Boulder Computer Maven Newsletter - October 2004

 
Dear Friends,

Thank you for letting me help you with your computer needs in the past.  This is my monthly newsletter, containing computer tips that I hope you'll find helpful and interesting.  If you don't want to receive this newsletter, just let me know, and I'll remove your name from my mailing list.

As always, please contact me at any time with your computer questions.  I want to help you get the most from your computer.

Best Wishes,
Steve Winograd, Boulder Computer Maven

Phone: 303-444-8247
Web Site: http://www.bcmaven.com

Helping People Use Computers in Boulder for Over 20 Years



Finding Bargains on Computers and Accessories

Are you shopping for computers, printers, monitors, digital cameras, or other electronics?  How about accessories like networking equipment, hard disks, cables, printer paper, or blank CD-R disks? Check the weekly ads from computer and office supply stores in the Sunday newspaper.  They offer great bargains through sale prices and/or mail-in rebates.  Be sure to follow rebate instructions completely and to submit the rebate form and accompanying documentation (usually the sales receipt and the UPC code cut from the box) before the specified deadline.

Bargains are available from companies on the Internet, too.  Here are some that I buy from and recommend -- click the name to go to a company's web site: DealSonic, Buy.com, TigerDirect, Computers4Sure, Provantage, Outpost.


Sharing a Printer

If you have multiple computers, you don't need to buy a printer for each one.  All of the people in your house can print to a single printer, regardless of which computer they're using.  There are two ways of sharing a printer:
With a shared printer, the computer that it connects to must be turned on if any computer wants to print.  With a print server, the printer is independent of any computer.  I use a D-Link DP-300U print server on my network to give all of the computers access to a laser printer and a color inkjet printer.  There are wired and wireless print servers.  A wireless print server lets you put a printer wherever it's most convenient in your house.


Cleaning a Pest-Infested Computer

My fellow Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Richard G. Harper has written a great article on how to remove spyware, adware, viruses, worms, and other pests from your computer and how to prevent them from coming back.  For some informative and amusing reading, see his web page on Cleaning a Pest-Infested Computer.  If you don't want to do it yourself, please call me for expert pest removal and computer security help.


Preventing the Kids from Messing Up Your Computer

As you can see from the article above, it's a jungle out there on the Internet.  You practice safe computing, but it can be hard to get teens and younger children to do it.  If you share a computer with kids, then you end up sharing the pests that they let in.  And kids sometimes install undesirable programs or change settings that cause the computer to malfunction.

The surest solution to the problem is not to let the kids use your computer.  That's especially important if you use your computer for business.  Give the kids their own computer, discuss safe computing with them, and let them know that keeping their computer safe is their responsibility.

If everyone in the family uses the same computer, Microsoft's Windows XP operating system has some features that can help keep it working:


Microsoft MVP Program

I'm proud to announce that, for the sixth consecutive year, I've received the Most Valuable Professional award from Microsoft.  This annual award recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions to Microsoft's technical communities in the past year.  MVPs aren't Microsoft employees and don't receive any monetary payment from Microsoft.  They receive a small award of software to help them learn about Microsoft products and solve problems for Microsoft customers.  For more information, see the MVP FAQ page.

As an MVP, I get to try out new Microsoft products before they're released to the public.  I have contacts with the product development and test teams and can influence product designs and report problems.  But I have no obligation to Microsoft, because the award is in recognition of past contributions.  My only obligation is to you: to help you get the most from your computer.  If a Microsoft product has problems, I'll tell you so.  If a product from another company serves your needs better than one from Microsoft, I'll tell you so.