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
ON THE INTERNET
By Dr. John Hanson
1. Fujitsu Hard Drive Failures:
2. Sullivan's Windows SIG:
3. Frank Chao's Articles:
4. Software Overload:
5. Megacycles vs Megahertz:
6. Electronic Power Meter:
7. Power Supply Failures:
8. Computer Repairs:
9. Ni Cad Battery Rejuvenation:
10. Cordless Drills & Batteries:
11. Be Careful with Jeff Levy's Advice:
1. Fujitsu Hard Drive Failures: Every now and then I give some reasons why you should not buy brand name computers like HP, Gateway and Dell, etc. According to Maximum PC magazine people with HP computers have been losing all their contence when they have Fujitsu hard drives. Now I need to look at my computers as at least one has a Fujitsu drive, hopefully before they started making junk. All companies can make quality or junk or something in between. It all depends on management at the time. HP still makes good calculators and their older laser printers are quite reliable, except for minor problems with feed rollers. IBM used to make very reliable hard drives and all of a sudden recently there have been drastic failures. I have at least two 60 gb IBM drives but I can't tell from the numbers on the drive if they are the same as the numbers that have failed.
2. Sullivan's Windows SIG: All of our SIGs are
quite good but if you have never gone to John Sullivan's
SIG you have missed something very useful. John, not
only can answer your questions, but demonstrates the
solution on the big screen. He is so talented
that he can adjust his answer to
your level of knowledge. For his
own benefit he writes a summary of each question
and it's solution on his web page. It is enough
to trigger his memory but may not be understandable to you but
try anyway. It does have a fairly good index. His
web site is:
3. Frank Chao's Articles: His monthly column is filled with great ideas, especially about the Internet. That is why you should keep your newsletter issues in a binder by year. You can also look up back issues in the Internet on the GS-Bug web site run by Shelley Miller. It would be nice if we had an index or a search feature. Would some member be interested in taking on that project?
4. Software Overload: How many of you have software you
haven't had time to load or even play with after loading.
I am over-whelmed by all the software I have.
Adobe gave me Photoshop Elements 2 at Comdex after
they demonstrated all it's wonderful features but it
still sits in the box. I bought Family Tree Maker
some time ago and some books on it for my genealogy but am still
using a very old DOS program called Brother's Keeper 5 that gets
the job done after a fashion. I know I can export it to a newer
program but haven't been motivated enough to do it. Bill Gates
may be a great guy but his people drive me crazy when they change
names for the same things in each successive version.
That is why I still use Office 97 when I need to do something fancier than Word Star allows. I refuse to be led as if I had a ring in my nose. I have been trying every now and then to load the Katze program on another computer but haven't been successful. I have a windows label program which is quite useful but for many of my labels I still use Word Star because it is quick and foolproof.
5. Megacycles vs Megahertz: They are the same. John Sullivan mentioned that some young members might not realize they are the same so here is an explanation. My engineering days were all in cycles so I was not pleased when some idiot wanted to change a useful name for no good reason except to honor a fellow named Hertz who certainly deserves to be honored but there must be a better way. Part of the reason might be the book publishers so now they have an excuse to print a new book when the old one was perfectly satisfactory. Take for example school books. Why publish a new basic textbook when the old one was excellent? The main reason is money and sales. suspect textbook publishers even introduce errors in each printing so they can be discovered and new books ordered. Compare a classics Physics book with a modern one. A falling body still follows the same physics laws but the new version often waters down the content so a poor reader can understand it. Have you ever noticed that around every college campus is a comic book store for students who cannot read very well. Look how many college graduates can hardly read or spell. So please forgive me when I use megacycles (mc) instead of megahertz (mhz). I suspect Microsoft even introduces bugs purposely so they can fix them later and sell a new version. Gates just imitated the textbook publishers successful strategy. You could see this happening, even in the DOS days. He could even withhold useful items so he can add them later.
6. Electronic Power Meter: Emmett Ingram needs to be on the leading edge in his work so recently bought an electronic power meter at Fry's for $70. He was thrilled with it as it also read volts and probably amperes fairly accurately. When you hook it to a computer you can see when a program causes the power supply to deliver more power in watts. You can also ask it to record the highest and lowest readings. When dealing with alternating current, which is what we normally use, an important consideration in calculating the power in watts is the power factor which is always one or less for AC current. The meter even reads the power factor at any given moment but when Emmett tested it to see how accurate it was, it was very poor. Nevertheless it is a very useful tool. If you want to test the power your computer is using bring it to the Hardware SIG and see if it is near the limit of your power supply's rating which could indicate impending problems before they occur.
7. Power Supply Failures: By now all of us should know that power supplies with the name "Deer" fail in the same spot which nating just one or two cells at a time. You can use the capacitor technique on iMH batteries as well.
10. Cordless Drills & Batteries: For at least 40
or 50 years I have been getting Consumer Reports magazine.
They are quite good in statistics and anything that is not
technical. They have always been poor in technical but
still the write ups give you a place to start. They say they
have engineers. If so, they must be the lowest level possible,
even lower than a poor technician. Therefore, anything
technical should be read with a grain of salt.
A recent glaring example is this month's issue on cordless drills.
They don't know about a battery's internal resistance and
that is why all the better cordless tools use NiCad instead of
NiMH. Modern NiMH has about twice the capacity but is
not likely to be useful in cordless drills or other power tools
so check carefully. For most
purposes 12 volts is entirely adequate, even 9.6 volts
but nothing lower and yet they are encouraging readers to buy
higher voltages which means more cells in series. Not only
is the cost of batteries higher but more can go wrong
as you increase the number of cells in series. Without careful
use one or more cells could reverse and cause problems.
In addiion, they are giving terribly high prices as the norm when
you can buy almost the same $100 drill for only $15 or $17 on sale
at Harbor Freight. I have tested the 12 volt drills and
they are marvelous and very powerful. It
is always wise to have a spare battery but it is
much more efficient to buy a second drill for $15 than to pay $10
for just the battery. Not only will you have a spare drill but an
extra charger as well.
Many of our technical members, like myself, like to take things apart to see how they are designed and their charging circuit is the cheapest possible. For very little effort they could have designed a safe charging circuit. Now you have to remember to unplug the charger after 5 hours or the charger and/or battery could overheat. And if you tried to charge a battery that was already quite full you could also overheat. The drill itself is very well designed and comfortable to use.
The ten batteries inside are of the rapid charge variety that will take about 400 to 500 milliamperes for five hours if the batteries are discharged. How can I tell? Use the magic number of 1.42 volts per cell and set your charge voltage at that level, which is 14.2 volts, and see how much current is going in. It starts off at about 500 ma and drops fairly quickly to 400 ma and after several hours to 170 ma without overheating. Normally NiCads of this size are charged with a constant current of 100 ma which should be used if these were not rapid charge cells. In this case the voltage limits the charge current. Soon I will make more measurements of their charging circuit but in the meantime I will charge the batteries with my own charging circuit which is just a simple $70 lab bench digital power supply where I can limit both voltage and current.
11. Be careful with Jeff Levy's Advice: Jeff
has many good ideas on his radio program but when
he suggests buying an HP computer you know that is poor
advice. Now that you know some of his advice is not so
good that gives you an indication to be careful when
he makes other suggestions for hardware or software. Listen to him
and then do your own thinking. l also take advantage of all
the collective knowldge of our club members and be sure to
get several opinions. Bob Hudak, our dedicated and talented
club librarian, has a disk with all of Jeff Levy's
ideas and indexed so you can find things.
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 herapy) which transforms poor students
into good students, almost over-night, 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
By Frank Chao
It is my pleasure to ring in the New Year with the 53rd “Internet
Talk” article, which is part of the tenth newsletter that is being produced
by Kay Burton, our intrepid editor. Liz and I hope that your holiday
season was as wonderful as ours.
LEAN THY COMPUTER MORE PERMANENTLY
Last month, I stated that you should remove/disable all software and hardware that does not serve a known, useful function, in order to have the fastest possible computer. At that time, I stated that users of Windows 95 and higher can press Control + Alt + Delete to generate a “Task List” repeatedly to close down unneeded software that is running inside their computers. I then stated that a more efficient way to shut down unneeded software is to run “EndItAll2”.
Unfortunately, the “Control + Alt + Delete” and/or “EndItAll2” techniques must be manually invoked by you each time that you start up your Windows computer. John Sullivan, our resident Windows expert, recommends that you run “msconfig” or “Startup Control a Panel” as a more permanent solution. Once you do so, you do not need to do anything on each startup of your computer With his permission, here are two e-mail messages that he sent to me about how to “lean thy computer” permanently so that you do not have to shut software down each time that you boot up your computer. His first message deals with Windows 98 and higher, the second deals with Windows 95.
WINDOWS 98 AND HIGHER ADVICE FROM JOHN SULLIVAN
It his first e-mail message, John said:
... Regarding ending TSR’s ..., I usually recommend msconfig for Win 98, ME and XP.
Go to Start, then Run and type msconfig, then click OK.
The window will open with a bunch of tabs along the top, one of which is labeled Startup. Click on the Startup tab, and you’ll get a list of programs running in the background which are taking up your “resources”.
You can stop any of them from auto loading at bootup by unchecking the box next to them. This doesn’t delete the program, but they’ll stay deactivated until you come back into msconfig and reactivate them ( a couple of exceptions like Instant Messenger, which has to be deactivated in the program’s options menu ... or else it will create a new msconfig entry each time you deactivate it).
Changes you make are only put into effect upon rebooting, cause that’s when Windows reads this list (which is actually a compilation derived from the Registry and other places.)
Usually I advise people to only uncheck the lines that they’re sure they know what it is ... things like Real Player and AOL icon. Any line that you’re not sure of, leave alone. Then reboot and check your resources again. Anything above 70% should be fine.
WINDOWS 95 ADVICE FROM JOHN SULLIVAN
In his second e-mail message, John said: and for your Windows 95 (and 2000 and more) users, they can use a “Startup Control Panel”, available free from Mike Lin at: http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml (this tip compliments of PC World Magazine).
NEW MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
At the Christmas party meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Joyce Oliver has taken over as our new Membership Director. Just in case you are as meeting-challenged as I am, her picture is available on her Website at http://members.tripod.com/~jooliver/
WEBSITES OF EVENTS IN THE SOUTH BAY
The Civic Light Opera of the South Bay continues to create award-winning musical productions. Their Website is at
The Discovery World Travel Adventure Film Series” continues to provide “arm chair travel” at the Marsee Auditorium at El Camino College. This film series will be shown on Monday afternoons and evenings from January 20th through March 17th. See
http://www.elcamino.edu/center for the arts/films.html
Liz and I hope to see you there!
Liz and recommend a software application called “Polderbits Sound Recorder and Editor”. It does a superb job of converting cassette music tapes and microphone audio into .wav files, .mp3 files, and audio CD-Rs.
It does a better job of recording anlog sound signals than any other software applications that we have tried. You can download a fully-functional time-limited evaluation copy of this software at http://www.polderbits.com
ON BOARD VERSUS PCI SOUND CARD
My home computer has an AUS system board (“motherboard”) with a sound card cirxuit that is built into it. This on-board sound card circuit that is built into it. This on-board sound card circuit was less than full-featured, so Liz felt that I should install a PCI add-on type of sound card.
At the November Advanced Computer Products (ACP) Swapmeet, she bought me an AOpen “Cobra AW850” sound card. I installed it into my Windows XP computer and Windows instantly recognized it. However, at this point, I was unable to get any sound in orr out of the new sound card Here is what happened: I forgot to turn off the on-board soulnd card circuitry on thr system boardof my computer. Even though Windows reconized the new sound card and no problems were noted in my Windows “device Manager”, the new sound card was experiencing a conflict with the sound card circuitry on the system board. After uttering a few words that would not be fit to print in this publication, I rebooted the computer and hit the “Esc” key in order to get into the BIOS configuration screens. I then turned off two parts of the sound card circuitry on the system board from within two locations inside the BIOS configuration screens. After “Saving and Exiting”, I rebooted Windows but the new PCI sound card was still dead with no sound coming out of it. I then rebooted the computer again and went into the BIOS configuration screen again. I found one additional place to turn off more of the sound circuitry on the system board. After “Saving and Exiting” again, I rebooted Windows again and the sound card has worked fine ever since.
The moral of this tale is: if your computer has a sound card circuit that is part of it’s system board, you have to go into the BIOS configuration screens to disable ALL of the parts of the sound card circuit before you can get an add-on (“PCI” or “ISA”) sound card to work.
WAYS TO CONTACT ME:
If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by the following methods:
1. Leave a voice message for me at (310)
2. Send me e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Send “snail” U.S. Postal Service mail
To: Frank Chao
A PIBMUG member was struggling with a faulty hard drive. An Ontrack product manager provided an snswer.
Question: I have a question about getting rid of data on a hard disk. I have read articles about reformatting and assorted software that gets rid of your data. However, I had a hard disk crash and must return the old disk to the system vendor in order to have my credit card credited for the cost of the new one they sent me (under warranty).
I do not want them or the OEM to be able to recover that data. With the disk not working, how do I get rid of the data? If I hold magnets around it, will that work? Should I drop it in a boiling pot of chicken soup? Your advice would be appreciated.
Smart-ass Answer: Chicken soup may work provided you remove all the fat, chicken feet, and carrots (strangely enough, celery and onions can stay)
More realistically, I have to admit I”m stumped. Lemme call in some eperts from Ontrack, the hard drive recovery company. Mark? Any ideas? --- Steve
The magnet idea isn’t going to work unless you have some incredibly strong magnets laying around. A de-gaussing unit strong enough to erase the platters of a hard drive would gen-erate a field that would damage other magnetic media within several yards. Also it would erase the servo-patterns on the drive used to control the move-ment of the read/write head, so it would certainly ruin the drive. We’ve requested ideas from the real experts, our clean room technicians.
They had a few solutions, but nothing simple. You could see if an authorized shop (like a disk recovery shop who has authority to break a drive seal without voiding the warranty) would take on a special job (for a fee) to open the drive and degauss the platters.
You could request to review the warranty policy from your HDD manufacturer and see if they have a policy for protecting data that may be on a warranty returned drive.
Trust the HDD manufacturer to destroy the platters as part of the end-of-life of a returned drive ---- Mark
After using tapes and zip drives for back ups, I finally decided to just back up to another hard drive. To simplifiy the process, I installed two mobile mounts and connected the IDE cables so that the upper mount or drawer is an IDE1 master and the lower drawer is an IDE2 Master. I purchased two drives of the same capacity. Both are jumpered as masters. The original is in the upper drawer, and the backup will be placed in the lower drawer.
I use “Drive Copy” which with installation generates a 3.5” floppy “Drive Copy” boot disk. The boot disk is used to start the copy process. Make certain that your 2 hard drives are labeled such that you will copy from the original to the backup, and not from the backup to the original.
Remove the backup and set it aside for that sad day when the original fails or is infected with a virus. The reason that I like this approach is that if the original drive fails, I can just power down and remove it from thr drawer and insert and boot the backup, which is already jumpered as a master drive, and you are immediatey up and running. Whereas if you were using a tape you have a problem of trying to salvage the original from the tape, hoping that it works. The same is true of Zip disks. I will usually start the backup when I go to bed and it is done in the morning. The cost of a 2nd hard drive is probably cheaper than a tape drive or zip drive and the cost of the tapes and zip disks just add even more cost.
Clifford Ford (email@example.com)
Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World and runs the Pasadena IBM Users Group. He also a founding member of APCUG. Check PCW's current edition at www.pcworld.com/resource/toc/index/.asp and sign up for Steve Bass online newsletter at www.pcworld.com/bass_letter
ON THE INTERNET
Let's go to the Newseum
The Newseum's popular exbhibit, "Today's Front Pages" is now available online. Select a region and see the newspaper that are available. Click on the paper you are interested in and see the front page. Through this site is currently under construction, watch for new improvements in the future.
Kill Banners and Popups Dead
Bannwe Zappper is a utility that automatically removes 100% of unsolicited popup ads with Internet Explorer (version 4.0 and above), any banner windows coming with free or low-cost services such as dial up Internet access, and all popup ads with Netscape Navigator (all versions). Version 3.0 enhances many of the functionalities from previous versions and includes additional special support for the Internet AExplorer.
Calculate, Faster, Better-
BEATCALC will wake up your brain on Monday morning with “free” instructions on how to do math computations mentally faster than someone using a calculator. For example, leatn how to square 65 or 95 mentally faster than a friend using a calculator. To subscribe to the free BEATCALC newsletter, send e-mail request to:
Oh, the Humanities
Philosopher Frances Bacon died from catching a cold while trying to prove that refrigeration could prevent food spoilage. You too can become the life of the party by filling your mind with interesting trivia. Trivia Portal is the world’s largest trivia site with over 350,000 trivia questions, games and quizzes. Go to:
Writers Online Workshops
Budding writers will like this site. WOW streamlines the online workshop process with no-fuss submissions, numerous course and schedule options and such features as the Persoal Notebook that allows you to dialogue privately with your instructor. Free biweekly newsletter with writing tips and workshop info, in addition to individual feedback from instructors, the workshops offer a nicely stocked library of print and online resource. Go to: