Main Line Computer Users Group - April 2001 Issue 227

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - APR 14 th

NINETEENTH ANNIVERSARY !!!


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

Last month, as announced, we installed and tested a new Creative Technology 8x4x32 CD-RW drive in the club's demo PC. We showed how we could use PowerQuest Drive Image to "burn" CD's with it.

For this month, we will take things a step further - that is show how restoring a drive image works (at least, we hope so!). You'll recall that the main hard drive is partitioned into thirds, with a different OS in each: first Windows 95B, then Windows 98 SE and, finally, Windows ME - each allocated 3+ GB of the 10 GB drive. Normally, we use Win95B for most of the demo stuff, because more members have that, than the others Windows versions. So, we'll leave it alone! Here's the program with the steps: 1) boot into the Windows ME partition and confirm all is OK, 2) run scandisk and defrag to make sure the files are neat and compact, 3) re-boot from a floppy and use Drive Image 4.0 to save an image of the ME partition to a CD-R disk. At this point, we can go risky!

Then, 4) re-boot with Partition Magic and delete the Windows ME partition, leaving just free space. Finally, 5) re-boot with Drive Image and restore the Windows ME OS; then 6) boot into Win ME and confirm all is well!

Hopefully, all will be well. And, there'll be some Q & A, too!

[continued on p.3]


NINETEENTH ANNIVERSARY - YES!!

On Saturday, April 3, 1982, a group of some dozen folks gathered in a classroom in the now- defunct MAIN LINE COMPUTER CENTER, then in Wayne PA. The purpose of the group's meeting was to mull over the possibility of forming a Commodore PET/VIC users group to serve the western suburbs of Philadelphia (since Philadelphia itself was being served by PACS, the Philadelphia Area Computer Society).

After some discussion, we decided to give it a whirl. We went for a meeting as soon as convenient. And publicized to the local community about the new organization. May was too busy at the Computer Center; so the first regular meeting of the new MAIN LINE COMMODORE USERS GROUP was held at the Main Line Computer Center on June 12, 1982 - with twelve (12) eager Commodore users in attendance. It was a great start!!!

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A COMMODORE HISTORY - VIII

As interest in the Commodore computers began to decline, Commodore Business Machines and many other vendors of Commodore-compatible products lowered their prices on both hardware and software in an attempt to maintain interest in their products. Commodore also began bundling software with hardware and making package deals as did other producers.

GEOS 64

Just when many individuals felt that the Commodore 64 may begin to lose ground to the newer IBM and Macintosh models of the mid 1980's, a company named Berkeley Softworks created a new operating system for the Commodore 64 called GEOS which became immensely popular and helped to rejuvenate interest in the Commodore line. GEOS (which stands for Graphic Environment Operating System) was largely a takeoff of the popular early Macintosh (icon-based) mouse-oriented operating system. In fact, GEOS came with Geowrite and Geopaint-- much like Macwrite and MacPaint. Commodore owners were thrilled that they could have a computer which could perform nearly like the Macintosh-- for just a small percentage of the price of a Macintosh-- while still having color graphics and sound which surpassed the capabilities of the Macintosh. The fact that Berkeley was able to squeeze so much power out of the Commodore 64's limited memory and disk capacity was a tribute to the highly efficient programming which Berkeley implemented. Certainly, Microsoft could take a few lessons about efficient programming from those who wrote GEOS. A full line of GEOS-based programs ensued.

The Commodore 128D

Around 1986 or 1987 the Commodore 128D was released and became quite popular. The 128D was basically a Commodore 128 computer with a built-in 1571 disk drive and a detachable keyboard. The idea was to conserve desktop space and make a nicer-looking computer to compare with the professional appearance of the IBM compatibles. This computer had the latest chip revisions made for the Commodore 128 and 1571 drives and had more video memory. This was perhaps the best 8-bit made by any manufacturer. The fact that there were not so many cables and wires running around and that it did not hog as much desktop space (due to the fact that the monitor could sit on top of it) made it very nice to use.

During the 1980's, several large Commodore and Amiga trade shows and user conventions were held throughout the United States and in some foreign countries-- especially Canada. Commodore also usually had large displays at COMDEX and other consumer electronics shows. Thousands of users, retailers, and developers usually converged on these gatherings. This was quite a spectacle to see. The exciting and innovative new products which were unveiled at these shows kept Commodore users, dealers, and distributors coming back for more. The fact that there was fierce free enterprise competition-- and the fact that the computer industry had not yet conceded (or capitulated) to the dominance of Microsoft and IBM-- led to unprecedented creativity. Unfortunately, however, many people began starting to demand uniformity and standardization at the expense of innovation.

Commodore had been so competitive in the marketplace that IBM, Apple, and Atari had been forced to lower their prices and improve their features and quality. These other manufacturers were successful in doing so-- to the point where many people started being attracted away from Commodore toward other brands. However, if it had not been for Commodore being such a huge factor in putting downward price pressure and creating such innovative home consumer products the evolution of affordable quality home computers would have occurred much more slowly.

[To be continued - Part IX next time]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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ANOTHER LOSS - as part of our long-running newsletter exchanges, we have been getting the Commodore Compendium - from the Basic Bits Commodore Group (recently renamed the Basic Bits Computer Group).

Because of dwindling membership - and a desire to cut costs drastically - they discontinued their newsletter with the March 2001 issue. This, of course, means no more newsletter exchange.

Further, they decided not to completely disband the group - but to become a "computer social group". They still plan to get together monthly (?) and stay in email contact. Interesting!

Incidentally, they currently have around 24 members - with meeting attendance of only about 6 or 7. For the record, MLCUG is now at the 30 level for 2001, with meeting attendance averaging around hardy 15.....

STILL ANOTHER - several of us who have been recipients of various newsletters that originated from the winmag.com website were notified that it was closing down. And, all the newsletters would cease. The end of the road for Windows Magazine, which morphed to the web as winmag.com and ceased being hardcopy!

WINDOWS STARTUP DISK - in previous newsletters and meetings, we dealt with the Windows startup (or boot) disk and the REAL NEED for one. As many know, Windows 98 offers an improved version - that can be used with PCs running DOS, Win 3.x, Win 95 or Win 98 (probably work with ME, too, tho I did not yet test it).

To make a more useful tool, I did a few "improvements". The boot disk now has: a mouse driver, the DOSKEY utility and XCOPY included in the suite of tools that the disk puts into a RAMdisk that it creates on boot up (how that appears was shown in February, p.6). Copies will be available for $1 at the meeting - or if you paid a $1 for the previous distribution, just bring it in for a swap.

Oh yes, if you got one two meetings ago, I'll have a new label (free!) for it at the meeting, also.

ARCHIVAL PHOTOS? - in past meetings, we have mulled over (do to ignorance!) about the archival qualities of various forms of color inkjet printouts. It is well recognized that ordinary color printouts on ordinary paper are pretty ephemeral. But, what about photo inks on photo paper?

Don't have a general answer, but Epson has AN answer with their latest printer lines. They claim 200+ years lifetime with prints made with their 6-color Archival Inks and quality photo paper. It's offered with the Stylus Photo 2000P, wide format printer - around $900. Don't know if the technology is workable in their consumer printer line. Anybody???

LINUX CD - at the February meeting, we had a number of distribution CDs for the Corel Linux, Second Edition. One remains un-distributed. So, if you are interested in trying this version of Linux and would like it, please give Emil a call (610-388-1581) to reserve it for pick up.

LUNCH - some of us regularly adjourn after the meeting for lunch at the Villanova diner. Why not come join us - and continue the converse?

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WIN 9x TIP OF THE MONTH

CLEAN UP THAT REGISTRY!

Over time, with installs and un-installs of programs - which do not go "perfectly" - the registry can get cluttered with no-longer relevant stuff. It can get to the state of hobbling the performance of a Windows computer.

An article in the May 2001 PC World pointed out their preferred mode of cleaning things up (see p.200 of that issue - copy will be at the meeting). It depends on two tools: 1) a non- publicized Microsoft utility called "regclean.exe" and either "regedit" (for Win95) or "scanreg" (for Win98 or ME).

Using the tools, no-longer relevant references are removed from the registry and it is "optimized" (which can reduce its size significantly).

I recently needed to un-install the Norton Anti-virus program from the club PC - and to be sure that the leftovers were gone, too. Since this was on the Win95 partition, I ran regclean and a little batch file, called "smallreg.bat", which did the optimizing and smallifying. The registry ended up 15% smaller after the treatment. And, I think I got rid of any NAV references (at least things worked the way I had hoped). Maybe a small meeting demo?

In any case, the regclean and smallreg files have been uploaded to the IBM utilities library on the BBS. Simply download and copy them to the root of your C drive. Then, for Win95, you run regclean while in windows, then restart in MS-DOS mode and run smallreg at the >C prompt.

For Win98, run regclean, then run "scanreg /opt" from the C prompt in MS-DOS mode. For Win ME, you will need to make a boot disk. Then run regclean, boot from the boot disk - select "minimal boot" - and run "scanreg /opt" at the >C prompt.

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"SECURITY" ON THE INTERNET - Hah!

On the E-Taxes Bandwagon?? - all kinds of folks, including the IRS, have been urging you to do your taxes on-line - not just file/pay on-line. But, it appears that here, too, are glitches!!!

One of the more sophisticated techniques was to use Intuit's TURBO-TAX to do your taxes - AND - to use it to extract financial details from your Vanguard, Fidelity, etc., investment accounts directly. Avoids typing in and the potential for errors in doing same. The gotcha is that your investment account password could (and did) become exposed where it could be observed by the unintended. Vanguard terminated passwords on their customers who used Turbo-Tax; so they had to contact Vanguard and establish their identities; so they could re-establish contact with their own accounts!! Neat???

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SECURITY REMINDER!

Recently I became treasurer of another organization. In this new position, I naturally have got a look at a large number of checks, as folks sent in their annual dues.

Much to my surprise, I found many of these checks contained the following imprinted information about the account holder:

* Account owner's full name * Spouse's full name * their home address * their telephone number * both SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS!

As you all should realize, the above critical information is all that an "identity theft" needs to make a mess of YOUR life! So take a good look at the checks you have and the imprinted information on them. If there is anything more than names and address, you ought to get them changed IMMEDIATELY!

There is no need for your telephone number and certainly NOT your Social Security number to be on a thing as widely distributed as your checks!

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BACKUP SUMMARY

As previously announced, the summaries of hardware and software considerations for backup were posted to the BBS. These summaries have been slightly updated. By the time you read this, the update will be on the BBS. Check the Text Files Library for the file: "bakuplst.txt".

A noteworthy change is to add the newly announced, improved Castlewood ORB drive. They are now offering 5.7 GB cartridges - in addition to their previous 2.2 GB ones. Needs a NEW version of the drive - the 2.2 drive won't take the 5.7s (surprised?). This is a significant bump in capacity and useability - and the carts list for only $40 (vs. $30 for the 2.2). You may want to carefully check this one out!

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LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
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March's meeting was attended by 14 people (50%) of our 2001 membership. This is about like the last couple of months.

Beyond the round table discussion - which, among other things, brought some feedback on cable modem systems (one great! and one not very great at all!) - the main activity followed on the "backing up" theme we started last month.

CD "BURNERS

One hardware tool (see the list in the Text File Library) is the CD "burner" - as a 650 MB storage unit. However, the club PC was sans burner and we were thinking about bringing in an external burner unit for demos of using CD-R or CD-RW disks for archiving. But, about a week or so after last month's steering meeting, we spotted a sale at Staples; so we invested $80 of the treasury and got a Creative Technologies (the SoundBlaster folks) 8x4x32 CD-RW (1200 KB/min CD-R speed, 600 KB/min CD-RW speed and 4800 KB/min read speed) unit - a very good deal!

At the meeting, we mounted the new drive in the last empty 5.25" bay in the club PC and hooked it up on the secondary IDE cable - along with the original 24X CD-ROM drive. [This essentially consumes all the drive bays - as we now have a floppy drive, zip drive, two hard drives and two CD drives installed. See the pre-meeting installation test in the item immediately following.]

With the "burner" in place - and working - we turned to the second part of today's demo; namely, backing up the C partition that contains the operating system (in this case, the Windows 95B partition). To do this, we used one of the software tools mentioned last month and shown in the list posted in the Text Files library - Drive Image by PowerQuest. In version 4 of this utility PQ added the capability to save images directly to a CD burner. This is done by booting from a floppy that - in DOS mode - enables the CD drives and makes the burner directly useable.

Using a modified version of the Windows 98 startup disk, we enabled the CD backup mode of Drive Image 4.0. Then, it wrote a compressed image of the roughly 600 MB of files on the C drive to a bit under 400 MB on a single CD-R disk. It took about 13 minutes to copy, compress and write the files to the CD and another 2-3 minutes to "close" the CD.

The total process of installing the new drive and making the image went smoothly with no errors of any kind encountered. If you have a CD burner, this looks like a very good tool set to provide a backup that will allow you to totally recreate a damaged operating system in a few minutes (altho we did not "restore" the system from the CD-R, a separate test showed, as expected, that the restore goes quicker since the read speed on the burner is about 4X faster than the write speed).

Any member with questions is urged to come to the next meeting and have a go at them....

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Installing A CD-RW

Pre-Meeting Installation Test: well, I got the new CD-RW installed in the club PC last night. No big problem except that the IDE cable in the PC, as well as the one that came with the drive, were too short to accomodate two CD drives.

So, I had to hunt thru my stock for both a longer cable and the right style (there are two basic styles, one is a lot easier to use than the other). Turns out I had a longer cable of the right design; so the install was only temporarily slowed....... When I turned on the power, everything was right. Both CDs were recognized in the BIOS and by Windows after startup was complete. Note: I did not install any drivers for the new drive, just used the Windows default. Note, Note: to speed up the installation at the meeting, I re-arranged the drives in their bays - leaving the top-most bay open and empty. I put the power and IDE cables right there - after slipping out the tested CD-RW - so they'd be right handy and quick!

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Confused About Viruses!

"I'm confused about the differences between viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Are they all viruses, or are Trojan horses and worms different than viruses?" - Peter L., San Francisco

ANSWER: Dear Peter L.,

There's no need to feel ashamed! This topic continues to cause much confusion for some computer users, and understandably so. While viruses are different from worms and Trojan Horses, they tend to be bundled them all under the umbrella of "viruses" to minimize confusion. It obviously didn't work.

It might be more appropriate to describe all three as "malicious code" and although there are some fundamental differences between viruses, worms and Trojan Horses, there are also strong similarities in they way they work, and especially in the way they're delivered to the victim.

In brief:

A virus infects programs and files, and then spreads the infection to any other files and programs that it comes into contact with. A Trojan Horse rarely infects other files, but is usually designed to perform a certain task - erase data, steal passwords and data, track the user's behavior etc. A worm causes harm by replicating itself so often it brings computers, email servers, and networks to a halt. Worms can also carry destructive payloads.

THE VIRUS

A virus is a small software program, often just a couple of lines long, that can attach itself to the user's files and programs, and spread by infecting any other files or programs it comes into contact with. The ability to target email programs is the greatest contributor to their rapid spread.

The three most common types of viruses are macro, file infector, and boot sector.

Macro Viruses are targeted at software programs based on the macro programming languages. They can be the most dangerous because of the number of popular software products that use macro languages (most Microsoft products).

Macros are targeted at documents, infecting the template on which the document is based, and then infecting every document that uses the same template (Word, for example).

Melissa is one of the best-known macro viruses, released by New Jersey programmer David Smith in March 1999 and causing nearly $100 million in damages.

File infector viruses are targeted at other files and programs, infecting each program as it's opened, and the files associated with it. It can be spread easily over the Internet, networks, or by exchanging infected discs.

Boot Sector viruses are so called because they target a section of the hard drive known as the boot sector. This area contains information about the hard drive and if infected the user may not be able to "boot up" the computer.

Where did it get its name? Because of it's similarity to a biological virus, infecting one program and then spreading to any program or file it comes into contact with.

[Next time - the "Trojan Horse"]

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

April 14 April 18 May 12 May 16 June 9 June 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