COMPUTER NEWS Presented at October 18 NVPCUG Meeting

COMPUTER NEWS  Presented at October 18  NVPCUG Meeting
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
COMPUTER
NEWS
Volume 23, No. 10
Inside This Issue:
2 President’s Message
2 Special Interest Groups
2 Calendar
3 Officers List
4 CTS Recognition by Schools
5 Should Your System be RAIDed?
6 BlueCoat’s K9 Web Protection
7 What Should I Back Up?
8 Downloading a File
10 Linux, Linux Everywhere
11 Update Your BIOS
12 DigitalResolution Made Confusing
13 Search Engine Results
October, 2006
Acronis Backup Program to Be
Presented at October 18 NVPCUG Meeting
By Susy Ball, Programs Director
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group will meet Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California.
The main presentation will feature Acronis True
Image 9.0 Home and will be given by Jeff Solomon,
NVPCUG member since January 2006. The Acronis
program is a great tool to help you back up a few data
files or your entire hard drive and everything on it. It
offers incremental backup images, a feature found on
in the most advanced software. List price for the program is $49.99, but user group members get it for $29.
Jeff Solomon
If you use a program like this on a regular basis you
may be able to avoid the “agony of delete” experienced by computer users
when their hard disk crashes. Jeff, an insurance claims investigator, has
been “playing” with computers since he got his first Packard Bell 386 in
1990.
14 Are You Compuliterate?
16 My Spyware
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. Through its
Computers-to-Schools program, members refurbish used computer equipment for donation to local schools.
Since January 2003 the NVPCUG has
donated 488 computers and 132 printers.
Preceding the main presentation, Jerry Brown will lead the Random Access portion of our meeting with an open-floor question-andanswer period, during which you can ask questions about specific computer-related isses and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees. Don’t forget that you can also e-mail your questions before coning
to the meeting ([email protected]).
Following this, there will be a Computer Tutor session discussing
specific software programs and methods.
Need practical information that will help you make better use of your
computer? Come to this meeting! Guests are welcome; admission is
free.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 1
President's Message
by Dianne Prior
NVPCUG Special
Interest Groups
In SIG meetings you can learn about a
subject in greater detail than is feasible at
NVPCUG general meetings. SIG meetings are
open to everyone. Meeting times and locations
occasionally change, so for current meeting
i n f or m a ti on , s e e o u r W e b s i t e ,
www.nvpcug.org, or contact the SIG leaders.
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]
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]
Macintosh SIG
Monthly, second Thursday
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Leader: Jim Gillespie
(707) 252-1665
[email protected]
Time for the ELECTION of a new Board of Trustees is fast approaching. Since many hands make light work, we need many people on the
board. If you would like to help influence what we do, please contact Roy
Wagner (253-2721, or [email protected]) to volunteer to become a
Director.
Have you made a CHANGE of ADDRESS? Please notify the membership director (currently me) if you change your contact information, but
especially your address. It costs us an extra 75 cents every time the post
office has to notify us of your change of address.
IT”S BACK! CDs containing every NVPCUG newsletter we have
stored electronically will again be available for purchase at our general
meetings. These may also contain some other special programs (freeware
such as the latest versions of Firefox, Ad-Aware, Adobe Reader, or HijackThis) and photos from our activities. The cost remains at $10. To ensure
that you receive a copy or to request a specific download, contact Ron
Dack a couple of days before the meeting ([email protected]).
Are you ready for some FUN! The APCUG Annual Conference will
be held January 4-7 in Las Vegas. Registration is $150, but you can get in
for $75 if you register before Oct. 15, or $100 if before Nov. 30. Check out
www.apcug.net/events/conference07 or see me for a brochure.
Remember . . . Any member who brings in a new (non-associate)
member will get an additional five chances at the door prize drawing.
Meets:
Peace and Good,
Dianne Prior
*Meets October 23 this month
NVPCUG Calendar
Wednesdays
October 18
October 23
November 1
November 8
November 9
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Computers-to-Schools work parties. To volunteer, contact Orion Hill, (707) 252-0637.
General Meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Investors SIG meeting, Jerry Brown’s home, 23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Board of Directors meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Digital Photography SIG meeting, Piner’s Nursing Home, 1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Macintosh SIG meeting, Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson St., Napa
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Officers for 2006
Board of Directors
President
Dianne Prior
252-1506*
[email protected]
Vice President
Ron Dack
Secretary
Julie Jerome
224-6620
[email protected]
[email protected]
Treasurer
Roy Wagner
253-2721
[email protected]
Other Directors:
Susy Ball, Orion E. Hill, Jim Gillespie, Bob Kulas, John Moore,
Dick Peterson, James Stirling, Dean Unruh
Held the third Wednesday of each month
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Appointed Officers
Computer Equipment
Sales Coordinator
Computer Recycling
Coordinator
Computer Tutor
Coordinator
Computers-to-Schools
Program Coordinator
Facility Arrangements
Coordinator
Greeter Coordinator
Librarian
Membership Director
Mentor Program
Coordinator
Newsletter Circulator
Newsletter Editor
Product Review Coord.
Product Review Coord.
Programs Director
Publicity Director
Random Access Moderator
Special Projects Director
Webmaster
Come to the NVPCUG
General Meetings
Napa Senior Activities
Center
(Volunteer Needed)
Bill Wheadon
224-3901
[email protected]
Mike Moore
255-1615
[email protected]
Orion E. Hill
252-0637
[email protected]
John Moore
252-3418
[email protected]
Bob Simmerman
Dean Unruh
Dianne Prior
Dick Peterson
259-6113
226-9164
252-1506
259-1712
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Jim Hearn
James Stirling
Susy Ball
Marcia Waddell
Susy Ball
(Volunteer Needed]
Jerry Brown
Bob Kulas
Ron Dack
224-2540
944-1177
337-3398
252-2060
337-3998
254-9607
255-9241
1500 Jefferson Street,
Napa
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
*All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
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: James Stirling, [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 68-0069663) 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 © 2006 by NVPCUG.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 3
Napa County Schools Grateful for Computer Equipment Donations
The Napa Valley Unified School District
Board of Education on September 7 formally recognized and thanked Orion E. Hill, the coordinator
of our Computers-to-Schools program, and the Napa
Valley Personal Computer Users Group for our
group’s ongoing contributions of refurbished computer equipment to the district and its schools.
NVUSD Superintendent John Glaser and NVUSD
Technology Director Laurel Krsek noted the importance of our donations, which greatly benefit students. During the past year our group donated more
than 90 multimedia computers, half with Pentium 4
processors and most only four years old. Also, last
February we delivered 43 unrefurbished Pentium 3
computers to the district’s Vintage High School for
use in a computer repair training classroom.
In accepting the school district’s recognition
and gratitude, Orion and NVPCUG President Dianne Prior highlighted the contributions of the more
than two dozen NVPCUG volunteers who have
helped refurbish computers and of Dey, LP, a Napabased pharmaceutical company, which has been a
Roger Lewis, John Moore, and Bill Wheadon (left
to right) work on refurbishing computers during a
CTS workshop session. Photo by Orion Hill.
Dianne Prior, NVPCUG president, responds to the thanks
given by school district officers for the computers provided to
the schools by the users group.
Photo by Susy Ball.
major source of reusable, high-quality computer
equipment.
Also during the past month Jeffrey Johnson, Superintendent of the Calistoga Joint Unified School
District, and Mary Allen, Principal of Robert Louis
Stevenson Middle School (St. Helena Unified School
District), and several of the school’s teachers have sent
letters expressing their gratitude for recent donations
of computers, monitors, printers, and other items.
Since the launch of our Computers-to-Schools
program in September 2002, the NVPCUG has donated 488 refurbished computers and 132 refurbished
printers for use in public schools throughout Napa
County. Additional equipment has been donated to
several not-for-profit organizations or given to disadvantaged adults and students. Many more machines
are now being prepared for donation.
NVPCUG Archives and Handy Free Utility Programs to Be Available on CD at Monthly
General Meetings for Just $10.
Ron Dack has responded to the request of user group members for more of the CDs he has
prepared in the past. In addition to archives of the newsletter, he has included handy-dandy
free utilities like the latest editions of Firefox, Ad-Aware, Adobe Reader, and Hijack-This. Instead of waiting for these programs to be downloaded from the Web, you can have them for
immediate access on a CD.
Ron is doing this as a fund-raiser for the group. If you wish to reserve a copy, e-mail him
before the meeting at [email protected]
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 4
Should Your System Be RAIDed?
By Vinny La Bash, Member of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc., Florida http://www.spcug.org
labash(at)Comcast.net
You may have heard fellow computer enthusiasts
brag about their new fast RAID system as if it were a
high performance sports car. If you wondered what they
were talking about, you are not alone.
Just what does RAID stand for? The source of the
RAID acronym can be credited to three University of
California Berkeley professors named Patterson,
Gibson, and Katz. In 1987 they published a paper named
“A Case for Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks
(RAID)”. The fundamental concept of RAID was to
combine multiple small disks into an arrangement
yielding greater performance than a Single Large
Expensive Drive (SLED).
The main objection to RAID was that two or more
disk drives are inherently less reliable than a single disk
drive. The professors overcame the objection by
showing that disk arrays can be made more reliable by
storing data redundantly in various ways across multiple
disk drives.
The paper defined five types of RAID arrangements,
each offering different trade-offs in features and
performance. Over time, more RAID configurations
were added to the mix. The corporate world gradually
adopted RAID, but it never took the PC world by storm
because until relatively recently, disk drives were not
“inexpensive”.
At the core of RAID is a process called “striping”.
With several hard drives connected to a controller card
installed in a motherboard slot, you can juice up read
and write speeds by breaking the data into blocks
(stripes) and storing these blocks across multiple disk
drives. This allows data to be either recorded or
accessed in multiple blocks simultaneously across
multiple drives in parallel. Without going into technical
detail, the parallel operation provides the increase in
performance. Of
the many RAID configurations
developed since 1987, only two are likely to be
incorporated into a PC, and one of those isn’t really
RAID at all because it has no redundancy. The other is
true RAID, but does not use striping.
We’ll start out with RAID 1, also known as Disk
Mirroring. In a two disk array you mirror the contents of
one disk onto the other. With 100 percent redundancy,
there is no need to do any kind of data restoration if one
of the disks should fail for any reason. A few simple
instructions allow you to use the mirrored disk until you
can install a replacement for the failed drive. Reactivate
your array, and you’re back in business with no down
time. The trade-off is that a second disk doesn’t give
you any additional disk space, nor does it appreciably
affect performance one way or the other. If reliability
and preservation of data are all-important to you, then a
RAID 1 array can make good sense. RAID 1 is
relatively cheap, easy to use, and costs about the same as
most conventional backup solutions. Turn to RAID 1
when data integrity is more important than performance.
To set up a RAID for your internal drives, you will need
support on your motherboard or add-in card. Finally,
you must still keep current drive backups to protect
against user errors, viruses, and other problems that
affect both drives.
Hard-core gamers and other performance-obsessed
nut cases are almost always referring to RAID 0 when
they brag about their PC speed demons. Most of them
either don’t know or care that RAID 0 is not true RAID
as it has no redundancy. Data is spread out among all the
drives in the array, which means that if any one of your
drives fail, all your data is lost. This is not important if
you use your system solely for game playing, but how
many of us do that? If you have important data stored on
your system, RAID 0 can be a dangerous mplementation
that may ultimately trash every byte of information on
your system.
A better way than RAID 0 is to install a hard drive
with a disk cache of at least 8 Megabytes of RAM.
Because computers can access data from RAM much
faster than directly from a disk, caching can
significantly increase performance, though it won’t
match RAID 0. Many cache systems also attempt to
predict what data will be requested next so they can
place that data in the cache ahead of time. This will
never stop performance-crazy freaks from using RAID
0. They all backup their systems regularly, don’t they?
RAID 0 is for those enamored of performance where
loss of data is of little concern. As an alternative, you
can approach RAID 0 performance by installing drives
with at least 8 megabytes of disk cache.
While it does not obviate the need for backup, a
RAID 1 array can provide additional protection for those
whose main consideration is preservation of data.
There are many different types of RAID
configurations which we have not discussed. RAID 0
and 1 are the most common arrangements on home
computers. Most technical details have been left out for
simplification.
For a complete description of RAID, including
animated diagrams of how data is actually stored, go to
http://www.acnc.com/04_01_00.html.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 5
Bluecoat’s K9 Web Protection
by Mike Mitchell, Board Member and Newsletter Editor, Topeka (Kansas) PC Users Club
http://www.topekapcusersclub.org
Lately, I have been approached by several parents asking if
there is a reliable Internet filtering solution they can
install on the computer for their kids. I have also
thought even some adults might be interested in content filtering software to possibly help decrease the
risk of spyware, malware and viruses being installed
on their PCs. (Most of that comes from inappropriate
sites anyway.) The statistics are staggering: 5,000
pornography sites registered daily; nine of ten kids
ages 8-16 have viewed pornography on the Internet,
often in the process of doing homework; one in five
children ages 10-17 have received a sexual solicitation over the Internet – and those are stats for just one
category! Furthermore, the FBI lists on their website
the following as some of the reasons your child might
be at risk online:
•Your child spends large amounts of time online,
especially at night.
•You find pornography on your child’s computer.
•Your child receives phone calls from people you
don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don’t recognize.
•Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from
someone you don’t know.
Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
Since so many sites these days have inappropriate
content, I checked the filtering software possibilities
out there. Most of them charge a fixed or a monthly
fee (some quite expensive) but, lo and behold, I think
I’ve found one! My buddy Gizmo from Tech Support
Alert (http://www.techsupportalert.com) recommends
BlueCoat’s K9 Web Protection (http://
www.getk9.com) as his top free parental filter.
Gizmo’s description is as follows:
“K9 Web Protection is a web based service that
uses a special driver installed on your PC to redirect
all your browsing through K9's servers where it is filtered for content. This means that the filtering works
for any browser installed on your PC (Internet Explorer, Firefox, AOL, etc.). The actual filtering itself
is highly customizable from a password protected
control panel at K9's web site with over 55 selectable
categories plus the ability to restrict or permit individual sites. Full reports on sites visited are also available from the control panel. The filtering seems quite
mike.mitchell(at)cox.net
accurate; in an hour of browsing I found only one site
which I felt should not have been blocked. I also
liked the optional blocking of spyware and adware
sites. I tried a few obvious ways of crippling the filter
such as uninstalling the product or disenabling the
driver, with no success, which is comforting to parents. (You have to know the password to uninstall it.)
I suspect though, that a determined tech-savvy teenager might eventually find a solution. The only real
downside was the slight slowing down of my browsing as a result of it being re-routed through the K9
servers. This will mainly be of concern to dial-up users.”
Installation is quite simple. When you go to the
download page, you register your name and e-mail
address. They will send you an e-mail with the
download link and a password to use during installation. I believe you can use the same password on
more than one PC but they would like you to register
a different name/e-mail address/password for each
family. During the first use, the software asks you for
an administrator password (don’t tell your kids!!!) so
you can manage the settings in the control panel. The
program works regardless of how many user accounts
are set up on the PC. (The program icon doesn’t need
to be copied/created on the other user accounts’ desktops, which would be a good thing anyway.)
There is a sign-on screen for the control panel.
Both options (View Internet Activity and Setup Options) require administrator password privileges. An
Internet Activity Screen gives you the category summary and general overview of the Web sites that have
been visited from all users on that PC. In Activity
Detail, it will actually list the individual sites that
were accessed. You can reset the counters after each
time you look at the stats or every month, etc., so the
log file won’t become too large.
In the Setup Options area there are seven options:
•Web Categories to Block – Sets the categories to
block. It offers several protection levels of filtering,
or you can make a custom filtering level if you wish.
•Web site Exceptions – Sets websites you always
want to block or allow. (Those are bypassed from being filtered.)
•Web Search Options – Using Google Safe-
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 6
Search™ will filter search results you get from
Google. This will reduce the amount of adult material that is returned when you search with
Google.
•Time Restrictions – Allows you to “turn on”
or “turn off” the internet at half-hour intervals
throughout the whole week. You can drag/select
more than one block at a time to make setting it go
a lot faster.
•Blocking Effects – Set other default options.
If speakers are turned on, you can enable the program to “bark out loud” to let a nearby parent
know their kids are trying to go to inappropriate
sites. Also, there is a setting where if users go to
too many blocked sites within a set time frame, it
will deny internet access for a set period of time.
(All are adjustable by the administrator.)
•URL Keywords – You can place words in a
list so if that word shows up on a website, the page
can be blocked, or the words on the site just won’t
be shown when the page is displayed. (That will
probably not work for words embedded in a
graphic on a web page.)
•Change Password – Ditto…
There are two things you will want to keep in
mind. First, any block or notification from the pro-
gram on the user’s display can be overridden by an
administrator’s password. If it is a questionable
site, you can override it for 15 minutes and then it
will go back to “blocked” status, or you can permanently permit it to be displayed. If you try to access
the internet during a time of the day when time restrictions deny it, you can enable a temporary override for 15 minutes with the administrator’s password. Second, if you make any changes to any
page in the Options area, make sure you click the
“Save Changes” button on each menu or the
changes won’t be saved. (It will remind you of that
if you go to a different screen without saving.)
Overall, the parents’ computers that I’ve installed this program on have been very pleased
with the results. They have broadband connections
and could not tell any noticeable difference in their
download speed. If you like this program, please
spread the word about K9 Web Protection to all of
your friends, parents, etc. who would benefit from
content filtering software.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided
this article.
Smart Computing Tip— What Should I Back Up?
Specifying what you want to include in your
backup is sometimes referred to as defining your
backup set. Typically, backup software lets you
do this through a browser interface similar to Windows Explorer, in which you navigate to files,
folders, or even entire drives, and earmark them
for backup. It’s best not to do this on the fly.
Spend some preparatory time listing what you
want to include. Anything you can’t easily replace
from scratch should go on the list. Here are some
suggestions . . . by no means a comprehensive list,
but it should help you start deciding what your
priorities are: · Career and personal projects
·Financial records ·Digital music collection
·Photo and video files ·Web browser bookmarks
· Address book, e-mail and other correspondence
·Downloaded software purchases (because you
can’t just pop in a CD and reinstall them).
For some users, a backup isn’t complete unless
it includes everything on their hard drive--not just
personal files, but the operating system, applications, utilities, hardware drivers, system files, and
so on. This can be done a couple of ways: simply
cloning a duplicate of the drive or saving it as a
single massive file called a disk image. Either
way, the benefit is that if your main drive fails,
you can restore everything at once without having
to individually reinstall dozens of components.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
http://www.smartcomputing.com/groups to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 7
Microsoft Windows Vista
By Mike Moore, President, Bowling Green Area Microcomputer User Group, KY
Webstar(at)hughes.net
In many respects, Microsoft’s dominance in the areas
of Internet Browsers, Office Suites and of course Operating Systems is puzzling, at least in the past few years.
Open Source software such as the free OpenOffice.org
suite has come into its own and the latest Apple MacIntosh™ computers are brought to market with an operating
system featuring iron-clad Unix underpinnings and a
cheeky marketing campaign designed to turn PC users
away from Windows.
And yet, due to the sheer number of PCs out there
with Microsoft branding, Windows still commands a staggering market share, in spite of no major upgrades to either Internet Explorer or WindowsXP in 3 and 5 years,
respectively.
Microsoft’s answer to the rapidly changing personal
computing scene has been a complete rethinking of Windows from the ground up.
Vista, a new operating system due out around January
of 2007 and now in beta testing around the world, seeks to
redesign the way we use computers, particularly Internet
and media-enabled computers. Previously code named
“Longhorn,” this release is about as far removed from XP
as XP was from the old text-based DOS operating systems.
Although Microsoft is still hard at work finalizing the
features of this blockbuster operating system, you can look
forward to these new features, which will in most cases
require a pretty beefy computer for support:
Aero
Aero is the name given to a new and visually stunning
3-D like graphical interface, which is currently known as
the Desktop and Windows Explorer. In Vista, Microsoft
introduces the Desktop Window Manager that will feature
new technologies for application developers, transparent
window effects, animations and file previews that, all told,
will knock your socks off. See some of the previews of
this interface at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/ .
The full set of Aero features will be available on computers that support DirectX 9.0 and beefy video cards, so
prepare to upgrade!
Security
Microsoft has completely turned Internet security on
its head in the new Vista vision, choosing to de-fault a normal windows user to a limited access, virus-armored profile, as opposed to the current de-fault of a normal user
having unlimited rights to the file system. Users that require more permissions on their accounts will have to
make conscious and hopefully well-informed efforts to
undo the protection Vista has built in to each account.
http://www.bgamug.org/
Quick Search
Windows 2000 and XP relied on indexed search techniques that were effective to a point, at a cost of much
hard drive overhead and a key-word based search methodology. Vista takes this a quantum step farther and looks for
both file content and something called meta-data, which
will increase the relevancy of our searches for information
on our machines, and will also help integrate local hard
drive searches with internet searching.
For example, file name searches are often useless
when looking in a directory of photographic image files
where the digital camera has named them with nondescriptive serial-number like file names. Imagine describing a photograph to your computer and having it go out
and look for, say, a photo with a white church steeple, or a
recorded song file that sounds like a tune you hum into a
microphone. With Vista and other search engine companies like Google, we are poised at the brink of an explosion in searchability – a good thing considering all of the
information that is out there!
WinFX
WinFX is an applications interface that supersedes the
Win32 standard introduced in 1993. An Applications Programming Interface (API) is a set of standards and library
routines that serve to control Windows – everything from
the way applications are installed to all of the various standard ways in which a program can manipulate a window.
The API is the way that many thousands of programs,
hardware drivers and video games are able to communicate with Windows without Microsoft having to license
the Windows operating secrets to each vendor. If you
think of each way in which a particular windows feature
can be controlled as being closed black box, the API standards are the knobs, buttons and dials on that box. WinFX
means that developers with designs for software that is to
run under Vista ought to be ready to study hard, because
WinFX changes everything. The new API also means that
we are bidding goodbye to our beloved DOS command
line pretty much for good, running Vista.
As different as WinFX is, it should be thought of as a
superset of Win32, which means that we won’t necessarily
have to buy all new software, at least not right away.
WindowsXP is my favorite operating system to date,
and I predict that Microsoft will have to float some pretty
good deals, and computer vendors will need to price
sharply to get mainstream users to up-grade.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided his article.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 8
Downloading a File
By Dave Gerber, APCUG Advisor; VP Sarasota PCUG, Florida; radio talk show host www.spcug.org
Step 1: Create a Download Folder
The first step in downloading from the Internet, is to
create a folder where you will always save your
downloaded files. This will help you to locate the file once
it is downloaded into your computer. To create a new
folder (directory) called C:\Download using Windows Explorer, highlight your C: drive, and then click on these
menu items, one after the other: File | New > Folder.
When a folder entitled New Folder is created, rename it
"Download".
Note: A word about distinguishing between the Windows Explorer and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The Windows Explorer is the system tool that helps you examine
and access your entire computer; files; directories; drives;
desktop, etc. In contrast, Microsoft Internet Explorer is the
browser you can use to surf the Web.
Step 2: Download a File Using Your Browser
Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE), Netscape Communicator, Opera, and other browsers work in similar
ways. After you click the Download Now button, a small
window will open and ask you, "What would you like to
do with this file?" or something similar. Simply click on
the "Save it to disk" or "Save" choice, and then click OK.
When the familiar "Save As" window appears, use it to
navigate to your newly created C:\download folder and
click "Save." Watch and wait until the file has finished
downloading. Problems? Some older versions of MSIE
may require that you right-click on "Download Now," and
select "Save Target As" to be able to begin the process
described above.
Step 3: Prepare Your File for Installation
Although some files end in .exe and automatically install or explode into many files, many of the files you will
download end in .zip. Since programs almost always include more than one file, think of the trouble it would be
to download many files just to get one program to install.
A zip file, also referred to as an archive, is an individual
file that has files stored within it. When multiple files are
combined into one zip file, they are also compressed in
size, which has the further benefit of saving hard drive
space and shortening download time. To open a .zip file,
you will need a program that will unzip the file for you.
