Main Line Computer Users Group

Jan 2003 Issue 248


MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JAN 11 th

MAIN LINE COMPUTER USERS As noted elsewhere in this issue, we had our second successful networking demo in a row! This month, we plan one more, then we'll move to a new topic) and return to networking later, if interest is shown. So, this month, it will be WIRELESS on the docket !!!

For the program, John Murphy (again) will set up a 2-computer (or so) network. It will include a printer. This will put him in the position of being able to show the steps to installing the wireless network and configuring it (as he did for the two previous demos). Then, he'll be able to show connecting to the internet )thru the VU ethernet, as before) and how to share a printer across the wireless connecuion.

If all this goes well, there should be time to review some other important considerations on setting up your own wireless network. In particular, the wireless environment is very open and your neighbor or someone driving by may be able to access your network, possibly without your being aware that they have done so - not an enticing thought !

Since this will be our last formal do on home networking, please give some thought before coming to the session. Marshall your questions and bring them up as we proceed. If you have a question, likely others will, too. So come on out to enjoy and learn.


Originally presented by Marc Altman, May23th, 2002 (at the monthly meeting of PCUG, reprinted from their newsletter).

There are three different approaches to Wireless Networking: Infrared (IR), "Bluetooth", and 802.11, also known as WiFi (wireless fidelity).

Infrared is used by palm pilots, PDA's, and some other hardware. It is limited to line of sight, straight line, with a range of about 6 feet. The largest use is with PDA's, to synchronize data such as schedules and address books with one [cont'd.]


THE START OF THE NEW YEAR - the formal renewal season for 2003 has now passed and we have had 29 (or 85%) folks renew. This was a very good renewal rate, but we still lost some folks. If we are not able to keep our membership up, we will wither away... So, always keep your eyes and ears open for prospective members. Remember, we are interested in two kinds of folks: 1) those who need help to make the most of their time and $$$ investment and 2) experienced and knowledgeable folks who like to help those of type 1! Even the type 2 folks will learn something and have some fun (one of the best ways to learn is by helping others)!

TWENTY YEARS OF NEWS - for some months now, member John Murphy has been working on the big job of scanning into .pdf files EVERY issue of the newsletter that has been published since issue number 0, in April of 1982. Some time around the end of!1Q03, we plan to offer to all our members a CD that will contain the first 20 years of issues (all 241 of them)!! The CDs will cost $10 per copy and folks can buy more than one, if they choose. This is a preliminary notice as the scanning is almost completed now. Setting up the CD format and beginning the duplication process will take a bit longer. So, send in those dues and be prepared for a real memento!!

THE EMAILING LIST - for those members who have provided an email address, we have subscribed them to the MLCUG listserver (operated most graciously by Pete Whinnery and the UPenn system). This is a way to catch early announcements, hear about problems (and solutions?) between the meetings. You can get (and give) help. A useful tool we feel; so when renewing, consider including your email address in that spot on the form.

BUILD-A-PC! - at the October steering meeting, a possible in-meeting, hands-on club project surfaced. That was the potential for a "build-it-yourself" new club computer that would be planned and implemented at our regular monthly meetings.

We asked for input from the members last time. Have not had much; so before dumping the idea, we'd like to get a better sense that folks are interested. Plan to give us your 'yea' or 'nay' vote at the JANUARY meeting. If you can't attend, post on the email list or feedback to a committee member.

REGULAR REMINDERS: - 1) 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 a CD- R/RW) and get it done there, either before or after the main meeting.

and 2) 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 quite good, too!


[continued from p.1] another os a desktop. It can also be used to beam from a laptop to a printer. Some cell phones have the capability to communicate using IR. This technology has relatively limited use.

Bluetooth is the newest technology, but is not widely used as yet. The "home of the future" will use Bluetooth -- the refrigerator tells your computer you are out of milk, the computer orders a gallon of milk, and it is delivered the next day!

The Bluetooth consortium, which has agreed on industry standards, hopes to have the technology included in all new appliances at some point in time. Compaq has introduced an iPaq and Hewlett Packard a printer that include Bluetooth. A Bluetooth PCMCIA card is available for laptops, and a Bluetooth phone is also available. So the technology is starting to be used. The devices are not supposed to interfere with each other or with 802.11 in the same physical space.

[MLCUG: however, the useful range for Bluetooth is about 150 feet, significantly less than Wi- Fi; so this strong prediction!for Bluetooth dominance seems a bit premature.]

802.11 - WiFi is already fairly widely used, especially for campus oriented high-speed wireless connectivity. Each access point device gives about a football field's worth of coverage -- about 150 feet radius from the access point. Access points can be stacked to increase the coverage area. The access point needs to be connected to an Ethernet type LAN (local area network) in order to get out of that single point. This is what most people do at home. Iigher-powered transceivers are available for office campuses, like Vanguard's in Valley Forge. WiFi networks are being installed in some airports; so you can sit at the gate with your laptop and send e-mail and surf the net. WiFi is a bridge from a portable device out to the internet through a LAN. Intel has wired their buildings with a number of access points, so that when an employee changes offices, no new wiring or rewiring is required.

There are two components to a WiFi network: the access point that connects to a network, then to the internet, and the remote transceiver in the computer which communicates with the access point. WiFi networks can also be implemented, and work best, as part of a larger wired/wireless combination network. For example, a university might hardwire dorm rooms, but could use WiFi in computer labs so students could use their own laptops, offering the convenience of portability.

The home setting uses a combination network. The high speed connection, cable or DSL (MLCUG: or even dialup), comes in and hooks up to the appropriate modem. Next would be a router with 10/100 Ethernet wired ports for multiple computer use. This also adds a hardware firewall, which is the best protection available. You could use a hub or a switch, but a router is better, and adds less than $50 to the total cost. Multiple computers can run through the network with no degradation of speed. Then you need an integrated or stand-alone access point for the remote computers. This can be either a hardwired router and a separate (wired) access point, or a hardwired router and a wireless access point. Available also is an integrated hardwired unit which includes the wireless access point and the router. Last, you will need Ethernet cards for each "wired" computer (if any), and 802.11 cards/transceivers for each wireless computer.

WiFi is an open standard, which means that all manufacturers have to agree to comply with the standard before they can label the hardware "WiFi Compliant". Hardware from different manufacturers should be compatible. From a practical perspective, it is better to choose one manufacturer for all WiFi hardware. It is not worth it to mix and match whatever is on sale. If you mix, and have problems, each manufacturer will blame the other guy! Configuring a WiFi network is not difficult, but neither is it easy if you have to go off the installation wizard. CompUSA does offer to come to your home and install, set up, and configure your WiFi network. The cost depends on the oumber of computers in the network.

Comcast or Verizon has connected your cable or DSL line to the modem. You now have a high- speed connection in the house through the Ethernet connection to the router and access point, your computers are in their usual places around the house. Assume one local computer is near the router and plugged into it.

For remote desktops, use a USB connected transceiver. Plug the transceiver into the USB port, run the configuration wizard, and the computer will pick up the network if it is within 150 feet. Stone walls, foundations, whatever is in the house will diminish the range to some extent, but the speaker didn't know of a home in the area where there is a problem.

[MLCUG: Yes, USB is easier to install, but it limits you for bandwidth, particularly with the newer wireless technologies. For these, you'll have to consider USB 2.0 which is not yet common in computers OR wireless.]

Laptops can also use USB transceivers -- the signal from a USB transceiver can be a little stronger than from a PCMCIA card -- but the PCMCIA card is usually used on a laptop. The PCMCIA card gives functionality to a laptop that wasn't built in -- modems for early models, Ethernet connections and now wireless for later models. There is also a telephony wireless card that allows you to use the laptop as a cell phone. Slide the PCMCIA card into the slot on the side of the laptop, configure, and you are on your network.

If you have a handheld computer you may be able to get an 802.11 care and use your pocket PC through the network.

The network is not difficult to set up. Everything comes with installation wizards to walk you through the setup and creation of IP settings (which is usually done by choosing auto detect).

In conclusion, the primary differences between Bluetooth and 802.11 are:

1) Bluetooth is used for short range for in-home communication between one device and another;

2) 802.11 is used for longer range, high-speed communication into a 10/100 Etiernet connection and out to the internet.

And, remember, your trusty MLCUG is here to assist in solving problems with your network setup (wired or wireless)!!!


The exchange below resulted from some discussion about having some hardware around that would allow running legacy software (and hardware) to retrieve old files and allow them to be converted for access and use with newer systems. You know, just in case you suddenly would like that old file that you made 6 years ago (or 16 years ago!)!!

[John Murphy] - I keep such a system around to run DOS and to use some older peripherals. I started out with a homebrew system with a 486/33 motherboard, 8MB of RAM and an 825MB hard drive. All built with parts purchased at a flea market for less than $50 and an AT-style case purchased new at CompUSA for $24.99.

I recently began to upgrade the system. I bought a motherboard with a 100Mhz Pentium processor, 16MB of memory, 4 x ISA slous and 4 x PCI slots for $15. I added a PCI VGA card for $1.50 and an ISA network card that came in a bag of six network cards for $6. I added in a $3 1.2MB 5.25" floppy drive and a $4 1.44MB 3.5" floppy drive. All items purchased at a local flea market sale. The purpose of this system is to run DOS, Windows 3.11 and perhaps Windows 95. It is fast enough to be usable, but not so fast that I have problems running older DOS programs. I also use it to run an older, DOS-based Commodore 64 emulator.

My current plan is to get the network card working under DOS. This will allow me to move my StarCommander setup over to this machine. I use StarCommander to convert old 1541 and 1571 disks into .d64 and .d71 disk images. The network card will allow me to copy the disk images to other computers on my network for use and for burning to CD.

I had to undertake this project because I found that when I upgraded my desktop system from a 500Mhz Celeron to an 800Mhz Cyrix chip, my StarCommander setup stopped working reliably. Windows 98 ran just fine on the system, but DOS seemed to have some problems. I am not sure if the problem is the speed of the chip or the fact that it is not an Intel chip. The speed gain under Windows 98 was too nice to give up, so I decided to build a system just to run DOS and to convert between 5.25" and 3.5" media. [John Murphy]

Yours truly also has a system being set up for the same purpose. It has a 166 MHz Pentium MMX with about 32 MB of RAM, a modest size hard drive and 1) 3.5" floppy, 2) 5.25" floppy, 3) CD-RW drive and 4) 100 MB Zip drive. It is running Windows 98 SE, but could be set up for something else (or even set for dual booting). When set up, there should be facilities available to us for dealing with older creations!! [Emil Volcheck]

Tutorial videotapes

With the assistance of Mayo Productions (you ALL know who that is!) and Charles Curran, Inc., we have some tutorial videotapes for member loans. Each tape is a videotape of a lecture on one of the following topics:

 - Introduction to the Internet
 - Digital Photography
 - CD Writing
 - The Skinny on Scanning
They are all introductory presentations and not aimed for the experts. So, if you have an interest in one or more of these topics, let me know and I can lend them out at the next meeting.

This info was announced on the email list; so some of the tapes have been reserved, but let us know at the meeting as we have several of them that are loanable immediately. The loans will be for a month; so we'll have them all for re-loaning in February!


While the December party got a bit rowdy at times, I think that I, at least, can chalk it up as a good ending for the year!

Firstly, John Murphy had yet another successful demo. The networking of a printer connected to his laptop and shared from the club PC thru the internet sharing network (that was demoed last month) went very quickly and neatly. (The only hitch was the failure of the KVM switch setup to let us see his laptop's screen - only the club PC showed).

Secondly, we had a refreshment spread that ended with all the food being eaten, and no one had to have an arm twisted to take stuff off my hands. John Murphy (in addition to the demo) provided three coffee makers, serving table and fixings to keep our cups full. John Deker brought a surfeit of soft drinks; so no thirst went unslaked. And, as I said, my refreshment tray, rolls and all kept the hunger off.

Thirdly, we had a very good turnout (21) - I think about the best this year.

Fourthly, the raft of raffle prizes was so extensive that most folks managed to snag at least one (member Frank Gannon qualified for three, but passed on the third to benefit some less lucky soul)!

Fifthly, tho it was hard to hear, the VHS tape on "CD Writing" got some attention. It, along with some others will be available for lending to members - see elsewhere in this issue.

Sixthly, Chauncey Westbrook - in wheelchair - made the meeting. This is the first time in about a year that he has been well enough to make it, with the assist from a friend who drove him in and took him home.

Hope I did not miss too much in this summary - if so, let me know, I can always improve. [Emil]

P.S: I hope everyone has a fine holiday season and comes back for our next meeting on January 11th.

John Fried FAQ

In the last week, John Fried announced in his Inquirer column that he has set up his own personal webpage. In it he is posting 80-some FAQs derived from his regular column 9Thursday and Sunday Inquirer).


When I looked at it a couple of days ago, it had 87 FAQ items on it.

I suspect that he is doing this because the Inquirer has ceased archiving info beyond 3 months old on its own website. The FAQ archives used to go back to the start of the column in 1999 (or whatever).

Keep an eye on this new!website, as he is likely to add to it in the future.

Dmitry Sklyarov and Jon Johansen

Here is some background on the two Copyright/Piracy legal cases that were mentioned at the December meeting.

Dmitry Sklyarov, a programmer at the Russian software company, Elcomsoft, who was arrested after giving a talk at Def Con 9 in Las Vegas titled "eBook Security: Theory and Practice". Elcomsoft publishes a program to remove restrictions from encrypted PDF files, which has severely annoyed Adobe Corporation. Adobe was apparently responsible for the arrest, charging that Elcomsoft is violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by publishing the software and giving the presentation at Def Con.




[NOTE: since last month, the judge ruled against the plaintiffs in this case and both Skylarov and Elcomsoft are off the hook for now )Adobe also got cold feet when they encountered a huge row over this affair). But, more litigation is likely in the future].

Prosecution changes charges against "DVD-Jon"

The prosecution in the trial of Jon Lech Johansen, known as "DVD-Jon" due to his connection with a computer program to decrypt DVD copy protection codes, presented amended charges in court on Friday.



info from Peter Whinnery (veteran peruser of slashdot!!) 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 -

 PC/128/64 Meetings  2003  Steering Committee Meetings

                      February 8                        February 12 **

                      March 8                           March 12 **

                      April 12                          April 15

     * = 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


           PUBLICITY: Robyn Josephs 610-565-4058

   VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy

 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