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

I've been so busy between our two-week cruise and working some interesting trade shows (to pay for the cruise) this month that I hope my readers can live with some bits and pieces held back for future columns.

Who Would Have Thought:
I recently read that three people refueling their vehicles are reported to have been seriously burned as a result of their cell phone, which was in their pocket or hanging on their belt. Seems it rang while they were fueling the gas tank and ignited the fumes. Two had very serious burns on their lower body as a result. UPDATE: After I released this column, I was told this was an urban legend, in other words, it is a hoax. The reason I am not deleting the item is so you will know this fact, but in my next column I will air my comments on it and recommend you don't have an active cell phone on your belt when refueling your car.

Just Some Comments
On the cruise, the ship (Summit) had a nice Cyber Café. Their computers all used LCD monitors. The price for using a computer was fifty cents per minute. When you are a captive audience there are no choices, but I didn't think that was bad under the circumstances. All you had to do was run your stateroom card through a slot and start typing, FAST. I didn't make use of it so when I got home it took me almost a day to go through all my e-mail, reading it and cleaning out all the spam. It was a disgusting job with so much spam.

Who's next?
I read that Symantec is buying PowerQuest Corp. for $150 million and should complete the purchase by the end of the year. I'm not sure if it will affect user groups, but as you know, Symantec dropped user group support a few years ago and PowerQuest cut the financial support they were giving Gene and Linda Barlow last year. It is, however, a fact that PowerQuest is more than pleased with the job that User Group Relations (Gene's Company) still does for them and I doubt they will want to lose that kind of product support. In the meantime, if you are thinking of purchasing a PowerQuest product, I wouldn't wait long to go to [ http://www.ugr.com ] and take advantage of the low UG prices, just in case. Who knows, with such a great track record, perhaps Gene will also be selling Symantec products. Makes sense to me!

A Show I Love To Hate
I was working a Direct Marketing Assoc. trade show for a few days and had a chance to browse some of the booths. I doubt I need to explain who participates. While they were very much in a minority, I did come across a booth selling a few million email addresses for marketing. The interesting part was the product's package, which was a can that looked exactly like a can of the famous Spam. I wonder if Hormel knows about this. There were also CD Duplicators, automated mailing equipment, automatic dialing equipment and other interesting booths. I must say that I really had to bite my tongue when I talked to a few of those booths that make their money inconveniencing us. On the other hand, I found some nice give-a-ways there, such as clocks, calculators, stuffed animals and other great items.

It was interesting talking to a salesman in one booth for a company that has print shops and distribution centers all over the country where they print many of the advertising flyers we all find in our newspapers. He talked about how they transfer all the data by wire and computers handle much of the production.

Last month I talked about flag screensavers at [ http://www.improbable.ukgateway.net/flag3d/flag3d.htm ], but Paul Witheridge e-mailed me that I wrongly described the site offering Canadian flag screensavers. Here is the correction I received: "Bob, there was only ONE Canadian flag and a good selection of others including US, UK and Australia but the BIG bonus is that it will make a flag out of any BMP you add to the folder! Too bad you misinformed your readers and a lot of non-Canadians will miss out on a good screen saver thinking that it's Canadian only." Sorry for that mistake folks, and I thank Paul for the correction.

Still Good
I'm pretty sure that great Serif offer of free software and mouse for just the cost of shipping is still good. Call 1-800-55-SERIF to order. The various free programs are actually on just one CD ROM. The negative side is that now they often send you special offers for all kinds of products.

Enough Of Those Darn CC Offers
Most homes get an average of at least five credit card offers a month and I think I get that many in less than a week. You notice they are all "Preapproved" too, although I doubt they actually check to see if you are credit-worthy, but I sure get sick of them. With the National Do-Not-Call list lurking in the wings (on again, off again twice), the Post Office is offering better discounts to the issuers of major credit cards. Everybody knows that Internet use is hurting the Post Office's mail volume. I read that you can call 1-888-567-8688 and opt out of those preapproved offers by mail now. I get about two a day lately, often from the same people, in different type envelopes.

More On Long Distance Deals
I previously wrote about cheap ways for long distance calling. Since then, I read about [ http://www.onesuite.com ] offering 2.9 cents per minute if you use their 800 number. They also have many local access numbers whereby you would get the service for 2.5 cents per minute if there is one in your city. When I looked, there was none in Orlando, but they are in many other cities.

Gerry Wooldridge of Boeing Employees Computing Society e-mailed that she uses the long distance service offered by Costco Wholesale, which has stores all over the country. It is TTI National and is billed separately so no extra charges are incurred on your phone bill. I don't have the details since I am not a member, but Gerry is well satisfied with the service and there are Costco membership stores all over the country to check on it.

If you have a lot of incoming calls from your own family, such as college students, some providers offer an optional 800 number to call home (I need money Dad). Recommended is Enhanced Communications Group (1-800-254-4060). Check out [ http://www.saveonphone.com ] who made that recommendation.

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 and many interesting articles I have taken from various users group newsletters.

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