Main Line Computer Users Group - Aug 2000 Issue 218


MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - AUG 12 th

More Time to Upgrade???


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.

Last month, we talked about upgrading, this month we want to really dig in. After a discussion at the last Steering Meeting, we decided to provide some extra capability for various demos on the club machine. To begin to get that capability, we want to add a "second" hard drive - which will actually become the "first" hard drive after it is installed AND working. We have obtained a 10 GB which we will install at the meeting - MURPHY willing. If OK, we'll start the setup for partitioning.



July's meeting was held in picture perfect weather. Morning temperatures started in the low 60's under sunny skies. I think because of this, a couple of our normally attending members decided to skip the monthly meeting and take the day off.

Our July agenda was totally re-arranged when Bill Bacon's new hard drive showed signs of an early demise. Instead of the installation of Linux for his A3000 PPC, we took a look at various implementations and a couple permutations of the ICQ concept. Details can be found in the meeting summary below.

So, for August we will attempt to re-schedule the Linux PPC installation on


SOFTWARE HUT - had its second annual cookout and product show on Saturday, July 29th - at their store & warehouse in West Chester PA. Amiga SIG leader, John Deker, and members, Bill Bacon and Charles Curran, got to the event.

It was a good opportunity to get updated on the Amiga marketplace, pick up hardware and software, enjoy the (free) food and mingle with more than 4-5 Amigans at one time!! John et al reported that Software Hut seems to be OK financially; so this singular, major, supplier to the Amiga community is apparently going to be able to do so at least for the near future. Some good news - for a change!


There are those times when we all get visited by nostalgia. So it is I believe the reason why the moderator of an internet list serv for newsletter editors passed on this history. While it does not do justice to the early (read that PET) days of the Commodore phenomenon, when some of us got our start, it should still bring back more than a few memories! Hope you will enjoy the story as it unfolds (and maybe check your recollections to see if the history got it right!!!):

Date: 02-Feb-00 02:43 EST
Subj: Re: History of C=

I cannot take credit for the following. I found this at the website. It compresses the entire history of Commodore into a digest form, and though it's slightly outdated (CMD does not publish Commodore World anymore, and Gateway is not going to bring out a new Amiga), the article is still very useful and enlightening. Enjoy, Robert Bernardo Fresno Commodore User Group ----

What is a Commodore Computer?

"A Look at the Incredible History and Legacy of the Commodore Home Computers"

Copyright 1999 (May be used without modification for non-commercial purposes)

Reid C. Swenson, M.S.

There are many individuals who have probably never heard of the Commodore home computers and are unaware of their incredible legacy and the tremendous impact which they have had upon the evolution of computers. Some of the younger generation who are too young to remember the 1980's may still not have seen or heard much -- if anything -- about Commodore computers and likely have very little sense of their significance. Likewise, many of the middle aged and older generation who did not develop an interest in computers until recently may be equally uninformed. However, most individuals who were involved in the home computer and electronics fields during the 1980's are probably somewhat familiar or quite familiar with the Commodore products and their history.

The Commodore 64

Commodore's most popular model, the Commodore 64, was the Model T Ford of the home computer movement. As you may recall, the Model T Ford was the first automobile that the average person on an average income was able to afford or justify buying because of its low price, extensive consumer-oriented marketing, and usability.

The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit computer that uses Commodore DOS instead of MS-DOS or Windows. In fact, for the most part, it cannot run IBM or Macintosh computer programs. The Commodore 64 has BASIC 2.0 and 64k of memory, although when you turn the computer on it indicates only 38,911 bytes available, because nearly half of its memory is used for internal functions. The Commodore 64 was actually part of the evolution of computers marketed by CBM (Commodore Business Machines), which had previously proliferated the CBM and PET business computers into business and academic settings and who had then subsequently developed the VIC-20 computer which was the predecessor to the Commodore 64.

The Commodore VIC-20

The Vic-20 (named after its revolutionary Video Interface Chip) had captured the imagination of many enthusiasts around 1981 because of its very user- friendly BASIC language, nice color graphics, programmable sound, comfortable keyboard, and the fact that it could directly connect to compatible disk drives and printers without expensive expansion modules and interfaces. The Vic-20 had been affordably marketed for around $400 when it first came out and it quickly caught the imagination of many consumers

[Part II - next time]


WELCOME! - to our newest member, Roy Stahlman of Bryn Mawr. Roy is a PC user, in the learning stage. We hope his joining will be mutually beneficial!

LOADSTAR - the folks down in Shreveport have decided that they can continue to produce Loadstar 64 thru the end of 2001 - adding another year of life to the longest running disk magazine supporting ANY computer platform. They will now take subscription orders for issues 200-211, previously they would not take orders past issue #199 - December 2000. Another bit of good news from the fading Commodore front!!

They are also offering a two-tiered price structure. If you can accept your issues via email, the price is lower ($48 vs. $84 for 12 issues).

And, they have their colleague, Dave Moorman, who will continue to produce the special edition for PC emulators - eLOADSTAR. I reckon we'll have some future meeting demos of this beasty. Any members who get eLoadstar are urged to flag especially interesting items for show at future meetings. If interested, you can get more info at:

BTW, have any MLCUG members been getting the eLoadstar issues? If you have, let us HEAR from YOU!

LOADSTAR - PART 2 - at the last meeting, we mentioned that the Loadstar folks - actually their formal side - J&F Publishing - has started another venture which they call "Short Order Press". SOP is, and will, publish short run books at very low cost. They are starting with old and out-of-print titles that interest them specially (and which are in the public domain; so they are free to reprint them). Also, contemporary titles that they have the rights to are on the docket. We hope to have a sample of each of these types at the next meeting.

If you are a budding author - and want to get published quickly and at low cost, this may just be what you are looking for! You can get much more detail at their website:


Article I: You do not have the right to a new car, big-screen TV, the biggest and fastest new computer, or any other form of wealth. This government is not in the business of guaranteeing these luxuries.


One-Minute Life Saver

Prepare for possible PC catastrophes by regularly copying the following files to a second hard drive, removable hard disk or diskette - especially if you frequently install and uninstall applications. From your root directory (you may find only some of these), back up AUTOEXEC.BAT, AUTOEXEC.DOS, CONFIG.SYS, CONFIG.DOS and MSDOS.SYS. From your Windows folder, back up CONTROL.INI, SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI, as well as the SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT Registry files (SYSTEM.DAT probably won't fit on a floppy disk).

[Anyone willing to do a batch file to make this an easy job, folks???]


At several recent meetings, we have mentioned the (PC) Power Tools column, by Karen Kenworthy, published by These weekly columns - which are available by free email subscription - or from the webpage: - provide useful utilities for the average computer user. But, they also provide some nice training for budding programmers!

For each of the "tools", you can download the final working version - AS WELL AS the source code! The source code is in Microsoft Visual Basic 6 (and you have to have the Visual Basic runtime module - vbrun600.dll - installed for the tools to work) for you to study and "improve"!

Last month, we took a quicky look at her "Cookie Viewer" program - which makes for a handy desktop icon. Having it handy - and therefore used often - gives you a much better picture of the ebb and flow of cookies on your web contacting machine...

Oh yes, Karen is open to suggestions for improving the tools (and probably for creating new ones - check the website and/or email her).

We can look at another tool next meeting. If any of you have tried them and like something - how about showing us at a future meeting? HINT??

@ 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    @
@ - 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?????      @
@                                     @
@         NO item this time!          @
@                                     @

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 - he has most of the stuff and the prices are VERY reasonable!!!


Again we started the July meeting with our hour+ of round-the-table announcements, followed by Q&A (i.e. problems being solved???)! As in recent meetings, folks got very much involved in the discussions - we hope all attendees will feel more comfortable about passing on tips and info, or seeking help with their problems.

Then we began our trek down hardware lane with a PC brought in by member, Al Kase. Al and a couple of other members began their acquaintance of the clone world with the first $499 computer - the Powerspec 1660-type PC purchased from MicroCenter a couple of years ago. One way of keeping that cost low was to reduce expandability and flexibility of the hardware. So, Al is interested in learning what he still might be able to do - beyond adding memory chips, which he has already done.

For the rest of us, it was a chance to look inside one of the machines that got the el cheapo PC off to a running start. Once opened, we learned that things were pretty crowded (so, what's new?) inside. We also noted the 2-part motherboard arrangement that made things compact, but harder to get at and work with. Al will be mulling over what he might like to do - with a new hard drive being at the top of the list. It may be an opportunity for a meeting demo. See the August meeting notice - for more on the hardware front.


We have available for meeting demos, the newest version of the WinVICE emulator, v1.4. No demos were done at the July meeting. Hopefully, tho we'll see more in future.

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

Trouble with Windows Errors?

Here's help in deciphering those cryptic messages:

WinErr: 003 Dynamic linking error - Your mistake is now in every file.

WinErr: 004 Erroneous error - Nothing is wrong.

Comments on CD Burners/ing

The following short exchange came off the MLMUG listserv and was aimed at Mac users, but there are some cogent comments from an expert that you may find useful:

Begin quote
In a message dated 4/22/00 1:29:29 PM, writes:

<< I want to buy a CD writer in the very near future. So, the question is, should I buy a SCSI or USB CD writer? My sense is that SCSI is preferable.

In addition, what are the recommended machines at the moment? I recall reading recommendations for a Yamaha machine in an APS shell. Is this still the recommendation?

Finally, I get the sense that rewritable is not particularly valuable, since my use will be to make CDs out of vinyl and so forth. I am not sure I see a need to rewrite much.

Thanks for the help, as usual. Michael B. Luskin >>

Bill Achuff replies:

I didn't snip your message but I will address the CD burner issue. For the sake of newcomers to the technology I will expand my answer somewhat.

CD burner: Given your stated interests and equipment I suggest that you go with a SCSI Yahama CD burner. I think Yahama makes the best burners and APS makes great cases, but there ARE other alternatives and other considerations, e.g., bundled software, warranty, price, etc. You may not need RW (rewrite) capability, now; but you might want it in the future. I think you'd be better served with a 8x32x, vs. a 4x2x24x. [The first number is the unit's R (write once) speed, the second is the RW speed, and the last number is the read speed].

There are 12X CD-R burners on the market, but they're not USB. There's NOT much 12X R certified media available, however. But the USB burners are not sufficiently reliable at 4X, I've found; 1X or 2X they can handle. I do NOT recommend ANY USB burner by ANY manufacturer for burning at speeds above 4X. If you are burning, mostly, audio CDs ('peers you are), then you want to burn at 1X or 2X REGARDLESS of how fast you COULD burn. That's what works but I can't tell you WHY; I've heard too many opinions as to why. You don't want or need RW for audio either, unless you plan to play the RW audio CDs in an RW unit; they WON'T play in a CD Walkman, your car CD player, or your home stereo.

I hope I am not confusing you--just remember the basics. (1) SCSI and FireWire (which is expensive right now) are faster and more reliable than USB at speeds over 2X. FACT! (2) Audio CDs should be burned at 1X or 2X on R CDs. MORE VERSATILE USE. (3) A burner ties up your computer until the burn is completed; you cannot burn a CD in the background. FASTER BURNS OF DATA ARE DESIRABLE. If you burn "one offs" (one copy only), you'll want to verify the burn, so the faster the read speed (the last number) the better. [The burner will read back the burned CD against the original data. (4) The burner MECHANISM has nothing to do with which BUS you use, USB, SCSI, or FireWire. (5) Buy a NEW CD burner, not used. I find, despite what the manufacturers say, burners tend to fail after 300 burns. End quote

If any member has done a lot of burning and would like to comment on Bill's advice, please feedback to us.


by John Deker

July's meeting was held in picture perfect weather. Morning temperatures started in the low 60's under sunny skies. I think because of this, a couple of our normally attending members decided to skip the monthly meeting and take the day off.

Our July agenda was totally re-arranged when Bill Bacon's new hard drive showed signs of an early demise. Instead of the installation of Linux for his A3000 PPC, we took a look at various implementations and a couple permutations of the ICQ concept. Details can be found in the meeting summary below.

So, for August we will attempt to re-schedule the Linux PPC installation on Bill's A3000. This will be our second installation of Linux in about 4 months. It will be interesting to observe if there are any significant differences between the PPC installation and the M68K installation process.


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 May 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. 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 personal conflict. Thank you.


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

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Though presented at the end of the meeting, I thought I'd mention up front that we viewed a very small portion of the Bounce Back Video from the April gathering in St. Louis. We watched just enough to see the Dick Van Dyke cameo which starts about 5 minutes into the video. Mr. Van Dyke's brief cameo provides the only graphic spark in what is an otherwise graphically dull video. It is best just to listen to the Bounce Back Video and treat it as an audio tape. As such the tape is a brief history of the newly formed Amiga Inc., and it provides some insight to the future direction of Amiga Inc.


As mentioned in the introduction, the meeting focus was on ICQ-like software for the Amiga. ICQ-like software enables online users to seek out and find other users who are currently online for the purpose of "chatting", gaming, and the exchange of software if desired. What follows is a description of the various ICQ-like software packages available for the Amiga, including the Mac 68k software which runs on the ShapeShifter Mac emulator.


The software can be found at:

The supporting Web site can be found at:

AmiComSys is an AMarquee client program which you use to communicate with other Amigans on the Internet. It makes it easier to find people's IP-addresses, for use with Internet gaming and homepages, etc. With AmiComSys you can say "Hi!" to your Amiga buddies on the net, or just see if they are connected, or even find new friends?

With it you can:


The software can be found at:

This is a simple port of micq 0.4.0 for Amiga. This program was designed as a text mode unix ICQ since the only ICQ client that will run on a unix box is the java version which is slow and resource intensive. Micq is an ICQ client for text mode unix that is not in any way supported by Mirabilis. Mirabilis has been slow (at best) in releasing a unix port. The code is designed to be portable and has been ported to various flavors of Un*x, Amiga, OS/2, MiNT, Win32, Acron and probably others.


The main program, support files, and update can be found at:

The supporting Web site can be found at:

Feature Highlights:


Features, instructions, and software for the Mac 68k ICQ can be found at:

This Web page indicates that the Mac 68k version is time-limited beta software.


The software mentioned below is either required by the software above or enhances the use of the above software.

KCON -- an MICQ and general Amiga shell enhancement. This software can be found on most if not all Aminet sites including:

KingCON is a console-handler that optionally replaces the standard 'CON:' and 'RAW:' devices. It is 100% compatible and adds some VERY useful features such as..

MUI (Magical User Interface) -- required by AmiComSys and StrICQ. This software can be found on most if not all Aminet sites including:

MUI is an object oriented system to create and maintain graphical user interfaces. From a programmers point of view, using MUI saves a lot of time and makes life much easier. Programming complicated concepts like window resizing or font sensitivity is simply not necessary.

On the other hand, users of MUI based applications have the ability to customize nearly every pixel of a programs interface according to their personal taste.

OPENURL -- enhances AmiComSys and many other Internet related programs. OpenURL can be found on most if not all Aminet sites including:

OpenURL requires MUI to run the preference program.

The OpenURL library was created to make it easier for application programmers to include clickable URLs in their applications, about windows, etc. Current solutions to this problem typically are to launch an ARexx script or just support a few Web browsers, with no room for configuration. This leads to countless reinventions of the wheel.

This library solves the problem by giving application programmers a very simple API to handle (one function) and the user gets configurability with the included preference program.

SCREENSHELL -- enhances MICQ with ANSI color support. ScreenShell can be found on most if not all Aminet sites including:

Screen Shell v1.20 opens on a custom screen with customized palettes for 2, 4, and 8 colors and with no window borders. It scrolls very fast, and supports any type of screen in the system database including graphic cards. It adapts to any fixed type font size. As a pure executable it can be made resident. ScreenShell is fully compatible with KingCon 1.2.

SHAPESHIFTER -- this emulator for the Amiga enables the use of Mac 68k ICQ software from Mirabilis. Obviously it requires a Mac 68k OS with Internet capability. ShapeShifter can be found at:


Last month I listed files from OS3.5 that the OS3.5 wary Amigan can install in OS3.1. I again provide that list of software plus one more file, and that is the MOUNT command. NOTE: A fair number of the files come from the free 3.6MB Boing Bag 1 download at:

------------------  -----  --------
CPU                 44.3   BB1
DiskCopy            44.5   BB1
FastFileSystem      45.1   OS3.5 CD
Info                39.18  Aminet
List                43.2   BB1
Mount               44.6   OS3.5 CD
ShowConfig          44.7   BB1

These files offer improved hardware support for newer CPU's, bigger hard drives and partitions, better identification of expansion boards and devices, and fix a bug or two.


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).

[The 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 - ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------- 64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings 2000 Steering Committee Meetings

August 12 August 16 September 9 September 20 October 14 October 18 * = 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: PUBLICITY: Robyn Josephs 610-565-4058 DISK ORDERS: Charlie Curran 610-446-5239 VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy


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