NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, September 2010
The Deals Column
Bob Click, The Dealsguy
bobclick@bellsouth.net (click to email author)

I finally finished my article about creating trade shows and should have it posted on my Web site about the middle of August. Its lengthy, but you may find it interesting.

I’m not a very ambitious person so I often do things the hard way until I finally give in and see about doing, at least something, easier. One example is with my computer’s cursor, which I often lose on the page, and have to find it. I always use a large arrowhead cursor, which works fairly well for me, but a printed page makes the cursor harder to follow because it changes into a thin I-beam. After fumbling for the cursor that way for a few years, I was finally prompted by a newsletter article to check in the Control Panel > Mouse, and the pointer options tab where I found a box to check to show the location of the pointer with a series of concentric circles emanating from the curser when pressing Ctrl. It was so simple to find and how stupid of me not to have looked into that long ago, and it only took me about a minute to do it. I hope you aren’t that lazy. I’ve mentioned it to a couple of other people and they said they were unaware that you could set up something like that. I knew it, but a newsletter article finally pushed me to do it.

Sometimes a confusing experience needs a fix that can’t be put off. One night I had a problem with a flash drive that I keep my DealsGuy files on. If I’m working on a DealsGuy column, I normally plug that flash drive in first and it becomes my D drive. Each evening when I’m shutting down my machine, I plug in a larger flash drive for my backup, which becomes my E drive since the DealsGuy flash drive is D. That larger flash drive “has” to be my E drive when I use it because that’s where the backup is set to backup my data files.

However, one evening when beginning my session, I plugged in my DealsGuy flash drive and it became my E drive, in sprite of the fact that there was no D drive. I wondered why it did that, but all my tries, including rebooting the computer, failed to give it the drive letter I needed. I rebooted with that flash drive plugged in, and without it, then plugging it in, with no success. I even tried different USB plugs on the computer. I had used it the night before as an E drive simply to retrieve a file, but how would it get stuck on being an E drive? I had no idea, but needed help.

Maybe I needed to juggle my flash drives somehow, but I was stumped. I looked everywhere I could think of for instructions to try changing the setting of the drive’s letter, and the computer’s help was a lost cause for me. I knew “changing drive letters” was possible because I used it to establish my DVD drive letter when I originally set up this computer.

I called several friends who didn’t have the answer, and finally called a friend in another state who I knew would have the answer if he was home. He thought my request was stupid, but finally humored me with the step-by-step procedure, and it was simple: My OS is XP and he had me go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management, and then Disk Management; and there was the procedure to accomplish the drive letter change. It was simple, but not to me until I was shown where to do it. My problem was solved. Thank God for my user group friends! My limited computer knowledge has come from my user group friends, and I have learned very little from “Help” (F1). On the other hand, I’ve seen the gurus do well with Help.

Good Help To Organize Your Desktop
A while back Hewie Poplock http://www.hewie.net, who heads the Windows SIG for Central Florida Computer Society, and also writes a monthly column called “Hewie’s Favorites,“ demonstrated something called “Fences” and several in the group liked it. I can’t adequately describe this product except to say that it offers a unique way to organize your desktop. With Fences, you can create categories that include only certain icons, making it easier to find whatever you might be looking for. You can also hide certain icons, leaving fewer choices when you are picking the icon you want to work with. The Web site says “simplify your desktop by creating shaded areas which become movable and sizable containers for your icons. Double click blank spaces on your desktop and all your fences will fade out, or come back. You can create an unlimited number of fence areas on your desktop.”

Fences can be found at http://www.stardock.com/ and there are videos that describe what it does. “Fences” is free for home use. A Pro version is available for $9.99 at this writing and the advantages of the Pro version are listed. I didn’t pay much attention to Fences at first, but soon even the gurus started using it, so I’m passing it on to my readers. When even the consultants like a product, I think the rest of us should pay attention. There are certainly other ways to accomplish the task, but Fences may do it better. There are other products available there.

Is That Web Site Safe To Visit?
The above-mentioned users group has some interesting gurus who never fail to impress me at a monthly meeting or at a SIG meeting. At a monthly meeting, Mike Ungerman advised me that Reimage, the company I tried for improving the performance of my computer, had only a fair rating on “Web of Trust”, but I had no idea what Web of Trust was. He advised me it would be a good idea to always use Web Of Trust when looking at products and services. It seems Web of Trust has a browser add-on you can download for Internet Explorer or Firefox that will give you a rating on the worthiness of many sites and their products when you access the URL.

You can also offer your own comment for a Web site or product on Web of Trust and it will be used in the rating. You might say their ratings are done by a jury of your peers. If you download and install their browser add-on, your browser will show a small circle with a color in it that rates the site you are visiting. The Web site is http://www.mywot.com/. There are a couple of sites nearly the same that are not good, so be sure you get that right.

I installed it and noticed that when I did a Google search for batteries, all of the URLs found had the WOT colored circles beside them. When I clicked on a URL with a red one, a window came up telling that the site did not have a very good reputation so I would enter at my own risk. Some URLs had the circle, but with a question mark, telling you it was not rated. I assume the rating depends on feedback about a site, but not necessarily for malicious code. It looks like Web Of Trust rates a site according to people’s comments. Take a look and see what you think.

Hewie Poplock http://www.hewie.net, was answering a few of my questions on the use of Web of Trust and, during our conversation, he mentioned another URL of interest that will simply check the safety of a URL for you. That one is http://browsingprotection.f-secure.com/swp/, which comes from F-Secure, who most of you are familiar with. To check the quality of a certain URL, type it in to the box where indicated and click for it to rate your requested site.

You are probably familiar with McAfee’s free Site Advisor http://www.siteadvisor.com/, and Link Scanner, free from AVG http://linkscanner.explabs.com/linkscanner/avg/, which I have previously written about to warn on the safety of a URL. The F-Secure product checks a URL free, but except for the 30-day trial versions of their products, the pricing is on their site. According to their Web site, their Internet Security offers many great features so if you don’t mind the price, it may offer you peace of mind.

That's it for this month. I’ll have some more new product announcements on my Web site that didn’t offer discounts. 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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