Main Line Computer Users Group


July 2005 Issue 278

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JUL 9 th


THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
UPCOMING MEETING:

As my recent email to the listserv announced, we plan to change the arrangement and emphasis of the monthly meetings. We'll not likely stick strictly to fixed times, but we'll play it by ear until we see if we have something to work with for a while, at least.

So, the first part of the session will be aimed to deal with questions, problems, tips, tricks and so forth, to assist the less experienced folks. This will require input from them.

A short break will be taken. Then, we'll cover a couple of current topics: first, Pete Whinnery will demonstrate the new RSS web technology, using the Firefox browser, to provide active links to web pages you want to keep track of.

Then, Emil Volcheck will review installing and getting started on a key piece of freeware, the OpenOffice.org suite from the MLCUG CD.

Next, around noon, another brief break, followed by the advanced users turn. Pete tells me that he wants to show off his customizations for the Knoppix live linux CD - for his UPenn students.


MALWARE PRODUCTION CONTINUES !!

The malware writers continue unabated, here's a sample reminder of the need for vigilance:

"Several people have reported receiving suspicious emails with the subject lines similar to : "God Bless America!", "Captured! Finally!" and "Finally! Captured!". The emails are an attempt to get users to open the attached .zip file by offering information about [continued on p.5]

#######################################
ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
#######################################

MORE ABOUT SECURITY - the emphasis of the malware community seems to be focusing on garnering your personal information. IBM reported that phishing incidents went up 200% in the month of May! Right and left, we've heard of major breeches of massive databases of personal information. So, I guess it behooves all of us to begin paying more attention to any signs that something has happened to our own info.

I understand that, on September 1st, we will all become eligible to receive three free crdit reports each year, tho not all at one time.

Since there are three major credit reporting agencies, a suggested strategy is to request a report each year from each of them - spread thru the course of the year. Hopefully, there will be general publicity about this new "benefit". If you hear anything, let's plan to share what we learn with the rest of the group. Fair enough?

OUR WEBSITE - just a reminder that our faithful webmaster, Pete Whinnery, will be most appreciative of ideas to improve the usability and value of this website; so don't hesitate to suggest (he says he's still learning, after all these years !).

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 (we have hit 800+ KBps, that's really moving - tho past performance is no guarantee of the future!). If you have a BIG download, you can bring along a zip disk (or a CD-R/RW) and get it done before or after the main meeting.

3) a half dozen or so of the regular attendees usually partake of lunch. We have now transferred our affections to the Country Squire diner in Havertown at Route 3 and 320. So, after the meeting, why not join us? It is a good time to get a little more help (or give it) and just have fun talking about our common interests.

***************************************
LAST MONTH'S MEETING

Attendance was off a tad this month, with only 17 folks showing up for the meeting. Too bad so many missed, as we had a couple of specials this meeting!

One was an experiment, hosted by member Joan Stanford (with an assist by Layton Fireng), a coffee break about mid meeting time. As far as I could tell, it went over well. I expect we'll try again next month - then take a survey as to whether folks would like to have it continued. How about coming next time, try the format and give us your view?

Meeting Recording - John Murphy made another attempt to capture the discussion this time - different mike setup compared to last month. Hopefully, we'll get a setup that does a decent job; so we can make recordings available to those who are not able to make a meeting. We'll keep folks posted.

The meeting commenced with some announce-ments on my part, then we went round the table for comments, etc. from attendees. Some highlights include:

FIOS (FIber Optics System), John Murphy gave us an update on how the Verizon fiber optics have done, now that he's had a tad over a month of use. He summed it up in two words "it works"! There have been no problems, the internet speeds have been maintained, the VONAGE internet phone service continued to work well, the regular phone service still shows the improved quality he noted last time. One surprise: John routinely has logged the number of unrequested probes from the 'net on his system. Before FIOS, he got many hundreds each day (on Comcast high speed cable internet), but since it was installed, there have been very markedly fewer. He's not sure why this is, unless Verizon is doing some blocking on their end - a welcome change, in any case.

Commodore Blood still in your veins? - John Deker brought in a show-and-tell, a device that appears to be an ordinary joystick (tho with a rather thick base). He got it at a local Toys-R-Us for about $20. It turns out to have essentially a fully operational Commodore 64, with 30 built-in games. Plug it into your TV, fire it up and you get the old C-64 scenes on your screen and are ready to play. John agreed to give a demo next time. So, even if you are not an ex-Commodorean, you may want to see what new IC technology can do! Make sure it still works next month, John!!

Spybot and a mouse - Ted Korlishin reported that he had got a new Logitech cordless mouse and found out that Spybot reports the whole thing as SPYWARE! No resolution as of yesterday, hopefully Ted will let us know of further learnings on this oddity!!

Drive Image problem - some newer PCs are coming with the high speed SATA (Serial ATA) hard drives. Rich Tave reported that an acquaintance who has installed a SATA drive was unable to make a backup image with Drive Image. If anyone else hears of such a problem, let us know. (Note: after the meeting, I ran a test on a PC equipped with a SATA hard drive - a 250 GB model running Windows XP Pro and with about 14 GB of stuff on it. Using Drive Image 2002, I made an image in about 37 minutes (a backup rate of 386 MB/min) with no problems found). Anyone else???

At this point in the meeting, we took a short break - had some freshly brewed coffee (none of that instant stuff!) - and chatted for a few minutes while things were set up for the main demo.

MLCUG OpenCD V2.0M

As announced, the main topic was a long awaited review of the CD that had been prepared by member John Murphy (with assistance from Pete Whinnery) as a door prize for our December 2004 meeting. Everyone who attended the meeting, got a copy (and folks who could not make the meeting received copies afterwards).

Today's demo was two-fold:

1) briefly review the contents of the CD (brief reviews since there is a passel of stuff on it!).
2) Demonstrate how the CD was produced.

For the first part, John inserted the CD and let it autorun to bring up the MLCUG logo screen and the customized menu window. He selected the "OpenCD" option - the main part of the CD and stepped thru the roughly 23 applications and utilities included in this part. We'll not go thru them in this account - but urge you - if you have not gone thru it yet - to check them out. Each item includes a description of its function, an installer and a web link. If you have a question, bring it up at a meeting (or post to the listserv), I'll have a copy of the CD at meetings for possible hands-on responses.

One part that John did not show off was the large hunk consisting of a Linux distribution called "Ubuntu Linux". It sounds African (and looks it, if you run it). It's a live CD type of distro, like Knoppix that we have worked with in recent meetings. Try that one, too.

This brought us to about 11:30 and some folks had to leave (which was why the contents were reviewed first). John then moved on to the second part.

MAKING MLCUG OpenCD V2.0M

This CD contains two major chunks - the open source OpenCD (see above) - and the "MLCUG Extras". So, the assembly required making a CD with all these items, then providing the autorun piece that would open the CD and provide the four choices needed to make it useful.

The secret to doing it "very easily" (according to John!!) is a freeware utility called: "CDStarter". You can review it (and download the latest version): www.wentnet.com/projects/cdstarter/

John fired up this utility and stepped thru the choices that one needs to make to have it generate the autorun, the MLCUG splash image, the menu window and the links on the menu to the functions that he wanted to incorporate.

Prior to the meeting, I had put a copy of all the files that make up the final product on the BTO. John ran the CDStarter and placed the critical files in the folder with all the other files. The last step was to burn a CD containing all this stuff. Which he then did. The burn went successfully in a few minutes - followed by the acid test!

After he closed the burning software, John ejected the CD, then put it back. As expected and hoped, the CD auto ran, displayed the MLCUG logo, then displayed the menu window, just as the original CD did. SUCCESS!! IT WORKED!!

Our thanks to John for another successful demo (this is becoming a habit, wow!)!

Remember, you can always try things and have your questions if something does not go according to plan...

Well, that's about all for this summary, but one other special item should be mentioned - see it next. [Emil Volcheck].

NERO UTILITY

During the round table, a mention was made of a utility that is part of the Nero CD/DVD burning software. It tells you what kind of disc you have. I had heard of this before, but had never used it. So, after coming home, I probed my Nero program installation and found there are actually three (3) utilities. These are small stand-alone apps that do not require Nero to be installed. If you don't have Nero, you may want to get a copy from a friend who does. Here is a brief description: CD-DVD Speed - tests the performance of your CD or DVD burner.

Drive Speed - lets you control the READ speed of your optical drives.

Drive Info - provides a passel of information about the various drives on your system, as well as giving information about the characteristics (type, speed, contents) of a CD or DVD disc in the optical drives. If you have some generic discs and aren't sure of what they are, just put the disc in the drive, run this utility and wait a bit - the info will come. With the disc info tab selected, you pop discs in and out of the drive and have them identified. Keep this one in mind!. Emil Volcheck.

***************************************
MALWARE PRODUCTION

(cont'd. from p.1) the supposed capture of Osama bin Laden. The .zip attachment actually contains a new trojan virus "downloader Trojan, Small-AXR" .

The body of the message has the description similar to the following: "Turn on your TV. Osama Bin Laden has been captured. While CNN has no pictures at this point of time, the military channel (PPV) released some pictures. I managed to capture a couple of these pictures off my TV. I've attached a slideshow containing all the pictures I managed to capture. I apologize for the low quality, its the best I could do at this point of time. Hopefully CNN will have pictures and a video soon. God bless the USA!"

Like similar emails, the devil is in the attachment! And, since it keeps coming up, I'll repeat my rules of "Practicing Safe Email Attachments": Whenever you receive an email attachment and BEFORE you open it, ask yourself these four questions:

Do I know who the email is from? Do I know what the attachment is? Do I know what the attachment does? Does the attachment ORIGINATE from the person who is sending it to me?

ONLY, if you can answer "Yes" to ALL four questions, you can be assured that you may open the email attachment with impunity.

And, remember, if an email attachment has been been forwarded, it already fails item #4 !! [by Emil Volcheck]

***************************************
RELIEF FROM COMPUTERS!

[Courtesy of Joe Pizzirusso]

***************************************
A COUPLE OF TIPS

REMOVING TEMP FILES: First do a Disk Cleanup.

A thorough way of eliminating many unnecessary temp files is to click on Start, Find or Search, then Files or Folders. In the blank Named box type *.tmp and then click Find Now or Search. This will find all files on the drive ending in *.tmp - all of which are unnecessary, including some stray ones that may have found their way into other directories.

Now Delete. All temporary files on the hard drive will be eliminated.

Additional tmp files can be found by doing the following:

    Click on the START menu.
  1. Click "Run"
  2. Enter %temp%
  3. Click OK.
That will open your temp folder. Delete all files that can be deleted.

Then also in "Run" enter %systemroot%\Temp and click Okay. Delete all these files that can be deleted. Now empty the Recycle Bin.

You may get a message that a particular file cannot be deleted. If so Select that file and then go to Edit Invert Selection. Now all files except the pesky one are Selected so Delete them. If you get another trouble-some file it will be at the top of the list so Select all below it and again Delete. Eventually you will have deleted all but a very few files that you can live with.

Another suggestion: Open Internet Options, then Advanced and near the bottom check "Empty Temporary Internet Files" when browser is closed. With these temporary files removed your computer will work more efficiently. Good Luck. Stan (of SWFPCUG)

REDUCING PHOTO FILE SIZE: For emailing, etc.

For this purpose, you need to decide how big you want the smaller pix to be. Assuming that they are going to be displayed on the monitor (and NOT printed as photos), then you have the following:

  1. 15/17" CRTs have a 0.28 mm dp (91 dpi)
  2. 15" LCDs have .297 mm dp (86 dpi)
With 88 dpi average and the screen image of about 4 inches wide, you'll need about (4 x 88 =) 350 pixels to do the job.

I fired up Irfanview, loaded one of my camera's images (1280x960, jpeg, about 300 KB in size). Then, I had Irfanview re-size to 350x262, a quicky. I saved that file as a jpeg. Result: ~21 KB (or 93% less).

You can't compress a jpeg image by very much, as they are very highly and efficiently compressed. My recollection is that using something like Winzip on my camera images only cuts the size by 1%, not the 90% that resizing gives you.

If your recipient needs to print the images as hires, glossy photos, then you'll need your much bigger 2-300 KB images!! [Emil Volcheck]


                  PC/128/64 Meetings  2005  Steering Committee Meetings

			July 9				July 13  *
			August 13 			August 17  **
			September 10 			September 14  *

	* = SECOND Wednesday	** = THIRD Wednesday location TBD
*********************************************************************************