Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


January 2007 Issue 296

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 210

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JAN 13 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

Our December meeting did not offer much opportunity for the usual Q&A; so we want to allow time this month to start off the new year.

Some members likely received computer-related gifts from Old St. Nick, especially a new computer itself So, if you got such a widget and have questions about it, don't hesitate to bring them. One topic related to that is migrating from your current computer to a new one. It's nice to have a new box, but it is not an unalloyed joy, as the transfer task can be quite a chore. If you were a tinkerer, you may have even more than average changes to deal with. We can talk about that subject also. A common item - the USB flash drive - will get some discussion, with real world products to demo. Don't miss that part.

Following the roughly noon break, we will have an Advanced meeting session this month. Our own John M will bring in and demo his "Roku Soundbridge", which should prove to be interesting. (Next month will feature the Sirocco sound device - stay tuned there). [EJV]


!!! NOTE: JANUARY MEETING IS IN ROOM 210 !!!

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The Coming of the New Year

We have, unfortunately, spent (justifiably I feel) much time on the topics of security and privacy even more in the year just passed. I'm afraid that we are likely to need to do the same this new year! We were told that the new windows OS, Vista, would be a big assist; but we may [continued on p.2]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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[continued from p.1] be doomed to disappointment. Already, we are getting reports of actual or potential holes - and the OS has not yet really appeared for the general computing users!

One aid to us - NOT A CURE - is the use of software programs that are a bit more secure. One of these is the web browser, Firefox. Many of us are already using it regularly - or almost exclusively. We want to help folks make good use of it and, perhaps, convert some folks who have not yet tried it.

So, later in this issue is an article, by member Al G, who is a user and a teacher. This is an intro, to be followed by future episodes, to get you started. Of course, you can use the Q & Q part of our meetings, and the listserv, to bring up questions that are likely to come up.

So, read on. We are hoping to see more of all of you in the New Year. Emil Volcheck, prez

NEW YEAR IS HERE: and the MLCUG renewal period has officially ended. Folks who did not renew received their last newsletter in December. If you know any of the members who did not renew, I hope you'll remind them and urge them to join back in. We're glad that you decided to renew and think that you'll find another year of help and information to be worth the small investment.

PRODUCT TO WATCH FOR: the sales on USB flash drives continue en mass!. Every vendor of electronics/computer products is offering them at very low prices (this past weekend 1 GB models were going as low $10!

NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT: FAQ 4.5 - "Sound answers to real computing questions": the latest volume in John Fried's series of questions dealt with in his long-running FAQ column in the Philadelphia Inquirer has just been published. This in spite of the fact that John ceased being an Inquirer columnist last June! It follows exactly on its three predecessor volumes, too. I'll have a copy at the meeting. Check it out at: http:www.caminobooks.com/ if you want to get it before the meeting.

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

Our December meeting turned out to be a fun one! Attendees were treated to some comraderie, great food and goodies, as well as some nice raffle prizes.

The prize winners were: Bill D (1st prize of a USB flash drive), John D (2nd prize of wireless mouse) and Rich T (3rd prize of a 10-pack of CD-R discs).

For eats we had a huge pot of fresh coffee - made with the club's new percolator, a pre-made sandwich tray and lots of goodies (cookies, donuts and a passel of Tasty Kakes for example).

I want to thank Ted K, John M, John D, Tom J, EJV, Stew S and others I've probably missed for bringing stuff in and helping run the show.

And, special kudos go to John M for compiling, designing, duplicating and labeling the MLCUG DVD of the Year 2006!! The DVDs used were the so-called "Lightscribe" type, and John got to really exercise the Lightscribe drive on his relatively new HP desktop machine. A really good job, John! Many thanks!!

MAIN MEETING PROGRAM

As promised, the short program for this month was a quicky look at the new Windows Vista, Microsoft's newest attempt to convince us its the greatest OS ever! We'll leave that decision to each future new owner/user, but at least you got a chance to see it here first!

The new OS was the so-called Windows Vista Home Basic, Release Candidate 1, installed on Emil's HP laptop computer - as the second OS in a dual-boot system. As it turns out, because of the short time allotted before RC1 had to be validated, we were into the last few days of its working period.

But, it fired up nicely and John stepped thru some of the look and feel for us (Note: this version did not have the new so-called "Aero" interface as the laptop did not have quite enough horsepower to run that version. The new menu types, the new desktop layout and operation did all get shown.

We learned that you'll have a significant learning curve with the new OS as many tasks are handled differently by Vista compared to the last three versions of Windows (98, Me & XP).

As noted earlier, our special thanks go out to John M for another of his real contributions to the club and its efforts to help members!

ADVANCED MEETING

This month was a pass for the advanced group, as we did not think that fun and food-filled tummies were likely to be serious about a followup meeting. Next month, it will be back!

See you all then, we hope. [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 December 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]

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Migrating to a New Computer?

If you recently got a new computer, then like myself, you are faced with migrating stuff from one computer to another. One problem to be dealt with is moving your email program's "stuff", including the address book and your file of accumulated email messages. If you happen to be using Mozilla Mail, Thunderbird or SeaMonkey (or even just the Firefox browser where bookmarks and settings only need moving), then help is at hand.

Grab a utility called "mozbackup" - get it at: http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/. When you install and run it, it will check for the presence of any of the programs and offer to back up the user profile. Let it do so, then copy the resulting file (which can be pretty BIG!) to your new computer. Install and rerun mozbackup on it and point it to the saved profile.

It will search out which ever program you have installed on your new machine and let you "restore" the profile. Worked like a charm for me. Give a try! And see the tip on p.6 [EJV]

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Using Firefox: Tips and Tricks Al Gottlieb

Welcome to the first MLCUG Using Firefox: Tips and Tricks column. Because of the increasing popularity of Mozilla's Firefox browser, I will be highlighting items of interest to most Firefox users.

Some of Firefox's best features are its

Tabbed browsing Toolbars with easy-to-use customization Extensions and Themes Ease of importing favorites and settings from files or other browsers Incorporation of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) into live bookmarks Downloads Manager Bookmarks Manager

Getting Firefox is simple. Just go to http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/download the installation program, double-click on it and let Firefox do the rest.

Once Firefox is installed you'll want to start customizing it. Open the browser and in the top menu bar click on "tools/options". Each button in the Options dialog will have several sub tabs that you can experiment with. It is here that you can set your home page under the "General" tab. The easiest way to do this is to first open the page you want to designate as your "home page" , then click the "general" tab under "tools/options" and then click "Use Current Page" and then click OK.

The "Privacy" tab allows you to specify how your browser handles cookies, passwords, cache, etc. Cookies are important especially for sites that you want to recognize you each time you visit them. The "Privacy" tab is where you can specify how cookies are to be handled when Firefox is closed. That's a useful feature. I have mine set to delete all cookies when Firefox is closed. But I have an extension (we'll cover this in detail in another column) called "Cookie Culler" which allows me to specify which cookies are not to be deleted (e.g. cookies that help a frequently visited site to recognize me so that I don't have to sign-in each time I visit).

There is a "Downloads" tab which permits you to specify where downloads will be saved and how to handle the "download manager". You can modify the way Firefox handles downloads by specifying whether or not certain types of files (sound files, Acrobat files, etc.) can be downloaded or opened automatically or saved to your hard drive.

Next, you can put your mouse cursor at a blank spot on any toolbar and right-click. In the drop-down menu you can select which toolbars you'd like to have open or not by clicking the toolbar name (You can also do this by clicking "view/toolbars" in the standard top menu). At first there's probably only two or three toolbars but in the future you might have many other toolbars installed (e.g. an anti-phishing toolbar, a Google or Yahoo toolbar, etc.). In the drop-down menu click "customization" (at the bottom of the menu) and a "Customize Toolbar" dialog window opens with items (icons) that can be added to the navigation toolbar (the one with the address box). You can even add a new toolbar if you'd like. Item buttons, such as "Print", "History", "New Tab", etc which appear in the customization dialog window are easy to add to a toolbar by putting your mouse arrow over the item, holding the left mouse button down, dragging the item to any position on the navigation toolbar and then releasing the mouse button. Buttons on the toolbar can be repositioned left or right by simply dragging the buttons with your mouse.

Tabbed Browsing (an old feature in Firefox and, because of its popularity, a new feature in IE7) permits the viewing of multiple web pages in a single browser window. This makes it easy to go back and forth between pages by just clicking tabs conveniently located at the top of the browser window. If you have many pages open you can move back and forth between pages by just clicking tabs instead of having to click the back and forward arrows many times. Tabs are really convenient when doing searches. Usually a search will result in a page full of hyperlinks and I don't know which one will give me the most useful results so I open the links resulting from a Google or Yahoo search in a new tab. Then I can go back to the original search results by either closing the tab on the recently open page (just right-click on the tab and then click "close" from the drop-down menu) or just clicking on the tab for the original page of search results and I can keep the current page available. If there's a link that you want to do something with (like open it in a new tab) you can right-click the link and get a menu of many operations that can be performed on the link one of which is "open link in a new tab". Of particular use is the "open this link in IE" operation because if a page is designed for IE alone and doesn't render correctly in Firefox you can just open it in IE with a simple click. For example, if you to visit a Microsoft site for downloads or updates Microsoft will tell you that you're using an incompatible browser. I wonder why?? If a page doesn't render correctly just right-click anywhere on the page and from the drop-down menu select "view this page in IE". This is so useful that there is a similar add-on for viewing Firefox when in IE7.

You can add a new tab in several ways but the simplest is by using ctrl-T on your keyboard. When you open a new tab the address field is blank so that you can type in a URL to visit another site. By the way, the tabs have text on them - usually the page title for easy identification when you have many pages open.

Well, I hope that you haven't been overwhelmed and that you'll find this information interesting and useful. In our next column we'll cover extensions which are Firefox add-ons or plug-ins that add additional features to the Firefox web browser. In the meantime don't be afraid to click and poke at the toolbars to discover interesting features on your own. If there's a question that you need answered immediately post it to the MLCUG list and I'll try to get you an answer ASAP.

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STAR WARS EPISODE IV

"Darth Vader intercepts Princess Leia, who jettisons the Death Star plans, which... The animation is absorbing - but it's all rendered using ASCII text!"

Last meeting, we took a very short look at this hilarious retelling of Star Wars Episode IV (the "first" in the series) is by Simon Jansen, a New Zealand programmer with way too much time on his hands. He provides a Java version of the movie at his site, http:ASCIImation.co.nz. But more interesting is the version that draws the movie in a DOS window using telnet.

To try this yourself, open a command window (click Start, then Run, type in cmd, then Enter.) At the resulting prompt, carefully type: "telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl" (no quotes and space after telnet). Then press Enter. After a delay, the ASCII animation starts rolling.

The movie is by no means finished, but you may not care; you'll be rolling on the floor, laughing!!

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WINDOWS UPDATES

Another chore for new Windows XP machines can be getting all those updates!! Here's one such question: * "At 72, I don't have time left to be chased around Robin Hood's barn!! I find that, since my [Windows 98SE] PC is dying, I must move to a [Windows XP] PC, even though I thoroughly hate installing the plethora of patches. I would sure appreciate your advising me as to where to look for all the patches, etc., to bring my new system up-to-date."

James, when you get your new Windows XP system, open Internet Explorer, click the Tools menu, then Windows Update. That will take you directly to Microsoft's update site, where you can scan your system to determine which updates your system needs, and install those updates directly from Microsoft's Web site.

At the Windows Update site, you'll be given the option to upgrade to the free Microsoft Update routine. This allows you to update Office and other MS products, not just Windows. DIRECTIONS FOR ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER MEETING ROOM

Meetings are in the St. Augustine Center at Villanova University. The regular monthly sessions meet in Room 110.

Enter from the ITHAN AVENUE main gate, then proceed to the upper level of the 2-level parking building adjacent to the St. Augustine Center, on the Ithan Avenue side of the building.

NOTE: maps on our web page - http://mlcug.org/


MLCUG Meetings  2007  Steering Committee Meetings

			January 13				January 17
			February 10				February 14
			March 10 				March 14

		* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday
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