Main Line Computer Users Group - Sept 1999 Issue 208

**** SEPTEMBER 1999 ******************************** ISSUE #208 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - SEP 11th

COME AND JOIN US - BRING FRIENDS


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

For September, we'll have another of our participatory Q & A problem solving sessions. The last two meetings have had some good interchanges - that appear to be well received by attendees. Then, we'll segue into a short session of Linux delvings, by our Linux guru and webmaster, Peter Whinnery.

Time permitting, we'll do some shorter demos - including items that attendees may bring to the fore. One is the potent handy utility called Tweak UI - developed by the Microsoft programmers. We'll try the Microsoft email help system. Others installed on the club PC include WinZip, Atomic Clock. How about yours?

Come join us in room 110 ... [continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - Room 210

We convened our August meeting with the primary purpose of helping each other answer questions and solve problems. Well, we wound up with enough questions and problems, but I don't think we solved any of them. Instead, the problems and issues just seemed to multiply.

So, for our September meeting I thought we would try again, assuming those who attended last month haven't taken care of their computing problems in the mean time. Like our August meeting, we'll try to demonstrate and use some networking to update software like datatype and library files. I've ordered the Amiga-Link/Envoy Starter Kit from Software Hut to be used in lieu of trying a parallel port PLIP connection. It'll be interesting to see if we can make headway on any of the problems this time. So, if you feel up to it, bring your machines and problems. We'll try to take care of you better this time around. [continued]


I SEEK YOU (ICQ)

One of the really growing uses for the internet is in real-time communication. Internet chat has been one such route, but the growth has come in apps that monitor the net for folks on your personal contact list who have logged on. One-on-one interaction via Instant Messenger is one - while ICQ for many-on-one is another. More info here.

########################################
ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
########################################

MEMBER SURVEY - so far the prime returnees of the member survey form have been those who use PCs a lot. We'd like to hear from the 8- bitters and the Amigans, too. To plan for the year 2000 and more, 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!

Loadstar - well, after finding, and sending in, my renewal check for Loadstar (it had lain under a pile of papers on my desk for 3 months!), my LS resumed today! And there is new news! LS is relocating:

LOADSTAR
443 GLADSTONE BLVD.
SHREVEPORT LA 71104
318-868-8727
www.loadstar.com

They are still planning to publish thru the end of 2000.

Their former association with Softdisk Publishing is end(ing)(ed) as that firm is closing down its paper/disk public-ations (their Softdisk PC, the last one is shut down, apparently). They are still doing some internet service stuff.

So, Loadstar is totally on its own now. Hopefully, the 8-bit world will continue to support them.

SUPER FGM! - issue #182 of Loadstar 64 is accompanied by a separate floppy that contains version 8 of the Fun Graphics Machine (FGM), by Ron Hackley. Ron chose to distribute thru Loadstar to avoid the hassle of small orders, from a dwindling clientele.

V8 is pretty big - and does a whole lot of graphics stuff. It completely fills both sides of a 5.25 floppy - plus the LS#182 disk has 50+ doc files (in TWS format) on it.

Loadstar plans to keep issue #182 "in print"; so folks can continue to purchase Super FGM v8.

For a measley $10 - you get issue #182 (normally $6-7) plus the v8 of FGM - not a bad deal!!!

BTW - I have transferred all the FGM files, all the TWS doc files and an intro TWS file, that I prepared, to a single 1581 disk. They fit with about 500 blocks free. I'll have it at the next meeting - tho not being an FGMer, I can't show much other than it's HERE!!!

Hopefully, one of our FGM using members (like Charlie?) can do a future demo (hint, hint)?

COMMODORE PRODUCTS LIST - Roger Long has published the version #7 of his C= products & vendors listing. Available in print ($5) or disk ($3) from him at: 1815 97th St. S., Apt. V7, Tacoma WA 98444.

GEOWRITE 128 - even on the GEOS front, there is news. Todd Elliott has published a patch for GeoWrite 128 v2.1 to add enhancements similar to Maurice Randall's Wheels improvement for the GEOS OS, e.g. multi- drives. The "patch" is only $6. I'll bring it to the next meeting, too.


MS INFO - I

Restoring Missing/Damaged Files

On several occasions, the question of how to restore single files from your Win95/98 install CD or cab file directory came up. Files may have been inadvertently deleted, corrupted, or mysteriously made unavailable - hence the question.

The story of how to get those files back is in a Microsoft Knowledge Base article. I'll have a printout for folks to see at the September meeting.

However, if you want to get it for yourself, fire up your browser and go to:

support.microsoft.com/support/search/c.asp

You should be at a page showing a search form to fill in. Click the radio button for finding an article by ID number.

Type q129605 into the provided box, press return and you should be there. Print it, or save it and be happy, secure in the "knowledge" that you've got this backup info. But, also, see page 5.

***************************
Zip Drive and my Commodore

by Peter Whinnery

One of the reasons I opted for the SCSI version of the Zip drive was the fact that it can be attached to a CMD hard drive and used with a Commodore system. Recently, while troubleshooting the SCSI devices on one of our PCs, I found that I had an extra SCSI cable lying around that was just begging to be attached to the CMD HD. So I dug around a bit on the Internet and looked through my back issues of Commodore World and found the info (and confidence) to finally give it a try.

The process was a snap! I was able to create a set of partitions that mirrored what is on the hard drive and then do a complete backup using M-copy. The capacity of the HD is 80 megs (and is only about 1/2 full) so everything easily fit on one zip disk. My 'Peace of Mind' index went up significantly.

If anyone is interested in the nitty-gritty please let me know. I will be happy to provide the details.

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

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!!!

***************************
64/128/PC MEETING
***************************

The August PC/64/128 meeting had some 11 attendees. We had a very good info interchange amongst the attendees for about 1.25 hours - bit longer than planned, as we were having fun!

Then Tom Johnson took over. Via the ethernet connection, he downloaded the ICQ software - latest version - about 4 MB file (took a couple of minutes to download).

Then he did an install - which you do on-line as the install and registration for an ICQ account are performed together. All this went smoothly without a hitch. The program has a vast array of options, but the defaults make it easy to get going.

Tom then did a brief demo of some of the operation of this communication tool. It may be a good followup topic for a future meeting. Especially, if any members decide to get on-line with ICQ. More details are below!!


CD-RW Part I

by Emil Volcheck

Recently, we have been playing with CD-R and CD-RW units - with some interesting learnings. One of the more disturbing:

As mentioned in my message on the BBS to John Murphy, we had made a CD- RW disc on Charlie's new Backpack unit.

He could not read it on the CD-ROM drive in his PC (a 16X unit, about 2.5 years old). The club PC with a 24X unit about 1.5 years old did read it.

I hooked up Charlie's Backpack to the club PC - erased the RW disc and recorded some different files on it. But, the club PC's 24X CD-ROM could not now read that one!

My laptop with a 32X CD-ROM, about 9 months old, was able to read it.

It appears that CD-RW discs are a very long way from being generally useful!!! Now, I understand better why folks say to stay clear of them unless they serve a very special need (and maybe used for info that you expect to eventually NOT be able to read)!

We hope to test some CD-R discs which are supposed to be more generally readable. I have an array of CD-ROM drives to test them on from a 2X drive about 4 years old, thru 6X, 8X, 16X, 24X and 32X units. That ought to be enough!!!

If members are using any of these devices, share your experiences...


ADVERTISING

"He who has a thing to sell and goes and whispers in a well, is not so apt to get the dollars as he who climbs a tree and hollers."

[ed:and the car salesmen believe this for sure!!]


MORE ON ICQ

by Tom Johnson

At the August meeting, the ICQ (I Seek You) communication program was demonstrated. This versatile program allows you to communicate in real time with others. By putting this program on your system, you are transported to a chatroom where what is typed on your screen also appears on the screen(s) of the party (parties) with whom you have contact. ICQ is completely free of any charges and gives you the ability to converse with family and friends world-wide. Find new friendships, send messages, send files, and configure ICQ to work with other applications. (Did I mention it is free?)

The new beta version 99a (4mbs) can be downloaded from www.mirabilis.com or www.icq.com. Just follow the instructions to setup your account, which contains only the information you want to provide. You are completely in control of the information you want others to view, and you choose how to arrange lists of people to contact. An abundance of detailed instructions is provided through linked pages to help anyone to start to use this fun-filled communication tool. One of the main links is to the ICQ Home Page, which supplies an abundance of sites that will help to put you in contact with other people sharing your interests.

The program is attached to your browser and starts up automatically when you go online. Bring up the main menu by double-clicking on the flower sitting in your computer tray or add another flower as a floating icon that can be placed anywhere you want on the screen.

Online registration establishes a base and identifies you with an ICQ number, your real name, a nickname, and your email address. After that you are ready to explore the many resources connected to ICQ. Use the Invitation Wizard to send others everything they need to download ICQ onto their systems, or use the Random Search feature to find people with a certain interest you want to discuss. Join a group discussion, or simply indicate your interest so that others can find you. After mastering the simple mode, move to the advanced mode, which presents more possibilities of communicating with the million plus members of ICQ. If you do not want to be contacted, post a Not Available sign, create your own sign, or elect to become invisible to other users. You decide on how and when the program is to be used.

After being established by Mirabilis, ICQ was acquired by America On Line earlier this year, but you do not need to be a member of AOL to enjoy complete and unfettered access to ICQ.

(The author uses ICQ to chat with his brother who lives in California. Communication between the two has increased, and a pile of money has been saved on phone bills. He has also established contacts with people in other parts of the world. The tales told never cease to amaze.)


MS INFO - II

Knowledge Base Articles via Email

Microsoft has a nice service for getting the articles in their knowledge base. This is a followup to the item on page 2.

If you know the article number (such as when John Fried refers to one in his weekly column in the Inquirer), you can get a copy for yourself, as follows:

Send an email message to: mshelp@microsoft.com

For the SUBJECT line, put the article number. For example, the article on extracting files from cabs is Q129605. So, that number (with the Q in caps) would be the subject.

Then send it - nothing needs to be put in the body of the message.

You will receive the article by email shortly thereafter (certainly within a day - maybe only minutes). I've tried it and it works just fine!

The emailed articles come in plain text format - no HTML - so you can read, print, forward or whatever, with no special steps needed.

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

We convened our August meeting with the primary purpose of helping each other answer questions and solve problems. Well, we wound up with enough questions and problems, but I don't think we solved any of them. Instead, the problems and issues just seemed to multiply.

So, for our September meeting I thought we would try again, assuming those who attended last month haven't taken care of their computing problems in the mean time. Like our August meeting, we'll try to demonstrate and use some networking to update software like datatype and library files. I've ordered the Amiga-Link/Envoy Starter Kit from Software Hut to be used in lieu of trying a parallel port PLIP connection. It'll be interesting to see if we can make headway on any of the problems this time. So, if you feel up to it, bring your machines and problems. We'll try to take care of you better this time around.

AMIGA FOREVER AND NETWORKING DEMOS

In addition to my A1200, I brought my PC to the August meeting. I wanted to demonstrate the latest version of Cloanto's Amiga Forever, which is what I did. Cloanto's Amiga Forever is now at version 3.0 of UAE, the Universal Amiga Emulator. It includes all Amiga Kickstart ROM images from 1.0 through 3.1, and includes emulators on CDROM for MSDOS, Mac, and Win95. Emulation supports 68000 & 68020 Motorola processors along with 68881 FPU for compatibility, and includes support for OCS, ECS, and AGA chipsets.

Amiga purists may frown on UAE, but for some users migrating to the PC, this is an excellent way to maintain a foot in the Amiga world, and for PC users, this is an inexpensive way to find out about the Amiga. UAE is available for free on the Internet, but doesn't include the Amiga OS software and Kickstart ROM. Buying Cloanto's Amiga Forever for about $60 is actually the least expensive way for a PC or Mac user to legally acquire and put an Amiga OS on their computers. In addition, the user gets some included Amiga applications for free.

PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS

Problem solving was the intended focus of our August meeting. Problems were what we got, but solutions seemed to elude us. If nothing else, everyone became aware of the problems others were facing on their respective systems. Hopefully, we'll come to this month's meeting better prepared to deal with each other's problems, assuming everyone hasn't solved their own problems between meetings.

BACON A DILEMMA

Bill Bacon arrived at the meeting ready to replace his failed floppy drive. Actually, Software Hut had sold Bill an A4000 HD floppy drive to use in his A3000. As we started to look at Bill's situation we realized one of the oddities of the A3000. The A3000 front bezel is an all-in-one molded piece without knockouts for peripherals. So, it requires the floppy drive to not have its own bezel. However, the A4000 has knockouts in its front bezel for the floppy drive bay. The first dilemma was how to adapt the A4000 floppy drive to the A3000.

The second dilemma was that the supplied instruction sheet did not match his floppy drive. Where there were supposed to be 6 jumper pins, there were only 4 pins.

The instructions became the show stopper for Bill. Under advisement, he deferred installation until he could speak to a Software Hut technician.

THE MEAN DEAN MACHINE

Ted Dean showed up with his hi-powered machine, but it seems all the hi-tech stuff was at odds with other pieces of hardware. Essentially Ted's machine had great difficulty booting. It would aggravatingly hangup in the startup sequence as though there was a hardware timing problem. Not having brought tools for hardware troubleshooting, there wasn't much we could do for Ted. Ted was going to take his computer to Software Hut before the next meeting to see if they could resolve his misfortune.

THE TROUBLESOME ENVOY VISIT

When Ted finally got his machine running, we tried networking his machine with mine using Village Tronic's Liana and Envoy, in this case Envoy version 3. Envoy is a peer-to-peer networking solution originally developed by Commodore. Liana is the device driver software that lets one use the Amiga's parallel port as a networking connection. Though we were able to see the machines on the network, we were unable to establish a usable connection. Running out of time, we eventually gave up the battle to hopefully win the war another day.

For some time I've considered buying Amitrix's Amiga-Link. The other week I ordered it from Software Hut who informed me they didn't have Amiga-Link in stock. So, I'm hoping it is delivered in time for this month's forthcoming meeting.

For those that don't know, Amiga-Link is a floppy drive "cheapernet" type solution that uses an interface connected to the floppy drive port, and in turn connects to the next computer by coax and BNC connectors. Amiga-Link throughput is about twice as fast as PLIP (Parallel Line Internet Protocol), and more than twice as fast as SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) connections.

AMIGA IN RETROSPECT

Excerpt taken from:
The Amiga Computer:
A Viable Alternative in Home Automation?
by Jim Hines
(http://www.iolinc.net/~hines_j/AmigaHA.html)

About Jim Hines

First, a little about myself since this is the first article that I've written for HomeToys. I am the Network Administrator of two Windows NT networks of over 25 machines for a television station (WDTV-TV5). I also maintain a network of Amigas there as well, consisting of six machines. Both in work and in my spare time, I write software for the Amiga which includes programs that automate certain functions of WDTV's operations, as well as my home.

A Brief History of Amiga, AmigaDOS and ARexx

I normally would not go into the OS in an article about Home Automation, but since it is the O.S. which makes the Amiga the ideal HA machine, I will explain a little bit about what makes it so powerful.

AmigaDOS was one of the very first pre-emptive multi-tasking operating systems coming out shortly after OS9. The big difference was that AmigaDOS was a 32bit OS and had a GUI interface. Meanwhile in 1985, PCs were still stumbling with only 16 colors and Apples were still black and white while the Amiga was doing a whooping 4096 colors! Top it off with built in 8 bit four channel digital sound with decent digital speech synthesis. It was years ahead of other platforms and in some respects, still is (like in it's ability to play back full screen high resolution animations with a relatively slow processor!).

AmigaDOS is currently at v3.1. It can still boot in as little as 512k ram, but that would not be very practical. Many programs will run in as little as 2mb without any CPU intensive disk caching, while still fully multi-tasking.

AmigaDOS not only has its own scripting capabilities, but also includes a much more powerful language called ARexx. It is based on the Rexx language developed by IBM and is somewhat compatible to Rexx which is available on OS-2 systems. The beauty of ARexx is this: Most Amiga programs include a built in ARexx port so that it may be completely controlled externally by another application or script. A script may be written to control many programs simultaneously, or just a single program. It can even hand data back and forth as it goes. This is quite powerful and I've yet to see anything that even comes close on other platforms. ARexx is even powerful enough to build complete stand-alone applications with a GUI interface that may even be compiled. It is easy to use and most people can learn the basics in just a few days. As you can imagine, these capabilities make for a very powerful home automation computer, and an easy way to create powerful custom programs or macros.

For those who may be interested in what ARexx looks like, here is very small Arexx script example:


/* This is an arexx script example. */

/* Tell the CM11A daemon to turn A1, A2 and A5 on */
address EZHOME send A1 A2 A5 on

/* Tune VCR to channel 18... */
address INFRAREXX VID_CH_1
address INFRAREXX VID_CH_8

/* ...and then record */
address INFRAREXX VID_REC
curtime = time() /* 18:00:00 */
say 'Your recording has started' /* Print to screen */

/* Have Amiga speak via built in speech synthesis */
address command 'echo >speak: "jim, your recording has started at"' curtime
/* END PROGRAM */


Amiga Hardware

Because the Amiga's OS is very efficient, it does not take a lot of CPU power to handle tasks effectively. As an example, here are my system specs.

     Model : Amiga 2000
       CPU : 68030
 CPU Speed : 50mhz
       RAM : 18mb FAST RAM
           : 2MB CHIP
    Drives : 1gb, 550mb, 240mb &
           :   Archive Viper Tape Backup
     Ports : 1 Serial, 1 Parallel
     Sound : four channel 8 bit stereo sound
           :   w/speech synthesis (built in)
     Cards : VFX Phonepak (FAX & voicemail boxes)
           : MultiFace3 (2 Serial, 1 Parallel)
           : PicassoII gfx card w/2mb &
           :   Cirrus Logic Chip Set
      Misc : External 33,6 FAX/Modem w/CID
           : CM11A ActiveHome Unit
           : CP290 X10
Interfaces : InfraRexx infrared controller
           : SCSI-2

As you can see, a mediocre system at best, but is able to handle more jobs simultaneously than a Pentium 166 or maybe even a P200. The ARexx port in each program is what allows the increased flexibility of AmigaDOS as compared with mainstream Windows systems.

There were many different models of Amigas made throughout the years starting with the original Amiga 1000 from 1985. A 32 bit system running a Motorola 68000 at 7.14mhz. It had 512K RAM as well as an optional 8088 PC card for running MS-DOS programs.

Next came the Amiga 500 also running a 68000 @ 7.14 mhz. More video RAM through a redesigned custom graphics chip (Agnus) made the A500 the ultimate gaming machine. Perhaps this is where the Amiga got its reputation as a "game machine".

The A2000 was available with the 68000 or 68020, video slot for internal genlock or other video devices (the Video Toaster was a popular one), a CPU slot for future expansion as well as 3 ISA slots and 4 Zorro 2 slots (The Amigas 16 bit expansion slots). Even though the A2000 is old, third party companies are still making accelerator CPU cards in 060 and PPC flavors transforming the A2000 into a very modern machine.

The A3000 and A4000 are listed together since both have very similar architectures. These machines are considered high end workstations and available in both desktop and tower variations. Both feature the newer Zorro 3 32 bit slots. The A4000 tower features, a most useful, two video slots instead of the usual one.

The A1200 is a wonderful home computer that is not much larger than a standard computer keyboard. The A1200 features a 68EC020 CPU plus 2mb video RAM. The CPU is upgradable to a 200Mhz PPC chip if desired. This machine is very popular and very capable of useful things. The A1200 also contains a Zorro 3 slot.

======================================
    _   __      _  <>_  __      _
   /\\   |\    /|| ||  /  `    /\\
  /__\\  | \  / || || || ___  /__\\
 /    \\_|  \/  ||_||_ \__//_/    \\_
======================================

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.htm



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

                      September 11 *                    September 15
                      October 9 *                       October 13 **
                      November 13 *                     November 17

     * = 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