Minutes of the September Meeting

By Jim Purcell, Secretary, Tampa PC Users Group

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The meeting began at 6:35 pm. Bob LaFave began the Windows SIG with a demonstration of how to track a problem. Bob discussed the use of a print server and the increased flexibility that it provides, in that it is not necessary to have a host computer running in order for other computers to access the printer. He also discussed the ways to recognize printers on a network. He mentioned that Office can cause problems when it becomes necessary to uninstall the program. Bob said that the best way to uninstall Office is to start the installation disk, go to repair – uninstall, and uninstall the program. A member asked how to use “Aero” capability with Vista. Bob gave a brief description of how to take advantage of the things available in the “Aero” program.

He mentioned CPU-Z (a hardware monitor). Bob said that he has found the program useful in monitoring the performance of his computers, especially to insure that the computers are not overheating.

There was an expanded discussion of the pros and cons of Google’s new browser. Some members liked the new features and some thought that you paid a price for using them.

Bob discussed anti-virus programs and the ones that are his current favorites. A member asked Bob to identify the free anti-virus programs that he prefers. He explained how to find the one that best serves the individual’s needs by determining the one with which they are most comfortable. Member Merle Nicholson mentioned that most programs have a 30- or 60-day trial period, which allows users to make sure they understand the features and peculiarities of the program. There was a discussion of working online or offline and how it is that you find yourself offline when you had not specifically requested the option. There seemed to be no answer to the problem, in that there are several things that might have been the cause. The Windows SIG ended at 7:14 pm.

John Witmer, our president, opened the business portion of the meeting at 7:15 pm. He mentioned that, in October, Steve Singer will discuss new developments in hardware with his usual insights on all of the technical details. In November, Jim Purcell will discuss digital storage, editing, scanning and sharing. John mentioned the FACUG meeting to be held in Clearwater on Saturday, October 25. The details of the registration requirements and program content can be found at FACUG.org, He also stressed the need for members to furnish newsletter articles. John reminded the members that there were computer related items on the back table that Jennie Lind Olin brought in for any of the members who might have a need for them.

Merle began his presentation on the Vista operating system at 7:20 pm. He explained that the computer in a box that he was using for his presentation was built and designed by him to make it easier to change hard drives and to update and repair the computer. He detailed many of the changes and improvement that he has made since its original construction. He has several SATA ports built into the box so that he can easily use different hard drives for special requirements. He brought three versions of Vista so that he could illustrate his responses to member questions about the various versions. He talked about Vista requirements and why you might go to 64 bit and why you might not go to 64-bit. A primary reason to select the 64-bit version is the ability to address more memory. The additional memory, in addition to the obvious advantages, makes “Super Fetch” even more efficient than it is with only the usual 3GB or less of memory. Merle said that he has found very few programs that would not run with the 64-bit version of Vista. One of the exceptions is Nero, He said that there are a lot of differences between Vista and XP. For instance, the Vista control panel is more complete than in XP, and some of the changes are helpful, but there are many of the features that seem to have been changed for no apparent reason.

He demonstrated some of the many features of Aero. One that he showed was a very good calendar that is available from Vista. He commented that Vista help is very good. He thinks that Vista Windows Explorer is poorly designed, very confusing and difficult to use. He has made extensive changes to the structure, but there are some things that you cannot change. Networking with Vista is much faster and much simpler. He recommends that you uncheck Automatic Restart on System Failure in the control panel’s System & Maintenance link. so that you will get a blue screen and see what is causing a problem. Merle warned to not turn off your User Access Warnings (UAC’s). Although UAC’s may be bothersome, they help prevent viruses from doing their work.. He also warned not to use the hibernate or sleep modes. Merle has taken all of the frills off of his computer in order to make it operate as efficiently as possible. Merle emphasized how important it is to read the instructions on how to use the Search function. There is valuable information in “Help,” particularly on the use of prefixes, which will dramatically improve your efficiency in the execution of searches. He says that Vista fonts are superior to XP fonts. Merle said that he does not believe that anyone should upgrade to Vista, His recommendation is that Vista should only be installed on a new machine that meets the requirements for Vista. The meeting ended at 8:55 pm.  u