Main Line Computer Users Group - July 2000 Issue 218

**** JULY 2000 *********************************** ISSUE #218 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JUL 8 th

Time to Upgrade???


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

As has been our recent custom, we will start with a round-the-table for news/info items, then a second round for problems that do NOT relate to upgrading of your system.

Next, we will turn things over to our Linux guru, Pete Whinnery. Pete has been unable to make recent meetings, but he'll be here this time to go over the new Corel Linux cum Word Perfect combo - a new industry trend?

And finally, we'll tackle the question of upgrading vs. buying new. It is a perennial question that has no universal answer. However, with all the new stuff out there, the options are numerous. Here's a chance to jog your thinking.

[continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - John's Place

Though our June agenda was virtually non-existent, we were able to come up with a few subjects for discussion. I refer you to the meeting summary details below to learn more.

For July we do have a couple of specifics. First Bill Bacon would like to get the Power PC version of Linux installed on his A3000. So, we will be doing our second installation of Linux in about 3 months. It will be interesting to observe if there are any significant differences between the PPC installation and the M68K installation process. Second, we have the Amiga Y2K Bounce Back Video for viewing. This video is about an hour long and features a cameo appearance by Dick Van Dyke, a 7 year

[continued]


NOSTALGIA KICK?

This last month brought a couple of instances of nostalgia material. For the one, see the item later in this issue on "museum". For the other, Charles Curran was in a Stp and Save software store and came across a copy of the spreadsheet "SwiftCalc PC" - for a mere $3! Some of us are still using the predecessor - SwiftCalc 128 (or even SwiftCalc 64??) by TimeWorks. These folks stopped developing the C= software and moved on to the burgeoning PC field; so it was interesting to see what they had wrought. Unfortunately, they did NOT provide for converting the C= files - darn!!! We'll have it in July.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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The following is a news item that I thought would be of interest to our members:

MATTEL Interactive announced that it would no longer be using its "Brodcast" utility that has been included in many of their popular children's software. These are programs like "Reader Rabbit", "Arthur" and "Little Bear".

Brodcast runs in the background and transmit information, when the user goes online, about what that user of their program is doing or has done. This has all been done without the knowledge of any purchaser or user of their programs, and without any public notice that they were using such a "marketing" tool.

They did not discontinue the use out of conscience - but for fear that they will violate a recent Federal law that prohibits gathering information from children 13 and under without the express permission of parents. Obviously, the target audience for the software involved is smack within the Federal prohibition!

This is a very clear example of the kinds of intrusions on privacy that are becoming more and more common with any use of the internet.

Hopefully, tools will be made available to computer users that will let them know when background applications are doing just this sort of thing. If any member is aware of some such utility, we would appreciate hearing about it.

In lieu of such an aid, our club is a good forum for folks to pass on info about systems like the Mattel Brodcast.

At our July meeting, perhaps we can chew this one over a bit - plus any other internet privacy/security issues???

DEAR ABBY - is NOT the place that you expect to get deep insight into the computer world, right? But, the April 1st (no fooling!) column commented on the ephemeral nature of color documents. Both color printing - on your home computer - and color prints from your film camera have limited lifetimes.

Much of the color printing we all do is particularly limited and inferior to photographic prints. So, if you have color images that you really want or need to preserve, it will take careful measures on your part to make that happen!

Color images - stored as computer files - have POTENTIALLY infinite lifetime. But, between here and infinity is a big gap. To take advantage of the potential in computer images, you need to KEEP in place: 1) the files on a durable medium, 2) hardware that can access that file, 3) software that can control the drive and 4) software that can convert the image file to a viewable document. With all these elements needing to be maintained, computer images may be just the opposite of infinite - namely, ephemeral!!! Think about it!


WIN TIP OF THE MONTH

WinTip (for Win9x): Find Missing Windows

Has a folder or program window mysteriously moved off your screen? It can happen for several reasons - the most common is that you've recently changed your video resolution. Right-click on the taskbar, select either the Cascade Windows or Tile Windows (Horizontally or Vertically) option, and the window will magically appear (you may need to resize your windows).


THE 6502 MUSEUM

This last month, we learned that Prof. Maloney - our VU sponsor - is planning a display of devices that represent some of the early days of personal computing. We do not have details yet; but we do know that it is based primarily on the 6502 CPU - that powered early single board computers, as well as the Apple, Atari and Commodore personal computers.

Frank told me that he has got his hands on a KIM, a SYM, an OSI and will be getting an AIM-65. This could be real interesting; so we'll keep folks posted as the idea develops.

If you have any early stuff hanging around, you may be able to help Frank in the endeavour. So, you might want to inventory such devices in your home for a possible future home in his!

#@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ 
@ 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    @ 
@ emilv@ccil.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?????      @ 
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ 

Help for You

[submitted by Marty Caulfield]

I saw the following article in the June 11, 2000 issue of the Sunday Inquirer in the Financial Section. It was written by Reid Goldsborough and I thought perhaps it might be worth including in the Newsletter.

"Learn more about the Web by searching these Web Sites"

We Live in the Age of Information, with knowledge exploding exponentially.

You need information to gain knowledge, and knowledge to gain wisdom. In practical terms, as the noted economist Peter F. Drucker has written, knowledge, more than technology, is key in giving individuals and companies a competive edge.

If you're like me, though, your head often spins from the thought of how much you don't know. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. As the English statesman Benjamin Disraeli said 150 years ago: "To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge."

Information technology, particularly the Internet, can help you gain knowledge. But first, you need to know how to use it. And even if you know the basics, if you're not using the Internet to its full potential, you're likely missing out.

One of the things the Net has always done exceedingly well is help you learn about itself. The following is a roundup of some of the best Web sites today aimed at teaching you the ins and outs of Internet technology.

Unless indicated otherwise, all are free.

CNET Help.com, at: www.help.com, is a huge repository of well-organized tips and tutorials about not only the Internet, but hardware, software, games and consumer electronics. You can browse the categories or do a search. Business and consumer topics, beginning as well as advanced, are covered. The site is unequaled in quantity and quality of information provided.

The site also includes relevant discussion from Usenet newsgroups, and lets you post your own questions right from the site. If you're not satisfied with the answers, you can peruse a topic specific list of free and paid tech-support services.

Webmonkey, at: hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/guides, isn't extensive in scope, but it won't be overwhelming for beginners.

It links technical terms to a glossary and walks you through specific procedures, such as using the Net to plan a trip, buy a car or home, find a job, and manage your money.

Learn the Net, at: www.learnthenet.com/english, includes a wealth of basis information about business topics such as e-commerce, along with more general topics such as e-mail, Web surfing and multimedia. The site provides versions in Spanish, French, Italian, and Dutch as well as English.

Yahoo How-To:A Tutorial for Web Surfers, at: howto.yahoo.com, does a good job of covering the basics with easy-to-follow instructions.

Unfortunately, when explaining a subject such as chat services, Yahoo How-To often lists Yahoo's own offerings first or even exclusively, which detracts from the site's objectivity and usefulness.

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

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 ouinventory!

So, if you are in need of replacements or augmentation, please contact Charles Curran (610-446-5239 or ccurran@icdc.com) - he has most of the stuff and the prices are VERY reasonable!!!

******************************
LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
******************************

We again started the June meeting with an intended hour of round-the-table announcements, followed by Q&A (i.e. problems being solved???)! However, the interest in the discussions was so high that the small group in attendance sort of forgot the clock. Hopefully, that's a good sign...

So, the planned program - to check out websites of interest to folks - and that might be of interest to others - got pretty truncated. In actuality, during the discussion time, we jumped onto the net quite a few times to deal with questions or check out something that was mentioned. Having the continuous availability of the internet via the VU ethernet link makes it easy - almost "natural" to check something net-wise just at the mention.

For future meetings, we hope that attendees will call especially interesting - or useful websites to our attention. Should they prove generally worthwhile, we can flag them out here for the members who do not make the meetings. Even at our best attendance levels, we still only get about half the paid up members making either this session or John's parallel Amiga SIG. So, that leaves half or more of the folks who depend primarily on the newsletter (which we hope they read in great detail ) to keep up with items of interest from the meetings.

---------------------------
EMULATION

Following the general discussion at the meeting and prior to checking out some websites, we had a short demo of the WinVICE Commodore emulation software.

Running the C-64 mode emulator - on the club PC - we gave a quick showing of the rather special planetarium program called "SKY TRAVEL". This program was written in the early '80s for the then rather new Commodore 64 with its then industry-leading graphics. Considering all the features of the program, it is still quite amazing what got crammed into 64K of memory - with enough space left over to actually do calculations. The user interface is a bit cumbersome, but the emulator runs the software at a good clip - around twice as fast as a stock 64 (tho only around a fifth the speed of a 64 with the SuperCPU from CMD). Having a disk image of Sky Travel on the hard drive makes for fast loading - a real deficiency of the original and to some extent of the SuperCPU system, which can only speed up disk operations a few X, while speeding up computations by as much as 20X.

Some folks may remember that there are some hidden features in Sky Travel. Mayhap we can take a look in upcoming meetings - what say?

We also ran the emulator in Commodore 128 80-column mode and did a quicky on the spreadsheet program - SWIFTCALC 128. Again the program ran nicely at about twice the speed of a stock C-128. This compares to a SuperCPU 128 with around 10X improvement. The main deficiency here is the fact that printing of your spreadsheets can not be done directly. You have to have the emulated program print to a file - then print that file from some other app. Maybe one of these days, the emulator folks will deal properly with printing!

I am told that another weakness of the emulator(s) is with terminal programs and the (in)ability to use a modem properly. Have not looked at that yet, personally; but hope to in the not-too-distant future...

We'll take some more looks at future meetings.

NOTE: attendees are asked to nominate their favorite Commodore app(s) for a look-see emulation at those meetings. Yawl let us know - right???


"Three things are certain: death, taxes and lost data. Guess which has occurred?"

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

Though our June agenda was virtually non-existent, we were able to come up with a few subjects for discussion. I refer you to the meeting summary details below to learn more.

For July we do have a couple of specifics. First Bill Bacon would like to get the Power PC version of Linux installed on his A3000. So, we will be doing our second installation of Linux in about 3 months. It will be interesting to observe if there are any significant differences between the PPC installation and the M68K installation process. Second, we have the Amiga Y2K Bounce Back Video for viewing. This video is about an hour long and features a cameo appearance by Dick Van Dyke, a 7 year veteran of the Amiga and avid computer user with 2 Amigas and 2 of those "other" computers.

SUMMER AMIGA SIG MEETINGS

As you probably know by now, the Amiga SIG 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.

During our last meeting we discussed our summer schedule. Since the SIG is so small it is important that members keep each other informed of their vacation schedules. I don't want to schedule a meeting that has no attendees. As it is right now, non of the attendees at the last meeting have a vacation conflict with the summer schedule. I ask that members keep the SIG leader informed if there is a change which would cause a conflict. Thank you.

TED DEAN EMAIL

Members wishing to stay in contact with Ted by email can reach him at:

mailto:tc35d29@uswest.net

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MEETING REVIEW...

HELP FOR CASELLA'S VIDEO AMIGA
& BROADCAST TITLER 2

During the week before Memorial Day, I received a call to our computer club for help at Casella's Video in south Philadelphia. They have an Amiga 2000 running OS2.04 which they use maybe a dozen times per year to add titles to wedding videos. They bought their Amiga used several years ago from another Amiga user.

They use a program called BROADCAST TITLER 2 to add the titling. The problem is that they launch this program from floppy because it doesn't run from the hard drive like it should. Casella's had damaged their only floppy and the program would obviously not run. Luckily, the bulk of the floppy was salvageable except for the main program, but there was a copy on their hard drive.

To make the story short, I was able to reconstruct the BT2 floppy. I spent about 3 hours at Casella's Video tuning up their system, installing an old version of DOpus, and removing dead and redundant files from their hard drive. I left them with 2 working copies of BT2 and received a copy in return for the favor.

At our meeting, I did a brief demonstration of this somewhat archaic and no longer available program. Members who desire their own copy of this program should contact me.

OS3.5 MAILING LIST

Interested Amiga users can join the Amiga OS3.5 Support Email List at:

http://www.amiga.com/3.5/support.shtml

In return, you will be in the thick of what is mostly really a bug report mailing list, and receive about 30 emails a day. On occasion you will be rewarded with a work-around for a bug.

A hint of bug fixes for OS3.5 and the bugs in the BOING BAG 1 update was made today by a representative of Haage & Partner. Here is the content of that mailing list message.
____________________

From: "Martin Steigerwald" <m.steigerwald@haage-partner.com>
To: os35list@amiga.com
Subject: AOS35: Boing Bag 2 status report - There is NO release date yet and set-in-stone announcement!
Date: 27 Jun 2000 22:01:34 GMT

Hi!

I want to repeat that there have never been an official announcement for Boing Bag 2. There have not been any promises. We thought we would have been able to release the Boing Bag 2 sooner, but we also had to get out AmigaWriter 2 and ArtEffect 4. And as the latter are more likely to get us earning some money it had a higher priority for this time. H&P employees also have to live from something.

Also this is not yet an official announcement. We are working on what we can release as Boing Bag 2. Quite some work has been done already. Many annoying and even more quite harmless bugs have been removed, for example the nasty Workbench menu freeze when media inserted bug.

There has been quite some work done on the AmigaOS ROM Update by Heinz Wrobel, who did some enhancements on FastFilesystem and there is now also a console.device patched in containing some fixed and faster text output on graphic cards. An update for AmigaMail and ReAction classes will enter the betatest quite soon.

But there still needs some stuff to be done before it all together can be released as something worth being called Boing Bag 2. Please have some more patience and understand that we are not able to put 20 full-time developers behind AmigaOS current to get things done quicker.

--
Unless otherwise stated, my posts represent my personal opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.
____________________

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN OS3.1 & 3.5

Though not covered in detail at the meeting, I believe I did mention that OS3.1 can be enhanced with bits and pieces of OS3.5 and the Boing Bag 1 update without a complete installation. Here are some of the files worth installing. NOTE: A fair number of the files come from the free 3.6MB Boing Bag 1 download at:

http://www.amiga.de/amigaos35/download/boingbag1.lzx

FILES WORTH A GRAB   VER   LOCATION
------------------  -----  --------
CPU                 44.3   BB1
DiskCopy            44.5   BB1
FastFileSystem      45.1   OS3.5 CD
Info                39.18  Aminet
List                43.2   BB1
ShowConfig          44.7   BB1

These files offer improved hardware support for newer CPU's, bigger hard drives and partitions, and better identification of expansion boards and devices. I recommend that you backup your existing files before replacing them with the ones listed above. Do this just in case the newer files don't work on your system. In which case you'll need to restore the originals.

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

July 8 July 19 August 12 August 16 September 9 September 20 * = 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