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SC Staff Picks: Our Favorite Hardware p.24 Hard Drive Recovery Tools p.18 

Your System 

Stop Pop-Ups 

Clean Out Your Registry 

Recover Lost Files 

Repair Your 

Internet Connection 




PC Project 
Back Up 
Email p.63 

7 l,, 25274 ll 77294 ,M o 

General Computing 
Secure That New PC p.32 

Tablet PCs: 
Is There One 
In Your Future? pjg 

Plugged In 

The Digital Universe p.43 

CD o 

o JS 

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E 5 




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and podcasts, and take advantage of high-end effects, Headphone 
Surround, synchronization with mobile devices, and much more. 

MAGIX Music Maker 1 1 deluxe turns novices into musical maestros: 
Come up with a professional-sounding song and music video with just 
a few clicks! Virtual instruments, sample player, automatic harmony 
recognition, and an amazing array of sounds transform your PC into 
a hit factory. 


the multimedia community 

I ^Pl ^ 9 smartcomputing.o 


I In Plain Fnnlkh *J 


In Plain English 

Volume 17 . July 2006 . Issue 7 

This Month's Cover Story: 

(MS Of [?H [PMME 

Repair & Speed Up Your System 

50 Shopping For Freeware & Shareware 

Because Your Broken-Down PC 
Shouldn't Make You Go Broke 

52 Security On Sale 

These Apps Are Heavy On Security, 
But Light On The Wallet 

55 Patch & Detail Your PC 

Top Bargain Apps For 

System Repair & Customization 

59 Browsing On A Budget 
Low-Cost & No-Cost Apps 

ing A Breeze 


5 Tech News & Notes 

12 News From The Help Desk: 

Most Common Tech Calls 

We tell you the most common 
and timely problems we're 
hearing about each month and 
then provide straightforward 
solutions for each one. 

14 Tech Diaries 

Our Smart Computing colum- 
nists spent some quality time 
with computer and computer- 
related hardware and software 
to get beyond the benchmark 
scores, statistics, and marketing 
hype. Find out what they liked 
and disliked about their choices. 

18 Crash Recovery 

When your hard drive bites the 
dust, you need all the help you 
can get. See what software can 
best help you recover your 
important data. 

21 Software Reviews 

Drive Utilities: ShadowBack 21 

Multimedia: Fireman 

CD/DVD Burner 2.0 22 

Writing: Lifejournal 22 

24 Staff Picks 

Our writers and editors select 
their favorite hardware. 


Copyright 2006 by Sandhills Publishing Company. Smart Computing is a 
registered trademark of Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction 
of material appearing in Smart Computing is strictly prohibited without written permission. 
Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 123482788RT0001 Smart Computing USPS 005-665 (ISSN 
1093-4170) is published monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 
West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501 . Subscriber Services: (800) 424- 
7900. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, NE. POSTMASTER: Send address changes 
to Smart Computing, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. 


Windows Tips & Tricks 

Tech Support 


Windows XP: 

Sharing WinXP Folders Over A 

Home Or Home-Office Network 

One of the many benefits to a home network is the ability 
to easily share files and folders. 



Windows 98: 

Add A Network Component In Windows 98 

Make adding a new network component to Win98 a breeze. 

Windows XP: 

Remove WinXP's Common Tasks Bar 

Not everyone considers the Common Tasks Bar to be 
useful — learn how to rid your system of it. 


General Computing 

32 Initiate A Security Lockdown 

Yes, we know you can't wait to use your 
new PC, but for your own protection, you 
must wait. With all of the nasty stuff lurking 
on the Internet, you'd better set up your 
PC's security system first or suffer the con- 
sequences later. 

35 Trouble-Free Scanner Installations 

Ever feel like you're fighting a losing battle 

with your scanner and its software? Well, here's a battle plan for those who 
need to be on the winning side (for once!) when installing and uninstalling 
their scanners. 

Plugged In 

78 What To Do When . . . 

SP2 Causes Sleep Mode Problems 

Work around a conflict between WinXP 
Service Pack 2 and the OS' Sleep Mode. 

80 Examining Errors 

82 Fast Fixes 

83 Q&A/FAQs 

You have questions. We have answers. 
The Smart Computing staff responds to 
your queries. 

89 Action Editor 

Can't seem to get a response from a 
vendor or manufacturer? If you need 
help, we're here for you. 

90 Tales From The Trenches: 
Somebody's Watching Me 

Real-world tech support advice from 
PC guru Gregory Anderson. 

PC Project 

38 Configure Your Router 

Set up your router properly for a well-oiled network, be it wired or wireless. 

43 Introducing The Digital Universe 

Acquaint yourself with the Digital Universe, a project that attempts to pro- 
vide legitimate, reliable online information. 

45 Web Tips 

46 Find It Online 

48 Mr. Modem's Desktop: 

More From Mr. Modem's Mailbag 

In which Mr. Modem, author of several 
books — none of which has won the Pulitzer 
Prize — and co-host of the weekly "PC Chat" 
radio show, shares some letters and tips. 

92 Editorial License 

Our editor gives his somewhat skewed perspective on a variety of technology- 
related issues. 

63 Safe Keeping 

Make sure your email is 
safely backed up. 

Quick Studies 

67 Microsoft Word 2002 

Put Special Characters To Use 

68 Corel Paint Shop Pro 9 

Making The Transition 
From Version 8 To 9 

69 Microsoft Excel 2002 

Finding Lost Information 

70 Browsers 

Internet Explorer Beta 

Adds Tabs To The IE Interface 

71 Online 

Search Your Personal Files 
From Anywhere 

72 Broderbund Print Shop Deluxe 20 

Match Colors To Unify Design 

73 Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Customizing Buttons 

74 Quick Tips 


76 Tablet PCs 

Once pegged as The Next Big Thing, 
Tablet PCs didn't immediately take off. 
But it seems as though they're now gar- 
nering a larger fan base. 

Editor's Note: Shareware, Freeware & Otherware 

We'd better define a few terms right off the bat because, as happens with all tech-related terms, the 
definition of the word "shareware" is changing. 

According to the classic definition, shareware is software that the programmer lets you download and 
use with no restrictions, relying on the honor system to get paid. This boils down to the programmer or 
(very small) company saying, "Here, try this out. If you like it, send us some money; $30 would be nice." 

Freeware, on the other hand, is truly and completely free; you get it either from a programmer who 
wishes to share his work or from a company that's willing to give away single-user applications in the 
hopes of future sales of more sophisticated versions aimed at commercial users. Zone Labs' free 
ZoneAlarm firewall and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware antispyware applications are popular examples of good free- 
ware; millions of people use these two applications daily, and none of those users paid — or need ever 
pay — a penny for them. (Unless they choose to upgrade to the "Pro" or commercial versions, of course.) 

A third category of software is, technically, neither shareware nor freeware. This is "try before you buy" soft- 
ware that offers some sort of limited functionality: Either the application's feature set is incomplete, or else the 
software works only for a given period of time; if you want the "full" (i.e., working) version, you have to pay up. 

Oddly enough, it's this last category that more and more people are now calling shareware. Basically, it's 
really a demo or "eval" version, but if gazillions of people want to refer to it as shareware, well, it's OK with 
us. (They're wrong, of course, but if that's how they want it ) 

In the end, it doesn't much matter what we call it. It boils down to the fact that you can find good, rea- 
sonably-priced (sometimes free) software on the 'Net and you can use that software to clean up, maintain, 
or secure your computer. And no matter how you look at it or what you call it, saving money while you 
improve your PC's performance can't be a bad thing. 

Rod Scher, Publication Editor 

■ Ibps k fe 

Now Available On Newsstands . . . 

Computer Power User * Lock It Down 

If like us you aren't satisfied simply relying on the leading security software 
to protect your PC, get some tips for a more proactive, hands-on approach 
to security in this month's issue of CPU. 

PC Today * Wi-Fi On Steroids 

Just when you started getting used to Wi-Fi (the popular name for 802.1 lb 
and its siblings) and wireless hotspots, along comes a new standard: 802.1 In, 
which promises greater speed and coverage. This month we examine the 
upcoming standard. 

First Glimpse * So You Want To . . . 

If you want HDTV, but don't know where to begin, you're not alone. In this 
month's issue of First Glimpse, we give you a complete guide on what you 
need to know to shop for and enjoy HDTV, a DVR, an iPod, and much 
more. Plus, we have the scoop on the coolest MP3 players for tweens, and 
we'll also give you guidelines on how your child should use them. And fi- 
nally, our tips on properly organizing and storing photos will free up space 
in everyone's desk drawers. 

Reference Series * Xbox 360 

Gamers are rejoicing now that Xbox 360 systems are widely available at retail 
stores. Microsoft's latest console is the most powerful one on the market, 
and with its enhanced graphics and online capabilities it offers users new 
levels of realism and multiplayer excitement. Whether you're a gaming 
novice or an experienced cyber athlete, this complete guide to the Xbox 360 
will help you make the most of your game play. 



Customer Service 

(For questions about your 
subscription or to place an 
order or change an address.) 


(800) 733-3809 

Smart Computing 

P.O. Box 85380 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380 


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Sat.: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CST) 
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(For questions about our Web site.) 

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Email: smartcomputing 

Editorial Staff 
131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 

Subscription Renewals 

(800) 424-7900 


Advertising Staff 

131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 




July Web-Only Articles 

Smart Computing subscribers may read the following articles at 


For all the latest product reviews, visit the Hardware Reviews area at ( 

PC Operating Instructions 

Linux: Linux, Linux, Everywhere 

Learn about the various iterations of Linux and how to install 

more than one distribution on a system. 

Quick Studies 


Don't Become 

A Victim Of Phishing 


Customize Spam 
Options In Hotmail 

Adobe Photoshop CS 

Batch Processing With 
Photoshop's Actions 


Dress Up The 
Horizontal Rule 

Roxio PhotoSuite 7 Platinum 

Working With Sound Tags 

Adobe InDesign CS2 

Fine-Tune Character 
Formatting, Part II 

Microsoft Access 2002 

Using LNC (Leszynski Naming 

Microsoft Works 2005 

Tag Photos In Picture It! 

Intuit Quicken 
Premier 2006 

Overcome Transaction 
Downloading Problems 

Corel WordPerfect 11 

Print File Lists 


SI File Edit View Insert Format Tools 

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Microsoft Access 


Editorial Staff: 

Ronald D. Kobler / Rod Scher / 

Kimberly Fitzke / Sally Curran / Corey 

Russman / Christopher Trumble / 

Calvin Clinchard / Katie Sommer / 

Katie Dolan / Blaine Flamig / Raejean 

Brooks / Michael Sweet / Nate Hoppe 

/ Trista Kunce / Sheila Allen / Linne 

Ourada /Joy Martin / Ashley Finter / 

Brian Weed / Holly Zach / Marty Sems 

/ Chad Denton / Nathan Chandler / 

Kylee Dickey /Josh Gulick / Andrew 

Leibman / Vince Cogley / Sam Evans / 

Jennifer Johnson 

Web Staff. 

Dorene Krausnick / Laura Curry / 
Kristen Miller 

Customer Service: 

Lindsay Albers 

Subscription Renewals: 

Connie Beatty / Matt Boiling / Patrick 

Kean / Charmaine Vondra / Miden 

Ebert / Kathy DeCoito / Stephanie 

Contreras / Nicole Buckendahl 

Art & Design: 

Lesa Call / Fred Schneider / Aaron D. 
Clark / Carrie Benes / Ginger Falldorf / 
Sonja Warner / Aaron Weston / Lori 
Garris / Jason Codr / Andria Schultz / 
Erin Rodriguez/ Lindsay Anker 


Garth Lienemann / Jeff Schnittker 

Advertising Sales: 

Grant Ossenkop / Cindy Pieper / 
Brooke Wolzen / Eric Cobb 


Mark Peery / Liz Kohout / Marcy Gunn 
/ Kelly Richardson /Jen Clausen / Scot 

Banks / Ashley Hannant / Luke Vavricek 
/ Travis Brock / Becky Rezabek / Lana 

Matic / Jeff Ashelford / Ryan Donohue 

Technology News & Notes 

Compiled by Christian Perry 
Illustrated by Lori Garris 


Ditch Your Computer, Not Your Data 

Before selling, donating, or recy- 
cling an old computer, users 
should think twice about what's 
leaving their hands. According to a 
study by Symantec, many people 
get rid of computers without wip- 
ing their hard drives, thereby 
leaving hordes of sensitive in- 
formation for new owners 
or scavengers to discover. 

Symantec inspected 
five used computers 
and found Social 
Security numbers, 
banking informa- 
tion, detailed com- 
pany data, and 
other tidbits that 
the previous own- 
ers likely didn't 
realize would end 
up gracing monitor 
screens once again. 
For instance, one PC 
contained a company 
organization chart listing 
employee names and titles; 
personal files such as photos, 
131 Word documents, and 35 Excel 
spreadsheets; as well as an Out- 
look file that yielded plenty of sent 
messages (421, to be exact) and six 
draft messages. 

Other computers examined by 
Symantec contained even more 
sensitive information, including 
employee information complete 
with Social Security numbers and 
addresses; bank account records 
complete with balances and ac- 
count numbers; confidential real 
estate transaction information; 
resumes with personal, insurance, 

and salary information; and IM 
(instant messaging) chat logs. 
Potentially embarrassing data 
also was found, including adult- 
themed pictures and adult-related 
usernames and passwords. 


Most experts recommend using 
a hard drive-erasing program to 
completely destroy data remaining 
on computer hard drives before 
selling them or giving them away. 
These programs let users boot 
their computers using a floppy 
diskette that erases all content on 
the hard drives, including the 
Windows installation. Although 
Symantec suggests leaving the 
OS (operating system) intact if 
the owner plans on donating the 

computer, owners are nonetheless 
better off deleting the OS if they 
aren't certain where to find sensi- 
tive data within the many folders 
Windows creates. 

Leaving sensitive information on 
computers that owners sell or give 
away is one thing, but what 
about notebook owners who 
are victims of theft? New 
products on the market 
can automatically wipe 
out or even destroy a 
hard drive if it is 
stolen or lost. Dead 
On Demand hard 
drives from En- 
sconce Data Tech- 
nology (www.ensc, for 
example, provide 
instant, remote de- 
struction of data if 
a certain type of in- 
trusion is detected. 
For example, users can 
press the included RF (radio 
frequency) controller to in- 
stantly destroy the hard drive's 
data from anywhere within 100 
feet of the drive. The hard drive 
also can be set to self-destruct if 
the notebook is simply picked up 
or if it detects a case intrusion. An 
optional GPS (global positioning 
system) feature even lets users 
select a distance beyond which the 
drive will self-destruct, while an 
optional cellular interface lets 
users call the hard drive and enter 
an activation code to begin the 
data destruction. I 

Smart Computing / July 2006 5 



Move Over, Blu-ray 

Just as we get ready to welcome high- capacity Blu 
ray media and devices into our homes, com- 
peting standards are already crawling out 
of the woodwork. But will they have 
what it takes to unseat the yet-to-be- 
seated Blu-ray? 

VCDHD (Versatile Compact 
Disc High Density), introduced 
by Ukraine's Sprout CD, Rus- 
sia's Antrop-Studio, and Dutch- 
based VDL ODMS, holds only 
about 4.7GB per disc, or the 
same as a single-sided DVD, but 
it does feature benefits over tra- 
ditional DVD media. For ex- 
ample, the discs are half as thick as 
DVDs, don't cost as much to manu- 
facture, and feature other geometry 
related improvements that help decrease 
errors. According to initial reports, each 
VCDHD disc will take only two seconds to produce 

compared to the six to nine seconds required 
for DVDs. 

Also on the horizon is PH-DVD (Polar 
High-definition DVD), which could 
improve upon the data storage 
capacity and read rate of DVDs 
by up to three times. According 
to Brainspark, which recently 
invested in Polarizonics, the 
company that developed the 
technology, PH-DVDs exploit 
"the polarization element con- 
tained in all current DVD for- 
mats [that] is not being used 
for the physical encoding of the 
information on the disc." Unlike 
VCDHD, which appears to be a 
DVD competitor, PH-DVD media 
could eventually hold more than 100GB, 
possibly positioning the technology as a 
direct challenger to Blu-ray. I 


Double The Displays, Double The Productivity 

If you've been tempted to add another monitor to your 
computer, a recent study by Jon Peddie Research might 
just push you to do it. Sure, multimonitor configurations 
certainly look cool, but this study appears to confirm that 
they're actually pretty darn useful, too. 

The study, which examined the multiple display market 
and consumer attitudes, found that 
consumers estimate a whopping 42% 
increase in productivity when using 
multiple monitors while performing 
tasks ranging from content creation and 
general office use to gaming and CAD 
(computer-aided design) applications. 

Of the consumers surveyed, 32% 
were currently using multiple displays 
and 55% said they want to or plan 
to use multiple monitors in the near 
future. Of course, multiple monitors 
aren't feasible for all users, and the study 

noted that obstacles include price, desk and office space, 
heat, noise, radiation, as well as confusion surrounding the 
use of multiple displays. 

The study also comments on the curious lack of mar- 
keting by video card manufacturers when it comes to 
multiple monitors. Whereas dual-head cards (that is, 
cards that support two monitors) were rare years ago, 
many of today's cards have dual heads 
but don't do much to advertise the 
feature. According to Peddie Re- 
search, card and chip companies 
treat multimonitor capability as an 
"oh, by the way" benefit. I 

* 'IB 

Many of today's video cards, such as this 
WinFast A340 TDH card from Leadtek, 
include the ability to connect two monitors 
to a single PC, which can greatly improve 
user productivity. 

6 July 2006 / 



High-Tech Typing 

The evolution of keyboards has seen these devices shrink 
from mammoth-like boxes to sleek, flat slates to fold- 
able and even roll-up units. The evolution continues with 
the Virtual Keyboard from VKB, which gives new meaning 
to the term "light keyboard." 

The Virtual Keyboard is 
actually a small device that 
projects a full-sized com- 
puter keyboard onto any 
flat surface using laser and 
infrared technology. The 
user's finger movements are 
observed and interpreted by 
the device, which translates 
those movements into ac- 
tual keystrokes and then 
communicates with the 
computer accordingly. 

Light is projected from a 
unit that's powered either 
by a rechargeable Li-Ion 

(lithium-ion) battery or an AC adapter, and adjustable 
timeouts let users conserve the keyboard's battery life. 
Users also can select and control keyboard sound effects, 
as well as the intensity and sensitivity of the projected 

keyboard. According to user 
feedback on the Web, the 
keyboard works well as 
long as the room's ambient 
light isn't too bright, so 
we'd imagine the Virtual 
Keyboard works best in in- 
door environments. 

In addition to a Bluetooth 
model that works with a wide 
range of mobile devices and 
other computers with Blue- 
tooth capability, a serial con- 
nector model also is available. 
Either model is $199 and 
available from www. virtual- 
laser-keyboard, com. I 


Intel Boosts Video Technology 

Integrated graphics chipsets have historically left much 
to be desired in the performance department, but new 
technology from Intel might change that no 
tion. The company's G965 chipset will 
feature improved 3D capabilities, and 
according to some sources, it'll in 
elude DirectX 10 technology. 

Developers of integrated graphics 
usually have a tough time keeping 
pace with video technologies from 
such companies as Nvidia and ATI 
Technologies and thus, they tend 
to market their devices to the low- \ 
end markets. However, the inclu- ^ 
sion of DirectX 10 in the G965 ^ 
chipset could help Intel break into 
(at least) the midrange video market, 
though the chipset likely won't keep pace 
with higher- end models from Nvidia and ATI. 



6965 Chipset 

The chipset could make a potential splash with PCs 
sporting Intel's Viiv platform, which consumers are still 
waiting on to make good on initial promises to 
transform multimedia computing. Also in- 
cluded with the G965 chipset is 16X 
anisotropic filtering, 32-bit floating- 
point calculations, and the hard- 
ware decoding of high-definition 
video streams. 

Even for nongamers, Intel's 
move toward more powerful 
integrated graphics should spark 
some interest. If the company's 
new chipsets can make leeway 
into previously uncharted territory, 
Nvidia and ATI would likely lower 
their prices on competing chipsets — an 
event that could, in turn, lower prices on 
graphics cards and computers. I 

Smart Computing / July 2006 7 



Lights, Camera, Action 

At the start of the broadband age, free image-hosting 
sites became all the rage, letting anyone and everyone 
post their experiences in digital, yet static, form. Now that 
broadband has kicked into overdrive, image hosting has 
given way to free video hosting, with new videos 
being uploaded by the second. 

Thanks to Web sites such as YouTube (www, Google Video (, 
and Metacafe (, aspiring 
directors now have an outlet to demonstrate their 
talents, though the large majority of popular 
videos aren't exactly Oscar-caliber material. In ad- 
dition to user-created content, these services pro- 
vide huge repositories of televised and other video 
clips, including documentaries, historical footage, 
and educational material. 

The sites allow unregistered visitors to search up- 
loaded videos by keyword and watch them for free, 
and with a broadband connection, the quality and 
speed is impressive. Uploading options are similarly 
impressive; for example, registered Google Video users 
can submit video files of any length and size. Plus, 
Google offers a premium program that caters to major 
producers with 1,000 or more hours of video, video 
that's been shown on TV networks, or video distrib- 
uted by major motion picture studios. 

For the casual visitor, YouTube offers categorized links 
such as Most Recent, Most Viewed, Most Discussed, Top 
Rated, and Random, whereas Google Video breaks down sub- 
missions into Comedy, Music Videos, Sports, and others. I 

Go «le 

Video O 

Popular Animation Educational News — 

Google Picks Comedy Movies Sports [ 

Random TV shows 

Search Video 


What's on Google Video 

15 popularvideos 
Another 15 popular videos » 

5 min 18 sec-Apr 21, 2006 

Funny Faces 3 
1 min 27 sec- Mar 23, 2006 


30 sec-s : 

?% I 

Stuhr- Uuithlz' r > Garou 
54 sec -Mar 

Zaiecie wymag; 

29 sec -Apr 10, 2006 

Gruba baba 

Web sites such as Google Video and YouTube continue to open doors for 
would-be video directors and archivists alike. 


I installed a second hard drive, but it 
doesn't appear in Windows Explorer. 

Because your PC's BIOS (Basic 
Input/Output System) should auto- 
matically recognize a second hard drive, 
an unrecognized drive usually means 
that the drive cable isn't properly con- 
nected (to the drive itself on one end 
and to the motherboard or other hard 
drive on the other end). Another possi- 
bility is that the jumper settings on the 
back of the drive are incorrect, so be 
sure to double-check them, as well. 

I installed a second monitor, but when 
I turn it on, there's no display. 

Assuming your second monitor is 
properly connected to your video card 
and plugged into an electrical out- 
let, you'll just need to make an easy 
change in Windows' Display Properties 
dialog box. Right-click an empty spot 
on your Desktop, click Properties, and 
choose the Settings tab. Select the box 
marked "2" and then select Extend My 
Windows Desktop On This Monitor. 
Click OK to confirm the change. 

My printer is printing ink blots on my 
pages. What can I do to fix it? 

Many modern printers include self- 
cleaning utilities that you can enable in 

your Windows printer settings, but if 
your printer's utility doesn't solve the 
problem or if it doesn't include a self- 
cleaning utility at all, you'll need to 
manually clean your ink cartridges 
using a clean, damp, lint-free cloth. 

My CPU temperature-monitoring tool 
reports high temps, even though I 
have a powerful fan and heatsink. 

If your CPU fan and case fans are op- 
erating properly and your case has effi- 
cient airflow, you might try reinstalling 
your CPU heatsink using a more effi- 
cient thermal compound, such as Arc- 
tic Silver ( 

8 July 2006 / 



Motorola Devices Trim Your Phone Collection 

Convergence continues to scale 
new heights of sophistication, as 
evidenced by a new family of products 
recently announced by Motorola that 
aims to give users more streamlined 
control over their mobile and stan- 
dard phones. 

The company's new RSG2500 and 
RSG3500 (RSG is short for Residential 
Seamless Mobility Gateway) combine 
both landline and mobile phone func- 
tionality into one device that connects 
to any broadband Internet connec- 
tion. Along with one of these RSG 
units and a compatible dual-mode 
mobile handset, users can make and 
receive both landline and mobile calls 
using a single phone that roams the 
Wi-Fi network. 

"Consumers today want the flexi- 
bility of a single number and handset 
that can be used both in and out of the 
home and a solution that can bridge 
digital phone services," said Charles 
Dougherty, Motorola corporate vice 
president and general manager, 
Connected Home Solutions, in a state- 
ment. "This latest Motorola innova- 
tion breaks traditional concepts of 
personal communication without sac- 
rificing ease of use or functionality." 

These gateways include an 802.11b/g 
access point, 4-port router, and a built- 
in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) 
adapter, so either of the units can re- 
place current home wireless network 
devices. Because the dual-mode phone 
uses the Wi-Fi network, users no 

longer need to worry about spotty mo- 
bile connections throughout the house, 
though we imagine Wi-Fi range limita- 
tions could cause potential connection 
problems, particularly as users walk 
farther from the access point. 

For consumers, these convergence- 
centric devices could result in re- 
duced cellular bills because the 
cellular network is offloaded when 
calls are made from the dual-mode 
handset via the RSG. The devices fea- 
ture power optimization technology 
that prevents serious handset battery 
drain because the RSG sends data at 
infrequent intervals and allows the 
handset to enter a sleep mode when 
not in use. The devices also give 
higher prioritization to voice traffic 
than data, which lets users send and 
receive high-quality voice transmis- 
sions even while using the Internet. 

Motorola expects to release both 
products this year, with the RSG2500 
hitting the market first. The RSG3500 
provides the same functionality as the 
RSG2500 but adds up to two lines of 
primary-line VoIP telephone service. 
Users will find all the usual telephony 
features in both models, including 
caller ID, call waiting, three-way 
calling, and call forwarding. I 

This nifty device from Motorola blends both 

mobile and landline phone functionality in 

one unit that lets users send and receive 

calls over their Wi-Fi networks. 


"If you say you're going to do something and you start to do 

it, and people enjoy it or respect it or are entertained 

by it, people will step up and help you." 

— Kyle MacDonald, who (at the time of this writing) is receiving a year of free rent on a Phoenix house by 
initially trading a paper-clip on the Web, explains what he thinks is the motivation behind other traders. 

(Source: Associated Press) 

Smart Computing / July 2006 9 


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News From The Help Desk 

Most Popular & Timely Tech Gills 

Compiled by Kylee Dickey 

Each month, we receive numerous technical support calls and 
email messages. Some computer problems are fairly common, 
and we find that many callers struggle to resolve the same issues. 
In this article, we cover five of the most common or timely tech 
support questions and provide our solution for each of them. 

amount of time you spend on the phone and help our "tech 
support detectives" solve your computer mystery faster. 

My Internet Explorer Address Bar is gone! 
Where did it go? 

QWhat information should I have on hand before I call 
for tech support? I'd like to receive an answer to my 
problem as quickly as possible. 

A One of the most important things you can do before 
you call tech support is write down the exact wording 
of an error message. For example, there are many things that 
may cause an error when you launch Internet Explorer, but if 
we know that the error message is "Explorer caused an invalid 
page fault in module Kernel32.dll," we can search our data- 
base of error messages to determine what causes this error. 

There are other things you can jot down that also will help 
speed up the process. First, if you're having trouble with a 
specific program, find out which version is installed. In most 
programs, you can find the version number by launching the 
program, opening the Help menu, and clicking About [Name 
Of The Program] . The resulting dialog box usually lists the 
program name followed by the version number. In addition, 
take note of which Windows version you have installed. If any 
other software was running when you encountered the error, 
make sure you note that, too. Also, take a moment to con- 
sider when the problem started and whether you installed any 
new hardware or software before the problem began. 

Besides documenting all of these things, you should try to 
restart your PC before you call tech support. Often, a problem 
resolves itself after your system restarts. And even if this step 
doesn't fix the problem, you can at least tell us you've already 
tried restarting your PC so we can proceed to diagnosing the 
problem rather than waiting for your computer to reboot. 

By collecting clues 
and trying a few of 
these suggestions first, 
you can reduce the 

Internet Explorer 

Strength: 128-bit 
Product ID: 
Update Versions:; SP2; 

■ ■ '■" 

. . . ; ......': :■./■;. i . . . 



Copyright £1199 jjx C1WZD 

After you launch a program 
and click Help and About 
[Name Of The Program], 
you can usually see the 
version number listed in a 
dialog box similar to this. 

A This is usually a simple problem to fix. More often than 
not, you just need to check IE's toolbar settings. Open 
IE's View menu and choose Toolbars. From the submenu, 
make sure Address Bar has a check mark next to it. If there 
isn't one, select Address Bar to solve the problem. 

If the Address Bar is enabled but you still don't see the 
Address field appear in the IE window, you'll need to edit the 
Registry. You should use caution when doing this because im- 
proper changes to the Registry can make your computer stop 
working. That's why it's a good idea to back up the Registry 
before you make any changes. If you need help doing this, 
you'll find instructions in our Tech Support Center. Go to and click Tech Support Center (at the 
top of the home page). In the Enter A Subject To Search By 
field, type backup Registry. Under Additional Results From 
General Editorial Archive, you should see an article titled 
"Windows Registry For Beginners." Click the link to use the 
article's instructions (in the Back Up & Restore The Registry 
section) for creating a Registry backup. 

To restore IE's Address Bar, open the Start menu, click 
Run, type regedit in the field, and click OK. In the Registry 
Editor, find HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Click the plus sign (+) 
next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER so you can view its con- 
tents. Find Software in this list and click its plus sign. Then, 
make sure that the lists are expanded for Microsoft, Internet 
Explorer, and Toolbar. Under Toolbar, you should see a key 
named WebBrowser. Right- click WebBrowser, click Delete, 
and click Yes. Close the Registry Editor. Now launch IE and 
make sure the Address Bar is back in place. 

How can I tell if it's time to replace my hard drive? 

A There are several things that can test a hard drive's 
condition, including some built-in tools in Windows. 
In Windows 98/Me, use the ScanDisk utility; in Windows 
2000/XP, use the Analyze function of Disk Defragmenter. 

To launch ScanDisk in Win98/Me, close all open pro- 
grams (including those running in the background) and 
then click the Start menu, Programs, Accessories, System 

12 July 2006 / 


Tools, and ScanDisk. Select the hard drive in question and 
choose the Thorough option. (The Standard scan will 
check for errors on the hard drive but not for physical 
problems with the drive itself.) Click the Start button. A 
drive scan often takes more than an hour, so you may want 
to perform such a task when you have other things to do 
while you wait to use the computer again. 

To check your hard drive's condition in Win2000/XP, click 
the Start menu, Programs (in Win2000) or All Programs (in 
WinXP), System Tools, and Disk Defragmenter. Make sure 
the drive you want to check is highlighted under Volume and 
then click the Analyze button. Wait for Disk Defragmenter to 
complete the analysis, which should only take a few moments. 

You also can use special drive utilities to check your hard 
drive, including Norton SystemWorks 2006 Basic ($49.99; Plus, consider using any diagnostic 
tools that came with your hard drive or those that are avail- 
able to download from the drive manufacturer's site. For in- 
stance, Western Digital ( offers Data 
Lifeguard, a group of diagnostic utilities that can diagnose 
problems with the company's hard drives. 

Regardless of which utility you use, it should provide a di- 
agnostic report that indicates any errors it found, any errors it 
fixed, and any errors it couldn't fix. If the utility finds several 
serious errors that it could not fix and/or cannot suggest steps 
for you to take to fix the errors, or if the utility indicates that 
there is a hardware failure, it is time to get a new hard drive. 
Hopefully, with early detection, you can still transfer the con- 
tents of your drive to a new location and save your data. 

I can't open my CD/DVD drive. What can I do? 

A Most optical drives have some way to open them manu- 
ally if the Eject button doesn't work. Check your com- 
puter's or optical drive's documentation to see if there's an 
alternate way to open the drive. One of the most common 
things drive manufacturers do is put a tiny pinhole on the side 
of the optical drive's tray. Other manufacturers may place a 
larger hole under the disc tray instead. For both scenarios, you 
just need to insert a thin object (such as the end of an unbent 
paperclip) into the hole to open the drive. Other drive manu- 
facturers provide a special tool for opening the drive in case 
of an emergency. 

Occasionally, an optical drive's tray may work after you un- 
plug the IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) cable from the 
back of the drive (but leave the power cable connected to the 
drive) and press the Eject button again. 

If all of these suggestions fail, you can sometimes grab the 
edges of the disc tray and carefully pry the tray open. Then, 
once you get the tray open, you can remove the disc, which 
likely is the source of the problem. In many cases, a warped 
disc or one that has a label that's unpeeling is what caused an 
optical drive's tray to become stuck in the first place. 

QThe Norton Antivirus icon in the System Tray has a 
red "X" through it, and Norton Antivirus' Auto-Protect 
feature no longer works. How do I fix this? 

A According to Symantec, you should first try to reset 
the file. In Win2000, simply restart your computer. 
In Win98/Me/XP, open the Start menu, click Run, type 
msconfig in the Open field, and click OK. Next, click the 
Startup tab in the resulting System Configuration Utility 
window. If there isn't a check mark next to ccApp, select 
its checkbox, click Apply, and click OK. Then restart 
your computer. 

If the problem persists, you should first disable and then 
re-enable the Auto-Protect feature. To do this, launch 
Norton Antivirus, open the Options menu, and click 
Norton Antivirus. Under the System heading, select Auto- 
Protect and deselect the Start Auto-Protect When Windows 
Starts Up (Recommended) checkbox. Click OK and restart 
your computer. 

After your computer restarts, launch Norton Antivirus, 
open the Options menu, and click Norton Antivirus again. 
Under the System heading, select Auto-Protect, select the 
Start Auto-Protect When Windows Starts Up (Recom- 
mended) checkbox, and click OK. Restart your PC. 

If Auto-Protect still doesn't work, you probably need to 
reconfigure your firewall. The settings and procedures for 
this process vary, depending on which version of Norton 
Antivirus you have, so check your Norton Antivirus docu- 
mentation for details. I 

Each Smart Computing issue includes tips, reviews, and information 
about a variety of topics. However, each issue also has a featured 
group of articles about a selected topic. Below is a list of the 
Feature Packages from the previous year. As a Smart Computing 
subscriber, you have access to all of our archived articles at 

July 2005 

Digital Photography— 50 Great Tips From The Pros 

August 2005 

Our Favorite Windows Tips & Tricks 

September 2005 

Fix The 50 Most Annoying PC Problems 

October 2005 

Get The Most From Your CDs & DVDs 

November 2005 

Solve The Wireless Puzzle 

December 2005 

Our Annual Holiday Buyer's Guide 

January 2006 

Troubleshoot! Solve Software Problems 

February 2006 

What's Slowing Down Your PC? 

March 2006 

Reinstall Your Operating System 

April 2006 

Protect Yourself Against Viruses & Spyware 

May 2006 

Vista vs. XP 

June 2006 

How To Restore Your PC 

Smart Computing / July 2006 13 

Tech Diaries 

Too Hot To Handle 

A Cool PC Is A Happy PC 

Joshua Gulick 

Send your comments to 

Performance CPU Cooler 



(800) 222-6832 


Heat can cause all kinds of computer er- 
rors and even destroy some of your 
PC's most sensitive components. And, 
wouldn't you know it, those same compo- 
nents generate a ton of heat. PC builders 
rely on heatsinks (metal blocks that have 
long, thin fins) and fans to pull heat from 
these parts and then funnel the warm air 
out of the computer. If you suspect heat is 
causing your computer woes, you may be 
able to fix the problem by replacing your 
CPU's heatsink with a better one. 

Antec Gets Cool 

Antec is a well-known PSU (power 
supply) builder. I've used plenty of its prod- 
ucts, but until now, I haven't used an Antec 
heatsink, so I decided to check out the 
Performance CPU Cooler to see if Antec 
handles heatsinks as well as it handles PSUs. 
In particular, I wanted to determine if it is 
easier to install than other heatsinks, as well 
as whether it is cooler and quieter than the 
heatsinks that accompany retail processors. 

Unlike many heatsinks that handle only 
certain types of CPUs, the Performance CPU 
Cooler supports a bunch of processors, in- 
cluding the latest AMD and Intel processors 
and several older models. The heatsink is al- 
most entirely aluminum. Copper dissipates 
heat faster than aluminum, but copper heat- 
sinks are more expensive than their alu- 
minum siblings. However, the Performance 
CPU cooler has copper heat pipes that run 
through the heatsink's aluminum fins, shut- 
tling additional heat away from the processor. 

Swapping Heatsinks 

I kicked off the test fest by installing a 
2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 4000+ processor 
into an ASUS A8V-e Deluxe motherboard. 
I applied a thermal paste to the processor 
and affixed a small temperature probe next 
to (but not directly on) the CPU. The 
motherboard included a backplate and a 

plastic support for the heatsink, so I installed 
the processor's included aluminum heatsink 
by placing it onto the support and then 
pushing the heatsink's clip into place. That 
wasn't as easy as it sounds — I had a tough 
time forcing the stiff clip with my thumb. 

Although I spent more time preparing and 
attaching the Performance CPU Cooler, I'd 
rather install it than the traditional clip- 
heatsink any time. The heatsink has two sepa- 
rate bases, which is why it supports so many 
types of processors. I used the included screws 
to attach the base and unscrewed the plastic 
support from the motherboard. I also in- 
stalled the CPU Cooler's backplate, but I 
could have screwed the heatsink into the 
motherboard's backplate without removing 
the motherboard. Next, I placed the heatsink 
onto the CPU and attached the screws to the 
backplate, all without hurting my thumbs. It's 
worth noting that the heatsink's screws, which 
have special springs, are already attached to 
the heatsink bases, which meant I didn't need 
to fumble with a bunch of tiny pieces to put 
the heatsink in place. 

Cool It 

I ran two CPU-stressing benchmarks 
(which heated up the processor) and then 
recorded my temperature probe's readouts. 
The Performance CPU Cooler kept the CPU 
several degrees cooler than the OEM (orig- 
inal equipment manufacturer) heatsink, even 
during benchmarks that sent the CPU into a 
number- crunching frenzy. In the thick of the 
benchmarking, the OEM heatsink kept the 
processor at about 108 degrees Fahrenheit, 
whereas the Performance CPU Cooler 
cooled the processor to about 101 degrees 
Fahrenheit. That's a sizeable drop. 

Final Word 

The Performance CPU Cooler is worth 
its $29.95 price tag. It's quieter than my 
CPU's included heatsink, and it keeps the 
processor much cooler. To top things off, 
you can install it almost as quickly as 
you'd install the OEM heatsink. I might 
stick with the OEM heatsink if I were 
building a computer, but I'd definitely buy 
the Performance CPU Cooler to cool a 
PC's that's already overheating. II 

14 July 2006 / 

Tech Diaries 

Bluetooth Audio Freedom 

Chad Denton 

Send Chad your opinions at 

Wireless Headphones 




The last time my wife saw our offices, she 
noted the headphones lying on nearly 
every desk. Headphones have been a bit of 
tradition here for as long as I've been with 
Smart Computing, but with the tech sup- 
port desk ensconced in the middle of us 
writers and editors, headphones are even 
more of a necessity: It's hard to write when 
the person across the aisle is trying to walk 
someone through reinstalling Windows. 

Considering that podcasts are my at-work 
audio distraction of choice, my cheap $10 pair 
of headphones work fine. If I have any com- 
plaint about my headphones, it's the cord, 
which always seems to get tangled. Enter 
Logitech's Wireless Headphones For MP3. 


Logitech offers a couple of wireless head- 
phones. The Wireless Headphones For iPod 
are compatible with Apple's 3G iPod, iPod 
mini, and iPods with color displays and in- 
clude integrated controls for volume 
and playback. Unfortunately, 
these headphones aren't com- 
patible with Apple's new fifth- 
generation iPods (the ones 
that can play video) or Apple's 
new iPod nano, and they aren't 
compatible with other MP3 
players. The Wireless Headphones 
For MP3, which I took a closer look 
at, are compatible with any MP3 player. 

The headphones come with a transmitter 
that plugs into a standard headphone jack. 
The transmitter adapts to fit most portable 
audio players. You can set the plug in the 
middle of the transmitter or move it to the 
side of the transmitter, depending on the 
device. Unfortunately, the Tungsten E I 
used with the headphones had a rounded 
top that prevented the transmitter from 
plugging directly into the device. The trans- 
mitter includes a small cable for such situa- 
tions. While this works, the Tungsten E is 
definitely harder to carry around with a 

Bluetooth transmitter dangling from the 
headphone jack. 

Logitech Wireless Headphones For M P3 Bluetooth 

The transmitter sends audio to the head- 
phones via Bluetooth. To establish the 
Bluetooth connection, press the connect 
button on the headphones until the blue 
LED (light- emitting diode) begins flashing. 
Press the connect button on the transmitter 
until the transmitter's LED begins flashing. A 
second later, the transmitter's LED should 
turn a solid blue to indicate a connection. 

Because the headphones support Blue- 
tooth, you should be able to use them with 
any Bluetooth-enabled device that supports 
audio. The transmitter, however, is the 
fastest and easiest way to connect as it 
doesn't require you to configure anything. 


The headphones themselves are fairly 
comfortable, although they did cramp my 
right ear a bit. Volume controls are included 
on the right ear and allow you to adjust the 
volume without reaching for the device it- 
self. Logitech recommends turning the 
volume up to the halfway mark on the de- 
vice. This model doesn't allow you to con- 
trol playback, so you need to use the device 
itself to skip tracks or pause playback. 

The transmitter has a range of about 30 
feet. I was able to walk quite a distance from 
the device without losing any quality. Putting 
a wall between you and the device does re- 
duce the range a bit. The nice thing about 
digital audio is that you don't get the white 
noise when you start getting out of range. 
Instead, the signal begins to get choppy and 
parts of the audio stream get dropped. The 
office's wireless network didn't seem to cause 
any noticeable interference, and the audio 
quality was definitely an improvement over 
my $10 headphones. According to Logitech, 
battery life should be about eight hours. I 
found the battery would easily last an entire 
workday and a little bit into the second day 
before I needed to recharge it. 

These headphones will set you back 
$129.99, but if you're tired of being tethered 
to your audio player, it might be a worth- 
while investment. II 

Smart Computing / July 2006 15 

Tech Diaries 

On The Road Again 

Use The Web To Save Money On Fuel 

Kylee Dickey 

Send your comments to 

There have been many increases in gas 
prices over the past few years, but 
somehow, most of them seemed to be more 
of an inconvenience than a major hardship. 
The latest round of fuel-price increases, 
though, has really cut into my wallet. I sus- 
pect it's cut into yours, as well. I've been es- 
pecially interested in ways to save money 
on gas because this summer I'm driving 
halfway across the country for my friend 
Tara's wedding. As I often do when I need 
answers to a problem, I turned to the 
Internet for help. 

Money-Saving Resources 

There are several resources online for 
finding the lowest gas prices in your area. 
These sites have been generating more hits in 
recent weeks and months. After Hurricane 
Katrina, when I needed to fill up my car's 
tank, I used some online resources to look 
for the best deals. However, gas prices didn't 
remain elevated for long after Katrina, and I 
soon neglected to look for prices online. 

Times have changed, though. With gas 
prices well above $3 per gallon in several 
states, it's no longer just a luxury to find the 
cheapest gas in town. One of the most pop- 
ular places to search for deals is AAA's Fuel 
Price Finder. Go to the AAA Web site (www If you've visited the site in the 
past, it will redirect you to your state's AAA 
page. If you haven't visited the site before, 
enter your ZIP code in the designated field 
and press ENTER. Once your state's AAA 
page loads, click the Fuel Price Finder link. 

AAA's price information is based off of 
credit card transactions from gas stations. 
There are other sites that provide tools for 
comparing gas prices in your area, including (www.gaspricewatch 
.com) or (www.gasbuddy 
.com). These rely on customer reports rather 
than credit card receipts: Not only can you 
check gas prices, but you can also report 
prices and help others in your area. 

Finally, if you need to budget for an up- 
coming trip, you can use the AAA Fuel Cost 
Calculator ( . 
This tool lets you select a starting point; an 
ending point; and the year, make, and 
model of your car. The Fuel Cost Calculator 
then estimates what gas mileage you'll get 
and the total cost of your trip. The only 
drawback is that you can select only major 
cities for your starting and ending points. 

Get Better Gas Mileage 

You can also find many resources online 
to help you make each gallon of fuel go fur- 
ther. For instance, the U.S. government has 
a site at that is full of 
tips for getting the best mileage possible. Of 
course, the site provides information about 
alternative- fuel vehicles, but it also has in- 
formation for those of us who can't afford 
to buy a new hybrid or alternative -fuel car 
right now. The Your MPG section of the 
site lets you calculate your gas mileage, 
compare your fuel efficiency with others' 
and with EPA (Environmental Protection 
Agency) standards, and print a form for 
recording fuel purchases. It's useful to com- 
pare your gas mileage with those of others 
who drive the same vehicle, because in real- 
world driving conditions, cars rarely achieve 
the EPA estimate listed on the sticker. 

The site also includes driving guidelines 
that will help you get more miles per gallon 
and a summary of the most important rou- 
tine maintenance that will help your car 
run efficiently. The Gasoline Prices link has 
a large map of the United States. Click your 
state to see links to local sites with current 
gas price information. The Find And 
Compare Cars tool even lets you compare 
expected gas mileage and average annual 
fuel cost for various years, makes, and 
models of vehicles. For example, I learned 
that I can expect to spend $300 less in gas 
per year with the vehicle I have now vs. the 
one I drove two years ago. 

I'd like to think that by the time you read 
this, gas prices will be lower again, but I 
know that's an unlikely scenario. These 
Web sites probably won't entirely remove 
the pain of buying fuel, but they might help 
you save a few dollars every time you fill up 
your tank. II 

16 July 2006 / 

Tech Diaries 

Optical Zoom Zen 

Nathan Chandler 

Send insights and insults 

to Nathan at 

EasyShare Z650 



(800) 235-6325 




(800) 405-0652 


Point-and-shoot cameras have come a 
long way in terms of quality, but you 
might be fed up with the limited magnifica- 
tion of a 3X or 4X optical zoom. For sports 
and wildlife shots, you really need more 
zoom, preferably in the range of 10X. 

I took a look at two point-and-shoot 
models with extra optical zoom that cost 
well under $1,000 to see how they com- 
pared. You'll soon see that more zoom 
doesn't necessarily have to zap your 
checking account. 

| Easy Distance 

Kodak's EasyShare Z650 is so 
compact that many people would 
never guess it's packing a 10X zoom lens. 
This camera measures 3.8 inches wide and 
only 2.9 inches deep. It also weighs less than 
1 1 ounces, meaning you can tote it with you 
just about everywhere without feeling over- 
loaded. In fact, this camera is so small that 
people with large hands and clumsy fingers 
might not feel comfortable changing settings. 
This Kodak has a 6-megapixel sensor and 
a 2-inch color monitor. As it's part of the 
EasyShare lineup, it comes with a lot of 
user-friendly extras, such as on-screen 
prompts that explain each mode and 
a Share button that makes it easier 
for you to immediately transfer your 
photos to a computer. 

Although the Z650 offers excellent 
flexibility, working with AA or CRV3 
batteries, it lacks an optical view- 
finder. That means you're stuck using 
the power-hungry color monitor or elec- 
tronic viewfmder to line up all of your shots. 
Performance-wise, this is a solid camera. 
It's ready to shoot in less than three sec- 
onds and records images quickly enough to 
let you shoot over and over again without 
major delays. Unlike many other affordable 
long-zoom cameras, this lens' mechanics 
are fast enough to alternate between wide 
and telephoto ranges without frustration. 

Picture quality varied from average to very 
good, with clear details and good coloring. 

Find Peace With The Right Long-Range Lens sonk Boom 

For about $200 more than the Kodak, 
you can opt for Panasonic's Lumix DMC- 
FZ30, which has an 8-megapixel image 
sensor and a whopping 12X zoom lens. The 
FZ30 is relatively large, measuring 5.5 
inches wide and 5.4 inches deep. It also 
weighs in at more than 1.5 pounds. Because 
the body is small compared to the gigantic 
lens, some users may not like the front- 
heavy feeling this camera imparts. 

Although the handling is a bit awkward, 
Panasonic did things right by including a 2- 
inch color monitor that's hinged, letting you 
capture pictures at angles where the view- 
finder would be hard to use. As with the 
EasyShare, this product uses an electronic 
viewfmder, so the camera drains power at a 
significant rate; the company says you should 
be able to capture about 300 pictures on one 
charge with the included lithium-ion battery. 

The FZ30 starts up almost instantly and 
will let you immediately capture a shot; 
there's zero delay. Just as quickly, you'll no- 
tice the color monitor, which provides 
grainy, discolored feedback that compares 
unfavorably to most current digital cameras. 
After I turned off the digital zoom, colors 
and details on the display were much clearer. 

This camera's best feature is probably its 
image stabilization, which kept blurring to a 
minimum, even when I used maximum tele- 
photo. Even at long distances, details were 
sharp, making for print- worthy shots. Just as 
nice, when the automatic functions failed to 
create accurate exposures, the FZ30 has a full 
range of manual features to tweak images. 

A Bigger View 

Although these cameras target different 
buyers, they do prove a point — you don't 
need a lot of cash to get a lot of zoom. If you 
don't want a lot of manual functions but de- 
sire a more magnification than most small 
cameras, the Z650 is a good buy. If you want 
more control, more resolution, and more 
zoom than just about any other low-priced 
fixed-lens camera, you'll enjoy using the very 
capable FZ30. II 

Smart Computing / July 2006 17 



Crash Recovery 

Utilities That Can Rescue Your System From Disaster 

Buying Tips 

Crash recovery is different 

from data recovery. Make sure 

any crash -recovery program 

you consider is capable 

of functioning even 

when the drive isn't. 

Let's start with a question: Would you 
rather get a root canal or have your hard 
drive crash? Don't feel bad if you hesitate in 
answering. In a society that relies heavily on 
digital information, as ours does, the unex- 
pected loss of data can have serious ramifi- 
cations. Prudent users protect themselves 
against the worst by investing in backup 
utilities and undelete software. However, 
these programs typically have no resources 
for handling a drive that won't boot. That's 
where crash- recovery software comes in. 

Most of the time, a drive crash occurs 
when the storage hardware begins to mal- 
function or key OS (operating system) com- 
ponents become corrupted. In either 
situation, the user loses access to the data. 
But — and this is the important part — the 
data itself almost always remains in good 
condition on the drive (as long as it isn't 
overwritten by other data). Crash- recovery 
software allows users to rescue this data and 
move it to a safe location. For best results, 
users should run crash- recovery software as 
soon as possible after a crash occurs. 

RecoverSoft Data Rescue PC 1.6 

RecoverSoft Data Rescue PC makes it 
easy to recover data files after a crash. 
When a drive unexpectedly fails and at- 
tempted reboots are met with Drive Not 
Found errors, the user simply inserts the 
program's bootable CD into the disc drive, 
restarts the computer, and runs the pro- 
gram directly from the disc. 

The program's intuitive Rescue Wizard in- 
terface guides users through the recovery 
process, providing clear explanations every 
step of the way. On our test system, Re- 
coverSoft scanned the entire drive in a rela- 
tively quick 25 minutes. Once scanned, the 
drive's contents are presented for review. 
Each file is rated according to the chances of 
recovery: Excellent, Good, Possible, or Poor. 

Users then can select the files they want to 
restore, and RecoverSoft will transfer the 
files to any FAT (file allocation table) parti- 
tion on an internal hard drive or external 
USB or FireWire storage drive. Users who 
need to interrupt the recovery can save it to 
a floppy diskette and complete it later. Help 
is readily available by pressing Fl at any 
time, and users who need additional assis- 
tance can get it by phone or email. 

Of course, RecoverSoft has its shortcom- 
ings, most notably a media limitation that 
prevents users from restoring data to an 
NTFS (NT file system) drive. Moreover, its 
price tag seems quite high and its value quite 
low when compared to a title such as Norton 
Save & Restore ($69.99; 
that comes loaded with a variety of other 
backup and recovery features. In the end, 
RecoverSoft functions as a reliable — but 
pricey — insurance policy that users can fall 
back on when disaster strikes. 

(NOTE: Pro soft Engineering recently an- 
nounced the release of RecoverSoft Data 
Rescue PC 2.0, which will be available to 
consumers by the time you read this. 
However, it was not available for review 
when this article was written.) 

Ontrack EasyRecovery Lite 6.1 

When drives fail, users panic. When 
crash- recovery software fails, users get mad. 
We know, because it happened to us when 
we tested EasyRecovery Lite 6.1. One of our 
test systems locked up repeatedly when we 
tried booting it with the included bootable 
floppy diskette. Another test system, a 
newer PC without a built-in diskette drive, 
was unable to accommodate the bootable 
floppy altogether. EasyRecovery gave us the 
option of burning a bootable CD-ROM, but 
we couldn't take advantage of it because the 
computer in question was not equipped 
with a third- party disc -writing utility that 
supports the creation of bootable discs from 
ISO9660 image files. 

In its defense, EasyRecovery performed 
admirably on our third test system. It cor- 
rectly identified the PC's drives, slowly 
scanned the drives for content, and pro- 
vided a simple step-by-step wizard that 
guided us through the process of recovering 
data. Like RecoverSoft, EasyRecovery lists 
details about each of the identified files. A 

18 July 2006 / 


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Buying Tips 

If you think crash -recovery 

software is expensive, you 

might want to check out the 

price of hiring a crash -recovery 

service. Users who hire a 

data-recovery service to 

extract data from a fallen 

storage drive can expect to 

spend $1,000 or more, says 

Jeff Faust, spokesperson for 

Kroll Ontrack. 

G rating meant the file 
was in good shape, for 
instance, while a D rating 
meant the file appeared 
to be deleted. EasyRe- 
covery could restore files 
to virtually any accessible 
media format, including 
floppy diskettes. Unfor- 
tunately, it allows users 
to recover a maximum of 
25 files per recovery ses- 
sion. We cannot over- 
state our disappointment in this regard. 
Users who want to recover an unlimited 
number of files either have to launch one 
recovery session after another — an extraor- 
dinarily tedious option — or pay $199 for 
EasyRecovery DataRecovery. 

Aside from its crash-recovery function- 
ality, EasyRecovery Lite boasts several other 
data recovery features. It has a built-in file 
recovery component for restoring acciden- 
tally deleted files from a properly func- 
tioning hard drive, for instance, and a 
format recovery component for restoring 
data from a drive that was formatted acci- 
dentally. We appreciated these extras, but 
they could not make up for the utility's var- 
ious shortcomings. 

Recover It All 

Crash recovery is a computing activity 
typically undertaken by experienced com- 
puter users. All of the programs featured 

in this roundup assume a certain level of 
technical expertise. Recover It All is cer- 
tainly no exception. 

This is a program aimed at serious com- 
puter users. The sleek program interface 
lacks the big user- friendly icons associated 
with consumer-oriented products and in- 
stead contains references to LBA (logical 
block addressing), root drives, drive geom- 
etry, physical ID, and the like. Users 
looking for guidance will find help files 
littered with inside jokes that make sense 
to no one but computer nerds. The util- 
ity's extended features include options 
for repairing corrupt partition tables and 
boot sectors, a cloning feature that allows 
users to copy the contents of a failing drive 
to a secondary device, and support for 
RAID (redundant array of independent 
disks) configurations. 

However, many experienced users will 
not be able to use the program for crash re- 
covery. The software is designed to be run 
directly from a floppy diskette or other safe 
media, which makes sense given that soft- 
ware should not be installed on a damaged 
drive under such conditions. What doesn't 
make sense is the fact that Recover It All 
does not support DOS. Users must run the 
program from within Windows, something 
that may be impossible to do following a 
drive crash. Program developers promise 
that future versions of the program will run 
in DOS. Until then, however, the only 
people who should consider the program 

Software Information 



Contact Information 


RecoverSoft Data 
Rescue PC 1.6 

EasyRecovery Lite 6.1 

Recover It All 

Norton Save & Restore 1 1 


Prosoft Engineering (877) 477-6763 

Ontrack Data (800) 645-3649 
Recovery (952)937-5161 

DTI Data (866) 438-6932 
(727) 345-9665 

Symantec (408) 51 7-8000 

Srnrerarri ^^^^^^ 


Ease Of Use 

i Installation 



Overall Score 


RecoverSoft Data 
Rescue PC 1.6 

EasyRecovery Lite 6.1 

Recover It All 

Norton Save & Restore 1 1 














Smart Computing / July 2006 19 


Buying Tips 

Do not use crash -recovery 

software if you hear scratching, 

clicking, or grinding noises 

coming from a drive. These 

noises suggest a mechanical 

failure. In such a situation, you 

should turn off your PC and 

contact any company listed in 

this article for assistance. 

for crash- recovery purposes are those with 
dual-boot systems. 

One nice extra worth mentioning: Re- 
cover It All users can apply the utility's 
price toward the purchase of data- recovery 
services provided by if such 
services are needed. 

Norton Save & Restore 

When PC users have a problem, they 
often look to Symantec to solve it. The 
company actually produces several prod- 
ucts that aid in data recovery, but the one 
that proves most valuable in total system 
failure is Norton Save & Restore. Although 
the utility is not a crash-recovery utility per 
se, we liked it because it did almost every- 
thing a crash-recovery utility should do. 

As is the case with RecoverSoft, the Save 
& Restore installation disc doubles as a 
boot disc. When the drive crashes, the user 
simply pops the disc in the drive to launch 
the recovery environment and the intuitive 
Recover My Computer Wizard. The wizard 
walks users step-by-step through the 
process of moving data from a crashed 
drive to a backup drive. We liked that the 
recovery environment provided options for 
replacing a corrupted master boot record, 
configuring the backup drive as the boot 
drive, and — an especially nice touch — 
scanning the drive for viruses. 

Beyond its crash-recovery capabilities, 
Save & Restore also doubles as a robust 
backup utility that accommodates multiple 
backup routines, supports scheduled 
backups, and offers file-recovery function- 
ality. The utility also boasts a cloning op- 
tion for copying the contents of one drive 
to another, which makes it quick and con- 
venient to get a replacement drive 
up and running. 

We have only a few complaints 
to make about Save & Restore. The 
first and most significant is that the 
utility's crash-recovery compo- 
nents only work if the utility is up 
and running on the system prior to 
a crash. Why? Because Save & 
Restore recovers data by referring 
to recovery points and can recover 
only those data files that are part of 
an existing recovery point. The 
utility is of no help whatsoever 

when brought in after the fact. Another 
complaint stems from the fact that a system 
must be equipped with at least 256MB of 
dedicated RAM in order to run the re- 
covery environment. (In contrast, Easy- 
Recovery and RecoverSoft require a scant 
64MB of RAM.) Users of older PCs will 
have to upgrade their memory modules or 
look elsewhere for assistance. Finally, 
there's the issue of tech support. Symantec 
bundles a comprehensive users manual 
with the program and provides various on- 
line support options, but phone-based tech 
support is available only at a cost of $29.95 
per incident. 

Be Prepared 

Drive crashes, by their very definition, 
are something that strike unexpectedly. 
That doesn't mean users must face them 
unprepared. By preparing for crashes while 
their systems are running well, users can 
protect themselves against the worst conse- 
quences of drive failure. 

One of the best things a user can do to 
prepare for a drive crash is invest in a 
crash-recovery program in advance. We 
recommend Norton Save & Restore, this 
month's Smart Choice designee. The utility 
offers robust backup utilities for when 
times are good and sufficient recovery ca- 
pabilities for when times are bad. Users 
who do not make advance preparations 
and find themselves facing a crash before 
they're ready should consider RecoverSoft 
Data Rescue PC, which can rescue most 
files even after a crash has hit. II 

by Jeff Dodd 


Save & Restore 

July 2006 

Smart Choice 

Norton Save & Restore 11 

20 July 2006 / 

Software Reviews 

Drive Utilities 

Backups The Easy Way 


$59.95 ($29.95 

for one year only) 

Warm And Fuzzy Logic 




Airtertwlk Rick-Up 

At Up to 0*(t Aj feur Urt Sm 


Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 5 
Installation 5 
Documentation 5 
Price 3 
Overall Score 4.6/5 

Studies show that many users don't per- 
form routine backups because they are 
such hassles. If you fall into that category, or 
if you have ever been caught unprepared for 
a crash because your backup was outdated, 
then listen up. An innovative program, 
ShadowBack, can back up your files auto- 
matically every time they change. Not only 
will you have an easier time managing the 
backup process, but also you'll greatly in- 
crease your odds of having up-to-date 
backups should problems arise. 

ShadowBack has a well- organized, user- 
friendly layout, with big, easy-to-read but- 
tons for such options as Simple Backup, 
Advanced Backup, Simple Restore, and 
Advanced Restore. Novice users will appre- 
ciate the Simple Backup and Simple Restore 
options, which largely automate the backup 
and restore process. 

With Simple Backup, ShadowBack asks you 
to select either Backup My Computer or 
Backup My Work. Choose Backup My Com- 
puter, and ShadowBack will create a full 
system and data backup. Select Backup My 
Work, and ShadowBack will sail through your 
drives, locating all user-created files, including 
documents, emails, and Internet bookmarks. 
If you need to restore your backup set, use the 
Simple Restore option and ShadowBack will 
return the entire backup to its original location 
or the destination of your choice. 

Despite the helpful nature of the simple 
backup and restore options, we really like the 
Advanced Backup and Advanced Restore fea- 
tures. Here, you use a Windows Explorer- style 
interface to select files and folders for one or 
more custom-made backup sets. At any time, 
you can reload those backup sets for editing 
(to add more folders, for example). When you 
restore, the Advanced Restore feature lets you 
select exactly which files to restore and then 
places them in the location of your choice. 

A Helping Hand 

No matter what backup method you 
choose, you can have ShadowBack automati- 
cally monitor your files for changes. It can 
then back up changed files continually, 

during idle time, or only when the user presses 
the Backup Changed Files Now button. You 
can decide how often after file changes 
ShadowBack should update the backup. 

During installation, ShadowBack can per- 
form an initial backup (you can do this later, 
so skip the offer unless you have plenty of 
time). It then lets you establish a number of 
preferences. Options include the ability to 
choose which drives to monitor, compress or 
encrypt backups, decide whether or not to 
overwrite changed files, instruct the program 
where to store your backups, select optical 
disc (CD or DVD) sizes and recording speeds, 
and more. You can access those same options 
any time during regular operation using the 
Options button on the main interface. 

A Winner 

ShadowBack's button-driven approach 
may seem too simplistic for users of more so- 
phisticated tools. Nevertheless, we really liked 
it. The program is fast and efficient, and it 
works with a variety of media, including tape 
drives, network drives, and optical discs (CDs 
or DVDs). Furthermore, during setup, Sha- 
dowBack does a good job of locating com- 
monly used programs, discerning where they 
store their data, and giving you the option to 
back it up. ShadowBack is also capable of 
backing up programs and email or contact 
data (Outlook; Outlook Express) on the fly 
while you work. 

ShadowBack does use a proprietary 
file format, which means you'll need the 
program to perform a restore. This is a 
common approach for programs in this cat- 
egory, so we don't consider it a drawback. 

ShadowBack's ability to monitor for 
changes in real time is what really sets it 
apart. With multiple backup sets for various 
file types based on frequency of change and 
importance, you can ensure the level of pro- 
tection (and consequently, the amount 
of time and space allotted to the backup 
process) is appropriate for every file on 
your system. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 

Smart Computing / July 2006 21 

Software Reviews 


Burn It Up! 

Fireman CD/DVD 
Burner 2.0 


Honest Technology 

Firemano n 

CD/DVD Burner Z..U 

Fireman 2.0 is a CD/DVD data-, audio-, 
and video-burning utility with one of the 
most colorful, uncomplicated main inter- 
faces we have ever seen. It's also speedy and 
flexible. It can create everything from CDs to 
mini-DVDs and Super Video CDs, supports 
dual-layer, multisession burning, and DVD 
folder burning. It also offers on-the-fly, 
drag-and-drop burning so you won't need 
extra hard drive space to create a mirror 
(replica) of a file set before you burn it. 

However, Fireman is lacking in some 
areas, preventing us from being unreservedly 
enthusiastic. Users access all Fireman opera- 
tions using one of four button bars, which 
also appear as cheery, cartoon-style icons. 
They then drill down through additional in- 
terfaces to select a subcategory and choose 
the individual files. 

The final selection window closely resem- 
bles Windows Explorer, which will be a com- 
fort to some users. Nevertheless, we felt a 
program that targets novices should be more 
user-friendly. For example, the program uses 

but fails to explain terms, such as root and ISO, 
that novices may not recognize. Additionally, 
even after the user selects a file category to 
burn, the software offers no assistance identi- 
fying appropriate files. It would have been nice 
if the program could search for — or at least 
limit display to — appropriate files types. 

Instead, Fireman lists every file and folder 
in the selection window but will only let 
users add to the file list those that match the 
desired criteria. Fireman doesn't explain 
why the user can't add other files; it just ig- 
nores the request altogether. 

This gets the job done, but it could result in 
long selection sessions as novice users choose 
files. Those familiar with filename extensions 
won't have a problem, but people at that skill 
level will likely be turned off by Fireman's 
Disney-esque visuals. Given everything it is 
trying to accomplish, Fireman is fairly agile, 
but we wouldn't call it elegant. A free trial will 
let you find out if it's right for you. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 


Lifejoumai Your Life's Story 


Chronicles Software 

(877) 456-8762 


Performance 4 
Ease Of Use 3 
Installation 4 
Documentation 2 
Price 4 
Overall Score 3.4/5 

Imagine a word processing program that 
incorporates a database structure filled 
with common lifestyle categories and subcat- 
egories (such as gratitude or garden). Every 
time you create a document, you assign 
it to a category, making it easy for you 
to track what you have written. You 
have just imagined the gist of jour- 
naling software such as Lifejournal. 

You may wonder why someone 
would pay for a dedicated program that 
is basically a word processor. We won- 
dered the same thing, until we used the 
software. In addition to having word 
processing features such as spell check 
and the ability to insert files or graphics, 
Lifejournal abounds with elements designed 
to enhance your journaling sessions. For ex- 
ample, Lifejournal provides prompts and in- 
spirational quotes to get you going. It also lets 
you assign a Daily Pulse (your mood, stress 
and energy levels, health, and six other op- 
tional criteria) to your sessions. 

You can timestamp your entries and create 
hyperlinks to other journal entries, thereby 
weaving a web of your musings. You can also 
create dialogue by establishing characters. 

The use of the category indexing system 
makes it easy to structure your thoughts, jot- 
ting down a few sentences or a page and 
leaving the journal for another day. When you 
return, you can search your entries by various 
criteria, making it easy to pick up where you 
left off. Those of us in busy households can 
password-protect our journals so no one else 
can read them. 

We found some of Lifejournal's features, 
including assigning topics and characters, to 
be a bit confusing at first. Furthermore, the 
tutorials are not particularly illuminating. 
However, after a reasonable amount of time 
spent learning the ropes, we think the average, 
expressive person will find Lifejournal quite 
enjoyable. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 

22 July 2006 / 

Your Final Destination. 

Available at major retailers nationwide. 

PC Today is designed for today's on-the-go business professional. 

Visit for more information or call (800) 733-3809 

Publishing 1 

Staff Picks 

Our Experts Pick The Best Hardware 


To me, a PDA (personal digital assistant) is much more than just another gadget that 
I carry around every day; it has become my second brain. Without it, I would be 
late to appointments, forget to pay the mortgage, or worse yet, forget my mom's 
birthday. Although I'm really not as scatterbrained as this may make me sound, I really 
do rely on my PDA to keep me organized and sane. 

The HP iPAQ hx2495 ($399.99; has all of the right specs to fit my needs, 
including Windows Mobile 5.0, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. I also love the fact that it reads both 
CF (CompactFlash) and SD (Secure Digital) cards. This way, I can use my iPAQ as a 
portable photo viewer to read the memory cards used in many popular digital cameras. I 
can also keep a spare card around for music and turn the hx2495 into a portable 
music player. 

With the 3.5-inch color display, an Intel PXA270 processor run- i — 
ning at 520MHz , and 1 92MB of memory (up to 80MB available for jPAQ hx2495 
persistent storage) rounding out the list of impressive specs, I can $399.99 
accomplish virtually anything I want from the palm of my hand. II HP 

(800) 752-0900 

by Jennifer Johnson 

Desktops <= $1,500 

HP Pavilion Media Center TV m7330n 




An AMD Athlon 64 XD 4200+ processor is the heart of this system, 
which includes a single TV tuner and Windows XP Media Center. 

Desktops > $1,500 
Dimension B110 


Dell offers several B110 configurations, including the $549 rig which 
has a 17 -inch monitor. Although I haven't seen this PC in action, I'd 
probably bump the memory to 1GB. 

Notebooks <= $1,500 
Satellite A105-S271 7 


This laptop has Centrino technology, 1GB of RAM, a TruBrite 
display, and a DVD burner. 

Notebooks > $1,500 
Portege M405-S8003 


I've long been a fan of Toshiba's Thin & Light Portege notebooks, 
and this tablet-style version has plenty of road-warrior features in 
an easy~to~haul package. 


Handhelds & PDAs 
iPAQ hx2495 






This PDA has all of the right specs for my needs: Windows Mobile 
5.0, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and integrated CF (Compact Flash) and SD 
(SecureDigital) card readers— all for about $400. 



I've heard great things about Saitek's Eclipse, but I know from ex- 
perience that the Logitech G15 is one of the best gaming keyboards 
around, thanks in no small part to its programmable G keys. 

V400 Laser Cordless Mouse For Note 

books Logitech 

Finally, a notebook mouse that will work on almost any surface. 
Compared to an optical mouse, this laser mouse can track move- 
ment accurately on a wider range of surfaces. 





These days, there's no excuse not to have a large, easy~to~read monitor. 
Although I haven't see it in person, the E90fs 19-inch fat screen and 
1,792 x 1,344 maximum resolution looks almost as good as its price tag. 

LCDs <= 19 inches 


Nineteen inches, a 1,280 x 1,024 resolution, an 8ms response time, 
and a three-year warranty. 'Huff said. 

LCDs> 19 inches 
UltraSharp 3007WFP 



This 30-inch widescreen giant is among the biggest monitors you 
can buy. So big in fact, you need a dual-link graphics card that 
supports 2,560 x 1,600 resolution to support it. 

24 July 2006 / 

Staff Picks 

PC Power & Cooling's Turbo-Cool 1 KW PSU 

PSUs (power supply units) don't get a lot of ink, but they're nearly as important as any com- 
ponent in your computer. Recently, I built a new home system based on the very slick 500W 
Ultra X-Connect PSU ($150). But for all the flash it provides via built-in blue LEDs and win- 
dowed panels, I'd stick the Turbo-Cool 1KW (kilowatt) in the rig today. The Turbo-Cool 
kicks out an amazing one-kilowatt of power, is factory-tested to meet 22 metrics, and has 
connectors for any component you throw at it. At nearly $500, it isn't anywhere near being 
cheap, but what do you expect for 1 KW of PC power from a trusted PSU maker? II 

by Blaine Flamig 

Turbo-Cool 1KW PSU 


PC Power & Cooling 

(800) 722-6555 


Inkjet <= $150 
PIXMA iP6220D 



Integrated flash card slots and monitor, plus six inks rated for 100 
years when stored properly. 

Inkjet > $150 
Stylus Photo R1 800 



Super colorful 13x19 photos that resist fading for about 200 years. 

Laser <= $200 
LaserJet 1018 



The print speed isn't blazing but this is a low-maintenance printer 
at a great price point. 

Laser > $200 to $500 
CLP 600N 



With the ability to turn out as many as 20 pages of color per 
minute the CLP 600N looks like a nice buy. 

Laser > $500 
LaserJet 3800n 



The 65,000-page duty cycle isn't as much as the DellSWOcn, but 
the 533MHz processor makes this LaserJet worth looking at. 


MFC 3420CN 


i ll'AM'l ■ 



This multifunction device includes a color laser printer that can 
dole out up to 31 monochrome or eight color pages per minute. It 
also features a 48-bit scanner and 33.6Kfax modem. 

Flash Memory & Portable 
1GB Cruzer Profile 

CD & DVD Drives 



Hard Drives 

Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 







Western Digital 

Because it uses biometrics, I don't have a password to forget any- 
more. Plus, it has 1GB of storage for less than $100. 

Fastest DL (double-layer) burning speed, SAT A (Serial Advanced 
Technology Attachment), and an unusually low price (for Plexor). 

Updated for outrageous speed and a more respectable capacity. 

Digital Camcorders < $500 



Digital Camcorders > $500 

HDR-FX1 HDV Handycam Camcorder 


Digital Still Cameras - Point & Shoot 

PowerShot S80 


Digital Still Cameras - Adv./Prosumer 



Graphics Cards <= $150 
e-GeForce 7300 GS 

Graphics Cards > $150 
Gigabyte GV-NX79X512DB-RH 
about $499 












This camcorder offers superior picture quality afforded by a 3CCD 
image sensor, and it's one of the cheapest you'll find. The MSRP is above 
$500, but we found it online at various retailers for less than $500. 

If you want to go all out on a camcorder, then you gotta go HD. 
From what we've heard, this is one of the best. 

This compact 8-megapixel camera has a wide-angle lens (equiva- 
lent to 28mm to 100mm on a film camera) and many of the ad- 
vanced settings typical of higher-end cameras. 

The only SLR (single-lens reflex) camera— and a budget-priced one, 
at that— with a live view on its 2.5-inch color monitor. 

Upgrading to Windows Vista will probably mean upgrading your 
graphics card. This is an inexpensive way to do it. 

This is a graphics card that uses NVIDIA's top-of-the-line GeForce 
7900GTX chipset. With 512MB onboard memory it's perfect for 
running Dell's UltraSharp 3007 WFP. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 25 



Sharing WinXP Folders Over A 
Home Or Home-Office Network 

Customize Start Menu 

General Advanced 

0::e" !..;■-■ e\s v.-e- ;c_se :- : _ e- ■■:.- 
Highlight newly installed programs 

_ : :- : rs::-cv :- s :e- 

Display as a link 
O Display as a menu 
O Dont displaythis item 

What's the biggest benefit you get from having a 
home or home-office network? If you're like most 
users today, it's probably the ability to share a single 
Internet connection among all the computers on the net- 
work. In fact, sharing an Internet connection is likely the 
only reason you have a network at all — you probably 
bought a router to share your connection and got the 
network as a bonus when you installed the router. 

However you came to have a network, if you're using it 
for nothing other than sharing an Internet connection, 
you're missing out on another major convenience: the 
ability to share folders among the computers on the net- 
work. When you share a folder on 
one of your computers, the contents 
of that folder are available to any 
other computer on the network. That 
is, from any other computer on the 
network, you can open the shared 
folder, open any of the files within the 
shared folder, copy any of the files to 
your computer, or even edit a file as if 
it were on your computer. If you or 
the other users on your home or 
home- office network spend a lot of 
time emailing files to other com- 
puters or copying files to CDs or 
memory sticks so you can transfer 
them between computers, sharing is 
something that can save you time and 
something you ought to explore. 

If it's not clear, the instructions that follow assume 
you have already set up a network in your home or 
home office. 

Use The Shared Documents Folder 

Actually, whether you know it or not, you're already 
sharing a folder with everyone else on your network: 
the Shared Documents folder, which, by default, 
Windows XP installs and configures to be shared. To 
see your Shared Documents folder, click Start and 
choose My Documents; in the left pane of the My 
Documents window, under Other Places, click Shared 

-:e:e'-; : _ :_■■ ents 

_s: "■'>■ -:s: -e;e-:v :;e _ er r::_'e\s 

If you're going to be sharing folders over 
your network, you'll want My Network 
Places on your Start menu. 

Documents. In the folder, you'll find subfolders for 
Shared Music, Shared Pictures, and Shared Video, as 
well as any documents or folders you may have moved 
or copied there yourself. 

To see the Shared Documents folders on other users' 
computers, click Start and choose My Network Places. (If 
My Network Places doesn't appear on your Start menu, 
right- click the Start button, choose Properties, click the 
Start Menu tab, click Customize [next to the Start Menu 
radio button] , and click the Advanced tab. Under Start 
Menu Items, check My Network Places and click OK 
twice.) In the My Network Places window, you'll see the 
Shared Documents folders, called 
Documents on [ComputerName] or 
SharedDocs on [ComputerName] for 
each computer currently turned on 
and connected to your network. 

If you want to share a file with the 
other users in your network, just 
copy or move the file to your Shared 
Documents folder. First, locate the 
file you want to share. Right- click the 
file and choose Copy or Cut. Under 
Other Places, right-click Shared 
Documents and choose Paste. Your 
file is in the folder and ready to share. 


[ Clear List~ 

| Cancel 

Exercise Some Control 

By default, the Shared Documents 
folder gives others on the network unlimited access to 
the folder, and to the files within — that is, they can 
open any file in the folder, but they can also add files to 
the folder, remove files from the folder, and make 
changes directly to files in the folder. It's not unthink- 
able that you'd offer this level of access on a home or 
home-office network. 

But if you'd rather offer read-only access, under 
Other Places, right-click Shared Documents and choose 
Sharing And Security. Under Network Sharing And 
Security, deselect Allow Network Users To Change My 
Files and click OK. Now other users on the network can 
open the Shared Documents folder and open any of the 

26 July 2006 / 

files within, but they can't change the file once they 
open it, and they can't add files to or remove files from 
the folder. (A user is still free to copy a file from the 
Shared Documents folder to a folder on his own com- 
puter, where he can then edit the file.) 

Share Other Folders 

The Shared Documents folder is convenient because it 
keeps things simple, giving everyone on your network a 
place to share and access shared files. But you can share 
virtually any other folder on your computer. Right- click 
the folder you want to share and choose Sharing And 
Security. Under Network Sharing And Security, select 
Share This Folder On the Network. The folder's name 
should appear in the Share Name field; change it if you'd 
like it to have another share name. Finally, if you'd like 
other users to be able to change the folder, or any of the 
files therein, select Allow Network Users To Change My 
Files; otherwise, leave that checkbox blank. Click OK. 

There are a few folders WinXP won't let you share, in- 
cluding the Windows folder, the Program Files folder, 
and the Systems folder. When you open the Settings And 
Security dialog box for these folders, the options are 
grayed out. 

Any folder within a folder you've shared is also 
shared and accessible to others on the network. This is 
in spite of the fact that when you open the Sharing And 
Security dialog box for the folder in question, Share 
This Folder On The Network is NOT selected by de- 
fault. If you don't want to share a folder within a shared 
folder, right-click the folder, choose Sharing And 
Security, select Make This Folder Private, and click OK. 

You Can Share Drives, Too 

You can share an entire hard drive (or partition) in the 
same way you share folders. In most cases, you won't 
want to share your root drive, the drive on which 
Windows is installed. But there are instances in which 
sharing an external drive, or another drive partition, 
can be practical and even prudent. 

Suppose you've invested in an external USB hard 
drive for backing up important files. The drive has plenty 
of capacity, and you'd like to use it to back up the im- 
portant files on all the computers on your network. 
However, it's a pain to install the drive on each machine 
and to move it from computer to computer. Plus, if you 
formatted the external drive to use the Windows NTFS 
format, you may not be able to use it with an older 
Windows 9x/Me system, which uses an incompatible 
format. No problem: If you connect the external drive to 

one Windows XP computer and share it, and allow 
changes on it, then ANY computer on the network can 
copy files to the drive. To the same end, you could share 
a nonroot partition on one of your computers' larger in- 
ternal drives, so that older computers with smaller hard 
drives can back up files to that partition. 

To share a drive, click Start and choose My Com- 
puter. Right-click the drive you want to share and 
choose Sharing And Security. In the dialog box that ap- 
pears, click If You Understand The Risk. Select Share 
This Folder On The Network; if you want to be able to 
write to the drive, as in the aforementioned examples, 
also select Allow Network Users To Change My Files. 
Click OK. The drive will now appear among the icons 
in other PCs' My Network Places, where users can open 
and copy files to it, as with any other folder or drive. 

% J My Network Places 


File Edit View Favorites Tools Help 

(^ | y_ ' Search [] Folders [jjj] - 
; Address [^ My Network places 

Network Tasks 

^ Add a network p 




View network 


Setup a home o 
office network 




Other Places 

[g Desktop 
■J Mv Computer 
l£j My Documents 
(^ Documents 
S^i Printers and 


id Faxes 

Desktop (Markdesktop) 




The My Network Places folder gives you a complete picture of all the 
shared folders on your network. The folders named SharedDocs On 
are each computer's original Shared Documents folders. 

Is All This Sharing Safe? 

If you have a wired network, as long as you trust 
everyone on the network, and as long as your router 
comes equipped, as most do, with a solid built-in fire- 
wall, you have little to fear. If you're concerned that 
one or the other is not the case, address the problem 
before you start sharing and share only when the con- 
venience significantly outweighs any risk. 

If you have a wireless network, you must take the extra 
step of securing it using WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) 
or WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy; preferably 128-bit) 
encryption. Otherwise, your shared folders and drives 
will be open to anyone within range of the network. II 

by Mark Scapicchio 

Smart Computing / July 2006 27 



Add A Network Component 
In Windows 98 

Networking a Windows 98 system isn't as simple as 
just installing hardware and loading drivers. You 
often need to load additional components to make sure 
the PC will be able to communicate with other systems. 
There are four basic types of network components avail- 
able in Win98: adapters, protocols, clients, and services. 
Adapters are the drivers that allow a piece of network hard- 
ware (such as a network card or external adapter) to work 
with a computer, while the protocol gives your PC the 
ability to communicate with others systems on the net- 
work (or on other networks, such as the Internet). 

Windows 98 includes 
lots of built-in 
network drivers, but 
unless your network 
card is as old as the 
operating system, 
you'll probably need 
the disk that came 
with your hardware. 


'.'::■■ :: :: . :: • ::•:.:,. : • . :. : : : : •. .' ■'. 

ifacturers; Network Adapters: 

lay Pure Data _^J 

XT i .r 1 

SSRealtek RTL8029(AS) PCI Ethernet NIC 
ISRealtek RTL8129 PCI Fast Ethernet 

Have Disk... | 

OK Cancel | 

A Win98 system must have an adapter and protocol 
installed in order to be networked. But two other com- 
ponent types — clients and services — enable a system to 
access certain types of networks or specific services on 
those networks. For example, the Client For Microsoft 
Networks can be used to make system part of a 
Windows server-based network or to join it to a peer- 
to-peer network of other Windows systems. The job of a 
network service such as File And Printer Sharing For 
Microsoft Networks, on the other hand, is to make a 
system's data and printers available to other systems on 
the network. 

In Win98 you can add, modify, and remove network 
components by using the Control Panel's Network icon. 
To access it, click Start, Settings, and Control Panel and 
then double-click the Network icon. Note that most net- 
work configuration changes in Win98 require the OS to 
load files from the original CD, so be sure to have it 
handy. You'll also have to reboot the system before the 
new settings will take effect. 

Network Adapters & Protocols 

When you double-click the Win98 Network icon, it 
opens to a Configuration tab that displays a list of installed 
network components. To add a network adapter, click the 
Add button, choose Adapter, and click Add. Win98 al- 
ready includes built-in drivers for hundreds of network 
cards from dozens of vendors, so you'll be presented with 
a fairly long list of adapters to choose from. Then again, 
unless your network card was around back when Win98 
came out, you won't find it on the list. In this case, you'll 
have to click the Have Disk button and then insert the CD 
or floppy diskette that contains your network adapter's 
drivers. (Depending on the age and configuration of your 
system, Win98 may detect the presence of any new net- 
work hardware and prompt you to provide the drivers.) 

The next step after adding the network adapter is to 
load and configure a network protocol. Win98 includes a 
bunch of those, as well, and most of them are relics 
of once popular, but proprietary, networks. The only 
protocol that really matters these days is TCP/IP 
(Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol; the 
one that gets you onto the Internet), and in most cases, 
there is no need to set it up manually, as Win98 automat- 
ically does it for you. If this isn't the case, click Add, select 
Protocols, and select Microsoft as the manufacturer. 

When TCP/IP is installed, you'll see an entry for it that 
references your network card in the component list, and 
by default, TCP/IP is configured to get an IP (Internet 
Protocol) address from a DHCP (Dynamic Host Config- 
uration Protocol) server (for example, your cable 
modem, DSL [Digital Subscriber Line] device, or router) 
that is appropriate for most home network situations. If 
all you need to do is get a system on the Internet, once 
you've got the adapter and protocol set up, click OK to be 
prompted for the system files and to reboot the system. 

Network Clients & Services 

Like the majority of network adapter drivers and pro- 
tocols that come with Win98, most of the OS' network 
Client and Service options are vestigial and thus not of 
any interest to the average user. Two notable exceptions 

28 July 2006 / 

are those mentioned earlier, the Client For Microsoft 
Networks and File And Printer Sharing For Microsoft 
Networks. The former is typically used by businesses 
that want to allow Win98 computers to log in to a 
Windows server, but it's also necessary if you want to 
network several Windows systems together without a 
server, which is a common home networking scenario. 

If the Client For Microsoft Networks isn't already in- 
stalled on your system (it's often installed by default 
when you add a network adapter), you can do so manu- 
ally by clicking Add and Client and selecting Microsoft as 
the manufacturer. Although you don't need to configure 
this client any further for networks that don't use a 
server, you do need to click the Identification tab and 
make sure the Workgroup field matches on all the sys- 
tems that are to be part of the network. 

When you install the Client For Microsoft Networks 
on a system and make it part of a Workgroup, that com- 
puter can then access resources from other systems via 
the network, but not vice versa. If you want to share the 
resources of a given system with other networked com- 
puters, you also need to install the File And Printer 
Sharing For Microsoft Networks. 

The easiest way to do this is to click the File And Print 
Sharing button on the Configuration tab. After you click 

Configuration | Identification | Access Control | 


• :. 

■■■■ : 

Intel 21 1 40 based 1 0/1 00 mpbs Ethernet Controller 

: ' i<; ■• :in : 

.... ;....,. . .. 

this, place a check mark 
next to one or both op- 
tions: I Want To Be Able 
To Give Others Access To 
My Files and I Want To 
Be Able To Give Others 
Access To My Printer(s). 
Click OK twice. 

Because Win98 File 
And Print Sharing can 
make your PC's data ac- 
cessible over the Internet, 
it's best to enable it only 
when your system does 
not contain any personal 
or confidential informa- 
tion. Win98 has limited 
security features, and as 

an older OS, it doesn't always get security upgrade 
patches when new vulnerabilities are discovered. 
Furthermore, Microsoft has plans to cease official sup- 
port for Win98 (as well as Win98SE and Windows Me), 
including security patches and updates, as of July 2006. II 

by Joseph Moran 


The Windows 98 Network Component 
list should contain entries for an 
adapter and protocol and sometimes 
a network client and service, as well. 

Remove A Windows 98 Network Component 

Depending on how your system 
was configured and used in the 
past, you may have a number of net- 
work components installed that 
aren't in use. 

Getting rid of any unnecessary 
components benefits you in two 
ways. It simplifies the troubleshoot- 
ing process in the event of any net- 
work problems, and it may also 
improve the performance and sta- 
bility of your system as well. Here, 
we'll highlight a few Windows 98 
network components you may be 
able to do without. 

Removing a Win98 network com- 
ponent is easy— just highlight an item 
in the list and then click Remove. 
(Have your Win98 CD or a folder with 
the system files handy.) It's important 
to look before you click, and if you're 
not absolutely sure that you can do 
without a particular component, 

leave it alone— or at the very least, jot 
down its name, so you can restore it 
in case of a problem. It's also a good 
idea to click the Properties button for 
the item and record its configuration 
settings, as well. 

A component that's often a good 
candidate for removal is the Dial-Up 
Adapter. The Dial-Up Adapter— 
which can be found on most Win98 
systems because it's usually installed 
by default— lets you access the 
Internet using a modem. If you don't 
use dial-up Internet access and in- 
stead have a broadband connection, 
you can safely send the Dial-Up 
Adapter packing. A fringe benefit of 
removing the Dial-Up Adapter is 
that doing so protects against dialer 
malware that calls long distance 
numbers behind your back and racks 
up your phone bill. (You can also 
prevent this by simply unplugging 

your unused modem from the 
phone line.) 

In order to connect a Win98 sys- 
tem to the Internet, you only need 
two components— the adapter and 
the TCP/IP (Transmission Control 
Protocol/Internet Protocol). If you 
want to share your system's data and 
peripherals on a network, File And 
Printer Sharing For Microsoft Net- 
works can often loaded be on stand- 
alone computers or those that just 
connect to the Internet. 

If you don't absolutely need it, re- 
moving File And Printer Sharing is 
actually preferable, as it can compro- 
mise system security. Similarly, if 
your system isn't accessing data from 
other networked PCs, you can dis- 
card the Client For Microsoft Net- 
works, because its main purpose is to 
provide that access to resources on 
other systems. I 

Smart Computing / July 2006 29 


Remove WinXP's 
Common Tasks Bar 

The Common Tasks Bar in Windows XP can be very 
useful. Similar to an Explorer Bar (showing 
History or Favorites along the left of your screen), the 
Common Tasks Bar provides quick links in three cate- 
gories: File And Folder Tasks, Other Places, and Details. 
These links, in one quick click, help you make a new 
folder; jump back to My Computer and My Docu- 
ments; or view information about the currently selected 
drive, folder, or file. Sometimes, though, even the most 
useful tools get in the way. If you want to remove the 
Common Tasks Bar from your Windows Explorer 
views, or if it suddenly appears on your Desktop and 
won't go away, read on for guidance. 

The basic and most familiar version of the Common 
Tasks Bar appears on the left side of most Windows 
folder views. Open My Computer or My Documents, and 
you'll have all the options laid out on the left by default. 
Some people prefer to reclaim that screen space and 
handle their common tasks from the menu bar or right- 
click context menu. If you're among them, just select 
Tools and Folder Options from any Windows Explorer 
view. Under the General tab, select the Use Windows 

Classic Folders radio but- 
ton (instead of the default 
Show Common Tasks In 
Folders) and click OK. If 
you lose your Common 
Tasks bar and want it 
back, return here to fix 
the setting. To make the 
new setting universal, 
make your selection, click 
Apply, navigate to the 
View tab, select the Apply 
To All Folders button, 
and click OK. 

There's another, much 
more annoying, version 
of the Common Tasks 
Toolbar. This one pops 
up on the left side of your 
Windows Desktop, taking up lots of space and refusing 
to go away. It can appear after downloading and 

Folder Options 


General View File Types Offline Files 

' ■ ' ; .. 

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, . ■■■■' ■ ■''... " ■■ r:,.\ 

\ ■/:'. :..:> .*. '-;., : ' 



Turn the Common Tasks Bar off and on 
when browsing files and directories 
from the Folder Options menu. 




ini : - ■ ■ 

ource, and Win v 


• pel ;: re • 


regsvr32 /i 





■ .'■'•". 

J [ Browse... J 

Run this quick script to return settings 
to their default state and remove the 
Common Tasks Bar from the Desktop. 

installing various Windows themes, after changing dis- 
play settings, or on its own as part of a Windows Registry 
bug that just pops up from time to time. Try the easiest 
fix first. Open the Start menu and select Run. Type 
regsvr32 /i shell32 in the text box and click OK. You'll 
receive a dialog box confirming the operation's success, 
your system will revert to 
its default display and set- 
tings, and you should be 
rid of the Common Tasks 
nuisance on the Desktop. 

If that method does 
not work, you'll need 
to download a Registry 
tweak that modifies the 
relevant key. Visit www 

/xp_tweaks.htm and download the Remove Common 
Tasks From Desktop tool. The Kelly's Korner file (row 
15 in the long list) is a Registry file. Save it to your 
Desktop or another easy-to-fmd location, run the file, 
and choose Run from the dialog box. Click Yes to con- 
firm the Registry edit. A similar utility at www.doug 
downloads a ZIP archive that unpacks to an executable 
file you can run to check and correct the errant Registry 
entry. Again, choose Run 
after opening the exe- 
cutable and click Repair 
after the utility confirms 
that change's necessity. 
(Before installing either 
of these tweaks, it's a 
good idea to create a re- 
store point.) 

Whether you're seek- 
ing to tweak your folder 

views or get your Desktop back the way you like it, an 
unwanted Common Tasks Bar isn't the worst com- 
puting problem you'll face. But there's no reason to put 
up with it when solutions are so easily accessible. II 

by Gregory Anderson 

*% Remove Common Tasks from Desktop 

If simpler methods fail, download this 
utility from Doug Knox to fix the 
Desktop Common Tasks Bar entry in 
the Windows Registry. 

30 July 2006 / 





Find Solutions Today! 

Let's face it — there's nothing more frustrating than 
a computing problem. Wait, there is something 
more frustrating — not knowing where to go to find 
answers! The next time your printer won't print, or 
you get those pesky red X's every time you try to view 
pictures of your granddaughter's dance recital, search 
the Tech Support Center at 
Simply click any one of the Top Subject links next to 
the search box or enter a keyword or two of your 
own. You'll find answers from our Solutions 
Knowledgebase and Basic Troubleshooting articles, as 
well as additional results from our editorial archive. 

You can also find answers by browsing the Common 
Problems and Frequently Asked Questions areas that 
provide helpful translations and easy-to-under- 
stand solutions to numerous computing problems. 

Simply log on to and find 
the answers you're looking for today! 

Go to and click the 
Tech Support Center link. 

In the Enter A Subject To Search By field, enter 
your subject of choice and click Search. 

Browse articles from various sections, including 
Solutions Knowledgebase, the Q&A Archive, and 
much, much more! 

If you can't find an answer to your question, try 
posting your question on our reader-response 
Q&A Board. (Keep in mind that this feature is 
available only to paid subscribers.) 

Be sure to store all of your helpful articles and in- 
formation in your Personal Library for future refer- 
ence. Simply log in, and when you find an article you 
would like to keep, click the Add To My Personal 
Library link at the top of the page. Create as many 
folders as you like to keep your information orga- 
nized and accessible. 


More Search Results ► 

■■■■..' "■• ft': V'. ^ . . 

'Qoting - Other 

- Windows XP 

More Search Results ► 

More Sear cli Results ► The ultimate computing resource. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 31 

This Month In 
General Computing 

Setting Up A 
Security Fortress 
For Your New PC 

Tips To Successfully 

Install (& Uninstall) 


Contributing Writers 

Christian Perry 

Next Month 

How Do You Know 

Whether Someone Is 

Spying On You? 

Initiate A 



Don't Let Vermin 
Victimize Your New PC 

To the owner, a new computer repre- 
sents a whole new world of opportunity 
wherein fast speeds and boatloads of 
storage equate to more productivity, enhanced 
fun, and increased communications. But that 
same PC is similarly alluring to crackers, who 
can make instant mincemeat out of computers 
that go straight from the box to the home office 
to the Internet, with no security-minded stops 
along the way. 

The landscape of computer threats is so 
wide and varied that securing a new PC de- 
mands a specific chain of user-led events to 
effectively avoid problems. High-speed In- 
ternet connections give crackers the ability to 
quickly scan networks for unsecured PCs and 
easily exploit any they find, so it's crucial to 
prevent intrusions even while building your 
initial security architecture. 

Three Tiers Of Protection 

To build that architecture, it's best to look at 
security from a three-tiered perspective. The 
primary tier should include high-priority 
Windows updates, antivirus software, and fire- 
wall software to protect against Windows ex- 
ploits, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other 
Internet-based intrusions. These updates and 
software form your security core and work to 
repel most known dangerous attacks. 

The secondary tier should include antispy- 
ware applications and specialized Trojan scan- 
ners to guard against spyware, adware, dialers, 
and Trojan horses that might sneak by your 
antivirus software. 

The tertiary tier can include secure password 
programs, pop-up blockers, file-encryption 

software, file erasers, and any other programs 
that supply supplemental security for your PC. 
For the new PC owner, the immediate focus 
should center on the primary tier because the 
existence of that tier will remove immediate 
worries about serious threats and let you move 
on to other security areas. This means that di- 
rectly out of the box, your PCs needs firewall 
protection, followed by high-priority Windows 
updates and antivirus protection — all before 
you even think of emailing your friends or 
surfing your favorite Web sites. 

The Crucial Tier 

Before delving into security updates and soft- 
ware installations, it's a good idea to set a system 
restore point in case you encounter any prob- 
lems along the way. From the Start menu, click 
Help And Support, click Undo Changes To 
Your Computer With System Restore, select 
Create A Restore Point, click Next, and follow 
the instructions to create the restore point. 

Also, make sure the Administrator password 
you created when setting up your new PC 
is strong. If you need tips on creating strong 
passwords, see "Build A Better Password" at 
To change your Administrator password or 
passwords for other user accounts, enter the 
Control Panel from the Start menu, click User 
Accounts, click the account in question, and 
click Change My Password. 

Before going online, you must enable the 
bundled firewall, although it might already be 
enabled if your Windows XP installation in- 
cludes SP2 (Service Pack 2). If you don't have 
SP2, you'll see an option for enabling Internet 

32 July 2006 / 



Connection Firewall when config- 
uring your Internet connection. (For 
more information, see www.micro 
working/learnmore/icf.mspx. ) 

Some new PCs include third-party 
firewalls that might already be in- 
stalled and running when users start 
their systems. If you're familiar with 
firewall software and can recognize 
that it's enabled and properly con- 
figured, leave Windows' firewall as 
inactive; otherwise, go ahead and en- 
able Windows' firewall. Also, if your 
router or broadband modem includes 
a hardware-based firewall, you'll still 
need Windows' firewall or another 
software-based firewall, but we'll 
touch more on that later. 

Even if you go directly to Micro- 
soft's Windows Update site when 
you first go online, it's still wise to 
have some kind of antivirus software 
running before you log on to your 
Internet connection. If your new 
PC includes antivirus software, use 
that; if not, and you have access to 
the Internet via another computer, 

■■'■■: .. ar,n > .-:■.■ .-.'• 

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Vou can us> changes to 
your compi i 3r Formance . 
System Re< earlier time 
(called a res ) lose recent 
■.-.■■:■. 1 . such as s-i -rd &s.'jn*r/.-:. ^--i.. ail. cr histui . arid 

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Svstem Restore Settinos 

To continue, se then click Next, 

To begin, select the task that you want to perform: 

Q Restore • , .- 

■'.;':■.»: . ■ ■ ■ 

( Next > ) ( Cancel ) 

A restore point you set earlier can save you from problems 
that may arise during security installations (or even from 
security-related infections themselves). 

download a free antivirus program 
(see "Security On Sale" on page 52), 
burn it to a CD, and install it on 
your new PC. If your new compu- 
ter didn't include antivirus software 
and you don't have access to the 
Web through another PC, be sure to 

download and install an antivirus 
program immediately after installing 
the Windows updates. 

With your firewall and antivirus 
applications ready 
to go, it is time 
to visit Windows 
Update to down- 
load and install 
high-priority up- 
dates. Most new 
PCs shipped today 
include WinXP 
with SP2, a com- 
prehensive service 
pack of updates 
that patch many 
of WinXP's dan- 
gerous holes — but 
not all of them, 
so you'll still need 
to download and 
install Microsoft's 
latest high-prior- 
ity updates. If your PC doesn't have 
SP2, you'll need to download and in- 
stall SP2 before downloading any up- 
dates released after it, but Windows 
Update will determine 
what's necessary. 

Click Start, click Help 
And Support, and click 
Keep Your Computer 
Up-To-Date With Win- 
dows Update under the 
Pick A Task heading. 
(If you're using a third- 
party firewall, you'll 
likely need to instruct 
the utility to let Win- 
dows Update access the 
Internet.) Under the 
Keep Your Computer 
Up-To-Date heading, 
click Express to down- 
load high-priority up- 
dates, and then follow 
the prompts for installing them. If 
you still need to download SP2, you 
might need to return to Windows 
Update after installing SP2 in order 
to download additional updates; 
the utility will walk you through any 
necessary steps. 

: ■ ■■." :■,•::■' . ' ' ■ : ■■■:'.' 

'..:■■ . ■ . ; : ■:/:'.,■..: ' ;!,! ::\ / ■ . ': V 

.. ■'■" ' . ' . . ' ' . ' : ' ... : 


Before going online, it's critical that 
you enable the Windows Firewall or a 
third-party firewall to prevent crackers 
from exploiting unsecured ports. 

After you've installed all high- 
priority Windows updates, you 
should update your antivirus software 
and your firewall app (that is, if 
you're using a 
third-party fire- 
wall). If you're 
using Windows 
Firewall (previ- 
ously known as 
ICF or Internet 
Connection Fire- 
wall), now is the 
time to download 
and install a third- 
party option (see 
"Security On Sale" 
on page 52) be- 
cause even though 
Windows Firewall 
does an admirable 
job of stopping 
incoming attacks, 
it does little to 
thwart suspicious outgoing connec- 
tions, such as those initiated by 
worms and Trojan horses. 

Third-party firewalls monitor both 
incoming and outgoing connections, 
providing comprehensive network 
protection that you can trust. After in- 
stalling and updating your new fire- 
wall, be sure to disable Windows 
Firewall in the Security Center (via the 
Control Panel). Windows can recog- 
nize most third-party firewalls, but if 
Windows warns you that a firewall 
isn't installed (even though it is), you 
can instruct Windows not to monitor 
your firewall, thereby eliminating the 
constant warnings. To do so, look back 
at the Windows Security Center dialog 
box, click Recommendations under 
Firewall, select I Have A Firewall That 
I'll Monitor Myself, and click OK. 

The Windows Security Center di- 
alog box also includes options for 
monitoring virus protection and au- 
tomatic updates. The Automatic 
Updates setting should always be on, 
but you can choose whether to have 
Windows automatically download 
and install them, download them but 
let you choose when to install them, 

Smart Computing / July 2006 33 



or simply notify you when 
they're available. 

Stop The Spies 

Now that your Windows up- 
dates, firewall, and antivirus 
software are good to go, you 
can breathe easily — but only for 
a moment. Before you begin 
surfing or performing any other 
online activity, you must pro- 
tect yourself against other mal- 
ware, including spyware, which 
can infest your computer with- 
in minutes, and additional 
threats that might slip by your 
antivirus software. 

Several popular security 
suites now include antispyware 
utilities, so if you're using a 
suite that came installed on 
your PC, be sure to keep the an- 
tispyware portion updated and 
use its scanner frequently. 
Unlike antivirus and firewall ap- 
plications, which can encounter 
conflicts when more than one 
application of the same category 
is in use simultaneously, the use 
of multiple antispyware utilities 
is actually a good idea. Although some 
antispyware utilities do a better job of 
catching spyware than others, no one 
utility is guaranteed to catch all pos- 
sible threats at any given time. 

There are several effective freeware 
scanners you can download and in- 
stall (see "Security On Sale" on page 
52), but keep in mind that these scan- 
ners won't do much to prevent spy- 
ware infections; instead, they'll 
remove spyware after it's already on 
your PC. To prevent spyware infec- 
tion, consider using a utility such as 
Javacool Software's SpywareBlaster 
( to block 
threats before they have a chance to 
install themselves on your PC. 

In addition to antispyware applica- 
tions, you also should have a special- 
ized Trojan scanner that can detect 
and remove malware that antivirus 
utilities may not always catch. You 

High-priority Windows updates are important for securing your 
environment because they'll patch massive holes that crackers 
use to easily breach unprotected PCs. 

l a»i.L-..^.- J ^i L n J ^ — fin PI 



| | Internet Explorer | | 

Restricted Sites | | Mozilla/Firefox | 

SpywareBlaster Protection 

An overview of SpywareBlaster's protection st 

.gj Internet Explorer protection is enabled. 

Restricted Sites protection is enabled. 

4f|t Mozilla.'Firefox protection is enabled. 

SpywareBlaster database loaded: 1/1/2006 


Quick Tasks 

Shortcuts to the most frequently used SpywareBlaster functions. 

Enable All Protection 

Although you can use antispyware to remove spyware, 
there's also software — such as SpywareBlaster — that 
prevents spyware from installing in the first place. 

won't find much freeware in this de- 
partment, but the free version of 
Ewido Anti- Malware ( 
does a nice job of removing Trojans, 
keyloggers, worms, dialers, and even 
some spyware and hijackers. 

Tie Up Loose Ends 

At this point, your new PC should 
have the ability to repel even the nastiest 
of attacks because you're protecting all 
of the most common vulnerabilities. 
However, there are still a few security 
checkpoints that, when addressed, can 
further help protect your PC, ensure 
your privacy, and shield you from 
potentially dangerous annoyances. 

Pop-up blockers, such as those 
included with the Google and Yahoo! 
toolbars or Firefox and Opera Web 
browsers, can eliminate annoying ads 
and prevent you from accidentally 

clicking a risky link. Also use- 
ful is a password program such 
as Password Safe (free; pass, 
which keeps all of your pass- 
words in an encrypted database 
that you can access using a 
single key. On a similar note, 
file-encryption software such as 
AxCrypt (free; axcrypt.axan can help keep your 
sensitive files away from unau- 
thorized eyes. 

Secure file deletion also is 
important for your new PC 
because when you move files 
to the Recycle Bin and empty 
it, those files can remain 
on your hard drive and be re- 
covered using freely available 
recovery software. That's why 
you should consider a program 
such as Eraser (free; www, which uses 
proven algorithms to overwrite 
your files in order to prevent 
anyone from recovering them; 
plus, it can overwrite previously 
deleted data that's lurking on 
your hard drive. 

Full Steam Ahead 

Although the temptation will be 
strong to immediately use your new PC 
for surfing, emailing, and other tasks, 
you can avoid malware infections that 
can easily spoil your fun by taking di- 
rect action to secure your PC the mo- 
ment you remove it from its box. 

When configuring this initial security, 
don't let distractions sway you from the 
task at hand. Other software that might 
be included with your new PC could re- 
quire you to register online, but save 
those duties and other chores until your 
security environment is completely in 
place. That's also the time when you can 
begin experimenting with different fire- 
walls, antivirus programs, and other se- 
curity utilities to find the programs that 
best suit your needs. II 

by Christian Perry 

34 July 2006 / 


Scanner Installations 

Basic Steps To Ensure Smooth Results 

On paper, the process of in- 
stalling a scanner couldn't be 
easier. Plug in a power cord, 
connect a USB cable, and install the 
software — that's it. But in practice, this 
seemingly simple process can become 
mired in unexpected difficulties, as ev- 
idenced by the volume of scanner- 
related questions received by the Smart 
Computing Tech Support Center. 

You could avoid many of these diffi- 
culties by following detailed instruc- 
tions contained in a scanner's setup 
guide, but unfortunately, setup guides 
tend to be a little light on detailed in- 
structions these days. That's where we 
come in. We installed an HP Scanjet 
4890, a popular photo scanner cur- 
rently on the market. Hopefully, our 
experience will help you successfully 
navigate your own scanner installation. 
(NOTE: Although installation par- 
ticulars vary slightly from one scan- 
ner to the next, the general process 
remains the same. Of course, you 

always should defer to the setup guide 
when questions arise.) 

Step 1 : Prepare For Installation 

Installing hardware components has 
become an effortless endeavor. You 
just plug in the hardware and Windows 
does the rest, right? Well, not always. 
That's why you should consider the 
following preliminary measures. 

First, back up all important files. 
With a full backup in hand — or on 
disc — you then should uninstall all 
unnecessary software and hardware, 
including any superfluous imaging 
components that may conflict with 
the new scanner. Open the Control 
Panel, select Add Or Remove Pro- 
grams (in Windows XP) or Add/ 
Remove Programs (in Windows 98/ 
Me), and browse the list of installed 
programs for titles you no longer use. 
Follow the on-screen instructions to 
remove each one. Reboot the system 
between uninstalls. (You may wish to 

reinstall these programs later, so 
make sure you have the original discs 
on hand.) 

Second, resolve any error messages 
you receive on a regular basis. Such 
errors, including those that have lit- 
tle apparent impact on system per- 
formance, can flare up and cause 
real trouble when you try to install 
a scanner. 

We also encourage you to obtain all 
available Windows updates, as well as 
install updates for other imaging- 
related hardware you own, such as a 
digital camera or color printer. 

Step 2: Close Open Applications 

By consuming necessary system re- 
sources and running potentially con- 
flicting operations, an open program 
can interfere with the installation of a 
scanner and its associated software. For 
this reason, you should close all open 
programs and disable all security utili- 
ties — including your antivirus utility — 
before continuing with the installation. 

Don't close or disable your Internet 
connection because the scanner setup 
utility will most likely perform a 
search for product updates (see Step 
5). You need to download and install 
whatever updates are available for 
your scanner at that time. 

Step 3: Unpack The Scanner 

Remove the scanner from the box 
and set it on a flat surface. Carefully re- 
move its product packaging. Verify that 
you received all necessary cables, discs, 
documents, and accessories for your 
scanner. Locate the setup guide and 
read it completely before proceeding. 

You may need to partially assemble 
the scanner at this time. In the case of 
the Scanjet 4890, we had to plug in a 
cable that linked the scanner lid to the 
scanner bed. Follow the instructions 
that the setup guide provides for de- 
tailed information about assembling 
your particular scanner. 

This also is a good time to clean the 
scanning surface. Dampen a lint-free 
cloth with glass cleaner and wipe the 
scanning surface in broad strokes. Use 

Smart Computing / July 2006 35 


Scanner Installations 

Auto -Protect 

How to stay protected 

I I 

17 Start i.uto-Protect vvhen ■'■indoivs starts up ;rs 
r Shotvthe Auto-Protect icon in the Ira.. 


Rejisirtlie infected file :recommended: 
,( ~ Try to repair then quarantine if unsuccessful 
r Den., access to the infected file 

-utomaticall.. remove items left behind b.. .inn 

Which file types to scan forviruse 
Ccmrjrehensi.efile scanning 
C Scan files usinc; SmartScsn 
T Scan within compressed files 

~|| : ' • : 

It's important that you disable any security 
utilities, such as Norton Antivirus, before 
installing your scanning software. 

Leave your Internet connection up and running 
during the scanner setup so that you can down- 
load the latest updates for your particular device. 

glass cleaner only, though, and do not 
spray the glass cleaner directly on the 
scanning surface. 

Step 4: Connect The Power Supply 

Locate the scanner's power supply, 
which is either one cable with a built- 
in power adapter or two separate 
cables — one serving as a regular pow- 
er cable, and one serving as an AC 
adapter cable — that connect together. 

Next, set the scanner's power switch 
to off and then connect one end of the 
power supply to the scanner. Plug the 
other end of the power supply into a 
grounded outlet or surge protector. 
Turn the scanner's power switch on. 
You should hear a humming noise as 
the scanner powers up. 

Step 5: Install The Software 

Don't connect the scanner's USB 
cable at this time because you must 
install the scanning software first. 

Insert the installation disc into the 
computer and wait for the setup 
utility to appear on-screen. When it 
does, follow the on-screen instruc- 
tions to launch the scanning soft- 
ware's installation. If you are given 
the option of installing various pro- 
grams, choose to install the scanning 
software and hardware driver (if 
treated as a separate program) first. 
You can install auxiliary applications, 
such as Adobe Reader, at a later time. 

Proceed step-by-step through the in- 
stallation, reading the instructions care- 
fully and following them completely. 
During the installation of the Scanjet 
4890, we were prompted to check for 
product updates, review and accept the 
EULA (End-User License Agreement), 
indicate whether we wanted to run the 
scanner in energy-saving mode, and 
specify where we wanted to install the 
software. Follow the on-screen prompts 
to proceed through the installation's 
various stages. 

Step 6: Connect The USB Cables 

At some point during the software 
installation, the setup utility will 
launch a hardware installation wizard. 
This wizard will walk you through 
the process of connecting the scanner 
hardware to the PC. The process gen- 
erally involves connecting one end of 
the USB cable to the scanner and then 
connecting the other end of the USB 
cable to the PC's USB port. Each end 
of the cable has a unique jack so there's 
no chance of confusing which end goes 
where. If the scanner supports the USB 
2.0 specification, make sure you con- 
nect the cable to a USB port that also 
supports the high-speed specification. 

As soon as you plug the USB cable 
into the PC, the computer should de- 
tect it and a "Found New Hardware" 
message may appear on-screen. Dis- 
regard this message and follow the in- 
structions provided by the scanner's 
setup utility to complete the process. 
As you did with the software installa- 
tion, follow the instructions for the 
hardware installation exactly as they 
are presented. 

You may be given the option of 
skipping the hardware installation at 
this point — which might be handy if 
you're installing the scanning software 
on a laptop PC and are away from your 
office, for instance — but we don't rec- 
ommend skipping it. For best results, 
perform the installation when you can 
complete the software and hardware 
installations at the same time. 

Step 7: Finish The Installation 

It may take 15 minutes or more 
for the setup utility to install all of 
the necessary components and finish 
the installation. 

At this point, you may be prompted 
to register the scanner. You should do 
so in order to obtain product updates 
and receive full warranty protection. 
You also may be prompted to install 

After the setup utility finishes installing the 
scanning software, it may present a message 
indicating that the installation was successful. 
All you have to do now is reboot your PC and 
confirm that the scanner works. 


MUh dopHokS w»n«r IS fmarm tr\ t. 

Scanners tend to carry a lot of software 
baggage. HP's Scanjet 4890, for instance, 
installed five programs on our test system. 
When uninstalling a scanner, make sure you 
remove all of its associated programs. 

36 July 2006 / 


Scanner Installations 

more software or sign up for addi- 
tional services. We recommend skip- 
ping these options for now. Close the 
setup utility, remove the installation 
disc from the optical drive, and reboot 
your PC to verify that everything is 
working as it should. 

When Windows starts up again, ex- 
ecute a sample scan. Review the re- 
sults to verify that the scanner is 
working properly. 

Troubleshooting Tips 

Users who encounter problems 
during the scanner installation should 
attempt several routine trouble- 
shooting maneuvers before contact- 
ing the manufacturer for assistance. 
Start by verifying that the scanner's 
various cable connections are snug 
and secure. If the problem persists, 
disconnect the USB cable from both 
the scanner and the PC, turn the 
scanner off, and then turn the com- 
puter off. Let the equipment cool 
down for a minute or two. Then, turn 
the computer on, turn the scanner on, 
and reconnect the USB cable to the 
scanner. Reconnect the other end of 
the USB cable to a different USB port 
on the PC. 

As a last resort, you should unin- 
stall the scanner and its software so 
that you can try installing it again. 
To do this, remember to first close 
all open programs and disable all 
security utilities. Next, disconnect 
the scanner's USB cable from the 
computer. Access Add Or Remove 
Programs (WinXP) or Add/Remove 
Programs (Win98/Me) and uninstall 
all of the applications associated with 
the scanner. 

Shut down the PC after unin- 
stalling the software and let it rest for 
a minute or two as you verify that 
your PC meets the scanner's min- 
imum system requirements. If it does, 
you should reinstall the scanner by 
following all of the instructions out- 
lined in the scanner's setup guide. II 

by Jeff Dodd 

HP Scanners That Won't Go Away 

Of all the scanner- 
related questions 
we receive, one of the 
most common involves 
HP scanners. This partic- 
ular type of problem oc- 
curs when the HP uninstall 
utility fails to remove all of 
the code associated with 
the unwanted scanner. 
Unfortunately, the 
problem doesn't mani- 
fest itself until the user 
tries to install another 
scanner and the new scan- 
ner's setup utility conflicts 
with the old code, re- 
sulting in an error mes- 
sage. Needless to say, the 
installation is foiled. 

You can resolve the 
error by cleaning up the 
bits of code left behind. 
The easiest method is to 
reinstall the old HP 
scanner software and, after 
rebooting, uninstall it 
using Add Or Remove 
Programs in Windows XP 
or Add/ Remove Programs 
in Windows 98/Me. Make 
sure you close all pro- 
grams and disable all secu- 
rity utilities before per- 
forming the reinstall and 
the uninstall. 

If that doesn't work or 
you no longer own the HP 
scanner, you'll have to re- 
move the old code manu- 
ally. Start by opening My 
Computer, accessing the 
Tools menu (in WinMe/ 
XP) or the View menu (in 
Win98), and selecting 
Folder Options. On the 
View tab, select Show 
Hidden Files And Folders 
Files (Win98). Click OK. 

Next, access the PRO- 

FILES/HP folder on the 
drive where Windows is in- 
stalled. Peruse its contents 
for an HP Instant Support 
Dl or Memories Disc 
folder. If you find either 
one, eliminate it by right- 
clicking it and selecting 
Delete from the pop-up 
menu. While you're at it, 
look for a Digital Imaging 
folder. If you find one, 
open it and delete any sub- 
folder that refers to the 
name of the old scanner 
(such as Scanjet 3570 or 
Scanjet 4070c). 

When these folders 
are gone, locate the WIN- 
DO WS\TW A I N_3 2 folder 
on the Windows drive. 
Right-click it and 
select Rename. Type 
Twain_32old and press 
ENTER. Now you can 
close My Computer. 

The next step involves 
editing the Registry, so you 
better create a backup of 
it first because making just 
one mistake could prevent 
your PC from booting 
properly. To back up the 
Registry in WinXP, use the 
Backup utility. WinXP Pro 
users have the utility in- 
stalled by default, but 
WinXP Home users will 
need to visit Microsoft's 
Help And Support site (at 
/defaul t.aspx?scid= kb 
;en-us;302894) for installa- 
tion instructions. Once the 
utility is installed, open 
Backup (from the Start 
menu, click All Programs, 
Accessories, and System 
Tools), select Advanced 
Mode, click the Backup 
Wizard (Advanced) but- 
ton, and follow the on- 
screen instructions to 

back up system state data. 
Take note of what you 
named the backup file and 
where you saved it. 

Win98/Me users should 
back up the Registry by 
opening the Start menu, 
selecting Run, typing 
scanregw in the field, and 
clicking OK. When the 
Windows Registry Checker 
displays, click Yes and wait 
for the process to finish. 
The backup file is stored 
as RBO*.cab (where * re- 
presents a number be- 
tween 00 and 05 in most 
cases) in the WINDOWS\ 
SYSBCKUP folder on 
the drive where Windows 
is installed. 

Now you can launch 
the Registry Editor. Open 
the Start menu, select Run, 
type regedit in the field, 
and click OK. In the 
Registry Editor window, 
open the HKEY_LOCAL_ 
key. Peruse the list of sub- 
keys for any that refer to 
Memories Disc or the 
particular name of the 
troublesome scanner. 
Delete these subkeys by 
right-clicking each one 
and selecting Delete from 
the pop-up menu. If you 
see a generic Scanjet 
subkey, open it and delete 
any of its subkeys that 
refer to your particular 
HP scanner. Close the 
Registry Editor when 
you finish. 

Finally, reboot your 
computer and try rein- 
stalling the new scanner. 
Hopefully, the installation 
will go off without a hitch 
this time. I 

Smart Computing / July 2006 37 

This Month In 
Plugged In 

Online Tips 
For Summertime Fun 

Take On 
The Digital Universe 

Contributing Writers 

Mr. Modem 

Carmen Carmack 

Marti LaChance 

Joshua Gulick 

Next Month 

The Fine Print Behind 
Online Music Services 

Configure Your Router 

Get Your Network Online 

The central figure in a SOHO (small office 
or home office) network is the router. 
This small, innocent-looking box is what 
keeps everything connected and running 
smoothly. If you have tried to set up a router, or 
are interested in doing so, you might notice that 
the instructions aren't always clear. What's more, 
there's an alphabet soup of acronyms and terms 
to decipher. To help you make sense of it all, 
here's a closer look at routers and how to con- 
figure them. 

Understand Router Basics 

A router is a device that handles communica- 
tion between two networks. In most SOHO envi- 
ronments, a router sits between a LAN (local- 
area network) and an ISP (Internet service 
provider). An ISP's network is a type of WAN 
(wide- area network). 
Today, most rout- 
ers are combination 
devices that handle 
multiple tasks. For ex- 
ample, routers com- 
monly include a LAN 
switch and a wireless 
AP (access point). A 
LAN switch lets you 
connect computers 
to the router using 
an Ethernet cable. A 

wireless AP is a connection base for 802.11 wire- 
less devices. Routers can also include built-in 
cable or DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) modems, 
print servers, and telephone connections. 

Routers are most often used to share an 
Internet connection. Because most routers 
handle LAN switching, they also facilitate net- 
working so that your connected computers can 
share printers and folders. Routers can provide 
additional features such as parental controls, se- 
cure remote access through VPN (Virtual 
Private Networking), and QoS (Quality of 
Service) for prioritizing important transmis- 
sions, such as VoIP (Voice over IP). 

Routers also offer many security features to help 
protect your system, including NAT (network ad- 
dress translation). NAT protects your system by 
placing the router between your computers and 
the Internet. When you communicate on the 
Internet, only the router is publicly identifiable. 

Where and what to buy. Vendors that sell a 
variety of routers and networking equipment in- 
clude Belkin (, Linksys 
(, D-Link (, 
and NETGEAR ( Before you 
purchase a router for the purpose of sharing a 
high-speed Internet connection, confirm the 
type of Internet connection your system uses 
and any ISP requirements. 

You also need to examine the computers and 
devices you plan to connect to the router. For a 
wired connection, your computers need an 
Ethernet network adapter, and the router must 
offer the appropriate number of ports to match 
the number of computers you plan to connect. 
Most newer computers have built-in network 
adapters, and you can purchase an adapter 
if needed. Desktop computers can use an 
adapter that plugs into a PCI (Peripheral Com- 
ponent Interconnect) expansion slot or a USB 
port. Notebook computers require a PCMCIA 
(Personal Computer Memory Card Inter- 
national Association) adapter or a USB adapter. 
You also need Ethernet cables to connect your 
computer(s) to the router. 

18 July 2006 / 



Configure Your Router 


■•■•■ ■ :■ :. : .' :. ; ■:.,:■: 

Default gateway 

Q Use the following DNS s 
Alternate DNS server 

For wireless access, confirm the 
802.11 standards used by the PCs or 
other devices you want to connect. 
The router's wireless AP must match 
the 802.11 standard used by your de- 
vices. Note that the 802.1 lg standard 
is compatible with both 802. 1 1 g 
and 802.11b. 

Where routers fit in. In most SOHO 
environments, the 
router connects a 
high-speed cable/ 
DSL modem with 
the LAN computers. 
It manages the flow 
of data between 
the Internet (WAN) 
and the LAN. If 
the router supports 
wireless devices, the 
LAN can include 
both wired com- 
puters attached to 
the router with 
Ethernet cables and 
wireless computers 
"attached" to the 
router's wireless AP. 

Figure Out Router Configuration 

Although many router manufac- 
turers are devising wizards and other 
tools to simplify installation, the 
process can still be quite mind- 
numbing. To supplement the docu- 
mentation supplied with your router, 
we will clarify the steps for config- 
uring a router to share an existing 
high-speed Internet connection. 

Router configuration primarily ad- 
dresses two distinct types of connec- 
tions: the LAN's connection to the 
router and the router's connection to 
the Internet. Knowing how IP (Internet 
Protocol) addresses are supplied is a 
key concept in configuring both. 

Understand static and dynamic 
connections. Computer networks 
use TCP/IP (Transmission Control 

.; . . . -.■ • ' ','.:.-.. . .■■■■.■ 

e ■■■:■%; ■ ■ •■ ' . '■ • . ■ '...:' 

the appropriate IP settings. 

' . ....':' 

Use the following IP address: 




To make sure your wired computers 
can connect to your router, you need 
to verify TCP/IP settings in Windows. 

Protocol/Internet Protocol) standards 
that define the rules for how com- 
puters transmit information over net- 
works and the Internet (a very large 
network). Every device on the network 
has an IP address for identification. 

When your ISP supplies you with an 
Internet connection, it defines an IP 
address to identify your computer. 
Most ISPs use a dy- 
namic IP address, 
whereby the IP ad- 
dress changes and is 
automatically as- 
signed. However, 
some ISPs assign a 
static IP address, 
which is defined 
in your computer's 
TCP/IP connection 
information. Be- 
cause your router 
replaces your com- 
puter for Internet 
you must configure 

the router to use the 

IP address meth- 
od supported by your ISP. 

In addition to the Internet connec- 
tion, the IP address scheme affects the 
router's connection with the LAN 
computers. This is dictated by the 
router's capabilities and configura- 
tion. Most routers offer automatic 
dynamic IP addresses through the 
DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration 
Protocol) server feature, and this 
method is used most often. If you 
prefer, you can assign each computer a 
specific IP address and configure the 
router to communicate only with 
those IP addresses. Although highly se- 
cure, this configuration is relatively 
complex for SOHO networks. For our 
purposes, we assume your router will 
use the DHCP server feature and 
dynamic IP addressing when 
communicating with your 
LAN computers. 

Find current Internet connection 
information. To configure the router's 
Internet connection, you need infor- 
mation about your existing connection. 
To obtain the information, you can 
consult with your ISP. You can also ob- 
tain information from your TCP/IP 
connection settings in Windows. 

Check Windows TCP/IP settings. 
You can obtain some information 
about your Internet connection by 
checking Windows TCP/IP connection 
properties for your computer's net- 
work adapter. Note that you must 
perform the following steps at the com- 
puter that connects to the Internet. 

For Windows 98 /Me computers: 

1. Click Start, Settings, and Control 
Panel. Double- click Network. 

2. In the Network dialog box, select 
TCP/IP in The Following Network 
Components Are Installed list and 
click the Properties button. 

3. Click the IP Address tab. 

4. If Obtain An IP Address Automat- 
ically is selected, the Internet con- 
nection uses dynamic IP addressing. 
After you install the router, the 
computer will connect to the router 
using dynamic IP addressing. 

5. If Specify An IP Address is se- 
lected, your ISP uses a static IP 
address. Record the configura- 
tion information from the IP 
Address, Gateway, and DNS 
Configuration tabs. Return to 
the IP Address tab and change 

The front of a router features LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that indicate the 
router's status, including power, Internet/WAN connection, and LAN connections. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 39 


Configure Your Router 

the selection to Obtain An IP 
Address Automatically so that the 
router can assign dynamic IP ad- 
dresses to this computer. 

6. Close the Properties dialog box. 

7. If you have other Win98/Me com- 
puters on the network, make sure 
they are set to Obtain An IP Ad- 
dress Automatically. This applies to 
wired and wireless computers. 

For Windows 2000/XP computers: 

1. Click Start, Control Panel, Network 
And Internet Connections, and 
Network Connections. 

2. Right-click Local Area Connection 
and click Properties. 

3. In the This Connection Uses The 
Following Items list, select Inter- 
net Protocol (TCP/IP) and click 

4. Click the General tab. 

5. If Obtain An IP Address Automat- 
ically is selected, the Internet 
connection uses dynamic IP ad- 
dressing. After you install the 
router, the computer will con- 
nect to the router using dynamic 
IP addressing. 

6. If Use The Following IP Address is 
selected, your ISP uses a static IP 
address. Record the configuration 
information in the remainder of 
the Properties dialog box. So that 
the router can assign dynamic IP 
addresses to this computer, change 
the selection to Obtain An IP 
Address Automatically. 

7. Close the Properties dialog box. 

8. If you have other Win2000/ 
XP computers on the network, 
they should also be set to Obtain 
An IP Address Automatically. 
This applies to wired and wire- 
less computers. 

Connect The Hardware 

Connecting the router, cable/DSL 
modem, and computers is straightfor- 
ward. Although you should refer to 
your router's documentation for spe- 
cific instructions, the following steps 
provide a general outline of the process. 

1. Turn off the cable/DSL modem 
and unplug it from the electrical 

2. Shut down the computer that con- 
nects to the Internet. 

3. Locate the Ethernet cable that con- 
nects from the back of your com- 
puter to the modem. 

4. Disconnect the Ethernet cable from 
your computer and plug it into the 
WAN/Internet port on the router. 

5. Plug a different Ethernet cable into 
a LAN/Local port on the router. 
Connect the other end to the com- 
puter's Ethernet connection. 

6. Plug in and turn on the modem 
and wait for it to fully boot (about 
one to two minutes). 

7. Turn on the router and wait one to 
two minutes. 

8. Turn on your computer. 

9. The following router LED (light- 
emitting diode) status lights should 
be on: Power, WAN/Internet, and 

The Linksys Wireless-G 

router configuration 
tool offers many 
options. This article 
focuses on basic 
setup and wireless 

LAN/Local for the port your com- 
puter is attached to. If any of the 
lights are not on, check your 
router's documentation for trou- 
bleshooting information. 

Use The Router Configuration Tool 

After the hardware is connected, 
you need to configure the router's 
Internet and LAN connections. Most 
routers include a Web-based utility for 
configuration. To access the utility, 
open the computer's Web browser and 
enter the router's default IP address 
(usually or 
Note that you should configure the 
router from the computer that for- 
merly connected to the Internet. 

The configuration tool displays a 
login screen. Most vendors ship the 
router with basic login information, for 
example, a blank username and a pass- 
word of admin. Refer to your router's 
documentation for specifics. After the 
login screen, the utility displays a setup 
wizard or a set of setup screens. We will 
discuss the options in general so that 
you can apply them to most types of 
routers and configuration tools. 

Configure The 
Internet/WAN Connection 

To configure the Internet/WAN 
connection, you need your ISP's con- 
figuration parameters. In addition to 
the information you obtained by 
checking Windows TCP/IP settings, 
you can check your router manufactur- 
er's Web-based support information 

40 July 2006 / 


Configure Your Router 

for details about configuring the con- 
nection for your ISP. 

Connection types. The main types of 
Internet connections are dynamic IP, 
static IP, PPPoE (Point-to-Point Proto- 
col over Ethernet), PPTP (Point-to- 
Point Tunneling Protocol), and L2TP 
(Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol). Most 
cable modems use dynamic IP. Static 
IP is generally for business connections 
and can be used in some SOHO sce- 
narios. PPPoE is most often used by 
DSL service providers. European ISPs 
offer PPTP and L2TP connections. 

Each connection type has a set of 
corresponding configuration settings. 
To address the connections typically 
used in a SOHO setting, we'll examine 
the dynamic IP, PPPoE, and static IP 
options. We also discuss the MAC 
(Media Access Control) address used 
by some ISPs. 

Dynamic IP. For cable modems, the 
connection type is usually dynamic IP. 
Some router configuration utilities may 
label this option as DHCP, Obtain An 
IP Automatically, or Automatic Con- 
figuration DHCP. When you select dy- 
namic IP, your router's configuration 
utility displays several corresponding 
fields. Hostname and Domain Name 
(or DNS) are fields required by some 
ISPs. MTU (maximum transmission 
unit) is normally determined automati- 
cally. It specifies the largest packet size 
permitted for Internet transmission. 
Some ISPs require you to define a spe- 
cific value, which should fall in the 1200 
to 1500 range. 

PPPoE. For most DSL connections, 
PPPoE is the connection type. With 
PPPoE, you need to enter the user- 
name and password provided by your 
ISP. Also, make sure to select the Keep 

Alive or Always On option if it is pre- 
sent. This setting ensures your connec- 
tion remains even when you aren't 
using it. Disregard any Connect On 
Demand or Manual options, and com- 
plete the Hostname, Domain Name, 
and MTU fields if required by your ISP. 
If you are using DSL with PPPoE, you 
need to uninstall or disable any previ- 
ously installed PPPoE software in order 
to connect to the Internet via the router. 
Static IP. If your ISP uses a static IP 
address to identify your computer's 
Internet connection, you need to de- 
fine the IP address and related infor- 
mation in the router's configuration 
settings. The data is provided by your 
ISP, or you can obtain it from the 
Windows TCP/IP connection proper- 
ties. The items you must specify for a 
static IP connection are the IP Address, 
Subnet Mask, Gateway, and DNS. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 41 


Configure Your Router 

MAC address. To identify your 
computer, some ISPs use a MAC ad- 
dress in addition to an IP address. 
The MAC address is a unique code 
permanently assigned to every device, 
including your computer's network 
card. The router configuration tool 
provides an option for you to copy or 
clone the MAC address from the PC 
that connected to the Internet. The 
Clone MAC Address option copies 
the MAC address to the router so that 
it can handle communications with 
the ISP's network. 

Configure The LAN Connection 

After the Internet connection is set 
in the router configuration tool, it's 
time to address the connections to 
your wired computers on the LAN. If 
the configuration tool offers options 
to enable or disable the DHCP server, 
select Enable (unless you have a dif- 
ferent DHCP server on your LAN). 
You can also disable it if you want to 
manually configure your computers 
to connect to the router with a static 
IP address. As previously noted, this is 
an advanced technique that most 
SOHO users don't want to tackle. 

You can improve security by using 
a combination of the Starting IP 
Address, Ending IP Address, and 
Maximum Number Of Users. By de- 
fault, most routers will assign as many 
as 250 IP addresses. For example, if you 
know your network will never have 
more than 10 devices attached, you can 
use these fields to limit the pool of IP 
addresses to through 
192.168.110 and/or limit the number 
of users to 10. If you don't have the op- 
tion to define an ending address, you 
can still limit the number of users. 

Client Lease Time defines the length 
of time an IP address is assigned to a 
computer. Changing the default value 
(usually one day) is normally unneces- 
sary. Preferred DNS or Static DNS 
refers to the DNS (Domain Name 
Server) that translates a Web address, 
such as, into an IP 
address ( Your ISP provides 

2:ifZ§lJ ■"- ■■" 5" ::e::- ::-"5-;: :- 

Key index (advanced): 1 '; 

this service, but you can define a dif- 
ferent server if you prefer. WINS (Win- 
dows Internet Naming Service) is 
another method of managing Internet 
interactions for some Microsoft servers 
and is not common on SOHO networks. 

Other Settings 

The Internet and 
LAN configuration 
options are the basic 
settings required by 
routers. Routers can 
serve multiple pur- 
poses and offer ad- 
ditional features, 
many of which come 
with configurable 
options. For details, 
check your router's 
Because many rout- 
ers include a wireless 
AP, we will address 
wireless configura- 
tion options. 

Wireless AP. In the 
router's configuration 
settings, the wireless fields define the 
network's wireless security and trans- 
mission signal. From the router's point 
of view, these are LAN settings for wire- 
less devices. The previous information 
about LAN connections applies to any 
wired computers on the network, and 
most wireless routers handle both LAN 
and WLAN connections. 

Typically, you define the wireless 
network Mode. This indicates the type 
of wireless signal the router should 
transmit, for example, 802.11b, 
802.1 lg, mixed (both 802.1 lb/g), or 
none. The SSID (Service Set Ident- 
ifier) is the name of the WLAN and 
consists of a maximum of 32 letters 
and numbers. Most vendors ship the 
router with a generic SSID name, such 
as linksys. For security reasons, change 
this to a unique name. Be sure to write 
down the name for future reference. 

Save the router settings and verify 
that your wireless PCs detect the WLAN 
and can connect to it. Then disconnect 

■Jetwork name [SSID}: 


',5: , . , .:'v; ±_;-*;-. ;;■.:■ 
Zjz.z e-cryption: 

Network key: 

the following: 









To communicate with a wireless 
router, all of your computers' 
wireless connection settings 
must match the router's settings 

and log on to the router's configuration 
tool using the original Internet com- 
puter's Web browser. Proceed to the 
router's wireless security settings. Wire- 
less encryption sets the level of encryp- 
tion for wireless data transmitted over 
the network. The encryption method on 
the router and wireless network 
adapters must match. Most 802.1 lg 
wireless network ad- 
apters support WPA 
(Wi-Fi Protected Ac- 
cess), which is stronger 
than the original WEP 
(Wired Equivalence 
Privacy) encryption. If 
offered by your router, 
choose WPA2-PSK, 

With WPA, keys on 
networked computers 
and devices are auto- 
matically changed and 
authenticated. If WPA 
options are not avail- 
able or not supported 
by your wireless net- 
work adapter, select 
WEP. Write down 
any information related to encryption 
settings. After you save the settings, you 
must configure the wireless connec- 
tions on your wireless devices to use 
the same encryption scheme and 
key information. 

Another security measure is to dis- 
able the SSID Broadcast. Your router 
will cease identifying the WLAN to ex- 
ternal devices. Doing so means that au- 
tomatic network detection features do 
not locate the WLAN. Manually enter 
the SSID and deselect any options to 
connect to nonpreferred networks. 

Test & Rest 

To complete the router configura- 
tion, test your connection and add 
any additional wired and wireless PCs 
to your network. Once your router is 
configured and running, you'll rarely 
need to change its settings. II 

by Carmen Carmack 

42 July 2006 / 


Introducing The 
Digital Universe 

An Alternative To The Web? 

Imagine a Web experience that 
provides expert-reviewed text 
and high-end multimedia con- 
tent; is private and safe; and has al- 
most no advertising. 

The experience exists today in the 
Digital Universe (www.digitaluni It is a well- funded, growing 
effort aiming to re-create the Web as a 
serious source of information. 

The Digital Universe project was for- 
mally announced in January, but the 
project has been underway for several 
years. Its technical infrastructure is man- 
aged and partially funded by ManyOne 
Networks. Overseeing content is the 
Digital Universe Foundation, which 
boasts high-flying members including 
Larry Sanger, formerly of Wikipedia, 
and Lawrence Lessig, founder and chair 
of the Creative Commons project. 

Information Ideals 

The Digital Universe's founders, 
Internet entrepreneur Joe Firmage and 

astrophysicist Bernie Haisch, believe 
they've devised an online experience 
with a sustainable financial structure 
that will save us from today's Internet, 
a place littered with unreliable and su- 
perficial information, as well as ads. 

"People are increasingly disgusted 
with the over- commercialization of the 
Web," says Firmage. "We want to put 
human knowledge online, sans trivia." 

The Digital Universe, or DU, consists 
of hundreds of subject areas, or portals, 
covering topics such as earth, energy, 
and the universe. For each portal, there 
is an expert guide, called a steward, who 
seeks out the best information online. 

DU stewards are typically pub- 
lished academics working in related 
areas, often in formal groups called 
coalitions. For another, DU portals 
provide authoritative information 
from places such as the BBC, NASA, 
and other professional, often govern- 
mental, institutions. Also, many 
portal stewards actually provide con- 
tent themselves. 

Wikipedia Plus 

"It's the same basic idea as Wiki- 
pedia, the online encyclopedia," ex- 
plains Firmage. But the Digital Uni- 
verse aims for something far grander. 
With its interconnected, theme-based 
portals, the DU reveals a more holistic 
approach to information. It provides 
visual pathways to topics and interre- 
lated categories. And although laymen 
may contribute to DU portals, the em- 
phasis primarily is on expert knowl- 
edge. "It will be a nucleus for scholars 
and experts," Firmage says. 

It is DU's focus on high-quality con- 
tent that's caused some stir. Larry 
Sanger, one of Wikipedia's founders, 
left Wikipedia for the Digital Universe 
because he felt the quality of Wikipedia 
content couldn't be guaranteed. 

As the director of distributed con- 
tent programs at DU, Sanger helps 
build coalitions of content experts. 
"By 'expert,'" he jokes, "I mean expert 
in the conventional sense — not in the 
Internet sense." He foresees creating 
coalitions for every area of human 
knowledge, totaling several dozen, he 
says. And Sanger expects content to be 
neutral and free from bias. "We want 
people from every point in the dialec- 
tical landscape in any given field." 

Subscribers For Support 

The Digital Universe plans to sup- 
port its high standards and its phys- 
ical infrastructure with a subscription 
system that will pay stewards for their 
efforts. "One-half of the net revenues 
from subscriptions are distributed to 
content partners," Firmage says. The 
other half goes to maintaining the 
Digital Universe infrastructure. 

Why subscribe? Registration is re- 
quired to access the Digital Universe, 
but the information is free. So why sub- 
scribe? Simply, to show support for the 
project. Perhaps that's why Firmage 
calls the DU the National Public Radio 
of the Web. People will subscribe 
(prices vary depending upon your 
setup), he says, "Because people want 

Smart Computing / July 2006 43 


The Digital Universe 

something better." He adds: "We want 
to take back the Web." 

Through ManyOne Networks, the 
Digital Universe provides high-end 
Internet services such as email addresses 
and Internet connections: services that 
organizations in turn can provide for 
their own members. Eventually, the DU 
will provide high-end services such as 
online gaming and Internet television. 

Explore The Digital Universe 

Registered users log on to the Inter- 
net as usual and open a Web browser. 
Click the browser's DU link. Enter 
your username and password. 

Portal to portals. You're greeted by a 
split screen filled with colorful photo 
icons. Above are featured portals. 
Below you see the portal structure of 

the Digital Universe. Mouse over an icon 
in the lower window, and its subportals 
hover above. Click to select one and 
enter a portal. Navigate the content from 
a menu on the right. Read recent related 
news stories, get general overviews of the 
topic, or read more in-depth. 

The first portal to be built was the 
Earth. Navigating the Digital Universe 
takes getting used to; with so many 
choices, it's easy to lose your bearings. 

But the structured environment of 
the DU is not for mindless surfing. It is 
a place for scholarly attention. The idea 
is to read and absorb, not simply scan. 

Look and feel. Most portal entries 
are in fact pages from existing Web 
sites. Although enclosed in the Digital 
Universe, these pages tend to look as 
if they belong elsewhere, which gives 
the interface a hodgepodge look. 

Meet A DU Steward 

What does it take to become a steward for the Digital Universe? Shawn 
Mikula, steward for the Brain Portal, exemplifies the qualities: scholarly dedi- 
cation, mastery of his subject, and a good feel for communicating online. Mikula 
recently earned his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University and 
currently works as a postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis. 

A specialist in neuroanatomy, Mikula has devised a method for putting brain 
maps online. 

When he read about the Digital Universe in December 2005, he knew he was 
the right person to steward the Brain Portal. He filled out an application and sub- 
mitted his resume to the Digital Universe Foundation. Somewhat to his surprise, 
he was tapped, along with one other neuroscientist, to steward the Brain Portal. 
Ultimately, it will cover all facets of neuroscience. 

"I am trying to provide a resource for neuroscience," he says, in part referring 
to his Web site ( "There is so much data in my 
field, it's hard to see it all at once." Mikula's Web-based tool helps researchers 
map the brain. It's like Google Maps, but for the brain, he says. 

"I have a strong desire to get the job done right, to get neuroanotomical data 
online in an interactive and useful form." Mikula cites DU's Larry Sanger as an 
encouraging influence. "He conveys well his vision that the Digital Universe is a 
place for experts in their fields to make info available." 

To be a good steward, he 
says it's important to think 
like a designer. "I like to make 
information exciting, fun, and 
aesthetically pleasing. There's 
not enough of that on the 
Web now. I really want to see 
if the DU can come up with 
something different." I 

Hidden stewards. Another quibble 
is that visitors do not get a sense of 
the stewards overseeing these por- 
tal worlds. It would be reassuring 
to know the stewards' names and to 
learn, for example, where his or her 
expertise lies. Serious scholars and stu- 
dents will want to examine a steward's 
writing and perhaps even a resume. 

High Hopes & Hurdles 

The ambitions for the DU are grand: 
to supply the public with high-quality 
information. The founders plan to acti- 
vate 500 portals by the end of the year 
and thousands more by the end of the 
decade. There are plans for an im- 
proved search engine, a 3D naviga- 
tional interface, online tools for 
stewards and laymen to add content, 
and interactive elements such as chat 
and multimedia audio and video. 

To keep track of the project, we rec- 
ommend reading the public roadmap on 
the Digital Universe home page. It out- 
lines DU plans as they're unveiled. 
Sanger's blog provides good updates too. 

In the first quarter of this year, the 
DU had over 10,000 members, although 
not all of them are paid. Co-founder 
Bernie Haisch admits there are chal- 
lenges. "It is important to be raising cap- 
ital and to be forming relationships with 
individuals and institutions," he says. 
"Another challenge is organizing people, 
gaining momentum." 

The Digital Universe appeals to the 
intellectual, idealistic side of human na- 
ture. And many of us will likely sub- 
scribe to an online environment where 
data-gathering is the primary object. 

But there is much about the present- 
day Web that appeals to another side 
of human nature. It's unrealistic to ex- 
pect people won't still want to Google 
acquaintances and and trip through 
Flickr photos. 

Perhaps the Digital Universe will co- 
exist with the World Wide Web we've 
come to depend on. The DU makes for 
an ideal parallel universe. II 

by Marti LaChance 

44 July 2006 / 



Enhance Your Time Online 

Free Tax 
Payments Online 

Problem: I got hit with a 
huge tax bill this year. 
Someone suggested I make 
quarterly estimated pay- 
ments — can I do this on- 
line? Will it cost me extra? 
Solution: With the ever- 
increasing popularity of 
electronic tax filing, many 
contenders have stepped 
into the ring to help you 
make tax payments online. 
A couple of months ago, 
Web Tips mentioned (www, an Un- 
authorized payment 
provider. Yes this site 
charges a processing fee. 
If you want to skip the fee, 
go straight to the govern- 
ment-run site EFTPS 
( This 
Electronic Federal Tax 
Payment System does not 
charge a fee; however, it 
only accepts payment 
through bank transfers 
out of your savings or 
checking account. Don't 
have the available cash 
and want to pay by credit 
card? Then you have to 
cough up the fee for 

Wine Time 

Problem: I have a growing 
interest in wine, but I'm 
having a hard time keeping 
track of all the wines I like. 
Solution: The upscale mag- 
azine Wine Spectator has a 
Personal Wine List feature, 
which is only available to 
online subscribers for 
$49.95. Instead, check out 
MemWine (www.mem Simple, func- 
tional, not much to look at, 
and it doesn't have exactly 
the same features, but it 
does mostly the same: You 
can save a list of wines 
you've tasted with notes 
on what you liked and 
didn't like. MemWine also 
gives you the ability to view 
your selections via your 
cell phone. 

What To Read Next 

Problem: I'm always inter- 
ested in getting recommen- 
dations for what books to 
put on my to-read list. 
Amazon offers a recom- 
mendation service, but it 
seems to be driven more by 
books you've bought rather 
than book you have read. 
Solution:While it's true 

Visited States 

ViEned Suies li 

select in tha taUio D»law tha countries you hive bain to and cl 

sf Tha countries of th« w 




Display the states you have visited via this online map. 

Pay quarterly, monthly, or weekly tax estimates directly 
through the government's site. 

Recommended For You 
service is initiated by books 
you've purchased through (www, you can 
refine this feature by 
searching for a book you 
bought elsewhere and se- 
lecting the small I Own It 
checkbox, located right 
below the price. You can 
also edit your purchases if 
you don't want gifts you 
got for others to affect your 
recommendation. Want to 
skip Amazon altogether? 
Check out What Should I 
Read Next? (www. what . 
Theoretically, you can 
enter a single title, and this 
site will tell you what's 
next. Readers may find that 
the service works better if 
you register and build a list 
of your favorites. 


Problem: My spouse and 
I are big travelers. We're 
proud that we've visited 
almost every state in the 
union. We used to have 
a big map of the United 
States with pushpins 
showing everywhere we 
went, but we don't have 
the space for it anymore. 

Solution: If you have space 
for a PC, you can make a 
map like this online. Visit 
the Visited States project 
/visitedstates), and click all 
the states you've been to. 
You'll see a rendered map 
with your states in red. 

Problem: My "friend" 
owes me money. I'd like to 
give him a gentle nudge to 
pay me back, but I don't 
want to come right out and 
ask for it. 

Solution: If your neighborly 
goodwill has been stretched 
to the limit, there's a Web 
site that's looking to help 
you out. It's called UOME 
( , 
and it claims to "tip toe 
around those delicate 
situations." After regis- 
tering, you can send an 
ecard reminder that pay- 
ment is due. We're pretty 
sure sending an ecard that 
says, "Darling, your tired, 
sad, little sob story is 
breaking my heart. Never- 
theless, you need to pay 
me!," isn't gentler than a 
polite email. But if black 
humor is your thing, this 
site's all you. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 45 



I T 


Summer k 
Celebration H 

Cool Works 

Summer jobs are still what they used 
to be, but you have to look harder to 
find them these days. To that end, 
Cool Works posts exciting jobs and in- 
ternships from all over country. Want 
to work at a resort? No problem. A 
state or national park? Sure. If you're 
looking for a get-off-the-couch-and- 
get-a-job motivator for your teen, we 
suspect a link to this site will do the 
trick. That said, the site doesn't target 
only teens — adults can find plenty of 
seasonal work. If you're an RVer, 
check out the Older And Bolder area. 

If you're looking for some fun facts 
about the birth of the United States, 
head on over to FirstGov's Indepen- 
dence Day section. The government 
site, which acts as a portal for other 
government sites, links to fireworks 
safety tips and information about what 
fireworks each state allows or pro- 
hibits. You'll find safety tips for grilling 
and American recipes. The site also 
links to the National Archive's 
Declaration Of Independence section, 
which includes an image of the docu- 
ment, as well as a transcript. Kids can 
take a quiz that helps them learn about 
the Declaration Of Independence. 
Don't overlook the other quizzes in 
that area, though: There are plenty of 
fun questionnaires that cover such 

topics as Presidents 
& Baseball and First Ladies. 

Fourth Of July 
Celebrations Database 

James R. Heintzes's collection of 
Fourth of July celebrations research 
makes for a great read in advance of the 
national holiday. The site has Fourth of 
July speeches (including those by 
former presidents), as well as stories 
that will entertain the kids for hours. 
You'll find much of the information on 
the main Fourth Of July Celebrations 
Database page, including detailed de- 
scriptions of important celebrations 
throughout the nation's history. 


This family- friendly site has tons of 
Fourth of July fun, including crafts 
and games. The site has some messy 
ideas, such as Celebration Seltzer 
Rockets (they're safe, at least for the 
kids) and Paint Fireworks With 
Marbles (think marbles, paint, and 
kids). We also like the Seasons 
Greeting Blocks and Make Your Own 
Flag projects. On the games side of 
the 4 tn Of July section, you'll find 
Create Your Own Fireworks (a com- 
pletely online fireworks project) and 
the United States Quiz game. From 
Kaboose's main page, click Holidays 
and then click 4 m Of July. 

Compiled by Joshua Gulick 
Illustrated by Lindsay Anker 

The Smoke Ring 

Every good barbecue chef should 
bookmark The Smoke Ring's top- 
notch Web site. Not surprisingly, the 
Barbecue Articles section covers all 
things barbecue. BBQ chefs will find 
plenty of tips here, including a collec- 
tion of barbecue sauce recipes (of 
/ course) and tips for cooking prime 
rib. Don't overlook the article about 
Smoke Ring members cooking for 
Katrina evacuees. The site also de- 
tails barbeque contests and has a 
great How To section that covers spe- 
cial ribs and grills. The site links to 
hundreds of barbecue Web sites. 

U.S. Census Bureau 

Have you ever wondered how much 
money the United States spends on 
fireworks in a year? Neither have we, 
but we were intrigued when we 
learned from the U.S. Census Bureau's 
Web site that the nation imported 
$164.2 million in fireworks from 
China in 2004. If you're looking for 
fun factoids, check out the site's small 
collection. The page covers facts for 
the Fourth of July 2005. Although the 
Census Bureau targets the info at pub- 
lishers, we think you'll get a kick out 
of some of these numbers (such as the 
number of states that have more than 
$1 billion in chicken broiler revenue). 
From the main page, click Facts For 
Features and then click Facts For 
Features: The Fourth Of July 2005. 

The World Waterpark Association's 
site helps visitors locate waterparks all 
around the world. If you're looking for 
U.S. waterparks, click the map on the 
main page and then click the appro- 
priate state in the next map. More On 
This Park buttons link to each park's 
dates of operation, hours, Web site 
addresses, and phone numbers. The 
site also has safety tips that help kids 
avoid heavy sun exposure and water- 
slide accidents. 

46 July 2006 / 


Find It Online 



To You 

Finding the appropriate Usenet discussion 
group to match your interests can be a mon- 
umental task. So each month, we scour tens 
of thousands of newsgroups and highlight 
ones that delve into popular topics. If your 
ISP (Internet service provider) doesn't carry 
these groups, ask it to add the groups to its 
list. This month we get the burgers and ribs 
and trade stories over the grill. 


Getting ready for some summer 
barbecuing? Find some new sauces 
and share your own BBQ treats. 


If you haven't already, it's time 
to hitch the boat to the car and 
head for water. If you're land- 
locked today, dream online with 
other sailors. 

Although users here discuss and 
trade all kinds of cooking 
tools, you'll find plenty of 
messages about grills. 
Check out this group 
before you buy your 
next grill. 

Share The Wares 

Some of the best apples in the online orchard are the free (or free to try) pro- 
grams available for download. Each month we feature highlights from our 
pickings. This month, we put some fireworks in your screen saver lineup. 

Phantom Fireworks Show 

Phantom Fireworks offers a fun screen saver that displays an appreciative 
crowd below brightly colored fireworks. The screen saver is small (only 
2.63MB), which means dial-up users can download it in a reasonable 
amount of time. Phantom, a fireworks company, offers the screen saver free. 

To download the screen saver, click the Fun Zone button and then click 
Fireworks Screensaver. Click Download For Windows (there's also a Mac 
version available), which appears under a picture of the screen saver, and 
click Save when the File Download - Security Warning window appears. 
Double-click the downloaded setup file to start installation. Next, right- 
click the Desktop and then click Properties. Click the Screen Saver tab. 
You'll find that the Phantom Fireworks Show appears in your Screen Saver 
list by default. The Wait field displays the number of minutes the screen 
saver waits to appear when your computer is idle. 

Really Slick Screensavers Skyrocket 

Whether you're stuck inside on July 4 or simply want to see some sparks 
fly, check out the free screen savers at Really Slick Screensavers. All of the 
screen savers have plenty of bright colors, but fireworks fans will love 
Skyrocket, which features colorful explosions in a night sky. The screen 
saver includes audible booms and even lets you determine which rockets 
launch (via your keyboard keys). 

Really Slick Screensavers packages all of its screen savers into a single 
setup file. To download them and start the Skyrocket screen saver, click 
Downloads on the site's main page, and then click the link at the top of 
the page. Next, choose a mirror, which is a 
server that hosts Really Slick Screensavers' file. 
Click Download and then click Save when the 
File Download window appears. 

Save the file to your Desktop and then 
right-click it. Click Extract All and then follow 
the wizard's instructions to extract the files to 
a folder. Open that folder and then double- 
click Openalweax.exe, which installs a file the 
screen savers need. Finally, copy the screen 
saver files (they have an .SCR extension) and 
then open your hard drive. Open the 

Windows folder and then System32. 
~~c^ Right-click inside this folder and 

then click Paste to deposit 
the screen savers. 

Finally, right-click 
toj^jV your Desktop, click 

Press the S key to see 
information about how well 
Skyrocket is performing on 
your computer. 

Properties, and 

click the Screen Saver to select the 
Skyrocket screen saver. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 47 

Mr. Modem's Desktop 

More From Mr. Modem's Mailbag 

The response to last month's column 
in which I answered a few of your 
questions was overwhelming and 
extremely gratifying. To know that my 
carefully selected, lovingly crafted 
words touched the hearts, 
minds, and keyboards of so 
many of you — and that 
you took the time to share 
your generous thoughts with 
me — made me weep openly. 
What better way to express my 
profound gratitude than to begin 
this month's literary offering with 
another question or two? It's just my 
humble way of letting both of you 
know that when you speak, Mr. 
Modem listens. 

Dear Mr. Modem: I'm using the free 
Mozilla Fir ef ox browser (, thanks 
to your recommendation, and I really like it. Can you tell 
me how I can print Web pages in a larger font? Many 
thanks, and please give my regards to your bifocals. 

A. I don't like to brag, but I recently upgraded to trifo- 
cals. The steps for printing with a larger font are virtually 
identical whether you're doing the Firefox trot, using 
Internet Explorer, or running Netscape: Click File and Print 
Preview, and adjust the Scale setting accordingly. Try 125% 
for starters and then experiment with several increases to 
determine what best suits your peepers. 

Q. I'm reading and hearing a lot about RSS these days. 
Can you explain what it is, Mr. M? 

A. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a Web site format 
for syndicated content that's used to deliver news and infor- 
mation. RSS makes use of a type of programming (XML) 
that continually scans the content of a designated Web site 
for updates, then broadcasts those updates to all sub- 
scribers. In order to receive RSS feeds, you must have an ag- 
gregator, also called a news reader. The free Google Reader 
( is one of many available on the Web. 

You can add a Web site to your reader in one of two ways. 
Most sites that offer an RSS feed have a clickable RSS or XML 
button that will add that feed to your aggregator. On other 
sites you may need to copy and paste the URL of the feed into 
your reader. Instructions will be provided on each site. 

You're probably familiar with the Run Command 
msconfig, which is used to display Windows' System 
Configuration Utility. To execute a Run Command, click 
Start and Run, then enter the command, and click OK or 
press ENTER. A few of my favorite FURCs (Frequently 

Used Run Commands) include ap- 
pwiz.cpl for Add/Remove Pro- 
grams, calc for the Windows 
calculator, control desktop for 
Display Properties, control 
folders for Folder Properties; 
main.cpl to access Mouse 
Properties; taskmgr for the 
Task Manager, firewall. cpl 
for the Windows Firewall, 
control printers for Printers 
& Faxes, tourstart for the 
Windows XP Digital Mystery 
Tour, and wordpad for — care to 
venture a guess? All of the above 
commands work with Windows XP 
and many will work with other versions 
of Windows, so give 'em a try. 
A brief notice on Western Union's Web site 
earlier this year heralded the end of a technological era by 
announcing that the company will "discontinue all telegram 
and commercial messaging services." 

When I read that, a wave of wistful nostalgia washed over 
me. I remember years ago, the uniformed Western Union 
messenger delivering the little yellow sheet of paper bearing 
news, happy and sad. STOP. It was the fastest way to com- 
municate in writing years ago, and being the recipient of a 
telegram was both exciting and scary. STOP. Today, the 
ubiquitous cell phone, email, text messaging, and other 
soul-less forms of communication have delivered the 
telegram into history. STOP. (Semi-interesting trivia: 
Telegram senders saved money by using the word "stop" in- 
stead of periods to end sentences. Punctuation cost extra, 
while the four- character word "stop" was free.) 

As a personal postscript to the demise of the telegram, I 
found some measure of comfort in knowing that new and 
better communication tools are emerging. If you would 
like to witness first-hand an example of the latest in cut- 
ting-edge communications technology, visit 
/qhjw6 where you'll receive a personal message from Klaus, 
my personal assistant. (Truth in columning: Not for the 
humor- challenged.) II 

by Mr. Modem 

Mr. Modem (Richard Sherman) is an author, syndicated 
columnist, radio host, and publisher. "Mr. Modem's Weekl 
Newsletter" provides personal responses to subscribers' com} 
and Internet questions, plus weekly computing tips, Web sit 
recommendations, virus alerts, hoax warnings, and more. 
For additional information, visit 

48 July 2006 / 

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Security Dn Sale 

These Apps Are Heavy On Security, 
But Light On The Wallet 

Parch E Derail Ynur PC 

Top Bargain Apps For System 
Repair & Customization 

Browsing Dn A Budget 

Low-Cost & No-Cost Apps That 
Make Web Surfing A Breeze 

Is your computer sluggish? Do 
you see a lot of error mes- 
sages? Are you worried about 
viruses and spyware infil- 
trating your hard drive? Name any 
computer problem, and there are 
dozens of applications and utilities 
designed to get things working 
again, but the problem many users 
have is paying the amount listed on 
some applications' price tags. Add 
up the money you might shell out 
for a decent antivirus application, 
spyware detector, system enhance- 
ment utility, and other essential soft- 
ware, and you could just about buy a 
new PC. 

Shareware and freeware helps keep 
that cash in your pocket. Shareware is 
try-before-you-buy software that usu- 
ally is available as a free download that 
its users must register after a certain 
period of time passes or when they use 
the software a certain number of times. 
Registration involves sending the 
shareware programmer (or company) 
money, but the fee generally is much 

50 July 2006 / 


f \ 


same level of technical support that 
you'd get by going with the big com- 
panies, but most shareware and free- 
ware developers provide extensive 
documentation for their products 
and are quick to respond to email 
queries. Phone support, however, is 
rare because most shareware and 
freeware developers don't have the 
staff or financial resources to field 
phone calls. 

The biggest potential problem is that 
shareware and freeware downloads are 
fraught with security concerns. For 




Because Your Broken-Down PC Shouldn't Make You Go Broke 

smaller than the purchase price of a 
comparable software package you'd 
buy off the retail shelves because devel- 
opment and distribution costs for 
shareware authors is relatively low. 

Freeware is much like shareware, 
only there is no fee involved for home 
users. They can download and install 
the software and use it forever. But 
freeware developers do expect you to 
pay a fee if you use their software for 
commercial purposes. 

Generosity & Advertising 

Many times in life you get what 
you pay for, and while that notion 
is sometimes true in the case of 
shareware and freeware, there are an 
astounding number of free or low- 
priced applications that are as good 
as — or better than — their commer- 
cial counterparts. This is especially true 
when it comes to system utilities and 
applications that are designed to 
enhance commercial software be- 
cause talented programmers often 

design tools to help themselves, and 
then they give other users access to 
those applications once they finish per- 
fecting them. 

In addition, there are commer- 
cial software companies that release 
freeware versions of their expensive 
business-class products as a form of 
advertising. For example, ALWIL 
Software ( sells com- 
mercial versions of its antivirus prod- 
ucts, but it also offers a full- featured, 
free antivirus product to individual 
home users as a form of advertising 
for its money-making products. 

Most of the best antispyware utili- 
ties also are free. Plus, many of the 
greatest data compression tools, Web 
browser enhancement applications, 
and other system utilities are only 
available as shareware or freeware. 

Freedom Isn't Always Free 

There are surprisingly few down- 
sides to using shareware and free- 
ware. You won't typically receive the 

example, these types of downloads pro- 
vide a perfect avenue to deliver viruses, 
spyware, and other malicious or un- 
wanted software to your hard drive, so 
if you don't know how to spot such of- 
fenders, it's easy to end up with far 
more problems than the ones that 
prompted you to download the utilities 
in the first place. 

Fortunately, it's very easy to find 
legitimate shareware and freeware 
downloads once you know where to 
look for them. We'll talk about that 
aspect throughout this featured sec- 
tion, along with various ways you 
can stay secure as you're testing out 
shareware in our "Initiate A Security 
Lockdown" article on page 32. Once 
you know what types of programs to 
look for and where to download that 
software, the biggest problem will be 
choosing from the abundance of ex- 
cellent, legitimate shareware and free- 
ware, and that's the kind of problem 
nobody minds having. II 

by Tracy Baker 

Smart Computing / July 2006 51 

Most of us wouldn't trust 
a free security system to 
guard our homes, but the 
concept of free security software is 
an entirely different situation. In fact, 
security freeware has a long history of 
providing adequate protection against 
viruses, spyware, network intrusions, 
and other threats — even while that 
same collective malware category 
grows ever more sophisticated. 

Security freeware doesn't contain all 
the bells and whistles that adorn pre- 
mium software, but for many users, this 
is a welcome respite from the resource- 
hogging, system- overtaking habits of 
some big-name utilities. On the down- 
side, many free programs don't provide 
quite the same level of protection as 
their premium counterparts, but when 
properly configured and regularly 
updated, they do stop most threats. 

Antivirus Software 

When it comes to your computer 
security, you don't want to skimp in 
the antivirus department because one 
undetected virus could have serious 
consequences for your system and 
data. But with a choice of several free, 
efficient antivirus utilities, you don't 
need to pay big (or any) bucks for 
that protection; and better yet, you 
won't need to wrestle with bloated 
applications that jam in every feature 
but the kitchen sink. 

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition. 
Although you'll get a fraction of the 
features found in AVG Professional, 
Grisoft's AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 

These Apps Are Heavy On Security, 
But Light On The Wallet 

( still leaves you with 
a reliable utility that catches practically 
all viruses — with no hassle. Regular 
updates keep this program constant- 
ly on top of the latest threats, and 
automatic scanning makes sure your 
system is clean, even if you forget to 
use the scanner. A rudimentary inter- 
face provides quick access to scanning 
and resident shield options, including 
email scanning, as well as other tools. 
(AVG Professional costs $38.95 for a 
two-year license. See 
for more information.) 

AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic. 
With the ability to detect and remove 
more than 80,000 viruses, Avira's 
AntiVir ( provides 
solid protection against most of today's 
viral beasties. AntiVir even protects 
against previously unknown viruses 
using heuristic detection, which 
watches for virus-like patterns to catch 
new malware. Through its System Tray 
icon, the utility's on-access scanner 
provides an instant view of its current 
status, including the name of the last 
file it scanned. 

avast! 4 Home Edition. This free, 
feature-packed utility from ALWIL 
Software ( inte- 
grates elements typically found 
in premium products, including 
Web Shield, which monitors and 
filters HTTP (Hypertext Transfer 
Protocol) traffic for malware, and 
Network Shield, which works on 

Ad-Aware delivers a host of configurable 

options that let you fine-tune your 

spyware-hunting scans for additional 

speed and thoroughness. 

systems using Windows XP to protect 
against Internet-based attacks such 
as worms. The avast! 4 program's resi- 
dent protection offers multiple settings 
to fine-tune your antivirus environ- 
ment exactly as you see fit, including 
email options for scanning various 
protocols and a separate plug-in for 
Microsoft Outlook. 

BitDefender 8 Free Edition. If 
you need effective on-demand virus 
scanning, BitDefender 8 (www.bit serves as a decent free 
option because of its powerful scanning 
engine and convenient scheduling 
abilities. However, for email protection 
and resident antivirus protection (that 
is, if you want your antivirus software 
to catch viruses on its own without 
performing a scan), you'll need to 
consider one of the other options we 
mention in this article. 


Your broadband modem or net- 
work router might already include a 
firewall, but these firewalls generally 
stop only rogue traffic trying to enter 
your computer. But if your computer 


(£< General 


rfji Scanning 


■ Advanced 


■£j Interface 


Iff Tweak 


Scan Settings 

Drives, Folders & Files 

- Scan within archives 

X ; Skip non-executable files 
x 4096 

Selecl to scan 

Memory & Registry 

^/ Scan active processes 
v^ Scan registry 

- Deep-scan registry 

-s/ Scan my II banned URLs 

■^ Scan my Hosts file 

Click "Proceed" to ss 

52 July 2006 / 


Cover Story 

becomes infected with a Trojan 
horse, worm, or similar malware, that 
malicious program may try to con- 
nect to the Internet, which is an 
action that your hardware-based fire- 
wall won't stop. That's why you still 
need a software-based firewall to 
catch and stop these rogue programs 
and their communications in both 
directions. The software-based fire- 
walls we cover here also tend to be 
more effective than the firewall 
Microsoft includes with WinXP SP2 
(Service Pack 2) because the latter 
firewall doesn't address outgoing 

Kerio Personal Firewall. In 
the first 30 days of using Sun- 
belt Software's Kerio Personal 
Firewall (www. sunbelt-soft, you'll enjoy such 
features as pop-up blocking, 
cookie blocking, host-based 
intrusion prevention, and 
others. After that, you can pay 
$19.95 to keep those advanced 
features, or you can continue 
to use the firewall for free in a 
limited mode that's still effec- 
tive. Although it isn't flashy, 
Kerio's interface is functional 
and easy to navigate, with 
comprehensive views of run- 
ning programs, statistics, and 
other information. 

ZoneAlarm. This well-known, 
trusted firewall from Zone Labs 
( continues to be 
a popular choice among home users, 
thanks to its wealth of options, ease 
of use, and free price tag. In addition 
to basic firewall functions that block 
suspicious incoming and outgoing 
activity, ZoneAlarm includes an 
Internet lock that blocks online traffic 
when you're away from your com- 
puter — you can even set it to activate 
when the Windows screen saver ap- 
pears. Plus, a setup wizard and sliders 
make configuration simple even for 
firewall novices. 

Outpost Firewall. If you have some 
experience with software-based fire- 
walls, check out Agnitum's Outpost 

Firewall (, which 
packs oodles of settings into its modest 
interface. Although it's not as user- 
friendly as other free firewalls — Out- 
post requires some tweaking to get 
network settings working properly — 
you'll appreciate such features as plug- 
ins that permit ad blocking, domain 
blocking, spyware blocking, and more. 


Today's free antispyware utilities 
may not be quite as effective as antispy- 
ware premium programs, but the free 
utilities still deliver reliable service and 

....■..■...■ .'. ■ 

My Documents 
+ Manual 

If you like your virus scanning on the convenient side, 
AntiVir lets you create Desktop links that instantly start 
any particular scan you choose. 

effectively detect most spyware-related 
threats. Also, unlike the warning we 
gave you about antivirus applications 
that create conflicts when more than 
one is running on a computer, we rec- 
ommend using multiple antispyware 
programs — doing so is an efficient part 
of any user's security strategy. 

Ad- Aware SE Personal Edition. Long 
regarded as a trusted ally in the war 
against spyware, Lavasoft's Ad-Aware 
program ( re- 
mains an effective tool for identifying 
and removing threats. This free utility 
is now better than ever, featuring a 
scanning engine that scours extended 
memory (including modules loaded by 
processes) and can even identify new 
and unknown variants. 

Spybot Search & Destroy. If you 

need an effective, no-frills, spyware- 
scanning app that can identify and 
remove most threats, Patrick M. Kolla's 
Spybot Search & Destroy (www.safer- is a wise choice. In ad- 
dition to basic scanning tools that target 
cookies, Internet dialers, browser hi- 
jackers, keyloggers, Trojans, and other 
malware, Spybot S&D features immu- 
nization tools for Internet Explorer and 
Opera that help block suspicious plug- 
ins and other downloads. Spybot S&D 
also provides a wealth of fine-tuning 
options that let you alter the way the 
program scans and removes spyware. 

Microsoft Windows De- 
fender. Previously known as 
Microsoft AntiSpyware, Win- 
dows Defender (www. micro 
/spyware) is the antispyware 
tool that will appear in the 
company's upcoming Win- 
dows Vista OS (operating 
system), but in the meantime, 
the current Beta 2 version is 
freely available to any WinXP 
SP2 user (and will remain free 
when it's finalized). This utility 
features a basic but slick inter- 
face that's easy to navigate and 
understand, in addition to a 
powerful scanner that catches 
a wide range of threats. As 
Windows Defender identifies such 
threats, the program alerts users 
with pop-up messages that indicate 
suspicious activity. 

SpywareBlaster & SpywareGuard. 
Although today's free antispyware 
apps are getting better at preventing 
spyware infections, their main focus 
remains on identifying and removing 
spyware after the threats infect your 
computer. However, Javacool Soft- 
ware's SpywareBlaster (www.javacool works primarily on the 
prevention side, blocking spyware- 
related threats from installing and 
executing. And the company's Spy- 
wareGuard program delivers a real- 
time scanning engine, along with 
download and hijacking protection. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 53 


Cover Story 

Pop-up Blockers 

Once the plague of the Web, pop- 
ups, pop-unders, and flash ads aren't 
quite the problem they used to be, 
thanks to new-age browsers and 
browser plug- ins that curtail even the 
most persistent annoyances. Unlike 
antivirus software, antispyware, and 
firewall programs, you don't neces- 
sarily need a third-party program to 
address pop-ups, but just in case you 
want one, we have some suggestions. 

Google Toolbar & Yahoo! Toolbar. 
Although the latest IE version includes 
a pop-up blocker, Google Toolbar 
(free; and Yahoo! 
Toolbar (free; 
provide more efficient, transparent, 
IE-based protection against such an- 
noyances. (Plus, Google Toolbar also 
works with Firefox.) 

These plug-ins add a toolbar to your 
browser to provide advanced Web 
search options along with pop-up pro- 
tection (both of which are somewhat 
configurable). For example, you can 
choose to hear a sound each time one 
of the toolbars blocks a pop-up ad. 

Firefox & Opera. Firefox (free; and Opera 
(free; each include 
built-in pop -up protection that works 
so seamlessly that you might occa- 
sionally forget that pop-ups exist. Of 
course, effective, nonintrusive pop -up 
protection isn't the only advantage 
these browsers have over IE; they also 
include a host of other useful tools 
and functions that many IE users 
never knew existed for browsers. 

Proxomitron. For more advanced 
computer users, Scott R. Lemmon's 
Proxomitron (free; 




Strolling through 
a meadow one 
sunny day, you stumble 
across an apple tree 
brimming with red, ripe 
fruit. You grab an apple 
from a nearby branch, 
take a bite, and recoil 
in disgust as you dis- 
cover it's infested with 
worms. The same can 
happen with freeware, 
because even though 
some free programs 
might appear enticing, 
they could be riddled 
with spyware, viruses, 
or other malware. 

Shady software de- 
velopers don't hesitate 
to load their programs 
with utilities that track 
your surfing habits or 
even perform virus- 
like activity on your 

computer. Although 
most of today's popular 
freeware is free of this 
type of content, there 
remains some that are 
outright dangerous to 
use, regardless of any in- 
cidental benefits they 
might provide. 

In addition, there 
are devious developers 
out there who are noto- 
rious for creating bogus 
antispyware programs, 
some of which hijack 
your browser, install 
their own spyware, and 
secretly download and 
install other software. 
You can use a program 
such as Spyware War- 
rior (www.spyware to keep a 
constant eye on these 
parasites and maintain 

a thorough list of pro- 
grams to avoid. 

Just remember that 
while searching for free- 
ware, never simply 
download and install a 
program that appears 
among the results of 
your Web searches. 
Instead perform a little 
research by plugging 
the program's name 
into Google Groups 
which provides access to 
more than 1 billion 
Usenet postings span- 
ning 25 years. Of course, 
you also can perform 
standard Web searches 
trying to find reviews 
about the program, but 
be careful not to fall for 
advertising copy created 
by the developer. I 

operates as a proxy between your 
browser and the Web to filter out 
pop-up ads, blinking banners, and 
other annoyances. Although this pro- 
gram is no longer under develop- 
ment, the current version still works 
well, but be warned: It's somewhat 
difficult to configure and is incredibly 
powerful. (Granted, power isn't such 
a bad thing when battling pop-ups.) 

Enjoy The Bargain Hunting 

Keep in mind that like other free- 
ware developers, the creators of most 
free security programs allow for only 
home and noncommercial use, 
whereas a fee applies for business 
licenses. So, even if you have a small 
business, be sure to read each pro- 
gram's terms and conditions before 
installing them on any of your busi- 
ness computers. 

Security freeware is plentiful and 
varied, so don't feel locked into a 
certain firewall or antivirus program 
if you don't like the way it looks, 
feels, or operates. However, if you 
plan on trying multiple antivirus or 
firewall utilities, be sure to uninstall 
your currently installed utility and 
reboot your computer before in- 
stalling another one to avoid poten- 
tial conflicts or system instability. In 
addition, you can install multiple 
pop-up blockers, but it's best to use 
only one at a time because the use of 
multiple active blockers tends to 
create conflicts. 

Regardless of whether the pro- 
grams are free or fee-based, most 
security applications aren't effective 
if you don't regularly update them. 
Take advantage of automatic update 
options (if available), so you can set 
the updates according to a schedule. 
For programs that don't include 
automatic update options, plan a 
day and time each week when you 
can manually update all your pro- 
grams — and be sure to stick with 
the schedule. II 

by Christian Perry 

54 July 2006 / 

Top Bargain Apps For System 
Repair & Customization 

For many of us, the idea of 
tidying up our PC is on par 
with a trip to the dentist. We 
know it has to be done, but we avoid 
it as long as possible, and we cringe at 
the thought of any pain we might 
have to endure. Like that dreaded 
dental visit, however, the reality of 
putting a PC in order oftentimes 
turns out to be much better than what 
we had envisioned. 

That's especially true if you use an 
inexpensive program for customizing 
or repairing your system. Useful free- 
ware and shareware programs make it 
a cinch to affordably organize your 
PC, back up files, recover lost data, 
clean the Registry, and otherwise op- 
timize your computer. Here are some 
of our favorites. 


Acronis True Image 9.0 Home. 

Before making any changes to your 
system, it's wise to back up all your 
critical files and other data. It's also 
wise to create a restoration point that 
captures your PC's entire working 
state, including the OS (operating 
system), user settings, and applica- 
tions. Acronis True Image Home 
($49.99; can do all 
of these things. 

Use the drive-imaging component 
to create an image of the entire hard 
drive and use the file-based backup 
component to back up files and fold- 
ers you specify. Features include a 
scheduler for automated backups, 
storage on a hidden partition on your 
hard drive, and the ability to adjust 
data compression levels. Try it out for 
yourself with the free 15 -day demo. 

Backup To DVD/CD 5 & Back- 
up Made Simple 5. Willow Creek 
Software offers two options for back- 
ing up folders and files: Backup To 
DVD/CD 5 and Backup Made Simple 
5 ($29.95 each; 
Both programs let you choose the files 
to back up, and they automatically 
track files when you add, rename, 
move, and delete them. Both pro- 
grams also let you confirm whether a 
backup was successful, and the syn- 
chronization feature reconciles files 
on two computers. 

As the names suggest, Backup To 
DVD/CD backs up data to DVDs and 
CDs without using compression, and 
Backup Made Simple compresses data 
so that you can back it up via other 
media. Other than that, the two pro- 
grams are nearly identical. You can 
download either program and test it 
out fully for 90 days, but after the trial 
period ends, the program's backup 

features do not work. If you decide to 
purchase an unlimited-use license, 
simply register the software; doing so 
will disable the program's expiration 
date and allow you to use all features 
for an unlimited length of time. 

Second Copy 7. If you're looking 
for a way to quickly back up key files 
and folders, be sure to look at Second 
Copy from Centered Systems ($29.95; With Second Copy, 
you can create a group of profiles in 
which each profile is a set of file and 
folder specifications. You simply tell 
Second Copy what information to 
copy, which profile to copy it to, and 
when to copy it, and Second Copy 
does the rest. 

In addition, Second Copy automat- 
ically monitors changes and creates 
backups for any such changes; plus, it 
will send you an email alert when it 
finishes. You also can use the software 
to copy the entire hard drive to a 
backup drive. A fully functional ver- 
sion of Second Copy is available for a 
free 30-day evaluation period. 

RKopie 3.0. The name may look 
and sound foreign (it's Dutch for 
"backup"), but you would most likely 
guess that "kopie" means you can 
copy critical files for easy recovery 
should you ever need to use these 
backup copies. RKopie (free; home.hcc 
features a user-friendly interface, a 
wizard for creating backup jobs, 
along with the ability to drag and 
drop files while creating backups. 
Plus, it will identify and delete re- 
dundant files in your backup archive, 
as well as compress compatible files. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 55 


Cover Story 

The application contains two notable 
limitations — it backs up no more 
than 65,535 files, and the archives 
can't be larger than 4GB — but it has 
no time or functionality limitations. 

Registry Cleaning 

Registry First Aid 4.3.1. Over time, 
as you install and uninstall programs or 
simply use your PC, your Registry be- 
comes clogged with bits of computer 
gunk — remnants of files that clutter the 
database and slow down performance. 
Registry First Aid from InfiniSource 
comes to the rescue and heals what 
ails your system. 

The application's wizard-like 
interface walks you through diag- 
nosing your Registry's invalid or 
bad entries and scanning the hard 
drive for missing files. It also of- 
fers a cure by showing you which 
items need attention, and it pro- 
vides prevention in the form of its 
ability to save a backup copy of 
the Registry before you attempt 
any fixes. The shareware agree- 
ment states that unregistered users 
may evaluate Registry First Aid for 
a period of 30 consecutive days, 
after which they must uninstall the 
program or register a copy. 

Registry Mechanic 5.2. One of 
the most popular Registry cleaner ap- 
plications, with more than 300,000 
downloads each week, PC Tools' 
Registry Mechanic ($29.95 per year; is an extremely 
user-friendly shareware program. It 
promises to leave your Registry as 
clean as the application's interface, 
which has easy-to-use buttons for 
scanning your Registry, improving 
your system's performance, and com- 
pacting and optimizing your Reg- 
istry. You can reverse changes made 
while using the software, thanks to 
the backup it performs with every 
Registry alteration. 

The full version of Registry Me- 
chanic is available only on a yearly 
subscription basis, but the subscription 

price also includes free customer sup- 
port via email and unlimited upgrades. 
Or you can download the free version, 
which has limited functionality. 

TweakNow RegCleaner Standard 
2.6.9. If paying nothing for a decent 
program excites you, you'll really be 
enthused about TweakNow Reg- 
Cleaner Standard (free; tweaknow 
.com). This application, which is free 
to those who do not use it for com- 
mercial purposes, identifies obsolete 
entries in your Registry, automati- 
cally creates a backup file, and then 
deletes those outdated or inaccurate 
entries. It's easy to use, too; the 

Recommended for ordinary users, and the best way for most people to try the program: 

Great for experienced computer users: 

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Another good choice for most people, and usually smaller than the two options above: 

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Protect your data by using a backup application such as 
Backup To DVD/CD from Willow Creek Software. 

simple interface has two scan modes 
(Quick Scan and Custom), two user 
modes (Beginner and Expert), and a 
large Clean Now button. 

The software developer touts the 
program's speed, but you can test 
those claims for yourself by trying 
out the free online demo. For a more 
comprehensive program, be sure to 
investigate RegCleaner Professional. It 
costs $24.95, but it includes a more 
powerful Registry scan engine and has 
a Registry Defragmenter, the latter of 
which organizes and rewrites scat- 
tered parts of a file for the purpose of 
maximizing information storage. 

NTREGOPT, NT Registry Opti- 
mizer. Don't let the name fool you 
because only part of it is correct: 

NTREGOPT is a Registry optimizer 
that works on Windows NT systems, 
but it also works on Windows XP and 
Windows 2000 systems. 

NTREGOPT (free; www.larshed 
scans your Registry and re-creates each 
hive (also known as a node, a subtree, 
or a handle key) from scratch, elim- 
inating any extra space. The app 
doesn't alter any contents, nor does it 
defragment your Registry files. Instead, 
it compacts the Registry to the smallest 
possible size. 

System Optimization 

Advanced System Optimizer 

v2. A Registry cleaner can be a 
great cure for a lethargic system, 
but it isn't the only type of soft- 
ware that can help. General opti- 
mization tools also can get your 
PC back into shape, and that's just 
what Systweak's Advanced System 
Optimizer ($39.95; 
has in store for your system. This 
suite of 30 tools carries a melange 
of system information tools, opti- 
mization tools (Windows Opti- 
mizer, Memory Optimizer, and 
Registry Defragger & Optimizer), 
cleanup tools (System & Disk 
Cleaner, Startup Cleaner, Auto- 
run Manager, and Find Duplicate 
Files), and more. Download its 30-day 
trial version to see how it works for 
your system. 

Smart PC 3.3. Fix, clean, optimize, 
and protect your PC: These are the 
four main goals of the Smart PC pro- 
gram. On the repair side, Smart PC 
($29.95; tweaks 
your Registry for optimal perfor- 
mance and fixes invalid shortcuts in 
the Start menu or on the Desktop. On 
the cleaning side, the program re- 
moves junk and duplicate files, pro- 
tects personal data, and cleanses your 
Registry. On the optimize side, the 
application fine-tunes several Win- 
dows settings. And on the protection 
side, it eliminates hidden files gener- 
ated by your Web surfing habits. 

56 July 2006 / 


Cover Story 

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For a more high-powered applica- 
tion, consider Smart PC Professional 
($49.95), which has some useful ad- 
vanced features, such as the ability to 
clear out autofill information (data 
automatically entered into online 
forms). Or you can compare both 
versions via their 30-day free trials. 

StartUp Organizer 2.8. Even 
though all-in-one tools can be valu- 
able, there are times when you simply 
want one tool that does one thing 
really well. That's where StartUp 
Organizer from MetaProducts ($25; steps in. 

When you start your PC, a myriad 
of unnecessary programs can slow 
down your startup process, and it 
isn't always easy to identify or disable 
them. StartUp Organizer helps you 
figure out which programs are run- 
ning, how to safely deactivate the 
unneeded ones, and how to make 
backup configurations. Plus, you can 
skip programs with basic keyboard 
strokes, change the order in which 
programs launch, or time it so some 
programs are delayed when running 
consecutively. You also can evaluate 
the program for 30 days for free be- 
fore you are required to purchase a 
registration key. 

System Information & 

ASTRA32. If simply knowing how 
much free drive space you have isn't 

enough, you can really "geek out" 
with Sysinfo Lab's ASTRA32 ($29.95; In a Windows- 
like interface, ASTRA32 can give you 
details about items on your PC that 
you may not even have known you 
had. It serves up data on the CPU, 
motherboard, display, video card, 
sound card, NIC (network interface 
card), printer, hard drives, installed 
programs, DVD devices — and the list 
goes on. It also includes a trou- 
bleshooter for drivers, and it can 
run in batch mode. If you're 
looking for a similar but less ex- 
pensive (as in, free!) program, 
download the demo version to 
receive basic hardware and soft- 
ware detection. 

Control Runner 3.1. Every 
Windows PC has a Start menu, 
and almost every PC has a Start 
menu that's become so cluttered 
that its user can't find anything. 
If you're using a PC with what 
seems like a gazillion installed 
programs and you want easier ac- 
cess to some or all of them, Mom- 
Soft's Control Runner ($29.95; mom can be of assistance. This 
application lets you group related ap- 
plications and documents and launch 
any of them with just a couple of 
mouse clicks. 

Users who consider themselves to 
be "visual learners" will appreciate 
the way Control Runner organizes the 
PC's Desktop. Many users also will 

appreciate the dozens of skins from 
which they can choose. Check it out for 
youself with the free 45 -day trial period. 

Disk Watchman 1.8. It has happened 
to most of us at one time or another: 
You want to install a new program, and 
although you know your PC meets 
most of the system requirements, you 
have no idea how much free drive space 
is available (even though you vaguely 
remember how to find that information 
within Windows). Disk Watchman 
from MetaProducts ($27; metaproducts 
.com) puts that information right at 
your fingertips. Not only does it tell you 
how much free and used drive space 
you have at any point in time, it also 
sends alerts when drive space is low. 

In addition, the program includes 
a tool for finding drive space re- 
serves, and it quickly and easily 
walks you through the process 
of freeing up space consumed by 
temporary, duplicate, or unneeded 
backup files. Like many other Meta- 
Products applications, this one is 
available on a free 30-day trial basis, 

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Control Runner helps you organize programs 
and data in a visual manner. 

after which you'll need to buy a reg- 
istration key. 

NikNak. If nothing else, we'd want to 
include NikNak in our roundup of 
useful freeware and shareware simply 
because it has a fun name, but, of 
course, there's plenty more to it than 
that. NikNak (free; 
.nz/niknak) is a utility that can keep you 
on top of your system resources. The 
dockable bar sits on your Desktop and 

Smart Computing / July 2006 57 


Cover Story 

displays, among other items, your CPU 
usage, memory usage, free hard drive 
space, as well as the date and time. Plus, 
it tells you the exact data transfer speed 
of files you download from — or upload 
to — the Internet. In addition, add up 
to 90 programs to your QuickStart 
menu and access them via tiny buttons 
in the interface. 

Data Recovery 

Handy Recovery 3.0. We all make 
mistakes or experience setbacks; and 
sooner or later, many users are bound 
to delete critical data or have it deleted 
for them through a virus attack. To 
get back that data, consider using 
Handy Recovery from SoftLogica 
($30; Handy 
Recovery is a user-friendly program 
that helps you discover and recover 
lost files by letting you browse your 
hard drive just as you would with 
Windows Explorer — the difference 
being that you also can see deleted files 
and folders. 

Find out what Handy Recovery 
can do by downloading the free 30- 
day demo version. The demo will let 
you experiment with all the applica- 
tion's features, however, it cannot 
recover more than one file each day. 

Recover Lost Data 2.0.3. One of 
several useful applications from 
StompSoft (we also recommend 
that you check out Easy PC Trans- 
fer [$39.99] if you regularly need 
to transfer data from one PC to an- 
other), Recover Lost Data ($39.99; is a consumer- 
friendly program that — you guessed 
it — recovers lost data. To do so, it scans 
your system for missing email mes- 
sages, family photos, work presenta- 
tions, and other valuable files through 
an intuitive wizard. And if you're in 
distress mode, you can always rely on a 
friendly voice via free phone support. 

StompSoft offers free evaluation 
versions of the two programs (but in 
the case of Easy PC Transfer, the demo 
is limited to 30 days), and although 
these evaluation versions will let 
you explore the interface and features 
of Recover Lost Data and Easy PC 
Transfer, they won't allow you to actu- 
ally recover your lost files or transfer 
your files and settings — unless you 
purchase the full version to do so. 

Recover My Files 3.94. When a 
file has been accidentally deleted, it's 
easy to panic, but it's essential to keep 
your cool when trying to locate 
it. Recover My Files from GetData 


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If you ever find yourself wanting to "undelete" 
data, consider Recover Lost Data. 

helps you do just that. This method- 
ical application scans your hard drive 
and other media, including Zip disks 
and memory cards for digital cam- 
eras, and lets you preview the files be- 
fore restoring them. 

Other features include the ability to 
recover data on formatted hard drives 
after reinstalling Windows, restoring 
files after a hard drive crash, and res- 
cuing files after a partitioning error. 

We recommend that you visit the Web sites mentioned here 
and try out the free demos that most of these developers offer. 

To try out the software, download the 
demo version, which allows you to 
run the program and learn which files 
Recover My Files can recover. Then, 
once you purchase a product activa- 
tion key, the program will fully re- 
cover those files without requiring 
you to perform a second search. 

IsoBuster 1.9. Uh-oh. You know 
pictures from that once-in-a-lifetime 
vacation are stored on a CD, but 
where did they go? IsoBuster from 
Smart Projects ($25.95; www.iso will show you. This CD 
and DVD data recovery program 
reads "bad" CDs and DVDs and 
shows you all the tracks and sessions 
stored on the discs. 

IsoBuster supports all CD/DVD 
formats and most CD/DVD file sys- 
tems. Smart Projects also claims 
that people around the world use 
IsoBuster to restore everything from 
three decades of genealogical data to 
a year's worth of business emails. 
The program is free to try. The demo 
contains a Free Functionality button, 
and if you want to use other features, 
it prompts you to buy a registered 
copy. You can register your down- 
loaded copy online, or you can buy 
a CD for an additional $10. Buying 
a CD covers CD-creation and ship- 
ping costs, but it doesn't cover the 
program registration. 

Take A Few Test Drives 

As much as it pains us to say this, 
we'll admit that sometimes a written 
description can't fully portray an ap- 
plication's features. We recommend 
that you visit the Web sites mentioned 
here and try out the free demos that 
most of these developers offer. Often a 
demo is the best way to determine 
whether a program will meet your 
needs. And once you have your PC 
in order, you can get back to the oth- 
er important tasks on your list, such 
as calling the dentist for that long- 
overdue appointment. II 

by Heidi V.Anderson 

58 July 2006 / 


Low-Cost & No-Cost Apps That 
Make Web Surfing A Breeze 


Because Windows PCs include 
Internet Explorer and basic 
networking functionality, 
many users don't look beyond those 
readily available tools when it comes 
to using their Internet connection. 
That's a big mistake because there are 
hundreds of useful shareware and 
freeware utilities that can enhance 
your existing Web browser, improve 
the speed of your network, and opti- 
mize the time you spend with your 
connection. There also are tools that 
help you subscribe to news feeds, de- 
livering fresh Web content directly to 
your Desktop — a feat that typically 
would require visiting dozens of sites. 
The problem is that there are so many 
of these programs and utilities from 
which to choose, but that's where we can 

help. Whether you're looking for 
an alternative to IE, a toolbar 
that plugs into your existing 
browser to boost its functionality, a 
news reader, or a network-optimizing 
utility, we'll tell you what the best op- 
tions are in each category. Surprisingly, 
most of the winners are absolutely free, 
so there's no reason you can't try a few 
of these choices yourself. 

Alternative Web Browsers 

Firefox. Even though Firefox (free; doesn't have 
the massive market share that IE en- 
joys, we want you to know that Firefox 
is an outstanding alternative browser 
that's packed with features. In fact, 
Firefox used tabbed browsing long be- 
fore Microsoft considered adding that 
functionality to IE. (For those of you 
who haven't yet used tabbed browsing, 
it's a handy way to open multiple Web 
pages in the same browser window and 
switch among the pages by clicking 
tabs assigned to each page.) 

Firefox has an incredible 

number of free add-ons 

that truly enhance its 

functionality. For 

example, take note of 

the media player controls 

and weather info at the 

bottom of the window. 

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In addition, Firefox is very secure 
and supports several advanced fea- 
tures, such as extensions and an inte- 
grated pop -up ad blocker. Extensions 
are add-ons that integrate directly 
with Firefox to add new features or to 
enhance features that already exist, 
and there are hundreds from which to 
choose. Some of our favorites include: 
Forecastfox, which displays current 
weather conditions in the browser 
window; FoxyTunes, which lets you 
control a music player directly from 
the browser window; and Mouse 
Gestures, which lets you navigate 
through pages and close tabs by using 
mouse movements instead of clicking 
buttons. You can access extensions by 
opening the Tools menu, clicking 
Extensions, and clicking Get More 
Extensions; you also can update your 
existing extensions by clicking Find 
Updates in the Extensions window. 

Opera. With Internet Explorer and 
Firefox available for free for so long, 
the commercial version of Opera 
(free; has long been 
restricted to a small but growing base 
of rabid adherents. Now that the full 
version of the browser is available for 
free, everyone should give it a shot. 
Opera is a very stable, feature-packed 
browser that has the most advanced 
tabbed-browsing features on the 
market. It also comes with an inte- 
grated pop -up ad blocker. 

One great feature that Opera sup- 
ports is the Wand, which keeps track 
of all the usernames and passwords 
you use on various sites and grants 
one-click logins when you visit those 
sites. It even stores multiple login 

Smart Computing / July 2006 59 


Cover Story 

details for the same page, so if 
there are multiple family mem- 
bers who all have the same Web- 
based email service, for example, 
each person can log in to his ac- 
count quickly by selecting the ap- 
propriate Wand entry. 

Opera also offers a lot of cus- 
tomization options, and one of 
the best is the Fit To Window 
Width setting found in the View 
menu. Once selected, Web pages 
will automatically scale to a larger 
or smaller size to fit the width of 
the window you currently have 
open, so you can see everything 
without having to mess with hor- 
izontal scroll bars. If you want to 
completely customize the browser's 
appearance, open the Tools menu, 
click Appearance, and use the tabs to 
modify nearly every aspect of Opera. 

Browser Toolbars 

Google Toolbar. Many toolbars 
simply clutter your Web browser's in- 
terface with a multitude of icons that 
aren't very useful, but the Google 
Toolbar (free; is a 
notable exception. It lets you execute 
Google searches directly from the 
toolbar and maintains a drop-down 
list of previous searches that are al- 
ways just a few clicks away. A pop -up 
ad blocker is included, as is an in- 
valuable spell checker. The Google 
Toolbar even makes it easy to translate 
foreign pages into English (although 
the technology is still quite crude). 

One of the handiest features is 
AutoFill, which lets you fill in most 
Web forms with a single click. To set it 
up, click Settings, click Options, select 
the AutoFill checkbox, and click Auto- 
Fill Settings. Enter all the info and click 
Add/Edit Credit Card if you want to 
store that number, as well. When Web 
pages request a credit card number, 
you'll have to enter a password before 
AutoFill supplies it, which adds a nice 
layer of security without causing any 
inconvenience when you want to use 
AutoFill for other types of forms. 

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Opera's Wand tool, an autofill feature, makes the 
process of filling out online forms a snap. 

Google just released a version of its 
toolbar for Firefox, so be sure to 
check it out if you use that browser. 

Yahoo! Toolbar. If you use any of 
Yahoo! 's online services, you might as 
well install the Yahoo! Toolbar (free;, which pro- 
vides access to nearly every aspect of 
your Yahoo! Mail account and alerts 
you when new messages arrive. Plus, 
you can use Yahoo!'s extensive photo, 
video, news, Web, and other search 
engines, as well as check your Yahoo! 
Calendar and access practically all 
of Yahoo!'s other services and major 
categories directly from the toolbar. 

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Send part of a page using Gmail, 

Restore Defaults... 

The Google Toolbar is a component that's 
completely customizable, in addition to 
offering spell check and translation features. 

The default configuration 
comes with an overwhelming 
number of buttons, but it's easy to 
customize things using a handy 
Web-based interface. Just click 
the pencil icon next to the search 
field, expand Personal Options, 
click Add/Edit Buttons, and dese- 
lect the checkboxes next to the 
various entries you want to elimi- 
nate from the toolbar (or select 
the checkboxes beside any items 
you want to add), and click Fi- 
nished to apply the changes. You 
also can click Change Layout, se- 
lect an entry, and then click the 
arrow buttons to change the order 

in which the selected entry appears on 

the toolbar. 

News Feed Programs 

BlogBridge. BlogBridge (free; www isn't only free; it's 
also an open-source application, 
which means that there's a large com- 
munity that actively develops and 
adds new features to the software on 
an ongoing basis. The software lets 
you subscribe to nearly any type of 
news feed and blog, and it comes with 
a large number of built-in feeds to get 
you started. Best of all, many of the 
feeds that come with the software are 
hand-picked by experts in various 
categories, so even if you're new to 
the whole news feed and blogging 
thing, you don't have to separate the 
wheat from the chaff yourself. 

To subscribe to a new feed, either 
click the Subscribe To Feed button and 
manually type the address of the feed 
you'd like to add or navigate to the 
feed using your Web browser, find the 
button you need to click to access the 
feed, drag the button into the Feeds 
pane of BlogBridge, and drop it there. 

FeedDemon. FeedDemon ($29.95; 
.aspx?ProdID=FeedDemon) might cost 
money, but it's among the most pow- 
erful and easy-to-use news feed readers 
we've tested. The interface is incredibly 
clean, using one pane to display all of 

60 July 2006 / 


Cover Story 

your subscriptions and another (much 
larger) pane to display the actual feeds. 
Use the Content menu to display the 
entire feed for extensive reading, show 
shorter excerpts from each entry for a 
quick overview, or list simple headlines 
to compress the entire feed into a very 
small amount of space. Icons let you 
mark each entry as read, so it won't 

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BIogBridge collects all of your favorite blogs and news 
feeds and puts them in one convenient place. 

appear again or flag each entry in order 
to create a collection of favorite or 
grouped entries for easy filtering. 

Another bonus is that if you have a 
NewsGator account (www.newsgator 
.com), you can easily synchronize your 
subscriptions at that popular free ser- 
vice with your FeedDemon software. 
Just enter your NewsGator account 
info during FeedDemon's installation 
routine, and the program automatically 
takes care of everything. 

Network & Internet 

CableNut. If you have cable or 
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) broad- 
band Internet access, CableNut (free; can make the 
connection work faster and in a more 
streamlined manner, but at first 
glance, the software may seem too in- 
timidating for the uninitiated. 

After downloading and installing the 
apps, double- click the CableNut icon 
and the Adjuster.exe icon. Don't be 

scared by all of those empty text boxes 
because the software comes with several 
templates that will automatically tweak 
the connection. Click File, click Open 
Custom Settings File, double-click the 
CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) folder, and 
then double-click the folder that 
matches up with the type of connection 
you have. (Choose the 56K option for a 
dial-up connection.) This dis- 
plays the various templates, 
which end in fast_2k.css, 
fast_9x.css, normal_2k.css, and 
normal_9x.css. Try out one of 
the "fast" options, using the 
one that ends in 9x if you have 
Windows 95/98/Me or using 
the one that ends in 2k if you 
have Windows XP. The sug- 
gested values for each entry are 
then displayed in the Manual 
Tweak Screen, and you can 
click Save To Registry and re- 
boot the computer to apply the 
new settings. 

If your connection is un- 
stable or doesn't work after 
using "fast" settings, perform the same 
steps we mentioned in the previous 
paragraph, but this time, select the 
"normal" template that corresponds to 
your Internet connection and OS (op- 
erating system). Just remember that 
you always have to reboot the com- 
puter to apply the adjusted settings. 

TuneUp Utilities. One of the nice 
things about paying for a tweaking 
program is that it tends to opti- 
mize just about everything. TuneUp 
Utilities (39.99; is 
no exception, and it makes it very 

ijj] Start Page 

Optimize Internet connection 

- e^=e ^ee:: ■,';■-■' 

easy to clean up your Internet con- 
nection and adjust nearly every other 
aspect of Windows to make your en- 
tire computer run more efficiently. 

But because we're focusing only on 
Internet-related software in this ar- 
ticle, we'll give you a brief rundown 
about how to change your online set- 
tings using TuneUp Utilities. Launch 
the software, click the Optimize & 
Improve entry on the left, and then 
click TuneUp System Optimizer. 
Next, click Internet Optimization in 
the Wizards box on the left and then 
use the Connection drop-down menu 
to select the type of Internet connec- 
tion you use. (Dial-up modems are 
supported, so don't feel left out if you 
still use one of these.) You may need 
to check with your ISP (Internet ser- 
vice provider) to see what the max- 
imum speed of your broadband 
connection is because the software 
makes different adjustments for a 
wide variety of speed ranges. 

Click Next, wait for the program to 
determine which settings will work 
best, and click Next again. Reboot the 
computer if TuneUp Utilities tells you 
to or simply click Finish if it doesn't, 
and your connection should run as 
efficiently as possible. 

Safety First 

These tools are just one half of the 
equation when it comes to accessing 
the Internet. The other, more impor- 
tant half is securing your connection, 
so be sure to check out our recom- 
mendations for shareware and free- 
ware that can handle that 
portion of the job in the 


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^Modern (56 Kbit or less) 


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"Security On Sale" article 
on page 52. II 

by Tracy Baker 

When using TuneUp Utilities, be 
sure to choose the connection 
speed that comes closest to the 
speed of your Internet connection. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 61 


o o a 

You didn't mean to, but somehow you managed 
to download malware onto your system. It can 
happen to anyone, but how do you get rid of 
it? If your computer has ever been infected with a 
pesky worm, virus, or other malicious intruder that 
you didn't know what to do about, check out 
our How To Get Rid Of articles in the Smart- Tech Support Center. You'll find 
numerous articles on how to remove worms and 
viruses from your system, as well as spyware, ad- 
ware, and other nuisances. 

Log in to Click the Tech 
Support Center link on the home page. 

Once in the Tech Support Center, scroll down to 
the Security & Privacy section. Click the How To 
Get Rid Of . . . link. 

Click the link for the item you are trying to re- 
move. You will then be taken to a full article 
that provides a description of the item and tells 
you how to tell if it's on your PC and how to 
eliminate it. Some articles provide helpful links 
to outside sources (Symantec, Microsoft, etc.) 
that can provide additional information on 
solving your problem. Check out these helpful 
articles today! 

Subscribers — make sure to add these helpful 
How To Get Rid Of . . . articles to your Personal 
Library by clicking the Add To My Personal 
Library link in the upper right of the article. 
Simply log in and when you find an article you 
would like to keep, click the Add To My Personal 
Library link at the top of the page. Create as many 
folders as you like to keep your information orga- 
nized and accessible. 

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; Rid Of Lop The ultimate computing resource. 

62 July 2006 / 


Email used to be a forum large- 
ly for casual conversation and 
funny stories. Today, we use 
email for a much wider array of 
tasks, such as scheduling meetings, 
exchanging business contracts, and 
making travel plans. Think for a mo- 
ment about all of the information 
stored in your email: addresses, 
phone numbers, important docu- 
ments, photos, and more. Now, con- 
sider for a moment how catastrophic 
it would be if this information were 
to vanish. 

If you regularly back up your email, 
you will likely never need to worry 
about such a situation. While it can be 
easy to forget or put off backing up 
your computer and email messages, 
all computer users should make it a 
priority. To help ease the backup 
process, we've taken a closer look at 
the steps required for a variety of 
popular programs. 

Before we can begin, you must un- 
derstand that there are two ways 
to retrieve email messages: You can 
access your messages using an e- 
mail program installed on your com- 
puter or using a Web site specific 
to your email provider. As with 
any backup, you should save the files 
to removable storage such as a CD 
for safekeeping. 

Email Programs 

There are many email programs 
available. So many, in fact, that we 
can't cover all of them in this article. 
Still, we will look at the steps re- 
quired to back up email from three 
popular programs. 

AOL. AOL software installed on 
your computer provides easy access to 
your AOL mail. Even though you're 

using the AOL program on your com- 
puter, your messages reside on AOL 
servers. As a result, you can access 
your AOL mail from the AOL pro- 
gram or from AOL's Web site. AOL 
automatically deletes messages stored 
on their servers after a limited amount 
of time. (Documentation in AOL's 
Help files is ambiguous as to how long 
this period of time is.) This makes reg- 
ular backups especially important to 
ensure you'll have a copy of your mes- 
sages when you need them. 

All new, unread emails are delivered 
to your New Mail folder in AOL 9.0 
Security Edition. They will stay in this 
folder for a limited time. After you 

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add-in for Microsoft Outlook to make 
quick work of saving your email and 
other Outlook data. 

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The Store Folder in Outlook Express 
contains all of your email folders 
and messages. 

read a message, it is transferred to the 
Old Mail folder where it will stay for a 
limited time. These folders reside on 
AOL's servers. Once time expires, 
AOL deletes your messages. 

In addition to automatically re- 
moving messages after a period of 
time, AOL limits the amount of your 
email storage space. For long-term 
storage, move messages from AOL's 
servers to your personal computer. 
AOL uses a folder called Saved On 
My PC to store permanent copies of 
the messages you elect to save. This 
folder is also known as a Personal 
Filing Cabinet, and it resides on 
your computer. 

Because the Personal Filing Cabinet 
contains the AOL messages you've 
elected to keep, this is the file you'll 
need to back up. To back up your 
Personal Filing Cabinet, navigate to 
Look for a folder called Organize and 
copy this entire folder to your backup 
media such as a CD or flash drive. 

In the event you need to restore 
your backup, copy this Organize 
folder and its contents to the C:\DOC- 
C_AMERICA ONLINE 9.0 location. 

Outlook. Microsoft Outlook stores 
not only your email messages, but 
also your calendar, tasks, and notes in 
a single file called a PST (Personal 
Folders) file. To back up your infor- 
mation in Outlook, download and 
run the Personal Folders Backup 
and search for Pfbackup.exe) add-in 
from Microsoft. 

This add- in gives you the ability to 
back up your email and other items 

Smart Computing / July 2006 63 


Back Up Your Email 

AOL's Saved On My PC folder contains the messages 
you've stored on your computer. 

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You can upgrade a standard Hotmail account using the Upgrade tab 
of the Options menu. 

at regular intervals. If you have mul- 
tiple PST files on your computer, the 
Personal Folders Backup program 
lets you schedule these files for 
backup, as well. 

After downloading and installing this 
add- in, start Outlook, navigate to the 
File menu, and select Backup. Once the 
Personal Folders Backup add-in begins, 
follow the on-screen menus to select 
which PST files to back up. 

In the event you need to restore 
your messages and other information 
from your PST file, open Outlook and 
navigate to the File menu. Here, select 
Open and choose Outlook Data File. 
Next, navigate to your saved PST file 
and click OK. 

Outlook Express. Although Micro- 
soft doesn't provide a backup utility 
for Outlook Express like it does for 
Outlook, it's easy to back up your 

messages. First, open Outlook Ex- 
press and navigate to the Tools 
menu. Select Options and then click 
the Maintenance tab. Next, click the 
Store Folder button and highlight the 
folder location. Press CTRL-C to 
copy this location to your Clipboard. 
Click Cancel and then click Cancel 
again to close the dialog boxes. After 
this, click Start and then click Run. 
In the Open box, press CRTL-V to 
paste the location and then click OK. 
You should see a listing of all DBX 
(files associated with Outlook Ex- 
press) files associated with your Out- 
look Express messages. Copy all of 
these DBX files to removable media 
for safe keeping. 

Should you need to restore your 
messages, open Outlook Express and 
select Import from the File menu. 
Then, click the Messages option and 
choose your version of Outlook Ex- 
press from the menu. Next, proceed 
through the remaining Import screens, 
including the screen that gives you the 
option to import all folders or a selec- 
tion of folders you choose. 

Web Mail Backup Options 

Web -based email offers a variety of 
features, including the ability to ac- 
cess your email at any time from 
an Internet-connected computer. 
However, because Web mail pro- 
grams store your messages on their 
servers, it can be difficult to back up 
your email. Although you can save 
an individual email message using 
the Save As command in Internet 
Explorer or another Web browser, 
this is an ineffective method for 
backing up large numbers of emails. 

For most Web-based email pro- 
viders, including the three we'll con- 
sider (Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! 
Mail), you'll need to forward or 
download your messages to a program 
such as Outlook Express and follow 
the instructions for backing up mes- 
sages from this program. 

Gmail. Of the three Web-based 
email services we cover in this article, 

64 July 2006 / 


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Gmail gives you the option to forward or enable POP downloading of your messages. 

Gmail is the only service to offer free 
mail forwarding for a basic account 
without the need for separate soft- 
ware. With Gmail, you can use the 
POP (Post Office Protocol) for- 
warding option or the POP down- 
load option. 

POP forwarding will redirect your 
messages to an email account of your 
choosing. To use this option, log in 
to your Gmail account and click the 
Settings link. Next, click the For- 
warding And POP tab. Select the 
radio button next to Forward A Copy 
Of Incoming Mail To and enter a 
destination email address. You'll 
then have the option to choose 
whether you want to keep, archive, 
or delete messages on the Gmail 
server after forwarding. 

If you receive a lot of spam, you can 
filter the messages before forwarding 
and delete those messages that don't 
meet certain criteria. To complete the 
setup, click Save Changes on the For- 
warding And POP tab. 

As an alternative to POP for- 
warding, you can also choose to 
download your messages to your local 
machine using the POP download 

option. After navigating to the For- 
warding And POP tab, select Enable 
POP For All Mail. You'll then need 
to decide if you want Gmail to keep, 
delete, or archive messages after down- 
loading them from Gmail. Finally, 
click Save Changes to complete the 
setup. If you need instructions for set- 
ting up your email program to work 
with POP download, click Configura- 
tion Instructions. 

MSN Hotmail. Microsoft's MSN 
Hotmail service lets you back up 
your email messages only if you pay 
for its MSN Hotmail Plus service 
-std), which costs $19.95 per year. If 
you'd rather not spend money to 
gain the additional features of Plus, 
consider using a third-party program 
to forward messages to an email 
address of your choosing. GetMail 
For Hotmail (free; 
/GetMail.aspx) has a simple interface 
and gives you the ability to automati- 
cally forward messages to another 
email account. 

Another program, WebMail Assis- 
tant ($39.99;, for- 
wards your Hotmail messages to a 

specified email account and has mail 
merge and spam filtering functions. In 
addition, WebMail Assistant works 
with both Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. 

However, because both of these 
forwarding options involve redi- 
recting your messages to a separate 
email account and then backing up 
the messages from a program such as 
Outlook Express, you won't be able to 
restore your messages to the Hotmail 
servers. Instead, you can restore your 
saved messages to the program you 
used to create the backup, such as 
Outlook Express. 

Yahoo! Mail. Like Hotmail, Yahoo! 
Mail doesn't provide an easy way to 
back up all of your messages using the 
free version of the service. Yahoo! Mail 
Plus ( ac- 
counts with backup functionality cost 
$19.99 per year. Like Hotmail, you can 
download a free program that will for- 
ward your messages to your PC. One 
such program is YPOPs! (free; www Alternatively, you 
can purchase a program such as 
WebMail Assistant that will provide 
features beyond a traditional email 
backup utility. Like Hotmail, because 
you are forwarding your messages to a 
separate email account for backing up 
with a separate program, you won't be 
able to restore the saved messages to 
the Yahoo! Mail servers. 

Rest Easy 

Although backing up a Web-based 
email account may require a few more 
steps than with a standalone program, 
it's worth the time to ensure you have 
a safe copy of your messages. Once 
you've backed up your email mes- 
sages, you can relax, knowing that if 
something should happen, you have a 
copy of your important messages. 
Keep in mind, however, that you 
should continue to back up your mes- 
sages on a regular basis to minimize 
the number of messages you will lose 
should something go wrong. II 

by Jennifer Johnson 

Smart Computing / July 2006 65 


Technology For Your Life. 


Each issue of First Glimpse covers 

the latest consumer electronics 

you'll find in stores and online. 

First Glimpse tells you what to 

get and where, and most 

importantly, we show you 

how to use these devices 

to fit your lifestyle. 

For more information, please call toll free at (800) 733-3809. 

Quick c - 4: 

Microsoft Word 2002 

Put Special Characters To Use 

Word Processing 


ou may find your standard computer key- meaning is often not readily apparent. However, 


A board comes up short when you want to sometimes the description isn't much help, either, 
place symbols or special characters in a docu- The Character Code and From blanks go to- 

2002 for 



ment. For example, you may need to place text gether and are used when you know the code 
from a non-English language, a mathematical op- number and the standard you want to use. The 
erator, a currency symbol, or a geometric shape. standards, available in the From drop -down 
Microsoft Word 2002 gives you the ability to menu, are Unicode and ASCII, 
place symbols or special characters that are un- The ASCII (American Standard Code for Infor- 
available on the standard keyboard. We will use mation Interchange) standard is ancient history in 
the term "special characters" to refer to both typography. ASCII has only 255 characters in its stan- 
symbols and special characters in this column. dard, but there's nothing wrong with using ASCII 
Each font has its own set of these special char- character codes if you learned them along the way. 

acters. Also, the Wingdings font, Unicode is a much more advanced standard 

5 | Srjecial Characters | 

free from Microsoft and included and continues to grow in the number of languages 


Valiant _-| Subset: | Latin Extended-Si jj 

with Word by default, is made up it supports through the efforts of the Unicode 












M d 












entirely or a wide variety or decora- Consortium. Unicode has been adopted as the of- 
















tive symbols. ficial standard by all the leading information tech- 
Special characters are useful nology enterprises, such as Apple, HP, IBM, 








y used symbols: 


/ |© H ► A |™ © £ ¥ |® 

± M<|>M 

when you have to, for example, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun, and many others. As 

EURO SIGN Character 

code: |20AC fr 


place the euro (€) symbol, but it can with ASCII, if the know the Unicode character 

!«-■■■:■! -™..> 

— 1 *- I 

also be used as a simple way to in- code, you can enter it in the Character Code box 

The Symbol 

dialog box 

provides access 

to special 

characters in all 

of the installed 

font types. 

sert a design element. Columns like 
this one that contain subheads often employ dec- 
orative symbols to set off each one, for example: 

► This subhead is marked by an arrow. 

Special characters can also be used as slugs to 
mark the end of an article, such as this. □ 

Start At Symbol Dialog Box 

Insert a special character by positioning the 
cursor in the text where you want the character to 
appear. Click Insert and Symbol to open the 
Symbol dialog box. Click the character you want 
to use and click Insert. 

There are two tabs in the Symbol dialog box: 
Symbols and Special Characters. Click the Special 
Characters tab. These characters are mostly of a typo- 
graphical nature, such as an em dash ( — ) or a para- 
graph symbol (H). Many of the characters have 
keyboard shortcuts, which are listed in the dialog box. 

Click the Symbols tab in the Symbol dialog box. 
Choose a font from the Font drop-down box and 
a Subset from the drop-down menu. The set of all 
available symbols appears in the center area. You 
may have to look through several fonts to find the 
symbol you want. Below the set of all available 
symbols is a strip of recently used symbols. 

A description of the symbol is given below the 
strip, which is valuable because the symbol's 

to go directly to the character you want. 

Insert Characters Quickly 

Select the character you want to use in the 
Symbol dialog box and click Shortcut Key. The 
Customize Keyboard dialog box opens with the 
symbol displayed. Place the cursor in the Press 
New Shortcut Key box and press the key combina- 
tion you want to use for the shortcut. Click Assign. 
The key combination shows in the Current Keys 
box. Click Close. If you want to delete the shortcut, 
open the Customize Keyboard dialog box, select 
the shortcut, and click Remove. 

You can also use AutoCorrect to replace typed 
text with a symbol you designate so that you don't 
need to open the Symbol dialog box each time. You 
can automatically have Word replace the word 
"euro" with the symbol for the currency as you 
type. Click Insert and Symbol and locate and click 
the euro (€) symbol. Click AutoCorrect. The euro 
symbol appears in the With box. Type euro in the 
Replace box and click Add and OK. Now whenever 
you type the word "euro," the symbol appears. 

Special characters are easy to work with. Get to 
know these processes, especially if you need to 
use them often. II 

by Tom Hancock 

Smart Computing / July 2006 67 

Quick Studies 

Image Processing 

Corel Paint Shop Pro 9 

Making The Transition From Version 8 To 9 


9 for 



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We're upgrading our coverage of Paint Shop 
Pro from version 8 to 9, so here's an over- 
view of some of the new features that we'll be 
delving into during the upcoming months. 

Interface Enhancements 

When you begin using Paint Shop Pro 9's 
palettes, the upgrades become obvious. For ex- 
ample, the Materials palette includes a Frame tab, 
which lets you choose colors with the help of hue 
and saturation rectangles, and the History palette 
lists the 250 most recent commands applied to an 
active image. You'll also have more control over 
how palettes display, such as setting them to slide 
open and close via a tab. 

Menu commands have changed slightly, as well. 
No longer will you have to search for the Color 
Balance, Contrast Enhancement, and Saturation 
commands because they're now standalone items. 
Plus, the One Step Photo Fix is featured in the 


Format JPEG 

Dimensions: 2048x1536 

Pixels per inch: 72.000 

Pixel depth: 24/16 Million 

File size: 045,994 Bytes 

File date: 8^1 6/2004 9: Ot 

Compression: Huffman ■ 9 tare 
Creator Data 

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■ ■ ' ■'.■'■." ■ :■:< • .'''.:'.' ■■■... ......■■.■ ..■. .. ; . .■ 

Paint Shop Pro 

9's interface 


include tabbed 

browsing of 

multiple images 

and an Info 

tab for the 

Image Browser. 

Adjust menu rather than being hidden under a 
toolbar button, and it's accompanied by the Photo 
Fix tool, which carries commonly used correction 
tools. Also, when you're working with multiple im- 
ages, you can display them in tabs across the top of 
the workspace and use intuitive forward and back- 
ward buttons to move among these images. 

Along with a new look, the software includes 
some fun new tools and makes improvements to 
familiar tools. One of our favorites is the novel set 
of Art Media tools, which let you use your PC to 
create artwork that resembles more traditional art, 
such as drawings created with chalk or an oil brush. 

The vector drawing, text, and cropping tools are 
cutting edge (pun intended!), too. The Crop tool, 
for instance, lets you shade the area outside the box 
and eliminate it completely. The Text tool lets you 
place text vertically or horizontally, and it prints 
cleaner text at smaller font sizes. But it's the vector 
drawing tools that contain the most updates. For 
example, the Preset Shapes tool has more arrows, 
flowers, gears, and other shapes, and you can create 
buttons and banners more easily with the new 
Rectangle, Ellipse, and Symmetric Shape tools. 

New Filters & Effects 

And when you need Paint Shop Pro to perform 
some "serious" work, such as correcting problems 
in your digital photos, that's where four new filters 
come to the rescue. The Digital Camera Noise 
Removal filter scrutinizes your pictures and re- 
moves image noise automatically. The Chromatic 
Aberration Removal filter is a long name for a tool 
that makes short work of the colored glow that can 
appear in digital photos. The Fill Flash filter is a 
one- step correction tool for fixing underexposed or 
shadowy areas in a photo. And the latter filter is 
complemented by the Backlighting filter, which 
fixes overexposed areas around a photo's subject. 

Although filters can fix photos, we recommend 
that you check out two new effects if you want to 
add some levity to your photos. Use Displacement 
Map to create two-dimensional or three-dimen- 
sional effects, or use Radial Blur to add spin, twist, 
or zoom effects. 

Miscellaneous Upgrades 

In the past, after you've transferred your files 
from a camera to your PC, you've probably used 
Paint Shop Pro's browser, which lets you view, 
open, and otherwise manage files. In version 9, the 
Image Browser has two tabs: Find and Info. The 
Find tab provides a view that's similar to the view a 
user had available in version 8, but the Info tab 
adds a lot of information about each image, in- 
cluding its file format, dimensions, and pixel depth. 

And when you're ready to print an image, you 
can use the Print Layout feature to add captions or 
titles to printed pages. II 

by Heidi V.Anderson 

68 July 2006 / 

Microsoft Excel 2002 

Quick Studies 
Problem Solver 



2002 for 



Finding Lost Information 

*] F* One " " E* »m IWPt TrWi &*■! wnta. 

Despite living in a world with Google, 
MapQuest, and little clips designed to hold 
socks together in the wash, we still lose stuff. 
Whether we're talking about our data or more 
tangible possessions, it all keeps wandering off 
into ever-changing nooks and crannies of our 
lives. Excel is a prime hiding place for all kinds of 
stuff we'd like to keep at our fingertips. Some- 
times it's an important stat we can't find in a 
large worksheet; sometimes, the worksheet itself 
goes AWOL on a hard drive. 

Whenever you lose track of anything in Excel, 
suppress your panic and consult the 
following tips. 

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Whether you've 

misplaced a 

number in a 

workbook or an 

entire file on 

your hard drive, 

Excel's Search 

(pictured) and 

Find tools will 

help you track it 

all down. 

mm 1 * 

Find Data In Workbooks 

Let's start with the basics: You know 
that somewhere in your vast worksheet 
of customer information are the re- 
cords for an old client, Mr. Won- 
derful, but you can't remember exactly 
how you organized everything. Fur- 
thermore, scrolling through hundreds 
of columns and rows doesn't sound ap- 
pealing. Find the information quickly 
by choosing Edit and Find to reveal the 
Find And Replace dialog box. 
In the Find What box, enter the text string 
you're looking for, such as Mr. Wonderful, and 
then click Find All. Excel moves the worksheet 
view to the first cell with the phrase in it and high- 
lights the cell. Also, the Find And Replace dialog 
box produces a little window that lists every occur- 
rence of the search text in the worksheet, along 
with the cell address where each one appears. Click 
an occurrence on the list to jump to that cell. 

This tool also works with numerical data. Let's 
say you can't find the information for the widgets 
that have serial number THX1138. You can use 
the Find tool to search for that string just as 
you'd look for text. 

What if you'd like to find all the items in the 
THX product line with one search — or can't re- 
member whether you organized information as 
Quarterly Reports or Quarterly Updates? In both 
cases, wildcard characters are the key. Searching 
for "THX*" produces any cells with a phrase 
starting with those three characters. A search for 
"Quarterly*" would turn up either example above. 

Those simple searches will solve a lot of your 
missing-information problems, but such basic 
lookups barely begin to demonstrate how finely 
the Find tool can sift information. Click the 
Options button to get serious about searching. 
Here you can specify that the search cover just 
the active worksheet or the entire workbook. You 
can set the search to find only text matching the 
case of your search term, to look in comments, as 
well as formulas, and more. You even can click 
the Format button and tailor the search for 
something such as cells formatted to show num- 
bers with three decimal places. And don't forget 
the Find feature's longtime partner: Replace. With 
that tab, you can swap out every instance of speci- 
fied data with something else. 

Find Data Anywhere 

Now let's say you can't even remember which 
file on your hard drive has Mr. Wonderful's infor- 
mation in it. Unbeknownst to many Excel users, 
the program includes a tool for seeking that phrase 
in any part of your hard drive (or network) you 
specify. Choose File and Search. In the Basic Search 
task pane, you can send Excel looking in any drives 
or folders for the magic phrase or number. Enter 
the text you're looking for in the Search Text box. 
The program is smart enough to look for common 
variations of words. So if you enter inventory, it 
will also turn up words such as inventories. 

To specify where the search takes place, click 
the drop -down arrow for the Search In box and 
then click the plus (+) and minus (-) signs to ex- 
pand and collapse folder views. Click the boxes 
next to the ones you want Excel to search. To 
speed up the search, click the drop-down arrow 
for the Results Should Be box and click the appro- 
priate boxes to limit the results to Excel files only. 

If you've never tried this tool, it's worth a look. 
It can be a tremendous time-saver compared to 
looking through files for a piece of information. 

Sometimes, you may be trying to open a file by 
choosing File and Open, only to find that you 
can't locate the file in your folders. You can 
search the hard drive right from this window by 
clicking the Tools button in the upper-right 
corner and then Search. II 

by Trevor Meers 

Smart Computing /July 2006 69 


Quick Studies 

Internet Explorer 
7 (Beta) 


Internet Explorer Beta Adds Tabs To Interface 

It's a long time in coming, but tabbed browsing 
is making its way into the standard Internet 
Explorer interface. IE7, in beta as of this writing, 
takes on tabs and does a good job of integrating 
this feature. IE wasn't the first browser to introduce 
tabs, but as the most recent browser to do so, 
Microsoft incorporates the latest in tab options. 

Tabs don't sound like much, but they can be- 
come fairly addictive. Rather than sort through 
multiple windows that continue to clutter your 
Desktop, tab-centric browsers can track several 
Web pages — all within the same screen. 

For example, you might want to keep your Web- 
based email page and your favorite news site open 
as you visit a few other random pages for browsing 
your interest du jour. A row of tabs — one for each 
open Web page — keeps everything in line. Click 
the tab of the page you want to see, and when you 
finish, click another tab. 

Run A Tab 

When you first open IE7, the title of the page 
displayed in the window appears in a rounded tab 

just below the toolbar. 


m • 3e»*-Obk*- 


You've Opened a New Tab 

i\frt are some quick rips Far workinn wirh Tabs. 

With tabs you can: 

• Spend lest tune switching between windows. 

• Open links In a hacfcnrounri ran whip vicmnq in* pane you're on. 

• Save and open multiple websites at ones by usina favorites and tame page tabs. 

• Press the CTRL fcev wh*e cilekjnn links, or use tfie imddle mouse button. 
. Click any Ub fifth the micldlt mouse button 10 dose It. 

• Press alt+eotbr from the address tar w search box w open the result m 

Internet Explorer 

7, now available 

in beta, adds 

tabbed browsing 

to lE's list of 


To open a new blank 
tab, click the smaller 
tab on the right edge 
of the last tab. Click 
a Favorite or type a 
URL into the Address 
bar to load the page 
you want associated 
with the blank tab. 
Each tab has its own 
close button in the 
upper-right corner, 
although you need to 
select a tab before it 
will appear. Or you can right-click a tab and choose 
Close from the menu that appears. (By the way, 
that menu also includes a command to close all 
of the tabs other than the one you clicked.) 

You can open a link directly into a new tab by 
pressing CTRL at the same time you click the 
link. For a mouse-only method, right-click a link 
and choose Open In A New Tab. The new tab 
opens in the background, so it doesn't block your 
view. You might open a batch of tabs, for in- 
stance, from the front page of a newspaper site 

and then look through them later after you've se- 
lected everything you want to read. 

If your row of tabs starts to get out of control, 
IE7 throws in a button that's designed to help. 
The Quick Tabs button, which appears on the left 
side of the tab row when more than one tab is 
open, actually works in two ways. 

First, you can click the small arrow (pointing 
downward) next to the button to see a list of page 
titles for all the open tabs. Select an item from the 
list to make that tab active. 

Second — and a more interesting option — is 
the button itself, which looks like four squares. 
Click the button to see the browser window dis- 
play thumbnails of every open tab, so you can get 
a quick idea of what they all look like. This op- 
tion is a great help if you have more tabs open 
than you know what to do with. 

From the Quick Tabs window, click a tab or 
close unwanted tabs by clicking the X in the upper- 
right corner of each picture. Right-click a thumb- 
nail to access a couple more commands, including 
Close Other Tabs and Refresh; the latter updates 
the tab's thumbnail with a new, up-to-the-minute 
capture of the Web site in question. 

Home Tab 

The addition of tabbed browsing opens up sev- 
eral opportunities for other aspects of IE7. For 
example, home pages can now become home col- 
lections of multiple pages that automatically open 
(all at once) when you click the Home button. To 
save a set of tabs as your home page collection, 
first open the tabs you want to designate, click 
the small arrow next to the Home button, and 
choose Change Home Page. When you see a 
small dialog box appear with three options, de- 
cide if you want to set your home page to only 
the active tab, add the active tab to your set of 
home page tabs, or use the entire set of open tabs 
as your home page. Click OK. 

Overall, we found the IE7 beta a bit more crash- 
prone than we're used to, even for beta software. 
This situation may have improved by the time you 
read this, but as of today, the new software is more 
suitable for merely experimenting with tabs and 
other features than it is for reliable browsing. II 

by Alan Phelps 

70 July 2006 / 


Quick Studies 

Google Desktop 3 

Search Your Personal Files From Anywhere 

The third version of Google's Desktop program 
( not only lets you 
search personal files on the PC in front of you, but 
it also lets you search files on your other com- 
puters — regardless of where the computers maybe. 
Once Desktop Search is installed and running on 
all of your machines, searching for files is simple; 
just launch your browser and run a search from the 
main Google page. If you pick search terms you 
know appear in your personal files on your com- 
puters), and assuming you've allowed enough 
time for your files to be indexed, Google's search 
results should include links to your personal files. 

If you'd rather not see your documents appear 
automatically among the regular search results, you 
can deactivate that feature. Click the Desktop link 
above the Google search field and click the small 
Desktop Preferences link next to the Search button. 
Next, click Display, scroll to the page's bottom, re- 
move the check mark from the Google Integration 

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ail and Search Across Co 

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Index and search my documents and viewed web pages from across all my computers. 

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- - : imputers 

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Google Desktop 3 

rolls out a 

new (and 


feature: searching 

for personal files 

across multiple 


option, and click Save Preferences. From here on 
out, you'll need to click Desktop near the search 
field to get search results from your computer(s). 

There are two key limitations to keep in mind. 
First, to search the files contained on your other 
PCs, you must make sure those computers have 
Google Desktop installed with your user ID and 
password entered and the Search Across Com- 
puters preference enabled on each one. Second, 
documents already indexed on a PC won't be in- 
cluded in searches on other PCs; thus, only the new 

files indexed after you activate Search Across 
Computers will be visible to Google Desktop on 
the other machines. What's nice — and a tad bit 
worrisome to some users — is that Google's ability 
to search across computers works even when your 
other PCs are turned off or are otherwise inacces- 
sible. That's right: You can still see search results 
from powered-down PCs, and you can even look at 
text versions (at the very least) of those files. 

This ability exists because Google keeps a copy of 
the index and cache from each machine on its 
servers. The idea that Google keeps copies of your 
files on its own computers understandably makes 
privacy-conscious folks a little squeamish. From a 
practical standpoint, it's highly unlikely anything 
bad will happen; in theory, though, no one can 
know that for sure. Much more likely than Google 
compromising your data is a scenario in which 
someone using one of your inter-Googled PCs 
runs searches that present your sensitive files. After 
all, it's pretty easy for just about anything to turn 
up in a list of search results, even if some other user 
of one of your PCs isn't actively looking for it. 
Google attempts to head off any serious problems 
by not indexing HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Pro- 
tocol, Secure) pages, which often include online 
banking sites. Even though your PC guests may 
not be able to sign in to your checking account, an 
active Google Desktop can allow them to see what 
pages you've been browsing online. 

Hide Or Seek 

To activate or deactivate the Search Across Com- 
puters function, right-click the Google Desktop 
logo, choose Preferences, click Gmail And Search 
Across Computers, and remove the Search Across 
Computers check mark. After doing so, Google 
Desktop will continue to function as a standalone 
search app for finding files on each PC, but it will 
no longer make those files available to other PCs. 

Rather than blocking all Google searches across 
your various computers, you also can set particular 
PCs to allow only certain categories of data to be 
searched from the Search Across Computers tab of 
the Preferences page. Wherever you ultimately de- 
termine your comfort level falls with Google 
Desktop, it's at least worth a bit of tinkering. II 

by Alan Phelps 

Smart Computing / July 2006 71 

vJUICK biUClieS 




20 for Windows 


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The Color Cop 

application is 

useful when you 

want to isolate 

colors that make 

up a complex 


Broderbund Print Shop Deluxe 20 

Match Colors To Unify Design 

The color of the 

stripes on the fish 

exactly match 

the color of the 


Sometimes you may find a piece of clip art in 
the Print Shop 20 Deluxe Art Gallery that you 
would like to use in a project, but its colors clash 
with graphics you already placed. In this case, it 
would be good to change at least some of the 
colors in the clip art to match the other graphics, 
thereby creating a more unified design. Print 
Shop doesn't have a function that does this di- 
rectly, but there are a few tricks you can use to 
achieve the effect. 

We will be using Print Shop's Art Gallery, the 
Advanced Drawing tool, and a freeware utility 
called Color Cop in this article. We will use 
the term "graphic" to refer to the main image in 
the project. 

There are two approaches to take, depending 
on whether the graphic you are trying to match 
the clip art to has a simple, solid fill or is a com- 
bination of colors. 

Solid Fills Are Easiest 

Create an empty project on 

the Design Desk. Now we will 

draw a simple shape to stand in for a graphic 

that you might use in a real project. Click 

Drawing Tools and choose Insert Shape. 

Choose a shape and fill it with a color by 
clicking the Fill Color bar. Do not use a blend or 
texture with the fill. You can choose a color in the 
first palette, click More to bring up another palette 
or click Define Custom Colors for the most com- 
plete choices. Whichever way you choose, you will 
need to bring up the Color palette by clicking 
Define Custom Color. We are interested in the 
numbers in the Red, Green, and Blue 
boxes at the lower right of the box. 
Note these values on a piece of paper. 
Click OK until you are back at the 
Design Desk, where you should now 
have the stand-in graphic. Open the 
Art Gallery and choose the clip art 
you want to use from the Computer CGM 
(Graphics Metafile) or WMF (Windows Meta 
File) sections. Right- click the graphic and click 
Copy. Close the Art Gallery. 

Click Drawing Tools and Advanced Drawing. 
Click Edit and Paste, and the clip art will appear 
on the workspace. Decide which object or objects 
in the clip art you want to match to the color of 

the stand-in graphic you just placed and click it. 
Hold down the SHIFT key and click your mouse 
to make multiple selections. You can also make 
multiple selections automatically by selecting an 
object and clicking Select and Similar. Deselect 
every box except Fill and Color and then click 
OK. All other objects in the clip art that are of the 
same color will be selected. 

Click the rainbow button at the bottom of the 
Advanced Drawing window. The Color palette 
will appear. Enter the RGB values you wrote 
down and click OK. The selected objects in the 
clip art will now have the same color of the 
graphic on the Design Desk. Save the clip art and 
close Advanced Drawing. Later, you can place the 
clip art on the Design Desk by clicking Insert and 
Import and locating the image. 

Multicolored Sources 

Matching colors when the graphic has a solid 
fill is straightforward, but what if the graphic is a 
painting or photo and has multiple colors? This is 
where the Color Cop application comes in. The 
free program, created by Jay Prall, is available 
from Color Cop 
has many useful features, but we are interested in 
the Magnifier. 

Place the graphic you want to use on the 
Design Desk and start Color Cop. Click the plus 
sign (+) next to the magnifying glass symbol until 
the maximum magnification of 16X is achieved. 

Click and drag the magnifier over the graphic. 
The colors that make up the magnified section ap- 
pear in the lower right of the Color Cop applica- 
tion as pixels. Release the mouse button when you 
find a set of colors that you think will look appro- 
priate as part of the clip art you are going to use. 

Click the pixel whose color you want to use, 
and the RGB values will appear in the upper left 
of the application. Write down the values and 
proceed as you did above by opening the clip art 
in Advanced Drawing, selecting the objects in it 
you want to change, and applying the RGB values. 

It would be great if we were all artistic ge- 
niuses, but matching colors across graphics the 
way we have described at least contributes to a 
unified look. II 

by Tom Hancock 

72 July 2006 / 

Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Quick Studies 



2002 for 



Customizing Buttons 


It doesn't take much PowerPoint experience be- 
fore you realize buttons are one of the most re- 
liable ways of working with the program. A click 
of the correct button provides access to functions 
that might otherwise be two or three layers deep 
in menus. Take a few minutes to learn how you 
can tailor buttons to your work style. 

Move Buttons 

PowerPoint's designers may know a lot about 
how people use software, but the programmers 
don't have divine inspiration about where to put 
everything. So if you think the spell check button 
would really make more sense if it lived beside 
the Save button, you can move it there. Hold 
down the ALT key as you click the button, drag it 
to a new spot, and drop it there. If you'd like a 
button available in multiple locations, copy it to 
additional toolbars. Hold down the ALT and 

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Window and Help 


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Name: Spi&n Button 

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Button Image 

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Have PowerPoint 

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by rearranging 

them, eliminating 

those you don't 

use, or even 

changing the 

graphic that 

appears on the 


CTRL keys as you click the button and then drop 
the copy in its second home. 

When you rearrange buttons, you may find it 
useful to arrange them inside some of those faint 
little lines. Choose Tools and Customize. While the 
Customize dialog box is open, right-click a button 
and choose Begin A Group. The line appears to the 
left of the selected button. 

Delete Buttons 

When you're in a housekeeping mood, it may 
be time to get rid of a few of those buttons you 

never touch. You can send them to sleep with the 
fishes just by dragging them off the toolbar when 
the Customize dialog box is open. 

Create Buttons On A Custom Toolbar 

Everyone has a handful of buttons they use most 
often. Maybe you'd like to put them all together in 
a single toolbar with a clever name such as My 
Favorite Buttons. Choose Tools and Customize, 
and on the Toolbars tab, click New. Enter a name 
for your toolbar and click OK. It will appear on the 
PowerPoint screen with no buttons. To place but- 
tons there, use the copying instructions above. 

Change Button Size 

If you've ever lowered your monitor's resolu- 
tion setting, you know the sensation of suddenly 
seeing everything on-screen about 50% larger 
than usual. For anyone who gets tired of squint- 
ing at their screen all day, it can be a revelation. 
A similar trick is available in PowerPoint. To 
make all the toolbar buttons bigger, choose Tools 
and Customize, and on the Options tab, check the 
Large Icons option. It looks pretty odd — as 
though the interface for kids' software has taken 
over your screen. But if you don't like hunting for 
buttons, this could be the answer for you. 

Change Button Images 

Open the Customize dialog box and click the 
button you want to change. On the Commands tab, 
click Modify Selection and Change Button Image. 
The little window that pops up lets you choose from 
42 icons. You also can give a button an image of 
your own. Copy the new image to the Clipboard, 
and follow the above steps, but choose Paste Button 
Image instead of Change Button Image. You can al- 
ways get the original image back by clicking Modify 
Selection and Reset Button Image. 

Restore Buttons 

If your extreme makeover gets out of control, it's 
easy to go back. Open the Customize dialog box, 
click the name of a toolbar, and click Reset. II 

by Trevor Meers 

Smart Computing / July 2006 73 

Quick Tips 

Secrets For Succeeding In Common Tasks 

by Stephen J. Bigelow 

Burning CDs 



I have trouble burning audio CDs 
through Rhapsody — sometimes there are prob- 
lems with the burn. Is there any way to fix this? 

Answer: Bad burns can come from a number of 
sources, but it's easy to check for problems. With 
Rhapsody running, click Tools and Preferences 
and then select the CD Burning entry. In the 
Default CD Burner area, select the Enable Test 
Burn checkbox. This will cause Rhapsody to test 

the burn process without actually writing your 
blank CD. If the test runs properly, chances are that 
the problem is in your CD burner itself. Try dif- 
ferent media or try writing to a different drive. (For 
example, if you have multiple burners on your PC, 
try writing a CD through a DVD burner rather 
than an older CD burner.) If the test burn reports 
errors, try burning the CD at a slower speed and 
make sure that you're burning in the Disc- At- Once 
mode instead of the Track- At- Once mode. 

i: Can I use Internet Explorer to block 
unwanted Web sites rather than purchase third- 
party security software? 

Answer: IE provides security features that you can 
use to allow or block unwanted Web sites. This 
can be particularly handy when there are just a 
handful of sensitive sites for a parent to manage 

(such as With IE running, click 
Tools and Internet Options and select the 
Security tab. Highlight the Restricted Sites icon 
and click the Sites button. Enter the Web site 
URL in the space provided and click Add to place 
the site on your blocked list. You can enter and 
add other sites if necessary and then click OK to 
save your changes. 

Should I write my passwords down 

Answer: Writing down your passwords can easily 
defeat the purpose of having them in the first 
place, but without knowing your passwords, a 
trusted friend or family member will have a hard 
time taking care of your affairs in case you get 
hurt. Far too many people write their passwords 
on sticky notes and then just stick them on the 

monitor for all to see. That's a bad idea. But not 
recording your password at all can also be risky. 
Consider a compromise — write your critical pass- 
words down on paper and place that piece of 
paper in a safe or other secure location known 
only to a spouse or other trusted individual who 
you would want to access your sensitive accounts 
in an emergency. Always remember to change 
your critical passwords regularly and remember 
to update your password list accordingly. 

My Library 


.!•-•■.. i 


■ Server (UPnP) 

Selected CD Burner : [(E:) _NEC DVD+-RW ND -3450A v| 
Selected burning speed : Fastest Available 

. . : , . ......... 

Burn Method: 

© Disc-at-once (burns 

..'- . - . ;..:':.:■.:■ 

O Track-at-once (bur 

s single tracks) 

[ Cancel 

Use the CD 
menu to 
help isolate 
and correct 
CD burning 

Internet Explorer 
lets you block or 
allow specific 
Web sites without 
having to rely 
on third-party 
security software. 

74 July 2006 / 

Quick Tips 

File & Data 





i: Why are files still recoverable after I've 
deleted them? Is there a way for me to make sen- 
sitive files unrecoverable? 

Answer: Drive space is not a single empty field 
waiting for data. In reality, drive space is divided 
up into small storage areas called clusters. When a 
file is stored, it is also broken up and allotted to 
fill free clusters across the drive. The FAT (file al- 
location table) only points to the first cluster used 
by the file — that first cluster points to the second 
cluster used by the file, the second cluster points 
to the third, and so on. When you delete a file, 
you're not actually erasing the file's data. Instead, 
you're simply telling the operating system that the 

clusters involved in that file are free for reuse. So 
if you save a new file to the drive, that new file 
can overwrite some of those freed clusters. Data 
recovery utilities work by re-establishing the FAT 
connections to the clusters used by the given file. 
As long as you don't overwrite any of the clusters 
used by the file, it's possible to undelete the file. If 
overwriting has occurred, it may not be possible 
to undelete the entire file, but the file's data will 
remain intact in any clusters that haven't yet been 
overwritten. The only way to truly erase a file is to 
completely overwrite the data in each cluster used 
by the file. There are numerous erasure tools that 
write patterns of data to each cluster, leaving the 
original file completely unrecoverable. 

Is it really worthwhile to attach larger 
antennas to my wireless router? 

Answer: Aftermarket antennas can provide better 
sensitivity and signal strength, thereby extending 
your wireless range or improving data through- 
put. The aftermarket antenna can be omni direc- 
tional (with equal strength/sensitivity in all direc- 
tions) or directional (with its best strength/ 
sensitivity in only certain directions). Before 

buying an antenna, make sure it is compatible 
with the device you plan to attach it to. While af- 
termarket antennas can benefit wireless net- 
working, it's virtually impossible to predict just 
how much that benefit will be in every case. 
Check the signal strength and throughput of your 
wireless stations before changing the antennas 
and recheck the performance characteristics after 
the new antennas are installed. Experiment with 
locations to find optimum placement. 

i: Every time I click a URL in a Word 
document, it launches the URL in a browser. 
How can I stop this from happening? 

Answer: Microsoft Word 2003 lets you invoke a 
CRTL- click scheme that prevents launching URLs 

automatically. With your document open in 
Word, click Tools and Options, select the Edit 
tab, and then check the Use CRTL + Click To 
Follow Hyperlink box. Click OK. Now clicking a 
hyperlink should just place a cursor at that loca- 
tion instead of launching a browser window. 

n: How can I get my spell checker to check 
words in uppercase? 

Answer: Microsoft Word 2003 provides a variety of 
options, including the option to check words in all 
uppercase letters. Click Tools and Options and 

select the Spelling & Grammar tab. By default, the 
Ignore Words In UPPERCASE box is checked, so 
the spell checker will ignore all-uppercase words. 
Deselect the box and click OK. Many users prefer to 
check spelling as an ongoing process, so also see that 
the Check Spelling As You Type box is checked. 

l: How can I resend an email without 
having to retype the entire thing again? 

Answer: With Microsoft Outlook 2003, open your 
Sent Items folder and double-click the desired 
email to open it in its own window. Click Actions 
and Resend This Message to open a duplicate 

message in another window. With this duplicate 
open, you can edit the message or subject line, add 
recipients, and make other changes to update the 
message. Click Send to place the duplicate copy into 
the Outbox, and click Send/Receive to get the copy 
on its way. Note that the instructions for resending 
a message in Outlook Express are not the same. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 75 

Ti d b 

Compiled by Jennifer Farwell 
Graphics & Design by Lindsay Anker 

Tablet PCs 

Lingering Fad 

Or Technology Of The Future? 

Since the early 1980s, when Nobel prize 
winner Dr. Charles Elbaum developed the 
NestorWriter handwriting recognizer, 
some technology experts (notably Micro- 
soft founder Bill Gates) have been talking 
up pen computers (now tablet PCs) as the 
future of computing. Unfortunately for 
the companies that lost millions of dol- 
lars investing in early devices, consumers 
failed to embrace inaccurate handwriting- 
recognition systems and the cumbersome 
devices that used them. 

Never Say Never 

Nevertheless, Gates kept the flame of pen com- 
puting alive. In 2001, when Microsoft debuted the 
first machine with the tablet PC moniker (running 
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition), interest in tablet 
PCs arose anew. This time around, tablet PCs fea- 
tured Digital Ink, a technology whereby users 
could use a stylus to write and edit on-screen and 
have the OS (operating system) either perform 
handwriting recognition (better than the 1980s 
technology, but still not perfect) or save the text as 
a digital file. 

The digital file replicated the original hand- 
writing but was fully searchable. The user could 
email it, open it in other Microsoft programs, or 
transfer it to another Windows PC. Vertical mar- 
kets (healthcare, real estate, and insurance are 
prime examples) took the bait, and analysts snap- 
ped to attention, but consumer acceptance was still 
less than enthusiastic. 

Powerful Acrobats 

Today's tablet PCs sport an improved version of the 
Tablet PC operating system (WinXP Tablet PC Edition 
2005) and enhanced deliveries of technologies Gates touted 
in 2002. For example, some devices now feature both 
stylus- and touchscreen-based selection and data capture; 
most offer an optional desktop docking station (some with 
extra ports); and many use a clamshell design with a 
swiveling display. 

The clamshell swivel design gives users two profiles: 
tablet (closed with display face up) and notebook (open 
with display perpendicular to keyboard). It also lets them 
fully close and protect the unit, like you would a notebook. 
Even more important for continued market penetration, 
analysts assert, tablet PCs have dropped in price substan- 
tially, yet companies are equipping them with more full- 
fledged notebook features, including powerful processors, 
huge hard drives, and CD/DVD drives. 

Many of today's tablets sport swiveling displays 
that extend their flexibility. (Shown is the HP 
Compaq tcllOO — $1,649; 

76 July 2006 / 

Virtually all tablets have a 
digital pen (stylus) for 
sketching or taking notes. 
Some also offer touchscreens. 

Although some tablet PCs use an 
on-screen or add-on keyboard, 
many current models offer 
notebook-sized keyboards, 
some of which are detachable. 

Lenova's ThinkPad X41 (starts at $1,799; 

Ready For Prime Time? 

At the 2001 tablet PC announcement, Gates said, "Within five years, I pre- 
dict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America." Likewise, tech 
consulting firm Gartner projected in 2003 that 35% of notebooks would have 
screen digitizers by 2007. Both predictions missed the mark, but the current 
forecast is good for tablet PCs. According to a 2005 report from research firm 
In-Stat, worldwide shipments of tablet PCs could reach $5.4 billion by 2009, 
up from $1.2 billion in 2004. 

Support from educational institutions may fuel the tablet fire, as well. 
Several schools, from elementary to college, have run pilot projects in the past 
few years, and in April, Virginia Tech announced that tablet PCs would be 
a technology requirement for all incoming freshmen to its College of 
Engineering. (The College of Business recommends, but does not require, that 
students use a tablet PC.) 

Furthermore, reviewers across the industry have reported falling in love 
with the little critters. One that recently drew good reviews was Toshiba's 
Portege M405 ($1,999; If you need a notebook and you 
have between $1,500 and $2,000 to spend, give the new tablet notebooks a 
peek. The features are robust and sound, and the tablet is more fun than an 

Motion Computing's LS800 ($1,699; is a half-sized 
notebook that can be docked with a monitor, 
keyboard, and CD/DVD drive. 

This Month In 
Tech Support 

Demystify Sleep Mode 
Ward Off Spyware 

Contributing Writers 

Rachel Derowitsch 

Gregory Anderson 


Next Month 

Clear Up Memory 

What To Do When .. . 

SP2 Causes 

Sleep Mode Problems 


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indows' Sleep Mode is an excellent way 

to save power when you're not using 

your system for an extended period of 

time, especially for battery-powered notebooks. In 

Sleep Mode, components such as your screen and 

hard drive turn off; you can awaken 

them to their previous state by moving 

the mouse or pressing a key, or on a 

notebook, by opening the lid. 

On its own, the Service Pack 2 up- 
date for Windows XP isn't reported to 
cause the Sleep Mode to quit func- 
tioning properly. But some users have 
noticed problems with the Sleep 
Mode, such as their system's inability 
to keep the proper time and date upon 
entering or exiting Sleep Mode, after 
installing SP2. 

It's possible that the presence of SP2 
combined with a third-party program 
or newly installed piece of hardware could be the 
culprit. As we'll see, the inability of Sleep Mode 
to work properly may not be the fault of SP2 so 
much as it may be a power manage- 
ment issue or conflicting drivers. 

Here are ways to resolve the pro- 
blem without uninstalling SP2. 

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Check Your Power Management 

Don't put your hard 
drive into Sleep Mode if 
your system has a hard 
time waking up from 
that mode. 

The root cause of Sleep Mode prob- 
lems often lies with a system's power 
management, so your first step should 
be to figure out which type of power 
management your system uses: APM 
(Advanced Power Management) or 
ACPI (Advanced Configuration and 
Power Interface). 
APM is the older management system. On 
computers that employ APM, the BIOS (Basic 
Input/Output System) takes charge of the man- 
aging the system's power levels. Newer computers 

use ACPI, a power management system that lets 
Windows control the power for all components of 
the system. You need to make sure the settings in 
BIOS are appropriate for the type of power man- 
agement system your computer uses. In ACPI sys- 
tems, a power management conflict between the 
BIOS and Windows could result in the inability to 
use Sleep Mode. 

To enter the BIOS, you need to press a key — 
such as DELETE or one of the function but- 
tons — just after you turn on your PC but before 
Windows starts. (The name of the BIOS-access 
key should flash on your monitor before you see 
the Windows logo, probably on the same screen 
in which you see the name of your computer's 
manufacturer.) Press that key and then scroll 
through the options to select Power. 

The Power screen will tell you whether your 
system uses APM or ACPI. If it's APM, make 
sure that the main APM option is on or enabled. 
If it's off, that may be the reason Windows 
"loses" the time and or date when you wake 
your system out of Sleep Mode. Other, less sig- 
nificant APM options, such as hard drive time- 
outs, do not have to be enabled. 

If your system uses ACPI, disable the power 
management options in BIOS if you're having 
trouble using Sleep Mode. ACPI allows for six 
power management levels, three of which are 
categorized as Standby. Standby is similar to 
Sleep Mode, but as we'll see, you can put your 
monitor and hard drive in Sleep Mode without 
putting your entire system on Standby. 

The categories of Standby are: 
SO — normal operating power 
SI — Standby; monitor and hard drives are off, 

but CPU and RAM are on 
S2 — Standby; CPU is turned off 
S3 — Standby; power is available only to RAM 
S4 — Hibernate; power is off, but contents of 

RAM were copied to the hard drive 
S5 — system completely off 

78 July 2006 / 


SP2 & Sleep Mode 

If a software 

publisher's Web 

site doesn't list 

an updated driver, 

try going to the 

Microsoft Update 

Web site. 

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In the BIOS, you may see only two 
or three of these options. That's OK, 
because computer manufacturers con- 
figure their systems differently — not 
all PCs are made to use all six levels. 

Reset Your Power Options 

Now that you've squared away the 
BIOS settings, set (or reset) the Power 
Options in Windows. It's possible that 
installing SP2 changed your default 
settings here and that alone is the 
source of your Sleep Mode glitches. 

To find out, open the Control Panel 
from the Start menu and double-click 
Power Options. On 
the Power Schemes 
tab, choose the cor- 
rect scheme from the 
drop-down menu 
for your system (ei- 
ther Home/Office 
Desk or Portable/ 
Laptop). What you 
select here affects the 
options below, but 
you can change these 
settings as you wish. 

A reasonable set- 
ting for a monitor 
is 10 to 20 min-utes. 
It's best to give your 
hard drive a longer 
amount of time before letting it enter 
Sleep Mode. Some users select Never 
for this setting. If you are having 
trouble with Sleep Mode, try using 
Sleep Mode for just your monitor. 

Below these settings you might 
see options for System Standby 
and possibly System Hibernate. As 

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Use the Device Manager to 
uninstall and then update 
conflicting hardware drivers. 

mentioned, you 
don't need to 
activate these 
for your mon- 
itor and hard 
drive to enter Sleep Mode. 

Update Your Drivers 

Long before SP2 was released, 
Windows users occasionally encoun- 
tered problems when trying to use 
Sleep Mode, such as the system's 
inability to wake up from Sleep 
Mode without first shutting down. 
This might have been due to the 
fact that Windows 
98 and Windows 
Me were not quite 
as stable as the new- 
er WinXP, especially 
when the hard drive 
went into Sleep 
Mode. More likely, 
however, problems 
with Sleep Mode 
arise because of 
driver conflicts. 

Microsoft has 
documented known 
conflicts between 
Sleep Mode in Win- 
XP and drivers that 
are loaded when 
users install third-party programs or 
new hardware. Programs such as the 
Adobe Type Manager 4.0, for instance, 
load a driver that attaches to the driver 
associated with certain keyboards — 
such as the Microsoft Natural PS/2 
model — preventing Sleep Mode 

Upgrade to Microsoft 
Update. Automatically 
receive updates for 
Windows, Office and m 

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from working. 

If the problem is with a program, 
seek an updated driver from the soft- 
ware publisher. At times, drivers pre- 
loaded with software you buy on discs 
are outdated by the time you install 
the program on your system. So check 
the publisher's Web site first and 
then the Microsoft Windows Update 
( to see if new 
drivers are available. 

If you suspect the problem is due 
to a hardware driver conflict, you'll 
need to uninstall the driver and get 
an updated one. In the Control 
Panel, click System and select the 
Hardware tab. Click the Device 
Manager and then the category of de- 
vice that's causing the problem. 
Double-click the name of the device 
from the list, and on the Driver tab, 
choose Uninstall Driver. Then use the 
same screen later to begin the process 
of obtaining a new driver with the 
Update Driver button. 

Common Cures 

Chances are WinXP SP2 won't 
cause any Sleep Mode problems for 
your system. But if this valuable fea- 
ture won't cooperate, try fixing it with 
three common cures — the BIOS, 
Power Options, or driver updates — 
before uninstalling the service pack. II 

by Rachel Derowitsch 

Smart Computing / July 2006 79 


Examining Errors 

by Jeff Dodd 

Problem: In the process of trying to 

improve the performance of his 

laptop PC, a reader downloaded a 

BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) 

update file to his desktop PC. He then 

transferred the file from the desktop 

to the laptop PC and updated its 

BIOS successfully. Unfortunately, he 

now gets an error message whenever 

he tries to remove the BIOS update 

file from his desktop PC. 

Error Message: "Cannot delete 

spsdijg8: It is being used by 

another person or program. 

Close any programs that might 

be using the file and try again." 

Solution: In his valiant attempt to 
improve the performance of his 
laptop PC, the reader has apparently 
installed the BIOS update on his 
desktop PC. As a result, the file has 
become entrenched in the desktop's 
startup routine and is constantly 
"being used" in the background 
whenever the computer is turned on. 
This explains why the reader cannot 
delete the file even after rebooting the 
PC or closing all open programs. 

The solution is to delete the file 
from within Safe Mode. To access 
Safe Mode, the reader should reboot 
his desktop PC while pressing the F8 
key repeatedly. The Windows Startup 


menu will appear on-screen. The 
reader should select Safe Mode from 
the menu and press ENTER. After the 
computer starts in Safe Mode, the 
reader can try to delete the file and 
hopefully he will succeed. 

If he doesn't, the reader should ob- 
tain a DOS boot disk (for full instruc- 
tions, subscribers can access "What 
To Do When . . . You Need To Create 
A Boot Disk" at www.smartcom , insert 
it in the desktop PC, and reboot the 
computer. The PC will boot to a DOS 
prompt. The reader then should type 
del C:\<pat/i>\spsdijg8.exe (where C 
represents the drive letter assigned to 
the Windows drive, and <path> rep- 
resents the location of the unwanted 
file) and press ENTER. The reader 
can verify that the file is gone by re- 
moving the boot disk and rebooting 
into Windows. 

Problem: After replacing one 

512MB memory module with two 

1GB modules, a Windows XP user 

receives a pair of error messages each 

time he boots his PC. When he 

removes one of the new modules, 

the errors don't appear. 

Error Messages: "R-RAM. An error 

has occurred. The following info may 

help debug. Available RAM: 1697.13. 

VM: -85. Total RAM: 2031." AND 

"R-RAM. An error has occurred. The 

following info may help debug. 

Available RAM: 1757.55. VM: -47. 

Total RAM: 2031." 

Solution: These error messages 
point to a shareware memory- 
optimization utility called Release 
RAM. According to the company that 
develops Release RAM, these errors 
are known to occur when a comput- 
er's virtual memory setting is config- 
ured to a capacity of more than 
1,000MB. The reader should be able 
to eliminate the errors by uninstalling 
Release RAM or tweaking the virtual 
memory settings. 

To tweak the virtual memory set- 
ting in WinXP, the reader should 
right-click My Computer and select 
Properties from the pop-up menu. 


On the Advanced tab of the resulting 
System Properties dialog box, the 
reader should locate the Performance 
heading and click the corresponding 
Settings button. When the Perfor- 
mance Options dialog box appears, 
he should choose its Advanced tab, 
locate the Virtual Memory heading, 
and click the corresponding Change 
button. In the Virtual Memory dia- 
log box, the reader should set the 
Maximum Size option to 999 (or less) 
and the Initial Size option to some- 
thing less than that. He then should 
click OK to save the settings, close 
the various dialog boxes, and reboot 
his PC. 

In addition, the reader 
should install the most recent 
Release RAM update by ac- 
cessing the file from www.accel 
/RRAM.exe. He should down- 
load the file into the R-RAM 
folder on the Windows drive, 
where it will overwrite the 
existing Rram.exe file. 

80 July 2006 / 


Examining Errors 

Problem: After upgrading to 
WinXP SP2 (Service Pack 2), 
a reader began receiving an error 
message each time he started his 
computer. The error message indi- 
cated a problem with the Nwiz.exe 
file. The reader scanned his system 
for spyware and, using the System 
Configuration Utility (also known 
as Msconfig.exe), he disabled the 
troublesome file. This eliminated the 
error message, but the message began 
appearing again when he re-enabled 
the file in the System Configuration 
Utility. The reader wants to find a 
permanent solution to the error. 

Error Message: "Nwiz.exe has en- 
countered a problem and needs to 
close. We are sorry for the inconve- 
nience. If you were in the middle of 
something, the information you were 
working on might be lost." 

Solution: The Nwiz.exe file is asso- 
ciated with NVIDIA graphics cards. 
Odds are good the file became out- 
dated when the reader upgraded to 
WinXP SP2. We advise the reader to 
open the Add Or Remove Programs 
utility in the Control Panel and 
uninstall all NVIDIA-related soft- 
ware. After rebooting the system, 
he then should visit the NVIDIA 
downloads page at 
/content/drivers/drivers. asp and 
search for the latest software for his 
particular graphics card. He can find 
out which card he has by reviewing 
the documentation that came with 
his computer or by accessing the 
System Information tool in Windows 
(click Start, All Programs, Acces- 
sories, and System Tools). Either 
way, he should download and install 
the appropriate NVIDIA software 
and then reboot his system. 

If that doesn't work, the reader 
can permanently remove the file 
from the startup routine by editing 
the Registry. However, because 
editing the Registry is risky, the 
reader should proceed with caution. 
He also should back up all vital data 
files and create a restore point with 
System Restore. After taking these 
precautionary steps, he can access 
the Registry Editor by opening 
the Start menu, selecting Run, 
typing regedit in the Open field, and 
clicking OK. When the Registry 
Editor appears on-screen, the reader 
should access the HKEY_LOCAL_ 
VERSION\RUN key and delete all 
values that point to Nwiz.exe. 

Have questions about an error message you've seen? Send us your message (, and 

we'll try to decipher it. Tell us what version of Windows you're using, give the full text of the error message, 

and provide as many details in your explanation as possible. Volume prohibits individual replies. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 81 


Fast Fixes 

Security Update For Windows Media 
Player 10 For Windows XP 

Problem: Microsoft discovered a 
vulnerability in Media Player 10 for 
WinXP that could let an attacker access 
and take control of your computer. 

Resolution: Install this 2.4MB patch 
to protect your computer from remote 
attacks. To access the Microsoft down- 
load site, type the URL we listed below 
in the Address field of your browser 
window. After Microsoft's Download 
Center page loads, type KB911565 
in the Search text box and click Go. 
Click the link named Security Update 
For Windows Media Player 10 For 
Windows XP (KB9 11565) and then 
click Download. After the transfer 
is complete, double-click the file 
(WindowsMedialO-KB91 1565-v2- 
x86-ENU.exe) to begin the installa- 
tion process. 

Cumulative Update For Internet 
Explorer For Windows XP Service Pack 2 

Problem: Microsoft pinpointed 
flaws in its Internet Explorer Web 
browser that could let a hacker steal 
or destroy data on your computer. 
These problems apply to computers 
that use Service Pack 2. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 4.8MB file to protect your com- 
puter's data. To download the patch, 
type the URL we listed below in the 
Address field of your browser window. 
After Microsoft's Download Center 
page loads, type KB912812 in the 
Search text box and click Go. Click the 
link named Cumulative Update For 
Internet Explorer For Windows XP 
Service Pack 2 (KB912812) and click 
Download. After the transfer is com- 
plete, double-click the file (Win- 
dowsXP-KB912812-x86-ENU.exe) to 
begin the installation process. 

Cumulative Update For Internet 
Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 

Problem: If you use Internet 
Explorer 6 with Service Pack 1, you 
should know that the application has 
a programming defect that could let 
an attacker take control of your PC. 

Resolution: To protect your com- 
puter from this threat, download and 
install this 4.8MB patch from 
Microsoft. To download the file, type 
the URL we listed below in the 
Address field of your browser win- 
dow. After Microsoft's Download 
Center page loads, type KB912812 in 
the Search text box and click Go. 
Scroll down, click the link named 
Cumulative Update For Internet 
Explorer 6 SP1 (KB912812), and then 
click Download. After the transfer 
is complete, double-click the file 

Fix Of The Month 

Update For Windows XP Media 
Center Edition 2005 

Problem: If you installed Up- 
date Rollup 2 For Windows XP 
Media Center Edition 2005, you 
may encounter digital rights man- 
agement-related problems when 
you try to use protected content. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 7.7MB patch to resolve rights- 
related difficulties. To download the 
update, type the URL we listed 
below in the Address field of your 
browser window. After Microsoft's 
Download Center page loads, type 
KB9 13800 in the Search text box 
and click Go. Click the link named 
Update For Windows XP Media 
Center Edition 2005 (KB913800) 
and then click Download. After 
the transfer is complete, double- 
click the file (WindowsMedialO- 
KB913800-x86-ENU.exe) to begin 
the installation process. 

XP-x86-ENU.exe) to begin installation. 

www.m loads 
Security Update For Windows XP 

Problem: Microsoft discovered 
a problem with its WinXP operat- 
ing system that could let a hacker 
damage or steal data and affect your 
PC's performance. 

Resolution: Shield your computer 
from attacks by downloading and in- 
stalling this 561KB update. To down- 
load the file, type the URL we listed 
below in the Address field of your 
browser window. After Microsoft's 
Download Center page loads, type 
KB911562 in the Search text box and 
click Go. Click the link named 
Security Update For Windows XP 
(KB911562) and then click Down- 
load. After the transfer is complete, 
double-click the file (WindowsXP- 
KB911562-x86-ENU.exe) to begin 
the installation. 

www.m loads 

Cumulative Security Update For 
Outlook Express For Windows XP 

Problem: Outlook Express for 
WinXP has a defect that could let a 
hacker take over your computer. 

Resolution: Use this 1.5MB patch to 
repair the program and protect your 
PC. To download the file, type the URL 
we listed below in the Address field of 
your browser window. After Micro- 
soft's Download Center page loads, 
type KB911567 in the Search text box 
and click Go. Click the link named 
Cumulative Security Update For 
Outlook Express For Windows XP 
(KB9 11567) and then click Download. 
After the transfer is complete, double- 
click the file (WindowsXP-KB911567- 
x86-ENU.exe) to begin the installation. 

www.m loads 

82 July 2006 / 




Need help with your hardware or software? Looking for simple 
explanations on technical subjects? Send us your questions! 

Get straight answers to your technical questions from Smart Computing. Send your questions, 
along with a phone and/or fax number, so we can call you if necessary, to: Smart Computing 
Q&A, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501, or email us at q& Please in- 
clude all version numbers for the software about which you're inquiring, operating system infor- 
mation, and any relevant information about your system. (Volume prohibits individual replies.) 

QMy Acer Laptop Travelmate 261 is about 
three years old. The Li-Ion (lithium-ion) 
battery in it was supposed to last for four 
hours, but it met that time frame for only the 
first few months. Because I used the computer 
at home a lot (and because I disliked having to 
plug the laptop in when it reached the Low 
Battery stage at inconvenient times), I started 
to leave the laptop plugged in most of the time 
as I was working on it. Whenever I tried to run 
the laptop occasionally from the battery, the 
computer would shut down without warning 
after 10 to 15 minutes, even though the battery 
level indicated there was still about three hours 
of computing time remaining in its charge. 
Some people have suggested that I fully charge 
the battery per indicator and then freeze the 
battery overnight to restore it to full capacity. 
Other people have told me that this is the 
wrong thing to do for a Li-Ion battery. Can 
you shed some light on this? 

A Your observations are accurate. After 
time, no matter how well you treat your 
Li- Ion battery, the amount of charge it will 
hold will deteriorate, and there's no magic 
solution to bring the battery back. You're 
also correct on another point: There's defi- 
nitely a lot of opinion available online about 
the care and feeding of Li-Ion batteries. 
After reading several reams of often- contra- 
dictory advice, however, we found the 
clearest information to be from Cadex 
Electronics, a manufacturer of battery ana- 
lyzers and chargers, through the Battery 
University Web site (www.batteryuniver 

Here's the explanation: Keeping a notebook 
computer's Li-Ion battery plugged in isn't 
what kills it. Once a notebook's Li-Ion is fully 
charged, it stops taking on more charge. Nor 
is the source of the battery (Acer) to blame. 
Instead, the cause of the problem is inherent 
in all Li- Ion batteries: They're good for only a 

limited number of charge/discharge cycles, 
with the number varying by reporter and en- 
vironmental issues. Regardless, 18 months is 
about the age at which the deterioration be- 
comes most noticeable. 

Unlike earlier battery technologies, such as 
NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) and NiCad 
(nickel-cadmium), Li-Ion batteries don't 
suffer from memory effect. Not only do they 
love short charges (recharge them early and 
often), but deep discharges will shorten their 
lives. Nevertheless, Li- Ion batteries do die — a 
process that starts as soon as they leave the 
factory, regardless of whether they're used. 

Alas, there is no magic solution that allows 
you to get your battery back from the point at 
which you've described yours to be. Freezing 
won't help, either; in fact, if you do a quick 
freeze, followed by immediate use (without 
allowing the battery to warm up to room tem- 
perature over a period of at least 24 hours), 
you'll simply make things worse. 

The only time you can bring a Li-Ion bat- 
tery back to life is if it's relatively young in its 
life span and if it has been allowed to deplete 
past the point where its internal safety circuit 
opens and the battery appears dead (below 2.5 
volts per cell, just in case you're curious). At 
this point, the battery's supplied charger won't 
work any more and only a special type of 
charger (made by Cadex and others) can give 
the battery the necessary "boost" to do the job. 

You also can use the following suggestions 
to prolong the life of the next new Li- Ion bat- 
tery you get. If you're not going to use the bat- 
tery for a while, and if the manufacturer of the 
notebook computer says it's OK to proceed, 
store the battery in a cool place with about a 
40% charge. How cool should this storage area 
be, and why shouldn't the battery be fully 
charged? Both temperature and state of charge 
affect the capacity of a Li-Ion battery and its 
rate of deterioration as shown by the following 
table. {Source: Battery University) 

Smart Computing / July 2006 83 





40% charge level 
(recommended storage charge level) 

100% charge level 
(typical user charge level) 

0°C (32°F) 

2% loss after one year 

6% loss after one year 

25°C (77°F) 

4% loss after one year 

20% loss after one year 


1 5% loss after one year 

35% loss after one year 


25% loss after one year 

40% loss after three months 

There is another factor that directly affects 
the longevity of Li-Ion batteries, but it's not 
one that consumers are likely to be able to ef- 
fect. Put simply, a moderate rate of charge 
and discharge will prolong the battery's life, 
while rapid charge and discharge will shorten 
it. Beyond these two basic factors, there are 
some simple things you can do — and not 
do — to improve your Li-Ion's time among us: 

Avoid frequent full discharges. The reason 
this is an issue is because performing frequent 
full discharges puts additional strain on the bat- 
tery. Several partial discharges with frequent 
recharges are better for Li-Ion batteries than 
one deep one. Recharging a partially charged 
Li-Ion battery doesn't cause harm because there 
is no memory. (In this respect, Li- Ion differs 
from nickel-based batteries.) Short battery life 
in a notebook computer is mainly caused by 
heat rather than by charge/discharge patterns. 

Batteries with fuel gauges (notably note- 
book computers) should be calibrated. You 
should calibrate these batteries by applying a 
deliberate full discharge once every 30 charges. 

(Running the pack down in the 
equipment does this.) If ignored, 
the fuel gauge will become in- 
creasingly less accurate, and in 
some cases, it can cut off the de- 
vice prematurely. 

Keep the Li-Ion battery cool. 
Avoid a hot car. For prolonged storage, keep 
the battery at a 40% charge level. 

Consider removal. Perhaps you should 
think about removing the battery from a note- 
book when you're running the computer on 
fixed power. This isn't because the battery will 
overcharge; it's to save the battery from the 
extra heat. (Some notebook manufacturers are 
concerned about dust and moisture accumu- 
lating inside the battery casing, whereas others 
warn that in the event of a power outage, or if 
you disconnect the notebook forgetting that 
the battery isn't there, you may lose data.) 

Avoid purchasing spares. Don't just buy Li- 
Ion batteries for later use. You must observe 
the manufacturing dates. Also, don't buy old 
stock, even if it's sold at clearance prices. 

If you have a spare. If you happen to have a 
spare Li- Ion battery, use one to the fullest and 
keep the other one cool by placing it in the re- 
frigerator. (Just make sure you warm the bat- 
tery to room temperature before use.) Do not 
freeze the battery. For best results, store the 
battery at a 40% state -of- charge. 

QMy iPod has frozen, and I can't get it to 
work. How do I fix this and prevent it 
from happening again? 

A Even a popular device such as Apple's 
iPod has some problems. Just like any 
computing device, the iPod can lock up or 
"freeze" for a variety of reasons. Reviving your 
iPod involves a few simple steps. You didn't 
mention which iPod you own, but we'll cover 
the steps for most of the recent models. 

Resetting your iPod preserves your music 
and files stored on the iPod, but you may lose 
some customized settings. Most settings will 
reflect what was on your iPod the last time it 
turned on properly. 

iPods come in three basic versions: shuffle 
models, scroll/touch-wheel iPods, and Click 

Wheel iPods. All of the most recent iPods on 
the market are Click Wheel models. If you need 
to, you can visit 
num/n61688 to determine which type of iPod 
you own. 

To reset your Click Wheel iPod, toggle the 
Hold switch on and off. Next, simultaneously 
press the Menu and the Select buttons (the 
latter of which is in the center of the iPod) for 
roughly five to 10 seconds. If the reset action 
is working, you should see the Apple logo 
appear. If nothing happens after 10 seconds, 
repeat these steps again. 

If you don't see any results after your re- 
peated attempt, try connecting your iPod to 
either your computer or the iPod's power 
adapter, and try the reset steps again. If your 
iPod still doesn't respond, it may need to be 

84 July 2006 / 




recharged. Let it recharge for an hour or two 
and then repeat the reset steps. 

If none of these steps work, you'll need to 
visit Apple's Web site at depot. info. apple 
.com/ipod to see if your iPod is still covered 
by warranty, as well as to initiate a support 

For a scroll/touch-wheel iPod, toggle the 
Hold switch on and off. Next, press the Play/ 
Pause and Menu buttons until the Apple/iPod 
logo appears. If nothing happens after 10 
seconds, repeat these steps again. 

As with the Click Wheel iPod, follow the 
same steps to reset your scroll/touch-wheel 
iPod while you're connected to either its 
power adapter or your computer. If you still 
can't reset your scroll/touch-wheel iPod, try 
recharging it next. And if all else fails, visit the 
URL we mentioned earlier to check the iPod's 
warranty and initiate a support request. 

Resetting your iPod shuffle is a bit different 
due to the design differences. First, be sure 
your shuffle is turned on (with the green strip 
showing). Wait five seconds, toggle the switch 
off, and then turn it on to either the "shuffle 
songs" or "play in order" setting. 

If your status light blinks orange, it means 
the buttons are disabled. To enable the but- 
tons, press and hold the Play/Pause button for 
three seconds until the green status light comes 

on. If your Shuffle remains frozen, you'll need 
to visit the URL we mentioned previously to 
initiate a return or a repair for your iPod. 

As far as prevention is concerned, there are 
several steps you can take to help minimize 
the chance of your iPod freezing up. The first 
is to keep the software on your iPod current. 
Apple periodically releases updates to iPod's 
software to either add new features or resolve 
problems. These updates are available at 

When you start the iPod Updater, you have 
two options: Update and Restore. The Update 
option simply updates your existing software to 
the new version, while retaining the songs and 
files you've stored on your iPod. In contrast, the 
Restore option completely erases your data on 
the iPod, restoring it to factory condition. To 
find in-depth instructions about using the iPod 
Updater, go to 

Another thing you can do to help prevent 
freeze- ups is to make sure that you disconnect 
your iPod after it finishes synchronizing with 
your computer. If you inadvertently discon- 
nect the iPod while it's synchronizing, you 
may corrupt its hard drive. Make sure you 
wait until you see the iPod's menu appear or 
see an "OK to disconnect" message display on 
the iPod's screen. 

QI have a Dell Dimension 2400 computer 
with a Pentium 4 CPU, 512MB of RAM, 
and Windows XP Home Edition. Some time 
ago, I started to get this pop-up message: 
"Your available RAM has dropped below the 
specified limit." After the message, I am given 
four options: recover memory to the target 
level, defrag all memory, snooze, or disable 
automatic memory level detection; I've been 
using the first option. I also have defragged 
my memory with no results. I'm afraid to try 
the other two options. What can I do to fix 
this problem? Dell has been of no help. 

A There are a number of software prod- 
ucts — including commercial, shareware, 
and freeware applications — that offer to defrag- 
ment or otherwise optimize memory for 
Windows users. Such applications began to 

appear on the market just before the release of 
Windows 95, but then they seemed to disappear 
for a while; it now looks as though they're back. 
But even if these products work properly 
(some of the early ones didn't), they may be of 
limited use to your WinXP system. Without 
going into a long technical explanation, we'll 
just point out that Windows versions prior to 
Windows 2000 and WinXP used several, small 
(as in 64KB) "heaps" of memory for several of 
its operations (screen and print font ren- 
dering, menu animation, and so on). These 
heaps had names such as GDI, Kernel, and 
User. When Windows started, these memory 
heaps (also called resources) would be fully 
stocked with memory. During a system's oper- 
ation, however, some applications — which are 
sometimes referred to as "bad applications" 
(such as Microsoft Word) — would access 

Smart Computing / July 2006 85 




memory heaps but not return the memory 
used when the apps were shut down. The re- 
sult was that, after a period of time, Windows 
would flash a message saying you were low on 
resources, or you'd get an illegal operation 
error message. The only solution was to reboot 
periodically (at least once a day if you were 
busy) to get the heaps back again. 

The memory heap problem diminished with 
the release of Win2000 and WinXP because 
both OSes (operating systems) have virtually 
unlimited resource heaps. In fact, you can run 
them for weeks without having to reboot — well, 
at least not for the reasons we stated above. 

Now, after providing some background in- 
formation, let's get back to analyzing the pop- 
up message you mentioned. Dell doesn't put 
anything on its PCs that monitors memory in 
the way you describe, but you certainly aren't 
the only reader to describe such a problem. In 

fact, there is at least one unanswered version of 
this question at Smart Computings online Q&A 
Board (at the time of this writing). Although we 
haven't encountered this message ourselves, 
we're convinced you've picked up some type of 
adware during your online travels and that's 
what is responsible for the pop-up message. 

To eliminate the problem, use a reputable 
antispyware product such as Patrick Kolla's 
Spybot Search & Destroy (free; www.safer-net, Lavasoft's Ad- Aware SE Personal 
(free;, or 
Microsoft's Windows Defender (free Beta 2 
/spyware/software) . 

(NOTE: It also pays to be aware of software 
that only claims to be antispyware, particularly 
of products that cause more problems than they 
solve. For more information, see www.spyware 
warrior, com/ rogue_anti-spyware.htm) 

Q There seems to be an increasing number 
of computers being sold (or built) with 
either Serial ATA (Advanced Technology 
Attachment) or SCSI (Small Computer Sys- 
tem Interface) RAID (redundant array of in- 
expensive disks). I just obtained a computer 
running WinXP Professional (and SP2 
[Service Pack 2]) with a SCSI RAID level 
array set up for the hard drive (labeled C). I 
picked up Diskeeper 9 so I could use it as a 
defrag utility because I noticed advertising 
which stated it could handle RAID con- 
figurations; it does and works quite nice- 
ly. However, the error-checking function 
native to Windows (when I right-click the 
local hard drive icon, click Properties, choose 
Tools, and click Check Now below the Error- 
checking title) doesn't seem to function well 
on a RAID array — well, at least not on my 
system. Could you suggest some software 
products that can properly handle the disk 
error- checking function for RAID systems or 
any utilities that are well- suited to disk arrays? 

A When using a RAID array, it's unneces- 
sary to use the built-in error-checking 
functionality that WinXP includes. Windows 
"sees" the array as a single drive, which causes 
some problems with the Chkdsk.exe utility. 

Chkdsk.exe is primarily used to search for bad 
sectors and clusters on a hard drive, and be- 
cause a RAID array is composed of multiple 
hard drives, Chkdsk.exe can't properly deter- 
mine what's occurring. 

Fortunately, most RAID controllers include 
error checking at a basic level in their soft- 
ware. These controllers do this because most 
RAID arrays need to know if there's a bad 
sector on one of the hard drives that comprise 
the array. Then, if the RAID controller spots 
one, it marks the offending sector as bad so 
that no data is written to that sector. 

However, you're running a RAID array; so, 
despite the RAID name, there's no redundancy 
in a RAID array. Each drive in a RAID array 
is simply concatenated together into one large 
volume. Thus, if one drive fails in this array, 
you'll usually lose all the data in the array. So, 
the RAID controller may still be conducting 
routine error- checking before writing data to 
the array, but that's not guaranteed (as it 
would be with a different RAID configuration). 

RAID works well if you're looking for the 
best performance available with a RAID 
array — just be forewarned that for true re- 
dundancy of your data, you'll want to migrate 
to either a RAID 1 (disk mirroring) or a RAID 
5 (disk striping with parity) configuration. 

86 July 2006 / 





Answers to users' most common questions about AAP3 Recording 

p A ^v How do I copy audio tracks from 
l"/\ V^ my CDs? Is it legal? 

Use CD -recording software and an optical 
drive that's capable of DAE (digital audio ex- 
traction). The necessary software is available in 
products such as Roxio's Easy Media Creator 8 
(, Sonic's RecordNow 8 (www, and others. As for the 
drive, virtually every CD drive today supports 
DAE — but at various speeds; faster DAE means 
faster copying speeds. To verify the DAE capa- 
bility of an older CD drive, use your recording 
software or a free third-party diagnostic app, 
such as CD Speed from www.cdspeed2000 

If you just want to copy music to your hard 
drive, any CD drive with DAE will work; how- 
ever, if you want to record those audio files to 
CD-Rs (CD-recordables) later, you'll need a 
CD-R or CD-RW (CD-rewriteable) drive that's 
designed for recording. If you have two CD 
drives (such as a CD-ROM and a CD-RW 
drive), you can often copy from one drive and 
record directly to another. 

Is all this legal? Music is protected by copy- 
right law, which makes it illegal to copy works 
without permission from the copyright holder. 
But the concept of "fair use" lets you copy pro- 
tected works (that you legitimately own) for 
your own personal use. For example, you can 
copy your favorite tracks for a compilation CD 
or copy and encode the tracks for transfer to 
your MP 3 player, but you can't give or sell the 
copied files to your friends or post those copied 
files on the Internet. Likewise, it's illegal to copy 
tracks from your friends' CDs or accept files 
that your friends copy for you. To find out 
more about these legal issues, visit the RIAA 
(Recording Industry Association of America) at 

p A ^v What's the difference between "rip- 
l/\ Vy ping" and "encoding," and must I 
do both before burning files onto CD-Rs? 

Ripping includes the process of encoding. To 
simply copy a track means to copy a digital 
audio track from a Red Book audio CD (usu- 
ally) and save it as a file on a hard drive. How- 
ever, the copied track is still in the Red Book 
format, so to play the file in another format — 
such as MP3 — you'll need to also encode the 
file to the desired format. Thus, to rip a track 
means to copy a song from a CD and encode it 
into another format. If you're just making a 
straight copy of your favorite music tracks, it's 
not necessary to encode the data because you're 
just burning the files onto the destination CD. 
But if you want to transfer the tracks as MP3 
files for a CD or your iPod, you'll need to con- 
vert the tracks to MP3s — in other words, en- 
code them — with your recording software. 
MP 3 files are much smaller than copied audio 
files, so that's why encoding them into a format 
that consumes less space is desirable — even if 
some of the audio quality is sacrificed. 

Today, recording software will handle both 
processes — turning the combination of copying 
and encoding into ripping — in the same step. 
In this respect, users just have to select the 
source track on the audio CD and then define 
the destination drive, file name, format, and bit 
rate/quality level. 

p A f>i Is there a way to eliminate hisses 
r/\ V^ and/or clicks from CDs? 

Audio anomalies typically indicate the orig- 
inal digital audio file was extracted too fast. Try 
recopying the track several times at a variety of 
lower speeds and listen to each audio file from 
your hard drive to determine which speeds cor- 
respond to the cleanest copy. If the problem still 
persists at slower speeds, try another recording 
app. If the copied audio files sound clean but 
you're hearing hisses or pops on the CD to 
which you're recording, try recording at slower 
speeds and experiment with different media 
brands. If this problem became worse over 
time, it's time to replace the CD-RW drive. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 87 

Know someone who talks tech jargon all the time? 

Introduce them to 
Computer Power User magazine! 

Each month CPU delivers a functional mix of hardware reviews, 

information on modding, the latest and greatest software, and 

the opinions of nine industry-leading columnists. 

Log on to or call 1. 800.733.3809 
to find out how to get 3 issues of Computer Power User RISK-FREE! 

Action Editor 

Are you having trouble 
finding a product or 
getting adequate service 
from a manufacturer? If 
so, we want to help solve 
your problem. Send us 
a description of the 
product you're seeking or 
the problem you're having 
with customer service. In 
billing disputes, include 
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(such as account numbers 
or screen names for online 
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phone number in case we 
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Letters may be edited 
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individual replies. 

Write to: 
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Or send email to: 


Or fax us at: 

Travel Concerns 
& Kudos To Dell 

/ have a Visioneer XP 200 scanner for my notebook. 
The external power connector works in my home 
country of Lesotho, but the plug does not fit wall 
outlets in Europe where I travel frequently. I've 
contacted Visioneer regarding an adapter, but it 
has been unable to help me. I would prefer a 
universal adapter, but at the very least, I need a 
round plug compatible with outlets in Europe. 

Umesh Kumar 
Roma, Lesotho, Africa 

Outlet designs and voltages differ greatly 
from country to country. While vendors usu- 
ally include compatible plugs and power 
supplies for the country where you buy the 
device, they cannot offer much help when you 
take the product abroad. 

We did find an APC Universal Plug 
Adapter ( available 
for $19.99 in the United States, but 
we're uncertain if the product 
is available in Lesotho. Outlet 
adapter kits are more bulky, but 
are also more readily available 
from a variety of online retailers. 
Because Lesotho's 240V out- 
lets are similar to the 220V to 
230V outlets found in Europe, Umesh 
doesn't need a power converter. North 
American devices, however, accept 110V and 
may require a power converter when using 
with higher voltage outlets. 

I've read many negative reviews about Dell's 
customer service so I wanted to share my positive 
experience with others. I've had a Dell desktop for 
the last five years and recently ordered a new 
Inspiron 6400 notebook with a DVD rewriteable 
drive. After using it briefly, I realized that the DVD 

drive wasn't functioning properly and contacted 
Dell's customer service. I placed three calls in total, 
and each contact was pleasant and respectful. In 
the end, Dell agreed to exchange the system. I had 
no problems working out the details with Dell, and 
I received my replacement quickly. After receiving 
the system, I noticed I still had problems format- 
ting DVD+RWs. Once again, I contacted Dell and 
discovered that the Sonic software provided for CD 
and DVD burning was causing a conflict with my 
drive. Dell sent me Roxio software to replace the 
installed Sonic software, and that fixed the issue. 
My notebook is now running properly. Satisfied 
customers rarely speak out, so I wanted to take 
this opportunity to thank everyone at Dell for all 
the help and support. 

Sandy F. 
Nova Scotia, Canada 

Dell's customer service has certainly taken 
plenty of lumps lately. Partly, this is because 
Dell sells a lot of computers. No company 
wants a bad product to wind up in the hands 
of a customer, but on occasion, it's still going 
to happen. If you sell a lot of products, 
you're going to sell more bad units even if 
the number of bad units is a small percentage 
of the total. 

There's no question Sandy's right. Satisfied 
customers rarely take the time to write about 
their experiences. In part, it's because good 
customer service is like mozzarella on a pizza: 
It's supposed to be there. 

On the other hand, if everything you 
read is negative, it's easy to believe that good 
customer service no longer exists. Every 
so often, it's nice to acknowledge that good 
service is still available and that not every call 
placed to customer service is the beginning 
of a personal nightmare. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 89 

Tales From The Trenches 

Somebody's Watching Me 

Spyware is a nuisance. 
And it's a security threat. 
Plus, it just plain irri- 
tates me on general principle: 
Don't tell me you're installing 
one thing on my computer 
while, in the meantime, you're 
leaving tons of nasty little sur- 
prises littered across my hard 
drive like rotten Easter eggs. 
And that goes for pop-ups and 
even gratuitous use of the 
System Tray, too. All these 
things get in my way, use up 
my precious computing re- 
sources, and make a general 
nuisance of themselves. Here 

are three simple things I've started doing on my Windows 
system to help keep control over my system where it 
belongs — with my wife. 

Microsoft AntiSpyware 

My first line of defense against nasty spyware, Trojan 
horses, and other assorted mischief-makers is Microsoft's 
free antispyware utility. Download it from 
.com/antispyware. Sure, there are plenty of commercial se- 
curity suites and antispyware applications out there, and 
some do everything but brush your teeth. But for my limited 
money, Microsoft AntiSpyware (also referred to as Microsoft 
Defender) does just fine for what I want (stopping spyware, 
duh) and at a price I can get behind. It updates itself on a 
regular basis, keeps a constant eye out for suspicious pro- 
grams or installers, and lets me know whenever something 
changes on my system. That way I can tell if the change is 
something I intended or if someone's trying to be sneaky. 

Browser Tools 

I admit it: I still use Internet Explorer. Lots of my nerdy 
compatriots are diehard Mozilla or Firefox fans, but I just 
haven't bothered to switch. If you're up for the transition, 
both of these other free browsers do a better job of browser 
security, pop-up blocking, and cookie handling. But, if 
you're lazy like me, you can still use some of IE's tools to 
help reduce your malware annoyance level. Under Tools 
and Internet Options, select the Privacy tab. Move the 
Settings slider to at least Medium High, blocking some of 
the nastier cookie types while preserving your ability to 
have your news portal remember who you are. Click the 
Advanced button, and you can direct IE to prompt you for 
every single cookie a site tries to place (whether from the 

site itself — first-party — or an 
associated site — third-party) 
if you're up for dealing with 
lots of little dialog boxes. 
Under the Pop-Up Blocker 
section, check the Block Pop- 
Ups box and click the Settings 
button. You can let trusted 
sites deliver pop-ups and set 
options for notification when 
unknown sites try feeding 
them to you. 

System Tray Supervision 

I'm also a real curmudgeon 
about what I let run in my 
System Tray. Neither Acrobat, 
nor Real Player, nor my silly sound card utility is so critical 
that they have to automatically launch every time I boot up 
and constantly run in the background so I can get that half- 
second edge on load time once a day when I use the pro- 
gram. Let enough of those cute little icons nest near your 
clock, and pretty soon, you won't be able to tell what's legit 
and what's sending your keystrokes to the Caymans. Check 
the options or preferences for every utility, application, and 
driver you install. Uncheck the Run On Startup options for 
anything that doesn't need to run all the time, and don't 
give noncritical applications permission to sit in the System 
Tray taking up resources. Of course your antivirus, firewall, 
and antispyware (see above) applications are the main ex- 
ceptions. Next, check your Startup Program Group (under 
Start and Programs) and delete any shortcuts for programs 
you don't need at all times. Finally, run msconfig from the 
Run dialog box, choose the Startup tab, and deselect any- 
thing crafty (or insidious) enough to hide itself there. You 
can usually tell by expanding the Command column what 
program each service represents. You'll have more control 
over what's running when, and you'll help your machine 
run better in the process. 

Spyware is a pain, but it doesn't have to ruin your day. 
And you don't even need a court order to thwart these bad 
guys. Combine good software, smart settings, and your own 
diligence to take back control. II 

by Gregory Anderson 

Gregory Anderson is a 

several other technology 
of thick glasses) on comt 

iblications. He keeps a sharp eye (with the he 
ing trends and enjoys working with geeks of 

all stripes — most of the time. Regale him wit) 

90 July 2006 / 


Manufacturer Index 

Technology can be a wonderful thing. But 
what happens when your computer, printer, 
or software goes on the lam? How are you going 
to fix it? Better yet, who can you contact to fix it? 
When you need to contact a manufacturer for 
tech support but can't find the appropriate infor- 
mation, look no further!'s 
Tech Support Center provides a list of manufac- 
turers, from Adobe and Dell to eBay and Xerox. 

Go to and click the 
Tech Support Center link. 

C E 

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and 
click the Manufacturer Tech Support Index 
link under the Other Helpful Tech Support 
Tools section. 

T E R 


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solving problem* w1h dg'ial 

a functioi '. 01 type in Eong phrases. 

: "-'.' l'»"-- tJsi 

Bioium ALIaofti.liiiii-'ii Pi.-lili-iiii 8 Fi. i^.nilj ■"■■ - 1 — I Ji-.-n- 

Basic Troubleshooting Articles 


lurity & Privacy 

3SL A^ 

Manufacturers are listed alphabetically, so 
you can find contact information quickly 
and easily! Each listing includes URLs to 
make finding answers simple. Phone num- 
bers are also listed in addition to company 

-► Other Helpful Tech Support Tools 

Computing Dictionary & Encyclopedia 
ki.^0JJiiL^M.V}^J).sMmJ m ^m). 9 .' ^ 
M.inufociiiiei Ted) Support Imlex 


Ociol.ei 2005 PC Novice The INSTANT AHSWER Book Fo. Your PC" fM3i 

Missed it at the newsstand? Here's a link to c- ■■■■_■;■.. ■.;:<: >.• n :U ■:■ - :'i _ ----- =:- ;.:;■.. : ■■-.'•: ■.■::'.•- 1 .. I 
issue. Articles are written in a concise, probil ^ 

Be sure to check out the hardware and soft- 
ware vendor contact information at the 
bottom of the page, as well. The links will con- 
nect you to Microsoft's vendor contact infor- 
mation lists. The lists are quite extensive and 
contain a wealth of information in one easy- 
to-navigate location. 

The next time your software bombs out or 
your ink cartridges aren't functioning properly, 
check out the Manufacturer Tech Support Index, 
contact the manufacturer directly, and get the an- 
swers you're looking for today! 

So". AS::"-- ■/.-■: 

(408)536-6 S 
tuM (BOO) 833-6687 customer service 

AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) 

One AMD Place 
P.O. Box 3453 
Sunnyvale, CA 94088 
(408) 749-4000 

nc. (AOL! 

Manufacturer Tech Support Index 


Cupertino, CA 9501 4 

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ATI Technologies Systems Coi|>. 

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>, LA 95054 

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Tips For A Successful Call 

If, after searching the Smart Computing Tech Support Center, you find you need further assistance, gather a few pieces of 
information before calling us. If the problem relates to software, make sure you know what version you have (usually avail- 
able in program's Help menu). If an error message is what ails you, write it down verbatim. Also, be sure you know what op- 
erating system you have, and before you call, try rebooting your computer: This will often correct a myriad of problems. 
These steps will help us to solve your problem quickly and efficiently. 

Smart Computing / July 2006 91 



Where's My Piece Of The <Mrs. Smith's 
OvenFresh™ Dutch Apple> Pie?! 

You're familiar with the idea of 
product placement in movies, 
right? You know, like in "Minor - 
ity Report," when the camera pans lov- 
ingly across the high-tech billboard that 
subtly flashes "Coca-Cola" in letters 14 
feet tall, or when our daring hero races 
through town in the very cool-looking, 
futuristic Lexus sports coupe. Or think 
of the new "Pink Panther" release: It's 
difficult to find a scene in which adidas, 
Perrier, or Dell products arent present. 
(Meanwhile, note that in Sony's "Underworld: 
Evolution," the most common brands being hawked are 
those of weapons manufacturers: Beretta, Heckler & Koch, 
and Walther. I'm sure that means something, but I'm not sure 
I want to think about it.) 

Well, the practice has moved on to video games, as you may 
have heard. Gamers enjoying the all-out, gut- wrenching racing 
action of Need For Speed: Most Wanted get to participate in 
the "Burger King Challenge" (thereby ironically reaffirming 
the meaning of "gut- wrenching") as they scream past Cingular 
billboards in virtual Mustangs, Eclipses, and Lamborghini 
Gallardos. And, just as in the real world of sporting events, 
participants in EA Sports' FIFA World Cup play on a field 
festooned with billboards extolling the virtues of Coca-Cola, 
FujiFilm, and other such sponsors. Then there's Ubisoft's 
Splinter Cell game, in which the hero enters a room where 
he sees, for no game- or plot-related reason at all, posters 
advertising "Batman Begins." Meanwhile, younger kids playing 
the Sims Online game can grab a virtual Big Mac while 
wandering around a virtual world littered with virtual Intel 
logos. (I haven't looked at Electronic Arts' Godfather video 
game. I'm sort of afraid of the types of product placement I 
might encounter: Winchester ammunition, the Belkin USB- 
enabled Blunt Object, the Hello Kitty garrote, etc.) 

But wait, there's more! Now product placement is 
invading software: Microsoft has released ad-supported 
online versions of its Office products. Yep, you can sign up 
for the Office Live beta at In 
exchange for agreeing to suffer through . . . er, view ads 
embedded in the online suite, Microsoft will provide you 
with online versions of productivity tools and will also 
supply Web hosting and other such services. 

Of course, product placement in software has been with us 
for years. Ad-supported applications (browsers, email pro- 
grams, antivirus tools, etc.) have long been a staple in the com- 
puting world. But now companies are talking about a whole 

new business model: What if all software 
were free? Think of it. . . . Whatever 
you needed: genealogy programs, calen- 
dars, word processors, spreadsheets, 
graphics apps, image editors. All of it 
free, and all of it shot through with 
targeted ads. Not a bad deal, really, as 
long as it's on the up-and-up and as long 
as you know what you're agreeing to. 
But it need not (and probably would 
not) stop there. It's one thing for a bank's 
banner ad to appear at the top of your personal 
finance app. But what if the software began 
"recommending" that you deal only with certain banks? 
What if the program insisted that you work only with Wells 
Fargo or Bank Of America? Or what if your photo editor simply 
refused to print unless it was connected to an HP printer? Yikes. 
That's not what worries me, though. What really scares 
me is that it turns out that "product placement" is a huge 
industry, a $4 billion pie, and I'm not getting any of it! 

I can be bought. (I figure we're all willing to sell out, 
ultimately; it's really just a question of price.) After all, I sit here 
slaving away at my <HON Perpetual™ Workstation> desk, 
typing on an <IBM ThinkPad> computer hour after <America 
runs on Bulova time> hour, constantly being interrupted by the 
ringing of a <Cisco Systems 7940 Series IP> phone or by 
appointment reminders chirping out of my <Palm Treo 650> 
smartphone or by static-ridden announcements echoing from 
the <Muzak From Hell> P.A. system we have here in the office. 
It's enough to make me want to strangle someone with my 
<Tommy Hilfiger> necktie. And it wouldn't really be all that 
disruptive, I don't think. You can read <Thank a teacher!> this 
pretty well on your <ViewSonic> monitor, can't you? Or, if you 
picked up the print version at a <Larrys> corner newsstand, 
perhaps you're now relaxed <Take Sominex tonight, and sleep. . .> 
and comfortable in your cushy <Barcalounger>, reading this 
while drinking a cold, refreshing bottle of <Budweiser> beer 
and snacking on some mouthwatering Korean War- surplus 
<Vienna Sausage>. Say, this isn't too intrusive, is it? 

I asked my <beautiful, talented> wife about selling ad 
slots in my column, and she thought it was a great idea, 
although I did have to agree to give her quite a discount. II 

by Rod Scher 

Rod Scher is a former software developer and a recovering English 
teacher. He's also the publication editor of Smart Computing and 
will no doubt continue in that position until such time as his boss 
reads this column. Contact Rod at 

92 July 2006 / 


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