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Thursday, April 27, 2006

UICI Announces That Shareholders Approve Merger Agreement With Group of Private Equity Investors

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas, March 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- UICI
(NYSE: UCI), a leader in the health insurance market for self-employed
individuals, today announced that its shareholders, at a special meeting held
today in Bedford, Texas, approved the previously announced merger agreement
providing for the acquisition of the Company by affiliates of a group of
private equity investors, including The Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs
Capital Partners and DLJ Merchant Car Insurances Quotes Banking Partners. More than 39.0 million
shares, representing approximately 84.0% of UICI's outstanding common shares,
were voted at the meeting, Home Insurances with more than 99.4% of voted shares voting in
favor of the merger proposal.
Subject to the satisfaction or waiver of the conditions to closing in the
merger agreement, UICI and the private equity investors anticipate closing the
merger transaction on Wednesday, April 5, 2006. Upon the closing of the
merger, holders of record of UICI common shares (other than shares held by
certain members of management and shares held through UICI's agent stock
accumulation plans) will be entitled to receive $37.00 in cash per share in
the merger, subject to the Insurances Free terms of the merger agreement. The UICI common
shares are currently expected to be delisted from trading on the New York
Stock Exchange on April 4 following the close of the market.

CORPORATE PROFILE:
UICI (headquartered in North Richland Hills, Texas) through its
subsidiaries offers insurance (primarily health and life) to niche consumer
and institutional markets. Through its Self-Employed Agency Division, UICI
provides to the self-employed market health insurance and related insurance
products, which are distributed primarily through the Company's dedicated
agency field forces, UGA-Association Field Services and Cornerstone America.
Through its Student Insurance Division, UICI provides tailored health
insurance programs for students enrolled in universities, colleges and
kindergarten through grade twelve. Through its Star HRG Division, UICI
markets, administers and underwrites limited benefit insurance plans for entry
level, high turnover, hourly employees. Through its Life Insurance Division,
UICI offers life insurance products to selected markets. Through its ZON Re
USA unit, the Company underwrites, administers and issues accidental death,
accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), accident medical and accident
disability insurance policies, both on a primary and on a reinsurance basis.
For more information, visit http://www.uici.net .

SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT UNDER THE PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT
OF 1995:
Some of the matters discussed in this news release may contain forward-
looking statements that are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and
assumptions. Such forward-looking statements are intended to be identified in
this document by the words "anticipate", "believe", "estimate", "expect",
"intend", "objective", "plan", "possible", "potential" and similar
expressions. Actual results may vary materially from those included in the
forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ
materially from those included in the forward-looking statements include, but
are not limited to, general economic conditions; the continued ability of the
Company to compete for customers and insureds in an industry where many of its
competitors may have greater market share and/or greater financial resources;
the Company's ability to accurately estimate medical claims and control costs;
changes in government regulation that could increase the costs of compliance
or cause the Company to discontinue marketing its products in certain states;
the Company's failure to comply with new or existing government regulation
that could subject it to significant fines and penalties; changes in the
relationship between the Company and the membership associations and/or
changes in the laws and regulations governing so-called "association group"
insurance (particularly changes that would subject the issuance of policies to
prior premium rate approval and/or require the issuance of policies on a
"guaranteed issue" basis); significant liabilities and costs associated with
litigation; failure of the Company's information systems to provide timely and
accurate information; negative publicity regarding the Company's business
practices and/or regarding the health insurance industry in general; the
Company's inability to enter into or maintain satisfactory relationships with
networks of hospitals, physicians, dentists, pharmacies and other health care
providers; the result of the review by various regulatory agencies of the
previously-announced proposed cash merger of the Company with affiliates of a Personal Insurance
group of private equity firms; approval of the merger by the stockholders of
UICI and satisfaction of various other conditions to the closing of the merger
contemplated by the merger agreement; failure of the Company's regulated
insurance company subsidiaries to maintain their current ratings by A.M. Best
Company, Fitch and/or Standard & Poor's; failure to obtain court approval of
the proposed settlements; and the other risk factors set forth in the reports
filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additional Information and Where to Find It
In connection with the proposed cash merger of the Company with affiliates
of a group of private equity firms, a registration statement has been filed
with the Securities and Exchange Commission. UICI shareholders are encouraged
to read the prospectus/proxy statement and any other relevant documents filed
with the Securities and Exchange Commission because these documents will
contain important information about the transaction. The Insurance Estate final
prospectus/proxy statement, dated February 28, 2006, was mailed to
shareholders of UICI. Investors and security holders will be able to obtain
the documents free of charge at the SEC's web site, http://www.sec.gov or from
UICI Investor Relations at http://www.uici.net .
UICI press releases and other company information are available at UICI's
website located at http://www.uici.net .

