NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
The Deals Column, January 2002
by Bob Click, The DealsGuy, January 2002
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group

(click to email author)

Many of You Missed All The Fun
We made it again to Fall Comdex and the annual APCUG events. It was great to see those friends, including the vendors' users group coordinators. Louise Miller was not there, but Rye Livingston said she is enjoying some time off and may be back to Adobe eventually as a freelance contractor, but they still support users groups. Adobe sponsored a nice meal event with software for everyone as usual.

We were fortunate to be given a breakfast by Handspring, and a talk by the CEO, Donna Dubinski. She and her associate, Jeff Hawkins, are certainly a great success story, starting with the Palm Pilot, then Handspring. Jeff gave one of the Keynote speeches at Comdex. We were offered great discounts on some of their products.

Another highlight was the APCUG/Microsoft event. The meal was great and we enjoyed a talk by Microsoft CEO, Steve Balmer. Steve proved to be a "very" dynamic speaker and just seemed to be having a great time while he talked to us. After Steve's address, we were given a presentation on Windows XP, followed by humorist Bob Hirshfield, who kept us laughing long and loud. He had one of the funniest Power Point presentations in his routine, but you had to be a computer user to appreciate it.

We each received a copy of Windows XP Professional. During the Q & A, I submitted a question asking if MS might give user group members a discount on MSN service. Steve actually put that question in his pocket after commenting. Perhaps that's a good sign, and who better to ask. We also attended the Bill Gates keynote address on Sunday night, but frankly, I was more captivated by Steve Balmer's talk.

Naturally, everybody was waiting to see what the McKatz brothers, Richard and Matt, would do during their presentation of Quicken. They came out dressed as surgeons to operate on Dan Hansen, past president of APCUG, wheeled out on a gurney. They removed a keyboard, lots of silverware, etc., when they operated. Funny thing though, when Dan woke up and they took off the sheet, they had changed him to a scantily clad change girl. The skit was great. Pictures at [http://www.quickenug.com]

Adobe, McAfee and JASC sponsored other excellent meal events, and Borland co-sponsored a continental breakfast with Casady & Greene. There were also 18 non-meal sponsors at the vendor party, and lots of prizes. Attendance to the APCUG event was up this year with 377 attendees representing 140 users groups.

Comdex was much smaller this year, with nothing at the Sands, and attendance was down considerably. Many expressed disappointment saying there was nothing new at the show except for a few new PDA innovations and additional miniaturization in hand-held accessories. I still enjoyed it though and found a few items for the column.

Still Good
Aha-Soft's "ArtIcons Pro 3.0" is still good. Here is a link to register: [http://www.regsoft.net/purchase.php3?productid=41421&pc=6U47X]. Password is "PCGROUP." The Olson Software Web items are still good. Refer to last month's column for the three ways to order. The Delorme items are still good. Ordering may work on the Web site using the priority code 4041. [http://www.delorme.com].

Is It Sweet Software, Or Is It a Suite?
gobeProductive was a sponsor for the Las Vegas APCUG events and they have offered a deal for the column. Here is their description: "gobeProductive is an inexpensive, easy-to-use all-in-one program that lets you fly through all your tasks with a set of powerful, intuitive tools, on a single, elegantly simple desktop. gobeProductive integrates full-featured word processing, page design, spreadsheets, charts, illustration, photo retouching, even slide-show presentations with special-effect transitions. All-In-One gobeProductive reads documents from other major programs like Word and Excel. And it can write your documents back out into those formats so others can use your work. You can even save documents as PDF files that everyone can read or post right onto the Internet. All in one easy-to-use program, gobeProductive for Windows and Linux."

Sort of an Office Suite, I've heard many positive comments about it. I took advantage of the outstanding preproduction offer, but have not received it yet, so I can't speak from experience. They had a special for APCUG attendees and have bettered it just a bit. As for trying it out, you can get a trial version (temporarily) from the Web site [http://www.gobe.com] and a better description. The DealsGuy price is $74.95 just for the month of January. MSRP for gobeProductive is $124.95, still a good price. It will not be commercially boxed and will include shipping. To order, go to [http://www.gobe.com/dealsguy.html] which should be ready by Dec. 10, 01.

And how about this:
You are allowed to install gobeProductive on each Windows and Linux computer in your own residence. You are also allowed to install gobeProductive on your computer where you work. A certificate is included in the gobeProductive package explaining to your employer that this is allowed. It works on a 200 MHz computer and Windows 98 or better. Don't miss this one!

Make Digital DVD Recording Easy
I saw some easy software for DVD recording at Comdex. It will record CD as well as DVD. The guy took some digital video of us talking and then clicked a button in the program to quickly process and record it to a DVD recorder. Don't worry about which DVD format because this product is compatible with them all.

Mediostream's neoDVDstandard was developed specifically for the home camcorder user and is an innovative software solution that is incredibly simple and easy to use while offering key features, such as the ability to trim video, create titles, and generate menus. They say that with the appropriate system configuration, neoDVDstandard offers an innovative way for consumers to easily, and in real-time, capture, encode, edit, author and burn their home video on their recordable drives.

I liked what I saw and suggest checking the Web site to learn more about this software [http://www.mediostream.com]. They had an introductory offer of $99, but you get an even better deal with a special code given me. When you order and download it from their Web site, simply enter the discount code "COMDEX1" when you check out and you will receive 20% off. So for less than $80, you can turn your PC into a digital studio and burn your own DVDs onto a DVD or CD disc. If you prefer neoDVDstandard shipped, it is $109, minus 20% (about $87.20), plus S&H.

I haven't received my copy yet to personally try it out. Come to think of it, my camcorder is not digital. I considered getting a DVD burner at another vendor's booth at the show, but at $500, it was a bit pricey for me. You can record up to 15 minutes of DVD format on CD-R/RW, which can be viewed on a DVD or CD/R/RW. Your holiday movies can then be sent to family members who have CD-ROM format. Handy, huh!

Have Your PC Fixed Without Even Leaving The House
I imagine some have tried PC Pitstop, but PC Pinpoint says their service is better. If you are having a problem, PC Pinpoint will check out your machine thoroughly right over the Web, then offer solutions to what its diagnosis finds. For example, if you have a corrupted file in the OS, it will replace it. If there is something wrong with a driver, it will update it, and lots of other things. On the other hand, if it is a problem needing hardware replacement, they will offer step-by-step tutorials.

To analyze your PC, simply visit their Web site, click on the test button, and follow the instructions. For the problems it finds it offers a simple step-by-step solution to each one, a guide to fixing it yourself and an approximate cost for any repair parts. Or, instant support from their Web chats or toll-free number. It can be accessed in a pay-per-computer ASP model, or can be a server-based program wrapped in a corporate identity for internal use or external sale. In single-use mode via the Web, it's $14.95. A yearly subscription is only $49.95.

PC Pinpoint is available 24/7 and is said to be only a test service, meaning it does not save, store or view personal file data. They claim they can solve up to 65% of the problems. For more difficult problems, they offer step-by-step tutorials for do-it-yourselfers.

I was skeptical, but I liked the demonstration they gave me at Comdex. Sounds like they even diagnose your software programs. This is a special offer where you can get a "one week" subscription for $12.95 by going to [http://www.pcpinpoint.com] and on the subscription page, enter your e- mail address, then in the password box, enter "dealsguy," as word. One week should tell you a lot about the service. Get more information from their Web site.

That's it for this month. Meet me here again next month if your editor permits. This column is written to make user group members aware of special offers I have found or arranged, and my comments should not be interpreted to encourage, or discourage, the purchase of products, no matter how enthused I might sound. Bob (The Cheapskate) Click [http://www.dealsguy.com] for past columns. Also, I keep adding interesting articles (taken from user group newsletters) to my "Articles of Interest" page for viewing or downloading.

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