The Bug Report
THE BUG REPORT
A monthly publication of
GS-BUG Inc. (c) copyright 1996.
Reproduction of any material herein by any means is expressly prohibited unless written permission is granted. Exception: Articles may be reprinted by other users groups in unaltered form if credit is given to the author and the original publication.
Editor - Kay Burton
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
DID YOU KNOW
"HEY" FROM JOHN SULLIVAN.....
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
THE GOOGLE COOKIE:
AGENT OF EVIL!
By Dr. John Hanson
Topics for April
1. CD-R vs CD-RW
2. Magnets and Data
3. Paperport Software
4. Power Supply Testers
5. Using Priceline.com
6. Rebates at Frys
7. UPS Power Supplies
1. CD-R vs CD-RW: One of our nicest members just bought a Dr. Hanson
Special computer at Advanced. He opted for a CD-RW instead of the
regular CD and omitted one of the floppies.
He is happy and that is our goal. He paid $350. You are welcome to modify the Special in any way you want but there are risks if you don’t know what you are doing. I think he should have gotten the Special as specified and then bought a separate CD-R, which is less expensive than a CD-RW, and installed it at the Hardware Sig. Most savvy people don’t have any use for a rewritable as the media is more expensive and the benefits limited. But CD-R is hard to find these days as vendors make more money selling CD-RW. If you want to spend more money on your computer you could opt for more RAM memory or a faster CPU. Look to see where the steep increase occurs and stay below that speed for the most bang for your buck. Of course, if you are getting a computer for your kids to play very fast games you should look for a more expensive computer with an expensive VGA card. Most regular games work fine with this value computer.
2. Magnets and Data: A number of us members are born inventors and experimenters so we love trying new things and even taking brand new things apart to see how they are made. I was wondering if a floppy disk that has bad sectors or won’t format can be rejuvenated even tho they are only about 5 cents these days. I thought that passing them near a strong demagnetizer might work so Jack Burton brought in his tape reel demagnetizer. It didn’t have any effect. The same bad sectors were there when you ran Scandisk. I have never had much faith in Scandisk as even when you have a floppy with lots of bad sec- tors it reports that no problems were found. I need to look for an old copy of Norton’s Disk Doctor. We decided to try another experiment by degaussing a known good floppy with data. Amazingly the floppy didn’t seem to suffer at all. How strange? We asked the top dog, Dr. Emmett Ingram, in electronics theory why and he was puzzled also. We did get one to be damaged but in general they were quite immune. When I have taken a floppy apart I never did see any anti-magnetic shield. I welcome comments from other ex- perts.
In spite of these experiments I think it still is a good idea to keep magnetic materials away from your floppies and flash memory cards. Why take a chance on valuable data?
3. Paperport Software: For years the major computer magazines reported that Paperport was the best for scanning but once I bought it I was quite disappointed for a number of reasons. The early versions hid your files in their program so you couldn’t find them with Photoshop. Later, in another version, you could find them in a directory but they put them in a file system, called .Max, that other programs can’t read so you have to export each file. Then it has a weird way of displaying them as thumb- nails by placing them helter skelter in a window with sometimes many blank spaces in between. What scanner software do you like best?
4. Power Supply Testers: Four club members have built Power Supply Testers. Jack Burton’s looks the best and can apply quite heavy loads but would be too expensive to sell. Rich Bulow has made a small one reasonable enough to sell. It looks good and is easy to use. Since many members use their computers for valuable work it is prudent to have a spare power supply on hand. A 400 watt ATX power supply can be found for as low as $12 at computer shows but how do you know it is good. Test it because there is at least one vendor at the TRW Swap Meet that sells bad ones, and even those made by “Deer” which are known to fail frequently. Are more expensive one really any better? If you buy a spare bring it to the Hardware Sig and have it tested.
Emmett Ingram is building a very fancy one but it is big and heavy and is probably overkill for most people. Mine works and will test AT as well as ATX but is not very portable like the ones from Burton and Bulow. My load gets red hot which really impresses students with the power available but would be dangerous for the general public.
5. Using Priceline.com: Smart Computing Magazine has a great article on how to use Priceline.com efficiently so you can get a good deal on hotels, rental cars and air fares, etc.
6. Rebates at Frys: You can get some very good deals at Frys if you watch for their sales but you need to be very careful as they have many traps for the unwary buyer. The first thing you might notice is that they purposely print the price tags very faintly so you can barely make out the price. I like to take a black magic marker pen with me and write down the price in an inconspicuous place to check with the cash register price. It is a good idea to do this at other stores too as computers make it very easy for any store to cheat customers. Many so called bargains come with a mail in rebate hook. Before you give the salesman your credit card or he rings you up ask for the rebate form in advance and read how short the time limit is and any other conditions that might make it difficult to get your rebate. If you let him ring you up first and then he can’t find the rebate form you can’t refuse to buy but must go ahead and then take it to the refund line which can be another hassle. He may even offer to fax or mail you the rebate form but don’t count on it. Some time limits are only a few days so any delay wipes out the rebate. Another benefit to the vendor of using rebates is that many require an original receipt so make them ring up each item separately. Still another benefit to them is that many rebates require the original UPC code to be cut off the box and sent in but if you do cut it out then you can’t return the item if you are not satisfied. Make sure you have a long enough time limit, test the machine quickly and then cut off the UPC code. This is probably the worst hook for us customers as it guarantees you won’t bring the item back.
7. UPS Power Supplies: You see them advertised everywhere, and some really quite useless, even if they did work. You plug your computer and monitor into it and in the event of a power failure you supposedly have 5 to 15 minutes to shut down your computer providing you are right there when it happens. In theory it sounds like a great idea and you never know if it will work when needed unless you test it. So you should probably test it before you connect it to your computer using a few hundred watt light bulbs and see how long they stay lit. Most use Gel cell lead acid batteries which only have a standby life of about three years and are miserable to replace. APC company is one of the largest advertisers and their units do look impressive on the outside but when you take one apart you can see that while the electronic circuits look very complex the mechanical design is not very good. I have given up on APC and now buy SOLA which looks much better inside and I run wires out for an external battery and also for monitoring the voltage. If you are skilled with tools you can get some fairly high power ones very cheaply at the swap meet and replace the battery yourself. I will never buy a new one again. Beware of low priced ones also because they may only give you a minute or two if they work at all.
Editor’s Note: John Hanson is the inventor
of Tooties, a superb self-teaching system used by millions
in schools, homes, and by eye doctors around the world to improve
vision. He also invented a new form of psychology called
QET (Quick Effective Therapy) which transforms poor students
into good students, almost overnight, usually in 5 to
15 days. He has also had outstanding success
in helping brain damaged people, even years after their accident.
Why go to therapy for years and spend lots of money when
you can improve quite fast with QET? He uses computers to document
his cases for his books so that others may benefit and improve
their vision and other skills. Visit his web site
for more information
By Frank Chao
Welcome to the this 56th article in the “Internet Talk” series. It is part of the thirteenth newsletter with Kay Burton as editor. Spring has sprung and Liz and I hope that you are enjoying it as much as your computer.
One of Liz Orban’s co-workers was able to get his new Earthlink DSL connection operational in one evening, using a self-installation kit that was provided by Earthlink.
You can learn about Earthlink DSL at https://register.earthlink.net/cgi-bin/wsisa.dll/broadband/main.html
Some of you will remember that it took Liz and me two visits and two calls to SBC (formerly Pacific Bell) tech support in order to install a DSL connection for a friend of ours, last year. My statistically insignificant conclusion is that Earthlink DSL is easier to self-install than SBC DSL.
If you do a self-install with either of these Internet Service Providers, let me know your opinions and I will relay your experiences in future articles.
NETSCAPE AS A FIX
During the past four weeks, I ran into two computers for which Microsoft Internet Explorer was inoperative. In both cases, when Internet Explorer was started up, it showed a blank white window and that is all it showed.
In both cases, I ran “FTP” and “telnet” to prove to myself that the computer had a good connection to the Internet. In both cases, I tried to re-load Internet Explorer onto the computer, since this is the procedure that Microsoft recommends when Internet Explorer fails. In both cases, Internet Explorer continued to fail after I reloaded it. At this point, the only solution that usually works is to back up the data files to external media, format the hard drive of the computer, reload Windows (including Internet Explorer), reload all applications, and restore all of the data files. In both cases, I and the computer owner both lacked the moral fiber and fortitude to go through with so much effort.
Finally, in both cases, I located a copy of “Netscape” and loaded it into the computer and Netscape worked fine for browsing the Internet.
The moral of this long story is: If Internet Explorer fails, load “Netscape” into your computer and use it instead.
SHARING A DSL OR CABLE MODEM CONNECTION
When you set up a DSL or cable modem connection to the Internet, most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are only willing to connect a single computer to the Internet for you. If you then want to connect more than one computer to the Internet, you have various options:
You can set up each computer in accordance with the ISP’s instructions as if each computer is the only computer that you have. In this case, you will only be able to connect one computer to the Internet at a time.
You can add a second network adapter to the first computer and use it to connect to either the network adapter of a second computer or to a Ethernet hub device. Then you will have to set up Microsoft’s Internet Connection Sharing on all computers.
For information on Internet Connection Sharing for Windows XP, go to
For information on Internet Connection Sharing for other versions of Windows, go to
http://www.microsoft.com and perform a search on the phrase Internet Connection Sharing
You can order a separate phone line and corresponding DSL or cable modem for each computer. This is the most expensive solution, over the long run.
You can disconnect the first computer and connect a gateway or router device to the DSL or cable modem. Then connect the first computer and all other computers to the DSL or cable modem. Then follow the instructions that are provided by the gateway or router device manufacturer to configure the device so that it acts like it was the first computer that you connected to the Internet.
OPTION 4 DETAILS
The use of a gateway or router device provides your DSL or cable modem-connected computer(s) with the greatest amount of security from hackers. In order to allow sharing of an Internet connection, your gateway or router device has to be able to do “Network Address Translation”. Liz and I have had great success with “wired” gateway devices from Linksys and D-Link. Here is a bit more detail on this option for sharing a fast Internet connection:
1) Using a single computer (“Computer A”), follow the Internet Service Providers instructions (as provided in the self-installation kit) in order to connect it to the Internet.
2) After you are sure that you have a solid Internet connection for “Computer A”, disconnect it from the cable or DSL modem.
3) Connect the “WAN” (“Wide Area Network”) side of the gateway device to cable or DSL connection.
4) Connect the network adapter of “Computer A” to the “LAN” (“Local Area Network”) side of the gateway device.
5) Follow the instructions for the gateway device to configure it to act like “Computer A” when “Computer A” was the only computer that was connected to the DSL or cable modem.
6) Connect the additional computers to the LAN side of the gateway device.
WAYS TO CONTACT ME:
If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by the following methods:
1. Send me e-mail at: email@example.com
2. Leave me a voice message at
3. Send “snail” U.S. Postal Service mail to:
PO Box 6930
Torrance, CA 90504-0030.
Or sell your computer and take up fishing instead !!
Starting March 31, Californians can pre-register their home and cellular
phone numbers on the national do-not-call list to block unwanted telemarketing
phone calls. California will become part of the Federal Trade Commission's
national list, which is set to begin July 1. Telemarketers
must purchase the lists by Sept. 1, and consumers should start to see a
dramatic decrease in unwanted calls by Oct. 1. To pre-register for
the national do-not-call list, visit the state attorney general's Website
|SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
By BOB HUDAK
I do not know where the time went this month. I really do not have
anything new in the way of programs this month to tell you about. I spent
a number of hours working on the clubcomputer trying to figure out what
was wrong with the 3 1/2" floppy drive. It was writing corrupted files
to disks. Not all files. Just some. Small files seem to work OK most of
the time. I pulled out a 5 1/4" drive and hung it on a cable outside of
the case because there is not a slot for it in the case. Everything worked
perfectly. I then tried a couple of different 3 1/2" drives. No luck. Tried
the drives on two other machines using the same file that I could not make
a copy of and everything worked OK. I used a CD to move the file to the
other machines. I tried a new cable. No luck. I took the old cable and
tried it in another machine. Worked OK. I think the interface on the motherboard
has quit on us. I had to walk away from the problem for a while.
