The Bug Report

The only Bug that's good for your computer!
A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group
Volume 22 Number 02
February 2004

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 -






Rich's Computer Repair
System Diagnostics, Repair & Upgrades

By Dr. John Hanson


      Topics for February 2004

   1.  CES Report
   2.  Color Laser Printer
   3.  Auction Sniping
   4.  Upgrade your Computer
   5.  Battery Chargers
   6.  Batteries
   7.  Power of Ads
   8.  Photoshop Technique
   9.  Flip Album
   10. LCD Monitor
   11. XP Lessons
   12. 5 megapixel Camera
   13. Buying a Digital Camera Caveat

   1.  CES Report:  CES, the Consumer Electronics Show is held every January in Las Vegas.  For awhile it looked like it was dying
with very few vendors but then blossomed to fill not only the convention center and Hilton Hotel again but the vast two story annex
to the south.  The new annex was built so people wouldn't have to go the Sands which was a laborious trip. This year almost every booth was sold but for some reason not many buyers attended.  Near the rear of the convention center the sellers were sitting in their booths  bored and sad to have invested $6,000 or more for a small booth and have no one walking around looking to buy.  For me that was fine because I had a chance to talk to
many of the vendors at length without having them distracted.  For instance I had a chance to discover a real expert on flash memory cards
at the San Disk booth.  He was telling me how some of the camera companies were losing sales because they were using proprietary cards
like the memory stick and the XD card instead of standard ones.  Proprietary cards are much more expensive and don't have any
benefits except to the manufacturer.  His advice is to stick to SD and Compact Flash.  Smart Media cards may be on their way out as they
don't have a built in controller as the others do.

   Doc Sexton, Virginia Pfiffner were there as well as Bill Champlin.  More of our members should go, at least once.  If you go as a member
of the press, as I did, you get many extra benefits and vendors are more generous in giving you things.   I could only stay for two of the
four days so I missed quite a bit but with what I did see there was nothing really worthwhile.  Many vendors were pushing plasma
screens which we know lose their brightness fairly rapidly so are not good buys.  But the general public is buying them and will discover
later that it was a waste of money.

   One enterprising vendor was a dynamic young lady with what I thot was frivolous product but she was getting lots of bites from big store
chains.  She is from Portland, Oregon and all the airports were snowed in so she thot she would waste her $6,000 booth.  So she rented a car,
drove to Sacramento and then took a plane.  With that kind of spirit she should be able to sell anything.

   2.  Color Laser Printer:  Some time ago Emmett Ingram went with me to see a demo of Minolta color laser printers.  This month I was
delighted see that PC Mag rated the 2300 one I bought as their favorite.  It does a great job both with pictures and text and the cost
per color print is much less than with my Epson 880 color ink jet.  The toner is more permanent and it's quite fast.  For my work where I
need lots of color pictures it is a real workhorse.  Stay away from the HP, Oki and Xerox color lasers.

   For monochrome PCMag recommends the Brother HL-5040 but there is probably no provision for Word Star so I will have to stick
with my HP-4+s which work fine and were made before HP started cheapening their printers.  Even so, HP probably sells more printers
than anyone else because of good marketing.  I was surprised that PC Mag did not include Sharp in their review.  Both my son and I have
multifunction Sharp lasers that are really great.  If you do plan on getting a multifunction I would suggest you get a laser type and not an
ink jet.

   3.  Auction Sniping:  I haven't used any on line auction services tho I have bought much machinery and tools for my shop at regular
auctions.  If you have experience buying or selling on Ebay I would love to learn from you.  For those that do use on line auctions there is
an interesting article hidden on page 148 of PC Mag for Feb 2nd.  Sniping is a way to have your computer automatically place a bid right
before an auction closes.  Of the various software programs reviewed they recommend Snipe Right Pro for $20 at  If
anyone uses any of these sniping programs please let me know.

   4.  Upgrade your Computer:  PC Mag for Feb 2nd has an article on upgrading your computer.  Actually not very useful for GSBug
members since we know where to get a modern complete system for about $240 but I suggest the Dr. Hanson Special for a little more.
Naturally PC Mag wants to help its advertisers so you need to take their advice with a grain of salt.

