December 2007

December 2007
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
Volume 24, No. 12
December 2007
Inside This Issue
You’re Invited to Join
the Dec. Meeting,
A Holiday Potluck
The Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group will meet
Wednesday, December 19,
at 6:30 P.M.,
at the Peterson’s
Family Christmas Tree Farm
1120 Darms Lane, Napa, California
Bring a potluck dish (plus BYOB)
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 752 computers
and 139 printers to local schools.
Additional equipment has been given
to charitable nonprofit organizations
and to disadvantaged individuals.
R.S.V.P. to Dianne Prior at [email protected]
or 252-1506 (If sending email put “NVPCUG Picnic” in the subject
Let Dianne know your name, how many people are attending with you,
what you are bringing for the potluck, and if you can bring extra folding
chairs or help with setup or cleanup.
• The Computer Users Group will provide nonalcoholic
beverages, paper plates, cups, plastic ware, & napkins.
• At this event we will introduce the new officers and present
the member of the year award.
This is a time to visit with old friends and make new ones. We
hope to see you all there. The party is always a lot of fun and the
food is great and plentiful.
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.
Intersted in becoming a member?
See page 14 for application information.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007
President’s Message
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. M e e t i n g t i m e s a n d
locations occasionally change, so
for current meeting information, see
our Web site,, 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]
Macintosh SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Thursday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Leader: Jim Gillespie
(707) 252-1665
By Ron Dack, president,,
[email protected]
2007 has been an interesting year in the life of the Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group. The members of the Board of Directors have faced
many complex and difficult issues. NVPCUG has finally become an
established IRC 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We have faced and dealt with
organizational, tax, and many operational issues. The board members worked
hard to resolve all these complicated problems and took the actions that I
believe best served the organization.
Of course we didn’t just deal with highly volatile situations we also managed
to have some excellent, interesting, and valuable meetings, presentations,
and a great picnic.
I want to thank all those who served on the 2007 Board of Directors for a job
well done. The members of that board are Susy Ball, Jerry Brown, Jim
Gillespie, Bernhard Krevet, Ken Manfree, Dick Peterson, Dianne Prior,
Bob Simmerman, Kathy Slavens, Jeff Solomon, Dean Unruh, Marcia
Waddell, Roy Wagner, and for part of the year Jim Stirling. Oh, that’s right,
I was a member of that board, too.(editor’s note: so let’s give him a pat on the
back too) Many of these same people have been elected to the 2008 Board
of Directors and I look forward to working with them in the coming year.
As I said in my November message even if you are not serving on the 2008
Board of Directors there are many jobs you can do or help to do.
As the webmaster I am still looking for someone who would be willing to
assist me in maintaining our “New Hot Links” page on the website.
There are also several other jobs that will be available for you to handle or
assist in. So if you are interested in getting involved and really enjoying our
group you can e-mail me at P r e s i d e n t @ n v p c u g . o r g or
[email protected] and let me know what you are interested in.
Our December 19, 2007 meeting will be our Member’s Annual Holiday Party
meeting that is a potluck BYOB event. Other than introducing the 2008
Officers and Board of Directors and acknowledging the Member of the Year
recipient the meeting will be a chance to visit with old friends, make new
friends, enjoy some great food and drink, hang out in front of a warm fire in
a beautifully decorated room, and just have fun. I hope to see all of you at
that meeting. Once again it will be held at Dick & Sandy Peterson’s
Christmas Tree Farm 1120 Darms Lane, Napa beginning at 6:30PM. Thank
you Dick and Sandy for continuing to make your Christmas House available
for this event.
Don’t forget if you are a NVPCUG member and you want to attend the
Holiday Party Potluck dinner on December 19, 2007 let Dianne Prior know
you are going to attend and what potluck dish you will be bringing to share.
You can contact Dianne at [email protected]
[email protected]
Take care and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
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
Dec 19
Jan 2
Jan 9
Jan 10
Jan 14
Jan 16
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
NVPCUG Holiday Pary, Peterson’s Family Christmas Tree Farm, 1120 Darms Lane, Napa
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Digital Photography SIG meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Macintosh SIG meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Investors SIG meeting, Jerry Brown’s home, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
NVPCUG General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group
Officers for 2007
Board of Directors
Vice President
Other Directors:
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Jerry Brown
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Jim Gillespie, Bernhard Krevet, Ken Manfree,
Dick Peterson, Dianne Prior, Bob Simmerman, Kathy Slavens,
Jeff Solomon, Dean Unruh
Appointed Officers
Computer Recycling Coordinator
Ken Manfree
[email protected]
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
[email protected]
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Dean Unruh
[email protected]
Membership Director
Dianne Prior
[email protected]
Mentor Program Coordinator
Dick Peterson
[email protected]
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell
[email protected]
Programs Director
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
[email protected]
Special Projects Director
Jeff Solomon
[email protected]
[email protected]
Ron Dack
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 3
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is
published monthly by
the Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group, Inc.
(NVPCUG), P.O. Box
2866, Napa, CA
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected]
The material in
Computer News is
intended for
purposes and may not
be reproduced without
prior written permission,
except that permission
for reproducing articles,
with authors properly
credited, is granted to
other computer user
groups for their internal,
nonprofit use only. The
information in this
newsletter is believed
to be correct. However,
the NVPCUG can
assume neither
responsibility for errors
or omissions nor liability
for any damages
resulting from the use
or misuse of any
The NVPCUG is an IRC
501(c)(3) tax-exempt
nonprofit educational
organization (EIN 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are
tax-deductible as
charitable contributions
to the extent allowed by
law. Copyright © 2007
10 Commandments for Online Shopping
By Robert Spotswood, a Member of HAL-PC, Texas,,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for a virus scanner. Grisoft ( offers
both free AVG anti-virus software and an AVG antipublication by APCUG member groups
spyware program. Supplement the AVG spyware program
with both Spybot (
Navigating the Minefield
Ad-aware ( No one
Just as flies are attracted to a fresh pile of manure, so are
program catches everything, so you need to
criminals attracted to large amounts of money. With online
to be really sure.
shopping sales at an estimated $132 billion in 2006, the
Don’t use Internet Explorer, but use Firefox or Opera
number of online crooks trying to steal from you has
instead. Internet Explorer’s bad track record plus being
grown, too.
Body text: But just because there are crooks out there actively targeted make it an unsafe choice. While neither
doesn’t mean you have to give up online shopping. While Firefox nor Opera are perfect, their track records are far
there is no such thing as perfect security, and anyone who better than Internet Explorer.
McAfee offers a neat, and free, plug-in for both
tells you differently is either lying or deluded, there are
things you can do to stack the odds in your favor. The Firefox and Internet Explorer called Siteadvisor
following 10 online shopping commandments will help ( McAfee has tested a huge
you enjoy the benefits while minimizing the risks of number of websites for bad stuff. This plug-in shows you
the results of those tests in a little bar at the bottom of the
online shopping.
browser window. A green site was safe when last tested,
while a red site has serious problems (stay away!), and a
I. Understand the Risks
If you get most of your information from the mass media, yellow site has some issues, but not bad enough to warrant
you will likely be sadly misinformed. While major data a red rating. A few sites are gray, which means they haven’t
breeches make headlines, most identity theft sails under been tested. As Siteadvisor integrates with your browser,
the media’s radar. By definition, “news” means that it it will even add a color-coded rating symbol next to your
hardly ever happens. Despite the widespread belief that search results if you use Google, Yahoo, or MSN. This
seems to be promoted by the mass media that identity theft helps you avoid problems, and malware, in the first place.
Stay up-to-date with your patches, and consider some
occurs primary online, in truth, most occurs offline.
of firewall software, even if it’s an external device.
According to a 2004 study by Javelin Strategy &
never use a computer you don’t trust for online
Research, 72% of the identity theft cases studied occurred
offline, while only 12% started online, with the rest shopping or banking, especially a public computer. You
undetermined ( never know how well it’s taken care of, and, being public,
articles/article.ext?sp=29). Further, the study even the best care won’t catch everything.
found that those who used the Internet to keep tabs on their
bank accounts and credit cards lost only $551 on average, III. Shop around
while those that stuck to more traditional paper statements Unless what you’re looking for is obscure, there is going
to be more than one store selling it. This is especially true
averaged losses of $4,543.
As you can see, using the Internet to shop and for with name brand, popular items. Remember that with
banking isn’t automatically dangerous, and offline usage online shopping, visiting multiple stores is quick and easy.
isn’t automatically safe. While you should exercise care, The range of prices can vary considerably on the exact
don’t let unfounded fears stop you from enjoying all the same item.
When comparing prices, don’t forget to compare shipping
benefits of online shopping (and banking).
costs and methods, too. Sometimes a company that charges
a little more may offer free shipping, versus a company
II. Keep your computer clean
Viruses, spyware, and trojans, oh my! If the bad guys have that charges less but has high shipping rates.
their software planted on the computer you use to go
shopping (or banking), you lose. No matter how careful IV. Don’t trust that lock
you are with your financial and credit card info on the Just because your web browser shows the SSL symbol,
Internet, if the bad guys can see your every move, every such as a closed lock or key, that doesn’t mean everything
is safe. First, what type of encryption is being used? 128
keystroke, then the bad guys win.
Start protecting yourself by having and regularly updating bit is considered the minimum standard today, with
some sites using 256 bit AES encryption, but that
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 4
doesn’t stop sites from using older, poorer encryption,
such as 40 bit. If the website can’t get at least 128 bit, don’t
trust them to do anything else correctly either.
SSL depends on certificates in order to work. Is the
certificate issued to the company you think you’re dealing
with? For instance,’s certificate says it was
issued to Inc. This is what is expected.
However, suppose the web site, buyme.cxm, certificate
reads ABC company. Is something fishy going on? If you
just looked at the lock, you might think everything is OK.
Since very few people bother to check the certificate, a
bad guy can cause your browser to display a legitimate
lock, while you’re at a different site than you think you
are.. Anti-phishing tools are making this harder to do, but
by no means impossible.
In one case, I wrote to a company I was going to order
from because the certificate didn’t match the company
name it should. According to the reply I got back, the
certificate was legitimate, and I was the first person to
write them about it in the two years it had been up. The
certificate was soon fixed.
However, just because the certificate name does not
match the website name doesn’t automatically mean
something is wrong. Certificates are expensive. Sometimes
companies will use their parent companies certificates to
save money. Some websites use their web host’s certificate
to save money or if they don’t really need SSL and the web
host sets this up automatically.
You can see the certificate’s details for yourself in
Firefox by left clicking on the lock in the address bar. This
opens a window where you then click on details to see the
certificate information. In the pictures below, the SSL
lock is there, but the certificate does not match the site
name (ignore any warning that comes up for this example).
This is because the SSL certificate belongs to the web
host, and not the website. This is an example of the website
owner not needing SSL, so he went with the web host’s
certificate. The figures were collected using Firefox.
Figure 1: To view the certificate, click on the lock
Figure 2: Click on view to see the names. Notice this
certificate uses 256 bit encryption.
Figure 3: Do the names look correct for the website?
V. Check out the company
Unlike brick and mortar stores, where the purchase is
pretty much a simultaneous exchange of money and
goods, online shops demand payment upfront. They then
ship the items to you in good condition, you hope.
Thankfully, you are not defenseless.
There are more than a few sites out on the web that allow
users to post reviews of not just the items, but the stores.
Six such sites that do this are:,,,,,
and, where others who have
bought from the company before you can post their
experiences. However, you should never just look at the
average rating to make your decision on whether or not to
do business with this company. The ratings can be
The first thing to consider is how many ratings. The
average of 1000 ratings is more telling of what to expect
than the average of 2 ratings. But the number of ratings
isn’t the only thing to consider. How far back do the
ratings go? A store that gets 1000 ratings but only goes
back 2 months either does a huge amount of business, or
is faking their own ratings, probably the latter.
Then you have to look at the ratings themselves. Scummy
stores are not above posting positive ratings about
themselves. One tell-tale sign of this is that many to most
of the positive ratings all read the same, as if someone had
copied and pasted. Detailed ratings have much more
credibility. This is why it’s important to scan the ratings,
and sort from highest to low. If you see this sort of thing,
stay away from the store! Any store that needs to post
10 Commandments cont. on page 6
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 5
10 Commandments cont.from page 5
positive ratings about itself is a store you don’t want to do
business with.
The other thing to consider is the low ratings. Why were
they given low ratings? Are the low ratings detailed, or do
they look like they are copied and pasted? Rival stores
(especially scummy rivals) are not above posting bad
ratings about a good store to drive business away from the
good store and hopefully to themselves.
Remember, just because the store is listed on one of the
major shopping sites mentioned above doesn’t mean it is
a good store. Another way to check on a store is to use a
major search engine like Google or Yahoo. If others have
had bad experiences with the store, it’s likely the search
engines will find some mention of it.
VI. Use credit cards, not debit cards
It is important to understand that despite the Visa or
MasterCard logo sported by almost all debit cards, they
are not the same as credit cards, especially online. There
are important protections you have by law with credit
cards that don’t apply to debit cards.
If you buy something that’s damaged or defective and
you use a credit card, you can withhold payment under the
Fair Credit Billing Act, both online and offline. You must
make a good-faith effort to solve the problem with the
merchant first. However, if you can’t resolve it, contact
your credit card company and they will investigate the
problem. If the card company sides with you, which will
probably happen if you have a reasonable case, the charge
won’t be added to your bill. However, purchases made
with debit cards are not covered under the Fair Credit
Billing Act. Good luck getting your money back!
Some credit cards offer extended warranties and other
protections for large purchases made on the card. This
does vary by card, so check with all your credit card
companies, if you have more than one, before buying to
see which will give you the best deal. No debit card doing
this could be found while researching this article.
Credit cards have a maximum of $50 liability if you
report the problem promptly. While your maximum direct
liability with a debit card is $500 by law, this only applies
if you notify the bank more than 48 hours after you learn
of the problem. Some banks promise to limit the liability
to $50, but there are numerous reports that not all banks
honor that promise.
But the real danger with debit cards is they are a direct
line to your checking account. A thief can drain it all,
including any overdraft line of credit. While you may get
most of the money back, in the meantime, you don’t have
access to your money. It could take the bank 10 days or
more to refund your money. In the meantime, you can have
checks bouncing all over town, along with the bounced
check fees, and possible embarrassment.
Blocking is also a bigger problem with debit cards than
credit cards. Some places, such as hotels, gas stations, and
rent-a-car agencies, among others, will contact the company
that issued your card to give an estimated total of the bill,
their estimated total. If the transaction is approved, your
available credit (credit card) or the balance in your bank
account (debit card) is reduced by this amount. That’s a
“block.” Some companies also call this placing a “hold”
on those amounts. Hotels and rental car companies often
add anticipated charges for “incidentals” like food,
beverages, or gasoline to the blocked amount. If you are
close to your checking account limit, which is far more
common than with credit limits of credit cards, you can
bounce checks even with enough money in the bank, while
waiting for the block to be released.
Credit cards offer you much better protection than debit
cards, especially online. Never use a debit card for online
VII. Zero liability sounds better than it is
Protecting your credit card accounts is more important
than most people realize. Some people think just because
your liability with credit cards is limited to a maximum of
$50, taking precautions isn’t worth the effort. After all,
that $50 is only if the card itself is stolen rather than just
the number, and most credit card companies tend to waive
that for good customers, although you might have to call
and ask. So you might believe the maximum loss with a
stolen credit card is only $50 as an extreme worst case
scenario. Wrong!
Depending on how the card issuer handles things, they
may close the current account and reopen a new, identical
account for you, with a new card number (flipping the
account). While to most people this is not a change in your
credit status, it will affect your credit score. Your credit
score is partially based on how long the various revolving
accounts (like credit cards) have been open. Length of
time accounts have been open makes up roughly 15% of
your credit score. New accounts will actually cause your
credit score to go down, especially if the previous account
was open for years.
Your credit score touches more parts of your life than
most people realize. Applying for a new car loan, home
mortgage, or other loan? A flipped account means you
could pay more or even not get the loan. Insurance
companies are starting to base rates partially on credit
scores. A flipped account means your rates can go up.
Some employers check credit scores before hiring or
promoting. Having a flipped account could make the
difference between getting and not getting that position
you want. Your credit score is also looked at when you
connect utilities, try to rent an apartment, or even buy a cell
phone. Lower scores mean higher prices or you have to
buy a lesser model, if the sale happens at all.
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 6
As you can see, even if your direct liability is $0, you
still want to protect your account information. Having
your number stolen can cost you indirectly in ways most
people don’t realize. Even if the new account isn’t reported
as new, you still have to wait for the new card to use it
again. It is worth the effort to protect your card number.
VIII. Protecting Your Credit Card
So how do you protect your credit card number online?
After all, you have to give them your card number to make
the purchase, right? Well, for some cards, no. Let me
Some credit card issuers have special programs where
you can get “temporary” card numbers. By using these,
your real number never goes out on the web, and hence is
much harder to steal. This means you don’t need to worry
much about how secure the store keeps its servers. These
numbers can also be canceled if the shop tries to play
games with your number. For example, according to
Thomas Hawk, PriceRitePhoto threatened to bill his credit
card $100 if he posted a negative review
( Using a
“temporary” card number shuts these and other games
down very quickly.
In addition, the “temporary” card numbers can be used
for phone orders, or even mail orders, not just online
orders. However, trying to use one at a brick and mortar
store is not recommended. Cashiers really don’t like it if
you pull out a piece of paper with a credit card number
written on it and try to pay with that.
Do not confuse the temporary card numbers with the
“Verified by Visa” program. The Verified by Visa program
does not work with all online stores, only those signed up
for the program. It also doesn’t help you with phone or
mail in orders.
So how do you get a “temporary” card number? It
depends on who issued your credit card. However, in
every case, you must have a credit card with the bank, and
must create an online account. Out of the 5 largest credit
card issuers in the United States, neither Chase nor Capital
One offer a temporary card numbers. Discover, Bank of
America, and Citi all offer temporary numbers.
Discover Card ( offers
Secure Online Account Numbers, which are temporary
numbers linked back to your real number. The credit limit
and expiration date are the same as your real card. The
temporary number even includes the CVV code for websites
that think it provides any real security. (The CVV is not
random, but generated by a formula based on your credit
card number. Do not assume the criminals don’t know the
formula.) According to the Discover Card website, “A
secure account number can only be used at the retailer
where it was first used—it can’t be used anywhere else. If
the secure account number is stolen, you can deactivate it
without canceling your actual Discover Card Account.”
Of course, since it can only be used at one place, its value
if stolen is far less than that of a regular number. These
numbers can be used for recurring charges and automatic
bill pay, provided the merchant does not change.
Unfortunately, the Secure Online Account Numbers
page is rather hidden. To find it, you have to go the
Discover Card home page, scroll down, then click on
“Security Center”. Scroll down on the new page and near
the bottom you will find a “Create a Secure Number”
button. Click on that to get started. A new window opens
and the username and password are the same as your
online account. This works with both Internet Explorer,
Firefox, and even with Firefox on Linux. You should be
aware that based on an admittedly small sample size, the
first time you use one of these numbers, you will trigger a
fraud alert with Discover. Be prepared for the phone call.
Bank of America (BoA) credit card holders can use
BoA’s Shopsafe program. With this program you have to
sign in to Online Banking at or which is a redirect to https:// (both are BoA sites). From
there you can create the temporary card number. You can
set the credit limit and expiration date for each number. It
is only good for one merchant, but can be used for
recurring charges at that merchant. It is known to work
with Windows and Macs, and to work with Netscape 8.1,
which is based on Firefox, so Firefox should work as well.
Citi refused to respond to questions about whether or not
they even had a temporary number program. However, a
HAL-PC member who has a Citi card did offer the
following: “...I wanted to mention (since they didn’t
bother to respond to your question) that Citi does indeed
have virtual credit card numbers...The card numbers have
one-month expirations and can be closed by the cardholder once the transaction has been posted. They can be
monitored and managed on-line through the Citi card
holder’s account.” As these temporary numbers have onemonth expirations, they are not suitable for recurring
charges. It is also known that the Citi website does not
work correctly with Firefox, and therefore Linux users are
out of luck.
IX. Close the Browser
Due to the nature of the web protocol (AKA HTTP
protocol), it is necessary to temporarily store your credit
card information in a cookie. The cookie is encrypted, and
almost never written to disk. When the session (think
conversation) ends, the cookie is automatically purged
and so is the key to decrypt it. So when you end your
transaction, and leave the website, your credit card info is
gone right? Not necessarily.
10 Commandments cont. on page 8
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 7
Welcome to the world of cross-selling. Cross-selling is
where a legitimate merchant (or their shopping cart vendor,
often without informing the merchant) cuts a deal with
another company to add a link to the transaction complete
page. But this is no ordinary link.
This link actually continues the session, so your credit
card info is still available. The link may entice you with
something like “Click here to claim your $10 Cash Back
Reward on your next purchase!”. If you click the link,
buried somewhere on the page, usually you will have to
scroll down to see it, is a checked box saying something
like “Sign me up”.
As if that wasn’t sneaky enough, there is some JavaScript
on the page so if you then close the browser or navigate
away from the page, the on-exit script kicks in and
completes your “order” with the credit card info from the
legitimate merchant’s session. Any e-mail they send you
(as required by law), if they send one at all, has a subject
line designed to trip every spam filter out there so you will
never see it.
Usually there is a 60-90 day free trial before the billing
starts in order to hide the source of the billing. The billing
is small to avoid scrutiny, and the description is often
obfuscated. The billing is also recurring. One company
that does this is and the charges currently
There are two good defenses against this sort of scam.
First, when the page comes up that says your transaction
is complete, close the browser. Don’t navigate to
somewhere else, just close the browser and reopen it.
Second, use temporary card numbers if possible. Since
both Discover and BoA temporary card numbers are only
good for one merchant, the billings will be automatically
rejected. You can cancel that particular number for good
measure if necessary.
X. Use common sense
Finally, consider the price. If one store is way below all the
others selling the exact same item, there’s a reason, and it
is usually not a good one! Someone once told me the
following about investing, “Lost opportunities almost
always come round again, but lost money never does.” It
applies equally on online dealing. If it seems too good to
be true, pass it by.
Robert Spotswood, a HAL-PC member, is active in the Linux
SIG and a freelance computer professional. He can be
reached at robert(at)
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).
s Note:
Since I am formatting this
newsletter while visiting in Texas, I thought it was
appropriate to send you some info that was submitted
by our friends in Texas.
A Laptop for the
By Vinny La Bash, a regular columnist and
member of the Sarasota Personal Computer
Users Group, Inc., Florida,
[email protected],
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
In June of 2005, monthly laptop sales exceeded desktop
sales for the first time. Since then, the popularity of laptops
has continued to gain. Improved battery life, manufacturing
quality, larger disk drives, and enhanced video have all
contributed to make laptops more attractive. Laptops are
replacing desktops in homes and corporate offices.
Competitive pressures have lowered consumer prices.
Unfortunately, these pressures have not always seen a
corresponding increase in quality. Low prices are all too
often directly related to cost cutting, and that means you
stand a good chance of ending up with a dud if you buy a
laptop off-the-shelf. Laptops should be manufactured for
real world usage and applications. Here’s what to look for
if and when you decide that a laptop is for you.
The chances are good that your new laptop will have
some version of Vista installed. Unless you are a business
professional with high security needs, Vista Home
Premium will be your best choice. There are other
operating systems such as Linux, but these generally
require more expertise than Vista, and Vista handles more
applications than all the others combined.
Some vendors proudly proclaim that their laptops come
with one full gigabyte of RAM. That’s about as desirable
as a one bedroom apartment for a family of six. You can do
it, but why bother when RAM is so cheap? Two gigabytes
will suffice for most people who don’t need video editing
or other memory intense applications. If you think you
need more memory, you probably do. Why not simply
order their laptop with four gigabytes of RAM? You will
never have to wonder if you have enough, and it won’t bust
your budget.
A low priced laptop won’t come with a high powered
CPU. Don’t settle for a portable that takes ten minutes to
boot up, and doesn’t have the muscle for your applications.
Look for Intel’s Core 2 Duo CPU. Not only does it have
excellent performance, it generates less heat, and uses less
energy. You will have all the power you need to run
multiple applications simultaneously, and you’ll get longer
battery life as a bonus.
Video has been a weak spot with laptops because most
portables use video graphics integrated with the mother
board. Integrated video robs main memory from the CPU,
degrading performance. Insist on a laptop with at least 128
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 8
MB of onboard RAM. If your video requirements are
high, 256 MB is even better.
If you use your portable for extensive travel,
you may not want a 17" screen. Think about
how you will cope with crowded and
cramped airplanes. How often will
you have to remove it from its
protective case for baggage and
customs inspectors? If you travel
often, a 12" display may be
best. If not, go for the big
You want at least four
USB 2.x ports. These are
probably the most useful
ports you can have on a
machine, and you
can’t have too many
of them. With them
you can plug and unplug
devices without having to turn
your computer off and reboot. They
reliably support “plug and play” which
means that after you connect a new device to
your system through a USB port, Vista automatically
detects and installs the device making it instantly
Apple developed Firewire to be a broadband connection
for streaming data devices like camcorders, DVD players,
and digital audio equipment. It became especially popular
after it was standardized as IEEE-1394. Lower priced
laptops usually are missing this port.
With broadband everywhere, a standard RJ-45 NIC 8
pin female connector should be standard equipment. It is
used to connect LAN (local area network), broadband
cable modems, DSL modems or routers. Standard RJ-11
jacks are still available for dialup modems, but if you
have broadband, there is no need for this obsolete option.
Get at least 1 PCMCIA card slot. Once there is a newer
and faster wireless standard, you can upgrade easily if
you need the additional speed.
An IrDA port can be very useful for transmitting data
between your laptop and various devices such as PDA
phones. They are fast, convenient, and wireless. Their
only drawback is that they are line-of-sight devices.
Infrared doesn’t transmit around corners or through
walls. The devices have to see each other to work.
If you plan to hook up your laptop to a wide screen
digital monitor projector you need a DVI (Digital Video
Interface) port. Digital monitors are far superior to their
analog counterparts. The DVI port allows a pure digital
signal to flow from the laptop to the monitor. A superior
image is displayed because there is no signal degradation
due to digital to analog conversion.
Some laptops may have parallel, serial or standard VGA
ports. Before buying your laptop examine the technical
specifications to ensure it has the ports you consider essential.
8 0 2 . 11 g c a p a b i l i t y
should be required in every
laptop. Since there is no
such requirement you need
to consult the technical
Don’t make battery life a
deal killer. It is undoubtedly
important, but if the laptop
you’re considering has
everything else you want
and need, consider buying
a spare battery. Carrying
multiple batteries can be a
real hassle considering the
extra weight involved. Ask if
you can upgrade to a 12-cell
battery. Most standard laptop
batteries are either 6 cells or 9 cells.
Larger batteries almost always last longer.
If it makes sense, go for the big one.
Laptops are cheaper than ever, but that doesn’t mean that
the cheapest laptop is the one that’s best for you. Examine
the specifications, test drive it if you can, then make your
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).
Photo IDs
Get the little ones in on the action of gift giving.
Instead of using a traditional To/From tag, get creative.
Print out a few of your favorite digital photos and ask
the kids to cut out pictures of the recipient and your
family. Then, paste the cutouts onto the package to
display the giver and receiver. This is especially
great if you have a niece or nephew graduating and
want to involve your kids. Even if your little princess
is still learning her ABCs, she’ll know who the gift
is for by “reading” the picture tag.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing.
to learn what
Smart Computing
can do for you and
your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 9
FBI Asks “How Aware Are You of the
Dangers of the ‘Net?”
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont TX; Radio and TV Show
Host, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups
This is not the column that I had originally prepared for
publication this week. As regular readers may know, I
frequently lecture on computer security topics, and have
written numerous columns on security topics over the
years. While many of us surf the net oblivious to the online
threats that face us, many others are aware of the threats,
and sadly, many have learned of the threats the hard way.
The online threats that we face on a regular basis have not
been lost on our federal government leadership.
FBI Director Mueller recently gave a speech at Penn
State University where he warned about the cyber threats
that we all face. He started his speech talking about the
recent World Series, where the tickets for the Rockies’
home games were initially unavailable online because
some hacker had made the website inaccessible. He
referenced the cyber attack against the country of Estonia
last spring, where a coordinated attack from computers
around the world, “… shut down banks and emergency
phone lines, gas stations and grocery stores, newspapers
and television stations, even the prime minister’s office.”
Director Mueller went on to explain the effect of a similar
attack here in the United States, “If we lose the Internet, we
do not simply lose the ability to e-mail or to surf the web.
We lose access to our data. We lose our connectivity. We
lose our intellectual property. We lose our security. What
happens when the so-called ‘Invisible Man’ locks us out of
our own homes, our offices, and our information?” This
brings up the question, “…given the growing presence of
the web in our personal and professional lives, how aware
are you of the risks of attack via the Internet?”
In his speech, Director Mueller was poignant in
describing the situation that is facing us online. There
were several key points in his speech that require some
additional discussion. One point he made was, “The
growing intersection of terror and the web.” He described
the case of Younis Tsouli, who went by the screen name
“Terrorist 007”, who was an al Qaeda webmaster. Taking
advantage of most of the contemporary online threats that
we all face, Tsouli broke into servers to get the data
bandwidth he needed to carry out his nefarious schemes,
and used “phishing” (authentic appearing but counterfeit
websites to steal personal information), to steal credit card
and personal information. With these purloined credit card
numbers and personal information, he managed to purchase
over $3 million worth of deadly supplies and equipment
for terrorists. Tsouli also created a website “You bomb it”
patterned after the popular “YouTube”, which he hoped
would become a centralized website for terrorists to
exchange information. Director Mueller explained that
local internet service providers could unknowingly run a
server that is helping terrorists, and that we, as the innocent
victims of identity theft, could end up financing terrorist
Another threat facing us, according to Director Mueller,
is “The rise of bots”, where networks of computers are
unknowingly taken over for nefarious purposes. One of
the most common ways of taking over a computer is to
plant a type of Trojan on the computer referred to as a
“zombie”, which effectively makes the infected computer
a zombie under the control of persons unknown. According
to recent security statements, some “bots” consist of over
a million infected computers. It is well known in cyber
security circles that the many variants of the Storm Worm,
which is still spreading to infect countless computers,
mostly through email attachments, has created millions of
zombies. While many of these bots are currently being
used to spread spam email, generating riches for the “bot
masters” or “bot herders” who sell their purloined capacity,
there are more dangerous uses of bots. It is important to
note that owners of zombie infected computers are unaware
that their computers are infected, and are a component of
an illicit bot spreading spam and chaos to other computers.
Director Mueller stated, “Once under their thumbs, these
networks can wreak all kinds of havoc, from shutting
down a power grid to flooding an emergency call center
with millions of spam messages.”
“Hackers are using sophisticated techniques to steal
sensitive intelligence, scientific research, and
communications data.” This is what the Director is calling
“the invisible man” where an unknown cyber intruder
oversees everything on a network, including what people
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 10
are typing, and reading any files stored on a computer or
on a network. Since most cyber intruders will never leave
any indication that they have viewed your files, stolen
your passwords, and copied your critical and confidential
data, you will never even know that you have been
victimized and your data has been compromised. Once
victimized in this manner, you will never know how much
damage has been done, maybe until it is too late.
The federal government is actively fighting international
cyber terrorists, and contemporary news accounts are rife
with stories about criminal and espionage cyber attacks
from China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, and other unfriendly
countries. Despite governmental attempts to secure our
computer infrastructure, much of the responsibility falls
upon us individually. We must accept responsibility for
the safety and security of our own computers. As has been
appealed many times in this column before, we absolutely
must have updated defenses in play on our personal
computers. Antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewall software
are imperative on our computers; after all, it is the personal
computer that is the target of the zombie Trojan, and it is
millions of personal computers like your and mine that
make up these huge bots that can wreak such havoc.
For those who would be interested in seeing what a
cyber attack warning might look like, an unofficial Israeli
website that disseminates anti-terrorism information, the
“DEBKAfile”, has recently posted such a warning about
a massive upcoming cyber attack on the US
( I
am typing this prior to the date of this next alleged “cyber
jihad” attack on the United States (November 11, Veterans’
Day) and you will certainly be reading this column after
that date. I hope that this warning, as have many other such
warnings, turned out to be false. In fact, several security
authorities such as McAfee, and Computerworld magazine,
have argued that the DEBKAfile warning is a hoax, and
that the information presented is unreliable. Another
publication, Government Computer News, also belittled
the warning, but the column that said that had the subtitle,
“Don’t cancel your day off yet” (
online/vol1_no1/45386-1.html). This cyber
attack warning is but one example of what Director
Mueller is warning about.
Since the antivirus and anti-spyware on our computers
can be compromised or neutralized by a zombie that slips
through our defenses, it is a good idea to perform a free
online security scan from one of the many available. My
two personal favorites are Trend Micro’s Housecall
(, and Microsoft’s
online OneCare at (click on the shield in
the middle of the window). A successful scan by either or
both of these services will likely indicate that your computer
is clean of viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, and zombies.
Make sure your firewall is installed and updated. As I
complete most of my security presentations, I close with
the expression, “Practice safe HEX.”
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).
Online Consumer Help from the Federal
By Ira Wilsker
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
President Bush has requested that all federal agencies
make it easier for consumers (the general public) to locate
and utilize information on federal websites. In some cases
a variety of federal agencies have pooled their resources
and information, and compiled the data in easy to use
websites that represent several agencies in one place.
Some of these integrated federal websites are,, and is probably the premier federal website
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 11
Consumer Help cont. on page 12
Consumer Help cont. from page 11
for comprehensive consumer information. The tabs across
the top of the page lead directly to such consumer topics
as food, product safety, health, home & community, money,
transportation, children, careers & education, and
technology. The perimeter of the page contains icons and
links which directly connect to specific government
One of the icons links to “OnGuardOnline” which says,
“ provides practical tips from the
federal government and the technology industry to help
you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your
computer, and protect your personal information.” There
is another link for “Consumer Sentinel” which contains
comprehensive information on fighting and preventing
fraud and identity theft.
One link that I have personally used
and strongly recommend leads to the
“National Do Not Call Registry”
( where you can enter your
home and cell phone numbers, and
prohibit most telemarketers from calling.
After activation, if a telemarketer does
call, there is a link to enter a complaint,
which may lead to a substantial fine
against the telemarketer.
You have probably seen a TV
commercial hawking free credit reports,
but the fine print and disclaimer advises
that the credit report is only free with a
paid subscription to a credit monitoring
service. It just so happens that congress
has required that all Americans are
entitled to a genuinely free credit report
once a year, without the strings or
necessity of paying for a credit
monitoring service. This free service is
overseen by the Federal Trade
Commission (, and linked to
the website, or can be
Many of us have had concerns about our children’s
safety while online, and has a linked
resource for that purpose as well. The FTC has created an
online child safety website “Kidz Privacy” which is a
childish looking website that will appeal to kids of all
ages. On this site are resources for kids, adults, the media,
and teachers.
We are all faced with higher prices at the gas pump, and
we generally do not like it. There are scammers out there
promoting a variety of miracle products to dramatically
improve our gas mileage, but there are also several
legitimate tasks we can undertake to save gas. obliges with an icon linked to a FTC
website “Saving Money at the Pump”.
This is a cute, interactive website with
several tips that we may find useful and
money saving.
There is a pandemic of identity theft
taking place which is costing our society
tens of billions of dollars per year, with
millions of victims of identity theft
annually. has a link to the
central repository of identity theft
prevention and information services,
which is administered by the FTC at On this site
is a link to report identity theft, steps to
follow if a victim, information on
preventing theft, and other useful
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 12
Many of us are inundated with prescreened credit card
offers, and invitations to purchase insurance. For those
who want to reduce or end this unsolicited and often
unwanted mail, there is a link to “Prescreened Credit
Offers”. On this site is information on how these
prescreened offers work, and how to stop them. For those
who want to stop these prescreened offers, the FTC says,
“Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or
visit for details.” That
website and phone number are operated by the three
major consumer credit reporting agencies, and they will
ask for personal information, but promise that it will be
treated confidentially.
Hardly a day goes by where we do not hear on the news
about some consumer product or food item being recalled
for a safety or health reason. Occasionally we also hear
about massive automobile recalls to correct some safety
deficiency. There is an icon and link on this site to a
centralized database on recalls which is continuously
updated. This connects to a site, which is a
joint venture of several government agencies that are
involved in consumer recalls. Categories of recalled
products include consumer products, motor vehicles,
boats, food, medicines, cosmetics, and environmental
products. What I find especially useful and informative
on this website is the list of “Recent Recalls”. There are
six small windows on the recent recalls page that list the
latest recalls from the Consumer Product Safety
Commission, Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department
of Agriculture (USDA), and the Coast Guard. Personally,
I check this site regularly, and sometimes find that I have
a recalled product in my house.
Some of the other useful links on the
website are to specialized websites such as
and is a website sponsored by the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that has
resources about home and personal safety in a variety of
threatening scenarios. Also included on this DHS website
is information for businesses continuity, and child safety
during disasters. is the central clearing house
for all federal agencies. It uses a simple menu hierarchy
that eases the location of desired information. Topics are
comprehensive, and include such helpful items as
government benefits and grants, money and taxes,
consumer guides, and many other topics. This site can
be a good starting point for someone looking for
something to do on the internet.
Military personnel and families may find the link to
“Military Sentinel” a very useful resource. According to
the website,,
“Military Sentinel is a project of the Federal Trade
Commission and the Department of Defense to identify
and target consumer protection issues that affect members
of the United States Armed Forces and their families.”
Included on this website is information on specific identity
theft problems faced by military families, financial scams
against military personnel, and other military specific
Other links on are to the “Consumer
Action Handbook”,, and
information that the disabled may find helpful at
The website at is a goldmine of consumer
information that is free for the taking. I suggest that
everyone should periodically visit this website and review
any informational resources that may be of personal
interest and benefit.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author
solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All
other uses require the permission of the author (see
e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 13
How To Find Podcasts
By Mike Lyons, President Orange County IBM PC Users’ Group, CA,,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for publication by APCUG member groups.
Download the free 7.3 iTunes program from and install. Now, all you need
is an mp3 player, and you’re all set to download podcasts and listen to them on the go.
When you first open iTunes, click on the “Podcast Directory” at the bottom next to “Report a Concern.”
That actually takes you to the Apple Store. In the upper left corner is a magnifying glass and a space to
search for a word or phrase. Type in “computer.” The Apple logo in the top center area changes to a candy cane-striped
bar as it searches. The bar will turn solid and display the results: Name, Time, Artist, Album, Price, Popularity and Genre.
Next to the name is a grayed-out
apa alley ersonal omputer sers roup
circle with an arrow in it. This leads to
more information about the podcast.
Membership Application/Renewal *
It includes a description, user reviews,
‡ New
‡ Renewal
‡ Information Update
a list of the last 20 podcasts and a list
Please Print
of 5 “Listerners also subscribed to.”
Full Name: _________________ Nickname: _______________________
Headings are sortable by clicking
Street/PO Box: ________________________________________________
on them, so if you click on Price, all
the free ones appear at the top.
City: __________________ State: ______ ZIP Code: ________ - ______
Phone (check preferred):‡ Home: ( ______ ) _______ - _______________
Some of the stuff is pretty explicit,
‡ Work: ( ______ ) _______ - _______________
that’s why they call it the “wild, wild
web.” Podcasts are labeled “clean,”
E-mail (check preferred):‡ Home: __________________________________
“explicit,” or blank which means the
‡ Work: __________________________________
rating hasn’t been determined.
Ocupation/Profession ____________________________ Retired? ______
I look to see how often and
Do you want to be added to the following NVPCUG e-mail lists?
consistently the podcast occurs (some
News and announcements:
‡Yes ‡ No
really good ones haven’t been updated
General discussion of computer-related topics:‡Yes ‡
since 2006), check customer
If you do not want your preferred phone number and/or e-mail address
comments, and the “Also subscribed
published in the NVPCUG Directory, which is for the exclusive use of
to” list.
NVPCUG members, check the appropriate box(es):
If you want to subscribe, simply
‡ Do not list phone number ‡ Do not list e-mail address
click on the “subscribe” button. To go
Family members whom you want to sponsor as Associate Members:
back where you were, under the Apple
(Associate Members have the same membership rights as their sponsors,
logo on the left is a small button with
except for receiving newsletters)
a left pointing twirly. Click on this to
Full Name
E-mail Address
get back.
After downloading podcasts,
connect your mp3 player to a USB
Annual Dues:
cable and right click on the file. Select
‡ $30
Regular Member - an individual who is not a full-time student
“Send to” and click on the drive letter
Student Member - a full-time student who is not eligible for Associate
of the mp3 player to transfer podcasts
to it from your computer.
‡ $10
Associate Member - a family member of a Regular or Student
Besides the iTunes Podcast
member. Associate memberships run concurrently with sponsors’
Directory, you can find podcasts of
Make check payable to:
Computer America shows at
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.
and National Public Radio at
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your dues
payment may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
* To request a Corporate Membership Application / Renewal form, e-mail:
[email protected]
Revised 4-23-07
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 14
There are even locally-produced user group
podcasts. The Los Angeles Computer Society
has podcasts of their main meetings at
You don’t have to have an mp3 player to listen to
podcasts, though. If you left-click on the mp3 title, it
plays right in your browser. Or, if you right-click on
the title, select “Save Link As,” and you can save it to
a directory on your computer.
Besides playing podcasts in mp3 players and
browsers, mp3 files on your hard drive can be burned
to a CD. Then, you can play them in your car. Just burn
them as a music CD instead of a data CD.
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).
Two Great Speakers Beat Six
Mediocre Ones
We all want the full surround-sound experience, but if
you have to make a financial choice between buying a
low-priced full 5.1 surround sound setup or a single pair
of high-quality stereo speakers for the same price, in
practically every case the high-quality pair will give you
better sound. Read the dynamic range specs for each of
the speakers in both systems and pay attention to the
amount of power that goes to each speaker (not just the
entire system). Distortion ratings also matter, especially
if you’re using your TV instead of an external amplifier
to power the speakers. Listen to all the choices, by all
means, but listen to crisp, clear, full, undistorted sound
to guide your decision.
Thank You !
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
947 Lincoln Avenue
Napa, CA 94559-5066
(707) 299-1000 • [email protected]
Fr om Copies t o Full Co l or Printing
we ’re your
sou r ce for all your printed needs .
Also come see us for your Pr omo tional Items !
3148 Jefferson Street • Napa, California 94558
707/257-6260 • fax 707/257-8741
[email protected]
Use WMP To Create An Audio CD
Click Copy From CD on WMP’s interface, select the
particular tracks you want to record, and click the Copy
Music button. Repeat the process for every album in your
collection; just make sure to use the same recording
settings when ripping all of your tracks. Configure the
settings by opening WMP’s Tools menu, selecting Options,
and choosing the Copy Music tab. We suggest that you
select the Windows Media Audio (Variable Bit Rate)
format option and position the Audio Quality slide to the
Uses About 59MB To 94MB Per CD (135Kbps To
215Kbps) or higher setting. (Kbps stands for kilobits per
second.) Once the selected files are on a local hard drive,
usually in the WMA (Windows Media Audio) or MP3
format, it’s time to transfer them to disc. You have two
options for doing so, each of which produces a different
outcome. The first option is to create a data CD by
copying the audio files directly to the disc in their existing
WMA or MP3 format. This option boasts one significant
benefit: You can fit 10 to 12 hours of music on a single
disc. The second option is to create an actual audio CD.
You can do so by converting the compressed (condensed
so as to occupy less space) audio files to audio tracks.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
Offering Financial Services throughout
the Napa Valley, with offices in American
Canyon, Calistoga, Napa, St. Helena
and Yountville
800-869-3557 •
Happy Holidays
See You on Dec 19 at the Holiday Party
(see cover page for details)
For more information about the NVPCUG, visit
our Web site:
NVPCUG Computer News, December 2007, Page 15
Need a sticky note? Put it on your computer!
itor ty
ons ge Co , C A ,
Lin ter, Or ’ Grou ,
bm PC Us orcop ug.or
[email protected]
IBM edito .orco
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission
for publication by APCUG member groups.
Sticky note programs for your pc, as you might imagine,
are a utility that takes the place of paper Post-It notes that
we all stick to our monitors!
But, sticky note programs I’ve researched this year
discouraged me from even trying them out. Sometimes they
didn’t have enough features, or if they did, they were
Then, someone recommended a program
c a l l e d St i c k i e s , c r e a t e d b y To m R e v e l l , a t So, I looked at
Stickies on the web page, liked what I saw, and
downloaded the program.
My first discovery about the program is that it is small,
953Kb, and doesn’t interfere with system files and doesn’t
write to the registry. In fact, Stickies stores all its information
in a single text-based ini file. When was the last time you
had a program on your computer as well-mannered as this
An icon in your system tray will allow you quick access
to Stickies’ features and options. From this dropdown list
you can manage your Stickies notes, configure them, get
help, and download new skins. When you do make a
Sticky, it won’t disappear unless you tell it to, and it stays
where it is placed. You can edit, format, and print them.
Make as many as you want, or as many as your screen
space will permit. But, to save room and keep Stickies
organized, they will snap to each other and to the sides of
the screen where they can be neatly lined up. You can even
“hide” them from view.
Besides viewing Stickies on your screen, you can attach
them to a website, a document, or a folder, so they only
appear when the objects they are attached to are on the
Stickies are portable, too. You can transfer Stickies from
one computer to another over your TCP/IP network
connection, to your PDA and back again, or send to friends
in email.
They can be set to “sleep” and appear on a specified date
and time, as announcements or reminders. They can even
play a sound alarm so they get your attention when they
What’s fun is being able to customize the notes with
various fonts, colors and buttons. You can even download
customized skins from a big selection to change the
outward appearance of the notes — plain, borderless,
simple border, etc. The notes can be resized, just like the
sticky notes in Acrobat.
Stickies are located in five categories within the
application so you can see and manage them. You can
search for information in Stickies, wake sleeping Stickies,
restore closed Stickies and detach Stickies.
What else? Oh, yes! Another attractive feature of Stickies
is...the program is free!
What are you waiting for? Try it out and see if you like
this little program as much as I do!
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).
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558-0286
Address Services Requested
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