I’m looking for a I/O card that I can plug in and try running the floppy
from. I helped three people order, pickup and setup new computers. A club
member. A friend and one of my sons. We went to Dr.Hanson’s recommended
store on Western Ave., Advanced Computer & Networking Tech..
All three were the AMD XP Business Machine package with the AMD XP-1900+
cpu. The first was purchased by a Bug member. Picked it up, took it home,
plugged it in and nothing. Dead on arrival. He brought it in to the hardware
sig the next day. We looked at it quickly and seeing nothing wrong except
it did not even post. Back to the store. New mother board made everything
work OK. Do not know if they even started the machine up to see if
it is working or not. They say they did. ??? Second machine was for my
friend. Everything was OK except for some operator problems. Had
to show him a few things. The system comes with a PS2 Optical mouse which
my friend did not receive. Said he would go back and straighten that little
problem out. I noticed in all three cases you need to check very carefully
what they give you. I picked up my son’s machine and asked
if the tech had put in the DDR memory that they said would be used in the
machine. “Of course I put it in.” I asked to have the CD burner put on
the secondary port as a master drive. “Of course I installed it that way.”
I took it home and unpacked it. Took the cover off. What do you know. No
DDR memory. Had the CD connected to the secondary port, though. This is
the best way to connect the CD burner. You get a extra cable this way and
also you are checking the secondary port. I called and they said
to check if everything else was working and then bring in the memory for
exchange. All went well. You need to check everything over that you get
from this outfit. I checked the system over using a number of utilities
from the library. CD Info Tool to check what the CDRW is all about. CD
Speed to check the CDRW for transfer speed and CPU utilization. Also checks
if any errors occur when ripping music CDs. Advisor checked the whole system
over. I also ran CPUID which checks what cpu is in the system and how fast
it is running. Also ran Key Finder. This little program which can be run
from the floppy, tells you what the Product Key number is. This is the
number you need to install Windows. The store installs Windows
from their shop CD even if you are buying a copy. That is why the number
of the installed version is different than the Product Key number on your
CD. This program works with all Windows versions from 95 onwards.
Also will work on Office 97 and Office XP. If you lost your Product Key
this is a quick way of finding it and then store it in a safe place off
the computer. If you would like any of these programs, I have them in the
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
I'll never forget my feelings after buying 4 disks of public domain
software at my first OKOK meeting along time ago. Two were utilities and
two were MBASIC programs.
I rushed home to put the first of the utilities in my then two weeks old 0-1, my first computer. Nothing happened! The disk wouldn't "work."
It was the same thing with the next utility disk. I couln't understand it; excitement turned to puzzlement and then to frustration. What no one had told me at the meeting (or if they had, I was too ignorant to know what they meant) was that public domain disks do not come with CP/M system tracks onto the disk, without which they will not boot up.
My luck was no better with the MBASIC programs either. (They don't need the CP/M tracks, although it never hurts to add them).
I did know enough to put my Osbourne's MBASIC in A:, my new disk in B:, and load MBASIC and then I was supposed to type LOAD and the name (in quotes) of any of the BASIC programs on the disk.
But...I hadn't read my Osbourne manual closely enough to realize that the correct formula was LOAD "B:"and then the file name. It was the absence of that double quote which must be inserted BEFORE THE B: and the file name that was making MBASIC unhappy and me frustrated. (It still makes no sense to me that MBASIC requires "B:Filename" instead of B: filename. But that's the rule.)
So, my first experience with public domain disks was maddening because of my own lack of knowledge. I hope no new members have similar woes.
[Reproduced from the OKOK newsletter, March 1988. by Tom McEnroe. Contributed by Carl Warner.]
DID YOU KNOW
In February, Dell followed in the footsteps
of the Apple iMac and announced that it would no longer include 3.5-in.
floppy drives as standard equipment on its desktop PCs, pounding another
nail in the floppy disk’s quickly forming coffin. While the slow death
of the floppy disk may be cause for despair among more nostalgic computer
professionals, the 3.5-in. disk’s demise comes as little surprise when
one considers that the technology behind it is more than two decades old.
Sony introduced the 3.5-in. floppy in 1980 as a refinement over the previous 5.25-in. floppy disks, which them selves had been on the market since 1976. The so-called “five and a quarter” disks were a remarkable achievement for their time and a significant improvement over the competing (and largely forgotten) 8-in. floppy disks that also appeared during the 1970s.
The 5.25-in. floppy disk was developed by a small startup organization headed by a nonconformist technology pioneer straight out of Silicon Valley mythology. This legendary memory-maker held positions at IBM, Memorex, and founded what would become Seagate, while also spending portions of his career as a bar owner and commercial fisherman. This maverick’s most notorious moment of eccentricity came relatively late in his stunning career. Fed up with the apparent lack of action and conviction among members of the U.S. House of Representatives, this tech-titan promoted his dog as a write-in candidate for Congress in 1996.
The tech guru in question is none other than Al Shugart, cofounder of Shugart Technology, which later became Seagate Technology. Shugart’s Bernese mountain dog, Ernest, was the canine candidate; he, not surprisingly, failed to capture the Congressional seat, largely because the Federal Election Commission revoked his previously approved candidacy when it realized Ernest wasn’t human. (How Ernest became a viable candidate without a Social Security Number is another matter entirely.)
The Friends of Ernest (FOE) campaign has since transformed into an approved and registered citizen watchdog group (pun very much intended). Shugart himself has since left Seagate Technology and has formed his own consultancy, Al Shugart International. However, Shugart’s adventures with Ernest didn’t completely exorcise his political dissatisfaction.
In 2001, Shugart ran another unconventional campaign for his local California Congressional seat. This time Shugart himself was the candidate. However, Shugart refused to join a political party, instead running as a write-in candidate in the same fashion as Ernest, and spending a miniscule, self-financed campaign budget that extended to little more than bumper stickers and yard signs. Not surprisingly, Shugart’s electoral ambitions met with the same fate as Ernest’s—defeat—but it makes for great Geek Trivia.
THE GOOGLE COOKIE:
AGENT OF EVIL!
When you visit Google, a “cookie” is stored on your hard disk.
Contrary to what you may have heard, there is nothing intrinsically evil
about cookies. A cookie is just a string of text stored in a file
on your computer. It’s not software — so it can’t snoop around
in your files or send salacious photos of Nina Tottenberg to everyone
in your address book.
Cookies are most often used to make your web surfing more personal and convenient by remembering your preferences from one visit to the next. This can enable a website to serve up customized content based on your preferences, keep track of items in a shopping cart, or remember a login and password. Cookies can only be read back later by the site that created them, so you needn’t worry about Website "B" peeking at the cookie that Website "A" created.
The Google cookie remembers your Google preferences, and contains an identifier that is unique to your computer. Daniel Brandt, founder of a group called Public Information Research thinks this is a Really Bad Thing. Brandt claims that the unique ID in the Google cookie, alongwith a user’s IP address, could personally associate a specific individual with a stored list of Google searches. Why would Google want to do such a thing? According to Brandt:
Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency. Google wants to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington.
So the mere fact that Google hired a former government employee makes them guilty of planning to sell their database of who-searches-for-what to “Washington spooks”? Sorry, but I fail to see the logic there.
Never mind that Google doesn’t know your name or email address. And never mind that there is nothing personally identifying in an IP address. It’s just a number your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to your computer when you go online, so other computers on the Internet can communicate with yours. In most cases, the IP address is different each time you connect. Some service providers assign a static (non-changing) IP address to customers, but even so, only the ISP knows the identity of the user with that address.
SNEAK AND PEEK
So how will Google connect anonymous lists of “Some user with this IP address searched for X, Y and Z” with actual names of the searchers? Okay, they can’t. But Mr. Brandt sees another way for Spooks Incorporated to get the lowdown on you.
Authorities can do a “sneak and peek” search of a Google user’s hard drive when he isn’t home, retrieve a Google cookie ID, and then get a keyword search history from you for this ID. Yup, they just break into your house, grab your cookies, and make aquick phone call to the friendly folks at Google...
CIA GUY: “Hi, this is Schmulder. How’s the wife & kids? Hey, I’m inside this guy’s house in Duluth. We think maybe he’s up to something.”
GOOGLE : “Hey, we’re here to help. Just gimme the ID from his cookie and we’ll see if he’s naughty or nice.”
CIA GUY: “Alrighty, let’s see... (tappity tappity click tap) here it is. 3-FOX-952-CHARLIE-7301-BAKER-49"
GOOGLE : Just a minute, here we go. Looks like he’s been searching for a Chicken Lorraine recipe. Might have bought tickets to see Springsteen. Not much else here, sorry.”
Sound likely to you? I’m not saying the things that trouble Mr. Brandt’s sleep are impossible. But they do seem rather improbable. There is one comment on his website that DOES trouble me, though. Brandt says:
Google is so important to the web these days, that it probably ought to be a public utility. So putting Google under the control of the government will HELP to keep the spooks away from your search history??? Hmmmm. If you’d like to read more from Daniel Brandt and his concerns about Google, check out his Google Watch website:
By Patrick Rankin and Douglas Crispin, From the Internet TourBus
Subscribe, Signoff, Archives, Free Stuff and More at the Tourbus Website
Microsoft Press ~ All User Group Members are entitled to 20% off all Microsoft Press books. To receive your discount, place your orders by calling 1 800 MS PRESS. Give them the code “MCPC” to identify yourself as a User Group Member and receive 20% off!
Free Anti-Virus Software ~ I normally recommend the Norton or PC-cillian
anti-virus suites but I’m fully aware that some folks simply can’t afford
to buy them. If you fall into this category then you should check
out AVG Anti-virus 6.0 Free Edition. This product has been continuously
refined since it was first released in 1991 and now offers very impressive
protection capabilities. Additionally, it’s relatively small,
light on resources, has regular automatic updates and handles email scanning.
There is a free and a pro version, the only difference being that the free
version has a few noncritical features disabled and has no technical support.
Even so, it’s an impressive package and offers the financially challenged a real alternative to the major anti-virus suites (5mb).
Go to: http://www.grisoft. com
Shred Sensitive Data ~ FileShredder is a freeware utility that will
permanently delete Windows files so that they cannot be recovered.
As a security measure, FileShredder will overwrite the disk sectors containing
the original file with random data repeatedly up to 15 times.
Usage is by drop and drag or right-click menu selection from Windows Explorer. This is an easy to use utility for those requiring normal levels of security but note that there may still be a chance that your valuable data is lurking on your computer as a temporary file or in a system cache. It all depends on your level of paranoia. That said, this utility provides way better protection than Windows Delete. (1MB) Go to: http://www.handybits.com/shredder.htm
Pop Your Top ~ Pop-up ads making you crazy everytime you surf the
net? Try Stopzilla, the ultimate Pop-Up Blocker! It’s earned the highest
rating at the Tucows site and right now you can download a free 15 day
trial version to see how you like it. The full version can be purchased
for $29.95. If you decide you just can’t surf without it go to :
by Susan Eaton
"HEY" FROM JOHN SULLIVAN.....
Please pass on to our members that if they need computer help in
between meetings, they can go to the new online help group which was started
by the ComputerShow guys at radio statiion KABC.
Go to Yahoo.com, then select "groups" from the list near the top of the page in the Search page that pops up, type in "kabc" (no quotes). You will get a list of kabc online groups, the first one should be the computer show one. Or you can try: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KABC-ComputerShow/messages
Visitors to the group can read the messages, but in order to Post (send) one, you have to login. You can use your current Yahoo email name and password if you have one, or sign up for a new one...free. If you don't want to give out your personal information, just make something up!
You can select whether to get answers to your questions in email or online in the group...I choose to get answers in the Group, so that I don't have to weed thru any spam in the email box...just ignore it!
Marc and Mark from the ComputerShow monitor the questions in the Group when they are on the air (Saturday from 9-11 am), and will answer some questions on air. But other people (like me) hang around the Group all week and try to answer the questions that Marc and Mark can't get to.......see you there.