Main Line Computer Users Group - July 1999 Issue 206

**** JULY 1999 *********************************** ISSUE #206 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JUL 10th

COME AND JOIN US - BRING FRIENDS


THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
MAIN LINE PC/128/64 USERS - Room 110

Over the course of the last year, we have devoted time in each meeting to problem solving and Q&A. Generally this was followed by a formal presentation or demo. These have covered a variety of topics primarily selected by the prez. Not very much input has been provided by members on the meeting content.

So, for July, we want to do two things: 1) provide some extra time for problem solving (which may provide ideas for future meeting topics) and 2) followups on past topics, eg. the CD-R session last month or genealogy, etc.

This will be, we hope, a great opportunity for members to get help and provide it!!!

[continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - Room 210

In June the Amiga SIG joined with the rest of the group for John Murphy's presentation on CDROM writing-burning. For a summary discussion of that meeting look for a write-up elsewhere.

For our July meeting we'll step back to followup on a few previous meetings. Specifically we intend to cover the Amiga Radiance program from Aminet as a followup to Peter Whinnery's excellent presentation of Radiance running on a Linux platform. We'll also follow through on Amiga networking and cover some significant topics there. Beyond that we will be open to a general question and answer session with the emphasis on helping each other resolve

[continued]


HTML CODING NEWSLETTERS

For some time now, MLCUG has had a webpage, hosted by VU and mastered by Pete Whinnery. It has included accessible club newsletters. Recently, John Deker and Pete have been converting the NLs to HTML format. Beginning on p.6, John describes the technique he has been using - a GOOD beginner's lesson in HTML. Check it out!

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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MEETING DATE IS CHANGED! - just a reminder that, for the rest of 1999, we are testing the switch to the SECOND SATURDAY, as listed below. Please mark your calendars now for:

Please note that unforeseen circumstances may dictate change; so watch the newsletter and check the BBS (610-828-1359). The table on the next to the last page of each issue will have the succeeding 3 months schedule (as usual) as of the time the NL goes to print. Be sure to check it out each issue.

Because of this date change, we will normally switch the Steering Meetings to the THIRD WEDNESDAYs; so they occur after the regular monthly meeting. This schedule will also be in the boiler plate table. As a reminder, if you would like to provide input into some of the workings of the club, you are welcome to attend the (informal) steering meetings.

MEMBER SURVEY - if you have not yet returned your member survey (from the June newsletter), you will be receiving a reminder phone call! In order to better understand where our membership is heading, we need to hear from EVERY ONE OF OUR MEMBERS!

Please dig out the form, give it some real thought and return it post-haste!

MEMBERSHIP STATUS - we still have only 41 1999 members, all renewals from 1998. If we are to get some new blood, each of you should keep your eyes open for possible new recruits - that can be helped by the club - OR who would like to help the club! Both kinds of folks are more than welcome!

Y2K STATUS - we have not had much in the way of commentary on the Y2K situation for a month or two - but Y2K will be less than 6 months away by the time you are reading this.

A few days ago, my place of employ received a letter from our property and liability insurer - said letter included new policy endorsements. The letter explained that the endorsements were being sent to reinforce the insurer's position that Y2K problems are VERY UNLIKELY to be covered by our policy.

For the curious, I'll bring the info to the next meeting. Anyone who has got similar communications is invited to share their knowledge, too!

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RE-INKING

[from the internet]

Just so that everyone can have this information, about exactly how to get in touch with V-Tech (phone number, E-Mail address and so forth)... This is the Correct information about them (including the Correct Phone Number... I know it is... since I just called and ordered some ribbons and Re-New ink from them...)... this is their Address and they also have an InterNet E-Mail address where you can write to them as well...

  V-Tech
  1487 Sumneytown Pike
  Lansdale, PA. 19446
  215-362-3300.
The E-Mail address you can write to is: vtech@adelphia.net

They are real close to me, since I'm right near Glenside/Wyncote PA... I hope this can help someone... Jim Caldwell

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Computer Messages

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GOTCHA!

[by Emil Volcheck]

Well, another example of how disk drive manufacturers try to make you think you ae getting more than they actually deliver!

Remember 100 MB zip disks? Well, your DOS or Windows or Mac (or even Commodore) will tell you that you have about 95+ MB, not 100....!

Not to be outdone, the new 250 MB zips are similar. Your OS tells you that there are only 238 MB available on a blank disk??

So, where is the missing stuff?

As you may gather, it is all in the fine print. If you use chkdsk or check properties in My Computer - you'll be told that the 250 MB disk has:

250,331,136 bytes available

So, there's your 250 million bytes. OK?

BUT, to get MB, your OS divides - not by 1,000,000 - but by 1,048,576 - the binary mega. When you use the latter value, you get 238 MB - just what your OS reports.....

another gotcha

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Mini-Tip!
----------------

Win95/98 Users! - be sure that you take precautions to preserve your critical systems files before you install a major piece of software. And, especially, before you install new or upgraded hardware. A good start is the EMERGENCY RECOVERY UTILITY (ERU). If you've forgotten about it, we can demo it at the July meeting - just ask!!!

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

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? Contact our inventory manager, Charles Curran.

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HIGH SPEED INTERNET

Slowly, thru our region, various modes of high(er) speed internet access are arriving. All come with lots of hype about what they will deliver (eg. "pages load instantly!"). Among those that may already be available at least somewhere near are: 1) cable modem, 2) satellite (I think) and 3) xDSL.

Note: outside this consideration are those fortunate ones who have (usually at their place of employ) high speed intranets linked to the internet via something like a T1, T3 or faster.

The cable modems have very high speed potential - and a large percentage of folks have cable - but all is not a bed of roses. Most cable systems are not yet two-way - that requires investment on the part of your cable company and is a long way from being common around here. The system runs with a fixed bandwidth; so the more simultaneous users, the less bandwidth (ie. those pages load slower) each has (sounds a bit like the internet!). While these are limitations, cable modems may be one of the earliest (perhaps only?) choices for many.

Satellite systems are apparently primarily one way - fast coming down to you from the satellite - slow going to the net via a phone line. This situation is not likely to change soon; so if you need to send significant content to the net, this may not be a viable option for you.

xDSL is getting more and more attention - it is a route for the telephone company to get two-way service to you via existing phone lines (and more folks have phones than cable!). The system does not have the bandwidth limitation of cable modems - tho it is somewhat slower, depends apparently on how much you are willing to spend. The big deficiency of xDSL is a severe limit on how far the signals can be operated from the central office, with something like 3 miles (by wire, not by crow flight) being that limit!

Note: if you currently have web access, you can check on the potential for xDSL for your home. Connect to the Bell-Atlantic website (www.bell- atlantic.com/infospeed/). On this webpage, you'll be given the opportunity to enter your phone number - then you'll get a message indicating whether or not xDSL will be in your area any time soon. For example, one of my home phone numbers should have xDSL available before the end of the year. Whether my actual home connection will be possible is not clear - likely we will hear something from Bell-Atlantic (they want our internet business!).

Are any members using any of these high speed access routes (or others that I have not mentioned)? If so, we'd like to hear about your experiences - please bring your feedback to the next meeting.

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64/128/PC/Amiga MEETING
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BURNING CD-ROMs

June was another joint session of all the attendees to catch the discussion and demo of CD-ROM "burning" presented by member John Murphy. His namesake, who is frequently responsible for all kinds of difficulties for presenters, stayed away - and everything worked. John did the demo with his trusty laptop - feeding the big screen TV for folks to see.

John gave a good discussion of the various facets of this technology - including its capabilities for data storage, formats, software, tips on choosing media and the hardware capabilities that need to be in place to successfully make your own CDs.

He has been successful with a CD-R drive that runs off the parallel (printer) port of his computer(s) and reported that it works well - tho this is NOT the speediest way to burn CDs. But with this type of drive, you can take it around and use it with different systems. If you need to produce many CDs, you'll likely want to investigate internal drives that run much faster off the system buss.

Our thanks to John for a well done - and successful - demo!

---------------------------
GOTCHA #2 !

[by Emil Volcheck]

Had an interesting encounter a couple of weeks ago with a Dell PC that was donated where I work. It is three years old, in beautiful condition and operates like a charm!

Why was it donated? Well, the hard drive was only 1 GB and space was getting low. So, the decision was made to upgrade to a faster machine with a bigger hard drive.

When I started to check it out, I learned an interesting tidbit.

The PC had the hard drive as a single partition - the C: drive. When I ran chkdsk on it, I was told that it had 32K clusters - I wondered why so big. With clusters that big, the drive was likely wasting 25-30% of its space - quite a few MB!

So, I partitioned it into C: and D: drives - each a tad under 512 KB in size. This dropped the clusters down to 8K and wastage probably to around 10%. The simple partitioning picked up 150-200 MB of useable disk space.

The root of the problem was that the drive had somewhere around 1,085,000,000 bytes of space. BUT, a GB is 1,073,741,824 bytes or around 13 MB smaller. As a result, the OS had to use 32 K clusters instead of 16K that would be proper for a "true" GB. Those 13 MB cost the user over 100 MB in useable space - dang numbers!

Since the PC is running Win95, one could convert to FAT32 and drop the clusters to 4K. But, it's not urgent for me to do so right now

***************************
ZIP DRIVE UPGRADE

[by Emil Volcheck]

Last month, I reported on the process that I went thru to replace the 100 MB SCSI internal Zip drive on my home PC with one of the new 250 MB internal ATAPI/IDE zip drives.

Having done so, I was now in possession of this excess SCSI zip drive; so I installed it in the MLCUG club PC. Now, the club PC is working fine with its (relatively speaking) new internal SCSI Zip drive.

Unlike the complicated process I described last month, this installation was very straightforward!

You'll recall that the club PC already had an Adaptec SCSI card, with internal connector on it, installed (we did that late last year to have capability to attach both SCSI and parallel port external accessories). Charles Curran just mounted the Zip drive in one of the empty bays, plugged in a waiting extra power connector and attached the SCSI cable to the Adaptec card.

After the PC was shutdown and then powered back up, the new SCSI Zip drive was recognized and ready to use - drivers provided with Win95 handled it nicely. Updated drivers were downloaded off the Iomega website and installed on the PC; so we should be good for awhile.

Having this new accessory should make it easier for our presenters to set up for demos and handle the increasingly larger files that are the norm these days!!!

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

In June the Amiga SIG joined with the rest of the group for John Murphy's presentation on CDROM writing-burning. For a summary discussion of that meeting look for a write-up elsewhere.

For our July meeting we'll step back to followup on a few previous meetings. Specifically we intend to cover the Amiga Radiance program from Aminet as a followup to Peter Whinnery's excellent presentation of Radiance running on a Linux platform. We'll also follow through on Amiga networking and cover some significant topics there. Beyond that we will be open to a general question and answer session with the emphasis on helping each other resolve specific problems or learnings we may be having around the Amiga platform.

HTML CODING OUR NEWSLETTERS

During the past week or so I've been busy coding our old newsletters for the club's website. There are still many newsletters left to code, and we are still looking for volunteers to help ease the burden of the process. My experience has been that it takes about two hours to code each newsletter into a "picture perfect" condition.

GENERIC HTML TOOLS

For those who might consider helping with the HTML coding, I thought I might give you some idea about my methodical approach to the process.

Let it be known that I use simple tools to make the conversion. All I use is an old post formatting wordprocessor and a browser. I do all the conversion using my Amiga, but almost any computer has the tools needed for the process, even the C64/128 has some excellent post formatting wordprocessors, especially in TWS (The Write Stuff). However, viewing your handi-work is a problem on the 8-bitters. On other platforms, a post formatting wordprocessor would be most desired, but lacking that, either an editor or wordprocessor capable of saving ASCII could be used. Obviously, browsers on these other platforms would be more than adequate to the task of proofing the HTML documents.

AMIGA SPECIFIC HTML TOOLS

On my Amiga, I use an old wordprocessor called Transwrite produced by Gold Disk Inc. To proof my work, I use the AWeb browser as it seems best at presenting HTML code the way Netscape's Navigator would. The real nice advantage of AWeb over the other Amiga browsers is that once the basic HTML headers and footers are in place in your document, you can load the document into AWeb and then export it to a predefined editor. Changes made in the editor can be saved, and AWeb will then automatically reload the revised document. Specialized HTML editors are available, but I find the AWeb plus Transwrite combo to be easier to use for this conversion process.

STEPS OF THE PROCESS

Here are the steps I use to make the conversion.

  1. Acquire a copy of the newsletter from our Web site at http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/Newsletters/. On my Amiga, I've used a software package called GrabURL to download an entire section of our Web site, including both subdirectories and files so as to have all the newsletter articles on my local harddrive at home.

  2. Merge all the separated lines where appropriate so as to be able to use the wordwrap feature of the wordprocessor. Though this step is not really essential, it helps maintain a consistent appearance to the document while performing additional editing, and makes it easier for me to spot where custom HTML codes need to be inserted.

  3. Remove excess spaces. By this I mean remove any spaces before the EOL (End-Of-Line) delimiters. Some wordprocessors and editors don't have the tools for finding EOL delimiters, but it's an essential editing tool for other HTML coding.

  4. At this point I actually start to add HTML codes. I replace the following characters with their respective HTML codes using the search & replace capabilities of my wordprocessor:

    "&" --> "&"
    ">" --> ">"
    "<" --> "&lt;"

    Ignore the quotes. I use them only for demarcation here.

  5. This is where I insert HTML start of paragraph identifiers. Using Transwrite I search for double EOL delimiters using the search criteria of "^j^j" (again using quotes only for demarcation in this article). I replace such occurrences with "^j<P>^j" where "<P>" is recognized by browsers as the start of a new paragraph. I don't normally use the HTML end of paragraph identifier, "</P>".

  6. Next I attach a standard HTML header & footer to the newsletter. Since I've previously saved these parts, I just merge these files with the existing newsletter. Here's the header I use at the beginning of the HTML document:

    <HTML>
    <HEAD>
    <META NAME="GENERATOR" CONTENT="Amiga TransWrite by Gold Disk Software">
    <TITLE>MLCUG Nov 1998 Newsletter - Issue 198</TITLE>
    </HEAD>
    <BODY>
    <B><H2>Main Line Commodore Users Group Newsletter</H2>
    <H3>Supporting : Amiga - C64/128 - PC/Linux</H3></B>

    Change the Title Line as needed to suit.

    Here's the footer I use at the end of the HTML document:

    </BODY>
    </HTML>

  7. Insert the opening and ending PREformatting commands where spacing is an important part of the formatting. The masthead section of the newsletter is always a good place to use the "<PRE>" and "</PRE>" preformatting HTML commands. Remember to remove any paragraph, "<P>", formatting commands that may have been inserted into the preformatted text region in Step #5, or they will play havoc with the presentation of the preformatted sections.

  8. Look for places where ordered lists and unordered lists might be appropriately used. Unordered lists have bullets in front of the list items. Ordered lists use sequential numbers to replace the bullets. The TOC (Table Of Contents) is always an ideal place to use either an ordered list or unordered list. So far on our Web site, we've been using unordered lists. Here's a sample of the HTML coded TOC from one newsletter:

    <B>THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS</B>
    <UL>
    <LI> <a href="#toc1">Creative Micro Designs - Final</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc2">Announcements</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc2">1998 RENEWAL TIME!</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc4">Internet Searching Tools</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc5">Trading Post</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc6">64/128/PC meeting minutes</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc7">Boot/Emergency/Rescue Disks - I</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc8">AMIGA &amp; The Year 2000 problem</a>
    <LI> <a href="#toc9">MAP/Masthead/Meeting schedule</a>
    <LI> <a href="../memberform.txt">RENEWAL &amp; Membership Form</a>
    </UL>

    Above, "<UL>" & "</UL>" mark the beginning and end of the list, and "<LI>" indicates the beginning of each Line Item where a text bullet will be placed in the HTML presentation.

  9. Insert hotlinks. Step #8 example above shows the internal hotlinks and one external hotlink that are used in the newsletter TOC. Note each internal hotlink begins with a "<a href="#" where the # symbol indicates an internal reference point in the document. Internal to the document is a corresponding link point. Here's an example of an internal hotlink:

    <a href="#anyname">Anyname visible description</a>

    and the link point identifier elsewhere in the document:

    <a name="anyname">

  10. Insert line breaks, "<BR>", where you have consecutive short lines of text such as addresses. Example:

    <P>
    John Doe<BR>
    000 Anystreet<BR>
    Anytown, PA 19444<BR>
    <P>

  11. Insert horizontal rule lines, "<HR>", to break out sections of text if desired. Recently, I've been using <HR> to replace Emil's use of the line of dashes in the HTML version of the newsletter.
When all editing is done, I check the appearance of the code in two or three different browsers just to make sure everything looks good. Not all browsers display HTML code exactly the same. That's why I use multiple browsers for the final check of my handi-work.
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/    \\_|  \/  ||_||_ \__//_/    \\_
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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.

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/128/PC/Amiga Meetings 1999 Steering Committee Meetings July 10 * July 14 ** August 14 * August 18 September 11 * September 15 * = second Saturday ** = second Wednesday ********************************************************** EDITOR: Emil J. Volcheck, Jr. 1046 General Allen Lane West Chester, PA 19382-8030 (Produced with C-128D/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