I make computing clear!
Douglas E. Welch, The WelchWrite Company, Inc.
818-781-6955 | douglas@welchwrite.com | www.welchwrite.com

January 2004


There is an old proverb that says, "even if a donkey goes traveling, he still comes back a donkey." While this may be true in some part, I believe that traveling is one great way to open your mind to new ideas, new horizons and new people. I can almost guarantee you that you will come back changed in some way, large or small.

We just returned from 2 weeks in Sicily, visiting relatives of my wife. One of the first jokes that arose from this trip was "Quando?" Quando means "when" in Italian and it seems that we used it every 5 minutes. When are we going to lunch? When are we leaving for the visit? When is the festa? It was only by seeing through the eyes of the relatives that we realized how focused (some might say hyper-focused) on the "when" of everything to an often absurd degree. After a few days, we eased up on the when and settled into vacation mode, where things happened as they may. Of course, the family lived this way every single day and not just on vacation. Just one example of how traveling, especially to a foreign country, can hold up a mirror to your life.

Take some time this year to get out of your normal sphere of travel. You might be surprised how different everything can look.

You referrals are welcomed and greatly appreciated!

Back in town (and country)

We are now back in the country after our holiday trip to Sicily. It might take me a few days to adjust to Pacific Time again, but I am available to start booking appointments, as needed.

The New Year can be a great time for re-dedicating yourself to some important goal. Many people think about weight loss or finding a new job, but I would recommend a thorough look at your computer systems and software. Is there some problem that has been bothering you for a long time? Why not dedicate some time to solving that problem, whether it means replacing your computer, upgrading your software or getting some training to assist you in your computer productivity. I always believe in trying to make each year better than the last and the New Year is a great time to start.

After a little calculation, I find that I have about 120 hours of available time for my clients, not counting weekends and evening, which I book on an "as needed" basis. Each month I find these hours booked more and more quickly. If you are looking to schedule a piece of my time, I highly recommend doing so as early in the month as possible.

I am also looking to book more time with those of your who have small offices of 5-10 people and could benefit from regularly scheduled weekly visits to answer questions, install hardware and software and develop larger technology projects. In this was, I can function as a mini-IT (information technology) staff for your office and even assist in developing your own in-house staff.

I wish you all a Prosperous and Happy New Year!

In the news...

Top 10 Wireless Technologies for the Home

You're probably familiar with 802.11b (aka Wi-Fi), the wireless networking standard that's sweeping the world. Wi-Fi hotspots are popping up everywhere, from coffee shops to airports to restaurants. Wi-Fi networking is now a standard feature on virtually all new notebook computers, and for people with physically isolated PCs, it's also a must-have option on desktop computers. But Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies aren't just about connecting computers. These days, you'll also find Wi-Fi in a host of non-PC devices, including set-top boxes, wireless adapters for video game consoles, Pocket PCs, and more. Let's take a look at the top 10 wireless technologies for the home.... [Lockergnome Tech News Watch]

California bans using computers or watching TV while driving

Guess you won't be able to use that Executive Laptop Steering Wheel Mount we wrote about a few weeks ago. At least not while driving... [Gizmodo]

Macworld secrets: Mac OS X Hints

Take a look at some ways to see more in Finder windows, tweak your iChat messages so they contain multiple lines, print pages to PDF, assign multiple genres to iTunes tracks, know how much is in your Trash, take advantage of Unix's redirection command, train Mail only once, and more. [MacCentral]

The Mirra arrives

The Mirra Personal Server is finally out. Basically, a hard drive that connects to your home network, the Mirra can be set to automatically backup and synchronize files from all the computers in the house so that if there's a crash, you'll always have your data. It can also be accessed remotely over the Internet if you ever need to get some file while on the road or want to share MP3s or digital photos with friends. We've been playing around with one for the past week or so, and it works as advertised (well, except that the first one they sent was defective). It's been automatically backing up our documents folder, and we were able to upload our MP3 collection and then access it from a web browser. Om Malik has some more details about the Mirra on his blog. Read - Mirra.com Read - GigaOm... [Gizmodo]

Mac OS X: Configure Directory Access to Protect Your Mac From a Malicious DHCP Server

This tech note details how to configure your Mac OS X system so that a malicious user cannot access this security exploit. Most people are unaffected by this issue, but if you regularly use your Mac to access public Wi-Fi wireless connections, there is a slight chance you could run into it. The included steps are clear and simple to execute using built-in Mac OS X applications. [My Word with Douglas E. Welch

Hijacked Computers Responsible For One-Third Of All Spam

Plenty of stories have been written about how many spammers are now using hijacked machines infected with some sort of trojan horse program to send out their spam. However, someone from an anti-virus company is saying that these "Remote Access Trojans (RATs)" are now responsible for one-third of all spam. Ouch. Of course, they don't back this up with any evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's true. They seem to be getting plenty of publicity for this statement - but don't give any suggestions on how to solve this problem. If they're hyping it so much, you'd think those same articles would tell people how to protect themselves. Since the issue is so widespread, and education is unlikely to help, you have to wonder if a better solution is to have the broadband ISPs help out by determining which machines have been turned into "zombies" and alerting the owners. [Techdirt

AOL Instant Messenger Virus

W32.Spybot.Worm has mutated to a new form that affects AOL Instant Messenger. Users have reported that the virus takes over the chat window and will periodically post a hyperlink in the current IM window. From what I’ve heard the virus is difficult to remove and all it is known to do is annoy AOL IM users. If you get the virus, follow Symantec’s removal instructions. Note that the remo...(from Webspiffy) [Localfeeds: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Hold the Presses: No December Security Bulletins

Today is security-bulletin Tuesday for the month of December for Microsoft. And it seems the company is claiming it has none to issue. The zero-bulletin news comes, ironically, at the same time as a report from Symantec on the worst security risks discovered in November. [Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley]

Nasty new IE hole

A new MS Internet Explorer vulnerability is discovered. Most digerati already know about the spammer and lamer trick to publish URLs that look like legitimate hostnames to fool people in to trusting a malicious site. This trick is frequently used by spammers to steal people's PayPal accounts, by tricking them in to "resetting" their password at a site owned by the spammer but disguised as PayPal.com. Today's new IE vulnerability is significantly worse. By including an 0x01 character after the @ symbol in the fake URL, IE can be tricked in to not displaying the rest of the URL at all. Don't expect a patch right way, the guy who found the hole released it to BugTraq on the same day he notified Microsoft. (via Simon Willison) [MetaFilter]

IE bug lets fake sites look real

Microsoft says it is looking into reports of a potential bug in its Web browser that could help malicious hackers design convincing Web site spoofs. [CNET News.com]

Stupendous Software releases six free iMovie tutorials online

Stupendous Software had released six free iMovie tutorials available for viewing online and for download. The tutorials are entitled: Textured Backdrops, Basic Compositing: Masks, Grainy Black & White Look, Intermediate Compositing: Glow Outline, Intermediate Compositing: Blue & Green Screen, and Silent Film Look. More info and links here. [MacDailyNews]

The iPod: a digital photographer's best friend

MobileWhack points to an article by Derrick Story on MacDevCenter.com about using the iPod (with Belkin's memory card reader attachment) as not just a digital... [Gizmodo]

40GB portable hard drive/card reader/MP3 player

New from Vosonic, a portable 40GB USB 2.0 hard drive with a built-in 6-in-1 card reader (for storing photos when you run out of... [Gizmodo]

Happy New Worm

Antivirus experts are warning of a troublesome, Christmas-themed e-mail worm and a virus that spreads via MSN Messenger, the popular instant-messaging application. [CNET News.com]

Wireless for the Masses

If we're certain about anything around here, it's that the future will be wireless. These days, "information wants to be free" has little to do with cost, and everything to do with getting off the leash of an ethernet (or... [Another World Is Here]

Computer Discussion Group at the Sherman Oaks Branch of the LA Public Library

My computer "classes" at the library continue through December and into 2004. If your friends or co-workers would like an example of how I teach and coach computer users through large and small issues, I recommend they stop by some evening. This is probably the best way to get to know me and my methods.

Each class starts with a a short presentation on some interesting technology, web site or software, but then quickly becomes an energetic question and answer session, where I answer the questions that are most pressing in the minds of the attendees.

The next meeting is January 8th at 6:30 pm.

Currently scheduled for 2004:

January 22
February 12 & 26
March 11 & 25

The Sherman Oaks Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library is located at 14245 Moorpark Street Sherman Oaks, CA -- Telephone 818-205-9716.

A printable flyer is available here.

Remember to update operating systems and anti-virus programs


The beginning of each month is the perfect time to ensure that your operating system (Windows/Macintosh OS) and anti-virus software are up-to-date. Your anti-virus software cannot protect your computer from the latest viruses without these updates. Updates are released at least once a month, unless a new virus is dangerous enough to justify an immediate update.

Operating System Updates

For Windows (98, 2000, XP), there should be an icon labeled Windows Update in your Start Menu

For Macintosh OS 9 systems, check Apple Menu, Control Panels, Software Update
For Macintosh OS X systems, check System Preferences, Software Update

Most systems can be set to automatically check for updates directly from the Internet, as well. If you want to learn how to set up automatic updates for these programs, drop me an email or give me a call.

Small office/home office staffing

Did you know that Douglas can act as your own personal, in-house Information Technology staff?

If you or your employees need regular assistance with office tasks, software upgrades, network servers, backups or a host of other services, why not set up a regularly scheduled appointment?

Email or Phone today to set up your standing appointment!

Standard hourly rates apply.



The Animal Rescue Site



Software Updates


iMOnTime - Reminder tool with complex repeating options, email alerts

Security Update 2003-12-05 - available via Software Update Updates Safari to prevent unauthorized access to a user's cookies.

QuickTime 6.5 Update

QuickTime 6.5 delivers a number of new features and important updates, including:
- Creation and playback of mobile multimedia in the new 3GPP2 format.
- Creation and playback of mobile multimedia in the popular AMC format.
- Improved text track support.
- Enhanced DV playback options.
- Enhanced support for iMovie, iDVD, and Final Cut Pro

Security Update 2003-12-19

Security Update 2003-12-19 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users.
This update includes the following components:
AFP Server
Directory Services
System Initialization
For more information on this update, please visit this website: http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n61798

iTunes 4.2

iTunes 4.2 allows you to sign in and buy music from the iTunes Music Store using either your AOL or Apple Account, view the iTunes Music Store in a separate window, and includes a number of performance improvements.
Music sharing requires Mac OS X version 10.2.4 or later, and AAC encoding requires QuickTime 6.2 or later.

StuffIt Expander 8.0.2

Free, award-winning StuffIt Expander gives you access to virtually any file you download from the Internet or receive in your email. Expander handles all common compression formats, including .sitx archives created by the new StuffIt X file format. Whether you come across a file compressed on a PC, Mac, or other platform, Expander helps you open it quickly and easily. [Mac OS X Downloads]



Bowling Game


Two player chess game

Cuckoo Clock - 2.0

Your Palm will cuckoo every hour [VersionTracker: PalmOS]


Track the fuel efficiency of your automobile. Simply enter the mileage and amount refilled on each visit to the gas station, and the application takes care of the rest. GPL (v 1.6.2) [PalmOpenSource.com]




Automatically detects and can remove all common forms of spyware programs including Trojans, system monitors, keyloggers and adware. Regular updates to the spy definition database offer the most comprehensive protection available! [WebAttack.com latest software]

No Spam Today! for Workstations v1.0.1.1

No Spam Today! for Workstations is a POP3 spam filter for Outlook, Outlook Express and all other POP3 email clients, that uses the SpamAssassin engine to perform Bayesian filtering of incoming messag.... [WebAttack.com latest software

Software Updates of all sorts


Douglas Recommends...

Looking for new anti-virus software, a Palm PDA or books? Check out Douglas Recommends...

It contains direct Amazon links to some of my favorite Books, Hardware and Software. These are the items I find myself constantly recommending and I wanted to share them with you. I will be adding new items regularly, so check back often.

If you are looking for a recommendation on anything particular, let me know and I will add it to this page.

Check it out!



WelchWrite Merchandise

Canyon Sunflower Merchandise - mouse pads, postcards, greeting cards, tote bags

I will soon have a book, The High-Tech Career Handbook, available from the same source. Watch this space for further information.

If you are shopping for holiday presents through Amazon.com, you can use the WelchWrite Bookstore. Simply click on the link below to start your shopping and WelchWrite receives a small portion (around 5%) of each sale.

Career-Op, now in its 6th year, is my weekly column on high-tech careers. In Career-Op, I address some of the particular issues of working in high-tech and also general issues that we all face in our careers. You can find the latest column, and a complete archive of past columns complete archive of past columns.

Latest Column

Career-Op: 2004
by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine
Despite what some people might think, the New Year is not some magic wand that can wave away all the problems of the last year. Was it only so! Instead, the New Year is simply a demarcation, a line in the sands of time, a pointer that reminds us where we are in our lives. The usual problems will still be there awaiting our attention on January 2nd, but we can use the New Year as a gentle reminder to rededicate ourselves to our families and our careers.

My weblog, My Word with Douglas E. Welch, is a daily gathering spot for all the information I come across in my travels. There I announce new software updates, post photos, highlight interesting news stories, book recommendations and LA Events. You can check it out at: http://www.welchwrite.com /blog/

A Recent Entry:


In preparation for our upcoming trip, I thought I would work on my sketching skills. I want to spend time capturing the beauty of the Sicilian landscape, both urban and rural, so as we sat a dinner last night, I pulled out my journal and did this quick drawing.

A Gardener's Notebook is a daily weblog of the trials and tribulations of a part-time gardener. It includes notes on what is blooming, what I am planting and what is struggling. It also contains links to new (or newly found) gardening books and more. Spend some time in my garden! http://welchwrite.com/agn/blog/

A Recent Entry:

Rose Pruning Seminar

It is that time of year again, when most gardeners prune back their roses to prepare them for their Spring growth spurt.

Roger's Gardens, in Corona del Mar, is sponsoring a free rose pruning lecture with Cristin Fusano at 9am on January 10th.

For further information and directions, visit the Roger's Garden web site at http://rogersgardens.com/


Interesting Web Sites

WhatGoes Around http://whatgoesaround.org/

"A new non-profit organization that's revolutionizing giving in America." A gift registry where you can list the charities you'd like people to donate to in your name.[Neat New Stuff]


More web sites of all sorts

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Contact Information

I am available for assistance via telephone, cell phone, e-mail and instant messaging.
The fee for assistance via these methods is my basic hourly rate, pro-rated by the minute.

Contact Numbers:

Office 818-781-6955
Cell 818-601-0051
Email douglas@welchwrite.com
AOL Instant Messenger WelchWrite