Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


May 2007 Issue 300

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - MAY 12th


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?

Over 2 years ago, we had a tutorial in capturing sound from various sources (microphone, tape, etc.) with your PC, the right hardware and the sound management software, Audacity. Since then John M has been recording our meetings, processing the data and having it posted to the web site for all to grab and hear. With these experiences behind him, he is ready for a review and demo for the rest of us.

Attendees will get the info on hardware, the software and more on the sound file processing.

Following the roughly noon break, we'll have our Advanced meeting. Since we did not even start it last time, the topic for this month is viewing the DVD-based movie "Revolution OS", devoted to the open source software phenomenon. [EJV]


Twenty Five Years and Counting !!

Yes, it is very heard to believe that a full twenty five years have passed by since the first formal meeting of what became MLCUG (originally it was called the PET User Group) in June of 1982. So, this May 2007 meeting finishes year 25 and we start off on year 26 next month. It also, sort of coincidentally marks issue #300 of this newsletter (which started as a one-page meeting notice).

We first met at the then Main Line Computer Center, in Wayne PA. [continued on p.2]

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS [continued from p.1]: The store was right on the "Main Line" thru the city and became the source of the club's name, as well as the store itself.

Our meeting room was their "classroom" in the basement level where there were offices, a small meeting room and the classroom that had a dozen PETs set up for instruction. We thought it was great as we might have one computer per attendee to do demos or tutorials. But, attendance and membership grew pretty quickly and we had to move to the meeting room, that would let us handle around 40 closely packed attendees. Attendance rapidly made the room too packed for meetings.

Help arrived in the form of Prof. Frank Wunderlich, Physics Department at Villanova, who arranged to sponsor our meetings in an excellent theater-style classroom at the school (Mendel Science Hall). We have been meeting at VU, in one room or another ever since! The sponsorship for MLCUG eventually was picked up by Prof. Frank Maloney, Department of Astronomy, who is still nicely filling that role.

At the time of our peak in membership (late 80s, I think, when we had nearly 275 members), we had to meet in one of the big auditorium-style lecture rooms, as meeting attendance approached and, on a few occasions, exceeded a hundred!!

After that peak, which many other user groups also enjoyed, things began to slowly reverse. For Commodoreans it was quicker because the notoriety of Commodore itself's troubles helped to drive the users away!

As for most Commodore groups, we also had folks switching to the new Amiga platform and we started and continued support for it. It should be said that only a small fraction of our members ever became Amigans, but they were strong proponents of it!

With the arrival of Y2K, many of us were becoming dual users and our meetings began to handle issues related to the IBM compatibles (or "PCs").

Member response to these efforts was so strong, that we eventually formalized that support and the "Main Line Commodore Users Group" became the "Main Line Computer Users Group". Our programs and activities more and more became devoted to this platform. We also attracted new members who had never owned, used or even heard of Commodore.

In the last few years, our announced support for Commodore, Amiga and PC has become almost totally PC. We followed in the path of quite a few other Commodore user groups (who either did that or folded!).

At the time that the change began with us, another change was underway, namely; the slow demise of user groups. Huge groups like the nearly thousand members of the Philadelphia group (PACS) have subsided.

In fact, as the number of computer users has risen, the number who join user groups has fallen. So, we have large numbers of users who really need support and few places to get it.

As a place for folks to get help (and for some to give it), MLCUG has held its own for quite a few years now. So, perhaps we can still continue to do so. It will clearly be up to our members - both those who come for help and those who give it - that the future depends on.

This brief rundown of a 25-year story has obviously skipped zillions of details that many may recall. But, I wanted to put down a few words to mark the occasion.

Remarks by Emil Volcheck, 1st and only prez!

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
####################################### 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)!

MAIN MEETING PROGRAM

Because of the space allocated to my 25-year remarks, the brief summary of last month will have to wait (you can check the recording).

ADVANCED MEETING

Continued our review of Pete's summary of the flavors of Ubuntu Linux for possible use as future meeting material and use. [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 April 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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GOING AROUND THE 'NET

At three minutes and four seconds after 2 AM on the 6th of May this year, the time and date will be: 02:03:04 05/06/07

This will never happen again.

Except in places like Europe, where the event will occur at three minutes and four seconds after 2 AM on the 5th of June!!!

This will never happen there again!

[my comment, EJV] Except, if anywhere we continue to use only 2-digit years, then it will happen every century (e.g. 2107, 2207.....3007)! Gotcha!

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USING FIREFOX: TIPS AND TRICKS Al Gottlieb

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.

FIREFOX HAS THE JITTERS

Sometimes, all of a sudden, pages in Firefox seem to jump up and down. Before this started happening, some spring cleaning was done. You may not want to reinstall Firefox because It's been customized it quite a bit.

But, it turns out that it's a known bug in the program. But don't worry - it will take less than a minute to fix.

When cleaning up your computer, we'll bet you organized your Bookmarks. And you must have emptied the Bookmarks toolbar folder. If the folder is empty, Firefox gets a little jittery. Unfortunately, this makes browsing an unpleasant experience.

So, you should add at least one link to the Bookmarks toolbar. Simply navigate to a page you'd like to bookmark. Then press Ctrl + D. In the box, enter a name for the Bookmark. In the box labeled "Create in," select Bookmarks Toolbar. Click OK. You're good to go! [adapted from Kim Komando by EJV]

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PC REPAIR TOOLS

Wouldn't it be nice to have a full complement of software PC repair tools available when you plug in your flash drive. Tools which include file recovery, anti-virus, anti-spyware, system info, system maintenance and more. Well, someone has put together just such a such a repair kit. If you're interested just tool over to the site called "A Daily Cup of Tech" at http://tinyurl.com/yymwcg. Download the zip file and extract the contents to your flash drive. Below is a list of software tools available when you plug in your 32MB flash drive.

Perhaps this might be some future meeting material - let us know if there is interest.

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LIMITATIONS ON USEFUL RAM

In these days of ever increasing RAM, I came across this article just as I was starting to put this 300th issue together. It is a bit technical, but is also food for thought for those getting a new computer or thinking about adding RAM to the one they already have. Give it a read:

Q: I have a new Windows Vista computer. I have the Ultimate version, with 4 gigabytes of RAM. However, when I look under System, it shows only 2.8GB of RAM. What happened to the rest of my memory? Mike in Bloomington, IN, listening on WGCL 1370 AM

A: Sorry to say, I'm afraid you've wasted your money. The rest of your memory is sitting idle. Windows can't address it.

This is going to get a little technical. But it's important for people who want to build killer machines. Many motherboards will hold a maximum of 4GB of RAM. But that doesn't mean Windows can use it.

Let's get the math out of the way first. Windows Vista comes in two basic versions-32-bit and 64-bit. The biggest difference is the amount of address space each can access. The former can access 4GB of address space. The 64-bit version of Vista Home Basic can access 8 terabytes of address space. The other four versions can access 16TB.

(Mathematically, a 64-bit operating system could access 16 exabytes of address space. That's 4 billion times the 32-bit limit, give or take.

(All 32-bit operating systems have a 4GB limit on address space. It is imposed by mathematics. The problem is not limited to Windows Vista.)

OK, so let's get back to your question. You have 4GB of memory, but Windows only sees 2.8GB. That's because system RAM is only one thing vying for address space. Your machine has hardware that needs address space, too.

For instance, the video card is really hungry. According to Hewlett-Packard, a 256MB video card needs AT LEAST 256MB of address space. So let's say you build a big-time gaming machine. You install a 512MB video card. Throw in your PCI-E bus system and numerous other pieces of hardware. You could eat up half the address space.

Those pieces of hardware get the first bite of address space. RAM gets the rest. So, in that case, the 32-bit version of Windows would only access about 2GB of RAM.

How's that for a kick in the teeth? You spend a fortune for top-notch hardware, and inadvertently cheat yourself out of memory!

So, can you solve this problem with Windows' 64-bit version? Maybe, maybe not. The machine itself has to provide more address space. And you need a 64-bit microprocessor.

The latter is no problem. Both Intel and AMD make gobs of 64-bit microprocessors. Before you buy such a machine, though, make certain the chipset supports the additional address space.

Let's assume the machine offers tons of address space. In that case, all of the RAM would be fully utilized. But that's only if the application you're using (a game, for instance) is also 64-bit.

Unfortunately, almost all applications are 32-bit. That is certainly true of consumer applications. When they run on 64-bit Vista, they use emulation. This emulation is called Windows on Windows 64, or WoW64. And they can only access 2GB of RAM!

I'm afraid the consumer world just isn't ready for 64-bit Vista. It makes more sense in the corporate world. There, mammoth programs might exceed 4GB in size. With the extra memory accessible in 64-bit operating systems, these programs can be loaded into RAM in their entirety. That makes them run much faster.

In fact, we looked at servers on Dell's site. We found one option offering 32GB of RAM. That costs a mere $12,000 extra!

It looks to me like you're snagged, no matter what you do. Online, I found people whose machines accessed as little as 2GB of RAM. These people had 4GB of RAM installed. Needless to say, they were hot under the collar. But, like you, they have no realistic solution.

RAM is cheap today, so lots of people are interested in maxing out. But when I bought my Vista Ultimate machines, I went for 2GB. Frankly, that's a good number. It runs Vista very well. Much more, and I'd risk running out of address space.

No doubt, you hate wasting money. You might consider selling 1GB of your RAM. I have more tips on RAM and memory on my site. [from a Kim Komando tip]

Note from editor: my new HP desktop currently has 3 GB of installed RAM. The System Control Panel shows that I have 2.93 GB of RAM. The motherboard is very new and the CPU is a 64-bit chip; so it fits into the information above. On the other hand, my newly upgraded laptop now has 2 GB of RAM and the System Control Panel reports that it has 2.00 GB RAM, also fits the story :EJV.


MLCUG Meetings  2007  Steering Committee Meetings

		May 12			May 16
		June 9 			June 20
		July 14 		July 18

	* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday
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