The Bug Report

The only Bug that's good for your computer!
A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group
Volume 21 Number 1
January 2003

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





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  at www.Tooties.comfor more information.

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.
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.
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.
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: (this tip compliments of PC World Magazine).
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
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 for the arts/films.html
for details.
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
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.
  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:
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
Ontrack’s Response:
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
Better Backups
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 (
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 and sign up for Steve Bass online newsletter at


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.
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Calculate, Faster, Better-
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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:
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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: