The Bug Report
The only Bug that's good for your computer!
A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group
Volume 19 Number 6
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
Digital CD Recording Hints
More Audio Stuff
More on VBS Viruses
Home Office: The E-Mail Rules--Manage
Steve Bass reveals how to catch his eye with a comely e-mail message.
by Steve Bass, Contributing Editor, PC World. Copyright 2001, PC World, reprinted with permission.
Like getting e-mail? Cool, I'll forward you some of mine. Be careful what you ask for, though. I send roughly 22,000 e-mail messages a year and receive more than twice that amount. How do I know? Eudora, my e-mail client of choice, tracks all my e-mail use, reporting, for example, that about 3500 of the messages I received last year had attachments, of which I read only about 60 percent.
I have e-mail secrets: tips to make it easier to read, and pointers for handling attachments. They're yours--and if you e-mail me, please promise to use them.
E-Mail That's Read All Over
Unless you're vacationing on a desert island, your time is tight. So is mine. If you send me a long message and I don't know you, I probably won't read it--especially if it has an attachment. Lengthy messages from friends I read when I have the time. (Okay, so I scan them. Sue me.)
My point? If you want your messages read, consider your recipient. That's what these rules are all about.
Think short: Limit the message to three paragraphs, tops, each with no more than four sentences. If you must include more, introduce points with short previews--for instance, "Deadline? Did I miss it?"
Stay plain, Jane: Avoid the fancy formatting, flowery backgrounds, and gaudy colors that new versions of e-mail software allow. Many people still use e-mail programs that support plain text only. Also, what's cool on your monitor may look like hell on mine. And geez! That extra coding increases download time when my notebook's using a 56-kbps dial-up account.
One person, please: If you're sending an e-mail to a large group of people, hide the recipient list to keep the file size down. It's all right to use your e-mail app's carbon copy (cc) feature if you need to let everyone know who else is getting the message, but otherwise use the blind copy (bcc) feature. Address the message to yourself (or leave the "To:" field blank, if your software allows it) and bcc everyone else.
In Outlook Express, select View and check All Headers. In Outlook, choose View and check Bcc Field. In Netscape 6, click the To field and scroll to Bcc. Eudora's the easiest--just fill in the "bcc" field.
Clean it up: Forwarded messages are usually overloaded with annoying angle brackets (>), extra spaces and carriage returns, and uneven word wrapping. That's one reason why I don't read them, and you shouldn't be surprised if the messages you forward aren't read either.
You can scour the e-mail you forward to get rid of the gobbledygook. All it takes is a quick cut and paste into The ECleaner freeware utility that's available at our Downloads library. (http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,6492,00.asp) The ECleaner can be accessed from Outlook 2000's Toolbar; I keep it on my Windows 98 Quick Launch Toolbar.
In order to use ECleaner on your Outlook 2000 toolbar, you=ll need download their add-in. It=s located at:
Unfortunately, The ECleaner doesn't remove the e-mail headers in the original message, so you need to delete them manually before forwarding. (AOL users have to work harder. AOL doesn't show you the forwarded message's sloppy formatting, so copy the message into a text editor, clean it up, and paste it into a new AOL e-mail.)
Every e-mail I send or receive that has a file attachment carries built-in risks. Viruses and Trojan horses are the most obvious, but file size is another. I found this out after I accidentally tied up an editor's $2-per-minute dial-up account--for 40 minutes--with a huge attachment. (Not smart.)
Unless you know the person, don't attach anything--images, programs, or Internet movies--to an e-mail. If you must, and if the file's larger than 100KB, be sure you get the recipient's permission first.
You can save yourself grief by setting your e-mail program not to accept attachments over a specific size. And always play it safe--before opening a file, save it to a convenient folder and scan it for viruses. There's no space to do so here, but I'll provide step-by-step details for these filtering and scanning procedures in my May online newsletter at: http://www.pcworld.com/resource/newsletters/index/0,sub_source,PCW_XD,00.asp.
BinHexed? Thanks, No.
Occasionally I receive e-mail with an attachment that looks like it's been sprinkled with sawdust, but it has probably only been UUencoded, MIME'd, or (cover your ears) BinHexed, rendering it seemingly indecipherable. OnTrack's free PowerDesk Windows Explorer replacement can make those messages intelligible. Find it at our Downloads library.
Don't touch that dial! In June=s PC World, I'll tell you all about filters that manage your incoming e-mail and eradicate spam.
Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World and runs the Pasadena IBM Users Group. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check PCW's current edition at:
www.pcworld.com/resource/toc/index.asp and sign up for the Steve Bass online newsletter at:
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
by BOB HUDAK
Based on our experience in the Audio SIG, I put together a number of programs that we tried out, and combined them on a CD ROM.Originaly it was put together for the Audio SIG, but then I thought that there might be a number of members that might also be interested in this collection. If you are interested in a copy, order one by e-mail, the cost is $5.00. The programs on it are the following:
1.A video that explains on how audio works, and goes into what the different buzz words mean.
2.CoolEdit 2000. Used to edit audio files for sound levels, clean up pops and hiss, and for trimming silence from the beginning or end of a file. It can also can be used to record.
3.Depopper. Another program for cleaning up audio files.
4. AudioGrabber. One of the best ripping programs.
5.WinAmp. For playing your music. This is a great program that will play MP3, WAV or CDA music. Audio Stocker & DSP_Rocksteady are plugin programs for WinAmp that auto adjust volume of songs that you are playing from your play list, so they all play at about the same loudness. Advanced Crossfading, is another WinAmp plugin that allows you to fade out of one song and fade into the next without having any break between them. This is great for having the music play continuous as if it were one big song.
6. Total Recorder. A program that can capture any songs played on computer. Like streaming audio for the web or playing a DVD.
7. MP3CD and CDR38C are a couple of CD burning programs.
If I find any other programs along this line I will add them to the CD. Looking at the list of programs, there seems to be a number of programs that do the same thing. This is true but different programs give different results with different hardware; I hope you followed that. Just because one program works great for me it might not work for you because you have a different CD burner and there may be a compatibility problem. Different burning programs deal with making lists of songs, for use as a label, in different ways. I use three different programs to come up with the results that I am happy with. Of course, this is not a must.
Web page: http://BobHudak.tripod.com
by Vernon Lym
! HELP !
Assistant Newsletter Editor Needed
In the foreseeable future, your editor will be spending considerable time out of the area and will not always be available to produce the newsletters on a timely basis. As a consequence, an assistant editor will be needed to fill in as required.
If you would like to help out in this capacity please contact:
President G. Sextonat:
E-Mail - email@example.com
or Vernon Lym. Editor at:
E-Mail - vwlym@ aol.com
by Frank Chao
Allow me to extend to you a warm welcome to the 34th article in the AInternet Talk@ series. Liz and I have been "meeting challenged" for the past eight months so we greatly appreciate the e-mail messages that some of you have been sending us. Your messages have helped us stay in touch with the activities of this great computer user group.
"FUEL ME UP" WEB SITE
A member of the Los Angeles Computer Society suggests that you can find the cheapest places to buy gas by doing a search at: http://fuelmeup.com/
TORRANCE GUIDE FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
If you live in or near Torrance, California, U.S.A. , Liz recommends that you download the following guide to senior living in Torrance http://www.help4srs.org/guides/torrguide/torranceguide.htm
The higher-level pages at this Web site at http://www.help4srs.org/ contain useful information for anyone that has anything to do with being or caring for a senior citizen, not just for the folks who live near Torrance.
"TIME AND DATE" WEB SITE
In order to determine the local time anywhere in the world, see http://www.timeanddate.com
This Web site contains a guide to time zones, calendars, lunar cycles, and can make many calculations for you. You can also determine the number of days between any two dates.
Also, you can view and/or print calendars for any year in the past and in the future.
SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE @ HOME
You can download a free computer program from http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/
Then you can participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by having your computer analyze radio telescope data. For a explanation of this pioneering scientific project, start by browsing through the information at http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/learnmore.html
COMPUTER TEACHING/LEARNING AT EL CAMINO COLLEGE
I just concluded the teaching of two computer classes at El Camino College. I will not be teaching classes during the summer (Liz threatened me with dire consequences), so I am class-less until the middle of August. At that time I will teach two "Computer Information Systems 13--Introduction to Computers" classes, for the duration of the Fall semester. Let me know if you would like to participate in the educational process, as either a teaching assistant or a student. Also, detailed information about this course will be published on my two main Web pages at: http://www.elcamino.cc.ca.us/Faculty/fchao/ and http://fchao.tripod.com in about a week.
SENDING E-MAIL TO A PAGER OR CELLULAR PHONE
Many pagers and cellular phones now have e-mail addresses that are associated with them. In other words, people can send e-mail messages that can be read on the alphanumeric screens of a pager or cellular phone. My friend and colleague Marc set up a forwarding rule in his Yahoo mail account. Whenever he receives an e-mail messages at his e-mail account at Yahoo, it is automatically forwarded to his Nextel cellular phone.
I tried the same concept with my Los Angeles Free-Net e-mail about 4 years ago. Every e-mail message that I received ( at firstname.lastname@example.org ) also was forwarded to my Skytel pager.
Like all creative uses of technology, there are pros and cons for such a setup. On the pro side, you can keep track of your e-mail without having to use a computer. On the con side, you can end up with a pager that massively exceeds the message limits that are imposed by your pagers or cellular provider. When you exceed these limits, these providers usually add all sorts of extra charges onto your monthly billing statement.
FREE DIAL-UP INTERNET ACCESS
Netzero, Bluelight, and Juno continue to be the only free Internet services that are available in the South Bay area of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. CD-ROMs for installing these services are available as follows:
CD-ROMS for Bluelight are occasionally available in K-Mart stores at the checkout counters.
CD-ROMS for Netzero can be ordered for about $12 at http://www.netzero.net/contact_us/ordering.html
CD-ROMS for Juno Web are occasionally available at computer trade shows and swap meets. The "Juno Version 4" CD-ROM lets you choose between the free and "not free" versions of Internet access. All of the "Juno Version 5" CD-ROMs that I have looked at only install their "not free" Internet service so be careful about what you agree to when you install Juno. It might be a good idea to install Juno from the downloaded installation file at http://dl.www.juno.com/get/ to make sure that you get the free version of Juno. (At this page, click on the "Free Internet Access, click here" button. NOT the "Premium Internet Access, click here" button.
Members and friends of the GSBUG can purchase the software for all three of the free Internet Service Provides from Bob Hudak, the club librarian.
In order to get up and running with totally free Internet access, you can always use any existing Internet access that you have to download the installation files for the three free Internet services. Your mission is to use a little strategy to get out of a circuitous chicken-and-egg dilemma !!
by Bob Hudak
The Audio sig will not be meeting on a regular basis any more. We had a great time learning how to do a great number of things related to making a custom CD. Some of the members are making outstanding custom CD's, recording 50 to 70 year old songs from old vinyl records into a digital format, cleaning them up sound wise and printing fabulous labels for the finished CD's.
We have a lot of learning to put into practice, that is why I am stopping the sig for now. After everyone has gone through working out the best way to do the custom recording on their equipment, we might have a few more SIG meetings to share what we have learned. I'll leave you with a few tips:
1. Buy the best and cry only once.
2. Look for words like Plextor drive, Burn Proof Technology, sub-channels and speed. Speed is always nice but not all that important unless you are going to be burning everyday for several hours, otherwise a extra 5 minutes does not mean to much.
3. Pay attention to software requirements as well as hardware. Some of the new burning programs are looking for a 233 Mhz processor as a minimum. That, to me, means that you need more than that if you are going to work without any problems.
4. Use Google to search out products you are interested in and find out what the specs are before shopping for the best price.
5. Call me if you think I can answer a question for you.
6. Come to the daytime Hardware Sig on Wednesday at the Torrance Scout Center and talk with Carl or Rich about hardware questions.
by John Sellers
Considering a Major System Upgrade?
If you're in "need" of more system performance, doing a major system upgrade (basically, replacing the motherboard and CPU) is the next best thing to buying a new system. Ed Leckliter, long time GSBUG member and Hardware SIG leader at the Orange Coast IBM PC Users Group (OCIPUG), will be making a presentation at the club's July General Meeting on July 2. The presenation will help you understand what's involved in doing such an "upgrade" and whether it might be right for you.
Specifically, the presentation will address:
Definition of terms and generally developing an understanding of what's involved,
The many choices to be made,
Whether it is likely to make a difference,
Considerations beyond the motherboard and CPU,
How to prepare.
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by Stan Ranson
[Editors note: This is a follow on piece for a previous article on ADART 32 Digital Recording Studio II@.]
I have been recording many 78 rpm records and in so doing have come across some problems and solutions from either my experiments or information from Dart's Technical Help.
My 78 player started to give me problems as I was recording to cassette and then inputting into the computer. A serious power hum developed, and I couldn't get rid of it; however, I remembered reading in the manual somewhere that there was a method of recording those obsolete platters on an LP turntable so I found the section and experimented. Using a 33 1/3 speed you record at 22050 Hz and 16 bit, and after recording, click on Toolbox and select "Adjust Sample Rate." This gives a screen where the default is 44100, but scroll down to "Other" and enter 51598. The conversion is immediate. Then go back to Toolbox and select "Resample" and process using the 44100 default. Lo and behold, the recording is at the right speed. The formula is 78 divided by 33.333 and multiplied by 22050, giving 51598. It requires some time to go through this exercise: 7.5 minutes to record one side of a 78 (3 minutes play time), about 1.5 minutes to convert to 44100. At this stage the recording will be accepted by Dart's CD4 recording Studio or Adaptec's CD Creator. However, if you decide to restore by using DeHiss, DeNoise or DeClick, the final version will not be acceptable CD quality by either program. Note: DeClick works best if the sampling is done in the reverse mode as the click is sloped with the l ow end first and then a ski slope up to the high end. In reverse the detection is toward a larger part of the click and therefore more easily removed. Dart's CD Recorder 4 allows you to load the recording into a playlist and then convert all the recordings to CD quality level and thus complete the operation. Adaptec's CD Creator does not have this conversion so you have to pass the recording through a "Resample" from the toolbox and, unfortunately, I found this eliminates the restoration and reverted the recording back to "bacon frying." I did not come up with any solution so did all my transfers to CD using Dart's program, which worked out fine.
Another fly in the ointment developed because I like the Jewel Box Inserts that Adaptec has and think Dart ought to enhance its to the same level. Therefore, to use the Adaptec wizard and load up all the recordings and thereby produce the insert I had to go back and "Resample" all of them so Adaptec would accept them. All this sounds like a massive runaround but it was all worth it in the end as I now have 188 sides recorded on CD that sound outstanding and have only 56 more to go. Let's put all this in chronological order with average times so you can see what it takes to change one side of a 70‑year old record into music the way it was originally recorded:
1. Record at 33 1/3.................... 7.5 min
2. Adjust rate to 51598............... .25 min
3. Resample to 44100................ 1.5 min
4. Restore DeHiss..................... 2.5 min
5. Restore DeClick..................... 2.5 min
6. Convert at CD recording...... 2.0 min
Sub Total.............................. 15.75 min
Jewel Box Insert Adaptec
7. Resample to 441100.............. 1.5 min
If the recording was done on a 78 rpm player, most of this would be eliminated, but, for my purpose, it was time well spent and it also gave me an insight into the capabilities of this excellent program. As I noted earlier, I did have occasion to contact Tech Help, and my first excursion was into Macmillan=s help, which was of no use whatsoever. I then contacted, through e‑mail, the Dart Tech Help and got a reply from Andy Smith, who had a few questions, but he was helpful enough to give an 800 number to call. We spent a while on the phone, and he answered my questions satisfactorily. He did reemphasize the recording at regular speed to cut down on time, but I have plenty of that and enjoy the exercise. Dart requires a periodic assurance that the operator of the program is legal so it asks for insertion of the program CD to verify it. I keep the CD handy on my desk so I=m ready to pop it in when requested. The CD Recorder 4 accompanying the Dart program is a basic version, so the restoration techniques are not included in this part, but I have been assured the Dart restoration is much better and should be used all the time. Again I must state this is a program I have long wished for, and it will be put to full use in the future.
More Audio Stuff ABCs to a Clean Audio CD Burn
by Dale Swafford
Reprinted from the Feb, 2001 issue of the PC Alamode
In the spirit of old time computer experience sharing, I=d like to share some things that now help me enjoy my computer more while burning a music CD. My hope is others will share their successes and failures so that all Alamo PC folks, and all computer users will benefit from the free flow of knowledge.
A. Set up your system Unless your burner software specifically advises you to leave it on (like Easy CD Creator v4), deactivate Auto Insert Notification in Control Panel- Device Manager-your CD-R/RW. Reboot for the change to take effect.
B. Defragment the partition Defragment the partition on your hard drive with the Windows temporary (swap) file and the burner software=s temporary work area for image and wav files.
C. Open your burner software.
D. Shut down unneeded memory resident programs running in the background Especially anti-virus, AFast Find@ if you have Microsoft Office, and timed screen savers. Anything that can interrupt the CPU. I recently downloaded Process Control from ZDNet. A shareware program that lists all memory resident programs and allows me to set priority for each or put them to sleep. It listed 32 items running in the background, Ctrl-Alt-Del only listed 17. I can assign top priority to my burner program and put unneeded items to sleep. It also puts the ones in red that should not be put to sleep. I really like it and it=s much better than using the three finger salute (Control-Alternate-Delete).
E. Load your wav files I make the preparation of the wav files for recording a separate operation from the burn. Clean the original music CD of dust and finger prints using a hub out rather than circular wipe before inserting it in the burner. By replacing the Windows CDFS.VXD file, you can copy the music tracks you want from a CD by opening the stereo folder (open 16 bit, 44.1 kHz) using Windows Explorer and copying the desired tracks to your temporary work folder. Or use digital audio extraction thru your burner software with all the inherent problems.
F. Listen Now is the time to listen to your extracted music tracks. Some CD players do a lousy job of digital audio extraction. You can use filters to reduce noise (clicks, pops) and even the volume level for all the tracks. Remember, every time you filter a file, you lose part of the music. If you need to change the filter settings, maybe reloading the track first might give you a better result. When you are happy with all the music tracks, it=s time to create an image file through your burner software.
G. Setup your software for the burn Get in the habit of reviewing your settings before every burn. Burn speed must be determined by using the software test feature and experience. It has little to do with the burners capability, it has everything to do with the capability of your complete rig and the quality of the finished CD that you are satisfied with. That was a really hard lesson for me to learn. I have a 4X burner, so naturally, that=s the target speed for all burns. Wrong ol= thick headed one! I now use 2X for a music burn. Yes, with proper setup, 4X works most of the time. But with 2X, buffer underrun is a thing of the past and the music sounds much better. I burned a lot of coasters and wasted a lot of time learning that. You=ll have to make your own decision on what works best for you. Ain't it fun?
H. Setup for a disk-at-once burn That will take your image file, write the table of contents first, write the image file in one session, close the session, and then close the disc, all in one clean burn without having to turn the laser on and off. Weak music readers (like the one in my Honda), work better with discs burned this way rather than gaging on 80 min track-at-once burns.
I. Burn the CD Media: There=s a lot of horror stories on the web about bad discs. Check the date on the article. It=s probably a few years old. There are exacting standards on discs now and the process has really improved. Funny, cause there are hardly any standards for burners. All the colored books deal with what you burn on the disc. My opinion is, use only discs rated at or above your burner's max burn speed. I jump on every sale or free offer, the cheaper the better. I have yet to find a bad disc was the cause of a coaster. Stick to 74 minute 8X or 12X discs, disk-at-once if you going to play it on a weak player. It=s a real workout for the laser to stay in grooves that are 1.6 microns apart. With 80 minute discs, the extra 6 minutes, 50 Mbs are stolen from the lead-in, lead-out and tightening the track pitch. Unfortunately, some older readers have a real problem with the 80 minute table of contents.
J. Leave the machine alone Unless you have a new top of the line machine with a 16X or 12X burner with burn proof, once you hit the burn button, leave the machine alone. Do not try to do other tasks on the machine. Do not cause vibrations or bumps. Just let it do its thing. I know, they test the new high speed rigs with a very CPU intensive program running in the background while doing a burn. It=s a commie plot to make us feel inadequate, so we=ll run out and buy the latest and most expensive burner (which we=ll have to throttle back to work with our existing rig).
K. Label and Test After the software indicates a successful burn, and usually ejects the disc to clear its buffer, then it=s time to label and test your latest creation. I want to hear the results of my efforts before I waste a label. So, I take the new disc to the car (my weakest and most used reader) to make sure it can read it and I listen carefully to the music tracks. Then, it=s time to print a label and put it on the disc. All this effort so I=m not a slave to the two radio stations that I enjoy. One keeps playing that 40=s crap and the other has gotten so successful, the commercials have proliferated and are getting really annoying. If only I could get www.rondiamond.com <http://www.rondiamond.com> in my car. Maybe someday.
At the last Win98 SIG Meeting, a question came up about VBS viruses (worms), and we talked about how to disable VBS script activation in Windows.
I had been using the technique of simply removing the file association between .vbs files, and the Windows VBS Script program, but someone mentioned the tip from the Club's last newsletter; an article by Rod Ream of the Pasadena IBM Users Group.
When I got home that night, I looked up the article, and now that I've re‑read it, I like it even better than my method.
The background to all of this is that virus writers have been sending out viruses and worms written with a programming language called "Visual Basic". The files they make are saved with the last three letters of .vbs (for Visual Basic script). When you get a message from somebody that has an attachment, and the name of the attachment ends in .vbs, it could very well be a virus!
It didn't take long, however, for the word to get out not to open attachments that end in .vbs, so the virus writers had to come up with a better trick. They realized that new computers that come with Microsoft Windows have the file extension (the three letters of the filename after the period) hidden for files that the computer "recognizes". In order to see the file extension of those types of files, the user has to go into the Options menu and set Windows to show the three letter extension.
(Open My Computer, click on "View" in the menu bar at the top, then select "Folder Options". In the next window, click on the tab labeled "View", then uncheck the box next to "Hide file extensions for known file types" and click OK.)
Knowing this, virus writers started naming their viruses something like "report.doc.vbs", using the popular ".doc" suffix in the actual filename, and using the .vbs as the extension. Now when the attachment appears on computers that aren't set to show the file extension, the attachment appears as "report.doc", and the user thinks that it's just another Word file. When they double click on it to read the "report", the virus is activated.
Pretty soon the word got out about that trick, so the virus writers had to come up with another one. They realized that Windows now allows "long filenames" (up to 255 characters long), so if they name their virus files something like "report.doc.vbs", but add in a bunch of spaces between "report.doc" and ".vbs", then the .vbs part of the name will actually be extended off the right edge of your screen where you can't see it! Again, the file will appear to be just another report.doc, and when you double‑click on it, you get the virus!
So the solution start out being "Don't double‑click on any email attachments that end in .vbs", but quickly got more complicated as virus writers got sneekier. Now the solution is to make the .vbs file do something different (other than open) when you double‑click on it.
On my machines, I simply removed the connection between files named .vbs and the Visual Basic program, but I like Rod Ream's solution better. If you missed it, it's on page 8 of the May,2001 Bug Report. If you use your computer for email, take a few minutes to follow his suggestions. It may save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Another question that came up at the last Win98 meeting was where to get drivers for old hardware, such as old printers. I had heard about a couple of places on the Internet, but had to wait till I got home to try to find where I had written them down.
Two places you can try are: www.windrivers.com and www.totallydrivers.com. The windrivers one was mentioned at the meeting by Art, and both of them were mentioned on KABC's "Computershow with Marc and Mark".
I'll have to add them to my website to the list of stuff I'm supposed to remember. The website is a collection of tips and tricks I've learned from other people. You can visit it at: http://home.att.net/~john2063/helpfile.htm
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