The Bug Report

The only Bug that's good for your computer!
A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group
Volume 20 Number 12

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.  Why Learn DOS?
2.  Name brand quality going down
3.  Comdex Report
4.  $99 Digital Camera
5.  Ultra Tiny Computer
6.  Pocket Flash Memory
7.  PC Magazine at $10/year
8.  Adobe still most Generous:
9.  Many Generous Vendors at APCUG
10. $200 Laser Printer
11.  Narrow Bezel LCD Monitors
12.  Reviving a Dying Club
13.  Computer Security
14.  Tablet PC
15.  iBill Payment Service
16.  Forced to use a CDrom Disk?
 1. Why Learn DOS?   DOS is marvelous, powerful and simple.  Microsoft bought it from someone else and sold it for a fortune to IBM.  Disk Imaging programs like Drive Image and Ghost use it to make a complete image of a partition or entire hard drive.   When you get in trouble DOS can rescue you, so it is useful to at least learn a few commands such as DIR, CLR, CHKDSK, and ScanDisk.  Bob Hudak, the club’s librarian, is our resident expert on DOS as well as are Carl Warner and Rich Bulow.
2.  Name brand quality is going down:  A recent issue of PC Magazine tells about how the quality of major suppliers are going down.  If HP computer quality was never very good, imagine what going down in quality means to it’s customers.  I just saw an ad for an HP computer slightly more powerful than the Dr. Hanson Special, and for about the same price, but in small print it said it was refurbished, so be careful and avoid the biggies, because you will pay more, get less, and discover the non-standard parts when you need repairs.
3. Comdex Report:  Seven club members attended, beginning with the APCUG part which started Saturday noon and ended Wednesday with the National Christina breakfast and presentation.  President Dr. Gary Sexton was there with his crutch and he did better than expected with all the walking.  Other attendees were Virginia Pfiffner, Bill Champion, Shelley Miller, Kay Burton, Jack Burton and myself, John Hanson.
Comdex is getting smaller every year with many sections of both the South and North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Cemter curtained off.  Very unusual!  Many of  the biggies were not there or had special showings at their hotel.   In spite of being smaller there were lots  of  attendees from all over the world and so many people crowded into the small area  that  it was difficult to get around at times.   There  was hardly  anything  new except the tablet PC and narrow  bezel  LCD screen which will be discussed later.
4.  $99 Digital Camera:  It looks impressive from my first  look.  I have no idea about the quality of the optics but it looked fine on  the  1.6 inch LCD.  It also has an optical viewfinder  and  a place  for an SD or SM memory card besides the 7 mb  of  internal memory.   It sounds like the perfect camera that Bob Hudak  wants for Joyce Oliver to take pictures of new members.  It runs on two AA  cells and has a USB connection and cable.  It even has  flash and 4X digital zoom.  Optical zoom would have increased the cost.  Jack Noble would not like the two megapixels but I think it would be fine for what we want to accomplish.  The buttons and controls look well organized but the shutter button does not have a  half way  position  for locking the focussing and exposure.  It  is  a shame I didn’t have an SD or SM card in my pocket or I could have brought  the pictures I took in the store home and see  how  they looked on the computer screen.  The brand name is Concord and  it is available at Wall Mart now.
5.   Ultra  Tiny  Computer:  It is flat and  about  a  millimeter square  and  was folded in a thin cardboard tri-fold that  had a number of pills.  It is intended for keeping track of  when  patients in clinical trials take their pills but could  have many other  uses.   The  paper folder contains a flat  battery  and  a speaker  like the ones in greeting cards.  It beeps when you are supposed to take your pill and as you pop the pill out it  breaks a contact and records the time and date.  Later all that information  can be transferred to a larger computer by just laying  the paper on a special pad.  Amazing!  It was at the  Swedish  pavilion.
6.  Pocket Flash Memory:  Carl Warner was one of the first to get one of these about six months ago and now they were everywhere at Comdex  but still very expensive.  They are about the size  of  a lipstick cylinder but flat.  I saw many people buying them but I think a better value is the six in one card reader that slips  in  your  shirt pocket because now you can use whatever flash  memory is least expensive and the size to meet your needs.  I  described them  in  a recent issue and now they were  everywhere  and  only about  $20.   At the show the cost was about a dollar a  megabyte but  here  in Los Angeles you can get flash memory for  about  30 cents  a megabyte.  You are not likely to forget the 6 in  1  and put  it  in the washing machine as you are with  the  very  small ones.   For  some reason they don’t retain  their  contents  when dried out.
7.  PC Magazine at $10/year:  They must be hurting as the  parent company ZDnet just declared bankruptcy.  For several years I told you I had given up my subscription as their quality had gone down while PC World had gone up.  But now they are getting better so I will give them a try again and signed up for four years which  is required  for the $10 rate even tho I am risking that they  might fold.
8.   Adobe still most Generous:  Despite cutbacks and losing  one of their star salesmen, Louise Miller, her boss gave a  fantastic presentation  and  dinner  for all the  APCUG  members  and  gave everyone a copy of Elements 2.0 besides many other valuable gifts like  Photoshop 7.  Elements is almost as powerful  as  Photoshop and  lists for under $100 so is an excellent buy for  any  member interested in improving their pictures.
9.  Many Generous Vendors at APCUG:  Other wonderful vendors that sponsored  excellent  meals and  gave  interesting  presentations about  their  latest  products  were:   Microsoft,  Intel,   Jasc,  Handspring,  Creo  and National Cristina.   There  were  numerous  other  vendors  showing their wares at the Vendor Fair  and  many gave many valuable products for the drawings.
     Microsoft  showed off a number of products but the one  that appealed  the  most  to me was the Smart Display.   It’s  an  LCD screen  you can carry around and wirelessly connect to your  computer.   I was able to call up my web site from the dinner  table and  check e-mail, etc. but it is almost as expensive as a  whole natebook computer.  Microsoft gave us all a copy of their  latest Picture.  It  software and many other goodie  prizes  including  a pocket  Nomad MP3 player with a tiny 2 gb hard drive  capable  of 8,000 songs.  Intel showed off their newest chip running at 3 gc but capable of multi threading for programs like Photoshop  which could  use  it.  Unfortunately you will need a new  Bios  and  XP software  and maybe something else to take advantage of  it.   My advice  is to wait as most programs can’t take advantage  of  its benefits.  Jasc, the maker of the very powerful, inexpensive  and easy  to use Paint Shop Pro 7 gave us all a copy of  After  Shot, which  is an even easier foto editing program.   Handspring  gave  away some of their powerful Treo PDA’s.
10.  $200 Laser Printer:  For years I have avoided Samsung  products  but  their quality has improved  dramatically,  especially with  monitors and now with LCD monitors.  They are so good  that they  make them under a number of names for other vendors in  the same  way  that Canon makes the lasers for HP.   This  new  laser printer is 1200 dpi resolution at rated 17 pages per minute.   It is very small and has a regular paper tray underneath.  It  won’t be available until about March but if you need a laser right away you can get the 1450 at a computer show for about the same price.
11.   Narrow Bezel LCD Monitors:  Have you ever noticed how  much space  is  wasted on the sides of regular  LCD  monitors?   Stock brokers,  who like to have several monitors on  their desks,  must have  complained about the 2 to 3 inch bezels so now Samsung  has monitors  with  only about 3/4 inch bezel on the  sides.   Unfortunately they are more expensive as it is difficult to  terminate all the wires in such a tight space.  Coming soon will be plastic LCD  monitors  instead of glass.  After production builds  up  it should reduce the price of LCD monitors significantly.
12.    Reviving  a  Dying  Club:   The  Capitol  users  group   in Washington had 6,000 members and shrunk to about a thousand  when Henry  Burtonson  became its president.  He gave  us  a  terrific presentation  on  how  he  turned the  club  around  to  make  it profitable again in about three years.
13.   Computer Security:  After listening to  Charlie  Burtonson, another  fantastic  speaker on the dangers of the  Internet,  you might  be  afraid  to connect to  the  Internet.   Even  messages supposedly  coming  from  your friends  could  be  infected  with viruses  or  Trojan horses.  And almost  never  open  attachments  unless  you  are  sure.  Tell your friends to  put  whatever  they  might  attach right in with your e-mail so you can see  it  right away.   He  thinks  that the best protection is to  have  both  a software  and  hardware  firewall in addition  to  a  anti virus program that is updated weekly.  I suggest having a switch if you have  DSL  or Cable so that you can disconnect when you  are  not accessing the Internet.  Always on can be very dangerous.
14.  Tablet PC:  This is like a notebook computer but less powerful, gets hot and has no keyboard.  Why write on the screen  whena pad of paper is much easier and faster.  Even tho many  vendors were showing them at Comdex.  For the same price or less you can get a good notebook with a floppy drive and CD rom built in and of course a keyboard.  For some purposes I can see a need for about 250,000  of these if I could get someone to write  a  substantial software  program.    It  was surprising to see  so  many  people sitting on the floor in the halls of Comdex typing on their ultra modern  slim  notebooks.  Some day some kind official  of  Comdex will feel sorry for those forced to sit on the floor and  provide some  chairs.   At the very back of the South  Hall  someone dide  a number of those Styrofoam bead beanbags you  sit  on, which are quite comfortable.
15.   iBill Payment Service:  If you have been  hesitating  about selling  your products on the Internet because of the high  costs and  complications of Pay Pal or Verasign you should take a  look  at iBill.  There is no monthly fee and the transactions costs are very  reasonable.  It looks so attractive I think I will open  an account  to  make it easier for my customers  to  order  Tooties, especially in other countries.
16.   Forced  to  use a CD rom Disk?   Some  programs,  especially games,  require you to use your CDrom disk in the drive.  It’s  a real nuisance but probably used to try to prevent use in multiple computers.  Disney was one of the worst along with Broderbund.  I hated  looking for the disk when the kids wanted to play a  game.  You  can try to put it on your hard disk and install  from  there but  it  still  won’t work.  Now a new program has  come  to  our rescue  and it’s only $20.  It is called “Game Drive”  and  their  site is  You can use it for up to 23 virtual CD rom drives.  Less if you used up other drive letters besides A, B and C.  It even includes a well done 48 page book.   Another benefit  is that your games run much faster from the hard  drive.  I  will test it soon, write a review and send a copy to  Farstone in Irvine, California.

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

Allow me to begin the 52nd article in the “Internet Talk” series by wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.  Liz and I hope to see all of you in person at the annual Christmas party. This is the ninth newsletter that is being edited by Kay Burton and we greatly appreciate her successful efforts.
While  continuing their  totally  free version which is  still called “Yahoo! Mail”, Yahoo is now offering an enhanced, fee-based e-mail service that is  called “Yahoo! Mail Plus”. See  for details.
The  new fee-based service allows you to have more  storage space, a larger maximum message  size, more file attachments, POP access (via software such as Microsoft Outlook), POP forwarding, and allows you to block more addresses.
To  compare  the totally free version with the new fee-based options,  see
During a visit to the CompUSA in Redondo, I notice that all of the computers that they sell now have a 10/100Base-T network adapter AND an internal dial-up modem. Apparently, the manufacturers of computers want to make sure that their products are easy to connect to both broadband and dial-up Internet connections.
If you buy a computer and the descriptive literature that comes with it says that it is broadband-ready, cable-ready, or DSL-ready, it means one of two things: either the computer has a PCI or PC Card (a.k.a. PCMCIA) network adapter installed in it OR the computer has an network adapter that is integrated into it’s system board. If you have a cable modem or a DSL modem, you would connect your home network to this bundled network adapter, as part of your fast Internet setup.
However, if you make a dial-up connection to the Internet and you do not wish to network the computers in your home together, then you do not need the network adapter.  If you remove or disable the bundled network adapter, your computer will run 20 to 40 percent faster.
If your computer has a PCI or PC Card (a.k.a. PCMCIA) network adapter in it, and you do not need it, turn off your computer and remove it.  Then boot up your computer and go to the Network icon and/or your Device Manager and delete the network adapter.  After you reboot your computer again, you will find that you have a faster computer.
If your computer has a network adapter that is integrated into it’s system board (also known as a “motherboard”) and you do not need it for anything, you will have to run the BIOS configuration screens in order to disable it. Check your computer’s owners manual or the computer manufacturer’s Website for details on how to do this.
Also, one simple test of the speed of a computer is to configure Internet Explorer to load a “blank” page, then close Internet     Explorer.  Finally,  see how many seconds  that Internet Explorer takes to  start.  You can run this test before and after removing  or  disabling a network adapter.
Along the same line of thought, you should remove/disable all software and hardware that does not serve a known, useful function, in order to have the fastest possible computer.  Computer users tend to put software and hardware into their computers and they tend forget about these items. Any PCI or PC Card peripherals that you no longer need should be removed from your computer: Remove them physically. Then remove all software applications and drivers that are associated with them.  If you need help, the Greater South Bay PC Users Group has a great Daytime Hardware Special Interest Group where you can bring your computer in order to get help from geniuses such as Carl Warner and Rich Bulow. Or, if you feel like spending some big bucks, you can hire a CompUSA technician to go to your house to help you with your computer.  According to their Website, they charge about $325 for two hours. See  for details.
In many instances, a computer can become so bloated with software running in the background that some application programs will not run at all. In a recent case, the teenage son of a friend of mine stated that some high tech adventure game would not start in his Windows 98 Second Edition laptop computer.  In fact, he could not even install this computer game.  Whenever he tried to start the installation, an error message popped up and stated that the installation was being terminated because his computer did not have sufficient “resources”.  As a temporary measure, I taught him to press Control + Alt + Delete to bring up a Windows “Task List” and to use the “Task List” to close about five programs that he had running in the background inside his computer.  After he closed these five programs, his new game was able to install and, once installed, it then ran fine without any further problems.
However, he had to run Control + Alt + Delete to generate a Windows “Task List” five times every time that he booted up his computer, in order to stop the five programs that were running in the background in his computer, since the Windows Task List only allows you to stop one program before it closes.  As a slightly more efficient measure, I sent him a copy of “EndItAll2”which made it easier for him to shut down the five programs that I had taught him to shut down using Control + Alt + Delete.  You can download a free copy of EndItAll2 for yourself at,4149,2265,00.asp
Be sure to read the documentation in it’s “Help” function before using it on your computer. If you are trying to determine if you should use “EndItAll2” to shutdown a program that is running in your computer, you might be able to find advice at
I wish to thank our librarian Bob Hudak for telling me about “EndItAll2” about two years ago. It is my favorite utility program.  I get a lot of good ideas by letting him bend my ear.  He is not exactly shy about giving me advice about computers !
Unfortunately, “EndItAll2” must be activated each time you boot up your computer. It is not a permanent solution to getting the software fat out of your computer. The rigorous, long-term solution is to uninstall and permanently delete the software that you do not need. This long-term solution involves the most work and sometimes it is easier to start from “scratch” by formatting your hard drive, reloading the Windows operating system and then re-installing all of your software applications.  This  final solution is a great holiday project. Let me know what happens if you attempt it.
