From the Kenosha News on 4-23-06

More Readers and Colleagues Provide Useful Tips

As a continuation of last week’s column, here are a few more useful tips I’ve received from readers and colleagues.

Tip #1: If you’ve been using AOL Instant Messenger to chat with individual friends, it might be time to try a group chat with multiple friends at once. Here's how to do it:

  1. Just below the buddy list, locate the "Chat" icon that looks like three people talking. Click on it.
  2. Type in the screen names of the people you want to chat with separated by commas in the top box. These users must be logged in to AIM in order to get the invitation or to chat.
  3. Enter the text of your invitation in the lower box.
  4. Name your chat room something UNIQUE or keep it as the number suggested. (If not, as a colleague explains: “I once created a group simply called "lunch" and started making plans with people somewhere in the world in addition to the people I invited.”)
  5. Click the Send button.
  6. You type your messages in the lower box as usual, and everyone’s messages show in the upper box.
  7. To add another person after the chat has begun, click the People menu and click Add a Buddy.

Tip #2: One reader was surprised that I recommend System Mechanic from He has had problems with their lack of tech support and technical problems with the product. He admonished me to read the reviews on This was a new feature of Amazon for me. Indeed, they have user reviews from real people. First go to and search for the title of the item you’re looking for. When the list of matches appears, click on the title of the item. Click on the link “Customer reviews” on the left side.

Tip #3: Another reader pointed out that my April 9 column about on-line resources for planning trips to Europe should have mentioned the value of using a travel agent. Indeed, travel agents can provide you with useful insights and research options that you might not otherwise think of.

Tip #4: Since my April 10, 2005 article concerning weak and strong passwords, I’ve learned a simple, effective way of choosing a strong password: use a phrase. First select a catchy phrase – preferably with a number and a proper noun in it. For example: “I’ve been to Disney World 4 times”. Then take the first letter of each word to get your password – IbtDW4t. That “word” meets all the criteria of a strong password. In fact, it looks totally random, but it has meaning to you, so you won’t need to write it down. Here are a few more examples: “my son’s birthday is May 13” becomes “msbiM13”, and “God is our refuge Psalm 46” becomes “GiorP46”. Try not to start your password with a number as that does not work well with some Microsoft systems.

Tip #5: In my March 19 column, I gave a web address for a travel-related blog site that was misprinted. The correct address is (with no hyphens in it.)

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 4-23-06