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

Getting My Money's Worth
I decided to give the free AARP tax service another try this year and again my experience was not as expected. They didn't exactly do as promised. After processing our income tax return they said someone would file it electronically in three days at no cost, my purpose for using them. However, three weeks later, it still hadn't been uploaded according to the IRS. When I went back to inquire, they would not give me a phone number for the person who uploads them, but promised to check on it. Later I was told it had been returned (no reason given), but they didn't know it for several days. They had uploaded it a second time two days before I inquired and I should check with the IRS again in two days. That evening I called the IRS again and sure enough, it had been received and I should expect to receive my refund eleven days later. I was relieved. (The refund has since arrived.) After giving it some thought, I decided that since this is the first year of e-filing for this group, they just need to get better organized. I'll give those hard working volunteers the benefit of the doubt.

Again this year, I used Tax Act software to do a comparison and found a difference, although the numbers were the same for my tax and refund. The tax loss carry over was much different. After talking to the AARP volunteer about the variation, I rechecked my entries and found I had made a duplicate entry (as it is in some of the 1099s) where it should have been zero, so I'm not perfect either. I am not all that pleased with Tax Act, but the price is right. Tax Act Deluxe ($9.95) would import the basic data from my last year's return to save a lot of retyping. I did not find the product very intuitive when I used it and was sometimes unsure if I was doing the right thing. In fact, I had to call their tech support just to find out how to reopen the file to work on it. Nothing I had tried would open it.

Lots Of Interest In Trade Shows
I was surprised at how much feedback I received about working trade shows. Many people are interested and wanted to know more. My wife and I have worked as licensed security guards in trade shows for over six years now (we keep it part time) and enjoy it immensely. We live in a hotbed of trade show activity. The best part is that we get paid while enjoying them. Other security work is available, but we mostly stick to trade shows. We don't get rich, but it helps improve our lifestyle while living on our pensions.

In February we were asked to work the World Of Concrete (WOC) show [ http://www.worldofconcrete.com ], one of our favorites. It is one of the largest shows to be held here and took the entire 1.1 million square ft. of the building's exhibit area as well as about a third of the parking area where many active displays were set up, and all their mega-demos were held. Actually, WOC was combined with the World of Masonry show a few years ago. Those demos included concrete pours and finishing, brick laying contests and decorative work on concrete slabs, among other things. An artist put a beautiful picture of a Mac truck tractor on a concrete slab using acrylics. I was told I could have it, but can you imagine trying to move an 8' x 10' concrete slab home? However, we did get to take home a pickup load of unused bricks that came in handy. There was not much about computers in this show, but it was fascinating to see all the laser electronics involved in finishing a concrete slab and getting it close to perfect. The art of finishing concrete has sure changed. I loved seeing the riding trowel machines working.

World Of Concrete is usually held in Las Vegas. They say it will never be here again because show management doesn't like it here. Not enough bars, according to our newspaper, and they don't like the building either. It was for the trade only and had over 60,000 attendees. With my family's background in the gravel quarry business, it was especially fun seeing all that large equipment, such as the concrete pumping trucks with their 210' unfolding booms arching over, and other equipment that was demonstrated. Our work was crowd control for the parking area mega-demos.

Also in February we worked one day of the International Call Center Management (ICCM) Show [ http://www.iccm.com ] at the Gaylord Palms Resort Hotel. Unfortunately I had to attend classes in Tampa so my time with ICCM was limited. My only work day at the ICCM was the setup day so I had little chance to talk to vendors. However it is plain that when you make a call for many business purposes, it just might be handled by a National Call Center that might then redirect it, without your knowledge, to wherever it must be handled. It might be redirected to anyplace on the globe or perhaps to an adjacent office.

This show had mostly smaller booths and I counted over fifty exhibitors in about 80,000 square feet of exhibit space. Only a few were names you might know. While much if it was about redirecting calls, there were other functions as well. This show had a keynote speaker and attendees could tour three on-site Call Centers in the area, one of which was the Sprint PCS offices. I was extremely busy during the day and when things slowed down that night, there were few vendors to talk to for information.

Next month, I'll have a small report about a show that you readers would "love" to be able to tour, a home automation show.

Still Good
The MediaFour deal is still good, but expires June 1st so you must be fast if you didn't take advantage of it. Check last months column for ordering info, but the phone is Phone 605-235-1991 suenail@cableone.net [ http://www.mediafour.com ]. Also, I believe Aladdin Software's special is for SpamCatcher is still good so check last month's column for ordering details. [ http://www.aladdinsys.com/store ] I was unable to get any new deals to come together for this month because of my work schedule and a bad cold.

Last Chance, But Act Now
I attended a user group meeting in Orlando where Gene Barlow was doing a presentation, accompanied by his most gratious wife, Linda. He announced to the group that his agreement with Power Quest, now owned by Symantec, expires May 1, 2004. That doesn't mean there won't be a new agreement (Gene is trying for a new contract), but the present pricing structure will go by the wayside. I suggest that if you are interested in any Power Quest products, you should not waste any time getting your order placed, as his inventory will go fast.

Here is a list of the Power Quest product lineup:

    Partition Magic V8 - MSRP, $70 - UG price, $39.00
    Discover Your HD, Educational CD - UG price, $19.00
    Drive Image V7 - MSRP, $70 - UG price, $39.00
    V2I Protector V2 - MSRP, $79 - UG price, $39.00
    Backing up Your HD (Educational CD) - UG price, $19.00

He also represents another company that produces SecureClean V4 and Wipe Drive V3. They make sure your deleted files are completely obliterated. They are $24.00 each or $39.00 bundled. Since these two are from a different company, I think these prices are good for a while. He demonstrated by doing a search for deleted files on his laptop and found some that had been deleted over a year ago, but had never been overwritten including old e-mail. Few realize that a deleted file could possibly still be found on your hard drive for even a few years without being overwritten by new data.

An attendee asked why she needed such a product when she is the only person using the computer. Gene suggested that you never know what might happen, such as a robbery. Then even your deleted data files are the property of the robber. Gene also offered other possibilities, such as no firewall, thus allowing intruders from the Internet. Another reason is if you want to discard your computer or hard drive. All prices are plus shipping. When ordering products, it's important you know which ones work with your operating system, and I am speaking from experience.

Order by accessing Gene's secure Web site at [ http://www.ugr.com/order ] using the code UGDEALS when ordering. These also make good gifts to family members with computers so don't delay for these prices.

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 some interesting articles.

Click here to return to top