COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue The Napa Valley Personal

COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue The Napa Valley Personal
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
http://www.
nvpcug.org
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
COMPUTER
NEWS
Volume 26, No. 5
May 2009
Inside This Issue
2
2
2
3
4
5
NVPCUG Special Interest Groups
NVPCUG Calendar
President’s Message
Officers List
Tech News Tidbits
How Can I Teach My Windows
Mouse New Tricks? (And When
Should I Buy a New Mouse?)
6
How to Work Faster with
Keyboard Shortcuts
7 Q: How can I keep from losing
gadgets like remote controls?
8 Things That You Can Do With
That Flash Drive
10 Dozens of PC Utilities Free
for the Taking
12 How Fast Is My Broadband
Internet Connection? What Does
Connection Speed Mean?
13 Q: How can I keep my PC clean
and tidy?
14 Panda Introduces Totally New
Antivirus Technology – FREE
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users
Group has served novice and experienced
computer users since 1983. Through its
monthly meetings, newsletters, online
forum, special interest groups, mentor
program and community involvement,
it has helped educate people of all ages.
The NVPCUG provides opportunities for
people to find friends who share common
interests and experiences. From January
2003 to October 2007 the NVPCUG
provided 783 computers and 140 printers
to local schools. Additional equipment
has been given to charitable nonprofit
organizations and to disadvantaged
individuals.
The Napa Valley Personal
Computer Users Group will meet
Wednesday, May 20th,
7:00-9:00 P.M.
At the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California
Have you sent information about your
favorite web site to the Computer Tutor yet?
In addition to April 15th being the deadline
for filing your income taxes (which I am sure
you have done already), it is the night of the
General Meeting of the NVPCUS. So indulge
yourself and join us.
The meeting begins with Random Access, an
open-floor question-and-answer period
during which attendees can ask questions
about computers and computer-related
problems and receive helpful information
from other meeting attendees. Questions may
be submitted before the meeting by emailing
them to Random Access moderator Jerry Brown at
[email protected]
During the May Computer Tutor session and the main
presentation session our own Jeff Solomon will show us
favorite MEMBER web sites and why they are favorites. If
you have an idea or question that the Computer Tutor can
demonstrate or if you wish to tell Jeff of your website and
why it is your favorite, please email your ideas to the
Computer Tutor, Jeff Solomon at [email protected]
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 16 for application
information.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009
NVPCUG
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
& MAC GROUP
In SIG meetings you can learn about
a subject in greater detail than is
feasible at NVPCUG general
meetings. SIG meetings are open to
everyone. 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, www.nvpcug.org, or
contact the SIG leaders.
Investors SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
President’s Message
By Ron Dack, president, http://
www.nvpcug.org/, [email protected]
March 2009
There was no BoD meeting in February and
I was absent for the March meeting. It is my
opinion that the group is operating efficiently
and is moving in the right direction. I would
like to see some of the burden taken off Susy
Ball so she does not burn out. Some people
are wearing a few to many hats and officer
burnout is a real possibility.
After using the new wireless microphone system at last months
general meeting I think Jim Gray found the perfect system for
our needs. Now we have to concentrate on keeping it all together
and not let things disappear.
Take care,
Digital Photography SIG
Ron
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]
Use System Restore
Napa Valley Mac User Group
Meets: Monthly, second Thursday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Leader: Ron Rogers
(707) 226-5352
ronrogersnapamug
@gmail.com
System Restore is Windows' utility that can roll your system's
settings back to a previous date, or Restore Point. System Restore
doesn't alter files you've recently created, such as email and Word
docs. Using a Restore Point will remove any Windows updates or
program-specific upgrades (particularly virus and spyware
definitions) you installed after the Restore Point's date. You'll
need to reinstall these after the restoration. To use System Restore
in WinXP, click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and
System Restore and follow the steps given.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart Computing
can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG 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
May 20
Jun 3
Jun 8
Jun 10
Jun 11
Jun 17
July 1
July 8
July 13
July 9
July 15
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.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
NVPCUG General Meeting + D
Board of Directors meeting + B
Investors SIG meeting + C
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Board of Directors meeting + B
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Investors SIG meeting + C
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 2
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 2009
Board of Directors
President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Other Directors:
Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Dick Peterson
738-1812
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
253-2721
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Ron Dack, Jim Gray, Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman,
Kathy Slavens, Dean Unruh, Marcia Waddell, and Roy Wagner.
Jim Gray
unlisted
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
553-2114
[email protected]
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
252-1506
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Kathy Slavens
251-9193
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Librarian
Dean Unruh
226-9164
[email protected]
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
224-2540
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell
252-2060
[email protected]
Programs Director
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
254-9607
[email protected]
Special Projects Director
VOLUNTEER NEEDED
[email protected]
Webmaster
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 3
NVPCUG
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is
published monthly by
the Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group, Inc.
(NVPCUG), P.O. Box
2866, Napa, CA
94558-0286.
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected]
The material in
Computer News is
intended for
noncommercial
purposes and may not
be reproduced without
prior written permission,
except that permission
for reproducing articles,
with authors properly
credited, is granted to
other computer user
groups for their internal,
nonprofit use only. The
information in this
newsletter is believed
to be correct. However,
the NVPCUG can
assume neither
responsibility for errors
or omissions nor liability
for any damages
resulting from the use
or misuse of any
information.
The NVPCUG is an IRC
501(c)(3) tax-exempt
nonprofit educational
organization (EIN 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
international
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are
tax-deductible as
charitable contributions
to the extent allowed by
law. Copyright © 2008
by NVPCUG.
Tech News Tidbits
By Terry Robert, Program Chair, ICON (Interactive Computer Owner’s Network), MO,
www.icon.org, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
1.
U.S. 37.0 percent
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
2.
China (including Hong Kong) 27.7 percent
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
3.
Russia 9.1 percent
My intention in writing this article each month is to help
4.
the rest of the connected world 26.2%
us understand technology’s emerging trends that affect
our everyday lives. While researching material for this Symantec also found the U.S. to host the most malware of
month’s submission, I felt compelled to share these all nations, but with lower percentages, and did not include
alarming trends with the rest of you.
Russia in their results.
Sophos, a leading U.K.-based IT security and control
We haven’t devoted a lot of time to security issues
firm, just published their “Security Threat Report 2009”, recently, but if you’ve participated in some of the
which examined the “threat landscape” over the last 12 discussions we have had, you know there are numerous
months, and predicted the emerging cybercrime trends effective strategies for protecting yourself from attacks.
for 2009. Two major points in the report are very Avoid being connected to the Internet unless protected by:
alarming:
• Dependable antivirus software (with current
• American computers are making a disturbingly
updates)
large contribution to the problems of viruses and
o Products include Avast, AVG,
spam affecting all of us today.”
Norton, and McAfee
• American websites host more malware and relay
• Malware detection and removal software
more spam than any other country
o Products include Spybot Search and
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for
Destroy, Adaware, Spyware Blaster,
Sophos, said “Too many American computers have
and Advanced WindowsCare
been compromised and are under the control of hackers,
• Software firewall
and nationally, the U.S. is carrying the most malicious
o Products include Windows Firewall
Web pages. When an American Internet company,
(protects only against incoming
accused of collaborating with spammers and hackers,
threats in XP), Zone Alarm, and
was disconnected from the net in November, the amount
Kerio
of spam was immediately reduced by 75%.
• A healthy dose of common sense
Sophos’s research reveals that in 2008, organized
o If you receive a popup telling you
criminal gangs tripled their attacks against innocent
that your computer has been
websites, injecting malicious code to infect visiting
compromised, advising you to:
“Click here to correct the problem”
home users and businesses. They also documented an
...DON’T TAKE THE BAIT!
average of five new scareware websites (hackers posing
If
you
have
no
strategy,
do yourself (and the rest of us)
as legitimate anti-virus vendors) each day, with the
intention of scaring users into believing that their a favor, learn to protect yourself. Maybe you should
attend more ICON functions?!
computers have been compromised.
„
By the end of 2008, Sophos was also tracking five
times more malicious attacks arriving through e-mail
Look For A Frame
attachments than at the start of the year, proving that
Frames
don’t just belong around your
hacking has become mainstream among organized crime.
photo; they may belong within it, too.
As the Internet has matured into the foremost
Keep an eye out for something in the
information resource on the planet, cyber criminals
environment you can use as an impromptu
have refined their methods. Hackers are using
frame for your subject: windows,
automated systems to break into vulnerable websites
doorways, branches, overhanging rocks,
and/or generate new variants of their malware
or any other objects in the foreground or
background that will make for a more
throughout the world!
intriguing arrangement.
According to Sophos’s findings, China was
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing.
responsible for hosting more than 50 percent of all webVisit www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to
based malware in 2007, but this position was taken over
learn what Smart Computing can do for you and
your user group!
by the U.S. in 2008. Their breakdown of the top malware
hosting countries follows:
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 4
How Can I Teach My Windows Mouse
New Tricks? (And When Should I Buy a New Mouse?)
By Gabe Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc., [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
For many people, the Windows
mouse hasn’t evolved much since
the dawn of the PC. This is
especially true of bottom-bargain
gadgets often provided as standard
PC purchase accessories: two
buttons boringly labeled Left and
Right, wired to the computer, and
sensing motion through a small rotating
sphere in contact with a desk or mousepad. If
you’re using one of these, a very economical upgrade can
greatly prove your mousing game.
Perhaps the most basic mouse-tech enhancement was
the scroll wheel, first available a decade or more ago,
allowing easy up-and-down motion within most
applications’ files. If your hand is already on the mouse for
file editing, spinning the wheel can be much more
convenient than moving the cursor to the scroll bar and
then back to the file area.
Since some mouse software only handles
basic tasks, more exotic functions may
require a simple software install.
(Many manufacturers provide diverse
mouse critters and other pointing/tracking
devices; if you’re not using a Microsoft mouse,
check the Web site for whatever gadget you have
at hand, since similar capabilities may be available.)
<a href = “http://www.loc8tor.com”>
Loc8tor</a>
Googling “intellimouse” takes you to <a href =”http://
www.microsoft.com/hardware/
mouseandkeyboard/ProductDetails.
aspx?pid=003">
Microsoft’s Web page</a> where you can click
Download Software and navigate to <a href = “http:/
/www.microsoft.com/hardware/download/
download.aspx?category=MK”>
Download Mouse and Keyboard Software</a> and
select/download software for your device.
Many
Microsoft
mice
(“mouses”?) allow tilting the scroll
wheel left/right for horizontal scrolling
of files too wide to fully display,
providing convenient two-dimensional
motion. And some allow the scroll wheel
to be a third button to click,
providing instant access to your
favorite common function.
Even better, many Microsoft
mice add another button or two,
potentially making available a
total of five quick-action functions. Intellimouse
software provides great flexibility in defining mousebutton actions, such as Show/Hide Desktop, Forward/
Back browser funtions, Magnify, Copy/Cut/Paste, etc.
Setting a button to Magnify gives one-click access to a
tailorable (size/shape and degree of magnification)
magnifying glass that’s great for viewing small/intricate
on-screen details.
Wireless mouse operation avoids tangling the mouse
cable in desktop clutter and optical/laser operation is
smoother and more reliable than old-style mouseball
motion sensing. New mouse shapes are more ergonomic,
improving hand positioning, important for people in
intimate contact with their mouse for many hours per day.
And Intellimouse software — free to download —
provides many more mousing capabilities and options
including tailorable pointer icons, trails, and speeds. Don’t
settle for Mickey (mouse) when Mighty
(mouse) is available. After buying a
new device, check for newer software
than came in the package — you may
pick up features or bug fixes.
„
This article first appeared on the Tiplet Web site,
<www.tiplet.com> and is copyrighted by the author, Gabriel
Goldberg. All rights are reserved; it may be reproduced, downloaded,
or disseminated, for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for
educational purposes, with attribution to Tiplet and the author. It
should be unchanged and this paragraph must be included. Please
e-mail the author at [email protected] when you use it,
or for permission to excerpt or condense. Tiplet’s free newsletter
provides weekly computer tips.
Earbuds
If you're looking for a new set of earbuds consider a pair
with sound-isolating capabilities. Sound-isolating earbuds
steer audio directly into the ear canal to isolate audio from
ambient noise rather than cancel it out. Sound-isolating
earbuds rely on creating a tight seal in the ear canal with the
earbuds. Sound-isolating earbuds don't require a battery.
They rely on using tips, sleeves, cushions, and flanges to
create a seal in the ear canal, thus isolating audio and
preventing ambient noise from entering the ear canal.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 5
How to Work Faster with Keyboard
Shortcuts
Written by Gabe Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc., [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
The Windows mouse is a mixed blessing. It does things –
like highlighting and dragging text — that would be tough
to do with a keyboard. And yet moving one’s hand between
mouse and keyboard is a major distraction and time
waster; even accomplished touch typers lose keyboard
focus when mousing.
So it’s worth exploring how Windows’ flexibility,
providing multiple ways
to do things, lets
keyboard shortcuts
replace many common
mouse functions. First,
remember that many
tasks are standardized
across
Windows
applications, so learning
them once helps early
and often. And while
they’ll become second
nature as you practice
them, don’t be
overwhelmed by their
number — notice a few
that will be most helpful
and consciously use
them instead of mouse clicks. When they’re automatic
for your hands, pick a few more. You’ll soon amaze
colleagues and friends with your dexterity.
The most common shortcuts include
•
•
•
•
•
F1: Help
Ctrl+Esc: Open Start menu
Alt+Tab: Switch between open programs
Alt+F4: Quit program
Shift+Delete: Delete item permanently
Key combinations for editing include
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Ctrl+C: Copy
Ctrl+X: Cut
Ctrl+V: Paste
Ctrl+Z: Undo
Ctrl+B: Bold
Ctrl+U: Underline
Ctrl+I: Italic
<a href = “http://support.microsoft.com/
kb/126449”>Microsoft </a> provides many shortcut
categories, including General folder/shortcut control,
Windows Explorer tree control, Accessibility shortcuts,
and Dialog box keyboard commands.
A similar page for<a href = “h t t p : / /
support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/
Keyboard+shortcuts”> Firefox</a> lists an amazing
assortment of shortcuts for everything but shining your
shoes and waxing your car.
A simple way to learn
frequently used shortcuts is
to note their definitions
on pull-downs from
application menu bars.
To speed using favorite
applications, press F1 for
Helpandlookfor“keyboard
shortcuts” or the equivalent.
Or Google the name of your
app plus “keyboard
shortcuts” (with quote
marks). There’s ample
information; Googling
“keyboard shortcuts” by
itself finds almost four
million hits!
Finally, a time-saving Web browser (Internet Explorer,
Firefox, etc.) keystroke combo is Ctrl+Enter, which allows
typing part of a domain name (e.g., “microsoft”) and having the
browser add “http://www.” at the front and “.com”, at the end.
That is, entering “microsoft” in the address bar and pressing
Ctrl+Enter creates “http://www.microsoft.com”.
Firefox adds Shift+Enter and Ctrl+Shift+Enter which similarly
complete .net and .org URLs.
„
This article first appeared on the Tiplet Web site,
<www.tiplet.com> and is copyrighted by the author, Gabriel
Goldberg. All rights are reserved; it may be reproduced, downloaded,
or disseminated, for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for
educational purposes, with attribution to Tiplet and the author. It
should be unchanged and this paragraph must be included. Please
e-mail the author at [email protected] when you use it,
or for permission to excerpt or condense. Tiplet’s free newsletter
provides weekly computer tips.
Here are three more that are very useful:
• Ctrl+A: Select All
• Ctrl+S: save
(and don’t forget)
• Ctrl+P: Print
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 6
Q: How can I keep from losing gadgets
like remote controls?
A review by Gabe Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc., [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s Plus – giving parent and child, or caregiver and patient, a
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
simple and fast way to communicate an urgent message.
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
The tags are just a bit too large to mount on eyeglasses.
Eyeglasses case, TV remote control, car keys, cat. Where
That
would require a rice-grain size item and the
is it? Things we have – animate or inanimate – sometimes
manufacturer
simply can’t – yet – fit battery, antenna,
take on a life of their own and do NOT cooperate by
radio,
light,
and
beeper into something that small. And
appearing when they’re wanted.
I’ve not yet convinced my wife that wearing a tag as an
We can’t tie strings to them all, and blaming one’s earring would be a pleasant fashion accessory, while
spouse for their disappearance is only briefly satisfying. letting me locate her in our house and yard.
So<a href = “http://www.loc8tor.com”>
But aside from those minor limitations, it’s a great tool
Loc8tor</a>, a small gadget that finds what’s missing, is
for avoiding tedious searches. True story: Such a device
handy to have around.
once found my keys in the pocket of a heavy winter coat
Loc8tor provides two kinds of small homing tag and two I was wearing, saving me the trouble of wandering all over
handheld locating devices which work like modern-day the house and THEN looking in my pockets. Depending
dowsing rods. The tags, attached to valuables, signal the on construction material, the signal works through walls
devices from up to 600 feet away. The fancier device and floors and can locate a car in a parking garage – though
(pocket-sized Loc8tor Plus) has a small radar screen likely only on the correct level. Testimonials describe use
which displays lines pointing towards a missing tag; it can with pets, model airplanes, toys, and even for construction
handle up to 24 tags. The lesser device (credit card-sized and running cables.
Loc8tor Lite, handles four tags) uses a row of lights and a
Loc8tor Plus Pack (locating device, three Mini-Homing
beeping tone to signal when it’s pointed towards the tag;
Tags,
one Panic Homing Tag) costs $170; Loc8tor Lite
more lights lit and faster beeps shows the device’s
excitement at pointing in the correct direction. Using costs $80 (locating device, two Mini-Homing Tags). „
either device, when you get close, the tag’s blinking light
and chirping brings you in for the finish.
The Mini-Homing Tag can be found by either Loc8tor;
the Loc8tor Plus can sound an alert if a tag goes beyond a
settable distance away – useful for keeping children or
pets within a comfortable range. The Panic Homing Tag
includes a button which sounds an alert on the Loc8tor
This article first appeared on the Tiplet Web site,
<www.tiplet.com> and is copyrighted by the author, Gabriel
Goldberg. All rights are reserved; it may be reproduced, downloaded,
or disseminated, for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for
educational purposes, with attribution to Tiplet and the author. It
should be unchanged and this paragraph must be included. Please
e-mail the author at [email protected] when you use it,
or for permission to excerpt or condense. Tiplet’s free newsletter
provides weekly computer tips.
Don’
Don’tt be left out!
O
NLY
Ther
e’
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here’
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$75
to rre
egister ffor
or the
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The
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Southw
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Dieg
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May
Includes
Admittance to all Workshops, Vendor Expo, Meals,
Sponsored T-shirt, and Conference Bag
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 7
Things That You Can Do With
That Flash Drive
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX;
Radio Talk Show Host, [email protected] apcug.net
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s was getting a bargain a few years ago when I bought my
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
first flash drive, a 64mb Lexar, for $49, and now a drive
uses require the permission of the author (see
e-mail address above).
WEBSITES:
http://portableapps.com
http://u3.sandisk.com/
download/
Download_no.asp
http://www.microsoft.com/
windows/windows-vista/
f e a t u r e s /
readyboost.aspx
With the demise of the floppy disk, and
the approaching demise of the CD disc
for data purposes, the USB flash drive
has become the defacto method of saving
and transporting files between
computers. These small USB drives are known by a
with about 64 times that capacity is about one-fourth the
price! I have co-workers and students who wear their flash
drives on cords around their necks, where they are referred
to as “geek beads”.
Most of us use the drive simply for portable storage, the
ability to carry files around with us, but in reality these
flash drives can do much more than to simply be used for
storage. Most of the USB flash drives on the market today
comply with the USB 2.0 standard for high speed transfer,
while there still are a few inexpensive, low capacity drives
that are of the slower USB 1.1 speed standard, or only
about 3% of the speed of the USB 2.0 drives. From a
practical viewpoint, the user will not notice any significant
difference in speed if small files are saved and read, but
will notice a difference if large files are used.
variety of monikers, such as flash drive, pen drive, pin
drive, and thumb drive. Since their introduction a few
years ago, their capacity has increased, and their prices
have plunged. They are readily available in the big box
stores, discount stores, club stores, and online. The most
recent ones I purchased for the holidays were 8 gig size
(almost the equivalent of the data stored on 2 standard
DVD discs, about a dozen CD discs, or about 5700 floppy
disks), and cost under $15 each. In the after-Christmas
sales, some 8 gig flash drives were advertised for $9 each
(after rebate). This amount of non-volatile storage for the
price was inconceivable just a few years ago. I thought I
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 8
Î
There are some other standards for USB flash drives that
many users may find beneficial, if their flash drives have
the capabilities. Users of Microsoft Vista (Home Basic,
Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate versions) may
find it advantageous to purchase flash drives that are
labeled as “ReadyBoost”. According to Microsoft,
“Windows Vista introduces Windows ReadyBoost, a new
concept in adding memory to a system. You can use nonvolatile flash memory, such as that on a universal serial
bus (USB) flash drive, to improve performance without
having to add additional memory “under the hood.” If the
drive is compatible with the ReadyBoost standard, some
of the flash memory in the drive can effectively and
temporarily be added to the RAM (memory) installed in
the computer, with an improvement on performance. If the
Vista user with a compatible flash drive right clicks on the
flash drive letter displayed under “My Computer” or
Windows Explorer, and then left clicks on Properties –
ReadyBoost, Vista will recommend how much of the
available memory on the drive can be effectively and
safely utilized by Vista. Other data stored on the
ReadyBoost drive is protected from damage, and will not
be harmed if the drive is used as a ReadyBoost drive.
Because of the higher performance requirements,
ReadyBoost compatible flash drives are slightly more
expensive than standard drives, but are often the least
expensive way to add memory to a Vista computer.
Another useful feature often found on a USB flash drive
is known as “U3”. Drives that are U3 compatible are
labeled as such. A U3 powered flash drive allows the user
to carry special versions of hundreds of programs on the
flash drive that can be run directly from the flash drive
without being installed on the computer. This is an effective
way to carry the actual software the user is familiar with,
and run it on other computers. When unplugged from the
computer, U3 leaves no data or other information left on
the computer that was used. Some of the popular programs
that come in U3 formats are the Firefox browser, Skype
telephone, McAfee Antivirus (about $15), RoboForm
Password Manager, OpenOffice (the comprehensive suite
of office software including a Microsoft compatible word
processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, database,
and more, free), Thunderbird email client, and dozens of
games. Most U3 drives come preinstalled with password
protection and a “U3 Launchpad” which is a menu driven
directory of the software on the U3 drive.
For those of us who have standard non-U3 drives, there
is now an alternative that provides for the same
functionality. This alternative to U3 that will run on almost
all contemporary flash drives is called “PortableApps”,
and can be found online at portableapps.com. According
to the PortableApp website, “A portable app is a computer
program that you can carry around with you on a portable
device and use on any Windows computer. When your
USB flash drive, portable hard drive, iPod or other portable
device is plugged in, you
have access to your
software and personal
data just as you would on
your own PC. And when
you unplug the device,
none of your personal data
is left behind.” Dozens of
portable apps are
available, including the
Firefox
browser,
OpenOffice office suite,
antivirus software, games,
password managers, and
many other pieces of
software.
The
PortableApp Suite is totally free, and does not contain any
spyware or adware. In addition to the bundled suite, there
are many other programs available, almost all free, which
will run as portable apps. The PortableApp website keeps
a running tally of new software that is available, including
new releases and versions, as well as beta (pre-release)
software. A simple click will install the selected software
on the flash drive.
Now that many of us are routinely carrying flash drives,
it is nice to know that they may be capable of doing much
more for us than just transport data.
„
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 9
Dozens of PC Utilities Free
for the Taking
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX;
Radio Talk Show Host, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
WEBSITES:
http://tinyurl.com/95free-utilities
http://openoffice.org
http://www.iobit.com
http://www.defraggler.com
http://www.recuva.com
I read a lot of online computer magazines. Most of them
are American, but some are foreign, including from such
diverse places as England, Germany, and Australia.
Recently the Australian magazine PCWorld Australia
published an article titled (sic) “95 great free sites and
downloads you’ve probably never heard of” (tinyurl.com/
95free-utilities). From the feedback I have received from
readers of this column, there is great interest in totally free
computer utilities, especially in these pressing economic
times.
The article categorizes the free software into 12 categories
including productivity software, music utilities, security
tools, web enhancers, phone utilities, photo and video
managers, social networking, PC performance
enhancements, file synchronization, and business
applications. In the productivity software category, the
first recommendation is one of my personal favorites,
OpenOffice. OpenOffice (OpenOffice.org), which was
reviewed in this column last year, is a full featured free
office suite that can read and write Microsoft Office files
such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as many
other formats. With its frequent updates and enhancements,
OpenOffice would be a wise choice for anyone who wants
an office suite with “all the bells and whistles” totally free.
The menu hierarchy and appearance are nearly identical to
Word, Excel, and other Microsoft Office products providing
for a “near zero” learning curve for anyone familiar with
Microsoft Office products. Other productivity utilities are
displayed including: Flowgram, which can create webbased multimedia presentations; Gubb, which is a personal
time manager; PrimoOnline, which helps you create
PDFs without software; and “Remember the Milk” which
helps you to remember to do anything, and integrates
many platforms, including BlackBerry, iPhone, Gmail,
and Windows Mobile.
The music utilities category has several programs that I
am not familiar with, but appear to be very attractive, and
since they are totally free, there is no downside risk in
trying them. The one rated as a “BEST BET” by the
magazine is Songbird, an open-source downloadable media
player that’s completely customizable and packed with
innovative features. Songbird is both a music player and
a Web browser that enables the quick downloading of
music. Other utilities listed include “SharePod”, which
enabled iPod users to change, backup, or share music
between iPod users.
The security category includes some utilities that I have
written about in the past. The one top rated by PCWorld
Australia is the excellent and free Avast Antivirus, which
utilizes seven different “shields” to protect the computer
from attack from different sources and vectors. Avast is
one of the most popular free security utilities with tens of
millions of devoted users, and would be a good choice for
anyone wanting a free antivirus product that is equal to or
superior than many of the expensive commercial
competitors. Other free security utilities listed are from “asquared” (previously discussed in this column); “Attack
Trace”, which can detect if a website is under attack;
Comodo EasyVPN Home, which allows the user to create
a virtual private network (also recently discussed in my
column); a firewall, and a pair of excellent anti-spyware
utilities. These utilities would all be worthy of consideration
as their quality is generally excellent, and often better than
their commercial counterparts.
Most of us use our internet browsers directly as they
come from the publisher, unaware that there are tweaks
that are available to improve our online experience. There
are thousands of plug-ins and add-on’s for Firefox, and
unknown to many there are also many similar
improvements for Internet Explorer. These plug-ins listed
in the magazine article include a note taker for Firefox, a
news reader which is an improvement over the one
integrated with Internet Explorer, a FTP (file transfer)
utility for Firefox, a nifty utility “Google Preview” that
displays thumbnail images of web pages that appear in
Google search results, IE7Pro which adds Firefox-like
features to IE7, a mapping utility that automatically displays
street maps by clicking on an address, and “Video Download
Helper” which is a Firefox plug-in that I use to download
videos from the major video sites such as YouTube. The 11
browser enhancements listed may add a lot of enjoyment
to the web browsing experience.
Being a typical geek, I like to try and tweak the best
performance that my computer is capable of delivering.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 10
PCWorld Australia editors and I think alike as we have
both written about some the same free performance
enhancement utilities. At the top of the magazine’s list is
one of my personal favorites that I use regularly, Advanced
System Care Free, available from www.iobit.com.
This is a full featured performance utility that has dozens
of tools to enhance PC performance, including a registry
cleaner, anti-spyware, internet speed-up tools, and many
others. I routinely put this program on almost every
computer that I use. Just a few weeks ago I wrote about free
utilities from Piriform, including a unique defragmentation
utility called Defraggler (www.defraggler.com). This
utility, which is on my computer, can quickly defragment
files, folders, or an entire hard drive. Recuva
Printer Sharing
If your PCs are all on a home network, you can just use
a print server. A print server lets you connect your
printers as network devices, which allows any of your
home PCs to access any of the printers, regardless of
which PCs are on. There are several ways to approach
this. The easiest way is to use a single print server that
will handle all of your printers. For example, the DLink DP-300U ($85; http://www.dlink.com)
provides two parallel ports and a USB (Universal
(www.recuva.com), also from Piriform, is a file recovery
utility that can undelete files on hard drives, flash drives,
and other forms of media. I have personally used Recuva
to restore some photos accidentally deleted from my
digital camera, and it worked fine!
This article can be read online at tinyurl.com/95freeutilities, where dozens more free utilities can be found.
The actual URL of the magazine was much longer (138
characters), so I used the free online utility TinyURL
(www.tinyurl.com) to create a much smaller URL
that would be easier to enter. I hope that the readers of this
column will be more aware that there are some fine free
programs out there that are worthy of a chance. I suggest
that you try some of them.
„
Serial Bus) port—it supports three printers with one
Ethernet port to the home network. You’ll need to
relocate your printers to a single location. Of course,
you’ll also need to configure each printer on the print
server and then reconfigure each home PC to use the
various printers, but detailed instructions included
with just about every print server should make this a
fairly simple operation.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 11
How Fast Is My Broadband Internet
Connection? What Does Connection Speed Mean?
By Gabe Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc., [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like to brag about
connection speeds offered and speak glowingly about the
wonderful “experience” their services offer. But how
honest are their claims and how does connection speed
affect what we do online?
The two most important words in any ISPs advertisement
or service contract are “up to”. As in, speeds promised are
described as “up to X megabits per second”.
(Megabits means “millions of bits” and “megabits per
second” is often abbreviated Mbps. A bit is the basic
unit of information or data, a “binary digit”, a single
unit that is either 0 or 1. Everything on the Internet and
all information and software on your computer is
composed of bits.)
But quoting “up to” speeds is like saying that an
automobile whose speedometer dial includes the number
160 can travel “up to 160 MPH”. When shopping for a car
or an ISP, claims shouldn’t be taken as facts — though
some are safer to verify than others.
It’s a pleasant surprise when ISPs deliver speeds faster
than promised. That results from advancing technology
and — in areas fortunate enough to have multiple broadband
ISPs – competition. More common, though, is discovering
that delivered service doesn’t quite match the 160 MPH
sort of promise ISPs make.
So to keep your ISP honest and detect problems, and
for bragging rights, it’s useful to occasionally measure
connection speeds. Internet connections are usually
described with two speeds: download and upload. For
nearly everyone, download speed matters most – it’s the
rate at which data, Web sites, email, sound files, video
streams, telephone calls, and services yet to be invented
reach your computer. This greatly affects your Internet
experience, determining whether your browser responds
quickly or sluggishly to Web requests, how quickly
email arrives, etc.
Upload speed measures how fast your computer sends
data such as email or Web requests to the Internet. Unless
you frequently send large volumes of or huge email or
other files — or run a server of some sort – this speed
likely isn’t critical.
A number of Web sites measure connections
speeds. My favorite is <a href = “h t t p : / /
speedtest.net”>SpeedTest.net</a>; Googling
“speed test” finds others. It opens showing you a couple of
gauges, a small map of the world, and a large map of your
region. Your local map will include many blue pyramids
and one orange symbol – that’s the closest and
recommended server for your test.
Click the orange pyramid to run download and upload
speed tests. When they finish, click My Summary at top
to see your download test results along with a number of
comparisons – your ISP’s average speed and its speed in
your state, your state’s average, and similar numbers for
the USA, North America, and globally. Click Upload
Results for that set of speeds. SpeedTest.net reports
speeds in kb/s – that is, kilobits per second. One Mbps is
1000 kb/s, so an ISP’s promised speed of 5 Mbps would
show as 5000 kb/s.
As you run occasional speed tests, your history of
speeds achieved lets you can track trends and detect
problems. If your speeds don’t match your ISP’s promises
– or they decline – it’s worth investigating. Note that cable
connection speeds often vary more than those of DSL or
FiOS services, though cable broadband is usually faster
than DSL. I’m pleased with my Cox cable service, usually
delivering more than 20 Mbps download and about 2.5
Mbps upload.
www.nytimes.com/2009/02/12/
technology/personaltech/12askk002.html
Q. I am trying to decide which type of broadband service
to use. I see that a DSL provider offers “up to 7.1 Mbps,”
while the cable company says it can do “up to 10 Mbps.”
What do these numbers mean?
A. The numbers refer to how fast you can download files
over your Internet connection. Data transfer speeds are
traditionally measured in bits per second. The “7.1 Mbps”
figure means that the DSL provider says it can download
a file to your computer at 7.1 megabits (or million bits) a
second, and the cable company says it can move that file
faster, at up to 10 megabits a second.
Higher speeds save time when downloading large files
like movies, music, large photos and other hefty chunks of
data because you receive it all quicker – in theory. In
reality, the actual data transfer rates will probably be much
slower than advertised.
Congestion on the Internet, the number of other
people using the service at the same time, and even
settings on your computer can affect how quickly your
data actually moves.
Be aware that what goes down does not usually go up as
fast. Most broadband services have faster speeds for
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 12
snagging files than for sending them. For example, a DSL
provider may offer 7.1 megabits a second for downloads,
but only 768 kilobits a second for uploading files.
When shopping for a service, be sure to find out the
speeds for both directions in the data transfer if you expect
to be uploading large files on a regular basis.
If you are looking for opinions on specific service
providers, the DSLReports site has reviews and information
at www.dslreports.com. For more about the
measurements and data transfer speeds, check out the
SpeedGuide site’s article on bits, bytes and
bandwidth at snipurl.com/bcqtp.
„
This article first appeared on the Tiplet Web site,
<www.tiplet.com> and is copyrighted by the author, Gabriel
Goldberg. All rights are reserved; it may be reproduced, downloaded,
or disseminated, for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for
educational purposes, with attribution to Tiplet and the author. It
should be unchanged and this paragraph must be included. Please
e-mail the author at [email protected] when you use it,
or for permission to excerpt or condense. Tiplet’s free newsletter
provides weekly computer tips.
Q: How can I keep my PC clean and tidy?
Written by Gabe Goldberg, Computers and Publishing, Inc., [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Like changing your car’s oil or replacing your home’s air
conditioner filter, a little PC cleaning pays off with a faster,
more reliable, and longer-lasting computer.
Although nothing suggested here is either rocket science
or inherently dangerous, always follow the medical adage,
“First, do no harm”. So don’t do anything that makes you
uncomfortable (perhaps have a more experienced person
clean up while you watch and learn), and back up your
system and data. Then reboot, to get a clean start, and don’t
open any programs,
Before starting, to measure what your cleanup deletes,
determine how full your hard drive is. Open My Computer,
Right Click your hard drive (usually labeled “Local Disk
(C:)”), and click Properties. Note how much space is used
and free, then close the dialogue box.
Next, use Windows’ built-in disk cleaning tool. Click
Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup,
and the drive to clean, likely C. Choose what to clean;
default selections are usually what you need. To be extra
thorough, if your system has been running problem free,
click the More Options tab and then Clean Up System
Restore. Confirm your choice and click OK.
Delete Web browser temporary files. Using Internet
Explorer, click Tools on the Menu Bar, Internet Options, and
Delete Files under the General tab. Other browsers provide
similar functions, sometimes using “cache” to refer to the
collection of temporary files.
Delete unneeded personal files, items outdated and no
longer used. While most Microsoft Office programs (Word,
Excel, etc.) store their files in the My Documents folder, you
may have changed this default location. And other apps likely
have their own favorite places to stash files. Look around,
since cluttered files make Windows work harder to get things
done and waste time and resources when they’re backed up.
If you collect photos, music and such, delete those you no
longer want or need, perhaps saving them on CD/DVD or ISB
drive. Sorting files by size or date helps find deletion candidates.
If you run PC-based email software, it’s worth periodically
purging Sent and Trash folders, perhaps pitching material
older than a certain date. Then look for a Compact Folders
option, sometimes on the File pulldown menu, which
squeezes out unused space from email folders.
Weed out software no longer used or useful by uninstalling
applications with Window’s Control Panel Add/Remove
Software tool.
The Recycle Bin, which preserves erased files for recovery
until it’s emptied, has likely grown during this cleanup
process. To empty it, Right Click its Windows desktop icon
and click Empty Recycle Bin. Note that programs such as
Norton Utilities may offer other cleanup options for the
Recycle Bin and other Windows components.
Finally, remember that when writing to your hard drive,
Windows places bits of each file in the next available open
space on the hard drive.
While Windows can reassemble them, having many files
fragmented slows access to them. So, to store all files as
single entities, periodically defragment the hard drive. To do
this, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools,
Disk Defragmenter, select a drive, and click Defragment.
When finished, compare the amount of hard drive space
used and free to what you saw initially. If this is the first
cleanup you’ve done in a while, the amount of space recovered
may surprise you.
Many books give much more detailed instructions for
PC cleanups. Search Amazon.com for “degunking
windows” and “cleaning windows” to see choices (but
don’t be distracted by instructions for cleaning house,
„
office, and car windows!).
This article first appeared on the Tiplet Web site,
<www.tiplet.com> and is copyrighted by the author, Gabriel
Goldberg. All rights are reserved; it may be reproduced, downloaded,
or disseminated, for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for
educational purposes, with attribution to Tiplet and the author. It
should be unchanged and this paragraph must be included. Please
e-mail the author at [email protected] when you use it,
or for permission to excerpt or condense. Tiplet’s free newsletter
provides weekly computer tips.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 13
Panda Introduces Totally New Antivirus
Technology – FREE
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX;
Radio Talk Show Host, [email protected]
This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s
permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other
uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
WEBSITES:
http://www.cloudantivirus.com
Most antivirus software has become bloated and a drag
on system performance. One major issue with most
antivirus products is the time delay between the detection
of a new threat, and the time it takes to push updates to
users of the software. Thousands of new viruses and
variants appear every day, and it is a major burden on the
purveyors of antivirus software to keep their respective
products up to date.
Regrettably, many users update their antivirus software
daily, which is woefully inadequate, as most publishers of
the antivirus software now send out updates several times
a day, and in some cases, several times an hour! It often
takes hours for updates to be created by the software
companies and ready for users to update their software.
This still leaves the users’ computers unprotected from the
newest threats during the lengthy time that it takes for new
threats to be detected, analyzed, neutralized, and distributed
to the users of the software. An analogy would be reading
the printed daily newspaper you may have found in your
driveway this morning; it may be today’s newspaper, but
it is really yesterday’s news. That is the same way that
antivirus updates work; the updates
that you download and install right
now, are viruses that were first
detected hours ago, leaving your
computer vulnerable to those threats
during those hours. You may also
have no protection from new viruses
and other malware that have been
detected in the wild, but not yet
included in the latest updates. In the
past, when many new viruses spread
slowly, this time lag was nor serious,
but with the rapidly spreading threats
of today, that delay can be deadly in
a cyber context. We blissfully
traverse the internet safe in the
knowledge that our just updated
antivirus will protect us from
whatever we may come across, but
this blissful ignorance may fail to
consider the new threats in
circulation. Philosophically, if our antivirus and antimalware software was so good, why do millions of
computers that have updated antivirus software still get
infected?
Another issue with the bloated antivirus that many of us
use is the large amount of system resources consumed by
our antivirus software when running, and the degradation
of performance that inevitably occurs. Many of us are
unaware that the antivirus and anti-malware software that
we may be using may be causing a significant slowdown
in our computers’ ability to process data, which is a
frequent cause of degraded computer performance. Some
of the more progressive publishers of antivirus software
have addressed this predicament by releasing software
that is easy on system resources, and does not significantly
degrade performance, but these companies are in the
minority; most antivirus software currently in use, including
several of the most popular titles, are a drag on the system.
Panda Software, a well respected Spanish publisher of
excellent quality system security software, recently
released a free new product that is claimed to resolve the
problems mentioned above. Using the concept of “cloud
computing”, Panda is now distributing its new product
“Cloud Antivirus”. In its simplest form, cloud computing
takes advantage of the combined knowledge and processing
power of large sectors of the internet, where networks
synergistically and instantly work together to intelligently
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 14
solve problems. Panda’s Cloud Antivirus claims to
capitalize on that power by using Panda’s servers in the
cloud, and is currently a free download at
www.cloudantivirus.com. By utilizing the power
of the cloud, Panda claims that new virus and malware
signatures can be available to users of Cloud Antivirus in
as little as six minutes, closing much of the window of
vulnerability from new threats. What makes Panda Cloud
Antivirus such an interesting product is that it is very easy
on system resources, as all of the work of protecting your
computer is done in the cloud, rather than by the CPU in
your computer, which does not degrade system
performance while providing the maximum in protection.
In addition to not degrading performance, it is designed as
an “install and forget” product that removes the user from
the loop of updates, system configuration, and decisions
about threats encountered. Simply stated, Panda Cloud
Antivirus can be downloaded and installed, and no further
intervention or updates are necessary in order to have
comprehensive antivirus and anti-malware protection.
It should be noted that as I type this, the version of Panda
Cloud Antivirus that is available for download is described
by Panda as a “beta” or pre-release version, but by entering
an email address when downloading the software, Panda
states that it will provide a free activation key for the final
version when released, and that Cloud Antivirus will
remain a free product.
Cloud Antivirus works by using a small, resource
sparing dashboard on the user’s desktop. This dashboard
connects your computer to Panda’s data center, which
tracks anything that may be even slightly suspicious,
with Panda’s data center stopping the threat before it can
become active on the computer. By instantly combining
the real-time threat “intelligence” from thousands of
computers, Panda can better detect and react to threats
than more traditional antivirus software. Panda’s CEO
Juan Santana says that Panda’s cloud, “harnesses the
knowledge of Panda’s global community of more than 10
million users to automatically identify and classify new
malware strains in real-time.” In terms of the rapid
growth of cyber threats, “PandaLabs detected more
malware in 2008 than the previous 17 years combined,
representing a major tipping point for both consumers
and the antivirus industry as a whole,” said Santana.
In addition to being reactive, this intelligence can also
be proactive, allowing Panda to predict evolving threats,
and be ready to deal with them before they become an
active threat. By using the power of the cloud, rather than
the power of the user’s computer, there is no drag on
system resources, while the computer is protected from
the latest threats with minimal lag time.
Panda’s Cloud Antivirus is a fascinating new
technology that holds great promise. It may take a
paradigm shift not to download frequent updates, and
scan everything opened and run on the computer, which
consumes great amounts of processing power and slows
the loading and execution of programs and data. If this
new technology is proven as reliable as I hope it
initially appears to be, Panda may be a bigger threat to
its competitors than malware will be to us.
„
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 15
Offering Financial Services throughout the
Napa Valley; with offices in American
Canyon, Calistoga,
Napa, St. Helena
and Yountville
947 Lincoln Avenue
Napa, CA 94559-5066
800-869-3557 www.wellsfargo.com
(707) 299-1000
www.napanet.net • [email protected]
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
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NVPCUG Computer News, May 2009, Page 16
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