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Updated: 1 October 2003

Message Of The Day Chebucto News Archive

Hurricane Juan devastates Halifax

The devastation caused by Sunday's arrival of Hurricane Juan is still being cleaned up and Dalhousie University buildings are closed until Monday, October 6th. Power to the Chase Building was restored late Wednesday afternoon and at the time of this writing (5 pm Wednesday, October 1st) the Chebucto text service is back online but Chebucto Plus graphical access is still down and network access to the outside world is very slow.

Techs have been notified of power being restored. The Chebucto Office requests that users please do not call to enquire about services being unavailable. Chebucto services will be restored as soon as possible. Due to the closing of the Chase Building by Dalhousie University, the Chebucto Office will be closed to the public until Monday, October 6th.

Chebucto userbase grows!

As of September 9th this year, the Chebucto Office reports that there are now more users of the Chebucto Community Net service than this time last year, reversing a slow decline in user numbers that has been ongoing since 1996 when Chebucto was one of only two internet providers in Halifax.

A steady stream of new members has been responsible for the growth in numbers, mostly from the closing of Dalhousie University's in-house Premium Dial-Up Service, but increasingly from the local community as well. The increase in numbers is not enough to put any extra strain on any Chebucto services and there are plans in place to expand services as the demand increases.

Alert: New worm hits unpatched Windows computers!

A new worm targetting Windows computers disguised as an email from Microsoft is spreading across the internet. The new worm is called W32.Swen and is spread by email, by Peer to Peer networks like Kazaa and by IRC (Internet Relay Chat). The email version claims to be a Windows Update from Microsoft which says you need to run the attached file to protect yourself against vulnerabilities in the Windows Operating System and Internet Explorer web browser. Despite the plausible sounding language of the email, Microsoft never distributes Operating System updates by email. This worm exploits a vulnerability in all versions of Microsoft Windows. We recommend Windows users run antivirus software with current updated virus definitions. All major antivirus programs released updates today (September 18, 2003) to protect against W32.Swen.

As always we also strongly advise all of our users with computers running Microsoft Windows (all versions but especially Windows XP and Windows 2000) to keep updated with the latest security updates from Microsoft's own Windows Update site. There are major security holes in the Microsoft Windows Operating System, Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser and Microsoft's Outlook Express email program which can be fixed with these software patches. Microsoft Office users should also check with Microsoft for patches for recent vulnerabilities.

Unpatched versions of these Microsoft products are vulnerable to many viruses, worms, trojan programs and exploits where hostile users can get access to your computer and files. Users are strongly advised to keep current with Service Packs and Critical Updates for Microsoft products, which are released on a regular basis. Since the beginning of September there have been several new Critical level updates released.

Chebucto Services update

Since a dramatic increase in the amount of incoming mail earlier this summer flooded our system, Chebucto has put in place a powerful new mail filtering server to remove viruses and tag spam for later filtering. Mail volumes now are typically two to three times higher than they were this spring, the majority of the increased traffic being viruses and spam. While work continues on setting up a more powerful replacement for Chebucto's main server, various strategies to try to reduce the system load on the old server have met with mixed success.

Chebucto's main server, halifax, handles mail to Chebucto users including the actual filtering of the spam tagged by our mail filtering servers as well as being a file and web server and handling the text service phone lines. One strategy tried was to move the text service phone lines to another server to help reduce the load on halifax. While this succeeded, it was discovered that the new setup could not be accessed by text dialup users with 1200 and 2400 baud modems and several text service users reported download problems on the text service. The phone lines are presently back on halifax and are once again working at full capacity. The Chebucto Plus 56 K dialup service was not affected by this issue.

Cool new Chebucto hats available!

[Photo: New Chebucto hat - click to see larger photo]   We now have available excellent quality Chebucto Community Net hats. Click on photo to see larger version. These fashionable stone coloured washed cotton Chino twill hats are low fitting with adjustable strap and antique silver ring buckle for a perfect fit and are embroidered with the Chebucto Community Net logo and web address. Machine washable and drip dry with a pre curved peak, this hat will provide years of comfortable wear as well as showing your support for Halifax's own one-of-a-kind independent Community Net.

You can get your very own Chebucto Community Net hat from the Chebucto office for $20 or we can mail it out to you for an additional $10.

Chebucto Newspaper Column Give-aways!

[Photo: New Chebucto Mousepad] Chebucto's Mousepad newspaper column, written by Chebucto Board member Mark Alberstat with occasional help from some fellow Chebucto volunteers, is being well received and a fifth free mousepad for a column idea has been sent out. The column is published every second week in the Sunday Chronicle Herald. The Mousepad focuses on computers and internet technologies and how they can be used by people for an almost infinite variety of purposes. People can write in questions to the column and if they are used they will get a cool new Chebucto Community Net mousepad. Email questions to the Mousepad at

Chebucto mousepads may be purchased from the Chebucto Office for $10 each or mailed out for $15 each. Contact to order.

Chebucto Users still tops in *.NS.CA SETI processing

SETI, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, has been processing their radio telescope data with home users' computers for years now. Using an innovative screensaver which runs whenever the user computer is not in use, SETI has had more than 1,637,000 years of high quality computer processor time donated to it.

Of all the computer domains ending in the letters NS.CA, denoting Nova Scotia, now ranks number one, producing more than double the results of both the government of Nova Scotia and the vast resources of EdNet, the schools network combined. Current stats here. Chebucto users have sent in more than 23,000 results, representing more than 47 years of CPU time that would otherwise have been wasted.

SETI is about to complete a new observation phase, targetting the top 200 candidate signals for direct observation using the full resources of the world's largest radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Outlook user email advisory

After the continuing wave of viruses specifically targetting users of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express email programs, and the constant stream of user complaints about randomly altered program settings and difficulty using the program, the Chebucto Community Net Office and the Chebucto Technical Committee recommend our users do not use either Outlook or Outlook Express as their email program.

Windows Users can find a selection of email programs available for download here and Macintosh users can find a selection of email programs here.



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