Article, May 2005
The Deals Column
by Bob (the Cheapskate)Click, The Dealsguy
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group
email@example.com (click to email author)
Working the Shows
We worked the NSCA (National Systems Contractors Assn.) [http://www.nsca.org] show and I took a quick look around. It's a companion show to the Home Electronics Expo, but is about three times as large. Attendance was somewhat lower then expected at about 10,000. If you were interested in electronic installations in a digital home, this would be the show for you. All the famous speaker manufacturer names were there and plenty of other quality audio equipment. Also troubleshooting instruments, even to spectrum analyzers. There were plenty of booths with switching systems, cabling and whatever you need for such things, not to mention plenty of large screen monitors and TVs although I didn't see a prototype of the new 82" Samsung LCD screen.
Not as many end user products were shown as at the Home Electronics Expo. It had a large area featuring the Security/Life Safety Pavilion, which I didn't spend much time in (even though it had free beer and popcorn). There were digital signage booths and several booths showing master clock systems for large buildings. I have not even scratched the surface of it all, but it got exciting when a water sprinkler accidentally opened right over an expensive projector booth (Christy) and it was very close to the booth I was working that contained plenty of large screen TVs. It sure drowned the Christy booth, but they miraculously saved everything by working quickly to remove it.
Comp USA had a one-day conference at the Orange County Convention Center and user group people were invited. It turned out the CompUSA show was held in an exhibit hall adjacent to the Travel Goods show we were working and I got the chance to look around. I was surprised to see many booths with all kinds of names in computer paraphernalia. I spent a couple hours explaining what I do to vendors and asking about putting together a deal for exposure to about 60,000 readers who are all computer users; the usual begging thing. Many were interested and it was the best bonanza I had ever found in the ten years I have been doing this column and searching shows for leads. I felt I had enough leads sounding positive to last the column for a year or more. My shirt pocket was bulging with vendor personnel's business cards. I was also very surprised when I found the APCUG booth with Peggy Ireland, Suzy Ball and Caryl Hall working in it. It was great to see them again, although I had just seen them at the FACUG spring conference in Kissimmee.
Next morning my wife was up before I was and when I finally did get up, she sheepishly explained that she had washed my shirt without emptying the pockets. I can't explain the feeling I had when I saw all the business cards with many important leads that were turned to pulp in minutes, and almost nothing was salvageable. In the 39 years we have been married, we have never had a fight. It might have been possible then, but I was so devastated that I couldn't find the strength to be mad, just thoroughly disheartened. When we have mentioned the incident to friends, the wives tend to indignantly state that it is the husband's job to worry about emptying the pockets, not the wives'. I have found nobody in my court on that one except other men. Anyway, I am back to square one, but may have a couple of leads if vendors take the trouble to follow up without my calling them. There were very few brochures at that show to keep for info.
The Password Vault software for $15 is still good from Gene Barlow.
The Bundle Is Back
I received a message from Colleen Toumayan at Executive Software telling me that their bundle pricing is back. If you want to improve your disk defragging and undelete software, here is another chance to save some money on these great products. I have not tried the Home Versions, but their products I tried in the past were impressive. The bundle contains Diskeeper 9, Home Edition, and Undelete 5, Home Edition for $39.95. (Download only) To get it, the URL is [http://consumer.execsoft.com/purchase/purchase.asp?RId=50]. Executive Software is also an APCUG sponsor.
Put Your DVD Burner To Work
Here are two products that will help preserve your videotaped memories. They are "CameraMate VideoSafe" and "CameraMate Real Time Video" by Zio Corp. VideoSafe allows you to capture analog video/audio from any VCR or camcorder and burn it to a CD or DVD. The VideoSafe hardware has plugs for the video/S-video/audio cables on one end and a USB cable to connect to your computer on the other end. An included CD has the drivers and software. The MSRP for VideoSafe is $49.99 with a $10.00 rebate sticker on the package. VideoSafe is mostly for a direct conversion from your source to your burner, so if you want to do additional work with your video in the process, the product below is for you.
Real Time Video is also an adapter and software for capturing the video/audio from any VCR or camcorder for the purpose of burning to a CD or DVD. However, Real Time Video software also offers Autoedit Wizard, Autoedit Storyboard Wizard, Randomize Wizard and a DVD Burn Wizard. Software and drivers are included on a CD. Real Time Video's MSRP is $69.99, but I suggest you shop wherever you can get the best price, even at local stores, then apply for the rebate. The URL for downloading the rebate form is on the rebate sticker on the box. This rebate expires on April 30, 2005, but they will honor it for us until May 31, 2005. The adapter cables with RCA audio/video/VHS C jacks are not included, but are easy to obtain and many folks have them lying around.
They sent me the products to try, but I was up against my deadline and a friend gave it a quick try. He had a few minor problems, but after tweaking some settings in his Windows operating system, he said it worked fine. He had no problems with the installation. It works with Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP. However I didn't have time for some more extensive tests on his part. Video resolution is 720 x 480 for NTSC (the American TV standard). Their URL for more information is [http://www.easiestvideoever.com].
Announcement for Active Screen Lock (Edited)
"ActiveScreenLock 2.3 could be of interest to users group members and they can get a 20% discount on ActiveScreenLock 2.3. The coupon code is DMVS-QJPR.
February 8, 2005
For Immediate Release
DMVsoft Releases ActiveScreenLock 2.3
"How to protect your PC from unauthorized access with one mouse click. ActiveScreenLock is one of the most simple, yet effective ways to protect PCs from unauthorized access. While most people worry about viruses, trojans and spyware, folks tend to ignore the fact that co-workers, visitors or even family members are much more likely to get access to confidential data by simply walking up to a PC and looking it up. ActiveScreenLock is a software application that makes your PC inaccessible without entering a password. While Windows OS comes with the password-protected screensaver option that seems to have the same function, any advanced user knows that there are a number of ways to bypass this.
"When ActiveScreenLock is activated (either by clicking a tray icon or pressing a combination of designated hotkeys), the PC becomes inaccessible. Whenever anybody tries to do anything with the locked computer, the program displays a password-protected window placed on top of all the others. In order to remove it, a correct password needs to be entered. Key combinations Alt+F4, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Alt+Tab, and WinKey are blocked.
"If necessary, a program user can opt to disable task manager or hide the cursor. Restarting the locked PC will not undo the protection. Should anyone try to pick the password, the program will log all login attempts and what passwords were used.
"ActiveScreenLock has received dozens of awards, including Editor's Choice at TopShareware and FileHeaven, and 5-star rating at Softpicks, Shareup, FileTransit, SmartDownloads, and UKwares. A free demo version is available at [http://www.dmvsoft.com/] for evaluation (30-day free trial period). The price of a single copy is $25 US Dollars. Registration removes all time limitations and nag screens, gives you free unlimited support and entitles you to free upgrades and new version updates.
If you have any questions, please contact Michael McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org System Requirements:
- Operating system: Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 or XP
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 [email@example.com]. Visit my Web site at [http://www.dealsguy.com].Click here to return to top