Main Line Computer Users Group - Feb 2000 Issue 225

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - FEB 10 th

AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN & SHARE


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

Well, the January meeting was not quite the "same old, same old", as we had expected. A very lively discussion on xDSL experiences was both timely and time-using! Commentary elsewhere.

For this month's meeting, we will begin to tackle the subject of backups and protecting your data and time invested in producing same. Immediately below this section, is a starter to get you thinking about the subject.

In the meeting itself, we will try to do a couple of things: 1) get a sense of how much discipline we have and 2) what tools are we using for whatever it is that we do.

Then we can discuss or show-and-tell some of that. I will come with some examples - along the lines of the thoughts in the following article.

So, prior to the meeting, pull your thoughts together on what YOU feel needs to be protected, how important it is to do so and how you are approaching what you want to protect. And, if you feel that you may not be doing enough; then this will be, I hope, a great opportunity to see how you might proceed.

Hope to see ALL OF YOU at the February meeting at VU!!!

[continued]


BACKING UP - WHAT, HOW, WHEN?

INTRO - Getting Started

In the "good old days" of computing - before the advent of WYSIWYG and graphics - the venerable floppy disk was the place for your backups. You only had to decide what to back up and when it was needed; then develop the discipline to do it.

For much of the need where I work - that does not need the glitz of GUI operating systems and graphics applications and data - we can still do that. But, we are clearly becoming far in the minority. Most computer users of today are either: 1) ignoring the need for backups and thus saving themselves the trial and travail of backing up (and not worrying about inevitably paying the piper some day) [cont. on p.3]

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A COMMODORE HISTORY - VII

Many people's lives have been greatly blessed by the advent of the Commodore computers. Many handicapped individuals and shut-ins have had great opportunities open up to them from these computers. Many slow learners and children who may not have taken an interest in learning found that learning can be fun because of the Commodore computers. Many family gatherings, birthdays, Christmases, parties, and other social events have been enriched by the creative fun involved. By being addicted to something as enjoyable and of such a positive nature as this, many have been lured away from (or spent less time and money on) harmful addictions such as drugs and alcohol. Many lifelong and job-related skills such as typing, programming, and word processing were acquired via these computers. Many computer retailers, department stores, manufacturers, and programmers have profited financially from the Commodore computers. Many other businesses, researchers, students, and other ventures have also benefitted either directly or indirectly. Undoubtedly, the social and technological spin-offs from these computers have had a ripple effect which has directly improved the lives and strengthened the economy of our entire nation and other nations.

The ability of people to have wholesome and affordable recreation and a diversion from everyday stresses and pressures undoubtedly has helped the mental health and outlook of many individuals also.

Many of those who have gone on to make huge contributions to the industry began with the Commodore home computers. Many Commodore C-64, 128, and Amiga computers are still used in schools, businesses, production studios, and as control devices. They are still some of the best computers to learn computer fundamentals on. The fact that these Commodore computers have so many built-in functions and capabilities still makes them fun computers to experiment with. Because you can still obtain many hundreds of the original programs for these computers, they are still viable choices-- especially for hobbyists and home educators. The fact that the Commodore 64 can connect directly into a normal television makes it a good choice still for those on a budget.

The fact that users of the Commodore computers did not need to constantly reconfigure, re-install, and uninstall software or worry about viruses and system crashes (as is common with our more modern Windows computers) allowed users to spend the majority of their time actually using the computer rather than spending so much time fighting it.

During the mid to late 1980's, a certain amount of software piracy began to hurt the Commodore software market. Much of this piracy was likely induced by unnecessarily high prices. Fortunately, most people realized that the programs were such a good value for the money that it wasn't too big of a problem. Several software manufacturers developed sophisticated software protection schemes to make it difficult for people to duplicate Commodore software. However, these schemes seemed primarily to hurt the honest users more than the dishonest people some of whom became extremely adept at defeating the protection schemes. Many software manufacturers finally decided to eliminate the software protection or to use off-disk protection schemes so that the legitimate users wouldn't be hurt and inconvenienced. Eventually, many of the software manufacturers began to realize that the best way to discourage software piracy was to make their software more affordable. Undoubtedly, however, the dishonesty and greed of some individuals contributed somewhat to the gradual decline of the Commodore software industry. Some of these individuals never learned that it is not wise to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Some of these hackers probably felt that they were just having harmless fun and felt somewhat challenged by the prospect of trying to outsmart the copy protection schemes.