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

CA Demonstrates Integrated Solutions for Enterprise IT Management on the Microsoft Platform

CA Solutions Leverage Data from Microsoft SMS 2003 to Provide Customers
with Unified View of Enterprise IT Resources

SAN DIEGO, April 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today, at the Microsoft
Management Summit, CA is demonstrating integration between its service
management and asset management solutions and Microsoft's Systems
Management Server 2003 (SMS). This integration, which creates seamless
interoperability between Microsoft SMS and CA's Enterprise IT Management
solutions, will help mutual customers unify and simplify management of
their enterprise IT environments and improve their decision-making relative
to the acquisition, allocation and retirement of IT assets - Word, Excel, Power Point
By managing enterprise assets from a centralized console with a unified
reporting structure, IT organizations can stretch their budgets through
better investment planning, just-in-time licensing and maintenance
payments, improved cash flow, and elimination of over-payments.
Centralized, real-time asset management also delivers critical operational
advantages, such as optimized resource allocation and faster problem
resolution.
For example, with the new integration, an IT organization using CA's
Asset Management to track all aspects of software license management can
reconcile software discovered by SMS with its inventory of licensed
software. This reconciliation provides immediate insight into end-user
compliance, pinpoints any cases of over/underutilization, and ensures
readiness for software audits.
This first phase of the joint initiative will integrate asset data
collected by SMS 2003 into CA's Management Database (MDB), an integrated
repository for enterprise IT management. The integrated solutions will be
available to select customer sites beginning this fall.
"The integration between CA's MDB and Microsoft technologies will
provide our mutual customers a solution to manage their Windows and
non-Windows resources more effectively, helping them meet service levels
and maximize their investments in the Microsoft platform," said Felicity
McGourty, director of product marketing in the Windows Enterprise
Management Division at Microsoft.
"Because so many enterprise IT organizations have significant
investments in both CA and Microsoft solutions, we are working together to
ensure seamless integration between our respective technologies," said
Allan Andersen, director of product management in CA's Business Service
Optimization business unit. "This collaboration will provide mutual
customers with a cohesive view of resources across the enterprise, thereby
eliminating information 'stovepipes' and supporting the adoption of service
management best practices such as ITIL."
(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20021111/CALOGO )

About CA
CA (NYSE: CA), one of the world's largest information technology (IT)
management software companies, unifies and simplifies the management of
enterprise-wide IT. Founded in 1976, CA is headquartered in Islandia, N.Y.,
and serves customers in more than 140 countries. For more information,
please visit http://ca.com.
All trademarks, trade names, service marks, and logos referenced herein
belong to their respective companies.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

What is spyware and adware and how to remove it

Author: Kevin Scott

Many people ask what is spyware and how do you know if your computer has been infected?

First off spyware and adware are software programs that are made with the intention of allowing individuals and companies to spy on your web browsing activities. These programs literally invade your privacy, slow down your system and annoy you with constant popups.

Secondly, many novice and beginner computer users have no idea that their computer has even been infected or even know how it became infected. A computer can be easily infected if there is no protection, because every time a file or program is downloaded, or if a pop up is clicked on the computer is at risk of downloading a parasite.

With so many programs out there to remove spyware one can find it difficult to obtain software that is effective and is actually worth the money. To find an effective product it needs to be user friendly, have free periodic updates that are installed automatically, and great 24 hour 7 day a week technical support. So many companies claim to have the best support, but fail to produce any results when you contact them with a problem. It can be very frustrating after spending anywhere from $20 to $60 and the product does not work properly and you are unable to get any support to get the problem fixed.

Another problem that you may run in to is downloading software that does not have regular updates. These updates are crucial to keeping your computer from downloading one of these parasites as there are new ones being created all the time. Without regular updates that are downloaded and installed automatically the software is more or less worthless because your computer can eventually become infected from a new version of a parasite.

Having worked in the computer industry for nearly a decade I have downloaded, used, tested, and purchased several different programs and have found many simply do not work as promised. I would install these programs on my customer’s computers and try to teach them how to use it and on many occasions the software would be to complex for them to use because they were just learning how to use a computer. I also would receive calls from my customers stating that after a few months their computer was running ‘slow’ again. I would then investigate and found that the software either needed to be reinstalled or there were no more updates and if they wanted the updates that had to pay for them.

So now you may be asking how you can keep your computer free of infections. To help keep your computer safe is to download a pop up blocker from Yahoo or Google or one of the major search engines. These work great and will help reduce popups and will not allow parasites to be downloaded. Another way is to keep your security settings high in your web browser. To do this you would open your browser and click on Tools> Internet Options> Security, set this to Medium or High. While you have that open click on General and select Delete Cookies and Delete Files. You should do this as often as you can this will keep personal information clear from your computer, use this especially if you do you banking and pay bills online. Then install a spyware and adware remover.

There is a program that I have had success using called SpywareRemover. I have personally purchased and have been using this software for a few months now. For the price it is a good deal. Not only is it able to remove spyware but it will also a program manager which allows you to remove unwanted programs that have been installed as well as a back up for your computer registry. You also can set it to run automatically and have the program perform a scan on a specific schedule. One very nice feature is a free download and free scan to see if the computer is actually infected then you will have the option to purchase the software. The scan is very fast but this will depend on the speed of the computer it is installed on, but it is the fastest I have used.

However, there are a few problems with it. One of the biggest problems is on their website they do not list a toll free number you can contact them by email only. If you require support you must email them and wait for a response. I did have a question and they responded within 24 hours which is the norm for most software companies. Another issue is that there is not an option for detailed reporting. I like to have an option to show a full report of what programs are installed that are infected and what files and folders have a parasite or appear to have a problem. There is a section that shows the files but a detailed report on one page would be helpful in finding the problem.

Over all this is a very fast, easy to use, and multi functional piece of software and is very inexpensive. If you want to try a free download of SpywareRemover I recommend it.

Take Control of your Digital Photographs with BatchPhoto

Author: Cosmin Unguru

DiVision Software has released BatchPhoto v. 1.3, a powerful Windows photo manipulation program that makes it easy to touch up, transform, apply effects, and rename hundreds of photos in a single operation. Instead of enhancing and adjusting pictures individually, BatchPhoto lets you select a group of images, define a series of edits, and apply them in a single operation. You can even give your files meaningful names.

Throughout the photo manipulation process, you are in complete control. Whether you're touching up a group of images, or applying a series of complex, artistic filters, you can see an accurate preview of the original pictures and your enhanced pictures.

BatchPhoto lets you apply more than three dozen filters and effects to your pictures. The program supports more than 100 image file formats, including PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, and GIF.

It's easy to resize collections of pictures. Simply type the width or height that you want, either in pixels or percentages. If you choose to maintain the original photograph's aspect ratio, the program will adjust both width and height. BatchPhoto knows if your photos are in portrait or landscape orientation, and applies your changes intelligently. In addition to resizing pictures, the program can apply other transformation to collections of pictures, including crop, rotate, roll, and flip.

BatchPhoto lets you date/time stamp your images, in a variety of formats. BatchPhoto preserves the EXIF information that digital cameras add to every photo, and will use the EXIF date/time information in your visible date/time stamps. You can add text to all of your pictures. BatchPhoto lets you create text in any size and color, and place it anywhere on your images. You can even adjust the transparency of the text.

The program makes it simple to touch up your images by changing the brightness, contrast, and sharpness. You can equalize, normalize, sharpen, enhance, and perform many other corrective functions. BatchPhoto supports a full range of artistic effects, from embossing, blurring, watermarking, and swirling images to creating oil painting, charcoal and many other effects.

Scanners and digital cameras assign meaningless names to your images. BatchPhoto lets you rename all of these files meaningfully. You can incorporate any text into your file names. In addition, you can sequentially number them, add date/time information, and more.

New features in v. 1.3 include the ability to watermark images, creation of thumbnail images, a revamped preview feature that lets you zoom and scroll images, and the ability to compare original and modified photos with great accuracy.

Whether you're a business person who needs to manipulate groups of product photos, a home computer user who wants to organize and rename your family and travel pictures, or a student who wants to collect and resize images from the Internet, BatchPhoto has the tools that you need.

BatchPhoto v. 1.3 runs under Windows 95/98/Me/NT4/2000/XP/2003, costs $24.95(US), and may be purchased securely online at http://www.batchphoto.com/. Quantity discounts and site licenses are available. You can download a free 30-day trial version from the same web address. Lifetime upgrades are available without charge to registered owners.

For more information, contact DiVision Software, st. Madona Dudu 8A-3, 200409 Romania. Phone: +40(722)242-277 Fax: +40(251)524-314 Internet: http://www.batchphoto.com/

Why to Look for Disc Spanning when Choosing your Home/Office Backup Software

Author: Sergey Petrov

http://www.softwaretalks.com/disc-spanning/

Fifteen years ago, increasing numbers of people had computers, but their important data consisted of small documents and perhaps a few basic programs. To backup all they needed was several blank floppy discs and a compression utility. Even a “power user” might find themselves with two megabytes of data to preserve.

As we collect more and more important data, our backup needs are growing. Like in the past, we still have easily compressible documents, but bulky multimedia files as well, like videos, graphics and music. Doubtless this kind of data needs protection – the first pictures or a home video of a newborn baby might exist only as binary code on a hard drive. If your hard drive fails and there’s no backup – unlike with traditional film – those digital memories could be lost forever. Nowdays it’s common to find full system backups of hundreds of thousands files, ranging between 30 and 120 gigabytes (GB). The problem is where to store this data.


There are a number of media types available to most computer users for their backup purposes. Many businesses use magneto-optical or large-capacity tape drives for their daily and weekly backups. With very high capacities, these drives are technically impressive, but the media is usually very expensive. The common backup media for home and office includes CD/DVD discs, dedicated internal drives and external hard drives that exist in capacities over one terabyte (1TB) with fast Firewire 800 and USB 2.0 interfaces. Companies like Iomega found little home market success with smaller drives such as the Jaz (1-2GB) and Rev (35GB) series.

Where cost is a priority, a better option for home and small business users is often disc spanning, where cheap blank media can be used to the same effect as a tape or a dedicated drive. The benefits in cost of disc spanning are easily measurable. For a 20GB backup set the cost per gigabyte (CPG) will be as cheap as 33c for a DVD-RW disc, compared with up to $6 per gigabyte for an external hard drive of comparable size. Even for a larger backup of 250GB the optimal cost per gigabyte for external hard drive will be around 80 cents, still twice more than for a DVD-RW disc. A large internal drive can have a similar cost to a DVD-RW disc, but unless you make enough backup sets to fill it, your excess disk space is effectively wasted. In this sense, disc spanning is an attractive and economical option.

This table summarizes the cost per gigabyte for different types of storage media and various backup sets: http://www.softwaretalks.com/files/cpg.gif

Moreover, disc spanning is simple. All you need is to choose the files, obtain some blank discs, and a good backup program will inform you of the total size, and how many media units are required for backup. Since a CD/DVD writing drive became a part of a basic PC configuration, you don’t need to fiddle around switching external devices, adding hard discs, installing drivers and playing other “hardware games”. The ability to store your backups on discs offsite is also a major advantage.

Not only is disc spanning a cheap, simple and flexible backup method, but it is also one of the most reliable backup forms today. Modern optical storage media has a shelf life of at least 30 years and some manufacturers even offer 100 year guarantees. Compared to an average lifespan of 5-7 years for hard drives and up to 20 years for a magnetic tape, optical discs are very long-lived. Disc spanning makes it possible that our backups will outlive ourselves.

Finally, this backup method continues to gain popularity as technology develops. Next-generation forms of blue-laser discs using organic dyes, such as the Sony Blu-ray format (between 23GB and 54GB) and Toshiba’s HD-DVD, will further reduce the cost of removable media, meaning that inexpensive and simple backups are within the reach of everyone.