Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


June 2007 Issue 301

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JUN 9th


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 items, for both problem solving and for learning. We hope there'll be a good turnout for this event.

Over 2 years ago, we had a tutorial in capturing sound from various audio sources with your PC, the right hardware and the sound management software, Audacity. Last time, John M updated his earlier presentation and generated more questions. So, he'll come back this month for an encore. He plans to demo the use of iTunes to organize and burn both audio and MP3 CDs. And, he'll also use Layton's new USB-type turntable so LPs and other records can be the medium to transfer sound from.

Following the roughly noon break, we'll have our Advanced meeting. At last month's meeting, Pete W set up for viewing the first half of the DVD-based movie "Revolution OS", devoted to the open source software phenomenon. For June, we plan to view the rest of the film [EJV]


DRIVE-BY WI-FI 'THIEF' HEAVILY FINED

Michigan man busted for failing to buy coffee!!

A Michigan man who parked outside a local Wi-Fi cafe every day to check his email has been fined $400 and sentenced to 40 hours of community service. Sam Peterson can consider himself unfortunate since if he'd simply popped into the Re-Union Street Cafe [continued]

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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Drive-by Thief [cont. from p.1]: in Sparta MI, for a coffee while checking his email, he'd have avoided punishment. Peterson was collared for fraudulent access to a computer network after his presence outside the cafe drew the attention of local police chief Andrew Milanowski.

Peterson admitted he was surfing the web using the cafe's unsecured Wi-Fi network. He didn't realize piggybacking on the network might be an offense so it must have come as a surprise when summoned to court, charged with offenses punishable by a max 5 years' imprisonment.

"I knew that the Union Street had Wi-Fi. I just went down and checked my email and didn't see a problem with that," Peterson told WOOD TV.

Although Peterson escaped prison, his punishment still seems harsh, especially considering his "supposed" victim had no problem with what he was doing - other than the fact he didn't patronize her establishment and his crime was prosecuted as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Donna May, the owner of the Re-Union Street Cafe, was far from aggrieved at Peterson's supposed theft of Wi-Fi service.

"I didn't know it was really illegal, either," she told WOOD TV. "If he would have come in [to the coffee shop], it would have been fine."

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 Broomall 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 had only 15 attendees to the May meeting, but a lively discussion was still had by all! A few of the meeting highlights:

Ed C reported on the Trenton show, as the only loyal attender from MLCUG.

Layton F commented on his FIOS TV service at $12/mo. He obviously has the gift of persuasion to get the lowest cost around! Does anyone have experience with the FiOS TV offering - to compare it with Comcast cable?

Marty C commented on the utilities support from the computer club at the Newark Senior Center. It is well worth your time to look over all parts of the "Computer Maintenance Schedule" on their very well done web site, at: http://www.nscseniorsurfers.com/maintenance.htm

And, as an example of between-meetings help, Ted M had a problem with the MS OE default font size. But, he received a follow-up response from Al G on our club's listserv the next day!

MAIN MEETING PROGRAM

John M got into the makings of an audio recording with attention to capturing streaming audio using an audio mixer as the source. He used his old presentation (January 2005) as the core of the story. There were some unfinished items from his presentation so he'll be back for an encore in June (see p.1).

ADVANCED MEETING

Pete W showed the first half the "Revolution OS" on DVD. This part of the DVD took us thru GNU Tools, the Linux Kernel, Apache (the killer app) and Red Hat, the first significant Linux distribution bundler.

Thanks to John D for these meeting summaries.

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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 May 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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RECIPE FOR DISASTER!!

Here's a question that was posed to the Kim Komando newsletter. Take a good look!

Q: Is my laptop a good buy?

I recently purchased a Windows Vista laptop for my wife. She just started doing occupational therapy, working with children. She has to write evaluations for each child and communicate through the Internet with her office. Can you tell me if the laptop is sufficient? It is a Gateway with an AMD Turion 64 X2, 1 gigabyte of memory, 160GB hard drive and a DVD-RW drive. Also, can you tell me what I need to go wireless on the Internet? And one more question: My wife has some files on our desktop computer. Should I worry about transferring them to the new laptop? My youngest son is always downloading from the Internet, and the desktop's security programs are expired. How about that last sentence for a clincher?

