Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


Febuary 2008 Issue 309

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - FEB 9th

UPCOMING MEETING

MAIN MEETING TOPIC: WEB CAM MANAGEMENT

ADVANCED SESSION TOPIC: GPARTED (GNU Partition Editor)

We’re now past the big holiday season of the year and starting to settle into the 2008 yearly routine. If you’re like me, it took you a couple of weeks to stop writing 2007 on your bank checks and finally start dating them correctly.

By now you should have figured out how to use the new high tech toys you got for Christmas. In my case I was so impressed with the MacBook my brother and I gave my niece for Christmas that I went out and bought one for myself. I learned a lot about the Mac OS the ensuing week.

This month, as always, we’ll have our usual roundtable discussion of problems, issues, and announcements. It’s not often that we get to meet our Villanova University sponsor. This month is one of those exceptions. Our sponsor, Frank M, will treat us to a presentation on the ins and outs of setting up a web camera to monitor a remote location. It happens that Frank owns an apartment or two in Paris, one being near the Eiffel Tower. Being so near, Frank decided to setup a web cam aimed at the tower. Unlike most web cam setups, the web cam image under goes some automatic post processing before being posted on one web page. Frank will discuss his setup and automatic post processing efforts. If you would like to link to his web cam website to preview its images, here is a link for your browser:

http://www.eiffelcam.com

For our February advanced session meeting, John M has suggested that we take a look at “GPartEd”, a GNU partition editor that runs under Linux. One could consider this a poor man’s version of Partition Magic, Acronis Disk Director, and other commercial partition utilities. I suspect that John will walk us thru the features of GPARTED as well as the setup of a LiveCD or LiveUSB.

So come out and join us for our February meeting. It’s a chance to learn how others are using and managing their computers and digital equipment.

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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. Please pray for his return to good health.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & REMINDERS

1) If you are a member and did not attend the December meeting, then you likely missed out on getting the end of year club DVD. If so, and you would like a copy, contact John M to make arrangements to get the DVD. (See the LAST MONTH’S MEETING section of the January newsletter for more info about the DVD.)

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.

3) A few of the regular attendees usually partake of lunch at the Country Squire Diner in Broomall near the intersection of Routes 3 and 320. So, after the meeting, why not join us? It’s an opportunity to get more help and to discuss our common interests.

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LAST MONTH'S MEETING

Attendance: 13 people in all attended the meeting on Saturday, January 12th. We had one new face in the crowd, Pat S. Welcome, Pat! Main Meeting Q&A: We began last month’s meeting with our normal round of questions and announcements. Among the questions and announcements, Rich T referenced his notebook USB port driver problems and his use of a Visco GPS unit; Peter W showed us how a CD failed over time and referenced a camera buffer problem related to using a USB 1.1 port; Layton spoke of his use and problems with a dedicated DVD duplicator; Joan mentioned (with Layton’s help) her experience with a Panasonic digital camera; Pat S referenced his use of a USB connected turntable to convert LP’s to MP3 files and spoke about movie conversion; Marty C didn’t realize magicJack required a broadband connection for VoIP to work; Ralph mentioned his use of a numeric keyboard extension and use of a new hearing aid and showed us a LED flashlite; John M spoke of Wii games and a new Brother color laser printer; and Wendy sought help for her failed hard drive.

Main Meeting Program: For the main presentation John D presented and demonstrated magicJack, a VoIP alternative. The initial first year investment is $47 for the magicJack USB cartridge and one year of service. There after it costs $20 PER YEAR for each additional year of service. MagicJack works with either a Windows (2000, XP, or Vista) or Mac PC and requires a broadband connection – DSL or better. You can plug a conventional landline telephone into the USB cartridge or use a headset to make your telephone calls for FREE to any USA or Canadian telephone number. MagicJack features most, if not all, of the normal telephone service amenities like caller ID, call forwarding, voice messaging, and E911, plus others. At the end of the presentation John D used his cell phone to connect to a Vtech phone connected to the magicJack cartridge to demonstrate the sound quality.

Advanced Meeting Program: After several months of delays, John D was able to present SpeedFan for Windows. Speedfan is a software utility that will monitor the temperatures and control fan speed on most modern PC’s. Its use can result in quieter computer operation by reducing fan speeds when conditions permit.

Besides monitoring temperatures on motherboards, it can also monitor temperatures on internally connected hard drives that use the SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology). And if you have a modern video card, Speedfan can monitor temperatures there too and possibly control fan speed on the video card.

Additional features of Speedfan include SMART data analysis using a link to…

http://www.hddstatus.com/

and advanced features like over-clocking control, event reporting via email, and monitoring via xAP technology.

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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From email sent by Emil V…

VOIP ALTERNATIVES TRIM LONG-DISTANCE BILLS - 1/3/2008

By Scott Dunn

Our Dec. 13, 2007, issue explained how a VoIP device called MagicJack, which charges only $20 USD per year for unlimited calls from anywhere in the world to U.S. and Canada phones, might make big long-distance bills a thing of the past.

As a result, many of our readers pointed out other innovative Internet products and services to help cut your phone bill down to size.

Numerous readers wrote in to make us aware of their own preferred Voice over Internet Protocol systems for lowering their phone bills. We haven't tested all of the following services or products, so do your homework before diving in:

• Jajah. John Cossins and many others wrote to tell us how pleased they were with the service offered by Jajah. Unlike many VoIP services, Jajah doesn't require any installable software or hardware (other than an ordinary telephone). You go to the Web site and enter your phone number and the number you wish to call. Jajah does the rest by calling you and then connecting you with your party. Jajah also offers a service called Jajah Direct, which doesn't even require an Internet connection. You simply call a local phone number and provide the destination number. Readers report good voice quality and low per-minute rates, starting at 2.9 cents per minute, which are listed at the Jajah site. Calls between any two Jajah customers are free. • Vyke and VoipCheap. Reader Alf Manders wrote to tell us about Vyke, and Leon Fiss wanted to inform us of VoipCheap. Both services are similar to Skype in that they require you to download and install software. You'll need a microphone and speakers on your computer if you don't have a headset.

• ChatterBug. Kurt Kincel prefers the ChatterBug hardware device, which requires no computer or Internet connection. You simply connect the $25 USD device between your phone and wall jack and pay $10 a month for long-distance calls. WSN editorial director Brian Livingston reviewed the ChatterBug in a Feb. 21, 2006, Executive Tech column.

• GrandCentral. A reader named Roger is excited about the features offered by GrandCentral, a service that was recently acquired by Google. Unlike the other VoIP services mentioned above, GrandCentral is not designed to lower your long distance bills. Instead, it aims to unite all your phones under a single number that GrandCentral provides. Incoming calls are routed to your other numbers or to your voice mail. The service can also unite all your voice mails in one place, which you can manage from the Web site. You can screen calls, block unwanted calls, dial from an online address book, record and play back calls, and more. The service is currently free.

• Skype. Finally, a few readers had comments on Skype-related hardware. Richard Sale is pleased with uConnect, a $60 USB device that lets you make Skype or landline calls from an analog phone that you plug into the device. Dave Eisenbraun recommends the Philips VOIP841, a $130 list ($110 street) cordless hybrid Skype and landline phone, which eliminates the need for a computer. Leon Sizemore and others wrote to point out that Skype does not require a special headset if your computer has speakers and a mic.

MagicJack may not work on restricted systems…

Regarding the Dec. 13, 2007, article, reader Paul Wrenn asks about my statement that MagicJack installs no software on the host computer. Paul cites an eWeek article stating that the MagicJack software "does not run directly from the device," but "fully installs on the Windows system."

To test this, I used the freeware product TinyWatcher to scan a Windows XP system before and connecting MagicJack. The TinyWatcher scan indicated that, contrary to prior statements by a MagicJack representative, MagicJack does add two files to the Windows System32 folder (usbaudio.sys and utscsci.exe). It also adds four entries to the Windows Registry.

Although these changes are minimal compared to some other VoIP programs, they nevertheless suggest that MagicJack may not work on a computer whose policies prohibit any software installation.

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SECUNIA

This software for Windows checks hundreds of software applications to make sure they are up-to-date and provides advice on how to update them if they aren’t.

As of mid-January, Secunia has again updated the Secunia Software Inspector with new rules for detecting insecure and outdated software.

Run the web-based Java Secunia Software Inspector to make sure that your system is up-to-date:

http://secunia.com/software_inspector/

OR, download and test the free advanced Personal Software Inspector today:

https://psi.secunia.com/ .

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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://micug.org/


MLCUG Meetings 2008      Steering Committee Meetings
    
February 9			February 13
March 8				March 12
April 12			April 16

EDITOR: Emil J. Volcheck, Jr. 1046 General Allen Lane West Chester, PA 19382-8030 Produced on a HP Pavilion: Athlon 64 X2 Dual 3200+, 3 GB RAM, 300 GB hard drive, Brother HL-5170DNLT laser printer, Epson 4490 scanner, CD-RW/DVD±R/RW drives, AppleWorks 5.0.3, EditPad Pro 6 and pdfFactory Pro 2

MLCUG LISTSERV:	for members only...
OUR WEB PAGE:	http://mlcug.org/
PUBLICITY:		Position OPEN!
VILLANOVA SPONSOR:	Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy
MLCUG STEERING COMMITTEE;