Speeding up Windows Computers

There were recently two e-mails to our list suggesting that a good topic
for an upcoming meeting might be on how to speed up computers.  I thought
the topic might come up at last weeks workshop so I didn’t respond.  As it turns out it didn’t come up so I’m going to give it my two cents worth now.

Just as an FYI, I Googled ‘speeding up computer’ and got 117,000,000 hits.
Then I Googled ‘speeding up windows computers’ and got 114,000,000 hits.  In addition to the help that’s available on the Web people within the club like
Larry, Gary, Zener, Kelly nd Eric as well as guest speakers from local techs to Microsoft have all discussed the topic nearly endlessly.  The point I’m trying to make is that in spite of all that’s been done it’s become obvious to me that there will always be new people, new computers and new problems.

In that vein I’d like to start some sort of interactive blog or topic on our
Website or something similar that can be continually referred to and
updated.  Now, I know most of you have probably already deleted this e-mail and that even those who wrote in on the topic are probably on to bigger and better things by now so I’m not going to go too far our of my way to do this and I’m going to try to keep my expectations about how interactive it might
become realistic.  And, while I’m at it, I might mention that I know, that I
can’t come close to providing the kinds of information that’s already
available and/or even come close to providing the expertise that others in
the club can and do offer.  Instead what I can do is tell you what I do and maybe, at the same time, get some suggestions on how I can do what I do
do or don’t do better.

Anyway, watch this space.  To begin with I’m going to start off by trying
to address backing up our computers.  Everyone needs a way to back up their
current installs, files, pictures, etc.

As a little bit of an aside, as I was leaving last weeks workshop, I
happened a crossed a national radio program that had something to do
computers on either one of the local stations or on one of the two public
broadcasting stations that are available in the area.  It sounded like it
might be a weekly program and these two fellows were real geeks.  It seemed
like if anyone knows about this stuff these guys probably know it too.  I’d highly suggest you look for it.

Back to backing up our computers, quickly, there are a lot of options.
Everyone is talking (or maybe advertising) Internet backup systems.  It may
be a good option, I don’t use one and I don’t know anything about them.  One
of the fellows on this national program made the point that if you have an
average speed Internet connection, an average speed computer and one of
these new 500 Gig hard drive’s – it could take up to 129 days to back up
your computer using one of these services.  He also pointed out that with
average use you’d be adding information faster that you’d be backing it up
so you’d never have the kind of backup that they talk about.  I guess
I should say that I think that’s what he said.  I also think he went on to
say that with a faster connection, a faster computer and less info to back
up, you could cut that down to maybe 30 days.

As I said, these Interned based backup options might be a good idea but I
like the idea of having a local current back up to work with and that is
what I’m going to be trying to discuss here in the near future.  In the mean
time, let’s try to make sure your back up systems are, up, running and ready
to go? 


More soon,


Online Graphics Editor – Sumo Paint – and Aviary

Update: We may not be able to use the cafe’s meeting room this week, Mon the 21st, in which case this show will be done Mon the 28th. Sorry folks…

Sumo Paint :: Online Image Editor :: Home

We had a great time last week just doing problem solving, but the consensus after the meeting was to try to do the graphics demo we had planned weeks ago. So this week for sure we will watch ways to ‘tune up’ photos and just plain have fun with graphic editors online.

For years graphic editing had been the ‘Mac” thing, Mac’s had more memory than PC’s and tended to crash less so folks in the know used them and software programmers wrote for them and the best graphic programs were Mac. But as PC’s improved and programming advanced these same programs became available for PC’s. Coreldraw for vector images and Photoshop for bit images became the standard, but they are expensive.

Now there are some very good Open Source alternatives, Gimp for bit images and Inkscape for vectoring and there are versions (ports) for Windows PC’s, Mac’s and Linux operating systems. If you really want practise graphic editing I recommend these programs. (And I recommend the commercial programs if you have the money.)

The latest advancement is now ‘Online’ programs that do the functions of the editing programs from in our web browsers. No need to install a program on our hard drives and not even to store our images. Websites now offer both from any browser, any computer, wherever we are we can access our work and edit it. And this will be our demo this coming Monday using the site linked at the start of this post, Sumo Paint. Come join us and learn what is available.

If you want a look in advance visit their site and view the video and read about its Features and FAQ’s.

If you want to see other sites with similar features check these out:

Another great review of these sites is at Lifehacker.com, let me recommend it as well.

Update: I can’t believe what is available these days! Just while writing this post I rediscovered Aviary.com. I’d looked at this before and not understood it all, but on second glace today I found it to be incredibly complete. So it and its tutorial videos will be part of our show.

Note to John – remember to bring the projector, this will be a good chance to make good use of it!  🙂

Hotmail now uses POP3 in Outlook Express

How to add your e-mail account to Microsoft Outlook Express – Mail and Settings – Windows Live Help


If you use a Hotmail or MSN.com email address and have been using Outlook Express for your mail reading you may have noticed it isn’t working any more. Microsoft has switched away from the DAV mail collection method and requires everyone to switch to POP3 settings in Outlook Express now.

Actually they seem to want you to use the web interface at Windows Live.com or download their new program, Windows Live Mail and use it instead of Outlook Express. But if you use Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora or any other normal mail program Hotmail’s change to being POP’able is a very good thing.

So if you noticed your Hotmail isn’t coming into your mail program lately you need to change your server settings. Click the link above to learn how to setup POP for Hotmail.


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Suggested Software from CPCUG

CPCUG Recommended Freeware Programs

CPCUG is the Capitol PC User Group in Washington DC, a group a bit larger than ours. They have a page/presentation of some software recommendations for Windows XP and up that I think is very good. Use the link above to see it.

If you don’t have a firewall yet, if you have a system running slow there are some good suggestions here.

Try them out and let us know what you think of the programs at any coming meeting.


Google Voice Update

For those of you at the meeting two weeks ago I mentioned a beta service at Google called Google Voice. Since that meeting it has opened up and received an update from David Pogue at the NYT.

In short, Google makes phone numbers available to forward calls and voicemail to your phones, home, business, cell, whatever. In addition it will take voicemail and convert it to text and host it online is a very Gmail looking format.

The advantage here is you can give folks this new number for yourself and receive call at any or all your numbers (at once!) and screen them. If you tell it a number you don’t want calls from it will do the three tone ‘number no longer in service’ for those ‘spam’ calls and if folks are leaving you voicemail you can here it ‘live’ as it is made if you wish.

Frankly this could change the way we use our phones for the better in my opinion.

Google Voice

Windows 7 RC vs. Ubuntu 9.04

This week’s meeting is not our normal presentation night, that would be the second week of the month. But your group president experienced a laptop loss due to his cat’s getting spooked and kicking it off a table. So after making a purchase from Craigslist.com and finding the operating system was pirated I wiped it clean and installed the Windows 7 RC (Release Candidate) to try it out and give my two cents to M$ about it.

Then, I made a new install CD for Ubuntu 9.04 and installed it to dual boot on this machine. Being able to compare the two systems on the same machine like this has been a lot of fun. If you join me at Monday, July the 13th’s 5:30 gathering at Aquilla & Priscilla’s Cafe (I had some *excellent* soup there last week!) I’ll be happy to demo these two ineresting systems on a new (used) $200 laptop. This is a Toshiba Satellite Celeron 1.6 with 1.3GigB RAM. Nothing too fancy so many of you may be able to get a reasonable comparison of what your own machines would be like with them.

Face to Face with Facebook

The plan is to share experiences with Facebook’s social networking site. Stats suggest 100 million folks log in to Facebook every day!


For those of us who still enjoy real time sharing, in person, LIVE, we’re going to look at this phenomenon and see what we can do to use it or not miss it.

Everyone is welcome. Come join with us at Aquilla’s and Pricilla’s Cafe Monday at 5:30-7:00pm.

Bing vs. Google

Bing & Google :: Add-ons for Firefox

Microsoft is now offering some competition to Google search with its new Bing.com website. In the interest of studying them both I wanted to give Bing a try. My browser, Firefox, has a search field in its upper right which you can add search sites of your choice. But in looking for a Bing option I discovered this Bing vs. Google addon for Firefox and I like it.

Now when I type in a string to search I get a page split in half with one side Bing and the other Google. This allows comparing results of the two engines one on one (they scroll together) and you can change the view from side by side, upper lower, or one or the other with links in the pages header.

So far I have been surprised at how directed to Google feature sites Google is compared to Bing. The surprise is how many other good results Bing does show that are not YouTube, Blogger, and Google Sites hosted. To be expected I suppose but I had thought Google was more fairly weighted. Live and learn.