Main Line computer Users Group - Apr 2000 Issue 215

**** APRIL 2000 ********************************** ISSUE #215 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - APR 8 th

Daylight Saving Time Is In !!


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

As in recent meetings, following the announcements, we'll take the time for folks to share experiences, problems and get questions answered. The routine of taking turns round the table with info sharing, then problem solving has generated a lot of interaction. We'll do it again; so bring those tidbits that you think other members will appreciate - and your problems, as well defined as you can make them!

For the program, John Murphy will be back, with part 2 of emulators. This time, he'll concentrate on how to get your Commodore programs from your C= media to a PC; so you can run the software and use the data files. Have a favorite? Let's see if we can run it.

[continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - John's Place

REMINDER

We will no longer meet regularly at Villanova University. Instead we will continue to meet at 2210 Lantern Lane in Lafayette Hill. We will also be trying to start our meetings a half hour earlier at 9:00AM instead of 9:30AM. So, please note the change of starting time.

Our March meeting was a small group indeed, and we were able to cover a lot of ground. Though I had hinted at the possibility of covering a Unix OS variant running on Amiga hardware from the month before, that was not to be. Instead we covered a wide range of utilities and associated subjects.

[continued]


MLCUG'S BBS SYSTEM

Your Main Line Computer Users Group still runs one of the few remaining BBS's (Bulletin Board System). Many clubs have closed theirs down - some have gone to the web, others have just closed. Many of us find the BBS to be a unique and valuable resource; so we expect to maintain it as long as we have a dedicated sysop to do the dogwork (such as our faithful sysop). To encourage ALL our members to use it, I have prepared a series of handouts on key aspects of using the system - the first on establishing a new user's account. It will be available at the meeting - come and get one!

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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WE'RE LOSING ONE - Ted Dean has been an MLCUG member for quite a few years now. He got his start, as I recall, by getting a C-128 plus accessories, for a disgustingly small amount of $$$ when it was being excessed at the school where he taught. He joined MLCUG not long after.

As Ted gained experience, he got interested in much more compute intensive tasks. Along that way, he acquired an Amiga (or two) and became an ardent student - and problem provider - to our Amiga SIG leader, John Deker. In the last couple of years, Ted added a PC to his armory and become a real multi- platformite like many of us.

In the last month, Ted moved to Arizona and will make it his new home. We will miss his humor, friendliness and the occasional free lunch! Good luck, Ted!

BTW - the March 9th issue of the Main Line Times, on p.9, had a feature article on Ted's early career with the Philadelphia Eagles, including his role in their NFL championship win in 1960.

Tired of the banners? - if you are a watcher of the world wide wait (aka the web), you may be getting more than a bit tired of flashing banners, pop-up ads, pop-out ad windows (that all conveniently load to your screen first; so you can watch them while the part of the pages you REALLY want sloooooowly loads afterwards).

If so, then you might want to give a look at a utility called "AdBlaster" that Parsons Technology recently started selling. It runs in the background when your web browser is running (IE or Netscape) and intercepts much (tho not quite all) of the banners, flashers, winkers, pop-ups, etc. I have been using it and get a definite improvement in the visual aspects of many cluttered webpages.

Check out the next Parsons catalog when it arrives. You GET them, don't you???


Your fortune for today

Mencken and Nathan's Second Law of The Average American:

All the postmasters in small towns read all the postcards.

How about an aid for your faithful editor? In the form of an article for YOUR newsletter? It can be a short or long one - in one or many parts. It can be a tip, review or harangue (polite, of course) on the software, hardware or technology of your interest and choice. You can get it to me by snail mail, on a floppy or zip - by email to emilvccil.org - by email on the MLCUG BBS (in the message body or as an attached file - it can take a file of ANY kind). With that much latitude, I'm sure that every MLCUG member surely has an item of value to pass on to the rest of us. How about it?????

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

FOR SALE: the club has an increasingly large inventory of Commodore stuff - software, computers, disk drives, monitors, printers, etc. We have recently been getting a number of sales via the info posted on the MLCUG web page. But, those sales have just scratched the surface of our inventory!

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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PC/128/64 MEETING
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We started the March meeting with about an hour of round-the-table announcements, followed by Q&A (ie. problem solving, we hope!). This format has provided the opportunity for every attendee to get a word in edgewise! And, we appear to be providing help - the main reason for the club's existence...

Then, we had a (short) Linux moment - which is covered by Pete Whinnery on p.2 of this issue.

For the "meeting program", we turned things over to member John Murphy. John is a computer support person in real life, with emphasis on network operations. One of his hobbies has been learning the early Commodore products - in addition to his early experience with the 64. He has been playing with emulators that run on the PC or the Mac - that allow him to use his old software on his laptop(s); so he can have the old games and stuff when he is on the road and can't have an 8-bit machine with him.

For this meeting, John showed us the freeware C-64 emulator called FRODO. This one has recently been distributed by Loadstar as the base for the eLoadstar sampler disk. And, John showed us that sampler. The emulator and sample eLoadstar issue is available on the MLCUG BBS as the file SAMPLER.EXE, which you can download and try out.

The second demo covered the extremely versatile WinVICE emulator. This freeware item has emulators for the PET (many flavors), VIC, 64 and 128! It is available as a single zipped file which de-archives into the collection of emulators and you can then run the "machine" of your choice.

Because of the lateness of the hour, John could only briefly hint at the capabilities of this versatile software. So, in future sessions, we'll try to cover smaller pieces in more detail.

To make those sessions most valuable, we can use some insight from the members, in two forms: 1) identification of 8-bit software that interests you and that you would like to run on your pC and 2) an experiences that you have while testing the emulator(s) yourself...

NOTE: the emulators are limited in their ability to handle printing and to access modems. Hopefully, the programmers will give these areas more attention in the future. Since the main emphasis for the emulators has been to play Commodore games - neither of these gaps in capability has been considered any significant deficiency! Too bad for us non-gamers!!

And, remember, let us hear from you on this topic. You can contact John or myself directly. Better yet, post a public message on the BBS (you can use either the Commodore or the PC clone message areas and we should catch your feedback). How about it?


WIN TIP OF THE MONTH

MAKE YOUR OWN ICONS

Take any .BMP file, rename it with a .ICO extension, and voila! Instant icon! You access the file in the normal way: Right-click on the current icon for a shortcut, select Properties from the Context menu, select the Shortcut tab and click on the Change Icon button. Now use the Browse button to find your new one.


DOS CAN BE VERY HELPFUL!

by Emil Volcheck

Last month, I touted the virtues of the DOS "diskcopy" command. But, I have to admit that folks are more and more forgetting how to type! So, if you can't just click, you just don't do! (Or at least so it seems to me based on the kinds of questions I get called about).

So, there is a nice way to make it real easy - how about a new copy command, say, VCOPY, for Verified copy of a floppy disk. Or, as you can easily see, the same tip we talked about last time - but MUCH simpler...

You can make up your own DOS "commands" (and much more) via the very friendly DOSKEY utility that is still included in the DOS remnant that comes with Win95 or 98 (not sure about Win 2000, or the still-to-come Win Me, for the rest of us). This handy jobby lets you make macros for tasks like this.

In this case, you'll add two lines to your autoexec.bat file (in the root directory of your C: drive). They are:

C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\DOSKEY DOSKEY VCOPY=diskcopy a: a: /v

When you powerup or reboot, you'll have at your disposal this handy floppy copy command - VCOPY.

We can check this out at the next meeting - just remember to ask me .

If you become enamoured of these macros, you'll not want to clutter up your autoexec file with them. So, next time, I'll talk about a variant that will let you make up all kinds of DOSKEY stuff while keeping your autoexec simple.


SETI HOME - Continuing Saga!

by Emil Volcheck

The SETI folks have again updated their software - version 2.03 (tho I have not installed that one yet - probably won't until I find out what it's merits are). The crowd of folks who have at least started to run SETI has passed the 1.85 million mark; so it will likely hit two (2) million soon! That's an amazing lot of folks doing a mostly thankless task. Guess we are all betting on a really long shot!

Well, as promised last month, I have determined a rough average performance for the four (4) computers I'm using - and also got performance data on Charles Curran's PC - which has processed some 50 SETI data packets by now (so his data are very good - my numbers represent the average performance - to the nearest minute - of ten packets processed). The results are tabulated below - in column-scrunched form. Column 1 shows the computer type. Column 2 gives a combo value of CPU type/clock rate in MHz/RAM in MB/cacheRAM in KB. Column 3 gives the average compute time for a packet in HH:MM format. Here are the results:

PowerMac G3/240/72/1024 13:23 Mod Amer C/300/32/128 19:17 Powerspec W/233/32/512 21:48 Kehtron P/133/48/256 33:34 PowerSpec P/133/64/256 39:08

Where G3 = Motorola G3, C = Celeron 300A, W = Winchip and P = Pentium.

The only anomaly, at least at first glance, is the last one. It seems that it should be faster than the one above it; so it is clear that compute speed has some other factor(s) that are not evident. But, you can get a feel for what your computer might be able to do by comparing to the above systems.

I'd like to see how the new high speed CPU's - preferably both Intel and AMD types - perform. For example, will the new GHz chips do the job in 4 hours, or less???

Anyway, as of this writing, my complement of machines has processed 300 SETI data packets - and moved me to the 96.7% level - amongst the 1.8+ million contributors. The company is getting more & more rarified !

You can check my progress at any time, by logging onto the website (setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu), selecting User Accounts, then Account Status. At the dialogue box, enter: mtcubaudel.edu. When you press return, you'll see my stats!!!

If you would like to learn more, ask at the next meeting. Or just download the software and GO!

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

Our March meeting was a small group indeed, and we were able to cover a lot of ground. Though I had hinted at the possibility of covering a Unix OS variant running on Amiga hardware from the month before, that was not to be. Instead we covered a wide range of utilities and associated subjects.

Like March, we do not have a firm agenda for our April meeting. There's the possibility we will focus on installing a Unix variant like BSD or Linux on an Amiga hardware platform, but I would classify that as remote probability. It all depends how much time I have before the meeting to prepare. Otherwise, we will likely fall into a question and answer mode of Amiga concerns and issues with some small demos included.

THE FUTURE OF OUR AMIGA SIG MEETINGS

We will no longer meet regularly at Villanova University. Instead we will continue to meet at 2210 Lantern Lane in Lafayette Hill. We will also be trying to start our meetings a half hour earlier at 9:00AM instead of 9:30AM. So, please note the change of starting time.

MEETING REVIEW...

IC-R75 COMMUNICATIONS RADIO RECEIVER

As a lead-in to our meeting, and to demonstrate a new toy, I had a brand new ICOM R75 shortwave communications receiver setup along with my old Commodore C64 with RTTY (Radio Teletype) & CW (Morse Code) decoder cartridge.

What was really on display was an old and new computer. The C64 was obviously the old computer, but a still very useful one in a niche application. However, it should be noted that a modern PC with appropriate software can do exactly what the C64 was doing with custom hardware.

The new computer on display was the ICOM receiver, half receiver and half embedded computer. The "receiver" boasts an RS232 port, 101 non-volatile memory slots, DSP (Digital Signal Processing like a sound card), a ROM, non-volatile memory for configuration storage, and a keyboard interface. Does this sound like a receiver or computer?

APDF

APDF was demonstrated as the newest Amiga PDF reader. I had been using APDF to view and print the shortwave receiver review articles from the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) Web site. APDF can be found as freeware on Aminet, but for maximum functionality it is best to download the version that supports encryption from:

http://berlin.all.de/~termi/ftp/apdf060.lzx

This shows the URL of the 68060 support file. There are also other versions for different processors at the same site.

Speaking of processors, this is one application where the more computing horsepower you have, the better the performance of APDF. My 68060 was just tolerable. A PowerPC would have been very welcome.

Hardcopy printouts from APDF using TURBOPRINT V7 postscript support were of very nice quality.

HTTX

Since my recent re-acquaintance with amateur radio and shortwave listening, I've been using HTTX to convert Web page HTML text to something I could easily post on our BBS. HTTX is available on Aminet or as a utility that is included with the commercial AWEB browser.

HTTX has configuration options for handling HTML horizontal rule lines, ordered & un-ordered HTML lists, embedded graphics, Web page titles & URL data, and overall line length.

HTTX is one of the best little utilities for converting HTML code to a nicely formatted ASCII or ANSI text file.

TFC

I know I've mentioned TFC (Text File Converter) in the past, but here I go again. TFC is old (1987) command line driven software for changing the EOL (End-Of-Line) delimiters within a text file. In addition TFC will convert old Commodore C64 PETASCII to ASCII and remove unprintable characters. You should be able to find TFC on the club BBS.

I use TFC to make text files, like those created by HTTX, ready for text transfer uploads to the club BBS using TERM, an Amiga terminal program.

WWW.GRC.COM

In last month's newsletter, Emil made note of a Web site for checking how secure your computer is from prying eyes when you're on the Internet. I had made the effort to visit the Web site (http://www.grc.com/) since my computers are setup as service providers on my LAN, and are therefore potentially more vulnerable to attack when I'm on the Internet.

If you decide to visit the site, you'll need a browser that can support the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocol. I was successful using the Amiga Voyager 3.x browser.

My Amigas were not stealthy, but were generally secure except for the Genesis-AmiTCP open IDENT service on port 113. This was easily corrected. Users of Genesis may want to make a special effort to check their:

AmiTCP:db/inet.access

file and read the included:

AmiTCP:Docs/database.html

documentation.

On the other hand, a check of my PC showed it to be bleeding information like a sieve traps water. I've since installed the GRC site recommended ZONEALARM software. I found it easier going this route on my PC since Microsoft doesn't provide adequate documentation with WIN95 on how to secure their network stack and protocols when sharing multiple services. The GRC site documentation was confusing and short on examples for the WIN95 Network Control Panel.

NTPSYNC

From the Internet security issues, we jumped into the subject of how best to keep your computer clock on time. The best Network Time Protocol for this is NTP. NTPSYNC is the only available software on the Amiga to support this protocol, and NTPSYNC can be retrieved from Aminet as NTPSYNC22.LHA.

For more information on the 3 different networking time protocols, visit the government Web site at:

http://www.bldrdoc.gov/timefreq/service/nts.htm

You can also find more general information about Time at:

http://www.boulder.nist.gov/timefreq/index.html

GRABURL

The last of the utilities presented during the March meeting was GRABURL. This utility can be found on Aminet as GRABURL.LHA.

Have you ever visited a Web site only to wish that most of Web site's pages and pictures could be retrieved for local reference and browsing. Well then GRABURL is one of several Amiga utilities that will download the contents of a Web site or several sites to your disk for storage and as a local reference.

GRABURL will recursively grab all linked documents and files. If you're not careful when using the GRABURL command, the software will try to download a big chunk of the Internet to your computer with the obvious result of filling up your hard drive. To avoid this problem, make sure to use the pattern matching command arguments to limit your downloaded Web pages to what you intend and need.

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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 ROOM

Meetings are in the St. Augustine Center at Villanova University. The 8-bit and PC sessions will be in Room 110 (Amigans at John Deker's house).

[Map goes here]

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/


64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  2000  Steering Committee Meetings

                      April 8                           April 19
                      May 13                            May 17
                      June 10                           June 21
     * = first 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/
           PUBLICITY: Robyn Josephs 610-565-4058
         DISK ORDERS: Charlie Curran 610-446-5239
   VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy

MLCUG STEERING COMMITTEE:

PRESIDENT: Emil Volcheck 610-388-1581 SECRETARY: Charles Curran 610- 446-5239 TREAS./MEMBERS:Dewitt Stewart 610-623-5145 SYSOP/AMIGA SIG: John Deker 610- 828-7897 INTERNET/Linux:Peter Whinnery 610-284-5234 DATABASE: Layton Fireng 610- 688-2080 AT LARGE: Tom Johnson 610-525-3440 AT LARGE: John Murphy 610- 935-4398