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 12
by Frank Chao
Let me start off the 40th article in this series by wishing you a wonderful holiday season. I hope that you can enjoy some quality time with your loved ones AND your computer during these festive weeks.
You can assist in the fight against domestic violence by donating old cellular phones to the Wireless Foundation. These phones are refurbished and then provided free of charge to persons who are likely to become victims of domestic violence. For information about this charitable operation, see
CYBERRIA INTERNET CAFE
Last week, Liz and I visited the new "Cyberria Internet Cafe" at
15526 Crenshaw Blvd.
They have "Windows 98" computers that can be rented for $3 per hour for non-members and $2 per hour for members. A membership costs five dollars. When you pay for a membership, you get three free hours of computer rental time.
This new business is located 1 1/2 blocks north of El Camino College on the East side of the street. Their phone number is (310) 767-1024 They have 50 1.5 Gigahertz Pentium IV computers running Windows 98. Their computers have a T-1 (1.544 Megabits per second) connection to the Internet. The Microsoft Office suite and many computer games are loaded into all of their computers. All of their computers have speakers and sometimes the kids playing games create a deafening and annoying din so you might wish to bring earplugs. Or you could take a Valium before visiting their business. (Just kidding !!)
If you have a DSL or cable modem connection to the Internet, you should either use a software or hardware firewall, in order to keep cyber terrorists, also known as hackers, out of your computer(s).
At the very least, you should use a software firewall such as ZoneAlarm or Norton Personal Firewall.
To try out Norton Personal Firewall for free, go to
To obtain the totally-free version of ZoneAlarm, go to
I strongly recommend this software product.
For stronger protection against online troublemakers, you can use a hardware firewall: Linksys makes an excellent hardware firewall that is called HPRO200 - HomeLink PhoneLine 10M Cable/DSL Router For information, go to
D-Link makes several models of routers that function as hardware firewalls. See
D-LINK INTERNET GATEWAY
Last week, I helped a Torrance homeowner install a D-Link Di-704 Cable/DSL Internet Gateway. This gateway acts as a hardware firewall for the homeowner's Pacific Bell DSL Internet connection. This gateway retails for about $100 at Fry's Electronics in Manhattan Beach, California.
The WAN (Wide Area Network) side of this device connects to the homeowner's DSL modem.
The LAN (Local Area Network) side of this device connects to up to four computers with either the10Base-T (10 megabits per second) or 100Base-T (100 Megabits per second) format.
Here are the steps that I took in order to install this gateway:
1) Made sure that the computer was configured for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) DHCP is the default setting for "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)".
2) Attached the computer to the LAN side of the gateway device (by means of a Category 5 (or higher) cable with RJ45 plugs on both ends).
3) Attached the WAN side of the gateway device to the DSL modem (by means of a Category 5 (or higher) cable with RJ45 plugs on both ends).
4) Re-booted the computer (so that the gateway could assign an IP address to the computer by means of DHCP).
5) Started Microsoft "Internet Explorer" and used it to go to
(192.168.0.1 is the default IP address of the gateway device.)
6) Entered the default system password of admin
into the Web-based login form.
7) Followed the instructions in the manual (that comes with the gateway device) in order to configure the WAN side of the device. (In order to perform this configuration, one has to have the technical specifications for one's DSL or cable modem service.)
8) Attached additional computers to the LAN ports of the device.
I then tested all of the homeowner's Internet-connected computers by using them all at the same time to download various files and Web pages. The bottom line is that I am thoroughly pleased with this gateway. It is easy to install and it has performed flawlessly.
To find out more about this product, see
CHANGES AT THE LOS ANGELES FREE-NET
The Los Angeles Free-Net (LAFN) has changed most of their phone numbers. They now have phone numbers throughout most of the state of California. If you are a LAFN member, you will have to make corresponding changes to to your Dial Up Networking icons.
Details are available at
The Los Angeles Free-Net's ability to change is the reason that this wonderful organization is alive and well. Most of the other Free-Nets have gone out of business.
Sun's "StarOffice" is a totally-free alternative to the Microsoft Office suite. It is "file format compatible" with Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. While lacking some of the features fancier features of the Microsoft Office products that it mimics, it a great alternative for people who do not wish to pay for Microsoft Office software. You can download a free copy of the "StarOffice 5" or "StarOffice 6 beta" software at
The price is right !!
INTERNET EXPLORER 6
I finally upgraded my "Windows 98" home computer from "Internet Explorer 5.5" to "Internet Explorer 6". I was pleasantly surprised to discover that "Internet Explorer 6" downloads Web pages (off of the Internet) faster than "Internet Explorer 5.5". Other enhancements for "Internet Explorer 6" are delineated at
WAYS TO CONTACT ME:
If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by the following methods:
1. Leave a voice message for me at 310-768-3896.
2. Send me e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Send "snail" U.S. Postal Service mail to
PO Box 6930
Torrance, CA 90504-0030.
Or sell your computer and take up woodworking instead !!
* * * * * * * *
SOFTWARE LIBRARY NEWS
by BOB HUDAK
First off I want to congratulate our Board of Directors who won the election at the last general meeting. They are going to do a great job leading the club thru 2002. This is the last report of the year. No new shareware in the library this month.
I want to hear from members on how they feel about the club buying a good film scanner. I brought this up to the board and they are open to the idea if the members would be interested in using one. The price of a Nikon Coolscan is about $900.00. Of course we have not done our shopping for this item. We have not really made up our minds if this is the unit to buy. It only scans 35mm slides or negatives at 2900 dpi, 36 bit and has a scratch and dust reduction feature built in. Also has a color restoration feature. The more things that are taken care of at scanning time, the less that needs to be done with a software program. I believe this is a pretty good unit but not the best. From this point the prices start going up fast. A Nikon scanner that scans at 4000 dpi cost about $1700.00.
OK, so here is the idea on how we would put it to use to begin with. Have it at the tuesday hardware SIG connected to the club's desktop computer. You bring your slides down and scan them in and burn them, there, to a CD. We can set up appointments so that ten members are not down there at the same time. It will depend on the demand as to how long you get to work at the computer at one time. As you work, the next member to use the equipment can be looking over your shoulder learning on how to do it. These are some first ideas.
Now what I need from you first is to send an e-mail to me, (email@example.com) telling me if you think this is a good idea and about how many slides and negatives you have that you would like to scan. Without this input we can not make a plan. The pictures that you put on a CD will be in a digital format that will not deteriorate and you can work with them as you please. If you have any firsthand information on a film scanner, tells us about it. There is a lot to learn here and should be a lot of fun. I see a SIG on this type of scanning in the future. Speaking of SIG's, what new SIG would you be interested in? You need to speak up, nothing will happen on it's own. Harold Caccamise has a SIG on every Tuesday, during the hardware SIG, that deals with scanning and using software to work with scanned pictures. He also will show you how to make digital albums with the pictures or cards to send to family or friends. Harold does not receive the credit he deserves.
How many of you know Bill Champlin? He has brought copies of Computer Currents to the clubs general meetings for many years. Maybe more then ten years. Be sure to say "Thanks Bill" the next time you see him. The club is in a dead zone because we are not doing new things. We need more active members. What do I mean? How many of you buy new hardware or software and NEVER write a short article about it for the newsletter. Share what you have learned about it. If you only write one article every two years our newsletter would be full of members articles. As it is now we only have a couple of members contributing. Is that right? Would you like to be a SIG leader on some interesting program? Everyone that would come would have ideas and tips. It is not as if you need to do everything. Take a program like Quicken. How many would like to have 3 or 4 SIG meetings to just learn how to get started? Who is using the program and would like to chair the SIG? Tell your president, Gary Sexton, and he will set it up. Lets get things rolling in 2002!
* * * * * * * *
Officers Elect for 2002
President U. A. Garred Sexton Directors at Large Chairpersons
John Hanson Program John Sellers
Vice Pres. Herman Krouse Virginia Pfiffiner Membership Keith Decker
Secretary Pamela Harrison Thomas Tucknott Librarian Bob Hudak
Treasurer Jim Corones Newsletter Editor Vernon Lym
· Election of Officers
GSBUG is up and running for the year 2002. A slate of officers has been elected to serve with few changes from this last year. The presidency remains essentially the same with Gary Sexton as President, Herman Krouse as VP, and Jim Corones as Treasurer. Tom Tucknott steps down as Secretary but will continue as a Board member at large. Pamela Harrison, a long time member, will serve as Secretary.
* * * * * * * *
IF YOU'RE GOING TO UPGRADE, GET READY NOW
by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group
I'm going to upgrade. Yep, I'm breaking one of Bass International's number one rules, but I think it's going to be worth it.
I'm can't give you all the details because it's coming out in December's PC World Home Office column (hey, they pay the mortgage). What I can do, however, is share parts of my upgrade experience, things that I didn't have space to say in the PCW column. DOS Programs: Every legacy application I tried worked. A 1988 version of FoxBASE+ 2.10, WordStar 7.0, Norton Commander, and even a 1984 copy of Autodex 1.0, something few of you could possibly remember.
More intriguing is Win XP's ability to run these programs better—faster and with more stability—that Win 9x. Why? Who knows, folks, magic maybe, but it does. I had trouble with only one program—an early Windows version of Ventura Publisher. It turns out that even the current version of VP won’t run under Windows XP. Advice: Read MS's “Reliability Improvements” article that explains why XP's more stable than Win 9.x. It’s at
Then read “Windows XP Application Compatibility Technologies,” a very comprehensive article that explains how to tweak apps so they'll run in XP. Play special attention to the QfixApp, a tool that gets you to the database of compatibility fixes included with XP.
Drivers and Upgrades: My Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card wouldn't work with XP. Advice: As with any Operating System upgrade (excluding Amiga and GEOS), dig out the drivers and upgrades before you start the upgrade. If you can, burn them onto a CD-ROM.
Networking: Lots, lots easier than in Win 9.x with one proviso...you'll have to dump NETBEUI on the other PCs in the network. Win XP relies totally on TCP/IP. Advice: Hone up on your networking skills or hire a consultant to up to speed. Read MS's “Home and Small Office Network Topologies,” article at:
Internet Explorer: IE 6.0 doesn't support
Netscape-style plug-ins. The only one I missed—and was annoyed with MS's
removal of--Apple's QuickTime player. That meant I couldn't play MOV videos.
MS's claims it's for security. I say it's hogwash and a way to lock out Apple.
By the time you read this, MS and Apple have probably tweaked the QuickTime
Player to support ActiveX controls for IE 6. Advice: If the QuickTime player doesn't work, find the patch on MS's site.
Getting a Jump: One good place to see if your PC is ready for XP is with PC Pitstop. They have a neat-o XP test site that examines your PC's operating system, CPU speed, BIOS version, amount of memory, available hard drive space, and video capabilities. The results tell you how your machine matches up to XP's minimum and recommended requirements. The tool is available for you to try at
MS also has many good articles if you're a tinkerer:
** The “Consumer Desktop PC Design Checklist for Windows XP” provides
technical details for building a new PC for XP.
** You might want to continue using W2K while experimenting with XP.
Read “Multibooting with Windows 2000 and Windows XP”
I'll have more to say about my XP upgrade experience next month. 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 http://www.pcworld.com/resource/toc/index.asp and sign up for the Steve Bass online newsletter at www.pcworld.com/bass_letter.
* * * * * * * *
(Reprinted from the ‘Colombia Baltimore User Group’ newsletter)
1. Viruses are free.
2. Viruses can be gotten from any good BBS.
3. If detected soon enough, most viruses can be removed from your computer without a huge loss of data and time.
4. Viruses don't take up HUGE wads of disk space.
5. Viruses don't need four meg of ram to run.
6. Viruses do something.
7. Viruses come in flavors, not just one-size-fits all.
8. Viruses use the "cutting edge" programming skills to make themselves less noticeable. (until they are ready to be noticed)
9. Viruses don't have major bugs. (if they do, then they don't work, so they're not virus')
10. Viruses don't have three different sets of documentation that is all mixed up and wrong.
11. Viruses don't leak things to the press about the upcoming Jerusalem 95, to keep people from switching to Michelangelo/2 Warp or better yet, XJerusalem.
12. Viruses don't put out stupid two page adds in magazines centered around the March 6 "activate button".
13. Viruses aren’t on every computer.
14. Viruses don't have stupid wizards.
15. Who cares if a virus is 16 bit, even though it is advertised as 32?
16. Viruses don't say that they are user "friendly", when they aren't.
17. Viruses can run on PCDOS without warnings.
18. Viruses when installing themselves don't try to send private info about your computer over the phone lines to microsoft.net. (Editors note-Now they do!)
19. Viruses install themselves.
20. Viruses don't try to push out all competition. They just try to do their job. Virus maker's don't try to buy Intuit (makers of Quicken (wouldn't that be fun, America's biggest financial software company owned by a virus maker))
22. Viruses don't invade and take over PC Magazine, filling it with 100% junk on Windows.
23. Viruses don't try to copy what Apple does.
24. There are programs you can buy, or get free to remove viruses.
* * * * * * * *
What You Should Know About Windows 9x Registry
by Vic Laurie, PPCUG
Much has been written about the Registry from the point of view of the power user, but the subject often seems so obscure and arcane that the typical user takes the path of least resistance and remains ignorant of even the most basic facts of the Registry. This is unfortunate since there are some things that are easily learned and can be very helpful in keeping a system in good order. I will address the Registry sticking to the aspects that are of practical use to an average user.
What do you need to know about the Registry?
Editing the Registry is not typically an activity of most users. However, it is important. to know how to back up the Registry and how to restore a damaged or corrupted Registry should the need arise. A little learning here can save big headaches. The backup/restore process is neither difficult nor lengthy (especially for Win98) and is easily mastered by the greenest of neophytes. Just a little knowledge will make the Registry seem less like some cabalistic ritual of Druid priests and remove some of the fear and loathing from the subject.
What is the Registry?
The registry is a central database containing all the varied information needed for the computer to run both the hardware and the software. Information is divided between two hidden, system, readonly files, System.dat and User.dat, which are located in the \Windows\ folder. Division into two files allows flexibility in multi-user environments. User specific information (logon names, desktop settings, Start menu settings, etc.) is kept in User.dat. If there is more than one user, each can have his/her version of User.dat. Hardware specific and computer-specific settings are contained in System.dat. It contains hardware configurations, Plug and Play settings, application settings, etc. It is much the larger of the two files and on a Win98 system with Internet Explorer 4/5 may be 5MB or larger. On a basic Win95 system without Internet Explorer, it may be less than l MB.
Backing up and Restoring the Registry in Windows 95
Windows 95 makes a feeble attempt at automatic backup by creating system.daO and user.daO files after every successful boot-up (note that the extension is daZero). These are copies of the last successful version of system.dat and user.dat. This stopgap measure is better than nothing and has saved my bacon once or twice, but it is too easy for errors to creep in. Windows 95 also came (if you knew where to look) with two accessories for Registry backup, CFGBACK and ERU, but both suffer from problems and I do not recommend them. There are also innumerable shareware programs that offer to do back ups. Don't waste money on them. The canonical way to back up that is in all the literature involves booting to Command Prompt Only and doing DOS. For completeness, I will include this method here, but unless you are on a network it isn't necessary to go to DOS, a procedure which may be more traumatic for many people than it is worth (the average user seems to suffer from DOSophobia.) Old DOS hands can write a batch file that makes it all very easy, of course, but I will skip that.
Here is the standard DOS backup procedure: Boot to "Command prompt only" (not a DOS box), and enter the following. (I am using upper case but that is not necessary):
ATTRIB -H -S -R SYSTEM.DAT
ATTRIB -H -S -R USER.DAT
COPY SYSTEM.DAT SYSTEM.BAK
COPY USER.DAT USER.BAK
ATTRIB +H +S +R SYSTEM.DAT
ATTRIB +H +S + R USER.DAT
This places the backups in the Windows folder along with the original registry files. If you wish to back up to another folder or a ZIP disk or other external medium as well (wise) insert the appropriate destination.
Why go to DOS? To make absolutely sure that nothing will try to access the Registry while it is being copied. However, if you are careful to have nothing else running (including things like screensavers) you can simply copy the two Registry files from within Windows Explorer (with Show All Files enabled) the same way you would copy any file. I have used this procedure many times. Nothing could be simpler. (These copies will have the hidden system attributes; which must be removed if the files are ever needed in a DOS procedure.)
How often is backup needed? In principle those who do not make changes in settings and do not install new software need only one healthy backup with the daO files serving as a second tier. In practice, making backups a week apart and keeping them in different places isn't a bad idea.
If you make frequent changes to your system, frequent backups are called for. Always back up before trying a new component or software.
Registry backups are a form of insurance. Just as you purchase fire insurance for your home without expecting it to burn down, make backups even if you never expect to trash the Registry. Many users go through life with nary a whimper of trouble. (One way to help keep out of trouble is regular housecleaning, which is discussed below.)
However, suppose the dreaded day arrives, you get one of the infamous corrupt Registry error messages and your machine refuses to open in Windows. What then? For purposes of illustration, I will assume the backups are also in the Windows folder. For other paths make appropriate substitutions. Assuming you are getting a C:\ prompt (if not, there is a whole other procedure involving a boot disk which I won't discuss here) enter the following DOS commands to replace the corrupt Registry files with backup copies:
ATTRIB -H -S -R SYSTEM.DAT
ATTRIB -H -S -R USER.DAT
COPY SYSTEM.BAK SYSTEM.DAT
COPY USER.BAK USER.DAT
ATTRIB +H +S +R SYSTEM.DAT
ATTRIB +H +S +R USER.DAT
Restoring the attributes in the last two steps is to ensure proper functioning of the system. (Incidentally, bad RAM or hard disk problems can also lead to corrupt Registry error messages. Repeated problems with Registry errors may actually be a hardware problem).
Backing up and Restoring the Registry in Windows 98
Win98 is a piece of cake compared to Win95 since one of the best improvements Microsoft made in Win98 was to add new system utilities. One of these is called the Registry Checker, which backs up the Registry automatically and restores it if needed. The da0 files are superfluous and are no longer created. Below are excerpts from the Microsoft Windows 98 Resource Kit explaining the whole process.
"Registry Checker is a system maintenance program that finds and fixes registry problems. Each time you start your computer, Registry Checker automatically scans the registry for inconsistent structures, and if no problem is found, Registry Checker makes one backup for each day. Registry Checker consists of two executable files, Scanreg.exe and Scanregw.exe, which are automatically copied to the \Windows\Command and \Windows folders, respectively, when Windows 98 is installed. If a problem is found in the registry, Registry Checker can restore the registry from a good backup copy. Registry Checker maintains five compressed backups of the registry that have successfully started the computer. Registry Checker attempts to fix the registry if a backup cannot be found. Registry Checker also removes unused space in the registry, reducing the size of the registry file, and therefore improving performance. Once per day at startup a new CAB file containing a backup of the registry is created by Registry Checker. The file name is Rbxxx.cab (where xxx is a unique number assigned when the file is created). The new file replaces the oldest file. These files are located in the \Windows\Sysbckup folder (a hidden folder). Registry Checker always maintains at least the last configuration from which the system was successfully booted."
Also from the Microsoft Resource Kit: "To manually backup the registry using Registry Checker
On the Start menu, click Run.
Type scanregw.exe, and click OK.
First, Registry Checker verifies that the registry is structurally sound. If the registry is sound, Registry Checker offers to back it up. Registry Checker will back up the registry and store the compressed CAB file in \Windows\Sysbckup (a hidden directory)."
And finally: "To restore the backup manually"
On the Start menu, click Shut Down.
Select Restart in MS-DOS mode and click OK.
At the MS-DOS command prompt, type scanreg/ restore.
Select the latest known good backup.
Backed up, compressed registry files are listed with the name Rbxxx.cab. The files show the time and date of backup."
In addition to whatever backups are made by scanreg, you can make copies of System.dat and User.dat through Window Explorer as was explained in the Win95 section above. These will not be in compressed CAB format and can be used directly.
Cleaning the Registry
The Registry is in dynamic flux; programs continually access it to obtain and add information. Often obsolete entries are left behind and over time the Registry will grow in size as it accretes outdated stuff. If programs are installed and removed, residues are left behind because of the inefficiencies of uninstaller programs. If the Registry collects too much rubbish, it may slow the system or become less stable. Various programs exist to clean the Registry (always back up before using any of them). A free one (Regclean) is available at ftp://ftp. Microsoft.com/Softlib/
MSLFILES/REGCLEAN.EXE. There were some reported problems with older versions, but I have used this version, 4.1a Build 7364.1, without trouble. This utility is only a partial cleaner and does not get many things, but I use it regularly. It creates an Undo file so that your previous Registry can be restored if you choose. Another free program I have used with good success is called Easy Cleaner. It can be found on a number of sites including the author's homepage (http.//www.saunalaXti.f/toniXele/). It seems to do a good job, is fast, and is recommended by many Websites, but I point out (for what it's worth) that the author is a 15 year old Finnish kid. Back up before you use 'it.
If you want to pay for something, there are a host of utilities with Registry cleaners. None 1 have used clean much better than the kid's freebie but they have more bells and whistles.
They backup what they clean and are quite useful when uninstalling software. They remove the stuff the program uninstallers miss. I have used Clean Sweep, but you should keep a close eye on what it wants to clean out. It always shows you first what it might do, but sometimes wants to throw out stuff it shouldn't. Older versions have trouble with Win98. Now that Symantec has bought it and added it to Norton Utilities, I am not sure what the latest version is like. The really diligent and fearless can clean by hand using a registry editor.
Editing the Registry
Average users will probably do this as often as they bungee jump, but some of us are inveterate tinkerers and like to get to the core of things. Windows 9X comes with a utility called Regedit. It is not listed in the Programs menu but is in the Windows folder as Regedit.exe. There are also help files. The easiest way to use it is to open the Run menu and enter "regedit" (without quotes). One serious drawback is its lack of an "undo" function. Editing cannot be reversed. More flexible editors are available in programs like Norton Utilities.
For the more circumspectly there are safer ways of editing the registry. The TweakUI utility is an interface for easily making Registry changes which I have recommended many times. Go to www.winmag. com/win95/software.htm for the Win95 version or www.winmag.com/win98/software.htm for Win98. Another free utility which is quite useful is X-Setup 5.0. It is available at http://www.xteq.com/main.html.
Disclaimer: Everything mentioned here works on my and other computers but Windows systems can be highly idiosyncratic so your results may differ.
[Reprinted from Chicago Computer Society newsletter “Hard-Copy”, June 2000. Ed.]
* * * * * * * *