NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, November 2008
The Deals Column
By Bob Click, The Deals Making Man
(click to email author)

Proper Credit
I wrote about Hewie Poplock and Mike Ungerman of Central Florida Computer Society working on the live meeting technique whereby members could join the meeting on line if they couldn’t make it in person. I also gave you the URL to see the video of a meeting. They wanted everybody to know that it was not originally their intention to do this work, but Dave Dockery of Tampa Bay Computer Society http://www.tampa-bay.org convinced them to give it a try since he has been doing it successfully for some time. They are still trying to get the technique perfected and http://www.ustream.tv is just one of the URLs they use for a monthly or SIG meeting, but while it’s a lot of work, it has its rewards. Check http://www.cfcs.org for meeting information.

Another Type Of Upgrade
As most of you know, I live in a hurricane prone area. In self-defense, I’ve been installing hurricane protection on my windows and doors that are not already hurricane code rated. Remembering the year we had those three hurricanes one after another pass right over our heads, I recalled the dungeon affect with the plywood on the windows. I decided that Lexan would be a better covering as it would let the light in, and I could also see outside with little problem. It’s taken a while, and some dollars, but I’m happy with the results. Even my wife can easily install the panels in just a few minutes to be ready for a storm. It also helps lower the price on my insurance, although my “hip” roof lowered that the most. A hip roof is a roof slanted on all four sides, with no gable ends. Updating the insulation in our attic has helped lower our power bill considerably, although choosing the right company to do that job took a lot of questions for the insulation companies before we chose the right one. We wanted one who would also find and seal other spots where air could leak from the living area into the attic, and they found several important places that needed to be sealed. Our A/C ductwork had already been serviced for leaks a few years ago. Our power bill is now much lower than last year. The next project was new windows with low-E glass filled with argon gas, making them more energy efficient. It won’t be long until the power company will be paying us each month. However, I am also looking into a small photovoltaic system in the hopes it will help with our effort. Finding reliable installation and purchase information has been difficult.

A Word of Caution; I have not tried any of the items listed below so do your homework if you’re interested.

Share Your Artistry With The World
Acoustica http://mixcraftlive.com has introduced a free service allowing anyone to upload their music, podcasts or sonic creations to share with the world. The site allows artists to create an account, upload artwork and publish up to 100 megabytes of music. Each artist account has a forum and a blog to help foster a community and fan database. Each song can be ranked and, if popular enough, can appear on the top song charts. Artists can update an event calendar with their ‘gigs’ so that their fans can find out when the next performance is. The service is completely free and can be used by anyone wishing to showcase their sonic creations recorded with Mixcraft.

Mixcraft is a multitrack music recording studio for Windows computers and has recently been awarded the Computer Music Value Award and the Keyboard Magazine Key Buy Award. It is seen as the Windows equivalent of Apple’s Garage Band for price and functionality. MixcraftLive.com adds even more value to the software and is intended to showcase the musical skills and talents of artists recording with Mixcraft.

Mixcraft now includes an additional 574 new music loops and over 300 new sound effects which are automatically downloaded on demand. These sounds are free to all Mixcraft customers. The loops include 13 exciting new Song Kits; Breakbeat, Crunk, Drum N Bass, Electro House, Film Score, House DJ, Jungle Drum N Bass, Progressive Euro, Southern Hip Hop, Synth House, Tribal House, Underground Hip Hop, and Urban Street Mix!

Would You Believe Eyeball To Eyeball? (I can’t remember where I read this one.)

Eyeball Chat is a free product that you can use for talking on the phone and seeing each other at the same time; that is, if you are both using the product. At http://www.eyeballchat.com, you can download the software to accomplish all this. Of course, there is more to it than that, but at least this product is free for you to experiment with. Check out their Web site and you will find further information.

Do You Love Games?
MyRealGames has launched a free gaming portal that provides downloadable and online casual games. The portal http://www.MyRealGames.com is aimed to ensure a great pastime for audiences of all ages. Arcade, puzzles, shooters, dress-ups, sports and more are all free now. The portal also features free games, which were only available in “try-before-you-buy” versions before. MyRealGames.com can be recommended to those who are tired of advertisements in games because they don’t have disturbances like annoying banners between levels. The only thing obligatory is a visit of the site after a user exits a game. The games are available in both 2D and 3D, and have three working languages.

With more than two hundred games, MyRealGames.com has something in stock for everybody. If you're an arcade game lover, don't forget to check out Space Bubbles. There are extraordinary power-ups and amazing bonuses to discover within every puzzle! Enjoy endless hours of bubble blasting action: http://www.myrealgames.com/files/space-bubbles.exe.

Exercise your billiard skills with the help of Billiard Masters or Cool 3D billiards, which you can play against computer or friends. The atmosphere of a comfortable place makes the game even better. Join billiard club at: http://www.myrealgames.com/files/billiard-masters.exe.

Try Nuclear Bike. Complete levels as fast as possible to achieve maximum score points. Speed up! Traffic police can't catch you here: http://www.myrealgames.com/en/play_online_nuclearbike.html..

Here Is Another Free Defragger, This One Has Rave Reviews!
IObit is proud to announce the release of Smart Defrag. Smart Defrag was in development for 1 1/2 years, tested by over one million users, and is now available to all PC users for free. Most users cannot clearly know the current fragmentation status of their hard disk, and have no good control over performing the defragmentation. “We have taken care of PC users' needs in our free Smart Defrag” says Hugo Dong, president of IObit.

Smart Defrag features include:

- An "install it and forget it" feature that works automatically and quietly in the background of the computer.

- Besides defragmenting, it also places the frequently used data into the fastest area of the disk.

- Smart Defrag has the industry’s leading defragmenting engine, specially designed for modern, large hard drives.

- Free for home, organization, and business and 100% safe from any spyware, adware and virus.

- Designed for Windows 2000, XP, Vista and future Windows 7.

Smart Defrag is now available in English and other languages. More information and free downloads are available at http://www.iobit.com/iobitsmartdefrag.html.

Everybody Talks About It, But Here is More Than Talk
Other than spam, a frequently discussed subject is the privacy of your computer. There is a place on the Web where there is help. Check into http://www.saltmeadow.com/privacy where you will find seven tools for working on the privacy of your computer. Some of them you may already know about them, and others you may not. Best of all, it is a collection of all freeware for your use.

That's it for this month.ave 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 . Visit my Web site at http://www.dealsguy.com.

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