Main Line Computer Users Group


October 2004 Issue 269

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - OCTOBER 9 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 have some words or discussion on security and privacy issues. Later in this issue is a discussion on spam popups and a method to reduce their ability to cause problems.

However, a new threat has surfaced - the use of modified jpeg images to carry trouble. We can devote a bit of time to that one - or any others that may be troubling you.

Then, we'll pick up where we left off last month, more-or less finishing our go-round on the open source software suite called: MOZILLA.

Last time, we demoed the installation of a half dozen or so "plug-ins" (like Adobe Reader) to add extra functionality to browsers.

We'll re-run the demo of the email function, this time using a REAL account to watch it work! It should be a lot more realistic to get and send the email, rather than saying "here's how it should work"!


US bars backdoor pop-up adverts

The ads appeared on screen even if no one was using the PC! US regulators have acted against a company that used a Microsoft Windows loophole to bombard PCs with pop-up ads. [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! With the arrival of October, our formal renewal time is here, us as we offer folks who join after October 1st, 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).

We've mentioned it before, but, if you know any computer users that could benefit from being a member of MLCUG, bring 'em along!!

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

Attendance for September totalled 22 folks, including one guest - much better than expected. Hopefully, it indicates continued interest in the alternate browser demonstration (and maybe intentions to try it???).

As usual, we started with a few announcements that covered:

1) Windows XP Service Pack 2, which is continuing to generate controversy over how safe it is to install and how much of the Windows, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express security problems it takes care of. We suggest that you wait a bit longer, then follow the process that has been laid out in messages to the list. There will be an updated process suggested and emailed out. Also, we have the Microsoft CD version (475 MB of stuff) and are allowed to provide copies to folks. So, we'll plan to do that. See the notice elsewhere in the issue.

2) Maxtor "One-Touch" External Hard Drive - member Ralph Hose brought in one of these devices, his latest toy. He showed it off and briefly described how he uses it. He is extremely pleased with it as an easy-to-use backup tool. He had no difficulty in setting it up for what he wants to back up and have it do so automatically as the days go by. YOU might want to add one of these to your Christmas List!!

3) John Murphy noted that Staples has a dedicated CD duplicator device, that contains a CD-ROM drive and a 52X CD-RW drive - with a USB 2.0 interface. It lets you do stand-alone CD dupes, or use it as an external CD drive or CD burner. The device costs $130 after rebate - way down from a couple of years ago when he bought such a device (that, in addition to costing much more, was also much slower!). Not for everyone, but will come in handy for making Service Pack 2 copies !

4) Layton Fireng passed around a very old photo that aged to a uniform dirty yellow color with almost no details visible of the original picture. Along with it was the restoration done very simply in Photoshop. A remarkable achievement. We'll have to have him do a demo on this process at a future meeting - watch for it!

After getting thru the group and letting everyone have an opportunity to chime in, we turned the meeting over to Pete Whinnery for Part 2 on using the alternate web browser - MOZILLA.

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Mozilla Internet Suite - Part 2

As announced in the newsletter, the objective of today's program was to demo the installation of browser plug-ins. These are add-on programs that any browser can call on, when it needs to do something that is beyond its normal features - like showing a movie, playing a recording or running one of the flood of JAVA applets that websites use to animate things.

With Mozilla, the process of installing these things is very straightforward. The Mozilla website has a section devoted to assisting you in doing this task. Using Mozilla 1.7.2 that we had installed on the club PC last month, Pete jumped to the webpage by:

Alternatively you can go to the page by typing in the URL:

http://www.mozilla.org/products/mozilla1.x/

This page has a huge set of links to everything you ever wanted to know about plug-ins and then some! But, for today, at least, we concentrated on the "Most Popular " that were listed right near the top of the page.

Following the instructions, Pete took one of two paths to install the plug-ins:

  1. download the plug-in and install offline or

  2. for those which have a .xpi version (for Windows XP installer), he could install while the browser was running without first downloading.
For this latter option, you'll want to have a fast connection to help insure there is no interruption in the download as installation proceeds.

Pete started the process with Adobe's Acrobat Reader (actually now called Adobe Reader) 6. The link on the webpage took us to the Adobe website where we could download the file. Once that was done, he closed Mozilla, and the Mozilla Quick Launch, the ran the downloaded installer file.

In the case of those that could be installed online, he just clicked the link and let the installation proceed on its own accord.

To complete this phase of the demo. Pete also installed Sun's "JAVA", Macromedia's "Flash Player" and "Shockwave Player" and, finally, Real's "RealPlayer". So far as we could tell, all the installations went correctly - time will tell!

Since we had some meeting time left, Pete then turned to the Mozilla "Mail & Newsgroups" application. He opened it (click the "Window" menu item, then click "Mail & Newsgroups"). Then he clicked the "Add Account" option, then "email account". He proceeded thru the steps, entering dummy information just to show the steps that one goes thru. The process was similar to other email clients (like Outlook Express). So, if you have used another client, you'll find this one similar to set up.

We hope folks will try the browser and get some of the security and privacy that it offers (at least for the nonce)!

Note: because of the number of plug-ins and the relatively large download task (about 100 MB) for the initial ones, we can provide those who have dialup accounts with a CD they can borrow and copy the files to their hard drive to install all of them offline. Let us know, if you'd like to borrow a CD and we'll have one ready for you at the next meeting.

As for last time, all aspects of the demonstration went smoothly; so we congratulate Pete on another job well done!!

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SYSTEM RESTORE

Finally, I found out what types of files System Restore pays attention to and which not.

Turns out there is a file on your computer that contains the list of excludes and includes. Most of the includes are by file extension and there are 576 different file extensions in the list!!! I've printed out that list and will bring it next time; so we can uhhh and ahhh and ohhh over it!

If you are interested, the place to look is:

C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\RESTORE \filelist.xml

The file has an xml extension, but Mozilla says there's no formatting in it. You can just open it in Notepad or such. By printing 2-column pages, I got it down to 8 pages. [Emil Volcheck]

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A Bit of Relief From Computers!

+ Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine. + A backward poet writes inverse. [Courtesy of Joe Pizzirusso]

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US bars backdoor pop-up adverts

[continued from p.1] San Diego-based D Squared has been banned from using a little known feature, Windows Messenger, to send unwanted adverts to computer owners.

Ironically, the pop-ups were advertising soft-ware which blocked pop-ups.

The company admitted no wrong-doing and received no financial penalties. It claimed it settled to avoid litigation.

Annoyance The Federal Trade Commission (FTC ) found that the ads violated consumer protection law.

According to the FTC, the pop-ups sent by D Squared could appear even when a user was not actively web browsing.

It said that they appeared as often as every 10 minutes, causing data loss and, in some cases, computer crashes.

D Squared was created by two college students, Anish Dhingra and Jeffrey Davis.

It is alleged that their company tried to sell its technique to others, claiming it could send pop-ups to as many as 135,000 internet addresses each hour. Lawyers for the pair said that they were not trying to extort consumers by bombarding them with ads, and argued they only intended to send one a day to computer users.

Ads were "an annoyance you have to deal with in a free society," lawyer Anthony J. Dain is quoted as saying.

Loophole The Messenger service in Windows allows computer network administrators to commun-icate with each other, but is unnecessary for home users.

D Squared has also been banned from sending pop-up ads over the hugely popular instant messenger services, which allow users to communicate in real-time.

It will also have to let the FTC monitor its business activities for the next five years.

The loophole has led Microsoft to take steps to prevent its Messenger service from being used as a conduit for advertisements in future.

Although marketers regard pop-ups as one of the most effective ways of advertising online, many surfers find them hugely annoying!

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Disable Windows Messenger

To disable the messenger service:

* Click Start then click Control Panel (or point to Settings, and click Control Panel) * Double-click Administrative Tools Double-click Services Double-click Messenger In the Startup type list, click Disabled. Click Stop, and then click OK

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SP 2's Installation CD

If you would like a copy of the installation CD for Windows XP Service Pack 2, let us know. We'll crank out a copy of the Microsoft CD and swap it to you for a blank CD-R disk. It will be accompanied by the latest version of our suggested procedure - to supplement whatever Microsoft provides on that CD. Just pop an email to Emil (emilv@ccil.org) or call him at 610-388-1581, to get on the list for a copy.

If you use XP (or expect to), you should have a copy of the SP 2. Even if you do not plan to use it right now, if you install it at some point, you'll need your own copy to have for a future disaster where you need to re-install your XP system!

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 we do that, we'll prepare the computer as discussed in last month's article.

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RECOVERY TALE!

Last month, I was approached by a person with some old Macintosh disks that they wanted to get the files off to use on their PC. They thought the files were most likely Microsoft WORD for Mac files, but were not sure.

I fed the disks into my near dormant Mac, which had no trouble whatsoever reading them. The files were intact - from mid 1994.

Very interestingly, one of the floppies had a copy of Microsoft Word for Macintosh on it. So, I was able to run that and confirm the files were really readable and were, indeed, MS Word for Macintosh files.

Just for the record, MS Word for Macintosh fit on a single floppy disk - with room to spare (it now typically takes more than 50 MB of hard drive space)!!!!!

I transferred the files to a PC formatted zip disk and then plugged into a PC. The files could be opened, with formatting retained, in Microsoft Word 2000, as soon as I put the proper extension (.mcw) on the filenames.

As near as I can tell, no special precautions were taken to preserve the floppies, most were unmarked and came in a very delapidated FUJI floppy disk box!

One more reason to hang on to some of the older technology! We all will likely have to recover some old files that we forgot to archive and preserve!! FYI, [Emil Volcheck]

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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!