Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


May 2006 Issue 288

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - MAY 13 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

Gather those questions and problems, bring your cohorts and have a go round the table for every attendee's chance to get their interest or need addressed. Hopefully, our turn out will be good.

Building on the advanced demo of last month, Pete W will show the whole group an intro to virtual machines - or running more than one operating system at the same time. It's not booting into one or the other - or one emulating the other. It is potentially the technology of the future for dealing with archival data, programs and operating systems. Would you like to experiment with Linux, but can't run your Quicken stuff? Then running a Windows virtual machine on that Linux box might be your solution! Come see this demo and find out!!!

After our roughly noon break, the Advanced session, a bit undecided at this writing; will likely take up another virtual machine aspect - possibly with a linux-based OS. [EJV]


Comments: Missing on Sunday Morning!

Today, Sunday, May 7th, I did a quick check of the Business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer - the information technology part (or "TechLife@Inquirer" as they have dubbed it). I wanted to see if there was any recovery from the losses of this last month or so. You'll recall that about a month ago, columnist Joyce Kazman-Valenza announced that she was leaving and would no longer be doing her technology and education oriented column. A couple of weeks later, columnist Reid Goldsborough similarly announced his departure. [continued on page 2]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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Sunday Morning Loss (cont'd. from p.1): In neither case was there any indication of someone to fill those gaps. Then, last week, columnist John Fried announced that this was his last column - that he had left the Inquirer, his FAQ and TestDrive columns would be no more.

So, how did we fare today - well not good - there were no new columnists - the Gamers column and Web Winners were still there, plus a TestDrive by John Fried that had been written before he left. So TechLife is now a shadow of its former life!! It looks very much like you'll be able to cross the Inquirer off your list of dependable sources of computer-related info. Particularly since the paper's management has not seen fit to say one word about the departures or their intentions for the future.

We may have to wait until the sale of the Inquirer and its sister paper, the Daily News, is completed before we get any insight into whether there will be something new.

Oh, yes, I emailed John as follows:

"John, I was sorry to read this morning's Inquirer Business section - and your final column for the paper. You have done a great service for many beleaguered computer users over these years. I'm sure it did not turn out the way you had ever expected (actually better, I hope).

Is there any way for an archive of your columns to be kept accessible? Your books will still be around, but the columns have not been. There is a wealth of good info there.

With Fried, Goldsborough and Valenza decamping within the month, the computer part of the Inquirer will be practically non-existent. Is it related to the upcoming sale??? Thanks, very much again, Emil Volcheck..."

His reply: "Thanks for the kind words, Emil. Don't know what they'll do about the archive..." Fingers crossed! [Emil Volcheck]

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

Unfortunately, attendance at this month's meeting was way off - only 13 folks, which included two prospects. So, the stalwarts stayed away in droves!! I said unfortunately because we had three (count them 3) new technologies demonstrated for us - but more on that a bit later.

We began with a round table coverage of announcements, questions and problems for the first hour of the meeting. Some of the problems that were brought up included questions about backup, a peculiarity with a DVD recorder that apparently makes discs that only it can play, and using multiple computers with a new DSL installation. Marty C told of some good experiences wit the tech support folks at MicroCenter. Ted K had a difficult time with trying to restore a drive image that had been produced originally and burned to four CDs. In spite of having used it successfully once, it would not work again until he copied the four files to his hard drive and did the restore from there. Keep that possibility in mind if you have difficulty with an image restore.

Pete W reported that in the last 2-3 weeks, both NetZero and Juno have been bouncing message being sent out from the MLCUG list serv. He's trying to get more information, possibly for contacts with those ISPs.

MAIN MEETING

We took a short break after the round table. When we resumed, our guest speaker was introduced - at least to those folks who did not know Prof. Maloney from past years. he has been our sponsor at Villanova for the order of 20 years now!! Because of that sponsorship, we have been assured a meeting place without charge for all that time. It has enabled us to keep our dues low compared to most other clubs. I hope, that will continue...

As announced in the newsletter, Frank demonstrated two internet-based technologies. These were live demos, not just talking about them.

The first is a form of internet telephoning. The product is a software program called: SKYPE. It uses your computer and your internet connection to allow calling (and for viewing) other Skype users anywhere in the world for free. Frank has two accounts on Skype - one for Frank-at-home and the other for Frank-at-VU. So, after stepping thru the setup - he has a small Logitech webcam-microphone device connected to his laptop - he connected to his other self in his office in another building on campus. We could see the office innards, as he had a similar webcam there. Then, Frank zoomed back to his office, appeared and talked to us from there over the Skype audio-video connection. All performed very nicely (it's not hi-fi, but it works)!!

The second piece of technology is a device called: SLINGBOX - a piece of hardware that he had connected between his cable TV's set top box and the rest of the home viewing system. The Slingbox connected to the set top box, the TV and the internet. It sent the TV signal over the net and we could watch it there in the meeting room (tho we could have been anywhere on Earth that an internet connection is available (Frank mentioned that he has used it to watch Philly Channel 6 from Paris!!). In addition to watching, you can control the system from your remote location; so you can change channels, etc. Unlike Skype, Slingbox is not free - the box runs about $200. And, you need a TV signal and a broadband internet signal.

Both demos went very nicely. I'd like to thank Frank for coming to the meeting and exposing us to some of the new technologies that we were not familiar with.

ADVANCED MEETING

After another short break, we resumed with the advanced session. Pete W gave us what amounts to a preview of the main topic for next month - the VM Player from VMware and the 'virtual machines' that you can run with it. In this case a 'virtual machine' is another operating system running on your computer at the same time it is running its native OS.

