Editorís Comments

By William LaMartin, Editor, Tampa PC Users Group
lamartin@tampabay.rr.com


Shorter Newsletter This newsletter is only eight pages instead of the usual 12. I have decided to change to this format for months when the material is insufficient to fill, without a lot of padding, the larger format.

More Hurricane Last month I mentioned how in preparation for Hurricane Charley, I backed up my software and prepared to move my computers to a safer location only to abort the move when Charley suddenly steered clear of Tampa. Well, since then two more hurricanes, Frances and Ivan, have threatened Tampa, with Frances passing nearby and dumping a lot of water on us as it made its way from east to west across the state.

With Frances aiming at Tampa, before turning in for the evening, I unplugged my main computer from everything and moved it, along with monitor, printer and scanner, to a safer room than the one it normally occupies with the giant oak limb overhead. The next morning the only damage we had was a lot of small limbs down in the yard. So back to the room the computer went, and I connected everything back before turning it on.

Then strange things started to happen. After booting the computer, I got messages stating that it had found new hardware, etc. The new hardware was a USB scanner and a USB external hard drive. Later on that day, when I connected my digital camera to download the photos of flooding a block away, I also got the same messages about new hardware. This didnít make sense. I had disconnected all of these peripherals while the computer was turned off and reconnected them before I turned it on. What was going on? Member Bob LaFave had the answer. He said that I must have connected the USB devices to different USB ports than they were connected to before. If that were the case, and it was, they would be treated as new devices.

Bandwidth As Hurricane Frances was leaving the area after passing north of Tampa a bit, its winds were just right to produce a storm surge in the bay just south of our neighborhood. I have seen such high water, perhaps, half-a-dozen times in the 23 years I have lived here. It covers Bayshore Boulevard and creeps up the streets off Bayshore to varying distances depending on how quickly the elevation of the street rises.

I was ready with my camera to take some photos as soon as the rain slacked off a bit . With a modified plastic food bag covering the camera, except for an opening for the lens, and some wading boots for me, I set out. The water was only one inch deep in the road in front of my house, but, as I walked the one block to the bay, it reached mid-thigh as I came to the sidewalk on the city side of Bayshore. In the street, of course, it was deeper. For about five or six blocks I walked along the sidewalk photographing the water lapping at the doors of some homes but only up to the first or second steps of those built higher from the ground. Quite frequently I had to wipe the camera lens with some paper towels I had brought along. Later in the day I went out and photographed the odd tree or two that had been blown down by the storm.

I then put about fifty of the photos at our neighborhood website, http://www.oldhydeparkfl.org in the form of a slide show. Then I sent an email to the 226 homes in the neighborhood for which I, as the keeper of the database, have email addresses, telling them about the placement of storm debris for pickup and noting that there were photos of the stormís aftermath at our site.

Then all hell broke loose. The site normally averages no more than 10 visitors per day. The first full day the photos were at the site there were 4,025 visitors, creating 435,728 hits and consuming 22 GB of bandwidth. The siteís bandwidth allocation is 20 GB/month--a pretty generous allotment for an inexpensive site. What to do? Reduce the number of photos in the show. I reduced the photos to around 20.

The next day the site had 12,008 visitors with 860,630 hits consuming 36.5 GB of bandwidth, with that reduction. Be careful what you wish for; you may get it.

Time for another reduction. I reduced the number of photos available to nine. And the third day, with 6,679 visitors and 223,343 hits, the bandwidth usage was 7.87 GB. And it has been slowly going down from there with a few blips higher. As I write this 12 days after the photos were put at the site, there have been 72,763 visitors, 2,788,623 hits, consuming 114.3 GB of bandwidth. For all those who think the Internet is free--the 94 GB in bandwidth over the 20 allowed is expected to cost $184.

When it works, word-of-mouth advertising is an amazing thing. All of those people who came to the site did so because of those 226 emails I sent to the neighborhood, plus about six that I sent to others.

Editorial Note After writing the above about moving my computer for Hurricane Frances, I had to do the same thing for Hurricane Jeanne. Luckily for me, Jeanneís final path took her north and east of Tampa, so we received maximum winds of no more than around 60 mph or so. Not enough to bring down that big oak on my house. People in the south central and eastern portion of the state were not so lucky. Four hurricanes in about five weeks. Who would have thought it?

Windows XP Service Pack 2 I have now installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 on my main desktop computer and my laptop. If you donít have a broadband connection, it is probably better to get the CD from Microsoft since each of the downloads was in the neighborhood of 100 MB. I think the amount of download necessary is determined by how much updating has already been done to XP, Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.

For my laptop, the download was 114 MB at a speed of around one MB every three seconds. For the desktop computer, the download was around 96 MB. I think the download and installation on the desktop took a little over an hour.

After the update and a reboot, on the laptop the only difference, other than what I will mention about Internet Explorer and Outlook Express below, was that I now had to give permission for the sync of my Pocket PC to the laptop.

After rebooting the desktop and opening Internet Explorer, the first thing I noticed was that whenever I clicked on any link, a window popped up and requested that I insert the Microsoft Money 2002 installation CD. This was mighty odd. I had never used Microsoft Money, but it had come free with the computer two years ago.

So I did a little research on the Internet, and there were only a few messages about such (none pertaining to XP), and the consensus was to uninstall Money and some other Money component I canít recall the name of. Money uninstalled OK, but the other component produced an error when I tried to uninstall it. The solution for that was to download the Windows Installer Cleanup utility and run it to remove Windows Installer settings for that item. I did that. But on the next reboot of the computer, I received the message ďThis action is only valid for products that are currently installed.Ē

That forced me to examine the registry for stuff related to Money. I found three items, one of them one of those strange ids like {CF5193F7-6B37-11D5-B7D2-00AA00A204F1}, that I think might be called GUIDs. I backed those up and then deleted them, and now I get a boot up without the message. Why installing SP2 caused all of this is a mystery.

Two nice features are that IE now automatically blocks pop-ups and Outlook Express blocks linked images unless you request that they be shown. The downloading of those linked images could be used to indicate to spammers that you received the email and thus that your address was a good one to keep spamming.

There are a lot of updates out there from Microsoft that you should install. There is one for Office that fixes the new JPEG vulnerability. I could tell of my travails with that on one of my computers, but there is no more space this month. u