Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


Febuary 2006 Issue 285

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - FEB 11 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

Turnout was a bit low for January, but perhaps we can blame the weather. Hopefully it does not represent a trend!

Following the Q & A, we'll get some insight into "Web Page Design" by our webmaster, Pete Whinnery.(building on the web page hosting demo by John Murphy last month). This is intended for folks who are just getting started on web page making - not already experts! Pete plans to cover the following subtopics:

After our roughly noon break, folks can hang around for the Advanced topic session, with a TBD subject.
Hot Off The Press !

Well, sort of . The Sunday, Feb 5th, edition of the West Chester paper (Daily Local News) has a writeup by columnist Brian McCullough about the newly released history of the Commodore computer era. The book is entitled: "On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore", by Brian Bagnall. It was published back in the fall, but I missed it; so this column was a wake up call. The writeup is glowing and the folks who reviewed it for Amazon.com gave it 5 stars (their top) ratings. After this much glow, I'm getting a copy. Even my wife said she'd read it! Now that's a testimonial. If anyone has read it, tell us about it. EJV

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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Security & More Security! - or should I add Privacy? But in the short time of the year-to-date, the general user of a Windows computer has been threatened twice! In January, it was the Windows MetaFile (or WMF) vulnerability threat. Rapid action on the part of a lone programmer, as well as by Microsoft itself, gave folks a needed protection that was not onerous.

That one had barely moved off the front pages when we were informed that around mid-January, a time bomb worm was set to go off on February 3 (and the 3rd of succeeding months). This threat did not concentrate of the 2K/XP crowd, but anyone using Office or Acrobat files. We all have to keep eyes and ears open; MLCUGgers can help each other a bit, too.

Our Club Status - with the start of the New Year past us, we can assess how we've done on the renewal front. As of this writing, we have 34 renewal members, plus a couple of new member prospects. These latter are recruits by Marty Caulfield who lurks around MicroCenter and snags likely prospects. If you run into folks who might be interested in our group, don't hesitate, just do like Marty does and turn them into prospects - who get our newsletter free for three months to give them a feel for what we do and, hopefully, how we can help them.

OUR WEB SITE (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 things you feel will help make it better.....

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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LAST MONTH'S MEETING

We had 15 attendees at our January 2006 meeting - a bit low, but perhaps the rather unpleasant weather is responsible(?).

Those who did come, I think, felt it was a good meeting. We had the first 1.5 hours devoted to questions, problem-solving and commentary. I have a long list of notes on many of the topics discussed and hope to include some in this newsletter.

We took a short break (with coffee provided by Joan and Layton), then moved to the main program. John Deker came back with Part 2 of his Malware story - spyware and anti-spyware was the subject. He reviewed some of the discussions over what is/is not spyware, or adware. He also covered some of the reviews of the variety of programs out there which aim to deal with the problem. Based on reviews and his working with several of the leading programs, John gave some recommendations. He ended up with a warning on rogue anti spyware programs - that masquerade as anti-spyware, but actually install the stuff!!! Let the user beware!

John's presentation - updated from his Part 1 in November, it is now available on our web site, hop over to http://mlcug.org/ and scroll down the page a bit. You'll find it as the first item under "Presentations and Topics"..

Another brief break was taken, and about half the attendees left - prior to the start, about noon, of the "Advanced Topic" session (see next item).

Sorry more of you were unable to make the meeting - we'll see you next month, right??? Cheers, EJV...

ADVANCED TOPIC

John Murphy was the presenter here - with a Part 1 on web hosting. John has been working with his own web site(s) for the better part of the last year in support of his work for Great Valley Solutions, the IT company he works for.

After looking around for various hosting options, John decided to go with the Yahoo! web hosting service. After much of last year with it, he still feels it is a good choice for folks to get going with - and has become a better choice as Yahoo has enhanced their offering very significantly in recent months.

John connected into Yahoo - showed us some of the info available to anyone looking for a host. Then, he logged into his account and gave some detailed looks at some of the inner workings as seen by a user of the service. I think we came away feeling that this service is, indeed, a good place to get started.

Watch the web site for more info from John's presentation, too.

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MISSED THE 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. Go to our web site (http://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 (including those from the January meeting sessions). You can listen any time you choose!

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A TIP

To the unknown member who was looking for help to extract specific files from .cab files on the Win CD. Go to the Microsoft support web site at http://support.microsoft.com/KB/129605 and you'll be taken to the article with very detailed directions on doing this operation. Hope this is of some help. [Marty Caulfield]

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STILL LESS PRIVACY!

If you belong to ANY Yahoo! Groups - be aware that Yahoo! is now using 'Web Beacons' to track every Yahoo! Group user. They're similar to cookies, but allow Yahoo! to record every Web site and every group you visit, even when you're not connected to Yahoo!.

Look at its updated privacy statement at http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy/ About halfway down the page, in the section on cookies, you will see a link that says WEB BEACONS. Click on the phrase "Web Beacons". On the page that opens, find a paragraph entitled "Outside the Yahoo! Network." In that section find a little "Click Here to Opt Out" link that will let you "opt-out" of its snooping. Be careful NOT to click on the next button shown. It is an "Opt Back In" button that, if clicked, will UNDO the opt-out.

Note that Yahoo!'s invasion of your privacy - and your ability to opt-out of it - is not user-specific. It is MACHINE specific. That means you will have to opt-out on every computer (and browser) you use.

We were alerted to this wrinkle by member Al Gottlieb, whom we thank very much!!!

Since this technique works thru cookies, you can gain some control by carefully managing those cookies. Note: when using Mozilla or Firefox, one has the ability (via cookieculler) to selectively save a few "good" cookies and delete with one mouse click ALL the rest. I use that regularly, and have, as a matter of fact, been deleting all Yahoo cookies and any others that might be 3rd party ones for them.

I have urged folks to use this tool - now I'll urge even harder!! Thanks, EJV...

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Clean Up Your Hard Drive After Upgrading Windows

You may be able to recover hard disk space by deleting unneeded uninstall folders. by Lincoln Spector, PC World, 3/05

Q: After installing Windows XP Service Pack 2, I found folders inside C:\Windows with such names as "$NtUninstallKB810217$". Each holds more than 800 MB of files. Can I get rid of them? Ibrahim A. Al-Harun, Chittagong, Bangladesh

A: When you update Windows 2000 or XP, the update program often saves uninstall information to a folder such as the ones you describe. If you're sure you want (to keep) the update, (you can) remove its uninstall folder.

To see your PC's saved uninstall folders, open Windows Explorer, go to C:\Windows (in Windows XP) or C:\WINNT (in Windows 2000). You may need to click 'Show the contents of this folder'. If you don't see any folders, select View, Folder Options, click the View tab, select 'Show hidden files and folders', and click OK.

The Windows Service Pack uninstall is in the folder $NtServicePackUninstall$. Others are named $NtUninstallKBnnnnnn$ or $NtUninstallQnnnnnn$ (each n represents a digit).

If the folder is more than a few weeks old, you can remove it without risk. You then won't be able to remove the associated update - not necessarily a bad thing. You can read about updates before you remove their uninstallers at http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=nnnnnn (where "nnnnnn" is the six-digit number in the folder name). [Note: you can save these folders off your PC and bring them back if needed: EJV]

To get rid of an uninstall folder, select it in Windows Explorer, press Delete, and confirm your decision. The uninstall may still be listed in the Control Panel Add or Remove Programs applet, however. To remove that, select the item and click Remove. An error message will ask whether you want to delete the entry from the list. Click Yes.

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Uninterruptible Power Supplies

In responding to a query on the EPCC list serv, I mentioned that my strategy, for at least 5 years, has been to check Staples. When they have a single system UPS for around $40, then I'm satisfied to buy.

I got one there about three weeks ago - paid $43 in Wilmington (no tax). It was an APC model, I don't have the model number, but it has eight (8) outlets on the body, 350VA/200W rating.

With UPS units, you have to be careful! If you notice the Watts (W)/VoltAmpere (VA) ratio, you get a number which is basically the power factor (PF) the unit is designed for, 200/350 = 0.57, for this unit. Almost every UPS I've seen or bought in the last five years has a power factor rating of 0.5-0.6. BUUT, most PCs that I've checked (and I've checked a few), have a PF more like 0.6 - 0.7.

If you apply that PF to the UPS, 200/0.7 = 286 VA. The IMPORTANT number is the WATTAGE, not the VA. I learned that the hard way with a 600+ VA unit I bought a couple of years ago.

If you've been OK with the previous unit, then the common 325-350VA UPS units should still do for you. I have about 10 of them on various systems, mostly APC branded. [EJV]

COMMENTS ON UPSs

While everyone in the EPCC Discussion Forum is talking about backup power supplies, for the novices, we should list a few DOs and DONTs about them. Their real name is Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), in case you did not know.

Backup power supplies are usually a boxy combination of a high-quality surge protector and battery backup. External cables like a dialup/fax phone line can usually be plugged into them too, to protect your system from lightning strikes sneaking in over the phone line. Given the bad thunderstorms we have in Chester County in the springtime, it is usually a good idea to have a UPS protecting your system. These backup power supplies are going to protect you, in that:

1) They are surge protectors (hopefully stopping the lightning from coming in), but they are not a guarantee. If it is important, make backups religiously.

2) They do clean up the power sine wave you get from PECO, but this is usually a minor consideration for most people. If you are running an auto-repair shop and your PC is on the same line as your power tools, then it is a consideration.

3) DO check the battery-good light. These units do not have infinite life. Just like any other battery-operated appliance (like your smoke detectors), they need new batteries every few years.

4) DO know what to do. When the power goes out, you have maybe 10-15 minutes of "juice" so that you can finish up your work quickly, make a backup if needed, and do an orderly shutdown of the computer. MAKE SURE OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS KNOW WHAT IT MEANS WHEN THEY HEAR THE UNIT BEEPING. MAKE SURE THEY KNOW IT IS A SIGNAL TO FINISH UP AND LOGOFF.

5) DO your planning. Because of the short time you have when the battery backup kicks in, think about what you have plugged in. The PC and the monitor DO get plugged in.

6) DON'T PLUG IN PRINTERS, especially LASER PRINTERS SHOULD NOT BE PLUGGED IN. (Once you save your work, you can come back tomorrow and print it out). Laser printers take a lot of juice to run. In the corporate environment, we make sure that no heaters, radios or fans are plugged into the UPS (you would be surprised!) Do you have an external drive for your backups? Then that needs to be plugged into the UPS!

Comments by John Voris, EPCC

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NOTE TO JOHN

Back on January 8th, I sent the following email to John Fried, the computer help columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"John - the second item in your 1/7/06 column keeps coming up (as I'm sure you are incredibly knowing about)!

But, one answer to the problem that does not seem to get mentioned is that most versions of Word (and I just checked my Word 2000) can open most WordPerfect files and preserve the formatting.

Word 2000 allows one to 'open' or 'save as': Word Perfect 5.x (*.doc) Word Perfect 6.x (*.wpd, *.doc) It seems that Word users generally never seem to learn (or want to learn) about the "Files of type" drop down box.

Many times Word users are even suggested to save as plain text - and the response is "I don't know how to do that....."!

So, instead of senders to Word users always being told to accommodate to those Word users, the Word users need to be told to LEARN TO HANDLE some of the many types of documents that Word is able to readily open or save as. Cheers, Emil Volcheck

A couple of days later, John replied: Thanks... may use this on my Web site...

John J. Fried,Technology Columnist Philadelphia Inquirer


        MLCUG Meetings  2006           Steering Committee Meetings

			
	February 11 				February 15  
	March 11 				March 15  
        April 8                                 April 12

   * = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday