MAIN LINE COMPUTER USERS GROUP - MARCH 1999 - ISSUE #202

MORE ON WHEELS AND PC EMERGENCIES !! - PAGE # -

**** MARCH 1999 ******************************** ISSUE #202 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - MAR 6th

COME JOIN US FOR FUN & LEARNING!

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THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS

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MAIN LINE 64/128/PC USERS - Room 110

Several months ago, our webmaster, Pete Whinnery, gave us a brief showing of the alternative operating system, known as LINUX (LINN-uks). That demo was confined to a discussion of the installation procedure - since it co-runs with Windows 95; and brief looks at the bare (text) interface and the X-Windows GUI.

Since that time, Linux has been getting a lot of favorable national press (as well as the typical modern day, gee-whiz, hype that we can not seem to do without!). So, this month, Pete will show us some of the things he actually USES Linux for - as it handles both tasks for his job, as well as providing some intrigue with programming of his own. We hope all our 8-bit and PC users will be interested.

[continued on page 2]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - Room 210

At our February meeting we viewed most of the CatalyzerII video for the first time. For those who don't know, the Catalyzer videos are an easy way to discover the many features buried within ImageFX, one of the premier graphics manipulation applications available for the Amiga. In general, software videos are an ideal introduction for the novice and a great way for the intermediate user to extend his or her awareness of the still many untapped features within a software package.

For March we're planning to complete the viewing of the CatalyzerII video. Following the viewing we'll have a general discussion of image manipulation and if there's sufficient interest

[continued on p.6]

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COMMENTARY
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COMMENTARY ... in recent newsletter issues, in this one and likely in the upcoming ones, you will find a certain interest - on your editor's part - in the Year 2000 problem (not "bug" as some phrase it!). Since this is a computer club, that should be natural, but I'm also dealing with Y2K in my part time job and hope that by sharing some of those experiences, I can help other folks. AND, maybe, others who are wrestling a bit with Y2K can chime in here and share also. That's what a user group should be about, after all!

As a recent example, I'm fiddling with a PC that has to have its BIOS corrected in some way as it is seriously non-Y2K compliant. I opted to acquire one of the cards that "you just slip in an empty ISA slot and your Y2K problem is solved"! However, in the process of solving the Y2K difficulty - which is does seem to do - it prevents the computer from performing some normal functions, like reading floppy disks or running certain applications! When I learn more, I'll share more...

Now - how about anybody else? Want to share a Y2K problem - or, better yet, a solution you have been able to use that might be applicable to our members?

MEMBERSHIP STATUS - at the end of February we are at the 40 member renewal level - hopefully we'll grow a bit more thru the year. We would like to seek more local users to help - and be helped by (we can ALL use some help sometimes!).

So, if you know someone who has recently joined computing - or recently converted to a PC or Amiga, please let them know about us. We'll have extra copies of our newsletter at the meetings to help you spread the good word!

Also, we are looking for ways to let users know that we can provide support to a number of platforms; so we may be able to help them. Or, since user groups are reciprocal, THEY may be able to help US help others! If readers have any suggestions on spreading the word, please feedback to the Steering Committee members.

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A SuperCPU-related homepage!

Hi all! Make sure to check out:

The SuperCPU Home

http://come.to/supercpu

Now officially open! This new homepage is dedicated to the SuperCPU and all the software getting supported by it; and, of course, also for the software especially designed for the SuperCPU! The site is still under construction, but the game-section is already pretty big!

Any kind of support is welcome. Please mail any reaction to:

maccie@iname.com

Especially wanted is someone to support the demo- and tool-section.

Yours: MacGyver/DMAgic,
Webmaster of The SuperCPU Home

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Web Search Sites

[by Bob Barton, from MLMUG listserv]

Design News magazine (a trade mag for engineering types) has a modest list of Internet search sites in their mid-January 1999 issue. I added a couple. If you can't find what you want in engineering using these sites, it just may not be available on the 'net. Do you have another favorite? Feel free to share as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

Add the usual prefix of "http://www. " and suffix of ".com/ " if necessary.

and the virtual library for engineering:

http://arioch.gsfc.nasa.gov/wwwvl/engineering.html

[and see Tom Johnson's piece on another search tool on p.4 of this issue]

-------------------- The Computer Age

Log on was adding wood to the fire
Hard drive was a long trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
And a backup happened to your commode

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$ TRADING POST $
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

FOR SALE: C-64 and a Seikosha printer, in original boxes. If interested, call Bobbie at 610-356-9682. (2)

FOR SALE: do you have a need to replace some ailing Commodore part? Are you looking for a particular piece of Commodore software? Or do you need to replace a master disk for Commodore software that no longer works - but you'd like it to?

A listing is up and running on the MLCUG webpage - and we plan to update it in the next month or so. If you do not see what you want there, then, contact our inventory manager, Charles Curran. Between his stash of club inventory - or another stash in Emil's hands - we may be able to fill that need.

Similarly, if you have a problem or need relating to Amiga hardware or software, be sure to head in the direction of our Amiga leader, John Deker.

----------------------
YEAR 2000 TIDBIT

Will your camera work on 1/1/2000?

If you have a date back camera, you may want to check it for Y2K compliance.

You can do it the same way you did your computer (didn't you?). Just set the date back for 12/31/99 at 11:59 PM and let it run for a couple of minutes, then see what she says. If this works OK, you can check the 2/28/2000 rollover to see if your camera knows that 2000 is a leap year .....

I checked our camera and it passed!

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64/128/PC MEETING
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For our February meeting, we had excellent luck with ALL the hardware and software we tried! As usual, we took time for updates on activities in the world around us - followed by questions and answers on general computer problems. Then we went to a refurb of the demo of WHEELS 128 - which got fouled by the mono video problem from the 80-column view. For this time, Wheels had been configured (via the DETAIL SHOP utility) to use only black, white and gray which allowed the monochrome video to show up very readably on the big screen TV.

The demo showed off the 4-drive capability of Wheels and the facile switching thru the system. With the help of the mandatory REU, we also could see how much faster this enables the GUI to be. On my home system, with the SuperCPU, most manipulations run a second or two! For future possible demos, we'll be considering more extensive showing of applications - as opposed to this meeting's brief use of Geowrite and Text Grabber. Members are urged to volunteer to show their GEOS uses that could be accomplished better with Wheels (i.e. almost anything GEOS!).

We continued our Q&A into the PC arena - with a very (almost too very!) lively discussion ensueing. The main topic for the session - emergency stuff, part 2 - was picked up. Emil showed the Emergency Recovery Utility from Microsoft. It preserves important and critical system files that can save your shirt in the event that an install or other eventuality messes up your system. Since it is quick and easy to run - on Win95 or Win98 - it is good protection to run it before doing an new software installation. Then, in the event that things go wrong, you can restore your system to its working state just before the disaster! About a month earlier, Emil had used ERU to do just that; so he was speaking from experience and not just theory...

He pointed out that even more protection is afforded with a utility like RECOVER-IT - a sub-element of Remove-It. It can allow recovery from the sort of problem that corrupts the boot sectors of your hard drive - something that ERU does not protect against. However, because Recover-It is limited to use on floppy disks (to boot from in emergency), it can not save files larger than the floppy can hold; so one very critical file - the REGISTRY - may not be saved as it frequently exceeds the 1.44 MB size limit of the floppy. You MAY BE ABLE to use Recover-It in tandem with ERU to have the ability to restore ALL the critical files.

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Quick and Cheap

[by Thomas Johnson]

The Ferret is another outstanding freeware program, which combines the efforts of several of the best search engines to quickly locate information and sources on the Internet. It runs on Windows 95, Windows 98 and NT4 (32 bit only) systems and, yes, it is Y2K compliant.

Once it is installed, Ferret is easy to operate. If you need help a great deal of support - in the form of FAQs - is available, or contact support@ferretsoft.com. The latest versions of Ferret have built-in browser support for all versions of Netscape (including Corel Netscape); Internet Explorer and Opera.

Ferret does its job with amazing speed, quickly listing a preselected number of sites, including information from user groups. "Each request to each engine is fired off simultaneously, but independently, using different "threads". The results are listed in the order that they are received, not on a per engine basis."

"The free Ferrets can be downloaded from: www.ferretsoft.com/netferret /download.htm

Choose the site you wish to download from and then simply click on the link. Your browser or FTP client will begin downloading the file. Please follow the installation instructions provided on the download page. Please note that you need a zip program such as such as the freeware version of Netzip to decompress zip files."

By putting a shortcut on your Start menu (drag the icon onto the Start sign) Ferret can be accessed at any time concurrently with any other program. Call it up while on the Web, or call it up first and it will dial the Web automatically.

--------------------
The Computer Age

I guess I'll stick to my pad and paper
And the memory in my head
I hear nobody's been killed in a
computer crash
But when it happens they wish they
were dead!

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Startup Disk Followup

[by Emil Volcheck]

A question has come up a couple of times relating to the preparation of the Win95 startup disk. As generated by the OS, the disk does not necessarily provide you with CD-ROM - or mouse capability. The October article discussed modifications to the disk to get them.

However, the question is - where do you find the CD-ROM and mouse files to put on the startup disk?

For the CD-ROM driver(s), the best places to get a clue on their identity are: 1) the CONFIG.SYS file (in the root directory of your C: drive) or 2) the CD-ROM driver disk that came with your PC or CD-ROM drive if you added it yourself.

The Config is especially helpful, as it normally gives you a command line that can be the model for what to put in the short config file on the boot disk.

For the mouse drivers, you may be lucky enough to have a MOUSE directory that will have the files. If not, then you can check the AUTOEXEC.BAT file (in the root directory of C:) or the DOSSTART.BAT file (in the C:\WINDOWS directory). They also will have command lines that can be modelled in the boot disk's autoexec file.

Happy Hunting!!!

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"WHAT GOES ROUND"

There was once a COBOL programmer in the mid to late 1990s. For the sake of this story, we'll call him Jack. After years of being taken for granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the UNIX programmers and Client/Server programmers and website developers, Jack was finally getting some respect. He'd become a private consultant specializing in Year 2000 conversions. He was working short-term assignments for prestige companies, traveling all over the world on different assignments. He was working 70, 8O and even 90 hour weeks, but it was worth it.

Several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had taken its toll on Jack. He had problems sleeping and began having anxiety dreams about the Year 2000. It had reached a point where even the thought of the year 2000 made him nearly violent. He must have suffered some sort of breakdown, because all he could think about was how could he avoid the year 2000 and all that came with it.

Jack decided to contact a company that specialized in cryogenics. He made a deal to have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000. This was a very expensive process and totally automated. He was thrilled. The next thing he would know is he'd wake up in the year 2000; after the New Year celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day. Nothing else to worry about except getting on with his life.

He was put into his cryogenic receptacle, the technicians set the revive date, he was given injections to slow his heartbeat to a bare minimum, and that was that.

The next thing that Jack saw was an enormous and very modern room filled with excited people. They were all shouting "I can't believe it!" and "It's a miracle" and "He's alive!". There were cameras (unlike any he'd ever seen) and equipment that looked like it came out of a science fiction movie. Someone who was obviously a spokesperson for the group stepped forward. Jack couldn't contain his enthusiasm. "Is it over?" he asked. "Is 2000 already here? Are all the millennial parties and promotions and crises all over and done with?"

The spokesman explained that there had been a problem with the programming of the timer on Jack's cryogenic receptacle. It hadn't been year 2000 compliant. It was actually eight thousand years later, not the year 2000. But the spokesman told Jack that he shouldn't get excited; someone important wanted to speak to him.

Suddenly a wall-sized projection screen displayed the image of a man who looked very much like Bill Gates. This man was Prime Minister of Earth. He told Jack not to be upset. That this was a wonderful time to be alive. That there was world peace and no more starvation. That the space program had been reinstated and there were colonies on the Moon and on Mars. That technology had advanced to such a degree that everyone had virtual reality interfaces which allowed them to contact anyone else on the planet, or to watch any entertainment, or to hear any music recorded anywhere. "That sounds terrific," said Jack. "But I'm curious. Why is everybody so interested in me?"

"Well," said the Prime Minister. "The year 10000 is just around the corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL."

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

At our February meeting we viewed most of the Catalyzer_II video for the first time. For those who don't know, the Catalyzer videos are an easy way to discover the many features buried within ImageFX, one of the premier graphics manipulation applications available for the Amiga. In general, software videos are an ideal introduction for the novice and a great way for the intermediate user to extend his or her awareness of the still many untapped features within a software package.

For March we're planning to complete the viewing of the Catalyzer_II video. Following the viewing we'll have a general discussion of image manipulation and if there's sufficient interest we'll even try our own hand at manipulating some images.

MEETING OVERVIEW - MORE CONCERNS ABOUT MICROSOFT

With many of our regulars in attendance, we started the meeting with a fair amount of Microsoft bashing. I lit the match, so to speak, with news that MS had patented concepts taken from the Web Standards Project. Here is the Usenet posting which initiated the lively discussion.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Chris Carrico
George Olsen Urge Public Relations
2-Lane Media chris@urgepr.com
golsen@2lm.com 213-848-8743
  310-473-3706 x2225

WEB STANDARDS PROJECT CALLS FOR CLARIFICATION OF WHETHER PATENT GIVES MICROSOFT CONTROL OVER TWO KEY WEB STANDARDS

February 4, 1999 -- The Web Standards Project, an international coalition of Web developers, today called on Microsoft Corp. and the World Wide Web Consortium to clarify whether a recent Microsoft patent gives the company control over two key Web standards developed by W3C.

U.S. Patent No. 5860073 appears to include key concepts used in W3C's Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and eXtensible Style Language (XSL) standards, which could potentially require these currently-open standards to be licensed from Microsoft.

If the CSS and XSL standards are in fact covered by the patent, WSP believes Microsoft, which participated in W3C's development of these standards, should immediately take legal steps to ensure these Web standards remain openly available on a nondiscriminatory basis, assuming that it has not already done so.

This could include turning over the patent to W3C, or other legal licensing agreements that irrevocably protect these open standards, WSP also called on any other companies that may be pursuing other patents that affect W3C standards to take similar measures.

The patent application was filed in 1995 as the W3C deliberations on the CSS standards began. While Microsoft representatives to W3C may have been unaware of the patent effort, the patent application itself refers to W3C's efforts, which WSP believes means that Microsoft as an applicant was aware of the issue and should have disclosed its patent effort to W3C.

"W3C's standards committees should be able to make an informed decision about whether to include something in a standard that may be covered by a patent - particularly if the patent is held by one of W3C members helping develop that standard," said WSP Project Leader George Olsen said.

By contrast, Intermind Corp, which also is a W3C member, reportedly kept W3C informed about its effort to patent a technology it believed affected a Web standard under development. (Intermind claims its U.S. Patent No. 5862325, granted last month, covers W3C's proposed Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) standard.)

WSP also questioned whether Microsoft's patent on "style sheets'' should have been granted because are a number of prior examples of similar technology, including the original proposal for CSS.

Microsoft's patent claims its innovation is to apply style sheets to text on-the-fly when the document is displayed on a user's computer. However, that same technology has been used on several different batch pagination systems, dating back to the 1960s, which have been used for book, directory and database publishing.

WSP Steering Committee member Tim Bray himself helped build an application that used technology that is similar to what Microsoft's patent describes.

"Back in 1987-88 I helped build a style sheet-driven browser (the chief author was Darrell Raymond) that became a commercial product of Open Text Corporation in 1989," Bray said. "It did several things that the Microsoft patent seems to cover. I'm confident that Microsoft will do the right thing and simply ignore the existence of this patent."

About U.S. Patent No. 5860073: U.S. Patent No. 5860073 is available from the U.S. Patent Office at

WWW: United States Patent 5,860,073

Or via IBM's Intellectual Property Network at

WWW: Patent No. 5860073

About The Web Standards Project: WSP is an international coalition of Web developers and Web experts who are urging browser makers to fully support Cascading Style Sheet Level 1 (CSS-1), the Document Object Model (DOM) and XML in their browsers. Its effort to bring attention to the existing and potential problems involved with browser incompatibility does not mean that WSP is opposed to innovations by browser manufacturers. The coalition merely urges browser manufacturers to use open standards for enhancements and support existing ones before adding new features.

George Olsen,
email: golsen@2lm.com Design Director
  WWW: 2-Lane Media
  tel: 310/473-3706 x2225

===========================
EDITOR'S NOTE: For more insight into what makes MS tick, check out the Halloween papers at:

http://www.opensource.org/

where Microsoft is found taking aim at Linux.
===========================

MEETING OVERVIEW - BRIEF UPDATE ON MAGELLAN_II

Ted Dean followed up with a message concerning his Directory Opus Magellan_II troubles from last month. Apparently, Software Hut informed him that an entire batch of DOpus 5.8 upgrade disks were defective causing the software serialization process to fail when upgrading from DOpus 5.5. Maybe next month Ted will have gotten his Amiga back from Software Hut and can tell us then if he has a successful DOpus 5.8 installation.

MEETING OVERVIEW - CATALYZER & IMAGEFX

The Catalyzer_II video is obviously a followup to the first Catalyzer tape. Though we did not finish viewing the tape during the meeting, we saw enough to be able to summarize the major features of ImageFX that were presented.

The focus of this second video is on the compositing of images using the swap buffer and alpha channel. To take a quote from the ImageFX manual:

"Compositing operations break down, roughly, into two types: merges and mattes. A merge occurs when each pixel in one source image is combined, to a greater or lesser extent, with a corresponding pixel in a second source image. The result is a uniform blend of the two. A matte involves one or another method of exclusion, that allows only certain pixels in the source images to be replaced or combined. In this case, some part of the original image is preserved unmodified.

If one thinks about the above statements, especially the definition of a merge, one should quickly conclude that for images to have corresponding pixels that they must be the same size. So, some of the video also deals with scaling images, though briefly.

As with all videos of this type, you should realize that you will not walk away being an expert after viewing the video. Rather, you should walk away being aware of the software's features and capabilities.

SOFTWARE WORTH MENTIONING

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FUTURE MEETINGS

If you have either software or hardware for your Amiga that has taken your fancy, please bring it to our attention. I'm sure your specific interests will be of interest to others. Let me know if this is the case at the next meeting, or leave me email on our BBS. Remember, a user group is only as rewarding as the sum of the efforts of its individual members.

DIRECTIONS FOR ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER MEETING ROOMS

Meetings in the St. Augustine Center at Villanova University. The 8-bit and PC sessions will be in Room 110 and the AMIGA meeting in Room 210.

Enter from the ITHAN AVENUE main gate, then proceed to the 2-level parking building adjacent to St. Augustine, on the Ithan Avenue side.

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64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  1999  Steering Committee Meetings
                      March 06                          March 17 **
                      April 03                          April 14
                      May 01                            May 12
     * = second Saturday     ** = third Wednesday

************************************************************************
 EDITOR: Emil J. Volcheck, Jr.   1046 General Allen Lane   West Chester, PA 19382-8030
(Produced with C-128/SCPU 128, RAMlink, HD-40/85, 1571, FD-4000, THE WRITE STUFF 128, XETEC Super Grafix, Canon BJ-200ex, Swiftlink and Motorola 288 modem)

           MLCUG BBS: 610-828-1359 (300 --> 33600 bps), 24 hr/day
                 WWW: http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/index.htm
           PUBLICITY: Robyn Josephs 565-4058
         DISK ORDERS: Charlie Curran 446-5239; Bill Bacon 441-5908
   VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy

MLCUG STEERING COMMITTEE:

PRESIDENT: Emil Volcheck          388-1581   SECRETARY: Charles Curran        446-5239
TREASURER/MEMBERS:Dewitt Stewart  623-5145   AMIGA SIG/SYSOP: John Deker      828-7897
INTERNET: Peter Whinnery          284-5234   DATABASE: Layton Fireng          688-2080
AT LARGE: Tom Johnson             525-3440