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USING FIREFOX: TIPS AND TRICKS Al Gottlieb

BRINGING TINYURL FUNCTIONALITY TO YOUR BROWSER

I'm always browsing the internet and sending information pages to other people. Some of the page URLs are long and complicated and are difficult to pass on to others. For example, if I were to put an original URL into this newsletter and in order to use it you would have to type it into the address bar of your browser you would be prone to mistypes and frustration. I never send long URLs. Instead I have incorporated the "TinyURL Creator" into my browser via the browser add-ons. Now, I just right-click a page and click on "Create a TinyUrl for this Page". The TinyUrl created is posted to my clipboard and I can just paste the site address into a text message that might be seen in a Computer Club newsletter like the one you're reading now. For example, the site for the Firefox TinyUrl add-on is https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/126. Try typing that without making a mistake. The TinyUrl address is http://tinyurl.com/2pb7f8. Try it - you'll like it.

DEFINE MULTIPLE HOME PAGES

All browsers let you define a home page that opens when you first start your browser. Did you know you can tell Firefox to open multiple home pages at the same time? Chris Rogers writes in to share his tip on how to accomplish this:

* "Here's a feature of Firefox I discovered almost by accident: you can set up multiple home pages.

There are two ways to do this: You can either click on Tools, Options, Main and type in multiple URLs separated by the vertical pipe symbol (|) in the Home Page panel. Or you can open the appropriate number of tabs, point each one to the desired home page, and then click on Tools, Options, Main, Use Current Pages.

Once you've done this, Firefox will open the requisite number of tabs and load each of your home pages when you start it up or click on the Home button."

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DUAL BOOT XP & VISTA

This item is aimed primarily at folks who purchased a new Windows XP computer in the November thru March time frame - when you would qualify for a free Vista Upgrade.

You should have received the upgrade DVD by now and you may or may not have also received some kind of upgrade CD or DVD from the computer manufacturer to aid the upgrade for your specific system. I, like some others, got a new HP box and have received two discs from the Express Upgrade product (HP and other manufacturers contracted with a third party supplier set up by Microsoft to arrange these upgrade products).

One of the discs is a CD labeled "HP Upgrade Assistant", while the second disc is labeled "Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Express Upgrade". It has been my intention to install the Vista OS in a separate partition to allow dual booting of XP Home or Vista Home Premium. Instructions were provided on how to use the Upgrade Assistant disc to install the Vista OS as an upgrade of XP. We are informed that doing so will wipe out all of our old XP OS and personal information!! This I very definitely wanted to avoid!!

A look thru the HP web site turned up a step by step article entitled: "HP and Compaq Desktop PCs - Dual Boot: Adding Windows Vista to a Computer with XP". Apparently, just what the doctor ordered! Except - the procedure makes no use of the HP Upgrade Assistant - doesn't even mention its existence!!! You can see the article by going to the HP web site to "Support and Troubleshooting". In the search box at the top of the page, type "dual boot windows" and you'll turn up one hit - the article in question.

Not being able to determine if I had the right bit of information, I emailed HP Tech Support (I've had pretty good luck with help via this route). I got a very quick response that indicated there is no need to use the HP Upgrade Assistant when setting up your system to be a dual boot OS.

So, with that knowledge, I wanted, first, to pass it on to others who may be in a similar boat. And, second, to forge ahead on the dual boot route. The first task is done with this newsletter item. The second lies a little ahead and I'll report on my experience later.

If any of you have either done the upgrade route or taken the (preferred) dual boot route, why not tell us how you are doing? Our very convenient listserv is an excellent way to do this!

Oh, yes, one addendum - you can use a program like Norton Partition Magic or Acronis Disk Director to set up the partitions for the new OS. Much easier than the command-line routine in the HP article. [EJV]

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PATCHES AND A WARNING FROM MOZILLA

It was a busy week for Mozilla. It issued fixes for six vulnerabilities in its Firefox Web browsers. One of the vulnerabilities is rated critical. Hackers could exploit the vulnerability and execute arbitrary code.

The bugs may also affect Mozilla's Thunderbird and SeaMonkey. JavaScript should be disabled in Thunderbird. Likewise, it should also be disabled in the mail portion of SeaMonkey.

Additionally, Mozilla has acknowledged that Firefox extensions could pose risks to your machine. Some third-party add-ons are hosted on unsecured servers. A hacker could create a fake update server. Mozilla uses a secured update server. So add-ons hosted on its site are not affected. [reported on 6/2/2007]

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FIREFOX EASTER EGGS

Some of you Firefox users may be familiar with the about:blank page. This opens a blank page in the Web browser. Some people like to set this minimal look as their home page.

But you're probably not aware of Firefox's other hidden pages. They can help you learn more about your software.

TO SEE THESE PAGES, SIMPLY TYPE THE PAGE NAME IN THE ADDRESS BAR.

About:credits A lot of volunteers have poured hours and hours of hard work into developing Firefox. So, this page credits everyone who has helped.

About:buildconfig This will show you information about the platform build configuration and parameters. If you're curious, check it out. But, for average users, this won't mean much.

About:plugins Firefox's plug-ins and extensions add a lot of functionality. To learn more about what's on your machine, visit this page. You'll also see more details about plug-ins. You'll see if they're enabled, and the file types associated with them.

About:cache Firefox stores copies of recently visited pages on your hard drive. You can see how much space this cache is using. You can also peek at what's stored in your cache. However, you can't view the cached pages.

About:config This page shows you Firefox's configuration. You can also change configuration settings. This is interesting stuff. But I recommend that you look but not touch - unless you're sure what you're doing. Otherwise, Firefox may not function correctly.

About:Mozilla Okay, this page is just weird. It displays a page from the Book of Mozilla. The quote sounds Biblical. But there is no Book of Mozilla. This is a carryover from the Netscape browser, upon which Firefox is based.

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TOP TEN GRIPES ABOUT MICROSOFT (AND ONE HONORABLE MENTION) by Debra L. Schindler, MVP, WXP News

Last week, I promised a treat for all those folks who say I never say anything critical of Microsoft: a list of my top ten gripes about the company and their products. Now, I make no secret of the fact that, as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), I specialize in supporting Microsoft software. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't study it, work with it, and spend most of my days writing about it - I'm not a masochist. But there are certainly things about the company and its products that I don't like. 1. My first complaint is that the company is just too darn big. When any entity grows beyond a certain point, it becomes sluggish and less efficient and doesn't function as well. That applies to obese people (and animals), big government, and private businesses. Microsoft employees are, for the most part, enthusiastic and creative and want to give their customers great products, but just as the wheels of our gigantic government move at a snail's pace, so does the decision-making process within the company. There are just too many levels that any decision has to go through, too many people to raise questions and place obstacles in the way of getting the job done. This, unfortunately, seems to be the consequences of success in today's business world. It's certainly not unique to Microsoft, but a software company, especially, needs to be innovative and it's hard to be innovative when every idea gets smothered under layers and layers of ...

2. Lawyers. Too many of them. I recently read a blog post by an anonymous Microsoft employee that mentioned how the lawyers tie the hands of the rest of the employees. You can't say anything in public without "running it by the lawyers." You can't publish anything, including help for software problems, without the approval of the legal department. The focus can't be on making the best products when it has to be on avoiding litigation. The reason for this is obvious and hearkens back to number 1. When a company becomes so big and successful, it becomes a target for lawsuits. Many of them are unfounded, but it still takes time to defend against them, so the attorneys become the de facto final decision makers. That doesn't make for a good environment for employees or customers. [Part 2, next time]


MLCUG Meetings  2007  Steering Committee Meetings

	June 9 				June 13
	July 14 			July 18
	August 11			August 15

	* = SECOND Wednesday		** = FOURTH Wednesday
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