Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


November 2006 Issue 294

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - NOV 11 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

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

Well, at our October meeting, time did not permit us to give the proper time allotment to the subject of eBooks. So, Tom J will give us an intro to the growing availability of eBooks and most importantly, eBook readers.. He'll cover what's out there and what can be got for pay or for free! Come out and get some new ideas and skills. Also, some insight on the hardware.

After a break, we'll again have a bit different Advanced session. We will take this opportunity to cover two topics (time permitting): 1) checking out the online system for label printing and member lists - or any other needs that may be identified - and 2) the preparation of the BTO computer for a show and tell of Windows Vista next month. We plan to use the Windows Vista RC1, 32-bit version, that was downloaded last month, after Microsoft made it more openly available. [EJV]


ADWARE and SPYWARE

Last month, I said I'd have a bit more on the spyware business. So, here's a short item from PC World columnist, Steve Bass, in his weekly email newsletter:

"I hope you've never experienced a full-fledged spyware attack. If you practice safe computing and use an anti-spyware program like Counterspy or Webroot SpySweeper, an anti virus program (Grisoft's free AVG is the one I use), and a zero-day security tool [continued on p.6]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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NEW RECRUITING YEAR IS HERE: not the calendar year, but the MLCUG renewal period - which started on October 1st. We hope that you'll be renewing your membership!! And encouraging other users to join. Since expenses have held and we do have have any big treasury-tapping planned, the dues remain at the $15 of recent years. For the form see p.8!

NEW PRODUCT OFFERINGS: we've had three new products in recent weeks.

1) A new version of the True Image backup program - Acronis True Image 10 Home. As with last year's version 9, members of user groups can get a discount by purchasing the product thru the company: "User Group Relations" which has a special arrangement with Acronis. This year's price is a bit lower - $29 for a downloaded file or $29 + S&H to have a CD with the download stuff. The CD has about 110 MB of stuff; so it is a pretty big deal for folks on dialup. I hope to show it in the near future, so you can decide on getting it. But, if you want to get it now, go the the UGR web site: http://www.ugr.com/ and click the "Backup" option in "Products" on the left panel. The first listing is True Image 10 Home. Click the "Buy now" button and go to the order form. Fill it out and when you get to the line to list your user group, enter "Main Line Computer Users Group", then fill in the order code: UGTIH10.

2) A new version of Internet Explorer, version 7, the first in about five years. As I mentioned in an email to all of you recently, Microsoft began distributing it via the Windows Updates program on November 1st. If you are using automatic updates, then IE 7 will be downloaded and installed in the background. If you are not on automatic, then you'll see some notification. If you regularly use IE, then by the time you read this, you might download and install it. If you normally use Mozilla, Firefox or other browser, then you can do the job whenever it suits you.

3) Finally, a new version of Firefox, version 2.0. It was released (intentionally?) at almost the same time as IE 7. With this release, I have started the switch from Mozilla to Firefox - and have made the switch on the three PCs that I regularly use. If have questions about it, bring them to the Q&A!

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

As for the last several meetings, we had only 14 attendees. Seems we can't break that barrier (like some mark on the Dow!) irrespective of what the meeting program is.

So, if you used to come to meetings and have not been, how about letting us know why?

And, by the same token, if you normally don't come, how about telling us why, too?

From the Q&A portion of the meeting, some highlights:

- 67% of all email is now SPAM! Just in case you had not noticed!! - Emil V gave a very quick showing of an "eBook" called the "XP Workbook". It is a nearly 300 page book of literally hundred's of info items about Windows XP - aimed at the novice user. Contact him if you'd like to buy a copy - it's $15 for the CD. - Rich T mentioned that the Marple Library is holding introductory courses on Microsoft Word and Excel. - if you might be looking for some way to be warned about low quality, or malicious, web sites, you can get a free add-on for Internet Explorer or Firefox, called "SiteAdvisor" now being distributed by McAfee. Take a look at http://www.siteadvisor.com/. - a tip from Marty C for more help from the web: http://www.davescomputertips.com/index.html

MAIN MEETING PROGRAM

This one was a great demo by Pete W of the relatively new Google feature called : "Google Calendar". It is one of their growing stable of free offerings. Pete is a user of the product and took us thru many of its features. If you make use of an appointment calendar, either by hand, with a PDA or something else, you might want to take a look at this online version. Take your look at: http://calendar.google.com/. Our thanks to Pete for another intriguing demo..... Oh, yes, you can get more details from the audio clip on our web site, give a listen.

ADVANCED MEETING

This month's advanced session was not a normal program type meeting. The members of the Steering Committee, and a couple of other members, used our online access to review, question, discuss and make suggestions about a tool that our webmaster, Pete W, has been working up. It is a secure, password protected online database that we hope will evolve to a replacement for the several databases that we variously maintain and which are too easy to get out of sync. More discussion is planned for the next steering meeting on the 25th [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 October 2006, and they are accessible from the web site, as MP3 files. You can listen any time you choose! Thanks to John M for his continued efforts to get the files quickly available after the meeting. [EJV]

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THAT SLOOOW SHUTDOWN!

This tip is being rerun as a reminder to give it a try - to see if your Windows XP PC is one that responds markedly to this alternate shutdown routine. Here it is, with a slight correction:

Some of you using Windows XP may have noticed that it can take quite a while for the machine to make up its mind to shut down, after you've told it to - haven't you (all)???

Well, I recently got a tip on how to speed that process up. The tip came from the Computing Journal of SWFPCUG (the SouthWest Florida PC Users Group). It was passed to me by a member of the PC Users Group (PCUG) in Wilmington.

The procedure goes like this:

a. close out all your running applications, as you may lose some info from running applications in the quick shutdown.

b. give the 3-finger salute (that is, press the CRTL, ALT and DEL keys together), up will pop the Windows Task Manager.

c. click the menu item for "Shut Down" d. press and hold the CRTL key.

e. click the "Turn Off" item in the pop down list.

You likely will experience a markedly shorter shut down time. It has done so on the half dozen PCs that I have tested it on. Give it a try and let us know your results. [Emil V]

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A PHOTO'S FINGERPRINT

New software matches images to specific digital cameras

When a gun is used in a crime, forensic investigators identify it by the unique pattern of scratches that its barrel leaves on bullets. A similar trick is now being used to match digital images to the cameras that captured them, an important advance as child pornography crimes increase. [ejv: and as faking images seems to be on the rapid increase].

Software developed by Jessica Fridrich at the State University of New York in Binghamton exploits the fact that every digital camera introduces a unique pattern of imperfections, or "noise," into its images. In monochrome areas, for example, individual pixels might actually be slightly different colors. Fridrich's software determines a camera's noise signature identifying the irregularities in its pictures. That yields a "fingerprint" that investigators can search for in other photos.

Fridrich tested her software using 10 cameras and a total of 3,000 pictures. In every case, the software matched the picture with the right camera, she says. "This is very nice work in the exciting and important problem of camera ballistics," says Many Farid, computer science professor at Dartmouth College. Fridrich is currently seeking a patent and says the FBI is evaluating the technology as an investigative tool. The need is great: between 1996 and 2002, the number of federal cases involving child pornography exploded from 113 to 2,370, and the FBI predicts the trend will continue. [KATE GREENE, Technology Review, Mar/Apr 2006].

Above: In this camera "fingerprint," color intensity corresponds to pixel noise levels.

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TIP: VIEWING MS OFFICE FILES

If you are not a regular user of Microsoft Office, even do not have it installed on your computer, you are still going to have to deal with files from Word, Excel or PowerPoint - the three most common MS Office components. At the very least, you'll need to be able to open and view them, possibly print them.

So, what to do, rather than invest the bucks in getting Office for rare use? Fortunately, Microsoft has made that pretty easy. They have - for years - produced a series of viewer/printer utilities for each of these common Office product's files. Just point your browser to: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/Browse.aspx?displaylang=en&productID=4289AE77-4CBA-4A75-86F3-9FF96F68E491

The first three items in the download list will be the 2003 versions (the latest) of the three viewers. Download, install and you'll be able to handle those files that folks send to you (without asking if you can even deal with them!)!

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INTERNET PIONEER

Here's a short biographical tribute to one of the Internet pioneers, who hails from my alma mater:

Every time you type "google.com" instead of a numerical IP address like "64.233.187.99" (ejv: that's google.com in internet-speak, try it!) into a Web browser's address bar, you can thank Paul V. Mockapetris. In the early 1980s, Mockapetris created the "domain-name system" (DNS), the key name-registration process for the Internet. Besides allowing the use of simple domain names, DNS also routes e-mail, balances load across multiple servers, and performs a growing list of new tasks, such as routing phone calls that use "voice-over-Internet protocol" (VoIP) and suppressing spam.

Mockapetris's preparation began with his studies of physics and electrical engineering at MIT, culminating with degrees in both fields in 1971. He credits MIT with laying the foundation for his later work with the Internet. As a student, he worked part time at IBM in Technology Square, and also for MIT's Architecture Machine Group under founder Nicholas Negroponte '66, chairman of the Media Laboratory.

Initially a physics major, Mockapetris couldn't stay away from computers. This preoccupation led his physics advisor, along with some IBM colleagues, to stage an intervention. "It was suggested to me that I should stick with what I'm good at, so I stayed a fifth year and got bachelor's degrees in both physics and electrical engineering," says Mockapetris. This change in direction led to his earning a PhD in information and computer science at the University of California, Irvine, in 1982.

His contributions to Internet development also include designing the first implementation of the "simple mail-transfer protocol" (SMTP), used for e-mail. Later, he served as director of the High-Performance Computing and Communications Division of the Information Services Institute at the University of Southern California, and played significant roles at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and several Silicon Valley networking startups. Today, he is chairman and chief scientist at Nominum, a company that he says makes the world's fastest and most flexible DNS and DHCP ("dynamic host configuration protocol") servers. In 2005, he won the ACM SIGCOMM Lifetime Achievement Award for his achievements as an Internet pioneer, and the 2003 IEEE Internet Award for his DNS work. [AMY MACMILLAN, Technology Review, Mar/Apr 2006].

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ADWARE & SPYWARE

[continued from p.1] (like Novatix's free Cyberhawk), you've covered all the bases. Being that you've never been assaulted by spyware, here's your chance to see a nasty attack: It's a video from McAfee titled "Spyware Rubbernecking." I know you'll watch it more than once--I did. Go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3atmWmWCwlw&eurl=

Sunbelt Software Counterspy http://www.sunbelt-software.com /CounterSpy.cfm Webroot SpySweeper http://www.spysweeper.com Grisoft AVG: http://www.grisoft.com/doc/1 Cyberhawk: http://www.novatix.com/Cyberhawk

For more on Cyberhawk and how it works, read "New, Free Behavior-Based Security Product": http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/001240.html?tk=nl_sbxblg


MLCUG Meetings  2006-7  Steering Committee Meetings

			November 11 			November 15
			December 9 				December 20
			January 13				January 17

		* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday
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