The most common program for this is WinZip. If you do
not already have WinZip, follow these instructions to install the proper version.
Step 4: Download and Install WinZip
Go to www,winzip.com and download the shareware
version of WinZip. (Note from Dave: This version of WinZip is shareware; registration costs $29.) Put it in your
computer's C:\download folder. The WinZip file is in the
form of an .exe that can be run and installed without any
additional steps.
Congratulations! You've successfully downloaded a
file, and a whole new world is available to you now! The
Internet is a great source for finding software gems. By
tapping into the Web's mother lode of software, you can
try programs before laying out that hard-earned cash, and
keep your favorite programs up to date by downloading
and installing their latest versions.
Step 5: Install your file
Double-click on winzip81.exe to install WinZip, then
follow the easy step-by-step installation instructions. We
suggest you take all of the suggested default settings and
scan all your drives for favorite folders. WinZip can then
easily access your C:\download directory for the next step.
STOP when you reach the "WinZip Wizard - Welcome"
window, and proceed with the next instruction. WinZip
has probably been set up to launch using wizards, which
are interfaces designed to make it easier to use new programs. They present each step in a series of separate windows, with options and decisions for you to make before
you click Next to proceed.
Step 6: How To Handle .exe Files
As we mentioned at the beginning of Step 3, you will
find files ending in both .zip and .exe. You will find that
.exe files are even easier to handle than .zip files! If you
downloaded and installed WinZip earlier in this exercise,
you know exactly what we mean.
The .exe files that you download are ready to be run -the only thing is, they can act in several different ways.
Here are a few examples of what may happen when you
double-click on an .exe file that you have downloaded.
An installation routine may begin immediately. In
this case, all you need do is follow the instructions that are
presented to you.
A small window may appear that explains that the file
will extract to a particular folder. You may wish to change
the folder, or at least make a note of where the files are
being placed. At the conclusion of the file extraction process, an installation process may begin. If it does not, use
Windows Explorer to navigate to the folder where the files
have been placed. Once there, you can look for a Readme.txt, File_id.diz, Vendinfo.diz, Productname.txt, or
other file that may help you install the program. Typically,
a Setup.exe or Productname.exe will be there for you to
click upon. All of the files within the .exe will be expanded into the current folder. Fortunately, this older
method of packaging is not used very often.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal
Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 9
Linux: Linux, Linux, Everywhere
By Chad Benton
One of the biggest benefits of Linux is also one of
its biggest problems: choice. There are a number of
Linux distributions out there, and finding the one distribution that’s perfect for you is not always easy.
Luckily, hard drive space is easy to come by and installing multiple Linux distributions on the same PC
is relatively easy. In fact, our test system has three
versions of Linux, as well as Windows XP, installed.
Prerequisites
We don’t have the space to walk you through the
install process (and it varies widely from one distribution to another), so the more experience you have installing different Linux distributions, the better. We
do recommend using an Advanced or Expert mode if
available. You’ll also need a hard drive partition set
aside for each Linux distribution you plan to install
(again, we don’t have the space to discuss this here).
We do need to warn you that this process isn’t always easy, and if you make a mistake, you may have
trouble booting previously installed versions of
Linux. The best time to try this procedure is when
you’re planning to reinstall Linux anyway.
Grub and Device Names
If you’re planning to install multiple versions of
Linux on the same PC, we recommend you use
GRUB (Grand Unified Boot Loader) instead of LILO
(Linux Loader) for each distribution you install. Each
time you install a new Linux distribution, a new version of GRUB gets written to the hard drive. This
prevents you from booting a previously installed version of Linux, but we’ll fix that later.
Linux assigns device names based on how the device connects to the motherboard. Thus /dev/hda is a
master IDE device connected to the primary IDE controller while /dev/hdb is the slave IDE device connected to the primary IDE controller. SATA devices
may have similar names. On our test system, our
SATA hard drive is /dev/hde, but we’ve seen some
SATA drives listed as /dev/hda. If the device is a hard
drive, a number following the device name refers to
specific partitions. Thus /dev/hda1 refers to the first
primary partition on /dev/hda. Logical partitions start
with the number 5.
GRUB uses numbers to specify a hard drive. Regardless of the Linux device name, GRUB always
refers to the first hard drive as (hd0). If there’s an
additional hard drive, GRUB refers to it as (hd1). A
second number, separated by a comma, indicates the
partition number. GRUB starts numbering from zero,
so if you subtract one from the number used in the
Linux device name, you have the GRUB partition
number. For example, if /dev/hde5 is the first partition on your first hard drive, its GRUB device name
is (hd0,4).
In our example, we’ll install two Linux distributions that we’ll call Linux 1 and Linux 2. You can
easily extrapolate the instructions here for three or
more Linux distributions.
Install Operating Systems
Before you install your distribution, form a plan.
Know what partition you want to use for each distribution and know both the Linux and GRUB device
names for these partitions. If the installer allows you
to specify mount points for existing partitions, make
sure you create a mount point for each partition where
you’ll install a Linux distribution. For instance, you
might create a /mnt/linux2 mount point for your second distribution when installing Linux 1. (Don’t
worry if you haven’t installed the second Linux distribution yet, but when creating a mount point, make
sure you specify the file system you’ll use when installing the Linux 2.)
When you finish installing, boot into the last distribution you installed. In KDE, press ALT-F2 and
type konqueror. Click the Options button and check
Run As Different User. Make sure root appears in the
Username field and provide your root password in the
Password field. Click Run to open Konqueror and
click the Up Arrow until you reach the root directory
(denoted by a slash). Click the boot directory and
then the grub directory. Right-click menu.lst; select
Open With; and click either KWord, KWrite, KEdit,
or any other available editor. This is the GRUB configuration file. Leave it open in its own window for
now and return to Konqueror.
Click the Up arrow twice to return to the root di-
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 10
rectory. Select the directory where you mounted
Linux 1. For instance, if the mount point you specified was /mnt/linux1, click the mnt directory and
then click linux1. Click the boot directory and, if
present, click the grub directory. Right-click
menu.lst, select Open With, and select your favorite text editor. This is the GRUB configuration file
generated when you installed Linux 1. Scroll
through the file looking for a line that begins with
Title and corresponds to the distribution you installed first. Select the entire section and press
CTRL-C to copy the contents. Switch to the first
menu.lst file you opened, scroll to the bottom of
the file, and press CTRL-V to paste the contents.
The next time you reboot the system, you should
see Linux 1 listed as an option.
If you didn’t install GRUB when installing
Linux 1, you’ll have to configure menu.lst by hand.
To do this, open the directory where you mounted
Linux 1 and open the boot menu. Find the kernel
and record the kernel name. In most cases, you’ll
find a symbolic link named vmlinuz that points to
the current kernel. You can use the symbolic link
in your menu.lst file.
In the menu.lst file you opened, scroll to the end
of the file and type title and provide a label for
Linux 1. This label can be anything you want. On
the next line, type root followed by the GRUB de-
vice name of the partition where the kernel resides.
Press ENTER and type kernel followed by the path
to the kernel (in most cases this will be
/boot/vmlinuz). In the next line, type initrd and
then provide the path to Linux 1’s initrd file. In
most cases this will be /boot/initrd.img. The section should look something like this when finished:
title Linux 1
root (hd1,1)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz
initrd /boot/initrd.img
Be sure there is a space between the first word
and the rest of the line. Save the file and reboot.
You should see an entry for Linux 1. If you configured everything properly, Linux 1 should boot
without any problems. If you receive an error message, you may have made a mistake. Boot into
Linux 2 and return to the /boot/grub/menu.lst file
to look for any errors.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
http://www.smartcomputing.com/groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you.
Smart Computing Daily Tip: Update Your BIOS
As operating
systems and hardware evolve, BIOS
manufacturers often update their BIOS routines to
operate more efficiently with these newer components. But BIOS updates are rarely publicized, and
consumers often don’t realize that such a simple,
free procedure can eliminate problems and make a
computer run more smoothly and efficiently. Watch
your monitor screen as your computer starts up and
write down the version of your BIOS when it appears on the screen. If it doesn’t display, enter the
BIOS setup, where the BIOS manufacturer and version number will appear on the first BIOS screen
you encounter. Go to the motherboard manufacturer’s Web site and check for an updated version of
the BIOS. Do note that motherboard manufacturers
often use BIOS chips and instructions from another
manufacturer, but the motherboard manufacturer’s
site should contain either the BIOS update or a link
to the site where it can be found. While on the site,
also be sure to download any utility program that
you will need to install the new BIOS routines
along with detailed instructions for the procedure.
The process is usually as simple as using the provided utility to create a bootable floppy diskette that
contains the BIOS update and then booting to that
floppy diskette, but you should be absolutely certain
that you read and understand these instructions.
While simple, making a mistake during a BIOS update has the potential to render your motherboard
inoperable.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
http://www.smartcomputing.com/groups to learn what Smart
Computing can do for you.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 11
Digital Resolution Made Confusing
By Dave Chrestenson, Member of the Fox Valley PC Association, Illinois
There seems to be a plethora of articles on the number of pixels required to create your photos to their full
glory. Many of the articles disagree with each other and
some are mystifying (to say the least); occasionally a
few are wrong. So here I will approach it from a different point of view, I'll give you the knowledge and let
you decide what you need. Ready? Here we go!
Let's start with some facts. (I'll reconsider these
later, but we have to start somewhere.)
First, the average eye, relaxed, focuses at a distance of about fifteen inches. So that's about the distance
people view their prints.
Second, the angle of comfortable vision (not
acute) is generally agreed to be about fifty to fifty-five
degrees. Beyond that is peripheral vision. Now, fifty
degrees at fifteen inches subtends a distance of about
thirteen inches, just covering the diagonal of an 8x10. Is
it any wonder that size is so popular?
And third, the typical eye has a resolution of about
one minute of angle. This works out, at fifteen inches, to
about .004 inches, or approximately 229 dots in an inch.
(For purposes of clarity I will use the term pixels when
referring to the camera sensor and dots when referring
to the print. But in this discussion they can be considered equivalent. (Don't compare this with the resolution
(normally also referred to as dots) of printers. They are
completely different animals.
For convenience and to assure a tolerance, for now
let's round that up to 300 dpi. This means that we need
300 dpi (at 15 inches) on the paper to assure that we
won't see individual dots. Now, it's easy enough to work
backwards from there. Assume that we wish to print an
8x10. Ten inches across at 300 dpi is 3000 dots. Eight
inches down at 300 dpi is 2400 dots. So we need a camera of 3000 x 2400 pixels, or 7.2 meg. (This is assuming
a camera with square pixels, not all have that, the Fuji
S3 for example has hexagonal pixels, two sizes, no less.
Simple huh? Maybe.
But let's try another example first. Assume you
just want to print a picture half that size, 4 x 5 is more
common. Then 4 times 300 equals 1200 and 5 times 300
equals 1500, so our camera need only be 1.8 meg. That's
not so bad, is it? But before you dash right out to buy a
2 meg camera on sale, let's take a look at some of those
original figures.
I said that the average eye views an image at 15
inches. That's an "average" eye. It can vary from that... a
lot. Depending on age, it can go from 3 inches (a youngster) to more than 6 feet. (An old timer.) And that's for
an eye that's working well. Near-sighted? You'll hold
the picture closer. (Assuming you don't wear correction
lenses, of course.) Far-sighted? Further away. Have
astigmatism? A mess! So, if you hold your picture at 7.5
inches, you will need twice the number of pixels, or
600, per inch. An 8x10 would require a 28.8 meg camera. Good grief! Thirty inches viewing distance is a lot
easier, a 1.8 meg one will do the job. Also, some eyes
can see significantly better than one minute of angle,
some can reach ½ minute. That's even worse, you need
600 dpi at 15 inches, which means we're back to a 28.8
meg camera for an 8x10, and a 7.2 meg one for a 4x5.
But you can do the math. And do you really need to
have the dots as small as theory suggests? Well, to make
it more confusing, there are other considerations that
affect that. Bright lighting needs higher resolution, dim
lighting needs less. Glossy paper? Higher resolution.
Matt paper, less. High contrast image, more, low contrast, less. Ad infinitum.
