Article, October 2008
The Deals Column
By Bob Click, The Deals Making Man
This Will Be Easy, I Thought!
About three months ago, I bought a basic new Toshiba Satellite A-205 laptop with a Celeron processor, one gig of RAM and Vista Home Basic. It was also Wi-Fi ready. I thought I would probably only use it when I go out of town, mostly for e-mail and MS Office 2003. I booted it up to look at Vista and decided to register it with Toshiba, but before I finished the registration, a message told me McAfee had finished installing, which frustrated me since it had not asked my permission. After taking a quick look at Vista, and being hounded by more advertising, I set it in the closet until I had more time to work with it. About three months later it was time to finish preparing it for a trip out of town, so I started by downloading the free PC Decrapifier http://www.PCdecrapifier.com to remove the trial products on the laptop. There were five columns of icons for all kinds of stuff that I would mostly not want. Decrapifier puts itself into a temporary folder and then searches your machine for all the items it has on it. I selected everything I wanted taken off and it proceeded to remove all except the MS Office trial; and when it finished, only two columns of icons remained. I found a bargain to add more memory, giving me noticeably better speed loading, and later upgraded to Vista Home Premium since I was repeatedly told that Vista Home Basic doesn't offer much. On my trip north, I visited my friend Bob Clyne who I had previously spoken with on the phone and mentioned upgrading the laptop. I had not upgraded Vista yet when I got there and asked him to help install the Vista Home Premium upgrade. What followed sure didn't seem like routine for such an install. On the package, it stated that the upgrade included SP1 for Vista. After starting the upgrade installation, it suddenly stopped with a message stating that before the package could be installed over Vista Home Basic we would have to install Vista SP1. I finally left the machine with him to finish the job and he said it took several hours to get it done. He said that even after installing all the updates from Microsoft Update and several updates from the Toshiba site, Microsoft Update would not make Vista SP1 available as an update. He finally called Toshiba who told him he should download the entire Service Pack from Microsoft and install it manually. After installing SP1 and the Vista Home Premium upgrade, there were about 18 additional updates showing in Microsoft Update. After installing them as a batch, the machine would not reboot. He repaired that using the Repair option from the Vista Home Premium Update disc. He then installed the updates one at a time, which took ages because several of the updates required a reboot after installation, but that did work better. We have no idea why Microsoft Update would not offer Vista SP1 and the Toshiba tech support person would not address the problem other than to refer us to Microsoft. Originally, I wanted to reformat the HD and install XP Professional, but was warned that might be a major problem because the XP drivers might not be available for the new machine. I was told to check for and download the XP drivers before attempting to install Windows XP. I had already installed AOL (my backup ISP) software, some of which Bob felt was rather obtrusive, but had rejected installing their free antivirus and antispyware software. Bob suspects that the AOL software might have been part of the problem with the updates after the Vista Home Premium upgrade, but that was merely conjecture. Maybe I should have let him remove the AOL software to find out, but I didnít know the correct settings to use for AOL without using all their software.
Help For People Who Canít Attend Meetings
Iíve previously mentioned Hewie Poplock and Mike Ungerman at Central Florida Computer Society trying different online meeting software to help members attend meetings, even when a member canít do it physically. At the Tech SIG this week, Hewie used http://www.Ustream.tv to capture the video and sound during the meeting and put it in a file to post on the Internet. Attendees can also join the meeting from home and watch the proceedings, even typing in a question for the moderator to bring up at the meeting. This experiment still needs refinement, such as a dedicated camera operator and more microphones, but see it for yourself at: (Part 1) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/664934 and (Part 2) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/665065. The reason for two parts is that Dennyís Wi-Fi connection dropped us in the middle of the meeting. Hopefully everyone that speaks will be included in the future. If you look closely, it could also be called the Pig SIG/Tech SIG since the SIG meets at a Dennyís and they enjoy food as well
. Hewie and Mike will be demonstrating different methods at the Florida Association of Computer Users Groups (FACUG) one-day fall conference Oct. 25, 2008 in Clearwater, FL. A couple folks had minor complaints about the recordings, but I was very impressed. Contact Hewie at if you want more info.
iTurns, A Freebie That Could Be A Big Help
DVDneXtCOPY Inc. announces DVDneXtCOPY iTurns, a tool to make hardware linked music FREE. This brand new one-step tool breaks no laws because it uses procedures not restricted by DRM (Digital Rights Management). DVDneXtCOPY iTurns is available in a completely free version. (DealsGuy Note: The free version has limitations compared to the Pro Version) iTurns software is a virtual program that emulates a CD recorder in your computer system. A built in encoder can transcode any burn job to a portable MP3 music file. Just burn your iTunes music and create a freely portable music library. iTurns will do automatic iD3 tagging on the fly, which allows information such as the title, artist, album, track number, or other information about the file to be stored in the file itself. Just create your portable library and import it to any new computer system, mobile audio device or music player. Create your own ďfree libraryĒ and move it anywhere without the message ďyou are not allowed to play this audio file on this system.Ē Read more information about the new DVDneXtCOPY iTurns at http://www.dvdnextcopyiturns.com.
Clean Off Your Discarded Drive With Confidence
Are you replacing your old HD, but want to make sure your data is completely removed? Consider Active@ KillDisk hard drive eraser http://www.killdisk.com. Iíve seen this in a few UG newsletters so it must be pretty reliable. It is powerful software that will destroy all data on your hard drives, and even your floppy drives, completely. They claim this product will make restoration of your deleted data next to impossible. It can also erase a partition, according to their Web site, although I didnít use the product myself. Itís free, but there are also pay versions. In fact, the pay version actually conforms to the US Department of Defense cleaning and sanitizing standard DoD 5220.22-M. Visit their Web site for better information. Hereís another popular product to wipe your drive that many people like. Check http://www.heidi.ie/node/6#Eraser_Features. This freebie offers multiple types of drive wiping and one that also uses the US Department of Defense cleaning and sanitizing standard DoD 5220.22-M. Like any product, satisfactory results are all in the eye of the beholder.
Excuse Me, But What Time Is It?
How good is your PCís clock keeping time? Windows XP and Vista have a built-in code for setting your clock via the Internet, but that only happens once a week. If you have broadband Internet service, you could change the frequency that your Windows OS will update the clock. Check out http://www.thinkman.com/dimension4/index.html where you can get Dimension 4 at no cost and it will set your computerís time from servers on the Internet. There are lots of options including how often to update the time. Check out their Web site for further information on how it works and for the free download. Another way to do this is to try installing the Internet Time Sync Utility from [http://www.dougknox.com/xp/utils/xp_inet_time.htm] that will also reset the computerís time at whatever interval you wish. Again, it is free and their Web site has further information and the free download.
As with the other items, I have not tried this product.
That's it for this month. Iíll have some other new product announcements on my Web site. 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