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Table of Contents
Some developments at
Registry Cleaners
Tutorial. Cut and keep.
Windows tips:
Great Sites

**** Apparently the ghost of Richard Nixon is haunting tens of thousands of computers across the globe. In this edition we'll show you how to deal with that or prevent it happening to you and your family.

We have news, mainly from the world of technology, but we slipped in a few 'general interest' pieces to lighten the mood. Bureaucratic madness is a "must read" for anyone concerned about the way we are governed, and "talking lampposts" provides an insight into how we are being controlled.

There's a debate about registry cleaners and whether we need them, a couple of tutorials, explaining how to do things you never knew you needed to do, a few tips and tricks to impress your non-geek friends, and a host of interesting links to such diverse topics as the relevance of voodoo in the modern world and what to do if your laptop explodes.

We hope you enjoy this edition.

Some developments at
**** We have two new features on the website. We have a downloads section, containing a large selection of programs for you to download. Most are free and included are antivirus, firewall and spyware programs. As well as this there are diagnostic aids, zip utilities, and a whole host of useful and fun products. When you log in the downloads section (proto.downloads) is in the left pane.

We have upgraded our message boards. The topics range from technical discussions to bawdy humour. Hundreds of people contribute, and the wide ranging subjects ensure that you can have fun and also learn. Log in and click on proto.boards in the left pane or visit:

**** You could get hacked watching a movie:

It seems the simple act of watching a movie on your PC can now put you at risk. Apple have rushed out a patch to counter a vulnerability in QuickTime that allows "maliciously crafted movie and image files to be used to execute harmful code on vulnerable computers.",1895,2015516,00.asp

Is your antivirus powerless against Trojan threat?

Sophos, the UK security company, report that over 70% of new threats are Trojans. More worrying is the method of delivery. They are often sent in large volume spam campaigns lasting a single day, two at most. This means that many thousands get delivered before the antivirus companies can issue an update to detect them. This has always been the case of course, that antivirus providers can only react once a virus is unleashed, but the trend towards high volume mailing of Trojans, as opposed to worms which propagate slowly, is worrying. -;jsessionid=CJNJWCKZRM520QSNDLOSKH0CJUNN2JVN
Bureaucratic madness:

We have all at some time been caught up in the red tape that permeates our daily lives, and it seems that those who govern and control our lives are determined to infiltrate every aspect of it with an ever increasing intensity. Here's something to ponder. The Lord's Prayer has 66 words. The Ten Commandments contain a total of 179 words. The Gettysburg address runs to 286 words, but the European Union's directive on the sale of cabbages contains 26,253 words! My first reaction was to smile at the absurdity of it, but it really isn't that funny.

Talking lampposts:

In Middlesbrough (England) there are 158 cameras at various points in the town keeping watch over its citizens. Seven of these cameras have been fitted with loudspeakers attached to lampposts so that whoever is in the control room can send out a message to anyone committing antisocial acts. Here is a real encounter between a woman journalist and a talking lamppost. Picture the scene:
A woman is strolling among the Saturday morning shoppers and drops a coffee cup. "Hey lady, pick up the cup," booms a voice from the heavens. The woman stops, startled, and embarrassed by the stares she is getting. "Yes, you in the white dress, pick up the cup," the unseen voice continues. The woman meekly retraces her steps and picks up the cup.
Some will argue this is a great advance in curbing antisocial behaviour, but I can't help feeling we are in the midst of an Orwellian nightmare.

Laptop explodes at conference:

This news is now quite old, but worthy of inclusion because it is either funny or disturbing, depending on your outlook. A laptop suddenly burst into flames at a conference in Japan. An eyewitness offers this advice to us all in the event we come across an exploding laptop. "Fire extinguishers leave a mess on your suit and belongings; pack your stuff (if you can) and leave, leave, leave!" Sound advice indeed!

More news about computers:

For those of you who want more news from the world of computing, the following are good sites:

And if you Google for computer news you'll find loads more:

There are also news items on which is well worth a visit.

Registry Cleaners
**** There is much debate about the value of registry cleaners: on one side are those who can't live without them, and on the other, those who see them as unnecessary and even dangerous. On such a polarised battlefield it is difficult to know which side to join. I asked my friend Roger, who is a vet, to visit a well known computer retailer for advice about whether he should buy one. This is what happened:
Roger: "Good morning, I'm thinking of buying a registry cleaner."
Salesperson: "A wise move sir, we have many in stock."
Roger: "Why is it a wise move?"
Salesperson: "Er, it will improve your system performance."
Roger: "I'd like that. In what way will it improve my system?"
Salesperson: scanning the back of a large box containing only a cdrom and a tiny booklet: "The registry keep growing when you use Windows. As it does so, it stores obsolete and unnecessary information, and gradually becomes cluttered and fragmented. With the growing of the registry, it can degrade the performance of the whole system and cause many weird software problems."
Roger: "Weird software problems?"
Salesperson: "Every time you install some software it makes entries in the registry. When you uninstall the software some registry entries get left behind."
Roger: "And this is a problem?
Salesperson: "Yes."
Roger: "Why?"
Salesperson: "It slows the system down."
Roger: "And using a registry cleaner speeds it up again?"
Salesperson: "Exactly."
Roger: "Is there any evidence for that?
Salesperson: "What do you mean?"
Roger: "Evidence. Research: proof, or do I have to accept your word that I will get a faster PC?"
Salesperson: "Millions of satisfied customers can't be wrong sir."
Roger: "Did you ever hear of the South Sea Bubble?"
Salesperson: "No."
Roger: "I thought not."
Salesperson: "Think of it like a phone directory, if it contains a lot of unused numbers it gets fat and is harder to use. The registry is like that."
Roger: "A fat phone book is no harder to use than a thin one, it's an alphabetical listing, and M is somewhere near the middle, Z at the end and so on."
Salesperson: "Windows doesn't work like that sir."
Roger: "No? How does it work?"
Salesperson: "Er, differently, in sequence I think."
Roger: "OK, I see that, so if I have 100 registry entries that Windows goes through to find the one it wants, and I reduce that to 90, how much time will I save?
Salesperson: "It's hard to say."
Roger: "Enough time to make coffee? Or less time than it takes to blink?"
Salesperson: "Coffee might be pushing it; do you want to buy this?"
Roger: "No thanks." Roger is leaving.
Salesperson: Calling after him: "But what about the weird software problems?"

There is no doubt that the registry grows over time: and that some of the entries left behind are not needed. However, the big question is how many obsolete entries are too many? And what is the benefit in getting rid of them? How much time will removing 50 obsolete entries really save? How big is the risk of "weird" software problems? Even if you believe the sales pitch this must depend on how many programs you have installed and uninstalled, and how fat your registry is.

The registry is a place where most PC users fear to go. Having a utility that keeps it in good shape seems attractive. However, the benefits of a registry cleaner will differ from PC to PC, and each individual user must decide whether to invest in one. If you need detailed advice about your PC and whether you would benefit from a registry cleaner, please post a question at

Tutorial. Cut and keep.
**** How to send large files using Outlook Express:

Outlook Express has a terrific, but strangely, little known facility for splitting files and reassembling them in the recipient's inbox. The person receiving the file must also be using Outlook Express or an email program that also has the facility.
You can set Outlook express to do this automatically:

1. Open Outlook Express and click on Tools. Open the accounts section and select your email account.
2. Select Mail, then Properties, and click the Advanced tab.
3. You'll see a box with the words "Break apart messages larger than". Put a check mark in the box and enter the maximum file size in the KB field. 1Mb is a good size for email.

What Outlook Express will do when you want to send (say) a 20Mb file, is to break it into 20 separate emails each with a 1Mb attachment which will be reassembled when received.

How to make a personal screen saver using your own photos:

With Windows XP you can create a screen saver using a collection of your own photographs. It is easiest to do this if you put the pics in /My Documents/My pictures, but not essential, any folder can be used.

1. Right click on some clear space on your desktop and select Properties.
2. Open the screen saver tab and scroll down the list of screensavers, select My Pictures slideshow.
3. Now click the Settings button. In here you can set how long each pic shows for, size, transition effects etc.
4. If you are not using the My Pictures folder, click the browse button and browse to and select whichever folder you want to use.
5. Click OK, then on the Properties page click Apply, then OK to close the window

Windows tips:
**** Lost mail passwords:

Have you ever forgotten the password required to access your mail. This happened to me when windows put the password in the box twice. The answer to such dilemmas is here: It's a small utility called mail pass view, and it works like magic.

Windows Annoyance

Whenever you install a new program and click open the start to use it, Windows put up a notice that tells you you installed a new program! To stop this happening.
*Open the Start menu and right click on your name (at the top). Select Properties.
*Click open the Start Menu tab and then click the Customise button.
*Open the Advanced tab. There is an item called "Highlight newly installed programs". *Uncheck the box.
*Click OK to close the advanced window, and on the main window click Apply, then OK to close it.

Great Sites
**** Did you know that a couple can be legally married by a voodoo priest? At least in Haiti they can. Voodoo still plays a significant part in the lives of many across the world and is an ancient and respected religion. And I thought it was simply an excuse for sex and dancing!
If you've ever dreamed of being a rock star and playing guitar like Eric Clapton, this site is for you. Guitar Vision shows you how to play the songs you download, showing the fretboard positions as if you had your own teacher sitting in front of you. isn't all free, but the basic download is and there are enough free lessons to get you hooked.

And finally…………. The ghost of Richard Nixon.

Article Contributors: Phil Dodd, Brian McCabe, Eleanor Nario, and Mark Crowles-Groves


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