Main Line Computer Users Group


January 2006 Issue 284

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JAN 14 th


THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
UPCOMING MEETING:

It seems that a good time was had by all at the December (party) meeting! Too bad we can't have a party every meeting (well not really). For January, we'll get back to our more usual routine, beginning with an opportunity for folks to pass on news items, raise questions or pose their problems, hopefully for some resolution.

After the round table activity, we'll turn to the main program. For it, we'll tackle: Part 2 of the security subject we started in November. This time, the topics will be Anti-Spyware and the, by now world famous, Rootkits, which will be covered by member John Deker (he's the presenter, not the rootkit maker...)

After our roughly noon break, we'll have our first Advanced Topic of the New Year: Web Hosting (demonstrated with Yahoo.com tools) by John Murphy. John runs his own web site on Yahoo; so this is a real world, practical demo.


EDITORIAL: from Your Prez & Editor !

For the last three months or so, yours truly has had to deal with a cancerous lesion on my vocal cord (the cause of the increasingly hoarser voice that many of you heard in the July thru September meetings). As of this writing, it appears that the radiation therapy I was given has been successful - tho as you likely well know that is a conclusion that takes years to verify. But, my voice is now significantly improved and I feel well enough to get back into the swing of things. So, I expect to chair the January meeting. For some of you, it may not be well known that with 2006, we will finish our 24th year as an operating computer club!! There are few of the genre that can (cont'd)

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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NEW YEAR IS HERE! - we have come round to another year. With the first of January, we'll start to peel off the members who have chosen not to renew and assess where we stand.

Because our member costs - primarily this newsletter - are essentially fixed on a per member basis (going up a bit this year because of the USPS increase), we can run with 20 as well as 40 or 60 or more members. This aided by the fact that Bee.net has continued its generous support by providing free space for our web pages and the listserv. So, as I mentioned in the editorial on p.1, we can concentrate on running our meetings, getting out the newsletter (contributions from the members are ALWAYS welcome, by the way!) and seeking to locate some new members, too.

If, by chance, you have not YET renewed, how about turning to the last page of this issue, filling out the form and popping it into the mail to our trusty treasurer, John Deker, along with your check for $15 and join us for another year of what we hope will be information, support and a bit of entertainment?

SECURITY (& PRIVACY) - it is my sad duty to report that there are some people on this planet who do not have the best interests of their fellow man at heart! As we continue to add to the capabilities of the computers that are such a big factor in modern life, the opportunities to take advantage of others seem to increase in proportion (or worse).

It is necessary for every computer user to take precautions, develop a careful use style and be as informed about the various threats as possible. It should not consume all your attention, but you can not let it slip out of your consciousness.

So, we will continue to feature security/privacy topics in our meetings as new and timely stuff come to our attention. Sorry about that!!!

And, yes, if you have an idea, a suggestion or thought about subjects to be covered, please do not hesitate to communicate to the Steering Committee members (they are listed on p.3). Or you can post those ideas to the listserv where they will certainly be noticed!

OUR WEB SITE (still hosted by Bee.net) - a reminder that our faithful webmaster, Pete Whinnery, has been updating the web page format and will be most appreciative of feedback on it. Also, he'd like ideas to further improve this web site; so don't hesitate to suggest (he says he's still learning, after all these years !).

REGULAR REMINDERS

1) our email listserv 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 more 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 CD-R/RW and get it quickly done before or after the main meeting.

3) a half dozen or so of the regular attendees usually partake of lunch at 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 chewing over our common interests.

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EDITORIAL (cont'd. from p.1)

make such a claim. We owe that record to some dedicated members who carried the ball and members who have stuck thru thick and thin. We are way off our heyday of over 250 members (in the late '80s), but are still coming thru.

I hope that we can still do so in the foreseeable future, but a few of us can not do it alone. We do need to garner a bit of new blood as time goes on. In 2005, we did find a few new members (tho we lost a few, too; so on balance, we about held our numbers). I'd like to see us continue to get a few new members EACH year.

In other computer-related activities, I know that there are many, many users out there who could benefit by becoming a part of groups such as ours. The problem is getting us and them to know of each other. So, keep your eyes and ears tuned and help us pick up those new members!

With a little luck and some real effort, at this time next year, we'll be talking about our 25th anniversary!! Something to look forward to, I think. [Emil Volcheck]

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LAST MONTH'S MEETING

The December Party meeting seemed to go well! We only had 16 attendees. Probably not too bad considering the weather. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

We started the meeting a bit late as it took some time to set up Peter's computer projector and to find the raffle tickets (which were still in the locked closet). We got underway around 9:50 and first did the giveaway of the 2005 Christmas Disc - the Knoppix 4.0.2 DVD (and CD for those without DVD drives); then Peter did a demo of the DVD and some of the many applications it contains. It seemed to be well received, as he got an ovation at the conclusion.

Then we went around the table covering announcements and problems at the same time. That took us up to about 11:25 when we proceeded to eat and make merry. I stopped recording the meeting at that point.

We had a sandwich platter from Acme, which included potato salad and some Tostitos chips. Dick Brunner brought a tray with cheese, crackers and little sausage bites. We also had coffee, soft drinks and some Entenmann's cakes for dessert.

After everyone had something to eat, we did the door prizes. We gave away ten door prizes - nine packs of photo paper (from Emil) and a pack of ZIP disks (that Ted contributed). It took a while to give away all the door prizes because Marty added some "dummy" tickets to the door prize box and we must have picked more than half of them. The attendees seemed to enjoy the "suspense"...

After everyone calmed down from the door prizes, John D. counted up the money for the 50/50. We had two drawings, one for a Netgear Wireless Bridge that I brought and the other for the 50/50. Al Gottlieb won the bridge. I actually won the 50/50, but I had them draw again because I had already won a door prize. The meeting started to break up around 12:45 with much well wishing.

All in all, I think we did OK. People seemed to enjoy themselves and we didn't have much food left over. The sandwich tray was a hit and all of the sandwiches found takers.

I'd like to thank:

Peter for bringing the projector and doing the demo. Layton and Joan for bringing the coffee (and running out for hot cups!) John D. for soft drinks and handling the raffle. Tom for hosting the meeting where we planned everything and for providing comic relief at the meeting...

We make a good team! [John Murphy]

ADVANCED TOPIC

As mentioned in the email and postcard meeting notices, the Advanced Topics session has a year-end vacation. It is planned to resume with the January meeting.

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MISSED A MEETING?

Remember that recordings of the whole meeting (made and worked up for the web by John Murphy) are online for you to download and listen to. Just go to our web site (mlcug.org/) and scroll a bit down the page to locate the audio files. As of this writing, there are some 22 audio files accessible thru the web site, as MP3 files. You can give a listen at any time you choose!

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FRIED'S FAQ 4.5

The latest in John Fried's series of books, based on his regular week-end columns (now on Saturday and Sunday) in the 'Business' section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, has been issued. It is titled: "FAQ 4.5: Sound answers to real computing questions".

It has been preceded by the first three volumes: "FAQ: Satrcq", "FAQ 2.5: Satrcq" and "FAQ 3.5: Satrcq". Copies of these books have been stored in the closet at our meeting room. I will be bringing a copy of FAQ 4.5 to also leave there.

Unfortunately, it is my perception that the books have been largely ignored by meeting attendees. So, in an effort to make some use of them, I'll entertain the use of 1-month loans of the books (borrow at one meeting, return the next). How about it:? See me at the next meeting and become a borrower! [Emil Volcheck]

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FIREFOX 1.5 UPGRADE

The Firefox web browser hit a milestone last week with the release of version 1.5 in Mac, Windows and Linux flavors. It has graduated from its hacker roots and turned into a powerful, fast and easily customizable browser that anyone can use.

The latest release of Firefox improves speed and stability, allows changes in the order of sites opened in tabs, and offers many other improvements. One valuable new feature for those browsing on shared computers - or at work - is a one-click "Clear Private Data" function that flushes out any record of browsing, downloading or saved passwords.

Thousands of programmers, under the guidance of the Mozilla Foundation, have looked into every nook and cranny of Firefox's open-source code to improve it and streamline it. Many others have created themes, which change the browser's appearance, or extensions, which add all sorts of features.

There are extensions to remove flashy advertising and even some that change the way Google looks and functions. Firefox, available as a free download at getfirefox.com, is like the Volkswagen Bug: it's easy to tinker with, and when you're done, your browser is like nobody else's. [Matthew Haughey, NYT (C)2005]

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A NEW HIGH-END PC

Member John M. is planning to add to his vast collection of computing hardware, a new very high-end PC for heavy-duty use!

Here is his take on how he's thinking of going about the purchase - there are some novel thoughts here. Take a look and talk with John, if you are interested or have any comments:

I was doing some browsing on the net and came across this deal from Sun:

Basically you can get the base configuration:

for $1,078 billed in 3 yearly installments.

I would add a Sun 250 GB SATA disk for $299. I went to Crucial.com and found that I could add another GB of RAM for $136.99 and an ATI x700 PCI-Express 16 video card with 256MB of VRAM for $145.99.

My initial outlay will be $359.40 for the base config and $581.98 for the RAM, disk and video upgrades. My cost in years 2 and 3 will be $359.40 per year. The total will be about $1,660 for an industrial strength workstation with 3 years of hardware support as well as software support for Solaris.

Here is a review of the workstation:

http://www.devx.com/amd/Article/29360 I plan to run a tri-boot system: Windows XP Pro, Solaris 10 and probably CentOS for Linux. Sun has a white paper showing how to partition the drive to run multiple OSes.

The deal is good until 10-Jan-2006 (and you should have this issue a bit before then !!

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LINUX HELPERS

If you'd like to get some assistance in working with the Linux OS, here are a couple of helpers:

1) Marcel Gagne has just had the 2nd edition of his "Moving to Linux" book published. As in the first edition, the Linux he's moving to is KNOPPIX - which he has customized. The new book uses Knoppix 3.9 as the base for him to build on. Amazon has the book.

2) Also for Knoppix:

The 1st edition of "Knoppix for Dummies" is out! About 350 pages of info, plus the bootable DVD version of Knoppix 4.0.2. All for about $20, also from Amazon.com!!!

I'll bring copies of both to the January meeting for all to look at before buying [Emil Volcheck]

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CLEAR FONTS WITH CLEARTYPE

If you have a LCD monitor, a notebook, or maybe (and there's some argument about this) an older CRT monitor, you can substantially--no, dramatically--improve the look of your on-screen fonts. They'll be sharper and clearer than ever before. All you need to know about is ClearType: http://www.microsoft.com /typography/ClearTypeInfo.mspx

It's a feature built into XP that's turned off by default, oddly enough (thanks, Microsoft). You can fiddle with XP's settings to get ClearType, but it's way easier to use Microsoft's online wizard to change the setting: http://www.microsoft.com/typography/cleartype/tuner/Step1.aspx

Even better, use ClearType Tuner PowerToy: http://www.microsoft.com/typography /ClearTypePowerToy.mspx

My choice, though, is ClearTweak, a cool, free utility that lets you fine-tune ClearType, or turn it on or off in a jiffy: http://www.ioisland.com /cleartweak/ [Steve Bass, 11/9/05]

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Protect Memories From Yourself

The fact is, I'm getting older. I forget things. When I walk the dogs in the morning, I get all these great ideas--that I promptly forget once I'm back home. So I carry a digital voice recorder.

I'm using the Olympus WS-320M (about $230). It has a GB of RAM, for 35-277 hours of recordings, depending on the sound quality. I can take podcasts and music along to the gym and on trips, and with a flick of a switch, record voice memos. It has a USB connection so transferring data, music and podcasts is a snap.

For details: http://www.olympusamerica.com /cpg_section/product.asp?product=1195

BTW, if you don't want music, just to quickly record voice notes, and don't need a fancy USB connection, you can get away with paying about $30 for the VN-240: It gives you 4 hours of recording time. Check our Product Finder: http://pcworld.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=2708596/tk=sbx [by Steve Bass, PC World]


MLCUG Meetings  2006  Steering Committee Meetings

			January 14				January 18  
			February 11 				February 15  
			March 11 				March 15  

		* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday