Issue 168 - January 02, 2002

ISSN 1488-3163; PC Improvements © 2002
==== 2232 Subscribers in 58 Countries ====

Welcome to the 168th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly of news and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is your first issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me two or three issues, I know that you will come back for more!

You can reach me at with any suggestions or comments.

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Happy New Year! By the time this goes out, everyone in all 58 countries where PCIN is read should now be in the year 2002. It seems hard to believe that the Y2K issue is already 2 years old. I can't believe that 2001 went by so quickly. Time flies when you're having fun.

I sent out my first issue of PCIN on October 07, 1998 and so this is the 5th calendar year. The newsletter itself is over 3 years old. Overall I'm quite happy with the quality of the newsletter, and the faithfulness of the subscribers. I've met a lot of people from all over the world, and it is all thanks to PCIN. Hopefully you've all gotten something out of it as well; friends, help; some laughs :-)

At the beginning of years past, I've never bothered to set any goals, but this year is different. I've set an ambitious goal to reach the 5000-subscriber mark by the end of the year. That means I need to more than double a total that has taken me 3+ years to get. I can only do this with your help. Recommend PCIN to all of your friends at; Donate a small amount to help maintain the costs of PCIN at; Make suggestions at; and of course you can always email me at any time with your constructive criticism, suggestions, or general comments at

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Tobacco maker, PeoplePC target smokers

"R.J. Reynolds Tobacco has been quietly offering a low-cost PC and Net access package to Doral smokers--signaling a long-anticipated move onto the Web by cigarette advertising powerhouses.
R.J. Reynolds, the No. 2 U.S. cigarette maker, launched a Web site at in late October for Doral customers. At the same time, in partnership with subsidized-computer merchant PeoplePC, the company began an unannounced promotion that lets Doral smokers buy a Hewlett-Packard PC, at $21.95 per month for 48 months, with free Net access for a year."

For more info:

Lego Tinkered With Success, and Is Now Paying a Price

"For Christmas, Colin Stovel, 11, had his heart set on one of Lego's new electronic or science fiction sets, like Star Wars or Mindstorms. His father, Herb, 53, still pines for the old Lego pirate ship, which the company eliminated a few years ago.
The differing tastes of Colin and his father, a Unesco employee in Rome - one looking for the latest fashion, the other seeking nostalgia for the tried-and-true - are one strand of the toy industry upheaval that has helped to cloud the fortunes of Lego, the Danish multinational that built its fame on the popular interlocking play bricks. Recently, however, it lost its way as it sought to incorporate electronics and licensed toys into its product mix."

For more info:

New Rankings: AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo! Still Dominant

"No matter how you look at it, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo! still dominate the Web.
That is the message from Internet analyst Jupiter Media Metrix (Nasdaq: JMXI), which announced Wednesday that despite changes in its measurement approach, the big three still stand astride the U.S. Top 50 Web and digital media property rankings.
In announcing a new categorization and reporting structure aimed at more accurately representing 'an array of niche content delivered through dynamic platforms and technologies,' Jupiter found that AOL properties were in the top 10 ranking of 37 categories and subcategories.
Jupiter said that Microsoft and MSN-branded components were in the top 10 ranking of 28 categories and subcategories, while the Yahoo! brand was in the top 10 ranking of 30 categories and subcategories."

For more info:

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POLL of the WEEK

Here are the responses from the last poll:

For how long have you had a computer at home?

> 10 years: 42.27%
4 - 5 years: 10.31%
3 - 4 years: 9.28%
2 - 3 years: 9.28%
5 - 6 years: 7.22%
1 - 2 years: 7.22%
9 - 10 years: 6.19%
8 - 9 years: 3.09%
6 - 7 years: 3.09%
7 - 8 years: 2.06%
1 year: 0.00%
< 6 months: 0.00%

Total Votes: 97

Visit to participate in the new poll this week:

Where do you prefer to buy computer items?

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Last week I asked for emails regarding any new "toys" that you got for Christmas. Dan and Roger replied as follows:

Dan O'Reilly
Hope you, Lisa and the rest of you family had a GREAT Christmas. We did here, and the snow was an added bonus!
To answer your question, this year I got my first digital camera. It's an HP315, 2.1 megapix, and I LOVE it!!!! I am still trying to get used to the "no film" aspect, as my whole life I have used only film media for photo creation. This certainly offers many new possibilities for creative experimentation.

Roger Thompson
Compusa had a sale 1100 celeron.17"monitor,&photo printer for $565 . so I went to circuit city and matched it plus they matched a 24x10x42 cdr/w for $49 and a hp 750 printer for $165. when I got home mama said where's mine so I went back and bought a 2nd one for my daughter in Missouri. also bought me a creative live platinum audigy and polk 6 speaker woofer set. a 4 year warranty on it all was $300. all with no interest for a year. also aol free for 3 months. $75 [actually $42 as I use]
so I replaced my pack bell 200 that cost $1700 with a celeron 1100 for $465.
I really like xp also. it has a wizard that sets up the net work. also a wizard for aol sharing.
only problem was getting it to show win98 screens instead of all the xp screens.
having a choice of users lets my 2 year old have his own window and icons.
I recommend the reader rabbit series to teach babies the computer,ABC,colors,shapes,numbers,matching etc. and etc. HE IS UP TO 1ST GRADE AND PHONICS WHICH HE REALLY LIKES.
also for 6 month old the fisher-price baby smartronics[only on ebay as not made anymore].
Iit has a babies keyboard and 3 + levels of teaching. drawback is the keyboard attaches to your keyboard, so we painted the pictures on the regular keyboard and didn't use the baby keyboard. he used this program about 2 hours a day until he learned the relationship of his hand on the mouse and the mouse on the screen. that was about 16 months I think. then he kept me up until 1 am playing with the mouse. I wouldn't let him start and shutdown, but one day the computer was off and not crashed, so I watched him and he shut it down right. he had learned from watching me; just like he learned to put the keys in the car and start it from watching me.
So now we have the dvd and 5.1 surround with a cdrw in one computer. I just need to exchange the audigy card for a audigy ex that has the sound controls and 1394 port external.[so I can hide the computer and use the remote from my recliner.] also my remote mouse and keyboard.
Sso I can set in my recliner drinking eggnog ,listening to a GOOD stereo and play computer with the football game in one corner.
ps: so now charles [2 yr old] has a 400 celeron in his bedroom , a 450 celeron in the computer room and he uses the good computer in the living room. if he learns to use a printer I will be in trouble.

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Visit the PCIN FreeHelp Forum to post your questions or answer others. Each week I highlight a question, and where to go to get the answer.


Subscriber Randy emailed me the following:
" I have been looking @ photo editing software for a couple months & cannot seem to decide. I want to spend 85$ or less. Can you help?"


Please email me your recommendations to

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Check out these new or updated pages on the site:

Sonic Foundry SIREN Jukebox 2.0 Review

WE Compute Magazine's Cheap Tricks of the Week
(The entire collection is in Microsoft Word format and currently has 100 tips and tricks. You can download the file from here)

Windows Registry Tips and Tweaks
(The entire collection is in Microsoft Word format and currently has 76 registry tips. You can download the file from here)

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Cheap Trick of the Week

A fate worse than the Blue Screen of Death

What's the worst thing that could happen to a devoted Windows user?
How about finding that his or her computer has suddenly been changed into a Macintosh?
So here's a nasty but harmless trick you can play on a fellow PC owner - to make them believe this bizarre event has actually happened to them.
Tell your friend you've got a great Web site to show them on their Windows computer. Then direct them to with their Web browser.
Before they can stop it, the computer will start scrolling up messages indicating their Windows system is being replaced by the Macintosh operating system. It'll even appear to boot up like a Mac and give them a screenwide desktop identical to the Mac's.
If your (former) friend frantically clicks on the Mac-style desktop icons they'll find a memory game to play and may eventually discover how to restore the appearance of their screen to the usual Windows design.
(Hint: Check out the trash.)

Get your own copy of "The Little Black Book of Cheap Tricks: 2001" by visiting

The Fathom Knowledge Network

"E-learning company Fathom Knowledge Network last week launched a learning center at its web site, to help people understand topics such as the roots of terrorism, the history of religious extremism and political violence, and the significance of the response of the U.S. government and world community to Sept. 11.
Content comes from Fathom's 13 member institutions, including Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and the London School of Economics. Among the center's features are lectures, seminars, and papers about Sept. 11, the Taliban, and terrorists networks."

Animal Crackers 100th Anniversary

From the December 17/24, 2001 issue of eWeek magazine, pg 66:
"Nabisco's celebration of the 100th anniversary of its Barnum's Animal Crackers will be capped by an online vote to add a new animal to the cookie line. Visitors to can vote for a walrus-, cobra-, koala bear- or penguin-shaped cracker. This has prompted the Linux crowd to try to stack the deck in favor of the penguin shape..."

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PCIN is brought to you by PC Improvements. The opinions expressed are those of the editor, Graham Wing. PC Improvements and Graham Wing accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying the tips in this newsletter.

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