Main Line Computer Users Group


Jan 2002 Issue 236

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JAN 12 th

A NEW YEAR & MORE HELP!


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

This month we have a very, very special program planned. As a result, we'll begin with only a brief announcement period - sort of "must hear" type stuff. If we have time after the program, we can pick up the announcements and/or Q & A again.

As, presumably, all of you know, MLCUG has operated a BBS for its members and other interested Computer users for much of our history. It began with a C-64 and a 1541 disk drive or two. Then it was migrated to a flat C-128 which was its home for many years.

Then, a few years ago, it was again migrated - to an Amiga 2000. This system had a hard drive, accelerator card, etc. So, we have the speed capability for the fastest modems and an ample supply of hard drive space to house a significant library of files.

The software we run - called MAX's BBS - allows us to be platform independent (as was the EBBS we used on the 128) and provides a very versatile system. For the first time since we moved our meeting place to the St. Augustine Center, we will be having a full and complete demonstration of the BBS!!!

See more details below - BUT - plan to COME and get your questions about using it CLEARED UP! Our Sysop, John Deker, will be bringing the BBS right to the meeting, don't miss this opportunity!!!


THE MLCUG BBS for 2002!

While MLCUG has a very capable BBS system (and has had for many years), it is a highly underutilized resource. Even the current users take advantage of only a portion of its capabilities. We have been trying to rectify that situation for a long time. BUT, the inability to do real, live demos - especially since we moved our meeting place to the St. Augustine Center several years ago - has hampered our ability to promote its use and help our members get the full benefit from it.

It now appears that, AT LAST!, we can change that. Thru the efforts of Sysop, John Deker, and some fortuitous happenings, we will bring the BBS (cont'd.)

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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THE NEW YEAR! - well, I reckon we all made it thru the 2001->2002 time change (no shades of Y2K!) and have all our clocks right. Let's hope that this year is a lot better all around the planet than the one just finished!!!

From the looks of the first couple of days, the hackers, crackers and "malicious code" purveyors are going to give us a continuing run for our money!

And, not surprisingly, they will go for where they can cause the most havoc - that means Windows for personal users, Windows for business users and other large targets like AOL Time Warner (who have felt the first attack we heard about in 2002)!

Since the main emphasis of the club has become support of users of these large systems, it behooves us all to share our experiences and learnings to minimize the problems we are likely to face. Come on out to the meetings - we enjoy ourselves while we learn & share...

20TH ANNIVERSARY! - at last month's steering meeting, the leanings seem to be toward having a #20 celebration in April - hopefully to avoid any conflicts with schedules around Villanova. The most likely venue will be an off-site lunch - place and details TBD. If any member would like to help with arrangements, please do not hesitate to let us know. I'm sure help will be needed and appreciated.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY WWW!!
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From: Bob Weir

On Dec. 12, 1991, Paul Kunz sent an e-mail to Tim Berners-Lee asking him to try out SLAC's newly installed web server. Using NeXT computers (re: Steve Jobs and the core code of MacOS X), they started the World Wide Web!! [posted on the Appleworks listserv:ejv]

BROADBAND: - continues to be big news! AT&T, the largest cable service on the planet, sold that business to Comcast. So, the latter has now become #1, but in a much bigger way. Watch for further developments - and especially in our locale where Comcast is almost exclusively the cable provider and will aim to give all the phone companies a real run for the money!!!

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?

****************************************
Microsoft Update

[Got this tidbit of info via an email list for the Wilmington Delaware PC Users Group.ejv]

Most Recent Microsoft support information

December 2001 - Microsoft will cease to support:

MSDOS
Windows 3.xx
Windows NT 3.5x

Limited support for:

Windows 95
Windows 95 OSR1 and 2

June 2002 - Microsoft will end all support for:

Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 98 SE
Windows NT4x

Albert B. Winchell, President
Southwest Florida PC User Group

Hopefully, we can find out a bit more about just what this means. Hard to envision that Microsoft would give up totally on its founding technology (MS-DOS - that IBM provided the wherewithall lo these many years ago. About twenty years ago; so it really hasn't been THAT long...)

****************************************
THE MLCUG BBS

to the meeting! We plan - as announced - to devote the bulk of the session to showing off and answering queries about the system and how YOU can take advantage of it, no matter WHAT COMPUTER PLATFORM you use!

Starting from square one, John will cover the following aspects of the system and its use:

1. Introduction: Why use the BBS?

Comparison with the Internet

2. The demo hardware setup and differences from the actual BBS

3. The jargon: ASCII, ANSI, VT100, Upload, Download; Zmodem, Ymodem, Xmodem Modem, Baud, Bits/sec, XON/XOFF, CTS/RTS, etc.

4. Installing Hyperterminal (the free terminal emulator included with your version of Windows)

5. Configuring Hyperterminal

6. Connecting to the BBS

7. Personal BBS profile settings

8. BBS navigation

9. Reading msgs - single & bulk

10. Posting msgs - line editor vs FSE

11. Selecting & downloading files

12. Uploading files

13. Attaching & grabbing files

14. Q&A session

Remember, this is intended to be a real tutorial demonstration. So, bring all your own questions and DO NOT HESITATE to ask when something you see is not clear to you.

NOTE: the demo will use a PC running Windows, as the user system; but the BBS is NOT sensitive to the user system. So, if you are using a 64 or 128, a Mac, a Linux box or any other platform, you should be able to locate a terminal emulator that will run on it. Your editor uses Dialogue 128 on his C-128D, Telix on his IBM compatibles and ZTerm on his PowerMac. After the main demo, we can address other terminal emulators (or at future meetings).

Only if everyone gets comfortable can we hope to make current users more facile and bring more members to user status...

As many old(er) timers are aware, the BBS is a dying breed. But, ours is still alive and kicking - we hope, after this meeting, that you'll decide to take advantage of it.

****************************************
UPDATE ON THE CLUB PC

By Emil Volcheck

Following the December meeting, I took the club PC home for a major rework.

The objective being to reduce or eliminate the multi-partitioned operating system arrangement (that handles W95, W98, WMe and Linux on two hard drives). It would be replaced with a more expensive; but interesting, swappable hard drive setup.

So, I first ran scandisk and defrag on the Win partitions, then used Drive Image 4.0 to put an image of all five partitions (the 4 OSes plus the D drive) on CD-R discs.

Then I opened the box, removed the 5 GB original hard drive, leaving the second 10 GB drive in its spot in one internal 3.5" drive bay. Next, I rearranged the rest of the drives; so I could position the drive swapping tray as near to the 10 GB drive as possible. After hooking everything back up, I inserted the 5 GB drive in a removable case that slides into the hard drive swap tray.

This resulted in the following drive arrangement in the club PC - running from top to bottom of the mid-tower case:

8x4x32 CD-RW drive 5.25" external

empty 5.25" ext.

5 GB hard drive 5.25" swappable

Floppy drive 3.5" ext.

100 MB SCSI zip drive 3.5" ext.

10 GB hard drive 3.5" internal

These are all the bays available in our mid-tower case.

Next came Partition Magic 4.01 used to partition the 10 GB into a D drive (W 3 GB) and an E drive (W 7 GB). The former D drive info from the CD-R was restored to the new D partition with Drive Image.

Then, I restored the Win95B partition to the 5 GB drive, making it the new C drive.

Finally, I pulled the 5 GB, stuck in a spare 3.1 GB that I had and restored the Win98 SE partition to it.

So, now we can swap between these two OSes by swapping the drives with no chance for any interferences between OSes or needing a startup manager.

Don't know if it is better, but it is newer!

Now I need a donation of a 3 GB or so drive or two to make our OS suite complete. Any takers (or should I say givers)?

We'll see how she does at the January meeting, if time permits after the big demo of the MLCUG BBS .

****************************************
USEFUL FREE/SHAREWARE?

Since our last meeting, members Nelson Schrock and Pete Whinnery told us about some of their favorites:

#1 for me would have to be one that I downloaded from the MLCUG BBS, it's End It All. I have downloaded the newer version, but I much prefer the older version. The newer one gives you much more control over what you can shut off. My problem is that I usually shut off something that makes the machine crash! I never had that problem with the older version. [NS]

#2 would be Music Matchbox Jukebox. I use it as the default for all of my audio needs & use it to remix CD's. I sometimes find that there are some tracks on CD's that I don't like. I "rip" the tracks from the CDs and then burn them onto a CD-R. [NS]

#3 is a program called Mailwasher. I found that through the Langalist. I can screen my incoming emails. I also use Eudora, which is basically a freebie. [NS]

#1 - dare I say it? Linux! [PW]

#2 - I have been using AbiWord on Linux for a year or so now. I use it mostly to read MS Word files. [PW] (Note: AbiWord was highlighted in last month's "Good Free Stuff" article:ejv)

Any others that you'd like to tell folks about? Leave a post on the BBS, or email me. And, if the app is not giant, you might want to put a freeware or shareware item in the club's BBS file library...

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

Firstly, December's meeting was attended by about 18 folks. Most, if not all of whom have renewed for 2002. So, they represented 70% of the renewals!

Secondly, altho things got a bit hectic at times, I think everyone who came not only enjoyed the meeting (with more comraderie than usual), but probably even learned something, too. Our announcements, questions and answers session (A, Q & A) occupied essentially the whole program.

Thirdly, special thanks need to go to Charlie Curran for being: 1) our angel for the fine set of raffle prizes and part of the door prizes and 2) for providing some much of the accoutrements of the vittles we had. Without his generosity, things would have been leaner and a lot tougher!

Fourthly, special thanks to Marty Caulfield. Since Charlie is still rather incapacitated, Marty took on the hauling, helping to setup, helping to take down/cleanup and return the truckload of stuff we had. His contributions made things a whole lot easier. Oh yes, and his CD of hints and tips even worked!

Fifthly, while we did not have much in the way of demos (except checking the net for various tidbits as they came up in the discussion), John Murphy's brand new toy - the dedicated CD-ROM duplicator that he had had all of one day - was a neat show. We'll try to ahve more info on it for others who might have a need for such a widget.

Sixthly, the treasury got a nice bump up from another 4-5 renewals at the meeting, plus the proceeds of the raffle (around $100). This will aid in giving us a slightly bigger cushion for any hard/software emergency for the near term. Also, because Charlie donated more stuff than we could conveniently raffle off, we may be able to have smaller events at upcoming meetings to add a bit more to the cushion.

December 8th was a very enjoyable meeting. I hope the upcoming holidays and the new year will also be so for all of you.

****************************************
DSL and/or CABLE Modem

The following "tutorial summary" came from Ray Madison, a former MLCUG member, via a contact by Nelson Schrock:
------------------------------

"I have been involved in Broadband for about two years. My computer & internet activity includes a lot of file transfers, both uploading AND downloading of sometimes large files. I desperately needed a faster way of transferring files. I inquired about ISDN, but couldn't find anyone to handle it. Then I found out about DSL service by accident, and found it was available in my area. DSL was great, web pages slamming you in the face, super fast downloads. Although my download speed was quite impressive, I found out that it was, in fact, very slow. My upload speed was even worse, not getting further than 90kpbs. When the net got crowded, my speed was reduced even more. It was about that time I started hearing about Cable Modem, internet through the television cable network. I met a lot of cable modem subscribers through the network. Mostly every cable modem subscriber that I met wanted DSL instead of Cable. We started trading notes, and I started doing research on both, trying to either improve my DSL service or switching to cable modem after carefully comparing the two.

So you ask yourself - "Which do I want, Cable Modem or DSL?"

Actually, in most areas, you won't find both available, it's either one or the other, or neither. First, let's begin with DSL. The type of service the common consumer would get is ADSL as opposed to SDSL. The difference between the two is ADSL's upload speed is considerably slower ( usually max 90K) than the download speed. SDSL's speed is the same in both directions, and is more expensive than ADSL. At the time I first signed up for DSL service, Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) was the only place in town to get DSL. Since then other competitors have popped up, but they all have basically have the same price (around $40 - $50 per month). The bad part is, in order to get DSL service, you MUST have basic telephone service provided by Verizon. DSL is a service that's provided through your copper wired phone line. If your telephone network is fiber optic, then DSL won't work. Your maximum DSL speed largely depends on the distance between you and the telephone company's "Central Office", the point at which your telephone line is actually connected to the TELCO. There's at least one in each neighborhood and is designated by the local prefix in your phone number. Example (XXX-YYY-ZZZZ) XXX = Area Code, YYY = Central Office, ZZZZ = your phone number. The maximum distance between your home and the TELCO's CO is 13,000 ft, or about 3 miles. That's where my problem came in. I was at the maximum distance from the CO, and I couldn't get the speed any faster. And, quite surprisingly, it was suggested by a couple of phone company techs that I get Cable modem as opposed to DSL. If you're lucky enough to be located across the street from the CO, then you just might have T1 to T3 speed.

DSL is introduced into the home via the regular phone lines. That's right, your phone line is set up to handle your analog phone traffic AND hi-speed DSL service at the same time without interfering with each other. What happens is that you install "traps" or "Screens" on all analog devices. These are placed between the device and the phone line. This keeps out the high speed and keep it from bothering the analog devices. Your DSL modem is connected to the phone line and to your computer's Ethernet card. That's one of the good things about DSL, you don't need that extra phone line You can be on the internet and talk on the phone at the same time without one interfering with the other. Another plus about DSL is the speed tends to be more stable than cable modem. The downer about DSL is that it works with only copper wired systems, it is NOT compatible with fiber optic systems.

Cable Modem, on the other hand, is considerably faster in both uploading & downloading. It's introduced through your fiber optic cable system. Cable modem's speed is not quite as stable as DSL's because the connection is shared with others in the neighborhood. DSL has a "dedicated" connection, where Cable Modem's connection is shared, meaning the more users logged on at the same time, the slower the modem speed. I was told by Comcast that my speed would never drop below 600K. They lied. One night, my speed was about 250K, but for the most part, my speed is from 1 meg to 4 meg.

The good thing about BOTH systems is there's no busy signals, no answers, etc. They are both "constantly connected", but with DSL, you must log on. Cable modem doesn't require login unless you're checking mail, and doesn't require a "logoff". Finally, DSL requires you use their specific modem where with cable modem, you can buy any good cable modem to work with the system."

Raymond A. Madison, Sr
(Black Saber/Rotten Ray)
PA-USAICQ# 49533716
NetMeeting: ramsr.no-ip.com
home.talkcity.com/ComputerCt/rotray/ 
While the above summary covers some important attributes of conventional DSL and cable, there is an additional flavor of DSL (called iDSL) that is a variant of the older ISDN type service.

This technology differs from the sort of DSL that you get from Verizon, etc. in that:

   - it is not limited to 3 miles 
     (I'm about 5 miles from the CO)
   - it is slower (my upper limit is 
     about 144K)
   - it comes in a separate phone line
   - it is always on, no dialup ever
   - it is available in even fewer 
     places than regular xDSL
However, since neither ADSL, SDSL nor cable are available in my area, it is the only broadband that works for us. And, it does work pretty nicely - we've had it since May 2000 - and it gets a real workout around here with three on-line gamers in the house!!!

So, if you are in this geographic or economic situation, try checking for this special flavor of broadband [Emil Volcheck].

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/

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64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  2002  Steering Committee Meetings

                      January 12                        January 16 **
                      February 9                        February 13
                      March 9                           March 13

     * = 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