   You can even build your own.  I bought a mid tower with a 400 watt power supply for $20 and an ideal motherboard for about $70 and
finally an Athlon 2200 mc CPU for $71.  I could have bought the CPU and a motherboard from Frys for $70 and thrown away the
motherboard since theirs didn't have built in video or provision for both SDRAM types such as DDR.  At Frys I would have had to buy a
heat sink and fan for about $30 which came as part of my boxed CPU.  It's fun to put one together yourself and Bob Hudak's hardware SIG
can help but you really don't save any money compared to the Dr. Hanson Special from a number of suppliers but Advanced Computer is
the closest and has been very good for our members.  One member had a virus sneak in about a month after she bought it and Advanced fixed
it for only $25.  She was so happy.

   5.  Battery Chargers:  Even tho NiCad batteries are best for power tools they only have half the power of the new NiMH  AA batteries
which are now up to 2300 mah and cost about $1.50 each if you buy wisely.  There are many chargers available but the best and cheapest
are at Frys or Costco for about $10 so be careful about spending $30 or more for an inferior one.

   The best ones have switching power supplies built into the unit so there is no external power adapter and are thus much lighter.  If the
one you look at is heavy or has an external power adapter don't buy it.  The one I like at Frys takes 4 AA or 4 AAA NiMH or NiCads and
charges very quickly.  I don't remember the brand but the stock number at Frys ends in 37 and it includes an adapter so you can use it
in your car.  Watch the sale papers and sometimes they throw in the batteries for just a little more.  At Costco I had to buy two chargers as
each includes 6 AA cells and perhaps 6 AAA cells but since my camera uses 4 AA at a time I would have no use for the extra two
cells.  When charging or using keep cells of the same capacity together with a rubber band as it is not a good idea to mix them.  I was
surprised to see that at CES most suppliers were still selling the old, heavy battery chargers.  Very few were switching.  Another very
important test of your battery charger is to determine if it is smart enough to tell when the batteries are charged even if you unplug it and
plug it back in.  It your charger is not very smart and you insert charged batteries you might overheat and possibly start a fire so be
careful.  Many instructions warn you about this and tell you to unplug the unit after so many hours but this a nuisance when there are smarter

   6.  Batteries:  Emmett Ingram and I use a lot of regular AA alkaline batteries and the best price is about 23 cents each at Costco when you
buy packages of 48.  Since they have a shelf life of three years or more this is not a bad deal.  Emmett wanted to know if the Kirkland batteries
were as good as Duracell so I ran a test with my very expensive logging multimeter and it turns out they are just as good.  Then he
asked about the Ultra Duracells which are about twice as expensive and only offer about a quarter extra of life.

   Since Alkalines drop rapidly in voltage when you apply a heavy load I tested 4 of them in series with a 4.8 volt 500 ma flashlite bulb.
The no load voltage is over 6 volts but as soon as the load is applied it drops to about 5 volts.  The Keithley lab bench multimeter records the
voltage every ten minutes so then I can plot a graph to compare the batteries.  I didn't test any heavy duty type cells as they are not a good
buy at all.  I also plotted the curves of NiMH AA cells and they last about the same but of course are rechargeable.  The disadvantage of
using them in flashlights, etc. is that they have a higher self discharge rate than alkalines so may not work when you need them.

   I also ran some tests on Lithium Ion rechargeable cells and they are very good.  When you take the charge off a NiMH cell the voltage
drops rapidly to somewhere near its nominal 1.2 volts per cell but with the 3.6 volt Lithium Ion it keeps the same high charge voltage even
after 24 hours unless you have expensive voltmeters that can read out to 3 or 4 decimal places.  That voltage is 4.20 volts and should not be
exceeded or the battery could explode and you must limit the current appropriately.  For me 300 ma works fine without any overheating.  In
the early days of military notebook computers lithium batteries were used and often exploded but the soldier's life is considered part of the
cost of war.  Because of this dangerous possibility Lithium Ion batteries are not available on the open market.  They require very
sophisticated chargers.  To save money on these chargers some digital camera makers have switched to only using alkaline batteries or non
rechargeable Lithium batteries like the CR-123.

   7.  Power of Ads:  Ads can be very powerful.  Even large companies with crooked policies like Prudential Insurance can turn
around bad publicity with lots of ads saying how good they are.  Recently one of the national TV news magazines like 60 Minutes
showed how Prudential salesmen were trained to cheat older poor people.  Universities advertise that they only accept the top 10% of
students but when you visit the campus and sample a few students you discover how low they are.  The military officer academies claim how
great their honor code is but more cheating probably goes on there than in regular universities where it is very common.  It is easier for the
administrators not to clamp down but just advertise that everything is rosy. Honesty has really gone down hill in our country despite what
the ads say.  No wonder we have so many Enron's.

   8.  Photoshop Technique:  I am far from a Photoshop expert like Fred Vogel and Jack Noble are but I need to use it almost daily to get
work out the door for my business of training students.  Here is a little exercise that I find useful.  Suppose you wanted to print two pictures
on an 8.5 x 11 sheet and put a little text under each.  It is important to remember that whenever you drag an image onto a blank page that the
resolutions are set the same if you want it not to change size when inserted.  I use 300 in general.  Let's assume you want two portrait
sized pictures side by side in a landscape mode.  Open each picture and go to Image and make a duplicate.  Then Image, Size and set the width
to 5 inches and verify that depth is 8 inches or less.  You will notice that the resolution will change unless the box labeled "resample" is
checked.  Resampling loses some data so it's not a good idea in general and if you do resample make sure it says bicubic.  So you need to
check the box and set resolution to 300.

   Now you can press V for the Move Tool and drag the image to the open blank page which you have already rotated to the landscape
mode.  Position each image as desired.  Then click on Text tool and draw a box for your test.  Set the font and size and type away.  If it is
too small to see, click on magnify tool and draw a box around the text to make it bigger.  When finished with the text you need to click on its
layer in the layer box and then you are ready to print.  If any member has an easier way to do this please let me know.

   9.  Flip Album:  This is a most interesting program I have had for a couple of years but never used.  Now I have an application and am
trying to learn how to use it.  As with most programs the help file is almost useless even tho they tout it to be context sensitive.  It's not
even user sensitive.  You put pictures in this virtual book and it flips the pages as if you were in a real picture album.  I was struggling to
add pictures but once I stumbled on how to add 72 pictures all at once but I don't remember what I did.  It makes its own index and table of
contents and you can add captions on each page in a fairly crude manner.  My version is 3.1 so surely they must have a later version.  I
am trying to figure out how to make a CD so I can mail it to a client and they can see it on their computer or TV without having the
program.  Has anyone used this program?

   10. LCD Monitor:  When buying an LCD monitor try to look for one with a narrow bezel and without speakers so it takes up less room
frontally on your desk.  I saw a marvelous NEC 18 inch for only $488.  Always check it with fine text and on this one the tiny text was quite
clear whereas the same text on the Sampsung next to it was someone fuzzy.  Always look from side to side and higher and lower than mid
line to be sure it is still clear.  The one I saw was Model 1830NX and is available from 4U Technology at 909-566-0400 or 626-235-5362 in
Monterey Park.  Check it out at  Be aware that you can get a very expensive Viewsonic 21 inch tube monitor for under $200
and it may be better for fast games and photo colors.

   11. XP Lessons:  Some time ago I asked if anyone had tried those computer lessons heavily advertised on TV by John Scher, the Video
Professor, to let me know if it was any good.  I had called and offered to send the $8 for shipping and handling but they wanted my credit
card number.  It turns out to be a high pressure sales technique like the Time magazine company uses.  They send you the free lesson and
every month a new lesson.  If you don't return it within seven days you are billed $70 plus $8 shipping and handling and it may be hard to
shut them off.

   On the contrary a nice new company in Huntington Beach has made up a two hour training CD on XP for only $20.  You can call Sabina at
714-887-0413 for more details.  Be sure to mention I talked to her at the Pomona Show or you will have to pay the normal price of $30.
Even tho Bill Gates gave me a copy of XP Pro I have never installed it as I think it is much better to stay with 98SE.  If a member who has
XP and wants to learn how to use it and is willing to write a review for the newsletter they can borrow my copy for two weeks for a deposit of
$30.  I have seen it demonstrated and it looks very well done.  Each of the 13 chapters has a different instructor.  Their website is

   12. 5 megapixel camera:  Some club members think you need to go past 3 mp but I get great 8 x 10s with my 3 mp and even my 2 mp.
Here is an opportunity to get 5 mp for only $180 and the picture quality looks excellent.  It even uses a SD flash memory card which I
think are much better than XD and certainly much less expensive.

   It has many of the features of more expensive digital cameras.  I have a copy of the specs and it looks good but you need to check out
some slight errors where in one place it says it has 16 mb of internal memory and in another it says 8 mb.  Another place says it supports in
addition to SD a smart media card and in another MMC.  You can call John at Eascom at 626-893-3152.  To get the show price tell him Dr.
Hanson saw a demonstration at the Pomona Computer Fair.  He magnified a picture he took to an enormous size on a 21 inch TV
monitor.  It takes 4 AAA size batteries which are rechargeable.  Should you get one please write a review for the Newsletter.  It has no
optical zoom but that is OK as you can move closer or further.

   13. Buying a Digital Camera Caveat:  Some really nice looking name brand film cameras are made to look like a digital with an LCD
screen in the back so let your friends know.  They will think you are an expert.  One way to verify it's a film camera is to see if there is a
place to insert a roll of film.  When buying a digital try to get image stabilization which allows you to shoot at 2 to 3 speeds slower and still
hold it steady.  On mine I seldom need to use the flash, even in dim light, and it is especially useful when beyond the usable distance of
your flash, ie. 15 feet.

   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 at for more information.

By Frank Chao

Welcome to the second month of the new year ! This is the 66th "Internet Talk" article and it is part of "The Bug Bulletin", a monthly publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group.


This is the third issue of "The Bug Bulletin" that is "Web only".  Bob Hudak and other members of our "new" Board of Directors continue to search for a newsletter editor so that we can resume having a paper version of this publication.  I did not get any comments regarding the ideas that I submitted in my previous article which is located at

Don't everyone speak up at once ! The silence is deafening !

During these editor-less months, our Webmaster Shelley Miller has had to work extra hard to compile the Web-only version of our newsletter, so please express your appreciation to him in person or by sending e-mail to him at

Since December, news and announcements have appeared in red font at the club's  Website at

These timely announcements are especially useful in these editor-challenged times.


Free and fee-based wireless hotspots are proliferating around the United States  and the world. Fueled by the profit-motive, fee-based "hotspots" are more prevalent than free ones, but many computer laptop owners with low or fixed incomes prefer to only utilize the free ones. A directory of free hotspots can be found at


The success of these advertising-based, totally-free hotspots are totally dependent on you and me. The advertising revenues which fund these wireless connections are totally dependent on their popularity of use. The Internet accessing public has supported Netzero and Juno and turned them into successful providers of free (and non-free) providers of dial-up Internet access. Hopefully, we will do the same for free wireless Internet.

For laptop owners in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, California, the following free hotspots are listed at the "jiwire" directory:

Papa Guidos Pizza
1521 Aviation Boulevard
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Samurai Sam's
1570 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite P
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

The following free hotspots are listed in the "wififreespot" directory:

Papa Guidos Pizza
1521 Aviation Boulevard
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Hennessey's Tavern
8 Pier Ave.
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Java Man
157 Pier Ave.
Hermosa Beach, CA

Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse
399 W. 6th St. (6th @ Mesa)
San Pedro, CA
(310) 514-0800

Galleria at South Bay Shopping Center- Food Court

Liz and I hope to see you at these great eateries and watering holes !


Liz and I continue to hear horror stories about DSL.  In the latest case, the telephone salespeople of SBC Yahoo! DSL exaggerated the ease of doing a "self install" from their do-it-yourself installation kit, as reported by one of my relatives in Burbank, California.  We are not impressed by their lack of "truth in packaging".  However, do not let these impediments discourage you from getting a DSL connection to the Internet. DSL continues to offer a dedicated, unshared connection between your computer and the Internet which is more reliable and predictable than the shared pathway of a cable modem. We recommend that you educate yourself and get an appropriate amount of assistance when installing a SBC Yahoo! DSL connection.


When installing a DSL or cable modem connection to the Internet, you might need some technical assistance. Here are some that we recommend:

"Rich's Computer Repair" is operated by Rich Bulow, a GSBUG member with  expertise in computers and networks.
He can be reached at
and his e-mail address is

"Geek Squad" is a company that will send a computer technician to your home or business to help you with computer or network problems. Their Website is at
and their landline phone is
The Torrance branch of this company operates out of the "Best Buy" store at Pacific Coast Highway and Hawthorne Blvd.

CompUSA Technical Services will send an "A+ certified" computer technician to your home or business. Details can be found at

You can also hire your fast Internet provider to send a technician to your home or business: SBC, Time Warner, Comcast, and Earthlink all have technicians that they can send to your home or business to assist you with installation and networking problems.