[To be continued - Part VIII next time]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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2001 UNDERWAY... - the real new millennium is now underway. And MLCUG - the Main Line Computer Users Group - is a go for another year. However, as of this writing, we took a significant downturn in membership. We finished last year with 38 members, but we have only got about 26 renewals!

It is my hope that we can find a way to recruit at least a few more new members. My experience with our club and two other PC user groups convinces me that there are always folks who need help. And there are always a few folks who are willing to help by sharing their knowledge and experience.

Those are the two ingredients of a user group! I know we have some of both, but we can certainly support some increase in meeting attendance at our present facility; so I urge you all to look out for others who would make good additions to the club roster.

I also hope that we can get some useful increase in publicity about the club that may bring new members, too. If you know of a publication that takes free announcements of meetings, etc., please let Robyn Josephs, our PR person, know about it (her contact info is on p.9).

LINUX CD - at the January meeting, we had a number of distribution CDs for the Corel Linux, Second Edition. All were not distributed. So, if you are interested in trying this version of Linux and would like one of the CDs, please give Emil a call (610-388-1581) to reserve a copy for pick up. If, by some chance, we get too many requests, we can make extra copies of this freeware CD.

LUNCH - some of us regularly adjourn after the meeting for lunch at the Villanova diner. However, with all the food planned for this meeting, there'll not be room for more lunch! But, then there's January and beyond!

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TIP OF THE MONTH - for any OS

New Large Hard Drives

I've been through the wringer with my PC lately. I have been getting write errors from my main *NEW* hard drive. It's a Maxtor 20 GB drive. It's also uses Ultra 66 technology.

I have learned a valuable lesson about IDE cables. If I had read the installation instructions, I wouldn't have had the problem.

What happened is that Windows 98 would tell me that the HD had bad clusters and attempted to run Scan Disk. After examining the drive, Scan Disk would attempt to do a surface scan. It got to 67% and stopped running. It also would stop at other times.

I downloaded a utility from Maxtor called Powermax. Powermax told me that the HD was reporting errors when attempting to write. I wrote down the error code and called tech support and was told that the error was 99% a cable problem.

The tech told me to describe my HD's cable to him. I had the old 40 wire IDE ribbon cable. An Ultra 66 device uses an 80 wire Ultra 66 cable.

After changing the cable, things began to settle down. After going through all of this, I looked into the HD's box in the basement and found the installation instructions. In big bold letters it said "Use Only an Ultra 66 cable". Had I read it when I installed it, I'd not had this problem. [Nelson Schrock]

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BACKING UP - from p.1

2) working away at it without a disciplined approach or 3) have it all planned out and satisfying their needs.

Part 1 - The Tools

A couple of considerations are the media available for back up files and the software enablers to do the task. While we are not going to be able to deal in detail with ALL these items, I'd like to have for reference some listings of such items; so folks can be sure they have considered more or less all the options as they try to decide how to proceed.

So, for YOUR INPUT, I have started the two listings below. I'll update them as I think of additions and as I get input from the meeting, or readers of the newsletter when the first print version appears. Give a glimmer and let me hear from you.

1. HARDWARE OPTIONS

Listed by type and approximate storage:

This is a pretty staggering list - and I'm sure I skipped something. Not all of them are common; so they may NOT all be desirable options - especially if you need to do the restore to something other than your own system. Or, since they are all potentially useable to transfer files to others, the more common ones should be considered first as you think thru your needs.

2. SOFTWARE TOOLS

This is a much shorter list - tho the actual number of possibilities may be much, much greater. The shortness is partly due to my own limited experience and knowledge. And I have definitely missed a lot of proprietary options, which you feel should be on the list.

So here goes - the program and some hint of its function(s):

Well, that's my starter. Please feel free to make additions, recommend deletions or corrections - all with your rationale for same. So we can share.

[Part 2 - next time]

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THE BILL OF "NO RIGHTS"

Article VIII: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means you have the right to PURSUE happiness. Make your own happiness. Don't sit there and wait for it to be given to you.

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VIRUS ALERT!!!

Well, January 2001 - the first year of the NEW Millennium - has brought some interesting developments on the virus front. Some affecting your editor personally:

#1 - on January 17th, a new variant of the Melissa Word macro virus was identified. This variant is the first one that has cross platform capability. It propagates thru MAC or PC computers! However, only the PCs will suffer from its mass emailing capability - which it does thru the address book of the MS Outlook email client. New ground being plowed!

#2 - I receive a weekly emailed bulletin from Sky Publishing - the publishers of Sky & Telescope magazine. The late January edition came out initially as an apparently empty document with an attachment (named DMCAHBDM.exe) - which is a virus! The Sky folks have not said exactly how the improper mailing occurred, but it was noted almost immediately by them and they sent out a warning message - plus the correct bulletin. I suspect some recipients got bit. Sky reminded folks that they NEVER send out an attachment and they NEVER send out an executeable file - only plain text. And, they repeated the warning to immediately delete any bulletin that had either of those occurrences...

#3 - the Exton PC club has a "listserv" type communication to members via the "egroups" service - many organizations use this service. In this case, a message, which included a (non-executable) .pdf attachment, went out from the prez in late January. One of the members responded to that message - but the response had an executable virus (named "emanuel.exe") attached. The egroups service promptly relayed that response, INCLUDING the virus, to all the list members!!! The event was promptly noted by the prez who sent out a warning message. In it, he told users that no executables would be kept on their egroups message base and that any attachments sent out would NOT be executable - the primary such attachments would be .pdf files of the club's newsletter.

All of this action in the space of a single week!! Fortunately, I realized that the attachments in each case were out of line and deleted the messages without even reading the main message, let alone trying to run the attachment.

My message to YOU - beware the attachment!!! More and more folks are emailing cute programs to their "friends", especially around holidays. This is great food for the hackers to use to spread their virus wares.

You should make absolutely sure you know the sender and that they have sent something intentionally AND that you virus check it BEFORE you run it!!!!!

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Gem of the Day:

The church is near but the road is icy; the bar is far away but I will walk carefully.

-- Russian Proverb

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ANOTHER WIN TIP OF THE MONTH

More on backup

From a posting on the BBS: "Charlie, you'll recall this afternoon, we booted your PC from the boot disk and found that the IDE ORB disk drive was recognized and accessible from DOS. Gratifying - as it makes the ORB a more useful tool in any backup strategy.

At the time, I wondered to you, if an IDE Zip drive would also do the job. So, I ran a quicky test with positive results! Here's what my drive arrangement normally is:

        A       the floppy
        B       NO DRIVE
        C       >6 GB partition
        D       >8 GB partition
        E       100 MB Zip drive
        F       4x4x24 CD-RW drive
        G       10X DVD-ROM drive
When I boot from a Win98 startup disk, with support for a CD-ROM, this is what the drive lineup shows from the DOS prompt:

        A       the floppy
        B       100 MB Zip drive
        C       >6 GB partition
        D       >8 GB partition
        E       RAMdisk set up by the 
                Win98 boot disk
        F       CD-RW drive
        G       DVD-ROM drive
So, ALL are still there and useable for any need. More grist for backups!

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LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
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January brought out 16 attendees for what was a pretty successful meeting - on two counts. We had an extensive and useful discussion and another John Murphy demo, which his famous kin bypassed!!

The highlite of the discussion was a sharing of personal experiences with xDSL high speed, always-on, internet connections. Several members have had this kind of service. However, like all things these days, there is no unmixed blessing:

The most recent user was Layton Fireng, who is getting his service from Verizon (formerly Bell-Atlantic). In what is evidently a strong effort to cut cost, Verizon (which charges $40 per month for ADSL of around 640 Kbps) sends you a box of parts. It is your responsibility to install filters (to separate the DSL and voice signals), install your ethernet card(s), set up the DSL "modem" and be ready for the turn-on. On a specified date, the service is turned on and you are responsible for connecting and testing the system. I believe that Layton did not see a human being involved in the process! But, on the appointed day his service started and has been working OK - tho only a short time as of the meeting date. He was told by the Verizon folk that if there was a problem to disassemble the hardware, put it back in the box and return it ASAP. There is only a 30-day test period which, if exceeded, results in a significant charge!

Charles Curran is also getting ADSL (around 384 Kbps, I think) thru his ISP - ICDC. However, the ISP contracts with an outfit called COVAD for the DSL service. This meant that there were three parties involved in the install - Verizon to put in the phone line connection, COVAD to provide the DSL modem stuff and hookup and ICDC to provide the internet connection. His install experience was not good, with several visits required and false starts and not at all good internet connections. He has learned from his ISP that they may want to get out of providing DSL service (too much hassle!); so he may shortly be negotiating with alternate supplier(s)...

Emil Volcheck lives too far from a Verizon central office to be able to get regular ADSL or SDSL service. However, he found out that Conectiv Communications in Delaware was a provider of IDSL which is much slower than ADSL, but can be run over much longer distances - more than 5 miles in his case. This setup involved getting the phone line install from Verizon and the DSL service from Conectiv. As it turned out, Verizon goofed three times on the line installation; so it was several weeks of tries before they found out why the DSL signal was not getting thru. Once that was cleared up, Conectiv sent a techie to the house with the DSL router, cables, etc. Emil had to install the ethernet card in the PC(s), but the tech ran the phone wire from the outside box to the inside location of the computer, set up the router and tested it. The first try did not work - because of the failure of the Verizon folks. But, once that was cleared up, the DSL came alive and has worked generally well since. He has had the service for about seven months and had only a few interruptions.

LINUX FOLLOW-ON

After the above DSL sharing and some other Q&A in about two hours discussion was completed, John Murphy took over and picked up his Corel Linux install demo where it had left off at the December meeting. At the end of the previous session, Linux had been installed and was running OK. The new OS had not yet recognized the PC7s sound card or its ethernet card. Between meetings, John had got the sound card working and he showed us how he had got the Linux OS to find it.

Then, he started the process to try to get the ethernet card found and able to connect to the Villanova network. This took a major amount of fiddling - in part caused by the difference in how windows and linux perceived the identity of the card. However, after quite a few configurations, John was successful and we were able to establish an internet connection, as usual, thru the VU network.

However, all was not hunky dory as there was still some conflict or interaction with the sound card and the NIC. So, at meetings end, John planned to take the club PC home and see about getting it all straightened out. Hopefully, by the February meeting, he will nave it OK.

Assuming that success, the club PC will have a choice of four (4) OSes: Windows 95B, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium Edition and Corel Linux Second Edition! We'll be ready for anything!!!

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HOME NETWORKING

The following contribution was provided by Nelson Schrock - a real world experience. Perhaps the members would like to hear more about this subject in a future meeting???

"In our house we have, as many do, two computers. I have a 233 Mhz Pentium and my son has a HP 8160, which is basically the same computer. There are files that I have wanted to share between my computer and my son's. The choices available to do that were: floppy disks, zip drives, CD-Rewriters, or networking. Floppies were too small for my needs. Zip drives and purchasing a second CD-Rewriter were not economically feasable.

So, I decided to check out home networking. I looked at CompUSA, Microcenter and other places. I found a lot of different ways to connect the computers. One way was to connect them uses wireless transmitters. They were a bit on the expensive side, and I have a problem with cordless phones and TV reception in my bedroom where my PC is located. Another way is through the existing phone lines. They were cheaper than the wireless, but I wanted to go as cheaply as I could. I opted to run cable. This was the cheapest way to go.

They have several kits available that will guide you through the process. Because of the distance between the computers, none of the kits would have worked. I decided to buy two Linksys Network Everywhere 10/100 Network cards. I got them for $9.95 a piece. I also got Cat5 cable, 50 feet cost me $10.95. My computer runs Windows Me, and my son's runs Win 98 SE. Installing the cards was easy. They just plugged into an empty PCI slot.

