Diablo Blue



The Newsletter of the Diablo Valley PC Users Group


Google Docs
Presented by Jessica Mildwurm

Remember, we're in a new meeting room!
For the 2013-2014 school year at Diablo Valley College we will be meeting in room H117, still in the Humanities building.

At the December 7 DVPC meeting Jessica Mildwurm will demonstrate Google Docs. This is a set of Cloud-based applications to do word processing and more. Learn about Google Docs and how you can use it from any PC or tablet or smartphone that's connected to the internet.

So, as usual,
We'll see you on Thursday December 7, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in room H117 in the Humanities building at the Diablo Valley College campus in Pleasant Hill.

NOTE: There will be no meeting in January because of the New Year's Holiday. See you on February 6, 2014. Have fun over the holidays, and we’ll see you then.

There is parking enforcement on the DVC campus parking lots. So be sure to purchase a parking permit from one of the veding machines and put it on the left side of your dashboard where it's visible from the outside.


Where and When We Meet

DVPC monthly meetings are usual held on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Diablo Valley College In Pleasant Hill, California, on the Main Campus located at 321 Golf Club Road. We meet in room H117 (this is a new meeting room) in the Humanities Building. See the maps, driving directions, and parking information and fees, below.

Our monthly meeting starts at 7 p.m. with Random Access; this is when you can ask questions about or report on technical problems. Our SIG leaders will provide news about upcoming SIG meetings. This is followed by a presentation by our guest speaker. We close our meetings with our raffle prize drawing.

We don't meet on holidays or when the Diablo Valley College campus is closed. The following is a list of upcoming dates when we won't hold meetings:

January 2, 2014: New Year's Holiday, DVC campus will be closed.

Maps and Driving Directions,
Parking Information

The Humanities Building marked with the red arrow is where DVPC monthly meetings are held in room H-117.

Driving Directions:
680 Northbound:
Exit at Willow Pass Road
At the end of the exit ramp turn left onto Willow Pass Road
Continue on Willow Pass Road to the second signal and
turn right onto Contra Costa Blvd.

680 Southbound:
Exit at Concord Ave.
At the end of the exit ramp turn left on Contra Costa Blvd.

Direction into the Campus:
Continue on Contra Costa Blvd. to the signal at Golf Club Road and turn into Golf Club Road. At the second entrance into the campus turn left then immediately right to parking lot 7. Turn left into lot 7. Park (but don't use parking spaces that are reserved for faculty and staff only), then purchase a parking permit (see Parking Fees below) and put it on your dashboard. Click on this link (www.dvpc.org/about.html) to see:
> a detailed DVC map showing parking and our meeting room
> a map for driving to DVC
> an aerial view of the DVC campus

Parking fees:
On the Pleasant Hill campus parking permits are $3.00 per day. You can purchase permits at the parking permit machines. Parking permit machines take dollar bills as well as nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar coins, and credit cards. Note that these parking permit dispensers do not make change. DVC parking permits are required Monday through Friday at all times that classes are in session. That includes the times that DVPC meetings are held! Do not park in metered or faculty/staff spaces. Handicapped spaces are available and require a current state-issued handicapped placard or license plate.

You need to purchase a parking permit and place it face up on your dashboard so it is clearly visible through the windshield. If you attend classes at DVC and have a campus parking permit, you can use it when you attend DVPC meetings.

Parking violations:
Be sure to purchase a parking permit! Fines range from $35 for parking in a regular space without a permit, to over $275 for illegally parking in a space reserved for the handicapped.

Parking alternatives:
Some members carpool and share the parking fee; they park at Sun Valley Mall, have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the mall, then take one car to the meeting. There's limited street parking in the area near the campus. Some members park in the lots in front of College Park High School, which is across Viking Drive from DVC. Remember: if you decide to use any of these parking alternatives, you do so at your own risk!


About DVPC
by Ron Ogg, DVPC

What is a PC User Group?

From Windows to databases to web site development, whether you've had formal computer training or not, whether you use computers at work for a small business or a huge corporation, whether you're a student who wants to learn more about computers, or whether you are just a user who wants to meet with friends for sharing and learning from each other, user group members all have one thing in common – we enjoy working with our computers. We have a desire not just to learn more about that "mysterious" box we call a computer, but we have the desire to meet to learn and to share the knowledge we have with others. A PC User Group provides a place to meet and learn and share.

DVPC is a PC User Group

DVPC, the Diablo Valley PC Users Group, is the place for doing just that. DVPC members represent a wide variety of users, with ages that range from teenagers to our many valued retirees. We range in experience from PC novices to consultants and computer industry leaders, from simple users to power users to hardware and software designers. Our members use equipment that runs the full gambit from legacy systems to the latest and hottest Intel Pentium and AMD systems. So whatever your needs, interest, skills, age, or PC experience, DVPC is right for you!

Membership in DVPC is Contra Costa County's best bargain for computer users today. For just $30.00 annually (about the price of a twenty minutes with a computer technician) you can become a member of DVPC. Full time students can join for $20.00 annually.

Bring along your questions to a meeting and challenge our collective experience, someone has already been there and done that, and are eager to share the solution.

We have interesting computer-related products for our raffle held at each meeting. So be sure to attend meetings on a regular basis. As a member you'll get your first raffle ticket free each time you attend a meeting.

Members receive a notification email message with a password so they can access the current month's issue of Diablo Blue, our monthly web-based newsletter. Each issue includes articles of general interest, tips and tricks, columns by DVPC members, articles by well-known columnists, and includes the latest Dilbert cartoon.

Our meetings are casual, and our members are a fun-loving lot that ask questions about their computer hardware and software and are happy to share tips, techniques, and ideas for spirited discussion.

DVPC has a number of SIGs, Special Interest Groups that meet regularly to share specialized areas of interest. See our SIG News section below.

We hold our main monthly meeting on the first Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are open to the public – you don't have to be a DVPC member to attend. But we hope you will join DVPC so you can gain access to the current month's issue of the Diablo Blue newsletter, raffle tickets, and SIG meetings.

How to Join

DVPC annual dues are only $30/year with access to the current month's issue of our on-line web-based monthly newsletter, Diablo Blue, and only $20/year for full time students.
To join DVPC, print and fill out a Membership Application and mail it with your check to DVPC, or bring it to one of our monthly meetings that are held on the first Thursday of each month.


Watch for Updates!
by Ron Ogg, DVPC

With our method of producing and publishing the monthly Diablo Blue newsletter, we can easily add updates to each month's issue. If an article is updated,the word Updated will be added in red to its entry in the Table of Contents.

When we add a new article "mid-month" the entire entry will be shown in red in the Table of Contents.


Links to Interesting Online Articles
by Ron Ogg, DVPC

Here are links to some interesting items we've found online. Check them out!

Unable to print or view the print preview of a webpage in IE
When you try to print or view the print preview of a webpage in Internet Explorer the webpage may not print or print preview correctly...
Read more (2/2012)

FBI Megaupload Shutdown Blocks Users from Personal Files, Business Data
After law enforcement authorities shut down Megaupload, a popular file sharing service, for violating copyright laws, Internet users took to Twitter and online forums in protest, calling it a form of censorship...
Read more (2/2012)

Kohler Website — Introducing Numi, Kohler’s most advanced toilet.
The Numi toilet combines unmatched design, technology and engineering to bring you the finest in personal comfort and...
Read more (2/2012)

NASA — Amazing Images from the Space Station
We envy the International Space Station astronauts with their window on the world offering breathtaking views of the Earth and the universe...
(Found by Paul Mitchell on the ‘Love These Pics’ website)
Read more (12/2011)

IEEE Spectrum Tech Alert — Opinion: Should the U.S. Scuttle NASA?
G. Pascal Zachary, a science policy professor at Arizona State University, says that it's time for NASA to be transformed into a dispenser of funds for private space ventures...
Read more (12/2011)


Moving from a HDD to a SSD
by Gene Barlow, User Group Relations

Copyrighted April 2013

A couple of years ago, I bought a new laptop computer that I just love. It is a small Lenovo ThinkPad X120e computer, about the same size as a tablet, but it has a full keyboard and runs familiar Windows software. This lightweight unit does everything I want it to do in a portable design, and was fairly inexpensive (less than $400) to purchase. As I said, I love this small laptop computer.

The only bad thing is that it is slightly slower than I wanted. At the price I paid, I expected this to be the case. Now, a couple of years later, I wish it were a bit faster. I looked at the newer ThinkPad models that were similar in size to this model. Yes, they are faster, but to buy one would cost me over $900 today. I will live with the slower speed to avoid this major expense at this time.

Benefits of Upgrading to a SSD
As an alternative, I investigated replacing the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) inside the computer with a fast Solid State Drive (SDD). The costs of these new drives with no moving parts had dropped significantly the past year or so. Still, they were more expensive than a similar HDD. To replace my 250GB main hard drive would cost me over $200. At that price, I might as well buy a new ThinkPad instead. However, 120GB SSD were priced under $100, which was reasonable to my thinking.

So, I bought a 120GB Vertex 4 SSD as the replacement drive for my laptop. After doing some research, I decided on this model. This was a 4th generation SSD from Vertex, a reliable brand. It was faster and had a longer life than their older models. Going with the latest SSD made sense to me.

With the new SSD installed and running in my computer, I am very excited at the changes it made. It boots up and runs about 25% faster than my old HDD. It also runs cooler, which is important on laptop computers. Since the SSD is slightly lighter than the HDD it replaced, I have less weight to carry around. Without moving parts, the SDD is more durable than a HDD. The SSD is also quieter than the HDD. Very importantly, I can expect my battery to last longer between charges. To net it all out, I just upgraded my laptop computer for about $100 and ended up with the performance of a similar computer costing $900. That is a great savings in my mind.

How to upgrade to a SSD
Now, in case I have motivated you to consider upgrading your HDD to a SSD drive in your computer, let me tell you how easy it was to do this, using the right tools. Before starting this process, I decided to upgrade my BIOS to the latest release for my computer. I didn’t want issues with the BIOS and my new SSD hard drive. This was a short process by going to my computer manufacturer’s website and downloading the latest BIOS for my computer model. I carefully followed their instructions to do this and in less than 5 minutes, my computer’s BIOS was up to date.

The next issue I faced was going from a larger (250GB) HDD to a smaller (120GB) SDD. Fortunately, my hard drive was not very full and I had empty space to give up. If the used space on my hard drive was larger than the new SSD drive, I would have had to delete some of the files. That was not the case, so all I was faced with was to reduce the size of the five partitions on my HDD. I used Acronis Disk Director 11 Home to resize each of the partitions on my old HDD. Then I moved each smaller partition towards the beginning of the drive, again using Disk Director. This organized all of my five partitions in the first 120GB of the HDD. The remainder of the HDD was just unallocated space on the drive.

With my old HDD prepared with smaller partitions, I was now ready to copy them to the new SDD. Since most laptops only have room for one hard drive inside the computer, I purchased a special cable to let me attach my new SDD to a USB port on my laptop. This Notebook Drive Upgrade Kit by Apricorn was less than $40 at Best Buy. I attached my new SSD drive to one end of the cable and the other I plugged into a USB port on my laptop. The upgrade kit came with a CD containing software to clone my main drive to the SSD drive, but since I trusted my Acronis True Image 2013 Home backup utility, I used the clone function in True Image to duplicate the contents of my HDD onto the SSD drive. This took about 30 minutes to complete and all went very smoothly.

When the cloning function was completed, I powered off my computer, removed the battery, and then replaced the old HDD inside the laptop with the new SSD I had just finish cloning. When I powered up the computer, it ran without a hitch, only much faster, quieter, and taking less power. This was a very easy enhancement to my ThinkPad and it gave me tremendous improvements to my favorite laptop.

To order Acronis True Image Home 2013 or Acronis Disk Director 11 Home from us, go to www.ugr.com and select the products you wish to purchase. Once you are on that product’s page, click on the appropriate Buy Now button to place your order. We charge only $25 for a single license or $60 for a three license Family Pack. You can order a download copy or we can mail you a CD with the software on it. (There is a $5 shipping fee per order if you order the CD.) When checking out of the shopping cart, enter in the special order code of UGNL0413.

If you have questions about this article or the True Image or Disk Director products, send an email to support@ugr.com and I will try to help you with your questions.

This is one of a series of technical articles that I distribute to those that have subscribed to this newsletter. You can subscribe at www.ugr.com/NewsletterRegistration.html.  Watch for them and learn more about your computer and its hard drive. If you do not want to receive these newsletters, simply reply and ask to have your name removed from the list and I will do so immediately. User group newsletter editors may print this article in their monthly newsletter as long as the article (between the two horizontal lines) is printed in its entirety and not cut or edited. Please send me a copy of the newsletter containing the article so that I can see what groups are running the articles.


Electronic Waste — Where to Dispose of It
by Peggy Johnson, DVPC

Here's an updated list of ewaste donation sites in Central Contra County County. We've included sites where you can recycle single-use and rechargeable batteries, and to dispose of unneeded pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications. Be sure to check the websites to determine what they will accept. If you know or learn of others, please let me know with the location, hours, and website URL.

Computers and Electronics

Rapid Recycle
110 Second Ave., South B-1
Pacheco, CA 94553
Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Recycle for Breast Cancer
31 Beta Court, Suite C
San Ramon, CA 94583
7 days a week excluding holidays 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A completed donation form is requested at the time of donation; this form can be downloaded from their website

e-Recycle OnUs
1271 Boulevard Way
(at back left corner past East Bay Art and CTA)
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where to recycle Batteries

Single-Use Household Batteries
Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority
This site has a list of locations for recycling various types of batteries throught Central Contra Costa County; enter batteries and select the type of battery from the drop-down list

Rechargeable Batteries, Specialty Batteries, and Cellphones

How and where to Dispose of Unneeded Pharmaceutical and Over-the-Counter Medications

Walnut Creek City Hall
1666 North Main Street, Walnut Creek
Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Look for the green Pharmaceutical Disposal bin
Please don't flush your drugs!

How and Where to Recycle or Dispose of Other Household Waste Items

Central Contra Costa Sanitary District
The CCCSD has a two-page Disposal Guide for Central Contra Costa County brochure that can be viewed online or printed. This handy guide tells how to dispose of common household waste in safe, simple, and environmentally healthy ways. Click on the link below to access the brochure.

This brochure requires Adobe Acrobat Reader; you can download and install the latest version of Acrobat Reader by clicking this icon.

Get Adobe Acrobat Reader


SIG News

Adobe Elements SIG Meeting Program
by Peggy Johnson, DVPC

The next Elements SIG meeting will be held on Thursday, September 26 at Peggy's home.

We will have a summer recess for the months of July and August and resume SIG meetings in September.

If you have any questions or would like to be added to the Elements SIG mailing list, contact Peggy at pegszone(at)aol.com.


Windows SIG Meeting Program
by Walt Parsons, DVPC

There will be no Windows SIG meeting in October. Check back for information about the November meeting.

The Windows SIG meetings are usually held in the Meeting Room at the Walnut Creek-Ygnacio Valley Branch Library. It's located at 2661 Oak Grove Road in Walnut Creek. Take Ygnacio Valley Road east to Oak Grove Road, turn right and go south approximately 3 blocks to the library entrance. It's the second driveway on the right past the stop sign. The entrance to our meeting room is on the south side of the building near the back of the parking lot.

Ygnacio Branch Library

View Interactive Map

Ygnacio Branch Library


The Daily Dilbert Cartoon
by Scott Adams