Main Line Computer Users Group - Aug 1999 Issue 207

**** AUGUST 1999 ********************************** ISSUE #207 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - AUG 14th

COME AND JOIN US - BRING FRIENDS

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THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS

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MAIN LINE PC/128/64 USERS - Room 110

In case you had not noticed, the internet is getting a lot of attention, hype and, even, valuable use. One of the favorite activities - which got its start with the old PlayNet -> Q-Link -> Apple-Link -> American On-Line progression, is on-line "chatting". It should be called on-line typing, but...

So, for August, member Tom Johnson will host a demo of what has become one of the most popular chat vehicles - ICQ (I Seek You). It is an arm of AOL, but is much broader than for just AOL members. Assuming our network connection works proerly, we hope to do a download, install, and real live demo.

Come join us in room 110

[continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - Room 210

At our July meeting we covered a fairly wide variety of topics with only a small membership in attendance. Topics included the update to the VERSION command for Y2K compliancy, a simple demonstration of the Radiance rendering program, how to troubleshoot software startup problems, how to startup software from the Shell/CLI, and the announcement by Amiga Inc that they will be using the Linux kernel for the AmigaNG.

For our August meeting we'll 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. If members bring their Amigas, we'll also be setup to update system software such

[continued]
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FABULOUS PHOTOS

If you missed the July meeting, you missed the chance to see Layton Fireng's unannounced show and tell. Last December, he demoed the HP PhotoSmart film scanner and some of what it could do. Since then, he's been doing a lot more and showed us some results. Really incredible quality photos - at a price you can probably afford. Check page 3!!

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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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!

Y2K STATUS - this month, we have a couple of tidbits relating to the upcoming year end events. The item on p.6 is particularly interesting - time to play hard ball is coming!

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YEAR 2000

[by Emil Volcheck]

As some of you know, I have had a PC operating since August of 1998 that thinks the year 2000 is past history...

Back then, I set the PC's clock to the year 2000; so that it would be possible to check whether various programs have any installation or operation problems once 19 is not the beginning of a current year number.

That PC was running Windows for Workgroups v3.11 - and I performed Microsoft's minor Y2K correction (one file updated) before switching the clock.

The PC negotiated the 12/31/00 to 1/1/01 transition without incident.

Since then the computer has run fine, all applications have worked OK and only one date related hitch was noted. That was a virus check - the virus software, when presented with a February 1999 definition file, refused to use it since it was apparently 2 years old - at this time, the PC clock was in 2001.

Recently, I decided to convert the PC to Win95 and further decided to try doing the installation - WHILE THE PC CLOCK WAS STILL IN 2001. This meant, of course, that the install software was about four years old (as Win95B carried a publish date around 1/97).

The installation - to a freshly re-formatted to FAT32 hard drive - went without a problem. As of this writing, the system update was done about four weeks ago and the PC is running nicely (quite spritely since I did a lean and clean installation).

All software reinstalled so far, as well as some Win95 software that I could not use before, is performing OK, too.

If anything unusual comes up, I'll endeavour to let folks know about it, but, so far, all is OK.

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EMAIL, OOPS!

[from the internet]

A business man from Wisconsin went on a business trip to Louisiana. Upon arrival, he immediately plugged into the hotel room port and sent a short email back home to his wife, Jennifer Johnson at her address, JennJohn@world.net.

Unfortunately, in his haste, he mistyped a letter and the email ended up going to JeanJohn@world.net, a Jean Johnson in Duluth, the wife of a preacher who had just passed away and was buried that day. The preacher's wife took one look at the email and promptly fainted.

It read: "Arrived safely, but it sure is hot here!"

[from Chops & Gneiss Times, via Rock Buster News, via Golden Spike News, via Rock Chips, 7/99]

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

FOR SALE: the club has been receiving quite a lot of Commodore stuff - software, computers, disk drives, monitors, printers, etc. - from former members or other folks who spotted us in the Delaware Valley Computer User.

So, if you are in need of replacements or augmentation, please contact Charles Curran - he has most of the stuff and the prices are VERY reasonable!!!

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64/128/PC MEETING
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Our July meeting was set up as an unstructured (well, slightly structured...) session for questions, problems and, hopefully, some answers. Members had been invited to bring problems hints or whatever.

We had a lot of good discussions. One of the highlights has already been referred to on p.1 of this issue - namely, the show of high tech printing by Layton Fireng. His summary is printed immediately following.

As always, we urge members to use our monthly meetings - AND the BBS - AND the website - as resources to help get more value out of their computing efforts.

Unfortunately, the increasing complexity of our systems is not promoting increased reliability - and not always increased ease of use. So, until computing becomes more automatic and intuitive, your user group should be a valuable personal resource. AND also an opportunity to share your learnings with others - a user group should be a 2-way street for the flow of help!

PRINTING WITH ALPS

by Layton Fireng

[ejv: the following is a summary for the "show and tell" that Layton did at our July meeting - as a non-scheduled tidbit]

At the July meeting, I displayed an 8x10 color print of Emil Volcheck. The picture was taken at the December 1998 meeting, as part of a demonstration of the HP PhotoSmart scanner. The photo was taken with a Leitz 35mm, f/1.4 Summilux lens on Kodak 100 color negative film, with normal processing. The negative was scanned in at 2400DPI, producing a file of 116,556,628 bytes (111 MB). The file was in .PSD format, which is a Photoshop proprietary file. The image was shown to be 7202x5675 pixels, RGB, 8 bits/channel.

The print was a nominal 8x10 printed on an Alps 1300 printer using dye sublimation. Dye sublimation has long been used in the graphics industry for pre-press proofs, and for presentation pieces. The process is highly respected and has largely replaced the Kodak dye transfer process. The prints are true, durable, do not run and are color stable. Another process commonly used is one that uses wax, this process produces beautiful prints, but lacks durability. Both of these processes employ printers costing from $5000-$25,000, and up, for really good work. The pricing has largely taken these modalities out of all but commercial use. The same being true for the dye transfer print, which started at $125.00 for an 8X10.

As an aside, Playboy when making their center fold, would shoot the picture on 8x10 reversal film, then have a 36x42 dye transfer print made of it. This print was then airbrushed, and the separations were made from it. With the film costing about $5.00 a sheet and there being 20-50 shots made, it is easy to see that this kind of work gets real expensive real quick. TV guide also used Dye Transfer prints for it's covers. I know of one photographer who gets $20,000/day plus expenses plus materials. So in a world where these kind of expenses are routinely incurred, a $50,000 print proofer is small potatoes.

Comes the Alps, this machine which lists for about $450.00, prints dye sublimation at 600dpi. Is it equivalent to the more expensive machines? That is why I passed the print around. In a world where kerning type offers an adjustment in increments of .001 inch, and a laser scan can cost $15,000.00, perhaps they would be found deficient. But to me they look pretty good. That someone in our group can purchase a printer (street $230.-$400) and for about $2.00 in materials produce a first class print, is to me astounding. It is my experience that ink jet prints, look like ink jet prints. These prints look like photographs. That is why I passed them around, without comment, no one picked it up. The only thing that was done on the outside was the processing of the negative. If someone does not want to buy a scanner. Do not, I say, do not get anything other than a true negative scanner, I know there are attachments and supplements offered. DON'T EVEN LOOK AT THEM. HP makes a transparency attachment for their flat bed scanner. It costs about $500.00 and scans at about 600dpi, this is fine for X-rays and 8x10's, but it just isn't there for 6x6 and 35mm.

If you want to do nice work, you can order a CD of your film when you have it processed. It will cost about $30.00. Each negative will have 5 different scans, they are sharp and clear and if you have a good camera every bit of detail will be there. If you want to do little prints, you can order the floppy from Kodak, it is only a couple of dollars. However the scans are JPGs. This is a lossy file, in that it uses a compression mode whereby data is removed. However, you might get very nice wallet size prints, and you get to control the whole process. The special Alps paper in the small (4x6) allows you to make prints for less than a $1.00. Depending on the program you use, you could put several prints on one sheet, which is very nice. The really nice thing is that YOU CAN DO IT ALL.

For the record, I made the print using Photoshop 5, on an Alps 1300, on Alps 8.5x11 Photopaper. For dye sublimation printing, you must use Alps ink and paper. You can however use their "photo realistic" mode and print on regular paper with their regular inks. To my knowledge no one makes any replacement inks (ribbons) for the Alps.

[ejv: more such tidbits are in store - come on out to our meetings and WATCH for them!!!]

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THE MODEM CENTER

Author unknown

[Reprinted from: The CEBUG Chronicle via LCCUG, April 1999]

This article found on the Net starts off talking about 28.8k modems, but continue reading even if your modem is a slower (or faster) one.

If you use a 28.8 kbps modem and rarely get 26.6 kbps or 28.8 connects, the reason is almost always a result of phone line quality. 28.8 modems are pushing the limits of today's telephone system. Getting 28.8 baud connections requires pristine phone line conditions end to end. For this reason, many people will never see 28.8 or even 26.6 CONNECTS with their 28.8 modem.

The part of the telephone system which you may be most able to improve is your telephone premises wiring. If you rarely get 28.8 or 26.6 connects try the following:

Premises wiring - Faulty premises wiring, bad phone jacks, plugs cheap or old antique phones or too many phones or other devices cause problems. Here's how to determine if your premises wiring or equipment is affecting your CONNECT quality.

Find the telco wiring block where all your premises wiring connects usually outside or inside your house near where the phone line comes in. Run a good quality phone cable directly between the block and the phone jack that serves your modern, routing so as to avoid other electrical wiring and devices - and then disconnect all other premises wiring from the telco block. Note that only two conductors are necessary in modem residential systems (normally green and red). Good quality twisted-pair phone wiring is best. if this gives you faster connects, then your premises wiring or your phone equipment is causing you trouble.

Reconnect wiring and phone devices incrementaly while retrying the modem to see if you can find the culprit. Examine each plug and jack, and reset each several times where visible. inspect the routing of the phone wiring to insure it steers clear of other wiring and electrical devices. if you find some of your equipment or premises wiring is contributing to the problem, the solution is to replace or eliminate the equipment and/or wiring.

Using a Teleprotector - There is a another solution that I have used to eliminate problems without eliminating premises wiring or equipment. I have an antique pay phone which was causing a problem, but I did not want to eliminate that treasure from my system. I ran a new, dedicated line from the telco block to my modem jack. Then, I bought a $10 device from Radio Shack, called "Teleprotector" (Cat. No. 43407).

The Teleprotector is designed to protect fax and data transmissions from interruptions. The device is a small cube with a phone jack on one side and a short phone cord with a plug coming out the other side. When installed in a phone line, the Teleprotector disconnects the phone line downstream of itself, when any upstream device is off-hook.

Here is how I used the device. I marked the cord side of the cube "telco" and the jack side "phones". I inserted the plug end of the line coming out of the Teleprotector into the jack on the other side of the Teleprotector. Then I cut the resulting cord loop in half and stripped the wires of the cut ends which resulted in the Teleprotector having stripped phone wires sticking out both sides. Next, I removed all premises wiring from telco block except for the new line going to my modems. I connected the wires on the side of the Teleprotector marked "telco" to the telco block and connected the wires coming out the other side to all of the premises wiring I had disconnected. Note: Most residential phone systems only use the green and red wires - you can ignore the black and yellow wires (just leave them unconnected).

Done! Now, whenever my modem has the line. All other phone wiring and devices in the house are switched off-line by the Teleprotector. My average connect rate used to he 24k baud - now it is rare when I get less than a 28k baud connect. Another benefit - now all of the other phones in the house are dead whenever my modem has the line, so it anyone lifts a phone it doesn't mess up my data connection. Lots of benefits from a $10 expenditure!

Telephone Co. Line Quality - If you determine that your premises wiring is not causing problems and you still get low' connect speeds, you can try a few other things like calling a known quiet number and listening carefully - if you hear hissing, humming, a radio station or other background voices you have a line problem (you may have a line problem even if the line sounds quiet). Reporting noisy cdnditions will probably he sufficient to get the phone company to look into the 'problem'. You may be able to get them to test and improve your line but he aware that all they guarantee to provide is a line meeting voice quality standards, and also they may want go charge you for the testing if they find no line problem. So you telling them your modem can't get 28.8 connections probably won't motivate them. However, it has been reported that the phone company will generally be responsive to fax problems, so report those if you have them. Your connect speeds will frequently be lower when you are distant from your telephone exchange, and when your call must pass through more than one exchange.

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YEAR 2000 #2

Will Your Broker Close on Jan. 1?

If your brokerage firm isn't ready for the Year 2000, the Securities and Exchange Commission will shut it down. Under new rules unanimously adopted by the SEC on July 27, federal securities regulators will go to court beginning Dec. 1 to close brokerage firms that are not Y2K-compliant. "Any firm that cannot achieve Y2K compliance in a timely fashion will be required to cease doing business by Dec. 1," SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt said before the vote. "A few firms' lack of readiness could have adverse consequences for countless others. We simply cannot allow firms to continue to operate if they threaten theintegrity of the system or if they are not able to assure customers' access to their funds and securities." The SEC estimates that just 1 percent of the 3,900 brokerage firms will be unprepared for the millennial date change. The new rulesalso apply to transfer agents that are not banks. Transfer agents are responsible for keeping records of shareholders of corporations and for issuing or canceling stock certificates when shares are bought and sold. --Cathryn Conroy [reprinted from Compuserve "What's New"]

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By John Deker, AMIGA SIG Leader

(continued from p.1)

as datatypes and libraries and to help with the installation of software. I'll have a copy of Envoy and a parallel cable for setting up a mini-LAN to make software transfers easier.

NEW VERSION COMMAND

Version 40.3 of the VERSION command is now available from the Amiga Inc Web site at:

http://www .amiga.com/diary/developers/Version_v40.3.lha

This version command is a Y2K drop-in replacement for the version command that shipped with OS2.0 through OS3.1. It replaces the version command that shipped with those systems and insures that the year portion of version dates that are returned to the system as 00 through 77 are recognized as the years 2000 through 2077. This is critical information for the standard Amiga INSTALLER command which is used to install most software.

RADIANCE

As promised, we did a brief demonstration of Radiance version 2.0 which was ported to the Amiga several years ago. We used an often used demonstration file to create a very simplistic room containing a box and sphere. Using the RVIEW command we rendered the image in memory, first on an Amiga low resolution NTSC screen of 320x200 and later on an Amiga high resolution NTSC screen of 640x400. The lacking CPU power of even the Amiga 68060 is noticeable when rendering compared to many modern PC clones. Also noticeable was the limited screen resolution selection when rendering to memory. Only basic NTSC (and maybe PAL) screens were available. I suspect that rendering to a file would allow much higher resolutions to be used.

Radiance can be found on Aminet as RADIANCE-BIN.LHA.

Of note when using Radiance is the importance of getting an easily implemented PIPE command for the Amiga. The Amiga PIPE command implementation works differently than that of a PC or Linux. To get similar functionality, I installed a program from Aminet called PIPE-1.5.LHA. This program enables PC type constructs in Radiance such as:

!genbox blueplastic box .5 .5 .5 | xform -rz 15 -t .5 .75 0

where "|" denotes that the output of genbox is to be "piped" to the input to xform.

Since documentation for Radiance is not included with the Aminet distribution, downloading documentation from:

http://radsite.lbl.gov/radiance/

is a good place to start. For starters, try the tutorial found at:

http://radsite.lbl.g ov/radiance/refer/tutorial.html

TROUBLESHOOTING STARTUP

When troubleshooting any system problem, a general approach to use is what I call "the divide and conquer" method. That is, try to break a problem down into its component parts and verify which parts are functioning properly.

In the case of the Amiga startup, there are 3 sets of software executed from disk. In sequence they are the files loaded by Startup-Sequence, the files loaded by User-Startup, and the files loaded from the SYS:WBStartup drawer. When troubleshooting a software related startup problem, one method that works for me is to use the Amiga's early startup mode (depress both left & right mouse buttons at the start of boot up) to boot without Startup-Sequence. I then use the RENAME command to rename the User-Startup file and the WBStartup drawer to something the system won't find. That done, I check to see if the Amiga will reboot using just the Startup-Sequence file.

If problems persist, one technique is to restart again using the Amiga's early startup mode to boot without the Startup-Sequence file and use the editor, ED, to embed ECHO commands throughout the Startup-Sequence file. This way, the next time you boot normally you can tell just how far Startup-Sequence gets executed by observing the screen output of each ECHO command before the startup fails. With enough ECHO commands embedded in Startup-Sequence you should be able to determine which command is causing a failure and hopefully identify the needed fix.

STARTING APPS FROM THE SHELL/CLI

We spent some time discussing and demonstrating the use of the Shell's Command Line Interface (CLI) to start applications. Most users quickly learn how to use a mouse to start a program, but sometimes when a program fails to startup the Shell helps identify the problem. Many programs will provide useful output to the CLI window that can often aid in troubleshooting the problem.

One concept that is important to remember when using the CLI to start a program is the concept of the file PATH. During the startup sequence the Amiga defines a default search path to be used when looking for a file. Also, when using a Shell or CLI window, the Shell or CLI is associated with a specific directory or drawer. You can change the associated directory with the Current Directory (CD) command. Unless a file path is explicitly used to start a program and only the filename is used, the Amiga will first look in the Current Directory for the program. If the Amiga cannot find the program there, it will search the predefined path established at bootup.

If you know in what directory a program resides and it is not in the current directory or the search path, it is sometimes possible to start the program using the full file path and filename. An example of a full file path and filename is:

SYS:C/info

Since the C directory is also assigned as a logical drive, it would be possible to use the path and command as:

C:info

However, probably the best way to run a program is to make the program's resident directory the Shell's current directory as demonstrated by the following command set:

CD SYS:C

or

CD C:

and then type

info

The value of this is that if the program needs to find a configuration file or other files, it is more likely to find them by first making the Current Directory the same as the program's resident directory.

AMIGA INC DUMPS QNX FOR LINUX QNX WOOS PHASE5

It almost plays like a soap opera. In late 1998 Amiga Inc announced that they were interested in the QNX OS kernel to be the basis for the AmigaNG OS. With changes in Amiga Inc's management, the decisions of earlier management came under review beginning in January 1999. After six months, Amiga Inc has announced that they've dumped QNX in favor of the Linux kernel based on their perception that Linux would provide better early market penetration.

Since QNX and Phase5 have apparently been left out in the cold by Amiga Inc's actions, it is not surprising to learn that these two companies are now in bed together to produce a classic Amiga running PPC and a QNX based OS. These moves look to be designed to at best send a message to Amiga Inc that it reconsider the direction it is taking, and at worst will result in a division of the currently small existing Amiga market as users will be faced with following the Amiga name owned by parent company Gateway, or following what appears to many to be the "true spirit" of Amiga computing, namely the QNX - Phase5 consortium.

Things are changing so rapidly right now in the Amiga market place that it is way too early to forecast what the end result will be. Will Gateway's Amiga Inc reconsider the direction they've chosen? Will there be two paths to choose from for Amiga users? Will the resulting chaos of a split Amiga market be too much, and both companies eventually fold? Only time will tell. I expect to see a lot of action and changes in the Amiga market over the next six months.

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 are 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.

NOTE: maps on our webpage - http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/index.html

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64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  1999  Steering Committee Meetings

August 14 * August 18 September 11 * September 15 October 9 October 13 **

* = 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