COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue

COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
http://www.
nvpcug.org
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
COMPUTER
NEWS
Volume 27, No. 2
Feb 2010
Inside This Issue
2
2
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
10
11
14
16
18
20
22
24
NVPCUG Special Interest Groups
NVPCUG Calendar
President’s Message
Officers List
2009 Come and Gone
Vista Task Scheduler
The Computer as Crime Scene
A Computer in Your Pocket: a Review of
the iPod Touch
Another Useful Control Panel
(System)
Remote Computing - Helping
Another Computer User
Fun & Games with Ubuntu
Microsoft Windows Vista
Unleashed, 2nd Edition
“Mr Watson Come Here, I Want
To See You”
Is It Time To Switch To
64 Bit Windows?
Google Chrome 3 – Ready for
Prime Time!
Making Windows More Legible
Membership
Application/Renewal
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.
The Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group will meet
Wednesday, February 17 th,
7:00-9:00 P.M.
At the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California
Lapworks will be the main presentation
After meeting information by the President we will have
our RandomAccess, an open-floor 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
emailing them to Random Access moderator Jerry Brown at
[email protected]
The Computer Tutor session will follow. During this
months session Coordinator Jeff Solomon will be
demonstrating the command prompt, formerly the DOS
prompt. He will show some of the whys and whats that
you can do with the command prompt. If you have a
suggestion on which feature he should discuss, please contact Jeff
Solomon at [email protected]
This month we will explore Facebook with Beth
Pickering to learn what to do, and (more important)
what not to do, to keep your info secure.
Facebook is a popular social networking site for ages 13 and
over. It allows users to stay in touch with friends and join
networks organized by city, workplace, school or region.
You can send people private messages or can let everyone know by posting
them. You can download photos and play fun games. You can stay in touch
with people that you haven’t seen in years! It can be really fun or it can cause
big problems. It all depends on the
security settings you use and the things
you do that can change them.
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 24 for
application information.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010
NVPCUG
President’s Message
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
& MAC GROUP
In SIG meetings you can learn about
a subject in greater detail than is
feasible at NVPCUG general meetings.
SIG meetings are open to everyone.
Meeting times and locations
occasionally change, so for current
meeting information, see our Web
site, www.nvpcug.org, or contact
the SIG leaders.
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
bqandjbb
@sbcglobal.net
Digital Photography SIG
February 2010
The rain during the last month has been just what we needed. However, I am
becoming a little tired of the lack of sunshine. Though it was letting me start
to catch up on some of my e-mail. That is until disaster struck leaving my
desktop unusable due to an addressing error that is continually crashing the
system. I guess I will be tracking the error back to the hardware device that
is causing it. On top of everything else I also have found that Comcast has
changed from McAfee to Norton for their free virus software without saying
anything to anyone. Removing one and installing the other of these programs
is a daunting task. When/If I decide to get my system up and running I guess
I will have to perform that task. I may become a chopper like the little guy
on our website (www.nvpcug.org). I know I hate computers.
I have been looking for the right laptop for my needs for quite awhile now
and I really don’t know if trouble shooting and repairing my five or six year
old desktop is worth the effort. With all the advances in hardware I may just
consider a new desktop computer as well.
I am using Dawna’s Power Mac laptop to write this message. Nothing
seems to line up with the way my desktop works so it is taking me twice
as long as normal.
Meets: Monthly, second Wednesday
7:00 to 8:30 p.m
Piner’s Nursing Home,
Conference Room
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Leader: Susy Ball
(707) 337-3998
[email protected]
Napa Valley Mac User Group
Meets: Monthly, second Thursday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Leader: Ron Rogers
(707) 226-5352
ronrogersnapamug
@gmail.com
By Ron Dack, NVPCUG President,
http://www.nvpcug.org/,
[email protected]
So lets talk a little about the NVPCUG. The annual financial audit has been
completed and our books are balanced and in good shape. I want to thank
Julie Jerome, Committee Chair as well as Committee Members Jim Gray,
Bob Simmerman, and Dianne Prior for their work on this years audit. I also
want to thank our Treasurer Roy Wagner for the fine work he has done
managing our money for many years now.
This month’s meeting will be about setting up and using a Face Book account.
Beth Pickering, Sonoma PC Users Group will be doing the presentation.
It should be an interesting subject so I hope to see all of you there and don’t
forget to bring a friend.
Take care and have a happy new year,
Ron
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
Feb 17
Mar 3
Mar 8
Mar 10
Mar 11
Mar 17
Apr 7
Apr 12
Apr 14
Apr 15
Apr 21
7:00-9:00
7:00-9:00
5:30-7:30
7:00-8:30
6:30-8:30
7:00-9:00
7:00-9:00
5:30-7:30
7:00-8:30
6:30-8:30
7:00-9:00
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Board of Directors meeting + B
Investors SIG meeting + C
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Board of Directors meeting + B
Investors SIG meeting + C
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
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
D - Peterson’s Family Christmas
Tree Farm, 1120 Darms
Lane, Napa.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group Contact Information
Officers for 2010
Board of Directors
President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Other Directors:
Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Dick Peterson
738-1812
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
253-2721
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Ron Dack, Jim Gray, Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman,
Kathy Slavens, Dean Unruh, Marcia Waddell, and Roy Wagner.
Jim Gray
unlisted
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
553-2114
[email protected]
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
252-1506
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Kathy Slavens
251-9193
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Librarian
Dean Unruh
226-9164
[email protected]
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
224-2540
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell
252-2060
[email protected]
Programs Director
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
254-9607
[email protected]
Special Projects Director
VOLUNTEER NEEDED
[email protected]
Webmaster
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 3
NVPCUG
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is published
monthly by the Napa
Valley Personal
Computer Users Group,
Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O.
Box 2866, Napa, CA
94558-0286.
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected] The
material in Computer
News is intended for
noncommercial
purposes and may not
be reproduced without
prior written permission,
except that permission
for reproducing articles,
with authors properly
credited, is granted to
other computer user
groups for their internal,
nonprofit use only. The
information in this
newsletter is believed to
be correct. However, the
NVPCUG can assume
neither responsibility for
errors or omissions nor
liability for any damages
resulting from the use or
misuse of any
information.
The NVPCUG is an IRC
501(c)(3) tax-exempt
nonprofit educational
organization (EIN 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
international
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are taxdeductible as charitable
contributions to the
extent allowed by law.
Copyright © 2008 by
NVPCUG.
2009 Come and Gone
By Elizabeth B. Wright, a member of the Computer Club of Oklahoma City, OK,
www.ccokc.org, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Yes, another year is coming to a close. And what do we have
to show for it? Another Microsoft OS for those who are not
already confused, limited software and a world gone wild on
the internet. Is that what we had hoped for as 2010 looms
on the horizon? While all of the above were probably
inevitable, how can we make the most and best of it?
First: the new MS OS, fondly known as Windows7. It’s
really not too bad, considering the fact that all Windows
based computers work under the original handicap of the
hardware created by IBM for its personal computers. I
have seen my friends and loved ones switching to Apple
based computers and loving every minute of it, even
though Apple creates new operating systems about as
often as does Microsoft. But then, most people switch for
the graphics and possibly the word processing capability of
Apple (Mac) machines, and perhaps are not as compelled
to upgrade to a new OS like Windows customers are. Yes,
our photographs are very important to us and Apple made
that kind of computing a good experience many years ago.
But what about those of us who like to work with both
graphics and number-crunching software? Best to stick to
the unending procession of Microsoft operating systems.
With powerful enough hardware, including RAM memory
and a good graphics card, even Windows can do a passable
job with graphics. It has always done exceptionally well
with the numbers stuff. And if we can get version 7 and
whatever comes next to work with our older software,
then maybe we can carry on business as usual. I for one
plan to give it a try. But to utilize additional RAM, we are
faced with using the 64bit version of Windows 7 with a
64bit processor.
So we might not actually get as much good out of the new
OS and newer photo editing software if our hardware
can’t meet those standards.
Second: limited software. By now most average users
have all the programs they will ever use. About the only
thing new many people buy is the latest, greatest antivirus
program. Businesses use number crunching, word
processing and data manipulation software; individuals
tend to use graphics, word processing and the internet.
Microsoft and Apple, and to some extent Sun Microsystems,
have both categories firmly in hand, and we likely will see
no new software for average users. But the old MS and
Adobe stuff will continue to be “improved” in order to keep
those companies in business. No need to beat that dead
horse. Programs for Linux based computers are more of
the same. As for huge corporations, they depend on
specialists to continually fine-tune their programs in order
to keep up with the competition. The industry that has
developed for just that purpose is something of which most
of us are not likely to have much knowledge or interest.
Third: The World Gone Wild. That is the one that worries
most thinking people more than anything else. Again, it
doesn’t need explaining since most of the people reading
this are well aware of the idiocy available on the internet.
Yes, there is still some really good stuff out there, but so
few people are taking advantage of it. The bad stuff, and
everyone knows just how bad it is, may be the ultimate
downfall of civilization as we now know it. From selling iffy
goods to selling sex and extreme violence, the internet is a
place where legitimate learning and business is losing the
battle. Even the so-called online universities are often
nothing but sham corporations. They tie people up with
debt as soon as they enroll, knowing full well that many of
their “students” will never finish even the first course,
much less graduate. And what are those degrees worth?
I guess I can expect a lot of dissent on that subject, but
firsthand experience with relatives has shown me that my
theory is on target.
But of course, the upside is that the internet system will
probably implode in perhaps the not-too-distant future.
Either governments will hijack it or it will just crumble from
its own weight and greed. Do you remember the world
before the internet? What you may not remember, or
possibly don’t know about, was the existence of computers
connected via phone lines and other cabling systems which
were military and scientific in nature. Then the rest of us
got into the act.
Outlook for 2010: For computer users who want
something more than email and surfing, there continue to
be ways to improve skills. And many of those choices are
still available free on the internet. Check out your favorite
program to see what and where you can find training
programs, then DO IT!! Make the effort to at least make
Microsoft, Apple and all others work for you instead of the
other way around.
GPS On Your Phone
Many phones come equipped with a built-in GPS
(global positioning system) receiver so you don’t need
a separate GPS device. These phones can provide
directions, maps, and point-of-interest information, but
the service usually requires an additional monthly fee.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 4
Vista Task Scheduler
Written by Vinny LaBash, Member of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc.,
Florida, www.spcug.org, mailto:[email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
Task Status: This section covers four time periods.
