Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Many (Un)Happy Returns

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 8, #68 - Apr 28, 2009 - Issue #376

 Many (Un)Happy Returns

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Many (Un)Happy Returns
    • Follow-up: Electronics photo safety
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Is XP good enough?
    • "XP Mode" for Windows 7
    • Yahoo shuts down Geocities
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to remove Antispyware XP 2009
    • How to get rid of the Remote Desktop title bar
  5. XP Security News
    • RSA: The latest security threats
    • Cybergang operates bot network with almost 2 million infected computers
  6. XP Question Corner
    • I have slides instead of photo prints - how do I scan them?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Private key isn't copied when you use Certificates snap-in
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • WhiteSmoke: The # 1 English Grammar & Writing Software!

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200 !

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

 Editor's Corner

Many (Un)Happy Returns

In past editorials, we've addressed the question of whether 'tis nobler (or at least more effective) to buy a computer from a vendor or build it yourself. Each time I've admitted that my last few systems have been Dells, some readers have chided me for "wasting" money by not making it a DIY project. Another topic we've covered here involved whether to buy electronics online or from local bricks and mortar stores. Each time I mention getting something from Fry's, I inevitably get a few responses pointing out that I could have gotten better prices from various online outlets and saved the time and gasoline required to drive to the store.

All of that's very true, but there's another side to the story. Last week, I was reminded of one of the reasons I stopped building my own computers, and at the same time I remembered why I often pay a little extra to buy from a local store. I ordered all the parts from NewEgg to build a fast Nehalem-based machine for my son: Lian Li case, Asus P6T motherboard, Core i7 processor, 6 GB DDR3 RAM, Intel Solid State Drive, Western Digital 1 TB SATA drive. When the boxes arrived, he was excited about putting it together. The first disappointment came when we discovered that the SATA drive was missing. We checked to be sure it wasn't shipped separately; nope, it was supposed to be in this box, but it was nowhere to be found.

I fired off a message to NewEgg's customer service address, but he didn't want to have to wait around for another one to be sent, so he went to Fry's and picked up one there, for about $20 more than the NewEgg price. I told NewEgg to go ahead and send the one we'd paid for, as we can always use more hard drive space. The extra twenty bucks was worth it to my son, to be able to get his new computer up and running sooner.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. When he got back with the hard drive and got it all put together, there was a problem. It didn't work. He's built many systems and he tried every troubleshooting technique possible, but from all indications, the motherboard was just dead. We started reading reviews and discovered that although the board had received many five-egg reviews, there were also a significant number of reviewers who reported that the board arrived DOA and had to be replaced. Ouch.

So we started the RMA process and shipped it back (having to pay $9.95 for the shipping), and he's still waiting for the replacement. If he'd bought the board at Fry's, it would have cost $10 more - but wait, we had to pay $10 to ship back the defective board. More importantly, he could have taken it back and gotten a replacement the same day.

Meanwhile, NewEgg had promptly shipped a new SATA hard drive - except that instead of shipping it to the shipping address of the original order, they shipped it to another address that was associated with my account, that of a friend of mine for whom I'd bought a hard drive as a gift a few months before. Not a huge big deal, but the bottom line is that, a week later, we still don't have the motherboard or the new hard drive.

Now I'm not ragging on NewEgg here. Mistakes happen. Products are sometimes defective. They seem to be trying to make things right. Buying a fully assembled computer from a major hardware vendor carries no guarantees; sometimes those don't work, either. But the two times that's happened with one of our Dells, they've had someone out here the next day to fix it. Still, you definitely pay a premium for that. I checked out a Dell with specs that were roughly equivalent to those of the computer that my son is building, and the price was over $1000 more. Whether it's worth it depends on a lot of things, including how much your time is worth.

The bad news is that, based on anecdotal evidence I'm hearing from readers and friends, the instance of failures for both pre-built machines and individual components seems to be increasing - and customer service on all fronts seems to be going downhill. What has your experience been on that front? Is it worth it to you to pay a little more and buy parts locally so you can get a quick turnaround if something doesn't work? Is it worth a lot more to skip the DIY and buy systems that come with a warranty from a major manufacturer? Which retailers - online or local - have provided you with the best service? Any nightmares to share? Let us know at feedback@wxpnews.com

Follow-up: Electronics photo safety

The amount of reader mail we've been getting has dwindled somewhat over the last couple of months. The last week, I talked about how photography is moving slowly but surely away from prints toward digital images, and how we can keep those electronic photos safe. Wow - the subject must have resonated, because the mail volume for this week more than tripled. It seems quite a few of you have undertaken the project of scanning your family photos.

Many of you, however, are not at all confident of the safety of digital pictures. Gregory T. wrote, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: 2,000 years old. Egyptian Hieroglyphs: 5,000 years old. The Cave Drawings at Chauvet, FR: 30,000 years old. Watching my wife frantically rip the batteries out of her camera, because she accidentally said 'Yes' to 'Are you sure you want to delete ALL stored pictures?': Timeless. Christmas 2008 has been wiped from the annals of human history. I can't prove it ever existed."

Walt W. says, "The best long term storage available is still acid free paper be it text or picture. Well maybe clay tablet or carved in stone can beat it." However, those paper photos aren't always safe, either. As Bryan L. reminds us: "I started scanning family photos and wasn't in a hurry. Katrina came along, I live in New Orleans, over half are lost forever. Please don't make my mistake and think there's no deadline. Anything can happen."

We also got a number of recommendations from readers for how to cost effectively print your pictures. Dr. Ron W. said, "I use Epson Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper, which is the same weight (27#) and feel of ordinary paper (feeds through my Brother printer where glossy won't)(Brother has a 180 degree bend of 2" radius, and glossy paper don't do that!). It produces a print better than most glossy prints, and doesn't cost near as much. (Cat #S041062) Ink? I buy from TylerMartin.com and have for years. In over 1000 carts, I've never had a bad one. They even send cleaning carts if you need them, free. And at 1/6 the price of name-brand, printing 8x10s is quite inexpensive."

Here's a different issue, brought up by John C.: "Our wedding photographer joined Facebook. We cautioned him against uploading his work directly to FB, as the site is one with an "overly broad" usage rule; we didn't want him to lose rights to his own creative work (or to see our wedding pictures show up in FB ads without getting paid for it!)." While Facebook's new ToS makes it clear that you own the copyright to your content that you post there, you are correct that by "publishing" the photos on the web (including on your own web page, not just a social networking site), you effectively lose the ability to sell "first rights" to that content. As for using your photos in ads, you can select not to allow that in the Settings for your Facebook account. Unfortunately, many people don't go through the privacy settings and configure them to protect themselves and their content.

Finally, Brenda L. makes a very good point: "Archiving is important; however, one has to be selective about what digital files one wants to archive. I've taken tons of digital pictures because "they don't cost anything"--not until you have to store or print them that is. It is sometimes hard to push the delete button, but I just have to bite the bullet and do it. Otherwise, I'll be leaving my son the same kind of "suitcase of old photos"...just in another form."

Thanks to all of you who wrote on this subject!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called VistaNews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Look up the WXPnews Fan Page and join us on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continuously fearing you will make one. - Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. - George Washington (1732 - 1799)

Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length. - Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


I need a REAL program for autofilling my passwords and shipping info - not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

If you have any iPod/iPhone device, this software is a 'must have' utility to keep your iPod/iPhone safe. Download the free trial version here.

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective

Turn your webcam into a CCTV with alarm and email notification! Try it before you buy it:

Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!

Vista gets bogged down very quickly! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

Backups? GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

Print Screen Deluxe is the realistic upgrade of the Windows version. You can crop - before the capture! Very quick!

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Is XP good enough?

Obviously there are many computer users out there who think it is. Last month, Paul Thurrott took a look at XP SP3 and its "standing in the Windows world." He points out that precisely because it's been around for so long, the OS has had a chance to mature in a way that no other version of Windows ever did. But is it good enough for you to stick with it once Windows 7 is released? Read more here:

"XP Mode" for Windows 7

Tempted by all the great things you've heard about Windows 7, but afraid some of the applications you're running in XP won't work with the new OS? We reported a few weeks back in our sister publication, VistaNews, that there are at least 30 old apps that didn't work with Vista but do work on Win 7. However, if one of your favorite applications is incompatible with Windows 7, you may be interested in "XP Mode" or "Virtualized XP," which is reported to be a free add-on that will let you run an XP VM on Windows 7 (without having to buy an XP license). Right now, the rumors are flying and we don't know exactly how it will be implemented or whether it will be available for everyone who installs the supported editions of Windows 7 (Business, Enterprise or Ultimate). We'll keep you posted as we learn more. Meanwhile, read about it here:

Yahoo shuts down Geocities

Wow - I remember Geocities. I had a website there back in 1995. That was a few years before we started hosting our web sites on our own servers - and a few years before Yahoo! bought Geocities in 1999, but $3.6 billion. After ten years of ownership, the company has announced that they're shutting down the web hosting site later this year. Apparently Facebook and MySpace did it in. Even though design tools make it much easier to create a Geocities site than it was back when I had to code and upload the HTML in the 90s, it's still not as user friendly as the popular social networking sites. Read more about the site's demise here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to remove Antispyware XP 2009

Sounds like a useful program, doesn't it? But Antispyware 2009 is actually a fake antispyware program, an example of "scareware" that's designed to trick you into buying their product. Get more information about Antispyware XP 2009 here:

How to get rid of the Remote Desktop title bar

If you like to use the full screen view when you connect to another computer with the Remote Desktop Connection, you might want to get rid of the RDC title bar that shows up when your mouse pointer finds its way over the top center of the screen. To prevent it from showing up, perform these steps:
  1. Before connecting, in the RDC dialog box, click the Options button.
  2. Click the Display tab.
  3. Clear the box labeled "Display the Connection Bar when in Full Screen Mode."
  4. Click OK.

 XP Security News

RSA: The latest security threats

The annual RSA conference is billed as the world's largest information security conference. RSA 2009 took place in San Francisco last week and, as might be expected, there was plenty of talk about the latest threats, including Conficker, wireless and VoIP attacks, and browser hijacking. Interestingly, one of the highlighted attacks was described as difficult to execute in XP, but relatively easy in Vista and Windows 7. Read more here:

Cybergang operates bot network with almost 2 million infected computers

According to security company Finjan.com, a huge botnet has been discovered that consists of 1.9 million infected systems controlled by cybercriminals. In all likelihood, the owners of most of those computers have no idea that they're participating in this criminal activity. Read more here:

 XP Question Corner

I have slides instead of photo prints - how do I scan them?

I have several boxes of slides that I would somehow like to scan, I have a flat bed scanner but have been unsuccessful getting them to scan, any Ideas? - Pete

Normally, you need something called a Transparent Media Adapter or Transparent Materials Adapter (TMA) to scan transparent pictures like slides and negatives. Here's a "how to" from HP, using one of their TMA-equipped scanners:

Unfortunately, a TMA can be somewhat expensive. It is possible to scan slides on a regular flatbed scanner with a homemade back lighter. Here's an article detailing how to make one; it was written back in 1999, but the method still works:

An even easier method is to use a fluorescent flashlight, although the results may not be as even:

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Private key isn't copied when you use Certificates snap-in

If you use the Certificates MMC snap-in in XP Home or Pro to copy a certificate together with a private key from the local user store to the local computer store, you may find that the private key doesn't get copied. Luckily, there is a workaround for this problem. You can find the step by step instructions in KB article 939616 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

WhiteSmoke: The # 1 English Grammar & Writing Software!

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 About WXPnews

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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.