Running the cable was a bit harder, but I basically ran it along the bottom of the wall from one room to another. The next step was to power up the PCs, and install the drivers for the cards. On the Win98 machine, I had to choose the "Have Disk" option. Then install the drivers from the Win98 folder on the diskette. The other PC was another story. There were no Me drivers. I tried to install the Win98 drivers, but WinMe would not accept them. I had to go to Linksys's website and download newer drivers. They actually had drivers for WinMe. Once I got ahold of the correct drivers, all was a go.

The easiest part of the entire process was to install the networking software. Windows Me comes with a "Home Networking Wizard" which really made the job easy. I had to enter the name of the computer (which is the same name that was used when Windows was installed), and a network name. The program suggests that you use MSHOME [your editor prefers and uses "OurHome".ejv]. After that the Home Networking Wizard will prompt you to create a disk for every Win9x machine that you intend to network with.

Installing the software on the other PC is basically the same as with the WinMe machine. That was about all there was to it. Once the network has been established, you have to decide what files, drives, etc. that you want to share with the other comptuer. I have my other hard drive shared with my son's. I have decided not to share Windows files, with the machines running different OSs, I thought that might create a conflict. I believe the Home Networking software is available for download from Microsoft for Win98SE."

Thanks, Nelson - it's great to hear from our members!

[NOTE from editor: it is a whole lot easier to have your computer partitioned into at least C and D drives. With your sharable data on the D drive, you can put it on the network. Leaving the C drives as unshared avoids any "windows" files conflict problems. A possibly even better setup is to have a removable drive installed - like a Zip drive - then make that the shared one, and not share the C or D drives. This ensures that a minimum part of each system is shared, and thus accessible to others.]

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Windows ME

A little insight to Windows ME install experiences - from the BBS:

NS> I received a copy of the Windows ME upgrade for Christmas. Are there any problems installing this? I was reading CNet and saw that people were having numerous problems. The most common being the size of the installation (they reported it being from 640 Mb to 2 Gb), failure to recognize hardware, problems with certain software (in particular Norton System 2000), and crashes and freezes when installing it.

E> Nelse - as I recall, I have heard that low level utilities like System Works should be uninstalled before doing an upgrade to ME. You also should check the Norton website to be sure of compatibility BEFORE you re-install such software.

Yes, the sizes can be big - best to do a custom install and select which options you want to go in. Doing so, you will likely get an install in the 500 MB vicinity. In my experience, 95 gave around a 100 MB, 98 about 250 MB and, one experience, ME about 500 MB.

I plan to run an upgrade install - will let you know if I get any crashing or such problems. I'll have a Drive Image backup; so I can have a perfect restart if I need to abort the ME.

NS> They recommended doing a clean install and not over top of an existing Win98 installation. Anyone heard anything of this? Makes me wonder if I should try to install this or not.

E> The one install I did was a clean install on a freshly formatted hard drive partition - actually the club's machine. I used the so-called "promo" version of ME - that is, the $50 one - which requires that you have Win98.

When you start the install, in the usual way, you will only get a short way before ME will ask you to remove the install CD and put in the Win98 CD. It spent, in my case, the better part of 3-4 minutes examining the CD to be sure it really is a Win98 CD. This is much more stringent than any check of a previous version that I have seen. But, after the wait, it said remove the Win98 CD, put in the ME CD and away it went.

The installation was totally uneventful. It took longer than 98, because it is putting on some twice as much material.

When the installation was complete, it had not recognized the modem or the sound card. Interesting because 98 had found the modem, tho not the sound card. So, I had to "install' those two devices. Everything worked OK then, including the NIC on my home network (and I think we checked it on the VU ethernet, too).

You can try the normal "upgrade" install over your existing Win98. If that does not work, then you can reformat and start over with a bare partition.

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 meeting in Room 110.

[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 of the building.

NOTE: maps on our webpage - http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/


64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  2001  Steering Committee Meetings

February 10 February 14 ** March 10 March 14 ** April 14 April 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: 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