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					     Long Island‘s Largest PC Computer & Technology User Group

                                            The ICON Graphic
                                                     Newsletter of ICON PC User Group, Inc.
 Volume 19, Issue 7                                                                                                                                     July, 2009

  Upcoming Events

 Members-Only Workshop
  Friday, July 17th: Video

 Next General Meeting
  Friday, August 7th: Back To             President’s Message
  School Tech
                                          The fair weather months of summer        networking. Messages of up to 160 char-
 Next MarketPro Computer                 generally mean more socializing and,     acters are broadcast to anyone interested
  Show: Sunday, August 23rd               until recently, less computer use than   in listening. This can be as important as
                                          other times of the year. But social net- on-scene reports of civil unrest or as
                                          working and new, smaller portable        needless as knowing a celebrity‘s food
ICON is a member of the                   computers have changed all that.         preference. How many ―tweets,‖ and
                                          As recently as 2006, social networking‘s from whom, is totally up to the person
                                          biggest player was MySpace. It set the receiving these messages.
                                          bar for easily creating a personal Web The younger the person, the more all of
                                          page where friends and relatives can     the above is embraced. Many older peo-
  Association of Personal                 interact by reading/viewing the goings- ple ―don‘t get it‖ and feel they don‘t need
  Computer User Groups                    on in a person‘s life, and commenting/ or want it. If that is you, then you might
                                          messaging to that person. This per-      want to know what I discovered using
                                          sonal space on the Web includes per-     Facebook. Without my doing anything,
   In This Issue...                       sonal profiles, blogs, groups, photos,   my Facebook page displays the thoughts
                                          music, and videos.                       and goings-on of distant friends (for only
Title                         Page        Facebook is now the #1 site because it me to see.) This is a definite plus as long
                                          offers all that MySpace does and much as I carefully limit the number of friends.
President’s Message ................ 1    more, more easily, using built-in pro-   It is my choice how much I interact with
Hard Drive Performance ….. 2-3            gramming that also keeps things more them or just view it all.
                                          organized. There are pop-up menus, a                        The new, highly portable ―netbooks‖
Tom Cott’s Audio World .......... 3       live chat, and add-ons that do useful                       make Facebook and Twitter available
                                          things like calendars and silly things                      wherever you go. And the current crop of
Command of the C-Prompt 4-5               like having virtual food fights. More                       ―smart phones‖ also makes access easy
Technology Revolutions ........... 6      importantly, Facebook collects and dis-                     from anywhere. After all, social network-
                                          plays on a single page, what other                          ing is all about communicating - the pri-
Winner & Meeting Photos .... 7            ―friends‖ are sharing. Facebook ‖gets‖                      mary function of cell phones. And, as I
                                          that social networking is based on                          keep reminding, they are little
About ICON/Sponsors ........... 8
                                          ―sharing.‖                                                  computers.
                                          Twitter is the ―Headline News‖ of social - Ira Brickman, ICON President

                                         This newsletter is freely offered to everyone. It may be copied, duplicated and shared with others. The information that has
                                         been placed into the newsletter has been obtained from many sources and cannot always be verified or tried on every type of
                                         computer or operating system. As such, ICON PC User Group cannot be responsible for any adverse outcomes that may
                                         result from information herein. Before applying any suggested changes, or installing recommended programs, you should
                                         backup your computer system and verify the recommendations with the manufacturers of your system and its components.
PAGE 2                                        T HE I CO N G R A PHI C                             V O LU M E 1 9 , I S S U E 7

Hard Drives, Connectors, Performance and You
Performance Drives May Be Worth The Price                                       - by Ira Brickman
 You buy a new computer and you‘re pleased that it is     transfer data at nearly those speeds. Performance of
faster than your old one. You spend time keeping it       things like your CPU, support chips, memory and
fast. You keep crapware and malware away. You             what your computer is doing while data is being trans-
add memory. After a time, as your hard drive fills up,
                                                          ferred, act to throttle maximum speed.
you decide to replace it or add another hard drive.
After all, the price of hard drives is relatively low.
                                                          You can add any or all of these connections to both
They are less expensive than ever. So you make sure
                                                          desktops and notebooks. If they aren‘t there already in
you get an inexpensive, reliable brand.
                                                          your computer, you can install a controller card. In a
But did you know that with the right new hard drive,      desktop that has SATA, adding eSATA is simply buy-
your computer can be noticeably faster? Most manu-        ing a cable – one end connects to the SATA controller
facturers decide on hard drives the same way you do,      on the mainboard, the other end has a female eSATA
if you do what is described in the paragraph above.       port. Connecting an SATA drive externally, then, re-
In average-priced desktops and notebooks alike,           quires no special electronics or interface in an external
OEM‘s find reliable, inexpensive drives; drives that      case, unlike the electronics required for USB. Inter-
are smaller than the largest drives available. Most       nally-connected SATA drives function as fast when
people aren‘t aware of this because that new proces-      externally connected by eSATA.
sor, memory and larger drive are so much faster than
                                                          OK… the above is necessary to understand my recent
their old computer.
                                                          real world experiences replacing a hard drive on my
So with a little understanding of specs and some real-    one-year old Vista notebook. It focuses on SATA
world benchmarks, you can do more for your com-           drives since those are now the standard included in all
puter than add more storage space when you buy a          desktop computers and notebooks. My notebook came
new hard drive.                                           with a 2.5‖ 250 Gb Seagate SATA internal drive. At
                                                          the beginning of the year, Seagate began shipping 500
First some information about the specifications and       Gb notebook drives. Like most modern notebook
standards for various kinds of interfaces used to con-    drives, they both rotate at 5,400 rpm and have an 8mb
nect hard drives. Newer computers use internal            cache. More recently, Seagate began shipping pre-
SATA-connected hard drives. The old internal con-         mium notebook drives that rotate at 7,200 rpm and
nection for hard drives was IDE and was called ATA.       have a 16Mb cache, including one with a 500 Gb ca-
It is now called PATA. The P stands for ―parallel.‖       pacity. I bought that premium drive, hoping the
The ―S‖ in SATA stands for ―serial.‖                      added cost would translate to a significant increase in
When drives are connected externally, directly to
your computer, your choices are USB, Firewire, and        Using an external case with an eSATA connector and
the newer eSATA (external SATA.) USB is virtually         an eSATA PC Card inserted into my notebook, I used
on every computer. The currently faster Firewire is       Acronis True image to clone my old hard drive onto
more common on Apple computers. Newest desktop
                                                          the new drive. Even with the faster interface speed, it
PC‘s often can include an eSATA connection.
                                                          took well over an hour to finish.
Slowest to fastest, here are the theoretical maximum
speeds for the fastest versions of these interfaces:      Before I replaced the notebook drive, I decided to ex-
                                                          periment. I copied to the new larger, hopefully faster
   USB 2.0 – 480 Mbps                                    drive, 35 Gb in 340 files ranging in size from 20Mb to
   FireWire 800 – 800 Mpbs                               nearly 1 Gb, using the eSATA connection. Next, I de-
   PATA – 1.6 Gbps                                       leted the files and did it again using the external
   SATA 3.0 (and eSATA) – 3.0 Gbps                       case‘s USB connection. Then I switched to a smaller
                                                          USB external drive with a 5,400 rpm, 60Gb PATA
Based on these theoretical numbers, SATA is nearly
                                                          drive with a 16Mb cache and copied the same files:
twice the speed of PATA and nearly eight times faster
                                                          Finally, I swapped out the old 260Gb for the 500Gb
than USB. In the real world, however, drives don‘t
                                                          drive, re-booted, and tried the same transfers with the
  V O LU M E 1 9 , I S S U E 7                T HE I CO N G R A PHI C                                        PAGE 3

