NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2004
The Deals Column
by Bob Click, The Dealsguy
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group
(click to email author)

Last month I included a warning about people being burned by cell phones causing fires while they were refueling their vehicles. Ira Wilsker, who has a weekly radio show, and is on the APCUG BODA, quickly informed me that it was a hoax, so I sent out a retraction. While it may never have happened, I'm not so sure that it couldn't happen. Its true that mechanical relays and switches have long ago disappeared from such electronic devices, and even when it rings, it is done with electronic pulses, all completely sealed in the circuit.

On the other hand, antennas are often loose and I know a friend who had a battery explode (not near a gas pump). Not only that but how many of you have dropped your cell phones. That could crack a board, or a lead from a component, thereby causing a temporary contact that could possibly cause a spark. All this not to mention static electricity from your body (from your seat or otherwise) when you touched any electronic device, the vehicle, or the pump. Check this URL sent to me by Joseph de Leon, editor for PC Alamode [http://www.esdjournal.com/index.htm ]. For that reason, I believe you should not have any active electronic devices in your possession when refueling your vehicle. They have even talked about the possibility of grounding straps when refueling on the news recently. The above simply illustrates that however wild the scenario, an explosion is possible and you can't be too careful. Maybe the new hydrogen powered cars will be safer.

Fight Fire With Fire
I was surprised at the amount of feedback I received from my item about stopping the receipt of credit card solicitations. A lot of people already fight back in a variety of ways. Many just use the application and the envelope with return postage to write a nasty or informative message to the sender, such as please stop these &*%#& mailings, or "party deceased so don't send 'me' any more." Some get a bit sadistic such as wrapping a stone or brick and taping the postage paid envelope to it to send them. I liked those people's idea. However, I'll settle for simply calling 888-567-8688 to try stopping it since that is supposed to stop all the companies from sending them. You would have enjoyed the messages I received.

They're The Losers
Two vendors who promised deals have not delivered yet so I have put together a few things that I have in reserve. You'd think those vendors would love the chance to get this much exposure (about 60,000 readers) at NO expense, but that's the way it often turns out, and one vendor had little response from their last offer.

A Browser That Works Good
I've been meaning to write about Mozilla for a while, but never got around to it. However, it is becoming more popular and I see more and more written about Mozilla, in fact I even have a review for it on my Web page. It is not quite as full featured as the IE and Netscape, but it does some things those do not. Best of all, its free so what do you have to lose. It's also said to be faster since the code is lean and mean. It is skinable and it kills all those popups.

A few Web pages may not view as good, but I'm told there is a lot to like about Mozilla. Get it at [ http://www.cnet.com/software/0-3227884-8-20005816-2.html?tag=st.sw.3227884-8-20005816-1.arrow3227884-8-20005816-2 ] where there is also a review.

Wow --- Calls All Over For FREE
I read that you can make telephone calls all over the world via this Web site. [http://www.pulver.com/fwd/ ] Take a look and see if it will fit in with what you might be looking for. My thanks to Hewie Poplock of Central Florida Computer Society for writing about this one in "Hewie's favorites." I don't know anybody who has tried this one so you are on your own. I was also advised that you should read the offer thoroughly since it is not for everybody.

Affordable Legal Help
Last winter I wrote about the free tax help for AARP members at tax time and its almost tax time again. I was since reminded that AARP members have other benefits as well. An important one is in the form of legal help. For example, should you decide to move to another state, it is good advice to have a new "last will and testament" drafted that conforms to the new state's laws. That might normally cost you anywhere from $200 to $400, but getting an attorney through the AARP Legal Services Network (LSN) can save you money. I have no idea what all the services are that they cover, but check it out at [ http://www.aarp.org/lsn ] or call 1-800-424-3410. Remember this is for AARP members only.

What's In Your House?
Let's face it, if you had a serious fire and disastrous loss of personal items, can you sit down and list everything in your house for the insurance adjuster? I doubt you can. Many of us talk about making up a personal inventory, but just never get around to it, but in case you do take the time to do it, here is a great software called "My Stuff 1.5" for doing the job. It is available at [ http://www.contactplus.com/products/freestuff/mystuff.htm ] and its a freebie. The download is 4 MB. You can even see "page previews" there so you can get a good look at it. Even so, at no cost, just go ahead and download it and give it a try. No loss except your time if you don't like it. My thanks to Jerry Wonderly of Dayton Microcomputer Assoc. for finding this for their members. My brother-in-law had a disastrous fire in his home many years ago and was thinking of items for months afterwards, but it was too late because he had already settled. Do yourself a favor and get this done, but don't store the record in your own house. Guess why!

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 or freebies I have found or arranged, and my comments should not be interpreted to encourage, or discourage, the purchase of any products, no matter how enthused I might sound. Bob (The Cheapskate) Click [ Bobclick@mindspring.com ]. Visit my Web site at [http://www.dealsguy.com ] for past columns and many interesting articles I have taken from various users group newsletters.

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