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Logitech's Wireless DJ Music System p.17 Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 p.25 


January 2007 Vbl.18 lss.1 $5.99 U.S. $7.99 Canada 

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Plain English Fixes For: 

No Power / Won't Boot / PC Just Beeps / 

Boot Error Message /No Video Display / 

Locks Up /Continuously Reboots 




Everything Old Is New Again 

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■*#■ Suites 

Go Head-To-Head p.22 


Using WinXP's 
Remote Desktop p.29 
Using Disk Cleanup p.31 

Windows Video 

Sort Out Video Formats p.40 

A Learning 

-j** Installing 
Ubuntu Linux p.42 


How To Set Up 
A Server p.37 

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This Month's Cover Story: 


My Computer 

Won't Start 


What To I 

mr PC Will Only Beep At You 

ibling Out Of The Gate 

62 Stop The Starting 

Troubleshoot A Computer That Continually Restarts 

Troubleshoot A Running PC With A Blank Monitor 

A Step-By- Step Approach To Initialize A Display 

News & Notes 

6 Tech News & Notes 

11 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 
straightforward solutions for 
each one. 


17 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. 

22 Productivity Counts 

Historically, Microsoft and 
Corel have been the big dogs in 
the productivity software 
market. In our office suites 
roundup, we compare them to 
low- dollar alternatives. 

25 Software Reviews 

Multimedia: Roxio 

Easy Media Creator 9 25 

Consumer: Chat Checker 
Family Edition 26 

Utilities: PCmover 26 

27 Staff Picks 

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

Enhanced Multimedia Keyboard 

Copyright 2007 by Sandhills Publishing Company. Smart Computing is a 
registered trademark of Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction 
of material appearing in Smart Computing is strictly prohibited without written permission. 
Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 123482788RT0001 Smart Computing USPS 005-665 (ISSN 
1093-4170) is published monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 
West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501 . Subscriber Services: (800) 424- 
7900. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, NE. POSTMASTER: Send address changes 
to Smart Computing, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. 


Windows Tips & Tricks 

29 Windows XP: 

Access Your System With Remote Desktop 

Let your fingers do the walking. 

31 Windows: How To Use Disk Cleanup 

Cut the clutter on your computer's hard drive 
using Windows' built-in utility. 

General Computing 

33 What's New Is Old Again 

What happens when technology meets 
retro styling? We share some inter- 
esting ways to bring out your inner 

36 Readers' Tips 

Our readers share some great ways to 
solve problems and accomplish lots of 
PC-related tasks. 

37 PC Project: Set Up A File Server 

Don't recycle that old PC just yet — put it 
to good use. Follow our step-by-step in- 
structions for how to set up a file server. 

40 Video Formats: Take One 

Don't let the proliferation of Windows video 
formats confuse you. We'll help you keep it all 

42 Learning Linux: Give Linux A Permanent Home 

A new series in which we unravel the mysteries of Linux, 
step-by- step. Here's step #3. 


Tech Support 

Plugged In 

43 Web Tips 

44 Find It Online 

46 Mr. Modem's Desktop: 
Mr. M's Favorite Web 
Sites Of 2006 

In which Mr. Modem, author 
of several books — none of 
which has won the Pulitzer 
Prize — and co-host of the 
weekly "PC Chat" radio 
show, points out some of 
his favorite sites. 

79 What To Do When . . . 

Your ISP Or Email Application 
Blocks A Sender 

Sometimes, email programs or ISPs 
block a known, legitimate sender. 
Learn how to keep the spam out 
and your friends in. 

81 Examining Errors 

83 Fast Fixes 

84 Q&A 

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

88 FAQs 

Answers to users' most common 
questions about printing costs. 

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: 
Avoid Phishing Nets 

Real-world tech support advice from 
PC guru Gregory Anderson. This 
month Greg tells a tale of how not to 
get scammed. 

92 Editorial License 

Our editor gives his somewhat skewed perspective on a variety of technology- 
related issues. This month, he's starving for blogs. 

Quick Studies 

69 Intuit Quicken 2005 Premier 

Move A Data File Between 
Two Computers 

70 Corel Paint Shop Pro 9 

Use The History Palette 

71 Microsoft Excel 2002 

Troubleshooting Forms 

72 Corel WordPerfect 1 1 

Do Overs In WordPerfect 

73 Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Downloads From Microsoft 

74 Quick Tips 


76 Is The Hard Drive Dead? 

Large capacity flash drives have hit the 
market, leaving many wondering if 
old-fashioned hard drives are a thing 
of the past. 

January Web-Only Articles 

Smart Computing subscribers may read the following articles at 


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

Windows Tips & Tricks 

Windows XP: Top Windows XP Shortcut Tips 

Learn how to increase your productivity with a few easy clicks. 

Quick Studies 

Adobe InDesign CS2 

Place Images Intelligently, Part II 

Broderbund Print Shop 20 Deluxe 

Humble Clip Art Still Has Its Place 

Microsoft Word 2002 

Coordinate Text & Pictures 


Customize The Web With 


Take The Web Along With Webaroo 


Read News Feeds In The New Yahoo! Mail 

Adobe Photoshop Elements 

Tag Photos 

Field name: lyear 

Ex^'j ":?-:■! 

'■\ i ■=■? ss 

Se-.= isz 

Set decimal places : p ^ 

I - Show negative numbers in red 

!• Use separators in numbers over 999 

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Microsoft Works 2005 

Roxio PhotoSuite 7 Platinum 

The Album Project 


Stay Ahead Of Virus Checkers 

Microsoft Access 2002 

Use The Find Duplicates Query Wizard 


Use Easy Image Map Alternatives 

Microsoft Works 2005 

Build A Database 

■ " : : : - ■ 


. : . . . ■ . ' '.'■:..' 

would choose City and Region fields here. 

Available fields: Duplicate-value fields: 

SupplierlD _*J 1 
CompanyName 1 


ContactTitle >> 1 

PostalCode —^-1 
Country « | 
Phone t| ' 

Cancel | < Back | Next > | Finish | 

Microsoft Access 2002 


Customer Service 

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


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Smart Computing 

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(For questions about our Web site.) 

(800) 368-8304 

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Email: smartcomputing 

Editorial Staff 
131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 

Subscription Renewals 

(800) 424-7900 


Advertising Staff 

131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 




Editor's Note 

As one who enjoys working on and driving old 
cars, I'm quite familiar with the sickening feeling 
one gets when one climbs into the driver's seat, 
turns the key, and . . . nothing happens. Oh, per- 
haps there's a feeble "click" from the starter so- 
lenoid or a slow grinding noise from the engine, 
but basically you're pretty sure that this old car 
isn't going anywhere until you get out some 
tools and start getting your hands dirty. 

Newer cars are different. These days, we can 
usually just climb in, turn the key, and roar off 
down the street. Rarely do modern cars give us 
trouble. Why should they? After all, we're 
talking about mature technologies — we've 
been building and perfecting automobiles for 
many, many years. Automobile breakdowns still 
occur, but much less often than they did 30 or 
40 years ago because the technology is be- 
coming more foolproof all the time. 

Not so with computers, of course. Here we're 
dealing not only with an immature technology, 
but with a collection of immature technologies, 
most of them constantly changing and all of 
them cobbled together in a Rube Goldberg 
scheme almost guaranteed to cause problems. 

Thus, the digital equivalent of that sinking 
feeling one gets when turning the ignition key to 
no effect. It's happened to all of us: Press the 
button to boot your computer and nothing 
happens— or nothing good, anyway. Perhaps the 
system gets no power at all and just sits there — a 
$1,200 doorstop. Or perhaps it attempts to start, 
hard drive whirring, lights blinking, but to no 
avail. Maybe the PC appears to boot, but then 
continuously reboots: Like Sisyphus forever 
rolling the rock up the hill, the poor machine 
labors, fails, and then begins again. 

The story of Sisyphus is a myth, of course; it's 
unlikely that anyone was ever punished by 
being forced to roll a rock uphill forever. But 
there's nothing mythical — or pleasant— about 
a computer failing to start. It happens all the 
time and it is truly aggravating. Luckily, we're 
here for you. This issue is all about the various 
ways in which a computer might fail to start 
and, much more importantly, what to do when 
it happens to you. 

Rod Scher, Publication Editor 

Now Available On Newsstands . . . 

Computer Power User * December 

Most people think of them as hulking cabinets packed with enterprise- 
grade components, but servers come in all shapes and sizes. Get a line on 
the best configs for several server types in this issue. 

PC Today * Can You Ditch Your Notebook? 

Handheld devices have come a long way since the early PalmPilot days. But 
when it comes to taking your files and programs on the road, can you rely 
solely on a smartphone instead of a notebook computer? This month's PC 
Today has the answers. 

First Glimpse * Digital Camera Buying Guide 

Digital cameras are some of the greatest CE devices on today's market. 
They're powerful, portable, and more affordable than ever. But with so 
many models on Best Buy's shelves, how do you pick the perfect one for 
you and your family? This month's issue will tell you everything you need 
to know before you start snapping. 

Reference Series * Reinstall Your Operating System 

Sometimes the best — or only — way to revive a slow or quirky PC is to rein- 
stall its operating system, but there are different types of installations for 
different sets of circumstances. In this issue we provide installation tips and 
techniques for various versions of Windows, Linux, and Apple's OS. You'll 
also find important maintenance and troubleshooting information that 
may help circumvent the need for reinstalling in the first place. 




System^; 1 | 



Editorial Staff- 
Ronald D. Kobler / Rod Scher / 
Sally Curran / Linne Ourada / 
Corey Russman / Christopher 
Trumble / Calvin Clinchard / Katie 
Sommer / Katie Dolan / Raejean 
Brooks / Michael Sweet / Nate 
Hoppe / Trista Kunce / Sheila Allen 
/Joy Martin / Vince Cogley / 
Ashley Finter / Tara Simmons / 
Leah Houchin / Marty Sems / 
Blaine Flamig / Kylee Dickey /Josh 

Gulick / Andrew Leibman / 

Jennifer Johnson / Nathan Lake 

/ Holly Zach/ Barbara Ball 

/ Patrick Kean 

Web Staff: 

Dorene Krausnick / Laura Curry / 
Kristen Miller /Jessie Danekas 

Subscription Renewals 

Connie Beatty / Charmaine 
Vondra / Miden Ebert / Kathy 
DeCoito / Stephanie Contreras 

Art & Design: 

Lesa Call / Fred Schneider / Carrie 

Benes / Ginger Falldorf / Sonja 

Warner / Aaron Weston / Aaron 

D. Clark / Lori Garris / Jason Codr / 

Andria Cogley / Erin Rodriguez / 

Lindsay Anker 

Sales & Marketing 

Mark Peery / Grant Ossenkop / 
Bob Chester / Marcy Kremer / 
Kelly Richardson / Matt Boiling / 
Eric Cobb /Jen Clausen / Scot 
Banks / Travis Brock / Lindsay 
Albers / Lana Matic / Jeff Ashelford 
/ Brynn Burtwistle / Toni Hinn 

Technology News & Notes 

Compiled by Christian Perry 
Illustrated by Lori Garris 


IBM/Lenovo, Apple Top Computer 
Reliability Study 

When the majority of today's 
computer manufacturers 
constantly tout their own ma- 
chines as the most reliable in the 
industry, it's tough to get a handle 
on which computers actually are 
reliable. Systems often vary widely 
in their hardware and software 
configurations, so even similar 
models from the same manufac- 
turer can easily differ when it 
comes to reliability. 

Yet, trends begin to appear when 
you hear from the trenches of com- 
puter repair. In fact, a recent study 
by RESCUECOM (www.rescuecom 
.com), a national computer repair 
and support company, revealed 
striking differences among some of 
the biggest players in the industry. 

The first annual RESCUECOM 
Computer Reliability Report used 
information based on more than 
20,000 service calls, compared 
it against the market share of 
computer vendors, and developed 
rankings based on that data that 
calculated the percentage differ- 
ence between vendors' overall U.S. 

market share and the percentage of 
calls placed to RESCUECOM re- 
garding computers built by those 
particular vendors. 

Leading the pack was IBM/ 
Lenovo, with a score of 243, 
trailed closely by Apple, with a 
score of 201. From there, the 
scores dropped drastically, with 
HP/Compaq earning a score of 12, 
Dell scoring 4, Gateway scoring 
-12, and other vendors scoring a 
combined -16. 

"Whether it's due to hardware 
quality or vendor customer sup- 
port, clearly IBM/Lenovo and 
Apple are well ahead of their ri- 
vals when it comes to reliability," 
said David A. Milman, founder 
and CEO of RESCUECOM, in 
a release. 

In the report, RESCUECOM 
notes that despite the scores, the 
reliability of HP/Compaq, Dell, 
and Gateway are nonetheless solid, 
and calls to the RESCUECOM 
call center about HP/Compaq and 
Dell "were less likely to have 
been placed than their market 

share would indicate." The repair 
company also recommends sticking 
with "the names you know," be- 
cause the reliability score for less 
popular vendors (those in the 
"Others" category) was much lower 
than the scores for some of the 
other major brands. 

Although the study gives an 
indication of reliability from a 
third-party repair perspective, it 
doesn't take into consideration 
the number of users who rely on 
the vendors' warranty services or 
other vendor-specific repair pro- 
grams for issues with their com- 
puters. For example, if Apple 
customers are primarily con- 
tacting Apple to handle their 
computer problems, it's likely 
those customers wouldn't also 
contact a third-party service such 
as RESCUECOM. Further, users 
of computers with a heavy enter- 
prise presence — such as those 
manufactured by IBM/Lenovo — 
could be more likely to rely on in- 
house support than a third-party 
repair service. I 

Manufacturer *U.S. Computer Market Share 

(percentage of computers sold) 

**RESCUECOM Repair Share 
(percentage of calls to 1-800-RESCUE7) 

Reliability Score*' 






; 4.02% 



















* Source: Gartner- Average of Q2 U.S. Computer Vendor Market Share data from 2003 to 2006. 
'* Source: RESCUECOM- Data based on more than 20,000 calls into 1-800-RESCUE7 in Q2 2006. 
<** p ercenta g e difference between U.S. market share and RESCUECOM repair share. 

6 January 2007 / 



Will Your Data Last A Lifetime? 

Although many of us once expected CDs 
to last a lifetime, the bitter truth 
about the media surfaced only a few 
years after its emergence, when 
complaints started pouring in 
about the fragility of the discs. 
Whether due to rough han- 
dling, prolonged exposure to 
elements, or poor dye quality, 
we now know that CDs pro- 
vide no guarantee they'll 
keep your data safe even five 
years from now. 

But as we move toward the 
next generation of optical 
media, we're again hearing 
promises that discs could last 
a lifetime. This time, it's Blu-ray, 
with Panasonic ( 
recently announcing that it has devel 
oped a four-layer Blu-ray Disc that can last 

100 years. This innovation comes thanks to 
the use of Te-O-Pd, a tellurium sub- 
oxide palladium-doped phase-change 
recording film, which allows for 
high transmittance and ulti- 
mately multiple layers. 

While this potential life span 
sounds impressive, the ques- 
tion remains whether Blu-ray 
drives will actually exist long 
into the future. According to 
the Blu-ray Disc Association 
( itself, 
the format is expected to "stay 
relevant" for 10 to 15 years, 
making a 100-year life span like- 
ly irrelevant. However, if Blu-ray 
Discs prove sturdy even over 10 or 
15 years, they would provide a much 
more reliable storage format than pre- 
vious optical formats. I 


Consumers Not Likely To Gloss Over LCDs 

A relatively recent trend among note- 
book manufacturers is the inclusion 
of glossy screens, which look fantastic 
in the right lighting conditions but 
can deliver annoying glare in not 
so-right conditions. Could the 
antiglare (or matte) screen be on 
its way out? Not if consumers 
have a say in the matter, ac- 
cording to a recent online poll 
conducted by Lenovo (www 

When asked whether they'd 
prefer an antiglare or glossy 
screen, an overwhelming 86% of 
respondents indicated they pre- 
ferred antiglare screens, while 8% pre 
ferred glossy screens, and 5% were 

According to Lenovo blogger David Hill, 
glossy screens are "aimed at the con- 
sumer who seeks a degree of sharp- 
ness in their display for viewing 
movies, working with images, and 
who is attracted to a sharp and 
shiny design experience." On 
the other hand, he explains, de- 
tractors note that glossy screens 
also have downsides, including 
light reflectivity and a propen- 
sity for displaying fingerprints. 
Although glossy screens do 
exhibit more glare, particularly 
when overhead or side lighting is 
present, proponents claim that the 
screens provide much higher contrast, 
more accurate and vibrant colors, and 
better sharpness than antiglare screens. I 

Smart Computing / January 2007 7 



New Keyboard Senses Your Presence 

When it comes to wireless peripherals, mice 
tend to receive the lion's share of nifty 
new technologies. But the innovation 
scale could soon tip in the keyboard's 
favor, beginning with Microsoft's 
new Wireless Entertainment Desk- 
top 8000. 

Billed as the "first-ever recharge- 
able mouse and backlit keyboard 
solution," this Bluetooth combo 
features a charging hub that lets 
users connect both the mouse and 
keyboard in one spot. And while 
this mouse and keyboard feature a 
bevy of features we'd expect in any 
respectable input combo, the key- 
board integrates some particularly inter 
esting tools. 

Several technologies from Synaptics 
(, a developer of interface 
solutions for mobile computing, are included in the 8000 

keyboard. The company's capacitive presence detec- 
tion senses when the user approaches the key- 
board, senses when the user leaves, and 
adjusts standby and active settings 
accordingly. Also included from 
Synaptics is LightTouch, which 
delivers 17 illuminated buttons 
that provide quick access to ap- 
plications and function keys. 
Synaptics also contributed to the 
combo's mouse with its Nav- 
Point technology, which lets 
users toggle between navigation 
modes, including 2D cursor con- 
trol and scroll mode. 
"The Microsoft Wireless Enter- 
tainment Desktop keyboards exem- 
plify how the application of Synaptics' 
core capacitive technology can offer new and 
compelling experiences in the digital home," said 
Synaptics General Manager Tom Tiernan. I 


Samsung Shrinks DRAM Process To Boost Performance, Decrease Power 

CPU manufacturers tend to garner most of the atten- 
tion in the chip world, but memory manufacturers are 
diligently working to advance their own products. A par- 
ticularly notable innovation was recently announced by 
Samsung Electronics (, which devel- 
oped the first DDR2 DRAM (double-data-rate, second- 
generation dynamic RAM) chips using a 50-nanometer 
manufacturing process. 

Samsung's new 1GB DRAM chip features a 3D transistor 
design and multilayered dielectric technology, which the 
company says will greatly increase performance and data 
storage capabilities. The 3D transistor helps to reduce 
power consumption and boost performance by optimizing 
electron speed. 

According to Samsung, as the memory circuit shrinks, it 
becomes more difficult to "secure and sustain sufficient vol- 
umes of electrons." However, the dielectric layer allows the 
chip to sustain higher electron volumes, in turn allowing 
for more storage capacity and better reliability. 

The company's 50nm DRAM process can work in tandem 
with Samsung's proprietary RCAT (Recess Channel Array 
Transistor) technology, a 3D technology that doubles the re- 
fresh term of DRAM and allows higher scalability, regardless 
of chip size. That technology could also prove valuable for 
circuitry when manufacturing processes extend below 50nm. 

Mass production for the chips, which could find homes 
in both graphics and mobile DRAM, is expected to begin 
in 2008. I 

New DDR2 DRAM (double-data-rate, second-generation dynamic 
RAM) chips from Samsung are the first to use a 
50-nanometer manufacturing 
process and 
boast improved 
5 fl performance and 

reduced power 

8 January 2007 / 



Patients Want Doctors To Go Online 

Although the medical profession has become more on- 
line-friendly, there's plenty of room for improve- 
ment, according to a recent poll by Harris Interactive 
( and The Wall Street Journal 

When asked whether access to electronic medical records 
would influence their choice of physicians, 54% of patients 
said that it would. Even more influential is 
email, with 62% of respondents indicating the 
ability of a physician to email them or family 
members would influence their decision to 
choose a practitioner. 

An overwhelming 77% of respondents indi- 
cated they'd like email reminders from doctors 
when they're due for a visit or other medical care, 
while 75% would like the ability to schedule a 
doctor's visit via the Internet. Similarly, 74% 
would like the ability to communicate via email 
directly with their doctor; 67% would like to re- 
ceive the results of diagnostic tests via email; and 
57% would like a home monitoring device that 
can send medical information to the doctor's of- 
fice via email or telephone. 

When asked if these technologies were cur- 
rently available from their doctors or hospitals and 
whether they were using them, nearly three-quarters 
of respondents indicated the technologies were not 

available. Most of the other respondents indicated they 
weren't sure if the technologies were available. 

Although many health facilities don't provide online 
amenities, other health care providers are now letting patients 
make appointments, refill prescriptions, and perform other 
health-related tasks online. I 


Care- Physician Services 

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is kept confidential. For rnon 
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What's New at 
Hampton Health 

Get the latest 
HarnptonHealth news 

Insurance Info 


ation about 

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we participate 

While many health facilities don't provide online amenities, others 
now allow patients to make appointments, request referrals, refill 
prescriptions, and perform other activities online. 


Why won't my computer recognize 
my SATA hard drive? 

If you install a SATA (Serial 
ATA) hard drive and the drive 
doesn't appear on the BIOS (Basic 
Input/Output System) boot screen 
(or in Windows), try resetting your 
BIOS to its default settings. If you're 
not sure how to accomplish this, 
check your motherboard manual 
for instructions. 

Why does my LCD constantly turn 
on and off? 

If your LCD can't decide whether 
it wants to stay on or off (even 

though you want it on), there could 
be a problem with the power cord. 
Try replacing the cord (if it's re- 
placeable). If the problem persists, 
try taping down the power button. 
If that does the trick, leave the 
button taped and use a power strip 
to turn the monitor on and off un- 
til you can get it repaired by the 
manufacturer or an authorized 
repair facility. 

My rechargeable wireless mouse 
loses its charge too quickly. 

If the batteries are replaceable, re- 
place them. Also, try cleaning the 

contacts on both the mouse and the 
charging cradle using a computer 
contact cleaner. As a last resort, you 
can try cleaning the contacts by lightly 
rubbing them with a pencil eraser. 

My newly built PC shuts down 
during the boot sequence. 

A common mistake when building 
a new PC is not fully fastening the 
CPU's heatsink assembly. Make sure 
the heatsink is fully connected ac- 
cording to the manufacturer's in- 
structions, because if it isn't, the PC 
might automatically shut down to 
prevent heat damage. I 

Smart Computing / January 2007 9 



Mobile Web More Popular Across The Atlantic 

Chances are decent that you own a 
mobile device that can connect to 
the Web. But the chances that you ac- 
tually use it are slim, according to a re- 
cent study by comScore Networks 
(; though, that's 
not the case elsewhere in the world, 
where mobile Web use outpaces that 
in the United States. 

The firm's Mobile Tracking Study 
analyzed how consumers across six 
countries access Internet content from 
their mobile phones. The firm discov- 
ered that 29% of European Internet 
users regularly access the Web from 
their mobile phones. Germany and 
Italy have the highest percentages of 
online users accessing the Web from 
their mobile phones, at 34% for each 
country, followed by France at 28%, 
Spain at 26%, and the United Kingdom 
at 24%. The United States had the 
lowest percentage in the study, at 19%. 

Further, the study found that men 
are somewhat more likely to use their 
mobile phones to access the Web than 
women. While Internet penetration is 
split evenly between men and women 
across all six countries studied, 55% of 
people using mobile phones to access 
the Web are male. 

The study examined phone brands 
used to access the Web and found that 
in the United States, Motorola (www leads the way at 
26%, followed by Nokia ( 
.com) at 17%, Samsung at 10%, Sony 
Ericsson ( at 

6%, and other manufacturers com- 
bined for 41%. However, among all 
combined countries studied, Nokia 
leads the way. In Italy, 50% of people 
accessing the mobile Web use Nokia 
phones, while 39% of people use 
Nokia phones for the task in Spain and 
the United Kingdom. 

Mobile Web surfers most often 
visit online portals, such as Google 
(, Yahoo! (mobile, and MSN (mobile. msn 
.com), according to the study. In the 
United States, a whopping 74% of 
mobile Web surfers most often use 
online portals, while only 5% use op- 
erator portals. The numbers are less 
drastic in European countries, where 
mobile Web users most regularly visit 
online portals but are also apt to use 
operator portals, specific mobile sites, 
commerce sites, and news sites. 

"Three-quarters of American mo- 
bile Web surfers access content from 
the leading online portals such as 
Google, Yahoo!, and MSN, compared 
to only 30% of Europeans," said Bob 
Ivins, managing director of com- 
Score Europe. "In Europe, the mo- 
bile Internet appears to mirror the 
dynamics of the fixed Internet. 
Google remains strong but the other 
U.S. -based portals achieve much 
lower penetration, facing stiff 
competition from local com- 
petitors — in this case the mo- 
bile providers — who have the 
structural advantage of a degree 

of control over the access point and 
interface from the mobile phone." I 

Even though your 
phone likely has 
mobile Web 
capability, you're 
probably not 
using it, according 
to a study that 
examined the 
activity in the 
United States 
and Europe. 


"We did have active development. 
The question is whether it was enough." 

-Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's general manager for Internet Explorer, comments on the company's efforts to release a 
new version of IE. Microsoft's recent release of IE7 comes amid declining market share as competitors, 

such as Mozilla Firefox, enjoy increased popularity. 

Source: AP 

10 January 2007 / 


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. 

Ql need to edit the Registry, and I know how important it 
is to make a backup of the Registry first. How can I 
create a backup? 

Alt's relatively easy to make a backup of the Windows 
Registry. First, click the Start menu and click Run. 

If you're using Windows 2000/XP, type regedit in the 
Open field and click the OK button. This will open the 
Registry Editor utility. Next, you'll need to export a backup 
copy of the Registry. To do this, click the File menu and 
click Export. Browse to the location to which you want to 
save the backup file and click to highlight it. Make sure that 
the All radio button is selected under Export Range. Then 
type a name for the backup file in the File Name field. Leave 
the file type set as Registration Files (*.reg) and click the 
Save button. If you need to restore the Registry from this 
backup at a later time, launch the Registry Editor by 
clicking Start and Run, typing regedit in the Open field, and 
clicking the OK button. Click the File menu and then click 
Import. Browse to the backup file you exported and 
double- click to import it. 

If you're using Windows 98/Me, type scanregw in the 
Open field and click OK. A dialog box will prompt you to 
back up the Registry. Click Yes to confirm that you want to 
create a backup copy. When you see the message Backup 
Complete, click OK. You can find the backup of the 
Registry in C:\WINDOWS\SYSBCKUP. If you don't see 
this folder or the files within it, click the View menu and 

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It's fairly simple 
to make a backup 
of the Registry 
using the Registry 
Editor application. 

then click Options. Click the View tab, select Show All Files, 
and click OK. The Registry backup file has a .CAB (cabinet) 
extension. The file's name starts with "Rb" and is followed 
by a multiple-digit number. If you need to restore the 
Registry later, double-click the CAB file that is your 
Registry backup. Then select all of the files and drag them 
to C:\WINDOWS to replace the damaged files. 

QWhen I click a link in an email message, nothing hap- 
pens. The corresponding Web pages used to load in 
Internet Explorer when I clicked such links. Is there a way to 
once again make emailed links load when I click them? 

A There are a few steps you can take to resolve this 
problem. Start with the simplest. Make sure that a file 
association is declared for HTML (Hypertext Markup 
Language) files. To do this, right-click the Start menu and 
click Explore. In the resulting window, open the Tools 
menu and select Folder Options. In the Folder Options di- 
alog box, click the File Types tab. Wait for the Registered 
File Types list to load and then scroll through the list until 
you find the extension HTM. Click to select it. Under the 
Details For C HTM' Extension section, make sure it says 
Opens With: Internet Explorer. If it doesn't, click the 
Change button. If you see Internet Explorer in the list of 
Programs, double-click to select it. If Internet Explorer is 
not listed, click the Browse button. You should find IE at 
PLORE.EXE. After you've double-clicked Iexplore.exe, click 
the OK button to exit the Open With window. You may 
also need to change the file association for the extension 
HTML to IE. To do so, select HTML from the Registered 
File Types list and then repeat the steps you took to change 
the file association for HTM files. When you're finished 

changing file associations, 


HTML editor 



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If Web pages don't load when 
you click links in email messages, 
make sure the Internet Explorer 
Should Check To See Whether It 
Is The Default Browser checkbox is 
selected. You can find this in the 
Tools menu by clicking Internet 
Options and selecting the 
Programs tab. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 11 


click the OK button. Try clicking a link in an email message 
to see if this fixed the problem. 

If the link still doesn't work, check IE's configurations. To 
do this, launch IE. Click the Tools menu, Internet Options, 
and the Programs tab. At the bottom of the Internet Options 
dialog box, make sure that the Internet Explorer Should 
Check To See Whether It Is The Default Browser checkbox 
is selected and then click OK. Click File and Close and be 
sure to close any other IE windows that are open. Launch 
your email application and try to click a link in an email 
message again. Most of the time, these steps will resolve the 
problem. If not, you will need to continue troubleshooting. 

You may also need to check the security settings for the 
program that you use to read your email. Some programs 
let you designate whether you can or cannot click links in 
email messages. Explore the security settings for your soft- 
ware or check the program's documentation to see if there 
is a setting to disable or enable HTML links in messages. 

The next steps you'll need to take involve the Registry, 
which is a somewhat risky place to be working. You should 
create a backup of the Registry before you proceed. (See the 
previous question in this article for instructions for backing 
up the Registry.) 

Next, click the Start menu and click Run. In the Open 
field, type regsvr32 urlmon.dll. Click OK. Restart your com- 
puter and try to click a link in an email message. If it still 
doesn't work, click the Start menu and click Run. Type 
regsvr32 shdocvw.dll in the Open field, click OK, restart your 
computer, and try clicking a link in an email message again. 

If links still don't open when you click them, you'll need 
to repeat this process of clicking Start and Run, typing a 
string in the Open field, clicking OK, and restarting your 
computer until you are able to open links in email messages 
again. The character strings you should type in the Open 
field include regsvr32 msjava.dll, regsvr32 actxprxy.dll, 
regsvr32 oleaut32.dll, regsvr32 mshtml.dll, regsvr32 
browseui.dll, and regsrv32 shell32.dll. Entering one of these 
items in the Open field and restarting the computer will 
usually resolve problems opening links in email messages. 

Ql can't edit one of my Microsoft Excel workbooks. When 
I try to save the file, a dialog box informs me that the file 
is read-only and locked for editing by another user. However, 
there are no other users on my system or network. How can I 
unlock this document so that I can edit it again? 

A Often, the "locked for editing" error message appears 
after Excel failed to shut down successfully. This may 
be because you didn't shut your computer down properly, 
but it may also have been a simple error that occurred when 
Excel was shutting down. The simplest way to solve this 
problem is usually to restart your computer. 

If you've made changes to the file that you don't want to 
lose, you have two options. First, you can click File and Save 

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When you can't save an Excel 
document because an error message 
tells you that the file is locked for 
editing by another user, you can 
often correct the problem by clicking 
Tools, Share Workbook, and selecting 
the Allow Changes By More Than One 
User At The Same Time checkbox. 

As and save the file with a dif- 
ferent name. You may then 
edit and save the renamed file. The second option is to click 
Excel's Tools menu and select Share Workbook. In the re- 
sulting Share Workbook dialog box, make sure that the 
Editing tab is selected. Select the Allow Changes By More 
Than One User At The Same Time checkbox and then click 
the OK button. Occasionally, this fix won't work, but most 
of the time, you'll be able to edit and save the file after fol- 
lowing these steps. 

Once you've successfully saved the file, click File and Exit 
and then restart your computer. If a dialog box appears and 
states that Windows cannot shut down because Excel is not 
responding, click Yes to confirm that it is OK for Windows 
to force the program to quit. 

After your computer restarts, if you changed Excel's set- 
tings to allow more than one user to edit the file at the same 
time, you'll need to change the settings back to the way that 
they were before to protect your system and files. To do this, 
open your Excel document. Click the Tools menu and select 
Share Workbook. Deselect the Allow Changes By More Than 
One User At The Same Time checkbox and click OK. II 

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 

January 2006: 
February 2006: 
March 2006: 
April 2006: 
May 2006: 
June 2006: 
July 2006: 
August 2006: 
September 2006: 
October 2006: 
November 2006: 
December 2006: 

Troubleshoot! Solve Software Problems 

What's Slowing Down Your PC? 

Reinstall Your Operating System 

Protect Yourself Against Viruses & Spyware 

Vista vs. XP 

How To Restore Your PC 

Repair & Speed Up Your System 

Fix & Avoid Photo Problems 

Clean Up Your Computer 

Uninstall Stubborn Software 

Easy Answers To Your Printing Questions 

Make Your PC A Media Center 

& Holiday Buyers' Guide 

12 January 2007 / 



lilt •^. r0 >»«n ! . t , 

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Protect your Microsoft Outlook files — 
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the best of both worlds: the ease and 
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and the ability to make free Skype calls. 
Use your ordinary telephone for reg- 
ular (land-line) calls and for making 
Skype calls with your computer. Just 
connect the Wizard to your computer 
and plug your analog phone into the 
device. If you want to use the same 
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nect the Wizard to the telephone jack 
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of the Internet Phone Wizard by 
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• Easy to connect, simple to use 

• Continue using your analog phone 
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• Make free Internet telephone calls 
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• It's like getting a second telephone 
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It's simple: To make a call, just pick 
up the phone and dial the number of 

the Skype user you wish to call. When 
you receive a Skype call, your regular 
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Visioneer OneTouch 7300 USB Scanner | MSRP: $69.99 | 

Visioneer OneTouch 7300 USB Scanner 

The OneTouch 7300 USB is the 
thinnest, most portable flatbed scanner 
you'll find, but it's packed with features 
usually found only in larger scanners: 

1200x1200 dpi optical 

48-bit internal color 

USB bus powered 

Hinged lid for 3D & book scans 

Easy to set up and use 

Just press a OneTouch button to 
scan and send an image to the destina- 
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settings give perfect results on 
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you wish. 

The OneTouch 7300 USB's special 
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books and magazines, as well as 3D 
objects. No power supply cable is 
needed. Just connect the USB cable to 
your PC and it functions as the scan- 
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tivity and power in one cable. Fewer 
cables, less hassle, and fewer things to 
carry around. 

The Visioneer OneTouch 7300 USB 
comes complete with ScanSoft's 
PaperPort with built-in OCR and 
ArcSoft Photolmpression. You have 
everything you need to accomplish 
most home and small office tasks, 
from image editing to OCR (optical 
character recognition), and from or- 
ganizing files to locating documents. 

V visioneer. 


The Great Portable 
Media Player Debate 

Blaine Flamig 

Send your comments to 

80GB Picture Porter Elite 


Digital Foci 


Should Life Be This Enjoyable! 

You'd think after nearly a decade of writing 
about and working with technology, I'd 
sing its praises up and down, but I can't com- 
pletely. My tech life is torn into two con- 
flicting identities: geek and purist. Because of 
this, I can't be a full-pledged member of the 
geek fraternity, only a frequent visitor. 

Most of my office colleagues are geeks, 
probably because the majority is younger 
than me and grew up with technology 
rooted in their everyday lives. They seem- 
ingly live, breathe, and adapt to modern 
times easily. I don't. As cool as their side of 
the fence looks, I'm more comfortable over 
here where we hypocrites and flip-floppers 
tout the technology we like but scorn the 
stuff we consider unnecessary. 
For example, for safety reasons, 
I love that my wife and son 
own cell phones. I don't have 
one myself, though, and prob- 
ably never will because the little 
purist sitting on my shoulder 
says cell phones are sinisterly 
intrusive and reek of disrespect. 
I do own an MP3 player, but 
the little purist won't let me 
transfer my albums and cas- 
settes to digital files while 
there's still a record and cassette player in 

my house. I could go on all day 

After much contemplation, I've chalked 
my conflicting convictions up to having 
Charlie Brown's Disease. I'm wishy-washy. 
Where some people say, "Love it or leave it," 
I say, "Love it but leave it alone." Call me old 
school, sentimental, or just irrational, but 
some ideals I can't budge from, even though 
it would probably make my life more enjoy- 
able. The little geek loves that I can pause live 
TV; the little purist makes me feel weird 
about skipping the commercials. 

Digital Foci's 80GB Picture Porter Elite, a 
very versatile portable media player, is one of 

those products I can't decide if I should love 
and use or love but keep my distance from. 
After using the player for several weeks, I'm 
certain that I love everything it can do, which 
is a lot. Conversely, I'm not sure anyone de- 
serves to have a device that can literally keep 
you entertained all day, every day. Really, 
should life be this enjoyable? 

The Picture Porter Elite lets you watch up 
to four hours of video on its 3. 6 -inch color 
screen. It can also display photos (with pan, 
zoom, and slideshow functions); act as an ex- 
ternal hard drive; print photos from compat- 
ible printers (bypassing a computer); play 12 
hours of continuous MP3, WMA, AAC, and 
WAV audio; broadcast FM radio; record 
MPEG-4 video from a TV or other source; 
play games; and connect to projectors. 

Beyond all that, you can also record voice 
messages using the Elite's built-in micro- 
phone and listen to audio via its external 
speaker (which sounds decent enough, other 
than the volume being a bit weak). Beyond, 
beyond all that, the Elite is easy to use; is pa- 
perback-sized (although a bit hefty at 11 
ounces); and comes with plenty of useful ac- 
cessories, including earphones, AC adapter, 
rechargeable Li- Ion battery, wrist wrap, car- 
rying case, remote control, USB cable, and 
audio and video RCA cables. Further, it 
works with most Windows, Mac, and Linux 
versions, and its very handy built-in 
memory card reader supports the major for- 
mats, including Microdrive, Memory Stick, 
CompactFlash, Secure Digital, and MMC. 
It's hard to imagine needing more than 
80GB of portable storage, but a 100GB ver- 
sion is also available, as is a 40GB model. 

Individually, I love each of the Elite's func- 
tions. I mean, come on: music, movies, 
games, photos I can show off wherever I 
go. . . . Collectively, though, there's some- 
thing dangerous about this device. Just in the 
short time I've used it, feelings of neglect and 
selfishness have drenched me. That is, I've 
neglected my other responsibilities and self- 
ishly don't want to give the thing back. Even 
coughing up the sizeable $469 asking price 
doesn't seem insurmountable. The little geek 
on my shoulder keeps saying, "Come on, kid, 
you deserve it." Still, the stupid, little purist 
on my other shoulder keeps countering, 
"You're going soft, man. What's next? An 
HDTV?" Perish the thought. II 

Smart Computing / January 2007 17 

TV On The Trail 

Tape It & Take It 

Joshua Gulick 

Send your comments to 

As geeky as I am, I'm often flustered by 
everyday electronics that don't seem to 
confuse anyone else: I waffle between the 
Credit and Debit options when I swipe my 
bank card at the cash register, and I've inher- 
ited my father's inability to speak coherently 
at drive-thrus. My DVD player occasionally 
insists that I speak Spanish. 

So I take some comfort in knowing that 
I'm not alone when it comes to setting the 
VCR's record timer. I was excited to learn 
about RoverTv, an easy-to-use device that 
can record shows from my TV and play 
them back on a built-in screen. 


$349 (Wide Screen) 

Doghouse Electronics 

(205) 803-3026 

TV In My Pocket 

The RoverTv is a portable 
media player. Recording TV 
shows is a snap. Thanks to the 
simple, easy- to -navigate menus, 
you can set the RoverTv's clock 
and its timer. The device re- 
cords the show while you're 
gone so you can watch it on the 
morning train. The sound (via 
included headphones that have 
a built-in volume control) is great. The im- 
ages are bright and clear, and the video isn't 
choppy: Watching TV on it is a pleasure. 

As with other media players, the RoverTv 
has an operating system that lets you change 
the device's settings and browse the media 
on the unit. You can play common music 
file types, such as MP3 and WMA, watch 
videos in the popular MP4 format, and 
record TV shows and FM radio. You can 
also display photos. 

Not An i Pod 

As with any portable media player, the 
RoverTv finds itself compared to the iPod. 
But it doesn't really compete with the iPod. 
Sure, it can play music and display photos, 
but its claim to fame is TV recording, 
whereas the iPod owes a great deal of its 

popularity to iTunes. You can buy TV 
shows from iTunes, but the iPod doesn't 
have built-in TV recording capabilities. 

Another key difference is the way each 
stores content. Apple designed the iPod to 
store libraries of music and video content. 
The company uses hard drives, which are 
much more complex and prone to damage 
than flash memory, to give its video iPods 
between 30 and 80GB of storage. 

The RoverTv, on the other hand, handles 
smaller amounts of data at a time. It includes 
a 2GB SD (Secure Digital) flash memory 
card (it's a high-speed card — standard SD 
cards can provide playback problems, ac- 
cording to Doghouse), which stores several 
hours of TV. You could, of course, expand 
the device's storage capabilities by carrying 
multiple SD cards. However, SD cards aren't 
cheap, so I think most customers will use the 
RoverTv to record programs, watch them, 
and then delete them so they can record new 
shows for the next day's commute. 

TV Trouble 

TV playback is one of the RoverTv's 
main features: Thanks to an included cable, 
you should be able to finish your show on 
your main TV when you get home from 
work. Unfortunately, I encountered a 
problem with TV playback — the audio 
stuttered in all but one of the screen sizes 
that RoverTv supports (including 16:9 and 
4:3). The device offered smooth audio only 
when in the smallest of display modes, 
which was too small for me to watch com- 
fortably from more than a few feet away. 

Doghouse assures me that not all 
RoverTvs have this problem, that the next 
manufacturing run will not suffer from it, 
and that Doghouse will replace any 
RoverTv that has this issue, as it's covered 
under the unit's one-year warranty. How- 
ever, I haven't seen a RoverTv that lacks 
this defect, as both of the review units I 
tested had the problem. Therefore, I can't 
recommend the RoverTv to anyone who is 
interested in playing recorded TV in full- 
screen mode on a TV. That's too bad, be- 
cause I would otherwise give the RoverTv a 
big thumbs-up. If you want to record TV 
and watch it on the RoverTv only during a 
commute, you'll like this device. II 

18 January 2007 / 


A Mouse A Day 

Two Mice That Aim To Keep You Healthy 

Kylee Dickey 

Send your comments to 

VerticalMouse 2 

$75 (right-handed) 

$105 (left-handed) 


(650) 355-2467 


Germ Free Wireless Laser 



(866) 946-4327 

(949) 453-8782 

With the amount of time that I spend at a 
computer, I'm increasingly interested 
in equipment that will make my workday as 
comfortable as possible. Of course, there are 
the standard ergonomic, split-style key- 
boards, but today, there are many other op- 
tions for staying comfortable and healthy at 
your computer. This month, I spent some 
time with two mice that take quite different 
approaches to keeping you healthy. 

No More Twist & Shout 

Evoluent's VerticalMouse 2 is designed 
to prevent strain and injury by helping you 
hold your hand and arm in a neutral posi- 
tion, the same position you would use if 
you were holding a joystick. When you use 
a standard mouse, you have to twist your 
wrist so that the palm faces downward. 
This is an unnatural position and can lead 
to pain and discomfort. 

The VerticalMouse 2 is exactly what its 
name suggests. It's a mouse that sits on 
its side so that it is vertical rather than 
horizontal. The sides of the mouse are 
sculpted so that your hand and 
thumb rest comfortably against the 
sides of the mouse. 

The VerticalMouse 2 looks as if it 
would be awkward to use, but sur- 
prisingly, it is quite comfortable. It takes a 
few minutes to get used to moving the 
mouse without twisting the palm down- 
ward, and it's an adjustment to click buttons 
on the side of the mouse instead of on the 
top of the mouse. However, it didn't take 
nearly as long to adjust to the VerticalMouse 
2 as I thought it would. Sometimes my 
wrists nag at me a bit after I've been working 
at the computer, but I didn't have any dis- 
comfort in my right wrist during the weeks I 
used the VerticalMouse 2. 

In addition to the size and orientation of 
the mouse, its optical sensor is very respon- 
sive, requiring less hand motion than many 
mice. I noticed that I didn't have to nudge 

the mouse very far at all to see corre- 
sponding movement of the on-screen 
pointer. According to Evoluent, the 
mouse's 1,200dpi (dots per inch) sensor 
lets a mouse movement of only half an inch 
move the pointer all the way across a 17- 
inch monitor's screen. 

A Mouse For Dr. House 

Mouse manufacturers have long under- 
stood that more ergonomic designs, such as 
those of Evoluent's VerticalMouse 2, can 
keep us healthy by encouraging good 
posture and providing safer computing 
tools. However, the idea that a mouse 
could actually prevent infection is relatively 
new. The second mouse I spent time with 
was IOGEAR's Germ Free Wireless Laser 
Mouse, which, according to IOGEAR, pro- 
tects users from 99% of bacteria and 
viruses. No, you didn't misread that: IO- 
GEAR says its Germ Free mouse will help 
keep you from getting sick. 

This mouse is coated in a titanium dioxide 
and silver nanoparticle compound, which 
prevents various germs from living on the 
surface of the mouse. Does it actually work? I 
can't say for sure because I'm not a doctor or 
a chemist. The only thing I can say for sure is 
that I didn't get sick during the time that I 
used this mouse, but I'd need a lot more time 
with this mouse before I could really say how 
well the germ- deterring compound works. 
The obvious environment for this mouse is 
any shared workstation where germs could 
spread easily, such as a computer in a doc- 
tor's office or school classroom. 

Disease-fighting claims aside, the Germ 
Free Wireless Laser Mouse was a pleasure 
to use. Its compact size and laser sensor 
make it an ideal travel companion. The 
laser technology lets the mouse track accu- 
rately on a much wider range of surfaces 
than an optical mouse could. The mouse 
worked flawlessly on every surface I tried. 

Health Plan 

Evoluent and IOGEAR took two very 
different approaches to healthy computing, 
but both mice serve as examples of the type 
of innovative design that is possible for 
pointing devices. II 

Smart Computing / January 2007 19 

You Can Get 
That From Here 

Dial-A-Song & Dial Into Your Storage 

Marty Sems 

Send your comments and 

bossa nova requests to 

Wireless DJ Music System 




Maxtor Fusion 500GB 



(800) 262-9867 

As our PCs store more of our lives, we 
keep saying the same thing whenever 
we're away from the computer: "I wish I 
could grab that from here." With that in 
mind, I tried out some neat gadgets that let 
me access my computer's contents from 
anywhere in my house — or the world. 


Here's a device I'll have a hard time ship- 
ping back: Logitech's Wireless DJ Music 
System ($249.99; It 
lets me listen anywhere in the house to the 
many music files I've stored on my PC. 
Apart from the steep price, it's the answer 
to my MP3 prayers. 

First, I grab Logitech's attractive remote 
control. A screen on the remote lights up 
and gives me some menu options. I dial a 
wheel to choose the artist, song, playlist, or 
Internet radio station I want to hear, and 
click a button. 

In a few seconds, my home stereo comes 
alive with music. My remote tells me what 
song is playing and who sings it. I can ad- 
just the volume and skip to the next or pre- 
vious songs. No more hunting for CDs or 
flipping discs. It's like my own personal 
radio station. 

Logitech's StreamPoint software installs 
on your PC and uses Windows Media 
Player, iTunes, or MusicMatch to play your 
songs and playlists. It's supposed to be able 
to discover your files even without one of 
these player apps. However, I encountered 
problems until I told Windows Media 
Player to import my playlists and music 
and then reinstalled StreamPoint. 

A USB sending unit connects to your PC 
and flings your music wirelessly to a re- 
ceiving unit that doubles as a recharging 
dock for the remote. The Wireless DJ uses 
its own Bluetooth connection, so you don't 

have to integrate it into your home net- 
work (or even own one). The dock con- 
nects to any stereo or boom box with a line 
in or auxiliary jack or even a spare pair of 
powered PC speakers. Anytime your com- 
puter is turned on with StreamPoint run- 
ning, you can play your music over the 
Wireless DJ. 

My song files sounded about the same 
over Bluetooth as they did through an 
audio cable. Reception was fine at 50 feet 
away around a steel I-beam. However, the 
audio occasionally got choppy when my PC 
was busy doing other tasks. 

Logitech wisely made the Wireless DJ 
updatable. One of the first things the com- 
pany is fixing is the lack of a way to quickly 
scroll down a long list of songs, artists, 
or playlists. 

The Wireless DJ is a home run — and 
very nearly a grand slam. On the other 
hand, for $250, you could buy an iPod or 
other music player and play your tunes in 
your car, as well as in your home. Mind 
you, you'd also need a special dock or FM 
transmitter to connect to your car stereo. 

The Secret Of Fusion 

Another gadget lets you access not only 
your music, but also your photos, video, 
and other types of files from anywhere in 
the world. You can even email invitations 
to other people to let them download or 
collaborate on the files you choose. 

Seagate's Maxtor Fusion 500GB ($799.95; is an NAS (network-at- 
tached storage) device, or an external hard 
drive that connects to your network router. 
It makes a great backup device for anyone 
on your network, but its Fabrik file-sharing 
software sets the Fusion apart. Fabrik allows 
you to tag your photos and other files with 
additional data, such as "Charlie in Spain," 
to help you find and sort them more easily. 

Before you buy, be aware that it takes 
some networking mojo to set up the 
Fusion. Maxtor relies on some third parties 
to provide services and some of the instruc- 
tions you'll need to follow. If you haven't 
used port forwarding or set up a free 
dynamic DNS (Domain Name System) 
account before, you might want to ask a 
knowledgeable friend to help out. II 

20 January 2007 / 

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Productivity Counts 

Office Suite Roundup 

Next to an operating system and Web 
browser, the most important programs 
to the computing community are probably 
those found inside a productivity suite. 
Word processing, spreadsheet, and presen- 
tation software provide the mission-critical 
functionality that PC users have come to 
rely on every time they turn on their PCs. 

Historically, the market for productivity 
software has been dominated by two com- 
panies: Microsoft and Corel. Several minor 
players have emerged in recent years with 
products that have proved to be serious 
competition for the dominant suites. In 
this month's roundup, we took a look at 
the latest product offerings from the major 
productivity players and compared them to 
some of the low-cost alternatives. 

StarOffice 8 

When we reviewed StarOffice 8 for the 
Smart Computing May 2006 issue as part of a 
roundup of low-cost office suites, it earned a 
perfect score. It faces stiffer competition this 
time around, yet we found ourselves once 
again impressed with its ability to deliver big- 
brand functionality at an off-brand price. 

The suite consists of five components, all 
of which are based on the OpenOffice source 
code: Base (database), Calc (spreadsheet), 
Draw (vector-graphics drawing), Impress 
(presentations), and Writer (word pro- 
cessing). Each one stands out as a competi- 
tive program in its own right, loaded with 
features and intuitive interfaces. Thanks to 
the suite's neatly organized toolbars and 
drop-down menus, we were able to jump 
right into our documents without spending a 
lot of time searching for ways to perform 
common tasks. Users who need additional 
guidance on bigger projects, such as writing a 
business letter or building a spreadsheet 
table, can get assistance from the suite's self- 
help wizards, all of which are conveniently 

r ., j -j 


available in the File menu. We liked this 
option. We also liked that the suite pro- 
vides integrated support for PDF (Portable 
Document Format) file creation. It supports 
XML (Extensible Markup Language) forms, 
too, although we wonder how many average 
users will take advantage of this feature. 

One thing we don't wonder about is the 
value provided by StarOffice 8. Users can 
purchase Sun's productivity suite for less 
than half the price of the cheapest edition 
of Microsoft Office. And users can run the 
product on as many as five individual com- 
puters at the same time. Better yet, cus- 
tomers can place up to three free phone 
calls to technical support in the first 60 
days of usage. No other productivity suite 
featured in this roundup can say as much. 

Of course, StarOffice isn't Microsoft 
Office. The suite can accommodate docu- 
ments created with Microsoft applications, 
but users may encounter minor difficulties 
when importing those documents into 
StarOffice. We noticed that Writer had a 
problem recognizing em dashes in our 
Word documents, for instance. But minor 
occurrences like these happen when im- 
porting any document into any program 
other than the one in which it was created, 
so we do not hold it against StarOffice. 

Microsoft Office Home And Student 2007 

All of the major productivity suites model 
themselves after Microsoft Office. Maybe 
that's why Microsoft felt the need to redesign 
the latest version of its popular productivity 
suite. Or maybe Microsoft's product engi- 
neers simply grew bored with the old inter- 
face. Whatever the reason, we wish it hadn't 
happened. Instead of sporting the traditional 
menus and toolbars that we have grown ac- 
customed to using, Office 2007 features un- 
familiar components such as tabbed ribbons 
and a quick-access toolbar nestled in the 
upper-left corner of the program window. 
We know we will eventually learn how to use 
the new interface, but it serves as a source of 
constant frustration in the meantime. 

Other than the interface, the average 
user will find few significant differences 
between Office 2003 and Office 2007. 
Unfortunately, the most significant new fea- 
ture Microsoft could have put into Office 
2007 — integrated support for PDFs — didn't 

22 January 2007 / 




Buying Tips 

Users who have minimal office 

needs may want to consider 

investing in a product such as 

Microsoft Works ($49.95) 

or WordPerfect Office X3 

Home Edition ($99.99). Note, 

however, that these products 

typically lack the full 

capabilities and support 

options that come with their 

more sophisticated (and more 

expensive) counterparts. 

happen. When Microsoft announced its in- 
tention to do exactly that, Adobe threatened 
to file an antitrust lawsuit. Interestingly, 
Adobe filed the suit knowing full well that 
Microsoft was simply planning to do some- 
thing all of the other productivity software 
developers are doing already (see the other 
reviews in this roundup). As a result of the 
lawsuit threat, Microsoft abandoned its 
plans for integrated PDF support and de- 
signed a downloadable PDF plug-in instead. 
We certainly sympathized with Micro- 
soft's plight under these unusual cir- 
cumstances, but pity could not make us 
overlook our less-than-positive experience 
with Office 2007. The installation, which in- 
cludes registration and activation processes, 
took too long, and we wish the suite would 
have imported our personal settings (such 
as the blue screen background in Word) 
from Office 2003. We also noticed that 
older Office documents — even those cre- 
ated in Office 2003 — had to be converted 
into the newer Office 2007 format to gain 
full access to the suite's features. The price, 
which is quite modest by Microsoft stan- 
dards, nevertheless stands as a negative 
when users can purchase comparable prod- 
ucts at a fraction of the cost. We also were 
disappointed that Microsoft left Outlook 
out of this product offering (users who 
want the combination email/contact man- 
agement application can pay $250 more to 
get it as part of the Standard edition). 

Note that this review is based on the 
Microsoft Office 2007 beta edition. Perhaps 
things will change before the final product is 
released. However, we do not know when 
that will be. At press time, Microsoft had not 
announced an anticipated final release date 
for the latest version of Microsoft Office. 

Corel WordPerfect Office X3 (Standard Edition) 

Users have long turned to Corel's Word- 
Perfect productivity suites as the preferred 
alternative to Microsoft Office. It's easy to 
see why. WordPerfect Office has a recogniz- 
able name, a recognizable interface, and a 
reasonable price. (WordPerfect suites typi- 
cally retail for about $100 less than their 
Microsoft Office counterparts.) Plus, the 
suite's various programs are easy to use. 

A smooth installation got things off to a 
good start, and we had WordPerfect Office 
X3 running within a matter of minutes. 
Upon opening each program in the suite — 
the Standard edition ships with WordPerfect 
(word processing), Quattro Pro (spread- 
sheet), Presentations (presentations), and 
WordPerfect MAIL (contact manage- 
ment) — we had the option of specifying a 
preferred interface. We were able to set up 
WordPerfect to look and act like Microsoft 
Word, for instance, and we had the option of 
configuring the Quattro Pro spreadsheet to 
mimic Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3. This 
thoughtful nod to our comfort deepened our 
appreciation for the suite, especially after our 

Software Information 



Contact Information URL 

StarOffice 8 

Microsoft Office Home 
And Student 2007 

Corel WordPerfect 
Office X3 Standard 

Ability Office Standard 

$99.95 (box), 
$69.95 (download) 




Sun Microsystems 



Ability Software 

(800) 555-9786 

(800) 642-7676 
(425) 882-8080 

(800) 772-6735 
44 (0)8707 607 307 (UK) 



Performance Ease Of Use 


Support/Documents Price 

verall Score 

StarOffice 8 

Microsoft Office Home 
And Student 2007 

Corel WordPerfect 
Office X3 Standard 

Ability Office Standard 

4 5 

4 4 

5 5 
4 5 




5 5 
5 4 

4 3 

4 5 





Smart Computing / January 2007 23 




Buying Tips 

Each product featured in this 

roundup represents a single 

edition within a family of 

productivity suites. Shoppers 

should examine various 

editions, each of which 

features a unique combination 

of programs and tools, before 

settling on a particular one. 

experience with Microsoft's take-it-or-leave- 
it interface makeover. 

Needless to say, we had a positive experi- 
ence with WordPerfect Office. We were glad 
to see that the suite supported PDF editing 
and creation capabil- 
ities, and we liked 
the integrated Yahoo! 
toolbar that let us 
access Web content 
from within Word- 
Perfect. The Word- 
Perfect MAIL contact 
management tool is a 
nice addition, as well, 

providing many of 

the same capabilities 
offered by Microsoft Outlook. 

While recognizing that WordPerfect 
Office typically costs less than the standard 
version of Microsoft Office, the release of 
Microsoft's Home And Student edition 
means Corel has the most expensive produc- 
tivity suite in this review. And the price in- 
cludes only one free warranty support phone 
call, which seems rather stingy for a $300 
product. WordPerfect Office certainly repre- 
sents an attractive alternative to Microsoft 
Office. But as alternatives go, it falls short in 
comparison to some of the other alternatives 
currently available. 

Ability Office (Standard Edition) 

Originally released in 1985, the Ability of- 
fice suite was a success from the start. 
Millions of users have since installed the soft- 
ware on their systems. Of course, most 
of those users live in England, Spain, 
and Portugal. The ever- expanding global 
economy has introduced Europe's popular 
productivity suite to the North 
American masses. The masses will 
probably like what they see. 

The suite's interface will seem 
very familiar to experienced users. It 
features drop -down menus chock- 
full of functions and options, handy 
toolbars, and support for all of the 
popular Microsoft file formats. The 
suite let us adopt Microsoft's file 
formats as our default formats even 
though Ability has developed its 
own proprietary formats. Ability 
Office also supports PDF creation. 

The programs performed well, and we en- 
countered only a few minor inconveniences. 
The SHIFT-BACKSPACE key combination 
could not get past punctuation marks such as 
commas and dashes, for instance, and we 
could not figure out how to display text doc- 
uments without viewing the hard page 
breaks. A bigger gripe is that Ability does not 
provide phone-based tech support. Unlim- 
ited online support is available, however. 

All minor grievances aside, the fact that 
Ability Office retails for less than $60 is 
reason enough to consider a purchase. But 
there are other reasons, too. In addition to 
word processing, spreadsheet, and presenta- 
tion software, the Standard edition delivers a 
vector drawing utility (Draw), a file manage- 
ment tool (Photoalbum), and an image- 
editing application with more than 90 filters 
and effects (Photopaint). Another bonus is 
that Ability Office provides unlimited li- 
censes for noncommercial use. We were able 
to install the software on our desktop and 
laptop PCs without violating the conditions 
of the EULA (End-User License Agreement). 

Reach For The Star 

The productivity suites profiled in this 
roundup provide broad functionality and 
easy usability. Of course, most users will con- 
tinue to invest in Microsoft (and, to a lesser 
extent, Corel) software simply out of habit. 
We encourage users to consider alternatives 
such as Sun's StarOffice 8, which earns our 
Smart Choice designation once again. Why 
spend $150 or $300 when you can get top-of- 
the-line capabilities for less than $75? II 

by Jeff Dodd 

January 2007 

Smart Choice 

StarOffice 8 

24 January 2007 / 

Software Reviews 


DIY Multimedia 

Roxio Easy Media 
Creator 9 


Sonic Solutions 

(905) 482-5200 


suite m 


Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 4 
Installation 5 
Documentation 5 
Price 5 
Overall Score 4.8/5 

Companies in the multimedia editing and 
creation business continually update 
their products as they fight an ongoing war 
for industry dominance. Sometimes these 
updates represent a major leap; other times, 
they are little more than a screen refresh. 
In the case of Easy Media Creator 9, the 
changes are substantial enough that it is def- 
initely worth a look, even for existing users 
of the product. 

This does not mean that the previous 
entry, Easy Media Creator 8, is an also-ran. 
The older program offered a suite of multi- 
media utilities that helped users create, edit, 
burn, and rip an array of media. EMC 8 of- 
fered support not only for audio and video, 
but also for various graphics formats, 
making it a decent all-in-one solution. 
(EMC 8 lacked advanced editing features, 
but its capabilities were suitable for casual 
users.) In fact, this award- winning utility 
was a top seller in its category. 

However, with EMC 9 Sonic Solutions 
has outdone itself. The product incorpo- 
rates over 100 new features and integrated 
programs that add functionality in every 
area, from expanded video and audio cap- 
ture to enhanced portability. With EMC 9, 
you can do everything from ripping selec- 
tions from set-top DVD recorders, audio 
cassettes, or LPs to creating and uploading 
personalized content (including custom 
ringtones using the included Xingtone 
Ringtone Maker) for your mobile phone. 
Furthermore, EMC 9 now incorporates 
burning, backup, and copy support for the 
new Blu-ray format and media copying 
support for portable players, including 
iPods and PlayStation Portables. 

The product is a power-packed suite of 35 
utilities and programs, including a fully 
functional copy of Backup MyPC, a popular, 
user- friendly backup program. In addition, 
EMC includes PhotoSuite, a digital photo 
editor and project creator; VideoWave, a 
video editor that supports the HD (high- 
definition) format; Sound Editor, an audio 
editor/converter that comes with filters and 
special effects; and Music Disc Creator, an 
audio mixing tool that can create DJ-style 

party CDs and DVDs with fade-ins, music 
mixes, and shuffle play. And that's just 
the beginning. (Note that in the case of 
all editing tools, copyright protection may 
limit capabilities.) 

Installation of EMC 9 is quick and pain- 
less, although you'll need to be watchful if 
you don't want to install it in the default lo- 
cation. If you prefer to keep programs on a 
different drive or folder, select the Custom 
rather than the Complete install option — 
that's the only chance you will have to 
change the installation location. 

After installation, you'll see a Roxio EMC 9 
option on your All Programs (or Programs) 
menu. Selecting this option reveals eight sub- 
menus categorized by content rather than 
program. Select the media type you want to 
work with, and EMC 9 will let you select 
from available compatible programs. 

Optionally, you can launch the main 
EMC 9 interface by selecting the Home op- 
tion on the main EMC 9 menu or double- 
clicking the circular blue Home icon on 
your Desktop (assuming you didn't deselect 
the option to install this icon during setup). 
From this display, you can also launch any 
of EMC 9's programs (which again are orga- 
nized on submenus by content) or select 
buttons for one-click access to a variety of 
commonly performed tasks. (Note that 
launching the Home interface the first time 
may take a few minutes. If you encounter 
problems, make sure your firewall isn't 
blocking access to the Internet, which EMC 
9 requires to initiate the optional registra- 
tion process.) 

In all cases, we found the interfaces to be 
clean and well- organized, with most options 
offering a few sentences of explanatory copy 
to help you wade through the mind-boggling 
array of features. Most operations are easy to 
master (many include instructional text), 
and documentation is excellent if you run 
into problems. Whether you are looking to 
organize your digital photos into scrapbooks 
or transfer all your video to your (video- 
capable) iPod, EMC 9 is up to the task. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 

Smart Computing / January 2007 25 

Software Reviews 

Chat Checker 
Family Edition 

$39.99 (one year 

of monitoring) 

IMbrella Software 



Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 4 
Installation 4 
Documentation 5 
Price 5 
Overall Score 4.6/5 


$59.95 (boxed) 
Lap I ink Software 

(800) 527-5465 


Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 3 
Installation 5 
Documentation 3 
Price 5 
Overall Score 4.2/5 

A Watchful Eye 

Do you worry about the people your 
kids are meeting — and the conver- 
sations they are having — online? Chat- 
Checker surreptitiously records both 
sides of IM sessions, without the knowl- 
edge of anyone participating in the 
chat. Only those who have the autho- 
rized email address can access those ses- 
sion records. 

To set up ChatChecker, you run the 
installation program on all the PCs (up to 
six are supported by your license — stick to 
only those PCs you own to avoid legal is- 
sues) you will be monitoring. (You do not 
need to install it on the PC you will use to 
view archived chat sessions.) 

During installation, ChatChecker asks for a 
valid email address (use the same address for 
each installation). You'll use this address to 
view sessions and receive summaries. Chat- 
Checker also places two icons on the Desktop 
of the PCs where you install it. These icons let 
you uninstall the program or obtain help. 
Hide them so your kids won't discover them. 

,1-l.hl itlM 1 PI WMI M 

^Sd^lWuldt words 1 ,«.*«»»►, | [ «*■*"-*-«»*»**. I 

□ HMlMf| 

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ChatChecker runs in the background, 
recording chat sessions. If you install the pro- 
gram on a notebook, it will travel with your 
children when PCs leave your home. 

You log on to the ChatChecker Web site 
to view (and download) conversations. 
ChatChecker can also send you daily email 
summaries and updates. These alert you to 
such problems as the use of profanity and 
the presence of alcohol- or drug- related con- 
versations. You can also search messages by 
date, keyword, and chatter, and ChatChecker 
will even help you decipher acronyms. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 


Movin' On Up 

For those of us with worn-out PCs, the 
thought of moving to a new one can in- 
spire dread. How do we move our cherished 
files to the new system? While it's possible to 
manually transfer most files and preferences, 
the task can be tough. To the rescue (most 
of the time) comes PCmover. 

PCmover transfers programs, data files, 
Favorites, emails, and user preferences from 
one user profile on a single PC to one or 
more new PCs. 

PCmover supports transferring files from 
any Windows 95 or later PC to any later 
Windows operating system. It can also mi- 
grate from one partition to another on the 
same machine, but the process is complex, 
and Laplink discourages it. 

The PCmover migration process is 
straightforward and simple. Connect the 
two machines via wireless or wired network, 
parallel connection, or the included USB 
cable (some users have reported problems 
with the USB transfer process). Optionally, 

you can also save your files to removable 
media such as DVD. Install PCmover on 
both machines and then run it on the new 
PC. PCmover will "see" the other PC and 
walk you through the transfer setup process. 

The transfer is mostly an all-or-nothing 
process, so if there are programs or files on 
the old PC you do not want, remove them 
before you begin. You can opt to include (or 
not) a few elements, including Desktop set- 
tings, Outlook mailboxes, and IE settings. 

PCmover is not always 100% successful. A 
transfer of this nature is a complex process. 
Programs that are not compatible with the 
new OS may require updated drivers or not 
work at all. Programs and files with copyright 
restrictions or hardware fingerprints may also 
not transfer. Finally, programs that embed 
themselves and run in the background, such 
as antivirus software, are likely to cause 
trouble, so uninstall them beforehand. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 

26 January 2007 / 

Staff Picks 

Our Experts Pick The Best Hardware 

Portable 1" Hard Drive 8GB 

Sometimes, our Staff Picks are new gizmos that still have 
that new-gizmo high price. At other times, our Picks are 
mature products that are good values. A case in point is 
TEAC's Portable 1" Hard Drive. I found this 8GB trouper 
(model number HD10U8/KIT) online for as little as $100, 
which is about half of its original retail price. 

Even though it's bigger than most slender USB 2.0 flash 
memory drives at just under 2 inches square (the 1" part of 
its name refers to the diameter of the hard disk in its Seagate 
hard drive), the Portable Hard Drive is as pocketable as a cig- 
arette lighter. TEAC could have made the unit a little smaller, 
but the company chose to include a USB connector that 
pivots sideways out of the drive. Not every user wants some- 
thing this bulky hanging out of a USB port, so TEAC includes 
a short USB extension cable that lets the drive lie on the desk 
next to the PC. 

The drive comes for- 
matted with FAT32 (32-bit 
file allocation table), so it's 
ready to use on a Windows 
Me/2000/XP or Mac OS X 
system. Win98SE drivers 
are included on CD. 

My TEAC wrote a 4GB 
folder in 40:53 (minutes:sec- 
onds), or at about 1.6MBps. 
Its read speed of the same 
folder was much faster at 

12:35, or at about 5.3MBps. That's decent speed for a pocket 
drive that's already a bargain, and it has a one-year warranty. II 

by Marty Sems 

Portable 1" Hard Drive 8GB 



(323) 726-0303 


Desktops <= $1,500 





This PC can double as a PVR (personal video recorder) if you add the 
optional TV tuner and Windows XP Media Center Edition. 

Desktops > $1,500 
Sonic Boom OCX 



This heavy-duty gaming PC has some top-shelf components, in- 
cluding a 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor, 2GB of 
memory and a custom overclocked video card. 

Notebooks <= $1,500 
Satellite P105-S61 04 


This laptop has the new Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 1GB of RAM, 
and a DVD Super Multi±R double-layer drive. 

Notebooks > $1,500 
Aurora m9700 
$4,074 (as configured) 


Alien ware 

This notebook's dual graphics cards managed to dominate our 
game tests and beautifully plowed through just about everything we 
threw at it. 


Handhelds & PDAs 
(personal digital assistants) 


USB Enhanced Multimedia Keyboard 



MX Revolution 



iPAQ hx2495 Pocket PC 

Edit documents, surf the Web, and stay organized with 
this handheld. 



If your desk has a keyboard tray, you'll appreciate this keyboard's 
small footprint. 

This new mouse has a free-spin mode that will get you to the end of long 
documents in a flick of the wheel. 

CRTs (cathode-ray tubes) 
1100MB SyncMaster 



CRT monitors are going out of style, but Samsung's 21 -inch beauty 
will probably be around for some time. The monitor has a 1,280 x 
1,024 resolution. 

LCDs <= 19 inches 
SyncMaster 931 BF 
About $300 



This LCD's 2,000:1 contrast ratio, 2ms (millisecond) response time, 
and price tag look very promising. 

LCDs> 19 inches 
SyncMaster 225BW 
About $380 



This 22-inch widescreen has a 1,680 x 1,050 resolution and 700:1 
contrast ratio. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 27 

Staff Picks 

Dell DJ717 USB Enhanced Multimedia Keyboard 

Call me old-fashioned if you must, but I still have a soft spot 
in my heart for the corded keyboard. It never needs new 
batteries, and I don't have to worry about connecting it to a 
wireless transceiver. I just plug it in and walk away, er, I mean, 
start working on my next article. 

Among the corded keyboards still for sale, the Dell USB 
Enhanced Multimedia Keyboard is near the top. It has respon- 
sive keys that aren't sticky but aren't loose, and it has a very 

Inkjet <= $150 
Stylus Photo R220 

Inkjet > $150 

Pixma iP6600D Photo Printer 


Laser <= $200 
LaserJet 1020 

Laser > $200 to $500 
About $400 

Laser > $500 



MFDs (multifunction devices) 

Pixma MP830 


small profile. Dell ices this keyboard cake with a spattering of 
multimedia buttons (not too many, not too few). II 

by Joshua Gulick 

DJ717 USB Enhanced 
Multimedia Keyboard 















This six-cartridge inkjet photo printer provides borderless printing on 4- x 6- 
inch, 5- x 7-inch, 8- x 10-inch, and 8.5- x 1 1-inch paper. In addition, the in- 
cluded CD/DVD tray lets you print directly on inkjet-printable discs. 

The Pixma 1P66OOD is a six-cartridge inkjet printer with one-picoliter-sized 
droplets, a 3.5-inch color LCD, memory card slot, and built-in controls on the 
face of the top of the printer. 

Capable of printing a resolution of 600 x 600dpi (dots per inch), this mono- 
chrome laser printer doles out quality prints at up to 15ppm (pages per 
minute). We found it online at various retailers for less than $100. 

This color laser prints at a professional quality resolution of 2,400 x 600dpi and is 
easily networked with a built-in 10/100 Base TX network card. 

With a 514MHz processor and the ability to generate monochrome prints at 
50ppm, it's tough to resist the Lexmark T644. 

This inkjet MFD provides not only standard-sized prints but also 4- x 6-inch 
borderless photos, a built-in flatbed scanner and copier, a 33.6Kbps (kilobits 
per second) fax modem, and Hi-Speed USB connectivity. 

Flash Memory & Portable 
Cruzer Micro 4GB 



CD & DVD Drives 




About $30 

Hard Drives 


Barracuda 7200.10 ST3750640AS 750GB 




Digital Camcorders < $500 





Digital Camcorders > $500 





Digital Still Cameras— Point & Shoot 





Digital Still Cameras— Adv./Prosumer 


Digital Rebel Xti 



Graphics Cards <= $150 


Radeon X1600 PRO HDMI 


About $150 

Graphics Cards > $150 


e-GeForce 7600GS 256MB 


w/Passive Heatsink 

The new Micro, the smaller sibling to the Cruzer Titanium, comes with Skype 
installed and U3, a platform that lets you install and run appsfrom the device. 

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

Top capacity and great speed for a 7,200rpm drive 

Compact and easy to use, the Elura 100 is an excellent buy for the money. 

With its 1.33MP (megapixel) CCD (charge-coupled device) and 10X optical 
zoom, everyone is raving about this compact video dynamo. You can find 
this unit for a lot less than the MSRP online. 

This 7. 1MP camera features 6X optical zoom, Image Stabilization Technology, 
and a 2.5-inch wide viewing angle LCD. 

This 10.1 MP upgrade to the Rebel XT includes a self-cleaning system, new 
CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensor, and more. It 
lists for $900, but you'll find it for at least $70 less online. 

With a built-in HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, this card 
is a fantastic building block for a DIY media center PC 

Graphics Cards > $150 


Because it uses a passive heatsink, this midrange graphics card gives you 

e-GeForce 7600GS 256MB 


good performance with no excess noise. 

w/Passive Heatsink 


28 January 2007 / 

$y Windows Tips & Tricks 

Windows XP: Access Your 
System With Remote Desktop 

Services such as GoToMyPC or PCNow are great 
ways to get remote access to a home computer. 
But these services have a downside, namely that 
their costs can really add up given that they cost any- 
where from about $8 to almost $20 a month. 

If you'd like to have remote access capability without 
a hefty price tag (and the computer you want to access 
remotely has Windows XP Professional or Media 
Center Edition), WinXP's built-in Remote Desktop 
feature can help. 

Configure Remote Desktop 

To configure Remote Desktop on the computer you 
want to control, start by right- clicking My Computer on 
the Windows Desktop or Start menu. Click Properties 
and then the Remote tab. Find the Remote Desktop 

Settings area and select 

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Allow users to connect remotely to this computer 

Full computer name: 


What is Remote Desktop" 

For users to connect remotely t 
have a password. 

[ Select Remote Users... ] 

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Allow Users To Con- 
nect Remotely To This 
Computer. Take note 
of the name listed 
under Full Computer 
Name; you'll need this 
when it comes time to 
access the system. 

Specify which user 
accounts will be allowed 
to use the Remote 
Desktop feature. Sys- 
tem access via Remote 
Desktop is granted to 
any account that's part 
of the administrator 
group, so if the account 
you want to use was set 
up as a WinXP com- 
puter administrator, there's nothing more to configure. 
But you can use Remote Desktop with more than one ac- 
count, and if you want to use any Limited accounts, you 
must explicitly add them to Remote Desktop's access list. 

You can add users to Remote Desktop by clicking the 
Select Remote Users button and then the Add button. In 

You can turn on Remote Desktop in 
Windows XP Professional and Media 
Center Edition from the Remote tab of 
the System Properties dialog box. 

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the Select Users box, enter the name of the account you 
want to add. If you'd rather select accounts from a list, 
click Advanced and then Find Now, which will display a 
list of all the user accounts that exist on your system. Select 
one or more of them and 
click OK twice. After ver- 
ifying that all the ac- 
counts you want to use 
are listed, click OK twice 
more to dismiss the re- 
maining dialog boxes. 

When selecting ac- 
counts for use with 
Remote Desktop, be 
aware that only those 
with passwords will be 
granted access. You'll 
still be able to set up 
Remote Desktop with 
accounts that lack pass- 
words, but you won't be 
able to log in remotely 
with those accounts. 

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] | Help 

The Remote Desktop Connection utility 
lets you customize your connection in a 
variety of ways. 

Firewall Configuration 

If you're using the Windows Firewall bundled with 
WinXP Service Pack 2, it should automatically be con- 
figured to allow Remote Desktop to work, but it's a 
good idea to verify the configuration. 

Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, 
and Security Center. Then click the Windows Firewall 
link at the bottom of the Security Center. Confirm that 
the Windows Firewall is on and that the Don't Allow 
Exceptions box doesn't have a check mark in it. Then 
click the Exception tab — in the list of Programs And 
Services, look for the Remote Desktop entry and make 
sure there is a check mark in the adjacent box. When 
you're finished, click OK and close Security Center. 

(If you're using a third-party firewall such as 
Symantec or McAfee, check the documentation 
regarding how to set up Remote Desktop as a trusted 

Smart Computing / January 2007 29 


Remote Desktop 

^/.UjU C'jI 











OK":"} : : 

If you're on your local network, you can 
log in to your system using the system 
name, but if accessing your system from 
the Internet you'll need to enter your 
ISP (Internet service provider)-assigned 
IP (Internet Protocol) address instead. 

Using Remote Desktop On A Local Network 

To connect to a PC running Remote Desktop, you'll 
need Remote Desktop Connection, which is preinstalled 
on all versions of WinXP. Remote Desktop Connection 

will also work with just 
about any other version 
of Windows from 95 
through 2000, but you'll 
have to download and 
install it first: You can 
find the software at 
www. microsoft 

You can use Remote 
Desktop Connection to 
access a system from 
your local network or across the Internet. 

After you launch Remote Desktop Connection, you'll 
see an empty space labeled Computer; this is where 
you'll enter the name of the system you wrote down ear- 
lier. After you click Connect, your screen will go mostly 
black save for a control bar centered at the top and a 
login dialog box. Enter the User Name and Password for 
an account with Remote Desktop access and click OK. 
You'll be able to view and control the Desktop as if you 
were sitting directly in front of it. The Remote Desktop 
control bar hides itself after a few seconds, but you can 
summon it by hovering the pointer over the top edge of 
the screen. When the control bar reappears, you can use 
the buttons on the 

right side to end your ._,■_ ..,,, J:r , : |jfgf| 

remote session, mini- 
mize it, or change 
from the default full- 
screen to a window. 

When you log in to 
a system via Remote 
Desktop, that system 
locks and returns to 
the account login 
screen to prevent com- 
petition with anyone 
sitting in front of it. 
But if anyone comes 

along and logs directly in to the system while you're ac- 
cessing, your connection will end. 

Using Remote Desktop From The Internet 

You've seen that accessing a system running Remote 
Desktop from another computer on your local network 
can be a piece of cake. But getting to your system from 

jfj .Andrea 

Joseph already has a< 

Panel and open User Accounts . 

- - e r " -::::!- --'- 

Any administrator account is 
automatically given system access 
via Remote Desktop, but you can add 
as many other accounts as you want. 

outside your network requires some additional config- 
uration steps. 

Configure your broadband router to forward net- 
work port 3389 to the IP (Internet Protocol) address of 
the PC running Remote Desktop. This is usually a 
simple procedure, but it varies widely by device manu- 
facturer, so check your product manual. 

Once you're forwarding port 3389, you'll be able to 
reach your system from across the Internet by typing 
your ISP (Internet service provider) -assigned IP ad- 
dress into the Remote Desktop Connection software. 
(You can't access your system by name or its own IP 
address from the Internet as they're only valid on your 
own network.) You can determine your ISP -assigned 
IP address by looking for something labeled IP address 
or WAN (wide-area network) address on your router's 
status page. If your PC happens to be directly con- 
nected to a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) or cable 
modem, you can find the ISP-assigned address by 
typing ipconfig at a command prompt. 

If you use a router and your system gets its IP ad- 
dress automatically through DHCP (Dynamic Host 
Configuration Protocol), you'll also want to configure 
your Remote Desktop PC with a fixed IP address. 
Otherwise, if your PC's IP address should happen to 
change (which is likely to happen eventually), your 
router will wind up forwarding port 3389 to the wrong 
address and you won't be able to access your system 
from the Internet. 

Whether or not you're using a broadband router, 
there's one more thing to consider when using Remote 
Desktop over the Internet. Many ISPs rotate the IP ad- 
dresses they assign to customers, so an address you used 
for Remote Desktop one week may not be valid the next. 
The easiest solution to this problem is to arrange for a 
fixed IP address from your ISP (which usually involves a 
fee). A no-cost option is to use a service such as Dynamic 
DNS from DynDNS ( 
/dyndns) that can track changes to your IP address. 

Customize Remote Desktop Connection 

You can customize Remote Desktop Connection set- 
tings in a variety of ways by clicking the Options button 
before you log in. On the General tab, you can save com- 
puter/usernames and passwords so you don't have to 
enter them each time. The adjacent Display tab will let 
you define the resolution and color depth for the Remote 
Desktop session, and the Local Resources tab is where 
you can specify which system devices you want to con- 
nect to. You can use the last tab, Experience, to configure 
various performance-related settings. II 

by Joseph Moran 

30 January 2007 / 

$y Windows Tips & Tricks 

How To Use Disk Cleanup 

Disk Cleanup helps you cut the clutter on your 
Windows 98/Me/XP/Vista computer's hard 
drive. The utility, which is built into Windows, 
finds unnecessary files in various categories such as 
Temporary Internet Files and Offline Files. You can 
then choose which categories to delete, often freeing 
up many megabytes or even gigabytes at one stroke. 

When you're troubleshooting a problem on your 
PC, the advice you'll find or hear from other users 
often includes running Disk Cleanup. This isn't be- 
cause the utility has a proven track 
record of fixing problems — it doesn't. 
However, it can eliminate some vari- 
ables in the troubleshooting process, 
such as a corrupted TMP (temporary) 
file that could be causing trouble or a 
lack of free space for the swap file. 

Disk Cleanup also doesn't detect du- 
plicate files, such as multiple copies of 
space-eating songs and photos. Still, 
it's a useful tool with which every Win- 
dows users should be familiar. 

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m\ Setup Log Files 

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Windows Me/XP 

To run Disk Cleanup in WinMe/XP, 
right- click Start and choose Explore, or 
press the Windows logo and E keys at 
the same time. Right-click Local Disk 
(C:) and choose Properties. Click Disk 
Cleanup to begin. 

After searching your hard drive (WinXP may take 
several minutes), Disk Cleanup will give you a list of 
junk file categories called Files To Delete. On the right, 
the utility will tell you how much hard drive space it 
can reclaim by deleting the files in each category. 
WinXP expresses drive space in kilobytes or bytes, such 
as 2,255,003 (2.3MB), but WinMe sticks to megabytes, 
such as 0.06MB (60KB). 

In WinXP, Disk Cleanup can also find old files that 
you haven't accessed in a long time and compress (but 
not delete) them to save space. Compress Old Files isn't 
a very attractive option, however, as it takes a PC longer 
to access compressed files when they're needed. Also, 
because new hard drives cost as little as 20 cents per 

Windows XP lets you clean out a 
huge number of Microsoft Office 
setup files, but if you have to do a 
repair operation later, you'll need 
to insert the Office installation 
disc at that time. 

gigabyte, adding storage capacity with a new hard 
drive is preferable to compressing files in most cases. 
Compress Old Files is usually also to blame for how long 
it takes WinXP's Disk Cleanup to scan your hard drive. 

Click the checkbox next to any category to select or 
deselect it for file deletion. The Temporary Files cate- 
gory is a good place to start (Disk Cleanup may ignore 
temp files less than seven days old), as are Temporary 
Internet Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, 
and Setup Log Files. Before you check the Recycle Bin 
entry, you might want to first double- 
click its icon on your Desktop to make 
sure that there's nothing in it that you 
don't want to throw away permanently. 
Some categories, such as Down- 
loaded Program Files (which includes 
unneeded ActiveX controls and Java 
applets), cause a View Files button to 
appear. Click it, and you'll see a win- 
dow with a list of the files Windows 
says is OK to delete. Close the window 
when you're finished looking. 

When you're ready for Disk Cleanup 
to erase your expendable files, click OK 
and Yes. If your hard drive has more 
than one partition, such as C: and D:, 
run Disk Cleanup on each. 

The Disk Cleanup window has an- 
other tab called More Options. Here 
you'll find more ways to free up hard 
drive space. The Clean Up button in 
the Windows Components section launches the 
Windows Components Wizard in WinXP and the 
Add/Remove Programs feature in WinMe. The 
Installed Programs section's Clean Up button links to 
Add/Remove Programs feature in both OSes (oper- 
ating systems). Finally, the System Restore section's 
Clean Up button nukes every restore point but the 
most recent one. This is a little drastic, so Windows 
asks you whether you want to proceed. 

System Restore's Clean Up button is kind of pointless 
for two reasons. Firstly, it doesn't reclaim usable hard 
drive space from System Restore because it doesn't 
change the amount of space allocated to the utility. In 
WinXP, you can do this by right- clicking My Computer, 

Smart Computing / January 2007 31 


Disk Cleanup 

Disk Cleanup | More Options Settings | 



Windows 98's Disk Cleanup window 
has a Settings tab. Here, you can 
tell Windows to automatically 
run the utility when the hard drive 
gets too full. 

choosing Properties and 
the System Restore tab, 
setting the Disk Space To 
Use slider to a lower set- 
ting, and clicking Apply. 
In WinMe, right-click 
My Computer and select 
Properties, the Perfor- 
mance tab, and File Sys- 
tem. Adjust the System 
Restore Disk Space Use 
slider and click Apply. 
Reducing System Restore's 
disk space may erase your 
oldest restore points. 

Secondly, if you needed 
to delete old restore points 
as part of troubleshooting, 
you would get rid of all of 
them (not even sparing the most recent restore point) 
by disabling System Restore. In WinXP, select the Turn 
Off System Restore checkbox just above the Disk Space 
To Use slider. In WinMe, click the Troubleshooting tab, 
select the Disable System Restore checkbox, click Apply, 
and then click OK. 

Windows 98 

Win98's Disk Cleanup differs only slightly from 
WinMe/XP's. Its Disk Cleanup window has a third tab 
called Settings, which bears a self-explanatory 
checkbox reading If This Drive Runs Low On Disk 
Space, Automatically Run Disk Cleanup. If you enable 
or disable this option, click OK. 

Windows Vista 

In case you've been using Windows Vista long 
enough to worry about detritus on your hard drive, 
here's the procedure for using Disk Cleanup. Note that 
the final version of Vista, which may be available by the 
time you read this, may differ a little from the build we 
used to pen this article (build 5600 Release Candidate 1). 

Click the Start icon (the Windows icon orb) in its fa- 
miliar place at the lower-left part of the screen. When 
the new Start menu appears, click Computer in the 
column on the right. Think of Computer as Vista's ver- 
sion of Win98/Me/XP's My Computer; as with the 
Documents, Pictures, and Music folders, Microsoft 
simply dropped the "My" part of the name. Com- 
puter combines the features of My Computer and 
Win98/Me/XP's File Explorer in one window, meaning 
that you'll see icons for your hard drive partitions and 
other storage devices in the center, plus a folder tree on 

the left. You can also reach Computer by pressing the 
Windows logo-E combination keystroke. 

Next, right-click Local Disk (C:). Choose Properties. 
Windows 98/Me/XP users will be on familiar ground 
here, as the Local Disk (C:) Properties panel will look 
much as it did in those earlier OSes. 

Click the Disk Cleanup button at the lower-right. 
Here, Vista will throw you a curve ball. It will ask you 
whether you want to clean up the files in the current user 
account only or in all of the user accounts on the PC. 
Click either option, and Vista will immediately start to 
analyze the files on the PC. Because of improvements in 
the way Vista indexes files with its default file system set- 
tings, this process may take much less time than on sys- 
tems with WinXP. 

Some of Vista's Files To Delete categories can re- 
ally free up substantial amounts of hard drive space. 


Windows Vista's Disk Cleanup allows you to shut down Hibernate mode 
and reclaim disk space allocated to it. 

One example is System Error Memory Dump Files, 
which denotes files Windows Vista creates when it 
logs information about an error that has occurred. 
And if you don't care for Vista's Hibernate mode, 
check Hibernation File Cleaner. This can free up 
gigabytes of space and disable the Hibernate mode at 
the same time. 

After you've chosen the types of files to delete, click 
OK. Vista will ask you whether you really want to pro- 
ceed, so click Delete Files. When Disk Cleanup is fin- 
ished, click OK. 

Although it doesn't "clean up" problems on the hard 
drive such as bad Registry entries or spyware, Disk 
Cleanup is nevertheless an important tool. Use it occa- 
sionally and pay attention to what you delete with it. II 

by Marty Sems 

32 January 2007 / 


New is 


Retro-Teen Makes A Comeback 

Remember the TRS-80, your first 
computer with an 80-line, 
yellow monochrome monitor? 
Or perhaps your first computer was a 
Macintosh Plus that's now gathering 
dust in your basement. We recently dis- 
covered a Mac Plus, forlorn and com- 
pletely nonfunctional, and were taken 
with a desire to render it useful once 
again. The result was the MacQuarium, 
a project that took a few weeks' time, a 
few cut fingers, and more than a few ex- 
pletives. It became a new home for a 
couple of goldfish, who swim happily 
where the Mac's 9-inch grayscale dis- 
play used to be. It's a great showpiece, 
and let's face it: It ups the ante on our 
nerd credibility. 

Our conversion project was an act 
of retro technology, and it's happening 
more and more often. We discovered 
that there are a lot of great products 
out there to help feed that yearning. In 
this article, we'll share what we found 

and offer different ways for you to 
bring out your inner retro-tech. 

Retro Is Everywhere 

First, we need to know what exactly 
is meant by retro. Elizabeth Guffey, 
an associate professor of art history at 
the State University of New York at 
Purchase, has recently published a 
book on the subject titled "Retro: The 
Culture of Revival." The book is a 
deep study of cultural progress from 
the late 1800s to the present day, and 
the author's perspective shows us that 
retro is nothing new, so to speak. For 
at least a century, according to Dr. 
Guffey, we've been casting back to the 
recent past for the styles and things 
that lend us that unmistakable retro - 
chic — the feeling of being out of place 
but cool at the same time. The more 
we looked, the more we found exam- 
ples of this trend all around us. 

For example, consider a Web site 
such as AllWebRetro (www.allweb An online store specializing 
in 1950s and 1960s gear often remade 
with a modern twist, this site serves 
up CD-powered jukeboxes, classic 
rounded refrigerators, and more. Some 
of the wares available on the site may 
strike us as kitschy rip-offs of their an- 
tecedents. Other products are not mere 
imitations, but highly stylized and func- 
tional replacements for older gear. 

Another example, Elmira Stove 
Works (, 
has produced a line of appliances with 
retro curves and colors. Its high-end 
refrigerators, ranges, and range hoods 
are not at all subtle about their design 
influence and would look out of place 
in most modern North American 
kitchens. However, their design aes- 
thetic is both striking and appealing to 
current hipsters looking to add a splash 
of retro distinction to their homes. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 33 



The SpeckTone 

Retro makes 

your iPod the 

accessory in your 

hipster den. 

The trend is also clear in the gear we 
acquire, as it seems to take on more 
and more of a retro edge. While cel- 
lular phones are getting smaller every 
year, some people are ripping out their 
cell phones' guts and stuffing them 
into old rotary phone handsets. That 
was the project dreamed up by Nathan 
Seidle, a Boulder, Colo., -based elec- 
tronics seller who posted the operation 
in detail on his Web site. Soon there- 
after, a virtual firestorm of interest en- 
sued, and Seidle's conversion was 
picked up by several international 
publications, including The New York 
Times and Business Week. The project 
started as a lark. "The original idea was 
conceived with friends who thought it 
would be fun to take out to the local 
bar and show to friends," Seidle says. 
Even after a year since the first project 
was posted, his company, Spark Fun 
Electronics (, is 
selling complete cell phone-cum- 
rotary phones on its site starting at 
$399. "The phone sales keep rolling 
in — one per week for the last 50 or so 
weeks. But it's not enough to make a 
living, just enough to keep us ordering 
really old rotary phones," Seidle says. 


Most instances of retro-chic seem 
to make something old new again. 
But others take an opposite tack: 
making something new old again. For 
many computer users, the ultimate in 
retro-chic is the practice of using 
decked-out, high-end systems fea- 
turing the latest graphics cards to play 

8-bit video games from 20 years ago. 
For them, the software of choice is the 
free MAME (Multiple Arcade Ma- 
chine Emulator; 

Originally released in 1997 by Nicola 
Salmoria, the software now supports 
over 3,300 unique games from popular 
video game consoles from the 1980s, 
including the Atari 2600, Coleco Vision, 
Commodore 64, and even stand- 
alone arcade machines. The software 
works by emulating the original hard- 
ware in the old 
consoles, mapping 
keyboard and joy- 
stick inputs to 
their old-school 
counterparts. The 
second half of the 
equation are the 
actual game files, 
called ROM im- 
ages, which are 
available online. 

However, while 
the MAME emu- 
lator is a perfect- 
ly legal software 

product, the ROMs live in a legal gray 
zone. According to the Wikipedia 
( entry for MAME, 
most arcade games are still covered by 
copyright. "Some copyright holders 
have been indecisive regarding making 
licensed MAME ROMs available to 
the public," the entry suggests, citing 
examples of vendors such as Atari first 
releasing and then retracting official 
MAME-compatible ROM images of 
some games. Most games are copy- 
righted but no longer commercially 

Blast the baddies '80s-style with Defender, 
as run in the MAME (Multiple Arcade 
Machine Emulator). 

available in any form. The MAME 
emulator and the ROMs that work on 
it remain separate resources online, as 
the MAME disassociates itself from 
the ROMs. That hasn't stopped many 
from getting their hands on games 
they don't technically own. And it 
hasn't stopped us from enjoying an 
odd round of Defender. 

Speck-tacular Retro 

When technology meets retro 
styling, it's more than just hobbyists 
at work. A surprising example comes 
from Speck Products (www. speck, based in Palo Alto, 
Calif. Its $149.95 SpeckTone Retro 
speaker unit for the iPod is a remark- 
able mashup of 1950s stereo styling 
with 21 st -century portable audio 
technology. Simply place your iPod in 
the dock on top of the unit, and your 
music will play through the two 28- 
watt, front-mounted speakers and a 
4 -inch sub woofer 
underneath. The 
resulting sound 
quality is respect- 
able, if not star- 
tling. The unit will 
also charge your 
iPod while it sits 
in the dock. 

But the charms 
of this unit are 
not limited to its 
physical specifica- 
tions or perfor- 
mance. Speck put 
some serious ef- 
fort into crafting a real retro experi- 
ence. It began with the out-of-box 
experience: We were enveloped with a 
waft of wood-and-lacquer odor, which 
shot our minds back to early memo- 
ries of brand-new 8-track tape decks. 
With a flip of the cradle switch on the 
back of the unit, the SpeckTone Retro 
emits a heavy, bass-laden, crack- 
like sound sure to jangle unsteady 
nerves — much like stereo systems of 
old. The unit has only one user inter- 
face: a backlit volume dial. The unit's 

34 January 2007 / 



finish is piano -gloss, in black, white, 
or classic green with brown accents. 

Bill Welch, senior development 
manager at Speck Products, says the 
company went to great lengths to dis- 
tinguish its system from other products 
on the market. "We recognize that the 
iPod is a cultural icon, and we wanted 
to match it with the icon of another 
era," Welch says. He also acknowledges 
some of the sensory elements of the 
unit. "We have analog circuits in [the 
SpeckTone Retro], and while we didn't 
set out to create that sound, it's cer- 
tainly part of the experience." The solid 
wood construction is another distin- 
guishing characteristic in this era of 
typical all-plastic parts. "The wooden 
cabinet is unique to this segment and 
has a substantial feel to it," Welch says. 

Ultimately, it's the design that 
catches eyes, and the reaction to its re- 
cent introduction has been overwhelm- 
ingly positive. "When people try this, 
they say it just feels right. The Retro 
subtly recalls the [1950s] without club- 
bing them with it," Welch says. 

Retro Is Shameless 

A big part of what retro is all about 
is borrowing from the past in a 
shameless, piecemeal way and taking 
something that you like and adding to 
it in ways that are creative, anom- 
alous, or far-fetched. Consider our 
example of the MacQuarium, which 
some might suggest is as far-fetched 
and disrespectful of the original use as 
you can get. While Dr. Guffey talks 
about the appearance and re-emer- 
gence of artistic and design trends, it 
applies equally well to the stuff we 
buy and use in our own lives. 

One thing retro is not, however, is 
nostalgia. Think of people of a cer- 
tain age who can't get past the music 
of the 1950s and compare them 
with people in their 20s who imper- 
sonate Elvis. The former are nos- 
talgic, the latter are retro. According 
to Dr. Guffey, "Although the two 
spheres often conjoin, I'd try to 
draw some distinction between 

personal nostalgia, which is largely 
sentimental, and retro's communal 
(and more sardonic) memory." As 
she writes in her book, "Retro 
quotes styles from the past, but ap- 
plies them in anomalous settings." 
For example, think of a modern col- 
lege student affecting bell-bottoms 
and an afro haircut. 

But as we've seen, retro isn't only 
evident in clothing styles. In fact, ac- 
cording to Dr. Guffey, retro is heavily 
influenced by technology and borrows 
from its most popular manifestations. 
The jukebox from AllWeb Retro, for 
example, has not only been trans- 
formed into something modern, but 
its use has also been revised from a 
public, communal device to some- 
thing private. It's gone from being an 
archetype of the social meeting place 
to being a private conversation piece. 

Why Retro? 

The big unanswered question is why 
do we keep going back to our past? 
Living as we do in a society powered 
by the latest technological achieve- 
ments, why are we spending an 
increasing amount of time looking 

backward instead of forward? Accord- 
ing to Dr. Guffey, it's that very rush 
forward that explains the need to 
look back. 

"I'd say that we're trying to make 
sense of the world as it rushes past," 
she says. "It's clear that the futurism 
that dominated much of 20 -century 
popular imagination is dead. Stop for 
a minute and try to imagine what the 
world will be like in 100 years. Most 
of us draw a complete blank. But if 
you'd asked one of our grandparents 
that question, they'd probably have 
come up with a vision that included 
flying cars, vacations on the moon, 
and so on." 

Indeed, the future is here, but it 
isn't what we expected. Our com- 
puters, for the most part, do the same 
things they did 20 years ago, albeit 
faster and with more advanced inter- 
faces. We once wrote articles on our 
Mac Plus and continue to do so on a 
PowerBook. Today's computers won't 
actually write the articles themselves, 
as we had once hoped they might, but 
at least we now have fishy antics to 
gaze upon while we slave away. II 

by Aaron Vegh 

Smart Computing / January 2007 35 


Readers' Tips 

Regardless of their level 
of experience, our 
readers constantly 
come across fast, easy 
ways to accomplish a 
task (or avoid a 
problem), and they're 
eager to share with the 
rest of us. This page is 
our chance to share 
some of their great 
ideas with the rest 
of you. 

If you've run across a 
way to solve or avoid a 
problem, fix a malfunc- 
tioning piece of soft- 
ware or hardware, or 
accomplish a com- 
puter-related task, let 
us (and other Smart 
Computing readers) 
know about it! Email 
your tip to readerstips 
Please limit your tips to 
200 words or fewer. 
Tips may be edited for 
length and clarity. 

Helpful Advice & Solutions 
From Our Readers 

Remove Those Pesky Symbols 

Lots of forwarded emails indicate quoted material 
from the original by including greater-than 
symbols: >>>>. Emailstripper, available free 
at many Web sites, is great for removing these 
from emails. Just Google emailstripper. 

Ed W., Ocala, Fla. 

Delete Emails From A Specific Sender 

Your answer in the November issue about how to 
remove emails sent by a specific person was fine, 
but there's an easier, faster way: Once you have 
used the Outlook Find option to locate all emails 
from one sender, simply select Edit and Select All, 
and then click the Delete button on the toolbar. 
Alternatively, just click the From tab at the top of 
the Inbox to sort by sender. SHIFT-click at the 
first email message from that sender, SHIFT-click 
at the last message, and press the DELETE key. 
You can also use CTRL-click to select only specific 
messages you want to delete. This saves having 
to do a search. 

Rhonda T„ Crownsville, Md. 

Protect Yourself With A Cloned Image 

Using Apricorn's EZ Gig II backup 
drive, I completely clone my existing 
hard drive (200GB, 38GB used) and 
squirrel it away for emergencies. I do 
this at least once every month, and I 
have had occasion to use the cloned 
image after a particularly bad crash. I in- 
stall the clone, wipe and redone my orig- 
inal, and proceed to squirrel away the clone 
again. For me, it beats backing up with almost 
any media I've tried. I purchased two mobile 
frames and racks so I can easily slip my hard drives 
in and out. The whole process can take as little as 
30 minutes. 

Sidney B., Yorktown Heights, N.Y. 

Change Background Colors To Avoid Glare 

Some of us dislike trying to read text set 
against the glare of a white computer 
screen. If the glare bothers you, there are 
several remedies. If you want to change the 
Internet Explorer background color to a 
color that's easier on the eyes, click Tools 
and Internet Options and then select the 
General tab. Click the Colors button and 
uncheck the Use Windows Colors 
checkbox. Click the Background block to 
select a new background color. (I find gray 
to be the best for contrast and eye com- 
fort.) Click OK to exit. Many other pro- 
grams (for example, Microsoft Word) will 
also allow you to change background 
colors. In Word, click the Format menu op- 
tion and then Background. Change the 
background to the desired color. (I like gray 
again.) Unless you want to print the docu- 
ment with a colored background, go back 
to the Format menu, change the back- 
ground color back to white, and then print 
your document. (Doing so saves ink.) 

Gil H., Cinnaminson, N.J. 

Profile Your PC With Belarc Advisor 

You recently (October 2006) told a reader 
wondering how much free space he had to 
look at the properties listed under My 
Computer, but I'd also recommend telling 
people about Belarc Advisor. (See www It's a great way to view a profile 
of your computer. Best practice (and I don't 
always practice what I preach!) is to run a 
new profile and print it off every time you 
make a change to your PC. Then store the 
printout someplace where you can find it, 
just in case your PC goes down and you need 
to tell a tech support rep what's on it. 

Karen B., Loudon, Tenn. 

36 January 2007 / 


Set Up A Fi 

Put An Old PC To Good Use 

Hold on — don't recycle that 
old PC just yet. Sure, it's not 
nearly as powerful as the 
shiny, new computer that replaced it, 
but that doesn't mean it can't be 
useful — especially if you have multiple 
computers and other devices con- 
nected to a home network. With a 
little hardware tweaking and the right 
software, that old computer would 
make a fine server, which is the next 
logical step any PC owner with a 
home network should take. 

File servers act as repositories for 
files that can be easily shared across a 
network. They are terrific for making 
backups because anyone in the house 
that is connected to the network can 
store his files there. They are also per- 
fect for storing digital video, audio, 
and pictures in a central location so 
those multimedia files can be accessed 
by anyone or streamed to a media 
player such as the Xbox 360. 

PCs left over after an upgrade often 
do an admirable job as file servers. 
You just need to know what compo- 
nents are important, what parts you 
can do without, and how to adjust 
Windows so other computers on the 
network can access the file server. The 
following steps will tell you how to 
create a file server using an old com- 
puter with Windows XP installed, 
although with a little tweaking 
most of the following tips apply 
to a computer using any 
version of Windows. 


Check The Parts 

The hard drive is the most 
important component in 
a file server. Ideally, 
you want high- capacity 

drives that store hundreds of gigabytes 
of data, spin at 7,200rpm or faster for 
quick file access, and have 8MB or 
more of cache RAM installed to en- 
hance performance. 

The CPU isn't as important because 
it only has to handle basic requests, so 
don't worry if yours is ancient. System 
RAM is much more important, be- 
cause the more you have, the more 
quickly computers on the network can 
access data from the hard drives. 
Having 512MB is nice, and you can 
even get away with less than that, but 
more is better. 

A good NIC (network interface 
card) is also important, and if you can 
afford a Gigabit Ethernet card instead 
of a more typical 100Mbps (megabits 
per second) card, then go for it. If pos- 
sible, you'll want to connect the file 
server directly to your network's 
router using an Ethernet cable rather 
than connecting it wirelessly. This en- 
sures the best possible data transfer 
rates and increases reliability. 

A fancy (read: expensive) video card 
is completely unnecessary because you 

won't run any graphics -intensive pro- 
grams on the file server, so you can 
save a lot of money in this depart- 
ment. After the initial configuration is 
complete, you won't even need to 
keep a monitor connected to the 
server, except for troubleshooting. 

There's no need for a sound card in 
a file server, and if the computer has 
sound hardware integrated into its 
motherboard, you can boost perfor- 
mance a bit by disabling it via the 
BIOS (Basic Input/Output System). 
This procedure differs from computer 
to computer, so check the documenta- 
tion to find out how to access and 
change this BIOS setting. 

File servers are meant to be left on 
all the time, so consider buying a UPS 
(uninterruptible power supply) that 
can keep the server running during 
brief power outages. 

If you don't already have a com- 
puter that is a candidate for being a 
file server, you could buy all of the 
parts separately and bolt everything 
together. Usually, it is much easier and 
less expensive to buy a complete 
system from a vendor such as the Dell 
Outlet store and upgrade it with a 
better hard drive. To visit the Dell 
Outlet store go to, 
click Home & Home Office or Small 
Business, and use the Dell Outlet 
drop -down list to search for refur- 
bished PCs. For example, we vis- 
ited Dell Outlet at press time 
and found a refurbished 
system available that came 
with Windows XP Pro, 
512MB of RAM, an 80GB 
hard drive, and a recordable 
CD drive, among other 
things, for $219. Consider- 
ing the retail price of 
WinXP Pro alone is 

Smart Computing / January 2007 37 


$299, that's an unbeatable deal for a 
system that would be a mediocre 
desktop PC but would make a decent 
file server. Picking up a used com- 
puter locally is another good option 
that can save you a lot of cash and as- 
sembly time. 

Step 2: 

Back Up Files 

If there are any important files 
stored on the PC you want to turn 
into a server, be sure to back them up 
using software such as Cobian Backup 
/cobianbackup.htm). The following 
procedure is designed to preserve 
user-created data on the drive (for in- 
stance, text documents and pictures), 
but it never hurts to make backups. 

Step 3: 

Remove Software (Optional) 

If you want to create a true file 
server that is used exclusively for 
storage, there's no need to keep all of 
the other programs installed on the 
hard drive, and you can uninstall 
them to free up space. If you choose to 
uninstall programs, click Start, click 
All Programs, and use each program's 
uninstall or remove utility to delete 
them from the drive. If a program 
doesn't have an uninstall option, 
click Start, click 

Set Up A File Server 

Most hard drives have basic configuration 

settings printed directly on top of the 

unit, as shown here. 

Control Panel, and double-click Add 
Or Remove Programs. Highlight en- 
tries in the list, click Remove, and 
follow the prompts to remove the 
software. When you're finished, you 
can use a program such as CCleaner 
(free; to remove 
any other stray files. 

Step 4: 

Add A Second Drive (Optional) 

You can easily increase the amount 
of storage space by adding one or 
more hard drives to the server. Just 
be sure any new drives use the same 
interface your computer's mother- 
board supports — PATA (Parallel 
ATA) and SATA (Serial ATA) are the 
most common. Avoid OEM (original 
equipment manufacturer) drives be- 
cause they often lack the cables, 
mounting hardware, installation soft- 
ware, and generous warranties that 
are included with drives packaged for 
retail sale. 

Hard drives are very easy to install 
because they come with detailed con- 
figuration instructions and great soft- 
ware designed to prep the drive so 
Windows can use it. You may need to 
reposition some jumper blocks or up- 
grade to an 80-conductor interface 
cable when working with a PATA 
drive, but just follow the diagrams 
and instructions that come with the 
drive and you'll be OK. Don't ever in- 
stall a PATA hard drive on the same 
cable a CD or DVD drive is attached 

to, or the hard drive's performance 
will greatly suffer. 

The only real decision you need to 
make when installing a hard drive is the 
file system chosen when the drive is 
formatted, and we recommend NTFS 
(NT file system), which is vastly supe- 
rior to its commonly used predecessor, 
FAT32 (32-bit file allocation table). 
Although Windows 95/98/Me can't 
(without the use of special software) 
see NTFS data on a computer where 
those operating systems are installed, 
they can access drives formatted with 
NTFS just fine over the network. 

Step 5: 

Configure Windows For File Sharing 

After the drives are installed, boot 
into Windows, click Start, click My 
Computer, right-click the icon for a 
hard drive, and click Properties. Click 
the Sharing tab and then click the If 
You Understand The Risk But Still 
Want To Share The Root Of This 
Drive Click Here link. Select the Share 
This Folder On The Network check- 
box, select the Allow Network Users 
To Change My Files checkbox, and 
click Apply. After WinXP changes all 
of the file permissions, you can create 

You can add an Intel Core 2 Extreme CPU to a file server to make 
sure it runs as cool as possible, but you really don't need that 
much computing horsepower. 

You don't need a cutting-edge video card to operate a file 
server, and products such as this Sapphire Radeon 9250 that sell 
for less than $50 are more than sufficient. 

38 January 2007 / 


Set UP A File Server 

r^ 11 ^'*"^ 1 '"-^ 

General Tools Hardware Sharing Quota 

^"1- Tosh 
^9 only. 

L.J .-.:■'■' ~5: , :--~-', -se-s :: ;-e~ce •■;.■' e; 

'.'s.-. •■:.■•■.'■•:: ; -' r ■ ; :~; - :■: 

folders on drives with names such as 
Pictures, Music, Videos, etc., to create 
some basic categories for all of your 
files. Repeat these steps for any other 
drives installed in the server. 

You also need to make sure the file 
server is connected to your network. 
Use an Ethernet cable to connect the 
computer's NIC to an open port on the 
network's router if you haven't already 
done so and start the 
computer. Running in 
Category View, click 
Start, click Control 
Panel, click Network 
And Internet Connec- 
tions, and then click 
Network Setup Wizard. 
Click Next, click Next 
again, select the This 
Computer Connects To 
The Internet Through 
A Residential Gateway 
Or Through Another 
Computer On My Net- 
work radio button, and 
click Next. Click the 
entry for the connec- 
tion you want to use (this usually begins 
with "Local Area Connection") and 
click Next. Give the computer a descrip- 
tion and a name, click Next, and enter 
the workgroup name that all of the 
other computers on the network use 
(this must be the same for all com- 
puters, or they won't be able to see one 
another). Click Next, select the Turn On 
File And Printer Sharing radio button, 
click Next, click Next again, select the 
Just Finish The Wizard radio button, 
click Next, and click Finish. Restart the 
computer and proceed to the next step. 

Step 6: 

Connect To The File Server 

Leave the file server running and 
boot another computer connected to 
your home network. Double-click My 
Computer, open the Tools menu, and 
click Map Network Drive. 

In WinXP, use the drop-down list to 
select a drive letter you want to asso- 
ciate with the network drive (we 


Name your network. 

le below. .All computers on your network 

Examples: HOME or OFFICE 





ISS^Ml Specifv ;-e c- ve etier for the connection and the folder 
1 that you want to connect to: 

1 Drive: 
1 Folder: 

S: ^pstairsV: 




1 1 

Example: '.'server '^hare 

[Reconnect at logon 
Zo"-"e:; .. s -z. ■= c "e-e- ; .. se- ■■-■"■ e. 
: z- .z ": : ■ "5 ::: ?:e : ::: — e:; ;o ■? 
network server. 

[ Cancel ] 

_: :.£ s-c.-—z and security 

S'"c''e :■" s ! : :e- "■":■■ ::~e- _se-s :~ :■' s ;:■":■-:=■' 
only, drag it tc re :■:■;: Z: :. -e";ts folder. 

O Make this folder private 

Network sharing and security 

T: s"e-e :■" s ': :e- ■.■::■" z:.- ■"=:.■.:■'; „se-s =■": ::~e- 
J^ ._;se-s :■ :■" s :::■-::-. ■.=-. see:: ■-e i -s: : - 5::< z:-: ze ::•: 
and type a share name. 

3-c-e :- s-: re- :- :-e ^e:w:-K 
Shane name: C 


All computers on the 
network must have the 
same workgroup name in 
order to "see" each other. 

Be consistent across all computers on your 
network when choosing a drive letter for 
the network drive to reduce confusion if 
multiple PCs will access the file server. 

Drives must be flagged as shared 
before other computers on the 
network can access their contents, 

selected S: to indicate 
it was a server drive), 
click Browse, click the 
entry for the server 
drive, click OK, and 
click Finish. If you 
don't want to connect 
to the drive itself, you 
can assign drive letters 
to any folder stored 
within it using this same procedure, 
making it easier to access or back up 
particular types of files. For example, 
you could create separate drive letters 
for the Pictures, Music, and Videos 
folders created previously so they ap- 
pear separately in My Computer. 
Repeat this step for all of the computers 
on your network, and now everyone on 
the network can access the file server. 

