The Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group

The Status Register - May, 2000

This newsletter will never appear on CUCUG.ORG before the monthly CUCUG meeting it is intended to announce. This is in deference to actual CUCUG members. They get each edition hot off the presses. If you'd like to join our group, you can get the pertinent facts by looking in the "Information About CUCUG" page. If you'd care to look at prior editions of the newsletter, they may be found via the Status Register Newsletter page.
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May 2000

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May News:

The May Meeting

The next CUCUG meeting will be held on our regular third Thursday of the month: Thursday, May 18th, at 7:00 pm, at the Bresnan Community Center. Directions to the Bresnan are at the end of this newsletter.

The May 18 gathering will be one of our Social/Swap Meet style meetings. Refreshment will be provided. Bring in your conversation and any items you'd like to swap or sell and have a relaxed evening with you computer friends.


Welcome New Members

We'd like to welcome the newest member of our group, joining us in the last month: Earl Chessher (A4000, PowerMac).

We'd also like to welcome back returning members William R. Zwicky and Angelo C. Fraga.

We welcome any kind of input or feedback from members. Have an article or review you'd like to submit? Send it in. Have a comment? Email any officer you like. Involvement is the driving force of any user group. Welcome to the group.


"I Love You" email virus sacks computers

By The Associated Press
Special to CNET
May 4, 2000, 6:20 a.m. PT

HONG KONG--A computer virus spread by email messages titled "ILOVEYOU" infected Asian and European computers today, apparently hitting public relations firms and investment banks in Asia particularly hard.

The virus appeared in Hong Kong late in the afternoon, spreading throughout email systems once a recipient opened one of the contaminated messages.

Nomura International in Hong Kong was affected, an analyst there said, as was Nomura's London office. In Asia, Dow Jones Newswires and The Asian Wall Street Journal were among the victims.

"It crashed all the computers," said Daphne Ghesquiere, a Dow Jones spokeswoman in Hong Kong. "You get the message and the topic says 'ILOVEYOU,' and I was among the stupid ones to open it. I got about five at one time and I was suspicious, but one was from Dow Jones Newswires, so I opened it."

Once the message was opened, Ghesquiere said, it began sending the virus to other email addresses within Dow Jones' computers, blocking people's ability to send and receive email. Victims sometimes received dozens of emails, all contaminated.

"I have no idea how it got through the fire wall," Ghesquiere said. "It's supposed to be protected."

The virus was spreading in Europe as well. In Denmark, the parliament, telecom company Tele Danmark, channel TV2 and the Environment and Energy Ministry were all affected starting this morning.

"We have no clue how it got in," said Hugo Praestegaard of the Environment and Energy Ministry.

Credit Suisse First Boston issued a global email memo warning employees not to open the messages, said company representative Tom Grimmer in Hong Kong. He said the virus had not infiltrated the investment bank's computer system.


Love Bug Takes Huge Toll

Email worm attacks computers around the world.

ZDTV News- May 4, 2000

An insidious email-borne virus that chokes networks and devours music and graphics files has infected many of the world's corporations in a plague that's spread faster than the infamous, devastating Melissa bug.

By midday Thursday the so-called "ILOVEYOU" bug had struck tens of thousands of multinational corporate and government networks in Europe, Asia, and North America, and was spreading, as one virus watcher put it, "like wildfire."

What makes this email-borne bug so seductive, and potentially dangerous, is the simple "ILOVEYOU" subject line above the message, analysts say.

"People are a lot more curious about this than Melissa," Richard M. Smith, a Brookline, Mass.-based Internet consultant, told ZDTV News.

The "Love Bug" hit more than 200,000 mail hubs globally, infecting Britain's House of Commons; Switzerlands' Credit Suisse bank; the Pentagon; Congress, US military bases; the US Department of Agriculture; media mega-corp Time Warner; ABC; C-SPAN; ESPN; the Dallas Morning News; Fox and financial giant Merrill Lynch, Ford Motor Co., plus several Web firms.

The White House said it was "affected" but that operations are running "smoothly." The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center issued a warning and was investigating.

The vicious bug-- only 11kb, but once-unleashed, highly destructive-- mirrors the 1999 Melissa worm. It appears as an unsolicited .vbs file attached to email carrying the subject line "ILOVEYOU" and containing the body text, "kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me." Computer users who get the bug should simply delete the email without opening the attachment. You can also find virus-protection programs at ZDTV's Virus Special Report section.

The virus:

Like the Melissa "worm" virus, the "Love Bug" searches a computer for all files with the extensions JPG, JPEG, MP2, and MP3, as well as other lesser-used files, and replaces them with decoys of itself under the same name-- this time with the extension VBS. The Love Bug can worm its way through corporate firewalls because most are not built to resist attachments with a .txt.vbs extension.

All of the leading antiviral software firms have released free trial versions of fix programs that will protect a machine from such bugs, but will not allow you to recover lost files that have not been backed up.

The Love Bug also crawls across chat rooms through the popular mIRC chat tool. If you've been infected, you will spread the virus to other people in a room the next time you begin chatting.

Several news organizations reported the bug originated in the Philippines. Some say the suspect the author is a young male, likely a bored youth who unleashed the Love Bug without realizing its destructive impact.

Two lines in the virus code identify the author as "Spyder," part of the unknown "@GRAMMERsoft Group" from Manila. One script line says, "I hate go to school" and says of the virus's creation, "simple but I think this is good." The code is dated March 2000.

Smith predicted that within two to three days most email servers will be fixed with anti-"Love Bug" software, and the bug will stop spreading via email. Users can also configure Outlook to reject any message with the "ILOVEYOU" message.

But, he warned, the real threat will surface in two to three weeks, when infected computer users begin clicking on their own music and graphics files where the virus was hiding, lying dormant.

"It's the secondary damage that you don't even realize" at first, Smith said.


Officials find virus similar to "Love" on seized disk

By The Associated Press
Special to CNET
May 16, 2000, 7:15 a.m. PT

MANILA, Philippines--A computer diskette seized from the apartment of a Filipino student who said he may have accidentally released the "Love" computer virus contains a similar virus that apparently was written by another student, officials said today.

Michael Buen, the second student, claimed Sunday that he was not involved in the creation or release of the "I Love You" program that crippled email systems worldwide.

But the diskette also revealed a warning that investigators believe was written by Buen. It said: "If I don't get a stable job by the end of the month, I will release a third virus." Buen recently graduated from the Philippines' AMA Computer College.

The new virus, which was recovered from a deleted file on the diskette, was purportedly written by Buen, investigators said.

In its code it acknowledged Onel A. de Guzman, the student who admitted he might have released the "I Love You" virus, according to Elfren L. Meneses Jr., chief of the anti-fraud and computer crimes division of the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation.

De Guzman has declined to say whether he wrote the "I Love You" virus.

Buen was not at home when a reporter phoned seeking comment today, according to his mother, Emma Buen. The young man's lawyer did not return phone calls.

The virus on the diskette also acknowledged GrammerSoft, an underground group of computer students being sought in the investigation, Meneses said.

The diskette was one of 17 seized in a raid on the apartment where de Guzman lives with his sister and her boyfriend, who also became a focus of the investigation after authorities traced the outbreak of the virus to the apartment's phone line. The other 16 diskettes contained no incriminating evidence, Meneses said.

He said it is still too early to name a main suspect in the case or say whether criminal charges will be filed.

NBI officials revealed few details about the virus they had discovered or any new leads they might be pursuing as they scramble to learn the origins of the program that experts say will end up costing governments and businesses up to $10 billion worldwide.

Both the "I Love You" virus and the virus on the diskette were written in the Visual Basic programming language, said Nelson Bartolome, an official at the computer crimes division.

In another deleted file, the diskette also contained the names of more than 40 people, including some 30 students from AMA college, Meneses said. The NBI will start identifying and interviewing many of those people, he said.

Buen graduated from the college on May 5, the day after the "I Love You" virus was released, but de Guzman did not graduate because the faculty rejected a password-stealing program he had proposed as a thesis project. School officials have said the "I Love You" virus could have been made by combining that program with a separate thesis project written by Buen.

Not everyone whose name appears on the diskette will be questioned, however.

Some prominent Filipinos, including President Joseph Estrada, are included in the list, with Buen apparently joking that the president would be unlikely to provide him with a good reference.

Estrada has said he believes the Philippines should capitalize on its sudden notoriety as the probable birthplace of the "Love Bug" virus and become a key center for developing antivirus software.

Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas said Estrada proposed the idea in a private meeting last night. "We can specialize in protecting computer systems from the viruses," Roxas told government radio today.

The release of the "I Love You" virus has thrust a global spotlight on a young but thriving computer culture in the Philippines, which nonetheless remains a poor and largely technologically backward nation.

"Our software developers are very good," Roxas said. "We are not proud of what the virus author did, but we must harness their creativity."


Microsoft criticized for lack of software security

By Paul Festa and Joe Wilcox
Staff Writers, CNET
May 5, 2000, 4:15 p.m. PT

Look at it this way: The "Love" bug isn't a bug after all. It's a feature.

That's the wry analysis of security experts in the wake of the destructive global spread of the "I Love You" virus and its variants. They say the worm's lightning-fast spread is a perfect demonstration of Microsoft's powerful technologies working exactly as they were designed to operate.

The fundamental problem, these experts say, is a market-driven impulse to include as much functionality as possible in applications at the expense of security. While all companies face the same pressures from customers, none is as famous as Microsoft for yielding to it.

"At Microsoft, they always go for more functionality over security," said Gary McGraw, vice president of corporate technology at Reliable Software Technologies. "That's what the marketplace wants, because the marketplace isn't very educated about security. It's easy to sell products that aren't perfect to people who are ignorant. The customers' No. 1 job isn't security, it's getting their job done."

For its part, Microsoft insists it provides adequate security features but lets customers choose how much they need. "There's always a trade off between ease of use and security," said Scott Culp, a program manager with the software maker's security response center. "As a general rule, if you want to have higher security, you're going to take a bit of a cost in not being quite as easy to use. We provide features in all our products to let you decide where that balance is for you."

The origin of the current security quagmire lies in the development of computing applications that predate the widespread use of the Internet.

In designing desktop applications such as Word and Excel, Microsoft created individual scripts, or macros, for automating tasks within them. The software maker decided to create a common scripting language that all the disparate applications could understand, and it took the form of the Visual Basic programming language and its scripting language, VBScript.

These languages were a boon for Windows developers. They also wound up being the languages of choice for the author of the I Love You virus.

"What we've seen here is the result of adding a powerful language to applications that interface with the Internet, which is the source of dangerous data. It's a very dangerous combination," said Security Focus analyst Elias Levy, moderator of the Bugtraq security mailing list. "The scripting language makes a lot of sense with a lot of tasks on the desktop, but you have to be very careful when you interface them with something as dangerous as the Internet.

But Culp said blaming programming languages is an oversimplification of the real problem. "The issue here isn't scripting," he said. "It's the social phenomenon of virus writing.

"That virus could have been written as an executable or on any platform or in a nonscripting language. Just because this virus was written in a scripting language, and we happen to support scripting in our operating system, doesn't make it a security issue."

The problem also goes back to Microsoft's corporate philosophy and how it designs products. The software maker's success stems partly from its ability to tightly tie applications to each other and to its flagship Windows operating system. Word and Excel, for example, use not only common scripting languages but also common components that make them easier to use and customize.

But as Microsoft has increased the ties between applications and the operating system, particularly bundling Outlook with Office and hooking it to Internet Explorer, the company has created new security vulnerabilities, analysts say.

"Microsoft has built in the ideal virus transmission mechanism into the operating system," said Gartner Group analyst John Pescatore.

One problem is Outlook's extensive dependence on Visual Basic and the ways hackers can exploit it. Another is the ease with which scripts can manipulate Outlook's address book and also affect the operating system regardless of other security measures, such as password protection.

Viruses are a long-standing problem. In the past, system administrators contended with small windows of time during which infected files could get into their networks ahead of antivirus updates and be distributed by a few people, either inside or outside the organization.

"Now, with mechanisms built into Windows and Office, Microsoft is doing it for (virus writers)," Pescatore said. "Here is your address book, so send out the virus to everybody there at the speed of your CPU instead of relying on the person dumb enough to send infected email."

"If that were off by default, it would be a whole lot more secure," said Reliable's McGraw. "Having it on by default is typical of Microsoft's approach...In the case of the Love bug, it isn't even a bug. It's just insecurely designed. It's not badly designed; Microsoft intended for it to be that way."

Analysts say these recent outbreaks are similar to the Morris worm that a dozen years ago crippled Unix systems and brought down the young Internet. That virus exploited ties between Unix sendmail and the operating system to redistribute itself via people's address books, similar to what is happening with Outlook and Windows today.

Microsoft's critics frequently point to the Java programming language, developed by Sun Microsystems, as a security paragon--at least compared with Microsoft security methods.

"The Java approach is completely different," said McGraw, who is also co-author of a book on Java security. "It was designed to protect ignorant people from their own ignorance. And that may be a better model for the future economy, with everything computerized and software truly ubiquitous."

Java's security model works by establishing a so-called sandbox that limits the areas of the computer the code can manipulate. Microsoft's technologies, including Visual Basic and ActiveX--another frequent target of analysts' security gripes--rely on the "trust" model, leaving PC users to decide whether to grant incoming scripts and ActiveX components power over their computers.

"The people who designed Java wrote it so that you can run whatever you get as long as the model is perfect," said McGraw. "That leaves room for error. But Microsoft lets you decide whether to give over complete control. The I Love You thing is a perfect example of what happens when you give that control with two clicks of the mouse. It's incredible. That's all it takes to give away the keys to your computer."

Other analysts agreed that Microsoft has a lot to learn from Java.

"Visual Basic...and Active X are nowhere near the security posture of Java," Gartner's Pescatore said. "Java was designed with security in mind. Visual Basic was designed to allow novice users to build anything. C++ is not much better. (In) all programming languages until Java came along, most of the common ones were pretty insecure from a security perspective."

McGraw warned that as more things become computerized, the "trust" model will increasingly fail to protect people.

Although market forces will continue to pressure Microsoft and others to give security short shrift in favor of functionality, McGraw said he has some hope that the new exigencies of online commerce will exert pressures in the opposite direction.

"If you look at particular verticals, like the financial guys, they're getting much more particular about security," he said. "That's a harbinger for the future. As e-business really starts to happen, people are going to be paying much more attention and actually designing their stuff to be secure."


New evidence triggered DOJ action

Signs that Microsoft was still using Windows to muscle into new markets helped persuade antitrust enforcers that a breakup was necessary.

By John R. Wilke and Ted Bridis,
WSJ Interactive Edition - May 1, 2000 6:00 AM PT

WASHINGTON -- New evidence that Microsoft Corp. is continuing to use its Windows monopoly to muscle into new markets helped persuade state and federal antitrust enforcers to propose breaking up the software company, government officials said.

The Justice Department and 17 states asked a federal court Friday to slice the company into competing camps -- one armed with Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows operating-system software; the other with its widely used Office and other applications, plus Microsoft's Internet businesses. In addition, they asked the court to impose immediate and far-reaching restrictions on Microsoft's conduct to protect competition during expected appeals, which could delay any ruling by a year or more.

A breakup is the best way to address Microsoft's violations of the law, antitrust chief Joel Klein said Friday, because it would avoid "the heavy hand of ongoing government regulation." But officials also feared that Microsoft could evade restrictions on its conduct that fell short of a breakup, and alleged that even as the company was under extraordinary scrutiny in court, it continued to abuse its monopoly power.

In its recommendations to U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, the government cited evidence that Microsoft is designing Windows desktop software that works well only with its new "server" software, aimed at large corporate networks and Internet sites, where it still faces stiff competition. Officials also fear that Microsoft will add proprietary features to its Internet Explorer browser to tighten its control of the main on-ramp to the Internet for millions of consumers.

Microsoft is wielding its monopoly power in a third crucial market, in its attack on the popular Palm Pilot handheld computer with its own pocket-size version of Windows, the government said in another court filing. It cited a July 11, 1999, e-mail to senior executives from Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, that "indicated a willingness to change the details of its Office applications to favor devices that run on Windows, even if doing so disadvantages other customers who now rely on the Palm Pilot," officials said. The Gates e-mail was placed under court seal at Microsoft's request, officials said.

Out of touch?

Microsoft dismisses the government's claims, saying they weren't part of the case and ignore competition Microsoft faces. On Friday, Gates said the plan to break up the software empire he built more than two decades ago is "really out of bounds, out of touch with what's going on in our industry."

He said a breakup would hurt shareholders and sharply objected to separating Office from Windows, saying that "Microsoft could never have developed Windows under these rules. We couldn't have developed Windows, because without the great work of the Office team and the Windows team it never would have come together."

Gates also assailed proposed restrictions on Microsoft's business practices while a breakup is pending. "Even if you set aside the breakup, the conduct remedies are extreme regulation, unprecedented and far beyond anything in this case," he said.

Along with its proposed breakup plan, the government filed a brief on the broad theoretical foundation of the case. It argues that in the New Economy, the ebb and flow of innovation directly affects productivity and living standards. Microsoft sought to slow technological innovation that threatened its monopoly, in turn threatening this engine of economic growth, the government says. In a footnote, the brief also disclosed an internal Microsoft e-mail questioning the company's record of innovation.

"Let's face facts," said the e-mail, according to the government filing, which didn't identify the message's author, "innovation has never been Microsoft's strong suit. We're much better at ripping off our competitors." The message, which remains under court seal, cites examples -- including the basic Internet Explorer technology -- that were bought by Microsoft from smaller companies rather than developed internally.

Remedy hearing on May 24

Microsoft lawyers are preparing to file their objections to the government's plan on May 10 and have said they will ask for a fuller hearing on remedy, possibly delaying a ruling on the breakup plan by several months. Under the current schedule, Judge Jackson plans a remedy hearing for May 24 and has said he wants this final phase of the case concluded quickly so that his rulings may be reviewed as soon as possible by the appeals court, or directly by the Supreme Court.

Even if the judge accepts a breakup proposal, it faces uncertain prospects on appeal, where Microsoft says it will prevail. Indeed, Microsoft lawyers are confident that Judge Jackson's harsh April 3 ruling against the company in the landmark antitrust case will be the legal high-water mark for the government, which filed the case on May 18, 1998.

State officials also defended a breakup. "We have sought to look forward, not backward to punish the company, but forward to make sure that the market works as it should work," Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said.

The government's Wall Street consultants, investment bankers Greenhill & Co., filed a brief stating that a breakup is "feasible from a corporate, financial and capital-markets perspective." They suggested that the reorganization would be "similar to a number of transactions that have been successfully accomplished in recent business history," and that shareholders might benefit.

Rebecca Henderson, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who also filed a brief for the government, said shareholders might be hurt in the short run because the remedy would dilute Microsoft's ability to profit from its monopoly. But she said that after the separation, "the two companies will be uniquely positioned to compete vigorously and effectively in both new and existing markets, and in the long run Microsoft's stockholders may benefit from the explosion of innovation that will result from the pro-competitive effects of the remedy."

Natural breakup

The government said the proposed breakup roughly tracks Microsoft's own internal organization. The current Windows division, corresponding to the proposed Windows company, had 1999 revenue of $8.5 billion, while the applications and consumer units -- the second proposed company -- had revenue of $11.2 billion. Between them, they earned $7.8 billion last year, and share a cash hoard of more than $21 billion.

Another brief, by Paul M. Romer, a conservative economist at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University, outlined the theoretical underpinnings of the Justice Department's efforts. In a 33-page filing, he endorses a breakup along the lines that the government proposed, arguing that Microsoft's actions hurt innovation.

Dr. Romer is a proponent of "new growth theory," which analyzes how the rate of technological change is affected by incentives in the marketplace that are spurred or impeded by social institutions and the law. Over time, he explains, small differences in the rate of technological change can have enormous impact on standards of living.

"As a result, decisions about the law, and especially about antitrust law as it applies to high-technology industries, can be among the most important economic policy decisions that a society makes," he says.

Netscape's browser and the Java programming language from Sun Microsystems Inc. threatened to erode the wall Microsoft had built around Windows, and Microsoft engaged in a pattern of predatory acts to frustrate these innovations, the court found. Dr. Romer argues that because of these actions, "first, consumers did not get the innovative products the technology being developed by Netscape and Sun might have delivered. Second, Microsoft's predatory acts had a chilling effect on innovative efforts by all people who might have developed other software Microsoft found threatening."

A breakup probably won't be able to restore competitive conditions in place before Microsoft embarked on its efforts to thwart Netscape, now part of America Online Inc. and Sun, Dr. Romer says. "The market has moved on." But he says that a breakup could restore competition and the incentives for technological innovation, the rocket fuel of a network economy.

"Even small changes in the rate of innovation in this area can, over time, lead to large productivity gains and big improvements in the standard of living," he concludes.


Napster: Server Hog No More

The popular Internet music search engine says that it will make adjustments because of protests from college systems administrators.

ZDTV News - March 23, 2000

Controversial MP3 file-swapping program Napster announced that it is making changes to its software to reduce network traffic. The move is a concession to universities that banned the program because it was jamming their intranets.

The modifications, which were developed in conjunction with technicians from Indiana University, involve more "intelligent" computer searching techniques.

"We're trying to have users in the outside Internet not get files from users connected to Internet 2. There are two advantages to that," Eddie Kessler, vice president of engineering at Napster, told ZDTV News reporter, Erica Hill. "Transfers will be faster and more reliable and that schools connected to the Internet 2 backbone will see the traffic that was happening before be dramatically reduced."

Colleges started banning access to Napster on their networks earlier this year because it eats up bandwidth. In fact, on some campuses, students' music searches accounted for more than 60 percent of the traffic between the school system and the Internet.

"The nice thing about the solution is its completely general. Any school connected to Internet 2 will benefit from this solution and our hope is that universities who have blocked the use of Napster will now see we've come up with a solution to these bandwidth issues," Kessler told Reuters.

He added that he hopes that many colleges would no lift the ban as soon as the revisions showed results.

In fact, Indiana University announced that beginning early Saturday morning its students will once again be able to use it on the campus computer network, ending a month-long ban.

Meanwhile, copycats and hackers are hoping to cash in on Napster's popularity. A new program called Wrapster posted on the Internet this week, allows all sorts of files, not just MP3s, to be exchanged, including videos, games, and software.

A group of engineers working in a division of America Online briefly posted a Napster-like program called Gnutella. The ISP giant quickly yanked it off line, but copies survive on independent sites.

The popularity of Napster and its clones worries the entertainment industry and software makers.

In fact, the Recording Industry Association of America December filed suit against the Napster company for piracy. The music-swap software program provides no protections to prevent the illegal trade of copyrighted material.


Canadian police arrest suspect in major Web attacks

By Erich Luening
Staff Writer, CNET
April 19, 2000, 10:45 a.m. PT

Canadian police today said an arrest has been made in connection with a number of debilitating attacks on some of the Internet's most popular Web sites earlier this year.

A 15-year-old boy known online as "Mafiaboy" has been accused of launching the attacks that began last February. Canadian officials would not name the boy, because Canadian law prevents releasing the names of juvenile suspects.

Mafiaboy stated several times that he was responsible for the assaults on major Web sites in Internet chat rooms after the attacks, according to police.

The boy was arrested April 15. A complete search of his home followed, and all computers and computer equipment within the home were confiscated, Canadian officials said.

On April 17, a Canadian court charged the boy with a misdemeanor for specifically attacking CNN's Web sites during the week of February 7. Canadian officials did not say whether the CNN attacks would be the only charges brought against the boy.

The Web was rocked in February by an unprecedented series of attacks that temporarily blacked out half a dozen of the largest e-commerce and portal sites, drawing international attention.

Leading portal Yahoo was the first to be hit by a so-called distributed denial of service attack; e-commerce sites, eBay and, trading sites E*Trade and Datek Online, and CNN also were brought down by the attacks for a brief period of time.

In a denial of service attack, hackers use any number of computers to send a barrage of information requests to servers that host Web sites. The overwhelming stream of information often clogs a server network and paralyzes the site it hosts.

While the boy awaits trial, restrictions have been put in place by the court to prevent him from using computers or accessing the Web. He may no longer use a computer except for at school, where he must be in the presence of a school supervisor. He also is not allowed to use the Internet in any way and may not go into stores that sell computers or computer parts, Canadian officials said

Just days after the attacks occurred, FBI officials asked for the help of Canadian law enforcement to investigate a Montreal-based Internet service provider in an attempt to gather information about a suspected hacker that could have been involved in attacks on some of the Net's leading Web sites.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police questioned executives at ISP Internet Direct about a former subscriber with the Internet handle "Mafiaboy." This online name was the same one that several security experts had pointed to as a possible suspect in the denial of service attacks.

The Mafiaboy handle held two accounts on Delphi Supernet, a Montreal-based ISP that Internet Direct acquired last May.

The boy is being charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was expanded in 1996 to cover all computers used in commerce. It prohibits the unauthorized access of information and the transmission of anything that causes damage or facilitates fraud and extortion.

Penalties can include up to six months in jail or 10 years for a repeat offender and twice the gross monetary loss to the victim.

The danger of attacks such as the ones in February has grown in recent months because of the release of software that makes it easier to distribute and operate these remote attack tools. Tools with names such as Trinoo, Tribe Flood Network and Stacheldraht (German for "barbed wire") are widely available on the Web.


The Humor Section:

Is Windows a Virus?

No, Windows is not a virus. Here's what viruses do:

Until now it seems Windows is a virus but there are fundamental differences: Viruses are well supported by their authors, are running on most systems, their program code is fast, compact and efficient and they tend to become more sophisticated as they mature.

So Windows is not a virus ... It's a bug.


Common Ground:

EasyBuy2000 MPTrip Discman


Still in its youth, the portable MP3 player has provided a major dilemma for the early adopter contingent. Do I spend $200 on a 64MB media card to supplement the 30 minutes capacity on my 32MB card? Or do I buy a hard drive-based player for hundreds of dollars? Well, a company called EasyBuy2000 is distributing an affordable portable player that can play both regular audio CDs and CD-Rs (and CD-RWs) filled with MP3 files-- meaning memory becomes a moot issue. After a few days of hardcore use, we give the MPTrip four out of five stars.

The MPTrip looks like any other Discman-like portable CD player. It runs on two AA batteries and has an overall cheapness about it, mildly due to the fact that the device has no brand name splashed across its golden body. We actually chuckled to ourselves while pressing the shiny plastic function buttons. Does this thing work, much less play MP3 files?

Well, we soon found out that this $109 player was worth every penny. No need to mention its CD-playing abilities except for the fact that it boasts a 50-second anti-shock system that actually works, (We can't get the darn thing to skip.) The true beauty of the MPTrip is its ability to play a vast collection of MP3s, on average about 150 tracks per CD, in the same way you'd play traditional CD audio, only you're navigating through a library of tracks rather than an album.

Of course, you're going to need to burn 650MB worth of MP3 tracks (translation: over ten hours of near-CD quality music) first. The player doesn't come with any software so you'll have to find your own. We used the Music Match 5.0 method, encoding several albums of mine at a near-CD quality bit-rate of 128 Kbps, then burning them onto a CD-R that came with the MPTrip. This was a zippy process, mainly because we could only muster up two hundred and thirty megabytes worth of tracks. Still, that's 47 tracks of music, probably about eight times as many MP3s you could get on a measly 32MB SmartMedia card. We were eager to hear them.

Full PC-Capability Minus the Bulk

The device's button layout could be improved by making the tiny play button more prominent. And since you're dealing with dozens of tracks, there could be an improvement in the way they're accessed. Searching by track number can get confusing. These are minor quibbles, however.

A tiny LCD displays track number, track minutes elapsed, play mode, and battery level. The play modes include All, Intro (first 10 seconds of each song), Random, and a Dir mode which plays songs only from a selected directory. The directory is the same thing as a file folder full of MP3s. The user's manual (as well as the EasyBuy2000 spokesperson) is unclear about the directory and program functionality. Nevertheless, we found that it allows you to organize your tracks into playlists.

You can also choose from five preset EQs from Normal to Super Woofer. The included earbuds make both CDs and CD-Rs sound downright wimpy. Spring for a decent pair of headphones. It'll be well worth it.

The MPTrip has another trick up its sleeve. You can record a voice message by switching the unit from Player to Recorder and by plugging in an external microphone. Up to 500 seconds can be recorded internally, although subsequent messages are recorded on top of one another. The only problem is that your memo will barely be understandable due to the poor quality of the recorder.

There's a jack for a soon-to-be released remote control and a line out. Included in the package is an AC adapter that will charge Ni-Cad batteries (not included) and a grammatically poor and confusing users manual. Battery life hasn't been an issue. We've been operating the MPTrip on two alkalines for about seven hours and the battery indicator is still on full. A footnote: the player cannot read MP3s that exceed a 196 Kbps bit rate.

First of Kind

We've seen a couple CD or DVD/MP3 players, but they've been console components, only incrementally different from PCs from a portability standpoint. The MPTrip is the first of its kind we've seen and although initially dismissed as a cheesy portable, it gets serious functionality points. At $109, it's way cheaper than Hango's $800 personal jukebox, which incorporates a 4.8GB hard drive into its design. At roughly 17 cents a megabyte, both units offer exceptional value, especially considering the 32MB Nomad II costs over $6 per megabyte.

The MPTrip is portable, has good battery life, sounds good, and delivers a two-fisted punch with both CD and MP3 compatibility. It's also the first of its kind to hit the market. What more can an MP3 maven on the go ask for?

Summary: A portable CD player that plays MP3 files from CD-Rs.

Pros: The first we've seen of its kind; excellent memory capacity: one CD-R can play up to eleven hours of music at a near CD-quality bitrate of 128 Kbps; sounds good; cheaper than traditional portable MP3 players; good battery life

Cons: Confusing interface and user's manual; poor quality earbuds; poor memo recording quality

You can find the MPTrip Discman at


The PC Section:

Windows Millennium Edition Preview

Behind the familiar face of Windows 98, Microsoft's latest OS hides new features and lots of enhancements.

ZDNet- May 5, 2000

Despite its lofty-sounding name, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me for short) is less the operating system for the new century and more of an update to the Windows versions of the previous one.

On the surface, Windows Me looks nearly identical to Windows 98, and you have to look closely to spot the subtle changes in the desktop icons, Start menu, and Control Panel (many of which are borrowed from Windows 2000). Scratch beneath the surface, though, and you'll find a few new features and loads of little enhancements that will make Windows Me a compelling upgrade for most users.

These improvements fall into three general categories. First (and perhaps most important), Microsoft has added features that make the OS faster and more reliable. Windows Me should boot up more quickly, prevent you from deleting critical files, and, if your system really gets out of whack, even turn back time to restore your system to working order. Second, Windows Me makes it easier to set up home networks and share Internet connections through new wizards and improved hardware support. Finally, Windows Me has improved support for digital imaging and multimedia, with new applications for grabbing images from digital cameras, making your own movies, and tuning in to streaming audio and video (see our review of the beta version of Windows Media Player 7).

Microsoft has been mum on when exactly you'll find Windows Me in stores, aside from saying it will be sometime in the second half of this year.


The Macintosh Section:

Release schedule postponed for new Mac OS

By Ian Fried
Staff Writer, CNET
May 15, 2000, 2:35 p.m. PT

SAN JOSE, Calif.--A final version of Apple Computer's Mac OS X won't come out until early next year, although the effect of an apparent delay to the release schedule will be minimal, according to analysts.

Chief executive Steve Jobs said at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., today that Apple will release a "public beta" of its next operating system for desktops this summer containing a futuristic interface called "Aqua," with a final version to arrive early in 2001.

This appears to represent a postponement of a final version of the OS by approximately six months, although the schedule will allow users to gain access to upcoming technology. In January, Jobs said Apple would release a commercial version of Mac OS X by the middle of this year.

A press release from the company at the time stated: "Mac OS X will go on sale as a shrink-wrapped software product this summer and will be pre-loaded as the standard operating system on all Macintosh computers in early 2001."

The terminology being used gives Apple plenty of wiggle room--it's not clear precisely how a "public beta" differs from a "commercial release." Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, said nothing has changed. The public beta is merely the official name for the product Apple spoke about in January.

Nonetheless, some of the marketing and channel issues surrounding the upcoming OS are now in flux. Schiller said Apple has not determined whether the public beta will come out as a shrink-wrapped product or whether Apple will charge for it. In January, Apple stated that the product would be sold as a boxed product.

The difference is crucial in how the product can be characterized. Typically, software firms don't charge for beta versions, but they do charge for final, boxed software. Schiller added that, to his knowledge, Apple has not charged for beta versions before. Beta software is also rarely, if ever, put in shrink-wrapped boxes. Giving the public beta away for free could indicate the product that emerges wasn't the same product Apple contemplated earlier.

But in the end, one thing is clear: Customers will not be able to buy a final version of the OS until next year. Similarly, Microsoft and the Linux community earlier postponed core OS products.

Jobs, nonetheless, was buoyant and stated that the company remains on track.

"We are on schedule to do this," Jobs said. "This is real…We're going to put everything we have behind marketing OS X."

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is working to minimize any damage from the delay, however. After the public beta arrives, Apple is still committed to start pre-loading the OS on desktops by early 2001.

Under the earlier calendar, Apple said it planned to release a final version of the OS in the summer of 2000 and to start pre-loading it on systems in early 2001.

The company also released a new beta version of the software for developers today. This marks the fourth beta version.

Financial analysts downplayed any effect of the delay. Although some had hoped Apple would release a public beta version today, J.P. Morgan analyst Daniel Kunstler said he was impressed, even surprised, by Apple's progress.

"Overhauling an operating system is a pretty complicated thing," Kunstler said.

This isn't the first delay to the OS. Last year at the developer's conference, Jobs said that it was being delayed from late 1999 to early 2000.

"A public beta of Mac OS X will be available this summer, enabling customers to experience Apple's next-generation operating system firsthand. The final version 1.0 of Mac OS X will be available in January 2001," the company said in a statement. "Mac OS X is designed to run on all Macintosh computers using PowerPC G3 and G4 processor chips and requires a minimum of 64MB of memory."

As expected, there were no major hardware announcements. However the 3,000-plus developers who ran into the convention hall and pushed their way to the front still got quite a show.

In one of many demos, Jobs showed a utility designed to crash the system. The "Bomb App" itself did crash, but a QuickTime movie that was playing continued without a hitch. Speaking of QuickTime, Apple promised a new version of the multimedia software this summer.

Jobs showed a trailer for "X-Men" running with the new software, which is capable of playing MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 movies from either a local file or streamed over a network.

Responding to criticism that early developer previews weren't enough like previous Mac interfaces, Jobs showed ways that new features can be hidden to make the operating system more like its predecessors.

"It's exactly like the Mac Finder today, if that's the way you want it," Jobs said.

Apple also trotted out Adobe president Bruce Chizen, who showed off an OS X version of desktop publishing application InDesign, and Sun president Ed Zander, who praised Apple for its independent spirit.

"I haven't been to a Jobs revival in a number of years," Zander said as he addressed the overflow crowd. While telling the masses he was under no obligation to praise their leader, he did so anyway.

"Steve and his team give meaning to the words 'vision,' 'focus' and 'execution,'" Zander said. "There's no doubt innovation is back. Choice is back."

The gaming crowd was excited to see an OS X version of Quake and even more excited by the news that SGI's Alias Wavefront unit is finally releasing a Mac port of its 3D animation program, Maya.

Analysts were largely positive on Jobs' speech and the apparent commitment from big name developers.

"They've done a very good job of getting in touch with the developer community," said David Bailey, a financial analyst with Gerard Klauer Mattison.

Kunstler said Jobs' aggressive pitch to developers to start porting their code is a sign that Apple is fully behind the new operating system.

"I think it's a commitment that the (developers) are not going to get strung out," he said.

In other news, Jobs announced that Apple is slashing the price for its WebObjects development program from $50,000 to $699 for an unlimited transaction, single-server license.

'We'd like 30,000 or 300,000 customers, and there aren't that many that can pay $50,000," Jobs said. "We've decided to make a change and put this awesome tech in hands of a lot of people."


Hot Crossed Plugs

by Adam C. Engst (

In last week's quiz, we asked: "Into which of the following ports should you never plug a device while the Macintosh is turned on." Of the over 2,200 responses, 64 percent chose the correct answer, which is SCSI, with 29 percent being fooled by the so-close-it- hurts wrong answer of ADB. A few percent guessed incorrectly at the serial port and Ethernet, but we're pleased very few people guessed at USB and FireWire. Let's look at the answers, along with a few possibilities we kept out of the possible answer set to avoid confusion. Keep in mind that details vary between specific Macintosh models, so check your owner's manual for the final word (Apple makes all old manuals available online, in case you've lost yours). TidBITS Talk also covered additional details of interest.

One brief aside: The question has come up as to whether or not a PowerBook is "turned off" when it's in sleep mode. Apple seems to consider a sleeping PowerBook sufficiently turned off most of the time, but SCSI devices are a notable exception, particularly with older PowerBooks.


You can plug all sorts of things into a Mac, but SCSI is the only quiz answer we offered that we can guarantee is not safe to plug in or unplug while your Mac is running. There is a difference between "safe" and "possible," of course, and we're not denying that it's possible to plug or unplug SCSI devices without powering down. According to Apple, "always turn off the Macintosh and all peripherals before attaching or detaching any cables or devices or changing SCSI ID numbers."

Here are the problems - special thanks for these details goes to Sentient Software's David Shayer, who has developed several disk recovery programs. SCSI connectors weren't designed to prevent pins from touching anything other than the matching pin, so it wouldn't be hard to connect the wrong data lines or cause a short. If you're adding a device to a SCSI chain, it will probably go on the end of the chain, which means you'd have leave the SCSI chain without termination while providing termination to the new last device. Next, every SCSI device must have a unique ID number on the chain from 0 to 7. If two devices are assigned the same ID number, a SCSI ID conflict results and the Mac may refuse to boot or display other problems. However, if the Mac is on and you attached a hard disk that caused a SCSI conflict, it's possible that the Mac OS would write out the master directory block to the wrong device, trashing the correct one and causing data loss. Finally, unlike USB and FireWire, SCSI doesn't automatically load drivers for new devices, though you can get around this using utilities like Robert Polic's free SCSIProbe.

If you're really interested in plugging and unplugging SCSI devices more safely, TidBITS sponsor APS Technologies sells the APS SCSI PowerPlug for precisely this purpose. It provides a switch that electronically isolates the device you're adding or removing from the SCSI bus and interrupts the term power line inside the PowerPlug so termination remains active. Two versions are available, the SCSI PowerPlug II with active termination for use at the end of the SCSI chain, and the SCSI PowerPlug NT without termination for use anywhere in the chain other than the end. Both cost $50 and are available from APS's catalog (call 800/374-5688 or 816/483-6100), though not their Web site.

Further, Apple recommends that you don't turn SCSI devices on or off while other devices in the SCSI chain are running, and some SCSI devices must be powered up before you turn on the Mac. Despite this recommendation, people with SCSI-based scanners, for instance, are used to turning their scanners on only if they plan to use them to preserve the light bulb and reduce power consumption. Damage is unlikely from toggling power to a SCSI device while the Mac is on, though doing so could confuse the Mac and potentially require a restart. Remember that if you want to shut off an external hard disk while the Mac is turned on, it's extremely important to dismount the disk by dragging it to the Trash before cutting power. Otherwise, you risk significant data corruption.


Okay, we're sorry: this was our trick answer. Many long-time Macintosh users know ADB devices shouldn't be plugged in or unplugged while the Macintosh is running because you risk blowing out the ADB controller if you cross pins that carry power - and the only official way to fix that is to get an expensive new motherboard. However, although this advice is generally true and certainly bears heeding, it's not _always_ true. Apple's PowerBook G3 Series - one of the last machines to ship with ADB ports - enabled hot-swapping of ADB devices, as noted in the developer documentation linked below. (The manuals that came with those machines also imply swapping ADB devices was not a problem.) Also, some machines like the PowerBook 5300 included circuitry which would protect the PowerBook by shutting down ADB if devices drew too much power. Macintosh_CPUs-G3/PowerBookG3Series.pdf

Despite recommendations against plugging or unplugging ADB, it is something that many people do at least occasionally. If you're in that category, be very careful with the plugs so as not to cross any pins.


Serial devices (including LocalTalk networks) can be plugged in or unplugged at any time. However, even though there's no physical danger to your Mac, some software might expect a particular device to be available at all times - such as a fax modem that's set up to receive faxes automatically, or a serial printer shared on a local network. And, of course, if you unplug a LocalTalk network, no services on that network will be available, which might cause the Mac to complain, or running applications to complain or even crash, depending on what you were doing.

The GeoPort serial interface on some Macs has a ninth pin which is powered, and there was some question about whether or not plugging or unplugging a device could damage the Mac or the device. However, Apple notes that if the GeoPort Telecom Adapter starts emitting a clicking noise, you could "unplug the adapter for a few seconds" to resolve the problem, which certainly implies that it's acceptable to plug and unplug that specific GeoPort device.


All flavors of Ethernet from 10Base-T and 100Base- T to the older thin Ethernet (10Base-2), thick Ethernet (10Base- 5), and Apple's proprietary AAUI built-in Ethernet can be safely plugged in or unplugged at any time - although, of course, you will interrupt any services using Ethernet. Also, some old-style Ethernet networks set up in a daisy-chain topology might stop working temporarily, experience noise, or display other problems if you suddenly disconnect machines from them. However, there's no physical danger to the Mac or the network. As with LocalTalk networks, the loss of services on an Ethernet network may confuse or even crash applications on the Mac.


USB devices are designed to be hot-swappable, both with regard to their connectors and the way USB drivers can load automatically. That's one of the reasons Apple switched to USB from ADB for things like mice and keyboards - and they even brag about it. As with SCSI, if you're disconnecting a USB-based hard disk from your Mac, make sure to dismount it first or risk data corruption.


Like USB, it's safe to connect and disconnect FireWire devices from your Mac at any time - it's one of the features of the technology which Apple promotes aggressively, and both the design of the connector and the way that FireWire drivers can load automatically support this. However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record (now there's an analogy that isn't long for this world), if you want to disconnect a FireWire-based hard disk, make sure to dismount it first.

Audio Input/Output

Although Apple recommends turning off all equipment when connecting audio input or output devices, there's little danger from plugging in or unplugging audio devices from microphone jacks, audio inputs, or speaker jacks on your Mac. The main thing to remember is to turn down the levels on all equipment before making connections, so you don't inadvertently overdrive or blow out a speaker. It _is_ possible to damage these ports by connecting inappropriate equipment - we know a bassist who blew out audio inputs on a Power Mac 8500 by connecting the amp output from his 300 watt amp. However, these instances aren't the Macintosh's fault: we're sure most ports don't like to be hooked up to household electrical current either.


Video is a tricky issue, which is why we didn't include it in the quiz. Although Apple's documentation always recommends connecting monitors and video equipment with the power off, the manuals don't warn of any potential damage (as they do with SCSI, for instance). Some Macs won't boot without a monitor or video adapter connected, and Timbuktu Pro (which is commonly used to control headless Macs) requires that there be at least a video adapter present so the Mac knows what resolution to provide. Plus, although we're not willing to try this, it would seem that unplugging one monitor and plugging in could cause problems if the two operate at different refresh rates or resolutions. It's easier to shut down, and those of us who run headless Macs as servers are accustomed to pressing the Power key, then the Return key to shut the Mac off from the keyboard.

If you want to connect an external monitor to a PowerBook, either shut the PowerBook down or put it to sleep first, or else it won't recognize the presence of the other monitor.

PC Cards

PC Cards, the credit-card-sized expansion cards generally used with PowerBooks, can be inserted and removed while the Mac is turned on, although the Mac may not be able to recognize the card if the necessary drivers haven't been loaded at startup. To eject a card, drag its desktop icon to the Trash or choose Put Away from the Special menu to eject it gracefully (on some models you may also have to press an eject button on the case).

Backup, Backup, Backup

We've tried to pass along the recommended approaches to working here, but as we implied with the comment about the difference between "safe" and "possible," even we don't always follow our own advice here. On TidBITS Talk, Alex Hoffman jokingly accused me of being wimpy for recommending that people not hot-swap devices, but the fact is that I hot-swap ADB devices all the time, plus turn SCSI devices on and off while the Mac is turned on. I ignore my own advice in this regard because much of my old hardware has essentially no value, and I back up religiously. Sure, I'd be sad if I blew the motherboard on my SE/30 by fiddling with an ADB connector, but I could restore its entire set of services to another machine within 15 minutes based on the previous night's backup.

So if you want to take the risk of frying some hardware, at least make sure you have a current backup first. You'll still be sorry if you lose a motherboard, but at least your data won't be jeopardy as well.


The Amiga Section:

Explanation for being down for a weekend

From: Gary Peake ( - Wed, 10 May 2000

With regards to the server problems over the weekend and all the hoopla at Moo Bunny and other places ...

I was the contact for our ISP when server problems arose. I had a major [auto] accident, was without phone service and not really able to deal with it in any case. Server went down over the weekend. (Their problem, not ours, no love bug virus, etc ... just a typical hardware problem).

The server is ours and they have to get contact to reboot. I was not there to contact.

We now have several people on backup for problems. Problem is solved and behind us.

It was my fault. I never thought to have a backup list of contacts. I have that now and all is well.

Just so you know ...


Gary Peake
Director - Support
Amiga Inc.


More on the Amiga DevBox Specification

Gary Peake (
Director - Support, Amiga Inc.

Check out and . With Tyan look at the S1598C2 Trinity ATX board. Any brand that fits those basic specs will work. You can even grab a 512K cache board rather than the 2 meg board I have. You can actually buy the Tyan and ASUS boards online from the sites I gave you above. I think FIC also makes one but I don't have a link to them. Gigabyte should also have a socket 7 2x AGP board? Gigabyte GA-5AX mobo is devbox friendly.

Those that have any AGP slot at all, seem all 2xAGP for years, AFAIK.

NVidia GeForce or Matrox G400 video card. Get the 32MB G400, not the 16MB one. GeForce for the graphics developers, G400 for the non-graphics application developers.

SoundBlaster PCI 16 sound card

AMD K6-2 or 3 400mhz plus

128 megs of RAM.

The linux setup is a typical Red Hat install except we kill any drivers, etc not needed just to save space and no other reason.

Last I heard was that the developer boxes are going to ship with a 13GB 7200RPM Ultra IDE HDD. It will have a 13 GByte harddisk. Why so? Because it's the smallest you can buy at this point in time, sort of.


Amiga Developer System News

Czech Amiga News - May 16, 2000

Glacis Technologies has announced the imminent and long-awaited arrival of the Amiga Developers System (ADS) for the Next Generation Amiga. Glacis has received word from Amiga Inc that they are due to go into production during the week of 21 May, 2000 and are expected to arrive at Glacis Technologies in the first half of June, 2000.

Glacis Technologies website -


The CUCUG Section:

April General Meeting

reported by Kevin Hopkins (

The April 20, 2000 General meeting began with President Jim Lewis introducing the club officers, your contact people for help if you need any.

Jim talked about his trip to Comdex. He said it was not a very worthwhile trip. Nothing new for the PC. Nothing for the Macintosh either really.

Jim noted that the Stock Market had gotten whacked as a result of the Microsoft anti-trust decision. Kevin Hisel, responding to the comment that Microsoft is an evil monopoly, asked "If Microsoft is a monopoly of Intel based platforms, isn't Apple a monopoly of PowerPC hardware?" Richard Rollins tried to point out the magnitude of Microsoft's sins, but Kevin Hopkins noted that there are probably a few people at Motorola, Power Computing and Umax that would take a dim view of Apple's treatment of the Apple clone market.

Returning to his report on Comdex, Jim said the show was about one third smaller than the one last year and the Linux section at the show was about three times bigger this year. Jim said he saw a version of Quake running on Linux that was just great. He also said that of the Windows applications being shown a third of them were "Ecommerce solutions." He said the show was well attended on the Tuesday (the second day of the show) that he went. Jim concluded by speculating that because Ziff-Davis owns Comdex and because they've gone world wide with the shows, they've watered down the attendance at the Chicago event.

The floor was then opened up for Questions and Answers. Someone had a PC question, reporting that their PC crashed while playing MAME. Now the machine won't boot. It has a black screen and it is beeping. The beeping was diagnosed as the BIOS beep code. The beeps need to be interpreted to find out what they are saying. Kevin Hisel asked if he was running TweekUI or any other type of Sun mouse utility; Kevin said these types of utilities drive MAME nuts. After more discussion, it was learned that the problem developed after about 15 minutes of operation. Our experts started zeroing in on the video card. Our subject said he had a Rage Fury 32 with 32 MB of RAM. Jim said these cards are notorious for overheating. Running them without a fan for around fifteen minutes generates all kinds of heat and all kinds of problems.

Kevin Hisel reported that AT&T was very good at setting up appointments for installing cable modems. However, their ability to delivery a reliable product leaves something to be desired. Kevin said, when it worked, the speed was breathtaking. He was consistently getting 150K/sec downloads. That's equal to a full T1 connection. His record was a 430K/sec download, but he said that might have been the result of AT&T's aggressive caching of frequently referenced material, so it would have come straight off their server, rather than the Internet as a whole. As a cautionary note, however, Kevin said there are two other guys he knows of who are getting 25K and 35K/sec - not so good. Jack Melby offered his testimonial, saying he was getting around 327K/sec at 3 AM. The bottom line: your results may vary. The charge for a cable modem connection is $40 a month, above and beyond your regular phone bill.

Emil Cobb was having a printing problem that the others in attendance diagnosed as a preferred memory size problem. He was toying with an Epson Print Monitor and an HP Print Monitor. Richard Rollins said if he's using the Epson one he should get rid of the Desktop printer, as there are known conflicts there.

Norris Hansel had some MP3 questions, which lead to a discussion of hardware and software decoders on DVD drives in Apple machines. During the MP3 phase of the talk, the names and cropped up.

President Lewis rapped up the general section of the meeting by asking Jack Melby what the Mac SIG would be doing this evening. Jack offered that the Mac SIG would be learning about the ViaVoice dictation software from IBM. He retold his funny story of a letter of recommendation he wrote for a former student using ViaVoice. The student's name was Genaro Mendez (pronounced Hin-ar-o Men-dez). ViaVoice first interpreted it as "Hand Our Old Man Dead." Jack said it learns very quickly though.

Jim said the WinSIG would be reviewing the first Beginner's CD for the PC, created by our own Dave Witt. Jack Melby chimed in that the Mac SIG would have a Beginner's CD to go over as well. With that, we took a break.

The Macintosh SIG: Jack Melby shows the Mac CD and ViaVoice

reported by Kevin Hopkins (

Jack Melby began the Mac SIG meeting by debuting the first "Macintosh Starter Disk," a CD of freeware and shareware programs that no Mac user should be without. The preponderance of this 91.9 MB treasure trove was freeware material (79.3 MB). Jack put a lot of effort into the selection and compilation of this disk and everyone made their appreciation known. Jack, promising future updates to the disk, then set about showing some of the goodies he had for us.

From the freeware directory, Jack showed Aladdin's Stuffit Expander 5.5 (a well known decompression utility), AutoPurge (a "Temporary Items" folders cleanser for OS9), and Installer Observer (a lovely utility that actually tells you what those mysterious Installers put on your machine and where).

Next, came the Internet applications. Jack included Netscape Communicator 4.72 (which comes with Stuffit Expander 5.1.3 which is not OS9 compatible). He also included two versions of Internet Explorer (versions 4.5 and 5.0) on the CD. He said some people like 4.5 better. He included Microsoft Internet Self-Repair (or M.I. First Run) which addresses "some issues." Jack talked a little about Nifty Telnet, another Internet app included.

Under Miscellaneous, Jack gave us John's Commands 2.1, Mac F2C (a Fortran to C translator), a collection of Sherlock channels, and PicPops 1.1 (an image viewer).

As contribution of his own Jack gave us Remote Access Toggle, a little AppleScript application that he wrote himself.

Utilities included are SCSIProbe 5.1.1 and TechTool 1.2.1.

The freeware portion of the CD closes with BBEdit Lite 4.6, Acrobat Reader 4.05, and WordPerfect 3.5 Enhanced.

In the Shareware section of the disk, Jack had DropStuff (the file compressor), Alias Helper (a utility that hunts down detached aliases and lets you fix or delete them), Desktop Resetter 2.2.1 (a simple program used to remember and restore the icon and window locations and sizes on the Desktop should anything evil befall them), FileTyper 5.4 (the classic "drop box" program for quickly changing types, creators, attribute flags and date stamps of files), FinderPOP 1.8.4 (a contextual Menu enhancer), and GraphicConverter 3.8US (a killer graphics tool).

Needless to say, the copies of the "Macintosh Starter Disk" Jack brought were quickly snapped up.

Jack then turned to his demonstration of ViaVoice. The first thing he was asked was how much memory ViaVoice uses. Querying "More About This Macintosh" with MacFixIt, we learned ViaVoice was using 4.4 MB. Jack was demoing version 1.0.2 which he said was about 6 months old. The cost of ViaVoice is $74.99.

Jack showed the macros in ViaVoice and how easy they are to create. He showed also its voice profiles.

Jack told us that ViaVoice gets used to your voice, the environment you work in, and the microphone you use. Change any of these and you introduce some problems into the equation. Although we were in a different room than Jack normally uses ViaVoice, it seemed to work relatively well. Jack said that with 20 minutes to an hour of training you can get it to work really well. To train ViaVoice, you have to read it three chapters of Treasure Island. There are other choices of training material, but Treasure Island is probably the most palettable for the user.

Jack noted that there are things ViaVoice has trouble with - "it's" or "its" for example. And yet, sometimes it gets it right.

For this evening's "Name to throw ViaVoice a curve", Jack chose a character from Gilbert and Sullivan, Cholmondeley St. John (pronounced Chumbley St, John). ViaVoice guessed it to be "Charlie ascension." Jack then showed how to go to the correction window in order to teach ViaVoice how to learn.

Another valuable feature of ViaVoice is its ability to share its data. Jack showed how to export your dictation to other applications, such as your word processor.

With the conclusion of the formal demonstration, conversation turned to a discussion of defragging hard drives. Jack said he uses DiskWarrior to maintain his directory structure, then TechTool Pro to actually defrag his drive.

One last recommendation before the evening ended was Jack's statement that "Fax Elite is the best Fax program I've ever used."

There you have it. All in all, an information packed evening.


April Board Meeting

reported by Kevin Hopkins (

The April meeting of the CUCUG executive board took place on Tuesday, April 25, 2000, at 7PM, at Kevin Hisel's house. (For anyone wishing to attend - which is encouraged, by the way - the address and phone number are both in the book). Present at the meeting were Jim Lewis, Dave Witt, Emil Cobb, Mike Latinovich, Richard Hall, Charles Melby-Thomas, Jack Melby, Kevin Hopkins, Kevin Hisel and Jim Huls.

Jim Lewis: Jim said there had been a lot of interest shown in the PC SIG thanks to the presentation of our new Beginner's CD, put together and shown by Dave Witt. (Thanks, Dave.)

Dave Witt: Dave stated that the only difficulty he encountered was the need to pre-install his software picks on the club's PC before his demonstration. He said starting next month all the software will be installed ahead of time. Dave then talked about how he's going to do future disks. He concluded by asking our PC users to email him with any suggestions they have for inclusion on upcoming CDs.

Emil Cobb: Emil reported that we had 23 members in attendance at the last meeting. There was a discussion about next month's activities. We've done social/swap meets three times a year: May, September, and December. Next month's meeting will be a social.

Mike Latinovich: Mike confessed he'd been pretty busy in the last few months, but he hoped he'd be able to attend next month's meeting.

Richard Hall: Rich gave his customarily thorough Treasurer's report.

Charles Melby-Thomas: Charlie gave a brief run down of the Mac SIG's examination of ViaVoice and the new Mac Beginner's CD at the last meeting.

Jack Melby: Jack said he was happy to announce that Stuffit Deluxe had just been upgraded to include support for its two Icelandic users. Everyone laughed.

He then discussed his recent presentation of ViaVoice in a little more detail. Dave Witt commented on the abilities of Naturally Speaking. Jack said that product is not available on the Mac yet.

Kevin Hopkins: Kevin delivered the copy of the club's membership database for Kevin Hisel's use.

Kevin Hisel: Kevin stated that he liked the PC disk presented at the WinSIG. There was a general discussion on the topic of libary disks. Kevin got the nickname of "Bandwidth Boy" thanks to his new cable modem. At this point in time, it flies. Kevin said he'd keep us posted as the number of users on the line increases.

Jim Huls: Jim said, "It's nice to be back." He said he'd sat in on the WinSIG meeting and it was good.


The Back Page:

The CUCUG is a not-for-profit corporation, originally organized in 1983 to support and advance the knowledge of area Commodore computer users. We've grown since then.

Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Bresnan Meeting Center in the Champaign Park District Headquarters (398-2550). The Center is located at 706 Kenwood, 1/2 block south of the corner of Kenwood and John Street, in west Champaign. Kenwood is the fourth north-south street off of John as you are going west, after crossing Mattis. The Center is in the northwest corner of Centennial Park, northwest of Centennial High School.

Membership dues for individuals are $20 annually; prorated to $10 at mid year.

Our monthly newsletter, the Status Register, is delivered by email. All recent editions are available on our WWW site. To initiate a user group exchange, just send us your newsletter or contact our editor via email. As a matter of CUCUG policy, an exchange partner will be dropped after three months of no contact.

For further information, please attend the next meeting as our guest, or contact one of our officers (all at area code 217):

   President/WinSIG:   Jim Lewis                359-1342 
   Vice-President:     Emil Cobb                398-0149  
   Secretary/Editor:   Kevin Hopkins            356-5026     
   Treasurer:          Richard Hall             344-8687  
   Corporate Agent:    Jim Lewis                359-1342 
   Board Advisor:      Richard Rollins          469-2616
   Webmaster:          Kevin Hisel              406-948-1999           khisel @
   Mac SIG Co-Chair:   John Melby               352-3638
   Mac SIG Co-Chair:   Charles Melby-Thompson   352-3638

Surf our web site at

912 Stratford Dr.
Champaign, IL