[Ed. Note:  There were two Tico Bytes issued in September of 2003, one on the 1st and another on the 8th.  Both have been included here, separated by a horizontal line. Click here to jump to the 2nd Byte.]

Dear members,

Another Tico Byte at your door for your learning pleasure.


Sept 1, 2003

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

Item 1: Cell phone cameras:

"More than 50 million camera phones will be shipped worldwide this year, including 7 million in the U.S., according to IDC, a technology research and consulting firm.

While camera phones are just beginning to catch on in the U.S., they have been selling at a feverish clip for a while in Japan, South Korea and parts of Western Europe such as Britain, Germany and Italy. "

Read the whole article here: http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/technology/article/0,1299,DRMN_49_2225208,00.html

Item 2: Plugins:

"AFTER THE SPECTACULAR $521 million judgement against Microsoft, for infringing on a patent that covers plugins in web browsers, no-one was particularly surprised to hear that the Megavole was planning an appeal. But at the same time, the software behemoth is considering what to do if it loses. Plugins are the helper programs run inside your browser and help you view content like PDF (Acrobat) files."

Here's the rest of the story: http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=11309

2. Information you can use

Item 1: An overview of file systems

A file system is a method an operating system uses to arrange data and free space on a hard drive or other storage device so it can be written to and read from. File systems create partitions which are areas of free space than can be addressed by the file system and seen as a logical drives (C: D: etc.) to be written to and read from.

The two file systems used by the various Windows operating systems are NTFS (NT File System) and FAT (File Allocation Table). FAT is an earlier file system, used first in DOS as FAT-16, then later in Windows 9x/ME as FAT-32.

The only major difference between FAT-16 and -32 is in the amount of data they can address. FAT-16 can only use up to 2GB of space on each logical drive, and FAT-32 has no such limitation. Later Microsoft operating systems like Windows 2000 and XP are fully compatible with FAT, even if it is not the default method they use to store files.

NTFS is used in Windows NT, 2000 and XP and provides a more secure and efficient method of file storage. In addition to allowing security to be implemented on individual files, NTFS also stores backup copies of essential disk information to aid in recovering from disaster.

Both file systems use the Master Boot Record(MBR) and partition table, found in the first sector of each hard drive or storage device. The MBR and partition table determine which partition(s) on the disk are bootable, and locate and pass control to that partition to boot the operating system.

If the MBR or partition table are damaged, the drive will become unbootable, and may appear to be blank if the partition information has been erased.

NTFS partitions

The first sector of NTFS partitions is reserved for the partition boot sector. This contains the information that allows the OS to read the partition. Without it, the partition cannot be accessed.

By its nature, NTFS keeps a backup copy of the boot sector on the last sector of the partition which can allow recovery programs to restore it. The FAT equivalent of this is also called the boot sector, and resides on the first sector of the partition. The difference is that FAT does not keep a backup copy of this information, making recovery much more difficult...

The first file stored on an NTFS partition is the Master File Table(MFT) which is essentially a listing of the names, properties and locations of all the other files in the partition. This is referenced by the operating system to access individual files.

NTFS stores a backup copy of this file. Data restoration software will attempt to access or restore a copy of the MFT in order to access files on the partition.

FAT partitions use something similar, called predictably enough the File Allocation Table (FAT). The FAT is also backed up on the disk, and can be restored by software. The major disadvantage of the FAT as compared to the MFT is that it needs to be located on a specific area of the partition to function, so if that area of the disk is damaged, recovery can be difficult.

When a file is deleted (removed from the recycle bin within Windows), both file systems simply mark the file as deleted. The data is not actually removed from the drive, but rather the space it takes up on the disk is now considered to be free. Consequently, if you delete a file accidentally, you have an excellent chance of being able to restore it provided you do not write more information to the disk.

In my situation, I had two NTFS partitions on the effected disk. When I ran FDISK, it wrote garbage information over certain areas of this disk, including areas of both partitions. As a result, the first partition (the one with my article on it) had lost its partition boot sector, meaning it could not be accessed normally by an operating system. The second partition had merely had crucial system files overwritten, and was unbootable, but still fully accessible once I transferred the disk to another computer.

Steps to recovery

The number one rule to follow when you have lost data is to not write anything more to the affected hard drive! This rule stands true for any situation...

If you have deleted a partition by accident, do not create another partition, just leave it blank.

If you have deleted files from the recycling bin that you realize you need, do not (if possible) save anything to the drive. The reason for this is that hard drives do not actually erase anything, not data or partitions. When you erase a file from the operating system, it is just marked on the drive as having beendeleted. When the system needs to store more data on the drive, it will consider files on the drive marked 'deleted' as being empty space, and cheerfully copy over them. If that happens then you're in big trouble.

The same rule applies twice over for partitions; since partition information just presents the operating system with a way of addressing the space available on the drive. If you wipe out a partition everything from it will seem to be gone.

So if there is no partition information, no data can be read by the operating system. This does notmean that your data it is not there however, only that you can't see it. Data-recovery programs have no such handicap.

What I had done in my zeal was to allow FDISK to test the integrity of the drive, which it does by writing a pattern of data to certain areas. Of course, in my case, many of these areas contained partition information and/or critical system files. The result was one missing partition, due to a destroyed boot sector, and one unbootable (but still readable) XP installation. The good news? I got it (almost) all back.

Here's how.

The first, and best thing to do in a data-loss situation is to make sure no more data is written to the drive. Obviously, if you have just the one partition and it's fried, you can't boot normally to the operating system. The best option in this situation is to transfer the drive to another computer, preferably one using the same file-system as your damaged partition (i.e. the same operating system, or a newer version). See the PCstats Guides sectionfor information on how to move your hard drive to another computer.

Transferring the HDD to another computer has the dual benefit of preventing the drive from being written to accidentally, and potentially allowing you to retrieve information from the disk just by using Windows Explorer to look through file structures.

If you have damaged or erased essential operating system files, but the partition information is still intact Windows will not boot. The HDD can still be read from a different operating system which is one way out of the doom and gloom.

Item 2: patches anyone?


It's the dirtiest little secret in the software industry: Patching no longer works. And there's nothing you can do about it. Except maybe patch less. Or possibly patch more.
Software today is massive (Windows XP contains 45 million lines of code) and the rate of sloppy coding (10 to 20 errors per 1,000 lines of code) has led to thousands of vulnerabilities. CERT published 4,200 new vulnerabilities last year-that's 3,000 more than it published three years ago. Meanwhile, software continues to find itself running evermore critical business functions, where its failure carries profound implications. In other words, right when quality should be getting better, it's getting exponentially worse.

The rest of the article here: http://www.csoonline.com/read/080103/patch.html

Item 3: For the more advanced users, this two year old article still has a forum running even today about the "really hidden files" in your windows system.

"There are folders on your computer that Microsoft has tried hard to keep secret. Within these folders you will find two major things: Microsoft Internet Explorer has not been clearing your browsing history after you have instructed it to do so, and Microsoft's Outlook Express has not been deleting your e-mail correspondence after you've erased them from your Deleted Items bin. (This also includes all incoming and outgoing file attachments.) And believe me, that's not even the half of it.

When I say these files are hidden well, I really mean it. If you don't have any knowledge of DOS then don't plan on finding these files on your own. I say this because these files/folders won't be displayed in Windows Explorer at all -- only DOS. (Even after you have enabled Windows Explorer to "show all files.") And to top it off, the only way to find them in DOS is if you knew the exact location of them. Basically, what I'm saying is if you didn't know the files existed then the chances of you running across them is slim to slimmer. "

The whole business is here:

3. Just for fun

Item 1:

The DOS 10 Commandments


  1. I am thy DOS, thou shall have no OS before me, unless Bill Gates gets a cut of the profits therefrom.
  1. Thy DOS is a character based, single user, single tasking, standalone operating system. Thou shall not attempt to make DOS network, multitask, or display a graphical user interface, for that would be a gross hack .
  1. Thy hard disk shall never have more than 1024 sectors. You don't need that much space anyway.
  1. Thy application program and data shall all fit in 640K of RAM. After all, it's ten times what you had on a CP/M machine. Keep holy this 640K of RAM, and clutter it not with device drivers, memory managers, or other things that might make thy computer useful.
  1. Thou shall use the one true slash character to separate thy directory path. Thou shall learn and love this character, even though it appears on no typewriter keyboard, and is unfamiliar. Standardization on where that character is located on a computer keyboard is right out .
  1. Thou shall edit and shuffle the sacred lines of CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT until DOS functions adequately for the likes of you. Giving up in disgust is not allowed.
  1. Know in thy heart that DOS shall always maintain backward compatibility to the holy 2.0 version, blindly ignoring opportunities to become compatible with things created in the latter half of this century. But you can still run WordStar 1.0
  1. Improve thy memory, for thou shall be required to remember that JD031792.LTR is the letter that you wrote to Jane Doe three years ago regarding the tax deductible contribution that you made to her organization. The IRS Auditor shall be impressed by thy memory as he stands over you demanding proof .
  1. Pick carefully the names of thy directories, for renaming them shall be mighty difficult. While you're at it, don't try to relocate branches of the directory tree, either.
  1. Learn well the Vulcan Nerve Pinch (ctrl-alt-del) for it shall be thy saviour on many an occasion. Believe in thy heart that everyone reboots their OS to solve problems that shouldn't occur in the first place.

Item 2:

Microsoft to Sell Ad Space In Error Messages

 Microsoft announced that it is selling advertising space in the error
 messages that appear in Windows. Acknowledging for the first time that
 the average user of their operating system encounters error messages
 at least several times a day, Microsoft is trying to take financial
 advantage of the unavoidable opportunity to make an ad impression.
 "We estimate that throughout the world at any given moment several
 million people are getting a "general protection fault" or "illegal
 operation" warning. We will be able to generate significant revenue by
 including a short advertising message along with it," said Microsoft
 marketing director Nathan Mirror.
 The Justice Department immediately indicated that they intend to
 investigate whether Microsoft is gaining an unfair advantage in
 reaching the public with this advertising by virtue of its
 semi-monopolistic control over error messages.
4. Social we are 
The next meeting of the PC Club will be Sept 16th at the Pan American School. Bring a friend ... or two; it's always fun and informative.
5. The Linux world
Item 1:
"Linux is a breakthrough of another kind, with major

ramifications for the software industry beyond the much
publicised threat to Microsoft..."


Item 2:

"When the City of Toronto's Children's Services Division (CSD)
recently decided to migrate 450 of its PCs over to Linux client
workstations, it really didn?t raise a lot of eyebrows..."


6. Classifieds

Anyone looking for a computer, accessories or looking to sell such, just let me know and I will put the information here in our classifieds.

Rich Redmond says that he has found UPS replacement batteries for the TripLite UPS in La Uruca at Tower Tech and at Satec in Guadalupe. If you would like more information come ask him at the next meeting.

I am still fixing computers, hardware or software at 10.000 colones/hr. Just call at 266-0123. Chuck.

7. Official items

The board of directors meets tomorrow night at 5:30 PM at Natalie's. Call Nat at 296-3059 for directions.

>From Roy:

PC Club Projects in Progress

1) AntiSpam System

This system is now functioning. I personally have had two cases of newsletters that resisted unsubscription and keep sending stuff, bulldog grip! I just dumped my disposable addresses for these two and got two more ready to go. Poof! They’re gone! This system may have more uses than I suspected at first.

See our web page for info.

2) PC Club e-mail list.

This is awaiting Board approval but is an e-mail list for all members. It will send out Club announcements such as meeting times and members may address it with questions, complaints and suggestions about the Club. The list has been set up on pc-cr.net but has not yet been activated.

3) Experimental thread-orientated e-mail list for all subjects.

This also awaits Board approval. The idea here is that a new member fills out a form specifying which subject(s) he wishes to receive. Although the list covers all subjects from needle work to living in Costa Rica to politics in the US, you may choose to receive messages related to only certain subjects or to all, as you wish. This may be a public list, not restricted to Club members. This concept does not seem to be equaled anywhere on Earth.

4) Computer problems list:

Also awaiting Board approval. A public service e-mail list available to all, both members and not, sponsored by the PC Club. People may ask and answer questions about computer hardware, software, Internet or OS. There’s no guarantee your question will be answered. All is voluntary including being on this list. Each message will publicize our PC Club and give its web site URL. “Getting to know you!” It will be made clear that, although the PC Club is not a fount of all knowledge, it is a method through which all knowledge can be made available.

Get well! Lee Cary.

That's it for today. See you next time.

Chuck Jennings <chuck@dearbetty.com>

Dear members,

There is a lot going on these days out there in the world of computing. Ergo ...here is yet another Tico Byte for your learning enjoyment.


Sept 8, 2003

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

1. What's new in computing

Item 1: A new free phone service over the Internet

This service might interest some of you:


According to one testimonial: "I've been using it for about five months now with my DSL service. It works really well. It is very clear (clearer in my opinion than a cell phone call, almost as clear as a regular phone call). For the money, it is well worth it, in my opinion."

Item 2: Free PDF Books

"In the breathless stillness of a tropical afternoon, when the air was hot and heavy, and the sky brazen and cloudless, the shadow of the Malabar lay solitary on the surface of the glittering sea. The sun--who rose on the left hand every morning a blazing ball, to move slowly through the unbearable blue, until he sank fiery red in mingling glories of sky and ocean on the right hand--had just got low enough to peep beneath the awning that covered the poop-deck, and awaken a young man, in an undress military uniform, who was dozing on a coil of rope."  For the Term of His Natural Life - Marcus Clarke

Planet PDF is now offering an assortment of some of the most popular classics -- free! Help yourself to them, and feel free to share them with your friends. We'll be adding new ones each week,


Item 3: Advanced news from Intel

Intel has started to produce sample versions of the future Prescott and Dothan processors, both of which are expected to see shipping volumes appear on the market by the end of 2003. I wouldn't add them to your Christmas list, but the Prescott desktop chip would serve as a nice winter space heater since it reportedly chews up over 100W of power. Intel is up to much more than just the new processor generations. At the upcoming Intel Developer's Forum, expected announcements include a new Xscale processor, DDR2- capable server chipsets, an additional desktop PC form factor spec and some Celeron-based set-top box gear.


Item 4: Look out for Asia; they are pretty hip

Three North Asian countries are closer to signing a deal to codevelop an open-source operating system to replace Microsoft Windows, according to a Japanese news report.
The deal is expected to bring together China, Japan and Korea in efforts to develop the software. Representatives from both private and government agencies will meet later this year to discuss the collaboration's terms, according to the report.
The three governments previously pledged to support open-source software, citing
security and cost concerns.


Item 5: Microsoft to pull out of active x

As everyone knows, ActiveX controls and the <OBJECT> tag has been a big
source of security holes in Internet Explorer.  However, it looks like
support for ActiveX controls is going to be removed from Internet
Explorer.  A small company called Eolas recently won a $521 million
judgment against Microsoft for patent infringement.  The Eolas patent
covers plugins in Web pages to show multimedia content.  

The $521 million payment covers past infringement.  Because Bill Gates
loathes to pay per-copy royalties, it looks like Microsoft is going to
either partially or completely remove support for ActiveX controls in
Internet Explorer rather than pay Eolas any more money.  


2. Information you can use

Item 1: How to put a shutoff icon on your desktop

How to Put an Icon on the Desktop to Shut down, Log off or Reboot the Computer

Want a quicker way to shut down, log off or reboot your computer, instead of going through the several clicks involved in doing it the normal way? Here's how you can create icons on the desktop that will allow you to perform any of these tasks with one click:

  1. Right click an empty spot on the desktop.

  2. In the context menu, select New | Shortcut.

  3. In the Create Shortcut wizard, where it asks you to type the location of the item, type the following: shutdown -s -t 00 (for shutdown), shutdown -r -t 00 (for restart) or shutdown -l -t 00 (for logoff). Now you can click on the appropriate icon to quickly shut down, reboot, or log off.
Item 2: Beginners firewall

When you use the Internet there are dangers around every corner. Viruses, malicious users, Trojan horses, Oh my! If these are just concepts to you, you are either lucky or well protected (or just un-connected). If these names trigger painful flashbacks to when your computer (and possibly your account balance) was rendered inoperable or compromised by one of the above, then join the club.

Either way, securing your computer against threats from the Internet is an essential step. If you do not, you will, at some point, regret it. Guaranteed.

This article is intended to provide some basic guidelines for securing your computer


Item 3: From our own beloved Bill Lawrence - a reliable phone service

Hello Chuck,

For any of the members that have a need for calling all over the world like
I do, I have a very reliable and good connection service that I would be
willing to introduce the members of the PC club to.

I use an ordinary phone and  I dial a number to Racsa for a very high speed
line and then I dial the number I want.

A call to the USA is ten cents a minute.  Other parts of the world it can be
less.  The set up cost is $100.

Bill Lawrence
Zarpe Travel
Toll Free. 1-866-627-5525
Tel. 001-506-228-0190

Item 4: Do you have blurry photos?

I've been taking bad photos lately. They're either blurry or have red eye. I have digital photos of the kids that are adorable except for the red eye. You can buy a plug-in to correct it, but I wanted to do it on my own. OK, yeah, I am cheap. It worked. This is exactly how to do it in Photoshop 7 though technique works in Photoshop 4+, Photoshop LE, and Photoshop Elements:
Open the image.
     1. Right-click on the image's title (blue box up top) and select Duplicate.
     2. Close the original image.
     3. Click Windows | Documents | New Window. This opens another copy, but whatever you do to the copy will happen to the image. In other words, it's the same document with two views.
     4. Zoom on one window to 100%.
     5. Zoom on the other window as close as possible to get a close view of the eyes.
     6. Have both windows in full view. Resize as needed to accomplish this.
     7. Create a new layer (doesn't matter which window).
     8. Use the eye dropper to pick a color from the iris of the eye, which is usually a gray or black tint with eye color. I couldn't do this since the iris was completely red, so I opened another photo with the same person and used the eye dropper on that photo.
     9. Switch to the brush tool and select a soft-edged brush.
    10. Resize the pixel as needed.
    11. With the layer selected, right-click on the layer | Blending Options | Blend Mode | Color.
    12. In the Layers box, click Opacity and set it low around 30%. Experiment.
    13. Paint over the red part of the eye on the new layer.
    14. When satisfied with the results, merge down and save or File | Save for Web | Save as a JPG file.
    15. Other things to try in the process:

After painting the iris, click Filters | Blur | Gaussian and try a 1-pixel blur to soften the edges. With the layer selected, right-click on the layer | Blending Options | Blend Mode | Saturation. This takes the red out, but might leave the eyes too gray and hollow.

If so, duplicate the saturation layer by dragging the layer to the New Layer icon. Right-click on the new (copied) layer | Blending Options | Blend Mode | Hue. This should put color back while preserving highlights. If the color is too strong, lower the opacity of the Hue layer. [Meryl]

Item 5: More Micorsoft mess

The world's No. 1 software maker says a flaw in its ubiquitous office suite of programs could allow a really mean user to access your computer and do really mean things (like run programs and delete files, for instance). So, if you use any version of Office, Word, FrontPage, Publisher, or Works Suite, you should visit this link to see if you're at risk.


Item 6: This is the latest in phone service and music stuff


Item 7: New virus alert (this probably should have come first, as it came in two days ago)

Virus Alert About the W32/Mimail@MM Virus
The information in this article applies to:

    * Microsoft Outlook Express 6 for Windows
    * Microsoft Outlook Express 5.5 for Windows
    * Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0
    * Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5
    * Microsoft Outlook 2002
    * Microsoft Outlook 2000

The W32/Mimail@MM is a new e-mail worm. The Microsoft Product Support Services Security Team is issuing this alert to inform customers about this new worm. This worm appears to be spreading. Best practices, such as applying security patches, should prevent infection from this worm. Review the information and then take the appropriate action for your environment.
The virus is received as an e-mail attachment with the following format:

From: Admin

Subject: your account %user%

Importance: High

Hello there, I would like to inform you about important information regarding your e-mail address. This e-mail address will be expiring. Please read attachment for details.

--- Best regards, Administrator

Attachment: message.zip

The attached .zip file contains a file named Message.htm. This file automatically creates the file Foo.exe in the Temporary Internet Files folder and then runs it.

The following files are created in the Windows (%WinDir%) folder:

    * Videodrv.exe (19,824 bytes)
    * Exe.tmp (20,445 bytes)
    * Zip.tmp (20,567 bytes)

The following registry run key with the value of "VideoDriver" = C:\WINNT\videodrv.exe is created to load the worm at startup:


This worm uses a previously-announced vulnerability as part of its infection method. Because of this, make sure that your computer is patched for the vulnerability that is identified in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-014:


If your computer has been infected with this virus, contact Microsoft Product Support Services or your preferred antivirus vendor for help with removing the virus. For information about how to contact Microsoft Product Support Services, visit the following Microsoft Web site:


3. Just for fun

Great news for Bill Gates

Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and Bill Gates were called in by God. God informed them that he was very unhappy about what was going on in this world. Since things were so bad, he told the three that he was destroying the Earth in 3 days. They were all allowed to return to their homes and businesses and tell their friends and colleagues what was happening. God did tell them though, that no matter what they did he was "not" changing his mind.

Bill Clinton went in and told his staff, "I have good news and bad news for you. First the good news . . . there "is" a God. The bad news is that he is destroying the Earth in 3 days."

Boris Yeltsin went back and told his staff, "I have good news and terrible news. The first is that there "is" a God. The second is that he is destroying the Earth in 3 days."

Bill Gates went back and told his staff, "I have good news and good news. First, God thinks I am one of the three most important people in the world. Secondly, you don't have to fix the bugs in Windows XP.

4. Social we are

Well in fine form, I published the wrong date for the next get together of the PC Club. Now for the right one:

We will have the regular September meeting at The Pan American School, near the Panasonic, on Sept 20th at 9AM.

5. The Linux world

Item 1: The SCO hassle

"The SCO Group Inc. has been fined $10,800 for violating a German
court's ruling that SCO must cease claiming that the Linux source
code violates its intellectual property, the Lindon, Utah, company
confirmed on Monday.

"The fine comes nearly three months after a regional court in Munich
issued the court order in response to a suit brought by the
non-profit Linux conference organization, LinuxTag e.V., and IT
consulting firm Tarent GmbH."


Item 2: Linux is getting scholarly
"With Linux finding its way into larger slices of mainstream
America, it makes sense that the open source operating system
has also found favor among a swath of scholarly pursuits..."


Item 3: From a Linux group
"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday issued a formal
Information Notice to nuclear power plant operators warning them
about an incident in January in which the Slammer computer worm
penetrated networks at Ohio's Davis-Besse nuclear plant and disabled
two important monitoring systems for hours.

"The notice is the NRC's first public acknowledgement of the
incident, which was first reported by SecurityFocus last month."


<grin> DUH!  What's even worse is most of the military runs on
Yes Sir Henry;

I even heard on on of the TV networks that two employees at different sites were
talking.  One ask why nothing had been done and the other replied - our computer is
not working.  Let me guess which OS this was running.

So far one aircraft carrier and a power plant down due to NT.
When will the US learn or be willing to listen?

Item 4: the jury is in on Linux

"The jury is in. After years of experimentation with Linux in the
enterprise, customers, analysts, and vendors are starting to sing a
consistent tune about where Linux makes financial sense and where it

"Although Linux is often thought of as a free alternative to
established OSes such as Windows and proprietary Unix"


6. Classifieds

Roy Lent has one hard drive and one video card for sale. I have one external zip drive for sale. For any of these contact
Chuck@pc-cr.net or call 266-01-23.

If anyone needs computer repair, I am available at 10.000 colones/hr to fix anything on or in your computer. Lessons at 6.000 colones/hr. Contact
chuck@pc.-cr.net or call 266-01-23.

7. Official items

At the next meeting we will be discussing our legal status. This is an important discussion and we need your input.

Also we will have a class by Roy Lent on making web sites and all that entails.

Another discussion will include the direction and stance of the club
for the future.

There will be "Open Access" with Sam Butler and topics of immediate interest.

See you there.

That's it for this one.

Chuck Jennings <chuck@dearbetty.com>