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January-March 2007

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2007 APCUG Annual Conference Notes
By Chuck Davis, Editor & Webmaster
Sun City Anthem Computer Club, Las Vegas, Nevada

The past week has been a busy, and satisfying period. It all began with a cool and airy drive in my Miata to the Riviera Hotel and Casino early Friday morning, January 5. Of course the top was down! What else? It was reasonably comfortable with a hat, and my ADOBE jacket that I had been the lucky winner of at last year’s conference. The conference concluded with Sunday’s breakfast; calories were available in great abundance at all meals.

Volunteers!

Everywhere you look there are hoards of volunteers that make things happen for others: here in our community, in our Computer Club, and the men and women that make the Association of Personal Computer Users Group (APCUG) a success. Within APCUG is another small group that made the 2007 APCUG Annual Conference an outstanding event. I thank them all.

Thanks to these Annual Sponsors for their past and future support: Corel, Microsoft, CompUSA, and Grisoft.

Friday, January 5

Breakfast was sponsored by Grisoft. Grisoft is based in the Czech Republic. James Gildea, VP, North American Market, made an excellent presentation on their company’s products and market thrust. They were the first to offer free antivirus and anti-spyware protection from Windows Security Center in Windows Vista. Both of these free products update automatically and run on your current operating system. http://free.grisoft.com/doc/1

There were eight Educational Sessions offered that morning. I attended those sessions that I felt would provide the background for articles in future editions of our newsletter. The Friday morning sessions that I attended were:

“Hackers are Changing the Face of ID Theft,” presented by Elaine Bryskar. She discussed the decline of virus infections over the past two years, and the greater threats to our personal information through pretexting, child ID theft, medical ID theft, phishing, cyberstalking, and more. She stated that Symantec reported “more than 59 million (cyberassault) attempts came from North America alone during the previous 24 hours of monitoring.” She emphasized the importance of being aware of our computer’s exposure and to be proactive in your preventive measures.

“Record Practically Anything that Streams,” presented by Leslie Bee and Debbie McCormick. The products demonstrated were Replay A/V, Replay Music, and Replay Screencast. Replay A/V is used to save all types of online media. You can record almost any streaming audio and video instantaneously.

Replay Music is a unique streaming music recorder that captures MP3 files from any streaming source.

Replay Screencast is an easy way to capture whatever you see on your monitor’s screen and turn it into a video file.

These products are from Applian Technologies. http://www.applian.com/

Lunch was sponsored by Panda Software. Panda Software is based in Bilbao, Spain and is a leader in preventive technologies. These technologies include protection against viruses, spyware, hackers, spam and other Internet threats. Ryan Sherstobitoff presented an overview of their products and, more importantly, his company’s approach to designing security infrastructures. http://www.pandasoftware.com/

Afternoon activities were a break from the Educational Sessions. I took time to visit the Corel Photo gallery in the Capri 105 room. The gallery was open through Saturday so that all could view the photos submitted by members of APCUG User Groups. I didn’t count the number of entries but Category A’s 3rd place winner was number 80. All were numbered to keep the submitter’s name confidential until judging and voting was complete. Sun City Anthem Computer Club member Mel Wittenstein took 1st place for his photo titled “No Cameras Please.” http://www.apcug.net/events/conference07/winners/apcug2006photowinners.html

The Vendor Forum followed. It is an event in which the vendors can express their needs and expectations of the attendees. The Vendor’s must justify to their organizations the monies that are spent at the conference. Their requests were simple - provide feedback thanking their companies for their participation. I left the session with the feeling that we should help ensure that the sponsors receive a return for their efforts.

Next on the agenda, CompUSA presented what I call an “open kimono” session, where Michael Johnson, their National Sales Manager openly discussed some of their shortcomings in dealing with customers and their approach towards resolving the issues. The one practice that I personally dislike is the mail-in rebate program. I stood at the microphone to ask why they continued what I consider a turn-off. The party that preceded me at the microphone complemented them on their use of the mail-in rebates. I sat down without speaking!

For a sumptuous buffet dinner we relocated to the Top of the Riv for the Vendor Faire sponsored by CompUSA. The Vendor Faire found the attendees visiting various vendor tables discussing their products. It was very rewarding as most individuals were well versed in their product’s capabilities.

Saturday, January 6

After another drive to the Riviera, I left the Miata with the Valet and headed to the Grande A Ballroom for breakfast sponsored by Corel. Their presentation revealed that these folks have developed a great many products, and have acquired other companies and breathed new life into all of these company’s products. They range from well known WordPerfect to WinZip. In addition there are DVD makers, HD DVD authoring, navigation and playback products.

Following Corel’s presentation, I attended the “Podcasting Workshop” presented by Dan Hanson. That session was followed by Microsoft’s Gary Moulton, Senior Bundle Product Manager, presenting “Windows Vista Accessibility.” Gary was manager of Microsoft’s Assistive Technology Vendor Program. Of the 30 or more attendees, it was soon obvious from the questions that they were asking that they didn’t understand the term “accessibility.” After Microsoft’s Sheri Sullivan explained that it was the process of making the computer accessible to all who desire to use it, no matter how debilitating their handicap, Gary was then able to continue providing a great tour of Windows Vista’s Ease of Access Center. The center is the one-stop component for all of the accessible-related features built into the operating system. Most of the functions are available in Windows XP, but are difficult for even the well-versed user to find, let alone the individual attempting to find the functions. He quoted a surprising statistic—67% of folks between the ages of 24 and 55 reported in a survey that they need one or another form of function to ease their access to their computer. The Ease of Access center is easily reached by closing all programs and then holding the Windows key + U. Windows Vista Accessibility tutorials are available at: http://www.micro soft.com/enable/training/windowsvista/

Today’s superb lunch was sponsored by the APCUG itself. In the afternoon, I attended another security session by Larry Bridwell of Grisoft presenting “The PC Crime-Ware Epidemic.” The underlying theme of all of the “security” presentations centered around the recognition of the trend from the virus writers fading away because they couldn’t make money while doing harm to computer systems. They are now turning to human engineering to extract money from the unsuspecting or slightly greedy user that hopes to make it rich. Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs up to date. Set them to automatically update! http://free.grisoft.com/doc/1

“Getting Ready for Windows Vista” was presented by Gene Barlow. He stressed the magnitude of the changes in the system, probably the most significant since Windows 95 was introduced. He described the process of partitioning your hard drive, moving your data to a “data” partition, then installing Windows Vista in a new partition. This would allow the installation without disturbing your existing Windows XP system. You can start the computer in either Windows Vista or Windows XP and your data files are available to both versions. This process will enable a safe and effective manner.

Gene stressed the need to backup the data (images, letters, etc.) before you start any of the upgrade process. Backup means to copy the data to an external disk drive. This should be a normal weekly task. I know from my “house calls” experience that this is seldom a practice.

With the added function that will be included, I will state that you will need more hard drive capacity and RAM memory than you ever thought to really experience the advances that they have created. After listening to Gene, I decided that I would not attempt to upgrade my existing PC to Windows Vista. The functions that are offered require more than I care to install. Rather, I would buy a new computer with two large hard drives and no less than 2GB RAM.

Gene is well known by many of our club members. He and his wife Linda have presented his product lines at Sun City Anthem several times.

Dinner was provided by a long time supporter of APCUG—none other than Microsoft. Preceding the dinner was an overview of the products that Microsoft is introducing for 2007. The presentations showing the new features of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and the gaming facilities further reinforced my belief that the benefits can only be gained with a computer with lots of RAM and hard drive space. What the heck, it’s cheap!

After dinner we again returned to the Top of the Riv to attend the Friends of APCUG reception.

When I left and walked to the Valet station to retrieve the Miata, I reached into my pocket to get the ticket and felt my keys! I approached the attendant and very sheepishly apologized for my action. He informed me that they had towed the car to a garage in Henderson. Good grief! What a towing bill! What a cab ride? Why couldn’t they have towed it to their lot? While looking around for some sympathy or whatever, I saw the car parked a few feet from the entrance. They had easily put it in neutral and pushed it out of their way. The attendant really had me going for a while. I doubled my usual tip! I drove home very happy.

Sunday, January 7

Once again, I left the Miata at the Valet station making certain that I left the keys in the car.

Breakfast was sponsored by AMD. Their opening page in the PowerPoint presentation, summarized their presentation completely. I feel that this presentation was the highlight of the conference. The speakers were dynamic and so are their products. The AMD 64 pro vides support for both 32- and 64-bit applications, with 2000MHz system bus. They have eliminated the front side bus for increased efficiency and scalability. AMD processors combined with the ATI Radeon graphics processors deliver performance and visual/informational experience for a world-class Windows Vista experience.

The attendees now returned to the Top of the Riv for a brief and informative APCUG Annual Meeting. It was immediately followed by the Jerry Awards presentations. These awards are presented to the clubs that are involved in community service activities, in several categories. Prizes range from $1,500 for 1st Place to $250 for Honorable Mention. http://www.apcug.net/community_service/jerry2006/jerrys2006winners.html

Some final prizes were distributed and the APCUG Conference was officially closed.