June 2005

June 2005
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Computer News
June 2005
Volume 22, Issue 6
Inside This Issue:
President’s Message
Computer Equipment Sale
Officers List
Special Interest Groups
Membership News
Recycling Event
APCUG and CES Show
Cables and Upgrades
Flash Memory
Identity Theft
Beyond Stickers and Markers 13
Membership Application
Computer Sale
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group has served
novice and experienced computer users since 1983. Through
its monthly meetings, newsletters, on-line 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
more than 307 computers and
102 printers.
Learn How to Build Your Own State-of-theArt Computer at NVPCUG Meeting June 15
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, June 15,
2005, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street,
Napa, California.
At our June general meeting, Dick Peterson will present an introductory class on building a computer. The class is intended to familiarize computer users, new as well as experienced, with all of the
component parts inside a computer, so that they will feel comfortable
handling these parts. Attendees Awill gain a basic knowledge of the
steps necessary to build a state-of-the-art computer and will be offered a chance to actually build one of their own from new parts at
relatively low cost,@ Dick says. Depending on the number of people
interested, a second class may be scheduled, perhaps on a Saturday
morning, at which—under supervision—those interested can build
their own computers.
Dick Peterson
Dick, an enologist and a highly respected consultant for many wineries, has years
of experience working with personal computer hardware. He has been an NVPCUG
member for more than twelve years. During that time he served for six years as Newsletter Editor and as an NVPCUG director.
Our meeting will begin with Random Access, a period during which you can ask
questions about specific issues you have encountered while using computer products
and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees. Questions may be submitted in advance of our meeting by e-mailing them to Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown at [email protected]
Need practical information that will enable you to make better use of your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests are always welcome.
Special Events: See Inside for Details
June 3 & 4
June 10 & 11
NVPCUG Used Computer Equipment Sale
Napa County Computer & Electronics
Recycling Event
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 1
President=s Message C
under consideration: July 23, July 30, August 6,
August 13, and August 20.
Activities for Everyone
by Orion E. Hill
June Calendar Highlights
Two special events and an exciting meeting presentation highlight the NVPCUG=s June calendar. The month
begins with our 2005 Used Computer Equipment Sale
on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4, at 1307 First Street
in downtown Napa. Our Computers-to-Schools program
volunteers have put a lot of time and effort into preparing
for this sale donated equipment that does not meet school
requirements. We still need more members to help move
equipment and staff the sale, which I=m coordinating.
This sale is our primary means of raising funds to cover
about one-third of our group's annual expenses, so it is
essential that NVPCUG members support it. Please review the sale shift schedule on page 3 of this newsletter,
then let me know for which shift(s) you are available.
One week later the Fifth Annual Napa County
Computers and Electronics Recycling Event, which we
cosponsor, will be held on June 10 and 11 in the south
parking lot at Napa Valley College=s Napa campus. Bill
Wheadon, who is coordinating our participation, is also
looking for several more volunteers. The shift schedule
for this event is on page 5. Please let Bill know for which
shift(s) you are available.
Then at our regular monthly group meeting on June
15 Dick Peterson will present a class on building your
own state-of-the-art computer. If you have ever considered building your own computer -- or even just adding a
high-quality video card, a larger hard disk drive, or a CD
or DVD drive -- I encourage you to attend this presentation and take advantage of Dick=s years of experience and
his suggestions for obtaining quality parts at relatively
low cost. Invite your friends and coworkers to attend this
presentation too.
Which Saturday for Our Picnic?
Please immediately let me know your first and second
choices of dates for our annual barbecue potluck picnic, if
you have not already done so -- even if you are not certain
that you will be able to participate this year. Last month I
announced that we were conducting a survey to identify
the most popular Saturday in late July or August for our
picnic so that this year the event can be scheduled on a
date that would allow the greatest number of members
and their families to participate. The following dates are
Featuring delicious food, competitive games,
prizes, plenty of time to socialize, and great fun
for everyone, our picnic this year will be held in
the same wonderful setting as our last seven picnics: the redwood grove at Dick and Sandy Peterson=s Christmas tree farm.
Picnic Coordinator and Assistants Needed
We need a coordinator for our picnic and a couple of
volunteers to assist the coordinator. This team will be
responsible for coordinating picnic activities and for purchasing needed supplies, including steaks and chicken for
barbecuing. Since an activity outline and a complete list
of needed supplies are available, our picnics are easy to
manage and don=t require much time. Please let me know
if you are willing to help with our picnic this year.
Share Your Knowledge
Computer Tutor Coordinator Mike Moore would like
to hear from people, NVPCUG members and nonmembers alike, who are willing to share their knowledge
through short presentations at our monthly group meetings. If you are willing to discuss your experience with a
product, briefly demonstrate the features of a product,
offer information about how to make better use of a product, review helpful sources of information on the Internet,
suggest novel uses for a product, or share your knowledge
in other ways, please let Mike know. Also, let Mike
know about any topic on which you would like a presentation.
Officers Are Needed
We still have a critical need for volunteers willing to
serve as Vice President, Programs Director, and Special
Projects Director or to help our officers plan and administer our group=s activities. With three key positions vacant,
our officers are overburdened, resulting in many important tasks not being properly handled and other tasks not
being performed. If you value our organization, please
contact me so that we can discuss how you can help, even
if you can devote only one hour each month.
Sound Off!
Got a suggestion for improving an NVPCUG activity?
Want to help with an activity?
Send e-mail to
[email protected] or call (707) 252-0637.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 2
The Napa
Personal Computer
Users Group is Sale
Set3 for
3 3and
and4 4
conducting another huge used computer equipment sale, Shift 1:8:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. Assist customers
to 2:00 P.M. Assist customers
this one on Friday and Saturday, By
4 andE.5,Hill,
at 1307
First Street, in downtown Napa. On Friday the sale hours Shift 3:2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. Assist customers
Shift 4:5:00 P.M.
8:00 P.M. Assist customers
be Napa
9:00 a.m.
to 7:30
p.m.; on
9:00 a.
m. to Volunteers
Are to
NVPCUG members are needed to help move sale
another huge used computer equipment
be hundreds
of items, including
4 Sale Day
set 2 up and take down the
sale, thissale
on Friday
and Saturday,
June 3 and
4, at tables
and notebook computers, color monitors, keyboards, mice, Shift 1: 9:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. Assist customers
1307 First Street in downtown Napa. On Friday the sale, and assist customers. No computer expertise is
hard disk , compact disk (CD) drives, DVD drives, floppy Shift 2: 11:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Assist customers
the following
shift schedule
be 9:00scanners,
a.m. to 7:30
on Saturday,
Shift 3: 2:00Please
P.M. toreview
4:30 P.M.
Assist customers
cards, required.
items Hill
cables of all types, power strips and power cables. Most of Shift 4: 4:30 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. Pack up unsold
the equipment is only a few years old. Quantities of many know which day(s) and shift(s) you would be able to
have vehicles
within 2000,
On will
salebe will
be All
of will
includingat work.
Let’s make
this sale who
as successful
as our sales
of the items
be available
are especially
and notebook computers, color monitors, capacity
2002 and 2004,
which nettedneeded
$1,921, on
and $1,867,
bargain prices.
respectively. To volunteer your help or to donate items,
Most of keyboard
the sale items
are things
dona- Sunday.
mice, we
disk as
tions fordisk
our (CD)
drives, DVD drives,
disk contact Orion Hill by e-mailing [email protected] or by
calling (707)June
drives, printers, scanners, modems, network cards, Thursday,
2 - Sale Setup
public of
Some power
of thesestrips,
items, and
deter- Shift 1: 1:00 p.m.- 3:30 p.m. - Move items to sale site
all types,
for classroom
or were
in excess
is only ause few
old. Shift 2: 3:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. - Set up items on tables
of school needs. Major equipment donors include Dey,
Quantities of many items will be limited. All of the
L.P. and the County of Napa. Many additional items
prices. residents, and Friday, June 3 - Sale Day 1
have will
NVPCUG members. The NVPCUG is most grate-ful for Shift 1: 8:00 a.m.- to 11:00 a.m. - Assist customers
of the sale
we received
of these
and as
as Shift 2: 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. - Assist customers
well as for the support of Morris Brown Realty, L.P., of Shift 3: 2:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m. - Assist customers
is providing
free storeto
for Shift 4: 5:00 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. - Assist customers
our sale. public schools. These items were then
This sale
primary annual
to isbethe
for classroom
use or
in Saturday, June 4 - Sale Day 2
excess of school needs. Major equipment donors Shift 1: 8:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. - Assist customers
Napa County
L.P. and
the County
of Napa.
Many Shift 2: 11:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. - Assist customers
additional items have been donated by local Shift 3: 2:30 p.m- to 5:30 p.m. - Assist customers
businesses, residents, and NVPCUG members. The
Volunteers Are Needed. NVPCUG members are needed
is most
the contributions
to help prepare
and grateful
transport for
set up and take
down the sale, and assist customers. No computer expersupport
Morris Please
of Portland,
tise is of
schedule. Please review the following shift schedule our
then immediately let sale coordinator Orion Hill know
which day(s) and shift(s) you would be able to work. Volunteers
with cargo
arefundespeThis who
sale have
is thevehicles
raising activity. Sale proceeds will be used for
Sunday, June 5 - Sale Takedown
Shift 1: 9:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. - Remove unsold items
Let=s make this sale as successful as our sales in
2000, 2002, and 2004, which netted $1,921, $2,718,
and $1,867, respectively. To volunteer your help or to
donate items, contact Orion Hill by e-mailing
[email protected] or by calling (707) 252-0637.
computer education activities benefiting Napa County
Thursday, June 2 Sale Setup
5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Pickup and deliver sale items to
1307 First Street, Napa.
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
Computer News (ISS 0897-5744) is published monthly by the Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA
is intended for noncommercial purposes and may not be reproduced without prior written permission, except that permission for reproducing arti94558-0286. Subscriptions: $30 for one year (12 issues ). Editor: James Stirling, [email protected] All material in Computer News is intended for noncles, with authors properly credited, is granted to other computer user groups for their internal, nonprofit use only. The information in this newsletcommercial purposes and may not be reproduced without prior written permission, except that permission for reproducing articles, with authors properly
ter is believed to be correct. However, the NVPCUG cannot assume responsibility for errors or omissions nor liability for any damages resulting
credited, is granted to other computer user groups for for their internal, nonprofit use only. The information in this newsletter is believed to be correct.
the use
misuse ofcan
NVPCUG isfora errors
IRC 501(c)(3)
theor NVPCUG
or omissions
nor liability
for any
damages resulting
the use
or misuse and
of any
a member The
of theNVPCUG
(APCUG), organization
an international
to theofNVPCUG
are taxof Peris anofIRC
68-0069663) Donations
and a member
the Association
as charitable
to the extent
allowed byorganization.
law. Copyright
© 2005tobythe
sonal Computer
User Groups
an international
NVPCUG are tax deductible as charitable contributions to the
extent allowed by law. Copyright © 2005 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 3
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups
The NVPCUG currently has two special
interest groups. By attending SIG meetings,
you can learn about a subject in greater
detail than is feasible at NVPCUG general
meetings and share your knowledge with
other people. SIG meetings are open to
everyone. Meeting times and locations occasionally change. For current meeting information, check our Web site,
www.nvpcug.org, 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 Avenue, Napa
Leader: Hilton Des Roches
(707) 224-6170
[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]
For more information about
visit our Web site:
June 1
June 3
June 4
June 8
June 10 & 11
June 13
June 15
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Membership News
By Dianne Prior, NVPCUG Membership Director
The Napa Valley Computer Users Group welcomes new member
Keith Caldwell, as well as returning members Norma McCabe and
Beryl Nielsen. Beryl is rejoining after a nearly 10-year hiatus.
As of May 23, 2005, NVPCUG had 115 active members, up from
102 a year ago.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2005
Board of Directors
Vice President
Orion E. Hill
(Volunteer Needed)
Julie Jerome
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Other Directors:
Dianne Prior, John Simcoe, James Stirling
Appointed Officers
Computer Equipment
Orion E. Hill
Sale Coordinator
Computer Recycling
Bill Wheadon
Computer Tutor
Mike Moore
Orion E. Hill
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Steve Siegrist
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman
Marcia Waddell
Membership Director
Dianne Prior
Mentor Program
Hilton Des Roches
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
Newsletter Editor
James Stirling
Product Review Coord.
Marcia Waddell
Programs Director
(Volunteer Needed)
Publicity Director
John Simcoe
Random Access Moderator Jerry Brown
Special Projects Director (Volunteer Needed)
Ron Dack
NVPCUG Calendar
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Computers-to-Schools work parties. To volunteer contact Orion Hill.
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
NVPCUG Used Computer Equipment Sale, 1307 First Street, Napa
NVPCUG Used Computer Equipment Sale, 1307 First Street, Napa
Digital Photography SIG meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Napa County Computers & Electronics Recycling Event, Napa Valley College
Investors SIG meeting, Jerry Brown’s home, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 4
Computer and Electronics Recycling Event Set for June 10 , 11
By Bill Wheadon, NVPCUG Computer Recycling Coordinator
set Recovery Group, the Computer Recycling
The Fifth Annual Napa County Computer
Center and, of course, the NVPCUG.
and Electronics Recycling Event will be held
Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11, in the
south parking lot at Napa Valley College’s
Volunteers Needed
Napa campus. This event for Napa County resiNVPCUG volunteers are needed at this event
dents and businesses only provides an opportuto provide traffic control and identify equipment
nity to dispose of unwanted computer and elecsuitable for reuse. Lifting of heavy equipment
tronic equipment free of charge at a convenient
will not be required (or allowed); workers prodrop-off site.
vided by the City of Napa and Napa Garbage
Equipment collected at this event will be
Bill Wheadon
Service will do the lifting. Volunteers will be
evaluated for possible reuse. Items deemed to
provided refreshments and box lunches. Please
be obsolete will be sent to a demanufacturing
plant where various materials can be recovered in an envi- review the following shift schedule and let Bill Wheadon
ronmentally safe manner for reuse in new products. Recy- know which day(s) and shift(s) you would like to work. If
cling not only conserves valuable resources but also is es- you cannot work an entire shift, please indicate when you
sential for preventing toxic materials from contaminating would be available. A minimum of seven people will be
the environment. Each cathode ray tube (CRT) in a com- needed for each shift.
puter monitor or television contains five to seven pounds
of lead and cadmium, toxic substances prohibited in land- Friday, June 10
Morning shift:
8:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.
11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.
Those items selected for reuse will be accepted for re- Afternoon Shift
furbishing either by the Computer Recycling Center in
Santa Rosa or by the Napa Valley Personal Computer User Saturday, June 11
8:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.
Group for use in our Computers-to-Schools (CTS) pro- Morning shift:
11:30A.M. to 2:30 P.M.
gram. Last year about two tons of reusable equipment was Afternoon shift:
recovered for our CTS program.
This recycling event not only benefits our community
Sponsors of this event include the City of Napa, Napa
Garbage Service, Napa Valley Disposal Service, American but also provides publicity for our group. To volunteer
Canyon Disposal Service, Upper Valley Waste Manage- your help contact Bill Wheadon by e-mailing
[email protected] or by calling (707) 224-3901.
ment Agency, Napa Valley College, Recycle America As-
Surveying drivers dropping off equipment
Examining truckloads of computers and parts at the
2004 Recycling Event, Napa Community College
parking lot.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 5
APCUG and Consumer Electronics Show Week, January 2005
by NVPCUG member Dick Peterson, with notes from Lee Schwab
Once again this year, a few members of NVPCUG attended the annual conference of the Association of
Personal Computer Users Groups
(APCUG) held in Las Vegas—and
were happy they did. In previous
years, APCUG timed its meetings to
mesh with the annual COMDEX
computer show in November. This
year, after the demise of COMDEX,
APCUG meetings were held just
ahead of the “really big” Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) the first
week of January, 2005. APCUG
used all of January 3 to 6 and CES
dominated the rest, from January 6
through 9.
The APCUG conference gets better and more professional with each
passing year. The program was more
valuable to me than ever before. I
especially liked the sessions on computer security, cyber crime, PDAs
Today, and Keeping Your Computer
Healthy. Many well-respected companies gave demonstrations of their
latest software with Q & A sessions
that were both educational and fun.
They also provided great meals for
the several hundred APCUG group
members during their presentations.
These included Adobe, Corel,
CompUSA, Intel, Microsoft, Smart
Computing Magazine, AMD and
many smaller companies. As always, the APCUG conference was
exciting, educational and great fun.
Put another way, any who were not
there didn’t enjoy the first week in
January as much as all of us who
were there.
The CES reminded me of COMDEX when that show was at its zenith. Thousands of interested spectators attended, and the gigantic multiple buildings were jammed from
morning to night. There were far
more sights and sounds than anyone
could absorb even by staying all day
long on all four days. The CES is
impossible to describe in a few
words. I suppose if I had to try say-
ing it in one sentence, it would be,
“Go there expecting to see how the
world will treat those in the fast
lane—one to thirty years in the future.” You won’t be disappointed.
Imagine calling your kitchen oven
on your cell phone or PDA during a
break at work. The oven has acted as
a refrigerator all day, but when you
tell it to, it springs into action as an
oven and cooks the roast, veggies
(even dessert and coffee) so that everything is ready exactly on time
when both husband and wife arrive
home from work. They can sit down
to a luscious dinner without any effort! Or, imaging downloading the
latest movie while driving in your
car when the scenery gets boring and
the kids begin to get noisy. The kids
can watch the movie on LCD screens
built into the backs of the front seat
headrests, using headphones so the
driver and other passengers remain
undisturbed. Or— but you get the
idea. Go there next year. APCUG
members stay in the Stardust Hotel
at half the rates of other newer hotels. Besides, if the weather obeys,
you can walk to the conference center from the Stardust (less than a
There were many vendors displaying their newest wares at the
APCUG meetings.
Adobe Systems Inc. demonstrated
the Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0
and Adobe Premiere Elements,
which can do almost everything
imaginable to photos and albums.
They also showed off three versions
of their popular document-sharing
software, Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional, Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Standard,
and Adobe Acrobat Elements. They
also have available for free
downloading their Adobe Acrobat
7.0 Reader.
Corel representatives were also
on hand. They told how Corel and
Jasc Software were now owned by
Vector Capital, and combined have
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 6
40 million customers and sell in 75
countries. The products contain dynamic icons that change tool bars as
you click on them. Their product
lines include Corel WordPerfect 12
Home Edition, with Symantec Norton Internet Security, Corel WordPerfect Office Suite, CorelDraw
Graphic Suite 12 and IX (for artists),
JASC PaintShop Pro, and JASC
PaintShop Photo Album V5, as well
as others.
Intel representatives also came.
Probably most people are aware of
the logo "Intel Inside” (i.e., the
brains of most computers) but don't
realize that how much more there is
to the name. Intel is a member of the
DLNA/Digital Living Network Alliance, which is expanding the Personal Digital Home for better communication, home management,
work, education, health/wellness,
entertainment, and play. Explosive
growth in connectivity among devices is expected in 2005. Dual-core
processors will be launched to take
advantage of this growing area for
desktops, servers, and mobile performance. :
Microsoft Corporation showmen
also came, demonstrating the Digital
Image Pro 10 Suite that helps organize photos in folders, has a keyword
search that makes retrieval easier,
creates slideshows, automatically
aligns panorama pictures, and does
many other things. The Microsoft
Windows Marketplace
(WindowsMarketplace.com) contains
thousands of Microsoft and other
products that can be downloaded and
Smart Computing Magazine representatives pointed out that members of local computer groups, like
NVPCUG, who subscribe to the
journal can have $5.00 of their subscription price turned over to their
group if they indicate their membership.
Cables: The Missing Part of Upgrades
By Timothy Everingham, Tugnet, Granada Hills, California www.tugnet.org
When you are in the process of
building a new computer or upgrading
one, you may think you have to buy
only the component parts such as
CPU, motherboard, case, power supply, RAM, video card, hard drives,
and CD/DVD player or writer. However, what a lot of people don't think
about are the cables to connect all of
these together. Many people have
brought parts home from the computer store or swap meet only to discover they can't make them work
without the needed cables or adapters.
If you think through your computer
purchase cabling needs before you
leave home, or at least before you
leave the computer store, you can save
the hassle and time of making an additional trip. If you have to order from a
catalog and have it shipped to you,
days may be lost before you can complete your installation.
Motherboards do come with a lot of
cables, but are they the right ones for
your application, and are there enough
of them? We are in a transition from
the EIDE interface for hard drives and
CD/DVD players and writers to the
SATA interface. With EIDE cables
you have up to two drives on a parallel cable that are flat ribbons or
twisted into a round cable; but SATA
drives are connected via thin serial
cables that have one for each drive
connecting directly to the drive controller, usually on the motherboard. If
you have a floppy drive you will need
a cable for that too. So far I have
been talking only about data cables,
not power cables. SATA drives also
have different power cables than
EIDE drives. Also CD/DVD players
and writers sometimes have different
power connectors than EIDE hard
drives, sometimes using a floppy
drive type power connector. Also, if
you have a mid to high level 3D video
card you may have to plug in one or
two power connectors, because they
need more power than what they can
get from the motherboard. And the
power connectors for PCI Express
video cards are different than those
for AGP video cards (There are two
different types of connectors for AGP
cards too). Then there are the different
connectors for case fans.
Also a lot of newer motherboards
are connected to the power supply via
a 24-pin connector instead of the more
traditional 20-pin. Some 24-pin motherboards can have you just plug in a
20-pin plug, but others do not recommend that.
Then of course we get into the audio cables for your CD/DVD player/
writer to plug into the sound card or
sound circuit on the motherboard.
You also may need USB or Firewire
(IEEE 1394) cables for within the
case to get them from the motherboard to the sockets, or external ones
to get them out to your devices.
So how do you find out what cables
you need? If possible, you can look at
the parts themselves or the box they
come in. There is the visual of the
connectors and information on the
part or box about what the part needs.
Be wary, however, on just taking it
from the visuals. Some cables that
have the same type of connectors at
their ends are rated differently on
speed or other factors. An example of
this is EIDE data cables. Typical rating for these cables is 33, 66, 100, or
133 MHz. With EIDE components
hooked together, it is the slowest
component that sets the data speed on
the EIDE bus. If the EIDE drive controller cannot communicate with the
drives at, say 133 MHz, because the
cable is not capable of handling data
transmission at that speed without
errors, the controller will drop the
speed of the entire EIDE data bus.
Even though several connected EIDE
components may be rated at 133
MHz, if they are connected with a
cable rated at 66 MHz, the drives
data transfer will probably operate
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 7
below 133 MHz.
You also get into issues of the kind
of connectors at the cable ends, as
with Firewire (IEEE 1394), USB, and
other cables. Other sources for this
information are the manufacturer's
Web site or those of on-line retailers
who sell the part. You may have to
look at the part’s manual to find information about its power connectors.
However, how do you get to see the
manual before buying the part? Many
manufacturers have the manual to
their parts on their Web site in PDF
format, so you can just download the
manual. This is sometimes the easiest
way to find out whether a motherboard needs a 20- or 24-pin power
connector or if it can take either. From
these same sources you can also find
out what cables come with a part.
You should look at the power supply you are going to use, if you have
access to it, to find out the specifications. There are different ATX standards for power supplies, with ATX
12V 2.01 being the latest (For additional information read “More Performance: The New Power Supply
Standard, ATX12V 2.0” at Tom's
Hardware Guide www.tomshardware.
com.) Look at what connectors it has
and how many of each (20- or 24-pin,
P4, and EPS motherboard connectors,
4 pin Molex for 5.25” format EIDE
drives and some fans, floppy drive,
SATA, auxiliary, and PCI Express
video.card. Depending on what you
find and your needs, you may need
power splitters or adapters. Many
older power supplies do not have
SATA drive power connectors, but
only those that are used for EIDE. (Be
aware that some SATA drive power
adapters do not have a +3.3V connection, which is required by some
drives). Only some of the recently
introduced power supplies have a PCI
Express video card power connector.
If you have enough components in
(continued on page 8)
Flash Memory
By J. Kohrs, in Tech-Tips, on-line article from Computer Geeks
MMC and SD
Flash memory is available in so
many formats that it can be difficult
for someone to know what will work
with any particular device. Devices
such as MP3 players, PDAs, mobile
phones, digital cameras, and personal
computers can take advantage of flash
memory to bolster their storage capacity, but selecting the right format may
be easier said than done.
First we will focus on two similar,
(Continued from page 7)
your system where your present
power supply may not be able to
handle the load, it might be better to
get a new power supply that has the
newer type of connectors you need.
One thing you also should consider is how your cables will affect
airflow in your computer. May people use round EIDE cables rather
than flat because of this issue. The
good use of cable ties can help with
this problem. Especially if you live
far away from a computer store, are
using on-line retailers, or are going
to a computer swap meet where you
would have to pay again to reenter, it
is especially important to be sure you
have all the cables you need for your
computer upgrade or building project. Researching what you need
ahead of time can prevent wasting
time and money and increasing your
frustration. May you have the cables
you need, and not some you can't
use. □
Timothy Everingham is CEO of
Timothy Everingham Consulting in
Azusa, California. He is also Chair
of the Los Angeles Chapter of ACM
SIGGRAPH. His Web site is http:/
This article has been provided by the
Editorial Committee of the Association
of Personal Computer User Groups and
is reprinted by permission.
very popular and generally interchangeable formats: MMC and SD.
The Basics
Before getting into the details,
some background on each card may
be appropriate. The letters ‘MMC’
stand for MultiMedia Card, which is a
format that was developed jointly by
SanDisk and Siemens in 1997. The
letters ‘SD’ stand for Secure Digital,
and this format is an improvement on
the original MMC design, and was
developed jointly by SanDisk, Matsushita Electronics (better known as
Panasonic) and Toshiba.
Both formats are quite durable, and
the solid state (no moving parts) components are protected by a rigid plastic shell. The devices are generally
unaffected by extreme temperatures
and should withstand a drop of 10 feet
without experiencing any damage
from shock.
Physical Features
Both MMC and SD flash memory
units measure approximately 24mm x
32mm x 2.1mm, about the size of a
typical postage stamp, and weigh a
mere 2 grams. This miniature footprint may make them about the easiest
way to misplace your data, but also
allows the devices that accept them to
be smaller. Personal electronics are
shrinking as they get more powerful,
and the necessary accessories need to
keep pace. Although they share the
same basic form factor, two physical
features—a sliding tab and the number of connections—can distinguish
MMC and SD cards.
When you look at an MMC or SD
card so that the label is facing you,
and the electrical connections are facing away from you, there will be a
notch in the upper right corner of the
card. From this point of reference
there will be a small sliding tab on the
left edge of an SD card, not found on
an MMC card. This tab slides into
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 8
two positions, locked and unlocked. It
allows the user to manually writeprotect the data on the card, which
means that when the tab is in the
locked position data can be read from
the card, but nothing can be written to
or erased from the card. The other
physical difference is on the backside
of the card. An MMC card features
seven electrical connections (small
rectangular pads for data transfer and
receiving power), whereas an SD card
has nine. While there may be rare
exceptions, for all practical purposes
SD and MMC cards may be used interchangeably on current devices, especially if they indicate “SD/MMC”
Transfer Rate
SD and MMC cards are capable of
similar data transfer rates, with a
slight edge going to the SD cards. SD
cards are now available with write
speeds rated at 60x (9 MB/s) and read
speeds rated at 66x (10 MB/s), while
MMC transfer rates seem to peak at 9
MB/s in either direction. Not much of
a difference, and both are quite fast;
but end user results will vary and may
not reach these speeds in real world
use, regardless of format chosen.
SD and MMC cards should reference a speed as part of the technical
specification, and it is an important
thing to consider when shopping
around. Lower speed cards are still
commercially available, and they can
have an impact on the performance of
digital cameras or other devices where
speed may be critical. Each ‘x’ in the
speed rating represents O.15 MB/s, so
if 45x compared to 66x doesn’t sound
like a big deal to you, maybe putting
it in terms of 6.75 MB/s compared to
10 MB/s will. Instead of actual speed
ratings, some manufacturers will use
words like “High Speed” or “Ultra”
when referring to the faster cards.
(Continued on page 9)
(Continued from page 8)
SD cards are readily available in
sizes up to 1 GB, 2 GB models are
starting to show up, and the SD Card
Association states that models with
up to 4 GB and 8 GB of storage capacity are also on the way. In contrast, MMC cards have a maximum
capacity of 512 MB, making the SD
technology much more appealing.
As mentioned in the physical features section above, SD cards offer
the benefit of write protection. By
“locking” the card, a user can be assured that the data is secure until they
take the necessary step to unprotect it.
Using an SD card over an MMC card,
thus improving the security of the
data, can eliminate fears of accidentally losing or changing data.
Another feature supported by SD,
but not MMC, involves copyright
protection. The SanDisk Web site
refers to this feature as “cryptographic
security for protection of copyrighted
data,” and other locations reference it
as DRM, or Digital Rights Management. Basically, licensed content can
be written to an SD card but cannot
be executed except from that specific
In general, SD and MMC cards are
interchangeable, and either can be
used in a compatible device. An SD
card may generally cost more than an
MMC card with the same capacity;
but as seen in this Tech Tip, it does
offer more for the money.
Many card readers are available
for personal computers that promote
the ability to read and write to a variety of common flash media formats.
A 15-in-1 reader/writer can be made
quite compact, thanks in part to the
fact that two of the 15, MMC and SD,
can be read from the same slot on the
MP3 players generally come with
a base amount of memory to store
music files, but having an expansion
slot allows users to increase the capacity, and play time, by adding flash
memory of their choice. The Pogo
RipFlash MP3 Player is such a device, providing 256 MB onboard, as
well as an SD/MMC slot for easy expandability.
Mobile phones and PDAs can also
take advantage of increased storage
space, thanks to flash memory slots.
The Handspring Treo 600 is a combination phone/PDA that offers an SD/
MMC slot for such convenience.
And of course, digital cameras use
flash memory as their “film,” where
larger and faster cards are always a
welcome upgrade. The 6.1 MegaPixel
Kodak DX7630 could fill up the same
SD/MMC card much faster than the
3.2 MegaPixel Umax AstraPix 640,
but one of the great things about these
cards is that the user can choose the
size, as well as the quantity to have on
hand, in order to suit their particular
needs and budget.
One word of warning — be sure to
check your device for the capacity of
the card it can handle. If your camera
can handle only up to a 512 MB card,
then using a 1 GB card in the camera
will be pointless. (Depending on the
device, some will not even be able to
read the card, whereas others will
only use up to the capacity that it is
rated for. Either way, you want to
make sure that you match the card
properly to the device.) So as always,
check your product’s manual to be
sure that you buy memory that It can
Now let us take an overview of
four other common formats: CompactFlash, SmartMedia, xD, and
Memory Stick (yes, there are actually
even more, but these six constitute the
ones used most in the Flash Memory
It would be convenient for consumers if manufacturers could all
agree on one format of flash memory,
but don't hold your breath for that to
happen! With flash memory being
used in so many different devices, one
can count on having as many choices
in devices as in the memory required
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 9
for them.
SanDisk developed CompactFlash
technology in 1994, making it one of
the oldest flash memory formats currently in use. According to the CompactFlash Association, CompactFlash
cards have the potential for capacities
up to 137 GB and data transfer rates
of up to 66 MB/s. But current devices
can realistically be expected to have
capacities of up to 12 GB and data
transfer rates of up to 16 MB/s. Both
of these are still very impressive (and
currently very expensive for the largecapacity cards).
Every CompactFlash card is 43
mm wide and 36 mm long; but, depending on the type of card, they can
have two different thicknesses. Type
1 CompactFlash cards are 3.3 mm
thick, Type 2 CompactFlash cards are
5.5 mm thick, and these dimensions
make the cards fairly large as compared to other flash memory. The
connections for these cards are found
at one end and feature two rows of 25
sockets that supply either 3.3V or 5V
to the card (they can operate on either).
The larger size of the CompactFlash cards may seem like a disadvantage, but it is necessary for one of
the main advantages. It is the only
format of flash memory where the
controller is actually onboard, making
it more universally compatible and
capable of increased performance by
unloading the processing burden from
slower devices that it may interface
The thickness of the cards can also
be considered a bonus for two other
reasons. There is plenty of space inside for large-capacity high-density
memory modules, and the longevity
of the device may be increased since
they are more rugged than many other
form factors.
Microdrives are a separate type of
compact storage device first developed by IBM, but they share the same
interface and general dimensions as a
(continued on page 10)
(continued from page 10)
.Type 2 CompactFlash card (Micro-
drives actually have teeny-tiny spinning disks in them; they are not
solid-state flash memory like CompactFlash). Computer Geeks sells a
2.2 GB Microdrive by MagicStor.
SmartMedia was first developed
by Toshiba, and the technical name
for it is actually Solid-State FloppyDisk Card (or SSFDC for short). Just
as CompactFlash has a group backing it, Smart Media is promoted by
the SSFDC Forum.
All SmartMedia is 37 mm wide
by 45 mm long by about 0.75 mm
thick, with a notch found in one corner, and exposed "golden" contacts
on the backside. At less than 1 mm
thick, SmartMedia is easily the thinnest of the flash memory formats.
The maximum capacity one can expect to find for SmartMedia is a
mere 128 MB, making it a less than
appealing solution for modern mass
storage. SmartMedia's popularity has
been on the decline for years as more
powerful technologies have emerged
to replace it. Computer Geeks stocks
128 MB and 64MB SmartMedia
cards as well as a couple of adapters
that let you use a SmartMedia card in
a CompactFlash or PCMCIA (notebook) slot.
The extremely low profile is in
part achieved by the lack of an onboard controller, and by the fact that
SmartMedia is basically just memory
modules embedded in a plastic card.
The controlling is conducted by the
device using the memory, which is
how all flash memory but CompactFlash operates anyway.
Early SmartMedia cards operated
on 5V, but the current standard uses
3.3V. Older 5V cards cannot be used
in 3.3V SmartMedia devices, so it is
important to know the difference
between them.. Holding a SmartMedia card so the exposed electrical
contacts are facing you and positioned at the top of the card, if you
see the notch is on the left it operates
on 5V, if the notch is on the right it
operates on 3.3V. This notch also
prevents one type of card from being
fully inserted into a device that is not
designed to accept it.
The xD (eXtreme Digital) format
was launched by Fujifilm and Olympus in 2002, and it is promoted by
the group at the official xD-Picture
Card website (http://www.xdpicture.com/). With a complete name
of xD-Picture Card, this format was
intended solely for use with digital
cameras, although it did find applications elsewhere. Fujifilm and Olympus were two of the biggest supporters of SmartMedia, and the launch of
xD was a pretty good sign that the
future of SmartMedia was limited.
Each xD card measures a mere 20
mm by 25 mm by 1.7 mm, making
them smaller in overall size than
even SD and MMC cards. The maximum capacity of xD cards is expected to be 8 GB, but typical cards
can be expected up to 1 GB in size.
The read speeds of xD cards are up
to 5 MB/s, while write speeds can be
up to 3 MB/s, making them fast, but
not the fastest. xD cards also operate
on 3.3V and are promoted not only
for their minimal size, but also for
their low power consumption.
Memory Stick
Memory Stick flash memory was
first launched back in 1998, and although it has the support of many
manufacturers, it seems to be most
prominently used in Sony brand devices, including digital audio devices, cameras and even televisions.
Memory Stick is promoted by the
group at the official Memory Stick
Web site, which has a good deal of
information about the media and applications for it.
Memory Stick flash memory
looks a bit like a stick of gum, but
slightly smaller, measuring about 50
mm by 21.5 mm by 2.8 mm. Current
models can be expected with capacities of up to 2 GB, and Memory
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 10
Sticks with capacities of 4 GB to 8
GB may be available soon. According to the Memory Stick Web site,
maximum (theoretical) data transfer
rates of up to 160 MB/s can be expected, although real world results
will most definitely be lower. Expect
a Memory Stick to actually provide
read speeds of up to 2.45 MB/s, and
write speeds of up to 1.5 MB/s.
Memory Sticks come in four flavors (so to speak): the original Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, and
Duo versions of each. Memory Stick
PRO offers faster speeds and larger
capacities than the original Memory
Stick. The Duo modules are smaller
and actually use an adapter to fit into
Memory Stick slots. Note that not all
devices that take Memory Sticks can
use Memory Stick PRO modules; be
sure to check your manual.
Final Words
Say you have devices that require
you to have some or all of these different types of flash memory; interfacing with all of them could be inconvenient if not for devices such as
this 15-in-1 flash memory card
reader that Computer Geeks sells. A
compact device (1/2" x 4" x 2-1/4")
such as this is all that is necessary to
read and write to any of the cards
covered in this Tech Tips column.
Flash memory can be a bit confusing
for such a small, seemingly simple
device. Six of the more common formats have been covered here, and
hopefully the background information and basics of each technology
can help users make purchasing decisions with more confidence. □
Reprinted by permission of Computer
Geeks, at Geeks.com.
Identity Theft
(From Smart Computing, Plugged In, May 2005) by Heidi V. Anderson
You know you're an individual,
and there's plenty of evidence to back
it up. Your fingerprints are your own,
your DNA matches no other person's,
and even the U.S. government recognizes your individuality by assigning
you a unique Social Security number.
But every day thousands of unwitting
Americans are learning that Social
Security numbers, along with their
names, addresses, and other personal
information, may not solely be theirs
after all—and it's wreaking havoc in
their lives.
Identity theft is one of the fastestgrowing crimes nationwide. Those
who have had their identities stolen
spend valuable time and money trying to clean up the mess left behind
by unscrupulous thieves; and it often
seems as though these victims have
nowhere to turn for advice. That's
where the Identity Theft Resource
Center comes in. Whether you are an
identity-theft victim or want assistance in preventing yourself from
becoming one, this nonprofit organization is there to help by offering
both practical and emotional support.
Getting Help
Begin by heading to
www.idtheftcenter.org. The home
page is cleanly laid out, with the logo
and contact information at the top,
navigation bar on the left, news on
the right, and highlighted features in
the middle of the page. There's a lot
to this site, so let's jump right in by
clicking the Victim Resources link in
the left navigation bar.
Victim Resources is divided into
10 logical sections: Victim Guides,
Need Help?, Victim Resource Database, Fraud Forms, Testimony Guidelines, Local Programs, Letter Forms,
Laws, Inspirational Thoughts, and
Páginas en Español. When you first
click the link, you'll see an overview
of the section. If you only have a
minute to visit the site, this page is
where you should spend it. It de-
scribes overcoming the emotional
impact of identity theft (dread, rage,
and helplessness are not uncommon),
quickly explains the steps you should
take immediately (insist on police
reports!), and shows you how to contact victim counselors around the
country (most states offer this service).
If you have a little more time,
however, it's well worth visiting the
subsections; and we highly recommend you first click Victim Guides in
the navigation bar. Your PDA
(personal digital assistant) was stolen? Click Lost And Stolen Wallets/
Palm Pilots to access a checklist that
will give you a starting point for what
to do and whom to call. Think your
PC is safe from crackers? PC Perfect—a computer IQ test—will quiz
you on it. Like to shop on the Web?
The Online Shopping Tips guide
shows you how to figure out if a site
is secure, helps you figure out the
best payment method, and provides a
bit of background on third-party approval sites, such as TRUSTe.
Unfortunately, if your identity has
been stolen and the thief has opened
up, say, a credit card account in your
name, the burden, in some cases, is
on you to prove you didn't create the
account. If you can't prove it, you
may be liable for those debts. That's
why the Federal Trade Commission,
consumer advocates, and other
groups got together to create a standardized ID Theft Affidavit. You
aren't required to use this form, and
some companies won't accept it; but
if you're dealing with a company that
does accept it, it's a good idea to fill it
out. Click The Fraud Forms in the
navigation bar and click the FTC
Fraud Form link at the bottom of the
page to view and download the PDF
(Portable Document Format) form.
You'll find more forms under the
Letter Forms section of Victim Resources. If a financial institution is
ignoring your appeals, or you need to
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 11
clear up a mistake with a collection
agency, or even if you're a thief and
you're ready to own up, these letters
will simplify the process. Other important Victim Resources include a
form that adds you to a legislative
hearings database, guidelines for testifying before those panels, and
"stress busters" for relieving some of
the frustration injured parties go
If you don't want to experience
that frustration in the first place, a trip
to Consumer Resources may help.
This section, found in the navigation
bar on the home page or any of the
subpages, helps both consumers and
businesses protect themselves against
identity theft. Yes, businesses are
also vulnerable, and suppliers besiege
them with collection notices and their
business ratings become diminished.
In fact, this is just one of the types of
identity theft identified in this section. The others are financial identity
theft, what we typically think of
when we think of identity theft;
criminal identity theft, whereby an
imposter provides your information
as his own when picked up by law
enforcement; and identity cloning,
when the thief establishes an entire
life under your identity.
One of the most vital areas of this
section is Prevention Tips—the first
Consumer Resources subsection link
in the navigation bar. Sure, no one
can ensure complete protection, but
there are some steps you can take to
prevent this type of theft. For instance, this page suggests you check
your credit reports from the three major agencies once a year, reduce the
number of preapproved credit card
offers you receive by calling a tollfree number, and choose a credit
freeze if you live in a state that allows
this. It also lets you test your risk
with a brief and informative Identity
Quotient Test, where you accumulate
points for safe behavior and lose
them for risky behavior.
The Consumer Guides are also
useful tools. Click the link in the
(continued on page 12)
(continued from page 11)
navigation bar to check out some of
the advice the site has for protecting
yourself; some of them cover topics
you might not think about, but really
should. For example, if you have underage children, you will have to act
on their behalf if someone steals their
identity, and it may be a relatively
long time before you discover this
crime. A look at the Child ID Theft
guide can smooth this process. Or, if a
relative has died, the Identity Theft
And The Deceased guide shows you
what to do if you suspect someone is
fraudulently using that individual's
personal data.
Several of the Consumer Resources
links will take you to subsections in
the Victim Resources section or other
main sections, but there's one that
doesn't that we'd like to point out
here. The Identity Theft Resource
Center is based in San Diego, and a
small part of the site is geared primarily toward California residents. If you
live in another state, you'll find plenty
of help on the site; but if you'd like to
find out about programs in your region, click the Local Programs link.
This page publishes the e-mail address and phone number for folks at
the national office, who can then put
you in touch with a local representative.
Find Out More
It's a sad fact that strangers aren't
the only ones who steal identities.
People you trust and know well—at
least, you think you know them
well—can also rip you off. The workplace can be a breeding place for this
type of crime, and the Workplace ID
Theft link in the main navigation bar
shows you how. Does your company
run background checks on potential
employees? Does it use a strong computer security system? Are documents
properly disposed of? If the answers
are No, you and your fellow employees may be at risk. This section runs
down some of the questions you
might want to ask about your workplace.
Another common way to fall prey
is to unwittingly participate in a scam.
You're probably aware of the tactic of
phishing, when a scammer sends bulk
e-mails to a large number of users
claiming to be from a legitimate business. The recipient clicks on the provided URL (uniform resource locator)
and supplies personal data, only to
learn later that the phisher controls
the server. There are many other types
of scams, and you'll find details by
clicking the Scams & Consumer
Alerts link in the main navigation bar.
This navigation bar contains two
other notable sections. While identity
theft is a major national problem (and
it's on its way to becoming an international one, as well), it's dealt with differently in different states. In 1998,
the federal government passed its first
act making identity theft a crime, and
individual states have since passed
their own legislation. Want to know
what the laws are in your state? Click
Current Laws, click State And Federal Laws, and click the link to the
FTC site.
The other section we'd like to
point out is the Reference Library.
This section is packed with facts and
statistics documenting the real extent
of today's identity-theft crisis. To wit:
In 2003, the most recent year for
which the site carries data, 13.3 people became victims of identity theft
each minute. That's no typo; that
really is each minute. The business
community lost between $40,000 and
$92,000 per identity stolen. And, victims spent an average of 600 hours
recovering from this crime. The Reference Library also carries speeches,
testimony, victim impact statements,
third-party reports, and a hefty list of
Web sites that deal with fighting this
Lastly, let's head back to the home
page and take a quick look at the
other items it offers. At the bottom of
the main, center section, you'll see
three links to some of the most popular areas of the site. If you can't remember where you saw a guide, alert,
or other desired document, you can
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 12
access them directly by clicking the
Victim Information Guides, FAQs, or
Scams And Consumer Alerts. And,
for up-to-date information, be sure to
check out the articles and links under
What's New.
Recovering From ID Theft
If you've been a victim of identity
theft, we have three pieces of advice.
First, don't panic. Second, head to the
Identity Theft Resource Center..
Third, spend some time exploring the
site and take advantage of its helpful
resources. While you may be unique,
what has happened to you is not. The
resource center is there to help you
and millions of others in your same
situation to get your lives back. □
Reprinted with permission from Smart
Computing, Tech Support, April 2005.
Visit SmartComputing.com/groups to
learn what Smart Computing can do for
you and your user group!
Help yourself and the Napa Valley PC Users Group by subscribing
to a print copy or on-line version of
Smart Computing Magazine. The
magazine is filled with helpful tips
and how-to information. Plus, the
Napa Valley PC Users Group will
receive $5 for every subscription.
You will also receive a copy of the
Smart Computing Ultimate Computing Resource that is filled with
lots of helpful information. The
subscriptions range from $17 per
year for the on-line edition to $29
per year for the print copy.
With either the print or on-line
edition of Smart Computing Magazine, you will have access to the
Web site. You can search messages
for specific information (i.e., latest
virus), view or add articles to your
personal list that is kept on Smart
Computing, access technical support tools (i.e., troubleshooting
search), lots of computing education, and more.
Beyond Stickers and Markers
From Smart Computing, by Chris Jackson
It is hard to envision a time when
we haven't used CDs and DVDs. In
addition to delivering music and movies, these ubiquitous, shiny disks have
become an integral part of our computing experience. Whether you burn
your own music playlists or distribute
home movies on DVD, making your
own disks has long since moved out
of the lab and into your home. Now
the final touch, professional-quality
labeling for optical media, has arrived, as well.
The Past When recordable CDs first
came on the market, computer users
had two options for labeling disks:
Sharpie markers or paper labels
printed on an inkjet printer. The former relied on steady handwriting for
legibility, while the latter depended
on accurate placement via tools such
as the CD Stomper.
The problems with both of these
strategies were manifold. Handwritten
titles and labels looked, well, handwritten. Expecting Aunt Sally to decipher your hurried scribbles was one
thing—expecting a client or partner to
do so was another. Adhesive labels
were just as problematic. The labels
looked decent, but would peel off
over time and often jam in the drive.
How The Pros Do It When you receive a commercially made disk, odds
are the manufacturer used a silkscreen process. Silk-screen printing
on disks isn't out of reach for small
organizations that distribute optical
media, but the costs can be prohibitive. Each print job will require a
setup fee for converting your artwork
to silk screen, and you'll be charged
between 30 cents and 50 cents per
disk. The setup fee can cost between
$500 and $1,000, depending on the
complexity of the silk screen and the
vendor. If you want multicolor silkscreen printing, the per-disk charge
can easily top $1, not including setup
fees. Obviously, this is out of reach
for most consumers, leaving them
with relatively few options for professional-looking disks.
Thermal Printing to The Rescue
Recognizing this opportunity, several companies are marketing peripherals that give consumers the capability to create optical disks with labeling and printing that approaches that
of professionals. The best of these do
so without requiring hundreds of dollars in equipment or expensive setup
fees. They achieve this with thermal
printers that have driven the cost of
labeling down to affordable levels.
To explore this brave new world of
disk printing, we looked at two of the
more popular units, Primera's Signature Z1 ($139.95; www.primera.com )
and Casio's CW-75 ($99.99; www.
casio com).
Primera's Signature Z1 Using the
Signature Z1 is straightforward. Connect it to your PC via its USB cable,
attach the power adapter, and install
the CD/DVD Printer application. We
tested the Z1 using Windows XP Professional Edition, but the Z1 supports
Windows 98SE/Me/2000 and both
versions of WinXP.
Thermal printers operate by heating ink (hence the name) and applying
it to the optical media. When it dries,
this ink is nearly permanent. We were
able to scratch it off with a small
knife, but most users can expect labels
created with this method to last indefinitely.
With the Signature Z1's software,
you can print graphics or text in four
distinct areas of the disk. One drawback to using thermal printers is the
lack of multicolor printing. Each print
ribbon is monochromatic; you can
choose from any color as long as it's
black, blue, green, or red.
We were able to successfully print
on a wide variety of disks without
trouble, though Primera does warn
against using inkjet-printable disks.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 13
Evidently, the extra texture on these
disks prevents the thermal ink from
properly adhering to them. For the
best quality, you should use media
designed for thermal printing.
The Signature Z1 wasn't exactly
speedy when printing, but this is
highly dependent on the amount of
graphics and text you print on your
disk. We averaged around one minute
for most disks. The quality varied,
with text being acceptable and graphics being something to avoid if possible, because the Z1 is limited to 200
dpi (dots per inch).
Determining the value of the Signature Z1 depends on two factors: the
price of the unit and the cost of the
ink cartridges. Each ribbon costs
$19.95 and is good for up to 200 print
areas (four make up the printable area
of the disk). Assuming one color in all
four areas of each disk, our best estimate is that our cost to print on a disk
was 40 cents a disk in ink. The Z1
itself costs $139.95, and over its lifespan, you could probably print a thousand disks. Spreading this cost out,
you should expect to spend about 64
cents a disk.
Casio's CW-75 After using the Z1,
we turned to Casio's svelte CW-75.
The CW-75 is a thermal ink printer
that can print labels on your CDs in
red, blue, or black. You can either
connect the CW-75 to your computer
through a USB connection or use its
built-in QWERTY keyboard for
standalone use. However, you can
view only one line at a time through
its LCD (liquid-crystal display), and
only 12 characters at that. Using the
PC-based software was much easier
than trying to arrange multiline labels
through the Chiclet-style keyboard.
One drawback to the CW-75 is its
use of AA batteries for power. We
didn't measure how long the eight
batteries would last, but we're disappointed that Casio considers the A/C
adapter an accessory that will cost
$24.99. Because the CW-75 has a retail price of $99.99, we felt that the
(continued on page 14)
(continued from page 13)
power adapter should have been
Next on our list of gripes was the
cost of ink ribbons. Casio claims that
each ribbon should last through 50
CDs, but ours petered out at 39. In
fairness, ink coverage depends largely
on how much text is printed, so Casio
has to make a guesstimate as to the
average person's usage.
We were impressed with the print
quality on the CW-75, which compared favorably to the Signature Z1.
The printing process was quick and
not as noisy as some of the inkjetstyle printers we've evaluated. However, the CW-75 is limited to printing
text, so clip-art images and other
graphics will have to be bypassed.
To determine the cost of using the
CW-75, we used the same methodology as with the Z1. The unit retails for
$99.99 and should be usable for at
least a thousand disks. Add in the cost
of either the $24.99 for the A/C adaptor or batteries, and the per disk cost
before ink comes in around 12 cents
per disk. The ink cartridges come in
packages of three for $24.95, averaging out to 17 cents per disk, assuming
each lasts through 50 disks and only
one color is used on each disk. The
total cost should be around 29 cents
per disk, again depending on how
much text and graphics you print.
Alternate Routes If spending over
$100 for a limited-use peripheral is
not in your budget, consider Epson's
(www.epson.com ) line of inkjet printers. With four printers capable of
printing on disks, as well as paper,
Epson is targeting homeowners who
don't have the room or budget for specialized printers.
The most affordable is the Epson
Stylus Photo R200 ($99). The R200
and its siblings feature a front-loading
tray for printing on optical media. The
R200 is bundled with Epson's Film
Factory software that lets you create
graphics and text for your disks.
The downside to using an inkjet
printer for labeling your disks is that
the inkjet process results in a finish
that isn't as durable as the output from
thermal printers. You're also required
to use inkjet printable media that is
more expensive than other blank media. The upside is that you can print
multicolor images on your disks and
the printer can handle traditional
printing tasks.
Because of this flexibility, we
highly recommend the Epson line for
users who want to be able to periodically print a few disks. Users who
plan to frequently print on optical media and don't need multicolor print
capabilities should stick with the thermal printers.
For users unsatisfied with the current options in disk printing, a new
technology could revolutionize the
disk printing world. Dubbed LightScribe (lightscribe.com), this technology was developed by HP over the
last few years and is coming to market
in the first half of 2005.
LightScribe-enabled disk drives
function just like today's recordable
CD and DVD drives. The magic starts
after you've burned your data to disk.
Simply flip your burned disk over and
reinsert it in the drive. Next, launch
your LightScribe-enabled graphics
software and enter the text for the disk
label. Add any graphics that will
make your disk stand out, and you're
ready to print. However, you're not
really printing.
What happens when you use
LightScribe to print your labels is
vastly different from what we've
come to expect from printing. LightScribe drives burn an image onto your
disk using your drive's laser to strike a
thin dye coating on the label side of
your disk. When this dye absorbs the
laser light, it creates a chemical reaction that creates an iridescent-label
image on the disk.
With LightScribe, you're not limited to text or small regions on the
disk. You can print graphics and text
with silk-screen quality on most of the
disk's surface area. And because the
dye coating is inside the disk, the
printing won't wear off over time.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 14
With laser precision, a LightScribe
drive can create text and images that
are far superior to thermal and inkjet
printers, with no costly ink.
So how do you get a LightScribe
drive? LightScribe isn't a brand name,
but a technology that is being licensed
by HP to drive makers and software
developers. The LightScribe system
consists of a LightScribe-enabled
drive, LightScribe-compatible media,
and LightScribe-supported software.
While most drive manufacturers
are licensees of the LightScribe technology, the first to market will probably be LaCie (www.lacie.com ), which
has announced its LaCie d2 DVD+/RW Double Layer. The suggested
retail price is $179. As of press time,
the expected ship date was February
Although LightScribe is an exciting technology, it has several drawbacks. The first is that it will require
special media that will initially cost
more than regular media. Over time,
this should be less of an issue, and the
savings in ink should help offset the
additional media costs. The second
drawback is the need to purchase a
new optical drive with the LightScribe
technology. If you already have a
working recordable drive, the added
cost of replacing it with a LightScribe
drive will be more expensive than
using a thermal or inkjet printer. Finally, the LightScribe system is
monochromatic. However, this is
more than offset by the quality of the
images created with the system.
Put Your Stamp on It
labels and artwork on your disks has
come a long way since the days of
Sharpies and adhesive labels. Whether
you choose an inkjet or thermal
printer, your disks will have a professional look that will not only satisfy
your creative side but help you keep
your disks organized. And with the
advent of LightScribe drives and software, hand-labeled disks will seem
even more anachronistic than ever. □
(Reprinted with permission from
Smart Computing.)
Thank You !
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Membership Application/Renewal*
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
G New
G Renewal
G Information Update
Please Print
Full Name: _____________________________ Nickname:___________
Street/PO Box: _____________________________________________
Dey, L.P.
City: ____________________ State: ____ ZIP Code: ________-_____
Phone (check preferred): G Home: (_______)________-___________
Pharmaceutical products for the treatment of
respiratory diseases and respiratory-related allergies
2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Napa 94558-6268
G Work: (_______)________-___________
E-mail (check preferred): G Home: ____________________________
G Work: ____________________________
707-224-3200 • www.dey.com
Occupation/Profession: ________________________ Retired? ______
Do you want to be added to the following NVPCUG e-mail lists?
News and announcements
G Yes
G No
General diskussion of computer-related topics
G Yes
G No
If you do not want your preferred phone number and/or e-mail address
published in the NVPCUG Directory, check the appropriate box(es):
G Do not list phone number
947 Lincoln Avenue & 1130 First Street
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 299-1000 • www.napanet.net • [email protected]
G Do not list e-mail address
Other family members in your household who want to be members:
Full Name
E-mail Address
Annual Dues:
$30.00 Regular Membership—one or more members of singlefamily household, including any students
$20.00 Student Membership—one or more full-time student
members of a single-family household only
Home of the 59-cent Color Copies
3148 Jefferson St., Napa, CA 94558
707-257-6260 • 800-550-6260 • fax: 707-257-8741
[email protected] • napa.minutemanpress.com
Make check payable to Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group.
Mail application/renewal to: Napa Valley Personal Computer Users
Group, Attn.: Membership Director, P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA 945580286.
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your
dues payment may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
* To request a Corporate Membership Application/Renewal form, e-mail:
[email protected]
Revised 3-9-05
Offering Financial Services throughout the
Napa Valley, with offices in Napa, St. Helena
and Yountville
800-869-3557 • www.wellsfargo.com
For more information about
visit our Web site:
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 15
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Used Computer Equipment Sale
Two Days Only!
Friday, June 3 — 9:00 A.M. to 7:30 P.M.
Saturday, June 4 — 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
1307 First Street, Downtown Napa
Hundreds of Items, Some Old and Some New,
For Standard Personal Computers and Macintosh Too,
All on Sale at Bargain Prices
• Minitower Computers
• Hard Drives
• Desktop Computers
• CD and DVD Drives
• Printer and Scanner
• Notebook Computers
• Floppy Drives
• Modems
• Color Monitors
• Drive Cables
• Network Cards
• Keyboards
• Laser Printers
• Network Cables
• Keyboard Trays
• Inkjet Printers
• Power Strips
• Mice and Trackballs
• Scanners
• Power Cords
• Speaker Sets
• Computer Bags
• Software
Quantities of many items are limited. Since everything will be offered at extremely low
prices, all items will be sold in “as is” condition, and all sales will be final. All payments must
be made by cash or check. Sale proceeds will be used for NVPCUG computer education
programs benefiting Napa County residents. Equipment donations are wanted. For more information contact Orion E. Hill by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling (707) 252-0637.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286
Address Service Requested
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2005, Page 16
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF