COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue

COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
Volume 25, No. 6
June 2008
Inside This Issue
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.
From January 2003 to October 2007
the NVPCUG provided 783 computers
and 140 printers to local schools.
Additional equipment has been given
to charitable nonprofit organizations
and to disadvantaged individuals.
At the June Meeting,
Bernhard Krevet will present
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users
Group will meet Wednesday,
June 18, 7:00-9:00 P.M.,
at the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California
The meeting begins with Random Access, an openfloor question-and-answer period during which
attendees can ask questions about computers and
computer-related problems and receive helpful
information from other meeting attendees. Questions
may be submitted before the meeting by e-mailing
t h e m t o R a n d o m A c c e s s m o d e r a t o r J e r r y B ro w n a t
[email protected]
During the June Computer
Tutor session, Jeff Solomon will
demonstrate and discuss the Linux based operating
-system UBUNTU. It is an alternative for the
Windows XP/Vista operating systems. UBUNTU
contains all the applications you need - a web browser,
word processing document, spreadsheet and
presentation software, instant messaging and much more. Please
send your ideas to the Computer Tutor, Jeff Solomon at
[email protected]
Our very own Bernhard
Krevet will be the main
speaker. He will talk about
SKYPE and its features and
let us know how it has improved his quality of life.
P.S. SKPYE will work with UBUNTU also. An
article about UBUNTU appears on page 4.
Could you use some practical information that would help you
make better use of your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests
are always welcome. Admission is always free.
Interested in becoming a member? See page 14 for application
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups &
Mac Group
President’s Message
By Ron Dack, president,,
[email protected]
at and
In SIG meetings you can learn about
a subject in greater detail than is
f e a s i b l e a t N V P C U G g e n e r a l Dianne Prior will again be coordinating this event
meetings. SIG meetings are open to (Thanks Dianne). Mike Ball has again volunteered to be
everyone. M e e t i n g t i m e s a n d our barbecue chef. (Thanks Mike) I have heard nothing
locations occasionally change, so but praise for the meat and chicken prepared by Mike last
for current meeting information, see year. I know that the marinade had something to do with
our Web site,, or that great flavor so I am looking forward to helping Susy Ball apply her “secret”
marinade to the meat and chicken again this year. Gee this is making me wish the
contact the SIG leaders.
picnic was in June, but of course it will be in August on Saturday the 23rd from
Investors SIG
1PM to 6PM. Even so it isn’t too early to start thinking about it.
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
What the Board and I have been up to:
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group (NVPCUG) Board of Directors
Jerry Brown’s home,
is continuing to talk with the Napa Valley Mac Users Group (NVMUG) Board of
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Directors about our continuing support for their group and the possibility of NVMUG
Leader: Jerry Brown
affiliating with NVPCUG. By affiliating they would benefit from all the advantages
(707) 254-9607
our group has to offer and they in turn could help defray some of the costs of support
[email protected]
and benefits to both groups. As the PC and Mac platforms are moving closer to one
another it is my belief that a personal computer is a personal computer whether you
Digital Photography SIG
prefer a Mac or a PC. Personally I have both, as do many others.
Meets: Monthly, second Wednesday
For instance the June presentation of SKYPE by Bernhard Krevet will be
7:00 to 8:30 p.m
done using a Mac Book Intel chipset laptop and SKYPE can be run on either
Piner’s Nursing Home,
platform. UBUNTU Linux that Computer Tutor Jeff Solomon will be
Conference Room
demonstrating can also be run on either type machine.
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Subject change:
Leader: Susy Ball
Over the years we have considered arranging some sort of discount for members
(707) 337-3998
with local stores like Office Depot, Staples, and Radio Shack. Possibly even
[email protected]
discounts with computer repair specialists like Able Computers, Computer
Napa Valley Mac User Group
Connections, and others.
Meets: Monthly, second Thursday
One problem we have had is providing merchants with identification of
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
members. We need to develop an ID card, with or without a photo of the
Napa Senior Activity Center
member. That same card could be used for member drawings at the meeting.
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Instead of the nametag board holding all the nametags we could have clips to
Leader: Ron Rogers
hand out and collect at each meeting. The clips would fit a slot on the ID card
(707) 226-5352
so the member could display their ID at the meetings and still have the ID for
shopping the discounted stores. Well that’s just a thought so if you have any
comments or ideas let me know. In fact if you have any comments or ideas
about improving the group in anyway let me know. You can e-mail me at
[email protected] I hope to see each of you at the general
meeting on Wednesday June 18th 7PM at the Senior Activity Center.
Take care,
NVPCUG General Meetings
Held the third Wednesday of each month, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
NVPCUG Calendar
June 18
July 2
July 9
July 10
July 14
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Board of Directors meeting + B
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
Investors SIG meeting + C
July 16
Aug 20
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 2
Meeting Locations
A - Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
B - Piner’s Nursing Home,
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
C - Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group Contact Information
Officers for 2008
Board of Directors
Vice President
Other Directors:
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Dick Peterson
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Ron Dack, Jim Gray, Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman,
Kathy Slavens, Dean Unruh, Marcia Waddell, and Roy Wagner.
Jim Gray
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
[email protected]
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Kathy Slavens
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Dean Unruh
[email protected]
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell
[email protected]
Programs Director
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
[email protected]
Special Projects Director
[email protected]
Ron Dack
Sales Coordinator
[email protected]
[email protected]
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 3
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
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected]
The material in
Computer News is
intended for
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 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are
tax-deductible as
charitable contributions
to the extent allowed by
law. Copyright © 2007
Why I like the Ubuntu Operating System
By Phil Vogel, Director at Large, The Olympia Microcomputer User Group, Washington,, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for with Windows Vista Home Edition. I only use it for
publication by APCUG member groups.
