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Windsor PC Users Group Past Meetings


Meeting Archive -2004-

October 21, 2004

Apparently Larry drew the short straw and had to work afternoons this week so Mike Celotto started out the meeting this month. He gave us a demo of a great little piece of hardware that allows the use of one keyboard, one mouse, and one monitor to control two separate computers. This is not done to network the computers, but just uncluttered the desk and allows switching the control from one machine to the other with a couple of clicks on the Scroll Lock Key. 

All you do is plug you monitor, keyboard and mouse into the switch and then connect the supplied cables to each of the other two computers. There is no software to install and is ready to go as soon as plugged in. This is an ideal piece of hardware to have for our purposes as we usually have at least two computers at the meeting and eliminates switching the cables from one machine to another to use the projector. Cost is only about $30. 

Bob Hedrick had the misfortune of having a problem with his printer cartridge on his Lexmark which refused to print after a refilling, to make matters worse, his stand alone 10 year old fax machine bit the big one. Since the printer cartridge was over $65 he decided to go shopping. The result was an HP 5510 printer/scanner/fax/copier. He brought it in for a demo and tried out a couple of functions. It's a high resolution colour printer so he printed out a great picture of a classic red Corvette. The picture was of very high quality (2400 dpi) but took a lonnnnnng time to print at such a high resolution. He also scanned the same picture and printed it off at 200 dpi and that printed quite quickly. Due to a lack of a phone line we could not test the fax. 

This looks like a great value if you're looking for all the above functions and need an updated printer. The cost is about $200, and although it has a rather large footprint for a printer, remember that he eliminates the space needed for both the scanner and a fax machine. It takes up about the same space as a scanner is is about the same height as most newer printers. 

Bob Pajot

P.S. See also a summary of the September meeting below which I just put up

September 16, 2004

We had a little "show and tell" this month. As them group entered the meeting they were greeted by a little slide presentation of pictures I took on our family camping trip to Lake Superior Provincial park. What some of the members neglected to notice was that they were being procted onto the screen by the club projector, but it was not hooked up to a PC. The only thing hooked to the projector was a plastic item not much bigger than two CD case stacked atop each other. 

It was a piece of hardware that Larry had picked up at a Radio Shack Clearout sale. It's called TV PICSHARE PLUS     It turns your TV into a digital photo album! You can create digital photo albums on your TV–no PC required! Use the remote control to select fun backgrounds and shapes for your photos. You can also rotate, zoom, pan, delete, crop, enlarge/reduce your favourite images. Put your photos in any order you like so you can tell a story to friends and family. View your photos one at a time or watch an automatic slideshow of your entire album. Accepts memory cards from virtually any digital camera: CompactFlash, SmartMedia, SecureDigital, MultiMedia Card, Microdrive and Memory Stick. An on-screen menu system lets you select between English and French. Other uses include: turn your TV into a screen saver at a party, take images off the Internet and turn your TV into a digital photo frame, receive images from friends or family (by e-mail) and view them on your big-screen TV. PicShare Plus also functions as a multi-mode card reader for traditional storage applications. It comes with an AC adapter. You supply a USB to USB cord to connect to your PC. At $29.99 it's great even if you only ever use it as card reader. The original price was $129.99 so I'm sure they never sold well at that price. 

Model # 261-9665

Bob Pajot

June 17, 2004

Hmm! It's a bit of a blur now. I do remember that Mike Celotto gave a great demo on Wild Water Rides which looks like a real hoot to play with. He even lent me a new backup copy to store for him for safekeeping. And he can be assured that I won't break any Copyrights with it cuz it won't run on my machine (DAMN!)

Bob Pajot

May 20, 2004

Larry brought in a great Photo manipulation program for us to view.
Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 is a very easy to use Photo Album program that has some very unique features which makes this program a great one to have. You can download the starter version here. Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0
The full version cost $49.99 U.S.
Check out these great features. Thanks for a great demo Larry

Organize and find
Get photos with one click
Get photos from your digital camera with a single click, and easily grab photos from CDs, your scanner, or your computer.

See all of your photos
Access your entire collection of photos — even your video and audio clips — in one place, no matter where they're stored.

Find photos by date
Quickly locate any photo by the date it was taken using the sliding timeline (very unique and quick) or Calendar View, which lets you see your pictures by day, month, week, or year.

Use revolutionary keyword tags
Create visual keyword tags to quickly categorize your photos by the people, places, and events in them. (Drag and drop the tags on as many pics as you want and pictures can have multiple tags) Search using one or more tags to instantly find the photos you want.

Fix basic flaws

Improve photos with one click
Automatically fix basic photo problems with a single click, or use intuitive tools that make it easy to remove red eye, adjust brightness, and ensure your photos look their best. 

Crop photos
Zero in on the best part of a photo by cropping out the areas you don't want. 

Create and share

Have fun creating keepsakes
Create custom slide shows, cards and calendars, photo books, and more using templates that are easy to personalize with your own photos and words. 

Share photos with anyone
Send your favorite photos by e-mail or even to mobile phones, display them in 3D Web galleries, or view them on your TV or Palm OS® handheld. 

Print online or at home
Automatically upload photos to professional online services* to order prints, photo albums, and more. Or print at home using a variety of convenient picture packages. 

Share in universal Adobe PDF
Easily share photos and slide shows in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) so virtually anyone can view them with free Adobe Reader® software. 

* Online photo services vary worldwide.

Preserve your memories

Safeguard your memories
Protect your collection from computer crashes by backing up your photos, keyword tags, and creations in a few simple clicks. 

Archive on CD
Burn photos onto CD right from Photoshop Album — no other software is required! 

A few weeks ago Kim Komando feature a free Office Suite as her shareware pick of the week. I decided to check it out as my copy of Microsoft Word is the ancient Word 95 which will not open the newer version's files. I'm currently in the habit of loading them into Word Perfect and re-saving them as Word 95 files.

I decided to download OpenOffice 1.1 from www.OpenOffice.org. It's not exactly a quick download if you have dial-up so I did it during the night, (most of the night) or as Mike Celotto did while we had a brief conversion on the phone (about 3 minutes from cable) It's about 65 meg.

After instalation you have a complete Office Suite.  What's in the suite?

WRITER Is a powerful tool for creating professional documents, reports, newsletters, and brochures. You can easily integrate images and charts in documents, create everything from business letters to complete books with professional layouts, as well as create and publish Web content. 

CALC is a feature-packed spreadsheet which can turn boring numbers into eye-catching information. Calculate, analyse, and visually communicate your data quickly and easily. Use advanced spreadsheet functions and decision-making tools to perform sophisticated data analysis. Use built-in charting tools to generate impressive 2D and 3D charts. 

IMPRESS is the fastest, most powerful way to create effective multimedia presentations. Your presentations will truly stand out with special effects, animation and high-impact drawing tools. 

DRAW will produce everything from simple diagrams to dynamic 3D illustrations and special effects. 

The Database User Tools give you all the tools you need for day to day database work in a simple spreadsheet-like form. They support dBASE databases for simple applications, or any ODBC or JDBC compliant database for industrial strength database work.  I tested it by opening documents created in other well known programs like Word and Excel and the files came over very well. It also allows editing of HTML (web pages) files and seems to work extremely well. All toolbars are easily configurable to your liking and if you bring an image into say a text document, you can edit the image right from there.

A nice added feature is that you can export a file as a .PDF file. The Spreadsheet program works just like Excel and formulas seem to use the same entry format as Excel which is a real plus. Even complex workbooks were loaded perfectly with linked sheets working properly. One exception to this was that charts did not seem to come over with the same chart format. I'm not sure why at the moment but I will investigate this.

Although the program loads and saves may different file formats there does not appear to be a way to load Wordperfect files at the moment, there may be a plugin to come later.

Larry also did some testing using the presentation portion of the program and was able to properly play a file that was created using Power Point.

