August 2008

August 2008
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
http://www.
nvpcug.org
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
COMPUTER
NEWS
Volume 25, No. 8
Aug 2008
Inside This Issue
2
NVPCUG Special Interest Groups
2
NVPCUG Calendar
2
President’s Message
3
Officers List
4
Free Security, Data Recovery, and
Data Erasing Software for
Home Computers
5
Annual Members
Potluck Picnic:
August 23, 2008, 1:30 PM
6
Easy Media Creator 10 Suite
8
What’s a Good Computer to Buy?
9
Viewing WMFs on a Mac
10 Your Next Computer Will Be Green
11 For Anybody Who Has Thought
About Trying Linux
13 As You Like It - Music Formats
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group has served novice and
experienced computer users since 1983.
Through its monthly meetings,
newsletters, online forum, special
interest groups, mentor program and
community involvement, it has helped
educate people of all ages. The
NVPCUG provides opportunities for
people to find friends who share
common interests and experiences.
From January 2003 to October 2007
the NVPCUG provided 783 computers
and 140 printers to local schools.
Additional equipment has been given
to charitable nonprofit organizations
and to disadvantaged individuals.
The Aug Meeting
will present
Lisa Baker of Heritage Makers
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users
Group will meet Wednesday,
Aug 20, 7:00-9:00 P.M.,
at the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California
The meeting begins with Random Access, an openfloor question-and-answer period during which
attendees can ask questions about computers and
computer-related problems and receive helpful
information from other meeting attendees. Questions
may be submitted before the meeting by e-mailing them to Random
Access moderator Jerry Brown at [email protected]
This month there will be no Computer Tutor session. However,
please feel free to send your ideas for future sessions to the Computer
Tutor, Jeff Solomon at [email protected]
The main presenter, Lisa Baker, for the August meeting has
some interesting material to present. She has 25 years of
experience including operating her own Photography studio in
Orange County for the past 15 years. Her skills include B & W
darkroom experience, retouched portraits both traditionally and
digitally, and she has done restoration of old and damaged
photographs. Lisa comes to us to share her passion for helping
people to organize and insure that the photos
and memories of their lives are not lost.
More details about Lisa’s company, Heritage
Makers, are available at h t t p : \ \ w w w .
gotstorybooks.com. There you will find
how her company can help you make storybooks,
card, scrapbooks, calendars and posters of your
own photo treasures.
Could you use some practical information that would help you
make better use of your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests
are always welcome. Admission is always free.
Interested in becoming a member? See page 14 for application
information.
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008
NVPCUG
President’s Message
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
& MAC GROUP
In SIG meetings you can learn about
a subject in greater detail than is
feasible at NVPCUG general meetings.
SIG meetings are open to everyone.
Meeting times and locations
occasionally change, so for current
meeting information, see our Web
site, www.nvpcug.org, or contact
the SIG leaders.
Investors SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
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
ronrogersnapamug
@gmail.com
By Ron Dack, president, http://www.nvpcug.org/,
[email protected]
August 2008
The Annual NVPCUG Member’s Picnic is just a
couple weeks from now. Dianne Prior is
coordinating this event. Mark your calendars the
picnic will be on Saturday August 23rd from 1PM to
6PM at Dick & Sandy Peterson’s Family
Christmas Tree Farm 1120 Darms Lane, Napa. If you are a member and
you want to attend you should signup at the next meeting or better yet email Dianne Prior at [email protected]
This months meeting should be really interesting. Lisa Baker will be
showing us how to create a storybook including pictures and text about a loved
one or ourselves and how to publish it and get it printed. If you know of anybody
that might be interested, bring them along. As always this meeting is free and
open to the public.
It is time to look at nominating members to serve on the 2009 NVPCUG
Board of Directors if you are a member and are interested in serving or want
to nominate someone let one of the current directors know.
At the July General Meeting
the NVCTS donated an IBM
laptop to the NVPCUG. Orion
E. Hill, President of Napa Valley
Computers to Schools group
made the presentation to me
during the meeting. The
NVPCUG certainly appreciates
this donation and we will be using
this laptop for presentation
purposes. Thanks NVCTS!
If you have any comments or ideas about improving the group in any way let
me know. You can e-mail me at [email protected] I hope to see each
of you at the general meeting on Wednesday August 20th at 7PM at the Napa
Senior Activity Center and Saturday August 23rd at 1PM at the picnic. n
Take care,
NVPCUG General Meetings
Held the third Wednesday of each month, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
NVPCUG Calendar
Aug 20
Aug 23
Sept 3
Sept 8
Sept 10
Sept 11
Sept 17
Oct 15
7:00-9:00
1:30-5:30
7:00-9:00
5:30-7:30
7:00-8:30
6:30-8:30
7:00-9:00
7:00-9:00
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
p.m.
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
NVPCUG Users Group Picnic + D
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 General Meeting + A
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 2
Ron
Meeting Locations
A - Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
B - Piner’s Nursing Home,
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
C - Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
D - Peterson’s Family Christmas
Tree Farm, 1120 Darms
Lane, Napa.
Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group Contact Information
Officers for 2008
Board of Directors
President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Other Directors:
Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Dick Peterson
738-1812
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
253-2721
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Ron Dack, Jim Gray, Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman,
Kathy Slavens, Dean Unruh, Marcia Waddell, and Roy Wagner.
Jim Gray
unlisted
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
553-2114
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
252-1506
Greeter Coordinator
Kathy Slavens
[email protected]
[email protected]
251-9193
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Librarian
Dean Unruh
226-9164
[email protected]
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
224-2540
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell
252-2060
[email protected]
Programs Director
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
254-9607
[email protected]
Special Projects Director
VOLUNTEER NEEDED
[email protected]
Webmaster
Ron Dack
unlisted
Sales Coordinator
VOLUNTEER NEEDED
[email protected]
[email protected]
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 3
NVPCUG
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is
published monthly by
the Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group, Inc.
(NVPCUG), P.O. Box
2866, Napa, CA
94558-0286.
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected]
The material in
Computer News is
intended for
noncommercial
purposes and may not
be reproduced without
prior written permission,
except that permission
for reproducing articles,
with authors properly
credited, is granted to
other computer user
groups for their internal,
nonprofit use only. The
information in this
newsletter is believed
to be correct. However,
the NVPCUG can
assume neither
responsibility for errors
or omissions nor liability
for any damages
resulting from the use
or misuse of any
information.
The NVPCUG is an IRC
501(c)(3) tax-exempt
nonprofit educational
organization (EIN 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
international
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are
tax-deductible as
charitable contributions
to the extent allowed by
law. Copyright © 2007
by NVPCUG.
Free Security, Data Recovery, and Data
Erasing Software for Home Computers
Updated Aug 9, 2008
Recommended by Orion E. Hill, Computer Consultant, member of the NVPCUG,
http:\\www.nvpcug.org, [email protected]
partitions. If this limited features version cannot
Most of the following highly-regarded software products
recover your data, download the latest
are regularly upgraded. Use the most recent version of
commercial version (4.0) from the same web
each product. Many of the products use reference files
page. Note: Data that has been overwritten
that are often updated — some more than once weekly.
cannot be recovered.
Therefore, users should regularly check for updates and
install all found. Most of the products can be customized
to great advantage by setting various performance options. Malware (Malicious Software)
Detection and Removal
Most of the products are compatible with Microsoft
Windows 2000, 2003, XP, and Vista. Ensure that all of the HijackThis 2.02 by Trend Micro, Inc.
security updates for whichever operating system you use http://www.trendsecure.com/portal/enare installed on your computer. Also, ensure that all of the US/tools/security_tools/hijackthis/
updates for your application software are installed.
download
When keying software download site addresses into
Scans a user’s computer, generates a list of
your Internet browser, pay attention to the case of each
Windows registry and file settings commonly
letter. Capitalization can be significant. To avoid errors,
manipulated by malware (especially spyware),
copy the addresses into your browser.
and allows the user to decide what on the list is
illegitimate and needs to be removed or disabled.
Temporary File and Registry Cleaning
Inexperienced users are strongly advised to seek
CCleaner 2.09.618- Slim (build) by Piriform, Ltd.
help from experienced users before removing or
http://www.ccleaner.com/download/builds
disabling items. Removing or disabling legitimate
items can cause a user’s computer or its
Scans a user’s computer, removes temporary files
peripherals to stop working.
and, optionally, some unnecessary working files
that may contain private information, and fixes
Software Security Vulnerability
Windows registry issues.
Browser Hijacker Detection and
Removal
CWShredder 2.19 by Trend Micro, Inc.
http://us.trendmicro.com/us/products/
personal/CWShredder
Scans a user’s computer for versions of the
CoolWebSearch (CWS) browser hijacker and
destroys any found.
Data Recovery from Hard Drives and
Memory Cards
Handy Recovery 1.0 by SoftLogica, LLC
http://www.handyrecovery.com/
download.shtml (Free download link is near the
bottom of the web page.)
Scans and analyzes the contents of a user’s
computer disk drive or memory card and recovers
files damaged by virus attacks, software faults,
and power failures or files accidentally deleted,
including those from deleted and formatted
Assessment
Secunia Personal Software Inspector (Release
Candidate 3) 0.9.0.4 by Secunia
https://psi.secunia.com/
Scans and constantly monitors a user’s computer
to detect insecure software, both that for which
security updates are available and that at end-oflife, and provides Internet links for directly
downloading updates for any insecure software
found. This product monitors thousands of
applications and is one of the most useful
programs that you can have running on your
computer.
Firewall
ZoneAlarm Basic by Check Point Software
Technologies, Ltd.
http://www.zonealarm.com/store/
content/company/products/znalm/
freeDownload.jsp
Constantly provides bidirectional firewall
protection on a user’s computer. Inbound
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 4
protection safeguards the computer from hackers
who are trying to break into it by open ports.
Outbound protection provides warnings that a
possibly unauthorized program running on the
computer, such as a trojan, is trying to access the
Internet. Note: Multiple firewall programs should
not be running on a computer. ZA’s installer will
automatically turn off the firewall in Windows
2003, XP, and Vista.
System Security Assessment
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.1 by Microsoft
Corporation
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/
security/tools/mbsa2_1/default.mspx
Scans a user’s computer to detect security
misconfigurations and missing Microsoft software
security updates.
System Profiling
Belarc Advisor 7.2 by Belarc, Inc.
http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html
Scans a user’s computer and provides detailed
information about the computer, including brand,
model, version, serial number, product number, and
license data for all installed hardware and software.
Process Explorer 11.20 by Mark Russinovich
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/
sysinternals/bb896653.aspx
Scans a user’s computer, provides information
about software processes that are open or loaded
and the names of their controlling programs, and
allows the user to selectively kill processes.
Adware and Spyware Detection and Removal
Ad-aware 2008, Version 7.1.0.10, by Lavasoft AB
http://lavasoft.com/single/
trialpay.php
Scans a user’s computer for adware and spyware
and removes any detected.
Spybot - Search & Destroy 1.5.2.2 by Safer
Networking, Ltd.
http://www.spybot.info/en/mirrors/
index.html
Scans a user’s computer for adware and spyware
and removes any detected. An immunization
feature allows the user to immunize a computer
against some spyware by downloading and adding
lists of Internet domains known to contain harmful
content to Internet Explorer’s Restricted zone; it
also adds options for blocking spyware, spyware
installers, and known tracking cookies.
Virus and Spyware Detection and Removal
AVG Anti-Virus 8.0 Free Edition by AVG Technologies
(formerly Grisoft)
http://free.grisoft.com/
ww.download?prd=afe
Scans a user’s computer for viruses and spyware
and removes any detected. Note: Multiple anti-virus
programs should not be installed on a computer.
Hard Drive Erasing
[email protected] KillDisk 5.0 by LSoft Technologies, Inc.
http://www.killdisk.com/
downloadfree.htm
Erases data and formats a user’s computer hard
drive without the possibility of data recovery.
DOS application can be run from a boot disk. To
avoid accidental use, do not install this product on
your computer hard drive.
„
Annual Members
Potluck Picnic:
August 23, 2008, 1:30 PM
Thank you to Dick and Sandy Peterson for again
hosting our August Members Potluck Picnic. The
location is in the redwood grove by the pond at
Peterson’s Family Christmas Tree Farm, 1120 Darms
Lane in Napa. The date is Saturday, August 23rd
from 1:30-5:30 PM. Mike Ball will oversee the
barbequing of NVPCUG supplied steaks & chicken.
The group will also provide nonalcoholic beverages
& ice, paper plates,
cups, plastic ware, &
napkins. Alcoholic
beverages are BYOB.
There will be games &
prizes as well as time
to visit with old friends
and make new ones.
Signups will be
available until our
August 20th meeting. You may e-mail me before
then at [email protected] with “NVPCUG
Picnic” in the subject, telling me the member’s
name, who will be attending with you, what you are
bringing for the potluck (we need some appetizers),
and if you can help with setup at 1:00 or cleanup.
The potluck picnic is always a lot of fun and the food
is great and plentiful. We hope to see you all there.
Coordinator Dianne Prior (252-1506),
[email protected]
„
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 5
Easy Media Creator 10 Suite
By Ron Dack, member of the NVPCUG, http://www.nvpcug.org/,
[email protected]
entire suite is broken down into
click on icons. I began by launching
each of the included applications,
utilities, and assistants just to see
what they do.
Breakdown
Here is a breakdown of some of
the included applications:
BackonTrack 3: A system restore and backup
program that lets you restore your system to a
stable state in the event of a disasters like system
crashes and virus attacks, replace individual lost
or corrupted files, and backup your data.
CinePlayer: View your video files and commercial
Built in Modules
DVD movies on your computer. This is one of my
When NVPCUG’s Review Coordinator Susy Ball told
favorite apps because I can stop working for a
me she was getting a copy of Roxio’s media creation
while and watch a favorite movie or part of a
software for review I agreed to use the program and write
movie like “Dirty Harry” when Clint said “Do
the article about my experience with it for the “Computer
you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?”
News”. I have used previous versions of the software and
Creator Classic: In this app I can do all
found them to be highly useful.
the CD setups and burns that I did in the 3
Shortly after Susy gave me the
previous versions I owned. In fact I use
software I installed Roxio Easy
this app to make the disks the NVPCUG
Media Creator 10 Suite on my
distributes for donations at the meetings.
Intel P4 XP-SP2 desktop computer
Label Creator: I have never gotten into
with no problems what so ever.
labeling my CDs and DVDs. A couple
When I opened the program a
experts at Philips Electronics
registration form came up and after
(developer of the CD) told me that paper
entering my name and e-mail
labels have a tendency to unbalance the
address it connected to the Roxio Cue Music Composer
disk and can damage the player.
website and I became a registered
Media Manager: This application makes it
owner. Just to see if I had the current version I clicked on
easy to import digital media from almost any
the check for updates menu and after a few seconds I was
source, create albums, slide shows and share
informed that I had the latest version.
these via print, e-mail, CD/DVD, etc. It also will
I then looked at this new version and found it to be much
sync this data with almost any other device
more than a simple program to burn CDs and DVDs. I also
including flash drives, hard drives, I-pods, etc.
found that if and when I finally upgrade to Microsoft
Music Disk Creator: Lets you create music disks in
Vista this version is ready for it.
numerous formats and from any source you can
Easy Media Creator 10 Suite is in fact an entire suite
connect to your computer including the web,
of useful programs. The first thing that started when I
stereo system, CD/DVD, mic, and midi.
clicked the shortcut icon was Roxio Central where the
MyDVD: Create your own DVD
movie. Capture/Import media
and edit, add, and configure
your DVD the way you want
it.
PhotoSuite: A complete photo
program included so you can
enhance, correct, and repair
Everything but the Kitchen Sync
Go-Go Gadgets
photos before you put them
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 6
on MyDVD, a
CD, save them
to your hard
drive, or print
them.
Sound Editor:
Clean up that
sound tract or
recording
before you add
redesigned interface
it to your
project. Complete audio editing.
Video Copy & Convert: Copy video from multiple
sources, compile and convert it to a single format
before you burn it to a DVD.
VideoWave: Layout your video frame by frame. Add
text, transitions, effects, backgrounds, overlays,
audio, and
photos.
That is just a brief
description of the
most prominent
applications that are
included in Easy
Media Creator 10
Suite.
Utilities
There are numerous
Step-By-Step Structure
utilities included to
help you accomplish your projects whether they are audio,
video, or safety. Below is a list of some of these utilities:
Audio Converter – Changes audio file formats
(MP3, MP4, WAV, etc.)
Audio Tag Editor – Add the artist name, title, album
name, etc.
AutoMix – Work with track lists
CineMagic – Fully automated editor that helps you
take raw video and audio and create a final
polished production.
Create Panoramas – Stitches a series of photos into
a panorama.
DVD Music Assistant – Create a DVD music
video disk.
Disc Image Loader – Disc Image Loader lets you
create emulated drives and load disc image files
to emulated drives.
Easy Audio Capture – Assists in capturing audio
from different audio sources
LP & Tape Assistant – Assists you in getting audio
from these sources
Media Import – Using Media Import, you can
copy or record all types of media formats to
your computer—including digital photos, video,
audio, and DVD movie titles.
Multi Photo Enhance – You can use this assistant
to edit multiple photos in one easy step.
So far I have found this suite highly useful for every
media related project I have done since installation.
Minimum System requirements:
• Windows Vista with 1.6 GHz Intel Processor; 512
MB RAM
• Windows XP with 500 MHz processor or faster;
128 MB RAM
• 1 GB of free hard disk space for installation of all
components
• 1024x768, 16-bit color graphics card
• For DVD, slideshow or video authoring; 1.6 GHz
Intel P4 or equivalent; 512 MB RAM
• DirectX 9 or higher compatible sound card and
graphics card
• Windows Media Player 10 or greater
• Internet Explorer 6.0 or greater with JavaScript
enabled for reading Help and Tutorial files.
• A disc recorder equipped with BURN-Proof
technology.
• For all recorders:
500 MHz processor, or faster
Bus-mastering EIDE controller
DMA enabled on the hard drive
The only thing I didn’t care for was when I installed
the new version it removed the old CinePlayer but left
the rest of the old version installed. I am hesitant to
uninstall the old version because there may be shared
files that I want to keep. Even so the Roxio Easy
Media Creator 10 Suite is operating just fine and I
am finding new things it will handle every time I run it.
If you are planning to burn some music CD’s or create
a DVD movie I recommend that you upgrade to this
version and complete your project the easy way. It is
available at Costco for around $79.
„
Non-stop music
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 7
What’s a Good Computer to Buy?
Some Tips by Doug Fairchild, Director, Exton PC Council, PA, www.extonpccouncil.org,
[email protected]
better understanding of problems related to
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
VISTA see: http://blogs.zdnet.com/
Ou/?p=785
As a person who is active with a computer user’s group
and who has had formal training in Windows 2000 and
It is definitely true that some peripherals like
Windows XP, I’m often asked “what computer should I
various printers and some other devices do not
get?”
work with VISTA. However, it needs to be said
that at some point, progress needs to preclude
This is an age old question in terms of computer technology
older technology. For example, how many people
time. Almost any professional that provides unbiased
can work on their automobiles like they used to. It
advise will tell you that it is not an easy answer. The first
takes much more sophisticated and expensive
question that comes to mind is, what do you intend to do
equipment. To see what devices will be affected
with it?
by VISTA, download and run upgrade advisor.
Many persons, who are not involved with what’s current,
Even though you are not upgrading but
do not really know just what’s encompassed with their
considering a new computer this will let you know
regular routines. A typical answer is, “I don’t do that much
what devices will be affected by VISTA.
and don’t need an elaborate machine”.
http://www.microsoft.com/
It seems to me that as technology advances, more and
windows/products/windowsvista/
more uses will become commonplace requiring more
buyorupgrade/upgradeadvisor.mspx
oomph from the computer being bought today. Therefore,
my recommendations focus on a machine that is good
CPU - PROCESSOR - Intel® Core™2 Duo or
enough for now, with specifications that would hopefully
AMD equivalent. http://www.intel.com/ - http:/
add enough to carry over for a little time to come.
/www.amd.com/us-en/
Any professional who keeps up with technical publications
RAM (base memory) – Window XP -1GB (or more
can tell you that ratings change faster than the weather.
– consider 2GB) – Vista -2GB(or more)
Also, new machines and technology keep changing.
The type and specifics will be controlled by the
So how’s a person to choose?
computer model you select. One consideration is
Typically, in the past, the common time frame was to
to allow for expansion at a later date. Check to
hope for a machine that would last 5 years before being
see if there are open slots to add additional
outdated. Today, the best equation I can offer is that it’s like
memory. It can be worthwhile and can save in the
buying a new car. How much can you live with, before
long run to pay a little more upfront by having the
getting something that has great new features?
memory configured to allow for this upgrade.
While Windows Vista states 1GB as minimum,
With that being said, let’s look at the core components of
you probably will want 2GB.
a computer with what, in my opinion would be the minimum
for a Windows machine to last for a little while. These
VRAM - Video Ram (Memory on your graphics
choices are based on using equipment with name brand
card) – 256MB (or more)
components and include web sites where applicable for
This is frequently ignored by inexperienced
further research of these products. I strongly recommend
shoppers, but can make a world of difference on
that if you are considering an alternate to name brands, you
the performance of a PC. For a detailed
research that brand.
explanation see http://
Some comments about Apple computers follow after the
searchstorage.techtarget.com/
discussion on recommendations for Windows machines.
sDefinition/
OPERATING SYSTEM – Windows XP (any
0,,sid5_gci213325,00.html
version) – Windows VISTA (Home Premium or
A few popular graphic card manufacturers:
better)
http://ati.amd.com/products/
index.html, http://pny.com/,
Since the release of VISTA, many computers are
http://nvidia.com/
still being offered with Windows XP. VISTA
Home basic is considered by most professional
HARD DRIVE – 100GB (or more)
reviewers as less desirable than any version of
Most new hard drives use a newer type of
Windows XP. While there has been a lot of
interface referred to as SATA (Serial ATA). Look
VISTA bashing, some of the derogatory
for this specification unless you have an older
statements are not true. For clarification and a
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 8
hard drive you wish to use in your new computer
(which is more likely a PATA (Parallel ATA)).
One of the newest technologies is a FLASH
Hard Drive. Currently this is primarily for
notebooks (laptops). It has some definite
advantages but also some drawbacks. It’s
expensive and has limited capacity. It may be the
upcoming future of Hard Drives. See http://
www.pcworld.com/article/
id,126833/article.html for a PC World
review.
A couple of popular hard drive manufacturers:
http://seagate.com/ (note that Maxtor
has been acquired by Seagate Technology)
http://westerndigital.com/
POWER SUPPLY – Varies with the devices built
into the computer. If you believe that you may be
adding internal devices, consider a computer with
a power supply that has more capacity than
needed for preconfigured devices. This can be a
little complicated, but should be an answerable
question to the person selling the computer (get
someone who has technical awareness). For an
explanation of the power supply see: http://
computer.howstuffworks.com/
power-supply.htm
There is also an excellent video at this site to gain
a basic understanding of the core components.
MOTHERBOARD – Normally this will be
controlled by the computer model you select
unless you are purchasing with the option to
customize. Being aware and specifying the other
core components listed, the motherboard should
be suitable and not normally something you
choose independently. If you are buying a
desktop, you may want to inquire about available
PCI slots or other expansion capabilities. In the
past, this has afforded the ability to economically
install hardware upgrades which may keep your
machine current for a longer period of time.
Laptops do not, as a rule, offer the same
capability to expand and upgrade other than
memory and optical drives.
OPTICAL DRIVE AND OTHER PERIPHIALS
– There are many choices and most computers
today offer a DVD drive with read/write (this is
the ability to play and create DVD and CD
disks). Ask what it has and what it will do – also
compared to other options.
Notes on Apple Computers - While I do not have
firsthand knowledge about Mac (by Apple)
computers, the reviews and information I’ve seen
tends to make me believe that the new Mac’s are
superior to many other brands of PC’s. I would
emphasize new versus computers manufactured
prior to 2007. One of the indicators that this is
true, is the fact that while sales of other PC
manufactures are falling, Mac’s have realized an
increase in sales. They are, however, more
expensive.
If I had the money I would look seriously at a
new Mac with the idea of loading Windows as a
second OS (operating system). Mac has a feature
called Boot Camp which accommodates adding
other OS’s. Boot Camp is software included with
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard that lets you run
compatible versions of Microsoft Windows on an
Intel-based Mac. While they do not offer
technical support for other OS’s, Mac’s will run
multiple OS’s (including VISTA) as well as other
PC OS. You, of course, have to own or buy the
additional OS’s to be installed. See: http://
www.apple.com/
Notes on Linux OS – Again, I do not have firsthand
knowledge about Linux OS’s. However, I’ve
been led to believe that they make a lot fewer
demands on the computer. From what I’ve heard,
you probably in most cases do not need a new
computer to install and run. For more information
see http://www.linux.org/
„
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Viewing WMFs on a Mac
Many Windows video programs, such as, Windows Movie
Maker, only to make WMV (Windows Movie Video) videos
and slide shows into which could only be viewed by friends
with Windows computers. However many have Mac
friends, too. Member Bernard Krevet tells us of a new
download that can help.
The download url is http://
www.videolan.org/vlc/.
Definition (from Wikipedia): VLC media
player is a free software media player written by
the VideoLAN project. It is a portable
multimedia player, encoder, and streamer
supporting many audio and video codecs and file
formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various
streaming protocols. It is able to stream over
networks and to transcode multimedia files and
save them into various different formats. VLC
used to stand for VideoLAN Client, but that
meaning is now deprecated.
It is one of the most platform-independent players
available, with versions for BeOS, Syllable, BSD, Linux,
Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, MorphOS, Solaris and
Windows CE, and is widely used with over 85 million
downloads for version 0.8.6.
„
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 9
Your Next Computer Will Be Green
By Marjie Tucker, Editor, Mountain Computer User Group, GA, www.mcug.org [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
With Europe leading the way, the computer industry
is decidedly becoming “green.” The Waste Electrical
and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Restriction
of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) directives went
into effect earlier this year. These two directives
state that certain electrical and electronic equipment
must cut down on hazardous materials such as lead,
mercury, and cadmium. They
also give customers the right
to return their equipment free
of charge. Companies have
several years to fully
implement these directives,
but the leaders have already
started to make changes.
Dell, for example, is advertising
Energy Smart workstations and
notebooks that can reduce power
consumption by as much as 78%.
The Energy Smart configuration uses a default power
setting that is designed to reduce consumption and energy
costs right out of the box. In addition, the power supply, fan,
and motherboard use significantly less energy to maintain
cool internal temperatures.
HP is using 80 Plus power supplies to lower energy
bills and AMD technology that reduces heat output and
PC power consumption. In addition, they have already
introduced an HP recycling program where you can
trade-in or donate the products.
Government Initiatives Many U.S. government
agencies have implemented standards and regulations
to encourage green computing. The Environmental
Protection Agency launched an Energy Star program in
1992 and strengthened its requirements in 2006. In 2003
the California State Senate enacted the Electronic
Waste Recycling Act and in 2007 President Bush issued
Executive Order 13423 requiring all federal agencies to
use the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment
Tool when purchasing computer systems. In addition, a
global consortium called The Green Grid was founded
in 2007 by AMD, APC, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft,
Rackable Systems, SprayCool, Sun and VMware.
Another initiative formed by a group of Global-minded
IT executives, the Green Computing Impact Organization
(GCIO), was created to be an active participant in
transforming the IT community from an environmental
liability to an Earth conscious example of responsibility.
GCIO is a nonprofit organization that is based on
environmental audit programs for consumers and small
business homes with respect to general energy-efficiency
programs (including lighting, heating, insulation, etc.).
GCIO’s mission is to educate and assist enterprise
technology users in the design of environmentally aware
and responsible information system operations. They
help consumers become more environmentally
responsible by reducing energy consumption and
electronic waste in an effort to protect the Earth.
GCIO is sponsoring educational programs across the
country and participating in a Green
Computing Summit that will be held
in Washington, DC on May 20th. The
summit will address how public sector
IT managers, procurement officials,
and program managers public sector
professionals can transform their IT
and data center operations into more
environmentally conscious yet
efficient solutions. This conference
will attract senior government IT
professionals and their industry partners tasked with
helping agencies become greener in the coming years.
Attendees will represent federal, state and local
governments, public policy organizations and suppliers
to government. You can read more about this event at
w w w . e - g o v . c o m / E v e n t
Overview.aspx?Event=SGCS08.
Features of Green Computing
Power management is the most popular method. The
operating system of the computer can be set to directly
control the power saving aspects of the hardware. It
can automatically turn off the monitor or hard drive
after a period of inactivity. Or, the entire system may
hibernate, turning off most of the components such as
even allow the user to manually adjust the voltages
supplied to the CPU to reduce the electricity consumption
and the amount of heat that is produced. As of July of
2007, all new Energy Star certified desktops must have
a power supply that is at least 80% efficient.
Other features include using motherboard video output
instead of a video card, hard disks that consume less
power, flash based solid state drives that require fewer
write cycles, and lower energy monitors. And,
manufacturers of networking equipment are developing
switches and routers that reduce energy costs.
Recycling Materials
Obsolete computers can be reused for charities, nonprofit organizations, and developing countries. Parts
from really old systems can be recycled through some
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 10
recycling centers. Some recycling charges can be passed
back to the manufacturers.
Recycling this equipment keeps the lead, mercury,
and chromium out of our landfills. In addition, computer
supplies such as cartridges, paper, and batteries can be
easily recycled.
How Can We Work Greener?
Visit the website for Climate Savers Smart Computing
at sww.climatesaverscomputing.org to view a three
step program to go green. Here are the basic steps that
they suggest:
Step One - Turn on Power Management.
Since the average desktop PC wastes nearly
50% of the energy it consumes as heat, it
makes sense to use the power management
features that are built into Windows XP and
Vista. The benefits? You will reduce your
electricity bills and your energy footprint will be
lowered as you reduce your greenhouse gas
emissions. The Climate Savers organization
predicts that the power management features
on your computer can save nearly have a ton
of CO2 and more than $60 a year in
Step Two - Buy an energy efficient computer.
Energy Star, the program designed by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, specifies the
standards that equipment and appliances must
meet to wear the Energy Star badge. You can
visit their website at www.energystar.org for
specifics. Basically an Energy Star compliant
PC uses 15 to 25 percent less energy. This
program is expected to save U.S. consumers
and businesses more than $1.8 billion in energy
costs over the next five years and prevent
greenhouse gas emission equal to 2.7 million
vehicles.
Step Three – Unplug from phantom power. As
long as your computer is plugged in it still uses
electricity, even while it is turned off or in
standby mode. A computer that is turned off,
but still plugged in, can use up to 10 watts. The
Climate Savers estimate that you can reduce
your electricity bills by as much as 10% by
unplugging your appliances and electronics
when they’re not being used.
„
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
For Anybody Who Has Thought About
Trying Linux
By Drew Kwashnak, Linux SIG Leader, Danbury Area Computer Society, CT, www.dacs.org,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for I have been very pleased with the speed with which their
publication by APCUG member groups.
CDs arrive. Alternatively, the website contains links to
For anybody who has thought about trying Linux, it has vendors where you can buy the CDs from under $5 to
become easier than ever before with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS more, and they can handle large orders as well.
Hardy Heron. As with most Linux distributions, Ubuntu is
Once you have your CD in your hot little hands, trying
available as a free download and is freely distributable. It Ubuntu is as simple as placing it in your CD-ROM tray and
is even available already installed on Dell computers. The rebooting your system. If system will boot from the CD
most common method is downloading the ISO image from and after a short moment you’ll be greeted with the Ubuntu
Ubuntu’s website (http://www.ubuntu. com) and welcome screen. If you want to “try before you buy,” then
burning it onto a CD.
you can choose the default “Try Ubuntu without any
From the site, you can download the Desktop version or changes to your computer” and your hard drive will not be
Server for 32-bit and 64-bit systems. There is even an touched during your session unless you choose to. You
option to download what is called an alternative version don’t even need a hard drive to select this option; you just
which is just the installer and does not include the LiveCD will not be able to install it from the session.
portion, which also includes an installer. If you are like me,
If you are more certain or just daring then you can go
until a couple months ago, and living on dial-up or you do straight into the installer and in about 60 minutes (45
not have a CD burner handy or just don’t want to put in that minutes if you know what Different Strokes For Anybody
much effort then you can order a free CD through the
corporate sponsor of Ubuntu, Canonical, ShipIt department.
Linux cont. on Page 12
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 11
Linux cont. from Page 11
Who Has Thought About Trying Linux by Drew Kwashnak
you are doing) you’re booting to your new Ubuntu
installation.
Ubuntu will scan your hardware and load the modules
and drivers necessary for your system. If you have
hardware that has proprietary drivers available, Linux
cannot include them in the CD for legal reasons. Ubuntu
works around this by providing a Restricted Drivers tool
that lists all such hardware found on your system and
provides the ability to download and install the necessary
drivers in a click or two, legally.
Now that you have Ubuntu up and running on your system,
what can you do? Plenty! Ubuntu brings you a fullfeatured
operating system complete with:
• Firefox 3.05 beta web browser
• OpenOffice.org 2.4 full featured office suite
compatible with pre-Office 2007 Word, Excel,
PowerPoint and some Access files.
• Evolution personal information manager for email
and calendar goodness, a Microsoft Outlook user
can feel comfortable with. There is even plug-ins
to allow Evolution to access existing Microsoft
Exchange servers.
• Pidgin multi-protocol instant messenger including
Yahoo, MSN, AIM, Jabber, IRC and more.
• Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a
powerful Photoshop-like image editing program
that includes filters, layers and a host of goodies.
• F-Spot image manager for categorizing and minor
editing of all of your pictures as well as easily
importing pictures from your digital camera.
• And much, MUCH more…
If Ubuntu doesn’t come with a particular application,
thousands of free applications are available from the
Ubuntu online repository which are easily installed
and updated from the Synaptic package manager.
When you decide to install Ubuntu onto your hard drive
or virtual machine you only need to click the “Install” icon
on the desktop to start the process. After seven or so easy
questions the installer will copy the files over to the hard
disk. Depending on your system’s speed this could take
about 60 minutes, more or less. It will even detect if you
have Windows installed and offer to transfer over your
files and compatible settings from your Windows accounts!
Of course, if the limitations of the LiveCD, such as
settings are not saved from session to session, and you are
hesitant to partition and install the full operating system on
your hard drive Ubuntu offers yet another alternative
called Wubi. Wubi is, from the Ubuntu website: “Wubi is an
officially supported Ubuntu installer for Windows users
that can bring you to the Linux world with a single click.
Wubi allows you to install and uninstall Ubuntu as any other
Windows application, in a simple and safe way.
Are you curious about Linux and Ubuntu? Trying them
out has never been easier!” Wubi can be downloaded as an
.exe file directly. With Linux the installation is not the end,
only the beginning! Whether you try the LiveCD, Wubi or
a full installation you will find a wealth of quality applications,
refreshing freedom and a community unlike any other! If
you have problems, questions or want to find out more then
you need look no further than the third Wednesday of every
month for the DACS Linux SIG at 7:30 p.m. in the DACS
Resource Center!
Drew Kwashnak: Has been losing more nights of sleep
with Linux since 2002 and just can’t keep from downloading
and trying the latest versions! When not working with
Linux he works with ASP.NET and Microsoft SQL Server
for a small financial company. He is also the DACS Linux
SIG leader and a father of 3.
Links:
Ubuntu:
http://www.ubuntu.com
Get Ubuntu:
http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu
ShipIt:
https://shipit.ubuntu.com/ „
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Screen Flicker
One of the causes of screen flicker, especially on CRT
(cathode-ray tube) monitors, is a screen refresh rate
that is set too low. In general, it’s best to set the refresh
rate to the highest possible setting. In WinXP rightclick the Desktop, click Properties, choose the Settings
tab, click the Advanced button, and choose the
Monitor tab. If you see a Hide Modes That This
Monitor Cannot Display checkbox, select it. In the
Screen Refresh Rate drop-down menu, select the
highest possible rate available. Click Apply, and if
prompted, click Yes to keep the new settings. Click
OK to close the dialog boxes and save your settings.
In Win98 right-click the Desktop, click Properties,
choose the Settings tab, click the Advanced button,
and choose theAdapter tab. Select the highest refresh
rate from the drop-down menu, click Apply and OK.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 12
As You Like It
All About Music File Formats
By Seth Colaner, From Smart Computing February 2008 • Vol.19 Issue 2, Page(s) 50-52
in print issue, http:\\www.smartcomputing.com
Although there is a host of
ways to categorize audio
file formats, the most
pertinent method for most
people is by how audio
files save information.
Using this guideline, there
are three types of audio
files: uncompressed,
lossless, and lossy.
While
these
are
technical terms, they are
also
conveniently
descriptive. Thinking in terms of compression, an
uncompressed file is just that: not compressed.
Compression is the efficient reorganization of data
or removal of data to reduce a file’s size. An
uncompressed file is saved without
adulteration; it’s raw data. A
lossless file is one that has been
compressed but has not lost any
information. Lossy compression
removes information in the raw
file that is essentially redundant or
unnecessary. Doing so degrades
the quality of the file’s sound,
causing it to “lose” some of its
information.
By contrast, open file types such as Ogg Vorbis and
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) can be used on
any product that is configured to play them. Makers
of proprietary audio file formats, such as Apple and
Microsoft, do not usually configure their products to
play open formats because it would enable consumers
to acquire their music from any source. Most device
manufacturers, however, configure their products to
play open formats because, in most cases, they
aren’t beholden to any particular music service.
Uncompressed
Audio files that are uncompressed are higher-quality
than files that have been compressed. They are also
much larger, because none of the raw data has been
altered or removed.
This is a boon to audiophiles
who demand the highest possible
quality from their music, as
well as music professionals who
need to mix, edit, and process
audio. The downside is that
uncompressed files take up gobs
of space—an uncompressed
audio file will be about 10MB
per minute of recording,
depending on sample rate and
bit depth. Sample rate
is the f r e q u e n c y a t w h i c h
Open vs. Proprietary
With firmware from Rockbox
measurements are taken from a
(www.rockbox.org), you can play
A second tier of audio file
continuous signal. Bit depth
open-source audio files on a
categorization is whether a file
indicates how precise those
wide variety of digital music
type is open or proprietary. Open
measurements are. AIFF (Audio
players, such as the Sansa e200
file types are not restricted by
Interchange File Format)
pictured here.
patents or DRM (digital rights
a n d u n c o m p r e s s e d WAV
management), whereas a proprietary type of format (Waveform), the two most popular uncompressed
has been designed and copyrighted by a company. file formats, were developed by Apple and Microsoft,
This allows companies to, among other things, steer r e s p e c t i v e l y, i n c o l l a b o r a t i o n w i t h o t h e r
consumers toward their products and embed DRM manufacturers. Oddly, both file types will play on
protections into the files they sell. (For more Windows Media Player, as well as iTunes. Because
information on DRM and the role it plays in digital of the large file sizes, however, they are more practical
music, see “Who Put The DRM In Digital Music?” on for other applications, such as recording and editing.
page 53, February 2008 • Vol.19 Issue 2.)
Indeed, both file types are frequently used by music
For example, if you buy a song in WMA (Windows professionals.
Media Audio), Microsoft’s proprietary audio format,
it won’t play on iTunes (made by Apple) without
being converted or decoded in some way.
Music Formats cont. on page 15
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 13
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Display
The image or
text viewed
on a monitor.
More recently,
display has become
synonymous with the monitor
itself, particularly when
referring to flat panel displays.
This Daily Term is reprinted with permission
from
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Computing.
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NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 14
Music Formats cont. from page 13
Lossless
Lossless compression can be a bit difficult to
understand; after all, how can a file be compressed
yet not lose any information? Think of lossless files
as being similar to ZIP files: Although unzipped files
may be quite large, they can be packaged (zipped) so
that they take up very little space when being
transported or downloaded. Once they arrive at their
destination, the user unzips them, and nothing in the
files has been lost.
Because lossless files still contain, in some capacity,
all the same raw data as an uncompressed file, they
can only be reduced in size up to about 50%. While
that leaves file sizes a little bulky (a three-minute
song could be as large as 15MB), such a significant
reduction in file size still gives you the ability to store
twice as much audio without sacrificing quality.
ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), WMA
Lossless, FLAC, and WAV are popular lossless
formats. ALAC belongs to Apple, and WMA is strictly
for Microsoft and compatible products, but WAV
(even though it was originally developed primarily by
Microsoft) and FLAC are open formats. FLAC was
developed by the Xiph.Org Foundation, which also
gave the world Ogg Vorbis. Like Ogg Vorbis, FLAC
is open-source and is supported by a host of devices,
including the iPod and the Xbox, although sometimes
third-party software or firmware support is required.
Lossy
Working with lossy
formats requires
some give-and-take.
While these formats
significantly reduce file
sizes, rendering audio
more portable and
space-efficient, quality
is lost. Granted, most
of the lost information
is unnecessary — for iTunes supports most
example, the removal audio formats, but forget
of frequencies beyond about playing DRMthe capability of human protected WMA
hearing — but that (Windows Media Audio)
information is gone files on it.
forever. Should you decide to apply audio effects or re-edit
such files, it could illuminate that missing information in a
negative way.
Still, for everyday enjoyment of music, most listeners
never notice the differences among lossy audio files
and their higher-quality counterparts. Between the
lower-quality media and generally noisy environments,
even discerning ears can’t always tell the difference
between lossy and uncompressed audio when listening
to music with ear buds or in the car. The difference
can be heard primarily when listening on a highquality home stereo system or with good headphones
in a quiet environment.
The primary advantage of lossy compression is
size. The files are significantly smaller than the
original recording, around 80 to 95%. Their petite
package means they take up substantially less space
and are therefore faster to download. They’re also
easier to transport; you can fit many more of these
files on a flash drive or digital music player, and
they’re more likely to be small enough (under 10MB)
to send as email attachments.
Lossy file types include Ogg Vorbis and AAC
(Advanced Audio Coding), but the most famous of
the bunch is MP3. The MP3 format has become so
popular that its name has become a misnomer for
products; as tissues are often known as Kleenex,
digital music players are frequently referred to as
MP3 players. RealAudio is another hugely popular
lossy format, but it’s usually reserved for streaming,
as from an Internet radio station.
Which Is Best?
There is no one “best” audio format. Each type exists
for a reason, and different file types are better or
best depending on the situation. Uncompressed files
will have the highest quality; if you edit audio files or
crave perfection, this type is best. You get the best of
both worlds—smaller size without sacrificing the
quality—with lossless files. Lossy files are best if
you’re concerned with storage space and download
times. Apart from those three categories, the “best”
audio files are the ones that work with your software
and hardware.
Defining Codecs
It’s a common misconception that codecs and file
formats are the same thing. A codec (compressor/
decompressor) is actually a computer program or a
device that encodes and decodes digital data, while a
format is a medium for storing the data. Take Ogg
Vorbis for example: Ogg is the actual file format, while
Vorbis is the codec that decodes the file so it can play.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing.
Visit www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to
learn what Smart Computing can do for you and
your user group!
Chart of Music Formats follows on see page 16.
NVPCUG Computer News, Aug 2008, Page 15
All About Music File Formats
More from Smart Computing
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