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 9
Lend a Hand
Who Dat Who Said Winmail?
Computer Terminology Explained
Lend a Hand
By Coco Johnston Fl Computer Users' Club, Shell Knob, MO.
Computers are no longer the exclusive domain of office workers. They have moved into our homes, our cars and our pockets, and it looks as if they are here to stay. The list of tasks they are capable of handling grows daily, and it's difficult for even the seasoned expert to keep up with the ever-expanding technology. The crowd of learners, eager to know more about these amazing machines, just keeps growing.
It's no wonder that thousands of PC and Mac user groups have sprung up all over the country. People everywhere are realizing the value of sharing computer know-how. By pooling our knowledge, we can speed up the learning process in our pursuit to master the realm of electronic information and entertainment. The bigger the pool of knowledge we have available, the easier it is to find what we're looking for.
Computer user groups provide a valuable and economical resource for learning and sharing information about computers. At the very least, they provide an opportunity to get together with other computer users and ask questions arid exchange tips and ideas. Some groups publish newsletters that help disseminate information of general interest and keep members informed of events and activities; others maintain Web sites, listing local information and reference points for members and visitors from the Internet community. There are groups that invite guest speakers to give presentations at the meetings; some groups offer classes to their members; some form smaller special interest groups that meet and have in-depth discussions on one aspect of computing.
In addition to the many services a user group offers its members, records need to be compiled and kept updated (a membership list, e-mail addresses, dues, how much money is brought in, what bills need to be paid. Some groups have hardware that needs maintaining and servicing. Special events and parties are sometimes organized. Generally, the bigger the group is, the more activities it offers and the more work it takes to run it.
All of these wonderful services offered by user groups depend on volunteers. It takes people to plan, organize and "emcee" the meetings; keep records of membership and finances; suggest and write articles for the newsletters; take the newsletter to the printer; label, stamp and mail the newsletters; create and update the Web site; organize, advertise and teach classes; send articles to the local newspapers to notify people of events; create and hand out fliers about meetings and events; organize special interest groups and meetings; organize parties and picnics; and think up new ways to maintain growth and interest.
You are fortunate to have a computer user group in your community; you are also fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to its success. By donating a couple of hours of your time each month, you will help build and maintain a user group that benefits not only you but also your entire community. And many of the jobs that hold a user group together and make it hum don't even require computer skills.
The secretary and treasurer can be trained with some basic instructions in MS Works and Quicken, which make record keeping and bookkeeping simpler. However, computer skills are not necessary to set up chairs, take roll or make name tags at the meetings.
Those who know the least about computers are in the best position to suggest ideas for meeting topics or newsletter articles. It doesn't take a computer genius to plan meetings and find speakers. Organizing classes, advertising them and finding someone to teach them can be done by people who know nothing about computers. Computer experience isn't necessary to stand up in front of a meeting and make announcements or present the guest speaker (just a good loud voice, a few notes and a little enthusiasm will get anyone through it).
Putting together a newsletter is probably the most time consuming job in a user group, but the toughest part of that job is coming up with ideas and articles. As the editor for The F 1 Key, the newsletter of the F 1 Computer Users' Club, in Shell Knob, MO, I am thrilled when members e-mail me tips, shortcuts, useful Web sites, ideas and questions. I don't always have the answers to the questions, but I can usually track down someone who does. And I enjoy taking other's tips and ideas and creating articles out of them. I'm willing to bet that every user group has a wannabe writer in its midst; I happen to be ours.
Once the newsletter is completed, it has to be taken to the printer and then picked up later. Volunteers who help sort, staple, fold, label, and stamp newsletters are always appreciated.
It takes a lot of work and time to run a user group, and the more people who help with the many jobs involved, the better the club can serve the membership as a whole. The better the service to members, the more the membership grows and, eventually, the greater the pool of knowledge from which to learn. You have everything to gain from giving some of your time to your user group. Run for an office, sign up for a committee, offer to help organize events, classes or meetings, send your ideas and questions to the newsletter editor (or better yet, write a paragraph or two). Help out where you can. Get involved. You and everyone in your user group will benefit from what you do.
This article is furnished as a benefit of our membership in the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization to which this user group belongs. The author, Coco Johnston is currently the editor of The Fl Key and has served as secretary/treasurer, vice president and president of the FI Computer Users' Club in Shell Knob, MO. She is also Webmaster for the Fl Club's Web site. www.monet.coml flclub.
* * * * * * * *
By Frank Chao
This is the 37th article about the ever-changing Internet and your access to its cornucopia of information and misinformation.
Netzero has reduced the number of hours that they allow for the free version of their dial-up Internet service. In previous months, they allowed users to connect for up to 40 hours per calendar month per account. Effective immediately, users of the free version of their service will be limited to 10 hours per calendar month per household. This means that, if you, your spouse, your kid, and your dog all have separate accounts, you will all have to share a single 10-hour allotment. When your 10 hours is up, you will be asked to pay them $9.95 in order to continue accessing the Internet for the remainder of the calendar month. At the start of the next calendar month, you get another 10-hour allotment
LOW-COST INTERNET OPTIONS
Several club members have stated that the low-cost (not free) options of the free Internet services are good deals. Netzero, Bluelight, and Juno all have fee-based, unlimited, dial-up Internet access for less than 10 dollars a month. These services are not encumbered by banner ads. Netzero is offering to all of their current members, free use of their fee-based Platinum service during weekends in September. You might wish to try it out.
PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS
Free Internet access is available at the Torrance One Stop Career Center, which is located on Engracia Ave., three blocks south of Torrance Blvd. In Torrance, California. They have approximately 30 Windows NT computers with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint. All of these computers have a lightning-fast Internet connection so that you can use them to browse the Web with Internet Explorer or Netscape. When you sign in, you have to state the reason that you are using their computers: To find gainful employment, of course !!
Newspaper Websites represent an interesting and useful source of information.
The Los Angeles Times and the Daily Breeze both have Websites that contain current news and other information.
Their URLs are:http://latimes.com and http://dailybreeze.com
Like most newspaper Websites, articles that appear are generally available for free for about a week. After that time period, you have to pay them a fee in order to access an article. If you see an article that you wish to keep, you can either print it out or do a "File" and "Save As" in order to save the article onto the hard drive of your computer.
TIME WARNER CABLE
Time Warner continues to provide "Road Runner" cable modem service to residences within their cable television service area. Details are available at
Their self-install kits are very popular with my students at El Camino College.
One of my students installed two in his house in a single day: one for himself and one for his wife. They wanted the redundancy of two separate modems, each with a separate account. On the downside, they have two bills to pay each month.
PACIFIC BELL DSL INTERNET
Pacific Bell continues to promote their expanding residential DSL service with aggressive pricing. Their service is available to residential phone customers of Pacific Bell.
During the past 8 years, I have been an avid reader of the "PC Wizard" articles that have been written by our Dr. John Hansen. Please join me in thanking him for his excellent articles. His series of articles started approximately 5 years before mine. I expect to read many more of his articles in future issues.
About 2 months ago, Juno announced that they will terminate the free version of their e-mail and Internet service by the end of the year. If you are using this free service, you have the option of converting to their fee-based service. If you do not wish to do so, you should probably get an account on the free version of Netzero. Netzero comes with a free Post Office Protocol (POP3) e-mail account. After getting an account on the free version of Netzero, you can either use their free e-mail account. You also have the option of getting an account on "Yahoo mail". "Yahoo mail" is totally Web-based. This means that after making a Dial Up Networking connection to the Internet with Netzero, you can access a "Yahoo mail" account from within Internet Explorer or Netscape.
"YAHOO MAIL" AS A VIRUS DEFENSE
"YAHOO MAIL" scans all file attachments for viruses and attempts to remove the viruses for you. If it finds a virus inside a file attachment of an e-mail message (that someone sends to you), it also sends you a warning about what it has found and whether it was successful in removing the virus. This has been a good way for me to prevent my computer from ever catching a virus. For all my POP e-mail accounts, including the ones at Netzero and El Camino College, I use the "Check Other Mail" feature of "Yahoo mail" to do an non-destructive download into the "Inbox" of "Yahoo mail". When I do this, "Yahoo mail" checks the file attachments of my messages for viruses and warns me if it finds any. If it does not find any, then I download the e-mail into the "Inbox" of my "Pegasus" e-mail client on my home computer, in order to read my mail. On the other hand, if "Yahoo mail" notifies me that an e-mail message has a virus-infested message, I then delete the message without reading it, after downloading it into my home computer. Please note that I do have virus checking software in my home computer. It would be foolhardy for me to not have such software running in the background, guarding my computer at all times. "Yahoo mail" provides me an extra measure of safety. With both it and my local virus checker, I am extra safe from viruses and the malicious low-lifes that spread them.
SPRINT PREPAID INTERNET
In prior months, Sprint Prepaid Internet was sold as "calling cards" in the 7-11 convenience stores that I visited in Torrance, California. However, they seem to have disappeared from these stores during the month of August. Let me know if you see them anywhere.
The Sprint Website at: http://www.sprintppi.com does not provide customers with a means to buy one of their cards on-line.
DRIVER SEARCHES ON THE WEB
When searching for drivers to make a specific piece of computer hardware work, I start off by going to the manufacturer's Website. For example, if the equipment is made by Hewlett Packard, I go to http://www.hp.com and look for drivers.
Then I go to http://www.driverguide.com
Finally, as a last resort, I then go to http://altavista.com and search on <name or model of hardware> AND driver
TEACHING AT EL CAMINO COLLEGE
After some last-minute reshuffling of teaching assignments, I am now only teaching one class, which meets on Thursday evenings. See http://www.elcamino.cc.ca.us/Faculty/fchao/cis13/ or http://fchao.tripod.com/cis13/ for details.
* * * * * * * *
The GSBUG Board of Directors decided to raffle a Microsoft Office XP Professional software package as a fund raiser for the club. There will be ONLY 50 chances sold at $5.00 each. Your odds of winning are pretty good. Buy several chances and I believe your odds really go up. Act quickly or you may miss out on this $600.00 package. It contains Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Access. It also has a step by step interactive training CD_ROM. All in a never opened sealed box.
You do NOT have to be present for the drawing to win. The drawing will be at a general meeting as soon as all 50 chances are sold. You can buy your tickets by sending check to GS_BUG at P.O. Box 6950, Torrance, CA 90504_6950. Your name will be put on the ticket as soon as money is received and held for you. You also can see me (Bob Hudak) on Tue at the Hardware SIG at the Torrance Scout Center. You can give money to any Board member that you see at any of the SIGs and they will let me know that you have bought a chance. Raffle tickets are available at the general meeting today also. Lets see if we can have the drawing tonight or at the next general meeting at the Salvation Army Facility.
* * * * * * * *
by John Sellers
I have a special request of our members to make suggestions as to people or companies that you would like to have as presenters for our club meetings. Getting good topics and speakers has always been a difficult task. This has been exacerbated this month by the unfortunate cancellation of the scheduled talk that was to be given at our regular meeting. We will meet as usual but, as yet, have no topic lined up. Some help, particularly at this time, would be much appreciated.
A Special Meeting for October
There will be a special two hour presentation of "Adobe Photoshop" on October 23rd at 6:00 pm, at our previous meeting place, the El Segundo Library, at 111 W. Mariposa, El Segundo. Please note the early meeting time, necessitated by the length of the presentation.
Our presenter will be Dwight Goode, member of the San Fernando Valley Camera Club and the Southern California Roundup Chapter of Photographic Society of America. He has lectured on Adobe Photoshop at the PSA Tucson International Conference, the Roundup and other PSA Chapters and several photo clubs. Professionally he is a CPA but has been working with Photoshop for a number of years and teaches private classes on Photoshop.
His lecture and demonstrations will be using both a slide projector and a LED unit projecting images from his computer onto a large photo screen.
The initial portion of the lecture will be designed to acquaint those not yet familiar with Photoshop to the program and concept, along with a live example of an image improvement. He will show a series of "Before" and " After" images to illustrate the ability of the program as well as a print display of some of his recent work.
For those already using Photoshop, he will illustrate techniques to make and perfect selections using quick mask and the lasso tool, and also explain how to add and subtract selections from and to each other. He will also illustrate a new technique that allows you to improve portions of an image without making any selections.
He will also present a demonstration on very simple methods to do very impressive collages by means of gradient layers, layer masks, layers blend modes and other layer styles controls.
Since it is often difficult to remember all the steps used when you see a demonstration, Dwight will also have handouts with detailed step-by-step procedures covering many of the techniques that he used in his presentation.
* * * * * * * *
by Ken Fermoyle
Unofficially, USB Could Mean 'User's Super Buddy'
Officially, USB stands for "Universal Serial Bus." Unofficially, I think it could translate to "User's Super Buddy" for PC and Mac users. Anybody who tried to install and configure a peripheral device in the old pre-USB days likely will agree. Back then, the chore was a major one, especially with PCs.
It required a ton of computer savvy and no little amount of luck.
First, you had to figure out which port to use from a bunch of confusing possibilities.
Then in most cases, you had to pull the cover off your computer (always scary, for either Mac or PC) to install an add-in card. For PCs, this often required setting pesky DIP switches. Next came the job of finding and configuring an available IRQ, not always easy. Basic system components used up some IRQs; serial devices already installed used up still more.
It was a fun job, yessir! I can recall blowing the better part of a day trying to install a single new peripheral in computers ranging from the venerable XT through a variety of X86 machines, even into WinTel systems of the '90s. (Mac users had it easier but USB has been a boon for them, too.) Windows Plug'n'Play eased the problem, when it worked, but it took USB to solve it completely.
With USB, a computer automatically recognizes the device connected and installs the appropriate drivers. It enables computer users to "hot-plug" computer peripherals to their PCs. ("Hot-plugging" means you can plug in and unplug peripherals with have to power down and then reboot your computer, no small benefit.)
Not that there weren't difficulties at first. I heard many complaints from people who tried to install USB ports and devices in the early days of the technology. The problems usually arose from trying to use USB in hardware or software systems that weren't ready for it; i.e. older systems that hadn't been built with USB compatibility in mind. I do not recall getting any similar complaints during the past year. Lack of USB devices was a problem at first but now they're everywhere.
USB offers many more benefits than simple installation.
First, USB (Version 1.1) can carry data at up to 12 megabits per second (Mbps), 100 times faster than any serial port. This broad category includes digital cameras, modems, keyboards, mice, printers, digital joysticks, some CD-ROM drives, tape and floppy drives, digital scanners and specialty printers.
USB's data rate also accommodates a whole new generation of peripherals: MPEG-2 video-base products, data gloves, digitizers and computer-telephony, expected to be a big growth area for PCs and Macs. (In addition, USB provides an interface such business-oriented technologies as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and digital PBXs.)
The latest version of USB, Version 2.0, introduced late in 2000, offers even faster communication, with bandwidth up to 400 Mbps. It easily accommodates high-performance peripherals, such as monitors, video conferencing cameras, next-generation printers, and faster storage devices. Happily, USB 2.0 is backward-compatible with Version 1.1
Next, one or two USB ports can support many peripherals. In theory, up to 127 devices can be "daisy chained" from a single port. There are practical limitations, power supplies among them, and most of us will never use anywhere near that number. The ability to plug a USB hub into a USB port and then connect four or more peripherals to it is a real convenience. You can place a hub anywhere on your desktop for easy access; no more crawling under the desk to connect or disconnect a mouse, digital camera or any other USB-compatible device.
Frosting on the cake comes in the form of an impressive hardware package from Belkin: the USB BusStation. This versatile docking station not only serves as a hub that gives you up to seven USB ports. Using optional adapters, it can accommodate many non-USB peripherals. It also offers a laundry list of other features:
# Innovative modular tower with three slide-out modules that fit into the palm of your hand.
# Configure your own low-cost universal docking station; choose whatever module combination is right for you, whether you are a PC or Mac user. (Compatible with Windows(r) 95 rev. B, Windows(r) 98, Windows(r) 2000, Mac(r) OS 8.1 or higher)
# 7-port hub (standard configuration) connects seven devices to a single USB port on your PC.
# Freedom to Connect keyboards, mice, joysticks, speakers and more to a single USB port on your computer.
# 4A (Ampere) power supply provides true 500-mA (milliAmp) power to each port.
# Modules available for Ethernet, SCSI devices, serial, parallel, PS/2 and additional USB ports.
# Illuminated green LEDs for easy access to port status.
# Supports all high-speed and low-speed USB devices.
# Includes a Belkin Pro Series 3 ft. USB Device cable for a quality connection, lifetime Belkin warranty and USB Wizard to make configuration even easier.
I've been using a BusStation for many months now and find it invaluable. (Faithful readers know I don't report on a service or product until it has proved itself over a reasonable length of time and I have become thoroughly familiar with it.) Even before installing it in my main computer, I vowed never to buy another non-USB peripheral again.
With BusStation, I've found it easy to connect some of my older devices, including one of my several scanners and a digital camera with only a serial interface. This rates as an especially valuable feature for those of us who can't afford to replace all of our currently owned peripherals with new USB products.
One caution: The BusStation User Manual clearly states that that the 4A power supply is more than enough to supply adequate power to all ports in normal configuration. At 500mA per port, the power draw would be 3.5A. (Low-power devices such as mice and keyboards draw only about 100mA
However, adding a 4-port hub as one of the modules would overtax the BusStation. In such case, the 4-port hub must have its own 2.1A power supply, supplied with optional 4-port hub modules.
I like the fact that the BusStation includes built-in "Overcurrent Protection," which shuts off a port if it draws too much current, protecting both the connected device and BusStation from damage.
At the usual price of $79.99, I consider this Belkin product a good value. The cost is higher than two standard 4-port USB hubs, but you get more versatility. The price is competitive with multifunction hubs, even when you add in the cost of an adapter module or two (adapters range from about $50 an up.) and, again you have greater choice in integrating USB into your system.
Copyright 2001 by Ken Fermoyle. Mr. Fermoyle has written some 2,500 articles for publications ranging from Playboy & Popular Science to MacWeek & PC World. Ken's Korner, a syndicated monthly column, is available free to User Groups and other non-profit or educational organizations. For information or permission to reprint, contact email@example.com.
* * * * * * * *
Who Dat Who Said Winmail?
by Steve Bass Pasadena IBM Users Group
Has this ever happened to you? You receive an e-mail and there's a winmail.dat attached to it. The attachment can't be viewed, decoded, or converted. Any idea what's going on? Well, it's not a rare event and there's not much you can do about it.
This file contains formatting code that was sent by someone using Microsoft Exchange or Outlook. It usually doesn't contain any useful information other than Rich Text Format (RTF) formatting code that permits two MS Exchange users to send e-mail messages with formatting such as bold and italics.(Oddly enough, there's no relationship between RTF files and RTFM instructions.)
When a user sends an e-mail with this formatting option to someone not on Microsoft Exchange, a winmail.dat file appears as an attachment, but it is useless to the recipient.
When a separate attachment, such as a Word 97 document is also sent from the user on Microsoft Exchange, the attachment and winmail.dat file may be combined into a single winmail.dat file our program cannot do anything with.
Here's the deal: Have the sender turn off the option to send Rich Text Formatted e-mail messages to you. This can be specified on an individual recipient basis but they may have to consult the product documentation for detailed information.
Current versions of the Microsoft programs by default send plain text e-mail to new recipients instead of the RTF text.
For a very rich FAQ, check the Microsoft Exchange Frequently Asked Questions page. It contains answers to questions about Exchange, mostly from folks wrestling with it as their mail client on Win 9.x, where it is also known by the euphonious name of Windows Messaging. Check here:www.angrygraycat.com/goetter/exclifaq.htm#suppressrtf
Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World Magazine, frequently writes for Forbes ASAP, and is the president of the Pasadena IBM Users Group. He often writes with his tongue in his cheek. Write to him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
* * * * * * * *
Computer Terminology Explained
from rec.humor Printed in the October 1997 issue of the I/O Port Newsletter
Don Singleton TCS email email@example.com
Alpha-- Software undergoes alpha testing as a first step in getting user feedback. Alpha is Latin for "doesn't work."
Beta -- Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it's released. Beta is Latin for "still doesn't work."
Computer -- Instrument of torture. The first computer was invented by Roger "Duffy" Billingsly, a British scientist. In a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Duffy disguised himself as a German ally and offered his invention as a gift to the surly dictator. The plot worked. On April 8, 1945, Adolf became so enraged at the "Incompatible File Format" error message that he shot himself. The war ended soon after Hitler's death, and Duffy began working for IBM.
CPU -- Central propulsion unit. The CPU is the computer's engine. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and a tiny spinning wheel that's powered by a running rodent - a gerbil if the machine is a 286, a ferret if it's a 386 and a ferret on speed if it's a 486.
Default Directory -- Black hole. Default directory is where all files that you need disappear to.
Error message -- Terse, baffling remark used by programmers to place blame on users for the program's shortcomings.
File -- A document that has been saved with an unidentifiable name. It helps to think of a file as something stored in a file cabinet - except when you try to remove the file, the cabinet gives you an electric shock and tells you the file format is unknown.
Hardware -- Collective term for any computer-related object that can be kicked or battered.
Help -- The feature that assists in generating more questions. When the help feature is used correctly, users are able to navigate through a series of Help screens and end up where they started from without learning anything.
Input/Output -- Information is input from the keyboard as intelligible data and output to the printer as unrecognizable junk.
Interim Release -- A programmer's feeble attempt at repentance.
Memory -- Of computer components, the most generous in terms of variety, and the skimpiest in terms of quantity.
Printer -- A joke in poor taste. A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray and the blinking red light.
Programmers -- Computer avengers. Once members of that group of high school nerds who wore tape on their glasses, played Dungeons and Dragons, and memorized Star Trek episodes; now millionaires who create "user-friendly" software to get revenge on whoever gave them noogies.
Reference Manual -- Object that raises the monitor to eye level. Also used to compensate for that short table leg.
Scheduled Release Date -- A carefully calculated date determined by estimating the actual shipping date and subtracting six months from it.
User-Friendly -- Of or pertaining to any feature, device or concept that makes perfect sense to a programmer.
Users -- Collective term for those who stare vacantly at a monitor. Users are divided into three types: novice, intermediate and expert.
Novice Users -- People who are afraid that simply pressing a key might break their computer.
Intermediate Users -- People who don't know how to fix their computer after they've just pressed a key that broke it.
Expert Users -- People who break other people's computers.
* * * * * * * *