NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2009
The Deals Column
by Bob Click, The Dealsguy
bobclick@bellsouth.net (click to email author)

Problems Never Cease
A while back, I mentioned my lightning strike and replacing my damaged router with a new one by D-Link. Iím told that D-Link has many glowing reviews, but my experience has been just the opposite. It stops working whenever it feels like it and if I switch the Ethernet cable from the router directly into the modem without rebooting either the modem or the computer, the computer accesses the Internet OK, and faster than it did before. When I get the router running again, my network connected printer no longer prints and I have to get Ricohís help to reconfigure the IP addresses so my printer works. The Ricoh techs have been great. Iíve tried reconfiguring the printer using the printerís manual, but have not mastered working with IP addresses so far. The D-Link router tech support also leaves a lot to be desired; in fact, they sometimes brush you off whether they get the router working or not, and theyíre sometimes hard to understand. Once they advised me to upgrade the firmware and quickly got rid of me. Updating the firmware didnít help.

Last week that router quit working twice and I decided Iíd had enough of that piece of junk, so I bought another router on sale, but this one is a Netgear, as was my last one, which worked great for a couple of years, until the lightning strike. The Netgear has a disk to help set it up (so did the D-Link) and this Netgear is working fine, but my printer again had to be reconfigured. Iíll see if D-Link will let me return the router for them to check, but at this point, it doesnít matter to me. Iíve had enough of D-Link.

Gotta Keep Those Costs Down
How many people do you know who have been let go by their employer lately, even though they might have been with them for years and have an excellent attendance and work record? Lately, I know quite a few of those people. They go to work one day only to be told that a cut is being made, and it is them. Usually the employee has likely been with the company the longest. I believe thatís the corporate way of keeping the bonus up by getting rid of employees who are paid the most. Disregard the knowledge, dependability, and experience they have for taking good care of customers. All those years of being a responsible and prudent employee meant nothing. Most of the ones I know had to immediately collect their personal items and were escorted off the property like some kind of criminal, which doesnít make them feel very good. An older person has a difficult task finding a job, unless you get lucky, and older can mean over 35 these days.

Time To Help Pay Back The Stimulus Loans
Iím sure there will be several articles soon about doing your income tax return free, but Iíll add my two cents worth on that topic now. There are several ways to do your income tax at no cost, but my favorite is ďTax Act,Ē http://www.taxact.com which has a free version and a pay version. The free version does your tax return just fine, except that it pesters you frequently about the advantages of their pay version. I used the free version the first year I tried it and it did what I needed just fine. I had already taken my data to a free preparation service and just wanted to compare the results. Tax Act actually found a mistake in the one I just had done for free.

The following year I decided to use the deluxe version (right now they are offering it to me for $12.95) because that one brings forward all of the information from your previous yearís return, saving a lot of typing and possible errors. I also called their tech support a couple years ago for help with my ďgreenĒ credits and had good response with it.

Also, donít forget AARPís free tax help for seniors. We really need to pay our taxes so we can repay the Chinese and keep them from repossessing the USA for nonpayment of our loan. I doubt I could learn to speak Chinese.

This One Can Improve Your Photos
AMS Software announced the release of Home Photo Studio, a new program for photo editing, creating original greeting cards, and decorating ordinary pictures. It offers plenty of frames, tools, masks, filters, and effects (such as 3D and plastic effects). The number of effects may be confusing at first, but it offers opportunities for making every photo special. Greeting card templates can be colorful, darkish, funny, or romantic, and will help the user create a proper greeting card for any occasion. Home Photo Studio offers all necessary functions for uncomplicated photo editing.

The most popular feature, besides greeting card templates, is probably Effects&Filters that allows adding natural phenomena (such as stars, clouds, rain, snow and lightning). You can also add noise and blur, stylize a picture (ancient photo effect, pencil drawing, lithograph, etc.), adjust brightness and saturation; and make complex combinations. The user can adjust the transparence of the effects and set the area to be processed (the top, bottom, center, borders, etc.). There are a variety of picture frames.

Home Photo Studio Deluxe edition costs a bit more than Standard Edition, but is rich with extra features. It is the right variant for those who want to create 3D compositions, get automatically created collages, use plastic effects, and import PNG/Photoshopô templates. Deluxe edition is also remarkable for itís over 100 professionally designed frames and greeting card templates.

Working with Home Photo Studio is usually trouble-free thanks to the intuitive interface. But if the user still faces a problem while mastering the program, the detailed Help system is ready to explain how to deal with it.

Features: (Some features are only in the Deluxe Edition)

- Support of more than 20 graphics formats;
- Convenient image explorer;
- Hundreds of filters, effects and masks;
- Fast photo enhancement and retouch;
- Creation of slideshows with smooth transition effects;
- Greeting card templates and picture frames;
- Automatic creation of collages and 3D compositions;
- Auto enhancement and red eye removal.

Home Photo Studio runs under Windows 2000/XP/Vista and 7. The Standard edition costs $39.00 USD and the Deluxe edition costs $59.00 USD. Hereís a special offer for user group members. Order the Standard Edition, and then write to . The message must include the order ID and the text "DealsGuy Special Offer." AMS Software will then ship the ďDeluxeĒ Edition with 100 extra templates and extended functions. Further product information, as well as its free trial version, is available at http://home-photo-studio.com/.

Download link: http://home-photo-studio.com/PhotoStudio.zip
Company website: http://ams-soft.com/
Some Popular Sites With Low Prices

Some of you probably know about these, but some may not. Here are some URLs for great deals that are popular with the local user group members, and something I check frequently. One is http://www.1saleaday.com/ where the sale is good for 24 hours only. The price might even be FREE with the only cost being the shipping. Iíve bought a few items there and some were fantastic deals while others were good, but the item wasnít quite as I expected.

Another very popular one is http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/ where the item is absolutely free by download for just 24 hours. Some of these free items are reputable ones that normally have a retail price and are rated good software. When itís free, I sometimes download it even though I have no use for it at the time, but I take the attitude that ďyou never know.Ē I think that men can change their minds too.

http://www.software-dod.com is another interesting site where you might find a bargain, but Iíve only found one I wanted so far, and Iím not sure I really needed it.

If you find something that interests you, I suggest you read it thoroughly because I had something I thought I wanted on 1saleaday, but ended up not getting what I thought I was ordering. Read the description over thoroughly to avoid that.

That's it for this month. Iíll soon have more new product announcements on my Web site that didnít offer discounts. 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 . Visit my Web site at http://www.dealsguy.com.

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