January 16, 2010 Meeting; Presentation: Windows Home Server, Presenter: Paul Weeks

Now that I’m back from a few days vacation, I’m catching up with writing some notes from our club meeting held on January 16. Bear with me; I’ll try to decipher what we said. But even before I do that, let me express my disappointment that the hotel where we stayed still wanted to charge for internet access. All hotels are totally wired and internet access should be available free to guests, not for a per hour charge or a per day charge. I much prefer the chains, such as the Hilton hotel chain, that provide codes for free internet access when you check in, whether you ask for it or not! This should be standard, but it isn’t. But, back to the notes from our club meeting.

Lon Hosford, President, said he put pictures on the hunterdoncomputerclub.org website of the breakfast meeting held on October 17. Go to the website and click on the Photos link to see those pictures and more.

A few of the members wondered whether or not it might be possible to videotape the presentations made at the club and post them on YouTube. Lon said a team of club members have agreed to collaborate to see if the presentations could be videotaped and posted. Stay tuned, this might be coming in the future. Others suggested we add links on our web page to interesting articles, websites, and videos.

You can go to Yahoo Groups, the Hunterdon Computer Club group, to see the messages posted by the group and to send a message to other members. If you still need help to sign up, just ask John Gbur for help.

Members suggested that a simple way to keep track of the many passwords that a person may need is to keep the passwords in a file on their computer. This password file can be encrypted and the encrypted file can be copied to a flash drive so it can be used at computers away from home. If the file is encrypted, there is no danger if the flash drive is lost. Another suggestion was to add a Note Pad file with the owner’s name and contact information on the flash drive so it can be returned if lost. Or, the passwords can be arranged in the file on your computer so you can just print out a small list to keep with you if you are traveling or plan to use a computer away from home.

It was also suggested that you use a U3 compatible flash drive. This type of flash drive, made by SanDisk, has its own applications on it and many more can be downloaded from the U3 website. Check out this website, http://software.u3.com/SoftwareCentral.aspx?skip=1 , for more information and applications.

Q&A (a brief summary since many questions were asked)

Q: A friend experienced a problem with Windows 7 not being able to open files. What can she do?
A: You can download a free utility from Microsoft to use to open Office 2003 to 2007 Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

Q: How do you clean the hard drive before disposing of your computer?
A: Killdisk software will overwrite all information on your hard drive, but there is no turning back once you activate the software. A free version of Killdisk can be downloaded at http://www.killdisk.com/ . Or, you can use a large hammer!

Q: I am annoyed by the new Yahoo general page. It is very frustrating.
A: Do not use the Yahoo main page. Set up and open Yahoo at a MyYahoo page instead.

Q: What is the Add-On Manager?
A: The Add-On Manager is part of IE and Firefox. This software allows you to look at what things have been added to your browsers by third-party providers, such as extra toolbars and search providers. Disable those that you don’t want to use to speed up your browser.

Q: What is an MP4 player?
A: An MP4 player is a portable media player. It is the successor to the MP3 player. The MP4 is a container format, allowing a combination of audio, video, and pictures. You can download many videos in the MP4 format to use with your player.

Presentation: Windows Home Server, Presenter: Paul Weeks (The club website was not updated to show this presentation was the one scheduled.)
Paul was looking for a way to back up his very extensive family pictures and financial files that he wanted to be sure were never destroyed. Because he has several computers at home used by several people in his home, Paul needed a system that would backup files from each of his computers simply and automatically without constant interaction by him.

Paul purchased a home server system that consists of a box containing five internal hard drives powered by software from Microsoft. There is no DVD/CD drive or monitor, keyboard or mouse. Storage in these home servers can be 600 GB or more depending on what is purchased. The computers need to be wireless or connected to the Ethernet. The home server requires only a power cord and an Ethernet connection to work.

This home server is primarily used to back up the content of Paul’s computers’ hard drives. It can easily restore the content of the hard drives when a failure occurs. It can recover files that were mistakenly deleted and it can function as a media server for photos, music, videos, and data with access from any computer, locally or over the internet. Basically, it creates files accessible to various computers that take up a lot of space. The server can only accommodate access by 10 computers.

Access to the Windows Home Server is through the console. The console provides access to the functions that allow him to monitor the backup and the server backs up each hard driver separately. Paul makes duplicate copies of his photos and data for added protection. The user must have a password in order to access the system. Windows will allow the user to choose the options for the computers and back up pages. Folders can be added for special purposes that can be accessed from any computer in the house. Folders on the system can be protected.

The MS Window Home Server software sells for about $100. The box for the server unit costs about $300 to $800 depending on the server’s capability and storage capacity. Electrical power for the server can vary from $2 a month to $10-20 a month in California.

The only concern was that hard drives may crash and all the data could be lost. Even with all the files duplicated on a second, or even third, hard drive there is still a risk. It was suggested that the data should be burned onto gold covered disks for archival storage. These disks are uneditable, unerasable and are guaranteed to safely store digital information for 300 years. But no one has tested that 300 year guarantee yet!

Thanks, Paul, for bringing this home server information to the club’s attention.

Presentation: Internet Radio, Presenter: Bruce Arnold
Bruce was the lucky recipient of an internet radio for Christmas because of the poor radio reception where he lives. These radios start at $150 and are made by Logitech. They are not widely available in stores but can be purchased on the internet on the Best Buy or Amazon websites. With these radios, you have access to the whole world of internet radio stations. Bruce’s model has a small video screen and still pictures are displayed. There are also many other applications available with the radio. Because of time, this presentation was cut short, but Bruce will tell us more about this radio at another meeting.