Liz and I found the following items from the February 3, 2004 issue of PC Magazine to be of great interest:

Page 21:
Do not get scammed by "phishing".

Page 22:
New search technologies will "Out-Google.." Google.

Page 40:
"Star Office 7" continues to be a viable, low-cost alternative to Microsoft Office.

Page 53:
A letter to the editor mentions "SeniorNet", a non-profit organization which provides senior citizens with access to and education about computer technology and the Internet

"PC Magazine" continues to be our favorite computer magazine and we read both the paper version which arrives via snail USPS mail and the on-line version at


If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by the following methods:
1.  Send me e-mail at:
2.  Leave me a voice message at
3.  Send "snail" U.S. Postal Service mail to

 Frank Chao
 PO Box 6930
 Torrance, CA 90504-0030.

Or sell your computer and take up knitting instead !!!!



It's Income Tax time again.

Time to fill out the forms on the computer. I have used TaxAct, from 2nd Story Software, for a number of years, and I like the way it looks and works. It looks just like the IRS paper forms. You can fill in the information where it is supposed to go or use the interview method to get the numbers in the right spot. TaxAct has given the club a special price for their program. You can't beat the price. Check this. "With the help of user groups such as yours, TaxACT has become the #1 value-leader in tax preparation and services. We understand how time consuming it is to sift through all the available software products.  As an expression of our gratitude, we are offering a special price on our TaxACT 2003 Deluxe and State products - available exclusively to user group members. Members needing to prepare both a federal and state tax return can purchase the TaxACT 2003 Ultimate Bundle for just $16.00 (regularly $19.95) by visiting   For those of your members needing only to prepare a federal return may order the TaxACT 2003 Deluxe Edition for only $6.00 (regularly $9.95) by visiting   When referencing these URLs, you may wish to note to your members that these links simply reflect a discounted shopping cart. Product specific information may be found by visiting our "Personal Tax Product" feature section found at   Additionally, the discount prices that are referenced above are valid for our program download option and are not available for phone in orders.  For an additional $5.95 shipping and handling fee, any of your organization's members may order TaxACT software." The Ultimate Bundle includes one free electronic filling. TaxAct has a free version that allows only one form to be filled.

I have a copy of it in the Library on CD. If interested let me know.  So why buy a package?  The cost is small and if you need to help the kids file their returns you are all set. This takes care of the State forms also which the free version does not. It saves time and cuts down on errors when you use it each year because it fills in all the information that does not change like names and social security numbers. Carries forward any tax loss that you did not use last year. Fills in all the stock broker names and names of banks you used last year. The job is half done for you. You only need to fill in the new numbers. It prints out a perfect looking form that is easy to correct if you spot a mistake. Which I doubt you will because it does a check of the form and points out where a problem might be. It does all the math and knows all the law changes and applies them as needed. It really makes doing the returns fun up to the point when you need to write a check.  With luck the IRS  will be writing you a refund check.

I have the presentation that W. F. Ordway made to us at the last general meeting on Satellite TV, on a CD that is available from the Library. Also the CD from last month that has Iview and all the plugins, Spybotsd and Eraser. Call or email to order any of these CDs.


By GSBug Member at Large Jack Noble     310~543~5403

   A friend in need is a you know what – we’ve all heard this expression for years.  But, what does one do when he or she thinks his or her life is about to end?  Life as a digital graphics person that is.
   Here’s what happens.  You snap a flock of priceless photos with your trusty (?) digital hi-tech, piece of . . . art camera – you know the one – its supposed to do ‘everything’?
   Then you slap the images into your faithful (?) computer.  Next you burn them into a CD or two (if you’re smarter than moi, that is).  After the little beauties are carefully tucked away from the clutches of your trusty evil & treacherous computer you can then, ‘safely’ stuff ‘em into Adobe PhotoShop, or whichever other graphics program you might happen to have, and begin messing with them.
   OR – you could do as I have done (twice, so far) and try to immediately copy and move the little rascals directly into your hard drive before burning CD copies (dumb – that’s with a capital ‘D’ of course).  Because whenever I’ve done it this way – I loose images and pieces of my life.
   Now, here’s where the silicon meets the road - - - IF you have not jumped into formatting your flash card, memory stick, microdrive or other media prior to making copies – no worries.  Just resubmit them into your graphics program and wail away.  IF, on the other hand, you have followed my bad example by not making copies, and something crashes, what can you do?  Well, you can either put a slug of lead between your ears OR, you can get hold of a ‘rescue disk’.
   Enter ~ ~ ~  Super Bob – Hudak, that is.  I strongly recommend that you do this immediately – don’t wait ‘til it happens to you.  I know – you’re thinking . . . “This can’t possibly happen to little ol’ me.”  That’s what I used to think.
   Please believe me, the CD that Bob has for a measly $5.00 is far superior to even the Norton Utilities recovery system that I’ve also tried.  It’s far, far easier to use and you can’t beat the price.

   By-the-way, all net proceeds from copies of the club’s library go directly into the GS Bug treasury –Bob’s time is gratis.
   Bob Hudak, our club librarian, has a slew of great and useful (naturally) special software/tools to help us get out of jams or just plain make computing simpler and far more productive.
   Do yourself a favor and contact Bob at –     310-323-0579.



From Blue Chip Magazine Dec. 2003 By James Alexander

Here I am at the closing weeks of 2003, doing what parents can for the family wish lists versus budgets. I think of all the new geek toys that will not get off the wish list for me, but I am cheered up by the thought that prices continue to drop and performance improve for many of those toys. Mentioning toys, next month I will revisit the DVD market with software reviews and updates on DVD hardware.

October 21, Microsoft’s new Office 2003 was launched. Then November 4, Microsoft released an update for Microsoft Office 2003. This update fixes a problem that occurs when you try to open or to save a PowerPoint 2003 file, a Word 2003 file, or a Excel 2003 file that was previously modified and saved by an earlier version of Microsoft’s Office applications. The following symptoms may be encountered:

 * The document may not open completely.
 * The document may be corrupted.
 * The document may open but with missing content.
 * You might receive an error message about filename being wrong.

The Office2003 Fix 1 is available at;en-us;828041 Download the 892Kb file, then follow the instructions for installation on the web site.

There is an alternative, if MS Office is too much for you or your hardware. This alternative was released about the same time(Oct 9) as Microsoft Office 2003. Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice 7: runs on MS Windows, Linux, and Solaris; is able to import and export MS Office file formats, as well as exporting to Flash, PDF, and documents readable on Palm-OS and Pocket PC devices; supports Asian language fonts in the same package; and lower cost, ranging from free to about $80.

Recently, there have been a variety of ads and warnings about Identity Theft. Please pay attention. In the year 2002 alone, 9 million Americans were identity theft victims. The dollar loss was over $40 billion, and the loss of 200 million hours in trying to repair the damages. I hope these numbers worry you, they scare me. If you want more information on Identity Theft there are two sites to visit: for the 2003 CSI/FBI Survey; and on the ID Theft link). Perhaps, if there is enough interest, we could bring in a presentation on the subject in the future. (Hint! If you are interested, let us know.) Prepare for Identity Theft, by keeping records of all financially related events in your life. Create a backup plan, and update it regularly. (Does this sound familiar?) When discarding records assure they have been destroyed before throwing records out to the world, or for that matter out on the web. There are only two scenarios: those who have lost the financial identity and those who have not yet lost it.

That naturally leads to one of the oldest and unfortunately most successful of computing experience - viruses. Virus was first described in 1984 as a self-propagating program which posed or may pose a threat to the operation of software or hardware. But in fact, the birth of computer viruses may have been during the 1950’s with the work of von Neumann and Turing which also gave birth to artificial intelligence. Interestingly, it was in games that some of the earliest viruses were created. The 1961 game “Darwin”, had Robert Morris, Sr’s digital evolving creature create serious no fun to play feelings. (Robert Morris Jr.’s worm dragged the Internet to a crawl-still in 1988.) The early 1970’s UNIVAC systems game “Animals”, had its demise starting in 1975 with a game copying program called “Pervade”. “Pervade” self propagated itself by copying to UNIVAC systems directory format, which caused many UNIVAC administrators to worry about resources being consumed with out permissions. A Unisys 2200 system administrator indicated recently that “Pervade” still ran on that system. Proving viruses could live a long time. From about 200 viruses identified by the end of 1990, to today’s more than 70,000 viruses, it is easy to conclude there has been a strong growth in this threat to your computing experience. For a more detailed and fascinating view of the growth of viruses go to “The computer virus--no cures to be found” By Robert Lemos, CNET News

Till next time you drop by the Back Porch, have a good time. And remember, help other PC users when ever you can. Send questions or subjects you would like a Back Porch opinion on to: