Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


April 2007 Issue 299

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - APR 14 th


UPCOMING MEETING:

This month, as usual, we'll open with a Q&A to feed your insatiable thirst for knowledge. We will try to deal with any computer-related things, for problem solving and for learning. Who can pass up such an opportunity?

Last month, we had to skip the planned program, but will try again. A remarkable open source product is 'OpenOffice.org' - a complete office suite aimed to compete with Microsoft's Office Professional. As promised, for this month, Tom J will show us how he used its presentation module ('Impress') to do the fine talk on eBooks that he gave a few meetings back. We think that these demos will whet your appetite for more, as this is a large and very impressive product - and FREE!!

Following the roughly noon break, we'll have our Advanced meeting. This time we'll continue our discussion of Ubuntu Linux distros and how we might use them in demos. If time permits, we'll be looking at a movie DVD that is devoted to the "Revolution OS" (for open source)! [EJV]


Windows Security Gotcha !!

Those of you who have been following messages on our listserv, as well as the media, likely heard that there was a pretty worrisome bit of malware out there that messes your system up via the routine that provides mouse pointer variations (e.g. the hour glass, rotating this or that). It was considered to be critical enough that Microsoft prepared a patch and issued it a week early, on 4/3 instead of the usual "patch Tuesday" the 10th. This early posting likely induced many folks to install it as soon as it issued. For some, that rapid response made for [continued on p.1]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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SECURITY NOTE [continued from p.1]: difficulties! The difficulty being that the patch, for folks whose computers are using a Realtek sound chipset, disabled the Realtek control panel and gave a "dll" error for some of them.

This problem was apparently already known to the MS folks, as they had already prepared a patch to correct the difficulty in the issued patch, but they did not release it along with the troubled patch, no reason given for not doing so.

In the last year or so, I have suggested to folks that they hold off a bit on installing a patch to give time for feedback on possible problems with any Windows Update patch. In this case, that paid off, as I learned of the second patch and downloaded it from Microsoft. Then, I installed the critical patch, tested and confirmed that it did indeed disable the Realtek sound control panel (my HP desktop PC uses that device). I immediately installed the second patch and, as hoped for, the Realtek sound control panel started working again. See my reminder tip on managing Windows Updates on p.5.

DST ARRIVED: the morning after our March meeting. Although some folks had talked about this as being another Y2K, it was nothing like that. Most folks apparently had prepared for the event and the media carried few to no accounts of troubles most anywhere. Great!

PORTABLEAPPS WORKS ON VISTA: Since the release of Windows Vista, there have been a number of inquiries about whether the PortableApps.com Suite and the rest of the apps published here (http://www.portableapps.com/) run on Vista or not. PortableApps.com is proud to announce that, yes, everything here works on Vista. The PortableApps.com Suite 1.0 has worked on Vista since the day it was released in November 2006. Since that time, all the apps that are not bundled with the Suite have also been updated to work correctly with Vista. The entire platform will run under admin, limited or guest accounts.

The platform and most apps will even run on Windows 95/98/Me and even under Wine within Linux/UNIX. Complete details are posted on the individual application pages and on the Application Compatibility page. [John T. Haller on February 26, 2007]

NEW MEMBER WELCOME: we'd like to welcome a new member, Tony Wallace from Glenside PA. Tony was recruited by Ted McFalls to attend a meeting, and Tony decided to join right then. We hope he'll not be disappointed!

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

We again had 16 attendees who engaged in a pretty lively Q&A (as is usually the case)! We have a very loyal core of members who attend regularly. Hopefully, some of the less frequent attenders will be motivated to come out and gain the benefit of these discussions and the help that they can provide.

MAIN MEETING PROGRAM

Our planned presenter, Tom J came down with a bad enough cold that he was not able to do his demo (which we plan to fit in next time). So, John M dived into the fray and gave us a very neat exposition on the upcoming new schedule for Daylight Saving Time (DST), which was actually coming to us just 12 hours after our meeting ended!

Much had been reported for the Windows XP side of the picture - with patches being provide by Microsoft to modify the DST schedule in Windows. However, MS - not supporting any earlier versions of Windows - gave no help for the users of 98 or Me, not even for XP before SP2!

John covered that material with info on where to get the tools to help all the various breeds of Windows users. Later that day, John posted a message to the listserv with links to the various help sites that he discussed and showed us (see the item on p.3). Thanks, John, for quickly stepping into the breech! [Emil V]

ADVANCED MEETING

For this meeting, we again took advantage of the gathering to discuss possible topics for future meetings. Say, of the advanced group and to prep for the Main meeting. A significant part of the discussion related to winnowing thru the variety of Linux distros to see whether or not we could try again with Main meeting demos on the subject. Pete W had started a pretty comprehensive comparison chart that we decided to discuss next time after he has a chance to fill in more details. [EJV]

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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 March 2007, 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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DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME?

The following message from John M gives the various DST links he covered at the March MLCUG meeting:

* Ball State Univ. DST page (includes Macintosh info): http://www.bsu.edu/web/ucs/dst/ * Site to get the Windows 98 version of TZEDIT: http://www.mdgx.com/add.htm * Mactintosh DST information: http://www. entourage.mvps.org/articles/daylight.html - daylight1 * Microsoft Daylight Saving Time Help and Support Center: http://support.microsoft. com/gp/cp_dst Includes a Daylight Saving Time Update Guide for those versions of Windows that Microsoft currently supports. Has links to updates and instructions for various versions of Windows, from Windows 2000 through Vista. * Microsoft List of products affected by daylight saving time: http://support.microsoft. com/gp/dst_prodlist The title says it all... * Unofficial, 3rd party DST Patches for Windows 98 and ME: http://www.intelliadmin. com/ blog/2007/02/windows-98-me-dst-patch.html

Please post any questions to the list and we will try to answer them. Regards, John M

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USING FIREFOX: TIPS AND TRICKS

Removing The 'GO' Button

Do you always hit "Enter" after typing an address in the Firefox address bar? There is a "Go" button in the address bar but lots of people don't use it finding it easier to use the "Enter" button. If you are one of those who hardly ever use the "Go" button, you can increase your address bar "real estate" by removing the "Go" button as follows:

1. Open a new tab and type "about:config" in the address bar without the quotes 2. In the filter box type "browser.urlbar. hideGoButton" without the quotes 3. The default setting is FALSE so double-click anywhere on the entry to change it to TRUE

You can watch the change occur as you double-click. To reverse the process, just double-click the entry again.

Use Your Keyboard To Switch Between Tabs

Most Firefox users switch between tabs by using their mouse to click on them. A little known fact is that you can use your keyboard to do the same job. The tabs are numbered from left to right starting with 1. To open a tab use Ctrl + 1-9. And if you want to know the tab number without counting, you can download this nifty little tab-numbering program at http://tinyurl.com/pfmxj.

Safe Mode to Ferret Out Malware

"....Folks in various forums have reported getting the behavior (a redirect problem) you describe when picking up malware in their add-ons.....".

To check out whether or not that's the case, temporarily disable all of your add-ons and see if you still have the same redirect problem. In you're using Firefox opening it in safe mode (Start/Programs/Mozilla Firefox/Mozilla Firefox (safe mode)) will disable the add-ons.

As an aside, in IE7 safe mode is hidden. Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Internet Explorer (no add-ons). Hope this helps. Al G.

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WINDOWS UPDATES TIP

REMINDER - because of potential problems with Windows Updates - like the one that happened this week with the critical update on April 3rd - I recommend that you set up Windows Updates on your computer as follows:

- right-click "My Computer" - click "Properties" - click the "Automatic Updates" tab - in the dialog box that opens, click the third option "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them" - click "OK" to save the change and exit the dialog box

This mode assures that you promptly learn about any new updates and can examine each of them to decide if you want to download and install, do neither or wait for more info.

Then, keep tuned to our listserv or other info sources that might provide any warnings about troublesome, or potentially troublesome, updates. You can then decide when, and if, to install any particular Windows Update.

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PRESERVING YOUR LCD SCREEN

LCD technology is amazing stuff. It uses less power, produces really good images resolution, and its incredibly lightweight. That's why it's used in portable computing devices, including laptops. But how long will an LCD last? Wilk Aulier writes to ask about this:

* "I am wondering of the value or even the negative impact of screen savers on laptops and other LCD screens. Since LCD televisions have a finite life based on hours of operation, it would seem to follow that PC LCD screens have a finite life based on usage.

"Since screen savers continually change almost every pixel to avoid burn-in on a traditional CRT, is their use recommended on LCD screens? Worse than that, are they potentially limiting the life of the screen and hence the life of the laptop, since replacement is very expensive?"

Wilk, you ask a very good question one that I answered for myself via the School of Hard Knocks. I've been using a laptop as my primary desktop computer for nearly seven years. One thing I've noticed is that over time the LCD slowly becomes dimmer, most likely because it's on and in use for roughly 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Even when it's not in use, it sometimes won't turn itself off, even though I've configured my system to shut off after a certain length of inactivity. So apparently there's something going on with my system that is interpreted as user activity, even though it's not actually me sitting at the keyboard typing or using the mouse. Therefore, the screen sometimes stays on much longer than it should.

The bottom line is that it's typically best to configure your system to power off the screen when your system isn't in use. That saves energy and prolongs the life of your screen. As for screen savers, if your goal is to prolong screen life, then it's best to use a blank screen saver. A blank screen saver lets you set a password, which can help add a level of security to your system.

Sure, a fancy non-blank screen saver looks nice, but consider whether the energy use and shortened life span of your screen is worth the price of entertaining passers-by?

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BACK UP YOUR CRITICAL DRIVERS

by Steve Bass, PC World

Have you backed up your drivers recently? Yep, I know, all of you have a full and complete backup of your entire drive. But wouldn't it be handy to have just the critical drivers for, say, your mouse, graphics adapter, printers, and who-knows-what-other-devices in one spot?

Why would you want a driver backup? If you're reinstalling Windows, what better than to have all your drivers in one spot, ready for those pesky hardware devices ranting for their driver. Or if one hardware device goes kaflooey, say, your printer, Windows will pop up and try to reinstall the hardware's driver. If you don't have the original CD handy (or even if you do), it's much easier to aim Windows to your new "driver backup" folder to find the driver.

DRIVE THOSE CHOICES

WinDriversBackup finds all the essential hardware (and some software) drivers on your PC and backs them up. It works by creating a folder and copying all the drivers to individual folders with the name of the driver. http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,64610/description.html?tk=nl_sbxdwn

Just as good is DriverMax, also free, because it not only backs up all your drivers, it also zips them all into one handy file. You can get it from Innovative Solutions: http://www.innovative-sol.com/drivermax/

Of course, you're now a batch file expert. You might as well look at Lincoln Spector's batch file, which backs up all drivers to a folder: http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,122935/article.html?tk=nl_sbxcol


MLCUG Meetings  2007  Steering Committee Meetings

April 14 April 25 ** May 12 May 16 June 9 June 20

* = SECOND Wednesday ** = FOURTH Wednesday *********************************************************************************