QuickBooks; that is, I can boot into Vista when I need to,
My interest in alternative operating systems started 20 but use Ubuntu most of the time
years ago when I worked for the State of Maryland
I use Ubuntu to surf the web because it has a very
during a year of computer chaos. We had a good office secure hard kernel. It is almost impossible to attack a
system using WordPerfect but some high State official(s) Linux based machine because all the software programs
made a decision to go with Microsoft Word. At our are attached to the outside of the kernel. At most a
facility WordPerfect was no longer funded and we were particular program will become dysfunctional but not
no longer able to use it. Yet our mental facility didn’t the operating system. For this reason about 90 percent of
have the budget to buy all the copies for all of our the servers around the world use Linux based software.
computer, only a few.
Some servers are so reliable that
service is minimal.
Thus my co-workers and I
became interested in alternative
The Linux kernel is simple,
sources of software. One of the
clean and fast, allowing me to
writing programs that we used
turn it on and be on the web in a
was the predecessor of
fraction of the time required by my Windows machine.
OpenOffice and not very good. And because of the high My web browser is FireFox, an excellent free program.
prices charged for an inferior product (Word compared
I am writing this article with OpenOffice because it is
to WordPerfect) at the time, we looked to finding an another excellent writing program that is on a par with
alternative Operating System to Microsoft products. I Microsoft Office. And it is a free program also. I must
remember investigating Red Hat distribution of Red admit that Microsoft’s “Access” program is superior to
Hat Linux at the time. But at the time it was not up to par OpenOffice’s “Data.”
with Microsoft’s Windows 95.
All the above programs are “open source” which
When I joined OMUG, I was delighted to find that there means that you can obtain them for free by a download,
was a Linux SIG. “Linux” is a term for many operating or on DVD or CD for a nominal charge. However, there
systems (OS) using the Linux “kernel” or “heart” or are also companies that will supply a person with disks,
“engine.” The kernel “drives” the system like a car manuals and service contract just like Microsoft. But
engine powers a car. Conrad Schuler, one of the leaders everyone is bound by the EULA of the “open source”
of the Linux SIG was promoting SUSE, a “distribution” contract, including companies and also users like me.
of Linux which originally came from Germany. Paul For instance anyone who comes up with a change or
Braget, another leader, liked Ubuntu. When joined, I improvement must make it available to any one else for
found I was totally lost. However, I stuck it out and some free.
of the understanding and data is beginning to stick to the
So this is why I like Ubuntu, FireFox and OpenOffice.
walls of my mind.
I also use other features such as watching movies, burning
I listened, worked on the Linux programs on the DVD’s, and WiFi—and they work well. Now I want to
computers in the Senior Center and became convinced edit and burn a home made movie. Plus Ubuntu has an
that I wanted to try it out for myself. I like laptops. I can extensive Internet support system. New programs and
grab a computer and move it to a room or across the updates are coming out all the time. It is an example of
country easily. In this country all computers are Microsoft a technology rising up from the grassroots rather than
friendly but only some brands and some models of the from the top down.
other brands such as Dell are Linux-compatible.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
I decided after some research to take a chance on a new for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
Toshiba Qosmio. We had difficulty installing SUSE and require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
because of inexperience it became corrupted. However,
it was easier to install Ubuntu.
“Ubuntu” is a South African word which means, “I am
because you are.” I am writing this article because you
are here, OMUG. I am using Ubuntu because a lot of
It’s the Napa Valley Personal
people around the world contribute to its innovation,
Computer Users Group Picnic.
maintenance, and security. By the way, the Toshiba came
Mark August 23rd
on your calendar
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 4
Buying a Mouse –
More Important than You Might Think
By Vinny La Bash, Member and Contributing Columnist, Sarasota PCUG, Florida,, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
The average computer user recognizes how important
the mouse is to getting things done. Mice have been
part of the computer scene for over twenty years and with
rare exceptions are
simple devices to
operate and control.
That doesn’t mean that
people who use
them are necessarily
familiar with all their
features and functions.
That’s not as bad as
it may sound. Most
automobile drivers
don’t have a clue
how the internal
combustion engine
inside their auto engine
works. Yet they usually
manage to drive from one place
to another without incident.
Selecting a mouse is much simpler than choosing an
automobile, but there are things you should know before
laying out money for a device that if not properly designed,
may result not only in poor computer performance, but
may cause you injury.
The mouse may be the most common of the tracking
technologies used in modern computers, but it is not the
only one. There are trackballs, touch pads, and for ThinkPad
users, track points. They all have their advantages and
drawbacks. We will focus on the mouse.
Mechanical mice, those with the rolling balls on the
underside, are obsolete. They have a tendency to gather
debris on the underside, and require cleaning. Moving
parts are their most serious weak spot because they will
break down sooner than devices that rely on other
technologies. Newer optical mice suffer no such defects.
They generate a beam of light that combines with an
optical sensor providing a screen pointer that is well suited
for meticulous graphics or serious game playing. No
moving parts mean less maintenance and lighter weight.
Optical mice will work on any smooth surface; a mouse
pad is unnecessary.
Look for a mouse with a USB connection. It will
probably be difficult to buy a mouse that does not have this
type of connection today. Make sure it is compatible with
USB 2. The mouse is not considered a high speed device
so this caution may be unnecessary.
You may want a wireless mouse for no other reason than
to reduce desktop clutter. There are many generic wireless
mice on the market that will perform adequately, but doing
this on the cheap comes with a price. You will have a
mouse that requires AAA batteries. Save your pennies
and get one with an integrated rechargeable battery.
High end wireless mice include receivers that
double as battery chargers, so your mouse
will never suddenly expire in the middle
of an important project.
Most rodents on the market today feature
at least two buttons and a scroll wheel.
The right button is used mainly for
bringing up menus or lists of options. The
left hand button activates functions or
commands. The scroll wheel, as its name
implies, is used to scroll up and down screens.
Sometimes the wheel can function as a third button
activating instructions. Advanced scroll wheel functions
allow left to right scrolling which can be very useful in
wide spreadsheets or large graphics. Used in conjunction
with the keyboard, the scroll wheel can zoom in and out of
some applications, and can be used to make text appear
Mice do not come in a one-size-fits-all product.
Enlightened companies such as Logitec manufacture mice
that are specifically contoured to fit a wide variety of hand
sizes. Logitec was among the very first companies to
recognize that different sized people have different sized
hands. Choose a mouse that is ergonomically designed to
fit your individual hand size. This will go a long way to
reduce the probability of developing carpel tunnel
syndrome or some other crippling ailment.
A mouse is a simple device by computer standards,
yet it seldom gets the attention it deserves. Take the
time to find a good ergonomically designed mouse that
suits the physical characteristics of your hand along
with suitable options for your personal computing
preferences. Productivity and good health are not
mutually exclusive.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 5
Bookmarks Page
By Hank Pearson, Treasurer and Webmaster, ASCIi (Arizona Association for Computer
Information, inc.),, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could view a searchable webpage
of bookmarks for your favorite websites? You can, but
Find Bookmarks with Forgotten Names
Find the Bookmarks File
You don’t need to create a bookmarks webpage. It already
exists on your own hard drive! The name of the file is
simply bookmarks.html. Press Win+F to find it. (While
holding down the Windows key (next to Alt), press F, for
Find.) In the left window pane, click ‘All Files and
Folders’. In ‘All or part of the file name’, type
‘bookmarks.html’ (without quotes). Click Search.
If you get multiple results,
it’s easy to determine which
bookmarks.html file to use.
It’s the newest one. In the
View menu (of your Search
Results window), click
Details. In the right window
pane, click the Date Modified
column header (to sort
the list). The file you are
interested in has the newest
date and time (for a file with
the Type shown as Firefox
One reason to view your bookmarks as a webpage (as an
alternative to looking in a menu) is to be able to find sites
when you can’t remember
the first word in the name.
Let’s say you have a
Firefox bookmark named
Carbonite Online Backup,
and you can’t remember
Carbonite but you know you
are looking for the
word Backup. On your
Bookmarks page (you will
soon learn how to view),
you can easily search for
You are using Firefox,
aren’t you? If you haven’t Bookmarks as presented in Foxfire’s Bookmark Manager
Bookmark the
discovered Firefox,
Bookmarks File
download it from Mozilla (
bookmarks.html Firefox
It’s free, fast, and secure. Make Firefox your default
Document to open it in Firefox. Press Ctrl+D to bookmark
the bookmarks.html file. In the Name field, insert a hyphen
View Bookmark Descriptions and Tags (-) at the beginning (to name the bookmark ‘-Bookmarks’),
so this new bookmark will appear at the top of the list.
Another reason for a bookmarks page is to give you plenty
Now, with your Bookmarks page displayed, press F5 to
of room to view (and find) descriptions of your bookmarks.
the view. (F5 is a common shortcut key for Refresh.)
You will learn how to add tags to improve your searches.
Surprise? The new -Bookmarks bookmark is at the bottom
- not the top. Let’s address that. (This is Firefox
Zoom In and Out
Future versions might vary.)
A third reason to display your bookmarks on a webpage is
to allow you to zoom the text in and out so you can see it Create Another Top Bookmark
clearly. To zoom any webpage, press Ctrl+Plus or
First, create another bookmark that will be displayed at the
Ctrl+Minus, using the numeric keypad.
top. For example, open, press Ctrl+D, and
name the bookmark -Google (starting with a hyphen).
DIY for Fun and Learning
So, how do you display your bookmarks as a webpage?
You could download a tool to do the work for you, or
download a tool to search bookmarks. But it’s easy enough
to DIY (Do It Yourself). It’s interesting, fun, and
educational. Are you just using your computer to perform
certain tasks, or do you also enjoy learning by
experimenting? If you like to learn, this tip is for you.
Sort Your Bookmarks
Now, in the Bookmarks menu, right click any bookmark,
and click Sort by Name. Look in the Bookmarks menu to
confirm that the bookmarks are indeed sorted. Note the
two bookmarks that begin with hyphen (-) at the top of the
Look at your Bookmarks page again, and press F5 to
Refresh. The new bookmarks are still at the bottom.
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 6
Rearrange Your Bookmarks
Bookmarks menu, right-click the bookmark you want to
edit, and click Properties. In the Description field, type
anything (including your own tags) that might help you
find your bookmark and remember what it is for. After
clicking OK and pressing F5 (for Refresh), you will see
your new Description in the Bookmarks page.
To force Firefox to rearrange your bookmarks page, move
a bookmark in the menu. In the Bookmarks menu, drag,
for example, either new bookmark that starts with a
hyphen up or down to precede or follow the other bookmark
that starts with a hyphen. (Having two hyphen-prefixed
bookmarks lets you rearrange those two at the top without Make Changes through the Menu
rearranging the other bookmarks.) Press Escape to close
Now that you know where bookmarks.html is located, you
the menu.
might be tempted to edit it directly with a text editor.
Refresh your Bookmarks
Mozilla warns that it is
page with F5. The bookmarks
automatically generated, so
on the webpage are now
do not edit it, as your changes
arranged as shown in the
would be lost. Make your
Bookmarks menu. (Do you
changes through the
need to refresh three times?
Bookmarks menu.
No, we simply demonstrated
that the bookmarks.html file
is a
is rearranged when you move
a bookmark in the menu.)
more tips and tricks related
to Firefox.
Finding Bookmarks
Hank Pearson (hank.
[email protected])
When you are viewing your
is the Treasurer and
Webmaster for ASCIi
Bookmarks webpage, press
Ctrl+F for Find. Type
Bookmarks EXPORTED and saved as an HTML page
He is a long-time member
Backup, for example, and
who frequently writes articles
press Escape (to close the Find toolbar). To find the next
occurrence of Backup, press F3. (F3 is a common shortcut for the group’s newsletter, and has served as President,
key for Find Again.) When you find the desired bookmark Secretary, Newsletter Editor, and Presentations
(link), click it (or Ctrl+click to open the site in a new tab). Coordinator.
on the Page
(Or press Enter, or Ctrl+Enter to open the site in a new tab.)
Add Descriptions and Tags
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for
publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the
permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
To add or change descriptions of your bookmarks, in the
Overheating: What To Watch For
Any component inside your computer can overheat under the right circumstances, but due to their nature, there are
several pieces of hardware that are at high risk for heat damage. At the top of the list is the computer’s CPU.
Whenever you launch a program on your computer or use an application that’s already running, the CPU must work
a little harder to keep up. Eventually, the CPU is forced to operate at the peak of its abilities, and that’s when it
consumes the most electricity and generates the most heat. When the CPU overheats, programs that typically run
fine may generate error messages, or the entire computer may crash. Some CPUs are designed to reduce their speed
when they overheat, so if you experience severe slowdowns in programs after a certain amount of time has passed,
heat is the likely culprit. Video cards are the second most likely type of hardware to overheat, especially if you use
the computer to play graphics-intensive 3D games. Most video cards contain their own memory and CPU, and when
the memory overheats, it tends to cause white “sparkles” to appear randomly on-screen, where-as heat problems
resulting from the card’s CPU generally cause the game to slow down or crash.
Adjust Icon Size In Vista
If you want to change the appearance of icons that represent your files or folders in Vista, open a folder, expand
View, and click the icon size you want to use. You can also change the size of Desktop icons by right-clicking an
empty portion of your Desktop, expanding View, and clicking a different size setting.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 7
Careful What You Ask For!
By Richard Kennon, Newsletter Editor, Amador Computer Users Group, California,, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for Also, I have an 80 GB second hard drive in the old box
publication by APCUG member groups.
that they will mount in the new. I use it for backup. The
This last Christmas I asked new main hard drive will be a 250 GB SATA drive and
Santa for a nineteen inch the second drive can remain an IDE drive. I haven’t the
wide-screen, thin, flat display slightest idea what that means except that SATA is
for my computer. Santa, supposed to be faster and they can mix the two types on
being busy and not knowing one machine.
a thing about computers,
I am anxiously awaiting delivery of the new computer
asked our son to make the and will report next month on how it all works out. So,
purchase. He decided that I have spent our Federal rebate already. You can’t say I
nineteen inch was for wimps am not patriotic!
so he picked up a twenty-two inch wide-screen. It is a
beauty with 1680x1050, 96ppi resolution. That is super
good… except. Wouldn’t you know, my old Dell has a
video card that does not go that high. So, buy a new
video card, right? They are not so expensive. It turns out
my old Dell does not have a slot to unplug the card and By Richard Kennon, Newsletter Editor,
plug in a new one. I am not sure of the technicalities, but Amador Computer Users Group, California,
one tech suggested a new mother board as well. They, [email protected]
are not too expensive either. Then his partner says, “If I got it! Wow, it looks just like every other computer.
you are going to spend that much, why not let us build Perhaps you will remember last month I reported I had
you a new computer for just a little more?” Golly, what received a new Samsung 22-inch wide screen display
a great idea. The old Dell is getting so slow, I am that my old computer would not feed. One thing led to
frustrated every time I use it. So, why not get a new another and I commissioned a local computer store to
supercharged dual processor and two gigs of RAM so I build a new computer for me. It has a 250 Gbyte SATA
can really sail? We discussed specifications for a while hard drive, 2 Gbyte RAM and an AMD 64x2 dual
and came to agreement. Then I said I would want the processor. Also, it is loaded with XP Home operating
Vista Home Premium operating system. One of the system. I went into the ‘why’ last month. I was so proud
of my smarts when I copied all “My Documents” to an
partners said, “Why don’t you stick with XP?”
What follows is not what he said but I figured out later 80 Gbyte backup hard drive and then had the store
that this is what he was thinking. “This old geezer is transfer this drive to the new box. But, when I went to
probably not going to outlast XP so why burden him access it, the latest copy had not taken. Bummer! Then
with a new operating system that just eats up processor I started to copy the files onto a flash drive to transfer
power and RAM without offering any benefit? He is them. About that time the old
going to continue to do the same things he has always computer went bonkers - out
done on the computer so why not let him enjoy the of spite, I suppose. After many
benefits of all this new horsepower without the burden tries I got most of what I wanted transferred. I won’t
bore you with sordid details.
of having to learn about a new operating system?”
The first priority was to load the McAfee firewall and
Out loud he said, “This will allow you to use all the
protection. I went to the McAfee site and mucked
software you now have and won’t require you to
download all new drivers, etc.” I had already decided I around for a while and finally got into a chat with
could not afford a new version of MS Office and would someone called, Anish, on the other side of the globe,
convert to Open Office, instead. There is no Publisher probably. He offered to help and led me through the
in Open Office so I would have to do something, I most complicated procedure I have ever followed
hadn’t figured out yet, to continue publishing this including typing Windows-R and typing in “%temp%.”
newsletter. This idea gave me a great sense of relief - I Then he said to delete all the files that popped up. There
could reap the benefits of the newer, faster hardware were about 250 files and perhaps 10 or 20 did not wish
without having to give up software I have grown used to be deleted. Every time I got to one that would not be
to. A little extra icing on the cake is that they will deleted, I clicked ‘OK’ and had to start over again. After
we finally got through that, he gave me a web site to
transfer all my Outlook Express folders and address access and everything went smoothly from there.
book to the new box so I won’t have to figure that out.
Careful What You
Wish For, Part II
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 8
The next anguish was trying to load the HP
printer drivers for my two printers. That
appeared to go well at first but later something
went very wrong and Microsoft volunteered that the
problem was caused by Hewlett Packard and that HP
had a fix on a site I could click to. That is really nice
service! So, I did everything the HP site said to do but
it kept failing with a message outlining three possible
causes – none of which seemed to apply from the best
I could determine. At that juncture, I decided to drop
back to square-one and try to reload the driver in
question from the disk. First, it was necessary to uninstall
the driver and then re-install it. I did this but failed to
read the fine print. It is clear now that one cannot install
the driver if the printer is plugged into the computer. So,
uninstall and re-install again but do it right this time,
dummy. What do you know? It worked!
I reloaded MS Office 2003
Professional that I had been using for
some time. That went quite well. Then
I downloaded Service Pack 2 (or, is it
3?) and the Compatibility Pack I wrote
about last month. That went well, also.
It is interesting how even old people can learn, isn’t it?
Next came Photoshop Elements 5.0
and after that will come TOPO!, which
is a map program I like and several
other smaller programs, including my
Nikon camera software.
All in all, it has been not as bad an
experience as it might
have been and not as good as wished
for. The backup hard disk is/was a
great idea but somehow I fumbled the
execution. My only advice is that if
you want to get a new computer, plan,
plan, plan and then consult as many
others, who might have gone through
it, as possible.
How about that? Twenty five and a half columns!
This article may be used in any non-profit publication if credit
is given to the author and the Amador Computer Users Group
of Jackson, California.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Eliminate Shaky Video
You can reduce shaky video by purchasing a digital
camcorder with optical image stabilization or by
placing the camera on a tripod. Optical image
stabilization uses gyroscopic technology to
compensate for high-frequency vibration, and it is
especially useful to steady your video in situations
where a tripod would either be too cumbersome or
take up too much space. Digital image stabilization
also helps you shoot smooth video, but it can
degrade your recording quality because it shifts the
pixels in an image to compensate for shaky video.
External Drives
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have to turn off
an external USB drive-?it will almost certainly
enter an idle mode when communication is lost
with the host PC. However, if you intend to leave
the system off for an extended period, you can
easily turn the external drive off, as well. Even if
you reboot the PC with the external drive turned
off, the system will see and accept the drive once
you turn it on again. Of course, it’s always best to
follow the guidelines provided in the drive’s
documentation or check with the drive’s
manufacturer for its specific recommendations.
Fix A Monitor That Turns Itself Off
Check power and connectivity. Make sure the
monitor’s power indicator light is on and that the
power cable did not come loose from the monitor
or the power source. Windows has a power
management feature that allows you to place the
monitor in a sleep mode (to save power) after a
certain period of inactivity. You can disable this in
the Windows Control Panel under Power Options
or Power Management. In the appropriate
Properties window, select the Power Scheme tab,
then select Never from the Turn Off Monitor dropdown menu.
Google Toolbar
Google’s toolbar has several useful options for
digging deep into your information search. One of
them is the Page Info button, which you can
activate by checking the Page Info menu box in the
toolbar’s Options menu. You can then select to
translate the page to English, view pages that link
to the page, or find similar pages. The option to
view a cached version of the page is useful for
seeing how the site has changed since Google last
crawled the page.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 9
Binary Floodgates on the Internet
By Mike Moore, Newsletter Editor, Bowling Green Area Microcomputer Users Group, Kentucky,, ml.moore(
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for you have clear permission or fair use rights. And please don’t
take any of the following as a cookbook for copyright
publication by APCUG member groups.
subversion because it’s not meant that way.
Having got that caveat out of the way, let’s go somewhere
where the World Wide Web doesn’t go – USENET!
[Pronounced YOOZ net].
Usenet is the bulletin board of the internet, and like a real
bulletin board, its information is emblazoned on the internet
like a ten foot high plasma billboard on Times Square in New
York City. Usenet was conceived by a pair of graduate
students, John Ellis and Tom Truscott at Duke University in
1979. Now lurid and lawless, Usenet has been given the
unseemly reputation of being the Las Vegas of the internet
because of the terabytes of binary pictures posted minute by
minute in an unending stream of first-amendment fodder.
And we can find some dandy files on Usenet. Clip art,
Back in the days before the World Wide Web, when computers
records, MIDI music and classical music,
connected directly to each other over telephone lines, we had
electronic books, recipes, quilting patterns,
a piece of software called a Bulletin Board System or BBS.
high quality desktop wallpaper, icons, and
BGAMUG operated a BBS from about 1989 through 2001
can think of. This material is not usually
and aside from being responsible for the marriage of at least
Wide Web for several reasons, but
one member we know about, we amassed a collection of files
that put up web sites generally
that totaled, at last count, some 45 gigabytes in size, which
and you can’t very well sell what
was pretty impressive when you consider that there was not
it is sometimes difficult to find
one among them that was copyrighted and marked as nonout
or not. You can usually find
distributable material. Unlike many “boards” of the day,
collection of postage stamp
BGAMUG took special pains to make sure that the material
when in fact the sellers of
we funneled through our member’s modems was all above
it from Usenet in
board and free of distribution issues.
or two!)
So-called pirate BBSs, where copyrighted software was
Usenet is and always was just text messages posted on
swapped like recipes at a county fair, were not illegal to visit,
but there were a few high profile cases with big fines internet machines known as news servers. Old timers still
involved and even jail time for the pirate system operators. refer to Usenet as “net news” even though most of the posts
For the most part, though, our legal system didn’t seem to be have nothing to do with news. News servers use a protocol
effective in prosecuting even the most flagrant cases, and the known as NNTP to transmit new messages on to other news
most that a copyright holder could hope for seemed to be a servers down the pipe. The effect is that a new message
posted to an NNTP server gets copied again and again over
civil remedy by bringing suit.
Now the stakes have certainly been raised in terms of the the course of hours or days until all of the news servers of the
volume of material swapped, and the material that is swapped world have the message or file in their database. This
today seems to be music more often than the latest PC game, copying occurs a little like e-mail, except that there is no way
but the copyright system in this country is still not very clear to make a post private. In fact, there is no way to address a
on the issue of sharing binary information. What is evident Usenet posting to anyone but “ALL.” Usenet bears another
is that it’s the user’s responsibility to determine whether or resemblance to e-mail, and that is there is a LOT of spam (or
not a given body of information has a copyright assigned to pointless messages, ads and porn). But if you know where to
another individual, and also to figure out how much of it can look, or just exercise some very patient trial and error, you
be used (viewed, listened to, stored, forwarded, sold, can find some great repositories of information. If you are
looking for one specific file though, you had better be really
whatever) and still fall under the “fair use” doctrine.
lucky! Trolling for files on Usenet is a bit like fishing on a
Instead of this turning into a dissertation on copyright law, commercial fishing boat: you’re going to pull up just about
I will instead offer the foregoing as simply a caution. Please everything that gets caught in your net!
do not download copyright material and don’t use it unless
Even though it’s text based, binary files (images or
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 10
programs, for example) can be uploaded and downloaded to
Usenet with ease, thanks to some very clever programming
that allows seamless conversion from text to binary and back
again. The difference between text and binary is not that
important – just think of text as messages you can read, and
binary as graphics, video, audio or program files.
Messages are organized by topic into a system with the
following “top level” names:
• Comp [computers]
• Misc [miscellany]
• News [internet news, such as new groups or new
policies about usenet]
• Rec [recreation]
• Sci [science]
• Soc [social and behavior, religion, philosophy]
• Talk [just that, talk, mostly of the flapping jaw
Subgroups are separated by periods – for example,, and this fully formed topic name is called
a newsgroup. Unfortunately, the process for creating new
newsgroups is not overseen very well, and over the years the
list of newsgroups available has become truly massive and
quite often inane, vulgar or pointless. There is also not a
good standard convention for naming newsgroups, and thus
we have many more “top level” domains that I’d really rather
not see.
The top-level newsgroups can be considered the backbone
of Usenet and, with the exception of the advertisements and
some dramatic grandstanding in some of these groups, they
can be fairly informative. In particular, Usenet news is a
good place to obtain an anecdotal history for just about any
given industry, profession, product or technology.
But now comes the red-headed stepchild of Usenet: alt.
ALT is a top level newsgroup hierarchy that was
created to dump whatever didn’t fit in the other, more
official newsgroups.
The alt groups carry most of the message traffic on Usenet,
and as the tag implies, this is where the alternative thinking
comes out in the Usenet crowd! The alt.binaries newsgroups
collectively carry thousands of gigabytes of information
across the internet daily. And where do you complain if
someone posts something objectionable? You don’t. There’s
no help desk and no complaint center. Usenet runs itself, as
there is no news server that has any special authority over
any other server. US courts have consistently held that the
ISP that houses this information Is no more responsible for
its content than the owner of your local news stand would be
responsible for the content of the magazines he or she sells.
Most of the files on Usenet are found in the alt.binaries
section of newsgroups, and it is from these newsgroups that
your news reader software (see below) will automatically
process the messages into finished files that are ready to
view, listen to or execute on your computer.
This seems like a good time to point out that executing any
file obtained from an untrusted source really has to be
scanned by a good, up-to-date viral scanner before you
execute it. The safest policy is to just not run these files
unless you do so on a computer on which you won’t lose any
sleep over, should it become infected. However, it is difficult
to obtain an infection from a document or audiovisual file,
so these are probably safe to read or listen to.
You will find some groups on Usenet that end with ‘.d ,’
which stands for “discussion.” So for example, we have
the alt.binaries.sounds.midi newsgroup, which contains
actual MIDI files (Musical Instrument Digital Interface
files), whereas alt.binaries.sounds.midi.d would be a
group devoted to the text based discussion of the material
found in the former newsgroup. In this context, the word
discussion means posting information about a given topic,
as opposed to real-time chat in a split-screen “chat room”
environment. There is nothing real-time about Usenet
because each client computer can be expected to update
its Usenet database at different times, quite at random.
There are some groups that are moderated, where a real
person is charged with the task of vetting everything
that’s posted before you actually see it. This person or
group, naturally, is known as a moderator, and they are
really the only thing close to an authority on Usenet. As
you might expect, some moderated groups have a better
track record than others in keeping out the riff-raff and
There is an interesting history of Usenet and how
newsgroups came to be named at this link: http://
You can receive and post Usenet articles (or binary files)
by employing a news reader which is also sometimes
referred to as an NNTP reader (nntp is the Network News
Transfer Protocol).
If you would prefer not to have to download and install a
news reader, you can skip the hassle of learning the ins and
outs of a new program. Try going to h t t p : / / in your browser, and clicking on
some of the links. Google Groups is a “front end” or
interface to Usenet without the news reader. However,
unless things have changed since I last took a look at Google
Groups, they don’t support the alt.binaries newsgroups,
therefore you won’t find any files on Google Groups.
My favorite news reader is called XNEWS, created by a
fellow named Luu Tran. There is a user manual posted on the
internet at this link: h t t p : / / x n e w s .
Xnews is a free download and there is no expectation for
you to pay anything to the author of this utility. You can get
the program at this link: h t t p : / / x n e w s .
The program does not need to be installed, you can just
unzip it to a directory somewhere on your computer and run
“xnews.exe.” Setting up “Xnews” is probably more easily
accomplished in a workshop setting than a newsletter. „
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 11
Make Your Wireless Network Safe
By Marjie Tucker, Editor, Mountain Computer User Group,, mcu[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
Wireless networks are becoming more and more popular,
but they do add some additional security risks. You need
to spend a little extra time to ensure that your data and your
identity are secure.
What are the Risks?
Because wireless networks don’t require a cable between
the computer and your Internet connection, it’s relatively
easy for someone else to use your Internet connection for
free, to hijack your messages, or to sneak into your
computer and view or steal your data.
So What Should I Do?
There are several important
steps that you should follow
to protect yourself and your
1. Don’t use a default
password on your
wireless equipment.
Most networking devices are pre-configured by the
manufacturer with a simple password to simplify
the setup process. This is the password that allows
you to access the router configuration. These
“default” passwords are well known by anyone who
has used a similar device and they are available
online, eroding any protection they might have
provided. Check the instructions that came with
your device and immediately change the password.
Remember that the best passwords contain both
upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers.
And, always shy away from passwords that can be
easily guessed by your friends - such as the names
of your children or your dog.
Experts suggest using a poem to derive a “pass
phrase.” You merely take a line from a poem or
poem title and use the first letter of each word. For
example, using the poem “Mary had a little lamb”
you would use the letters from the first line - Mary
had a little lamb; its fleece was white as snow mhallifwwas. Add at least one uppercase letter by
capitalizing the M for Mary - Mhallifwwas. Next
add at least one number by changing some of the
letters to numbers, such as making the first letters
for little and lamb into 1s. Now we have a phrase
(Mha11ifwwas) that is reasonably secure and very
easy to remember.
2. Restrict your network to only your computers.
Every computer device has an embedded address
on it called a media access control (MAC) address.
Wireless access points and routers can be
configured to exclude all other MAC addresses.
Encrypt the data on your network. Encryption
prevents outsiders from viewing your
transmissions. There are two methods of ensuring
that your information is adequately protected,
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi
Protected Access (WPA). Because WEP has several
security issues associated with it, WPA is
considered the more effective method, if it is
supported by your equipment. However, since this
is another area where a secure password is
important, you should use a passphrase like I
described in item #1.
Choose a unique SSID. You equipment may have a
default name that identifies your network, called an
SSID. Be sure to setup a unique name and, if
possible, avoid broadcasting that name. That will
make it harder for outsiders to find
your network.
Install a firewall for your network. Microsoft Vista
and XP both provide a firewall that is designed to
protect your computer, but your network itself will
be safer with its own firewall. A host based firewall
is easy to obtain (some of them are free over the
Internet) and can be installed directly onto your
wireless device.
Install and regularly update both anti-virus and
anti-spyware software. You can keep attackers at
bay with these protective programs. However,
remember to update both of them on a regular basis.
New viruses and spyware attacks are being
developed daily; so your software must be updated
to be effective.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of
the author (see e-mail
address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 12
By Berry F. Phillips, member of the
Computer Club of Oklahoma City,, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
Do you want your computer to run faster and increase
your productivity? Of course; if you have major
problems, you will need to contact your manufacturer
and/or professional technical support. Many of those
costly major problems can be prevented by doing
“computune-ups” yourself. Yes, you can do it even
without being a computer geek! My thanks to
Microsoft for some of the information in this article.
“Computune-up” (Software)
1. Clean up your desktop! If you have not used a
program for a year or one that you never use that came
bundled with your system why not delete it. You will
get more space on your hard drive in return.
2. Clean up your system tray to the left of time on your
Taskbar! When you remove icons from your system
tray that you rarely use, it will speed up your system
since your computer has to locate those programs
whenever you boot up. I love a little freeware program
called Code Stuff Starter that shows you what is
running and lets you easily turn those programs on or
3. Defragment your computer and your registry which
will make your system run faster by consolidating
fragments on your hard drive and registry. I use
freeware programs like SmartDefrag and Aus Logics
Registry Defrag and there are others available on the
4. Check your memory. The more programs you have
running the more demand on your system memory
(RAM). Adding more memory to your system will
increase speed and is very easy to do without paying
for expensive technical support. You can do it with
minimal instruction or have a technically-oriented
friend or club member do it since it only takes a few
minutes to replace.
5. Keep your operating system updated and run utilities
weekly! I strongly suggest you download needed
freeware software for your system from “46 best ever
freeware programs” thoroughly tested and rated with
“Computune-up” (Hardware)
1. Make sure your computer is unplugged before
cleaning and not plugged in until your system is dry
after cleaning!
2. Make sure you have the following tools available: a
screwdriver, can of compressed air (available from a
computer store), cotton swabs (not balls), rubbing
alcohol, paper towels or anti-static cloths (available
from a computer store), and water.
Clean the inside of your computer case! Using a
screwdriver remove the side of the case opposite your
motherboard. Touch as little as possible inside the
computer, keeping fingers away from cards and cords
due to static electricity. Blow air around all the
components and along the bottom of the case, keeping
the nozzle four inches away from your machine. Blow
air into the power supply and into the fan from the
back of your computer case. Blow air into the floppy
disk and CD drives. Wipe the inside cover with a
lightly moistened cloth before replacing it using your
screwdriver. Clean every three months if your
computer is on the floor or an especially dirty
environment. Clean approximately every six to eight
months in a normal environment.
Clean the outside of the case! Run a cotton swab
dipped in rubbing alcohol around all the openings on
the back of your case giving them one swipe with a
dampened swab and one with a dry swab. Clean the
remaining outside of your system. Do this whenever
you clean the inside of your system.
Clean the mouse by taking out the screws and going
inside with an alcohol swab. If there is a rubber ball,
clean it with water, and let it dry. Then clean the
outside of the mouse. Many mouse problems are
simply caused by a dirty mouse.
Clean the keyboard! Turn it upside down and gently
shake it and most of the crumbs and dust will fall out.
Blow air in and around the keys. Take an alcohol
dampened cotton swab and clean the top and sides of
the keys. Do this monthly; your keyboard gets very
dirty and can even spread germs. If you have a laptop,
follow the same procedure but take extra care with
your machine.
Clean the monitor with a moistened paper towel or a
soft lint-free cloth. (You can purchase monitor
cleaning products from a computer store). Don’t spray
liquid directly on the screen but spray on the cloth.
Wipe the screen gently to remove dust and
fingerprints. (Never touch the back of the monitor). I
suggest you purchase a special cleaning solution from
a computer store for laptop computers.
If you have finished your “computune-up,” you
are on your way to being transformed into a
computer geek! Do not be alarmed for the “geeks
shall inherit the earth”! Bill Gates, chief geek and
founder of Microsoft Corporation, has already
made it; he is the role model for the rest of us! „
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 13
Fr om Copies t o Full Co l or Printing
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Also come see us for your Pr omo tional Items !
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with offices in American
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The Napa Valley Personal
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The winner of the DSL
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NAPANET that was
given as a door prize at
the May general meeting was
won by Kathy Slavens.
Kathy donated her prize to
Dianne Prior. Her email will
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[email protected] This will
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email from those wishing to
contact her about their
newsletter or the picnic.
Thanks again to Kathy
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NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 14
The Art of Keeping Cool
Part 2: Non-fan Computer Cooling
By Jerry Goldstein, Vice President & Newsletter Editor, The PC Users Group of Connecticut,, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
Last month we went into how to cool off your desktop PC
with fans. In Part 2 we look at alternative and leading edge
ways to cool your computer. We also discuss how to keep
your laptop from frying.
To reduce computer noise pollution computer designers
have come up with many solutions to reduce the heat.
Strangely, liquids have proven successful in
cooling computers. Liquids provide two
benefits over air cooling your computer. Liquid
computers run quieter than fan cooled ones
and water is better than drawing out heat than
air. For complete submersion of computer
parts manufacturers have immersed the
computer in a variety of oil, synthetic motor oil
works well but cooking oil is also used. The oil is low
conducive so the electrical parts are not damaged. Complete
submersion is typically only used on extreme density
computers made for business purposes. One problem with
oil is that it evaporates so proper maintenance of topping
off the oil must be done.
You may say water and electronics don’t mix (go ahead
and say it, no ones around) but computer designers have
worked out a way. The water flows inside tubes through
the computer passively pulling the heat off the components
of the computer. It works the same as your cooling system
in your car. A number of computers hit the market last year
using water cooling systems. The obvious problem is
leaks but since water cooling has proven successful with
gamers, due to waters increased heat absorbing ability
over air cooling, you’ll probably see more computers next
year cooled by water. Just make sure you don’t change a
water cooled computers parts in excess of the
manufacturer’s parameters or you may overheat the
computer and cause a pipe to leak or burst.
To assist in reducing CPU heat sinks are used. Heat sinks
are the fins you see rising above the CPU. Often the CPU
fan rests on top of the fins as well. The heat sink works by
giving additional square footage for the heat to dissipate.
Kind of like when you spread out to cool off in a summer
breeze. The extra space lets the air get to the heat.
Laptops pose a unique cooling problem as they are
tightly packed and sit flat and horizontally and compared
to the desktop’s vertical tower. Heat likes to rise but, with
the laptops configuration the heat gets trapped and needs
to be blown out the bottom or sides. Laptops are more to
user error as people tend to forget the laptop sides need to
be kept free of anything that could block the exhausts. No
exhaust equals a fried computer.
When this happens it may be cheaper to buy new laptop
than to try to fix the parts. Than again it may be better for
you to avoid laptops if you can not remember to keep them
clear of blockage.
A common mistake laptop users make is to use
them in bed. The laptop sits ensconced in the
bedding getting all nice, warm, and cozy. That is
until they fry. If you want to use your laptop in
bed buy a laptop writing pillow. These are
pillows with a hard surface on one side to keep
the laptop free to breathe. Than you only have
to make sure you don’t fall asleep with your
finger on the delete key erasing your “great American
To assist the cooling of laptops you can buy a laptop
external fan. These are powered off the laptop’s USB and
some even come with additional USB ports so you don’t
lose the port. These fans blow cool air on the bottom of the
laptop helping to drop the temperature. You can also try to
save some money by buying a notebook stand that will
raise your laptop a bit off the desk to give the laptop a bit
more air space below it to cool off. I find that the stands are
being penny wise and pound foolish though. The money
you invest in the laptop fan will save you more in the long
run giving your laptop added longevity.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Clean Your DVDs
DVDs are best cleaned with a lint-free,
nonabrasive cloth. Dampen the cloth in clean,
lukewarm water. (If your water is especially hard or
contains excess minerals, use bottled water.) Starting at
the center of the disc, wipe in a straight line to the outside
rim; don’t use a circular motion. Repeat until you’ve
cleaned the entire disk. For very stubborn messes, try
water with a mild, nonabrasive soap or isopropyl alcohol.
Commercial DVD cleaning solutions are also available.
Never use compressed air to blow a DVD clean.
Compressed air can be very cold and may thermally
shock the disc, causing separation or cracks, either
immediately or down the road.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, June 2008, Page 15
The World’s First Computer
By Charlene Brown, Newsletter Editor, Big Blue and Cousins, Canada,,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
the wreck in the early 20th century, it has been the
subject of much debate - some scholarly, some not.
Using Google Alerts is a good way to keep up to date Various models of the mechanism have been
on media coverage of on-going developments in constructed, based on fragments, now on display at
scientific research. I have requested these alerts with the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (two
various combinations of search words - archaeology of the fragments shown). CT scans of the pieces have
+ computer + maps or GPS or 3D models or mtDNA revealed much about the interior workings, and
etc.—to obtain updates on the topics I write about in computer-enhanced, optical-imaging techniques were
the area of computer applications in archaeology.
used to examine explanatory inscriptions on the many
The alerts, which I receive several times a week, surfaces.
provide links to news stories
The mechanism has over
and thus tend to emphasize
30 gears, the most amazing
“The mechanism has over 30
surprising research findings
feature of which is the
gears, the most amazing feature
or announcements of odd
of which is the incorporation of a incorporation
sophisticated system of
sophisticated system of
The discovery could
differentials. Gearing of this
differentials. Gearing of this
accelerate efforts to clone
complexity was not known to
complexity was not known to
woolly mammoths and other
exist until 1575! The device
exist until 1575!”
extinct beasts
determined the position of the
Device made for contractors helps archaeologists sun and moon, and calculated other astronomical
information such as the location of planets and the
create first-ever digital blueprints
Topographical or historical details in Gospel of timing of eclipses. The possibility has even been
raised that it was based on the concept of
John may be accurate
Some weeks ago, I received an alert about the heliocentricity, rather than the then-dominant view
Antikythera Mechanism, which caught my eye espoused by Aristotle, that the Earth was the centre of
because it referred to two of the places I was planning the universe.
This ancient, and apparently lost, ‘computer’
to visit in October.
technology is mentioned on various paranormal blogs
The Archaeological Site of Kamiros
to support the theory that alien beings (usually arriving
The Antikythera Mechanism is the world’s first known
‘computer.’ It was developed at an academy founded from space in chariots of fire) passed on advanced
by Posidonius at Kamiros on the Greek island of technology - but departed without providing followRhodes. In the first century BCE, the mechanism was up support, another concept years ahead of its time.
Or perhaps failure to form a user group caused the
on board a ship, part of the treasure transported to
to be lost until the twentieth century.
Rome to support a triumphal parade staged by Julius
Caesar. Unfortunately, the ship sank in a storm off the This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
island of Antikythera. Since the device was found in require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558-0286
Address Services Requested
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