March 2000, Volume 16, Number 3
Lake County Chapter
By Raymond Margolies
The Lake County Chapter of the Chicago Computer Society held its monthly meeting, Thursday, January 27, 2000, at its regular meeting place - Room E114, Deerfield High School. Les Axelrod, Membership Chairperson, opened the meeting at its usual time, 7 PM.
As a gentle reminder to the other CCS chapters, we had at least twice as many in attendance as ever before.
When Tom Tepper runs Open Forum he requires people who ask questions, and people who answer questions, to start by stating their names. When Tom arrived at the meeting at 7:02 P.M., the meeting was already in progress, having been started on time by Les Axelrod. Les, who is a college professor, must have felt at home leading the Open Forum. The questions came fast and furious, but there are no names to put to the Q & A.
One of the big discussions came from a question regarding scanning information, then changing the content to a text file using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, and then E-mailing the text information. After the meeting, the member approached Tom for additional help with setting up his scanner. Tom referred him to Earl Lichten and Ray Margolies, regular meeting attendees, who frequently use their scanners.
There then was the suggestion of converting the scanned image to JPG image format, then sending the information as an image attachment, eliminating the need to use OCR software to convert it to a word-processible file.
New User Forum: Modems
Earl Lichten provided his computer expertise in his lecture on Modems. In Earl’s own words:
“Man is a social creature and as such must communicate with his fellow beings. We transfer ideas and thoughts by use of voice media, and visually by setting marks on paper or by images on film. All of these concepts are used in one way or another by one computer when communicating with another computer. It is this aspect of conveying ideas that we deal with tonight.
“When a person talks to another person he uses his voice and the other receiving person uses an ear. The voice sends forth sound waves which impinge on the ear drum of the listener. The ear drum transmits this movement of the drum into an electric message that the brain translates into a message. This process is in an analog format. That is the voice sends out sound waves and the ear drum picks up these sound waves. Thus they are mirror images or analogous to each other.
“The computer speaks and hears only in terms of digital information arranged in a special numerical language consisting of ones and zeros. This is the language that must be sent over a telephone wire or by radio transmission to the recipient. However, such devices are analog, units and do not recognize digital language. Here a translator, converter or middle man device is needed. That gadget is called a MODEM, which is an acronym for Modulator/Demodulator. It converts the computer language into tones and pulses that a phone line can utilize. This is the MODULATING feature. When the signal is received at the other computer it converts the signal into a digital format that is machine readable. This is the DEMODULATING feature.
There are number of different types of modems. One is the usual one we see in the ads which can be for either internal or external placement and suitable for voice data or fax transmission. “Today the latest version conforms to the V90, 56K standard. Note that the FCC limits the speed to 53K. The speed that one can actually achieve is dependent on the distance from the phone company office and the type of line from it to the modem connection. For example, I am about 4 miles from the phone company and the maximum speed I can get is 28.8K, and it will drop to 26.4K at times. This type of modem has the advantage of being inexpensive and universally compatible with most ISP'S. It allows an ISP low service charge such as we get from Corecomm at $80.00 per year.
“There are two other popular types of Modems. One is the CABLE and the other is DSL. Cable modems are available from the local Cable provider such as AT&T and @HOME in this area. On the plus side they are speedy and always on. They are also much more costly, over $40.00 per month, subject to security problems due to the always on feature, and can slow down when many subscribers are on the line at the same time. Another popular modem is the DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) modem. It is the fastest of all modems, but it too has its limitations. Bob Corley of Interaccess.com has given me these details which I pass on to you. a) it is not available in all areas and is primarily for business users; b) a subscriber may not be more than 18,000 feet from the phone company; c) a $300 one-time installation charge; d) a charge of $80/mo for the 1st computer.
“There are variations on the DSL concept such as IDSL and ADSL, but they are beyond the scope of this lecture. If this subject interests you, I recommend the article in PC MAGAZINE January 18, 2000, page 32, which discusses other aspects of the High Speed Broadband community, such as: DSL BASICS - www.dslreports.com distinguishes the option of ADSL for home use; Cable Internet access technologies compared - www.whatisxam DSL vs Cable-- www.cablemodemheII2. ; High speed availability-www.p-etsKed.com--- requires only address, area code, and full telephone number; Another source is- www.2Wire.com
“Special sites for broadband users- www.scour.net for movie trailers, www.atomfilms.com for animation and short films, www.shortbuzz.com for demos and specials, and www.movieflix.com for full length documentaries. Special tweaking sites and programs@- www,computinecentral-com/tol2ics/bandwidth, for calculating speeds; www.spgeduidc.n for software patches, and speed boosting tips at http,/navasgrp.home.att.net/tech/cable-dst.htm#OuickEasy
“The above should give you an idea of what modems are and what types are available. As for me I am pleased with my V90 56K modem operating at 28K as it serves my needs. I don't hunger for high speed downloading or access to the web. At a difference between $6.66/month and $40.00/month I can be patient and frugal. If a publisher wants to sell me or send me an update I insist on a copy on a floppy or CD-ROM. Most will do that- if not I will live without it..
“What the future holds for this broadband quest is open for conjecture. There are many ideas put forth such as Wireless, satellite, fiberoptic cable, etcetera. We shall see what develops. In the meantime, send those messages via email, download the very latest upgrade and enjoy yourself.”
Robert Corley, Business Development Manager for InterAccess (business card says “Data CLEC offering DSL & Internet Services”), gave his presentation on this subject which directly fits in with the lecture on Modems. Corley presented the pros and cons on several options.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
Pros High speed - 64K or 128K
Cons Dialup (in general) High per-minute charges
ISP Costs: $40 - $600/mo based on users and extra services
Telco Costs: $.08 first minute, $.03 each additional minute, $35/mo
DSL and XDSL (Digital Subscriber Line and its variations)
Pros: High speed - 128K to 1.5 Mbps (higher speeds possible) Dedicated - Always on
No per-minute usage charges Uses existing infrastructure - copper phone lines
Cons: Limited in distance - up to 18K feet max wire distance. Difficult to tell if installation problems will arise
ISP Costs: $50 - $600/mo based on users, speed and extra services
Telco Costs: Typically covered by ISP charges - $0/mo
T1 and Fractional TI
Pros: High Speed - 128K to 1.5Mbs - Dedicated-Always on. No per-minute usage charges
Cons: High monthly fees and bandwidth charges may apply
ISP Costs: $500-2,000/mo based on speed and extra services
Telco Costs: $300-900/mo based on distance, speed, and contract length
T3 and Fractional T3
Pros: High speed - 3Mbps to 45 Mbps Dedicated - Always on
Cons: High monthly fees and bandwidth charges may apply
ISP Costs & Telco Costs: $8,000 - $45,000+ per month based on distance, bandwidth, usage and extra services
Carlos Hidalgo spoke on a subject we should all be aware of especially as we grow with our personal use of a computer - Using Multiple Monitors . Carlos passed out excerpts from Windows 98 2nd Edition. These excerpts follow:
“With Windows 98, you can connect up to nine monitors to your computer. You can setup these monitors like one large desk-top, or you can set them up to show a different program on each monitor. For example, you could have a financial report open in Word on one monitor, have a quarterly budget spreadsheet open in Microsoft Excel on another monitor, and refer to the budget while you write the report.
“To set up multiple monitors, you must have a PCI graphics adapter for each monitor you want to connect to your computer. The multiple monitor feature supports only PCI graphics adapters at this time.
“With your computer off., install the PCI graphics adapters in your computer, connect a monitor to each, and then turn on your computer. Windows 98 detects the multiple graphics adapters and prompts you through their setup.
“Note: If you're unsure how to install a PCI graphics adapter, or if your warranty will be voided by installing your own hardware, you should contact an authorized service center to install it for you. You can change the settings for each monitor in the Settings tab of the Display control panel. Your primary monitor is the one connected to the graphics adapter in the first open PCI slot.
“Note: You don't need to install Windows 98 before you install the multiple graphics adapters. Windows 98 will detect them during the initial setup. However, if you have a graphics adapter built into your motherboard, you must install Windows 98 first and then any additional graphics adapters. If you don't, Windows 98 might not detect the graphics adapter on your motherboard.
“For more information about multiple monitors, look up
Multiple Display Support in Windows.
With the multiple display support feature in Windows 98, you can use additional monitors to expand your desk-top area. When you use multiple monitors, you can move programs from one monitor to another. You can also specify a different color depth and screen resolution for each monitor. To use multiple monitors, you need a PCI or AGP video adapter for each monitor.
Note: Opening additional programs when you're using multiple monitors may place extra demands on your system resources.”
Main Presentation: Free Web Access
Garrick Axelrod’s presentation covered Free Web Access - A comparison of free Internet services and free e-mail. The chart below is his list of Free Internet Service Providers followed with Garrick’s explanations as to how they work.
Free Internet Service Providers
Most of the free ISP (Internet Service Providers) can provide free access because they have advertisers who are willing to pay them to flash advertisements onto the screens of the users while they are on-line (except TWO). The differences in the providers are in the way that the ads are delivered.
I've broken up the free ISPs into the following categories: a) Floating ad banners, b) Docked ad banners, c) Configurable ad banners, d) Miscellaneous ad banner.
With this type of ad delivery a banner floats on top of everything on your screen and sometimes can get in the way of what you are viewing. The banner can be moved around the screen, but don't move it off screen or you will be disconnected. Providers with this type of delivery include:
NetZero.net - you must click an ad once an hour. This is the oldest surviving free ISP. I heard about Netzero about nine months ago when I came to my first CCS meeting and I was new to the Internet; Russell Crom was handing out NZ CDs and I took one. A few months later I was taking an on- line class at CLC, “COM1 15“ (Internet Fundamentals) and one of the assignments was to find and sign- up with at least one mailing list of interest to us. Much to my surprise I discovered the Netzero mailing list (for everything Netzero). I found it to be a gold mine of people helping people (much like these CCS monthly meetings) and they don't only talk about Netzero but computer problems and how to fix them. From this list I also found out about two other mailing lists, the FreeISP mailing list which only announces new ISPs, it doesn't allow people to post to it, and the FreeNET mailing list, which is people using all the free ISPs asking questions, giving answers, comparing, and making comments about the ISPs. I also found, thanks to the FreeISP list, a Web site which lists all the free ISPs and gets updated regularly.
Bluelight.com - This comes from Yahoo! and K-Mart and came out four weeks ago.
Juno.com - Juno has had free e-mail for years but just came out with free Internet access three weeks ago. I feel this one is a waste of time.
With this type of ad delivery system the ad banner spans the screen and pushes the desktop items out of the way so the ads don't block your view of the desktop.
DotNow.com - This ad delivery system spans the monitor from side to side, either at the top or bottom
FreePC.com - This ad system spans the monitor from the top to bottom on the right side of the monitor.
Tritium.com - This system spans the screen from side to side only on the bottom of the screen.
You can set these ISPs to either float free or span the screen.
AltaVistaFreeAccess -From AltaVista and 1stUp. You must click on an ad in the banner every 30 minutes or so to restore the "health meter'’
Freei.net - This is the second-oldest free ISP.
FreeWorld.com - This comes from Excite and includes voice e-mall as well as regular e-mail. You must click on an ad in the banner every 30 minutes or so to restore the "health meter'. This just came out two weeks ago.
TheSimpsons.com - From Fox T.V. and 1stUp. Again you must click on an ad in the banner every 30 minutes or so to restore the "health meter'. This came out two weeks ago.
Miscellaneous Banner & Free
Freedom.com - This lets you surf free for 20 minutes and then a pop-up window appears and you MUST click on the ad in the window. Then a browser window opens and you are taken to the advertisers Web page. After that happens you can close the window and surf for 20 more minutes with no obstructions
Ad Banner Free
Aerofree.com - NO ads and NO time limit. This started last week and went out of business 6 days later!
Freewwweb.com - 5 hours per session and 100 hours per month. Can have up to 5 accounts. They want you to set your home page to http://freewwweb.snap.com/. I feel that is a small price to pay to get on-line for free. They used to require a credit card number but now they let users use 4444333322221111 with an expiration date of 01/01 and there is nothing to download if you already have a browser. You just sign-up for an account and find a phone number and then follow the instructions to set up a new DUN connection,
WorldSpy.com - This has NO ads and NO time limits. When you get on-line with them your browser opens on their "cyber-mall" but you are under no obligation to buy anything, but they hope you will.
All of the free ISPs have free e-mail and some have Usenet access and Web pages available for members. The first free ISP I used was NetZero and I still feel some loyalty to it, however, the floating ad banner does get in the way at times. Using a service where the banner spans the screen (docks) is a lot better and I really have no favorite of those although Free-PC is no longer accepting new accounts at this time. I am really impressed with WorldSpy and Freewwweb. No ads, no banner and no obligation to buy.
However, one can never have too many free Internet service providers! If I get a busy signal with one provider or their servers are down I just use a different provider. The best part of having a free Internet Service Provider (for those of you who have AOL) is that you can get on-line for free, and then log onto AOL. With this kind of setup you can change your AOL account to B.Y.O.A. (Bring Your Own Access) and just pay $9.95/month for unlimited AOL and you don't have to use their phone lines - and who would want to if they had the choice?
There are a few more free providers that I have not used and more are going on-line every few weeks. An excellent place to get more information is at the Free ISP Web site. I like to go there about once a month or so to check for new entries, http://nzlist.org/user/freeisp/index.html..
A Reprise Listing of Mentioned Sites
Free Satellite downloads / dial uploads
Free ISP-Web site http://nzlist.org/user/freeisp/index.htm
Les Axelrod’s Presentation, “Computer Security - Learn The Basics in Data Encryption 101” started close to finishing time, so he gave us just enough to whet our appetites and will complete his lecture at the next meeting, February 24, 2000.
The meeting was formally adjourned at 9PM but, as usual, was continued at a restaurant nearby. :