Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


April 2006 Issue 287

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - APR 8 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

We have a very special treat for all attendees. Our long time Villanova sponsor, Prof. Frank Maloney, will be our presenter! He has not appeared for one of our meetings in lo these many years. But, folks who've been around for a while will recall how informative and enjoyable each of his talks has been. Mark your calendars!

We will have Q & A, probably a bit shortened. Then, Prof. Maloney will take over to cover two very contemporary topics: firstly, SKYPE, internet telephoning (see p.2 for info), then SLINGBOX, an internet entertainment tool (more info also on p.2).

After our roughly noon break, the Advanced session will take up Part 2 of the "VMware & VM Player" topic. For Part 2, presenter, Pete W will concentrate on how to manage the installation of the VM Player software and how to install the VMs (the Virtual Machines, or virtual computers). [EJV]


Future Meeting Programs...

One subject that always takes up significant time at the monthly meetings of the Steering Committee (those folks are listed on p.7) is meeting topics. At times, our list is so short that we can only deal with the upcoming meeting. Other times, we have a longer working list and can pick and choose. What we are missing most is input, suggestions from the bulk of the members! Is there a topic you'd like to have covered? Is there one that you would like to present (a quicky or even a full talk)? If so, please do not hesitate to let us know - call, write, email, post to the list. We very much want to hear from YOU! So, don't be shy, pipe up!!

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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April Meeting Topics (from Prof Maloney):

SKYPE is software for your computer that enables a telephone-like connection over the Internet to another Skype-equipped computer. It is available for Linux, Mac OS X, Pocket PC, and in the Windows version, enables video connection on a high-speed line using a webcam. The software is free and there is no charge for using it. Skype also has the ability to originate and receive conventional phone calls for a fee. Skype is particularly valuable for routine long-distance communication with family and close friends.

SLINGBOX is a network appliance that connects to your TV cable box, satellite box, or any video & audio source in one location and enables you to watch & hear that source with your computer from any other location. Slingbox connects to the Internet using your router. It is most often used to "placeshift", watching your home TV while you are traveling.

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

Our March meeting had 17 in attendance, and they all took part in a lively hour plus of comments, questions and answers. As has been the case in the several months, this meeting format seems to be working for us.

MAIN MEETING TOPIC:

Our presenter was Emil V, who covered his personal approach to "Organizing & Protecting Your Personal Files". He's been giving this presentation to his local Senior Center's weekly computer forum and also gave the story to the North Wilmington club, PCUG.

A pdf file containing all the charts used is posted on the web site. Jump to the home page, scroll down a tad to the "Presentations & Topics" group. It's the first item.

ADVANCED TOPIC

After the noon break, the folks remaining for the advanced session were treated to another good demo by Pete W. As it turns out, this is Part 1 of what will be a 3-part tale. The subject is "VMware and the VM Player" - where VM means "virtual machine". As with Emil's talk, Pete's is posted to the web site right along side as the second item. Part 2 will be at the April meeting and Part 3 at the May - see p.1 in this newsletter. [Emil V]

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MISSED THE MEETING?

Remember that recordings of the meetings (made and worked up for the web by John M) 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, these audio files from last August to March 2006, and they are accessible from the web site, as MP3 files. You can listen any time you choose! Thanks to John M for the yeoman efforts he puts in to get these files available very soon after the meeting itself (typically it's only a couple of days). [EJV]

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TIDBIT: SAVING AN ENTIRE POWERPOINT PRESENTATION

Here's a hint: some Office features have been around for so long that it's easy to forget they are there. Most of the coverage is of new features and long standing stuff gets overlooked. And so it was yesterday when I was asked about burning a Powerpoint presentation to a CD - the problem was how to make sure all the links, video and audio files were included on the CD with the .ppt file.

To me the answer was simple and has been in Powerpoint for a long time. Under the File menu is an option Package for CD ... which will do what that gentleman wanted and some more.

Really the menu item label is misleading because the option can do much more than save to a CD. The default settings will create a CD with the currently open presentation and all linked files plus a Powerpoint viewer so you can play the presentation on any computer with Windows Me or later.

The feature goes beyond that and is really an Export function for a Powerpoint presentation and all its linked files. If you click on 'Copy to Folder' you can select to save the presentation to anywhere on your hard drive, network or external drive.

Even though you're not saving to a CD, it includes all the same files as you'd get on a 'Copy to CD' including, importantly the Autostart files. This means you can save a package to the root folder of a USB key - so, when you plug it into another computer, it should start playing automatically.

One little nuisance is that 'Copy to Folder' won't let you save over an existing presentation package in the same location, which often happens as you revise a presentation and want to update the package version. Instead of a prompt to overwrite (as is usual in Office) you get a blunt notice to save in another location. The alternative is to delete the package manually then save the package to the now empty folder.

The Autoplay settings are controlled under the Options button. You can choose to install the Powerpoint viewer or not and what to do on Autostart.

There are also options to include linked files (defaults on and recommended to leave it that way) and embed fonts (useful and probably best to turn this on just in case it's needed). [from John Voris, EPCC]

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FIREWIRE vs. USB 2

A teaser item: "as an aside, I am backing up the OS disk on my PowerMac as I write this. It is copying to an external Firewire drive. So far, the effective copy speed is almost 3X as fast as backing up the same disk to an external USB 2.0 drive a couple weeks ago, using the same program. Makes you wonder a bit about all those claims of "high-speed" USB 2... John M.

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TIDBIT #2: THOSE SPACE-HOGGING WINDOWS UPDATES

Question re: Windows Folder Deletion

Emil: Thanks for a very interesting presentation. In my Windows (XP Home; SP2) directory, right before a large group of $xxxxUninstallxxxx folders, highlighted in blue, there is a folder labeled $hf_mig$ (not highlighted in blue) containing a bunch of folders labeled KBxxxxxx with installation stuff on the various updates. In my system, this folder is 176 MB. Can this one me deleted as well? Ciao, Rich

Rich: I applied the same test to that folder, as for the long list of the update uninstall folders, that is; I renamed the folder to $hf_mig$.old. Then I continued using my computer - waiting for any kind of error message relating to that change. Since none came, it seems clear that those update remnants can also be deleted - after a suitable wait time. One PC I checked out had more than half a gig of disk space regained!!! [EJV]

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LANDMARKS IN U.S. VIDEO GAME HISTORY

(cont'd. from March issue, p.6)

Sep 9 1995 Sony PlayStation is released. Preorders for the $299 unit reach 100,000.

1997 Fantasy role-players make Ultima Online the first popular "massively multiplayer online" (MMO) game.

2000 PlayStation 2 reenergizes video gaming, especially with the Nintendo generation.

2001 Xbox debut makes Microsoft the first American console maker since Atari. Nintendo's GameCube also comes out.

Aug 2005 World of Warcraft subscribers reach 4 million globally, the most for any MMO role-playing game.

Nov 22 2005 Fanatics wait in line for hours to buy the new Xbox 360.

by Lini S. Kadaba (The NPD Group), as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/5/06

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TIDBIT #3: ONE-LINE BACKUP

As a followup to my presentation at March's meeting on "Organizing & Protecting Personal Files", I'm publishing the effective 1-line backup utility. The way I've organized my data space is as follows:

  1. I set up a separate DATA partition on my hard drive
  2. I made an empty folder on it named "My Documents"
  3. I retargeted the desktop icon "My Documents" to point to that new folder
  4. Windows asked if I wanted to move the contents of the regular My Documents folder to this new one, I said yes - and it did so Now all my personal files get stored in this new My Documents folder.
  5. I wrote the little batch file, given below
  6. on my BACKUP drive (an external USB drive), I made a folder called "MyDocuments"
  7. All the backup work is actually done by the single line below that starts with XCOPY
  8. The first time I ran it, it made a copy of everything in My Documents in the MyDocuments folder on the external drive
  9. Now when I run the batch file, it copies only new or changed files and folders to the MyDocuments folder on the backup drive

Typically, this takes only a few seconds. [EJV]

Here's the batch file: rems & extras trimmed

@ECHO OFF

CLS
ECHO.
ECHO   Make sure you are in the right folder
ECHO   before running this batch file!
ECHO.
PAUSE
E:
CD\My Documents
ECHO   My Docs Files
XCOPY *.* /s/e/m/v/y M:\2006\MyDocuments
ECHO.
ECHO Backup completed!
ECHO.
ECHO Make another backup soon !!!
ECHO.
PAUSE
rem   the switches in the xcopy line refer to:
rem   /s     copy contents of all subfolders
rem   /e     copy even empty subfolders
rem   /m    set the archive bit
rem   /v     verify the copied file or folder
rem   /y     answer 'yes' to a query & continue

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PHISHING: IT'S NOT THE IRS!

Official-look forms pose identity theft risks

Here's an email subject line likely to catch your eye - "IRS Notification. Please Read This."

If you're one of the folks who have gotten this message in recent days, delete it. The IRS refund phishing scam is back again - in time for tax time.

Taxpayers, who click the enclosed link and fill out the form, will not be getting the refund promised by the email - but they will get quite an identity theft headache.

The bogus e-mails claim to come from "tax-refunds@irs.gov" or "admin@irs.gov". The official-looking form has a space for plugging in your Social Security number and credit-card information - along with your ATM PIN.

The IRS does not communicate with taxpayers via email, ask people for passwords, personal identification numbers or other secret information about financial accounts.

"There does seem to be a proliferation of them this filing season," Richard Morgante, commissioner of the IRS wage and investment division, said. "We have more thieves trying to take advantage of the filing season than we've seen in the past."

So far this year, the scam has raised more than 400 complaints to the federal government.

Last year,,the IRS warned consumers about the scheme, soberly advising that "the information fraudulently obtained is then used to steal the taxpayer's identity and financial assets".

By Eric Ruth, The News Journal

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Five-Second Word Tricks

Taken from a collection being published by Steve Bass, columnist for PC World magazine.

I constantly use Microsoft Word, to the point where I've developed a love-hate relationship with it. For instance, I love grabbing huge chunks of text from Web pages (how else do you think I could write so much stuff?), but I hate it when Word pulls along the Web page's fonts and formatting. And I love using Word's recently used files list to quickly open stuff I've been working on, but I hate to get an error message when I inadvertently open a file that's been moved or renamed.

I've come up with loads of tips and tricks to get around Word's weirdnesses; this week I thought I'd share some of them with you.

1) Cut, Paste, and Super Special Paste

I'm forever scarfing up text from Web pages and pasting it into Word. If you do an ordinary paste with Ctrl-V, you'll get the text, sure; but you'll also drag along fonts and formatting debris from the Web page.

Here's a quick way to avoid the extra junk: In the Web page, select and copy the text you want. Then go to your Word file and select Edit, Paste Special--click "Unformatted text" and you'll paste just the text, without formatting or pictures.

You could also create a Word macro for the steps and assign it to a keystroke. If you don't have a flair for macros, read "Office XP Tips: Macros 101", an ancient but highly valuable newsletter from Jim Welp; find it at: http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,73644,tk,sbxhow,00.asp

You could also try using PureText, a free tool that strips all the formatting from text you copy from Web pages. I haven't tested the program, but one of our editors, Eric Butterfield, swears by it. You can get it from our Downloads library: http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,22948,tk,sbxdwn,00.asp

[to be continued]

That's all for this month [EJV].

        MLCUG Meetings  2006           Steering Committee Meetings

	March 11 				March 15  
        April 8                                 April 12
        May 13					May 17
  
   * = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday