equipment.
Internet Takes Over for Newspapers
It’s not only government officials and rescue agencies
who are resorting to the Internet in times of disaster.
Newspapers in the path of hurricane Rita announced that
they were limiting or suspending publication of their hardcopy newspapers, but that readers could continue to get
news via their Web sites. The Galveston County Daily
News wanted to protect their employees by keeping delivery personnel off the streets. The Port Arthur News cancelled publication and abandoned their offices, but updated their Web site news. Again, this is an example of the
independence of the Internet from physical plant and particular locations. If you are waiting out the storm, you
might want to have a PDA with Bluetooth to connect to
the Internet via your cell phone to keep up on the news
and weather reports.
Final Words
A little preparation can put you in a position to help
yourself, your family, and your community in the case of
a disaster. Stock up on canned food, water, and flashlight
batteries, but don’t forget the capabilities of the Internet at
providing communications in time of need. As an experienced geek, you can get it together when the crunch
comes. Speaking of getting it together, having a Transport
Case handy with a list of the equipment and accessories
you need can make packing quick when you can’t afford
to forget anything, and when there are no local stores left
open for last-minute pickup.
Reprinted by permission of
Power to the People
In the emergency command post or even a shelter set
up in a school gym, you will have a cluster of folks helping out, and they need power for their laptops and all the
geek gadgets that it takes to hook them up. Don’t take
power and the availability of outlets for granted. Use a
Power Strip with Surge Protection to split out the end of
an extension cord. You need the surge protection because
there may be lightning storms and wind that can short
power lines causing spikes on the line.
In the worst case, you might be running your equipment
off a portable generator. For an evacuation shelter, you
would want a Medium Duty Uninterruptible Power Source
(UPS) while a command post should have a bigger backup
with a Heavy Duty UPS. Generators have to be shut down
for refueling and the UPS will keep your computer and
For more information about
visit our Web site:
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 9
The New, the Best, and the Worst
Collected by Pim Borman
SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
Hard Drive Too Small?
If you think a 500 GB is still not big enough, help is
on the way, in what seems to be an obvious way. If you
think of a room filled with people all stretched out on
the floor, you can cram in a lot more folks if you have
everybody stand up, right? As it turns out, the magnetic
elements on current hard drives are lying down on the
job, but now several manufacturers, including Hitachi
and Seagate, have figured out a way to make the lazy
critters stand up on the disk and squeeze them closer
together. It must be easier said than done, considering
how long it took to implement this technology, but now
Seagate is announcing a new 2.5” minidisk, named
Momentus, that will hold 160 GB, 20 percent more
than the highest-capacity 2.5” drives currently available. It sounds like magic, and the name, Momentus,
suggests that Harry Potter had something to do with it.
The new disks will be shipped early next year. Seagate
anticipates that regular hard drive capacity will jump to
2500 GB (2.5 TB) in 3-5 years. (PC Magazine, 8/9/05)
How Much Is That Program in the Windows?
In the good old days, when you purchased the latest
version of MS-DOS you were free to install it on as
many computers as you owned, and many a copy was
shared with friends and neighbors as well. That has
changed, as we all know, and many expensive programs can now only be installed on a single computer,
whether we like it or not.
Large commercial programs used in the business
world have usually been licensed per seat, based on the
number of computers the program was installed on.
Some small engineering companies that obtained a single copy of expensive AutoCAD and used it on multiple
computers were fined and lost their use of the program
when they got caught.
As CPUs have been getting faster, computer productivity has gone up, to the benefit of the users. Although
most providers have increased their license fees to
some extent as the programs improved, fees have
mostly continued to be charged per seat or per CPU.
Now the trend to faster computers is to increase the
number of CPUs on a single chip instead of making
single ones faster, and some software companies want
to charge their fees on a per CPU basis. They are
mainly concerned about the many back-room computers used as servers dishing out data over computer
networks to employees. Oracle and IBM have been in
the forefront of the pricing battles, but seem to be compromising on an individual basis. Microsoft has unexpectedly taken the side of the users and licenses its
software at the same cost for single -core or multiple core processors. That may have something to do with
the threat of Linux and its Open Source programming
model that is looking more and more attractive to many
businesses as the cost of Windows-based software
keeps increasing.
Too Much Security?
Recently I had occasion to help someone straighten
out the connections between their computers and the
router. The router had been set up by an expert, using
all its available security features. Unfortunately, he left
behind a jumble of notes about procedures and passwords that seemed to be incomplete or wrong. In the
end all we could do was reset the router and start over
again. That made me think about how much security
we really need.
Most of us live in homes with maybe two locks on
the front and back doors, possibly with an added bolt
for extra security at night. That will keep most amateur
burglars out, but a determined crook will find a way to
get in anyhow. So be it, unless you live in a big city
apartment where it is smart to live behind a steel door
with multiple locks set in a reinforced frame.
The same goes for routers. To keep occasional
snoopers out of your network takes only a few simple
changes to be made on the router’s access page. Replace the default password needed to access the set up
screen with a secure one that is easy to remember (an
old street address is good, as it contains letters and
numbers). Also change the default user name, if your
router lets you.
On the wireless access page change the SSID name
to a secure one. On the same page uncheck the option
to broadcast the SSID name.
Forget about all the other security options, including
WEP or WPA encryption, unless someone could have
good reason to spend lots of time and talent guessing
your setup information and ruin you in doing so. Just
because it can be done doesn’t mean anyone will actually go to the trouble! Just make sure to write down the
user name, password and the SSID. And if you forget
anyway, it only takes a few minutes to reset the router
all over again.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 10
Windows Tips and Tricks
The June 28, 2005 edition of PC Magazine carried a
large number of Tips and Tricks for Windows, mostly
contributed by PCM’s lead analyst Neal Rubenking,
whose articles and advice I have been following almost
as long as I have been using computers. Try to get hold
of a copy to see for yourself. Here are some that caught
my eye.
If an error message indicates that a system file is
missing or corrupted you may be able to recover it
from the Windows disk. You did get one when you
bought your computer, did you? Else ask the manufacturer for one - you paid for it! Insert the Windows system disk and select Search from the Start menu. Use
the name of the file you are looking for, but replace the
last character of the extension with an underscore, e.g.
Notepad.ex_ instead of Notepad.exe. Make a note of
where you found it and then use some good, oldfashioned DOS command to expand that file and install
it on your hard drive where it belongs. Use Start…Run
and in the window that pops up type (for this example,
assuming your CD ROM is labeled D:) expand
D:\Setup\Notepad.ex_ C:\Windows\Notepad.exe and
that should do it. In some cases the missing file is
stored in a compressed CAB file. You can find out by
repeating the search with the full file name. If found,
open the CAB file in Windows Explorer and simply
drag the missing file to its location on your hard drive.
Another handy tip concerns access to Windows in its
Safe mode, such as might be required to remove a virus
infection. The manual tells you to hit F8 or DEL
(depending on the make of your computer) during start
up, right after the initial boot sequence completes, but
before Windows starts loading. In practice, there is only
a fraction of a second during which you must do this,
and it may take many repeats before you finally get it
right. With a USB keyboard it is impossible to do at all,
since the keyboard won’t be active yet at the required
moment. If you miss and the system boots up in the
full-fledged Windows mode, press Start…Run and
type msconfig followed by the Enter key. Choose the
BOOT.INI tab and check the /SAFEBOOT box. Now
XP will reboot in Safe mode until you repeat the procedure and uncheck the box.
the picture emerged from the printer, an older HP812C, the top half looked OK but the bottom half was
faded red. Clearly, one or two of the three colors in the
color cartridge were depleted. Just because of such happenings, I always keep an extra cartridge on hand, in
the refrigerator to keep it fresh. That may have been a
bad idea.
I installed the spare cartridge, aligned it, and printed
out the picture. The black snoot of the dog came out
looking distinctly bluish. Back in the image editor I
darkened the black parts of the image and printed it out
again. Same result, distinctly bluish. Continuing the
next evening, a test page indicated that the yellow color
of the cyan-magenta-yellow cartridge was not printing.
I used the printer’s utilities to clean the cartridge and to
prime the inks, without luck. I took the cartridge out
and carefully cleaned the print head with 90 percent
pure rubbing alcohol, still without success.
I was ready to give up on the cartridge and buy a
new one when one more possibility occurred to me. I
double -bagged the cartridge in two ZipLoc bags and
immersed it for 20 minutes in a pan of hot tap water.
That did the trick; Bonnie printed out just fine. From
now on no more storing of color cartridges in the refrigerator!
AdSubtract, Good Bye!
For years I have used AdSubtract to block nuisance
ads while browsing. These days ads are no longer just
nuisances, as some are harmful and require stronger
countermeasures. I still have AdSubtract on my older
system, but its update button is no longer active. A
Google search indicates that Intermute, AdSubtract’s
parent, has been acquired by Trend Micro. AdSubtract
has been combined with TrendMicro’s SpySubtract
Pro to form Trend Micro Anti-Spyware 3.0, which is
compatible only with Windows XP or 2000.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Recovered Printer Cartridge
The other night I set out to print a first birthday picture of our black-and-white Cocker Spaniel, Bonnie. As
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 11
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month
By James Katz, Editor, Capital PCUG Monitor
The month of October is designated as National Cyber
Security Awareness Month once again this year by the
National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a not-forprofit public -private partnership dedicated to promoting
awareness and education about computer security. Working with sponsors in the government, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC), as well as corporate and computer
industry partners in the private sector, the NCSA began
the initiative of celebrating October as Cyber Security
Awareness Month last year to increase the computing
public’s attention to computer security issues, enhance
their recognition of computer threats and vulnerabilities,
and motivate them to better prepare for, prevent, and respond to computer security risks.
The goal of the NCSA initiative is to reach millions of
users in homes, small businesses, schools, colleges, and
universities, as well as those in corporations and government. According to NCSA President, Ken Watson, the
mission of the NCSA is “to reach out to all Americans -not just the computer experts,” through a campaign of
media announcements and national and regional events,
such as presentations, workshops, conferences, and fairs,
dealing with topics like identity theft, computer scams,
safe behavior practices on the Internet, and child safety
online. (For information about events in your area, check
with your local college or university, look at the listings at, or go to the
Multi-State Information Sharing Analysis Center’s Web
site at
to find out what events your state government may have
Threats to Security
More and more people are using computers to connect
to the Internet to communicate with others, conduct their
personal banking, and shop and make purchases online.
As computer users spend more time online, and make
more use of broadband connections or wireless networks
to do so, they become increasingly at risk for harmful attacks if they do not take steps to protect their computers.
And the risk is there and growing. According to the
DHS, computers connected to the Internet are scanned to
assess their setups and weaknesses an average 17 times a
day. Estimates attributed to the FBI suggest that one in
four computers will be hacked this year. Phishing scam
attempts have been reported by Symantec, the security
software vendor, to now exceed over 33 million each
week. At the same time, 49 percent of people surveyed
were not able to recognize such e-mail as a Phishing
scam, as indicated by research by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. A study of
home users conducted for NCSA last year by America
Online (AOL) found that 63 percent of respondents admitted to ever having a virus on their computers. And,
according to the NCSA’s Ken Watson, “Industry projections note that by year end, Internet users will have been
confronted by an estimated 100,000 forms of malicious
code. About 91 percent of PCs today are infected with
spyware programs that send information from your PC to
an unauthorized third party.” He further pointed out that
“more than 185 million Americans own computers connected to the Internet -- cyber security should become
second nature, just like brushing our teeth.”
Despite growing threats to the security of information
and technology systems, attitudes and practices of computer users have changed little, if at all, even as reliance
on computing and information technology is increasing at
all levels of use. Even though surveys have found that
computer users’ concerns about cyber security risks have
increased over past years, users have failed to make prevention or response measures a priority.
Perhaps it is due to users perceiving the pervasiveness
of cyber threats as far less common than the reality. In a
survey of average computer users, the NCSA found that
many people fail to grasp the level of risk: over 30 percent reported believing they were more likely to be struck
by lightning, win the lottery, or be audited by the IRS
than become the victim of a cyber attack or privacy
breach. Yet the actual odds of suffering a cyber attack are
about 70 percent, while the odds of each of the other
events are well under one percent.
The Need for Cyber Security
The risk of an attack is great, and the consequences of
failing to prevent the potential damage can be devastating.
You may not even realize the full extent of the consequences if your system is hacked or infected with malicious software (“malware”), such as a computer virus,
worm, or Trojan horse. Some of the consequences can
Data loss: The data you collected and the work you
spent so much time producing can be destroyed. If you do
get hacked or infected, you need to be able to identify
what was damaged, and then restore the data from your
backup systems. Computer downtime can cost money as
well as time while files or hardware are fixed, and time
and effort must be redirected to restore or redo the original work.
Corruption of data: If your data is not completely
lost, it may be corrupted. If the data has been changed,
but not destroyed or removed, this may be hard to discover. If you do, you will have to figure out which data is
good and which is bad, and this can be difficult and pains-
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 12
taking. If you don’t discover there is corrupted data right
away, you may be working when you experience a
“cascade failure,” a problem that occurs when failure in
one system takes down adjoining systems in a progressive
series. Problems may then spread throughout your systems before the errors are discovered. It can take substantial time and effort to track down the initial problem and
restore your computer’s systems from backups.
Theft of data: Some kinds of data are more attractive
targets than others. Of course, anything associated with
money is a prime target, such as credit card numbers and
banking account information. Personal data, such as social security numbers, are often sought for identity theft to
commit fraud.
Misuse of data: Your work may be stolen by others at
your school or business and represented as their own, or
your personal photos or information could be taken and
made public. If your records, trade secrets, financial data,
or other sensitive information wound up in the hands of
your company rival, business competitors, or even a
stranger seeking to cause embarrassment, could you be at
risk for losing the grant, account, promotion, job, or reputation you’d been working hard to achieve?
Noncompliance with legal responsibilities: If your
computer is hacked or infected and used to send out pornography or spam e-mail, you may be held legally liable
for allowing such unlawful practices. Even if you did not
know of it or intend for such e-mail to be sent, you could
be judged at fault for failing to prevent or stop it.
Becoming part of a larger problem: Infection of
your computer or network with a malware that sends out
numerous e-mails can perpetuate the problem of spam
and propagate more infections. If your computer is taken
over by a hacker and used to take part in an attack on a
federal or corporate mainframe computer, then your computer could possibly become an instrument of cyber terrorism intended to disrupt financial or governmental operations.
As this last factor points out, cyber security is a concern not only for each of us individually, it is a concern
for us collectively. As Ron Teixeira, NCSA’s Executive
Director, remarked, “The scope and impact of existing
and emerging online threats requires an ongoing partnership between government, businesses, schools, and consumers. Working together, we can make the Internet safer
for everyone.” Making your personal computer secure can
play a crucial part in protecting the nation’s Internet infrastructure.
Cyber Security Practices
To determine whether you’ve made the security of
your computer system or network a priority, consider the
following questions:
• Do you select strong passwords and keep them private?
•Do you use a password protected screen saver?
•Do you keep your computer locked up when not in use?
•Do you make sure important and sensitive personal information is not stored on your system?
•Do you use a software or hardware firewall, or both, and
have you configured it properly?
•Do you use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and do
you keep them up to date?
•Do you exercise caution when opening e-mail attachments?
•Do you know where to report spam or fraudulent e-mail?
•Are you aware of the risks in file sharing?
•Do you download and install operating system and application software security patches as they become available?
• Do you back up your important files?
According to a number of cyber security experts, the
first step in keeping your computer secure is to limit access to it by unauthorized users. If you use your computer
in a setting where others are around, such as in a library
or office, this means physically securing the machine.
Locking up the computer when not in use, and using password protected access and screen savers, keeps strangers
from sitting down at your machine and exploring your
files. Passwords should be strong (i.e., difficult to guess
or discover), and never shared with others. As Cliff Stoll,
an authority on security, suggested, “treat your password
like your toothbrush -- don’t let anyone use it, and get a
new one every six months.” You can use random password generators, such as those found at sites like
w w w . s e c u r i t y a w a r e n e s s . c o m / f i l e s / r p g . e x e or If you suspect your password has been learned, change it immediately.
To limit access to your system by way of the Internet,
be sure to use firewall software or hardware, or both. And
be sure it is configured correctly to allow in and out only
those communications you want. According to the NCSA
survey conducted by AOL, mentioned earlier, only 37
percent of the respondents currently used some sort of
firewall on their computer; 87 per cent believed they had
set up their firewall correctly, yet 72 percent were found
to have an improperly configured firewall.
Despite using a firewall, sometimes viruses, spyware,
and other malware can still get into your computer system, often through e-mail or file sharing.
Security experts say you should make sure you have
anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed, and scans
are being run (at least on a weekly basis). To avoid having to rebuild your entire system after malware has taken
root, it must be detected, quarantined, and deleted before
damage is done. And be sure to keep the protective software current by updating it regularly, if not automatically;
(continued on page 14)
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 13
(continued from page 13)
protective software is useless if it doesn’t know what the
latest threat is to protect against. A number of different
protective software applications are available, either free
or at low cost; the National Capital Technology and Computer User’s Group has a comprehensive table, with links
to sources, comparing various anti-virus and anti-spyware
programs on their Web site at
To minimize the risk of receiving malware through email, it is best to not respond to any messages, click on
any Web page links, or open any attachments you have
any questions about. Experts recommend that you use
encrypted e-mail, and not send confidential or sensitive
information via e-mail. If you get questionable or apparently fraudulent e-mail, you should report it to the network administrator, your Internet Services Provider, and
the appropriate authorities.
More Precautions
A number of other precautions are recommended to
protect your computer from harm of spyware and to preserve your data and privacy. If you use a wireless network, be sure to secure it with the appropriate protocols.
If you use a broadband connection, turn off your computer or disconnect it when not in use so that unwanted
communications cannot be sent or received when its activity is not monitored.
Be careful about what is getting into your computer by
other means, as well. Do not use software that has not
been obtained from a known source. Do not share files
from your computer, and use caution in loading files from
others through removable media, such as floppy disks,
CDs, zip drives, tape cartridges, and other types of storage. And be sure to keep secure any of these removable
media on which you’ve stored your data; keep removable
data storage media locked up, destroy the material when
you’re finished with it, and make sure your computer’s
hard drive is wiped clean when the time comes to dispose
of it.
One important cyber security practice that is often
overlooked is that of backing up your data and your systems. Consider how secure you’d feel if you couldn’t rely
on the information you’re working with, or depend on
your computer to operate properly. If any of your cyber
security measures are breached, and your computer files
are deleted, corrupted, or intentionally or accidentally
falsified, or if your hard drive fails, at least you can reestablish a reliable system if you have your information
safely backed up. Make sure that you back up your data
on an ongoing basis, that what is backed up can be restored, and that you have copies of your operating system
and software applications, with all their security patch
Vigilance Rewarded
NCSA’s initiative to raise awareness about cyber security nationwide and empower people to improve their
security knowledge and preparedness includes a number
of events during the month of October and a variety of
resources all year long. You can find out more, and pick
up cyber security tips, at the NCSA Web site, More information is available at
other sites, such as,, and An assortment of items about cyber security, as well as links to other articles, is also available at
The fact is that no computer connected to a network
can be assured of being 100 percent secure 100 percent of
the time. No one security measure is sufficient to protect
your computer from all threats at all times. Each measure
requires continual care to make sure it is operating, and
all necessary updates and security patches are obtained
and installed on a regular and timely basis.
Cyber security may seem like a substantial burden,
but the effort is an investment that can be greatly rewarded. If you are not interrupted by a security breach,
you can focus on moving forward rather than spending
your time trying to recover and catch up. Continually
seeking the latest information about cyber security, keeping yourself educated about security issues, staying vigilant about computer vulnerabilities, and consistently exercising good protective practices online can make the difference in preventing the hardship of destroyed data, lost
time, duplicated effort, and disrupted progress.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
New Winners in the Spyware Removal Wars
A recent survey of spyware detection and removal
programs by PC World turned up some new winners.
Reporting in the November 2005 issue, their researchers
named Webroot Software Spy Sweeper 4.0 ($30 /yr.) as
head of the class, removing 90 percent of the spyware
components in their test. In this “Paid Standalone” cate-
gory, McAfee AntiSpyware 2006 and PC Tools Spyware
Doctor 3.2 trailed Webroot. The former champion,
Sunbelt Software CounterSpy 1.029, came in at fourth
place. Panda Platinum Internet Security Suite ($90)
included a spyware checker almost as good as Webroot.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 14
Thank You !
