Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


March 2008 Issue 310

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - MAR 8th


UPCOMING MEETING

MAIN MEETING TOPIC: DISK MANAGEMENT - SECURING RETIRED DATA

ADVANCED SESSION TOPIC: MYTH TV - HOMEBREW PVR

For our main presentation this month we thought we would talk about security, but in a different vein from our discussions of viruses, firewalls, and malware. Instead we want to talk about securing retired data - data stored on retired hard drives or hard drives that have failed - drives that you intend to recycle, give away with an old computer, or discard in various other ways. Have you thought about what might become of your personal data stored on those drives? Are you sure you have removed your personal data so it is not available to the prying eyes of others?

John M will discuss the use of DBAN as a tool to manage your retired data and as a prep tool for cleaning disks prior to installing an operating system under certain conditions. If you would like to preview information about DBAN, check out the Sourceforge website at:

http://dban.sourceforge.net/

For our advanced presentation, Peter W will introduce us to Myth TV or MythTV. Both references can be found on the web using Google. Myth TV as I am going to call it is a Linux based PVR (Personal Video Recorder). Pete will discuss how to build your own as well as discuss the features and functions of Myth TV. I've heard that Myth TV is often compared to TiVo. So maybe Peter will do some comparisons for us as well. For those of you who are interested and curious, you might start by checking the Myth TV website at:

http://www.mythtv.org/

So come out and join us for our March 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.

Recently the Steering Committee members received a note from Emil and this is some of what he had to say, "Guys, just got out of the hospital a few days ago... my mobility is very limited and I don't expect to be able to attend any meetings for the foreseeable future."

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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: 14 people in all attended the meeting on Saturday, February 9th. We had one new face in the crowd, Don W. Welcome, Don!

One question that has come up a few times recently is how many members are in the club? We have 28 members including our sponsor, Frank M. Main Meeting Q&A: We began last month's meeting with our normal round of questions and announcements. Among the questions and announcements, John D queried the members about their use of OS's and backups; Tom J spoke of his Acer HD failure; John M mentioned his Brother color laser printer acquisition and showed examples of its printed output; Ralph H described his use of Nero and created a monster print-out of its documentation; Marty noted his on-going new member recruiting efforts; Don W spoke of his FIOS upgrade issues; Layton presented his new GPS and referenced issues with the coming digital TV transition; Pat S wanted recommendations on how to best capture his T-Mobile web orders and what software to use for backups, and mentioned a McAfee software crash; Peter W followed up on the Homestead mail list Maurice Randall / CMD issues; and Rich T spoke about issues related to securing flash drives, digital TV converter coupons thru www.cbs3.com, and Windows Vista sleep / power modes.

Main Meeting Program: For the main presentation Frank M presented and demonstrated his use of a webcam to view the Eiffel Tower from one of his Paris apartments. He calls it Eiffel cam. Frank's use of a webcam is a bit different than most others. He does some remote automatic post processing of the picture using Irfanview and a script at his home in Pennsylvania for redisplay on the web and for archival purposes. Some of what he does with the pictures is to use them to augment his interest in astronomy as a study of the motion of night sky objects relative to the Eiffel Tower, in particular the moon.

Hardware and software used in Frank's little project and presentation included:

a Netcam XL camera - http://www.stardottech.com/netcamxl/

Yawcam camera control software - http://www.yawcam.com/

BulletProof FTP server - http://www.bpftpserver.com/

Irfanview graphic manipulation software - http://irfanview.com/

Starry Night Pro astronomy software - http://www.starrynightstore.com/

Pictures from Frank's Eiffel cam project can be found on the web at:

http://eiffelcam.com

Additional links to the camera output and the post processed image can be found on the above web page. Additionally, there's a link to another web page if you would like to rent Frank's vacation apartment. (Plug - plug!)

Advanced Meeting Program: For our advanced session meeting, John M presented GPartEd on a LiveCD. GPartEd is the Gnome Partition Editor. It runs under Linux. You normally install the editor and Linux on a bootable CD. Thus the term, "LiveCD". It could also be installed on a bootable USB device.

GPartEd is a partition editor much like Partition Magic and other similar commercial partition editors. Its big advantage is it is FREE. Like most free software, don't expect much direct support. However, you are likely to find support in online forums. Like Partition Magic, GPartEd is able to manage many partition types and resize and move partitions and their contents non-destructively on the fly.

For more information you can look on the Web. Here's a web link for starters:

http://gparted.sourceforge.net/index.php

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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GPARTED FOLLOW-UP

Our GPartEd presentation generated two follow-up topic discussions on our email list server.

First, there's another editor that some users may find more to their liking. It's a derivative of GPartEd. For more information take a look here:

http://www.linuxseekers.com/content/view/248/1/ Second, there's an apparent issue with using GPartEd on a Vista boot partition. The warning is that if you use GPartEd to mess with a Vista boot partition, you may not be able to boot Vista afterward. There seems to be a fix. The fix can be found at:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/using-gparted-to-resize-your-windows-vista-partition/

So read the above link before messing with Vista boot partitions using GPartEd or any of its derivatives.

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WINDOWS VISTA SP1

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is due out in the near future. Be aware, SP1 will break some programs. Microsoft has already published a list of programs that are known to break under SP1. This list is NOT all inclusive. So, as with any upgrade, especially significant upgrades, a word of caution. Wait a few days or more before taking the upgrade plunge, OR, if you must, have a working backup and restore program in place before you do the upgrade. The latter is your best avenue of action.

For more information on what programs SP1 is known to break, visit the Microsoft website at:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/935796

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ROUTER INSECURITY

Most of us have routers at home. How secure is your router? Have you changed the default factory administrator UID and PWD? Have you turned off your router's Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) interface? Maybe you feel you have a need for UPnP if you run a torrent downloader or other service. At the very least you should change the router's login UID and PWD. If you want to know why, then take a look at this blog from the Symantic website:

http://www.symantec.com/enterprise/security_response/weblog/2008/01/flashing_home_routers.html

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PDF PRINTERS

During our last meeting the question was asked, what is the best way to save a web page? The question was raised in reference to keeping a record of web purchases.

Though most sites will send you a purchase confirmation email, they also tell you to print a copy of your order at the time it is placed just in case you don't receive the email. Rather than waste paper, I always print a PDF document to disk. This works better than trying to save the web page from your browser.

For novices, the question that arises is how do I create a PDF document? For the Windows user there are several free PDF printer drivers available on the Internet. The club included one of the more versatile ones on the 2007 Christmas DVD. It is called BULLZIP. Like a lot of free PDF printer drivers, GHOSTSCRIPT must be installed first. Ghostscript was also included on the Christmas DVD.

After installing the PDF printer driver, users may still be confused as to how to create their PDF document. What you need to do is PRINT your document making sure to use the PDF printer you installed. To make this happen use your browser's (or other application) FILE menu and select PRINT. You will then be able to change the printer you are using. If you installed Bullzip, you will see Bullzip PDF Printer as one of your available printer choices.

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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
    
March 8				March 12
April 12			April 16
May 10				May 14
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;

PRESIDENT: Emil Volcheck		610-793-5156
TREASURER: John Deker			610-828-7897
WEBMASTER: Peter Whinnery		610-284-5234
AT LARGE:  Tom Johnson			610-896-2434
SECRETARY: Position open
DATABASE:  Layton Fireng		610-688-2080
AT LARGE:  Al Gottlieb			215-793-9725
AT LARGE:  John Murphy			610-935-4398