Main Line Computer Users Group


December 2003 Issue 259

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - DEC 13 th

THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS


UPCOMING MEETING:

Following our great success at last year's festivity, we decided to do a re-run. We hope that all our active members will turn out - at least for a few minutes! AND, we hope that those folks who have not yet renewed will come to the party and join up for another year with the club.

For the last few years, we have featured goodies, door prizes, raffles and such-like. So, we will again!

We'll start the show off with a full opportunity for everyone to pass on announcements of things or events that may be of general interest, ask questions on computer-related stuff and submit their problems for, hopefully, resolution as a result of input from the group.

There will be hot coffee, other hot drinks and soda available from around the beginning of the meeting.

Our treasurer will be selling tickets for the 50/50 raffle ($1 per ticket or 6 tickets for $5) and handing out door prize tickets (no charge, just your signature on the attendance list ).

Then, around 10:45-11:00, we'll have refreshments (so remember not to eat too big a breakfast!). And, at about 11:00, we'll have the drawing sor the 50/50 and for several door prizes!

We'll look forward to seeing ALL of you then !!!


RENEWAL SEASON!

We have arrived at the end of the member year. If you have not renewed your dues, this will be your LAST newsletter issue. We have HELD THE $15 DUES. So, it will be no bigger strain on the pocketbook!

Our treasurer, Stew, will be at the December meeting to accept your dues; cash or check (payable to MLCUG) will do the trick. We hope you'll decide to rejoin.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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WELCOME - to our new member, Doug Linton of Thornton PA! We hope he'll benefit from and be involved in his MLCUG membership......

OUR NEW WEBSITE - thru the good offices of Mr. Rich Goldberg, operator of the Bee.net local ISP, the club has been provided with a new website host and a new (we hope, easy-to-remember) domain name - mlcug.org! So, now we can be found on the web at: http://mlcug.org

Remember to check it out regularly. Last minute meeting items may be posted there, in addition to coming to you via the MLCUG listserv.

Oh yes, our faithful webmaster, Pete Whinnery, will be most appreciative of ideas to improve the useability and value of this website; so don't hesitate to suggest!

AID FOR NEW USERS - learning the basics of computer useage and working your way thru the software has a rather steep learning curve (in contrast to what the vendors would have you believe); so most folks who are new to the game could use some early help.

Do you know of a local organization that offers beginning computer users real hands-on training? If so, we'd like to hear about it - place, times, content and cost - to prepare a reference list (maybe for the website?) to provide to folks who contact us for early help.

Last time, I mentioned the West Chester Senior Center, which teaches 2-300 folks, on average, each year. BUT, no one else has offered any other such sites. I find it hard to believe that lowly West Chester is the only kid on the block. How about it folks? Where can we point folks to for help, that many very badly need???

REGULAR REMINDERS: 1) our email mailing list is run for the member's benefit; so please do not hesitate to post notices or problems to it. If we can't solve the problem remotely, we can be alerted to it ahead of a meeting where hands-on may do the job. NOTE: see the notice later about the new version of the listserv.

2) attendees know that we have a very fast internet connection from the VU meeting room (last month, a pretty good sized download was done and we hit 733 KB/s, now that's really moving - tho no promises)! 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.

3) 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!

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COMPUTING BOOK

The order for the book entitled: "Computers for Seniors" has come in and I will bring the copies that folks ordered in November to the December meeting. The book will cost $8.50 (incl. tax and shipping); please make a check out to Emil Volcheck, or cash will be readily accepted. [Emil Volcheck]

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MLCUG LISTSERV

During the course of the upcoming month, we expect to transfer the member email list server from the Univ. of Penn system over to our new web host ISP (Bee.net). Please watch for an announcement and get ready to change the email address that you will use to send your comments and questions to the list. [Pete Whinnery, webmaster]

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LAST MONTH'S MEETING

Our November meeting had (eventually) 18 attendees, including one prospect (Doug Linton of Thornton PA). We began with a look at our new website domain and location. Now, we "own" mlcug.org (but not .com or .net or .biz or .whatever) and it resides on the server of a local ISP, Bee.net. The owner of Bee.net, Mr. Rich Goldberg, offered to provide free web hosting services to the club - if we paid for the domain registration. We got that for an exceedingly attractive $15 per year for 5 years (or $75 up front). That's less than half of what I was looking at a couple of years ago.

As of this meeting, our webmaster, Pete Whinnery, has placed a complete copy of our VU website on the Bee.net server (and we plan to keep them similar until Pete gets the full hang of the commercial server). We took a quick look, while I reviewed the story of how we had got the surprising offer out-of-the-blue from Rich (who told me that they had been doing the same thing for the Mac User Group for about 7 years now, check them at mlmug.org). We also noted that we plan to keep our downloads area on the VU server where we have lots of room (tho we haven't used much of it!). The commercial site has only 30 MB allotted to it. So, take a look at the new site and let Pete know your ideas on how to make it better (we got some at the meeting today).

We took a look at the treasurer's report, which I had brought in, in Stew's absence. It showed 19 renewals for 2004. On the expense side, it showed the $75 for the 5-year domain registration fee. Noting that I could accept renewals in Stew's absence, we got another seven of them. That makes us still a half dozen or so shy of our 2003 member level; so we hope the rest will renew, too. Remember, it's still $15...

Then we started our round the table with a few announcements, including a recent one from Microsoft about a new format for Windows-related patches (more on this later). We also discussed the bounty they have announced for folks who provide the key info on the identity of hackers ($250,000 per pop!)!

I passed around a bit of nostalgia - our May 25 1994 certificate as an authorized Commodore User Group (#GRPA01). That number meant that we were the first user group in Pennsylvania to get certification. Time sure does fly !!!

Moving on to this month's program, I summarized all the setup stuff (see later item in this issue) that we had done on the BTO computer so far. Reminding folks that last month, we had run the Windows update on the Microsoft website and downloaded and installed twenty-eight (28) "critical" XP patches (which had apparently gone OK). So, the first thing we did (after rebooting into XP) was to revisit Windows update. We found that there were five (5) more - of which one was Microsoft's new variety - the "Update Rollup 1" patch. It apparently actually contains twenty-two (22) patches (sort of a mini-service pack)! We downloaded and installed them, then did the restart.

That got us ready for today's main demos - installing the beginning of our security and privacy applications. We started with Norton Anti-Virus 2002 - from the club's copy of that program. It went quickly (the BTO is a pretty fast computer!). Then, we ran its "Live Update" routine to get all Symantec updates to the program and the virus definitions, since the CD was coined in September 2001. We had to restart twice to get that completed. After a few tweaks, the software was running nicely.

Then next app was the two-way firewall, Zone Alarm, freeware version 3.711. We jumped to Zone Labs website (www.zonealarm.com) and downloaded the freeware (3+ MB, which went very quickly as we clocked the download at 733 KB/sec, or about 5 Mbps??). This installed quickly and we stepped thru the initial setup (guided by the ZA instructions), a minimal activity since the software defaults are pretty good. We also quickly went thru the simple online tutorial, but did not attempt to go thru it in detail - just to let folks know that they will have the option when/if they install ZA themselves.

Then, came the test! We fired up Internet Explorer and asked to go to our new website - to be immediately greeted with a ZA alert box. It asked if we wanted to let IE go to the net - of course, we said yes. That was followed by a request for the net from a part of the XP system - the Windows Service Host (which you don't see in 95, 98 or Me). Again, we said yes. So, folks were able to see the software working right away (as it should).

That pretty much wrapped up the day's session. We are almost at the point of having the club PC ready to run routinely in Windows XP Home Edition.

And, getting ready for our final OS install - some distribution of Linux. We'll have to decide how to go for that first distribution. Along that line, I told folks that a new book had just been published "Red Hat Linux 9 for Dummies"! I had a copy, which includes a 2-CD set to install that version of Linux. So, one option will be to see how Linux does for dummies!!!

Nuff said.... Cheers, Emil ...

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Status of the New Club Computer

As a refresher, I'm listing the things we have done since finishing the physical assembly of the club's new computer (which was performed at our July regular monthly meeting). You may want to keep this info around somewhere as a checklist for any new PC, especially one that is not fully ready when purchased.

1) partitioned the two (2) hard drives to provide for installing four (4) operating systems and separate places for data (that is, user generated files), programs and backups (for either the OSes or data). Because of the demo nature of the club machine, this step was much more complex than a single-user system is ever likely to be, also done at the July meeting.

2) installed Windows 98 SE and the motherboard, sound, network and video drivers. Followed up with installing Norton Anti-Virus 2002 and the Zone Alarm freeware firewall.

3) installed Windows Millennium Edition and the motherboard, sound, network and video drivers. Followed up with installing Norton Anti-Virus 2002 and the Zone Alarm freeware firewall.

Note: these were done off-line, between the July and August monthly meetings, and not as demos.

4) installed Windows XP Home Edition - the August meeting demo.

5) installed the motherboard, sound, network and video drivers, and ran the XP anti-piracy "product activation" - September meeting demo.

6) ran Windows Update from the Microsoft website - October meeting demo.

7) re-ran the Windows Update, then installed Norton Anti-Virus 2002 and the latest version of the Zone Alarm freeware firewall - November meeting demo.

As of the time of this writing, she is almost ready for "regular" meeting use, if there is such a thing as regular for this particular computer!!

We will do some tweaks of the XP OS to make it a bit less of a disk space hog and add a couple of basic convenience and privacy programs (like popup stopper and spyware detection/removal). All of these last several steps can be considered routine for Windows computer users.

The next big item after this is the installation of the fourth, and last OS, namely; some distribution of the Linux OS. There are quite a few to choose from, but we'll likely go with one that some of our members have hands-on experience with.

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WINDOWS XP TWEAKS

Well, we finished publishing all ten (10) of Fred Langa's tweaks for Windows XP. Most aimed at reducing the XP tendency to hog enormous chunks of hard disk space - and make that space available for real work. After all, who needs 4 GB of "Temporary Internet Files"!!??

In some of our future meetings, we'll apply those tweaks to the Win XP Home installed on the club's new BTO PC. If you are using XP - dig out those back issues and see how much space you can gain back. If you have not already done so.....

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WINDOWS SAFETY TIP?

"My Documents" to Data

by Emil Volcheck

As those who read this newsletter, or attend our meetings, can attest to, we preach keeping YOUR DATA (the files you create or get from other sources) separate from the OPERATING SYSTEM or the PROGRAMs that you install. Our new PC is set up to facilitate that philosophy, and will be subjected to demonstration in upcoming meetings. One key piece of that strategy relates to managing the "My Documents" folder.

Windows is set, by default, to save your creations in that folder; and many (most) applications oblige by doing the same thing. However, that special folder resides on your C drive, right in the midst of the operating system.

Furthermore, in later Windows versions, there are other special folders (like "My Pictures" and "My Received Files"), that are defaults for other uses, that also reside in the My Documents folder. So, unless you do something about it, you'll continually find that keeping your data files separated is being hindered mightily!

What to do? Well, there are two steps that you can do - preferably right after you get a new computer, or re-install the OS in your existing one. Here they are:

1) set up a separate partition for ALL your data files. Our new PC setup gives some guidance on how and how big. This partition in the earlier versions of Windows will become the D drive (in Windows XP, it will likely be something else by default; but that does not really matter). Then, you can

2) re-target your "My Documents" folder to relocate it to that new drive/partition. How to do so? Well, just right-click on the My Documents desktop icon. Then, click Properties. You will be presented with a dialog box that has a window labeled "target". Its window will say something like "C:\....\My Documents\. Simply change that "target" to "D:\" or whatever drive letter your new data partition has. Click the Apply button, then OK your way back out.

Note: you may get a box popping up that asks if you'd like to move the contents of your old My Documents folder to the new one. Say "yes" and Windows will do it!

From then on, you'll find it much easier to find where YOUR files are and to have an easier-to-manage strategy to back that stuff for your protection.

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Holiday Greetings?

from User Group Relations

[Note from EJV: this is sort of a commercial, but it carries a pretty significant message that I thought you all would be interested in knowing about].

Dear User Group Friend,

As we come to the end of the year, we want to wish you the best holiday season ever. May your new year be a healthy and prosperous one.

As you may have heard, Symantec is buying PowerQuest Corporation, our main client. We expect this buyout to be completed by the end of the year. We don't know what the buyout will do to us, but our opportunity to represent PowerQuest's products to user groups may be coming to an end.

Before PowerQuest's user group program is ended, we want to give you one last chance to obtain some great hard drive utilities at tremendous savings. We have even put together some special holiday bundles with even greater savings. If you have considered getting PartitionMagic, Drive Image, or any of our other excellent products, now may be your last chance to do so at these excellent prices.

Do you have a friend or family member on your holiday gift list that is interested in computers? If so, you can order our products at the user group discount and give them as gifts. If you want, we will even gift wrap them for you and mail them directly to your friend or family member. With our user group discounts, you can give a very nice gift for a very low price.

To check out our latest products and great prices, go to www.ugr.com/holidays.html. Once you look over the products we offer, click on a "Buy Now" box to go to our secure web order form where you will see our excellent prices. To take advantage of these disappearing prices, complete the order form including the special code of UGXMS03. Your order will be shipped the following day via US Priority Mail and should arrive in 2-3 days. Don't let time run out on this offer. Act now before Symantec turns off these great user group discount prices.

We hope to see you again representing Symantec or some other computer client. If not, we have enjoyed knowing you. Have a super holiday season.

Gene & Linda Barlow User Group Relations PO Box 275 Orem, UT 84059-0275 801-796-7370 barlow@ugr.com www.ugr.com

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MS Memory Diagnostic

If you are looking for a utility to do a RAM memory check, then this may be the ticket. The utility called: "windiag.exe" from Microsoft lets you create a bootable floppy or CD-ROM for testing your RAM.

When making a CDROM the software first creates an ".iso" image on your hard drive. Depending on your burning software installation, you may be able to just double-click the created ".iso" image icon to get your burning software to be automatically ready to burn a CD. Make sure it's set to create a bootable CD. On my brother's computer this was the case. On a friend's computer I had to struggle with the burning software manually to create the CD. The floppy disk route is the easiest, but my friend didn't have any floppy disks.

You can use the "T" key to toggle between 2 groups of tests. The software will continue to make passes thru a group of tests until it's terminated or toggled to the alternate set of tests.

You can use the "X" key to exit the test program and reboot your computer. REMOVE the boot floppy or CDROM first.

I believe there is a key press to PAUSE the testing. We'll have the file at the next meeting for anyone interested. Or, you can download it from the website:

http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp

[John Deker]

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"Linux on the desktop - the man from Armonk , he say yes !"
[tidbit from report about IBM, 11/11/03]
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Prescriptions for Your Computer's Health by David Keller, a SWFPCUG consulting technician [from the Nov 2003 SWFPCUG Journal]

I. Protect your system from viruses - Keller's rules of Safe Computing Run a good antivirus program (such as Norton Antivirus) and make sure it is updated at least every two weeks. Never open an e-mail attachment unless you can answer DYes' to all of the following 4 questions: > Do you know who the e-mail message is from? > Do you know what the attachment is? > Do you know what the attachment does? > Did the sender create the attachment? (If the e-mail is forwarded, the answer to this question is No!) Never disable or turn off your antivirus protection, even if a program installation tells you to do so! Install Windows critical updates as soon as you are notified they are available. (If your system is not set up for automatic updates or critical update notification, every two weeks run Windows Update under Internet Explorer's Tools menu, scan for updates, and if any critical updates are listed, install them.) Never allow unsolicited software to be downloaded or installed on your computer.

II. Keller's First Law of Windows Never delete, rename or move any file you didn't put on the hard drive yourself with a program's "Save" or "Save As..." command, copy from a digital camera, or receive as e-mail.

(If you violate this law, Windows will not work properly, or may stop working altogether!)

III. Beware of Hoaxes Never do anything to your system based on what you read in an unsolicited e-mail message, no matter who it's from or how authentic it looks. The vast majority of these messages are hoaxes, designed to get you to mess up your computer!

Never give out personal information such as usernames, passwords, social security number or credit card numbers in response to on unsolicited e-mail message, no matter how authentic the message looks.

IV. Don't try to "help" Windows Never install programs that claim to help Windows perform better or faster. (Most of these programs are known as "utilities".)

Never install programs that claim to speed up your internet connection.

Do not change settings in the Windows Control Panel unless you know exactly what you're doing and why you're doing it.

V. Don't upgrade a program just because an upgrade is available Before you upgrade an existing program that's working fine, ask yourself, "What feature or features in the new version do I want or need that the current version does not provide?" If your answer is "I don't know", then don't upgrade!

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 the St. Augustine Center, on the Ithan Avenue side of the building.

NOTE: maps on our webpage - http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/


PC/128/64 Meetings  2003/4  Steering Committee Meetings

			December 13			December 17 **
			January 10			January 21 **
			February 14			February 18 **

	* = FOURTH Wednesday	** = THIRD Wednesday at Tom Johnson's home
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EDITOR:  Emil J. Volcheck, Jr. 1046 General Allen Lane    West Chester, PA 19382-8030
(Produced on a home-built PC: 233 MHz Pentium, 128 MB RAM, 20 GB hard drive,
Epson Stylus Color 740 printer, HP Scanjet 6300C, CD-RW drive, DVD-ROM drive and
250 MB Zip drive, using Appleworks 5.0.3)

          MLCUG LISTSERV: for members only...
                     WWW: http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/
               PUBLICITY: Robyn Josephs 610-565-4058
       VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy

MLCUG STEERING COMMITTEE:

PRESIDENT: Emil Volcheck    610-388-1581  SECRETARY: Charles Curran 610-446-5239
TREASURER: Dewitt Stewart   610-623-5145  AMIGASIG: John Deker      610-828-7897
WEBMASTER: 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