COMPUTER NEWS The October 15 General Meeting Of The

COMPUTER NEWS The October 15 General Meeting Of The
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
Volume 25, No. 10
Oct 2008
Inside This Issue
NVPCUG Special Interest Groups
NVPCUG Calendar
President’s Message
Officers List
Content Overview
iPhone for Boomers
Concepts and Tools
System Mechanic 8 –
A PC “Swiss Army Knife”
Cloud Computing – The Future of
Personal Computing?
11 Using Google to Locate Free
Online Textbooks
13 The New, the Best, AND
the Worst
16 Moving on to Vista – Part 9
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 October 15th
General Meeting Of The
Napa Valley Computer
Users Group
Has Been
Due to Repairs At The
Napa Senior Activity
See You In November
On The 19th.
Could you use some practical information that would help you
make better use of your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests
are always welcome. Admission is always free.
Interested in becoming a member? See page 14 for application
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008
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]
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
By Ron Dack, president,,
[email protected]
October 2008
Because the City of Napa has decided to replace
the roof of the building we meet in there will be no
October general meeting. I really don’t know why
this should affect our night meeting time?
I personally was looking forward to this meeting.
Earlier this year I asked Susy Ball to try and arrange a presentation about
online banking. There are many people that believe it is less safe than
other methods when in fact it is actually a safer way to bank. Thousands
more identity thefts result from “dumpster diving” and paperwork theft
than result from any online transactions with your bank. In fact I am not
aware of any online transaction between a customer and their bank that
resulted in a fraudulent loss. I have asked Susy to reschedule this
presentation for early next year.
Normally the NVPCUG Board of Directors would get the majority of
board nominations at the October general meeting. The board will vote
for the 2009 Board of Directors at the November 5, 2008 Board of
directors meeting so we will not have a chance to hear from the general
meeting attendees. Because of that I am asking any dues paying member
who wants to nominate a member to serve on the 2009 Board of
Directors e-mail that nomination to [email protected] before
November 4th.
I have also suffered a back injury that is affecting my sciatic nerve. I
apologize if I have missed any e-mail you sent and have not been active
in responding to member’s questions or concerns. I cannot sit at my
computer and weed through the thousands of e-mails I receive weekly
and pick out the valid from the spam. I presided at the October Board of
Directors meeting by standing up. This message has taken me several
days to write sitting and writing for only a few seconds at a time. I hope
this issue is resolved quickly.
Have a fun Halloween and I will see you at the November 19th general
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
Oct 15
Nov 5
Nov 10
Nov 12
Nov 13
Nov 19
Dec 3
Dec 8
Dec 10
Dec 17
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Board of Directors meeting + B
Investors SIG meeting + C
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Board of Directors meeting + B
Investors SIG meeting + C
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG Holiday Members Only Party + D
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 2
Take care,
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
Vice President
Other Directors:
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Dick Peterson
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Ron Dack, Jim Gray, Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman,
Kathy Slavens, Dean Unruh, Marcia Waddell, and Roy Wagner.
Jim Gray
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
[email protected]
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Kathy Slavens
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Dean Unruh
[email protected]
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell
[email protected]
Programs Director
Susy Ball
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
[email protected]
Special Projects Director
[email protected]
Ron Dack
Sales Coordinator
[email protected]
[email protected]
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 3
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is
published monthly by
the Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group, Inc.
(NVPCUG), P.O. Box
2866, Napa, CA
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected]
The material in
Computer News is
intended for
purposes and may not
be reproduced without
prior written permission,
except that permission
for reproducing articles,
with authors properly
credited, is granted to
other computer user
groups for their internal,
nonprofit use only. The
information in this
newsletter is believed
to be correct. However,
the NVPCUG can
assume neither
responsibility for errors
or omissions nor liability
for any damages
resulting from the use
or misuse of any
The NVPCUG is an IRC
501(c)(3) tax-exempt
nonprofit educational
organization (EIN 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are
tax-deductible as
charitable contributions
to the extent allowed by
law. Copyright © 2008
Content Overview
Borman, SW Indiana PCUG. Pim takes a look at
Picasa’s web album and cloud computing.
Page 16
Page 5
According to the data from the International
Communications Union, the world now has more
than 2 billion cell phone or mobile phone
subscribers. While the 20- and 30-somethings are
flocking to the iPhone as the latest status symbol,
the 40-, 50- and 60-somethings are acquiring
iPhones because there are no tiny buttons and no
complex menu systems.
Page 6
Concepts and Tools by Elizabeth B. Wright,
Computer Club of OK. One day in the near
future, there will be no computer “beginners’ at
the adult level. The children born into the world
as it is today are exposed to computers from
conception. But while there are still older adults
who want computer knowledge, someone has to
be available to instruct them.
Page 7
Review – System Mechanic 8 – A PC “Swiss
Army Knife,” Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director.
Simply put, System Mechanic 8 is arguably the
most comprehensive PC maintenance utility
available, with over 40 distinct performance and
security tools included, giving it “Swiss Army
Knife,” features.
Page 9
Cloud Compuitng - the Future of Personal
Computing?, Brian K. Lewis, PhD, Sarasota
PCUG, Florida. You may not have heard of it, but
“Cloud Computing” is the latest buzz-word in
computing circles.
