Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


Setember 2006 Issue 292

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - SEP 9 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

Remember to bring your questions or problems for the chance to get it solved by our willing and dedicated attendees!

A major phenomenon of the internet age has been the development of the potent online search engines and their ability to ferret out all kinds of information from the bowels of the 'net. The big ones, like MSN, Yahoo and Google, are enormous investments with incredible potential. But, most of us do not get full use from it. So, this month, member Al Gottlieb will expand our knowledge of the market leader: GOOGLE!. Come out and get some new skills (see p.4 for a bit of info about Al's experience).

After a break John M, again, in the Advanced session, will tackle one of the major developing tools for Windows users. This utility, called BartPE (for Bart Pre-installed Environment) allows you to tackle really disabled PCs and have a raft of tools available even when the PC is totally non-bootable. Come learn about making and using this amazing bit of technology! [EJV]


THE IBM PC TURNS 25

ATLANTA, Georgia -- It was a match made in computer heaven. The May-December marriage of a young company called Microsoft and business powerhouse IBM would change the landscape of offices and homes across the globe.

August 12 was the 25th anniversary of the IBM personal computer launch, a pairing of MS and DOS, Microsoft and the disk operating system. A quote of the day: [continued]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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NEW YEAR ABOUT TO ARRIVE: not the calendar year, but the new MLCUG renewal period - starting on October 1st. We hope that you'll be renewing your membership!!

NEW VIDEO DISPLAY: last meeting, we had the chance to try out the new overhead video projector that VU has been installing in their meeting rooms. It was a great success. It gives a full wall screen image. The image is bright enough to overcome the lack of room darkening shades that limited our portable projector. A real improvement in meeting conduct!

Why not attend the next meeting and give it a looksee? The program should be interesting and useful as well - and the viewing much better!!

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

The program for August covered three topics: a) portable applications for your flash drive, b) the WGA Notifications Removal Tool and c) 3rd party firmware for the Linksys wi-fi router

For the subject of portable applications, Emil V had brought in a collection of three flash drives and used them, and their contents, to illustrate the enhanced versatility of the newer drives and software.

The first drive was a regular 2 GB Memorex "Traveldrive" that held only data and/or program installer files - but no programs that actually run on the drive. That changed during the course of the demo, though.

The second was a 1 GB Apacer "Handy Steno" that also contained very little data . But it had a raft of "portable applications". These were programs that have been modified to house all their active files on the flash drive, run from it and leave nothing behind on the hard drive of the computer that was used to run these apps. One being the "EditPad Pro 6.0.3" super text editor. Now you can carry it around with you. There was a collection of some eight applications from the "portableapps.com" web site (http://portableapps.com/), modified by John Haller, to run from a flash drive, with all their settings saved on it; and to automatically save all their data files on the flash drive. So, you can carry the flash drive with you, plug it into any handy PC, do your work, close out and take your data (and any evidence of your visit) away with you! But, before you jump whole hog on "portable apps", Emil had yet another wrinkle to show. The third flash drive was a 2 GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro U3 Smart drive. The key difference is that "U3 Smart" part.

When you plug the drive into a Windows XP PC, you will be notified that the "Launchpad" is running, and a U3 icon will appear in the tray. A click on the icon brings up the Launchpad menu and away you can go. At this time, there is already a wide variety of apps that have been made U3 runnable.

The different vendors of these U3 drives offer different pre-installed apps, as you might expect. And more software authors are making U3-compatible versions available. And, the flash drive vendors are opening U3 software pages on their web sites - more opportunities to get U3 apps. At this time, the variety of software available for U3 is much greater than the just "portable" apps; so the products are worth watching for.

So, with the price of flash drives plunging recently, you might keep your eyes open. If you see a good deal, check to see if the good deal is "U3 Smart". It's pretty useful technology, especially for those who want to work on stuff at home or at work, or who do a lot of traveling.

MAIN MEETING - II

This month, John M again took over for the second piece - this time to review the Microsoft WGA situation. His talk covered a fuller review of the two parts of WGA, Validation & Notifications.

Then, he downloaded and ran a small utility called 'RemoveWGA.exe' which tells you whether or not your PC has had the WGA 'Notifications' part installed. If it does, then it can remove that part. Our BTO did not have the WGA installed and the utility confirmed it.

So, John took us to the Microsoft Updates web site and (after some maneuvering thru its intricacies) got WGA Notifications installed.

The utility confirmed that it was now present, was asked to remove it and confirmed that removal had been accomplished. Neat! P.6 has more details on the demo material.

ADVANCED MEETING

John M continued with the meeting and here, using our Linksys wi-fi router and his laptop, downloaded and then installed a new firmware version to the router. This firmware, based on the Linux OS used by Linksys provided a bunch of additional functionality of high value to folks who want more from these boxes (like more port controls, higher power output, extra security options, etc.). Check the audio file for more details on John's story. Thanks to him for TWO jobs well done at today's meeting!! [Emil V]

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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 August 2005 to August 2006, and they are accessible from the web site, as MP3 files. You can listen any time you choose! Our thanks to John M for his continued efforts to get these files available very soon after the meeting itself (typically it's only a couple of days). [EJV]

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SEPTEMBER'S PRESENTER

Al Gottlieb, our speaker for the September main meeting is one of our newer members; so I asked him for some bio info to let you know a bit about him; so here's the feedback:

"I'm a Technical Director at Jacobus & Associates Executive Communication Specialists (http://www.lljacobus.com).

My partner and I train corporate personnel at their offices and we provide a course called "Power in PowerPoint" offered at Temple University Center City. The course covers the design of effective slides using color, fonts, page layouts, graphics, animation and special effects, how to convey information in creative ways and how to deliver the presentation with impact by properly using equipment, feedback adaptation and speaker notes." Al will use Powerpoint!

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REGISTRY CLEANING

Recently, we've been trying for a meeting program on the health of the Windows Registry.

The pundits generally divide that task into three steps: 1. backing up the registry before doing anything 2. "cleaning" the registry (that is getting rid of stuff that is not right, or fixing it) 3. compacting (or defragging) the registry

Steps 1 and 3 seem not terribly controversial - a couple of freeware apps apparently can do them.

But, the cleaning step is another story - and there are a zillion registry cleaners out there. We'd like to get some experiences from folks on this.

If you have used a registry cleaner - freeware or payware - how about telling of your experience?

Did it noticeably improve PC operation? Did you have problems using it? Did it "damage" Windows XP?

Or any other relevant info. Maybe we can come up with a worthwhile, free or low cost, app that is noticeably and safely beneficial.

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IBM PC TURNS 25

[continued from p.1] "MS-DOS moved computer access from a community measured in thousands to one measured in millions," said Benn Konsynski, professor of business administration at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.

"It was a key transition from the hobbyist and 'geek' environment to business applications," he said.

Several popular home computers existed before the 1981 IBM PC launch. But the regimented business world considered the Apple, Commodore, and Radio Shack products "toys."

The IBM stamp of approval on a personal computer changed that mentality for good.

"Almost overnight, with IBM introducing the PC, it became OK to use it for real business applications," said Tycho Howle, CEO of nuBridges in Atlanta, a provider of business-to-business services.

Howle remembers with fondness his first desktop PC. "In 1981 I had an IBM PC, two-floppy system," Howle said.

"To give young people these days a comparison: It would take 10 of those floppy disks to be able to hold the music that is on one MP3 song," he said.

A floppy disk is a thin, plastic disk that was coated with a magnetic substance used to store data. Earliest disks were 8 inches wide, more efficient disks shrunk to 5 1/4 inches, then 3 1/2 inches. Unlike a CDs or DVDs of today, the disks were floppy, or flexible.

IBM, the 800 pound gorilla of the business world at the time, flooded trade papers and television with promises that this new device would provide "smoother scheduling, better planning, and greater productivity."

EARLY '80S STATUS SYMBOL

The first available PCs cost between $1,600 and $6,000. Little about this early version was user friendly, in the ways people now take for granted.

"Users could get themselves in trouble, and users did," Howle said. "Nowadays working on a big spreadsheet or a big Word document, every so often the computer will automatically save a copy for you.

"I remember working at Hewlett Packard for the better part of a day on a spreadsheet. At 3 or 4 in the afternoon someone hit the power cord and I lost everything I had done that day," he said. "When working at a rudimentary level like that you had to know more about what you were doing than you do nowadays."

In most businesses, because the cost was still somewhat steep, the first people who got a PC on their desks usually were the people with the most important titles. A desktop computer was an early '80s status symbol.

But Chris Garcia, assistant curator of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, said that changed quickly. "So you started to see assistants and secretaries, people who would never have gotten computers a year or two before, (get a computer) as they started to realize just how useful it was, particularly as more business software was introduced."

Just a few programs were available for these first PCs. There was EasyWriter, for word processing; VisiCalc, a financial analysis program; and accounts payable and receivable software.

But unlike Apple, which had proprietary hardware and software, the IBM computer soon benefited from a flood of programs designed by outside companies. Soon industries from accounting to insurance to car dealers to retailers had the tools to make their businesses more flexible and more efficient.

But this computer was not all work and no play.

"One of the fastest growing groups was the gaming industry," Garcia said. "Video games were released left and right for the IBM compatible market."

While going back to science fiction novels of the 1950s and 1960s, there was still some fear that these "evil computers" would replace the work of humans. But in many ways the opposite has happened.

Garcia says computers did not put people out of work, they just made work different. And different, he says, is not always bad. "It was really what allowed the greatest advances in slacking off to take place! The invention of the computer solitaire game, Mah Jongg Towers, all of these things really would never have happened if the IBM PC had not burst onto the scene," he laughed.

On this 25th anniversary, IBM is not even in the PC business anymore. The company sold its PC division to the Chinese company Lenovo two years ago.

Former hobbyist Bill Gates, though, has managed to keep his part of the business going.

Business experts say timing was everything for the IBM PC launch. "It was the "perfect storm" of the IBM brand in computing, a new operating system, and new market interests that led to the success of this deployment," said Konsynski.

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WINDOWS GENUINE ADVANTAGE (WGA) - III

Remember it's just for Windows XP, not Win95/98/Me, but probably for Windows Vista. This effort from Microsoft has two basic functions: 1) validate that you have a legal copy of XP and 2) notify Microsoft (regularly) of your status and seek new actions, so to speak.

Some comments, by the author of the tool 'RemoveWGA' on WGA are "Once the WGA Validation tool has checked your OS and confirmed that you are legit, there is no decent reason to check it again and again every boot. Microsoft used deception to install this tool (as an urgent security update, whereas it is not), so this tool is 'spyware'.

"Notifications is different than Validation as it phones home connecting to Microsoft's servers every two weeks. "As of the moment, Validation is mandatory for some, non-critical, downloads from Microsoft; but the Notifications part is not mandatory at all. RemoveWGA removes the 'Notifications' part, but does not touch the 'Validation' part."

If you have not obtained 'RemoveWGA.exe' and checked your system, contact Emil to get a copy emailed to you (it is a very small, 11 KB, file).


MLCUG Meetings  2006  Steering Committee Meetings
			September 9 				September 20
			October 14				October 18
			November 11 				November 15

		* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday
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EDITOR:  Emil J. Volcheck, Jr.   1046 General Allen Lane    West Chester, PA 19382-8030
Produced on a Compaq Presario: Sempron 2800+, 1 GB RAM, 40 GB hard drive,
Brother HL-5170DNLT laser printer, Epson 4490 scanner, CD-RW & DVD˝R/RW drives,
using AppleWorks 5.0.3, EditPad Pro 6 and pdfFactory Pro

          MLCUG LISTSERV: for members only...
                     WWW: http://mlcug.org/
               PUBLICITY: Position OPEN!
       VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy

MLCUG STEERING COMMITTEE:

PRESIDENT: Emil Volcheck    610-793-5156  SECRETARY: Position open              
TREASURER: John Deker       610-828-7897  DATABASE: Layton Fireng   610-688-2080
WEBMASTER: Peter Whinnery   610-284-5234  AT LARGE: Al Gottlieb     215-793-9725
AT LARGE:  Tom Johnson      610-525-3440  AT LARGE: John Murphy     610-935-4398