Hard Drives—continued from page 2
 with the 250Gb SATA drive installed in the external
                                                           Members-Only Workshop:
case. Here are the results (rounded to whole
                                                           Tom Cott’s Audio World
500 Gb SATA drive:        260 Gb SATA:     60 Gb PATA:                                  -by Randy Gilbert
 eSATA 38 Mbps           eSATA 32 Mbps USB 8Mbps
 USB 25 Mbps             USB 21 Mbps
Comparing apples to apples, looking first at the USB
results, it is clear that SATA drives have a clear speed
advantage over PATA drives even though some of the
slower PATA USB results can be attributed to the IDE
to USB interface in one external case vs. a faster
SATA to USB interface in the other. Comparing the
SATA drives, the increased rpm and cache are
responsible for a definite increase in overall speed
since the case was the same in both instances. This
test revealed more than an 18% increase in speed.          At June‘s Workshop, Tom Cott gave a hands-on
Interestingly, the Vista ―Windows Experience Index‖        demonstration of audio capture and editing, to the
                                                           delight of the many members in attendance. Using a
scored the old drive at 5.3 and rated the new drive 5.9
                                                           special turntable and other more common connectors,
– an 11% increase. Benchmarks like this, and single        Tom showed us how to record sounds from various
tests like my file transfer experiment, share the same     sources on our computers, as well as bringing a
limitation: they don‘t reflect drive performance for all   startling video about home security and protecting
real world circumstances.                                  your home from ―Bump-Lock‖ thieves. This was an
                                                           important meeting for those lucky enough to attend.
So what about my real world experiences? With the          Thank you Tom for stepping up to inform your fellow
new 500 Gb drive installed in my notebook, I               members, and special thanks to Diane Fahlbusch and
                                                           John White for assisting with and providing some of
experienced faster booting times and a noticeably
                                                           the equipment and tools, as well as contributing to the
―snappier‖ performance. Opening a ―My Computer‖            discussion.
window, for example, seemed to have eliminated a           July 14, Bastille Day, points back 220 years to one of
delay I had gotten used to. Web pages seemed to open
more quickly in Internet Explorer. Microsoft Word
loaded more quickly. These are perceived, not
measured, results. But when it came to running
Photoshop, I was delighted to see it load in ten
seconds, not the 25 seconds I‘d bemoaned (and timed)
for the past year!

Keeping in mind that my notebook is now working
faster, and has more storage than when I bought it,
that makes the added price of the new drive
worthwhile to me. And with the
old drive in an external case, I can
now image my notebook drive
pretty quickly using eSATA.
Hopefully this article and a little
research on your part will benefit
you similarly when you purchase a
new hard drive.
PAGE 4                                         T HE I CO N G R A PHI C                             V O LU M E 1 9 , I S S U E 7

Command of the Command Prompt for Networks
(Second in an ongoing series of articles)                                                 - by Larry Cohen
Another useful command in your arsenal for diagnosing networks is the ping command.
Pinging sends data packets of a specific size to an IP address. Here‘s how to use it: As a first
step ping your computer's local address ( At the command prompt, type ping and wait a few seconds for a response. Windows will attempt to ping your network
card to see if it's working. If you receive packets back, you know your network adapter is OK.

A second step is to ping an external address by typing, for example, ping If
packets return, your Net connectivity is O.K.

Assuming it isn‘t, a third step is ping the IP address of your default gateway (which you
found by using the ipconfig command). If no response is received, it means Windows can't
communicate with your router, your modem, or both. And in that case, you need to check your modem and/or
router, and cables connected to them.

A helpful utility from PC called ‗iCheckConnection‘ uses the ping command as well as other services
to diagnose your connection. It can be found at—

It ―can ping a server, trace the route to a server, and time the download from a Web or FTP site. It also performs
basic checks on the status of your
Internet connection by making
sure that DNS is working and
giving you correct answers.‖ See
figure 1 below:
Figure 1 - Command Prompt Using iCheckConnection

Notice that in figure 1 ‗‘ was pinged five times in milliseconds with a speed of 2,110 Kb/s. [ To get
<2110 Kb/s> you must enter the ―http://‖ data format.] Notwithstanding the usefulness of this utility, its installa-
tion and utilization are not conventional. Here are the directions on how to install and use it from PC Pitstop‘s
website: ―To install iCheckConnection, download the utility … and save it to any directory, such as
C:\WINDOWS, on the path on your system (i.e., any of the directories Windows automatically checks when try-
ing to run a program--type PATH at a DOS prompt to see which directories are defined for your PC's path). This
way, you can run the utility from any directory in DOS. There is no further installation.‖ [Emphasis Added.]

―To use iCheckConnection, open a DOS box, MS-DOS Prompt or Command Prompt window… . From the com-
mand line, type the following (where <address> is one or more ftp:// or http:// URLs, DNS names and/or IP ad-
dresses you wish to check, separated only by a space):

iCheckConnection <address>‖ [Emphasis Added.]

For Example, type at the command prompt - ―http://‖

In conclusion, here‘s how to investigate the connection to your DSL or cable modem.

    Make sure that all of the cables are attached tightly and all of the modem lights are lit.

    Also look at the Ethernet port on your PC to verify that the link light is on; this will be a solid or blinking
     light positioned where the Ethernet cable from the modem connects to the PC. If the link light is off but the
     Ethernet cable is plugged into a powered PC, that means that the Ethernet cable is defective and needs to be

And, as a last resort before calling in a professional, in the following order: turn off your PC, then unplug the
power cord from your modem and then your router. Restart the modem next. After it has reset and its lights indi-
cate online connectivity, power up your router and wait for it to reset.

Once that is done, turn on your PC, open your browser, and check to see if you are connected.
  V O LU M E 1 9 , I S S U E 7                       T HE I CO N G R A PHI C                           PAGE 5

                                                                  Meeting Highlights
(Continued from page 4)

If all of that fails it's time to call your ISP's
technical support.                                                                 by Randy Gilbert
Note: Last month I wrote about the ipconfig
command. When using this command the IP address
given is for your router (Ex. IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . .
However, if you want the IP address for your Internet
Service Provider go to:
Here you will not only obtain the IP address of your
service provider, but if you click the address:

You will also be able to “lookup” the location and
name of your provider. See figure 2 below:

Editors note: Remember, if you are using a router,
Network Address Translation (NAT) gives your
computer a different local address from the one
provided by your ISP (ie-Optonline or Verizon).     Bernie and Shep Gorman gave a great presentation
                                                    detailing many of the ways you can capture audio and
To find your local address, use the ―dos‖ (command  video to your computer, as well as pointing out many
line) program ―IPCONFIG‖. To find your ISP-assigned sources for this entertaining material. As repeat pre-
address (your ―NAT Public‖), got to a web site like senters, ICON proudly awarded ―The Flying Gorman, or  Brothers‖ our ―Bag of Honor‖, helping them to ―go
                                                    green‖ and advertise for ICON at the same time. Also
                                                    pictured, members enjoying the meeting as well as the
                                                    library‘s wireless broadband.
PAGE 6                                               T HE I CO N G R A PHI C                                    V O LU M E 1 9 , I S S U E 7

The Technology Revolution[s] Go On
A Look Back and Ahead at Trends                                                              - by John White

history‘s three most important revolutions. Scholars of the process remind us that, like France‘s, most
revolutions are half over before the affected people know they are under way. Whether we have noticed or not,
here are some well underway:
     1. On-premises storage: Most users know the dangers of ―going naked,‖ i,e. without backing up data while
        hoping for the best. Remember those s-l-o-w hard drive backups on tape that always failed to create a full
        restore? We resolved, of course, to backup all the data, at least, on a bushel of floppies, but didn‘t get around to
        it. Iomega‘s ZIP disks held much more than 3.5‖ floppies but at too high a price. Write-once backup CDs were
        much cheaper and usable on all computers, but burning several tied up the computer and user quite a while.
        Still better were DVDs and automated external hard drives using USB or Firewire cables. Then came Vista,
        which rejected all my previous backup software programs. I still miss ―Bounceback,‖ which was included with an
        external Seagate and made file-by-file backups, not just images. Today, with 1-T drives going for a little over
        $100, nearly all of one‘s data and pictures, at least, can be salvaged easily from such a drive. Solid-state drives
        use even less energy. Their prices and capacity are tracking Moore‘s Law right on schedule. Within five years,
        spinning-platter hard drives will be found only on museum shelves near the eight-inch floppy drives. This
        month‘s 8-Gb thumb drives should be replaced with similarly-priced 64-Gb drives by next July. These, also
        known as flash drives or key drives,‖ sometimes make moving files between computers (by ―Sneaker-net‖) easier
        than getting administrator privileges and moving them via a network.
     2. Off-premises storage: This long-needed form of ―cloud computing‖ meets an urgent need. Gmail pioneered—
        and inspired its competitors to offer—2-Gb per account of free permanent storage of email and attachments on
        their distant sites. Web download sites offer a free utility to treats one‘s Gmail account as a regular drive visible
        in the My Computer folder. With a high-speed Internet connection, the drive becomes a place to store files
        without opening email. OK, that is the theory anyway. My Gmail account opens fine in the regular way, but my
        Gmail drive does not. After being told the Login failed, I clicked on the help file to find the cure, but instead got
        this message: ―The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that
        is not included in Windows Vista.” Arrrggghh. Why am I not surprised?
        For other choices for off-site storage that can be accessed from elsewhere, two popular choices at and Mozy, which boasts over a million customers, offers 2-Gb free storage per computer or unlimited
        backup for one computer at $4.95 a month. Carbonite offers a 15-day free trial, but then unlimited storage costs
        $5 monthly. Another highly-rated service, charges $4.95. Idrive, gets mixed reviews. Its
        pricing seems a bit vague, starting with 2-Gb Free Basic, then 10-Gb more free if the user supplies five email
        addresses of potential customers. I use Carbonite but Mozy‘s impressive ratings might convince to try it on
        another computer. One note of caution about selecting one other than Mozy or Carbonite: One of the Big Two
        competing with Mozy not long back was Xdrive. It shut down in January, 2009. If we want to trust our data to
        distant strangers, I only trust the current Big Two. At just $60 per year per account, even a one-terabyte
        external hard disk costs more.
3.     Device convergence: The Blackberry and iPhone stretched the minds of tech enthusiasts. Thousands of
       downloadable apps and functions quickly arrived for sale. Wireless Web access spreading throughout much public
       space, computers, cameras, and once-mundane cell phones have merged with GPS. This melding in turn raises
       expectations and inspires market options to meet them. Intel‘s tiny, cheap, low-powered Atom microprocessor
       quickly led to ultra-small Netbooks powered by the almost-abandoned Windows XP Basic. With improved
       batteries and solid-state storage drives, some of these little machines can fit in a topcoat pocket and remain self-
       powered on a flight nine hours on a flight from New York to Los Angeles and maybe to Hawaii. Tech-poor
       nations that were never wired for telephones have skipped over the copper-on-poles era and have cell phone (read
       ―Web‖) access in areas far from pave roads. Even the U.S., which is not in the top dozen of ―wireless access‖
       nations will soon convert remaining water towers, church steeples, power-plant chimneys, and bare hilltops to
       points of access. Satellites and microwave transmitters can fill most of the remaining gaps. The changes
       streaming at us with such speed compare to telescoping the Pony Express, continental telegraph and telephone
       systems, commercial radio, and television into one generation. In our immediate future we will adopt or adapt
       still-developing technologies now originating in nations that used to look to us for innovation.
                                                                     (To be continued in a future edition of the ICON Graphic)
  V O LU M E 1 9 , I S S U E 7            T HE I CO N G R A PHI C              PAGE 7

Monthly Meeting Prize Winners

                                      June’s Lucky Prize winners.
                                            Congrats to all!

Door Prizes: Another Members-only
benefit from your ICON Group!

                                 Help Wanted: See a board member today
                                 about any of our open positions. The life of your
                                 ICON club depends on you!
                                 Bob Sweet,
                                        receiving the ICON
                        Certificate of Appreciation for his
                        dedicated work at the shows, despite
                                                    illness and
Tom , Membership VP, updating the ICON database inclement
The Check-In desk will close at 7:15, so the vol-
unteers running it can enjoy our meetings too!
Please be sure to get your materials before 7:15
                                       ABOUT ICON PC User Group
                                       The ICON PC User Group was formed in 1990 by six individuals
                                       wishing to learn more about computers and has been holding meetings
                                       ever since. Most of the original six are still active members in the
 ICON Graphic Newsletter               group and our group has grown to over 150 members residing in Nas-
  Of ICON PC User Group
                                       sau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.

 ICON PC User Group, Inc.              We hold monthly general membership meetings, with special presenta-
 PO Box 14316                          tions and conduct monthly members-only workshops in a variety of
 Hauppauge, NY 11788                   subjects. Our goal is to educate computer users to get the most from
                                       their investment, using meetings, presentations, workshops, a newslet-
                                       ter and an online forum.
  ICON is a member of the
                                       The ICON PC User Group meets at the Brentwood Public Library,
                                       located on the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Fourth Street in
                                       Brentwood, Long Island, New York. The meetings are held on the first
                                       Friday of each month, from 6:30 PM until 8:45PM. EVERYONE IS

    Association of Personal            WELCOME TO ATTEND OUR MEETINGS!
    Computer User Groups               Find more information on the ICON Web site at

Our Sponsors & Supporters
Special Thanks To Each For Their Invaluable Contributions

    Thanks to Chuck at Elite Sign Wizard          Thanks to MarketPro for their continued support
     for the computer show booth banner             and table space for us at their computer shows

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