Main Line Computer Users Group


Nov 2001 Issue 234

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - NOV 10 th

CONTINUE WITH THE SHARING!


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

As in the recent meetings, we'll begin with our announcements, questions, problems and answers (hopefully). About an hour for this ...

Then, the topic will shift to the question of internet security and two aspects of same: virus/worms and firewalls

For the first time in years, I got sent a virus in an email attachment. The message seemed to meet the usual security considerations (which we can discuss) and did not cause any harm. I'll describe my experience and we can mull over the subject.

Next, because of increasing net use by members (& others!) and the expected increase in broadband access, firewall software is getting increasing attention by the trade, the media and users. We want to make sure our members have the benefit of any current experience with this tool.

As a part of the program, we plan to download one of the better products (which happens to be freeware - Zone Alarm). Then, we'll install it and show some of the setup considerations. This will also provide an opportunity to show some of the behavior of such utilities. This should be very informative!!

Any other topics? Make suggestions...


BROADBAND INTERNET - II

This was last month's topic and is on the agenda again. And, there were interesting developments since:

1) about a week after the meeting, Charlie Curran got a letter from Comcast saying they were upgrading service in his area (Havertown). When completed, high speed internet service would be available.

2) about a week after that, I got a hang-tag on my front door knob with similar information regarding work in our area (outskirts of West Chester)!

Charlie does not use cable - and we have had no clue as to when Comcast might do this - they provide NO cable modem service in Chester County!

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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.....

One special step will be to directly contact each current member to urge them to renew - to help us maintain our current (albeit shrunken) member base. This will be done separately from the monthly newsletter mailing.

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.

BROADBAND: - as an MLCUG member, do you have some form of broadband internet access? If so, how about contacting Emil, or posting the info on the BBS; so we can add to our meager database on this subject for the areas our members live in? No one responded to this appeal that first appeared in the October issue.

WINDOWS XP - any members encountered it? Anyone purchase a new PC in the last month+ that came with XP pre-installed? Tell us about your experience.

Email Change: - we got an email from our distant member, Ted Dean. He has had an email address change from his ISP - MSN. Ted's new address is:

tc35d29@msn.com

He'd like to hear from us...

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


SECURITY TIP !

The GIBSON RESEARCH CORPORATION (www.grc.com) is an excellent source of information on matters related to computer security. But, in addition, they offer a set of three test utilities that do real-time tests of the security of your computer when on the internet.

The tests go by the catchy titles of: "Test My Shields", "Probe My Ports" and "Leak Test". Following are the reports from a test I ran on my own system, which is connected to the net via a DSL router.

[The following test was performed with our Zone Alarm firewall turned OFF; so the only "protection" was the Cisco 802 Router on our iDSL line]

Shields UP! is checking YOUR computer's Internet connection security ... currently located at IP: 63.238.170.97

Please Stand By. . .

Attempting connection to your computer. . .

Shields UP! is now attempting to contact the Hidden Internet Server within your PC. It is likely that no one has told you that your own personal computer may now be functioning as an Internet Server with neither your knowledge nor your permission. And that it may be serving up all or many of your personal files for reading, writing, modification and even deletion by anyone, anywhere, on the Internet!

Please Note: On highly secure systems this may take up to one minute. . .

Preliminary Internet connection refused!

This is extremely favorable for your system's overall Windows File and Printer Sharing security. Most Windows systems, with the Network Neighborhood installed, hold the NetBIOS port 139 wide open to solicit connections from all passing traffic. Either this system has closed this usually-open port, or some equipment or software such as a "firewall" is preventing external connection and has firmly closed the dangerous port 139 to all passersby. (Congratulations!)

Unable to connect with NetBIOS to your computer.

All attempts to get any information from your computer have FAILED. (This is very UNCOMMON for a Windows networking-based PC.) Relative to vulnerabilities from Windows networking, this computer appears to be VERY SECURE since it is NOT exposing ANY of its internal NetBIOS networking protocol over the Internet.

[The next test was performed with Steve Gibson's IP Agent that read my system's IP Address - then automatically fired up Netscape and connected to the internet. The Zone Alarm firewall was still turned off]

The Internet Protocol (IP) Address Specified belongs to a Private Network... 10.10.10.30

Private Networks:

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) demonstrated their amazing foresight by setting aside several "chunks" of the 32-bit Internet Protocol (IP) address space. They understood that there would be situations where organizations might want to create an "off the Internet" private network without needing to get official allocations of "public" IP space.

Since these addresses would be disjoint and disconnected from the rest of the Internet, they could be freely used and reused without concern of "collision". In other words, two different machines located in different companies might have identical IP addresses. This would cause no problem because neither machine could be reachable from the Internet nor to each other.

Four regions of IP addresses were defined, creating four "sub-networks" of differing sizes and routing complexity:


   10 .  0.  0.  0 --> 10 .255.255.255
   169.254.  0.  0 --> 169.254.255.255
   172. 16.  0.  0 --> 172. 31.255.255
   192.168.  0.  0 --> 192.168.255.255

This yields networks containing in excess of sixteen million, sixty-five thousand, one million, and sixty-five thousand uniquely identified machines, respectively. Plenty for just about any purpose.

All this is significant to you and the security of your machine having the IP address shown above because all such addresses are, by design, "unreachable" from the external "public" internet. IP Agent has notified the server that it's residing in a machine with this address, but there is no way for the server or anyone outside of your own network to reach you. Those addresses are simply "undefined" within the Internet's routing tables.

In other words: Your computer is very secure against typical threats and discovery from passing Internet scanners.

Where do you go from here?

If our IP Agent brought you directly to this page, without offering you a choice of IP's, your machine has only this single private IP address and it is invulnerable to outside discovery, connection, and attack. [This is the case with our system:ejv]

If you are viewing this page after selecting this address from a list you were given, you may press your browser's BACK button to return to the selection list.

If you wish to review the rest of the content of this web site, you may jump to our home page with the center link below. Then click the ShieldsUP icon to enter WITHOUT the IP Agent. Note that in this case the IP shown will be that of your Proxy, Firewall, or network address translation (NAT) agent; so the tests will be meaningless for your machine!

[The next section shows the results of Gibson's "Probe My Ports" testing routine]

NOTE: when GRC probed our system's ports - with or without the firewall running - it showed the following ports are OPEN:


     Port      23        Telnet
     Port      79        Finger

Since the ShieldsUP test above shows that the PC is isolated from the internet, it would seem that these open ports are on our Cisco DSL router.

I contacted our ISP and learned that they can arrange to close those ports, too. I've asked them to do so...


SEPTEMBER 11 2001

The notice below was sent to folks who use the Bee.Net ISP service. I posted it here just to indicate another side effect of the 9/11 tragedy.

"Hello Bee.Netters!

As a result of the overwhelming increase in mail volume since the 9/11/01 tragedies, we have had an increased number of customers who are experiencing timeouts while sending mail. While there is a setting in each customer's mail software to increase the timeout period -- we have chosen to allow customers to use our secondary ourgoing mail server as their primary mail server. By doing so, effected customers will see increased performance for their outgoing mail.

So...effective immediately, all customers who use bee.net for Internet access and e-mail are welcome to switch their outgoing mail server from smtp.bee.net to smtp2.bee.net. This change is not mandatory, so if you do not know how to make the change, you may disregard this e-mail (or let me know by return e-mail that you would like us to help you make the change -- and we'll give you a call to walk you through the process). If you do know how to make the change, we encourage you to do so -- as not only will you benefit, but so will the customers who continue to use smtp.bee.net.

The increased mail volume has impacted e-mail delivery throughout the Internet. In addition to providing alternatives for sending outgoing e-mail, we are in the process of adding additional hardware and software solutions to improve the overall timeliness of mail delivery. We are optimistic that most other ISPs are doing the same. Regards, Rich

Rich Goldberg"


USEFUL FREEWARE?

As an aid to any and all, we'd like to notify folks of top notch freeware products. When feasible, we'll demo them at the monthly meetings. And, we'd like to feature them in this newsletter.

To get the ball rolling, here are two:

1) IrFanView [at www.irfanview.com] - this is an extremely well-written piece of software that provides a range of image handling functions. They include image file management, image processing, slide shows, etc. Tom Johnson showed it a couple of meetings back. We keep it on the desktop of the club PC for ease of use.

2) Zone Alarm [at www.zonealarm.com] - this is a very powerful internet security tool. In addition to the usual security features - see the item on p.2 - it is one of the very few that passes the Gibson "Leak Test" - which we hope to show at this month's meeting.

NOW, how about a recommendation for your favorite? You can tell us about it and/or demo it...


Your fortune for today:

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.

-- Mark Twain --

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LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
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October's meeting was attended by 13 members and resulted in a lively roundtable discussion. As in the recent past, we went round the table a couple of times - for announcements and news items and for problem solving.

Layton Fireng showed some examples of printouts from an Epson 870 Photo printer (that he had picked up for $25 at MicroCenter last month!). He had used a digital camera photo and a precision color printing image (this later has calibrated gray and CMY color scales to very closely determine the color rendering of printouts) on five different qualities of Epson printing paper. You could get a real assessment of the capability of the printer and the effect (or lack of effect) of paper types. Incidentally, Layton noted that his contacts with some folk in the professional graphics trade indicate that Epson is considered to be the prime quality printer with those who make their living with graphics output.

After the roundtable, we turned to our discussion of broadband internet access. While we had a good discussion, the final result is pretty clear. So far, no one of the attendees has cable modem service and three of them have DSL (one from Conectiv and two from Verizon). These latter have been satisfactory services - tho the startup has been rocky!

For the rest of the attendees, the key parameter is that the monthly fees are felt to be too high to justify the move. With one exception, none had yet investigated the availability of broadband in their area; so we could not judge how widely available it might actually be (especially since the vendors do not actually come out and identify where it is offered - you really have to investigate for your specific location).

With not a lot of time available, we briefly glanced at Karen Kenworthy's POWER TOOLS CD. As mentioned in the last issue, this CD contains all her Power Tools, plus the source code (in Visual Basic 6) for them. It also has all the columns ahe has written for Windows Magazine (defunct), the Winmag.com wesite (defunct) and on her own since the demise of the website. The CD is available fo $30 directly from her website - check it out at: www.karenware.com

Both of the CDs described in last month's issue will be on hand for future meetings, in case of questions from attendees.


WINDOWS TIPS

Some tips to help perk up your system: #1, if you use Microsoft Office and #2 for most any anti-virus software, #3 for most anyone and #4 for those with home networks.

#1) DISABLE FINDFAST

Delete the Findfast icon from your Startup folder. Click on Start, Programs, Startup. Then right-click on it & choose Delete

#2) MAKE SURE VIRUS SCANNERS AREN'T SCANNING ALL FILES ON YOUR HARD DRIVE

To save system resources, set your virus scanner to only scan executables when running in the background (when you do a separate full system scan, as the foreground task, then you can choose all files), or turn off background scanning altogether and regularly scan your files manually.

#3 YOU CAN STOP WINDOWS FROM ASKING IF YOU ARE SURE YOU WANT TO ENTER CERTAIN FOLDERS

Delete the hidden folder.htt & desktop.ini files located in your Windows folder.

#4 USING SWITCHES INSTEAD OF HUBS CAN NEARLY TRIPLE YOUR BANDWIDTH

If you have a local area ethernet network, spend a few extra $$$ to get a network SWITCH instead of the regular HUB. The switch allows each of your computer links to operate at maximum thruput, completely independent of what any of the other systems are doing.


BUYING TIP.....

Are you in the market for memory for your existing computer? If so, a very useful assist is offered by the website: www.crucial.com - the MICRON memory people.

They have a huge database of computers and list exactly what type of memory is correct for the specific model. For example, I have an older (W1997) model IBM Aptiva PC. When I looked it up at this website, it listed not just the model (a 2161) but a whole slew of minor model variants (i.e. the 2161 C8H)! And, the memory I got from that advice worked! Their prices seem to be very competitive and they give free 2-day FedEx!

Thanks to John Murphy for pointing this one out.


GoDot & Other News!!

by: Peter Whinnery

Good news for you C-64 graphics guys: (The 1st paragraph was traslated from German with a web translator.)

On the 9th of September, 2001

Since the 5th of September GoDot is Public Domain! After consultation with all previous distributors I have myself to this decision durchgerungen. Now it can be handed on in all PD archives and on club diskettes. Single condition: Godot May be chan ged not without my permission for a public distribution. I have provided two versions to the download: a minimal installation on a D64 file which contains the fully functional system, but only the allerwichtigsten modules and a full installation on s ix D64 files which corresponds to the previous full version. All files are geZIPpt. Part of the PD distribution is a short BASIC program which explains(expresses) the manipulation GoDot'S shortly ("RUN.ME").

It is continued, no anxious! And now: a lot of joy!

(And for the Basic programmers out there, more good news) ->

Hello dear Commodorians,

I decided to also (besides GoDot) release a very old project of mine - it was the predecessor of GoDot - to the public domain: my BASIC interpreter TSB which is short for "Tuned Simons' Basic". The name says what it is. It is almost 100% compatible t o the original, but lacks its desastrous bugs and incompletenesses. There are many additional commands and functions programmers will surely appreciate (about 30). The code wasn't patched but completely new- written. In spite of that every orginal SB program will most likely run under TSB (some exceptions of course). Who knows SB will like TSB.

The disk contains some demo programs to showcase some of these new commands, and a short description of what has changed as compared to SB. I hope TSB will be a handy contribution to the C64 pool of useful tools.

Have fun! Comments appreciated! Download from my GoDot site.

Arndt +------------------------------+ + Arndt Dettke + + GoDot C64 Image Processing + + http://www.GoDot64.de + + support@GoDot64.de + +------------------------------+ 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.

[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 of the building.

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


64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  2001/02  Steering Committee Meetings

                      November 10                       November 14 ***
                      December 8                        December 12
                      January 12                        January 16

     * = first Saturday     *** = 2nd Wednesday 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