News Humor Common PC Linux Mac Amiga CUCUG
The December 20 gathering will be our Annual meetings. We will be electing officers for next year and sharing a doughnut or two. Dave Witt has promised to bring in his new Xbox to show off. Come and enjoy an evening with some new toys and some old friends.
We'd also like to thank renewing members John Melby, Charles Melby-Thompson, Elaine Avner, and Norris Hansell. We also like to express our appreciation to our Lifetime members Kevin Hisel and Richard Rollins.
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. The CUCUG roster for 2002 grows apace. We'd love to have you with us.
Apple's Mac OS X 10.1.1 update, released 13-Nov-01 via the Software Update mechanism, rolls a number of fixes and improvements into Apple's new operating system. The update adds unspecified improvements to many USB and FireWire devices, recognizes more digital cameras, and improves CD and DVD burning. Networking has been tweaked as well, with changes made to the operation of AFP, SMB, and WebDAV protocols (including a fix to the iDisk/ WebDAV security hole mentioned in "Mac OS X 10.1 Security Issues Fixed" in TidBITS-602_, although Apple has once again failed to update their own Security Updates page in a timely fashion). The Finder and Mail applications are also improved (again in unspecified ways), as is printing support. Hardware accelerated video mirroring has also been enabled for the latest PowerBook G4. The update is available only from the Software Update preferences panel and is a 14 MB download. According to Apple, you must previously have installed the Installer Update 1.0, released 08-Nov-01 via Software Update as well, to perform this latest Mac OS X update. [JLC]
Apple last week updated Mac OS 9 with little fanfare or documentation. According to Apple's Web site, the Mac OS 9.2.2 Update "improves Classic application compatibility in Mac OS X and delivers support for Macintosh systems that are based on the PowerPC G3 or G4 processor." The update is available through the Software Update control panel, or can be downloaded separately from Apple's Web site as a 21 MB disk image. The update is available in North American and International English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch versions, and requires Mac OS 9.2.1 and a Macintosh with a PowerPC G3 or G4 processor, excluding the original PowerBook G3. Initial user reports on sites like MacInTouch and MacFixIt have revolved around problems with unrecognized FireWire devices, loss of video resolutions, and Open Firmware booting. Solutions generally involve resetting the PRAM, and in the cause of Open Firmware booting problems, defragmenting so the System Folder is in the first 8 GB of the hard disk. As always, make sure you have a current backup before installing. [JLC]
With today's release of Microsoft Office X for Mac OS X, one of the major hurdles to mainstream use of Mac OS X has been crossed. Along with the new features we mentioned in "Microsoft Office 10's Carrot and Stick" in TidBITS-591_, Word X boasts an improved Data Merge Manager that can use the Office address book as a data source, Excel X promises an improved List Manager, and PowerPoint X offers multiple slide masters, multiple language support, and support for QuickTime transitions. Entourage X has changed the most, and it now retains formatted text when pasting from other Office documents, offers a recently used address list, provides a redesigned calendar interface, supports international address formats, works with the Keychain, handles changes in time zones, offers improved performance, and supports rich content within messages, signatures, and notes. Microsoft Office X requires a PowerPC G3-based Mac or better with at least 128 MB of RAM and 196 MB of disk space running Mac OS X 10.1. It costs $500 for a new copy, with each individual application at $400. Upgrade pricing is a bit complex; to upgrade from Office 2001, Office 98, Word 2001 + Entourage 2001 Special Edition, or any individual Office application costs $300. However, through 18-Jan-02, upgrades from Office 2001, Word 2001 + Entourage 2001 Special Edition, or any individual Office 2001 application costs only $150. Upgrades to any individual Office application from a 2001 or 98 version also cost $150. For anyone who purchases Office 2001 between 24-Oct-01 and 31-Dec-01, a free upgrade to Office X is available via Microsoft's Technology Guarantee program. If you don't own Office at all, or you own a version older than Office 98, the Technology Guarantee program is a good way to get a copy of Office 2001 for Mac OS 8.1 and higher along with Office X for Mac OS X. [ACE]
Connectix Corporation last week shipped the latest version of Virtual PC, their Pentium emulation software for running Windows (and other PC operating systems) on a Macintosh. Virtual PC 5.0, which is available right away bundled with either Windows 98 or PC-DOS, runs in both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X, and takes advantage of multiprocessor Macs under Mac OS X. The software resolves the various shortcomings seen in the Test Drive version under Mac OS X and adds several new touches that we'll explore in detail in a later article. In brief, Virtual PC 5.0 has "undoable" hard disk images so you can back out of actions made after a specified point, networking between virtual machines under Mac OS X, support for Windows XP, and greatly improved handling of screen resolutions and full-screen mode. Performance is essentially the same as in the previous version of Virtual PC and between the Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X versions, though Mac OS X use doesn't feel quite as snappy.
Connectix is already selling Virtual PC 5.0 through its online store and says most merchants (including Apple Store retail locations) should have it in stock soon if they don't already. An upgrade to Virtual PC 5.0 from an earlier version costs $80 (free to users who purchased Virtual PC 4.0 since 01-Nov-01); Virtual PC with DOS costs $100; and Virtual PC with Windows 98 costs $200. Versions bundled with Windows 2000 and Windows XP Home Edition will ship in a few weeks, as will Connectix OS Packs for users who wish to add Windows operating systems to an existing Virtual PC installation. Virtual PC 5.0 requires a PowerPC G3- or G4-based Mac (running at least at 400 MHz for Mac OS X support) with Mac OS 9.1 or later or Mac OS X 10.1 or later. RAM requirements vary from 64 MB to 256 MB depending on whether you're running in Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X and with different PC operating systems; disk space requirements vary with the PC operating system from 260 MB to 2 GB. [MHA]
Version 1.07 of the newly developed Bars & Pipes sequencer for the Amiga has been released. New features include: "Screenmoderequester, gadtools-GUI, most requesters may be used by keyboard-shortcuts, CAMD-Library, Localisation - a german catalog is included, and much more."
Download it - http://home.t-online.de/home/alfaj/Download2/BnP1_07.lha
Alfred Faust's homepage - http://home.t-online.de/home/alfaj/alfa.html
LONDON, England -- A powerful new computer virus is causing havoc with e-mail systems across the world.
Experts say the "Goner" virus is one of the fastest-spreading they have seen, and warn computer users to immediately delete any suspicious attachments.
Alex Shipp, spokesman for anti-virus service MessageLabs, said: "It's spreading with tremendous speed and thousands of users in Britain have already been sent it.
"The virus mass mails itself out through e-mail and attempts to destroy anti-virus software on computers, which could prove extremely problematic for those unfortunate enough to receive it."
The infected e-mail has the word "Hi" as its subject and body text which reads "When I saw this screen saver, I immediately thought about you. I am in a harry (sic), I promise you will love it." Its attachment is labelled "gone.scr."
Experts believe the worm was created in Europe. The U.S., the UK and France are the worst hit of the 17 countries affected so far.
Written in Visual Basic, Goner spreads through Microsoft's Outlook Address Book and even tries to send itself out through online chat programs ICQ and IRC.
Shipp said: "We had a handful of reports this morning but at mid-afternoon in the UK it went mad. We have had about 30,000 reports and the figure is rising."
A criminal investigation has now been launched in an effort to track down the person responsible for the virus.
Previous viruses, such as Love Bug, Code Red and the Nimda Worm caused problems for millions of computer users across the world.
Things may be shaping up better than we expected from the initial settlement, if someone has a brain in the government!
Tim Butler passed this on today to another list, but I thought others may have not see it. News & site follows:
"Red Hat, Inc. today proposed an alternative to the settlement announced today of the class-action lawsuit against Microsoft. Red Hat offered to provide open-source software to every school district in the United States free of charge, encouraging Microsoft to redirect the money it would have spent on software into purchasing more hardware for the 14,000 poorest school districts. Under the Red Hat proposal, by removing Microsoft's higher-priced software from the settlement equation, Microsoft could provide the school districts with many more computers -- greatly extending the benefits Microsoft seeks to provide school districts with their proposed settlement."
Hang on folks, if RedHat succeds with this, Linux will make a giant step forward! If this proposal is accepted, Microsoft would end up buying 1 million PC's for poor schools with RedHat donating unlimited upgrades of RedHat Linux to use on them. The other major distributions (SuSE & Mandrake) would do well to follow Redhat's lead on this one! Now let's see if Billy boy really is concerned about the children's technological needs!
Here is a tagline from a friend of mine...........
If you play the Windows XP CD backwards, I heard you'll get a satanic message. But more frightening is that if you play it forward, it installs Windows XP!
Often lost in the news surrounding the state and federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft is the fact that numerous other private class-action lawsuits have been filed against Microsoft. These private lawsuits allege that Microsoft overcharged for its software, and they were bolstered by (or indeed engendered by) the Appeals Court ruling that Microsoft did indeed maintain a market monopoly in desktop operating systems through anti-competitive actions (see "Playing Monopoly," our collection of articles on the Microsoft antitrust case).
On 20-Nov-01, attorneys for some of the class-action plaintiffs and Microsoft proposed a bold settlement for all of the private class-action lawsuits; in short, the company would over five years spend an estimated $1 billion to equip some 12,500 of the nation's poorest schools with software and computers and to train teachers. It sounds like a great deal, especially if you agree with the lawyers who say that due to the huge number of class-action plaintiffs (about 65 million), the damages would probably work out to be less than $10 per person.
Unfortunately, as much as the proposal would no doubt help schools, it creates a situation where Microsoft isn't so much paying a penalty for monopolistic abuses, but is instead being allowed to spend $1 billion to extend their reach into the hotly contested education market, where Apple claims a nearly 50 percent market share. Apple filed a brief arguing that the settlement would merely further Microsoft's monopoly power, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been widely quoted saying, "We're baffled that a settlement imposed against Microsoft for breaking the law should allow, even encourage, them to unfairly make inroads into education - one of the few markets left where they don't have monopoly power."
It's difficult to tease out exactly what the proposal entails, but reports include Microsoft donating $150 million for schools to use to purchase hardware or software, up to $100 million matching other donations, $160 million for technical support, and $90 million to train teachers. Microsoft would also make 200,000 refurbished computers available to schools for no more than $50 each, and would donate a free Windows license for each new or refurbished computer provided.
Although schools would be allowed to spend the money on non- Microsoft products, Microsoft has conceded that those who utilize Microsoft products will receive more resources, such as free software and training. (Some wags have suggested that Microsoft should be required to provide all Apple equipment and software.) Plus, it seems likely that Microsoft's overt presence in the education market would become increasingly pervasive, creating a situation where schools felt even more pressure to purchase PCs with Windows over other alternatives, such as Macs or even PCs running Linux.
Criticism has come from educators too, with some expressing concern the proposal could derail years of technology planning already in place rather than providing funding for existing plans. Other concerns revolve around the refurbished computers, which could be too underpowered to be worthwhile with current software, and the amount earmarked for support, which can be particularly expensive with PCs and older computers in general.
More generally, there's a question of how this settlement punishes Microsoft for overcharging consumers, lacking as it does any conduct restrictions, pricing changes, or direct payments to the aggrieved parties.
U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz listened to arguments from plaintiff's lawyers and Apple on 27-Nov-01, but after time ran out, scheduled additional time on 10-Dec-01 for Microsoft's presentation. The case has become extremely complex, and along with the settlement, there are also issues surrounding how the roughly 100 lawsuits were combined, how some of them were dismissed under Illinois Brick (a 1977 Supreme Court decision that determined that indirect purchasers of a product cannot sue manufacturers directly), and how all this affects those lawsuits from California, where state law explicitly allows indirect purchasers to sue manufacturers directly.
In general, I approve of the effort to settle the class-action lawsuits, if for no other reason than to end all this litigation, the primary beneficiaries of which are always the lawyers. And as much as the current proposal is fatally flawed, the basic concept of funneling vast sums of money to education rather than giving a pittance (which could very well end up in the form of a discount off a Microsoft product) to each of the individual plaintiffs isn't a bad one - if the lawyers on both sides can come up with a revised settlement proposal that meets the real-world needs of educators and doesn't further Microsoft's monopoly at the expense of competitors like Apple.
Version 1.1 - Last Updated November 13, 2001
One new feature in Windows XP that has caused great concern is Windows Product Activation (WPA). There are a great many rumors, and much misinformation, from which you might be led to think that WPA is going to call Microsoft every day and say just what you are doing with your computer; that, if you make any changes at all to your computer hardware, the machine will be instantly disabled; and that WPA is a sneaky way for Microsoft to store personal information about you or your computer, or to begin charging you a monthly fee for your continued use of Windows XP. In fact, all of these rumors are false. WPA is a fairly easy-going check when Windows boots, confirming that it is still installed on the same computer as last time it checked. That's all. But the rampant misinformation is understandable, because it is hard for the general consumer to find a simple yet comprehensive explanation of just what WPA is. This page tries to fill that gap by explaining WPA in a straightforward, detailed way - and to show that it will be a lot less trouble to most people than many have feared.
What's the idea of WPA?
The Microsoft License for use of Windows has always been limited to allowing installation on only a single machine (and that excludes having the same copy installed on a laptop as well as a desktop machine: only MS Office is licensed for the combination). Microsoft believes that this has been subject to much casual abuse. WPA is a means of ensuring that a single copy is not installed on more than a single machine.
So, within the first 30 days after installing Windows XP, you must get the system 'activated' if you are to be able to go on using it. This involves the computer dialing in and giving some information about the hardware on which Windows is installed, receiving in return a release code which will be recorded on the system.
At subsequent boots, Windows checks to see that it is still running on hardware that it can recognise as being the same. If it does not match well enough, you will be unable to do more than backup files until you call Microsoft to explain - for example, that the old machine broke down and had to be rebuilt - and get a new release code.
This may not apply to new machines, bought with Windows already installed and activated by the maker locking the system to the BIOS on the motherboard. If the manufacturer has done this, you can change all the rest of the hardware without affecting activation status. But, in this situation, any replacement of the motherboard, or a new BIOS, would have to be obtained from the original computer maker, or WPA will come into action on the replacement and a new release code from Microsoft will be required.
What hardware gets checked?
The WPA system checks ten categories of hardware:
1. Display Adapter
2. SCSI Adapter
3. IDE Adapter (effectively the motherboard)
4. Network Adapter (NIC) and its MAC Address
5. RAM Amount Range (i.e., 0-64mb, 64-128mb, etc.)
6. Processor Type
7. Processor Serial Number
8. Hard Drive Device
9. Hard Drive Volume Serial Number (VSN)
10. CD-ROM / CD-RW / DVD-ROM
It then calculates and records a number based on the first device of each type that was found during setup, and stores this number on your hard drive. Initially, this is sent to Microsoft in an automatic dial-up, together with the Product ID number derived from the 25-character unique Product Key used in setting up Windows.
The hardware is checked each time Windows boots, to ensure that it is still on the same machine. Also, if you subsequently perform a complete format and reinstall of Windows, Microsoft's activation center will have to be contacted again because the information held on the machine itself (the number previously written to your hard drive) will have been wiped out by reformatting the hard drive. If your hardware is substantially the same, this will be done by an automated call without your needing to talk to anyone.
What does 'substantially the same' mean?
WPA asks for 'votes' from each of these ten categories: 'Is the same device still around, or has there never been one?' Seven Yes votes means all is well - and a NIC, present originally and not changed, counts for three votes! Minor cards, like sound cards, don't come into the mix at all. If you keep the motherboard, with the same amount of RAM and processor, and an always present cheap NIC (available for $10 or less), you can change everything else as much as you like.
If you change the device in any category, you have lost that Yes vote - but will not lose it any more thereafter if you make changes in that category again. So, for example, you can install a new video display card every month for as long as you like.
What if I make too many changes?
If, on Windows startup, there are not the required seven Yes votes, the system will only boot to Safe Mode. You will be required to reactivate by a phone call to Microsoft. You will have to write down a 50-digit number, call into the activation center on a toll-free number that will be given to you, read and check back the number you recorded - and explain the circumstances. In exchange, you will be given a 42-digit number to type in. This will reactivate your copy of Windows.
What about formatting a hard disk?
Two things are recorded for disks: the number of the disk drive itself, and the Volume Serial Number (VSN) of the partition on it.
HINT No. 1: The VSN is part of the data in the partition's first sector, so it is changed when you reformat the drive. For that reason, if you are planning to reinstall your copy of Windows XP, it would be worth the trouble of deleting files from the disk before reinstalling, rather than actually reformatting. This retains one more Yes vote.
HINT No. 2: Another thing that changes the VSN is converting a FAT 32 partition to NTFS. So, if you upgrade a system using FAT 32 to Windows XP and intend to convert to NTFS, do the conversion before activating the system. Remember, you can wait a while: you have 30 days before you need activate. The machine's hardware at the time of the first activation is what counts.
The disk drive and partition recorded will be the ones that the system has found first when doing the initial activation: normally the one from which the system booted. So, if you change that disk and reinstall Windows to a new partition, you have lost two of the Yes votes. If, though, you add a new hard disk, copy the original partition onto it with an imaging program, and retain the original hard drive as a secondary data disk, it will still be found by a later check. This is because it searches for all disks, and the vote will be Yes in both categories if it finds the original one, with the partition not reformatted.
What about a swappable hard drive bay?
Provided the swappable hard drive bay is for secondary disks (used for data), and the boot disk with Windows is still present, the swappable disks do not enter into the WPA calculation.
Changing the motherboard
Installing a replacement motherboard will change the IDE controller, and usually will mean that you change to a new, faster, processor. If the processor is one with a serial number (Pentium III), then you lose a third vote - including when you change to a processor with no serial number, such as an Athlon. If you also add RAM, or if the motherboard is one with an on-board SCSI adapter, that makes four or five categories now voting No - you would need an unchanged NIC to avoid having to call in for reactivation. If the new motherboard also has inbuilt video (and possibly even a NIC of its own!), you run right out of Yes votes with this one hardware change.
Again, this doesn't stop you from making such a hardware change, nor from using Windows XP thereafter. The phone-in reactivation option was created for just this type of situation. Also, this is an extreme example. Due to the onboard features of some motherboards, this one hardware change is equivalent to several changes at once.
How long does this go on?
The license is in perpetuity. You get to use Windows XP forever, if you choose.
But Microsoft recognises that machines do get upgraded. If you make changes within the tolerance (that is, continuing to get seven Yes votes), and then make no more changes for 120 days, then the sheet is swept clean and you can start again using the current hardware as the new baseline to make more changes.
If you get a new computer, you are entitled to remove Windows XP from the one that is being junked, and install the same Windows XP on the new machine - but you will have to do the reactivation by a voice call and explain.
Microsoft has said that if it ever becomes not worthwhile for them to keep this activation system going, they will take steps to allow users to disable it.
Some things WPA does not do
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM - news) said on Tuesday that it has begun selling groups of server computers with system management software and the Linux (news - web sites) operating system in a move that the computer giant says will expand the use of Linux.
Sharp has announced that developer units will be shipped in November, 2001. Initial pricing for developer units is $399. Consumer pricing is expected to be in the mid-$500 range; a delivery date for the consumer version has not been announced.
Lindows.com, a 20-person San Diego company led by former MP3.com Chief Executive Michael Robertson, plans to sell a preview edition of the software for $99 this quarter, with version 1.0 coming in early 2002.
The software is based on years of labor devoted to the Wine project, an open-source effort to mimic the commands that Windows programs use. Lindows adds proprietary software with improvements such as making fonts appear better or software install more easily, Robertson said in an interview.
Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition features 4 CDs, Mandrake Installation and User Guide, The Sims Manual, and The Sims for Linux Install and Quick Reference Guide. The Gaming Edition is powered by TransGaming Technologies' portability layer, which brings together the award-winning Mandrake Linux operating system and Electronic Arts'TM The SimsTM, the People Simulator from the creators of SimCityTM.
I'm in Canada, and I ordered the Office v. X "half-off" upgrade (for Word + Entourage 2001 SE) online at Microsoft's site on Wednesday the 21st. It arrived yesterday, the 27th, via Purolator courier. The CD package was shipped from Ontario, but the envelope INSIDE that envelope originated in the USA. All around, a pretty good turnaround, especially since other people seem to be facing delays, especially from the Apple Store.
The CD key provided was invalid, however, preventing me from launching any of the programs. I phoned the USA toll-free number and extension suggested at MacInTouch by David McCowan (1-800-936-5700, extension 0), since the only number listed on the package was a toll call (!). After a short (~4 minutes) wait on hold, the MS rep got my name and phone number, looked up my order, and generated a new key for me.
I'm using Entourage X to write this, about half an hour later, so it worked. The program took about 22 minutes to import all my information and thousands of mail messages from Entourage 2001. I think that's less time than Entourage 2001 took to import my Outlook Express data under Mac OS 9, and since this is Mac OS X, I was able to do other things while it worked in the background. Everything seems to have imported fine -- I don't know if Entourage X has its own sound set, since it seems even to be using my old sounds!
I'm pleased that typing in Entourage is nearly as quick as it used to be under Mac OS 9, since some other Mac OS X programs seem to lag behind my fingers on my old Beige G3/266. I have to relearn some key combinations, but I can live with that.
Unlike Entourage, Word took a LONG time to launch the first time (2 minutes, maybe more). Typing there is slower than in Entourage (where I use plain text), but improved since the Word X Test Drive -- acceptable on a relatively poky G3 like mine, anyway. Old (2001, 98, 5.1) Word files seem to open just fine. Normal view is a bit faster to work with than Page Layout view on my machine.
I rarely use Excel or PowerPoint, so I haven't run them yet.
So far, pretty good -- despite the CD key SNAFU, which Microsoft handled smoothly.
One minor complaint: since I discovered the CD key problem after voice lines were closed, I tried Microsoft's online support last night. Good luck. The multi-step process is painful and obscure, and it turns out you need a Product ID -- which (different from the CD key) is a number you can't obtain until you've installed the software, which then generates the ID for you. So if you have installation issues, don't try to get help online for them. The phone was a much better way to go.
From: Grant Symon (Grant@GrantSymon.com)
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 12:22:49 -0500
There is a Mac OS X bug which is brought to the fore with the installation of Office X and which causes Microsoft apps to 'stick' when launching. The icons bounce in the dock, but the app never makes it. I have found that they can't be properly quit using Force Quit and the Finder is badly affected too, requiring a restart.
The solution is to disable all but one of the apps set to launch at Login. You do this via the Login preferences in the System Preferences control panel. Re-ordering them (by dragging) may work too.
(This problem didn't appear very often until iTunes installed its Helper into the Login)
I've also found that when I restart into Classic after one of these crashes, TechTool Pro 3.0.5 systematically finds that I have a problem on the disk...Invalid Leaf Node. Can anyone tell me if I should be particularly concerned by this, it's repaired each time, but it sounds nasty.
I hope this saves some of you some time. *:)
From: Doug Forman (email@example.com)
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 12:22:54 -0500
No one seems to be reporting the huge mess Microsoft is in with its $149 "special offer" upgrade to Office v.X.
Nightmare #1: Microsoft's web-based ordering system was extremely broken when it started accepting orders on Monday 11/19. I placed an order for 1 upgrade (there is a limit of one per person per address). Microsoft processed my order THIRTY-ONE times, tried to charge my debit-card THIRTY-ONE times, and ended up shipping and billing five upgrades to me while wiping out the balance in my checking account. Their order people called me a week later with instructions how to return the extra upgrades for credit. The gentleman who called me, "Tony", said he was spending the day contacting people who had this problem, and that some had even more orders than me!! The upgrades started arriving today (first two).
(this is especially interesting since I called Microsoft immediately after placing the web order to confirm that they had received it - I never received confirmation on their Web site - and also that only one order had been processed despite multiple web page reloads needed to proceed through their order process. The gentleman I spoke with confirmed my order had been received and not to worry about multiple orders because their system would only allow one order per person. Yeah, right...)
Nightmare #2: The upgrades arrive. The product activation key does not work ("invalid key"). I tried both keys from the first two upgrades I received. Nothing. I went searching for answers and found them at the MacFixIt Office X forum: it appears NO ONE received a valid product key for their upgrade, and, in fact, it appears that the product keys in the upgrade are for a completely different Microsoft product (Age of Empires). Calling the 800 number mentioned by many in the forum for a replacement key worked for some people, but when I called today, they were "out of product keys" and I would need to call back "later." When I told this lady what product I was calling about, she said, "and what can I help you with? - as if I don't know..."
Wow, talk about causing grief for your customers!? I only hope that Office v.X is worth it when I finally get to use it...
I have been a user of VPC since 2.0. I have used it professionally and non-professionally. My most recent usage of it was for a test platform for testing Unix based email servers, using a Java based automated test program. The machine it is running on is a 500 MHz AGP G4 Desktop with 512 MB of RAM, 2 drives (20 & 30 GB), and a built-in DVD-RAM drive (Apple). I run it with Windows 98.
I downloaded it the day after it became available. Installation over version 4.0 was simple, without problems. One thing that immediately became apparent however is that two entirely different sets of preferences were created upon running it - one set for Classic (OS 9) operation and one set for OS X. This means that it has to be set up twice.
[We asked Connectix about that, since the instructions in the manual struck us as a bit annoying. They said that when you look at the possible problems of identifying multiple Mac OS 9 System Folders, different installations of Virtual PC, potentially on different drives, and so on, it simply became too complex to do correctly in all situations. -Adam]
Overall it seemed more stable than VPC 4.0.X, which I initially had a lot of trouble with and took a year to resolve. It was a Connectix DOS image issue.
Performance is a different matter. The "Not as snappy" comment in your current newsletter is a gross underestimate in my opinion. Under OS X it takes significantly longer to boot. I find I must run it in a window at lower resolution and Thousands of Colors to get any performance at all. Otherwise it is almost impossible to use. This is after "tuning" it by defragmenting the hard disk, removing extraneous stuff, and running it as the only launched app, except Finder. Full Window mode slows it down to the point it is practically unusable.
[Good feedback. We hadn't had a chance to do much performance testing, so that comment was based on Connectix's answer to our question. -Adam]
Currently I am using it with 2 primary programs - Franklin Planner software and the Franklin Coaching disks. The Coaching disks require QuickTime 2.11(Windows) so that is the only QuickTime I have installed. Under OS 9.2.2, performance is acceptable for both programs in a windowed mode. In full screen mode under OS 9 and 1024x786 resolution, the Coaching Audio is slowed down to a point that it is unusable. I have used it as well on a real Windows machine and it works fine in any mode. OS X is a different story. Under OS X the Coaching disks are totally unusable as the audio is too slow to be used or even understood. Going to a windowed mode and minimum color and resolution for the program does not help in OS X. The Planner software is useable but definitely pokey. It does not use QuickTime.
Under VPC 4.0.x, when I contacted Connectix tech support (senior level), I was told to keep memory assignments to 192 MB or Windows 98 might become unstable. I was also informed that increasing memory allocations would not improve performance This is what I have done.
In conclusion, while VPC 5.0 under OS X does actually work, it is much too slow to be of practical use for many applications under OX X, except possibly on the top end machines that currently available.
From: "Mark H. Anbinder" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 17:40:44 -0500
So far, I've found Virtual PC 5.0 to be noticeably slow under Mac OS X only on my office 450 MHz Power Mac G4, which doesn't really have enough RAM. (Working on that.)
On my 500 MHz PowerBook G4 and my Dual-800 MHz Power Mac G4, each with 256 MB of RAM (working on that, too) I found VPC to be as responsive as I expected. It didn't seem any less responsive on the PowerBook than version 4 under Mac OS 9, and it flew on the dual-800. (No surprise there.)
My guess is that having extra RAM helps a LOT, and that tuning the amount of memory allocated to the virtual PC probably helps as well.
When I've had time to do more fiddling, I'll report back if I find anything conclusive and useful.
From: Kevin van Haaren (email@example.com)
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 09:24:31 -0500
MacInTouch has a user comment up that changing the "nice" level of VPC 5 under OS X can make performance better.
Under UNIX systems (like OS X) nice levels are the amount of time the OS gives to an application. Since UNIX's are preemptive multi-taskers, the OS controls how much CPU time each process gets, the nice levels allow you to specify some apps to have a higher priority than other processes. This is different from OS 9 software that had their own preferences for "niceness" which the program used to decided when to give up the CPU to other processes.
The instructions require the use of the command line. I'm not sure if there is a GUI app available for changing the niceness of a particular process.
I've not tested the instructions -- I'm struggling through Connectix's upgrade policy, I just upgraded my VPC 3.0 to VPC 4.0 a month ago, so I should get the 5.0 upgrade for $4.95 but have to fax a bunch of forms to Connectix first.
One question I have is if VPC 5.0 under OS X fixes the NetBIOS networking issues that the Test Drive had.
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 09:25:28 -0500
I can't remember where I found this (I think it was on the macshowlive mailing list), but it's not from me, and I haven't tested it. Still, it might help those who have performance problems using VPC in MacOS X:
"VPC5 could be considered slow. But one has to consider that the UNIX 'Nice' level of VPC5 is 0. This does not give considerable priority to VPC5. Luckily, Mac OS X 10.1 introduced the 'renice' command to the OS. VPC5 can be made to run faster by completing the following:
1. Open the terminal and type the following:
ps -auxw | grep Virtual
This will reveal the process number for the Virtual PC application.
2. Reprioritize the process using the following command:
sudo renice <nice> <pid>
Where <nice> is an integer between 20 and -20 (the lower the number, the higher the priority.) and <pid> is the process ID you learned in step 1. I typically use a nice level of -16. Performing these steps will speed up the emulation to a more usable level.
Software company Trolltech has announced a worldwide developer contest, starting today, to generate apps for Sharp's upcoming Linux-based handheld, the Zaurus SL-5500.
So have Amiga missed the boat here? What are they doing? What happened to the "executive update twice a month" that was promised months ago... It is all far too quiet at Amiga.
Comment 24 of 25
Posted by Anonymous on 06-Dec-2001 15:52:03:
No, actually people seem to forget how well things actually were during the Commodore years. Very little has been achieved by Amiga Inc. in two years, in fact, more was done by ESCOM in that one year they had Amiga. Amiga Inc. have been riding a high horse about how much better they are than their predecessors (a quite frequent topic a year or so back), but yet they really haven't been nor have they tried to come out clean about it.
They have no impressive product out. The only product that is remotely their own is the DE Player and who can call that impressive (the SDK is even more just TAO's stuff, even the Boing demo that ships with it is by TAO). They have made a bunch of announcements that haven't materialized and they haven't given explanations as to why or as to when. You are correct that there certainly are companies out there with similarly poor PR record (and poorer), but that hardly is an excuse - and considering how much better they announced themselves to be in the beginning (compared to their predecessors) it is even less so.
I don't believe they have done nothing. I actually do believe they have bunch of plans, documents and perhaps some prototype technology lying around in the offices. I would be very surprised and even more disappointed if this weren't the case after two years. But they have not proven to be worth their words, nor have they produced anything that would deserve the Amiga name as we know it. Mind you, I am not playing down their legal right to the name - they certainly paid for it, but that in itself means nothing as far as excellence is concerned.
We have no reason to believe, other than the name, that AmigaDE will be anything that will carry to torch of excellence the Commodore Amiga used to. It may or may not end up as a quality product. It may or may not have something to do with Amiga. This has nothing to do with success, mind you, that is another issue. Yet the name is one thing that seems to make people assume something about its quality and that, of course, is one thing why Amiga paid all that money for the trademarks.
A lot of valid concerns have been brought up and Amiga hasn't addressed them (in public at least). One of the most important ones, in addition to the general notion of how poor their PR is, is the fact that they don't follow-up on their announcements. They announce stuff, it gets delayed, cancelled or pops out in some other form than announced, and they just remain quiet. AmigaOS x86 was originally announced as a follow-up of the OS (I listened to Bill's speech), then it was to be just an emulator package (according to amiga.com) with the name Amiga x86 and then it just pops out as Amiga XL (with AmigaOS XL) from H&P without one word from Amiga since about it.
There are other examples as well. Of course the AmigaOS 4.0 situation is one example where, even if we would give Amiga the benefit of considering AmigaONE not in any way their product (although they announced it) but Eyetech's and so "forgive" Amiga for not making announcements on its delay, AmigaOS 4.0 was something they told people they brought back "in house". AmigaOS 4.0 was theirs. They should have followed up on their announcements and announced the delay, yet they left the whole thing to others to do. And we haven't even discussed here the way they announced stuff prior to this delay without mentioning the thing Eyetech wound up telling us.
Other things included, for example, things announced for the Amiga SDK. A lot of stuff was announced over a year ago, like the 3D API, better sound, etc. None of this has appeared, nor has Bill McEwen followed up on this announcements. The executive updates are still there, but nothing new has been said (perhaps not counting a vague comment on lack of resources at trade shows, but nothing through the channels which they used to announce this stuff). I can't blame people for being a bit ticked had I brought an SDK hoping for this stuff and then seeing the free-upgrade-time run out.
The concerns about the Sharp PDA situation are also very much valid, and Amiga should address them - but they haven't.
I'm sure they have their reasons - one being that they don't want the rest of the world to see their problems. But what does this say about the integrity which they took so much pride in the beginning? And, really, one can understand the lack of money and how it affects development but that is hardly an excuse for not following up on their promises with at least an explanation, and a better, more consistent PR policy (that doesn't take huge amounts of money to do, just some dedication).
Sure, I wish them the best of luck but I am not sure they really deserve even that. They had their chance and the only really impressive thing I can think of is that they have survived two years with this track record.
November 15, 2001 - Prior to the regular meeting, CUCUG had its first Linux SIG meeting. Fifteen people attended. Kris Klindworth showed the PostgreSQL database. More information on this database can be found at http://www.postgresql.org . From that site comes the following:
PostgreSQL is a sophisticated Object-Relational DBMS, supporting almost all SQL constructs, including subselects, transactions, and user-defined types and functions. It is the most advanced open-source database available anywhere. Commercial Support is also available.
Kris talked about MySQL and PostgreSQL. He said MySQL is faster, but PostgreSQL is more robust and secure with its data.
The General meeting began at 7:29 pm. - President Jim Lewis began the meeting with the traditional introduction of officers.
Jim noted that we had a good kickoff of Linux SIG. There were a lot of people there.
The first item of real business, Jim mentioned, as club officer elections. Jim said that since no one had stepped forward to run for the office of President he would reluctantly run again. Kevin Hisel immediately nominated Jim Lewis for the post of President. That nomination was seconded by Ed Serbe. Jim said the other current office holders would run again for their offices. They are:
Emil Cobb - Vice President
Rich Hall - Treasurer
Kevin Hopkins - Secretary
Jim Lewis - Corporate Agent
Mike Latinovich nominated the current roster of officers. Jim Huls seconded.
With election matters out of the way, we turned to the news of the last month.
PC News: Jim said he had gotten a 24X CD burner (24 x 10 x 40) from Light On. This company has a relationship with JVC. Jim said he checked the reviews and other sources of information extensively before he bought the drive. No one had said anything bad about it, so he went ahead with his purchase. He got the drive for around $125, but it has since been seen available for $100. Jim said it's very fast, averaging around 4:17 minutes per CD over a run of ten disks which were nearly full (within 20 to 30 MB of the maximum). This was run on a P3/750 MHz.
In a discussion of CD burning software that followed, Jim Huls noted that "Nero rocks." Also mentioned was that www.newegg.com is a good source online.
Kevin Hisel said he had purchased a copy of Windows XP and that he had very few "issues" with it. This was an upgrade "home" version purchased at Best Buy. It took about 35 minutes to install, placed on top of Win 98 SE. Kevin said he was shocked at how compatible it was. It was a positive experience for him. XP is a lot faster than Win 98, he said. A new sound card driver and mouse driver were needed for his system. Kevin said XP is basically Windows NT 5.1 . It boots very fast. It shuts down fast and reliably. Kevin said all manufacturers knew Microsoft was moving to Microsoft XP Home and Pro. That's why there are so many drivers available now.
Jim Lewis made the comment that "All this stuff my Amiga had in 1985, I'm finally getting back."
Mike Latinovich said XP found all his hardware, but he noted that it was all new hardware along with a new motherboard. Scanners remain a problem.
Another news item was that Microsoft seems to have dodged a bullet in its court situation.
Ed Serbe said he's having trouble logging into the club's BBS.
Regarding the Athlon XP processor, Mike Latinovich said, "Get one." It's fast and it's cheap ($173). It's the equivalent of a 1.7 Ghz Thunderbird. He got his from Crucial.
Mac News: Jack Melby said the G5 2.4 GHz PowerPC is in testing.
The was a discussion of the iTunes 2.0 installer problem reported in the newsletter. Apple is paying for disk recovery software or sending damaged hard drives to data recovery facilities. Jack said his applications folder got deleted, but he was able to recover it himself. All this was caused by a missing quote mark in the installer script.
Jack marveled at a program called Fink. It's a program that facilitates the porting of UNIX programs to OS X. Jack installed Gimp by simply executing the command, "Fink Install Gimp." Fink goes out to the net, downloads it, compiles it and you're ready to go.
Emil Cobb reported that Airport 2, the improved wireless base station from Apple, now has a cable modem port.
Linux News: John Ross reported that YellowDog 2.1 had been released. He stated that things from Sharp PDAs to IBM mainframes are running Linux. He also reported on Red Hat 7.2 improvements.
Jack said that Microsoft Office X will be released soon. It will only run on OS X. Microsoft is the first major "third party developer" to release software that works only on OS X.
Kevin Hisel reported on the @Home service problem. These difficulties started on October 9th and have continued for over a month. Kevin listed causes and outage times. Jack said 5246 @Home customers locally have been effected. Kevin said if you call Insight for service, "Don't push any of their buttons and you'll get through to a real person."
We then shifted into our Question and Answer Session.
Jim Lewis had a question about Internet Explorer 5.01. Some bookmarks to web sites would open a new IE window when clicked on, but others would annoyingly re-use an already-open IE window. When he upgraded to IE 5.5 Service Pack One the bug went away. It's back in version 6. Jim said IE 6.0 is broken, with various new problems. The fix is to download the "hotfixes" for IE6. Yet, others reported *no* trouble with IE 6.0 at all. Jim said, "I guess everyone's mileage may vary." He has returned to IE 5.5/SP-1.
Jim Lewis then turned to a power management question. He said, "Stuff shuts down and can't be woken up." The first boot device is F.
The unit involved is a P3-933, 384MB, ABit BX-133 RAID MoBo, OS: Win2K SP-2. The Boot drive is on RAID controller and *cannot* be "Drive C:" because of the BIOS sequence in recognizing drive letters.
The Issue is the numerous event errors and blank-screen crashes/lockups related to the RAID controller and apparently the Power Management features.
The fix was determined that the user *must* log off after completing a session. Jim said, "Since I've started doing that, the problem is solved. The box has been up for over 3 weeks now without a reboot."
Harold Ravlin reported that Netscape 4.79 for the Mac is out.
Harold then talked about a battery charging problem one of his co-workers was having. In the discussion of the problem that followed, it was determined that the charging circuit of the machine in question was probably dead. In which case, it's cheaper to get a new computer than to get it fixed.
Someone had a problem with the OS not being able to find his CDROM drive. Jim said there could be multiple instances of the driver installed. To fix this, you need to reboot into Safe Mode, enter Device Manager and remove *all* CDROM entries. Reboot normally and Windows will find the CDROM that's really there and install the proper driver.
A discussion of the different versions of Windows followed, during which the consensus was that Windows ME (which one wag said stood for Marketing Experience) was crap.
Dave Witt said he had a friend with a system that had a previous version of Windows 2000 on it with a single 50 gig SCSI hard drive. They removed the 50 gig SCSI drive to put in a 70 gig SCSI drive. After getting everything installed, 2 slave IDE drives were recognized, but not readable. Dave asked if anyone had any suggestions or thought about how to read the drives. Nothing definitive surfaced in the discussion that followed. After the meeting, Dave reported back that after numerous attempts with different recovery software, the friend decided the stuff on the drives wasn't of that much importance, because he had it backed up on CD, so he wiped them out, and started over from scratch.
There was a question from someone about why his Plug and Play Soundblaster card wouldn't work when he had 2 ethernet cards in his P166 Linux box (one of which was a 3Comm 3c509 ISA Plug and Play card). Mike Latinovich said that it would be pretty tough, perhaps impossible, to set the proper IRQ and port addresses the sound card used. They were possibly mapping out to the same place(s) as one of the ethernet cards was. The suggestion was made to find out and get the configuration/setup software for the ethernet card(s), as most (all) ISA Plug and Play ethernet cards, while having no hardware jumpers, DO have software configurable jumper/IRQ/address settings.
This evening the Mac SIG members were treated to a demonstration of SoundEdit 16 by Edwin Hadley. Ed began by saying that he uses SoundEdit 16 for his show on WEFT radio. SoundEdit is a Macromedia program that is a couple of years old. Ed said he records his show on mini-disk.
He showed some of the kinds of avant guard and experimental things he does with the program. He played with a Cicada's sound slowed down about ten times. Ed ran through most of the effects available in SoundEdit 16, altering the cicada chirp in multiple ways. Ed said once you've played with this stuff for a while, you start picking them out when you hear them elsewhere.
Ed also showed MetaSynth, a program that let's you play with sound graphically. The version he had was a demo program. He said it won't save, but with another program, Coaster, you can reroute the sound back into computer and save to a file.
Ed showed another program, SonicWorks Artist Basic. One of the features he played with was the four parameters on Flanger. It was basically a journey into sound esoterica.
With all the powerful sound editing capabilities at a single users command being displayed, it sparked Jack Melby to reminisce about computer music back in 1968 and the difficulties he experienced then.
Later, Ed brought up D-Sound Pro 3.5.1, although he never really got it to work properly. The interface on that program is very dense. Ed also ran ProTools. He said he'd had a memory problem with this program, but in the process of running it and interacting with the SIG members as he did so, we were able to diagnose the problem and fix it. This showed one of the unintended side benefits of doing a program for a meeting. Just by doing his demo, Ed got one of his own problems fixed.
The November meeting of the CUCUG executive board took place on Tuesday, November 20, 2001, 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, Mike Latinovich, John Ross, Jim Huls, Emil Cobb, Jack Melby, Kevin Hopkins, Rich Hall, Kevin Hisel.
Jim Lewis: Jim reported that he had a major/minor disaster when upgrading the club's PC. During the process, the power supply failed and fried the motherboard, hard drive, video card, sound card, NIC, memory, and the processor. The Treasury reimbursed Dave Witt for the price of those parts as it was his loaned hardware that went up in smoke. No major harm was done since the new upgrade hardware replaced everything that was lost.
Turning to the last general meeting, Jim said the meeting was most stimulating in a while. He said he enjoyed meeting with the Linux contingent.
Emil Cobb: Thirteen people attended the Linux SIG. Twenty-four at the main meeting. Emil said he will bring the doughnuts to the December "Annual" meeting. Edwin's Mac presentation was good. The Linux presentation was also good. Emil suggested we buy a new hard drive for installing Linux on the club PC.
Dave Witt: Dave said the meeting was real good. He said he was pleased to see the turn out for the Linux SIG. The PC SIG meeting inspired him to go home and downloaded Irfanview.
Mike Latinovich: Mike said he was surprised by the turn out for the Linux SIG. He noted, "I think it was mostly curiosity that was the draw. We'll see in future meetings how much genuine interest there is in Linux. I'd love to see a definitive program on the GPL (Gnu Public License). What is it? Why is it such a big deal?" There was a discussion of various Linux distributions.
Mike said the PC SIG showing of Irfanview was good. He said he had just been using it as a picture viewer.
John Ross: John said he was a little shocked by how many people showed up for the Linux SIG. He said the facilities are great and the designated time for the meeting is OK. He recounted for everyone that the program had been on the database PostgreSQL. There was a discussion on when to do the Linux news - in the SIG or during the main meeting when the PC and Mac news are generally discussed. In other conversation, John recommended GoBe Productive, a $40 suite of programs.
Jim Huls: Jim said he showed up a little bit late for the Linux SIG. It was interesting. He said he looks forward to future topics. Regarding the PC SIG, Jim said that Irfanview was cool. He said he is spoiled by AC/DC. He said he didn't know about Irfanview's file conversion abilities and that put it back on his machine.
Jack Melby: Jack said he was having trouble getting people to do presentations for the Mac SIG. He would really like a "newbies" impressions of beginning with OS X. He said reports are that it is easier to start out cold in OS X than to move from the old Mac OS into it. John Ross said he was interested in OS X because of it's Unix heritage but wanted to know if it had been dumbed down for new users, making it harder for experienced users to do meaningful work. Open Office (Star Office) has been ported to OS X. Mike Latinovich said a lot of people would be interested in OS X if it had an X86 version. He said it would excite him. It is now the most popular version of Unix. It has commercial, third party support. Jack said a new version of Via Voice for OS X is coming soon. It is optimized for the G4, multiprocessors, etc. Kevin Hisel said that former Apple users are returning to the Apple fold. Jack said Apple is recapturing its educational market. Motorola has quietly released two new versions of the G4 processor. The G5 (a 64 bit chip) is coming.
Kevin Hopkins: Kevin distributed the mail to the appropriate Board members. He brought up the need to produce new membership cards for next year. He asked if anyone joined or renewed at the last meeting.
Rich Hall: Rich said he had nothing much to report. He had missed the General meeting because of attending an annual meeting with his financial advisors. He said the dinner there had been good. He reviewed our bank statement. We spent a little over $600 for the new PC parts. Jim Lewis suggested Rich look into tax free municipal bonds since the bottom has dropped out of returns on Certificates of Deposit.
Kevin Hisel: Kevin had some criticisms of the Irfanview demo given at the last meeting, but since he was the one who gave it, he could say whatever he wanted. He felt that it should have been a part of a lager presentation rather than an entire presentation of its own.
As Election Judge, Kevin said he thought it would be a waste of time and effort to prepare ballots for the upcoming election, since none of the offices are being contested.
Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Illinois Technology Center. The Center is located at 7101 Tomaras Ave in Savoy. To get to the Illinois Technology Center from Champaign or Urbana, take Neil Street (Rt 45) south. Setting the trip meter in your car to zero at the McDonalds on the corner of Kirby/Florida and Neil in Champaign, you only go 2.4 miles south. Windsor will be at the one mile mark. Curtis will be at the two mile mark. Go past the Paradise Inn/Best Western motel to the next street, Tomaras Ave. on the west (right) side. Tomaras is at the 2.4 mile mark. Turn west (right) on Tomaras Ave. The parking lot entrance is immediately on the south (left) side of Tomaras Ave. Enter the building by the front door under the three flags facing Rt 45. A map can be found on the CUCUG website at http://www.cucug.org/meeting.html . The Illinois Technology Center is also on the web at www.IL-Tech-Ctr.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Vice-President: Emil Cobb 398-0149 email@example.com Secretary/Editor: Kevin Hopkins 356-5026 firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer: Richard Hall 344-8687 email@example.com Corporate Agent: Jim Lewis 359-1342 firstname.lastname@example.org Board Advisor: Richard Rollins 469-2616 Webmaster: Kevin Hisel 406-948-1999 khisel @ kevinhisel.com Mac SIG Co-Chair: John Melby 352-3638 email@example.com Mac SIG Co-Chair: Charles Melby-Thompson 352-3638 firstname.lastname@example.org
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