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Windsor PC Users Group Past Meetings


Meeting Archive -2003-

Nov. 20, 2003

Larry Ruston showed off some computer mods of his own. Not to be outdone by Mike Celotto's digital display and fancy lights, Larry is now the proud owner of a new case with dial gauges, lights that vary in colour throughout the spectrum and glow in the dark cables. 

The gauges are configurable to measure many different parameters on the computer. Maybe even fuel supply, oil pressure and and temperature. 

Mike Celotto explained to us the difficulty he had trying to get his HP printer to recognize that the cartridge had been refilled. Apparently a chip inside the catridge must be reset. It's a rather complicated proceedure that must be followed. 
This procedure is for the HP 56 Black and the HP 57 Colour cartridges.  Here it is. 

Also here are a couple of links for websites we discussed.

Bob Pajot

Oct. 16, 2003

Michael Celotto was our presenter this month and covered a few different subjects. He demonstrated his new case mod, a 4 line digital display which monitors various values on his machine such as email accounts and how many messages are waiting, space available on his drives, download speed, and length of time online and any of many other configurable items. 
This display mounts into 2 adjacent 5 1/4 slots and is easy to connect by plugging into a USB slot. It's available in different colours, (Mike's is blue of course). 

Mike connected his machine through a network connection to Bob Hedricks machine and then put on a demo of Real-VNC which could allow one user to make adjustments to another users computer over a network or even over the internet. This could be a real plus for you if you are the one who has to undo changed settings on a novice family member's machine on a regular basis. 

Michael also explained to us the procedure that he had to follow in order to get a refilled cartridge to recognize that it had been refilled. This was an HP cartridge and he needed to follow a very detailed order of covering electrical contacts and then firing up the printer, shutting it down, covering another connection, firing it up, and shutting it down. This process needed to be followed several times. 

Bob Pajot

Sept. 18, 2003

Once we got past the confusion about the last minute location change we had a great meeting. 

Nathan Trudell from Island Ink-Jet was on hand to give a presentation on refilling Ink Jet cartridges and Laser Toner cartridges.

Nathan explained that we can save considerable money by visiting his business at Devonshire Mall. He says that the  trick to successfully refilling cartridges, is to preserve the moisture in the cartridge when you notice that the ink is running out. He said that this can be done by placing the empty cartridge in a sealed margarine container with a folded paper towel moistened with water and attached to the side with a rubber band. At no time should the head be wiped as this can clog the extremely small holes where the ink comes out. 

He also told us that most brands have their own ink formula and that Island Ink-Jet has the correct formula for each brand. Nathan also verified what most of us have suspected about replacement cartridges, namely that they do not come completely filled, but rather hold about half their maximum capacity. 

So... how much will you save? His standard price for most cartridges, (the large Lexmark, HP, Cannon and Epson) are $18.95 with some smaller ones as low as $4.95. Same price for Black, Colour or Photo. Not bad considering that most new cartridges run about $40 to $50 or more, plus he refills them completely tests any that he has a printer for and guarantees the results. Just drop off the cartridge while you do your shopping and pick up in 1/2 hour. 

Sounds like a great deal to me. Plus!!! he dropped off some 10% off coupons for or members. (coupon also currently in The Windsor Star and Penny Saver) 

Thanks Nathan for a very informative meeting and putting up with all our questions. 

Please be careful about the mail you open, and keep your virus def's up to date. One of the latest problems is W32.Swen.A@mm which comes as a very official looking e-mail from MICROSOFT complete with links that work. The attachment that I received was supposed to be an all-inclusive patch for various Windows deficiencies. Below is a screen shot. Click Image for full size. The attachment was called install.exe 

Sooo.... Don't click on those attachment too quickly and remember that MICROSOFT doesn't send out updates (especially patches that are about 140K) 

We also discussed SPAM and how you can delete that stuff with even downloading it by visiting  www.web2mail.com and inputting your e-mail server data. 

Here's a tip to quickly get rid of gobs of wasted disk space. Delete those virus def download files once you've installed them. I do it manually so mine go into "My Download Files" , if you do the Live Update in Norton they will be here... 
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Symantec Shared\VirusDefs\20030919.008

Delete similarly named folders, but keep the latest one. 
If you've never cleaned them out, you might gain quite a bit of space.

June 19, 2003

Michael Celotto
Had Several Demo's
  1) POPfile, spam filtering software
  2) Mozilla Firebird, browser
  3) RealVNC (similar to Remote Desktop)
  providing we can get an Internet line going
  4) Silencer, modifies the hosts file to 
  block out ad's.

Note: These are all shareware/freeware. 
If you'd like a copy please bring a blank CD and Mike will give everyone copies of these programs.

May 15, 2003

We examined a few new tricks that the Spammers are using to allow their Spam to at least reach your computer and possibly verify that your e-mail address is genuine. 

