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

USB Feedback from Last Month’s Column
I received some feedback from last month’s comments about my flash drive experience. Paul Witheridge from the Sarnia, Ontario user group continued my comments about the accidental drive letter assignment being a coincidence because of the one time use to retrieve a file: he says “...except when you need to boot from that USB drive. In that case, your hard drive will be either disabled (dead or disconnected) or reordered in boot sequence on purpose. This is so the desired boot drive (USB in this case) can take the necessary C: letter assignment.”

I responded that I wondered why a person would need to boot from a USB flash drive, proposing that “unless you were traveling and using a strange computer, or if you B & E’d a house to borrow the use of their computer temporarily,” to which he responded; “Those are two scenarios, of course. Also, a dying hard drive, a severely virus infected hard drive, and running an alternative operating system are a few more.”

I “think” I’m smarter now, but Paul is very knowledgeable so I hope you get something out of his comments.

More On My Ricoh Printer
In the past, I have mentioned how satisfied I was with my Ricoh color laser printer and their tech support. I was brought into a world of reality recently when the store I bought it from, located not very far from me, was closed due the loss of their lease. They have other stores, but they are all much further away from me. Since I needed some toner cartridges, I went to Office Depot to get them, but they don’t carry them for Ricoh. Neither does OfficeMax or Staples. None of the three were not interested in trying to order them for me and were unable to find them on their Web site. Their final response to me was “sorry, thank you, goodbye.”

I called Ricoh and I can order them from “Ricoh Direct,” but they are priced slightly higher than where I was buying them and the product would be shipped from out of town. There'd be a shipping charge unless I was a volume customer. No user group discount though, which our user group receives from “Smart Guys Computers” from whom I originally bought it, http://www.smartguyscomputers.com. Not only that, when inquiring about getting cartridges, I also found out that my free tech support had run out. However, the guy told me that if I had a somewhat simple question, they would answer it for me anyway; otherwise, there would be a charge. The good part is they speak English, answer quickly, and they know their stuff.

Actually, there is another store operated by Smart Guys Computers that I do get close to occasionally and I’ll try to stock up so I won’t run out of cartridges. That way I’ll still get an extra discount. I don’t go that direction very much so stocking up should solve the problem, but I was surprised to learn that cartridges for Ricoh printers were hard to find, considering that Ricoh has been around for years, and are widely used in commercial installations.

One thing I might mention is that I have not been overly impressed with the quality of the colored pages in newsletters that I’ve printed. There are a few tiny lines vertically through the picture and I don’t know if other brands might have that flaw too.

Unusual Vending Machines
I read an article in Travel And Leisure magazine about vending machines. It’s a short article with a brief history and shows a few unusual ones. Here is the URL, you may find it interesting, http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-strangest-vending-machines/1.

Need Some Training?
I was able to make a connection with Robert Hodges of KeyStone Learning Systems, and he has arranged a temporary discount for my readers on their learning courses. These learning courses have a great reputation in the industry. I don’t have room for listings and descriptions in the column since many different courses are available. Their Web site will give you information on the courses available, and the prices. Other user groups have featured discounts on this company’s courses in recent years and speak well of the company’s reputation. The following are Robert’s comments about KeyStone Learning systems.

“KeyStone Learning Systems http://www.keystonelearning.com provides a library of video-based, Instructor-led courses, including self-paced IT Training for Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010, Windows 7, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, SharePoint, Project, OneNote, Acrobat, Crystal Reports, Visio, and many other titles. For a full list of our available courses, go here http://www.keystonelearning.com/courses. “Training is available either on interactive DVD, or via Online access 24x7, anywhere you have Internet, and includes beginner through advanced training, built in exercises, quizzes, and complete KeyNotes. You can choose to take a complete course, or jump straight to specific topics of interest with full course navigation, and go back as often as you like to refresh yourself on what you’ve learned.

“While our experience in video-based, instructor-led learning has given us a wealth of knowledge in the training arena, we also have 20 years of experience supporting our enterprise services, including custom design, knowledgebase and learning management, security compliance, and sales/marketing support.” Robert Hodges has set up a 20% discount for my readers, and that’s off ANY single user course until 12/31/10. When purchasing, use the coupon code "DealsGuy" when placing your order. You are also welcome to use your credit card.

What Is Starting When Your Computer Boots?
CodeStuff Starter helps you view whatever is starting while your computer is booting. CodeStuff Starter shows you what files are being run and what registry lines are initiating them, so you can disable them from starting. When you disable them, it should only be temporary until you see what happens. It also tells you exactly what that program does. Of course, you need to read up on this to see if it’s right for you. Bob Balogh likes this one and wrote about it several months ago in his monthly Windows Pains column, which appears in several newsletters. He is a member of Boca Raton Computer Society http://www.brcs.org. CodeStuff Starter can be downloaded at http://www.snapfiles.com/get/starter.html. The program is called Starter and the publisher is CodeStuff.

A free backup utility
I read about this one some time ago in Bits of Bytes, a most interesting newsletter of Pikes Peak Computer Application Society http://ppcompas.apcug.org. It was in the “Around The Room” comments. This is a free backup that works similar to Acronis True Image, but the person who suggested it feels it is more user-friendly. That remains to be seen because when you buy an Acronis product, you get personal help from Gene Barlow if you bought it from him. Anyway, this free backup is ToDoBackup and can be acquired at http://www.todo-backup.com. When the product is free, it is understandable that there is no tech support. It looks like the software is free for home use, but they also offer online backup for a fee.

A Great Christmas Gift
I don’t usually publish an item that isn’t discounted or free, but I’m making an exception this time in the interest of making you aware of a neat Christmas gift idea. I tried to contact this company asking if they would consider giving my readers a discount on their unique flash drives, but received no response to either of two messages, which is not uncommon for me these days. These sites offer the most unique flash drives that I have seen so I’m passing the URLs along for you to take a look: http://tinyurl.com/y6f3ecs and http://tinyurl.com/ylpxze9. I don’t normally use tinyurl in the column either because some readers tell me they prefer to know where they are going when they click on a link, but in this case, I decided to use them to keep the column shorter. I saw this information in Nibbles & Bits, newsletter of Orange County IBM PC Users Group http://www.orcopug.org. The editor, Linda Gonse, does a remarkable job with this newsletter.

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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