Main Line Computer Users Group


June 2002 Issue 241

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JUN 8 th Members Helping Members!
THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
MAIN LINE PC/128/64 USERS - Room 110

For June, we have a number of things to accomplish. But, we'll start off with a brief (hopefully) round of announcements. Then, we'll orient folks to a couple of changes that have been introduced as ways of improving communications and assistance between meetings.

The first is our new, simple email "listserv" system. Any MLCUG member who has an internet accessible email account, can sign up for it. Messages to the list automatically go to everyone on it - for information, queries or whatever. It fits in your regular email regimen.

The second is a website where we have downloadable files for distribution to members. To simplify the operation, we made this spot accessible over the net without restrictions. But others thus can access it if they stumble across it. We'll provide the info at the meeting and do a quicky demo. More info will be in the July newsletter.

Then, we'll have another chapter on "Discovering Your Hard Drive", including a valuable presentation on ways to upgrade your Windows operating system (such as, 98->ME or 98->XP).

Lastly, we can pick up another go-round of Q & A. Including some further input on better helping our new/novice or inexperienced members.


SUBJECT: VIRUS WARNING !!

[Jim Hoffmann (PCUG)] The dissertation on p.2 is from one of the professional technicians that serve on the Board of the Southwest Florida PC Users Group.

Believe me when I tell you that his words of wisdom are profound. DON'T, I REPEAT, DON'T EVER DELETE SOME FILE THAT A "FRIEND" HAS TOLD YOU IS A VIRUS HIDING ON YOUR COMPUTER. Leave the detection of viruses to your anti-virus software - assuming that you update every two weeks -OR LESS!

They say that a word to the wise is sufficient. I hope that this is the case here. [cont'd.]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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INTERESTED? - last month, we showed a couple of segments of a very informative "training" CD, called: "Discovering Your Hard Drive". In all, it has some seven presentations on various aspects of hard drive useage aimed at helping you to "Organize, Backup and Secure" your hard drive's contents. It does emphasize the use of software by Powerquest to do this, but the material is far more than a product endorsement. If anyone is interested in getting a personal copy of the CD, we can order them thru the author, Gene Barlow of User Group Relations, out in Oregon. They are available for $20 and we'll have the info at the next meeting for folks to sign up, if they'd like a copy.

And, if you are not making the meetings, where we are running the CD, you will find it very worthwhile to have a copy of your own to absorb at your convenience. In this event you can contact Emil (610-388-1581 or emilv@ccil.org) any time to get on the order list.

GOTCHA! - in the rush to the internet, there are many folks who got themselves catchy, or relevant, domain names. But, they did not make much of a go on the net; so they let their registration of those domain names run out. Unfortunately, there are others out there ready to grab especially attractive ones and use them for often not so nice uses. A local case in point - Bensalem PA. They let their registration lapse and now the URL points to a website that is definitely NOT what the good folks in Bensalem would like to have you associate with their town.

The point being that saving a few bucks may not be the best way to go. Like Bensalem, it could cost much bigger bucks to get out from under!

TRENTON COMPUTER FESTIVAL - TCF 2002 was held on May 4-5 at the NJ Convention Center in Edison NJ. If any members made it to the event, how about giving us a snapshot summary at our June meeting? NEW/NOVICE USERS - as is evident elsewhere, we have started some new ways of trying to provide more assistance to our N/N members. But, we are sure there will be other things, too. So, after seeing and discussing the changes at the June meeting, give some thought to other ways of giving that help. 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.7 for names).

REMINDER - Attendees know that we have a very fast internet connection from the VU meeting room! So, if you have a very large download, you could bring along a zip disk (or maybe a CD-R) and get it done there, either before or after the main meeting.

LUNCH - a half dozen or so of the regular attendees, usually partake of 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 pretty good, too!


MORE ON VIRUS WARNING!

[continued from p.1]

From: "David Keller" Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 09:18:14 -0400 Subject: Re: (SWFPCUG) Fw: Fw: virus to check for ASAP

Dear Don and everyone else,

Several BBS members have already replied that this is a hoax, so now is a good time to remind everyone about "Keller's First Law of Windows":

Never, ever delete, rename or move any file you did not put on the hard drive yourself with a program's Save or Save As... command or receive as e-mail.

Unlike hoaxes, my first law IS something you should pass on to everyone else! Along this line, here's some more good advice:

Never do anything to your computer's hardware or software based on something you read in an unsolicited e-mail message. Such messages are almost always hoaxes, designed to make you mess up your system. (If in doubt, ask a qualified computer technician BEFORE doing anything.)

--
Compu-Doctor David Keller
**
Voted BEST Computer Service provider 
           2000 & 2001 News-Press
Best of Southwest Florida 
     Reader's Choice Polls
Call (239) 277-7100, ext. 1 any time

New MLCUG Mailing List

As noted earlier, since our last meeting, we have established an alternate communication medium for MLCUG members (only) - who have internet access and an active email account. Reproduced below is the notice sent out by Peter Whinnery, webmaster.

We'll be discussing more about this tool/service at the June meeting. Anyway, here's the notice:

"As the club's (unofficial) Internet guru I am pleased to announce the creation of MLCUG Mailing List. Members of the list will receive copies of all the email sent to the list. The purpose of the list is to facilitate on-line discussion and problem solving among the membership.

To join the MLCUG "listserv":

Send an email to:

whinnery@pobox.upenn.edu

or leave a message here on the BBS with the email address you would like added to the list.

To send a message to the list address it to:

mlcug@pobox.upenn.edu

Sign up today! Peter"

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LAST MONTH'S PC/128/64 MEETING
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We had 18 folks attending the May meeting - and a lively one it was!

As usual, we had our round of announcements and some show-and-tells. That was followed by a probing session to find out what -in the broad field of networking - interested folks the most. This was to provide some ideas for a planned meeting, or two, starting next month on the networking topic.

Then we had a little surprise "program". I had got my hands on a "training" CD relating to hard drive management. Called "Discovering Your Hard Drive" produced by Gene Barlow, who is the head honcho of a company called User Groups Relations (www.ugr.com). He travels around to user groups, gives presentations (about a 100 per year) and extolls his ideas on hard drive management and markets products from several companies that relate to the topic. The most prominent of them being Powerquest (the Partition Magic and Drive Image folks). The attendees seemed to appreciate the value of the stories he has to tell; so we'll likely run additional ones (we did two out of seven on the CD) at future meetings.

Finally, we turned back to round table Q&A and that's where things got exciting. One of the topics that came up was the subject of better ways to help, for want of a better term, "novice" (maybe less-skilled would be more descriptive or less experienced) members. The subject has been flagged in the last couple of newsletters, BUT had not drawn any feedback until now. We got a lot of feedback! (Unfortunately, some of it was more acrimonious than I feel was justified). It will provide some food for discussion at the upcoming steering meeting where we will try to summarize what was said and what we might do to take advantage of the input that we got. More about that in the future.

Happy computing til next time, Emil ...


Bee.Net Implements Email Virus Scanning

The following notice was sent out to folks who have ISP accounts on the Bee.Net service. This announcement of a local ISP doing email screening is a first for me. I heard a few days a go that the screen has indeed been providing some extra protection for their users. Here 'tis:

"BeeNetters!

Bee.Net has entered a BETA testing period of implementing virus scanning of all email coming in to our network for @bee.net addresses. When a virus is found our system will send you an email and tell you who the email was from, the subject and the type of virus found. We do not send an email notification back to the sender due to the the fact that some viruses now will have a fake, forged, address selected at random from various sources on the original victim's hard drive.

Our efforts are not meant to replace your own efforts to practice safe email practices which includes installing virus software and keeping it updated with current virus definitions. ---------------------------------------
DO NOT get lulled into thinking that Bee.Net will block all viruses. --------------------------------------- In a system the size of ours that processes close to 100,000 pieces of incoming email daily there are always chances of a virus getting through. We are pleased to be able to offer this value-added feature and look forward to continuing to serve you.

Regards, Rus Wetherill Bee.Net Internet Services http://services.bee.net/agreement.htm


DOES OLD SOFTWARE REFUSE TO WORK IN XP?

Compatibility has always been one of the primary goals of Windows developers. In Windows XP, developers invested a great deal of time to ensure that older software works in this new operating system. One of the biggest challenges was to make older games work in Windows XP. The result of testing and debugging thousands of games was a piece of software called the Program Compatibility Wizard. This wizard can help you run older software.

If certain applications refuse to work, you have two options. You can run the wizard by going to Start } Accessories and selecting Program Compatibility Wizard. The wizard will guide you through several settings, which might help you run the application. Experienced users can bypass the wizard altogether and, instead, right-click the application's executable file and access the Compatibility tab in the Properties dialog box.

The idea behind the compatibility mode is essentially to deceive the application. The number-one compatibility issue is the version checking performed by the application. Some applications check the version of the operating system. If the version is different than Windows 95, for example, they refuse to work. The compatibility mode simply lies to the applications by indicating that the underlying operating system is Windows 95. [Stan Grabowski]


ACCESS XP'S ADDITIONAL UTILITIES

Although the most important product on the Windows XP CD is the operating system itself, the CD also includes additional applications that are not installed during the Windows XP setup. If you insert the CD in your CD-ROM drive, you'll receive several options in the autorun dialog box. Selecting Perform Additional Tasks allows you to run some of them, but not all are accessible through this dialog box.

You can find most of them, however, in the folders on the CD. You should take a look at two folders in particular: support and valueadd. The support folder contains:

* Support Tools in the Support.cab file, which is a minicollection of former Resource Kit utilities.

* Application Compatibility Toolkit (Act20.exe), which includes several utilities that can help you run older applications on Windows XP.

* Files and Settings Transfer wizard (Fastwiz.exe), which allows you to transfer user settings from machines running older Microsoft operating systems.

* Remote Desktop Connection client (Msrdpcli.exe), which allows users to connect to a Windows XP Remote Desktop from machines running older Microsoft operating systems.

* Deployment tools like Sysprep.exe in the Deploy.cab file.

The valueadd folder contains:

* Citrix ICA Win32 client software (ICA32.exe) * Terminal Server Client for Handheld PC * Phone Book Administrator * WMI ODBC driver * NetBEUI * User State Migration Tool

[by Stan Grabowski]


WHAT ABOUT THAT RAM?

[From howstuffworks.com and member Marty Caulfield]

Question: Does adding more RAM to your computer make it faster?

Answer: Up to a point, adding 88M (random access memory) will normally cause your computer to feel faster on certain types of operations. RAM is important because of an operating system component called the virtual memory manager (VMM).

When you run a program such as a word processor or an Internet browser, the microProcessor in your computer pulls the executable file off the hard disk and loads it into RAM. In the case of a big program like Microsoft Word or Excel, the EXE consumes about 5 megabytes. The microprocessor also pulls in a number of shared Dlls (dynamic link libraries) >- shared pieces of code used by multiple applications. The Dlls might total 20 or 30 megabytes. Then the microprocessor loads in the data files you want to look at, which might total several megabytes if you are looking at several documents or browsing a page with a lot of graphics. So a normal application needs between 10 and 30 megabytes of RAM space to run.

On my machine, at any given time I might have the following applications running:

A word processor A spreadsheet A DOS prompt An e-mail program A drawing program Three or four browser windows A fax program A Telnet session

Besides all of those applications, the operating system itself is taking up a good bit of space. Those programs together might need 100 to 150 megabytes of RAM, but my computer only has 64 megabytes of RAM installed.

The extra space is created by the virtual memory manager. The VMM looks at RAM and finds sections of RAM that are not currently needed. It puts these sections of RAM in a place called the swap file on the hard d.isk. For example, even though I have my e-mail program open, I haven't looked at e-mail in the last 45 minutes. So the VMM moves all of the bytes making up the e-mail program's EXE, Dlls and data out to the hard disk. That is called swapping out the program. The next time I click on the e-mail program, the VMM will swap in all of its bytes from the hard disk, and probably swap something else out in the process. Because the hard disk is slow relative to RAM, the act of swapping things in and out causes a noticeable delay.

If you have a very small amount of RAM (say, 16 megabytes), then the VMM is always swapping things in and out to get anything done. In that case, your computer feels like it is crawling. As you add more RAM, you get to a point where you only notice the swapping when you load a new program or change windows. If you were to put 256 megabytes of RAM in your computer, the VMM would have plenty of room and you would never see it swapping anything. That is as fast as things get. If you then added more RAM, it would have no effect.

Some applications (things like Photoshop, many compilers, most film editing and animation packages) need tons of RAM to do their job. If you run them on a machine with too little RAM, they swap constantly and run very slowly. You can get a huge speed boost by adding enough RAM to eliminate the swapping. Programs like these may run 10 to 50 times faster once they have enough RAM!


COMCAST INTERNET UPDATE

by Emil Volcheck

I mentioned at the May meeting, that we had signed up for Comcast High Speed Cable Internet service, but that we had an installation problem and a tech was supposed to come by that same afternoon. Well, when I got back from the MLCUG meeting that afternoon, the Comcast tech had come and gone and our new high speed cable internet connection was working!

Turned out that Comcast had not (yet?) set up the distribution box out at the back of our lot so it would be able to handle the new services. Apparently that was easy to do. And, as soon as it was done, the internet came alive on our new cable modem and the PC we had attached to it for test purposes.

Almost immediately, I ran some speed tests to start benchmarking how the system does. I used two benchmarking websites: bandwidthplace.com and numion.com.

The former simply downloads a file and measures the transfer rate. They pick their file size based on the anticipated speed of your system (with high speed DSL, cable, T1, etc. having a big file for test purposes).

The latter runs a 30 second test in which they check access times to a whole bunch of commonly accessed websites around the US and the world.

The first check I made was at about 3 PM, the next around 6 PM. The first time, the cable was almost 10X faster than our low level iDSL service. But at the later time, it had slowed by 10% to 80% - depending on the test. I hope the difference was the time of day and not deterioration of the service over the course of 3 hours!!!

I'm keeping a record of the test results; so I'll bring them to the next meeting.

Comcast update - well, we are now cruising fully transitioned from our former iDSL service (nominal top data rate of 144 Kbps) to Comcast High-Speed Internet (nominal data transfer rate somewhere around 1 Mbps or so, no guarantee of anything).

The setup, looking in from the net is:

- RCA cable modem, 10 Mbps maximum data capability (from Comcast) - Linksys 8-port cable/DSL router (10/100 ethernet output) - a gaggle of PCs and a Mac

The swap of the cable/DSL router for the Cisco DSL router we used before was pretty much seamless. We just turned everything off, swapped routers and powered back up. The computers all saw the net when they came up.

Only difference is that the assigned IP addresses before were: 10.10.10.x

Now they are: 192.168.1.x

The router is programmable with a web browser (you just enter its fixed IP address and connect to it, type in the password and you have it all nicely laid out).

I'll report on reliability and performance as we gather some experience. 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.

[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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PC/128/64 Meetings  2002  Steering Committee Meetings

June 8 June 12 ** July 13 July 17 August 10 August 14 **

* = 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