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

Has This Kind of Stuff Made You Mad?
Some time ago I noticed $1.80 on my phone bill for incorporating the long distance charges on it. I called the Phone Company and asked to be billed separately by Sprint, my long distance provider, to save the $1.80. No postage to pay the LD bill since I do it on the computer. Since my cell phone plan's minutes are local all over the US, I use it for all my long distance calls to the family, thus there are seldom many calls on my Sprint LD bill. This month, I had no LD calls to pay for on my LD bill, but I still owed $2.36 in taxes and charges. It seems there's now a tax on NOTHING? In September, they say they are levying another .99 tax. HELP!

When is the last time you looked at your phone bill itself and read the many charges on it? It's disgusting since it seems to be well over 100% taxation. I only have basic service, which is $10.80, but the final bill with no LD charges is $23.86. I wish somebody would start a movement to stop this blatant money rip-off. TV's Dateline pointed out that some of those larger charges are not a tax, but simply more money for the Phone Company. Not only that, but my DSL bill just went up $3.21 per month with new taxes and charges, one just for the DSL. I'll miss it, but goodbye DSL since I thought it was already overpriced at $59.95.

Shorter Column Format
Many editors now tell me they no longer have room for the entire column. This month's column is about 200 words shorter in the hopes more editors can carry it. It is important to have as many readers as possible to entice vendor participation.

Let There Be Justice
A friend sent me a news item that Hormel is suing a company called Spam Arrest for using the term SPAM in its' product name. I wondered how long it would be before something like that might happen. It's not the use of Spam as a general term, but for using it in an official name. Interesting.

Still Good
I'm reminding you that the Sane Solution's "NetTracker" for analyzing your Web log is good until August 31, 03 with the great discount. Contact Darryl at 1-800-407-3570, ext. 122, to order. The Inkjet deal will be good until the end of the year. Go to [ http://www.inksell.com ] to order. For assistance call 1-800-255-0483, or send e-mail to [ help@inksell.com ]. The Executive Software Undelete and Diskeeper bundle is still good. [ http://consumer.execsoft.com/home.asp ].

This Author Is Unusual
I read a review by Larry Grannis in the Central Kentucky Computer Society's newsletter about a great computer book that has been given many accolades by well-known sources. Russ Walter wrote this book called "The Secret Guide To Computers." He even gives you his phone number and says to give him a call anytime. He wisely publishes the book himself, no publishing company involved. In fact, you can even read some of it right on the Web at [ http://www.secretfun.com ].This book is good for beginner or advanced users. Russ Walter's phone number is 603-666-6644. E-mail is [ Russ@secretfun.com ].

I talked to Russ about a deal and he said that user groups could use the discount on a bulk order as a fundraiser for their group. He has been publishing a help book since 1972 so he certainly goes further back than many of us. In fact, there are very cheap prices if you can use an older book. Standard shipping is free in the US. $2.00 per book outside the US. Air is $3.00 per book in the US. Check his Web site for information on quantity discounts and other shipping choices. For example, his latest edition sells for $17.50 per copy, but buy two and they are just $14 each.

When I received mine, the first thing I wanted to do is fix my network. Unfortunately, I was unable to find such a chapter so that project is on hold. However, looking through the book certainly shows that just about everything else is covered. While reading through it, I did indeed find a couple of chuckles in the explanations. It looks great, and after seeing it, if your question is not covered, I would be astounded. However, if it isn't, you can always call him for the answer. I have not seen another book of this type with that offer. It is an 8 1/2" x 11" book with 639 pages.

Let The Gaming Begin!
I picked up a copy of Utah Computer Society's "Monthly Report" at the Comdex/APCUG activities and found a glowing review for "A Computerized One Armed Bandit," a game by Masque Publishing. [ http://www.masque.com ] There is much information on their Web site, including games for PDAs. Right now only "Slots From Bally Gaming" (ordering URL below) is on special. They have new releases for PC/Macintosh. The special would have ended in August, but since this is the Sept. column, they agreed to extend it until the end of October.

Slots From Bally Gaming with over 40 slot machines can be purchased for $19.95, regularly $24.95, by going to [http://www.masque.com/SfBGsp.htm ] to order. Shipping is $5.00 in the US or $10.00 to Canada. Best part is making bets (5 cents, 25 cents, $1.00 to $5.00), but not in real money. Think of it this way; look at the money you'll save by not having to go to Las Vegas to play those slots. You're already ahead of the game.

I just received my evaluation copy and I am enjoying it. The installation was faultless and it runs with no problem on my 900 MHz Athlon running Windows 98/SE. Had I known you need the CD to run it, I might have tried installing it differently. While I'm not ahead so far, the sound effects are very real and one slot has all of my favorite cartoon characters; Popeye, Blondie, Dagwood, Wimpy, etc. A couple of times when I won it became very entertaining, and led to more fun. I can't give that away, but I think you'll like it. It takes a few minutes to learn the games. Right now my wife is learning so I'm not sure when I'll be able to tell you more.

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. I have also been busy putting up some interesting new articles on my Web site, so take a look. My thanks to the authors I was able to reach. However, they don't all answer their e-mail so I often must give up on many good articles for lack of response.

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