This really is a full featured Office Suite and is well worth having if your Word Processor is suffering from old age or if you don't feel like plunking down a few hundred bucks to upgrade. Runs from Windows 98, ME, 2000, NT and XP. There are also versions for  Linux2 ,   Sun Solaris and Mac OS X X11

Get It Here 65 Mb

Mike Celotto showed us a new toy, a thumb drive which makes transporting files a snap. Oh yeah!! he's installed more lights on his machine (blue of course) and also answered questions and gave a demo of Cd Burner XP which is also freeware. You can download that here 

Bob Pajot

Apr. 15, 2004

This was a very interesting meeting and consisted of three presentations.

Dorothy and Bert Boyle brought in a new piece of equipment that they had been having trouble getting up and running on their home system. They had purchased a Remote Weather Station that is both stand alone with an LCD base unit and also has a serial connection to a PC which allows data to be both viewed and accumulated. This data can then be used to create graphs and alarms can also be set. 

The data is collected from the outdoor anemometer, thermometer and rain gauge. They were apparently having trouble with the communication connection to their computer. After some frustration at the meeting and nearly packing it up, it came alive and started communicating with Larry's machine. It seems that when in is working as a wireless system that it updates only every 2 to 3 minutes and we just hadn't given it the required time. 

Here we see the outdoor weather vane which 
reads wind speed and direction

It's quite a system and we will no doubt receive further reports from the Boyles on it's future use. It is quite a pricey system, (over $400) but for someone who is interested in accumulating weather data, it should do this in a very effortless way. It was a great demo on how to use your computer as a communication device. 

Here is the computer display for both outdoor 
information and and indoor temperature

For more info click here. http://www.lacrossetechnology.com/

Larry also brought in a piece of equipment that connects to the serial port. It was an X-10 control which enables you to use your PC to control multiple electrical outlets in your home after setting each control to its own alpha numeric code. 

It consists of a main control unit that connect to the serial port of your PC to uploads information to it which in turn controls each individual outlets on and off, or control intensity of lamps in your home. There are several different modules available for the system including outdoor lighting and infrared detectors. You can program each control with multiple programs to turn on or off several times per day, week, or other period. A universal remote can also be used to activate separate units of the system. 

There is also a security system available which connects to door switches, infra red, siren, and will also dial a programed phone number and play a recorded message after it detects an intrusion. The cost of the system seems quite reasonable as basic packages are available and so are separate controls. 

For more info about the X-10 system, click here. http://www.smarthome.com/about_x10.html

Finaly, Mike Celotto put on a demo of a program called Tune Up System Control. 
This program works similarly to Norton System Works but includes a few features that are unavailable in the other. It can be downloaded and tried for 30 days. 

The program is a tune-up tool for your PC that analyses you system and makes recomendations on how to improve performance. Here's what it can do. 
    *  NEW! The 1-Click Maintenance cleans your computer right from your desktop with
         only one click
    * NEW! Solves up to 400% more problems in the registry
    * NEW! Now also defragments the registry of Windows 2000/XP
    * NEW! Allows you to customize the look of all windows under Windows XP
    * Allows you to customize your system to your needs
    * Frees your computer of speed and hard disk space hogs
    * Optimizes the performance of your PC
    * Accelerates your internet connection
    * Frees up system memory
    * Gives you advice about your hardware and software
    * Recovers accidentally deleted files

I especially like the section which will optimize your dial-up connection to match it to your modem. 
Mike used it to customize many of his ICONS to personalize his display. 

Bob Pajot

Mar. 18, 2004

Election night did not result in any changes to the executive, with the exception that  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. 

Larry mentioned that Symantec has been coming out with updates in some cases more than once per day and even during the weekends stay up-to-date 

Larry also showed off a little utility called  "eCleaner 2.01 " that will remove those annoying ">>" characters in forwarded e-mail. It also removes HTML codes from documents to turn it into a straight text document. If you'd like to try it for yourself, here is the link to download it. 

