Main Line Computer Users Group


Dec 2001 Issue 235

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - DEC 8 th

HOLIDAYS & TIME FOR CHEERS!


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

This month we plan to continue the "tradition" of the last few years with a party for attendees. We WILL have announcements and problem solving. Maybe even some gift ideas???

AND, there will be a plethora of goodies - hopefully to be matched by lots of members turning out to share them! And, do not hesitate to bring along a guest that might be interested in becoming a part of our planned for future.

There will also be raffle prizes - see the next article for details on a new wrinkle on prizes! We hope they will be most interesting to you.

With all the festivities, we do not plan a single big program item. But, we'd like to have folks tell us (possibly demo?) software that they have found to be particularly useful, interesting or fun. Remember, if you like it, there's a good chance others will, too.

I have one such to cover. And, there was a fine assemblage of free/shareware programs written up in the December 2001 issue of PC World magazine. They called it "Darn Good Software, Doggone Cheap" - 20-plus winners! There are definitely some winners there that we can talk about and show. Grab the issue and see what you think about their offerings (p.6)

Come to the show! Bring your thoughts!


THE RAFFLE - YEAR 2001

Thru the generosity of long time member, Charlie Curran, we have an outstanding selection of raffle prizes for this year. To help improve the tresury and give attendees a chance to go for a prize of particular interest to them, we are going to try a little different tack.

For starters, we have five main prizes: a Linksys 10/100 USB Ethernet Adapter; a Keyspan PCI 2- Port USB Card; a Jamcam 3 640x480, USB/serial digital camera; an IBM PCXpress 320x240 USB webcam and an Inland Optical PS/2 scroll mouse

There will be separate boxes for raffle tickets for each prize; so attendees can put as many or as few tickets in box(es) for prizes of interest to them. (cont'd.)

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A COMMODORE HISTORY - IX

A large number of Commodore gaming enthusiasts were also drawn away in mid to late 80's as Nintendo and Sega began to market their 8-bit game systems which were somewhat simpler and easier to use (but in many ways less versatile) gaming systems.

The Commodore computers had permeated the U.S. and foreign markets very substantial by 1985. By the late 1980's, somewhere near 10 million Commodore 64 compatible machines had been produced and distributed when sales began to rapidly decline. Probably 70 or 80 percent of the Commodore 64 compatible machines manufactured were 64 and 64c models and only about 20 or 30 percent were 128 models. Less than 5 percent of them were the SX-64 machines. It is probably safe to say that the Commodore 64 was the best selling computer model ever made by a single manufacturer-- if judged by number of units sold. Commodore's demise was largely a result of poor marketing and external market forces-- not lack of development.

The Commodore Plus 4

Of course, not all of Commodore's products were big hits. Commodore made several products which were fantastic ideas (in their own right) but never actually caught on because of poor timing or other unpredictable factors. One of these was the Commodore Plus 4 computer. The Commodore Plus 4 had been developed on the heels of Commodore's great initial success with the Commodore 64. The Plus 4 was very nice because it was smaller and had built-in software applications. Despite being a very beautiful little computer with many excellent features, it never really became popular probably because it wasn't very compatible with the large base of software which had already been developed for the Commodore 64. Many (but not all) software manufacturers seemed hesitant to want to invest development efforts for this computer when there were so many who already owned Commodore 64 computers who were clamoring for software.

Among other Commodore 8-bit products which never caught on well were the Commodore 16, the B- 128, the SFD-1001 disk drive, and several others.

The Amiga 500

Perhaps the biggest heartbreak of all of Commodore's efforts centered around the 16-bit Amiga computer which had initially been developed by a separate company. Commodore acquired or bought out the Amiga technology from its original developers and began developing and marketing Amiga computers during the mid 1980's. The Amiga computers were based on the Motorola 68000 processor and were somewhat akin to the Macintosh. The extreme power, user-friendliness, multi-tasking abilities, incredible graphics and (stereo) sound, along with built-in speech synthesis were way ahead of the competition. Many Commodore 64 and 128 owners immediately realized the potential of the Amiga and decided to acquire one. It appeared to many-- for a while-- that Commodore could actually retain a dominant position in the market place with the Amiga being such an obviously superior computer to any of the home computers of the time. Unfortunately, the lack of a diverse software base came back to haunt the Amiga as people chose to stay with inferior hardware and operating systems in order to stay compatible with the large number of IBM and Macintosh systems and software products which had taken over the business world despite still not being particularly well suited for home use.

Much of the downfall of Commodore stemmed from poor marketing, lack of dominance in the business sector, competition from other gaming systems, poor support, poor management, and growing competition. Commodore tried to expand into the IBM compatible market in the late 1980's with the PC compatible PC-10, PC-20, Colt, and even a 286 notebook computer and a few other machines which had only meager success.

[To be continued - Part X next time]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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HOLIDAYS... - this is the traditional time of the year when folks reflect on their situations. In spite of the travails of the last three months, we are still very fortunate to live where we do and in the society that we do.

Let's hope for a continuation of our good circumstances and real improvements for those so much less fortunate!!

RENEWAL TIME - is here! Because of the upcoming anniversary, we decided to contact all our current members by separate letter to encourage them to renew for another year. Hopefully, that move will be beneficial. If YOU have not yet renewed, check your pockets for some $$$ between the seasonal gifts and send them off to our treasurer - details on the back page, or use the form that came in the mailing to you.

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 have not yet firmed up just how we can celebrate hanging on this long; so any thoughts you'd like to offer will be gratefully received. Pass any on at the meetings, or to one of the steering members (see p.7), if you can't be at meetings.

HANGING ON - speaking of this subject, we got word that another of the old timey Commodore clubs has folded its tent. This time it was the four C's, the CCCC (Colorado Commodore Computer Club). I know that many others have quietly expired and we have not heard about it; the ranks are getting thinner. I'm feeling pretty sure that if we had not changed the type of support we provide to our users, we'd be in the same boat.

Hopefully, with continued participation from renewing, and an occasional new? member, we can continue our particular form of user support.

BROADBAND: - as of this writing, the big news in broadband is the recent judicial ruling that permits Excite@Home to shut down its cable modem service to millions of users across the nation!! It remains to be seen if some last minute solution will present itself, but I have a feeling that Comcast's recent note that internet imminent in our area, may be not so!

DRIVE IMAGE - this utility that we have demoed in the past and use for backing up the various OSes on the club machine has been updated. It is now out in version 5. We'll take a look at it to scope if real improvements have been made in it. The vendor, Powerquest, has also updated its flagship product, Partition Magic, which is now to version 7. Has any member acquired this one? If so, tell us about it.

WINDOWS XP - any members encountered it? Anyone purchase a new PC recently, that came with XP pre-installed? Tell us about your experience.

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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RAFFLE CONT'D.

from p.1 - Assuming that enough tickets get offered for a prize, then we'll have a drawing for that prize. We decided to try this to assure that some significant value to the club results from the prizes available. This way that value can be shared between the member and the treasury.

Our inventory has more nice prizes; and, if this mode goes over, we expect to have mimi-raffles in the next few meetings. As long as the prizes hold out, that is!

As in past events, the raffle tickets will be $1 (or 6 for $5).

Shall we see you at the meeting - for fun, learning, goodies and prizes???

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MEMBERS HELPING MEMBERS

By Emil Volcheck

As some of you know, I run a "clone" of the MLCUG BBS down at the Mt. Cuba Observatory near Wilmington.

It runs on an Amiga 1200, with internal hard drive and has served me well.

Recently, I attempted to add a SCSI zip drive to it to use for backup purposes.

However, during the installation of the drivers for the SCSI interface and the zip drive itself, the Amiga hiccuped!

I could still run the BBS, but booting or re-booting brought up error messages and interruption in the boot. And, the zip drive was not accessible.

So, our BBS guru, John Deker, made the trek down to Wilmington and worked on clearing up the difficulties - which now appear to relate to some, possibly previously, corrupted file(s) on the hard drive. After a couple of hours, the system was running nicely, accessing its "new" zip drive and transferring files as desired!

Thanks to John's good offices, I should have some more protection against future problems (assuming, that is, that I'm diligent about using this new backup capability!)!!

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USEFUL FREE/SHAREWARE?

No contributions were received on this topic from any member since the last issue and meeting. We'll be reviewing a bunch at the meeting - but NOT based on member feedback.

It's hard to believe there is not some utility or application that you find especially worthwhile - that is FREEware or low cost SHAREware

So, how about some recommendation(s)? Give me a buzz, leave a post on the BBS, or email me at emilv@ccil.org. Take a glim at the last article this month, where I've summarized the PC World item mentioned in the p.1 meeting announcement.

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LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
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For November, we had 19 attendees (18 members and 1 guest) - more than usual and it taxed the capacity of the meeting room. Also, contributed to a rather lively session!

During the announcements session, Pete Whinnery noted that the club webpage has a couple of new C= links - related to the recent discussions on using a Zip drive with a CMD hard drive. Pete tracked down a couple of sources for the items that CMD sold off as they exited the C= part of their business.

Take a look at the updates at: astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/

Sources for some bargains (Layton mentioned that MicroCenter had a great deal on a video manipulation card, webcam, etc. and also on keyboards; Pete mentioned that Cheap Bytes was a good source of Linux distributions).

Refilling ink cartridges got mentioned by Layton - re the newer Epson ones that have a microchip in them - and by Ed - re successful (tho messy) refilling of an HP model.

On the subject of printers, Hines asked for some advice on low cost laser printers, primarily for text work. He was interested in the new HP 1000. But, he got suggestions to consider the Samsung line (as proven and low cost).

After discussing a couple of other problems, we had some time devoted to folks personal experiences with virus infestation and anti-virus software. I specifically described my recent receipt of a Word file sent as an attachment that contained a Word macro virus (W97M.Marker.gen) and that Norton anti-virus (v5 and v2000) had caught it. In the following discussion, the limited experience folks had leaned toward Norton as a good product in this aspect of virus protection.

The last main agenda item was to download the Zone Alarm (freeware) firewall, install and set it up on the club PC. A matter of a few minutes and all was working fine. We showed how it controls the outflow to the net. Because of being on the firewalled Villanova University network, we could not really test its fending off outside "attacks". But, I think the attendees got the clear message that this is quite an amazing product, especially for FREEware.

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WINDOWS TIP

The subject of Temporary Internet Files raises its head frequently. Below is a good comment on them and what you can do with them. The article is written by Dwayne Alton who is in charge of all the computers for the Ft. Myers, FL school system and is an EXPERT! (posted by Jim Hoffmann, member of the Wilmington-based PCUG and Florida-based SWFPCUG).

This response was based on the following query:

Subject: Temp Internet Files

"What exactly are Temp. Internet files. I looked at them and there are hundreds and if I click on any of them I get a message that it may be unsafe to open. Can I totally delete this file? Is there any problems I may encounter by doing this. Is there any other memory hogging files that I can delete."
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"Temporary Internet files are web pages, graphics, audio files, etc. that are cached on your computer (4by Microsoft Internet Explorer5). When you visit a web site your browser caches the data; so that if you browse the same page again later, it already has part of the data it needs without having to re-download it from the web. Essentially, it speeds up browsing, especially when browsing static web pages or sites that use the same graphics on several pages.

You can delete the Temporary Internet Files, although they will promptly show back up as soon as you start browsing the web. I don't recommend messing with them unless you really need to. Instead, you may want to consider just limiting the space that they can use. Personally, I limit the space to 30MB, but that is very small compared to the default setting (which is usually a certain percentage of your hard drive).

Anyway, if you want to limit the size:

(1) Click START>SETTINGS>CONTROL PANEL>INTERNET OPTIONS (2) In the "Temporary Internet Files" section, click on SETTINGS (3) Change the limit to whatever you want. 30 MB is what I would consider minimum. If you are using a dialup modem, I'd make it larger (4) After you have set the size, you'll be back at the INTERNET OPTIONS page.

Click on the "Delete Files" button.

This will delete what is in there and limit disk usage to whatever value you set. Now, that amount of space will always be taken up, so don't bother to keep deleting the temporary Internet files after that. Of course, if you have a new computer with a very large hard drive, all of this is not an issue.

Also, just to clarify: these are not "memory hogging files". They are simply taking up hard drive (storage) space, NOT system memory. Dwayne"

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Your fortune for today:

Imagine that Cray computer decides to make a personal computer. It has a 1500 MHz processor, 2000 megabytes of RAM, 1500 gigabytes of disk storage, a screen resolution of 4096 x 4096 pixels, relies entirely on voice recognition for input, fits in your shirt pocket and costs $300. What's the first question that the computer community asks?

"Is it PC compatible?"

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GOOD SOFTWARE, CHEAP
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from PC World, December, p.149

For your perusal, below is a listing of the freeware and shareware that the folks at PC World described in their article in the December 2001 issue.

They briefly discussed the programs and gave a source reference - somewhere on the web for it. The PC World site has pointers to many of them. So, here 'tis:

OFFICE

AbiWord, 3.4 MB "word processing wonder" www.abisource.com

Eprompter, 700 KB "got mail?" - email that is www.eprompter.com

Flow LT, 10.6 MB "uncharted territory" - flow charting www.imsisoft.com/free

Happy Calendar, 2 MB "days of our lives" www.jimjams.com/xhaca.html

ProjeX 97, 252 KB "project management 101" waa.inc.com

Publish-It, 1.3 MB "desktop publishing made easy" www.postersw.com/publish.html

StockVue 2001, 5.8 MB "track your portfolio" www.nqli.com

WordSmith, 2 MB "words are cheap" - PDA viewer www.bluenomad.com

WordWeb, 4.4 MB "what a way with words" www.wordweb.co.uk/free

UTILITIES

Ad-aware, 837 KB "kill adware dead" www.lavasoftusa.com

Cookie Crusher, 1.1 MB "the cookie patrol" www.thelimitsoft.com/cookie.html

EZ Antivirus, 3.9 MB "trusty virus defender" see find.pcworld.com/13220 www.my-etrust.com

PowerDesk, 1.1 MB "file management on steroids" www.ontrack.com/powerdesk

TweakUI, 65 KB "Microsoft techies tool" find.pcworld.com/12861

WebWasher, 1.2 MB "scrubbing off ads" www.webwasher.com

WindowBlinds, 1.3 MB "show some skin" - for Windows www.windowblinds.net

WinKey, 1.2 MB "rev up the Windows key" www.copernic.com/winkey

WinZip, 1 MB "handy zip/unzipper" www.winzip.com

ZoneAlarm, 2.8 MB "sheltered system" www.zonelabs.com

LEISURE

ACDSee, 11.3 MB "snappier snapshots" www.acdsee.com

MusicMatch Jukebox, 9.9 MB "play it again, Sam" www.musicmatch.com

SabreWing, 5 MB "gaming on the fly" www.sabrewing3d.com

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  2001/02  Steering Committee Meetings

                      December 8                        December 12 ***
                      January 12                        January 16
                      February 9                        February 13

* = 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