Finally, what if you have taken the definitive photo
of Yosemite, the one to equal Ansel Adams, and you
want to have it printed at, say, 16x20 and frame it. Do
you still need 300 dpi? Probably not. After all, people
don't normally hold a 16x20 in their hands and look at it
from 15 inches. Remember the 50 degree vision. So,
you'll probably be hanging it on the wall, where they
will view it from a distance. Experience shows that people will move backward or forward when viewing a picture until it subtends that 50 degree angle. So you might
well get away with 150 dpi.
But, getting back to the more normal usage,
hand-held prints, do you need 300 dpi there? Again,
maybe. In many cases you may get away with less. But
if you go below 150 dpi you are almost certain to get
obvious visual pixilation at that distance. Of course,
Photoshop to the rescue, you can resample upwards and
increase the number of pixels to what works. You're not
adding detail, but at least you're getting rid of those annoying “jaggies.”
Clear? I didn't think so. Remember, I said "Made
Confusing." But at least you are now confused on a
much higher plane! Good luck.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 12
Distinguishing Forests from Trees in Search Engine Results
By Gabe Goldberg, APCUG Advisor and HCIL Media Fellow
Some people cherish details without grasping the
big picture. They can't see the forest for the trees,
always miss the landscape's glory. Searching the
Web can feel like this. Search engines cheerfully
deliver millions of search result hits without revealing patterns or gaps in the data. Even worse, hardly
anyone looks beyond the first screen of search results. Researchers are investigating how organizing
search results provides contextual and visual cues
that make searches more powerful.
We all know people who cherish tiny details but
never quite grasp the big picture. They're figuratively unable to see the forest for the trees, missing
the landscape's glory while obsessing over whatever
grows in front of their nose.
Sometimes searching the Web feels like this.
Google or any favorite search engine can cheerfully
deliver a thousand -- or two million -- search result
hits yet not reveal patterns, groupings, or gaps in
what it quickly but mindlessly displays. Making
things worse, hardly anyone looks at search results
beyond the first screen or two; we either settle for
one of the first few links, or add search words to
prune our results. But this runs two risks.
First, we may miss a key Web site that for some
reason isn't highly ranked by our search engine. Not
everyone knows that search engines rank results using proprietary criteria; even worse, ranking methods often change without notice, so identical
searches days or weeks apart may yield very different results. Second, there's no clue or cue about
search result patterns. And the human mind can't
grasp a thousand – let alone two million -- links to
see what they might collectively reveal.
Enter Bill Kules and Ben Shneiderman, respectively Graduate Research Assistant and Computer
Science Professor at the University of Maryland.
They're investigating how organizing the display of
search results provides contextual and visual cues
that make searches more powerful.
Their technology, partially supported by an AOL
Fellowship in Human-Computer Interaction, is ideal
when searchers are unsure of the target or goal. This
is a variation on the famous Supreme Court quote:
searchers may not know what they're looking for,
but they recognize it when they see it.
Results, arranged in meaningful and stable categories using structures created by Kules' SERVICE
program (as opposed to the ad hoc clustering used
by some commercial search engines), are shown in a
compact listing in the left side navigation bar. Important text (title, snippet, URL) is arranged for efficient scanning and skimming. SERVICE retains
benefits of the traditional ranked results list, while
adding an overview.
The list allows efficiently scanning and skimming title/snippet/URL -- which remains a critical
task. The categorized overview adds another perspective on results, showing their distribution across
categories. The overview also lets users explore results, narrowing them to a single category or subcategory.
Categorizing results is proving to change peoples' search style. For some searchers, the categorized overview simplified formulating queries. They
issued a somewhat broad query and then browsed
the appropriate category. Others used the overview
to organize exploration of results, first perusing results in the Business category, then Science, Health,
etc. Other users only used categories when frustrated
by normal searching.
An interesting surprise is that empty categories -which might have been expected to include results -are in fact meaningful in some searches. For more
information visit http://www.cs.umd.edu /hcil/ categorizedsearch.
This article originated on the University of
Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory Web site, www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/, and is copyrighted by the university. All rights are reserved; it
may be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, or
transferred, for single use, or by nonprofit organizations for educational purposes, with attribution to
the university. It should be unchanged and this paragraph included. Please e-mail Gabe Goldberg at
[email protected] when you use it, or for permission to excerpt or condense.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of
Personal Computer User Groups has provided this
article.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 13
Are You "Compuliterate”?
by Berry F. Phillips, member of the Computer Club of Oklahoma City and a regular writer for the CCOKC website
“Compuliteracy" Test (unknown author)
1.
Who invented the computer?
E.T., Marquis de Sade.
2.
What are microchips? What a herd of micros leave on the prairie, What you eat with
a microdip, The reason you had to take all
those computer literacy courses.
3.
What is a floppy disk? A painful lower- b a c k
condition, An album that didn't sell, A g r e a t
Frisbee.
What is the first thing you associate with
computers? Bill Cosby commercials, Eye
strain and headaches, Annoying beeps, Three
tons of printout where once there was a 3page report, All of the above.
4.
Mr. Chips,
5.
What is FORTRAN? Between 3 and 5 tran, How
to get computers excited before interface, Ridiculous.
6.
What is Pascal? A leafy vegetable, A foot fungus,
A city in southern France, None of the above.
7.
When you need consulting help in deciding what
to do with your computer, which organization do
you think of? IBM, FBI, PLO?
8.
What is the most important computer peripheral?
Bill Gates, Someone to operate the computer for
you, Aspirin.
Some years ago, I was staring at a demo game
computer in a large computer store. I felt a tug on my
sleeve and there was a small lad who asked me rather
impatiently, "Why don't you do something?" I confessed
with great difficulty that I did not know what to do. This
mini computer user said, "I will show you, because I
have this game at home." He began killing monsters right
and left as I slunk out of the store in humiliation. I vowed
from that day forward I would become computer literate,
more than any eight-year-old!
Computer literacy is today a necessity when entering the job market. I remember when Time Magazine
awarded the computer their coveted Man of the Year
award, which dramatically illustrated the incredible impact the personal computer has had on our society. Computer literacy does not mean you need to know everything
about a computer, but you should master the basics and
understand how a computer works. I remember thinking
that a person who used a computer in a business must be
very computer literate. I discovered that many computer
users knew how to do only some limited applications
necessary for specific tasks. Limited computer literacy by
computer owners usually translates into their lmited use
of the computer and never experiencing its full potential
nor maximizing their return on their computer investment.
What alternatives are available to accelerate one's
level of computer literacy? Basic computer courses are
offered by most continuing education programs. They are
usually reasonably priced and conveniently scheduled.
They can be found in your local school district, or community college on evenings and weekends. There are career retraining programs that often offer computer courses
through your local Labor Department Office. There are
also online courses and tutorials available, and the public
libraries have computers available to their patrons, with
Internet access.
I have found that computer clubs are an excellent
choice for developing computer literacy, since they are
economical and less theoretical and are more focused on
how to operate the computer using various applications.
Computer users helping one another move to new levels
of computer literacy represent incredible learning and
motivating experiences. As beginners were helped to
reach computer literacy, they then enjoyed helping others
as they had been helped. You are never alone in your
journey to reach computer literacy in a computer club;
there is always another member to ask a question of or to
get hands on help from. Many computer clubs have computer labs as does the Computer Club of Oklahoma City,
www.ccokc.org (405-843-4300) which is also affiliated
with the national Senior Net Users Group and the Association of PC Users Groups (APCUG). If you are not in
the Oklahoma City area, please contact the APCUG,
www.apcug.org (800-558-6867) to check on an affiliated
computer club in your area.
We often hear from our members how when they
started they wondered how they would ever use a computer, and now they ask how they would ever get along
without one! The transition from computer illiteracy to
literacy is truly amazing. Obtaining computer literacy is
not a luxury but an absolute necessity in our rapidly
evolving technological society.
I hope that I progress in my computer literacy,
because those eight-year-olds are getting more and more
"compuliterate," especially the older I get!
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 14
Thank You !
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group is grateful for the support
provided by the following companies:
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Membership Application/Renewal*
G New
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Please Print
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Dey, L.P.
Pharmaceutical products for the treatment of
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Do you want to be added to the following NVPCUG e-mail lists?
News and announcements:
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If you do not want your preferred phone number and/or e-mail address
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NVPCUG members, check the appropriate box(es):
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(Associate Members have the same membership rights as their
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$30 Regular Member - an individual who is not a full-time student
$20 Student Member - a full-time student who is not eligible for Associate
membership.
$10 Associate Member - a family member of a Regular or Student
member. Associate memberships run concurrently with sponsors’
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Make check payable to Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group.
Mail application/renewal to: Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group,
Attn.: Membership Director, P.O. Box 2866, Napa, CA 94558-0286.
The NVPCUG is an accredited IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your
dues payment may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
* To request a Corporate Membership Application/Renewal form, e-mail:
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Revised 8-19-05
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and Yountville
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For more information about the NVPCUG, visit our
Web site: http://www.nvpcug.org
NVPCUG Computer News, October 2006, Page 15
My Spyware
By Sandy Berger, Compu-KISS, www.compukiss.com sandy(at)compukiss.com
Everyone has computer woes…even me. Last
week my office computer slowed to a crawl when accessing anything on the office network or on the Internet. It
was so slow that I was anxious to begin troubleshooting.
Since we had recently moved to a new office, the
first suspect was the network cabling. I replaced cables on
both ends and used my laptop to confirm that the network
was fine. It was obvious that something in my computer
was the problem. So the first order of business was to scan
for viruses. Since I always use an up-to-date antivirus program, keep my operating system patched, and don’t open
uninvited attachments, I felt my computer was probably
virus-free. The virus scan confirmed that my problem was
caused by something other than a virus.
My next thought was that I probably had some
spyware in my computer. These unwanted programs infiltrate computers without the user’s knowledge. They can
wreck havoc with a computer. So I ran a spyware detection program named Ad-Aware (www.adaware.com). This
is a free program that I have used for years with good results. This time, it didn’t find anything. So I turned to another favorite…Spybot Search and Destroy
(www.spybot.com). Another free program, Spybot has
turned up much spyware in the past. Yet, even though I
updated both of these programs before I scanned my computer, neither found any spyware.
Now I had a dilemma. Since I could not find the
problem, my next step might have to be reformatting my
hard drive and reinstalling all the programs. In trying to
avoid that time-consuming hassle, I decided to try one
more spyware program. On my desktop I had two additional free spyware tools that I downloaded for review but
had never used before: AOL’s Automatic Spyware Protection (http://daol.aol.com/ safetycenter/ spyware) and Microsoft’s Windows Defender (www.windows defender.
com).
I decided to start with the AOL program. The scan
was faster than either Ad-Aware or Spybot, and it unearthed several pieces of spyware that were not detected
by the previous programs. I clicked the button “Eliminate
Spyware” and my work was done. My computer was immediately back to normal.
It’s unbelievable that I would have to use three
programs to find the nasty spyware that was causing my
problem, but this is the situation in today’s spywareinfested computer world. The bad guys are always trying
to stay one step ahead of the good guys and in some cases,
they are obviously succeeding.
If you want to add the AOL software to your arsenal of anti-spyware tools, it is a simple download at the
AOL Safety and Security Center at http://daol.aol.com/
safetycenter/spyware. You will need to get a free AOL
screen name before you download the software by entering
your name, address, telephone, e-mail, and date of birth.
Be careful to download only what you need. AOL will
offer you virus protection, a firewall, and an e-mail program in addition to the spyware software. These may or
may not be valuable to you. I checked out the free AOL
Active Virus Shield software, which you can download at
www.activevirusshield.com. This program is powered by
Kaspersky Lab, one of the largest antivirus providers, and
it has garnered good reviews. It is an excellent choice if
you are looking for a free antivirus program. AOL’s free
e-mail program, however, is probably not as good as the email program you are already using.
Since my spyware detection encounter, I have also
tried the Microsoft Windows Defender anti-spyware program and I liked it as well. A year ago I would have
scoffed at anyone using more than one or two antispyware programs, but perhaps in today’s computer environment, it’s not overkill to have four anti-spyware programs!
Sandy Berger, The Compu-KISS® Lady…nationally respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker,
and author is a seasoned 30-year computer expert.
The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups has provided this article.
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, CA 94558-0286
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