COMPUTER NEWS Voice Over Internet Protocol to

COMPUTER NEWS Voice Over Internet Protocol to
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
COMPUTER
NEWS
Volume 23, No. 6
Inside This Issue:
2 President’s Message
2 Special Interest Groups
2 Calendar
3 Officers List
4 Editorial
5 Swiissbit Do-It-All Knife
6 Get Up to Speed
8 Friendly Online Librarians
9. Getting Rid of Startup Items
10 RSS Explained
12 Tech News
13 One-Click Access to Programs
14. Web 2.0 and Portable Computing
16 Computer Recycling Event
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 401 computers and 124 printers.
Like many moth-
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
June, 2006
Voice Over Internet Protocol to
Be Discussed at June 21 NVPCUG Meeting
By Susy Ball, Programs Director
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, June 21, 2006, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California.
The main presentation of the evening will be a demonstration by Susy Ball of VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). VoIP is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead
of a regular (or analog) phone line. Some services using
VoIP may allow you to call only other people using the
same service, but others may allow you to call anyone who
has a telephone number – including local, long distance,
Susy Ball
mobile, and international numbers. Also, while some services
only work over your computer or a special VoIP phone, other services allow
you to use a traditional phone through an adapter. Most people who use
VoIP find that they are able to reduce the cost of their telephone calls and get
more services like caller ID.
Preceding the main presentation, Jerry Brown will lead the Random
Access portion of our meeting with an open-floor question-and-answer period, during which you can ask questions about specific computer-related
issues and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees. Don’t
forget that you can also e-mail your questions before coming to the meeting
([email protected]). If you have found a novel solution to a computer
problem you faced, you might like to share it with the group during this session.
Following this, Jerry Brown will lead the Computer Tutor session featuring his method for redundantly backing up data files.
Need practical information that will enable you to make better use of
your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests are welcome; admission is
free.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 1
President's Message—
Summer Is Coming
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
i n f or m a ti on , s e e o u r W e b s i t e ,
www.nvpcug.org, or contact the SIG leaders.
I hope everyone is set to have a good summer. August 12 is the date apointed for our annual summer
picnic, and that is always fun. It gives us a chance to
meet our fellow User Group members in a relaxing
and informal setting. Since this year the picnic will
precede our regular August meeting, I will be circulating a signup sheet for those wishing to attend. Look
for it at our June meeting.
Dianne Prior
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]
The Board would like to offer a raffle at our monthly meetings as a
fund-raiser. Without our annual Used Equipment Sale we need to bring in
some revenue to our treasury. However, we need someone to coordinate
this. We also need someone who would seek donations to supply the items
to be raffled. Please e-mail or phone me if you can help in any way.
Investors SIG
If anyone has any problems or questions or suggestions (relating to
Group issues, not computer-use questions), feel free to contact me at [email protected] or phone me at 252-1506.
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]
Peace and Good,
Dianne Prior
* Photography SIG will not meet in June
NVPCUG Calendar
Wednesdays
June
7
June
8
June 9, 10
June
12
June
14
June
21
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
8:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 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
Annual Computer and Electronics Recycling Event, Napa Junior College South Parking Lot
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
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2006
Board of Directors
President
Dianne Prior
252-1506*
[email protected]
Vice President
Ron Dack
Secretary
Julie Jerome
224-6620
[email protected]
[email protected]
Treasurer
Roy Wagner
253-2721
[email protected]
Other Directors:
Susy Ball, Orion E. Hill, Jim Gillespie, Bob Kulas, John Moore,
Dick Peterson, John Simcoe, James Stirling, Dean Unruh
Held the third Wednesday of each month
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Appointed Officers
Computer Equipment
Sales Coordinator
Computer Recycling
Coordinator
Computer Tutor
Coordinator
Computers-to-Schools
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Coordinator
Greeter Coordinator
Librarian
Membership Director
Mentor Program
Coordinator
Newsletter Circulator
Newsletter Editor
Product Review Coord.
Product Review Coord.
Programs Director
Publicity Director
Random Access Moderator
Special Projects Director
Webmaster
Come to the NVPCUG
General Meetings
Napa Senior Activities
Center
(Volunteer Needed)
Bill Wheadon
224-3901
[email protected]
Mike Moore
255-1615
[email protected]
Orion E. Hill
252-0637
[email protected]
John Moore
252-3478
[email protected]
Bob Simmerman
Dean Unruh
Dianne Prior
Dick Peterson
259-6113
226-9164
252-1506
259-1712
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Jim Hearn
James Stirling
Susy Ball
Marcia Waddell
Susy Ball
John Simcoe
Jerry Brown
Bob Kulas
Ron Dack
224-2540
944-1177
337-3398
252-2060
337-3998
258-8233
254-9607
255-9241
1500 Jefferson Street,
Napa
[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 Computer News
Computer News (ISS 0897-5744) is published monthly by the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA
94558-0286. Subscriptions: $30 for one year (12 issues ). Editor: 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 © 2006 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 3
Editorial—
May 17 General Meeting Notes—
Adventures in Rebate Land
Mike Moore Explains CCleaner
A couple of months ago I found what seemed to
be a real bargain—a 160 Gigabyte SATA drive for
only $29.99 (after rebates) from TigerDirect.. How
could they do it! Not only that, but they threw in an
antivirus program, eTrust Internet Security Suite,
from Computer Associates, for free, after rebates.
The deal looked good, so I ordered it. The two
items arrived in the mail a few days later. Then I discovered that the rebates were not handled by TigerDirect but by an “Onrebate.com” firm in Florida that
had many stipulations on claiming a rebate. The invoice from TigerDirect showed the listed price of the
two items as $144** before tax. That left something
like $74 to be recovered in rebates. The Onrebate.com statement, however, recognized only the
antivirus suite and a rebate of exactly $30. They included a stern warning that they would not accept
any further appeal on the rebate. In the meantime I
tried e-mailing the TigerDirect firm, but received no
answer. A month later I got another e-mail from Onrebate.com, this time including the name of the Computer Associates, declaring that I would get no rebate
at all because of a discrepancy on the invoice. They
gave a telephone number to call if I wished to discuss it, but that number turned out to be invalid.
They also included an e-mail address, to which I sent
a message to no avail.
I wasted many hours trying to comply with these
specifications and in the end had to resign myself to
thinking that maybe the big hard drive was worth the
total price. The “rebate” promotion was only a marketing ploy. On an Internet chat room I discovered,
too late, that other people had had similar disappointing experiences with the same vendor.
From here on I will treat any advertisements from
TigerDirect like spam or junk mail, without a further
glance. And the same goes for Computer Associates
and anyone else who uses the Onrebate.com. Surely
there are plenty of reliable competitors with better
inducements.
What has been your experience with rebates?
— JS
Reported by Orion E. Hill
In the computer tutor session May 17 Mike
Moore, Computer Tutor Coordinator, discussed
CCleaner, a highly rated and easy-to-use free computer maintenance utility. It removes unused files
from your system, allowing Windows to run faster
and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also
cleans traces of your online activities such as your
Internet history. But the best part is that it's fast
(normally taking less that a second to run) and contains no Spyware or Adware!
I decided to search for more information about
the program. I learned that there are available three
build releases of the current version 1.29.295. They
differ only in toolbar and language options.
The Standard build release (1,442 KB) includes
an optional Yahoo toolbar and can be configured to
display text in any of twenty-nine languages.
The Basic build release (558 KB) does not include the Yahoo toolbar but is otherwise identical to
the Standard build version.
The Slim build release (416 KB) does not include
the Yahoo toolbar and is available in English only,
but it is otherwise identical to the Standard build version.
Standard releases of CCleaner can be downloaded from several Web sites that can be found easily by searching the Internet. Be aware that some of
the sites do not have the current version. Basic and
Slim releases, however, are available only at the developer's Web site: www.ccleaner.com . On the
CCleaner main download page, click on "Other
builds" (highlighted in blue two-thirds down the
page) to display the CCleaner Download Builds
page, which lists all three of the current releases.
You can disregard the following displayed message: "The following builds are for system admins
and advanced users. They are not for distribution or
mirroring.”
I downloaded and installed the Standard and Slim
releases (opting not to install the Yahoo toolbar)
separately on two computers for comparison purposes. The releases look identical. I chose to keep
only the Slim release.
I join Mike in recommending CCleaner.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 4
Swissbit – Victorinox Do It All USB, MP3, Swiss Army Knife
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host
Iwilsker( at )apcug.net
Hey dads! With Father’s Day fast approaching,
maybe you should get copies of this article and leave
them at strategic places around the house where key
members of the family are likely to see them. Dads
are often hard to buy gifts for, and all too often end
up with that ubiquitous necktie. Instead of the well
intended, but often useless, gift that we dads
sometimes receive, perhaps a really fun high-tech gift
would be more appropriate.
The most intriguing item that I have seen, one that
would make a fantastic gift for dad on his special
day, is a combination Victorinox Swiss Army Knife,
USB flash drive, FM stereo radio, voice recorder,
and remote control MP3 player, manufactured and
distributed by Swissbit (www.swissbit.com). Named
the “S.Beat,” this device is true to the multifunction
traditions of the classical Swiss army knife, but with
a modern twist.
Externally, it looks like an
aluminum scaled Swiss army knife, complete with
the white cross logo, sharp knife blade, spring
opening scissors, and nail file. Internally, it contains
a removable module with a USB 2.0 high-speed flash
drive (available in 1 GB, 2 GB, and 4 GB capacities)
that also holds the MP3 player, the FM stereo radio,
and the voice recorder, as well as a rechargeable
lithium polymer battery. A separate remote control
also bears the trademarked Victorinox white cross
logo and contains an earphone jack, volume and
track controls, and power on and off. The remote
control can be worn around the neck with the
included lanyard. For international travelers, the
lithium polymer battery can be recharged using the
included “USB World Charger,” which can handle
voltages from 110v to 220v and is compatible with
the outlets in over 150 countries. The battery, which
may take up to 2.5 hours to fully charge, will power
the player for about eight hours. The tiny FM radio
can be preset to listen to up to 15 stations, and the
MP3 player (which also supports WMA and OGG
Vorbis formats) has a three-line backlit high-contrast
display.
Victorinox and Swissbit have taken the flying
traveler into mind with this device, which has earned
a “FlySmart” logo. Since the knife and scissors
component would be banned on commercial airline
flights, but many travelers would still like to listen to
the MP3 player, the player itself can be separated
from the knife, maintaining full functionality. The
knife portion of the device can then be appropriately
placed in the checked luggage and can be reunited
with the player at the destination.
This device is simply amazing, fitting all of the
components in a standard-sized Swiss army knife
about three inches long, half an inch wide, and about
three-quarters of an inch thick, and weighing a scant
three ounces.
The box containing the S.Beat
included not only the components mentioned but also
a protective cap (covers the USB plug when the
player is removed from the knife), an arm strap for
outdoor sports activities, a USB extension cable, a
USB world charger, an instruction book, and a CD
containing the software utilities.
Since this device is just being introduced in this
country, after being available in Europe for a while,
it is something that dad will find both unique and
exclusive. It should be available shortly at any full
Victorinox retailer, but it is available now from
several online sources. The version with the 1 GB
capacity has a retail price of $189, with some
domestic outlets offering a small discount. The
larger capacity 2 GB and 4 GB models were recently
introduced in Europe and should be available shortly
in this country.
Being so new on the market, it has had few
published reviews, but they have been universally
positive. One says, “Fantastic product! Beautiful
metal finish, sturdy and compact. The included
headphones are top-notch. Sound quality will blow
you away, menu user interface is comprehensive yet
simple and intuitive to use/learn. And best of all—it
works without some special drivers or software. Just
use what you’re used to for your audio and data
files.”
Come to think of it, maybe we should not wait
until Father’s Day; maybe we should consider this
extremely useful gadget not only for dad, but for
mom and our new graduates as well. In fact, this
would make a great gift for anyone special, including
yourself!
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 5
Gerry Says — Get Up to Speed
By Gerry Gerstenberg, 1st Vice President, Broward
Personal Computer Association, Inc., Florida
www.bpca.org [email protected]
Here are some suggestions to get your computer
back up to speed.
Viruses
Check your system for viruses and Trojans; make
sure that your antivirus definitions are up to date. Viruses, worms, and Trojan Horses can all create serious
system slowdowns.
I use AVG from http://www.Grisoft.com. It is free,
as is Avast at http://www.Avast.com. Run only one
virus checker at a time.
Spyware/malware
Second, check your system for spyware and malware. This can be done by using a spyware detector like
Ad-Aware, found at http://www.Lavasoft.com and/or
Spybot Search and Destroy, found at http://spbot.com.
Keep them up to date. I also use Microsoft Antispyware. It can be downloaded from Microsoft.com.
Improve online security
Install and configure a firewall. Turn off unnecessary networking software. Download and install Windows updates on a regular basis. Secure your Web
browser by using such options as setting its “security
zones.”
Remove system clutter
Delete any unneeded icons from the Windows desktop and Start menu tree. Each icon requires a little time
to process when the system is booting up, and each one
eats a bit of system memory. It seems like every bit of
software you install these days wants to claim its space
on your desktop, whether you need the program or not.
Right click on Start, then Properties, then the Start
Menu Tab.
Clean Out Fonts
Fonts are wonderful, but unused fonts are a drag on
system performance. Windows loads all your fonts at
bootup, just to keep them handy; but the more fonts you
have, the more resources Windows consumes in keeping
track of them. You probably have dozens of fonts you
won't ever need. Periodically go into Windows Fonts
folder – Start, then Run, and type in (C:\Windows\
Fonts) and remove any unused Fonts. Select each font
(hold down SHIFT or CTRL while clicking to select
contiguous or noncontiguous groups, respectively) and
choose Delete from the File menu. Double-click a font
to view a sample.
Do a disk cleanup
This will remove some of the junk that is cluttering
up the temporary file folder. Click on Start then All Programs then Accessories then System tools and finally
Disk Cleanup. Follow the instructions. This process will
take a few minutes.
Uninstall any software you will never use
Examples are the AOL and other ISP installations
preloaded at the factory, and any other preinstalled software. Access the Control Panel, select Add/Remove
Programs (Add/Remove Programs in Win98 and
WinMe), and systematically remove anything that isn’t
absolutely necessary. You need to decide what is necessary to you. Reboot after each uninstall for the best results.
Run MSCONFIG
Go to Start then Run. Type in msconfig and click
on the startup tab. Then uncheck any program you do
not want to start when the computer starts. These programs take time to run when the system starts up, and
they take up precious system memory. This will keep
the icons from appearing in the Windows Navigation
Tray on the right side of the task bar.
Defragment the hard drive
A full hard drive isn't your only potential problem.
Even with plenty of free space on a drive, the file system can become so fragmented that Windows can't efficiently access and store data. The OS stores information
on a hard drive in sectors. When there aren't enough
contiguous sectors available, Windows stores parts of
files in different places on the disk and then keeps track
of them all in a file allocation table. Removing files and
applications further scatters sectors on the disk. Thus,
over time, fragmentation occurs as more and more files
are split up and stored in more and more places. And,
because the system has to search more places to find
files and work harder to put them together, fragmentation is a major drag on system performance. Run Windows Disk Defragmenter tool to rearrange files in the
most optimal way.
You may have to reboot and defrag several times to
get the hard drive defragmented and the files compacted
completely. From the Start menu, open Programs, Accessories, and then System Tools.
Open the Disk Defragmenter utility. In WinXP, let
the utility analyze each drive to assess its level of frag-
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 6
mentation and determine whether it's worth defragging.
Do you have any running processes that don't
need to be running?
Check this by doing Ctrl, Alt, Delete, choose
Process tab, make sure that everything that is running
is necessary. You can also try this to see what is preloading: Start > Run, type in "msconfig" (without the
quotes) Click the Boot.ini tab and then select the /SOS
switch. Now instead of seeing that black and white
progress bar, you will now see in real time what files
are being loaded. This can give you a clue as to where
it is hanging up.
Keep it simple
WinXP's default set of animations and transitions
is pleasing to the eye. But it doesn't do your PC any
favors, especially if your hardware is a couple years
old. All that sliding, fading, and shadowing takes a
toll on memory and processing power. But WinXP
animations aren't an all-or-nothing proposition. You
can customize which effects to use or let Windows
handle the decisions. Access your System Properties
from the Control Panel (or by right-clicking My Computer and selecting Properties). Select Advanced then
select Settings under Performance. Select Adjust for
best performance. All entries will be unchecked. You
can then selectively check any animations and transitions that you would like to keep. Click apply and OK.
Windows's Disk Cleanup utility will help you free
up hard drive space, giving Windows and other applications more room to work.
Navigate to the Advanced tab and select the Settings button in the Performance category. Prioritize
performance, appearance, or let Windows choose a
middle route. Alternately, choose the Custom option
and enable or disable specific visual effects by checking or unchecking their respective entries.
File System
Organize and maintain your files to keep your PC
running smoothly. Here are some tips for the specific
areas.
Make room
A full hard drive will bog down your system on
all fronts. For one, as the drive fills up, Windows has
to search more and more data to fulfill each request.
More importantly, though, a full disk hinders the OS's
ability to move files around temporarily and to manage virtual memory. First, empty the Recycle bin. You
can easily lose hundreds of megabytes to files just sit-
ting around waiting to be fully deleted. Then, run Microsoft's Disk Cleanup utility. From the Start menu,
you will need to go to Programs, Accessories, and
System Tools. Open Disk Cleanup, select the drive,
and click OK. The utility will analyze the system and
offer suggestions. Check each box and click OK.
Next, uninstall unused applications. From Windows'
Control Panel, select Add/ Remove Programs. Remove any programs you don't use, especially applications preinstalled by the manufacturer. Finally, archive infrequently used data to removable storage.
Remove temporary files
Disk Cleanup doesn't get rid of everything. Free
up even more space by manually searching for and
deleting temporary files. Most applications use temporary files to store session-specific information, back
up active files, and (in theory) delete them when you
close the program. But sometimes, for a variety of reasons, temporary files aren't deleted. So they sit, taking
up valuable disk space, and not doing anything remotely useful. Open Windows' Search tool (called
Find in Win98) from the Start menu. Find all files beginning with a tilde (~) (search for "~*.*") and all files
with a .TMP file extension (search for "*.tmp"). Remove any that aren't immediately associated with an
open file or application.
Perform regular maintenance
Don't make Disk Cleanup, temporary file removal,
Disk Defragmenter, and antivirus scanning one-time
activities. Without proper maintenance, system speed
will continue to degrade needlessly. Schedule these
activities using built-in tools (as with most antivirus
programs) or using Windows' Task Scheduler. From
the Start menu, navigate to Programs, Accessories,
and System Tools. Open Scheduled Tasks. Doubleclick Add Scheduled Task to launch the Scheduled
Task Wizard. Choose an application you want to run
(Disk Cleaner, for example), set the schedule, and enter the login information of a user with permissions to
run the program.
A Little Goes A Long Way
The secret to optimal PC performance is recognizing that every little improvement helps. By implementing a variety of techniques, including those we
just described, you’ll slowly but surely see system
performance improve and maintain itself at a peak
level.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 7
Friendly Online Librarians Never Say Shhh!
By Gabriel Goldberg, APCUG Advisor; Columnist, AARP Computer & Technology Website, www.aarp.org
Libraries have improved since baby boomers attended grade school. Research assistance once only
available in person or by telephone is blossoming into diverse online "ask a librarian" services, handling
questions ranging from general curiosity and homework-related to business research.
Growing up, I was lucky to live just a few
blocks from a great neighborhood library. I fondly
remember the children's librarian encouraging my
love of reading and books. The library was rebuilt
while I was in elementary school; I was recently
shocked that the "new" library was undergoing renovation and improvement. Then I realized that what
seems like yesterday was five decades ago!
The good news for us all – near libraries or not –
is that libraries have greatly improved in that 50
years. Research assistance once only available in person or by telephone is blossoming into diverse online
"ask a librarian" services. These handle all sorts of
questions: general curiosity, homework-related, business research, etc. Just don't expect medical or legal
advice.
E-mail assistance has been available for some
time. Librarians sometimes like it because they can
answer questions as they have time, and it avoids people waiting on line or holding on the phone. But it can
be slow if a question must be clarified – that's important, since people often don't ask what they really
want answered! And online interaction lacks face-toface intimacy, voice tone, body language, which all
help communication.
In addition to accepting e-mail, libraries use Web
forms for submitting queries, take questions via instant messaging, and offer interactive Web chats.
Highly interactive instant messaging and Web chats
allow quick conversations, often providing answers
within a few minutes. Newer technologies such as
VoIP (voice over IP, Internet telephony) and MS (cell
phone text messaging) may soon increase research
availability.
Library policies vary regarding answering nonresident questions; some specialized queries (local
history, obituaries, newspaper clippings, etc.) must be
handled by a library near the area of interest. That
brings genealogy questions from far away as people
research their ancestors.
Most queries are handled at no cost, though some
searches incur charges. A library card usually isn't
needed. Some libraries currently mail printed research
results; e-mailing images will provide faster service
and reduce costs.
Behind-the-scenes technology helps librarians
manage queries, ensuring that all questions are answered and eliminating duplicate responses. Shortcuts
fill in frequently-used answers.
The same sorts of questions are asked online as
are posed by phone or in person, with the addition of
sensitive areas such as sexual issues. Queries often
deal with homework – math, science-fair challenges,
etc. – and country reports. Librarians enjoy the occasional obscure gem, such as being asked about
"modeling the economic infrastructure of railroads in
Great Britain".
The geek expression "24x7" means that something is available all day, every day. Since people expect this full-time access to e-mail, the Web, shopping, banking, and other online services, they're enthusiastic about being able to ask questions whenever
they occur.
But it's hard for libraries to provide this neveranticipated level of service, especially when off-hours
demand may be limited. So they support each other
locally/nationally/internationally by sharing roundthe-clock assistance chores. Questions are entered
locally and routed to on-duty librarians – who sometimes work from home in pajamas, answering offhours long-distance queries.
Even librarians sometimes need help – so their
worldwide Stumpers mailing list lets them share baffling questions.
Librarians and the public are learning together to
use electronic tools. New technologies facilitate supporting diverse clienteles by – for example – facilitating non-English services.
Here are a few tips regarding online queries: provide your name/e-mail/phone for answering and clarification; use plain text (not formatted) for easy reading; don't nag, allow time for an answer – but follow
up in a week or so. Finally, contact the correct library
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 8
A library in Plymouth, Michigan has received queries about Plymouths in Massachusetts and England!
Using online library services is easy once you
have an Internet connection. Some libraries favor
PCs with Windows and the Internet Explorer Web
browser, but Linux and Macintosh systems are increasingly supported. There's generally no software
download or install. Browser pop-up blockers or
firewalls sometimes get in the way, but they're easily
customized.
Start by finding your library's Web site. For example, I locate my library by submitting "fairfax
county" library to Google [www.google.com]. Or I
could click from my county government Web site to
the library pages. Or Googling library questions
yields many library sites offering answers. Then
look for links like Ask-A-Librarian! or "Homework
Help!. Links and services will vary; when I click
Ask-A-Librarian, I can choose between chatting, emailing, or (of course) actually visiting a library.
Getting Rid of Startup Items
Daily Tip from Smart Computing
The major problem with getting rid of startup items
is that they can be in four different places on your PC.
The easiest place to find and remove startup applications is in Windows’ Startup folder. From the Start
menu, select Programs (All Programs, in Windows
XP) and find the Startup folder. Delete anything that
doesn’t absolutely need to run automatically all the
time. Firewall and antivirus applications are two of the
very few types of programs that should always be running on your PC. Not all vendors are up front enough
to place their applications in the Startup folder, however.
Use Windows’ System Configuration Utility to remove hidden startup applications. From the Run
prompt (in the Start menu) type msconfig and click
OK. Select the Startup tab to check out what other
apps are launching at bootup. Uncheck anything nonessential. Many processes and programs have cryptic
or obscure names. It may be difficult to tell which program is which, when you’re trying to remove them.
(MSN Messenger, for instance, appears as “msmsgs.”)
Remove programs from the startup list with caution.
When in doubt, search the Web to find out what a particular process is supposed to do.
If the offending program isn’t in there, try going
into My Computer, double-clicking your hard drive,
In researching this article I challenged my library with two questions. I was delighted that they
quickly named the obscure British TV show whose
name I couldn't remember (The Duchess of Duke
Street) and found a science-fiction book containing a
short story I wanted to reread.
No matter how they evolve, whether as buildings or online, libraries' core mission is everlasting:
providing timely information in a customer-friendly
format.
This article originated on AARP's Computers and
Technology Web site, www.aarp.org/computers, 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 gabe( at )gabegold.com 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.
then choosing Documents and Settings, All Users,
Start menu, Programs, and Startup.
If you still haven’t found the program, it’s time to
check your Registry. Open the Registry Editor by going to the Start menu, choosing Run, typing regedit
and pressing ENTER. (NOTE: Use caution whenever
you edit your Registry. Some tips involve editing the
Registry, a critical file in your OS. Always back up
your system before making any Registry changes. Registry errors may render your computer unusable, so
tips involving Registry changes are for more advanced
users.) Now click the little plus sign (+) next to
HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Scroll down and click
Software, then Microsoft, then Windows, then CurrentVersion, then Run. Scroll through the panel on the
right. One line should show the file name of the offending program. Scroll back to the left, click the beginning of the line and press Delete.
Still looking? There’s one more place to check. Go
up to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, then choose Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, and Run.
That’s the last place a startup program might be hiding. Finally, close the Registry Editor and restart your
computer. The program will no longer run at startup.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
http://www.smartcomputing.com/groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 9
RSS Explained
By Phil Shapiro, member of the Capital PC User Group, Virginia Macintosh Users Group, Washington Apple
Pi, Young Hackers and Scholars Libre Users Group
RSS - really simple syndication – is a laborsaving tool that allows people to tune in to information
sources that interest them. The information source
could be a blog, a podcast, a videocast or any Web
site that includes RSS feeds.
The value of RSS accrues when you subscribe to
multiple RSS feeds. You can then monitor multiple
information streams with a minimum of effort.
There are many different software tools for subscribing to RSS feeds. One of the most popular is a
Web site named Bloglines. Some Web browsers,
like Safari 2.x and Firefox, let you subscribe to
RSS feeds. Firefox lets you do so using something
called Live Bookmarks, as well as a Firefox extension named Sage.
RSS's primary value is that it brings information
to you without your having to visit multiple Web
sites. In a knowledge economy, anything that
streamlines the flow of information from producer
to consumer gives benefit to both of them. You tune
in to the information you want, and tune out what
you don't want.
Examples of How RSS Simplifies Peoples' Lives
I asked some technology consultants to explain
how RSS brings value to peoples' lives. Curtis
Brown at MissionMovers.org, in Seattle, is a strong
believer in RSS. He explains, "RSS has invaded
every part of our life, but we just don't know it. RSS
is an information-delivery method that gives added
convenience to both senders and receivers of it."
As an example, RSS feeds can be used by a nonprofit organization to distribute different kinds of
information to different people. One RSS feed could
be the organization's calendar of events or classes.
Another could be a call for volunteers. A third feed
might be information for funders. The more feeds an
organization offers, the more narrowly tailored is
the information delivered to people served by that
organization or supporting it.
Here are some other examples. A used-car
dealer can have an RSS feed that details newly arrived used cars. A public library can have an RSS
feed of newly purchased books. A police department can have separate RSS feeds for different
neighborhoods, giving up-to-date information on
safety concerns in each neighborhood.
Curtis Brown explains that information received
in an RSS feed can be filtered by keyword and colorized in text, so you have control over it. You decide the ways in which that stream of information is
going to serve your needs.
Curtis explains that RSS feeds become immensely useful when people work collaboratively in
a wiki. (A wiki is a Web page that different people
can edit.) Changes to the Web page can be monitored via an RSS feed. This allows anyone participating in the wiki to have a clear idea of who is adding the most value to the wiki. RSS allows for better
monitoring and gives added transparency to the collaborative process.
Curtis goes on to explain that there are two
kinds of RSS feeds – static feeds and dynamic
feeds. A static feed might be sports scores or the
feed from a single blog. A dynamic feed is a stream
of information where there is searching going on to
pull out specific pieces of information to add to the
stream. It's also possible to combine several RSS
feeds into a single new feed. One Web site that lets
you do that is rssmix.com. Why would you want to
do that? Suppose you live in a metropolitan area
with many different library systems spanning several counties. Each library system provides an RSS
feed of events happening within its locale. If you'd
like to keep track of events in all the counties,
rssmix.com would let you combine their RSS feeds.
Another RSS enthusiast, Bruce Roy, in Sydney,
Australia explains: "I have found the SS facility in
The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding
(TNG) very useful for the family tree site. It enables
people interested in following the family tree to get
information about changes to the tree without having to check the Web site's ‘What's New?’ or wade
through the data."
One other advantage of RSS is that it lets you
tune out mainstream media and tune in to alternative
media and personal media. If you find the CBS Evening News a touch thin in how it covers the news,
with RSS you have an alternative source of news
where news stories don't need to be squeezed into
45-second slots.
Another RSS enthusiast, Winthrop Morgan, in
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 10
the Washington D.C. area, had this to add: “I
highly recommend you consider including Join
Together Online as a great Win-Win-Win model.
Join Together Online (JTO) (http://www.join together.org) has long been a pioneer in using the
Internet to support people working on substance
abuse and gun violence issues. Every month, one
million JTO Web pages are viewed by over
350,000 people.
“JTO uses RSS feeds not only to help their
Web presence spread, but also to provide vital data
to support state, municipal, and nonprofit drug
treatment and prevention program managers and
their audiences. While these programs' Web masters might have a modest Web presence, they lack
the wherewithal to continuously produce new content, or even gather and republish it. Without new
content, their audiences lack a reason to come
back to their Web site. The JTO RSS service enormously increases both the return-visit value of
these sites and the presence of authoritative information in this highly charged information space.
To keep the RSS feeds fresh and riveting, JTO employs a small editorial staff who aggregate both
online and offline news on substance abuse funding, policies, and more from authoritative sources.
They edit this news down to its essential content,
and then republish it via RSS, as well as to users of
their site and subscribers to their e-mail news services."
RSS Relieves Cluttered E-mail Inboxes
If you have traditionally received a lot of your
information via e-mail, RSS can provide some relief to your inbox. Would you like to follow a particular e-mail list, but can't stomach subscribing to
one more such list? If that list is on Yahoogroups,
you can follow the list via its RSS feed. An excellent free tool for reading RSS feeds is Bloglines.
(http://www.bloglines.com)
RSS feeds are almost always spam-free. The
provider of an RSS feed doesn't want you to unsubscribe from the feed, so it treats you with respect.
Ben Sheldon, in Lowell, Massachusetts, passes
along this RSS tip: "Google still only offers e-mail
news alerts, but this utility lets you create an RSS
feed out of any Google News search term [http://
www.justinpfister.com/gnewsfeed.cfm]. I aggregate
my name, my projects (DigitalBicycle, ServiceSpeak), and my street and city so that if some-
thing happens I should know about, I will get it."
I'll pass along a few small tips of my own. I
use RSS, Bloglines and my Digg.com account to
keep track of what Digg stories my friends are digging (i.e. voting for). I just copy the RSS feed
from the bottom left of http://digg.com/users/
pshapiro/friends and then paste it into Add Feed in
Bloglines.
Between Katie Couric and the 50 friends I
have on Digg, which do you think provides the
richer quality of information to me? Just for kicks
I subscribe to the Associated Press RSS feed, so
I'm in the loop with whatever Katie knows.
I also use the free service at Squeet.com to
send me an e-mail whenever one of my friends
submits a story to Digg.com, so they don't have to
let me know about their submissions. That e-mail
alert capability might well come to Digg sometime.
I use RSS to keep alerted to new items of interest that are posted to Del.icio.us. For example, if
anyone submits an item to Del.icio.us with the tag
digitalstorytelling, I find out about that really easily in my Bloglines account. That puts me in touch
with anyone doing digital storytelling without my
having to subscribe to more e-mail lists. I like that.
Phil Shapiro is a former president of Virginia Macintosh Users Group and worked as the Washington DC
Regional Coordinator for Community Technology Centers' Network, an international network of more than
1,000 organizations bringing technology and technology training to underserved communities.
He can be reached at http://www.digitaldivide.net/
profile/pshapiro and at [email protected] His blog is
at http://philsrssfeed.blogspot.com
This article may be freely reprinted by any computer user group or nonprofit entity. The article has
been distributed via the The MUG Center's Newsletter
Content List.
This article -- with associated links-- can be found
on the Web at http:// rssexplained- .blogspot.com
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 11
Tech News
By Sue Crane, Editor, Big Bear Computer Club, California
Cosmeo is bringing Discovery’s online encyclopedia into homes via its Web site. The site resembles the screen of a handheld game device and
features video clips and interactive games. Content
providers, including Scholastic Corporation and the
Public Broadcasting Service, are customized to
meet the curriculum standards of different states.
The service is available for $9.95/month.
Microsoft announced that it has delayed the
mainstream launch of Vista until next year. Steve
Sinofsky, the head of the Office unit, has been
tapped to lead Windows development. Following its
push back of Windows Vista, Microsoft confirms
the Office 2007 release will move to next year as
well. It’s been reported on a number of blog sites
that Microsoft will release Windows Vista with 8
different versions, but no pricing information is
available yet.
Microsoft is also building in a tool, Windows
Performance Rating, that will rate a PC, based on
how well it is running and on how much it can take
advantage of Vista’s capabilities to help average
consumers easily understand their Windows Vista
PC’s overall performance. As for systems slowing
down over time, that’s another issue that Microsoft
is trying to tackle. Meanwhile, Vista is being designed to shut the door on spyware. It will introduce important changes at the heart of the operating
system, as well as to Internet Explorer, and include
Windows Defender, an anti-spyware tool.
An error in McAfee’s virus definition file released mid-March caused consumer and enterprise
antivirus products to flag Microsoft Excel, AdobeUpdateManager and other applications on users
PCs as a virus called “W95/CTX”. Files were deleted or quarantined, depending on the user’s settings.
When Microsoft first talked about Windows
Live in November, most of the “Live” products
were MSN services that had been rebranded. Since
then Microsoft has added more than a dozen new
products under the Windows Live umbrella. MSN
executive David Cole explains, “Microsoft’s goal
is to continuously update and launch products”.
Over the next 3-6 months, Microsoft expects to
ship more Windows Live technology into the marketplace than during their entire 10-year OS history. Microsoft’s new ad-serving engine, AdCenter,
is at the heart of Windows Live. AdCenter draws on
user demographic information to help drive more
targeted marketing. Microsoft has even talked
about using advertising as a way to pay for traditional desktop software. Meanwhile, the list of Windows Live services continues expanding to include
all the basic portal services.
Take a look at the Ice Weasels, Space Cookies
and Cheesy Poofs, high-school teams competing
for top merit in the 15th annual robotics contest
sponsored by FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). With about
$10,000 worth of donated hardware and software,
high-school students are given six weeks to assemble a functioning robot that can move around a
court and shoot Nerf basketballs for points. Part of
the challenge is for teens to find and work with
mentors who are experts in technology and science.
Once registered, the teams are given three boxes of
hardware and software and a programming language called Easy C that allows them to write a
program for the robot’s onboard computer. Also
included is Autodesk’s 3D Max Studio animation
software so they can create a 30-second animation.
The game itself is roughly two minutes long, with
robots that are 2 feet wide by 4 feet high. For the
first 10 seconds, the robots must make as many
baskets as possible; the robot with the most points
from the first 10 seconds then gets to play offense.
Winning bots will go on to compete at Atlanta’s
Georgia Dome at the international finals.
Neurofeedback, a form of conditioning that
rewards people for producing specific brain waves,
taps youths’ fascination with animation and electronics to sweeten frightening medical treatments.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 12
While this form of treatment has been around for decades, incorporating video games marks a new frontier
that makes use of young people’s fascination with animation and electronics to sweeten often frightening,
lengthy and tedious medical treatments. Video games
are being used, for instance, to help sick children manage pain and anxiety during hospital stays. A young
leukemia patient inspired “Ben’s Game,” which let
him fight the cancer cells invading his body. A private
island called Brigadoon in Linden Lab’s “Second
Life” virtual world is open only to people with Asperger’s syndrome and autism. West Virginia’s public
schools are battling obesity by making “Dance Dance
Revolution”--a step-to-the-beat video game--part of
their curriculum, while Nintendo has made a splash
with its new “Brain Age” mind-exercising game. CyberLearning’s Smart BrainGames system targets
symptoms arising from brain injuries, attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. Priced at $584, the system is built on NASA technology that used video games and neurofeedback to
train pilots. Traditional treatments, such as prescribing
the stimulant Ritalin, behavioral therapy and education, are often covered by health insurance, while neurofeedback usually is not. Despite such hurdles, some
medical practitioners are advocating the new approach.
Kyle MacDonald is on the verge of successfully
completing a project that sounds absurd: Trading-with the help of a blog--a single red paper clip for a
house. Since embarking on his house hunt last year,
MacDonald has traded with people from across Canada and the United States and is now sitting on a
year’s free rent for an apartment in Phoenix. MacDonald is confident he’s going to succeed, and he
hopes it can happen by the July 12 anniversary of the
project’s launch. His goal is getting tantalizingly close.
The project has allowed him to initiate a ‘Net cult following that’s hoping he’ll succeed, too. Popular blogs
such as boingboing have been tracking his progress.
One-click Access to Frequently-Used Programs, Files and Folders
by Glenn Richards, Lake-Sumter Computer Society, Leesburg, FL grich32(at)yahoo.com
There are certain files, folders, programs, and Web
sites I access frequently during the day. To make this
easy I create shortcuts to them in the Quick Launch (QL)
toolbar that I normally keep hidden on the left side of
my Desktop. Moving the mouse cursor to the left side
of the screen un-hides the toolbar, and a single left-click
opens the shortcut.
All entries in this list at the left are shortcuts, so any
of them can be deleted without loss of the underlying
program or file. However, Internet shortcuts like YQ
will be deleted if the icon is deleted (but I keep a copy of
it in my Favorites folder).
The one thing that takes getting used to is that
sweeping the mouse cursor to the left edge of the screen
may un-hide the toolbar, thereby obscuring icons on the
Desktop or menu choices on a window. This is just a
matter of not letting the sharp point of the cursor get too
close to the edge of the Desktop window.
Since this toolbar auto-hides, it does not take up
any Desktop space. When I “un-hide” it (make it appear) by moving the mouse cursor to its position, the QL
toolbar moves out over icons at the left edge of the
screen and does not force those icons to shift over.
To start the QL Toolbar, right-click an empty spot
on the taskbar (which is often at the bottom of the
www.lscs.us
screen), then click on Toolbars, Quick Launch. Make
sure the taskbar is not locked (right-click the taskbar to
see). A new rectangle will appear near the middle of the
taskbar—the new QL toolbar. Move the mouse cursor
to the “handle” at the left end of the QL toolbar (to result
in the double-pointed arrow), press and hold the left
mouse button, drag it to the left edge of the screen above
the taskbar, and release the mouse button. Drag the
edges of the resulting toolbar to the shape shown.
Right-click an empty spot on the toolbar and click
“Always on top” and “Auto-Hide.” Other right-clicks
on this toolbar can lead to other options (I am using
large icons and no text).
(I have created my own icons for many of the
choices, so I can identify the functions from just the icon
– but that is another story.)
To add a shortcut to this QL toolbar, right-click the
toolbar, uncheck Auto-Hide. Then right-drag a program,
file, or other choice to the toolbar so a dark horizontal
bar appears, release the mouse button, click “Create
Shortcut Here.” The icon can be dragged up or down
the toolbar to whatever position you like. Once added,
right-click the toolbar again and hide it.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 13
Editorial License
Base-Ball, E-Mail & Pod Slurping, by Rod Scher
Some years ago, journalist/commentator Edwin
Newman wrote a noteworthy and provocative book
titled, “Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death
of English?” In it, he postulated that English had degenerated, and he mostly blamed politicians, businesspeople, and general linguistic indolence for what he
saw as the deterioration of our national language.
The book was written with wit, passion, and a
superb command of the language in question, and it
set off a firestorm of debate. But the book's very
premise was questionable. “Strictly Speaking” presented English as a static entity that needed protecting, as if it were like an automobile that required
regular waxing in order to prevent its otherwise inevitable decay. Newman treated language as something
that never changes, a tool that’s somehow supposed to
reflect culture without being allowed to respond to it.
As any linguist or lexicographer will tell you, the only
languages like that are the so-called “dead” languages.
As computer users, we know very well that languages do change and that English is far from dead.
All you have to do to see that is pick up a computer
magazine. (Hey, what luck! You’re holding one in
your hands right now.) Flip through it and count the
terms that would have made no sense at all when
Newman wrote his book. Here are just a few: social
networking, podcast, mashup, Wi-Fi, blog, ripping,
PDA, multicore, GB, MB, TB, Web café, beta, virtualization, MP3, MP3 player. (Many such terms began
as nouns but have since spawned related verb usages:
“I decided to Google him to find out.” Or “Did you
DVR last night’s show for me?”)
There are hundreds more, of course, but the management here foolishly limits me to only one page of
commentary.
Now, don’t send me nasty emails. I’m not an
advocate of linguistic anarchy, nor do I believe that
the rules of grammar and usage are irrelevant. I am an
editor, after all, and a recovering English teacher. I
spend a great deal of time unsplitting infinitives and
rescuing poor, helpless participles that have been left
dangling in terror. I spend many hours adding serial
commas, changing “to” to “too” (or vice versa), and
removing errant apostrophes. (“I think it’s problem is
that its broken.” “Avocado’s For Sale!”) When we
editors get together, our idea of a good time is a
heated argument about whether we can use “while” in
place of “although” or whether “on-the-fly” needs to
be hyphenated. Let’s face it: No one knows how to
have fun like a bunch of editors. (Well, I suppose it’s
possible that a particularly rowdy group of molecular
biologists could outdo us in the excitement department.) The fact is, though, that language does evolve.
Constructions change, “rules” of grammar are revised.
Words are added to the language and then those
words change in turn.
The word “email” is a perfect example. In the
1960s, the word didn’t exist at all. An engineer named
Ray Tomlinson sent what is arguably the first true
email in late 1971. As the technology evolved, the
process of sending messages to specific nodes on a
network quickly became known as “electronic mail.”
From there, it was a short step to abbreviating it as “email.”
Most of us can remember when “email” was
routinely hyphenated. In fact, most new words that are
created by compounding—that is, by adding a new
prefix to an existing term—are at first hyphenated.
Back in the 1800s, for instance, the word “baseball”
was for several years printed as “base-ball.”
But language (if it is not dead) evolves, and it
tends to evolve toward simplification. One example of
that is the tendency to remove such hyphens as people
become familiar with the term in question. Thus,
“base-ball” became “baseball” and “e-mail” is in the
process of becoming “email.”
In the world of technology, of course, language
changes even more swiftly than in other areas. Why?
Because technology itself changes more rapidly than
most things. As a reader of Smart Computing, you’re
well aware of this tendency and of how difficult it can
be to keep up. There are just too many changes (and
then changes to the changes) to stay on top of everything. Fun to try, though, isn’t it?
And speaking of new tech terms, next month,
let’s talk about my favorite: “pod slurping.” You
could look that one up ahead of time, but it’s possible
that it will have disappeared or evolved into something else by then.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing.
Visit http://www.smartcomputing.com/groups to learn
what Smart Computing can do for you.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 14
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NVPCUG Computer News, June 2006, Page 15
Web 2.0 and Portable Computing.
By John Abbott, member of the Bentsen Grove Resort Computer Club, Mission Texas
Portable Computing has always lagged behind the
rest of the computing market. This is probably because
there are currently fewer mobile devices than computers.
But that is about to change. According to Steve Rupel
(leading PR company on the planet) billions of mobile
devices will reach the market this year and by 2010 there
will be 50 million of them sold quarterly.
Mobile device? You won't be calling them Pocket PC
or Cell Phone long; maybe PCC for Personal Communication Center. The merger of all forms of digital communications is rapidly taking shape. Cell phones now
contain very limited access to the Web, receive very limited e-mail, and take limited resolution pictures – oh,
and they work as phones too. With smaller and morelow-powered devices quickly coming on scene, these
limits will expand exponentially.
My project over the past month has been the installation of an operating system on a USB Flash-memory
Device (UFD). I started with a full-blown Linux distribution on a USB 80 gigabyte micro hard drive. Well,
after some real torture and lots and lots of reading I
managed to get it operational. However, in editing the
boot file I managed to misspell something, and now I've
got to start all over again.
But I did find a couple of small Linux distributions:
Damn Small Linux and Puppy Linux. I downloaded the
ISO files for each and started working on a flash drive.
Today I managed to get the thumb drive fully functional.
Along the way I've learned a lot about what I still need
to learn about executing from a CD or a UFD. But DSL
in a tube really works.
Why do this? Well, because I know that Web 2.0 is
going to dominate the future of the Web. With more and
more of the platform being located on the Internet, less
and less will be required on your local computer. The
computer will take on more and more of the role of thin
client (from a client/server relationship where all the
applications are on the server). This in turn will have a
direct impact on the cost of computers, which will no
longer have to come with expensive third party software.
So I created a portable thin client.
Web 2.0 (platform on the web) will take away a great
deal of the chest thumping over O/S because the web
interacts with all operating systems. The feature-rich
Web already offers online mail processing that works
perfectly with thin client or host computer. I am an advocate of Google's Gmail. I can access it on the Web
where it neatly threads my messages and stores up to 2.5
Gigabytes of mail in the in-basket or in the searchable
archive. From within that mail system I can also originate chats with my friends and maintain my calendar. I
can make my calendar, or part of it, accessible to colleagues for event coordination.
I can use Zohowriter.com for my word processor.
Zoho is a full-strength word processor with all the power
you find in Works, Word or Open Office (or any of the
dozen or so other word processors available). I am able
to store my documents on-line, download them to my
computer, publish them on the site so they can be collaborated by associates with whom I have previously
arranged access. I can upload files from remote files (my
computer or yours) and modify and store or simply store
them online. And as an added feature, I can use Zoho as
a mail client; sending, receiving and originating e-mail.
Zoho automatically assigns you an e-mail account when
you register (free).
There will be some who say: “Well, I can have several programs open at once on my desktop.” And my
response would be, Fine; I have multiple Web pages
open on my computer as I use Zoho to write this. I have
a page set up with Wikipedia to check facts, the weather,
my Google mail, my personal mail Web account, XM
radio playing great jazz. And in a few moments I'll open
another and watch the news on TV – all from my thumb
drive. I sure hope my Gizmo or Skype phones don't ring
during the news!
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, June 2006, Page 16
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