The Big Bear Computer Club Online Newsletter
— Volume 8 — Issue 3 — Bearly Bytes Online is Published on the First of Every Month —

March 2008

President’s Message

cleary3.jpgWould you say, we have had enough winter this year? Personally, I think we are ready for Spring and Summer. We had a great presentation by Jaime Link from Smart Computing at our February 12th meeting. This was followed by Jim Applebury's presentation on Routers. We all learned about our routers and how to secure them so other people could not access our computers. These were two great presentations.

Our February meeting was held at the Village Yogurt Express/Bear Coffee & More in the Village; it was well attended. This will be our alternate meeting place when the Discovery Center is not available.

Now, we are ready to start our in house computer training!!! At our March 11th general meeting, we will have our first training. You ask, "What training are you having?" That will be up to you who attend. We will have a list of training subjects that were submitted by the membership, you will then get to select what training you want for the evening. We hope to have three groups, a beginner, intermediate and advance training. We will break into 3 groups with a facilitator in each group.


February Meeting an Enjoyable Affair


A sizable and sociable crowd showed up for this event after two months without a meeting. Gathering for the first time at Ray and Norene’s pleasant cafe in the Village, everyone seemed to loosen up and enjoy themselves at this new locale. Our presenter, Jaime Link, extolled the virtues of Smart Computing Magazine, and many, including myself, were inspired to try a subscription. Afterwards, our very own Jim Applebury gave an informative talk about installing and securing wireless routers.


February Door Prize Winners


Karen Tangeman — 1 Black XL T-shirt by AMD
Nancy Hinz — Muvee 3 autoProducer
Hank Peralez — CD & DVD Maker 7 Titanium Suite By NTI
Ron Frost — Smart Computing Subscription
Dorothy Sirk — Smart Computing Slip Case
Nancy Hinz — Smart Computing T-shirt
Doug MacIver — Laptop Book
Raejean Danielson — 50/50 Winner ($38.50)

March Meeting Features New Format

The March meeting will focus primarily on learning computer usage, solving computer problems, and answering questions. This is a new meeting format, a beta release so to speak, and hopefully will be of interest and benefit to all those who attend.

At this meeting everyone will be encouraged to ask questions regarding computer usage, no matter how basic the question is. Those who are new to computing will be teamed up with someone who’s prepared to start at square one if necessary. Other groups will be put together to discuss particular aspects of computer usage, including the internet, emailing, Microsoft programs like Word and Excel, and any other thing that someone might be curious about and interested in learning.

At the end of the meeting we will have our usual RAM session where those with computer problems will have the benefit of Jim Applebury’s expertise.

It should be an interesting meeting. Everyone is welcome.

Southwest Computer Conference

This year’s Southwest Computer Conference starts in sunny San Diego on Friday, May 30th, and runs through Sunday, June 1st. This big conference features tech sessions, workshops, vender expos, hospitality suites, door prizes drawings, welcome bags, meals, and more. For a registration form and complete information about the conference and lodging, visit the conference website.

Excel Tip: Combining Cell Contents

excel.gifAt the heart of Excel is the ability to add formulas to worksheets. You use these formulas to manipulate information stored in different cells. One of the ways you can manipulate information is to combine the contents of your cells. For instance, let's assume you have a list of last names in column A, a list of first names in col­umn B, and a list of titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) in column C. If you wanted to derive a full name for these people, you could use the following formula:

=C4 & ” ” & B4 & ” ” & A4

The result of such a formula is that Excel combines the values (the names and titles) from the specified cells and places spaces between them. The ampersand character (&) is used to indicate that Excel should "add" text together to create a new text value.

Applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2007

Word Tip: Creating Custom Labels

word.gifOne of the big advantages to using standard label stock with Word is that it includes label definitions for dozens of different label types. You can often select the type of label you want to use, by number, from the Label Options dialog box.

At times, however, you may have a need to define your own label. For instance, you may have had a custom label created for your own purposes, or the label you want to use is brand new on the market and there is no definition for it within Word. If you find yourself in this situation, Word allows you complete control over setting up custom labels.

You start from the Labels tab of the Envelopes and Labels dialog box.

  • If you are using Word 97 or Word 2000, choose Envelopes and Labels from the Tools menu. Word displays the Envelopes and Labels dialog box; make sure the Labels tab is selected.
  • If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, choose Letters and Mailings from the Tools menu and then choose Envelopes and Labels. Word displays the Envelopes and Labels dialog box; make sure the Labels tab is selected.
  • If you are using Word 2007, display the Mailings tab of the ribbon. Click Labels at the left side of the ribbon, in the Create box. Word displays the Envelopes and Labels dialog box with the Labels tab already selected.

With the Labels tab of the Envelopes and Labels dialog box displayed, you are ready to follow these general steps:

  1. Click once on the label in the lower-right corner of the dialog box, or click on the Options button. Word displays the Label Options dialog box.
  2. Click on New Label. Word displays the New Custom Label dialog box.
  3. Use the controls within the dialog box to specify the exact dimensions of your labels.
  4. Use the Label Name field to specify a name for your custom label.
  5. Click on OK. The New Custom Label dialog box disappears. Note that the name of your new label appears in the Product Number list, near the top of the list. (It should be selected at this point.)
  6. Set up and print your labels as desired.

Product Review: Mailwasher Pro

Effectively Manage Useless Email

flanagan1.jpgMailwasher Pro stats indicate that since I started using it to control my spam problem years and years ago, I’ve received almost 40,000 email messages and 31,000 of them have been spam. Before Mailwasher, I would have to delete a hundred or so spam messages daily. What a pain in the arse. Now the only spam messages I see are the few Mailwasher Pro isn’t certain about, and I can batch delete worthless mails all at once with a single click. All the rest of the spam, 78% of the emails I receive, I never see. Mailwasher deals with them quietly and efficiently.

Why do I get so much spam? Because I learned the hard way that you should never put an email address on a website. At one time I did exactly that on sites I was involved with creating, and on interactive website forums and such. It doesn’t take long for harvesting software to creep through html source code and collect the ‘mailto’ or email address data. Before long your email address is on every spammer’s mailing list. Never place your email address on a website where it can be seen by the world.

Another good idea is to never use the email address given to you by your internet service provider. That email address is not easily disposable. Get yourself a free address from someplace that allows POP access so you can add it to your email client (the email program you use like Outlook or Thunderbird). Google’s gmail is a good one. Yahoo charges for POP access.
I foolishly gave my Verizon email address to close friends and family thinking it was a safe thing to do, but over time somebody’s address book got compromised, and now I even get spam at my address. Mailwasher deals with that too.

Mailwasher positions itself between your email server and your email client, quckly eliminating all mail it deems spam and only allowing you to see the mail from folks you’ve tagged as friends, or mail that appears legit to Mailwasher. If Mailwasher isn’t absolutely certain about a mail it displays, it pre-marks the mail for deletion, leaving the final decision up to you. By right-clicking on the mail header, you can make the sender a ‘friend’ or ‘blacklist’ the sender’s address. Mailwasher learns from these decisions.

Initially, Mailwasher only downloads the mail’s subject header and sender info, not the message itself. It never downloads attachments or graphics. There is an option to safely download and read the first few lines of a text message if you’re curious about its contents. Twenty lines is the default setting, which can be changed. Then, if you then want to read the whole text message, you can do that too. This is handy if the message isn’t a keeper, and you can delete it in Mailwasher after reading. If you want to quickly reply, Mailwasher will reopen it in your email client’s reply window. The remaining option is to utilize the ‘Process Mail’ function which deletes the ‘marked’ mails from your server, and then let Mailwasher open your email client so you can download the remaining ‘important’ emails as you would normally do. Or you can close Mailwasher and leave the good messages on your email server to be dealt with at a later time.

Perhaps this sounds like just an additional bother while checking your email, but if spam has become a significant annoyance, I’m certain you will grow to love this program in no time at all. I have webmail accounts with Yahoo and Google, and they both have good spam filters that I choose not to enable. I prefer to let Mailwasher handle all spam filtering because it does it so well, and I never have to go to Google or Yahoo to check my ‘bulk mail’ folders for messages that were actually important for me to receive.

It’s been years since I initially installed Mailwasher Pro, but I believe getting it set up was a no-brainer. It pretty much works right ‘out-of-the-box’ so to speak. You need only enter the basic POP mail access info for your accounts, much like setting up an email client, only simpler. If you want the ability to recover the first twenty lines of those occasional mails you might delete accidentally, you’ll also have to add the SMTP info for your ISP. There are many additional settings available with the program, most of them easy to learn filtering capabilities, but most would probably not need to take advantage of them.

If you only have a single email account, Mailwasher has a free version that has enough features to be very handy. Mailwasher Pro handles multiple email accounts and has more features. I recommend the reasonably priced Pro version.

Retail Price: $37 with FREE lifetime upgrades.
Download a trial, or get the free edition for single email POP accounts.

Works in POP3, AOL, MSN, IMAP, and is Vista compatible.

Bill Flanagan

Bill maintains the Club’s website, and has been using computers since the birth of desktop publishing.

Club Member Product Review Program

tangeman.jpgInstead of listing a few review programs that are available, I would like to inform you that any program you are interested in and would like to install on your computer is probably available for review. All you have to do is ask for it and review it. The program could be on landscaping, any kind of crafts, digital photos, video, any kind of home decorating, games, office or accounting programs, gift cards, label, and printshop programs, any program you are interested in having. All you have to do is let me know which program you would like to review. I will then contact the vendor and it takes about 10 days to receive the program. Sometimes the vendor will grant the reviewer a license online and all the reviewer has to do is download the program. Reviews are not hard to write; in fact they are quite easy. You are given instructions on how to write a review plus I have many samples you can look at. Also if you need any help all you have to do is e-mail or call me. Writing a review is like telling someone about the new program you just received. You tell them what you like about the program, what you don't like, and how the program could be better, that's it. There's your review. And you can review books, also.

Karen Tangeman, Review Editor

For Computer Game Players

Hi everyone, I know that we have some members in our club who are avid game players. Here at BBCC we have many games that are up for review. Microsoft has many games for the PC and is just waiting for you to request one. The list of Microsoft games are:

Age of Empires III
Age of Empires Gold
Age of Mythology Gold
Combat Flight Simulator 3
Dungeon Siege 2
Halo for the PC
Fable The Lost Chapters DVD
Flight Sim 2004 Century of Flight
Flight Sim X

If Microsoft has a game that is not on this list that you would like to review please let me know. Microsoft is not the only company that makes games for the PC. If there is a game you would like to review please contact me with the name and maker. Our vendors are thrilled to give out their programs for review. We let them know what's good and not so good about their products and how they can be improved. How else would the vendors know what to improve if it wasn't for the reviewer's? If you are interested in reviewing a game or any other kind of program please contact Karen Tangeman at 585-7413 or karen •

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identify theft can cost you time and money. It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name.

Here are some safeguards:

  • Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
  • Don't give out personal information on the phone through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
  • Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software to protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date
  • Don't use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number
  • Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.

BBCC February 2008 General Meeting Notes

Club President Yomar Cleary welcomed all of the members and reminded everyone to go to the Club web site to check out the Forum and the Newsletter.

She asked for a motion to reelect board members:

President - Yomar Cleary
Vice-President - Karen Tangeman
Secretary - Rosemary Lloyd
Treasurer - Barbara Moore
Director-At-Large - Rick Edwards

Yomar asked for nominations from the floor for any of the above positions, as well as for a second Director-At-Large. he then asked for a motion to approve the Board as presented. Chaz Langdon made the motion and Doug Mac Iver seconded. All approved by a show of hands.

Yomar talked about Rick Edwards' photos winning prizes at the APCUG Conference in Las Vegas. Also, the newsletter won Honorable Mention. The next user conference is in May in San Diego (Southwest Conference).

Karen talked about the review program; its features and benefits. Then she introduced Jaime from Smart Computing Magazine.

Jaime handed out packets that contain a copy of the magazine, a pen and a mouse pad. She described the layout of Smart Computing magazine. We ran through the March issue. Jaime encouraged everyone to go to Smart Computing for information and to give feedback. The Smart Computing web site has question and answer forums. There is also a lot of other useful computer related information there. Jaime reminded us that for every five club members that subscribe to Smart Computing (or its related publications), the Club receives one free subscription. Jaime brought some gifts to give away during the opportunity drawing portion of the meeting.

Jim Applebury did router training in the second half of the meeting. He brought a new Linksys router in to connect to his laptop for the demonstration. What is a router? How do you set one up? A router allows one to connect multiple computers to a DSL or Cable modem to access the Internet. First, Jim connected the PC to the router via a network cable. Then he turned the router power on. Change the router name for easy connection to the correct one. Jim showed how to see other computers' shared folders, when you are on an open network like the coffee shop. The router is a hardware firewall. It is ok to have a hardware and a software firewall. It is not a good idea to have more than one software firewall. A hacker will see your router before it gets to your computer. To be safe, change the password on your router.

Jim changed the name of the router to make it easy for us to recognize and connect to. Most providers like Verizon and Charter automatically set up. To set up the wireless part of your router, log in to it. That is done by opening your browser and typing in the address of the router. Go to the wireless settings in the router to change the security. Set the security mode to WPA Personal (more secure) or WEP (for older wireless devices). Type in a shared key so devices can connect to your network. Write it down and keep it in a secure place. Unplug the network cable from the computer. A dialog box should appear on your screen. After entering the shared key, you should be able to connect to the router wirelessly.

After the training, Jim answered members' questions regarding routers.

Lastly, we had the opportunity drawings. Thus ended another fine and educational evening.

Rosemary Lloyd

BBCC February 2008 Cash Flow Statement