Main Line Computer Group


April 2002 Issue 239

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - APR 13 th

Who's into YOUR stuff?


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

As the minutes show, we took the majority of the last meeting on Q&A and shortchanged the main subject a bit. However, since there is an awful lot to the subject of Internet Security, we can devote some more quality time to that area this time round. So, we'll start things off with covering any special announcements, then jump immediately to the main topic.

First, we will devote some time to clearing up any questions on installing or using the two utilities that we installed at the last meeting: "Norton Anti-Virus v5" and "Zone Alarm v2.6.362" firewall. That will include the question, "why do you need/want a firewall anyway? And, if you are using Windows XP, why get a 3rd party firewall, since it has its own?

Second, I'd like to foster some general discussion on experiences, good or bad or problems, with using security software. That would mean either of the above - or similar products from other vendors. With the bumper crop of "malicious code" going around, surely some MLCUG members have gotten bit! This should be your chance to get and/or give help; so don't be shy! Bring those questions and experiences...

Third, how about some input on better helping our new/novice companions?


INTERNET HOAXES

This is something I got recently and feel that all users of the net should pay close attention. So, please read this, before you send out things to other people. Everyone is getting enough spam already. Don't forward it on to others. [originally posted by Don Patridge on the ClarisWorks listserv]

From: Dawn D'Angelillo
Subject: Eds Up! #207

Last week, I wrote about Internet hoaxes and chain letters in another newsletter, and it was so well received that I decided to rerun it in "Eds Up!" [cont'd.]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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WELCOME ! - to two new members for MLCUG: Frank Gannon of Haverford and Jack Ryan of Wyndmoor. We hope they will take part in our meetings and join in the learning, and helping, we try to do.

TRENTON COMPUTER FESTIVAL - the TCF 2002 will be held on May 4-5 at the NJ Convention Center in Edison NJ. The full bulletin is reproduced on p.7-8. Any MLCUG member who attends is urged to take notes, written or mental, and tell us about it at the May meeting. Perhaps, even writeup a short summary of the key happenings for the newsletter - hint?

NEW/NOVICE USERS - your steering committee is seeking member input on how we can better help the N/N members of MLCUG. It's not always convenient, or possible, to have the time during a presentation to fill in ALL the knowledge gaps amongst ALL the attendees. As a result, we know there are questions folks come away with from the meetings. How might we best approach filling that gap? If you have any suggestion(s), please bring them up at meetings (the sooner, the better) or get them to a committee member (see p.9 for names).

LUNCH - a half dozen or so of the regular attendees, usually tackle lunch at the Villanova Diner after the meeting. Why not join us? It is a good time to get a little more help (or give it) and just to have fun talking about our common interests. The food is really pretty good, too.


INTERNET HOAXES - from p.1

As I was beginning to write this newsletter, I received an e-mail warning of dire effects from a particular virus. Since the e-mail mentioned Macs as being affected, I became particularly nervous. The e-mail warning encouraged the reader to pass the warning on to everyone on his or her address list. This sounded like a good idea. Shouldn't I warn people? I started to think of the thousands of e-mail addresses I have. I would be saving so many people from a tragic end. That's when my co-marketer, Tom, sent along a notice that the warning was false.

I'm the type of person who breaks every single chain letter I've ever received. In the "old days," chain letters were sent by mail. It was easier to throw the letter away than to think of ten people and their addresses, find envelopes, buy stamps, etc. But with e-mail, passing on information takes an instant. It's almost easier to pass on the information to others than it is to process it. You probably have received numerous hoaxes from well-meaning friends and family and perhaps have passed them on. Perhaps you still worry about the message -- threats of kidneys being stolen or sunscreen causing blindness or a dying child who needs help.

Tom pointed me in the direction of a site that tracks Internet/e-mail hoaxes, called the CIAC of the DOE. Translated out of government speak, this is Computer Incident Advisory Capability of the Department of Energy site. It's true that hoaxes don't really cause damage, but they are still time-consuming and costly to remove from all the systems where they exist. Hoaxes and chain letters just add to the amount of information that we try desperately to keep up with each day. In a sense, they overload the people who read them as well as the mail servers that send them along.