Also check out the whole website as they have a very large number of useful tips and downloads such as a Disk Boot Page so you can get a boot disk for your machine even you you can't find yours. (I knew I should have made one). CMOS Passwords used by manufacturers, Disk Utilities, a Trouble-shooter program and many more gems. 

Bob Hedrick brought in a couple of plastic prototype parts which were made using RPP (Rapid Parts Prototyping) He had an interesting simulation from Mastercam showing how one of these prototypes would be created using conventional methods of tool making with lathe machines driven by computers. Then he showed the same part created using a 3-D printer which uses a very fine (.007 inch) thread of plastic applied by a special type of printer to create a prototype part.

Larry has been experimenting with a Linux system that runs from a CD. It's called Knoppix and can be downloaded for free (you'll need DSL or Cable due to the size) You then burn a bootable CD and run from the CD. It comes with an amazing array of free software which is ready to go as soon as you start the computer and boot from the cd. It comes with Word Processors, Spreadsheets, Internet Browsers, Dialers, Music Players, and way too much else to mention. It configures itself to your hardware as it starts up. You can give it access to your had drives if you wish but it's not necessary. Files can be saved to your floppy drive. This is a very safe way to surf the internet as it would never be able to install a virus on your computer since you are running from a CD. It's also available on CD at a very nominal charge. 
You can download it here if you have High Speed Access. 

Another alternative to running your Linux system from CD would be to install a Linux system to a separate drive using a Hard Drive Tray which Pat Robinet featured a couple of years ago. This way you don't run the risk of of accidentally messing up your Windows OS. These trays are readily available and are reasonable priced. I've been using one myself since Pat's previous demo and are also great for doing Ghost Backups from one machine to another, 


Bob Pajot

February 19, 2004

We got so involved in the various topics discussed that we forgot to hold the elections. The'll be carried over until the next meeting. 

Larry mentioned that Microsoft has been coming out with patches several times a week lately and that he and others have been receiving e-mails supposedly from Microsoft to "run this patch" which is invariably a virus, worm, ot trojan. 
Note: These Emails look very official, with logos and even some links directly to Microsoft. 
I'd like to remind everyone that Microsoft Does Not send out patches in e-mails. They make them available at their Website only. Here's the link. 

Larry also showed off another video player alterative to Windows Media Player. 
It's called BS Player http://www.bsplayer.org
What is it ? 

BSPlayer is a Windows ® player that plays back all kinds of media files ( avi / mpg / asf / wmv / wav / mp3...) and specialises in video and divx playback. 

Main Features 

    * Display subtitles - Support custom subtitles position, color, font, transparency,... Supported formats: MicroDVD, Subviewer, SubRip 
    * Fully skinnable - Any shape, transparent skins... 
    * Resizable movie window 
    * Multilingual 
    * Drag & drop support 
    * Command line support 
    * Pan-scan and custom pan-scan option 
    * Custom aspect ratios 
    * Playlist support 
    * Resolution changing 
    * Frame capture 
    * AVI files with more than 2 audio streams supported (multilanguage) 
    * Support for OGM files, including more then 2 audio/video tracks, supports embeded subtitles/chapters 
    * External audio file supported 
    * S/PDIF output supported for AC3 files (with Intervideo audio decoder) 
    * INI files 
    * Remote control support - WinLIRC 
    * Bookmarks 
    * Simple equalizer (DirectX 8 required) 
    * Playback rate (1/2x, 1x, 2x) and custom 
    * and lots of other features not listed here, try it out. 

Larry also pointed us to a new Online Newsletter. 

Bob Hedrick showed off 2 pieces of software

Beyond Compare is a powerful time-saving utility for comparing files and folders on your Windows system. Use it to manage source code, keep folders in sync, compare program output, and validate copies of your data.  Beyond Compare can create a snapshot of a live directory structure, and compare it against the live copy at a later date. 

