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

Lost In Space
A lot is written about cloud computing lately and I wonder how many of you are as confused about what that really is as I am. It would seem that cloud computing has to do with keeping your data stored on some distant server or storage service where you hope it is safe. To me, that’s a new name for an old concept, uploading it to some distant storage service on the Internet. On the other hand, in any offsite concept of storage, things must go right no matter what the concept is. In reality, it’s still possible that things could go terribly wrong. Read this short article from Information Week magazine about Nirvanix whose service turned sour because of a third-party vendor assisting in providing their service. A bad experience like that can shatter your confidence in Software as a Service, or Cloud Computing. The article is “Beyond Online Storage” and the crisis description is near the end of the article. http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/hosted/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=210602537&pgno=4

Perhaps you could do your own “Cloud Computing.” For example, put some servers in grandma’s house. She might have a spare bedroom now that the family no longer lives there. Perhaps there are ways to do cloud computing yourself, which would make it as secure as you like, and if something goes wrong, you should still have the data, physically. That might also be an advantage since DNS hijacking is becoming more prevalent these days. (I couldn’t resist a tongue-in-cheek comment!)

Don’t Trust Anybody!
I’m on my soapbox again this month. We purchased a new microwave oven (above the stove type) from Best Buy after considerable shopping because they were the cheapest at the time. Some of you might remember my lawsuit against Best Buy several years ago. We had written them off for shopping, but decided to try them again since this was a different store. We bought the unit and when they loaded it into my pickup, I checked the box closely before accepting it, and it was not damaged. That led me to believe that the microwave oven was in good condition. Later on, I had a professional installer over to help me with the installation because of the difficult mounting space over the range. When we opened the box, the microwave’s metal case was badly bent and the door alignment was bad. The installer said the unit had obviously been dropped. Needless to say the unit would not work.

When I tried to take it back to Best Buy, they said that once I took possession of the unit, it was my responsibility and they would not replace it since I had probably damaged it myself. However, they sent it to their repair facility for evaluation. Obviously, Best Buy’s service facility would not repair the damaged unit under the warranty and said it could not even be repaired. As a last resort, I tried calling Best Buy’s corporate headquarters, but to no avail. That conversation lasted about one minute before I got the same response as the store gave me and a quick goodbye, so there went $300. No more dealings with Best Buy by us, although perhaps other stores would have also taken that attitude. I guess it could be said that you should check the contents of the box and not take anything for granted when picking something up yourself.

It was suggested by a friend to also call Samsung, which I did; but they didn’t seem to care either. For what it’s worth, the metal in the Samsung microwave’s case was very thin and flimsy. The installer suggested not replacing it with another Samsung.

A Repair Suite For Your Computer
Want to clean up your computer? I published this product last winter and some liked it. It’s been updated so I asked them for a discount on the new release and they agreed. Their description is below:

YL Computing, Inc. announced the new version 6.2 of their WinUtilities software product. Actually, WinUtilities is not a software program, but is a kind of shell that comprises 20 tools allowing users to tune up the operating system and generally speed up the performance of their computers. This bundle of tools allows you to perform a number of optimization and cleanup operations from disk and registry cleanup to protecting your executable files with a password. It works with any Windows version starting from Windows 98, and including Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista (for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems).

The tools are grouped into six categories. System Cleaners allow you to clean up your disks, the registry and all kinds of history files. You can view all found files before you go to the last step (that is, removing files, moving them to the Recycle Bin, or to a separate folder), but even if you delete some files you may need, the tool can create a Restore Point for you to get back to the state before erasing files. The same precautions are used when you clean the registry. The operating system stores a lot of history files and logs about your activities both on the computer and on the Net. Deleting these entries and history files not only frees space on your drives, but also takes care of your privacy. A one-click maintenance tool is now available that can be used to clean up everything with one click, without opening each separate tool.

System Optimizers deal with "dead" shortcuts and duplicate files. You can remove the former and analyze the latter. You can optimize your memory usage (the program can do it automatically) and your network connection (if you are not sure about these settings, there are recommended options available).

The tools in the System Control category allow you to actually control your system from editing your system configuration files to allowing you to shut down your computer automatically at a certain time. You can also use this category to remove the browser helper objects and startup items that you don’t need.

System Tools provide you with access to tools available in the system. Registry tools allow you to back up either the entire Windows registry or only certain keys (and later restore them). You can simply search the registry for certain keys and values. Simple Search sounds simple, but it actually provides you with more search options than the standard Windows Registry Editor.

The File Tools: Here you will be able to view deleted files, and if necessary, restore them on NTFS and FAT volumes. Or, you can completely wipe files off with the Shredder tool so that even experts will not be able to restore them. Also, you can split large files into smaller ones (for example, to move them to another computer) and glue them back together. Last, but not least you can protect any executable file with a password or disable this protection, and you can schedule almost any operation available in this suite of tools using the built-in scheduler.

You can download WinUtilities 6.2 for free from the developer's site at and try it for 30 days before making a decision about purchasing it. DealsGuy readers can get a 30% discount using the following URLs. DealsGuy note: These URLs for ordering are mishandled by MS Word when converted to hypertext so you should copy and paste them into your browser’s address bar. The entire URL must be on one line in the address bar. I also tried TinyURLs, but they wouldn’t work from my document.

WinUtilities Personal License w/30% discount: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_xclick&business=paypal%40ylcomputing%2ecom&item_name=WinUtilities(Personal License) Special Offer&item_number=7019-8-1&amount=28&no_shipping=2&no_note=1¤cy_code=USD&lc=US&bn=PP-BuyNowBF&charset=UTF-8

WinUtilities Family License w/30% discount: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_xclick&business=paypal%40ylcomputing%2ecom&item_name=WinUtilities(Family License) Special Offer&item_number=7019-8-2&amount=49&no_shipping=2&no_note=1¤cy_code=USD&lc=US&bn=PP-BuyNowBF&charset=UTF-8

WinUtilities Corporate License w/30% discount: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_xclick&business=paypal%40ylcomputing%2ecom&item_name=WinUtilities(Corporate License) Special Offer&item_number=7019-8-3&amount=350&no_shipping=2&no_note=1¤cy_code=USD&lc=US&bn=PP-BuyNowBF&charset=UTF-8

Product page link: http://www.ylcomputing.com/content/view/9/27/

Direct download link: http://www.ylcomputing.com/download/wuinstall.exe

Do You Have Memory Problems With Your Passwords?
Why not give KeePass a try. Many people try the wrong methods for managing passwords, such as using the same one for everything so it’s easy to remember. All the thief has to do is obtain that one password and he can have you hurting. KeePass will help you be better organized and perhaps you will develop better and safer password methods. KeePass is FREE and also open source. Check it out at http://keepass.info/

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.