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

Hi gang,
I wasn't feeling good today and am going to see the doctor for a breathing problem, but I wanted to get this month's DealsGuy column out first just in case I'd have to go to the hospital. I'd hate to see it go to waste after all the work. It's not a great one, but better than nothing. Last time that problem was fluid around the heart and I hope that's not it again.

Bob Click
Our bank, Washington Mutual, was recently taken over by Chase via the FDIC. Our checking and a small savings account were with them, and a Home Equity Loan of just a few thousand. Although our original purpose for the HEL fell through, we had eventually borrowed a small amount for home improvements. We opened the HEL three years ago and have never been late or missed a payment. We usually pay a substantial amount on the principal as well as the monthly interest, but on a few occasions, we only paid the monthly interest, which you can do on a HEL. Shortly after Chase took over, we received a letter from them with two forms they wanted signed to enable them to get copies of our IRS returns for the last two years. They also demanded that we furnish them proof of our income.

I was appalled at the intensity of their demand and decided to ignore it; after all, our record is unblemished, and our FICO score is over 800 and we weren't asking for more money, so I didn't feel we were doing anything wrong' I expected to hear from them by phone, but instead, the next month brought a letter demanding we pay the loan off and there would be no financial penalty for early payment. I also ignored that one. I guess I could have paid it off, but paying money back to your savings does not always happen as planned, so I'm just continuing to pay on the loan, wondering what their next move will be. Am I some kind of criminal'

They then discontinued our credit line, which really doesn't matter to me. Now they're hitting us with extra fees for each payment, called 'back dating fees.' I've tried complaining to a couple of state agencies, but neither office has responded. My feeling is, beware of dealing with Chase. We're changing our checking to another bank, and since our utilities are automatically withdrawn, we're communicating with them to change bank accounts. The utilities tell me many of their customers are also complaining about Chase.

Interesting Reading
Everyone is interested in Flash Memory technology these days, but few end users really understand what it's all about. Information Week had an interesting article that explains some of how it works along with the shortcomings, and what the future might bring. This article might fill in some blanks, but it's written for IT people so read it carefully. Sorry for the long URL, but some readers dislike tinyurls. They tell me they want to know where they're going when they click a URL. http://www.informationweek.com/news/storage/systems/showArticle.jh tml?articleID=219501231&queryText=Howard%20Marks

Another interesting article in IW is about 'The Internet of Things'; keeping track of all kinds of things, using RFID tags, and other types of information tags. It covers different topics and problems not covered in the RFID article I gave you recently, and might give you something to think about. http://analytic s.informationweek.com/abstract/25/1343/Virtualization/monitoring-technology-crea tes-internet-of-things.html.

Oops, Nobody Home
In my November DealsGuy column, I wrote about an interesting 3D address book with a discount. Two of my readers have told me they tried to order it, but were unable to do so, or even get a response to e-mail. We both tried to contact the PR person that I coordinated it with, but to no avail. They don't seem to respond at all and I have no idea why. I have that problem a lot with vendors who send out announcements for a new product, but when that happens I don't usually use that item, but in this case, I had several communications with the person and she assured me everything would work fine. I guess those things happen, but I can't help but feel bad. I'm still trying to contact them.

Need To Uninstall Something?
Mike Ungerman http://musings-from-mike.blogspot.com (interesting site) of Central Florida Computer Society http://www.cfcs.org suggested Revo Uninstaller as his favorite product for program removals http://www.revouninstaller.com/revo_uninstaller_free_download.html. User Group members in Florida will remember Mike as the founder of the Florida Association of Computer User Groups (FACUG). He put his own money on the line in the hopes that FACUG would be a success that first year, and it has been a resounding success every since, with the help of many other people.

Here is an excerpt from the Revo Web site: 'Revo Uninstaller includes; Junk Files Cleaner, Windows Tools, Auto Run Manager, Browsers Cleaner, MS Office Cleaner, Windows Cleaner, Evidence Remover and Unrecoverable Delete tools! You can reach all these tools from the 'Tools' tool bar button of Revo Uninstaller.'

Another of Mike's recommendations
Belarc Advisor is a popular product for analyzing your system, but Mike suggests a similar program, SIW - System Information for Windows, that, in his opinion, presents the data in a more manageable format http://www.gtopala.com/. Check their Web site to find out about its many features and download the freeware version. This is an impressive program.

Be Warned About Those Nasty Web Sites
Hewie Poplock http://www.hewie.net of Central Florida Computer Society alerted his Windows SIG to this valuable utility, http://linkscanner.avg.com. Some of the nastiest malware could download unknowingly from innocent looking Web sites, so a timely warning might help. I recently mentioned Site Advisor from McAfee, and Site Hound from FireTrust to warn you about undesirable Web sites. They turn your browser red and warn you about possible malicious code. Also check out LinkScanner from AVG Technologies. They acquired this product a while back, which used to sell for $29.95 before they bought it, but now it's free. It works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7. It's also OK on either 32 bit or 64 bit systems. It's a plug-in for IE-6 or later and also works with Firefox.

Can't Make Up a Web Site For Your Business, Look Into This Announcement!
Talkbiznow will offer a free online storefront with the launch of Webstore, a service that enables businesses, start-ups and charities to create their own micro-Website promoting products on the Internet. 'A Webstore, which can be created for free within eight minutes, dramatically cuts the time and costs required to set up a well-designed business website, which often costs users between 10,000 ($16,000) and 20,000 ($32,000) to build.' The biggest use of the new service is expected to come from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) who are already turning to Talkbiznow in the current tough economic conditions as a low-cost and technologically efficient way to reach new markets, recruit staff and create partnerships.

Talkbiznow users can design their own Webstore and choose audio and video promotional tools to help ensure that each micro-website is tailor-made to meet their specific business brand. Each Webstore will have its own URL address, available to all Internet users. Visitors to a Webstore can pay for products and services via PayPal, the online payment system. The accessibility of Webstore reflects the philosophy of Martin Warner, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and co-founder of Talkbiznow, who is committed to offering services for free, empowering SMEs with the technological bandwidth to compete with large corporations.

Warner says: 'Webstore represents a unique, non-technical experience to market yourself. Talkbiznow members will be able to create their own storefront. Businesses, charities, events and personal profiles will all be reachable outside the network itself. A Webstore will effectively function as an online business card.' Webstore users choose between elegant off-the-shelf templates to define their product, service, event or brand; also advertise prices and describe their industry. Browsers will find each micro-website intuitively easy to navigate with a Webstore acting as a portal that lies between an advertisement and a business website. Users will be able to upload videos about themselves, or their business, from their smart phones and upload them to the page.'

Talkbiznow enables its users to network, promote, collaborate with each other, and do business online. Services include web conferencing, voice conferencing and file storage facilities. Users can also use the business social network as an online portal to market and advertise services to other users.

For further information on Webstore, call + 44 (0)20 7233 7578, or check the Talkbiznow URL at http://www.talkbiznow.com>.

That's it for this month. I'll have some more new product announcements on my Web site that didn't 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.

Click here to return to top