Page 11
The Global University, Use Google to Locate
Free Online Textbooks, Mike Moore, Bowling
Green Computer User Group. With new
textbooks costing upwards of $100, and some
publishers devising web-based content requiring
the use of new texts every year, student advocates
and concerned administrators have been
considering ways of moderating this cost. Mike
shows how some of these valuable multimedia
materials are just lying around out there on the
Page 13
The New, the Best AND the Worst (appeared in
the newsletter for July – August 2008), Pim
Moving on to Vista – Part 9, Neil Stahfest,
Tacoma Area PC User Group, WA. Another
installment in Neil’s Vista saga.
Editor’s Note:
This is the second month
that “Contents Overview” has appeared in the newsletter.
I would like your feedback, in that I would like to know
whether or not you think that this column is a useful addition
to the newsletter. Please email [email protected]
with your comments.
Excel Shortcut
If Excel doesn’t load when you double-click its
shortcut, don’t worry. Sometimes Desktop shortcuts
(or even those in the Start menu) become corrupted
and no longer point to their associated EXE
(executable) file. To see if that is the source of your
trouble, click an empty area of your Desktop and press
F3 to launch Windows’ search feature. Type Excel.exe
into the file name field and press ENTER and then
double-click the file’s icon when it appears in the
results pane. If doing so launches Excel, you know
that your shortcut is corrupted and causing the problem.
Simply delete the bad shortcut (right-click it and click
Delete) and right-click and drag the Excel.exe file
icon that you found to where you’d like a new shortcut.
When you drop the icon, a context menu will appear;
click Create Shortcuts Here, and your new shortcut
will appear.
Clean Your DVDs
DVDs are best cleaned with a lint-free, nonabrasive
cloth. Dampen the cloth in clean, lukewarm water. (If
your water is especially hard or contains excess
minerals, use bottled water.) Starting at the center of
the disc, wipe in a straight line to the outside rim; don’t
use a circular motion. Repeat until you’ve cleaned the
entire disk. For very stubborn messes, try water with
a mild, nonabrasive soap or isopropyl alcohol.
Commercial DVD cleaning solutions are also available.
Never use compressed air to blow a DVD clean.
Compressed air can be very cold and may thermally
shock the disc, causing separation or cracks, either
immediately or down the road.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 4
iPhone for Boomers
By Sandy Berger, CompuKISS,,[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission
finger. To make a web
for publication by APCUG member groups.
page larger, you simply
According to the data from the International flick your two fingers
Communications Union, the world now has more than 2 apart on the screen. Bring
billion cell phone or mobile phone subscribers. While your fingers together and
some business and high tech users are using their phones t h e w e b p a g e g e t s
for email and the Internet, I venture to say that most of smaller. Double-tap the
those 2 billion users are only using their cell phones to screen and the page fits
make calls and to text message. In fact, I am sure that the screen. To take a
many users don’t know how to do much more than that, picture, you press the
even though their phones are capable of much more.
camera icon, aim the
The reason is that up until now, cell phones with their camera on the back of the iPhone and press the icon on the
tiny buttons and complex menu systems have frustrated bottom of the screen. It is so intuitive that it is actually fun!
many average users. The recent introduction of a fast,
On top of that Apple has added a Apps store to its iTunes
stable, and more affordable iPhone is poised to change all Online Store. They have over 500 applications that you can
of that.
add to your iPhone. Many are free. Others cost $1. Most of
While the twenty- and thirty-something’s are flocking those which you have to pay for are under $10. Some of these
to the iPhone as the latest status symbol, the forty- , fifty- applications are just for fun, some are for productivity. For
, and sixty-something’s are acquiring iPhones because instance, if you download an application called Recorder,
there are no tiny buttons and no complex menu systems. you can turn your iPhone into a voice recorder. But you can
In fact, the large bright touch screen, big icons, and the also choose an application that turns it into an a light saber or
on-screen keyboard one that lets you pop bubbles on the screen.
make the iPhone
At $199 for the 8GB model, the iPhone has a lot to like. To
extremely easy to use. use it you must subscribe
One button brings up to AT&T for two years.
the Home screen of That is not unusual for a
icons. The screen is cell phone service
clear and uncluttered. contract. You also have
The icons are all easily to have an additional data
identifiable by their plan that costs $30 a
picture, so the iPhone month. While this might
experience is very visual. The four most used icons are seem costly, you get a lot
placed on the bottom of the screen. By default, they are for your money.
Phone, Mail, Safari (the Internet browser), and iPod. You
Not only is the iPhone
can put whatever you use the most on the bottom row. You intuitive, visual, and
can also rearrange all the icons to suit your taste.
tactile, but it has access
The way you rearrange the icons is indicative of the ease of to the Internet and lets
use of the entire gadget. To rearrange the icons on the Home you send and receive
screen, you simply press any icon and hold your finger down email. It is like having a mini-computer in your hand. For
until all the icons start to wiggle. Then you drag the icons from many it will replace the laptop they drag along when traveling.
place to place. To put an icon on the second page of the Home
The iPhone is also a full-blown iPod that plays both music
screen, you simply drag it off the screen to the right. The and video. Since it has its own speaker, you don’t even need
second page will appear with the icon on it. To return to the first earbuds or headphones as you do with most other music
screen of the Home page, just drag your finger across the players. Oh, and did I mention, it has the best audio quality of
screen in a leftward motion. To stop the wiggling and confirm any cell phone I’ve ever used.
that you are done moving the icons around, you simply touch
Am I hooked? You bet I am…… And the same thing will
the Home button You can’t miss it because while other cell happen to many others who try the iPhone. It is poised to
phones seem to have a million buttons, the Home button is the change the way we use cell phones.
only button on the surface of the iPhone.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
As you can tell by this explanation, the iPhone is also very
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
tactile. You can move things around the screen with your require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 5
Concepts and Tools
By Elizabeth B. Wright, Member, Computer Club of Oklahoma City,,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for make the connection. The CONCEPT of hard drive storage
publication by APCUG member groups.
is not easy to absorb, so the instructor must make it easy.
One day in the near future there will be no computer Also many new users find it difficult to transfer keystrokes
“beginners” at the adult level. The children born into the learned on a classroom computer to their own computers
world as it is today are exposed to computers from at home. The reason for this is that no two computers are
conception. After they are born, many have very exactly alike, so the steps learned on one machine may or
sophisticated hands on use of the machines from the may not work on another one. But if the student
minute they can reach out from their parent’s lap and touch comprehends the idea behind digital file storage, the
actual keystrokes will begin to make sense, regardless of
the keyboard. There is no mystery to them.
But while there are still older adults who want computer what computer they are using. In my opinion, rote learning
knowledge, someone has to be available to instruct them. is not the best way to become even moderately proficient
And adults do not learn the same way that babies and on a computer. Real understanding of basic computing
children learn. Sometimes, when leading a group or processes is vital.
Since many new users have little idea of what hardware
teaching a class, it is difficult to explain to students why
they need to to understand the difference between how a is on their own computers, talking about C:\ drives and
computer or a program works and how to make it actually other drives in relation to specific files means little to
do something. In my opinion, concepts are far more useful them. But a well developed discussion of what basic
in the long run than specific techniques, especially when hardware CAN be on a computer and how it works is not
dealing with someone using a computer for the first time a waste of time, answering questions along the way.
or who has gone just beyond the basics. But how do you Many new users won’t see the value in a technical
discussion, so it is important to present hardware
teach a concept?
First, accept the fact that it will take more time in the demonstrations using common sense terms rather than
beginning to teach concepts, but it will save time later obscure technical language. It is never necessary to
on. The real trick is to make the process interesting and impress new students with what you know, but rather to
make the information as easy for them to understand as
easy to understand
The simple fact that a computer is basically thousands possible. With practice, a teacher or presenter can develop
of off and on switches, the same as a light switch, seems the dialog necessary to convey essential information and
to be information that many people find irrelevant. But still keep the listeners engaged. Students appreciate
once a student gets some idea of the actual simplicity of being encouraged in the idea that they may not know
the machine, much of the mystery is removed from the much to begin with, but they will leave each session
armed with useful information and techniques that will
learning process.
build a good basic foundation for them. Biblically we
Second, CONCEPTS, once understood, are usually far
were taught not to build our houses on sand. Why are the
easier to remember than techniques. Anyone who “gets the
pyramids in Egypt still standing? Because underneath all
idea” of a computer fundamental can usually find the tools that sand there are foundations built on bedrock. Good
later to accomplish the end result, even if the specific steps
computer skills begin the same way.
are not used often enough to remember them in sequence.
Nearly all programs are far too comprehensive to be
Many first session lesson plans skip computer
taught in detail to beginners. But if the most basic use of
functionality and plunge straight into using software. As
the program (the program’s CONCEPT) can be presented
an example, the concept of organizing files on a hard drive
in a way that is useful to students, they will get their feet
seems to be much harder for new users to comprehend than
wet. From there they can then be encouraged to not only
teaching them to open the file manager, aka Windows attend study groups and advanced classes, but to explore
Explore or some similar program. So many teachers go
their favorite programs on their own. Again, the difference
through the cumbersome task of showing people how to
is between teaching new users the fundamental use of the
open the file system, only to become bogged down in the
program itself as opposed to teaching them to use specific
steps needed to find a particular file, then later to continually
program “tools”. Obviously some techniques need to be
have people complain they have lost a file and firmly
taught in early sessions, but teaching the use of most tools
believe it has disappeared from their machine. Most new is best done in intermediate and advanced classes. My
users find it difficult to make the connection between
experience has been that only when people have a need for
finding a file on the computer and why understanding how
or enjoy using any computer software will they continue
to find it is important. It is the instructors job to help them
to explore and expand their knowledge of the program.
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 6
How long did it take you to figure out that the “D” in
D:\ stands for any non-specific “drive” when dealing
with program instructions (often installation
procedures) and not specifically for the “D” drive on
your personal computer? Admit it, there was a time
when you didn’t know that. Just think how confusing
the term is to new users. There is a concept here if you
can find it.
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).
System Mechanic 8 –
A PC “Swiss Army Knife”
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.
downloads.aspx - FREE
Frequent readers of this column
will be well aware that there are
many computer utilities in
cyberspace that can improve the
performance of our PCs. As we
use our computers, the registry
inefficient; useless files consume
valuable real estate on our hard
drives; and other maladies caused
by the software on our computers
deprive us of the performance
we paid for and deserve. While I
admittedly use several different
utilities to maintain peak
operating efficiency of my
computers, if I had to choose
only a single utility for computer
maintenance, it would be Iolo’s
System Mechanic ( I have used System
Mechanic for many years in its earlier versions, but now
Iolo has released the latest iteration, System Mechanic
version 8.
Simply, System Mechanic 8 is arguably the most
comprehensive PC maintenance utility available, with
over 40 distinct performance and security tools included,
giving it “Swiss Army Knife” features. According to
published sales figures, System Mechanic is the #1 best
selling PC tune-up software on the market, and has won
awards for excellence from dozens of computer
publications, including Cnet’s Editors’ Choice, Windows
Magazine, PC Computing, ZDNet Editors’ Pick, Computer
Shopper’s Top 100, Computerworld, and many others.
Rhetorically, why would I choose System Mechanic 8
over all of its competitors? Because of what it does, its
power, versatility, and features; that is why. Compared to
its major competitors, none of them offer the feature rich
set of functions that System Mechanic offers. According
to Iolo, “Over 98% of PC problems are caused by clutter
and faulty settings that are the result of everyday PC use.”
System Mechanic 8 can repair or otherwise remedy virtually
System Mechanic 8 Review cont. on page 8
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 7
System Mechanic 8
Review cont. from
page 7
all of these problems.
Many of a PC’s problems
can be traced to problems
and errors in the registry,
a large data file that
contains information on
the hardware and
software installed on the
computer. The registry is
almost constantly written to, and read, often leaving
obsolete data in the registry. This obsolete, and eventually
erroneous data left in the registry consumes some system
resources, and can promote errors and other problems as
faulty data is read and processed. The registry must be
periodically purged of useless data, defragmented and
compacted in order to contribute to better PC performance,
a function at which System Mechanic 8 excels.
Our computers are constantly reading from and writing
to the hard drive, and that drive often becomes cluttered,
fragmented, and may also have some errors in the data
stored on it. While almost all flavors of Windows have
some type of “defrag” and “chkdsk” software to
defragment the hard drive, and check it for errors, the
Windows integral versions of those utilities are very
basic and lack the power to do a truly thorough job, as
System Mechanic will do. Clutter and useless files
consume a lot of the storage space on our hard drives;
System Mechanic 8 can identify and remove that clutter,
freeing up that hard drive space, making for a more
efficient hard drive.
Sometimes, and it will likely happen eventually to
each PC user, the computer will not properly boot. For
that particular eventuality, System Mechanic 8 will allow
the user to create a bootable emergency CD that may be
able to revive “crashed” systems. Another irritant that
many of us suffer through on a regular basis is the
boringly slow boot process itself, where we wait and wait
for our computer to become usable. System Mechanic 8
claims to have 19 different ways that it can speed the boot
process by making it more logical and efficient. Another
way that we are losing performance that we are paying
for is by having improper internet settings. Many of
these settings are mundane and not readily accessible to
the typical user. By modifying these settings to their
ideal point, internet throughput can be improved, in
some cases tripled. System Mechanic 8 will analyze our
internet connection, and make any changes necessary to
maximize performance.
PC security is a major issue that all of us must deal with
on a constant basis. System Mechanic 8 contributes to
system security by fixing settings that would otherwise
allow an intruder to access the computer, making cyber
attacks that more difficult. Sometimes we have files that
we want to securely delete, being well aware that normally
deleted files are easy to recover, which may create
another security problem. This utility offers the user a
military grade wiping function that can securely delete
unwanted data.
System Mechanic 8 retails for $49.95 for a one-year
license, and can be used on up to three computers;
discounts are available online (
for longer licenses.
For those who want an even more feature rich product,
Iolo offers System Mechanic Professional, version 8 ($69.95
for 3 computers). This Professional version is an integrated
bundle which includes most of Iolo’s other popular
products. The bundle includes Iolo’s antivirus software,
renowned for its hourly updates; and its Personal Firewall
to protect from intruders and malicious software. Another
program included with the Professional bundle is another
personal favorite of mine, Iolo’s Search and Recover. This
program can recover files that were deleted, including
photos, videos, documents, email, music, and other data
that may have otherwise been lost. Search and Recover
can undelete files from hard drives, digital cameras,
memory cards, and almost all other digital media.
Professional also includes DriveScrubber, a utility that
can securely erase data from hard drives. This is necessary
when donating a computer, selling it, or recycling it.
Without securely deleting our personal data, others can
access it and use it for a variety of purposes, including
identity theft. DriveScrubber overwrites the data using
methods that meet strict government and military
standards, ensuring the destruction of that data, without
harm to the drive itself.
iolo has a winner in System Mechanic 8. For those who
like to try software before they purchase it, Iolo offers a
free, 30 day, fully functional trial version of each of its
products at If
you try the software, you will probably like it as much as
I do, and find it indispensable.
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, Oct 2008, Page 8
Cloud Computing – The Future of
Personal Computing?
By Brian K. Lewis, Ph.D., Member and Contributing Columnist, Sarasota PCUG, Florida,, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
countries. In this country we think that having 10-15
megabits/sec on our broadband is really fast. However, in
You may not have heard of it, but “Cloud Computing” is Japan, 50 megabits/sec is closer to the norm, even for
the latest buzz-word in computing circles. The question is, home users.
just what does it mean? The problem is that at this point, So who would be providing these cloud computing
there is no really solid definition for this term. You can services? Actually, they already exist in the form of
search for it and you’ll find a number of interpretations. Google Apps, Amazon Elastic Compute (EC2),
So, from all that I have encountered, I’ll try to synthesize Sapotek’s Desktop2 (, Zim
one for you.
Desk (w w w . z i m d e s k . c o m ) and Zoho Office
(w w w . z o h o . c o m ).
Cloud computing is being
(There are also a number
able to access files, data,
of companies providing
programs and services all
services and more to
via the Internet. You would
made of hundreds of thousands, or by some these
large corporations only.)
have little or nothing stored
on your computer, in fact,
estimates 1 million, cheap servers, each not Sapotek claims to have
175,000 users of their
your computer might
much more powerful than the PCs we have in Desktop2 and their servers
simply be a device, desktop
can handle 8 – 10,000 of
or handheld, that can access
them at the same time.
the web and all of its
services. In addition, cloud
data, including numerous copies of the World They have a partnership
with Sun that will provide
computing offers the
Wide Web. This makes search faster, helping the equipment to handle as
services of enormous
many as 350,000 users.
computer networks that
ferret out answers to billions of queries in a Every time I look for more
function as if they
were components of a
fraction of a second. Unlike many traditional information on Cloud
Computing I find new
supercomputer. These
companies listed that
networks can process tens
are offering these services.
of trillions of operations per
When its individual pieces die, usually after It is a very rapidly
second compared to three
billion operations per
about three years, engineers pluck them out growing industry.
So, if you wanted to take
second for the most
and replace them with new, faster boxes. This advantage of the services
powerful desktop computer.
in the cloud, what could
This kind of computing
means the cloud regenerates as it grows, almost you expect to find?
power can be used for
analysis of risk in financial
like a living thing.” (Quotation is taken from a Let’s take a look at
Desktop2. This is a free
portfolios, delivering
Business Week article dated 12-13-2007 by Stephen Baker.)
service that provides
personalized medical
normal office applications:
information, and powering
immersive computer games. These networks use hundreds writer, spreadsheets, presentations, notepad, and a calendar.
or thousands of network servers using PC related technology. It also provides hard drive storage, e-mail, instant
I think the excerpt from Business Week article aptly messaging, blogs. MP3 player, RSS service and a web site
editor. The free version does come with ads as you would
describes the computer cloud.
Although some of these services may appear to be only expect.
of interest for corporations and their IT departments, Zimdesks is very similar to Desktop2. Its web applications
services are also being made available for home and small includes pop3email, file manager, sidebar, RSS, browser,
business users. As you might expect, the availability of word processor, spreadsheet, calendar, tasks manager,
this Internet computer access depends on fast broadband accessories/widgets, web messenger, video conference,
access. An area where the U.S. lags behind many other
Cloud Computing cont. on page 10
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 9
Cloud Computing cont. from page 9
media player, Internet radio, web TV, games,
zimcommunity, zimblog, and much more. It is also a free
service that incorporates advertising. Like everyone else
they have to support themselves somehow.
The third of these services is Zoho Office. On their home
page you not only find a list of the services they provide,
they are all available for trial simply by clicking on a icon.
As with the previous services, the list of applications is
quite extensive.
Google Apps is very similar in its offerings to the
preceding services. However, it is more oriented towards
business users. It does have a free version which might be
useful for the individual user.
Zoho uses Java to run its applications on the web. Other
services may use Flash or Java. Either of these allow the
applications to run in your browser and to operate at
reasonable speeds. I have tried out the word processing
and found it to be no different than using a word processor
on my computer. This is true even though the speed of my
Internet connection is usually only 500 – 750 kilobits/sec.
When you are using a wireless card modem it is only on
very rare occasions that you can match fast DSL speeds.
I’m sure that those of you on cable or fast DSL would have
no problem using a web-based application, at least with
regard to the speed of the applications response. However,
if you are preparing a graphic loaded presentation, then
you might experience some slow down depending on the
speed of your connection.
The idea of relying on Web-based applications and
storing data in the “cloud” of the Internet has long been
pushed as a way to do business on the road. Now
software companies are making entire Web-based
operating systems. They present themselves as a
complete computer in the cloud and are aimed at a wider
audience. These browser-based services could help those
who can’t afford their own computer.
There are also those who are convinced that this is the
future of computing. However, some security concerns
should be considered. Unless you know how secure your
data is when you use a cloud system, you should be
cautious about what you share with the on-line servers.
You need to know how your data is protected from other
users of the “cloud”. As a service provider they should be
willing to undergo external audits and/or security
certifications. Also you need to know what kind of data
protection and data recovery procedures are provided. As
has been demonstrated many times, computers do fail.
Finally, you need to know what happens to your data in
case the company fails or is sold to another entity. This is
also not uncommon in the high tech industry. As is always
the case, before allowing sensitive information to be used
or stored on the web, remember “caveat emptor”.
Lastly, consider what computing might be like should
the “cloud” become the method of choice. Certainly there
would be no need for computers to have all the bells and
whistles we now associate with them. Just think about the
possible design of a system destined for use solely with
cloud computing. It would only need a minimal operating
system that would allow the computer to boot, then start
the web browser which would connect to the Internet.
Your cloud page would be your home page and display
your chosen desktop. As for a hard drive, a 10 - 20 gigabyte
solid state drive would probably be adequate. USB ports
for printers, scanners, possibly other I/O ports would be
included. The one thing you would want to be high end
would be the graphics system. This would allow display of
high resolution graphics used in online games and for
viewing videos. It is possible that the graphics processing
unit (GPU) would be more powerful that the CPU (central
processing unit) or it might even incorporate the CPU.
This could all be contained in a 1-2 pound laptop or
compressed further into a handheld computer/cell phone.
Although some of these characteristics are found now in
smart phones, the spread of cloud computing would
enhance the features of these phones. For most of us, the
available screen size on these smart phones is not large
enough, leaving a market opening for inexpensive laptops
such as the ASUS Eee PC or the OLPC (One laptop per
child). In neither case would we need an operating system
as massive as Microsoft Windows.
One thing is certain, anytime you try to predict the
future you usually miss the mark by a mile. So it will
be interesting to see what reality brings about over the
next few years.
Dr. Lewis is a former university and medical school professor
of physiology. He has been working with personal computers
for over 35 years, developing software and assembling systems.
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).
Here’s an idea for labelling packages
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. Visit to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 10
Using Google to Locate Free
Online Textbooks
The Global University
By Mike Moore, BGAMUG,, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for example, adding the filter filetype:pdf to your Google
publication by APCUG member groups.
search will return only results in the form of Adobe’s
With new textbooks costing upwards of $100, and some Public Document Format, which is often the format of
publishers devising web-based content requiring the use choice for E-texts. Conversely, if you want to look at all
of new texts every year, student advocates and concerned results except for PDF files, you can add the negative sign
administrators have been considering ways of moderating in front, like this:
this cost, while at the same time making textbooks available
online or on electronic books such as the Amazon Kindle,
Since we did that presentation, Google has allowed
and providing incentives for publishers to use creative additional file types that they never previously filtered for,
licensing for their intellectual property.
such as filetype:mp3 or filetype:avi, which find,
The open source mantra that we have written about so respectively, compressed music or speech and video files.
often in these pages is now being applied to textbooks and These file types, along with mp4, are often what you
other intellectual property in an effort to support students, might find on a professor’s web site containing interesting
control wasteful revisions and stop killing so many trees. lectures or other course material.
For the purposes of this article, we will refer to any
It might seem logical to restrict your search for E-texts
electronic format for a textbook as an “E-text.”
to scholarly sites, such as colleges and universities. We
Some of what I’m about to show you may surprise you, can do exactly that by using the filter. You can
and you may wonder how it can be that these valuable even expand this to include only one particular college site
multimedia materials are just lying around out there on the by issuing, for example, along with any
internet. Trust me, we are not going to be hacking any additional keywords we want to search for. This would
university computers, and if anything about a Google search the Western Kentucky University website for articles
search can be said to be illegal, well, then I guess we’re all matching our keywords. The Google search returned
using lecture gives the following:
in a bit of trouble. Either that, or Google is!
For those E-texts that have gone open-source (that is, are
Global University cont. on page 12
in one way or another unencumbered by copyright), the
university will usually put them on a public web site, and
for those of you familiar with search engines, that makes
them fair game for you and I!
I am fond of saying that Google indexes only the
WorldWide Web, but in this case, the WWW is exactly
where we want to go. By way of caution though, I will say
that just because we find something lying around on the
internet, does not mean it’s free for any use at all. The user/
reader is at least partly responsible for respecting copyrights,
particularly if you intend to redistribute or use that material
in any other way beside your own personal enjoyment. For
an excellent copyright primer that is targeted toward teens,
see h t t p : / / w w w . l o c . g o v / t e a c h e r s /
Even a relatively small university such as our own WKU
has a truly massive web presence, and in order to filter out
everything but E-texts, we need a flexible search engine
that has the power to filter results based on file types.
Google more than fills the bill.
Some of you may remember a while back we hosted a
presentation featuring Google’s keyword filters. For
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 11
Global University cont. from page 11
There is one additional search filter in Google’s bag of
tricks that will help you find more E-texts and multimedia
lectures than using the filetype filter alone, and that is the
intitle:”index.of” filter. Intitle looks for the specified
keyword after the colon, in a web page title. Looking for
the keyword “index.of” allows you to hunt down
information-rich index pages, which can be thought of as
the best place to go for E-texts and recorded lectures on
university web sites because, as the name implies, they
are like a table of contents.
As an example, let’s Google using these keywords:
(mp3|mp4|avi) lecture
The vertical bar symbol between those file types is
called the pipe symbol—it is over your backslash key,
which is itself located just north of your Enter key. The
pipe symbol, in this context, means to search for “index.of”
entries that have either mp3, mp4, or avi in their text. This
search yields the following—the first of only 48 links (see
image at the end of article).
It’s not really that surprising that using the MP3|MP4|AVI
filter only finds 48 links—after all, there is considerably
more concern about copyright issues when looking at file
types that might be used to contain music, movies and the
like. Just for the heck of it, though, I tried this search:
Intitle:”index.of” mp3 beatles
The resulting search was impressive at finding mp3
files of the Fab Four’s recordings, but the webmasters
behind the pages it found were equally impressive at not
letting you play the files without paying for the privilege,
and since most of this music is copyrighted, that is only as
it should be.
Even so, using the intitle:”index.of” filter is extremely
effective at locating E-texts, particularly when combined
with the filter to only search university and
college sites.
So your best bet on Google to find general E-texts is:
intitle:”index.of” _______
And just fill in the blank with whatever subject you’re
interested in. I used intitle:”index.of” caves and got 315,000
hits, the very first of which was a really cool teaching site
( about
caves from the US Geological Survey.
I wish I could give you an idea of what intitle:”index.of”
is actually filtering for. If you can imagine the internet
functionally layered, like a Broadway production; got
that picture? Okay, searching the WWW with Google
using plain old normal keywords with none of the fancy
filters we’ve talked about here—will lead you to find hits
on what’s going on about the stage and the actor’s names
and so forth. Now Intitle:”index.of” comes looking, and
isn’t interested in the play, the credentials of the performers,
the lighting—nothing on the stage. That little but critical
filter ignores all of that stuff, but instead searches behind
the scenes, finding hits at the level of the executive
producer, the writer of the screen play, and where they all
went to school. That analogy is reaching a bit, but suffice
it to say that specialized filters yield specialized results.
Please share your E-text searching successes!
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).
Editor’s Note: The Google screen’s that you open
may not look exactly like the one’s pictured, because as you
know, because you are looking at material that may vary with
time and depending on how many people have looked at a
particular site.
Dead Or Lit Pixels
Most manufacturers carry pixel-defect policies
on new LCDs, whereby if a certain number of
pixels are dead (show no color at all) or lit (stuck
in the “on” position so that they constantly appear
red, blue, or green), they will replace the LCD. If
the manufacturer won’t provide a replacement,
however, perhaps the retailer will. Other than
that, there’s very little you can do to fix this type
of irritation.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 12
The New, the Best, AND the Worst
July - August 2008
Collected BY Pim Borman, Webmaster, SW Indiana PC Users Group, http://, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
Picasa web album
In June I took a brief
vacation with son, Mike
and cocker spaniel,
Bonnie, touring scenic
central West Virginia.
We visited the stark rock
outcropping known as
Seneca rocks, admired
the amazing 110-meter steerable radio telescope at the
green bank national radio astronomy observatory, and
found carnivorous plants in their natural habitat in the
cranberry glades botanic area. Together we took over 400
pictures along the way that we culled down to 60-some
upon our return. It is often said that the secret of great
photographers is that they take hundreds of pictures but
save only the one or two best ones. Nobody ever mentions
how hard it is to pick out those few winners!
I decided to try and upload the best pictures to one of the
online free photo albums. I was already somewhat familiar
with Flick’r, but I decided to try the Google-Picasa web
album instead. Picasa is an excellent simple photo editor
and it gives direct access to the online web album. The
album allows 1gb of storage, enough for some 4000 pictures,
and you can get even more than that for a small fee.
Since I already had a
Google email account,
setting up the web
album was easy, using
the same user name and
password. On the web
site you can set
up separate albums
to store pictures in
separate categories. I
created a new album
for my vacation pictures and prepared to upload them.
After some trial and error I found it easiest to first
assemble the captioned pictures in a Picasa album on
my pc and then to upload them all at once to the web
album. Once the pictures are uploaded you can add
more or delete mistakes, move them around into the
desired order, and add or change captions. By default,
the photos are automatically converted to the optimum
size for display on a computer screen, but there are
options for larger (up to 20mb) or smaller file sizes.
Once the album has been installed it is ready to be shared
with the rest of the world. You may choose to make your
photos public, available to anyone, or keep them private,
only accessible to those you share the URL with. The view
album page shows large thumbnails of the photos. They
can be viewed individually or as a slide show. The view
map button brings up Google maps where you can indicate
where you took your pictures. The Organize and Edit
captions buttons are self-explanatory. A new features link
at the top of the page leads to the latest features added. It
is now also possible to upload videos from Picasa to your
web album. That might be preferable to using YouTube,
unless you want the whole world to admire your movie.
The web album displays the URL of your album site
either as the address itself or as a short paragraph of html
code that you can insert on your web site. Either way, it is
best to copy and paste the information since the URL tends
to be lengthy and confusing. My vacation pictures are
located at
To do your correspondents a favor you should convert
the URL with SNIPURL ( or
TINYURL ( to a simpler
address, such as
If you have never done that before, you’ll find it easy to
do. Just go to (or the TINYURL
site) and paste the URL of your album in the box. Specify
an easy-to-remember nickname (such as “Pimspix,” but
only available in SNIPURL) and “snip it!” the shortened
URL ( will be
shown and also copied to your clipboard, ready to be
pasted in your message.
Gathering CLOUDS
My experience with setting up a photo album “somewhere
up there” is a typical example of the current trend towards
“cloud” computing. Almost since the beginning of the
world wide web we have been using online search engines
that access indexed information stored “somewhere up
there.” many of us have changed from our pc-based email
programs to online programs, such as Yahoo or Google
Mail, that store our email correspondence on computers
“somewhere up there.” somewhere up there in the clouds,
as it were.
The New, Best AND Worst cont. on page 15
NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 13
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The New, Best AND Worst cont. from page 14
The push is now to extend cloud computing to
office suites. Instead of using expensive ms office we
can choose to use Google docs and conduct all our
administrative activities online, with the option of
sharing our work with colleagues far away if necessary.
Microsoft, always ready to recognize good ideas
after others first thought of them, is moving versions
of its office suite online under the “live” banner.
Others are jostling to join the crowd.
If this trend continues and spreads to other computer
activities, our operating systems, whether windows,
Mac, or Linux, will become less and less important.
The functions of the operating system will be taken
over by browsers. To those of us using multiple
operating systems, such as windows and Linux, we
already find that it makes no difference if we use
Firefox in windows or Linux. Similarly, Picasa is
Picasa and my new web album is the same no matter
how I access it.
So far, that all sounds good. But gathering clouds
threaten to bring rain. If everybody is going to use the
Internet almost all the time, the current Internet
infrastructure will not be able to keep up. There will
be a need for millions of additional servers and
drastically increased connection speeds.
The computer industry is aware of that. According
to the Economist (May 24, 2008) Microsoft is building
a new $500 million data center near Chicago. It will
require 3 electrical substations with a total capacity
of almost 200 megawatts. Google is said to have 3
dozen data centers with an estimated million individual
servers. More and more these extensive data centers
are being built in out-of-the-way places near sources
of low-cost power, even in Iceland with cheap
geothermal power. With all this power consumption
computers are becoming a major source of global
To increase transmission speeds the industry is
eying the airwave bands that will be freed up in
February 2009 when analog TV will be phased out.
There are so-called white spaces between the
frequency bands assigned to TV broadcasts, and tech
companies want to use those buffer zones for lightningfast data transmissions. Initial tests show that it might
wipe out nearby HDTV broadcasts, but they keep
working at it. (Scientific American, June 2008)
The computer revolution has just begun!
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).
Cell Phone Battery
If your cell phone battery doesn’t seem to hold its
charge long enough, you may be able to adjust your
phone’s settings to conserve energy. BlackBerry users,
for instance, can program their devices to turn off
automatically during certain times of day. To do this,
click the Menu key, choose Options, then select Auto
On/Off. From there you’ll be able to set the times at
which it will automatically turn on and off. There is
one setting for weekdays and another for weekends.
Another way to extend your battery life is to turn
Bluetooth off when you’re not using it. Keep in mind
that for optimal battery life, you should let your
battery run almost all the way down before recharging.
If your phone won’t charge up at all, try cleaning the
contacts of your phone and battery. If that doesn’t
help, try a new battery and/or charger. If a new battery
and charger don’t solve the problem, the issue is with
your phone and you should contact the manufacturer.
A runner sometimes doesn’t fare well with earbuds
when using an MP3 player. They fall out due to the
constant jostle of running, and this can become a
burden for anyone hoping to get in a good workout.
It’s essential to match your earphones to your needs,
or your experience will be diminished. A runner
should opt for a headphone that’s secure, and in this
case, an in-the-ear earbud would be the ideal choice.
Headphone styles are numerous and include wired/
wireless earbuds, which are perfect for people on the
go (students, mass transit users), and earcups, which
can satisfy any audiophile’s need to hear minute
musical details.
Don’t Supersize
We’ve all run into the problem of not being able to
view an emailed image because it took up more than
the entire screen. To make emailing pictures easier on
you and your recipients, use the resizing tools in your
photo-editing software. To resize images in Jasc Paint
Shop Pro 9, for instance, click Image and Resize,
change the Pixel Dimension values, and click OK.
Not only will resizing your photos make it easier to
email them, but also it’ll make archiving and printing
them more simple. Look for a resize option in your
editing program’s tools or check to see if you’re given
advanced options when saving photos. Keep in mind
that the format you choose when saving photos will
affect the quality of your photograph. Naturally, the
higher the quality you select, the larger the picture file
will be.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit to learn what
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NVPCUG Computer News, Oct 2008, Page 15
Moving on to Vista – Part 9
By Neil Stahfest, Librarian, Tacoma Area PC User Group, WA, ,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
As I mentioned last month, Vista’s Service Pack 3 is out.
I didn’t see any real changes in my computer after I
installed it, most of modifications are supposed to deal
with computer security. I have since encountered a problem
with my printer.
I don’t print too often from my “Vista computer” so the
problem wasn’t immediately obvious. When I did try to
print some documents they “disappeared” without printing.
My first thought was that I had changed the firewall on my
print server and locked out connections from other computers
on my home network (I’ve done that before). No that wasn’t
it. After checking and finding that I could transfer files
between my computers, I went to the printer section of my
control panel. That’s where I discovered that Vista wanted
a new printer driver installed. I don’t remember any problems
with the printer when I started using this computer. As I
recall, Vista recognized my printer (a fairly new HP ink jet
printer) and it just worked. Anyway, a search of Hewlett
Packard’s web site didn’t reveal a new printer driver. In fact
it told me to use the one built into Vista. I turned to the
installation CD that came with the printer and reinstalled the
printer driver from the CD. It worked and I can print over my
home network using a wireless connection again. I have no
idea why this happened but at least one other TAPCUG
member also discovered a printer driver problem after
installing Vista SP1.
Speaking of security (see paragraph 1), Windows Vista,
like Windows XP, comes with a firewall program preinstalled. As all you computer gurus know, a computer
firewall is a hardware or software tool that examines all
Internet traffic letting only “safe” traffic into your computer.
The firewall for Vista was supposed to scan Internet traffic
both entering and leaving your computer. I can hear some
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558-0286
Address Services Requested
of you saying, “If I scan incoming traffic to be safe, why
do I care about outbound traffic?”. Well, incoming traffic
is the bigger threat to you. Using pre-defined rules it
determines which programs are allowed to use your network
connection or which ports can be used for communications.
If some spyware, Trojans or malicious “phone home”
software slip past your firewall they may allow someone
to take remote control of your computer to attack it other
computers through your Internet connection (that’s why
Microsoft is always sending you those security updates).
So a firewall that scans outbound traffic attempts to stop
this. To make a longer story short, contrary to plans, the
ability to check outbound traffic has not been provided
with Vista’s firewall.
Another shortcoming of Vista’s firewall is that it does
not create a log of all attempts to contact your computer
from a local network or the Internet. This kind of record
can be useful if you suspect a hacker has been visiting your
computer in the middle of the night. Actually, there is a
way that you can modify Vista’s firewall to create a log and
examine outbound traffic. The process to set this up is
probably more complicated than most of us would like to
deal with so I offer a much easier solution. Turn off Vista’s
firewall and install a third party firewall program. Do not
try to use two or more firewall programs at the same time.
They do not play well together. There are a number of
firewall programs that you can purchase as well as some
that are free. I’ve been using the free version of Zone
Alarm for many years and I’m satisfied with its protection.
It also creates a log that I can use to examine attempts to
connect to my computer. You can find it on the Internet at
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