Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


April 2008 Issue 311

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - APR 12th


UPCOMING MEETING

MAIN MEETING TOPIC: GOOGLE DOCS / NOTEBOOK

ADVANCED SESSION TOPIC: MICROSOFT POWERSHELL

For our main presentation this month we plan to have Peter W talk about Google docs and possibly Google notebook.

Have you ever wanted to share a document with others? Have you ever wanted to collaborate on a document as part of a project? Have you ever needed to open a document, but didn't have Microsoft Office and didn't want to download and install Open Office? Well, maybe Google docs and notebook is for you. Google docs and notebook are just a couple of the many resources you can use to manage your productivity.

Peter will likely talk about why and when you might want to use these Google apps. In addition, I suspect he will walk us through the process of setting up a Google docs / notebook account, creating documents, and controlling sharing of your documents with others. He'll also likely discuss the pros and cons and limitations of using these Google apps as well as how to get help for using them.

If you would like a couple of web links to introduce you to these Google applications, try these...

http://www.google.com/google-d-s/tour1.html

http://www.google.com/googlenotebook/tour1.html

For our advanced presentation, John M is scheduled to introduce us to Microsoft's Powershell software.

Powershell is essentially for us CLI / Shell / scripting geeks who need a way to get the near impossible done and make the easily done even easier. At least that's the way it seems to me in my own preliminary overview. Hopefully, John M can show us some practical examples of how we might put Powershell to use in our day-to-day computer operations. At the very least we will become aware of its capabilities and potential use.

For a peek at Powershell's features take a look at this link...

http://commandwindows.com/powershell.htm

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

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 become acting editor in Emil's absence. Please excuse the changed appearance and content of this newsletter during this time.

Emil has been experiencing health problems which keep him from participating in the normal club activities. Please pray for his return to good health.


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.


LAST MONTH'S MEETING

Attendance: 13 people in all attended the meeting on Saturday, March 8th. We had one infrequent attendee, Nelson S, and we were missing one frequent attendee, Ralph H. I checked with Ralph after the meeting and found out he was having transportation and Verizon problems that week.

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 mentioned a HD failure, recent Java & Spyware Blaster version updates, and an extensive multiplatform free software list in the March 2008 issue of PC Magazine; Rich T followed up on his problem with monitor display distortion and a new Vista internet connectivity problem; Al G and Nelson S spoke about Vista related issues; Layton gave us a show & tell of 2 bargain items from Micro Center; Joan mentioned how her Firefox home page was hijacked for a period of time; Marty showed us the Vista Secrets book by Brian Livingston and spoke of a missing manual for his recent GPS purchase; Pat S spoke of his ongoing conversion of LP records to digital format and his concern for all the running processes and tasks on his Windows system; Dewitt S sought help with his crashed Win98 system; and John M presented the new Zoom H2 Handy Digital Recorder he was using to record the meeting and spoke about the slick interface on the New Yorker magazine DVD.

NOTE: The club is in the process of procuring its own Zoom H2 Handy Digital Recorder. For more info on the product check this website:

http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h2/

Main Meeting Program: For the main meeting program John M presented the software DBAN (Darik's Boot And Nuke) as it relates to wiping a disk and securing data on retired drives intended for disposal or drives that have been corrupted by a virus or other malware or drives that are best wiped clean prior to installing an operating system. DBAN has several wiping options ranging from a quick overwrite to MIL Spec levels and even supports a Canadian government spec. The DBAN GUI is very sparse and simplistic to the point that before wiping a given partition one needs to confirm the proper target partition has been selected with another program. John recommended using Parted Magic for this.

One of the questions / issues that arose from the meeting was what to do with failed drives that no longer run and therefore can't be wiped. Depending on the failure it may be possible to freeze a drive and later get it running long enough to wipe it. Other failures may call for more drastic action if there is a perceived security issue with the data that is on the drive.

Software and information related to the software used in John's presentation can be found at:

http://dban.sourceforge.net/

http://partedmagic.com

Advanced Meeting Program: For our advanced session meeting, Peter W presented MythTV. MythTV is a Linux based application that turns a computer into more than a TiVo equivalent. Peter covered the features and functionality of MythTV along with hardware and software requirements and recommendations. His presentation included bringing in and connecting the system he uses at home.

For more info on Peter's presentation, visit our club web page at:

http://www.mlcug.org/mythtv.html

where Peter has graciously provided an overview of his presentation with some links to other appropriate web locations.

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!


TIP FOR WEBMAIL ONLY USERS

A recent PC Magazine tip entitled "Defaulting to Webmail" makes the point that web mailto: links will not work for you since you have no default email client application setup. But now, if you're a Gmail user those links can be made functional using Google's Gmail Notifier software.

For more information read the PC Magazine article at:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2272505,00.asp

Gmail Notifier is available for Mac OS 10.4+ and Windows 2K/XP. I suspect it likely works with Vista. It is available at these 2 web sites:

http://toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper/notifier_windows.html

http://toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper/notifier_mac.html

If you don't have a Gmail account already, you can sign up for one here:

http://mail.google.com


DVRMSTOOLBOX

So you don't have MythTV. Instead you are using Windows MCE or Vista to capture your TV programs. Do you know there is free software that will process the DVR-MS file types and convert them to WMV and MPEG file types and "remove" the commercials? The software is called DVRMSToolBox and it can be found at this web site:

http://babgvant.com/

The web site describes the software thus:

What is DVRMSToolbox? DVRMSToolbox (DTb) is a set of tools that help you manipulate DVR-MS files created by Windows Media Center Edition 2005 (with Rollup 2 installed) or by Windows Vista Editions that contain the Media Center software. DTb consists of three main components: Profile Editor, FileWatcher, and the Commercial Skip Add-in. The first two will work with any version of Windows (XP or Vista), while the Add-in works in the Media Center GUI and, obviously, requires Media Center.

Profiles Profiles execute a series of Actions on a DVR-MS file, such as converting to MPEG, converting to WMV, or finding and cutting out commercials. You can use the default Profiles, or create your own. A Profile is executed by using the DTb GUI, the command-line, or by FileWatcher.

FileWatcher FileWatcher is an application that runs as either a Windows Service or background application. It monitors a specified directory, and when a new DVR-MS file is created in that directory, FileWatcher executes a Profile on that file if the file meets user-specified criteria. A set of criteria is called a Processing Condition, which can include the file name, show name, or any metadata.

Commercial Skip Add-in The Commercial Skip Addin allows you to skip commercials while you are watching a recorded show through the Media Center GUI. It can be configured to skip the commercials automatically or at the press of a button on the remote control. If it's not working properly read this before posting.

Processing Conditions Processing Conditions (PC) are meta tag criteria used to select a profile when running the application against a DVR-MS file. It is most useful to think about PC in the same way as a meta data based playlist.


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
April 12			April 16
May 10				May 14
June 14				June 18
EDITOR: Emil J. Volcheck, Jr. 1046 General Allen Lane West Chester, PA 19382-8030 ACTING EDITOR: John W. Deker, Jr. 2210 Lantern Lane Lafayette Hill, PA 19444-2211

Produced with PowerSpec 8922a: 2.6GHz Pentium 4, 3GB RAM, 640GB HD cap, Brother HL-5250DN laser printer, CD-RW/DVD±R/RW drives, Windows XP Home OS, MS Office XP, Ghostscript 8.54 & Bullzip PDF Printer software

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