NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, July 2003
The Deals Column
by Bob Click, The Dealsguy
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group
(click to email author)

To Clarify Things
Last month I mentioned that according to AARP's analysis, their tax person had made a mistake on my tax return and the TaxAct return I had done was correct. I simply said that anybody can make a mistake and thought that meant I certainly understood the situation. After all, when somebody becomes perfect, I'd like to take his or her classes on how to get perfect. Anyway, I received e-mail saying I had denigrated the AARP volunteers. That was not my intention since they are doing a very good service, and free professional help is very hard to find. I simply mentioned what happened to me. I've heard from several AARP volunteers across the country and they want you to know they are there to help, and it is a good service. I thank those very busy volunteers for their efforts because they could be working in their own office making good money during the time they are helping others for "free." Understand that there are limitations on how complicated your taxes can be to use their free service. If you need tax help next year, contact your local AARP chapter for availability.

For your own information, AARP also offers defensive driving courses that save money on auto insurance with some companies. It will save my wife and I over $90 with our insurance company every six months, after we take the course. Defensive driving courses are also available from the National Safety Council in some cities. If your auto insurance company gives a discount for that, they can give you numbers to call for your area.

Watch That Power Rating
Some are aware of the recall on APC uninterruptable power supplies. I bought a APC 350 VA UPS a while back and thought I was having problems with it recently. I called APC tech support to see if mine was affected by the recall (turns out it was) and the guy started asking me about what I had plugged into it. I had my 900 MHz Athlon desktop computer, my NEC XE21 monitor, my DSL modem and my Linksys router on it. He then told me my unit would not be covered under the recall because it had been overloaded. He offered me a special deal below wholesale (his words) for a new one (much larger).

When I questioned him further, he said that my 350 VA UPS would only handle about 280 watts and my computer's power supply alone is 350 watts (rating). Considering all that, he said I would need at least a 700 VA unit, and probably more. I was never aware that just a computer and monitor alone would overload that UPS. I was under the impression that the 350 VA only had to do with how long it would support your computer after the power went down. Live and learn. Looks like I need to spend a lot more money. I'm telling you this so you'll be aware. In the past though, I used a 600 VA UPS for several years with no problem. According to his analysis, it would have been much too small. I have since found that my problem was not with the UPS, but instead was a defective power cord. Moving it seemed to get things working again and I thought it was the UPS's plugs. I finally tried a new power cord, which solved the problem. I also have a different brand UPS now.

Another Warning
This is for you folks who love downloading music files. It is rumored that someone (I won't quote the entire rumor) is putting poisoned files on file sharing sites. Those poisoned files could damage your computer's file system, causing you to lose all your data, and Winamp vulnerabilities, check out [ http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=030121SE-WiMP_Winamp ] to find out more. Maybe your Antivirus software will now check for that virus, but find out for sure.

TeleZapper Update
Recently I included a tip from the Dayton Microcomputer Association's DataBus about how to cope with telemarketers by downloading a sound file etc. The April DataBus issue published an update (too lengthy to print here) about how the telemarketers are fighting back with a new product. The author, George Gibbs, thinks it is not an immediate threat to the TeleZappers, but you can see what is happening by taking a look on my site for his article titled "Telemarketers Trump TeleZappers." It is on the Other Articles page on my Web site [ http://www.dealsguy.com ]. From what George says, it also sounds like even with the new Federal "Do not call" list; there are many loopholes. I think the spam problem is the worst though.

Lets Shrink It
While reading the DATA BUS, newsletter for SouthEastern Michigan Computer Organization, I saw the special for PicoZip at a 40% discount. I e-mailed Christopher Tan, the developer, asking if I could have the same special for the column and he was happy to oblige. PicoZip is a file compression utility that Supports ACE, ARC, ARJ, BH, CAB, GZ, JAR, LHA, LZH, RAR, TAR, TGZ, Z, ZIP, ZOO, XXE and UUE file formats. (Whew, I never heard of some of them) I understand it is a full-featured automated backup tool. Also comes with lifetime free upgrades.

To get a better explanation of this product, check the Web site [ http://www.picozip.com ]. The normal price for PicoZip is $24.95, but my readers can get it for only $14.95 by using the special coupon code "PZDEALSGUY" when you access the special URL [ http://www.picozip.com/coupon/coupon.php?couponid=PZDEALSGUY ] to order. This offer is valid through August 31, 2003. File size is about 2.59 MB.

There is a review for PicoZip posted on my Web site on the Other Articles/Reviews page written by Franz Breidenich of SEMCO.

Need a Web Host?
Matt McCann needs no introduction to all of you. You have seen Matt in action many times doing presentations for your users group, and they were always memorable. Matt is offering something new, hosting for your Web site, and e-mail. According to his e-mail announcement, you can register your domain name for just $9.95 per year, or transfer your present domain name for the same including a one-year extension. Not bad! Web hosting is as low as $5.95 per month including one free e-mail account.

Check it out at [ http://www.webhostinganddomains.net ] for more information and pricing. I have been friends with Matt for many years and have confidence in the product he sells. I wish him the best with this new product. There are cheaper deals for this service, but we all know Matt well.

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 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. I have also been busy putting up some interesting new articles on my Web site, so take a look.

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