Beyond Compare helps you analyze differences in detail and carefully reconcile them.  It commands a wide range of file and text operations, as well as script commands for automating tasks. 

ReplaceEm  is essentially a text search-and-replace program. However, unlike the search-replace functionality of a standard text editor, ReplaceEm is designed to operate on multiple files at once. And you need not only perform one search-replace operation per file -- you can setup a list of operations to perform. If different groups of files need to have different operations performed on them, this is no problem either. You can also specify a backup file for each file processed just incase the replace operation didn’t do exactly what you wanted. 

ReplaceEm is 100% free, no strings attached! We ask that you bookmark our website www.fitsoftware.com  and think of us when you need quality software development work done. 
which is used for heavy duty search and replace. It can be used to do multiple replace in files or even folders and it makes backups for you on-the-fly. It works similar to X-Change which I demoed last year but this one is free and it's a Canadian product to boot. You can get it here. 

I also demoed 2 pieces of software. 
Last month I mentioned briefly that Spybot (adware removal program similar to Ad Aware) also includes a file shredder. In order to view the results of this shedding function, I required a method to view the area where the shredded files originally were on a disk so I downloaded a program called Runtime's DiskExplorer for FAT V2.25

This is a Windows based Disk Editor for FAT file systems (a version also available for NTFS) 
This powerful disk editor enables you to 
    * navigate through your drive by using browser-style back and forth arrows, by going directly to the partition table, boot record, FAT or root directory, by jumping to a certain sector etc., 
    * switch between several views, such as hex, text, directory, FAT, partition table and boot record view, 
    * search your drive for text, boot records, partition tables and sub directories,
    * investigate the volume' s boot record by looking at the volume information, 
    * edit your drive by using the direct read/write mode (not recommended) or the virtual write mode, 
    * view and recover even deleted files, 
    * create a virtual volume when your boot record is lost or corrupted, 
    * conduct your own data recovery by taking advantage of all these features. 

Free Updates: Licensed users are entitled to free lifetime updates. 
Price: $49 (30 day free evaluation period) 
System Requirements: Pentium processor, 8 MB RAM, Windows 95/98/ME, NT, 2000 or XP 
The following link is for Runtime's DiskExplorer for FAT V2.25
I demoed V2.18 and found a few refresh problems but otherwise it performed as stated. The Demo version allows only viewing functions and no editing functions. The full version contains all the functions listed above. 

Here's what we found...
I placed a 4 easily identifiable text files (Beatle Song Lyrics) on several floppy disks so that they could be located quickly by DiskExplorer. We viewed both the directory area of the disk which contains 2 references to the filename, the MS Dos name (8 characters in uppercase plus 3 for extension) and also the Windows Long Filename. Double clicking on either filename make the jump to the actual file data. 

I then deleted 2 of the filenames and then examined the disk again. Deleting a file only changes the first character of the filename and removes the link to the actual file data. The data is still there but the space is made available for future file writing and may or may not be used up at a later time. 

On a 2nd identical floppy I then did a Quick Format (erase) and examined this disk. This procedure also destroys the links to the file data, but also removes the filenames from the directory. It does NOT however remove any of the data from the actual file. The area occupied by this data would more than likely be replaced by new data sooner than if the files were deleted, as the operating system tends to follow the same order of filling up a disk. 

On a 3rd disk I used Spybot to shred the file. then examined the disk. In this instance the filename was handled as a deleted file by changing the first character of the MS DOS filename and destroying the links to the data but it also completely overwrites all data that was in the file. This a a much more secure method than just deleting a file with sensitive information although it does take longer than just a deletion. 

On a 4th disk I performed a Full Format and then checked the disk. This method completely re-writes the disk and would be the preferred method for a Floppy Disk however if you have sensitive files on a Hard Disk Spybot Shredder is a much better method to use and does a good job of eliminating your data. 
  To summarize...
Deleting a file is not a secure way to destroy data. 
Neither is Quick Format on a floppy 
For a floppy the safest way is to do a full format 
For files on a hard disk, if Formatting is not a vaible option then use a shredder like Spybot for a more secure option than just deleting. See you all next month. We'll try to remember to do the elections then. 

Bob Pajot

Jan. 15, 2004

Show and tell was the subject of the latest meeting. Larry's tenacity with Best Buy paid off for us as we are now the proud owners of an EPSON - PowerLite S1 Multimedia Projector.
View Stats Here

From now on there won't be any problems in viewing the computer demos, even from the back of the room. This new projector is really a fine piece of equipment which performs very nicely. We'll give it complete workout in future meetings. 

A few other Christmas aquisitions include the following.. 

Larry Ruston and Con Bach are each using  Dell Thumbdrives which are very similar to memory cards for digital cameras, but plug directly into a USB port on your machine. They look like the following photo which is not a Dell model. 

Michael Celotto has built up a new machine, with a 2 Gigahertz processor 512 meg of RAM and a 128 Gig hard drive which he got for $90. 

I received as a gift a new simulation game which I am enjoying Ages Of Empire II 

Fern Cote is the proud owner of a new pocket size 20 Gig USB Hard Drive. A very nice piece of equipement which comes as shown with a leather case instalation disk and it's own USB cable. This is a great device for doing complete system backups. Larry is drooling over this one. 
View Stats Here

We did get to a few other things after playing with the toys. Larry explined about a new little antivirus item for your toolbox. Stinger.exe is a "stand alone" program made available by Mc Afee which targets about 16 of the most currently distributed Viruses Trojans and Dialers which are likely to cripple a computer that has not been kept up-to-date as far as antivirus updates. It's fre, it's small (fits on a floppy) and it works. (Get It Here) 

Bob Hedrick showed off several Mars photos and passed around some "3 D" glasses to 
view the 3 D photos as he tried out ACD See program which is distributted with a few Digital Cameras. The photos are quite spectacular and can be view at. http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/home/

I also gave a short demo on the installation and use of Spybot, a spyware detector similar to 
Ad Aware but with several features that Ad Aware does not provide. Spybot follows a diffrent order for locating it's targets and reports them "on the fly" unlike Ad Aware which only reports at the end of the search which can take up to 20 minutes or more. Spybot also has a few extra reporting funtions such as which programs are lauched at startup and from where they originate. They also provide a File Shredder which not only deletes a file but also destroys it first so that it cannot be recovered. I will be studying this feature further and report at the next meeting. 

A few other things dicussed were...

JB Mail a great little e-mail program for managing your email. No bells or whistles but you download headers only and choose to view the mail or not. Mail can be deleted from the headers. A great life-saver if an email causes an error that prevents your regular program from downloading properly or if you need to delete large amounts of e-mail quickly. The basic version is free and tiny, only 554 KB for the install program. 
Get It Here

Abby Fine Reader an incredible OCR program  Can be downloaded here 
Diet-K  at http://www.dietk.com  allows you to :newter KaZaA  music dowload program 

Other websites mentioned either at this meeting or previous ones. 
This program let's you modify the windows startup programs/options.  It's completely free ware. 

Latest Computer related news 


Link for the Google web search Mike was telling us about in November 

Also, at the meeting Mike was talking about Fresh Devices software.  He was thinking maybe the club could sign up for the license as WPCUG and everyone from the group could just use the WPCUG link. The site URL is 
The Club Code is as follows for the 4 free programs at 

  1. Fresh Download - Download Manager 
User name: Wpcug 
Registration code: 2N2GA-X643-GG34-4N2Q 

 2. Fresh Diagnose - System Information and Benchmarks 
 User name: Wpcug 
Registration code: 6XCPA-D929-WS2A-2YAZ 

 3. Fresh UI - Tweaking Tool 
 User name: Wpcug 
Registration code: AQ3MA-G3A6-FQ43-6X9B 

 4. Fresh View - Multimedia Manager 
 User name: Wpcug 
Registration code: ix4r-5cj2x-664x 

Bob Pajot