Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


July 2006 Issue 290

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JUL 8 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

Bring on those questions/problems for every attendee's chance to get theirs tackled!

Continuing from last month, John M will show off the Microsoft Recovery Console that you may have heard of but never seen on your Windows CD. It could save you some day!!!

Because of the arrival of WGA (see below), it appears incumbent on every Windows user to have a 2-way firewall on their system. So, Emil will demo the downloading, installing and setting up of one the highest rated of these products - the freeware version of "Zone Alarm".

Time permitting, we may get a look at the "Portable Apps Suite", a fascinating use for that big, new flash drive you just bought!

After a break John M, in the Advanced session, will demo the Linux firmware updates for our Linksys Wireless router - neato!. [EJV]


Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA)

The latest affront from the Redmond crowd is the spyware program called WGA, described as a critical security update by Microsoft which gets downloaded and installed by the normal Windows Update system. Actually, instead of a security tool, it is a marketing ploy to examine your system, check that you have a valid copy of Windows XP, then make a daily internet contact to inform Microsoft and to check for other requests AND to be modified to perform other tasks in the future! This was all being done without informing the user of the true function - classical spyware. There will be more on at our meeting - come listen and discuss! [Emil V]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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NEW VIDEO DISPLAY: last month, we were surprised to find that our meeting room had been equipped with a new SONY overhead video projector, with a wall control unit for showing CDs and DVDs, as well as other inputs. We did not attempt to use it, as did not know if was fully functional yet and OK to do so. Since then, Prof. Maloney tested the setup with his laptop and reports that it gives a bright, high quality XGA resolution display. That's exactly what we have been seeking (and actually planning to spend club $$$ on! Our plan is to use the new system on July 8, with a precautionary backup of our usual SVGA portable projector.

Why not plan on attending - the program should be interesting and useful - and the viewing should be so much better!!??

AMUSEMENT? - looking for a bit of fun? Fire up your browser and take a look at: "The 25 Worst Tech Products!" The link is: http://www.pcworld.com/resource/printable /article/0,aid,125772,00.asp (no spaces!!!)

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

Well, if you missed June's meeting, you missed a good one! In contrast to last month, all the demos worked - right out of the box!!

Unfortunately, we only had 14 attendees; so there were a lot of folks who missed it all. It won't be possible to really describe the demos so folks who did not see/hear them may have problems appreciating them. But, you can give the recordings a listen when they are posted to our web site.

MAIN MEETING

After we had our round table, I swapped the club computer for one of my own that I had preset up to be just like a new PC that you likely have bought before. That is, it came with Windows XP Home and an 80 GB hard drive that had only a single large "C drive", that took in the whole 80 GB. You'll find that on a new PC whether it has a 40, 80, 160 or 200 GB or bigger hard drive - just one BIG drive C.

When you turn on a new PC for the first time, you have to provide information to Windows, like a user name, a name for the computer, user accounts, time zone, etc. When you get thru these first steps, your PC will be just like the one I brought to this meeting for the demo.

Following the advice of many previous meetings and newsletter articles, I proceeded to set it up as we've suggested.

First, I had the PC run the 'check disk' utility which makes sure you file system has come thru the first startup with all its files properly accounted for by the operating system (OS or Windows). This follows a relatively recent suggestion from John M.

Second, I put in a bootable rescue CD from Acronis - that contained a couple of key needed utilities: Acronis True Image 9 Home & Acronis Disk Director Suite 10. We've reviewed the first in previous meetings, it performs a range of backup operations - I had used it before the meeting to back up the big C drive, just in case I messed up in the demo.

So, for this showing, when the PC booted from the CD, I selected the Disk Director - which is a partitioning utility (like Partition Magic). After a short discussion on possible ways to partition new hard drives, I proceeded to have it do so. We selected a 16 GB size for the C drive to be shrunk to. In the space thus opened up on the hard drive, we selected a DATA partition of 8 GB (FAT32) and 20 GB (NTFS). The rest of the space, 32.2 GB, was then set up for a BACKUP partition. I told Disk Director to go do it - which it did in about 30 seconds or so. You will experience this same quickness when you do it on that big, largely empty hard drive on your new PC after it is first run.

After a restart, all was hunky dory! The PC was happy, Windows was happy and the computer is now set up at home for duty.

At this point, I turned things over to Pete W, who did a couple of demos. The first was to fire up the club machine and show off the VMWare Player software that was the subject of our May meeting. He had it start up the Windows 98 virtual machine and it ran beautifully - as we had hoped it would do last month (but one wrong line in a startup file did us in then). Those who were disappointed last time, would have been quite pleased with how well the 98 ran on top of the basic Windows XP that was running the VMWare Player. That finished the main meeting and we took a break.

ADVANCED MEETING

Pete continued with the reins for the advanced session - but this time he had brought his laptop that runs not Windows XP, but a linux operating system. It, too, had the VMWare Player installed - as well as the same Windows 98 system that we had just run on the club Windows computer. His also had a similar system with Windows 2000 Professional.

Pete fired up his laptop, opened the Win 98, which ran just like it had on the Windows machine. Then he fired up the Win 2000 and had it running very nicely, too. So, he had his linux box running its own operating system and two Windows operating systems - ALL at the once!

He could just jump from one to the other with a couple of mouse clicks!!

It was quite amazing to see all this and to appreciate how easy it was compared to having dual or triple OSes installed in partitions so you have to reboot each time you want to switch your OS (like we usually do on the club PC which has three OSes on it).

That brought us to the 1 PM mark and we closed up shop for the day. Great feeling to have things work the way you hope they will! Sorry if you missed the show!! Cheers, Emil...

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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 June 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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Five-Second Word Tricks

5) Reset the Recently Used File List When I click the File menu in Word, I see a list including several of the previous documents I've opened. I like that. But I'm a kvetcher: I don't like seeing old files. And I certainly don't want to be bothered with an error message when I try to open a file that's no longer available.

So every now and then I purge the list by going to the General tab in Tools, Options, deselecting the "Recently used file list," and clicking OK. Then I reopen Options and select "Recently used file list" again. [By Steve Bass, PC World]

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OPENING THE NEW VISTA

THE RELEASE OF a new version of Microsoft Windows is like launching a new aircraft carrier. It's a major, ponderous event whose ripples affect everything around it. So Microsoft's planned launch of the next version of its Windows operating system, called Windows Vista, now set for Jan 2007, will be a big deal.

Vista is the biggest revision to Windows in over a decade. It will be a major change, not only for consumer and corporate Windows users, but for computer makers, software creators and many others downstream.

But what's in Vista? How will it be sold? And what kind of computer will be needed to run it? Here's a rough guide to the new Leviathan of the digital seas.

Why Vista? Even after a major overhaul a couple of years back, Windows XP is a security nightmare. With Vista, Microsoft claims to have built in better security from the start, reducing - though not eliminating - the need to buy, learn and maintain add-on security software. The company says better security is Vista's biggest advantage.

For instance, with the new program you'll have to type in your administrator ID and password before installing software, to stop malicious software from installing itself silently. And Vista will have built-in parental controls.

Vista's next big feature is built-in desktop search. Think of this as the Google Desktop search on steroids. From any screen, you'll be able to start typing a search term and Vista will comb your hard disk for every document, photo, email, song and video that meets that criterion. It should be much faster and better than add-on search programs.

In addition, you'll be able to save searches in "virtual folders," which will automatically continue to collect files that meet your search specifications. So if you save a search for "Fountains of Wayne" as a virtual folder and check it a month later, it will contain every email that mentioned the pop band as well as any photos you took at their concert and new songs by the band that you downloaded - even though none of these things existed when you first did the search.

The last major new feature is a rich new user interface. Called Aero, it includes a powerful new graphics system that enables such new extras as transparent windows, animation of certain screen elements (similar to the "funnel" effect Mac users are familiar with when closing a file) and the ability to see reduced, live views of all your running programs at once.

There are lots of smaller changes as well. For instance, there's a dashboard with small programs (calendar, weather updates and stock tickers, among others) that run quickly, called Gadgets. There's also new music and video player software; a new built-in web browser with tabbed browsing; a new, free email program with junk-mail filtering; and a new photo-organizing program.

Many of these features are already available on the Apple Macintosh - some have been for years - but they will seem fresh to most Windows users.

How will you buy it? Like past versions of Windows, Vista will be sold in two ways: The vast majority of people will get it by buying a new PC with Vista preloaded at the factory. That way, they'll know the hardware and software are compatible. And a small percentage of people, either brave souls or those with PCs too new to replace, will buy Vista in a box and upgrade their computers manually.

Either way, Vista won't be simple to purchase. That's because it will come in at least five different flavors, compared with two versions when Windows XP launched in 2001. There will be two consumer versions of Vista, two business versions and one version that includes everything, called "Ultimate." Also, two current special editions of Windows, the Tablet and Media Center versions, will be folded into some, but not all, of the five Vista editions.

For consumers, the biggest issue will be choosing between the Home Basic and Home Premium versions of Vista, either on new machines or in boxes. Home Premium will include the new Aero user interface along with all the security, search and other features described above. It will also have updated versions of the features currently included in the Media Center and Tablet editions of Windows XP. But Home Premium won't run on most Windows PCs currently in the hands of consumers, and it also won't run on new, low-end PCs. That's because it requires hefty hardware to work right.

Most current PCs, and all the bargain-priced new ones preloaded with Vista next January, will be able to run only Home Basic, which is a stripped-down version of Vista. Microsoft insists that Home Basic will have the same security system and search features as Premium, but it won't include the new Aero user interface and will probably lack some other features. In essence Home Basic will look and feel like a modestly improved version of Windows XP, even though Microsoft says there'll be major improvements under the covers.

Power users, and those who want every option just in case, may go for the Ultimate version of Vista. It not only will roll up everything in the consumer and business versions, it may also have some added bells and whistles. Microsoft hasn't announced prices yet.

What hardware will you need? The stripped-down version of Vista, Home Basic, will run on fairly routine PCs, albeit ones with plenty of memory. The Premium and Ultimate versions will likely require at least a midrange model or a high-end configuration.

Microsoft hasn't officially released the recommended hardware specs. But I expect the company to recommend 512 megabytes of memory for Home Basic and a gigabyte of memory for Premium. Based on past experience, I advise doubling those amounts, to a gigabyte of memory for Basic and two gigabytes for Premium.

Another crucial hardware factor will be the computer's video system. Basic Vista can run on any graphics hardware that creates a screen resolution of at least 800x600. That covers most bargain computers with graphics chips that are integrated with the machine's motherboard and which share main memory. But Premium and Ultimate will run best on machines with a full-blown graphics card and dedicated video memory of at least 128 megabytes.

You will be able to run Home Basic on the slowest processors available, but for the better versions of Vista, you'll need a processor running at a speed of at least one gigahertz. I would opt for as fast a processor as you can afford and for one with two "cores" rather than one. (A dual-core processor is essentially like having two processors on one chip.)

Vista will also support so-called 64-bit processors, which can gulp down more information than current machines. But I wouldn't worry about that for now, unless you're a power user. There's very little 64-bit software available for consumers.

Vista may not be something to leap into right away. You may want to wait a while to see about defects and, especially, to see if it seems more secure, as promised.

by Walt Mossberg, WSJ, 6/13/06


MLCUG Meetings  2006  Steering Committee Meetings

			July 8					July 19
			August 12 				August 16
			September 9 				September 20

		* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday

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