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Napa, CA 94559-5066
(707) 299-1000 • • [email protected]
Home of the 59-cent Color Copies
3148 Jefferson St., Napa, CA 94558
707-257-6260 • 800-550-6260 • fax: 707-257-8741
[email protected] •
G Do not list e- mail address
Family members whom you want to sponsor as Associate Members:
(Associate Members have the same membership rights as their
sponsors, except for receiving newsletters)
Full Name
E- mail Address
Annual Dues:
$30 Regular Member - an individual who is not a full-time student
$20 Student Member - a full-time student who is not eligible for Associate
$10 Associate Member - a family member of a Regular or Student
member. Associate memberships run concurrently with sponsors’
Make check payable to Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group.
Mail application/renewal to: Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group,
Attn.: Membership Director, P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA 94558-0286.
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your
dues payment may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
* To request a Corporate Membership Application/Renewal form, e- mail:
[email protected]
Offering Financial Services throughout the
Napa Valley, with offices in Napa, St. Helena
and Yountville
800-869-3557 •
Revised 8-19-05
For more information about the NVPCUG, visit our
Web site:
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 15
Tech News
By Sue Crane, Vice President & Editor, Big Bear Computer Club, California
[email protected]
Nothing Is Ever Really FREE
Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux OS, has begun
protecting his trademark for the term Linux. He’s doing
so to protect users from unauthorized and confusing use
of the name. Torvalds first trademarked Linux several
years ago but has rarely defended its use. The licensing
fees for Linux are modest. LMI is charging $200 to
$5000 for each license; most sublicensees end up paying
$200 to $500. Most Linux companies have enthusiastically agreed to the licensing terms.
sider IE 7.0 to be part of Windows.
AMD Asks Intel for a Duel
Major US newspapers in September showed an AMD
processor standing in a boxing ring waiting for Intel to
appear for a duel later this year so consumers can see who
has the best dual-core processor. Dual-core chips have
two processor cores on a single piece of silicon, boosting
performance and reducing power consumption compared
to two single -core processors. AMD released its first
dual-core Opteron processors earlier this year. Intel said
that it will release its first dual-core server chips later this
year, ahead of its original schedule. But regarding the
duel, Intel was not available for comment.
TPMs Make E-Commerce Safer
Trusted Platform Modules, if you’ve never heard of
them, are chips that store cryptographic information
needed to unlock hard drives, authenticate network logons and perform similar tasks. What is exciting about
TPMs is their role in electronic transactions because they
make sure the money and the product get to their proper
destinations, via “anonymous certificates.” Hacking such
a certificate would not give criminals access to personal
information such as credit card numbers, since the transaction is done on your side of the network, not on the
PC Has Water-cooled Radiator
NEC took the wraps off its Valuestar G Type C, a new
desktop PC that has a radiator embedded in the water
cooler unit built into the back of the chassis. The company said the added refrigeration will let consumers overwork the included Intel Celeron processor but keep the
PC running at 30 decibels, which is whisper voice. PC
noise is increasingly a concern as more powerful computers require stronger and often louder cooling systems.
eBay Rethinks Recycling
Faster, more advanced computers, cell phones and electronics offer endless possibilities for enrichment, learning
and entertainment. But as consumers and businesses keep
pace with the introduction of exciting new products, we
are faced with a mounting challenge: what to do with the
products we’re upgrading from. The Rethink Initiative
brings together industry, government and environmental
organizations to offer a fresh perspective and new answers to the challenge of e-waste. On their Web site you
can find information, tools and solutions that make it easy
– and even profitable – to find new users for idle computers and electronics, and responsibly recycle unwanted
products. Go to: .
New IE 7.0 is for Windows Only!
Sources at Microsoft have announced that IE 7.0 will
henceforth be referred to as Windows IE 7.0, highlighting
the fact that the browser is integrated with Windows and
isn’t a stand-alone product. According to a source at Microsoft, the change signifies that IE will no longer be
available for other platforms. Users should simply con-
No More Textbooks?
Students at Empire High School in Vail, AZ started
class this year with no textbooks. Instead, the school issued laptop computers to each of its 340 students, becoming one of the first U.S. public schools to turn away from
printed textbooks. Empire High, which opened for the
first time this year, was designed specifically to have a
textbook-free environment.
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
Address Service Requested
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2005, Page 16
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