Take Control Of Your Data 

You've just created a simple file 
server, but there are plenty of other op- 
tions to explore. For ex- 
ample, you can add more 

storage space by using a program such 
as Acronis True Image ($49.99; www or Norton Ghost ($69.99; to copy every- 
thing from the original drive — Win- 
dows and all — to a larger drive, all 
without having to reinstall Windows. If 
the file server uses WinXP Professional, 
you can also consider implementing 
RAID (redundant array of independent 
disks) mirroring. This automatically 
copies data between pairs of hard drives 
so that if one drive fails, all of your data 
remains intact on the other drive, and 
you can simply replace the bad drive 
without losing any files. RAID typically 
requires expensive hardware, but 
WinXP Pro's Dynamic Disk technology 
lets you implement RAID using only 
software. When it comes to servers, the 
possibilities are nearly endless, so always 
look for new uses for your new toy. II 

by Tracy Baker 

Even a basic UPS (uninterruptible 
power supply), such as this APC 
Back-UPS ES BE550R, can keep the 
file server running for an hour or 
more if the power goes out, 
meaning you won't have to 
reboot the system. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 39 


Video Formats: 
Take One 

A Breakdown Of PC Video File Formats 

Compared to, say, five years 
ago, few PC applications 
have grown quite as explo- 
sively as video. Digital video cam- 
eras make it easy to capture and 
transfer home videos to your com- 
puter. Powerful computers with lots 
of memory let you store and play 
video files. And widespread broad- 
band access takes away the hassles of 
sending and receiving video over the 
Internet. Then why is it sometimes 
so darn difficult to get a video clip 
to play? 

The answer lies in the technology 
underlying video clips. Unlike its 
multimedia counterpart, audio, 
where MP3 is the de facto stand- 
ard file format, there's no over- 
whelmingly dominant video file 
type. Understanding the major 
categories and the common 
file formats that fall under 
these categories can help you 
get all your video clips run- 
ning smoothly. 

Streaming vs. 

As the name implies, stream- 
ing video streams, or transmits, 
into a user's computer. The file 
is stored not on your PC but 
elsewhere, such as on a Web 
site's server. When you select 
this file in your player (for ex- 
ample, most Web browsers have 
built-in video players that handle 
streaming content), what you're really 
doing is launching a metafile, or a se- 
ries of commands embedded in a file, 

that tells the player, "go here, find this 
video file, and play it." The video then 
plays as the file streams from the 
server; it never actually gets down- 
loaded to your PC. 

One of the most common stream- 
ing video formats comes from Real- 
Networks (, 
which pioneered streaming media. 
RealMedia files, which have an .RM 
or .RAM extension, typically con- 
tain a RealAudio (.RA extension) com- 
ponent, a RealVideo (.RV extension) 
component, and other information. 
Another common streaming video file 
format is ASF, or Advanced Systems 

Format (formerly known as Advanced 
Streaming Format and Active Stream- 
ing Format), which Microsoft devel- 
oped in the late 1990s. 

When you save a video file to your 
PC, however — perhaps one that was 
an email attachment or a file down- 
loaded from a Web site — it typically 
is of the nonstreaming variety. 
And here's where the picture gets 
even more complicated: Multiple 
companies have created multiple 
video file formats for multiple oper- 
ating systems. 

Consider Microsoft. It introduced 
the AVI (Audio-Video Interleaved) 
file format back in 1992, and AVI files 
are still in use today. (Remember 
the dancing baby? One of the first 
Internet fads was created and released 
online as an AVI file: Chacha.avi.) 
Fast forward a few years to when 
Microsoft releases WMV (Windows 
Media Video), a proprietary format 
used for storing (as well as streaming) 
video files. 

Other Video File Formats 

In addition, consider Apple. It 
created QuickTime, a video and 
sound playback program included 
in the Mac operating system. 
MOV and QT are two formats 
associated with QuickTime. 
However, Mac users aren't 
the only ones who can run 
QuickTime movies, because 
Apple has also created a ver- 
sion of QuickTime for PCs. 
And, if you have a MOV 
file or a QT file and no Quick- 
Time program, no worries. Other 
media players, such as Real- 
Player, can handle MOV and QT 
files. (Or you could download 
the free QuickTime player from 
Apple at www. apple. comquicktime 

At this point, you may 

be thinking that with all 

these file formats out 

there, it would be nice 

if someone had created 

40 January 2007 / 


Video Formats 

a video file format standard. Well 
it hasn't exactly happened yet, 
but MPEG (Moving Picture Experts 
Group) is a standards committee 
supported by the ISO (Interna- 
tional Standards Organization) 
that developed the (so far) six 
MPEG standards for digital video. 
Some of these standards are ei- 
ther now or are becoming widely 
used in specific digital audio and 
video situations. 

For example, MPEG-1 is a video 
compression technology often used in 
digital video cameras, for video clips 
posted on the Web, and for video 
CDs. If you have a file with an .MPG 
or .MPEG extension that you've 
found on the Internet, chances are 
good you're looking at this type of 
file. The quality isn't bad; it typically 
resembles that of VHS tapes. To find 
DVD quality in video, look to the 
MPEG-2 standard. MPEG-2 video 
compression is the technology behind 
commercially produced DVDs, as 
well as digital satellite television 
broadcasts, and it provides a crisp, 
clear playback. 

I Player ||__RjP Music Devices Performance Library 

Plug-ins Privacy Security File Types | DVD || N etwork 

Select the file types for which you want Vv'indov.s Media Player to 
be the default player. 

File types 



□ Windows Media Audio file Jwrina) 

□ Windows Media Video file [wmv) 

□ DVD Video 

□ Music CD Playback 

□ Windows video file [avi) 

□ Windows audio file (wav) 
Movie file fripeg) 

□ MP3 audio file Jinp3) 

□ MIDI file Cmidi) 

AIFF audio file Jaiff) 

l A 


~-e '■'.'■-co-: s Vede £ e :-?s r J -V---?;:s' -z-zs £ es •:.-.'(•: .asf .asx .v o 
.wm ,wmx .■■.nid , extensions. 

Windows Media Player is a media player that 
can handle multiple video file formats. 

Underlying these standards is 
what is known as a codec (com- 
pressor/decompressor), which is a 
combination of hardware or soft- 
ware designed to compress and 
decompress data for efficient play- 
back. For example, in order to play 
a DVD in a given media player, 
such as Windows Media Player or 

InterVideo WinDVD (www. inter, your PC will need to 
have the proper codec installed. 
Media players include codecs that 
will allow you to play, say, most 
MPG video files or DVDs based on 
the MPEG-2 standard. But if you 
receive an error message that the 
file is unplayable because of a 
missing or damaged codec, try play- 
ing the file in another media play- 
er or visit KC Softwares' Video- 
Inspector site (www.kcsoftwares 
.com/index.php?vtb) for help with 
identifying and installing codecs. 

Play On! 

The bottom line is that there are 
dozens of video file formats, and 
whether you can play a particular 
video file on your PC will depend 
upon your media player, such as 
Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. 
Check your player's Options or 
Preferences menu for a list of compat- 
ible file types. II 

by Heidi V.Anderson 

Multiple companies have created 
multiple video file formats for multiple operating systems. 

Video Format Recap 



The Skinny 

AVI (Audio-Video Interleaved) 


Released in 1992, AVI was one of the earlier video file 
formats for PCs. 

ASF (Advanced Systems Format) 


ASF is a format especially designed for streaming video files. 

MOV and QT (QuickTime Movie files) 


MOV and QT files were originally designed for playback 
on Macs, but some Windows applications now handle them. 

MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) 

Moving Picture Experts Group 

MPEG is the compression technology behind video CDs 
(MPEG-1) and DVDs (MPEG-2). 

RM (RealMedia) 


The RealMedia file format was developed by the pioneer 
of streaming media. 

WMV (Windows Media Video) 


This compression format is used in both streaming and 
downloadable video content. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 41 



Give Linux A Permanent Home 

•w" "W" o/a, amigos, and welcome to 
# ■ this month's installment on 
-A A. learning about el Linux. I 
don't have a mariachi band to sing 
my triumphs, but I will show you 
that having Linux permanently in- 
stalled on your PC is a fiesta you 
won't soon forget. 

I started with the Ubuntu Linux 
CD, which I downloaded and burned 
to a CD last month. With the Live 
CD, I was able to boot Ubuntu from 
the CD and spend some time vaca- 
tioning in the OS (operating system). 
But I quickly learned that Linux isn't 
just a nice place to visit; you'll want to 
stay there, too, if you give it a chance. 

Although I downloaded and pre- 
viewed Ubuntu from a PC running 
Windows XP, I thought it would be 
best to install Ubuntu on a separate 
computer. Although installing Ubuntu 
over WinXP is a perfectly acceptable 
(and according to whom you talk with, 
steadfastly encouraged) route to take, I 
preferred keeping a Windows machine 
on hand for certain important tasks 
Linux doesn't do so well, such as 
playing computer games. (Purely for 
research purposes, of course.) It's pos- 
sible to have a dual-boot system that 
puts Windows and Linux on the same 
PC, but that's a topic we'll visit in a 
later column. 

I turned on my trusty computer and 
placed the Ubuntu Live CD in my op- 
tical drive. My computer eventually 
read the disc and prompted me with 
options; I chose Start Or Install 
Ubuntu and pressed ENTER. (If 
you've been following along, you'll 
know that this loads Ubuntu from the 

CD.) Once Ubuntu loaded, I double- 
clicked the Install icon on the Desktop. 
Next, the Install dialog box opened. I 
left the language as English (even 
though the thought of Esperanto 
Linux is awfully tempting) and clicked 
Forward. The installation wizard 
guided me through a few simple steps 
such as setting a date and time, se- 
lecting keyboard layout, and choosing 
how the installer would partition my 
hard drive for the installation. (Don't 
forget to write down your username 
and password; you'll need them later.) 
I clicked Install after completing all 
of the setup steps, kicked back, and 
let Ubuntu acquaint itself with my 
hard drive. 

Ubuntu notified me that the instal- 
lation was complete, and I clicked 
Restart Now to run Ubuntu from my 
hard drive, which is far faster than 


f>"\ You can install 45 updates 

Software updates correct errors, eliminate security 
vulnerabilities and provide new features. 



Version of 'host' bundled with BIND 9.X 

New version: 1:9.3. Z-Zubuntul.l (Size: 108k) 



GNU cpio -- a program to manage archives of files 

New version: 2.6-10ubuntu0.2 (Size: 94.0k) 



Clients provided with BIND 

Download size: 90, 8M 
Show details 

6 Check y Install Updates 



Almost everything you've come to know 
and love (or hate) on Windows XP has a 
Linux equivalent including updating your 
operating system. 

using the Live CD. At Ubuntu' s wel- 
come screen, I entered my username 
and password to continue. 

There's a very good chance that, as 
with WinXP, you'll have updates to 
download immediately after Ubuntu 
loads for the first time. For example, 
Ubuntu displayed a small bubble that 
notified me I needed to install 
updates, and a small icon in the 
upper-right corner kindly explained 
I needed 45 updates. I clicked this 
icon, entered my password, and 
clicked OK. Ubuntu scanned my 
system and presented me with the 
updates; I clicked Install Updates to 
continue. I clicked Restart to apply 
the changes. And you thought Linux 
was tough. 

And now that we have Ubuntu 
Linux permanently installed and hap- 
pily humming along on our systems, 
I'll spend next month with Open- 
Office. org's suite of office programs 
and explain why everyone who buys a 
copy of Microsoft Office is better off 
writing me a check for $399.99. 

And before I leave you thirsting for 
more Linux knowledge for another 
month, I thought I'd mention that 
I've experienced a rather odd phe- 
nomenon since starting my expedi- 
tion into the Linux world: regular 
reader response email. Although 
I've yet to receive a "Your 'Learning 
Linux' column has changed my life!" 
email, some of you have written po- 
lite, thoughtful emails with your 
Linux suggestions. 

With the teeming number of Linux 
distros and piles of available programs, 
I could easily fill every page of Smart 
Computing with Linux tips and tricks 
(Editor's Note: We just dont want to. 
No offense, Vince.), let alone a single 
page. I can't cover everything, but I'll 
occasionally include a particularly 
useful nugget of information from 
you, the reader, so keep 'em coming. 

Then again, if "Learning Linux" has 
changed your life, don't be afraid to 
let me know. II 

by Vince Cogley 

42 January 2007 / 



Enhance Your Time Online 

Read & Release Your Books 

Problem: Great books 
seem to have a life of their 
own. Is there a site that 
speaks to this? 
Solution: Usually people 
who love to read books 
also love to share the expe- 
rience of a great page- 
turner. A wonderfully 
unique way to share a book 
can be found at the site 
BookCrossing ( Take one 
of your books, tag it with 
a BookCrossing number 
(BCID) on the inside, reg- 
ister that ID on this site, 
and then release the book 
in the wild: Give it to a 
friend, donate it to a li- 
brary, or just leave it at a 
doctor's office or cafe. The 
idea is that when someone 
else finds the book, he can 
use the BCID to track the 
book's journey and write a 
review about it. Over 3.4 
million books have been 
registered so far. 

Nothing eVentured, 
Nothing Gained 

Problem: I'm thinking 
about starting my own 

business. What online re- 
sources are at my disposal? 
Solution: MBA students 
are well aware of the 
Kauffman Foundation, a 
nonprofit whose mission 
is to foster "economically 
independent individuals." 
This foundation's site 
( has 
plenty of information 
about entrepreneurial re- 
sources and grants. If 
you're looking for much 
more detailed tools and 
templates for starting a 
business, the Kaufmann 
Foundation has a more 
interactive site: e Venturing 
( . 
Filled with real-world 
stories, essays, how-tos, 
and the now- requisite 
blogs, this is an essential 
stop on the start-up's 
path to success. 

Problem: There are a lot of 
places in the news I've 
heard of, but I'm not sure 
exactly where they are. 
Solution: The world does 
seem to be getting more 
and more geopolitical. 

A must-see site for 
entrepreneurs and 
anyone else 
interested in the 
nitty-gritty of 
starting and 
running a 

Whether you are 
looking to give or 
looking to learn, this 
site can keep you 
informed on the 
financial health of 
major American 

And just because you do 
know where Israel is (or 
just because you can 
Google it), doesn't mean 
that issues like the 
Israeli/Lebanese border 
conflict can't use some ad- 
ditional visual explana- 
tion. The University of 
Texas has a helpful feature 
on its UTOPIA site 
called Maps In The News. 
The maps are rather self- 
explanatory; it's just nice 
to have them all in one 

Too Many Charities 

Problem: I want to donate 
to a good charity, but there 
are so many: How do I 
know which ones have the 
greatest need? 
Solution: Good for you for 
wanting to give, and good 
for you for wanting to be 
informed about giving. 
Charity Navigator 
.org) is the site you want. 
Ratings and rankings for 
over 400 charities can be 
found here arranged in a 

multitude of ways, in- 
cluding lists such as 10 
Super- Sized Charities, 10 
Charities Shrinking In A 
Hurry, and 10 Charities 
Routinely In The Red. The 
tips and resources are also 
worth a glance, as they 
offer info on best practices 
of donors and how to 
avoid online scams. 


Problem: Is there a way to 
test for color blindness on 
the Web? 

Solution: While any serious 
medical concerns should 
always be discussed with 
your doctor, if you are in- 
terested in learning about 
the condition of being 
color-blind, take a look at 
the Colorblind HomePage 
There you will find digital 
representations of the stan- 
dard color vision test where 
colored shapes and num- 
bers are "hidden" in a field 
of dots. You can also find 
a truly eye- opening series 
of images that show how 
a color-blind person sees 
the world. II 

Smart Computing / January 2007 43 




Winter Web Surfing 


The United States EPA (Environ- 
mental Protection Agency) has some 
great information about winter 
weather. To find the Winter Storms 
section, click More in the main page's 
Quick Finder and then click Winter 
Storms at the bottom of the page. 
Check out the Around Your Home 
area's information about carbon 
monoxide poisoning and the American 
Heart Association's Snow Shovel Safety 
Tips article. Don't miss the General 
Winter Tips link on the main Snow 
And Ice page. The Winter Tips page 
has instructions for conserving energy 
and protecting your health during the 
winter months. 


Winter weather means winter gear: 
boots; warm pants and jackets; and (if 
you're a winter hiker) tents, sleeping 
bags, and backpacks. L.L.Bean's Web 
site has all of these and is almost as im- 
pressive as its main store in Freeport, 
Maine. You'll find several digital de- 
partments, including Outdoor Gear & 
Apparel and Home & Outdoor Living. 
Of course, there's more to the site than 
gear. Click the Explore The Outdoors 
tab to find tips for outdoor activities 
and the Park Search engine, which 
covers parks around the world. 


The NSIDC (National Snow And Ice 
Data Center) Web site is more exciting 

than you might expect. Start your tour 
with the photo gallery's pictures of 
snowstorms and avalanches (don't 
miss the picture of a man standing next 
to the top of a telephone pole, thanks 
to a particularly bad snow storm) and 
then take a look at The Cryosphere sec- 
tion. We like the All About Snow, 
Avalanaches, And Blizzards area of The 
Cryosphere: It has some great snow 
trivia and links to winter storm safety 
information. Other interesting collec- 
tions include the Arctic Climatology 
And Meteorology Primer section and 
the Cryosphere Glossary. 

If you haven't already chosen your 
ski resort destinations for the winter, 
stop by this site and check out its huge 
collection of ski resort maps. You can 
browse hundreds of maps in a fraction 
of the time you'd spend looking up 
each resort's site. And because ski re- 
sort maps generally use the same 
black, blue, and green codes to indi- 
cate slope skill level, you can easily 
spot the resorts that are best suited to 
your family's skiing skills. 


SkiNet's tagline, "Gear, Travel, 
Action," sums up its three focuses. If 
your circle of friends goes back and 
forth about which are the best ski 
boots, goggles, helmets, and skis, you'll 
love the Featured Gear articles and the 
Gear Finder section. The Travel and 
Real Estate sections have some great 

Compiled by Joshua Gulick 
Illustrated by Lindsay Anker 

photo galleries of resorts across the 
United States. The main page's Snow 
Ticker rotates a long list of resorts and 
the measurements of their base snow 
depth and recent snowfalls. You can 
click any slope to see more detailed in- 
formation about the resort's open lifts 
and percentage of open slopes. 

Those of us who follow the birds 
south every winter find that we have to 
adjust to a new scene each year. Sure, 
you'll probably winter in the same city 
as you did the year before, but by the 
time you arrive next December, many 
new businesses will have opened, and 
some of your favorite shops and 
restaurants may have closed. Web sites 
such as help you 
transition into your temporary home 
each year. Click the Business Directory 
and Bed & Breakfast links to find busi- 
nesses and services in snowbird states. 
There are also categories that offer in- 
formation about RV parks, condos, 
and time-shares. Visitors who have 
poor eyesight will love the site's large, 
easy-to-see fonts. 

Snowbird Resources 

Come to Florida, enjoy the sun- 
shine, feed the alligators — er, scratch 
that last bit. Whether you're planning 
to live in Florida during the winter or 
are still considering it, you'll find an- 
swers to many of your questions here. 
The site offers listings for Florida 
businesses, realtors, home builders, 
and tourist attractions. It also has im- 
portant information about hurricanes 
and a Snowbird Bulletins page that 
lets visitors post messages and ads. Be 
sure to check out the site's pictures of 
Flordia birds, bugs, sea life, and wild- 
life. Also, don't forget to click the 
Swim With The Manatees link on the 
main page. The link opens the Capt. 
Mike's Sunshine River Tours Web 
site, which has some unforgettable 
free video of people swimming with 
some playful manatees. 

44 January 2007 / 


Find It Online 



To You 

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


Talk about gear, slopes, and great 
ski trips with this group. Because 
this is a moderated group, you'll 
find only clean, on-topic messages. 
This is a great example of Usenet 
done right. 


A ski resort can make or break your 
ski trip this winter, so be sure to 
find out what other skiers think of 
your destination plans. 


Fellow snowboarders are already 
chatting about slopes and gear, and 
they all know the sport's 
terminology. Apparently, 
bindings are good 
things in the 
snowboarding and 
skiing worlds. 

Share The Wares 

Some of the best apples in the online orchard are the free (or free to try) pro- 
grams available for download. Each month we feature highlights from our 
pickings. This month, we introduce you to the wonderful world of widgets. 

Yahoo! Weather Widget 

Is today a light or heavy jacket day? You'll know before you read your 
first email of the morning if you have the Yahoo! Weather Widget, which is 
a small, graphical program that lets you check the week's local weather 
forecast at a glance. A large icon (such as a sun, clouds, or rain drops) at 
the top left of the widget indicates the current weather, while several 
smaller icons let you know what the next several days are likely to bring. 

The Weather Widget also displays today's (and the week's) tempera- 
tures and links to's 6-10 Day Forecast for your area. The 
widget won't get in your way while you work, as you can minimize it to the 
System Tray and open it again with just a few clicks. It downloads the 
latest weather information over your Internet connection. 

To use the Weather Widget, you'll need to install the Yahoo! Widget 
Engine, which has sev- 
eral built-in widgets, in- 
cluding the Weather 
Widget. (Once you in- 
stall the Widget Engine, 
you can also download 
many more widgets 
from Yahoo!.) Don't 
worry about Desktop 
clutter, though, as you 
can easily hide all of the 
widgets and then open 
them one at a time 
when you need them. 

Downloading and in- 
stalling Yahoofs Widget 
Engine is easy enough: 
Click the Download Yahoo! Widget Engine 
For Windows button and then follow the 
prompts. When the installation completes, 
the Yahoo! Widget Engine displays several 
widgets on your Desktop. You can hide any 
widget by right-clicking it and then clicking 
Close Widget. 

To resize the Weather Widget window, click the bottom of the widget 
and then click the minus (-) or plus (+) icons when they appear. 

The icons can reduce the window so that it displays only to- 
day's weather info or expand it so you can see the entire 
week's forecast at once. You can also change the win- 
dow's transparency in the Yahoo! Weather 
Preferences menu (right-click anywhere in the 
window and then click Widget Preferences). 
The Yahoo! Widget Engine is free and supports 
Windows 2000/XP. II 

Smart Computing / January 2007 45 

In case your Desktop isn't 
cluttered enough already, 
Yahoo! offers widgets. We're 
particularly fond of the one 
that lets us check the weather 
without leaving our desks. 

M r 

Modem's Desktop 

Mr. M's Favorite Web Sites Of 2006 

Happy New Year! Can 
you believe that it's 2007? 
It seems only a year 
ago that I stood alone on a 
windswept bluff overlooking 
the ocean, my remaining hair 
blowing freely in the salty spray, 
as white- capped surf pounded the 
craggy cliffs below me. With my 
lovely wife, Catherine Zeta, by my 
side, we raised our glasses in a 
toast to humanity, accompa- 
nied by our solemn prayer for 
love, health, and whirled peas 
throughout the coming year. 

As long-time readers know, 
each January, in a tradition that dates 
back to 1954 and my first column for Smart Computing — 
though in those days it was called Shrewd Vacuum Tubing — 
it is my pleasure to start the year off by presenting an 
eclectic smorgasbord of Web sites that caught my attention 
during the past year. Cheers! 

Accomplishments (tinyurl. com/uchx) 

The formal name of this site is "Things Other People 
Accomplished When They Were Your Age." If your self- 
esteem is too high and you're feeling pretty good about 
yourself and your life's accomplishments, enter your age 
and you'll be instantly humbled by the accomplishments of 
your chronological peers. By age 12, Albert Einstein had 
taught himself Euclidean geometry. When I was 12, I was 
still trying to figure out which mitten went on which hand. ( 

If you believe spice is nice, or you're just wild about saf- 
fron, this is a great place to learn about cumin, turmeric, 
Posh, frankincense, and much, much myrrh. Research any 
spice to discover its origins or uses or to find a recipe. 

CoolQuiz Trivia ( 

Did you know that a comet's tail always points away from 
the sun? Or that a dime has 118 ridges around the edge? Or 
that a young eel is called an elver, and two elvers equal one 
Elvis? OK, maybe not, but here you'll find quizzes, puzzles, 
humor, trivia, and many semi- interesting facts that you can 
use to annoy your friends and family. 

Dancescape ( 

Everything you could possibly want to know about the 
dance lifestyle, culture, and entertainment. Includes all dance 
styles from the Argentine Tango to Flamenco, from Folk 

Dancing to Hip Hop and Line Danc- 
ing, and the event for which Mr. 
Modem won a bronze metal at 
the 1976 Summer Olympics — 
Synchronized Clogging. 


Fast-Food Nutritional Data 
(www. nutritiondata. com) 

Have you ever wondered about the 
nutritional value, if any, of the quasi- edi- 
bles available from fast-food restaurants? 
Under this site's Fast Food Facts link, 
you'll find everything you never wanted to 
know about the sodium, cholesterol, trans, 
and saturated fats in all of your formerly favorite 
foods. For example, a light lunch consisting of a Burger 
King Whopper with cheese, an order of fries (French or 
Freedom), and a chocolate milkshake tips the scales at a belt- 
bustin', artery-cloggin', paramedic- callin' 73 grams of fat and 
1,450 calories. 

Food Timeline ( 

This site is a serious effort to put fun into social studies 
and is cross-referenced against such authoritative resources 
as the Oxford Companion to Food, the Cambridge World 
History of Food, and Mr. Modem's Guide to Keyboard- 
Friendly Computer Snacks. What did the Vikings eat, 
knowing that they shouldn't plunder on an empty stomach? 
How did Thomas Jefferson make ice cream? (And why? Was 
there no Chunky Monkey available at the Monticello Tom 
& Jerry's?) Who invented the potato chip? And which came 
first, the dip or the chip? Impress your friends by whipping 
up a batch of ancient Roman sausage, circa 500 BC. Be sure 
to dial IX-I-I if anybody feels queasy. 

"I Love You" in Languages ( 

Learn how to say "I love you" in scores of languages. I do 
urge caution, however. I once whispered, "Ya tabe kahayu," 
to Mrs. Modem, but she thought I was having a stroke. 

From Mrs. Modem (yes, the former Catherine Zeta 
Pfluglehammer, of the Sedalia Pfluglehammers), we wish 
you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2007. Let's make it 
our best computing year ever! II 

by Mr. Modem 

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

46 January 2007 / 


Smart Computing Online 

Take A Look At The 

Manufacturer Index 

Technology can be a wonder- 
ful thing. But what happens 
when your computer, router, or 
software acts up? How are you 
going to fix it? Better yet, whom 
can you contact to fix it? When 
you need to contact a manufac- 
turer for tech support, but can't 
find the pertinent information, look 

no further!'s Tech Support Center 
provides contact data for a wide array of manufacturers. 

1 Go to and click the Tech 
Support Center link. 

2 Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the 
Manufacturer Tech Support Index link under the Other 
Helpful Tech Support Tools section. 

Other Helpful Tech Support Tools 

Tips For Using Browsers & Email 

Computing Dictionary & Encyclopedia 

List Of File Extensions With Expli 

Manufacturer Tech Support Index 

October 2005 PC Novice The INSTANT ANSWER Book For Your PC fMft 
- -- ... 

issue. Articles are written in a concise j -' -i i - = - li it ion format. 

* Daily Section 

The Internet is a veritable fountain of 
(sometimes useless) knowledge, and 
there's always a new site to visit. 
Check out some of our favorite fun 
sites by clicking the link under Fun 
Site in the 
Daily section. Maybe you'll pick up 
a fact or two that'll come in handy 
in Final Jeopardy!. (If so, take note 
of our mailing address and send us 
a cut of your winnings.) 

When you have a problem and call your 
friendly Smart Computing tech support rep 
for help, be truthful. Everybody makes silly 
mistakes, and they're often easy to make, 
so own up to them. Think like Honest 
Abe. We're not here to judge, only to 
help. (And keep in mind that no matter 
how silly your mistake, you can't pos- 
sibly have done anything that we 
haven't done.) 

Manufacturer Tech Support Index 

. -: : . v 
iJaill::: :-. .ih MA 01752-3064 
(508) 323-5000 
iju ". i | roduct mqueries 

hit:: . ..- :;;""; :■::--. 

110 North Milwaukee A'.enue 

In -i 22-4017 

( 77 3: 362-0291 customer support 

3 Manufacturers are listed alphabetically, so you can find 
contact information quickly and easily. Each manufacturer 
listing includes a URL, phone number, and street address. 

4 Be sure to check out the 
links at the bottom of the 
page, as well. The links will 
connect you to Microsoft's 
vendor contact informa- 
tion lists, which are quite 
extensive and contain a 
wealth of information 
in one easy-to-navigate 

The next time your router 
is on the fritz or your soft- 
ware isn't working properly, 
check out the Manufacturer 

Tech Support Index, contact the manufacturer directly, and 
get the answers you're looking for. 


ABS Computer Technologies, Inc. 

: - ■ ' land Street 
City of Industry, CA 91748-1205 
2641 Orchard Parkway 
:?-..e : CA 95134 
(300:733-2237 customs, semes 
(300: 316-2237 technical support 

When researching solutions or searching for man- 
ufacturer contact information, remember that 
company names often change. Two compa- 
nies may merge, or perhaps another 
manufacturer bought it out (Google 
has a tendency to do so frequently). 
Press releases can often be the keys 
that unlock these mysteries. 

Calling a tech support line can be a bit of a crapshoot — 
sometimes things go swimmingly, while ~* l 
times you hang up the phone wanting t 
pull your hair out. Read the results of a 
little experiment we conducted to see 
how a good number of major compa- 
nies stood up to our requests for help. 
Remember, though, that experiences can \ 

vary and that some time has passed since " 

we wrote this article. (We're planning to revisit the tech 
support question in our February issue.) 


Smart Computing / January 2007 47 



No Power At All 

What To Do When Your System Refuses To Start . . 50 

Errors, Errors, Everywhere 

Resolve Error Messages That Prevent 

Windows From Loading 53 

Beep, Blip, Blip, Beep 

What To Do When Your PC 

Will Only Beep At You 57 

Stumbling Out Of The Gate 

Windows Starts But Locks Up 

Or Displays Error Messages 60 

Stop The Starting 

Troubleshoot A Computer 

That Continually Restarts 62 

Troubleshoot A Running PC 
With A Blank Monitor 

A Step-By-Step Approach To Initialize A Display ... 65 

We build our lives on expectations. When we flip on 
a light switch, we expect the room to get bright. 
When we turn the key in the ignition, we expect 
the motor will roar to life. When we press the 
power button on a computer, we expect that the operating system 
will appear on-screen. And when the expected does not happen, we 
. . . well, some of us freeze, some of us panic, and some of us gather 
our wits and prepare to fix the problem. 

The first step in restoring an expectation is to figure out specifi- 
cally what went wrong. It's not enough to say the lights won't work 
or the car won't start or the computer is on the blink. We have to 
determine whether a light bulb has burned out or a fuse is blown, 
whether we're out of gas or the battery is dead, whether a cord is 
unplugged or the hard drive has crashed. Fortunately, making this 
kind of determination is rather simple, even when it involves a PC. 

My Computer Won't Start 


Defining Failure 

Finding the specific cause of a failed boot in- 
volves some detective work. Take note of every- 
thing that happens during the failed boot from 
the moment you press the power button to the 
moment the boot routine grinds to a sudden halt. 
Write these details, including the full text of any 
error messages you see, on a piece of paper so 
that you can refer to them later. 

The first detail you should note is when the boot 
failure occurred. Boot failures can occur at four 
points during the startup routine: when the power 
button is pressed; after the power button is pressed 
but before the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System; a 
set of instructions that activates the system hard- 
ware and loads the OS [operating system] each time 
you boot the PC) runs; after the BIOS runs but be- 
fore Windows starts; and after Windows starts. 

Extreme failure. You press the power button 
and nothing happens. While an unresponsive PC 
represents the extreme in failures, it doesn't neces- 
sarily portend a costly repair job or whole system 
upgrade. The solution to this kind of problem — 
which usually indicates a power failure at some 
level — often involves no money and less than 30 
seconds of effort. The important thing is to remain 
calm so that you can proceed through the short list 
of particular causes and find the one to blame. See 
page 50 for help with power issues. 

Signs of life. A computer that, at first glance, 
appears to be unresponsive may actually exhibit 
several signs of life. Pay attention to LED lights 
that flicker on the front of the computer or mon- 
itor and beeps or whirring noises from inside the 
case. These signs indicate the computer is getting 
power but that it can't do anything with it. 

That's the good news. The bad news is that 
these symptoms correspond to some very serious 
hardware issues. You may have to replace one or 
more of the PC's core components, such as the 
processor or motherboard, to resolve the issue. 
Refer to the documentation that came with your 
computer or contact the computer manufacturer 
for assistance in deciphering the symptoms and 
treating the problem. See page 57 for more infor- 
mation about beep codes. 

BIOS fear. The most important bit of code in- 
side your system exists inside a memory chip sol- 
dered to the motherboard. This is the BIOS. 
Without it, your computer is just a pile of parts. 

Under normal operating conditions, the BIOS 
does its thing during the first few seconds of the 
boot routine. It makes sure the hardware is func- 
tional and, more importantly, launches the OS. If 

the BIOS cannot perform its 
various tasks or is unable to 
communicate with the OS, how- 
ever, the boot routine will grind 
to a halt before Windows starts. 
See page 53 to find out how you 
should respond in this situation. 

Broken Windows. You can 
breathe a sigh of relief when the 
Windows logo or Desktop ap- 
pears on-screen. That means the PC's core system 
components are functioning well enough to boot 
the system — and that the BIOS was able to com- 
municate with the OS. The startup routine isn't 
over yet, though. 

Each time you boot into Windows, it loads dri- 
vers (programs that allow hardware to communi- 
cate with the rest of the system), system settings, 
and various applications as part of its own startup 
routine. Disruptions that occur during this se- 
quence may cause Windows to freeze up, error 
messages to appear, or even the computer to re- 
boot automatically. See pages 60, 62, and 65 for 
in-depth discussions of these problems. 

Whatever happens, the resolution is likely to in- 
volve booting into Safe Mode so you can identify 
the troublemaker. You can boot into Safe Mode 
by holding down the F8 key as the computer starts 
and selecting Safe Mode from the resulting startup 
menu. In a worst-case scenario, you may need to 
reinstall Windows or upgrade the hard drive. 
Make sure you have a recent backup of important 
data files before undertaking either task. 

Let's Get It Started 

Whatever the circumstances surrounding a 
particular boot failure, the important thing is to 
address the issue immediately. Refer to the 
product documentation that came with your 
computer, contact the computer manufacturer's 
support resources, and read the following articles 
for step-by-step guidance in resolving the 
problem. And take heart: You will get your PC 
up and running again. II 

by Jeff Dodd 

An unresponsive PC may need a new 
power supply. You can get one with 
plenty of juice for an average price of 
$50 to $100. A 350-watt model from is shown here. 

An ailing motheboard 
not only interferes 
with the startup 
routine but it also 
may require an 
investment in new 
hardware. If you plan 
to replace an existing 
motherboard with a 
new one like the ABIT 
LGA 775 (www.abit- shown 
here, you should plan 
on purchasing a new 
processor, power 
supply, and system 
memory, as well. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 49 

My Computer Won't Start 





50 January 2007 / 

Your PC won't power on. You've coaxed, cajoled, and 
threatened, but it won't budge, and your stomach is 
doing flips as you contemplate the damage your PC 
has somehow incurred between now and yesterday, when it 
was working perfectly. As nerve-wracking as it is when your 
computer won't power on, you're probably facing a much less 
serious (well, easier to fix) problem than the person who suc- 
cessfully powers on her PC, only to find that Windows can't 
properly load. In a worst-case scenario, you'll need to spend 
money on repairs, but it's much more likely that you're facing 
a minor problem and will be computing in a few minutes. 

Grab The Right Guide 

We kick off this guide by covering the most likely problems 
and then delving into less common issues and difficult-to- 
troubleshoot problems. Before we begin, let's make sure we're 
on the same page — your computer doesn't appear to have any 
power at all; the light at the front of your PC (assuming your 
computer has a light) doesn't turn on; you're not hearing any 
noise from your computer; and nothing appears on the screen. 
If your computer powers on but doesn't seem to send any im- 
ages to your monitor, see "Troubleshoot A Running PC With 
A Blank Monitor" on page 65. If you hear beeps, your com- 
puter has power and may be trying to tell you what's wrong 
with it, so skip to "Beep, Blip, Blip, Beep" on page 57. 

We recommend that you follow these questions in order. 
After following each question's suggestions, try to power on 
your PC by pressing the front panel power button. 

^^ Is the power cord loose? 

A A loose power cord is usually the problem that prevents 
your computer from starting. Push the cable's prongs 
firmly into the power strip or wall outlet so that you can't 
see the prongs at all. Give the end that attaches to the PSU 
(power supply unit) a good shove, too — you won't damage 
anything by pushing too hard. 

Even cables that have connector lock mechanisms, such as 
monitor cables, manage to work themselves free from time 
to time. In fact, if you have a computer that is normally very 
quiet, it's worth it to check the monitor cable connections. If 
this cable is loose, your computer may be powering on just 
fine and simply be unable to get the image signal to your 
monitor. (This situation has fooled us on more occasions 
than we care to mention.) 

\^ Have you checked the power supply's switch? 

AWhile you're pushing your computer's power cable into 
the PSU, check to see if the power supply has a power 
switch. Many power supplies have an On/Off switch that lets 

My Computer Won't Start 


you kill power to the PC without removing the 
cable. If your PC's PSU has a switch, push the end 
marked with an | so that the end marked O ex- 
tends from the PC. You don't need to open your 
computer to find the PSU's power switch. If your 
PSU has a switch, it will be on the end of the PSU 
at the back of your computer. 

\^ Is your surge protector functioning? 

A As with the computer's power cord, you'll 
want to make sure that the surge protector is 
firmly plugged into your wall outlet. Many surge 
protectors also have power switches that let you 
kill power to all of the devices attached to the 
surge protector without unplugging it from the 
outlet. This switch is commonly the culprit, as 
it's easy to bump the switch with your feet. 

Damage can also cause your surge protector to 
stop functioning. If you suspect a problem with 
the surge protector, check to see whether other 
devices that plug into it can power on. Your surge 
protector may even include lights that indicate 
whether the unit has experienced a power surge. 
If you're not sure what your protector's lights 
mean, visit the unit manufacturer's Web site and 
look for your model's manual. APC's (American 
Power Conversion's) Web site (, 
for example, has a Search User Manuals feature 
that lets you easily track down and view the in- 
structions for your APC surge protector. 

\^ Is your wall outlet functioning? 

A Unplug your power strip and then plug a de- 
vice directly into your wall outlet to deter- 
mine whether the outlet is the source of the 
power failure. Some wall outlets have a GFCI 
(ground fault circuit interrupter) that will cut the 
power if tripped by a power surge or other 
hazard. GFCI outlets generally have Test and 
Reset buttons — the Test button also kills the 
power from the outlet. Make sure that the out- 
let's GFCI feature isn't blocking power by first 
pressing the Test button and then pressing the 
Reset button. The Reset button won't return to 
its previous height once you press it in — this 
means the GFCI feature is armed. The GFCI 
should let power through the outlet at this point. 
Keep in mind that a GFCI wall outlet protects 
any other outlets that are downstream from it. 
These other outlets may not have the GFCI Reset 

and Test buttons. If your outlet doesn't 

work but doesn't have Reset and 

Test buttons, check the other 

nearby outlets to see if an 

upstream GFCI outlet is 

preventing power from 

reaching the wall outlet 

that feeds your computer. 

Press the Reset button to re 

store power to all of the outlets 

on that line. 

Also, make sure your wall outlet's power 
supply isn't at the mercy of a nearby light switch. 
If the switch is connected to your outlet, 
someone may have thrown the switch when she 
walked out of the room. 

\^ Has the fuse blown? 

A Check your home's fuse box or circuit 
breaker box if you discover that multiple wall 
outlets aren't supplying power. Blown fuses (in 
older houses) and tripped circuits (in newer 
homes) aren't uncommon, so if you've lived in 
the home for long, you've probably already 
learned how to restore power when a fuse or cir- 
cuit trips. If you're looking at your fuse or circuit 
breaker box for the first time, be sure to consult 
any manuals or an electrician. Circuit breaker 
boxes are generally very easy to use — once you lo- 
cate the breaker that handles the area of your 
home in which your computer sits, you simply 
flip the switch. However, if your circuit breaker 
box isn't well labeled, you may need to enlist the 
help of a friend who can stand near the PC and let 
you know when you've flipped the correct switch. 

Entering Your PC 

Until this point, we've managed to trouble- 
shoot the power problem without cracking open 
your computer. If you've reached this step 
without any success, you need to check some 
components inside 
your PC. To that 
end, you'll need to 
take some basic pre- 
cautions that will 
protect you and your 
PC from static elec- 
tricity (which is leth- 
al to electronics) and 
larger shocks. Before 

Some surge 
protectors, such 
as this APC Personal 
SurgeArrest PER7, 
include a switch 
that can turn off 
the power supply 
(blocking power 
to any devices that 
are connected to it). 

Power supply 
testers aren't 
expensive and let 
you quickly 
determine whether 
the PSU (power 
supply unit) is the 
source of your PCs 
troubles. This sort of 
tool is worth picking 
up before your PC 
has problems. 


Smart Computing / January 2007 51 

My Computer Won't Start 


following any of the 
steps suggested in the 
remaining questions, re- 
move the power cable 
from your PC's power 
supply. Next, touch a 
piece of metal to dis- 
charge any static elec- 
tricity you've built up. 

Some power 

supplies have 

switches that let 

you cut power to 

your system. Make 

sure you haven't 

turned off your 

power supply. 

Don't panic 

if you've 

reached the 

end of this 



powering on 

your system. 

Now you're ready to operate. 

\^ Is the motherboard light on? 

A Most motherboards have a tiny LED (light- 
emitting diode) that lights up whenever the 
power supply is plugged into the motherboard, 
even if the computer is powered off. This light 
lets you know that your PC is in fact getting 
power. If you see this light, power isn't your 
computer's problem. Take a look at the other ar- 
ticles in this feature package to see if they can 
help solve your PC's issue. 

\^ Is the power button cable connected? 

A The power button at the front of your com- 
puter has a thin cable that runs into the front 
of your system, past the intake fans and hard 
drives, to your motherboard, where it attaches to 
two pins. The cable doesn't have any kind of 
locking mechanism to hold it in place, so if you've 
recently performed any repairs in your system, it's 
quite possible that you accidentally pulled the 
cable free from the motherboard's prongs. 

Open your case and find the front panel con- 
nectors, which are the prongs that stand up from 
the motherboard. The front panel connectors are 
usually in the lower- right corner of the mother- 
board, but manufacturers sometimes place them 
in other areas to accommodate special compo- 
nents. Although the front panel power switch 
cable only requires two prongs, you'll probably 
find about a dozen prongs in this area (the other 
prongs handle hard drive lights, reset switches, 
and the light on your PC's front panel). 

If you spot an unplugged cable, check its con- 
nector to see if it is the power switch cable (look 
for Power SW or PSW). If this cable is unplugged, 
check your motherboard: It may have labels that 
indicate which prongs support the power switch. 
In some cases, the motherboard won't have any 
labels. If you have such a motherboard, you'll 

need to check the motherboard manual, which 
has a diagram of the front panel connectors. 

Don't worry if you don't have the mother- 
board manual on hand. Note the motherboard's 
brand and model number, which probably ap- 
pears near the memory or between the PCI 
(Peripheral Component Interconnect) slots. The 
PCI slots are near the bottom-left corner of the 
motherboard. Next, visit the manufacturer's Web 
site from a different computer (libraries often 
have public PCs) and download the manual. 

If you don't have easy access to another com- 
puter, call Smart Computing's Tech Support 
Center at (800) 368-8304. We'll be happy to hunt 
down the manual for you (free). 

\^ Is the power supply functioning? 

A As with all other PC components, power 
supplies sometimes go bad. If your wall 
outlet and surge protector are healthy and the 
other troubleshooting steps haven't pinpointed 
the problem, you're probably facing a dead PSU. 
To determine for certain whether the power 
supply is the problem, visit your local computer 
shop and pick up a power supply tester, which 
will probably run between $7 to $20. The tester 
will include the same 20- or 24-pin connector 
that your power supply uses to power your 
motherboard. Follow the tester's instructions to 
check the power supply's health. 

If Nothing Works 

Don't panic if you've reached the end of this 
article without powering on your system. Al- 
though you can't fix the problem yourself, your 
computer isn't completely lost. A PC is a collec- 
tion of components, and it's unlikely that all of 
these parts are damaged, which means you're 
looking at a repair fee, rather than the cost of 
buying a brand-new PC. 

A local professional computer repair person 
has the equipment and experience needed to 
track down the parts that are damaged and re- 
place them with functioning components. If your 
hard drive is healthy, the technician may even 
manage to revive your existing Windows installa- 
tion (and all of the pictures and documents 
trapped inside). Keep your hopes up and your 
checkbook handy. II 

by Joshua Gulick 

52 January 2007 / 

My Computer Won't Start 





Dealing with a PC that seems to be starting up but 
stops before it can load Windows is one of the 
more frustrating situations a computer user can 
experience. At this point, you know your PC is receiving 
power, and you didn't hear any of the telltale beeps that 
often signal failure of critical hardware. Instead, you see an 
arcane, text-based message. Fortunately, these messages do 
have a rhyme and reason. Often (but not always), they indi- 
cate a minor problem. This article will help you figure out 
what that problem is. 

How It Works 

After you turn on your PC and it powers up, the BIOS 
(Basic Input/Output System; rudimentary hardware- 
control software burned into permanent memory on your 
PC) tests your PC's hardware configuration. If all tests pass, 
the boot phase begins. During the boot phase, a small 
amount of code (stored in the boot file) executes, reads 
stored information about your system and OS (operating 
system), and then loads various files and drivers that 
Windows needs to initiate startup. 

The boot file also switches your machine into a protected 
state and creates some of the underlying elements from 
which Windows will construct a functional operating 
system. Finally, it hands over control of the system to 

Often, if the BIOS detects a problem it will issue a series 
of beeps (for help with this issue, see page 57). Alterna- 
tively, it may issue a text-based error message instead. If the 
boot file finds problems or is unable to execute any portion 
of its routine, it will also generate a text-based message. A se- 
ries of questions can help you determine where the problem 
is occurring and how you can resolve it. 

If the text-based messages you see occur after quite a few 
seconds have passed, and they offer options that include Last 
Known Good Configuration or Safe Mode, they are letting 
you know that problems have occurred with Windows 
startup itself. We won't deal with Windows startup problems 
here. However, know that Last Known Good Configuration 
reverts Windows XP to the last successful startup. Selecting 
this will often solve a world of unknown ills. Safe Mode 
restarts your PC with minimal drivers installed and is a good 
choice if you have recently added new hardware that might 
be causing problems. 

Before You Begin 

A few pointers can make the diagnostic process more pain- 
less (and possibly even pain-free). First, leaving removable 
media in your PC can sometimes generate the error messages 
we discuss here. Before you begin troubleshooting, make sure 
there is no diskette in the A: drive and extract all removable 
media (USB keys, digital camera memory sticks, CDs, DVDs, 

Smart Computing / January 2007 53 

My Computer Won't Start 


Non-Systen disk or disk error 
Replace and strike any key when ready 

diskette in the A: 
drive, the system 
will generate a 
message and fail 
to boot. 

Recovery Console is 
your key to 
recovering from 
many errors. 

Unexpected Inter 

Viruses can alter 
your BIOS (Basic 
System) settings, 
resulting in this 
error message 
and rendering 
the system 

etc.) from your PC 
and restart. If the 
problem recurs, 
read on. 

Second, some of 
the solutions we 
present involve the 
BIOS. To enter BIOS setup, restart your PC and 
press the key that takes you into BIOS setup. 
(DELETE and ESC are common choices; if you 
don't know which key to press, refer to the in- 
structions that came with your computer or con- 
tact the manufacturer.) 

Finally, many of the operations that follow re- 
quire you to use the WinXP Recovery Console. 

Most PCs do not 
have this utility in- 
stalled by default. 
To access it, insert 
your WinXP Setup 
CD and restart the 
PC. When you see 
the prompt to 
press any key to 
boot from the CD, do so. When the Welcome To 
Setup screen appears, press R to start the 
Recovery Console. When Setup prompts you, 
provide the Administrator password. If you 
never assigned one, press ENTER. Setup will take 
you to a text-based operating mode. When you 
see the command prompt, follow the instruc- 
tions you'll see later in this article. 

If your PC does not let you access Recovery 
Console, your system likely came with WinXP 

installed and the 
original equipment 
manufacturer dis- 
abled that option. 
Check for a Recov- 
ery CD or similarly 
named CD and 
accompanying in 
structions detailing 
how to resolve startup problems. The Recovery CD 
probably will be an image of the drive as it left the 
factory. Therefore, it will allow you to restore the 
PC to its original state but probably wont allow 
you to follow most of the advice below. 

QDo you see a message stating Keyboard 
Error or No Keyboard Present? 

AWhile it's possible your keyboard is faulty, it's 
more likely (unless you recently spilled a cup 

icted Mode 

of coffee all over your desk) that the cable has be- 
come loose. First, make sure none of the keys on 
your keyboard are stuck. Then, turn off the PC, 
disconnect and reconnect the keyboard (making 
sure all the pins in the connector look straight and 
the connection is tight), and restart. If this doesn't 
resolve the problem, purchase a new keyboard — 
most models are quite inexpensive. 

QDo you see a message stating K/B 
Interface Error? 

A This message indicates a problem with the 
keyboard connector on the main system 
board (rather than with the keyboard itself). Try 
disconnecting and reconnecting your keyboard 
and restarting your PC. If this doesn't resolve the 
issue (which it probably won't), you'll need to 
take your PC in for service. 

QDoes the error message say Memory 
Parity Error, Memory Address Error, or 
contain the words "Parity" or "Memory"? 

A If so, you probably have a problem with the 
memory modules installed in your machine. 
Diagnosing memory problems can be compli- 
cated and requires you to open the cover of your 
machine and make physical adjustments to the 
hardware. If you are not comfortable doing this, 
or if doing so will void your warranty, have it 
professionally serviced. 

To proceed, shut down your PC and discon- 
nect the power cord. The PC should be in an 
accessible, well-lit location. If necessary, dis- 
connect your peripherals and move it. Remove 
any screws that secure the cover or side panel 
(depends on your PC; there may also be a clip to 
depress) so you can gain access to the PC's inte- 
rior. Before you begin working, touch something 
metal to discharge any static electricity in your 
body (this is very important — if you move from 
your current position, do that again). Locate the 
motherboard, a large, flat circuit board that may 
be aligned either horizontally or vertically de- 
pending on your system. 

Use the images in this article to identify the 
memory modules. There may be several empty 
memory slots, as well. If you have only one 
memory module, remove it. (There will be small 
retention clips on either side of the card that you 
depress or push back before you can extract the 
memory module.) Holding the module very care- 
fully by the side or top edges, reseat it in another 

54 January 2007 / 

My Computer Won't Start 


slot, pressing firmly but gently until the clips lock. 
Reconnect your monitor and power cord and 
restart your computer (you do not have to re- 
place the cover/side panel). If your PC boots nor- 
mally, there is a problem with the memory slot 
(or its connection to the motherboard) where 
your memory was previously. If the PC does not 
boot, turn off the PC, disconnect the monitor and 
power cord, and move the memory to another 
slot. Repeat this process until you have made sure 
that the memory module is faulty. 

If you have multiple memory modules, the 
process is similar, but you should remove all mod- 
ules and then retest each one in the same slot. If 
you isolate the one that doesn't work, replace that 
module. If all the modules work in the first slot, 
then one of your other slots is bad. If none of the 
modules work, test them in another slot to see if 
the modules or the slot is bad. If none of them 
work in other slots, try testing two like modules 
at a time (in some situations, memory modules 
must be installed in pairs). Keep swapping out 
modules and slots until you isolate the problem. 

If memory modules are the problem, replace 
them (take your bad memory module [s] and 
your PC's model number with you to the com- 
puter store). If slots are the problem and you can 
get the PC to work, you can continue operation 
but consider having the unit serviced fairly soon. 

QDoes your error message say Unexpected 
Interrupt In Protected Mode? 

A This message can occur if a virus or program 
has made incompatible changes to your BIOS. 
Enter BIOS Setup, and when it opens, look for a 
listing of F keys at the bottom that perform reset 
features. F6 and F5 are often used to reset the BIOS 
to conservative defaults. Fl should open a help 
utility. If you cannot find instructions for resetting 
the BIOS, check with the manufacturer of your 
BIOS (look at the Setup screen for details). 

This message can also appear if you are experi- 
encing internal problems, such as processor 
overheating or a faulty motherboard. If our solu- 
tion does not resolve the problem, have your ma- 
chine serviced. 

QDoes your error message say any of the 

Invalid media type 

Invalid System Disk 

General failure reading drive C: 

No Fixed Disk Present 
Current Drive No Longer Valid 
HDD Controller Failure 
Fixed Disk Controller Failure 

A If you see one of these messages (or anything 
involving the words "Fixed Disk," "System 
Disk," or "Drive"), it's possible that your hard 
drive is failing. If you have multiple drives and 
you have recently performed drive management, 
you may also have inadvertently changed or dis- 
abled your system drive. 

First, enter BIOS Setup and ensure it recognizes 
your drive correctly. To check for hard drive detec- 
tion, select Standard CMOS Features. Just beneath 
the date and time, look to see if CMOS lists your 
hard drive. (Your BIOS may be slightly different, 
but the interface should be similar). If it does not, 
the connections that attach your drive to the 
motherboard may be 
loose, or your drive 
may have failed. You 
should have your 
PC serviced. 

If it does, use the 
Windows Check- 
Disk utility to scan 

the hard drive. Enter the Recovery Console (use 
the Windows CD to start you computer; at the 
Welcome To Setup page, press F10 or R) and 
type chkdsk /f /r. This command checks your 
drive for errors and attempts to fix them and re- 
cover lost information. 

Most memory 
modules are black 
and green like the 
Swissbit module on 
the top, but some, 
like the GSkill 
modules at the 
bottom, now sport 
wild colors. 

NTLDR is nissing 

Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart 

You'll see this 
message if someone 
or something moves 
or corrupts a key 
boot file. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 55 

My Computer Won't Start 


Main Advanced Security Exit 

Drive A 1.44 ME • 

Drive B Nat Inst: 

■ Primary IDE Master User 

Not Inst: 

■ Secondary IDE MAster CDROM 

■ Secondary IDE Slave Not Inst 

CPUType Intel 4 CPU 

peed 500 MHz 
"'-• : Size 


[ Setjp Help ] 

:Select Item 
:Select Menu 

a Values 
: Select ► Su 

:Setup Defaults 
:Save & Exit 

Adjusting your 

BIOS settings can 

resolve some 

system errors. 

If your PC 

does not let 

you access 


Console, your 

system likely 

came with 


installed and 

the original 



disabled that 


If CheckDisk reports 
your drive is OK or 
is able to fix the errors, 
just restart WinXP. If 
WinXP doesn't restart, 
you may need to rein- 
stall the operating sys- 
tem. However, there is a 
small chance your prob- 
lem is due to missing 
boot files. Try the solu- 
tions in the next ques- 
tion and then skip to the "Final Solutions" 
section of this article if the problem recurs. 

If CheckDisk cannot resolve your problems, 
you probably need a new hard drive. Again, skip 
to "Final Solutions." 

QDo you see a message stating Operating 
System Not Found, Missing Operating 
System, or another message relating to 
your OS? 

A These messages often mean you have a dam- 
aged MBR (master boot record) or a dam- 
aged or missing boot sector (these components 
enable access to your drive). Viruses, programs, 
and even unwitting users can all affect the MBR 
and boot sector. Additionally, if your hard drive 
is starting to go bad, the boot sector may 
be failing. 

You can use the WinXP Recovery Console to 
check your hard drive for errors and to restore 
the MBR and create a new boot sector on your 
startup partition. (Note that if you see another 
error message when you attempt to run Recovery 
Console or these suggestions do not work, revert 
to the previous solution.) In Recovery Console, 
type chkdsk /f /r and press ENTER. This com- 
mand checks your disk for errors and attempts to 
fix them and recover lost information. 

After it completes, type fixmbr and press 
ENTER. Then, type fixboot and press ENTER. 
After this process completes, type Exit and then 
press ENTER to restart your PC. These proce- 
dures should resolve the problem. If they do not, 
skip to "Final Solutions." 

QDo you see a message that reads 
NTLDR Is Missing? 

ANTLDR (think NT Loader) is the first file 
that executes during the boot process. It 
performs a host of functions, including 

switching the processor to protected mode and 
providing access to hard drives formatted for 
Windows OSes. You can accidentally delete 
NTLDR, it can become corrupt, or it can be 
moved by the system if you or a program have 
been copying and deleting a lot of files to and 
from the root of your drive (the basic level, out- 
side of a folder — in other words, straight to C:). 
(Microsoft has confirmed that this behavior is a 
problem in Windows XP, both Home and 
Professional Editions.) 

You can restore NTLDR from the WinXP 
Setup CD by using Recovery Console. At the 
command prompt, type cd .. and press ENTER. 
Enter the letter of your CD-ROM drive (prob- 
ably D: unless you have multiple drives) and 
press ENTER. Type cd i386 and press ENTER. 
Type copy ntldr c: and press ENTER. Type copy c: and press ENTER. (Ntdetect 
.com is another boot file that, when missing, can 
generate the NTLDR error.) 

After the copy process completes, type Exit 
and press ENTER. Your PC will restart. If this so- 
lution does not resolve the issue, continue to 
"Final Solutions." 

Final Solutions 

If our solutions do not resolve your issues, or 
you see other text-based messages, insert your 
WinXP boot diskette (if you have one) and 
restart your PC. (If you do not have a bootable 
diskette, grab a blank floppy diskette and your 
WinXP Setup CD and head to the nearest PC 
with Internet access and a diskette drive. Visit for instruc- 
tions on creating your boot disk.) 

If you can boot into WinXP, make copies of 
any important files you do not have backed up. 
You can try to repair WinXP using the Setup CD. 
Instead of pressing R for Recovery Console, press 
ENTER to Setup WinXP. When Setup detects 
your existing installation, allow it to repair it. 
You should not lose any of your user settings or 
data, but it is a possibility. 

If you cannot repair WinXP, you can use the 
setup CD to format your hard drive (losing all 
the data on it) and then reinstall WinXP on the 
clean drive. However, if your hard drive is failing 
(which is possible with any error message that 
sent you to this section), these may be temporary 
fixes, so keep your backups up-to-date. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 

56 January 2007 / 

My Computer Won't Start 




imep BEEP 


When you turn your computer on, you may hear a 
single beep, watch as system messages go by, and 
then see your operating system boot up so you 
can start using your computer. 

But sometimes the unexpected happens. You power up 
your computer, only to be greeted with a black display screen 
and a bunch of annoying beeps. After rebooting a couple 
times and getting the same results, it dawns on you that your 
computer is ailing. 

All is not lost, though. Those beeps coming from your 
computer have a purpose. They are not random noise, but 
rather your computer's attempt to communicate a problem. 
The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), software that con- 
trols your motherboard, as well as communications between 
hardware such as RAM and video cards, is doing its best to 
tell you what's wrong. 

Should something go wrong during the boot process that 
prevents the computer from even sending data to the mon- 
itor or starting the computer, you need some way to identify 
the problem. When something goes wrong that causes the 
BIOS to be unable to start the computer properly, it uses spe- 
cific patterns of beeps to give you clues to what the under- 
lying problem is. 

QHave you recently installed any new memory or added 
any cards inside your computer? Have you added a new 
hard drive or replaced an old one? Did you upgrade to a new 
video card? 

A Before you even bother venturing into the world of 
POST (power on self test) and BIOS and beep codes, 
perhaps you should consider if your problem is much sim- 
pler than that. 

Any changes to the hardware in your system could very 
likely be the cause of your problem. Even if the new compo- 
nent is not the problem in and of itself, you may have 
knocked some other device or cable loose while you were 
working inside the computer. Start by retracing your steps 
and making sure everything is connected firmly where it be- 
longs. Reboot the computer when you're finished to deter- 
mine whether the issue has been resolved. 

If that doesn't work, try removing whatever new hard- 
ware you installed and see if the beeping goes away. If so, 
you need to re-examine the hardware to make sure it is 
compatible with your system and that you installed it prop- 
erly. If not, continue reading to learn to troubleshoot using 
the beep codes. 

Understanding the POST test. The first thing the com- 
puter does when you turn it on is a POST. The purpose of 
the POST is to initialize the hardware and perform basic 
system diagnostics to verify that the motherboard is func- 
tioning properly. Many BIOS POST tests will actually display 
information as the tests are completed, showing you the 
drives that are initiated, the type or speed of the CPU, how 

Smart Computing / January 2007 57 

My Computer Won't Start 


On this Dell laptop, 
the initial screen 
tells you to press 
the F2 key to 
access the BIOS 
(Basic Input/ 
Output System) 
setup. On some 
systems it is 
the DELETE or 
other key. 

The BIOS (Basic 
System) settings 
screen explains the 
different POST 
(power on self 
test) options and 
allows you to 
customize how 
your PC performs 
a POST. 

much RAM was 
detected, and var- 
ious other details 
about the hard- 
ware in the system. 
Once the in- 
tegrity of the BIOS 
itself is verified, 
you can access the 
BIOS configuration 
screens. Most systems will display a message 
somewhere on the screen letting you know to 
press the F2, DELETE, or some other key in 
order to access the BIOS configuration. You can 
change the order of the devices the computer will 
try to boot from, turn on or off built-in features 
of the motherboard, change how thoroughly the 
system performs the POST, and set security or 
power management settings. 

The initial boot screen may also show you 
what version or revision of the BIOS firmware 
your system is running. However, if there is 

something wrong 
with the mother- 
board or necessary 
hardware compo- 
nents that does not 
allow the POST 
to initialize the 
BIOS or display 
messages on the 
screen, you will in- 
stead be faced with 
a dark monitor 
and seemingly random beeping noises from 
your computer. 

QCan you identify your BIOS and its 
beep codes? 

A The beeping noises coming from your dys- 
functional computer are not random. 
However, there are no standard beep patterns, so 
if you don't know who the manufacturer of your 
BIOS is, they may as well be random. In order to 
make sense of the beeps and begin to trou- 
bleshoot your computer, you need to first iden- 
tify your BIOS. 

The documentation for your motherboard 
vendor most likely provides information about 
what BIOS is installed on the motherboard and 
may even provide details about interpreting the 
beep codes. If you have ever accessed the BIOS 
settings configuration for your computer, the 

.„„ * «* 7 Ball Latitude B6B0 Series Setup BIOS version: A16 

.. Boot Configuration -»«»»#■■■ 

Allows you to specify what level 
of harduare checks are pevfonwd 

PIKT: I^^^riiMH 

Dun t Speed: 1.18 GH 


at Power On Self Test (POSTJ, 

Adapter Warnings: Enable* 


If set to HINlHflL (default), 
recommended, POST perforns feu 

Internal Hodeni Enable* 


PXE BIS Policy: Deny 

**.*. Hire less Configuration ##«»*«##* 
Onboard B lustoath . Hot ItoU 1 led 
NiniPCI Device; Hire less 
Mini PCI Status: Enabled 
H ire 1 ess Contr o 1 : < Fn *F2>/ftpp 1 tut ion 
kirelcss: On 

2.) a nenory STJD1HN changed. 
3.) the previous POST did not 

Sat to THOROUGH to perforn a 
conplete suite of hardware 
checks at POST. 

main screen typically identifies the BIOS manu- 
facturer, as well. 

In this case, however, when your computer 
can't even boot and all you have is a black screen, 
you won't have the luxury of checking the BIOS 
settings screen. If you don't have any documen- 
tation for your motherboard, you can call your 
computer vendor and ask what BIOS is installed 
in your system. The customer support technician 
should be able to identify the BIOS on your 
system based on the model number or serial 
number of your machine. If all else fails, you 
can open up your computer and just look for 
the BIOS chip. It should say "BIOS" on it and 
will generally be from AMI, Phoenix, or Award. 
There are other BIOS manufacturers, as well, 
but the majority of PC systems use one of 
these three. 

Once you identify who makes your BIOS, you 
can do a Web search to find out what your beep 
codes mean. There are many sites available, 
including ( 
beep_codes) that list the beep codes for the var- 
ious BIOS vendors. 

Even Macs have beep codes ( 
hope. com/beep. htm#07), called Startup Tones, 
which help identify hardware system errors on 
bootup. Listen to the pattern of the beeps when 
you turn your computer on and compare it 
to the list of beep codes you have identified for 
your BIOS vendor. The pattern should help you 
identify the problem and get you on the way to 
fixing it. 

QHave you moved or bumped your com- 
puter? Have you recently done any work 
inside your computer's case? 

A If your beep code translating identifies some- 
thing such as your RAM or video graphics 
adapter as the culprit, don't rush out to the store 
to buy replacements just yet. 

Try double-checking all of the connections in 
your computer to make sure they are snug. Make 
sure that your video card and other add-on cards 
are firmly in their slots on the motherboard. 
Ensure that your RAM modules are snugly seated 
in the proper spot. Ensure that the cables to and 
from your DVD drive or your hard drive are 
properly attached at both the device and to the 
motherboard. After you tighten up all of your 
connections, try rebooting the computer and see 
if your problem persists. 

58 January 2007 / 

My Computer Won't Start 


QDoes your computer have a defective 

A If your problem persists, it's time to look at 
replacing the troublesome component. If 
your beep codes indicate that the RAM is failing, 
you might need to first figure out which module 
in particular is the problem, because most com- 
puters have more than one memory module in- 
stalled. Depending on how old the computer is, 
you should be able to take out the memory mod- 
ules one at a time and reboot the computer to see 
if the problem goes away; doing so will identify 
the problematic stick of RAM. 

If your video card is the problem, swap it out 
with a new one and see if the 
problem continues. Make sure 
that the video card you choose to 
troubleshoot or replace yours 
with is compatible with your 
motherboard and your operating 
system — otherwise, you will only 
create new problems. 

For the purposes of trouble- 
shooting, it is helpful to have an- 
other computer you can borrow parts from. It is 
best to work through the troubleshooting and be 
fairly confident of your diagnosis before you run 
down to the local computer retailer and start 
buying replacements. If the new parts don't fix 
the problem, you may be stuck with parts you 
can't return. Also, some stores charge restocking 
fees for equipment you've opened. 

QIs your system beyond help (or beyond 
help that you're capable of providing)? 

A For simple situations such as unseated or 
bad memory or a malfunctioning video card, 
reseating or replacing the component is a rela- 
tively simple task. Opening the case of the com- 
puter and swapping out a card or two takes only 
a few minutes and does not require much in the 
way of advanced technical knowledge. 

However, if your efforts do not result in a 
functional computer system, or if your beep code 
translation points to a problem that just seems 
over your head, call a PC technician or take your 
computer in to your friendly neighborhood 
computer service center. Be warned, though, that 
computer service is generally not cheap. You 
may pay $50 or more just for the privilege of 
having your computer looked at and pay a pre- 
mium for getting the actual repair done. In an 

era where entire computer systems can be 
bought, with color inkjet printers thrown in free, 
for less than $300, carefully consider the age of 
your system and decide whether it makes more 
sense to invest in a new system. II 

by Tony Bradley 

Copyright 1985-1988 Phoenix Technologies Ltd. 
685 Dell Compter Corporation and others, All 


)d I HP 


At the bottom of 
the initial boot 
screen, a progress 
bar shows how far 
along the POST 
(power on self test) 
is and supplies 
information about 
what revision of the 
BIOS (Basic Input/ 
Output System) is 
in the system. 

The main screen of the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) settings configuration 
generally displays information about the BIOS manufacturer. 

Beep Codes 

The beep codes for American Megatrends' AMI BIOS (Basic Input/Output 
System) describe the different beep patterns and what they mean. 

Beep Pattern 

Problem Description 


Memory refresh failure 


Parity errors detected in the first 64KB of memory 


Failure occurred within the first 64KB or memory 


System timer failure 


CPU caused undetectable error 


BIOS cannot switch CPU into protected mode 


CPU exception error 


No video adapter or video memory failure 


ROM checksum does not match value in BIOS 


Shutdown register for CMOS (complementary 
metal-oxide semiconductor) interrupt 2 failed 


Level-2 cache memory failure 

2 short 

POST (power on self test) failed 

1 long, 2 short 

Video system failed: checksum or Video BIOS error 

1 long, 3 short 

Video system failed. DAC (digital-to-analog 
converter), VRAM (video random-access 
memory), or monitor detection error 

1 long 

POST successful 

Smart Computing / January 2007 59 

My Computer Won't Start 





When you can get Windows to launch but can't get 
any further without locking up or receiving con- 
stant errors, ask yourself the following questions 
and proceed as appropriate. If your machine continuously 
reboots on its own, no matter what you do, see "Stop The 
Starting" on page 62 in this issue. And if you seem to get 
Windows started but can't tell for sure because you lose your 
display, see "Troubleshoot A Running PC With A Blank 
Monitor" on page 65. 

QCan you get to applications and tools 
despite the errors? 



A You may be able to access Windows utilities. Reboot 
and repeatedly press the F8 key during startup to launch 
the Windows Advanced Options menu. Some manufac- 
turers set their machines up differently, so consult your 
computer's manual if F8 doesn't work. 

With the arrow keys, select the Enable Boot Logging op- 
tion and continue booting up. When Windows starts, navi- 
gate to your C:\WINDOWS directory. Open the Ntbtlog.txt 
file with Notepad or WordPad and browse for error mes- 
sages. You may need to uninstall corrupted applications, up- 
date conflicting drivers, or shut down startup services. If so, 
work from Safe Mode to ensure a clean fix. 

^^ Can you boot into Safe Mode? 

A Shut down your computer and reboot. Press and hold 
the F8 key during startup to launch the Windows 
Advanced Options menu. Some manufacturers set their ma- 
chines up differently, so try F5 or consult your computer's 
manual if F8 doesn't work. With the arrow keys, select the 
Safe Mode option and press ENTER. 

If you can boot into Safe Mode, try rebooting. Safe Mode 
loads Windows with a minimal set of drivers and processes, 
simplifying the environment and enabling better trou- 
bleshooting. Sometimes just booting into Safe Mode can reset 
or eliminate conflicts. If that doesn't work, perform some 
basic system maintenance within Safe Mode. Run a complete 
scan using your antivirus and antispyware applications. From 
the Run option in the Start menu, type chkdsk and click OK. 
Chkdsk scans your hard drive for damaged sectors and files, 
repairing any errors it finds. Return to the Run option and 
type msconfig. Click OK, select the Startup tab in the re- 
sulting dialog box, and deselect any startup programs that are 
unknown or that may be causing trouble at bootup. 

If you still can't boot Windows regularly, boot into Safe 
Mode again. With the Control Panel's Add/Remove Programs 
utility, uninstall any recently added programs. Check the 
Device Manager (right-click My Computer, select Properties, 
and choose the Hardware tab) for hardware or device conflicts. 
Click the plus (+) sign next to each category to expand the 

My Computer Won't Start 


group. Right- click any suspect devices and click 
Properties. Disable or remove any malfunctioning 
hardware and reboot. 

^^ Can you perform a System Restore? 

A If you can get into Safe Mode, try per- 
forming a System Restore, which will roll 
your machine back to its state at an earlier point 
in time. From the Start menu, select All 
Programs and Accessories. From the System 
Tools submenu, select System Restore. Select 
Restore My Computer To An Earlier Time, click 
Next, and choose a Restore Point from the 
last date on which you know your computer 
functioned properly. Click Next, confirm the 
changes, and walk through the wizard. 

QCan you load Last Known Good 
Configuration from the boot menu? 

A If you can't perform a System Restore from 
Safe Mode, boot into the Advanced Options 
menu again. Select Last Known Good Config- 
uration from the Advanced Options menu. Last 
Known Good Configuration rolls back your 
Registry and device drivers to the last setting 
under which your computer shut down success- 
fully. It doesn't provide as comprehensive a 
restoration as System Restore, and as such isn't a 
preferred option, but it is better than trying to 
boot from the Windows CD and repair or reinstall 
the entire operating system. 

^^ Can you boot from your Windows CD? 

A If your installed recovery methods don't 
work, you're going to have to use your 
Windows installation disc or system recovery CD. 
Insert the disc into the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM 
drive and boot up. You need to press any key in 
order to boot from the disc. If not, you'll have to 
enter the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) and 
set your optical drive as the primary boot option. 
BIOS options vary — check your manuals for exact 
keystrokes, but pressing DELETE during the ini- 
tial bootup stages often brings you into the BIOS. 
After setting the optical drive as the primary boot 
drive, restart your system and try booting into 
Windows. There's a difference between a true 
Windows OS disc and the image restoration discs 
many manufacturers ship with PCs. If you only 


-■ ■ ■ [M 500T.INI Servii 





er.C:.. :-'"-e 


have the latter, the fol- 
lowing tips may not work. 

QCan you repair 
Windows from a 
Windows installation disc 
or recovery CD? 

A Windows' repair op- 
tion attempts to re- 
create the Registry and restore settings without 
removing or altering user data. When a repair is 
available and works as planned, it's a great way to 
get a troubled system running again without 
starting from scratch. Boot into your Windows in- 
stallation disc or system recovery CD. When 
prompted to choose between setting up Windows, 
accessing the Recovery Console, or quitting Setup, 
press ENTER to enter Windows Setup. Press F8 to 
accept Microsoft's license agreements and then 
press R to Repair the selected Windows installa- 
tion when prompted. It's important to remember 
to press R only at the second prompt — pressing R 
the first time opens the Recovery Console. 

QCan you restore the Windows Registry 
using the Recovery Console? 

A If you have any way to back up your data, do 
so. Boot from your Windows installation CD (a 
manufacturer's restoration CD won't work). Press R 
from the Welcome screen. Select your Windows in- 
stallation if prompted and enter your administrator 
password. At the command line, delete your existing 
Registry files by typing delete c:\windows\system32\ 
config\system. Repeat four times, substituting soft- 
ware, sam, security, and default for system, each in 
turn. Now copy pristine versions of those files by 
entering copy c:\windows\repair\system c:\win 
dows\system 32\config\system. Repeat four times 
replacing system in both portions of the command 
with the words software, sam, security, and default. 
Type exit, press ENTER, and reboot. 

^^ What if nothing else works? 

A Start over from scratch with your Windows 
installation disc or system recovery CD. 
Hopefully, you backed up your data and have in- 
stallation discs for applications. Otherwise, you'll 
have to do your best to re-create. II 

by Gregory Anderson 

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If you can boot into 
Safe Mode, disable 
unnecessary startup 
programs that 
may be breaking 
Windows' bootup. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 61 

My Computer Won't Start 




If you're reliving the same nightmarish scenario of a re- 
booting computer over and over again — kind of like 
Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day" — you're probably at 
your wits' end. The continuous reboot problem can have a 
variety of causes, including faulty or unseated memory mod- 
ules; out-of-date, corrupt, or missing drivers; software con- 
flicts; overheating components; virus or malware; bad 
software; or bad hardware. This article aims to provide you 
with answers to common scenarios that you may encounter 
when troubleshooting a continually rebooting computer. 

QIs your system rebooting immediately after you 
start your computer? 

A Start by eliminating the possibility that one or more of 
your hardware components have failed. For problems 
encountered after recently installing new hardware, skip to 
the question regarding drivers below for tips on trou- 
bleshooting and repairing your system. 

Your computer may immediately fail to boot if one of your 
memory modules is unseated. You'll need to open your case to 
check your memory modules. Exercise caution when working 
inside your computer. Turn off the computer and unplug it. 
Touch a grounded piece of metal to dissipate static electricity. 
(If you've unplugged the computer, however, remember that 
the case is no longer grounded.) The memory modules are 
long, narrow sticks of PCB (printed circuit board) that attach to 
the motherboard. The memory modules are typically located 
near the processor and secure to the motherboard with clips at 
either end. If one or both of the clips is not closed or laying flat 
against the edges of the memory module, press down (toward 
the motherboard) on the edge of the memory module nearest 
to the clip to lock it into place. You may have to remove the 
memory module and reseat it. Pull the clips away from the 
memory module and remove it. Dust the memory module off 
and reinsert it, pressing at either end evenly until the clips lock 
into place. Close the case and restart the computer. 

Your computer may also immediately reboot if another 
piece of hardware fails, has a loose connection, or becomes 
disconnected. Check that power plugs from your power 
supply are connected to the appropriate components and 
that those connections are secure. With your case open, 
make sure you aren't touching any internal components and 
then turn your computer on. You can't necessarily tell if 
your memory, processor, or motherboard is bad by simply 
looking and listening. But your hard drive is another story. 
Listen for your hard drive to start spinning. If it is silent, 
then it may be faulty or disconnected from the mother- 
board. Also, be sure the fans on your motherboard or 
graphics card start spinning. If any component seems unre- 
sponsive, replace it. 

QDoes your system reboot during or immediately 
after the boot process? 

62 January 2007 / 

My Computer Won't Start 


A The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), 
sometimes called Setup or CMOS (comple- 
mentary metal-oxide semiconductor) setup utility, 
is a piece of software that manages all the hardware 
connected to your computer. If the settings in the 
BIOS have changed or become unstable, you may 
need to reset the settings to get your system to boot 
again. To do this, restart your computer and access 
the BIOS setup utility. To do so, immediately after 
your system begins to boot, press the designated 
key that lets you access the BIOS. This key varies 
from computer to computer, so consult your com- 
puter or motherboard manual for information 
about which key to press. Often the key appears 
on-screen during the boot process. You may have 
missed your opportunity if pressing the designated 
key doesn't grant you access to the BIOS setup 
utility. Restart your system and try again. Many 
computer manufacturers use the DELETE, ESC, 
Fl, or F2 keys. If your keyboard features the 
F-LOCK key, make sure it is enabled before at- 
tempting to use a function key to access the BIOS. 

When you have access to the BIOS setup utility, 
you should see options to Load Defaults, Load 
Optimized Defaults, Load Fail-Safe Defaults, or 
something similar. First, try loading the Optimized 
Defaults. If your computer still fails, re-enter the 
BIOS and load the Fail-Safe Defaults. If you don't 
have a choice, simply load the default settings as de- 
scribed in your computer or motherboard manual. 
Depending on your BIOS, you may need to use the 
arrow keys to highlight the option and press 
ENTER or simply press the function key that corre- 
sponds to the option. Confirm your choice and 
allow the system to reboot. You may have to select 
the Save And Exit option to restart your system. 

QHas a recent change to the BIOS left 
your system unbootable? 

A Sometimes your computer won't even let 
you access the BIOS. In these instances, you 
may have to reset the BIOS using a more hands- 
on approach. The CMOS memory retains your 
computer's BIOS settings but can be reset by 
moving a jumper on a three-pin header on the 
motherboard and then moving it back to its orig- 
inal position after a short wait. You'll have to 
consult your computer or motherboard manual 
for specific instructions on how to perform this 
operation. Restart the computer. 

QDoes your system run for a short while 
and then reboot? 

A If your computer's internal components get 
too hot, they can cause your system to contin- 
ually reboot. Many motherboards have built-in 
temperature gauges that will shut your computer 
down if the temperature rises above a given point. 
Make sure your fans are working properly and 
check that the air vents on your computer tower 
aren't blocked or otherwise obstructed. In partic- 
ular, make sure the processor heatsink fan is 
working. You will need to open the case to verify 
this. Using canned air or a dry cloth, gently blow 
or wipe the dust off of the fans, grilles, and other 
internal components. Close the case and try to 
restart your computer. 

QDid the problem start after installing 
new software? 

A When troubleshooting your software, try to 
boot your computer into Safe Mode. Restart 
your computer. Your computer typically makes a 
beep sound when the POST (power on self test) 
completes. Press the F8 key immediately fol- 
lowing this sound. If you don't hear a sound, you 
can typically start pressing F8 repeatedly as the 
computer boots. This should display the 
Windows Advanced Options Menu. You won't 
need the command prompt or networking capa- 
bilities, so use the arrow keys to highlight the 
Safe Mode option. Press ENTER. If applicable, 
use the arrow keys to highlight the OS you want 
to load and press ENTER. Log on to the adminis- 
trator profile and click Yes when the Windows Is 
Running In Safe Mode dialog box appears. Safe 
Mode allows you to adjust your computer's set- 
tings but loads only the most crucial devices and 
programs. If Windows manages to load, the error 
may have resolved itself. Shut down and restart 
your computer to see if the problem is solved. 

If the problem persists, re-enter Safe Mode to 
restore your system to a previous state. Click Start, 

missing, or out- 
dated driver, 
you'll typically 
see a red X, 
yellow excla- 
mation point, 
or yellow ques- 
tion mark in 
the right pane 
of the Device 
Manager next 
to the periph- 
eral associated 
with the driver. 

Reseat your 
memory modules 
one side at a time. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 63 

My Computer Won't Start 


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System failure 

IV." ;e ■= " e: e-; ;;:■ ;-e syjtev og 
[^1 Send an administrative alert 
^□Automatically restart^ 
Write debugging information 

Small memory dump (64 KB; 


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W\ Overwrite any existing file 

Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and System 
Restore. On the Welcome To System Restore 
screen, click the radio button in front of Restore 
My Computer To An Earlier Time 
and click Next. Click a bolded date 
on the calendar. Choose a date 
prior to when you noticed the 
problem. Click Next twice. System 
Restore takes over, restores the set- 
tings, and restarts your computer. 
If the problems continue after you 
used a restore point or the system 
reports that the restore process 
failed, launch Windows in Safe 
Mode and try an earlier date. 


Disabling Automatic 
Restart lets your 
system display 
error messages 
that would 
otherwise shut 
down your system. 

Your computer 

may also 


reboot if 

another piece 

of hardware 

fails, has 

a loose 


or becomes 


Did the problem start after 
installing new hardware? 

A Drivers, software that dictate how your PC 
communicates with hardware components, 
can cause your system to become unstable. The 
Device Manager is a good place to start when 
trying to pinpoint the cause of the rebooting 
problem. To check the status of your drivers in 
Windows 98/Me, click Start, Settings, and 
Control Panel. In the Control Panel, double- click 
the System icon and click the Device Manager tab 
from the System Properties dialog box. 

To check drivers in Windows 2000/XP, click 
Start, Settings (Win2000), and Control Panel. 
Win2000 users and those viewing WinXP's 
Control Panel in Classic View can double- click the 
System icon to open the System Properties dialog 
box. If viewing the Control Panel in Category 
View, click Printers And Other Hardware and 
then click System under the See Also menu on the 
left side of the screen. Next, click the Hardware 
tab and the Device Manager button. 

If you have a corrupted, missing, or outdated 
driver, you'll typically see a red X, yellow excla- 
mation point, or yellow question mark in the 
right pane of the Device Manager next to the pe- 
ripheral associated with the driver. If you notice 
one of these symbols, try reinstalling the driver. 
If you still have the error-causing peripheral's 
driver CD or floppy diskette, use that to install 
the driver that originally came with your device. 

If you don't have a copy of the driver, visit the 
manufacturer's Web site to download the latest 
version of the driver. You'll have to restart your 
computer and choose the Safe Mode With 
Networking option to access the Internet. When 
you're at the peripheral manufacturer's Web site, 

look for the Downloads or Support page or a 
download section on the peripheral's product 
page. Launch the Device Manager, double-click 
the peripheral with the problematic driver, click 
the Driver tab, and then click the Update Driver 
button. The Hardware Update Wizard will launch. 
Click the radio button beside No, Not This Time, 
click Next, click the Install From A List Or Specific 
Location (Advanced), and click Next. Navigate to 
the location of the driver you downloaded, access 
it, and follow the prompts to install it. 

Installing the latest driver won't always solve 
your problem. To roll the driver back in WinXP, 
launch the Device Manager and click the Roll Back 
Driver button on the Driver tab of the device's 
Properties dialog box. Follow the prompts. 

QDoes your computer restart without 
displaying an error message? 

A If your system is infected with a virus or mal- 
ware or experiencing system- crippling errors, 
you may never see error messages that can pro- 
vide clues as to why your computer continuously 
reboots. Windows is set to reboot when it en- 
counters a critical error. Disabling this can let you 
view error messages and on-screen prompts. 

To change the setting in WinXP, boot into Safe 
Mode and access the Control Panel. If you're using 
Win2000/XP with the Control Panel displayed in 
Classic View, simply double-click the System icon. 
If you're a WinXP user viewing the Control Panel 
in Category View, click Performance And Main- 
tenance and click System from the bottom of the 
dialog box. Click the Advanced tab and then click 
the Settings button from the Startup And Recovery 
section of the System Properties dialog box. Next, 
deselect the checkbox in front of Automatically 
Restart in the System Failure portion of the dialog 
box. Click OK and click OK again. Close the 
Control Panel and restart the computer. Now, 
when your system encounters an error, it will 
remain on-screen. 

DejaVu All Over Again 

When your PC starts acting up without dis- 
playing an error message, resist the urge to pull out 
your hair. Instead, simply follow this series of step- 
by-step troubleshooting tasks to pinpoint the 
cause, recover your system, and even avoid prema- 
ture baldness. II 

by Andrew Leibman 

64 January 2007 / 

My Computer Won't Start 





Sherlock Holmes' maxim, "Eliminate all other factors, 
and the one which remains must be the truth," offers 
valuable guidance when troubleshooting. Computers 
that seem to have booted, but have no video or display can 
be especially vexing. Blank screens supply a small body of 
evidence from which to draw conclusions, and the comput- 
er's fan noise and blinking LEDs (light-emitting diodes) 
offer few clues. The following series of questions and an- 
swers should help eliminate possible problems with either 
LCD (liquid-crystal display) or CRT (cathode-ray tube) 
monitors until you reach a logical conclusion. Note this ar- 
ticle assumes your computer has power (see "No Power At 
All" on page 50) and no unusual beeps emanate from the 
computer (see "Beep, Blip, Blip, Beep" on page 57). 

QDoes the monitor display any indications of 

A Many monitors display a No Signal message or other- 
wise indicate power via a green, orange, or amber status 
LED on the monitor's bezel. Reference your monitor's 
owners manual for the proper status color. If you're sure the 
monitor has power, skip past the next two questions. 


^^ Is the monitor turned on? 

Alt may sound obvious, but if you don't check the power 
button, you could waste a lot of time and frustration pur- 
suing other solutions. Firmly press the monitor's power button 
a few times to ensure the power button isn't stuck and the 
monitor hasn't been accidentally turned off. A power switch on 
the back of the monitor may also need to be turned on. 

^^ Is the monitor receiving power? 

A Because power cords are not locked into place, one acci- 
dental kick can jerk the monitor cord out of the socket 
or leave it partially inserted. The plug may appear firmly 
seated in both the electrical outlet and monitor, but you 
should disconnect and reconnect both ends to make certain 
the cord is completely inserted. If your monitor's power 
cord is connected to a surge protector, ensure that it's 
turned on and plugged firmly into the wall outlet. Test the 
socket that the monitor's power cord is inserted into by con- 
necting another electric device such as a lamp, clock, or 
radio. Should the subsequent device not work, you may have 
a bad socket. If you use a surge protector, attempt to plug 
the monitor directly into the wall outlet. 

If the monitor still doesn't show any signs of life, you may 
have a bad power cord or a monitor with a bad power tran- 
sistor. Test the monitor's power cord by swapping it with 
your computer's power cord. Most computer and monitor 

Smart Computing / January 2007 65 

My Computer Won't Start 


Monitors have 
different connectors 
for different types 
of signals.AVGA 
(Video Graphics 
Array) connecter 
has 15 pins (three 
rows of five pins 
each), and a DVI 
(Digital Video 
Interface) connecter 
holds 18 pins in 
three rows of six. 

DVI-to-VGA output 
adapter, make 
certain the pins 
in the adapter's 
connector are 
straight and even. 

power cords are in- 
terchangeable, but 
before you switch 
them, compare the 
cord's male and 
female ends to be 
sure. Test both 
cords by using the 
computer's power 
cord to run the 
monitor, and the 
monitor's power cord to run the computer. If the 
monitor still cannot receive power, the problem is 
inside the monitor, and you'll have to return it, 
have it fixed, or purchase a new monitor. Do not 
attempt to open the monitor's case under any cir- 
cumstances. Even when unplugged, monitors 
maintain deadly charges of electricity, and only 
trained technicians should attempt to fix them. 

QHas the monitor's brightness setting 
been turned down? If a monitor has 
multiple inputs, is the monitor in the cor- 
rect display mode and correctly connected? 

A Do you live with someone who enjoys 
playing practical jokes? If so, it's possible 
your monitor's brightness could be turned down 
all the way. Mischief aside, monitors with ex- 
posed brightness dials can be accidentally ad- 
justed while moving or cleaning a monitor. 

A monitor with multiple display modes or 
analog/digital display may give the appearance of 
a dead screen if it's in an unsuitable mode. Check 
to ensure that the correct output or display mode 
is selected. When you connect or disconnect a 
video cable, power to the monitor and computer 
should be turned off because the sudden change 
in electrical static could destroy either device. 
Once you turn off the computer and monitor, 
make certain the video cable connects to the ap- 
propriate monitor input and computer output. 

QIs the video cable con- 
nected and secure on both 
ends? Does the video cable ex- 
hibit any cuts or abnormal 
bends? Are the pins in cable 
connectors angled or flattened? 

A Loose video cables are a com- 
mon cause of blank monitors. 
Verify that each end of the video 
cable creates a solid connection 

and evenly inserts into the jack. If the connection 
seems firm, unfasten the two screws on both 
connectors and examine the cable itself for any 
problems. Some monitors have a captive video 
cable, meaning the cable is built into the mon- 
itor, so you may need to physically move the 
monitor to better examine the cable. 

The cord should not have any cuts or kinks, as 
either could impede the video signal. Closely in- 
spect both ends of the cable connectors to make 
certain none of the pins are bent or flattened. If 
all the pins are uniform, evenly insert the cable 
into the monitor and video adapter jack. Tighten 
the two screws on the cable's connectors until the 
connectors are firmly in the jacks. Reboot the 
computer to test the monitor's display capability. 

If the pins are bent, you can attempt to 
straighten them with a pair of needle-nosed pliers, 
but more often than not, you're going to bend an- 
other pin in the process. A monitor with an inte- 
grated video cable should be taken to a professional 
to repair the damaged pins. If the video cable is re- 
movable, you can purchase a replacement VGA 
(Video Graphics Array) or DVI (Digital Video 
Interface) video cable for around $20. 

QDoes the monitor work on a different 
computer? Does a different monitor 
work on the computer? 

A Assuming that all cords are correctly con- 
nected and functional, if the monitor works 
on another computer, a component within your 
computer may have a conflict with your video 
adapter, need to be reseated, or is on the fritz. If a 
second monitor works on your computer, you 
probably need to replace the first monitor. 
Before you write off the first monitor entirely, 
however, compare the computer's display set- 
tings to what the monitor's users manual indi- 
cates it can display. The display mode of your 
computer may be set outside the first monitor's 
range, and lowering your computer's resolution 
could resolve the video problem. You might also 
try installing an updated driver — check the man- 
ufacturer's site to download one. 

QDid you install any new hardware prior 
to losing video? 

AUninstall any newly installed hardware; this 
includes internal and external devices such as 
printers or external DVD burners because the 
component may have a device driver conflict 

66 January 2007 / 

My Computer Won't Start 


with your video adapter. Once you remove the 
newly installed hardware, reboot your computer 
to see if the changes initiate the monitor's dis- 
play. If the removal of new hardware restores 
video, uninstall the device's accompanying soft- 
ware drivers and utilities to eliminate further 
driver conflicts. Contact the manufacturer of 
your video adapter and the problematic device 
for changes you can make to overcome the in- 
compatibility. Also try searching the manufac- 
turers' sites and Google — it's highly unlikely 
you're the first user to encounter a conflict. 

Video adapters come in several slot types and 
designs. Some video adapters are add-on video 
cards (circuit boards that are installed separately 
into slots on your motherboard), and others are 
chips that are integrated into the motherboard. 
For the purposes of this article, we'll use the term 
"video adapter" to describe both video cards and 
onboard video. 

If the new hardware happens to be the video 
adapter, install the previous video adapter and 
verify it still displays video. If it does, the new 
video adapter could be incompatible with your 
motherboard, and you should contact the manu- 
facturer for known conflicts between the video 
adapter and your motherboard. 

QIs the video adapter securely seated? 
Does/should the video adapter connect 
to the power supply? 

A If your video adapter is onboard (integrated 
with the motherboard), you can't reseat it 
because it's soldered on. However, moving or 
bumping the computer can shake an add-on 
video adapter out of its motherboard slot, 
causing an incomplete connection and loss of 
video. You should remove and reconnect an add- 
on video adapter to eliminate the possibility of 
an improper connection. 

Prior to touching any internal computer com- 
ponents, ground yourself so the static electricity 
in your body doesn't short out any components 
(see the "How To Ground Yourself sidebar). If 
your video adapter fits into a PCI (Peripheral 
Component Interconnect) Express or AGP 
(Accelerated Graphics Port) slot, before you re- 
move the adapter, you may need to release the 
small, plastic tab that locks the adapter in place. 
(Video adapters in standard PCI slots don't have 
locking mechanisms.) Unscrew the adapter's metal 
plate from the computer's chassis and pull the 
adapter straight out of the slot. Reinsert the video 

adapter by lining it up directly over its appropriate 
slot and press firmly until the screw hole in the 
metal plate lines up with the hole in the comput- 
er's chassis. If you use a PCI Express or AGP video 
adapter, remember to lock the adapter back into 
its motherboard slot. Screw the adapter's metal 
plate tightly to the computer's chassis. 

Disconnected internal power cords can also 
cause video failure because some newer video 
adapters need more electricity than the mother- 
board can provide. A four-pronged connector or 
larger 6-pin PCI Express connector from the 
power supply could need to be connected, and 
the users manual for your video adapter will in- 
dicate the proper connector to use and how to 
attach it. Once you've reseated the video adapter 
and checked the power connections, restart the 
computer to see if you've resolved the problem. 

^^ Is the RAM securely seated? 

Alt only takes a fraction of an inch to lose 
electrical contact, and unseated RAM can 
disrupt the boot sequence of your computer and 
therefore the initialization of video output. You 
may need to move some power cables to remove 
and reseat the RAM. Press down on the clips 
locking the RAM into place, and the module will 
pop out of the slot. 

Before reinserting the RAM, align the notches 
and tabs with those on the motherboard. Gently 
push the RAM straight down into the memory 
slot; it's a good idea to place your thumbs at 
the ends of the RAM to apply an even amount 
of pressure. You should hear a click upon 
pressing the RAM into place. Press down on the 
RAM module until the arms return to a flush 

There are three 
commonly used 
add-on video 
adapter connection 
types: PCI (Peri- 
pheral Component 
AGP (Accelerated 
Graphics Port), and 
PCI Express. If you 
borrow a video 
adapter to test your 
current video 
adapter's display 
capabilities, make 
sure you know which 
slots are available 
in your computer. 

Prior to 
touching any 
internal com- 
puter compo- 
nents, ground 
yourself so 
the static elec- 
tricity in your 
body doesn't 
short out any 

Smart Computing / January 2007 67 

My Computer Won't Start 


180-degree upward position and lock the RAM 
into place. Reattach the computer's cords and 
restart the computer to see if the adjustments re- 
sult in a monitor display. 

QDoes the monitor display anything with 
a minimal system configuration? 

A If your monitor is still unresponsive, a com- 
ponent in your system may be malfunc- 
tioning and consequently, conflict with your 

video adapter, you 
may need to attach a 
power connector 
from the supply to 
the video adapter. 
This model uses 
a four-prong 
connector, but 
others may need a 
larger 6-pin PCI 
Express connector. 

video adapter. A minimum system configuration 
will determine if any nonessential components 
are impeding the video adapter's display capa- 
bility. Remove all the components from your 
computer except the motherboard, power supply, 
CPU, video adapter, hard drive, and RAM. Note 
this includes disconnecting any CD, DVD, or 
floppy drives. As you remove the components, 
it'd be wise to jot down what you removed and 
how the components were connected inside the 
computer for later reference. 

Once you set up the minimal configuration, 
hook up the power cords and video cables. If 
the video appears on the monitor, one of the 
removed components is the root of the prob- 
lem. Reconnect the components one at a time 

How To Ground Yourself 

Before you touch any of your computer's internal components, you 
need to discharge the naturally occurring static from your body. 
With your feet firmly planted on the ground, touch a grounded 
metal object, such as the internal metal frame of your computer. 
You could also purchase an antistatic wrist strap from your local 
electronics retailer that will disperse the static electricity from your 
body to the ground. I 

(restarting after each added component) to find 
the culprit. 

QDoes a known good video adapter work 
on the computer? 

A If nonessential components are not causing 
the problem, your video adapter is the next 
most likely candidate. To determine if the current 
video adapter is bad, remove an add-on video 
adapter from a second computer or borrow a 
friend's and install it into your computer. It'd be 
preferable to borrow an add-on video adapter 
over purchasing a new one because the mother- 
board could be the faulty component, and most 
electronics retailers don't let you return video 
adapters. Switch out the video adapters as you did 
when you checked the video adapter, but remove 
the old adapter and insert the new one. If the 
second video adapter initiates a display, the pre- 
vious video adapter is defective or isn't compatible 
with your computer's motherboard. Contact the 
manufacturers of the video adapter and mother- 
board for known conflicts between the two. 

If the second video adapter doesn't produce a 
display (and if your monitor seemed to work fine 
when connected to a different computer), your 
motherboard, CPU, power supply, hard drive, or 
RAM could be bad. You could replace these com- 
ponents one at a time until you find the problem, 
but that's both a costly and time-consuming ven- 
ture. In doing so, you'd also need to research and 
match each item with the other components on 
your system. Therefore, if you've gotten this far, 
we suggest you take your computer to a profes- 
sional technician. A technician has the extra parts 
on hand to pinpoint the problem. This will save 
you from purchasing several components that 
you may not be able to return. 

A Silver Lining 

Being forced to replace a component such as a 
malfunctioning monitor is inconvenient and 
frustrating, but it's also the perfect time to up- 
grade your system. Take this as an opportunity 
to purchase a new 16:9 aspect ratio flat-panel 
monitor or one with a built-in TV tuner. Buying 
the latest and greatest component won't take the 
sting out of a necessary purchase, but it does 
allow you to enjoy features your previous model 
didn't include. II 

by Nathan Lake 

68 January 2007 / 

QuickC-.. J : 


Personal Finance 

Intuit Quicken Premier 2006 

Move A Data File Between Two Computers 


2006 for 



As the saying goes, you can't have too much of 
a good thing. While that may or may not be 
true, it's pretty safe to say that having access to 
more than one computer is all good. 

When it comes to Quicken Premier 2006, how- 
ever, working with multiple computers can re- 
quire a little maneuvering. For example, what do 
you do when you want to move a Quicken data 
file from one computer to another? We'll dissect 
this helpful how-to and have you on your way 
faster than you can say "file share." 







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1 1 

From the 

Quicken Backup 

dialog box, you 

can decide if you 

want to back up 

your data file to 

media on your 

computer or to 

a server on 

the Internet. 

Back It Up 

The best way to 
move a file from one 
computer to another is 
by using Quicken's 
Backup and Restore 
Backup File com- 
mands. Let's say that 
you're working on 
your home PC to help 
you plan for retire- 
ment. When the soft- 
ware asks you for 
specific 401(k) information, you realize you've left 
it all at work. You decide it might just be easiest to 
fill in the information from the office over your 
lunch break, but you'll first need to move the file 
you're working on now from your home PC to 
your office PC. 

Use Quicken to open the file you want to 
move. You're going to back up the file to remov- 
able media. You can back up Quicken informa- 
tion in one of several ways: You can simply 
follow the prompts to back up your data file that 
Quicken offers every third time you close the 
program, you can choose Backup from the File 
menu, or you can press CTRL-B. All three op- 
tions will open the Quicken Backup dialog box. 
Because the file you want to back up is already 
open, press CTRL-B. 

From the Quicken Backup dialog box, specify 
which file you want to back up. Quicken assumes 
you want to back up the currently open file, so 
you don't need to choose another file name in this 
case. It's probably a good idea to click the Add 
Date To File Name checkbox in Step 1. This will 
make it easy for you to identify the latest backup. 

Now you'll need to choose where Quicken 
should back up the file. The On My Computer op- 
tion lets you back up to media such as a CD-R 
(CD-recordable). This option also allows you to ac- 
cess a network drive. Click the Browse button to se- 
lect your preferred location. Choose the Online 
option to back up your file to a server on the 
Internet using Quicken's Online Backup service. 
Click the Learn More link in the Online section of 
the Backup dialog box for more information. 


Now you are ready to fire up Quicken on the 
desired destination computer and restore the file. 
This will effectively move the file from computer 
A to computer B. Click Restore Backup File from 
the File menu and choose the file you want from 
the submenu. If you have done this before, and 
your destination computer contains an older ver- 
sion of the file you are about to open, the newest 
backup will overwrite the older version. Quicken 
will open a dialog box asking you to confirm this 
overwrite before proceeding. 

When the file is fully restored, it will alert you 
with a dialog box. Click OK. There will now be a 
copy of the file in the Quicken directory in your 
My Documents folder on your hard drive. 

Old vs. New 

Once you have moved your data file and begun 
making changes on the new computer, the infor- 
mation in the file on the first computer will no 
longer be up-to-date. So if you want to work on 
the file on the first computer again, you'll have to 
complete the above backup and restore process 
again. If this is something you plan on doing a 
lot, it can get difficult to determine which file is 
the most recent version. 

You could avoid some of this hassle by using re- 
movable media that would make your Quicken data 
file portable, but Intuit does not recommend this. 

The back-up-and-restore method works well 
for moving data files every once in a while. If this 
is something you'll need to do often, however, 
you should probably consider signing up for 
Quicken's Online Backup service. II 

by Jennie Schlueter 

Smart Computing / January 2007 69 

Quick Studies 

Image Processing 

Corel Paint Shop Pro 9 

Use The History Palette 


9 for 



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fy& ^ One Step Photo Fh 

**> □ kzz E: :- = 


The History 

palette lets you 

quickly and 

selectively undo 

and redo actions. 

The History 

palette shows 

the list of actions 

performed on 

an image. 

To paraphrase philosopher George Santayana: 
Those who cannot learn from history are 
doomed to repeat it. Granted, he was speaking 
about a topic a bit loftier than photo -editing soft- 
ware, but we can apply his words to Paint Shop 
Pro 9, as well. 

History Palette 

Paint Shop Pro's History palette is a handy fea- 
ture that lets you quickly undo the past to improve 
the present. You're probably familiar with the 
Undo and Redo commands in Paint Shop Pro's 
Edit menu (and that of many other programs, 
as well). Typically, however, you can use these 
commands only in the order the actions were 
performed. But the History palette lets you 
undo and redo actions nonsequentially. 

For example, say you've cropped an im- 
age, increased its color depth, added a spe- 
cial effect, and adjusted the color balance 
— and then realize you've cropped too much 
from the original photo. Rather than undoing all 
your hard work to return to the first step, use 
the History palette to undo only the cropping. In 
addition, you can take multiple actions from the 
History palette and apply them to another image. 
Let's walk through an example. Open a photo 
in Paint Shop Pro. If the History palette is not 
displayed, go to the 
View menu and select 
Palettes, followed by 
History. Next, apply 
some editing features. 
In our example, we 
started with a photo- 
graph of a neighbor 
holding three baby 
porcupines. We resized 
the image, added a 
border, used One Step 
Photo Fix, tweaked the Color Balance, adjusted 
the Brightness control, added the Buttonize 
effect, and finished with the Dilate effect, which 
we immediately undid. 

Undo & Redo 

Each action is listed in the History palette, with 
the most recent action on top. The list includes 

the Dilate effect, and Paint Shop Pro shows an X 
through this command's icon, indicating that we 
applied the Undo command. Each action's row 
includes an Undo/Redo icon, the action's icon, 
and the action's name. Place your pointer on an 
action's name or icon and a pop-up box lists the 
time the action was performed. 

Above the list of actions are several buttons, de- 
pending upon how you've docked the History 
palette, and we'll focus on the first four buttons. 
Suppose we want to undo every action performed 
after One Step Photo Fix. Select the action 
Automatic Color Balance and click the first button 
in the palette, Undo To Here. Immediately we see 
the photo change, and the Undo/Redo indicator 
for the final four actions shows a yellow X. 

Oops — we didn't want to undo all of those. 
Now we want to redo two of the actions we just 
undid: Automatic Color Balance and Color 
Adjust Brightness Contrast. Highlight Color 
Adjust Brightness Contrast and click the second 
button, Redo To Here, to redo that action and 
the actions preceding it (in this case, Automatic 
Color Balance). 

This tool really becomes useful when you want 
to undo actions that weren't performed sequen- 
tially. For example, we spent a lot of time adjusting 
the color balance and brightness. But after studying 
the photo, we realize that the border is all wrong. 

Rather than undoing all the way back to the 
Add Borders command, we will undo only that 
command. Highlight that command and click the 
third button, Undo Selected. Only this command 
is undone, as indicated by the red X through the 
Eye icon in the Add Borders action row. 

The fourth button, Redo Selected, does just the 
opposite. Highlight a command that is not active 
and click this button to redo that command. 

No More Mistakes 

We encourage you to experiment with various 
Undo and Redo options in the History palette, 
but remember: When you selectively undo an ac- 
tion, it may have unforeseen consequences on the 
actions that succeeded it. As you learn more 
about this tool, however, you'll be less likely to 
repeat those mistakes. II 

by Heidi V.Anderson 

70 January 2007 / 

Microsoft Excel 2002 

Quick Studies 



2002 for 



Troubleshooting Forms 

We all know Excel isn't a database. But it does 
a pretty fair imitation of one when you use 
the Data and Form tool to set up a sort of database- 
light. Just click any cell that's contained within an 
existing list of information. You could click a field 
title (a column heading such as Last Name) or a 
cell containing actual data (such as the last name 
Jones). Now click Data and Form and click New in 
the dialog box that appears. This produces empty 
boxes labeled with each of your column headings, 
or fields. Enter the information for a new entry and 
press TAB to move to the next field. Press ENTER 
when you're finished, and Excel adds the informa- 
tion in the appropriate fields. 

Once you wade into 
Excel's forms, you'll 
inevitably hit a few 
snags. Here are solu- 
tions to some of the 
most common ones. 

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If your chosen 

formatting isn't 

appearing in the 

right fields, you 

probably applied 

the formatting 

after creating the 

form. If so, Excel 

won't know how 

to apply it. 

Some fields contain 
the same information 
for a lot of records in 
the form, such as "ac- 
tive" for most of my clients. Can I speed up en- 
tering this information? 

Press CTRL-' to enter the same information that 
appeared in this field for the last record. 

What happens when I move to the next field 
and realize I made a mistake in the previous one? 

Press SHIFT-TAB to move back to the last 
field. Just start typing to eliminate the last entry 
or click anywhere in the line of text to start typing 
at that point. 

I know I can press CTRL-F to look something 
up in a big worksheet. But what if I have 87 entries 
for orders from customer Tom Jones in Miami? I 
want to jump straight to his first order for widgets. 

Use the Criteria tool in the Data and Form dialog 
box. Restrict the search by entering search terms in 
multiple fields. If you enter Jones, Tom, Miami, and 
Widgets in the appropriate places, you'll weed out 
all the orders from Tom Jones in Chicago or orders 
for gizmos placed by Tom Jones in Miami. 

I thought Excel automatically matched the 
formatting of all items in a certain field. But 

when I made one of the names in the Client field 
bold, none of the others changed to match it. 

This universal formatting works only when you 
create a form. As you're setting up the first ex- 
ample pieces of data — and before you first select 
Data and Form — format all the cells as you want 
them with the right width, color, font, etc. Then 
choose Data and Form, which signals Excel to an- 
alyze the way you set things up. From now on, 
any new entries will automatically be formatted to 
match the style you set. 

Can this database setup pull numbers together 
in calculations, such as determining a salesper- 
son's commission? 

When you're creating your list, insert the appro- 
priate formula in the right cell. The formula 
=H22*I22, for example, could look up the salesper- 
son's total sales and commission rate (we're as- 
suming they are fields in the list) and multiply the 
two. When you insert new records using Data and 
Form, Excel will adjust the formula for the record's 
location and generate the correct commission. 

I just used the dialog box's Delete button to 
remove a record, and now I want it back. But the 
Undo feature is grayed out under the Edit menu. 
What can I do? 

Go get the last backup copy of your file off the 
shelf. Oh, you didn't have a backup copy? Then 
we have bad news. The Restore button won't help 
you here, and there's no undoing a deletion from 
an Excel form. 

My boss wants me to migrate my records from 
Excel into Access. Is there an easy way to do this? 

That depends on your definition of easy. You 
can move Excel data into the true database pro- 
gram Access, something many offices like doing in 
order to get heavier firepower on managing 
records. Someone already comfortable using 
Access should have no trouble with the transfer. 
The process is more complex than we have room 
to explain here, but Microsoft provides instruc- 
tions for the process online. Go to office. micro and type import excel data into access 
into the search box in the upper- right corner. II 

by Trevor Meers 

Smart Computing / January 2007 71 

Corel WordPerfect 1 1 

Quick Studies 

Office Suites 



Do Overs In WordPerfect 

Insert Hard Return 

;; -en ': .■::':."■' 





Use the Undo/ 
Redo history to 
reverse multiple 
actions at once. 

... . -... 

r Save Undo/Redo ite 

: C 

Cancel | 

Help | 

Increase the 

number of items 

WordPerfect can 

reverse in the 



dialog box. 

Most of us have accidentally deleted a sen- 
tence or regretted edits that later turn out 
to be worse than the original. WordPerfect can 
help you undo your mistakes with relative ease. 

Do-Over Basics 

With the Undo tool, WordPerfect lets you re- 
verse word processing actions either one by one 
or a whole bunch of actions at once. Undo re- 
verses what you've done to a document. 

WordPerfect can undo most commands you've 
applied to your document, including changes made 
to text, formatting, tables, and graphics. Without 
some customization of WordPerfect's settings, 
however, you can't reverse ac- 
tions after you click Save. Saving 
a document erases the Undo top 
10, so any actions taken prior to 
the save will be made perma- 
nent. There's a way around this, 
as we'll explain below. 
If you undo more changes than you intend, 
WordPerfect has you covered with Undo's oppo- 
site, the Redo tool. Redo reverses the last Undo or 
several Undos. 

Undo & Redo 

To undo actions you have three options: 
Click the Undo button on the toolbar, 
choose Undo from the Edit menu, or press 
CTRL-Z. (Alternatively, you can also press 

To redo an action you've undone, there are 
again three options: Click the Redo button on the 
toolbar (a curved forward arrow), choose Redo 
from the Edit menu, or press CTRL-SHIFT-Z. 

Both the Undo and Redo buttons have drop- 
down arrows next to them. Click the arrow to see 
a list of the previous 10 actions in reverse chrono- 
logical order. This is handy if you want to undo 
something a few steps back: Instead of repeatedly 
pressing the Undo button until you come across 
the right action, you can choose the correct item 
from the list. However, it's important to note that 
doing it this way doesn't preserve the actions 
taken after the one you're reversing. Each action 
appearing on the list before the one you reverse 
will also be undone. 

Enable Options 

Although the default available undo level is 10, 
you can increase the number of actions Word- 
Perfect remembers. The maximum is 300, but be 
careful, because tracking a large number of ac- 
tions requires more disk space and memory and 
can slow down the application. If you experience 
a drag, reduce the number of undo items to im- 
prove performance. 

Click the Edit menu and choose Undo/Redo 
History. The corresponding dialog box appears, 
displaying the last actions taken in the left pane. 
From the buttons on the right, choose Options. In 
the Options dialog box, use the arrows to adjust the 
Number Of Undo/Redo Items. Click OK. 

The Options dialog box also has a checkbox 
marked Save Undo/Redo Items With Document. 
When this feature is enabled, WordPerfect saves 
the Undo/Redo history along with the rest of the 
document data. This, too, can add substantially 
to the document size, but selecting this box al- 
lows you to undo actions done prior to a save. 
Otherwise, clicking Save clears the Undo action 
information from WordPerfect and you're left 
with the document exactly as it was when saved. 

You likely will want to change this preference 
depending on the document. If you're routing a 
document for comment among colleagues, it may 
be fine to save the Undo/Redo history. If you're 
sending out the final version to a client or pro- 
fessor, it's probably better to deselect the Save 
Undo/Redo Items With Document box. No need 
to let those readers know what was going through 
your mind as you worked. 

Accidental Undo 

Undo is mapped to the CTRL-Z key combina- 
tion, and it's possible that enthusiastic or sloppy 
keyboarding can cause these keys to be pressed si- 
multaneously. WordPerfect also uses ALT-BACK- 
SPACE to effectuate Undo, so perhaps you're 
pressing this combo instead of CTRL-BACK- 
SPACE, which is used to delete a single word. If 
you see changes disappear without warning, take a 
look at the toolbar to see if the Redo button has 
become active. If it has, it's likely you've acciden- 
tally triggered the Undo feature. II 

by Anne Steyer Phelps 

72 January 2007 / 

Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Quick Studies 



2002 for 



Downloads From Microsoft 

.Office Online 


Your version of 

PowerPoint isn't 

truly tricked out 

until you check 

out all the handy 

downloads on 

the Microsoft 

Office Web site, 

which includes a 

wide variety of 



No program is an island anymore, thanks to 
the nearly seamless Web connections built- 
in to so much software. It's worth going online to 
check out the cool downloadables you'll find for 
pumping up your PowerPoint. Many sites offer 
free PowerPoint goodies, and naturally the pro- 
gram's home turf of has 
plenty to offer. 

Look for the links in the upper-left corner of 
the Web page, and start by clicking Templates. 


After clicking Templates, click PowerPoint in the 
Microsoft Office Programs section in the middle of 
the page. You'll see available PowerPoint templates 
arranged by topics such as Calendars, Presentations, 
and Slide Designs and a perplexing category called 

Break Timers. 

Click a category 
to see what tem- 
plates are available. 
One handy feature 
here is a counter 
that shows how 
many people have 
downloaded it. 

Break Timers de- 
serve a special note 
as you've probably 
never heard of them. 
These are visuals 
you can put up during a break in your talk or 
while the audience splits into small groups. The 
timer flashes the remaining time on-screen in var- 
ious increments. 

The Training Presentations section is mainly 
presentations explaining how to use Office apps, 
but you can also build your own training content 
around the slide designs in these presentations. 

Charts And Diagrams also warrants a closer look 
for its preformatted art for things such as seating 
charts, various organizational charts, and annual 
timelines. Fleshing one of these out with your own 
text, color scheme, etc. could be a big time- saver. 

Clip Art And Media 

Never underestimate the power of good oP eye 
candy in your presentations. A nice-looking map 

Content Slides 


Templates > Microsoft 

Office Programs > PowerPoint 

Templates 1-9 of 9, s 

rted alphabetically 

S3] Meeting name cards (3-fold) 

PowerPoint 97 or later 

Rating: ****&(1™ votes) 


(3J Multiple-choice test (4-answer) 

PowerPoint 97 or later 


plication table (through 12 

i n ads 121976 

Rating: **** -(11166 votes) 


that makes it easier to indicate a store's potential 
location or a stirring photo of a sunset for your 
closing thought makes a big difference in helping 
your message resonate. You'll find a great re- 
source for adding visuals to your presentations 
with the Clip Art And Media link in the upper- 
left corner of the Office Web site. 

You can browse the various media by category 
by clicking the list of descriptions such as Arts, 
Emotions, Maps, Signs, and Weather. Narrow 
your search by choosing a specific media type, 
such as Sounds, from the drop-down list at the 
top of the page. Type something such as thunder 
in the search box to get an audio clip. When you 
choose All Media Types from the drop -down list, 
your search produces clip art images of storm 
clouds, photos of lightning strikes, and audio 
clips of thunderclaps. 

Every time you find an item you like, click its 
image to get more details about its file type and 
size. If you want to download it, click Add To 
Selection Basket. It will go onto a list in the pane 
on the left side of the Web page. When you're 
ready, click Download X Items. 


Click Downloads in the upper-left corner. Look 
for the link for Office XP, which contains 
PowerPoint 2002. The downloads are organized 
into sections such as Add-ins. Most of the add-ins 
apply to Office as a whole rather than just 
PowerPoint, but they're still worth a look for the 
ways they let you work better with sound, turn 
content into Web pages more easily, etc. Updates 
are mainly oriented toward fixing security 
breaches in PowerPoint, but there are also overall 
Office Service Packs that do a variety of good 
things for your Office installation. Viewers are 
handy if you share presentations with people using 
a variety of PowerPoint versions, and Publications 
give fairly technical breakdowns on things such as 
publishing content to the Web. 

To learn more about each download, including 
exactly what it does, how long it will take to 
download via your connection, and how to install 
it, click its name. II 

by Trevor Meers 

Smart Computing / January 2007 73 

Quick Tips 

Secrets For Succeeding In Common Tasks 

by Stephen J. Bigelow 




Can I use a pre-N wireless networking 
card with my current 802.1 lg wireless router? 

Answer: Although you should check the device's 
specifications for backward compatibility, most 
pre-802.11n (or pre-N) wireless devices should be 
backward compatible with 802.1 lg and 802.11b 
devices. However, a wireless connection is only as 

fast as its slowest element, so installing a faster wire- 
less NIC (network interface card) in your laptop 
won't do much good if it's communicating with 
your old 802. llg wireless router or access point. To 
really take advantage of pre-N speeds, you'll need 
both ends of the wireless link to work at the same 
speed. This might mean investing in a new pre-N 
laptop card, as well as a new pre-N wireless router. 

Do I really need to install antivirus soft- 
ware on my PC if I only use a dial-up connection? 

Answer: With security software, dial-up users may 
not have the same sense of urgency that broadband 
users do. However, any PC user who receives email, 
downloads files, or surfs the Web can be besieged 
by infected attachments, tainted downloads, and 
malicious Web sites. Modern PC security software 
can quickly identify and quarantine any suspicious 
files or attachments, block potential intrusions, and 

even protect your personal information. Therefore, 
we always recommend using antivirus software as 
cheap insurance against the perils of cyberspace. 

To keep security software up-to-date, for pro- 
ducts such as Norton Internet Security 2006 
(, you can use the included 
LiveUpdate software to go online and check for up- 
dates. The software will connect with the manufac- 
turer's product server, look for any patches or new 
signature files, and then download and install them. 

My trash service won't haul my old PC, 
monitor, or batteries. How do I get rid of these? 

Answer: Most private and municipal waste disposal 
services refuse to collect items that contain haz- 
ardous materials such as the chemicals found in bat- 
teries, old PCs, and inside CRT (cathode-ray tube) 
monitors. You'll need to do a little research to find a 
disposal option for your old equipment. 

First, if you're upgrading existing equipment, 
the company that you buy from may offer to 

accept your old equipment for recycling. For ex- 
ample, Dell accepts any old systems when you 
buy a new system from the company. Dell also 
partners with the National Cristina Foundation 
to refurbish old working systems for the disad- 
vantaged. However, if you can't unload your old 
hardware through a company program, check 
the phone directory for recyclers in your area 
that specialize in handling environmental haz- 
ards such as batteries or CRTs. Contact those 
local recyclers for their pick up/drop-off terms 
and pricing information. 

V!.- ■:.■■:; : 


Ad Blocking Content Updates 

' . I : " ': ':'•' ■:",.:' \ . 

.-:■': :■ .1 .. • 

# LiveUpdate 

'. :.:'::; ' t ! ■..■:. ' ! .'" ." . '. 

Norton Antivirus 

■ .;'■ ■ ■ , ! ■ ' ' ■ "a: 

, ... . ... ...... 



n Off 

: .'. : ., 


Dial-up users 
can manually 
update their 
security software 
and should get 
into the habit 
of performing 
regular updates. 

General Security Privacy Content Connections Programs Advanced 



......... ... 

First-party Cookies Third-party Cookies 

O Accept O Accept 

Block Block 

© Prompt © Prompt 

Always allow session cookies 


| Cancel 

Use Internet 
Explorer to block 
unwanted cookies 
from being 
deposited on 
your computer. 

74 January 2007 / 

Quick Tips 



Optical Discs 

Word 2003 

n: I hear that cookies can be dangerous. Is 
there a way to block them? 

Answer: A cookie is a small piece of textual infor- 
mation stored on your computer's hard drive by 
some Web sites that you visit. Most cookies 
simply help to identify you to the Web site. While 
most cookies are innocuous, some can present a 
security threat, so it is possible to configure your 
Web browser to block cookies. 

In Internet Explorer, click Tools, Internet 
Options, select the Privacy tab, and click the 

Advanced button. Select the Override Automatic 
Cookie Handling checkbox and opt to prompt for 
first-party and third-party cookies by selecting 
the appropriate radio buttons. Click OK and 
Apply before closing the Internet Options dialog 
box. Now when a cookie arrives, you can accept 
or deny the cookie at your discretion. In the 
Internet Options dialog box, you can also delete 
old cookies from your PC by selecting the 
General tab and clicking the Delete Cookies 
button. Keep in mind that blocking cookies may 
prevent some convenient customization options 
on sites that you find useful. 

r. Why does my laptop get less than two 
hours of use from a charged battery? It used to get 
about four hours from a charge cycle. 

Answer: Check your laptop's power conservation 
settings. Open the Start menu, access the Control 
Panel, and select Power Options (in Classic View). 
While better CPU or graphics co-processor per- 
formance might help with gaming or DVD play- 
back, it also uses more battery power. Reset 
the laptop's power management settings when 

running on battery power and then check your 
battery running time again. 

If your battery's life is still short, try a few deep 
discharge cycles. This means charging the battery 
fully and then running the laptop until the 
battery is essentially exhausted. Repeat the full 
charge/discharge cycle several times and see if 
that makes a difference. If not, the battery pack 
itself may simply be nearing the end of its 
working life and should probably be replaced. 

What is the best way to clean a dirty CD 
or DVD? What should I use to fix scratches? 

Answer: The best way to clean a dirty optical 
disc (CD or DVD) is to wipe the data surface 
with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth. Do not wipe 
the disc in a circular pattern. Instead, wipe the 
surface in straight lines starting from the center 
of the disc and wiping toward the outer edges. 
This prevents you from making scratches in the 
disc along the spiral data track. You can 
dampen the cloth with a little water if it's ab- 
solutely necessary. 

Optical discs are designed to read past most slight 
scratches, so there's no need to panic if you notice 
a few minor dings on the disc as long as the it 
reads properly in the PC. Deep scratches or cracks 
on the disc are more serious. While there are nu- 
merous commercial products on the market that 
claim to fix scratched discs, those products may 
not be able to correct a scratch or crack that is 
bad enough to make the disc unreadable. 

The best way to avoid getting your discs dirty or 
scratched is to keep them safe. Always store 
discs in their protective plastic jewel cases. 

Is there an easy way to save Word docu- 
ments to my laptop instead of having to retrieve 
them from the company network? 

Answer: You can simply save a document to your 
network and then use the File, Save As option in 
Microsoft Word 2003 to save another copy of 
the document to another location (for instance, 
to your laptop). Word can automatically save a 

copy of the file to your local PC. To do so, 
click Tools, Options, select the Save tab, and 
then select the Make Local Copy Of Files Stored 
On Network Or Removable Drives checkbox. 
Click OK to save your changes. Now, when 
Word saves your document to the network, a 
copy should also appear on your laptop so 
that you can continue working on it outside 
of the office. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 75 

i d b 

Compiled by Marty Sems 
Graphics & Design by Lindsay Anker 

Is The Hard Drive Dead? 

A New Generation Of Storage 

Are hard drives obsolete? For 50 years, these 
workhorses have stored computer data mag- 
netically on spinning disks. That's right: 
physically spinning disks with little arms physically 
moving read/write heads back and forth over them. 
In the 21st century, shouldn't we all be running our 
PCs on solid-state flash memory by now? 

In cell phones and many portable devices, non- 
volatile flash memory chips and cards (which are 
able to remember data when powered down) win 
out over tiny hard drives. In contrast, hard drives 
still run the show in desktop computers, high- 
capacity music players, and game consoles. 

Notebooks will be the big battleground between 
flash and hard drives in the next year or so. People 
want smaller laptops with longer battery lives that 
can still load Windows in a minute or less — and 
that's more than hard drives can deliver. 

A hybrid drive, 
such as this 
Momentus 5400 PSD 
from Seagate, uses flash 
memory to speed up tasks 
such as bootup, yet it also uses 
hard disks for mass storage 
duties. Microsoft built support for 
hybrids into Windows Vista with the 
ReadyDrive feature (code-named Piton) 


Price. The biggest advantage of hard drives is the price 
per gigabyte of storage. A 32GB SSD (Solid-State Disk) 
from PQI ( cost about $1,800 ($56.25 per 
gigabyte) online at this writing, as compared to a $90, 
120GB (75 cents per gigabyte), 2.5-inch notebook hard 
drive or a $90, 300GB (30 cents per gigabyte), 3.5-inch 
desktop drive. Although flash memory is getting bigger and 
cheaper, hard drives still win this battle easily and will con- 
tinue to do so for at least the next few years. 

Capacity. Samsung's Flash SSDs can replace mobile hard 
drives with up to 64GB of capacity. However, hard drives 
currently top out at 200GB in notebooks and an as- 
tounding 750GB in desktops. 

A 64GB SSD is big enough to store Windows Vista, 
Microsoft Office, and several applications, but probably not 
a music and photo collection. Capacities are growing for 
both flash and hard drives. 

Reliability. Solid-state memory has no moving parts, 
which would seem to make it more reliable than mechanical 
hard drives. If a laptop falls to the carpet, its hard drive 
might fail. An SSD might withstand about 50% more im- 
pact before losing data. 

On the other hand, when flash memory goes bad, it often 
quits working abruptly, whereas hard drives may gradually 

lose data from increasing numbers of bad sectors. This slow 
decline means that hard drive users stand a better chance at 
backing up remaining data than flash users. 

Furthermore, hard drives can be rewritten with data 
many more times than solid-state memory, which has a 
finite (but large) theoretical life span, such as 100,000 
rewrites. Companies such as Intel ( and 
msystems ( have developed "wear- 
leveling" data storage algorithms to help flash memory 
survive longer. 

Power. Flash memory takes much less power to run than 
a hard drive, which means a device can use smaller bat- 
teries. Solid-state memory also can be made physically 
smaller. Both advantages help flash fit into tinier portable 
gadgets than hard drives. 

Speed. Most desktop hard drives are faster than most 
types of flash memory for sequential transfers of large files 
such as video. However, some types of nonvolatile memory 
are faster than 2.5-inch or smaller hard drives. Flash is also 
quicker to react to the majority of PC data accesses, 
meaning random requests of smaller files, according to 
Intel. Thus, solid-state memory could make a PC effectively 
faster than a hard drive for most purposes. 

76 January 2007 / 

Price Comparison: 
Flash Memory vs. Hard Drives 

^^™ Flash Memory 
^™ ■ 1-Inch Hard Drives 

2.5-Jnch Hard Drives 
^— ■ 3.5-tnch Hard Drives 


""^* "n ^^^^^^^^ 

""'" *** tT^^^ " i _ 

"* • - *■ - - .. 

i 1 1 i i i i i i i i i i i i 

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f» ^ 0^ -rfP -tf^ 


Flash's Future 

Solid-state memory won't totally replace the hard drive 
in the next few years (except in some notebooks, such as 
Samsung's Ql and Q30), but it soon will be lending the 
older mass storage device a helping hand. Windows Vista's 
SuperFetch feature can use part of a USB flash memory 
drive as speedy storage for frequently accessed data. 

In a similar vein, upcoming motherboards, such as those 
based on Intel's Santa Rosa mobile chipset for Centrino 
Duo notebooks, will come with that company's NV Disk 
Cache, or Robson, technology. Robson-equipped mother- 
boards will make laptops more responsive with 4GB of 
nonvolatile memory, probably on a card in a PCI Express 
Mini Card slot. 

Flash memory is helping out hard drives in a more direct 
way, too. The two technologies are joining forces to make 
hybrid drives at Samsung ( and Seagate 
( A current hard drive uses 2 to 16MB of 
memory as a cache buffer to smooth out data transfers to 
the hard disk and supply recently accessed data more 
quickly. However, volatile cache buffers forget their data 
when the hard drive shuts off. 

A hybrid hard drive, such as Samsung's FlashON or 
Seagate's Momentus 5400 PSD (Power-Saving Drive), uses 
128MB or 256MB of nonvolatile NAND flash memory in 
addition to its cache buffer. Because a nonvolatile cache can 
remember its data even after a reboot, it makes a good place 
to store system state information and OS files. The result is 
faster boot times, quicker resumes from a hibernation state, 
and even longer battery life for notebooks because the PC 
can let the hard drive spin down without making the com- 
puter less responsive. Seagate expects to release a hybrid 
hard drive in the first half of this year, but Samsung hopes 
to ship its hybrid in the first quarter. 

Special thanks to Andy Marken. 

Flash memory still costs roughly 1 to 20 times as much per 
gigabyte as 2.5-inch notebook and 3.5-inch desktop hard 
drives, so only small amounts will appear in PCs until the 
price comes down. On the other hand, flash has nearly 
replaced 1-inch hard drives in mobile devices because it 
doesn't cost much more. (Sources: E. Grochowski, Coughlin 
Associates, Semico, Web-Feet Research, Andy Marken.) 

A Samsung Flash SSD 
can directly replace a 
hard drive in a mobile 
device. It might cost 
10 or 20 times as 
much, but it speeds up 
a PC in several ways. 

Hybrid Drive Benefits 




/.acirjrjrjrjjigr^ interface 



A hybrid hard drive saves power by using its 128MB or 256MB of 
nonvolatile cache memory as much as possible, only spinning up 
its hard disks when the cache is full or lacks a piece of data. 
Source: Samsung 

Intel's NV (nonvolatile) 
Disk Cache feature, code- 
named Robson, uses flash 
memory in a small card 
on the motherboard for 
faster bootups and other 
common hard drive tasks. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 77 

Smart Computing Online 

Find Solutions Today ! 

Very few things are more frustrating than computing 
problems. One is not knowing where to go to find an- 
swers. The next time your computer doesn't boot up or 
your printer won't print, search the Tech Support Center at Simply click any one of the Top 
Subject links next to the search field or enter a phrase of 
your own. You'll find answers from our 
Solutions Knowledgebase and 
Basic Troubleshooting articles, 
as well as additional results 
from our Editorial Archive. 

You can also find answers 
by browsing the Common 
Problems & Frequently Asked 
Questions area that provides 
helpful translations and easy- 

to-understand solutions to numerous computing problems. 
Simply log on to and find the an- 
swers you're looking for today! 

1 Go to www.smartcom and click 
the Tech Support 
Center link. 

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

3 Browse articles from 
various sections, in- 
cluding Solutions 
Knowledgebase, the 
Q&A Archive, and 
much, much more! 

inbort h ■»■««— mien*.—* 

lift lo'j^t- 

Ho.* io(*; i- 

4 If you can't find an an- 

swer to your question, try posting your question on our 
reader-response Q&A Board. (Keep in mind that this fea- 
ture is available only to paid subscribers.) 

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

^^^■^^ If you post a query on the Q&A 

^^^^^^^^ Board and receive an answer that 

^m ^B ^^k solves the problem, take a quick 

H ^^^^^V^v^L moment and note that in the 
^^^^2 A thread. Doing so will give you the 

^^^^^ <^^^^» opportunity to thank the reader 
t ^L who helped you out. And be- 

cause the questions are archived, 
if someone else experiences the same problem you did, he'll 
know which of the posted solutions might work best. 


Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP Service 
Pack 1 in October, meaning new patches and updates will not 
be forthcoming. It's no trick to update to Service Pack 2, 
though. Go to 
.mspx and follow the links. You'll be back in the loop in no 

time at all. 

In January 1533, 

England's Henry 

VIII married 

Anne Boleyn, 

the second of 

his six wives. 

She allegedly 

had six fingers 

on one hand, and 

her dear husband later 
had her beheaded. The word "king" appears 644 times on; the word "wives," however, only 
appears about 1 1 times. 

The Q&A Set Options page allows you to provide infor- 
mation about your 

computer to Other View Pending Post A Que 

posters, as well as set View My Questions Or View My Respc 

,. , r View Questions Without An; 

your own display pref- ^ 

erences. At the top of Set Of 

the Q&A page, click the View 'Subscribed; Mes| 

Set Options link in the View In Larger 

upper-right corner. How To Use The Q&A E 

V 7 

78 January 2007 / 


What To Do When .. . 

Your ISP Or Email 
Application Blocks A Sender 

Most of the time, you're probably thankful 
when your email application blocks a mes- 
sage from a particular sender. That usually 
means your spam filter, whether it's part of an 
antivirus program or a third-party application your 
ISP (Internet service provider) is using to keep junk 
from your inbox, is working properly. However, oc- 
casionally your email program or ISP may block a 
virus-free message from a known, legitimate sender. 
When this happens, what should you do? 

Email Solutions 

First, check your email program for blocked 
senders. If you're using Microsoft Outlook Express, 
open the Tools menu, click Message Rules, 
and then select Blocked Senders List. 
The resulting window lists email 
addresses and newsgroups 
that Outlook Express is 
blocking. If an email 
address is blocked, all 
messages from that 
address automati- 
cally will be sent 
to the Deleted 
Items folder. 

If there is an 
address on this list 
you do not want 
blocked, highlight the 
address you want to re- 
ceive messages from, click 
the Remove button, and then 
click OK. This will undo the set- 
ting, and you will now receive 
email messages in your Inbox 
from that sender. 

Unblocking email 
addresses in Micro- 
soft Outlook is a bit 
more complicated. 

Choose the Rules And Alerts command from the 
Tools menu. The New Rule command lets users 
follow a short wizard in which they can set up 
specific rules for how they want messages from a 
sender treated. For example, you could follow the 
prompts to create a rule that says, "When I receive 
an email from Bob Smith with an attachment, 
delete it." 

The Rules And Alerts command also con- 
tains a Change Rule button, which will be acti- 
vated once a rule is created. Assuming that an 
existing rule is blocking one or more senders, 
highlight the rule and click the Change Rule 
button to undo a restrictive command on a 
specific sender. 

Enable Authentication 

Once you've checked these settings in your 
preferred email program, you may need to 
verify that your ISP isn't blocking a sender you 
want to receive messages from. 

One reason an ISP might block a sender is if it 
can't authenticate, or verify, that the sender is in 
fact who he claims to be. If the sender hasn't en- 
abled the authentication process from his end of 
things, then the ISP can't authenticate either. 

A typical user doesn't have to worry about 
the authentication standard his ISP might 
use, whether SIDF (Sender ID Framework), 
SPF (Sender Policy Framework), or DKIM 
(DomainKeys Identified Mail), but he should 
enable the authentication process if you or the 
sender suspects this is the cause for blocked 
email messages. 

To do this, the sender should open Outlook 
Express, click Tools, click Accounts, and select 
the Mail tab. On the Servers tab, he should find 
the Outgoing Mail Server section and select 
the checkbox next to My Server Requires 
Authentication. Doing this will activate the 
Settings button. The sender should click the 

Smart Computing / January 2007 79 


Unblock Emails 

(* Use same sett 11 is 
C Log on using 

Account name: | 


p Remember password 


V Logon using Si 
Mail Server 

• ■ :■; :;: 

Settings button to 
open the Outgoing 
Mail Server dialog 
box. He can choose 
to keep the same log- 
on settings (name 
and password) used 
for incoming mail 
(recommended) or 
change them. The 
sender should click 
OK to save any logon 
changes and then 
click Apply and OK. 

Finding the com- 
parable setting in 
Outlook takes a little 
more effort. The sender should open 
the Tools menu, choose E-mail 
Accounts, select the View Or Change 
Existing E-mail Accounts radio 
button, and then click Next. He can 
highlight his email account name, 
click Change, and then click More 
Settings. On the Outgoing Server tab, 
the sender should select the checkbox 
next to My Outgoing Server (SMTP) 
Requires Authentication and indicate 
that he wants to use the same settings 
as his incoming mail server and then 
click OK. 

Requiring authentication means that 
the sender has to log on to the out- 
going server each time he sends email. 
Although it should be an automated 
process, this could mean that he'll have 
to enter his username and possible 
password before sending a message. 

Blacklisted IP Address 

Knowing the protocols used to 
send and receive messages is helpful 
in exploring possible email problems, 
especially if the cause of blocked 
email messages is a blacklisted IP 
(Internet Protocol) address. SMTP 
(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the 
protocol used to transmit email mes- 
sages between servers. It's also used to 
send email from a computer to a 
server. However, an email protocol, 
such as POP3 (Post Office Protocol) 
or IMAP (Internet Message Access 

V : .:;.; ■':, j ; ;,■; ; - 


Microsoft Outlook allows users to 
create all sorts of rules for blocking 
email senders — rules you may 
eventually need to change. 

Protocol), is likely 
what your computer 
uses to retrieve mes- 
sages from a server. 

Blacklisting occurs 
when IP addresses are 
identified as frequent 
sources of spam. That 
usually happens when 
open relay technol- 
ogy is used to trans- 
mit email messages. 
Through open relay, a 
mail server processes 
a message in which 
neither the sender nor 
the receiver is inside 
the local domain. While open relay 
technology is the way to communicate 
with people via email outside your do- 
main — in other words, with all the 
people whose email address after the @ 
symbol differs from yours — it also 
enables spammers to hide the source 
of all the junk mail they blast 
into inboxes. 

ORDB (Open Re- 
lay Database; www is one 
Web site that main- 
tains a list of IP ad- 
dresses that allow 
the use of open re- 
lay. Incoming mail 
servers can use ORDB 
and similar sites to 
weed out any poten- 
tial spam. 

Here is how it 
works. Let's say your 
friend Jo uses her 
outgoing mail server 
to send you an email. 
Jo's SMTP server 
makes a connection with your in- 
coming mail server, likely a POP3 or 
IMAP server, and attempts to deliver 
the email. 

But before it accepts the email, 
your incoming mail server might con- 
tact the ORDB database to see if Jo's 
outgoing mail server is listed there. If 
Jo's outgoing mail server is listed, 
then your incoming mail server may 

reject the email, and Jo will receive a 
message — one of those dreaded 
Mailer- Daemon messages — that says 
her email was undeliverable. 

If your incoming mail server, 
which is managed by your ISP, is 
blocking an email sender because her 
outgoing mail server has been black- 
listed, there's nothing you can do. 
However, your friend can look at the 
ORDB database to see if her ISP's do- 
main name is listed there. If it is, she 
should contact her system adminis- 
trator. At this point, it's up to your 
friend's ISP to correct the problem. 

Likewise, if you start receiving 
bounced email messages that can't be 
delivered, and you are sure the email 
address to which you are sending the 
emails is correct, you should contact 
your system administrator. 

MAPS ( is 
another Web site that maintains a data- 
base of blacklisted IP addresses. If you 
or a friend receives a bounced message 
that tells you to visit MAPS, notify 
your system adminis- 
trator immediately. 


Update Your Lists 

:-.:;;. : : if. f! 



un (click an underlined value) 

Apply this rule 




sage arrives 


ttai IT 


Change the settings in Microsoft 
Outlook or Outlook Express to 
enable SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer 
Protocol) authentication. 

More often than 
not, you can resolve 
blocked email prob- 
lems by tweaking set- 
tings in your email 
or antivirus applica- 
tion. Don't overlook 
this possibility, espe- 
cially if your ISP em- 
ploys a third-party 
spam blocker, such 
as Postini (www.pos Programs 
such as this work fairly well but not 
perfectly. They rely on filters and 
approved/blocked sender lists that you 
should keep updated, because spam- 
mers change their IP addresses to get 
around the very roadblocks we use to 
keep them out of — and our friends 
in — our inboxes. II 

by Rachel Derowitsch 

80 January 2007 / 


Examining Errors 

by Jeff Dodd 

Problem: Each time a reader starts 

Windows Me, he receives an error 

message. The reader believes his 

system is running slowly because of the 

error. He also reports that his Internet 

connection is running very slowly 

since he began receiving the error. 

Error Message: "Ibm00003 has 

caused an error in Ibm00003.dll. 

Ibm00003 will now close. Restart 

your computer if you experience 

more problems." 


Solution: Ibm00003 is a malware 
file associated with a Trojan horse 
known as Torpig-G, Sinowal-D, 
Trojan. IBM/Shell.Process, and other 
names. This particular Trojan can 
log keystrokes, steal passwords, and 
transmit private data to a remote 
server, all of which can slow down a 
system and its Internet connection. 
The reader should remove the 
Trojan immediately. 

To do so, the reader should clean 
the Registry. (It is important that the 
reader back up the Registry before 
making any changes to it, as changing 
or deleting any critical settings may 
render the system inoperable.) He can 
access the Registry Editor by opening 
the Start menu, selecting Run, typing 
regedit in the Open field of the re- 
sulting Run dialog box, and click- 
ing OK. In the Registry Editor, he 
should locate the HKEY_LOCAL_MA- 
click the corresponding Shell value, 
and select Modify from the pop-up 
menu. The Edit String dialog box 

will appear. The reader should then 
highlight the contents of the Value 
Data field, press the DELETE key, type 
explorer.exe, and click OK. 

The reader needs to find the System, 
ini file on his computer (it's probably 
located in the C:\WINDOWS folder). 
He should right-click it, select Open 
With from the pop-up menu, and 
choose Notepad in the resulting Open 
With dialog box. The contents of the 
System.ini file will appear. The reader 
should look for and delete any refer- 
ence to IbmOOOOx that he finds inside. 
He then should save the change, close 
Notepad, and reboot the PC. 

The reader should search for and 
delete the following files from the hard 
drive: Ibm00001.dll, Ibm00003.dll, 
Ibm00003.exe, Ibm00004.dll, Torpiao 
.dll, Wbvoct.dll, and any file that has 
IbmOOOO in its name. He needs to up- 
date his antivirus utility and run a full 
system scan. If the reader doesn't have 
an antivirus utility, such as McAfee 
VirusScan Plus ($39.99; www.mcafee 
.com) or Symantec's Norton Antivirus 
($39.99;, he needs 
to get one now. I 

Problem: When a reader tries to 

access the Control Panel in Windows, 

he receives an error message. He 

noticed that the message first 

appeared after he upgraded to 

WinXP SP2 (Service Pack 2). 

Error Message: "An error occurred 

while Windows was working with 

the Control Panel file C:\Windows\ 

System3 2\Netsetup . cpl. " 

Solution: WinXP SP2 is known to 
create a variety of problems. This par- 
ticular Netsetup.cpl error is one of 
them. It occurs because the Control 
Panel in the latest version of Windows 
conflicts with a computer monitoring 
tool referred to as Ipmon32.exe, which 
is part of the Visual IP InSight utility 
that comes bundled with some DSL 
(Digital Subscriber Line) installations. 
The reader can resolve this conflict in 
one of two ways. 

The most effective solution is for the 
reader to access the Add Or Remove 
Programs utility in the Control Panel, 
locate Visual IP InSight among the in- 
stalled programs, and click the corre- 
sponding Remove button to delete it. 
He should follow the on-screen in- 
structions to eliminate the utility and 
then reboot his computer. 

If that solution doesn't work for 
some reason, the reader can try to 
deactivate the Ipmon32.exe file in 
the SCU (System Configuration 
Utility). To access the SCU, the 
reader should click Start and click 
Run. In the Run dialog box, he 
should type msconfig in the Open 
field and click OK. The reader should 
open the Startup tab and review 
the item listed for Ipmon32. When 
he finds it, he can deselect that op- 
tion on the list and click OK. The 
reader should then reboot the system 
when prompted. 

The reader should note that some 
forms of malware hide damaging code 
inside files that bear the Ipmon32 
name. For this reason, we also en- 
courage the reader to scan his system 
for viruses and spyware. I 

Smart Computing / January 2007 81 


Examining Errors 

Problem: A reader reports that she 

receives an error message each time 

she starts her computer. 

Error Message: "Error loading: 

Mywebs\bar\ 1 .bin\mwsbar.dll. 

The specified module could 

not be found." 

1 :'JJ LIJ-I- 

move Programs f^"]fn][x] 

Change or 

Currently installed programs: Q 5 now 

Sort by: |pjame 

Size 322.00MB ^ 


|E» Adobe Acn sr 6.0.3 Update 
|L T Adobe Acr -r 6.0.4 Update 

Add Mew 

Size 0.56MB 

' ' ' . ■ 

Size 2.17MB 


§^ Adobe Atmos, jnd Adobe Reader 



iz } Adobe Flash Player 9 ActiveX 

# Adobe Illustrator CS 
@ Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1 

Size 334.00MB 
Size 136.00MB 


Sec 25.80MB 


Click here for support information. 

Used occasionally 

Set Program 
Access and 

To change this program or remove it from your computer., die 
Change or Remove. 

| Change || Remove 

d£j Adobe 5VG Viewer 3,0 



^(r 1.46MB 

.:'..'-.. . '....' ... 

|]gJ ATI - Software Uninstall Utility 

11 ATI Control Panel 

Size 13.02MB v 

Solution: We have good news and 
bad news. The good news is that the 
reader's computer has not contracted 
a Trojan horse. The bad news is that it 
has picked up some adware along the 
way. MyWebSearch Toolbar comes 
bundled with various programs as a 
browser tool that enables users to 
search multiple online search engines 
simultaneously. However, it also de- 
livers targeted advertisements to a PC. 
The reader should be able to 
remove the toolbar 
by going to the Start 
menu, opening the 
Control Panel, and 
selecting the Add/Re- 
move Programs tool 
(or Add Or Remove 
Programs in Windows 
XP). She should peruse 
the list of installed 
programs for any ref- 
erences to My Search, 
My Way, or My Web. 
The reader should 
highlight the offend- 
ing program, click its 

corresponding Remove button, and 
follow the on-screen instructions to 
complete the uninstall. She should re- 
peat the process, if necessary, to re- 
move all similar adware references 
and then reboot the computer. 

Next, the reader should obtain a 
reputable antispyware utility, in- 
stall it on her computer, and run 
a full system scan to eliminate 
any other adware and spyware that 
may have contaminated her PC. 
Two of the most reputable anti- 
spyware utilities currently avail- 
able are Webroot's Spy Sweeper 
($29.95; and 
CA's eTrust PestPatrol Anti-Spyware 

Finally, we would be remiss if we 
didn't point out that removal of 
MyWebSearch Toolbar may have an 
adverse effect on the program that in- 
troduced it to the system. If a pro- 
gram suddenly starts acting funny, 
the reader may deduce that this was 
the carrier application. She should 
uninstall this program from her 
system, too. I 

Problem: While uninstalling some 

seldom-used programs, a reader 

accidentally deleted his productivity 

software. He tried reinstalling 

Microsoft Works Suite 2004 and 

Microsoft Office Small Business 2003 

but ended up receiving an error 

message instead. The reader has 

WinXP installed on his computer. 

SQL Server 

Error Message: "Your SQL Server 

Installation is either corrupt or has 

been tampered with (could not open 

SQLEVN70.RLL). Please uninstall 

then re-run setup to correct 

this problem." 

Solution: This error message tends 
to occur when users try to rename 
their computers. It appears that has 
not happened in this case. What ex- 
actly has happened is uncertain, but 
we suspect the error relates to a faulty 
Microsoft Office installation. 

To fix the problem, the reader 
should use the Add Or Remove 
Programs tool in the Control Panel to 
uninstall Microsoft Works Suite and 
Microsoft Office Small Business. He 
should reboot his system after each 

uninstall. While he's at it, he should 
peruse the list of installed programs 
for references to SQL Server (a data- 
base program) and delete every in- 
stance of it that he finds. 

After rebooting the PC, we recom- 
mend the reader perform a complete 
system maintenance routine. That 
means checking the hard drive for disk 
errors and fragmentation, cleaning out 
old files in the Temporary folders, run- 
ning virus and spyware scans, and 
downloading the latest updates for his 
system (including all recommended 
and required Windows updates). 
When the updates are complete, he 
can reinstall Microsoft Office Small 
Business. Lastly, he should reboot his 
system and then install Microsoft 
Works Suite. I 

Have questions about an error message you've seen? Send us your message (, and 

we'll try to decipher it. Tell us what version of Windows you're using, give the full text of the error message, 

and provide as many details in your explanation as possible. Volume prohibits individual replies. 

82 January 2007 / 


Fast Fixes 

Security Update For Windows XP 
Service Pack 2 

Problem: Microsoft has identified 
a vulnerability in the way Windows 
processes VML (Vector Markup 
Language) that could let an attacker 
take control of a PC and execute 
code remotely. 

Resolution: Go to 
.com/downloads to install a 784KB 
patch. Type KB925486 in the Search 
field and click Go. Scroll through the 
search results until you find Security 
Update For Windows XP Service Pack 
2. Click to select it. Click the Down- 
load button in the blue box in the 
center of the page. A dialog box will 
appear and prompt you to either run 
or download the file WindowsXP- 
KB925486-x86-ENU.exe. Choose to 
download the file. Once the download 
is complete, locate the file on your 
drive and double-click it to launch 
the installer. 
WinAmp Pro 5.3 

Problem: NullSoft identified a bug 
in WinAmp Pro 5.2x which would 
not allow users to burn discs at speeds 
of greater than 4X, even if the optical 
drive supported faster write speeds. In 
addition, the player may experience 
frequent crashes or freezing. 

Resolution: When you launch 
WinAmp Pro, if a dialog box appears 
and states that Version 5.3 is avail- 
able, choose to install the latest ver- 
sion and follow the instructions 
provided on-screen. If you have an 
earlier version, but no dialog box ap- 
pears to notify you of the update, go 
/client/winamp53_pro.exe. When 
prompted, choose to save the file to 
your hard drive. Locate the file you 
downloaded (Winamp53_pro.exe) 
and double- click it to launch the in- 
staller. When prompted, enter your 

WinAmp Pro registration key in the 
designated field and click OK. 

Hamrick Software VueScan 8.3.70 

Problem: Hamrick Software has 
identified a problem in which Vue- 
Scan did not properly process some 
high- resolution scans. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this update from Hamrick Software's 
site ( Click the 
VueScan link at the top of the page. In 
the If You're Using Windows box, 
click Click Here to download the 
2.79MB file. When prompted to ei- 
ther run or save the file, choose to 
save the file to your hard drive. Find 
the file (Vuesca83.exe) you just 
downloaded and double-click it. Once 
VueScan loads, click the Help menu 
and About VueScan. Enter your serial 
number and customer number in the 
designated fields to register the up- 
dated version of VueScan. Click OK. 
Update For Windows 2000 KB925308 

Problem: After the installation of 
Security Update KB920958, Win2000 
systems running on an NTFS (NT file 
system) -formatted drive may corrupt 
compressed files larger than 4KB. 

Resolution: Go to Microsoft's 
Downloads page ( 
.com/downloads) to download and 
install a 1.5MB file. Type KB925308 
in the Search field and click Go. Then 
click Update For Windows 2000 
(KB925308). Click the Download 
button at the top of the Quick Details 
box. A dialog box will prompt you to 
either run or save the file. Choose to 
save it to your hard drive. After the 
download is complete, locate and 
double-click the file Windows2000- 
KB925308-x86-ENU.exe. After the 

installation, you may need to restart 
your computer. 

Fix Of The Month 

iTunes 7.0.1 

Problem: Many iTunes 7.0 
users reported frequent applica- 
tion or system crashes, sluggish 
performance of Cover Flow, and 
problems importing CDs and 
syncing iPods. 

Resolution: Download and in- 
stall iTunes 7.0.1, which addresses 
many of the bugs in the previous 
release. To install the latest version 
of iTunes, go to 
/downloads. You may be redi- 
rected to Mac OS X Downloads 
page, which is OK. In the Search 
Downloads field, type iTunes 7.0.1 
and press ENTER. Click iTunes 
7.0.1 - Apple from the list of 
search results. On the resulting 
iTunes 7.0.1 download page, click 
the Download button on the right 
side of the screen. Make sure that 
the Windows 2000 Or XP radio 
button is selected. If you don't 
want to receive email messages 
from Apple, deselect the Email Me 
New Music Tuesday And Special 
iTunes Offers and Keep Me Up To 
Date With Apple News, Software 
Updates, And The Latest Infor- 
mation On Products And Services 
checkboxes. Enter your email ad- 
dress in the designated field and 
click the Download iTunes 7.0.1 - 
Free button. When prompted, 
choose to save the file to your hard 
drive. Locate the iTunesSetup.exe 
file you just downloaded and 
double-click it. Follow the in- 
structions on-screen to complete 
the update. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 83 



Need help with your hardware or software? Looking for simple 
explanations on technical subjects? Send us your questions! 

Get straight answers to your technical questions from Smart Computing. Send your questions, 
along with a phone and/or fax number, so we can call you if necessary, to: Smart Computing 
Q&A, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501, or email us at q& Please in- 
clude all version numbers for the software about which you're inquiring, operating system infor- 
mation, and any relevant information about your system. (Volume prohibits individual replies.) 



QI have a Dell 8100 with Windows XP 
Home SP2 (Service Pack 2), 256MB 
RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce 5200 video 
card. I recently replaced the monitor with a 
19-inch LCD. When I run games, such as 
Flight Simulator or Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, 
the images are jerky. I also increased virtual 
memory to 1GB, which was no help. My 
hard drive is 120GB and is less than one- 
fourth used. Do I need more RAM, a better 
video card, or what? 

A We checked with Ubisoft (, 
publishers of Uru, for the minimum re- 
quirements of the game. Your 1.3 GHz Pentium 
4 system exceeds the requirements for the 
processor, just meets the memory and graphics 
requirements, and exceeds the hard drive space 
requirements. It never hurts when you're run- 
ning WinXP to have 512MB of memory or 
better, but virtual memory (the paging file size) 
never needs to be more than 2.5 times the 
amount of physical memory you have. 

Here are the minimum requirements for 
Uru: Ages Beyond Myst: 

• Supported Operating Systems: Windows 
98SE/Me/2000/XP (Only) 

• Processor: 800MHz Pentium III; AMD 
Athlon or better 

• RAM: 256MB or more 

• Video Card: 32MB Nvidia GeForce 
1, 2, 3, 4, or FX; ATI Radeon 7000 to 
9800 or better 

• Sound Card: DirectX 8.1 -compatible 

• DirectX: DirectX 8.1 (included on disc) 

• CD-ROM: 4X or faster (not recommended 
for use with CD-RWs [CD-rewriteables]) 

• Hard Drive Space: 2GB 

• Peripherals Supported: mouse 
and keyboard 

• Display: 800 x 600 resolution, 16-bit color 

If we were you, we'd want more RAM first 
and a faster graphics controller with plenty of 
its own memory as soon as we could afford it. 



QFve had the same problem on my old Dell 
computer, as well as with my newer Dell 
5150, which I recently purchased. I'm trying to 
set up gamma through the Control Panel's 
Adobe Gamma. When I go into the Control 
Panel and click Adobe Gamma, the Description 
is sRGB IEC61996-2.1 and the Phosphors is 
HDTV (CCIR 709). I slide the gamma arrow to 
where I want it and then click OK. It then asks 
me to save sRGB Color Space Profile as ICC 
Profiles. When I click OK, it tells me one al- 
ready exists, so I click OK again. It replaces the 
old file and everything is fine — except for one 
problem. If I shut the computer down, the next 
time I start the computer, the gamma seems to 
be reset to some default. If I don't log off and 
keep the computer running, it doesn't change. 
How can I get this setting to be permanent? 

A What we have here is a collision between 
Windows XP and Adobe. WinXP wants 
to keep its default ICC (International Color 
Consortium) profile. When you make and 
save your changes, an Adobe application, the 
Adobe Gamma loader, comes into play and it 
overrides the WinXP default. 

However, when you reboot or otherwise 
restart your system, the Adobe Gamma 
loader isn't starting at the same time. 
According to documentation at Adobe's 
Web site (, the Adobe 
Gamma loader is supposed to have been in- 
stalled at the same time as you installed the 
Adobe application that added Adobe 
Gamma to your system. And a shortcut to 
the loader was supposed to have been added 
to your Startup folder (located in the Start 

84 January 2007 / 



menu in All Programs) so that it would start 
at the same time Windows loads. If this 
didn't occur or if you removed the icon 
from the Startup folder by mistake, your 
gamma settings won't be installed each time 
you restart Windows. Placing the Adobe 

Gamma loader shortcut in your Startup 
folder should resolve the problem. To add a 
program to this directory, simply locate the 
program you wish to add, create a shortcut 
for it, copy the shortcut, and then paste the 
shortcut in the Startup folder. 


QI have a 300GB drive filled with home 
videos, tax returns, and my family 
photo collection. What's the best way to back 
up my files? 

A We live in fortunate times; the price of 
storage in our computers has dropped as 
low as 20 cents per gigabyte. The upside is that 
you have plenty of room for digital images, 
music, and video. The downside is finding an 
affordable way to back up your precious data. 

Rewriteable CDs and DVDs are convenient 
for storing backups of small amounts of data 
(under 5GB), but for more space, the cheapest 
option is actually backing up to another hard 
drive. The initial cost is high, but no other 
back up process is faster than backing up to 
disk — and the per- gigabyte cost is almost as 
cheap as rewriteable DVDs. 

You can install a second drive into most 
computers, and there are numerous utilities 

that will automatically back up your primary 
drive. Hard drives can also be used in ex- 
ternal enclosures that connect to your com- 
puter via FireWire, USB, or the newer 
eSATA (external Serial ATA) connectors. 

Backing up your data to either CD/DVD 
or a hard drive is fine in the case of a system 
failure, but you'll also want to periodically 
copy files to a remote location for safe- 
keeping in the case of a fire or natural dis- 
aster. A hard drive fits well into a safe 
deposit box, but be sure to package it in an 
antistatic bag. 

Finally, you may want to investigate online 
backup services performed over the Internet. 
Utilities such as GDrive ( 
/code/gmail.htm) allow you to use Google's 
Gmail as a virtual hard drive at no extra cost. 
Another example,, offers 1GB of 
storage for $14.95 per month if you prefer a 
dedicated solution. 


Ql'm a new computer user, and for the 
past few months, I've been enjoying 
surfing the Internet and exchanging emails 
with my friends and relatives. Lately, how- 
ever, I've been upset by the number of 
messages I'm receiving from people I don't 
know. There's everything from stock offers 
and online pharmacies to promotions for sex 
sites and worse. How do I block these an- 
noying and sometimes offensive messages? 

A We could write a small booklet on bulk 
unsolicited commercial email, otherwise 
known as spam, and how to get rid of it. 
Instead, all we have room to offer are some 
simple pointers. 

Many ISPs (Internet service providers) now 
offer a spam-blocking service. Some charge a 

fee, although many refer to it as a free service 
included in your monthly account fee. 
Usually, the service is available, but you have 
to activate it. Go to your ISP's Web site and 
log in to your account settings (your login 
name and password are often the same as for 
your email account). Search for email services 
and check to see if there's a spam filter. The 
only thing you may want to remember once 
the spam filter is activated is to periodically 
check the junk mailbox that is often created 
for you to see if a birthday message from Aunt 
Martha landed there by mistake. 

If your ISP doesn't provide spam filtering or 
doesn't catch all of the junk mail sent your way, 
you still have other options. Several companies 
sell antispam filters, either as standalone prod- 
ucts or as part of a wider suite of security tools. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 85 



If you're not committed to your email pro- 
gram, you might consider switching from an 
email program that doesn't filter for junk 
mail — Outlook Express ( 
or Eudora (, for example — 
to one that can filter junk mail, such as 
Mozilla Thunderbird ( or 
the full-blown Microsoft Outlook. 

Lastly, if you get only a few pieces of spam, 
you can try direct filtering. Outlook Express 

calls its filters Message Rules (click Tools, 
Message Rules, and Mail). To access Thunder- 
bird's filters, open the Tools menu and click 
Message Filters. Eudora and Outlook have 
extensive filter subroutines, as well. 

However, unless and until something 
drastic is done about spammers (firing squads 
sound about right), we're afraid that the best 
option is to use the tools available with con- 
stant diligence on your part. 


Qln 2002, 1 purchased Microsoft Office XP 
Pro with Publisher, consisting of three 
CDs. The Compaq computer it came with has 
now been discarded. Can this software be used 
on any replacement PC that I purchase? Will it 
function, or was it for one-time use only? 

A MS Office XP was the first version of 
Office to require program activation. In 
addition to inputting the multicharacter serial 
number on the distribution CDs, you were 
also required to contact Microsoft (either on- 
line or by phone) for an activation key that 
would unlock the software. During installa- 
tion, Office would collect information about 
your computer's hardware components. If 
you made significant changes to this mix (say, 
added a new video card, more memory, 
a bigger hard drive, and/or an updated 

processor), then at some point, the software 
would require reactivation. The whole pur- 
pose, of course, was to prevent unscrupulous 
users from installing the product on multiple 
computers without paying for each license. 

If you perform a radical hardware upgrade 
(or, as in your case, replace the original system 
with a newer computer), one of two things 
may happen. You may attempt to reinstall and 
reactivate the software online automatically. It 
may work if there has been sufficient time be- 
tween your first and subsequent activation. If 
reactivating the software doesn't work, then 
you have to call Microsoft (you'll get a phone 
number if the activation fails) and convince 
the person who answers that you're entitled to 
use the software on your new system. It may 
be painless, or it may involve some stress — 
we've heard of both cases. 

This Old 

QI have a Compaq PC with Windows Me 
(build 4.90.300) and a 400MHz AMD 
K6-2 processor with 3DNow!. In Display 
Properties, the color quality setting is 16-bit 
and the screen resolution is 800 x 600 with no 
other choices. How do I get better color? 

A The number of colors you can see on- 
screen is a function of the video con- 
troller and depends on how much memory it 
has available to it. The driver for the video 
controller also has a role to play. The screen 
resolution is a function of the video con- 
troller, its driver, and the physical characteris- 
tics of your monitor. There is nothing about 
WinMe that would restrict the color depth or 

the upper resolution, unless you're using 
Windows' built-in generic VGA (Video 
Graphics Array) or SVGA (Super Video 
Graphics Array) drivers instead of a driver 
specific to the video controller you have. 

Check the video controller's driver. To do 
so, open the Control Panel and double-click 
the System icon. Open the Device Manager and 
find the video controller. Click the plus (+) 
symbol beside the heading. The brand (and 
quite possibly the model) of your video con- 
troller should be on the list. If there is a yellow 
exclamation point (!) beside the controller, 
click Properties to see what the problem is. 

If you can't discover who made your video 
controller or what model it is, and if you don't 

86 January 2007 / 



have the documentation that came with the 
system, you or a knowledgeable friend should 
open your system case and have a look. Don't 
forget to power your computer down and 
ground yourself against static electricity before 
you touch anything inside. Once you've 
looked at the video controller (you may have 
to take it out of the slot in which it's resting), 
put it back where you found it, button the case 
back up, and reattach the monitor at the back 
of the system. Restart your computer, get on- 
line, and then go to the video manufacturer's 
Web site. Look for updated drivers for WinMe 
and install them. See if that makes a difference. 
If not, there may not be enough memory on 

your video controller to give you more than 
16-bit (65,535) colors. 

Try increasing the resolution of your mon- 
itor when you have the new driver installed. If 
you adjust it to where you are unable to see 
anything on the monitor, don't panic — if you 
don't tell Windows to keep the new resolution, 
it will revert in 30 seconds. If the monitor be- 
comes unstable at a resolution higher than 800 
x 600, then the monitor doesn't have the cir- 
cuitry required to render the higher resolution. 
Given the age of your computer, you may want 
to start shopping. If you haven't done so for a 
while, you're going to be very surprised by the 
much lower prices in today's market. 


QThe hard drive in my computer died. It 
was making clicking noises before it 
stopped working completely. Unfortunately, 
it was out of warranty. I've replaced it with a 
cheap drive, but I want to replace it with one 
that's more reliable. What should I look for 
when buying a sturdy drive? 

A There are several criteria you can use when 
shopping for hard drives. A good starting 
point is the home page of the hard drive manu- 
facturer's Web site. 

One of the benefits of the competition be- 
tween drive manufacturers is lower prices for 
higher-performance drives. This also manifests 
itself in longer warranties for drives. We've had 
success with cheap drives and with expensive 
drives, but the one constant in our experience is 
that drives with long warranties tend to outlast 
their competitors. The norm for drive war- 
ranties is three years, but several vendors offer 
five-year warranties. 

Many hard drive manufacturers tout their 
drives' MTBF (mean time between failures) as a 
useful metric for determining how long your 
drive will last. Many drives are advertised with 
MTBF ratings in the millions of hours. This 
leads many consumers to think that their drives 
will last for centuries. Sadly, this is not the case. 

MTBF is determined by a statistical process 
that simulates the wear and tear a drive would 
experience in normal conditions. This mod- 
eling process relies heavily upon mathematical 

paradigms — not true physical tests performed 
in a laboratory. In addition, different vendors 
use different modeling techniques to determine 
their drives' MTBF. This limits the usefulness 
of MTBF to individual vendors. 

Drive manufacturers also have a more valid 
metric: the EOL (end of life) for a drive. This is 
the drive's useful life when operated under 
normal, recommended conditions. This figure 
can be hard to determine, however. We've al- 
ways considered the warranty for a drive to be 
equivalent to its EOL. But EOL isn't foolproof. 
We've had drives that have functioned properly 
far past their EOL mark, and we've had drives 
that have failed far short. 

A rule of thumb we've developed over the 
years to determine the likelihood of a drive 
failure is the 3% rule. In our experience, regard- 
less of how much we spend on buying the 
"best" drives, 3% of our drives will fail per year. 
So if our company has 100 computers, each 
with one drive, we'll have three drive failures 
per year. Of course, Murphy's Law often makes 
any statistical plans irrelevant, and we'll lose 10 
to 15 drives during a bad season. 

Treat your hard drive as a component that 
is likely to fail. No one enjoys going through 
the hassle of replacing a failed hard drive, but 
there are some steps you can take to ease the 
pain. Keep your software discs in a safe place, 
routinely back up your valuable data, and 
keep an ear out for any odd sounds emanating 
from your computer. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 87 





Answers to users' most common questions about Printing Costs 

Don't be afraid 

to use both 

sides of the 

paper for drafts. 

This won't hurt 

your printer. 

Simply keep 

your draft 

pages in a 

spare pile, and 

when you need 

to print drafts 

or test prints, 

insert a stack of 

the old paper 

so that the blank 

sides print. 

p A ^v I tear through a lot of paper. What 
l/\ v/ can I do to reduce paper use? 

There are tricks to saving paper. First, be a 
bit more selective about what you print. 
Today, most documents and images can be 
viewed directly on your PC's screen, so there's 
little sense in printing drafts of documents, 
emails, or family photos when you can simply 
view them through programs such as Word, 
Outlook, Adobe Reader, and so on. 

Print your drafts on inexpensive paper. Save 
the expensive textured and colored papers for 
special purposes or final results. Don't be afraid 
to use both sides of the paper for drafts. This 
won't hurt your printer. Simply keep your draft 
pages in a spare pile, and when you need to 
print drafts or test prints, insert a stack of the 
old paper so that the blank sides print. Printing 
on both sides cuts your paper costs in half. 

You also can fit multiple pages on a single 
piece of paper. To do so, you'll need to access 
the printer's settings and use the Zoom feature. 
Open a document in Word, open the File 
menu, and click Print. In the lower- right corner 
of the Print dialog box, select a number from 
the Pages Per Sheet drop-down menu. If neces- 
sary, reduce the document size using the Scale 
To Paper Size drop-down menu. For example, 
if you choose to print two pages per sheet, each 
page will contain two pages of your document. 
By printing two pages on both sides of a sheet, 
your paper cost drops 75%. 
p A ^v How can I save on ink and toner 
l/\ V^ for my printers? 

Ink and toner are the most expensive ele- 
ments in any print job, but there are some 
tricks that can help you conserve them. First, 
print your drafts in economy mode. For ex- 
ample, open a document in Word and then 
click File and Print. Click the Options button, 
select the Draft Output checkbox, and then 
click OK to save your changes. The pages will 
print a bit lighter, but you'll get more pages 
printed from each ink or toner cartridge. You 

also can save on toner costs by buying re- 
filled/remanufactured toner cartridges. 

Also, don't print drafts in color. Print photo 
drafts in black (grayscale) using the black ink 
cartridge only — remember to use the true black 
cartridge; don't mix colors to achieve black be- 
cause doing so can use a tremendous amount of 
color ink. This saves the ink in your color car- 
tridges and only uses the black cartridge, which 
is a little cheaper to replace and can more 
readily be refilled by generic black ink refill kits. 

Remember that refill kits aren't perfect, and 
you won't get good results with every type of 
ink cartridge. In many cases, you can only refill 
a cartridge two to three times before it will have 
to be discarded. 

p A /~\ Should I store my ink cartridges in- 
l/\ V^ side or outside of the printer? 

Ink printers provide a home location that 
should cap the ink cartridges while the printer 
is idle. This usually works well if the printer is 
idle for several days or even several weeks. But if 
you only use your printer on rare occasions, the 
internal capping system might not keep the ink 
from clogging the cartridges' nozzles. 

If you use the printer only a few times per 
month and it appears to be working fine, you 
don't need to do anything differently. 
However, if you notice an occasional missing 
line or other artifacts in the print lines, try 
running a short purge on the cartridges be- 
fore you print. You can usually purge the ink 
cartridges via your inkjet printer's software. 
This runs the nozzles for a short time and 
clears most clogs. 

If you find that the nozzles are clogging 
routinely after a period of prolonged inac- 
tivity, consider removing the cartridges and 
capping the nozzles yourself by covering the 
ink cartridge in a small, snug cellophane 
wrap. Don't cover the nozzles in tape; the ad- 
hesive will come off and gum up the car- 
tridge. Remember to store the cartridges 
upright so that the nozzles will stay filled. II 

88 January 2007 / 

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: 


Or fax us at: 

External Drives & HP Revisits 
Installation Discs (Again) 

When I recently plugged my 300GB HP Personal 
Media Drive into the designated slot on my HP 
Pavilion desktop computer, the computer 
crashed and I smelled something burning. I 
quickly turned off the computer and removed 
the drive. When I rebooted the computer, it 
appeared to work fine. I tried to access the 
Personal Media Drive, but it didn't work. I am a 
professional photographer, and my livelihood is 
saved on this drive. When I spoke to HP's cus- 
tomer support, I was told that my warranty had 
expired, even though I knew I was still within 
the three-year extended warranty I had pur- 
chased. HP's customer support told me that I 
could send the drive in to get it replaced, but 
because HP doesn't offer data retrieval services, 
I'd lose any chance of getting my data back. HP 
also said that if I used a third-party data re- 
trieval service to retrieve the data from my 
damaged hard drive, that service would likely 
have to open the drive's case, which would 
void the drive's warranty and make it im- 
possible to send the drive back to HP 
for replacement. 

Iris Meyer 
Orlando, Fla. 

After a quick call to our HP 
contact, Iris got an almost imme- 
diate response. A representative at HP 
verified that Iris was indeed still within her 
warranty and offered to send a new Personal 
Media Drive right away. He also offered to 
allow Iris to consult with a third-party data re- 
trieval service to see if she could get any of her 
data back. Iris later learned that 95% of her 
data was retrievable, but that the cost for the 
service was an astonishing $2,610. Another HP 
representative called and said that in addition 
to the new drive, HP was sending $249 to help 
defray some of the costs of the data retrieval 
service. Although Iris was forced to pay a 

majority of the bill, she was happy to have re- 
covered so much of her work. II 

HP Windows 
Installation CDs 

In the November 2006 issue of Smart 
Computing, we ran a letter from a reader 
who was requesting a Windows Installation 
disc for his HP computer. When we called HP, 
we were given an 800 number for ordering 
the Windows XP installation CDs based on 
the serial number of an HP notebook we had 
in-house. In response, a number of Smart 
Computing readers called the number ex- 
pecting to be able to order the CDs, but in al- 
most every case, readers were told that they 
could not get a Windows installation disc. 

We called HP back to get to the bottom 
of the confusion. Prior to this year, HP had 
different Recovery/ Restore options for note- 
book and desktop computer users. HP claims 
that it had never offered separate OS, driver, 
and application CDs for consumer desktops. 
These customers only had access to a 
Recovery CD/DVD that consisted of the OS, 
drivers, and applications on one or more 
discs. Users can't load just the OS using these 
discs. In 2003, HP enabled customers to 
create their own recovery discs in lieu of pur- 
chasing them from HP. 

Prior to spring 2006, HP's consumer note- 
books shipped with separate OS, driver, and 
application CDs. In the spring of 2006, HP 
began shipping consumer notebooks with a 
recovery partition that provides a backup 
image already installed on the hard drive and 
the ability to create recovery CDs. 

If your hard drive is inaccessible and you 
don't have access to a Recovery CD/DVD, 
you'll need to order the discs. As long as your 
HP PC is still supported, both notebook and 
desktop PC customers can call (800) 474- 
6836 to order the discs. I 

Smart Computing / January 2007 89 





Avoid Phishing Nets 

The other day, I discovered that I'd become an eBay 
retailer. All of a sudden, I had 20 listings selling 
knock- off designer sunglasses for unbelievably low 
prices. The questions from buyers came rolling in. The bid- 
ding picked up pace. There was only 
one problem: I didn't have any sun- 
glasses. And I didn't know a thing 
about the listings under my account. 
As it turned out, my login was taken 
over by a scam artist. And, as I found 
out later, I was partly to blame. Here's 
how you can avoid getting caught in a 
phishing net and sabotaging your own 
online identities. 

What is phishing? It's a fancy name 
for an old problem — fraud. Bad actors 
on the Web often send mass emails pre- 
tending to be from well-known online 
companies (retailers, auction sites, 
credit card companies). They usually 
communicate either a dire warning di- 
recting you to log on immediately and 
confirm your account information or 
some offer related to their "services" that require you to log 
on. However, following their link takes you not to the real 
Web site but to a cleverly reproduced facsimile set up to cap- 
ture your information. Now the bad guys have your password, 
Social Security number, or credit card information. The un- 
pleasant things they can do with them are nearly endless. 
Messing up your eBay account with fake sunglasses sales is ac- 
tually letting you off easily. So how can you stay off the hook? 

Don't Click Links 

Following links from emails that subsequently prompt 
you for personal information is a formula for disaster. As 
the nice eBay security rep gently prompted me to think 
back, I realized that I had probably clicked several "outbid 
notices" or "status updates" for items I'd been bidding on. 
Fooled, no doubt, by impeccably mimicked graphics and 
layout (spoofing eBay's real notifications), I clicked through 
and happily provided my username and password to view 
auction results. And, of course, that's when the trouble 
began. How much longer would it have taken me to open 
my browser independently and navigate directly to eBay 
myself? A couple seconds, perhaps. How much headache 
would I have saved? Start with that 45 minutes on hold 
waiting to clear my account. I'll let you do the math. 

Check Everything 

Pay close attention to all URLs, especially the main do- 
main section (the part). Had I paid more attention 

to where my profligate link- following was taking me, I 
might have noticed the deception and avoided the hassle of 
a frozen account and the embarrassment of being exposed 
as a sucker. Always make sure you're at the site you're ex- 
pecting when entering passwords, 
email addresses, or financial informa- 
tion. Make sure you have a secure 
connection (look for the little lock 
icon in the bottom right area of 
Internet Explorer) and don't enter 
anything if you're in doubt. Start in- 
vestigating if you're somewhere that 
doesn't match what you think you're 
doing, and don't be afraid to abandon 
the endeavor and start over at what 
you know to be a legitimate site. 

Don't Be Too Open 

Never give up your name, pass- 
word, or identifying information un- 
less you're certain you're interacting 
with a legitimate party and you initi- 
ated the conversation. Reputable on- 
line companies simply never — repeat, never — contact you 
out of the blue to request your password, Social Security 
number, or credit card information. II 

by Gregory Anderson 

Keeping It Real Update 

Many thanks to all who wrote in to sympathize, share 
stories, and provide recommendations for dealing 
with Real Player's quirks. The best advice I've had in a long 
time came from a number of readers who suggested I check 
out Real Alternative. The free program is a combination of 
Media Player Classic bundled with codecs and plugins for 
playing RealMedia files. I uninstalled Real Player first and 
then downloaded Real Alternative from 
.com/download/Real_Alternative.htm. It works great with 
my wife's online courses and in other situations where I need 
to play streaming RealMedia files. It isn't a resource hog and 
doesn't install all kinds of other garbage. I'm happy to pass 
on the recommendation for anyone struggling to keep Real 
Player running reliably and in a restricted way. I 

90 January 2007 / 


Security 8. Privacy 

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Bade Secufltr" t Privacy Troubl«tio«sliig Anlclti: 

How To Get Rid Of... 

1 Log in to Then, click the Tech Support 
Center link on the home page. 

2 Once in the Tech Support Center, scroll down to the Security 
& Privacy section. Click the 

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

Subscribers — make sure 
to add these helpful How 
To Get Rid Of . . . articles 
to your Personal Library by 
clicking the Add To My 
Personal Library link in the 
upper right of the article. 
Simply log in, and when 

you find an article you would like to keep, click the Add To 
My Personal Library link at the top of the page. Create as 
many folders as you like to keep your information organized 
and accessible. 

- : : Get Rid Of SoBici i& Variants Sc 

Sobiq E SobiciF: 

How To Gel Rid Of BadTrans 

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How To Get Rid Of En hanceMy Search 

How To Get Rid Of... 

You didn't intend to, but some- 
how you managed to download 
malware onto your system. It can 
happen to anyone, but how do you 
get rid of it? If your computer has 
ever been infected with a pesky 
worm, virus, or other malicious in- 
truder that you didn't know what to 

do about, check out our How To Get Rid Of . . . articles in the Tech Support Center. You'll find nu- 
merous articles on how to remove worms and viruses from 
your system, as well as spyware, adware, and other nuisances. 

It's winter, and that means 
it's cold and flu season. 
After using the Tech 
Support Center to rid your 
computer of various nasty 
programs, remember to take 
care of yourself. Wash your hands 
frequently, steer clear of contagious 
people if at all possible, and regularly clean surfaces, in- 
cluding your computer desk, mouse, and keyboard, with 

Computer viruses certainly 
aren't the only things that 
can leave you feeling buggy. 
Every year, about a dozen 
Japanese tourists need 
some sort of psychological 
treatment as a result of vis- 
iting France's capital. Paris 
Syndrome has caused a va- 
riety of afflictions — two 
women thought their hotel 

room had been bugged, and one man even thought he 

was Louis XIV. 

Some users panic when they come across a file they're 
unfamiliar with. Fearing a malware infection, they delete 
the file and don't give it a second thought until their 
system starts to malfunction. Before taking this drastic 
step, ask a knowledgeable friend or do some research of 
your own so you know exactly what you're dealing with. 

An ounce of preven- 
tion is worth a 
pound of cure: The 
Preventive & Regular 
Maintenance section 
of the Tech Support 
Center is full of 
quick, easy tips to 
prolong the life of 
your hardware. 

Smart Computing / January 2007 91 



Blogging For Your Supper 

By now, most of us are aware of Web logs, or blogs, as 
they're called. There are millions of them, covering 
every imaginable topic: Internet-based public diaries 
(let's assume for the moment that "public diary" 
is not an oxymoron) in which entries 
are displayed in reverse chronological 
order and in response to which 
readers are encouraged to post com 
ments. (And, for that matter, com- 
ments about the comments. Some 
folks, unable to leave well enough 
alone, then post comments about 
the comments made on the com- J 
ments, thus creating a recursive 1 
flurry of words that immediately 
makes me reach for either the as- 
pirin or the bourbon, depending 
on the time of day.) 

Blogs turned out to be The Next 
Big Thing, although many of us failed to 
appreciate their potential impact, distracted 
as we were by such significant technological ad 
vances as the GPS-enabled in-car video player (no 
doubt helpful for drivers who, busy watching the latest 
"Battlestar Galactica" DVD as they drive, neglect to keep 
track of where they're going); the explosive growth of "burst 
mode" -equipped digital cameras (which, thankfully, enable 
us to take truly dreadful pictures much faster than ever be- 
fore); and a mind-numbing surfeit of Hello Kitty devices 
ranging from digital cameras to the disturbingly adorable 
Hello Kitty waffle maker. (I'm serious. There's now a Hello 
Kitty waffle maker. When Wrigley Field — and mark my 
words, this will happen — becomes Hello Kitty Stadium, I'm 
moving to the mountains to become a hermit.) 

I like blogs, actually. I have one of my own, and my wife 
has several. As were pen-and-ink journals before them, blogs 
are an opportunity to speak to the world — or at least to 
whichever parts of the world are interested enough to listen. 
And even if no one reads a blog — and very few read mine — 
at least the blogger has access to a convenient mechanism for 
sorting through and then articulating his thoughts. 

However, things are getting a bit out of hand, blog- wise. 
There are now instances in which the proliferation of blogs is 
having a deleterious effect on the very fabric of our society. 
And by "deleterious effect," I mean "delaying my dinner." 

Lesley, as I mentioned, has several blogs, including a book 
blog, a gardening blog, and a cooking blog. Because her blogs 
are well-written, often humorous, and always informative, 
they have attracted many readers. Not that I'm jealous or 
anything. (Lately, her book blog has been attracting fan let- 
ters from the authors of the books she reviews. Shouldn't it 

be the other way around?) Lesley's latest bloggish endeavor is 
her cooking blog, and it's full of great recipes and homey, 
helpful notes about food preparation. 

All of which was well and good, until my wife hit 
upon the notion that her cooking blog should 
include pictures of the dishes she was 
preparing. Now, Lesley is a truly great 
cook. She will spend hours carefully 
crafting a delicious Chicken in 
Tarragon Sauce, a scrumptiously 
rich Scaloppini di Polio, or a won- 
derfully hearty homemade maca- 
roni and cheese. The smells waft 
tantalizingly through the house as 
the dinner hour draws near. 
Meanwhile, I'm downstairs work- 
ing. (And by "working," I mean 
"scouring the Internet for a right- 
hand front turn signal assembly for a 
1983 Honda 650 motorcycle.") 
Finally, the ship's bell rings upstairs. It's 
time for dinner! But no, not really. It's time to 
take pictures of dinner. For her blog. We will spend the 
next 20 minutes taking photographs, while my beautiful meal 
cools and congeals. ("Honey," she says sweetly, "Will you 
hold this centerpiece? It clashes with the chicken and dump- 
lings.") Mmmm . . . chicken and dumplings. Delicious 
chunks of fresh breast of chicken; rich, steamy broth replete 
with potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery; soft, light, fluffy 
dumplings; all of it daintily flecked with . . . uh, well, some 
kind of green, leafy thing. One of my favorite winter meals. 
I'm pretty sure it's going to be delicious, but I don't really 
know because instead of eating, I'm standing hunched in the 
corner ("Honey, you're casting a shadow on the tablecloth."), 
watching The Photographer at work. I'm trying, desperately 
vampire-like, not to cast a shadow. This is difficult and oddly 
tiring. Who knew that being a vampire was such hard work? 

Of course, I'd be a fool to complain about Lesley's food 
blog. It could be the best thing that's ever happened to me, 
gastronomically speaking. As opposed to her gardening 
blog, an undertaking in which my participation seems to be 
limited to lugging heavy bags of mulch around the yard 
until she picks out a spot, seemingly at random, and points 
to where the mulch should be dumped. Mmmmm . . . 
mulch. Nah, see? I told you. It's just not the same. II 

by Rod Scher 

Rod Scher is a former software developer and a recovering English 
teacher. He's also the publication editor of Smart Computing and 
will no doubt continue in that position until such time as his boss 
reads this column. Contact Rod at 

92 January 2007 / 

What are you paying for tech support? 

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' 1GB -***^ 

• 512MB ^SPfk 

• 2 56MB m^^y^ 

■ 128MB 1^^ 
SDSDQ1024E10M .... $46,98 
5DSDQ-512-E10M .... $34.98 
SDSDQ-256-A10M . . . $29.98 
SrjQO'-iJB-AiO $19.98 

64MB Olympus ^ffijfc 

SmartMedia Card ^|*|gp 

■ 64MB 

SM-64MB-OL $44.99 

Sony Memory Stick Pr< 


■ 4G8 - Pro 

■ 2G8 - Pro 

■ 1GB - Pro 

• 512MB - Pro 





Flash Card USB Reader^ 
Blue, orange and Silvei 
Reader for CF, SM, 
mlniSD, MS, 
MS Duo and 
IBM Microdrive. 

T5-RD13B ......... $12.98 

TS-RD13B ..... $12.98 

TS-RD13B $12.98 

Reduced MultiMedia 
(Mobile Dual Voltage)' 

■ 2GB (ATP) 
. 1GB (ATP) 

■ 512MB (ATP) 

■ 256MB (ATP) 

AF2GHMB $58.98 

AF1GHMB $34.98 

AF512HMB $22.98 

AF256HMB, $17,98 

Mini SD Card 

- 1GB (PQI) 

- 512MB (PQI) 

- 256MB (PQI) 
■ 128MB (PQI) 

AE55-103D-0112 $27.98 

AE16-5120-0112 $18.98 

AE16-2560-0112 S12.98 

AElb 1260-0112 $8.98 


■ 1300 

■ 6000 

■ 6400 

■ 9300 Upgrade 
1GB $119.98 
S12MB $59.98 
256MB $29.98 



■ D41Q 

• DS10 

■ D620 

* D810 Upgrade 
1GB $119.98 
512MB $59,98 
256MB $2998 


- 11S0 
■ 1200 
• 2200 Upgrade 

1GB $129 98 
512MB $59.90 
256MB $29.98 


XP5 M1210, M1710, 

Latitude D520 

2GB $69898 
1GB $119.96 

512MB $59.93 



1GB $119.98 
512MB $6995 


■ 2.SGH* 

■ Dual-Core 2,3GHr 

• Dual-Core 2Ghz upgrade 

4GB(2X2GB) $699.98 
2GBf2XlGB) $199,96 
1GB(2X512MB) $99.98 



1GB $119.98 
512MB $59,98 
256MB $29.98 


- B120 

. B130 Upgrade 

512MB $59.98 
256MB $29.98 



• M20 

• M70 upgrade 

1GB $99,98 
512MB $59.98 
256MB $29.98 





- 8600c 

- 9200 Upgrade 


1GB $129.96 
512MB $59.98 
256MB $29,98 


• 6400 

* 9400 El 705 Upgrade 

1GB SI 19,98 
512MB $69.98 



•Dual 2GHz 

• Dual 1,8GHz 

• 1.5GHz 

• 1.6GHz Upgrade 

PC 32 00 DDR DIMM 
2GB(2X1GB) $199.96 
1GB(2X512MB) $119.98 

■■:.'--ik j?y.r-. vi-: ■ ■,■.-.'- ■■■■■:■ 



1GB (2x512MB) $289.98 
2GB (2x1GB) $499.98 
4GB (2x2GB) $899.98 


1GB $119.98 
512MB $59-98 
256MB $29.98 


• eisos <^ra> 

• E1705 Upgrade ^^^ 

DDR 2 -53 3 SODIMM 
1GB $119 98 
512MB $59.98 
256MB $29.98 





• 700 M 

- 710M Upgrade 

1GB $129,98 
512MB $59.98 
256MB $29.98 

- 110L 

• D505 

• D800 

• x300 Upgrade 

1GB $129.98 
512MB $59.98 
256MB $29.98 



DDR 2 -66 7 SODIMM 
1GB $119,98 
512MB $69.98 





(M9457LL/A) UPGRADE ,- 

2GB(2X1GB) $199.96 
1GB(23C5 12MB) $119.98 
512MB (2X256MB) $59.96 



PC2700 DDR DIMM , 

512MB $5-9.98 
256MB $29.98 


1GB $119.98 
512MB $59.98 
256MB $29.98 




- HX-X77D3A - 1GB (3 X 517HH) 

• MX-X7704A = 2GB (2 X 512MB) 

5UN FIRE V710/V74O MFMORY KrT $349.99 

. MX-X7711A = ^G8 (2 X 512H8} 






-300-lib6 u 37.0WATT SUN FIRE V75 







M9394G/A $19-95 



20140-GRAY $19.95 

20142-BLACK $19 95 






f I J J 


we buy and sen mew 
and RefurbisJied 
Cisco GBIC's 





We buy and sell NEW 
and Refurbished 
Cisco Router's 



we t>uy and sen NEW and 

Refurbished Cisco _ t ^^^^m 
Network Modules tttsj.TT^ 



Toll Free: 1-866-MemoryTen [636-6799] 

Tech Support and International: 1-408-538-0077 

Business hours mon-fri 8 am - 5:30 pm PST 

On orders over $100 that are purchased on-line. 

BBB OnLine Reliability Program 
Visit Us ONLINE at 


s reliability 





d , # 


SmOisk 3 

WfM Le\"ar