MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

Vol. 2004c

Welcome to this edition of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way.

First, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to use Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter--at least monthly.  Second, keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.  Last, obtain all the critical Windows updates.

Featured in This Issue
1.     USB Memory Keys
2.     Making On-Line Purchases
3.     Small (website)

1.    USB Memory Keys
USB Memory keys used for file backups come in lots of types and sizes of disk storage.  Typically they can store 128MB, 256MB or 512MB of files though the larger ones take lots of time to make a full transfer.  Some of the keys come as an add-on to a ball point pen.  Most have keyring attachments.  My preference is the 256MB storage size which costs about $90.

For ease of use, they beat burning CD-R's though the CD-R's usually hold 650MB of files if you need that amount of storage.  Generally the drivers are already on-board Windows XP computers.  Windows 98, ME, etc. require a routine download and installation of the driver from the company's website.

Simply insert the USB memory key in a USB slot of a computer and then use Windows Explorer to make the file transfers. &nbps;The memory key is treated as a disk drive and is assigned a letter such as E or F.

2.    Making On-Line Purchases
The Internet is a great place to find stuff that you need to buy on-line.  Just remember to do it safely.  I suggest that for your records, you keep track of the date, time, website URL, what you bought, how much you paid, and which credit card you used.  If you spot a transaction number or phone number to call listed on the website, those can really be useful if any problems result from the purchase so record them too.

Here's a short list of best practices:

  • A secure website must have its URL begin https:// not http:// for credit card operations.
  • The site should show a locked padlock symbol.
  • Double-click on the padlock to find out who owns the certificate.
  • If possible use only one credit card for all on-line transactions.
  • Give out only required information.
  • Read everything before continuing to another page.
  • If you can, print out the final invoice.
  • Close the browser when you're finished.
  • Never do financial transactions on a public computer.  (Your keystrokes could be logged--stealing your private information!)
  • Review your credit card bill later to make sure all transactions are okay.

3.    Small (website)
I come from a generation which believes that broken devices should be fixed if the parts and the fix isn't too expensive.  Small is a great site for parts for items such as cookware, humidifiers, shavers, kitchen appliances, etc.

For best results when needing parts, first identify the manufacturer of the device and its model or type number.  Required parts can be purchased with a credit card and shipped via this website.  This site also does repairs and warranty services.  Be prepared to pay shipping costs both ways.

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E-mail to the editor: David Mawdsley

Copyright © 2004, The MadMod Computing Newsletter