Next Meeting is July 8 at 7:30pm
WHERE TO FIND SVCUG:
1st SVCUG BBS Number: 805-526-6196 2nd SVCUG BBS Number: 805-522-9127 Web Site: http://www.svcug.org
Demo of Y2K Testing
at the Simi Valley Public Library
Volume XV, Issue XVII
“The “All Types of Computers” Club
Next Meeting - Thursday, July 8
(7:30pm at the Simi Valley Library)
Y2K Testing on Lotsa Computers
(call 805-581-2495 if you want to bring yours)
Jesse's Y2K Home Checklist
Jesse Berst, Editorial Director ZDNet AnchorDesk Whenever I mention the Year 2000 bug, I get completely
different responses from my staff. Tech Director Jon DeKeles is quick to assure me he's got our computers under control. Web whiz Annette Hamilton groans about all the alarmists who worry the sky is falling. Mention Y2K to Associate Editor Nicci Noteboom and she frets about not having a date for New Year's Eve. And Managing Editor Liz Enbysk wonders when she's going to find time to make sure the gear in her house is Y2K-ready. Liz got me thinking. There's an industry symposium on Y2K preparation this week in San Francisco. Last week representatives of over 170 countries were at the United Nations to assess global Y2K progress. (http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/ stories/news/0,4586,2280134,00.html) And a recent survey of Fortune 1000 companies revealed 85% of them are now building crisis management centers to control Y2K damage -- because they realize they may not have time to fix the problems. (http://www.zdnet.com/enterprise/zdy2k/stories/ 0,6158,2268808,00.html) But what about all the households with one, two, even three computers? Not to mention VCRs, surveillance systems and other date-sensitive electronic gear? It's almost July 1 and that means you've got six months to get your home wired for the next millennium. Use my Y2K checklist to help figure out what you've got to do as the millennium countdown continues: Start simple. Bump the clock on your PC to some date in 2000 and see if your system will continue to work. Dig deeper by running the three tests suggested by PC Computing. (see RU OK 4 Y2K? later in this newsletter) Get BIOS details. Check with your PC vendor to see if your BIOS is compliant or if a fix utility is needed. If you use Windows 95 or 98, you can use PC Magazine's online compliance test to check
your BIOS. (http://cgi.zdnet.com/zdy2k/y2k.pl) Software can help. A number of programs will analyze your hardware and software for Y2K issues. Jon thinks the latest desktop/laptop version of Norton 2000 is a nice one for consumers and small businesses with its Fix Assistant to help automate repetitive and tedious remediation tasks. Run compliance checks. You've got to know if the software you're running is Y2K compliant. But the Web is a hotbed of out-dated information. Best advice is to compile an inventory of your software, then go directly to vendor Web sites to track product status. There are also Web-based services that track app upgrades. (Norton 2000 review from Computer Shopper: http://www.zdnet.com/products/stories/reviews/ 0,4161,402229,00.html) Y2K expert Mitch Ratcliffe insists no microwave, alarm clock, washer, dryer, refrigerator or radio will stop functioning after midnight, Dec. 31, 1999 due to a hidden chip. But there are a few things to watch for: Date-aware equipment like camcorders may display the wrong date, but will still work Pre-1988 VCRs will need to be reset to pre-2000 dates to allow preset recording Older digital watches may tell time, but not the correct date. (see Y2K Compliance Web Tracking Services in this newsletter). For more assurance, below Ratcliffe has compliance details on everything from coffee pots to digital watches.
Consumer FAQ: Appliances
By Mitch Ratcliffe - ZDY2K Q: Will my household appliances be on the fritz in 2000? A: This is one of the most pernicious myths of Y2K, fed by the offhand comments of an analyst before Congress and having been repeated without corroboration until it’s taken as the truth. But, a myth it is. No microwave, alarm clock, washer, dryer, refrigerator or radio will cease to function because of a chip hidden inside. A few appliances, like camcorders that are dateaware, will display the wrong date, otherwise they will operate normally. VCRs manufactured before 1988, if
they still work, will need to be reset to pre-2000 dates to allow preset recording. According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the organization "is not aware of any anticipated problems or disruptions associated with home appliance operation and use related to the Year 2000." Strictly speaking, the AHAM is wrong, because the Panasonic PV-320 camcorder, among a few others, will not display the correct date after December 31, 1999, but its owner will still be able to record the New Year’s festivities. A few digital watches and cameras manufactured before 1988 may display the wrong date, as well. Myth within myth More news stories than you can count have repeated some variation on the January 1, 2000, scenario that begins with an alarm clock that doesn’t go off followed by malfunctioning coffee makers and microwave ovens. It just won’t happen. Tell that to Ann Coffou, a Giga Group analyst who twice told Congressional committees that appliances were susceptible to the Y2K problem. Her testimony has been quoted and pointed to as proof that the Y2K-afflicted coffee maker. A spokesperson for the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association replied to Coffou’s testimony that it was "ridiculous. Appliance microprocessors, if they have a timing function, operate on a daily, weekly or fortnightly cycle, not a yearly schedule." The Federal Trade Commission explains that consumer appliances "may have chips that track cycles rather than dates, and are... unlikely to have a Y2K problem." Researching the appliance question, though, is a journey down paths that circle back on themselves endlessly. The myth has been repeated so many times that you’ll find sites that back up claims that appliances will fail with links to stories that, upon investigation, point to back to the first site. Coffou’s testimony is the only example of an otherwise credible expert on Y2K stating that appliances could be afflicted. Her comments have been echoed across the Web. Appliance makers have been little help, contributing much to the problem by their silence. The FTC criticized the industry after surveying the availability of Y2K compliance information about household appliances. The informal poll found that of product descriptions of 40 television, camcorder and VCRs, only 11 included Y2K data. Of 90 ranges, microwave ovens, dishwashers, furnaces and air conditioners just four provided Y2K compliance information. The informational voids around products were filled by rumor and myth.
