NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, March 2008
The Deals Column
by Bob (the Cheapskate)Click, The Dealsguy
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group
(click to email author)

Looking Back
Time sure passes quickly. I wrote my first DealsGuy column in November 1994 and have never missed a month since. I am not a journalist by trade, nor do I pretend to be one, but I am flattered that this column has stayed popular as long as it has. Editors sometimes forward complimentary comments from their members about the DealsGuy column. Two groups print only part of it in the newsletters they place around their community to attract new members, and readers must become a member to get the entire column. I am also grateful for the many friends I made over the years through the column. I have been offered places to stay just about anywhere in the US.

Years ago, I received a request from a professional journalist to be added to my e-mail list for the column, and I told him I was honored by the request from him. He told me something that I have thought about a few times since. He said I had blazed a trail with the syndication of my DealsGuy column to user groups and that others would probably follow. At that time, most articles written were from the editor and the groupís own members, mostly reviews, but some of the better ones were reprinted selectively in other newsletters. However, the DealsGuy column certainly has its hard-line critics. Some editors strongly dislike my column, and other editors feel I write too much about myself. In fact, Iím still reeling from one editorís strong comments at a conference. People sometimes request they be put on my e-mail list because their editor refuses to carry the DealsGuy column. A few editors only carry the product parts of the column because they say their members have no interest in my personal comments at the beginning, but I sometimes hear from UG members asking how to see the entire DealsGuy column.

In the early days of the column, it was not uncommon for user group people I met at conventions to ask how they could get into writing a monthly column as I was doing. I tried giving them tips, but how can a guy who began writing a column accidentally offer helpful tips when he himself doesnít really know what he is doing. Now days itís great to see so many authors writing interesting monthly columns that help provide a packed newsletter for any editor and there are many user groups with regular material from their own members. I guess that Iíll stick with it a while longer since nobody else wants this job.

Tax Tips
If you havenít done your 2007 income tax yet, donít forget about Tax Act http://www.2ndstorysoftware.com for computing your income tax for free, although I use the pay version because it brings forward information from last yearís tax return (if you used it last year) along with some comparison features. You can even e-file with the free version. If you would rather someone else did the work, check when and where the AARP volunteers are working to help seniors out. There are other free ways to do your taxes on the Government site.

Goodbye FedEx, Good Riddance
Remember my bad experience with FedEx delivery last month? They refused my claim saying that according to their log the packages were delivered to the address and thatís all they were required to do since no signature was requested. Actually, they could simply throw them out the window as they were driving by, throw them away if they were running late and enter ďdeliveredĒ in the log, or even just set them beside the road, as they would have had to do in our case, at 9:06 PM according to their log. When I was told it wouldnít be delivered after 8 PM, my son closed the driveway gate. They donít seem to have my conversation with the Phoenix office in their log, yet they called me back the next morning to offer a delivery time because the packages had been in the truck for two days. No packages were ever found at the address and their letter denying the claim says they hope they can count on my continued business. After another bad experience, not a chance!

They Claim To Simplify Launching
This is designed to replace the standard Quick Launch. The program emulates the standard features of Quick Launch while including lots of grouping and menu options, a many useful plug-ins and some skinning abilities. True Launch Bar helps clear your desktop working space by removing randomly placed shortcuts and organizing them in convenient groups and menus. True Launch Bar provides users with a brand-new functionality enabling ultra-fast access to any of your PC contents!

True Launch Bar stores shortcuts in the same folder as Windows Quick Launch. All the icons installed into Quick Launch are automatically installed for True Launch Bar. True Launch Bar can be docked into the taskbar; you can simply drag your shortcuts onto the toolbar or menu by pressing any of the mouse buttons. Right button dragging activates a Context menu, grouping links into popup menus. The Virtual Folders feature allows you to add any folder as a menu and control it through Windows Explorer-like context menus. It can be any folder on your disk or on a local network (Favorites, Programs, Recent, etc.), as well as file system folders such as My Computer, Control Panel, Printers, etc. Toolbar buttons will not only launch the applications, but also act like small applets. If you add a Media Control plug-in onto the True Launch Bar, the button will become a real control center of the media player with Stop, Play, Pause and volume adjusting options.

True Launch Bar runs under Windows 9x, NT, 2K, XP, 2003 and Windows Vista. 25% discount makes the cost $14.90 (USD) for a single-user license. Links to purchase with the discount are: Personal License (one person, one or more computers) ($14.90); http://www.regsoft.net/purchase.php3?productid=51538&pc=7L0L7 and Home license (one copy on multiple computers and multiple users) ($35); http://www.regsoft.net/purchase.php3?productid=53346&pc=7U0I4. Licensed customers are entitled to lifetime technical support and free updates. Additional information on True Launch Bar, as well as its fully functional evaluation version with a 30-day trial period is available from http://www.truelaunchbar.com.

Download link: 32-bit version: http://download.truelaunchbar.com/install/truelaunchbar42.exe (4,30MB)

64-bit version: http://download.truelaunchbar.com/install64/truelaunchbar64v42.msi (4,69MB)

Company website: http://www.tordex.com

E-mail: info@tordex.com

Another Free PDF Maker
Patrick Sullivan reads the DealsGuy column in The DataBus, a great newsletter from The Dayton Microcomputer Association Inc. http://www.dma.org, and he sent his favorite application for converting a file to PDF. He said a friend needed a free one and his search found PrimoPDF at http://www.primopdf.com/. He says its PDF file is not as small as Adobe Distiller creates, but he is well satisfied with it and has not found it to implant ads for itself. There is now a new release on their Web site, but he has not tried it because his version works fine.

This Product Offers Canned Replies
IT-Services Thomas Holz announces the release of version 1.0 of Textmodules for Software Support, a set of ready-to-use replies to quickly answer typical software-related questions by e-mails. The product is absolutely free and comes as an add-on to the new version of ReplyButler for Outlook. Enlarge the assortment of reply patterns and make your reply on the fly.

With a proper set of text modules, you can answer your e-mails quickly. In Textmodules for Software Support, youíll find 55 new text modules properly sorted into 18 folders. The modules include typical phrases, answers to common problems, questions for details and more. In addition, there are many reply patterns related to office work and journalism. It uses the correct name and gender in the addressing phrase by itself, securing against any typos in names.

You can get Textmodules for Software Support free of charge, as well as the trial version of ReplyButler for Outlook at http://www.replybutler.com/en/produkte/replybutler.php.

ReplyButler for Outlook runs under Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista and Outlook 2000/2002/2003/XP/2007, and costs 15.00 (EURO) for a single-user license. The company offers user group members 25% discount on the purchase of ReplyButler Business Edition. Licensed customers get the fully-functional version of the product, free technical support and free upgrades. Further information on ReplyButler for Outlook is available at our Web site. (DealsGuy note: I included this item for the free part of it, but was unable to get through using their e-mail address for information about using the discount on their business version. Try a contact from their Web site.)

Product page: http://replybutler.com/en/produkte/replybutler.php

Product download link: http://replybutler.com/download/getfile.php?file=ReplyButlerE_Freeware.exe

Free add-on link: http://replybutler.com/download/getfile.php?file=ReplyButler_TextLib_SoftwareSupport.exe

E-mail: presscontact@itsth.com

That's it for this month. Iíll have more new product announcements on my Web site (most not offering a discount). 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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