Main line Computer Users Group - Oct 1999 Issue 209

**** OCTOBER 1999 ********************************* ISSUE #209 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - OCT 9 th

JOIN US TO NOODLE ABOUT Y2K!


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

As you can see from the bottom of this page, when we convene on the 9th, there will be just 83 days left before THE DAY! So, the theme for the last quarter of the year. But, first, we'll have our usual announcements and discussion. Then our Linux guru, Peter Whinnery, will go to the Linux tip o' the month.

Then to Y2K. There are a few tidbits elsewhere in this issue, and the drift of this month will initially be on hardware testing of computers (not toasters, VCR's or microwaves!). Each attendee is urged to come prepared to describe where they are in their own tests - and we'll share experiences and utilities.

[more Y2K ideas ...]

[continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - Room 210

We convened our September meeting with only 3 people, myself, Ted Dean, and Bill Bacon. Ted showed up with his equipment in the spirit of the meeting. The intent of the meeting was to provide a working environment in which to help each other answer questions and solve problems. Unlike last time, we actually made headway solving problems.

For our October meeting we'll continue with more of the same, but will also include a special demonstration of Master Iso, the CD burning software from Asimware. So, I invite members to bring their hardware and software problems. We'll be using AmigaLink networking software to help update config files, datatypes, and library files.

[continued]


LINUX GETS SOME ATTENTION

At last month's PC session, we spent a bit of time on Linux, under the tutelage of Pete Whinnery. Unfortunately, we succumbed to an uncrackable password problem; so we got limited exposure. But, the problem is solved and we'll have some more on it - maybe we can get a Y2K look at it? In keeping with the month's theme? More info elsewhere.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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RENEWAL TIME! - well, believe it or not! Our renewal time for the year 2000 has arrived (our fiscal renewal year starts at the same time as the Federal Government - good company???). We very definitely want to hang in there for another year (one that does not start with 19) - and continue helping folks with their computer hobby (or more).

After a review of our costs, the Steering Committee has agreed that we should hold our dues at the current $15 - as it will be sufficient to cover our costs in publishing this newsletter, which is our main regular expense. We will continue to try to sell stuff from our inventory to build a cushion against a rainy day.

So, we hope that each and every one of you will renew. Please make our treasurer, Dewitt Stewart, happy by renewing promptly. The deadline for receipt of 2000 dues is December. Send your $$$ (form is on page 10) and, if you have computer using friends - Amiga, 64/128 or PC - tell them about us.

MLCUG is a pretty good value for the money! We hope you agree.....

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.

I have now received both hardcopy and disk copies of Roger's list. I'll bring them to the next meeting. The hardcopy runs to some 50+ pages; so I would not attempt to make copies of it. But, Roger permits folks to make copies for others and asks only that folks send him a buck or two to help repay his effort. So, based on that, I'll be happy to provide disk copies for $3 each (I would then send Roger $2 for each copy we make).

It is available in both 1541 and 1581 formats. Each has plain text and Geowrite versions of the document. I can provide either form at the same cost.

For more info and view of the author on the C= scene, please see his article below.


Y2K Update Tidbit

Date setting in Windows & DOS

Quite accidentally, we learned that Microsoft changed its strategy for handling 2-digit years in the DOS date setting routine. There have been some problems in the way Windows handles setting the year after 1999; so an easy way to get it done is to use the DOS date command.

Up until very recently, if you used the DATE command at the DOS prompt to set the PC clock to 2000 or beyond, you had to enter the new year with 4-digits. DOS would not accept 00 as 2000 - but it WOULD accept 99 as 1999. If you tried to continue using 2-digits, you would get an invalid entry error message.

However, at some point in the upgrading of Windows 95 they changed the syntax for DATE. I have now tested four Win95 machines and one Win98 which show that DATE now does accept 2-digits entries.

Specifically, Microsoft has switched to using a "pivot year" for the 2-digit year entries for DATE. You can test your system to see if you have the updated routine - with the pivot year being 1980.

If you are using Windows, go to the true DOS prompt (by selecting START, then Shutdown, then Restart in MS-DOS mode). Use the DOS DATE command to enter the two digit years 00, 79, 80 and 99, checking the results of each entry by repeating the DATE command. If you have the new routine, you'll get dates of 2000, 2079, 1980 and 1999, respectively.

If you still have the older routine, you will not be able to enter the 00 year value.

TRY IT and let us know what you got - at the next meeting.


ARE YOU BEING WATCHED??

Below is a summary report by the webmaster (Bobby Foster) of the Main Line Macintosh User Group (website: www.mlmug.org). I'm reproducing it here not for the specific info that it contains but to give you all a better feel for the kind of information that websites get about you when you click that hyperlink!

Take a look - you may be amazed:
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BEGIN QUOTE

I was recently reviewing download statistics for our Shareware Library - to determine how frequently/infrequently files are downloaded.

For the period of 8/1/99 - 8/31/99, I discovered the following:

MLMUG's site welcomed 2485 visitors - that's 80 unique visits per day.

There were 1290 unique visitors, and 241 repeat users.

8.73% of those users were international (outside the U.S.) UK:42, Australia:25, Canada:19, France:17, Sweden:13, Germany:12, Japan:12; Other Countries included Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Iceland, New Zealand, Italy, and Brazil!

1146 of those visitors use AOL to login.

The most active day and time for our site is between 2-3PM on Thursdays.

Alta Vista is the search engine we are most commonly linked from; Lycos is second.

The keyword we are most referenced by: Shareware

61 percent of our visitors use Netscape to view our content - 90 percent of those using version 4.x or higher.

67% of our visitors do so from a Macintosh PowerPC. 24% are on some kind of Windows/NT box, and less than 5% from 68K Macs.

Our most popular Shareware title? Graphic Converter.
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END QUOTE

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

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
***************************

The September PC/64/128 meeting had some 12 attendees. As in August, we had a very good info interchange amongst the attendees for about an hour - we tried to control it a bit better this month!

Then Peter Whinnery took over. His intentions were to begin a series of monthly, short LINUX tutorials. Starting with the basics and working his and our way up - to let folks have the info to allow them to decide if this alternate OS might be of interest to them.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with the system password. Since Linux is designed as a multi-user OS, a user normally "log in" to it with a password to allow for personal uses. But, somehow, the password had escaped Pete! It was not the password that he thought it had been installed with for the previous demo many months ago.

Efforts to figure it out were fruitless; so Pete could give us only a very high level story - holding off til next time, when access will be assured.

Then, Layton Fireng had a chance to show off his latest toy. He has been prowling the computer shows for lo these many months seeking for the right prices on the right components for a high-end, home-brew PC suitable for intensive image processing chores (speedy CPU, 128 MB RAM, big hard drive, etc. etc.). With the sides removed from the case, he showed us his choices in key components like the motherboard, CPU type, DVD drive - and why he had made those choices. Then he fired her up and we got a quick look at the new machine.

He had only installed a bare Windows 98, 2nd ED., OS and essentially nothing else. The purpose for stopping there was to do a first-of-a-kind demo on a hacker utility called 98LITE. The raison d'etre for 98Lite was to: 1) remove Internet Explorer v4.0x (an enormous resource hog that is integrated into Win98), 2) replace the Win98 desktop with the Win95 desktop (the latter is a much faster beasty) and 3) allow installation of Internet Explorer 3.0x (a low resource user that you might need for many webpages which won't show well except in IE). Steps 1) and 2) were tried and appeared to work just fine!

With that under our belt, we adjourned. We'll hear more from Pete in October and Layton will keep us posted on how his home-brew project proceeds (hopefully, we'll be able to publish some updates and have a followup demo when the PC is a bit nearer final state).

Our thanks to both of them for their efforts to help all of us learn a bit more about this consuming hobby of ours!!!


COMMODORE PRODUCT LIST

by Roger Long

The Commodore Products Source List is a guide to help you find software, hardware, accessories and more for your Commodore 64 or Commodore 128. The Products List was started after a game I was playing died on me and I couldn't find any place that still sold it. (Later, I did find the program at Bare Bones Software. Sadly, they're out of business now.) This is its seventh issue.

As long as a company offers some C64 or C128 products, I've also made note of if they carry items for other computers, such as the Amiga or the Mac. There are also entries for supplies such as the DS/DD disks our drives use that are getting harder to find.

The Products List is not intended to be an all-inclusive listing of everything available for our computer, like the "Everything Book" that Tenex once published, but it seems to be getting closer to that. Since a web page is easily updated, perhaps we could use this as a central point for information on what's still available for sale.

Disclaimer: Though I have done what I can to verify the information in this List, I cannot guarantee that it will be accurate at all times. Internet web sites appear and disappear rapidly, and in the past, the printed version of the Products List was published about once a year. It is up to you to contact each person/company BEFORE you send in money for an order. It simply is not possible to be aware of every company that no longer supports the C64/C128 and/or goes out of business, and I will not be held responsible for their actions or lack thereof.

If I receive feedback and updates, I will try to keep the On-line Edition as up-to-date as I can. The printed edition will have an update section attached.

Ordering: If you can, have a friend with the printed List photocopy it for you. If that option is not available, you can get a new list from me by sending $5.00 US to the address below. If you would like to get the list on disk, please let me know. Of the two, mailing printed copies is the easiest for me, but I also realize that you may want to have the info on disk. (The disk version is $3.00.)

Note: If you are ordering from outside of North America, keep in mind that this List primarily covers the United States and Canada. There are some entries for people and businesses in other countries, but prices and shipping charges are listed in U.S. currency, You will need to check with the person/business to find out what it will be for your country. To cover the extra postage required to mail the Products List to your country, please enclose an extra dollar or two. Thank you.

Once you have the list (in printed or electronic form), you are free to distribute it as you see fit. Include it in a newsletter, upload it to a BBS, make copies for your friends and/or club, etc. However, I still retain the copyright to this product, so my address must remain with it.

Please send any orders for the List (remember to send $5.00 for the printed list, $3.00 for the list on disk) to:

   Commodore Products Source List
   c/o Roger Long
   1815  97th St. S., Apt. V7
   Tacoma, WA, USA  98444
Updates and notices of new places and closed places are especially welcomed.

If you do make a copy off of someone else's List, I would appreciate it if you could send a dollar or two to help reimburse me for the effort I put into making the Products List.

   longrj2@gte.net
   http://home1.gte.net/longrj2/

OUR Y2K MEETINGS

by Emil Volcheck

After mulling this over a bit - and reviewing some questions that have come up in other club meetings I go to, I've decided to try the following strategy for the next two MLCUG 64/128/PC meetings.

We'll start with our usual announcements and Q & A. Nothing new here.

Then, we'll have a Linux moment - hosted by our intrepid webmaster and Linux proselyter - Peter Whinnery (now that he has the password problem cracked!).

Then, we'll devote the remainder of the meeting program to Y2K. I plan to keep it loose, but generally want to follow the lines of:

Since it appears more and more likely that water, gas and electricity will continue to flow to us, problems like our computer systems become a prime source of Y2K concerns - hence the above thoughts.

Any suggestions from the readers here? Something obvious that I've missed?

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

We convened our September meeting with only 3 people, myself, Ted Dean, and Bill Bacon. Ted showed up with his equipment in the spirit of the meeting. The intent of the meeting was to provide a working environment in which to help each other answer questions and solve problems. Unlike last time, we actually made headway solving problems.

For our October meeting we'll continue with more of the same, but will also include a special demonstration of Master Iso, the CD burning software from Asimware. So, I invite members to bring their hardware and software problems. We'll be using AmigaLink networking software to help update config files, datatypes, and library files.

DON'T DROP THAT MONITOR!

Last month's meeting proved a little expensive for me. I had brought a lot of equipment, including normal fare like my A1200 and Toshiba monitor. In addition I was toting my A2000 with Jaz drive and 17" monitor. Having this much equipment required that I make two trips to get it back to my car. It was on the second trip to my car that my 17" monitor fell off the cart I was using. The monitor was an immediate casualty as I could hear the CRT hissing as air leaked in. Damages for the day were $250.

As an assessment let me just say, never overload a cart, and never place heavy objects on top of cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes flex too much to provide stable support for heavy objects, especially when in motion.

PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS

Like last month we were faced with booting problems. What booted well at home did not boot well at the meeting. Some of the problems encountered resulted from changes in hardware configuration. In my case, PFS2 dosdrivers for my Zip drive got in the way. I had to boot in safe mode without startup script using the Amiga's early startup option, and then remove the Zip drivers from my Amiga's DEVS:DosDrivers/ drawer.

Ted Dean encountered somewhat similar problems with his equipment.

The assessment, test your system at home before coming to a meeting. Make sure you test using exactly the same hardware and software conditions at home as will exist at the meeting.

AMIGALINK A SUCCESS

Unlike the last meeting, we were able to establish a LAN connection using Envoy. This time we used AmigaLink to connect Amiga floppy drive ports together rather than use Liana drivers to establish a parallel port connection. AmigaLink cabling looks a lot like a 10Base2 setup. By design, AmigaLink is a lot less CPU intensive than a parallel port connection.

Using AmigaLink we were easily able to update Ted's Directory Opus configuration files. Though we put a good dent in updating Ted's files, we were not able to complete the task. Hopefully we'll do that at the next meeting.

SOFTWARE DEMOED AT THE MEETING

AMIGA UPDATE EDITORIAL

(From Amiga Update by Brad Webb)
http://www.globaldialog.com/~amigaupdate/index.html

GATEWAY OUT COMMODORES COMMODORE ... ?

Visitors to the Amiga web site already know it's not the place it was. The entire American staff is no longer listed. Most of the material which refers in any way to the building of Amiga computers in the future have quietly vanished. The short and mostly meaningless statement from the new head of the company pointedly refers only to Internet Appliances. On top of that comes a story in "Business Week Online" that a change of direction has occurred at Amiga. The company has no plans to build anything. Instead, it will work on standards and software for internet appliances and the like. The story, "Seems Gateway Isn't the Friend Amiga Fans Thought It Was" has this to say:

"Gateway has dropped plans to build the new machine. Instead, it will focus on creating a user-friendly interface that will link Internet appliances over home networks. 'Amiga will be the Internet-appliance infrastructure company. We don't intend to build anything,' says a source close to the company. Gateway declines to comment."

As if that isn't depressing enough, the author (Steven V. Brull) adds later:

"Amiga has dropped plans to engage in manufacturing and appears to have broadened its ambitions by moving into the home-networking territory targeted by behemoths such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Sony. 'There won't be a whole lot that relates to the Amiga name,' says one insider."

At the time Jim Collas was forced out as company President, we wondered if it weren't at least partly over a difference in vision for the future. From the beginning, Gateway has always said they were interested in the Amiga patents for use in the upcoming Internet appliance market. Thoughts of a computer were secondary at best. Jim Collas and some others saw Amiga computers as part of the mix. It now looks like their vision of the future was lost in the internal struggle within Gateway and Amiga.

In fact, the time is ripe for an alternative to Wintel computers. Sun Microsystems understands that but their vision - a low priced empty box which just talks to a server somewhere - won't fly. You'd need to have a Sun server in your home in order to use it there, or tie up the phone lines or cable modem every time you wanted to do anything - play a game, write a note; anything. Sorry, Sun, it's going to die just like the Java Station did, and for the same reasons.

Computer companies may be lost but users are showing the way. Linux isn't growing by chance - it provides the alternative that no one else is. Now if only someone were visionary enough to market an easy to use Linux box, maybe one with some real multimedia capabilities, a lot more people could be brought into the fold ... Unfortunately, Gateway, once a company with some vision and entrepreneurial spirit, now seems to have little of either. It's become a corporate conservative. Such a company will always live and grow, but it will never leave a legacy.

It bothers me that almost no-one is listening to the users, and looking ahead based on what's current, but that's actually a common practice of Information Technology organizations. Gateway is clearly not able to do better than any other run-of-the-mill IT company. The most they're likely to accomplish is to offer Linux in the common form.

Speaking of patents, which we did a moment ago, it's been a buzz in the Amiga community for some time now that Gateway has filed for a whole series of new patents apparently deriving from their Amiga activities. These patents are without a doubt Intel oriented. Remember Gateway's talk about "no X86 solutions!"? Sounds like another change of mind and not one that helps the Amiga.

So where does that leave us? You certainly shouldn't look to Iwin to save us. Don't look to Phase 5 or QNX either. None of these efforts is likely to be strong enough to do anything meaningful, if they do anything at all. Unless I'm misreading what has happened at Gateway very badly (oh, how I hope I am!) there is no more future for the Amiga. The only conceivable "out" now would be if Amiga licensed the building of computers by others, while retaining control of the operating system (or environment), something they've talked about doing in the past. There are no current indications they'll be taking this approach.

Assuming the worst is true, the community will hang on for a while, and "Amiga Update" will be here to report it. We don't have to turn a profit, so we can stay with this as long as it's appropriate. The community will dwindle away, probably becoming ever more lunatic fringe as it dies. Already, it's too small to support many of the companies that have been with us for a long time. Look at how many have left to date. Stand by for more defections. As ad expenses for Amiga products can no longer be covered by product sales, the ads will end and the publications that carry them will follow. This is already the trend, and without an AmigaNG, it'll pick up steam rather than reversing.

We've noticed hate posts and calls for Gateway boycotts already flying thick and fast in the Amiga newsgroups. This isn't likely to have much affect on Gateway's decisions of course, though it will make some people feel a bit better. The hate posts and the foul language don't reflect at all well on the community and should stop now!

The Amiga community certainly isn't strong enough to make a meaningful boycott that would hurt Gateway. However, Gateway may in fact have made a tactical blunder, though it's affects will be relatively mild. There seems to be a disproportionate amount of Amigans who work in corporate IT organizations. They can't buy Amigas for their companies of course, but they can influence whose PCs are bought. Gateway will have a hard sell in the future in places which will likely surprise it, if the sales force ever even knows why some doors are now closed to it. I doubt it'll hurt them badly, but if there truly will be no AmigaNG, people won't forget why. Gateway would have done much better to have said nothing about computers. They did say things about computers, and many (I for one) will never forgive them if things truly are as bad as they look right now.

We trust you'll find this issue interesting.

Brad Webb, Editor

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


                      October 9 *                       October 20
                      November 13 *                     November 17
                      December 11 *                     December 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