One way to avoid reading Spam is to set up various filters on your e-mail program that attempt to route these annoyances directly to the garbage heap. This is usually done by either by searching for known Spam Domains, certain keywords in the Subject or Body of the email. 

Spammers are now using random spoofed Domain names, subjects, and no text but rather putting there message in an attached image file also with random filenames. This makes it difficult to filter out. 

Another trick they use is to display an image with a Height and Width of zero pixels or an image with a transparent background which leaves no trace once it has loded. This may allow them to increase the hits on a website somewhere or maybe even send a cookie. There may be some way for them in such a case to verify that your e-mail is in fact a good one. The jury is still out on this one! But they are using some interesting techniques. The battle against Spam goes on. 

Larry did some digging on the Internet about the XP "SERVICE PACK 1" that has reeked havoc with some machines. Namely, certain machine have slowed down to a crawl after installing a critical update that is supposed to plug a vulnerability in Windows. This hole could allow a hacker to delete any and all files on your computer (very scary) just by visiting a website. 

Read about it here

Click Here To View Tech TV Video

Another way to temporarily eliminate the problem is to rename a file on your machine. The filename is uplddrvinfo.htm just rename it to uplddrvinfo.old and you will side-step the vulnerability. 

Or.. download download and run the 30k XPdite program from Steve Gibson's site at GRC.com 

We featured Paint Shop Pro 7 at the meeting to demonstrate how photo editing can be done by anyone without having to spend huge amounts of time learning a difficult program and also spending huge amounts of cash. 

I did have a few problems getting it configured on Larry's machine the way I'm used to working with it but thanks to Mike Celotto and his keen eyes we were able to get over that hurdle. 

I demonstrated a few of the features that make PSP so nice to work with like the ability to very easily Crop, Adjust Lighting, Contrast, Sharpness, removing facial blemishes, redeye, reducing image size, scanning, browsing directories, adding text and so many other features you have to see it to believe it. It also comes with Animation Shop to handle animated images and changes that need to be done to animation. 

PSP 7 is an incredible program which I would recommend to anyone needing a full featured picture editor for a budget price. It runs about $75 U.S. and is a bargain when compared to most other programs. This is a program that you can sit with and use immediately. The help file is very easy to use and you quickly get help about a specific tool by touching the Pointer ? and clicking on a tool. 

Best Feature---->The Capture Feature is incredibly easy to use and could for some be worth the purchase.
Worst Feature ->  Although not bad, the text feature is not as good as some other programs I've seen. This is not a great drawback however. 

Bob Pajot

Apr. 17, 2003

Larry Ruston gave us a few tips on installing CD burners and also using them. Until fairly recently the installation strategy when installing say 2 hard drives and 2 CD ROM's or 1 CD Rom and 1 Burner was to connect both Hard Drives on the same cable and the 2 CD's on the other cable. The reasoning for this was to keep the two drives which transfer information at a much higher speed than CD's together so as not to slow down the transfer rate and keep the two relatively slower CD's on the other cable. 

However this strategy may need to be changed when using certain CD burning programs including Nero as they will not work properly if the Burner is not attached to the same hard drive cable as the Nero software is installed on. This will no doubt sacrifice some speed, but on the newer burners should not be much of a problem as they are able to burn at a much higher speed than they could a couple of years ago. 

Congratulations to Art Belanger who seems to have squashed his problem with both the Opaserv Virus and the other problem he's been complaining about for over a year with an infected Notepad.exe program. Although he has been scanning religiously with Norton, it had not solved his problem. He did some reading about the Opaserv Virus at www.pandasoftware.com and did an on-line scan which identified the Opaserv problem, did a repair and then identified a problem with the Qaz virus which had never been located by Norton for some unknown reason. This is a virus that attacks Notepad.exe and also creates a backdoor to your computer. He reports that so far all is well and he once again has a usable Notepad.exe. Art is highly recommending the Panda on-line scanner. 

Panda ActiveScan

Larry came across a dandy little piece of Freeware while searching for a Calendar program. Calculator2.zipwill install a very small program with big improvements over the Windows calculator. One of my biggest pet peeves about it is that you cannot keep it On-Top. This one does that plus so much more. You work with both the familiar looking button input area plus a notepad type area. You can create formulas, assign them to variables and even do logical operations with it. A great little program.

In serching for a Shareware Calendar I downloaded 4 different such programs from C-Net (Download.com). I only had time to test one of them at home, but I did install all 4 on Larry's machine at the meeting and gave them a quick test. ( better his than mine! chuckle! )

The one I tested at home was the smallest of the four. 3D Calendar is a desktop calendar that has a configurable event reminder, a moon phase tracker, and a holiday listing. The event reminder will alert you of important dates and times, and can be configured to repeat on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. 

New version 4.0 is able to acquire the current time from the Internet and set the computer's clock through SNTP protocol. It also includes the ability to generate calendar wallpapers for Windows Desktop and fixes some compatibility issues with Windows XP. 

This program is Shareware and can be tried out for 30 days and then registered for $15. 

Another one which we tried at the meeting was Speaking Calendar 6.6

Speaking Calendar is a desktop calendar that is displayed using skins. The calendar also uses Microsoft Agent characters to announce and speak the date and appointments to you. You may set as many appointments or alarms as you wish. You can also choose whether you want to confirm the message and whether the message should be repeated every hour, week, or month, or played only once. This version has many new additions and bug fixes. 

It has a little dog that does the talking to you and I suppose could get a bit annoying after a short while. Right Larry? Remember, it's his machine that has it. 

This is a 15-day trial. The full version is $15. 

The other two calendar programs can be downloaded here. 

IDEAL Calendar 4.0

Desktop Calendar 0.3b

Bob Pajot

Mar. 20, 2003

Election night did not result in any changes to the executive, with the exception that I now have a partner to help maintain the website. Michael Celotto has agreed to lend his expertise in giving our website a much needed facelift. Once there is something to look at, we will post a notice. 

Thanks Mike, the help will be appreciated. 


P.S. Check out Mike's Site

Larry started a discussion about the latest version of QuickTax saying that he has a lot of reservations about the program this year and that he was much more impressed with last year's version. 

Larry gave a demo of another Voice Recognition package. He showed how Dragon Naturally Speaking 5 (now Shipping Ver 7.) can be used to start other programs as well as using it to take dictation. In order to use the program, you first go into a Teach Mode and you read a certain amount of text that appears on the screen. As you do this the program takes a sampling of your voice and inflection. There are several different files that you can choose from and the more you read to it, the better the results should be. Larry seamed to have pretty good results after having read only one story to the program. Since you can create several different user profiles I also gave it a try one evening before the meeting. My results were not as good as Larry's, but the night I did the test there was a lot of background noise from a TV and an uncooperative Parrot that seemed to want to do the test himself, so my results were not too impressive. 

Although I would find it rather annoying to use such a program, it could be extremely beneficial to a user would was in some way unable to use a keyboard or mouse. 

We also discussed the importance of not only updating your virus detection software with the updates they provide but also about plugging the security holes they keep finding in both Windows and Internet Explorer. Security patches are provided at the Microsoft Site and should be taken advantage of. 

We also attempted a virus cleanup for a prospective new member of our group. One of the ladies I work with at the Star told me that she was having a problem with her machine and discovered that she had been infected with the Yaha Virus. She brought in the machine and we ran the Yaha Removal tool on it. She had over 300 files that had become infected with this virus and the Norton Tool was able to repair them and also make corrections in the registry. 

her machine also had other problems such as constantly changing her Home Page to a Geocities site instead of her normal Dell Homepage. I installed Ad Aware 6 onto her machine and we began a scan. There were well over 100 items discovered but time did not permit a complete cleaning of her system. In the days that followed she reported to me that she had found some 150 pieces of spyware on the machine which she was able to remove successfully. She reset her homepage and has not encountered any further problems. 

Bob Pajot

Feb. 20, 2003

Larry stumbled across a hardware bargain recently and showed it off to us. Namely a USB connected ATI TV Wonder Tuner. It's a great piece of hardware that will turn your system into a Colour TV for a mere $100. The reception is as good or better than a normal TV and has many features unavailable on a normal set such as Still Captures, TV Magazine, and even AVI and MPEG recording.

Note: The supplied software has glitches, and you need to download updated software which works very well.

Another new toy brought in by Larry was a Epson 1250 Scanner. This is also a USB connected device and it's claim to fame is that it has a special attachment for copying slides and negative. To do this it includes a special carrier that holds your negative or slide and also a light source that illuminates through the slide. 

He also tested out the OCR software that came with it and found that it worked quite well providing that you don't try working with a page that has text on both sides that may be read through, and most OCR software has problems recognizing both Italicized text and script-like text. 

I demonstrated the latest version of Ad-aware 6.0. There are many new features to this Spyware detector and is now a bit easier to use. The new updates now download at the touch of a button instead of having to run the stand-alone program Refupdate. Also, the log contains much more information about the processes that are currently running on your machine, and even gives more detailed information about the spyware that it encounters on your system.

A very useful new feature is that a quarantine file is created so that if you do delete spyware from your system and then a needed program ceases to work, by going to the quarantine file, you can restore back to the point before you deleted the spyware. This should get your program running again until you can investigate further. example (deleting cydoor used to cripple KaZaA)

Ad-aware is still available free, but if you wish, you can obtain Ad-aware Pro or Ad-aware Professional with many more features including Pop-Up Blockers and more.

Download Ad-Aware 6.0 Standard Edition

Bob Pajot

Jan. 16, 2003

Bob Hedrick tried out some different CD burning software and was able to burn a cd across a network.