Main Line Computer Users Group


September 2004 Issue 268

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - SEPTEMBER 11 th


THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
UPCOMING MEETING:

We'll follow our normal format of a round table of announcements and Q&A. But, with an eye on the clock, in case it gets too vigorous!

Then, we'll pick back up on the security and privacy theme. Unfortunately, as I've noted before, we're devoting massive resources to this task, but there seems no other way (or end!)!!

This issue devotes a lot of space to the Windows XP Service Pack 2 which was finally released by Microsoft on August 6 to the home computer users of the world. It has caused a passel of publicity and discussion - we'll spend a few minutes on it. Please review our articles...

Then, we'll pick back up where we left off last month, going for improved security and privacy on the internet, via the open source software suite called: MOZILLA.

Last time, we did the inital installation and setup. This included a step-by-step progression thru its options (click "Edit", click "Preferences").

This time, Pete Whinnery will show us the installation of some key "plug-ins" and, time permitting, the email client function. See you?


Windows XP Service Pack 2 Installation

Following last month's article on the arrival of Microsoft's Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, we reiterate that, if you are using Windows XP, you should plan on installing the Service Pack 2. But, because of potential problems, just not until after about mid September! [continued]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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ANOTHER YEAR GONE BY? - yes, it has and we hope that ALL our current members will feel enough value in the group to renew! That time has come upon us as we offer folks who join after that month, or any of the remaining months of the year, a membership term that includes all those months plus the next calendar year for the low, low price of $15 (which has not changed for many years). The Steering Committee has decided our finances are in good shape; so we'll stay with no change from last year.

REMEMBER OUR ROOTS? - member Marty Caulfield called my attention to the following website: http://oldcomputers.net. Very touching for anyone who was involved when the personal computer age got going - all the old systems are registered on it for you to browse.

But, one special one that I noted hits even closer to home - it's the "Commodore Gallery" - at: http://www.zimmers.net/cbmpics/index.html

Take a look and weep a little.....

OUR WEBSITE - just a reminder that 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 (he says he's still learning!).

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.

2) attendees know that we have a very fast internet connection from the VU meeting room (recently we hit 800+ KBps, now that's really moving - tho past performance is no guarantee of the future!). So, if you have a very large download, you can bring along a zip disk (or a CD-R/RW) and get it done there, 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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LAST MONTH'S MEETING

Our turnout for this month was 19 folks, including one guest. The meeting started with a few announcements, then a round-table of Q&A. The program on the Mozilla alternate web browser followed.

During the round table, several items of special interest were covered:

Emil Volcheck opened things with a discussion of the just launched Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. An item elsewhere in this issue addresses the topic - heavily aimed to "don't install yet"!!

As a techno-tidbit, I mentioned that the SONY company is preparing to move to commercialization with their "Blu-Ray" blue laser based optical drives. This technology allows a standard size disc to hold about 25 GB, single layer, and about 50 GB, dual layer or about 6X the capacity of current DVD technology. No exact timing, but be prepared for a lot of sparring around while standards are again battled over!!

Ralph Hose mentioned that he had recently got one of the Maxtor One-Touch external hard drives for backing up critical stuff. He has been very pleased with its ease of operation, so far. He'll bring it in next time for folks to get a look at this relatively new technology.

John Murphy showed us a new device from Linksys, their "Network Storage Link" interface (Model NSLU2). It lets you place something like the Maxtor One-Touch USB drive onto your home network so it can be used for file storage by any computer on the system - avoids having to carry the thing from one to another and provides for excellent ease of file sharing and archiving. He mentioned that Linksys and Maxtor have a combo deal rebate going on the interface, plus a Maxtor drive. If you've got a couple (or more) computers on a home LAN, this could be a very attractive option.

Note: this device uses a Linux file format for the attached hard drive. So, you need to hook up an unformatted USB hard drive, then let the link do the formatting. You will not be able to use the hard drive on a Windows machine; so plan on keeping it dedicated to your LAN service.

Stew Stewart, our treasurer, gave his usual finances report - indicating solvency. He also noted that the renewal time is upon us and that he had already got a renewal for 2005! Now, all we need is about 25-30 more and we'll be in business for another year!

He also showed us flip-type glasses add-on to make viewing a computer screen easier if you wear glasses. It's available from optometrists.

After these topics (and some others) had been covered, Emil took over for today's program (sort of a fill-in for the originally planned presenter). As mentioned in the newsletter, interest has been increasing in web browsers that may be less vulnerable to security breaches than Internet Explorer, which has been inundated with problems. Alternate browsers are not necessarily free of problems, but they are just not the main targets for hacker attention. Using one can buy you some comfort time until, and if, they become more targeted.

Check us out next time for Mozilla- Part 2.

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Mozilla Internet Suite - Part 1

To start us on the program for August, we had decided to install the MOZILLA suite on the club PC and get it set up for initial use.

I use the term suite because, like its source, Netscape Communicator, Mozilla is a multi-use package of web browser, email client, webpage editor and IRC chat applications. For today's demo, we looked at only to the web browser.

First, we uninstalled a slightly earlier version of Mozilla; so we could start from scratch and install and set up the latest version - Mozilla 1.7.2. The installer had been downloaded before the meeting from http://www.mozilla.org/

Second, we installed the new version - using its default settings. This only took about a minute (or less) and we were up with Mozilla on-line and connected to its own website. No hitches!

Third, like Netscape, Mozilla calls its configuration stuff - preferences - which we got to by clicking the "Edit" menu item, then selecting "Preferences". Which produced a long list of categories available for user fiddling.

I opted NOT to try to adjust all the possibilities, as we were not going to worry about the webpage editor (called "Composer") or the email client (called "Mail & Newsgroups") or the chat application (called "ChatZilla") at this time.

So, we tackled the categories of: "Appearance", "Navigator" (the web browser), "Privacy & Security" and "Advanced". Within each of these, we stepped thru almost all of the suboptions, made selections (each of which I discussed a rationale for), then exited this function; so they could take effect.

Fourth, we took a look at several of the "Tools", particularly the Cookie, Popup, Form, Password and Download Managers. Some of these tools are not available to Internet Explorer; so they are quite new to many of our members.

All in all, the user control available is very diverse (and unfortunately, equivalently complex)! We will continue to use Mozilla at our meetings; so folks can get used to it. And, we will demo some other parts of the package in future meetings. Next month, we hope to demo the installation of some "plug-ins" which add functionality to the browser; so come on down and join in then...

NOTE: even tho Mozilla is very powerful, you will still need to make use of Internet Explorer, because:

- some websites only work with IE - some webpage info prints differently with each browser and you will need both to get your needs fulfilled.

Firstly, I took us to: http://www.wcseniors.org/. This local website for the West Chester Area Senior Center will NOT WORK with Mozilla! It uses html code that is specific to Internet Explorer; so you gotta have IE to view it!!

Secondly, I took us to the CCIL webmail application to show how IE and Mozilla will give you vastly different printouts. So, again, you gotta have IE to get what you want!

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Finicky Computers!

For some time we had, as you'll recall, a space on a small server at Villanova for our web page and download area. The webpage has moved off that system to mlcug.org/ But, the downloads space is still there and we will continue to put stuff there occasionally for members to go after.

However, unannounced to us, the university has changed their domain name. No longer satisfied with "vill.edu", they are now "villanova.edu"; so you'll need to change your bookmark (or favorite) to encompass the change; so it's now: astro4.ast.villanova.edu/mlcug/downloads/ [Pete Whinnery]

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The Top Ten Software Titles

The list speaks for itself and our times:

  1. Norton AntiVirus
  2. Norton Internet Security
  3. Office Student/Teacher
  4. Spy Sweeper
  5. XP Home upgr
  6. Norton Systemworks
  7. McAfee VirusScan
  8. Spy Sweeper
  9. XP Pro upgr
  10. Streets and Trips

The un-indented half are security driven!!

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A Bit of Relief From Computers!

[Courtesy of Joe Pizzirusso]

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Microsoft's XP SP2 Installation

[continued from p.1]
Before that time arrives, you should ready for it as follows:

  1. Keep looking for information, bulletins, email notices, etc. for experience reports on any problems that are identified with SP 2 and take that into consideration when YOU do so.
  2. Get the latest updates for the drivers and programs installed on your computer
    • this could take some digging!
    • you may need these, if SP 2 doesn't tolerate your present ones
  3. Maintain your firewall, anti-virus, etc. protections, before and AFTER SP 2!
  4. When ready to install SP2, properly prepare your computer:
    • delete temp files (in C:\TEMP, C:\WINDOWS\TEMP, C:WUTEMP)
    • do not recent day's items
    • delete temporary internet files (in Internet Explorer)
    • remove unwanted cookies (however your browser does this)
    • empty the recycle bin
    • update your anti-virus and do a complete system scan
    • update your anti-spyware and do a complete system scan
    • run check disk and fix any errors
    • run the disk defragmenter
    • make a COMPLETE system backup and, if possible, store a copy on an external medium
  5. Install SP2 right after you have that full backup; so nothing will be lost, if you have to do a restore, preferably, use the CD-based version of SP2 to do this update. I suggest the following process:
    • disconnect your internet connection (modem or broadband cable)
    • turn off all applications you are running, including anti-virus and firewall
    • you may want to use End-It-All or similar utility to help you
    • perform the SP 2 installation, following any on-screen instructions exactly
    • you may have to restart your computer, maybe more than once
    • when the install is finished, power down your computer
    • wait at least 30 seconds, then power up
    • all your normal applications and protective utilities should be back running
    • reconnect your internet cable and check that operation is OK
  6. Keep a closer than usual watch on how your system performs to see if there are any adverse effects noticeable.
    • NOTE: you will be faced with some new interfaces; so be prepared
    • NOTE: one such is the new "Security Center" - use it to turn off the XP firewall, if you are using another product (you should be)
  7. Be sure to let the rest of us know about your experiences, especially the problems!
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SP 2's Installation CD

I have downloaded the SP 2 package (266 MB) and prepared an install CD (which has 336 MB of stuff on it after the download has been decompressed). I will have it when we next get together in September.

We're considering doing a demo install of it on the BTO PC; so folks can see just how it goes - for when the time comes for them to do it.

If I do that, we'll prepare the computer as discussed in the preceding article.

Note: John Deker has received the free CD that Microsoft is now providing (he got his order in early!). It contains about 475 MB of stuff. He'll bring it to the next meeting; so we can compare it to the CD that I put together from the internet downloadable 266 MB file.

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HELP WANTED!

Your faithful Steering Committee (see p.7) is always looking for suggestions for meeting program topics. How about letting us have your thoughts, interests and suggestions? And, if you know someone who you think might make a good presentation - or if YOU'd like to do one yourself - be sure to get the word on that to the Committee, too!

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AUTOMATIC UPDATE ON/OFF

Since Microsoft has enabled automatic updating to install SP 2, you'll want to turn it off for now. That is, until you are ready to do the install from the CD as discussed elsewhere in this issue.

Here's the reminder on that:

	Right-click the "My Computer" icon
	Click "Properties"
	Click the "Automatic Updates" tab
	Click to put a dot in the circle by:
	"Turn off automatic updating, I want
	to update my computer manually."

After the CD installation of Service Pack 2, you can come back to this box and change the auto updating to whatever option you want to operate with in the future.