Kitsap County, Washington, recently conducted a survey of microwave manufacturers that confirms ZDY2K’s findings. Recognizing that senior citizens cook almost exclusively with microwaves, the county’s emergency planners called retailers and manufacturers and found that none of the devices are likely to fail due to Y2K. What you can do There’s no assurance that every appliance ever made will function normally in 2000, and we’re sure that there will be a few coincidental failures on January 1, but you can rest easy about your home. Take a few minutes to walk around and catalog your appliances. Do any of them have a date function? If so, and you are concerned, contact the manufacturer. It is not necessary to tear your house apart looking for potential Y2K problems, unless you happen to be Bill Gates, the only person whose home is truly "intelligent" - his $65 million home is chock full of embedded systems. Yours isn’t. Appliances will work, if the power is on. There is no evidence to the contrary, and there would be by now, if there were a problem. Yes, there are some older gadgets, like VCRs and digital watches, that will do odd things, but the VCR will still record and play back programs and the watch tell the time, albeit not the correct date. If you find an appliance that will be affected by Y2K, don’t take it as proof that there are problems everywhere; it is the exception. The facts Here’s what we know about the consumer appliance world’s Y2K compliance: Televisions According to Sony, Hitachi, Toshiba, Sharp, Samsung and Panasonic, their television and television/ VCR combination products are Y2K compliant. Thomson, maker of RCA, GE and Proscan brands, does not provide Y2K compliance information. JVC provides Y2K compliance information about individual products at its Web site. Coffee machines Sunbeam (Mr. Coffee), Black &
Decker, and Norelco machines are Y2K compliant. Camcorders
According to Panasonic, all its video camcorders, except models PV-320, PV-330, PV-S350, VM-21AC, VM22AC, VM-26AC, VM27-AC, are compliant. All Sony consumer camcorders are Y2K compliant. All Sharp camcorders are Y2K compliant. JVC provides Y2K compliance information about individual products at its Web site. Samsung does not provide Y2K compliance
information. VCRs Current Sharp, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung VCRs are compliant. All Toshiba VCRs with a model number beginning with "M" are compliant. Some Sony VCR handheld controls made for the Japanes and European markets have a Y2K problem that affects the ability to do preset taping. JVC provides Y2K compliance information about individual products at its Web site. Sanyo does not provide Y2K information. Older models, made before 1990 or 1988, may experience problems with the date setting, but not basic operation. Gas ranges and ovens According to the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, none of its members makes a gas range that will be affected by Y2K problems. Electric ranges and ovens According to Kenmore, Kitchen Aid, and Maytag (and its subsidiary, Magic Chef) their products are Y2K compliant. Sanyo and Frigidaire do not provide Y2K compliance information. Microwave ovens According to Panasonic, Sharp, Kenmore, Kitchen Aid, Brother, Samsung, and Goldstar, their microwaves ovens are Y2K compliant. Sanyo does not provide Y2K compliance information. Refrigerators The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers explains that refrigerators don’t have dateaware functions. Samsung (which makes some Whirlpool refrigerators), does not provide Y2K information. Thermostats According to Honeywell, Emerson Electric, and Carrier Corp., the programmable thermostats they make are not Y2K susceptible. Thermostat maker Cadet doesn’t supply Y2K compliance information, but its products operate on a seven-day clock. Dishwashers According to Maytag, Whirlpool and Kenmore their products are Y2K compliant. Frigidaire does not provide Y2K compliance information. Washing machines According to Maytag, Whirlpool and Kenmore, their products are Y2K compliant. Bendix and Frigidaire do not provide Y2K compliance information. Clothes Dryers According to Maytag, Whirlpool and Kenmore, their products are Y2K compliant. General Electric and Frigidaire do not provide Y2K compliance information. Furnaces According to the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, none of its members makes a gas furnace that will be affected by Y2K problems.
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Air Conditioners its Trane subsidiary), Panasonic, Carrier Corp., ClimateMaster, and Lennox, their residential air condilong list of compliant air conditioner models at its Web site. Amana, Rheem, Samsung and Ruud do not provide
Digital Watches There is anecdotal evidence that digital after 1999. Few watch manufacturers provide Y2K information. Casio reports its current products are Y2K
RU OK 4 Y2K?
Woody Leonhard, PC Computing, June 14, 1999
No doubt you're bored with the obvious Y2K concerns -mainframe applications that only work with two-digit years, calculation errors in PC-based applications, and clocks that won't update properly. Most of these fall under the rubric of "somebody else's problem." But what about your PC? Here's how to make sure you're OK when the big ball drops. Run the Clock Forward If Y2K has been on your mind, no doubt you've been tempted to advance your PC's clock to some date in the year 2000 to see if your system will continue to work. (To do this, double-click on the time in the lower right corner of the Windows 95 or 98 screen and roll the date forward.) That's a reasonable approach, but if you want to give your PC a thorough exercise, you should test three specific situations. First put the clock at 11:59 p.m., December 31, 1999, and let it run for a couple of minutes to make sure the year 2000 rollover works correctly. Then set the clock to 11:59 p.m., December 31, 2000, and make sure the year 2001 rollover works too. Finally, reboot the PC while it still thinks it's January 1, 2001, and see if the change takes. Check the BIOS -- For Real As you might imagine, several extremely bright computer people have looked intonthe PC BIOS problem in excruciating depth. Many programs, both freeware and commercial, will examine your PC's BIOS to see if it can cope with the Y2K changes. To ensure that your PC will confront the twodigit rollover with aplomb: 1. Figure out which version of which BIOS you're using -- the information usually appears when you boot the PC. 2. Armed with your BIOS version, look on the Web site of the company that manufactured your PC to see if it has posted any warnings about your particular BIOS.
One way to find out about “hidden” processes like these is to run abree Microsoft utility called WinTop under Windows 95 or 98. You can do the same thing with the Processes tab in Windows NT 4.0. This utility shows you how much CPU time various programs are consuming. If you find a process that’s doing something unusual, you can take action.WinTop is part of the Kernel Power Toys. January 1, 2000 Fast forward. It's the morning of January It’s downloadable from ww.microsoft.com/windows95/ 1, 2000, and you're just getting out of bed and stumbling to downloads/contents/wutoys/w95kerneltoy/default.asp. the PC with your first and worst headache of the century. Follow the unzip instructions, then read Wintop.txt. The You turn on your PC. Here's what you should do next.Let Microsoft Web page says the toys are only for Win95, but Windows start normally. Double-click on the clock in the I run WinZip under Win98 all the time with no problem. lower right corner (or start the Clock applet in Windows 3.x). If the Windows clock shows January 1, 2000, take Another trick that can improve performance in Windows two aspirin and go back to bed. All is well.If the Windows involves the swapfile. Windows creates this file to handle clock shows January 4, 1980 (or anything other than situations when your application and data exceed the January 1, 2000), reset it to January 1, 2000. Then exit physical RAM. Many readers configure their swapfile to Windows as usual and reboot your computer by pressing be the same size all the time. This saves Windows the the Reset button or by turning the power off, waiting 90 overhead of increasing and decreasing the swapfile’s size as seconds, and turning the power back on. If the Windows you work. How big should you make the swapfile date comes back up as January 1, 2000, take three aspirin, though? I’ve seen recommendations that you make a fixed consider hair-of-the-dog therapy, and go back to bed.If the swap file that is two to three times the size of your RAM. But date change doesn't take and you're still looking at January the truth is, the less RAM you have, the larger the swapfile 4, 1980, head to one of the BIOS firmware manufacturer you need. The best way to determine the proper size, theresites to see what is advised. Don't be too disheartened if it fore, is to make the size appropriate for your system. recommends a BIOS upgrade. The charge is $60 to $80, and installation couldn't be simpler: Insert diskette and run. Here’s a procedure (using Windows 98 as an example) to find the optimum size and lock your swapfile onto it:
3. Check with a BIOS firmware manufacturer, such as Micro Firmware (www.firmware.com), to see if it has any additional information on your BIOS.Micro Firmware also has a free downloadable program called Y2KTEST that you can use to verify your specific BIOS's Y2K capabilities. Download it from ftp://ftp.firmware.com/y2k/y2ktst.exe.
Brian Livingston, Infoworld A few advanced steps may lead you closer to restoring Windows’ snappy performance Two weeks ago, I described the problem of “Windows arthritis.” This leads people to reformat their hard drives and reinstall Windows every six months to regain its original performance. Last week, I prescribed several steps to regain performance without a complete reinstall. Many Windows slowdowns, of course, are due not to “arthritis” but to an errant application that is hogging memory or CPU time. An example is provided by reader Gilbert Anderson. One of his coworkers gradually lost cursor control for longer and longer periods when closing Microsoft Word or Excel files. It got so bad that 19 seconds were required to regain control. It turns out that the setup of Office 97 had installed the Outlook email client, which defaults to “journaling” the date/time/duration-edited of files. Anderson found more than 2,700 entries logged, even though his friend had never used Outlook. Deleting these entries and clicking Tools, Options, Journal to turn off Outlook’s logging immediately resotred the original snap.
