The Bug Report
THE BUG REPORT
A monthly publication of
GS-BUG Inc. (c) copyright 1996.
Reproduction of any material herein by any means is expressly prohibited unless written permission is granted. Exception: Articles may be reprinted by other users groups in unaltered form if credit is given to the author and the original publication.
Editor - Kay Burton
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
By Dr. John Hanson
Topics for Febuary
CES Review: 2000 vendors and 100,000 people attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It lasts for four days and I have gone almost every year since before personal computers got started in the days when Emmett Ingram was president of an 18,000 member calculator club that he started. It is very hectic trying to see everything at CES. I was not too impressed this year but here are some highlights.
1. Voice Alert
2. Infra Red video cameras
3. Key Chain LED Lights
4. Plasma Displays Everywhere
5. Label Whiz CD Labeler
6. Flash Memory Picture Storage
7. 3000 Watt Car Stereos
8. Emergency Power for Cell Phones9. Computer Animation
10. Safe holder for your Flash Memory Cards
11. Electronic Power Meter
12. Picasa Picture Browser
13. Audio Books in MP3 Format
1. Voice Alert: What a marvelous device. It
comes with two infrared sensors you can place anywhere
with a 40 foot range. When someone passes
by, it transmits a signal to the receiver which announces in
your own voice that someone is at your door or entering your
garage or whatever you want to record. It will accept
up to three sensors and it is very easy to change your
message for each of the sensors. Your message can be up to
6.5 seconds long and alert you if your child has left his room or
is near the pool, etc. The receiver even has a nine volt battery
as a backup in case of power failure. Each of the sensors is
powered by its own nine volt battery so you can
move it around quickly to wherever it is needed.
I have been having lots of fun surprising my wife and grandchildren. As an engineer I can think of several changes I would want to make. One is to install a switch on each sensor so it wouldn’t trigger when you don’t want it such as when you are working in your garage. If not mounted on a wall then you can just lay it face down and no switch is required. I don’t know how long the batteries will last in the sensor but the designers have added a jumper inside that you can change to extend the life. Nine volt batteries are designed for a 15 milliamp load max which can easily power the red activation LED in the ensor for short periods. I have not yet measured how much current the infrared sensor draws in standby and when activated with the transmitter. For a permanent location I would add an external power supply, possibly with a rechargeable nine volt battery.
The other change I would implement s to add an extension speaker to run to another room so I could hear the message when I am not near the receiver. If several receivers would work it would be easier just to buy extra receivers but then you would have to record a message on each. Another change would be to add timers to the sensor switches so if you forgot to turn it back on it would do so automatically in the evening or whenever. I met the vendors at the end of the CES show and was in a big hurry but couldn’t resist this wonderful product and the very talented and nice people manning their booth. The suggested detail for these units are receiver with one sensor for $150 and with two sensors $200. However they did have a special for $215 of two units with two sensors each, one to use as a demo and the other to sell. The dealer price for the two sensor system is only $129 when ordering ten at once. Check out their web site at www.voicealert.com The name of the company is Cross Point near San Diego with Stefan West as marketing director.
2. Infra Red Video cameras: During World War II I had an opportunity to take great pictures in complete darkness but you had to guess where you were looking as viewfinders were useless. So you guessed and took several pictures to be sure what you wanted was in the frame and in focus. All you needed was the infrared film and infrared flash bulbs (remember flashbulbs) but you had to change the settings on the camera to compensate for the different light frequency. And you needed the right chemicals to develop the film. I would guess that Jack Burton is an expert on this as he was a naval photographer during that war.
Now a company in San Clemente has come up with a brilliant and relatively low cost solution. It is called a Digital Night Vision Viewer and can be used up to 300 feet and even has its own infrared light source. Now you can see where you are pointing in the dark and connect it to a video recorder. It is easily held in one hand and has a 2.5 inch LCD screen in the back for viewing. It has a zoom feature and you can add extra lenses. It is completely portable with a camcorder type lithium ion rechargeable battery and an input for external power. You can even adjust the amplification. When I worked for Bendix designing computers that filled a whole room we were also making night vision amplifiers for the military but they were heavy, bulky, very expensive and not that great. Now some 40 years later this Infrared Imaging company has made draatic advances with three models that range from $400 to $550 in price. Their best even does color images. What a bargain! Many such sensors are damaged in the daylight but this one has overcome that limitation. I would love to try one for a month and write a review. Check out their web site at www.digitalnightvision.com
3. Key Chain LED Lights: Two years ago I was so impressed with the design and function of this LED light I 3 bought one for my key chain for $17. It still works great and you can get them at Silvio’s Camera for only $15. This time I got a chance to really talk to the people selling them and finally the designer himself.
I noticed that one of the demo people was having trouble reading fine print without his glasses so I offered to send him one of my vision life saver cards to improve his vision. He was so delighted he gave me a brand new LED light. Later when I met the designer and president he wanted his vision improved also so he gave me his newest design. His original design was perfection and now he made it even better with three functions. It can stay on, stay on blinking slowly to conserve batteries and when neces-sary send out an SOS signal automatically and repeatedly. Amazing! Be sure to check out his web site at www.asp-net.com He has a number of first class products so check on his $65 dollar lithium powered flashlight with a very bright bulb which I imag-ine is Krypton or Halogen. It is about the size of a two C cell flashlight but five times brighter with a number of extra features. It is made of aircraft quality aluminum just like some of my Tootie things. Imagine a flashlight you can depend on for ten years without changing the battery. If run continuously the battery will last one hour and in the back is a spare bulb, just in case. You will be impressed just by reading his excellent literature.
4. Plasma Displays Everywhere: At a yard wide and larger they do look impressive. It seemed everyone was fascinated with them except for the very high price ranging from $8,000 to 11,000. I didn’t spend much time to compare them carefully but in general with screens of the same size the LCD screens are more clear and slightly less expensive but be wary of LCD screens if you intend to watch fast action such as movies or games.
5. Label Whiz CD Labeler: Here was one booth that really impressed me with staff who really knew what they were talking about. Apparently they were the ones who designed the tools and the software to make CD labeling very easy. The box has every-thing you need and it’s only $15. Give Lew Whitaker a call at 949-858-7855 which is near San Diego or visit his web site at www.labelwhiz.com
6. Flash Memory Picture Storage: Flash Memory cards for digital cameras are terrific as you can take unlimited pictures, download your memory card into your computer and take more pictures. The prices have come down but are still high at about 30 cents per megabyte or much more such as a dollar per megabyte if you are not careful. Most cameras come with only 8 or 16 mb so I suggest you look for a 64 or 128 mb card.
But suppose you want to go on a trip like Jack and Kay Burton going to Tahiti or Jack and Nickie’s trip to North Carolina and don’t want to take your expensive notebook computer, even if you have one. Before, there was no solution but at CES I found one. It is about the size of a three inch hard drive and holds 20 gb. It has three slots on the front so all you do is press a button to record the memory disk to the hard disk and vice versa to download. It costs about $180 but check to make sure it matches the cards you have.
Link Depot Corp. is in nearby Walnut so give them a call at 909-598-4688 or visit their website at www.link-depot.com They have an older model which eads only one card and could be considerably less expensive. Ask for Ken Ko.
7. 3000 Watt Car Stereos: The new additions to the
convention Center in Las Vegas are a big improvement. No longer do
you have to make that arduous trip to the Sands and the outdoor
displays are now able to be inside. Fortunately
the car stereos are isolated in the North Hall
so they can make all the noise they want without disturbing
the others. Every bit of space was sold out but it was
quite boring if you didn’t like very loud music. Many
vendors that I saw last year were not there selling other kinds of auto
things like doors that swing open when you press your keychain
button. To put in those humungous stereo systems in a demo
car is a big project where they almost have to take all the
insides out. Normally the average audio buff would only get
one amplifier and a set of speakers which would be enough to
really shake the car but the demo cars were filled with amplifiers
and speakers as well as all sorts of video displays.
I don’t talk the language of those people but I did find
one salesman patient enough to translate for me.
Those round things about three inches in diameter
with a digital voltage readout are giant capacitors of about one
farad or more. The digital readout is really useless but impresses
the buyers so they all have them. There were some large things
that looked like scuba tanks with pressure gages but most of them were
fake tanks but had a woofer speaker in the end. The tank look impresses
the owner’s friends because it looks like they have a nitrous
oxide system to boost their acceleration. Those that
do have nitrous oxide have two buttons, one to charge the system
and the other to set it off. They say it is like
turning on the afterburner in a military jet so if you see a car
jet off you can guess they might have a nitrous oxide booster.
8. Emergency Power for Cell Phones: It’s a portable, hand cranked generator in a well engineered package about two inches square, and inch thick and weighing very little. It also has a bright LED light which lasts quite a while after only 30 seconds of cranking and stays on from the internal capacitor. When your cell phone is running very low and you need to make a call you connect the cord to your cell phone and crank for about three minutes to charge your battery a little. It’s terrific and especially useful if away from power as on a camping trip. It costs only $25 from a company in Bozeman, Montana so check out their web site at www.insotech.biz Mike Lely, their seniorengineer, gave me one for my Nokia to evalute and it’s great.
9. Computer Animation: When you watch the demo it looks very easy and someday I will be tempted to buy e program which is only about $200 when on sale. The best demonstrator is named Greg, who doesn’t work for the company. He works in special effects for the movie industry but regularly demonstrates at the computer shows here in Los Angeles. He really charms the audience and I can’t help but admire his marvelous performance. He was a top draw at Comdex but CES had someone else and without Greg, there was not much of an audience. The name of the animation program is “Animation Master” which retails for $300. Check out their web site at www.hash.com
10. Safe holder for your Flash Memory Cards: Some cards come with nice plastic holders. For those that don’t, you can buy them at Fry’s near the hard disk register for about $1.50 each. They will hold Compact Flash, Smart Media or SD cards. Since SD cards are so small and expensive if you buy the higher megabyte cards you can get a plastic holder that holds 4 in a very well designed package that fits in your pocket. The company name is “In Any Case” so check out their web site at www.inanycase.com Their four in one holders for SD cards come in a variety of colors. While writing about flash memory cards it looks like Compact Flash and SD will be the winners. My Olympus digital camera uses Smart media which only goes up to 128 mb and is the most fragile of the cards. My Kodak digital uses Compact Flash which goes up to one gigabyte but the largest I have is 387 mb which is also very useful for transferring files between computers. The SD cards which are quite small go up to 512 mb now and soon will be one gigabyte and probably very expensive. San Disk now has a new Compact Flash called Ultra which goes up to 512 mb with a transfer rate of 3 mb per second which is about twice as fast as a regular Compact Flash. It would be wonderful if your camera could take advantage of that extra speed so there would be less time between shots. One of the disadvantages of digital cameras is the delay while the internal computer is processing the image so for lots of very fast shots we still need to go back to our film cameras.
I would avoid any digital cameras using the older Multi Media card as it only goes up to 64 mb and it may be hard to find a reader for your computer. I personally won’t buy any Sony products using their Memory Stick which only goes up to 128 mb but nevertheless is still very popular in Sony products. At some point I predict Sony will switch to the SD card which will become the standard for everything.
11. Electronic Power Meter: Last month I told you about a $70 power meter bought by Emmett Ingram. It has turned out to be very useful so you can see how much power you are using at any one time and what it drops to when your monitor goes into sleep mode. Its only weakness is that the power factor is way off. Emmett has lots of very expensive precision test equipment so he can check almost anything. For about ten dollars and a little work you could make one with an ammeter and get similar results because the voltage is a constant. At CES I found a similar but less expensive power meter and will order one as soon as I can. It retails for only $40 from a company called P3. Check their web site at www.p3 international.com for item P4400. It says it even measures kilowatt hours as well as power factor, voltage and amperes so I will have Emmett check it when it arrives. They have many other clever gadgets like a telephone recorder that will record up to three hours on a 90 minute cassette and even longer on recorders but I don’t recommend C-120 cassettes as the tape is to thin. They also have detectors to see if you are being bugged.
12. Picasa Picture Browser: Many of us have thousands of pictures with a goal to get them into the computer. But how do you find what you want in a hurry. Allan Haskall likes Thumbs Up, I like ACDSee and Compupic Pro but they all have weaknesses or perhaps I haven’t taken the time to really learn how to use them. When I find a picture then it’s another project to get it to open in Photoshop. Recently Adobe came out with a photo browser in version 7 for the first time and at first I was delighted, but then disappointed, so I have been looking for something better. Other peoople must have had the same problems so along comes Picasa which claims to be an Automatic Photo Organizer. I was very impressed with their demo at CES and brought home a couple of demo disks, if anyone would like to try it. You can also go to www.picasa.net and download a free 15 day trial copy. If you like it the cost is only $30. While I can work fast when I have to, I normally don’t like time limits and think vendors make a mistake when they offer only 30 days. I think 90 days would be much better so you can really get attached to a program. As soon as I get a chance to try it I will write a review. Here are some of its excellent features. When Picasa starts it finds all the pictures on your computer and displays them and doesn’t have all the wasted space of the other browsers. You can control the size of the thumbnails much better with the file name, type and size and a simple click gives you all the photo information. You can even add key phrases to make searching easier. Whatever you do, the original file name and its data are preserved. You can even do cropping without disturbing the original file and clicking Print gives you an instant preview of what you will get without wasting expensive paper. When you want to e-mail a picture to someone just type in the e-mail address and you are done. I presume it automatially reduces the file size. Just because a program is new does not mean it has included all the good features of other browsers but from what I saw, it looks terrific and I am very critical. The name of the company is Lifescape Solutions located in Boston. Their original version just started in October of 2002 and now they have version 1.5 and amazingly it’s free to their customers. That a nice company!
13. Audio Books in MP3 Format: Have you ever listened to an audio tape book in your car? It’s a great way to learn while driving but an nuisance to find and change tapes. Soulmate Audio of Michigan has solved that problem by putting them on CD’s in the MP3 format. They even have a portable MP3 player that remembers your place when the CD has been removed as well as to navigate to a particular chapter or page. I can’t wait to try the sample I received from those nice people. I wonder if it has a search feature to find certain words or phrases? I have many hundreds of hours of audio tape of procedures used to improve my various students but they are essentially lost because it is such ahassle to review them. I wonder if they have added that speed up feature invented by that fellow from Chicago who came up with the idea with speeding up or slowing down audio and compensating the pitch so it sounds normal. Then you could set whatever speed you find best to listen to a book. Check out their web site at www.SoulMateAudio.com They claim they are conforming to the Daisy 2.0 standard for talking books but I don’t know what that is nor some of the other standards they claim.
Editor’s Note: John Hanson is the inventor
of Tooties, a superb self-teaching system used by millions
in schools, homes, and by eye doctors around the world to improve
vision. He also invented a new form of psychology called
QET (Quick Effective Therapy) which transforms poor students
into good students, almost overnight, usually in 5 to
15 days. He has also had outstanding success
in helping brain damaged people, even years after their accident.
Why go to therapy for years and spend lots of money when
you can improve quite fast with QET? He uses computers to document
his cases for his books so that others may benefit and improve
their vision and other skills. Visit his web site
for more information
By Frank Chao
Welcome to 54th article in the “Internet Talk” series. This article is part of the eleventh newsletter that is being produced by Kay Burton.
Kostek Haussmann recommends the technical dictionary at http://instantweb.com/d/dictionary/index.html For non-technical words, good dictionaries are available at http://dictionary.reference.com/ ; http://www.m-w.com/ and http://www.rhymezone.com/ For legal terms, use http://dictionary.lp.findlaw.com/ and http://www.nolo.com ; http://www.yourdictionary.com/ has a good non-technical dictionary which can also translate words into various European languages. http://www.infoplease.com/dictionary.html also has a great non-technical dictionary. This website also has online copies of all of the “Information Please” almanacs and encyclopedias.
LEARN THY COMPUTER—MORE
On January 7th, Karl Springer wrote: Re the “Internet Talk” column in the Jan 2003 “The Bug Report” I suggest that you look at PC Magazine’s “Startup Cop”, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,2097,00.asp In my opinion, it is superior since it has a provision to store more than one startup profile, a feature I’ve found useful. At the General Meeting last evening, there was some discussion on the topic of getting rid of stuff in the startup queue. Following are URLs of two helpful sites in this regard: http://www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_pages/startup_full.htm and http://www2.whidbey.com/djdenham/Uncheck.htm
War Driving is the latest hacker craze. Your friendly neighborhood
hacker drives around with a laptop computer that has a WiFi (“Wireless
Fidelity”) wireless network card and attempts to connect to the wireless
network of an unsuspecting home or business. See http://havenworks.com/vocabulary/a-z/w/war-driving/
for more-detailed definitions and descriptions. When a
connection is made, the hacker can do the usual fun (sarcasm alert) things
that hackers like to do.
1) Delete, modify, or download files that are on the shared drives of computers that are connected to the victim’s network,
2) Use the victim’s network to access the Internet, and
3) Tell other hackers about how they broke into the victim’s network so that other hackers can also break into the victim’s network.
Some war drivers mount antennas on the roofs of their vehicles in order to increase the range of the wireless network cards in their computers. War driving is also known as “stumbling”. For more information see: http://www.wardriving.com.
WEP AND DEFENSIVE STRATEGIES
The current technology to defend against war drivers is called Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). See http://support.dlink.com/faq/view.asp?prod_id=345&question=General%20Wireless for information about WEP. This technology is available in the wireless networking devices that are manufactured by Linksys, D-Link, and others. If you utilize a wireless access device, you can actively defend your network against intrusions by using the settings/adjustments for your wireless access point device. Some of these settings will set up WEP for your wireless device. A complete security plan for wireless networks would is available from Linksys at http://www.linksys.com/splash/wirelessnotes.asp
FREE CHECKUP FOR VIRUSES
To get a free virus checkup for your computer,click on the “Scan Now”at
or click on “Scan for Viruses”
However, if you do not keep an updated copy of a commercial anti-virus program such as Norton Antivirus or McAfee Viruscan in your computer, merely detecting the presence of a virus does not provide you with a way to expung/delete the virus. There is no longer a “free lunch” for protectisng against viruses. I hear sad tales of woe about computer virus infesations every week
WAYS TO CONTACT ME:
If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by the following
1. Leave a voice message for me at (310)
2. Send me e-mail at: email@example.com
3. Send “snail” U.S. Postal Service mail
PO Box 6930
|SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
By BOB HUDAK
The foregoing was my Christmas message, which did not get into "The
Bug Report". We are in the holiday time of the year and everyone
is really busy. I have small list of shareware programs
I want to download and check out but it will be next year beforre I get
to it. I have two items for you this month (Dec)The first is a seven
page article that helps you understand CD-R & CD-RW technology.
How it works, software and how to create different types of CDs.
The software that is used is Roxio Easy CD Creater. It will clear
up a lot of questions you have even if you have been buring for some time.
If you are just starting out, this is really good reading. It is
in PDF, HTM and RTF formats. I like the PDF version because all the
graphics show up nicely.
Second item is a program called EASY THUMBNAILS, it is a small program that can resize your digital picturess to whatever size you want, one at a time or in batch mode. Let’s say you have a 2 meg sixe picture and you want to send it to a friend. This program will resize it to let’s say 640 X 480 in a wink. You can also on the same screen adjust brightness, color etc. using sliders. Last nice thing, on that same screen you can adjust the JPG compression to control file size. As you move the slider it shows you the size that the file will be. I know you can do all this in Photo Shop but by the time PS opens, using this little program, you will be done. Pick up a copy and check it out.
I want to thank all the members that have donated many computer books, programs and computer hardware. Even computers These are the items I am always selling. The club gets a few dollars to purchase needed items that make the club work better for you. The buyers of this good used stuff get a good deal too. Always check the library table for something you can use or would like to try but did not want to pay store prices. I bring a few things each week to the Tue. hardware sig to see if I can find a member with a need. A lot of items are sold there that never make it to a general meeting. If you are looking for something, give me a call or send an email message. I just might have it. During the year, as you upgrade some of your system, think about giving the old computer or parts to the club. It is a tax deduction and will probably find a new home in another members computer room. I now have some keyboards, mouses, scanners, a tape backup drive, 486 Vesa board with CPU, memory cards (for $5). Also many books. Call!
January: This month I want to tell you about a little utility program called Drive Info. It does not need to be installed on your Hard Drive. Run right from the Floppy Drive, it checks your CD drives and tells you the make, type, drive letter, read & write speed, modes, etc. Everything you want to know about it. You can view it on screen or print it out or save as a file. Even tells you what burner software you are using and if the drive is Mt. Ranier compatible. Next, I have a CD Diskeeper 7.0 lite. This is a disk defragmentation program that can be run on all Window OS from ‘98 up. It is faster than any manual defragmenter. You run it when you want on whatever drive you want. It really works nice. Next is a tax preparation program from 2nd Story Software co. Inc. The Calif program will be released about Jan. 23. This is a program that I have reviewed in past years and think it does a great job. Costwise it is hard to beat, if you use it annually, it, fills in all the static info. They are offering the following deal to computer clubs: Members needing to prepare both federal and state returns can purchase the TaxACT 2002 Ultimate bundle for $16(normally $19.95) at the following link: http://www.taxact.com/ad_offer3.asp?sc=0263001 Members only needing to prepare their federal return may purchase the TaxACT Deluxe Edition for $6 (normally $9.95) at http://www.taxact.com/ad_offer3.asp?sc=0263002 Log on and get your copy. It comes with a guarantee. I know you will be happy with these products. I know Ed Leckliter likes cutting edge hardware so this little story might make him smile. I needed to fax a letter the other day and do not have a fax machine. I threw in the towel trying to make the fax software work with WP 6.0, Dos version some time ago. I still have my 1988 XT computer that I use for the library to print disk labels and maintain a data base. It has a 2400 Zoom external modem with fax software installed. Fired it up and sent the fax without a hitch. Worked probably better than a new computer that does not run.