20 Aug 2004 08:46:27 -0600 (CST)

 

 

Dear members,

 

Our regular meeting is this next Saturday at the Panamerican School in

Belen at 8:30AM. This time we will have the extraordinary session to

vote to change certain bylaws to reflect the election of officers to

coincide with the fiscal year. Also, we will have our new Class for

Beginners, hosted by Rhoda Obelensky for persons new to computing. That

will happen during the first part of the meeting, as we will also have

the Hardware and Software Clinic for more advanced users. The agenda for

Saturday looks like this:

8:30 - 10   Class for Beginners or Hardware and Software Clinics

          The Clinics will include:

                1. Printers and ink discussion of problems    Rich to

host this discussion

                2. Discussion of personal digital assistants (some

people call them Palms)

                3. Music and video into your computer by Bill Lawrence;

and maybe a friend

                4.  Problems/solutions general discussion Sam to host

10 - 10:15 General meeting

10:15 - 10:30 Extraordinary session to vote on changes

10:45 - 12 Class on greeting cards; this is a follow up for anyone who

was in the class previously; hosted by Jean Redmond

 

And on with the items for this issue:

Item 1: Computer continuously reboots<>

 

Windows XP Repeatedly Restarts at Loading Windows

 

If you make a major change to your Windows XP system such as replacing

your motherboard or moving your hard drive to another system, you may

find that Windows will not boot properly. Specifically, you might find

yourself in an endless loop where Windows repeatedly reboots when it

gets to the "Loading Windows" screen. This is the black and white bar

located at the bottom of the screen after the computer goes through POST.

 

 

This happens because your hard drive contains drivers and information

about your old hardware which causes conflicts that prevent Windows from

loading properly. The "Last Known Good Configuration" option will not

help since it will only load the drivers for hardware that no longer

exists. LKGC works when you have installed a new piece of hardware such

as an expansion card and then the computer won't boot properly. You can

then remove the new addition and use the LKGC option.

 

 

Safe mode will also not do any good in this situation. I also tried

booting into the recovery console and deleting the C:\Windows\Driver

Cache\i386\Driver.cab which also did not work. The fixmbr and fixboot

options will not help either. <>

The fix for this is to boot from the Windows CDROM or boot disks. Setup

will copy files to your hard drive and you will then be presented with

an option to press "R" to repair the installation using the recovery

console or install Windows. Select the option to install Windows. When

you get to the license agreement, click "agree". You will then find

yourself at a screen that has another repair option if you press "R". Do

this. <>

 

Windows will then delete some files, copy some files and then reboot.

When the system reboots, make sure that you do not boot from the boot

disks or CDROM. Windows will then load what appears to be the GUI

portion of setup. This is where I nearly had a heart attack the first

time I did this. DO NOT WORRY - Windows is installing over your previous

installation, not replacing it despite what it looks like. You will even

have to enter the CD Key again. <>

 

Once you finish the repair process, you will reboot again and your

system should come up normally. If so, you will need to activate Windows

again and make sure that you reapply any service packs or security updates.

 

Item 2: A new Mydoom virus

 

MyDoom.O infects a computer when an e-mail carrying the worm is opened.

It can carry the name of a colleague or friend, and may also ask users

to download programs to fix a problem. The scariest bit: Experts believe

the capabilities of worms can only be expected to increase.

 

 

Now, based on what Computer Associates calls "extremely intensive

activity levels and exponential growth," the threat level for MyDoom.O

has been raised to 'high'.

What this means is, if you have just been sent unsolicited e-mail with

subject lines like 'hello', 'error', 'status', 'Message could not be

delivered', 'Delivery reports about your e-mail' or 'Returned mail: Data

format error', opening these may not be the brightest of ideas. You've

been warned.

 

How to avoid MyDoom

 

Here is some basic care you must take to keep your computer safe.

 

    * The virus comes as an attachment to what is seemingly a bounced

message sent from an infected computer's e-mail account. It invites a

user to open the attachment to see why the message never reached its

destination. Do not open the attachment because this will launch the

virus. Security experts generally advise computer users to avoid opening

any e-mail attachment unless it is sent by a trusted person and it was

expected.

 

    * Make sure that your anti-virus software is current. Most

anti-virus providers update their software to be on the lookout for this

version of MyDoom.

 

   * If you open the attachment and the anti-virus software is not

updated -- or you just don't have any anti-virus software installed --

your computer will be infected. If this happens, immediately download,

install and run one of the free tools offered by several Internet

security companies like Network Associates's McAfee.com

http://vil.nai.com/vil/stinger/, F-Secure Inc.

http://www.f-secure.com/v-descs/mydoom_m.shtml, Symantec

http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.mydoom.m@mm.html

and Trend Micro http://www.trendmicro.com/download/dcs.asp.

 

Item 3. Do you have ants in your computer, printer or fax machine?

 

This tip from Lee Cary:

Use moth crystals inside your computer case and the bugs will leave.

Faced with this problem, Lee first froze them, but later found that this

method works.

 

Item 4 Making your own background for your desktop

 

The command center for anything having to do with your monitor or

desktop is the Display Properties dialog box. You can access it from the

Appearance And Themes category of the Control Panel

<cid:part2.06010401.02000900@racsa.co.cr> or by right-clicking any

unoccupied spot on the desktop and choosing Properties from the shortcut

menu.

 

You aren't limited to the backgrounds that come with Windows. You can

use any image file--like a digital or scanned picture of your kids--as a

background. Any image file that you move to your My Pictures folder

automatically appears in the Background list on the Desktop tab of the

Display Properties dialog box. If the file is somewhere else on your

system, you can click the Browse button and find the file in the Browse

dialog box that appears.

 

Select a background image or pattern from the Desktop tab of the Display

Properties dialog box. The Background box on that tab lists all the

background image options that Windows knows about. Click a name in this

list to see the image displayed in the preview box--the monitor-like

graphic just above the list.

 

A background image is a file in an HTML or image format (with the

extension .bmp, .jpg, .gif, or .tif). That image has a size, which may

or may not match the dimensions of your display. If the image is smaller

than the display, the Position drop-down list (to the right of the

Background list) gives you three choices:

 

    * *Center* Puts the image in the center of the display, letting the

      background color of the desktop form a frame around the image.

      This is your best choice for photographs that are slightly smaller

      than the display.

    * *Tile* Repeats the image to fill the display with the image. This

      works particularly well with patterns such as Black Thatch or

      Houndstooth, which are small images designed to create intricate

      patterns when tiled.

    * *Stretch* Stretches the image to fill the display. Photographs end

      up looking like fun house mirrors, but many abstract patterns

      stretch well.

 

If the image you choose is larger than your display, Center and Tile

both give you a single copy of the image, with the edges of the image

off the screen. If this isn't satisfactory, you can use Paint to crop

the image <cid:part3.04040305.03080605@racsa.co.cr>, or you can redefine

the dimensions of your display <cid:part4.06060202.00010009@racsa.co.cr>.

 

When the preview in the Display Properties dialog box looks the way you

want, click either OK (which closes the dialog box) or Apply (which

applies your change but leaves the dialog box open).

 

Item 5. What about this new big deal update from Microsoft Service Pack 2?

 

Here is what I recommend, as does Fred Langa from the Langa List:

 

Go Slow With XP's SP2

 

Many readers are wondering what to do about XP's SP2, which is starting

to trickle out in a limited release. But over the next few weeks, just

about all XP users will be offered the download in a carefully sequenced

rollout designed to prevent the overload of Microsoft's servers.

 

When you're offered SP2, my advice is: Do nothing; wait a bit.

 

SP2 is huge--- so big it's almost a whole new version of XP. Like any

new version of any OS, it *will* contain bugs, and it *will* cause

trouble on some setups. The more complex and/or nonstandard your setup

is, the greater the likelihood of a problem.

 

Plus, there's no "must have right now" element to SP2: Much of SP2 is

designed to force uninformed (or just plain lazy!) PC users to use basic

security--- to stay current with updates, to use a firewall, etc. (These

are the users running the unpatched/unprotected systems that allow most

worms/viruses to spread.)

 

But odds are, if you're reading this newsletter, you already know about

and are using pretty good security practices, such as good firewall,

antivirus and anti-spyware tools, and you're keeping up to date with

Critical Updates. If that's the case, you won't gain a lot by rushing

into SP2.

 

Instead, wait a bit--- even as much as a month or two--- to let the

worst problems with SP2 come to light and be fixed on other user's PCs.

Again, as long as you're already using the kinds of security tools and

techniques we discuss in this newsletter every week (example:

http://www.informationweek.com/840/langa.htm ), there's no need to rush

into SP2.

 

I'm not the only one suggesting this "go slow" approach. See, for

example these other authors:

http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/60.htm

http://channelzone.ziffdavis.com/article2/0,1759,1633858,00.asp

 

But if you absolutely must try it as soon as you can, MAKE A FULL IMAGE

BACKUP OF YOUR SYSTEM! (There, I hope that got your attention! <g>) You

can use a free trial version of BootIt for example (

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/ ), and have a bulletproof way to roll

your system back to pre-SP2 condition if things don't work out. Note that

standard uninstall, backup or roll-back tools (like Go Back) may NOT

suffice for an update of this size and scope. If you want to be 100% sure

you can undo SP2 in its totality, you *must* use a heavy-duty imaging tool. See

http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-q=imaging&sp-a=0008002a-sp00000000 .

 

But for most of us, the answer's simpler: Relax! Take a break, and let

others blaze a trail for you!  Eventually, SP2 will be worth installing,

but for most of us--- almost everyone--- there's no particular need for,

or benefit from, being an early adopter.

 

That's it for this Tico Byte; see you at the meeting on Saturday.

 

Chuck Jennings