Step 1: In Win98. run sysmon.exe. In the System Monitor window, look for a graph entitled Memory Manager: Swapfile Size. If this graph isn’t visible, pull down the Edit menu, then click Add Item, memory Manager, Swapfile Size, OK to make the graph appear. Step 2: Pull down the View menu and make sure Always On Top is selected. Then click options, Chart, and make sure an Update Interval of 3 seconds or so is selected. Step 3: Open your largest applications and their largest documents, such as word processing, spreadsheet, and graphics files. Consume RAM as you would on a major project. Step 4: In the Sytem Monitor windows, click the Swapfile Size chart. The status line should show the Peak Value of your swapfile. Note this and close all your windows. Step 5: Create a defragmented swapfile by temporarily reducing your swapfile to zero bytes and defragmenting your hard drive. To change the swapfile size to zero, run the Control Panel’s System applet. Click the Performance tab, then click the Virtual Memory button. Change the Minimum and Maximum values to zero. Restart Windows and defragment your drives. Step 6: Create a permanent swapfile at least as large as the Peak Value you found in Step 4. If you have two physical hard drives, specify the faster one for your swapfile.
LOCAL COMPUTER CLUBS
Appleholics Anonymous 2nd Sat 9:30 am 3169 Telegraph Road, Ventura Chuck Baca 805-650-7503 Tony Pizza 805-482-3453 Conejo Valley Genealogical Society 1st Tues Herb Berger, 805-497-7307 firstname.lastname@example.org CVMUG email@example.com Westminster Presbyterian Church, Camarillo General Meeting: 1st Thursday, 7 pm Novice SIG: 4th Monday Internet SIG: Quarterly Susie Herrera 805-484-2259 Commodore 64/128 Users General Meetings: 1st Sat., 10 am @ Cal Fed Bank 430 Arneill Road, Camarillo Tech Meeting: 2nd Sat, 10 am @ Boys-Girls Club 126 E. 7th Street, Oxnard BBS: 805-382-1125 Loyd Couch: 805-483-9200 Channel Islands PC Group General Meeting: 1st Sat, 9 am @ Camarillo Airport OS/2 Corner: 2nd Sat, 9:30 am www.cipcug.org Toby Scott, 805-981-1212 Gold Coast CUE of Ventura County Days vary, 4 pm Camarillo area or local school Tim Rainville, 805-525-3873 firstname.lastname@example.org Leisure Village Club 1st Friday, 10am Camarillo 1st Monday, MAC group 2nd Friday, Communications 3rd Wednesday, Novice Neil Iven, 805-383-0016 email@example.com Simi Conejo Linux User Group Meets every other Saturday at 6 pm at Nortel, 4100 Guardian Street, Simi Valleywww.psilord.com/sclug MacValleyUsers Group 1st Wednesday Wilkinson Senior Center 8956 Vanalden Street (one light east of Tampa, just south of Nordhoff), Northridge Daphne Gruberman (818) 998-7025 Simi Valley Computer User Group Main meeting: 2nd Thurs 7:30 pm Hardware/Software Meeting: 4th Wed, 7:30 pm at Simi Valley Library - SVCUG web: www.svcug.org Barbara Cott 805-581-2495 firstname.lastname@example.org Thousand Oaks Personal Computer Club 4th Thurs: 6:30pm Jan-Oct 3rd Thurs: 6:30 Nov-Dec Goebbel Sr Ctr or T.O. Library Harry Isaman 805-405-8323 www.vcnet.com/topcc TUGNET meets every Tues, 7pm Granada Pavilion 11128 Balboa.Granada Hills. www.tugnet.org Ventura Beginners PC Users’ Group 3rd Sat, 10 am Club House, Bena Ventura Mobile Home Estate 11407 Darling Road Howard Wilson 805-647-0360 Ventura Windows Publisher User Group 3rd Tuesdays, 7 pm Cal Fed Bank Bldg 430 Arneill Road, Camarillo Bob Tracy 482-7092 email@example.com
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Dennis Atherton hardware - any, networking , WIN95 setups firstname.lastname@example.org 7-11 evenings Steve Carter OS/2 email@example.com 805-598-8455 til 9 pm Barbara Cott desktop publishing, word processing, Internet, Excel, Photoshop, web pages firstname.lastname@example.org 805-581-2495 any time Howard Engel Word 6, programming in PASCAL or ADA email@example.com 805-523-7602 9 am - 10 pm Will Fiske Win95/3.11/3.1, DOS 6.2 and down to 5 firstname.lastname@example.org after 6 pm Roger Freeman online researching email@example.com 805-579-8426 before 10 Spencer Hartman Digital Research DOS 6, Novell DOS 7.0 WordPerfect 6.1 for DOS, batch files 805-522-7212 if no answer, lv msg 10 am - 10 pm Gordon Huff modems, Telix, FDISK firstname.lastname@example.org 805-499-3494 Stan Ring MS Office, WIN 95, MS Access email@example.com David Ringwood hardware firstname.lastname@example.org Oliver Stockton MS Word , Wndows 95, Beginners SimiClown@aol.com 805-581-2991 24 hours / 7 days Robert Sully Hardware Questions, OS’s (Win95 and OS/2) BASIC Programming, Beginning Visual Basic email@example.com Dee Tillman Office 97 Word, Office 97 Excel, WordPerfect, Commodore, Apple II firstname.lastname@example.org 805-526-1395, after 4 pm Gaylord Trubey DOS internet, WIN 3.x, WIN 95, software hardware email@example.com 805-526-2077 Dick Uhlman XTree (1-3), Windows, DOS Excel firstname.lastname@example.org 805-583-2174 & 805-583-2804 5pm - 8pm Karleen Volz BASIC questions, DOS WIN 3.11, WIN 95 WIN NT, basic hardware questions email@example.com 7pm - 9:30pm & weekends
http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/index.html is a scientific experiment that will harness the power of hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. There's a small but captivating possibility that your computer will detect the faint murmur of a civilization beyond Earth. SETI@home users have formed "groups": for example, students in a school, or employees of a company. Groups can compete to analyze the most data, or they can meet and discuss SETI via the web. The link: http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/team.html.
A history and future schedule of SETI@home: 1996: David Gedye, along with Craig Kasnoff, conceived the idea for SETI@home and formed the initial project team. A scientific plan was developed that received widespread academic support at the 5th International Conference in Bioastronomy in July 1996. 1997: The signal analysis code and prototypes of the client and server software were developed. 1998: Most of this year has been devoted to fundraising. In 9/98 we began working on the data recording system and on the final version of the client software. In 11/98 we plan to begin recording data and to begin testing the client software. 1999: From 1/99 through 3/99 we will test and debug the client software, develop the final version of the server software, and prepare the web site for launch. The launch is scheduled for 4/99. 2000-2001: To survey as much of the sky as possible, the experiment will run for two years. The web site will be updated regularly with progress reports, and explanations of the results found so far.
May 17, 1999. Launch! The SETI@home project is successfully underway. May 13, 1999. The Windows and Mac versions of SETI@home are now available for download. We are
upgrading our FTP server performance in preparation for the final launch on May 17. We made a snapshot of statistics from the beta-testing period, and reset all totals to zero. Congratulations to Kyle Granger, Charlie Fenton, and Brad Silen, who did a fantastic job on the Windows and Mac versions. May 4, 1999. The Windows and Mac versions of SETI@home are now in the hands of 7,000 beta testers. Problems involving firewalls and proxies are being fixed. We're on schedule for the May 17 launch. April 6, 1999. We released the UNIX version of the SETI@home client. Within a few hours, a couple of thousand people were using the program. As expected, this created a heavy load on the server for the first time, and we hastily fixed a number of problems. March 28, 1999. We are continuing beta-testing and debugging of the Windows and UNIX versions of the client. The Macintosh version is nearing completion. We're still on schedule for an April launch, though it may be towards the end of the month. February 22, 1999. Our server-side software has been modified to use an Informix relational database for all storage. January 20, 1999. The University of California Digital Media Innovation Program has awarded SETI@home a grant to match funding from our sponsors. January 20, 1999. The Windows version of the client now seems to be stable, and we have expanded testing to about 50 users. We have started porting the client to Macintosh, and are also rewriting the server-side software to allow it to handle 100,000+ users. November 20, 1998. Today we began testing the SETI@home screensaver with real users. Our first distribution was to 3 users, and over the next few months we will ramp up to 100 or so. November 20, 1998. The data recording system is completed and operational at Arecibo. We have begun recording and collecting tapes (35 Gigabytes each) of the data the will eventually be distributed to SETI@home users. October 7 1998. We have received some funding commitments (announcements forthcoming). We have begun development of the data recorder and the data-handling software, and are continuing development of the client software. July 30 1998. Several dozen volunteer programmers have contributed to the development of the client program, and volunteers from around the world have translated the web page into several languages. Engineering Design Team
Inc. (EDT) has donated analog-to-digital interfaces for the data collection system. We continue to seek the funding that we need to complete the science-only version of the system. We have some good possibilities, but nothing definite so far. Because of this, the schedule for the science-only version has slipped at least a couple of months. June 10 1998. The UC Berkeley SETI program received the Smithsonian Institute medal for first place in 1998 science and technology innovation. More.... June 1998.Sun Microsystems has agreed to make a donation of computer hardware to SETI@home. This donation is of major importance, as the computers will form the backbone of our data recording and distribution systems. May 1998. The Center for Electronic Art in San Francisco is running a workshop to design an enhanced Web site and other graphical elements for SETI@home. March 1998.The Planetary Society has offered its support to the project as a co-sponsor, and will be assisting us in recruiting other sponsors. September 1997.More than 35,000 people have joined the SETI@home mailing list, many after seeing Dan Werthimer discuss the project on the Discovery Channel. Also during September -- the first magnetic tape of test data from Arecibo was returned to Berkeley. This will be used to test the analysis algorithms, and get an initial sense of the terrestrial interference characteristics. August 1997.Dan Werthimer was interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered. Other stories this month included one by PC World. The SETI@home mailing list grew to 10,000 people. Senior members of the SETI Institute accepted invitations to sit on our advisory board. June 1997. The SETI@home web site was established, and David Gedye was interviewed by theNew York Times.
use a smaller computer but just take longer to do it. But then there would be lots of data piling up. What if they used LOTS of small computers, all working simultaneously on different parts of the analysis? Where can the SETI team possibly find thousands of computers they’d need to analyze the data continuously streaming from Arecibo? The UC Berkeley SETI team has discovered that there are already thousands of computers that might be available for use. Most of these computers sit around most of the time with toasters flying across their screens accomplishing absolutely nothing and wasting electricity to boot. This is where SETI@home (and you!) come into the picture. The SETI@home project hopes to convince you to allow us to borrow your computer when you aren’t using it and to help us “…search out new life and new civilizations.” We’ll do this with a screen saver that can go get a chunk of data from us over the internet, analyze that data, and then report the results back to us. When you need your computer back, our screen saver instantly gets out of the way and only continues it’s analysis when you are finished with your work. It’s an interesting and difficult task. There’s so much data to analyze that it seems impossible! Fortunately, the data analysis task can be easily broken up into little pieces that can all be worked on separately and in parallel. None of the pieces depends on the other pieces. Also, there is only a finite amount of sky that can be seen from Arecibo. In the next two years the entire sky as seen from the telescope will be scanned three times. We feel that this will be enough for this project. By the time we’ve looked at the sky three times, there will be new telescopes, new experiments, and new approaches to SETI. We hope that you will be able to participate in them too!
How SETI@home works
Story by Ron Hipschman
The Problem — Mountains of Data
Most of the SETI programs in existance today, including those at UC Berkeley build large computers that analyze that data from the telescope in real time. None of these computers look very deeply at the data for weak signals nor do they look for a large class of signal types (which we’ll discuss further on...) The reason for this is because they are limited by the amount of computer power available for data analysis. To tease out the weakest signals, a great amount of computer power is necessary. It would take a monstrous supercomputer to get the job done. SETI programs could never afford to build or buy that computing power. There is a trade-off that they can make. Rather than a huge computer to do the job, they could
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Breaking Up the Data
Data will be recorded on high-density tapes at the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, filling about one 35 Gbyte DLT tape per day. Because Arecibo does not have a high bandwidth Internet connection, the data tape must go by snail-mail to Berkeley. The data is then divided into 0.25 Mbyte chunks (which we call “work-units”). These are sent from the Seti@Home server over the Internet to people around the world to analyze.
STORY OF THE SETI@HOME SCREENSAVER
Story by Ron Hipschman The SETI@home screen saver at http:// setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/screensaver/index.html is a complicated piece of scientific analytical software. It performs a large set of mathematical operations on the data that you are downloading from the Berkeley SETI program. What you see on the screen gives you only a glimpse of what is happening inside your computer. The SETI@home screensaver display is broken into four main sections: User Info Data Info Data Analysis Frequency-Time-Power graph
large database. Although the data in the work-units overlap slightly to make sure we don’t miss anything, no two people will ever get the same work-unit. When the work-units are returned to us, they are merged back into the database and marked “done.” Our computers look for a new ork-unit for you to process and send it out, marking it “in progress” in the database. If we don’t hear back from you for a long time, we’ll assume that you’ve abandoned us (and boy, should you feel guilty!) and we will
What is SETI@home Looking For?
So, what will you be doing for us? What exactly will you be looking for in the data? The easiest way to answer that question is to ask what we expect extraterrestrials to send. We expect that they would want to send us a signal in the most efficient manner for THEM that would allow US t easiy det t m essage.N ow,i t ns outthat o l ect he t ur
Extra Credit Section:
How the data is broken up
SETI@home looks at 2.5 MHz of data, centered at 1420 MHz. This is still too broad a spectrum to send to you for analysis, so we break this spectrum space up into 256 pieces, each 10 kHz wide (actually 9766 Hz, but we'll simplify the numbers to make calculations easier to see). This is done with a software program called the “splitter”. These 10 kHz pieces are now more managable in size. To record signals up to 10 KHz you have to record the bits at 20,000 bits per second (kbps). (This is called the Nyquist frequency.) We send you about 107 seconds of this 10 kHz (20kbps) data. 100 seconds times 20,000 bits equals 2,000,000 bits, or about 0.25 megabyte given that there are 8 bits per byte. Again, we call this 0.25 megabyte chunk a “work-unit.” We also send you lots of additional info about the work-unit, so the total comes out to about 340 kbytes of data.
sending a message on many frequencies is not efficient. It takes lots of power. If one concentrates the power of the message into a very narrow frequency range (narrow bandwidth) the signal is easier to weed out
from the background noise. This is especially important since we assume that they are far enough away that their signal will be very weak by the time it get to us. So, we’re not looking for a broadband signal (spread over many frequencies), we’re looking for a tuning your radio set to various channels, and looking at the signal strength meter. If the strength meter goes up, that gets our attention. Another factor that helps reject local (earth-based and satellite-based) signals is that local sources are more or less constant. They maintain their intensity over time. On the other hand, the Arecibo telescope is fixed in position. When SETI@home is in operation, the telescope does not track the stars. Because of this, the sky “drifts” past the focus of the telescope. It takes about 12 seconds for a target to cross the focus (or “target beam”) of the dish. We therefore expect an extraterrestrial signal to get louder and then softer over a 12 second period. Since we are looking for this 12 second “gaussian” signal, we send you about 100 seconds of data. Also, we allow the data in the work-units to overlap a little so wewon’t miss an important signal by cutting it off early in the analysis.
Sending You the Data
SETI@home connects only when transferring data. This occurs only when the screen saver has finished analyzing the work-unit and wants to send back the results (and get another work-unit.) automatically as soon as it’s done with the current work-unit. The data transmission lasts for less than 5 minutes with most common modems and we’ll disconnect immediately after all data is transferred. We keep track of the work-units here in Berkeley with a
If you have RealAudio, you can click on the graphs to listen to simulations of what it might sound like (though remember that these signals are radio waves, not sound waves…)
If our stellar friends are trying to put actual information on their signal (very likely), the signal will most certainly be pulsed. We’ll be looking for this too. It’s unlikely that our two planetary systems will be motionless with respect to each other. Because of this, there is likely tobe a “doppler shifting” or changing frequency, of the signal because of our relative motions. This might cause the signal to rise or fall in frequency slightly over the 12 seconds. These are called “chirped” signals. We’ll check for this too.Of course, we’ll also be checking for a doppler shifting (chirped) signal sound that contains pulses too!
This graph (typical of the others below) shows time progressing along the horizontal X-axis. The vertical Y-axis represents the frequency, or pitch, of the signal. Here you see a broadband signal. Many frequencies all mixed together. Note that the signal starts out weak (dim) at the left, and gets louder (brighter), reaching a maximum in the center of the
Extra Credit Section:
More detail on the analysis
The SETI@home software searches for signals about 10
times weaker than the SERENDIP IV search at Arecibo, because it makes use of a computationally intensive algorithm called “coherent integration.” No one else (including the SERENDIP program) has had the computing power to implement this method. Your computer performs fast fourier transforms on the data, looking for strong signals at various combinations of frequency, bandwidth, and chirp rates. The following steps are taken on each of the work-units you get from us. Let’s look first at the most computationally intensive portion of the calculation. The first job is to “de-chirp” the data - that is, to remove all the effects of the doppler acceleration. At the finest resolution, we have to do this a total of 5000 times, from -5 Hz/sec to +5 Hz/sec in
graph 6 seconds. This is what we would expect from an extra-terrestrial signal as it drifts past the telescope. Unfortunately, we are not looking for broadband sources. This is probably what a star or other natural astronomical source would look like. Broadband sources are rejected.Here you can see the signal is much narrower in frequency range. It also gets stronger and weaker over a 12 second period. We don’t know how narrow the bandwidth will be, so we’ll check for signals at several bandwidths.
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The next step doubles the bandwidth again (from 0.15 to 0.3 Hz) and again reduces the chirps by 1/4. (We maintain the -10 Hz/sec to +10 Hz/sec chirp range for the rest of the calculations.) This step (and all successive steps) take 1/4 the calculation of the previous step. In this case only 12.5 billion calculations. This continues for a total of 14 doublings of bandwidth (0.07, 0.15, 0.3, 0.6, 1.2, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40, 75, 150, 300, 600, and 1200 Hz) to bring you to a grand total of slightly more than 175 billion operations on the 107 seconds of data.
steps of .002 Hz/sec. At each chirp-rate, the 107 seconds of data is de-chirped and then divided into 8 blocks of 13.375 seconds each. Each 13.375 second block is then examined with a bandwidth of .07 Hz for peaks (that’s 131,072 tests (frequencies) per block per chirp rate!) This is a LOT of calculation! In this first step, you computer does about 100 billion calculations! We’re not finished, we still have to test other bandwidths too. The next step doubles the bandwidth to 0.15 Hz. Starting at this bandwidth, we double the chirp range and look at chirp rates from -10 Hz/sec to +10 Hz/sec. Even though this doubles the range, we only have to examine 1/4 the number of rates due to the increase in bandwidth. So we have twice the chirp range times 1/4 the number of chirps. You see we end up doing about 1/2 the amount of work we did above at the highest resolution narrow bandwidth, or about 50 billion calculations. Piece of cake...
As you can see we actually do most of our work at the narrowest bandwidth (about 70% of the work.) Finally, signals that show a strong power at some particular combination of frequency, bandwidth and chirp are subjected to a test for terrestrial interference. Only if the power rises and then falls over a 12 second period (the time it takes the telescope to pass a spot in the sky) can the signal be tentatively considered extraterrestrial in nature.How long should all these computations take? An average, current model home home computer of reasonable power (with a CPU running around 233 MHz) should take about 24 hours to complete one work-unit. This assumes that the computer ONLY works on SETI@home, not playing your favorite game. Also remember that we collect over 200,000 work-units of data every day!
Now you know why we need your help!
What If My Computer Discovers E.T.? What happens?
Before we can get to the “what happens” part, we should let you know more about the “what if” part. One of the most important things to know about this data and the results of your analysis is that there are LOTS of sources of radio signals. Many are produced here on earth. TV stations, radar, various other microwave transmitters.
Page 10 July, 1999
the system so the SETI@home team can confirm that the hardware and software is working properly at all points through the system. The Arecibo radio telescope will pick up all these signals and happily send them along to your screen saver. The radio telescope doesn’t care about any of these signals just as your ear doesn’t care about what sounds it collects. Your screen saver is going to sift through the signals looking for any source that is “louder” that the background and also rises and falls in 12 seconds - the time the telescope takes to pass over a spot in the sky. Any signals that qualify will be sent back to the Berkeley SETI@home team for further analysis. The SETI@home team maintains a large database of known radio-frequency interference (RFI) sources. This database is constantly updated. At this point 99.9999% of all the signals that your screen saver detects will be thrown out as RFI. Test signals are also removed at this point. Remaining unresolved signals are then checked against another observation from the same part of the sky. This could take up to 6 months since the SETI@home team does not have control of the telescope. If the signal is confirmed, the SETI@home team will request dedicated telescope time and will re-observe the most interesting candidates. If a signal is observed two or more times, and it’s not RFI or a test signal, the SETI@home team will ask another group to take a look. This other group will be using different telescopes, receivers, computers, etc. This will hopefully rule out a bug in our equipment or our computer code (or a clever student playing a prank...) Together with the other team, SETI@home will do interferometry measurements (it takes two observations separated by a big distance) This can confirm that the source of the signal is at interstellar distances. If this is confirmed, SETI@home will make an announcement in the form of an IAU (International Astronomical Union) telegram. This is a standard way of informing the astronomical community of important discoveries. The telegram contains all of the important information (frequencies, bandwidth, location in the sky, etc.) that would be necessary for other astronomical groups to confirm the observation. The person(s) who found the signal with their screen saver would be named as one of the co-discoverers along with the others on the SETI@home team. At this point we would still be unsure if the signal was generated by an intelligent civilization or maybe some new astronomical phenomenon. All information about the discovery will be made public, probably via the web. No country or individual would be allowed to jam the frequency the signal is observed on.
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Since the object will rise and set as seen from any given location, observations from radio observatories around the world will be necessary. This will, by necessity, be a multi-national effort. All this information will be made public. The official Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence can be viewed by clicking this link or if you aren’t reading this over the internet, go to http:// www.seti-inst.edu/post-detection.html. Because of this protocol, it is important that participants in the SETI@home project do not get excited when they see signals on their screen and go off on their own making announcements and calling the press. This could be very damaging to the project. It’s important that we keep our heads cool and our computers hot while they grind away at the data. We can all hope that we will be the one that helps receive the signal of some extraterrestrial civilization trying to “phone home.” Simi Valley Computer User Group is a non-profit special interest group for the benefit of anyone interested in learning more about computers and how to use them.Meetings are held twice a month. The General Meeting meets at 7:30 pm on the second Thursday of each month, the Hardware / Software Meeting is held at the same time on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The meetings areheld at the Simi Valley Public Library, in the Community Room. If you need further information about the meetings, call Barbara Cott at 805-581-2495 or Gerry Scott at 818-341-7107. Further information can be found at ww.svcug.org or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visitors are welcome to come and see what our group is all about without obligation to join. However, if you find our meetings to be beneficial to you, we hope you will join and support our group. Dues are $24 per year or $13 for 6 months. It has to say this: Simi Valley Computer User Group (SVCUG), consisting of its officers and membership, is notaffiliated with any computer hardware or software manufacturers. Articles contained in this publication may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of SVCUG. SVCUG makes no warranty of the suitability or inability to use any product or service.
Simi Valley Computer User Group Officers
President Barbara Cott 805-581-2495 email@example.com Vice President Gaylord Trubey 805-526-2077 firstname.lastname@example.org Secretary Gerry Scott 818-341-7107 email@example.com Treasurer Howard Engel 805-523-7602 firstname.lastname@example.org M.C. Dennis Atherton 805-581-2495 email@example.com SYSOP Lee Barton 805-527-0181 firstname.lastname@example.org Warp Zone BBS 1st line 805-526-6196 2nd line, 805-522-1927 (member line)
Small member ads (business card size) are free. 1/4 pg - $25/mo 1/2 pg - $50/month full pg - $100/month Send camera ready art to Editor by mail /e-mail or call 805-581-2495. Should be in ASCII. Deadline is near the end of the month.
Be, Incorporated will be in the LA area on July 13th from 7- 9 pm
at the LA Computer Society Meeting. Our User Group is welcome to attend. They will be giving a demo of BeOS, answering questions and providing items for a raffle. If anyone is interested, we have a demo video and a review copy of the BeOS for our User Group to take a look at and share. For more information about the meeting, go to http://lacspc.org.
Ask for User Group Rate
Simi Valley Computer User Group
2718 Kadota Street Simi Valley, CA 93063
Next Meeting - July 8 - 7:30pm
(at the Simi Valley Library)
Y2K Testing on Lotsa Computers
(call 805-581-2495 if you want to bring yours)
Jesse’s Y2K Home Checklist ------------------------- Front Consumer FAQ: Appliances ------------------------- Front RU OK 4 Y2K? --------------------------------------------- 3 Restoring Windows’ Snappy Performance -------------- 4 Local computer clubs --------------------------------------- 5 Need Help? --------------------------------------------------- 5 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence ------------ 6 How SETI@home Works ---------------------------------- 7 Story of the SETI@home Screensaver ------------------ 8 What If My Computer Discovers ET? ------------------ 10 Membership Information --------------------------------- 11 Advertising Information ------------------------------- Back SVCUG Officers ---------------------------------------- Back BeOS Demo Tour --------------------------------------- Back