Main Line Computer Users Group - Aug 2001 Issue 231

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - AUG 11 th

Come Help and Be Helped!


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

For our usual starter activities, we'll solicit items of interest from the attendees. And, take some time for problem questions and soltuions (at least we hope so).

A specific topic - networking - will be reserved for its own discussion spot. We'd like to collect questions and comments about last month's wireless demo - and/or wired networking - to help us decide on future meeting topics.

Most of us have favorite helpers (applications, utilities, whatever). How about sharing YOUR favorite? As an example, are you interested in "tweaking" your system? Microsoft's techies do it with TweakUI. They've put out a version that works with Win95/98/Me. You can download it from the BBS, we'll take a look at it.

In another example of "favorites", Tom Johnson has been doing a massive project - just how massive, you'll find out. To clue you, he has spent much time in the last month+ in scanning old (and, in many cases, poor condition) photos and compiling them for family archives. He'll give us a glimpse of what he has been doing. It should inspire some of the rest of us!!!

See you on the 11th, and don't hesitate to bring a friend!!!

[continued]


BACKING UP - RE-REVISITED and CELEBRATION

I'd again like to take this front-page spot to call your attention to two more articles later in this issue. They both relate to more experiments in backup applications - following on those published last month. During this month's discussion, I'd like some further feedback on the info covered there.

Again a reminder that the Steering Committee will continue to solicit and accept suggestions on the 20th anniversary celebration possibilities come next April. Your creativity, please ...

Look to see you all on the 11th!

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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20TH ANNIVERSARY! - in the near future, namely - April 2002 - MLCUG will arrive at the 20th anniversary of the founding meeting, which took place at the Main Line Computer Center (hence the source of our name) in April of 1982. At the June Steering Committee meeting, we decided that it would be appropriate to do something special to celebrate that event. ALL ideas, thoughts and suggestions will be welcomed and most appreciated!

CABLE (or DSL) MODEMS - to try to get a feel for what sort of "broadband" services members are using (and how they feel about them), we'd like to get a feel for who is using what. For starters, please let us know at the next meeting (we'll have a "form") if you have either cable or DSL (or any other such) and who the supplier is. In some cases the latter may be two names, e.g. your ISP is joe.net, but the DSL service is contracted thru Covad.

If you can't be there, give me a buzz, or post a note on the BBS. We'll summarize things in future meetings and NLs as we gather experiences from users. Thanks for your input.

LOADSTAR - recently, I decided to renew my Loadstar subscription, but to give the email version a try. My first part of that subscription arrived recently and the email included the following note:

"LOADSTAR 205 (D81 Version) The Premier Software Digest for the Commodore 64/128

Even though the cost of postage has gone up, we are holding the line at: 6 Months -- $43; 12 Months -- $84. And YES! Sheri and I will be keeping LOADSTAR alive and well through 2002 -- or issue 222, whichever comes last! We are having a ball -- and I can't think of a better part- time job. LOADSTAR is ALIVE!! Thanks, Dave & Sheri (Moorman)"

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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QUICK TIP

In response to a question about problems uninstalling a Windows program, Inquirer columnist, John Fried, had a good suggestion:

The questioner noted that he had tried to do an un-install via the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel - but got a message saying that the uninstall log file could not be found; so no dice!

John suggested that the person RE-INSTALL the program. This would put everything in its correct place AND re-create the install log file. Then, the un-install should work OK. Sounded real good, one of those "why didn't I think of that myself?" things.

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WIN 98 TIP OF THE MONTH

RESTORING SINGLE WINDOWS FILES

On occasion, one gets missing ".dll" or similar Windows system files that were installed with Windows, but got deleted or messed up by some errant application (or user action!).

But, if you have Windows 98 (and Win ME?), you have an easy route to restoration. The process with Win95 is possible, but convoluted (Microsoft has a Knowledgebase article that steps you thru it) - whereas Win98 makes it pretty easy. The feat is accomplished by a new system utility called: SYSTEM FILE CHECKER.

