NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2009
Things, Thinglets & Thingassos
Written by S. Jack Lewtschuk, President,
MBUG-PC (Monterey Bay Users Group – Personal Computer), CA

Blacklion (at) royal.net (click to email author)

This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author `(see e-mail address above).

Cleaning Your Computer
During the summer you had your hands full cleaning your yard and patio. In the fall you winterized your home and prepared for the holidays. Now that all of that is over, it’s time to spring clean your computer. When was the last time you opened up your "box" and looked inside? Don't tell me!

I found a very thorough guide explaining how to clean, what tools you need, why you should clean and yes, how often you should clean, courtesy of Computer Hope at http://www.computerhope.com/cleaning.htm#00.

Let me know what you found inside your box—I dare you! Is it still alive?

The Tiny Miracle
Have you ever received via e-mail, a URL like this: http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-q=Gang&getit=Go&sp-a=00062d45-sp00000000&sp- advanced=1&sp-p=all&sp-w-control=1&sp-w=alike&sp-date-range=-1&sp-x=any&sp- c=100&sp-m=1&sp-s=0
… with only the top line underlined and in blue?

And when you clicked on it you got an "error 404," or did not get the website you expected?

That’s because the URL should have included all four lines. You need to copy the whole thing (all four lines), and paste it into your browser, making sure that you do not introduce any spaces. A few websites are configured so that their URLs don't break, but not very many bother to do this.

I am guilty of sending long URLs via MBUG Listserv (see the back page to find out how to register). This has caused some of our members to be confused by the split URL. I appreciate the fact that recently someone took the time to remind me about a great solution for this problem. Years ago I knew about this but completely forgot (you can call it my "senior moment").

One solution is Tiny URL or http://www.tinyurl.com. All you have to do is go to that URL and create a shortcut for future use. The instructions are simple:
1. Copy the giant URL.
2. Paste it in the slot provided by Tiny.
3. Click on the button provided.

And, like magic, the long four line URL becomes tiny, is automatically copied to your clipboard, and looks more like http://tinyurl.com/52fuz2. Surprised? Try it, you'll like it, and it's FREE! By the way, some time ago Tiny URL was reported to contain malware, however the manufacturer assures us that the problem has been rectified.

Also, another MBUG member suggests to try adding "< >" brackets to prevent URLs from falling apart.

Another program similar to Tiny URL is at www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9898698-2.html?tag=bl (or I could say: http://tinyurl.com/57dqyk)!

Are You the Administrator?
If you need to quickly tell if you are currently logged onto a PC as a Local Administrator of the Windows server, right click on the "Start" button. If you see "Open All Users" rather than just "Open," the account is in the Local Administrators group.

Manual!Manual! My Kingdom for a Manual!
Have you had an instant when you had a question or a problem with one of your 21st century electronic gadgets and the dog ate the manual? Have no fear bunky, SmartComputing to the rescue! Go to http://www.retrevo.com/samples/index.html.

What's in Your Wallet?
Credit Cards

While two credit cards might act and look alike, levels of consumer protection that each type of credit card provides can be different. Under federal law, if someone steals your credit card you're only responsible to pay the first $50 of unauthorized charges. However, if you notify the credit card issuer before a thief is able to make any charges, you may be free from all liability. If the credit card is not physically present when an unauthorized or fraudulent purchase is made (such as over the Internet), you're also free from liability for those charges.

MasterCard and Visa offer zero-liability protection where you don't have to pay any charges if someone uses your credit card to make an unauthorized purchase. Many credit cards offer additional benefits and supply a yearly summary of your spending.

Debit Cards
A debit card is a direct key to your bank account. The protection offered for debit card fraud is similar to credit cards but with a few exceptions. For example, your liability under federal law is limited to $50, the same as for a credit card, but only if you notify the issuer within two business days of discovering the card's loss or theft. Your liability for debit card fraud can jump up to $500 if you don't report the loss or theft within that time.

Debit cards provide a direct pass to you bank account. You may also face cash flow problems and bounced-check fees when thieves clean out your bank accounts.

If you are the type of person who gives a passing glance to your monthly bank statement, you could be totally liable for any fraudulent debit card charges if you wait 60 days or more from the time your statement is mailed.

Visa and MasterCard zero-liability protection applies to your debit card with them but only for transactions that do not involve the use of your PIN (personal identification number).

Additional protection against fraudulent use of your credit or debit cards may be available through your homeowner's or renter's insurance. Check your policy or with your agent for more information about your coverage.

You should avoid using your debit card for any online purchase or for things which are expensive. Why? The main reason is that it is much easier to dispute a charge when you use your credit card. If the gold-plated, limited-edition, hip-swinging Elvis wall clock arrives broken, your credit card company will remove the charge until the problem is resolved. With your debit card you are stuck dealing with the merchant directly to resolve any problems with a purchase. Don’t fall for rumors about not signing your cards—all banks insist that you are much safer signing your cards immediately upon receiving them.

Just to make sure that you have all the necessary information should you become a victim of stolen or lost cards and other important documents:
1. Empty your wallet.
2. Place all your credit/debit cards and important documents on your scanner or copying machine.
3. Make copies of your cards, front and back.
4. Place the copy in a safe place: a safety deposit box, fire safe, or even your refrigerator is better than a desk drawer (in case of fire, the chances for survival of contents in your refrigerator are pretty good).
5. Check your wallet periodically. Thieves often steal just one credit card to make sure that you don’t notice it's gone. By the time you notice, it's too late.

NOTE: When you give your card to a person to pay a bill, make sure that when you get it back it's your card and not an expired card belonging to someone else!

One last precaution: NEVER carry your Social Security card around with you.

The Third Generation of USB
Many of you recall the old USB (Universal Serial Bus) 1.1. Its time passed when the much faster USB 2.0 was invented—it’s the USB we all use now to connect our peripherals (mouses, printers, flash drives, etc.).

Last November we were given some good news: Good news #1: by 2010 we will be able to buy USB 3.0.
Good news #2: it will be 10 times faster than USB 2.0 and it will feature improved power efficiency.
Good news #3: USB 3.0 will be backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices, which means that we will have time to upgrade our peripheral devices when we are ready.

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