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Staff Picks: Our Favorite Hardware p.26 | 1 Specialty Inkjet Papers p.18 



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Computmn 

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Up Your 





EASY WAYS TO GET MORE POWER, 



SPEED & STABILITY FROM YOUR COMPUTER 



• Degunk Your Hard Drive 

• Dust Off Your Registry 

• Eliminate Spyware/Adware 



For A Fast & Efficient 

Operating 






PC Project 

Create A Slideshow p.42 




The Weird World Of 




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Strange But (Usually) 
Useful Sites p.47 




General 
Computing 

Identify & Disable 
Windows Services p.38 

Plugged In 

All About Online Forums p.45 



I Reviews 

Canon's New 
DVD Camcorder p.17 

Top Spam Killers p.21 

Eudora: The Other Email App p.24 

GPS: The NavMan PiN 570 p.ie 




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This Month's Cover Story: 




News & Notes 

7 Tech News & Notes 

14 News From The Help Desk: 
Our Most Common Tech Calls 

We tell you the most common 
problems we're hearing about 
each month and provide straight- 
forward solutions for each one. 

Reviews 

16 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. 

21 Spitting Out Spam 

Banish spam, the bane of any 
emailer's existence. 



24 



26 



Software Reviews 

Email: 

Eudora 7 24 

Consumer: 

Springdoo 25 

Utilities: 

Process Library 

Quick Access InfoBar 25 

Staff Picks 

Our writers and editors select 
their favorite hardware. It's your 
one-stop shop for the latest and 
greatest goodies and gadgets. 




Canon EOS 30D 



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. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS SEPTEMBER 2006 



Windows Tips & Tricks 


Tech Support 




28 Windows XP: The Secret Life Of WinXP Accessories 

Take a closer look at WinXP's (often) overlooked gems. 

30 Windows: Customize Windows' Start Menu / 

Get off to a roaring start by adding your Favorites (and A ^^T 
more) to your Start menu. ^^V 

32 Windows XP: Burn CDs In WinXP With WMP10 

It may not be the most self-explanatory app out there, but Windows Media 
Player 10 is free and serviceable. 

General Computing 


76 What To Do When . . . 

Your Printer Starts Printing Old 
Documents 

Learn what can cause a printer to 
produce old news. 

78 Alphabet Soup 

Reassign your WinXP drive letters 
and get your OS back in shape. 

80 Examining Errors 
82 Fast Fixes 

84 Q&A & FAQ 

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: Water 
Under The (PCI) Bridge 

Real-world tech support advice from 
PC guru Gregory Anderson. This 
month, Greg deals with self-inflicted 
disaster. 


35 Processing Processors 

Sort out the differences among all of the CPUs on the market today. 

38 Scrutinize Those Secret Services 

You'd think that Windows services were meant to serve you, but that's not 
always the case. We discuss the most common services and tell you which 
ones you can disable or modify to preserve system resources and/or guard 
against intruders. 

42 PC Project: Create A Slideshow 

Now that digital cameras have made it so easy to instantly capture and view 
the perfect snapshots, we have a new dilemma: What's the best way to show 
off all of our photos? 

Plugged In 


45 Novice's Guide To Online Forums 


Regularly visiting forums is one way to expand your pool of resources, which 
is especially helpful when you need a place to go online to receive advice, 
participate in brainstorming sessions, and communicate with others that 
share your interests. 

47 Mashups: Melting Pots Of Search Tools 

Rather than conducting several searches to find various bits of information 
and then cross-referencing certain details to discover the data that's most 
pertinent to what you're trying to analyze, use a mashup and discover how 
easy research can be. 

50 Web Tips \^ /T^tX 

51 Find It Online J ~X y^ 

53 Mr. Modem's Desktop: ^^^m. \* 
Mr. Modem's Guide To Culture vC P^£ O^ 

In which Mr. Modem, author of several X^N^^T^^TO^V 
books — none of which has won the Pulitzer ^^^ ■2ir^ 
Prize — and co-host of the weekly "PC ^^^^^/ 
Chat" radio show, offers useful tips and a ^^^B^ ^r 
cultural boost via cell phone ringtones. ^^^^^ 


Quick Studies 


66 Broderbund Print Shop Deluxe 20 

Create Full-Featured Calendars, Pt. II 

61 Browsers 

The Value Of Firefox's Search Bar 

68 Corel WordPerfect 1 1 

Fix The "Too Much Text" Error 

69 Online 

Send Money By Phone With PayPal 
Mobile 

70 Corel Paint Shop Pro 9 

A Noise-Removal Filter For Digital 
Camera Photos 

71 Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Action Buttons 

72 Quick Tips 




Tidbits 




92 Editorial License 

Our editor gives his somewhat skewed perspective on a variety of technology- 
related issues. This month, he's worried that his TV is out to get him. 


74 Data Storage Options 

External hard drives are an affordable, 
viable option for backing up your data. 



* L4 



September Web-Only Articles 

Smart Computing subscribers may read the following articles at SmartComputing.com. 

Hardware 

For all the latest product reviews, visit the Hardware Reviews area at 
SmartComputing.com (www.smartcomputing.com). 

PC Operating Instructions 

Linux: Synchronize Your Pocket PC With Linux 
Pocket PCs and Linux can learn to get along. 

Quick Studies 



Email 

Use The Bcc Field To Protect 
Others' Privacy 

Adobe Photoshop CS 

Get Your Images Ready For The Web 

Roxio PhotoSuite 7 Platinum 

Surprise Feature: Capture Audio 
From CDs 

Microsoft Access 2002 

Create A Report With Filtered Records 

Security 

Protect Your Instant Messaging Tools 

Adobe InDesign CS2 

Selecting Is A Complex Process 

Microsoft Works 2005 

Plan For School Success With Projects 

Microsoft Word 2002 

Organize Documents With Outlines 

Intuit Quicken Premier 2006 

iTaking Advantage Of New Graphs 

HTML 

Use CSS2 For Precise Positioning 




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Corrections/Clarifications 

On page 2 1 of our July issue, we reviewed ShadowBack, a backup utility we really liked. The 
company that produces ShadowBack, Warm & Fuzzy Logic, moved shortly after we went to 
press, so we inadvertently provided out-of-date contact info. The company can be reached via 
email at support@WarmAndFuzzyLogic.com and by phone at (562) 438-2109. It's on the Web at 
www.warmandfuzzylogic.com. 

Also, in the August issue (pg. 19) we quoted the price of WebProse Designer at $79. The 
company (www.webproseinc.com) recently reduced the price to $24.95. 



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ft 



The 
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Bureau 
Member 



TABLE OF CONTENTS SEPTEMBER 2006 



Editor's Note: Clean Out The Junk 

There's no way to sugarcoat it: Your computer is full of junk. 

Some of it you put there: duplicate files you're not even aware of; several hundred photos 
you'll probably never look at; "orphaned" files left behind when you decided to remove appli- 
cations the easy way, by simply deleting files, rather than by using an uninstaller; years' worth of 
email that you've let build up on your system; downloaded programs you've forgotten about 
or whose installers you neglected to delete once you installed the program itself. 

Of course, some of it— perhaps even most of it— you're not responsible for: spyware, 
adware, old Web caches, detritus left behind by poorly coded applications (including some 
sloppy uninstallers, of course). 

Regardless of who's at fault, the end result is a messy, slow system that struggles with tasks it 
once accomplished with blazing speed. The hard drive— as large as it seemed when you first 
got it— is full or nearly so. The Registry is littered with references to applications that are no 
longer present, which causes your PC to waste time as it tries fruitlessly to locate them. Adware 
and spyware soak up valuable system resources as they throw pop-up ads at you or send data 
(sometimes confidential data) back to the "mother ship." Layers of security— firewalls, anti-spy- 
ware apps, antivirus programs, pop-up stoppers— all labor mightily to protect you and your 
computer, but they're not foolproof. And let's not forget, security tools require resources, too. 

You're not alone, of course. Most people these days, even if they're unaware of it, are using 
computers that are slower and less stable than they should be, largely because of "gunk" that 
has collected on their systems. 

This is where we come in. This issue of Smart Computing can help you degunk your 
PC so that it's once again the lean, mean computing machine it was when it was new. So 
read on, and happy degunking! 



Rod Scher, Publication Editor 



Now Available On Newsstands . . . 

Computer Power User * Build The Fastest AMD PC Ever 

AMD's new Socket AM2 platform and CPUs have arrived; we take a look at 
several AM2 motherboards and DDR2 memory kits so you can see which ones 
work best with AMD's new flagship CPU, the FX-62. 

PC Today * You Can Get There From Here 

You can go to Google Local or MapQuest, as many folks do, to get directions 
from point A to point B. But there are some handy Web sites out there that 
offer information tailored to your interests. This month PC Today examines 
those sites and looks at the current state of GPS and navigation devices. 

First Glimpse * The Complete Back-To-School Guide 

Until fairly recently, the most complex electronic equipment students were likely 
to encounter in an educational context was a projector whose operation was en- 
trusted to one capable kid, but the changes of the past generation have been huge. 
Kids start to show real proficiency at age seven, and after that there's no stopping 
them. In this month's issue of First Glimpse, we'll address four age groups and the 
kinds of electronics they're likely to find useful on the path of learning. 

Reference Series * The Incredible iPod 

If you own an iPod, are thinking about an iPod, or are just curious about this new 
technological icon, you owe it to yourself to read this Reference Series issue. 
Whether you're an iPod newbie or an old hand, we tell you everything you need 
to know about how to buy, use, enhance, update, hack, and troubleshoot every- 
one's favorite Apple device. 




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Sandhills 
Publishing- 



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 / 

Holly Zach / Marty Sems / Chad 

Denton / Nathan Chandler / Kylee 

Dickey / Josh Gulick / Andrew 

Leibman / Vince Cogley / Sam Evans / 

Jennifer Johnson / Nathan Lake / 

Barbara Ball / Leah Houchin / 

Tara Simmons 

Web Staff: 

Dorene Krausnick / Laura Curry / 
Kristen Miller 

Customer Service: 

Lana Matic / 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 

Newsstand: 

JeffSchnittker 

Advertising Sales: 

Grant Ossenkop / Eric Cobb/ 
Bob Chester 

Marketing: 

Mark Peery / Liz Kohout / Marcy Gunn 
/Jen Clausen / Scot Banks / Ashley 

Hannant / Travis Brock /Jeff Ashelford / 
Ryan Donohue / Brynn Burtwistle 



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Technology News & Notes 

Compiled by Christian Perry 
Illustrated by Lori Garris 



DESKTOPS & LAPTOPS 



Voodoo Reveals Shift Behind 
The Scenes Of PC Development 



In May, we investigated the 
growing popularity of enthusi- 
ast PCs, which pack boatloads of 
performance into premium-priced 
packages. Traditionally, these desk- 
top and notebook computers at- 
tracted only gamers and designers, 
but in a recent conversation with 
Rahul Sood, president of Voodoo 
Computers, manufacturer of high- 
performance PCs, we discovered 
why these machines are breaking 
those barriers. 

"With the home theater getting 
more integrated into the home, 
HDTV content, digital music, and 
Microsoft [Windows] Media Cen- 
ter with future Vista [installed], 
there is no doubt in my mind that 
enthusiast PCs are gaining in popu- 
larity," Sood says. "The trick is to 
be able to balance customer needs 
with the hardware specifications — 
there's no need to maximize every 
single component in the machine." 

In fact, Voodoo Computers 
doesn't necessarily seek to install the 
fastest processors in its computers 
while ignoring power requirements. 
Instead, Sood says that his company 
prefers processors that allow sys- 
tems to perform at aggressive levels 
while still offering reasonable man- 
agement over temperatures. 

"In other words, we don't like 
building PCs that sound like race- 
cars; we prefer building PCs that 
perform like racecars," Sood says. 
"Obviously, performance is going 
to be key, but performance doesn't 
always require a painfully loud, 
painfully power-hungry processor. 
If you look at how AMD became so 



successful, it turned the entire in- 
dustry on its head by focusing on 
power. I think other companies, 
like Nvidia and ATI, need to do 
the same. Personally, I hate the 
fact that I have to spec out a 1KW 
power supply to power a future 
gaming machine. I think it's an 
absolute joke." 

There's no denying that enthu- 
siast computers represent the best 
and brightest that today's PC tech- 
nology has to offer. But can these 
machines force a trickle- down ef- 
fect on lower-end machines, sim- 
ilar to how high-end graphics cards 
force manufacturers of lower-end 
cards to improve the speeds and 
lower the prices of those devices? 

"Yes, but low-end PC manu- 
facturers typically find ways to cut 



corners at the long-term expense of 
their customers," Sood says. "This 
can't last. I think you'll see major 
OEMs [original equipment manu- 
facturers] growing their business 
by increasing their ASPs [average 
selling prices] and even losing mar- 
ket share in some areas." 

Sood says Microsoft's Vista will 
have a tremendous impact on the 
PC world, shifting the focus from 
the predominantly multitasking- 
oriented machines we see now. "I 
believe entertainment will be the 
focus [of future consumer PCs], just 
based on Microsoft's push to make 
Vista the ultimate gaming and 
entertainment OS [operating sys- 
tem]," he says. "I have high hopes 
for Vista, even in light of the delays. 
Vista is going to rock our world." I 




The lightning-fast 
Omen desktop from 
Voodoo Computers 
starts at $6,400 and 
features a liquid 
cooling system. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 7 



TECH NEWS 



STORAG E 



Next-Gen Discs Now More Affordable (But Players Aren't) 



Amid all the recent hype surrounding Blu 
ray, another newfangled, high- capacity 
storage medium has nearly become an af- 
terthought. And even though HD DVD 
manufacturers appear determined to 
make the technology a legitimate 
contender to the new optical disc 
crown, pricing options still aren't 
attractive — for either technology. 
Starting in August, Universal 
Studios plans to drop prices on 
its HD DVD movie titles from 
$34.95 to $29.95, but prices 
for HD DVD/DVD hybrid discs 
won't change. Meanwhile, early 
Blu-ray titles are already priced 
reasonably, with some retailers sell- 
ing movies for as low as $19.99, but 
consumers should expect similarly 
priced HD DVD discs soon because the new 
prices reflect only the suggested retail. 




Yet for most consumers, movie prices 
are moot when considering the fact that 
dedicated HD DVD players still hover 
around the $500 mark, while Blu-ray 
players are even more expensive. 
Although manufacturers promise 
less expensive equipment in the 
near future, many observers 
don't expect truly affordable 
next-generation players until 
Sony's PlayStation 3 appears 
later this year. 

With an integrated Blu-ray 
drive, the PS3 gaming console 
could drastically impact the Blu- 
ray market, where gamers will 
likely want to rent Blu-ray titles by 
the millions, which, in turn, will 
boost the availability of Blu-ray media 
and dedicated players, as well as decrease 



their prices. 



DISPLAYS 



Focusing On OLED 

Future displays could rely heavily on OLED (or- 
ganic light- emitting diode), which promises 
to transform the way manufacturers approach 
display designs. We asked Janice Mahon, 
vice president of technology commercial- 
ization at Universal Display, to fill us in 
on the current state of OLED. 

SC: What kinds of devices will use 
OLED? 

JM: Right now, OLEDs are being used 
in devices with small- area displays, such as 
cell phones or MP3 players. In the future, 
large- area displays, such as televisions, may 
be a reality. For instance, Samsung demon- 
strated a prototype 40-inch display last year. 

SC: When will consumers be able to buy 
OLED-equipped devices? 

JM: OLED products have been in the market 
for a couple of years now, mainly in Asia. This year, 




BenQ released a "candy bar"-style cell phone with 
the first active-matrix OLED display — the 
S88 — that received favorable product re- 
views. We also are working with a number 
of leading display manufacturers who 
have plans to introduce OLEDs to the 
market in the near future. 

SC: Is it true that OLED displays 
have a short life span? 

JM: OLED displays continue to ad- 
vance. Today, the materials that are 
used to make an OLED display are 
considered to have life spans that are 
sufficient for cell phones and other 
portable electronics. We, and others 
in the industry, continue to work on 
advances in materials to meet the more 
stringent requirements for TVs and other 
long-lived applications. I 



8 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH NEWS 



PRINTERS & PERIPHERALS 



Print Server Solves Distance, Quantity Problems 



Thanks to dropping prices and wide-ranging abilities, 
printers are consuming office space at a blinding rate. 
No longer is it enough to have an inkjet printer to handle all 
the printing duties because low- cost laser and multifunction 
printers are now too tempting for many users to pass up. 
But where to put them all and how to handle their complex 
configuration often leaves many questions unanswered. 

D-Link has an answer to these questions in the form of 
its DPR- 1260 RangeBooster G Multifunction Print Server 
($120; www.dlink.com). This wireless device lets you share 
up to four printers or multifunction devices, which means 
you can place your printers wherever you like and not 
worry about running cables to connect your computers to 
them. Better yet, you no longer need to run a host PC in 
order to print from other networked PCs. 

We gave the DPR- 1260 a test drive and came away im- 
pressed with the server's ability to make our life with 
printers far simpler. For the initial configuration, we con- 
nected the server to our local wireless router using an 
Ethernet cable, plugged in the external power supply, and 
connected our multifunction printer to one of four USB 



ports on the device's rear panel. From here, we easily con- 
figured the server using D-Link's setup wizard. 

After the installation, not only could we print wirelessly, 
but we also used a Web -based interface to scan documents 
and photos directly to our computer. If you have multi- 
ple printers or a printer that's remotely loca- 
ted in your home or office, the DPR- 1260 
provides an instant remedy for those printer- 
related headaches. 

D-Link's DPR-1 260 print server lets you connect up to four 
printers to it and print wirelessly using any computer on 
your network. 




CPUs, CHIPS & CARDS 



Fonimula For Success? 



As we edge closer to the reality of quad-core pro 
cessors, some motherboard manufacturers 
are already pumping out silicon that can 
handle the upcoming processor technolo- 
gies. For example, take GIGABYTE'S 
new GA-965P-DQ6 (www. gigabyte 
.com.tw), a motherboard we can't 
help but think is taking the "quad" 
concept a bit far. 

Based on Intel's P965 chipset, the 
motherboard supports Intel's Core 2 
Duo processor and its next-genera- 
tion Kentsfield quad- core chip that's 
expected to be released early next year. 
But if that's not enough quad support 
for you, GIGABYTE'S new board also in- 
cludes: Quad BIOS, which distributes four 
copies of the BIOS (Basic Input/Output 
System) between the hard drive and driver CD; 




Quad Cooling, which combines Crazy Cool and 
Silent- Pipe technologies to cool various chipsets; 
Quad Triple Phase, which incorporates 12 
power phases for more consistent CPU 
power; Quad e-SATA2, which provides 
four sets of external SATA (Serial 
Advanced Technology Attachment) 
ports; and Quad DDR2 Slots for 
memory using DDR2-800 technology. 
Alas, not everything on this mo- 
therboard comes in fours. Also 
included are two PCI (Peripheral 
Component Interconnect) Express 
xl6 slots, one PCI Express xl slot, a 
Marvell Gigabit LAN (local-area net- 
work) controller, eight SATA 3Gbps 
(gigabits per second) connectors, three 
FireWire ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports, and an 
eight-channel ALC888DD audio codec. I 



Smart Computing / September 2006 9 



TECH NEWS 



DIG ITAL M ISCELLAN EA 



Is Windows Spying On You? 



Microsoft makes no secret of the fact that its Windows 
software is heavily pirated around the globe. Even so, 
the company did hide a tidbit about its WGA (Windows 
Genuine Advantage) program, which Microsoft uses to con- 
firm that people are using legitimate copies of Windows XP. 

Since last year, Windows users have been required to 
install WGA in order to download any Windows updates 
other than critical updates (users can still download those 
critical patches without installing WGA). If WGA detects 
an unofficial copy of Windows, the program sends alerts to 
the user during startup, login, and regular usage of the OS 
(operating system). 

However, Microsoft recently admitted that WGA doesn't 
just confirm that Windows copies are genuine, but that it also 
phones home. According to Microsoft, the program secretly 
contacts Microsoft every couple of weeks to ensure that the 
program is still working correctly, a feature that the company 
claims is necessary because the program is in a testing phase. 

In addition to voicing concerns that the notification fea- 
ture could lead to security leaks, some Windows users claim 



that WGA has flagged their legitimate Windows copies as pi- 
rated and now subsequently bombards them with alerts. For 
its part, Microsoft says that although it understands that cus- 
tomers might be concerned, WGA is safe to install and use. I 




;.:<':- . • . ■ .■■• ■•■ •. ..-.•..-:■ . 

' upgrades from Microsoft, 

>'■'■.!: ■ v ' 



If you're using a copy of Windows XP 
that Microsoft's WGA (Windows 
Genuine Advantage) program claims 
isn't genuine, you'll receive warning 
alerts such as this. 



PROBLEM-SOLVER: TROUBLESHOOTING THE NEWS 



Why won't my CF (CompactFlash) 
card work in my camera? 

If your camera indicates there's an 
error with your CF card, it's possible 
the card's data is corrupted. This can 
occur if you turn off your camera be- 
fore it finishes writing to the card, 
if the batteries die or run low, or if 
you remove the card while the camera 
is still writing to it. Try reformatting 
the card using the camera's built-in 
formatting utility. 

Why is my monitor emitting a 
loud whine? 

Some monitors simply make more 
noise than others, so if your monitor is 
new (or newly acquired), you might be 
forced to live with the noise. But some 
monitors can emit noise depending on 
their settings, so try turning down the 



m 



-UNty E-Mail Notification Log Updates 



Network Interface 



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- ' • : ....'•'" ' .■■■■■■: 



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If you're having trouble accessing a 
networked printer, make sure your 
firewall is configured to let other PCs 
on the network access the device. 



monitor's brightness setting or chang- 
ing its refresh rate. 



Why can't I access a networked 
printer? 

If you're trying to access a printer 
on your network using a nonhost 
PC, check the firewall settings on the 
host PC. For example, Sygate Per- 
sonal Firewall includes an option that 
lets others share files and printers, 
and if you don't select it, your net- 
worked computer won't have access 
to the printer. 

My system won't boot. Help! 

If you just built a new computer and 
it won't boot, or if your existing PC 
doesn't boot, remove all of the hard- 
ware except for the power supply, 
motherboard, CPU, graphics card, and 
one memory module. If the system 
boots, add devices back to your PC 
one at a time until you find the culprit. 



10 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH NEWS 



CONVERGENT TECH: PDAs & SMARTPHONES 



Linux To Open Up Mobile Devices Industry 



We've heard of Linux on desktop 
computers, but what about 
Linux on phones? Recent develop- 
ments from mobile-centric compa- 
nies could soon give Windows 
Mobile and Palm OS a run for their 
collective money. 

In June, startup company a la 
Mobile announced its own Linux mo- 
bile smartphone platform, which 
includes a complete software 
stack of the kernel, middle 
ware, and applications. Re- 
ferred to as Convergent 
Linux Platform, the sys- 
tem lets manufacturers 
select their own compo- 
nents and functions, as 
well as design their own 
look and feel to ac- 
commodate different 
requirements in the 
consumer and enterprise 
markets. 

"The desire for an open 
and non-proprietary oper- 
ating system for mobile hand 
sets is well recognized," said Bill 
Hughes, principal analyst at In- 
Stat, in a statement. "Linux is poised 
to become the primary mobile oper- 
ating system that is not proprietary. 
The availability of a la Mobile's Linux 
offering could bridge a key gap for 
the wireless industry." 

The platform is driven by two 
"software mobility" engines. HME 
(Hardware Mobility Engine) works as 



a type of BIOS for phones and lets 
manufacturers create families of 
phones while using the same under- 
lying software stack for all the models. 
According to A la Mobile, HME lets 
manufacturers support both Linux 
and other OSes on the same mobile 




phone hardware platform. This en- 
gine is poised to save manufacturers 
plenty of time when introducing new 
models to the market, and it also 
should help ensure that software is 
compatible and interoperable across 
all models of a product line. 



The platform's NME (Network 
Mobility Engine) delivers a frame- 
work for "seamless handover of IP- 
based services," such as voice, data, 
and video among different networks. 
This should allow the devices to easily 
switch between cellular and Wi-Fi 
networks when necessary (and when 
both are available). 

However, a la Mobile isn't the only 
player in the mobile Linux game. 
Six companies — Motorola, NEC, 
Panasonic, Samsung, Voda- 
fone, and NTT DoCoMo— 
recently announced plans to 
design an open, Linux- 
based platform for mobile 
devices. Unlike the other 
Linux-based mobile ef- 
forts (which generally 
don't remain open be- 
cause creators spend a lot 
of time developing them) 
this collaboration seeks to 
create a platform that any in- 
terested company can use. 
Other Linux- focused groups 
also are seeking to boost the 
use of Linux on handheld devices. 
These include the Linux Phone 
Standards Forum (or LiPS), with 
members such as PalmSource, France 
Telecom, Cellon, and MontaVista; 
the MLI (Mobile Linux Initiative), 
whose members include Intel, Brit- 
ish Telecom, PalmSource, and Motor- 
ola; and CELF (Consumer Electronics 
Linux Forum). I 



DULY QUOTED 



"We are very stupid in this country." 

-Betty "BJ" Ostergren, founder of The Virginia Watchdog, describes lawmakers' 

half-hearted attempts to force agencies to clear citizens' personal records 

of sensitive information before posting them online. 

(Source: CNN) 



Smart Computing / September 2006 11 



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TECH NEWS 



News From The Help Desk 



Our Most Common 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 three of the most common or timely tech 
support questions and provide our solution for each of them. 



How can I fully uninstall a program? 

A If your software has an uninstall utility, use it. To find 
the uninstall utility, click the Start menu and Programs 
(or All Programs in Windows XP). From the resulting list, 
select the submenu of the program you want to uninstall. If 
you see another program there that includes "Uninstaller" or 
"Uninstall" as part of its name, click its name to launch it. 

If you don't see an uninstaller, you may need to check the 
program's directory. Right- click the Start menu and click 
Explore. In the left pane, click the plus signs (+) next to My 
Computer and Program Files. Locate the folder that has the 
application you want to uninstall and select it. In the right 
pane, you'll see the folder's contents. If you see an uninstall 
utility listed, double-click its file (typically, it's an EXE [exe- 
cutable] file) to launch it. 

If you still haven't found an uninstaller for your program, 
you'll need to use Windows' Add Or Remove Programs tool. 
To launch this tool, click Control Panel from the Start menu 
and double-click Add Or Remove Programs. Select the pro- 
gram from the Currently Installed Programs list and click the 



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If the application you want to remove doesn't have an uninstall utility, 
use Windows' Add Or Remove Programs tool to uninstall the application. 



Remove button (or Change/Remove in WinXP). Then, follow 
the on-screen prompts to remove the program. 

After completing the uninstall process, if you notice that 
there are still shortcuts to the program on your Desktop, you 
can delete them by right- clicking the shortcut's icon and 
clicking Delete. When prompted, click Yes to confirm that 
you want to delete the shortcut. 

In most cases, the steps we outlined will remove an applica- 
tion fully. However, if you want to take more steps to ensure 
that there are no unnecessary orphan files associated with a 
program, you might want to consider buying a special pro- 
gram that's dedicated to managing uninstall procedures. For 
example, Ashampoo Uninstaller Platinum 2 ($49.99; 
www.ashampoo.com) and Norton SystemWorks 2006 Basic 
Edition ($39.99; www.symantec.com) keep track of system 
changes when you install software so that they can eliminate 
any files left behind on your hard drive or in the Registry after 
you uninstall the software. Other programs that aid in safely 
cleaning up orphan files include McAfee QuickClean ($39.99, 
plus an annual $24.99 subscription fee; us.mcafee.com/root 
/catalog.asp?catid=pcall) and McAfee Registry Power Cleaner 
($29.95), among others. 

I've heard a lot about email spoofing. 
What is it? Can I avoid it? 

A Email spoofing is when you receive an email message 
that appears to be from someone other than the actual 
sender. You'll see email spoofing most often with messages 
that are infected with a form of malware (such as a worm) or 
that originated from a computer infected with malware. The 
tricky thing about making this determination is that you can't 
necessarily assume that the message's apparent sender has the 
infected computer because there are many worms that collect 
email addresses from the address books, inboxes, and docu- 
ments of infected computers. 

For example, if your brother's computer is infected, and he 
has your email address in his address book (or elsewhere on 
his computer), the worm can gather your email address 
(along with all the other addresses it's collecting) and create 
email messages that appear to come from your email address. 
So, if a friend tells you that she received an email message 
from you that you never sent, there's a high likelihood that 
your email address has been spoofed. Likewise, if you receive 
"delivery- failure" error messages for emails you never sent, 
your address has probably been spoofed. 



14 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH NEWS 



Remember that your system isn't necessarily infected if 
these things happen; it is just as likely that someone you know 
is infected. Reduce your exposure to such threats by installing 
antivirus software and keeping it current. Also, use caution 
when opening attachments or clicking links in messages that 
you're not sure came from the sender. When in doubt, con- 
tact the sender and confirm that she really sent the message. 



I need to replace my primary hard drive. How do I do this? 

A If your old drive still functions, start by creating either a 
backup of important files or a ghost image of your old 
drive. Drive- imaging software can create a ghost image that 
contains all of a hard drive's contents so that you can use it to 
restore a system later or transfer the drive's contents and con- 
figurations to a new drive. The procedure for using drive- 
imaging software (sometimes called disk-imaging or ghosting 
software) varies, so check your drive-imaging software's doc- 
umentation for specific details. Also, be sure to save the ghost 
image or backup files to a disc or external hard drive so you 
can copy them to your new hard drive after you install it. 

Shop for a new drive. Next, you'll need to buy a new hard 
drive. The most important thing to know is which hard drives 
are compatible with your PC. Check your computer's or 
motherboard's documentation to find out if your system sup- 
ports EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics) drives or 
SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drives. You 
also may see EIDE support listed as ATA, DMA (Direct 
Memory Access), UltraATA, or UltraDMA. 

If your PC accepts both EIDE and SATA, you have a choice 
of drives. SATA is the newer standard and supports faster 
data-transfer rates, but you can generally find EIDE drives 
priced lower than their SATA counterparts. Some older sys- 
tems may support SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) 
drives, but it's rare to find a desktop PC today that includes 
SCSI support. However, if your PC is one of those desktops 
that accepts only SCSI drives, you'll need to do some hunting 
to find a SCSI drive you can install. 

Once you know what type of hard drive you need, you can 
start shopping for the drive that best meets your needs and 
your budget. You should consider the capacity of the drive in 
gigabytes and the spindle speed in rpm (revolutions per 
minute). Obviously, a drive with a higher capacity will hold 
more data, and a drive with a higher spindle speed will be able 
to access data faster than a drive with a lower spindle speed. 

Remove the old drive. Now it's time to remove the old 
hard drive. Make sure your PC is turned off and unplugged, 
and properly ground yourself before touching anything inside 
the computer's case to avoid discharging static electricity, 
which could damage internal components. From the back of 
the old hard drive, unplug the power connector and remove 
the IDE or SATA cable. Follow your users manual to unscrew 
and remove the hard drive from its bay. 



The back of the new hard drive should have a small piece 
of plastic called a jumper. You need to place the jumper 
over a pair of pins on the back of the hard drive to indicate 
how the system should use the hard drive. Refer to your 
hard drive's documentation to ensure that the drive's 
jumper is in the proper position, which is most likely the 
Master position or whatever position was used for your old 
hard drive. 

Next, insert the drive in the bay according to the instruc- 
tions that came with your PC or computer case. Connect the 
IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) cable and power cable to 
the back of the hard drive. These should only fit in one direc- 
tion, so just make sure that each cable is lined up properly. 

Install Windows or copy the ghost image. Finally, once 
your new drive is installed, you can install Windows or, if 
you have a ghost image, copy it to the new drive. In the case 
of a ghost image, follow the instructions your drive-imaging 
software provided. You can find additional information 
about creating ghost images by typing drive imaging in the 
Search field of the SmartComputing.com Tech Support 
Center (www.smartcomputing.com/techsupport) . 

On the other hand, if you need to install Windows in- 
stead, you can do that at this time. You'll find detailed in- 
structions about reinstalling Windows by visiting our Tech 
Support Center and typing reinstall Windows in the Search 
field. After you finish, don't forget to copy any and/or all of 
the files you backed up to diskette, CD, DVD, or external 
drive to your new hard drive. I 



Feature Package Topics 



Each Smart Computing issue includes tips, reviews, and in- 
formation 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 www.smartcomputing.com. 



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 


July 2006: 


Repair & Speed Up Your System 


August 2006: 


Fix & Avoid Photo Problems 



Smart Computing / September 2006 15 




This Month In Reviews 



Antispam Software 



Contributing Writers 

Chad Denton 

Joshua Gulick 

Kylee Dickey 

Nathan Chandler 

JeffDodd 

Jennifer Farwell 

Vince Cogley 



Next Month 

Instant Messaging 
Applications 



Hit The Road 

Navman PiN 570 Keeps You On Track 



Chad Denton 

Send Chad your opinions at 
chad@smartcomputing.com 



I 



'm not one of those guys who refuses to 
ask for directions because, if I were, I'd 
never get anywhere. I can admit it: My sense 
of direction is utterly pathetic. I'm the target 
demographic for those in-car navigation sys- 
tems. The Navman PiN 570 is a Pocket PC 
that comes with an integrated GPS (global 
positioning system) receiver and special 
navigation software to help you get to your 
destination. Once you arrive, you can take 
the PiN 570 with you to access phone num- 
bers, notes, and email. 



The Hardware 

The PiN 570 is a little larger 
than my Palm Tungsten E, 
measuring 5 x 2.8 x 0.94 inches 
(HxWxD). I thought it was sur- 
prisingly light for its size, how- 
ever, weighing 6.2 ounces. The 
PiN 570 does include a small 
joystick you can use to navigate 
Pocket PC applications. 

According to the technical 
specifications, the PiN 570 in- 
cludes 64MB of RAM, but 
only 55MB is user accessible. 
Remember that Pocket PCs use some RAM 
for running programs, so there's actually 
less than 55MB of RAM available for 
storage. The PiN 570 also comes with 64MB 
of Flash ROM. Navman's SmartST 2005, 
however, appears to use a good portion of 
Flash ROM, leaving only 33.5MB available 
to the user. I recommend installing applica- 
tions to Flash ROM as much as possible to 
leave more space for personal information 
and running applications. Flash ROM will 
also protect applications if your battery runs 
down or you need to perform a hard reset. 

The Software 

The PiN 570 includes all the standard 
Pocket PC software, including Pocket versions 
of Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer. You 




can manage your Outlook Calendar, Con- 
tacts, Notes, Tasks, and Inbox. Navman's 
SmartST 2005 provides access to the PiN 
570's GPS capabilities. 

The SmartST 2005 Pocket PC software 
comes preinstalled on the PiN 570. You'll 
need to install the desktop component from 
the included CDs in order to install specific 
maps. Navman does include a 128MB 
MultiMediaCard for storing maps. 

Once you've installed a map, you can run 
the SmartST software on your Pocket PC. 
Use the joystick to zoom in or 
out or access the main menu. 
From the main menu, you can 
set destinations, create a trip 
consisting of multiple destina- 
tions, or bring up specific 
points of interest. You can use 
the desktop software to create 
your own points of interests. 



PiN 570 

$499.95 
Navman 
(919)376-1000 
www.navman.com 



On The Road Again 



The PiN 570 includes a suc- 
tion cup mount for your car's 
windshield and a DC power 
adapter to keep the PiN 570 
charged while you're driving. SmartST in- 
cludes voice prompts to guide you through 
each turn. The voice prompts proved very 
helpful because the display is almost impos- 
sible to read in bright daylight. Different 
contrast settings are available for the display. 
Some were easier to read than others, but 
none were really easy in bright daylight. A 
night-mode with a dimmer display won't 
blind you while driving at night. The naviga- 
tion itself was good. If you do get off track, 
the software will recalculate your route to get 
you back where you need to be. 

Although the Pocket PC 2003 OS is be- 
coming a bit dated, the PiN 570 does come 
in at a very inexpensive $499.95. Not too bad 
for a navigational system that can help you 
find your way around whether you're driving 
in your car or walking through the city. II 



16 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH DIARIES 



Take Your Show 
On The Road 



Joshua Gulick 

Send your comments to 
joshua@smartcomputing.com 




DC40 

$899 

Canon 

(800) 652-2666 

(949) 753-4000 

www.canon.com 




Scratch Proof Double Sided 
Mini DVD 3-Pack 

$21 

TDK 

(800) 835-8273 

(516)535-2600 

www.tdk.com 



Meet Canon's DVD Camcorder 



A camera is only as good as its cam- 
eraman. In the right hands, a cam- 
corder can record your family history so 
that future generations will enjoy impor- 
tant things: a birthday, a wedding, a new 
baby, the yellow Mustang before Billy 
wrecked it. In the wrong hands, that same 
camcorder will record the cameraman's 
feet, the ground, and the lens cap. Thus, 
you can't expect Canon's newest camcorder 
to balance your lack of recording skills, de- 
spite its great features. You can, however, 
expect to have a ton of fun with it. 

Canon's DC line creates an alternative 
for users who are sick of fumbling with 
standard camcorder cartridges. The DC 
camcorders record your video directly to a 
DVD, which means that you can record 
your movie and then pop the disc into your 
living room DVD player without ever 
touching a computer. Canon sent me the 
DC40, which is the latest in its DC line. It 
records video to mini DVDs, which are 
about the size of your palm, so I asked TDK 
to send me a few of its double-sided, 2.8GB 
mini DVD-Rs (DVD-recordables). They 
offer about 60 minutes of video each. 

Features, Features 

"Muscular" is not a word that one would 
use to describe my geeky frame, so I'm glad 
to see that the DC40 is particularly small 
and light. In fact, my arm never tired. As 
small as it is, the camcorder still boasts a 
2.7-inch widescreen LCD (liquid-crystal 
display). It's bright and crisp. I enjoyed 
browsing and playing back scenes (it has de- 
cent audio) on the camcorder. 

Although I counted more than 20 but- 
tons and switches on the DC40, I found 
the most important buttons easily enough 
and didn't need to pull out the manual 
until I was ready to start playing with the 



camcorder's more advanced features. You 
can reach most of the buttons, including the 
button that starts your preselected special ef- 
fect, with one hand. 

Another neat feature is the camcorder's 
still camera ability. Thanks to a miniSD 
(mini SecureDigital) card and built-in 
camera technology, you can use the DC40 
to take 4 megapixel shots; no need to carry 
an extra digital camera. 

Special Effects 

The DC40 has an array of special effects. 
Want to create a fishbowl effect that makes 
Uncle Phil's head even larger? Done. Want 
to turn your picture into a rotating cube? 
No problem. I got a kick out of the Art 
mode, which gives images a painted look. 
You can also choose from several transition 
effects, such as bouncing or spinning 
screens. If you want to really show off the 
DC40's capabilities, you can set your pic- 
tures (from the miniSD card) to display in 
a slideshow mode while you record. The re- 
sult is that your pictures appear in the cor- 
ners of the screen during the movie. 

I also like the Zoom feature, which dis- 
played clear images of objects two blocks 
away. As with most of the camcorder's con- 
trols, you can reach the Zoom button easily, 
even if you have small hands. 

Making A Movie 

Once you finish recording your movie, 
you'll need to finalize the miniDVD so it 
plays in DVD players. The camcorder 
spends only a few minutes finalizing the 
disc, but the downside is that you'll need to 
plug the camcorder into an outlet for this 
process; if you want to make movies for 
standard DVD players while you're on the 
road, you'll need to lug along the cam- 
corder's power brick. 

Should you choose to take the cam- 
corder plunge, Canon's DC40 certainly 
isn't a bad way to go. If I were to rate the 
device's ease-of-use, feature set, and overall 
quality on a scale of one to 10, I'd be 
handing out nines left and right. It's a solid 
camcorder — whether it produces great 
movies is up to you. II 



Smart Computing / September 2006 17 




Printer Projects 

Specialty Inkjet Papers Let You Get Creative 



Kylee Dickey 

Send your comments to 
kylee@smartcomputing.com 



>T- 






InkJet 

Magnet i 

& Sheets 



4- x 6-inch Post-it Picture 

Paper Semi Gloss 

(25-sheet pack) 

$9.99 

3M 

(888) 364-3577 

www.3m.com 

Magnet Sheets (5-sheet pack) 

$12.82 

Avery 

(800) 462-8379 

www.avery.com 

Shrinky Dinks 
For InkJet Printers 

$8.50 

K& B Innovations 

(800) 445-7448; (262) 966-0305 

www.shrinkydinks.com 



3M 



For years, most of us viewed PCs as tools 
for left-brained activities: spreadsheet 
creation, word processing, storing files, 
and relaying information. In recent years 
though, PCs have taken on a more cre- 
ative role in the home. Not only can you 
save and view digital images and movies, 
but you can also use your computer and 
printer to create many unique projects 
and gifts using a variety of specialty 
inkjet papers. 

Npuu - 

Post Pics 

Recently 3M released its 

Post-it Picture Paper, which 

comes in 4- x 6-inch or 8- x 

10- inch sheets and in either 

matte or semiglossy. My 

Epson Stylus R300 printed 

on the 4- x 6-inch Post-It 

Picture Paper just as it 

would on any other photo 

paper. The end result wasn't quite as good 

as what I get with Epson's glossy photo 

paper, but it was close. 

After printing on the paper, just peel off 
the brown backing and stick the photo any- 
where, just like you would a Post-it Note. 
You can stick your favorite photo to the 
wall of your office cubicle or on the refrig- 
erator at home. You can also print to-do 
lists or other reminders for family mem- 
bers, make a birthday greeting to stick to 
the side of a co-worker's computer, or even 
experiment with collage layouts before 
framing the collage. 

Magnetic Attraction 

One of the other fun inkjet paper kits is 
Avery's Magnet Sheets. These 8.5- x 11- 
inch sheets are thicker than even matte 
inkjet paper but still feed well through 
most printers. Just feed a single sheet into 
your printer's input tray with the black, 
magnetic side facing down. After printing 



the images on the Magnet Sheets, use a 
pair of scissors to cut the magnets into the 
desired shapes. 

There are many uses for Avery's Magnet 
Sheets. For instance, I created a set of mag- 
nets with old photographs as gifts for 
family members. I also compiled a list of 
important phone numbers, added some 
clip art and a decorative border, and 
printed a refrigerator magnet with emer- 
gency contact info. Here are two other 
great tips: Kids love magnets with photos of 
their pets, and grandparents love magnets 
with photos of their grandkids. 

Print Your Own Shrinky Dinks 

My favorite specialty paper is the Shrinky 
Dinks For Ink Jet Printers package. If you 
remember Shrinky Dinks, the plastic sheets 
children could color, cut, and bake in the 
oven, this inkjet paper should bring back a 
sense of nostalgia. Now you're not limited 
to making Smurf, Strawberry Shortcake, or 
dollhouse Shrinky Dinks. You can use your 
inkjet printer to print your own digital 
photos, computer graphics, logos, or other 
images on this special Shrinky Dinks page. 
Cut out the shapes you printed, and bake 
them on a cookie sheet as detailed in the in- 
cluded instructions, and you have instant 
miniature plastic figures of your favorite 
digital images. 

I learned the hard way that it's impor- 
tant to use your favorite image-editing 
program to lighten photos before printing 
them. Shrinky Dinks sheets not only shrink 
in the oven, but they also get darker, more 
vibrant colors as they bake. With Shrinky 
Dinks For Ink Jet Printers, the craft possi- 
bilities are endless. You can turn your fa- 
vorite photos into keychains, gift tags, 
necklaces, and other fun gifts. There are 
several craft ideas available on the Shrinky 
Dinks Web site. 



Dare To Design 

These are just a few of the specialty pa- 
pers available for inkjet printers. You'll also 
find kits for designing mousepads, making 
iron-on transfers, and even creating your 
own coffee mugs. Just select the right nov- 
elty paper and get creative! II 



18 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH DIARIES 



DSLR Lenses 



You Ve Got The Camera-Now You Need The Glass 



Nathan Chandler 

Send insights and insults 

to Nathan at 

nathan@smartcomputing.com 



1 



Today's powerful DSLR (digital SLR 
[single-lens reflex]) cameras might give 
you more confidence in your photography 
skills, but a lot of beginning shooters forget 
that lenses are just as important than the 
camera itself. Pairing the right lenses with 
the right camera requires research and 
some Web -buying savvy. 

DSLR Crop Factor 

One of the biggest differences between 
film and digital SLRs is that the latter intro- 
duce a so-called crop factor when using 
lenses developed for film cameras. Basically 
what this means is that if you use the same 
25mm lens on a film camera and then on a 
DSLR, the digital camera's field of view is 




I 

r 1 



smaller than its film-based cousin's. The 
most popular DSLRs, such as Canon's Rebel 
XT and 20D and Nikon's D50 and D70, ex- 
hibit this phenomenon, which is caused by 
the fact that the camera's image sensor is 
smaller than a traditional 35mm frame. 

The crop factor you see with DSLRs can 
be both a blessing and a curse. Thanks to the 
1.6 crop factor value on Canon's Rebel XT, a 
400mm lens suddenly has the perceived 
magnification of 640mm (400mm x 1.6 = 
640mm); even though the real magnification 
is still only that of a 400mm lens, you'll see 
an effect in which more of your subject fills 
the frame. The downside of course, is that a 
20mm lens becomes a 32mm lens, meaning 



that shots requiring wide-angle views, such 
as broad landscapes, are harder to create. 

There are a couple of developments that 
compensate for crop factor. Canon and Nikon 
introduced a limited variety of their EF-S and 
DX lenses, respectively, designed to counteract 
the cropping effect. These lenses let you create 
wide-angle shots much more easily. And more 
recently, manufacturers began selling full- 
frame DSLRs, which use much larger image 
sensors that do away with the crop factor alto- 
gether. Most full-frame DSLRs are targeted to- 
ward professionals and are more expensive 
than models targeted toward hobbyists. 

Hunt For A Lens 

Once you have a basic understanding of 
how a lens will behave when mounted to 
your new DSLR, you need to buy it. Back in 
the day, you would've just visited a local 
camera store to buy your new optics, but 
with the Web at your disposal, you can 
often get better opinions and prices online. 

If you Google the lens's specifications and 
the word "review," you'll likely find in-depth 
reviews. You'll also find user opinions on 
busy sites such as Digital Photography 
Review (www.dpreview.com). What's more, 
you'll see some surprising patterns, such as 
third-party lenses that outperform overpriced 
lenses from the camera's manufacturer. 

These sites have classified advertising sec- 
tions where you can scan lenses for sale, and 
they may save you a lot of money compared 
to the sticker price on a brand-new lens. If 
you choose to buy a used lens from another 
user, take proper precautions. Verify that the 
seller is an established part of the community 
and not a newcomer who may be a huckster 
looking for a quick score. Request pictures of 
the lens and ask about its usage history. 

You'll often find competitive prices on 
new lenses at sites such as RitzCamera.com, 
while some sites such as BHphoto.com 
carry both new and used lenses. 

Window To The World 

Few photography tools are as flexible and 
powerful as today's DSLRs. You'll get much 
better results though, if you diligently re- 
search the lenses you want before you buy. II 



Smart Computing / September 2006 19 



Sandhills 
Publishing- 



Technology For Your Life. 



FirstGlimpse 




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. 



-~~^\~ on Vocation 

ou , fa vo.«eV.opW Pto 

_ k n\artc» ^ u ' 



Be 



come 



ADv 




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irl 



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



Software 
Head-To-Head 



Antispan 




SONKWALL 



Buying Tips 

Before investing in an antispam 

utility, check with your ISP 

(Internet service provider). 

Some ISPs provide 

complimentary antispam 

protection to paying 

subscribers. These free services 

typically function server-side. 



Spitting Out Spam 

Four Antispam Utilities 



According to recent statistics compiled 
by The Radicati Group, approximately 
121 billion pieces of spam are transmitted 
each day to the roughly 1.4 billion email ac- 
counts currently in existence worldwide. 
That means users can expect approximately 
90 unsolicited email messages to pollute 
each of their inboxes on any given day. 

Fortunately, there is a solution: antispam 
software. Antispam software examines each 
incoming message for spam-like symptoms 
and either delivers it to the user or tosses it in 
a quarantine folder for eventual dumping. 
The software isn't perfect. Every tool listed in 
this roundup is prone to blocking legitimate 
messages from new contacts, for instance. 
Such false-positives are a frustrating but ex- 
pected consequence of the ongoing battle be- 
tween software developers struggling to 
protect PCs and wily hackers looking for new 
ways to sneak past the latest antispam filters. 
Nevertheless, antispam software remains the 
best defense against the virtual tidal wave of 
unsolicited digital content. 



eTrust Anti-Spam 



Formerly known as Qurb, eTrust Anti- 
Spam simplifies the process of inbox protec- 
tion by foregoing user-defined message 
filters in favor of automated safe-sender lists 
culled from the contents of Microsoft 
Outlook and Outlook Express. To be precise, 
the utility grabs every email address it can 
find within these two Microsoft email clients 
and then grants clearance to any message 
sent from these addresses — these addresses 
are combined to make a whitelist. The utility 
updates the list each time the user sends 
email to a new address, and the user can fur- 
ther refine the list by manually adding safe 
addresses to it or by plucking safe addresses 
from the folder of quarantined messages. 

Anti-Spam creates its list of safe senders 
during the installation. At the same time, the 



utility inventories all of the messages, attach- 
ments, appointments, and contact informa- 
tion contained within Outlook and Outlook 
Express. The resulting index is used by Anti- 
Spam's unique Email Search feature, a nifty 
extra that helps a user locate any piece of in- 
formation contained within the email client. 
Anti-Spam locked up Outlook when it ini- 
tially attempted to build its index on our 
system. The problem was resolved by a re- 
boot — a good thing, too, as phone support is 
available only at the rate of $29.95 per inci- 
dent (email support is free) — and never hap- 
pened again, but it got us off to a slow start. 

We had no other serious issues with eTrust 
Anti-Spam. The utility offered convenient 
toolbar access for making one-click additions 
to the list of safe senders. Such ongoing 
training is necessary, of course. We ended up 
reviewing the quarantine folder from time to 
time to obtain legitimate messages from un- 
recognized senders, but the process is over in 
a matter of seconds and common to all good 
antispam utilities. We do wish eTrust Anti- 
Spam would have supported all POP (Post 
Office Protocol) and MAPI (Messaging 
Application Program Interface) clients and 
not only Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook 
Express. Such a limitation prevents users of 
other email clients, including Netscape and 
Mozilla, from using the program. 



SonicWALL Email Security Desktop 



SonicWALL Email Security Desktop has 
much in common with eTrust Anti-Spam. 
Like Anti-Spam, Email Security Desktop 
(formerly known as MailFrontier Desktop) is 
a rebranded product. And like eTrust Anti- 
Spam, it secures a system against spam by al- 
lowing messages from only those addresses 
that the user identifies in advance as legiti- 
mate. Both programs support POP and 
MAPI accounts through the Outlook and 
Outlook Express email clients only, and both 
are sold as one-year subscription services. 
Anti-Spam and Email Security Desktop also 
boast similar features, including toolbar ac- 
cess, support for multiple accounts, and a 
challenge function, which allows the anti- 
spam utility to verify the identity of unrecog- 
nized senders by requesting that the senders 
respond correctly to a challenge question be- 
fore the utility will forward their messages to 
the recipient. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 21 



Reviews 



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[ OnlyMyEmail 

Total Control of Your Email 



COV.PANV SJPPOR- 




Prefe re rices 





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Yet there are differ- 
ences between the 
two. One is apparent 
during the setup 
phase. Email Security 
Desktop provides sev- 
eral adjustable content 
filters that function 
independently of each 
other so that users can 
dictate with remark- 
able precision the 
degree to which they 
want to weed out 
messages containing 
sexual content, offensive language, get- rich- 
quick schemes, gambling promotions, ad- 
vertisements, and/or embedded images. 
Anti-Spam does not have these filters. Email 
Security Desktop's other distinguishing extras 
include a built-in reporting tool that provides 
users with real-time spam assessments and a 
wireless message forwarding feature by which 
legitimate messages are delivered to one or 
more wireless devices of the user's choosing. 

Of the four antispam utilities we consid- 
ered this month, Email Security Desktop was 
the easiest to set up and use. For the most 
part, the program takes care of itself, which is 
good because calling for help is not an op- 
tion (although email support is available). 



OnlyMyEmail 



OnlyMyEmail is a Web-based service 
that operates in the cyberdistance between 



the email server and the PC. As such, it repre- 
sents a contrasting paradigm to the desktop- 
based antispam solutions provided by 
Computer Associates and SonicWALL. Both 
methods are effective at combating spam, but 
the processes involved are quite different. 

Obtaining an account with OnlyMyEmail 
is as easy as clicking a few links, providing 
billing information, setting up a user name 
and password, and registering a current 
email address. This process results in a new 
OnlyMyEmail account. So far, so good. But 
then the user must reconfigure his existing 
email client for the OnlyMyEmail address 
and server. The user's original email address 
remains the functional address, but in- 
coming messages are filtered through the 
OnlyMyEmail account. 

Users who are comfortable working with 
their email client settings will have no 
problem understanding this part of the 
process, but it could create anxiety in less ex- 
perienced users. Moreover, we disliked the 
fact that our outgoing messages bore the 
OnlyMyEmail domain even though we con- 
figured the utility to use our ISP's (Internet 
service provider's) outgoing SMTP (Simple 
Mail Transfer Protocol) server. This could 
prove confusing to individuals who may as- 
sume we changed email addresses. Worse, it 
could conflict with other antispam utilities 
such as eTrust Anti-Spam that are configured 
to block messages from unfamiliar addresses. 

Having said that, after a little training, 
OnlyMyEmail was otherwise easy to use and 



Software Information 




Price 


Company 


Contact Information 


URL 


eTrust Anti-Spam 
Email Security Desktop 

OnlyMyEmail 

VQme Anti Spam 
with Webmail 


$29.95 for one-year 
subscription 

$29.95 for one-year 
subscription 

$3 per month 

$24.95 for one-year 
subscription 


Computer Associates 
International 

SonicWALL 

OnlyMyEmail 
Vanquish 


(877) 694-8509 
(631)342-4010 

(408) 745-9600 

(734)780-2184 
(508) 486-9040 


www.ca.com 

www.sonicwall.com 

www.onlymyemail.com 
www.vanquish.com 


Srnrprarri ^^^^^^ 




Features Ease Of Use 


Installation 


Support/Documents 


Price 


Overall Score 

4.2/5 


eTrust Anti-Spam 

Email Security Desktop 

OnlyMyEmail 

VQme Anti Spam 
With Webmail 


4 5 

5 5 
5 4 
3 4 


4 
5 
4 
4 


4 
3 
3 
5 


4 
4 
3 
5 


4.4/5 


3.8/5 


4.2/5 



22 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Reviews 



V@nquish 

MLabs 



Buying Tips 

Third-party antispam utilities 

do not work with Webmail 

accounts. Webmail users 

should refer to the online help 

files associated with their 

Webmail accounts to find out 

what antispam options are 

available to them. 



effective at catching spam. The service al- 
lows users to add email addresses to Always 
Allow and Definitely Block lists, and it offers 
a variety of intuitive spam-fighting prefer- 
ences, offering 1 1 categories of potential of- 
fenders that the user can choose to accept or 
decline. We liked that it can be used to con- 
solidate multiple POP3 and IMAP (Internet 
Message Access Protocol) email addresses 
into a single spam-free inbox. That's a huge 
benefit for users who juggle personal and 
business addresses on one PC. Another nice 
extra was the daily spam report message, 
which consolidates all blocked message 
headers into a single report for convenient 
review and retrieval of legitimate correspon- 
dence. And the feature we found most ap- 
pealing was the OnlyMyEmail passcode, a 
user- selected keyword that ensures the mes- 
sage will end up in the user's inbox. 

OnlyMyEmail supports all major POP 
email clients. But like other antispam utili- 
ties, this service cannot accommodate Web- 
based accounts. Support is available via 
email, and all tech documentation is online. 



VQme Anti Spam With Webmail 



As is the case with OnlyMyEmail, the 
Web-based VQme Anti Spam service pro- 
tects a PC by insinuating itself between an 
email server and the end-user's PC. That 
means the user must set up a user profile 
and a corresponding @vqme.com email ad- 
dress. The process was quite easy for us, as 
VQme handled the entire configuration on 
its own, automatically configuring Outlook 
Express — we assume it would do the same 
for all other supported email clients — with 
the correct incoming and outgoing mail 
servers, user name, and password. We were 
somewhat surprised that we had to review 
the list of email addresses and 
specify which ones we wanted to in- 
clude on the list of safe senders. It 
wasn't difficult, but the utility could 
and should have handled for us. 

Users of VQme Anti Spam dis- 
cover that the program takes a 
unique approach to spam manage- 
ment. Its most radical feature is re- 
ferred to as Personal Value Control. 
This is essentially a five- cent bond 
that VQme emailers promise to pay 
to individuals who receive spam 



from them. The idea is interesting and has 
potential in theory, but carries little practical 
value as it only works when both parties use 
VQme or a supporting ISP. The worst spam 
offenders are not likely to fit those criteria. 
Fortunately, the program's other unique fea- 
tures offer much more value to the user. 

We appreciated its various smart fea- 
tures, including Smart Subject, which mon- 
itors the Subject lines of outgoing messages 
and permits messages that have similar sub- 
ject lines, and Surf Match, which monitors 
the user's online activity and permits in- 
coming messages sent from sites where the 
user has conducted business or requested 
information. That sounds a lot like spyware 
to us, but Vanquish insists its software reg- 
isters nothing more than the names of the 
domains involved in online transactions. 

Like Email Security Desktop and OnlyMy- 
Email, VQme offers a free trial period for 
prospective users. And like OnlyMyEmail, it 
provides a Webmail option so users can check 
their VQme.com email address from any 
computer that has access to the Web. Unlike 
the competition, VQme gives paying users 
free phone-based support for the first 180 
days of use. 

No Spam Is Good Spam 

To users who suffer from spam, any app 
that minimizes spam is good. As such, we'd 
recommend all of the utilities in this month's 
roundup. Nevertheless, one program stands 
apart from the rest for its ease of use, behind- 
the-scenes demeanor, and nifty extras: 
SonicWALL's Email Security Desktop. It earns 
this month's Smart Choice designation. II 

by Jeff Dodd 



SONICWALL 



September 2006 
Smart Choice 



SonicWALL Email Security Desktop 



Smart Computing / September 2006 23 



Software Reviews 



Email 



Change Your Outlook On Email 



Eudora 7 

$49.95 

Qualcomm 

(800) 238-3672 

eudora-support@ 

qualcomm.com 

www.eudora.com 



EUDORA 



Scorecard 



If Windows' free email client, Outlook 
Express, doesn't offer enough oomph for 
you, but you do not require the robust com- 
munication and schedule management fea- 
tures of Microsoft Outlook, you might want to 
give Eudora a look. This serviceable email pro- 
gram, which is available in paid, sponsored 
(free with ads), and light (free, no ads) versions 
is a popular alternative to Microsoft's offerings. 



Caveat Emptor 

Before we proceed, we should issue two 
warnings. First, Eudora uses the general 
Microsoft interface framework, so the pro- 
gram, at first glance, will look familiar to 
Windows users. However, visual elements 
such as icons, menu items, and in some cases, 
operational logic are quite different from its 
Microsoft competitors. 

Second, in our tests, when we tried to use 
Eudora's New Account Setup Wizard to 
import a rather complex 
Outlook configuration, an 
unknown problem tran- 
spired that caused Eudora 
to crash and also caused 
Outlook to lose track of all our data folders, 
email accounts, signatures, and rules, and very 
oddly, the Rules And Alerts feature, as well. 

The logical answer is that the Windows 
Registry was somehow corrupted during the 
import process (thank heavens for System 
Restore). However, the technical staff at 
Qualcomm insists that Eudora does not make 
changes to the Windows Registry and that 
some other background process must have 
caused this problem. Because we believe in al- 
ways erring on the side of safety, we recom- 
mend users with complex or data- intensive 
Outlook configurations avoid using this fea- 
ture and instead handle the import process 
using a workaround we discuss below. 



Performance 4 
Ease Of Use 4 
Installation 3 
Documentation 5 
Price 3 
Overall Score 3.8/5 



Installation & Setup 

If you are starting from scratch or want to 
migrate ALL your pre-existing data to Eudora, 
Eudora makes the process painless. Download 
and installation of Eudora is a breeze — you 



can even go ahead and download important 
documents such as the Read Me file and the 
users manual from the same site. (If you 
aren't an installation pro, review the Read Me 
file first, as it offers a step-by- step explanation 
of the installation process.) When you open 
Eudora for the first time, the New Account 
Setup Wizard opens and will help you estab- 
lish a new account or migrate your existing 
one (this is an all-or-nothing proposition). 

If you want to ensure maintaining your 
existing email system for the time being (or 
want more control over the import process) 
Eudora offers manual setup options. When 
the New Account Setup Wizard opens, select 
Skip Directly To Advanced Account Setup. 

Later, use the Advanced option in Eudora's 
Import feature on the File menu to import 
your Netscape preferences and data (this re- 
quires some preconfiguration), Outlook 
Express folders and address book, or Outlook 
personal data files. Unfortunately, there is no 
way to import text files. Using the Import 
feature, Eudora also will not maintain 
folder/subfolder hierarchies (you can resolve 
this later by moving mailboxes about). 

Seal The Deal 

If you can get past the installation and inter- 
face quirks, Eudora is a nice program. The paid 
version offers a decent spam filter, a robust 
rules feature, and interesting oddities such as 
graphical usage charts. Another highlight is 
Eudora's lightening- fast search feature, which 
maintains an ongoing index of your messages. 

In the final analysis, some of Eudora's ap- 
parent quirks are actually improvements 
over its competitors. For example, Eudora 
opens the preview pane of each folder you 
access as a new window rather than as a re- 
placement for the existing window. This lets 
you toggle from one open folder to the next 
by clicking it in the taskbar just beneath the 
preview pane. For PC users just starting out, 
Eudora is a fine program. For anyone mi- 
grating from another email client, however, 
it is a hot potato to be handled with care. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 



24 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Software Reviews 



Springdoo 

Free 

Springdoo Limited 

64 3 357 9949 (New Zealand) 

www.springdoo.com 



Consumer 



Scorecard 



Performance 4 
Ease Of Use 5 
Installation 5 
Documentation 3 
Price 5 
Overall Score 4.4/5 



Process Library Quick 
Access InfoBar 

Free 

Uniblue Systems 

356-23275000 (Malta) 

contact@uniblue.net 

www.processl i brary.com 

/quickaccess 



Scorecard 



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



You Ought To Be In Pictures 



When you're far away, email, ecards, and 
digital images maintain a connection 
with family and friends, but they can't 
replicate the intimacy of home movies. 
Conversely, the logistics of recording and 
sending video over the Internet can be 
daunting. With Springdoo, you can't send the 
entire family vacation video, but you can send 
a multimedia email up to three minutes long. 

Springdoo is server-based and a snap to 
use. After you create a free Springdoo ac- 
count, log into the company's site, click a 
few buttons, enter a message for the email, 
and record your message. Recipients receive 
an email with a link to the Springdoo site 
where they go to play the message. 

The first time you log- in, a pop -up win- 
dow will ask for permission to access your 
microphone and Web cam (both of which 
you'll need for multimedia recordings) and 
help you establish some basic settings. 

If you have a microphone but no Web 
cam, you can also send audio-only emails 
up to 10 minutes long. If you have no 



equipment, Springdoo will recommend some 
you can purchase directly from Amazon.com 
through its site. Springdoo also gives you a 
Contacts list and helps you import existing 
contacts from a variety of email services. 



springdoo 



viiieu email mnde easy 



^11*11 (.uhsW ^^2) 




Record 



tf 



k Seni! m* a cony ol !his m 



liiirlTl'lliillll") 



Springdoo's privacy policy says it does not 
share your information. We wouldn't use 
the service too often, but for birthdays, holi- 
days, and other special occasions, it might 
be just the thing. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 



Utilities 



Explore Your System 



Shut Down Help 



>>::.:■': :.-.: '■'•"■'' ' , ; • ; ..'..:■■;. 



Image Name 
drwtsn32.exe 
N5CSRVCE.EXE 
realsched.exe 

GoogleDesktopIn... 
hueyTray.exe 

... .... .. . 

• • •'•■:: :■:•-. - 
..•-.. ■■- 
. • .":: : :: 

DesktopWeather.., 

. ::. : .::■.-. . : :: .: 

PlaxoHelper.exe 

. :''--... . : . ■ 

msiexec.exe 

.' '. : ' : :;-. 



• : ■ '■ 

Jennifer 
5Y5TEM 

' ;■■:■-:•: 

. 

e 
: 

. 

.. ■ 

:: .:.: 



' •'. '' ■..■■:■ 



Windows NT-based 
systems, have a tool, 
the Windows Task Mana- 
ger, that lets you force- 
close running applications, 
reboot the system, and 
generally see what's going 
on with your PC. 

Much of the information 
the Task Manager provides 
is inscrutable to the average 
user. This is especially true 
of the Processes tab, which 
lists executable files. Some processes are easy to 
decipher. Others are downright unfathomable. 

Enter Process Library Quick Access 
InfoBar, a free utility that illuminates the 
function of processes running on your PC. 
Once you install this tool, you'll see next to 
each process a little blue circle with an "I" in 
it. Click it, and you'll open a Web site telling 
you what the process is and does, what com- 
pany or person authored it, and whether it's 



. 



safe to stop running it. If the 
name can correspond with 
more than one executable, 
you'll find out, as well. 

Process Library Quick 
Access Bar can help you 
find resource hogs that are 
slowing your system down. 
It can also help you iden- 
tify spyware and other un- 
wanted programs. 

Because Process Library 
Quick Access Bar is a free- 
bie, don't expect much support. However this 
purely informational tool doesn't make any 
changes to your PC, so you shouldn't run into 
problems. Even if you accidentally shut down 
a needed process, a quick reboot should re- 
solve the problem (unless you are already ex- 
periencing system issues, at which time you 
may need more help than this tool offers). II 

by Jennifer Farwell 



Commit :harge:275M/ 1547M 



Smart Computing / September 2006 25 



Staff Picks 

Our Experts Pick The Best Hardware 



EOS30D 



If you've been putting off buying a pricey digital SLR (single 
lens reflex) in the hopes that you'd finally find a good bal- 
ance among image quality, features, and performance, you 
haven't been paying attention. There are a number of excel- 
lent midrange SLRs on the market right now, but few can 
match the extensive capabilities of Canon's EOS 30D. 

The 30D uses this company's proven 8.2MP DIGIC II 
sensor, which appeared in the massively popular 20D. The 
30D includes interesting improvements, though, such as a 
2.5-inch color monitor, an improved shutter mechanism 
with a longer estimated lifespan, and performance that's 
faster than its already- speedy predecessor — you can capture 
up to 30 JPEGs or 1 1 RAW images without experiencing any 
slowdowns. You also get a spot metering function, which was 
glaringly absent from the 20D, and all sorts of customizable 
presets that will let you emulate various film types 




The 30D is by no means 
a completely overhauled 
version of the 20D; rather, 
it took a lot of the 20D's 
successful traits and fine- 
tuned them to an SLR that's 
likely better than any other 
in this price range. Better 
yet, it's actually cheaper 
than the 20D was at intro- 
duction. You can pick up the 30D body for $1,399 or with a 
decent 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens for $1,499. 

So the real question isn't price or features or quality — and 
if you've got some extra cash collecting dust, it might not 
even be a question of money. A better question may be: Do 
you really need this much camera? II 

by Nathan Chandler 



EOS 30D 

$1399 (body only) 

Canon 

(800) 652-2666 

www.powershot.com 









Desktops <= $1,500 
HP m7300e 
$1,119.99 


Chad 

HP 

www.hp.com 


Dual-core action for less than $1,200; the m7300e comes equipped with 
an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ . The system also includes Windows Media 
Center and two tuners so you can record two shows at once. 


Desktops > $1,500 

FX510XG 

$1,999.99 


Josh 

Gateway 

www.gateway.com 


Although 1 haven't used this PC, 1 certainly like its specs: a 3.2CHz Intel 
Pentium D 940, 2GB of memory, a 512MB video card that will handle 
today's games, and a 21 -inch widescreen monitor. Not bad at all. 


Notebooks <= $1,500 
Pavilion dv5140us 
$1,449.99 


Jennifer 

HP 

www.hp.com 


This multimedia powerhouse has 2GB of RAM, a TV Tuner with remote 
control, and LightScribe DVD±/RW. 


Notebooks > $1,500 
Aurora mALX 
$4,500 


Andrew 

Alien ware 

www.alienware.com 


If you're going to get a dual-graphics SLI notebook, then why not spring 
for the whole nine yards? From what we've heard, this tricked-out note- 
book has it all (and it's priced accordingly). 


nmmmm 



Handhelds & PDAs 
iPAQ hx2495 
$399.99 



Jennifer 

HP 

www.hp.com 



This inexpensive keyboard doesn't take up much space, which makes it 
a great peripheral for desks that have keyboard trays. I also like the key 
resistance; the keys are responsive and don't stick. 



Keyboards 

Digital Media Pro Keyboard 

$29.95 

Mice/Trackballs/Trackpads 

V450 Laser Cordless Mouse For Notebooks 

$49.99 



MONITORS/DISPLAY 



Josh 

Microsoft 

www.m icrosoft.com 

Kylee 

Logitech 

www.logitech.com 



This board has all of the media player buttons you'd expect to find on a 
modern keyboard, as well as a Zoom slider that you can use to check 
out pictures or documents. 

Logitech has updated the V400 with a new, more ergonomic design. As with 
the previous model, this laser notebook mouse has a compartment to store its 
wireless receiver. 



CRTs (cathode-ray tubes) 
17-inch AccuSync700M 
$149.99 

LCDs <= 19" 

FPD1975W 

$299.99 

LCDs > 19" 

2407FPW 

$949 



Josh Although I haven't used this particular model myself I've had great ex- 

NEC periences with Dell's UltraSharp line. Unless you insist on the (much 

www.dell.com pricier) widescreen monitors, this is a solid choice. 

Josh This 19-inch widescreen monitor supports resolutions up to 1,440 x 900 

Gateway and has an 8ms response time, but what really makes it sing is that 

www.gateway.com $300 price tag. 

Vince Dell's current 24-inch widescreen display has a 1,920 x 1,200 maximum 

Dell resolution and a host of video inputs. It also has a built-in card reader 

www.dell.com for your digital photos. 



26 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Staff Picks 



HPLP2465 

I always thought multitasking hadn't reached its potential. Operating systems can 
juggle multiple apps, but our monitors' resolutions were too small to have more than 
a couple windows open. HP's LP2465 has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200. Now I can have 
a Word doc open while I check my email. And in the corner, I can manage iTunes. 

The LP2465, a 24-inch widescreen LCD, is more than big: It's good. I watched a 
high-def movie trailer and was treated to exceptional color and detail. HP peddles the 
LP2465 as a business display, so you might not find it in retail stores. II 

BY VlNCE COGLEY 



LP2465 

HP 

$869 

(800) 474-6836 

www.hp.com 










Inkjet <= $150 
PIXMA iP4200 
$99.99 


Nathan 

Canon 

www.usa.canon.com 


A fully loaded printer for less than $100; complete with duplex 
printing individual ink cartridges, as well as two paper trays for so 
you don't have to continually swap paper types 


Inkjet > $150 

PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition 

$199.99 


Nathan 

Epson 

www.epson.com 


A lunchbox-sized inkjet with a built-in color screen; buy the op- 
tional battery and make 4x6 prints anywhere, anytime 


Laser <= $200 

HL-2040 

$119.99 


Sam 

Brother 

www.brother-usa.com 


The HL-2040 is a solid offering from Brother that features a 20ppm 
(pages per minute) print speed and will spit out the first page of a 
document in under 10 seconds. 


Laser > $200 to $500 
Magicolor 2400W 
$399 


Sam 

Konica Minolta 

www.konicaminolta.net 


This color laser can print Sppm (color) and 20ppm (b&w). The 35,000 
page per month duty cycle means this printer will likely hold up to 
any printing task you ask of it. 


Laser > $500 

Dell 

$999.00 


Sam 

5110cn 

www.dell.com 


Though this giant printer can handle the print load of a sizeable 
office, the 2,400dpi (dots per inch) image quality it can produce 
gives your personal images life. 



MFDs 

1815dn 

$429 

fiEHHSi 



Sam 
Dell 
www.dell.com 



This 4-in-1 laser device appears to be a solid offering from Dell. It 
features a 600 x 1,200dpi scanner and a printing unit that can 
produce up to 27 pages per minute. 



Flash Memory & Portable 
Carte Orange 4GB 
$99.99 

CD & DVD Drives 
GSA-H10L 
about $35 

Hard Drives 

Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 

$289.99 



Vince 
LaCie 
www.lacie.com 

Marty 

LG 

us.lge.com 

Marty 

Western Digital 

www.westerndigital.com 



You don't have a color option other than a garish orange, but 
having 4GB storage in the size of a credit card makes this USB 
drive a portable powerhouse. 

Low error rates, very fast at almost every task, and LightScribe 1.2 
support. What more could you want? 

Updated for outrageous speed and a more respectable capacity 



Digital Camcorders < $500 

SC-D363 

$299 

Digital Camcorders > $500 

Optura 600 

$1,000 

Digital Still Cameras - Point & Shoot 

PowerShot A620 

$399 

Digital Still Cameras - Adv./Prosumer 

E-330 

$999.99 

Graphics Cards <= $150 
All-in-Wonder 2006 Edition 256MB AGP 
$129 

Graphics Cards > $150 
BFG7950GX21GBE 
$649 to $699 



Andrew 

Samsung 

www.samsung.com 

Andrew 

Canon 

www.usa.canon.com 

Kylee 

Canon 

www.powershot.com 

Nathan 

Olympus 

www.olympusamerica.com 

Vince 

ATI 

www.ati.com 

Vince 

BFG Technologies 

www.bfgtech.com 



This MiniDV camcorder is packed with features, performs well, and 
best of all, won't break the bank. 

Panasonic did just about everything right with its professional-grade 
High-Def AC-HVX200 (price tag not for the faint of heart). 

This camera is widely available for less than the advertised $399 and 
includes many features usually reserved for more expensive, high- 
end models. Also, with the LCD off, the A620 can shoot at 1.9fps . 

It's nothing revolutionary— just a slightly improved version of 
Canon's wildy popular and ultra-capable 20D. 

It uses an older CPU (graphics processing unit), but a built-in TV 
Tuner and bundled software can turn your PC into a digital 
video recorder. 

This offering from BFC is currently the Ferrari of graphics cards. 
I've tested this card and recommend it to those who want the best 
of the best and are willing to pay for it. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 27 






WINDOWS TIPS & TRICKS 




The Secret Life 

Of WinXP Accessories 



This Month In 
Windows Tips & Tricks 

Add Your Favorites 
To Your Start Menu 

BurnCDslnWMPIO 

Contributing Writers 

MarkScapicchio 

Joseph Moran 

Jennifer Johnson 

Next Month 

Back Up Your Registry 



J Calculator 



Edit View Help 



OHex ©Dec QOct O Bin 
□ inv 



0D, 



: 



ir r 



H S00 H 000E00 
000 H 0H0QEE 
LILILI l-l LjJ|_l|[T][-|hH 
HE3H H 00D000 

[ tan | [~ ■"][ 1/x | [ pi | 



In Scientific view, the 
Calculator accessory can 
handle just about any 
calculation the average 
(or not so average) user 
might need to make. 



Notepad 
can date 
and time 
stamp the 
next line 
of the file, 
every time 
you open 
the file. 



.Task Log - Notepad 



File Edit Format View Help 
.LOG 

I 

11:49 Ail 6/2/2006 

Started Brooks Catalog copy 

5:27 PM 6/2/2006 

1: ■ : :k_; Catalog cop-\ 



Calculator. Notepad. Paint. WordPad. 
These are Windows XP's Accessories, 
free programs included with the oper- 
ating system. Most of the applications haven't 
changed (much) since Windows 95, which 
may explain why many users stopped using 
them, or even thinking of them, long ago. This 
needn't be the case, though, as these programs 
can come in awfully handy. To access any of 
the applications we describe in this article, go 
to Start, All Programs, and Accessories and 
choose a program from the menu. 

Get Scientific With Calculator 

By default, the Calculator looks a lot like any 
real-life pocket calculator 
you've ever used — it has num- 
bers, memory keys, and stan- 
dard math opera-tions, as well 
as some fancier operations, 
such as square root. What a lot 
of folks don't know is that the 
Calculator can expand into a 
scientific calculator, packed 
with the trig-onometric, statis- 
tical, and logarithmic func- 
tions you may remember from that old Texas 
Instruments calculator you had in high school. 
In the Calculator menu, choose View and 
then Scientific. Now you have the tools to 
calculate just about anything that needs cal- 
culating: sines, cosines, tangents, squares, 

cubes, and more. If you don't 

know what a particular key 
does, right-click it and then 
select What's This? for an ex- 
planation. 

When you switch to the 
Scientific calculator, you lose 
the SQRT (square root) key. 
However, you now have two 
other ways to calculate a 
square root. One way is to enter the number, 
select the INV checkbox, and click the x A 2 



EJ[n]B 



key. (It follows that you can calculate the cube 
root by following the same procedure and 
pressing the x A 3 key.) The other is to enter the 
number, click the x A y key, enter 0.5 (0.33 for a 
cube root), and press ENTER. 

Another Calculator tip: When using the 
Calculator in either mode — Scientific or 
Standard — you can make figures easier to read 
by choosing View and Digit Grouping, which 
adds commas in the appropriate places in 
numbers you enter and in calculated answers. 

Turn Notepad Into A Captain's Log 

Because it does little more than let you 
type, print, and save text, Notepad is one 
Windows Accessory you probably rarely use. 
If you're like most users, you probably open 
Notepad only to read the readme files that 
some programs prompt you to read after you 
install them. However, you can set up 
Notepad files to automatically date and time 
stamp every time you open a file. This little 
app takes on a whole new dimension when 
you learn this trick. 

Open Notepad, and in the first line of the 
file, type .LOG (make sure you enter this in all 
uppercase). Press ENTER twice. Then choose 
File and Save. Navigate to the folder you'd like 
to save the document in, enter a name for the 
file in the File Name box, and click Save. 

Next, close and open the file. Notepad adds 
the date and the time to the next line of the file 
and moves the cursor to the next line so you 
can start typing. It will do the same every time 
you open the file. Before saving and closing 
the file, you may want to press ENTER once or 
twice to put some space between the text you 
just typed and the next date/time stamp. 

Another Notepad tip: Notepad's default font 
may make you nostalgic for the early days of 
computing, but it's not easy on the eyes. To 
change the font, choose Format and Font. 
Choose a font you like — and remember, all text 
in each file will display in the font you choose — 



28 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



WINDOWS TIPS & TRICKS 



and click OK. From now on, 
all new Notepad files you 
create (and all previously cre- 
ated Notepad files you open) 
will appear in the new font. 

Create Screen 
Shots With Paint 



$ untitled - Paint 



^ D(X] 



File Edit View Image Colors Help 



a & 
9 h 

f% A 
\ t 

□ fl 

o o 



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The Paint accessory has 
hardly changed since Windows 
3.x — that's the Windows before 
the Start button. Its drawing 
features are good for little else 
beyond amusing very young 
children. But Paint still does 
one thing as well as, or better 
than, the best photo/paint pro- 
grams on the market today: It lets you save decent-quality 
pictures of your computer screen. 

You might wonder why you'd need to capture a pic- 
ture of your computer screen, short of writing a com- 
puter book or technology article: One reason is to get 
better tech support. As more and more companies 
offer tech support via email or instant messaging, being 
able to send a screen picture that illustrates your 
problem could save a lot of typing and frustration. 

Before you can save a screen picture with Paint, you 
have to "snap" it with your keyboard. To capture a pic- 
ture of your entire screen, press the PRINT SCREEN 
button. To snap a picture of just the active window — 
the window in which you're currently working — press 
ALT-PRINT SCREEN. Note that if you press ALT- 
PRINT SCREEN when a dialog box is open, Windows 
will snap only the dialog box; if you want a picture that 
includes the active program and the dialog box, you'll 
need to snap the entire screen. 

Once you've snapped your picture, open Paint. You'll 
see a white drawing area; using your mouse, grab the 
lower right corner of the area and drag up and to the left 
until the area is about one inch square or smaller. Then 
choose Edit and Paste to paste your screen shot on the 
drawing area. You may notice that your mouse pointer 
is not included in the screen picture: Windows doesn't 
copy the pointer to the Clipboard. 

If you're happy with the picture, choose File and Save. 
Enter a name for the picture. Then, from the Save As 
Type drop-down menu, choose a format for the file. Of 
the file types listed, 24-bit Bitmap (*.bmp, *.dib) pro- 
duces an image that looks just like the image you'd see 
on screen but results in a large file size; PNG (*.PNG) 
produces a clear, smoothed (or aliased) picture that also 
looks good, but results in a smaller file size; and the 
others result in images of varying, and often unreliable, 



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Copy the entire screen, or just the active window, to the 
Windows Clipboard. Then, paste it into Paint, where you 
can save it in a number of popular formats. 



resolution and color quality. 
Once you choose your file 
type, click OK. 

If you need to take lots of 
screen shots, want more con- 
trol of the screen area that's 
pictured, or want to include 
your mouse pointer in your 
screen shots, you should prob- 
ably look into a screen capture 
program such as TechSmith's 
Snaglt ($39.95; www.techsmith 
.com). 

Open Word Files 
WithWordPad 



It can be a tough world if 
you don't own Microsoft Word. Many Web sites offer 
downloadable documents in Word (DOC) format 
rather than Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format, and at one 
time or another, one of the hundreds of millions of users 
who do have Word will want to send you a Word file. 

Don't despair. Because you're a Windows user, you 
have the WordPad accessory, and WordPad can open 
any Word file. In fact, if you don't have Word installed 
on your machine, any Word file you double- click may 
open in WordPad automatically. 

When you open a Word file in WordPad, all basic 
text formatting, such as bold and italics (but not fancy 
special effects) appears just as it would appear in Word. 
You'll see any pictures in the file, although sometimes 
they may not be in the same position relative to the text 
(WordPad can't wrap text around a picture). What you 
won't see are any drawing objects included with the file. 

WordPad also imports at least two features that it 
does not offer itself. If the Word document has a num- 
bered list, that list will appear in WordPad, and you 
can edit it. That is, if you place the cursor at the end of 
a numbered list and press ENTER, WordPad will auto- 
matically number the next item in sequence. If the 
Word document has a table, the table will appear (al- 
though any cell coloring will not); press TAB in the 
bottom right cell of the table, and WordPad will add 
another row, complete with any cell borders. 

WordPad can't save files in DOC format, but it can 
save them as RTF (Rich Text Format) files, which 
Word opens with ease and high fidelity. So you can 
send files to Word users, as well as receive files from 
them. As long as you have WordPad you're not out 
of the loop — and you needn't be out the price of 
Word, either. II 

by Mark Scapicchio 



Smart Computing / September 2006 29 



WINDOWS TIPS 



=18 



& TRICKS 




Customize Windows' 
Start Menu 





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For many Windows users, the Start 
menu can be the focal point of their in- 
teraction with the computer. Chances 
are, you repeatedly visit the Start menu to 
perform a variety of tasks, including launch- 
ing programs, checking or modifying settings, 
and accessing files or documents. Although 
the Start menu can be very useful as is, you 
can also customize certain aspects of it. 

Windows XP 

In WinXP, the Start menu includes a list of 
applications in the left column that's divided 
into two sections and separated by a line. As 
you use your system, WinXP keeps track of 
the applications you use most often, and it 
puts shortcuts to these programs (six by de- 
fault) below this line on 
the Start menu. These 
shortcuts can change with 
your usage patterns, but 
they tend to stay generally 
stable because they reflect 
the applications you use 
most frequently. Above 
the line, you'll find several 
permanent shortcuts to 
universally popular appli- 
cations such as your sys- 
tem's Web browser and 
email application (typi- 
cally Microsoft's Internet 
Explorer and Outlook or 
Outlook Express, respec- 
tively). If you use Micro- 
soft Office, you will prob- 
ably find a shortcut for it 
above the line, as well. 

But you don't necessarily have to live with 
the default Start menu shortcuts — you can add 
and remove shortcuts from both the perma- 
nent and most frequently used lists. To add 
your own application to the list of permanent 






You can add your own applications 
to the WinXP Start menu by 
right-clicking any shortcut and 
selecting Pin To Start Menu. 



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shortcuts, find the shortcut 
to an application (it can be 
anywhere on the system, in- 
cluding in a Start menu pro- 
gram group, on the Desktop, 
or even already in your fre- 
quently used list), right-click 
it, and select Pin To Start 
Menu; the shortcut will take 
up residence on your Start 
menu. Conversely, you can 
remove a Start menu short- 
cut just as easily by right- clicking it and se- 
lecting Remove from This List. You don't even 
need to be in the Start menu to remove one of 
its shortcuts — if you right-click any other 
shortcut to that program, one of the context 
menu options should be to Unpin From Start 
Menu. (It's worth noting that removing a Start 
menu shortcut doesn't delete any of that pro- 
gram's other shortcuts from your system, nor 
does it uninstall the program itself.) 

Beyond adding and removing program 
shortcuts, there are other ways you can cus- 
tomize them within the WinXP Start menu. 
Right- click the Start button and then choose 
Properties. Verify that the Start Menu tab is se- 
lected, and you'll see two options: Start Menu 
and Classic Start Menu. Select the first option 
and then click the Customize button. (If you're 
feeling nostalgic for the look and feel of Start 
menus past, you can set it to Classic, and your 
Start menu will work just like it did in Windows 
98/Me, but you'll lose certain features, in- 
cluding the most frequently used shortcuts.) 
From the Customize dialog box, you can make 
several adjustments, such as increasing or de- 
creasing the number of frequently used short- 
cuts that WinXP will display (or clearing the list 
to start again from scratch). You can also have 
the shortcuts displayed as small rather than 
large icons, which can be handy when you have 
lots of shortcuts and/or a low display resolution 
that limits the amount of space you have for 



J_ 



To customize some aspects of 
the Start menu in Windows Me, 
right-click an empty space on 
the Taskbar, click Properties, and 
then select the Advanced tab. 



30 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



WINDOWS TIPS & TRICKS 



General Advanced 



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them. (You'll get a notification if you try to set up more 
shortcuts than you have room for.) 

If you want to have applications other than Internet 
Explorer and Outlook (such as Mozilla Firefox and 
Thunderbird) as your Start menu's default choices for 
browser and email, you can also make changes by 
choosing from the drop-down menus, which should 
list all the relevant applications you have installed in 
each category. For that matter, you can eliminate the 
Internet and E-mail shortcuts entirely by removing the 
corresponding check mark. 

The customization you can perform on the Start 
menu doesn't end with application shortcuts, however. If 
you click the Advanced tab, you'll find many more con- 
figurable options, including the ability to customize the 
items that appear in the Start menu's right column. 
Depending on which version of WinXP you're using and 
how it's been set up, this part of the Start menu may al- 
ready display shortcuts to items including My Computer, 
My Documents, My Network Places, and recently 
opened documents. If you browse the 
options listed under the Advanced 
tab's Start Menu Items heading, you'll 
find that you can add and remove 
items from the right column of 
the Start menu, as well. For example, 
you can include a shortcut to your 
Favorites folder so you can access 
Web sites without having to launch 
Internet Explorer. (A catch with this 
feature is that it works only with 
Internet Explorer Favorites.) 

Most of the items on the right side 
of the Start menu are configured to 
appear as links, which means that 
clicking them launches a separate 
window. You can also opt to have 
most of them display as menus, so 
that when you pass the mouse over 
an item, it spawns an additional 
menu showing the contents within. 

Windows 98/Me 

Compared to that of WinXP, the Start menu in 
Win98/Me isn't nearly as sophisticated. As mentioned 
earlier, it notably lacks the ability to automatically 
create shortcuts to your frequently used programs. In 
spite of this, it does offer several customization op- 
tions, as well as its own list of permanent shortcuts. 

Because Web browsing and email use weren't yet 
widespread at the time these operating systems were re- 
leased, by default the Win98/Me Start menu usually con- 
sists of but one permanent shortcut, namely to Windows 



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internet: 


Mozilla Firefox 


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E-mail: 


Mozilla Thunderbird 


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You can customize many aspects of the 
WinXP Start menu, including the size 
of the icons, how many frequently 
used applications are displayed, and 
what your default Web browser and 
email programs will be. 



Update. Adding your own applications here is possible, 
though not quite as convenient as it is in WinXP. To 
create a permanent shortcut, start by right-clicking the 
Start menu; then choose Open, which will open up a 
window to the C:\WINDOWS\START MENU folder. 
Any shortcut that you add to this folder will appear on 
your Start menu, but you need to be mindful about how 
you add the shortcuts, because the results can vary de- 
pending on how you add a shortcut and from where. 

The most efficient way to add shortcuts is by browsing 
the Start menu's various program groups. When you find 
a shortcut you want to add to the Start menu, you can 
drag and drop it into the C:\WINDOWS\START MENU 
folder. Don't drag and drop with a left-click, however, be- 
cause rather than just making a copy of it, this will relo- 
cate the link from its original location. Instead, use a 
right-click action to drag the shortcut into the folder, and 
when you release the mouse button, choose the Copy op- 
tion. You can usually get the same result by selecting the 
Create Shortcut(s) Here option, but in some cases, this 
will create a shortcut with "Shortcut 
To" in the name. If this happens, you 
can right- click the shortcut and click 
Rename, either from C:\WINDOWS\ 
START MENU folder or from the 
Start menu itself. 

Aside from adding your own short- 
cuts, there isn't much you can do to 
customize the Start menu in Win98. 
In WinMe, on the other hand, there 
are some other aspects of the Start 
menu you can control — right-click an 
empty space on the Taskbar and select 
Properties. To display small icons for 
all the Start menu items, select the 
box marked Show Small Icons In 
Start Menu. To specify the items that 
the Start menu will display, click the 
Advanced tab and select from the var- 
ious options offered in the Start Menu 
And Taskbar. You won't find as many choices as you do 
in WinXP, but some of the same basic options are avail- 
able, such as the ability to display Internet Explorer 
Favorites. You'll also find buttons to add and remove 
Start menu applications, but they're less convenient than 
the procedure outlined earlier because here you can only 
add a program by hunting through your Program Files 
folders to find it, or even worse, directly typing the com- 
mand to launch it. 

There you have it. To varying degrees in Win98/ 
Me/XP, you can improve your efficiency by taking charge 
of the Start menu and customizing it to suit your needs. II 

by Joseph Moran 



Smart Computing / September 2006 31 



WINDOWS TIPS 



=18 



& TRICKS 




Burn CDs In WinXP 
\£~M WithWMPIO 



The Windows 

Media Player 

Library 

contains all 

the media files 

associated 

withWMP 

available for 

playing or 

burning. 



• Pods and other portable music 

1 players cater to a generation accus- 
tomed to taking their music with 
them. Even though portable music may 
seem more prevalent than in years past, 
the idea of creating custom playlists or 
traveling with music is nothing new. 
After all, people have been creating 
custom audio CDs (and mix tapes before 
that) for years. These tailored CDs con- 
tain favorite tracks and can make driving from 
one place to another more enjoyable. 

With older operating systems, the process 
of creating a custom CD typically involved 
purchasing a third-party program. However, 
Windows XP comes bundled with software 
that can compile and burn audio CDs. 
Although there are plenty of feature-rich 
third-party programs out there, WinXP's 
Windows Media Player 10 can get the job 
done without additional cost. 

A Bumpy Road 

If you've ever tried to burn a CD using this 
latest version of WMP (10), you may have run 
into a few glitches along the way. Although 
WMP has the functionality necessary to create 
a CD, the burning process isn't as easy or in- 
tuitive as it could be. 

Keep in mind that WMP can only burn 
CDs from digital music files stored on your 
computer; live media streams, such as 



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Internet radio, cannot be burned using WMP. 
One of the handy features included in WMP 
is its integrated conversion software, which 
will convert audio tracks into files that can be 
burned onto CD and played in most com- 
puters and car CD players. 

Gather & Arrange 

Before you can think about burning a CD, 
make sure you have a CD burner and blank, 
writeable CD to use. Also, you'll need music 
files on your computer to use in creating your 
CD. One route is to rip (copy and transfer to 
your PC) tracks from CDs you already own. 
Likewise, you can purchase individual songs 
online at a variety of sites, including Wal- 
Mart (www.walmart.com/music) and MSN 
Music (music.msn.com). 

Next, you'll need to gather and arrange the 
tracks you want to put on the disc. A quick 
and easy way to create a track listing for a CD 
is to import the order from an ex- 
isting playlist. Playlists contain lists 
of songs in a specific order. You can 
save playlists for future use, and they 
make for a quick way of burning 
CDs through WMP. 

To create a playlist, navigate to 
WMP's Library tab where you will 
see three main columns of data. On 
the left, the first column, which has a 
list of folders you can expand, gives 
you easy access to the music WMP 



32 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



WINDOWS TIPS & TRICKS 



Recording Quality 



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Enable CD recording on this drive 



has found on your computer. The middle column 
shows track information for the folder you've selected 
in the first column. In the third column, you'll see the 
current playlist. 

Just above the third column, you'll see a button 
called Now Playing List that, when clicked, will reveal a 
drop-down menu. To create a new playlist, click this 
button, select New List, and then choose Playlist. Next, 
drag music files from the middle column into the third 
column to compile your playlist. To rearrange the 
order of songs in your playlist, click and drag them up 
or down in the list. When your playlist is complete, 
click the button above the third column, which is now 
called New Playlist. Select Save Playlist As. Enter a 
name for your playlist and click Save. 

Burning Preparations 

After creating a playlist, navigate to the Burn tab in 
the top menu bar of WMP. Select a 
playlist from the Burn List drop- 
down menu between the Start Burn 
button and list of items to burn. 
Alternatively, if you want to create a 
burn list from scratch, you can click 
the Edit Playlist button to bring up a 
dialog box where you can select and 
organize songs from your Library. If 
you have a predefined playlist that 
you'd like to add songs to, use the 
Edit Playlist button. 

Once you've created a burn list, 
click the Display Properties And 
Settings icon, which is denoted by a 
notepad with a check mark. This little 
button is just above the CD Drive 
contents column on the right side. 
On the Recording tab in the Drive 
Properties dialog box, verify that the 
checkbox next to Enable CD Recording On This Drive is 
selected. Next, choose the write speed for burning your 
disc. If you encounter errors while burning, try lowering 
the disc write speed in this menu. Finally, jump over to 
the Quality tab and select the box next to Apply Volume 
Leveling To Music When It Is Burned to ensure the 
tracks will have a consistent volume. Click OK to exit 
the Drive Properties dialog box. 

Finally, check to see if Will Not Fit appears in the 
status column of tracks waiting to be burned. If so, 
you have selected too many songs to include on one 
CD. Remove tracks from this list until this warning 
disappears. Make sure to check for this message, as 
no other warning will pop up about space limits. 
WMP adds two seconds of dead time in between each 



Automatically eject the CD after writing 



| Cancel 



The Drive Properties dialog box lets 
you enable a drive for recording, set 
recording speed, and select the 
recording quality to use in burning. 



track; even if you think you've selected songs with 
lengths that should fit perfectly, these added seconds 
could cause you to exceed the storage limit. On 
average, CD-R (CD-recordable) and CD-RW (CD- 
rewriteable) discs can hold 80 minutes of music. 
Please note, though, that not all CD players support 
CD-RWs. 

Create Your Disc 

To burn a disc, make sure there is a blank CD in the 
drive and that you've selected Audio CD from the 
drop-down menu in the right column of the Burn 
menu. To create your CD, click the Start Burn button 
in the left column. Next, WMP will convert your files 
to a format compatible for burning. After all files are 
converted, WMP will start burning your tracks to CD. 
Once WMP has burned all tracks to CD, WMP will 
close the disc. This prepares the disc for play on other 
CD players and also prevents you 
from adding additional tracks to the 
CD at a later time. If you've used 
other CD burning software, you may 
be familiar with the term "finalize." 
WMP closes a disc; other programs 
require you to finalize a disc. 
Essentially, the two terms mean the 
same thing. 

During the burning process, re- 
frain from performing other tasks 
on your computer, including lis- 
tening to music. Because burning 
requires computer resources, these 
other activities can decrease the 
amount of resources available for 
burning and result in an unusable 
or poor-quality CD. 

As soon as WMP has finished 
burning the CD, all tracks will dis- 
play Complete in the Status column. You can then 
eject your CD. 

All Ears 

Whether you want to create a sentimental compila- 
tion of songs for your significant other or you want to 
create a CD of favorites for listening in your car, 
WMP can get the job done. Although burning an 
audio CD using WMP 10 may not be intuitive, it's far 
from impossible. With the help of this guide, you'll be 
on your way to creating CDs to enjoy in the car or at 
the office. II 

by Jennifer Johnson 



Smart Computing / September 2006 33 



WINDOWS TIPS & TRICKS, ^it/. 



SMARTCOMPUTING.COM 



Security & Privacy 



Tech Support Center 



jssages 
Solutions Knowledgebase 
Basic Troublesho oting Articles 
: •-.. .. =; 
How To Get Rid Of 
Backups & Data Recovery 

: :: ' :: 

Networking & Communications 



Articles On How To Install ... Just 
Anything 



ducation 
Other Helpful Tech Support Tools 



Keeping your data secure 
in an ever-changing 
technological world can be 
difficult. Malware is every- 
where. Destructive viruses, 
worms, spyware, and ad- 
ware are lurking in emails 
we open and Web sites 
we browse. 

Keep up-to-date on the 
latest security news and in- 
formation with SmartCom- 
puting. corn's Security 8c 
Privacy section in the Tech 
Support Center. You'll find 
articles on spyware, adware, 
and other nuisances such as 
spam and pop-ups. Also, be 
sure to check out the Web 

log to find the latest news on viruses, worms, 
phishing, and other important security information. 

1 Go to SmartComputing.com and click the Tech 
Support Center. 



Can't Find An Answer To 
Your Question Or Problem? 



Post it to our 
reader-response 
Q&A Board. 
(This feature is 
available only to paid 
subscribers.) 



U 



$ 



Security & Privacy 

It's called iimlw.iie - des 've spyware and 

adware, and nuis jps. (Read "A 

Malware Primer .") Check our Web log for the latest news and read our Basic 

..,.,.:....■.■ • ■.. ■ : 



How To Get Rid Of ... 

...... . ... ,:.-. ..... .. • ..,. .., .. . ... . • ..,,. . . .,.. ..... ,. , ..,. 



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ally 1:57:21 PM 
expected.... 



Basic Security 8 Privacy Troubleshooting Aiticles: 

I Worm 
Spam 



2 Click the Security & Privacy link. 

3 Search articles to find all the security information 
you need. Subscribers, be sure to log in so you can 
add the articles to your Personal Library! 



While worms and Trojan horses 
and viruses (oh, my!) pose a threat to 
your PC, the general layer of grime coating 
your keyboard can threaten your immune 
system. In fact, studies have shown that the av- 
erage keyboard contains more germs than a toilet seat 
in a public bathroom. Give your keyboard a well-deserved 
scrubbing — it almost certainly needs it. For tips, see 
www.smartcomputing.com/03s1 406. 




j 



Google 




In a hurry while entering that URL in Internet Explorer's Address 
Bar? Say you're headed to Google; just type Google and then 
press CTRL-ENTER to add the "www" and ".com." You'll save 
yourself a few keystrokes. 



Passwords are vital to a secure computer. 
But when you forget one, it can be a dis- 
aster. Check out this Microsoft Knowledge 
Base article on what to do if you forget 
your Windows XP password. 
support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;321305 

Creating a Password Reset Disk is fairly simple. In WinXP Pro (if you're 
a local user in a workgroup envi- 
ronment), click Start and Control 
Panel. Select User Accounts and 
then your account name. Click 
Prevent A Forgotten Password 
under Related Tasks. Follow the 
prompts in the ensuing Forgotten 
Password Wizard. When you're 
finished, label the disk and store it 
in a safe spot. 



Looking for a few likeminded friends? Consider joining a user 
group. Nearly 500 groups currently participate in the Smart 
Computing User Group Program. Search through the list and 
find one that's right for you. From the home page, click User 
Groups from the blue menu on the left and then Find A User 
Group on the next page. 




From our Online Dictionary 



malware 



Software intentionally designed for a malicious purpose, sucn as to erase a computer s memory or 
gain unauthorized access to a system. Trojan horses and purposefully system -damaging viruses 
are some examples of malware. 



34 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




This Month In 
General Computing 

Creating Slideshows 

Windows Services 

Contributing Writers 

David Whittle 

Christian Perry 

Tracy Baker 

Next Month 

Sorting Out Warranties 



Processing 
Processors 

A Buyer's Guide To The Smart Part Of A PC 




Every PC has a processor, or CPU (central 
processing unit), which is considered the 
brains of the computer. In years past, 
there wasn't much one needed to know about 
the CPU when buying a PC, and there weren't 
many choices to make. Nowadays, however, 
purchasing a CPU has become much more com- 
plicated. Making a wise decision can dramati- 
cally improve your computing experience. Let's 
explore what you need to know to make an in- 
telligent decision in purchasing a PC these days, 
whether it's a desktop or laptop. 

In the good old days, there was an almost per- 
fect correlation between the clock speed of the 
processor and its performance. For example, a 
16MHz processor was pretty close to twice as fast 
as an 8MHz processor. Intel's co-founder 
Gordon Moore predicted in 1965 that the 
number of transistors that could be placed in a 
computer chip (which also approximated the 
performance of a processor) would double every 
year. In 1975 (six years before the first IBM PC 
appeared on the scene), Moore changed the pre- 
diction to once every two years: Moore's Law, as 
it is called, guided the industry for many genera- 
tions of computer chips. Life was simple. Power 
users bought a new PC every two years as 
processor performance doubled. Novices bought 
whatever speed processor they could afford. 



Fast forward to 2006. There are more choices 
than ever before, but purchasing a PC is any- 
thing but simple. There seem to be endless vari- 
eties of processors, and decisions that were once 
obvious are now more complex. Dual-core, 
hyper-threaded, or basic single core? 32-bit or 
64-bit? 3.0GHz or 1.6GHz? Intel or AMD? 
Celeron, Sempron, Centrino, Turion, Athlon, 
Pentium, or Core 2 Duo? Fret not and read 
on — let's sort it all out. 

Clock Speed vs. Performance 

The first and most important thing to know 
about selecting a processor is that you can't always 
equate performance and clock speed. In the '80s, 
it was a simple equation: the higher the clock 
speed, the faster the processor. Clock speed was 
measured in megahertz or gigahertz, and a 
450MHz processor was invariably faster than a 
266MHz processor. But during the last decade, 
when AMD began to name its slower- clock speed 
processors after the Intel equivalents (2800+ to 
compare with an Intel 2.8Ghz, for example), and 
Intel came out with the Pentium M processor 
as part of its Centrino brand, consumers were 
no longer able to reliably equate clock speed 
with performance. Now, a 2.0GHz Pentium M 
processor provides roughly the same performance 




Intel's Core Duo is 
the chip maker's 
latest offering. 




Core 

DUO Inside 1 " 



The Intel Centrino 
Duo has built-in 
high-speed Wi-Fi 
wireless capability. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 35 



GENERAL COMP UTING 



CPUs 



as a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor be- 
cause Intel specifically designed the 
Pentium M to perform much better at 
slower clock speeds in order to con- 
sume less power while still providing 
superior performance. Many other 
processors also deliver performance 
with only a weak correlation to clock 
speed. Thus, processor price has be- 
come a better predictor of processor 
performance than clock speed, and 
benchmarks are more important than 
ever in comparing processor perfor- 
mance. Good amateur benchmarks can 
be found at AnandTech (www.anand 
tech.com) or Tom's Hardware (www 
.tomshardware.com) . 

Sweet-Spot Pricing 

For years, processor manufacturers 
have priced the latest high-perfor- 
mance processors at a premium. Thus, 
if you want the very fastest available 
processor, expect to pay at least 15 to 
60% more for a processor that is only 
4 to 10% faster. Likewise, if you want 
the best value in a PC, at least as far as 
the processor's performance-to-price 
ratio is concerned, look instead for a 
processor that is in the "sweet spot" — 
somewhat slower than the fastest 
available processor and somewhat 
faster than the middle of the pack of 
available CPUs. 

Laptop Or Desktop? 

Another important decision to make 
is whether you'll be buying a laptop or 
a desktop, which in turn influences the 
considerations in choosing a processor. 
More buyers are opting for laptops 
than desktops these days, so even if you 
need a PC primarily for home use, con- 
sider a laptop. They may be more ex- 
pensive, but most laptop owners are 
delighted with the combination of 
carry- it- around convenience and per- 
formance that's almost indistinguish- 
able from desktops. If you plan on 
having two personal computers or only 
one that will never need to move, how- 
ever, you'll want to consider a desktop. 



Desktop Processors 

Once upon a time, Intel was the only 
reasonable choice in purchasing a new 
PC. In the last decade, however, AMD 
has made huge strides in compatibility, 
price, performance, and innovative de- 
sign, and most analysts now credibly 
argue that AMD has taken the lead 
from Intel in desktop processors, al- 
though early indications are that Intel 
may have dramatically regained in- 
dustry leadership with its Core 2 Duo 
processor line redesign. Fortunately, 
there is a wide variety of choices in 
desktop processors, whatever your 
choice of vendor. There are, however, a 
few considerations and rules of thumb 
that will help you purchase the right 
type of processor for your needs. 

The first question to ask yourself is 
what you will be doing with your PC. 
If all you want to do is use the 
Internet, send email, create word pro- 
cessor documents, and run an addi- 
tional application or two, go with the 
best bargain you can find in a PC — 
whether it's an AMD Sempron or an 
Intel Celeron D. You don't need any 
more performance than either of 
these entry-level processors provide. 

If, however, you are a serious pro- 
fessional running serious business ap- 
plications, you'll probably want as fast 
an AMD Athlon processor as you can 
reasonably afford, because the AMD 
architecture (chip design) is generally 



optimized for straightforward com- 
puting applications and usually de- 
livers more bang for the buck. 

If you are an early adopter or power 
user, and money is no object, you'll 
want the latest processors from AMD 
or Intel, which are the AMD Athlon 64 
FX processor or an Intel Core 2 Duo 
Extreme in a PC running a 64 -bit ver- 
sion of Windows, such as Microsoft 
Windows XP Professional X64 Ed- 
ition. This combination is not for the 
faint of heart. Although 64-bit com- 
puting may sound appealing to the un- 
trained ear, heading down that path 
now can be a rocky road full of obsta- 
cles. You'll need to find 64-bit drivers 
for every device on your PC, as well as 
64-bit applications to get full value 
from going 64-bit. So unless you know 
specifically why you want these 
bleeding-edge technologies and are 
willing to forego the universal compat- 
ibility you probably take for granted, 
it's generally not a good idea to go with 
a 64-bit operating system until the pio- 
neers finish clearing the trail. Does that 
mean you shouldn't buy a processor 
that supports or enables 64-bit com- 
puting? Not necessarily, because it will 
still run a mainstream version of 
Windows, and you may get better per- 
formance with a 64-bit/32-bit hybrid 
CPU, and you may want the comfort 
that comes from knowing that 64 -bit 
support is available if you decide to 
move to the brave new world of 64-bit 




AMD offers dual-core and 64-bit chips. 



36 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



GENERAL COMPUTING 



CPUs 




Pentium D 



computing. 
That comfort is prob- 
ably more psychological than 
real, however, because chances are 
you'll be purchasing another PC be- 
fore you'll want to go through the 
trouble of installing a new operating 
system and all of the other steps neces- 
sary to move to a new platform. 

Hard-core gamers will be focused 
on finding the fastest and latest video 
card processor, as well as the fastest 
and latest processor. 

If you enjoy using your computer 
for such things as digital photography, 
music, videos (including watching 
and/or recording shows and movies 
from TV), or DVDs, you'll probably 
want an Intel Viiv or AMD Live! Media 
Center PC. Either brand will ensure 
that you get a multimedia- optimized 
processor with balanced system perfor- 
mance and feature enhancements such 
as advanced audio and video support 
and instant-on and instant-off. 

Another consideration is what kind 
of person you are and how you use 
your computer. If you pride yourself 
on being an efficient and effective mul- 
titasker, consider a dual- core or hyper- 
threaded processor, such as the AMD 
Athlon X64 Dual Core or the Intel 
Pentium D or Core 2 Duo. Dual- core 
processors are essentially two proces- 
sors in one. Consider this analogy: A 
single-threaded, single-core processor 
could be compared to a man unloading 
a truck one box at a time, taking each 
box and placing it on a conveyor belt 
into a warehouse. A dual-core pro- 
cessor would be like two men un- 
loading the boxes from the truck onto 



two conveyor 
belts, one for 
each man. Obvi- 
ously, the un- 
loading process 
would proceed 
more quickly and 
smoothly with two 
conveyor belts rather 
than one, and with 
two men rather than 
one. Similarly, when 
you are multitasking on your PC, you'll 
see better performance and enjoy a 
smoother, faster computing experience 
if you have a dual-core processor. With 
a dual- core processor, however, you'll 
want a multithreaded operating system 
such as Windows XP, Windows 2000, 
or Linux. Then, you can enjoy those 
features even more if you have multi- 
threaded applications, such as Adobe's 
applications or Music Match Jukebox, 
running on a multithreaded operating 
system supported by a hyper-threaded 
or dual-core processor. 

Laptop Processors 

On a laptop, you'll want a low- 
power, low-clock speed, perfor- 
mance-optimized processor, even 
though such a processor is more ex- 
pensive. The minute you begin to use 
your laptop in an on-the-go situation, 
battery life becomes critically impor- 
tant to the quality of your computing 
experience on the laptop. 

From the time of its introduction 
several years ago, Intel's Centrino 
Mobile Technology has been recog- 
nized as a breakthrough in laptop 
processor technology. To qualify for 
the Centrino brand, a laptop must 
sport three Intel components: a low- 
power, low-clock speed, performance- 
optimized Intel processor, an Intel 
wireless chip, and a mobility- optimized 
Intel mainboard chipset. Although 
purists decry Intel's attempt to increase 



sales by tying together multiple chips 
and chipsets into a branded package, it 
has proven to be an effective and pop- 
ular way to ensure that consumers 
who look for the brand get a system 
designed to deliver a finely tuned bal- 
ance of performance, battery life, and 
convenience in the form of smaller, 
cooler systems. With Centrino Duo, 
Intel has raised the bar for its brand 
even further by delivering the benefits 
of Centrino combined with the bene- 
fits of a dual- core processor. AMD has 
responded with its Turion 64 X2 
Mobile Technology, but the market 
hasn't yet accepted it nearly as widely 
as Intel's Centrino Duo Mobile Tech- 
nology. Before you decide not to pay 
the relatively insignificant cost of ei- 
ther brand name, however, carefully 
consider the substantial benefits of a 
laptop and CPU that are specifically 
optimized for mobility. 

Upgrading 

If you are upgrading an existing 
processor, you'll need to spend time on 
the Web site of the manufacturer of 
your existing motherboard to deter- 
mine compatibility. Each processor is 
distinguished by a variety of character- 
istics, such as socket, frontside bus 
clock speed, and processor clock speed, 
all of which must be supported by the 
motherboard you have. You'll usually 
want to upgrade the processor and 
motherboard as a set — but anymore, 
that could be most of the components 
in your PC, so it often makes just as 
much sense to simply buy a new PC. 

Go Forth Without Fear 

Although there are other processor 
specifications, all you really need to 
know is that more is better, but those 
things shouldn't drive the processor 
decision. The differences you'll see are 
usually less significant, and the average 
user needn't worry about them. II 

by David B. Whittle 



Smart Computing / September 2006 37 



GENERAL COMPUTING 



Scrutinize Those 
Secret Services 

How To Investigate & Control Windows Services 




When you perform a fresh 
installation of Windows 
XP, the serene scene that 
greets you after the installation is 
enormously deceptive. Hiding be- 
hind the rolling hills of the Bliss 
wallpaper are deep caverns of Win- 
dows services that help the OS (oper- 
ating system) manage networking, 
run devices, collect data, and per- 
form other tasks. 

When you start your computer, 
Windows services start along with it, 
and these programs run in the back- 
ground (often invisibly) to control 
crucial system functions. Although 
many services are required for the 



proper operation of WinXP, others 
aren't quite as necessary and can 
negatively impact your computer's 
overall performance. 

In addition to performance- related 
factors, security concerns also 
are an issue because crackers 
target certain services that 
aren't properly configured or 
shouldn't be running at all. 
WinXP ships with a default set 



The Services console provides an 
overall view of all your installed 
services, including helpful descriptions 
that explain what each service does. 



of services, but third-party programs 
also can install services and usually 
won't ask for permission to do so. 

The good news is that Microsoft in- 
cluded ways to modify the behavior of 
services, letting users turn them on, 
turn them off, force them to start au- 
tomatically when Windows starts, or 
instruct them to start manually. 

Selective Services 

WinXP includes an easy-to-use ser- 
vices interface that provides descrip- 
tions of most services and access to 
their settings. However, to make any 
changes to services, you'll need to log 
in as an administrator or as a user 
with administrative privileges. To ac- 
cess the Services console after logging 
in with an administrative-privileged 
account, right-click My Computer, 
click Manage, click to expand the 
Services And Applications entry, and 
then click Services. Alternatively, you 
can open the Start menu, click Run, 
type services. msc in the Open field, 
and click OK. 

At the bottom of the Services con- 
sole, you'll find tabs that let you 
switch between Standard and Ex- 
tended views. These views are fairly 
similar, but the Extended view dis- 
plays a description of each service 
when you select it, along with click- 
able links that let you stop or restart 
the service. Even so, either view gives 
you access to service settings, so you 
can simply use the view with which 
you're most comfortable. 

Services are arranged in column 
format by Name, Description, Status, 



■aaa 



1? 

EST- 



38 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



GENERAL COMPUTING 



Windows Services 



Startup Type, and Log On As. Unlike 
viewing processes in the Windows 
Task Manager, viewing a service in 
the Services console doesn't neces- 
sarily mean the service is currently 
running or is even configured to run 
at all. The Startup Type setting deter- 
mines that behavior, and that's the 



setting you'll use to control when 
services should run — if ever. The 
Automatic setting instructs the service 
to start each time Windows starts, 
while the Manual setting directs the 
service to start only when requested 
by a component or application that 
needs it. Of course, the Disabled 



Perform A Service Audit 



To successfully work 
with services, it's oc- 
casionally necessary to 
don an investigator's 
cap, grab a magnifying 
glass, and begin the 
process of determining 
what a particular service 
is doing on your system. 

As you know by now, 
not all services are neces- 
sary. Not only are some 
services unnecessary, but 
some also can pose po- 
tential threats, especially 
if they're mining your 
system for data and 
using a program to send 
that information to a re- 
mote recipient. Because 
any program can try to 
install a service, it's good 
to examine your services 
for unknowns every now 
and again. 

Using Microsoft's list 
of default settings for ser- 
vices (mentioned in the 
main portion of this ar- 
ticle), compare your ser- 
vices with Microsoft's list. 
Make a note of any ser- 
vices that don't appear 
on Microsoft's list and 
then inspect their names 
and descriptions. In the 
Services console, you'll 
generally find that non- 
Microsoft services have 
limited or no descrip- 
tions, but the service 



name and executable file 
name can often clue you 
in to what that service 
does. For example, the 
AVG7 Update Service 
has no description, but 
its name implies that it 
enables Grisoft's AVG 
Anti-Virus application to 
retrieve updates. 

But you shouldn't base 
your trust on the service's 
name alone — a rogue 
service can easily mas- 
querade as a legitimate 
service. Double-click the 
service to inspect the ex- 
ecutable file name and 
path. In the case of the 
AVG7 Update Service, 
the executable file — 
Avgupsvc.exe — appears 
in Grisoft's AVG folder. 
To investigate further, 
search for the executable 
file name at Process- 
Li brary.com (www 
.processlibrary.com). 
This site indicates that 
Avgupsvc.exe is "a part 
of the Grisoft Internet 
security suite and is es- 
sential for the secure 
and safe operation of 
your computer." 

If you discover an un- 
known or dangerous ser- 
vice, immediately disable 
it. To permanently elimi- 
nate it, however, you 
must delete the service's 



data from the Windows 
Registry. When you enter 
the Registry, be careful 
to modify only the key 
for that service because 
other Registry changes 
can cause serious harm 
to your system. In fact, 
it's wise to back up your 
entire system before 
modifying anything in 
the Registry, or at least 
create a System Restore 
point and back up the 
Registry itself. 

First, double-click the 
service in question in 
the Services console and 
write down the Service 
Name (not the Display 
Name) on the General 
tab. Next, open the Start 
menu, click Run, type 
regedit in the Open 
field, and click OK to 
launch the Registry 
Editor. Browse to 
HKEY_LOCAL_MA- 
CHINE\SYSTEM\CUR- 
RENTCONTROLSET\ 
SERVICES and locate the 
service in the list that 
appears in the left pane 
when you double-click 
the Services folder. Right- 
click the specific service's 
folder, click Delete, and 
click OK to confirm 
the key's deletion. Exit 
the Registry Editor and 
restart your computer. I 



setting prevents the service from run- 
ning at all. 

Before you change any service set- 
tings, it's important to understand 
that many applications and Windows 
components regularly rely on certain 
running services. If you experiment 
by randomly disabling different ser- 
vices, you might encounter major 
system problems, including certain 
functions that simply won't work. 
Therefore, make sure you completely 
understand the ramifications of dis- 
abling a service or even setting it to 
manual before you do so. For more 
information about changing settings 
for specific services, see our "Perform 
A Service Audit" and "Weed Your 
Services" sidebars. 

Time For Some Changes 

To change the settings for a service, 
double-click a service in the Services 
console. On the General tab, you can 
change the startup type to Automatic, 
Manual, or Disabled. If the service's 
description doesn't provide enough 
information for you to determine 
whether to change its settings, click the 
Dependencies tab to see if any system 
components depend on the service. 

For example, Windows Security 
Center, Windows Firewall, and In- 
ternet Connection Sharing all depend 
on the Event Log service, so you 
shouldn't disable it. And even though 
the Dependencies tab can provide addi- 
tional information, don't trust that 
you're safe to disable the service if you 
don't see any dependent components. 
After all, many services show no depen- 
dencies, but disabling some of them still 
tends to cause serious system problems. 

In addition, disabling a service isn't 
always the best solution for recovering 
performance that's drained by that ser- 
vice. When a service is set to Manual, it 
will run only when needed, so in many 
cases, that setting provides the best 
price-performance ratio. Although it 
can be difficult to precisely gauge the 
percentage of resources a service uses, 
you can begin your investigation by 



Smart Computing / September 2006 39 



GENERAL COMP UTING 



Windows Services 



You can determine 

the amount of 

system resources 

particular services 

use by finding 

their related 

process entries on 

Windows Task 

Manager's 

Processes tab. 



■?:■;*■,,;■< - : 



Performance Networking Users 



■ ■'•_■: 



: 



identifying the process tied to a service. 
Some services appear as processes in the 
Windows Task Manager, which you 
can access by pressing CTRL-ALT- 
DELETE and clicking the Processes 



tab. Then, return to the 
Services console, double- 
click a service, and find 
the executable name dis- 
played in the Path To Ex- 
ecutable field. 

If the service is run- 
ning, you should see the 
executable file name 
appear on the Windows 
Task Manager's Pro- 
cesses tab, where you 
also can see the amount 
of memory the service is using, as well 
as the amount of CPU usage it is 
currently requiring (if any). Some 
services appear together under the 
generic Svchost.exe process, so it's 



End Process 



more difficult to identify which of 
those services are using high amounts 
of system resources. 

Not all services use the same 
amount of system resources at all 
times — particularly those set to Man- 
ual — so don't automatically label a 
service as a resource hog based on one 
glance at the Windows Task Manager. 
Instead, make note of the resources a 
particular service uses over a period 
of several days, making sure to check 
the resource usage at different times 
of the day, too. 

If you run into problems after 
changing service settings and can't re- 
member what you changed, Microsoft 
lists the services that appear on a PC 



Weed Your Services 



The more you use your computer, the more services 
Windows will inevitably collect, particularly as you install 
additional programs. But even if you don't regularly install 
new programs, it's still a good idea to examine your existing 
services for candidates that can be disabled or otherwise 
modified to preserve system resources or protect against at- 
tacks. Here's a list of common services and advice on how to 
handle them; if you don't see a particular service listed in your 
Services console, it's either not installed or your Windows 
version doesn't support it. Before making any changes, write 
down the service's settings just in case you run into problems 
later and need to revert to the previous settings. 



ClipBook — Allows you to 
access the Clipboard of a 
remote computer. If you 
have no need to access 
such data, set this service 
to Disabled. 

Computer Browser- 
Maintains an updated list 
of computers on the net- 
work. If your computer 
isn't connected to a net- 
work, set this service to 
Disabled. (If you connect 
to a network in the future, 
be sure to return the set- 
ting to Automatic.) 



DHCP Client— Manages 
network configuration by 
registering and updating IP 
(Internet Protocol) addresses 
and DNS (domain name 
system) names. If you're 
connected to a network — in- 
cluding the Internet — leave 
this service set to Automatic. 
If you're using a standalone 
computer that's never con- 
nected to a network, set this 
service to Disabled. 

Distributed Link Tracking 
Client — Maintains links be- 
tween NTFS (NT file system) 



files within a computer or 
across computers in a net- 
work domain. If you're using 
NTFS as the file system on 
your hard drive(s), leave this 
service set to Manual. If you're 
using FAT32 (32-bit file alloca- 
tion table), set it to Disabled. 

Distributed Transaction 
Coordinator — Coordinates 
transactions that occur be- 
tween resources such as data- 
bases, message queues, and 
file systems. Most home users 
don't need this service, so 
you can safely set it to 
Disabled. 

DNS Client — Resolves and 
caches DNS names. Home 
users can safely set this ser- 
vice to Disabled because their 
systems will still be able to 
resolve DNS names. However, 
if you receive warning mes- 
sages about the DNS cache, 
set this service to Automatic. 

Error Reporting Service- 
Allows information about 
errors and crashes to be sent 
to Microsoft. Although this is 
a positive service in theory, 



some people feel that re- 
ceiving the Error Reporting 
pop-up message each time a 
program crashes is a major 
annoyance, so go ahead and 
set this service to Disabled. 

Fast User Switching 
Compatibility — Lets multiple 
users log in to the same 
computer simultaneously. If 
you're the only person using 
your computer, you can set 
this service to Disabled; but if 
other users need frequent ac- 
cess to the computer, leave it 
set to Manual. 

HID Input Service — Enables 
generic input to Human 
Interface Devices, which 
control hot buttons on key- 
boards, remotes, and other 
devices. Set this service to 
Manual if one of your de- 
vices uses HID technology. 
If you're not sure, set this 
service to Disabled, and if 
any related devices don't 
work as they should, set it 
to Manual. 

IMAPI CD-Burning COM 
Service — Enables Windows 



40 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



GENERAL COMPUTING 



Windows Services 



after a typical installation of WinXP 
Professional. Although this list relates 
to WinXP Pro systems, it still gives 
you an idea of the basic services that 
should appear on your system, along 
with Microsoft's recommended set- 
tings. To find this list, go to www 
.microsoft.com, type default settings 
for services in the Search field (with 
the Microsoft.com option selected), 
and click the first link from the results 
(Microsoft Windows XP - Default 
settings for services). 

Watch Your Step 

Windows services provide a con- 
venient way for users to access 



system settings they 
may not otherwise be 
able to change. Even 
though most services 
have noble intentions, 
others consume exces- 
sive system resources or 
pose security risks, so 
having access to these 
Windows services' set- 
tings is valuable for any 
user who wants to im- 
prove performance and 
increase security. 

But again, because any changes 
you make can have system-wide 
consequences, you should never 
treat service changes lightly. Thus, 




depend or 'Stem drive 

■ji rj I' ied or i. not running p 

. .■■ ■. ■■■■.■. ■ 

Connections 



.■ ..■,■.■;■■...:■■■..:.■. .' : { . . 



. .... • . ... ... ,.,.,-.: ...... ::■ . .., 



DC 



On the 

Dependencies tab 
for each service, 
you'll find system 
components that 
depend on the 
service, which can 
help you decide 
whether it's safe 
to disable it. 



be sure to carefully consider each 
change before you proceed. II 

by Christian Perry 



XP's CD-burning capability. If 


to your computer, so set this 


serial numbers from portable 


on a network, set this ser- 


you don't have a CD burner, 


service to Disabled. 


media players to allow the 


vice to Disabled. 


set this service to Disabled; 




transfer of protected con- 




otherwise, set it to Manual. 


MS Software Shadow Copy 


tent. If you never connect 


Task Scheduler— Lets you 


(Note that Microsoft states 


Provider — Manages shadow 


a portable media player to 


configure and schedule 


this service doesn't support 


copy functions. If you never 


your computer, set this ser- 


automated tasks. If you 


DVD media. For more 


use shadow copy features or 


vice to Disabled. 


never use the Task Sched- 


information, see support 


the Windows Backup utility, 




uler, set this service to 


.microsoft.com/?id=826510.) 


set this service to Disabled. 


QoS RSVP— Provides net- 
work support for certain 


Disabled. 


Indexing Service — Indexes 


Net Logon — Supports au- 


programs and applets. 


Telnet — Allows remote 


contents and properties of 


thentication of accounts 


Disabling this service can 


users to access the com- 


files on local and remote 


when logging into domains. 


help free up bandwidth 


puter and run programs. 


computers. This service helps 


If you never connect to a 


used by Windows. 


Unless you have a specific 


speed up access to files, but it 


domain, set this service 




need to use the Telnet 


also can be a resource hog. If 


to Disabled. 


Remote Desktop Help 


function, set this service 


you have a powerful com- 




Session Manager — Manages 


to Disabled. 


puter, leave this service set to 


NetMeeting Remote Desktop 


and controls Remote Assis- 




Manual. If you have an old or 


Sharing — Allows remote 


tance. If you never use the 


Volume Shadow Copy- 


underpowered computer, 


users to access your com- 


Remote Desktop feature, set 


Manages shadow copy 


ditching this service can help 


puter using NetMeeting. 


this service to Disabled. 


functions. If you never 


your PC avoid frequent slow- 


Unless you need such remote 




use shadow copy features 


downs. You can uninstall the 


connections, set this service 


Remote Registry— Allows 


or the Windows Backup 


Indexing component using 


to Disabled. 


remote users to modify the 


utility, set this service 


the Add/Remove Windows 




Windows Registry. Although 


to Disabled. 


Components tool in Add Or 


Network DDE & Network 


some network-based trou- 




Remove Programs via the 


DDE DSDM— Provides net- 


bleshooting tools use this 


Wireless Zero 


Control Panel. 


work transport and security 


service, it's best to disable it 


Configuration — Provides 




features. Unless you're using 


to prevent rogue access to 


support for 802.1 1 adapt- 


Messenger — Transmits alert 


the ClipBook service, set 


the Registry. 


ers. If you don't use any 


messages between clients and 


these services to Disabled. 




wireless networking 


servers. This infamous ser- 




Server — Supports file and 


devices, set this service 


vice provides an easy way for 


Portable Media Serial 


print sharing over the net- 


to Disabled. 


spammers to send messages 


Number Service — Retrieves 


work. If your computer isn't 





Smart Computing / September 2006 41 



GENERAL COMPUTING / PC PROJECT 



Show Off Those Prized Digital Photos 



T 



here's no doubt that digital 
cameras make it much easier to 
take pictures, but what's the 
best way to share all of those images 
with others? Emailing them out a few 
at a time is the most convenient op- 
tion, but if you want to create some- 
thing special, consider using those 
photos to create a slideshow. With the 
right software installed, you can add 
music, transitions, and other special 
effects that can turn a boring series of 
photos into something both dynamic 
and entertaining — and accomplishing 
this feat is easier than you might think. 

Show Me The Software 

It's possible to create a basic slide- 
show using Microsoft's free Photo Story 
3 for Windows (www.microsoft.com 
/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography 
/photostory), but this program — even 
though it's powerful and easy to use — 
doesn't let you save your creations to 
CDs or DVDs without purchasing add- 
ons. Therefore, we recommend using 
software that lets you create a slideshow 
and save it in any format, including 
CDs and DVDs that play on most DVD 
players connected to televisions. (Older 




DVD players may not read record- 
able DVDs, but the DVD drives of 
most PCs will, as long as they 
have DVD playback software.) 

We tested several packages, 
including Roxio Easy Me- 
dia Creator 8 Suite ($99.99; 
www.roxio.com) and ArcSoft 
DVD SlideShow ($49.99; www 
.arcsoft.com), but found that 
ProShow Gold ($69.95; www.photo 
dex.com) offered the best overall mix 
of performance, features, and ease of 
use. Because of these factors, we de- 
cided to use ProShow Gold for our 
project and to illustrate examples 
throughout this article; however, most 
applications in this category use the 
same basic interface, so many of the 
tips we discuss will apply to nearly any 
slideshow application you use. 

Line Up The Talent 

After you install your software, 
you'll need to pick out the music and 
pictures you want to use for your 
slideshow. We recommend choosing 
the audio file(s) first because the total 
length of the track(s) you want to in- 
clude will help determine how many 
photos are reasonable for that 
particular slideshow. 

Instead of creating one long 
slideshow that includes several 
songs, it often works better if 
you create several separate 
slideshows, with each show set 
to one or two songs. Few peo- 
ple want to sit through a long 



When dragging slides around on the 
Slide bar, the black vertical stripe 
tells you where the slides will end up 
when you release the mouse button. 




slideshow, 
and dividing 
up your photos into 
separate slideshows will help you stick 
to specific themes. In addition, having 
distinct slideshows will make it easier to 
create DVD menus should you decide 
to save the shows in that format (more 
on that later). 

On With The Show 

Now it's time to create a slideshow. 
ProShow Gold has a Folders pane that 
lets you click folders to display thumb- 
nail images. Simply drag thumbnails 
down to empty Slide boxes in the Slide 
Show timeline and drop them there to 
add them to the slideshow. To reposi- 
tion a slide that is already on the time- 
line, hover your pointer over the slide, 
hold down the mouse button, drag the 
slide to its new position, and then re- 
lease the mouse button. Click the Play 
button in the Preview area at any time 
to see what the final show will look like. 

After placing all of the slides in the 
proper order, use the Folders pane to 
navigate to the folder in which you'll 
find the audio file you want to use. Like 
most software designed for slideshows, 
ProShow Gold can use files saved in the 
popular MP3 format, and it supports 
WMA (Windows Media Audio), WAV, 
and OGG (Ogg Vorbis) digital music 
formats. ProShow Gold even lets you 
grab tracks directly from an audio CD. 
Just insert the CD in your optical drive, 
navigate to the appropriate drive's 



42 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



GENERAL COMPUTING / PC PROJECT 



Create ASIideshow 



To remove a track 

from the Sound bar 

or to modify a track, 

double-click the bar 

and use these 

settings to make 

the appropriate 

adjustments. 



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At the end of our slideshow, the Sound bar doesn't quite 

line up with the Slide bar, but because the song we're 

using fades out anyway, this arrangement is close enough. 




folder using the Folders pane, drag the 
track you want to use into the Sound 
portion of the Slide Show bar, and 
drop it there. Note that CD tracks 
aren't labeled by name but instead are 
listed by track number and end with 
the .CD A file extension. 

Once you add the soundtrack, you 
can automatically synchronize the slides 
and transitions according to the length 
of the song(s) by opening the Audio 
menu and clicking Sync Show To Audio. 
The software makes the display time for 
each slide the same, and it adjusts the 
transition time between each slide so 
that they are the same length; if you find 
this annoying, you can easily adjust 
things according to your preferences. 

To make adjustments, click any slide 
in the Slide Show timeline to select it, 
open the Edit menu, and click Select 
All. The number in the lower-right 
corner of each slide tells you how long 
the slide will display (between 2.5 to 5 
seconds is preferable, but use your 
own judgment), and the number in the 
box between each slide tells you how 
long the transition between those two 
slides will be. Also, whenever you se- 
lect all of the slides in the timeline, 
simply adjusting the number for one 
slide or transition also will adjust the 
number assigned to the rest of the 
slides or transitions. We recommend 
subtracting time from the transitions 
and then adding that extra time to the 



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slides, making other modifications as 
necessary so that the pictures end 
when the soundtrack ends. 

By default, ProShow Gold uses a 
fading transition between images, but 
you can double- click the icon for any 
transition to select another option. 
Simple fades and cuts often look best, 
but you can hover your pointer over 
any of the icons to get a quick preview 
of what a particular transition looks 
like and then click its icon to select 
that transition. 

Get A Little Fancy 

You've just learned how to make a 
basic slideshow, so now it's time to 
give ProShow Gold's extra tools a try 
so that you can further customize your 
creation. To see these extras, double- 
click any slide in the Slide Show time- 
line and use the icons on the left to 
page through the various tools. 



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For example, Image/Video has a 
handy Zoom slider that lets you focus 
on one portion of an image, along 
with other settings that adjust the 
size and shape of the picture. Other 
adjustments let you rotate or flip pic- 
tures, as well as modify their bright- 
ness, contrast, hue, and other image- 
quality settings. 

Motion Effects makes slides zoom 
and pan as they are displayed, creating 
the sort of dynamic effects you see in 
documentary films. If you want to 
easily add these effects to all of the 
slides in your show, select them all (se- 
lect a slide and click Select All from 
the Edit menu), open the Slide menu, 
and click Randomize Motion Effects. 

Captions lets you add text to slides, 
as well as create title slides. First, 
create a blank slide by right- clicking 
an area at the beginning of the Slide 
Show timeline and then clicking Blank 
Slide. Then, double-click the blank 
slide, click Captions, and add the title 
in the Text field. You can adjust 
the font and/or use the Motion And 
Effects window to animate the text. 

Sounds is an extra that lets you do 
such things as use a microphone to 
record a voice-over narration for indi- 
vidual slides, whereas Background lets 
you add solid colors to the back- 
grounds of blank slides or slides that 
don't quite fit the entire screen. 
Background also lets you add back- 
ground images to spice up some of the 
titles. If you want to set a default back- 
ground for the entire show, click 
Options, click Background, and make 
the desired adjustments. 



Save & Share With Flair 



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le Radar- Clockwise 



When you've finished your 
slideshow, open the File menu 
so you can save it using Save or 
Save As, and then decide which 



Use the Transitions menu to preview 
all the choices, but remember to 
primarily stick to the basics 
for the best results. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 43 



GENERAL COMPUTING / PC PROJECT 



Create A Slideshow 



format you want to use to convert 
the saved file so you can share your 
slideshow with others. Formats vary 
from product to product, but most let 
you save slideshows to DVDs, which 
can then be played in either com- 
puters' DVD drives or standalone 
DVD players (as you'd play a movie 
DVD you purchased). VCD (Video 
CD) is another common option that 
many modern DVD players support, 
but with prices decreasing for DVD 
recorders and discs, there's little 
reason to settle for VCD when you can 
create a nice DVD. 

If you want to email your slideshow 
to others for viewing on a computer 
instead of on a television, save it in a 
common video format — such as MPG 
(or MPEG [Moving Picture Experts 
Group]), WMV (Windows Media 
Video), or AVI (Audio-Video Inter- 
leaved) — that programs such as 
Microsoft's Windows Media Player 
can handle. Or, consider saving the 
slideshow as a self- executing EXE file 
because these files contain all of the 
playback software that's necessary for 
nearly anyone to play the slideshow by 
simply double- clicking the EXE file. 

When you're planning to email a 
slideshow, just remember to keep it 
short because not everyone has the 
luxury of a broadband Internet con- 
nection, and lengthy slideshows obvi- 
ously require very large files. ProShow 
Gold keeps a running tab in the Pre- 
view area of how much space the cur- 
rent slideshow consumes using various 
formats; plus, you can click this indi- 
cator to switch among formats. 

For our example slideshow, we de- 
cided to save it to a DVD, so 
we opened the Create menu 
and clicked Create DVD. In the 
Create DVD Disc window, we 
also made sure we selected 
Menus on the left and selected 
one of the images in the Menu 



Use Motion And Effects settings to 

give your slideshow the feel 

of a good documentary. 



Image ■■ Vid» 






Object Settings 






Zoom: 




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Double-click any slide to open 
this window and use these tools 
for easy editing. 



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Create Video File 



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Create Web Show 
Send as E-Mail 
Share Show Online 



Themes bar to use it as the 
background for our DVD 
menu. If you want to use 
your own background pic- 
ture, click Customize, click 
Image/Video on the left, 
click the icon for the back- 
ground image, click Select 
File, and navigate to your 
own image. 

Back on the Menus page, enter any 
text you want to display on the main 
title slide within the Main Title field. 
Next, select the Create Video Thumb- 
nails checkbox if you want to use a pre- 
view of the slideshow on the menu 
instead of using a static image. Then, 
if you want to add more than one 
slideshow to the DVD, use the Layout 
drop-down menu to select a layout 
(which could contain from two to eight 
menu items), click the Shows icon on 
the left, and click Add to select the ad- 
ditional shows. Use the Set Menu Title 
and Set Menu Thumbnail buttons to 
determine how each show will appear 
on the main menu, and then click 
Output Options on the left side. 

You should use the Format drop- 
down menu to select DVD HQ (High 



y. 






ProShow Gold lets 

you save slideshows 

in a variety of 

formats for output 

including DVD. 




Quality) for the best possible 
output quality. Also, make sure 
the Standard selected is NTSC 
(National Television Standards 
Committee), unless you plan 
to mail the DVD to a country 
such as England where tele- 
visions use the PAL (Phase 
Alternate Line) video stan- 
dard. Select MP2 in the Au- 
dio drop-down menu. At the 
bottom of the window, if you 
notice that the green indi- 
cator extends past the white 
background and into the 
tan section of the bar, you 
should use the Format drop- 
down menu to select DVD 
SP (Standard Play) or even DVD LP 
(Long Play) so that the slideshows don't 
consume too much space. 

Select High Quality from the En- 
coding Quality drop-down menu, 
select the Apply Anti-Flicker Filter 
To Video checkbox, and select the 
Desaturate Images To 80% checkbox. 
The latter option drains some of the 
color from your slideshow, but tele- 
visions tend to boost color output 
anyway, so using a setting of 80 to 
90% makes images look much more 
natural on most TV sets. 

Now that you've put everything in 
place and chosen your settings, insert 
your recordable DVD into your com- 
puter's recordable DVD drive, click 
Create, and wait for the conversion 
and burning process to finish. This 
process may take an hour or more, 
depending on the overall file size and 
the speed of your computer, so for 
the best results, you shouldn't work 
on any other computer tasks until 
this stage is complete. Instead, use 
this time to address that stack of 
large envelopes so you'll be ready to 
mail your slideshow DVDs to friends 
and relatives. II 

by Tracy Baker 



44 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




This Month In 
Plugged In 



Use Mashups For 
More Efficient 
Web Searches 

Mr. M's Cultured Tips 



Contributing Writers 

Mr. Modem 

Joshua Gulick 

Jim Pascoe 

Nathan Lake 

Ira Victor 



Next Month 

Can You Get DSL 

Without Having 

Traditional 

Phone Service? 



Novice's Guide 
To Online Forums 



Find Other Resources For Your Interests 



Let's assume you're restoring a vintage auto- 
mobile and need to find out who manu- 
factured the original distributor for a 1921 
Studebaker model EJ. You could try searching for 
the answer, but you probably won't find this info 
by using a search engine, and even if you did, the 
answer will likely be buried on some obscure site 
referenced within the tenth page of results. 

Well, why not find someone you can ask? Even 
if you don't know anyone who is knowledgeable 
about 1921 Studebakers, there's probably someone 
online who either knows the answer or has the re- 
sources to find out what the answer is. From 
sewing circles to planetary orbits, from amateurs 
to experts, there's bound to be an online forum 
(also called a message center, a bulletin board, or a 
discussion group) for every interest imaginable. 

A forum is similar to a roundtable discussion 
on a dedicated subject that's open to everyone 
with an Internet connection. So, for example, if 
you want to take a cruise but don't know which 
cruise line to use or which islands/countries to 
visit, it might help to access travel sites that have 
their own forums where such discussions go on 
for 24 hours a day, everyday. Or, what if you have 
questions about a new medication that's supposed 
to help your dog's arthritis? Wouldn't it ease your 
mind if you could go online and find a pet-related 
forum where you could ask others whether their 
dogs have tried the medication? 

Forums also are a great benefit to those who 
want to become part of, and interact with, a group 
that shares common viewpoints and/or interests. 
And, despite the example we shared in our intro- 
duction, forums are a lot more than just glorified 
search engines: They're communities where users 
give and receive help, exchange ideas, share words 
of encouragement, and much more. 

Get Involved (Or Not) 

Finding a forum that suits you isn't difficult. 
You can start by using a search engine to look for 
one on a specific topic; just type something such 




as woodworking forums in 
the Search field. Also, many 
manufacturers have forums for users of 
their products, and publishers often host forums 
for subscribers of their magazines (particularly 
those focused on hobbies). If you belong to a club, 
you'll likely find a forum that matches your inter- 
ests by browsing an organization's site. Some of 
your favorite sites may even have their own fo- 
rums or links to forums on related interests. 

Some people find a forum they like and spend 
days, weeks, and even years reading posts from 
others without ever making their presence known. 
Even though this practice has the unflattering 
name of lurking, there's nothing wrong it; in 
many cases, forum members actually prefer 
novices to lurk before participating. These mem- 
bers appreciate it when those who are new to a 
forum take the initiative to read (or search) 
through previous posts to find information rather 
than wasting members' time with questions 
they've answered recently or repeatedly. 

Lurking also helps those who habitually drift 
from one interest to the next. Often, users will get 
a new hobby, find an appropriate forum where 
they can lurk for a few days, learn what they need 
to know, and move on. By the way, using forums 
is a good way to learn about a new hardware or 
software product before buying it. 

Most forums let you browse, read whatever you 
want, and search the archives (the latter of which 
may contain thousands of posts going back several 
years) — anonymously and without registering. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 45 



PLUGGED IN 



Novice's Guide To Online Forums 



But if you want to post messages, most 
forums require registration (usually at 
no charge). There are benefits to regis- 
tering, such as being able to set certain 
details according to your time zone, 
having the forum mark any new mes- 
sages since your last visit, exchanging 
private messages with other members, 
and receiving newsletters. 

Even so, you may want to get a free 
email account through one of the Web- 
based services, such as Yahoo! Mail, 
and use this account for forum regis- 
trations. That way, you can protect 
your primary email account from pos- 
sible spam or unwanted email. Most 
reputable forums will only send email 
when it's requested, but it never hurts 
to separate your forum email from 
your primary email, especially if you 
plan to make your Web-based email 
address available to other members. 

Fitting In At Forums 

If you can't find a ready-made an- 
swer to your question by lurking and 
searching through prior posts, make a 
post of your own. A post is an indi- 
vidual message; it might be a question, 
an answer, or just a simple observation. 
When someone replies to a post, these 
two or more posts about the same sub- 
ject become a thread. Popular threads 
can contain hundreds of posts. 

The etiquette and rules everyone 
needs to follow are generally the same 
at all forums, regardless of the topic. A 
lot of forums keep "sticky" posts on the 
top of their home pages because these 






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are the posts they want all users to read. 
When you're new to a forum, read 
these sticky posts first and then use the 
forum's Search tool to look for other 
details on your own; we recommend 
that you take both of these steps before 
posting any questions. Forum regulars 
find it annoying to see the same basic 
questions posted again and again when 
there's already an answer available in a 
sticky at the top of the page. 

However, nobody expects you to 
spend days searching through buried 
posts, so if you can't find what you're 
looking for in a relatively short time 
frame, go ahead and ask. As long as 
you're respectful of others, most mem- 
bers will welcome you. After all, they 
were novices at one time, too. 

Another matter of etiquette is the 
fact that the written word is usually 
taken literally, and there are several 
things that most online areas have in 
common. For example, most surfers 
consider messages typed in ALL CAPS 
as shouting, which is regarded as very 
rude. Also, not everyone has the same 
sense of humor or interprets things in 
the same way, so even if forum mem- 
bers share your interests, they may not 
be able to determine what you mean by 
a comment because they don't know 
you personally and don't have access to 
other cues, such as your facial expres- 
sion or tone of voice. Consider these 
things when posting a message and 
don't be afraid to use smiley face 
emoticons when you make a joke or 
reply to someone else's post in a playful 
or sarcastic manner. 

Community Cohesiveness 

A flight simulator forum 
we visited recently had a 
question about the gun 
sight on a specific World 
War II aircraft, and we no- 
ticed that there were more 



NG TIPS - MOVIES 

* Goto page: i, 2, 3 ] 



Many forums place their rules 
and special announcements in 
"sticky" posts, which remain at 
the top of their home pages. 



than a hundred replies. Of course, just 
because members posted this much in- 
formation doesn't mean that all of it is 
accurate. A few replies in this case dis- 
puted others, and it was obvious that 
some participants were more knowl- 
edgeable than the rest. Anyone can take 
part in a forum discussion, so you'll 
have to decide for yourself how accu- 
rate posts are. If you review posts at a 
forum for any length of time, you'll 
soon recognize who the experts are. 

Most forums have moderators, who 
enforce the rules. A gentle reminder 
from a moderator is usually enough to 
keep discussions flowing smoothly. 
Moderators will delete posts they think 
are offensive and even ban users who 
keep flaunting the rules. This is rarely 
necessary, though, because most users 
want to maintain that sense of commu- 
nity a forum provides. After all, mem- 
bers have access to a virtual 24-hour- 
a-day help line, and they don't want to 
be excluded from that environment. 

Joanne Kiggins, a moderator at Abso- 
lute Write (www.absolutewrite.com), 
says, "In the freelance forum, we try to 
guide new writers in the right direction, 
give them the confidence they need to 
begin their adventure into freelance 
writing, and encourage them to con- 
tinue. Online forums are the stepping- 
stones where writers in all stages of their 
writing careers can digest information, 
brainstorm, and learn from those who 
have been in the business for years." 

That, in a nutshell, is a perfect ex- 
ample of forums in action. 

Which brings us back to our ex- 
ample: There were two vendors that 
supplied distributors for the 1921 
Studebaker model EJ. Remy produced 
the model 606A (which Studebaker 
also used for EJ in 1922), and Wagner 
produced the model K97. When we 
performed a search for "vintage auto- 
mobile forum," the results led us 
to Antique Automobile Discussion 
Forums (http://forums.aaca.org), 
which is where a helpful member gave 
us the answer we needed. II 

by Ira Victor 



46 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



PLUGGED IN 



Mashups: Melting 
Pots Of Search Tools 

Combine Layers Of Information 
For More Significant Results 



We live in an age where it's 
easy to find the informa- 
tion you want with just a 
few clicks. OK, maybe finding that 
info sometimes requires a few search 
terms and then a few dozen clicks. 
Using a search engine, you'll eventu- 
ally find what you want, but you can 
expedite your search with a mashup. 
Mashups are the Internet's hottest 
new phenomenon because they con- 
sist of tools and services that perform 
several functions at once, thereby 
saving you a lot of time. 

The Monster Mash 

Mashup is a term derived from a 
practice within the hip-hop music 
culture in which two songs are 
mixed to become one. Many now 
consider this practice to be sam- 
pling. Music mashups create a form 
of entertainment, whereas computer 
mashups result in what some people 
describe as "infotainment." 




In computing, a mashup is a tool 
that combines Web site services, such 
as eBay, Google, Flickr, and MSN 
(The Microsoft Network), to present 
information that's more meaningful 
and geared toward the search at hand. 
For example, Zillow.com (www.zil 
low.com) helps visitors determine real 
estate values by presenting a map that 
displays properties and their prices. 
This mashup combines real estate list- 
ings from Google with satellite maps 
from GlobeXplorer (www.globexplorer 
.com), and in response to a search, 
Zillow.com places an icon on a map 
from GlobeXplorer that represents a 
property location it found via Google 
— a property you asked Zillow.com to 
search for. Then, if you click that icon, 
Zillow.com displays the property in- 
formation and a close aerial view it 
obtained from MSN's Virtual Earth 
( virtualearth.msn.com) . 

Or to be more precise, mashups are 
a new variety of Web-based applica- 
tions that developers created in order 
to combine powerful technologies 
and overlay different sets of data in 
such a way that the information de- 
rived from such a mixture could 
allow more effective analysis. 
As such, mashups involve 
at least two key elements (if 
not more): a search tool to 
hunt for data and a ser- 
vice that's able to display 
the search results in an 
expressive manner. The 
search tools — such as 
Google and MapQuest — 
are simply sites with the 
ability to search the Internet 



for designated content. And the ser- 
vices that mashups often access are 
those able to use technology to present 
data in a visual way. Mapping services, 
especially those that use satellite im- 
ages, such as Google Earth and MSN's 
Virtual Earth, are a common type of 
service that mashups use to display re- 
sults, but some mash-ups also rely on 
flash templates and blog software to 
provide its users with a visual interface. 
To find mashups, don't just type 
mashups into a search engine because 
you'll have to sift through a lot of 
"how to create" and "music mashup 
of results. Instead, visit a site such as 
ProgrammableWeb (www.program 
mableweb.com). ProgrammableWeb is 
a good resource to visit to easily find 
mashups; simply choose a topic from 
the list of tags, and ProgrammableWeb 
will show you more mashups that fit 
into that category. 

Multiple Layers 

There's no need to be intimidated; 
just use a mashup as you would use a 
standard search engine. With a typical 
engine such as Google, you'd enter key- 
words in the appropriate field and re- 
ceive a list of related results in return. 




Tagnautica (www.quasimondo.com/tag 
nautica.php) searches for Flickr photos by 
making use of this ring formation, which 
represents the searches most closely related 
to the current search shown in the middle. 
The number listed under each title indicates 
how many photos are available matching that 
topic; to view these photos, click a title. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 47 



PLUGGED IN 



Mashups 





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| Hybrid 


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This mashup (http://map.pequenopolis.com) 
tells us where we'd end up on the other 
side of the Earth, without making us go 
through the hassle of digging through 
the molten lava core. 




With a mashup, you'd still enter key- 
words, but a mashup's combination of 
tools and services mesh together to 
display several layers of results. 

For example, we searched a crime- 
mapping mashup, chicagocrime.org 
(www.chicagocrime.org), for "arsons" 
to see how many layers we could ana- 
lyze from one search. Like a search di- 
rectory, chicagocrime.org has a text 
listing of the types of arsons in Chicago 
from the past six months. Clicking the 
Aggravated Arson link presented lists 
of the most recent aggravated arsons, 
along with corresponding dates and lo- 
cations on the left side. But unlike a 
standard engine, the right side of the 
results uses Google's mapping tech- 
nology to display a map with pointers 
to represent each reported aggravated 
arson occurrence listed on the left. 

Below the map is a Crime Classifi- 
cations Key, which color codes arsons 
according to whether they took place in 
domestic or commercial buildings. You 



can use a zoom feature with this map 
to display a closer aerial view of the 
street where the arson occurred, or you 
can zoom out to view the frequency of 
arsons in a particular neighborhood. 
Click a specific address where an arson 
occurred, and the mapping service pre- 
sents a view of that street and such de- 
tails as the police district or the police 
beat. To explore even further, click ei- 
ther the police district or the beat to 
view a map and see a list of all the 
crimes in that district or beat within 
the past six months. 

As we've demonstrated with the 
chicagocrime.org example, you can 
essentially analyze layers upon layers 
of crime statistics from one simple 
search. This site's crime stats are not 
unique, but the mashup's presenta- 
tion of these crime stats is unique 
because it combines this textual data 
with a mapping service's visual in- 
terface to make it easy for visitors to 
analyze patterns in various neigh- 
borhoods and throughout Chicago, 
among other things. 

The Appeal Of Freebies 

Mashups have only recently gained a 
foothold online because their arrival, 
for the most part, depended on Web 
site developers' ability to fully utilize 
the technologies associated with Web 
2.0 and take advantage of the release of 
free API (application program inter- 
face) software and databases for public 
use. By using free API tools, developers 
have been able to interface one pro- 
gram with another (or more) in order 
to combine their purposes and create a 
new way to look at information. 

Mashups also are a growing trend 
because development-oriented com- 
panies, such as Google, want to help 
people create and design mashups in 
order to promote their own agendas. 
Bret Taylor, project manager of Google 
Code, says, "We have a lot of talented 
engineers here at Google, but we 
certainly cannot think of all the creative 
things that people can make using our 
technology." And as mashups grow in 



popularity, so do the connections 
people make with tools and services 
that mashups use. "A lot of our APIs 
fall in the category where developers 
get to reach Google users, and Google's 
products become more compelling 
because the products are useful and 
innovative," Taylor says. 

Taylor also gave us another mashup 
in which you'll see one of Google's 
APIs in action. "A specialized example 
would be www.gmap-pedometer.com, 
which was created by a Google Maps 
API developer who also happened to be 
a marathon runner and wanted a better 
tool to plan out jogging routes," Taylor 
says. Now runners don't have to drive 
around looking for potential routes 
and use their vehicles' mileage gauge. 
The Gmaps Pedometer mashup can 
show a route's length and help you 
develop an entire training regimen — all 
from the comfort of your computer. 

In addition, companies such as 
Amazon.com and eBay have promoted 
their APIs to improve sales of their re- 
tail products and services by making 
their data and tools available to others 
who want to create mashups that com- 
pare prices for users interested in find- 
ing the best deals online. 

SecretPrices.com (www.secretprices 
.com), for instance, uses programming 
tools and data provided by such com- 
panies as Amazon.com, Shopping.com, 
and Epinions.com to compare hun- 
dreds of online store prices in order to 
present the best deals; it even looks for 
online coupons. We used SecretPrices 
.com and found four online copies 
of "The Godfather" DVD collection 
priced from $34.91 (Overstock.com) to 
$74.99 (Circuit City). 

Downtime Mashups 

Mashups aren't just connected with 
large databases and complex searches. 
While some mashups provide useful 
services, others simply exist to make 
searching fun (and entice you to visit 
a certain developer's site, of course). 

By combining games with photo 
sites such as Flickr and SmugMug, 



48 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



PLUGG ED IN 



Mashups 



Fishing Spots: T- National Park T- National Wildlife Refuge T- Others 
State: (All States) I Go | Detail: Non 



Wildlife Conservation 




1001 Secret Fishing Holes! 



• hundreds of national parks 

• hundreds of wildlife refuges 

• over a thousand lakes, historic trails, 
campgrounds, reservoirs... 

A 2001 Survey indicated: 



they fished an average or 1c days per 
cticipant and spent an average $1,046 each 



pa 



3. overall, anglers spent $14.7 billion ii 
2001 for fishing trips, $17 billion on 
equipment , and $4 billion for licenses, 
stamps, tags, land leasing and ownership, 
membership dues and contributions, and 
magazines 



Find the closest secluded fishing escape by using the mashup at 1001SeaFoods.com 
(www.1001seafoods.com/fishing/fishing-maps.php). 



users can use mashups to browse 
portfolios of photos while playing a 
game. Becky's T*Blog (www.beckys 
web.co.uk/sudoku/flickrsudoku.asp) 
combines photos from Flickr with 
the Japanese game Sudoku and lets 
players interact with the game even 
more by choosing the photos they 
want to appear in the game. Flickrball 
(www.mindsack.com/flickrball) plays 
off of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon 
trivia game but focuses on a scavenger 
hunt for photos instead. The object of 
the game is to pick images that match 
a photo set from Flickr in six steps. 

Jonathan Surratt, creator and de- 
signer of Beer Mapping Project (www 
.beermapping.com), started his mash- 
up because he wanted to have a 
brewery map for North Carolina. As 
he continued to add more and more 
content, he eventually mapped out 
brewery locations across most of the 
United States. What started out as a 
project that was fun for him ulti- 
mately became a mashup that other 
enthusiasts had fun using. Surratt 
says, "After being mentioned on a 
National Public Radio show, the 
number of emails I was receiving 
about the site was out of control, and 
I realized the project was a bit bigger 
than just me." 



Examine Your Surroundings 

A mashup can even help you be- 
come more familiar with your com- 
munity. In Bowling Green, Ky., the 
Daily News promotes a yard sale 
mashup as an online add-on to its 
classifieds ads section. The news- 
paper's mashup offers weekly up- 
dates to its maps in order to present 
the most current locations and times 
of yard sales. Mark Van Patten, gen- 
eral manager of the Daily News, says 
that he came across this particu- 
lar mashup idea while browsing 
MapBuilder (www.mapbuilder.net). 
Mark contacted a designer, imple- 
mented the mashup, and noticed an 
increase in yard sale advertisements 
after only one month. 

"I can see mashups growing more 
on the news side than on the adver- 
tising side," says Van Patten. In fact, 
Van Patten foresees crime maps as 
the future of news-related mashups 
because the information is topical 
and changes everyday. For instance, 
The New York Times adds mashup- 
enhanced maps below some crime 
stories to directly relate various inci- 
dents discussed in these stories to 
other crimes of that type in the area, 
as well as inform the public about the 
frequency of such crimes. 



Several city governments and 
organizations display local crime 
statistics via mashups. Check out 
your city's Web site to see if it pro- 
vides similar information online, 
and you might be surprised at the 
results. Although seeing crime sta- 
tistics on a map of your neighbor- 
hood can be scary, crime mashups 
do give citizens a better under- 
standing of their environment. 

Even Oprah and Dr. Phil have 
promoted a mashup called Family 
Watchdog (www.familywatchdog.us) 
to further encourage viewers to be 
aware of their surroundings and to 
always be cautious of other people 
living in the same area. Viewers are 
urged to use this mashup to locate sex 
offenders in their neighborhoods and 
share this information with their chil- 
dren so they, too, know about such 
dangerous people. Family Watchdog 
not only uses a mapping service to 
show visitors which registered sex 
offenders live around a certain ad- 
dress, it also displays these offenders' 
pictures and lists their convictions 
and physical characteristics. 

Temporary Or Permanent? 

It isn't yet clear whether mashups 
merely represent the latest fad or 
serve as an innovative way to cross- 
reference useful data that will make 
these tools a permanent part of our 
everyday lives; but we're betting on 
the latter. Just think of how useful it 
would be to have a mobile phone with 
a virtual map displaying where the 
best gas prices are and indicating 
which areas have traffic conditions 
you'll want to avoid. If you ride the 
bus or subway, you'd probably appre- 
ciate a virtual map that could track 
buses and subways so that you'll be 
able to get to the appropriate stop just 
as your transportation arrives. On the 
downside, you'll never be able to use 
the "stuck in traffic" excuse again. II 

by Nathan Lake 



Smart Computing / September 2006 49 



PLUGGED IN 



WEB TIPS 



Enhance Your Time Online 



A Tip On Tips 



Problem: I'm pretty good at 
figuring out what to tip at a 
restaurant, but I'm always 
a bit unsure when it comes 
to tipping other service 
people, such as taxi drivers, 
hairdressers, and hotel staff. 
Solution: Many people get 
bywiththel0%tol5% 
rule on services (except at 
restaurants, where tipping 
has crept up to 15% to 
20%). But if you're looking 
for a more detailed list of 
who gets how much when 
it comes to handing out the 
gratuities, take a look at 
The Original Tipping Page 
(www.tipping.org/tips/Tips 
PageTipsUS.html). If you're 
really looking for more, this 
site's discussion board 
(www.tipping.org/discus 
sions) is very lively. 

Legislation Information 

Problem: I'd like to stay 
more informed on the 
current goings-on of our 
lawmakers and the bills 
that are being written, 
proposed, and ratified. 
Solution: The Library 
Of Congress, naturally 
enough, has a lot of info on 
the workings of the U.S. 



Legislation in Current Congress! 
Search Bill Text 


war 1'SEA 




Browse Bills by Sponsor 


Select 3 Representative 


: co 






: co 




Find More Legislation 


::. Public Laws 


Other Legislative Activity 




[tee Reports 


;,. Roll Call Votes 



Current Activity 



Congress. The Library's 
site even has a separate 
section called Thomas 
(thomas.loc.gov), which 
allows users to search and 
access this information 
easily. You can search for 
legislation in the current 
congress by bill number 
or keyword. You can also 
browse by sponsor, which 
is a good way to look at 
what your state senators 
and representatives are up 
to. And for those who re- 
ally want a glimpse inside, 
the Current Activities sec- 
tion includes a live posting 
of the minutes of both the 
House and Senate. It's like 
a blog for lawmakers. 

Get Your Phjla^ 

Problem: Is there a good 
stamp -collecting site out 
there? 

Solution: There are cer- 
tainly sites that detail 
stamp-collecting basics, 
stamp-collecting software, 
and other philatelic fun. 
The Smithsonian National 
Postal Museum has just 
launched a site that 
promises to be interesting, 
at the very least, to stamp 
enthusiasts. This site, Arago 
(www.arago.si.edu) , 
offers a curious 
feature that allows 
users who register 
for free to build 
"collections" of 
the stamp images 
contained on the 
site. This would be 



^,,,^™.^ 
















m 




















E 








S 
■ 










-■- *J 




««fs 


HMO ITfHS TO T»C TBHH III H^HOW g 












• aSfin^. 





Collect stamps online that you could (probably) never afford. 



Getthelowdownon 
today's legislation. 



fantastic if the full collec- 
tion contained every U.S. 
stamp ever issued, but right 
now, the emphasis is on the 
early days of the post office, 
with only a smattering of 
contemporary postage. Still, 
it's worth bookmarking to 
see how it develops. 

Create 

YoyLQMJ^ 

Problem: Many news sites 
allow me to customize the 
type of news I want to see, 
but I really like reading 
news from a lot of diverse 
sources. Is there a portal 
that can bring all of these 
together? 

SolutiomTry CRAYON 
(www.crayon.net), a rather 
forced acronym for CReAte 
Your Own Newspaper. In a 
world of tabbed browsing 
and RSS (Really Simple 
Syndication) feeds, this 
surprisingly low- tech site 
may verge too close to nov- 
elty ... or it may be just 
what you're looking for. 
After a free registration, 
you go through a rather 
lengthy process of selecting 
from a wide variety of news 



sources, which include 
everything from Reuters 
to The National Enquirer. 
The site then "publishes" a 
unique portal page of links 
to these sources. 

Problem: There is a lot of 
noise in the blogosphere. Is 
there a way to cut through 
it all? 

Solution: The problem with 
too much information al- 
ways involves where to start 
and how to sort the wheat 
from the chaff. Jonathan 
Harris and Sepandar 
Kamvar have created an 
art project of sorts called We 
Feel Fine (www.wefeel 
fme.org) that is an amazing 
way to look at what's out 
there. A data collection en- 
gine goes out and searches a 
large number of blogs for 
the phrases "I feel" or "I am 
feeling." It then copies that 
sentence and any associated 
image and files it into a 
database of over 5,000 pre- 
defined feelings. What 
emerges practically defies 
explanation. How do we 
feel? Pretty intrigued. 



50 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




T ONLINE 



Take A Spin 



*^ 




10w40.com 

www.10w40.com 

Ordering parts from overseas for 
your fancy new vehicle is only half the 
battle: Now you need to figure out 
how to put those parts in your car. 
You could spend hours searching for 
relevant articles online, but we recom- 
mend heading straight to 10w40.com. 
The site acts as a portal to online car 
repair articles across the £ Net. It breaks 
this collection of links into several cat- 
egories, including Repair and Parts 
And Tools. Each link includes a brief 
description that lets users get a feel for 
the article before diving into it. 
Interestingly enough, it also some- 
times links to online forums that in- 
volve car repair discussions. 

Automotive.com 

www.automotive.com 

Automotive. corn's tagline, "Where 
your car search begins," pretty well 
describes the site's novice- friendly at- 
mosphere. The Web site's articles 
offer plain-English reviews from its 
own reviewers, and New Car Test 
Drive. Automotive. corn's designers 
ought to win an award for creating a 
site that balances aesthetics with func- 
tionality so well. We found that we 
could locate any model with a few 
clicks, and we dug up car photos and 
information about recalls with ease. 
The main page keeps track of the av- 
erage gasoline price for the nation and 
lets you search for local average prices 
by ZIP code. 

AutoRepairAdvisors.com 

www.autorepairadvisors.com 

Not sure whether that clanging 
sound represents a real car problem? 



Before you head to the car dealer, visit 
this site and browse its articles, which 
offer easy- to- understand explanations 
of car problems. We like the Normal 
Maintenance Items and Common 
Reasons For Breakdowns, which offer 
some quick tips. The site also lets users 
(for a $19.99 fee) present car problems 
to an expert technician who can help 
identify the cause and suggest a repair. 
The site's technicians also help people 
determine whether their local me- 
chanics performed the appropriate 
work for their vehicles. 

eBay Motors 

www.motors.ebay.com 

You've already bought lamps, 
books, and other inexpensive items 
from strangers via eBay — now it's 
time to enter the big leagues. eBay 
dedicates a large section of the site to 
users who are selling and buying vehi- 
cles. Technically, the site handles 
many motor vehicles, including air- 
craft, boats, and snowmobiles, but the 
section's main page appeals mostly to 
car owners. You don't need an eBay 
account to browse car listings, but 
you'll need one to list a car for sale. 
The site's How To Sell section teaches 
users to create attractive listings and 
close deals with other eBay members; 
a How To Buy section provides sim- 
ilar info for shoppers. 

Kelley Blue Book 

www.kbb.com 

Whether you're buying or selling, 
you'll find that the Kelley Blue Book is 
a critical tool. The site offers pricing 
information on both new and used 
cars: Simply click one of the main 
page's two Go buttons to start your 



Compiled by Joshua Gulick 
Illustrated by Lindsay Anker 

search. The Blue Book lists private sale, 
retail, and trade-in values for cars, 
pickups, and SUVs, as well as values 
for other personal vehicles, such as 
small boats, motorcycles, and snow- 
mobiles. Don't overlook the site's 
Advice section, which offers informa- 
tion about crash tests, insurance, and 
buying and selling. If you're looking 
for an inexpensive car, check out the 
site's Perfect Car Finder search engine. 

The Family Car 

www.familycar.com 

Not into sports cars? This site is for 
you. The Family Car magazine lets 
nonmechanics check out the latest in 
the automobile world without any 
danger of running into unknown 
terms or hard-to-understand repair in- 
structions. The main page has several 
pictures of new, family- friendly cars, as 
well as links to car maintenance and 
car repair info. If you'd like to learn 
some basic facts about your car, check 
out the site's Classroom. Courses in- 
clude Wheel Alignment, Hybrid Power 
Systems, On Board Diagnostics, and 
Brakes, among others. The Family Car 
also has some great driving advice on 
keeping drivers awake and on the road. 

Yahoo! Autos 

autos.yahoo.com 

Web portal giant Yahoo! takes on- 
line shopping seriously, so we're not 
surprised to see that it has a huge ve- 
hicle-related section. You can browse 
classifieds or read user reviews right 
away, thanks to the main page links, 
but users who dig deeper will find 
even more auto-related goodies. 
Several tabs near the top of the page 
direct visitors to the site's Research 
area (which includes 360-degree tours 
and pricing tools), Insurance section, 
and a small-but-useful maintenance 
area. Yahoo! Autos' My Auto Center 
lets visitors (who sign up for a free ac- 
count) keep track of the cars they're 
selling or thinking of buying. If you're 
a hot-rodder, click the Autos Custom 
link at the top of any page and check 
out the cool side of Yahoo! Autos. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 51 



PLUGG ED IN 



Find It Online 



That's 

News 

To You 

Finding the appropriate Usenet discussion 
group to match your interests can be a 
monumental task. So each month, we 
scour tens of thousands of newsgroups 
and highlight ones that delve into popular 
topics. If your ISP (Internet service pro- 
vider) doesn't carry these groups, ask it to 
add the groups to its list. This month, we 
check in with car enthusiasts. 



alt.autos.parts.wanted 

Need to clear out the garage? Browse 
these messages to see if you have any 
of the parts your fellow car hobbyists 
are hoping to buy. As always, be 
cautious when conducting transac- 
tions with people you meet online. 



alt.autos.rod-n-custom 

As computer geeks who love 
modded (modified) computers, we 
can certainly appreciate enthusiasts 
who modify their cars. If you like to 
tinker with your ride, check out this 
knowledgeable group. 



rec.autos.tech 

If you have ever flushed brake fluid, 
or regularly throw around 
such words as "tranny," this 
group is for you. Users 
here know their cars and 
take them seriously. 



Share The Wares 



Some of the best apples in the online orchard are the free (or free to try) 
programs available for download. Each month we feature highlights from 
our pickings. This month, we kick the tires of some automotive mainte- 
nance software. 

Auto Organizer Deluxe 2.6 

www.primasoft.com 

You spend plenty of money on your car's maintenance, but you prob- 
ably spend little time keeping track of it. If you don't jot down a few notes 
whenever you send your car to the shop, you'll find that you don't have an 
answer when the mechanic asks "Have you performed X maintenance in 
the past few years?" The old notebook-in-the-glove box does the trick, but 
we geeks prefer to keep our notes on a computer. 

Auto Organizer Deluxe has a busy but well-organized interface. If you 
don't let the program intimidate you, you'll quickly find that it's easy to 
use. The software lets you track car maintenance info, such as the date, a 
description of the problem, and the price. You can also use the software to 
track trip mileage and fuel consumption. The entries stack in vertical 
columns so you can view entries by date or by other categories. We like 
the program's WebResources feature, which lets you keep a detailed list of 
car-related Web sites. 

Try Auto Organizer Deluxe for 45 days and buy it for $65. The software 
supports Win9x/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003. 

I Love My Car 1.0 

www.topshareware.com 

I Love My Car's simple interface 
makes it a great program for users 
who are familiar with PCs. The pro- 
gram lets you create a car profile 
that includes a picture of your car, 
the current odometer reading, and 
other information. It tracks the 
amount of money you spend on 
maintenance, fuel, and other ex- 
penses and even displays the car's cost 
per day. The main area displays the list 
of maintenance records: Simply enter 
the date, a description of the service, 
and a few more bits of info, and you'll 
have your first maintenance log. 

The program also has a diagnostic 
feature that helps you troubleshoot some common problems. We like the 
Reminders feature, which pops up when you open the program to 
alert you to pending service appointments and other events. 
You can try I Love My Car free and buy it for $19.95. 
The software supports Win9x/Me/NT/2000/XP. 
You can find the program at TopShareware.com 
by entering its name in the search field at the 
top of the main page. I Love My Car transfers 
as a 2.44MB file, which makes it ideal for dial- 
up users. I 




I Love My Car lets you track vehicle 
maintenance and provides some 
car-related tips. The software uses 
your maintenance logs to help you 
determine how much you spend 
overall on your car. 



ml 



52 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




Mr. Modem's Desktop 



Mr. Modem's Guide To Culture 



Welcome once again to Mr. Mo 
dem's Desktop, where each 
month I present a potpourri of 
invaluable computer tips, tidbits, and 
questionable treasures designed to help 
you take the c eek' out of geek. OK, 
enough small talk, let's get to it: 

I'm a self-confessed Googleholic 
when it comes to searches, but when I 
need answers — or I want the truth — I 
scroll on over to Answers.com at . . . 
well, do I really need to include the 
URL? Answers.com isn't a search en- 
gine, but in all the years I've been on- 
line — and that dates back to the early '50s 
when I received my first training modem — 
this is without a doubt the finest encyclodic- 
tionalmanacapedia on the Web. Trust me, you 
don't want to miss it. 

Have you ever intended to print a portion of a document, 
but instead found yourself printing the whole enchilada? If 
so, after the cursing stops, double-click the Printer icon in 
the System Tray, which will display your print queue, in- 
cluding the document that's currently printing. Right- click 
the document and select Cancel. After a brief pause, the 
printing will stop. If not for me, do it for the rain forests. 

If you want to know how fast you're typing or how often 
you correct the occasional mistake, download the Free Typing 
Speedometer at www.customtyping.com/speedometer.htm. 
Once installed, just type as you normally would and the 
Speedometer will present life-altering statistics, including total 
keystrokes, backspace and delete strokes, ratio of backspace 
and delete strokes to total number of strokes, current words 
per minute, and fastest words per minute. If nothing else, it is 
kind of fun in an obsessive- compulsive kind of way. 

Let's say you're reading the first few sentences of a fasci- 
nating news story. When you click a link to read the rest of 
the story, you discover that you first have to register to read 
the entire article. With thoughts of pop-up ads, spam, and 
spyware careening around your cranium at the thought of 
registering, you sink into a dark, immobilizing funk. Well, 
funk no more, my friends! The next time you encounter a 
free, register-to-read site, head on over to BugMeNot 
(www.bugmenot.com), where you may be able to obtain a 
previously used username and password that you can use to 
gain access. 

Text-to-Speech technology is mind-boggling, and 
few sites do it as well as my new best friend, Kate 
(tinyurl.com/2fpus). When Kate appears on-screen, move 
your mouse and watch her eyes and head follow the pointer. 




Type some text in the Enter Text field, select a language, and 
then click the Say It! button. 

Typing dates can be exhausting work, what 
with all those grueling hyphens, slashes, and 
numerals. Who can cope with the stress? 
If you're using Microsoft Word, the key- 
stroke combo SHIFT -ALT -D will insert 
the current date into any Word docu- 
ment. Select a different date format by 
clicking Insert, Date, and Time. 

Maybe it's just me, but I find it an- 
noying that Windows Media Player, by 
default, appears as a small window. If 
your life is so similarly devoid of 
meaning that you also become annoyed at 
something as meaningless as the size of a 
window, click ALT-ENTER while WMP is 
playing and it will convert to full-screen 
view. The key is to wait until it's playing, which 
seems a bit ironic since users generally like to see a screen 
before a program starts playing. 

If you periodically find yourself eyeball- to -pixel with 
Windows Messenger pop-ups, those aggravating boxes that 
appear out of nowhere, go to your Control Panel and 
double-click Administrative Tools and Services. Scroll 
through the list until you find Messenger, then double-click 
it. In the Messenger Properties window, click the General 
tab. Next to Startup Type, select Disabled. Under Service 
Status, click Stop, followed by Apply and OK. Voila! No 
More Windows Messenger pop-ups. 

From our "And-They-Say-There-Is-No-Culture" 
Department, I present to you Telephone Keypad Songs at 
tinyurl.com/qgl34. Forget Zamfir's high-falootin' flute 
tootin' and Esteban's fmger-pickin' good guitar licks. You, 
too, can amaze and annoy your friends with your musical 
talents. Use your telephone keypad to play more than 30 
tunes, including "Joy to the World," "When the Saints Go 
Marching In," and that holiday classic, "The Little 
Drummer Boy." I weep openly when I hear "pa-rappa-pa- 
pum" on my Motorola VX6100. 

Wishing you a happy and safe Labor Day, and I'll see you 
back here next month. II 

by Mr. Modem 



Mr. Modem (Richard Sherman) is an author, syndicated 
columnist, radio host, and publisher. "Mr. Modem's Weekly 
Newsletter" provides personal responses to subscribers' computer 
and Internet questions, plus weekly computing tips, Web site 



noax warnings, ana mot 
it www.MrModem.com. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 53 



HKEY LOG 



REGISTRY 



HK 



DUST AWAY THE COBWEBS 

& SANITIZE YOUR SYSTEM'S CORE 










HKEY USERS 




^%V 



rjALEAN,CLEAN 
>j STORAGE MACHINE 

DEGUNK YOUR HARD DRIVE 
& IMPROVE SYSTEM EFFICIENCY 



r» WIPE OUT 

_/ SPYWARE & ADWARE 

GIVE MALWARE THE BOOT 
& GIVE SYSTEM PERFORMANCE 
A BOOST 



54 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.i 




Windows hides a 
lot of messy de- 
tails from users 
in shadowy cor- 
ners behind its 
user-friendly graphical interface, and 
the Registry is perhaps the messiest of 
these areas. The Registry is a data- 
base — or more accurately, it's a col- 
lection of databases — that stores all of 
the settings you establish on your 
Windows system, along with several 
settings that applications configure as 
they're installed on the computer. 

Make changes to the Desktop? Those 
modifications are stored in the Registry. 
Install a new program? Its location is 
stored in the Registry. Nearly every- 
thing you work with on your computer 
adds at least one entry (referred to as a 
key) to the Registry. And as programs 
are added, removed, and modified, 
things can get really ugly. 

For instance, orphan keys are often 
left behind when the programs that 
spawned them are uninstalled, and the 
process of clearing out Registry entries 
can create gaps as well. As a result of 
these defects occurring over months 
and years of use, the Registry bloats to 
an absurdly large and inefficient size. 
Fortunately, with the right software and 
a little know-how, it's easy to whip this 
collection of databases back into shape. 

Behind The Scenes 

There are several reasons to orga- 
nize the Registry, and performance is 



just one of them. As we looked at our 
computers, we noticed that the collec- 
tive Registry files on one of our test 
PCs added up to more than 40MB of 
hard drive space. That amount isn't 
much in terms of storage when you're 
talking about modern 100GB or larger 
hard drives, but it does consume a fair 
amount of the computer's RAM and 
CPU resources as the system boots 
and accesses the Registry. 

Cleaning up the Registry can shave 
several seconds off of the computer's 
startup time and free up resources for 
your other applications to use, but 
these performance gains are practi- 
cally unnoticeable on a modern PC 
that has a multi-GHz CPU and 1GB 
or more of RAM. Thus, the primary 
reasons to clean up the Registry are 
to avoid problems that can lead to 
Registry corruption (during which a 
vital Registry entry is damaged and 
prevents Windows from loading) and 
to add more security to the PC because 
so many malicious programs use the 
Registry to do their dirty work. 

Step 1: Create A Backup 

The main problem users have when 
cleaning the Registry is accidentally 
deleting an important key, which 
then causes problems ranging from 
programs not working properly to 
Windows not loading at all. So, before 
you use any other software to make 
Registry edits, be sure to download 
ERUNT (free; www.larshederer.home 
page.t-online.de/erunt) so you can 
make a complete backup of your 
system's Registry. 

Install ERUNT, run it, click OK, se- 
lect all of the applicable checkboxes, 
and either manually enter a file path 



in the Backup To field or click the 
button on the right end of the field to 
browse for a backup folder. Click OK, 
and ERUNT creates the backup. To 
restore the backup later, open the 
folder in which you saved it, and 
double-click ERDNT.EXE. 

Step 2: Clean & Shine 

A number of programs exist that 
can help you clean the Registry (see 
our "Registry Cleaning Supplies" 
sidebar), but in this section, we'll fo- 
cus on TuneUp Utilities 2006 ($39.99; 
www.tune-up.com) because it comes 
with several good system enhancement 
tools, in addition to its useful Registry- 
related utilities. 

After installing and launching the 
software, click the Clean Up & Repair 
entry and then click TuneUp Registry- 
Cleaner. Select the Complete Scan 
radio button and click Next. Click 
Show Errors when the test is finished, 
and then you can click Start Cleaning 
to let the software automatically take 
care of everything or click Details to get 
more information about the problems 
found in various categories. (For more 
information on how to determine what 
is and isn't safe to delete, see our 
"Eliminate Or Keep?" sidebar.) 

If the Registry changes made by the 
TuneUp RegistryCleaner cause the 
computer or a program to malfunc- 
tion, launch TuneUp Utilities again 
and click RescueCenter. Then, click 
Undo Changes, click the entry that 
corresponds to the TuneUp Registry- 
Cleaner session, click Restore, and re- 
boot your computer when the restore 
operation is complete. 

On the other hand, if you're not 
sure what to do because you used a 
different program or manually edited 
the Registry's entries, you can restore 
your Registry using the ERDNT.EXE 
file you created in Step 1. 

Step 3: Make It Compact 

Removing Registry entries doesn't 
necessarily make the Registry consume 



Smart Computing / September 2006 55 



CLEA N OUT YO UR PC 



Cover Story 



less hard drive space, though; empty 
gaps often remain inside the data- 
bases' files. Fortunately, if you installed 
ERUNT, you'll also have access to the 
NTREGOPT (NT Registry Optimizer) 
program that can eliminate these gaps 
and compress the Registry into a 
smaller amount of space. Open the 
Start menu, click All Programs (or 
Programs), expand the ERUNT sub- 
menu, and click NTREGOPT. Click 
OK to start the compression process. 

If you have TuneUp Utilities, you'll 
notice that it includes a similar tool. 
Close all running programs, load the 
software, click Optimize & Improve 
on the left, and then click TuneUp 
RegistryDefrag on the right. Click 
Next, click OK, and click Finish. 

Step 4: Secure The Fort 

Because most Registry cleaning ap- 
plications only scan for invalid entries, 
they frequently overlook spyware, ad- 
ware, and other malicious software 
that monitors your browsing behavior 
or otherwise invades your privacy. 
Such malware can get its hooks into 
your computer via the Registry, and 
the only way you can evict these in- 
truders is to use software that's specifi- 
cally designed to look for them. 

Even though you should always 
have a good antivirus program in- 
stalled, updated, and running in the 
background, antivirus software doesn't 
typically protect your system from spy- 
ware and adware. Unfortunately, spy- 
ware and adware can even infiltrate 
your system when you perform tasks 
as simple as browsing the Web or acci- 
dentally clicking links in email mes- 
sages, so that's why your system must 
have some type of defense against 
these parasites. The good news is that 
many of the best antispyware applica- 
tions are free, and unlike the limit of 
installing only one antivirus program, 
you can use several antispyware appli- 
cations on the same computer to pro- 
vide overlapping coverage. 

First, we recommend that you in- 
stall SpywareBlaster (free for personal 





ELIMINATE OR KEEP? 


/^ne major problem 
V^with applications 


that organizes Registry 


and you can safely delete 


keys into categories, 


them because the items 


that perform Registry 


such as TuneUp Utilities 


they point to are no 


cleaning is that they 


2006 does, you'll soon re- 


longer available. 


work too well. When a 


alize that there are cer- 


File Types— Most of 


scan reports hundreds of 


tain types of entries you 


the time, these are or- 


potential problems, it's 


can always delete and 


phans that are safe to 


tempting to simply quit 


others that you may 


delete, but deleting the 


using the utility and 


want to leave alone just 


wrong ones can cause 


forget about its findings, 


to play it safe. To 


trouble, such that when 


but you really should 


demonstrate what we 


you double-click the file 


stick with it. Even ex- 


mean, the following 


type listed in the deleted 


perts have trouble sepa- 


categories are some 


key, Windows no longer 


rating false positives 


of the examples we 


knows which program to 


from truly worthless 


noticed while using 


use to open the file. 


Registry entries, but get- 


TuneUp Utilities. 


Startup— When you 


ting up to speed on such 


History Lists, Shared 


uninstall programs that 


matters will go a long 


Files, and the Start 


are designed to load as 


way toward eliminating 


Menu — When you move 


Windows boots, they 


all that Registry baggage. 


files or folders around on 


might leave behind the 


The software discussed 


the hard drive, orphan 


Registry keys formerly 


in this article does a good 


keys are often created 


used to make them load. 


job of sticking to Registry 


(and History Lists, in par- 


Feel free to eliminate 


keys that truly won't af- 


ticular, are a big reposi- 


these entries. 


fect anything if deleted, 


tory for them). Go ahead 


Software— Removing 


but the rule of thumb is if 


and delete everything 


the wrong key from this 


you see an entry that 


TuneUp Utilities sug- 


category can sometimes 


looks like it might be im- 


gests in these categories. 


prevent you from unin- 


portant, leave it off of the 


ActiveX and COM 


stalling software, but the 


cleaning software's 


Objects, Application 


vast majority of the time, 


laundry list. 


Paths, Fonts, Sounds, 


these keys refer to pro- 


Also, become familiar 


Shortcuts, and Help 


grams still on the Add 


with how your Registry- 


Files — The entries 


Or Remove Programs list 


cleaning software oper- 


TuneUp Utilities points 


that no longer belong 


ates. For instance, when 


out in these categories 


there, so they are usually 


dealing with a program 


are always orphan keys, 


safe to delete. 1 



use; www.javacoolsoftware.com/spy 
wareblaster.html), which locks down 
your Web browser to prevent spyware 
and adware from messing with the 
Registry in the first place. Download 
the latest version from its site, install 
it according to the site's instructions, 
select the Protection tab on the left 
as SpywareBlaster loads, and click 
Download Latest Protection Updates. 
Next, click Check For Updates, wait 
for the updates (if any) to install, 



return to the Protection tab, and click 
Enable All Protection. You'll need to 
repeat this process periodically unless 
you decide to subscribe to the pro- 
gram's AutoUpdate feature, which 
costs $9.95 per year. 

The next step is installing antispy- 
ware that scans the Registry, so start 
by installing Spybot Search & Destroy 
(free; www.safer-networking.org). 
After you download, install, and run 
the software, click the Update icon on 



56 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



CLEA N OUT YO UR PC 



Cover Story 



the left side, and then click Search 
For Updates. If Detection Rules 
appears in the Update column 
when the search finishes, select 
the checkbox next to it and click 
Download Updates. Click the 
Immunize icon on the left, select 
the checkbox next to Enable 
Permanent Blocking Of Bad 
Addresses In Internet Explorer, 
and click Immunize. Finally, click 
the Search & Destroy icon on the 
left side of the window and click 
Check For Problems. 

As Spybot S&D scans the Reg- 
istry, it will provide a list of po- 
tential problems; just click the 
plus sign beside an entry to get 
more information. Also, select the 
checkboxes next to entries you 
want Spybot S&D to tackle and click 
Fix Selected Problems to finish the pro- 
cedure. Be sure to check for problems 
every month or so and update its data- 
base each time you run the software. 

In addition, you can use Lavasoft's 
Ad-Aware SE Personal (free; www 
.lavasoft.com) to scan the Registry 
and potentially unearth problems that 
Spybot S&D didn't find. Download 
and install Ad-Aware SE Personal, 
launch the software, and click Scan 
Now. Select the Perform Full System 
Scan radio button and click Next. 
When the process finishes, select the 
checkboxes next to the entries you 
want to fix, click Quarantine, enter a 
file name in which to save the quaran- 
tined data, click OK, and click OK 
again. Click Next to finish, and repeat 




ProUleisi summary 






TuneUp Utilities 2006 may cost a little bit more than 
some Registry tools, but it comes with a myriad of 
additional features that can boost performance. 

this process every month. You also 
might want to consider upgrading 
to Ad-Aware SE Plus for $26.95 
to receive real-time monitoring of 
your Registry, along with other auto- 
mated features. 

The Roots Of Registry Problems 

Unfortunately, there's a larger, much 
scarier security threat to your com- 
puter that often involves the Registry, 
and none of the applications we just 
mentioned — including antivirus pro- 
grams — can do anything about it. 
These threats are known as rootkits, 
and they're designed to load and hide 
themselves before Windows or your 
antispyware and antivirus software 
even know they exist. Many of these 



REGISTRY CLEANING SUPPLIES 



Looking for a Registry cleaner that will get rid of the dead weight without dis- 
turbing the stuff you actually need? We tested several of these cleaners, and the 
following three programs stood out in terms of features, ease of use, and safety. 



Registry Mechanic 

$29.95 

PC Tools Software 

www.pctools.com 

/registry-mechanic 



Registry Medic 

$29.95 

lomatic 

www.iomatic.com 



TuneUp Utilities 2006 

$39.99 

TuneUp Software 

www.tune-up.com 



insidious tools create Registry 
keys that they need in order to 
function properly, but then they 
hide the keys they created so that 
Windows, other software, and 
even Registry-editing tools can't 
see them. 

Getting rid of rootkits is serious 
business. Even though programs 
such as the F-Secure BlackLight 
application that's included with 
F-Secure Internet Security 2006 
($59.95; www.f-secure.com) are 
starting to appear on the market, 
these programs still aren't able to 
eliminate everything related to 
rootkits, but at least you can 
download tools that will let you 
know if you even need to worry 
about that sort of vermin in the 
first place. 

Start by downloading Sysinternals' 
RootkitRevealer (free; www.sysinter 
nals.com/utilities/rootkitrevealer.html) 
and then extract it to a folder, open the 
folder, double-click RootkitRevealer 
.exe, and click Scan. This type of scan 
takes some time, but when it is fin- 
ished, look in the Description column 
for phrases such as Hidden From 
Windows API, Type Mismatch Be- 
tween Windows API And Raw Hive 
Data, or Key Name Includes Embed- 
ded Nulls. These entries (especially any 
that include Hidden From Win- 
dows API) are probably rootkits and 
should be investigated further. For 
more information, see the main page 
for RootkitRevealer on Sysinternals' 
site or visit a Web page linking to 
F-Secure's BlackLight Rootkit Elimina- 
tion Technology at www.f-secure.com 
/blacklight/rootkit.shtml. 

Removing rootkits sometimes re- 
quires completely reinstalling Win- 
dows, but even that type of extreme 
measure is worth the hassle consid- 
ering the dangers that rootkits repre- 
sent. And there's no sense in letting 
these trespassers hide in the shadowy 
corners of your system — that's your 
space, not theirs. II 

by Tracy Baker 



Smart Computing / September 2006 57 




LEAN, CLEAN 

STORAGE MACHINE 

DEGUNK YOUR HARD DRIVE 
& IMPROVE SYSTEM EFFICIENCY 



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Cleaning up your hard drive 
is kind of like cleaning the 
bathroom of your house. You 
know it has to be done, but it can be a 
nasty job, and even when you finish 
working on it, you're not quite sure if 
you took care of all the out-of-the-way 
places where unwanted bits can hide. 
Of course, you can always hire out 
the task, but when it comes to your 
computer and data, hiring an outsider 
can be expensive — and risky. If you'd 
rather clean up the hard drive yourself, 
it's easy to do with a little know-how. 

Computers may seem mysterious 
to the average user, but for the most 
part, they're quite logical and system- 
atic. Everything has a place. Some- 
times, however, you can't figure out 
where that place is. Fortunately, there 
are dozens of useful tools out there 
that you can use to find orphaned 
files, duplicate files, unneeded tempo- 
rary files, and the like, and then eradi- 
cate them from your system. 

The Cleanup Stage 

The first tool with which we rec- 
ommend you familiarize yourself is 
Windows' Disk Cleanup utility. When 



Use the Disk Cleanup utility to delete unwanted 
files and compress old ones. 



you surf the Web, install and delete 
programs, and perform other tasks, 
you quickly begin to fill the space on 
your hard drive. After you've com- 
pleted some of these chores, unneces- 
sary files may remain behind, con- 
tinuing to consume valuable hard 
drive space. The Disk Cleanup utility 
scans your hard drive, looking for un- 
necessary files that it can eliminate. 

Depending on how frequently you 
use your PC, we recommend that you 
use the Disk Cleanup utility once a 
week or two to keep your PC running 
at peak efficiency. Open the Start 
menu and click All Programs (or 
Programs), Accessories, System Tools, 
and Disk Cleanup. The utility begins 
to scan your drive to calculate how 
much space you can free (a progress 
bar keeps you informed during the 
analysis stage), and after a minute 
or two, you'll see its dialog box ap- 
pear on-screen. 

On the Disk Cleanup tab, under 
Files To Delete, you'll see a list of 
file categories, such as Downloaded 
Program Files, Temporary Internet 
Files, and Offline Web Pages, along 
with the amount of hard drive space 
each one is occupying. Scroll through 
the list and perhaps you'll see a large 
number listed next to Temporary 
Internet Files or Compress Old Files. 
Some of the checkboxes for these 



58 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



CLEA N OUT YO UR PC 



Cover Story 



categories already have check marks; 
think of these check marks as sugges- 
tions from your system as to which 
categories of files to delete. 

Based on our experience, we think 
you should place check marks next 
to the following categories (that is, 
if their checkboxes aren't already 
selected): Recycle Bin; Downloaded 
Program Files (no, this doesn't re- 
move programs you've installed — it 
takes care of files you've downloaded 
from the Web, such as Java applets); 
Temporary Internet Files (files placed 
on your hard drive as you surf the 
Web); Temporary Files (other files 
placed on your hard drive for tempo- 
rary use); and Compress Old Files 
(to shrink the amount of space that 
unused files consume). Click OK and 
click Yes. 

You also can use Disk Cleanup to 
rid your PC of unwanted Windows 
files, although you should keep in 
mind that if you want to put these 
programs back on your PC later, 
you'll likely need to have the OS 
(operating system) installation disc 
handy. For example, you may want to 
become more productive and delete 
the tempting Windows games every 
PC carries. That's where the other tab, 
More Options, comes in handy. 

The tab carries three sections, 
namely Windows Components, In- 
stalled Programs, and System Restore. 
Under Windows Components, click 
the Clean Up button. In the Windows 
Components Wizard, make sure the 
Accessories And Utilities checkbox 
has a check mark. (Be aware that 
you can use this tool to both add and 
remove Windows components. If a 
component's checkbox isn't selected, 
that means the component is not 
installed on your PC.) Click the 
Details button. 

By default, all the subcomponents 
are selected. Deselect the Games 
checkbox so that the Accessories 
checkbox is the only one with a check 
mark. Click OK. Click Next. After a 
few moments, Windows removes the 
files related to games. Click Finish to 




Another way to improve efficiency is to 
eliminate duplicate files, and a program 
such as DoubleKiller can help with this task. 



close the wizard, and click OK to close 
the dialog box. 

Not-So-Good Duplication 

When it comes to efficiency, some- 
times we unintentionally add to the 
clutter by downloading multiple copies 
of the same file. This typically happens 



when we download a file to an obscure 
location, can't find it, and then down- 
load the same file to another location. 
In this type of situation, figuring out 
that we have duplicate copies of a file 
(and where the duplicates are located) 
is difficult, so it would be useful to have 
a tool that can scan the hard drive for 
us. While Windows doesn't include 
such a utility, there are some good free- 
ware applications and other third-party 
tools available. 

For instance, DoubleKiller (free; 
www.bigbangenterprises.de/en/double 
killer) is a freeware program that 
scans your hard drive and looks for 
files with similar names, sizes, con- 
tent, and dates. This customizable ap- 
plication lets you choose filtering 
criteria (such as searching only Word 
document files) and exclude files in a 
certain size range or with attributes 
such as hidden or system files. Once 



UNINSTALL IT THE CORRECT WAY 



In the early days of 
Windows, uninstalling 
a program was a labo- 
rious process fraught 
with uncertainty. You'd 
scan your hard drive 
looking for a file name 
that sounded as if it were 
related to the program 
you wanted to uninstall, 
and once you found one, 
you'd manually delete 
the file. You could never 
be sure you were unin- 
stalling all the files re- 
lated to that particular 
program, and occasion- 
ally you'd even unin- 
stall a file you actually 
needed, leading to a lot 
of hair-pulling and un- 
happy language. 

Today, even though 
better methods are avail- 
able for uninstalling pro- 
grams, the old way of 



doing it is still all too 
common. And although 
the past several versions 
of Windows have in- 
cluded a handy Add Or 
Remove Programs utility 
to provide users with a 
better way to perform 
uninstallations, some 
users still revert to the 
former practice. It's a 
shame, too, because at- 
tempting to completely 
delete programs with a 
manual method can lead 
to system instability, un- 
necessary program rem- 
nants, and a bloated 
Registry. (For more infor- 
mation, see "Registry 
Cleansing" on page 54.) 
To properly uninstall 
a program, open the 
Control Panel via the 
Start menu, click Add Or 
Remove Programs, scroll 



down the list to locate 
the program you want 
to delete and select it. 
Depending on the 
program, you might 
see a Remove button, 
a Change button, or a 
combination Change/ 
Remove button; click the 
button containing the 
word "Remove." 

Sometimes unin- 
stalling a particular pro- 
gram prompts a wizard 
to display. If the wizard 
prompts you to click 
OK or Yes (or some- 
thing similar) to proceed 
with the uninstallation 
process, you should 
follow the simple 
(typically) on-screen 
instructions, which 
often conclude by 
directing you to click 
the Finish button. I 



Smart Computing / September 2006 59 



CLEA N OUT YO UR PC 



Cover Story 



you've run the scan, it displays a list 
of duplicates, so you can manually or 
automatically select which files you'd 
like to remove. 

Streamline The Startup Process 

Another way in which we add to 
our system's clutter is by placing so 
many items in our Startup group — 
the list of programs that launch when 
we boot up our PC — that the startup 
process is unnecessarily sluggish. 
Sure, you probably want to launch 
your antivirus program the moment 
you start your computer, but odds are 
good that you have unwittingly placed 
at least a few unwanted programs in 
the startup group, perhaps because 
you mistakenly thought a program's 
installer was referring to a program's 
placement in the Start menu instead. 

To trim down the Startup group, 
open the Start menu, choose Run, 
type msconfig in the Open field, 
and click OK. When the System 
Configuration Utility opens, choose 
the Startup (or Startup Group, if 
you're using a pre-Windows XP com- 
puter) tab. Scan the list of files, and if 
you aren't quite sure what a particular 
file name refers to, place your pointer 
on the right side of the Command 
title. Once the pointer changes to a 
double-headed arrow, drag it to the 
right to expand the space used to dis- 
play the full path to the file, and you'll 
be able to see where the file is stored 
on your hard drive. Deselect any un- 
necessary files and click OK. 

Sure-Fire Deletion 



Additionally, you can 
cleanse your hard drive 
even more by making sure 
that the files you think 
you've deleted are really 
gone — completely. When 



Uninstalling 

Windows 

components that 

you don't use can 

free up a lot of 

space on your 

hard drive. 




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you delete a file 
by sending it 
to your Recycle 
Bin, what you 

are actually doing is deleting the way 
in which Windows accesses the file. 
The file is still there (often for days or 
weeks), but the PC user has no ob- 
vious way to get to the data. And this 
situation remains as it is until your 
hard drive overwrites the "deleted" 
data with other data your system 
requests that the hard drive store. 

Having files that can be recovered 
may come in handy if you acciden- 
tally delete critical info, but if that 
deleted data happens to contain sensi- 
tive information that you don't want 
anyone to find, you need to make 
sure that data is deleted permanently. 

File shredders overwrite data so 
many times that it's extremely diffi- 
cult to recover the deleted files, even 
with a high-quality data recovery 
application. Consider, for example, 
Craig Christensen's Mutilate File 
Wiper 2.92 ($20; mutilatefilewiper 
.com). This program has three dif- 
ferent security levels, and you can 
customize it to overwrite your data 
up to 297 times. 



Disk Defragmenter takes data 

fragments and organizes them 

into logical, efficient groupings. 



File Action View Help 






m \S 


Volume Session Status File System 


Capacity Free Spa :e 


% Free Space 


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In addition, keep in mind that not 
only do file shredders help protect 
your privacy and add to your PC's 
security, they also can free up valuable 
hard drive space. 

Time For Defragmentation 

After you remove unnecessary files, 
you're ready to better organize the ones 
you plan to keep, so don't forget to use 
another useful utility included with all 
Windows PCs: Disk Defragmenter. 

When you delete programs and files, 
whether it involves using the Disk 
Cleanup utility or another process, the 
deletion process tends to leave gaps on 
your hard drive. Although it's good to 
have the extra space that comes from 
deleting unneeded data, it's not very ef- 
ficient to have data scattered all over 
the place. With scattered data, Win- 
dows and other programs take longer 
to find what they need to run. 

Defragmentation reorganizes the 
drive and puts data fragments together 
in a compact, logical manner. There's 
no need to know exactly how this 
works, but it is good to know how to 
use the right tools for the best result. 

In WinXP, open the Start menu and 
click All Programs, Accessories, System 
Tools, and Disk Defragmenter. The 
Disk Defragmenter utility displays such 
details as the type of file system your 
PC has, how large your hard drive is, 



60 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



CLEA N OUT YO UR PC 



Cover Story 



a 



It may seem as if tailoring your Startup 

group only helps your system speed up 

its boot phase, but it also helps ensure 

efficiency afterward, as well. 



General SYSTEM.INI WIN. INI BOOT. INI Services Startup 



and how much free space the 
drive has. 

The first step is to figure out 
how much defragmentation is 
needed. Close all open programs and 
click Disk Defragmented Analyze 
button. Within a few seconds, the chart 
shows you how data is grouped on your 
hard drive (red lines indicate frag- 
ments), and a pop-up box gives you the 
option to view the report, defragment 



Startup Item 


Command 


Location 


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the drive, or close the pop-up box. If 
you don't mind letting the Disk Defrag- 
menter do its work (uninterrupted) for 
an hour or two (or maybe more, de- 
pending on how fragmented the data 
is), click the Defragment button. When 
the defragmentation process finishes, a 



BAG THOSE INTERNET FILES 



You might think that 
the Web has made it 
significantly easier to find 
out information about 
other people, but the re- 
verse also is true. Others 
can use it to find out in- 
formation about you by 
looking at your down- 
loaded files, cached files, 
cookies, and other telling 
data. The good news is 
that you can easily find 
and delete this data. 

One way to do so is 
via your Web browser. 
Most browsers have an 
Options dialog box that 
lets you delete cookies, 
temporary files, surfing 
history details, and 
more. For example, in 
Internet Explorer, just 
click Internet Options 
from the Tools menu to 
find such a dialog box. 
Choose the General tab, 
click the Delete Cookies 
button, and then click 
OK at the prompt to rid 
your PC of those little 



bits of code that Web 
servers place on your 
hard drive to identify 
your PC. (Keep in mind 
that some sites you regu- 
larly visit — and which 
have stored your user- 
names and passwords in 
the past — may not rec- 
ognize you if you delete 
their cookies. This causes 
no real damage, but it 
can mean that you'll 
have to manually sign 
in to such sites.) 

Also on the General 
tab, click the Delete Files 
button to eliminate all 
the Internet temporary 
files stored on your com- 
puter, and if you'd like 
to rid your computer of 
Web pages you down- 
loaded to look at offline, 
select the Delete All 
Offline Content check- 
box before clicking OK 
at the prompt. 

In addition, the 
General tab has a Clear 
History button you can 



click to wipe out the list 
of pages you've visited 
recently, as well as a set- 
ting you can modify that 
controls the number of 
days the browser keeps 
pages in its history on an 
ongoing basis. Be sure to 
click Apply and OK be- 
fore closing the Internet 
Options dialog box. 

If you use the Firefox 
browser, you'll also find 
a similar feature via the 
Tools menu. From this 
menu, click Options, 
select the Privacy icon, 
and go through each 
category to click various 
buttons that will clear 
the cache (stored Web 
pages), wipe out your 
browsing history, and 
perform similar tasks. 
Or, you can select Clear 
Private Data from the 
Tools menu and de- 
lete the Web-related 
personal data Firefox 
has stored from your 
online travels. I 



second graph displays a representation 
of your organized — and much more 
efficient — hard drive. 

Kick Adware & Spyware To The Curb 

Another way to increase hard drive 
space — and decrease frustration — is to 
eliminate any adware or spyware. Not 
only do they consume space and slow 
down your PC by hogging system 
resources, but they also get in the way 
of everyday computing tasks by gen- 
erating errors, adding unwanted tool- 
bars, hijacking browser settings, and 
more. To make matters worse, these 
malware programs use your computer 
and its resources to secretly collect in- 
formation about you and then use your 
Internet connection to send that infor- 
mation back to a third party. 

In many cases, these malware pro- 
grams installed themselves without 
your knowledge and/or consent, so 
that's why it's important to have anti- 
spyware to find and eliminate these 
intruders. With that said, if your goal 
is to thoroughly degunk your hard 
drive, you'd better make sure you get 
rid of these vermin, as well. For more 
information, see "Wipe Out Spyware 
& Adware" on page 62. 

Multipurpose Tools 

Although there are many great tools 
out there that focus on one aspect of 
cleaning out the gunk on your PC, a 
few deserve special mention for their 
comprehensive toolset. We recom- 
mend that you take a look at Norton 
SystemWorks 2006 ($69.99 per year; 
www.symantec.com), McAfee Quick- 
Clean ($24.99 per year; us.mcafee 
.com), and System Cleaner 5 ($34.95; 
www.pointstone.com) to see if they 
have tools appropriate for your situa- 
tion. After all, using such tools gives 
you the added benefit of accom- 
plishing more tasks at once, thereby 
freeing you up for other activities — 
such as cleaning the bathroom. II 

by Heidi V.Anderson 



Smart Computing / September 2006 61 



WIPE OUT 

SPYWARE & ADWARE 

GIVE MALWARE THE BOOT 

& GIVE SYSTEM PERFORMANCE A BOOST 




Spy Sweeper 



—-is; B ! 



Webroot's Spy Sweeper is one of 

several reputable antispyware utilities 

that will protect your system 

from invasive software. 



Everybody knows spyware and ad- 
ware pose a threat to personal pri- 
vacy. Malicious hackers occasionally 
deploy these invasive programs to break 
into the systems of unsuspecting users for 
the purpose of stealing usernames, pass- 
words, financial records, and other confi- 
dential information. We know these types 
of things happen and spyware can certainly 
play a big role in causing such damage, but 
a much more common threat posed by ad- 
ware and spyware is the adverse effect these 
programs have on system performance for 
thousands of victims. 

Adware and spyware can debilitate a 
computer by bogging down its processing 
speed, hogging system and memory re- 
sources, and clogging network connec- 
tions. In addition, they encumber the 
end-user experience by spawning un- 
wanted pop-up windows, funneling ads 
onto the Desktop, and making unsolicited 
modifications to system settings. 

Adware and spyware programs also 
threaten PC security by surreptitiously de- 
activating firewalls, antivirus utilities, and 
other protective measures. And not sur- 
prisingly, adware and spyware developers 
don't provide toll-free technical support 
numbers that you can call when problems 
occur. In this arena, you're forced to re- 
solve the issues on your own. 

All of which proves just how important 
it is that you take steps to eliminate 
adware and resolve spyware infections 



immediately when they occur and, 
better yet, prevent them from hap- 
pening in the first place. 

Axing Adware 

First, a clarification: Technically 
speaking, adware and spyware are not 
the same type of programs. Spyware 
generally refers to a class of unso- 
licited programs that invade a system, 
monitor computing behavior, and re- 
port their findings to a third party. 
Adware, on the other hand, generally 
refers to any program that features 
built-in advertisements for third-party 
products and services; it's these ads 
that generate income for the software 
developer, allowing it to distribute its 
wares without charging a licensing fee. 

Because some adware developers 
monitor end-user activity for the pur- 
pose of delivering targeted ads, privacy 
experts often lump adware and spy- 
ware into the same category. Regardless 
of whether this classification is fair, 
the fact remains that adware — in any 
form — consumes network bandwidth 
and other system resources. For this 
reason, we advise users who want to 
optimize PC performance to eliminate 
adware, either by upgrading to share- 
ware that doesn't involve the regular 
transmission of ad content or by unin- 
stalling the adware altogether. Refer to 



62 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



CLEA N OUT YO UR PC 



Cover Story 



the software's users manual or Help 
files for assistance with either task. 

Spitting Out Spyware 

Users who notice degradation in 
system performance may consider sev- 
eral potential causes, including a virus 
infection, a hardware malfunction, a 
software conflict, or a server outage. 
But the most likely culprit nowadays is 
a spyware infection. That's why we 
recommend that you obtain an up-to- 
date antispyware utility, keep it cur- 
rent, and regularly use it to scan the 
entire system for spyware. 

Such a utility is easy to come by. 
Some of the most popular titles include 
Lavasoft's Ad-Aware SE Personal (free; 
www.lavasoft.com), CA's eTrust Pest- 
Patrol Anti-Spyware ($29.99; www.ca 
.com), Spybot Search & Destroy (free; 
www.safer-networking.org), and Web- 
root's Spy Sweeper ($29.95; www. web 
root.com). Microsoft is in the process 
of developing its own antispyware, as 
well. The beta version of Windows 
Defender, as it's currently known, is 
available for free at www.microsoft.com 
/athome/security/spyware/software. 
The shareware titles offer extended 
features that aren't available in the 
freeware titles, but all are capable 
of identifying the most common spy- 
ware infections. 

Refer to the antispyware utility's 
users manual or Help files for instruc- 
tions on performing a manual scan. 
The scan may take as long as an 
hour — sometimes even longer — de- 
pending on the amount of data 
contained on the drive or drives in 
question. If the antispyware utility de- 
tects a spyware infection on a system, 
take note of what it's called and let the 
utility remove the infection. 

Like a riding lawn mower that trims 
acres of grass just fine but can't get 
into tight corners, an antispyware 
utility typically removes the most 
harmful spyware components from 
the PC but may leave behind a fringe 
of scraggly residue. To eliminate the 
remnant code — which may cause 



trouble later on — we encourage you to 
visit a reputable antispyware site, such 
as the CA's Spyware Encyclopedia 
(www.pestpatrol.com/spywarecenter) 
or SpywareGuide.com (www.spyware 
guide.com), to search for manual re- 
moval instructions that pertain to the 
recent infection. 

When available, the manual re- 
moval instructions provide greater de- 
tail about spyware infections, often 
specifying the names of individual 
files and Registry keys associated with 



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Make sure you configure your Web browser's 
Security and Privacy settings to Medium or 
a higher setting for safer surfing. 



particular spyware invaders. You 
should execute the manual removal in- 
structions for any spyware infection 
identified on your system, even if an 
antispyware utility has ostensibly elim- 
inated the spyware already. As long as 
you exercise a little common sense and 
proceed with caution — which includes 
making sure you have a system backup 
on hand — the step-by-step instruc- 
tions can help you remove whatever 
nasty bits of code remain on the PC. 

Pick Up The Pieces 

Of course, spyware infections and 
adware programs do more than deposit 
new code on a PC; they also modify 
system settings, sully the storage drive, 
and leave a door open for malware 



and other unwanted programs to 
embed themselves on a system. For this 
reason, the next steps in restoring a 
computer to optimum performance in- 
volve several basic maintenance rou- 
tines, starting with a scan for viruses 
and other malware. You should update 
your antivirus utility and thoroughly 
scan the entire computer system. Any 
infections should be quarantined and 
removed immediately. 

You also should restore your secu- 
rity settings, which may have been 
modified or disabled by a spyware 
infection. Start by opening Internet 
Explorer, accessing the Tools menu, 
and selecting Internet Options. On 
the Security tab of the resulting dialog 
box, select the Internet content zone 
icon and position the security level 
setting to Medium or High. Next, 
click the Privacy tab and set the 
privacy level setting to Medium or 
higher. Clicking OK will close the 
dialog box and activate the security 
and privacy settings. 

A spyware infection may disable 
third-party security software, as well. 
Refer to your software's users manuals 
for instructions on how to activate 
your antivirus application, firewall, se- 
curity suite, pop -up blocker, antispam 
utility, and other security- related pro- 
grams you have installed. 

At this point, it's also a good idea to 
remove any unwanted applications 
that may have been introduced to the 
system by the spyware or adware infec- 
tion. Open Add Or Remove Programs 
in Windows XP (or Add/Remove Pro- 
grams in Windows Me/98) via the 
Control Panel and peruse the list of 
currently installed programs for any- 
thing that looks suspicious. Perform a 
keyword search using Google or an- 
other search engine to learn more 
about unfamiliar programs and deter- 
mine their function on your system. 
Then, uninstall any program associ- 
ated with adware or spyware. 

Finally, complete the cleanup pro- 
cess by lavishing a little attention 
on the hard drive. Specifically, you 
should open the Start menu and 



Smart Computing / September 2006 63 



CLEA N OUT YO UR PC 



Cover Story 



burrow through All Programs (Pro- 
grams in WinMe/98), Accessories, 
and System Tools to access several 
drive maintenance utilities, includ- 
ing Disk Defragmenter to optimize 
storage efficiency, ScanDisk (if avail- 
able) to eliminate drive errors, and 
Disk Cleanup to eradicate the accu- 
mulation of unnecessary files on the 
hard drive. These utilities can resolve 
many of the storage inefficiencies and 
errors that arise as a result of an 
adware or spyware infection. 

In a worst-case scenario, you may 
have to consider reformatting the 
hard drive and reinstalling Windows. 
Doing so isn't particularly difficult, 
but it may take several hours. The 
reformatting process wipes a drive 
clean, which is why you should back 
up all data files, including email 
folders and contact databases, before 
activating the Format command. You 
also should verify that you have in- 
stallation discs (or diskettes) for all of 
the software — including Windows — 
that you'll need to reinstall on the 
clean drive. For more information, 
Smart Computing subscribers can 
access our online archives and read 
"Start With A Clean Slate" at www 
.smartcomputing.com/lsoct03/rein 
stall, for instructions on how to for- 
mat a hard drive. 

Avoid Annoyances From Ads & Spies 

Given the amount of effort in- 
volved in recovering from an adware 
or spyware infection, it's obvious that 
preventing such an infection should 
be an important part of any strategy 
for maintaining optimal system per- 
formance. In addition to running up- 
to-date antispyware and antivirus 
utilities, you should follow some basic 
rules for safe computing. 

Don't stray from familiar territory. 
We teach our children to stay away 
from strangers and avoid unfamiliar 
places, and yet, how many computer 
users heed that advice when surfing 
the Web? The fact is that the Internet 
is a dangerous place. Identity thieves, 



crackers, and other miscreants cause 
untold mischief because they know 
curious users will gladly do things on- 
line that they would never dream of 
doing in the real world. 

One of the best ways to avoid spy- 
ware and adware is to spend your 
online time with trusted content 
providers. Stay away from unfamiliar 
sites that offer free downloads, espe- 
cially if those downloads are of the 
illegal or unsavory variety (such as 
pirated software and pornographic 
images). These types of things are 
just bait for spyware-laced Java scripts 
and ActiveX controls that install 



Disk Cleanup More Options 



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[»] Temporary files DKB v 



Total amount of disk space you gain: 179,341 K 

Description 

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Disk Cleanup can help get your 
system back to its peak operating 
efficiency after removing spyware 
and recovering from an infection. 



themselves automatically on the com- 
puters of unsuspecting visitors. 

Download danger. If visiting an 
unfamiliar Web site is like walking 
down a dark alley in a bad part of 
town, downloading unfamiliar files is 
like approaching a gang in that same 
alley and asking if anybody knows 
how to set the time on your Rolex. 
Doing so is just begging for trouble. 

Users should practice great caution 
when it comes to downloading data 
via Web sites or email messages. By 
default, every downloadable file 
should be considered a carrier of 
adware or spyware — or viruses or 
worms or Trojan horses, for that 



matter — until proven otherwise. 
Therefore, avoid all downloads except 
for those you requested and those that 
come from a trusted source; and even 
then, you should still scan these files 
for viruses before opening them. 

We also suggest that you refrain from 
downloading and installing ad- driven 
freeware, which may deliver a steady 
stream of targeted advertisements 
through the guise of a useful program. 
It's better to pay a nominal fee for the 
ad-free shareware version of a program 
than suffer through sluggish Internet 
access every time you go online. 

Stay away from spam. As anyone 
with email can attest, crackers fre- 
quently use email as a way to deliver 
malevolent code to unsuspecting 
users. That's why smart users who 
hope to maintain optimal system per- 
formance take concrete steps to avoid 
receiving unsolicited email. 

One such step is to keep close dibs 
on a personal email address. Give 
your preferred email address to no 
one except trusted friends and col- 
leagues. You also should consider set- 
ting up a secondary email address for 
use everywhere else, such as when 
registering at Web sites or signing up 
for electronic newsletters. 

Another step is to invest in an anti- 
spam utility, such as any of those 
mentioned in "Spitting Out Spam" on 
page 21. Antispam software is de- 
signed to direct email messages from 
suspicious and unfamiliar sources to 
the dead letter office while still al- 
lowing messages from trusted senders 
to reach your inbox. 

Be Careful Out There 

Like it or not, the Internet is a dan- 
gerous place. Unfortunately, too many 
computer users persevere in reckless 
online behavior that exposes them to 
spyware and adware threats. You can 
ensure optimum PC performance by 
recognizing the threats and adjusting 
your computing habits accordingly. II 

by Jeff Dodd 



64 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



CLEAN OUT YOUR PC / SMARTCOMPUTING.COM 



Cover Story 



Backups & 
Data Recovery 



We all know how important it is to clean out our com- 
puters to keep them running smoothly. But it's just as 
important to back up your computer. Think about all of the 
important information stored on your computer: the pic- 
tures and movies of your grandson's first steps; your tax 
records and other financial information from the past five 
years; all of the music you spent hours downloading. Now, 
imagine all of that information disappearing. Scary, huh? 
Backing up your system can prevent future problems and 
will most definitely save you a lot of time and stress. 

Find all the backup information you 
need in SmartComputing. corn's Tech 
Support Center. The Backups & Data 
Recovery section is full of articles on how 
to back up your system, and how to re- 
cover valuable lost information. The arti- 
cles cover basic computing language, the 
tools you'll need to back up your system, 
and how to avoid losing data. Check out 
these great articles in the Tech Support 
Center at SmartComputing.com today. 



Tech Support Center 



Error Messages 

Basic Troubleshooting Articles 
S Privacy 



1 Go to SmartComputing.com and click 
the Tech Support Center. 

2 Click the Backups & Data Recovery link. 



Communications 



Driver Education 



Can't Find An Answer To 
Your Question Or Problem? 



Post it to our 
reader-response 
Q&A Board. 

ature is 

subscribers.) 



u 



3 Search articles to find all the backup in- 
formation you need. Subscribers, be sure to log in so you can 
add the articles to your Personal Library! 

Add To My Personal Librar y 



It's a good idea to pass- 
word-protect your backed 
up files so this important 
data doesn't somehow fall 
into the wrong hands. 
When selecting a pass- 
word, don't choose your 
cat's name. While Linus 
may be the perfect feline, 
his name is an obvious 
choice. Instead, make use 
of a simple algorithm. Say 
you grew up on Richmond 
Lane and you need a 
Gmail password. Because g, the first letter of Gmail, is the 
seventh letter of the alphabet, your password could be 
07Richmond07. For more tips, see 
www.smartcomputing.com/scoct05/password . 




A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) will provide a little 
bit of extra time to save and shut your PC 
down properly in case of power failure. 
A UPS is little more than a heavy- 
duty battery with multiple power 
outlets on it. It sits between your 
PC and the wall, so if you lose 
power, the battery instantly kicks 
in and your computer never turns 
off. A good UPS can also shield your 
system from damaging power dips and surges. 





Looking for some CD-Rs (CD-record- 
able) with which to back up your 
system? A quick search on 
Amazon.com ("CD-R spindle") 
yielded over 300 options. Choices 
abound, which means that's one fewer 
reason not to back up your data. 



Browse SmartComputing.com for more great articles about backups & data recovery. 



What To Do When . . . Your Computer Is Running 
Verrry Sloooowly: Speed Up A Sloth-Like PC With 
These Tips 
www.smartcomputing.com/rsdec03/slowpc 



From our online dictionary 



Crash Control: Target The Common Causes Of Crashes & Lockups 
www.smartcomputing.com/scmar05/crash 

What To Do When . . . You Need To Create A Boot Disk: Use Boot Disks 
To Resuscitate Your PC 
www.smartcomputing.com/rsdec03/bootdisk 



Backing up, or saving, all files from one storage medium, usually the entire contents of a hard drive, to an- 
other medium. Some types of full backup media are magnetic tapes, optical discs, and removable hard 
drives. A full backup differs from a partial backup, incremental backup, and other backups because it in- 
cludes every file regardless of whether the file was changed since the last backup. 



SmartComputing / September 2006 65 



Broderbund Print Shop Deluxe 20 



Quick Studies 
How-To 



Desktop 
Publishing 

Beginner 

20 for Windows 
98/2000/Me/XP 



Create Full-Featured Calendars, Part II 



Style | Picture | 
Time period: p 



v :.."■■ : : Cii.i •;■■•. 



PeekabooFrog.JPG 



^ 

^ 






irt Gallery | Save to disk | Rotate 30 | 
irowse... | Delete | FlipHorz | 
Flip Vert | 



f* Proportional 

r Complete p Transparent 



J_ 



J_ 



The Layout 

Properties dialog 

box provides 

the controls 

for making 

changes to 

graphics placed 

in calendars. 

Transparency has 

been applied to 

the graphic here. 



Last month, we showed you how to get started 
creating a calendar using Print Shop Deluxe 
20. We looked at creating simple calendars and 
how to use the wizard to create a calendar with 
custom elements. This month, we'll show you 
how to customize graphics for your calendar. 

Visit The Gallery 

Create a new blank calendar by clicking File, 
New Calendar Collection, and Basic Calendar. 
Choose the Month time period in the Select View 
drop -down box. 

Click Add and Pic- 
ture to bring up the 
Print Shop Deluxe Art 
Gallery. Click File and 
Open From Disk and 
select a graphic. Or 
double- click a graphic 
in the preview pane. 
Either way the graphic 
is placed in the upper- 
left corner of the cal- 
endar. The graphic at 
first appears only on 
this page in this view. 
Double-click the graphic on the calendar 
or right-click it and select Properties from the 
pop-up menu to bring up the Layout Object 
Properties dialog box. 

Click the Style tab. Check Movable if you want 
to be able to move the graphic around on the cal- 
endar page. Check Show Shadow to display a 
shadow around the box that contains the graphic. 
The Background and Borders sections in the 
dialog box are intuitive and easy to use. Changes 
are reflected in the preview pane as you work. 

An unnamed section of the dialog box in the 
upper right lets you set how long you want the 
graphic to appear. We only have the one graphic 
on one calendar page at this point. Let's say we 
like it so much we want to repeat it on each 
monthly page for the next six months. 

Click Repeat Rule and set it to Every Month as 
that is the time period we are working on. Click 
Repeat Until and set a start date and end date to 
define the time span over which you want the 
graphic to appear. Click OK. Because we added 
the graphic to the monthly view, it appears only in 



the following monthly pages. You won't see it, for 
example, in the daily pages. 

Double- click the graphic again. You can click 
Repeat For to set a duration over which you want 
the graphic to appear. Set the number of months 
you want the graphic to repeat and then click OK. 

These settings for frequency and duration will 
fit most of your needs. Click Advanced Repeat 
Rule to further refine timing. 

Manage & Alter Graphics 

Now back to the Layout Object Properties di- 
alog box. The second tab is Picture. The Pictures 
In This Calendar box shows you all the graphics 
you ever placed in the calendar, even if they 
aren't currently displayed. 

The four buttons on the left let you choose, 
save, and delete graphics. The adjacent three but- 
tons let you rotate or flip the graphic. Effects are 
shown in the preview window. 

The Fit Picture In Area radio buttons provide 
several ways to adapt the graphic to its box. You 
will probably want to adjust the box on the cal- 
endar to get it to the shape you want. 

The Proportional button in the Fit Picture In 
Area maintains the graphic's aspect ratio so that 
it looks the same regardless of how large or small 
you make it. The Complete button causes the 
graphic to fill the box. The No Change button 
causes the graphic to be placed in its original size. 
The Tile button causes the graphic to repeat 
within the box and Center positions the graphic 
in the center of the box. 

Check the Link To The File box if you have 
saved the graphic to your hard drive. You can 
then close the calendar, make changes to the 
graphic with a graphics program outside of Print 
Shop Deluxe, and have those changes carry over 
to the next time you open the calendar. 

The effect of the tint setting is apparent in the 
preview window. Select the Transparent box, and 
the color designated below will be transparent in 
the graphic. An eyedropper is available to choose 
a color from the graphic preview. Transparency 
works best with clip art or other graphics that 
have a lot of empty space between elements. II 

by Tom Hancock 



66 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Quick c -" 4: 
How-To 



Browsers 

The Value Of Firefox's Search Bar 



Firefox 



Beginner 



A slew of add-on browser toolbars include 
search tools that let you perform searches 
without actually loading a new page in the main 
window. Firefox, the open-source competitor of 
Microsoft's Internet Explorer, puts that same func- 
tionality in the browser itself, with a space- saving 
Search Bar it places next to its Address Bar. 

Even better, Firefox's Search Bar isn't tied to a 
particular search engine; it can send your text to 
just about any engine you might imagine, and you 
can easily switch engines on the fly to get the type 
of results you want. Some of the choices, such as 
Dictionary.com and Wikipedia, may not be the 

type of full- service 



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Customize 

Firefox's Search 

Bar so it includes 

your favorite 

search engines. 



engines you're used 
to, but specialized 
search tools certain- 
ly serve a helpful 
purpose, as well. 

There's nothing 
to install or config- 
ure to get started 
with the Search Bar, 
either. It's already 
part of Firefox's in- 
terface and ready to 
run Google searches 
by default. Type a 
word or phrase in 
the field and press 
ENTER to see your search results display in the 
main window. If you want to run your search 
through a different engine, click the arrow on the 
left end of the Search Bar to open its drop-down 
menu. You'll see such familiar names as Yahoo! 
and eBay here; just click a name to see its logo re- 
place that of the previous engine you were using 
and press ENTER to perform your new search. 

Options Aplenty 

The handful of search engines found in the 
drop-down menu is far from complete; there are 
many other search tools you can add to Firefox's 
Search Bar. To see the additional options, click Add 
Engines from the bottom of the menu. Your 
browser will automatically open a Firefox page 
that's loaded with various search tools. Just click 
the name of a search engine to add it to your 
Search Bar's drop- down menu. 



After adding as many search engines as you want 
from the Firefox page, there are still other choices 
to consider. Toward the bottom of the page, look 
for this link: Browse Through More Search Engines 
At http://mycroft.mozdev.org. Click it to access 
more than 7,900 search plug-ins — a collection 
that's probably bigger than most users imagined 
could be in existence. You can only look for names 
of specific search sites from this catalog's main 
page, but to get an idea of what sites are available, 
click Advanced Search. Here, you can look through 
the available categories or specify your country and 
language and click Search to see a full list. 

Perhaps even more useful is a tool that lets you 
create searches out of any site. That might sound a 
little strange when you consider that someone else 
has already gone to the trouble of listing practically 
every search tool known to man, but it really isn't 
when you realize that any site can become a search 
tool for the specialized content it contains. To try 
out this tool, return to Firefox's Add-ons/Search 
Engines page and look for the Rollyo link near the 
bottom. From the Rollyo page, enter a name for 
your custom engine and then enter various site ad- 
dresses you want to include in your search. For in- 
stance, you might set up your own news- scouring 
search tool that accesses all the online newspapers 
and news organizations you frequently visit. When 
you finish entering your choices, click Create 
Search Engine. Rollyo asks if you'd like to add the 
new search tool to Firefox's Search Bar. Click OK. 

Hack 'Em Out 

The options Firefox provides to add search tools 
to the Search Bar are almost limitless, but what 
about removing a search engine you never use? 
Well, that turns out to be a little more difficult. 
Firefox doesn't include a built-in command to re- 
move a search engine from the list, but there is an 
extension you can install to add that functionality. 

Go back to Firefox's Add-ons/Search Engines 
Web page and look for a link near the bottom of 
the page referencing the SearchPluginHacks exten- 
sion. Click the link and follow the on-screen in- 
structions to download the extension. After doing 
so, you'll need to restart Firefox in order to make 
the new command available. II 

by Alan Phelps 



Smart Computing / September 2006 67 



Corel WordPerfect 1 1 



Quick Studies 
Problem-Solver 



Office Suites 

Intermediate 

Win9x/2000/ 
Me/XP 



Fix "Too Much Text" Error 



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;xt, Excess text mi 



E 



The dreaded 

inscrutable error 

message. 



You can't escape the occasional error message 
in any program, and WordPerfect is no ex- 
ception. Some errors are relatively self-explana- 
tory, but others may leave you scratching your 
head. One particularly cryptic WordPerfect error 
message reads "Too much text for the current con- 
text. Excess text will not display or print." Huh? 

This enigmatic message offers little in the way 
of possible solutions. How much text is too 
much? If this is the current context, 
~ ill what context were you in before? 

II not display or print. 

Translate 



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Word Perfect 11 Data 
Rich Text Format 
WordPerfect 11 Text 



For a quick 

solution, paste 

as unformatted 

text in a new 

document. 



Our first clue is that this error message typi- 
cally pops up when you near the end of a page. 
Look closely, and you'll see you've actually been 
typing in a header or footer rather than within 
the main section of the document. With a few ex- 
ceptions, headers and footers are usually designed 
to repeat on each page of a document. As a result, 
a default header or footer cannot be longer than a 
single page. So if you've been typing away, un- 
aware that you're not actually in 
the right spot, WordPerfect puts 
the brakes on with this error mes- 
sage when you first reach the end 
of a page. The message can also be 
generated by an unintentionally 
large number of spaces or tabs 
within a header (maybe your cat's 
been resting on your keyboard). 
If you inadvertently click out of the header/ 
footer and continue typing, the previous text ap- 
pears on all subsequent pages, while the new text 
you're typing appears one line at a time at the 
bottom of each new page. This occurs, again, be- 
cause of the repeating nature of headers/footers. 

Reveal Context 

WordPerfect's Reveal Codes offers a quick and 
easy way to see if you have indeed been typing in 
the wrong "context," i.e. the header or footer. 
WordPerfect inserts these hidden codes when you 
add text or formatting to a document. To view the 
codes, insert the cursor at the beginning of your 
text. Go to the View menu and click Reveal Codes. 

WordPerfect opens a separate pane below the 
main window. If the first code you see contains 



the word "header," you are indeed in the header 
context, and all of the text following that code is, 
perhaps mistakenly, in the header rather than the 
main document. 

Repair Error 

One way to move the text from the header back 
to its rightful place is to cut and paste the text into 
a new document as unformatted text — in other 
words, without the header/footer codes causing 
fits for you and WordPerfect. If you need a quick 
solution and you don't mind manually redoing 
any formatting, this is an easy fix. Using your 
mouse, select the text as you normally would and 
then select Cut from the Edit menu. Open a blank 
document, click the Edit menu, choose Paste 
Special, and then select Unformatted Text. Click 
OK. WordPerfect inserts the cut text into the new 
document without any of the original formatting. 

If you don't want to redo every bit of formatting, 
you can cut and paste and still preserve formatting. 
It takes a little extra work because you have to se- 
lect the text without inadvertently including the 
header codes. The first step is to view Reveal Codes 
again. Go to the beginning of the text in the Reveal 
Codes window and place the cursor immediately 
after the Header code. Hold down the left mouse 
button and drag the cursor to the end of the af- 
fected text. It's important to select the text within 
Reveal Codes rather than within the main docu- 
ment window in order to capture any text that was 
typed but not displayed, as per the error message. 
Return to the Edit menu and click Cut. 

Now that you've captured the text without the 
header code, you can paste it into the main docu- 
ment or a new document. To paste into the ex- 
isting document, return to the first page of the 
main document window and locate the dotted 
line that extends from the left margin to the right. 
This separates the header text from the main doc- 
ument text. Right-click below that same dotted 
line to ensure your cursor is outside the header. 
Choose Paste from the QuickMenu. 

While the WordPerfect wizards could have pro- 
vided us with an error message in plain English, it's 
not hard to move all that "excess text" into the right 
"context" once you understand what it means. II 

by Anne Steyer Phelps 



68 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Online 



Quick Studies 
How-To 



PayPal Mobile 
Intermediate 



Send Money By Phone With PayPal Mobile 







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PayPal Mobile 

lets you send 

money by phone 

to almost anyone 

from almost 

anywhere. 



You're at dinner with friends when you realize 
it's time to divvy up the check, but you're out 
of cash and you left your credit card wallet in your 
other jacket. Trying to stay calm, you take out your 
cell phone. No, you're not calling Mom; you're 
using PayPal Mobile to send money from your ac- 
count to your friend — right there at the restaurant. 
It's fast, relatively simple, and if your friend also 
uses PayPal Mobile, he'll get the confirmation on 
his own phone before he even leaves the table. 

Text To Cash 

PayPal, the payment service used to transfer 
money from a credit card or bank account via 
email and the Web, makes buying treasures (or 
junk) online safer because you don't need to give 
out your credit card number to random eBay 
sellers. Instead, they receive an email from PayPal 
and log on to their PayPal account to complete the 
transfer of funds. PayPal Mobile takes this service 
out of a computer command center (or rec room, 

whatever the case may 
be) and brings it in- 
to the real world. If 
you can send a text 
message, you can use 
PayPal Mobile. On 
the other hand (or 
thumb, as it were), if 
text messaging sounds 
foreign to you, con- 
sult your cell phone's 
instruction manual or 
your wireless carrier's 
online support section 
to figure out how it 
works with your par- 
ticular setup. 
To use the service, you'll first need to register 
your cell phone. Head to www.paypal.com/mobile 
and click the link to activate your phone. Assuming 
you already have a PayPal account, you'll need to 
provide your mobile number and select a special 
PIN for the mobile service. A PayPal computer 
then calls your phone, and you press the digits of 
your new PIN to confirm your identity. And that's 
it. As soon as you verify your PIN, you're all set. 

PayPal doesn't charge extra for the service, but 
you might incur text messaging fees from your 




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phone's carrier, so be sure to read the fine print 
from your wireless provider. The only kink we 
found occurs when a wireless provider doesn't yet 
support PayPal Mobile. One provider that's no- 
tably absent from the list — at the time of this 
writing — is Cingular/AT&T, but PayPal says to 
check back often for updates. (However, any cell 
phone can receive a PayPal money message.) 

After you sign up, you can send money by tex- 
ting a short message to 729725 (that's PAYPAL on 
your keypad, for letter-oriented folks). If your 
friend also uses PayPal Mobile, for instance, you 
would text "send 24.73 to 4255551234," where the 
first set of numbers represents the monetary 
amount and the second set indicates your friend's 
mobile phone number (sans the dashes, of course). 
PayPal immediately calls your phone to confirm 
the transfer. At the prompt, press your PIN's digits, 
and PayPal sends instructions to your friend (the 
recipient) about how he can pick up his money. 

On The Loose 

Losing a cell phone is bad enough, but it's even 
worse when you consider that whoever finds it 
could PayPal a nice little "gift" from your account. 
Fortunately, PayPal's PIN system short circuits 
such thievery. Although a crook might know how 
to text the correct command, she won't be able to 
enter your PIN when PayPal calls to confirm the 
transfer. So if your PIN is safe, your money is safe. 

If you face a situation when you can't send 
someone's cell phone number to PayPal or your 
beneficiary doesn't have a cell number, you can still 
use your phone to send money, but the destination 
will need to be an email address. You'd still text a 
message to the PayPal number, but this time, it 
might read "send 24.73 to bill@microsoft.com." 

Payback Time 

Back at the restaurant, it's time to use this ser- 
vice. All you need to do is figure out how much 
your own dinner costs and then text the amount 
you owe to the friend who brought his wallet. But if 
you see everyone at the table reaching for their own 
phones, it's time to figure out Plan B. II 

by Alan Phelps 



Smart Computing / September 2006 69 



vJUICK biUClieS 



How-To 



Image Processing 

Advanced 

9 for 

Win98SE/Me/ 

NT 4.0/2000/XP 



Corel Paint Shop Pro 9 

A Noise-Removal Filter For Digital Camera Photos 




The Digital 

Camera Noise 

Removal filter 

can eliminate 

those unwanted 

white specks 

from your 

digital photos. 



Noise. It's an odd term to apply to a photo, 
which is inherently silent, but it's also an ap- 
propriate one. Those small, unwelcome specks that 
sometimes crop up in digital photographs can dis- 
tract from the full impact of a photo. Paint Shop 
Pro has a tool that removes these troublesome 
specks without removing crucial detail. 

The Digital Camera Noise Removal filter works 
by identifying noise and allowing you to isolate it 
and replace it with information from nearby non- 
affected pixels, thereby creating a smoothing effect 
over the "noisy" area. We'll walk through 
removing noise from an entire image, but 
keep in mind that you also can use the 
tool on a selection within an image. 

Tone Down The Noise 

To follow along as we explain the steps 
we took for our example photo, open a 
noisy photo within Paint Shop Pro. From 
the Adjust menu, select Photo Fix and 
Digital Camera Noise Removal. 

The application then quickly scans 
your photo and places three crosshairs in 
the lowest preview area of the Digital 
Camera Noise Removal dialog box: one 
crosshair in a representative light area, another in a 
midtone area, and a third in a dark area. 

Correct placement of the crosshairs is critical in 
removing noise, so it's important to spend some 
time getting it right. In general, the tool does a 
good job of automatically identifying sample re- 
gions, but it's equally important that also you iden- 
tify them visually. The more regions you select, the 
more information you give the tool to work with. 

Most likely, you'll only see a small, central por- 
tion of the photo appear in the upper-left preview 
area. To create more sample regions — you can gen- 
erate up to 10 — click and hold down your mouse 
button over the Navigate icon and use your mouse 
to drag and drop elsewhere in the photo. The por- 
tion you just designated now appears in the upper- 
left preview area. Click and drag in the preview area 
to create a rectangular shape, and an additional 
crosshair representing the center of the rectangle 
appears in the Sampling Regions preview area. 

It'll take practice to see how the tool's features 
(including selecting crosshairs) work, but there are 
a few things you should know before you try to 



create sample regions. One, don't place a crosshair 
close to a photo's edge, or you may wipe away 
needed detail. Two, don't choose regions that are 
purely black or white because the filter needs some 
contrast. And three, place the crosshairs over areas 
that show one color (without too much detail). 

Manipulation & Correction 

Now define how the filter manipulates a photo 
based on this data. Noise Correction settings show 
the amount of correction the filter applies for dif- 
ferent sizes of noise patterns. The higher the num- 
ber is, the more correction Paint Shop Pro applies 
to each spatial noise band; the lower the number is, 
the less correction Paint Shop Pro applies. 

The first time you use the tool, leave the settings 
at their default values of 50% (you can experiment 
with higher and lower values later). As you type 
these values, wait a second, and via the upper-right 
preview area, you'll see the new values in action. 

The Correction Blend setting refers to the way in 
which the overall noise correction blends into the 
photo. By default, the value is 70%. If you'd like to 
see less overall blending, enter a lower number; if 
you'd like more blending, enter a higher number. 

The last step in determining noise correction 
values is to sharpen (add detail) to objects' edges. 
Noise reduction tends to smooth away some of the 
details, and selecting a relatively high Sharpening 
value can return some of those details. The filter 
doesn't apply a Sharpening value by default, but we 
like to add a small amount so the photo appears 
less blurry. Depending on your image and the 
effect you want, you may want to increase that 
value to 25% or higher. 

The preview area on the right indicates what the 
final effect will be, but it doesn't show everything. 
Go ahead and click OK, and then wait a couple of 
seconds for the changes to take effect. If you want 
to adjust any of the modifications you've applied, 
simply select Undo Digital Camera Noise Removal 
from the Edit menu and open the Digital Camera 
Noise Removal dialog box again. The settings you 
used most recently will be the ones displayed in the 
dialog box; that way, you won't have to reconstruct 
the entire process. Simply tweak the ones you'd like 
to alter and click OK. II 

by Heidi V.Anderson 



70 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 



Quick Studies 
How-To 



Presentation 

Advanced 

2002 for 

Win9x/Me/NT 

4.0/2000/XP 



Action Buttons 



Use action 

buttons when 

you want a 

no-fuss way to 

insert hyperlinks 

into your slides. 



PowerPoint lets you insert a couple of different 
kinds of hot spots that lead to other places. 
Inserting a hyperlink lets you jump to other files, 
a Web site, another slide, or a custom slideshow. 

An action button is a sort of subcategory of hy- 
perlinks. It's a prefab button you place in a pre- 
sentation and then define the link for. It's sort of 
like a door built at the factory and prehung in its 
frame; you just need to bring it home and place it 
between the two rooms you want to connect. 

General hyperlinks and action buttons work in 
the same way, but differ in their appearance. 
Hyperlinks can be anything you want to link 
from. They could be a photo, a line of text, or any 
number of other items found on a typical slide. 
Microsoft designed the action buttons, on the 
other hand, to use im- 
ages that are recogniz- 
able to anyone who 
is familiar with the 
controls on consumer 
electronics and soft- 
ware. The selection 
includes a button that 
clearly looks like some- 
thing you'd click to 
move to the first slide 
in the presentation, a 
button that plays a movie, and more. The action but- 
tons are programmed to carry out a task, so you can 
just drop them in and keep working. 

If you like their look in a regular presentation, 
you can certainly use them there. But action but- 
tons are most handy when users must work their 
way through a presentation without any help, such 
as during online training in the office or at a com- 
puter set up to run demos in a trade show booth. 

Inserting Buttons 

To place an action button on a slide, open the 
slide in Normal view and choose Slide Show and 
Action Buttons. A box of slides appears beside the 
main menu with 12 types of buttons to choose 
from. Each button's purpose is supposed to be self- 
evident from its icon, but you may need help fig- 
uring them out: Rest the mouse pointer on a button 
for a pop-up label that tells you what it does. 

When you find the button you want to use, click 
it. PowerPoint returns you to the working slide, 




where you drag the mouse pointer to indicate 
where (and how big) you want the action button. 
When you release the mouse button, the action 
button appears on the slide and a dialog box opens 
with some options for the button's operation. 

The dialog box includes a Hyperlink To selec- 
tion, which will be preset to the function for the 
type of button you chose. The button featuring 
an arrow with a vertical line to its right, for ex- 
ample, is preset to link to the presentation's last 
slide. The button with a house is preset to go to 
the first slide. You can change the function by 
clicking the Down arrow and choosing another 
destination for the hyperlink from the list. The 
options include other places within the presenta- 
tion, as well as Web sites, other presentations, 
and other files on your hard drive or network. 

Farther down in the dialog box, you also can 
assign a sound to play when someone clicks the 
action button. A chime or click sound might be a 
nice way to provide some auditory confirmation 
for users, but unless you're designing a presenta- 
tion for kids to use, take it easy on sound effects 
such as the laser and suction. 

The second tab in the dialog box offers the 
same options, but this time, they're all connected 
to simply passing the mouse over the action 
button rather than actually clicking on it. By de- 
fault, all these options are turned off, so that only 
clicking the button will cause any action. 

Customizing Buttons 

Once your action button is in place on the 
slide, PowerPoint treats it essentially like an 
AutoShape. That means you can customize its 
appearance in a variety of ways. 

To move it around the slide, just click the 
button and drag it somewhere else. To resize the 
button, click one of the sizing handles in the cor- 
ners and drag. Rotate it by clicking the little an- 
tenna on top and dragging. 

You even can change the button's color by 
right- clicking it and choosing Format AutoShape 
from the pop-up menu. 

You can get back to the button's actual link 
settings at any time by right- clicking the button 
and choosing Action Settings. II 

by Trevor Meers 



Smart Computing / September 2006 71 




Quick Tips 

Secrets For Succeeding In Common Tasks 



by Stephen J. Bigelow 



Wireless 
Networks 



Laptop 
Batteries 



Microsoft 
Word 



There are several wireless networks op- 
erating at work, but how can I choose the one 
that is best for my Windows XP laptop? 

Answer: The best connection is usually the fastest, 
so select the wireless network that offers the best 
signal strength. First, right-click the wireless net- 
work icon in your System Tray and select Status 
from the menu. A dialog box will illustrate the 
connection and report on signal strength as a se- 
ries of green bars. The strongest connections will 
have five green bars. Close the dialog box. 



If your signal strength is low, right-click the wire- 
less network icon again and select View Available 
Wireless Networks from the menu. A dialog box 
appears and lists all of the wireless networks that 
your laptop detects. Select one of the available 
wireless networks and click Connect. After a mo- 
ment, you'll receive a new IP (Internet Protocol) 
address and notification of your connection 
strength. Check the connection status again. If 
you have better strength, you can stay with that 
new connection (or try another available wireless 
network if you like). 



i: How do I know when it's time to re- 
place my laptop battery? 

Answer: The main battery in a notebook PC does 
not last forever and will eventually start to fail after 
several hundred charge/discharge cycles. If you 
rarely use the battery (for example, if the laptop is 
running from the AC adapter), the battery should 
last for the life of the laptop. But if you're frequently 



working on the road, expect to replace the battery 
after about two to three years of regular use. You 
can tell the battery is failing when its running time 
becomes unusually short. For example, if you nor- 
mally get four hours from a full charge, getting only 
two hours from a full charge might signal battery 
problems. You can sometimes extend the battery's 
working life by periodically draining the battery 
completely and providing a full recharge. 



How can I protect my Word documents 
from malicious macro activity? 

Answer: Microsoft Word provides macro security 
features that can prevent questionable macros from 
running when you open documents from others. 
With Word running, click Tools and Options and 



select the Security tab. Now click the Macro 
Security button and see that the Security Level op- 
tion is selected. Choose an appropriate security 
level from the options available (Low, Medium, 
High, or Very High). In most cases, a High setting 
is adequate. Click OK to save any changes and then 
click OK again to close the Options dialog box. 



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unauthorized a;;e??. 



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[ Conned j | Cancel 



Use the wireless network icon in 
your System Tray to quickly and 
easily change wireless networks 
in your immediate vicinity. 



Security Level j l]j 



sn choose whether or nc 



. . .' ...'....... ... . 

'" ' ' ' '" ' ' ...... 

you open, 



[ OK | Cancel 



Take advantage of Word's 
settings to protect your 
documents against malicious 
macro activity. 



^— ■:>:-:: |* 



.Association Authentication 



Wireless network key f'.VEP) 

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Network key: 

.vork key: 



Key index (advanced): 1 * 

The key is provided for me automatically 



| | This is a compare--:: •::■•■ ::-^:e- ;a: - : : network; wireless 
access points are not used 



[ OK 1 [ Cancel 



You can access secure 
wireless networks 
by configuring the 
correct encryption 
information with the 
connection name. 



72 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Quick Tips 




Memory 



Wireless 
Networks 



Microsoft 
Outlook 



USB Devices 



I just installed a new memory module 
in my PC, but now the PC won't even power up. 

Answer: At a glance, this probably seems like a 
catastrophic failure. Chances are that the new 
memory module that you installed is defective or 
installed improperly. Unplug the PC again and re- 
install the memory module. Make sure that you 
didn't knock anything else loose during the install. 
If the problem persists, remove the new memory 



module and see if the system restarts. (You may 
need to replace the old memory module if there 
was one.) If the system starts normally, you can be 
confident that the new module is defective, so re- 
turn it to the point of purchase for a replacement. 

Note that memory modules are extremely sensi- 
tive to electrostatic discharge. Always use a prop- 
erly grounded wrist strap when installing sensitive 
electronic devices in your PC. 



I want to use a different wireless net- 
work, but it's secure. How can I get onto the new 
wireless network? 

Answer: If a wireless network is secured with 
encryption, you will need to provide a valid 
encryption key to access the secured network. 
First, right-click the wireless network icon in 
your System Tray and then click View Available 
Wireless Networks. Highlight the name of the se- 
cured wireless network that you want to use and 
click Advanced. A Properties dialog box should 
open. In the Available networks area, highlight the 



desired secure network again and click Configure. 
A new dialog box appears. Make sure that the se- 
cure network SSID is correct, enable encryption, 
and then enter the necessary key(s) in the spaces 
provided — this dialog will appear a bit different for 
WPA-type security. Click OK to accept the key(s). 
You should connect to the secure network once 
you click OK. If you still do not connect, double- 
check the encryption key(s) and make sure they 
are correct. Remember that unless you've set up 
the wireless network yourself, you'll need to ob- 
tain any encryption keys from the secure wireless 
network operator. 



i: How do I organize my Outlook email 
messages into categories? 

Answer: Microsoft Outlook 2003 is very flexible 
when it comes to organizing emails. To categorize 
a message, right-click the desired message and 
click Categories from the drop-down menu. A 
Categories dialog box appears. Check each available 



category box that is appropriate for the message 
and click OK. You can also create new categories 
on the fly by entering a new category name in 
the Item(s) Belong To These Categories area, 
clicking the Add To List button, assigning the new 
categories to the message, and clicking OK. Once 
categories are assigned, you can go back and change 
the category assignments. 



n: How can I get my PC to properly recog- 
nize my new USB device? 

Answer: In order for a USB port to accurately 
identify a newly attached device, the operating 
system must already possess the correct driver 
software for the device. That is, Windows has to 
be able to "see" what you're connecting before you 
connect it. While WinXP already has driver sup- 
port for most USB device types, older versions of 
Windows (for example, Windows 98) typically re- 
quire you to install drivers before attaching the 
USB device. If you're operating an older version 



of Windows, follow the device's installation 
instructions and install any drivers needed for 
the USB device before attaching it. Once the 
drivers are installed, you may need to reboot 
the PC. Try attaching the USB device. Windows 
should now see it properly. If you're working with 
a newer WinXP computer, you probably do not 
need to install any software in advance, but always 
double-check the device's installation instructions 
and try some troubleshooting. Try the device on a 
different PC if possible to verify that the device it- 
self is working. Reboot your PC and try the USB 
device again — perhaps on a different USB port. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 73 



Compiled by Jennifer Farwell 
Graphics & Design by Lindsay Anker 



Data Storage 
Options 



Portable Drives Tame 
The Backup Beast 






It's been nearly 50 years since IBM intro- 
duced the first computer with a disk drive. 
The 305 RAMAC, introduced in 1956, cost around 
$3,000 per month to rent — and up to $190,000 to purchase. 
Its total data capacity was around 5MB. Needless to say, we've 
come a long, long, way from the 305 RAMAC. Over the last 
few decades, hard drives have become increasingly less expen- 
sive and more reliable and capacious than their predecessors. 




OneTouch PC 





Seagate's Pocket Drive fits 8GB of 
data into the palm of your hand. 



Big & Bold 



On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can go just a 
bit bigger and acquire a lot more bang for a few more 
bucks. Most of the larger drives offer optional Fire Wire 
connections, too — something many of the portable drives 
lack. The macho LaCie Big Disk offers a whopping 1TB 
(terabyte) of capacity for $699— enough for 200 MPEG2 
movies or 250,000 MP3s. 



Petite & Powerful 

When IBM debuted a 1GB drive not much bigger than a 
quarter in 2000, it ushered in a new era in portable storage. 
Today's consumer-priced drives aren't quite that small. 
Nevertheless, you can purchase a super-capacious 100GB 
portable drive not much bigger than an index card from 
Seagate, Pexagon, and other vendors. 

With these smaller external drives, most users can back 
up an entire desktop hard drive — operating system, pro- 
grams, and data — with a single session (no more changing 
out CDs or DVDs). Many of them even include easy-to-use 
backup software and other utilities, including encryption 
and compression tools. Furthermore, most obtain their 
power from your PC, so you won't need to hassle with a 
power cord. If you don't need that much storage space, you 
can buy a palm-sized, disc-shaped drive (up to 8GB) for 
even less. Another option is a USB flash drive, but we'll dis- 
cuss those another time. 



^^^^M 






74 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




Will They Go The Distance? 



Before you abandon your CD or DVD backups, remember that all hard 
drives — external and internal — still can and do fail (about 1% per year, ac- 
cording to a white paper by the International Institute of Electrical and 
Electronics Engineers). If you drop a portable drive or move it around a lot, 
failure rates can increase, even with the shockproof housings sported by 
most portable drives. In addition, any rewriteable medium is susceptible to 
user error, which causes more data loss than hardware failure (32% vs. 13%, 
according to data recovery firm Stellar Information Systems), as well as to 
viruses or hackers when it's connected to your PC. For data you cannot bear 
to lose (such as your wedding pictures or the media playlists you spent 
days creating), we still recommend duplicating the archive on a 
non-rewriteable CD or DVD or an online storage service. 






The ABSplus (shown upside down) has an 
automated backup system and a USB cord 
that tucks neatly into its back. 



LaCie's Little Big Disk (right) packs 
up to 320GB of files onto a tiny and 
incredibly fast drive. 



A Roundup Of External Drives 



There are many external hard drives on the market, and vendors are always adding 
more. The listing here is representative but far from complete. If you have a favorite 
drive brand, check to see if the vendor offers the size and capacity you seek. 



Drive 


Manufacturer 


Dimensions 


Capacity 


Price* 


Software 


Connector 


ABS plus 


CMS Products 
www.cmsproducts.com 


5" x 3" x 1.125" 


40 to 160GB 


$199 - 

$449 


Plug-and-play backup, bootable 
system recovery, security features 


USB or FireWire 


Big Disk 


LaCie 
www.lacie.com 


1 .7" x 6.2" x 
10.6" 


500GB to 1TB 


$699 


Drive utilities only 


USB; optionally 
USB and FireWire 


Little Big 
Disk 


LaCie 
www.lacie.com 


1 .6" x 3.3" x 
5.5" 


160 to 320GB 


$399 


Drive utilities only 


USB/ FireWire 
400/800 


OneTouch 
III, Mini 
Edition 


Seagate Technology** 
www.maxtorsolutions.com 


5.24" x 3.54" x 
0.79" 


60GB or 
100GB 


$150- 
$200 


One-button backup, security 
features 


USB only 


Pocket 
Hard Drive 


Seagate Technology 
www.seagate.com 


0.71" x 3.03" 
(round) 


5 to 8GB*** 


$99- 
$149 


Security features, drive utilities 


USB only 


Store-It 
1 .8" Drive 


Pexagon Technology 
www.pexagontech.com 


3.1" x 3.74" x 
.51" 


20 to 60GB 


$150- 
$220 


One-button backup, security 
features 


USB only 



"Retail or vendor Web site price; discounts may be available. ""Seagate Technology completed its acquisition 
of Maxtor in May 2006 but continues to market the Maxtor line independently. """At press time, Seagate had 
announced the 8GB model ($149.99) but was not selling it yet. It should be available by the time you read this. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 75 




This Month In 
Tech Support 



Reassign Drive Letters 

All About VoIP 

To Spill & Spill Not 

Contributing Writers 

Rachel Derowitsch 

Jennifer Johnson 

JeffDodd 

Gregory Anderson 

Next Month 

Overcome Hijacked 
Browsers 

Avoid Problems 
With BackWeb 



What To Do When .. . 

Your Printer Starts 
Printing Old Documents 



File Edit View Favorites 



Jjfr 



103- 




i^J Resume printing 



»* r 1 

.... . , ■ • . . . - 

X Delete this printer 
Set printer 



;,■]•::. r -.-.■ ■ 



Other Places 



Eliminate printing 
surprises by keeping 
yourprinter(s) setto 
ready, not paused. 



Work with computers and peripherals 
long enough, and you'll finally come 
across that one problem that makes 
you say, "Now I've heard everything." 

That's a reasonable response to the issue of 
printers suddenly spitting out documents a user 
tried to print days or even weeks before. It's a 
quirky, uncommon problem, but we found 
some ways to correct a printer that's misbe- 
having and also ways to prevent this occurrence 
from happening in the first place. 

Paper Source Issues 

Most of the troubleshooting options we'll 
walk through involve choosing the proper 
settings, and that begins with working in 
the Control Panel. In Win- 
dows XP, go to Start and 
Control Panel and then 
double-click the Printers 
And Faxes icon (make sure 
you're in Classic View). 
Next, highlight the icon 
of the problematic print- 
er. This should open the 
Printer Tasks menu in the 
left pane; if it doesn't, click 
the Down arrow and open 
that task menu. 
This menu contains a few commands you 
should check in order to fix the problem or rule 
them out as the problem's source. Click the 
Select Printing Preference command. On the 
Paper/Quality tab, look at the paper source. The 
setting should be Automatically Select; if it's on 
Manual Paper Feed, that could explain the 
problem for users who print infrequently. Always 
make sure your paper tray is stocked and that the 
printer is automatically choosing the paper 
source to match the size of the paper you've se- 
lected to print on. If you need to change paper 



source settings for a special printing project, im- 
mediately reset them after you're finished. 

Paused Printer 

Another command in the Printer Tasks menu 
to investigate is Pause Printing/Resume Print- 
ing. If someone has clicked the Pause Printing 
command, whether here or in the Print Queue 
window (opened by double-clicking the printer 
icon or clicking See What's Printing in the 
Printer Tasks menu), the selected printer won't 
print anything in the print queue, even if you 
turn off and reboot your computer. However, 
once the Resume Printing command is chosen, 
the printer will churn out all the documents 
lined up to print. 

If you share a PC or printer(s) with other 
users, make sure none of the printers connected 
to your PC have been paused. 

Nonresponsive Printer 

Now let's check the printer's properties. Click 
the Set Printer Properties command in the 
Printer Tasks menu or right-click the printer 
icon and choose Properties. Choose the Ports 
tab. Highlight the port your 
printer is using — it may be 
labeled LPT1, for in- 
stance — and click the 
Configure Port button. 

On the next screen, 
you'll see the time (in 
seconds) that will elapse 
before you will be 




76 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH SUPPORT 



Printers 



al | Sharing Ports | Advanced ] Device Settings | 



HP LaserJet 4L 



LPT1: Prints 

□ LPT2: Printer Port 

□ LPT 3: Printe 

□ C0M1: Serial Port 

□ COM2: Serial Port 

□ COM3: Serial Port 

□ COM4: Serial Port 



■■• :.-: :■ '. 



If your printer isn't responding, you need to be notified 
right away. Keep the Configure Port setting, measured 
in seconds, low so you can know when a problem arises. 




notified that your printer is not re- 
sponding to the command to print. The 
default time here should be low, such as 
90 seconds. Make sure this setting 
hasn't been changed. If your printer 
isn't responding, you need to be noti- 
fied right away. Otherwise, you could 
wait a long time before you know you 
need to fix a problem. After you've 
fixed the problem, the printer may 
print an old document that was waiting 
in the queue. 

Timed Printing Jobs 

Another setting you should check is 
found on the Advanced tab of the 
Printer Properties dialog box. The top 
setting, Always Available, should be 
marked. If, for some reason, this set- 
ting has been changed, and your 
printer is set to work only at certain 
times, this could be the reason your 
printer suddenly spits out a docu- 
ment you thought you already had 
printed — or a document someone 
else sent to the printer hours ago. 



Drive Memory 
& Spooling 

Now that we 
have checked 
and eliminated 
these settings as 

the potential 




ral| Sharing | Ports Advanced | D, 
Mways available 
Available from 



|HPL! 



r Hold 
|7 Print spooled 
I - Keep printed i 
R Enable advanced 
Printing Defaults... 



::'. Xi(r : 



source for quirky printer be- 
havior, we'll discuss another type 
of problem. 

By default, your printer probably is 
set to enable spooling. (This setting 
is on the Advanced tab.) When you 
spool print jobs, the documents are 
saved in a buffer, a temporary space 
on your hard drive, before they are 
sent to the printer. 
The benefit of spool- 
ing is that you can 
print several docu- 
ments and then go 
about your work as 
the buffer and the 
printer handle those 
requests in the back- 
ground at their own 
speed. Pending doc- 
uments wait in the 
print queue we men- 
tioned earlier. 

The alternative to 
spooling is to send the 
document straight to 
the printer. Without 
spooling, you have to 
wait until the print- 
er has finished print- 
ing one document 
before you can is- 
sue the command to 
print another. 

Spooling requires 
that your PC have 
enough free space — 
at least 120MB — on its hard drive. On 
newer systems loaded with gigabytes 
of memory, insufficient space for 
spooling shouldn't be an issue. 
However, if your system is older and 
tight on hard drive space, or if you've 
loaded your PC with programs and 
you rarely delete anything, you could 
encounter a problem. 

The printer won't print spooled doc- 
uments until your system has sufficient 
free space. Empty the Recycle Bin or 



■-' S,:\:-S. mw ■:bc;,jr.:--Y'; ■:■:: j.:r.:;.-.if. :h:.:'r;r.: uirfi.xi -.".[a 
Sin!, pure ;i.;i ril .-:;: ntMx™ ;: -:xwfc; 
(• Start printing 
T Print directly to the 



use the Disk Cleanup tool (in WinXP, 
go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, 
and Disk Cleanup) to free some space. 
This will help your printer do its job 
consistently, not sporadically. 

One of the options on the Advanced 
tab you have if you use spooling is 
to Keep Printed Documents. This 
means after the documented is 
printed, it will stay in the print queue. 
It can then be resubmitted for printing 
from the queue, not from the program 
in which it was created. If a doc- 
ument you already printed is waiting 
in the print line, it's 
easy to see how it 
could be mysteriously 
printed again. 

Deselect the box 
next to Keep Printed 
Documents so you 
won't have any print- 
ing surprises. 



;e Settings 



3 To \ 



J_ 



D_ 



J_ 



Keep An Eye 
On The Queue 



Keep your printer set to Always 
Available, one setting that will 
enable it to print jobs immediately, 



s 



i.'ii.:!-: i'AireM h t:.r<fc <M inj r=;w -n.r'r ;<y«:c ynu will bo 
iVije fo 'nee on |L:j. I hir ;?:;■',: :?A.e 3 ?::■'.-•-. minute; to 
complete. 



Scanning: Compress old files 



L 



Empty the Recycle Bin or use the 
Disk Cleanup tool to free enough 
space on your hard drive to spool 
your print jobs. 



Adjusting the set- 
tings we've discussed 
here should resolve 
most, if not all, 
quirky printer prob- 
lems. If your print- 
er has printed old 
documents out of 
nowhere, keep an 
eye on the print 
queue. Every time 
you print, double- 
click the printer icon 
that should appear 
on your Taskbar 
when you send a job to the printer to 
see if any other job appears in the 
queue. If it does, delete it. 

While not the most efficient way 
to deal with printer problems, at 
least by monitoring the queue, you 
won't be surprised with out-of-the- 
blue print jobs, nor will you waste 
ink and paper. II 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



Smart Computing / September 2006 77 



TECH SUPPORT 



Alphabet Soup 

Reassign Drive Letters In WinXP 




After installing and removing 
drives and other devices, such 
as USB flash drives or remov- 
able hard drives, you may notice that 
your drives are out of order in My 
Computer. Drives are normally dis- 
played alphabetically, so if your CD 
drive is listed as E and your DVD 
drive is listed as D, the DVD drive will 
be listed before the CD drive. If the 
CD drive is the device located in the 
top bay of your computer's tower, it's 
easy to get confused as to which drive 
letter represents which physical drive. 
Especially because our brains will 
likely assume that the top physical 
drive should be the first drive listed in 
My Computer. 

However, drive letter assignments 
are not permanent. Changing the let- 
ters assigned to a particular drive can 
help you remember which drive is 
which. With a little guidance, you'll be 
on your way to reassigning drive let- 
ters using built-in Windows XP tools. 

Do-Si-Do 

Before you can rearrange drives 
on your computer, remember that 
changing the letter associated with a 



drive that houses installed programs 
or system information can be a risky 
proposition. If, for example, you 
change the letter associated with a 
hard drive containing a certain appli- 
cation, you may not be able to run 
that program until you either find a 
way to reassign the path from within 
the program itself or reinstall it and 
fix any other errors that may result. In 
addition, avoid changing the letter as- 
sociated with a CD drive if you have 
an installed program that looks for a 
disc to run a program in that drive. 



To begin reassigning drive letters, 
open the Control Panel. If you are 
using the Classic Start menu with one 
column, click Start, navigate to Set- 
tings, and select Control Panel. If 
you're using Windows XP's two- 
column Start menu, click Start and 
then Control Panel. Once in the 
Control Panel, make sure you are using 
Classic View. 

Once you see the Classic View 
of the Control Panel, double-click 
Administrative Tools. Next, double- 
click the Computer Management icon. 
In the left pane, if it is not already ex- 
panded, expand the Storage tree. 

Once the Storage tree is expanded, 
click the Disk Management branch. 
The top-right half of the Computer 
Management window will then display 
all hard drives installed on your com- 
puter, along with information such as 
the letter assigned to these drives, the 
file format each uses, and free and used 
storage capacity. The lower half of the 
Computer Management window con- 
tains similar information, but in a 
more graphical form, and includes all 
drives, including hard drives, optical 
drives, USB flash drives, and more. 

To change the letter assigned to a 
drive, in the lower portion of the 
Computer Management window, 
right-click the drive you want to 
change. On the ensuing menu, select 
Change Drive Letter And Paths. A di- 
alog box will then open; click the 




& 



j.::es . " '.--.- 

Add Hardware 

j.cr ::■- Remove D -c.g , c.i , -i 

Administrative Tools 

Automatic Updates 

Date and Time 

Z-yy-f- 

Game Controllers 
Internet Options 

Keyboard 
Mail 

Network Connections 

--Z--Z i-z voce- Op;'g--; 
Portable Media Devices 
Power Options 

-'-■'■Hi ■?:":: = -rXeS 

Regional and Language Options 
i-z----e-s ■?-;: Cc've-'-=s 
Scheduled Tasks 
Security Center 
JSMART Board 



*D Sounds and Audio Devices 
a/Speech 

.j>--?':e: _ ve.jnc-? ;e 
$1 System 

^Taskbar and Start Menu 
SiUser Accounts 
V Windows Firewall 
^Wireless Link 
■:; Wireless Network Setup Wizard 



33^ 



The Classic 
View in the 
Control Panel 
lists all 
available 
options on its 
main menu. 



78 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH SUPPORT 



Drive Letters 



To switch from 

Category View to 

Classic View, click 

the link in the left 

column of the 

Control Panel 

called Switch To 

Classic View. 




Change button. In the Change Drive 
Letter Or Path dialog box, select the 
letter you'd like to assign to the drive 
from the drop -down menu. 

Once you've selected the drive letter, 
click OK. You'll see a warning that says, 
"Changing the drive letter of a volume 
might cause programs to no longer run. 
Are you sure you want to change this 
drive letter?" In this warning box, click 
Yes. You may also receive a longer Disk 



Management warning stating that the 
drive is currently in use and that the 
new drive letter will not be reassigned 
until after you restart your computer. 

If you want to swap letters assigned 
to two drives, you'll need to use a tem- 
porary drive letter in the interim. For 
example, if you have a CD drive as- 
signed to letter E and a DVD drive as- 
signed to letter D, and you want to 
swap them, you'll need to first reassign 



the CD drive to a temporary letter, say 
Z. You can then change the DVD 
drive to E because E is now an unused 
letter. Once you've assigned the DVD 
drive to E, you can then reassign the 
CD drive to D. Although this requires 
a few extra steps, it is required to pro- 
tect you from having two drives as- 
signed to the same letter at once. 

After reassigning drive letters, close 
the Computer Management and Ad- 
ministrative Tools windows and restart 
your computer. Once your PC has 
restarted, all drives should appear in the 
new order. If you need to reassign drive 
letters again, repeat these steps. 

Get Organized 

Now that you've successfully reas- 
signed the drive letters, you will no 
longer have to try to remember which 
drive is which. And when you install 
additional hardware, you can feel con- 
fident that you'll be able to organize 
your drives in an appropriate order. II 

by Jennifer Johnson 



Decrypted Error Messages 



During the course of changing drive letters in Windows 
XP, you may encounter these two error messages. Here's 
a closer look at what they mean and how to resolve them. 

Error: The volume volumejabel drivejetter is 
currently in use. 

If you continue, the new drive letter will be assigned; but 
you can still use the old drive letter to access the volume until 
you restart your computer. The old drive letter will not be 
available for assignment until you restart. 

Warning: Changing the drive letter of a volume could cause 
programs to no longer run. 

Do you want to continue? 

Explanation: This message can occur when you try to 
change an existing drive letter for the volumejabel and 
drivejetter mentioned in the error. If any files from that 
drive are in use by you or by other people on the network, 
you'll get this error to warn you of the implications of the 
change. You can resolve this error in two ways. First, you 
can click No in the error message dialog box and then close 
all programs and files that are being used from that drive. 
After you've closed everything, you should be able to 
change the drive letter without encountering further 



errors. The other way to resolve this error is to click Yes, 
continue with the drive letter change, and then restart the 
computer as soon as possible to avoid further confusion. 

Error: The volume volumejabel drivejetter is 
currently in use. 

If you continue, the drive letter will be freed; however, it will 
still be available for use until you restart your computer. 

Warning. Changing the drive letter of a volume could cause 
programs to no longer run. 

Do you want to continue? 

Explanation: This error may occur if you try to remove 
an assigned letter for the volumejabel and drivejetter 
mentioned. Removing a drive letter requires pressing the 
Remove button in the Change Drive Letter And Paths di- 
alog box instead of using the Change button that we dis- 
cussed earlier. This error is displayed to indicate that there 
are files from the drive that are being used by you or 
someone on the network. To resolve the error, click No, 
and quit all programs and close all open files from the 
drive. Then, remove the drive letter again. Alternatively, 
you can click Yes to remove the drive letter the next time 
you restart your computer. I 



Smart Computing / September 2006 79 



TECH SUPPORT 



Examining Errors 



by Jeff Dodd 



Problem: An error message occa- 
sionally appears on a reader's screen. It 
originally displayed only when he tried 
surfing the Web, but now it appears at 
other times, too. He was able to resolve 
the issue when it first occurred by 
restoring his system configuration to 
an earlier date, but after a few days 
of error-free bliss, the message 
reappeared. The reader tried System 
Restore again, but it had no effect. 

Error Message: "RUNTIME 

ERROR. C:\Program FilesUnternet 

Explorer\Iexplore.exe. This 



application has requested the 

Runtime to terminate it an unusual 

way. Please contact the application 

support team for more information." 

Solution: The most likely cause 
of this particular error message is 
the Google Toolbar. This free down- 
loadable utility is known to conflict 
with Internet Explorer. If the Google 
Toolbar is installed, we recommend 
that the reader uninstall it by closing 
IE, opening the Add Or Remove 
Programs utility via the Control 
Panel, selecting Google Toolbar on 



the list of installed programs, and 
clicking the corresponding Remove 
or Change/Remove button. 

If that doesn't work, the reader 
should run a complete system scan 
using updated antivirus and antispy- 
ware utilities. He also should empty 
the browser's Temporary Internet 
Files folder by opening the browser's 
Tools menu, selecting Internet Op- 
tions, and clicking the Delete Files 
button (on the General tab). Finally, 
he should head to update. micro 
soft.com and obtain all High Priority 
updates for his PC. 




Error 



Problem: A reader receives an error 

message when he opens Outlook 

Express. He has devised a temporary 

workaround that allows him to receive 

his email messages, but he must apply 

the workaround each time he starts his 

PC, so he wants a permanent solution. 

Error Message: "The connection to 

the server has failed. Account: 

£ pop.west.cox.net', Server: £ 127. 0.0.1', 

Protocol: POP3, Port:110:110, 

Secure(SSL): No, Socket ERROR: 

10061, Error Number: 

0x800CCCOE." 



Solution: This problem most likely 
occurs because the email client isn't 
configured correctly. The first thing the 
reader should do, therefore, is open 
Outlook Express' Tools menu, select 
the Accounts option, choose the Mail 
tab in the Internet Accounts dialog 
box, highlight his Cox.net email ad- 
dress, and click the Properties button. 

When the account's properties 
dialog box appears on-screen, the 
reader should review all of the infor- 
mation, especially the details listed 
on the Servers tab. Specifically, he 
should verify that the incoming mail 




server is indeed a POP3 (Post Office 
Protocol 3) server and that Outlook 
Express is using the correct POP3 and 
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Proto- 
col) server addresses. On the Advanced 
tab, he should set the Outgoing Mail 
(SMTP) setting to 25 and the In- 
coming Mail (POP3) setting to 110. 
He also should set the Server Timeouts 
setting to 1 minute. When he finishes, 
the reader should click OK to save 
the changes and close the account's 
properties dialog box. He then should 
reboot the PC and try accessing his 
email through Outlook Express again. 

If the issue persists, the problem 
most likely lies with Exchange Server, 
a message server developed by Micro- 
soft. The reader should consult with his 
network administrator to ensure that 
Microsoft Exchange is configured cor- 
rectly. The information Microsoft pre- 
sents at support.microsoft.com/default 
.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;ql91687 may pro- 
vide some assistance. 



80 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH SUPPORT 



Examining Errors 



Problem: After moving a hard 

drive from an older Windows 98 PC 

to a newer Windows XP PC, a reader 

receives error messages whenever he 

opens Microsoft Outlook 2003. 

However, he can close the 

messages by clicking OK. 

Error Message: "C:\Documents and 

Settings\Administrator\Application 

Data\Microsoft\AddIns\C:\Program 

Files\Microsoft Office\Office 

1 1\SBCMSYNC.DLL is not 

a valid Add-In." 





M M 



i_-*3 



Solution: The file in question, 
Sbcmsync.dll, is affiliated with SBCM 
(Small Business Customer Manager), 
an information management tool that 
comes bundled with Microsoft Office. 
It appears that Outlook 2003 is at- 
tempting to access the SBCM but 
can't find it, probably because of 
coding confusion that relates back to 
the user- initiated drive migration. 

The key to resolving this issue 
is eliminating all references to the 
SBCM, which means accessing Out- 
look's Options dialog box. The reader 
can do so by opening the Tools menu, 
clicking Options, choosing the Other 
tab, and selecting Advanced Options. 
He then must click the Add-In Man- 
ager button and deselect any reference 
to SBCM or Outlook Sync in the re- 
sulting dialog box. He should click 
OK, return to the Options dialog box, 
and repeat the process with the COM 
Add-Ins option. 

Next, the reader should replace the 
Extend.dat file because it's involved 
in the deployment of Office add- ins, 



and this error may occur if that file is 
corrupted. Using WinXP's Search 
utility, he should find the file on his 
system, right-click it, click Rename, 
type extend.old, and press ENTER. 
He then should reboot his PC. After 
his system restarts, he can delete the 
Extend.old file. 

Finally, the reader should back up his 
Registry (as a safety precaution in case 
something goes wrong) and remove 
any references to SBCM that remain 
there. He can do so by opening the Start 
menu, selecting Run, typing regedit in 
the Open field, and clicking OK. When 
the Registry Editor opens, the reader 
should locate the HKEY_CURRENT 
_USER\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\ 
OFFICE\OUTLOOK\ADDINS and 
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFT- 
WARE\MICROSOFT\OFFICE\11.0\ 
OUTLOOK\ADDINS keys and delete 
any value or subkey referring to SBCM. 

That ought to take care of the issue. 
The last resort would be to uninstall 
Microsoft Outlook and reinstall it 
from scratch. 



Problem: Every time a reader turns 

on his computer, he receives an error 

message indicating that he must insert 

a disk into the drive. The message 

gives him three options: Cancel, Try 

Again, and Continue. When the 

reader clicks the Cancel or Continue 

button, the message reappears. After 

the reader clicks Cancel or Continue 

for the fourth time, the message goes 

away and WinXP loads. 

Error Message: "Windows - No 

Disk. There is no disk in the drive. 

Please insert a disk into drive. Cancel. 

Try Again. Continue." 



Solution: In the case of this bizarre 
error message, the reader should first 
suspect a malware infection. We rec- 
ommend the reader run a full system 
scan using up-to-date antispyware and 
antivirus software. If that doesn't 
work, the reader should examine the 
antivirus software itself; this error is 
known to occur if an antivirus utility 
is configured to scan removable media 
(such as a floppy diskette or record- 
able disc) during the boot routine. 
The reader should refer to the users 
manual and configure the antivirus 
software so that it doesn't attempt to 
scan removable media during bootup. 



ERROR: Windows - No Disk 

Cancel Try Again Continue 



Another reason the error message 
may appear is if the Windows startup 
routine tries to load a program that ex- 
ists on a removable storage drive. The 
reader can pinpoint such a program by 
opening the Start menu, selecting Run, 
typing msconfig in the Open field, and 
clicking OK. On the General tab of the 
System Configuration Utility, the read- 
er should select the Selective Startup 
option and deselect all of the subop- 
tions (except Use Original BOOT.INI) 
beneath it. He then should click OK 
and reboot. If the PC boots fine, he 
should return to the System Config- 
uration Utility and load one command 
line at a time during subsequent boot- 
ups until the particular cause is iden- 
tified. (For more details, see support 
.microsoft.com/kb/310353.) After 
finding the source, the reader should 
uninstall the problematic program. 



Have questions about an error message you've seen? Send us your message (errormessages@smartcomputing.com), 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 / September 2006 81 



TECH SUPPORT 



Fast Fixes 



Update For Outlook Express 

Problem: Microsoft identified 
several problems in versions of 
Outlook Express 6.0 running on 
WinXP-based computers. You may 
notice problems with the Windows 
Address Book, email template files, 
or mail backup. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 1.2MB update to fix Outlook 
Express. 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 18766 in the Search 
text box and click Go. Click the link 
named Update For Outlook Express 
6.0 On Microsoft Windows XP (KB- 
918766) and then click Download. 
After the transfer is complete, double- 
click the file (WindowsXP-KB9 18766- 
v2-x86-ENU.exe) to install the update. 

www.microsoft.com/downloads 
Photoshop CS2 Update 

Problem: You experience a range 
of difficulties with Adobe Pho- 
toshop CS2. You may encounter 
slow performance, runtime er- 
rors, file compatibility issues, or 
other problems. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 12MB file to fix the problems 
you are having with Adobe Photo- 
shop. To download the file, type 
the URL we listed below in the 
Address field of your browser 
window. After the Adobe site loads, 
point to Downloads and click 
Updates. From the Product drop- 
down menu, select Photoshop - 
Windows and then click Go. In the 
Version CS2 section, locate and 
click the link named Adobe 
Photoshop 9.0.1 (CS2) Update - 
Multi-lingual. Scroll down, click 
Proceed To Download, and then 
click Download Now. Save the file 
to your computer, and once the 
transfer is complete, double-click 



the update (PSCS2_Updater.exe) to 
repair Photoshop. 

www.adobe.com 
Adobe RAW Update 

Problem: Your version of Adobe 
Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw 
won't read RAW images from your 
digital camera. 

Resolution: Download and install 
the Camera RAW to update these 
programs if you use the Canon 30D, 
Olympus EVOLT 330 or SP-320, 
Pentax *ist DL2, or the Samsung 
GX-1S. To download the update, 
type the URL we listed below in the 
Address field of your browser 
window. After the Adobe site loads, 
point to Downloads and click 
Updates. Scroll down to the Camera 
Raw 3.4 Update and click the 
Windows link. Read the instructions 
carefully, as an incorrect installation 
may cause your programs to load 
RAW files incorrectly. Scroll down, 
click Proceed To Download, and 
then click Download Now. After 
you've saved the 1.8MB file to your 
computer, right- click the file (Cam- 
era_Raw_3_4.zip) and click Extract 
All. Use the Compressed (Zipped) 
Folders Extraction Wizard to unzip 
the file, and then copy the file to the 
following folder: Program Files 
\Common Files\Adobe\Plug-Ins\CS2 
\File Formats. Then you can restart 
Bridge or Photoshop. 

www.adobe.com 
Security Update For Windows XP 

Problem: Microsoft found a flaw in 
WinXP that could let a cracker take 
control of your PC. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 477KB update. 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 14798 in the Search text box and 
click Go. Click the link named 
Security Update For Windows 
XP (KB914798). Click Download, 
and after the transfer is complete, 
double-click the file (WindowsXP- 
KB914798-v2-x86-ENU.exe) to be- 
gin the installation process. 

www.microsoft.com/downloads 



Fix Of The Month 



WinXP Network Problems 

Problem: You experience dif- 
ficulties creating a network 
connection when starting a com- 
puter using Windows XP and 
Service Pack 2. 

Resolution: You can download 
and install a 525KB update from 
Microsoft to repair this problem. 
To download the update, type 
the URL we listed below in the 
Address field of your browser 
window. After Microsoft's Down- 
load Center page loads, type 
KB917730 in the Search text 
box and click Go. Click the link 
named Update For Windows 
XP (KB917730), and in the Vali- 
dation Required box, click 
Continue. Follow the instructions 
for validating your copy of 
Windows. In order to complete 
this process, you'll have to install 
a file from the Microsoft site. 
Once you've validated Windows, 
click Download. After the transfer 
is complete, double-click the file 
(WindowsXP-KB917730-x86- 
ENU.exe) to begin the installa- 
tion process. 

www.microsoft.com/downloads 



82 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



/ 



SmartComputing.com 

Problem Solved 




13525 



Smart Computing provides the help you need, when you need it 
m Visit SmartComputing.com for more information or call (oOOj 7 J J - J 809 

mr A Sdn 

*■ PnKlira 



A Sandhills 
Publication 



TECH SUPPORT 



Q«A 



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&a@smartcomputing.com. 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.) 




Online 



QIs there any way that I can return an un- 
wanted email without the recipient get- 
ting my email address? I never sent them an 
email asking for anything. If you can help me, 
I would greatly appreciate it. 

A Most email recipients use an email client 
such as Outlook or Outlook Express to 
retrieve their email from a mail server oper- 
ated by their ISP (Internet service provider). 
Others use a browser to access a Web-based 
email system such as Hotmail or Gmail. 
Either way, an SMTP (Simple Mail Transport 
Protocol) server has accepted the email and 
stored it for your retrieval. 

Users have an arsenal of tools to fight spam, 
and some are more effective than others. 
These include spam filters that work in con- 
junction with your email client to divert spam 
that has been addressed to you into a Junk 
mail folder or to immediately delete the spam. 
These tools can also have some deleterious 
side effects, such as occasionally misidenti- 
fying legitimate email as spam, a result re- 
ferred to as a "false positive." 

One technique that is often touted (espe- 
cially by software vendors) is "bouncing" 
spam back to the spammer. There are many 
software utilities that work in conjunction 
with your email client that can bounce an un- 
wanted email. To understand exactly what 
this means requires a look into how most 
email is handled. 

When someone sends you an email 
(whether legitimate or spam), the email con- 
tains several pieces of information that help 
the email process work smoothly. First the 
email needs to have a destination address; 
without this it obviously wouldn't get sent to 
the proper recipient. In addition, the email 
also needs to have a Reply To or From ad- 
dress. In theory, this identifies who sent the 
email. Emails usually have a Subject line as 
well, though this is optional. 



All of this information is used for both legit- 
imate email and spam. When an email is cre- 
ated in an email client, the information is 
wrapped around the contents of the email. 
The email client then contacts its mail server 
and sends the email on. The mail server then 
queues the email for sending to its destination. 

Next, the email server determines the mail 
server to which it should send the email. It 
contacts this email server and provides it with 
the destination address, the From or sender 
address, and a Reply To address if it's dif- 
ferent from the sender address. The receiving 
email server typically looks to see if the desti- 
nation address is valid — that is, that the user 
actually has an email account on that server. If 
so, it accepts the email and stores it until you 
retrieve it with your email client. 

However, if there is no user account that 
matches the destination address of the email, 
the receiving email server informs the sending 
email server that the email is undeliverable. 
This is commonly referred to as a "bounce." 
Email can bounce for a variety of reasons: The 
user may have switched ISPs, the sender may 
have mistyped the destination address, or there 
may be a problem with the receiving email 
server that prevents it from accepting the email. 

This bounce system typically works well 
when properly implemented and used as in- 
tended. It's part of the SMTP protocol that 
was designed before spam became a serious 
problem for many users. 

Users who receive spam can bounce unso- 
licited email in a similar fashion, but we 
strongly discourage this practice, mainly be- 
cause the collateral damage we spoke of previ- 
ously can be quite high. The reason? The 
addressing information we previously dis- 
cussed can be easily forged, which means that 
you may bounce the email "back" to someone 
who didn't actually send it. 

The main element that is typically forged by 
spammers is the From or Reply To address. 



84 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH SUPPORT 



Q&A 



Spammers don't want email replies; they 
want you to visit the Web site that hired them 
to send spam. Because the SMTP protocol 
doesn't verify the From or Reply To address, 
spammers use anything they feel like. This 
could be your friend's email address, a legiti- 
mate business email address, etc. 

If you bounce spam that has a phony Reply 
To address, the bounce does no good because 
the spammer never sees it. If the Reply To 
address is actually a valid (but forged) one, an 
innocent person will receive an email saying 
that the message they tried to send to you was 
not delivered. And because that person didn't 
send you the email (the spammer did), he be- 
comes confused and irritated. 

If everyone bounced spam, all that would 
happen is that innocent users would receive 
non-delivery notifications for email that 
they never sent. Ironically, this is in itself a 
form of spam. 

Spam isn't an easy problem to solve. Few of 
us like to receive spam, and most of the cost of 
spam is borne by the recipient. Although there 



are thousands of anti-spam tools and tech- 
niques available to fight spam, there are a few 
simple steps that would reduce spam dramati- 
cally if implemented by a majority of users. 

First, stop visiting Web sites advertised 
through spam. The reason spam is so prevalent 
is that we users are making it a cost-effective 
way to advertise. If users stopped clicking the 
links in spam, the spammers would go out of 
business. Second, don't view email in HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) format. Spam- 
mers include code that lets them know if you 
have opened their email, and once they have 
that information, they'll send you more spam. 

Finally, be suspicious of any email you re- 
ceive, even emails that appear to have been 
sent by someone you know. They may be 
forged, and the links included may just be di- 
recting you to a company that has hired a 
spammer to send out spam. Relying on tech- 
nology to solve the spam problem has proven 
ineffective for the last decade. If we use 
common sense, we can make spamming a 
financially unrewarding form of advertising. 




Hardware 



I've read about "suspend," "hibernate," 
and putting my computer to "sleep." All 

of this has made me both confused and tired. 

Can you clear this up for me? 

A All of the terms you've mentioned are 
facets of computer power management, 
specifically of ACPI (Advanced Configuration 
and Power Interface). ACPI is an industry 
standard that helps computer vendors build 
computers that conserve energy. This is par- 
ticularly useful for notebook computers, 
which have limited battery life. 

If your computer is reasonably new, it 
typically operates in one of four states: 
Working, Sleeping, Soft Off, or Mechanical 
Off. Working is the normal mode for a com- 
puter that's being used. Most devices are at 
full power, though some computers can tem- 
porarily switch off a device to conserve power. 

Sleeping is the mode that comprises most 
of the interesting ACPI functions. The first 
important Sleep mode is referred to as 
Standby or Suspend To RAM. When your 



computer enters this mode, it uses its memory 
to store the state of Windows, your applica- 
tions, and any open documents. When you 
bring your computer out of Standby, it re- 
trieves this state information from RAM and 
restores your computer to Working status. 

The next Sleep mode is called Hibernation or 
Suspend To Disk. When your computer enters 
this mode, it stores state information on your 
hard drive (as opposed to your RAM). When 
you bring your computer out of Hibernation, it 
retrieves the state data from your hard drive 
and full use of your computer is restored. 

Why have the two Sleep modes? Standby 
mode requires power to be provided continu- 
ously to your computer's RAM. If your bat- 
tery runs out of juice, you lose all of your state 
information. In contrast, Hibernation allows 
you to completely shut down your computer 
and then restart it without losing track of 
what your computer was doing prior to the 
shutdown. Knowing the difference between 
the two modes can save you a lot of grief 
when using notebook computers. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 85 



TECH SUPPORT 



Q&A 



4u 

Windows 



purcha 



,1 am using Windows XP Home and 
Outlook Express version 6. I recently 
purchased a Dell notebook and want to get my 
email addresses set up in the notebook without 
having to retype all of them. Can you help? 



A You need to transfer the Outlook Ex- 
press Address Book file from your desk- 
top system to your new notebook, and there 
are several ways to accomplish that. 

Before we decide which approach is best for 
you, let's find the file we need to transfer: Your 
choice of a connection mechanism (unless the 
two systems are already networked) depends on 
the size of that file. In WinXP, Outlook Express 
6 files reside at C:\DOCUMENTS AND SET- 
TINGS\[user name]\LOCAL SETTINGS\AP- 
PLICATION DATA\IDENTITIES\{long code 
number in curly brackets }\MICROSOFT\OUT- 
LOOK EXPRESS. Mail has files with a .DBX ex- 
tension; Address Book has a .WAB extension. 

If the two systems are already networked in 
some fashion, transfer the file over the net- 
work to the corresponding folder on your 
notebook. If not, read on. 

If both of your systems have floppy diskette 
drives and if the .WAB is smaller than 1.44MB, 
copy it to a diskette, trot it over to your note- 
book, and then copy it to the same location on 



your notebook. If the file is just a little too 
large to fit on a diskette, consider using an 
archive program (such as WinZip or Stufflt) 
to compress the file, and then decompress it 
on the other side. If the file is huge (up to 
750MB), and your desktop system has a CD 
burner, use it to copy the file, and then trot it 
over to the notebook and proceed as above. 

If both of your systems have access to the 
Internet, mail yourself the file. Too big to mail? 
If you have your own Web site, send the file via 
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to your site from 
your desktop, and then retrieve it from the 
notebook PC. 

No Web site? No problem. For fun, get 
FileZilla (client) and FileZilla Server from 
http://sourceforge.net/projects/filezilla. These 
donationware apps will allow you to set up an 
FTP server on your desktop and FTP client on 
your notebook. Now you can use the Internet 
as your own private network to copy the file. 

One other option to consider: Microsoft pro- 
vides the ability to physically connect two sys- 
tems together, an approach they cleverly call 
Direct Cable Connection. If none of the above 
approaches strikes your fancy, take a look at 
article 814981 in Microsoft's Knowledge Base 
(http://support.microsoft.com), which explains 
how to set up a Direct Cable Connection. 



% 



Hardware 



QMy MS Word 2002, AOL, and other 
programs are unbelievably slow to start 
up, run, and shut down. I've run Defrag three 
times and tried Norton's defrag, also with 
little to no success. I also ran ScanDisk. The 
computer has a FAT32 file system and 63% 
free space. Each time I run Defrag, the pro- 
gram stops and leaves about 8% of the drive 
fragmented. It is a Gateway computer with a 
1.8GHz P4 and 256MB of RAM. I stop all 
running programs. Any suggestions? 

A You don't mention which version of 
Windows you're running, but unless it's 
WinXP (in which case, we'd recommend up- 
grading to at least 512MB of RAM), that's 
most likely not the issue here. 

First, the next time you defragment your 
hard drive, do it in Safe Mode so that there 



aren't any background processes writing to 
the drive while you're trying to defrag it. 

Second, try to think back to a time when 
the slow performance wasn't a factor. Did the 
system slow down all at once, or did it gradu- 
ally become slower? If it happened all at once, 
the culprit is most likely something you added 
to (or removed from) the system — either a 
piece of software that runs all the time (such 
as an antivirus or firewall application) or a 
hardware device with a driver that is always 
present, particularly if the driver is supposed 
to optimize disk drives. 

If the slowdown occurred over time and 
gradually crept up on you, the most likely 
suspect is spyware. During your travels on the 
Internet, often unbeknownst to you when 
you downloaded something else, some soft- 
ware has arrived on your system with the task 



86 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH SUPPORT 



Q&A 



of watching you. It may be relatively benign 
and simply there to make sure you see ads 
tailored to your surfing habits when you're 
online. Or you may have a keystroke logger 
that's hoping to pick up passwords, credit 
card numbers, and other sensitive informa- 
tion it can send to its developer the next time 
you go online. 

Regardless of how benign a piece of spy- 
ware might supposedly be, if you're like most 



folks, you probably want to get rid of it. Here 
are three free, safe antispyware programs and 
the addresses from which you can download 
them: Patrick Kolla's Spybot Search & Destroy 
(donationware from www.safer-networking 
.org), Lavasoft's Ad- Aware SE Personal (free 
edition from www.lavasoft.de/software 
/adaware), or Microsoft's Windows Defender 
(Beta 2, free, from www.microsoft.com/at 
home/security/spyware/software) . 




Microsoft 
Office 



QI have several spreadsheets that refer to 
other worksheets done in Lotus 1-2-3 ver- 
sion 5.0. I am trying to understand how to up- 
date everything to Microsoft Office 2003, 
although I have not yet purchased it. WinXP is 
the operating system. I want the spreadsheets 
and their formulas to convert to Excel and 
function identically. Is this possible? I have gone 
on Microsoft's Web site and asked a question 
two weeks ago. (I guess it is lost in the beyond.) 
While reading content at Microsoft's Know- 
ledge Base, I found reference to a "converter 
pack," but no reference to how to get it. 

A To download and install the Converter 
Pack for Office 2003, visit the Microsoft 
Support site at http://support.microsoft.com 
and search for article ID 212265. But don't be 
surprised if this isn't what you need. The Con- 
verter Pack contains the most up-to-date text 
and image file converters for files not already 
converted automatically by a wide variety of 
current Office products, including Office 97, 
Office 2000, Office XP, and Office 2003. It does 
not contain spreadsheet or database converters. 

Specific converters for spreadsheets and 
database applications are already included as 
part of Excel and Access. Excel has native con- 
verters for Lotus 1-2-3 and knows how to deal 
with .wks, .wkl, .wk3, and .wk4 formats. To 
import a Lotus worksheet into Excel, simply 
select it from the File Open dialog box. 

However, you might want to consider 
linking from a cell in an Excel worksheet to a 
Lotus worksheet instead. (Keep reading.) 

Excel's Help files contain extensive docu- 
mentation on the procedures, but we can give 
you a basic outline of the considerations. 



When you convert a file, you have four basic 
elements to consider: cell contents, cell for- 
mats, spreadsheet formulas, and automation 
macros. Excel will correctly convert cell con- 
tents. Formats will be converted if the associ- 
ated file — .fmt, .fm3, or .all — is stored in the 
same folder as the .wk? file. 

Lotus formulas will be converted, if possible. 
To quote from Excel's Help file, "When you 
open a Lotus 1-2-3 worksheet in Microsoft 
Excel, the Transition formula evaluation 
check box is automatically selected for that 
sheet to ensure that Excel calculates the 
formulas according to the Lotus 1-2-3 rules." 
This checkbox remains selected when you 
save the file and will stay that way until you 
clear it. If it is not possible to convert a for- 
mula, the last value calculated for a cell will 
appear and, says the Help file, "Once you have 
converted a Lotus 1-2-3 file to an Excel work- 
book, you can examine the relationships of 
the cells and formulas within the worksheet 
by using the worksheet audit commands." 

That leaves macros. If you have extensive 
macros in your Lotus spreadsheets, you may 
wish to consider links instead of conversion 
because since Microsoft released Excel 2000, 
Excel hasn't supported Lotus 1-2-3 macros. 

The Links command (on Excel's Edit 
menu) can establish links between cells in a 
Lotus worksheet with cells in an Excel work- 
book. When the data in the Lotus sheet 
changes, the Excel workbook will be automat- 
ically updated; you can open the Lotus work- 
sheet for editing from Excel's Edit menu. 
Consider this approach while running tests to 
evaluate how much work you'd have to do in 
order to convert your Lotus files completely. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 87 



TECH SUPPORT 




requently 



FAQ 




uestions 



Answers to users' most common questions about Vol P 



To use VoIP, 

you need a 

broadband 

Internet 

connection, 

an Internet 

telephone or 

VoIP adapter, 

and a 

subscription 

to a VoIP 

service that can 

receive your 

digitized voice 

data, convert 

it back into 

analog data, 

and make the 

connection to 

your recipient. 



p A ^v What is VoIP, how does it work, 
l/\ v/ and can I use it on my PC? 

VoIP (Voice over IP) allows you to exchange 
telephone conversations and fax transmissions 
across your Ethernet LAN (local- area network) 
rather than over an analog telephone line. To 
use VoIP, you need a broadband Internet 
connection, an Internet telephone or VoIP 
adapter, and a subscription to a VoIP service 
that can receive your digitized voice data, 
convert it back into analog data, and make 
the connection to your recipient. Vonage 
(www.vonage.com) is one well-known VoIP 
service provider; Linksys (www.linksys.com) 
offers telephone-to-VoIP adapters such as the 
PAP2, as well as Internet- ready telephones. In a 
simple configuration, you establish a Vonage 
(or other VoIP provider) account, connect 
your ordinary telephone to the VoIP adapter, 
and then attach the adapter to an available port 
on your hub or broadband router. 

You do not need a PC or any specialized soft- 
ware to host Internet telephone calls using this 
telephone/adapter approach. However, there 
are PC-based Internet telephone products. One 
example is Skype: You install the (free) Skype 
software (www.skype.com) on your PC and at- 
tach a device that resembles a cell phone to a 
USB port. The PC and software do the voice-to- 
data conversions and exchange data across the 
computer's broadband connection. In this case, 
you should ensure that the host PC meets or ex- 
ceeds the recommended system requirements 
for the software and Internet device. 

Keep in mind that, while VoIP sound quality 
is quite good, it can be adversely impacted by a 
lack of bandwidth. If your VoIP sound quality 
is low, stop any downloads or other such net- 
work usage while using your VoIP phone. 
Anything that can slow your network can affect 
your VoIP transmission. 
p A ^v Is VoIP cheaper than a regular 
l/\Vy phone? Do I still need to pay for 
VoIP service if I already pay for Internet access? 



VoIP subscription fees are separate from 
any broadband Internet charges, but VoIP can 
be significantly cheaper than regular telephone 
service. Traditional telephone service can cost 
as much as $50 each month, plus long-dis- 
tance charges and taxes. By contrast, Vonage 
offers unlimited local and long-distance calling 
for a flat fee of $29.99 per month. Services like 
Skype are free when you call another Skype 
user directly through the Internet. 

Be sure to compare your own current tradi- 
tional local and long-distance telephone 
charges against any VoIP subscription fees to 
see exactly how much money you'll save. 
p A /~\ What happens to the VoIP phone 
l/\vy if you lose power? Can I still call 
91 1 or run my home alarm? 

This is where today s VoIP products fall a bit 
short. Remember that VoIP is an Internet- 
based technology, so it's sensitive to power loss 
and ISP problems. For example, your VoIP 
conversation will be interrupted if you lose 
power or if your ISP experiences congestion or 
technical problems. You can certainly use a bat- 
tery backup to keep a VoIP adapter, broadband 
router, and cable modem running temporarily 
during a brief power loss, but extended power 
outages will disable your VoIP calls. 

VoIP also has no physical location as does a 
hardwired telephone, so emergency 911 ser- 
vices cannot locate you unless you provide 
specific 911 location information to your 
VoIP service provider during account cre- 
ation. Remotely monitored fire/burglar alarm 
systems that rely on traditional telephone 
service also cannot use VoIP technology. 

Although temporary interruptions in VoIP 
phone service may not be an issue for most 
users, such potential problems can be pro- 
foundly important to the homeowners, sick, 
or elderly who depend on reliable telephone 
service in the event of emergencies. Users 
should weigh the risks before abandoning 
their traditional telephone service. 



88 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



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 
relevant information 
(such as account numbers 
or screen names for online 
services) and photocopies 
of checks. Include your 
phone number in case we 
need to contact you. 

Letters may be edited 
for length and clarity; 
volume prohibits 
individual replies. 



Write to: 
Action Editor 
P.O. Box 85380 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380 

Or send email to: 

actioneditor@smart 

computing.com 

Or fax us at: 
(402)479-2104 



Virulent Bill Collectors 
& Beta Conflict 




/ paid in full for the purchases I made from Dell and 
have the receipts for the payments I made. 
Nevertheless, every month since August 2005, 1 have 
received statements from Dell Financial Services 
concerning charges that were made on an account 
which I never opened. According to the statements, 
the balance due for this account was as high as 
$19,800. 1 feared that there might be fraudulent ac- 
tivity regarding my identity or unauthorized access 
to my account, so I filed an affidavit with Dell's fraud 
department. In reply, I received an unsigned state- 
ment denying any evidence of fraud. I called and 
wrote repeatedly to Dell Financial Services regarding 
this issue, explaining that I never opened the ac- 
count. In December, however, / received a phone 
message from a Dell Financial Services account 
manager informing me that I owe Dell nothing. Yet, 
the statements continued to show up. I am now 
being harassed by Dell Financial Services. I receive 
up to half a dozen automated phone messages every 
day, throughout the day, demanding payment 
for these purchases. To date, I have always 
paid my bills on time and have never 
had a problem with my credit. 

Christopher Slevin 
Pinckney, Mich. 



We emailed our contact at Dell 
Financial Services to see if he could 
help Christopher clear his good name. 
Our DFS contact quickly replied that closer 
examination of the problem would be necessary, 
but reported that in the meantime, Christopher 
could expect to stop receiving the phone calls 
and mailed statements. According to Dell's rep- 
resentative, tracking down and zeroing out an 
account is an administrative task that requires a 
couple billing cycles to resolve. At this point, 
Dell began talking directly to Christopher about 
his problem. As of our last communication, 
Christopher reported that his next statement 
should finally show that he owes Dell nothing. 



If you think you are the victim of identity 
fraud, or just want to keep tabs on your credit, 
get a free credit check at AnnualCreditReport 
.com (www.annualcreditreport.com). 



/ am having problems with my Symantec Antivirus 
software. I can't seem to get LiveUpdate to work, 
and my virus definitions are too old. Each time I run 
LiveUpdate, I get a message that it is missing a file. I 
tried uninstalling and reinstalling the application to 
no avail. I have spoken repeatedly to Symantec's 
phone support representatives, and they keep in- 
forming me that a senior tech will call me back to 
help me resolve the problem, but no one ever re- 
turns the calls. 

Ellen Pringle 
Newark, Del. 



We sent a message to Symantec in an effort to 
track down Ellen's elusive senior tech and got 
a reply within a week. According to our con- 
tact, Symantec's customer support team called 
Ellen to help her resolve her problem with 
LiveUpdate, and in the process discovered that 
she was running a beta version of Microsoft's 
Windows Live OneCare antivirus and firewall 
protection service. According to our contact, 
the firewall component was blocking Live- 
Update's access to the Internet. Ellen removed 
the Windows Live OneCare application, and 
her LiveUpdate was able to connect. 

Our contact pointed out (and we tend to 
agree) that it's usually not a good idea to run 
more than one antivirus application at a time. 
These low-level applications have access to 
parts of your computer that are typically off 
limits to other applications such as Web 
browsers and word processors. Conflicts be- 
tween two or more low-level apps running si- 
multaneously often result in errors such as the 
one Ellen encountered. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 89 



Tales 



From 



The 



Trenches 



Water Under The (PCI) Bridge 



There I was with a just- repaired system, daz- 
zling new hard drives, and all my precious 
data restored from backup. And there I was, 
blithely ignoring my own no-food-and-drink- 
around-the-computer rules. You probably have the 
same rules and probably follow them about as 
diligently — in other words, not at all. After 
all, we're grown-ups and know how to 
handle a glass of water, right? Um, yeah, 
not so much. One clumsy grasp at the 
mouse later, a wave of destruction 
spread across my new system. Don't 
laugh quite so hard — one sleepy 
morning, it will happen to you. 
When it does, you'll want to know 
what to do when bad spills happen 
to good people. 

The answer partly depends on what you 
spill and where you spill it. Water poses less 
of a problem than coffee or soda, as it doesn't 
have all that other stuff mixed in. Moreover, 
spilling on your keyboard is less disastrous 
than pouring a pint of water down the back of 
your power supply, if only because it's cheaper 
to replace. If you luck out and only drench your 
keyboard or mouse, wipe off or drain 
any excess liquid and let the unit dry 
thoroughly. This will take hours, 
not minutes. If you spilled 
something other than water, 
use cleaning wipes or a cotton 
swab dipped in rubbing al- 
cohol to clean off any vis- 
ible residue. I spilled a full 
cappuccino into my keyboard 
once and, figuring I had little left 
to lose, skeptically followed some advice 
from a friend: If the device isn't operating after a reasonable 
wait, wash the whole thing in rubbing alcohol and let it air 
dry. Much to my amazement, alcohol and typing sometimes 
do mix. I was back in business by afternoon. 

If your computer's case succumbs to drink, you're in dan- 
gerous territory. If there's any chance liquid penetrated the 
cracks or contacted any electrical connections, shut every- 
thing down immediately. I'm not talking about clicking the 
Shut Down option from the Start menu here. Dive under 
your desk and pull the plug. I was slow to react, saving my 
file first and then holding down the power button. Next 
time, I think I'll trade a little data loss for the money spent 
replacing a motherboard, CPU, and hard drives (again). 





After killing the power, open up the case and re- 
move any components that got wet. Again, 
scour anything the spill leaves behind with a 
cleaning wipe or cotton swab. Don't rush the 
drying-out period here. Small amounts of water 
in tiny places can take a couple of days to dry. I 
rushed things (had to get back to work, you 
know) and a few hours later powered up 
only to receive strange crackling noises 
and wisps of smoke rising from my 
brand-new hard drives. So much for 
salvaging the workday. If at any point 
you see smoke or smell burning 
ozone, you can pretty much count on 
purchasing new parts. 
I concluded from the fact that the 
case fans and DVD drive powered up 
but the bootup process wouldn't even 
begin that my power supply was OK but 
my motherboard was fried. And those 
smoke signals from the hard drives were 
unmistakable. In situations such as these, 
your motherboard (the hub of your com- 
puter's electrical activity) is the most 
likely component to die, which means 
you might as well shop to upgrade 
your processor as well. Once again, 
for the second time in as many 
weeks, I was in the market both 
for new computer parts and a 
credit limit increase. 

I don't want to belabor the 
whole ounce of prevention, 
pound of cure thing, but you 
might want to follow my new 
regimen of limiting half-empty coffee 
mug pileups, setting beverages as far away 
from the computer as possible, and neurotically checking all 
screw caps every three minutes or so. But when you in- 
evitably follow my bumbling lead, think fast. And remember 
that crying, "I was warned, but I wouldn't listen" won't put 
the genie — or the ginseng tea — back in the bottle. II 

by Gregory Anderson 



Gregory Anderson is a regular contributor to Smart Computing and 
several other technology publications. He keeps a sharp eye (with the hel\ 
of thick glasses) on computing trends and enjoys working with geeks of at 
stripes — most of the time. Reach Greg with your own stories of personal 
tech support provision atgregory-anderson@smartcomputing.com. 



90 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH SUPPORT . SMARTCOMPUTING.COM 




Do It Yourself! 



It can be difficult to know where to start when dealing 
with computers and technology and the un- 
wanted problems that sometimes come 

with them. For example, your printer is 

on the fritz, and instead of printing one 

page at a time, it decides to gobble up 

three pages at once. Or, your system is 

acting up and now every time you reboot, 

you're met with the lovely Blue Screen Of Death. What do 

you do? Where can you go for help? 

Troubleshoot your way through these computer 

problems and many more with SmartComputing.com's 

Basic Troubleshooting 
Articles. This compre- 
hensive list of articles 
is comprised of topics 
from operating systems 
and software, to spyware, 
security, and privacy. 
Each article starts at 
square one and quick- 
ly helps you through 
all fundamental checks 
and tests. You'll find the 
entire list of articles in 
the Tech Support Center 
at SmartComputing.com 
today! 



Basic Troubleshooting 



Notebook Computers 
BIOS 



Video S Photography 

n r 1'irili it 






Reinstall Windows 
Coping With PC Anxiety 



Softw.ne 






- Hardware 



1 Go to SmartComputing.com and click the Tech Support 
Center link or graphic. 

2 Click the Basic Troubleshooting Articles link. 

3 Search articles by category to find the answers you need. 



From Our Online Dictionary: Registry 




Perhaps not surprisingly, the 

winning word of this year's 

National Spelling Bee, ur- 

sprache (which means 

parent language), doesn't 

make a single appearance on 

SmartComputing.com. That 

said, "language" appears 

about 21,000 times on the 

site overall, and 112 entries 

in our online dictionary have "language" in their titles. 

If you've become known as the 
neighborhood PC-repair guy 
(or gal), help your charges help 
themselves with an article from 
SmartComputing.com. When you 
come across an article you'd like to 
send to several friends, click the 
Email This link in the upper-right 
corner of the page. Enter your 
friends' email addresses into the ap- 
propriate field, separating each one with a comma. It 
doesn't matter if you follow the comma with a space or not. 

We handle an enormous variety of tech sup 
port questions. On a recent shift, we fielded 
emails and calls about printing in AOL, 
adjusting fonts in Outlook, wireless 
networking difficulties, a virulent 
pop-up, the Troj/Raker-C virus, 
and cleaning up the HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) in a 
bed and breakfast Web site. 







A database that contains information about user preferences and 
system configuration in Windows 95 and later. The Registry contains 
information about which devices are attached to the computer and 
which drivers should be used with them. It also keeps track of file as- 
sociations (which programs should be used to open which type of 
files) and user preferences, such as what the monitor resolution and 
Desktop pattern should be. The Registry is contained in the System 



data and User.data files. Changes to the 

Registry are generally made through the 

Control Panel, not by users directly editing 

the Registry. To manually edit the Registry, the Regedit utility can be 

used. Extreme caution is advised when manually editing the Registry 

because errors in it can disable Windows and prevent the machine 

from booting. 



Feeling snarky and wanting to rename your WinXP Recycle Bin "Oscar"? Go to Start and Run, type regedit in the Open 
field, and go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/CLSID/{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}. Change the name Recycle Bin 
to Oscar, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Of course, because this involves editing your Registry, you'll want to back 
up your system (see this month's feature package) and tread carefully. 



Smart Computing / September 2006 91 



Editorial 



License 



Buying Your Next Idiot Box 
Will Take Some Smarts 



Inow live in terror of my television set. Oh, it looks inno- 
cent enough, sitting there on its stand in the living room, 
with its shiny screen staring at me from out of the abyss. 
It's just lurking there, gloating, waiting for me to. . . . Well, I 
don't actually know what it's waiting for, but I know that it's 
after me. 

Back in the day, purchasing a TV was a relatively straight- 
forward process; there simply weren't very many options. 
You could get black & white, or 
(eventually) you could get color. 
You could get small, or you could 
get large. That was about it. They 
were expensive, cranky devices 
that, much like teenagers and coal- 
fired furnaces, sometimes required 
an occasional kick in the right spot 
in order to make them work at all. 
There were no remotes; you actu- 
ally had to (gasp!) get up out of 
your chair and walk all the way 
over to the television in order to 
change the channels. After a couple 
of years, the tuner knob broke, so 
you ended up changing channels 
with a pair of pliers. (In 1957, ac- 
cording to carefully researched figures that I just now made 
up, approximately 27.9% of all pairs of pliers in the United 
States sat atop television sets, functioning mainly as 
makeshift antenna boosters but standing ready to perform at 
a moment's notice as emergency channel- changing devices.) 

Of course, television back then wasn't nearly as sophisti- 
cated as it is now. These days we're used to clean, crisp, 
accurate transmissions, and we take that fidelity for granted. 
For years, I thought that Captain Kangaroo's face was sup- 
posed to be grainy (and, when we finally got a color TV, 
grainy and orange) and that Tom Terrific's voice was just 
naturally fuzzy, especially when he uttered sibilants. (Come 
to think of it, the screen rolled every time Lassie barked, 
too. I always figured that was just part of the show, like 
Timmy falling down a well.) And how was I to know that 
there weren't actually two Dick Clarks interviewing Dion on 
"American Bandstand"? On our old Philco, there were two 
of almost everything, and both images tended to dance and 
shimmer in and out of one another whenever Aunt Laverne 
walked by carrying her metal TV tray. 

I didn't know much in those days; now I know even less. 

For years, I've been giving people advice about computers. 
In countless articles and speeches, I've explained that the 




reason we have so much trouble with computers is not that 
developers are stupid, lazy, or greedy (well, OK, maybe 
greedy). No, the main problem is that we're dealing here with 
an immature, constantly evolving collection of complex tech- 
nologies. Getting those technologies to work together is a 
complicated job; it's almost impossible to make these devices 
perform consistently across millions of installations, each 
with its own idiosyncratic configuration. 

And what did I use as an ex- 
ample of a mature, trouble-free 
technology? Why, television, of 
course. For the past 20 years, TV 
has been a no-brainer: You turn 
it on, and it works. Rarely does 
one have a problem with a televi- 
sion. It's not that it's simple tech- 
nology — it's not. There are some 
very complex things going on in 
that box, but the technology is ma- 
ture and stable enough so that any 
child can operate a television set 
with no trouble at all. 

Well, guess what? Television has 
changed. It's no longer enough 
just to decide whether you want 
small or large. (And you can forget about black & white al- 
together.) No, now there's a whole new TV grammar to 
master: Do I want flat-screen or not? LCD or plasma? 
Projection? Rear or front? HD or HD-ready? Or do I actu- 
ally want a monitor with (or without) a built-in tuner? 
What's "digital" TV, and do I need it? What resolution do I 
want? What is 1080p, anyway? What does "progressive 
scan" mean? What's the correct contrast ratio? Response 
speed? What kind of audio and A/V inputs do I need? Will 
they work with my existing stereo? (Hey, wait! I'm buying a 
television; what the heck does my stereo have to do with it?) 
Yikes. Well, now I know what my TV is gloating about. 
Sooner or later it's going to shuffle off this mortal capacitor, 
and when it does, I'm in big trouble. I guess I'll just have to 
trudge forlornly into Best Buy and hope for the best. Maybe 
I should take my pliers with me. 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 rod-scher@smartcomputing.com. 



92 September 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 





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