Main Line Commodore User Group

Newsletter


January 2009 Issue 320

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 – JANUARY 10th

UPCOMING MEETING

MAIN MEETING TOPIC: IPTV WITH A MAC MINI

I hope all of you had a great and safe holiday. And I hope your health prospers thru the new year.

If you received any new technology or computer related “toys” during the Christmas season, I’m sure all of us would like to know a little something about what you got. So be prepared to talk a little bit about your new digital radio, HDTV, computer, or other tech gizmos. Tell us about both the good and the bad.

As always we’ll have our usual roundtable discussion of problems, issues, and announcements.

For our main presentation we will have a change of pace from the previous few months. I thought we would forego another session on Vista for something different and possibly timely given the forth coming transition in over-the-air television from analog to digital. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the state of IPTV as an alternative or adjunct to whatever TV source you currently use.

I for one dislike paying on an on-going basis for TV service I may not use regularly. The coming transition from analog to digital TV got me to thinking about my own personal TV viewing habits and spurred me to consider my options. Having heard about IPTV and knowing very little about it, I decided to investigate its viability as an alternative to standard TV.

So, for this month’s main meeting I will review my efforts to make IPTV the cornerstone for my TV viewing habits. I’ll discuss the hardware I selected and why, the software that I use, the quality of the video sources, and the sources I’ve discovered so far that entertain and inform me. Specifically, we’ll be taking a look at a Mac Mini, its hardware features and the software it can run.

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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.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & REMINDERS

1) If you are a member and did not attend the December 2008 meeting, then you likely missed out on getting one of the end of year club flash drives with embedded software as a Christmas gift. If so, and you would like one, contact John D to make arrangements to get yours.

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.

4) 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 page. Checks should be made payable to: MLCUG .

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LAST MONTH’S MEETING

Attendance: 12 people in all attended the meeting on Saturday, December 13th.

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 his foray into IPTV with a Mac Mini; Tom J was having problems with a “home brew” external USB hard drive; Ralph H has figured out how to easily link a cell in one spreadsheet to a cell in another spreadsheet; Don W has not been able to resolve the failure of SP1 (Don, take a look at this web page:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=B0C7136D-5EBB-413B-89C9-CB3D06D12674&displaylang=en )

to install on Vista (any suggestions from the rest of you would be appreciated) and was curious to know whether he should be concerned about the system loading meters in Vista’s sidebar; Marty C mentioned he had experienced a Windows Blue Screen of Death and wanted to know what guidelines he should use when responding to pop up requesters from Spybot; Layton, like last year, showed his home made Christmas cards; John M described his recent business trip to Denmark & Sweden and how he took his electronic gizmos with him including his use of a Kindle book reader and John showed his new MSI Netbook; Peter W discussed his GPS acquisition for his Nokia and the use of the Internet open street map; and Rich T gave us an update on his use of Verizon’s FiOS Beta DVR, his search for video conversion software, and mention of a few Adobe Reader crashes.

Main Meeting Program: For the main presentation the steering committee thought it appropriate to create and gift a milestone marker for 2008 in a somewhat similar fashion to last year. So we created a 2GB flash drive installed with software as a gift for each member. The software summarizes the club activities of the year and also provides a resource to what we hope is some useful software. Though the entire steering committee was involved in the initial conceptual package of the flash drive, it was John M who put the general concepts into execution. Thank you very much, John M, for your long hours and hard work!

Since John M was intimately familiar with content and organization of the flash drive, he also presented a review of it to the group.

NOTE: For any member who did not receive a copy of the flash drive, see the ANNOUNCEMENTS & REMINDERS, item #1, on page 2.

What follows is a description of the flash drive contents as taken from the DCoT About menu item…

About the MLCUG Xmas 2008 USB drive
===================================
This year we decided to update our traditional recordable-media give-away to some newer technology. We settled on a 2 GB USB thumb drive, mostly for financial reasons. As you might expect, USB drives are significantly more expensive than recordable CDs and DVDs.

We are using a menu system that was suggested by Al G. It was developed by the guy who runs the Daily Cup of Tech website. It is lightweight and easy to use. The files necessary to add it to your own USB drives are included on the thumb drive and you can look at our setup for inspiration.

What is on the USB drive?
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Portable Apps: The latest incarnation of portable versions of mostly open-source apps combined with a slick interface.

Goodies: Handbrake - a utility for ripping and/or converting video files between a myriad of formats. Available for Windows, Linux and Mac. We have included the Windows and Linux versions. This latest version has a lot of bug fixes and new features. One "feature" is the removal of the code to decode DVDs. Handbrake now relies on the libraries provided by VLC.

VLC - displays video recorded in myriad formats. Available for Windows, Linux and Mac. We did not include the Linux version on the drive because VLC seems to be packaged for individual distributions. Your best bet is to use the package manager on your distribution to grab a copy.

7-Zip - an archive and compression utility for Windows that got a nice writeup in the December 2008 issue of PC World. Handles a wide variety of compression formats in addition to ZIP, including many that are popular on Linux.

OpenOffice.org V3.0.0 - the latest and greatest from the OOo folks. A special request from Marty C.

Newsletters: The last 13 months of MLCUG newsletters in PDF format.

Audio: Meeting audio from the last 12 Monthly Meetings in higher-quality versions than we post on the web site (due to size constraints for downloads for some members).

DCoTMenu: USB Drive Menu System is from the owner of the Daily Cup of Tech website, hence the name, DCoT. There is a separate folder with all of the files for DCoTMenu in the original, downloaded state. You can find information on how to set-up and use DCoTMenu at:

http://www.dailycupoftech.com/usb-drive-menu-system/

This menu system has the nice feature of not needing to exit the program before you eject the USB drive from the computer. It monitors for the USB drive and shuts down cleanly when the drive is ejected.

IPConfig (cmd): A nifty use of a batch file through the menu system to display information about the networking setup on the computer that is running the menu system.

The Steering Committee would like to wish all of our members and their loved ones a Happy Holiday season!


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

     January 10			January 14
     February 14		February 18
     March  14			March 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