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
Tasks
that have run in the last hour, 24 hours, 7 days or
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
30 days. It tells you how many tasks have started during
Windows draws its share of critics, but one thing the the period, how many are currently running, how many
wizards of Redmond did right was to redesign the XP Task are complete, how many are stopped for one reason or
Scheduler for Vista. There were no radical revisions, another, and how many have failed. Obviously, this
simply a combination of small changes that made a big section is used for troubleshooting.
difference. The tool is easy to access, easy to use, easy to
Active Tasks: This section tells you what Task
modify if necessary, and easy to tell it to go away when you
Scheduler
is doing right now. Let’s leave it at that.
don’t need it anymore.
The right pane is the section we came to play in. For
Why would you want to use it? If your computer activity
our
purposes there is no important difference between
includes doing anything on a regular basis, whether it is
Create
Basic Task and Create Task.
daily, weekly, monthly or some other time variant, Task
1. Click on Create Basic Task.
Scheduler could be useful. For example, I need to remember
2. The Create Basic Task Wizard opens.
to take medication usually at a time when I’m busy doing
something else. Task Scheduler throws a message in my
3. Type the name of your task. You could try something
face reminding me to pop my pill at the appropriate time.
original like Start Calculator. Create a description if
If I’m not at home, my smart phone relays the message.
you want. Then click the Next button at the bottom
But at home or elsewhere, it’s Vista Task Scheduler that
left of the dialog box.
gets the message to me. Of course, when I leave the house
4. Tell the Wizard when you want the task to start. You
I have to remember to bring my medicine with me, but
have several choices. For this exercise choose
that’s a tale for another article.
Daily. Again, click on the Next button when you’re
I’m seriously thinking of creating a computer game for
done.
senior citizens called “The Hereafter”. It starts out with
5. Tell the Wizard what day you want the calculator to
the player walking into a room and wondering “What am
make its first automated appearance on your desktop.
I here after?” Task Scheduler will play a big part in this.
6. Now tell it what time of the day to start. Be careful
Let’s say you use the calculator a lot and you would
you don’t choose a time when you’re sleeping. Click
like it to start up whenever you turn on your computer.
Next.
Here’s how to set it up:
7. The Action box makes its appearance. You aren’t
1. Click on the Start Orb.
sending an email; neither do you want to display a
2. Click on Control Panel.
message. Start a program is the correct choice.
Click Next.
3. Click on System and Maintenance
8. Type calc.exe in the Action text box. Click Next.
4. In the Administrative Tools section, click on
Schedule tasks. (You may have to scroll down).
9. Check the Summary dialog box to make sure that
everything is the way you want it.
5. At some point you may be asked to supply an
Administrative Password. Provide it and continue.
10. Click Finish, and you’re done.
You will now see a dialog box with a very intimidating There are two important concepts at work when you
appearance. It doesn’t bite and won’t tell anyone if you run tasks using the Task Scheduler. The first is the
stayed up past your bed time.
trigger, the event that causes a task to run. The
Let’s examine it briefly to understand what’s going on in second is the action, the work that is carried out when
the dialog box before we proceed. In the left pane, the top the task is triggered.
item which is marked (local) tells us that what we see in
There are three main actions associated with running
the middle pane are Task Scheduler items assigned to the a task: sending an e-mail, running a program, and
machine you are currently using.
displaying a message. Many actions can trigger a task.
If your machine is not part of a network it has no other Among the most common actions are starting the
significance. The middle pane is divided into three parts: computer, the computer entering an idle state, the
Overview of Task Scheduler: Overview is a brief occurrence of a specific time and date or the computer
description of what you can do with the tool and where the tasks performing some specific function. Think about how
are stored. The folder labeled Task Scheduler Library can you use your computer and you can probably find a
be expanded to display the Console Tree. Ignore this for now. productive use for the Task Scheduler.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 5
The Computer as Crime Scene
Written by Michael Gemignani, a member of HAL-PC, Texas, HAL-PC Magazine, July 2009,
www.hal-pc.org, [email protected] hal-pc.org
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s including downloading images that the user would ordinarily
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
avoid completely, usually without the user’s knowledge. If
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
a worker is provided a computer by his or her employer, the
When most folks think of criminal activity, the computer is computer may already have illicit files stored on the hard
not the first thing that comes to mind.
drive and the new user may be none the wiser.
But computers are arguably one of the most powerful
What of it, you might ask? Surely the police would
instruments of crime in history. A poor sucker who robs a understand that it was not the current user but, rather, the
bank may get a few thousand dollars. He will almost previous user or malicious software that downloaded the
invariably be caught and may wind up spending decades in illegal files. But suppose such files were found on your own
jail. But a cybercriminal who causes billions of dollars in computer. How would you prove that you were not the one
damage (witness the conficker worm), or who manages to who downloaded them? If child pornography were found
steal millions of dollars electronically, may not even get on your hard drive, how could you convince someone that
caught and, if caught, is not liable to spend a much time in you were not the one who put it there? Indeed, if someone
prison as the low tech robber. Computers offer the at work wanted to get you fired and the person had the
opportunity for theft and vandalism on an unprecedented requisite expertise, he could put incriminating files on your
scale. Some feel that the next world war may not be fought hard drive and then let it be known to your superiors that
by soldiers with guns and bombs but by hackers who try to he had observed you downloading pornography on the job.
destroy a nation’s power, utility, economic and
The saving grace in all this, if there is one, is that one is
communication capabilities.
presumed innocent until proven guilty. Hence you would
However, we do not have to think in terms of grandiose not be required to prove that you did not download the files.
acts or international plots for a computer to be associated Rather, the police would be required to prove that you did,
with criminal activity. The fact is that even seemingly and this might be quite difficult, particularly if your computer
innocent activity can get a user in trouble with the law.
were found to be riddled with malware, or it could be
Suppose, for example, that pornography, or worse, child shown that someone had hacked into your machine, or that
pornography, was found on your computer. Many your machine had been used by others.
companies will fire an employee if they find pornography
Even if the charges were dropped, or never even filed,
on a computer that the employee uses at, or for, work. If because they could not prove that you downloaded the illicit
child pornography is found, the computer user is subject to files or even knew about them, you would still suffer
harsh criminal penalties. But one need not even download unimaginable emotional trauma, legal expenses, and the
pictures to be subject to prosecution.
probable loss of your job. Moreover, the failure to prosecute
The relevant federal statutes are sections 2252A and would not be the same as exoneration. You would still be
2256 et seq. of chapter 110 of Part I of Title 18, which is under the cloud of having the material found on your
the United States Criminal Code. Child pornography machine. Mere pornography can get you fired. Child
basically involves the depiction of someone under age 18 pornography can get you five to twenty years in prison.
engaging in sexually explicit activity.
Detective stories often feature someone poisoning another’s food or
It is not required that someone actually have downloaded attempts to frame someone for a crime. Now we have the added possibility
child pornography. The law applies if someone attempts to of poisoned computers destroying lives or being used to frame others
violate the provisions against possessing child pornography. for crimes they did not commit. Hope it does not happen to you.
Thus, if the FBI were to established a decoy website that The Rev. Dr. Michael Gemignani, an attorney and Episcopal priest,
also a former professor of computer science who has written
purports to provide child pornography, as some allege has is
extensively on legal issues related to computers. Although he is now
already happened, someone clicking on the website could retired, he enjoys writing and speaking about computer law and security.
trigger an investigation and possible prosecution. Lest you
HDMI Cables
think such language is overly broad and therefore
unconstitutional, be aware that the Supreme Court of the
If you have a digital HDTV and HD output device, we
United States has already ruled the statutes to be
recommend you connect them with an HDMI (Highconstitutional in their entirety as written.
Definition Multimedia Interface) cable. HDMI will
carry a digital audio signal and let you enjoy the highest
I am not by any means defending the loathsome trade in
audio and video quality using a single cable.
child pornography. Nor do I seek to defend those who
deliberately seek out child pornography. However, as is
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
well-known to those who do not exercise appropriate
Computing can do for you and your user group!
caution, malware can play all sorts of tricks on a computer,
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 6
A Computer in Your Pocket: a Review of the iPod Touch
By Nancy De Marte, SIG Chairperson, Sarasota PCUG, Florida, www.spcug.org,
[email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Decades ago, the technology community was predicting
that someday computers would be integrated into our
everyday life – in cars, phones, refrigerators. This idea
seemed far-fetched to us conservative PC users. What
we couldn’t imagine was a device the size of a playing
card that could perform almost all the functions of a
desktop computer. But it’s true. A few months ago I
bought one of these magic items, an iPod Touch.
The original iPod has been around since 2001 as a
portable device produced by Apple and acting primarily
as a media player with excellent tone quality. The iPod
Touch, introduced in late 2007 as a non-phone version of
the iPhone, is also a media player, but does much, much
more. Besides listening to my favorite songs through
headphones while at the gym, I have used my iPod Touch
to surf the Internet, read my email from my Verizon and
Yahoo accounts, check my stocks, store and view my
digital photos, and play a variety of interesting and brainboosting games, all without spending a penny beyond the
purchase price of the iPod Touch.
How could I do all those activities on something which
weighs only 4 ounces and has a 3.5 inch screen? First,
let’s look at what is required to make the iPod Touch
perform: a Mac or PC with an XP SP2 or higher operating
system and a 2.0 USB port, a free account with iTunes,
and a Wi-Fi connection. The PC is needed to recharge
the iPod, to download and install your iTunes application
from www.iTunes.com, and to visit the comprehensive
iTunes store, where you can download free and paid little
applications (called “apps”) for your iPod Touch.
The iPod Touch comes loaded with several basic
applications, including the Safari web browser, Mail, a
photo gallery, a notepad, calculator, stocks, and weather.
But that’s only the beginning. At last check there were
over 80,000 free applications available in various
categories at iTunes, such as utilities, news, sports,
and games. For a total of less than $5.00, I have
downloaded several games, including the old Pac
Man; media links such as the Weather Channel,
MapQuest, and Shutterfly; podcasts, which are free
video or audio recordings of public media broadcasts,
and some unique items such as a piano which really
plays on the built in speaker. For a small fee ($ 0.99 $20 .00), you can purchase songs or albums, online
books, TV show episodes, and movies to rent or own.
Each time you connect the iPod Touch to the computer,
iTunes opens and automatically “syncs” your iPod Touch;
that is, makes sure the same music and apps which are
in your library are also on your device, including ones you
have just purchased or downloaded. Since I have copied
my favorite songs and albums from my own audio CD’s
to iTunes, they also get synced each time at zero cost.
The most amazing part of the iPod Touch is the
“touch.” Except for a bar on top to turn on the iPod
Touch and a button to open an application, all other tasks
are performed by merely touching or dragging your
finger across the screen. To see a thumbnail photo in full
screen, just touch it. Turn the iPod Touch from vertical
to horizontal to see a screen image horizontally. Enlarge
the text in email or a web page by touching the screen
with two fingers and gently drawing them apart to zoom
in or together to zoom out. When you have finished
reading an email message, just touch the recycle bin at
the bottom of the screen and the message flows into the
bin. The device also has an on screen keyboard to enter
text or write an email. If you aren’t a “texter,” as I’m
not, using the keyboard took a little getting used to. But
I’m improving each time.
To access the Internet with iPod Touch, you need a WiFi (wireless) connection. In our home, we have a wireless
network for our two computers. The iPod Touch senses
this each time it’s turned on. When we were on vacation
in the mountains, I found a friendly general store and
restaurant with a public wireless connection. Since I
don’t store personal information on this device, I was able
to read my mail safely while sipping a cup of tea.
So what are the disadvantages of the iPod Touch? The
downside for many people will be the initial cost. Recently
the cost for a second generation iPod Touch with 8GB
storage capacity like mine has come down because a
third generation version is available. But even so, it costs
around $200. However, once you own it and set it up,
there are no more fees for Internet or any other function
unless you choose to purchase music or applications. And
with your own music and photos, plus free applications
from the iTunes store, you can have a lot of enjoyment for
just the purchase price.
There are more and more of these handheld devices on
the market all the time. I chose not to purchase an iPhone
because currently its phone functions require you to
subscribe to the AT&T network. Since my family and
many friends have Verizon as their cell phone carrier, I
didn’t want to switch. Someday soon, it appears that
these restrictions surrounding cell phones will be lifted.
Then I may look into an iPhone, which has all the
capabilities of an iPod Touch and more. For now, though,
I’m happy with my iPod Touch.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 7
Another Useful Control Panel (System)
Written by Phil Sorrentino, President, Sarasota PCUG, Florida, www.spcug.org,
[email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
In an earlier edition of the Monitor, July 2009, we discussed
what control panels are, and looked at the “Folder Options”
control panel in detail. As we said in that article, “The
Windows Control Panel is the component of the Windows
User Interface that allows users to modify and personalize
the way Windows (XP and Vista) operates. All of the User
Interface settings and controls that are under user control
can be manipulated by the small applications (called
applets) that are part of the Windows Control Panel.” The
“System” control panel is another of these very useful
applets. It provides basic information about the hardware,
the software, the device drivers, and how the computer
operates in a network. The information provided under XP
and Vista is similar, but the displays are different.
There are a few basic things that every user should know
about the computer they are using. Some of these are:
what CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the computer built
around; how much RAM (Random Access Memory) is
installed; what OS (Operating System) is being used and
what OS Service Pack is installed, if any; what is the
computer’s name; how many hard drives are installed; and
how much space is available on each hard drive. The
“System” control panel provides the answers to the first 4
of these questions. (The hard drive information can be
obtained by double-clicking My Computer, or Computer in
Vista, and looking at the properties of the hard drive by
right-clicking the hard drive of interest and selecting
properties.)
To get to the System control panel on an XP machine, on
the taskbar click start, then click on Control Panel, then
double-click on the System icon. This will display the
System Properties window.
The CPU, RAM, OS and Service Pack can be seen on the
System Control Panel-General tab, as shown in the following:
In this XP example, the CPU is an Intel Pentium 4
(running at a clock speed of 3.2 GHz), there is 1 GB of
RAM installed, and the OS is Microsoft Windows XP
Professional with Service Pack 3 installed.
Computers that are part of a home network must have
a name, a description, and be part of a Workgroup. The
Computer Name is used to find data located on computers
on a network. The workgroup indicates which other
computers can potentially share data with this computer.
In XP, this information is obtained from the System Control
Panel-System Properties-Computer Name tab as shown
in the following:
In this XP example, the Computer’s (network) name is
“Desktop2”, its description is “FrontRoom” (which is also
its location), and it is part of the “B” workgroup. Changes
to the computer name and workgroup can be accomplished
by clicking the “Change…” button.
The Vista System Control Panel also provides the same
type of information. To get to the System control panel, on
the taskbar click start, then click on Control Panel, then on
the left click on “Classic View” (if it is not already in classic
view), and finally double-click on the System icon. This will
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 8
display a window for you to “View basic information about
your computer”. The System Properties window can be
displayed by clicking on the “Advanced system settings”
link in the list of Tasks, to the left side of the “View basic
information about your computer” window. This window
is as follows:
In this Vista example, the CPU is an Intel T2060
processor (running at a clock speed of 1.6 GHz), there are
2 GB of RAM installed, and the OS is Microsoft Windows
Vista Home Premium with Service Pack 2 installed. In
Optical Zoom
Zoom refers to how many times you can enlarge or
“zoom in” on a scene. Optical zoom is true zoom.
Digital zoom, however, is an emulated zoom. It’s
what happens when you magnify an image on your
computer monitor. It gets larger, but you lose some
quality in the process.
If you take close-ups of flowers or capture your
cat’s funny expressions, you don’t need much zoom;
3X or 4X is sufficient. On the other hand, if you
photograph wild birds in your backyard, powerful
zoom, such as 10X, is essential. When looking for a
camera’s zoom, focus on optical zoom. Optical
zoom is one of the most important specs when
shopping for a compact digital camera with which
you have limited manual control. Whereas D-SLRs
support add-on lenses, most compact models have
no (or limited) add-on options. To zoom in enough to
Vista, there are some additional pieces of information. The
System type: shown here indicates that this machine is
using a 32 bit OS (Operating Systems today are either 32
bit or 64 bit). The Rating: shows a “3.0 Windows Experience
Index”. The “Windows Experience Index” is a measure of
the capability of your computer’s hardware and software
configuration and is expressed as a number between 1 and
5.9. A higher number generally means that your computer
will perform better and faster than a computer with a lower
number, especially when performing more resource
intensive tasks.
And in this Vista example, the Computer’s (network)
name is “SonyLaptop”, its description is “FamilyRoom”
(which is also its location), and it is part of the “B”
workgroup. Changes to the computer name and workgroup
can be accomplished by clicking the “change settings” link.
The System Control Panel also provides access to the
“Device Manager”. This is where you can get detailed
technical information about all of the hardware “devices”
that are installed on your computer and allows you to install
and update the software “drivers” that are associated with
the hardware. (CAUTION-Be very careful in this area.
Changes here can cause unintended consequences and
possibly severely disable your computer.) This is an area
that is probably best left to the technically inclined. However,
if you are having problems with specific devices, the
device status may be of help. Status Icons are shown for
devices that are questionable (yellow), or not operating
(red). The device properties may also be helpful and are
displayed by a right-click on the specific device in the list
and then selecting “properties”. The System control panel
provides a lot of information, most of which you do not
regularly need, but when you do need that kind of technical
information it is nice to know where it can be found.
get the shots you want, select a camera with
sufficient zoom capabilities for the photos you plan
to take.
Condition A Notebook Battery
Conditioning your notebook's new battery is the
best way to ensure it operates at its peak performance
and also helps to lengthen the overall life of the
battery. Conditioning a battery consists of completing
several charging cycles. A cycle is one full charge
and one full discharge of the battery. Completing
two to three cycles exercises the battery and helps
it to achieve maximum capacity, which translates to
longer charge times. To complete a conditioning
cycle, simply charge your battery to full capacity
and then use your notebook until the battery reaches
full discharge. Then recharge.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 9
Remote Computing - Helping Another
Computer User
With Don Singleton [email protected] presenting remotely with assistance from Judi
McDowell, President, Quad Cities Computer Society, IL
Written by Joe Durham, Newsletter Co-editor, QCS, www.qcs.org, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Don Singleton dropped in on our club from cyberspace to
share with us the exciting technology of remote computing.
He is president of the Tulsa Computer Society, and also
acts that APCUG coordinator and teacher for this
emerging field of computers. Consider this scenario:
someone calls you for computer help, they live across
town or the river, it is perhaps a 30 minute drive or longer,
you will usually have used up a good day’s time in driving
for a 30 minute house call. Now with remote computing
software you can offer you knowledge and expertise
right from your own home.
This technology has existed for a number of years. Our
President, Judi McDowell, purchased Windows XP Pro
when it was released because it has the Remote Desktop
feature. She has used this for several years. Today
however, remote computing has reached a critical mass of
user awareness, and product development to become a
very useful helping tool. Don presented remotely five free
programs that work on Windows XP and Vista machines
that offers different levels of ability and access for helping
other people over the Internet, and also to doing teaching
presentations on the web: CrossLoop, Microsoft Shared
View, IBM Lotus’ Unyte Presentationsoftware, and
Adobe’s ConnectNow interface. Our session began when
Judi and Don connected via Skype to set up the voice
portion of Don’s seminar.
The first program was CrossLoop. Judi started it on her
computer as did Don. A small interface appeared. Don
invited her to view his computer. CrossLoop generates a
unique code each time it is started that you pass to the
invited guest. This code acts a security feature.
When the connection was made we could see Don’s
Outlook Express screen. He proceeded to display his file
manager, and then his iGoogle homepage. He then
demonstrated that Judi had control of his computer also,
but asking her to activate various tab movements and
settings on his desktop. The presenter has the ability to
control this access. Don noted that in a large group setting
it would make more sense to deactivate the mouse control
access to keep the screen appearance orderly.
CrossLoop allows users to trade places. So Judi invited
Don to view her screen and he plugged in an access code
for this transfer. As a result the flexibility of this interface
allows a helper to demonstrate things on their machine and
then turn around and actually carry out those ideas on the
other person’s computer. It was remarkable that we could
also see these transformations over the net from Tulsa and
Rock Island.
Microsoft’s Sharedview program was displayed. Several
members in our club have begun experimenting with this
presentation and remote access software. In this setting
you use Skype for voice and Sharedview for desktop
sharing. As in CrossLoop you view the other person’s
desktop. But this program has a few more features and is
more geared toward presentations and collaboration
sessions. Up to 15 people can share the view on the net.
With Sharedview an email invitation is sent that contains a
url link to click. The presenter will see the person asking
to join and accepts the session. Unlike CrossLoop, by
default Sharedview does not give the user access to the
presenter’s computer, all you see it their desktop. There
are controls on the presenter’s side which can allow you
to control their desktop, but they must activate it. Once the
presenter moves their mouse the control is severed.
IBM’s Lotus Unyte software was the next remote client
viewed. Judi and Don had some difficulties getting this
particular software to work properly thought they were
able to use it fine in a test session. You use Skype for voice
contact, and Unyte for desktop viewing remotely. An email
invitation is issued as in Microsoft’s Sharedview. Unyte
has a paid version that has more features for $30 per year.
Adobe has created a remote presentation interface
called ConnectNow. The remote desktop functions are
similar to the other software covered by Don. The singular
difference exists in the way you add users to the remote
session. Rooms of 3 people are organized. You can see
each person’s id within the room. So while ConnectNow
has presentation features, it is more useful as a collaboration
tool among like-minded workers.
The last software examined was LogMeIn. This free
software is geared to remotely access unattended
computers. It just so happened that Don’s main desktop
went blank, but he had another computer that he was
building on the network and he seamlessly was able to log
in to this computer remotely and demonstrate that he could
run programs on it. The free version doesn’t allow you to
copy or print files. All of these programs are user friendly.
It is remarkable that we could actually share in this
process, the visual presentation was seamless in all five
software packages. Don noted that remote sessions need
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 10
a broadband access speed to work, either a cable or dsl
connection. He noted that there is Linux and Mac
development of these products so that is an available option.
If you are interested in helping a fellow computer user
remotely take the time to download and try out these
various alternatives. Don offered to answer any questions
about them via email. He is sending a copy of his Power
Point Presentation to our webmaster so that it can be posted
for reference. Be sure to visit our club web page at:
www.qcs.org for links and further information concerning
this session. The QCS thanks Don for his fine presentation
of this exciting field.
CrossLoop www.crossloop.com/
Microsoft Sharedview http://
connect.microsoft.com/site/
sitehome.aspx?SiteID=94
IBM Lotus Unyte www.unyte.net/
Adobe ConnectNow www.adobe.com/acom/
connectnow/
LogMeIn https://secure.logmein.com/
home.asp?lang=en
Fun & Games with Ubuntu
Written by Brian K. Lewis, Ph.D., Regular Columnist and member of the Sarasota PCUG, Florida,
www.spcug.org, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s s p e c i f i e d b y t h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
Organization of Standardization. It is
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
almost 700 megabytes in size, so it’s
As I said in my last article in the Monitor, best to have a broadband
this one would be about my experience connection for your download. (If
getting Ubuntu up and running on my you don’t have a broadband
new Asus laptop. I had been running connection, you can request a free
version 8.04 (Hardy Heron) on my CD from Canonical and have it
old laptop. Since it seemed to be quite mailed to you.) Once the file is
successful I decided to use it for the on your hard drive it has to be
initial install on my new computer. decompressed and the image
Perhaps I should point out that burned to a CD. Most
Canonical, producers of Ubuntu, commercial software can burn the ISO file image to a
turn out a new version of their OS every six months! CD. I used CDburnerXP, a free Windows program, to
Compare that with Microsoft and its multi-year burn the image to the CD. That gave me a bootable CD
production cycle. Hardy Heron is a long-term support that either runs Ubuntu from the CD or it can install the
version with guaranteed support until April 2011. That’s OS to a hard drive as a dual boot with Windows/Vista or
three years from its original release date. In the it can take over an entire drive. If you have two hard
meantime, version 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) was released in drives in your computer you could have Ubuntu take over
October 2008 and will be supported for two years. the second drive and dual boot with
However, the latest version is 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) Windows. There is also an option to
which was released on April 23, 2009. Since I was install it as Windows software
starting my installation the end of March, I decided that allowing you to run it within
installing Hardy Heron should be fine. A bad guess, as Windows or Vista. I haven’t
it turned out.
tried this option. It just seems
The process of installing to me that running Ubuntu
any Ubuntu version is very under Windows you would
similar to installing Windows. lose many of the benefits of
The exception being when Ubuntu, especially its stability.
you want it to share the hard
The hard drive on my laptop was already
drive as a dual boot system partitioned into C and D drives and formatted with NTSF.
with Windows. Then a few (That’s the file system XP and Vista use.) My intention
extra steps are needed. The was to install Ubuntu on the second partition as a dual
first step is to download boot system. As I found out, if your hard drive is not
Ubuntu. This will be an already partitioned, don’t change it. Let the Ubuntu
ISO image file. That is a
compressed file in the format
Ubuntu cont. on Page 12
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 11
Ubuntu cont. from Page 11
installation do it for you. That is much easier. I ended up
doing a more manual preparation of the hard drive which
requires a better understanding of how Linux systems
need to be set up. You can find the info on the Ubuntu site,
but why make things any harder than you have to! Once
the drive was set, Ubuntu spent some time installing all
the files needed for my hardware and the additional
software. If you are
interested in the details
of installing Ubuntu,
check out this web site:
h t t p s : / /
help.ubuntu.com/
c o m m u n i t y /
GraphicalInstall.
They have a detailed
graphical presentation
(screen shots) of the
steps involved.
During the installation
Ubuntu asks for a user
name and a password. I used my initials and a fairly secure
password. I recommend that you do not shirk this password
setup. It will help to protect your computer from problems
caused by outside entry of worms or trojans through the
Internet connection. The password has to be entered for
software installation or any other administrative function.
So using a strong password is advisable.
Now I was ready to do my part of the setup. I had to
program my new USB modem so I could connect to the
Internet. That requires some
knowledge of the command
line functions in Terminal. I
had done this on my previous
computer but some of the
information for the new
modem was different, so I had
to find that first. It took a little
hunting, but everything worked
once I had the commands right.
The other thing I had noticed
was that the sound didn’t seem
to working and the video resolution was not right. So I
investigated both of these through the Ubuntu forums.
That turned out to be far more difficult than I imagined it
would be. My laptop has an NVidia graphics card. It turned
out Hardy Heron did not have the drivers for my card, it
was too new. The drivers available on the NVidia web site
also didn’t seem to help. My sound card was part of the
Intel chip and the drivers
just didn’t seem to want to
work with it no matter
what I did. Then I also
found that Hardy Heron
didn’t recognize my
eSATA port. After doing
more research in the
Ubuntu Community forum,
it seemed like I needed to
try the Intrepid Ibex
upgrade or maybe I would
have to wait for Jaunty
Jackalope to solve my
problems.
So, next I downloaded the ISO file for Intrepid Ibex and
burned it to a CD. That gave me a bootable CD that I could
use to test how well this version would work with my
laptop. When I booted from the CD, although it took some
time to load, the video setup was perfect. It recognized my
NVidia card and gave me the 1200x800 resolution that I
had with Vista. It also had the expected 3D effects and
other graphics features that my card supports. Next I tried
the sound and had no problem playing some WAV files I
had stored in the Linux partition. Better and better. With
previous live CDs I had never been able to connect to the
Internet with my old wireless modem. But I clicked on the
wireless Icon on the top bar of the window and it gave me
a list of several local wireless networks and it also had a
choice of a wireless broadband connection. So I tried the
broadband connection and within seconds I was connected
through my Verizon wireless modem to the Internet. This
live CD also recognized my printer, but didn’t have the
drivers to print to it. However, everything was working
much better with Intrepid Ibex than it had with Hardy
Heron. So, I decided my next step was to upgrade to
Intrepid Ibex.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 12
If I had done an
install from the live
CD, it would have
wiped out many of my
files that had been
created using Hardy
Heron. It wouldn’t
affect my documents
as they were backed
up to my external drive. However, there were other files
that I had created to help with hardware compatibility and
additional software I had downloaded that would have
disappeared. So I went back to the Ubuntu site to find out
how to upgrade, rather than install Intrepid Ibex from the
CD. It turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated.
In the System-Administration menu there is a selection for
“Software Sources”. This contains the information on
locations where the Synaptic Package Manager will find
additional software. On the Update tab you will find the
options for operating system updates. Mine had been set
for “long term support” updates only. I changed that to
“standard updates”, clicked
OK and exited the window.
The package manager told
me that there was an update
available, version 8.10, and it
could be downloaded. It also
gave me an estimate of the
amount of time it would take
with my connection. The
estimate was two hours, but
it ended up taking 30 minutes
less. Once the download was
complete, the upgrade
installation started. About an
h o u r l a t e r, t h e s c r e e n
announced that the system
needed to be rebooted. Since
I still have the live CD for Intrepid Ibex, I automatically
have a backup CD, should problems occur down the road.
After the upgrade, the first thing I noticed was that the
dual-boot menu reflected the new version of Ubuntu.
Next, it took far less time for the user name/password
request to show up. Then, very quickly, on the desktop
there was the Intrepid Ibex. I will be replacing the Ibex
graphic with my own wallpaper, another very easy task.
But, I had noted there was no sound. So I clicked on the
sound icon and found that the sound had been muted! Once
I corrected that, it worked perfectly. First problem solved!
Then I clicked on the wireless icon and there was the
broadband choice. I selected it and within seconds I was
on the Internet. Second problem solved. However, the
screen resolution didn’t seem right. With some hunting I
found an NVIDIA X Server settings on the System –
Administration menu. That allowed me to change the
resolution to 1200x800. Third problem solved.
Next, I realized I hadn’t tried to use the eSATA port
when I was running the live CD, so now was the time
to try that out. I plugged in my external drive and all
three partitions appeared in the Places menu. I clicked
on the main partition and all the files come up in the file
manager (nautilus) window. So, everything that I had
problems with under Hardy Heron seemed to be
working with Intrepid Ibex. And, the improvement
came without having to do anything with the Ubuntu
command line. In my mind, that makes Ubuntu much more
ready for the average user. With an easy install, either
single or dual boot, a great selection of software that is
easily available through a graphics interface, it is becoming
something that anyone can try and, probably, enjoy using.
As for crashes, in more than 10 years of using various
flavors of Linux, I have yet to have one crash. I certainly
can’t say that for Windows over the same period of time.
My next step will be to download a live CD of the latest
version, Jaunty Jackalope, after the initial surge of business
slows down. I really don’t want to be trying to download
almost 700 MB of data at a time when thousands of other
Ubuntu enthusiasts are trying
to do the same thing. By trying
out the live CD version I can
be sure that it will work with
my hardware before doing
an upgrade. I have already
seen the problems that occur
when you have to remove a
newer version and revert
back to a previous version.
That is something I really
don’t want to do again.
Wi n d o w s h a s s i m i l a r
problems as those who
replaced Vista with XP found
out. I am also considering
downloading the 64 bit version
of Ubuntu. I am very curious as to how it would work with
my hardware. You may be sure I will share the results with
you.
So for all of you Windows/Vista users who are curious
about Ubuntu, the easiest way to test it on your hardware
is to download a live CD. From the home page,
www.ubuntu.com, you can download either the latest
version, or an earlier version. I would recommend that
you not go back any further than version 8.10, Intrepid
Ibex. You really should give it a try and download the
CD, especially if you have a broadband connection.
You’ll also find the Ubuntu has a large selection of
games that come with the installation. So, have some fun
and games with Ubuntu!
Dr. Lewis is a former university and medical school professor of
physiology. He has been working with personal computers for over
thirty years, developing software and assembling systems. He can be
reached at bwsail at yahoo.com.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 13
Microsoft Windows Vista Unleashed,
2nd Edition
Reviewed by Jim Krill, a member of the North Orange County Computer Club, CA, Orange
Bytes, June 2009, www.noccc.org, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Microsoft Windows Vista is the operating system everyone
loves to hate. It’s constantly being criticized. This reviewer
bought a new Dell Inspiron 1525 in November 2008 and had
planned on removing Windows Vista and installing a copy of
Windows XP Professional based on the news stories critical
of Windows Vista. I decided to
give it a month and see what
happens. Well, nothing happened.
It worked well and continues to
work well. I have no plans to
remove it and will probably delay
purchase of the new version of
Windows when it’s released later
this year. That being said, I
needed a good reference manual
for Windows Vista. I’m thinking
that Windows Vista Unleashed
is that book.
Search Amazon and you will
discover that there are probably
hundreds of books about
Windows Vista. Which one is
best for you? That one question
is impossible to answer. One
solution is to get a good
reference manual that covers
all areas of Windows Vista.
These large reference manuals
can be initimidating to the
average user. (For this review
I will call the average user a lay user.) Windows Vista
Unleashed is one such large, 750 page, reference book.
For years I’ve used and recommended the Missing
Manual series of books. They’re good but often they
were missing the information I needed or they didn’t go
far enough. Windows Vista Unleashed may be too much
for you but is it better to have too much information or not
enough information? With five different versions of
Windows Vista, there is a lot to cover and Windows
Vista Unleashed is a book that tries to cover it all.
How many versions of Windows Vista are there? There
are five versions. And Windows Vista Unleashed makes
the attempt to cover all versions of Windows Vista. Not an
easy task. And how does any one person know if this book
is for him or her? You may be a network specialist. You
may do customizations of the OS. Or, you’re just a
software techie who has to know how to keep individual
Windows Vista machines running. Windows Vista
Unleashed wants to be that reference for all types of
users except one. The one exception is the lay user. After
using this book I think even the lay user will benefit.
Because there are five versions of Windows Vista, it’s
nice to know which version is
being discussed in the book.
Windows Vista Unleashed uses
a graphic logo to indicate which
version of Windows Vista
applies to a subject. Since this
reviewer uses the Home Basic
(Cheap) it’s nice to know that I
don’t have to waste my time
reading up on a utility that isn’t
in my version of Windows Vista
and it also helps to know what
IS in any version of Windows
Vista. It can get confusing even
for the professionals. If no
graphic logo appears, then ALL
versions of Windows Vista
apply. This small help aid was
much appreciated by this
reviewer. It’s the simple ideas
that make a big difference.
Does this book meet its lofty
goal? Good question. I have
been using one form or another
of Windows since Windows
version one and I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that
question. Then again, can a business owner know the
answer, or the road warrior, or any of the above users
know if this book will work for all the other users? The
answer is probably yes. This is one book that most users
should have. It appears to be a good primary book for
Windows Vista. It may not give the deep level answers but
it does provide a good overall view of Window Vista.
First, it gives excellent overview of Windows
Vista. The first 300 pages is the manual you didn’t
get with your Windows Vista machine. Because it
goes into the basics, it’s a book that even the lay user
should have. Yes, you may not need to know how to
write Windows Scripts but you will need to know how
to recover from problems and you should know how to
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 14
set up and maintain a small network no matter your
lever of knowledge.
All users need to understand the language used by
the specialists in order to communicate with them and
they with you. Most problems you encounter will
probably involve being able to tell the specialist what
is wrong in a way that will help them fix the problem.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had to talk to
someone with a Windows problem who had no idea
what I’m asking. Because Windows Vista Unleashed
covers all levels of the OS, it will enable the everyday
user to understand the language of the specialist. If
you don’t know what the specialist is asking you
should be able to get the definition from this book.
This reviewer uses a laptop for everything and there is
some useful information for laptop users that you don’t find
in most books. I thought I knew everything I needed to
know about power management but I was wrong. I, for
one, didn’t know you could configure the power buttons.
Very useful. I actually played with the power options as I
was reading the book. In the Control Panel, there is one
entire section for the Mobile PC Control Panel. If you have
tried to use the tools in Windows Vista, like I have, then
here is a book for you.
One feature of the book that I really did like was how it
treated a subject as if you needed to know how to use it.
It gives step-by-step instructions. I usually would get more
confused than I was BEFORE I started reading a subject
in other books but not Windows Vista Unleashed. Going to
the chapter on networking, Windows Vista Unleashed
gives step-by-step instructions on using the network tools
in Windows Vista. I would have liked to test this method
with the chapter on networking but I did see its usefulness
when reading the chapter on the Mobile PC Control Panel.
I do recommend this book for any user of Windows
Vista. You may be a Home Premium user and have no use
for knowing about other versions of Vista. All versions of
Windows Vista have more in common that their names
imply. Forget you’re a Home Premium user and just
remember you are a Windows Vista user. Even though this
reviewer uses the Home Basic (I did say I was cheap.)
Windows Vista Unleashed is still an excellent reference
and HELP manual.
One idea I have tried to put forward was that a business
or IT center should select one book that ALL users should
have and use that book as a support tool. Windows Vista
Unleashed qualifies as one possible selection. I do
recommend IT centers purchase the book and try it out on
their lay users.
Microsoft Window Vista Unleashed, Second edit ion, by
Paul McFedries . Published by SAMS, 800 East 96th
Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46240.
List Price: $49.99. To order from the publisher :
http://www.informit.com/store/
product.aspx?isbn=067233013X.
Buy A Compact Video Recorder
Compact video recorders are designed for capturing
spontaneous moments whenever and wherever they
occur. These devices all feature a small camcorder
design, generally weigh less than 6 ounces, and can fit
as comfortably in your pocket as in your hand. When
shopping, favor models that let you film and operate the
device with a single hand. Also consider how easy it is
to take the device with you wherever you go.
Another feature to focus on is the built-in or expandable
storage. Compact video recorders generally rely on
flash memory, the same kind found in thumb drives; it’s
very reliable, solid state (no moving parts), and unlikely
to be damaged if dropped. The amount of memory, such
as 2, 4, or 8GB, in the device determines how much
video you can record, so get a model with as much
memory as you can afford. Expandable memory slots,
for extra memory cards such as SD (Secure Digital)
cards, are a nice feature to have, especially for devices
lacking plentiful integrated storage.
Lights, Camcorder, Action
If you’re an extreme sports nut or other adrenaline
junkie, you may have wanted to set up a camcorder to
film a hands-free, point-of-view, thrill-ride perspective.
The problem? Regular camcorders can be too big and
heavy to cooperate. Fortunately, new ultra-light models
can easily go where traditional models may have trouble—
say, onto a helmet, a skateboard, or a pair of handlebars.
All you need is an action mount. Some pocket-sized
camcorders include a mount as standard equipment;
with others, it’s optional.
Video To Take With You
Your MP3 player might hold all of your favorite music,
but what if you want to watch video or access the
Internet, too? Some models can do just that, letting you
watch episodes of a TV show while you’re stuck at the
airport during a long layover. Another option for portable
video that is great for travel is a portable DVD player. This
will plug into your car’s overhead video monitors (if you
have them installed) and can also be taken with you into
hotel rooms when you stop at night.
Camera Shopping? Consider Battery
Some cameras use proprietary batteries (most commonly
Li-Ion battery packs), which tend to last longer between
charges than AA batteries. On the other hand, buying
replacement batteries is trickier. Although you can find
replacement proprietary batteries at your local electronics
store, if you’re sightseeing at a national park, you may
not find a spare battery. Standard AA batteries generally
require replacement more often than proprietary batteries,
but it’s easier to find AA replacements in a pinch.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 15
“Mr Watson Come Here, I Want To See You”
Written by Lou Torraca, President, The TUG, MOAA User Group, Hawaii, http://
the_tug.homestead.com, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
“Mr Watson — Come here —I want to see
you” If only Alexander Graham Bell had
known about APPS!
I surrender! I have for a very long time
been ignoring the smart phone craze.
Mostly because I just can’t see myself
doing everything, and I mean everything
on a phone! But I have to admit, the
proliferation of “apps” via a bazillion
storefronts on the web, has me fascinated,
from a business point of view that is, so I
have spent a considerable amount of time researching
what I call the “app phenom” and consequently, I have at
least as many pages of stuff on the topic as there are app
storefronts…I think! So, I confessed this to a colleague
and he immediately said:” so do a column on it already.”
After a bit of soul-searching, I decided what the heck, why
not and I began to organize the plethora of info I have
accumulated. Early on it became obvious I had not been
very discriminating in what or how I filed away app stuff
and I was about to pick another topic, when my friend,
Andy Marken came along with the solution to my problem,
so sit back and read a most insightful dissertation on the
subject of “apps”
Open for Business – Apple wasn’t the
first to build a Smartphone or the first to
offer apps. They were just the first to
make them real, real fun/interesting. Offer
the right merchandise, the right mood and
most people will take the bait. Source –
Screen Gems
Guess when you have $56 billion and
change in the vault in today’s economic environment you
must be doing something right. Just wish our kids would quit
contributing to the stash Apple is using to buy GPU (graphics
processor unit) technology and game designer talent.
A few years ago Apple decided all Smartphones sucked
(they’re not too hot on netbooks either).
So they announced the step up from
the iPod (they didn’t like those other
MP3 players!)…the iPhone.
01_Make a Call Too – When Apple
introduced the iPhone it was more
than a Smartphone. Actually it was
everything else first and then a
phone. Good move because the
company set its solution way apart
from everyone else and the rest of
the market scrambled to catch
up…still are. Source — Apple
Changing the Game
Then they did something really dumb … gave AT&T a
two-year exclusive on the phone.
They decided ecommerce was no longer cool and that
iCommerce is so much better.
Goes well with:
• iStore
• iTunes
• iPhone
• iApps
• iPod
• iMovies
Instead of keeping a closed ecosystem as they did with the
Mac, they encouraged others to make products they would
sell in their store.
Sure it’s Apple which means:
• works on their devices (iPhone and iPod Touch),
their way
• works in their closed environment
• sold only in their store
It also means:
• you use their SDK (software development kit) but
heck it only costs $99
• they determine which apps fly and which don’t
make the cut (sure fire rejection is something that
competes with their stuff!)
• you agree to the 70/30 split (70% for you, 30% for
them – seems retail fair)
02_Developers’ Dream – The new
Apple developers kit makes it fast,
easy for people to produce
applications they can make available to
iPhone/iPod Touch customers (once
Apple gives its stamp of approval).
Source - Apple
Cripes it seems to works!
Mega Store
The iPhone apps store looks like a Wal-Mart mega store.
The store has been open less than a year, product is
stacked to the rafters and people are mobbing the aisles.
They’ve got 30,000 (give or take a few thousand) apps
to choose from.
Some free…some $1-$5…some $20-$30…some heftier
ones for businesses.
In less than a year they recorded some kid
making the billionth download.
03-Number 1 Billion – Some kid really
racked up the loot after being the one who
grabbed the one billionth download from
the iTune apps store. Lucky stiff – 10 grand
in booty without even trying. The store has
been open less than a year and has
averaged 3.5 million app downloads a day
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 16
But for carriers it’s all about selling more connection
time, more bandwidth.
Their bucks come from:
• your data communications over their pipes
• making sure you stream music, TV, video to your
third screen.
• connecting you with other gamers, friends.
The carrier sells you airtime
for days, weeks, months,
years on end.
Someone needs to ask the
carriers almost the same
question Beth asked Derek,
“She was naked in your hotel room?”
Then quickly add what Derek told Sharon, “You need
help.”
It’s the money play folks!
Our kids are like the millions of other iPhone, iPod Touch
users around the globe.
They love muddling through the Apple iTunes app store
…just to see what’s new, what’s hot, what’s fun, what’s
available.
Apple Apps – 30,000 iPhone/iPod
Touch apps and counting. Serious
developers, kids in class, techs in
their spare time (or at work) are all
busy developing business,
personal entertainment, game,
audio/video applications they hope
will rack up big sales on the iTunes
site and profits for them. Move
them to other platforms and even more money if they
look as good on the other devices. Source — Apple
Too bad there aren’t any aisle (category) signs or sampling
stations along the way.
Since there isn’t, they see something they think they’ll
like and BAM !!! easily download from iTunes (we get
billed).
Then they suck up more minutes from AT&T!
Sure Google, MS, Nokia and
Blackberry are adding apps as fast
as they can but it’s just way too easy
for folks to buy from iTunes.
Our son – who has an “I can make
it better” mind – was thinking about
some apps that he knows people are
eagerly waiting to buy.
He coughed up the $99 for Apple’s
SDK.
Next Round
He got real excited when Apple announced the iPhone OS
3.0 SDK…100 new visual features, 1,000 new APIs
(Application Programmer Interface), the thinly veiled
promise of doing stuff that would run beautifully on three
screens – TV, computer, iPhone.
Next Generation – One thing
you have to admit is that
Apple makes a big deal out of
every announcement and the
unveiling of the iPhone OS 3.0
software and new SDK was no
exception. The event said a lot
about the company’s three
screen plan without saying a
lot and opened new doors for
more powerful, more
graphically intensive iPhone
games and applications.
Source - Apple
That got his mind racing.
All we saw with the new developer’s kit was that Apple
had raised the bar again with their closed environment.
That means:
• people will develop more, richer, more intensive,
more intrusive apps for Apple to sell so they dig their
hooks even deeper into those poor Kool-Aid drinking
folks
• more people will get excited about buying/using/
playing with the iPhone and Apple might – just might
– become the #1 Smartphone producer (something
they totally ****ed up with the all-inclusive Mac)
• AT&T will sell more 2-year contracts, more on-air
minutes
Sure Apple may do an iPhone Lite
for Verizon (huge whisper campaign
going on) but who wants lite when
you can have a real iPhone?
And an overly stuffed/easy to use
iTunes store.
Lite just doesn’t seem to have the
panache!
Suddenly a Smartphone is so much
more than an e-wallet (iWallet).
Really smart kids, doodling
program developers and idea folks see their road to riches!
First they’ll supplement their income making fun, neat,
useful, relaxing, whatever apps.
Then they’ll rent Steve’s grounded jet.
The mobile apps market may reach $214 billion by 2014
but it’s a market made up of tens of thousands of inexpensive
apps developed by thousands of people.
Herding Cats
It doesn’t have the formula to appeal to VCs.
It’s tough for them to sell these “businesses” to the public
or some other company so they can rack up a huge return.
It’s too much like herding cats.
But that’s ok.
Can’t wait for the kid to release his iPhone apps and
starts collecting the dimes and quarters.
Mr. Watson again cont. on Page 18
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 17
Mr. Watson again cont. from Page 17
Then he plans to modify them for
Android, Windows Mobile…maybe
even BlackBerry.
Think Man, Think – Apple’s
enclosed ecosystem has executives
at other OS and hardware firms
scheming on how they can outdo the
fruit company and have the same
unfair advantage with carriers and
consumers. Individuals with serious and funky
application ideas see the locked system as a great
opportunity to earn fame and fortune. Source – Screen
Gems
If we’re lucky he may be able to replenish our
devastated 401K.
Apple may have gotten it right this time.
Key question is how quickly, how comprehensively, how
successfully will the other players – Google, MS, RIM,
Nokia/Symbian — get their acts together.
So, the key question for me is, will I now take the leap to
the app world and get a smart phone?
Stay tuned and I will let you know what I decide, and
remember to have fun with all the new goodies, especially
if you already are a smart-phone person. I’d be interested
in what you think. Be sure to give me a call!
Aloha, Lou
Is It Time To Switch To 64 Bit Windows?
Written by Brian K. Lewis, PhD, a Member of the Sarasota PCUG, Florida,
www.spcug.org, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s next step was to the 16 bit processor with the 80286 processor
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
in 1984. The software changes rapidly followed this advance.
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
The change to 16 bit processing allowed the central processor
In my February 2008 article in the Monitor comparing 32 bit and the data bus to transfer data in increasingly larger sizes,
and 64 bit computing, I was still advising caution for those referred to as double words. The 32 bit processor arrived in
wishing to upgrade. Today every new computer is capable of 1989 followed by the 64 bit in 2005. As this history shows, the
running a 64 bit operating system. As a result there are many 64 bit computer is just one more generational step in processing
voices saying if you have the capability to run a 64 bit operating power. In addition, a computer “word” is now considered to
system, you should take advantage of it. Microsoft had be 16 bits, not 8 bits. So a 64 bit processor can handle a
previously indicated that Windows 7 would be available only quadruple word (4x16). Naturally, the increase in the width of
in a 64 bit version. However, they now say both 32 & 64 bit the CPU/data path does increase processing speed.
versions will be sold. There some speculation in the computer
Every time the hardware has changed, there has been a
industry that Windows 8 may only be 64 bit. So it appears to
delay
while the software manufacturers play catchup.
be time to reconsider the move to a 64 bit operating system
Applications
have to be rewritten to take advantage of the
(OS). There are many advantages for 64 bit over 32 bit, but
hardware
changes
including the new instructions in the CPU
in order to better understand them, we need to take a brief look
instruction
set.
Only
then can the application take advantage
at how these will affect your decision.
of the added processing power. Although Windows has been
To start with we should recall a little history. In the early available in a 64 bit form since XP was released, it adoption
days of personal computing the processors instruction sets has been quite slow. Many software manufacturers did not
were designed for 8 bit “words”. This was the data size that make 64 bit versions of their applications. This coupled with
could be used to express a single character. A bit is either a “1” the limited acceptance of Vista has markedly slowed the shift
or a “0”. Eight bits were then referred to as a “byte” and that from 32 bit to 64 bit. Another factor in this process is the
was considered a computer “word”. In those days the CPUs development of 64 bit drivers for peripherals such as printers,
we had were the Intel 8080, the Zilog Z80, Motorola 6800, and scanners, graphics cards, wireless modems, network cards,
the MOS Tech 6502. These were all 8 bit processors with 8 etc. Microsoft has also indicated that Windows 7 will not
bit data paths. The Apple I/II/IIe and Commodore Pet all used install 64 bit drivers unless the software is “Microsoft Certified”.
the 6502. IBM designed the first x86 CPU which was called Some manufacturers have obtained certification for some of
the 8086 and it was a 16 bit processor. However, when IBM their 64 bit drivers. For example, my Brother multi-function
produced their first personal computer in 1981 it used their machine has a certified driver for 64 bit Windows. If
8088 processor which was an 8 bit version of the 8086. The you don’t have a 64 bit certified driver, your peripheral
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 18
will not work under Windows 7. Neither Vista64 nor Win7-64
will accept 32 bit drivers. Something to check out before you
pop for a 64 bit OS. However, if you are buying an upgrade
version of Windows 7, several of them are supposed to come
with both the 64 bit and 32 bit versions in the box, but not in the
OEM versions. This specifically applies to the Home Premium,
Professional and Ultimate versions (as of this writing and may
be subject to change by Microsoft.).
Another advantage of a 64 bit processor is in its memory
management. By now I would hope that everyone understands
that the 32 bit generation of computers can address a
maximum of 4 gigabytes of RAM. This is the maximum
number of addresses that can be handled and is calculated
from 2^32 or two to the thirty-second power. This includes
addresses needed by the system as well as the data. A 64 bit
processor can address 2^64 addresses or roughly ten billion
more than the 32 bit processor. The catch here is that both the
hardware manufacturers and Microsoft have imposed
limitations on the addressable memory. Generally, new personal
computer’s are limited to 128 GB of memory or less. Some
manufacturers configure their laptops for a maximum of 4 GB
of RAM. Windows OS software is also highly variable in its
limits. Some versions of Vista limit addressing to as little as 8
GB (Home Basic & Premium). It is expected that these limits
will be raised in Windows 7. For the present, these levels
should be more than adequate for most people. If not keep in
mind that it is the Ultimate versions of Vista and Windows 7
that have the maximum addressing ability.
The next thing to consider is the software compatibility. Just
because you have a new operating system, no one really wants
to have to upgrade all their software from 32 bit to 64 bit. For
that reason both Intel CPU’s and AMD CPU’s are not true
native 64 bit processors. They are, in fact, hybrids. By this I
mean that they allow 32 bit code to run in an emulation mode.
Consequently, 64 bitWindows has an emulation mode,Windows
on Windows, which allows 32 bit software to be run. WOW
intercepts system calls to the operating system made by a 32bit application and switches the CPU to 32 bit mode. It can
switch the CPU between 32 bit and 64 bit as needed. This also
allows the 64 bit AMD/Intel CPU’s to run a 32 bit OS. The only
true 64 bit, non-hybrid operating systems for PC’s are found in
Intel’s Itanium processor (IA64) and the various 64 bit versions
of Linux. Systems using these CPUs will give you all the
benefits of 64 bit computing, but require all 64 bit software.
Windows WOW64 also allows for some 32 bit software to run
on the IA64 CPU by converting 32 bit calls to 64 bit.
Windows XP, Vista and Win7 contain large numbers of dll
files. These are system libraries, many of which are loaded
into memory when the computer is booted. In the 64 bit OS,
these libraries can not be used by 32 bit software so instead,
there are duplicate libraries written in 32 bit code included in
Windows. Microsoft has devised a system so that these
libraries can co-exist on the hard drive and in RAM without
overwriting the files or accessing the wrong file so that 32 bit
code can be run under the 64 bit OS. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Yes, it does work, but with some caveats.Adding an emulation
layer does slow the overall processing of software instructions.
Also, there is an increase in the amount of memory (virtual
memory included) needed for the additional 32 bit libraries that
are loaded along with the 64 bit dlls at boot time.
There are other problems, but to a somewhat lesser extent
as it affects fewer software applications. Some 32 bit
applications still use 16 bit loaders. Since Windows 64 does not
support ANY 16 bit code, these applications will not run, unless
Windows can transparently substitute an installer with 32 bit
code. Hopefully, all 32 bit software will eventually have 32 bit
loaders or be replaced with 64 bit code. Additionally, some 32
bit software requires the use of 32 bit drivers. These drivers
will not run on any 64 bit Windows platform. So until the
drivers are available in a 64 bit form, these applications can’t
be used with Windows 64.
Another consideration is that any utility software that works
at the hardware level must be 64 bit. This generally includes
anti-virus software and other anti-malware products. Those
few manufacturers I have checked do have 64 bit versions of
their applications available. This includes some which provide
free utility applications. This is just one more item that should
be checked before you decide to move to a 64 bit OS.
If you decide you want to upgrade to the 64 bit version of
Windows 7 when it is available, then you have several more
things to consider. No matter which 32 bit Windows version
you are currently using, you will have to do a “clean” install of
the 64 bit version. That means backing up your data to an
external medium and formatting your hard drive or at least a
part of it (one partition). You can install Windows 7 in a new
partition and dual boot with it and your current Windows
version. Or you can install the new version in the space
reclaimed from your old version. Either way you will have to
reinstall software and drivers. Then you can restore your
data. Only if you upgrade to the Windows 7 32 bit version from
Vista can you do an “in-place” upgrade. If you are still running
XP you have no choice but to do a clean install to convert to
the 64 bit version. Of course, if you buy a new computer with
the 64 bit Windows 7 installed that reduces your problem to
just installing applications and data from your old computer.
I have already pre-ordered a 64 bit version of Windows 7.
So, you see, I have answered the question I posed in the title
of this article. When it arrives, in October, I will be installing
it, then testing drivers and applications. You probably won’t
see any of my experience until the December Monitor. In
the meantime, I have obtained a 64 bit version of the Linux
OS, Ubuntu. Over the next few months I will be installing
and testing it on my computer. So you will be seeing more
about 64 bit computing. I hope it will help you as the entire
industry continues to move into a fully 64 bit era. Just think,
the next move, in a few years, will probably be to 128 bit
computing!
Dr. Lewis is a former university and medical school professor of
physiology. He has been working with personal computers for over
thirty years, developing software and assembling systems.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 19
Google Chrome 3 – Ready for Prime
Time!
WEBSITES:
http://www.google.com/chrome
http://www.google.com/chrome/
intl/en/features.html
https://tools.google.com/
chrome/intl/en/themes
Longtime readers of this column
may remember that I wrote
about Google’s Chrome browser
when it first came out. I found
that Chrome version 1 was
unstable, and incapable of loading
many of the websites that I routinely visited. About a year
ago, with high hopes, I tested the then new release of
Google Chrome version 2, and found many of the same
bugs and incompatibilities that I found in version 1; my title
of that column said that Chrome 2 was “Not Yet Ready for
Prime Time.” I am now happy to report to you, my faithful
readers, that the newly released Chrome version 3 is
indeed “ready for prime time.”
Google Chrome is a free download from Google at
www.google.com/chrome, and runs on XP and
Vista, both 32 and 64 bit systems. The Google setup is a
small 557kb executable
file that downloaded
quickly, and installed
smoothly with no
problems or conflicts on
m y Vi s t a H o m e
Premium 64 system.
During the very
quick install, Chrome
identified that Firefox
was my default
browser, and asked if I
would like to import my bookmarks (favorites) and other
information from Firefox. A pull down menu was offered
which would have also allowed import of items from
Internet Explorer as well. Not surprisingly, Chrome had
setup as a default home (startup) page Google.com, which
I chose to change to my existing personal startup page (My
Yahoo). Other than the trivial
question about whether I
wanted a desktop and quickstart icon for Chrome, the
new browser installed in
seconds.
By Ira Wilsker
Since I was skeptical about
Chrome, based on my past
problems with the earlier
versions, I proceeded to
immediately visit those websites
that I was unable to load in
versions 1 and 2. To my pleasant surprise, all of the sites
that failed to load in the earlier versions of Chrome not just
loaded flawlessly, but also opened very quickly.
My first impression of
Chrome was that it
loaded far faster than
Internet Explorer or
Firefox on my computer,
and that it has a very
clean look to the browser,
in that is it not cluttered
by a lot of infrequently
used icons and toolbars,
as well as other items
that take up the precious
real estate on the desktop. When I entered the URLs of my
frequently visited websites, Chrome already had them filled
ahead of my typing them, evidence that Chrome successfully
imported them from Firefox. Since this was a clean install of
Chrome, such that there could not be any online cache to load,
I was amazed as to how quickly web pages loaded. While it
was not a scientific experiment, and the evidence would only
be anecdotal, I opened Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), Firefox 3.53,
and Chrome 3 in adjacent windows. Without the need for a
stopwatch, it was glaringly obvious that Chrome loaded the
same web pages much faster
than IE8 did, and somewhat
faster than Firefox. Of these
three browsers, all the latest
builds running on a quad-core
machine, Chrome was clearly
the speed demon of the three.
Chalk up a performance
win for Chrome.
While I appreciated the clean appearance of Chrome
when it opened, there are undoubtedly many who would
like to change the appearance of Chrome to modify it to
meet personal preferences. As I type this, Google has 29
themes available for Chrome at tools.google.com/
chrome/intl/en/themes. The available themes
range from “Minimal” that has an almost blank window
with only minimal coloring, to several that are complex and
brightly colored.
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 20
While Chrome is
written in tight code,
and loads very quickly,
it is still very feature
rich. It is amazingly
intuitive and easy to use.
One of my favorite
features is clicking on a
“+” in the tabs on the
top of the page to open
another browser window, and being greeted with interactive
thumbnails of both open and recently closed websites;
clicking on one would open that page in an instant. Chrome
remembers the most frequently viewed pages, and displays
thumbnails of those when a “New Tab” is selected. This
makes it very easy to
select a page, or the user
can always type an
address in the address bar
or click on a bookmark.
Another useful feature is
the ability to search
directly from the address
bar. By simply typing a
search term in the address
space, the default search
engine will be queried, and
the results displayed.
While Google was
obviously the initial default
search engine, it was a
simple process to change
the default to my personal
favorite, AllTheWeb. To test the search function from the
address bar, I typed my name in the space where I would
normally type a web address (URL), hit enter, and the
AllTheWeb page instantly opened with the web pages with
my name. It was also actually fun to drag and drop tabs,
watching the contents being moved around the browser
page; this way open tabs can be organized to satisfy the
whims of the user. Tabs can also be dragged and dropped
on the Windows desktop, where they appear as a complete
new window, and can be dragged back to the original
browser where the tab will be integrated back with the
other tabs. Each tab is independent, and a problem or crash
in one tab will not likely crash the entire browser and other
open tabs.
Many would wonder why
Google would create and
promote Chrome as another
free browser in the now
crowded field of browsers. The
developers of Chrome identified
needs and problems with the
existing browsers, and addressed those issues on the web
page “A fresh take on the browser” (www.google.com/
chrome/intl/en/why.html). “Under the hood,
we were able to build the foundation of a browser that runs
today’s complex web applications much better. By keeping
each tab in an isolated “sandbox”, we were able to prevent
one tab from crashing another and provide improved
protection from rogue sites. We improved speed and
responsiveness across the board. We also built V8, a more
powerful JavaScript engine, to power the next generation
of web applications that aren’t even possible in today’s
browsers.” By design, Chrome is intended to be more
secure than its competitors, more stable with the “sandbox”
concept, and faster. While I have not significantly tested
the security capabilities of Chrome, and I am fully cognizant
that security is a continuing effort, my initial impression is
that Chrome is reasonably secure, although Google has
recently released some
security and features
patches to harden
the browser. As stated
above, the Chrome
developers were very
successful in creating a
very fast browser.
Chrome is an open
source product, meaning
that anyone can get
the code and write
applications for it.
In writing Chrome,
the developers
acknowledged that they
used open source code
from other sources, including code and components from
Firefox and Apple’s WebKit.
Google has done an excellent job with Chrome 3, and in
its first few days of release has captured a small but rapidly
growing share of the browser market. As more users
download and install Chrome and find that it does indeed
offer substantial performance and safety improvements
over Internet Explorer. Other than not being compatible
with some of my favorite Firefox add-ons, I found Chrome
to be a most capable browser. Since Chrome is open
source, I can foresee comparable add-ons being developed
for Chrome just as they had been for Firefox.
I can now give Chrome my highest recommendation,
and suggest that Windows users download Chrome and
give it a try. It is perfectly OK to have multiple browsers
installed on a computer, and select which one to run at any
time. Since Chrome will import favorites, bookmarks, and
other information from IE and Firefox, it would be fully
ready to use after being installed. Download Chrome from
Google (www.google.com/chrome) and try it. Since
it is free, you really have nothing to lose, and will likely gain
dramatically improved browsing performance, security,
and satisfaction. After all, is that not why we surf the
internet anyway?
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 21
Making Windows More Legible
Written by Gary Bentley, Editor, Throughput, Southwest International Personal Computer
Club, El Paso, TX, www.swipcc.org, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Have you noticed that each time you purchase a new
computer with a higher resolution screen you find everything
on the screen looks smaller than it did on the lower
resolution monitor screen (if the diagonal size of your
monitor was increased you might offset this phenomenon
somewhat, but still be surprised that things looked about
the same size in that case)?
This is because the Windows
operating system assumes that
the actual number of pixels per
actual inch lighting up on your
monitor screen is 96, i.e., 96
DPI (“dots” per physical inch)
is assumed by the operating
system.
Why would this assumption
make things (icons, pictures,
text, etc.) look smaller on a
monitor that had higher native
resolution (native resolution
meaning the actual number
of pixels lighting up per
actual physical inch on your
screen)?
Let us look at a real-world example. My Dell
Latitude D620 has a 14 inch diagonal LCD screen
with 1440 (horizontal) by 900 (vertical) pixels (native
resolution, i.e., actual LCD pixels). How many DPI, i.e.,
pixels per inch is my screen? Well, recalling the Scarecrow’s
recitation in the Wizard Of Oz when he received his “brain
diploma” (or what he should have said, since he actually
misstated the Pythagorean theorem—we can only assume
that the Wizard did not want to damage Scarecrow’s selfesteem by correcting him), we know that the 14 inch
diagonal on my screen is the hypotenuse of a right triangle,
the sides of which are 1440 and 900 pixels. So we can take
the square root of the sum of the squares of those two sides
and that will give us the number of pixels along the 14 inch
diagonal. The square root of 1440 squared plus 900
squared is, using Wolfram|Alpha (h t t p : / /
www.wolframalpha.com/examples/
Math.html, use the basic arithmetic box there), 1698.
Note that Wolfram uses standard means of entering
mathematical operators. You might have to look those up
and make adjustments, e.g., I asked for the square root by
telling Wolfram to take the parenthetical operations to the
0.5 power since I knew how to enter the exponentiation
operator (“^”), but not a square root sign (a radical sign).
So we have 1698 pixels along my 14 inch screen
diagonal, or 1698 pixels/14 inches = 121 pixels per inch
(121 DPI). How wide is one pixel? 1 inch/121 pixels =
0.008264 inch per pixel. Why would this make things
smaller on my Windows desktop? Well, Windows assumes
96 pixels make an inch, so an inch on my screen is now 96
x 0.008264 or 0.79 inch. So everything on my Windows
desktop is only 80% of the size it would be if there were
actually 96 pixels per inch on my
screen. I can verify that my
calculations are correct by setting
Microsoft Word to display an 8.5 x
11 inch standard document at 100%
size. When I measure the width of
that document on my screen I
obtain 6 13/16 inches or 6.8125
inches. 6.8125/8.5 = 0.80, i.e., the
8.5 inch wide document is displayed
at 80% of its actual size as we
calculated would occur.
This means that text fonts are
80% of their intended size on my
screen also. Fonts are defined in
terms of points. A point is
defined as 1/72 inch, i.e., 72
points per inch. Window
assumes there are 96 pixels per inch, so a Windows logical
point is 96/72 = 1.333 device independent pixels. A 10 point
font should be around 10 x 1.333 pixels or 13 pixels vertical
(leaving aside details of leading, etc.). That would be 13/
96 = 0.13 inches high roughly on a 96 DPI monitor. On my
121 DPI monitor that 10 point font would only be 13/121 =
0.10 inch high approximately, again about 80% smaller.
A Microsoft study indicates about 55% of people reduce
the resolution of their monitors (configure Windows screen
resolution in Display Properties for a lower value),
presumably to make the text and other items on their
computer screen larger. For example, if I changed my
laptop screen resolution to 800 x 600 there would be fewer
Windows pixels to cover the same area, so the “pixels”
would be larger, making everything constructed with those
fat pixels larger too. Fat pixels make fuzzy or pixilated
images, though they are larger images. This is rather like
purchasing a $474 Canon EOS Rebel with 10 Megapixel
resolution and then setting it to take 640 x 480 photos
(when you have paid for a camera that can take 3648 x
2736 pixel photos roughly).
A better way to increase the size of text and other items
on your screen is to use Windows DPI scaling. You can tell
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 22
the operating system that you want an inch on your screen
to be made up of more than 96 dots/pixels (if you don’t
have a monitor with more than 96 actual dots per inch this
would not work as well, since the operating system would
have to “fake” the additional pixel density using
mathematical algorithms). In Windows XP you can right
click on the Desktop, select Properties, then Settings, then
Advanced, then DPI setting. Choose more dots per inch,
say 120 DPI. Go higher if needed. Evaluate the effect in
normal use of your system.
In Windows Vista, Open Personalization by clicking the
Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance
and Personalization, and then clicking Personalization. In
the left pane, click Adjust font size (DPI). If you are
prompted for an administrator password or confirmation,
type the password or provide confirmation. In the DPI
Scaling dialog box, increase the size of text and other items
on the screen by clicking Larger scale (120 DPI)–make
text more readable, and then click OK. You can use higher
DPI settings to obtain still larger fonts and objects.
If we chose to scale up to 120 DPI on my laptop, then an
inch would be 120 dots/pixels and a Windows inch on my
screen would indeed be an inch, restoring the size of items
on my screen to that of a typical 96 DPI monitor. I should
note that Internet Explorer 7 and 8 both have a zoom
feature which will enlarge text and other items on a web
page. This is a separate issue in some respects.
How big would that 10 point font be if you used a 64.5
inch diagonal HDTV with 1920 x 1080 native resolution
with PC VGA input for your computer monitor? Calculate
screen DPI: 34 DPI (calculate the number of pixels in the
64.5 inch diagonal for 1920 x 1080 pixel right triangle as we
did above; divide that number of pixels by 64.5 inches).
Simply looking at the ratio, the HDTV pixels would be 96/
34 or 2.82 times larger than a 96 DPI monitor. So, a 10 point
font might be around 0.13 inch x 2.82 = 0.36 inches high —
over a third of an inch. And if you scaled up your Windows
DPI setting to 200 DPI, you might get that 10 point font up
to 0.8 inches high (over three quarters of an inch high) on
that 64.5 inch $4,000 dollar HDTV computer monitor.
I have barely scratched the surface on this topic,
but I hope I have said enough to give you some ideas
about making things more visible on your computer
screen without throwing away the high resolution
of your monitor.
Bio: Mr. Bentley studied electrical engineering at the University
of Texas, began working in the electronics industry in 1978 with
GTE Network Systems (Lenkurt), then software engineering with
various startups in the 1980’s, designing and implementing, among
other things, pre-Internet email communications systems
multitasking on Intel platforms and MSDOS PC’s 1984 - 1986.
Gary now provides Information Technology consulting services in
the El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico areas. Gary has
edited and contributed articles to the award-winning Southwest
International Personal Computer Club monthly magazine,
“Throughput”, since December, 2003.
Fine-tune Color
There’s more to brilliant, sharp pictures than screen
resolution; color reproduction and calibration make a
big difference, too. When you’re browsing HDTVs at
a retailer, be sure the colors are consistently true to life.
Blacks shouldn’t appear gray, bright areas shouldn’t
wash detail away, and high-paced action scenes
shouldn’t have jagged edges. Calibration is another
important factor to keep in mind; this will ensure your
HDTV’s settings will be far better than the showroom
settings many televisions ship with. Most retailers
offer professional calibration (such as Best Buy’s
Magnolia Home Theater Optimization package) that
uses special equipment otherwise unavailable to
consumers; in most cases, such calibration is your best
bet. However, there are calibration DVDs that can
walk you through the process yourself.
Fine-Tune White Balance
The human eye interprets an object’s coloration the
same way in a variety of lighting conditions; a
camera doesn’t. Accurate white balance, a camera’s
feature that corrects how colors appear in different
lighting conditions, will ensure that faces and plants
look natural in both the evening sun and under a
halogen bulb. Almost any digital camera will let you
toggle tungsten (indoors) and daylight white balance;
better cameras will give you a wider range of
options tailored to specific situations. In many cases,
the white balance is part of a special shooting mode
such as Fireworks, Beach, or Landscape.
What is Aperture Priority mode?
Aperture Priority mode, which is often abbreviated as
Av, lets you choose how much light is allowed into your
camera’s lens while the camera matches with
an appropriate shutter speed. This setting will set apart
a subject from its background and is often used
for portrait shots.
Digital Camera Tip
If you're in the market for a new camera, get handson time with it. Check the LCD to see how
it performs in bright and low light and whether
the menu's text and icons are easy to see and
understand. If you take pictures outside, where even
the best LCD is difficult to see, look for a camera with
an optical viewfinder so you can bypass the LCD.
Make sure the camera is comfortable to hold, carry,
and operate. Can you reach all of the buttons and dials?
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, February 2010, Page 23
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