Main Line Computer Users Group


Oct 2001 Issue 232

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - OCT 13 th

CONTINUE WITH THE SHARING!


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

We'll begin with our hugely popular information exchange - announcements, questions, problems and answers (hopefully). About an hour for this ...

Then, we can get any input on the subject discussed below: broadband internet service and providers. Not just who does what, but member's actual results with using them.

Another group I have been attending has put out a CD of such favorites. We briefly touched on it last time. More time can be allotted this month - but, check the item on p.4 before the meeting.

One item recently available is the CD of programs, articles and other stuff from Karen Kenworthy - former columnist for Windows Magazine and its successor website - her Power Tools column and newsletter. This is a unique activity in that Karen has written a whole slew of useful utilities - in Visual Basic 6. All of them are on the CD. But, the unique part is that ALL OF THE SOURCE CODE IS THERE, TOO! So, you can not only use the software, but you can innovate on the programming if you choose to do so. It should be a very good way to learn to program in Visual Basic for Windows. Interested? Let's take a look...

Any other favorites? Bring them out and try them on us!


BROADBAND INTERNET

The big buzzword these days is "broadband" or, generically, a high speed connection to the internet. NOTE: that I said connection TO the net - not high speed internet. The vendors want you to believe you will get the latter, but what they sell is the former.

So, we'd like to explore experiences with this increasingly common technology - including cable modems, xDSL via your phone line, satellite or any other.

The questions are: 1) do you get the high speed connection to the net that you are paying for? and 2) what sort of internet performance do you actually get? [continued]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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RENEWAL TIME - is here! Our "official" membership solicitation is now underway. So, you may want to turn to the back page of this issue, fill out the form and see if you can be the first to renew (no prize!). Because we hit year 20 this time round, we plan to try a couple of extra approaches to solicit both renewals of existing members and rejoining by former members. Hopefully, by the celebration time in the April-June 2002 period, we'll have a goodly compliment to do so.....

20TH ANNIVERSARY! - speaking of the anniversary - in 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. We are still trying to decide on what would be appropriately special to celebrate that event. Hence, your ideas, thoughts and suggestions will be welcomed and most appreciated! Pass them on at the meetings, or to one of the steering members (see p.7) if you can't be at meetings.

SPYWARE? - heard about it? Worried about it? You may want to find out if you have some on your computer. Pop over to the website: www.lavasoftUSA.com and download a copy of the freeware app called Ad-aware. It will check your system to see if anything you have got from the net has put one of these background spies on it. If you are an avid on-line gamer, we understand you have an especially high likelihood of having such guests!

WINDOWS XP - it is essentially impossible to not know that the release of the latest Microsoft's baby is imminent. In fact, it is possible that if you bought a new PC after 9/25, you got it. With all the uncertainties around the economy slowdown, the aftershocks of the September 11 attacks and the first assault on Afghanistan that is taking place as I type this, the success of that debut is itself somewhat uncertain. By the time of our November meeting, we should know a bit more. BUT, a good policy is to avoid jumping on the bandwagon (if there is one) now. Unless you know there is an essential feature of XP that you must have, let it go for now. Remember, "if it ain't broke, don' fix it"!!

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


WINDOWS 9x TIP ?

The COMMAND Line!

by Emil Volcheck

When you first powered on your new Commodore computer way back when, you got introduced to the command line. It may not have looked like a command line, but that blinking cursor, under the word "Ready" was just waiting for you to type in a command.

If you got introduced to computers a bit later, you may also have been faced with a command line. Something like: A:\> (assuming it was a DOS machine). The Amigans, CP/Mers and others also had their computer intro with a command line.

But, in 1984, Apple Computer commercialized the GUI (the Graphical User Interface) - no command line, you did everything with your mouse (more or less). This was to be (Apple hoped) the death knell of the command line and the beginning of glory for the Mac.

When our "friends" out in Redmond, WA noticed that Macs were actually selling, they decided not to be outdone. The result was the introduction of Windows and the disappearance of an obvious command line.

But, it was actually still there - now accessed by selecting the "MS-DOS Prompt" icon. That was easy to spot for most folks - and it has survived thru the recent versions of Windows. And, it appears in an even less obvious form of the "Run" command. When you click START, then RUN, you open a dialog box with a command line available - to all intents and purposes pretty much like the MS-DOS prompt!

Microsoft has been trying to migrate away from all this - and the DOS roots of Windows. The newest version, due out this month (barring some unforeseen circumstances) takes a further step (I7m not sure just how it will look, but any of you that have seen a beta of Windows XP - or bought a new PC in late September or early October that has it will know. AND, can tell us about it at the next meeting ... hint, hint ...!!!).

While Redmond has moved one way, it seems that Cupertino has moved the opposite. Yes, the latest whiz-bang OS from Apple - namely OS X - has a command line!! The first in the history of the Mac, as I understand it! Wonder how it will all shake out in the coming years and OS upgrades?

But, I forgot that this item was labeled "tip"; so I better get to it. And, that's the command line - in particular the command line you get by clicking on START, then on RUN. The resulting dialog box is actually pretty potent because:

Not bad - for a simple command line! But, I'd like to suggest some other useful commands that having them memorized for you, for re-use, is very nice.

Example #1:

Do you have occasion to still copy a floppy disk? If so, then you can get your computer to verify the integrity of the copy, which Windows does not do if you invoke its copy disk option.

So, next time you copy a floppy, click START, then RUN, then type in the box "diskcopy a: a: /v" (without the quotes). Then click OK and follow the prompts. You'll have a verified copy of the disk and that command will be remembered for future use.

Example #2:

Ever need to format a floppy disk? Well, follow the above steps and type in "format a: /q/u" (again no quotes). That will do a quick format and have your floppy ready in jig time!

How about it? If any of you have a favorite, repetitive task to do, try this. If it works, tell us about it; so we can tell others...


BROADBAND

At this point in time, we have a half dozen or so members who have broadband (bb), of the cable and DSL flavors. Perhaps, they can get things started for us by summarizing their experiences on the questions - plus some other key info: ISP, broadband type and service provider, monthly fee, startup costs, etc.

More than a year ago, I mentioned what I had; but I'll re-summarize it to get the ball rolling:

My bb is called iDSL (or Integrated Digital Subscriber Line), which comes via a regular telephone line. This service is limited to about 144 Kbps or about 3X a 56K modem that is in a good area. In my area, a 56K modem only gets about 26K; so the iDSL is actually about 5.5X faster than a 56K modem. Like other forms of DSL, it is "always-on" - you simply run any app that needs net access and it has it, with no separate or special dialup needed. To my knowledge, there is only one provider for iDSL in the SE PA area - Conectiv Communications of Delaware. The monthly fee, for residential use, is $60. Startup is pricey, as the special "modem" (actually a router) is around $300 and installation runs over $200. Since they have no competitors for this type of service, there is no pressure to reduce prices.

So, why then do I have a slower, more expensive bb? SIMPLE, there is no cable modem service available here; and no conventional DSL technology will work so distant from an equipped telephone central office! The normal DSL is limited to about 3 miles, as the electron travels (not as the crow flies!) from a bb-equipped central office and I'm about 5 miles. So, it was (and still is) iDSL or nothing.

Given that, however, the service works, is relatively speedy, is easy to use (NO special setups required at all) and has been pretty reliable. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) our ISP Conectiv Communications has been bought by Capital Telephone of Maryland. We have been told that they plan to maintain the service - but it is quite a special thing; so I'm not comfortable. [Emil Volcheck]


USEFUL APPLICATIONS

As part of this month's program (see p.1) we want to take a closer look at the CD of useful utilities and applications put together by Lou Mikkelsen, instructor for the CCIL session at the West Chester Area Senior Center (the so-called Thursday Gang). For folks to think about prior to the meeting, here is a listing of the installables on the CD:

TOP PICKS FOR "MUST HAVES"

Also, there are a couple of other folders of info on the CD:

Web Page Exercise - learning webpages Miscellaneous Tutorials - various topics

Check things out in October???


SEPTEMBER 11 2001

Our information and technology age has allowed folks to very rapidly cause all kinds of damage and discomfort, following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on this day.

In addition to the mass of internet scams, the net also brought a special virus/worm:

New virus preys on users' fears
By Dennis Fisher, eWEEK
September 25, 2001 8:23 AM PT
URL: www.zdnet.com/eweek/stories/general/0,11011,2814576,00.html

A new virus that exploits public fear of terrorism in the wake of the recent attacks has begun appearing in the United States, but is unlikely to spread very far, experts say.

The virus, known variously as W32.Vote and Troj.Vote, is a garden-variety mass mailer, except that it arrives with an executable attachment named WTC.exe that when launched attempts to reformat the machine's C: drive.

It spreads by mailing itself to every name in the user's Microsoft Outlook address book, and the e-mail carries a subject line of "FW: Peace between America and Islam." The body of the e-mail asks the recipient to vote on whether the United States should go to war.

Once executed, the virus attempts to delete some anti-virus files and then reformats the PC's C: drive, according to a bulletin released by anti-virus vendor Trend Micro Inc., in Cupertino, Calif.

The virus has not spread very quickly thus far, with only a handful of companies reporting infections. Also, over the last couple of years, many corporations have installed filters that prevent executable files from entering their networks.

However, the social engineering aspects of the virus could give it more longevity than it would otherwise have.

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

September's meeting had 16 attendees, who enjoyed a thriving discussion. As noted in the newsletter, we handled described networking systems and handled questions on that subject - Pete Whinnery updated us on his wired/wireless system that includes the Orinoco wireless access point, coupled to his mainly ethernet system (he even has his C-128 hooked in via a serial linkup!).

Some folks reported on the results of testing the security of their systems or networks to intrusions of the hacker kind. These tests had been run via the web and the website www.grc.com - which has a set of three tests, two of which probe your system from outside while the third (and newest) downloads a test file that probes from the inside (like spyware). It is one of the most useful ways to determine how well, or not so well, your system is on the net. [NOTE: see p.2 for a glimpse at what kind of info you actually do get]

There were also a few comments that engendered the item on broadband (see p.1) in this issue.

And, at last, we did take a look at the Microsoft techies utility - TWEAKUI - that allows you to make all kinds of customization (in one place) with Win95/98/Me/NT. You can get it from the Microsoft website (or find it easier on the MLCUG BBS!).

Emil gave a couple of quicky slide shows (using AppleWorks) on: 1) programs that allow you to control what things run in the background (msconfig for Win98/Me, End-It-All, Startup Manager and Startup Control Panel)and 2) setting up the terminal program HYPERTERMINAL (that comes with Windows) to access the MLCUG BBS.


Windows 9x Tip #2

Screen Grabbers

by Emil Volcheck

There a number of utilities, buyware, shareware and freeware that allow you to grab images of your computer screen and use the resulting image file as you wish - in any application that can deal with a bit-mapped graphics file.

But, unless your needs are very specialized or you need to keep gazillions of things in some sort of clipboard, Windows can do this for you with a keystroke or two. At last month's meeting, I showed two demos that took advantage of the Windows screen grabbing capability, as an example.

You have two options available:

#1 - if you press the "Print Screen" key on your keyboard, nothing will appear to happen. BUT, an image of your screen's dispaly will be stored in the clipboard and can be pasted into whatever app you wish (like Paint, Windows Imaging, Photoshop, etc., etc.).

#2 - if you have multiple windows on the screen, and press ALT plus the Print Screen key, you'll get a copy of the ACTIVE window stored in the clipboard. Handy if you don't need, or want, all the screen to be captured.


CMD GOES TO MAURICE!!

Last issue, we noted that Maurice Randall had acquired the technologies, inventory and rights to the special Commodore products that were invented and marketed by CMD.

Once he got that stuff back home and up and running so as to be able to make stuff for sale, Maurice in dicated that he has plans for some new, or significantly upgraded Commodore products. Or as he said:

"Here's a look at some of the new products I'll be introducing once I'm all set up and running...

THE NEW HD-DOS

I'm doing an upgrade to the HD-DOS and it will contain many new features. Remember the talk about the print spooling? That's what the auxiliary port is for. You can plug in your Commodore- ready printer or printer interface into the auxiliary port and the HD can act as if it were the device 4 printer. The HD intercepts the printer data when an application tries to print. The HD will then store the data into the printer partition. It will then either send the data immediately to the printer or save it for later printing. There will be several configuration modes. For instance, the incoming data can be sent out as-is. In this case, a program such as TWS might be sending data as if the printer were in Epson mode. If you have an Epson compatible printer plugged in, then the data should pass on to the printer as-is. But what if you have a PostScript compatible printer? In this case, you would set the configuration for incoming Epson data and outgoing PostScript data. The HD-DOS would interpret the incoming data and automatically convert it to PostScript code for the printer. This makes it possible for most any Commodore program to be able to print to a PostScript printer. There can also be an HP PCL mode as well as a Canon BJ mode.

How can a hard drive do all this? CMD made this possible by putting a 64K computer inside the HD case. Yes, there's something very similar to a Commodore 64 sitting inside that case. If it had a video chip, think what we could do with it!

Some users are presently connecting a CD-ROM to the HD, but special programs are needed to handle the data transfers. To make things easier, the new HD-DOS will incorporate a new partition type called "CDROM". Just create a CDROM partition and when you switch to that partition, you will be able to access the CDROM drive just like you would any partition on the hard drive. Plug in a second cdrom drive and create a partition for that one too!

There will be other features added to the new DOS such as the ability to recognize a disk change for those who have installed Iomega Zip drives into their units. You will no longer have to partition all your disks the same way and you will not have to press the reset button during a disk change either. When a disk change is sensed, the DOS will automatically re-read the partition table from the new disk just like the FD drive does when you insert a new disk.

The new HD-DOS will include a new BOOT ROM which is very easy to install and a new DOS disk which will also include some new utilities. I'm estimating this upgrade will be sold for about $40.

THE NEW HD-ZIP DRIVE

Another nice new product will be an official production HD-Zip drive. For us Commodore users, this makes much more sense than having a hard drive with gigabytes of storage. You'd be surprised at how much stuff you can put on a 100 megabyte Zip disk. If you get low on space, just get another Zip disk! Or keep different projects on different Zip disks.

The new HD-Zip drive will have all the same features as the regular HD-Series drives. The only difference will be visible on the front, where the Zip disk is inserted.

The HD-Zip drive will also include the new HD-DOS mentioned above.

I don't have a firm selling price on this unit yet, but I've determined that the price will be $299 or less (plus shipping). Once I get production up and running on these units, I might find that costs are low enough with the "in-house" cases and other in-house production that I can keep the selling price below the $299 figure.

HD-ZIP KITS

Do you already have a CMD HD? How would you like to put a Zip drive in it? I will be selling a kit in two forms, with or without the actual Zip drive mechanism. The kits will also include the new HD-DOS mentioned above. The kit will give you the necessary bracket and screws, a template for cutting the front panel, a new front panel decal, and an instruction sheet. Currently, I can only estimate what the selling price of these kits will be. Most likely, the kit without the Zip drive mechanism will be somewhere around $55. (remember, that includes the new HD-DOS)

Maurice Randall 
% Click Here Software Co 
426 Sumpter St 
P.O. Box 606 
Charlotte MI 48813
You can call me or email me with any question you'd like to:
PH: (517) 543-5202 
maurice@ia4u.net"
[Some of these sound interesting enough to buy!! - ejv]

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.

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

                      October 13                        October 17 **
                      November 10                       November 21
                      December 8                        December 12

     * = 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