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APCUG Reports
July-September 2007

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Region 1
(CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT)
by Sam Wexler, Advisor
swexler@apcug.net

Help the Kids
Business & Professional Micro User Group,
West Hartford, CT
http://www.bpmug.org/

The Charter Oak Cultural Center located in Hartford, is a nonprofit, multi-cultural arts center committed to giving access to the arts to all people and doing the work of social justice.

They have a number of computers they would like to donate to the kids in their after school program. However, these computers require a little refurbishing. They must be cleaned and an operating system installed on them.

BPMUG has been asked to provide assistance in this most worthwhile project. If you are willing to participate, please call 561-8511 or email to msil@comcast.net

Don't throw away your XP computer just yet!
Connecticut PC Users Group, Norwalk
http://www.ctpc.org/

First Walt Graham showed us some free utilities to make Windows XP more functional. Then Jim Sullivan showed us more ways to optimize XP by looking at the many processes and services which Windows starts automatically, and reveal which of these you need, and which can be turned off to speed up your machine.

He showed some programs and web sites that describe what these processes and services are doing to help us decide which of them are just slowing us down.

The Technology and Uses of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Danbury Area Computer Society
http://www.dacs.org/

The Technology and Uses of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) by Dr. Paul Moskowitz with Chris Novell. Are you using Radio frequency identification? If you have an E-ZPass, you are. And if you don’t have an E-ZPass, chances are that you are making use of or benefiting from RFID some other way. RFID is a simple wireless technology in which RFID tags and readers exchange information; usually the tag sends its ID number to the reader upon request. The simplest passive tags have no batteries or transmitters. The tags receive their energy to operate from the radio signal sent by the reader. They communicate with the reader by reflecting the received radio wave back to the reader. The reflected wave is modulated by the tag in order to communicate the ID number of the tag.

Dr. Moskowitz discussed the technology behind RFID and how it works. He showed examples of RFID tags and discuss how RFID is used for consumer and industrial applications. Some of the uses include electronic credit cards, pet identification and location, present and future uses of RFID for retail businesses, and privacy implications of the technology. RFID tags may be viewed as electronic bar codes. However, the semiconductor chip which lies at the heart of the tag opens more applications. For example, many billions of dollars of counterfeit pharmaceuticals are sold each year. Losses in human suffering go beyond the monetary losses. Since each RFID tag may be made to be unique, RFID offers a method of authentication to help fight counterfeiting.

Why a Firewall?
Hartford User Group Exchange
http://www.huge.org/

When you connect your computer to the Internet, you have opened a door which invites any other computer in the world to come in. Actually, you have more than 65,000 doors into your computer, any one of which may be open. That is, unless you have taken steps to keep these doors closed. That is the purpose of a firewall. The firewall filters the information packets that show up at your “door” or computer port as we usually refer to it, and can either prevent them from entering or pass them through.

When your computer connects to the Internet, it is assigned a numeric address or IP (internet protocol) address. These addresses are a 32 bit number. They are usually written out in four groups with periods between each group as follows: 111.11.11.111. Traveling over the Internet are many programs that simply look for unprotected IP addresses. The IP address of any unprotected computer is sent back to the originator who can then upload a Trojan or spy ware package to that address. The originator can then take control of the computer, or the application can record keystrokes and send all recorded information back to the program originator.

Seeing What’s Beneath Your Photos
ICON PC User Group, Brentwood, NY
http://www.iconpcug.org/

Did you know that whenever you take a photo, an extensive list of data is also preserved with each photo? Embedded in each of your picture files are all sorts of information including the date, the type of camera, and what settings your camera used when taking the photo. When you take your photo and edit it with another program, that program also records information within the file thus leaving a trail of information. This takes place not only in photos but also in Word documents and many other types of files. This is often referred to as Meta-Data.

There are two ways you can access this data. One of them is already embedded into Microsoft’s Windows XP. Right click on any photo and go to Properties. You will see at least two tabs under Properties: General and Summary. Click on Summary. Most likely if you have never done this before, Summary will be in “simple” mode. You will see “Title”, “Subject” and “Author”. There will be a button to go to advanced mode. This is where you can see all of the data. If you are already in advanced mode, the button will then say “simple mode” to allow you to switch back and forth.

OpenOffice 2.0 and other OpenSource Software
Mid-Hudson Computer User Group, Poughkeepsie, NY
http://www.mhcug.org/

Jim Anderson from the Rockland PC User Group demonstrated the latest version of the free OpenOffice 2.0. OpenOffice includes word processing, spreadsheet, database and presentation software which can be used to perform most if not all of the functions of Microsoft's Office at a much lower price -- FREE. In addition, several other OpenSource programs were briefly described. CDs containing OpenOffice and 33 other free OpenSource programs were given out to the attendees. Hank Feinberg who runs PC ReNew described how they refurbish discarded PCs and then give them free to the needy people who can use them.

MySpace Website
The PC Users Group of Connecticut, Trumbull
http://www.tpcug-ct.org/

Robert Wannagot, Chief Probation Officer for the State of Connecticut, presented a program on the attractions and dangers of MySpace, the social networking Web Site. MySpace.com is a wildly popular web site where teens can find each other, and sometimes find trouble. You may never have heard of this site, but most kids have.

Free E-Mail Accounts
Rockland PC Users Group
http://www.rpcug.org/

All members in good standing can request a free email account bearing the RPCUG domain. Two types of accounts are available: Forwarding and POP3.

A Forwarding account will forward any e-mail received to another e-mail address of your choice. For example, mail sent to john@rpcug.org could be sent to johnjones@aol.com. If you acquire a new e-mail address, you can request that the forwarding be done to this new address. Another useful feature is to have the e-mail forwarded to multiple other e-mail addresses. For example, have the e-mail forwarded to both your personal and business addresses. If you change jobs, just request that the forwarding address be changed and all your mail will go to your personal and new business e-mail addresses.

A POP3 account is a real mailbox at our domain (rpcug.org). With this type of address, you can choose to pick up your mail anywhere that you can gain access to the Internet. You can use one of the common mail programs such as Eudora or MS Outlook to download your mail as well.

The PC Radio Show
http://www.pcradioshow.org/

Bringing you computer industry news, hardware and software reviews, guest interviews and news of User Group meetings for over 20 years, the Personal Computer Show is a three-time winner of the prestigious national Computer Press Awards.

Our co-hosts are Joe King, Hank Kee and Alfred Poor. On any given night, they may be joined by Michael Horowitz, our webmaster, Olivia Whiteman, Danny Burstein or Joanne Witt.

The show airs every Wednesday night from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST on WBAI-FM 99.5 in New York City, and is heard throughout the tri-state region. In addition, the show is streamed live over the Internet (http://www.pcradioshow.com/).

At about 8:30 you can call in and join the discussion or ask for help with any computer related question at (212) 209-2900. The gang on the show try to answer whatever questions on computers and computing you might have.