Category Archives: General

General catch all

October 15 Mtg., Breakfast at Country Griddle

The club held its fourth annual club breakfast at the Clinton Country Griddle in Clinton. Our membership continues to grow and 27 members attended. The group enjoyed socializing with the other members and talking at length about their jobs, the computer experiences and general social and news topics. A few pictures were taken at the breakfast by the members. Look for the pictures posted on our Picasa photo site.

While at the breakfast, Perry Snyder shared some information on add-ons for the FireFox browser to stop ads showing up while browsing the internet. Ghostery, 2.3.1. identifies and allows you to block the 3rd parties web bugs that are hidden. Others he recommends are Adblock Plus 1.2.2., and Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper 1.0.6, which helps you create element hiding rules for Adblock Plus to fight the text ads. For more information on these add-ons, look for Perry at our next meeting.

The next club meeting will be held on Saturday, November 19, at our usual place, the Hunterdon Medical Center. A presentation is scheduled to be given by John Warsinski.

December 18, 2010 Meeting, Presentation, Oscilloscope Demo, Glynn Gillette, Presenter

Although this overview of the December club meeting is very late, I thought, better late than never. This meeting was our holiday celebration and many people brought delicious baked goods, cookies, deviled eggs, and fruit for all to enjoy, and this was in addition to our usual bagels and coffee. What a wonderful treat for all to share. Thanks to all who brought something and to those who set up the treats and cleaned up afterwards.

First, please note that upcoming meetings in 2011 will be held in the auditorium at the Hunterdon Medical Center as we have in the past.

A discussion took place about eReaders to find out what our members thought and what experiences they had with digital readers. Some commented that although paper books are easier to use, the Kindle was good to have. It has good visibility and portability and can connect through WiFi to Amazon free. EBooks can be purchased on Amazon and downloaded to the Kindle.

The iPad allows connection to the internet and has better legibility. The Kindle is smaller and lighter and a wide variety of books are available for it and some are free.

There are two distinctive readers at this time. One is a computer screen that is backlit and has graphics; the second is electronic paper with no backlight and is in black and white.

There is software to convert eBooks from one reader to another.

eBooks are available at the county library that can be downloaded, converted, and sent to your Kindle or eReader.

A member also discussed a problem he had when paying bills on line. When trying to pay his bills on line he found that his bank account had been closed. After investigating into the problem with his bank he found that electronic payments and deposits don’t count as activity on the account. His account was noted as dormant and it became inactive and his electronic bill payments did not go through.   He found that deposits over $1 were required to be made to the account on a regular basis to keep it active on bank records. Once that was done, his account was reinstated and he was able to continue paying bills on line. His experience was helpful to all of us to make us aware that we need to understand our bank’s requirements as we use internet transactions more and more.

Presentation: A Fun Voice and Vision Oscilloscope Demo, by Glynn Gillette

Glynn has been kind enough to share his broad knowledge of electricity and his past experiences with the club. This time he brought in an oscilloscope to show us and to explain its use. Much of his talk was about Tesla who worked with Thomas Edison. Tesla worked on the development of alternating current against the wishes of Edison who preferred direct current. It became a big disagreement between the two as to which was better, AC or DC.

The oscilloscope is a testing instrument that is used to diagnose problems in telephone switching systems, relay systems, and electronic systems. It traces out the voltage and displays it on a screen. With the use of this oscilloscope, problems in the electrical relay could be found and corrected. Thank you to Glynn who explained the background and history of Tesla and his work with alternating electrical current and described how the oscilloscope works.  He brought one from home to show us and to demonstrate how it is used.

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.