Here is what was recently sent-note that the most important item (about the regular meeting this Saturday the 15th (Feb, 2003)) is at the END- No #7

Dear PC Club members and trial members,

Good stuff this week from various contributors. And next Saturday's meeting ought to be a real winner.


1. What's new in computing
2. Information you can use
3. Just for fun
4. Social we are
5. The Linux world
Official items

1. What's new in computing

We have a contribution from our man Roy:


Few of us realize what is going on in the VW scene. No I'm not speaking of the
famous car but of Virtual Worlds. The biggest, Norrah on the 24 server
Everquest system, has an economy with a total value equal to the real country,
Russia! At times there are over 60,000 people online in this virtual world. It,
like many others, is based on a role playing game, with lots of adventure and
killing, and as such the average participating age is in the 20's. The
social/knowledge/magical/combat system is extremely complex and can take
hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars to master.

Oncoming are less violent systems such as SIMs On Line. Or the Entropia
World, for which see:

This Swedish effort makes no secret of its intentions, to conquer the World, our
real one! The big discovery here is that people will spend money for virtual
items, such as clothing and equipment for their avatar. The avatar being a 3D
figure designed by its owner.
Its relation with its real owner’s person may be
similar or very different, in any way.

A woman who buys a new pair of shoes rarely would have to go barefoot if she
didn't buy them. She's got plenty of perfectly good shoes! She's making a
personal statement and, in a VW will do the same. She'll spend money of
clothing for her avatar, even if it’s male! Some of these "game" systems are
bringing in thousands of dollars every day. And no sales tax! On a virtual hat for
an avatar?
Don't be silly.

What would you need to participate? Well, for starters, a top computer. Your
ole "clunk-along" computer just isn't going to hack it!  You'll also need a low
cost, high bandwidth Internet connection. (Like ICE is going to deliver in a
decade or two!) I tried to download the basic Entropia program (See above) and
discovered that, with my machine and phone connection it was going to take
183 hours. And most companies charge a fee, usually less than $10 per month
to play.

So all this is just silly, childish game stuff? Well, not exactly. The Norrah
currency, the PP (platinum piece) has an exchange value a little more than one
US cent and there are people who make money buying and selling PP and, for
that matter, many other virtual world items! The Entropia _Project hopes to
move a significant part of the World’s economy into a VW situation using their
PED (Project Entropia Dollar) with a value of $10 each! And these companies
with VWs are making good money and have growing bank accounts in spite of
the present economic picture. There’s something to learn here!

Roy Lent

2. From Sam:

Here is a new site for testing Internet speed, besides the one I forwarded from Bruce Zuckerman.

Sam Butler's permanent e-mail address is

And from Fred Langa:

Dusting Off An Old Tip

     Hi, Fred --- A shame the 'PrintScreen' key has been virtually
     useless since the advent of any Windows OS.  This must be an
     issue with more than a few Win users who have occasional need
     to print monitor screen frames. And this without calling up
     something like
HyperSnap or other utility. Is there any
     'trick' code to make the Prt/Screen key do what its name
     implies? Much appreciate your Plus Newsletter. --- Don M

Actually, it's worked all long--- but in a non-obvious way. (Ah,
Windows....) On its own, the PrintScreen key (or PrintScr or Print
Screen or whatever it's called on your system) triggers a little routine
that captures the current screen--- your desktop--- to the clipboard.
But here's the weird part: It does so invisibly, with no indication that
anything actually happened. However, you can then paste the stored image
into any graphics-capable program and print it from there; or print
direct from the clipboard if you have a clipboard utility running.

Try it: Hit your PrintScr  key now, then open a tool like Paint--- or
even Word, or any graphics-capable editing tool--- and then click Paste:
an image of your current screen will be pasted into the open
application. It's that simple--- and that non-obvious!

3. Just for fun

(Every now and then a good "groaner" is the right thing.)

Once there was a mad scientist who worked by himself in his
He was so lonely that one day, he decided to clone
     himself. Everything worked perfectly, except that the clone
     had a very foul mouth. The scientist worked with the clone,
     but alas, he could not make the clone clean up his language.
     He got so tired of the clone's language that one day he pushed
     him off the end of a cliff. A policeman rushed up to him, and
     yelled "You are under arrest! You are under arrest!"

     "What for?" the mad scientist asked. "Murder? Or would it be

     And the policeman's answer was, "Neither. It's for making an
     obscene clone fall."

4. Social we are

(Note: As your new president, I am hoping that this part of our activity will improve. I, personally, want to see this club grow to be more social. However, I haven't yet found the magic to make it happen. So I continue to work on it. Stay tuned; offer your contributions; and it will come about sooner than later.)

5. The Linux world

Earlier I told you all that Linux comes in many flavors. Let me explain:

Because Linux began ten years ago as "open source" (i.e. free to anyone who wants to work on it and make it whatever they want) people took it and added different applications to what they wanted, giving their version a name pertinent to their "distribution".  Some groups became "commercial", in that they had a lot invested, thought it would be what people wanted and decided to sell it. That is all within the rules of "open source". In fact, that's the guarantee of the GPL license (Gnu Public License): that no one can restrict the ownership of this software; it belongs to all.

As a result, today many versions (or distributions) have come and gone, while a few have been successful and have stayed around.

Two commercial distributions and one "free purist group" have become the principal distributions that you may hear about when talking to Linux aficionados.  Red Hat in the U. S., SuSE in Europe and Debian everywhere are the names most heard. Recently, manufacturers and national sales stores are teaming up to sell computers with "Lindows" installed, in an attempt to save money and offer a rock bottom price to people wanting new computers. Lindows attempts to emulate Windows and make it easy to switch over to Linux.

A distribution, such as Red Hat or SuSE, will cost the average person about $40 for a copy of the operating system. A professional version will run about $70. But Debian is free of charge, and will remain that way, as it is supported by a group of programmers who make improvements for free.  But the charge by Red Hat and SuSE not only supports the company, it also makes it possible for purchasers to receive technical support for installation and operation of their systems. With Debian, there is no company support.

But don't get the idea that these are the only good versions of Linux. There are at least 100 others that have their own strengths and advantages. They are made for people who want customized uses of the operating system. Each one is vying for a place in the future of Linux. Each one would like to hit the nerve of the computer user market and find their rightful place in putting Linux on the world's desktops.

Next time, I will talk about what's happening with Linux in foreign countries.

See you then,


6. Classifieds

(As a club member, you have a right to place a classified ad here, if you have something to sell or make notice of. Just send it along to me and I will see that it gets placed here.)

Computer Take Apart Class: we are meeting for the next three Fridays, taking a computer apart to learn what makes it tick. It's free, open to all. We meet in Escazu at 1PM. Contact: Chuck Jennings,

7. Official items

As a new feature, we are offering a question and answer section here in the newsletter. Our first question, comes from Natalie Omara.

WHY does my computer freeze up intermittantly (last week about
5 or 6 times)??  Natalie

The answer is: if you are running Windows (I happen to know that she is), it is because you have a conflict between programs trying to access the same thing in order to do their jobs. When this occurs, the two applications meet at a location on your hard drive, trying to access the same thing and they "get stuck". The system freezes. It can't handle it.

Something that people may not understand is that Windows, these days, likes to have a whole host of programs "running in the background"; having them start up when the computer boots and placing an icon down on the task bar to show you that they are ready for action. These programs may have routines that they run periodically while you have the computer on, and you don't know that they are performing that routine. So, when you ask your computer to do something (while you are doing work), a program running in the background may conflict with what you are trying to do and the computer freezes.

A fix for this is to reduce the number of programs that start up at boot. (Or you can do what I do: run Linux, which is a multi-tasking operating system and doesn't crash because of this.) The specific way to remove these offending programs is the subject of another lesson.

Report on the Take Apart Group:

The Take Apart Group met at Pat and Norma Latouf's home in Escazu on Friday. Here is a picture of the happy group.

A good time was had by all. And Norma said the next day:
Chuck, thanks so much for the class yesterday.  I really enjoyed it as I feel like I'm starting from the ground up.  I'm going to take my computer case off today and look at the guts while it's still fresh in my mind.  Next week I'll set the table up in a different area as I don't think everyone had a good view.  Looking forward to it.  Thanks again, Norma

Regular Meeting - Feb 15, 2003 (that's next Saturday, folks)

We are going to have a very special meeting this month, as we are having two very experienced computer people coming to give us talks.

The first talk we will have is from Enrique Herrera, from Intel.
"Born: New Orleans, USA (lived all my life in CR).
Age: I saw the birth of TV, the PC, etc...
Professional Experience:
Twenty six years of experience in data processing dealing with technical,
scientific, administrative and manufacturing data processing applications.
Managing and supervision of professional personnel in related fields.
Managing by objectives and supervision of professional personnel in related
Information, computer systems and installation's security by raising
employee awareness, developing, improving and interpreting policies in
addition to performing risk assessments and audits. Technical support and
training to programmers and end users.  Implementation and support of system
software, data communication networks (local area networks WINDOWS 2000/NT,
VINES and NOVELL) and Intrusion Detection Systems.
Development of
traditional business applications in a broad range of environments.
experience in PC environments ranging from standalone to LANs to WANs."

Policy, Awareness & Training
IT Risk Management & Compliance (aka.
Corporate Information Security)
Intel, Costa Rica

The second speaker will be John Goold.
"Born in England the same day as the U.N. Moved to Capetown, South Africa when 8 years old. Thence to Western Canada (Saskatchewan); Central Canada (Manitoba); and Eastern Canada (Toronto, Ontario), when entering Grade 10. Lived most of life in Toronto where became Canadian citizen.

B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Toronto (1981). Worked professionally in the computer field for over 30 years, last few years as an independent consultant on "software configuration management"."

These two very experienced people have volunteered to talk to us about their lives in the computing world. I think this meeting will be a "once in a life time" chance to meet and chat with people whose lives have revolved around what you and I do for a pastime.

So do come to the meeting. It is time to renew your dues for the year. Remember, the more we do together, the more fun we will have.

The meeting is at St Paul's High School at 9AM this Saturday, Feb 15th. Park in front. I am attaching a map for your convenience.

See you next time.


Sam Butler's permanent e-mail address is