COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue

COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
Volume 27, No. 9
Sept 2010
The Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group will meet
Wednesday, September 15th,
7:00-9:00 P.M.
Inside This Issue
NVPCUG Special Interest Groups
NVPCUG Calendar
President’s Message
Officers List
Windows Explorer
Charge Anywhere
Make Firefox Even Better
Mobile Computing
Stickies: Another Useful Utility
Will our computing experience be
shaped by Microsoft competitors?
10 The Slickdeals Approach to Cable
Company Negotiations
12 Outside the Lines
16 Beyond Digital Photography:
Transforming Photos into Fine Art with
Photoshop and Painter
18 Sights and Sounds of Multimedia
20 Finding Help In Windows & Windows
22 Shopping Sites
20 Membership
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users
Group has served novice and experienced
computer users since 1983. Through its
monthly meetings, newsletters, online forum,
special interest groups, mentor program and
community involvement, it has helped
educate people of all ages. The NVPCUG
provides opportunities for people to find
friends who share common interests and
experiences. From January 2003 to October
2007 the NVPCUG provided 783 computers
and 140 printers to local schools. Additional
equipment has been given to charitable
nonprofit organizations and to
disadvantaged individuals.
At the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California
will be the main presentation
After meeting information by the President we will have
our Random Access, an open-floor question-andanswer 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 Jeff Solomon will be will be giving us
information about a disk partitioning program. A disk
partition is a part of your computer’s hard drive that has
been virtually split off from the main hard drive and acts
as a separate drive. Computer Tutor Jeff Solomon will discuss reasons
for wanting to make a partition and talk about various software
programs used to create and remove a disk partition. He will demonstrate
how create a partition using a free software program - EASEUS
Partition Manager
resource/. If you have a suggestion on which feature he should
discuss, please contact Jeff Solomon at [email protected]
Due to a last minute cancelation, Debbie Jones from
Anything is Possible will rescheduled for sometime in
the future. Instead we will have a presentation of GIMP,
the open-source GNU Image Manipulation Program
that is similar to Adobe Photoshop by Susy Ball. Other
free photo editing programs will also be mentioned. To
find out more about GIMP for yourself go to h t t p : / / See ya at the Senior Center.
Could you use some practical information thSusyou 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 20 for
application information.
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010
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,, or contact
the SIG leaders.
Inv e stors 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
Digital Photography SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Wednesday
7:00 to 8:30 p.m
Piner’s Nursing Home,
Conference Room
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Leader: Susy Ball
(707) 337-3998
[email protected]
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
President’s Message
By Ron Dack, NVPCUG President,,
[email protected]
September 2010
How time flies. It is hard to believe this is already September. That
means that our member’s picnic is behind us. Ah! What a picnic
it was. Other than the chef overcooking everything (chicken and
tri-tip) the picnic was a delight. I did miss Mel Cohen and his
music but the boom box was adequate with some oldies but
goodies. Dianne Prior did an excellent job of coordinating the
activities as well as saving some food for the chef even though I’m
not sure he deserved it. Thank you Dianne and everyone who
helped setup, organize, and cleanup.
Next on the agenda is the nomination of members to serve as the
2011 Board of Directors. Any member interested in serving or
nominating someone for the board should send the information to
[email protected] Also you will be able to make nominations
at the September and October general meetings. Please contact the
person you intend to nominate prior and insure they are willing to
serve. The board will now meet quarterly instead of monthly so some
of the burden will be lifted for those that serve. The only required
meeting is the annual meeting in November so unless there are issues
to resolve the board meetings may not even be required quarterly.
With the exception of jobs like Programs, Newsletter Editor, Treasurer,
Membership, Secretary and Webmaster the group is pretty much self
sustaining thanks to those that handle things as needed.
2010 has been a year for me to depend on others to pickup the
slack and they have. Due to health issues for both Dawna and I,
it has been difficult for me to attend to my duties and attend
meetings. Fortunately 2011 requires a new President and I am sure
you will see him/her more involved than I was able to be this year.
Remember, attend general meetings and bring a guest. That is
how our group continues to exist and be able to provide information
that actually can help someone use a personal computer. If you
need a ride let us know and we see if we can arrange to get you
to the meeting and home.
Drive safely school is open, and take care,
NVPCUG Calendar
Sept 15
Oct 6
Oct 11
Oct 13
Oct 14
Oct 20
Nov 3
Nov 8
Nov 10
Nov 11
Nov 17
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, astronomy + 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
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 2
M e e ting Lo c a tions
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.
Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group Contact Information
Officers for 2010
Board of Directors
Vice President
Other Directors:
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Dick Peterson
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Ron Dack, Jim Gray, Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman,
Kathy Slavens, Dean Unruh, Marcia Waddell, and Roy Wagner.
Jim Gray
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
Greeter Coordinator
Kathy Slavens
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
Dean Unruh
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
Programs Director
Susy Ball
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
Special Projects Director
Ron Dack
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
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 Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 3
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is published
monthly by the Napa
Valley Personal
Computer Users Group,
Inc. (NVPCUG), P.O.
Box 2866, Napa, CA
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected] The
material in Computer
News is intended for
purposes and may not
be reproduced without
prior written permission,
except that permission
for reproducing articles,
with authors properly
credited, is granted to
other computer user
groups for their internal,
nonprofit use only. The
information in this
newsletter is believed to
be correct. However, the
NVPCUG can assume
neither responsibility for
errors or omissions nor
liability for any damages
resulting from the use or
misuse of any
The NVPCUG is an IRC
501(c)(3) tax-exempt
nonprofit educational
organization (EIN 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are taxdeductible as charitable
contributions to the
extent allowed by law.
Copyright © 2008 by
Windows Explorer
By Wil Wakely, President, Seniors Computer Group, California, Bits & Bytes, June 2010 Issue,, [email protected]
What a terrible name! Often confused with Internet
Explorer, this file manipulator is one of the most useful and
used programs on my computer. I often talk with people
who don’t know what this program is. They have never
used it, and I am curious as to how they can accomplish
anything with their computer without familiarity with this
powerful utility. Here’s what it does:
Windows, as with most operating systems, is based
upon a file structure where each program, picture, song or
document is stored in a named file in some memory
device, e.g., a hard drive, CD, DVD or flash drive.
Groups of similar files are stored in named folders.
Windows Explorer is a file manipulator allowing you to
find, copy, move, save, launch, and a variety of other
operations on individual and groups of files.
A quick way to launch it is to right click on the Start
button and select Explore from the sub-menu. A better
way in XP is to place an Icon for Windows Explorer on
your desktop. To do this, first locate the program: Start/
All programs/Accessories/Windows Explorer; then right
click it and in the drop-down menu select “Send to/
desktop (create shortcut)”.
I don’t like the Icon view; I prefer the Details view with
no Icons and more information. The Details view allows
you to sort the filenames by alpha ascending (A to Z) by
clicking on the Name in the gray title bar. Clicking Name
a second time will sort the file name alpha descending (Z
to A). Sorting by Size, Type (file extension), or Date
Modified is done the same way. Under Tools/Folder
Options/View tab, be sure to uncheck “Hide extensions
for known file types” and check “Show hidden files and
folders.” Then click the “Apply to all folders” button to set
all views to the same settings. Windows 7 recognized the
importance of this program and keeps it on the taskbar for
easy launch. It is a yellow file folder Icon, third from the
left Start button.
An easier application of Windows Explorer is to bring
up two copies, resized and located so you can see both
side by side. Then you can easily Move or Copy files
between the two windows using d-d (drag and drop). By
default files d-d to the same drive are Moved; files d-d to
different drives are Copied. Holding down the left mouse
button during the d-d allows you to select either option.
To add new folders or sub-folders use the menu
File|New|Folder command.
A good site to visit to learn many more features of
Windows Explorer is: http://www.toejumper.
net/speed5/winex5.htm. Familiarize yourself
with this powerful program so you can control your
computer, and not have your computer control you! „
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 4
Charge Anywhere
Reviewed by George Harding, Treasurer, Tucson Computer Society, Arizona, June 2010 Issue,
TCS eJournal,, [email protected]
About: Charge Anywhere
Vendor: iGo
Price: ±$70
The last few years have produced a remarkable quantity
of mobile devices: phones, MP3 players, cameras and so
on. Each of these needs a power source. The internal
battery can hold only so much charge and needs to be
refreshed from time to time. A secondary industry has
sprung up to meet this need for an external battery to
charge the internal one.
Of course, your device comes with a charging unit,
requiring you to plug it into a wall socket. If you have more
than one device (and who doesn’t?), you would need to
carry a charger for each. Here’s where Charge Anywhere
comes in very handy!
The Charge Anywhere unit is an external battery that
can be used to recharge just about any device that has an
internal battery. In fact, it can charge two at once!
The unit is slightly larger than a deck of cards, has a
retractable wall plug on its back side and two USB
sockets on its bottom. The front side has a button and
two LED lights.
When you plug the unit into a wall socket, both of the
lights come on. The red one indicates the internal
battery is being charged. The blue light also comes on.
When you want to charge a device, you connect it with
the USB cable and press the front side button The blue
light comes on to indicate your device is being charged
The unit comes with a cable with a USB
plug on one end and a connector at the
other. Various tips can be attached to
this connector. You’ll need the
right tip for each device you
want to charge. One free
tip comes with your
purchase of the
C h a r g e
Once the unit is charged, you can take it with you
wherever you travel. It can be used in other countries, as
well, without a voltage converter, a handy travel benefit.
If you are charging two devices at once, the power
available from Charge Anywhere is divided. In some
instances, this may not be enough to charge a device.
Either turn it off when charging or charge one at a time.
Charging power is 5 watts with a capacity of 1080
milliamps per hour. This is a handy item for travelers and
others that use several devices and need to be able to
charge them when away from a power source.
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 5
Make Firefox Even Better
By Steve Bass, Publisher and Self-appointed Chief Content Officer, TechBite,, [email protected]
I know many of you still stubbornly use Internet Explorer.
I used to, as well. But Firefox, with all its lovely add-ons
and tweaks, is just more fun to use.
Let’s start with a something you might not know about:
Firefox’s hidden visual tab switching tweak. Right now,
you can use Ctrl-Tab to cycle through Firefox’s tabs. But
if you’re using Firefox 3.6, the current revision, this tweak
will give you a visual look at the tabs, just like using Alt-Tab
in Windows.
Rearrange Firefox’s windows with
Fox Splitter.
4. Not all of Firefox’s icons are
easy to recognize; Menu Icons
Plus gives me a nicer array of choices. I’m using it
with XP, but Vista and Win7 may give you problems.
5. You know about Firefox’s built-in Find features.
Find All highlights every occurrence of the word,
shows it in a separate window, and lets you click to
go to the word. (See the screens below for
instructions.) Très cool, no? h t t p : / /
Firefox has a hidden feature: Visual tab switching
Turning on the feature takes two steps:
1. Go to Firefox’s address bar, type about:config,
and hit Enter. (Didn’t know about this, eh?)
2. Type browser.ctrlTab.previews into the Filter field.
When it appears, double-click it. (The value will
change to true.)
Five Handy Firefox Add-ons
Here are five add-ons I’ve recently used; they’re easy to
install and don’t take much time to figure out how to use.
Pay attention to the version of Firefox you have installed
(Help, About Mozilla Firefox) to make sure the add-on
is compatible with it.
1. Tired of squinting at sites with tiny fonts or weird
background colors? Experiment with NoSquint to
override a site’s font and image sizes as well as
change its foreground and background colors. If you
like the results, tell NoSquint to remember the
settings for your return visit to the specific site.
2. I’ve experimented with SwiftTabs for a few weeks.
It lets you use the F-keys to go to the next or previous
open tab. It’s a keeper — and especially useful for
those of us with Function keys along the side the
keyboard. (Careful, the site has a name sure to
3. I like the idea behind Fox Splitter, an add-on that
rearranges tabs as separate windows. The problem
is I had trouble adjusting to splitting off tabs and
keeping track of what went where. You might like it,
and it’s easy enough to install and uninstall, so give
it a try.
Start Typing and Firefox starts a search.
Click Ctrl-F to expand Firefox’s Find feature.
Now use Find All: It does tons more than
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 6
Steve Bass is the publisher and self-appointed Chief Content Officer
at TechBite; he continues to experience the cool feeling of having
his own newsletter. Send him your feedback at TechBite
<[email protected]>. To sign up for TechBite’s free Steve Bass
Technology newsletter, head for our signup page. http://
Steve’s also the author of “PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How
to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal
Computer,” available on Amazon. It covers XP, but not Vista. If
you haven’t purchased your copy today, don’t wait, supplies
always seem to be limited...
Firefox’s default Find feature.
Mobile Computing
By Chuck Horowitz, a member of HAL-PC, Texas, May 2010 Issue, HAL-PC Magazine, newsletter
of the Houston Area League of PC Users, Texas,, [email protected]
I’ve been hearing and reading a lot of hype about the value terabyte. The Iomega eGoMac at 500 gigabytes was
of a Netbook computer for searching the web on the go. rated very good and sells for $100. The Western Digital
If you’re like me, getting older and wearing glasses, a My Passport Essential at one terabyte is also rated
Netbook is not the best idea. I wrote a while back about very good and sells for $200. Read PC World’s February
the Acer Aspire Netbook that I purchased. I liked the idea 2010 edition for more details.
of the 2.3 pound weight which made me feel like I was not
Current “Ultraportable Laptops” are rated by PC World
carrying around a brick. For me, it’s not very good for in their April 2010 edition. I’m not sure that I would want
surfing the web at all. With an eight inch screen, half of the 4.8 pound ones on my lap for very long. The prices for
it is taken up by the web sites headers and the other half the rated machines range between $589 and $4,450. Of
doesn’t show me enough of what’s on without a lot of course, the $4,450 machine is a Sony. I do like the 120 and
scrolling. Because of the sacrifice I made to keep the 256 gigabyte solid-state drives being offered by Dell and
weight down, I do not have a hard drive or DVD in the Samsung, although they’re not cheap.
machine. So now I carry all of these items as externals (a
Have you heard about the Pennsylvania school that
lot more weight than if they were in the machine). My installed software that activated the built-in web cams
Netbook has an eight gigabyte solid-state memory and remotely? It’s one thing to give a notebook computer to
two additional eight gigabyte Secure Digital spots. For my students or teachers that they can take home to do
needs, I would have been better off with the hard drive schoolwork, but it’s an invasion of privacy to remotely
and the DVD built-in and with a larger screen.
activate the web cam and spy on these people at home.
Check out PC World’s February 2010 edition for the There’s not much difference between peeking through
article on “The True Cost of Wireless Carriers’ Netbooks” their window and spying on them by web cam, except for
starting on Page 23. I didn’t buy my Acer Aspire this way. the convenience for the spy. They should throw the book
When you add the initial cost of the wireless connection (it at these people (I mean the notebook). I’m sure this was
has its own phone number which isn’t useful for anything done to spy on the private lives of the students and
but connecting to the web) you wind up with a hefty cost teachers and had nothing to do with schoolwork or rules
between the cost of the phone and your monthly bills.
and regulation protection.
Well, USB 3.0 is here! “Superspeed USB 3.0 has a
Here’s a warning from a senior systems engineer
theoretical through-put of 5 gigabytes per second.” Best of “unless your laptop (notebook, netbook) is completely shut
all, it’s backward compatible with USB 2.0. You will need down and powered off, then there is the possibility for a
a new cable and host adapter to get this performance, criminal using either Wi-Fi detectors and/or Bluetooth
though. When used on a USB 2.0 port, you will get USB 2.0 receivers to identify within close proximity where a device
performance. There have not been any consumer electronic may reside within location.” I guess what he means is that
devices for USB 3.0 announced as yet. Some devices may even if you hide it in a cabinet or drawer it can be located
appear next year for digital cameras and camcorders.
and stolen. If it is a corporate machine, the data it contains
A note of caution is in order here. Don’t be fooled by can be just as valuable as the machine to a thief (possible
the impending vendor hype. You should not be paying more). A good tip: disable any functions that makes the
any more for USB 3.0 than you’ve been paying for USB machine go to sleep – this will actually have it shut down
2.0. PC World has rated 10 portable hard drives, ranging when you close the lid.
from $100 to $230 and sized from 320 gigabytes to 1 Chuck Horowitz, a HAL-PC member, can be reached at
[email protected] for questions or comments.
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 7
Stickies: Another Useful Utility
By Phil Sorrentino, President, Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc., June 2010 Issue,
SPCUG Monitor,, [email protected]
Here is another great free utility, especially for those of you
who have a lot of little yellow “Post-it” notes stuck all over
the edge of your monitor. The utility is called “Stickies” and
it is exactly what it sounds like it is. Stickies lets you put little
yellow “Post-it-like” notes any place on the monitor. Not
just stuck to the frame, but an actual area on the monitor
screen. The Stickies notes look like this, on my blue
desktop background:
As I’ve said in the past, utilities are usually small
programs that are intended to do a specific task or a small
range of tasks. These tasks are usually designed to help
manage and/or tune the computer hardware, Operating
System (OS), or a particular software application. This
utility is intended to help the users of the computer. There
are many times that you need to remember something for
a short time and you want to keep it right up front so it
doesn’t get lost. This is where Stickies can help. Stickies
are small note like areas you create, on the desktop, that
can be brought to the front of any application just by
clicking the Stickies icon in the Notification Area on the
Taskbar. They are dismissed from being on the application
just by clicking anywhere on the screen that isn’t in one of
the Stickies. (Clicking inside a Stickie allows you to add
text to that note.) You can put the notes in one corner of the
screen or you can spread them around to call attention to
different things. You can even place them on top of each
other in an overlapped fashion. This would allow you to use
the least amount of screen space. This would be a good
way, for those of you who have “too many” icons on the
desktop, to store your Stickies. This way the Stickies
would take up only a small portion of the screen.
Stickies can be downloaded from the developer’s site at:
stickies. This home page has a detailed description of
Stickies and a list of its features. (Choose Download to get
to the download page.) A few of the outstanding features
are as follows. Stickies works with XP and Vista. (No need
for Stickies if you use Windows 7 because Windows 7
comes with its own “Stickie-Note-like” gadget.) Stickies
appearance (fonts, colors, styles) can be customized.
Stickies can be easily resized. The Stickies program is
small, writes only to a single text file, and does not alter the
registry. Stickies can even be set up so that they are not
seen until a specific date and time, so they can be used as
a reminder. Stickies has a comprehensive list of features,
but it basically provides a very good computerized version
of “Post-it Notes”.
Once Stickies is downloaded and installed, a yellow
note-like Icon will be present in the Notification Area of the
Taskbar. Double-clicking this icon will put a new Stickie
note on the desktop. A single click of this icon will bring all
of the stickies to the front, meaning they will be displayed
on top of any application that is being shown. The Stickies
can be moved around the monitor by dragging the top of the
Stickie. Text can be inserted into a new Stickie just by
clicking, in the Stickie, where you want to enter text. The
size of the Stickie is dependent on the text in the Stickie.
As you add text the Stickie will be lengthened to show all
of the text. If you remove text, the Stickie will be shortened,
so that only the text is displayed (and not just empty space).
At any time, you can make the Stickie wider by moving
either of the vertical edges by hovering over the edge until
a double arrow is displayed and then left-clicking and
dragging the vertical side outward (or inward to make the
Stickie narrower). As the vertical sides are moved, the text
moves around so it just fits into the Stickie.
A Stickie has a yellow note icon in the upper left corner
and a trash can icon in the upper right corner. Clicking on
the yellow note icon toggles between “always on top” and
“remain on bottom”. Clicking on the trash can closes or
deletes the Stickie. All of the controls for each Stickie are
displayed by right-clicking the title bar (the space between
the yellow note icon and the trash can icon) of the Stickie,
as shown here:
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 8
If Border is checked, as it is here, the Stickie will have
a dark-line border around a yellow background. If it is not
checked, the border will be missing. To give the Stickie a
title, select Set title and a Title box will be displayed for you
to enter the title text. Font and Color can be changed by
selecting Set Font or Set Color, similar to those controls in
word processing applications. Transparency can be set
from 0% to 90 % so that things below the Stickie can be
seen (the higher the percentage, the lighter the Stickie
color is and the easier it is to see through the Stickie).
Select “Always on top” for a constant reminder, where by
the Stickie is made to stay on top of applications that are
in use. Select “Sleep for” to use the Stickie to become
active some time in the future to remind you of some event.
Stickies is a great way to organize some of the things
around your computer screen. I have found Stickies to be
a great help in simplifying this area. I am now down to one
notebook, a few pens and pencils and only a few Post-it
Notes around the monitor frame. Now, I am using Stickies
to store most of my temporary notes to myself and to other
computer users.
Will our computing experience be
shaped by Microsoft competitors?
By Constance Brown, President, Canton/Alliance/Massillon Users Group, Ohio, The Memory
Map, April 2010 Issue,, [email protected]
“Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from
Our total computing experience may well be shaped in the
future by Microsoft competitors. Think that is an over Android. Android was designed from the beginning to
statement? Just think of the changes Microsoft is making work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top
to keep up with new demands from a changing computer boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for
environment based on more mobile devices and the need to people who spend most of their time on the web, and is
share documents quickly in a web-based environment. being designed to power computers ranging from small
Many changes are being pioneered by competitors that are netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are
stepping up with new devices, applications, and software. areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we
One competitor is Google. Google Docs were designed to believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of
allow the creation of documents online in an environment everyone, including Google.”
“We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear —
similar to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, making it easy to
collaborate in real time. Price? No charge. A few months ago computers need to get better. People want to get to their
Google released the new Chrome Browser. Google also email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their
released the Android operating system for phones which are computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want
very popular and not susceptible to the viruses written for their computers to always run as fast as when they first
Windows. Droid phones allow users to browse the internet, bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them
exchange email, take pictures, and do hundreds of tasks wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their
computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more
quickly and efficiently. Oh, yes. People talk on them too.
We have been waiting for Google’s new Chrome Operating importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring
their computers to work with every new piece of hardware,
System, wondering how it will compare to Windows.
To answer that question, I visited Google’s official blog. or have to worry about constant software updates.”
On November 19, 2009, Google open-sourced the code
Here is some of what I learned from the July 7, 2009, entry.
Chrome OS, a year before the developers anticipate that
“Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM
OS will be ready for general use. Anyone who wishes
chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a
the code and contribute to the development of
number of netbooks to market next year. The software
architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a the operating system may do so. I am not a developer and
new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For have no interest in writing code. But I am interested in the
application developers, the web is the platform. All web- results. It is a totally new way of computing. Here are
based applications will automatically work and new excerpts from Google’s official blog on November 19.
“First, it’s all about the web. All apps are web apps. The
applications can be written using your favorite web
technologies. And, of course, these apps will run not only entire experience takes place within the browser and there
on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser are no conventional desktop applications. This means
on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the users do not have to deal with installing, managing and
updating programs.”
largest user base of any platform.
Computer Experience Shaped cont. on page 11
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 9
The Slickdeals Approach to Cable
Company Negotiations
By Gabe Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc., [email protected]
For some people, their cable company is “the
company they love to hate”. Most folks just accept
the cable company for what it is, a semi-regulated
utility providing useful or necessary services. And
the remainder — often to the mystification of the
first group — just love their company, even singing
its praises when cable service is discussed.
To make sense of this variation, remember that
cable service is generally provided by regional
monopolies, with territories granted by local
governments, so features, customer services,
and costs indeed vary widely. And even one
company’s characteristics can vary with
geography, depending on factors such as local
management, franchise arrangements and fees,
and infrastructure age and quality.
As early as possible in this process, request your
free credit reports and ensure that you’re shown as
being financially responsible, with all account
payments up-to-date. Felicia Blow, Cox Cable’s
Director of Public Affairs, notes that the better a
credit history is, “the more flexibility Cox has in
avoiding the customer having to pay deposits and
the like to get or restore service.”
But separate from everything else is the need to
negotiate effectively with the company, whether
establishing new service, changing what’s provided,
or simply haggling for a better deal.
So, prior to any conversation or transaction, do
your homework. Understand everything you’ll
need to consider and perhaps mention:
competition to cable services in your area
(satellite and over-the-air TV, phone company
DSL or FiOS, cell phone service), services
offered, service levels (e.g., Internet connection
speeds, TV channel bundles), features (telephone
caller-id, voicemail, speed dialing, three-way
calling, etc.), list prices, bundle discounts, and
current or recent promotions offered.
This is complicated enough that you want to get
it right, selecting no more or less than what you
need and want, while paying the best price possible.
So start with a list (or, better, a spreadsheet) showing
what to discuss, each item’s relative importance to
you, the cable company’s quoted price, and any
available bundles or promotions.
Just as a retired couple likely doesn’t need a
seven-passenger SUV and a young singleton won’t
rent a McMansion, don’t get carried away by
glittering features and services. Cox’s Blow suggests
remembering your “station in life” before ordering
the fastest Internet connection if you’ll just send
email and do light Web surfing, though if you have
far-flung family, a generous phone package might
ultimately save money.
Similarly, a killer online gamer might go for
blazing DOCSIS 3.0 Internet bandwidth and
skip phone service entirely, depending on cell
phone connectivity.
Bundles — combination service packages costing
less than the sum of their individual components —
can save or waste money. Think carefully about
whether it’s worth spending more money to save
some, or whether better value comes from mixingand-matching bits from multiple providers.
Consider freebies offered but remember that they
only have value if they’re useful. Internet services
may include spam filtering, security tools, parental
controls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc., but compare
their quality to other free and fee tools to ensure that
you’re getting best of breed. If you won’t use them,
don’t let a cable rep seduce you into paying premium
prices because they’re included.
You’ll likely be offered prepaid protection for
inside cable facilities. Unless you’re aware of
problems, it’s usually best to decline this — it’s
essentially overpriced insurance against rare
problems with cable wiring. The company is
responsible for connectivity to your dwelling’s
main termination, and will usually address (Internet,
TV, phone) signal quality issues at no cost. But
check with neighbors regarding company service
and fee policies regarding inside work.
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 10
Once you’re a customer, you’re not done chatting
with your CableCo. Don’t suffer service problems
or billing issues silently, or just gripe to friends and
neighbors. Cable companies understand they’ve
had public relations problems and work to be better
liked. Online services such as real-time customer
service chats may resolve problems at 3 am. And
some companies have online monitors watching
for complaints in forums and on Twitter.
Even satisfied customers benefit from
occasionally evaluating services and adding/
deleting features, and calling to request lower
prices can cut monthly bills. This can involve citing
competitive services — for example, if your
neighborhood has just been wired for FiOS with
promotional rates offered, you can threaten to
terminate service unless the lower price is matched.
Make this more credible by mentioning that
you’re not tied to CableCo email addresses; note
that you use Webmail service accessible through
any ISP or that you have your own domain (both of
which are good practices to avoid having to change
email addresses when moving from one company’s
territory to another!). If you’ve suffered problems
or outages, suggest that it’s only fair for you to be
compensated by lower rates.
You may be required to commit to service for
some period in order to have fees reduced. One
customer reduced his monthly Internet cost $20,
to $29.99, while getting about 30Mbps download
and 3.5Mbps upload speeds — hardly shabby,
and worth agreeing to stick around for a year. If
you’re content to remain a customer and don’t
expect to move soon, that’s a good bargain. Of
course, watch the calendar and haggle again if
your rate ever increases.
Finally, if you work with a competent and
helpful rep — whether for initial orders, account
changes, service or billing issues — ask for
direct contact information, both telephone
number and email address.
It’s immensely helpful having continuity in dealing
with normally faceless businesses, and service
providers increasingly recognize how much
personal service improves customer satisfaction.
Not all companies or reps provide this, but — as
with everything else this article suggests — it can’t
hurt to ask.
This article appeared originally on the Web
site, <>. (c) Gabriel
Goldberg 2010. Permission is granted for reprinting and
distribution by non-profit organizations with text reproduced
unchanged and this paragraph included. Please email
[email protected] when you use it. „
Computer Experience Shaped cont. from page 9
“Second, because all apps live within the browser,
there are significant benefits to security. Unlike
traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn’t
trust the applications you run. Each app is contained
within a security sandbox making it harder for malware
and viruses to infect your computer. Furthermore,
Chrome OS barely trusts itself. Every time you
restart your computer the operating system verifies
the integrity of its code. If your system has been
compromised, it is designed to fix itself with a reboot.
While no computer can be made completely secure,
we’re going to make life much harder (and less
profitable) for the bad guys. If you dig security, read
the Chrome OS Security
Overview or watch the video.”
“Most of all, we are obsessed with speed. We are
taking out every unnecessary process, optimizing
many operations and running everything possible in
parallel. This means you can go from turning on the
computer to surfing the web in a few seconds. Our
obsession with speed goes all the way down to the
metal. We are specifying reference hardware
components to create the fastest experience for
Google Chrome OS.”
No doubt this new model will change the way we
use computers in the future — at least for most
people. Things will not change suddenly. But it is
highly likely that a web based computing environment
will be the norm for most users in the future.
Can This PMP Play My Movie?
Incompatible file formats have been a sore spot with
PMP (portable media player) owners for years.
Although some PMP makers include software that
will transcode a file into a format their player supports,
it pays to make certain the PMP you buy supports the
formats of the majority of the files you already own. If
most of your video library’s files are in the MPEG-4
format, for example, check to make sure that the PMP
you’re eyeing supports MPEG-4 files natively or be
prepared to transcode those files (an often timeconsuming process) in order to watch them.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 11
Outside the Lines
By Carla S. Cawlfield, a long-time HAL-PC member and volunteer, June 2010 Issue, HAL-PC
Magazine, newsletter of the Houston Area League of PC Users, Texas,,
[email protected]
I attended a recent HAL-PC meeting wherein AMD gave
SO! You Want a New Computer!
a presentation comparing their current and upcoming lines
This article is intended as a guideline to how to select a computer,
of processors to Intel’s. The AMD speaker had a great
not specifically which computer to buy.
chart, showing the different families of processors side by
side. However, when I was researching online, I was very
The Problem
disappointed in the charts and lack thereof at the Intel site.
After nine years, I decided to buy myself a notebook
(Intel, work on this; your site is enormous and mazecomputer as a full-blown replacement for my desktop
like. Give us a way to easily compare your products.)
machine. For once in my lengthy computing life, there
The processor I ended up selecting, Intel’s i5-430m dual
was almost nothing wrong with my old computer. The
processor was still fast enough for all my applications; core, is a high mid-range mobile processor, released just a
the main obsolescence was the 1.1 version of USB and few weeks before I bought my computer. It is optimized
the lack of a DVD burner. But the main reason was I for speed, power conservation, and heat minimization.
want the portability of a notebook; I sometimes travel
• Step #2—develop my specifications. This became a
for several weeks at a time, and have tired of using
huge spreadsheet, with much minutiae and running
public libraries and Internet cafés. Surfing and email
eight pages long when printed out. The tapedare possible on my handheld device, but I can’t manage
together pages ran the length of the kitchen door I
all of my affairs this way.
used as a posting site. My gut told me I would
The Process(or)
probably have to spend around $800 to get a
reasonable computer, but I was not hard-wired into
I started researching my purchase looking under “laptop”,
a fixed budget. (In the end I spent $799 plus tax,
and quickly discovered the industry no longer likes that
but that was either a happy co-incidence OR, I
term; the size categories are now “notebooks” or “netbooks”
have a really smart gut.) The purpose of setting an
(effective alliteration enhances advertising? maintaining
amount was to have a starting point at which to
marketing momentum? busily building buzzwords?).
compare machines; stated another way, at $800
This will be my sixteenth computer. It will be my fourth
what is a great deal and what is a ripoff? This “wet
portable. I have learned you have to do your homework to
finger in the air” analysis showed me the following
make the best selection and purchase. After decades of
computers were typically available:
buying computers, the place to start is with your
Processor = Intel Core i5-430M dual core;
specifications. The machine I want is primarily for writing
speed is 2.26GHz
articles, managing my large photo and video library, financial
and accounting maintenance, Internet & email, and watching
Memory = 4GB DDR3, expandable to 8GB
DVDs & online television. What I don’t need is a screamer
Hard drive = 500 GB, 5400 to 7200 rpm
of a gamester computer or video editing/movie-making
platform. This means I don’t need the hottest, fastest
Screen size = 15.6" to 17", resolution = 1366 X
processor or maximum amount of memory available in
768 or 1600 X 900, all LED backlit, except for
portables; my “don’t” list saved me about $1,000.
Toshiba, who still uses LCD technology in their
larger notebooks (see note below)
Herewith, therefore, are the steps I went through, in
mostly chronological order:
USB ports = 3 or 4; on some machines 1 port is
• Step #1—re-familiarize myself with the state of the
also eSATA
technology. Educational sources included…
Optical drive = DVD dual layer burner; some
Printed advertisements, both Sunday newspaper
have LightScribe or LabelFlash also. Those
and magazinesInternet surfing for reviews and
units that offered BluRay were about $100
manufacturer’s sites
more, even on sale
Visiting the HAL-PC Build or Buy SIG on Wednesday
Battery life = 2.5 to 3 hours with 6 LithiumIons;
Talking with LPs (Learned Persons) at HAL-PC,
another benefit of being a member
one unit had 5 to 6 hours with 12 LithiumIons.
(Most notebooks can have larger battery
packs retrofitted, but at an additional
cost of $130 to $150.)
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 12
Media reader = 5 in 1; accept various memory
Webcam = standard & fairly lousy
Keyboard = only full keyboards with separate
number keypad will do
Operating system = Windows 7 Home Premium,
64 bit version
Other Software included = Microsoft Works,
trial versions of Norton or other security
programs, audio/video entertainment packages,
etc. Basically, nothing worth having, so this was
not a decision-influencing category. I have my
own legal full-blown versions of applications,
thank you very much.
Miscellaneous goodies on various machines =
Harmon Kardon speakers (Toshiba); Altec
Lansing speakers (Hewlett Packard); nonintegrated video processor (Toshiba); RJ11 jacks
(handy for faxes); built-in Bluetooth; PCI
Express slots; Touchpad on/off switch; dual
headphone jacks.
NOTE: About LCD and LED backlit display technology—
my research led me to believe that the newer LED backlit
technology is better for 2 reasons—1) LED uses less
power, so battery usage is longer, and 2) it is brighter in
outdoor-type environments, so the screen does not become
as washed out.
TIP: One of my favorite Learned Persons at HAL-PC
clued me in to the Windows Experience Index, available in
Windows 7. This benchmarks any given machine in these
categories—Processor, Memory (RAM), Graphics,
Gaming graphics, and Hard Disk (data transfer rate).
Each category is given its own score and is graded
Olympics-style, with the maximum possible score being a
7.9. No mobile computer I looked at ever scored anything
higher than a 6.7 in any category. Most notebooks have
puny graphics processors when compared to desktop
models, and thusly, notebooks also have puny graphics
scores of about 4.6. To use the Windows Experience Index
feature, select Start > Control Panel > All Control Panel
Items > Performance Information and Tools.
Shoeleather vs. Let Your Finger do
the Shopping
Step #3—start shopping. I was pretty disappointed
in the available online notebook reviews. None
really got detailed about the pros and cons of various
machines. They did varying degrees of shallow
information about such things as the quality of the
LCD display, realistic length of battery life, ease-ofuse of keyboards, etc. When I went through a similar
drill two years ago before buying a new digital
camera, I found much more useful material in the
camera review sites. The best site for comparison
charts = CompUSA.
So I went to the local stores, several times, with
advertisements and legal pad in hand, to gather my own
empirical data. Then back to the various manufacturers’
websites to fill in my comparison-shopping spreadsheet
with yet more data.
A sales/marketing pattern seemed to emerge. It looks
like the major computer makers have partnered with the
major retailers to “customize” notebooks for exclusive
marketing rights. An example—a computer model catches
your eye at Office Depot, Fry’s, or CompUSA, just to pick
on a few random stores. You wish to compare prices.
That same computer may not be available anywhere
else, only at that one retail chain, even if you websurf the
world for online deals. This computer may be almost
identical to a unit available at a competitor, but it will have
one tiny little detail different, and also a different SKU
number. I found this to be true on several machines by
different computer makers, so it must be common and
customary for the industry. So much for price guarantees,
you say. It didn’t really make that much difference in the
end, because I tracked the sales and rebates for a couple
of months, and good deals are available if you are observant
and patient.
I am an avid online shopper; but in this case, I did not find
any price advantages online, even with free shipping and
no sales tax. So I bought at a sticks ‘n bricks locale (in the
event anything was broken on my new computer, being
able to exchange it at a store is SOOO much easier than
dealing with online returns).
Because I was not buying a computer on an emergency
basis, I took advantage of rock bottom sales and rebates.
I ended up actually bringing home 3 different machines
during a 2 week time period; at one time I had $2300 worth
of notebooks on my credit card and living room floor, while
I weighed the pros and cons of each, waiting for better
sales and deals to emerge. Example—Fry’s ads come out
each Friday, and they have a 15 day return period on
notebooks. So if you buy your desired computer on Thursday
night at the end of a sale cycle, you then have 2 more
weeks of opportunity for Fry’s or another retailer to offer
an even better deal. I also made sure all returns were made
before the cutoff of my credit card billing cycle. As per my
plan, I was successfully able to return 2 out of the 3
computers I brought home, and ended up with the unit I
wanted at a good deal.
CAUTIONARY NOTE — Do NOT open the computer
box unless you really are in love with that unit, as you either
cannot return it at all, OR, you can return for about a 15%
restocking fee, which is >$100. Make sure you have the
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 13
Outside the Lines cont. on Page 14
Outside the Lines cont. on Page 14
exact details of a given store’s return policy BEFORE you
make your purchase. WARNING—go back and reread
this paragraph.
The Probables
About 12 similar computers seemed to fit my specs and
were in stock in local stores. I took my own copy of a DVD
movie in and test drove 11 of these units in the stores; the
12th did not have a demo model available, and the store
was not willing to open a box for me. I ran the Windows
Experience Index on all 11 machines; I was not able to find
this info any other way. It is not part of the online data
available. Winnowing down through the dozen yielded the
three machines I brought home. These 3 computers all
have the specifications as stated up in Step #2, so I will only
mention the differences.
Pros =
1600 X 900 LED display
Fingerprint resistant keyboard
RJ 11 jack
4 hour battery life
Cons =
1. No built-in Bluetooth
2. No PCI Express slot
3. This was the only machine I was not able to play with
in the store, no demo unit available.
Computer #3 = Hewlett Packard
Pavilion dv6-2170us. MSRP of
$899, net price of $749. Highest
WinExpIndex scores.
Computer #1 = Toshiba A505-S6020,
MSRP of $899, net price of $699.
Reasonable WinExpIndex scores.
Pros =
1. killer Harman Kardon speakers
2. nVidia graphics card, which led to a graphics score
of 5.0, the highest in the bunch
Cons =
1. Display = LCD, not LED
2. Only 2.0 to 2.5 hour battery life
3. No built-in Bluetooth
4. Tons of extra software goodies. Note that I list this
as a “con”, as these are stripped versions of programs,
often with time bombs. Mostly they just crap up your
Windows registry and machine.
Computer #2 = Gateway NV5935u;
MSRP of $699, net price of $649.
Reasonable WinExpIndex scores.
Pros =
1. Superbright LED display
2. The 500 GB hard drive has the fastest speed at
7200 rpm
3. Entertainment engineering, including dual
headphone jacks (tested—no loss of volume with
both jacks in use.)
4. Altec Lansing speakers (although they sound
puny to me)
5. Built-in Bluetooth
6. PCI Express slot
7. And lastly, but most importantly, 6 hour battery
life!!!! DEAL MAKER!!!!
Cons =
1. No RJ 11 jack, so no built-in fax capability. (This can
be remedied with a cheapo USB add-on.)
2. No BluRay.
3. Weight = about 7 lbs. This is due to #7 above, the
lovely longer battery life. I am not a road warrior
anymore, so I don’t really care how much it weighs.
I can easily carry 7 lbs. around my house.
4. Interfering HP software that wants to hold my hand
all the time with pop-ups and assistance.
Added surprise bonus inside—as mentioned in #3 under
Pros, this is an Entertainment unit, so it comes with its own
teensy little DVD and music remote control. This is
actually important to me—remember part of my
original requirements was for a machine to watch
DVDs and online television. Mission accomplished!
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 14
In the end, I took back the #1 Toshiba unit because of the
lack of LED screen. Otherwise, it is a good unit with great
speakers. My real choice was between the #2 Gateway
and the #3 HP for $100 more. I opted for the HP because
of the enhanced battery life, built-in Bluetooth, and dual
headphone jacks.
N o t e : Kudos to Hewlett Packard for using ALL recyclable
packing materials—all recycled cardboard inside and out, and not
a scrap of Styrofoam to be found.
The Procedures
Now that I had finally made a decision and taken all
extra computers back to the store, I was ready to open
the box and get going. I have learned that putting a new
computer in service is just about as painful and laborious
as giving birth, and I am NOT kidding. You have to go
slow and methodically.
• Step #4. Never, ever hook a virgin computer up to
the Internet without verifying that anti-virus
software and a firewall are current and completely
installed. You may need access to another brokenin computer to download security files. Here is
where your membership in HAL-PC will save you.
Go to the Friday morning PC Upgrade and
Troubleshooting SIG for assistance in these security
matters. I have used this group and other gurus at
HAL-PC for many of my sixteen computers over
the years. Can’t live without them. Best $50 per
year I ever spent.
TIP: As this computer unit is WiFi capable, I also took my
router down to the Friday morning SIG. We were able to
configure both the computer and the router and get them
connected wirelessly. This was a huge help, as my router
had previously been “fixed” by the kids who came to visit
my house; they had it totally fouled up and unusable.
• Step #5—Start loading my software packages. This
includes the usuals—Microsoft Office Suite,
Quicken, Palm Desktop for my handheld device.
Then load the 20 or so icons that I use frequently
onto the desktop.
TIP: If you like a lot of icons on your desktop, for your
background wallpaper, choose a picture that has a lot of
blank space around the edges, sort of like a frame. The photo
I use is a family group portrait with an uncluttered background.
The icons are arranged along the sides and top.
• Step #6—let ‘er rip. I began methodically checking
out the various ports and devices. This includes such
areas as all USB ports, external monitor, WiFi,
Bluetooth, DVD burner, webcam & mic, both
headphone ports, touchpad on/off switch, etc. My
checkout list included testing the battery life; I got up
to about 5.5 hours before I plugged back into
external electricity. Even with the beautiful screen
on this notebook, my old external desktop monitor
still delivers a superior resolution, and external
speakers are a must.
• Step #7—transfer data from old computer to
new. This would have been super slow using the
USB 1.1 on my old desktop computer. Plus, I
wanted to harvest the two perfectly good desktop
hard drives and use them as my new backup
drives. So I used a handy little peripheral device,
an external hard drive box. Specifically, it is a
Sabrent SATA/IDE Hard Drive Aluminum
Enclosure, High Speed USB 2.0 & eSATA
Interface, Plug ‘n Play, hot swappable, Item #
ECS – STU35K, sku = 88218 00070 5, street
price about $27. The beauty of this device is you
can temporarily swap in whatever 3.5" hard
drive you desire.
What I actually did was carefully take my D: data drive
out of my old desktop computer, load it into the Sabrent,
plug it into a USB 2.0 port on my new computer and
Voila! All my data directories and files were visible and
available for installing. I moved 33 gigabytes of data in a
little more than 30 minutes.
TIP: Use your old working hard drives as backup drives
using an external device like the Sabrent. Store them away
from your computer, and preferably in a water- and fireproof safe or safe deposit box at a bank. This accomplishes
two things—1) in the event your computer is stolen, the
thieves won’t have taken your only copy of your data; and
2) in the event of a flood or fire, you won’t have lost your
only copy of your data. (If you think this sounds like
overkill, your house just hasn’t flooded yet.)
I had two goals in mind when purchasing a new laptop—
I want to sit in bed and write stories, and I want to sit in bed
and watch movies and online television. Considering that
I wrote this lengthy article while sitting in bed, and
considering that I got caught up on some recently-missed
television shows online I have achieved success! I am very
happy with my choice of notebook computer.
TIP: Thanks to the HAL-PC homepage, I learned that
on Earth Day the local Toshiba plant was accepting
electronics for responsible recycling. I had a lot of old hard
drives and non-working computers lying around that I did
not want to throw into a landfill. A friend and I filled the bed
of a large pickup truck with junk computers, broken VCRs,
rusted stereo components, & one flooded boombox and
delivered all this trash to Toshiba. I estimate the original
purchase value of all this junk was about $15K. We did get
a reusable cloth grocery bag in exchange. Thank you,
HAL-PC, for this tip. Keep ‘em coming!
Carla Cawlfield is a long-term HAL-PC member and volunteer.
Since her car was flooded under 7 feet of water in April 2009, she
has “gone green” and is experimenting with living in Houston
with no car. You may email her at [email protected] © 2010 by
Carla S. Cawlfield
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 15
Beyond Digital Photography:
Transforming Photos into Fine Art with Photoshop and Painter
By Iris Yoffa, a member of the Tucson Computer Society, AZ, The Journal of the Tucson
Computer Society, January 2010,, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s image background detail and then
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
painting back areas of focus using
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Painter. In the last three brief
When I first heard of this latest book from Cher Threinen- exercises you create a focus using
Pendarvis and Donal Jolley, I was very eager to work layers and Photoshop’s dodge and
through the pages and try out all the recipes. I use both burn tools, adjust the saturation of
Photoshop and Painter and am always looking for new and a selection to create focus and use
interesting approaches to transforming photographs into a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
art. Beyond Digital Photography is not a beginner’s tutorial to create a Sepia-tone background.
on the basics of each program. However, the authors’
directions are broken down into clear steps that can be Chapter 4
understood by any level of user.
Chapter 4 begins with a project to illustrate some of the
power of working with a RAW file in Photoshop Camera
Chapter 1
RAW. Continuing on, Photoshop’s Art History Brush is
Chapter 1 does cover some introductory basics of working employed to create a textured and painterly effect for your
with pixels and resolution, the Photoshop and Painter image.
workspaces, a selection of palettes from both, cloning and
Working with clones and pastels in Painter follows. You
painting, Photoshop Camera RAW, and using the Wacom
to build a textured manila paper and custom cloners,
Tablet. Photoshop and Painter are much the same on both
blender brushes, create a border and paint detail back
Windows and Mac, and the recipes include the keystrokes
an image, resulting in a lovely pastel. (We hope.)
used on both OS’s. The companion web site,
The last project in this chapter recreates a textured, contains updates
study in black and white. Once again, the focus
and many of the project images
and how to use the program for retouching,
Most of the projects begin in Photoshop or Photoshop
and blending.
Camera RAW with preparing the photo for image
manipulation. And, in addition to the tips for working in
Chapter 5
the applications, there are suggested camera settings,
and photo shoot and production tips for improving the Chapter 5 contains two projects to step you through the
quality of your pictures. The first exercise is a straight process of simulating the look of water color. In the first
forward method for creating pop-art from a photo. The you recreate a landscape and then the second is working
recommendation is to use an image with good contrast on a close-up of a young child. This is the point at which
and large, simple shapes. Filters are applied to layers and we finally get to really paint!
Painting with Painter’s Digital Watercolor and Watercolor
then blending modes are used to create an interaction
brushes, you are actually taken through the
between one layer and the one below it.
process of building up watercolor washes. The Dry Digital
Watercolor option in the Layers menu is used to set the
Chapter 2
Chapter 2, titled “Painterly Techniques for Non-Painters,” imagery, simulating waiting for the washes to dry in the
is filled with wonderful methods for turning your photo into world of actual watercolor.
a hand-rendered painting or woodcut without having to
pick up a painting brush.
Chapter 3
Chapter 3 puts the focus on creating a focus.In the first
project you use a mask to protect the object in the image
that should draw in the eye and remain in focus. Then a
lens blur and brushwork is applied and lastly a painted
border finishes up the exercise. The next two projects use
the approach of blurring and brushing away most of the
Chapter 6
Chapter 6 includes four projects to guide you through
achieving acrylic or oil painted results. These projects
include recommendations of Master Artists to study for
inspiration and the training of your artist’s eye.
Painter’s Real Bristle Brushes are used for the first
project. The second is an investigation of Chiaroscuro
lighting. Painter’s Cloning and Artists’ Oils brushes are
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 16
used to achieve results inspired by the lighting and tones
found in the art of the old masters.
Using Noise in Photoshop to transform an image into
digital oil is next. This lesson includes using Photoshop’s
Lens Correction filter to address barreling and chromatic
aberration in the image due to normal camera lens distortion.
Oil techniques are accomplished using Photoshop’s blending
layers and a variety of noise filters. The last project of the
chapter presents the Painter approach to re-creating an
old masters style of oil painting.
Chapter 7
Chapter 7 is quite brief and shows two approaches for
transforming your photo into abstract art. The first project
is accomplished entirely with Photoshop and the second is
done in Painter. The last chapter introduces methods and
ideas for consideration when collaging together multiple
images. In the first exercise Photoshop layers, masks, and
filters are used to build a rather complex composite image.
The second and final exercise of the book works with
both Photoshop and Painter to create a composition from
multiple photos. The elements of whitespace, size
Discover Your Driver Status
When you encounter difficulty with a device, one of the
first things you should do is confirm that you have the
most recent driver installed. You can do this by comparing
the driver version on your system with the most recent
driver version available from the manufacturer’s Web
site. The most recent drivers are usually available for
download under the Support, Drivers, or Downloads
section of a company’s site. Most companies will list the
version number with the download so you can easily see
which version the company offers. You may also want
to check the company’s News and Support pages for
any notices about bugs in the company’s drivers.
Occasionally, a driver may conflict with certain computer
components or installed software. When this happens, a
manufacturer usually provides a workaround on its Web
site or offers an earlier driver for download so you can
revert to an earlier driver that works with your system.
The company should provide installation instructions for
such anomalies. Windows 9x/Me. To check a driver in
Win9x/Me, you’ll use the Device Manager. Click the
Start menu, Settings, and Control Panel. In the Control
Panel window, double-click the System icon. This will
open the System Properties dialog box. Click the Device
Manager tab. Make sure the View Devices By Type
radio button is selected and then browse the list of device
types for the type of device you want to check. Click the
plus sign (+) next to the device type and then doubleclick the device you want to check. For example, if you
want to check the installed driver for your mouse, click
relationships between elements, consistency of shadows,
texture and color, and drawing the viewer around the page,
are the focus of this last project.
In Summary
Working through the pages of this book was a wonderful
adventure in exploring new ways to use Photoshop and
Painter to transform photos into art. I give it a definite
“thumbs up” recommendation for anyone interested in
furthering their artist’s eye and skill set with the Photoshop
and Painter digital toolboxes.
About: Beyond Digital Photography:
Transforming Photos into Fine Art with
Photoshop and Painter
Authors: Cher Threinen-Pendarvis, Donal Jolley
Publisher: Peachpit Press
ISBN 10: 0321410211
ISBN 13: 978-0321410214
Price: $44 99, $26.69 @ Amazon
the plus sign next to Mouse to expand the view. Then
double-click your mouse from the list under Mouse. This
will open a Properties window for the device. Click the
Driver tab. You can check the version and the issue date
for the driver by looking for the Driver Date and Driver
Version. Windows 2000/XP. It is fairly straightforward
to identify a driver in Win2000/XP. Click the Start menu,
Settings, and Control Panel. WinXP offers two views of
the Control Panel. The default is Category View, and
Classic View is also available. If you use Win2000 or
WinXP in Classic View, double-click System. If you use
WinXP in Category View, click Printers And Other
Hardware and then click System under the See Also
section on the left side of the screen. In the System
Properties dialog box, click the Hardware tab and the
Device Manager button. You’ll notice that there is one
extra step compared to opening the Device Manager in
Win9x/Me. In Win2000/XP, the Device Manager doesn’t
have its own tab but is instead accessible through a
button on the Hardware tab. In the resulting Device
Manager window, click the View menu and make sure
that Devices By Type is selected. If not, click Devices
By Type to switch to the proper view. Click the plus sign
next to one of the listed device types to view an expanded
list of devices. Then double-click the device for which
you’d like to check the driver. In the resulting Properties
dialog box for the device, click the Driver tab. You’ll see
the Driver Date and Driver Version listed.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 17
Sights and Sounds of Multimedia
By George Harding, Treasurer, Tucson Computer Society, Arizona, eJournal of the Tucson
Computer Society, May 2010 Issue,, [email protected] net
Desktop Emergency Weather Station
Here’s a compact device that gives you temperature inside
and out, humidity, forecast, barometric pressure and more.
One of the benefits of this is that all US Hazards and
Emergency Alert Systems are monitored for bulletins,
warnings and watches. You get indications when one or
more is being broadcast and can listen to it. The device has
an LCD screen that is about 4 X 4 inches with a display that
shows: barometric pressure (Inches of mercury or
millibars), outdoor temperature (C or F) and humidity,
weather forecast, indoor temperature (or F) and humidity,
clock or alert messages There are four buttons in a vertical
like next to the LCD: Menu, Exit, Increase, and Decrease.
The Menu button allows setting the various variables
for each of the display items The Exit button takes
you out of setting mode. The Increase and Decrease
buttons cycle through the various settings.
The back of the device has six buttons along its top edge.
The first is the NOAA button, which cycles through
NOAA on, standby, mute and off The third button cycles
through current, maximum and minimum temperature and
humidity records. The sixth allows you to adjust for
altitude, so that barometric pressure is read correctly.
In addition to the base unit, the device comes with an
outdoor remote sensor for measuring outdoor temperature
and humidity. You may read from up to three remotes
sensors, but only one is included with the unit. Both the
base and remote are battery operated, although the base
unit is normally operated from a wall outlet. The batteries
in the base unit are for back-up power.
The alert service provided by this device is very
interesting. The information is obtained from NOAA,
which operates NWS, the National Weather Service.
NWS is the official source of warnings about life-threatening
weather phenomena and hazardous events. Most TV
stations get their information from NWS sources.
You can configure the Weather Station to sound an alert
and play the warnings as they occur. A problem, though, is
that you probably aren’t concerned with warnings that
apply to areas from away from yours. Enter SAME,
Specific Area Message Encoding, a facility included in the
Weather Station. Using this facility you can restrict the
warnings to your county or those nearby. These are the
ones you’re really interested in. SAME can keep you from
being awakened by an alert that doesn’t concern you, a
very nice feature.
About: Desktop Emergency Weather Station
Vendor: Oregon Scientific
Price: about $71.95
Rebit SaveMe
There are many ways to back up your computer these
days. One group of methods backs up your files and
folders, which is certainly important. The other group
backs up everything, creating an image of your hard drive
partition at a point in time.
Rebit SaveMe is one of the second groups. You always
have at your fingertips a method for restoring your hard
drive if Windows won’t boot. Either group involves installing
software on your computer that will do the back-up job
whenever you specify, or on a scheduled basis. You then
must go through the required process to define what is to
be backed up and when. This takes a certain amount of
knowledge and time.
Rebit SaveMe also
installs on your
computer, but that’s
about it. You do have
to specify what the
backup drive is,
whether an external
drive or a separate
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 18
partition. Once that’s done, Rebit SaveMe goes about its
business without further intervention from you.
As the files on your computer change, Rebit SaveMe
backs them up – automatically. Not only that, previous
file versions are saved, so that you can go back to a
prior one. So what about recovery? There are two
ways to do that. If all you want is to recover one file
or folder, you can go to the backup location to restore
the file you want. If, instead, you want to restore the
entire hard disk, you use the Restore application,
which you can download or start from the backup
drive. The product I was given to review will back up
multiple computers. The limit to the number of
computers is 6, assuming the hard drive is big enough.
It’s almost as easy to back up the second and later
computers as it is the first. The external hard drive you
used for the first contains a file that will install the
application on the next computer. Once installed, the
backup process continues as before.
The contents of the product consist of a CD-ROM,
which is used to install Rebit SaveMe on your computer,
and a Quick Start booklet. The latter is extremely brief,
showing in 3 steps how to back up the first computer and
in another 3 steps how to back up the next one.
I recommend this product because it is simple to use and
requires no user interaction after the installation step What
could be simpler?
Rebit SaveMe
Author: Rebit SaveMe
Vendor: Rebit
$30 for one computer, $40 for multiple
computer backup
LG Netbook X120
The popularity of laptop computers has led to a proliferation
of sizes, styles, colors and shapes. The frequency of travel
and the need to keep carry-ons small has produced a new
category of laptop called the netbook. They are not only
physically small, but have limited capacity in terms of
storage, included devices, screen size and speed. The
physical size is less than a sheet of paper and the thickness
can be described as “slim.” The screen and keyboard
necessarily ft within this narrow package, but are sufficient
for occasional use. The hard drive is smaller than most
laptops, but is adequate. You would not want to use a laptop
for video recording or to store lots of pictures.
A significant limitation is the absence of an external disk
drive, either foppy or CD/DVD. This makes installing new
applications difficult, although devices attachable through
USB are available.
Screen size is the most visible limitation, making the
display of web pages rather truncated. Web designers tend
to put a lot of extraneous stuff at the top of a page, leaving
important things farther down the page, which forces one
to move the page up in order to see what one wants to see.
In spite of these limitations, netbooks are one of the most
popular computers on the market today, and the LG X120
is an excellent example of them. The processor, hard drive
size and memory limitations are not evident in everyday
use. It has the usual Intel Atom processor, 1 GB memory,
160 GB hard drive and 3 USB ports. The keyboard is as
large as most laptops and has a nice touch.
The operating system is XP Home, the screen is 10 1"
diagonally and the battery provides up to 7 hours of life,
according to LG (I was not able to get more than 4 hours).
The unit also has a 1.3 megapixel web cam The LG X120
has two features unique among netbooks. One is the ability
to connect to either a Wi-Fi network or the GSM cell phone
network. This means that wherever you are (almost), you
can access the Internet LG describes this facility as “3G+,
Anytime, Anywhere.”
The GSM connection
seems somewhat
slower than the WiFi
connection, but that may
be subjective. I had
no way to accurately
measure speed of either.
The other unique
feature is an alternate
interface called
Smart On by
Splashtop. It starts
with a very
simple screen
showing Web,
Music, Online Games, Photo
and Chat buttons. The Web button opens a
Splashtop browser set to initially access LG’s web site.
The bottom of the resulting browser screen has a rectangular
“toolbar” with the same four buttons, plus several more,
one of which transfers you to the XP OS.
The Smart On interface is not only simple, but loads very
quickly. Loading took 6 seconds, shutdown 1 second XP
load took 55 seconds, shutdown 15 seconds.
I had difficulty connecting to the Internet on a recent trip
to Indianapolis. In my room, the network appliance showed
multiple available wireless networks, but the motel’s was
not one of them. When I went to the motel’s office, their
network showed up, but connecting to it did not allow me
to connect to the Internet. The motel’s computer connected
OK, but why the LG would not was unexplained. I had no
trouble connecting at home.
About: LG Netbook X120
Vendor: LG
Price: about $180 with 2 year contract
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 19
Finding Help In Windows & Windows Programs
By Ron Hirsch - Boca Raton Computer Society, Florida,, Ron Hirsch Articles tab
or, [email protected]
the help menu on the program in which you are
working. While not every window program has a
Windows and Windows programs actually
menu at the top of its operating window, the
have a tremendous amount of help and
majority of Windows programs do have this listing.
assistance built into the software.
Clicking on “HELP” will generally bring up a list of
Unfortunately, most users don’t know
various options. A very common option is an item
where to look, or don’t know how
which is labeled “index.” Clicking on this will bring
access this help. A good analogy
up a bunch of choices for you to select alphabetically
would be a man who drowned,
or by topic. You can click the help area you are
even though six people threw him
looking for, or generally type in the subject in the
life jackets. You may ask “Why
field which is presented, to have the program show
did he drown if he had all those
you what is offered.
life jackets?” The unfortunate fact is
A third, and largely overlooked
that he didn’t know what a life jacket was, or how
methods of obtaining information,
to use it.
is by right-clicking on the item in
How often have you needed help in a Windows
question. The protocol of rightprograms and didn’t know where to look? It just so
clicking to obtain information and
happens that Windows has lots of places that provide
other features is becoming more and more widespread
you with help. In the distant past, most software programs
in Windows and Windows programs. The three
came with lots of books, manuals and other printed
methods presented above can provide you with a
material. However, in those days, the cost of the
tremendous amount of assistance while working at
software was much higher and could easily absorb the
your computer. While these methods do not replace
cost of these manuals. In present times, the software
the need to use manuals, they offer the user the
industry has gotten extremely competitive, and cannot
opportunity to obtain help very rapidly via a few
afford to print elaborate manuals and include them with
simple mouse clicks. The best way to learn more
the product. But, a tremendous amount of help is readily
about this, and understand the protocols, is just to try
available to you, if you know where to look.
it. So, start clicking away and see what comes up.
Actually, the subject of help should actually be
broken up into two distinct categories. There is the PRINTED DOCUMENTATION
type of help you need when you’re working in a
Typically, programs come with a very short printed
program and something specific comes up that you are
document which includes just about enough information
not familiar with, and need assistance.
to help you install the program. Today, most installation
The other type of help is when you
disks are CD’s (or DVD’s), and of course, optical
need real beginner’s information on
disks have lots of space where other material in
how to learn and use the basic program
addition to the program itself can be stored. Sometimes,
the complete manual for the program is on the CD and
the installation process for the software actually sets
up an icon where you can click and have the manual
brought up. Some manufacturers however, just put the
manual on the CD and never let you know that it’s
Listed below are 3 methods for obtaining help and there. Of course, if you’re conversant with exploring
information instantly...
the contents of the CD by using Windows Explorer or
another file manager, you can take a quick look at the
1. The universal key in Windows to
listing of files and generally locating the manual is
obtain help is F1. In almost any
situation, whether it be in a specific program or fairly easy. Once you have the manual located, it will
just on the plain Windows desktop, using this key more than likely be in a PDF file, and you can read
will generally bring up a help screen in which you it on your machine, or print it out using your printer
can navigate and probably get answers to the if you so desire. If you feel that you are going to have
many reasons to continually use the manual, it probably
question at hand.
2. The second most important way to get help is to use pays to print it out. One thing you should be aware of,
however, is that manuals can often be several hundred
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 20
pages, and can take a considerable amount of time,
paper, and ink to print out. Also, the cost of printing the
manual can be substantial if there is lots of color used
on the pages. Printing out of a manual can run anywhere
from five cents to 20 cents a page, using your
own printer, depending upon the complexity and
use of color on the pages. Very often, for major
programs where there are third party books available,
it makes more sense to purchase a ready-made 3rd
party manual which will probably have even more
information than the manual on disk. This is true
mostly of those programs which are very widely used
such as Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect,
Photoshop, and similar programs.
Generally, when the manual is on the program’s CD, it is
often in a format called PDF, which stands for “portable
document format.” This format requires Adobe Acrobat
reader to view it on your computer. Most computers these
days have Adobe Acrobat reader already installed, as it is
a very widely used program. And, if you double-click on a
file that has a PDF extension, it will automatically launch
Acrobat Reader and the document in question will be
available for you to read, print, or whatever you would like
to do. Adobe Acrobat reader is part of the Adobe program
called “Acrobat”. This program has become universally
used for creating documents which can be distributed
widely, and easily read on any computer. The reader
portion of the program has been made available by Adobe
as a free utility.
If you decide to buy a manual, here again, you have a
variety of choices. Very often the software manufacturer
has manuals available which you can purchase directly
there. Unfortunately, these manuals may not be as good as
those which you can purchase directly from a book
supplier. A typical case in point is the manual for
WordPerfect. For many years, I have been using the
original WordPerfect manuals in addition to the third party
manuals produced by QUE Corp.. These QUE
WordPerfect manuals which are typically entitled “Special
Edition - using Corel WordPerfect X”, have been vastly
superior to those manuals which are available directly
from Corel, or whatever company currently owned the
WordPerfect product. The QUE manuals for WordPerfect
are generally over 1000 pages, very well-organized, and
offer extremely good value. Anytime I’m looking for a
manual for any program, QUE is my first choice.
With the Internet, and book stores like Barnes & Noble
or Amazon, finding books has become very simple task. Go
to the Web site, and do a search on the program name in
question. A listing will come up, with info on the book,
pricing, etc.. Then it’s a simple matter to make one’s
choice. While a local book seller may be able to provide
you with some of the choices, the Internet will have a far
greater number of choices available.
I hope the material presented here will assist you in using
your computer in more and better ways. To me, the secret
to getting any job done was never that one had to know
everything about everything associated with the task. But,
knowing where to look for answers to the things that you
aren’t familiar with, is the real key to success.
If you find this material useful, you may want to download
this article in PDF format, from our web site This allows readers to keep the material
either as a PDF file, and/or print it out, and place it in a
loose-leaf notebook for future reference.
HDTV Shopping Tip:
Consider Connectivity
Connectivity used to mean, “Does a TV have enough
of the ports your A/V equipment uses?” Having
enough A/V ports, such as HDMI (High-Definition
Multimedia Interface) 1.3, is still important, but today,
you should also look into an HDTV’s Internet
connectivity features. Most Web-enabled TVs can
connect to your home network router through an
Ethernet cable, powerline adapter, or wireless adapter
(all sold separately). Once online, they can access
content such as movie- and video-streaming services,
“widgets” that update you on weather or sports scores,
and a Web browser for general surfing without a
computer. Also look for support for other connections,
as they make a TV even more versatile. For example,
many sets can play video files and slideshows of
photos stored on USB devices and/or memory cards.
Set Up Outlook To Download
Click Tools and Accounts. Once the dialog box
has been displayed, go to the Mail tab and click Add
Mail. Follow the prompts, adding the required
information. When the Wizard asks you for your email
server name, you will need to know whether your
email is POP3 or IMAP; select the appropriate option
from the drop-down menu. The Incoming server is
usually the name of your ISP proceeded by POP3 or
IMAP (for example, or and the outgoing (SMTP)
server is normally the ISP name preceded by SMTP
( Your ISP will provide you
with your incoming and SMTP server information.
Your account name is the part of your email address
before the @ symbol. After you click finish, you
can compose, send, and receive email from
Microsoft Outlook.
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 21
Shopping Sites
By Terry Currier, President, WINNERS – WINdows usERS, California, WINNERS Notepad,
February - March 2010 Issue,, [email protected]
A combination auction, the arcade claw
game, and poker. Like an auction
because you bid on items they post. Like
the claw game you look to see what you
want and the best way to get it. Poker,
because it takes strategy, bluffing, and
money to win.
When you first go to Quibids you’re amazed at the prices
some of the items go for. Before you can get in on the
bidding, you’ll have to first register an account on Quibids.
When that is done you can buy bids. They come in
packages of 45 bids for $27, 75 bids for $45, 300 bids for
$180, and 600 bids for $360. So you can see each bid you
make will cost you 60 cents. Remember, purchasing bids
doesn’t guarantee you’ll win.
Then, like the claw game, you look for the items you
want and you have to decide when you are going to put
your bid in. Each of the auctions has a timer, a price, a
bidder name, a picture of the product, and a colored banner
with a cent number in the upper right corner. The timer
counts down consecutively until it gets below 0:20 seconds.
From that point on the timer will reset to 0:20 seconds
giving other bidders the chance to decide to make a final
bid. At first, the timer will reset to 0:20 seconds each time
a user bids on the auction. If the auction is still going after
a certain number of bids, they drop the timer to where it will
reset to 0:15 seconds each time a user bids on the auction.
Finally, if the auction is going on for too long, they drop the
timer to where it will reset to 0:10 seconds each time a user
bids on the item. When the timer reaches 0:00 the auction
ends and the last person to place a bid wins the right to
purchase the item for the final price.
Each auction has a specific amount that the price
increases each time a bid is placed. On a one cent auction
the final sale price will increase by $.01 each time that a
bid is placed. On a two cent auction the final sale price will
increase by $.02 each time that a bid is placed. The price
represents what the person who wins the auction will pay
if the auction were to end at that point.
You put a bid in by clicking on the bid button. Your bid will
be recorded and your name will show up as the highest
bidder. Each time that you are outbid by another user you
will need to manually click the bid button again in order to
bid. The poker strategy comes in where you think “I’m
tired of always biding, and being over bided. So I’m going
to let others push it up and I will come in later to win.” As
one of the tips from Quibids
“Know thy Competition. There may be some
bidders who are not going to let up, even if they
have to pay twice the retail price. For those
people...Well, we’re sorry to see them waste
those bids and money - Stop it! For the rest of
you, though, get to know those people and avoid
bidding in that same auction. Better yet, if you
notice a high amount of bidders in an auction, it
might be wise for you to walk away and wait
for another auction with fewer bidders.”
So what is the best strategy? Hey don’t ask me. I got
locked into a bidding war and bid up to $17.32 for a 1Tb
external hard drive add in the cost of the bids $33.60,
shipping cost $4.29 and it’s still a good price. I tried to get
another thinking I’ll wait till it gets a little higher, and it sold
for 35 cents. I’ve seen a 50" LG HDTV sold for $5.40. If
I knew the best strategy I’d have the netbook I’ve lost so
many bids on.
Even if you are unsuccessful in winning an item, you can
still apply any of the bids that you have used towards that
item and still buy it for the stated retail price. So far I’ve
won two 1Tb Western Digital drives, a wine bottle cooler,
and a Kodak movie camera. And, no I’m not ahead. Just
remember this is addicting and can be expensive.
I did find others sites like Quibids:
• BidCactus (www.bidcactus.
com) it does not have as many items
up for bid.
Beezid (
very much like Quibids, although
not as an attractive site. However
they even have cars in their auction.
A Ford Mustang GT 2010 coming
up on April 30. I noticed they say no bids taken runs
daily from 12:00pm EDT to 3:00am EDT, and will be
paused nightly from 3:01am EDT to 11:59am EDT.
Their bids cost 60 cent each also.
S w i p e B i d s
(w w w . s w i p e b i d s .
com) very much like them. They
have some very nice items up for bids. I noticed they
don’t mention how much some of
the items sold for previously.
BidBlink (www.bidblink.
com) only had 15 items up for bid
the whole day, and all of them
were gift cards.
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 22
A word of caution here. I have a friend who is addicted to
on-line coupons. She keeps getting spyware that messes
up her computer and wonders why. Make sure if you do
sign up for coupons it is from a reputable place.
I saw them talking about Groupon
( on Good
Morning America (GMA).
I saw these on ABC 7 news:
• D e a l t a k e r
I looked into it and signed up. It
is like a group coupon in that you
can get something for a good
discount if enough people
purchase the product or service; usually that is not problem.
I’ve seen many items that go way over the amount needed
to activate the discount. For example they had a full spa
treatment worth (they said) $129 for $50. It needed 50 to
activate, and over 300 brought it. I bought it for my wife
and she loved it. They did have one for a fitness boot camp,
I deleted that one. I had enough of boot camp in the army.
I actually like to look and see what they have in other cities
which I may go to: Tampa (for my sister), San Jose (for
friends), San Diego and Las Vegas (for fun).
You can browse through the
over 8,000 money saving coupons to all of your
favorite online stores. You are on your way to saving
money at over 1,900 stores. You’ll also be able to
connect with thousands of other shoppers just like
you who are also looking for the best deals on
everything from electronics to clothing.
Promotional Codes (w w w . Free
coupons for savings on specific
products, free shipping and a discount off
your total order can be found here. From
women’s apparel, to eHarmony promotional codes,
Dell coupons, HP coupons and Newegg coupons.
Selected offers include 1-800-Flowers coupons
codes, Vistaprint coupons and Tiny Prints promo
codes etc. They also have travel offers, coupons for
contact lenses, Home Decorators coupons and Target
coupon codes for furniture.
Coupon Winners (www.,
a project of, Inc., is an online
shopping website that works with nearly 7,000
retailers and provides thousands of free coupons
and promotional codes from top brand-names like
Macy’s, Target, Home Depot and more.
(w w w . get the
latest and most current coupons
and deals for online and in-store
shopping from hundreds of top
rated stores and 30 categories.
Karl Wester from the Temecula Valley
Computer User Group in California told
me about:
• Woot ( - They
have one deal per day, usually
good prices. Shipping is always $5
regardless of size. Be aware
though I’ve noticed most of the
items are refurbished. They also have, on the side
boxes, deals for kids on shirts, wine, and sellout
Judy Taylour from the Santa Clarita
Valley Computer Club in California,
told me of this one.
Truthfully I have downloaded some free software from
them, but never installed them.
• Giveaway of the Day
( Gives away
free different software everyday. You must install it
on the day they give it away.
• Freecycle Network (www. is a place
you can shop for free things that people in your area
want to get rid of, or you can post something you
want to give away. It is made up of 4,793 groups with
7,208,000 members across the globe. Membership
is free.
Terry Currier has been a member of computer
clubs since 1984. He is currently President of
WINNERS – WINdows usERS which meets in
Fountain Valley, California
He is retired and wears himself out trying to keep
up with his grandson.
In-store Recycling
Electronics that are beyond repair or are no longer
compatible with your current components don’t serve a
purpose around your home, other than taking up space.
If you’re ready to be rid of these obsolete items,
including DVD players, cell phones, and computers, call
around to local electronics stores. Often stores will take
in old electronics for recycling. Some stores will charge
a small recycling fee for submitting items with screens,
such as TVs and CRT monitors, but they’ll sometimes
supplement that charge with store credit.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 23
Offering Financial Services throughout the
Napa Valley; with offices in American
Canyon, Calistoga,
Napa, St. Helena
and Yountville
947 Lincoln Avenue
Napa, CA 94559-5066
(707) 299-1000 • [email protected]
N apa V alley Personal C omputer U sers G roup
Membership Application/Renewal *
‡ New
‡ Renewal
‡ Information Update
Please Print
Full Name: _____________________________
Nickname: _____________________________________________
Street/PO Box: ___________________________________________________________________________________
City: _______________________________ State: ____________ ZIP Code: ________________ - _______________
Phone (check preferred):
‡ Home: ____________ ( ____________ ) __________________________________
‡ Work: _____________ ( ____________ ) __________________________________
E-mail (check preferred):
Home: ________________________________________
Work: _________________________________________
Ocupation/Profession ______________________________________________________ Retired? _____________
Do you want to be added to the following NVPCUG e-mail lists?
‡ Yes ‡ No
News and announcements:
General discussion of computer-related topics: ‡ Yes ‡ No
If you do not want your preferred phone number and/or e-mail address published in the NVPCUG Directory,
which is for the exclusive use of NVPCUG members, check the appropriate box(es):
Do not list phone number
Do not list e-mail address
Family members whom you want to sponsor as Associate Members:
(Associate Members have the same membership rights as their sponsors,
except for receiving newsletters)
Full Name
E-mail Address
Annual Dues:
‡ $30
Regular Member - an individual who is not a full-time student
‡ $20
Student Member - a full-time student who is not eligible for Associate membership.
‡ $10
Associate Member - a family member of a Regular or Student member. Associate memberships run concurrently
with sponsors’ memberships.
Make check payable to:
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Mail application/renewal to:
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Attn.: Membership Director, P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286.
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your dues payment may be tax-deductible as a
charitable contribution.
* To request a Corporate Membership Application / Renewal form, e-mail:
[email protected]
NVPCUG Computer News, Sept 2010, Page 24
Revised 2-14-2010
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