Issue 169 - January 09, 2002

ISSN 1488-3163; PC Improvements © 2002
==== 2229 Subscribers in 58 Countries ====

Welcome to the 169th 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.

Recommend PCIN at
Support PCIN at



I plan on having some special issues coming up. About 2 years ago I had readers from all over the world email me regarding Internet access in other parts of the world. You can read this at I wanted to know if their government restricts certain sites? What is the fastest speed you can pay for? How much is it? A lot changes in 2 years, so I thought I would do this again. Look for this in a few weeks. I also thought I would do another feature on the first computer that you bought. What was it? How much was it? What could it do (or couldn't do)? Don't email yet about either of these. I will be asking for contributions soon.

Return to the top


How Computers Recognize Faces

Mere mortals may not be able to see through that new beard and glasses, but facial-recognition technology has got your number.
Most of us take our ability to quickly identify the face of a friend or relative for granted. But this skill involves a series of very complicated operations, which is why computers have difficulty performing this seemingly simple, menial task. Yet computers increasingly are being used to perform two key pattern-recognition tasks: positive identification of individuals for granting access to privileged resources, and rapid recognition of suspects in a crowd for law enforcement agencies.

For more info:

Name That Worm - How Computer Viruses Get Their Names

What's in a name? Plenty, if you ask a computer virus researcher who is responsible for designating the latest malicious code spreading on the Internet.
Antivirus experts say there are specific guidelines for naming computer worms. Not surprisingly, the first rule dictates that the name should be anything other than what the virus writer wants it called. Beyond that, researchers look to the code, to its message, or the situation to name worms as they find them.

For more info:

TV Still Top Choice for News

Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. online population regularly turns to the Internet as a source for news, but the Net still trails cable television, network TV and radio, according to a Market Facts Inc. study.
The study, which was conducted for MSNBC, found that the Internet, which is used by 65 percent of Internet users as a news source, was ahead of magazines (used by 58 percent of Internet users) and close to radio (67 percent). But cable television, used by 76 percent of Internet users, and network TV, which is used by 89 percent, still maintain comfortable leads.

For more info:

Return to the top

POLL of the WEEK

Here are the responses from the last poll:

Where do you prefer to buy computer items?

Local Dealer: 41.10%
Large Retailer: 38.36%
Online: 20.55%

Total Votes: 73

Visit to participate in the new poll this week:

Where do you prefer to buy computer items?

Return to the top


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.


By request, I formatted a friend's hard drive and restored Win98. When I was installing the software for her modem; Win98 crashed and when it rebooted; the C: drive contained absolutely no files. She told me she has virus W32.Magistr....
Surely, the virus didn't do all that damage? She is ready to replace her motherboard or buy a new computer?
Isn't it possible to fdisk; format and restore this hard drive somehow?


No answers posted yet.

Do you know the answer or have a suggestion? Visit and check out the Hardware Forum. Post your answer or post a question of your own

Return to the top UPDATE

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 85 registry tips. You can download the file from here)

Return to the top


Cheap Trick of the Week

Stump the panel

You can create shortcuts to most files and programs in Windows, as well as to Control Panels. But many Control Panels have multiple pages, so your shortcut won't link directly to the page you want.
Or will it? We know how to do this with at least one control panel.
Suppose you want to make a shortcut to the Screensaver page of the Display control panel to let you switch screensavers quickly. Right-click on an empty area of the desktop and select New and Shortcut. For command line, enter control.exe desk.cpl,display,1 with a space only between exe and desk. Click on Next, type in a name for the shortcut and click on Finish.
You can also make the shortcut go to other pages of the Display control panel by changing the number at the end of the command line. For example, changing the 1 to 0 will call up the Background page and changing it to 2 will bring up the Appearance page.

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

Photo Editing Software

Last week's FreeHelp Forum question was regarding recommended photo editing software. Below are the comments:

Lucia Morgan
I have had great success with the new MGI Photo Suite. It's ease of use when changing the format of pics and also creating projects has me sold. I have stopped using Adobe and now use Photo Suite exclusively. I got this when it was in the promotional stages and have upgraded to the newest version.

Sylve Davis
Micrografx Picture Publisher - I run 8 but I think a newer version is out - more intuitive than some of the stuff out there.

Carl Beck
I like Ulead's Photo Express.

Jim Kniskern
To answer Randy's question:
1) Photoshop Elements is regarded as the best under $100.
2) Microsoft's Picture It! will do the job - most jobs - for much less if bought on sale. I use it and like the ability to remove small defects, and color correct for artificial lighting, tinted windows, etc.
3) Then there is 602Photo from This is part of a nice suite that can be downloaded for free. It includes a good full-screen slideshow program. And by putting a brief two-line file with the photos on a CD-R, the program will start automatically when the CD is inserted in any CD-ROM drive.

Mike Butler
Nothing can beat Paint Shop Pro ($89.00), It is every bit as good as Adobe Photoshop ($400.00+) and is much easier to use.

Forest Brumagen
I would suggest that your reader go to, and grab anything that he wants...

Joan Marques
In the Nov. 27, 2001 issue of PC Magazine there was an article about such software. Their recommendations were as follows: For the hobbyist: Adobe Photoshop Elements (list $99) 5 stars. Ulead PhotoImpact 7 (list $89) 4 stars.
For the novice: Microsoft PictureIt! Photo Premium (list $54) 5 stars, and Ulead Photo Express 4.0 (list $49) 5 stars.

Mike LaChance
Regarding subscriber Randy's question about which software to buy for $85 or less . . . .
My first suggestion would be for him to pick up a copy of Adobe Photoshop LE 5.0 on eBay. The going rate is $35-50.
Another idea would be Microsoft Picture It Photo 2002. $30 at Comp USA.

Almita Ranstrom
I recommend Photoshop Elements; its list price is $99 but various rebates and sale prices reduce it to something like $70. It is a marvelous value.

Graham Wing
For the record, I would recommend Photoshop Elements any day!

Why Do Computers Crash?

A friend of mine sent this to me. It is supposed to be an explanation from Dr. Seuss.

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
And the bus is interrupted at a very last resort,
And the access of the memory makes your floppy disc abort,
Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
And the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
And your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash,
Then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
Says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
But your packets want to tunnel to another protocol,
That's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
So your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
'cuz sure as I'm a poet, the things a-gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy in the disk,
And the macro code instructions cause unnecessary risk,
Then you'll have to flash the memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM.
Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!

Return to the top


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.

  1. If any of the links are too long to fit on one line, you may have to cut and paste.
  2. You can only win one contest every 30 days.
  3. To subscribe another address or unsubscribe, please visit and follow the appropriate links.
  4. Recommend PCIN to others at and be entered in a monthly draw.
  5. There are only 2 ways to get on the subscriber list. You have either been subscribed by filling out a subscription form on any of the pages on my site, or you have requested FreeHelp from me in the past.
  6. If you have a web site or run your own newsletter, please email me at and I will add it to the subscriber web pages that I have on my site.
  7. Support PCIN by visiting

Return to the top

Graham Wing can be reached at

Copyright 1998-2002, PC Improvements and Graham Wing. All rights reserved.

This publication may be reproduced in whole, or in part, as long as the author is notified and the newsletter is presented as is.

Support PCIN by visiting

PC Improvement News Home Page

PC Improvement News Archive