How to Recognize a Hoax

The first sign of a hoax is a request to "send this to everyone you know" or some variant of that statement. This should raise a red flag that the warning message is probably a hoax. No real warning message from a credible source will tell you to send it to everyone you know.

Next, look at what makes a successful hoax. There are two known factors that make a successful hoax:

  1. technical sounding language
  2. credibility by association
For example, the hoax that I received had contact information from someone at IBM. However, in closer examination, the contact info didn't have an area code for the phone number. Doesn't everyone sending e-mail know that the receiver might not know the area code for the sender's city?

Recognizing a Chain Letter

Chain letters and most hoax messages have a similar pattern. From the older printed letters to the newer electronic kind, they all have three recognizable parts:

The Hook

First, there is a hook to catch your interest and get you to read the rest of the letter. Hooks used to be "Make Money Fast" or "Get Rich" or similar statements related to making money for little or no work. Electronic chain letters also use the "free money" type of hooks, but have added hooks like "Danger!" and "Virus Alert" or "A Little Girl Is Dying." These tie in to our fear for the survival of our computers or our sympathy for some unfortunate person.

The Threat

When you are hooked, you read on to the threat. Most threats used to warn you about the terrible things that will happen if you do not maintain the chain. However, others play on greed or sympathy to get you to pass on the letter. The threat often contains official or technical sounding language to get you to believe it is real.

The Request

Finally, the request. Some older chain letters ask you to mail a dollar to the top ten names on the letter and then pass it on. The electronic ones simply admonish you to "Distribute this letter to as many people as possible." They never mention clogging the Internet or the fact that the message is a fake, they only want you to pass it on to others.

Only the original writer knows the intent of the hoax -- perhaps to inundate someone with e-mail or to just see how far the letter will go. So before you join in and send along a message to thousands, take a moment to think about the validity of the message. Imagine that you had to find 10 envelopes, buy stamps, and address the letters to your friends ... would you still send along the mail?

Here's a scam that sends you to a porn site:

Lions Den virus

The hoax/spam appears to come from "Dave Norton, VirusCenter@CNN.com." It claims "CNN brings you information on the new devastating computer virus known as the 'Lions Den' virus. This virus is reported to be costing internet providers such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo and Earthlink millions of dollars due to loss of members."

The e-mail then provides a link "for more details and information on how you can protect your computer." Anyone gullible enough to want to know more will go directly to a porn site.

The hoax/spam appears to come from CNN to make it look more legitimate. It's just the latest attempt by an unscrupulous person to exploit the value of computer virus hysteria.

Here are some sites where you can find out more about hoaxes, chain letters, urban legends, and e-mail scams (looking through the list, I know that I have seen almost all of them in some format and I'll admit that I believed a lot of them!).

  http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/HoaxBustersHome.html
  http://www.vmyths.com/
  http://www.snopes.com/
  http://www.breakthechain.org/


MUSIC ON YOUR PC ??

Are you a music buff? Do you play music CDs on your computer? Do you use the Windows Media Player 8? If so, have you checked the "privacy policy"?

If you do, you'll likely find that the names of the songs you play and, also, the movies you watch with WMP are being logged by Microsoft. To quote an AP release about a month ago, "the system creates a list on each computer that could be a treasure for marketing companies, lawyers or others." It goes on to say that "Microsoft says it has no plans to sell the data collected by Media Player 8, which comes free with the Windows XP operating system."

Microsoft did change its privacy policy to indicate that the information is being collected. Period. Now doesn't that make you much more comfortable?


WANTED!

Emil Volcheck is looking for 2-3 smaller hard drives - in the size range of 2 GB minimum to 8 GB max, for some older PCs he's upgrading. If anyone has something to offer, please call at 610- 388-1581. Or, if you know a possible source for same.

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LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
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We had 14 attendees for March's meeting, after the stragglers made it in.

We had to report that three regulars are unable to make it due to illness or other physical limitations: Charles Curran, Hines Mathews and Chauncey Westbrook.

After a few announcements, we started round the table and spent nearly 1.5 hours on questions and problems (solving some of the latter, we hope). The bulk of the problems that attendees brought up related to email and internet browsers. They covered different browsers, different ISPs and different website behavior. We'll have to try to make some order out of it all to figure out how to address so many problems, lots of which keep cropping up.

The main meeting topic related to on-line security - which seems to be looming as an ever-larger problem infesting more and more users. Because of the fairly long discussion, we were barely able to install a couple of tools; but NOT cover a lot about their use. Hopefully, we can do that next time.

Recently, we started using the Windows 98 SE partition (instead of our long standing Win 95B) on the club machine - as a result of this change, we had a fairly pristine OS to work with; so:

That wound up the meeting - next time we can, hopefully, spend some time on discussing folk's experience and questions about these aspects of security. I further hope folks will bring up MORE security-related topics to round out the subject.


SMART COMPUTING Q&A Of The Day: March 18, 2002

Q. Is there an upper limit to the size of the hard drive that Windows 98 or 98 SE can handle? It seems I've seen on the back of some hard drive packages that 20 Gigs is the limit for 98 and 30 Gigs for 98SE.

A1. Charles, this support page at Western Digital should answer your questions with the limitations of Windows 98 SE.

http://support.wdc.com/tips/index.asp?tip=69& font>amp;static=y

A2. According to this article, which was written back when 95B was just coming out, the limit is at 2 TB, that is "Terabytes" with FAT32.

Operating System limitation

With the increase in disk drive size, there is another limitation that affects the user that cannot be corrected by updating the BIOS. This is due to an inherent limitation within the operating systems. The most widely used are Windows 3.x and Windows 95. Most versions of these operating systems only support a maximum partition size of 2.1 GB. This means that drives over 2.1 GB will have to be partitioned into several logical drives, C:, D:, and so on. So, 8.4 GB drives will require at least 4 logical drives.

Microsoft has provided an extended file system support as a solution. They have increased the addressing bits in the File Allocation Table (FAT) from 16 bits (FAT16) to 32 bits (FAT32) which allows for much larger logical drive sizes, up to 2.2 TB. Unfortunately, the new extended file system is only supported in the very latest versions of Windows 95, called OSR2.x. This release of the Windows operating system is only being offered directly through system manufacturers and is not sold to the general public for upgrading current systems.

To check if a version of Windows 95 supports the extended file system (FAT32), select:

-START -> SETTINGS -> CONTROL PANEL
-Double click on the SYSTEM icon
-Look under GENERAL
-If SYSTEMS PROPERTIES shows:
    *4.00.950b - This version supports
     the extended file system (FAT32)
    *4.00.950 or 4.00.950a - version
     only supports FAT16
Windows 98 should be able to support FAT32, but this is dependent on how Microsoft intends to release it. Microsoft may choose to release a FAT32 version only to system manufacturers and offer a FAT16 version for sale to end users as a system upgrade.

What's the next limitation?

The next limitation with the ATA interface should occur at 137 GB. (Some systems and operating systems may encounter other unforeseen limitations before this.) At 137 GB, the 28 bits of addressing on the ATA bus run out. Some possible solutions for this problem follow:

1. The ATA's Feature Register could be used to add an additional 8 bits giving 28+8=36 or 35.2 TB of addressable space.

2. The size of each sector could be increased. For example, a sector size of 4096 bytes would increase the maximum size of the drives to 2.2 TB.

3. The industry could switch to a completely different interface. The IEEE 1394 interface ("Firewire") is the most likely candidate and may gain popularity before one of the other options needs to be implemented.


NEW & NOVICE MEMBERS

The following article by our old friend, Reid Goldsborough, appeared in the Business Section of The Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday, March 18, 2002. I thought it might be a good article under the heading above.

[submitted by Martin W. Caulfield]

How to learn what every PC user needs to Know

Research has shown that those who are least comfortable with computer technology have the least knowledge of it. Those who have undergone training or taught themselves are less stressed and are better able to take advantage of PCs. Makes sense.

Even experts don't know all the tricks. What follows are the ways -- some common sense, some not -- for beginners, as well as advanced users to bone up on personal computers.

Read the manual: Hardware and software manuals are better and shorter than they used to be. Most people still don't read them. Taking a few minutes to at least browse through the manual can save a lot of time later.

Go through the tutorial: Many programs include teaching aids that hold your hand in learning basic procedures. Another option is to buy a third-party tutorial on video or CD-ROM. Video tutorials are better if you're a beginner and are uncomfortable in using a computer in the first place. CD-ROM tutorials let you interactively try out what you are learning. Top tutorial makers include KeyStone Learning Systems (800-748-4838) and MacAcademy/Windows Academy (800-527- 1914).

Use the online help system: Some software companies offer "intelligent agents" that automatically offer help in carrying out tasks. While useful for beginners, these help assistants can grate over time. Fortunately, you can turn them off. Using a program's help system manually, by browsing through the contents or launching a search, can be a great way to get up to speed on your terms.

Check Out the Manufacturer's WEB site: You can often find answers there to your commonly asked questions along with other tips and software downloads. Web sites are usually listed in manuals or as part of the help system. You can also find links to thousands more computer manufacturers at the Guide to Computer Vendors.

Explore third-party WEB sites: You'll find free advice and software updates at sites such as Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows, Macintosh Watering Hole, and Internet 101.org. Yahoo lists other popular computer help sites in its Technical Guides and Support section.

Subscribe to a computer magazine: Magazines offer lots of well-written, well-organized tips, reviews and commentary for beginners and experts alike. Sample those that look interesting by picking up newsstand copies. If you find one that talks to you, subscribe. Some computer magazines are a bit too fervid, enticing you to buy the latest and the greatest, though it's not difficult to filter this out.

Buy a computer book: If your computer came with its manual on a disk and you would like something more tangible, or if you are dissatisfied with the quality of a manual, a computer book can be a good solution. But browse through any book before you buy it. Some computer books are put together hastily so they can be published when a program is released.

Take a Class: Being able to ask questions, and listening to the answers to others' questions can aid the learning process. Classes are offered through local Y's, high school evening programs, community colleges, universities, computer stores, and computer training organizations. The "Computer-Training" section of your local yellow pages has particulars.

Hire a Tutor: One-on-one training is more expensive than classroom training, but the personal attention can be worth it. Personal recommendations are best, but tutors are also listed under "Computer- Training" in the yellow pages. You can also find a tutor by contacting the Independent Computer Consultants Association (800-774-4222). At the group's Web site, you can search for tutors by geographic area and expertise.

Join a COMPUTER USER GROUP! These volunteer groups abide by the principle "users helping users". User groups typically meet once a month, and members, or sometimes guests, give presentations on new products or how to use existing products. During the rest of the month, members often volunteer to take questions by phone or e-mail from fellow members. You can search for a user group near you at the WEB site of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups. Personal computers can be amazing tools in helping you be efficient and productive. The key to making a PC work for you is learning to best take advantage of it.

On the Web:

www.keystonelearning.com/
www.macacademy.com
guide.sbanetweb.com
www.winsupersite.com
mac.map.com
www.internet101.org
dir.yahoo.com/Computers
www.icca.org
database.apcug.org/database/loclist.asp

DIRECTIONS FOR ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER MEETING ROOM

Meetings are in the St. Augustine Center at Villanova University. The regular monthly 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  2002  Steering Committee Meetings

April 13 April 17 May 11 May 15 June 8 June 12 **

* = first Saturday ** = second 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