The informative presentation files of Ed Leckliter’s Hardware Information SIG are available at the GSBUG Website at
in Powerpoint and PDF formats.  These presentation files can be used either as a supplement to live attendance at the Hardware Information SIG or as an online way to participate in this SIG if you are unable to attend. I have learned a lot from these files. I plan to attend these SIGs in person after I retire from my day job someday !
If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by the following methods:
1. Send me e-mail at:
2. Send “snail” U.S. Postal Service mail to
Frank Chao  PO Box 6930
Torrance, CA 90504-0030.
Or sell your computer and take up fishing instead !!


By John Sullivan, GSBUG
 Ever open up your computer’s case and miss that warm, orange vacuum tube filament glow that you used to see in radios and tv sets? Well it seems a manufacturer named “AOpen” has just released a computer motherboard with a vacuum tube on it!
Apparently they feel that computer sound chips don’t have the same rich audio tonality of vacuum tubes, so now their AX4B-533 Tube motherboard comes complete with a vacuum tube!
(Go to: to read more about it.) However, if the tube ever burns out, don’t think you’re going to pop in one of your old 6J6 or 6SN7’s, PC World magazine reports that replacements forthe Sovtek brand 6922 Dual Triode tube will run between $10 to $15.


Complied by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group

There are unrelated things I pick up in e-mail that are terrific but not long enough for an article. Here are two of them.
Saving Paper? Ha!
I just bought a program (which I think is excellent) called “Cool Edit Pro” from Syntrillium ( which is audio editing and processing program.
The registration card has a box to check that has this amusing statement: “Yes! Please send me a hard-copy manual. (A complete manual is included on your CD. In the interest of paper conservation, Syntrillium ships hard-copy manuals only on demand.)”
So I can print it out (conserving their paper) or have them send me something that should have been in the box in the first place (conserving my paper, 225 pages for the manual plus 42 pages for the addendum). Since I paid $399 for the program, I think I’ll conserve my paper instead of theirs. —Stan Slonkosky
Listen Up and Take Heed!
I always tell people to unplug their PC when working on the insides. It’s something I never do. My unsolicited advice? Do it. All the time.
Here’s why: I added a sound card to my wife’s PC the other day. Easy enough, right? Then, while the system was up and running, I replaced the cover. I’ve done it that way since I started with PCs in 1983. This time it bit me on the butt. The case cover touched an add-in card and the systemboard fried. Better it should have happened to my PC, you know what I’m saying? -Steve Bass
Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World and runs the Pasadena IBM Users Group. He’s also a founding member of APCUG. Check his Home Office columns at and sign up for the Steve Bass online newsletter at §


One  of the questions I often have been asked on my weekly radio shows, and emails from readers of this column is, “What would be better (for me); a new laptop or a desktop computer?”
A  simple  review of the Sunday sale books from the major office supply and electronics stores clearly shows that there is an abundant supply of notebook computers available.   Standing in the security  lines at the major airports also shows the popularity  of notebook computers.
So, which one is better?  Desktop or notebook?  As I have consistently replied, “What are you going to use it for?”  If a computer is intended for home or office use, likely in one location for a period of time, a  desktop computer is more practical.  Usability  features, such as a full size keyboard, large  screen monitor,  and  readily  accessible  drives,  coupled with significantly lower prices for comparable machines, make the desktop the clear choice in this  scenario.  Another factor is longevity.  The average useful life of a desktop computer,  according to both personal experience and published reports,  is typically  four to  six years.  Desktop computers are also usually easy and relatively  inexpensive to upgrade or repair.  The  average  desktop computer becomes functionally obsolete long before it physically  fails.  Notebook computers, commonly called “laptops” by  many, have  some  very  strong advantages,  compared to desktop computers, as well as some very strong disadvantages.  The  obvious advantage of a notebook computer is portability.  At Golden Triangle PC Club meetings, when I would have to present, I would often have to drag my desktop from home to the meeting place; it was heavy, bulky, and easy to break.  Lugging around  the  computer,  monitor, keyboard, and mouse was a headache.  I was not the only one hauling a monster around.  For a while, I had a “lunchbox” computer that I used for my presentations.  It contained a  standard  sized PC motherboard, hard drive, floppy, and other internal parts, along with an  integral 7" monitor.  The keyboard snapped over the front of the  computer,  closing it.  While mine was a home built, noname  generic, it was the early lunchbox computers that gave Houston’s Compaq its early competitive edge.  While still large and heavy,  it was portable.  Today’s notebook computers are a far cry from my long-gone lunchbox.  They are a fraction of the size and weight of the old lunchbox machines,  but contrary to other  high-tech electronic  items, have  not dropped substantially in price.  Feature for feature, it is not rare for a notebook to be twice the price of a comparably equipped  desktop  computer.  The relatively small size, and light weight is what makes today’s notebook computer popular.  They  are  convenient portable, and can often run for a few hours on their internal battery, but those are about their only  major advantages.  For those who need portability, such as business persons who travel and need computing power, or people like me who frequently do presentations, a notebook  computer is a near necessity.  For those who want the power of a modern PC, in an even smaller and lighter package, the next generation of “Pocket PCs” is speculated  to do to the contemporary notebook the same thing that  the notebook did to the lunchbox; render them functionally obsolete.  Pocket PCs will be covered in a future column.
 The disadvantages of a notebook computer are many,  yet still they are a necessity to many users.  Other  than their relatively high  cost, notebook  computers are also typically fragile, difficult to repair, hard to upgrade (other than swap hard drives or add memory), and according to  widely  published tests, have a much shorter operational lifetime than do desktop computers.  Notebooks are also subject to easy loss or theft.  In a recent news article, citing a report from Safeware, an  insurance company that specifically insures computers for loss or damage, notebook computers have a far higher rate of loss.  In 2001, for example, Safeware states that an estimated 600,000 notebook computers were lost or stolen, up 53% from the year 2000.  A  large part of this increase is due to the rapid increase in sales of notebook computers.  Notebook  computers are also one of the most obvious items to steal (and stolen) at airport security checkpoints, due to their small size, high value, and obvious nature.  By comparison, while there is an estimated seven times as  many  desktop  computers in use than notebooks, only 15,000  desktops  were  reported stolen in 2001, according to Safeware.
 While  there are “ruggedized” notebook computers, such as Toshiba’s Toughbook series marketed to law enforcement, utility, and construction companies, the majority of notebooks are very easy to break, and expensive  to repair.  The notebook reviews published in the major computer magazines  often include a “drop  test” where an open notebook computer was gently pushed off a tabletop on to a carpeted floor, simulating a common falling accident.  Many  notebooks  suffered major  physical damage, with some models of major brands shattering to utter destruction.  In addition to  extraordinary  care in protecting from theft, notebook computers must also be transported in quality protective cases.  I have  seen people ruin a $2000 notebook  in a  $29  carry case, a false economy.  Screens are  especially sensitive to physical shock, can  easily crack, and cost several hundreds of dollars to replace.
Lacking a large  physical volume to circulate cooling air while turned on, notebook computers are more vulnerable to heat damage than desktops.  Often containing only tiny cooling fans, and using the notebook itself as a heat sink, overheating is the principle  cause of internal notebook  failure.  The more powerful the processor, the more prone  the notebook  is  to overheating, a well-documented problem.  I  have heard several anecdotal stories of fairly new notebooks failing  when left on overnight, due to over heating.  I recently replaced my oldest daughter’s notebook  due to that exact cause.  Published reports indicate that the average life  expectancy of a notebook computer is only about 18 months, before it is lost, stolen, accidentally broken,  overheated, or  worn out.  Notebooks, on average, have  only about a fourth of the longevity of a desktop.
 Desktop or notebook is a common decision to be made.  Weigh the advantages and risks before purchasing either.
By Ira Wilsker  - email


An easy and safe way to add and manage a new OS with System Commander 7 (?)
I have been debating for some time now how best to install the new Windows  XP Professional operating system on my computer. Reading  various  articles and technical newsletters can be a virtual adventure and  impress upon you the four most-important facts before jumping into the arena:
1. Read all instructions very carefully and follow them
2. Back up your system because extensive changes will be made to your hard disk
3.  Make a bootable  diskette for  your current OS. To create a new bootable floppy disk,  click on Start, Settings, Control Panel,  and  then  the Add/Remove Program’s icon. Now  click on the “startup Disk” tab at the top, and select Create Disk. You may be asked to insert the Windows OS CD. When you have a startup disk, it allows you to start your computer, run diagnostic programs, and fix many problems.
4. Clean up your machine’s hard drive by deleting  unnecessary  memory hogs and run Scan Disk  followed by  defragmentation.  Although the backup and boot diskette may never be necessary, they provide a safety net should you experience serious bugs or problems  that  overwrite critical areas on your hard disk.
 I was not  quite sure whether to add an additional hard drive on my machine and facilitating a clean install or simply to upgrade from my Windows 98 SE.    One  of our  club members (Bill Wolf) suggested the use of a helpful automatic preparation software package for adding operating systems. It’s called System Commander and widely recognized for quality and reliability.  You can find more information and other related operating  system management products on the company’s Web site at   The product can be directly purchased from VCOM for $69.95.
OK, I got their software and installed it on my  computer. I should have said “I was trying to  install it”. Seconds  into  that  process a window popped up and informed me: “System Commander has detected a disk manager program such as EZ-BIOS or Ontrack  installed on your system. These programs will not operate properly if System Commander is installed. The installation  will be  cancelled”.  So I checked  to  see if I had any of them but did not.
Obviously, something else was holding me  up. But what? The extensive (200+pages) user manual for version 7 might give me the answer.  Right?  Not exactly! In chapter 9 (Troubleshooting) or anywhere else nothing refers to my first problem.
Contacting Technical Support  was  my  next step. On page 195 of the manual you are encouraged to check the index to see if you can save yourself a phone call. Also mentioned is a troubleshooting assistance program called “SCIN” which allows you to press F1 or Alt-H in most places to get context sensitive help. Unfortunately, the program had not been installed as I mentioned above,  and I couldn’t take advantage of that lifeline. OK, let’s go to the Website <> and seek help.
I entered details about my problem,  sent it as an E-mail and was informed that a support technician  was  going  to respond  within 3  days, and often much  sooner. The answer came the following day!
It read:
“Dear Customer,
Downloading and installing v7.03 should solve that problem. This was an error that was corrected in v7.03.”
 Good. So I went back to the company Website and tried to locate version 7.03. Could not find it but instead discovered the System Commander 7 Maintenance Release page which indicates what you will need to update System Commander 7:
1. System Commander 7 installed on your computer
2.  System Commander 7 Serial  number
3. 2 blank formatted 1.44MB diskettes
4.  The Update file: sc703_us.exe
Download size: approximately  4.2 MB
“Holy Moses” I said, wouldn’t it be much easier to just let you download an update file? In my case, this wouldn’t have worked anyway because I was unable to install this software in the first place.
But wait, this is getting more complicated. Next you find instructions on how to obtain the System Commander 7 update:  Fill out and  submit  the  online Download  Request Form. You  will need your serial number to complete the form. (For  DOS users  only,  click on the DOS Version Download Request Form).  After you have successfully  completed the form, you will be able to download the update file  sc703_us.exe.  Note: While not critical, for Windows 9x/Me users, please  rename the file C:\SC\SC7.EXE to SC7OLD.EXE before running the update program. If you fail to do so, the older SC7.EXE utility program  will not be updated.
This last bulleted item really raised my eyebrows. If it is not critical,  why go through this whole process?  Well, since I am a fairly tolerant and understanding individual I filled out the online form to see where all this would lead me. My 56K modem had a good day and it took only 13  minutes for the download. And in order to follow all procedures, I sent another E-mail to the Support team to find out how to interpret the “Critical” designation referred to in the note.
The following answer arrived  on the next day:
“Dear Customer,
The reason it is not “Critical” is that you will probably not have to start over with the oldest file. Even if you do have to, the latest update will update the original file utility program when it is applied.”
The good person who wrote that message completely ignored my initial question of how to rename  that  important original file that still resided on the CD and not on my hard drive.
Obviously, another message had to be dispatched in which I stated that the techi person completely bypassed this problem and that I could not see how this response could help me. I then suggested that we cut this run-around game and they should send me a new CD that included the update and will allow me to install System Commander. This was Friday evening.
Here is the answer that came Monday morning:
“Dear Customer,
Here is the latest full copy. (See attached file: System Commander7.exe)”.   Hurrah, no more problem!  Think again.  Just as it happened originally with version 7.02, the installer quit a few seconds into the installation procedure and a similar  message appeared on my monitor screen:
“System Commander has detected the EZ-BIOS disk manager on your system. This program will not operate properly  if System Commander is installed. The installation will be cancelled”. Am I lucky or what?
     So, again I went back  to searching  my computer by entering “EZ-BIOS disk manager” into  the search box. 172 answers popped  up  but unfortunately none  included EZ-BIOS. I had copied the installation  message with Printkey 2000 and sent it  together  with  the entire  list of file names to the technical support team and repeated my request for help. Here is what I received the following day, which was Tuesday:
“Dear Customer,
You don’t say what version of SC7 you have. This is a false error message It should have been corrected by  the  v7.03  update. If you do not have  v7.03 installed, download it from our website. If you have  installed  it, let me know and we’ll continue working on this issue”.
I am beginning to  feel as if I am  writing the script for a cyber soap opera. BTW, what is a “false error message”? In my answer to the last  customer support message I mentioned that I have been very patient for one  week now, but would love to receive a solution to this software problem?
Let’s see what tomorrow’s mail might bring. Here comes the answer:
“Dear Customer,
It  means that we are detecting something in the  BIOS  that appears to be a drive overlay (such as EZDrive or EZBios), but as we discuss  this, we  find that you have never had a drive overlay installed. Therefore we are displaying an error message that is “false.” We are aware  of  this  issue.  We  don’t know at this point what is triggering this error message, in some cases it seems to be related to Western Digital hard drives, but that is not true in your case. The issue is in Engineering and they will have a solution and a new update soon. I’m sorry it is turning into such an inconvenience for you. The only  way I  can narrow down the possibilities is to have you try the latest update, v7.03, and gather as much information as  possible”.
OK, now I know at least where the  problem is located, namely in the engineering department for this software. But doesn’t the last sentence sound a bit ridiculous? They sent me that update and it does NOT work. I dispatched another E-mail for an explanation on the last part and when this update will be available for customers like me. Here is the answer:
“Dear Customer,
I  should have been more clear QA is narrowing  the cause(s) of this problem and Engineering is writing an update that will correct it/them. It was necessary to see if v7.03 will install or not. Several drive overlay issues were fixed in v7.03  and yours  may have been one of  them. We are being told about a month for the update”.
Doesn’t this sound as if I have been a guinea pig for this vendor? Well, I still want to finish this article and review the “working edition”,  and if everything goes well, the conclusion of this dramatic development  will appear in next month’ edition of our news magazine. Would have loved to install Windows XP by now but this has to wait for another month, I guess.
By  Guenter Schoett, Fallbrook CC  email
Guenther Schoett is the editor of the Fallbrook Commputer club as well as, I believe,  the Advertising Director.   If you use his article please send him an email to let him know.  Thanks