To use it, you click START, then click RUN. In the dialog box, you type "sfc" without the quotes, then click OK.

You will be presented with the startup screen for the System File Checker. On that screen, you'll see an option to restore a single file. You click in the appropriate radio button, then type the EXACT name of the file you want to have restored in the entry box, then click the "Start" button in the SFC window (NOT the START button on the desktop). If you're lucky, the file's restored!

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That BIG Hard Drive!

by Emil Volcheck

The price of hard drives has been falling about as fast as the price of memory. Both are lower than they have been for years, if not the lowest ever.

In a recent CompUSA offering, they had a 20 GB, ATA 100 hard drive for just $50 (after rebate)! That was too low to resist; so I popped for one. It was destined as an upgrade to a 1977 IBM Aptiva PC that I inherited (actually swapped for). It has a 3 GB hard drive, generally more than adequate - but a larger (real cheap!), partitioned drive would be nicer!

Since the old drive no longer had any useful stuff on it, I did not need to transfer files, OS or anything - just swap drives and go!

And, it went! When I fired up the 20 GB drive, the BIOS said I had a nice, new 8.4 GB hard drive (Windows, of course, said the same thing). This was a surprise, as the BIOS had been upgraded on the computer and I expected it could handle big drives.

This turned out to be the second time in a 3-week period where I had the same experience. In the first case, a 15 GB drive was installed and gave the same 8.4 GB available message. Oh yes, and some weeks ago, Charles Curran had the same experience on a 1997 Powerspec and a new 13 GB hard drive.

I have always been skeptical of utility software that lets older versions of a BIOS deal with big drives, but I tried one anyway. In this case, the drive was a Maxtor and came with a utility disk that they dub "MaxBlast".

A key element in that package is the ability to install a small utility called "EZ-Drive" which fools the BIOS into being able to access the whole of the drive. It is extremely quick and easy to install and, with just a couple of weeks experience, looks to be doing the job just fine.

However, there is a quirk associated with EZ-drive - you can NOT boot directly from a floppy! If you do, EZ-drive (which is activated from the boot sector on the hard drive) does not come into play and the HD appears to be wrecked!! Since you may need to boot from a floppy to recover from problems, this could present some difficulty. But, EZ-Drive has a work-around built-in.

You first let it boot the EZ, then a prompt will appear on the screen, at that moment, you press the CONTROL key. You are then presented with a choice to boot either from a floppy, or continue booting from your hard drive. If you choose the floppy option, you press the A key, then insert your floppy and press the ANY key to boot. But, in order to do this work-around work, you MUST have the boot order, in your BIOS setup, set to boot from a floppy first, then the hard drive

This works fine for the Windows Startup disk and for the PowerQuest Drive Image floppies that I have tried so far.

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Thoughts On Partitioning a hard drive

Following my item on partitions in the June issue (p.6), I had some further thoughts, based on a suggestion by Layton Fireng. In June, the idea was:

Now add a big F drive for backups (prior to burning them off on a CD or other archival spot).

I've got an IBM Aptiva, that I am refurbing and upgrading. It now has a 20 GB hard drive; so I thought I'd experiment with the idea on it. It has been set up thusly:


  C: drive    1+GB    Windows 98SE
  D: drive    6 GB    Applications
  E: drive    6 GB    Data
  F: drive    6 GB    Backup the others
I'm thinking of keeping C small enough to be backed up to a single CD-R, with moderate compression. I have been running some recently where the 40% setting in Drive Image is giving 48-50% actual compression. However, if you limit a drive to mainly the OS, compression is likely to suffer - but I can experiment....

I plan to test for any idiosyncrasies that might mess up the idea. But, it intrigues me (as it did Layton). Comments, anyone?

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LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
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July's meeting had 14 attendees, including (re)new member Ted Korlishin who has rejoined after several years away. It was a good thing he & they came, as we had a very rewarding, if somewhat lengthy, session.

The discussions, announcements and some problem solving ran longer than usual - til about 11:40. I did not want to cut it off.....

That was followed by John Murphy's excellent (and successful) demo of wireless networking (see next but one item).

For the first part of the meeting, we had:

- a short discussion the 20th anniversary - all agreed a celebration would be appropriate. We did not decide what that should be, but folks were urged to think it over and pass on suggestions. More next time, but an event similar to the 15th, but with better facilities arrangement was talked up.

- John D and Charlie C noted that the "Directory Opus" file management utility that got its start on the Amiga has been ported to and majorly upgraded for the PC - suggested by the vendor as a preferred replacement for file manager and windows explorer. We downloaded the 7+ MB evaluation copy from the website (www.gpsoft.com.au) - took about a minute on the VU ethernet . We may have some evaluation reports in future, if folks give it a whirl (how about Amigans, with PCs?).

- Peter W noted that he has got re-interested in flight simulators since they are now out there for Linux. You need a high end video card for same and he noted that there was a special deal at MicroCenter (a RIVA TNT with 32 MB of VRAM!).

- Peter W also mentioned that he had taken a look-see at Maurice Randall's website to get more info on his purchase of the C= business from CMD. Pete said LOTS of new and improved products were in the future....

- Ted K would like to be able to run his favorite Word Writer 128 on his PC, using the VICE emulator. He asked for help in doing so and we'll see how that one goes.

- Emil V did a quicky demo of a very neat piece of freeware, an image enhancer, called: "Digital Camera Enhancer". A very well designed, speedy utility for use with your digital camera (or actually any other kind of image file that you'd like to look better). It installs as a single executable file (no dlls, nothing in the Windows folder, just ONE file). A good tool to have, see: www.mediachance.com and look for DCE.

- as a followup on the two articles in the newsletter on backing up, Emil gave the group a bit more detail and we discussed the backup software situation. Attendees were asked to cudgel their brains and check for experience with software that is capable of letting you recover from a hard drive disaster, with a FULL system restore.

Of course, we mentioned Drive Image that has been demoed in past meetings (and there are similar competitive products); but are there ANY others. That folks know really work!!??

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Meeting Items follow-up

by Peter Whinnery

A quick follow-up on two items mentioned at the July meeting:

1) FlightGear, the open source flight simulator, is a multi-platform project. The web site - flightgear.org - has the program available as source code, and as "ready to run" binaries for both Windows and Macintosh.

2) Digital Camera Enhancer, the photo editing software available from www.mediachance.com, runs quite nicely under WINE. WINE is an implementation of the Windows API on top of X and Unix. It allows one to run Windows applications on most popular Intel Unixes, including Linux.

This is my first sucessful attempt at getting WINE installed and working on my system - look forward to more announcements of sucessful "porting" of Windows apps to Linux! (If only my version of AutoCad would run!) See winehq.org/about.shtml for more info.

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WIRELESS NETWORKING:

As noted above, member John Murphy gave us a tantalizing demonstration of some of the facets of wireless networking - latest technology.

There has been a form, or two, of wireless networking available for some years now - but it was limited to about one (1) megabit/second data transfer rate. More than adequate for even broadband internet access, BUT pretty slow for file management.

The more recent technology, as John showed us, has a current transfer rate of ten times the older form - at eleven (11) megabits/second. This is the same rate range as normal 10BaseT wire-based ethernet (at about 10 Mbps). The pioneer product introducer was Apple, with their Airport wireless technology. However, many others are now in the game.

John got into it with an Apple Airport access device and he used that for the demo. It is a flying saucer-like object, about 10-inches (25 cm) in diameter and about half that height (in a sleek, gray, saucer-like color!). This particular device is a very good example because it has its own built-in 56K modem; so it can connect to the internet either via dial-up (thru its own modem) or via a cable or DSL modem (thru its ethernet, RJ-45, port).

The rest of the demo setup consisted of:

1. the club PC, running Windows 98 SE, which was connected, via a CAT5 cable, to:

2. a 10/100 ethernet switch - the switch, in turn, had a cable to the VU ethernet socket in the wall of the meeting room and a cable to the ethernet port on the Airport module.

3. a Compaq PC laptop, running Windows 2000 Professional, with an Orinoco wireless PC card

4. an Apple Powerbook G3, running MacOS 9.0.4, with its own built-in wireless capability via an Apple Airport card installed in a dedicated slot under the keyboard.

As you can see, we had quite a variety of hardware and software systems accessing the wired/wireless network! So, whatever you have will likely work....

Once all this hardware was up and running, John commenced his demo with:

a. Passing around the Orinoco wireless card for everyone to see. He also passed around the documentation for the AirPort; so folks could see how this access point was setup. He then told us a bit about wireless networking and home networking in general.

b. Then he turned to the club PC; quickly configured it via the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol - the system YOUR ISP normally uses to give you a connection to the net) to get it's IP address.

c. Next he fired up the Compaq laptop with the Orinoco wireless card now inserted and let it grab an address, via DHCP, wirelessly.

d. Next he started a program called VNC (for Virtual Network Computing) on the laptop. VNC has both server and viewer components that allow you to operate a computer running the server from another computer running the viewer over a network (wired or WIRELESS).

e. He fired up his Apple Powerbook with it's AirPort card and started its VNC server software.

f. Then used the Compaq WINDOWS laptop to control the MacOS Powerbook over the wireless - that's running a MAC with a PC, over the airwaves!

All of the above worked - with only a minor glitch or two (excellent behavior for a first-time command performance!)!!

Given the time available, this was quite a tour de force. We're sure there are a lot of questions in the attendee's minds; so we'll devote a block of time at the next meeting for Q & A on wireless...

Our thanks, again, to John for another very informative demo that worked!

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BACKUP STRATEGY - III

by Emil Volcheck

As a followup to my item last month on the Iomega 1-Step Backup and Restore, I got a new (to me) and interesting option for backing up. And, btw, I did not hear from anyone who had successfully used the Iomega 1-Step application to restore a system from scratch - anybody out there who has, or knows how it can be done???

It appears that a change by Microsoft in going from 95 to 98 included an upgrade of the venerable Microsoft Backup (this version is licensed from Seagate).

I had seen a note somewhere about using it for "full" backups and got pointed to a procedure that promised recovery from a hard drive failure. So, I nosed around the 98 CD where the note pointed, with encouraging results.

The "secret" is in the directory \tools\sysrec

That directory contains 3 files: RECOVER.TXT, PCRESTOR.BAT and MSBATCH.INF. The first has the instructions for hard drive failure recovery (or any badly corrupted C drive!).

Essentially, it needs a "full" system backup, made with MS Backup, that was run with the "back up the registry" option activated. You also need your Windows Startup disk, with CD-ROM support, and your Win98 CD.

When you need to do a full recover, you start with your hard drive blank. Then, boot with your startup disk, insert the CD, navigate to the above directory and run RCRESTOR.BAT.

Win98 is installed - per commands in those batch and .inf files. When that is done, a System Recovery Wizard starts and runs the restore from your full backup - overwriting any just- installed Win98 files as required by the backup.

This is so encouraging that I plan to give it a whirl on a simulated total failure.

For starters, I ran a full system backup of the Win98 partition on the club PC. It backed up 4,125 files, including the registry. Verified the backup files and reported only three (3) files could not be backed up because they were "busy". All three are browser files (like the cookie index) that are not essential to operation (and likely get recreated when you fire up your resurrected browser anyway). Great start! I'll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile - has anyone out there used MS Backup for a truly, full restore???? If so, PLEASE chime in...

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
                      August 11                         August 15 **
                      September 8                       September 19
                      October 13                        October 17

* = first Saturday ** = at Tom Johnson's home *************************************************************************************** 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