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 05
May 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. Garry Sexton

The Secret Guide to Computers          640 pages
By Russ Walter  cover price $17.50
GSBUG price 10.00 at  general meetings
This is easy reading and a good reference on hard ware and soft ware.  The condensed historical background brings you up to date and makes the current information meaningful. I intended to do a over view as the review but because the way it was written frequently went off on tangents because it was so interesting.
The book covers:  Buyer’s guide, Operating systems, internet, word processing, tricky applications, fix your computer, programming, management.
The index is complete.
The interesting thing is when you look some thing up the background /history is distracting and sometimes very funny. The information that you wanted is there.
There is an 225 page section on programming starting with “BASIC” .  Did you know there is Qbasic included in the CD from 95 to ME so you can program using Qbasic and it will run with ME.  It is not included in XP.
After working with Qbasic you can advance to Visual Basic, Other Basics then, Pascal, C and C++, Java, Dbase and FoxPro, others and assembler.  I know most of you are not interested now in this area but is a good reference for some understanding of the languages.
Computer maintenance is in 30 pages covering the past to now, covering the physical cleaning and the program cleaning, problem solving.
Word processing section covers Word, Works, WordPerfect, Q&A Write.  I use Word for the most  part and was surprised to find several things I had not know about and wanted to use <Ctrl> F7 is the thesaurus or tools, language,thesaurus.
In the Email section there is a listing of the “smiley” :-).
Internet is covered along with the providers and a explanation of some of the terms.
This is a good addition to your library.
U.A. Garred Sexton  Pres. of GSBug

By Dr. John Hanson

Topics for May

1.  UPS Recall of APC:
2.  Buying a UPS:
3.  50 amperes instantly on CPU:
4.  LCD Monitors
5.  Buying a Computer
6.  Useful Web Site, FAQ
7.  Swap Meet Tour
8.  Pomona Tour
9.  Large Monitors for Cheap
10. Internet SIG Revival
11. Word Star vs Word
12. Long Distance Good Deal
13. Rebate Deadlines at Frys
1. UPS Recall of APC:

Last month I mentioned that I was not  impressed with the inside engineering of UPS’s from APC despite the external good looks and impressive advertising.  Page 57 of April PC  World  writes that serious overheating  problems are inside which has involved a recall of 900,000 units.  To see if yours is on the list go to
2.  Buying a UPS:  In order to write reasonably good  articles  I often buy a unit and test it, even though not as thorough as the  regular magazines.  But when I do I usually take it apart and analyze the engineering to see if I should keep it or return it.  Digital cameras are wonderful to photograph the various parts inside for my files.  The UPS I bought is Cyber Power 585AVR.  The AVR stands for automatic voltage regulator and it did a good job keeping the voltage at the proper level.  It also has surge suppressors but I imagine they are only MOV’s as there is not much room inside for any inductance coils and I didn’t see any coils.
     On April 1st I was in Frys to get something else that was  a good buy and I saw a whole pile of APC UPS’s on sale for only $29 and  no  rebate required.  The box said 450  volt  amperes  which sounds impressive until you divide by 1.8 and discover it is only 250  watts,  which is a bare minimum.  For $30 it was not  a  bad deal  except that the outside looked like a poor design and as  I have  said before their inside design has not been great  in  the past.   So I decided to look at a “no name” UPS also on sale  for the  same price.  It claimed to have 325 watts (585 va)  and  the outside design looked much better as all the outlets were  spaced far  enough  apart so you could plug in 6 power adapters  if  you wanted.   These are little transformers that supply low  voltages to  scanners, ethernet hub and sound systems, etc.  The  new  and better wall adapter ones are much lighter as they use a switching power  supply circuit so look for them at the swap meet.  If  the UPS claims are accurate this would be a much better deal than the APC UPS.  The label said the sale ended April 1st so I bought one right away to test.        It has the ideal 12 volt, 7.2 amp hour gel cell and calculations indicate what they say is accurate for a run time of 14  to 21  minutes if monitor and computer draw 60% or less of the  full power of 325 watts.  If their conversion were 100% efficient  the battery  would be putting out about 29 amps which is  reasonable.  It  is  hard to believe it could put out the full  power  of  585 watts  as that would mean about 50 amps from a 7.2 amp hour  battery.
     At the normal retail price of $60 I don’t think it is a good buy  but look around as some others may have it on sale.  If  you try  another brand run the numbers and be vary cautious  as  many look incapable of delivering the desired results.
3.   50  amperes instantly on CPU:  This topic is  a  little  bit technical so skip if it seems too deep.  The main message I  wish to  convey is that going for extreme speeds can demand an  expensive motherboard and power supply.  The newest motherboards  have a  tiny but fast capacitor right under the CPU chip.  But  it  is not  large enough to supply all the current for more than  a  few microseconds  so  one or more larger capacitors in  parallel  are added close by and are called “bulk” capacitors as they have more oomph.  Personally I think it is more cost effective not to be on  the cutting edge but look for slower CPU’s that have been around for awhile and cost less.
4.   LCD Monitors:  Recently I mentioned I have had good  results with  my 15 inch KDS LCD monitor but the April issue of PC  World rates  a  17 inch KDS near bottom of their list.   Since  Samsung makes many of the monitors for everyone perhaps KDS buys the ones that  don’t do as well on the production line.  Remember  to  use reviews only as a guideline and look at them in person with  text and  also  graphics  at different angles.  Remember  I  ought  a Samsung  with a TV Tuner and returned it to Best Buy because  the TV part was so bad.  If you want TV on your LCD it may be best to get a separate video tuner card and get the 17 inch Samsung ($649 list)  recommended in PC World.  The report says it is very  good with DVD but always try to see one in person.
5.  Buying a Computer:  Page 98 of PC World has an article on how to  buy  the best computer.  It has some useful  information  but realize  they  could be biased in favor of their  advertisers  so read with caution.  Unless you want to squeeze out the very best performance I would not get DDR Ram just yet but the Dr. Hanson Special does have 2 spare slots for DDR when the prices come down.  Unless you can get a 7200 rpm hard drive at a bargain price you won’t lose much by staying with the basic 5400 rpm but I am sure there are those who will disagree with me.  And don’t bother to jump to the new Serial ATA interface.  Rather than one big hard drive it is better to get two smaller drives such as two 40 to 60 gigabytes.
     Caution!!!!  Advanced Computer which has been so reliable before in supplying over 40 computers to various members and other friends of members has a new manager and is an unknown quantity.  If he is unwilling to put on Windows 98se for testing purposes it may be time to look for another vendor.  We need 98se on the machine as that proves they fired it up and everything works rather than giving members an unproven machine and having to bring it back one or more times as has happened.  We should not be their tester.  Please notify me if you have any problems dealing with them.
     In the past I have  recommended Albert Tom  of 1st Step Computers (626-284-7829) as an excellent second source at about the same price for the Dr. Hanson Special, but he is way up in San Gabriel which is a long drive for some members.  He is so accommodating he is willing to deliver computers to us.  I have bought at least three computers from him and he has proved to be very honest and dependable.  He will come to the meeting on 5 May to demonstrate the qualities of his computers and if there is time give a little presentation on what to look for in buying a computer and getting a good value.
6.  Useful Web Site, FAQ:  While searching for some woven cloth labels with Google I came across a web site having nothing to do with labels so I tried it.  In a nutshell it tells you how to fix almost anything electronic and has an excellent index.  Chapter 12 has many interesting things about batteries.  Check it out at written by Sam Goldwasser and dated May 1998.It even explains why you should not use WD-40 to clean up noisy volume controls even tho it seems to work great but after a few days it dissolves the carbon resistive laterial in the control. It is best to use a silicone designed for that purpose but that is my opinion.
7. Swap Meet Tour       .
Some members have never been to the TRW Ham Swap meet on the last Saturday of each month at the corner of Marine and Aviation.  The time is 7:00 to 11:30 am.  There are many benefits if you know how to look and bargain with the vendors.  Emmett Ingram gets the best deals of anyone and has taught me a lot on what to look for.  It is easy to buy things costing thousands of dollars for only a few dollars.  I go every time would be glad to show you the ropes but be sure to call me in advance so we know where to meet.  Many other members go and might be willing to let you tag along.  Just ask.  Jack Burton got a fantastic HP-4 Plus laser printer for a song.  Bob Rupkey and our president Doc Sexton are regulars who know how to find good deals.  A few of the vendors are unscrupulous so be sure to ask who they are as well as the best ones.  There are two battery vendors that are quite good.  When buying alkaline batteries remember that brand new AA cells are about 22 cents at Costco as a reference.  Check the date codes and almost never buy standard or heavy duty batteries.  Grace at the Southwest corner sells excellent alkaline D cells for only 50 cents each.  I personally try to standardize on AA cells because of the excellent value so try to buy things only if they use AA cells.  The new AA size flashlites are so good there is no need to buy the old D size flashlites.  Customers who don’t know how to buy batteries really pay thru the nose at regular stores.
8.  Pomona Tour:  This is another fascinating experience every member should try at least once.  Jim and I are the only members who go regularly.  I don’t know about Jim but you can go with me almost anytime.  It’s about once a month and is an all day affair as there is so much to see.  Fantastic buys on all sorts of computer related things if you know how to do it.  So far I have taken Emmett Ingram, Jack and Kay Burton and Jack Noble.
  Another useful place for good deals is the APC swap meet in Tustin but you need to go very early in order to find a place to park.  It’s on a Sunday at the end of every other month.  I don’t go regularly because of the erratic schedule and the parking but I have seen Doc Sexton and a few other members there.
9.  Large Monitors for Cheap:  Imagine a 21 inch for only $169 or a 17 inch for only $49.  These are name brand high quality computers like Silicon Graphics and Viewsonic, etc.  As more companies are switching to LCD monitors they are dumping these marvelous monitors.  If you have room on your desk they are excellent buys.  CRT monitors are better for people who need accurate colors such as our Photoshop enthusiasts.  They are also better who need fast action such as in movies or games.
     Jen Len Monitor, Inc. is one of the best sources but there are many other choices.  Just make sure the monitor is guaranteed for 3 months or more as it is possible that the monitors were used heavily and the color guns are weak.  If just one of the three color guns goes out you will see weird colors.  Jen Len is always at the Pomona computer show but she also sells at other locations.  Give her a call at 561-483-1194.  If in a hurry you can drive to her store at 14130 E. Firestone in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. 90607.  She also repairs monitors in case your favorite has problems.
    Another source is Rita, who is also at Pomona, but is also at the northeast corner of the TRW Ham swap meet.
10. Internet SIG Revival:  One of the best of our many terrific SIGs is the one that was run by Herman Krause.  Attendance was always quite high.  Unfortunately Herman became ill but now is stabilized and might be persuaded to start his SIG again.  I would suggest we really pitch in to help him with set up and take down.  In addition, we should relieve him of his tendency to have a prepared program.  Just having him answer our questions and demonstrate how to do things is all that is necessary for a great SIG.  With Herman’s SIG and Frank’s articles you can really learn how to get the best from the Internet.
11.  Word Star vs Word:  Most of you know most of my writing is in Word Star because I know it, it’s fast and a whole book can fit on a floppy.  On the other hand many things are much easier in Word such as changing font sizes, bolding and seeing right away almost how things will look when printed.  Most of my many computers are set to boot up in DOS and only go to Windows when I need it.  This way it is very fast to boot up, do what you need, print, and shut down.  Who needs Windows problems?  Somehow Jack Burton figured out how to make his Windows shut down quickly.  I was amazed.  There is still a place for DOS programs such as spreadsheets and databases.  Bob Hudak, the club librarian, is our resident DOS expert.
12.  Long Distance Good Deals: A recent TV ad touts 3 cents per  minute by dialing 1010-987.  It sounds great until you notice that they charge 39 cents per connect. At  that rate it would be 13 minutes minimum.  Statistics show that most calls last only about 3 minutes so you are wasting money with that plan.  A similar money wasting plan is the cleverly advertised one that gives you 20 minutes for only a dollar plus 5 cents  per minute fter that.  Even the local phone company is getting into the act of taking advantage of customers by chargine $49 per month for unlimited long distance.
   The best deal I have found is IDT which charges only $4 per month and that includes all of your phone lines.  Because my busness is world wide I have five lines but even with   one line it is the best deal.  I have had it for more than a year and so far they have tried no funny business.  Look for their ads on TV It is one of the few honest bargains on TV.  Be careful of offers from Pac Bell, now SBC.  They could change rates shortly after you start.
13.Rebate Deadline at Fry’s: As always you need to be very careful when you buy at Frys as many systems are set up to take advantage of the unwary.  For example:  They said they had run out of an 80gb hard drive on sale for $100 with a $30 rebate so I asked for a raincheck.  After about ten days I went back and they gave me a hard drive but at the cashier they wanted to give me a rebate of only $30.   Fortunately I had written down on the raincheck sheet that the rebate was $30 with a net cost of $70.  Then the supervisor gave me some mumbo jumbo about the $30 rebate was for the more expensive 120gb hard drive.  I kept insisting so he took me back to the components supervisor Assad who said that customers are advised that when they get rainchecks they may not get the rebate as it has expired and he has no control over that because it is done by the manufacturer.
     How can you protect yourself?  When you get a raincheck ask about the rebate expiration and tell them you won’t buy if it has expired or is near expiration.  The girl at the components desk may not know the details of the rebate expiration so be sure to write on the raincheck sheet the amount of the rebate and the net amount as these are conveniently left off the printout.  Also save the original full sheets of the ad and attach to your raincheck sheet.  Later when at the cashier asks to see the rebate slip you will then have the facts with you. Before you offer your credit card check the amount and the expiration date.  If you offer your credit card first and the rebate is not acceptable then you have to call for the supervisor to reverse the charges or the girl will say she can’t do it so you must go to the return line and waste a lot more time.  Never accept the fact that they will mail or fax the rebate slip as they won’t and if they do, it will probably be near or past the expiration date.  It’s to their advantage to forget to send it.  Soon I will write a nasty letter to Kingston Memoroy Products regarding their short rebate expirations.  You can get good deals at Frys but you must be very alert in order not to get taken.
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

This is 57th article in the “Internet Talk” series. It is part of the fourteenth newsletter with Kay Burton as editor.  Liz and I hope that these articles are helping you make better use of your computer and it’s connection to the Internet.
Liz and I visited the home of a friend in Carson: He bought a new Dell computer. Dell gave him six months of America Online’s dial-up service for free. His computer runs Windows XP Professional.  When he logged into Windows using his Windows user name and password, he was able to make a solid dial-up connection to the Internet, using AOL version 8.0.  However, when his wife, son, or daughter were logged into Windows with their respective Windows user names and passwords, any attempt to start AOL resulted in an error message box that stated that                              Welcome to the this 56th article in the “Internet Talk” series. It is part of the thirteenth newsletter with Kay Burton as editor.  Spring has sprung and Liz and I hope that you are enjoying it as much as your computer.“The Main.idx file is damaged.”
Afterward  they cancel/close the the error message, AOL would quit running instead of making a dial-up connection.
We phoned AOL’s tech support center and they recommended that we uninstall and then re-install AOL software.
We did so:
We used “Add/Remove Programs” (in the Windows “Control Panel”) to remove AOL software from the computer. We then reinstalled AOL using an AOL version 8 installation disk.
(Liz and I were hoping that one of the 20 that we received in the mail would come in handy one of these days !)
Now, when his wife, son, or daughter log into Windows and start AOL, they still get an error message. After they close this error message, AOL software then continues running and a successful dial-up connection occurs.
At least the AOL dial-up connection is now working for the wife, the son, and the daughter. While it is now longer a show-stopper for these nice folks, the remaining problem is still an annoyance so we will attempt to resolve it in future weeks.
Key3Media, the operator of Comdex (and other computer shows) has been successful in it’s financial reorganization efforts. They now have enough financing to emerge out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As a result, “Comdex Fall”  is now scheduled for November 15-20, 2003, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Liz and I hope to see you there.
For more information, go to
Did anyone notice that “Internet World Spring” did not make it to Los Angeles last month?  It has been held at the Los Angeles Convention Center during the month of April for about 9 years.  This year, it was renamed to “Internet World Essentials” and it was held at the San Jose Convention Center last month. This new location is unfortunate for us Southern Californians. Herman Krause and I will miss this fascinating  show.  If you are still determined to attend in future year, see
for details.
Last month, I reported that one of Liz Orban’s co-workers successfully installed his DSL connection in one evening, using a self-installation kit that was provided by Earthlink.
This month, I am pleased to report that this person was able to get his new Earthlink DSL connection interconnected to all of the computers at his residence by means of a Linksys Router/Gateway in one evening. He used phone assistance from Earthlink’s technical support center (800-719-4660).
Now we are doubly impressed.
You can learn about Earthlink DSL at
To stop telemarketing phone calls to your home, a national “Do-Not-Call” list is being created.  You can put your home and/or business phone on this list.  The information on how to do this is in an e-mail message that was originated by Bill Champlin, that Herman Krouse forwarded to many GSBUG members. In case you are not on Herman’s e-mail distribution list, here is what Bill stated:
<Start of quoted e-mail message:>
From: “BG” <>
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 11:36 AM
Subject: Fw: National do-not-call list
Starting March 31, Californians can pre-register their home and cellular phone numbers on the national do-not-call list to block unwanted telemarketing phone calls. California will become part of the Federal Trade Commission’s national list, which is set to begin July 1.  Telemarketers must purchase the lists by Sept.1, and consumers should start to see a dramatic decrease in unwanted calls by Oct. 1. To pre-register for the national do-not-call list visit the stateattorney general’s Website at:
<End of quoted e-mail message:>
Liz and I continue to hear tales of woe about hard drive failures. Like death and taxes, sooner or later, the hard drive(s) of your computer will fail. When it does, will it contain the your only copy of your completed income tax forms  and your personal financial data for the past 10 years?  We hope not. In order to prevent such catastrophes from causing you such irreparable data losses, you need to have a backup strategy.  Important data files such as:
*.tax files (Turbotax files)
*.qdf files, *.qel files, *.qph files, *.qsd files (Quicken files)
*.pst files (Microsoft Outlook personal folder files)
need to be periodically stored somewhere other than only on the main hard disk drive of your personal computer.
On a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, important data files need to be copied or backed up from your main hard disk drive to some other location.
Many computer owners use backup software such as “Microsoft Windows Backup”. This application was developed for Microsoft by Veritas Software Corporation.  To start “Microsoft Windows Backup”:
Click on the Start button.
Click on Programs.
Click on Accessories.
Click on Backup.
Other folks use a batch file. Batch files work just fine in all versions of Windows.  For example, here is a batch file that would copy various important data files to a Zip disk that has the drive designation of E:
rem   NAME OF FILE IS backup_key_data1.bat
COPY   C:\TAX99\*.TAX    E:\TAX\
COPY   C:\TAX00\*.TAX    E:\TAX\
COPY   C:\TAX01\*.TAX    E:\TAX\
The above sample batch file does the following:
Copy all Turbotax data files for 1999 through 2002 to “TAX” folder of the E: drive.
Copy all Quicken database files to the “QUICKEN” folder of the E: drive.
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
Or sell your computer and take up fishing instead !!



Let me continue the story about the floppy drive not working in the club desktop computer. Reread last month’s article if you do not  remember. I came up with two controller cards to try. Both fit in the old ISA slots. This old computer has three of them so no problem. I selected no 3 1/2" drive in CMOS in order to turn off the on board  controller and then plugged in one of the cards and then the other with  luck.No matter what I did, I could not get the computer to recognize the floppy drive. Sometime when working a problem like this that you do not do often you get  tunnel vision and  keeping making the same mistake. It is great to belong to our club which has such a large knowledge base in it’s members to draw upon. I gave Frank Chao a call and explained the problem. He took a look at CMOS and told me that the first screen is only a summary of what the settings are. That is why turning off the floppy here did not do the trick. We went to the screen that has serial port, printer ports and floppy drive on and off switches. Turned off the floppy drive on the mother board and everything was working the way it should. I took it home and plugged in the second card to see if it would work. The floppy drive was able to read and write but the printer port was messed up and so was COM 1. Interrupt problems. This card had jumpers and 4 switches to set. I did not have any information on how to set it so removed it and replaced the first card which  seemed to be plug and play. Happy day. So what is new in the Library. PrintKey 2000 which is a upgrade of the program I had in the library for a long time. PrintKey is an excellent add-on.  It is activated when you press the PrintScreen Key which is in your tray and allows you to capture the entire screen or any portion of it.You can then make changes to the screen, capture and save in a variety of formats including .gif, .bmp, .jpeg, jjpg, .emf and .wmf.  You can also swap colors, convert to grayscale or black and white, change picture size and send to the printer all from this little freeware program. I tested it and it works fine.  For Windows 9x/Me/2000/XP. The second program is antispam program that a number of members have asked me about. There are any number of these programs out there but I read about this one in several articles and it  had some appeal. You run the program and it processes your email. It can tell if email is normal or probably spam. You get to  delete or bounceback/delete. This is a good feature because it refuses the email at the server and not on your system.  When it is bounced back to the sender it gives the impression that your email address is invalid and it will be  removed from their list. This sender is also added to a black list and you will no longer receive mail from this source. It also has a friends list that you can set up from your address book. I have a PDF file on the floppy with the program that shows you the program features and how to use them Screen shots and all. Give this a try it is freeware.

Review of Kim Komando’s 50 “Biggest Computer Mistakes”
By Bob Hudak, GSBUG
Kim Komando is known as the “Digital Goddess” She has a radio talk show that is heard on 400 or so stations. She is very popular. I was asked to review her self published “book” by way of a email request. I said OK and a short time the “book” arrived. It felt pretty thin in the package. I was thinking that it could not be too big because it was only covering “The 50 Biggest Computer Mistakes and how YOU can avoid them!” Well I opened the package and what do you know, the “book” is a book on a CD-ROM. I reread the email message to make sure it did not say the “book” was on a CD. So now to read this book I need a $1000.00worth of computer equipment and also have a Internet connection to take advantage of the links and Bonus Software that the “book” talks about.  As you can tell things started off on the wrong foot and I never got over it. I was thinking I could look the “book” over during commercials  on TV or while waiting for 2 hours at the DMV to be tested for driver license renewal. This was the first “book” I needed to OK a license agreement before I could look inside the “book”. The thing I liked best about this package that cost $19.95 is the 8"x 10" picture of Kim that comes in the folder. Looking into her green eyes I forget that I am upset. All so on the CD are 14 more picture of Kim in 4 BMP resolution each. Ready to use as desktop pictures on your monitor.  After reviewing all these pictures you really forget about the “book”.  So now to look at those 50 avoid   able mistakes. You have the choice of  leading them  using Adobe Acrobat Reader. (comes with the program) Printing them out (make your own book) or listen to Kim read them to you. (need a sound card) This is a easy choice. Lean back,  close your eyes and listen to Kim’s words of wisdom. The 50 mistakes are in four parts or sections. The first sections of tips have me a bit confused as they are tips you should read be fore you buy your first computer. Now how can you read these tips if you do not have a computer? “Do your homework before buy ing a computer”. Buying used. Not saving oxes. Not buying enough Ram. Get the idea? All of the “Biggest  Computer Mistakes” are for real beginners. I really did not come awaywith anything new to look out for. I have made most or all of the mistakes in the past. The program installs without a problem but you need the CD in the drive in order to use it. It comes with a money back guarantee. You can buy it at The Kim Komando Show’s home page,( Not in any book store. If you have a computer and a Internet connection and know how to buy on line, I’m not sure that you will get $20.00 worth of ideas on avoiding the 50 biggest computer mistakes. The pictures are great.



Microsoft Press ~ All User Group Members are entitled to 20% off all Microsoft Press books.  To receive your discount, place your orders by calling 1 800 MS PRESS. Give them the code “MCPC” to identify yourself as a User Group Member and receive 20% off!

Start-Up Applications Unplugged
It’s frustrating trying to edit the Windows start-up list because the filenames themselves tell you little about the program’s function. This free site lists thousands of common startup files along with full descriptions of what they do plus links back to the vendor’s web site.  Top stuff.

Surf Anonymously
There are a number of ways to surf anonymously but most techniques slow down your Internet connection dramatically. If you only occasionally want to be anonymous, you might like to use the free service available from this site. At their home page just type in the URL you want to surf to and away you go.  Naturally, they try to sell you their paid subscription service.

Hotkeycontrol XP is a free utility that allows you to define your own hotkeys so that a single key press can launch an application, insert commonly used text, change your volume, or just about anything else.  Hotkeycontrol works with all versions of Windows from 98 onwards, though some features will only work with Win2K or XP. (0.91KB)

Another Free Alternative to MS Office
Most folk are aware of StarOffice, the free alternative to MS office, but the EasyOffice Suite is also a genuine competitor. It offers excellent Office file format compatibility and has a raft of high quality component applications including a word processor, spreadsheet, database and presentation program. It even includes modules missing in MS Office such as an accounting program, bar coding, PDF creation and voice recognition. I tried it out over a week and came away with the view that many small offices and schools should seriously consider this product. A personal-use freeware version is available for download.  You’ll need to pay $39.95-$49.95 for commercial use. (68MB)

Free PC Maintenance Software
To keep the registries on my PCs in top running order I use the Fix-It utilities and Norton Utilities as well.  Both of these are commercial products so I was delighted when subscriber Robert McMahon suggested the freeware product; JV16 Power Tools. This offers a powerful set of registry maintenance tools, too powerful in fact for inexperienced users. However if you are technically savvy, go grab this free program now.