COMPUTER NEWS Network Neutrality to Be Discussed by

COMPUTER NEWS  Network Neutrality to Be Discussed by
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
Volume 24, No. 1
Inside This Issue:
2 President’s Message
2 Special Interest Groups
2 Calendar
3 Officers List
4 NVPCUG Holidays Party Photos
5 Member of the Year Award
6 Free and Open Software
8 Tour the World With World Wind
10 The New, Best and Worst
11 Tiips From Smart Computing
12 Review: Books for Non-Dummies
13 Vista Transformation Pack
14 XP Disk Maintenance Tools
16 Skype
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 573 computers and 136 printers. Additional equipment has been
given to charitable nonprofit organizations and disadvantaged individuals.
January, 2007
Network Neutrality to Be Discussed by
Calvin Ross January 17
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users group will meet
Wednesday, January 17, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity
Center, 1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California.
The main presentation, by Calvin Ross, will feature recent developments in the area of network neutrality that affect the prices to be charged
Internet users for DSL and other services.
Here’s what just happened: While pursuing a merger with BellSouth to
become the largest telecommunications company
in America, the new AT&T was compelled to
make major concessions in order to get FCC approval.
Of key interest to Internet proponents is
AT&T’s agreement to guarantee net neutrality.
The leading Internet network providers, including
AT&T, MCI, Sprint, Qwest and others had been
lobbying Congress over the past year or so to allow
a multi-tiered service system, enabling the teleCalvin Ross
coms to charge certain Web companies more for
better, elite services. By implication, other, smaller entities on the Web
would end up with inferior pipelines on the Net, leading to deteriorating
service by comparison.
On the Web site, Tim Wu of Columbia University
made it clear that the net neutrality concession was tight enough to carry
real promise for the future, calling it a “milestone in the history of the
Internet.” Ross will explain the ramifications of the decision.
Ross is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register and a long-time computer instructor at the Napa Valley College.
Preceding the main presentation, Jerry Brown will lead the Random
Access portion of the meeting with an open-floor question-and-answer period, during which attendees can ask questions about computers
Following this, there will be a Computer Tutor session at which Jeff
Solomon, Computer Tutor coordinator, will demonstrate and discuss how
to cut, copy and paste text, images and data into and from various applications. He will show how to share information between Word, Excel, PDF
files, and internet browsers.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 1
President’s Message --
Happy New Year
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 ,, 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]
Investors SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
Macintosh SIG
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]
It has been a few years since I wrote a President’s Message for the Computer News.
As I started this message I found myself thinking about doom and gloom. I
then realized that I should keep in mind how I have a cold I brought back from
Virginia before sending it in for publication. So Happy New Year!
This year has already started differently from the past couple. For one thing,
we have a full Board of Directors to run the organization. I want to welcome the
new members of that group
Returning to the Board of Directors this year from extended absences are
Jerry Brown, Bernhard Krevet, and Ken Manfree, and new to the board are
Bob Simmerman, Kathy Slavens, Jeff Solomon, and Marcia Waddell.
I also want to thank those who stayed on for their dedication. They are Susy
Ball, Jim Gillespie, Dick Peterson, Dianne Prior, Jim Stirling, Dean Unruh,
and Roy Wagner. See our current list of officers in this newsletter and/or on our
Web site,
While new leaders are stepping in, several valuable people are moving on to
other endeavors. As Vice President for the 2006 board and President for the 2007
board I want to thank the outgoing board members and officers. Orion E. Hill is
staying with Computers to Schools (CTS) but is not serving on the board. Julie
Jerome is taking a year off. John Moore is going to concentrate on the CTS program. Mike Moore is going to enjoy some retirement time. John Simcoe was
forced to leave due to a serious mishap. (My thoughts and prayers are still with
John.) Bill Wheadon is going to do some flying he has been missing. I think I can
speak for the entire 2006 and 2007 boards in saying thank you for your dedicated
service and we hope you will enjoy time away from NVPCUG responsibilities.
For those new members of the board and officers I know that the job or jobs
you have agreed to or will agree to do may seem to be overwhelming, but I want
to point out that we are not a major corporation dependent on our stock price
and/or profit for survival. We are just a small group of people with an interest in
computers. It is true that if no one were willing to take on the responsibilities
needed to keep our group going we would falter and go the way so many groups
went when that happened
If you are assigned or volunteer to do a job, just do the best you can and remember that there are people who will help if you ask. I am looking forward to
working with each of you this year. Many hands make the load lighter.
Reminder to all: If you haven’t paid your 2007 dues and your membership
expires in December 2006 or January 2007, now is the time to take care of them.
Susy is working on scheduling meaningful and useful presentations this year.
With Cal Ross as our first presenter we are off to a good start. Cal’s talks are always interesting and informative. If you have any friends that might benefit from
our group, this is a perfect meeting to which you could invite them. If they join,
that would be great; but the main thing is to let people know who we are and what
we are doing.
NVPCUG Calendar
January 17
February 7
February 8
February 12
February 14
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
6:30-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
Computers-to-Schools work parties. To volunteer, contact Orion Hill, (707) 252-0637.
NVPCUG General Meeting,
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Macintosh SIG meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Investors SIG meeting, Jerry Brown’s home, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Digital Photography SIG meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2006
Board of Directors
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Vice President
Jerry Brown
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
Other Directors:
Susy Ball, Jim Gillespie, Bernhard Krevet, Ken Manfree, Dick Peterson, Dianne Prior, Bob Simmerman, Kathy Slavens, Jeff Solomon,
James Stirling, Dean Unruh
Ken Manfree
Held the third Wednesday of each month
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Appointed Officers
Computer Recycling
Computer Tutor
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Greeter Coordinator
Membership Director
Mentor Program
Newsletter Circulator
Newsletter Editor
Product Review Coord.
Product Review Coord.
Programs Director
Publicity Director
Random Access Moderator
Special Projects Director
Come to the NVPCUG
General Meetings
Jeff Solomon
[email protected]
[email protected]
Orion E. Hill
[email protected]
Dianne Prior
[email protected]
Bob Simmerman
Dean Unruh
Dianne Prior
Dick Peterson
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Jim Hearn
James Stirling
Susy Ball
Marcia Waddell
Susy Ball
Ron Dack
Jerry Brown
Jeff Solomon
Ron Dack
Napa Senior Activities
1500 Jefferson Street,
[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 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
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 © 2007 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 3
Pictures From the NVPCUG Holidays Party,
December 20, 2006
On the evening of December 20, members of the
NVPCUG held their annual Holidays Party at the
home of Dick and Sandy Peterson, in their Christmas Tree Farm. During the party they enjoyed a potluck dinner, were introduced to the officer staff for
2007, and saw presentations of appreciation made to
members. And they had much opportunity to socialize.
Dick Peterson and Dick Wolff (NVPCUG
founding member). (Photo by Susy Ball)
Dianne Prior receives laptop from Susy
(Photo by Orion Hill)
Orion Hill and Ami Bedi discuss the silent
(Photo by Susy Ball)
Kathy Slavens and snowman.
(Photo by Susy Ball)
Lou Schirm, Swede Olmstead and Linda Kemp.
(Photo by Susy Ball)
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 4
NVPCUG Member of the Year Award, 2006
By Dianne Prior
At the NVPCUG Holidays Party
held December 20, 2006, Susy Ball
was recognized as Outstanding
Member of the Year for 2006 and
was given a certificate and gift basket by outgoing President Dianne
Prior. Susy was selected by the
2006 Board of Directors at its final
meeting December 6.
Prior pointed out that this award is
not intended to honor the member
who has given the most support to
the group, but rather to recognize a
member who, based on his/her service and other considerations, has
provided significant support over the
past year or several years.
Susy moved to Napa from
Fresno in March of 2005. She came
into the NVPCUG at a time when
they were in need of an energized
volunteer, jumping right in and participating in every aspect of their
activities, including being elected to
the Board of Directors for both 2006
and 2007. She faithfully attended
board and regular meetings.
Susy Ball receives recognition gifts from Dianne Prior
Susy became Programs Coordinator, presenting several of the programs herself and lining up
more vendors than the group had been able to get
in previous years. She has personally donated
some speaker gifts, raffle and door prizes and some
supplies for potluck activities. She also donated a
superseded laptop computer for use at NVPCUG
Susy took over as leader of the digital photography special interest group, helping members
learn many aspects of capturing, saving, sharing
and organizing their photos. She has provided
many pictures for use in the newsletter and Web
site. Along with Marcia Waddell, Susy acts as cocoordinator of Product Review. She has worked
with the Computers-to-Schools program in refur-
bishing computers, and has helped twice with the
June Recycling Event.
Before coming to Napa, Susy was an active
member of the Fresno Personal Computer Users
Group. She has also served as president and editor
of the Association of Personal Computer User
Groups (APCUG). Currently she also volunteers
Dianne and Susy on Radio Talk Show Dec. 4
On Monday, December 4, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.
Dianne Prior and Susy Ball were guests on the
Computer Outlook Radio Talk Show. They talked
about the NVPCUG and some of the programs it
is involved in. To listen to the broadcast go to:
and choose the 12-4-06 show and click the Play
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 5
Shopping for Free and Open-Source Software
by Bill Wayson, Member of the Channel Islands PC Users Group, California
By the time you read this, the holiday shopping season will be over and many of you will be
trying to figure out what to put on your new computer. It seems fitting, then, to make a few suggestions of programs you will find in your Web
browser-based shopping center, the Mall of Free
and Open Source Software, or the Mall of FOSS.
All of the suggestions made here are suitable not only
for users of Linux and BSD, but also for Windows diehards. In some cases, other operating systems, such as
the Mac and Solaris, are supported. So fire up your
computer and head on out to the Internet highway. You
can leave your credit card at home, for the goods at the
Mall of FOSS are priced most attractively: free.
The holidays are really meant for the child that resides in all of us, so spice up your PC with some fun
items. Start by stopping at the Really Slick Screensavers
Web site at Here you will
find out-of-this-world, mesmerizing screen savers that
range from “psychedelic” to “nauseating.” One includes
great sound effects. They all perform best with hardware-based video acceleration, but that should not be a
problem with recent hardware. Once you see these,
you'll never go back to the flying Windows or pipes.
Web browsers
Is your gift recipient still using Internet Explorer?
Head on over to to get Firefox
for him or her. Firefox is a great Web browser with such
features as tabbed browsing, configurable security, extensions that provide additional features, and themes
that change the look and feel. Firefox version 2.0 was
released Oct. 24. Or you can shop for a newer browser,
Flock, at Flock is based on the
same page-rendering engine, Gecko, that the Mozilla
family of browsers is built around. But Flock focuses on
sharing and connecting with other people online, with
enhanced support for blog posting, RSS feed integration, photo posting on Yahoo Flickr, and saving your
bookmarks on the Internet for sharing among all the
computers that you use..
Instant messaging
Maybe your giftee spends time in the world of instant messaging. If so, get Gaim, a multi-protocol instant
http:// Gaim will work with
several different protocols, including AIM, MSN,
Yahoo!, Jabber, ICQ and others, so it could become
the only IM client anyone needs. If someone prefers
the more traditional Internet Relay Chat (IRC), consider Xchat ( or Kvirc
Juice Receiver
Has someone on your holiday giving list complained about using iTunes on Windows? That person
may enjoy receiving an open-source replacement, Juice
Receiver, available at http://juicereceiver.source It has access to many of the same podcast
indexes that iTunes provides, as well as a number of indexes that it does not.
Bittorrent for file swapping
If you have diehard computer geeks on your list,
they most likely share files with their friends. The standard file-swapping protocol is bittorrent, and you will
find bittorrent clients for them at http:// and
Perhaps they have always wanted to create their own
dynamic Web site but have balked at the price of commercial Web server software for Windows or the Mac.
If so, head over to the XAMPP for Windows store at
XAMPP for Windows will give them everything they
need to build a robust, full-featured, dynamic Web site,
and it is ready to go out of the box.
Does anyone on your list want to try a different virus scanner? The shop at has
the open-source scanner, CLAMAV for Windows, available for you to give. They'll be getting a GUI-based virus scanner, free and automatic signature updates, and
scheduled virus scanning.
Outlook alternatives
The shops at
and offer alternatives to the Outlook e-mail client. The former site has
Thunderbird, an easy-to-use product of the Mozilla project, while the latter provides Evolution, which sports
additional support for calendaring and Microsoft Exchange e-mail servers.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 6
Moving on to applications, if there is one on your
gift list who does any sort of work with images, ranging from doctoring photographs to graphics for a Web
site, you owe it to them to stop off at http:// and pick up a copy of the
GIMP. Somewhat mischaracterized as the “Poor
Man’s Photoshop,” the GIMP provides a large range
of image processing tools and plugins, as well as a
framework for writing custom plugins. With the
GIMP, they’ll be able to do just about anything they'd
ever want to do to their pictures.
Or maybe you are looking for something for
someone who is into sound recording, someone who
perhaps was a Mr. or Miss A/V in high school? They
undoubtedly would really enjoy receiving the Audacity sound recorder, editor, and writer. Look for it at This powerful program literally will turn a PC into a full-featured sound
recording and production studio. Pair it with a professional-quality sound card, and it is hard to beat.
DVD-capable media players
Many of those on your gift list also want to be
entertained, and maybe they'd like to watch a DVD
while working at their computers. A couple of DVDcapable media players they would like can be found at, which offers the MPlayer
media player, and, which
offers the VideoLAN VLC player.
Office applications
Chances are the computer users on your holiday
gift list use traditional applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and the like. There
are several gifts in this category that you cannot go
wrong with. is possibly the most
popular open-source office application suite available.
The latest version, which can be found at http://, is highly compatible with Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and Powerpoint formats, and
all but the most complex of documents can be shared
in both directions. also supports outof-the-box export to PDF and Flash formats. is certainly not the only option in
this arena. The Abiword word processor from http:// is a mature product offering a
range of features. Since it is a lightweight user of
computer resources, it runs well on older hardware
that might bog down under, Microsoft
Office, and Vista.
GNUmeric, from
gnumeric/, is a nice, mature spreadsheet program that
has all the options and features your giftee wants for
the spreadsheet work. If someone would like something to help create pretty, Visio-like organizational
and flow charts, stop over at and pick them up a copy of
DIA, a diagramming tool.
PDFCreator, Scribus
Do your giftees need to produce PDF documents?
If so, they’ll be grateful to receive PDFCreator,
which is available at
PDFCreator works with any application that prints to
the Windows printing system, making it easy to create
not only PDF documents, but PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP,
PCX, PS, and EPS as well. Or maybe they want to
create professional-looking documents like brochures,
booklets, or newsletters. For them, take a trip to http:// and get them Scribus, a desktop
publishing system with many of the same page-layout
and formatting features you find in the more expensive commercial systems. Scribus also runs on Mac.
Web page design
Do you have a Web designer on your giving list?
He or she might like to receive Nvu (pronounced nview, and found at, a
WYSIWYG Web page editor that will remind you of
Dreamweaver. With its integrated FTP client, it may
be all an e-designer would need. Perhaps they prefer to develop their Web pages from scratch (or
someone on your list might like to get an advanced
text editor). If so, stop off at and pick them up a
copy of Notepad++, which is what Windows’ Notepad might be if it consumed strong steroids. It will
give your recipient syntax highlighting, autocompletion, WYSIWYG markup, bookmarking,
zooming, multi-document viewing, and much more.
I hope this gives you some ideas about where
look for your gift-giving needs. And do not forget
the most important person on your holiday gift list:
you! If anything here looks interesting, make sure
to get yourself a copy. The great thing about all the
stores offering FOSS software gifts is that they always have a great two-for-the-price-of-one sale going on, the perfect holiday sale.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 7
Tour the World With World Wind
Written by Rob Rice, a member of the Computer Club of Oklahoma City
Lots of folks are familiar with Google Earth, the
free downloadable virtual globe program. Yet, I am
finding that many have never heard of NASA’S
World Wind. World Wind is developed at the NASA
Ames Research Center and is an open-source competitor to Google Earth. While it has been around for
several years, it is a fascinating piece of software that
can keep you glued to your monitor for hours on end.
Like Google Earth, this free program maps the
earth by superimposing images obtained from satellite imagery and United States Geological Survey aerial photography over a 3D globe. Once the 60megabyte program has been downloaded and installed, then opened, you are treated to a true-color
image of the entire Earth from space. The globe can
be manipulated with your mouse. Use the mouse
wheel to zoom from satellite altitude down to any
place on earth. Hold the left button and move the
mouse to rotate the globe and the right button to tilt it.
The Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission data allows one to experience
Earth terrain in 3D, just as if you were flying low
over the landscape. Visit any place
in the world.
But as they say on TV, “Wait!
There’s more!” World Wind also
comes with virtual globes of the
Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and the Sloan Digital
Sky Server, which allows you to explore outer space.
A variety of views are available. Below is a summary from the World Wind Web site:
Blue Marble
World Wind has a full copy of
the Blue Marble, a spectacular truecolor image of the entire Earth as
seen on NASA's Earth Observatory:
the Blue Marble.
Put together from data of a variety of satellites
such as MODIS and Terra, the Blue Marble can be
seen in all its glory at 1 km per pixel resolution.
Land Sat 7
Using World Wind, you can continue to zoom
past Blue Marble and reveal the extremely detailed
seamless mosaic of LandSat 7
LandSat 7 is a collection of
images from 1999-2003 at an
impressive 15 m per pixel resolution. It includes other color bands such as the infrared spectrum. Users will be able browse these different sets as they become available. Any changes and
updates are automatically inherited by World Wind.
LandSat 7's resolution makes it possible to see
your own city, neighborhood, or landmarks in your
vicinity. Seeing the whole globe like this puts the
world in context with scientifically accurate data.
The complete LandSat 7 data set is too large to
fit on a single machine, so World Wind only
downloads what you see and stores a compressed
copy on your computer for later viewing.
Combining LandSat 7 imagery
with Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Data, World Wind can
display a dramatic view of the Earth at
eye level. Users will literally be able to fly across the
world in any direction.
In addition, World Wind can exaggerate these
views so a user can easily pick out the details.
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has produced a set of visually intense animations that demonstrate a variety of subjects such as hurricane dynamics and seasonal changes across the globe.
World Wind can take these animations and play
them directly on the world. Anyone can immediately
grasp where the event is taking place as World Wind
rotates automatically into view.
Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer,
or MODIS, produces a set of time-relevant data that's
updated every day. MODIS catalogs fires, floods,
dust, smoke, storms and even volcanic activity.
World Wind produces an easily customized view
of this information and marks them directly on the
globe. When one of these color-coded markers is
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 8
clicked, it downloads the full image and displays
MODIS images can download publicationquality material at a resolution of 250 m per pixel. A
new fresh set of images can be downloaded every
World Wind also has a "tour mode" to automatically skim through any number of samples.
World Wind is capable of
browsing through and displaying
GLOBE data based on any time the
user wants. For example, a user can download today's
(or any previous day's) temperature across the world.
You can view rainfall, barometric pressure, cloud
cover, or even the student GLOBE samples themselves. Each sample comes with a temperature scale .
Country & (USA) State Borders
World Wind has a complete set of borders that
traces every country and state. As you zoom into the
world, the boundaries become more precise.
You can observe where mountain ridges and rivers have formed the political boundaries of today.
Place names
World Wind has a full catalog of countries, capitals, counties, cities, towns, and even historical references. The names update dynamically, by increasing
in number as the user zooms in. This prevents too
many names from cluttering up the screen.
It's likely that you'll find your own town, no matter how big or small it is, in World Wind.
Oklahoma City
models for them yet have place
markers similar to how MODIS
displays places of interest.
Las Cruces, NM
Anyone with a high-speed Internet connection
should not be without this incredible and highly addictive program. Give NASA’S World Wind a try and
you won’t be sorry you did!
Rob Rice is a computer specialist in Anchorage,
Minimum system requirements:
Windows 2000, XP, or 2003
3D graphics card
Internet connection
Sorry, no support for Linux or Macintosh yet
Microsoft .NET 1.1
Microsoft DirectX 9.0c
With the minimum configuration, performance
and functionality may be less than expected.
700 MHz or higher CPU
128 MB RAM
1 GB disk space (World Wind's cache size is 2 GB by
default; you must reduce the size of your cache)
Recommended configuration
1.4 GHz or higher CPU
256 MB of RAM
DSL/cable connection or faster
3 GB of disk space
World Wind Home Page
Visual Tools
World Wind comes with a
variety of visual guides that help
the user's experience, such as latitude and longitude lines, as well
as extremely precise coordinate data.
These helpers can be toggled on or off any time
and are viewable with any of World Wind's other features turned on.
Landmark Set
World Wind has the capability to display actual
3D models of landmarks on the Earth. This helps people to see the world in context to places they may
have been to. Those landmarks that do not have 3D
World Wind Wiki, “A knowledge base about
NASA's World Wind that anyone can edit”. http://
World Wind Forums
Video Card Compatibility List
Card Compatibility
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 9
The New, the Best, and the Worst
Collected by Pim Borman, Webmaster, SW Indiana PC Users Group, Inc.
Watch the Back Door!
Many an afternoon I see a school bus stopping in
the neighborhood to unload students toting enormous
bags of expensive text books on their backs. It always
irks me,because it seems so unnecessary. The heavy
backpacks put an unhealthy strain on the students'
spines, and the expensive books put a severe strain on
family budgets, especially if there are several children
of school age. (Public school students must pay for
their textbooks in Indiana, in case you're not from
around here.)
It would be so much easier if the students used
inexpensive, functional notebook computers with the
textbooks stored on CDs. Ideally, classrooms should
be equipped with permanent, networked units for
common use so that the students can leave their own
computers at home to minimize damage and loss during transport. After all, most colleges already require
that students have a computer, so why not start in
high school, or even earlier?
Cost shouldn't be a problem. A fully functional
computer running free Linux and Open Source software can cost less than a year's worth of textbooks.
Acceptance will be harder to come by, with expected
resistance from book publishers about to lose a highly
profitable and captive market. Microsoft may not be
happy either. Teachers may have to be retrained, and
administrators, having been weaned on MS Windows,
may oppose the use of what many still regard as a
second-best operating environment.
Often necessity is the father of invention. Third
World countries, only now entering the world of
computing, are the most likely to introduce revolutionary progress in low-cost personal computer productivity. My own computer, equipped with all the
latest bells and whistles, sits idle for more than 99
percent of the time. In a Third World classroom, or
maybe a small office, it could easily support a dozen
or more terminals and monitors if provided with the
right, free software. History would repeat itself, since
time sharing of computers was first introduced in the
1960s, when mainframe computers were also unaffordable for individuals. Students will only need inexpensive dumb terminals and bare-bones monitors. In
England an organization calling itself Ndiyo (Swahili
for “yes”) is working on this approach. It makes fullfledged computing available to many at low cost.
An alternate approach called “One Laptop Per
Child,” initiated by academics at MIT, aims to provide specially designed laptop computers at a cost of
less than $100 per unit to millions of children in poor
countries. The computing experience is less advanced
than with the time-sharing approach, but having your
own computer, no matter how primitive, has a strong
psychological advantage. I can testify to that. My first
introduction to computers was via a Telex terminal
connected to a time-sharing mainframe that I used for
scientific modeling work. It was useful and interesting, but not nearly as captivating as running my own
simple programs in Sinclair Basic on my own first
($100) Timex-Sinclair computer.
An essential part of introducing computers to
Third Worlders (and not only schoolchildren) is the
availability of free software in the form of Linux and
the Open Source programs to do just about anything
productive that computers are capable of. This in turn
will grow and mature the Linux/OpenSource technology to the point where it may well return to the West
through the back door as an attractive, low-cost alternative to expensive and bloated Microsoft Windows
and Office programs.
A South African dotcom millionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, is financing the development of a totally
free distribution of desktop Linux and all the necessary software. Called Ubuntu (“Humanity to Others”), it is already preferred by many Linux users. It is
totally free. Even the CDs on which it is distributed
are mailed to you free for the asking
( Although possibly intended for
use in Third World countries, Ubuntu is also rapidly
gaining followers in the U.S. What did I just write
about the back door?
What Is Web2.0?
Usually when major computer-related improvements are forthcoming, they are hyped long before
they actually become available. Have you heard about
Vista? I thought so.
Surprisingly, a major improvement in the Internet
Web protocol, Web2.0, seems to have sneaked in
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 10
through the back door. And yet, Web2.0 is to the old
Web what the telephone was to the telegraph. With
the traditional Web, you send a message, such as a
request for a street map, to a Web address
(“”) that gets translated into a
numerical Internet Protocol address by a Domain
Name Server. The addressed site responds to your
message and the connection is broken. To send a follow-up message (“zoom in”) the whole process must
be repeated. Slow-slow-slow.
With Web2.0 the connection, once established,
remains open until you close your browser window.
This allows an immediate back-and-forth communication as if the distant Web site were located on your
own computer. It allows you to go to Google Earth
and seamlessly scroll and zoom the maps to your
heart's content (provided your Internet connection is
fast enough). It also makes it possible to provide application programs, such as an Office Suite similar to
Microsoft Office, on a Web server to be made available via a Web2.0 connection. Several providers are
moving in that direction, including Google and Microsoft. News sites can provide live hyperlinks
whereby when your pointer hovers over a headline a
summary of the news pops up on the screen. The
possibilities are endless.
Happily, the user doesn't need to do anything to
benefit from this new technology. The Internet servers provide all the programming that any major Web
browser can understand. Enjoy!
How Broad Is Your Broadband Connection?
Not nearly as fast as you would like it to be,
right? If you have a cable connection and the kid
next door is online playing Doom, or Bully, or whatever, you're sharing online access and your connection probably crawls. Not much you can do about
that. But you can minimize some other delays.
One of these is the time it takes your browser to
connect to the site you want to address. If you type
an Internet address such as, a Domain Name Server
(DNS) provided by your Internet Service Provider
(ISP) translates it to the corresponding numerical
Internet Protocol (IP) address. Unless the entry has
been cached after having been used before, the
lookup procedure may take some time.
OpenDNS is a new, independent, and free Domain Name Server that claims to be faster than many
ISP servers, mostly by using a very large cache. In
addition it keeps track of known phishing sites and
blocks them with a warning message. It will also try
to correct misspellings and still provide the intended
Web site, or suggest possible sites you might be
looking for. When I intentionally typed swipcug.apcug.NET (instead of the correct .ORG domain) I got a choice of four possible sites, with the
correct one first on the list. Simple instructions for
replacing the default DNS addresses of your ISP
with the OpenDNS addresses can be found at (read Steve Bass in
PCWorld, November 2006).
If you want to check the download and upload
speeds of your broadband connection you can use
SpeakEasy at
As I am writing this, on Friday at 10:45 pm, my connection speed with Sigecom to Chicago is:
Download Speed: 3866 kbps (483.3 KB/sec transfer
rate), Upload Speed: 347 kbps (43.4 KB/sec transfer
rate), about as good as it gets in my experience.
Speeds to Seattle are similar.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Daily Tips From Smart Computing
ing changes to your documents, select a shorter time.
Word Auto-Recovery
Editing in Word 2003
Microsoft Word can be configured to automatically
save an emergency copy of your current documents every
few minutes. If your PC crashes (or you lose power),
Word can automatically recover the last saved file. This
can be a real lifesaver if you’re not too diligent about regularly saving work. Enable AutoRecover in Word 2002 by
clicking Tools and Options, selecting the Save tab, checking the Save AutoRecover Info Every box, and entering
the number of minutes between saves. The default is every
10 minutes, but you can opt for any time between one and
120 minutes. If you’re in the habit of making fast, sweep-
Tools such as Microsoft Word 2003 keep a short running
log of changed items and let you select an entire set of
items to undo. While editing your document, just left-click
the down arrow next to the Undo Typing icon in the Standard toolbar. A list of recent actions will appear. Simply
scroll down the list to select the items that need to be undone and click once. If you make a mistake, you can still
use the Edit and Redo feature to restore your deletions and
try again. If you’re making sweeping changes, it’s a good
idea to save your document before making changes and
then resave it once you’re sure the changes are correct.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 11
Finally! Essential Tech Books for Non-Dummies
Written by Gabe Goldberg, APCUG Advisor; Columnist,
With holidays just past, many people reading this
article from AARP's Web site will need technowisdom for dealing with gifts received by family,
friends, and themselves. But with conflicting suggestions from mailing lists, Web sites, stores, and manufacturers all around us, a trusted guidebook is valuable.
The books are "Sandy Berger's Great Age Guide
to Better Living Through Technology", "... to the
Internet", and "... to Gadgets & Gizmos". Their common design is open and uncluttered; accessible language is clear but not dumbed down; there's no mention of dummies or idiots.
Good personal-style writing engages the reader,
calming and building confidence. Sandy shares her
sense of excitement and discovery and offers clear
opinions on technology and how it affects us. That's
pleasantly different from most technology books. And
agree or disagree on individual items, you'll certainly
know where she stands.
Ideas and technology are amply illustrated by
easy-to-read screen images and clear photos. I'd have
liked a "lay-flat" binding for easy reference at the
The "Great Age" title credits Pablo Picasso with
saying, "Age only matters when one is aging. Now
that I have arrived at a great age, I might as well be
twenty". Chapters begin with other thoughtprovoking quotations. My favorite, highlighting the
empowering nature of the books' subject matter,
comes from marketing guru Greg Arnold: "All greatness is achieved while performing outside your comfort zone." Fear often comes from lack of understanding; don't worry, the books aren't uncomfortable reading -- but they may challenge you to try new things.
The books open onto Contents at a Glance -- a list
of chapter titles and page numbers. That's handy, giving a quick focus without requiring flipping past usual
book-front boilerplate. Each book includes a brief
"What's Inside" write-up, noting that there are no special instructions for reading, and highlighting unique
design elements. The Technology and Internet books
include valuable sidebars calling out Sandy's Tips,
Blooper Alerts, Lingo, and Trivia. Selected items
in Gadgets and Gizmos are designated Sandy's Favorites.
Sandy Berger's Great Age Guide to Better Living
Through Technology reminds us how pervasive technology is, how much things have changed in our lifetimes, and how change is accelerating and neverending. It covers topics such as how families can use
the digital world, how technology has affected shopping, travel, health, finances, and even meeting people. Throughout, it encourages continued learning at
any age-- after all, we know HOW to learn. This book
shows much that's worth learning. It's not preachy or
prescriptive. For example, it lists diverse search engines, giving attributes and advantages for each.
Many are specialized, less known than
Google/Yahoo/etc., and yet may be best for fulfilling
certain quests. I'm happy that it highlights the wonderful Library of Congress. This treasure, local to me,
is available to all online.
Sandy Berger's Great Age Guide to the Internet
focuses on getting online, learning the language of the
Internet, having fun and communicating, and avoiding problems and staying safe. It reports scientists
believing that humans use about 10 percent of their
brainpower, and speculates that most people use
about 10 percent of their PC's power – and aims to
help raise both numbers. The book starts gently, introducing Internet concepts and terms, and assembles
them into tips and tricks for Web searching, emailing, understanding Web advertising, and even
building our own Web pages. It gives tips for picking
an ISP (Internet service provider), demystifies
browser windows components, and offers netiquette
advice for instant messaging. I take issue, though,
with its use of the term "hacker" as bad guy; I grew
up hearing it as a term of praise
Sandy Berger's Great Age Guide to Gadgets &
Gizmos is a different sort of book, a bit hard to categorize. It's a catalog, shopping guide, and a tour
through current and future technology. It offers gift
ideas for oneself or Santa; if you observe someone
reading it with widened eyes, you'll guess what they'd
like gift-wrapped for them. It's not Consumer Reports, since it doesn't compare choices head-to-head.
But its interesting and opinionated narrative gives
products' good and bad news; general advice and
principles are interleaved so it won't become outdated
as fast as a simple products list would. If Santa had
watched me, he'd have seen me reading carefully
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 12
about phones and clocks - two of my interests.
As you've seen, the books are complementary -it's worth collecting them all. They're easy cover-tocover reads, or you can refer to them for specific
ideas, services, and products. Good indexes locate
topics quickly; because the books' topics are interrelated, a consolidated index of the three books' topics would be useful. Perhaps the publisher will provide one online. There's some necessary overlap, but
they provide different information with varying orientation and emphasis. Overall, the books fulfill
their "Better Living Through ..." titles' promise, delivering usable information about evolving technology areas.
Book Title: Sandy Berger's Great Age Guide to
Better Living Through Technology
Author: Sandy Berger
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Que
ISBN: 0-7897-3440-0
Price: $20
Book Title: Sandy Berger's Great Age Guide to
the Internet
Author: Sandy Berger
Paperback: 268 pages
Publisher: Que
ISBN: 0-7897-3442-7
Price: $20
Book Title: Sandy Berger's Great Age Guide to
Gadgets & Gizmos
Author: Sandy Berger
Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Que
ISBN: 0-7897-3441-9
Price: $20
Note: Sandy and Dave Berger have set up a special link on so APCUG members can
purchase the books at a 35% discount.
This article originated on AARP's Computers
and Technology Web site,,
and is copyrighted by AARP. All rights are reserved;
it may be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, or
transferred, for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for educational purposes, with attribution to
AARP. It should be unchanged and this paragraph
included. Please e-mail Gabe Goldberg at
[email protected] when you use it, or for permission to excerpt or condense.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer
User Groups has provided this article.
Take Windows XP to the Next Level With the Free Vista Transformation Pack
by Dave Gerber, Program Chair, Sarasota PCUG, Florida; member of the Dave’s Bytes radio team
If you don't want to shell out the cash for a copy of
Windows Vista, Windows Vista Transformation Pack
(VTP) is an easy and free way to emulate Vista's look
and feel. I've been playing around with it for a couple
of hours now, and it makes for a nice change after
looking at the same old XP icons and UI.
VTP bundles together many different applications
that mimic Vista's UI in different ways to give you
transparent windows, a new Start Menu, a Vista Sidebar, and a new Explorer. Overall, your computer
should look revitalized after installing VTP. Everything has a bit of Web 2.0 glossy sheen.
Install a Vista wallpaper, and you're basically there.
There might be some stability issues if you install
VTP, so you'll want to be sure before you install it.
The good part is that uninstallation is easy: just go to
Add or Remove Programs. Some files are overwritten
during the process, so keep your setup CD handy if
you want to undo all the changes.
If you decide to install VTP, you'll have a lot of
control over the installation. Check off the things you
want changed like boot screen, process manager, or
sounds, and leave unchecked what you want to stay
the same.
Visit Dave’s Web site at
and click on the January 1 link and scroll down to
Dave’s Cool Downloads.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 13
XP Disk Maintenance Tools
By Dick Maybach, Member of the Brookdale Computer User Group, New Jersey
Windows disk operations have improved greatly
over the years to the extent that we seldom have problems with XP. However, XP does include tools to inform you about your disks, to improve their operation,
and, if needed, to repair the data on them.
For general information on your drives, use the Disk
Management tool – right-click on My Computer; select
Manage; and select Disk Management (under Storage).
You will see a table showing the properties of all your
partitions as well as a graphical summary. Select a volume in the table or on the graphic, click on the Action
menu item, and then click on All Tasks to see a list of
the actions you can perform. Be careful, as some of
these are drastic and irreversible, e.g., format and delete
the volume.
If you suspect that a hard disk is corrupted, doubleclick on My Computer, right-click on the desired drive,
select Properties, select the Tools tab, click the Check
Now… button in the Error-checking section, and click
the Start button. This will run an updated version of the
old chkdsk. Don’t select either of the options. If you do
find problems, run the program again, but before you
click Start, select Automatically fix file system errors.
You may have to reboot for the operation to complete.
Also, be aware that this may result in the loss of some
files. If there still errors, run the program again, but select both options. (You can also run this program from
the command line; type “chkdsk /?” in a Command
Prompt window to see the options. I prefer the command-line version, because it’s more informative.)
With time, Windows collects many unneeded temporary files. To clean these up, double-click on My
Computer, right click on the desired disk, select Properties, and click the Disk Cleanup button under the General tab. Windows will take a few minutes to analyze
your disk, and then will display a list of actions and how
much space each will recover. You can single-click on
each name to see its description. I select everything except the last two (Compress old files and Catalog files
for the Content Indexer). Clicking the More Options tab
shows other ways to recover space by removing Windows components, removing installed programs, or deleting old system restore points. Under the General tab,
you will see two check boxes, Compress drive to save
space and Allow Indexing Service to index this drive for
fast file searching. By default, the first is not checked
and the second is; don’t change these. Large disks are
very cheap, and if you are running low on space, a
much better solution is to install a second disk and keep
you user data on it. Compression adds complexity, and
I’ve seen it cause serious problems.
With use, a disk gradually becomes fragmented.
That is; long files are broken into parts and scattered
over the disk. You can correct much (but usually not
all) of this with XP’s disk defragmenter. Double-click
on My Computer; right-click on the desired drive; select
Properties; select the Tools tab; click on the Defragment now… button in the Defragmentation area; and
click the Analyze button. Usually, you will be told that
there is no need to defragment the volume. If so, take
the advice. If you do decide to defragment the disk, bear
in mind that there is a small risk of destroying its contents, since many files will be deleted and rewritten – a
power failure could be catastrophic. Before you defrag a
disk, run chkdsk or, even better, back it up.
A little-known command-line utility is fsutil. To run
this first open a Command Prompt window (found in
the Accessories group), then type “fsutil” to produce a
list of fsutil commands. Usually, you will have to stack
up several fsutil commands to do anything useful. For
example, typing “fsutil dirty query c:” will show you
whether you need to run chkdsk on C:. It can be worthwhile to explore the other features this command, being
careful of course that you don’t make any changes to
your file system.
The recover command will make undamaged portions of a damaged file readable. For example, to recover the damaged file c:\n2nd\junk, open a Command
Prompt window and type “recover c:\n2nd\junk”. Like
most command-line programs, you should be careful
when using recover.
A very powerful command-line program is debug,
but you can do a lot of damage with it if you are not
an expert; I recommend that you avoid it. If you are
curious, type “debug /?” in a Command Prompt window to find out more about what it can do.
The NTFS file system is superior to the older
FAT32 one. If you are still using FAT32, seriously consider converting it to the NTFS format. For example, to
convert your C: drive to NTFS, open a Command
Prompt window and type “convert c: /fs:ntfs”. There are
two caveats: (1) the conversion is not reversible unless
you buy third-party software, and (2) if you dual-boot
both XP and an earlier version Windows on the same
PC, the old version can’t read NTFS volumes.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 14
Thank You !
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
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Make check payable to Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group.
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NVPCUG Computer News, January 2007, Page 15
Skype – The Most Popular Internet Calling Service
by Sandy Berger, Compu-KISS
If you have an Internet-connected computer and
are still paying the telephone company for longdistance calls, it may be time for you to try free calling over the Internet.
Other than the Internet connection you already
have, there is very little initial cost and no ongoing
costs. Right now you can call anyone for free. This
is an offer you really should investigate.
Although there are several online services that
you can use for Internet calling, the most popular
one is called Skype. In order to use Skype you need
an Internet-connected computer running Windows
XP or Windows 2000 or an Apple computer running
Mac OS X v10.3.9 Panther or newer. Your computer
must also have built-in or external speakers and a
microphone. That is where your small initial cost
may come in. While most computers, even laptops,
have speakers, many do not have microphones. So
you may have to purchase a microphone, possibly
from a local electronic store. You can get them as
cheap as $10 or $15.
Then all you have to do is download the free software at the Skype Web site at, and
you are ready to make your calls. If you want to call
someone who also owns an Internet-connected computer you can have them add a microphone and
download the software. Then you will be able to call
computer-to-computer. It is just like talking on the
telephone, except that you click on their name in the
Skype software to call them, they hear their computer
“ring,” and they click on the “answer” button that
pops up on their screen when you call.
Until the end of the year 2006 you can also call
regular telephone and cell phone numbers in the
United States and Canada for free. You simply enter
the phone number you want to call, click on the
green telephone icon and your computer will call
your friend’s telephone number. They answer the
phone as usual and you can talk for as long as you
like with no long distance charges.
Previous to their special promotion, Skype
charged a small fee for calls to landlines and cell
phones. Their promotion for free calls is scheduled
to last until the end of the year, but many of us are
hopeful that they will continue it into the next year.
In any case, calls from computer-to-computer are
always free. While sometimes there are small
glitches and skips in the calls from computer-totelephone, my experience has been really great with
computer-to-computer calls. Some International calls
have a slight echo, but I can live with that for the
I save a ton on long-distance calls to my daughter
in Sweden, and my mom in Missouri. I also save on
intrastate charges to my son in Eastern Carolina.
You will need a broadband Internet connection to
get really good Skype calls. If you are still on dialup, free Skype calling may be just the financial incentive you need to make the move to broadband.
The Skype software is an easy download, and it is
easy to use. Skype is constantly improving their service. Last year they added video calling. If both you
and the person you are calling add a Web cam to
your computer you can both see and hear them. (An
added benefit is that most Web cams also have builtin microphones.) Skype also has conference calling,
so the whole family can get in on the same conversation. For those of you who like talking into a handset, now you can even purchase telephones to connect to your computer for Skype calling.
With Skype’s current offer for free computer-totelephone calling, there’s never been a better time to
try Internet calling. After all, the price is right!
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, January 2007, Page 16
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