Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


December 2006 Issue 295

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - DEC 9 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

As usual, December brings our annual holiday meeting. We'll have a program, but it will not be business as usual, as you might expect! But, do bring your questions or problems for the chance to get them solved by our coterie of dedicated attendees, who will be there!

For that "program", John M will give attendees a first look at the new Windows Vista OS. This show and tell is based on the so-called "Release Candidate 1"; so it is not the final, final that got released to the trade about a month later (on 11/30). However, the key features, how they look and how they behave are all there; so this should give a feel for whether YOU might want Vista sooner, rather than later.

Along with Vista and Q&A opportunities, there will be a raffle (tickets at $1, or 6 for $5) with some neat prizes, a lavish layout of refreshments and goodies and drinks. You'll also be able to pick up your copy of the MLCUG 2006 Xmas disk (a surprise is in store for you here!). Will we see YOU at the show? [EJV]


The Passing of the Year

Well, 2006 is about to pass into history - a short 4 weeks from now. The season will likely be busy for all of us. In that vein, I'd like to reflect on a few things that relate to your computer club and, perhaps, the hobby or more that goes with it. Let us start off with a brief look [continued on p.2]

#######################################
ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
#######################################

back at 2006 - MLCUG managed to hold its own, we gained 3-4 new members and lost a few; so we're ending the year with about the same membership level as we started with.

The losses tho were rather saddening, as we lost 3 of our older members, a couple with long membership records. In May, Charles Curran passed away. Most of you knew him, but illness had kept him away from meetings for almost three years. Charlie was an MLCUG member from day 1!! He has been especially missed because of his long time help to the club and to many of the members, with those always-present problems of one kind or another.

In October, Bill Folger died - much to my surprise as he had been active and attended one of my seminars only about two weeks before I got the sad news!

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, in November, we got the news of Chauncey Westbrook's passing. He had been a member since about 1990 and had been a long time contributor to this newsletter with his monthly columns on use of graphics with Commodore computers, back when they were still a market factor! I hope to have a bit more about Chauncey next time.

But, there is a good side to the ledger, too. MLCUG has, we think, continued to provide help and useful assistance in the use of those pesky PCs! And, we passed our 24th year of operation!

That means that in June of 2007, we can look forward to "celebrating" 25 years of help to computer users - as well as providing some friendships and camaraderie, too.

It is my hope that all of our current members will decide to renew and enjoy that year 25. Plus, perhaps, picking up some other new faces who need help - or who can offer help to others.

Hoping to see more of you in the New Year. Enjoy the holidays! Emil Volcheck, prez

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 (only about half the group has done so as of this writing)!! And encouraging other users to join. Since expenses have held and we do not have any big treasury-tapping planned, the dues remain at the $15 of recent years. For the form see p.8!

NEW PRODUCT OFFERING: it finally happened! Yes, Microsoft's debut of its first new operating system in over five years, called Windows Vista, took place on November 30th, for the computer manufacturing community, the target date set around six months ago! Ordinary citizens will have to wait for the end of January before they can buy copies to upgrade their Windows XP machines to the new OS. Or, you may be able to buy a new machine with Vista installed somewhat before then - time will tell.

Just remember, if you are not running XP now and have a PC that is less than a couple of years old, you may NOT be a candidate for upgrading.

One option, if you are in the market for a new computer, is to buy a new high-end Windows PC now - with a free upgrade to Vista in early 2007. This is not the safest way to get a Vista system, but it is the most versatile. As a point of info, yours truly did just that.

Of course, you could also do as many, many folks will do, wait until the first Vista Service Pack is released (1-2 years!); so your Vista will be less cluttered by bugs!!

Come to this month's meeting to see a lot more about this subject. MLCUG is not promoting the change, but we will try to help those who do so move.

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.

***************************************

LAST MONTH'S MEETING

We had an above average turnout today with 18 attendees, including infrequent members and a visitor. Hopefully, one drawing card was the planned presentation on the growing eBook phenom.

During the first part of the meeting, I talked briefly about the recent death of long-time member, Chauncey Westbrook. We do not have many details but have been in contact with his grandson and will let folks know of any developments as they arise. As an author, musician and graphics worker, he made many contributions to the club, including a long series of monthly columns on using Commodore graphics tools (which he himself used in his publishing endeavors).

John D, our treasurer, reminded all that he is accepting payments for renewal dues ($15) for the year 2007.

Bill D remarked on a very capable 3D drawing program from Google. The program, called "Sketchup 3D" is available in both as freeware for personal use and as a Pro version for professionals. Bill was glowing in his praise - "the best 3D drawing program he had ever seen" and "if you have any interest in this kind of drawing, give it a try". Take a look for it at: http://sketchup.google.com/ and let us know how you feel about it.

Rich T and others brought up several items related to the new Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2.0 web browsers. IE 7 is well worth giving a shot at, but you will find it to be VERY different in appearance and use; so be prepared. And, if you hear the words "intuitive to use", it's baloney!

Several mentioned that they were using Firefox 2, which came out about the same time as IE 7, and finding it to be doing well. If you are a Firefox or Mozilla user, you'll likely want to give Firefox 2 a look, also.

MAIN MEETING PROGRAM

After all had had their chance to get in questions and problems, we turned things over to Tom J, who introduced us to the very large and fast-growing world of "eBooks". Tom worked with a presentation produced in the "Impress" component of OpenOffice.org 2. It is the OOo competitor for Microsoft's PowerPoint. Tom found it easy to work with and very capable.

We had some glitches to deal with because the presentation had been produced on his home machine and our club machine had things set up differently. However, you can now go to our web site and download the presentation as a PDF file - in this file all the problems have been circumvented.

Tom reviewed the multiple formats that eBooks are produced in - there is, unfortunately, no truly common standard format. So, you'll see filenames ending in .lit, .txt, .doc, .pdf or .htm or .html. You'll need three eBook readers to handle them all. The Microsoft Reader handles their .lit format, Tom's Reader (no relation!) handles the others except pdf, which are done with your usual Adobe Reader or compatible (like Foxit).

He reviewed some of the many enormous collections - each running into thousands of volumes The bulk of these offerings are classics that are long out of copyright. No solution has been reached for the currently in-copyright books to be freely available; so keep that in mind, when you go looking.

Because of the large amount of detail in the story, I suggest you visit our web site and follow the links to download and view the presentation as a file named: "eBook_Presentation.pdf". You'll be glad you did!!

Oh yes, and you might just want to download and install OpenOffice 2.0.4 and take your own look at the Impress tool.

ADVANCED MEETING

This month was also more of a discussion than demo. We looked at some further aspects of the online database that the Steering Committee is starting to use to keep track of memberships, provide information for mailing labels and our listserv.

This was followed by some quicky looks at how to install and demo the new Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. We are shooting to do that at the December holiday meeting. Assuming we are successful, members can take a look before they leap!

See you all (we hope) next month. [Emil V]

***************************************

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 November 2006, and they are accessible from the web site, as MP3 files. You can listen any time you choose! Thanks to John for his continued efforts to get the files quickly available after the meeting. [EJV]

***************************************

TIP: Having trouble with System Tray Icons?

For some time I had a problem with the system tray on my Compaq desktop - quite a few tray icons would not show and couldn't be made to show, tho they used to. This was true even when they were set to "Always show" in the Taskbar setup. I had tried a number of things to no avail (including a "repair install of Windows).

Then, a recent Google search turned up a tip that worked like a charm. It involves disabling a couple of Windows "services". I can't figure out how either of them are connected to the system tray, but I tried the disabling and it worked! I also did the same on my laptop, which did not appear to have a problem; but that, too, gave a better display than I had previously seen.

The disabling is NOT supposed to have any adverse effect - and so far I've noticed nothing - so, you may want to try it. Even if you've not noticed a problem, you might be surprised, as I was with my laptop.

Here's the procedure:

a. right-click "My Computer", then click "Manage" b. expand the "Services and Applications" item in the left panel c. click the "Services" item d. a very long list of services will appear in the right side panel. e. scroll down to the "SSDP Discovery Service" item, f. move to the right and right-click the "Startup Type" item g. in the drop-down menu, click "Disabled" h. scroll down to the "Universal Plug and Play Device Host" item i. disable it as for the SSDP item j. close the Services utility

Next, restart your computer and see how she behaves. If anything strange occurs, let us know at a future meeting; so we can see what might have transpired. [Emil V]

***************************************

THE NEW WEB BROWSERS

Internet Explorer 7.0

As mentioned last month, there were two new web browser versions released. The one getting the most PR, partly because it has not been changed (except for security fixes primarily) is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, now at version 7. The following is a short review by Tom J to give you a flavor of the new version.

"Microsoft seems to have made a huge improvement for web browsing with the release of Internet Explorer 7.0.

Downloading and installing the program is automatic. The user does not need to remove the current copy of the IE browser. The new program and all the security updates are loaded and installed without user input. To get IE 7.0 for free, just go to Microsoft Update and request the download. (One catch is that Microsoft first needs to verify that you have a legitimate copy of Windows XP.). If desired, ask for a fancy new Google tool bar to be included in the package. For a 56 KB dial-up, the download takes about an hour and a half.

A new tool bar presents a definite learning curve, but it allows for more viewing space of web pages, and once the user becomes familiar with the new design, many useful tools become available. The biggest improvement is the use of Ctrl and + to enlarge the print to any desired size, following the lead of MAC and Mozilla. Ctrl and - will reduce print size.

The yellow star at the left side of the IE Bar brings up Favorites, Feeds, and History. A right click on any of the Favorites allows the user to open the site in a new tab and sort the list of book marks. Tabs are buttons, which become a part of the IE Bar, that allow for jumping back and forth to multiple web sites. Feeds enable the user to make use of the RSS capability of a web site, if it is available.

On the right of the bar, clicking on Home Page adds multiple home pages. The next icon will select RSS formatting, if offered by the web site. Selecting the printer will print the web page, but a print set-up has been added, which allows for preview and arrangement of the printed page. The Page button allows for the presentation of the page, emailing the page, size of text and encoding.

A major effort has been made to identify and block malware from getting through IE. New tools to ferret out pop-ups and phishing sites are now part of the browser. The TOOLS button allows for the desired settings for these filters and will connect to a web site to find add-ons, programs which provide additional utility for the browser (including, for the first time, a cookie manager!).

For those who are particular about presentation or content, a right click on the IE Bar will enable the choice of several different arrangements, including customizing to individual needs.

One note: when first brought up, icons will appear on the Tray for Help and choosing language capabilities. Choose to add an Input Method Editor to add a second language or keyboard layout. Hand writing recognition is another new addition." [Tom J]

So, if you are an IE user, definitely download and check out the newbie. After the initial learning curve, you are likely to like it! [EJV]


                        MLCUG Meetings  2006-7          Steering Committee Meetings

			December 9 			December 20
			January 13			January 17
			February 10			February 14

		* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday

*********************************************************************************