Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


Dec 2007 Issue 307

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - DEC 8th


UPCOMING MEETING

DECEMBER HOLIDAY CELEBRATION

JOIN US FOR HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES

REMINDER: RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP NOW IN TIME TO RECEIVE NEXT YEAR’S JANUARY NEWSLETTER!

This month we will return to our normal meeting location, Room 110 in St Augustine Center.

As in years past, this will be one of our more light hearted meetings in keeping with the holiday spirit. We will eat, drink, and be merry and have door prizes, raffles, and a club DVD loaded with this year’s newsletters, audio tracks from this year’s meetings, and a selection of free software that will hopefully keep you productive and safe during the next year.

As always we will open the formal part of our meeting with our round-table of announcements, questions, and problem solving. This is the part of the meeting where we all get an opportunity to help each other thru our computer experiences, both bad and good. So come on out to the meeting prepared to make a gift of your experiences and knowledge so all may learn and reap the benefits of shared knowledge.

For our main presentation John M or I will review the contents of this year’s club DVD. The DVD will contain an archive of the past year’s newsletters as well as slightly higher quality audio recordings of the meetings. These will be slightly higher quality than can be found on the club web site. In addition we have included select free software that covers the gamut from productivity, security, media related, to utilities. In most cases both the current version of the software and links to the website source will be on the disk. In a few cases, only the links to the website source will be on the disk.

As in years past, there will not be any advanced session. Instead we will intersperse the meeting with raffles and prizes and a Christmas luncheon near the end.

So come out and join us for the holiday festivities. Have a safe and happy holiday!

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THIS ISSUE OF THE NEWSLETTER

What happened to this issue of the newsletter?

This issue has been put together by the club treasurer, John D, who has stepped into the editor position in Emil’s absence. Please excuse the changed appearance and content of this newsletter during this time.

Emil has been experiencing health problems which have kept him from participating in the normal club activities. He is very hopeful that he will be able to attend this month’s meeting. Please pray for his return to good health.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & REMINDERS

1) It’s that time of year again – Club Membership Renewal time. Please give your dues to our treasurer, John D, at the meeting or mail checks to his address as indicated on the back cover. Checks should be made payable to: MLCUG .

2) Club membership entitles you to receive a copy of the newsletter and access to our email list server, which is run for the benefit of our members. Please do not hesitate to post club and computer related notices and problems to it. If we can’t solve your problem remotely, we can be alerted to it ahead of the monthly meeting where more hands-on may help resolve your problem.

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LAST MONTH'S MEETING

Attendance: 10 people in all, including our sponsor, Frank M, attended the meeting on Saturday, November 10th. I hope the decreasing attendance of the past few months is not indicative of a continued trend. It would be nice to see more members turn out for the monthly meeting.

Main Meeting Q&A: We began last month’s meeting with our normal round of questions and announcements. In the announcements category we mentioned that Wi-Fi Philadelphia expects to be a completed reality by end-of-year. Wi-Fi Philadelphia is operated by EarthLink. It is not free, but is priced in 3 tiers with the upper 2 tiers being priced around $20 per month, separated by a couple of dollars. The difference between the upper 2 tiers is speed related. The lower tier is priced around $10 per month and is for those who are economically disadvantaged. It provides the same service as the lower priced upper tier. For more information, log on at:

http://www.wirelessphiladelphia.org/

Other issues and announcements were presented by Rich T about a Circuit City notebook and his Comcast router; Al G about a stand-alone record player/recorder; Ralph H about his Verizon email transition, Vista permissions and oddities, and update issues; Ed C about his disappeared AVG software; Ted K about DVD audio loudness; Pete W about Skype; and John M about the latest Mac OS update, Leopard, and the built-in Time Machine backup utility.

Main Meeting Program: John M presented us with the external bare-bones HD interface for 2.5” and 3.5” IDE drives and SATA drives. The interface connects to a USB port and facilitates the occasional niche need for a backup device such as when replacing a HD or when making a long term backup that is to be locked away in storage for a fairly long period of time. Bare-bone drive interfaces are inexpensive at about $20-$30 and should be available through stores like Micro Center.

Advanced Meeting Program: Due to dwindling attendance at the noon hour we canceled the advanced meeting. We will likely reschedule the SpeedFan presentation to January.

Miss The Meeting? NOTE: Recordings of the meetings (made and edited 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 Archives. The audio is accessible from the web site as MP3 files. You can download and listen to them as you choose!

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FIREFOX: TIPS AND TRICKS By Al Gottlieb

Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer

If you use Firefox on more than one computer, you may want to synchronize your bookmarks between those computers. Firefox has an extension that will work in the background to do just that - keep all of your bookmarks synchronized. The extension, called Foxmarks, has to be installed on each computer. It can be found at:

http://tinyurl.com/2j63gw

If you want to further manage your bookmarks you can do so from the site:

http://my.foxmarks.com

If your bookmarks contain sensitive information, such as shortcuts to banks or brokers that you do business with you may want to consider either removing those sites from your bookmarks or using another method to share bookmarks between sites. I’m rather paranoid about having sensitive information available to anyone on the net so I use a combination of FEBE (Firefox Environment Backup Extension) and CLEO (Compact Library Extension Organizer) to manage all of my Firefox information, and del.icio.us and furl to manage select bookmarks between computers.

The previously mentioned extensions are particularly useful for managing bookmarks if you have portable Firefox on your flash drive. I prefer keeping things on my LAN rather than on the net.

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SECURITY

Firefox open to attacks from .jar files Submitted by Al Gottlieb Excerpted from: Windows Secrets Newsletter 11/15/07

A problem with the way Firefox handles .jar files was recently discovered. In case you don't already know, .jar files are Java applications compressed in Zip format. The JAR extension tells your browser and operating system that a file is a Java application.

Firefox's problem is that someone can include documents in .jar files and use those documents to launch cross-site scripting attacks. In such an exploit, an untrustworthy site would be able discover information from another site you visit, such as the password you use to access an online banking site. Compounding the problem further is the possibility that bad guys might use .jar files to infect your system with malware. The Mozilla Foundation is aware of this problem, but there's no official fix yet. There is a way, however, to protect your system. Get a copy of the latest development version of the NoScript plug-in for Firefox. It's recently been updated to defend against this particular avenue of attack.

Keep in mind that, since NoScript v1.1.8.1 is still in development, it could have bugs. But, even if it does, at least your systems will be protected against these particular .jar attacks.

NOTE (Ed): NoScript is now up to version 1.1.8.3 It can be found at: http://noscript.net/

Email Issue & Reminder: By Emil Volcheck 11/22/2007

Today's Inquirer had a feature on an e-card that leads to devastating results to your computer, if you click on it to read it. If you get the Inquirer, be sure to read the article.

If you don't, just remember, any e-card can come like other unsolicited links and attachments. So just because it is the season to be jolly - don't drop your guard when it comes to items like this.

Be sure to "Practice Safe Email"!!! For those who've forgotten, I'm republishing the rules that I extracted and modified from the southwest Florida club:

PRACTICING SAFE EMAIL ATTACHMENTS!

The best solution to prevent a virus or Trojan horse disaster is:

NOT to place yourself in harm's way in the first place.

When you receive an email attachment and BEFORE you open it, ask yourself these four questions:

Do I know who the email is from?

Do I know what the attachment is?

Do I know what the attachment does?

Does the attachment ORIGINATE from the person who is sending it to me?

ONLY, if you can answer "Yes" to ALL four questions, can you be assured that you may open the email attachment with impunity.

Now just substitute "ecard" for "email attachment" and you'll understand my point!

Have a happy holiday and don't get fooled by a Trojan horse!

Secure Those Office Apps: One thing that has become evident over time is that a scripting function within an application is a potentially dangerous thing. That’s why we have NoScript for Firefox.

I was again recently reminded that this danger also exists in MS Office when I ran MS Baseline Security Analyzer. It told me that my macro security levels were set too low. Though I have rarely used macros in any office app and never at home, sure enough one of my MS Office apps had a low macro security setting.

Since I do exchange documents with others I figured it was important to check the macro security level in all my office apps including both MS Office apps and Open Office.

Your macro security setting should be set to high unless you have good reason not to set it there. To check the macro security setting in MS Office apps use the menu path:

Tools | Macro | Security…

In Open Office use the menu path:

Tools | Options… | Security | Macro Security…

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MLCUG Meetings 2007      Steering Committee Meetings
 
December 8			December 12
January 12			January 16
February 9			February 13