The club computer is, of course, running Windows XP. So, Pete had downloaded the VM Player for Windows XP (it is available for several platforms). As we observed, he installed it. While the install proceeded (about 7 minutes), he gave us a briefing on the technology. Once it was up and running, we got our look at the virtual machines.

The first of these was a 'Browser Appliance' - which essentially is a version of Linux running on the PC with a version of the Firefox web browser. Both OSes were running together and Pete could skip back and forth with great ease! At the May meeting, you'll have the chance to see this same system; so don't hang back.

Then, Pete replaced the Browser Appliance with Windows 98 SE! He had installed 98 into the VMware environment and the VM Player was 'playing' Windows 98. There are more than 30 different operating systems that have been adapted to run with the VM Player. We may have more of them by next time.;

This is pretty special technology, with a lot of importance down the road. I hope that you'll attend the May meeting so you can get a real look at what it can do. See you then? [EJV]

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MISS 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 April 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). Also to John D for filling in in April for the first time on the recording job, as John M was out of town. [EJV]

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PRIVACY AND WINDOWS XP

The more you know about Windows XP, the more Windows knows about you. In fact, Microsoft's latest operating system probably knows a lot more things about you than you suspect. Windows XP keeps track of the Web sites you visit, the songs and videos you play in Media Player, the user names and passwords you type in online, the items you type into forms, the last documents you've opened, the computer files and terms that you've searched for, and much more.

Windows XP even allows other people to snoop on you by placing "cookies" -- little files tracking your online sessions -- onto your hard drive.

Many software companies sell programs to "clean up" what Windows XP knows about you. However, Windows XP won't track your business, if you know how to tell it to stop.

Here I describe how to stop Windows XP from invading your privacy. You'll find this info: [Note: online the following are clickable links]

* Managing "cookies" in Internet Explorer * Disabling AutoComplete to stop Windows from displaying previously typed words in drop-down lists * Erasing your Recently Opened Files list * Deleting Media Player's list of recently played files * Deleting Internet Explorer's extensive "History" of your visited Web sites * Deleting items listed in Media Player's Media Library * Finally, remember to protect the privacy of others by using Blind Carbon Copy when mailing to several people.

If you're feeling particularly bold, feel free to spend a few hours wading through Microsoft's Official Privacy Policy. (My Web site's Privacy Policy is online, if you're curious). URL: http:// www.andyrathbone.com/tips/xpprivacy.html ***************************************

ANNUAL BUYING GUIDE: ENSURE NEW PC CAN USE WINDOWS VISTA

It's a confusing time for computer buyers, and that makes this annual spring buyer's guide to desktop computers harder to write than usual. Microsoft's Windows XP operating system is in its last months of primacy, yet the company still hasn't issued final guidelines for the hardware you'll need to run Windows Vista, its successor, which is due in January.

Meanwhile, Apple Computer is in the process of revamping its entire Macintosh line to run on Intel chips. It has now made it possible for the newest Macs to run Windows as well as the Mac OS X operating system, so you can buy one machine for both worlds.

I believe every mainstream consumer doing typical tasks should consider the Mac. Its operating system already contains most of the key features promised for Vista. However, the Mac doesn't really need a buyer's guide. It has only two consumer desktop models -- the gorgeous iMac and the low-end Mac Mini.

So, as I did in my last guide last fall, I'm going to direct this one at people shopping for standard Windows desktops who would like to buy one now that could be upgraded to Vista later. Despite the lack of final hardware specs for Vista, Microsoft has put out some new information, and I have been talking to sources there to glean further details. These specs also apply to laptops.

If you want a new Windows PC, my best advice is to wait until January and buy one with Vista preinstalled. If you can't wait till then, you'll still have a good chance of upgrading to Vista if you follow these guidelines.

There's a problem, though. Running Vista with all its features enabled will require a major increase in hardware power, and that means a costlier PC. So Microsoft is essentially taking a two-tier approach to the hardware specs. To soothe PC makers who want to offer low price tags on some models, it is quoting lower specs that it says will allow running Vista in a sort of stripped-down mode. The company is also offering higher specs for running Vista as it was designed, with all features turned on.

The main difference between these two tiers is graphics performance and look and feel. If you have a computer with the weaker specs, Vista will still give you enhanced security and built-in desktop search. But you won't get the dramatic new graphical look and feel that makes Vista look more like the Mac OS. Your computer will look like an evolved version of Windows XP, and it will probably run only the wimpiest edition of Vista, called Home Basic. Vista performance will depend on how much memory your PC has and what sort of graphics hardware it contains. If you have enough memory and good enough graphics hardware to meet the top-tier specs, you will likely be able to run the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Vista. [continued to next month : ejv]

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Five-Second Word Tricks

By Steve Bass, PC World magazine.

2) Reveal Those Codes

I can honk up a paragraph in Word quicker than my editor can say no when I ask for a raise. Sometimes it's a bunch of characters that are stuck with a weird style or formatting that I just can't get rid of.

Regardless, I've got the fix: Press Shift-F1 to get a cursor with an arrow and question mark, then click on the messed-up text. If you're using Word XP, you'll get Word's not-very-informative Reveal Codes dialog box. In Word 2003, it's called Reveal Formatting and it appears in the task pane. In either case, you'll likely see the code that's causing the problem and then can delete it.

Even better, though, is using CrossEyes, a $50 industrial-grade product that shows everything that's hidden within a Word doc. Try the 15-day trial and you'll be amazed by how useful it is. You can get it from us: http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,53739,tk,sbxdwn,00.asp [cont'd]


MLCUG Meetings  2006  Steering Committee Meetings

			May 13 				May 17  
			June 10 				June 21  
			July 8					July 19  

		* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday