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Vol. 17  No. 2  Supporting PC Platforms Newsletter: Mar-Apr.2001..

 CONTENTS

New Meaning for 'March Madness'?

Love Bug' to 'Kournikova'

I can't find
my files/work

Final Bytes

Schedule

 
New Meaning for 'March Madness'?
By Bob Wallace 

Each year at this time we hear probably far more than we'd like about March Madness, the annual blitz of college and university year-end basketball all around the country. Unless, that is, you're in a frame of mind similar to mine, meaning that you're far more likely to be interested in the last month of the National Hockey League's regular season leading up to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals, then March Madness takes on a quite different meaning.

This year may add yet another defi-nition to the term March Madness, as this month appears to mark the 12th month of a recession that had its beginnings at least one year ago, if one
can use the NASDAQ numbers as a beginning point. Last year found the NASDAQ at its highest point, $5,048.62, on March 10, yet closed last week at less than half that number, $2,117.63. The NASDAQ is heavy with stocks attached to high-tech businesses.

Politics and economics aside for the moment, the past few months have seen the beginning of the decline in dot-com businesses around the San Francisco Bay area, and declines in some of the larger firms with much longer track records than the dot-com
start-ups so much in the local news over the past two or three years. San Francisco's SOMA is beginning to sprout signs saying "Available for lease" again. Curious as it may seem, some San Franciscans are quite happy about that!

Last week's San Francisco Chronicle had nearly one article each day detailing how this or that dot-com was closing its doors; or over the past month or two, how someone like 3Com, Intel, Cisco or Oracle was making "adjustments" in its overall business strategy to make themselves leaner for the near term, and keeping
an eye on where the business cycle might be leading them over the
long term.

Just within the past couple of weeks, some number of computer-related businesses have been in the news because of layoffs being announced that will affect hundreds or thousands of employees, depending on the overall size of the business making the
announcement, both here in the U.S. and overseas. Many of those being laid off may be fortunate enough to find work again much faster than this newsletter can be put together, given the networking that seems to exist in Silicon Valley.

Unless we're about to see a major shift in this part of the computer business in Silicon Valley as well, those being laid off have had new positions to fit into within hours or days of getting their pink slips until relatively recently. Depending on how managers view this recession and their company's prospects for weathering it will determine whether out-of-work computer employees will continue to find new workplace assignments within hours or days of being laid off elsewhere.

Added into this mix at the moment is what happens with the energy situ- ation in California. Some number of Silicon Valley manufacturers have suggested that they will build their own generating facilities to continue having a dependable supply of elec-tricity at their worksites. If unable to do that, some have already suggested that other areas of the U.S. may be interested in having them move in, meaning moving out of California and
taking some number of current and/or future jobs with them.

In fact, some number of states around the country have started addressing this issue directly by mailing promo-tional material to computer businesses in California, noting that they have plenty of affordable electricity avail-able within their state, making it
attractive to pick up and move from California to wherever. Texas even went so far as to make a mock-up of a license plate that stated "Texas, we keep your lights on."

This month of March may provide some indication of just where the
computer business, among other businesses, is likely to be going for the foreseeable future. California's governor has indicated that he expects some resolution to the electricity fiasco within the next few weeks; the Fed has cut interest rates twice already
this year and may make another adjustment on the 20th of March; and President Bush has requested an across-the-board tax reduction that would be retroactive to January in order to spur the economy in a manner similar to John F. Kennedy near the end of 1962, and Ronald Reagan in 1981, both of whom reduced tax rates for the same reason: to spur economic growth, thereby minimizing or negating a recession.

The next step is to change the outlook of people around the country from being pessimistic about the outlook for the economy to being optimistic-again. Making that change can change lots of numbers in future news reports as well as economic reports.


Love Bug' to 'Kournikova' 
By Bob Wallace

For some reason it seems longer ago than just last June that we learned of the Love Bug e-mail problem, but only eight months later we're getting pelted with something named as the "Kourni-kova.jpg.vbs" e-mail 'bug'. Perhaps not inundated to the same degree as was the Love Bug problem, due in large part to early detection of this latest attachment being potentially a problem for e-mail users with the Microsoft Outlook program on their computers, and using the address book within that program.

Given yet another situation of this sort, however, makes it a good moment to focus on this type of problem for com-puter users. While attaching files to messages is relatively routine for most
of us, any time you receive a file attach you're not expecting, primarily from a friend, be very careful about what you do with that file attach. Any file attach with the VBS extension on it means that clicking on that file is likely to cause you grief and extraordinary expense in recovering from whatever it is that VBS file's instructions include within.

If you're not familiar with Visual Basic Script, or VBS, become aware of it just as quickly as you can! Such files are similar to DOS Batch files, although many computer users never bothered with them, which may  explain the vulnerability that comes with the VBS
problem not being viewed as poten- tially serious to the average computer user.

Activating a VBS file that goes into your computer's Outlook address book and sends a message to everyone listed within that book may gum up the works at your local ISP for a period of time, but instructions can also be placed within the attachment that tell your computer to do things to the files on your hard drive without your being aware of it until after the fact. Retriev-ing such files can be relatively easy if you have backups available to help you recover, or time-consuming and expen-sive if you need outside assistance to get files restored that were not backed up somewhere.

Any time you receive a message with a file attached that you're not expecting, be very careful with that file, particu-larly if it has the ".vbs" extension at the end of it as was the case with the kour-nikova.jpg.vbs attachment last month. If you have any question about clicking on any attachment, check it twice to be sure of its name before clicking on it, not try to stop some-thing after you clicked on it to begin whatever process it's been instructed to do.

Also understand that file attachments such as the Love Bug and Kournikova are being forwarded to you in e-mail without having been authorized by the individual named as the sender. This type of e-mail message is automated by the 'bug' you received from whomever it was that apparently sent it to your computer simply by locating the Outlook program and its address book, going into that list of contacts and sending a similar message to every name found in that book.

Sending 'automated' messages serves only to make it more disarming to anyone not expecting a 'bomb' to arrive via e-mail, given that the name of the sender is someone you may know quite
well. For that matter, by the time you find such a message in your incoming list of messages, anyone named in your Outlook address book is likely to have had a message sent to them with your name as the sender, and that same attachment forwarded along with it!

Which brings up a serious question  about Microsoft's Outlook program. Given all the problems related to just this one MS product, why do so many people seem almost automatically to use such a program?  Is it simply the convenience of it, it's already there and available; or the idea of having a pro-gram that "seamlessly" fits in with everything else on the hard drive?

For whatever reason it's used by so many computer users, this one e-mail program has been tied to several file attach problems within just the last year. Strange as it may seem, neither your editor nor his wife have had such attachments arrive via e-mail message. Not that we're sorry, please understand, but both of us use a program named MR/2 ICE, one being the OS/2 version, the other the Windows version. As a practical matter, the only one of two computers here likely to be affected by such an attachment is the Windows computer used by Lois, and only then if the Outlook program is used to pick up messages for some reason.

Both 'flavors' of this program were just recently updated as of February 23, 2001. Not that this should be taken as a ringing endorsement of any e-mail program in particular, just that it's
being used here, and on computers running different operating systems. For anyone interested, the URL for this specific program is: http://nick.secant.com/mr2ice.htm. Both the OS/2 and Windows versions run slightly larger than 1 Megabyte in size in ZIP format, are easy to down-load and set up, and easy to use.


I can't find my files/work 
By Judy Oliphant

Losing track of files on your computer can be very frustrating. Often, people hit the panic button, walk away, look at the window, see how many stories it would fall out of, then a smile comes over the face; or walks away from the computer, says some not so nice things back at the computer and then decides against tossing it out the window. Why not have a garage sale and make it a sale item?

The good news to all of this? Your files aren't really lost on the computer; often they are just hiding somewhere you would not expect them. But if you would do a search, you would find them. And this is easier then you would think. Easier than putting the
computer up for sale at a garage sale. Look at all the work you are avoiding by  doing this.

Yeah, I hear you all saying, "Sure it is easy, Judy, but I can't find my files/work." Stop, don't hit that panic button yet, or toss the computer out the window. Here are some handy dandy steps to finding your files/work.

Windows 98 comes with a very handy dandy tool called Windows Explorer/ tools/find. 

  1. Click on your Start button.

  2. Click on Windows Explorer.

  3. Go to Tools pull-down menu; you will see Find. Click on find/folders or files.

  4. Search by name: type in all of the name of the file, making sure the spelling is correct. Computers are only as smart as you telling it what is the name of the file. They are not good at
guessing what you were going to say or thought you said.

  5. Make sure that you say all sub-directories as well when you are doing your searching. You want it to search the entire C: drive and all of the subdirectories.

What if you wanted to find the files by date? Find can do that as well. Just click on the "by date" tab at the top of the screen. Make sure that there is a black dot in the "all files" button.
Click on the "find all files" created or modified button, select one of the three options, below it fill in the relevant dates, months, or days using the pointer. Click on the "find now" button
which will start the search, scroll down the list of files it finds until you find the one that you were looking for.

And you thought it was difficult to find your files or work. It's easy!

[One other method of checking files on your hard drive was looked at recently by your editor. My wife lost track of a file that may have been edited using WordPerfect. A quick check with the web site www.shareware.com located a program named Witzend. As the name implies, by the time you look for this program you're just about at your wit's end!  If you can recall a word or two that may be in the file you're attempting to locate, tell this program
which subdirectory (or drive/sub-directories) it should be in and let it go to work. If the text being searched for can be located by this program, it tells you which filename to look for. URL:
www.witzendsoft.com -Ed.]



Final Bytes
By Bob Wallace

One of the new tricks being attempted here at your editor's abode is to get OS/2 to run a Win3.x application, as that Win app was intended to run under Windows 3.x. Not a problem, as WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows was designed to operate under Win3.x, not necessarily under OS/2. Certainly not directly under OS/2. After installing WP 6.1 in a Win-OS/2 window, how- ever, the next step, maybe even steps, is to figure out how to get WordPerfect to 'talk' to the printer, which at the moment is not happening. Getting to that point would allow for editing and printing on the same computer, rather than having to copy to diskette and move from one computer to another, crank up WordPerfect there and insert each file into the document. As is said frequently on radio and TV, stay tuned.

This month of March marks a full year since the club's BBS computer was turned off. That means a computer taking up space here in the office. Any interest in a 486-compatible running the AMD K5-133 CPU with 4 megs of RAM included?  This in a desktop configuration, along with the EGA monitor attached.


Schedule

March 8: TBA

April 12: TBA

May 10: TBA

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