The Bug Report
Editor - Vernon Lym
by BOB HUDAK
I am off to a slow start this year as far as computer work. I am hoping to have a tax preparing program for you on a CD at the general meeting. Can't tell you much about it because I haven't received it yet. But last year it worked great so I am sure this year's version will also do the job. More info at the meeting.
The board talked about having more reviews in our news letter written by members. We have a guide to help you put it together. It is a way to look over a new program and share your findings with the rest of the club. You also get to keep the program if the review is good enough to publish. I bet there are a large number of you that Santa brought some new computer toys at Christmas. How about telling us about them? Do they work good? Install easy? Good points and bad. Etc. Short report would be great. Digital cameras. Lot of interest. Tell us what kind you have and the good and bad features. The editor will put together several reports and pass on this first hand information to the rest of the membership. How about sending along a picture (head shot) of yourself to show how the camera performs. Get yourself published. By the way I took some digital pictures on a floppy to Walgreens and had some 4"x 6" prints made. They came out GREAT! They charge 30 cents a print. You can not make them at home for that price. Give it a try. The picture of me was taken with a Fuji Finepix 2800. My daughter in law got it in her Christmas stocking. Do you have one of the new LCD flat screen monitors? What kind? Do you like it? Is it worth the money? If you do not like it, would you please donate it to the club? <G> Good tax deduction. Lets make the March news letter the start of something special.
Only a few chances left for the Windows XP raffle. Will have the drawing
at the meeting tonight. Buy a chance NOW! At the general meeting
Mon Feb. 4th the drawing for Windows XP Pro was held. Virginia Pfiffner
drew the winning ticket from the box. The winner is Hal Black of
Contact me at:
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NEW WEBMASTER FOR GSBUG !
Our new Webmaster is Shelley Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org). Shelley has
been making minor changes to our club's Website since the middle of December.
When you get a moment, take a look at
and send an e-mail message to Shelley with your ideas and comments about our Web site. Let me conclude this section by expressing thanks to Rich Bulow (email@example.com) for being our Webmaster for the past two years. He has done a fine job for us.
Kostek Haussmann (firstname.lastname@example.org) has obtained a "Netzero Platinum" dial-up Internet account. This is the fee-based version of Netzero that costs about $10 a month. He stated that he and his progeny have been using this unlimited account extensively for the past six weeks. He also stated that it is by far the most reliable dial-up Internet access that he has ever had. His opinion is especially valid and valuable, since he also used dial-up accounts on Los Angeles Free-Net, AOL, and the free version of Juno Web, during the 2001 calendar year.
Let's suppose that you are using Internet Explorer to browse the Web and you try to print a Web page and end up with a page or two of gibberish. What should you do next? You should then try to print the same Web page using Netscape instead of Internet Explorer. Netscape often succeeds in printing Web pages when Internet Explorer fails. This happened to me three times during the month of January. In all three instances, I was unable to print an accurate depiction of a certain Web page using Internet Explorer and Netscape subsequently did a fine job of printing the specific Web page. This occurred at three different Web sites.
Here are the "workaround" steps that you can follow:
Step 0: Make sure that Netscape is installed into the computer that you are using. (If it is not installed in your computer, now is the time to install it.)
Step 1: Make sure that Internet Explorer is at the Web page that you wish to print. (You might have to use the "back" or "forward" buttons to get to the Web page that you wish to print).
Step 2: Use your mouse to highlight the entire URL (address) in the address box of the Address bar.
Step 3: Press Ctrl AND while holding down the Ctrl key, press the "c" key, in order to copy the URL (address).
Step 4: Start Netscape.
Step 5: Use your mouse to perform a single click to the right of the URL (address) in the "Netsite:" box in the "Location toolbar" of Netscape, in order to highlight the URL (address) that is there.
Step 6: Press Ctrl AND while holding down
the Ctrl key, press the "v" key, in order to paste the URL (address) there.
||Visioneer 8920 Scanner
A Short Review
by John Hanson
The scanner uses a USB port which I find to be very convenient. Unfortunately, this may be part of the reason for the poor operation. Visioneer tech support blames the problems on Microsoft and my mother?board. Microsoft does admit there is a USB timing problem when using an AMD cpu faster than 300 MHz with a SIS or Via chip set. I downloaded Microsoft's patch, but the Visioneer software problem is uncorrected.
Another annoyance is that, after installation, the
scanner must be active whenever the computer is in operation. The support
person says that you must leave it connected to your computer all the time,
even when you don't need it. Since I prefer to run only the peripherals
that I intend to use, I unplugged it. Now every time I do something the
computer stops and a window comes up saying it is looking for the scanner.
With Herman Krouse's help we finally got the window turned off, but the
computer still waits for the scanner until timeout.
My advice: This unit has terrific potential but does not meet my present needs. I will wait till they get the bugs worked out. Then it will be a truly useful product.
[Editors note: Many scanners now are expected to be left on during computer use. This is true of my Mustek flat bed and my HP C5100 film scanner. I solve this by switching off their wall power with my control panel, along with my printers. At boot time the drivers come up but don't care if the peripherals are on or off. The only problem comes if I forget to turn them on before requesting service; then I provide the appropriate action. If the Visioneer doesn't respond to this solution, the box will have to run as described.]
I recently replaced an old computer with a brand, new, sparkling, whisper-quiet Pentium 4 speed demon. I asked the vendor to install Windows XP Professional, and I subsequently installed Office XP Professional. There was no other software on this "clean" machine, but because I have a local area network with another machine in the office, and the other machine is connected to an ADSL line, I decided I needed a firewall and an antivirus package on the new machine, too.
Symantec has always had my Antivirus (AV) software protection of choice, and although there have been a few problems with their products along the way, it was never enough of an irritation to provoke an article. But Norton Internet Security 2002 most definitely is. It is supposed to include a personal firewall to defend against crackers, antivirus protection, privacy control to keep your personal information private, and a parental control to keep your children safe on the Internet. It looks very similar to previous releases of Norton Internet Security (2000 and 2001), which I've used on other machines running Windows 95/98 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0, but the previous versions are not compatible with Windows XP. So I installed the latest version to protect my new workhorse.
The installation was not fun, and contained several error messages stating that some script or other was not able to run & did I wish to continue. I was finally able to reach the end of the line, and was prompted to restart the computer, and run a Live Update as soon as possible. My computer restarted, and then it restarted, and then it restarted again, and finally restarted again. I was wondering if I would ever be able to keep it on long enough to see the splash screen! But I did finally get to see the XP screen again, and noticed that the antivirus icon on the taskbar had a big red "X" through it. Being such a good little girl, and always doing as I'm told, <g> I started the Live Update, thinking possibly this was why the icon was inactive. But the software did not even try to update the antivirus definitions, and even after asking for all the latest bells and whistles Symantec had, it still was not enabled. I tried to enable the AV and it refused from any point I tried. After several hours of trying to get this product to work properly, and calling in the mounties (AKA resident Alpha Geek) to try to make it work properly, I gave up in exasperation.
My next strategy was to uninstall the program, as everyone knows by now that you cannot install one AV over another, and just maybe I could re-install the software and overcome the problems with the initial install. But it refused to let me uninstall it, saying I had to disable the antivirus part of it first. But I could not do that anywhere that I could find, as all it would do was inform me that it was already disabled. Finally, the Alpha Geek was able to convince the software through the XP side of things that, indeed, the antivirus had been disabled. However, this was all for naught, as it now said I could not uninstall it unless I logged in through the "Supervisor" account. There _was_ no supervisor account! There were only two accounts on this machine, my account, and a guest account.
Panic. Desperation. Anger at a company who had always been a trusted friend, and now was just a shareholder's country club. Finally, disgust at what choices I now had because of one piece of buggy software that was not ready for prime time.
I logged onto Symantec's web page to look for some tech support. After
searching through all the FAQ's, and finding nothing that resembled the
problems I encountered, I tried to contact them with a personal message.
But there didn't seem to be any place to reach them with a personal message,
only a "forum" where others could post their requests as well. So
I left a public message in the forum, asking for guidance on how
to uninstall Norton Internet Security 2002.
I did find a LOT of other messages from people who were having similar problems. Only a handful of them had any replies, and those replies basically said to use a file on their website to uninstall the software. But to do that, one had to hack the registry in order to disable the antivirus, etc., and the solution was quite convoluted. Definitely not for the fainthearted, and definitely not something you wanted to do to a brand-new computer. And the replies to previous messages were the standard party line, even after some of the participants explained that their party line did not work either. FWIW, the solution utility posted on their website was _not supported_ by Symantec, so if you chose to uninstall the software, using the files off their website, you did so at your own risk.
I finally received a response from Aaron at Symantec. I got the same party line spiel that all the others did, which means I will have to spend a lot of time getting my machine back to a point where I can use it. So basically, they have wasted a lot of my time, and $60.00 of my money to tell me that I now have to do it myself. Hmmm. I believe they are the ones who caused it, why aren't they the ones cleaning up their own mess??? Why hasn't there been a recall of this product? Why don't they have a _legitimate_ fix for the problems? Notice problems is plural. People are still being snookered into buying this joke, thinking it is compatible with XP, when plainly it is not.
I think it will be easier for me to just reformat and reinstall than to try to clean up this fiasco they have caused. I am perfectly capable of buggering up my own machine, without any help from the outside world. I will now move on to another company who is actually ready to protect my XP computer, and ready to accept responsibility for their mistakes. I have to wonder, though, if the term "class action" would hold any incentive for them to get their ACT! together. Pun not supported by author...
(Judy is the Past President of Apcug and has done much for the User Group Community.)
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Why upgrade? At the meeting, several people commented that we didn't show the killer feature or the clear benefits of upgrading, especially from Windows 2000.
That's because, IMO, there isn't a distinct knock-your-socks-off feature/benefit. Instead, there are a number of minor enhancements that, collectively, make Windows XP a compelling upgrade for me. We tried to dash through them but perhaps didn't adequately demonstrate the benefit. Here's a brief summary of my favorites:
* Stability. Windows XP has the ability to run a large number of apps without running out of resources, without crashing. (If you're running Windows 2000, you already have this, so there's no gain.)
* Security. This is a huge topic that I can't adequately cover in a few sentences; suffice to say that security of your data and your privacy in Windows XP is leaps and bounds beyond anything available in Windows 9x. (Again, if you have Windows 2000, you already have most of the security capabilities of Windows XP.)
* UI enhancements. A variety of changes in Start menu, taskbar, Windows Explorer, and Control Panel make everyday tasks such as launching programs, switching between windows, and managing files just a little bit faster, easier, and more convenient. These features can each be customized, so you can use the ones you like and change others back to Windows 9x/2000 style. (Similarly, you can banish the new look of Windows XP while still enjoying its other benefits.)
* Fast User Switching. Great for shared computers, FUS lets someone else log on without requiring you to first close all your documents and applications.
* Power management. Standby and hibernation let me save power (on desktop PCs as well as portables) yet still have fast boot time, bringing me right back to where I left off. (That is, all the windows that I left open when the system powers down are already open when I power up.)
* Digital photo support. I was never a fan of digital photography until I got XP because it was such a hassle before. But the support for cameras and scanners, as well as the features built in to Windows Explorer for viewing, printing, e-mailing, and manipulating images have actually made it fun and practical to work with photos in new ways.
* Remote Assistance. The ability to actually see and work with someone else's screen while conversing with them through text, voice, and video chat is a killer feature for anyone who's looked upon as a computer guru and gets calls for support from relatives, friends, and neighbors. (I suspect that includes most PIBMUG members!)
* Remote Desktop. The ability to connect with my home computer from the office (or vice versa) is awesome. It looks and acts exactly as if I'm at that computer five miles away, and I have access to all its files, printers, and other resources. And like remote assistance, it's acceptably fast if you have broadband Internet access. I also use it to work with other computers on my own LAN; that's sometimes easier than hopping back and forth between two computers.
* Better help. It's easier to navigate, integrates information from
the Microsoft Knowledge Base, and includes links to a number of diagnostic
tools. (Of course, it doesn't have all the answers. You still need our
There are dozens of other enhancements--built-in CD burning, built-in ZIP file support, Windows Media Player, Movie Maker, etc. etc.--but those listed above are the ones that I personally find useful.
What's Wrong with XP? Not Much
What's wrong with Windows XP; we promised to talk about "what bites" but some felt we didn't deliver. That's because there really isn't much I don't like; here's my full list:
* Windows product activation (WPA). I dislike it on principle, but in practice it's not a problem for me or for most users. It's anonymous, and it's a one-time operation that involves clicking Next a few times to get through a wizard--and then you never think about it again. Windows does NOT phone home on its own at any time to confirm your activation status, as has been reported. But as Ed mentioned, it's a classic Microsoft version 1.0 product.
If you want to avoid activation altogether, get XP preinstalled on your next computer from a major OEM vendor like Dell. Those versions of XP do not have product activation, so it'll never kick in when you change a number of components in your system--one of the major flaws in the current implementation. You should be aware, however, that Windows XP versions from major manufacturers are linked to the system BIOS--which means, for example, that you can't take the Windows XP CD that comes with your Dell and install it on a Gateway or a white box system.
* Price. Now that MS is enforcing the one copy/one machine limitation (it's always been part of the license agreement, but they've never had a way to prevent people from copying to all machines until WPA), I think the price--at least for copies after the first one--should be significantly lower, say $50-75 for Home, twice that for Pro. OTOH, it is a pretty good value, even at $100/$200.
* Messenger and Passport in your face. I use them constantly, so it doesn't bother me that they always start. But I'd be frustrated if I didn't want to use them and discovered how difficult it is to vanquish them.
* UI is too chummy in some respects. Wizards have replaced some dialog boxes, advanced options are now further buried, etc. As a power user who knows his way around, these slow me down. Fortunately, there aren't many of these impediments in the areas that I use frequently.
* Support for "legacy" hardware. Some people mentioned HP products in particular, but there are a number of unsupported products that are not that old. Microsoft has always left device driver development to hardware manufacturers, and it supplies plenty of support to manufacturers. It's clearly in Microsoft's best interest to have all hardware supported.
Manufacturers, however, don't have any incentive (other than the wrath heaped on them by disgruntled customers) to provide drivers for discontinued products; they'd prefer that you buy their latest and greatest. Regardless of whose fault it is, it's a real problem that affects all of us consumers.
* Networking. It's a little difficult to set up a mixed network--one with Windows XP and Windows 9x workstations. (But it's not impossible, and the steps to successful networking are fully documented in our book!) Windows XP Home Edition uses only the Simple File Sharing model, which is indeed simple, but also somewhat inflexible. You can set up a folder to be private (so that only your user account can access it, either when logged on locally or over the network) or you can share it with everyone. But you can't, for example, easily set up a shared folder that you and your spouse can access but your kids cannot. (As we mentioned, there is a workaround--detailed in the book--that lets you set up more complex security arrangements using Safe Mode.)
Which Version is Best for You?
Home Edition or Professional? The essential differences are these:
* You can't use Remote Desktop to connect to a computer running Home Edition. (Btw, the computer you connect from can be running any version of Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP.) You can, however, use Remote Assistance to connect to a Home Edition computer.
* You can't use Home Edition on a multiprocessor system.
* With Home Edition, your computer can't join a Windows NT/2000 domain. (You can, however, use all domain resources if you have a domain user account.)
* With Home Edition, you're essentially stuck with Simple File Sharing. You can share/protect only at the folder level, and you can only make a folder private or share it with everyone. The Windows 2000 security model that's available in Professional offers granular security control that lets you assign specific types of access to specific users for specific files. (Most home user won't need this level of control.)
* If you install Professional now, you won't be able to upgrade to the Home Edition of the next version of Windows, so you'll pay an extra $100 now and again the next time you upgrade Windows.
Pro includes everything that's in Home. If you're unsure about which to get (that is, the points above don't seem to apply to you), try Home Edition. Worst case: you later decide to upgrade to Pro. The Home Edition-to-Professional upgrade is $125, so you're only out an additional $25 compared to purchasing Pro initially.
You can find Microsoft's advice on this choice at
What's the Bottom line?
* If you're buying a new computer, get XP. (Before you do that, however, run the Windows XP Upgrade Advisor on your current system. Be sure that any software or peripherals you plan to use with your new system will work with XP, or can be inexpensively upgraded.) Don't fret too much about the learning curve for a new OS and its new features; nearly everything you know about your current system can be applied to Windows XP, and you can learn about the new features as you need them.
* If you're using Windows 9x AND if your computer has the horsepower (practical minimum: 300 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM, 1.5 GB free disk space) and is compatible (run the Windows XP Upgrade Advisor), strongly consider upgrading to XP.
* If you're using Windows 2000 and you're happy with it, hold off on upgrading until you get your next computer. If one of the nifty features like Remote Desktop, Remote Assistance, or digital photo support would make your life easier, pop for XP now.
I've decided that XP Professional is right for my newest systems (the rest run Windows 2000), but I don't mean to suggest that it's right for everyone. Besides, Ed and I have written books about earlier versions of Windows too. We'd be just as happy if you bought one of those books. :-)
Get Some Help
Here are a few URLs that'll help you with the upgrade:
Microsoft Product Lifecycle: This site tells you when support dries
up for each version of Windows.
Windows XP Upgrade Advisor: The program available at this site checks
your computer for hardware and software that may be incompatible with Windows
XP. When available, it includes links to upgrade information for the incompatible
Copyright c 2001 by Carl Siechert. Reproduced with permission. Article reproduction coordinated by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group. Reaching Ed Bott and Carl Siechert is easy. Ed's site is http://www.bott.com and Carl's company site is http://www.swdocs.com Discussions, links, tips, and other good things are at http://communities.msn.com/WindowsXPInsideOut and, as you'd expect, at each site you'll find links for ordering the book online.
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